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Are Daniels, McDougall Outside Special Counsel's Scope; Manafort, Gates Investigated for Alleged Money Laundering & Ukraine, Russian Connections; White House Daily Briefing; Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Senators. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 10, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Any attempt to remove Rod Rosenstein will create the exact same constitutional crisis as if you fired Special Counsel Mueller. Don't do it. Do not go down this path. For the sake of our country, we plead with you. Don't put this country through a constitutional crisis, whether by firing Mueller, Rosenstein or otherwise impeding this investigation from going forward. The rule of law is paramount in this country. No man, not even the president, is above it.

Senator Whitehouse?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: There we have the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, each in his own style, saying they do not want the special counsel to be removed.

On the other side of your screen, you saw and continue to see the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, arriving at the hearing at the U.S. Senate where he will take questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee about the data breach, if you will, the information shared with Cambridge Analytica, more than 80 million Americans, without consent having their information shared without a political organization, one that at the time, later on, worked for the Trump campaign 2016.

While we're awaiting Zuckerberg's testimony, let's chat with my panel here.

Ken Cuccinelli, let me start with you.

One of the things we've learned in the last few hours is that in addition to the payment to Stormy Daniels that the FBI was looking for when they raided Michael Cohen's two homes and office, they were also looking for information about Karen McDougall, the 1998 "Playboy" playmate of the year, with whom President Trump also allegedly had an affair. She was paid hush money in a different deal, allegedly, by the parent company of the "National Enquirer." You had concerns about this. This was outside the scope of the Mueller investigation.

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. To the extent there's appropriate investigations here, Mueller shouldn't be involved at all. Nor should he have been in Manafort and Rick Gates. They have absolutely nothing to do with potential for involvement of Russians in the election. That's a different jurisdiction. To the extent Rosenstein didn't completely remove those from his bailiwick, it was a tremendous mistake. A tremendous mistake.

Gloria talked about some lines of argument you're hearing coming out of the White House and others. Frankly, Mueller and Rosenstein left themselves open to some of this that they didn't have to. This could have all been done much more cleanly and much more in a separated fashion, so they kept the Russia investigation clean.

TAPPER: Manafort and Gates -- play devil's advocate for a second. Manafort and Gates are charged with crimes regarding alleged money laundering from pro-Russian Ukrainian political parties. That's not completely separated --


CUCCINELLI: That's their elections, not ours. This was years ago.


TAPPER: But it has to do with ties to Russia and back door --


CUCCINELLI: It has nothing to do with the 2016 election. The reason that was all discovered -



CUCCINELLI: I think all we've seen is comments like, sure, we'll talk to -- marketing. Continuing their marketing into that part of the world, talking to people they've had 10-year relationships with, and who the news plays up as, oh, my gosh, this ex-military guy from the Soviet Union, now Russia.


CUCCINELLI: They've been working with him for 10 years.

TAPPER: But ties to the Russians.

Go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: Any tie to Russia qualifies? That's outrageous.


NORMAN EISEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, not any tie. At the Republican National Committee, there was a platform plank, and Gates and Manafort were involved in this. And the plank called, originally, the draft called for the United States to arm Ukraine, which Russia did not want. That plank mysteriously vanished. We have legitimate questions. I suspect Bob Mueller is talking to Gates. What went on with the RNC pivoting from an anti-Russia to a pro-Russia position involving Ukraine, the country where you and Manafort had such ties? It does relate to the campaign. And not only that, the special counsel's purview includes the Russia investigation and anything he may discover in the course of it.

TAPPER: In fairness to Donald Trump, can I point out the United States government under Donald Trump has provided lethal arms to the Ukrainians fighting the Russians.


TAPPER: I just want to put that on the table.

CUCCINELLI: Showing the usual respect for party platforms that presidents do.

TAPPER: What do you make of the fact that Karen McDougall's information was supposedly part of reportedly what this raid was about, looking for that? What possible crime could there be there?

[14:34:58] LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I see it as a self- inflicted wound. You have the idea that you're trying to figure out if you are the investigators looking into the finances or taxes of Michael Cohen, looking at if there was a connection to the Stormy Daniels payment and the ones to American Media, Inc. Remember, there were allegations that were made by Karen McDougall and her counsel that there was coordinated activity between Michael Cohen and her attorney to secure that NDA. Is it illegal to contract for silence? Absolutely, not. Is it illegal to somehow engage in various behaviors to undermine campaign finance laws? Absolutely, yes. So that may be part of the inquiry they're doing here. But to suggest -- I want to go back again, to suggest that there is some coordination by Rod Rosenstein, who is trying desperately to evade Mueller's scrutiny, et cetera. Remember, just in February, on February 16th, he actually gave a press conference about the 13 Russian nationals indicted. He specifically bent over backwards to say no American has been implicated in this, this is not tied to the election results or any tampering. He has been trying to separate and distinguish and keep that purity you're speaking about, Ken. But I think it misleads the public to suggest there is no basis for Manafort or Gates to be investigated when -- especially when Rod Rosenstein --


CUCCINELLI: Oh, nobody said that.

COATES: In general. I'm not accusing you, personally. Yet.

But in general terms, Ken, Rod Rosenstein came out about a week and a half ago and said, I'm the one who gave the order to expand the order of the purview of the special counsel to include Manafort's ties to the Ukraine and other things. In that respect, you have to look at Rod Rosenstein more than Mueller as a problem, which is probably why Donald Trump is talking about potentially firing him.

(CROSSTALK) CUCCINELLI: And that was one of my points is that Rosenstein has allowed and expanded the jurisdiction. And, you know, special counsels already are in such a difficult position in the political judicial world that that should never be allowed to happen. It is always on a bipartisan basis the biggest complaint that comes out of their utilization.

BORGER: But we don't know.

CUCCINELLI: And it undermines the credibility of --


BORGER: But we don't --


CUCCINELLI: That doesn't mean there aren't other avenues --


BORGER: We don't know what the reasons were. We also know vis a vis Michael Cohen. We know about Trump Tower Moscow, for example, a deal that never went through, but he was negotiating for Trump Tower Moscow in October of 2016, at the same time the president was saying, I do not do any business with Russia. I think that is something that perhaps I don't know that it was in the warrant but I'm sure he was asked about it by the congressional committees. We know that. So there are reasons why Rod Rosenstein would say, yes, you can do this. And we don't know what they are. I mean, these things, as you know better than I, they don't happen willy nilly. Oh, yes, sure, go do this.

TAPPER: We're going to cut now to the White House where White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has been giving her briefing. Let's listen in.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will meet with the Columbian president while he's there in Peru.

President Trump will remain in the United States to oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world.

Looking ahead to this afternoon, the president's pleas to welcome to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team to the White House in celebration of their 17th national championship. I'm pretty sure that was written by somebody from Alabama.


Coach Saban (ph) of U. of A. and the team captains will meet with President Trump in the Oval Office. And the group will join the rest of the team and hundreds of Tide fans out on the South Lawn and that event will of course be open to the press.

With that, I will take your questions.

Because it is her birthday, Nadia, I'll go with you.

And happy birthday.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. The president authorized the use of military force last year after they used chemical weapons, but this didn't deter him. The president talks of a very serious account now. How will he hold President Assad accountable now?

SANDERS: I'm sorry, could you repeat the last part of that question?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How will the president hold Assad accountable now?

SANDERS: The president's been clear, we're working with our partners and allies and our national security team to look at all options and as we've said, all options are on the table but I'm not going to get ahead of anything the president may or may not do in response to what's taken place in Syria.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sarah, talking about the raid on Michael Cohen's office, the president said it's, "an attack on our country, it's an attack on what we all stand for." In what way is an FBI raid on Michael Cohen's office an attack on our country?

SANDERS: I think the president is clear that he feels it's gone too far. Beyond that I don't have anything to add. I refer you back to the president's comments.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That makes it an attack on our country?

SANDERS: Again, I think the president has been clear on what his position is. I don't have anything else to add at this point.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does the president believe he has the power to fire Robert Mueller.

SANDERS: I believe he feels he have the power to do so.


[14:40:04] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You've said several times the president doesn't have the intention nor is thinking about firing Robert Mueller. Does that remain the case today?

SANDERS: The president was asked this question directly last night. I'd refer you back to his comments.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I ask what about Rod Rosenstein? What's the president's thinking about Rosenstein in terms of his tenure at the Department of Justice? He did not appear to be very happy with him last night. Can you confirm that Rosenstein was the high-level DOJ official that signed off on the FBI raid? SANDERS: I'd refer you to the Department of Justice in terms of their

process. Certainly. the president voiced his frustrations. Beyond that I don't have anything else.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the president still open to talking to Mueller? Is he still open to an interview?

SANDERS: That's something I would direct you to the president's personal attorneys to answer that question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: That's on Rosenstein. What about FBI Director Wray? He was the one who signed off supposedly on this FBI raid. Does the president still have confidence to him?

SANDERS: Again, I would refer you to the Department of Justice on the process and who did or did not sign off. That's not something we were a part of here.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does he have concerns about the FBI director?


SANDERS: The president has voiced his frustration with the situation. I haven't spoken to him directly about Director Wray.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has the president spoken to Jeff Sessions or Rosenstein since the raid yesterday?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION) -- couldn't make a decision, couldn't execute on what he's going to do. Considering that he did the strikes last year while the president was in Mar-a-Lago.

SANDERS: Mar-a-Lago happens to be within the United States, something I'm sure you're very well aware of. The president would like to stay in the country while there are a lot of benefits around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How does being in the country benefit him?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into specifics until it matters and things we may or may not do. But the president and his national security team felt it was best he stay in the United States while all of these developments are taking place.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does Michael Cohen still represent the president?

SANDERS: I'm not sure. I'd refer you to Michael Cohen on that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When did the president first learn of the statement to Stormy Daniels on the nondisclosure agreement?

SANDERS: I'm not sure about the timing. Kristen?


SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to keep going.


Sorry, Jacqueline, I'm going to move on to Kristen.

We're tight on time with the visit of the Alabama team coming up soon.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you follow up on that --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- denying having an affair?

SANDERS: The president has been clear. He's addressed this several times. I don't have anything else to add.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Let me ask my other question. Has the president had any conversations about firing Robert Mueller, Jeff Sessions or Rod Rosenstein in the past 24 hours?

SANDERS: I haven't had any conversations about that. I can't speak to that.


SANDERS: Sorry, Kristen, we have to keep going.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- Rod Rosenstein would be appointed --


SANDERS: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'd answer -- go ahead, Kristen.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you just answer the question. The president appointed reasonable doubt. How can he call the raid yesterday a witch hunt when it was approved by the deputy attorney general he appointed?

SANDERS: Once again, I'm not aware of what the process is and who signs off on those specific types of things. The president certainly has been very clear about what his position is when it comes to matters of collusion and that's what his reference is. He thinks this entire thing is a witch hunt. I think we've spoken about this at length, ad nauseam. And frankly think it's a big distraction the media has spent every single day for the last year focused on this instead of some of the biggest issues of the day, like Syria, like North Korea, like deregulation, tax cuts, defeating ISIS. That's the focus of this administration and, frankly, that's what you guys should be spending more --


SANDERS: You yielded your time to Kristen. I'm going to go to John.


SANDERS: I'll come back to you, Brian.


SANDERS: I'm feeling generous today for Nadia's birthday.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just a quick one. You said it's a witch hunt and you continue to characterize it as that. This administration has leveled sanctions against the 13 Russians indicted by the Mueller investigation, at some point, are you a party to this witch hunt or is some of it a legitimate effort?

SANDERS: Just because there may have been involvement by Russia doesn't mean there's involvement by the Trump campaign.


SANDERS: And to try to conflate the two is insane.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: No. No, that's not the question. The question is, aren't you at least supporting what they've done because they've indicted some of the people that you've leveled sanctions against. You're in agreement with Mueller in at least some regard, right?

SANDERS: We've been outspoken on a number of occasions that we think that Russia was involved in election meddling and we've taken actions because of that. But that has nothing to do with whether or not the president and his campaign had anything to do with that.


[14:45:14] SANDERS: Sorry, I'm going to keep moving.

John, I called on John before.


SANDERS: Guys, one at a time.

Go ahead, John.




SANDERS: It's crazy today.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is the nature of the president's relationship right now with Attorney General Jeff Sessions? He really voices his pleasure with him last evening in his remarks. Is it a good relationship? Does he risk being fired right now?

SANDERS: I think the president was pretty clear about his frustrations when he spoke about that last night.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Real quick, Sarah, if you don't mind. It's about the EPA administrator, Mr. Pruitt. If it turns out he lied in the interview he gave with FOX News, my colleague, Ed Henry, would that be problematic for him maintaining his job?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into hypotheticals, but the president would expect all members of his cabinet to be honest and open with the public.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The president seemed to combine his reaction to the Russia investigation, which we've heard him say before, and this new investigation that has grown out of the raids in New York, his attorney. Does he view that as one in the same investigation? In other words, does he think that's all kind of under the umbrella of the special counsel or does he view the Russia investigation as separate from the probe into the payments by these women that is apparently being conducted by the U.S. attorney's office in New York?

SANDERS: I think certainly that they are separate investigations, but I think that publicly they have been conflated quite a bit.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes, Sarah. Does the United States expect that in a response to the Syria chemical weapons attack that other nations will join in? Specifically we're seeing indications from France and the Saudis that they may also take military action.

SANDERS: We've had a number of conversations, both the president with President Macron, Prime Minister May, and at various other levels, not just with those countries but others at an administration level. And we're going to continue to work with a number of our partners and allies as we determine what the next best steps are. April?

APRIL RYAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Two questions. The president said yesterday he was compliant. They turned over a million documents. If he was compliant with these investigations, why was there a search warrant need?

SANDERS: This doesn't have anything to do with the president. I would refer you to Michael Cohen and his attorney. When it comes to matters of the special counsel and dealings with the president, we've been fully cooperative.

RYAN: Another question. With all of this turmoil, particularly this last week, has the president at any time thought about stepping down before or now?

SANDERS: No, and I think that's an absolutely ridiculous question.


RYAN: It's not ridiculous.

SANDERS: I gave you two questions, April. We're moving on.

Jordan, go ahead.

SANDERS: Jordan?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did the national security adviser, John Bolton, force Tom Bossert out of a job?

SANDERS: I'm not going to get into specific details about the ongoings of personnel. I can tell you he resigned. The president feels he did a great job and wishes him the best as he moves forward.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sarah, the president tweeted about some of the promises that President Xi has made toward instituting market reforms in China. He said this before. Will this be enough to avert some of the tariffs the president has been talking about instituting.

SANDERS: Certainly we've been encouraged by President Xi and his kind words but, at the same time, we want to see actions from China. We'll continue to move forward in the process and in negotiations until that happens.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has the president spoken with Michael Cohen since the raids?

SANDERS: Not that I'm aware of.

(CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said he believes, he views this as crossing the line. Can you explain more why raids on his personal attorney is crossing line?

SANDERS: I don't have anything else to add on that front right now.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sarah, you said earlier the president believes he has the power to fire Robert Mueller because usually most legal experts believe he would have to order deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, to fire Mueller and he could refuse.

SANDERS: I know a number of individuals in the legal community and including at the Department of Justice said he has the power to do so but I don't have any further announcements on --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But they told me, I've asked, they said it Rod Rosenstein who oversees the special counsel and only he has the power to fire the special counsel.

SANDERS: Again, we've been advised that the president certainly has the power to make that decision. I can't go anything beyond that.


[14:49:57] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The British government said they're still looking for confirmation that Assad used chemical weapons last weekend. Is the president still looking for confirmation of that?

SANDERS: I can't get into specific classified information, but I can tell you we feel confident in the comments we've made up until this point.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you, Sarah. Two questions with brevity on Ambassador Bolton.



SANDERS: We'll believe it when we see it, right?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With the resignations of Michael Anton and now Tom Bossert, can we expect any other changes of personnel in his family?

SANDERS: I don't have any other personnel announcements to make at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But the other question -- SANDERS: But we'll keep you guys posted.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Right. A year ago, Ambassador Bolton was highly critical in op-ed pages about U.S. involvement with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. With the World Bank, IMF meeting coming up within a matter of two weeks, is his position going to affect U.S. support for either institution?

SANDERS: I don't have any policy changes on that front at this time. And don't expect any on that front.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yesterday, President Trump said something very interesting about Syria. He said because of the power of the United States and because of the power of our country, we're able to stop it. Now, with bringing in Ambassador John Bolton as well, which is sort of a signal of a more hawkish stance, potentially, I want to know if the president has changed his calculus on Syria and on whether or not he wants to pull out those troops very soon as he previously said.

SANDERS: I addressed the troops yesterday. I don't have anything new on that front. In terms of things that the president may or may not do, we're not going to broadcast. I don't have any announcements on that front.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thanks, Sarah. This week, Senator McConnell said we're taking up six nominations and they're going to continue taking up six nominations. Do you consider that a major breakthrough for the administration --


SANDERS: We'd like to see them take on a lot more than six, but we're certainly glad to see those six moves forward. But we'd like to see them move forward in a much bigger fashion than just single digits right now.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And one other question. On U.S. Attorney Berman is in an interim position in New York. The report was the president was going to nominate him for full time. Is that still the case, will the president nominate him full time?

SANDERS: I don't have any personnel announcements on that front.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thanks, Sarah. All of the evidence so far in the Syrian chemical call attack points to the use of chlorine gas. The Assad regime has been suspected of using chlorine multiple times in the past. What makes this particular attack different and warranting an international response and the potential use of lethal force we're seeing from this president?

SANDERS: I can't address specific intelligence matters, but I think everyone around the world can see why these recent attacks are so horrific. Beyond that I can't get into details.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thanks, Sarah. To clarify your comment here on Xi Jinping's speech last night, it was seen as rhetoric around trade openness. Are you saying the president didn't see anything that would encourage him to back off the tariffs?

SANDERS: We think it's a step in the right direction. We're encouraged by the words, but we want to see concrete steps and action by the Chinese. In the meantime, we're going to continue to move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What could the Chinese? What could they do to stave off the tariffs?

SANDERS: It something that's part of private negotiations we have with the Chinese, but certainly we want to see more than the rhetoric. We think that's a good sign we're moving in the right direction.

Time for one last question.





I think they were saying you were great. I'm pretty sure.


TAPPER: We're going to break away from the White House press briefing right now and go live to the U.S. Senate where Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is facing questions from the U.S. Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees. Let's listen in.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: -- and democracy. And you will rightfully have some hard questions for me to answer.

Before I talk about the steps we taking to address them, I want to talk about how we got here. Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And as Facebook has grown, people have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses. Just recently, we've seen the "Me Too" movement and the March for Our Lives organized, at least in part, on Facebook. After Hurricane Harvey, people came together to raise more than $20 million for relief. And more than 70 million small businesses use Facebook to create jobs and grow.

But it's clear now that we didn't do enough to prevent these tools from being used as harm as well. That goes for fake news, foreign interference in elections, hate speech, as well as developers and data (INAUDIBLE). We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.

[14:55:26] So now we have to go through our -- all of our relationship with people and make sure we're taking a broad enough view of our responsibility. It's not enough to just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive. It's not enough to give people a voice. We have to make sure people aren't using it to harm people or spread disinformation. Across the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools but to make sure that they're used for good. It will take some time to work through all the changes, but I'm committed to getting this right.

Here are a few things that we are doing to address this and to prevent it from happening again. First, we're getting to the bottom of exactly what Cambridge Analytica did and telling everyone affected. What we know now is that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed information by buying it. When we first contacted Cambridge Analytica, they told us they had deleted the data. About a month ago, we heard new reports that suggested that wasn't true. Now we're working with governments in the U.S., the U.K., and around the world to do a full audit of what they've done and make sure they get rid of any data they may still have.

Second, to make sure no other app developers out there are misusing data, we're investigating every app and to prevent this from going forward, we're making sure they can't access as much information now. The good news is we already made big changes in our platform in 2014 that would have prevented this specific situation with Cambridge Analytica from occurring again today. But there's more to do.

You can find more details on the steps we're taking in my written statement.

My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together. Advisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I am running Facebook.

I started Facebook when I was in college. We've come a long way since then. We now serve more than two billion people around the world. And every day people use our services to stay connected to the people that matter to them most. I believe deeply in what we are doing. And I know that when we address these challenges, we'll look back and view helping people connect and giving more people a voice as a positive force in the world. I realize the issues we're talking about today aren't just issues for

Facebook in our community. They're issues and challenges for all of us as Americans.

Thank you for having me here today. I'm ready to take your question questions.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, (R-IA), CHARIMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I'll remind members that maybe weren't here when I had my opening comments that we are operating under the five-minute rule and that applies to the --


-- the five-minute rule and that applies to those of us chairing the committee as well.

Facebook handles substantial data for billions of users. A significant amount of that data is shared with third-party developers who utilize your platform. As of early this year, you did not actively monitor whether that data was transferred by such developers to other parties. Moreover, your policies only prohibit transfers by developers to parties seeking to profit from such data.

Number one, besides the Professor Kogan's transfer and now potentially you, do you know of any instances where user data was improperly transferred to a third party in breach of Facebook's terms? If so, how many times has that happened? And was Facebook only made aware of that transfer by some third party?