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Mark Zuckerberg Discusses Testifying Before Congress and Internet Regulations; President Trump Comments on His Campaign's Internet Operations; Interview with Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired March 22, 2018 - 8:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, CNN has learned Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is interested in asking President Trump about four topics if he sits down with them for an interview. All of this as the House is set to vote this afternoon on a $1.3 trillion spending package. Will lawmakers pass it in time before tomorrow's deadline to avert another government shutdown.
We've got all that covered for you this morning. We begin with CNN's Laurie Segall live in San Francisco with more on her exclusive interview. Laurie?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erica. As you guys said before, people are just waiting to hear from Mark, waiting for him to come forward for the accountability. There's so much anger over what happened with this user data, so many unanswered questions. I came to Menlo Park, I went to Facebook's offices. We actually sat in Mark Zuckerberg's office, something called the fish bowl. And he started out by just saying I'm sorry. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: Let me start with just a basic question, Mark, what happened? What went wrong?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: So this was a major breach of trust, and I'm really sorry that this happened. We have a basic responsibility to protect people's data. And if we can't do that, then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. So our responsibility now is to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
SEGALL: Lawmakers in the United States and the U.K. are asking you to testify. Everybody wants you to show up. Will you testify before Congress?
ZUCKERBERG: So the short answer is I'm happy to if it's the right thing to do. Facebook testifies in Congress regularly on a number of topics, some high profile and some not. And our objective is always to provide Congress, the extremely important job, to have the most information that they can. We see a small slice of activity on Facebook. But Congress gets to have access to the information across Facebook and all other companies and the intelligence community and everything. So what we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the
most knowledge about what Congress is trying to learn. So if that's me, then I am happy to go. What I think we found so far is that typically there are people whose whole job is focused on an area, but I would imagine at some point that there will be a topic where I am the sole authority on and it will make sense for me to do it.
SEGALL: You are the brand of Facebook, you're the name of Facebook. People want to hear from you.
ZUCKERBERG: And that's why I'm doing this interview. But I think that the question in a question of Congressional testimony is what is the goal. And that's not a media opportunity, or at least it's not supposed to be. The goal there I think is to get Congress all the information they need to do their extremely important job. And we just want to make sure we send whoever is best informed doing that.
I agree separately that there's an element of accountability where I should be out there doing more interviews. As uncomfortable as it is for me to do a TV interview, I think this is an important thing that as a discipline for what we're doing, I should be out there and being asked hard questions by journalists.
SEGALL: Given the stakes here, why shouldn't be Facebook be regulated?
ZUCKERBERG: I actually am not sure we shouldn't be regulated. I think in general technology is an increasingly important trend in the world, and I actually think the question is more what is the right regulation rather than yes or no, should it be regulated.
SEGALL: What's the right regulation?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, there are some basic things and I think there are big intellectual debates. On the basic side, there are things like ads transparency regulation that I would love to see. If you look at how much regulation there is around advertising on TV, in print, it's just not clear why there should be less on the Internet. You should have the same level of transparency required.
I don't know if a bill is going to pass. I know a couple of senators are working really hard on this. But we're committed and we've actually started rolling out ad transparency tools that accomplish most of the things that are in all the bills that people are talking about today, because we think this is an important thing. People should know who is buying the ads that they see on Facebook and you should be able to go to any page and see all the ads that people are running to different audiences.
SEGALL: How has being a father changed your commitment to users and changed your commitment to their future, and what a kinder Facebook looks like?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, I think having kids changes a lot.
SEGALL: Like what? ZUCKERBERG: I used to think that the most important thing to me by
far was my having the greatest positive impact across the world that I can. And now I really just care about building something that my girls are going to grow up and be proud of me for. And that's what is kind of my guiding philosophy at this point. When I come and work on a lot of hard things during the day and I go home and just ask, will my girls be proud of what I did today.
[08:05:14] SEGALL: A rare emotional moment from Mark Zuckerberg. You can see him, I think we've all watched Mark grow up with the platform. Facebook launched in 2004 and it's 2018. This is a company that's been around for 18 years. And it's been interesting, when you look at a lot of these founders who created the technology that has disrupted so much, a lot of these folks are in their 30s now. They're now having children and they're now looking at the world in a different way, or we're hoping they're looking at the world in a different way, because I will say this, guys, it's an important time in technology. We're at this pivotal moment where technology is neutral. It can do good and it can do bad and we need our leaders to step up and understand the impact of the algorithms for their kids as you see Mark talk about.
HILL: And there's also that call, Laurie, for tech companies to step up and take some more responsibility for the technology that they're throwing out there and to better understand the impact.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The internet has been given a pass in a lot of different ways, and we'll see if that's going to change. And it's interesting, Laurie asked about being a parent. You've got two parents right here. You know what he's going to be worried about, whether his kids are safe when they're online, whether or not people can exploit them online, whether people can get their information and use it against them and hurt them online. And that's the same consideration that he should have right now for those 50 million people.
So let's discuss this right now, CNN political analysts Jonathan Martin and Joshua Green. Josh is the author of "Devil's Bargain" which specifically addresses Steve Bannon's ties to Cambridge Analytica. All right, Josh, let's start with you on this. This is not new information from anybody that understood the Trump campaign team and Steve Bannon. What is the reality of the relationship to of Bannon to Cambridge and Cambridge to the campaign?
JOSH GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Bannon had a three-part plan to try and stop Hillary from getting to the White House. One was to galvanize this nationalist movement, politicians like Jeff Sessions. The second way was to build out an investigative capacity, start a non-profit that produced the "Clinton Cash" book. And then the third branch was to build the data capability that would allow him and the leaders of this movement, including the Mercers, his benefactors at the time who put up the money behind Cambridge Analytica, to do things like test phrases like the "deep state" and "drain the swamp," which Andrew Wylie, the Cambridge whistleblower, has come out and said Bannon and Cambridge were doing in 2014. So basically Bannon and Cambridge took advantage of the fact that Facebook was asleep at the switch during this period and exploited the data that they had access to.
HILL: And in terms of Facebook being asleep at the switch, Mark Zuckerberg all but admitting to that, although not in so many words. But it was very clear that he didn't have a grasp of had actually happen, that they don't know what happened. And they haven't started any of this planning that they're talking about in the statement they put out yesterday and that he was trying to spin in the interview with Laurie. They actually haven't started that process. They still have to build a lot of this out. And when he was asked about whether or not Facebook had an impact in the 2016 election, his response, Jonathan, was that it's hard to assess, which is interesting because most people looking at this, and certainly, Josh, with your book, as we look at this, it's pretty clear that there was an impact in some way.
JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I think Facebook is dealing with crisis P.R. right now, and they don't want to say too much that could potentially bring more regulations from Washington that they actually want. But at the same time they have to show some level of contrition here because people are, of course, angry about what happened during the campaign. So you see Zuckerberg waiting for days to address this, and then doing a half contrition but not quite full mea culpa deal, I think in large part because they don't want to be heavily regulated and they don't want to be hauled before committees in Washington and be forced to account for what happened.
CUOMO: Look, the community standards and the how your information is shared that we all click off on so we can keep using the platform is like this thick. It's been lawyered to death because there's a lot going on there that they don't necessarily want to play up as part of the consumer platform, Josh.
Here is one of the political considerations. We know that they're about volume, these businesses. It's about how many people they have online. Curating that number isn't exactly in their interest. How do we know that? Look at duplicate profiles. We're doing a documentary right now about online dating problem and we have people who are begging Facebook to take down duplicate platforms for them, Facebook pages, and they have a 50/50 chance of success.
[08:10:01] What does that tell you? That these companies are going to act out of consequence, not out of conscience. So the question is will that be done for them, Josh? Do you think we're going to see regulation here, lawmakers stepping up and saying you have to do more, we're going to make sure of it.
GREEN: I really do think we're going to see this eventually. The problem Facebook has is their business model is built upon selling user data to as many people as they can. So it goes directly against their profit imperative to do things like limit the ability of some of these app designers to steal people's information and sell it to other actors as Cambridge Analytica allegedly did. Look, this problem was obvious three, four years ago. If people like
Steve Bannon recognized it and could exploit it, then a lot of other people knew it was going on, too. And yet Facebook which was alerted to this years ago by reporters has chosen not to act until now when it's become such a public problem that it's hitting their stock price.
HILL: Let's shift gears for a minute here because I want you take on this. Jonathan, CNN has learned that there are definitely four topics Robert Mueller would like to talk to the president about, among them that June, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with the Russians and Don Junior. The president's role in crafting statement about said meeting and also the firings of both Michael Flynn and James Comey. On the face those topics not entirely shocking. Does that change anything, though, do you think, Jonathan, in terms of the way the president and his legal team may be approaching this?
MARTIN: It doesn't change the fact that there are folks on his legal team who are going to want him to not cooperate because he doesn't want to expose the president to potentially making a false statement, especially given that three of the four of those matters the president was directly involved in. I think especially dicey is the middle one you just had in your graphic, the crafting of the statement on Air Force One the president himself was directly involved in, because then you raise, there it is, Air Force One statement, because then you raise the matter potentially of obstruction of justice. And that's where it gets very dicey for the president.
But this is why there's this ongoing fight between he and his lawyers about whether or not to sit down and cooperate with Mueller. Look, the lawyers know what this president does. They've seen past that he's given where he's wandered away from the facts. And they're worried about him doing that again. The president, of course, is not lacking confidence and wants to be able to get out there and stand up for his side and tell his story. He has great confidence, as we know, in himself and his ability to get out of any danger. So I think that's what this comes down to is if the president himself is going to be overrule his own lawyers.
CUOMO: Josh, quick question. The president tweeted this morning, kind of poking fun at how during the campaign people said that he couldn't compete with Hillary's big Internet operation. He says they're not saying that anymore. Do you think he knows what Cambridge Analytica did for him?
GREEN: I don't think Trump has any idea. He is not an in-the-weeds Internet kind of guy. He's a grab the Twitter feed and start hazing your opponents kind of guy.
GREEN: But he's right. He's actually right in the tweet. He went on to say the media said I wasn't spending enough money and didn't have a good enough tech plan. Well, I did and I won. He's right about that.
CUOMO: And he elevated Parscale, Brad Parscale. He may run the operation now. Basically this is what he was doing. GREEN: I'll say this -- Trump did understand the power of Facebook and social media. He talked about this again and again and again. I talked to him about it shortly after he won the nomination. He basically thought he could run his campaign through Facebook which in the end he pretty much did. And not only did he manage to amass millions of donors, he may also have worked with some of this purloined data wittingly or otherwise.
CUOMO: I think there's going to be more questions about this, about what they knew, who knew what. I think there's a little bit more to this Cambridge than we're thinking right now. Gentlemen, appreciate it. You make us better every time you're on. Thank you.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is willing to testify before Congress about the Cambridge Analytica data scandal if he is the right guy to do it. That is called, my friends, a hedge. Next we have a Republican lawmaker with what he wants to see, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:17:55] MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: I'm happy to if it's the right thing to do. what we try to do is send the person at Facebook who will have the most knowledge about what Congress is trying to learn. So, if that's me, then I'm happy to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Who else would it be? That's Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg in a CNN exclusive interview, talking about calls for him to testify before Congress about the company's massive data breach.
So, what are lawmakers going to do?
Let's ask Republican Congressman Chris Stewart of Utah. He's a member of the House Intel Committee, which will be briefed by Facebook officials this week.
Chris, thanks for taking the opportunity as always. Do you think the officials from Facebook should include Mark Zuckerberg?
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R), UTAH: Well, I don't know who would be better. I think, frankly, to protect the credibility of his own company, he needs to be out ahead of this. I don't think it works for him to send a surrogate. He needs to be the voice and the face of the company as they try to rebuild or maintain the credibility of what they've been doing.
CUOMO: Now, we all know that the ability to safeguard personal information is an issue, right? We know there are proprietary interests in the use of that information by some of these platforms and that there are some problems with who can get their hands on it.
Do you think it's time for more regulation?
STEWART: Yes, I actually think it probably is.
And, you know, if we can go up to 60,000 feet, there's three things we know. These companies gather our private information and they monetize it. We also know that political campaigns gather that private information or buy that private information and use it to move voters. And the third thing is that our adversaries use that information to divide us. They use social media to make us fight with one another and also to move voters.
And knowing that, you know, I don't think we can be terribly surprised that we see these types of things. But the companies have to be transparent. They have to be ethical and it might be time for government to take a more aggressive oversight role.
CUOMO: Trouble with your party who are in the regulation-the-bad mode.
[08:20:01] Problems with Democrats who are in the Internet-should-be- free mode. How do you deal with those positions?
STEWART: Yes, you know, if I know all the answers to that, I'd be the smartest man in the world because it's a complicated problem. It really is.
And we're really just beginning to look at it. This is something we've allowed to grow and develop on its own as it should have. And, by the way, I'm win of those who believe in a free market. I'm one of those who believe that this thing growing through grassroots and growing from the ground up is the best way to go.
At some point, I think there might be an appropriate role if nothing else but to set standards and to make sure that those standards are enforced and that there is transparency. I got to tell you, Chris, one more time, people can't be shocked at this, they can't be surprised knowing that when they put information on Facebook, someone is doing something with it. They have to have known that, which, by the way, is why I'm not on Facebook. I have a problem with that. But it turns out most people don't.
CUOMO: Well, look, they want to be part of the community and everybody sees the big thick thing, you know, it's not in paper, it's online, but they know it's really long and they check off and agree to it because they want to be part of the community. But that's where you come in, that's where regulation comes in.
You know, not all regulation is bad. And this is exactly one of those situations, so we'll see if the men and women on the left and the right can get together and deal with something that we all know is an ongoing concern.
Let me ask you about another on going concern while I have you, Congressman -- 2,232 pages of omnibus beauty is coming your way to be dealt with by Friday. Now, you haven't read all of it. No one you know has read all of it.
And do you see that as part of the problem with this constipated process?
STEWART: Oh, no question about it. Your description, constipated process is overly gracious, frankly.
I mean, I sit on appropriations as well as intel. We work so hard from January to August and all that work just disappears. It goes into some black hole, and months later, many months later, we're given an omnibus on an evening one day and said we're going to vote on this tomorrow. It frustrates the life out of me.
You know, as you indicated, just the ability to read and digest the document is nearly impossible. It's extraordinarily frustrating and we work so hard for months and we don't see that being put into the final product. I'm not the only one who feels that way.
There's many members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, who truly believe we have to reform this process. We can't keep doing the same thing and expect any kind of different result.
CUOMO: But that's exactly what keeps happening, right? I mean, and just look, one of the little fallouts from this is you're going to wind up voting for this, most guys will, because you don't want to shut down the government and this is the last thing that you're going to do before the midterm elections. And then you're going to have some punk like me who is going to go through all of it and say to you, Chris Stewart, you voted in favor of this, that means you're in favor of this, this and this, and you're not even going to know it was in there.
CUOMO: So, what is the chance that there's any progress in terms of doing things better down there?
STEWART: I actually think there is a chance. Here's a reason: we have a bicameral, it's Republicans, Democrats, senators and members of Congress who are working -- have a small working committee that will reform this. And the ideas are very simple.
One thing, go to a two-year budget, you know, so we don't go lurching month to month from a CR to CR potential shutdown.
STEWART: That's a really simple thing. Why would anyone object to that? And again --
CUOMO: Because they won't get a chance to fight over it in an incremental fashion. And, look, that's the premium right now. The premium is in finger-pointing, Chris, I mean, between the two parties. That's the value right now, whether it's the pundits or the politicians, they're worse, they're wrong, they're bad.
You know, that's what you guys are doing down there right now.
STEWART: Well, maybe, but I mean, at some point, you reach -- again, you reach a point where you go, the benefit is just not worth the cost. And for those -- I hope I'm not among them. For those that would rather finger point than fix something and make it better, at some point they say the pain is not worth it any longer. And I think we've reached that point.
And again, across the aisle, the Democrats are frustrated by this. I know my party is. I'm an appropriator and even myself on that committee, I'm very angry and frustrated with this. I would certainly support some of these reforms.
CUOMO: I mean, you know, you look at it. No DACA, nothing figured out about how to help people with their health insurance premiums. Nothing for the V.A. You know, everybody talking about Shulkin and how we have to do better there.
There was a deal on the table, nothing happens. These are big ticket items.
CUOMO: Two thousand pages, they didn't make their weigh in. And we're talking about the dysfunction.
And that leads us to the last topic --
STEWART: Chris, could I say one thing real quick on that.
CUOMO: Please? Please?
STEWART: This is ironically a pretty good example of, believe it or not, a bipartisan protocol, because you're going to have a lot of Democrats who support this. And you're going to have a lot of o Republican support. I'm upset with the process.
STEWART: But at the end of the day, there are a lot of things Republicans and Democrats will support which is why a lot of them are going to vote for it.
CUOMO: Yes. Except that I don't know that the agreement necessarily correlates with responsible government. I think you guys will agree because it's is somewhat of a death sentence if you're not able to get these things done, especially when it's the last big move before the midterms.
[08:25:07] STEWART: Couldn't agree more.
CUOMO: This is existential. That doesn't mean it's better for me and for American families, that's what I'm saying.
STEWART: Exactly. And, look, again, the process of this is just outrageous government. It's just a ridiculous way to fund and operate our government.
CUOMO: All right. You know what? We're out of time today, but this is important. It's pressing on Friday. You more often than not take the opportunity to come on and discuss what matters to the American people. And thank you for that. We'll have you back --
STEWART: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
CUOMO: Be well, Chris.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The House voting today on the massive bipartisan $1.3 trillion spending bill. The House Freedom Caucus, though, already opposing it. We'll ask a member of Congress about why, next.
CUOMO: A House vote this afternoon on a $1.3 trillion spending bill. The massive package includes $700 billion in defense spending, $591 billion on domestic spending. Congress has until tomorrow to pass it or they avoid another government shutdown.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Paul Gosar of Arizona, a member of the House Freedom Caucus which opposes the bill.
Paul, good to see you.
REP. PAUL GOSAR (R), ARIZONA: Good seeing you, Chris.
CUOMO: So, are you standing firm on that?