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Zimbabweans Celebrate Mugabe's Ouster; Flynn Could Be Cooperating with Government; Search Ongoing for 44 Missing Crew Members; North Korean Defector Recovers after Daring Escape; Syria's Civil War; Facebook Tool Will Show If You Liked A Russian Ad. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired November 24, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:00:11] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour --
The moment some in Zimbabwe had been waiting 37 years for -- Robert Mugabe's replacement is set to take power in the coming hours.
Plus Donald Trump's former national security advisor cuts ties with the U.S. President's legal team. Why that's supposed to be a huge development in the Russia investigation.
Also ahead troubling news for families of a submarine crew missing off the coast of Argentina -- what this latest clue tells investigators.
Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.
NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Well, Zimbabwe will usher in a new era in the coming hours. Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to be sworn in as interim president. He had served as right-hand man to the country's dominant leader of 37 years, Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe and his wife Grace have both been granted immunity and a guarantee of safety as part of a deal with the military chiefs who moved to oust him.
In the Mugabe dictatorship, dissent was punished with violence. But since his removal, it's been pure jubilation in the streets of the capital.
Our Farai Sevenzo visit a part of Harare that is reveling in its new found freedom.
FARAI SEVENZO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is Highfields, one of Harare's oldest townships. Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, the founding fathers of the ruling Zanu-PF, have lived here.
Now it's a stronghold for Morgan Tsvangirai opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. And life here is about survival. The jobs are informal -- mechanics, market women, barbers, and a great deal of unemployed, hustling.
It's now a traditionally opposition area Highfields. This is the room where Robert Mugabe's people did Operation Murabatsvina which means clear out the filth. And they razed people's houses on the pretense that they didn't have planning permission. But the aim really was to smash the newly-formed Movement for Democratic Change, the opposition's support base. This is all over here.
Maxwell is one of those who had his home destroyed in 2005. The father of three used to be a bank manager. Now he, like so many others, has no job.
MAXWELL, HIGHFIELDS RESIDENT: All these years I've been working in the bank for 19 years as manager. (INAUDIBLE) I generally have nothing to do. I mean you turn around.
SEVENZO: He is desperate for a chance to vote for change, freely and fairly.
MAXWELL: We must -- both of them, Mnangagwa, Tsvangirai, the must come together, work together, bring reforms to the election, election must be done. (INAUDIBLE) It's unfair.
SEVENZO: Unfair because people are so euphoric. But right now incoming president, Emmerson Mnangagwa has the edge.
The boys at the barber shop are optimistic. In fact Nasha (ph), George, Mayesa (ph) and Archibald (ph) can't even believe they're allowed to speak to us.
They say Mugabe, if they'll be seen like this, they would have been beaten up for talking to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's only that people wanted change. He does view that things will change. They wanted change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in Zimbabwe right now, it seems to be a bit simpler.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To discouraged the mistakes of this old man.
SEVENZO: And then everything is better now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SEVENZO: These schoolgirls tell us they also believe the future is suddenly brighter with Robert Mugabe's departure. Still, it's in areas like these -- poor, ignored, and proud where the real test of change will be measured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's ok. But in in the meantime people --
Farai Sevenzo, CNN -- Highfields, Harare.
SESAY: And joining me now from Harare Eddie Cross in an economist and former opposition member of Zimbabwe's parliament. Eddie -- good to speak to you once again.
So soon to be president, Emmerson Mnangagwa will take that oath of office and then address the people of Zimbabwe. In your view, what does he need to say in this moment?
EDDIE CROSS, FORMER OPPOSITION MEMBER OF ZIMBABWE'S PARLIAMENT: Well, as you've sees from the video clip, the expectations are unreasonably high. He has a massive task ahead of him.
[00:05:02] The first thing he's got to do is he's got to give us a vision of where he wants to take Zimbabwe because we don't know at this point in time.
And then he's got to tell us how he intends to get there. And that's got to involve building a broad consensus. He can't do it on his own. He needs the international community to buy into whatever he is going to do because he needs global support.
And that's a tall order for a man who's been at the helm of a dictatorial regime for 37 years.
SESAY: It is a tall order indeed. Many obviously question his democratic credentials and whether he can bring about the structural reforms the country needs.
I want to ask you something specific about the swearing in ceremony that will take place a couple of hours from now. To the best of your knowledge, will the opposition be attending the gathering?
CROSS: I received an official invitation. And so I'm sure many of my colleagues have. I was asked that question yesterday and I understand Morgan -- our president, did not receive an invitation. I think that maybe just administration -- administrative glitch.
I know Emmerson Mnangagwa reasonably well. And I know that's not the kind of thing that he would do deliberately. So let's just wait and see. But I personally have received an invitation.
SESAY: Ok. Good to have that confirmation from you. As a member of the opposition though, how concerned are you that in his first address upon returning from a self-imposed exile, Emmerson Mnangagwa, when he spoke to the crowd of supporters there at the Zanu-PF headquarters that he recited those well-known, well-chortled (ph) out Zanu-PF slogans.
What does that say to you? What does that point to for the future?
CROSS: We've had some very disturbing indications since the coup last Tuesday. The former minister of finance made a statement where he said quite categorically that the opposition would not be involved in any future government. This was Zanu-PF business and Zanu-PF alone.
If they stick to that mantra, then they're in for severe difficulties because they simply cannot get national populist support. I would imagine our support as a party is 75 percent or more. He has to have us on board not just for the fact that he needs popular support for what he's got to do.
He's got to make some tough decisions but also because he needs recognition by the international community. And think only my party can really give him that credibility.
SESAY: So with that being said, obviously that's something Zanu-PF is aware of, the need to have the MDC come on board to bring a sense of inclusiveness to basically stamp his efforts going forward, if you will; to validate his efforts.
What's your next move then? What are the conversations within the opposition?
ACROSS: Well, as far as we're concerned, the future is entirely in Emmerson Mnangagwa's hands. If he makes this mistake today and doesn't present an inclusive vision for the future of the country and he doesn't involve all the expertise that's available in Zimbabwe in crafting that vision, if he reappoints this collection of old crooks who have been running this country for the last 37 years I'm afraid he's going to make no progress at all.
He faces an immediate economic crisis that he has to resolve immediately. And he cannot resolve our problems without the international community. And the international community had made it very clear that they will not move unless he points a clear pathway, a roadmap back to democratic governance.
SESAY: So just so that I'm clear, is the plan to just sit back and wait for outreach from Emmerson Mnangagwa or are your people talking to him, are meetings being held, at least being scheduled? And just trying to be clear whether, the opposition is taking an active role or passive role in what comes next.
CROSS: Our position has been made very clear. We met as a national executive last Tuesday. And what we resolved was number one, he would have to approach us after he's been sworn in as president. We wouldn't talk to him before he's president. At the moment he's president he has national responsibilities.
And we said that if he wants to approach us, if he wants to be involved he has to speak to our president. He hasn't done so.
But in a sense, we have a tacit agreement that he wouldn't do so until he was sworn in as president. So the next few days, next couple of days, are going to be very crucial in that respect.
[00:10:02] The second thing we've done, is we've spelt out very clearly the fundamentals that we would like to see done in the first few months of his administration. So he knows how to do it and he knows what the price is. And we've
set it out very clearly. If he doesn't go that route we will continue getting ready for the 2018 elections and he'll have to fight those election against a backdrop of a failed economy and failure to deliver the expectations of the people. And that will be a very rough ride for him throughout.
SESAY: Well, the next couple of days are very, very important. We'll be watching very closely.
Eddie Cross -- we appreciate the insight and your sharing the developments in conversations within the opposition. Thank you very much. Eddie Cross there from Harare.
CROSS: Thank you.
Now, a significant development in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. A source familiar with the matter tells CNN, attorneys for fired U.S. national security advisor Michael Flynn has notified the legal team for President Donald Trump they can no longer communicate with him about the special counsel's investigation. That could mean Flynn is cooperating with the prosecutors or negotiating to do so.
Let's turn not Michael Genovese. He's a professor of political science and director of the Institute for Leadership Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Michael -- always good to have you with us. Thank you for being with us on this Thanksgiving.
MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
SESAY: Happy Thanksgiving.
GENOVESE: And to you.
SESAY: So this is a pretty significant development, one that that was broken by the "New York Times". Everyone is trying to figure out, it's significant but how significant and what its implications are.
I want you to take a listen to Page Pate, one of CNN's legal voices. Take a listen to his analysis of the move.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I really think this is a sign that Michael Flynn's team is cooperating with the government. It is common in cases like this, where there are multiple targets for the lawyers to work together in what we call a Joint Defense Agreement. And that means we share information.
If we had discussions with the government, we tell each other about it and we get evidence and pass it around. So we know what the other side is doing and we share that information.
But if one of the individuals who may be a target or a suspect in the case decides to start working with the government or even just talking to the government about a possible deal, then they have to step outside of that Joint Defense Agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Michael, I would imagine this is the White House's worst nightmare.
GENOVESE: A lot of sleepless nights in the next few days. But a lot of the significance depends on the story that Flynn has to tell. His attorney said months ago that at the right price Mike Flynn would tell a story that's pretty significant.
We don't know exactly what that story is. Is it potentially explosive? Maybe he just knows a few tidbits.
But right now Mueller is going through a two-stage process simultaneous -- information and leverage. Information -- getting people on record, comparing stories, looking for weaknesses, looking for contradictions. And also leverage -- trying to leverage what he has to get a better deal.
And it looks like that leveraging strategy has paid off. Flynn probably is cooperating and in large part I'm thinking it's because not just Flynn but because of his son as well. And that's the leverage point that Mueller has.
SESAY: Yes. I mean to that point, I want to read sort of what the "New York Times" wrote. Let's put it up onscreen. "Mr. Flynn is regarded as loyal to Mr. Trump. But he has in recent weeks expressed serious concerns to friends that prosecutors will bring charges against his son, Michael Flynn Jr. who served as his father's chief of staff and was a part of several financial deals involving the elder Mr. Flynn that Mr. Mueller is scrutinizing."
I mean that's the weak spot here, I'd imagine, in terms of -- for Flynn, knowing that his son may have legal exposure.
But you know, you made the point about what does he know. I mean it was one thing for Mueller to get indictments against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates and, of course, get George Papadopoulos to accept that plea deal. It is another thing entirely when it comes to Flynn given his closeness to the President.
GENOVESE: Right. And it's a question of are they getting information on Flynn's dirty dealings with the Russians or with Turkey? Plenty of information on that. Or does it go further? Does it also leapfrog to the White House, or the campaign, to Donald Trump? That's the key question.
They know they've got a lot of material on him for his lobbying and his work with Turkey. The question is how much has he got on Trump? How much does he know and he's willing to tell?
SESAY: Yes. And again, it just points to Mueller being that methodical, careful character that we knew he was likely to prove to be as we've seen it in the past going after individuals one by one, picking them off. GENOVESE: Well, you know, sort of the rabbit and tortoise and he's
going slowly, painstakingly slowly. I mean people are -- when is he going to do this. Well, he's going at his own pace and his own pace is working step-by-step.
[00:15:05] And in a case like this which is very complicated and involves a lot of moving parts that's probably the only way you can go.
SESAY: Yes. Well, I want to turn attention to the President's Thanksgiving celebration. The President putting his own twist on things, shall we say, I mean it is of course, that day in the year where it's about giving thanks, expressing appreciation.
For President Trump it also seems to be about taking credit this Thanksgiving. He had a teleconference where he spoke to the five branches of the military -- the U.S. military serving abroad. I want you to take a listen to some of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told them our country is doing great. And you folks are fighting so hard and working so hard. And it's nice that you're working on something really starting to work.
We cut back so much on regulation and all the waste and all the abuse. And the stock market on Friday hit the all-time high, the highest it's ever been, ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, the President had a full agenda. In addition to the teleconference he also spoke to the Coast Guard, went to the Coast Guard headquarters with Melania Trump. And that was the clip we played there.
So we'll get to the teleconference in a moment.
But in that clip that you just heard the President is saying, you know, you folks are fighting so hard and working so hard and it's nice that you're working for something that's really starting to work.
GENOVESE: Well, it started out as a thank you to the troops and it quickly morphed into an advertisement for Donald Trump. He was thanking the troops but then he kept turning it on to himself taking credit and saying well, let's talk about you. What do you think of the great work I've been doing?
And so it's lot of credit-taking and a lot of predecessor-bashing. And it became so obvious and embarrassing at a point where he just seemed to be going so overboard, lost track of his message, would come back to it and then go back to congratulating himself again.
SESAY: What is that about? GENOVESE: It's about his fragile ego. It's about his need to be
propped up. It's about his need to be made to feel like he's a success.
Maybe it stems from his childhood relationship to his father. Maybe it stems from his business dealings. He's very, very fragile. His ego is very fragile and it needs a lot of care and feeding.
SESAY: Ok. As I mentioned he had the teleconference with the troops. Let's play that clip I was just referencing there from the conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're being talked about again as an armed forces. We're really winning. We know how to win but we have to let you win. They weren't letting you win before. They were letting you play even. We're letting you win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, he did say people would get tired of winning. Would you like to fact check the President? He said they were not letting you win. They were just letting you get even.
GENOVESE: Well, you know, I wish I had a dollar for every time he said win or winning.
SESAY: You wouldn't be sitting here with me because you'd be very wealthy.
GENOVESE: But it's amazing to see how he is so conscious of his predecessors and so willing to just on them and attack them -- both President Bushes but mostly President Obama. And often he does that in a way that is so far-fetched and so absurd it's almost as if he was trying to say, well you know, my predecessor was weak, I'm strong. My predecessor did this but I'm doing this. Thank me, thank me, thank me.
Both Presidents Bush and Obama made a very valiant and very serious effort at stopping terrorism and dealing in the Middle East. Most of the strategy that led to success in defeating ISIS started with Trump -- with Obama -- and was extended by President Trump. So give him credit -- give him credit where credit is due but it's not just him and it's not just about him.
SESAY: but he does the same with the economy as well. It's the same conversation that he claims all the credit when the boom, if you will, began with President Obama.
GENOVESE: Yes. That's true. There was, I think, a Trump bump after the election because businesses thought well, regulations will go down -- they have. The taxes will go down -- maybe they will. That the President is going to be a cheerleader for the economy -- he is. And so again, give him credit where credit is due. But start with where the credit began, and that the turnaround in the economy started with President Bush who did all the funneling of money into the economy. Then Obama and his efforts to get the economy turned around which was very successful.
He's building out what's already been done both in foreign policy and on terrorism and on the economy. He can't recognize that. He thinks it's all about himself.
SESAY: He is remaking the presidency in his own image. He's completing the duties of the presidency, the administration with actions taken by him. It's all about him. Do you worry about a loss in impact on the presidency?
[00:20:01] GENOVESE: Well, the presidency is one institution in three. It's a three-branch institution. And the President is not the presidency. The President is one person at the head of a branch.
And I think what can happen is the American public can lose sight of the fact that the beauty of our system, what makes it great, is that there are checks and balances, that we do have a collegial cooperative government when it works best and sometimes a dysfunctional government when it doesn't work.
But it's three branches, not one. It's three -- legislative, executive and judicial branches, not just a person.
SESAY: Michael -- important civics lesson there. We appreciate it.
GENOVESE: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you.
All right. We're going to take a very quick break here.
Next on NEWSROOM L.A., there's a major development in the hunt for a missing Argentine submarine -- the latest on the search, ahead.
And just a day after this video of a North Korean's daring dash to freedom another defector tells CNN about his dramatic escape from the North. That story just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Hello, everyone.
The outlook appears grim for sailors aboard a missing Argentine submarine. Authorities say a noise detected near the sub's last known location was consistent with an explosion. Family members of the crew have been devastated by the news and some are lashing out at the Navy.
For more, here's Stefano Pozzebon in Argentina.
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The search is still on for the missing Argentine submarine missing for over a week now. And the Argentine navy is urging relatives and fellow Argentina to keep hopes alive saying that they're still hopeful to locate and rescue the San Juan and its 44 crew members.
But this morning we see the (INAUDIBLE) and they confirmed the news that a noise was detected in the area where the San Juan last made contact with its home base here in Mar del Plata in that area on that particular morning when the San Juan last made contact with the home base and detected a noise that the navy said was consistent with an explosion.
That was enough to cause tragic reaction and panic among the relatives who are here in Mar del Plata and were confident and hopeful to be able to welcome those crewmembers back home again.
In particular, we were able to speak with a couple of them and here is what they had to say this morning.
JESSICA GOPAR, WIFE OF ARA SAN JUAN CREW MEMBER (GRAPHIC): I don't know if there is a designated fate for each of us. There are people who don't believe in that but they did not come back and they will never come back again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bosses steal the money. That's why this happened. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) They killed my brother because they sent them out there.
I was in the navy. They are some (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POZZEBON: So very, very strong words, strong accusations against the Argentinean navy saying that they were not communicating as they should have.
Meanwhile the Argentina navy confirms that the noise has been detected but rejects to cancel any of the options and they still say that they're putting on the best effort possible to locate those 44 crew members.
From Mar del Plata, Argentina -- for CNN, Stefano Pozzebon.
SESAY: A very distressing time for the loved ones.
Well, reaction is still pouring in over dramatic footage showing a North Korean defector being shot at by his former military comrades as he fled across the demilitarized zone.
Our Anna Coren tracked down another defector who knows all too well what this young soldier just went through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see him moving at a good rate of speed. ANNA COREN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Speeding down a deserted road on the DMZ, a North Korean soldier is attempting something that the U.N. Command says no one has ever done before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will see some KPA soldiers, come out of this building here as the vehicle quickly moves past them.
COREN: Using an army jeep that he drives to within meters of the South Korean border. And under a rain of bullets from his own comrades he runs across the demarcation line defecting.
"There have been many defectors but this is the first one I want to praise the bravery. He was heroic. I never thought to do this because it was a suicide mission."
32-year-old Kum Rhee-hyuk (ph) would know. He spent 10 years as an officer in the North Korean People's army based on the DMZ. And while he thought about defecting, he never imagined pulling off such a daring escape.
Instead he crossed the border into China, made his way to Thailand and then defected to South Korea four years ago. And that's where he met his wife, also a defector, who doesn't want her identity name revealed fearing for the safety of her family back in North Korea.
"Conditions were harsh. Everyone was hungry, even the soldiers," he said.
"The U.N. is sending rice and fertilizer and it all goes to the ranking officials. There are many soldiers who also die from disease because they're not given medical treatment."
The latest defector, the third this year, suffered serious injuries to his arms and abdomen from at least four bullet wounds. By the time he was med-evacked to hospital he'd lost more than 50 percent of his blood and was almost dead.
And while surgeons were operating they discovered dozens of parasitic worms, some up to 27 centimeters long which doctors say were the results of poor hygiene and malnutrition.
Back in the 1990s famine and starvation plagued North Korea but the U.N. says malnutrition is still a major problem. More than 40 percent of the population is under nourished and one in four children face chronic malnutrition.
And while North Korean soldiers are generally treated better than civilians, life is still a constant struggle.
This exclusive footage obtained by a South Korean Christian mission shows North Korean soldiers physically plowing the soil instead of using livestock. And here they're foraging through a bird's nest hunting for chicks presumably to eat.
Park (INAUDIBLE) who heads the mission has rescued hundreds of North Koreans. He says while this footage is bleak, it's not hunger that motivates defectors but rather the desire for freedom.
"North Koreans are thirsty for the outside world and frustrated by the reality they face," he explains. Those who defect including soldiers are hungry for information and have a strong desire to get out.
Kum (ph) says he, too, wanted a better life, especially for his new family. And now, working as a journalist he occasionally broadcasts loud speaker messages to the North Korean soldiers and has this message for his fellow defector.
"Congratulations on your defection. Happy South Korea, I wonder if you heard my broadcast and it helped with your decision. I hope we can meet and have a soda (ph)."
Anna Coren ,CNN -- Seoul.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A. CNN visits a Syrian town getting a new lease on life. You won't believe what this school used to before ISIS was driven out.
Stay with us.
[00:29:24] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.
SESAY: Opposition groups meeting in Saudi Arabia say Syria's president should not play a role in any peace deal supervised by the United Nations. In a draft resolution, the group say an end to Syria's civil war can only be achieved if Bashar al-Assad and his regime members are removed ahead of any transitional period.
The groups met to confirm their unified position ahead of next week's U.N. Syrian peace talks in Geneva.
While we wait for negotiations, Turkey is already helping to rebuild the Syria city of Jarabulus, a town once brutally held by ISIS forces. Our own Arwa Damon explains why Turkey has an interest in helping the city prosper and move forward.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At a roundabout, where ISIS used to display the heads of its victims, there is a brand new Turkish post office. It's complete with an ATM.
A man we meet takes us just around the corner to his cousin's home. He was one of ISIS' first victims but the family here does not want to relive the unspeakable pain of the past.
DAMON: They placed her brother's head just at the front of the door.
DAMON (voice-over): It was Syrian rebels backed by Turkish military might that drove ISIS out of Jarabulus well over a year ago. Since then, Turkey has gone all in with reminders of that everywhere.
Turkey is funding a fully functioning hospital with Turkish expertise to bolster the Syrian staff. It's also supplying the town with electricity and water and forking out for the local police force and, as they call themselves, the Free Syrian Army rebel units that are in the area.
DAMON: Turkey has multiple reasons for wanting to both militarily and financially invest here. It wants to secure its own borders. It wants to stop the Syrian-Kurdish advance and it is hoping that, by creating safe zones that are relatively prosperous, Syrian refugees will perhaps begin returning to their homeland.
DAMON (voice-over): In Jarabulus, the population has swelled to around 70,000, about three times its original inhabitants. Turkey hopes to use Jarabulus as its example, to prove to others that its patronage brings progress.
Along with everything else, Turkey is also --
DAMON (voice-over): -- funding schools, crammed with children from all over Syria, eager to learn after having been deprived for so long. This school used to be an ISIS Cubs of the Caliphate training site and a prison.
Five-year-old Waad (ph) may never understand why her parents deserted her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language).
DAMON: She says that her father left when the ISIS fighters left along with them and abandoned her and the rest of her family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking foreign language). DAMON (voice-over): Syria's scars run deep. And there is no certainty if its future will be any kinder to its people than its past -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Jarabulus, Syria.
SESAY: Next on NEWSROOM L.A., Facebook says soon you will be able to see if you've actually been following Russian trolls in your news feed. Why critics say that's not enough to gain back public trust.
SESAY: Facebook wants you to, if you were duped by Russian trolls during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Wednesday the company announced a new tool will let users see if certain pages that you liked or followed were linked to the Internet Research Agency. That's a Russian troll farm with ties to the Kremlin.
The tool will be available at the end of the year. Let's get some analysis on all of this. Alex Kantrowitz is a senior tech reporter with BuzzFeed news. He joins me now by Skype from New York.
Alex, thanks for joining us, Happy Thanksgiving.
So Facebook is taking major steps to portray itself as transparent with this new tool. But we also know that the tool will not tell the whole story. Tell us about the caveats and why they're also important.
ALEX KANTROWITZ, BUZZFEED NEWS: There's a whole list of caveats. We can through them. The most important thing is that Facebook is only telling people that followed or liked these pages created by the Russian troll farm that they were reached by this effort from Russia.
They're not telling everybody that saw the posts and the number of people that saw the posts is much greater than the number of people that were actually following the pages themselves.
SESAY: OK. That is one part of this issue, that it have could turned up in your Facebook feed and you saw it that way as opposed to you directly liking it. There's also the point that you have to go and find the tool, that Facebook is not simply showing you the information. You have to know about the feature and how to use it.
What do we make of that fact, that Facebook has gone that route?
KANTROWITZ: I think if you were hoping for Facebook to be more transparent here, you'd have to be really upset at the fact that they're making you go to a separate portal as opposed to putting it in the most predominant place in their product, the news feed.
KANTROWITZ: Facebook doesn't have people coming in, browse through their help pages, if you're -- if you've ever been in there, you know that it's a labyrinth and pretty hard to get through.
Facebook knows who their users are. Everybody tells them their first name and their last name. Facebook know exactly who's following these pages. So the fact that it wouldn't let you know in a drop-down on the top of the news feed, where they put all sorts of different things, is pretty shocking and definitely lacking as far as transparency goes.
SESAY: OK. How are you reading, clearly lacking in transparency.
But why would you do such a thing if your effort is to burnish your reputation for being transparent?
KANTROWITZ: Well, I think that they want to tell Congress that they're being more transparent but whether they want to let their users know explicitly that they were part of this is another question.
Facebook earlier this month was in front of the U.S. Congress and Senate, letting them know that they were planning to be more transparent. They were asked directly, are you going to let people know that they were targeted by this material?
So now Facebook can go back to Congress and say, yes, we are letting people know if they were targeted by this stuff. But they're not necessarily hitting their users in the face with this information.
SESAY: Will this move be enough, bearing in mind the caveats that you just laid out at the beginning, will such a move be enough to head off an efforts by Congress to pass it or at least introduce legislation to put some kind of oversight measures in place to rein Facebook in, if you will?
KANTROWITZ: There are already measures that are being introduced to rein Facebook in. There's this thing called the Honest Ads Act, which is requiring these big social companies to have more disclaimer and disclosure.
But one thing that everybody out there should know is that Congress' power to act against Facebook is actually really limited. And so one of the things that might have been on the minds of the representatives that grilled Facebook, Twitter and Google at the beginning of this month is, if we put the full court press on them and we can make them actually try to self-regulate to the point where Congress can declare victory because they have gotten Facebook to become more transparent.
Facebook can declare victory because they've become more transparent. They've shown that they can regulate themselves without the need for Congress to introduce legislation.
And the only one that really loses in this situation are the actual people that are trusting these companies and representatives to be able to provide an experience where they can be sure that they won't be duped and that the people that are stewards of these experiences are making sure that they're being held in good faith.
And I'm really not sure we can say that right now.
SESAY: So, ultimately, with such a move, does it provide any long- term benefits to Facebook's reputation, certainly in the court of public opinion?
KANTROWITZ: I think it does. I think that it's much better for Facebook to make this move than to say, he we will not tell anybody that was affected by this stuff that they were affected by it. But again, if you had your wish list of things that you'd really want Facebook to do, you will be standing there at the holidays, and tell them, saying I got a really raw deal from this company. SESAY: You said the words "wish list," and I thought, mine has nothing to do with Facebook, Alex. I have many things on my wish list and Facebook isn't on them.
Alex Kantrowitz, joining us there from New York, appreciate it. Thank you.
KANTROWITZ: Thank you.
SESAY: That does it for us. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. I'll be back at the top of the hour with a look the day's top stories. But first, "WORLD SPORT" starts after the break.