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Dr. Priscilla Chan's Ambitious Plan to Change the World; Dr. Priscilla Chan's Hard-Fought Journey to Success; GOP Candidate Fires Back over Claims He's Suppressing Voters. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 15, 2018 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. If you Google Priscilla Chan, you will see the words philanthropist, doctor, wife, but after sitting down with her, it becomes immediately clear that she's a game-changer on an ambitious mission, but one who shies away from the spotlight. Here's our exclusive interview with Dr. Priscilla Chan.


HARLOW (on camera): You don't love the spotlight.

PRISCILLA CHAN, CO-FOUNDER, CHAN ZUCKERBERG INITIATIVE: I don't love the spotlight. I'm here because people told me it would be good for CZI.

HARLOW: No one has ever been that candid with me in an interview.

HARLOW (voice-over): And that is why you may not know Dr. Priscilla Chan's name. But we think you should.

PETER SWANSON, TEACHER: She wants to do good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That woman is incredible.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: She just cares immensely about people.

CHAN: That's awesome.


CHAN: All right. Solved. Tied in a bow.

HARLOW: At just 33 years old, Priscilla Chan leads CZI or the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and what may just turn out to be the biggest change agent in Silicon Valley.

HARLOW (on camera): You and Mark have committed how much of your wealth to this?

CHAN: Almost all of it, 99 percent. HARLOW (voice-over): Mark Zuckerberg, that is. Yes, Chan is Zuckerberg's wife, but her profile is rising, and not because of whom she's married to.

CHAN: Max knows that I work at CZI, and Dada works at a book store.

HARLOW: Why does she think that?

CHAN: We told her Facebook, and she thinks Facebook is a book store.

HARLOW (voice-over): CZI's goals are anything but modest, advancing human potential and promoting equal opportunity while curing, preventing, or managing all diseases by the end of the century.

HARLOW (on camera): Most people would look at that and say no way is that possible.

CHAN: Antibiotics weren't a thing until the past 80 years. And that's incredible because so many lives are saved because of that. So if you look forward, what can we do in the next 80 years? We shouldn't even be able to imagine that today.

HARLOW (voice-over): Backing CZI with 99 percent of their wealth. At today's Facebook stock price, that means some $61 billion in assets.

HARLOW (on camera): Who's the boss in the office?

Isn't she -- I mean, that's where she is every day. You only show up on Fridays, so I hear.

ZUCKERBERG: We work together on this.

HARLOW: I get the sense that she challenges you professionally. She pushes you --

ZUCKERBERG: And personally.

HARLOW: And personally.

ZUCKERBERG: So, we have this funny situation where a few years ago, she found I was repeating her stories when explaining our education work about what was important in education. So, she turned to me one day and was like, you have to get your own stories.

[10:35:01] HARLOW: Really?

ZUCKERBERG: I'm like, come on, that's not really practical. I'm kind of busy. She's like, no way, you have to go do this.

CHAN: Well, I taught him a lot of science. I'm like I don't think Mark knows this. Will someone explain it to him?

HARLOW (voice-over): In a sense, they have been teaching each other since they met in line for the bathroom at a Harvard frat party.

CHAN: His friends were throwing him a party because they were worried he might get kicked out of school. Our real first date was about a week later.

HARLOW (on camera): OK.

CHAN: And we had gone out to have hot chocolate, and the date was going well. And then he said, I'm really enjoying this. Would you like to go watch a movie? I have a take-home midterm, but I would rather do that instead. I was completely devastated.


CHAN: Because I was like, huge red flag. This guy is not doing his homework. He's not going to amount to anything.

HARLOW: Clearly.

CHAN: Clearly. I was so upset.

HARLOW (voice-over): The fact that Priscilla Chan is sitting here today, valedictorian, pediatrician, entrepreneur, billionaire, and mother of two, is in her words a miracle.

CHAN: My grandparents were business people in Saigon. The war hit. They were persecuted. The only way out was to put their children on boats and send them off to sea and hopefully they find an opportunity on the other side.

HARLOW: She was born to refugee parents in low-income housing in Quincy, Massachusetts.

CHAN: I was always the caregiver. It's the first-born mentality, but first born on steroids because you're the hope and dream for a refugee family.

HARLOW: Her high school now renovated was run down and strapped for cash. But her teachers there changed the trajectory of her life.

SWANSON: She's an extraordinary person. She's smart. And she's intuitive and she's kind.

HARLOW: Peter Swanson taught Chan A.P. Environmental Science and tennis.

SWANSON: I used to say, just be sure to give back. And boy, you know, she's giving back. But I think she's giving back more than money.

CHAN: He's like I heard you're good at science. He's like, now you will play tennis because you need to have leadership skills. You're going to go to Harvard.

HARLOW: And she did on a full scholarship. A dream but one she never imagined would almost break her.

CHAN: My one skill set of being smart, I wasn't smart there anymore. I didn't fit in. And I was like, oh, my gosh, I don't belong here. I actually filled out my transfer paperwork to leave.

HARLOW (on camera): You did?

CHAN: I did. It was so hard. And so I was ready to leave.

HARLOW (voice-over): But then a child changed her life.

CHAN: I worked at a low-income housing project right next door to where I grew up. I met a little girl. She's 10 years old, and her school concert came in the after school program, I was looking for her, and I walked up to the playground in the housing project and I found her. I saw that her two front teeth were broken. I was devastated. I thought, what happened? What did I do wrong? I still remember that moment with anguish and anger and a desire to fight so that other kids aren't like that.

HARLOW: Chan went on to teach and then to medical school. As she and Zuckerberg realized the immense wealth Facebook was bringing them, they wrote a post to their first daughter Max, like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today. From that, CZI was born.

HARLOW (on camera): How has being a parent changed you?

CHAN: It makes you realize that the important things are limited. I try to walk in the shoes of folks who don't have the opportunities that my family has.

HARLOW (voice-over): Chan threw herself into building CZI and its core work on education, justice, and opportunity, which includes criminal justice reform, and science.

CHAN: So this is where the education team works. They build a tool for teachers to actually understand where kids are in their learning.

HARLOW: CZI science initiative is led by Cori Bargmann.

CORI BARGMANN, LEADS CHAN ZUCKERBERG INITIATIVE: Here, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century.

HARLOW (on camera): No small goals here.

BARGMANN: There is no greater equalizer than health. Everyone deserves a shot. Priscilla I think really is the heart of this organization and these motivations come from her heart.

CHAN: It hopefully will be the next human genome project where we're able to actually sequence the trillions of cells in your body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are across the organization majority woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't discriminate.


HARLOW (voice-over): CZI's push for criminal justice reform is a $45 million endeavor. [10:40:00] CHAN: So many of the people in our criminal justice system lost the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way in our society before they were ever given a chance.

HARLOW: A chance is what Chan is also trying to give 250 of Palo Alto's most underprivileged children.

She founded the primary school, an ambitious mission of combining education with full medical and mental health care for each child.

CHAN: Selling a dream is really what I was doing.

MARGARET MCNAMARA, LEADS CZI RESIDENCY PROGRAM: A very ambitious kind of undertaking, and so she recognizes that it's going to take years in the making. And she's in it.

Dr. Meg McNamara led Chan's residency program and has become her mentor.

HARLOW (on camera): What do you think when you hear people say, oh, Priscilla Chan, right, Mark Zuckerberg's wife?

MCNAMARA: Yes, I would say that there is far more to Priscilla than being the wife of Mark Zuckerberg. And that she is an extremely accomplished physician and at this point an entrepreneur.

HARLOW: No question in your mind she'll change this world for a lot of people.

MCNAMARA: No question.

HARLOW (voice-over): Chan and Zuckerberg joined Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in the giving pledge, vowing to give away almost all of their wealth.

SWANSON: Priscilla is going to be entrusted with huge resources to change this world for the better. I love the fact that it's her.

HARLOW (on camera): What do you think will have a more profound, lasting, and important impact on the world? CZI or Facebook?

ZUCKERBERG: Facebook has already helped connect a lot of people. CZI is the opportunity to do so much more in terms of helping people, helping create more education opportunities. If we can really play a role in empowering scientists to cure, prevent, and manage all diseases or even the vast majority of diseases over the next 50 years, that will just be -- that is such an important thing for people.

HARLOW (voice-over): Some may question if at least in part CZI is an effort to direct attention away from the obviously difficult and increasingly controversial position Facebook finds itself in. Including recent data hacks and its role in Russian election meddling. To that, Chan says, quote, "there are a lot of things that are easier to accomplish for good PR."

Chan adds that the two entities are not connected, saying, quote, "CZI is not the Facebook foundation. CZI has an entirely separate staff, separate offices, and a separate and different mission."

HARLOW (on camera): Has CZI donated to any political campaigns or politicians?

CHAN: We work in the advocacy space around issue areas that we have made commitments to. And so we participate and support efforts in those areas, but always in a bipartisan way. We don't see ourselves as political.

HARLOW: So, not directly to candidates.


HARLOW (voice-over): That said, former White House senior adviser to President Obama, David Plouffe, leads CZI's policy and advocacy team. Together, Chan and Zuckerberg have learned how political even charitable endeavors can become.

ZUCKERBERG: A $100 million challenge grant.

OPRAH, HOST, "OPRAH": $100 million.

HARLOW (on camera): Made famous investment of $100 million in schools in Newark. What was learned from the Newark investment?

CHAN: We are now almost seven years out from the Newark investment and we're seeing really exciting results. We're seeing that the high school graduation rate has gone up 18 percent.

HARLOW: It's been widely reported in many ways as a failure.

CHAN: People wrote books and did retrospectives three or four years in. This work is not work that is going to fully play out in three or four years. It takes time. The lesson I want us to learn here at CZI is hold yourself accountable, but know that to really understand the full impact of your work, you're just going to need to be patient.

HARLOW (voice-over): Priscilla Chan has lived a life with some good luck, but it's exactly that luck she wants to take out of the equation for millions of children.

CHAN: It seems incredibly unjust and a wasted opportunity in our country that people need to get lucky to have access to opportunities. I'm just so inspired by the work and efforts of the people that welcomed my family to this country. I am forever in debt and willing to fight for what I feel like is an extremely American value. And I just -- I think that's what makes this country great.


HARLOW: What's remarkable about her is she's only 33 years old. And feels that the work needs to start now and has this sort of only in America story, right? Refugee parents come to this country, she grows up in low-income housing and now she has $60 billion to try to change things for so many kids.

[10:45:07] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, a far different environment for immigrants today. No question.

HARLOW: Yes, exactly.

All right, you can hear the full interview with Priscilla Chan, a lot more with her there on my podcast, "Boss Files" on iTunes.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, this hour tensions heating up, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams accusing her opponent Brian Kemp of voter suppression. Not just her, Kemp is firing back. Much more on this story next.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back. This morning, Georgia's Republican candidate for governor is firing back at claims that he has held up tens of thousands of voter registrations and is therefore guilty of voter suppression.

[10:50:06] The issue, a voter's rights has become a flash point in this hotly contested gubernatorial race, and this morning, with the polls essentially neck and neck, early voting already getting underway in Georgia.

Kaylee Hartung is live in Atlanta where the Democratic candidates' campaign is running voter protection hotlines. So, Kaylee, what do we know about this charge? Of course, part of the issue here is that the Republican candidate also happens to be in charge in effect of running the election, does he not, based on his state position?

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Jim. This gets really complicated as you laid out. There's a hostile history between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp that very much predates this race. But the tensions between them are red hot, as you mentioned early voting gets underway. In Kemp's capacity as secretary of state of the state of Georgia, his job is oversight of elections. Now, Stacey Abrams is calling for him to step down from that position.

The problem here being that more than 53,000 voter registration applications, they are on hold. The problem, as the state sees it, is that they have failed to clear the state's exact match standard. This is a policy that has been passed under Brian Kemp. And to add to the scope of this problem, 7 in 10 of those 53,000 voter applications that are on hold, those belong to African-Americans. Now, Stacey Abrams has openly accused Brian Kemp of voter suppression. She did that yesterday on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, and this morning, we're hearing Brian Kemp fire back.


BRIAN KEMP (R), GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: That's a smoke screen trying to hide her radical views. Those folks that are on the pending list, all they have to do is go to the polls, show their photo I.D. and they can vote. Again, this is just a distraction from her view of her group's filing a lawsuit to get non-citizens to vote in the state of Georgia. We're not going to allow that. We're going to have secure, accessible, and fair elections in our state. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARTUNG: So there you have it. Kemp says those 53,000 pending applications -- those voters can go to the polls. They just need to show identification when they do so. But it doesn't change the fact that Stacey Abrams says he's eroding public trust in our system.

SCIUTTO: Well, the -- but he just made a claim there. Is there any basis to the claim that this is a way to get non-state residents to vote in this election? Does that claim stand up?

HARTUNG: Well, Stacey Abrams has been so heavily involved over a long period of time in her political career of trying to get unregistered voters to vote for the first time, to go through that process. Now, I can tell you, I haven't personally dug through every one of those applications that she has encouraged voters to submit. But the tactics that both of them are using at this point to attack each other, it can't be surprising that such serious allegations are being leveled.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, and there's nothing - you know, first -- getting first-time voters to vote is not proof of voter fraud. Kaylee Hartung, thank you very much for following the story.

HARLOW: Nothing of the sort. All right, so in minutes, President Trump will land in Florida. You saw him as he was departing the White House to tour the devastation in the Panhandle. You still have dozens of people unaccounted for in the town hardest hit by Hurricane Michael.


[10:57:43] SCIUTTO: We're three weeks and a day away from the midterm elections. We want to know what issues are bringing you to the polls this year.

HARLOW: So, every morning leading up to the midterms we're hearing from you across the country, voters, and we're bringing you the thoughts of your fellow voters across the country in our "Why I'm Voting" segment. Here's what you told us today.


JACK SIMPSON, VOTER FROM DENTON TEXAS: I'm passionate about the Second Amendment. Illegal immigration is a big deal, but also just civility in politics. Seems like the left, we just saw Ted Cruz get chased out of a restaurant. It seems like a lot of that goes on (INAUDIBLE) side.

NIKITA DREVAL, VOTER FROM NEW YORK: I definitely feel like Republicans aren't really seeing eye to eye with Democrats. They're sort of -- they're just playing, I guess you could say, unfairly. They're certainly not respecting the bipartisan nature of our government.

DENNIS MCLASH, VOTER: If you're a once every four years voter, things get out of hand in between things. I want to make sure that in my view the Republicans need to remain in control in Texas.

MIGUEL CORTES, VOTER FROM NEW YORK: Mainly the immigration issue that's making me want to go out and vote. And voice my support. We're all sort of either immigrants ourselves or children of immigrants. And we don't want to see our communities be, you know, taken out or deported.


SCIUTTO: So tell us why you're voting. You can weigh in on the conversation by posting a video to Instagram telling us what is pushing you to the polls this year. Just use the hashtag #whyivotecnn.

HARLOW: Also, a headline for you this morning, longtime national retail chain Sears has filed for bankruptcy. The 132-year-old company made the move shortly after midnight last night. According to reports, the company could not pay off a $134 million debt due today. Sears issued a statement saying it intends to stay in business, keeping open stores that are profitable along with Sears and Kmart websites. Sears holding has about 700 stores and 68,000 employees in this country.

Thanks so much for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. It's just Monday if you could believe it. "AT THIS HOUR" with our colleague, Kate Bolduan starts right now.