Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump will land in Tokyo; President Trump's Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee; Actor Kevin Spacey's House of Cards is being accused of sexual assault; Both former Presidents Bush unleashing on Donald Trump in a new book; Former DNC chair Donna Brazile considered trying to replace Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden as the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee; President Trump is getting more aggressive with his criticism of the justice department; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 4, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:11] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
And right now, President Trump is en route to Japan. The first stop in a marathon to our peace Asia that will take him to five countries in 13 days all amid concerns about a nuclear North Korea. And while President will have plenty on his plate abroad, the trip comes at the end of a landmark week in the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, including two indictments, one guilty plea and plenty of questions about this 2016 meeting when according to court documents, a foreign policy adviser says he floated the idea setting up a visit between then candidate Trump and Russian President Putin.
We have a team of analysts standing by, but I want to begin with CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond who is joining us by phone right now from Tokyo where the President will arrive later this evening.
Jeremy, first. Just how crucial is this trip?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN POLITICS REPORTER (on the phone): Hi, Ana.
Listen. There is no question at all that this is going to be a critical diplomatic thing or the President. Ana, first of course on the agenda is going to be addressing the North Korean crisis. The President this week is going to be meeting with the top leaders in the region who are most essential to this problem. He is first in Japan and then he will be meeting with the South Korean leader as well as the Chinese President Xi Jinping. This comes all as the national security adviser H.R. McMaster warns that United States and the world really is quote "running out of time" when it comes to addressing the North Korean crisis.
This crisis is of course grown by the week. The risk of potential military confrontation and this may be the President's best chance yet to work with leaders in the region to try and rally them around the common strategy. That of course is going to be difficult. We know this is a President who has repeatedly undermined his administration's strategy whether (INAUDIBLE) his secretary of state Rex Tillerson when he was trying to open communication with North Korea, perhaps less communications.
And so this is going to be the test for the President as whether he can present this kind of clear, coherent U.S. strategy when it comes to this rally U.S. allies and kind of try and bring an end to this crisis - Ana.
CABRERA: Now on the Russia proposal, Jeremy, the President has insisted he doesn't remember much about that meeting when campaign advisor George Papadopoulos mentioned the possibility of a meeting with Putin, but take a listen to how that compares to what he said last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't remember much about that meeting. It was a very unimportant meeting. Took place a long time. Don't remember much about it.
I'm a very intelligent person.
One of the great memories of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So what else are we learning about that meeting?
DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. It is interesting to hear the President say that when of course he was saying, you know, just a couple of days ago that he does not really recall that meeting and that he characterized it as unimportant. You know, we were told by a source who was in the meeting that the President, then candidate Donald Trump, didn't dismiss the idea out of candid meeting with Russian President Vladimir put Putin. The source says that he didn't say yes and he didn't no. But of course this is not a convenience for the White House to be able to say that the President doesn't recall the meeting. It seems that the President's memory maybe selective or perhaps it was indeed one of these many, many meetings that he has that he didn't quite recall as well.
CABRERA: Jeremy Diamond in Tokyo, thank you for that reporting.
Now as the Mueller probe intensify, President Trump is getting more aggressive with his criticism of the justice department. Tweeting people are angry at some point, the justice department and FBI must do what is right and proper. The American public deserves it. And then as the President prepared to leave for ASIA, he also said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm really not involved with the justice department. I would like to let it run itself. But honestly, they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things. And a lot of people are disappointed in the justice department including me. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: And here is the President in a radio interview earlier this week seeming to lament his lack of control over the justice department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The saddest thing is that because I'm the President of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the justice department. I'm not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I'm not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing and I'm very frustrated by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I want to bring in our panel. CNN Presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti and writer for the Right Turn blog for the "Washington Post," Jennifer Rubin.
Doug, the President is upset he can't direct investigations by the justice department. What's your reaction to that?
[19:05:00] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, Donald Trump seems very nervous. I mean, he is turning on his own justice department. It may not be an accident, but on Friday, a Martin Luther King document got released where the FBI just looks terrible like they were hounding Martin Luther King Jr. And now today's FBI where along with our old friend Mueller is hounding him. This puts Jeff Sessions I think attorney general in a very weird position.
On the one hand, the President of the United States distrusts Jeff Sessions in many ways. He lambastes him publicly. On the other hand, the Democrats led by Al Franken, don't trust the attorney general. They think Sessions has been lying about what he knows about Russia and the campaign. So it's going to be interesting in my mind, to see where this leads to and what role Jeff Sessions plays in the coming weeks.
CABRERA: We not only heard the President say he couldn't remember that controversial campaign meeting when advisor George Papadopoulos brought up the idea of a Putin meeting. How effective is that I don't remember as a legal defense?
RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well it can be effective as a legal defense in the sense that you know, it allow us you to avoid answering the question. It makes it hard for you to be charged with committing perjury for example because if you don't remember something, it's hard to disprove that.
What I do find -- what I have found in my career when I was a, spent a decade as a federal prosecutor is that people who tend to misremember or forget things or don't recall things, you know, lose a lot of credibility with the jury. And so the question is just whether or not Mr. Mueller will find enough other evidence, you know, to make Mr. Trump or others like Mr. Sessions pay the price for suddenly not having a good memories.
I will, I do find that, I did find in my career as a federal prosecutor that being investigated by the FBI tended to affect people's nerves.
CABRERA: Now, Jennifer, attorney general Jeff Sessions seems to have a case of Russian amnesia as well. And now there are actually Congress members saying he perjured himself during congressional hearings. Here is a reminder of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: You don't believe that surrogates from Trump campaign had communications with the Russians. Is that what you're saying?
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not. And I'm not aware of anyone else that did. And I don't believe it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Well this week, former campaign policy adviser, Carter Page, says he told Sessions he planned to take a trip to Russia during the campaign. And on top of that, adviser George Papadopoulos said he also talked to sessions about arranging a meeting with Trump and Putin. How much trouble, Jennifer, could sessions be in?
JENNIFER, WRITER, TURN RIGHT BLOG, WASHINGTON POST: I think he could be in a lot of trouble. And he has already changed his testimony a couple of times. He went from not having any meetings to having a couple of meeting with ambassador from Russia, but allegedly not about that campaign to this now, contradiction.
I think the Senate is going to be after him to explain himself. Not only to senator Franken write a letter along with other Democrats demanding answers, but the number two man on the Republican leadership team, John Cornyn, said this is something that needs to be looked into.
Listen, this guy played a central role. Not only was he in that room when George Papadopoulos was saying he was trying to set up a meeting with Putin. We have Carter Page's testimony. And then he was involved in helping to draft memos that terminated the employment of James Comey.
So was he very much aware that Russia was on the mind? If so and he is arranging to in essence, fire the man who is investigating them, that's a problem for Jeff Sessions. And I think he is going to be one for whom there's going to be a lot of pressure on and the special prosecutor is going to take his time building the case, working his way up the chain. But I think Mr. Sessions is going to have a lot of difficulty.
CABRERA: So there are all these different players, talking about Sessions, Carter Paige, Jared Kushner, his name has come back up this week. Trump's senior adviser, his son-in-law. We learned he turned over documents to the special counsel as investigators look into the firing of FBI director, James Comey.
We also know Keith Schiller, who hand delivered the Comey firing letter, will go before the house Intel committee this coming week. Can the President say this has nothing to do with him?
BRINKLEY: No, in this probe is closing in on the President. It's like a vice grip. But there may be people that are fall guys in the Iran contra with Ronald Reagan. People like Oliver North took the hit and not the President himself. Reagan went on TV and constantly did the, you know, my, he said my mind and my heart tells me I didn't do it. But the facts speak otherwise. And he was able to get around it.
Jared Kushner, I think, by the end of this process, very well may have to leave government. He may be, you know, just as Bill Clinton got disbarred from the legal profession during the Lewinsky scandal, you might have Kushner being punished.
But the question is will this touch Trump? Is there enough plausible deniability? We do know that Trump doesn't use email. You are not going to find an email record of him. Did somebody tape record him? Or is it going to be Trump's word versus General Flynn's word and one we think Kushner is going to be loyal to his father-in-law. And he may know a lot of secret, but it's not clear he is going to spill them even if the FBI really lays out documents in front of him saying you are busted.
[19:10:40] CABRERA: Renato, do you believe the President himself is going to have to ultimately explain to the special counsel what he knew, when he knew it? Can you see a circumstance in which that doesn't happen?
MARIOTTI: Not really. I mean, first of all, I want to say that there's no serious question that the President of the United States is now under investigation. You look at the document requests that Mr. Mueller presented to the White House. Those document requests you are asking for documents related to the firing of James Comey, firing of Michael Flynn. The statement that was allegedly dictated by the President relating to the Trump tower meeting and a variety of other events that relates specifically to the actions of the President of the United States.
And so the question is, you know, is there ever going to be a time where Mr. Mueller decides that he has enough information from others that he doesn't need the President's account of events or is enough information, you know, that he can sort of rule out any wrong doing by the President.
Realistically, you know, it's hard for me to see a circumstance under which you know, either of those circumstances come to pass. I think in any, you know, investigation of a matter in which the President was the person who did the action in the case of James Comey, the firing of James Comey, I don't see how you conclude that without interviewing the President.
CABRERA: Now the President has obviously tried to turn the narrative upside down in the past. He has really poked holes in the credibility of Mueller. We have seen other Republicans do that same thing, and yet Jennifer, this is a really interesting ABC News/"Washington Post" poll that just came out this week.
When Americans were asked what they think about these investigation, first of all, nearly half believe President Trump likely committed a crime during the campaign and just three in ten Americans surveyed think that alleged wrong doing ends with those who were charged just this week by the special counsel. On top of that, we know about two- thirds of the Americans approve of Robert Mueller's investigation. What does this tell you?
RUBIN: It tells me they need a new strategy. Mueller doesn't care about all this dust being blown up in his face. And apparently, the American people aren't buying it either. And I think that's largely due and it is a compliment to Mr. Mueller, who has let his work do the talking. You don't see him giving press conferences. You don't see him making statements. You don't see him retaliating against the President when President questions his conduct or his ethics.
So he is methodically doing his job, bit by bit, as a former FBI director himself. And I think people are impressed. Certainly lawyers and people who are involved in these kinds of investigations were impressed with those two indictments and with the plea bargain as well. He is working very carefully, very slowly and he is going to have a lot of information by the time he reaches the President.
CABRERA: Very quickly, Renato, do you expect we will see additional legal action taken anytime soon after that initial dump earlier this past week?
MARIOTTI: There's no question there's going additional charges, it just a matter of when. So how soon is soon. I don't know about that, but they are coming.
CABRERA: All right, Renato, Douglas, Jennifer, thank you all for joining us.
MARIOTTI: Thank you.
CABRERA: And coming up, a bombshell new report about DNC chair, Donna Brazile, why she once considered replacing Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden as the 2006 team 2016 Democratic nominee.
And later, two former Presidents break the code of silence to unleash on Donald Trump. Just wait until you hear what they said.
Plus, a full-court press at twitter at a rogue employee takes down the President's account. How did it happen and what's twitter doing about it?
All that and much more live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:18:36] CABRERA: Tonight, "the Washington Post" reports former DNC chair Donna Brazile considered trying to replace Hillary Clinton with Joe Biden as the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee. Now this possible switch with Biden crossed Brazile's mind after Clinton fainted at the 9/11 memorial service in New York last year. This is according to Brazile's new book. And the "Washington Post" which obtained a copy of the book before it comes out next week.
Let's talk it over with A. Scott Bolden, former chairman of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party and CNN political commentator, Symone Sanders, former spokeswoman for Senator Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign.
Scott, what do you make of this revelation?
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I got to tell you, those excerpts today in the "Washington Post" were hard for a good Democrat like me to read.
I must say, she unloaded. Let me just say this that I thought that the when I got done reading it, I thought that GOP had gotten to Donna Brazile and she had flipped and now she is testifying against the Democrats. It is really difficult to read. I'm sorry, that's my take on it.
But I also think this. That it feeds into Donald Trump's narrative, if you will, and you have heard him jump on this. And so I think it's difficult. And I really am not sure why the timing was, my last thought on the book itself was simply this. This idea of replacing Hillary Clinton simply is unrealistic. The rules don't allow for it and she never got out of the race. Now, if she had gotten out of the race, it would have been a very public process, consulting with senators and congressman, as well as governors. And so, I'm not sure she individually could make that change, but she could certainly start the ball. But to really star the ball, Hillary Clinton would have to get out of the race.
CABRERA: And that's true, Symone. DNC officials are saying Brazile did not have any authority to actually do what she said she was thinking. There was no vacancy. But it's sure to stir an awful lot of emotion inside the party. We heard it from Scott but, what do you see as the impact of this?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to be really clear. A couple of weeks ago, maybe a month now, all the times are running together. Secretary Clinton came out with her book and so many people were like why now? Why is she saying this? Why is Hillary coming out? And at the time I said look, Secretary Clinton is entitled to tell her story.
Much like secretary Clinton, Donna Brazile is entitled to tell her story. Now, there maybe people that do not agree with her story, there are some folks that may have dumdums (ph) or differences, But Donna Brazile is absolutely entitled to tell her story and that's what we are going to see from her book. So that's what we have seen from the excerpts.
BOLDEN: Sorry. SANDERS: This is her vantage point of the story. I think that what's
really important now is that Democrats, we have a really frank conversation about what's going on inside of our party, about what has happened and what will happen going forward and that we are better than we were last year. But we cannot allow this to district us.
Tax reform is something we need to be paying attention to. The repeating attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare and abortion ban from Republicans who would ban abortion before women are even able to find out if they are pregnant. These are the thing we need be focusing on, let alone elections that are happening next Tuesday. So this is a conversation we can absolutely have but we cannot allow this to divide us and allows to take our eyes off the ball.
CABRERA: Go ahead, Scott.
BOLDEN: The response is simply that. Let's get it out now. Let's get it out before January. And then, you know, let's have our reconciliation meeting with both sides and really focus on the common opponent, which is Donald Trump and the GOP.
But I will tell you this, notwithstanding her right to do the book, Symone, I got to tell you. This is going - we are going to hear about this book and these allegations in 2018, 2020 and even I'd say next week in some of the state primary - I'm sorry, state general elections. We have right here next to us in Virginia.
And so this is a very dangerous time. These are dangerous words. And now it's another hurdle I think Dems have to overcome because the GOP and Donald Trump are going to use it in their narrative to strengthen their narrative against Democrats.
CABRERA: It definitely paints a picture though of divisiveness that's happening inside the Democratic Party, not total unity.
But Symone, I want to ask you a follow up question about some of those other allegations or information that came out according to Brazile in her book and what we learned this week, this unethical agreement she alleges between Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee to keep the party afloat financially. I mean, now we are getting more information about that knowing this that was an agreement signed in August of 2015. It gave some authority to the Clinton camp over spending and other matters in the general election primarily, if she was the nominee which is standard practice. And it also gave her role though here in helping the DNC choose some officials and communications, research, and technology in primary season. I think that's what a lot of people are taking note of. Do you think Hillary Clinton owes Bernie Sanders an apology?
SANDERS: Look, what I think is it has been very clear from a lot of folks, from Bernie Sanders campaign, myself included, that there was lots of people who worked at the Democratic National Committee in 2015 that had their whole hands, feet, and fingers on the scale r for Secretary Clinton. I'm going to say right now that I do not think the primaries were rigged because if you know anything about how the primaries are set up, the individual states and individual states administer the caucuses and the primaries. And if you ask me about the debate schedule, that thing was definitely manufactured so that it did not benefit everybody on the Democratic ticket.
But what I think is important here is this. That we now have real revelations, with now all the totalities of the American people know. What many people have known inside the Democratic Party for a while is that a lot of nefarious things went on in 2016, things that compromised the integrity of the Democratic National Committee. And because of that, we need to committee to commit to transparency going forward. To the party officers being fully involved, to party delegates such as myself, to have full understanding of what is going on on the side of the Democratic National Committee so we do not compromise the integrity of our party or the election process. And I think that's what is needed going forward.
CABRERA: Scott, final thought?
BOLDEN: Well, it's an appearance issue - yes, it is an appearance issue more than anything. I also think this. I think that Bernie Sanders, if he were a Democrat --
SANDERS: Come on, Scott. Hold on, Scott.
BOLDEN: Hold on. If he were a Democrat, I think we could have avoided a lot of this stuff, but the integrity of the party, an optics issue more than a substance issue, but it certainly needs to be reformed.
[19:25:12] SANDERS: Hold on one second.
BOLDEN: But we need to get it reformed before 2018.
SANDERS: Ana, let me be really clear. The agreement that the Democratic National Committee entered into with the Clinton campaign in August of 2015 was a bad deal and whether it was --
BOLDEN: But you offered the same deal though.
SANDERS: Be clear.
BOLDEN: He turned it down.
SANDERS: I don't want to litigate the 2016 election, but I want to be clear that NBC and ABC had the agreement that our campaign signed and it didn't say anything about oversight of staffing or hiring or anything to that matter. So that is not same deal. We need to just kill those talking points right where they are.
CABRERA: But Symone, also, I think it's important also to have full transparency. Also Bernie Sanders did not raise any money for the DNC.
BOLDEN: Exactly. SANDERS: I don't believe I'm having to break this down for the
American people. There's a difference between a joint fund raising agreement and added addendum that keeps the Democratic Party afloat. These are two separate things that we should not compare the issues on.
Yes, Bernie Sanders signed the joint fund raising agreement with the Democratic National Committee which he never raised funds for because that's how we raise money. But there's a separate issue of a loan, if you will, the Democratic National Committee being strapped for cash and entering into a loan agreement with someone who would also happen to be b a candidate for President.
Look, this regardless of who it was, it was a bad deal for the Democratic National Committee to enter into. It compromised the integrity of the party and that is why we are having the conversation right now.
CABRERA: I think guys, we have got to leave it there. But I think one thing, we are learning a lot an awful lot more about how the political process works through the past year's election.
Symone Sanders, A. Scott Bolden, thank you both for sharing your thoughts. Really appreciate you coming on.
Coming up. Both former Presidents Bush unleashing on Donald Trump in a new book. One calls him a blow hard. The other says he doesn't know what it means to be President. Hear from the historian who interviewed both of them, next.
[19:31:29] CABRERA: For former Presidents, it's a golden rule, maintain a code of silence when it comes to your successors. But in a new book, both former Presidents Bush are letting loose about Donald Trump and the party he now leads.
CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel sat down with the author of "the last Republicans" for this exclusive interview.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Former President Bush 43 told you when Trump entered the race, he thought --
MARK UPDEGROVE, AUTHOR, THE LAST REPUBLICANS: He thought interesting won't last.
GANGEL: Won't last.
Won't last. But when Trump started to rise, I think he became concerned. Because he saw this populism of Donald Trump getting in the way of America's position in the world.
GANGEL: He gave you rare insight though into his criticism of Donald Trump. What did he tell you?
UPDEGROVE: One of the things he said was that one of the hallmarks of great leadership is humility. So when Donald Trump said I am my own adviser, Bush thought, and this is a quote, "wow, this guy doesn't know what it means to be President."
GANGEL: What was his tone when he talked to you about Trump?
UPDEGROVE: I think it was restrained. The Bushs are very retrained. And I also think that they realize they have a role to play as former Presidents and they have to be restrained. They have to be dignified.
GANGEL: He weighed his words.
UPDEGROVE: I think he did, yes.
GANGEL: President Bush 41 was bit blunter. He said that he thought Donald Trump had quote "a certain ego" and then he told you point- blank --
UPDEGROVE: He is a blow hard. He is a blow hard. And said I don't like him. Plain and simple. And I'm not excited about him being a leader. Was his quote. And if you look at the Bush family, it makes perfect sense. Donald Trump is everything that the Bush family is not. George Bush grew up thinking about the greater good. Donald Trump I think is manifestly narcissistic. It's part of his brand. And that brand is the antithesis of the Bush brand.
GANGEL: How do you think these two men feel that Donald Trump is now the standard bearer of the Republican Party?
UPDEGROVE: I think it's pretty clear if you look at their records and their views politically, that I'm going to quote George H. W. Bush, "they're not excite d about Donald Trump being our leader. That's not a leap of faith. That's pretty clear."
And I think the most clear demonstration we get of that recently is Charlottesville. The Bushs came out with a joint tweet, which they had never done in the past, condemning bigotry and anti-Semitism and all the things that were on display in Charlottesville among the white supremacists. That was a clear betrayal of American values and the Bushs came out with that. I think that spoke resoundingly about the void in leadership that they were seeing from the White House.
GANGEL: There are a lot of quotes from the Bushs that are going to make news in this book. Bush 43 talks about whether vice President Dick Cheney had played an outsized role in his presidency. Something that gets talked about all the time, was Dick Cheney too powerful. And Bush 43 told you.
UPDEGROVE: Well, he was talking about the neo concerns in general and specifically, about Cheney and Rumsfeld. And he said and I quote, Cheney, Rumsfeld never made one (bleep) decision.
[19:35:07] GANGEL: That's the quote. UPDEGROVE: That's the quote. I understand his frustration because at
the time there was a perception that Dick Cheney was the acting President. But in fact, George W. Bush had a lifetime of making bold decisions. He has this preacher natural confidence in himself as a leader and if you talk to those around him, they have confidence in his leadership. And so this notion that Cheney was making the decisions is ludicrous.
GANGEL: When you started to write this book, let me guess, the title was not the last Republicans.
UPDEGROVE: When I set out to write this in 2013, it was a very different time. But the last Republicans became the right title during what has become the Trump era.
UPDEGROVE: Well, you know, George W. Bush himself said in 2016 privately and to me, you know, I fear that I'll be the last Republican President.
GANGEL: He confirmed that to you.
UPDEGROVE: He confirmed that to me. And it wasn't just about Hillary Clinton becoming President. It was because Donald Trump represented everything that the Bushs abhorred.
CABRERA: Our thanks to Jamie for that interview.
And in response to the comments, a White House official tells CNN this. If one Presidential candidate can disassemble a political party, it speaks volumes about how strong a legacy its past two Presidents had and that begins with the Iraq war, one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history. President Trump remains focused on keeping his promises to the American people by bringing back jobs, promoting an American first foreign policy and standing up for the forgotten men and women of our great country.
New tonight, Senator Rand Paul is recovering after an alleged assault as his Kentucky home. Police say they have arrested a man who is now in jail on a single account of assault. The senator's communications director says Paul was quote "blindsided" in the attack, but is now doing fine. Police are not releasing a motive now.
Coming up, Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, eight people from the show, current and former employees, describe how the actor turned the workplace into a quote "toxic environment" through a pattern of sexual harassment. I'll talk to the reporter who broke this story. Stay with us.
[19:41:26] CABRERA: It is the type of fall from Grace you could see on an episode of "House of Cards." But for actor Kevin Spacey, there's no escaping a growing sexual harassment candidate. Netflix now announcing just last night it is severing ties with the actor after CNN talked to eight former and current workers on "House of Cards". All of whom say the actor created a toxic work environment for young men. They described his behavior as predatory, saying it included nonconsensual touching and crude comments. One former production assistant also alleges Spacey sexually assaulted him.
Joining us now is CNN's Chloe Melas who broke the story.
Chloe, you called dozens of employees, people who worked on "House of cards."
CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: Over 100.
CABRERA: Over 100. What more are you hear something.
MELAS: So as the story has broken in the past few days since we you know, opened wide this you know, epidemic on the show at the hands of Kevin Spacey, who is the EP and the star, more accusers are coming out me every single day. They are reaching out to me, you know, with their own stories.
But you know, here is the thing is that a lot of people are asking me why are these accusers not putting their names to these accusations? And that is because a lot of them either still work on show or they work in the industry and they are afraid of the professional repercussion. And I was telling you that, yes, less than 24 hours after our report broke, Netflix cut ties Kevin Spacey. And you know, a lot of these people who still work on the show, they want it to continue, but without Kevin. So they are hoping his character maybe gets killed off because there is hundreds of people who work on the show in Baltimore, Maryland, who are worried right now about whether not they are going to be able to feed their families because this is their only source of income. You know, the Wire, Veep and shows have been filmed there, but not a lot of shows come right in their backyard there. So that is another big issue that we are seeing because of the fallout.
CABRERA: And it is so interesting. You say like the flood gates have opened. I mean, since you broke this story, you, people have been reaching out to you, not just you calling them.
MELAS: Yes. And you know, I do want to stress the fact that you know, we had a team of attorneys helping make sure that this story was ironclad and vetted, you know. I mean, we corroborated these people's accusations and allegations with friends and family members and co- workers. And I spoke to females, too, who said that they would see Kevin Spacey onset in the middle of, you know, hallway or on set in front of people massaging people's shoulder, touching them non- consensually inappropriately making sexually lewd comments. And after my story broke, Netflix and MRC Media Rights Capital, the production company behind Netflix, House of Cards, they said there was an incident in 2012 that dealt with a former production person and Kevin Spacey. They didn't go into what it was and then Netflix says we didn't know about this until today. So there is a lot of questions about the breakdown of communication and power and what if people know, what if people not know.
I will tell you this. The production assistance claiming that is that Kevin Spacey sexually assaulted him, complained to his supervisor that Kevin Spacey was sexually harassing him in the months leading up to the assault and they still ended up putting him in a car with Kevin Spacey off set to bring him back to set.
There's a lot of questions as to why that happened and this accuser is considering possibly coming forward and looking into whether or not criminal charges could be brought against Kevin Spacey.
This is not over and I will continue to investigate because like everybody has told me. Keep going.
CABRERA: Absolutely. And what are you hearing about awards season? Because I know --.
MELAS: Well, let me tell you. So he is a two-time Oscar winner and he has a movie coming out in December where he plays a very famous oil tycoon and the push for him for Oscar season is over. And remember, Netflix, they were going to do a movie with him called gore and they dropped it. They are not doing it anymore. I don't think we are going to see him on screen maybe ever again.
[19:45:11] CABRERA: Well, so disappointing to hear all about it.
MELAS: It really is.
CABRERA: Thank you for your important reporting and for sharing with us, Chloe.
Well, coming up, a lot of minutes of intrigue. A rogue employee takes down the President's twitter account on his last day. So how did it happen?
Plus, the serious security questions it raises next.
[19:49:54] CABRERA: It's the President's favorite method of communication, his soap box, his mouth piece, his bully pulpit all rolled into one. But for 11 very intriguing minutes, he didn't have control over it. Instead the president's 41.8 million twitter followers were met with this message "sorry, that page doesn't exists." All twitter later announced it is adding extra protection after a single worker on their last day somehow took down the President's account.
Trump responding with this tweet. My twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must be getting out and having an impact.
I want to bring in CNN senior tech correspondent Laurie Segall.
So a lot of jokes followed that about the world without an @realDonaldTrump in it. But this incident raise a really serious questions about who has control? Who has access to the President's twitter account?
[19:50:48] LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: This is really big deal. Eleven minutes, but this is a huge, huge issue. I was told by sources inside that right after the election, they tightened the circle of people that actually had access to Donald Trump's twitter account which raises even more questions as to how this happened. And certain twitter employee do have the capabilities to take an account offline. If you are part of the Trust and Safety team, for example.
And there are also supposed to be alarms I'm told that will go off if someone is trying to access that account. So somehow something went wrong. And I'll tell you, speaking as someone who recently left the company, this person said I'm not completely surprised. I'm shock that it played out like this, but there's a lot of internal debate going on at twitter. Some employee - one employee told me that they believed that there was some chatter that they believed Donald Trump should be taken offline after his tweet about North Korea, that he thought it incited violence. And another employee said, no, that's not the case. You know, it wasn't against our code of conduct or our policies. And then you see the latest news, a rogue employee who takes down the account.
So these decisions made behind closed doors, you know, are impacting all of us. And it's interesting to get, you know, this inside look into what can happen and the power of these tech companies, even an employee.
CABRERA: No. Just any old person who is inside and has access to all kinds of technology at their fingertips. The timing, Laurie, is so interesting because it was this week that we saw these social media had head up to Capitol Hill, testifying in the Russia investigation about how Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
We also got a look at some of the first ads that we are now seeing, fake ads like this one telling Hillary Clinton supporters to skip the line and just text in their vote.
I know you have explore this issue of tech companies as gatekeepers, in their seriously mostly human. What more are you learning?
SEGALL: And you are seeing real challenges.
I mean, by the way, one of the employees I spoke to twitter said this could not have happened on a worse week for us. They are trying to convince lawmakers that they have control of their platform. And a rogue employees able to take --.
CABRERA: And they don't have control clearly.
SEGALL: This is really a bad week for it. You begin to look at these ads and it's really hard to decipher because some of them aren't incorrect facts. And you know, it is very much they are trying to divide the country. And you are beginning to see tech owners really grapple with the power. What do we do with this content, if it's been weaponized, if there's a gray area in between? And I actually spoke Matthew Prince who is the founder of the company
called CloudFlair. They keep power a good amount of the internet. You just haven't heard of them. They are kind of on the back end. And he recently made the decision to kick off a neo-Nazi site. So this doesn't - this seems like a no-brainer but he made the decision and he talked to me about that power and what happened when he did that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: He said I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn't have been allowed on the internet. No one should have that power. What a strong statement.
MATTHEW PRINCE, CEO, CLOUDFIRE: We kicked them off at some level because they were jerks. And I think we have the right to pick and choose who we do business when and not do business with jerks. But I do think it is important for us to have a conversation of how what the responsibilities of the plumbers are on the internet.
PRINCE: And we could have done differently. We could have just said they violated section 13G of our terms and service and subject on the --.
PRINCE: That's kind of B.S., right?
PRINCE: It's totally - and it is nothing. It would be B.S. if we did it and it is B.S. when any other technology company does it. And that is the point which is important. There are arbitrary decisions that get made and there are editorial decision that can made of this. We should own those editorial decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: I was very surprised to see him be that transparent. Usually don't get tech leaders that are that transparent about some of these decisions. And I think a lot of tech companies are grappling with that idea of transparency. And what he did say, well, as you know, he said it's a problem if there are ten CEOs and if you bother one of them or offend one of them, you owe them. You can be off the internet. In this particular scenario, it seems as though, you know, it didn't take a CEO to be offended for Donald Trump to get kicked off the internet. I think that's worth looking at.
CABRERA: I have just a quick follow-up. Maybe you don't know the answer but are they grappling with how to handle this because they truly feel responsibility? Or are they grappling because they don't want to have Congress come in and pose some kind of regulation?
[19:55:01] SEGALL: Look, I think - I would like to go back to the idealistic Silicon Valley ethos if we want to change the world for the best. I think we are at a very specific moment in time when we see tech can be used for good and evil. And we need tech to step up and make sure they build a future that is not weaponized and that looks good, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Laurie Segall, thanks so much.
And as always, don't forget to watch Laurie's series "MOSTLY HUMAN" and streaming exclusively on CNN GO.
We will be right back.
[19:59:44] CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for being here.
In just a couple of hours, President Trump will land in Tokyo, the first stop of a marathon tour of Asia that will take him through five countries in 13 days. Nuclear tensions with North Korea will be top of the agenda for the President overseas.
Back here at home, the Russia investigation intensifies every day this week of body stunning revelations and there could be even more while President Trump is away.