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Man with ALS Confronts Senator, "You Can Save My Life"; Trump's FCC Fundamentally Changes Internet Access Rules; Kentucky Lawmaker Found Dead After Sexual Assault Allegations. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired December 14, 2017 - 15:30   ET



ADY BARKAN, BATTLING ALS, CONFRONTED SEN. JEFF FLAKE ON FLIGHT: But this tax bill would force $400 billion in cuts to Medicare. And the White House, which gets to decide how to allocate those cuts, they're in charge and more money, says he hates Medicare disability. So, I don't know that I would get the ventilator I need to see little baby Carl grow up. That's why I've been here in D.C. That's why I talked to Jeff Flake. Because I think we as Americans should honor our shared commitments to one another. There is no reason to take away my disability benefits in order to give a huge tax cut for real estate developers like Donald Trump Jr. He doesn't need my money.

BALDWIN: So, I'm just sitting here, I just wanted to listen. And it sounded like the Senator was listening as well. I mean, before we move on and talk a little more about the Medicare benefits. Did it seem like Senator Flake was listening? And do you know why he ended up canceling last minute his meeting with you?

BARKAN: So, he was listening. And he didn't cancel his meeting, actually, it was misreported. He offered a meeting yesterday and he was on the floor voting. And we couldn't wait. We had to go do some other stuff.

BALDWIN: So, he never cancel it, he doesn't quite make it because he was busy on the floor.


BALDWIN: I'm glad we cleared that up.

BARKAN: And he's an honorable man. And I think he has some really core values that he believes, like the idea that democracy should be open and transparent and accountable to people. And so, my plea to him is to return the Senate and the United States to the regular order. There is no need to rush this tax bill through before Christmas and force 22 million Americans with higher taxes, takeaway my disability benefits. I mean, this thing would take away money from Meals on Wheels,, for foster care, for Black Lung Disability Fund. Think of the West Virginia coal miners who elected Donald Trump thought that he was going to take away their disability care? Donald Trump promised that he would not cut Medicare. So, the question is, will the Senate keep its promise to us? BALDWIN: Ady, everyone, including myself listening to you right now,

obviously wants you to live as long as you possibly can to be with your little boy. Let me just add this piece, because I hear you on the $400 billion, but Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan they issued a joint statement they will waive pay go, right. Paygo requires immediate across the board cuts to many mandatory programs to make up for any bill that increases the deficit to that extent. This is what they said, this will not happen. Congress has readily available methods to waive this law, which has never been enforced since its enactment. There is no reason to believe that Congress would not act again to prevent a sequester, and we will work to ensure these spending cuts are prevented.

So, their point, it has been triggered 16 times, never implemented, so why do you think this time would be different.

BARKAN: Because they spent the last year lying to the American people on this specific bill, Brooke, they said it would be deficit neutral. Even the generous dynamic scoring says it's $1 trillion deficit. They said no Americans would see a tax increase. 22 million Americans families would see their taxes go up. They've been lying proudly through their teeth this whole year. And now Jeff Flake is asking me and my wife to believe that they're going to fix this and prevent the cuts from going through. The house freedom caucus could get in their way. Donald Trump can veto whatever they send.

[15:35:00] The Senate likely to have trouble passing things. So, don't tell me that now you're going to pass a tax cut for hedge fund managers and real estate developers and maybe later you'll save my Medicare benefits. That's not right.

BALDWIN: Let's see if they're true to their words.

BARKAN: Can I ask one question?

BALDWIN: Let's if you're going to be -- yes, go ahead.

BALDWIN: I want the American people to take this opportunity to raise their voices and tell their story like I've been telling my story. If you want to come to Washington DC on Monday and join me, it's my birthday. So, I'm begging you. Go to and signup to come and participate with me and democracy. And if you can't come to DC, call your reps, go to your reps in your town and tell them no. This tax cut for billionaires is a tax hike for your family. These cuts to benefits like foster care and Meals on Wheels, that is not what America is about. Thank you, Brooke, so much for having me on, and for gifting this evening to me.

BALDWIN: I know you have dedicated your life to being an activist and you never in a million years thought you would be sitting with me talking about this on live television, ever, ever, ever. Ady Barkan, I appreciate you. Happy Birthday and we'll be in touch for sure.

BARKAN: All right, thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's go back to our breaking news now. All from Washington it's Senator Marco Rubio currently a no on this Republican tax bill. Saying he wants to expand the child tax credit. Is this bill it all in jeopardy? Also, ahead, what police are revealing about a Kentucky state lawmaker who was found dead and the serious allegations he had been facing. Will talk to the investigative reporter who has been digging on the story, coming up next.


BALDWIN: The Kentucky state lawmaker, who was under investigation for alleged sexual assault of a teenage girl, has now committed suicide. The coroner's office confirms that state representative Dan Johnson, who was also the pastor, shot himself on a bridge just outside of Louisville. Sheriff's officials tell CNN that relatives became concerned after seeing some of his posts on social media asking people to take care of his wife. This news comes just days after an exhausted investigation by Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. And I'm joined by Brendan McCarthy, a Pulitzer Prize nominated reporter, who spent months and months on that very report. So, Brendan, thank you so much for being with me. And why don't you just tell me what you uncovered about this state representative.

BRENDAN MCCARTHY, KENTUCKY CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Sure, Brooke, thank you. Well first off, I want to offer our condolences, our newsrooms condolences to representative Johnson, his family, his community, his church. This is a tragic situation. And I am the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and my two colleagues, RG Dunlop and Jacob Ryan, over seven months have just done meticulous reporting on the past of representative Johnson, who is also a community leader and pastor. He's a freshman lawmaker and that investigation called the "Pope's Long Con." Look at many lies and fabrications in the story of representative Johnson and in which wasn't true. As well as the institutional failures at how does someone like this get elected?

BALDWIN: And specifically, what did you find about his past? It's my understanding that it's beyond these allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

MCCARTHY: Sure, as you noted, it's an exhaustive investigation, but there are many things in there. For example, you know, decades ago he had been indicted and confessed to police about a car insurance fraud scheme and attempted arson in 2000. His church burned to the ground in a mysterious fire. We were reporting that he was the prime suspect in that. Bootlegging at his church, liquor violations, and most recently in 2013 a then 17-year-old woman who was a follower at his church reported to police that he sexually assaulted her. That is a case that she reported to police. Police closed it months later, Louisville police. And in light of our recent inquiries we talk to experts, they said police botched the investigation and in the wake of our reporting they recently reopened that investigation. On Monday we publish that exhausted report and here we are today.

BALDWIN: And here we are today. I'll join you in your condolences to the family and the community. Brendan McCarthy thank you all for you and your team's outstanding investigative journalism. Thank you. Coming up next here on CNN, protests in DC today as the FCC signs new rules that could forever change how you use the Internet and how much it could cost you. Will explain the breaking developments next.


[15:50:00] BALDWIN: More breaking news out of Washington today this major vote by the FCC, Federal Communications Commission that could forever change the internet as you know it. This vote ends Obama era rules that mandate equal access to web content. Without them it means internet service providers could potentially charge more for access, change how customers are built and make it harder for internet startups. So, with me now, Mitchell Baker, the cofounder of Mozilla, one of the tech leaders speaking out against this change. Mitchell, nice to see you.


BALDWIN: So, you wrote this op ed, writing that this creates a quote, internet for the elite. Why?

BAKER: Because these rules allow a small set of companies and a small set of individuals to make decisions about the communications platforms for all of us. And by removing the regulations, it means just a small handful of people and the businesses and the motives that motivate them actually determine the communications that's available to all the rest of us.

BALDWIN: So how would this effect just regular people on the internet?

BAKER: There is a few different ways. And we expect they will occur over time. We don't expect to see them all tomorrow. But the ways that it might affect us, first thing cable TV, remember the experience of buying channels or wanting content and not being able to get to it or wanting content and it's in a bundle that's designed and priced in a way that you didn't like. So that's experience one. We've seen that in cable TV. So, another might be you go to websites you care about and they are really slow. And you wonder why there slow, you think maybe it's your connection, but it turns out they are slower because the ISP wanted more money from the website provider or service provider, ap maker. And the ap maker hasn't paid it or doesn't have the money, or it's a start up and can't really afford it. So, you could see content just not available at all. Content really slow, or content packaged in bundles that are designed not with us in mind.

BALDWIN: You are write about data privileging, in your piece. This is something that already exists in Portugal where there are no rules, guaranteeing equal access to the web. Explain that for people. What does that mean?

BAKER: I think probably coming back to the cable TV concept is probably the most useful one. If you experienced it, remember that your TV doesn't give you access to all content. It's not like broadcast TV. And so, after you had signed up for have a subscription, it would be some bundle of services, but it wouldn't be everything. And very often the bundles would be set up so that the things you wanted would be in different bundles. So, maybe you would subscribe to a bund that will has YouTube in it, but doesn't have something else that you want in it. And so, that kind of paid bundling and prioritization of how you access things, is certainly quite possible now.

And we've seen that the ISPs in the past have engaged in slowing down websites, technically, called throttling, when it helps with their business plans. That happened to Netflix until Netflix entered, you know, an agreement about paying for traffic. So, you could see that happen in cable TV, especially on sports channels, sometimes you go to watch the home team and you wouldn't be able to and you would see the notices, call your provider and tell them to enter into a better business deal with us.


BAKER: So those are the sorts of models that we've seen in the past, and the internet, at least to date has been pretty light.

BALDWIN: Mitchell Baker with Mozilla, thank you very much. We'll follow it up. Appreciate your voice.

We do have breaking news. Breaking news, back out at Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly soul searching about his political future. Those close to him say it is possible he could leave Congress after the 2018 elections. Much more on that coming up.


BALDWIN: The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations is coming out today strongly against Iran for its involvement in the ongoing war in Yemen. Ambassador Nikki Haley says there is quote, undeniable evidence that Iran is defying the Security Council by supplying weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. The years long civil war in Yemen has caused unspeakable suffering for the Yemeni people leaving 8.4 million just a step away from famine. CNN's senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward has this exclusive report.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is how Ahmed Helmiz (ph) spends his days. Lying on the concrete floor, trying to swat away the flies with what little energy he has. Looking at his tiny body, ravaged by hunger, you would never guess that Ahmed is 5 years old. His brother died of malnutrition two months ago.

"We're in a war, there's no food, no water," his mother Surmaya (ph) says. "Only God knows our pain."

It's a pain shared by too many here. In the same small village, we meet Abdul Rahman (ph), an overwhelmed father of five. He's worried about his son Abdul Rahab (ph). There's no doctor nearby and no scale. But he can't weigh more than five pounds. "The problem is that my wife doesn't have a lot of breast milk," he says. "She's sick, too." And it's not hard to see why. There's almost no food in it.

(On camera): So, they have some bread. Some onions. No meat.

(Voice-over): Hunger has always been a problem in Yemen, but two and a half years of war has starved the country. Three million people are displaced. Many live in filthy camps where disease and infection are rife and malnutrition difficult to combat.

(On camera): There is food in the markets. It's just that few people can actually afford it. And that's what's so tough to get your head around about this crisis. It's not caused by a bad harvest or a drought. It's caused by man.

(Voice-over): A Saudi Arabia-led blockade has cut the amount of food and medicine getting into Yemen by more than half. What does come through, is heavily taxed along the way. Rural clinics struggle to meet the scale of the need. Ten-month-old Ali has gained seven ounces since his last visit, a welcome improvement, but he is still suffering from severe malnutrition.

"You haven't done anything wrong," the nurse tells his mother. "But he's still weak. So, I really want you to focus on this problem."

For Ahmed (ph), it may be too late. He's been sick for years now. He only speaks when the pain is too much.

"He tells me, my tummy hurts, my head hurts," Surmaya (ph) she says. "He cries."

Hardship and hunger. This is Yemen's story.

"My whole life, agony and I are like lovers," this Yemeni song goes. "Why, world, do you only show us the terrible things?"

But the world doesn't hear his lament. While the silence of starvation tightens its grip on a forgotten people. Clarissa Ward, CNN, Lahij Province, Yemen


BALDWIN: No words. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.