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Suspected Chemical Attack Kills Dozen's, Injures Hundreds In Syria; Russia: Reports Of Syria Chemical Attack Are A "Hoax"; Trump Blames Putin, Obama For Possible Syria Chemical Attack; National Security Council Principals To Meet On Syria, Monday; Trump Denies Report Of John Kelly's Diminished W.H. Influence; Trump Threatens $100B In New Tariffs On China; Facebook's Zuckerberg Faces Congress Twice This Week. Aired 3-4pm ET
Aired April 8, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:02] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Activists say Syrian military helicopters dropped barrel bombs filled with toxic gas, suffocating residents and sending others into convulsions. This comes just one year after other one of the worst chemical attacks in Syria. This time, it happened in one of the last rebel held towns outside of the capital of Damascus.
And we want to warn you, some of the images you're about to see are graphic and they are disturbing. CNN cannot independently verify these videos taken by anti-government activists and doctors. You can see the chaos that hospitals overwhelmed with injured people, many just small children.
President Trump is not just pointing the finger at President Putin, but also Iran and even former President Barack Obama.
Meanwhile, Russia is denying the attack ever happened saying the reports of the chemical attack are a hoax. The United Nations is saying these reports are alarming while lawmakers in Washington are calling on Trump to take action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: It was a defining moment in his presidency because he has challenged Assad in the past not to use chemical weapons. We had a warning done, a missile attack, so Assad is at it again.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Last time this happen the President did a targeted attack to take out some of the facilities that may be an option that we should consider now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen is on the ground in Damascus, Syria. He is the only western television journalist on the ground in that region. So, Fred, we are getting incredibly disturbing video from this suspected attack and we want to, again, warn our viewers of its graphic nature. What can you tell us?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they certainly are very disturbing, Fredricka. And you know, all of this happened only about, let say about eight miles from where I am now in a place called Douma, which is in the suburb of Damascus towards the east of that city. And it certainly has a lot of fight going on there over the past couple of day.
Apparently, all this happened at around 8:20 pm last night when, as you mentioned, helicopters of the Syrian military were hovering over that place and then apparently dropped some canisters. And after those canisters were dropped, the organizations of the opposition are saying that apparently then people started getting these respiratory problems and some people started dying as well.
Now, it's almost impossible right now for us to see what exactly the death toll is. It seems to be somewhere in the 40s. But, again, the situation is still very fluid. As we have those pictures, which as you noted, that they really are very graphic and very disturbing to see. It's something that we always have to remind our viewers of again, but they also (INAUDIBLE) show that ensued after all of that took place.
Now, the Syrian government as well as the Russians are denying being involved any of this. They say that first of all they didn't do it. They also said they had no reason to do it because that area was encircled, anyway. They say they were making gains on the battlefield and that they had no reason to use chemical weapons to try and speed anything up there. They also said that the rebels actually had some prisoners of war of the Syrian government side. They said they certainly wouldn't have wanted to harm those.
As you can see, you have all sides trading barbs about this making accusation. And once again like so many times that we've reported, Fredricka, civilians bearing the brunt of what's been going on here in Syria, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Frederik Pleitgen, thank you so much in Damascus.
All right, we have CNN White House Correspondent Abby Phillip, also with us CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson live for us from Moscow with action.
So first, let's go to the White House. Abby, what is the President saying?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. The President sharply criticizing Vladimir Putin, Russia, Iran, and Assad, giving Assad a new nickname, calling him an animal. And also importantly here, the President issuing a new warning that there could be a big price to pay for Assad's latest alleged provocation in Syria, using chemical weapons against the citizenry. In a series of tweets this morning, President Trump issued this warning and also criticized his predecessor, Barack Obama. He said -- he called on Assad to open the area immediately for medical help and verification. But then he said that, "If President Obama had crossed the stated red line in the sand, the Syrian disaster would have ended long ago. Animal Assad would have been history." All of this comes at a time when President Trump had just said that he wanted to pull U.S. troops out of Syria.
And then his national security team convened with him, briefed him, and they came up with a new approach to Syria that said that they would eventually look at a path to reducing the U.S. involvement there in response to the President's comments. But now with this new latest attack, the attention is back on President Trump with critics saying that there is no way that the United States can pull back at this moment.
[15:05:13] Not only that, criticizing President Obama for, you know, issuing a red line and then allowing Assad to cross it is essentially where President Trump is now. Just a year ago, he authorized air strikes in Syria, and today he faces a prospect that Assad has defied him and the international community yet again by using chemical weapons in this way.
President Trump's 2013 warnings against Obama going into Syria have popped up again because the President is now in almost exactly the same position. Back in 2013, here's what he said. "Again, to our very foolish leader, do not attack Syria. If you do, many very bad things will happen and from that fight the U.S. gets nothing." So this is a tough spot the White House is in.
There is no word yet on where President Trump is going to go. We know that he wants to pull out, but obviously folks in the intelligence community and at the Defense Department think, particularly now that Assad has shown he's willing to use chemical weapons over and over again, now is not the time for him to do that or to signal to Assad that the United States does not have a commitment to that region, does not have a commitment to leading this coalition, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Abby Phillip at the White House, thank you so much. So in a rare jab, President Trump is calling out Putin by name, putting some blame on Russia for that alleged attack.
CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson joins us live now from Moscow. So what is the reaction there?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure, Fredericka. Well, nothing yet from President Putin about this rare jab from President Trump as you say, but plenty from the foreign ministry here pushing back very hard, calling the allegations of the chemical attack in Douma in Syria, calling it a hoax. Likening the NGO, the White Helmets there, those relief workers who go, medical relief workers that go out on the ground in those dangerous situations in Syria to try to help the injured civilians there, saying that these White Helmets are essentially terrorists. But the foreign ministry goes on very clearly here and very strongly, and it seems to be positioning this particular statement towards what President Trump has been saying and I'll read it for you here. It's very strongly worded. It says, "We have warned of such dangerous provocations many times before. The purpose of these false conjectures, which are without basis, is to shield the terrorists and the irreconcilable radical opposition, which reject a political settlement while trying to justify possible military strikes from outside." That seems to be a clear reference to President Trump saying that there will be a price to pay.
And we've also heard from the head of the international -- head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament here saying all of this about the chemical strikes in -- allegations about a chemical strike in Syria, he says, reminds him of what's been said about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy in Salisbury in England over the past month or so. He said it's all made to look like it was Russia, blame Russia.
So what we're hearing from this side here in Russia so far is a very heavy pushback and it sounds like a hint of concern, but they're worried about what President Trump might do. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right. Nic Robertson in Moscow, thank you so much.
Let's talk more about this now with Aaron David Miller. He is a CNN Global Affairs Analyst and a former State Department adviser to several secretaries of state. Aaron, good to see you.
So, Russia is maintaining this appears to be a hoax. You've got the President of the United States who is calling out Putin by name. What is this setting the stage for?
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, I think its tempting Mr. Trump to want to respond in a tougher manner. The Russians have threatened grave consequences at a time when we're at least on a roll in terms of adopting tougher sanctions against the Russians for wanton interference in our election system. The President may well believe that a response is required.
I mean, let's not forget, in April of 2017, driven largely, I think, by his desire to be the un-Obama and to enforce a red line and presumably reportedly by pictures of the effects of sarin gas on civilians, Mr. Trump took 60 plus hours to respond with a one-off proportionate strike against the Syrian airfield.
This time around it's tougher because obviously that strike did very little to deter or preempt Mr. Assad's use of these weapons and Russian act (ph) essence and their use. Now you have a situation in which Syrian helicopters, 12 miles from Damascus, presumably dropped maybe chlorine gas, maybe some other chemical agent, and Mr. Trump now is in a position now, I think, of trying to figure out a tougher response.
[15:10:05] Security council is block because the Russians will veto anything, so the idea, prospects of a military strike, I think, are quite real.
WHITFIELD: Well, it's interesting because the President did win points and he won a lot of praise for that strike a year ago. And now today after this strike, Senator Lindsey Graham is among those racing concerns over the President's expressed plan to pull U.S. troops out of Syria just a few days ago. This was Lindsey today, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Complete utter disaster to leave before the fight is done. Have we learned nothing when what happens when you leave too soon? We pulled our troops out of Iraq. Isis came back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So what do you suppose the President is weighing now, the issue of what he said out loud putting -- pulling out troops at same time, you know, this vacuum that would be created that Lindsey Graham made the parallels to Iraq. I mean, how does this President plan based on what is unfolding?
MILLER: We've seen this on several other issues, both on Jerusalem, on tariffs, and any number issues withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement that President manifests during campaign and afterwards a strong opposition to these policies. His advisers persuade him, in his own mind, grudgingly not to act. But eventually in the case Jerusalem pulling out of TPP and maybe the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear agreement on May 12, he eventually acts.
This time, I suspect, if there is a compelling argument to be use, it will be, do not withdraw from Syria. ISIS has not yet defeated, and you can't afford, this is a political piece of advice, to put yourself in the same position as your predecessor who, in Mr. Trump's mind, did not enforce the red line and withdrew prematurely from Iraq allowing for the rise of ISIS. This is the narrative, I think, that Mr. Trump's political advisers are going to use.
But right now, Fred, he really is in a conundrum. He says he wants to withdraw. You now have the use of these weapons against civilians, horrific pictures. Putin is now calling his bluff by threatening grave consequences if he doesn't respond, and you heard Lindsey Graham and John McCain who both argued that we have to respond, and I think under these circumstances we need to.
WHITFIELD: Yes. The timing is interesting. And then we just learned that the National Security Council Principals are meeting tomorrow on Syria, and the meeting will be led by newly appointed National Security Adviser John Bolton and will likely go over the options this President has.
What do you suppose some of those options might be? Will this be a potentially strategic and pivotal listening session for the President to take the advice of these advisers as opposed to what we have seen, taking the lead?
MILLER: Well, remember, we have a new foreign policy team in the process of formation. Gone Rex Tillerson, gone H.R. McMaster, and arriving Mr. Bolton whose instincts are very tough, particularly on Iran, and the Iranian role in Syria. And Mike Pompeo has not yet confirmed, but I think whose instincts are also going to be tough.
Look, whatever Mr. Trump eventually does, let's be clear about something, effective president have to know what they don't know and it have to be in a hurry to find out. And whatever --
WHITFIELD: And defer to those who know.
MILLER: Well, presumably, and we can't forget Jim Mattis who is going to offer, I think, very sound and sober advice. There is going to be not to essentially paralyze the administration, but you got to think these things through and thinking -- without thinking before acting gets the United States in the heaps of trouble if it's not careful.
WHITFIELD: Tomorrow is John Bolton's first day. Is this an opportunity for him as national security adviser to set the tone, you know, essentially establish there is a new sheriff in town, so to speak, you know? Or is it likely that his appointment is an acknowledgment that he wants to please the President and do what the President has brought him on to do?
MILLER: You know, knowing John Bolton, I'm not sure I would ever look at him in a position of wanting to please anyone. But, he has his own views that are extremely strong. He's an in depth bureaucratic maneuver, knows how to play the system.
But look, as we know, watching Mr. Trump for a year-plus now, his advisers have one constituency and one constituency only. And the fact is if Mr. Bolton wants to be successful, he's going to have to strike that fine balance between hopefully giving the President honest and sober advice on one hand and creating some sort of functional, productive relationship with Mr. Trump on the other.
If he doesn't do that, he's going to end up like Mr. Tillerson, presumably, with a closed for the season sign on his record. And that would be a shame, because presidents at least need to listen and to hear the arguments of those with sufficient experience, at least to think through the consequences of their actions.
[15:15:10] WHITFIELD: But would that mean that this is a turning point, that would be a new President Trump based on pattern?
MILLER: It would and that's going to be a reset. I think I'm learning that the hard way.
WHITFIELD: All right. Aaron David Miller, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump is vigorously pushing back on reports that his chief of staff could soon be out the door. Coming up, new details about John Kelly's standing and influence with the President and why he might ultimately decide to walk away from that post.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We're following new developments out of Syria and the aftermath of a reported chemical attack that left dozens dead.
[15:20:03] We just learned that National Security Council Principals are meeting tomorrow on Syria. The meeting will be led by newly appointed National Security Adviser John Bolton and will likely tackle what options the President has meeting at the White House.
And we're also learning that the United Nations Security Council will also meet tomorrow in an emergency session. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley released a statement saying this, "Yet, again, there are reports of what appears to be a chemical weapons attack in Syria. Unfortunately, chemical weapons used to injure and kill -- use to injure and kill innocent Syrian civilians has become an all too common occurrence. The Security Council has come together and demand immediate access for first responders, support an independent investigation into what happened, and hold accountable those responsible for this atrocious act." And of course, we'll continue to follow these breaking news developments.
Meantime, new reporting suggesting that President Trump's White House chief of staff recently threatened to quit. The "Washington Post" quoted John Kelly as saying, "I'm out of here," in a fit of anger last month. A few aides saw those words as a threat to resign. Another said Kelly was just venting his frustration. It's the latest sign of tension between the two men.
CNN has previously reported on Kelly airing his frustrations and threatening to quit as he sees his influence in the west-wing diminishing. Well, this morning, Trump bashed the "Washington Post" in a tweet, calling it just another hit job. Close aides say Kelly isn't going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KUDLOW, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: John Kelly has been great to me. He is in charge. He's operating a much improved process, and every time the President and I talk and that subject comes up, the President has nothing but good things to say about General Kelly. That's what I'll say. I don't personally think this is a real story that President Trump about it -- the President, sorry, the president tweeted about it --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're using Trump as a synonym for tweet now.
KUDLOW: Indeed. Trump tweeted on it and didn't sound like he is pushing Kelly out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, joining right now is one of the journalists behind the "Washington Post" story, CNN Political Analyst and White House Reporter for the "Washington Post" Josh Dawsey.
All right, so Josh, no surprised. You're not getting, you know, great reviews coming from the White House there on your reporting. But talk to me about how you're able to obtain this kind of information, the sourcing, of course, without revealing a lot of your sources, but why do you stand behind this reporting?
JOSH DAWSEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Of course we do. We worked on this for several weeks. We had 16 interviews with various senior officials in the White House, people close to the President inside and outside the White House. We reviewed our reporting extensively with the White House before publication.
We asked for comment from the General Kelly and the President, neither of them wanted to comment. And none of me nor my colleagues today have gotten any complaints from the White House asking for correction or clarification or anything wrong other than the President's tweet. So it seems to me the President obviously has the right to make his opinion on Twitter and express it, but we stand by our reporting 100 percent.
WHITFIELD: All right. So, Josh, when General Kelly arrived to the White House, was that eight months ago or so, you know, many said that he was the one to bring some order back into the west-wing. Has that order been brought, and is that what his expectation was?
DAWSEY: Maybe to some degree. He certainly cut down on the size of meetings, close the door to the Oval Office, put new rules in that kind of ban people from walking into the Oval Office talking on their cell phones, has instill some policy time for the President so he's looking more deeply at issues. And really, has kind of kept some of the erroneous materials that were getting to the President, articles from what's unreputable sites that would influence his decisions from his desk.
But the President has become chafing at that after a couple of months. Number of Trump allies said to me when John Kelly was in (INAUDIBLE) they said this will not last long. The President has lived his life away after 71 years and he will not want to be managed by John Kelly. And we have seen that increasingly happen. The President (INAUDIBLE) it in on major hiring decisions.
He's often not on phone calls anymore. He's spending less time in the Oval Office. And President really do get his way making policy pronouncements like sending national guard troops on the fly, tweeting major announcements and kind of going it alone like he's going to do for his campaign. His successful campaign, I might add.
WHITFIELD: So then, Josh, your reporting with the "Washington Post" together with some CNN reporting that there have been, you know, heated discussions, if not debates or arguments between, you know, John Kelly and even the President. Are those indicators that the chief of staff has influenced or that there is diminishing influence because of that friction?
DAWSEY: Well, it depends what you asked. Some officials in the west- wing say that those heated fights, screaming and squaring at times, show that the chief of staff is willing to give his opinion to the President, he's going to stand up, he's willing to give good advice.
[15:25:12] Others say that the President is not listening to him and that shows his diminished influence increasingly so. What we do know is there has been a ramped-up number of fights between the chief of staff and the President, including as recently as almost, you know, 11 days ago, 12 days ago now, where John Kelly left colleagues thinking he may be leaving, he may be quitting. So, it's a tense relationship.
But a point of that was always to be expected to some degree. You have a president who is a mercurial businessman who says he's proud but he goes on his impulses, his gut. You have a chief of staff who, you know, as a military man believes in rigor and discipline and want things run through a chain of command and order. And those two personalities were always going to clash to some degree.
WHTFIELD: And so, Josh, is this gossip or is this meaningful?
DAWSEY: Well, I would argue that the relationship between the President of the United States and the chief of staff, of course it's meaningful. It's how he runs the country, it's how policy is made, it's how the west-wing operates. I think there is no more meaningful relationship probably in American politics than the President and his chief of staff.
WHITFIELD: Josh Dawsey, of the "Washington Post," CNN Analyst as well, thanks so much.
DAWSEY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Trump threatens more tariffs on China and the market is taken nose dive. Coming up, are the U.S. and China on the verge of a trade war? And what would that mean for the American economy?
[15:31:09] WHITFIELD: The financial markets are bracing for what could be another turbulent day tomorrow. President Trump's threat to slap additional $100 billion in tariffs against China since the stock market is plummeting on Friday and raise fears the tariffs could ignite a trade war.
Today on CNN "State of the Union," Larry Kudlow, the President's new economic adviser and a vocal critic of the President's tariff plan before entering the White House came to the President's defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KUDLOW: Look, we have had to go in and fire a shot across the bow. China's behavior, it's 20 years now, it's more than unfair trade practices. It's illegal trading practices because they're stealing our intellectual property rights on electoral progress. China has been getting away with this for decades. Past American presidents refuse to take them on. I think President Trump is doing exactly the right thing and I think it's going to generate very positive results, which will grow our American economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Tom Steyer is a billionaire Democratic donor and has launched a multimillion dollar ad campaign calling for the impeachment of President Trump. So the President believes these new tariffs will help the American economy, and you heard from Kudlow, he believes it, too. Do you agree?
TOM STEYER, BILLIONAIRE DEMOCRATIC DONOR: Well, Fred, I don't agree and the U.S. stock market doesn't agree, and there are no economists who agree. The fact of the matter is this is an ill-considered, reckless and dangerous move that the President has made, and of course we're nearly days of a trade war.
WHITFIELD: Well, how about give it time?
STEYER: Well, the fact of the matter is, what we've seen in wars before is that the worst wars in history have started with the people in charge assuming that they would be short, that they would be easily won and, in fact, they would result in great outcomes. That's what we've heard from this president, but it's never happened in the past and it won't happen this time, either.
WHITFIELD: So Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin had this to say this morning about the impact of these tariffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Let me just put this in perspective. It's only 135 billion of goods in a $20 trillion economy. And if we can open up their $10 trillion economy for us to compute fairly, this is one of the single biggest opportunities long term for U.S. companies. So whatever happens in trade, I don't expect it to have a meaningful impact on our economy. And the President said, sectors like agriculture, he's prepared to defend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: OK. So, again, the tariffs have not taken place yet. He's speaking in terms of hypothetical, so do you buy his argument that these tariffs could force China to ultimately buy more U.S. products in the future and, thereby, stimulate the American economy?
STEYER: If you listen to what the Chinese are saying, they are saying that they are prepared to react strongly as possible and to defend their economy. That does not sound like people who are going to give in to Mr. Trump's threats. So the fact to the matter is what we see is us going after another country very aggressively and that country kind of getting up on their high horse and feeling threatened and pushing that cart.
So the fact to the matter is when we hear about it's only a small part of the economy, you don't have to worry about it, it will certainly work, the fact of the matter is that's what people always say when they start an aggression on the assumption that the other side will see it from their point of view and back down. And we're not seeing that at all.
WHITFIELD: And the President is threatening to potentially up the ante and his trade adviser was also pushing for these tariffs today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER: We want fair and reciprocal trade. We want him to stop stealing our stuff. We want him to guard intellectual property, not take it from us.
[15:35:05] And, look, in your monologue at the beginning of this, you played a clip from the President. He said, "We'd already lost the trade war." Well, Bush and Obama, over the course of 16 years, basically stood by while we lost over 70,000 factories, millions of manufacturing jobs and much of our traditional manufacturing base.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, guarding intellectual property. Does he have a point that previous administrations didn't take a stronger stance against China to protect intellectual property of the U.S.?
STEYER: Actually, he does have a point about intellectual property that I agree with that, in fact, there is cheating on the other side. What I'm saying is that this is not a smart way to go about it, Fred. The fact of the matter is, what we're seeing is we're putting tariffs on steel and aluminum to get back at people for taking intellectual property in technology. We are not going after the problem directly. We're escalating a war to try and get them to back down, something that seems to maybe very, very --
WHITFIELD: What would be, perhaps, the better to, you know, carry a punishing blow?
STEYER: The fact of the matter is they do steal intellectual property directly, and they don't open up their markets, but we should be dealing with that directly and specifically where we're in the right. The fact of the matter is, what we're doing is punishing the overall Chinese economy to get back for specific instances that we should be dealing with directly.
It is very hard to give this president credibility on this when he fights so hard for us not to move forward in clean energy and build jobs there. This is something where I believe he has an incoherent and very ill-thought-out economic policy from start to finish. And this is a perfect example where he is seeing an actual problem and responding in a very reckless and dangerous way and one that will not address the problem directly.
WHITFIELD: Yes. You agree with the problem, just not the solution. All right, Tom Steyer, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
STEYER: Thanks for having me.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[15:42:29] WHITFIELD: This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face an onslaught of questions from two congressional panels about how his company handles its users' data. Facebook has been under fire since the revelation that the data firm, Cambridge Analytica, was able to access information on tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. And according to a whistleblower from that data firm, that number maybe higher than initially thought and the data may be stored in Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WYLIE, CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA WHISTLEBLOWER: I think that there is, you know, a genuine risk that this data has been accessed by quite a few people and that it could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia, given the fact that, you know, the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the U.K. and to Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right, CNN Senior Tech Correspondent Laurie Segall joins me now. So, Laurie, what should we expect to learn from Zuckerberg this week?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think we're going to hear him answering a lot of hard questions. This is a massive moment for the company. I've been to Facebook many times. They used to have signs up, Fred, that they move fast in great things.
I think the understanding is that over the last year, things have been broken. You've seen Russian influence. We're all wondering about what's happening to our data and our privacy. You know, you saw that number go up from 50 million impacted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal to Mark Zuckerberg saying that could be as high as 90 million. So I think there's going to be a lot of impatient and a lot of hard questions and people asking, can we even trust the platform?
I actually sat down with Mark a couple weeks ago and I asked him the question, the fundamental question of, can users trust Facebook with their data? Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG: This was a major breach of trust and I'm really sorry that this happened. You know, we have a basic responsibility to protect people's data. And if we can't do that, then we don't deserve to have the opportunity to serve people. So our responsibility now is to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: You know, for so long we didn't hear from Mark Zuckerberg. Even in the last year we didn't hear from Sheryl Sandberg as much outward taking tough questions from journalists. So it's going to be interesting to watch the stage set in this very public setting, for him to answer to a lot of these questions about the fundamental impact of the service.
Is the business model, the user data in capitalizing on it, is that fundamentally broke? And I think that is something a lot of lawmakers are going to ask him. I think, you know, this idea of, does Facebook have control over this incredibly large platform that impacts 2 billion people and can now shape democracy in mental health, you know, I think we're going to hear things from that.
[15:45:09] You know, I've been talking to sources behind the scene. You know, Zuckerberg is prepping for this obviously as much as you can possibly imagine. And, you know, this is a big moment for Mark as a leader to have to step forward and show that, you know, you can't just be behind the scenes in moving fast and breaking things. You have to answer to the power of your platform, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, this will be a big week indeed. Laurie Segall, thanks for walking us through it. And I know you'll be guiding us throughout the week as well. Appreciate it.
SEGALL: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.
[15:50:08] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome. Tonight on an all new episode of the CNN Original Series, "American Dynasties: The Kennedys," we get an inside look at the pivotal world Jacqueline Kennedy played in crafting her husband's legacy after his assassination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): One week after Jack's death, Jackie begins to shape her late husband's legacy.
LAURENCE LEAMEN, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: Jackie invites Theodore White, a prominent journalist to do a piece for "LIFE" magazine. She tells him that those thousand days were Camelot.
EVAN THOMAS, KENNEDY BIOGRAPHER: She spins this tale about the -- or theory in legend of this place that was known as Camelot that she believed was perfectly suited to representing the Kennedy administration. The Kennedys were human like the rest of us, but Jackie wanted the family to be seen as epic and royal and heroic. That's what Camelot did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Two weeks later, the article is published.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jackie oversaw every word of it. She thoroughly edited it, she annotated it and Camelot continues to be the defining word for the Kennedy presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining us now is Barbara Perry. She is the Presidential Studies Director of the University of Virginia's Miller Center. Barbara, good to see you. This series has been extraordinary.
So when focusing on Jackie Kennedy, because -- I mean, she is an enigma to an extent, you know. How much did the image that Jackie Kennedy wanted to attach to her husband's legacy actually match reality?
BARBARA PERRY, PRESIDENTIAL STUDIES DIRECTOR, UVA: Oh, it matched in a host of ways, Fredericka, and good to be with you, again. For example, the lyric that Jackie said to Theodore White when he came up to Hyannis at her request and ended up in "LIFE" magazine, it's from the Lerner and Loewe play, Camelot, from the musical that she said her husband love so much.
And the line is, "Don't let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment known as Camelot." And we think of now that shining moment from the NCAA tournament, but it actually goes back to that musical.
And that was the truth of the Camelot legend around the Kennedys is that they were shining, they were effervescent and the presidency was indeed brief. And so that part was absolutely true and accurate.
WHITFIELD: What else did Jackie do, you know, both publicly and privately to shape, you know, how JFK's time in the White House would be remembered?
PERRY: Oh, she did so many things, first of all, the funeral itself to the murdered president following the Lincoln funeral from 1865 when he was assassinated. So she made sure that everything that was in that funeral could be in President Kennedy's funeral and people remember that to this day from television.
The gravesite, I just happened to visit it last Easter Sunday, a beautiful quiet peaceful setting overlooking Washington, which she and her husband conquered in 1961 when they came to the White House. And then in a very lasting way as well --
WHITFIELD: -- like picked that space, didn't she? I mean she walked those grounds.
PERRY: She absolutely did. She walked those grounds. It's just down from the Custis-Lee Mansion. She even said that one of the first landmarks her little daughter Caroline knew in Washington was the Custis-Lee Mansion in Arlington cemetery. And so to this day you can see the eternal flame as you cross the Potomac River. So she knew that.
She knew the Kennedy Library in honor of her husband that now is out on the point of land in Boston Harbor overlooking Boston with the president's sailboat in its front lawn area. She knew that that would be the last seen legacy.
And then as an ongoing legacy, a living legacy, she helped to found the John F. Kennedy Institute for Politics at Harvard University to train people, train young people, train educators, to train those who are undergraduates and journalists about politics as she thought her husband would have wanted.
WHITFIELD: And so while Jackie was working to protect, you know, Jack's legacy, his brother, Bobby, was also facing pressure to kind of maintain the family's political prominence. So tell us about Bobby Kennedy's decision to run for president in 1968 and how that story's being told.
PERRY: Yes. This was a difficult decision for him. First of all, he was utterly devastated by his brother, Jack's assassination and the horror of it. It took him many months to come out of that grief. But then yet what did he so, he ran for the Senate from New York and was elected in 1964, left the Johnson cabinet as Attorney General and became a senator and then worked with his brother, Ted. So the two brothers, the two now, surviving brothers of Jack Kennedy, picked up the fall in standard and carried it in to the 1960s creating all sorts of legislation.
[15:55:02] But by 1966 and '67, Bobby began to turn against the war in Vietnam and decided to enter the race in March of '68 as not only a peace candidate, but a candidate who stood for helping the poor, the urban poor and the rural poor of this country, and minorities particularly.
WHITFIELD: It's an incredible history. Barbara Perry, thanks so much for bringing it to us in this thumbnail sketch. And, of course, folks, you don't want to miss the all new episode of "American Dynasties: The Kennedys," tonight at 9:00 only on CNN. And we have so much more straight ahead in the "Newsroom" right after this.
WHITFIELD: All right, hello again, everyone and thanks so much for being with me this Sunday.