Return to Transcripts main page
HALA GORANI TONIGHT
Facebook, Data Firm In Center Of Storm; Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Speaks To CNN; U.K., E.U. Hail A Breakthrough In Talks; Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 19, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. It is Monday. I`m Hala Gorani.
Tonight, two huge stories with their heart right here in the United Kingdom. First of all, did a big company secretly harvest info from 50
million Facebook users? Officials in London and Washington want to know.
And also, this hour, what is being called a decisive step forward in Brexit talks? Do we finally have more clarity? We`ll get to that in a moment.
First, though, lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding answers from Facebook and from a company called Cambridge Analytica. We
may not have heard of it just a few days ago, but it`s become quite a household name.
The data firm is allegedly involved in harvesting information from Facebook users to use in political advertising and influence campaigns. It`s a
story that sent Facebook shares plunging today and one of the major issues is the millions of people whose data was potentially taken had no idea that
their information was used in this way.
In a moment, I`ll be speaking to the whistleblower at the heart of this story, but first Issa Soares explains how Facebook and that relatively
unknown company with roots here in the U.K. came to be at the center of a storm.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I first met the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nicks nine days before the U.S.
presidential election in 2016, a man confident he can get inside the mind of American voters by predicting and then attempting to alter their
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the data is extremely robust and proven to be so time and again.
SOARES: His data helped this man win, U.S. President Donald Trump, who paid multimillion dollars for them to work their magic. The behind their
win method is more than just data crunching, it`s a massive data grab so says their former contractor, now turned whistleblower, Chris Wylie.
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, FORMER CONTRACTOR, CAMBRIDGE ANALYSTICA: We spent almost a million dollars during this. It wasn`t some tiny pilot project.
It was the core of why Cambridge Analytica became. It allowed us to move into the hearts and minds of American voters in a way that had never been
SOARES: And this is what Wylie says they did. Cambridge Analytica receive data from a third party, a professor, Alexander Coogan based at the
University of Cambridge. He was able to gather data on tens of millions of Americans through Facebook.
And then using a survey placed on Facebook, they asked users to take a personality test. The answers group people on the personality types. They
combined it with voter history, what they buy, where they shop, and what they watch on TV.
And that enabled them to predict the personality of every adult in the United States, and then target them with specific political ads, but it
goes further, by opting into these Facebook surveys, each user was actually giving not just their data, but that many of their Facebook friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a great grossly unethical experiment because you are playing with the entire country, the psychology of an entire country
without their consent or awareness.
SOARES: Speaking to the U.K. Parliament Committee on Data Protection and Fake News back in February, Cambridge Analytica denied they violated
ALEXANDER NIX, CEO, CAMBRIDGE ANALYST: (Inaudible) Facebook data, we don`t have Facebook data. We do use Facebook as a platform to advertise
(inaudible), most of agencies, all agencies and we use Facebook as a means to gather data.
SOARES: The attention now turns to Facebook and how it reportedly allowed a data breach on the scale.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As I`ve said from the beginning --
SOARES: And more importantly how it was used to reach and influence voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election. In a statement Facebook said the
claim that this is a data breach is completely false and if those involve certified they have destroyed the data.
Meanwhile, it says it`s suspending the accounts of Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica as well as Professor Alexander Coogan, who did not respond to our
request for comment. If anything is shine the light in the dark casts of political advertising. Isa Soares, CNN, London.
GORANI: Well, obviously, there`s a lot of reaction to this story. Just in the last hour, we have seen secret footage of the CEO of that company
mentioned in the report, Cambridge Analytica, saying his firm could use sex bribes and sex workers to entrap rival politicians.
Following that report on Britain`s Channel 4 news, the U.K. Information Commissioner said she is applying for a warrant to search the firm`s
databases and Facebook says Cambridge Analytica has agreed to an audit of its servers.
That it really deleted these tens of millions of data points from users that perhaps weren`t fully aware that they were sharing their personal
information with a data firm. Christopher Wylie is the whistleblower, who revealed the alleged breach and whom you saw on that film and he joins me
now in the studio.
[16:05:12] Thanks, Chris Wylie for being with us. Where did Cambridge Analytica get its data from, was it -- I mean, it harvested it from
WYLIE: So, after Robert Mercer (ph) put in tens of millions of dollars into this idea --
GORANI: Robert Mercer is the billionaire GOP donor.
WYLIE: Yes. He`s the rich guy who put in all the cash and when he -- when he put all his money, Steve Bannon said, OK, you know, we want to we want
to be ready for the 2014 midterms, we got to find data fast.
And Professor Alex Coogan at Cambridge University at the psychology department, came to us and said, I think I have a solution. I`ve got these
apps that can pull data not only from the app users but from the entire friend network also.
And you know the company looks at that and realize that that mandate, if we got one person to download that app, it would pull, you know, 200, 300
records and that would scale really quickly --
GORANI: Without their knowledge.
WYLIE: Without their knowledge and that would scale really quickly and that would build up a sufficient data set for the firm to be ready to
operate in the 2014 midterms.
GORANI: What kind of information was being harvested?
WYLIE: You know, Facebook profile information so the algorithms that were developed in the scheme really focused at least initially on Facebook likes
because when you think about what are Facebook likes. These are all the things that you know you are liking and following and really it creates a
curated picture profile of you.
And so, these likes would then be harvested from U.S. user and then in all of your --
GORANI: All my friends.
WYLIE: And be used to develop an algorithm that could then profile the user`s personality traits and psychological disposition so that Cambridge
Analytica or its clients could target messaging that would focus on underlying, you know, mental heuristics or vulnerabilities.
GORANI: So, like psychometrics, like you could categorize people as neurotics or as open or (inaudible).
WYLIE: Absolutely. This is the big five model personality.
GORANI: Yes. And then based on the you think, OK, here`s an area where we could potentially target voters and then flood them with radio ads,
billboards, and maybe things they would be responsive with.
WYLIE: With very nuances specific kinds of messages. I think one of the other things that people have to understand is that Cambridge Analytica,
you know, was birthed from another company class, STL Group, which is a military contractor that`s based here in London that works in information
So, in terms of what, you know, the culture and attitude of Cambridge Analytica came from that, came from a military background and really treats
the electorate in the same way that we would, you know, go and treat, you know, the Taliban or ISIS in Islamic extremism.
GORANI: Did Cambridge Analytica know that this data was taken from profile from users on Facebook that hadn`t voluntarily shared it?
GORANI: They knew that?
GORANI: And they were fine with that?
WYLIE: Yes, because, you know, it`s one of those, you know, if you don`t ask questions, you will not get answers that you do not like, right? So,
you know, we knew how the apps worked. We knew that, you know, when it pulls the Facebook friend data, it would not ask the friends if they could
give permission for that.
It just went and just pull it and that`s why it scaled so quickly. It made the program -- I mean, we spent over a million dollars on the program, but
in the scheme of the amount of data that we were able to collect, it actually was fast and cheap and gave us great quality data.
GORANI: The other big question is, did Facebook know?
WYLIE: So, my understanding is that Facebook authorized Coogan to -- Dr. Coogan, the professor, to use the app for academic purposes and that is
what they told me in the legal correspondents that I`ve had with them, which means that Facebook did allow this to happen and they knew that this
They just thought it was for academic research. But nonetheless, Facebook still allowed and have to go and harvests data of friends without
GORANI: But they knew that the app would not just collect data from the person downloading the app but their friend networks?
WYLIE: Facebook granted that permission for the app. So, that, you know, they knew what the app is doing. They just did not necessarily know what
it was for.
GORANI: Right. So, they knew the app was going into friend networks beyond the person who downloaded the app.
WYLIE: And pulling all of your friends` data without them knowing.
GORANI: But that goes against what Facebook routinely says, which is that your information is yours and its private and you know, they are not
selling it or in any way --
WYLIE: Well, obviously, but this gets to how, you know, the definition of what is private because the way -- the way, at least my understanding of
what was some of the statements have come out recently is it`s defining your likes and your profile as public because you share it with your
[16:10:12] WYLIE: But just because you share something with your friends, does not mean that you necessarily want to share it with like psychological
propaganda machine --
GORANI: Right. And that`s what you call Cambridge Analytica, I read a quote from you calling it a propaganda machine.
WYLIE: Well, that`s what it does. I mean, again, it comes from STL Group, which is a military contractor that works in information operations for
militaries around the world. That`s propaganda.
GORANI: When did you leave Cambridge Analytica and why, and why are you speaking up now?
WYLIE: I left near the end of 2014. After I left, you know, they got very upset with me. You know, you have to remember I was one of the people who
was creating this company to have me to leave was a I think a massive blow and they threatened all kinds of legal action after I left. I signed an
NDA after, you know, it`s quite intimidating --
GORANI: A nondisclosure agreement.
WYLIE: A nondisclosure agreement, you know, it`s quite intimidating to have, you know, a company backed by a rich billionaire threatening you
nonstop. So, I signed an NDA and I did not say anything.
GORANI: Why now then?
WYLIE: Well, because when I was watching the 2016 election happen in the United States and all of these questions about Russian interference, for
example, you know, I started thinking back to the times where we were meeting with Luke Oil (ph), which is the second largest oil company in
Alexander Nix did presentations to Luke Oil and the first slide was all about rumor campaigns and the second slide was about voter inoculation and,
you know, we had our professor, who is managing this data harvesting program, going back and forth between London and Russia because he is also
Because he was also working on projects in Russia that were funded by the Russians on psychological profiling, and so for me it is really concerning
because I look at what is happening, and I think OK, you know we are amassing this mass amount of data.
Meanwhile, we are interfacing with a company that has no link to the FSB, which is the Russian security and intelligence service and we -- the
professor who is managing this app and harvesting program was going to Russia and working for the Russians.
In addition to this, the company literally pitched Coogan`s work for the Russians to other clients in other countries.
GORANI: This completely contradicts what Alexander Nix, the boss of Cambridge Analytica told lawmakers here in Britain. He was asked directly,
do you have any Russian clients, he said no. Do you harvest information from Facebook to use Facebook as a source for your data? He said no. Are
you saying he lied to lawmakers?
WYLIE: What I am saying and what I showed Damien Collins last week as the chair of the committee that you are referring to. I showed him contracts,
invoices, e-mails that showed that, you know, a million dollars was spent at least on this program.
That data was collected. You know, Alexander Nix`s signature is on the documents, right? He cannot deny it. So, for him to go to committee and
say that he did not use Facebook data is patently false.
People have to remember, this scheme, this data harvesting scheme was the foundation of Cambridge Analytica. These algorithms were only built
because of this Facebook data.
GORANI: And this Russian connection, could you expand on that because Alexander Nix saying we have never had Russian clients before?
WYLIE: Well, what I passed to the "New York Times" and "The Guardian" were e-mails and slide decks that Alexander Nix made that, you know, reference
rumor campaign, voter inoculation, you know, undermining people`s confidence in the electoral process in Nigeria, for example, that he sends
He also sends white papers that I have written on the data assets that we were amassing in the profiling algorithms that were creating and he sent
that as he said to me in an e-mail to the CEO of Luke Oil, right.
I am talking to senior executives at this company and in addition to that you had Alexander Coogan going back and forth between London and Russia
working at St. Petersburg University on profiling people`s psychology for the Russians meanwhile as he`s setting up this massive harvesting scheme.
So, I think for me, what is concerning looking at Russian interference is that this company was interfacing with Russian entities at least when I was
there. I think it`s something that should be explored.
GORANI: Well, I want to tell our viewers because Facebook and Cambridge Analytica both are basically blaming the Cambridge professor, Dr. Coogan.
They are saying they thought he was complying with U.K. law.
GORANI: Is that -- what is your reaction?
WYLIE: Well, what I would say to that is, you know, in the U.K. as a data controller, which Cambridge Analytica was, you have a legal obligation to
make sure that you are getting consent from the data subjects of projects that you are funding way, right, and they did not do that.
[16:15:13] You know, I --
GORANI: They are saying they knew, but they were as you said not asking the question.
WYLIE: They are now asking the question. I mean, I don`t want to obfuscate my responsibility in this. I played a very significant role in
setting up Cambridge Analytica. You know, it stems from the research and work that I was doing when I was research director at FDL, the prior
company and that is why I am coming and speaking out.
You know, it`s unfortunate that, you know, Facebook as soon as I come and speak out, you know, they banned me from their platform. They banned me
from Facebook. They banned me from Instagram for speaking out on a program that they have known about for at least two years.
It`s only when I come public to tell people about this that they come back to me and ban me.
GORANI: And Facebook is asking you agree to an audit and they`ve asked Cambridge Analytica and Cambridge Analytica said yes. Will you agree to
that? I`m not sure what that entails.
WYLIE: They haven`t told me what it entails. I am willing to have a chat with them, but you know, what is it that you want to audit, my phone?
GORANI: Well, because you`ve been suspended from Facebook so --
WYLIE: But you know what are you going to audit, my phone? I do not -- I am not company. I don`t have a server. I don`t have -- you know, what do
you want audit?
GORANI: Well, I mean, that`s a question for them. I am also slightly confused by that request.
WYLIE: I`m the person like the thing that really frustrates me about Facebook`s response is I`m the person bringing public attention and
scrutiny to this issue. I talked with their lawyers. My worst talk with the lawyers last week. They said that they wanted to have -- they`ve known
that this was coming for a week as we gave them a heads up.
And you know, they committed to me in writing that they want to have an open and collaborative approach, and now they turn around and drop this
press release that says I`m being suspended. Make insinuations that somehow, I am, you know, working on some kind of nefarious thing or --
GORANI: You want to setup a rival company, that was --
WYLIE: I am sorry that is just patently false. I do not want to set up a company for the alt-right. Like look at me, I am not exactly the vision of
an alt-right, you know, I do not want to set up a rival Cambridge Analytica.
GORANI: Well, for instance, if it were for a political side that you embrace so that you agreed with. Would you have continued this work under
WYLIE: I work in political targeting. I worked in the United States. I have worked in Canada. I`ve worked in U.K. I worked actually all around
the world for progressive candidates. So, yes, I do work in targeting. I do not work in propaganda or, you know, go around stealing data.
WYLIE: But, you know, the idea that I am trying to set up a rival Cambridge Analytica is patently false and by the way, I haven`t. Look, I
GORANI: (Inaudible) for years is what you`re saying.
WYLIE: And I`m not -- like there is this rival Cambridge Analytica that I am setting up.
GORANI: I want to ask you a question about Steve Bannon because essentially he is the one who brought the Mercer money in, right, the 15
million reported 15 million.
GORANI: What did he see in the company? At the time, it was upstart. It didn`t have the big cash injection. Did you meet him and what did he say -
WYLIE: Yes. So, he came -- it`s a funny story because somebody who had previously worked with FDL on the military side, just by sheer coincidence
met some Republican consultants on a plane and you know how Americans do.
They started chatting and (inaudible) your second no feet, you know, what you do, what I do, work in cyber warfare. I am a Republican consultant
let`s like talk.
WYLIE: They got -- I got introduced to Alexander Nix and then Alexander Nix got introduced to Steve Bannon because Steve Bannon was, you know, at
the time running Breitbart and the Breitbart vision was, you know, don`t focus on politics, change politics and culture.
(Inaudible) politics close from culture and so he was looking for, you know, a wider arsenal of weapons to fight back culture war. And it really
appealed to him that FDL had background in military information operations because, again, if you think about how do you wage a culture war, you need
an arsenal of weapons, and what better place to go to where the military goes.
GORANI: But he saw potential in a company that had really done anything on a big scale in the U.S. at all because its first attempts laboratory as I
was told by another person who worked at Cambridge Analytica was the 2014 midterms. That is where that all that methodology was tested and then
utilized in a more refined sophisticated way in 2016.
WYLIE: But FDL Group, you have remember, Cambridge Analytica didn`t exist at the time. Cambridge Analytica was, you know, only came into existence
after Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer decided to fund the project to take what FDL is doing around the world for various militaries.
[16:20:14] Intervening in elections in other countries and take it and (inaudible) into the United States and set up an American entity. It`s
something to point out is that Cambridge Analytica is more of a concept or brand for its American facing work, but the vast majority of its staff are
based here in London. And they work for FDL. Their paycheck is FDL.
GORANI: I`m going to ask you one last question. How do we know any of this had any impact on any race? How can we measure that, can we?
WYLIE: I mean, like anything in elections, it`s impossible to say, you know, exactly what -- you know what won it for Trump or what won it for
whomever. But, you know, I think that it must had an impact -- knowing the research that I was working on at the time, we were looking at, you know,
things like drain the swamp.
We were looking at imagery of walls and how people engage with that concept. We were looking at, you know, suspicions about the deep state.
We were looking at all kinds of things that at the time, you know in 2014 would have sounded slightly fringe or crazy for any political candidate to
But what we are finding were, you know, cohorts of Americans who really responded to some of these things and this all got fed back to Steve
Bannon, you know, and then right after I left, Cambridge Analytica started meeting with Corey Lewandowski, who later became Trump`s campaign manager
at the Trump Organization in New York before Trump even announced that he was going to run.
So, for some reason you`ve got Cambridge Analytica, who is working for Ted Cruz at the time, going to the Trump Organization in New York and meeting
with Corey Lewandowski for some reason before Trump even announced.
GORANI: This is very interesting to me.
WYLIE: They confirmed that to me --
GORANI: They were meeting at Trump Tower before --
WYLIE: Trump even announced that he was running for president.
WYLIE: Yes. That relationship goes back far, you know, far longer than what they have admitted so far and you know, this -- I had it in writing
from their lawyers that they had this meeting.
GORANI: With Corey Lewandowski present?
GORANI: And Trump or just Corey Lewandowski as --
WYLIE: Corey Lewandowski at the Trump Organization in New York in the spring of 2015.
GORANI: At that point they decided to work together.
WYLIE: I do not know. You`ll have to ask Cambridge Analytica, why were you meeting with Donald Trump before he could even announce when you were
working for Ted Cruz, what were you pitching? You know, this is at the same time that they are going around talking to all these Russian entities,
you know, it is bizarre.
GORANI: Well, it is certainly connect-the-dot situation here where we are getting a lot more information. Thanks to you in putting the pieces of the
puzzle together. Chris Wylie, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time. We spent a long time talking to because it is so
interesting what you shared with us this evening. And many people on Facebook also I think will be interested in some of these.
WYLIE: I have a message to Facebook, it`s like let`s work together. I am not out to get Facebook.
GORANI: OK. Chris Wylie, thanks so much for joining us.
Still to come, is it a Brexit breakthrough after long negotiations before we finally have more clarity? We`ll be right back.
GORANI: Well, it is a Brexit breakthrough after long and arduous negotiations, the U.K. and Europe have reached a deal over the transition
period, which refers to what happens right after Britain`s departure from the E.U. next year.
Here`s what Brussels chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier said about the agreement with his British counterpart, David Davis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATION (through translator): What we are presenting to you today here with David is legal text, a joint legal
text, which constitutes in my mind a decisive step because we were able this morning to agree and after all those days and nights of hard work on a
large tasks of what will make up an international agreement for the ordered withdrawal of the United Kingdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Michel Barnier there. Our Erin McLaughlin joins us from Brussels, Bianca Nobilo is with me in the studio. So, Erin, still some sticking
points, though, the Northern Ireland border, all sorts of things that still need to be ironed out, but I guess this is a step forward.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in the words of Chief Brexit Negotiator Michelle Bernier, this is a decisive step forward and the E.U.
really seeming to get what it wanted in terms of that transition agreement.
I was speaking to an E.U. diplomat just a short while ago and he was telling that he`s happy with the terms of this deal so far especially when
it comes to E.U. citizens. Previously, the U.K. had wanted something different for citizens who moved to the U.K. during the transition period.
But under the terms of this agreement, those citizens will be able to stay inside the U.K. being treated as the same as the E.U. citizens pre-Brexit.
Also, the U.K. will be a rule taker, not a rule maker and continue to pay into the budget.
So, E.U. diplomats telling me they are happy with this agreement. The one concession that was made on their part is the fact that the U.K. will be
able to sign and ratify trade deals during the transition period although those deals will not go into effect until after the transition period is
A senior E.U. diplomat telling me that he is OK with that. He had that concession in mind going into the negotiating process that he thinks that`s
only fair and it doesn`t harm the E.U. It`s also something he said that Theresa May can take back as a kind of victory there on the British
And keep in mind that, you know, the E.U. is very cognizant of the fragile political reality in which she is operating.
GORANI: All right. And Bianca here in the studio, are British officials satisfied with -- they make quite a few concessions?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN PRODUCER: They have, but they`ve also released some counter concessions at Downing Street today released a list of how the E.U.
had made concessions to the U.K. and chief among them as Erin just said is this ability to be able to negotiate and sign trade deals during the
And it`s interesting that so many people have been quiet in the U.K. like opponents of Theresa May, Brexiteers and Jacob (inaudible), who as we`ve
talked about in the past was saying that it`s so important that Britain isn`t a (inaudible) stage during the transition period on being a rule
taker and not a rule maker is exactly that. So that`s the concession we have heard from them not yet.
GORANI: But a quick question, this extends the period of uncertainty for almost two more years, which means that Europeans here businesses,
corporations, investors, banks, they won`t know until the end of 2020 beginning of 2021, whether or not, you know, the U.K. -- what its really
economic relationship will be with Europe, for instance.
NOBILO: Well, so, it depends how you look at it. So, the Chamber of Commerce in Britain and the CVI today have warmly welcomed it because at
least it reduces some of the uncertainty because as we know businesses were most concerned about there being changes on the date Brexit 29th of March
2019 and then another host of changes at the end of the transition period, which is so much for business to handle.
At least now they know that there will be a status quo transition where everything will remain the same and then there will be changes at the end
of it. However, this transition period they agreed the terms of the transition today. The actual transition isn`t guaranteed until the entire
withdrawal agreement is guaranteed.
GORANI: And that could be longer even that means.
NOBILO: Yes. Absolutely. There are so many hurdles yet to overcome.
GORANI: I am not being rude. I`m just checking what the pound if doing. Whatever the pound --
NOBILO: It was up with the same responsibility. It was up. It was -- reflected across. This isn`t in the UK that we`re happy to at least hear
that some certainty have been guaranteed.
GORANI: Al right. Thank you very much, Bianca and Erin.
And Donald Trump is fuming over the Russian investigations still romping his fellow Republicans, some of them at least, to warn him not to
interfere. That is next.
GORANI: Well, no surprise here, really. Vladimir Putin has set for another six years in power, after winning Russia`s presidential election in
a landslide. He took more than 76 percent of the vote.
Obviously, few doubted that Mr. Putin would win. He faced seven minor candidates and his fiercest opponent, Alexei Navalny, was blocked from the
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, there`s some interesting things that we`re getting out of Moscow from Vladimir Putin as he enters
into his next term in office. On the one hand, he was saying today that he wants to focus, first and foremost, on domestic issues, obviously improving
Russia`s ailing economy. But he also said some interesting things as far as foreign policy is concern. Of course, there`s a lot of people
internationally who expect that there`s going to be more of the same with Russia including that confrontation that he has been has had going on with
western countries and with the U.S. as well.
Today, he met with some of the people who are running against him in this election. And he said, and I quote, "No one is going to launch an arm`s
race and then went on to say that Russia was planning to build constructive relations with all countries. So wait and see whether or not Russia will
actually follow through on that, certainly if you currently look at Russia`s relations with western nations, relations with the U.S. as well,
there`s still there`s a lot of work to be done.
Now, as far as the election itself is concerned, there certainly were some organizations that pointed out some issues with this election. There`s a
Russian organization called Golos, which says it received close to 3,000 reports of possible irregularities in the vote and they`re urging Russia to
look into them. The Russian electoral commission, the state run one has said that some of the issues, it will look into. And then there`s the
OACE, of course the big international organization that said that, by and large, they believe that the election was conducted effectively, but they
also say that there was a distinct lack of competition. Of course, one of the main folks who to run against Vladimir Putin could have possibly given
a run for his money, Alexei Navalny, was not allowed to run because of criminal conviction which he says was Trumped up. And the field of
contenders running against Vladimir Putin, many people say, was not very strong, which no doubt also led to this very big victory for the incumbent
Russian president, Hala.
[16:35:22] GORANI: Thanks, Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.
Amid that deepening battle between Moscow and London, Vladimir Putin blasted the claim that Russia is behind the poisoning of a former spy in
the UK. He called it nonsense.
The foreign secretary in this country, Boris Johnson, hits back at that saying Russia`s denials are becoming increasingly absurd. Johnson was in
Brussels today for meetings at the EU and NATO, separately, experts from the Organizations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the OPCW,
arrived in the UK today. They are going to be taking samples of the nerve agent that was used to attack Skripal and his daughter.
Melissa Bell is in Salisbury, this hour. So, when do we expect any kind of statement or findings from the OPCW as a result of the visit that they`re
paying Salisbury today?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we`re told, Hala, that it`s going to take at least two weeks, because those samples taken by the OPCW
are going to be taken to independent labs chosen by the inspectors themselves in order to ensure that this process is entirely independent and
transparent. And that process of checking them is going to take a couple of weeks. So we really have a bit of a wait on hand and foot for the
results of that investigation, but also for the results of the investigation is being led by the police. Because at the time being,
British authorities have yet to get to the bottom of precisely how the Skripal spend that crucial day of Sunday, March the 4th with the particular
gap in the morning. There`s once again tonight, Hala, appealing for anything that the public might have seen for anyone who might have seen the
car driven by Sergei Skripal to come forward in order to help them fill out that timeline and get a precise idea of the order of event.
There are two cars really at the center of this investigation. The one led by British police, both the one that was driven by Sergei Skripal on that
day and another one that was today covered with blue -- a blue cover we saw placed on ministry vehicles, once again the suburb of Salisbury. So this
extraordinary site of men and women and protective gear. Police officers, ministry personnel, as well, as they tried to isolate this car and examine
it properly. And it is something that Salisbury residents have become all too used to in the last couple of weeks. What they want is to get to the
bottom of precisely what happened. They`ve trolled through they say some 4,000 hours of CCTV footage. They`ve taken some 400 witness statement.
They say that they expect to take many more over the coming days and weeks. But they`re warning already that this is an investigation that could take
not weeks, but months. So we`re waiting for the results of both and the fact that both would like to take some time really leaves not a lot of room
for more ratcheting up that we`ve seen of the course of the last week of the rhetoric both from London and from Moscow. Hala.
GORANI: All right. And certainly I`m sure residents of Salisbury want to answer more than anyone at this stage. Thanks, Melisa.
Let`s return now to one of our top stories. The breakthrough in Brexit negotiations. Well, it`s resulted in a deal. A transition deal. Quentin
Peel is an associate fellow with the Europe Programme at the Chatham House think tank.
So, as I was reading through this agreement, Quentin, I mean, it basically tells us that during the transition, there are certain rules that both will
respect. But it doesn`t really tell us anything more about what Brexit will look like.
QUENTIN PEEL, ASSOCIATE FELLOW, EUROPE PROGRAMME AT CHATHAM HOUSE: Well absolutely not. It amounts to little more than just a standstill that we
will keep obeying the rules or another 21 months after leaving. But we weren`t assessing a table making the rules. So actually, it`s a huge
concession really by the British government to get a deal that will try to reassure business that it`s not going to be a cliff edge next year.
GORANI: And also there was a very foreign issue of the northern island, the Ireland border. And on that, it can come to an agreement.
PEEL: That`s right. And that is a huge problem still that remains. I mean, it looks as if Theresa May has sort of rolled over on this to at
least agree what the Irish government was insisting that was a backstop agreement. That if they can`t reach an agreement that ensures there`s no
border right around the British aisle, then they`ll have to have one way Northern Ireland, based the same rules with Southern Ireland and that is a
(INAUDIBLE) to the conservative party and their allies.
GORANI: I have to say, this is the one thing that has consistently puzzled me. If you want the Brexit, but then the entire country needs the Brexit,
which means that Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK needs to have a border with Ireland which is part of the EU. If you don`t have a border,
you don`t have Brexit, right? I mean, am I not understanding something here?
PEEL: That is the (INAUDIBLE) so they say, we want Brexit, but we don`t want to have a border. And somehow, they`ve got to try and square that
[16:40:14] GORANI: I`m not quite sure how you have a border or you don`t. You don`t have half a border and that ends in the middle and then none
further rest of the way.
PEEL: It is logical way, I can see to do this. It`s actually to say, we will have the same rules to the entire United Kingdom, so we will in fact
stay in great chance of a single market and the customs union which will mean that it isn`t a real Brexit. That actually completely undermines
Theresa May decision
GORANI: All right. And this hopefully we`ll get some sort of more and there`s a big summit on Thursday in Brussels where we have to get more
details. Thanks very much, Quentin Peel. Always a pleasure having you on the program.
Still to come, Facebook is feeling the heat in a big way. It`s announcing a comprehensive audit of the company Cambridge Analytica amid reports that
user`s profiles were harvested for political gain. We talked to one of the journalists who broke the story next.
GORANI: President Trump`s anger of the ongoing Russia investigation seems to be getting worst. The president capped off a weekend of Twitter attacks
against Special Counsel Robert Mueller with this week this morning. The total witch hunt with massive conflicts of interests. Over the weekend,
Mr. Trump went to after many of the key players in the investigation including newly fired deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe and former FBI
director James Comey.
Now, it is the story that we started with at the top of the show and it is expanding. Facebook has just announced they quote, "Comprehensive audit of
Cambridge Analytica, after reports that the firm obtained tens of millions of Facebook user profile and use them to target voters in the 2016 U.S.
CNN tech and business correspondent, Samuel Burke joins us now from Miami. So Facebook is having to respond, having to admit by suspending Cambridge
Analytica that this data was used by a political targeting firm and that this is not something that was shared with Facebook users.
SAMUEL BURKE, CNN TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And, Hala, this comes as Facebook stock is down seven percent today. Mark Zuckerberg along
has lost billions of dollars in stock, at least not in real cash.
But let`s just take a step back from this, because at the heart of all this even before Cambridge Analytica is a Facebook test, Hala, a personality
test, maybe somebody like you has taken it so much of the data originates from there and I think what so alarming and surprising to so many people
that back in 2014 when a professor at the University of Cambridge, not Cambridge Analytica, University of Cambridge was behind this test pushing
out this on a Facebook app.
The policies of Facebook at that time, Hala, allowed that professor to collect information not just about Samuel Burke and Samuel Burke took this
personality test. But also Hala Gorani if Hala Gorani is friends with Samuel Burke, as we are on Facebook. That`s what allowed them to get so
much information and that`s what`s what Facebook and in such an incredibly difficult decision that they certainly don`t want to be in defending once
again their role in the 2016 election.
[16:45:21] GORANI: So what is -- because this is a big crisis for Facebook, because once users lose confidence in an app, in a platform, and
they don`t trust that their information is being protected, it`s very difficult to get that trust back. So they need to do something.
BURKE: it`s very difficult and people are more and more aware of what they`re doing on Facebook, and the fact that it can be used in all sorts of
ways that they wouldn`t have guess back in the 2014. Now since 2014, Facebook already changed those rules so that if Samuel Burke takes that
personality test today, it doesn`t get Hala Gorani`s information. So, ye, they`ve already changed those rules, but the cat is already out of the bag.
So what you`re talking about here is incredibly difficult for them to do. Walk back something that happened years ago.
Now, Facebook keeps on saying this isn`t a data breach. Well, even if it`s not a data breach, even if we agree with them, it`s still out there this
information that came from people. Facebook even says they`re aware of the reports. Seemingly admitting that they know that this information hasn`t
been deleted and it gets back to this whole idea that maybe Facebook doesn`t or didn`t understand the power of their own platform. Hala, of
course, you remember, Mark Zuckerberg, laughing off any type of suggestion that somehow his network played a role with Russia and interfering in the
United States through Facebook, boy then he changed his tune and it sounds like very quickly, Facebook is also changing their tune here again.
GORANI: Yes. We`ll see how they respond to this, because this is a potentially a big problem for them with people wanting to delete the app or
move on to other platforms. We`ll see. Thanks very much, Samuel Burke.
BURKE: And government investigations on both sides of the pond.
GORANI: Absolutely. Samuel Burke, lucky you you`re in Miami. It was literally snowing here yesterday.
Now to Washington, and of the journalists who broke the original story, CNN national security analyst, Matthew Rosenberg is a national security
correspondent at the New York Times, I should say. Thanks for being with us.
Did Facebook -- when did Facebook know that this app was harvesting information from not just the people who downloaded the app and took the
survey, but their friend networks as well.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So I think we need to establish that when this Facebook did this kind of data harvesting, it was
allowed by Facebook. But this app did it under the guides of collecting information for academic research when it was really collecting information
for a firm funded by a conservative billionaire.
Facebook found out about this in December 2015. And they spent the time since trying to quietly ensure the data was deleted. They didn`t inform
any users. In fact, they didn`t publicly announce this stuff until Friday night about less than 24 hours before our story was supposed to publish --
they knew our story was publishing, we`ve been in touch with them for days ahead of that announcement.
GORANI: So they were aware that this data was being used by Cambridge Analytica to target voters in U.S. elections?
ROSENBERG: They were aware of that, yes. And they had, I guess reached the settlement with Cambridge Analytica in 2016 in which Cambridge
Analytica had said they were erasing the data. We have seen the copy of the data and we`ve been told that as recently as, I guess, the week before
last, it was still on Cambridge servers.
GORANI: And now they`re saying conduct an audit, but that`s just seems like a bit late, huh?
ROSENBERG: I mean, we`ll see what the audience says. We also know that that when Facebook found out about this, they did this internal
investigations started in 2015. And one of the things they did was delete the app in all of its data, so we don`t really have any record of what it
GORANI: And Cambridge Analytica itself, I mean, it used -- I just spoke to the original whistleblower Chris Wylie. I know you and your colleagues at
the New York Times and also here in the UK at The Guardian spoke with him as well, and he was basically saying that the investment was like about a
million dollars. But a million dollars in the world of data gathering to get access to 50 million users on Facebook is kind of a good deal.
ROSENBERG: It`s a great deal. I mean, only about 30 million of those proposal turned out to be useful to Cambridge Analytica. They needed --
they need to show like where you were, your hometown, and a few other details. But, yes, no, it was a great deal. And they did it in about two
months. It was very easy for them to do.
GORANI: One of the questions I asked Chris Wylie, which I know very few people would be able to answer if anybody is. How do we measure the impact
that this had on the race, both the midterms in 2014 when they started out, and then ultimately the presidential race in 2016?
[16:50:09] ROSENBERG: Look, it`s really hard to say. This approach what they call psychographic bottling has a lot of detractors. It`s very
unclear how much work Cambridge Analytica actually did for the Trump campaign and whether it was any good. There are plenty of people and the
kind of political data, a polling business will tell you it was worthless. Cambridge Analytica obviously believes it had great impact. And I think
that`s something that is yet to be determined.
GORANI: Right. But then this kind of was all developing and emerging against the backdrop of trolls trying to influence races in America of
sowing chaos of organizing fake protests. I mean, this platform Facebook has been used in many different ways including this one to try to influence
opinion and elections. This is just one more piece of the puzzle.
ROSENBERG: Look, I think this is a real moment for a lot people recognizing that at social media has bought a lot of -- reach a lot of
people`s lives and brought a lot of good to the world in a sense. But it also is a giant surveillance platform and often surveillance platform, but
it is a surveillance platform. And then if you`re looking to get different messages out, if you`re looking to find out more people, well, it`s all
there. It`s very easy to do.
GORANI: Yes. And it`s not a coincidence, obviously, and in your field you report on this alone as well that in autocratic regimes, when you`re
stopped, security services there will very quickly ask you for your Facebook password, because they go in there, they get information on you.
ROSENBERG: Absolutely. If you don`t want something -- the world to know something, you probably shouldn`t put it online.
GORANI: And anywhere online. Matthew Rosenberg, thanks so much, really eye-opening reporting from you and your colleagues and the Guardian as
well. Thanks for joining us on CNN.
Check out our Facebook page, facebook.com/halagoranicnn, all the information we have on there is information we want you to see. We`ll be
GORANI: For this week, our special coverage brings us to India, exploring its diverse culture and traditions. And today, we travel to Rajasthan to
look at the ancient -- got to get this out, ancient art of puppetry. One of the oldest forms of entertainment in the world. Take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They say the history of Kathputli dates back 2,500 years.
I learned this craft from my father. I was born into this. This is our family profession. To make one good puppet, it takes around two or three
days. First, we`ve got the wood, then we give shape to the face and what is left is hand painted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The puppets that you`ve seen this time are different from the puppets that you would see in (INAUDIBLE) so here, even the
clothes that they are made to wear reflect to the kinds of clothes that the women and men wear. And especially Rajput men in the turbans and the
moustache. So they have tried to keep them as close to the Rajput as possible.
[16:55:21] The (INAUDIBLE) community has been practicing the art of puppetry over the years. And this started with the stories of Amar Singh
who was a Rajput ruler who was known for his bravery and these puppeteers would travel from village to village and relay the stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kathputhli is a lifeless puppet. When you make it dance, we are injecting our own life into it. It is important to us
because this is our national art and it`s also our folk art. In the absence of cinema and television in the older days are the sounds used to
perform in the villages and it was both educational and entertaining for kids and everybody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got two pieces of bamboo to make a weasel. There is coordination between the whistle and the puppet. People love it. God had
given us a gift and it brings joy to so many people. Wonderful.
GORANI: Well, thanks for watching on this Monday evening. I`m Hala Gorani. Stay with CNN, a lot more ahead. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is coming