Return to Transcripts main page
Powerful response to President Trump coming from the wife of former White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, saying the President will not diminish her truth; President Donald Trump says he has full confidence with General John Kelly; Recovery efforts are underway right now at the site of a plane crash in Moscow. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 11, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: We are following breaking news. A powerful response to President Trump coming from the wife of former White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, saying the President will not diminish her truth.
Jennie Willoughby writes in "Time" magazine, time.com, in light of the President's and the White House has continued dismissal of me and Colbie, I want to assure you my truth has not be diminished. I own my story. And now that I have been compelled to share it, not willing to cover it up for any one and for any men, women, or children currently in situation of abuse, please know it is real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you.
Jennie Willoughby's op-ed comes after the President tweeted, people's lives are being shattered by mere allegations. The White House defending Trump's comments today. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I have seen that when the President is saying, talking about due process, he is right in this way. We are a country of laws. There is due process. That's absolutely correct.
But we as individuals have a duty to assess every -- everybody on a case-by-case basis. And in this case, you have contemporaneous police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under the threat of perjury, you have police reports, you have photographs. And when you look at all of that pulled together, you realize that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: It sounds like you believe the women?
CONWAY: I have no reason not to believe the women.
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: There's plenty of people in the last couple of years, Chuck, who there has been a rather of sexual harassment allegations, including your own network, which you later come back and say, there were thing we could have done better to prevent it. I think the White House would go to the same experience. MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: I think
what you saw the President go through this week, I don't know if you all played the video of the speech that he gave or the comment that he made, he was extraordinarily saddened by this. He has been let down by somebody who he trusted. Somebody who he put in a place of authority. And then wasn't told the truth. I think that saddened the President. I think you saw that this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Ryan Nobles is at the White House now. So, Ryan, what are you hearing there?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, Sunday has been spent by the White House and this administration, Fred, trying to clarify and clean up the mess that's been left behind by these accusations against two staffers of domestic violence in their past. And then the White House's slow response to deal with those accusations. And repeatedly today, White House administration officials were questioned on Sunday talk shows about the way that the White House went about learning of these allegations and then how they responded to them when they did find out about those allegations.
And among them was Mick Mulvaney, the budget director. He was on CBS' "Face The Nation" this morning. And he attempted to explain the White House response. Take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why shouldn't women reasonably wonder if this White House doesn't have a lax attitude when it comes to the question of domestic abuse?
MULVANEY: Yes. I don't think we have a lax attitude. I think what you saw happen this week, major, was completely reasonable and normal. The President had --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reasonable and normal?
MULVANEY: Let me explain that. The President had someone working for him who came to him and said, look, I have been accused of this, I have been falsely accused of this, please don't believe it. It's not true.
If your cameraman came to you and said to you, probably would give that person the benefit of the doubt, or at least you would want to do that, because you know that person and you trust that person. That's what the President did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In other words, Rob Porter deceived the chief of staff and the President of the United States?
MULVANEY: I think that under the circumstances, he wasn't entirely forthcoming with him. And I think the photographs took everybody by surprise.
NOBLES: And so, what the budget director is leaving out there, though, is the long, lengthy investigation by the FBI into Rob Porter for the benefit of declaring him able to have a security clearance. And it was during that investigation that we know these accusations of domestic violence were brought up. And that on multiple occasions, there were members of the White House staff who were told about these accusations.
And even though Porter did repeatedly deny them, it appears that in some way, shape, or form, these high-level administrators just chose to ignore that piece of evidence. So, now, they are playing cleanup, Fred. Both Porter and David Sorensen are out of their jobs, but it's clear that this controversy will continue for the White House - Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Nobles at the White House. Thank you so much.
All right. Earlier I spoke with Democratic congressman Adam Smith and I asked him about a letter from Democratic senators, demanding the White House give a timeline of who knew what and when about the abuse allegations.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: I think there are two troubling aspects of this. One is, yes, we do need to know when they knew what the situation with Mr. Porter. And you know, Kellyanne Conway actually described it quite well. Given that mountain of evidence, the second they had that mountain of evidence, he should have been gone. So when did they have it and did they pursue it?
Now my understanding is that the chief of staff John Kelly knew of this a while back, but he says he didn't know the totality of it. But I would think that the second you had an inkling of this, you would inquire about the totality of it.
So one, the timing does matter. But second, far, far more troubling is that President Trump had said about it. If he had said what Kellyanne Conway said on your show this morning, that would have been much more appropriate. Instead, he basically made it sound like Porter, you know, it wasn't his fault. You know, just a mere allegation, gets thrown out, and that is just the wrong attitude to take towards domestic violence and abuse, you know, period.
But given what has been going on with the Me Too movement and everything else in the last six months, it is beyond tone deaf for the President to react the way he did.
[16:05:43] WHITFIELD: Can you have it both ways, that Kellyanne Conway would say she believes the women. The President hasn't acknowledged the women's version of events? Two very differing messages coming from two people working in the White House, but of course it's the President of the United States who is leading the White House. SMITH: Yes. And you made the point. It's not two people working in
the White House. It's one person working in the White House and one person who is actually in-charge. And what the President says matters more than anything that any of the people who work for him says. And as a whole, as this happens far too often in cases like this, the President is saying the wrong thing. I think it's very inappropriate that he is, you know, essentially defending Porter and said nothing about the victims.
And look, the President is supposed to be, at least in part, a moral leader for our country. People look up to him. His voice matters. And what President Trump said on this subject is, I think, harmful to the overall effort to stop this type of abuse in the workplace and elsewhere.
WHITFIELD: And congressman, as a staff secretary, Rob Porter was responsible for managing much of the information that ended up on the President's desk, some of it top secret information, and yet he did not have full security clearance, just interim security clearance. There may be 30 to 40 others in the White House reportedly who have not received full clearance yet. So how worried or concerned are you about that?
SMITH: I think it's a big problem. And as you mentioned, Porter is far from the only one who is in this situation. And the reason this is a concern is why don't they have security clearance, and are they, therefore, open to influence? And a lot of it, certainly I suspect in the case of Jared Kushner, is because of his business ties overseas with Russia, with China, with other countries, with sovereign states that would very much be interested in influencing the U.S. or gathering information.
So if they don't have full clearance at this point, you do have to become worried about whether or not they are compromised by foreign powers, and frankly, they really shouldn't be there.
WHITFIELD: All right. So what does the future hold for the chief of staff? Listening to close members of President Trump's inner circle, John Kelly isn't going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: I spoke to the President last night. I told him I would be with you today. And he said, please tell Jake that I have full faith in chief of staff John Kelly and that I'm not actively searching for replacements. He said, I saw that all over the news today. I have faith in him. And he does.
You know, we all serve for the pleasure of the President. And it is a privilege and a blessing and nothing short of it to be there every single day to serve the country that we all love. And anybody who doesn't feel that way really shouldn't be there. I will just say this.
But he says general Kelly is doing a great job and that he has full faith in him, and I think he looks at the full measure of all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me now, CNN commentators Bakari Sellers and John Phillips and Washington bureau chief for "the Chicago Sun- Times," Lynn Sweet. Good to see you all.
All right, so, John, you first. You know, Kellyanne Conway says the President has full faith and full confidence in John Kelly. Given last week's revelations, should he?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that's a pretty intense seven-day-a-week job, so under the best of circumstances I think anyone in that position would have the life span of a shirt from H&M. He was brought in to bring in organizational structure. He was brought in to bring stability to the personnel of the White House. He has done a pretty good job at that.
Clearly, this guy was a problem that they trusted and they trusted probably when they shouldn't have. And if there's anything that we have learned from this Me Too movement, it's that people can be very good at their jobs and still be horrible human beings. And you can't always --
WHITFIELD: But should the chief of staff have reacted differently if he learned in November about these allegations? Should he have reacted and acted differently? Should he have informed the President of the United States that the -- that there are two very strong, you know, allegations coming from his ex-wives?
PHILLIPS: Well, I guess now that Steve Bannon is gone, we don't have someone leaking the details every 20 seconds, so we don't know exactly what the FBI told him. But, clearly, based on the evidence that we have seen, that Kellyanne Conway cited, the photos that we have seen, this guy was an abuser and a problem and should have been fired, was fired. I'm happy that he is gone. And I hope there is now a better process in place for the future to streamline these things, so that guys like that don't stick around.
[16:10:14] WHITFIELD: All right. So still unclear the exact timeline of events.
But Bakari, a new report in Axios says Rob Porter never represented anything, that was his quote, never represented anything about the abuse allegations to the chief of staff and that White House officials encouraged Porter to stay, I'm quoting now, "to stay and fight."
So if that is, indeed, the case, what does that say? That the White House wants to keep someone because, you know, he is good on the job, but willing to ignore these allegations?
BAKARI SELLER, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, there are two problems here. The first is John Kelly. And I know that he was supposed to bring some calm to the White House. And even some calm since to the White House. But let's think about it. Even this year alone, you had Steve Bannon, you had the $130,000 to the porn star, you had fire and fury. I mean, the list goes on and on and on. You had the memo and then you had the shutdown. So all of these things, this pure chaos that engulfs this White House every single week.
And the problem with Rob Porter is that Rob Porter, he actually was the person who had the most sensitive documents that we have in the United States government, handing them to the President every single morning. And he didn't even have a security clearance.
Not only that, but from a national security perspective, he was someone glaringly so, that was susceptible to bribery or blackmail if anyone found out about these instances. So that's a problem.
And number two, the President's response to this is just abhorrent. It makes no sense that you can sit here in front of a camera and tell people that you wish this person well. You wish them a great future. And to contrast that, you look at someone who takes a knee in front of a flag, they are called a son of a bitch. But this person who puts his hands on women, you wish him well and you have nothing but glowing praise against him.
So that is the problem that this White House is having, not just with staff, but with messaging. And to sum this all up, it's just a mess.
WHITFIELD: Lynn, there is a very strong op-ed in time.com. Rob Porter's ex-wife, Jennie Willoughby, her response to what the President has said in front of the camera on Friday as well as his tweets. And, you know, she has some strong messages, talking about, saying, you know, how she felt when she watched the President on Friday. She said, I can't say I was surprised, but when Donald Trump repeated twice that Rob declared his innocence, I was floored. What was his intent in emphasizing that point? My friend, who she was watching this with, turned to me and said, the President of the United States just called you a liar.
Is that the message that people are grasping from the way in which the President has handled this?
LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Perhaps not, because she has been a very effective communicator. And her own testimony has been very impressive. And her own credibility as a witness, to what happened to her seems to be unimpeached, because she is calmly told her story and she told it to others in real-time.
But what this shows is, I know there has been talk about how the press shop and the White House handled this, didn't handle it. I am an advocate of getting a fact-based timeline out. But, Fred, the reason this has cascaded and created even more problems is President Trump himself. When he said what he said on Friday, he did not have to do it. That he wanted to go -- he invited them in.
Yes, he did not have to. He could have even have said, Mr. Porter served the White House well. OK, he could have said he wished him best. But once you go into the territory of impugning the character of the woman, it just -- in a sense, for a man, for a President who in a tweet complained about due process, he certainly stuck his two cents worth in in the situation that he did not know about, OK? So, I mean, the enormity of what he did. I applaud what she wrote,
because she pointed out so many things in that essay that Trump denied her own due process, her own ability to tell her story, that is credible, fact-based, and coupled with the other woman, the other wife, and a picture.
So this is the enormity of why what President Trump doesn't understand, that his own actions are now creating another story line next to the Rob Porter departure and how that was handled. And if he thinks that's going to cause more attention on infrastructure week coming up in the next few weeks, he has got another thing to reckon with.
WHITFIELD: So the overall handling of the allegations, the incomplete, you know, security clearance, overall general competence, even about how the chief of staff is managing all of this and steering the President. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie actually had these comments to say about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I think in the end, we have got to hear from John Kelly has to what he knew. And we haven't heard that directly from him yet. And I think the President needs to hear that before he can make an evaluation of competence. In the end, George, this is about competence, and you have to as the chief of staff be able to competently run the place. If there's allegations against that, the President will have to make that call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:15:20] WHITFIELD: So Bakari, what kind of call do you expect the President might make on whether John Kelly stays or goes?
SELLERS: Nobody pushes baby into a corner, right? Nobody pushes Donald Trump into a corner. This is when he just -- he treats everything like a PR crisis. That's it. He doesn't understand that he has a cultural problem in the White House. So what's going to happen, when we push against John Kelly, when we push against Donald Trump, when we simply want them to recognize that they made a mistake, that they have awful human beings who have worked in the White House. You have had not one but two people who have been accused and resigned because of domestic violence.
All he is going to do is close ranks and put his back up against the wall and say, look, I'm going to keep everybody around me, nothing is going to happen, and we are going to fight back. That's what we know Donald Trump to be, even if he is wrong as sin, he is going to continue to fight.
PHILLIPS: Kudos to Bakari, by the way, for the "Dirty Dancing" reference.
I would expect Kelly to have the full support of the President. He has been effective at his job. He was the chief of staff that helped push the tax bill through. They are certainly moving on infrastructure coming up in the next week. Immigration is also something that's on the horizon. You need someone competent, you need someone in that office as the chief of staff who can keep the troops in line. I don't think he is going anywhere.
WHITFIELD: And Lynn, you do believe all of this is going to impact the agenda, including infrastructure or even immigration?
SWEET: It's all a distraction. And all this boils down to, the person who creates the biggest threat to implementing the Trump agenda often is President Trump. He, you know, maybe this could have gotten attention on some of the substance that the White House wants to talk about, if Trump hadn't created, you know, through his availability, when he talked about the wives and on his own tweet storm. So if you want to talk about substance and agenda, talk about it. Now, if chief of staff Kelly can do that, I'm not saying his time is up there. But what I do see in my analysis is that his credibility has taken a big dent in these past few days.
WHITFIELD: All right, Lynn Sweet, John Phillips, Bakari Sellers, thanks so much. Good to see you.
SWEET: Thank you.
SELLERS: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, more than 70 people killed after Russian passenger jet crashes near Moscow. Investigators now piecing together exactly what brought down that plane. We will take you live to the crash, next.
[16:21:49] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.
Recovery efforts are underway right now at the site of a plane crash in Moscow. And we are learning there are no survivors. The passenger jet disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Moscow's airport headed for southern Russia. There were 65 passengers and six crew members onboard. At least one of the plane's black boxes has been found in the area where the plane went down.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent out condolences to families and the victims and promised an investigation.
Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is at the crash site.
So, Fred, even though it's very early on in the investigation, are there any indications of what brought it down?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far the Russians said they are still looking for indications of what brought the plane down. It is interesting, the plane is an Antonov 148, which is a commercial airliner that' is not really flown very much outside of Russia and former soviet union countries. But it's also a fairly new aircraft. It was only seven years old.
And the fact that aircraft model has only been flying since 2009. So the age of the plane, certainly, investigators don't believe is necessarily a factor. They say that right now, they are looking on the one hand possible mechanical failure. They are looking at possible pilot error.
But Fredricka, they are also not ruling out the weather might have been a factor as well. And one of the things about this afternoon in Moscow, is that there were some pretty heavy snowstorms going through over the area, certainly caused some disruption in flights anyway. And so, that's one of the things that the investigators are looking at. But as you say, it is still very early in the investigation.
One of the bright spots has been that they discovered that flight data recorder, where they hope to get some new information from that, as well. Pretty difficult working though for the recovery crews. I'm right here at the scene. And they have a lot of specialized equipment and they are having to move a lot of snow out of the area, as well. Because it was that big snowstorm going on. And then obviously, very difficult for the rescue crews to work in that field. But they say that they are trying and they want to find out what happened to that plane, as fast as possible, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right, Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.
All right, straight ahead, evangelical leaders are asking the President to take action on immigration. We will speak with one of the former members of Trump's evangelical advisory board about what might get done.
[16:28:33] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.
Let's take a look at our top stories right now. A sightseeing helicopter crashed in the Grand Canyon, killing three people. You can see the helicopter on fire there. Four survivors were rescued from the remote scene. The NTSB is investigating the crash.
Police in Ohio have just identified the suspect in the deaths of two of its officers. The suspect, Quinton Lamar Smith. Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joring were responding to a domestic violence dispute 911 call in the city of Westerville outside of Columbus. Authorities say they were immediately shot as they entered the apartment. The police chief said the officers were two of the department's best.
And teenage slopestyle snowboarder Red Gerard pulled off a shock of a wind to bring home team USA its first gold medal in this winter Olympic game. Despite crashing in the two earlier runs, the 17-year- old, he really carried out a spectacular final effort that no one could match, making him the youngest American, by the way, male, to win an Olympic gold medal since 1928.
All right, immigration is the big issue on the floor of the Senate this week and now evangelical leaders are urging President Trump to help immigrants. They posted a full-page ad in "the Washington Post" and specifically mentioned the future of Dreamers. Could immigration be the tipping point issue for a loyal Trump base?
CNN's Sara Sidner take us to a Christian church gathering where immigration is on many worshipers' minds.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Basti Lopez is a DACA recipient. Isaac Felix is an American citizen, both are of Mexican heritage. They came together in San Bernardino to take part in a religious gathering normally held in Guadalajara. But for the first time ever, the light of the world church has brought it to the U.S.
Faith has brought these two together, but some of their political views couldn't be further apart. Is Donald Trump a good president in your view?
ISAAC FELIX, WORSHIPPER: I believe he is. I believe he is. I believe Donald Trump is actually trying to improve this great country. I believe that, you know, he's doing everything that he can to improve our immigration laws.
SIDNER: From immigration to job creation, for Felix, Mr. Trump's presidency has inspired hope. For Lopez, it invokes a totally different feeling. Fear.
BASTI LOPEZ, WORSHIPPER: When President Trump came in and he started saying all these different things about immigration, there was a fear all over the United States.
SIDNER: From the president's words to the wall, both say the rhetoric has energized them.
DONALD TRUMP, ORESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The wall will be a great help and it will happen. Believe me.
SIDNER: Are you in agreement with a wall going up on the border?
LOPEZ: I mean, personally --
SIDNER: As a priority?
LOPEZ: -- I feel, if we look at it economically, I don't think it's the best investment. It's definitely going to cost us a lot of taxes, that's for sure.
SIDNER: Felix says there is absolutely a need for a fence or wall.
FELIX: -- you know, he wants the wall. I personally have lived, you know, living in Arizona. I have seen and I have worked at border patrol stations out in remote areas. There is no protection. All they have are the spikes that prevent vehicles from driving through.
SIDNER: But Felix and Lopez can agree on a few things, such as their reaction to the White House chief of staff's comments about dreamers failing to sign up for DACA.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The difference between 690,000 (ph) and 1.8 million were the people that some would say were too afraid to sign up, others would say were too lazy to get off their asses, but they didn't sign up.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SIDNER: What do you think about what he said?
LOPEZ: What I think is that, you know, I honestly feel that that's just very rude to be saying and demonizing people like that.
FELIX: I believe that comment was wrong on the part of chief of staff John Kelly. You know, he shouldn't have made that comment.
SIDNER: And when it comes to dreamers, they like more than 80 percent of Americans polled are in support of allowing dreamers to stay in the U.S.
FELIX: You know, we have our political disagreements, but one thing that we've been taught is to love one another.
SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, San Bernardino.
WHITFIELD: All right, joining me right now to discuss all of this, Pastor A.R. Bernard, founder of the Christian Cultural Center. Immigration is on the table this week, evangelical leaders pushing President Trump to take action. Good to see you. Do you believe this is a turning point, potentially, this week?
A.R. BERNARD, FOUNDER, CHRISTIAN CULTURAL CENTER: A turning point? I don't know about that, Fredricka. We have had so many turning points over the last 18 months of the campaign and while he is in office. I think that the only one thing influences the president and that is political expediency. And when it comes to DACA, I hope, because once I found out about the letter, I signed on to be a part of it. And it is my hope that somehow, you know, he'll understand the importance of this going forward.
You know, especially around these evangelicals, who are trying to support it. Evangelicals are not monolithic, by the way. They're all over the political and social spectrum. All right. And as they gather to push something forward, they have to be very careful that they're not compromising their moral authority in the process, befriending this kind of president.
WHITFIELD: So the president has said he wants to tackle immigration, he wants do something about DACA, he wants to do something for dreamers. We've heard that from him in a variety of ways. Am I hearing from you that you don't believe him? BERNRAD: You know, I can't help but be skeptical because the reason I
got onboard with the advisory council is because he said he wanted to do something about religious freedom, which he has done a degree in terms of signing that executive order concerning the Johnson amendment. But he also said an inner city initiative. And these are the things that, you know, compelled me to be a part of it, but I didn't see any of that develop so I'm skeptical.
WHITFIELD: Usually the office of the presidency also means that the president is a leader of morality for this country. And that is being applied here on the issue of immigration. We're also seeing his leadership and the issues of morality as it pertains to these recent, you know, stepping down of two staffers on the issue of domestic abuse. How would you grade this president on the issues of morality?
[16:35:00] BERNARD: I think I'm giving him a failing grade and problematic to that is the evangelical community because in 2011, there was a poll done by the Brookings, and in 2011, 64 percent of white evangelicals believe that immoral personal act disqualified a political candidate. Five years later, 2016, that number dropped to 49 percent.
WHITFIELD: But this president won a lot of support from the evangelical community.
BERNARD: Yes, but what they're allowing, the mulligan, what they're allowing, the past, it means that they are lowering their standard. Ironically, on the other side of that, a poll for those who are unaffiliated to any religion, they poll 6 percent, all right, in 2011 and in 2016. They went down to 60 percent, just a 3 percent drop. So what is it? Are those who are religiously unaffiliated more moral and have a higher moral standard than we who supposedly present morality?
WHITFIELD: So you were on Trump's evangelical advisory board? What was the lure on being on that board and what happened that you have since left it?
BERNARD: You know, you want to believe that you can make a difference. That having a seat at the table, you have a voice, you can help to shape policy. But, unfortunately, again, this president doesn't seem to take advice unless it is birthed out of political expediency. So I had to make a decision.
And with Charlottesville, of course, he didn't represent a core of values that could quickly make a decision on a moral basis so I had to pull away and let go because I didn't want it to be identified with whatever the bottom is going to be. And I don't think we've hit bottom with this president yet.
WHITFIELD: Did you tangle with the idea of how potentially helpful or useful your role could be that as an adviser, that you could bring your ideas and thoughts to the table, even if you felt that it wasn't necessarily in agreement with the president, that perhaps that could be influential by being at the table, being in the room?
BERNARD: I was willing to sacrifice the reality that there would be disagreements across the board. But I was willing to do that believing that there would be a discussion, a conversation, and movement with regard to specifically his inner city initiative. I haven't seen anything materialize. And we are what, 18 months beyond a campaign and the first year of presidency. I haven't seen anything happen.
WHITFIELD: You don't sound very hopeful?
BERNARD: I'm a man of faith so I am believing the best, but this president makes it difficult to do so.
WHITFIELD: All right. Pastor A.R. Bernard, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
BERNARD: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, the very people responsible for the devises we are all glued to every day are now trying to get us unhooked? Hear why, next.
[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Large tech companies have come under criticism for not doing enough to deal with the social impacts of their new technologies. And now a group of former tech employees are teaming up to battle the negative consequences of the social media platforms that they helped create. Joining me now to explain all of this is Laurie Segall, CNN's senior tech correspondent. OK, Laurie, what is this all about?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: This is a huge movement happening. You go behind closed doors in Silicon Valley, a lot of folks are sitting there saying, what did we do? So they're trying to come up with a solution. You have former Google and Apple employees, Facebook employees, the guy who created the like button is involved in this and they've created the center for humane technology.
So, what they're trying to do is actually raise awareness, they're creating an ad campaign called the truth about tech. They're going to work with tech companies, go in and try to have ethical designs to teach tech companies how to actually create products that don't necessarily addict us. We'll see if that happens.
I spoke to -- I know - I spoke to Tristan Harris who's leading the movement. He is a former Google employee and I asked him why Silicon Valley is talking about this now. Take a listen.
TRISTAN HARRIS, FORMER GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: People are realizing that technology is a political actor. It's one of the largest and perhaps the largest cultural force in the world because 1.5 billion people use YouTube. That's about the number of (INAUDIBLE) followers of Islam. These products are completely unaccountable to human interests. People in the tech industry know all of this is happening now and so it's now just a matter of getting honest about how we fix it. SEGALL: What do you tell parents who don't exactly know how much
screen time their child should have, who worry their kids are addicted? So what do you tell parents who are asking that?
HARRIS: I think it's the simple things like right now if you're listening to this and you're a parent, turn off all notifications on your phones or your kids' phones except for when a human being, a person, wants your attention. So that's one simple change you could make today.
Another one that has become very popular just recently is turning your phone to gray scale. I don't know if you can see that, but you make your phone gray, it takes out all those (INAUDIBLE) like slot machine rewards. It has a huge impact on dealing like your bonus, more like a tool and less like an addictive substance.
SEGALL: Do you think we can put the genie back inside the bottle?
HARRIS: I don't think it's about putting it back in the bottle, but redesigning the genie to come out. I think this is game over unless we fix it. I think there will be half (INAUDIBLE) see because I actually think when you realize that every time you open up that blue Facebook icon, you just activated a super computer that's going to play chess against your mind to figure out what's the perfect thing I can show you?
And it's only getting better and better and better at doing that. And when you realize that you're bringing a knife like, you know, million n (INAUDIBLE) evolutionary hardware, you know, up to that against a super computer, you're going to lose.
SEGALL: Pretty strong words. I don't think, Fred, that people sometimes know what they're up against. Every product -- the colors, the words you see, they were all
[16:45:00] designed by engineers who want you to pick up your phone. It's called growth engineering. This is something they're great at. So I think it's great that we're having a conversation, but it's a hard conversation to have.
WHITFIELD: Oh, it is. I mean, it's a -- there are multiple industries that have sprouted as a result, right? So you're plugged into a lot of tech people, Silicon Valley, what are people behind closed doors really saying about this? And perhaps even admitting about their own problems, addictions --
SEGALL: You know what is so funny to me, I'll talk to someone like, I just got back from a digital detox retreat. My kids were all going away from tech for a little bit. Yes, the founder of twitter just came back from a meditation retreat. So a lot of them are sending their children to schools without tech. That's not going to solve the problem that we all have. That's why we have to have this conversation. And you know, you have -- so I think the Center for Humane Technology,
something they're going to be looking at is potential regulation. There are going to be these ad campaigns that we are going to see all over, talking about the dangers of addiction to technology. So I think it's going to have to be a cultural force.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. So, do you think that eventually it could lead to even legislation? I mean, or is this strictly corporations taking personal responsibility?
SEGALL: Well, it's interesting. You want them to take the responsibility. There's a business incentive to get you to pick up your phone as much as possible. You would have to fundamentally change the model that Facebook goes off when it comes to advertising because we're in this attention economy, which eyeballs translate to money so, you want them to do this. And they want to do this, to a degree.
But what are the investors going to say? Many of these companies are public companies. So, you have folks in Washington paying attention. I think this last year, what happened with the election and the weaponization of Facebook to upset democracy, you have people in Washington paying attention and putting pressure on these tech companies. So we'll see. Stay tuned.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, getting unhooked. That's going to be tough for everybody. Laurie Segall --
SEGALL: Myself included.
WHITFIELD: -- I know, good to see you.
SEGALL: You too.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much. All right, we'll be right back.
[16:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York. Patty Hearst was the victim of one of America's most bizarre kidnapping. Well tonight, CNN's new original series, "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" sheds light on her transformation from heiress to terrorist and back again. Here's a preview.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER (voice-over): Before the O.J. Simpson trial captivated a nation, there was Patty Hearst. As the granddaughter of publishing giant, William Randolph Hearst, her kidnapping in 1974 considered the crime of the century.
CAROL POGASH, FORMER REPORTER, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINMER: It was so extraordinary.
JARRETT (voice-over): Born into wealth and power, Hearst grew up in Hillsborough, a quite affluent suburb of San Francisco. For college, she headed to Berkeley where she walked the streets that bore her name. She lived off-campus with her boyfriend, Steven Weed, a former teacher at her high school.
It was the couple's engagement announcement in her family's newspaper, The San Francisco Examiner, which first drew the attention of a small radical terrorist group that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army or SLA.
STEVEN WEED, HEARST's FORMER FIANCE: They pushed me back, shouting get your face on the floor.
JARRETT (voice-over): Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment by the SLA on February 4th, 1974.
BILL HARRIS, SLA MEMBER (voice-over): Patricia Hearst was a symbolic target. She was an heiress.
JARRETT (voice-over): Locked in a closet for nearly two months, Hearst says she was blindfolded, beaten, and raped.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: What would it do to a 19-year-old mind?
PATTY HEARST, KIDNAP VICTIM: Well, it just completely, it was gone.
JARRETT (voice-over): Hearst re-appeared in April of 1974 on surveillance footage, holding a rifle. She and the SLA robbing a bank in San Francisco.
POGASH: She was still a kid. Patty Hearst was a survivor.
JARRETT (voice-over): The heiress turned terrorist was no longer seen as a victim, but a fugitive. Patty Hearst emerged from the closet as Tonya. Nineteen months after she was kidnapped, Hearst was arrested along with the few remaining members of the SLA. Six others had died months earlier in a blazing shoot-out with the Los Angeles police, broadcast live on TV, very new for television.
Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison for her role in robbing Hibernia Bank. The public remains divided as to whether Hearst was a victim of brainwashing or a willing participant.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR OF "AMERCIAN HEIRESS": She was on the run for a year and a half with many opportunities to leave and escape and she didn't.
JARRETT (voice-over): Yet she would serve just under two years in prison before President Carter commuted her sentence in 1979.
POGASH: Is there any doubt that none of this would have happened if she hadn't been kidnapped.
JARRETT (voice-over): After Hearst was released, she married the man tasked with protecting her during her trial. President Clinton issued her a full pardon in 2001.
WHITFIELD: That was Laura Jarrett reporting. And CNN has repeatedly reached out to Patty Hearst. She declined to comment for this series.
All right, reality TV propelled Donald Trump to superstardom. It did the same for a former White House staffer who has returned to her roots of reality TV. That's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonian."
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (Voice-over): She brought even more reality TV to the White House. But now Omarosa Manigault Newman is bringing her memories of the White House back to reality TV.
OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER (voice-over): Like, I was haunted by tweets every single day. Like, what is he going to tweet next?
TAPPER (voice-over): Omarosa is appearing on
[16:55:00] this season's "Celebrity Big Brother."
NEWMAN (voice-over): All of the people around him attacked me. It was like, keep her away. Don't let her talk to him. It's like, Ivanka's there, Jared's there.
TAPPER (voice-over): And with a reality star sitting in the Oval Office, the whole White House is almost like a reality TV show lineup.
TRUMP (voice-over): You know, I'm a ratings person.
TAPPER (voice-over): This week on "The Bachelor: White House edition," communications director Hope Hicks seems to have given the wrong guy a rose.
HOPE HICKS, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR (voice-over): Thank you! Thank you!
TAPPER (voice-over): Former Trump campaign aide turned FBI informant, George Padopoulos, would be a perfect fit on "The Mole." Meanwhile, on "Keeping Up With The Kushners," forgotten flame, music legend Quincy Jones this week claims he once dated the power daughter, Ivanka.
IVANKA TRUMP, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR (voice-over): My father values talent.
TAPPER (voice-over): And of course, this is all like an episode of "Survivor." This week, White House chief of staff John Kelly is hanging on by a thread. Who will stay and who will go? Stay tuned.
TRUMP (voice-over): You're fired!
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much for joining me this afternoon. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The next hour of the "CNN Newsroom" starts right after this.