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New York Terror Attack; The Trump Presidency; Court Documents Reveal Manafort Wealth, Russian Ties; Lawmakers Grill Tech Giants On Foreign Meddling; Hollywood Sex Abuse Scandal Widening. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired November 2, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour:
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Federal terrorism charges filed against Sayfullo Saipov as investigators reveal stunning details about the New York bike trail attack.
VAUSE (voice-over): It's taken the U.S. President a little more than a day to call for tougher immigration rules, quick justice for terrorists and even the death penalty for the accused.
SESAY (voice-over): And Putin's propaganda; lawmakers believe social media ads bought by Russian troll farms to divide America and influence its election.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE (voice-over): I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us for this third hour of NEWSROOM L.A.
VAUSE: The FBI has now questioned a second person believed connected to Tuesday' terrorist attack in New York, which killed eight people. Investigators believe he has information about the driver, who ran down pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path. (INAUDIBLE) his associate.
But little else is known about who the second person is or how they may be connected if at all. Meantime the main suspect has been charged with federal terrorism crimes. Sayfullo Saipov is accused of providing material support to ISIS and violence and destruction of motor vehicles. These are sketches from his court appearance on Wednesday.
SESAY: When he shared new details with police about his plans, including his intentions to continue the attack and hit pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge. In the two months he spent preparing for the rampage, it was also no accident the attack happened on Halloween night.
Police say Saipov knew more people would be out and vulnerable on the street. He very nearly decided to fly the ISIS flag from his truck as he mowed down civilians but he thought it might foil his attack before it started by drawing attention to him.
Saipov then wanted to fly that flag from his hospital room after he was apprehended, he expressed no remorse, saying he was proud and that he set out to kill as many people as he could.
One NYPD official says the attack was straight out of the ISIS playbook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He appears to have followed almost exactly to a T the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels before with instructions to their followers on how to carry out such an attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: With us now, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, Brian Levin, and CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Baer.
Bob, let's start with you. We now have less than 90 minutes after the FBI first put out those wanted posters, looking for the second person of interest. They now have him; they're now questioning him. We don't know a lot about him but we do know that they went public to try and find him.
And this investigation started with those concentric circles of those closest to the main suspect here.
Put all that together.
What does that say about this man now being questioned?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, right now they're looking for a cell, the possibility of a second or more attacks. They have to consider this is going to be in coordination with other people. It's fairly standard to go after all acquaintances, anybody who appears to be radicalized.
When they get down at the investigation, they may let this person go. They just don't know. But this is -- you are always looking what the imminent threat is. Make sure this guy was not a lone wolf if he was.
He will be talking to people because these attacks are so easy to carry out with stolen or rented trucks and this cell came as a surprise to them, in the sense that there was no communications signaling his plans and intentions or even membership in the Islamic State -- John.
SESAY: Brian, to bring you in here, let's put for our viewers the tweet just put out by U.S. president that John referenced a short time ago.
This is what President Trump said in a tweet, "NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed eight people. Badly injured 12. Should get death penalty."
The president referring to the complaint that was filed against Saipov in court, which is where we got this information about hanging the flag and saying that he was happy with what he had achieved.
What does that tell us about this individual?
The pride, wanting to display the ISIS, what does that tell us?
What can we read into it?
BRIAN LEVIN, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF HATE AND EXTREMISM: What we can read into it is that the propaganda worked, that he was radicalized. And what we have to see, as Mr. Baer pointed out, is was he a loner?
Was he a duo?
Was he part of an autonomous cell or a directed cell?
LEVIN: And right now based on the relative lack of sophistication of the attack, it's seemed along with the fact that daish or ISIS' territory is so vastly constricted, that this is an example of something we've seen for some time, which are people who are inspired, given some technical knowhow over the Web.
Maybe there some peer locally, who assisted in some way in either radicalizing or helping to plan. But what it shows is that even without a geographic caliphate, daish or ISIS will continue to live on even after their leadership is decimated, their command and control structure is dismantled and their geographic expanse constrained.
VAUSE: The authorities have revealed a lot more details about Saipov's connection to ISIS. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also a search of cell phones found in a bag that he was carrying, a search conducted pursuant to court authorized wiretaps, revealed thousands of ISIS-related images and 90 videos, about 90 videos, depicting, among other things, ISIS fighters killing prisoners by running over them with a tank, beheading them and shooting them in the face.
In Mirandized interview statements with law enforcement last night and today, Saipov allegedly admitted that he was inspired to commit the attack by the ISIS videos he watched and had been planning this attack for two months.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Bob, so explain the impact, what the impact is when exposure to that violent imagery over an extended period of time, 90 videos, thousands of photographs, violent photographs.
Does that seem excessive or is that pretty typical of someone who's been radicalized by this?
BAER: That's pretty typical. I mean the Islamic State is at the end of the day a death cult, apocalyptic death cult. And the imaging of cutting off the heads of the journalists, of blowing up Palmyra and Mosul and the rest of it. They're just trying to -- it's them against the world and they're thinking in terms of survival.
As far as we know, he was not particularly well versed in Islam and has simply taken this version of Islam, the Islamic State, the most radical that there truly has ever been. And it's a self recruiting mechanism. Why people are attracted to violence, that's beyond my understanding.
But it's fairly typical. The problem for the FBI is just because people download these images, that's not a crime. A lot of people look at these, a lot of academics look at them. So this guy, right now he still looks like a lone wolf, inspired by the Islamic State and again he's -- someone like this is very, very difficult to detect and stop.
VAUSE: Just very quickly, Bob, you said it's not illegal to download these images.
But shouldn't there be a red flag?
Is there any way to track this?
BAER: The FBI tells me there's so many people, including in this country, downloading this stuff it's hard to keep track of. It's a fire hose of images on the Internet, chat rooms, hate mail and the rest of it. They're just sort of overwhelmed and they've got to wait for someone to travel out of the country or buy a weapon or start to make a bomb before they can really move in and arrest them.
SESAY: Brian, back to you, the details we have of the material he was exposed to and the quantity and variety, is that enough to complete the circle of radicalization?
Or do you need a human element to make sure he crosses over to the other side?
LEVIN: That is a great question and what we've seen is, in many instances, hybridization, in other words, someone will read this propaganda, look at the videos, but there will be a handler. Not necessarily someone connected to daish but someone who is a fellow traveler.
So the key here -- and I think Bob has made a good point -- so far looks like lone wolf. But as the FBI and the NYPD roll up all his connections, network analysis, forensics, digital footprints, we're going to see how far this went.
But we've had over a dozen of these types of attacks and many, particularly here in the United States, where we don't have foreign fighters go back and forth, we're seeing increasingly people who -- including those who attacked our community in San Bernardino -- were radicalized here.
VAUSE: Explain this to me, Brian. When we look at those images, we're disgusted. We find them abhorrent. We find it really difficult to look at.
How is it that someone looks at those images and thinks --
VAUSE: -- that's great, that's what I want to do. Bring it on.
Why is there such a different, visceral reaction between someone like Saipov and everybody else?
Most other people?
LEVIN: Well, first of all, what we have to remember is that there has been a significant attack against the West by these very propagandists, who are saying the United States and their allies are killing children overseas. They're supporting Syria and all that kind of stuff.
And when we have people, who might be unstable or who are feeding into either a splintered and tribalistic social media set of platforms, that's what we see. But one of the things we see even nationally, forgetting about extremists, is that people who are engaging in social media tend to look at confirmatory information that confirms their own biases.
This is an extreme example. Let me just say one thing because this is very important. Our research has shown that, oftentimes, hate crimes go up after terror attacks and I would caution, yes, this is a death cult. This is not mainstream Islam and I would hate to see people acting as vigilantes against innocents, who have had nothing to do with this.
SESAY: Bob, to send it to you, to that point of -- that you made that, in the case of Saipov, as we're learning, his understanding of Islam was fairly weak, fairly limited. We have seen that time and time again, that the Muslims who take up this cause, so to speak, are not necessarily devout. They had maybe a case of criminality in their past and then they pivoted to extremism and this kind of terroristic violence.
BAER: Brian's absolutely right and you're right, too, about they're not versed in Islam. I'm willing to bet this man has not read the Quran. He's not conversant in Arabic. All he knows is Islam is a vehicle for righting wrongs.
And he came from the Furigana Valley in Uzbekistan, which has been under violent suppression by the Soviet Union for years and years. He comes to this country; he's marginalized, doesn't speak English well and he looks at the bombings in Raqqa and Mosul and says, my people are being destroyed and I have to fight back.
And cutting off people's heads and the rest of it or mowing them down in New York City, for him, is an act of justice.
VAUSE: Yes. And the fear now is there will be many more people like this.
LEVIN: And we've seen over a dozen of these attacks just in recent years.
VAUSE: Brian and Bob, thanks to you both for being with us.
SESAY: Thank you.
VAUSE: Well, time and time again, at moments of national tragedy U.S. presidents have offered reassurance and calm but not Donald Trump, who decided to lash out at the justice system, calling it a joke, soft on terrorists and a whole lot more. Details after the break.
SESAY: In the aftermath of Tuesday's terror attack in New York, the U.S. president spoke by phone on Wednesday with both the mayor of New York City and the New York state governor to offer them federal assistance. The president also called for tighter immigration restrictions.
VAUSE: In particular, he wants to scrap a visa program the suspect used to enter the U.S. legally in 2010. And the president seemed to blame Democrats for the attack. He also singled out the U.S. justice system for special ridicule.
This is what he said followed by the White House press secretary saying, well, he didn't say it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We need quick justice and we need strong justice. Much quicker and much stronger than we have right now because what we have right now is a joke and it's a laughing stock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why did the president call the U.S. justice system a joke and a laughing stock during his comments (INAUDIBLE)?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That's not what he said.
ACOSTA: He said that the system of justice in this country --
SANDERS: He said that process -- he said the process has people calling us a joke and calling us a laughing stock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Well, joining us, Democratic strategist, Matt Littman, who is not a joke or a laughing stock, despite going out dressing as a giant hot dog for trick-or-treat last night during Halloween -- and there he is.
VAUSE: No one can pull off a costume like that and we applaud you for it.
Also we have Republican strategist -- welcome, Christopher.
CHRISTOPHER METZLER: -- dressed as a Democratic strategist.
SESAY: Welcome, gentlemen.
VAUSE: It was too good. You're welcome.
Christopher, the idea that the criminal justice system is a joke, it's slow, that bad guys walk free, that's a very popular theme here (INAUDIBLE) conservative media, especially (INAUDIBLE).
However, Human Rights First found quite the opposite. Federal (INAUDIBLE) criminal courts have convicted more than 620 individuals on terrorism related charges since 9/11; military commissions have convicted only eight.
Federal prisons hold more than 400 individuals convicted of terrorism related offenses. None have ever escaped.
So is he saying what he believes the base wants to hear, which is in stark contrast to what other presidents have done, at moment like this when it's been an attempt to unify the country?
METZLER: I think actually that's what he's doing. This appears to me to be red meat for the base. VAUSE: You're the Republican, right?
METZLER: I am.
METZLER: Yes. But look, the reality is it's red meat to the base and it has no reality in anything. I'm not sure if, when you stand behind the White House podium, something happens to you that makes you want to create stuff out of whole cloth, because it was clear what the president said. There is no interpretation.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) we don't take these things, that there's no --
MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don't think it's -- I don't think something happens to anybody who stands behind the White House podium. I think it's specific to Sarah Sanders and Donald Trump --
LITTMAN: -- and Sean Spicer. I think it's specific to this administration. You can count on Donald Trump; he's really done a great job of bringing everybody together, calling the mayor of New York City and the senator and the governor, maybe going to the Argentinian embassy.
He hasn't done any of that stuff, of course. The president is really supposed to unite the country, especially around a terror attack. This president just (INAUDIBLE).
SESAY: (INAUDIBLE) at that point (INAUDIBLE) it is also the fact that the president predicates his response to mass killings, deadly violence, on who the perpetrator is. So he throws out the facts and then he kind of formulates his position, depending on who pulled the trigger, who caused the loss of life, the difference we've seen between Vegas and New York.
LITTMAN: Yes, I think in Vegas he said we had to wait and see. And speaking to what you're saying here, he's trying to appeal to his base. His base at this point, he now has 32 percent support in the United States. So his base keeps shrinking and shrinking. He's appealing to a smaller and smaller group of people.
Of course if anything is perpetrated by a minority whether that person is -- especially if that person believes in Islam, is Muslim, then he's going to go right after that person. If that person is white, he doesn't go after them.
The man who carried out the attack who came into the United States from Uzbekistan on this green card lottery and the president is using this attack as a reason for scrapping the program.
[02:20:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're being strapped by Democrats because they're obstructionists and honestly they don't want too what's right for our country. We need strength, we need resolve. We have to stop it.
So we're going to get rid of this lottery program as soon as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: He went on, blaming Democrat Chuck Schumer because he backed this program more than 20 years ago. He failed to leave out a couple of crucial facts here in particular, Christopher, when the bill was passed it had bipartisan support. It was passed by a Republican president.
And then Jeff Flake also tweeted this out, "Actually the Gang of Eight, including Senator Schumer, did away with the diversity visa program as a part of broader reforms. I know, I was there."
That actually stalled in the House after the Senate passed it. But these are crucial facts and it gets to the point of the president playing politics in a moment of national tragedy.
METZLER: It does and unfortunately for us as Republicans, this president has an uncomfortable relationship with the truth. And so for us it as Republican continues to make us look at this kind of gang of idiots, if you will, and that's unfortunate for the party.
Because for me as someone who is a conservative and a Republican, this is not the way we should be proceeding. Facts are what the facts are. There's nothing you can do about that. The facts are what they are.
But he's trying to really appeal to this very narrow base. He's losing independents and that's the issue. And they're simply not getting that. That concerns me greatly in terms of the future of the Republican Party.
LITTMAN: Can I use gang of idiots from now on?
SESAY: You certainly may.
LITTMAN: -- that there's a diversity lottery, how excited he must have been about that. I'm sure he didn't know about it two days ago. And now that's red meat.
SESAY: And Matt, he's also doing something else, apart from just appealing to his base, when he talks about Chuck Schumer and effectively saying this is your baby. You carry this. He's also tapping into the narrative about Democrats being weak on national security. That's also what he's trying to do here.
At this stage of where we are right now, how damaging is that?
Or do people just --
LITTMAN: Well, I don't think it's damaging at all. First of all, Chuck Schumer, it's not damaging at all to Chuck Schumer, who's very popular in New York, certainly. But I don't think anybody is looking at this as a Democratic problem. That's just Trump flailing,
I think that the country is getting used to it. Let's remember that two-thirds of the country right now doesn't support Trump. It also came out today that he's getting his political advice from on a lot of this stuff from Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, which may be slightly better than getting it from your microwave and your toaster oven and that he no longer trusts Jared Kushner to give him political advice.
Which is obviously -- that's a smart decision on his part. But I think when he makes these decisions, this is Bannon in his head.
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) that reporting comes from "Vanity Fair," so maybe a little bit of extreme vetting would have been good for the Trump administration.
Paul Manafort out there with three passports, fake phones and considered a flight risk. This is the reporting from the "Vanity Fair" writing, that the president is blaming his son-in-law for the mess he's in right now.
"Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that lead to Mueller's appointment," special counsel investigating Russia.
"According to a source briefed on the call, when Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to the someone familiar with the conversation."
This article then quotes a former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg, as saying, "Jared is the worst political advisor in the White House in modern history."
Christopher, this also seems to fly in the face of everything we've heard up to this point for Donald Trump, it's always family first, the loyalty is to the family and we're now at that point where he's throwing the family under the bus.
What state is the administration in right now?
METZLER: I think from the standpoint of loyalty, loyalty has always been to Donald Trump. So any notion that in fact there's been loyalty to family or others is just simply not true.
In addition to which, this whole conversation about blaming Jared, it sounds a whole lot like what Steve Bannon did initially. So it seems to me that this is simply a replay of what's been going on.
And that's a substantial part of the problem for Republicans. I go back the fact that my concern is beyond the president. My concern is about the future of the party.
VAUSE: But what can you do as a Republican, then?
METZLER: you look at what the future of the party's going to be. Unfortunately there are too many Republicans who simply -- and I understand people are leaving and --
METZLER: all of those kinds of things. But the folks who are staying, my view is you should speak up and you should say what actually is going on. I get that they're concerned about their own reelection.
But for me, the issue is, is it country or is it party?
Which is first?
LITTMAN: Where's you find this guy? He makes sense.
SESAY: That's because Matt doesn't have anything to say. I feel like's going to applaud.
But for Democrats, they would hope they would find willing parties on the other side of the aisle to work with. But for now everyone's standing with Trump.
LITTMAN: In terms of the Republican Party, all these people being loyal to him, I have to say, I don't understand. There's somebody who's worked with Washington for a long time. The concern about being reelected, the worst case scenario if you're not reelected is you become a lobbyist.
So what is so terrible about not getting reelected?
Right now, Trump is actually purging a lot of people in the Republican Party who don't support him. They're going to be gone and in a year or so, sure, the Democrats might take the House. It's very possible. We don't know the answer to that yet.
But I think the Republicans will probably still control the Senate with more Trump loyalists in place than are there now.
VAUSE: It is becoming the party of Trump. People like Jeff Flake leaving, Roy Moore coming in from --
(CROSSTALK) METZLER: -- it's the party of Trump, the party of traditional
Republicans and the party of Bannon. From my standpoint, the issue is, as much as people are talking about supporting Trump, I think Bannon is supporting Bannon.
SESAY: Will you have a home in this new Republican Party?
VAUSE: On that note --
SESAY: On that note --
SESAY: -- now that we know.
VAUSE: Thank you so much.
(INAUDIBLE) developing story out of Colorado. Police are searching for a killer after three people were shot dead at a Walmart store in the town of Fulton (ph). Witnesses told police the man walked into the store and casually began shooting.
Authorities say two men died at the scene and a woman who was wounded died later at the hospital. Police have tweeted out these images of a man in a vehicle which they say are of interest. (INAUDIBLE) this story as soon as we get more information.
SESAY: Time for a quick break here. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is up next for our viewers in Asia. For everyone else, prosecutors outline why they believe Paul Manafort is a flight risk.
Ahead, core filings on the indicted Trump campaign officials.
VAUSE: Also ahead, (INAUDIBLE) tech in the hot seat before Congress over Russian ads and last year's presidential election.
[02:30:16] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.
ISHA SESAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour, the man accused of killing eight people in New York, Tuesday, has been changed with federal terrorism crimes. Sayfullo Saipov is charged with providing material support to ISIS and violence and destruction of a motor vehicle. Investigators have since questioned a second individual who they think may be an associate of Saipov's.
VAUSE: And the U.S. President believes the main suspect in the terror attack should receive the death penalty. He tweeted that out a few hours ago. Mr. Trump has also lashed out at the U.S. justice system and the way its handled terror suspects. He says it's a joke. Those are demanding Congress and an immigration program which allowed the suspect to enter the U.S. legally, seven years ago.
SESAY: U.K. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has resigned after an allegation of inappropriate conduct, saying his behavior may have fallen short, but he also says some accusations made against him are false. Earlier this week, Fallon apologized for repeatedly touching a journalist's knee some 15 years ago.
VAUSE: Well, turning now to the Russia investigation and new revelations about the indicted foreign campaign chief, Paul Manafort. Prosecutors found court documents to support their claim that Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, are significant flight risk. Jim Sciutto has details.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, are under house arrest after prosecutors argued they might try to flee the country. In new court documents, special counsel Robert Mueller accuses the pair of a, "history of deceptive and misleading conduct." And paints a picture of them as globetrotting millionaires with extensive, "international connection and financial resources." Both Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty to charges related to their lobbying for the Ukraine government.
The documents note that Manafort has three U.S. passports, each with different numbers, and has applied for 10 separate passports over the last 10 years. Within just last year, Manafort has travelled the cities around the world, Panama City, Cancun, Havana, Grand Cayman Island, Madrid, Dubai, Shanghai, and Tokyo. On trips to Mexico, Ecuador, and China, Manafort registered a phone and email account under a fake name.
Manafort and Gates also both frequently travelled to Cyprus, home to many of their offshore bank accounts. Prosecutors say, it is difficult to estimate the current value of Manafort's fortune since Manafort himself has recorded widely desperate amounts in his financial disclosures, ranging from $19 million in 2012 to 136 million in 2016.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Paul Manafort has a long reputation working on campaigns, on Presidential campaigns. But the fact that he is an outlaw to the extent that has been this disclosed so far is deeply concerning I think to all of us.
SCIUTTO: CNN has learned that then-candidate Trump did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when his foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos suggested it at a meeting in March 2016. He didn't say yes, and he didn't say no, according to a person who was in the room at the time.
However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions who is also present for the meeting rejected the idea, according to this source. This, despite the fact that in sworn testimony last month, Sessions insisted that he was not aware of any campaign staff or surrogates communicating with Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had communications with the Russians, is that what you're saying?
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not and I'm not aware of anyone else that did and I don't believe it happened.
SCIUTTO: The White House have said that President Trump himself does not remember the March meeting with Papadopoulos, the foreign policy adviser, and that that advisor only attended one meeting. But CNN has learned he attended at least one other foreign policy meeting, though, the President was not present. Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.
SESAY: Oren Liebermann joins us now from Moscow. Oren, good to see you. So, the Russians were completely dismissive of the Manafort- Gates indictments, pointing out that Russia isn't even mentioned.
OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. They were very dismissive from the very beginning. In fact, the Foreign Ministry spokesman pointing out to a factual error about a former Ukrainian politician in essentially one half of one line in the indictments, and said, look, if this is an error, how can we trust the rest of this? And other Russian officials have been just as dismissive, partly because of exactly what you said, it's largely Manafort, Gates, and Ukraine, and the Russians said, look, this has nothing to do with us. Part of what's interesting, though, is a step beyond that when it comes to Paul Manafort, who has more than a decade long relationship with a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who's considered very close President Vladimir Putin.
[02:35:04] Both have said, look, we only worked together years ago. And Deripaska described it as, quote, investment consulting services, saying the relationship was business, it was personal, it was not political. And yet, we know that relationship or at least communication continued up until fairly recently. Because according to the Washington Post, it was Manafort who reached out to Deripaska just a couple of weeks before Trump accepted the nomination as the Republican Presidential candidate, and said, look, I'd be happy to brief you on the latest on politics. The question is how much further did that relationship go and does it go from Manafort to Russian oligarch, to Putin. That becomes far more interesting now. The Kremlin, though, will remain dismissive just as they have been, Isha.
SESAY: But Oren, I know that Russia is most definitely mentioned in the guilty plea from George Papadopoulos. So, in that regard, was there any acknowledgment from Russia that Papadopoulos had ties to Mosco?
LIEBERMANN: Not at all. In fact, they compared the Papadopoulos guilty plea to what's considered a satirical novel in sort of Russian culture where the characters misrepresent themselves or sort of overstate their qualifications or overstate who they are. And that's what this thing happened here, Papadopoulos overstated his contacts to Russians. Also point out in the -- in the guilty plea there, you see he wasn't in touched with Russian officials, he was in touched with Russian nationals who believed they had contacts in the Kremlin and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
And it's there that the Russians say -- the Russian government says, look, he didn't actually have connections to any of us and didn't meet with anybody official. So, they're just as dismissive on that as they are on Manafort and Gates. Again, that's been the Russian position that they did an election meddle despite a U.S. intelligence consensus that they did, and that there was no collusion. Isha, it's not likely to change now, it certainly hasn't in the past, and I don't think it will change in the future, that position.
SESAY: Well, if there's more to find out, I think we can -- we're pretty certain that special counsel Bob Mueller will find it. Oren Liebermann finding -- joining us there, I should say. And we appreciate it. Thank you so much.
VAUSE: You know, how your parents say, it must be true, I saw it on the internet. Well, guess again. Next here how Russian trolls manipulated American voters on social media with fake news, misleading devices, and inflammatory posts.
VAUSE: On Capitol Hill Wednesday, some tough questions for the big U.S. tech companies about Russian influence during last year's election. Lawyers for Facebook, Twitter, and Google were grilled about failing to address foreign disinformation on their platforms.
SESAY: Well, during the House Intelligence Committee hearing, lawmakers released ads tied to Russian propaganda arm known as the Internet Research Agency. Experts say the Russians, their goal included dividing the country and inciting violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:39:53] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I must say I don't think you get it. What we're talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we're talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. You bear this responsibility. You've created these platforms. And now, they are being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it, or we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. Joining us now here is Rod Beckstrom, he's former director of the National Cyber Security Center and the former CEO of ICANN, a nonprofit organization which (INAUDIBLE) next to maintenance of the internet Domain Name system. Rod, it's good to actually have you with us. Thank you for coming in.
ROD BECKSTROM, FORMER CEO, ICANN: Thank you, John.
VAUSE: You know, this was a real bipartisan Republican, Democrat beat up on the tech companies, and that was good to see. What was outright jaw dropping though was to find out how Russian trolls actually manipulated Americans during the election. Here's one example from Senator Richard Burr. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Our Texas group created a public event on Facebook to occur at noon, May 21st, 2016 at the Islamic Center in Houston, Texas, to stop -- quote, to stop the Islamization of Texas, unquote. The same group then placed an advertisement on Facebook to promote their event with over 12,000 people viewed. The United Muslims of America subsequently created an event on Facebook to occur at noon, May 21st, 2016 at the Islamic Center in Houston, Texas to, I quote, save Islamic knowledge. Same time, same place as the Heart of a Texas event. The group then placed an advertisement targeting people in Houston, Texas area to promote their event to support the Islamic Center.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: OK. So, we've got these two groups showing at Houston and we actually have images of what -- of the event itself where these two groups are on the streets in Houston, sort of, essentially facing off each against each other. You know, there was no (INAUDIBLE) there's no violence or anything, but it was tense. And again, here's Senator Burr describing, you know, the outcome of all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURR: What neither side could have known is that Russia trolls were encouraging both sides to battle in the streets and create division between real Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And while it was amazing created all that conflict I think, what, cost the Russians less than 3,000 bucks.
VAUSE: This is how it works, right?
BECKSTROM: This is. I mean, and this is classic Russian election interference. They've been doing this for decades, they're pros at it. And what they're doing is just leveraging these new platforms that make it even easier for them to get the exact people because they don't have to have human operatives in the geography, they don't have to go and stir up people face to face, they can do it online by targeting their groups and advertisements.
VAUSE: They don't even have to leave home.
VAUSE: They do it from Moscow. OK. There was almost disbelief from the Senators that no one of the tech companies connected the dots. Listen to Senator Al Franken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: An electoral ads paid for in rubles were coming from Russia. Those are two data points. American political ads and Russian money, rubles. How could you not connect those two dots?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: I mean, it's a great question, though, paid in rubles, which would seem to be not just a red flag in hindsight but, you know, at the moment and they were having this get by, do they just let it get by?
BECKSTROM: Well, one thing as you got to understand, this is like a fire hose of advertisements and traffic and activity on all three platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Google. So, it's an enormous volume of data and historically, they weren't designed to do this. The truth is the internet itself is neutral and these platforms would like to be neutral. But they're getting told under the political fray, understandably now that they're being used by foreign governments to, for example, tamper with our elections. But -- so, it's easy in retrospect to go and look at that data, and say, gees, they should have seen it, but they've got just -- you know, it's such a massive scale of activity.
VAUSE: It's interesting. You just heard that warning from Dianne Feinstein basically saying, if you don't fix it, we will.
VAUSE: And the intelligence committee, they released 65 pages of fake Twitter handles created by the Russians. The most infamous of them all, @10_gop. It's meant to be (INAUDIBLE) GOP. (INAUDIBLE) you know, this Twitter handle went after the mainstream media, said the Russian medaling was a hoax and tweets put out by this group were actually retweeted by members of the Trump campaign like Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump, Jr., and it took Twitter forever to suspend this account.
BECKSTROM: Yes. Yes. You know, it's -- they all -- as we -- as we see Facebook is taking advantage of this opportunity to say we're going to double our investment security. And they're quite good already. They're going to -- they have to scale up. Look, these are high-tech companies that are not that old to the world that have grown tremendously, and they've got to just keep dealing with more social issues and political issues on their plate. So, I don't think it's an issue of incompetence. It is not how they make their money, by the way. I mean, they make their money by selling advertisements and being as open as they possibly can. So, it's a cultural shift. They realized they've got to grow up, and kind of become different companies now that they're world leading firms.
[02:45:06] VAUSE: Yes. This is new territory for them. And Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement as part of their earnings call on Wednesday. He said, we're serious about preventing abuse on our platform, we're investing so much insecurity that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits, which is a big turnaround from last year when he joked about it and said it was impossible.
VAUSE: But meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that any of your companies have identified the full scope of Russian active measures on your platform? Yes or no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, our investigation continues, so I would have to say no, certainly not with certainty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, and we're still working on this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Walker?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have done a comprehensive investigation but as Mr. (INAUDIBLE) says these are ongoing issues and we continue to investigate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Is it even possible to lock the Russian trolls out of the system and fix it once and for all? And why were the lawyers there and not the CEOs? Answer the first bit.
BECKSTROM: Can you lock them out? No. Absolutely not. These are open platforms, you got millions of new users every day, some legitimate, lot of fakes every day, hackers, scammers, all kinds of con artists and government intelligence operatives from other countries. So you're not going to be able to stop them completely. And that's why I also take issue with one other quotes made by one of the gentlemen that you know, none level of zero is acceptable. Well, you're not going to get to a level of zero. Unless they shut you, me, and everyone else --
VAUSE: Yes, they close it down.
BECKSTROM: So, they can manage it, they're going to use artificial intelligence to try to see these patterns and try to tighten it up a bit, but it's just part of the new world that we face. And so, what --
VAUSE: And again, why are the lawyers --
BECKSTROM: Yes, why the lawyers -- well, these are tough issues, sticky issues, and there's legal ramifications for the companies, possibly even shareholder actions I would imagine or other victims might in the future take actions based on what's said. So, it shows you how seriously they're taking this issue and how it's a risk management exercise.
VAUSE: And it's not just happening in the U.S., it's happening all around the world.
VAUSE: Rod, thanks for coming in. Good to see you.
BECKSTROM: Thank you. Thank you, John.
SESAY: Quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., Kevin Spacey says he's seeking treatment in the wake of a sexual abuse claim and new allegations being made against other prominent men, victims' rights attorney Gloria Allred weighs in next.
SESAY: We're just learning that Kevin Spacey is seeking unspecified treatment in the wake of a sexual abuse accusation by actor Anthony Rapp. This news is from Spacey's publicist. Rapp claims he was 14 when Spacey tried to make a sexual advance towards him back in 1986. Well, Spacey tweeted that he did not remember the encounter but apologized for would have been, quote, inappropriate drunken behavior.
Meantime, director and producer Brett Ratner who's films include the Oscar winner, "The Revenant." It's latest Hollywood figure accused of sexual misconduct. The Los Angeles Times reports six women including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, accused Ratner of allegations ranging from sexual assault to harassment. He has denied the allegations.
The floodgates opened in Hollywood last month when more than 60 women came forward to say they were sexually harassed or assaulted by film producer Harvey Weinstein over a period of decades. He's denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. Other high-profile men from various walks of life have been publicly accused of sexual misconduct too since Weinstein's story unfolded.
[02:50:03] Attorney Gloria Allred represents some of these accusers. She is a long-time victims' rights advocate. And I'm pleased to say she joins us in the studio now. Gloria, thank you. Thank you for being with us.
GLORIA ALLRED, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ATTORNEY: My pleasure.
SESAY: Let's start with the situation regarding Brett Ratner, the latest in this long line of powerful men to basically have the light shone on the -- what they allegedly had done. Someone like Asia Argento who has claimed that she was a victim at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, she put out a tweet a short time ago and she said in reference to Brett Ratner, "This article is what we've all been waiting for. @Brettratner, you have been (BLEEP) busted."
Are you surprised some people are calling this an open secret?
ALLRED: Well, all I'll say as a lawyer is that I'm generally aware of allegations against many rich powerful famous men in Hollywood and elsewhere before they become public. And I'm just talking in general.
SESAY: Sure, so sure.
ALLRED: So generally, I'm not surprised. And there are women speaking out. Of course, it's very dangerous for them and I want everybody to know them -- that. For example, Mr. Ratner has now filed a lawsuit against apparently the first woman who went on the internet and made allegations against him.
And so, she will now, once she's served, have to defend against the lawsuit. And then there may be others -- other lawsuits coming against other women. That doesn't mean they won't prevail.
Maybe they will. Maybe they won't. But they'll have to hire lawyers to defend them which can be very expensive and time-consuming. So, all I can say is definitely consult a lawyer before you go on the internet and make allegations because even if what you're saying is true, you may have to defend that in a court of law.
SESAY: And what is interesting in the Brett Ratner situation is how quickly it gained steam, how quickly the fallout, if you will, spread. I mean, obviously, there was a public reaction and then there was a situation regarding his career in Warner Bros. So when CNN reached out to Warner Bros just after the L.A. Times story, this is what we got.
We just got a "We are aware of the allegations in The L.A. Times and are reviewing the situation." Hours later Brett Ratner comes out and says, "In light of the allegations being made I'm choosing to personally step away from all Warner Bros-related activities. I don't want to have any possible negative impact to the studio until these personal issues are resolved."
Has Hollywood finally gotten the message that when these things happen you've got to take them seriously, you've got to stand aside?
ALLRED: Well, allegations are spreading like wildfire and because many women feel empowered and they don't want to be silent anymore about what they believe. They have suffered as injustice is inflicted on them in their employment, which has really seriously financially damaged them. So, you know, they're saying their truth right now.
ALLRED: But the men are also feeling very serious economic consequences from the allegations. I mean, now, we see so many men, you know, the allegations against Kevin Spacey, allegations against Brett Ratner. I am literally flooded with calls still about Harvey Weinstein. I represent numerous clients, there will be lawsuits coming very soon. And I'm receiving emails and calls from persons who alleged they are victims who are all over the world, in different countries.
SESAY: Incredible. When you did an interview with one of the -- one of -- with a show out of the U.K., and at that point, you know, there were just 25 accuses and you said this is just the tip of the iceberg.
ALLRED: It is.
SESAY: And now, it's over 60. I mean, you have been doing this for a long time, but is there any part of you surprised, I mean, more than 60 calls still coming in?
ALLRED: Well, when you say more than 60, those are 60 who have gone public. I'm talking about numerous women and I've gone public before at news conferences. But many more than that that I'm representing who have not gone public, many of whom don't wish to be public and will never be public because if we file a lawsuit, we'll also file them Jane Does.
ALLRED: And so, yes, there are many, many more than 60, I can assure you of that.
SESAY: This is the moment -- as we've just reference with Brett Ratner within hours stepping away from Warner Bros, this is a moment where people have to take stalk. You have obviously been waiting for this moment for a long time, what do you want to see come off it? What should be the legacy of this moment?
ALLRED: Justice. Justice for persons who can prove that they are victims, and that's important. But I think that every woman who feels that she has been a victim of injustice, and by the way, some men are coming forward --
SESAY: As well.
ALLRED: -- as well, I'm not talking necessarily about Harvey Weinstein, alleging that they have been victims of powerful men in Hollywood as well. I would suggest that everyone make sure that you speak with an attorney, a sexual harassment attorney, a civil rape attorney to make -- to know what your rights are, so that you can judge whether you have a legal claim you can assert a lawsuit, whether you can have a confidential settlement, whether you should speak out on the internet even if it's too late for you to file a claim.
[02:55:15] SESAY: Yes.
ALLRED: Get advice and then make an informed decision. But know that you can speak confidentially to an attorney and you don't have to worry about that becoming public.
SESAY: Before I let you go, I got to ask you. I know you've talked about the Weinstein Company setting up a victims' fund.
SESAY: You, of course, been having conversation with them, where is that?
ALLRED: I have not had a meeting with the board yet but there are some interesting developments and well --
SESAY: Are you going to share any of the developments to me?
ALLRED: I have no comment on what those developments are tonight, but I can assure you that we are on the path to justice for victims and we are going to continue to be on that path until we're able to obtain that justice. We think that it's important that Mr. Weinstein is getting sexual addiction therapy or if he's left, if he's still in contact with his doctor. All that as well, all that is good.
Anybody who needs help should get it, but we're focused on the persons who can prove that they are victims. And a woman's word, by the way, is also evidence. They shouldn't say, "Well, I have no evidence."
Their word matters, and we are going to continue to represent them and to seek justice for them and I'll make a guess that you're going to hear something soon.
SESAY: I'll make a guess I'll get you back on the show.
ALLRED: OK. Thank you.
SESAY: Gloria Allred, our pleasure. Thank you.
ALLRED: Thank you.
VAUSE: Houston Astros fans are celebrating. Yey, good for them. It was -- the whole series was three a piece up until this point. They all came down to game seven, and hey, the Astros are the World Series champs for the first time in their 65-season history, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in a thriller. Astros' centerfielder George Springer was named the Most Valuable Player after the home run in this game and five in the series.
SESAY: Well, the Astros' shortstop Carlos Correa had the most surprising victory right after the game. He proposed to his girlfriend, and yes, she said yes.
VAUSE: And another home run. Why wouldn't she? He won a World Series. OK.
SESAY: And a pair of shoes, is it?
VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) pair of shoes.
SESAY: You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. Everyone's got their priorities. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: We've heard that the shoes bore her. No idea, nothing but these shoes in the commercial break. I'm John Vause. Follow us on Twitter. She might tweet on (INAUDIBLE) shoes. Rosemary Church is (INAUDIBLE) Rosemary Church is up next, she's in Atlanta.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: The man who mowed people down on a busy New York --