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tv   Firing Line With Margaret Hoover  PBS  November 16, 2019 5:30am-6:01am PST

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>> he's leading the bipartisan election interference, this week on "firing line." >> russia's president, adimir putin, ordered a deliberate campaign, cafully constructed, to undermine our election. >> the senior senator fromde virginiacrat mark warner, is working with republicans to investigate russian meddling. >> chairman burrnd i trust each oth. >> we're all targets of a sophisticated and capable adversary. >> what the russians did,ho they did it, and why americans are still vulnerable heading into 2020. >> what happened in 2016 will happen again in 2020.ak >> as las draw battle lines over the impeachment inquiry. >> if this is not impeachable conduct, what is? t russia hoax has ended, and you've been cast in the low-rent ukrainian sequel. >> ...what does
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senator mark warner say now?wi >> "firing lin margaret hoover" is made possible by... >> welcome to "firing line," senator mark warner. >> thank you for having me. >> youe the senior senator from virginia, the former governor of virginia, a former tech entrepreneur, and you are now the vice chairman of the senate intelligence committee, rich is leading an ongoing investigation inan election interference in 2016. we have a lot to talk about this week and we're going to get to everything.on of those things is impeachment. but, first, i'd like to focus on election security. and i'd like to, out of the gate, just asyou, are you worried about the russians or other foreign
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adversaries intervening inur elections in 2020? >> absolutely.l we know they w back. and the reason we know this is, if we look at what the russians our elections in 2016, what they did in the brexit vote in thu.k., what they did in the french presidential elections -- add that all up in terms of the cost. it's less than the cost of one new f-35 airplane. so their ability to intervene in democracies is both cheap and extraordinarily effective. >> joe maguire, who's the director of national intelligence, recently testified in front of congress. iben he was asked to des what the country's most imminent national-security threat was,o i want youke a look at what he said. >> i think that that the greatest challengehat we face is not necessarily, you know, from a kinetic strikeit orrussia or china or iran or north korea. i think the greatest challengeth we do have is to make sure that we maintain the integrity of our election system.
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i think that protecting the sanctity of our elections within the united states, whether it be national, city state, local, is perhaps the most important job that we have with t intelligence community. >> senator warner, do you agree with joe maguire? >> i agree with director maguire. and let's reme what the bad guys need to do is not necessarily change votes. they simply have to undermine americans' confidence in the integrity of our systems. there is the integrityissues. of the election infrastructure, and then there'sma the disinfon campaigns. in your view, which is more important? >> i think they're equally important. and i think we have gotten better in both areas.ch 2018, we were ore successful, both because of certain tngs we did and also, to give the trump administration some credit here, willingness r us to punch back in the cyber domain, bush, we were reluctant to do. but one of the things that
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amazes me is that we've allowed election securityb ome a partisan issue. >> you just said you want to give the trump admistration credit for going on the offense in the cyber domai there are reports that, in 2018, the united states took an offensive posture in cyber and actually was able to shut down russian troll farms. >> i'm not going to mment on the specifics. >> are you aware of that operation? >> i can't comment on thingsl that fto the intelligence realm, in terms of specific actions. what i can comment on is that president trump made it easier for the united states government to use some of our offensive capabiliti. >> what does an effective offensive cyber operatn look like? >> i think, for decades in our country, we we afraid of going on offense on cyber because we were always afrd of cyber escalation. you shut down moscow for 24 hours, you had a problem. you shut down new york for 24 hours, you have financial crisis that could permeate for months.
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consequently, i feel like, for many years, particularlyur near-peer adversaries, like russia and china -- they were able to attack america in the cyber domain with very little fear of us punching back. i think we've taken off some of those restraints. i think that is good, long term. we need to realize these challenges, particularly in the cyber domain, will be where the first shots of 21st century conflict will take place.n i agree with director maguire it will probably not be a kinetic strike.ig >>. >> it will be the vulnerabilities in the cyber domain,ic we have gotten better at, but, still, we've got room f improvement and why we need, around the issue of the integrityio of our elesystem, do some pretty simple things that i think will get 80 votes on the floor of even this senate. >> can we break it down? what legislation do you have that would help secure our election infrastcture in order to ensure that our voting machines are secured, that voter data is secure,
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into election day?'t strewn >> number one, make sure that every polling station rica has got a paper-ballot backup. so if the machine was bren into, there is something you can fall back on. number two, there ought to be post-election audits so that we can determine, you know, best practices. those best pctices are then shared. number three, there are three companies that control over 90% they are not bad ces. america. they're just data-management companies. we have no abilitye to hy oversight into those data management that basicallyot have the files. so the bad guys -- they don't need to change an election total. but if they took 10,000 or 20,000 voter names in miami-dade county and ve people from one polli station to another, and people showed up to vote in 2020 and their names weren't at the polling stations that were appropriate, you'd have chaos, and that is -- >> can you play that out for me? like, what happens? suld they do three counties in three differetes,
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and that would be enough to -- >> when you when you think about elections, we always know florida is gonna be close. we know michigan's gonna be close. we know ohio is gonna be close. if you take the major jurisdictions in those three states and hapeople lose faith that their votes either were going to be counted accurately i orf they showed up at polling stationsey and nded up being sent to a different polling station, you could have cos. and it doesn't necessarily have to be the government. it could be dependent auditors, but making sure that these companies that dominate, in a totally legitimate way, the vast -- 90% of allr the voles in this country, there ought to be some check on those files. >> for sure.ur ommittee found -- and this is a quote -- that... w, there's no evidence, based on your report, that they actually did alterre
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any votestration data. if they have the ability to, t why do ynk they didn't? >> i think, in 2016, the russians wanted to test our defenses. i think they were trying to lift the window or rattle the door. t >> check und hood, see at was going on? >> and i think what they foundor was the were open and the windows were open. and they got into some of these systems. and maybe it's luck, maybe it was just thedidn't know what they exactly had, trigger, and, consequently -- and there are some that still say there mae.have been some interfere we did not find direct manipulation of votes. but just because it didn't happen in 2016 doesn't mean that it won't happen in 2020.th >> do you thin had the ability to change votes in 2016? >> i think that's an open question. >> do you believe that, in the intervening years, they've developed the ability to change votes or that they will try in 2020? >> i think absolutely. >> they now have the ability to change votes.
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>> there will be the ability that russia has us. there's been reports as recently as this past week, in a front-page,i think, new yo, about madagascar, where russia was trying to intervene. clearly, the ability to hack into voting systems and manipulate data is a cyber technique that, clearly, the russians and others have perfected. and one of the reasons why ti need to get this out of being a pn issue -- we wouldn't say protecting the power grid or our fincial-system integrity ought to be partisan. why have we allowed mr. trump to turn protection of our voting system into a partisan issue, particularly when you've got all of the senioofficials d at mr. trump has appointed in law enforcement telligence saying this is the mo important national secuty threat we face? >> so what you're saying is -- you are deeply concerned that russians will have the ability and certainly ha the desire
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re change votes in our voting -- >> i'm saying weetting better and we have to presume they are getting better. >> who's winning? are they winning or are we winning? >> i think we don't know because we've not seen their latest techniques. it's one of the reasons why something as simple as saying, "let's make sure you've got a paper-ballot backup for every voting machine in america" should be a total no-brainer. i think 80%, 90% of americans would agree with that. let's make that the law. >> you're nfident that the russians not only interfered in our election in 2016 but will try again in 2020. and there is a theory, promulgated by president trump, that it is actually the ukrainians who interfered in 2016 and of whom we should be afraid in the future.re >> ts, to my knowledge, absolutely no factual basis. that was a discredited theory actually put out by some of the russian spy agencies.
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and no legitimate member of the u.s. intelligence service, law enforcen or, for that matter, that i'm haare of, state department feels that theorany credibility at all. genesis of this cocyas the theory? >> who wins when ukraine is put in a bad light? who wins if u.s., ukraine are split apart? the winner in all these -- vladimir putin a the russians. >> sthe russians started this conspiracy theory is what you're saying. >> i saying, who benefits? >> so, is the reason you're not saying affirmatively because you have acces classified information that affirms that this is the case? i can't comment on anything in termsf sources, methods, and some of the things .that we've been briefed >> so, i'm going to take it as a "yes" that this is a russian conspiracy theory, unless you tell me definitely. >> well, you can makeme any ju you want. i'm just saying my job is -- responsibility of what i hear in classified settings
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needs to say classified. but i think it is very clear to me. and this has been testified by every leader of law-enforcement, intelligence community, that the's been absolutely no validity to this crazy conspiracy theory that ukraine was behind the 2016 intervention. >> ransomware attacks, attac where a system is shut down and paralyzed until it is paid -- we have seen this happen in cities across the country, from atlanta, to baltimo, and a hospital system in los angeles. >> and you've mentioned those that have gotten high profile. what you've not mentioned are the literay dozens, if not hundreds, of mid-size d smaller hospital systems and smaller communities that have quietly paid the ransom without any public notice. is is an epidemic. >> so, are our elections going to be vulnerable to this kind of attack in 2020? >> i think there were a number of local-election officials, after 2016, that really questioned whether the russians had i interventheir states. i think there are very few
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naysayers now.he they've seenvidence. i think dhs made a dreadful mistake in the immediate aftermath of 2016 that it took them almost a year to reveal how many states were actually attacked,ua because viy every state was attacked. and i think, again, we'ren' better, but i give you the assurance that we will be totally safe in 2020. that's why we ought to pass this bipartisan legislatio that's why the relatively small amount of additional federal moneyto to go rotecting the integrity of our system should take place. >> when you say relatively small amount of federal money, i mean, $380 million has been appropriated. maybe more needs to be appropriated. but that money were disburs to the states today, to start protecting elections that start in three months? is that enough time? >> we won't be ready, if the money was dispersed today, but some of the issueses. that we need, some of this will take more time, but we can make sure that
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there is a paper-ballot backup in every state in the country, if we put that requirement the federal moneys that were to be disbursed. >> let's talk about the disinformation campaignsus tha and other foreign adversaries will likely participate in, in 2020. and your committee has just released, in the last few weeks, a report othe social-media disinformation campaigns. and just top linest. from the rep as many as 126 million americans may have been served up content from russian operatives on facebook between 2015 and 2017, and that's 90% of the american electorate. fake-news stories far outperformed real-news sries. your report also quantified that russian operatives, from s their desks nt petersburg, organized pro-muslim and anti-muslim protes in houston. are we still vulnerable to these kds of operations and attacks by foreign adversaries today? >> yes. and let's step back.
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t fore 2016, the u.s. governms caught basically totally unawaret abw social-media firms could be manipulated. and, candidly, the social-media firms were completely caught off guard. i remember the infamous statement of mark zuckerberg, the c.e.o. of facebook, saying,f shortlr i raised this, that any politician that thought the russians were messingwi facebook didn't get it. well, he didn't get it. but what's, again, stunning to me is, when we first went into this w investigatiothought most of the russian activity had been paid advertising.th paid advertising, in terms of the total campaign, was 2% to 3%. it was tiny. but the vast majority of the russian campaign was russian olls, ruian bots, where they tri to create fake personas,y' acting as if t americans, oftentimes not starting a posting or an identity around politics. who wants to follow politics? ngit would be around garde it would be around texas football. a host of areas.ra
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they wouldin followers and then they would start -- as they build these sites up, they would start tintersect with russian propaganda. give you another example that i believe our report hit on -- the debate about nfl players kneeling before the national anthem. people wondered, "why did that get so much prominence?" well, partially, mr. tru tweeted about it. but the bigger issue was -- when you look behind that, was 10-to-1 foreign-based bots driving that story more than americans. so theeason that popped up on your phone as a trending story was not because americans were saying, "ah, this is anin important i want to weigh in on." it was because russian and other foreign bots pushed that story so it would appear, because, again, where the russians particularly focused were on racial issues, and the nfl-player debate about national anthem and kneeling too often broke down -- >> to be clear, you said10 o-1 bots to real people. >> over actual americans. >> so, what is the strategy
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there for russians? the strategy, it seems to me, d itine wedge issues and divide us amongst ourselves. >> absolutely.to and it's noted. we are 3 1/2 years after the 2016 election, and we still doha no a single law in place governing social-med platforms. this is a tool that has a long history in russia. time.es back to the czarist the czars had secret police that manipated information and disinformation. the soviets did it m interful way. now, with social media, you can touch people in waysav thatno rules of the road. do you really want to trustth e platforms to simply self-police and not have any responsibity to our government or, for that matter, to the american public? >> isn't that the case right now? >> it is absolutely the case. bingo. you just got it. and that's why -- >> andou think that's a mistake.
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>> i think that is a huge mistak i think they've ied to get better. but shouldn't we have a right to know, for example,ng when we're rea facebook post, whether it was generated by a human being or a bot? shouldn't we have a right to know the geographic origin? it says, "i'm margaret from new york," but the post is originally from saint petersburg, shouldn't shouldn't we have a right to know, from a basic privacy standpoint, wh data is being collected about each of us and what it's worth? and the fact that americ has not stepped up, we're, again, ceding this leadship to the europeans, who've already passed privacy legislation, to the brits and w australian've seen such manipulation in their system, that they now have content regulations, and indiv states, like california and others, are moving ahead when we should be actually moving at the natial level. >> so, one platform has stepped up, potentially. twitter has said they're not goi to do any political advertising. facebook has taken a different approach >> i generally think twitter moved in the right direction, but twitter had a much smaller
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revenue base than what facebook had. facebook has made ake -- facebook has said, if you are a a political party or if you're an issue group in your advertising and what you're advertising is demonstbly false, they will take the ad down. zuckerberg, on his own decisn, though, said if you are a political candidate, you can lie with impunity, and they will not take that ad down, even if it can bproven false. >> how do you resolve that? do you have facebook self-censor and hold themselves to a higher standardoe orthe government force facebook to censor speech on its platform? >> i don't think we ought to be censorinspeech. i do think items that are demonstrably false -- and rules of the road have been worked out on this in television, radio, cable news, newspapers. what should be so unique about social media? >> what is the most important single piece of legislation that could impact the election security? >> i don't think there is a single shot.
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>> so there's no silver bullet here. >> i think we have tdo a series of incremental items. one, we ought to make sure there's the same disclosure requirements for political ads on social media as there are on television. two, we ought to make sure that we know what data is being collected about us. we ought to be able to move r data. if we're tired of facebook and they are not treating us with respect, you should easily be able to move all your data, including your cat videos,e, to a new she same way you can move from one telephone company to another. i think we all got cup for a long time and we became -- it was too much techno-optimists, th social media was only going to bring about these great new communities, and both political parties kind of felln love with silicon valley. well, there's great positive companies.ome out of these they're great innovators. but the is also a dark underbelly, anicwe just need to be reali about it. i don't want it to go away. t i don't wacede this leadership to other countries around the world. i want these companies m ntain and be prosperous. but there's got to be rules
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of the road. >> after 2 1/2 years of investigations, your committee has issued two reports. you have -- >> and both of those reportsbi are totallrtisan. >> and there are pieces of legislation that would tackle the problems. why haven't any bills passed? >> well, thas a great question. and i've been very disappointed that the administration has fought these tooth and nail and the majority leader of the senate has not allowed us to bring these bills to the floor. i believe they'd get 80 votes. >> if it were a secret ballot? >> i don't think it needs to be a secret ballot.ju let us vote. tell me what senator isn't going to vote for common-sense bipartisan ideas of our electionst the integrity and make sure that social-media platforms aren't being s.nipulated by foreign age >> why do you suspect that the president is ignoring the problem that russia presents? >> that is one of, again, the questions of our te. i've got, you know, my sense on this.
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we're going continue our investigation. but we also -- listen, i'm not here to relitigate 2016. i'm not here to relitigate the mueller report.ak i am here tosure, how do we go forward and, in a commonsense way, protect us in 2020? >> let's talk about impeachment. so, as you know, this program originally was hosted f by willibuckley jr. between 1966 and 1999. may 1973, democraticenator hubert humphrey was a guest onfiring line with william f. buckley jr.," and they have a conversation about what hpens when a president defies congress. let's listen. >>f he refuses to abide by the terms of the constitution, the ultimate is whether or not this meets the requirements of an impeachment proceeding. >> yeah. and, so, could, conceivably, some so of an exemplary impeachment -- >> or a censorship. >> censorship. >> or a resolution of censorship, but that's only an expression of disdainnd -- >> has that ever happened to a president? >> no, it has not. >> mm-hmm. is it something
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that you might consider an in-between step? >> yes, that could be an in-between step, bill. >> uh-huh. uh-huh. >> so, at the time of that interview, impeachment was a distant prospect. but this idea ofensure was mentioned and considered. would that be a more bipartisan way of expressing ssatisfaction with the president rather and overturning an election?e >> i'm not going to jump to any kind of judgments until we hr the testimony. we'll have that conversation atafter we have that presen. >> as a prospective juror in a looming impeachment trial, do you have any faith or hope that some of the camaraderie and collegiality and, frankly, the respect you have for your repubcan colleagues may carry over into an impeachment trial? >> well, first,
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i real wisthe country wasn't at this spot. this is not something that's he politicalto advantage, i think, of anyone. an at the end of t day, i hope that it does notn break downrtisan lines, because that would simply already further split a countryt that too is divided. >> well, the senate majority leader, mitch mcconnell, said last week that... doou agree with him? >> i agree with the fact that we need to go into this public phase and that all of us have a constitutional obligation to go in and judge the credibility of these witnesses. i'm not going to make me presumption that 100 united states senators, when we've only done this three times, aren't going be willing to step back and realize we've got a constitutional obligation to do thiswi
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an open mind and let us follow ajere the facts lead. >> it's just theity leader of the senate is starting not with an open mind. 's saying he knows exact how it's going to end. >> listen, i also know that there are some folks on my side that have reached conclusions, as well.'s so lagain, take a deep breath. we've not done this many times in ourountry's history. 's're at a point where the an awful lot of division. i thk it's time for the sena to be adults in the room. >> senator mark warner, for your service and for your work on the intelligence committee and for securing our elections in 20.>> r hope to. >> ...thank you for coming to "firing line." >> thank you, margaret. >> "firing line with margaret hoover" is made possible by... additional funding is provided by... corporate funding is provided
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