Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

White House Hires New Lawyer in Response to Russian Investigation; Some Republican Senators' Support Questionable on Health Care Reform Bill; Representative Charlie Crist Discusses Potential for Bipartisan Compromise in Government; Six Women Come Forward about Their Experiences with Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley; Some Police Officers File Lawsuit Against Ford for Allegations that SUV's Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 15, 2017 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- from nearby Bedminster. So Boris, I understand the president is adding some legal firepower to help with this growing Russia investigation.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. Just a few moments ago we confirmed that the White House is bringing onboard a gentleman by the name of Ty Cobb. He's a very powerful Washington, D.C. attorney, and he's being brought in to oversee the response to the Russia investigation, specifically the response in the press.

So from what we understand he was a former federal prosecutor, he was also a partner at Hogan and Lovells. This hire is interesting when it comes to timing because this comes amid reports from senior White House officials that there is some tension between the White House and the president's current private attorney Marc Kasowitz who has had a very rough week. Just a few days ago some private e-mails between him and a critic were released in the press, expletive-laden. Eventually Kasowitz and had to apologize for those e-mails. But this really is an indication from the White House that they need something more when it comes to the response at least to Russia in the press. I should mention, Marc Kasowitz is expected to stay on as the president's private attorney, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then as it pertains to health care, I know the president is making his rounds on the phone. He's talking about he's trying to get support. But what else is he doing, thinking, feeling about this Republican health care plan?

SANCHEZ: Well, Fred, the president actually tweeted out about four minutes ago saying that the Senate is going to vote on legislation to save Americans from the Obamacare disaster. This was part of his weekly address. This is a full court press right now from the White House. It's not only the president making phone calls this weekend, it's also Mike Pence going to several events promoting the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, something that is essentially in do-or-die mode.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to come up with a score for this newly revised bill on Monday. The White House preemptively put out a statement saying that the figures are going to be inaccurate before even seeing them. The president has made it clear this is a very important piece of his agenda, and if it is not passed, he is going to be angry. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand waiting for our senators to give it to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will happen if they don't?

TRUMP: Well, I don't even want to talk about it because I think it will be very bad. I will be very angry about it. And a lot of people will be very upset.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Keep in mind, Fred, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, needs 50 votes to get this thing passed. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, two of those are already hard no's, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. If he loses another vote, if this bill dies, and there are so many Republican senators right now that are uncertain, so this push from the White House will be necessary to get this thing passed, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

Some U.S. senators will likely be taking cues from the governors of their states when it comes to the health care bill. Earlier I spoke with Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, and he says he's concerned that Republicans are putting politics before policy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE, (D) VIRGINIA: They made a pledge that they were going to repeal Obamacare on day one. That's what they promised. Now they're dealt with the reality is they're really playing a game of Twister trying to figure out how they do this, how they meet a political objective. But this isn't about politics. It's really not. This is about policy. This is the biggest policy initiative we have. That's why I'm saying like the governors, Democrats, Republicans, we're all here together. We put our politics aside when we come in this room. What's in the best interests of our citizens? And I just wish Congress would do the same thing. This is not about political scoring points. People will die. I don't say that like -- if we do not get this right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, but Vice President Mike Pence told governors yesterday that the Senate bill will be better for their states.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENT: But the Senate health care bill gives states the freedom to redesign your health insurance markets, and most significantly under this legislation, states across the country will have an unprecedented level of flexibility to reform Medicaid and bring better coverage, better care, and better outcomes to the most vulnerable in your states.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right, joining me now to talk more about this, the health care bill, CNN political analyst David Drucker, senior congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," and "Time" magazine contributor Jay Newton-Small. Good to see both of you.

All right, so David, you first. The Senate bill faces a crucial test in the week ahead. Can Majority Leader Mitch McConnell get the 50 votes that he needs to move the bill forward?

[14:05:00] DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's still to be determined. I've thought all along that he eventually was going to get there one way or the other, whether it's this coming week, last week, a month from now, because Republicans are facing a couple of problems here. One, their base, and not just the Trump base but the broader Republican base, expects them to repeal and replace Obamacare. They've been promising this for seven years. Not doing it is a very big problem for them in the 2018 midterms because when you control all aspects of government and you can't deliver on something as basic as this, and I mean basic politically --

WHITFIELD: But that's the only consensus that they all want to do something, but the problem is how to do it and what to agree upon.

DRUCKER: Right. And the other -- so the other thing there, Fred, that they're faced with is the fact that the health care system is in trouble and does need to be fixed. Whoever you blame for it, whatever you think the fix should be, they're going to have to do something. It's not enough to say, wow, our bill is really unpopular, people don't want it, so let's just leave things alone and we'll get back to it later. There's a lot that needs fixing. So they have to do something, which is why I think eventually get there.

WHITFIELD: And Democrats are saying, OK, then prop up what is there, make it better. But still many Republicans are saying, no, we have a promise. We made a campaign promise. The president has reiterated that too. So, Jay, conservative Republican Rand Paul and moderate Republican Susan Collins both dislike this Senate bill, you know, for different reasons. So how much of this does come down to a fundamental, philosophical, you know, difference in the role of government over health care?

JAY NEWTON-SMALL, CONTRIBUTOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Fred, it's actually I think a lot more a local issue in a lot of ways. It's where you sit versus where you stand, which I think has always been the tradition of politics.

Obamacare is actually a very much Republican -- is built off a very much Republican ideal. In fact, it's a lot closer to the Republican bill that was suggested in replacement during response to Hillarycare back in the 1990s than it is to sort of Democrats ideas or ideals of single payer or what they would have liked to have seen in the system expansions of Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP, which is what Teddy Kennedy, for example used to propose and having government provided health care rather than health care depending on private markets.

And so really a lot of the problems with this bill are a lot more simply not just ideological but a lot more local. So you have states, for example, four Republican governors have come out against this, and these are from states like Ohio, Arizona, Arkansas, and these are states that have Republicans in the Senate, and now Nevada's the last one. And those Republicans are going to be in a bind if they vote against their state governors. And so in a lot of these states that actually expanded Obamacare, like Kentucky, are Republican states. Ohio is another one. And so really it's a lot more local and it's a lot more sort of complicated and intrinsic than it is simply ideology speaking Obama care is conservative or not.

WHITFIELD: So this revised Senate bill does include a version of Ted Cruz's amendment allowing insurers to issue cheaper policies with fewer benefits. Is that what it will take to win over conservatives, David?

DRUCKER: Well, it's something like that that would allow flexibility for insurance companies to offer cheaper plans because what Republicans say their constituents are telling them and what seems to be driving them the most when I talk to them is this need to bring down the cost of premiums and deductibles. And what they tell me they hear at home is that people can't afford the insurance that's available to them. And then they point to a lot of the counties, and this is true in Nevada, and Jay brings up a good point about how local this is, this is true in states like Nevada and Ohio that have embraced Medicaid expansion but where you've seen a lot of insurance companies pull out of markets there and some counties don't have any choices anymore.

And so Republicans say that they're focused on trying to create flexibility so that the people that need the more expansive plans can get them and the people that don't have other options. One of the problems with the Affordable Care Act has been that it did not create enough of an incentive for young and healthy people who are not going to need health care that often to buy insurance plans. The mandate was -- the penalty for the mandate was not enough to encourage them to do it. And so you've had these kinds of issues with the Affordable Care Act that need fixing or that they need to address in a new plan. So these are some of the things they're trying to work through.

And ultimately I think the big problem Republicans are having here is that they don't want to get rid of any of the goodies in Obamacare that everybody likes, but they want to be able to say they passed repeal. You either do one or the other or you end up in the bind that they're in.

WHITFIELD: And so, Jay, the real -- one of the problems with, OK, cheaper premiums or, you know, policies or, you know, thriftier kind of policies, but then what about the older people? So you've got younger people who may benefit, but then the older people who will then -- who do need health care, you know, more, will end up paying more. And they can't afford it.

[14:10:00] NEWTON-SMALL: Absolutely, which is one of the biggest problems with Ted Cruz's amendment and why two of the largest health insurance groups in the country, America's Health Insurance Plans and Blue Cross/Blue Shield, came out against this amendment saying it was completely unworkable and it was impossibility for them to actually implement this rule and saying you couldn't do it because it would really do damage to health care systems. It helps -- it might -- these kinds of plans were actually eradicated specifically under the ACA because they were being abused, because people were having to declare medical bankruptcy. They thought they were covered for a number of things and it turns out that they weren't. That's why there's a certain standards set for health care across the nation.

And actually health insurance, AHIP and Blue Cross/Blue Shield actually worked on those provisions, drafting those provisions with the lawmakers who were writing them. And so now going back and sort of repealing certain parts of it and taking apart this sort of cherry picking provisions out of it really collapses the whole system and it does so much damage, there's no way you could actually feasibly implement it.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jay Newton-Small, David Drucker, we'll leave it right there. Thanks so much.

DRUCKER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, as the White House focuses on health care, we're learning more about another figure in the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer. What we know about this man and his ties to other players in this meeting, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:15:31] WHITFIELD: We're learning more now about the people who were in the secret meeting at Trump Tower in June of 2016. One of the newly discovered attendees in that room, a Russian-American lobbyist who one senator has accused of being a Russian counterintelligence person. CNN's national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The June, 2016, meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort, included more people beyond the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, a source familiar with the circumstances tells CNN. Russian-American lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin told several media outlets that he was also in the meeting. Akhmetshin told reporters for "New York Times" and "Washington Post" that he's a veteran of the Soviet army. In a March letter to the Justice Department, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley described Akhmetshin as, quote, "someone with ties to Russian intelligence," someone alleged to have conducted political disinformation campaigns as part of a pro-Russia lobbying effort. REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Plainly

this Russian attorney, this other third party if they were present, they were there to both deliver a message as well to receive a message, and plainly Moscow understood only too well that this is conduct that the Trump campaign would really appreciate.

SCIUTTO: Akhmetshin denied any intelligence links to the "The Washington Post" saying, quote, "At no time have I ever worked for the Russian government or any of it agencies. I was not an intelligence officer, never." He also told the post he was born in Russia and became a U.S. citizen in 2009.

Akhmetshin's lobbying effort, which he did on behalf of the Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya, was aimed at repealing the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russians accused of human rights abuses. A complaint filed against him with the department of justice claims that effort was on behalf of the Kremlin.

He has also been accused, according to court papers filed in New York in 2015, of hacking on behalf of one company into the computer systems of a rival company to steal confidential information a business dispute. The company, IMR, withdrew the accusation soon after without providing a reason. In an earlier related case he denied a similar accusation, saying in an affidavit, quote, "I am not a computer specialist and I am not capable of hacking."

In addition to his lobbying work, Akhmetshin was well known in Washington for being connected to very powerful people in Russia, both in the business world there and in government. And one more note, though he was born in Russia, then the Soviet Union, he emigrated to the U.S. and is now a U.S. citizen. And as a U.S. citizen he can be subpoenaed to testify before the investigating committees on the Hill.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Donald Trump Jr. says the meeting was a waste of time and nothing was disclosed because there was nothing to disclose, he says. But some critics are calling it collusion. So which is it? I asked the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and now CNN national security commentator, Mike Rogers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's certainly not a crime. The lack of transparency to me is the biggest part of this issue. I think you had -- they all made an interesting decision. Apparently three of them did know that this information was at least purported to come from the Russian government. You know, the first reaction to that is if any foreign government tries to come here and provide information on your opponent of any stripe, I don't care what party you are, what your philosophical bend is, the first call ought to be to the FBI, and that didn't happen.

So it's a little bit concerning to me that their judgment allowed them to go and sit in the meeting. And then the notion that they just were not consistent in disclosing and transparent about the meeting and who was in the meeting and what was talked about in the meeting, that's all very concerning to me.

WHITFIELD: And so there's some of that circle who are saying, well, it's just not being part of the political scene, being very naive, and that anyone, the president said it himself, anyone would do it, would take that meeting to get dirt on an opponent, in this case Hillary Clinton. Is that justifiable in your view?

ROGERS: No, I don't think we can normalize foreign governments trying to -- I don't know, influence a candidate by providing information.

[14:20:00] And so any time a foreign government -- by the way, most people have a pretty good understanding that the Russian intelligence service is hostile to the United States. There's no way around that. They do lots of hostile operations. They target Americans both here and overseas. They target people who work in the defense industry or work for government operations, trying to recruit them. They use blackmail like they used to do 20 years ago. They still do that. They use things called honey pots where they get, you know, put people in compromising positions in order to blackmail them to get information that they shouldn't be giving.

This is a hostile intelligence service to the United States. Most people know that. If the Russian government calls and says, hey, we have information on your opponent, the first reaction should not be -- and we should not normalize this behavior. Opposition research is a real thing. And it happens in politics every day. And people throw things at each other, you know, in an awful way in our politics every single election cycle. This is very different and we should not normalize it. I'm not sure what the reaction should have been, but hiding it and not talking to the FBI right away to say, hey, the Russians are trying to give us information, this doesn't smell right, that should have been their reaction.

WHITFIELD: And now you have the possible testimonies of the former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, advisor Jared Kushner, of Donald Trump Jr., will this be a set of legal problems for all of these three? Or will they be strictly political ones, particularly for Kushner since he is a White House advisor?

ROGERS: Yes, I mean, certainly I think it's going to cause political problems either way. I mean, you have these folks up there talking about it's going to be a hostile questioning environment at those hearings. You know, my concern would be if I were advising them legal advice, there is an FBI investigation -- excuse me, a Department of Justice investigation supported by the FBI with Bob Mueller. Do you really want somebody that, you know, could be implicated or might say something that they didn't say to the FBI? I was a little surprised to see that they're going to actually testify on the Hill because, remember, they're under oath. They could be charged with perjury if they lie. If they tell the FBI one thing and the Senate another thing, they've got trouble ahead of them, legal trouble, where they might now only be in political trouble. So I was a little surprised to see it. It's going to be interesting

to watch. I'll guarantee you there's going to be folks from the Department of Justice watching as eager as anyone -- any other viewer of that testimony.

WHITFIELD: So the former campaign manager Paul Manafort is the real vet here among the three there in terms of politics, being involved in many political arenas. So how much will he be pressed on knowing how this proposed meeting with Russians, you know, should have been handled? He wouldn't be able to proclaim being naive.

ROGERS: Yes, well, I'm not -- listen, if a foreign government says -- I don't buy that argument as a former FBI agent. I'm not buying it. If you've been in the business world and you understand how all that works a foreign government contacts you and says I have information, that should have sent up a red flag all day long.

But Manafort, you're right, he had dealings in Ukraine, so he should understand the length and effort of the Russian intelligence service. So just to have the meeting itself, you know, he's going to have a lot of explaining to do.

And remember, Fredricka, the investigators are going to look at this meeting and say, OK, no harm, no foul, no crime was committed. And I believe that's right, in having the meeting. Could be a judgment issue, but there's no crime committed.

But what happened next? So this is where you have to understand that where I think the investigators are going to start asking questions. So was there a subsequent meeting? Did they offer up a name for someone else on the campaign to go talk to? All of those things are now going to be trying to be determined by the FBI and the investigation with DOJ because that's how you would know if the Russians were actually recruiting somebody. You know, again, their whole look at this is going to be try to find out, hey, were there financial transactions in the future? Did they recruit someone? Was this just a one-time gig that didn't work? Well, the Russians do that a lot. That in and of itself is not a crime.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. And now talk about timing, how about those Russian compounds? Russia wants access now to the compounds in Maryland and New York. The Obama administration of course kicking a number of the Russians out of that property. How detrimental potentially would it be if President Trump were to determine that they can now have access again to those compounds?

ROGERS: Well, I wouldn't do it, Fredricka. You know, when the Russians left, they were in a hurry, and they took lots and lots of equipment out of those compounds. I wouldn't be in a hurry to give it back to them for sure. I don't think that they were pure vacation spots for the Russians. I think they used them as collection facilities. And I wouldn't give them back, candidly.

[14:25:014] WHITFIELD: All right, Mike Rogers, thanks so much. Good to see you.

ROGERS: Yes, thanks. Great to see you, Fredricka.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up, as questions swirl around Russia, President Trump is turning his attention to health care. What the White House is doing today to push the embattled GOP bill across the finish line, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Live pictures right now from Capitol Hill where President Trump is pushing to overhaul health care, pass tax reform, and a major budget. He's not there physically, but he's thinking about Capitol Hill. It's his legislative agenda that is stalled, collateral damage due to swirling controversies over possible campaign ties to Russia and the special investigations looking into the matter.

[14:30:06] Well, some senior lawmakers say the drip, drip of Russia stories are to blame.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: How much that all this Russia controversy is overwhelming things here for you guys? How much of it --

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It's sucking the oxygen out of the room. Everybody knows that.

RAJU: When it sucks the oxygen out of the room, does that mean this agenda -- this is essentially undercutting the Republican agenda.

MCCAIN: Sure. I think it's very difficult when you have this overwhelming barrage of new information that unfolds every few days. I think it's obvious.

REP. TOM COLE, (R) OKLAHOMA: There's a common perception we're not doing much and we're actually doing quite a bit. Most people back home aren't even aware they're caught up in the sort of daily distractions that go on coming out of the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Democratic congressman and former governor of Florida Charlie Crist joining me now. Good to see you. So you're also a member of the Problem Solver Caucus. So are those controversies, in your view, starting to weigh on the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle? Is that what's potentially is stalling much of the president's agenda?

REP. CHARLIE CRIST, (D) FLORIDA: I don't think there's much question about that, Fredricka. It kind of takes all of the oxygen out of the room. And when you have continuing revelations about different things that happen in the administration, whether it's who's meeting with whom or whatever, you know, it consumes the news. Certainly it affects your business significantly, and it certainly consumes Congress. These things are important. They need to be looked into thoroughly. They need to be appropriately investigated, which they are. And it's a focus of the country.

But I know the American people want us to get things done. And that's why Problem Solvers, a caucus within the United States Congress, I think is so important, where we put aside our political differences, we treat each other in a civil fashion, we respect one another, understanding that we're not going to agree on everything, but we're Americans first instead of partisans first. And I think that's what the American people want. That's the way I think we need to comport ourselves.

WHITFIELD: So how does Problem Solvers get to the root of trying to solve this problem of health care, the Affordable Care Act, having some problems continuing to give the kind of care that was promised to them at the same time, you know, solve the problem of Republicans who say they want to repeal and replace it, and Democrats solving the problem among Democrats who say they don't want it repealed at all but they do want it fixed.

CRIST: Well, as far as the Problem Solvers approach to it, we had a meeting just this week, Republicans and Democrats together, trying to look through different parts of the health care bill, understanding that there are parts of it that some are not going to like and others are going to like.

I think we can all agree that we would like premiums to be reduced, that we would like to provide health care to those in need, that we don't want to be cruel to those that are poor and unable to work, nor to the disabled who need health care. And the current form of the bill doesn't achieve that. It would take 22 million Americans, mostly poor and disabled, and leave them without health care. I mean, it's not really a health care bill in my view. It's a bill to get rid of health care for an awful lot of our fellow Americans. That's not the right approach. And I think most people understand that. Certainly Problem Solvers do.

And that's what we want to achieve. Not really looking at the partisan label, but realizing as I said before, we're all Americans first. And we have an obligation to help the American people and to do what's right, not only in health care but also with infrastructure. It's pretty clear, and I think pretty noncontroversial that we need to improve our roads, improve our bridges, improve our rail service, improve our airports. It would provide an awful lot of jobs. It would be a great stimulus to our economy. It would help grow the economy in significant ways, providing those jobs for millions of Americans.

Now, these are common sense things I think the American people want us to focus on. I know that's what I hear here in my district in St. Petersburg in Clearwater, Florida. I'm going to a barbecue right after this interview today in the south side of St. Pete. We'll hear more from the people that I work for, my boss if you will. And they always tell me, Charlie, you know, work together. Do the best you can. Try to do it in a respectful way. And that's how we're trying to comport ourselves.

In fact, that's why I introduced with Representative Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a Republican, I'm a Democrat, that we should have a national day of civility. I wear this yellow wristband every day that reminds me to practice the golden rule every day. Dr. Robert Wallace gave me the idea during the campaign last year. And I think it's a great idea. We need to get back to some of those values of mutual respect.

[14:35:00] WHITFIELD: So the White House right now is aggressively, you know, trying to woo governors skeptical of the health care bill. Earlier I spoke with Virginia Governor McAuliffe who says the phone calls, the lobbying of governors' support should have come well before today, but how about in the making of this plan. So as governor, when you were governor, at what junction would you have wanted to hear from the president to try to get your support for an overhaul or amendment or repeal or replace of a health care plan?

CRIST: Well, I actually heard your interview of Terry McAuliffe, my former fellow governor. And I thought he was spot-on. What he was saying was in essence, look, as governors, as the CEO of a state, you realize and understand your obligation is to all the people of your state. I mean, I was a Republican when I was governor of Florida, and I would remind my Republican friends I didn't get elected the governor of the Republicans of Florida. I got elected of the governor of the people of Florida. It's the same in my congressional district. I'm the representative of all the people in this district, Republican, Democrat and independent.

And so you have to take that approach when you're the president or governor or member of Congress, I think. And I think that's what the American people -- they're tired of the partisanship. And they're tired of, you know, we want to make a point of the day a political point. This is not a political discussion, providing health care to people. It's a pragmatic discussion. It's a practical discussion of doing what's right.

And for me, Fredricka, it's never been about right versus left. It's more so been about right versus wrong. It is right to provide health care to those who are unable to work for the poor and their families and their children. It is right to protect our environment, especially as a Floridian, I'm very sympathetic to that because it provides so much to our economy through tourism. If we look through things through a different prism, a right versus wrong prims, and present ourselves civility, in a civil way to each other, I think we get a lot of these things moving and have a much more productive Congress and federal government.

WHITFIELD: All right, another thing to add to your to-do list as a problem solver. Congressman Charlie Crist, thank you so much. Good to see you. Have a great weekend.

CRIST: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, it's an issue that has run rampant in Silicon Valley, sexual harassment. Up next, we hear from six women who have come forward with firsthand accounts.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:41] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So in the past three weeks two powerful Silicon Valley venture capitalists have stepped down. This comes on the heels of multiple Uber executives resigning due to allegations of sexual harassment. In a rare interview, six women are now coming forward with their shocking stories. With me now, the person who talked to these women, CNN senior tech correspondent Laurie Segall. Good to see you, Laurie. So tell us why these interviews are so rare to get this kind of information?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: It's really difficult for women to come forward. And I will say it's a watershed moment in Silicon Valley. We've heard about these stories happening behind closed doors for a very long time. Remember, this is where the money is, this is where the power is. But these women were brave enough to say, you know, I don't want to hide behind this anymore. I want to talk about it. So I sat down with six women, they all have different stories, Fred. And they're sharing these stories in hopes that it will bring about change. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEA ARTHUR, FOUNDER, THE DIFFERENCE: You don't want to tell people you were in a business meeting and somebody shamed you and made you feel less than. Who wants to say that?

LEITI HSU, CO-FOUNDER, JOURNY: It was a moment I felt my leg being grabbed under the table that I thought holy moly, this is real.

LISA WANG, CO-FOUNDER, SHEWORX: We're sitting at a Starbucks and he grabs my face and tries to make out with me.

CECILIA PAGKALINAWAN, FOUNDER, APPLOUD, STYLETREK: I hate to say this, but it's the norm. And I hope that we can change that.

So this is my story. In 2001 the environment was a lot different because of the dotcom crash. So I was faced with raising more money or letting go of employees. So one time I had a meeting with a potential V.C., one of the more powerful ones out there, and he ordered a $5,000 bottle of wine. And I couldn't even remember how many times the glass got filled.

All of a sudden he was conveying to me how attracted he was to me, tried to lean over to kiss me and I pulled away. I'll never forget when he touched me under the table and looked into my eyes and grabbed my leg and squeezed it and say, you know, I'm going to help you. I'm going to do this for you. I said he was my savior or something. And at the same time he is violating me.

ARTHUR: I was lucky enough to have an advisor or mentor who had never expressed any romantic or sexual interest in me and we were literally working on spreadsheets, the least sexy thing in the world. Remember, we're sitting side by side in front of a computer. And at the end of that he stood up and he pulled out his erect penis, genitalia. He pulled out his erect penis. And it was right in eyesight. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. It was unfair. But it happened. And it wasn't the last time something like that would happen.

HSU: When he did that, it made me feel disgusted, demoralized, and disrespected.

GESCHE HAAS, FOUNDER, DREAMERS/DOERS: Like I didn't have any worth as a woman in business.

PAGKALINAWAN: Like all of my accomplishments, I'd already raised $5 million in venture funding, like none of that mattered.

WANG: If I was sitting across from the investor who harassed me, I would say to him I'm here to talk business and nothing else.

ARTHUR: It's strange to me when you look at your pipeline and your deal flow as opportunities for your romantic life. Don't date your deal flow. It's not that hard.

[14:45:03] PAGKALINAWAN: What else do you need to prove? You already have the money. You have the power. You have the decision making ability. You have it all. Like, why do you do this?

SUSAN HO, CO-FOUNDER, JOURNY: You preyed on a group of women that you thought were too afraid, were not in a position to speak up, and clearly you were very, very wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL: And, Fred, part of this dialogue is trying to figure out what next, you know, where's the accountability? And a lot of these women have talked about trying to have a structure for if women want to speak up, they can actually go somewhere to speak up, there's something they can say something to at a venture capitalist firm.

And the overwhelming sense I got from these women is, look, we're going to come here and we're going to tell our stories. But we want to get back to work. And we want to make this a safe environment for other women entrepreneurs because that's the future. And I think that's why a lot of them are coming forward and talking now, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And in large part coming forward too because, I mean, revealing that this is happening also might help promote some change.

SEGALL: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Wow, really powerful stories. Laurie Segall, thank you so much.

All right, police officers in Austin are battling more than just violence on the streets. Details on the alleged carbon monoxide leaks in their own vehicles, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:50:34] WHITFIELD: All right, we're learning new details today about bizarre cases of police officers who claim they have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in their patrol cars. The problem started almost two years ago when an officer passed out and crashed his SUV into a tree. CNN's Polo Sandoval joins me now with more details on this.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. So this has basically involved the 2011 through 2017 Ford Explorer police version. Those are the bulk of incidents that have occurred here. And at this point the Ford Manufacturing Company has actually issued several bulletins, saying that that vehicle still has several unsealed exposures or, in their words, openings that allow some of the outside air to seep into the vehicle along with its contents. One attorney suing Ford says some of those contents include toxic carbon monoxide.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: This police dash cam captured this seconds before Newport Beach, California, officer lost consciousness behind the wheel. He drifts into another lane, over a grassy median, and crashes into a tree line. Look again. The SUV narrowly missed an oncoming vehicle. The officer behind the wheel is currently suing Ford, the maker of his patrol vehicle, blaming his blackout on carbon monoxide poisoning. A similar case is making its way through a Texas court. Documents show Austin police Sergeant Zachary LaHood on patrol when he became nauseous, lightheaded, and began experiencing cognitive difficulties.

SGT. ZACHARY LAHOOD: I have a headache. I feel like I'm going to throw up.

SANDOVAL: Before pulling into this parking lot LaHood nearly collided with an oncoming bus. His medical diagnosis, according to the lawsuit, carbon monoxide poisoning.

The National Transportation Safety Administration has investigated more than 150 complaints from Ford Explorer owners about the smell of exhaust fumes in their SUVs. Ford has settled a class action lawsuit related to those complaints. After Sergeant LaHood's incident, Austin P.D. pulled 37 of their police interceptors out of service. The police association president there now calling on the city to find a long-term solution.

KEN CASADAY, AUSTIN POLICE ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT: Our big fear now is that we have officers in the city driving around every day being poisoned and they don't even know about it.

SANDOVAL: Ford Motor Company responding to allegations that their explorers are flawed, saying "We have investigated and not found any carbon monoxide issue resulting from the design of our police interceptor utility vehicles. We know police modify these vehicles which can contribute to exhaust related issues. We have provided instructions to help seal these modifications and are ready to inspect any vehicles with this concern."

Those instructions were sent to Austin P.D. They identify openings on some 2013 police interceptors that could allow external air into the SUV. The maintenance bulletins date back to 2012, says Brian Chase, attorney for three officers suing Ford.

BRIAN CHASE, ATTORNEY FOR ZACHARY LAHOOD: Most of the police fleets and people I talk to now are putting carbon monoxide detectors in the vehicles so they can catch it ahead of time. It would have been nice if they had a warning about this sooner.

SANDOVAL: That's something Chase is hoping will change.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: And Brian Chase also told me that his firm is currently in touch with at least six other families, civilian families who have reported carbon monoxide issues in their Explorers. I just spoke to a Ford spokesperson a few moments ago telling me that they are looking into those reports at this time but have not been able to confirm any of that. But obviously this vehicle, Fred, is extremely popular for law enforcement agencies across the country. It's also very popular for families as well.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

And thank you so much for being with me this afternoon. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So much more straight ahead in the Newsroom. But first, here's a sneak peek at tomorrow's all-new episode of "The Nineties".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

GIL TROY, AUTHOR, "THE AGE OF CLINTON": When he comes to office, a few Democrats say fix welfare first. But Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton really want to do health care first. You could say that the search for health care reform was like the great Democratic holy grail.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: For 60 years this country has tried to reform health care. President Roosevelt tried. President Truman tried. President Nixon tried. President Carter tried. Every time the special interests were powerful enough to defeat them, but not this time.

(APPLAUSE)

[14:55:17] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a masterful performance. And I think the president has reengaged the Congress and the American public on the issue of health care, and probably will have some success with it.

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we do not guarantee health insurance to every American, then we have failed all Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton was given enormous responsibility by her husband to do this very hard thing, to reform health care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)