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Shooter Kills Two in Attack on Yoga Class; Funeral Services Continue for Those Killed in Synagogue Shooting; Candidates Avoid Issue of Gun Control for Midterms; President Obama Campaigns for Democratic Candidate for Midterms; Fact Checker Examines President Trump's False Statements; Analyst Examines Vulnerability of U.S. Electoral Infrastructure. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 3, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:12] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: So glad to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Saturday to you. We are just days away now, three days from one of the most heated midterm elections in recent memory. Republicans running on a booming economy, also the fear of a Democratic takeover. Democrats are running on a referendum of the president and his party.
PAUL: The biggest issue that no one is really talking about on either side right now is gun violence, even though on average 96 Americans are killed every day by guns. That's more than 30,000 in a given year. Exactly a week ago this hour 11 people were shot and killed in Pittsburgh as they prayed. And then last night two people were murdered in Florida, the same state where the Parkland shooting happened earlier this year. CNN national correspondent Dianne Gallagher has the latest for us right now. Dianne?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, Victor, this was at a yoga studio, simply a class practicing hot yoga in Tallahassee, Florida. A gunman came in and shot five people and then pistol whipped another before police say they believed he then turned the gun on himself. Two of those women that he shot died, 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem and a 21-year-old Maura Binkley.
Authorities have identified the shooter as 40-year-old Scott Beierle. And at this point they don't know the connection is to that yoga studio at all. They know that he went in, that he began shooting, and that the women inside, those students of yoga tried to fight back. Again, he did pistol whip one of the students as well.
According to authorities, three of those victims have already been released from the hospital, the other two remain in stable condition. At the time, Andrew Gillum, who had been on the campaign trail, he's a Democratic candidate for governor in Florida, had been on the campaign trail with former president Obama, he said I'm going to go back, I'm going to stop campaigning, go back to Tallahassee because he is the mayor of Tallahassee. And Governor Rick Scott, who is also running, he is a Republican candidate for Senator in Florida, has said that he has also returned to Tallahassee. Both of them, Christi, Victor, thanked law enforcement for the quick response. They arrived within three minutes. By that time, they say the gunman had already killed himself, and of course, those two who were killed and the others who were injured.
BLACKWELL: So is this the point at which or is it too soon that they start talking about gun violence in their respective races or are they avoiding it?
GALLAGHER: I don't know that I would say that they're avoiding it, Victor. Andrew Gillum has talked about it pretty consistently. But look, I think we've seen this on the political campaign trails. President Trump has been setting the tone. You guys mentioned here when you were talking about this, this is where the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School happened in February, killing 17 people. There was a shooting at a videogame tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida is no stranger to these mass shootings, particularly this year. And there was this political movement after what happened in Parkland led by those students and the people in that community there that really has continued on. It developed a lot of attention. People rallied around them throughout the country, and that seems to have faded when it comes to attention- wise, both in the media and of course on the trail. Nothing from the president so far, though, on this shooting at the yoga studio.
PAUL: Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much for the update.
And right now private shabbat services are under way at Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh for the three congregations that were targeted in last week's attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue. All week long there has been a global outpouring of support for Jewish communities as families buried their loved ones.
BLACKWELL: Now a new campaign called Show Up for Shabbat is asking all Americans to show up to synagogues this weekend and fight anti- Semitism. CNN correspondent Jean Casarez is outside of the Tree of Life Synagogue. We see this growing memorial behind you. What more are you seeing there, Jean?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here is the important aspect. It was exactly one week ago today right now when this was all happening. And as you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue is a crime scene, it's an active investigation crime scene. So they are having a shabbat service right behind me here. And this is where everyone from the community was welcomed. It is Rabbi Chuck Diamond who is speaking right now. And I just listened in a little bit. And he was talking about that at this very moment is when it happened a week ago. And he said on the Sabbath we, as rabbis, do not carry our cell phones. But Rabbi Myers last week had his cell phone on him, and he was hiding in the choir loft and he called 911. And Rabbi Diamond just said today I have my cell phone on me also.
[10:05:00] So it is a large gathering. It is a rainy, rainy day. But not too far from here, the three congregations that were actually in the synagogue last week are celebrating together the Sabbath, and we understand that during that shabbat service which is going on now, they just had a minute and 11 seconds of silence, 11 seconds for every victim whose life was taken last week at this very time.
BLACKWELL: Jean Casarez there at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Thank you so much.
PAUL: And of course there is a man who is tasked with bringing this community together, and that is Tree of Life Synagogue Rabbi Jeffrey Myers.
BLACKWELL: And he invited CNN's Alisyn Camerota to see the place of the crime at the synagogue behind Jean, and how the community is trying to heal.
RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: These just showed up. We didn't put them here.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: They just organically showed up. And these are the names of the victims.
MYERS: These are all the names of the victims and it just showed up. And this is an outpouring of love from countless people. I am floored by the love. I don't know where the tents came from. These weren't here yesterday.
CAMEROTA: Is that right?
MYERS: The rain is coming in. Somebody brought in tents. This is amazing.
CAMEROTA: To shelter all of these --
MYERS: This was not done by the synagogue, we didn't do this. The community did this. And I'm just amazed. Amazed.
CAMEROTA: And so what is it like for you to walk around here just six days after you ran for your life from this building?
MYERS: It was painful. It still is. It's painful. I mean, I know it's part of the grieving process, but I'm a witness. I'm a victim. I'm a survivor. And I'm also a pastor, but I'm also a human. And I stand here and I'm in pain.
CAMEROTA: Are you scared when you see this building?
MYERS: No, I'm not scared. I'm angry. How dare you defile our holy space. What made you think you could ever do that? How would you feel if someone did that to your mother's house of worship? How would you feel? And those are questions he is going to have to deal with.
CAMEROTA: But you sense anxiety and fear from the community?
MYERS: Yes. Yes, they're afraid.
CAMEROTA: They're afraid it is going to happen again.
CAMEROTA: You've been so stoical on national TV, and you have given your message of love and to tone down the hate. I just wonder, do you have moments where you breakdown or are you still on adrenaline?
MYERS: Perfect example. After the last funeral today, it was the last one, I appreciate the fact that outside, there's a side there with a contemplative garden. I just sat down there and cried like a baby. I couldn't stop. I thought the procession was waiting for me, I couldn't stop. It just came out. Couldn't stop. Because I haven't held it in me nonstop, but this is the last funeral, and every time I do one, particularly for me, when I chant the memorial prayer, it takes a piece of my soul away. And I have no more left to give. My tank is empty.
CAMEROTA: And so what do you say to your congregants who say why, how does this happen, why, how does God let this happen?
MYERS: I don't believe God lets this stuff happen. Humans have a choice. And this person made this choice. To me, God is the one I turn to when I have no strength to say God, give me strength to get through this. And that's what I do. Every moment of every day, give me strength. And somehow God does.
CAMEROTA: And all of the people that lined up here, why are they here? What do you think they're coming here to do?
MYERS: The community is just mourning. This is Pittsburgh, and this is what Pittsburgh is. We're one community, and Pittsburgh is hurting. And we're here to mourn. This is what Pittsburgh is about. That's what makes Pittsburgh such a special place.
CAMEROTA: Are you ever going back into this building?
MYERS: Yes. We're going to do whatever is the necessary work. We have to redo our sanctuary. We have to sit and figure out how and what that means and what's the best choice in terms of what to do. We'll sit and spend time and plan properly, and we will rebuild in whatever way we need to, and we'll be back.
CAMEROTA: Seeing those gun bullet holes through the door, through the glass door, that's really chilling.
MYERS: It is. It is. I walked through the sanctuary. It is a horror. It's worse than any sci-fi film because it is real, it's not phony Hollywood.
[10:10:00] I never think I'd live to see that horror in my life. Because I face anti-Semitism before, I faced it growing up as a kid. So I never thought I would see the horror of this ever, ever.
CAMEROTA: Just show me here what stands out to you. Show me when you come to look at this outpouring of the community.
MYERS: It's the sheer immensity of love. It gives me hope because it reminds me there are so many good people, and this gives me strength to say hate will never win.
PAUL: Thank you to Alisyn Camerota there.
Campaign surrogates are fanning across the country, they're talking about jobs, they're talking about the economy, they're talking about immigration. But after the headlines that you see this morning, a lot of you may be wondering, why are both sides seemingly avoiding the topic of gun violence?
[10:15:00] PAUL: It is the final weekend before Tuesday's midterm. President Trump holding two rallies today, one in Montana, another in Florida.
BLACKWELL: He's reminding his core supporters of the booming economy, and things economically are doing well, and the Supreme Court picks. Also warning them that a Democratic blue wave will bring a crime wave. One thing he is staying away from, though, gun violence. CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood joins us live. Sarah, good morning to you.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Victor. And President Trump is not really talking guns on the campaign trail beyond threatening that the individual Democrats he is campaigning against will take away people's guns. He is much more focused on immigration and to a lesser extent the economy with those good job numbers coming out yesterday.
And for better or worse, it is Trump who is controlling the conversation this election. And not just the national conversation but he's also setting terms of debate in some of the most competitive races across the country, and in particular in Senate races in states that he won. And national Democrats are often having to spend time on the campaign trail responding to or rebutting what Trump is talking about, and maybe in some individual House races, they have been able to keep the focus on things they want to be talking about, like the popularity of Obamacare.
But for the most part, Democrats are not really in control of what is getting discussed. And that means gun control is not as much a part of the national conversation despite the shootings that we've seen unfold over recent weeks. And what's more, a national gun control push could actually hurt some of the most vulnerable Democrats who are running in those red states.
Former president Obama reemerged on the political scene this week. He was out stumping for some Democrats, accusing President Trump of using division as a tool in this election but also spending time talking about issues that Trump decided to champion this cycle. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to take away your good health care and essentially use socialism to turn America into Venezuela. And Democrats want to totally open the borders. They have the caravan, let them in. Do you want to let them in? Does anybody want to let them in?
CROWD: Build that wall! Build that wall!
TRUMP: You're right.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The consequences of any of us staying home really are profound because America is at a crossroads. The health care of millions of people are on the ballot. Making sure working families get a fair shake is on the ballot. But maybe most of all, the character of our country is on the ballot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WESTWOOD: The president has seven rallies left on the books between now and Election Day. He will spend those continuing to focus on immigration and the economy while Obama and other national Democrats try to preserve hopes of a blue wave as many of these competitive races tighten into tossups with just a couple of days left before voters cast their ballots, Victor and Christi.
PAUL: All right, Sarah Westwood, appreciate it very much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about gun violence. It's something President Trump is not talking about at these rallies, and even statewide candidates, congressional candidates are not talking much about it in their ads especially. Take a look at this. This is a Bloomberg map of campaign issues, showing what every state sees as they're swamped with political ads. The green is health care, yellow taxes, orange jobs. There's environment, and infrastructure mixed in as well. The only place in the country they're running ads on guns is a small area in California.
So why aren't more people talking about guns? Joining me now, Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former spokesman for Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal, and Tharon Johnson, former south regional director for the Obama 2012 campaign and president and CEO of the consulting group. Let me come to you first, Brian. President Trump promised action on gun violence. He is not even talking about it any more. Where is the action, where even is the rhetoric?
BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I feel like this gun debate is on autorepeat every time we have one of these shootings. Everybody of course is terrified of this atmosphere that we have now, this back to back shootings this week. Of course, we've had even worse ones in the past. The reason you're not seeing President Trump talk about it on the campaign trail now is because we know where he stands. We know that he is for protecting gun rights, which is protecting constitutional rights, which is where his voters want him to be.
BLACKWELL: We also know where he stands on immigration, but he talks about that every day.
ROBINSON: He sees that as a great way to motivate his base because it is an issue that's very important to people in his coalition.
[10:20:04] They see our rule of law being ignored, they see a wave of people continuing to come in, and they want to see action on it. So it's a great issue to talk about because it's a great divide between these two parties now.
But on guns, look, we know where President Trump stands, and if he goes out there today and gives his opinion on it, which is we have got to protect constitutional rights, there are 300 million guns out in this country today, there's no way that gun control is going to stop gun violence without confiscating guns. That's the truth. But if he goes out there and says that today, what's going to happen? The media is going to tear him up about it for the next three days heading into the election. That's not the topic he wants to be talking about before Tuesday.
BLACKWELL: He actually already did say before he took it back that he wanted to take guns and then due process, but the president promised to do something about gun violence, now he is not even talking about it.
But let me come to you Tharon on Democrats here. After the massacre in Parkland in February and then the March for our Lives in March, there were Congressional Democrats standing in solidarity with students of Parkland, saying that they were going to make this an issue in the midterms. Where are those Democrats now? Is it because, as Sarah suggested a few moments ago, that it would be inconvenient to have a national conversation for Democrats running in Montana, Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia?
THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTHERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012: Victor, one of the Democrats that actually led the effort toward gun control and gun safety in this country was Andrew Gillum. That's why I am in Florida right now to campaign for him to be the next governor of Florida. You have got to remember that Andrew Gillum throughout his campaign for governor has not only said he wants to ban assault weapons to reduce crime violence in this country and gun violence, but also he has gone a step further, Victor. He said that he does not believe that people who have a domestic violence record should be able to own guns in their homes. And we know that polls and surveys show that women in particular who live in a house with a domestic violence person with a record are more likely to basically be assaulted.
I think what you just saw in Tallahassee is so unfortunate. I definitely want to give my condolences to the two victims and the other people who were wounded. But what you had was a person with multiple guns, and there's still an ongoing investigation whether this was a domestic incident or not, but to walk into a studio, a hot yoga studio with the intent to harm people and to use a gun to impose your hatred, therein lies how people feel motivated by the rhetoric that they hear from this president.
BLACKWELL: Let me turn to something else. This is from a rally yesterday, Brian. And this is President Trump using his predecessor's name for some political reason potentially. Let's watch what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is no surprise that Joe Donnelly is holding a rally this weekend with Barack H. Obama.
TRUMP: Barack Obama. I watched him speak today. He had a very small crowd. They don't talk about that, and they never talk about how big our crowds are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: President Obama's middle name is Hussein. What's the purpose of emphasizing the "H" in President Obama's name, Brian?
ROBINSON: Well, that is his name. The president just said his name. You can say J. Donald Trump if you would like to, if you think that would incite him to anger in some way. The boos that you heard there in the audience weren't because the president said "H." The boos were there because the audience doesn't like President Obama's record in office and they want it changed.
BLACKWELL: What's the purpose of the "H"?
ROBINSON: It is his name. It is his name.
BLACKWELL: That response suggests that you do not take any of the context of the last 11 years of when Hussein was a big deal in the 2007 campaign.
ROBINSON: I don't think that that crowd was in was incited in any way by the use of that initial. I think it was going to get the same response because Barack Obama is a known entity with that audience. And look, we are days away from a campaign. The fact that the president is drawing dividing lines between a well-known Democrat that really gets Republicans fired up is not at all surprising. But I don't see anything inherently offensive about using the guy's name. ' is his name.
JOHNSON: Brian and I, we talk about this a lot. It was not so much what Donald Trump did, but it was to your point, Victor, the inference of sort of pausing and saying "H." And I do think that motivated that crowd who are these Trump followers who have been following Trump with his dog whistle tactics since he has been running for president.
[10:25:06] But the bottom line is this, and Brian is right. We're three days from a major election. And I just really hope that voters go to the voting box and vote for candidates who have a plan to reduce gun violence and try to bring some sensible gun control and gun safety laws to our country, because the only way you can change this rhetoric from the right, this radicalism that we hear from the right, is vote them out. I really hope voters take advantage of that on Tuesday.
ROBINSON: And I will point out that President Obama was taking some shots at Donald Trump in his speech there, by saying this is about the character of the nation. He is saying he thinks Donald Trump had bad character.
JOHNSON: Yes, but, Brian, you know that Donald Trump has bad character. You can't come on this show and say that Donald Trump has good character. There's no way you can associate good character or compassionate in any form or fashion with Donald Trump. Donald Trump has bad character. He has been insulting Americans, people who want to migrate to this country legally, since he has been in office. And so you can't say this president has good character at all.
ROBINSON: Tharon, I love you, but if Donald Trump talked about Barack Obama's character, you would call it a dog whistle.
JOHNSON: He was the same guy who basically questioned whether or not President Obama was a citizen of the United States or not. So let's talk about character. This is the same man who led a birther movement where he forced the president to come out and show that he was an American citizen. He also implied things about the former president's daughter. He also said some things about the first lady. President Obama has never attacked President Trump's children or attacked his character on a personal level, but he has attacked his record.
ROBINSON: He did yesterday.
JOHNSON: No, he's attacked his record. He is a president that basically lacked a level of humanization when it comes to the issue where we have 11 people murdered, Brian, who basically a person went into this place to basically murder these folks while they were worshipping, and the president has said nothing about it.
ROBINSON: That's not because of Donald Trump.
BLACKWELL: We have to end it there. Brian Robinson, Tharon Johnson, thank you very much.
JOHNSON: Thank you, guys.
ROBINSON: Thank you.
PAUL: You can tell by the conversations, this is a critical election. There's a lot at stake. The balance of power in Congress, 36 gubernatorial races, thousands of local elections. We're bringing you all of the key races with up to the minute results. Our special live coverage starts no election night starts at 5:00 eastern.
And the president, you know he says he always wants to tell the truth. According to folks at the "The Washington Post" factchecker blog, the president is struggling with that, in fact, with more than 6,000 false statements.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth. Sometimes it turns out to be where something happens it's different or there's a change, but I always like to be truthful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: That was President Trump with Jonathan Karl of ABC News. He tells the truth when he can. It's a remarkable admission, and according to folks at "The Washington Post" factchecker blog, the president is increasingly not telling the truth, and at a dramatic rate. According to "The Post," in the first nine months of his administration, President Trump made on average five false or misleading claims a day. But in the seven weeks leading up to midterm elections, his daily average is up to 30 false or misleading claims every day. And whether it is about the migrant caravan, a tax cut, health care, or the Saudi arms deal, the president is just not telling you the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Eastern. You're going to find everything.
They have a lot of everybody in that group. It is a horrible thing. And it's a lot bigger than 5,000 people.
We are going to be putting in and are studying very deeply right now around the clock a major tax cut for middle income people, not for business at all, for middle income people. I would say sometime around the first of November, maybe a little before that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to react to Senator Elizabeth Warren releasing results to her DNA test?
TRUMP: No, I have no. Who cares? Who cares?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you said you would give $1 million to charity.
TRUMP: I didn't say that. You better read it again.
We have $450 billion, $110 billion of which is a military order, but this is equipment and various things ordered from Saudi Arabia, $450 billion.
We're talking about over 40,000 jobs.
It's 450,000 jobs.
It's 500,000 jobs.
It's 600,000 jobs, maybe more than that.
Talking about over a million jobs. We will always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. We're
going to take care of them. Some of the Democrats have been talking about ending pre-existing conditions.
I don't think we like sanctuary cities up here. By the way, a lot of people in California don't want them either. They're rioting now. They want to get out of their sanctuary cities.
I remember Dick Grasso, a friend of mine, great guy. He headed up New York Stock Exchange and September 11th, and New York Stock Exchange was open the following day. He said what they had to do to open it you wouldn't believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The latest count from "The Washington Post" factchecker blog shows the president has made 6,420 false or misleading claims since Inauguration Day, 6,420 in 649 days.
[10:35:00] When we started highlighting that running tally earlier this year, I searched for a way to make something conceptual like a false statement tangible, visual. And I remembered a party game I hated as a kid, guessing the number of gumballs in a jar. Remember that one? Ever since, we've used jars of gumballs to show you the president's thousands of false claims and sometimes downright lies.
And here's the latest count -- 6,420 gumballs. We've now filled 11- and-a-half jars fewer than two years into term. When we started this in January, I just went to a local party supply store and filled a cart with whichever gumballs they had in the store. There are so many now that we buy the gumballs from a wholesaler.
Let's look at the last couple of months. According to "The Post," September, 2018, was President Trump's second biggest month with a total of 599 bogus claims. The biggest month of false claims, October, 2018, with more than 1,100. The president is just not telling you the truth.
And joining me now, Glenn Kessler, the factchecker columnist at "The Washington Post." Glenn, thank you so much for the work you do at "The Post. First question I want to ask you, you all use the classification of false statement and misleading statement and not lie. Why?
GLENN KESSLER, THE FACT CHECKER COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I can't get into the president's head and determine whether he realizes that what he is saying is completely false. He tends to be very situational and he may say something one day, and may say something exactly the opposite the next day, and it's unclear whether or not he realizes that he's switched like that. There is one instance where we did document and use the word lie, and that had to do with statements concerning payments to Stormy Daniels, because we could definitely point that he clearly knew what he was saying was false.
BLACKWELL: So let's talk about numbers here. We're now at 6,420. If he says the same thing, makes the same false claim, or false statement 10 times, that's counted 10 times, right? Walk me through the numbers.
KESSLER: Right. Each time he says a false statement in a particular venue or setting. If he says three times in one rally that he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history when in fact it is only eighth, we would only count that as one. But if he says it at the rally and then he also says it to the press before the rally and has an interview after the rally, that would be three separate times.
BLACKWELL: Is this the first time the post has done this type of fact checking blog for a president, checking every statement? For instance, how would President Obama have stacked up?
KESSLER: We have had the fact checker for 11 years now. So we obviously did fact check President Obama, and he earned lots of four Pinocchio ratings. But this day by day tally we had to start for President Trump because he says so many things that are false. And frankly we were looking at it as a way to put the easy checked false things in a category, and therefore we could devote longer fact checks to more substantive issues. It has just become a little overwhelming, particularly in the last couple of months.
BLACKWELL: You write in the latest report, the burden of keeping track of the verbiage consumed the weekends and nights of fact checker staff. We thank you for the work you do at the blog at "The Post. Glenn Kessler, thanks so much.
KESSLER: You're welcome.
PAUL: The midterm elections of course just three days away. And Facebook has deleted 1.3 billion fake accounts. How social media users may be undermining your vote.
[10:43:29] BLACKWELL: Two people are dead after a partial building collapsed at an Amazon facility, this was in southeast Baltimore. An employee who was working in the building at the time there spoke to our affiliate WBAL and said it sounded like bombs were dropping everywhere and that he could see the walls were caving in.
PAUL: Fire officials are using thermal imaging equipment to determine if anyone else may be trapped inside. The cause of the collapse, they still don't know that.
Millions of us have already cast votes, right? Millions more are going to do so Tuesday. But questions remain about whether those votes are safe, and whether voters themselves have been influenced by online trolls. Twitter has just deleted thousands of automated accounts that were posting messages discouraging people from voting. Most of the accounts were posting as Democrats. And Facebook says it deleted almost 1.3 billion fake accounts in a six-month period. CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd is with us. So Sam, most of us are on social media a lot. Can we trust what we are seeing? SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think so,
Christi, particularly before a high profile event like U.S. elections. The bottom line up front here is that our adversaries probably consider the information domain the place where they get the most bang for the buck. You look at something like Twitter. Twitter has more users than America has Americans. Of course those are global users, but the point is that with a simple retweet of a conspiracy theory, a lie, misinformation, or inflammatory content, especially from someone like President Trump, they get to reach so many American voters instantaneously, which is very different than traditional means of trying to use propaganda or other covert activities.
[10:45:14] PAUL: So I want to play some sound from Michael Daniel, President Obama's former cyber czar. I spoke with him a couple of hours ago. And he said beyond social media, the electoral infrastructure is what's really vulnerable. We're talking about local and state voting machines, voter databases, tabulation reporting. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL DANIEL, PRESIDENT, CYBER THREAT ALLIANCE: Unfortunately those systems are incredibly vulnerable still. The states and local jurisdictions have made significant investments in many areas and improved the situation considerably since 2016, but many of those systems remain very vulnerable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: State and local systems and jurisdictions surely can't be financially prepared to take care of what has to be done to secure all of that. How valuable can the federal government be? Would they come in and try to solidify some of those systems?
VINOGRAD: They would. As you remember, the former department of homeland security Jeh Johnson designated our election infrastructures critical infrastructure, which really means that the federal government is sharing a lot more threat information with state and local election committees and personnel, as well as helping them respond to attacks once they've happened.
We also allocated more funding to try to protect this infrastructure, but that's over five years, and we know according to DHS that the Russians at least tried to penetrate all 50 states. So the threat is really massive. And that really comes back to a key point, Christi, which is we need to focus on defense of our systems but also deterrence of attacks, whether it be against election infrastructure or information warfare.
PAUL: Very good point. Samantha Vinograd, always appreciate you being here. Thank you.
VINOGRAD: Thanks, Christi.
BLACKWELL: Now to this fight in the classroom at Maywood Academy High School in California. A teacher and student got into a brutal fight during class and it was caught by a cell phone camera.
PAUL: Students in the class say the classmate was asked to leave because he wasn't dressed in proper uniform. But look at this. Things got out of control. Apparently the student refused to leave, shouted racial slurs at the teacher who is black. Then the student threw a basketball at him. Students say that's what pushed the teacher over the edge. One student told our affiliate at KTLA that this was all set up, because everyone had their cell phones out ready to capture all of it.
BLACKWELL: The teacher was arrested, the student was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The Los Angeles school district says they are cooperating with the sheriff's office. Detectives with the agency's special victims bureau are investigating now.
HBO fires back at President Trump with some fire and ice -- get it? OK -- after this "Game of Thrones" themed tweet regarding sanctions on Iran.
[10:52:26] PAUL: You might remember President Trump's tweets on Iran sanctions this week. I want you to see it here. A photo of a stern looking President Trump with the phrase "Sanctions are Coming." It is a play on the motto "Winter is Coming" from HBO's popular series "Game of Thrones" of course.
A prominent Iranian military leader has responded in kind, look at this. This is on Instagram. "I will stand against you." The Instagram account belongs to a major general in Iran's elite forces and is believed to officially be sanctioned by him.
HBO, which shares a parent company with CNN, responded to the president's original tweet, saying they would prefer if the trademark wasn't misappropriated for political purposes. On Twitter, HBO gave another, more humorous response. "How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?" Referring to one of the show's fictional languages.
BLACKWELL: We want you to meet another of this year's top ten CNN heroes. More than 40 million Americans do not have enough food, yet at the same time up to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted every year. It's a paradox that Maria Rose Belding saw firsthand when she was in the eighth grade. And what she did about that, that's why she's one of this year's top ten CNN heroes.
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MARIA ROSE BELDING, MEANS, FOUNDER: There was a food pantry in my church that I grew up working in. You would have way too much of one thing and would be in desperate need of a different thing. Inevitably, some of it would expire. And I ended up throwing a lot of it away. When I was 14, I realized that doesn't make sense. The Internet was right in front of us. That's such an obvious thing to fix. You would really think the novelty of it would wear off. It doesn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Maria's nonprofit MEANS has helped redistribute more than 1.8 million pounds of food since 2015. Go to CNNHeroes.com right now to vote for her for CNN hero of the year or for any other of your favorites. Again, it's CNNHeroes.com.
PAUL: And we always appreciate you being here. We hope you make good memories today.
BLACKWELL: Much more ahead in the next hour of CNN Newsroom. Our colleague Fredricka Whitfield takes it over after a quick break.