tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN September 28, 2017 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
>> i'm going to be honest with you. i could spend the whole night watching that polar bear fall on his ice. let's face it. being a mascot is a sometimes dangerous, somewhat thankless anonymous mute fuzzy job but it seems they found a way to get their aggression out and in the end every mascot has his day on the "riduculist." thanks for watching. time to hand things over to don lemon. "cnn tonight starts now." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. breaking news. it is not good news for the white house. this is "cnn tonight." i am don lemon. it turns out that private plane problem was just the tip of the iceberg. we're learning tonight that health and human services secretary tom price took two long international flights to africa and asia on government planes. that's in addition to dozens of private flights when he could have flown commercial. price said today he'll cut a check to cover the costs of his seat on those private flights, but not the full cost of
chartering the plane. that check in the amount of $51,887.31. perhaps he could have just rounded up? this whole thing couldn't have come at a worse time for the administration as president trump wages war on the nfl while more than 3 million americans in puerto rico are struggling to survive and desperate for help from their own government. the president got the message early on with the hurricanes irma and harvey. so why is his administration so tone deaf when it comes to puerto rico? and was this bound to happen when president trump surrounds himself with millionaires and billionaires? we'll discuss all of that in the coming hours. let's get right to cnn's jeff zelli at the white house. the health and human services secretary writing a personal check $52,000 and some change to cover the expenses of his seat on the chartered flights. it's really a fraction of the actual cost. but now politico is reporting the tab is actually upwards of $1 million when you include the military flights on military
jets. we know the president is angry. what's the latest from the white house now? >> done, good evening. i mean, that is a -- you talk about a rounding error before. this is just as you said a fraction of what this actual cost is and with each drip drip drip of the story, each new revelation of more flights, more series of flights, the president i'm told is getting angrier and angrier about this. the secretary, secretary price, was on thin ice to start with, but now with these new revelations and the fact that he's only paying a fraction of this is certainly not sitting well with the president. that said, i am told by someone close to this white house that the president is not yet ready to remove tom price from his cabinet, that he's going to wait until this investigation pans out. so the white house tonight issued a new statement about these new military flights, about these new overseas flights that we're learning about. this is what a white house spokesman said earlier tonight. he says this, use of military aircraft for cabinet and other
essential travellers is sometimes an appropriate and necessary use of resources. in the first eight months of this administration the white house has significantly reduced the number of military air white house support missions." okay. that doesn't quite get to the point here that secretary price was traveling to conferences around the world, which we are told were actually quite appropriate. previous secretaries have done similar things. the difference, don, they traveled commercially, not on private jets and not on military aircraft here. so again, by not disclosing all of these initially, it's been a -- just a one day after another here. it's not sitting well with this white house that's still trying to deal with so much other things. this is something they're not that pleased with, don. >> i wonder if him thinking about him not getting rid of him, was that before the second revelation? because i'm wondering if he's going to last through the end of the week, to tomorrow. >> it's a good question.
we've seen people who withstand the president's anger. jeff sessions, the attorney general, of course is one example. the president furious about his decision to recuse himself. he is still the attorney general. this president does not like to fire people. i am told that secretary price has not submitted or offered his resignation. he's offered to pay for this. but we actually caught up with him earlier this evening as he was leaving a building on capitol hill to ask him about what his standing is with the president. this is what he said. >> mr. secretary, a couple of quick questions. will the check that you're writing, will that satisfy your boss's and the taxpayers' questions? >> i think what we've done right now is to demonstrate a good-faith effort that we've heard the concern and the criticism and we look forward to the inspector general's reports. >> do you plan to stay on the job? >> absolutely. >> so don, that question for our producer greg wallace do you plan to stay on the job, he said absolutely. of course that's not his choice. it is the president's choice to
decide if secretary price will stay in this job or not. and this just goes against everything that donald trump said he would do in terms of draining the swamp, in terms of saving taxpayers' money here. i'm told the president views all this as a distraction, of course, but the idea of only paying $52,000 for what is, you know, about a million dollars' worth of flights now is something that he's going to have to reconcile with. but don, an interesting point. several members of the cabinet are wealthy enough to have their own planes, and they in fact fly around and pay for this themselves. tom price is not in that group. he's certainly wealthy, certainly about worth $10 million or so, but does not have his own planes to fly around. so he's using private planes and the government is paying for them. so this is something that at the end of the day here when you're dealing with puerto rico, tax reform, other things, a distraction. we'll see if the president likes tom price enough to keep him on board.
at this point, don, i would say it's a risky bet at best. >> yeah. $50,000 of a million dollars, that's a heck of a deal for anyone, anybody would love that deal. jeff zeleny at the white house, appreciate your reporting. i want to bring in now cnn contributor frank bruni and "new york times" op-ed column exist senior political commentator david axelrod. good evening, gentlemen, to both of you. frank, i'm going to start with you because tom price built his reputation as a fiscal conservative when he was a congressman. but he appears to be spending more than a million dollars on travel of taxpayer money, one million dollars. will he be fired, do you think? >> you know, i don't know. but i think it's something that should be seriously considered. >> should he be fired? >> i would say yes. the scale of this is pretty remarkable. this isn't just five flights, ten flights. 15 flights. it's, what above 25. and the dollar amount is incredible and this as you said goes directly against his reputation, his claimed reputation as a fiscal conservative. it goes directly against donald trump's promises to clean up the swamp.
but what i think is really interesting here is i've talked to republicans who say i don't recognize this tom price. i didn't know this is who tom price was. and, you know, i remember the adage the fish rots from the head. whether we're talking about tom price, whether we're talking about scott pruitt's $25,000 phone booth, whether we're talking about some of the treasury secretary's plane use, when they look to the president, they're seeing someone who is hardly a portrait of fine ethics and who along with his family seems at times in ways subtle and unsubtle to be using the white house as a tool of economic self-aggrandizement. how much does that factor into this? >> and also i was going to say setting the example of how much he uses secret service, how much he travels on the weekend, blowing the budget for the secret service on his own son. and other people in the administration are going without the secret service because of the budget issue. >> well, to change zoological metaphors from fish to pigs, you have this image of pigs at a trough. that's what this administration in some senses seems like. >> and talk about being tone deaf. i want to read something.
this is a new reporting from politico. it says price's wife, betty, accompanied him on the military flights while other members of the secretary's delegation flew commercially to europe. now that the hhs told politico that price's wife costs were reimbursed, but the question is if the delegation could fly commercially on a commercial plane, why not secretary price? >> absolutely that's the question. and that's, of course, what other secretaries have done in similar situations. but i want to add a different dimension to this, don. as he was flying around the country, he was also spearheading the effort to destroy the affordable care act, to cut health care for americans by trillions of dollars over time. and he even as we speak is trying to starve many of the initiatives that are aimed at trying to promote participation
in the affordable care act. so while he's running around playing lifestyles of the rich and famous, you have people whose lives are being jeopardized or potentially jeopardized by the policies he's pursuing. and i think that makes this even more egregious. >> isn't he already in the dog house for the failure of obamacare? >> i think so. the truth of the matter is that had they succeeded in scrapping the affordable care act, obamacare, i think he would be in much better stead with donald trump. the only thing donald trump doesn't like is losing, and he's lost that fight several times. price was brought in to lead that fight. so i think he's in a vulnerable position. not so much because of his excessive use of charter planes and military planes and tone deafness in doing it, but because he failed and the president is feeling that failure. so i would not bet on his
long-term -- on his longevity in the administration, not because of his abuses, because as frank said there are many abuses going on in the administration. but because he did the one unpardonable thing, he failed. >> and you keep saying tone deaf. i'm sure you gentlemen are much smarter than me. there's probably a better term for it because we're not just talking about something that you think about, a policy. these are actions that you're just unaware of. and it can't be emphasized enough, david, he's going to write a check for $52,000 when the real cost is much higher. it's a million dollars. as i was saying to jeff, that's a great deal for anyone. i would take that. >> you know, we should also point out that tom price had problems even before he joined the administration. during his hearings about charges of potential insider trading when he was a member of congress and buying stocks over which he had some inside knowledge.
that didn't come to anything, but you know, cutting corners, apparently, is part of his modus operandi and as frank said you seem to get a pass for that in many precincts in this administration and perhaps he thought he could here. >> yeah. i want to turn now to puerto rico because it's such an important story. and frank, i want to ask you about the president's response to puerto rico. he earlier identified with harvey and irma the optics being engaged and acting very quickly very early on. but this one, i mean, it's eight days later. you had the jones act. he still hadn't waived that and on and on. and we're in the middle of a major humanitarian crisis. what's going on with the response here? what happened? >> well, to be totally, totally fair to the president, i mean, it is different when you're dealing with an island and there's water between you. he said that. a lot of fun was made of him. but it's a legitimate point for a couple days. the problem is as you said eight days. it's gone on so long. he's now doing things that could have been done days earlier. and i think the big problem is
his -- the reality. as you guys are showing with incredible images from puerto rico it's so different from his words. we have another situation here, and this happens all the time, where donald trump and his administration are telling us how wonderful they've been, they're telling us how under control everything is. and then you have reporting and images from the scene that utterly contradict that. and it makes you question anew whether you ever get anything truthful from this administration. >> having covered many a hurricane, the pictures you look at, they really don't tell the -- i mean, it looks awful. it is always worse on the ground than what you see. i'm hearing stories, our very own maria cardona, one of her relatives goes out every day, waits six hours in line to get $10 worth of gas. carries a bat with him because of looting and people are so desperate. it is awful. and what has he done, david? he spent days picking a fight with nfl players about whether to stand or to kneel or what have you during the opening of a football game.
>> yes. yes. he used his megaphone to create a controversy that he thought would benefit him politically, basically hijacked the national dialogue for several days when he could have been using that megaphone to draw attention to this looming and growing humanitarian crisis among american citizens that was clearly, clearly going to get worse. and, of course, marshaling the forces to respond to it. and i don't want to underestimate the work that fema and others are doing on the island, but one of the powers of the presidency is to convene all different aspects of our country to respond to this challenge, whether it's raising money or marshaling cruise liners to go there, flights and so on. he did not respond to this challenge or to this crisis in the way that he should have. instead he was busy trying to score points in a really perverse way --
>> with a ball game. on a ball game. we don't even stand for the national anthem -- >> spending a press conference talking about what a remarkable response he had marshaled and how the governor had been nice to him and everybody thinks we've done an amazing job. forget about all that. people are dying. people are desperate. respond. marshal others to respond. do what presidents are supposed to do. >> well, i have to say that and just because the more i think about it, it's a ball game. and we don't even do the national anthem when we go to church. it's just -- it's a ball game. and people are dying. i just don't understand it. i don't get why he's even involved in it. david, i want to play this for you before you go because the upcoming episode of your show "the ax files" you interview former white house chief of staff and former secretary of state james baker. and you spoke to him about the nfl players kneeling in protest. let's take a look and then we'll discuss. >> i just think it's outrageous. there are plenty of ways that
you can call into question some of the racism that may still exist in this country, but that's the wrong way to do it. you don't -- you don't denigrate -- the one thing that used to and i hope it still will unify us is that we're all americans. >> colin kaepernick was expressing a sentiment that many, many people in the community feel about injustice, about the problems within our criminal justice system that are deeply felt, and he drew attention to them. he made clear that he wasn't protesting the military, the flag. he was exercising the rights that the flag offered him. >> you can't tell me that not standing up for the national anthem with your hand over your heart is not denigrating the national anthem or the flag. it is. >> what more are we going to hear in this interview, david? >> it's interesting. jim baker and i had a few
exchanges like that, but what was most interesting to me was jim baker was sort of the epitome of the establishment republican. he came into a reagan white house in which the right accused him of hijacking the reagan agenda. you saw some of the same tensions we've seen today. and to hear him talk about the way the president's doing his business and some of the challenges of adjusting from being donald trump reality tv star and family businessman to president of the united states, it was really informative. he's got, you know, enormous wisdom when it comes to running white houses and administrations. so it was a rich conversation. >> thank you, david. thank you, frank. appreciate it having both of you here. don't miss "the axe files" with david axelrod. this week's guest james baker, of course. that's saturday night at 7:00 eastern right here on cnn. and when we come back, players lock arms in solidarity at tonight's packers-bears game. but president trump says the
owners are afraid of them. is that a dog whistle or a megaphone to his base? and the president is not the only one exploiting racial divisions. we have exclusive new cnn reporting about how russia tried to stoke race tension during the election. ♪ can i kick it? ♪ yes you can ♪ can i kick it? ♪ yes you can ♪ can i kick it? ♪ yes you can ♪ well i'm gone
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he thinks the owners are afraid of their players. a lot of people are wondering if that is a dog whistle to the president's base and that's not all. press secretary sarah huckabee sanders tangling with our own april ryan over the whole thing today. april joins me now. also professor michael higenbacker. and the author of post-jim crow. and political analyst david drucker senior congressional correspondent for the washington examiner. hello, everyone. how are you? >> good evening, don. >> michael, i'm going to start with you. the administration is defending their response to the humanitarian crisis in puerto rico. we've also seen the president shoot off a few more tweets on the issue. but in an interview this morning with fox news he's not letting up on that nfl controversy. watch this. >> i have so many friends that are owners, and they're in a box. i mean, i've spoken to a couple of them. they say we are in a situation where we have to do something. i think they're afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth, and i think it's disgraceful. and they've got to be tough and they've got to be smart because you look at the ratings.
their ratings are going way down. their stadiums -- i've seen a couple of stadiums over the last few weeks. there are a lot of empty seats. >> so when the president says the owners are afraid of players, first of all, he's exaggerating about the seats and whatever because it's only been a week since he started this whole thing. but when he says the owners are afraid of the players, what do you hear? >> well, i think the president got it wrong once again on the issue of race. i don't think the owners are afraid. i think the owners understand the difference between symbolism and substance. and if you look at what's going on here, the protests are about substance. they're about what makes america special. and what makes america special is not the symbolism of the anthem or of the flag. and i understand they are significant symbols of who we are as a people and what we are as a country.
but what makes us so special is the constitution and the rights and principles that make up this country. i'm talking about freedom of speech and what the players are doing is part of that substance. it's part of what makes america so special. they're exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression. and if you also look at the substance of their protest, they're not asking for some sort of radical notion. they're asking that black men who are being murdered, unarmed black men who are being murdered by the police get protected. i don't think that's something that most americans would disagree with. >> april, you and the white house press secretary today, you know, tangled over this nfl issue. here is part of your back and forth. >> what is the president anticipating? what should we expect him to say about this? it's now the nfl against the president. >> i think the president has made very clear this shouldn't be about the nfl being against
the president. this should be about our country coming together to support the flag, support the national anthem. there's nothing wrong with having pride in the united states. this president has been very clear on that and he's certainly not going to back away from it. >> the nfl players, it's not about not having pride. they're saying they're patriots, they love this country. but they're challenging the system and they're looking at history like the challenge of the system when it came to women's rights issues, as well as civil rights. what does the president say when you look at history and see how people loved this country but wanted to challenge the system to make it better? >> i think if we're going to look at history we should look at the thousands of americans who have given their life to protect that flag, to protect that anthem. we should be celebrating those people. i gave you a chance to answer. i'm going to finish your statement. we should be looking at every way we can to celebrate our country, bring it together, not looking at ways to divide it. the president is simply talking about what we're for, not about what we're against.
and certainly this administration will always be for protection and celebration of the flag and the national anthem, and that's not going to change. >> sarah, to clarify -- just to clarify on that -- >> i don't think there's much to clarify. it's pretty black and white here. >> it's pretty black and white. a lot of americans don't see it that way, april. >> you know, there's a divide on this issue. you know, some people are saying it's about the flag, but then you have others who are saying, you know, i stand for the flag, i stand for this country, but at the same time i challenge some of the problems like weeding out bad policing when it comes to police-involved fatal shootings of black people. you know, i've talked to many people in the nfl and as long as the president continues, they will link arms, they will stand in protest. you know, the photo optics, the
optics of this, the winning picture happened. they kneeled in london. they kneeled here in the states. and now they're linking arms. if this continues and if the president continues to weigh in on this, this could go even further. and when he says things like, you know, the owners are afraid of their players, what it is is the fact that the nfl is a multibillion-dollar business and they understand that the vast majority of their players are african-american. and they understand they need to unify. if not there could be some problems. it's not about fear. it's about customer service within your own ranks. >> won't be anybody on the field, you know, if it wasn't for the members who are there, the team members who are there. >> right. >> you were just in alabama, david, where the president first lobbed this grenade calling nfl players who kneel son of a bitch. what are people saying down there? >> they loved it. look, i spent a lot of time talking to republican voters because i was covering a
republican primary and the president's remarks were very well received. and the voters i spoke to down there focused on the sentiment behind the president's remarks, not so much the provocative way in which he talked about this. and so i think there's an audience out there in the country for this notion that the country should be respected more by the people that appear to be profiting from our economic system and from the freedom that the country provides. what i would say, though, and what i think is very interesting here is this is not the first time a republican politician has said that there should be more respect for the flag and the country's symbols. we've seen republicans in the past and republican presidents support laws that would make it illegal to burn the flag. i think what's different here is that the president of the united states is laying down markers about what is acceptable, what kind of patriotism should be demanded from american citizens
and what kind of protest against the country is acceptable and not acceptable. and that's not something that we have seen before, at least in a long time, even from republicans that have publicly been against things like flag burning. and i think that's what rubs a lot of people the wrong way. not the people i spoke to in alabama, not a lot of other republicans and people that lean conservative across the country. but i think that's what makes this a very, very tricky situation for the president. because it is fine for the nfl and any private business to decide that if they're losing money they're going to demand of their employees if they decide a certain level of behavior as public figures. that's something that i deal with and we all deal with in our own business because we don't just represent ourselves but we represent the mastheads that we work for. but it's not something that the government of the united states is constitutionally permitted to do of its citizens. and so i think when it's coming from the president, who is lecturing americans about what
is an acceptable way to protest and what is a minimum level of patriotism that you must show, i think that's what has created the divide here. and i think that what we saw over the past weekend, as april mentioned, what could continue in the president keeps up this argument, which he might because he likes the reception he's getting, is that then the people that are protesting start to wonder and people that are not protesting start to wonder exactly what it's about. in other words, are they going to listen to the president because those are the orders he's giving or are they not? so then it becomes something about more than just the issues that it started out as but about whether or not you feel like you're listening to the president. and i think that's where this starts to run away -- >> there's a lot to unpack here and i don't have time. i'm sorry. we'll have to do it later on in the show maybe with another panel. but can you demand patriotism from someone? is it something you can demand or is it something that is earned? there's a lot to unpack. but thank you. i'm out of time. i appreciate it.
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tonight a cnn exclusive, a twitter and facebook account both disguised to look like they were run by the same black activists were actually the work of russians. the accounts are part of the material being handed over to congress for its investigation into russia's meddling in the presidential election. the accounts both called black activists posted videos of police brutality against african
americans and wrote about injustice to blacks. i want you to take a look at the facebook page. it says "watch another savage video of police brutality. we live under a system of racism and police are directly letting us know how they feel and where we stand." our senior reporter for media and politics is dylan byers. he joins me now. dylan, good evening to you. these posts all designed by the russians to amplify racial tensions here in the u.s. >> yeah. that's absolutely right, don, and if you look at the post that you just mentioned and the other posts that we've seen that were coming from this account which as you said went under the name blacktivist, what you see is that the russians who bought these ads clearly understand where our push points are as a society and as a culture. they understood how big an issue race was throughout the course of the 2016 campaign. and all of our reporting both what we're reporting tonight as
well as what we reported last night that a black lives matter ad that was bought a russian -- promoted by a russian account was targeted at the cities of baltimore and ferguson. when you take all this together and this is what congress is doing right now, you begin to understand what some of the bigger motives here were for the russians. the motive, not so much to necessarily promote one candidate over the other but to drive several wedges into american society to amplify the political divisions that exist in this country and at least with this blacktivist account they may have done it in a successful way. we're talking about an account here that actually had a significant amount of followers. >> so sow division, that's what they wanted to do. how big was this group? do they have a big following? >> they do. we're looking at an old account, an account that's been suspended by facebook. we see there before it was suspended they had more than 360,000 likes. if you look at the official
black lives matter facebook page and of course black lives matter is a movement with many facets, not necessarily everyone describes to one page. but if you look at that page, 300,000 likes. so you begin to understand here that this actually made an impression on people. people liked it. people shared it. it sort of worked its way into the bloodstream of social media. and those images, the ones you referred to earlier, came back. did they inspire people to support the black lives movement? did they inspire people to fear the black lives movement? it probably depends on a user to user basis. effort way it's achieving that goal of driving a wedge into american society. >> and beside posts, these accounts also promoted events, right? >> right. so again this is another new development. it goes even further than just what people were doing online. people were actually showing up to events. these ranged from events
honoring the 50th anniversary of the black panther party to the march of the anniversary of the death of freddie gray. people showed up to these events. some of these events got media coverage. blacktivists, whoever was behind blacktivists, they were promoting those events. so yes, a great deal of influence across the board. >> dylan byers, thank you, sir. appreciate it. i want to bring in cnn counterterrorism analyst phillip mudd and mark jacobson a professor at georgetown university. welcome to the show. this page had a huge outreach, more than 360,000 followers. your take on this cnn exclusive. >> my take is the american people are misinterpreting this and we're misinterpreting on this show, don. we're looking at this through a political lens. democrats will say look how much the election was influenced against hillary clinton. republicans will say this is overrated, donald trump won because of a wave of populism. step back for a moment. 2018, 2020. if you're russian and you want to influence eastern europeans in terms of their attitudes about americans, what would you do?
i'd do the same thing i saw here. i would inundate them with information, sometimes junk information, about america. if you're chinese and you want to influence asian information, asian attitudes about america, what would you do? the same thing that was done in terms of these posts on black america. if you're a venezuelan who opposes america and you want to influence latin american attitudes, you want to invade the social media space. my point is very simple. our conversation in this country with twitter and facebook has to get out of what happened in the last election and ask a bigger question. how does washington not get involved in an adversarial relationship with silicon valley but in a conversation that says how do we stop junk news from influencing the way americans think. that's the story, don. i don't think it's just about the last election. >> wait a minute. i'm not sure i follow. what were they trying to do here? you gave examples if you were in other countries. so explain what they're trying to do here, then.
>> well, so look at russia. what would you want to do in america? not just influence an election. you want to create a sense of discord in america. you want to create a sense that whites oppose blacks, a sense of social, as i said, social discord, the same thing you might want to do about immigration in europe. so i'm not saying this wasn't significant. i'm saying the problem is much larger than what happened in an election in america last year. it's about how foreign governments, whether it's in latin america or east asia, can influence attitudes about america. >> mark, i want to bring you in because i'm wondering if this blacktivist account is what you mean when you say the russians are laundering and camouflaging the news. >> right. thanks for having me, don. what you're referring to is a report that i think phil would like very much that salve regina university has just put out entitled "shatter the house of mirrors."
and what we're basically saying is you have to look beyond the 2016 election. there is a concerted effort by putin's government to divide the united states, to sow dissent, to create distrust of our own institutions. and all for the purpose of forcing the united states to be beleaguered about internal problems so we can't worry about what's happening all around the and of course that's to putin's advantage. what do i think of blacktivists in terms of what it means here. what this means is the russians understand that just like in the 1960s when they tried to fan the flames of stokely carmichael versus martin luther king debate, in other words, let's have a more violent sort of revolution here, let's not be peaceable, the russians are trying to do the same thing. they don't want to see peaceful dissent. they don't want to see a discussion and dialogue over what are real racial tensions. they want to fan the flames.
and i know we're going to find russian fingerprints on both sides of this debate. and that will help them to continue to prolong these arguments that keep the united states and washington's focus inside the u.s. and not over in europe and not around the world where it needs to be. >> phil, you mentioned this just a bit ago and we talked about it last night. i think it deserves more discussion. do you still think that congress is being too adversarial when it comes to facebook and twitter and certain social media sites? >> i do. and i think we've seen that this week. their conversation is myopic. it's about what happened in a previous election. our conversation has to be our adversaries, and i would look particularly, let me be blunt, at russia and china. our adversaries who look five or ten or 20 years ahead. they're looking at this saying not just how do we influence an election. how do we sow dissent in america so that when russia intervenes in ukraine america's too focused on a domestic problem to think about how they counter russia over the long term. the conversation with twitter,
with facebook, with alphabet, the parent company for google, has to be how did you do in the last election. the answer is they didn't. but how going forward does american government work with silicon valley to say how do we stop junk information from getting to americans? i think what you'll see, don, to close, is that the congress which i think is very short-sighted, will try to tee up silicon valley for not doing well in the last election. the conversation should be about what happens in the next election. >> phil mudd, thank you very much. mark jacobson i want you to stick around because you're going to be back live in our next hour. when we come back, much more about this new information about russia's campaign to escalate racial tensions and spread outrage during the election. i'm going to ask the experts if this is just the tip of the iceberg. we've had a lot to do with (muswhat you've been doing. ♪ your browsing. your posting. your selfie-ing.
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breaking news tonight, fake black activist accounts on social media intended to amplify racial tensions during the election linked to the russian government. i want to bring in now kara swisher, the executive editor of recode, and laura rosenberger, the director of the alliance for securing democracy at the german marshall fund and the former national security council director for china and korea. so glad to have both of you on. laura, let's start with you. let's talk about this new cnn reporting about the facebook and twitter account blacktivists. is this consistent with patterns you are seeing with the technology you use to track what is happening in real time? >> it's absolutely consistent with what we see. i'd make a couple of points on this. first, it's really important to bear in mind that the activities
that are now coming out that we saw in the run up to the 2016 election are still continuing today. which we see the same kinds of parntsz, the same kinds attempts to use wedge issues to sow and exploit divisions to turn americans against one another as a tool of weakening us. continuing in their networks that we monitor on twitter. but i also think it's really important to bear in mind that this is not a tactic that the russians are using uniquely in america. they've been using this tactic across europe, in ukraine. they've used it in many of the states that border them, the baltic countries, and in fact it's right out of the soviet playbook. they've just adopted it to new technologies that allow it to be an even more powerful tool. >> kara, you have been critical of facebook and said that they were slow to react to their russian problem. what should both facebook and twitter be doing now? what should they be doing? >> well, twitter didn't do very well today in their hearings, at the intel hearings. you know, i think they need to move faster. i mean, what's really interesting is how optimistic they were that this social media
wouldn't be weaponized, which is what i've talked about for months, you know, this idea of this weaponization of social media. weaponization of social media. and i think they've been very slow and sort of thinking that this is -- it was sort of a slow roll to realizing what's going on and now they're trying to dig out of it and find what happened. and what they've got to do at the same time is try to prevent it in the future. there are ongoing elections, ongoing issues, ongoing uses of these tools. and so they have to like not just get behind it but get ahead of it at the same time. so it's a really problematic issue for them as companies. >> kara, twitter told congress today that it took action against 200 russian-linked accounts. senator mark warner not satisfied. watch this. >> no. inadequate. >> the twitter team made to the senate intel staff today was deeply disappointing. the notion that their work was
basically derivative based upon accounts that facebook had identified showed an enormous lack of understanding from the twitter team of how serious this issue is, the threat it poses to democratic institutions and, again, begs many more questions than they offer. >> wow. i mean, very direct there. what are your sources telling you tonight? >> well, it's not good. they didn't -- sort of did the dog really eat your homework? i think they're saying you didn't look into it. you did it too slowly. i think they just started working on it and the last part is we have many more questions. it's not something you want to hear from a congressional person. and so that's problematic for silicon valley which wants to self-regulate everything it does. >> what do you think of the twitter situation, laura? >> you know, i agree with cara. i think that, you know, there's clearly a lot of work that remains to be done here.
i think senator warner's point that what twitter has done is purely derivative about what facebook has already done does show a real lack of seriousness and a real lack of frankly political will on the part of twitter to take this on. i think what's really important too, i want to come back to a point that cara are made earlier, which is we need to start to get ahead of this threat, and the bottom line is that the tactics that the russians are using are evolving every day, so it's incredibly important that we take seriously not only what they've already been doing but the way that they're going to learn about -- learn from what they've done, adapt these technologies, adapt their techniques so, they can be even more effective in the future. and i think it's incredibly important that the social media platforms which are intended and were created to help provide greater openness, greater access to information, they've now been turned against us, weaponized, as cara said. and it's incredibly important that we have a real understanding of how these vulnerabilities can be turned
against us and ensure in fact that they cannot be. >> i'm sure i'll be speaking with both of you a lot over the coming months. thank you so much, cara and laura. i appreciate it. when we come back the president making some bold claims about his tax overhaul proposal. but how many of them are true and who will really benefit from this plan? we'll break it down for you.
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proposal. the white house saying it is realistic that tax reform legislation could be passed before the end of the year, and president trump insists it won't be good for him. here to discuss it is william cohan, author of "price of silence" and steven moore, former senior economic advise tore the trump campaign. so good to have both of you on. william, you heard it, the president insists that he doesn't benefit at all. are you buying that? >> absolutely not. i mean, again, these are nine pages of somewhat rough outlines of what a tax proposal will be like. he's clearly leaving the details to congress, and to the gary coens and steve mnuchins of the world to flesh out. but for him to say this doesn't benefit him and the people like him, other real estate developers and private equity
moguls is ridiculous. >> steven, the president's plan cuts the top tax rate for the wealthy from 39.5% to 35%, so how can he say it doesn't help the rich including him? >> well, i think -- by the way, don, i worked with donald trump on the campaign and i helped write the tax plan. it's very similar to the plan that came out yesterday. so i'm very familiar with it. i think it's probably silly for him to say he's not going to benefit from it. i think what he should say is every american will benefit from it. it's going enrich the economy, create more jobs, as reagan used to say, greater rising tide that lifts all boats. i don't think he should play into the class warfare line. i think americans, if they feel like it's going to be better for the middle class, i don't think they care if wealthy people do better, as well. >> do you think everyone, every economic group in america is going to benefit? >> i do. it will be good for growth, jobs and wages. we can get the growth rate up to 3%, 3.5%, a big improvement over
the last eight years. it's the centerpiece of donald trump's economic agenda. i think there's a decent chance, 50-50 the republicans can get this done before christmas. we'll see. the calendar days are turning as we speak. but it's a high priority for republicans, and by the way, don, it's the one thing, unlike health care and some of these other issues republicans have tried to take on, tax issues is the one thing that unites almost all of republicans. >> let's hope we're not hear until 2:00 in the morning. who does this benefit, william? who benefits from this? >> look, i mean -- >> he said it benefits all economic groups. >> that is the very argument that stephen moore and larry cudlow have been trotting out since reagan. trickle-down economics. if it worked and growth does
approach 4% and the economy does grow as much as that, then potentially it could benefit a lot of people. the problem is we found that tax cuts don't lead to that kind of growth. absent that kind of growth, it benefits corporate america, because tax rate also go down to what, 20%? it benefits people who get partnership income. their partnership income is going to be taxed at 25% instead of 40%. it benefits the wealthy whose tax rates go from 39% to 36%. it's going to benefit everybody who makes a lot of money. eventually, if all those people who start making a lot of money and the corporations have more money this their coffers, start using it to plant new plant and equipment, to hire more people, things like that, okay. eventually that's correct trickle down for the rest of the economy. there's no evidence it ever happened that way. >> that's my point. i'm no expert on this. i've been hearing about trickle down economics since reagan. that's when i can remember. >> stephen moore has been
pushing that since then. >> and it never appears to work. >> it benefits the wealthy. >> hold on, and you can tell me if i'm wrong. it appears every time there's a republican in the office, trickle down never works and when there's a democrat in the office, clinton or whatever, it seems that the economy gets better. why does that happen? >> well, let's be very clear about history. one of the biggest economic booms in the history of the country in the 1980s. i am old enough to remember the wreckage of the economy in the 1970s when it was 20% mortgage interest rates and reagan came in when the economy was flat, we create 20d million jobs and every income group did wrong. if we can duplicate what happened under reagan, the american people would be very happy. it must have worked pretty well, because ronald reagan barely eked out an election race winning 49 out of 50 states. >> he was very popular, no doubt
about it. look at the clinton and barack obama economy. the stock market tripled under barack obama. >> true. >> we created millions of new jobs. i'm not sure presidents have a lot to do with how economies do. these things work in cycles. since the crash of 2008, even donald trump is getting a lot of credit now for policies that barack obama started and the economy has been booming since then. >> don't tell him that, he's watching. >> i'm sure he is. >> last word, stephen. >> we have the highest business tax rates in the world. the heart and soul is bringing taxes down on businesses to bring a lot of the jobs back to the united states. >> i think everyone hopes that. everyone can use a little respite from bad times. thank you all. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. thank you so much for watching. it's 11:00 here on the east coast.
we're live with breaking news on big stories for you tonight. cnn learning that a social media campaign calling itself blacktivist and linked to the russian government used facebook and twitter in an attempt to stoke racial tensions during the election. more on that in just a moment. plus, i need to tell you that -- talk about puerto rico. with half of puerto rico without clean drinking water and almost all of the island without power, homeland security secretary elaine duke, she calls the situation a good news story and says she's very satisfied with the government's response. anybody else think that sounds a lot like heck of a job, brownie? let's go right do our cnn exclusive. a twitter and facebook account disguised to look like they were run by the same black activist were run by russians. part of the material being handed over to congress in its investigation into the russian meddling in the presidential election in 2016. the accounts, both called