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FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Was Fired; McCabe Memorialized Conversations He Had With The President; President's Name Officially Linked Now To A Lawsuit To Stop A Porn Star From Speaking Publicly About An Alleged Affair; Facebook Is Suspending Cambridge Analytica With Ties To The Trump Campaign; United Airlines Is In Damage Control Mode After A Third Dog Mishap In One Week; Recovery Workers Still Trying To Reach A Few Cars That Were Crushed When That Concrete Bridge, A Pedestrian Bridge Collapsed Thursday In South Florida; California Community That Is Putting Itself At Risk By Creating Underground Safe Houses. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 17, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:13] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Top of the hour. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being here.
The open question this hour, are we moving closer to a constitutional crisis? The President has insisted he will fire the special counsel. But today, the President's lawyer sending up a prayer that the special counsel investigation suddenly disappears. Wishful thinking or sign the President is in fact preparing to dismiss Robert Mueller?
Those questions are coming as we get a clearer picture of how the special counsel could be building his case against the President. Sources tell CNN Robert Mueller has in his possession memos from Andrew McCabe, the now retired and fired deputy director of the FBI who was just dismissed from his job last night. The memos are said to document conversations between McCabe and the President and conversations between McCabe and James Comey.
We are also learning late today, the McCabe gave an interview to the special counsel and was asked about the circumstances surrounding Comey's firing. Those developments are the backdrop for another remarkable attempt by the President to humiliate his own justice department and potentially poison the well as the special investigation reaches closer to the President.
CNN has been all over these fast moving developments in the past 24 hours. Let's begin with CNN justice Laura Jarrett in Washington.
Laura, what do we know about these memos Andrew McCabe turned over to the special counsel and his interview with Mueller's team?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Ana, we have confirmed that at least one of the topics covered during that interview with the special counsel's team was the firing of former FBI director James Comey, a topic that Mueller's team has pursued as they investigate among other things whether the President had obstructed justice in his dealings with top law enforcement officials. Now, the McCabe memos cover his own conversations with the President
as well as at least some of what McCabe learned from Comey about what happened to Comey as well. Which could help bolster how Comey describes several key events that the President said never happened, including requests for loyalty, to go easy on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, among other things. And especially if those were documented contemporaneously, Ana.
CABRERA: So, Laura, CNN also interviewed McCabe. What did he say about the President in all of this?
JARRETT: It was a wide ranging interview with my colleague Pamela Brown. And McCabe's knowledge of what happened to Comey at least in his view really explains why he thinks he has been subjected to what he calls pattern of attacks on his reputation and his credibility. And he told CNN during that interview that the President repeatedly taunted him about his wife's failed state senate campaign and even asked who he voted for in the 2016 election. Trump, however, did not ask him to end the Russia investigation, Ana.
CABRERA: OK, Laura, standby. Boris Sanchez is joining us now from the White House as well.
Boris, any clarification from the press shop (ph) about why the President's lawyer put out this statement we referenced earlier?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Ana. We should point out that John Dowd is not the White House counsel. He is not a part of the team. He is actually the President's private attorney. Still it is kind of surprising that he would make these comments in light of the firing of Andrew McCabe, the former deputy FBI director.
Dowd initially said that he was speaking on behalf of the President when he first out the statement to "the Daily Beast" then he walked that back in his statement to CNN specifically saying quote "speaking for myself, not the President, I pray that acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI, OPR, the office of professional responsibility, and attorney general Jeff Sessions, and bring an end to the alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe's boss, James Comey, based upon the fraudulent and corrupt dossier. Just end on the merits in light of recent revelations."
We should point out that a source close to the President tells us that Donald Trump didn't authorize John Dowd to make these comments. So it's probably part of the reason you see him walking them back so quickly, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Boris Sanchez at the White House. Laura Jarrett in Washington. Thank you both.
Meantime, McCabe's attorney is blasting the process that led to his client firing and warning others they could be next. He says in a statement quote "this concerted effort to accelerate the process in order to beat the timing of the ticking clock of McCabe's scheduled retirement violates any sense of decency and basic principles of fairness. It should make all federal government employees who continue to work in administration that insults, debases and abuses them, shudder in the knowledge that they could be next.
I'm going to talk about everything that has happened over the last 24 hours with my panel. With us, CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier, White House reporter from Bloomberg News Toluse Olorunnipa. I'm - no, going to get your name wrong, Toluse. Say it for me.
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Olorunnipa.
CABRERA: And former assistants U.S. attorney Kim Wehle as well as former supervisory FBI agent James Gagliano.
OK, guys, thank you all for being here.
James, I will start with you here. You obviously are former FBI. Do you think other government employees are scared right now?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Ana, no doubt about it. The optics look bad. And again, the FBI being like an American public it's not a monolith. So we come down on different sides of this. And there are some people that felt this was a long time coming and was appropriate. And other people look at it say the timing seems a little bit nefarious.
Now, the inspector general was appointed by Barack Obama in 2012. That is -- it's not a bipartisan. It is a non-partisan entity that conducts investigation at the department of justice of which the FBI falls underneath.
The same thing with the office of professional responsibility. FBI OPR is made up of FBI employees. They conduct their investigation. They obviously work hand in glove with the IG. When that report was assembled and they have come to their conclusions and findings, they made a recommendation to the AG.
Now if this had been completed six months ago and the AG sat on it until now that's troubling. But if they just concluded and they hand it to the AG and made it -- said make a determination on this, he is the final arbiter, then I have a tough time seeing that this was politicized. The timing looks awful. The optics are bad. But I don't think the IG and the OPR involved in politicized process.
CABRERA: And I know you know McCabe personally. So what do you make of his claim very poignantly as he is claiming that this is politically motivated and all has to do with what he knows in relation to the Mueller investigation?
GAGLIANO: Sure, Andy was finally able to punch back last night. While are you a FBI employee, he certainly couldn't go out in the media, conduct interviews and those kinds of things. And I understand it, he has been punched down at by a President in the White House. And it was unseemly and repugnant and repulsive. No doubt about that.
Now, you can look at Andy and say, my experience with him, a man of integrity, couraging (ph) character. But he spent a significant portion of his career at FBI headquarters. He might have made some decisions that could be looked at as dubious, that could be criticized him in regards to when he recused himself from particular investigations and what he did while he was deputy director. That is fair game. But to attack him for being treasonous or suggest that there is criminality afoot, I think that's a bridge too far.
CABRERA: And let me ask you, Toluse, the President we know has singled out McCabe repeatedly. And once we, I recall from December he wrote this, FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is racing the clock to retire with full benefits, 90 days to go. The question mark and several exclamation points. Did the President make clear then exactly what he wanted to happen in that tweet?
OLORUNNIPA: Yes, he did. And I'm not sure what the strategy is. Because he is only sort of furthering the story and making more people wonder whether or not there was political interference.
His tweet back in December and his tweet just past midnight after the news broke last night that Andy McCabe was going to be fired was sort of celebratory and really taking almost credit for the fact that McCabe was going to go going out the door and not receiving his full pension. That's going to leave both Democrats and Republicans to want to ask questions about did the President put pressure on the attorney general, explicitly, implicitly, to take this decision which could be a decision that is completely separate from the White House.
And if that happened and if members of Congress believe that there was political pressure to oust Mr. McCabe, that's going to lead to hearings and people in Congress, especially Democrats calling for more information to come out. And, also, calling for Mr. McCabe to tell people in the public what he knows, what his private conversations with the President were like, and whether or not the President did anything unseemly behind the scenes when he was with Mr. McCabe in private.
CABRERA: Kim Wehle, let's add in this new information, too, that special counsel Robert Mueller has now interviewed McCabe about James Comey's firing. He also has memos, apparently, McCabe made documenting the conversations he had with the President, as well as conversations he had with James Comey regarding some of the interactions with the President. How significant is this?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, certainly Mr. Mueller knows what Mr. McCabe knows at this point. And the fact that he was involved in the potential obstruction of justice story is absolutely critical here.
And I want to make a point that getting back to his lawyer, John Dowd, Mr. Trump's private lawyer, coming out and saying, listen, we should cancel the investigation into Russian collusion for the same reasons that there maybe were justification for letting Mr. McCabe go.
These are apples and bananas. I mean what's happened with Mr. McCabe, we haven't seen inspector general report. We don't know what the circumstances are. But what we do know is we have had attack on our democracy by the Russians. And that that probe needs to go forward. So to the extent which anyone is wondering, listen, the FBI is shady here so we shouldn't have a criminal justice system, I think that's very, very dangerous.
CABRERA: But do you believe McCabe's credibility could be damaged now?
WEHLE: Sure. I think that as the other guests mentioned, the verbal assaults and critiques of Mr. McCabe leading up to this point, a 20- year veteran of the FBI with a stellar reputation. It can't be ignored in the light of the highly politicized nature of this probe, both from the Trump team as well as from the House intelligence committee on the Republican side.
As a constitutional law professor and former Whitewater prosecutor, I just think it's really unfortunate that we are having a discussion about whether our system of justice is legitimate because with the Russians attacking our democracy, we need to hold onto to our institutions. And that is what is critical. And I really saw some of that message in Mr. McCabe's statement.
CABRERA: Kim Dozier, former CIA director John Brennan is not mincing words in his response to the President. Here is what he said. Quote "when the full extent of (INAUDIBLE), moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe but you will not destroy America. America will triumph over you.
So this is President Obama's CIA director. Obviously, a lot of people who currently worked in the CIA, worked under him. Is there any reason to believe that his opinion here is emblematic of what others at the CIA are currently thinking?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, from those that I have mentioned to speak to, both former and current intelligence officials, they are pretty divided, just as the country is. A lot of people think Brennan in terms of the Obama administration because he spent so long in the Obama White House before becoming director of the CIA. But then a lot of professionals doing the job are disturbed by the fact that this President hasn't come out forcefully against Russia, against Russian interference.
So for them everything that he says about the subject is suspect. And when he attacks their colleagues in the FBI for doing what they think needs to be done to protect this country, and investigate what was done in the 2016 elections, that really has a lot of people's hackles up.
CABRERA: James, according to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in his statement that he put out regarding the firing of Andrew McCabe, he says that it had to do with an investigation, and what McCabe told federal investigators that he says was essentially not true, and it was pertaining to an investigation in allowing or authorizing people to speak to the media regarding an ongoing investigation inside the FBI. What are the rules in terms of who is authorized to say what? GAGLIANO: My understanding of the rules are this, obviously the FBI
director is the figure head and the mass head for the org organization and can speak whenever he wants to.
Generally speaking, also gives the deputy number two, that same right. And he is using assistant director that runs public affairs at FBI headquarters and oftentimes he has able to make releases to the media.
Now, Andy McCabe has a right to speak to the media. The question here was, was he giving information about an open investigation, and that was what was inappropriate. Now, that's all got to be sorted out. And I'm gathering, I have not seen that yet.
CABRERA: Are there cases where it's OK to give some information about an open investigation if you think that the publication is getting information wrong?
GAGLIANO: Yes. But generally only times in 25 years I saw things like that happen was when it was in concerts with the department of justice. Meaning, that at the upper echelons of justice or if it was in afield division like the Manhattan office of the FBI, it would be in concert with southern district of New York and the U.S. attorney at the time.
In those instances I have seen that happen. The question here is McCabe has already gone on record and said that his boss knew about this, that James Comey was aware of this. If he has able to speak for James Comey and be able to speak for the FBI, it is going to be hard saying that he was not supposed to do that.
The question is did he exhibit lack of candor or did he misrepresent those salient facts when he was interviewed by OPR with the inspector general? It is not that he spoke to the media. It is somewhere along the way the IG and OPR are going to charge if he misrepresented facts, exhibited lack of candor and that's what they used him to fire him.
[19:15:08] CABRERA: And when Sessions fired McCabe, it was 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night, Toluse. If McCabe's actions were so egregious, if they truly show corruption at the FBI, as the President suggests, why hide his firing in a news dump late on Friday?
OLORUNNIPA: Yes, that's the questions that Democrats are asking. That's the question that many people in the public are asking. And the main issue is we have not seen this full IG report. And when we do finally see the report, then the American public will be able to judge whether or not it made sense to get rid of Mr. McCabe, whether or not maybe attorney general Jeff Sessions got over his skis in trying to please the President by taking this drastic action just hours before McCabe's retirement was set to kick in.
Obviously, this is not the normal way that you go about getting rid of someone for misconduct. And there are very few things about this administration that are done in the normal way. But there are going to be multiple questions asked about this. And more information is obviously going to come out because Mr. McCabe said that he is going to be silent no more. That he is going to be telling his story, talking about what happened behind the scenes. And the America public will learn more about what happened. And we will be able to judge whether or not this was justified or whether or not there was some politicization in this firing that happened just hours before the retirement was set to kick in.
CABRERA: Kim Dozier, bigger picture here, there could not be a more crucial time for the President and the intelligence agencies to be working more in lockstep (ph). The President is set to meet with North Korea. We have learned Russian hackers had control of the U.S. power plants and the power grid. How much more could the President's tweets attacking the FBI, the DOJ, and the state department even undermine these efforts?
DOZIER: Look, the professionals will do their jobs. And one of the key parts of negotiating with the North Koreans is intelligence. And so far President Trump has had a fantastic relationship with the CIA director Mike Pompeo who he has nominated to head the state department. So there are professionals in the field who will lock it down and move forward with what they have to do to make this successful. It doesn't mean that all of them are going to like it. And they are also working, some of them, with the constant suspicion that their President has some sort of soft spot for Russia which is a problem for national security officials.
CABRERA: All right. Kim Dozier, Kim Wehle, James Gagliano and Toluse Olorunnipa, thank you all. I really appreciate the thoughts tonight.
Now, attorneys for President Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen have also filed a new document in court to have porn star Stormy Daniels lawsuit against the moved to federal court. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to stay silent about her alleged affair with President Trump which the White House says President Trump denies. Daniels whose real name is Stephanie Clifford is challenging the nondisclosure agreement saying it is void because Trump never signed it.
Now, the Trump team claims she violated the deal as many as 20 times. And, in effect, could owe up to $20 million. Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti responded to that filing. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: The reason why they engaged in this tactic is pretty clear. That is what they ultimately hope to do is move this case to a private arbitration that's going to take place in an office building somewhere far out of view of the public, far out of view of any scrutiny because they want to hide the facts from the American people. And they don't want the American people to learn the truth about what happened with my client, what happened with the cover-up, what happened with the efforts to intimidate her into remaining silent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Stormy Daniels Michael Avenatti, by the way, will be joining me live next hour. Still ahead right here on the NEWSROOM, the ever spinning revolving
door, Andrew McCabe's firing comes at a tumultuous time for the west wing. Who could be next on the chopping block?
Plus, a stunning developments of voicemail left just two days before the deadly bridge collapse in Florida warned of cracks in the span. No one heard it until it was too late.
And later, California underground. Meet the Jewish woman risking everything to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. CNN takes you inside an immigrant's safe house coming up live on CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:23:38] CABRERA: FBI former deputy director Andrew McCabe fired just 26 hours before his planned retirement. Now President Trump today is celebrating McCabe's downfall on twitter.
Meantime, Trump's personal lawyers also calling for an immediate end to the Russian investigation. Also today, we learned McCabe already sat down for an interview with Robert Mueller's team and field questions about Trump's firing of his one-time boss, James Comey.
So much to discuss here with the couple of guys who has some good perspective for us. Julian Zelizer, CNN political analyst and Princeton University historian and Chris Whipple, author of "the Gatekeepers, how the White House chief of staff define every presidency."
It is good to see you, guys.
So Julian, I want to start with you. McCabe is pushing back hard right now saying his dismissal is part of the President Trump's war on the FBI. What's your take?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think many people feel that way. That the President has conducted an operation or a war on the FBI, on Robert Mueller, on intelligence agencies, all in effort to discredit the entire investigation without actually firing Robert Mueller. So McCabe who is now in the center of this, I think is not only expressing his own position, but things we have heard from other people, like John Brennan.
CABRERA: And, Chris, when we look at this story, as we have been discussing here, a lot of our analysts are saying, President Trump's tweets after the FBI of McCabe only reinforces idea that this has politics as something to do with his firing. What does chief of staff John Kelly do to sort of have damage control on this?
[19:25:14] CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR, THE GATEKEEPERS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, first of all, I mean, with respect to what one of your last guests said, this was not about bad optics or timing. This was a brazen political vendetta on the part of Donald Trump as end zone celebration by tweet clearly showed.
You know, this is a President who is out of control. Who has no respect for constitutional norms, who attacks democratic institutions, trashes the FBI, and smears the reputations of hardworking law enforcement officials.
And the big problem, you mentioned Kelly, one of the problem is there are no grownups in the room, and I include in that John Kelly. He has failed to do the most important thing a chief of staff can do, which is to tell the President hard truths.
CABRERA: Do you think he has any clout with the President?
WHIPPLE: It's his job to tell the President what he does not want to hear, whether or not the President takes him up on that or listens to him. I think one of the big problems here, obviously, is that Donald Trump may well be temperamentally and intellectually unfit for office. He certainly doesn't want to have people around to tell him what he cannot do.
CABRERA: We know John Kelly has been rumored to not in the good graces of the President. Now we see this week, Rex Tillerson is fired. There are definitely reports that McMaster is on his way out. That the President decided that he is gone but we don't know exactly when that is going to be.
Julian, what does all this cabinet reshuffling tell you?
ZELIZER: Well, it tells me that the President is very intent on getting rid of any voices who would even have a slight difference than his. Now we are not talking about a huge range of differences in this cabinet, but he really wants to create something of an echo chamber so that it is only his voice in the room and he doesn't have to deal with any kind of opposition, such as from secretary Tillerson.
It's also a President who likes to flex his muscle. That's the same story. He wants to show people he can fire them. He wants to create a climate of fear in his own oval office, I think. As much as he does in the FBI, that if he doesn't like you, he will remove you.
And he is very -- the thing about President Trump is he is transparent in what he does. Those tweets told everyone exactly what was going on. And people try to analyze something different, but I think just read what the President says or what he rights or says and it's clear.
WHIPPLE: Here's the problem with that. Every other President has learned often the hard way that you cannot govern effectively without empowering a White House chief of staff as first among equals to execute your agenda. But most importantly to walk into the oval office, close the door, and tell you what you don't want to hear.
There would have been no Reagan revolution without Jim Baker telling Ronald Reagan hard truths. So it might not have been no second term for Bill Clinton if Leon Panetta hadn't been empowered to tell Bill Clinton what he did not want to hear.
This is a President who doesn't want any grownups around. Who has failed to learn the lesson that all of his predecessors eventually figured out. CABRERA: What do you make though of John Kelly being the guy to
deliver the bad news to the people that the President is firing like Rex Tillerson?
WHIPPLE: Well, I think Kelly has no problem telling other people bad news. The problem he has is telling Donald Trump bad news. And he has failed time and again to do that. You know, I think that he made a mistake on day one by defining the job as he said I'm never going to manage the President. I'm simply going to manage the information flow to the President. And of course we have seen the train has runoff the tracks now in the west wing as well. So I think on every level John Kelly has failed.
ZELIZER: Although, you know, you are expert on chiefs of staff. But there will be a point we have to wonder what John Kelly actually wants to do. There has been many moments he seems to act willingly as, you know, attack dog for the President carrying out his mission, and there might not be a separation.
WHIPPLE: I think that is true.
ZELIZER: In fact, that's why the President might like him. He might be a voice, a more respected voice for what the President wants to achieve.
WHIPPLE: That's one of the big problems is that he reinforces in my view, reinforces all of Donald Trump's worst partisan instincts. You know, Presidents have to learn that there is a difference between campaigning which is demonizing and disrupting and governing which is building beyond your base. Kelly has reinforced all of his worst instincts.
CABRERA: Gentleman, thank you both so much for your conversation and your insight there.
WHIPPLE: Thank you.
CABRERA: I appreciate that. Again, Chris Whipple and Julian Zelizer.
Up next, we are going to take you to Florida where more than 20, rather 48 hours after a bridge suddenly came crashing down across Miami streets. Some of the people who were killed are still buried in the rubble. What we have just learned about a warning given days before the deadly collapse. I will bring it to you live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go away.
[19:34:33] CABRERA: I'm going to take you live now to south Florida where recovery workers still trying to reach a few cars that were crushed when that concrete bridge, a pedestrian bridge collapsed Thursday. They feared they know what they will find underneath. That the whereabouts of two people are still not known. And officials believed they are probably in the rubble yet to be found.
CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in Miami near the spot where that bridge collapsed.
Kaylee, words today, some people knew there were potential problems with this new bridge.
[19:35:04] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Ana. The lead engineer on this project knew at least two days before the bridge collapsed that there was a problem. On Tuesday, he made a phone call to a floor department of transportation employee to tell him about a crack that they had detected in the newly installed portion of this pedestrian bridge that wasn't yet open to the public. Listen to excerpt from this voice mail that was left on a landline and what he detailed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was calling to share with you some information about the FAU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that has been observed on the north end of the span, the pylon end of that span we moved this weekend. So we have taken a look at it. And obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done. But from a safety perspective we don't see that there is any issue there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: That voice mail was not heard by its intended recipient until Friday the day after the collapse. But we have learned that this concern was addressed. A meeting was called on Thursday morning about five hours before this bridge collapsed. And the design build team came together. Contractors from MCM construction company as well as the Figg engineers including the one you heard in the voice mail. They were representatives from Florida international university present and to the Florida department of transportation there.
The engineer gave a presentation and concluded that there was no safety concern as a result of this crack. And that the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.
And Ana, at this time investigators say it is just too early to tell how or if that cracking played any role in the failure of this bridge.
CABRERA: A lot more investigation to come.
Kaylee Hartung, in Miami for us, thank you.
Coming up, Facebook is suspending data research firm with ties to the Trump campaign. And get this, it all stems from those personality quizzes. We have all clicked ton at some time or another. We will explain next.
[19:41:25] CABRERA: Now to a story involving the Trump campaign and social media. It concerns those Facebook personality quizzes so many of us enjoy filling out. It appears the results don't just disappear when the test is over. Facebook says it is suspending a data firm now with ties to the campaign for using information with those quizzes without users permission in order to target voters. That firm Cambridge Analytica denies violating Facebook's terms.
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter joins us now.
So Brian, there are a lot of layers to this story. Help us make sense of it all.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it all involves Cambridge Analytica. The company you just mentioned. It's this mysterious firm that promises to help political campaigns and other organizations target voters, really to micro-target them, to try to figure out exactly what you as a voter wants to hear any given time and then deliver that ad to you.
So Cambridge Analytica has been out there selling those services for years. And the Trump campaign along with the Ted Cruz campaign were two of the people - two of the campaigns that bought Cambridge their services back in 2016.
So go back a little bit further. Cambridge Analytica in its infancy partnered with a professor who happens to work at Cambridge University, no relation to the company, who created this personality quiz, created this app on Facebook. And listen, I have done some of these, you have probably done some of these.
Most of these are just fine. There is no evil purpose behind them. But in this case, this personality quiz which about 250,000 people took, the data from it was then used by this professor and then handed off to Cambridge Analytica and then used to create profiles of voters.
Now what's remarkable about this is you start with the essentially 270,000 people. Then you connect all of their friends, and before you know it, you have 50 million Facebook users' information. That's what was really remarkable about using this personality quiz to then go and grab so many people's data.
Now, Cambridge Analytica says we didn't use the Facebook data to help the Trump campaign. But a whistleblower named Christopher Wiley begs to differ. He has given an interview to "the Guardian" in the UK and to "the New York Times" in the U.S., and he says he has a lot of regrets about how he worked with Cambridge Analytica on this type of data project.
This is actually what he said in "the Guardians." He said this is insane, the company that created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans, now they want to get contracts and work with the Pentagon? It's like Nixon on steroids. That's really why this matters now, Ana, right.
You know, the election is long over, 2016 election. But Cambridge Analytica and other companies like it are still working on harvesting vast amounts of data about voters, about individuals, and then trying to use that data to target ads, to target information to us.
In fact, Cambridge Analytica has a contract with the state department. And they have sought other government contracts as well. So this is an issue, in this case, an investigation in the "Times" tomorrow about this particular use of Facebook data in ways that the company now says were improper. So there is a broader issue.
CABRERA: Facebook has been criticized very heavily for not doing more to stop people on Facebook from being manipulated during the election, to say the least obviously, with what we have learned of Russia's involvement on social media as well. Did it surprise you or what do you make of the fact they came out and said look, we are punishing Cambridge Analytica.
STELTER: Yes. This is yet another black eye for Facebook. I just put a column up about this on CNN.com. It starts with fake news. You know, there was talk about how Facebook helped fake news spread during the campaign, then it was the Russian propaganda, you mentioned. Now it is the story about the improper use of data.
Again and again and again, Facebook has been called to account for how its systems are being used and really being abused, whether it's election in 2016 or elections in Europe last year. Now the midterms coming up here in the U.S.
You know, Facebook says it's getting better. They say they know they are vowing to make changes and suspending Cambridge Analytica is one of those changes.
But you know, I was with a Facebook executive last week. We talked about the midterms. She said, look, we know we have our work cut out for us. Every day, people come up with new ways to spread misinformation. Every day, people come up with new ways to manipulate these systems. It's kind of like a game of whack-a-mole at the carnival, but with worldwide consequences.
[19:45:27] CABRERA: How do you keep up though with these technological advancements that is beyond.
Thank you very much, Brian Stelter, for breaking it down for us.
CABRERA: And be sure to catch Brian on his show, "RELIABLE SOURCES," tomorrow morning at 11:00 right here on CNN.
We are back in just a moment.
[19:50:10] CABRERA: It has been a bad week for United Airlines, especially for pet owners using united to transport their animals. In the latest incident, a flight that was supposed to be going from Newark to St. Louise was diverted to Akron, Ohio Thursday after a pet was mistakenly loaded on to that plane. And after landing in Akron, well, United said the pet was safety delivered to its owner.
Now that followed a Tuesday incident in which a dog was flown to Japan instead of Kansas. The German shepherd in that case was reunited with its family on Thursday. But worse yet, on Monday, a dog died after a flight attendant told its owners to put it inside its carrier in on overhead bin. In California, there is concern among faith leaders that President
Trump will send federal agents into churches or places of worship and grab immigrants seeking sanctuary there. So they are trying a different approach.
In a CNN exclusive, Kyung Lah takes us to a California community that is putting itself at risk by creating underground safe houses.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We can't show you where we are or who lives behind this door because the family in this apartment in California is on the run from immigration and customs enforcement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom's status here isn't safe. Then we had to just pack everything up. Everything else just gets left behind.
LAH: Off the grid since last year, say these two girls. Both citizens born in the U.S. both in high school. ICE deported their father for illegally crossing the border. Their mother overstayed a tourist visa and is also undocumented. The girls fear their mother is next.
What's happened since then when you had to pack up and leave?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We became homeless for five months. We moved schools and lived somewhere else because we had to leave the city. We were sleeping from house to house, anywhere we could find.
LAH: Then they heard about an interfaith network of religious groups pledging to resist Trump's immigration policy by hiding them in safe houses, even in spare rooms of congregates' homes. The network estimates dozens are being hidden at any one time. It connected the family to this Jewish woman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up in a time when the holocaust was not so far behind me.
LAH: She signed for the apartment, a cover for the family she is protecting.
Do you hear the echoes of history here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundred percent. I think there is a long feeling in the Jewish community we cannot let this happen. It is our responsibility. What was done to us cannot happen to other people.
LAH: This is technically aiding and abetting somebody who is here undocumented.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see it that way. I see it as taking a step to help someone who is in need. To help a family in need of support.
LAH: It is just a big sigh of relief, says the girls' mother. What happens to me doesn't matter. Everything I'm doing here is for my girls.
How would you describe the fear that you carry?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puts a smile on my face every day. But deep down I'm hurt and I'm still hurting.
REV. ZACH HOOVER, L.A. VOICE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I want to say couple of things.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reverend Zach Hoover leads the interfaith network. Two thousand congregations of various faiths have been trained across the country. The great majority here in California where reverend Hoover says the network of sanctuary and safe houses remains most active.
The federal government might listen to all of this and say you are violating the law.
HOOVER: Yes. I'm not going to lie. That makes me very nervous. And there is a part of me that, you know, sitting here and talking to you, I think, God, should I be having this conversation. But the truth is our folks are facing a much greater fear every day.
You know, as we sit here in this church, I am just reminded a God that I worship and that guides my life is one who does not always bless every human law. I'm convicted that we are doing exactly what we should be doing.
LAH: The girls have both been accepted to separate colleges in the fall. A family united for as long as they can be.
HOOVER: We are going to do everything in our power to try to convince members of Congress not to support a deportation machine that's ripping families apart, you know. And there is a part of me that thinks that a different way is possible. But most of the time I'm preparing for this to get worse.
LAH: In a statement to CNN, ICE says quote "knowingly harboring an alien is a federal crime. The statement continues, current ICE policy directs agency personnel to avoid conducting enforcement activity at sensitive locations. That include places of worships.
Now DOJ guidelines do say that harboring is punishable up to five years in prison. But we are talking about a very nuance situation here, a movement led by clergy and congregants and homes that ICE needs a warrant in order to enter.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
[19:55:15] CABRERA: Thank you, Kyung.
Just ahead, attorneys for President Trump and his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen now filing to have porn star Stormy Daniels lawsuit against them moved to federal court. Stormy's attorney Michael Avenatti will join me live. Don't go anywhere.
[20:00:00] CABRERA: 8:00 eastern, 5:00 in the afternoon out west. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us.
We have a lot to discuss tonight. The latest developments, the President heated twitter talks targeting his owned justice department. We have new information about the special counsel --