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EARLY START

Bombshell Report on Cambridge Analytica; When Will Mark Zuckerberg Speak?; Trump's Legal Shift; Weinstein Company Lifts Non- Disclosures. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 20, 2018 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And overnight, the Weinstein Company is lifting all nondisclosure agreements with Harvey Weinstein. The question now, how many more women are ready to come forward with abuse allegations?

[05:00:05] Thanks, everybody, for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to see you all this morning. I'm Christine Romans. It is Tuesday, March 20th, the first day of spring. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East, 9:00 a.m. in London, and 6:00 p.m. in Seoul.

There is a crisis at Facebook that is intensifying after the company failed to protect user data. CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still missing in action days since the news broke that a firm tied to President Trump's campaign, Cambridge Analytica, accessed data to 50 million users.

So far, Zuckerberg has been silent and the story has cost him personally about $5 billion so far. That's right. Facebook shares fell 7 percent yesterday, shaving $37 billion off the market value. Sparking both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq's worst day since February.

Now, investors think stricter regulations for Facebook are now likely. It faces tough questions on how it protects user data from being exploited. And "The Washington Post" reports, thousands of developers, of course, siphoned data every day, everything from games like Farmville to dating apps Tinder. But unlike those firms, Cambridge Analytica broke Facebook's rules by claiming the data was for academic use. Now, Cambridge Analytica says it deleted all that data and agreed to a forensic audit.

The latest crisis is a new threat to Facebook's reputation already tarnished for allowing Russia to manipulate its platform during the 2016 election.

And the whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica told CNN's Don Lemon he is worried they contributed to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA WHISTLEBLOWER: I'm concerned we made Russia aware of the programs that we were working on and that might have sparked an idea that, you know, eventually led to some of the information programs we have seen and the interference that we've seen from Russia in American elections. So, for me, I'm concerned about that. If I played some role in that, I feel it is my duty to tell people about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Meanwhile, an advocate for a strong approach to Russia plans to leave Facebook. That's Facebook's head of security, Alex Stamos. In a tweet, he did not deny leaving, but promised he is still fully engaged with his work at Facebook.

BRIGGS: Conveniently perhaps, Facebook executives are at the White House, along with Amazon, Google, Twitter and Snap. They'll talk with Melania Trump about cyberbullying and how they can protect children. You would think, though, the White House might have someone with the few questions for Facebook execs.

ROMANS: Top of the news. You'd wonder if they will have some sort of availability on that.

BRIGGS: Cyberbullying important, but this could protect consumers.

Further adding to all this intrigue, an undercover report by Channel 4 in Britain, a hidden camera showing senior Cambridge Analytica execs talking about how they could use bribery and entrapment to dig up compromising material on their clients' political opponents.

So, let's bring in CNN's Isa Soares live in London with the latest.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Dave.

Cambridge Analytica, as you can see that office building just behind my left shoulder. The company behind President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign win has been hit with an emergency data seizure order in the U.K. and a warrant is expected to be issued later on today for them to pass on their data to the relevant authorities. Authorities here believe they haven't been truthful, they haven't been honest when parliamentary committee questions last month.

Now this, of course, coming -- just following on from really what has been a dramatic turn of events following an expose by Channel 4 News here in the U.K. A Channel 4 reporter went undercover posing as a Sri Lankan client seeking the help and the services of Cambridge Analytica. Then, over a series of meetings which involved of Cambridge Analytica's executives, including its CEO, they went on to outline what can be described as really an incredible amount of services and astounding and disturbing services they could provide, including they said using honey traps, sending in beautiful, they said, Ukrainian women to really operate a sex sting, also offering bribery to discredit politicians.

They say they could send in a developer, a land developer to offer money to a politician in exchange for land, film then and use it against them. They went on to say they also embraced the idea of creating and promoting fake news. Initially, they said, we are not in the business of fake news, but later on in the story in this expose, they went on to say, it doesn't have to be true. It just has to be believed.

It went on to say the executive says it has to happen without anyone thinking it's propaganda because if they believe it's propaganda, they will be asking who is behind this propaganda, what it shows them to be covert and corrupt, according to Channel 4 News, and they boasted about ghosting in and ghosting out when it came to offering services for presidential elections.

[05:05:04] In terms of Cambridge Analytica, what they had to say, they said in a statement yesterday, that the Channel 4 reports was edited and grossly misleading -- Dave.

BRIGGS: More questions than answers still this morning. Isa Soares live for us, thank you.

Meanwhile, attorneys for President Trump meeting face-to-face for the first time with special counsel Robert Mueller's team. The two sides sitting down last week to hash out which topics investigators could cover with the president. According to sources, Mueller's team specifics to the topics already discussed like the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

ROMANS: The meeting makes it clear the investigation is nowhere near ending. President Trump hiring in new personal attorney who has claimed the president is being framed by a group of FBI and Justice Department officials.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH DIGENOVA, NEW PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: There was a brazen plot to exonerate Hillary Clinton, and if she didn't win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: Trump attorney Jay Sekulow confirms Joe diGenova is joining the legal team. It's expected he'll engage with the media and actively defend the president in the Russia investigation.

Overnight, "The New York Times" reported the president has discussed dismissing White House lawyer Ty Cobb and that the president's lead personal attorney John Dowd has considered leaving because he can't control Mr. Trump's behavior. Fellow Republicans warned the president not to fire the special counsel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: It would be the stupidest thing the president could do, is fire him.

REPORTER: How would Republicans react if he'd fire Mueller?

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think it would be total upheaval in the Senate. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Still, there is little support among Republicans to pass legislation blocking the president from firing Mueller. And nothing but radio silence from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did not respond this weekend when the president attacked Bob Mueller by name.

BRIGGS: All right. Joining us to discuss all of this, this morning, CNN political analyst David Drucker, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner".

Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.

BRIGGS: So, Joe diGenova talked of a brazen plot to elect Hillary Clinton and framed the president for a false crime. David, what does this mean in terms of direction the president is about to take?

DRUCKER: Yes, worst plot ever, by the way.

So, I wonder if it's going to signal that the president is going to stop being his own biggest defender. If they are bringing on diGenova to hit the airwaves and defend the president and create, you know, counter-narratives, it would actually politically be a smart thing, because I don't think the issue with the president has ever been the defense, his been defense has been who is leading it. In other words, in the court of public opinion, as a matter of public relations, the president can have a vigorous defense.

Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky and the Whitewater investigation, had a vigorous defense, but Bill Clinton farmed it out to a war room and a team of supporters who were on television saying what a horrible investigation the Whitewater was and denouncing the Lewinsky probe.

And I think for the president, what would be beneficial to him and what would be beneficial to his party is for him to stop talking about it, but let other people associated with him make his case.

BRIGGS: You're not suggesting the president is going to stop tweeting and saying witch hunt and going after Bob Mueller, are you?

DRUCKER: I'm not suggesting that.

BRIGGS: OK. Good point of clarity.

DRUCKER: But because I know better, so do most people at this point.

BRIGGS: Right.

DRUCKER: What I am wondering and what we don't know is they are bringing on somebody here who has been on television describing this as some sort of big frame up or cover up.

BRIGGS: He wants these people locked up in the DOJ and FBI.

DRUCKER: Yes. And, look, the report that we just listened to talked about Joe diGenova possibly as somebody who's going to continue that effort just now as a member of Trump's legal team. And so, it makes you wonder if they are bringing him in as a means to try and farm out the defense so that the president is not always the one front and center doing it.

Do I think that that's how it will end up? You know, no, not after a couple of weeks. But it's possible that this is part of the current strategy.

ROMANS: The president is his own spokesman and his own chief communications director and his own everything.

Let's talk about the Mueller team giving Trump lawyers some parameters, more details back and forth about these two groups about what they want to talk about. What does that signal to you about where we are in this investigation?

DRUCKER: Well, look, we've reached a point, it appears, where they are much closer to dealing with the president, what he knew and didn't know, what he did and did not do, as opposed to people on the periphery and people associated with him. We have been through the Manafort phase and other people connected to the president have been charged or have been questioned.

[05:10:03] And now, they're moving closer with the president. We know last week that they are starting to look at Trump Organization documents. And so, I think that, you know, now is where the rubber is going to meet the road in terms of where this investigation is really at in terms of, is it a matter of looking at the president and whether or not he obstructed justice and the firing of Jim Comey and other things he might have done, are they now examining aspects of his relation -- of his business relationships to determine and what he did during the campaign personally to determine, you know, what level of collusion existed if any with the Russians.

BRIGGS: Meanwhile, Americans, David, are terrified about Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and how much we are tracked and everything about us is bought and sold.

ROMANS: Right, brainwashed.

BRIGGS: Bought and sold. So, Amy Klobuchar, Democrat, John Kennedy, a Republican senator, wrote a letter to Charles Grassley, asking for Congress to look into this. Facebook execs are at the White House today to talk with Melania Trump about cyber bullying. Do you think there will be any congressional or White House action here?

DRUCKER: It's hard to tell. You know, this is really murky area still, where companies like Facebook are data-mining companies, they're also media companies. And Americans really enjoy their social network platforms. ROMANS: Yes.

DRUCKER: I mean, you know, I got on Facebook, I check things. People are posting all sorts of things there. It's also become hyper political these days as you guys know.

There are a couple of things here that are very interesting. Look, first of all, data mining has always been a part of the sort of American business experience and what corporations have done. They used to do it in other ways. Now, they are using information they can gather digitally.

And the political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, for the last decade or so at least have been using digital platforms in very specific, intense data mining.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Yes.

DRUCKER: I mean, I have reported several times about the parties and their ability to take an individual voter and have hundreds and hundreds of data points about them so that they can predict how they are going to vote. So, this exists.

The issue is I think sometimes people don't realize to the level it exists. And they get a little bit unnerved by this idea that companies are doing things that they didn't give them the right to do and so, I think this is going to be -- this is a much larger issue than Cambridge Analytica, which, by the way, talk to some Republicans. They will tell you the work product wasn't actually that good.

ROMANS: Interesting. If the idea, though, and when you talk about Russians, or you talk about however you're using this data or who is using or misusing this data, the idea of injecting false narratives or, you know, fanning the flames of racism or sexism, or protectionism, to try to inspire voters, that's just gross and I don't think it's good for democracy.

(CROSSTALK)

DRUCKER: Yes, who do you finger for it though? Like, who do you actually blame? Because anybody with a Twitter account can do that. I see it every day.

ROMANS: I know, I know.

BRIGGS: We do every moment.

All right. David Drucker, we'll check in with you in about 20 minutes. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: Having to have the discernment of the American populace, too, that you know, somebody -- you can be swayed so easily.

BRIGGS: Goodbye to that. But not goodbye to winter. Even though it is the first day of spring, reported tornadoes in the south and another nor'easter set to move up the East Coast. The forecast is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:17:29] ROMANS: Spring starts today. Not that you can tell from the weather. A possible tornado touching down in Jacksonville, Alabama, injuring at least one person trapping others. At Jacksonville State University campus police went room to room at residents hall checking on students.

The storm damaged dorm roofs as well as the campus sports coliseum.

BRIGGS: This is part of the large system moving north set to turn into a nor'easter tonight and to Wednesday.

Pedram Javaheri live for us with all the bad news coming our way.

But it's still nonetheless, good to see you, my friend. What's coming?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Nice seeing you as well.

You know, this is a pretty quickly moving system. We're going to watch this carefully as it pushes off towards the Carolinas. The wet weather, the severe characteristics, they're beginning to dwindle. I think by 9:00 a.m. this morning, the threat for the Carolinas really begins to be limited and parts of that northern and central Florida still could see severe weather throughout this afternoon.

But even in the past 24 hours, only three reports of tornadoes with us, or at least the very severe aspect of this, the threatening aspect of this has not materialized on a large scale.

But here is what we're watching going on in for over the next several hours. Into this afternoon, and tonight, the system pushes up towards the Carolinas, into the Delmarva. And we do have winter weather advisories really stretching out of places from the Ohio Valley, all the way throughout the Northeast here for what Dave said there, which is the fourth nor'easter in as many weeks, pretty impressive set up here and really depending on the track of the system dictates the most impressive amount of this snowstorm if it all materializes.

Now, I got to often say this, depending on people always ask me. If it's severe weather, if it's tornadoes, if it's hurricanes that are most difficult whether elements to forecast. They are nor'easters. They are snowstorms that are most difficult to forecast, because that track really shifts dramatically and it dictates significantly on how much snow will come down.

But at this point, you look at this and you look at what the initial forecast are, only about a half an inch have come down in places like D.C. so far in March, could be as much as six in New York, could see as much as 10 to 11, where only three inches have come down so far. So, the nor'easter could be impacting newer cities -- guys. BRIGGS: This time yesterday, we were expecting three inches. Not

much, but that has changed.

Thank you, my friend.

JAVAHERI: We could those shifts again, yes.

BRIGGS: OK, we hope so.

ROMANS: Thank you so much.

BRIGGS: Coming up, Loyola of Chicago has busted tons of brackets, but their 98-year-old super fan sister Jean has a dilemma. Andy Scholes with our "Bleacher Report", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:23:42] ROMANS: The Weinstein Company filing for bankruptcy protection. It's hoping for an organized sale process to a private equity firm. The same time, the Weinstein board says it is ending all non-disclosure agreements related to the sexual misconduct by Harvey Weinstein effective immediately. That could be more victims coming forward. The company calls its an important step toward justice for any victims who have been silence, adding no one should be afraid to speak out.

BRIGGS: All right. After a health scare, Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue is stepping away from the team.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report" this morning. Hey, buddy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, guys.

You know, Ty Lue says he had chest pains, loss of sleep and other troubling symptoms throughout the season. Despite having a bunch of tests, doctors still can't find out what's wrong. So, Lue is going to step away from the team for the time being. LeBron says Lue has been a warrior for trying to fight through his issues, but his health is the most important thing right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: It's like losing one of your best players. Obviously, a guy that is pretty much the captain of our ship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Larry Drew will coach the Cavs in Lue's absence. The team getting Kevin Love back from injury last night. And LeBron scoring 40 points to lead Cleveland to a 124-117 win over the Bucks.

All right. Sentimental favorites left in this year's NCAA tournament is 11th seed Loyola-Chicago. [05:25:02] And their secret weapon may be their 98-year-old team

chaplain, Sister Jean. She leads the team in prayer before every game.

Sister Jean actually picked the Ramblers to make head it to the sweet 16 in her bracket. But she has them losing in the next round. She believes she will get that pick wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Sister Jean has you guys losing in sweet 16. How is it kind of (INAUDIBLE)

LUCAS WILLIAMSON, LOYOLA CHICAGO: Sister Jean, she's been our biggest supporter. She's definitely going to be our biggest supporter. But we're going to have to prove, we're going to have to bust her bracket on this one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Barber shop night at the 76ers game lat night. And check out the haircut some of the Sixers staffers got. Look at this, one guy got Joel Embiid carved into his head. That's just incredible. Look at the detail in that haircut.

And my question really is, what's that going to look like next week? Is it going to look like Chewbacca? I mean, because it's not going to stay like that obviously.

BRIGGS: Chewbacca.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIGGS: That's a great point, Andy Scholes.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes, thank you.

BRIGGS: Chewbacca, well said.

ROMANS: All right. Twenty-six minutes past the hour.

If you care about your privacy online -- wait, do we have privacy online?

BRIGGS: No.

ROMANS: No.

BRIGGS: There is no privacy online.

ROMANS: Where is Mark Zuckerberg? What are you going to tell us about Cambridge Analytica sharing data of 50 million users? Make it right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)