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Facebook Under Fire; Interview with ISIS Fighter Dubbed "The Beatles"; Bill Cosby Trial; Syria's Civil War; FBI Cohen Raid. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour: Donald Trump promises a forceful response to the chemical attack inside Syria. But he's giving few hints about what exactly that means.
Plus the FBI has raided the office of Donald Trump's personal lawyer. The U.S. president calls it disgraceful and an attack on the country.
Mark Zuckerberg in Washington ready to tell U.S. lawmakers he's sorry for not better protecting the data of millions of Facebook users.
Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.
SESAY: U.S. President Donald Trump says he will decide how to respond to the suspected chemical attack in Syria in the next 24-48 hours. And he says nothing is off the table, including military action.
At a meeting with military leaders at the White House Monday, Mr. Trump called the alleged an atrocity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus. And it will be met and it will be met forcefully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Both the Syrian regime and Russia have denied any involvement in the alleged attack. And Moscow further insists its experts have found no trace of any chemical weapons using in Douma, Syria.
But tensions are rising between Russia and the U.S. as CNN's Barbara Starr reports.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TRUMP: Heinous attack on --
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the White House, military options urgently are under review for airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for its suspected chemical attacks on civilians.
The president leaving no doubt he believes Assad is responsible to me.
TRUMP: To me there's not much of a doubt but the generals will figure it out probably over the next 24 hours.
STARR (voice-over): But also raising the prospect the Pentagon will hold Vladimir Putin accountable.
TRUMP: He may, yes, he may. And if he does it's going to be very tough, very tough.
Everybody is going to pay a price. He will. Everybody will.
STARR (voice-over): Defense Secretary James Mattis earlier at the Pentagon.
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The first thing we have to look at is why are chemical weapons still being used at all when Russia was the framework guarantor of removing all the chemical weapons.
STARR (voice-over): Administration officials believe video show men, women and children suffering from the effects of both chlorine and a potential nerve agent. The U.S. now is combing through intelligence data, radar and aircraft tracks in Syrian and Russian communications for specific evidence.
Raising the question if it's now time to go after the Assad regime directly.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think what you're going to see is a non-proportional response and that could be against targets other than the military equipment. It could be things like intelligence headquarters, command-and-control headquarters, possibly even major targets within the capital of Damascus.
STARR (voice-over): Whichever sites might be struck, the U.S. military will first have to determine the specific location of military targets related to chemical weapons, an assessment of Russian and Syrian air defenses that could shoot down incoming U.S. aircraft or cruise missiles and whether to warn the Russians, now deeply involved across Syria, to get their own troops out of the way.
But for the U.S. to bomb chemical weapon sites directly may be unlikely.
HERTLING: When you hit a weapons depot that has chemical weapons there, it could certainly spread that chemical to other places in and around the area. STARR (voice-over): The administration still making the diplomatic case at the U.N. and talking to allies.
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: History will record this as the moment when the Security Council either discharged its duty or demonstrated its utter and complete failure to protect the people of Syria.
Either way, the United States will respond.
STARR: One of the key questions now is just how complicit was Moscow in this attack -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
SESAY: Joining us now, CNN U.S. security analyst and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon and former U.S. Marine captain Michael Krause.
Welcome to you both once again.
Michael, you saw in Barbara's report that menu of options that the Pentagon could present to the president.
Is there a --
SESAY: -- most effective, is there a first choice option in that?
MICHAEL KRAUSE, USMC (RET.): I think the first choice would be something very similar to what we saw last year, a Tomahawk cruise missile attack from ships at the airbase because apparently these were dropped by helicopters this particular chlorine gas attack.
However, Trump has kind of ratcheted up the rhetoric this time with, "we're going to forcefully punish" multiple actors. He was even calling out Putin in Russia. Maybe they knew somewhere along in the chain of command that this was actually going to take place.
If I'm Trump this time, not only do you attack the airbase where it came from but you actually try to attack command and control facilities. As the report said, you don't want to weapons depots themselves because you could release the gas into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Most likely Assad has probably moved some of those chemical weapons -- he wasn't supposed to even have at this point -- but he's probably moved them into neighborhoods so that he basically has civilian shields.
But I would definitely agree with the president in terms of there needs to be something more forceful than what we had last year because it obviously didn't work.
SESAY: Gayle, to the point about doing something more forceful, to what end?
Because they launched the dozens of Tomahawk missiles last year. Sure it was a great spectacle and Syrian civilians felt good for a minute that they had outside world's attention and support.
But what did it achieve?
What did it change.
GAYLE TZEMACH-LEMMON, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: I wrote a piece right after that; it's almost exactly a year ago with folks from the Obama administration saying it's about time right. So I think there were a lot of people who had said for years that there is a cost of inaction, of America not acting in the Syrian civil war.
And that cost is impunity and this is the natural consequence, is what we're seeing. The horrors, genuinely, Isha, you and I talked about this for years, adjectives no longer work when you talk about the hell that moms and dads have experienced in this war.
So I think what you see the United States and not just the United States, the United Kingdom and France, all of them, together trying to figure out is how do you send a message that says you must put these chemical weapons away?
We will not tolerate chemical attack. But we don't really want to go so far as regime change. And it's finding that Goldilocks somewhere in the middle that they're all going to be trying to manage.
SESAY: Well, you know who's on a different page, that would be Russia. Russia's ambassador to the United Nations took a very different line and tone to the mass condemnation of what happened in Douma over the weekend. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VASILY NEBENZYA, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N. (through translator): They merely don't wish to hear this. We already told you, there was no witnesses to the use of chemical weapons at all. There are no traces of chemical weapons, neither the victims, neither killed nor the wounded. Nobody turned up in the hospitals. The footage that was shown was clearly staged, which was provided by the White Helmets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Michael, you hear that and you think, what?
And who is that for?
That statement, is it for domestic Russian consumption?
Who is that -- ?
KRAUSE: One hundred percent. This is the same Russia that just tried to assassinate a former spy on British soil. And they said that they are not responsible for that, either. And as we said in the first segment that we did earlier tonight, we're right now in the middle of Cold War 2.0 with the Russians, whether they're meddling in our elections or they're taking over territory from Ukraine or they're trying to prop up one of their proxies here in Syria.
And the Russians are always going to deny any involvement. They're always going to support their ally because the Russians want to have access to the Mediterranean. They want to have an ally in the Middle East.
SESAY: Gayle, I want you to listen to what Nikki Haley had to say in the Security Council, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Russia's obstructionism will not continue to hold us hostage when we are confronted with an attack like this one. The United States is determined to see the monster who dropped chemical weapons on the Syrian people held to account.
You have heard what the President of the United States is said about this. Meetings are ongoing . Important decisions are being weighted even as we .speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Gayle, what is in doubt is what a strike would achieve but what I think is a fairly safe statement to make is it would be an escalation. And if it escalates, it escalates to what?
LEMMON: This is the thing, Ambassador Haley has very strong words for months. In fact, we did a piece for CNN back in November about how the investigative mechanism that would've investigated this chemical attack didn't get renewed because Russia blocked it.
LEMMON: And Ambassador Haley at the time said this is a mistake. The president tweeted about it right. And so what you have seen is basically town after town, starvation, siege, then basically depopulate --
LEMMON: -- repeat. And no one has stopped the cycle. So you almost can't blame either the regime or the Russians or their Iranian backers for thinking that there's nothing that they couldn't get away with because Russia has reshaped facts on the ground with the Aleppo air campaign two years ago.
And they are shaping our own narrative on the airwaves.
SESAY: Well, Senator John McCain goes so far as to say comments made by President Trump in recent days, where he loudly, forcefully said he wanted to see U.S. troops withdrawn from Syria, McCain argued that had a hand, by his reasoning, in shaping what happened in Douma over the weekend.
Let me read you some of McCain's statement.
He said, "President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria. Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him. And emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women and children, this time in Douma."
Michael, is John McCain right?
Is there a connection between the president's words in the last couple of days and what happened at the weekend in Douma?
KRAUSE: I think Assad and Russia are testing the presidency, yes. There's some validity to what McCain said.
The question for us now is what kind of superpower do we want to be.
Do we want to live in a world where we can allow this kind of thing to take place?
And as Gayle was saying, we haven't intervened to the point where we've been able to end the bloodshed. There's been 500,000 people killed since -- since 2011; 5 million to 6 million people displaced. Yes, there is always the chance that you could escalate into a shooting war with the Russians. But one thing that the Iranians and the Russians understand is force.
If you stand up to him, pretty sure that Putin's going to backed down. Militarily he cannot go toe to toe with the United States even in a localized proxy war like this.
SESAY: I should point out the White House said John McCain's statement was outrageous.
But Gayle, what happens to the 2,000 U.S. troops that are in Syria right now, should the president launch some massive attack?
LEMMON: And all along we have talked about the ISIS fight is very separate from the civil war but what is true is that the ISIS fight was really a symptom of this civil war, it wasn't the root cause.
And so while the U.S. has really tried to localize the ISIS fight, because truly the Obama administration felt it was elected to end wars in the Middle East, not begin them, the question is can you keep those fights separate?
In fact I was talking to folks who are serving -- I was actually there in February. And what you see is actually there are real gains on the ground in Northern Syria, where the Syrian Democratic Forces, the U.S.-backed has gone.
I met a mom who I met who had just given birth in a camp, who had come out of Raqqa this summer. And I met her again this February. She's supporting her family, her children are in school and she said to me, we can stand up on our own two feet but we need the world to help us.
So you have going on in one pocket of Syria where the U.S. really does have gains that it can point in these post-9/11 wars. And then you have this situation, where there is civil war that shows no end in sight, everybody talking about Geneva and trying to get to some kind of peace deal. When really Russia, the regime and Iran are basically trying reshape facts on the ground before we can ever get to a --
SESAY: And just to be clear, no matter what the president does, it's not about ousting Assad, am I right?
This is just about punishing him for what happened in Douma, am I correct?
KRAUSE: It's -- if you do what we did last year, you're punishing Assad. If you ratchet it up and you go after more military infrastructure, command and control assets and things like that, then you are going after Assad in terms of regime change.
SESAY: Gayle says it's the "what then" question.
LEMMON: That's right. That is the question that has plagued the entire idea of international intervention in the Syrian civil war and (INAUDIBLE).
SESAY: It's a terrible situation that we've been talking about for years. Michael Krause, Gayle Tzemach-Lemmon, thank you. Appreciate the analysis. Thank you.
We're going to take a quick break here. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., an FBI raid hits close to the U.S. president. We'll look at his furious response and what could come next.
And still to come, Bill Cosby heads back to court in the coming hours. A look at what's ahead in day two of his retrial in aggravated indecent assault.
SESAY: Donald Trump calls the FBI raid on his lawyer's office and hotel room "a disgrace." A lawyer for Michael Cohen said agents took bank records and privileged communications between Cohen and his clients, one of whom is the U.S. president. One source tells CNN the raid was in connection with the Stormy Daniels situation. She is a port star who says she had an affair with Mr. Trump then was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about it.
(INAUDIBLE) furious President Trump called the whole investigation a "witch hunt."
TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man. And it's a disgraceful situation.
It's a total witch-hunt. I have been saying it for a long time. I have wanted to keep it down. We have given, I believe, over a million pages' worth of documents to the special counsel.
And it's a disgrace. It's, frankly, a real disgrace. It's an attack on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for.
So, when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did, I said, that is really now in a whole new level of unfairness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Cohen has been on Mr. Trump's team for more than a decade. Why does the president keep him around?
Two possible reasons. He's loyal to a fault and h takes care of business. Brian Todd takes a closer look at Donald Trump's sometimes ruthless fixer.
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: The next President of the United States of America.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Cohen says he will always protect his client, Donald Trump.
COHEN: He's a good man. He's a man who cares deeply about this country.
TODD (voice-over): For 12 years, Cohen has been Trump's personal attorney, or, as many call him, Trump's fixer. One former Trump campaign official says Cohen is a less cool version of "Ray Donovan," Showtime's fictional Hollywood fixer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Oh, Jesus, Ray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD (voice-over): But if Cohen is less cool than Donovan, observers say he's every bit as tenacious.
MARC FISHER, CO-AUTHOR, "TRUMP REVEALED": Michael Cohen is not averse to threatening people, he's a guy who carries a pistol in an ankle holster. He makes it clear to people that he's a tough guy.
TODD (voice-over): From sometimes ruthlessly maneuvering against people who have damaging information on Trump to trying to facilitate business deals for his boss, observers say Michael Cohen consistently doggedly displays the one characteristic Donald Trump values most.
FISHER: There's very little in the world that's more important to Donald Trump than loyalty and Michael Cohen has shown for more than a decade that he will hold confidences and that he will fight for Trump in the way that Trump likes and that is to hit hard, to always hit back harder than you've been hit.
TODD (voice-over): But Cohen has been criticized for his legal handling of the Stormy Daniels case. Daniels' attorney says the agreement Cohen drew up for Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair was, quote, "sloppy."
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: The way that this was handled and the documentation quite honestly, this was amateur hour.
TODD (voice-over): Cohen recently said he used his own personal funds to, quote, "facilitate" a payment to the porn star shortly before the 2016 election without Trump's knowledge or reimbursement, something legal experts say is almost unheard of.
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is extraordinary and I would tell you that probably 99.9 percent of the lawyers in America would never even contemplate doing this.
TODD (voice-over): In response, Cohen told CNN his legal arguments and documents in the Daniels case are airtight and that he believes it's Daniels who is now liable for millions in damages based on her conduct.
But Cohen is also being criticized from a pure public relations standpoint.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the entire thing was either --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- reckless, naive or completely incompetent.
TODD (voice-over): Crisis communication specialist Michael Rubin says it was a bad idea to believe paying Daniels off would make her go away.
What should Cohen have told Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell him this isn't going to work. That's what he really should have done. There was nothing they could have done to make this go away so dealing with it honestly is pretty much the only choice they have.
TODD: Cohen defends himself on that score as well, telling us he hopes Daniels and her attorney are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, that he thinks that will diminish significantly when a judgment is entered against her.
As for the allegations of an affair, Mr. Cohen reiterated his strong denial of an affair on three separate occasions -- Brian Todd, CNN. Washington.
SESAY: Dave Jacobson and John Thomas are back with us. Also joining us Jessica Levinson, professor of law and governance at Loyola Law School.
We've got a full house, welcome, everyone.
Dave, to start with you, you heard the president earlier on Monday -- it was clear, he was furious. The body language, the arms across the body, he was very upset about this raid on Michael Cohen's home and offices.
He also did something that we haven't heard before, he framed this as an attack on the country.
When did you make of that?
DAVE JACOBSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's pretty remarkable. I think the way it came off to me is the president thinks that he is above the law, right, like an attack on his personal attorney is an attack on him and he perhaps is the country because he's president, he is at the helm of the White House, I don't know.
It was totally bizarre and it's clear that the FBI and Bob Mueller are closing on his inner circle. It's not just confined now to the Russian investigation, it is possible illegal campaign violations through his attorney.
So it's a very explosive situation. I'd be interested to find out eventually I'm sure it will come out at some point like what the FBI gathered at Cohen's office and hotel and home beyond just the payment to Stormy Daniels and all those different dynamics.
But it is remarkable. I think it's history making.
SESAY: John, you were shaking your head in disagreement.
How did you read this statement, he said it's an attack on the country, taking it to a whole new level and clearly laying the blame on Mueller's doorstep, even though it's far more complicated than that.
JOHN THOMAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it is complicated, that's for sure but I think what President Trump meant was that an attorney-client relationship is sacred. Most people's attorneys know more about them and their conversations than their spouses do.
And for Mueller to go in --
THOMAS: -- so the fact is to cross that line and raid Mueller's -- and raid his attorney's office was something so personal to Donald Trump and violated what he felt was a protected line you just can't cross that I think President Trump felt all Americans should be concerned because if it can happen to President of the United States it happened to you, it happened to you. And I -- and I think they're going to find something not related to Trump but they're going to find parking tickets. They're going to find unpaid taxes in a way I actually think is a good thing for Trump long-term because I think it will actually exonerate the fact that Cohen was probably the bad actor, that he was the one who went off half-cocked probably without Donald Trump knowing these things.
I think it is probably a good thing but I think President Trump was just saying the attorney-client relationship if prosecutors in an attempt to find Russian collusion can start going after things related to porn stars and affairs and potentially breaching the attorney- client privilege, nothing is sacred.
SESAY: Jessica, as John talked about the sanctity of the client- attorney relationship, would you like to respond?
Because I saw your eyebrows, your eyes light up.
As the legal voice here, what lines were crossed here as you hear what John says in terms of going too far?
JESSICA LEVINSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Well, let me say I think that President Trump's approval ratings would be much higher if John Thomas could be --
LEVINSON: -- and could explain to the world what he means. I don't actually think that that's what he means in terms of why he's so angry. I think that this is part of a pattern of him being unhappy with how the judicial system works.
But I think that John brings up a really important point, which is that the attorney-client privilege is extremely important in the legal system and should be respected. And that's why it shows how extraordinary this situation is, that special counsel Robert Mueller finds some evidence, refers it to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was personally interviewed by President Trump.
The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York then goes to a neutral judge, a magistrate judge, said look at all the information here. The magistrate judge also believes in the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege and says, you know
[01:25:00] LEVINSON: -- we have to satisfy an even higher threshold when it comes to an attorney and potentially when it comes to information that might be subject to the attorney-client privilege. And we're still going to issue that search warrant.
So I think it shows how serious this issue is. I also agree with John that I'm not at all convinced that this means that President Trump is in legal trouble. I think it shows that Michael Cohen is in legal trouble.
SESAY: Well -- go ahead.
THOMAS: Well, I think the other consequence of this is that Donald Trump has had a hard time finding good talent, both on the attorney side in the White House to work for him, partially because he is not complaint as a client.
But now if you think that he could ever find a highly qualified, great attorney to work with him and represent him, when not only you got the risk of a client misbehaving but you got this -- the idea that anyone who touches Donald Trump can get sucked into this Mueller probe and have their offices raided, good luck. He's never going to get anybody again.
SESAY: Well, Michael Avenatti who represents Stormy Daniels -- clearly he has an opinion --
SESAY: -- let's just say he wasn't sad about what happened. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: It appears that the noose is tightening around Michael Cohen. I think the president has considerable reason to be concerned. A lot of faith and confidence has been put in Michael Cohen. I think the expectation was that he was going to be the fall guy. This is a very, very serious matter. There's no question that it stems from our case and the amount of attention that our case has attracted over the last six weeks.
But make no mistake about it, there's going to be a lot of sleepless nights at the White House from here on out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Jessica, Dave, John, a lot of sleepless nights?
JACOBSON: There's already clearly --
JACOBSON: -- Donald Trump doesn't sleep at all, gets maybe three hours a night. But look, I think that's why there was a hint of like the -- when Donald Trump was asked today if he would fire Bob Mueller, he didn't just flat-out say no. I think it's because it's clear that perhaps Rod Rosenstein -- I'm not an attorney but I would imagine Rod Rosenstein had to sign off on this. Christopher Wray, head of FBI, probably had to sign off on this.
This is extraordinarily. This is the president's personal attorney, right. And so at the end of the day, the inner circle is closing in, the FBI and the Justice Department is closing in on the White House and I think Donald Trump is genuinely scared. And that is why he is increasingly unhinged and erratic.
SESAY: Let's play the sound when they asked President Trump about firing Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller?
Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens. But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, you should fire him. Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing, that's a big statement. If you know the person who is in charge of the investigation, you know about that, Deputy Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the letter very critical of Comey.
One of the things I said, I fired Comey. Well, I turned out to do the right thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: John, who (INAUDIBLE) tell him to fire Mueller?
THOMAS: His voices in his head, most likely.
But, no, there are a lot of people, certainly on the conservative side, that are saying that Mueller needs --
THOMAS: -- there still are voices but I think the president would be well advised to ignore those voices and it's fine. I think it's appropriate if he wants to protest publicly and talk about how this is unfair and all that. That's fine.
But he should not go as far as firing Mueller, because if he had not fired Comey, as much as I think actually Comey had to go. But the firing of Comey kicked off this whole special counsel that seems to have no bounds in where they're looking.
So hopefully the president will heed his own advice right now and keep Mueller but continue to complain. I think that's fine.
SESAY: Jessica. LEVINSON: Well, I would say I think that every Democrat is just hoping that if he does fire Mueller it's before the midterms and maybe three days before the midterms because this would so energize people across the country because it is so serious.
I mean we're talking about the Republican establishment. Basically were talking about Republicans in the Department of Justice, a Republican special counsel, looking into very important and very serious inquiries with respect to a number of people, who are very close to the president.
And I would say we really have to stop saying we didn't find anything. We have indictments. We have guilty pleasure. We have false statements to federal agents. We have people who have agreed to plea bargains.
So we have already found a lot. And I would also say to the American people and really to everybody it is not a failure if Robert Mueller either finds that there is not enough there that there is conspiracy.
It shows that he methodically did his job. He went through all of the evidence and he said there's not enough there, there. But you know, when there will be enough there, there if the President fires Robert Mueller because then we're really having a serious conversation about obstruction of justice.
JACOBSON: And on that point let's -- the American people are on the side of this investigation. CNN put out a poll just a couple of weeks ago -- 48 percent of Americans have a favorable view or approve of Bob Mueller's Russia probe; only 32 percent of them for Donald Trump.
SESAY: The question is can the President control his impulses? That is the question.
THOMAS: It's tough when your offices are being raided. It's very tough.
SESAY: We shall see. Dave Jacobson, John Thomas and Jessica Levinson -- always a pleasure. Thank you.
THOMAS: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you. Thank you.
All right. We're going to pause here for a quick break.
Mark Zuckerberg prefers to stay behind the scenes but the Facebook CEO's first appearance on Capitol Hill could signal a turning point for him and for social media.
Stay with us.
SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. will respond forcefully to the suspected chemical attack on a rebel enclave in Syria. He says he'll make a decision on what our response will be in the next 24 to 48 hours adding that nothing is off the table.
FBI agents raided the office and hotel room of Michael Cohen, friend and lawyer of the U.S. President Donald Trump. A source tells CNN some of the documents seized relate to Stormy Daniels. She is the porn star who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and says she was paid by Cohen to keep it quiet.
Facebook's CEO will meet several U.S. lawmakers ahead of his congressional testimony Tuesday. Mark Zuckerberg has been under pressure to appear after a data firm with ties to President Trump's campaign reportedly accessed the personal information of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge.
Well, in his prepared remarks released on Monday, Zuckerberg apologizes for failing to protect users' personal data. He says "We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake and I'm sorry. I started Facebook. I run it. And I'm responsible for what happens here."
Claire Sebastian has more on what's at stake for Zuckerberg and Facebook at these hearings.
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER AND CEO, FACEBOOK: I'm Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, an online social directory.
CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Speaking in public about Facebook or anything for that matter --
ZUCKERBERG: I'm glad this isn't live.
SEBASTIAN: -- has never been Mark Zuckerberg's favorite pastime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to take off the hoodie?
SEBASTIAN: Over the years though, he's always come back to one key mantra.
ZUCKERBERG: It's always been our number one goal is just to serve people and help them share information, stay connected with the people that they care about.
At Facebook our mission has really always been to connect the world.
[01:35:04] DAVID KIRKPATRICK, CEO, TECHONOMY: He created literally in order to connect people and make the world more open and connected which is a phrase that he loved to use in those days. And it just, by the way, also yielded the most targetable advertising environment ever.
SEBASTIAN: David Kirkpatrick, also of the Facebook effect, says the problem is you can't separate the mission from the money. Facebook's a global connector with more than two billion users and Facebook's the data goldmine that made almost $40 billion last year showing those users ads.
KIRKPATRICK: They were optimizing for profitability rather than the security and privacy of their members.
SEBASTIAN: Mark Zuckerberg not admits he didn't do enough to prevent the platform being abused. In June 2016, in a memo published by Buzz Feed, top executive Andrew Bosworth wrote, "Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools and still we connect people. The ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect to more people more often is de facto good."
Bosworth disavowed the memo saying it was intended to be provocative. Mark Zuckerberg told CNN, "We recognize that connecting people isn't enough by itself."
That recognition is redefining Facebook. It recently said it changed the new speed algorithm to prioritize user rather than publisher or brand content. In the fourth quarter it saw its first ever drop in user numbers helped by reducing viral video. And it's also investing in new tools and new stuff to improve privacy and police content.
MAX WOLFF, ECONOMIST, THE PHOENIX GROUP: I think we're looking at a Facebook that has to be slower and more careful in how it monetizes. And I think we might be looking at a Facebook that isn't as unquestionably in control of the future of social networking as everyone thought.
SEBASTIAN: Facebook's new mission -- to reconnect with its users and rebuild trust.
Claire Sebastian, CNN Money -- New York.
SESAY: Scott Perry joins us once again. He's the founder of L.A. Tech Digest. Scott -- thank you for being with us once again.
SCOTT PERRY, FOUNDER, L.A. TECH DIGEST: Thank you for having me.
SESAY: So, you know, we already know from the remarks released on Monday that Mark Zuckerberg is going to say "I'm sorry, the buck stops with me. We just didn't take a broad enough view of, you know, people's data and the situation. I'm sorry."
Is that -- how is that going to go over?
PERRY: You had one job, Mark Zuckerberg, one job and still messed it up. I mean the company's currency is data and they couldn't even keep that secure over a ten-year period. They didn't have the imagination to think that people could use this stuff in dark ways.
It wasn't that hard to keep it locked in. Now, five years ago, our biggest issues were malware, having servers being attacked or stuff like that. People didn't think you can just scrape information and create misinformation campaign against consumers and have them act out their worst possible thoughts.
Now, the issue with the data breach did not change voter habits. If you're going to vote for Trump, you're going to vote for Trump anyway. But what it did is it energized that crowd and manipulated and the voting because of any fear or outrage that was produced by the articles that were created by Cambridge Analytica.
We're not talking about a simple one-two step here where it's like you're being manipulated. Cambridge Analytica and companies of that sort are playing a long con game where it's like a 10-step -- they're ten steps ahead of you.
SESAY: So that means how tough will lawmakers be on Zuckerberg?
PERRY: They should be tough but Cambridge Analytica is just one of many bad players. And we really don't know the scope of how many people gathered how much information or how it was going to be used against these users in the future.
SESAY: Scott -- how can Facebook say they're going to handle the problem if they don't really or do they have a full sense of the scope of the problem?
PERRY: They don't have a full sense of the --
SESAY: So how do you fully take care of it?
PERRY: Well, you use a lot of artificial intelligence to look at data points associated with your advertising partners. And if they're pulling out certain data in mass amounts, it may send signals out. But then you're also going to have human beings sort that out to see who are the bad players and who's just collecting a lot of data.
SESAY: Can Mark Zuckerberg do enough over the next two days to stop the rolling tide of regulation?
PERRY: It's going to keep going. Every day there's a new announcement. Today he had to send an e-mail apologizing to the people of Myanmar for inciting riots through Facebook. Today it was revealed that there was a page for Black Lives Matter set up in Australia --
SESAY: Australia -- yes.
PERRY: In Australia. And the founder of Black Lives Matter in America told Facebook this is fake; they didn't do anything about it.
Your IP address showing up in Australia would tell you it's not a real page and yet it was still allowed to stay up. So if they're not going to police themselves a lot more vigorously, the government is going to make them do it.
Now his opening statements to the joint committees -- tomorrow it's going to be Commerce and Judiciary. Wednesday it's going to be the House Energy Committee. He does allow a lot of like protections and safeguards like third-party apps can only use your name, your photo and your e-mail. Your access to API data stops if that app is not used after three months.
So when I'm clearing up my old information I saw a lot of apps I hadn't used in a good four or five years that I had to delete that had still been, you know, tracking my data.
[01:40:04] Another thing they're doing -- forensic audits and take, you know, banning suspicious actors. And political ads are going to required advance authorization for the first time as well as the admins of those political ads are going to have to be verified as real and human.
SESAY: As opposed to what we have now where anyone, anywhere --
PERRY: Anybody could have done it.
SESAY: And so now we have this moment with Mark Zuckerberg who doesn't like to speak in public, certainly doesn't like to take (INAUDIBLE) in Facebook, there on Capitol Hill and there are those saying it's time for him to step down.
Let me read the statement. Open Mic CEO Michael Connor issued this. He said, "It's long past time for Facebook to separate the roles of company CEO and chairman and for Mark Zuckerberg to resign or be fired." What do you think about that? Is there a growing sentiment moving in this direction? Should it happen?
PERRY: No. No. I mean if anything he should, you know, pull a Bill Gates and be more of a visionary and allow certain products to be built out. But he does have a lot of adults placed in places where they should be acting like adults.
I mean like Sheryl Sandberg should have had a handle on this. All of their lieutenants should have had a handle on this when this was brought up by "The Guardian" about the Cambridge Analytica --
PERRY: -- scandal in 2015. And yet it wasn't. And I don't know why it wasn't taken seriously enough. I don't know why it wasn't acted upon three years ago, but it wasn't. So if Sandberg's not going to do anything about it, if Zuckerberg's not going to do anything about it back then, they're definitely going to do something about it now.
But why it's taken this long to get to this point is a complete mystery to me. I hope that the government gets to that matter.
SESAY: Facebook shares down some 14 percent. What's it going to take to turn them around? PERRY: It will be a while. Goldman-Sachs had predicted that revenues could be hit another 7 percent which is about $3 billion on a company that makes $28 billion annually by the GDPR rules that are going to be set forth by the U.K. as of May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation.
Now if those same regulations are adopted in other territories it could take another hit. But Zuckerberg is committed to forsaking profits for the benefit of the community. And I can respect that. That's a very good thing.
But it will take a lot to put the genie back in the bottle for the Cambridge Analyticas of the world because there are multiple companies of the sort who pulled that data and put a stop to that. But also think about different ways that their information could be accessed in the future because we are moving towards a post-text world where things are audio based and visual based and how do we stop data- scraping based on that by artificial intelligence, robots and other things that are tapped into other mechanisms of data such as a third- party credit card information (INAUDIBLE) and such.
SESAY: You always come in and frighten me.
SESAY: I keep praying bring him back. And then as soon as you come in I'm like get rid of him.
Scott Perry -- thank you.
PERRY: Thank you.
SESAY: All right. We're going to take a very quick break.
More news after this.
[01:44:58] SESAY: Well, CNN has spoken with members of a brutal cell of British-ISIS fighters known by their hostages as the Beatles. That's the nickname that makes a mockery of the crimes they allegedly carried out. These people are accused of beheading, water boarding and crucifying aid workers and journalists in Syria.
Now those horrors were often paraded savagely in barbaric videos distributed on social media. Now, there's international paralysis about where they should face trial and be imprisoned. The last two members of the cell captured by U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds agreed to be interviewed by CNN.
Our Nick Paton Walsh reports from northern Syria.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Once some of the world's most wanted, but now nobody wants them. The last two of the British-ISIS cell dubbed "The Beatles" accused of water boarding, crucifixion, accessory to beheadings of western hostages jailed in Syria. How they'll taste justice is now a matter of hot debate and then suddenly with bare-faced hypocrisy fond of the home they spurned.
Would you prefer to be tried anywhere in particular like the U.K.?
ALEXANDER KOTEY, BRITISH-ISIS DETAINEE: Definitely, familiarity is the easier option. My experience with British judges is that they're quite fair and just. And I might miss my (INAUDIBLE) fishing trips.
WALSH: In fact, they revel in their rights like presumed innocence when I tell them several westerners there allegedly imprisoned and defused (ph) in ISIS jails like these have identified their voices and faces.
EL SHAFEE ELSHEIKH, BRITISH-ISIS DETAINEE: It's just an accusation relatively speaking. And if the Britons said we're going to deal with you with barbaric law or with law from the medieval ages, then yes, hang, draw and quarter me -- right. That's not the case. I'm just really pointing that out.
I believe in democracy. I'm being subjected to democratic law. So it is only right for those who claim to uphold this to fully uphold it because it's their mistake, not me, really.
KOTEY: The American administration or the British government, they will decide if they want to be champions of the Sharia Islamic law and apply Islamic law upon myself and Shafee then by all means. If not then they should adhere to that which they claim to be champions of.
WALSH: ISIS is nearly defeated but the arrogance of their beliefs is not.
What keeps you awake at night?
KOTEY: This life and my clothes and the place I'm sleeping.
WALSH: So there will be some people they see you make a joke of that question and think that what has gone before to you is sort of been a bit of a laugh. Are you saying that there's nothing that you witnessed here in Syria or been involved in that troubles you?
KOTEY: No. If I want to talk about why I was in the Islamic state, the kind of things that keep you up at night is the sound of (INAUDIBLE) 16 jets flying in the sky and some Syrian neighbors with his kids crying.
WALSH: there's so much bravado, it is hard to see if they really think it all -- the videos, the savage beheadings -- was as sickening as the rest of humanity thought.
Do you regret that sort of messaging?
KOTEY: Yes, definitely. It would have been damaging (ph) and it's regrettable that, you know, that families have to see that.
WALSH: So Jihadi John is dead now. What kind of a guy was he?
ELSHEIKH: He's a friend of mine.
WALSH: For what reasons?
ELSHEIKH: For what reasons was he my friend? You need to have a reason to be a friend of somebody?
WALSH: I'm just asking you to describe him as a person?
ELSHEIKH: To describe him as a person. A lot of people in the western world are not going to want to hear this but the truth has to be said and he's one of the most loyal friends I've had. Trustworthy, honest, outstanding.
WALSH: Were you surprised when you saw videos of him cutting off people's heads?
ELSHEIKH: It was surprising, yes.
WALSH: You don't approve?
ELSHEIKH: Did I approve of the act or did I approve of the video?
WALSH: Did you approve of the acts by your friend?
ELSHEIKH: I'd rather not answer that question.
WALSH: Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- northern Syria.
SESAY: Well, the British government has been unclear on what it wants to do with the two men. There are unconfirmed reports their British citizenship has been revoked. Some say they should face justice in the U.K. Others say they must never come back to the country they have disgraced.
This is NEWSROOM L.A. New details about a settlement between Bill Cosby and one of his accusers and the latest on the actor's retrial.
[01:49:48] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
SESAY: Well, the first witness in Bill Cosby's retrial could take the stand in the coming hours. The TV star is facing three counts of aggravated indecent assault. On Monday prosecutors revealed that Cosby paid more than $3 million to a woman who said he drugged and assaulted her in 2004.
Before the proceeding, a former "Cosby Show" actress removed her top and yelled at Cosby as he walked into court. They tackled her to the ground and arrested her.
CNN legal analyst Areva Martin joins me now. She's also a civil right attorney. Areva -- that was quite of a drama.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. That wasn't even inside the courtroom.
SESAY: I know.
MARTIN: It was just as he was walking to get into the courtroom. And I think we are going to see a lot of that happening because this trial, you know, evokes so many emotions for people. So I'm not surprised what happened today.
SESAY: Were you surprised to learn how much he paid Andrea Constand which emerged on the first day, $3.38 million and the other details that came out?
MARTN: No. Because we know that Cosby has been involved in settlements of these kinds of cases and as a lawyer that's litigated these cases for now over two decades, that range of a settlement is not uncommon particularly when someone feels like there's exposure so you often see multi-million dollar settlements because the accused is trying to keep this out of the public's view. They don't want this to be in a public trial where there's testimony about their conduct.
So they oftentimes will pay, you know, a large sum in order to make that person go away, sign a nondisclosure agreement and to avoid, you know, the public shame and humiliation from a trial.
SESAY: This is a retrial.
SESAY: How is this going to be different from the prior trial?
MARTIN: Well, there're already some major differences. One, Cosby has a new defense lawyer. Two, this settlement amount which was not introduced in the first trial has come out and both sides are going to use this amount.
MARTIN: Prosecutors are going to say this is evidence that he did something bad. And it was really bad. It was so bad that he was willing to pay $3.4 million to keep it quiet.
Cosby's team on the other hand is going to say look how much money she's already been paid. She's a gold digger. She got all of this money but she wanted more. So they're going to use it paint her as this gold digger. So that's the second difference in this trial.
The third thing is the number of other witnesses who have similar allegations as Constand who are going to be allowed to testify. In the first trial, only one of those women was allowed to testify. The judge in this new trial is going to allow five of those, what they call, fact witnesses to testify. One being Janice Dickerson, the former model who says something very similar happened to her back in the early 1980s. So that's another difference. And the major difference I think is the MeToo movement.
SESAY: Yes, absolutely.
MARTIN: I mean that has evolved since the first trial. And now there's this sense amongst people in this country that powerful men like Bill Cosby should be held accountable.
SESAY: What's your sense of his demeanor, his carriage on the first day of this retrial?
MARTIN: He seems more calm to me. He seems more confident. And sometimes, you know, that may have to do with his new legal team. I don't know but he seemed relatively calm given what he's facing which is life in prison if convicted.
And although he, what we will call, dodged a bullet in that first trial, you know, the stakes are really high in this case. And with the MeToo movement, with five women being able to say that they had a very similar experience as Constand, you know, it's not at all certain that he will either be acquitted or that there will be another hung jury.
[01:55:02] SESAY: Looking at this new team from what we know and from this first day and the like, what's your sense of the level of aggression in which they'll approach these women that will take the stand?
MARTIN: I think they have a whole new strategy and I think they're going to go after these women hard. They're going to go after Constand. I mean they're whole theory is that this is about money. This is a money grab and they have a witness that they're going to call to the witness stand and they're going to elicit testimony from her that Constand joked about setting up a powerful man and alleging this kind of sexual harassment, sexual assault for the purposes of getting a big payout.
SESAY: The problem is the MeToo -- the element, right, that you mentioned. How far is too far?
MARTIN: Yes. And you can as a defense attorney, you can, you know be too aggressive to the point where the jurors start to side with the victim. So there is that balance that they have to walk. But very clear that their strategy is to paint Constand as the villain in this case and Cosby as the victim.
So the question is will that work given what we know these jurors -- all of them had to acknowledge that they had heard about the case -- and who couldn't?
MARTIN: Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard something about Bill Cosby and the dozens and dozens of women that came forward and made allegations against him. SESAY: And we just talked about the MeToo movement possibly casting a shade or kind of impacting this. What about this trial for the MeToo movement?
MARTIN: Well, I think everyone in this movement is going to be watching what happens in this trial. And a lot of people think that this is a barometer of, you know, can we really get convictions in these cases. We've seen people fired. We've seen people forced to resign from their positions. And you know, we've seen whole companies toppled but we haven't had a criminal trial where someone has been forced to face criminal charges with the possibility being life imprisonment, or you know, a substantially long prison term which is what Bill Cosby is facing.
So all eyes on this trial for lots of reasons.
SESAY: Yes. Hugely impactful.
SESAY: Areva Martin -- always appreciate it.
MARTIN: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you. Thank you.
And you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. Here I am. I'm Isha Sesay.
Be sure to join us on Twitter at CNNNewsroomLA for highlights and clips from our shows. We'll be back with more news right after this.
[02:00:04] SESAY: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour.
Tough talk from the U.S. president and he promises to forcefully respond after an alleged chemical attack in Syria.