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CNN NEWSROOM

One-on-One with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg; Trump Organization Braces for Democratic Investigations; Heated Debate Ahead of Runoff for Mississippi Senate Seat; CDC: Do Not Eat Any Romaine Lettuce. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 21, 2018 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[10:30:40]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Pressure on Facebook CEO is mounting as problems, questions, controversies pile up for the social network. Now, Mark Zuckerberg is opening up about his future at the company in an exclusive interview with CNN.

CNN's Business Senior Technology Correspondent, Laurie Segall joins us with more now. I mean, fantastic you get to sit-down with him. He is not an easy man to sit across the table from. On this question of his future, a lot of investors have raised that question. He is of course a majority shareholder. It have to be voluntary but when you ask him those questions, any sign that he'd would be willing to go? I assume no.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, I think the big question is does Mark Zuckerberg have too much power? And also, another question, if you look at a lot of these different reports that have come out, where there's Cambridge Analytica, the bombshell "New York Times" report that came out. They don't paint Sheryl Sandberg in a great light either. And a lot of folks are wondering about Sheryl Sandberg's future, his number two. So I asked him about that Jim. I asked him about, is he too powerful and also what is going to happen to Sheryl Sandberg. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL: There are a lot of questions now about Sheryl Sandberg's role in the latest controversy. Can you definitively say Sheryl will stay in her same role?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Yes. Look, Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts to address a lot of the -- biggest issues that we have. And she has been an important partner for me for 10 years. And you know, I'm really proud of the work that we have done together. And I hope that we work together for decades more to come. SEGALL: Are you going to make changes? Not even looking at this crisis, looking at a lot of different ones over the last year. Are you making any changes in your top leadership?

ZUCKERBERG: Well if you look at the management team at the end of 2018, you know, it's quite different from what it was at the beginning of the year. On the product and engineering side, I completely restructured things. So I think we are leaving this here with a much stronger team in place.

SEGALL: You are CEO and chairman of Facebook. That is an extraordinary amount of power, given that you rule a kingdom of two billion people digitally. Shouldn't your power be checked?

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. I think that ultimately the issues that we are working on here, you know things like preventing interference in elections from other countries, finding the balance between giving people a voice and keeping people safe, these are not issues that any one company can address, right? So when I talk about addressing these, you know I always talk about how we need to partner with governments around the world and other companies and nonprofits and other sectors. So, yes, I don't think fundamentally that we are going to be able to address all these issues by ourselves.

SEGALL: So you are not stepping down as chairman.

ZUCKERBERG: That's not the plan.

SEGALL: That's not the plan. Would anything change that?

ZUCKERBERG: I mean, eventually over time. I'm not going to be doing this forever. But I certainly am not going to be thinking that it makes sense.

SEGALL: This idea of transparency is important. We keep hearing it. Then you have these reports coming out that say something otherwise. So how do you ensure that you do win back public trust? I think this is an incredibly pivotal point for the company and for you as a leader because it certainly seems over the last year we haven't stopped hearing about, you know one thing after the next that shows otherwise that the company hasn't been as transparent.

ZUCKERBERG: Yes. Well, look, there are always going to be issues. If you are serving a community of more than 2 billion people, there is going to be someone who is posting something that is problematic that gets through the systems that we have in place no matter how advanced the systems are. And I think by and large a lot of the criticism around the biggest issues has been fair. But I do think that if we are going to be real there is this bigger picture as well which is that we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering this.

SEGALL: But if we have given the world a voice, look at what has happened in the last year. You've had elections in the last year. Elections manipulated. Hate speech has gone viral and turned off lines. It certainly seems like this mission has been accomplished in many ways and there is a whole new set of problems that perhaps you guys didn't foresee. And now we are in a very complicated place where there is not an easy solution.

[10:35:01] ZUCKERBERG: Yes. These are complex issues that you can't fix. You manage them on an ongoing basis. But look, do you think that the world is better with everyone having a voice and having the ability to express their opinion and being able to connect to who they want? I don't think we are going back to a world where there were just a handful of gate keepers who got to control what ideas get expressed.

(CROSSTALK)

And even if we could -- I'm trying to make it so we are not. I mean, that's why making it so that we are building these independent governance mechanisms and things like that are really important and that is work that I really care about. But I think that the world will keep on moving in this direction. More people will keep on getting a voice. I think that that is good. And I think there are certainly going to be issues that we need to work through overtime. But I think while we are doing that we can't lose sight of all of the really positive things that are happening here, as well.

Even if you just think about the economic impact of what we are doing, you know we served 80 million small businesses around the world. About half of them have told us that they are hiring people because of using our tools and that without Facebook and the tools that we provide, that their business would be significantly smaller and they wouldn't be hiring as many people as they are.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: Listen, just a fascinating interview, joined by Laurie Segall now, of course, across from the Facebook's CEO. I'm going to ask you a tough question because listen to both the earlier segment and this one. And you pressed them on a lot of issues. And listen, to his credit, he acknowledged responsibility and said a number of times I take responsibility, I'm the CEO.

But I wonder if in your many conversations with him and others at Facebook, whether the idea that something really needs to change has penetrated the bubble, if you want to call it that there, but the mindset there. Is there a realization that not just superficial changes are necessary, but that Facebook feels it has a responsibility to make more substantive changes? I'm curious.

SEGALL: It's an interesting question. Look, you walk in, Jim, and there are all these signs on the wall that had these mantras of you know do the right thing and they say all these, they have inspiring quotes about what they want to do and what they're coding behind these closed doors. And then you have the outside view of you know all this era of unintended consequences where we have seen a lot of really negative things happening.

And I think the Facebook mentality -- I think there is a bit of a filter bubble, right? The Facebook mentality is that they are on top of these issues and they've made changes where I think in the outside, people say, but there need to be more changes, and you hear over and over again, you know we didn't take a long enough view and we want to be proactive and not reactive.

But you know, I also asked Mark, you know, can -- without completely changing things, can you rule Facebook now compared to when you built it from your dorm? Do you need to completely change that leadership? But I think that's a question a lot of folks are asking and I think internally a lot of employees - a lot of people are on board and believe in that mission. And then there are the people afraid to speak up and you know who think otherwise, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And the company you know who has its own interest at heart, can it regulate itself in effect. We don't let banks regulate themselves. We don't let television stations regulate themselves. You know will Congress make a decision that these tech companies need that kind of oversight? Laurie Segall, appreciate it, fascinating interview.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's a great interview and a great question, Jim. I mean there are senators pushing for that. We have invited them on the program. Hopefully they will join us soon. Because Europe regulate these companies a lot now. So will the U.S. do the same? We will stay on it.

Ahead for us, Democrats winning back the House may cause more than just a political headache for President Trump. Will the Trump organization, his family's private company -- they are scrambling in the aftermath of the midterms. Cristina Alesci breaks it down, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:43:27] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. So does the coming Democratic takeover of the House spell trouble for the Trump organization? This morning, CNN has learned the president's family business is bracing for potential Democratic-led investigations.

CNN business and politics correspondent, Cristina Alesci, has been digging in on this. She joins me now. You know you look at Trump org, Cristina. It's already currently facing multiple investigations from state and federal authorities.

But this is fascinating. In your piece you say one source familiar with the company told CNN, quote, "The worse thing for the business would be a change of control in Congress." Well, they got it.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Partially, yes, the House Democrats and this poses an entirely new threat to the organization, one that it has not seen before. Democrats can now demand answers to the questions that they have been posing for two years about potential money laundering, about potential payments from foreign governments -

HARLOW: Right.

ALESCI: -- about President Trump's tax returns. And they can go ahead and do that because they have control of powerful committees. And I'm told that in the days after the election, Trump organization executives huddled on calls to discuss the possible implications of an on slot of requests. And they told they reminded staff to preserve records and they also discussed the possibility of bringing on additional counsel which would be a big move for the organization.

HARLOW: Lawyers.

ALESCI: Exactly, that specializes in government investigations. What about Michael Cohen and how he complicates all of this potentially?

ALESCI: He is definitely an outlier and it is a concern that he may provide something. We know that he's talked to federal authorities before. So that's definitely an outlier.

[10:45:01] Remember, that in Congress, Adam Schiff, the incoming chairman of the Intel Committee has said that he wants to question Trump organization executives including the Allen Weisselberg, the CFO who we always talked about and the general counsel, Alan Garten. So there are specific targets also that Congress is looking at. But bringing in new counsel would be a big move for the organization because it's really relied on a small group of attorneys. It wants to keep costs low and it also wants to control information going in and out of the firm.

HARLOW: Really interesting reporting. You can read it all, everyone, on cnn.com. Thank you. Have a good Thanksgiving.

ALESCI: You too.

HARLOW: Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, a heated debate in a Mississippi Senate runoff election. Next, see how the Republican candidate who jokes about going to a public hanging tried to turn the tables on her opponent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:50:16] HARLOW: The two candidates in the runoff for Mississippi Senate seat, faced off in a heated debate last night.

SCIUTTO: It was heated, no question. Keep in mind this is in deep red Mississippi battled Republican senator, Cindy Hyde-Smith, her controversial comments front and center at last night's face-off. CNN's Martin Savidge has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Cindy Hyde- Smith tried to dial back the storm of criticism that Republicans sparked by joking about a public hanging.

During Tuesday's debate in a runoff campaign Hyde Smith apologized but also accused others of twisting her words for political gain.

SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill-will, no intent whatsoever in my statements. This comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me, a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent.

SAVIDGE: Her Democratic opponent, Mike Espy, said her words weren't distorted by anyone.

MIKE ESPY (D), MISSISSIPPI SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, no one twisted your comments because the comments were loud. You know it came out of your mouth.

Well, it has caused us state harm. It is giving our state another black eye that we don't need.

SAVIDGE: Since the public hanging remarks, a number of corporate donors to the Hyde-Smith campaign have asked for their money back including Walmart. And a 2014 Facebook post that surfaced Tuesday showing Hyde-Smith posing with confederate artifacts further fueled critics. Just how much of an impact the Hyde-Smith controversy is it having on voters depends on who you talk to.

JIMMY RHODES, SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH SUPPORTER: If people really truly are understanding, what she is all about, I don't think that will affect them.

JORDAN MALONE, MIKE ESPY SUPPORTER: It made it very clear both to me and to a lot of other black Mississippians that the Republican candidates do not really have our best interest at heart.

SAVIDGE: Espy who is still considered an underdog in this deeply red state is counting on an energized Black electorate as well as possible crossover voters now reconsidering their support of Hyde-Smith. President Trump will be in Mississippi next week to campaign for Senator Hyde-Smith. And Tuesday he seemed to already be working damage control.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She made a statement which I know that she feels very badly about and it was just sort of said in jest. She is a tremendous woman. And it's a shame that she has to go through this.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: The real key to victory for both candidates may not be how they handle controversy, but how their campaigns get out the vote next Tuesday. In Mississippi like in a lot of other places people are kind of over that whole midterm thing in a real case of voter fatigue. And instead of being focused on politics they are thinking more about the holidays. Jim and Poppy?

SCIUTTO: I can imagine. Martin Savidge thanks very much.

HARLOW: All right. Still to come, don't miss this really important warning just out from the CDC, a day before Thanksgiving. Do not eat any romaine lettuce right now. Why you need to throw it out and scrub down your fridge, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:57:54] HARLOW: Listen to this if you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner right now, a major health warning from the CDC right before Thanksgiving. Do not eat any romaine lettuce whatsoever it could be contaminated with E. Coli.

SCIUTTO: Yes. This is one we are leaving no questions here. CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now live with the details. So to be clear here, Elizabeth, CDC saying don't buy it. And if you have it, get rid of it and clean out where it has been.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And it doesn't matter what brand it is or where you got it from, throw it away and whatever it touched in your fridge, whatever shelf or drawer sanitize it. That's because this romaine lettuce could have E Coli 0157GH7. Particularly vicious form of E Coli that can cause kidney failure, so far, 32 people sick in 11 states.

Thirteen out of those 32 that's a pretty high percentage have been hospitalized including one with kidney failure. They still don't know the source. They are still trying to figure it out. It was a romaine lettuce E Coli outbreak a year ago. And they still can't figure out the source. So we may never figure out this one either. Poppy, Jim?

HARLOW: Why does this keep happening with lettuce? I know that sounds like a silly question. But I mean why?

COHEN: You know one of the problems is that lettuce isn't cooked, right? So there is no way people will cook this out. But they are trying to figure out it seems like it is at the end of the harvest for romaine lettuce and they are hoping that is a hint as to what's going on. But really there is so much they don't know.

HARLOW: OK. Well, thank you for that warning. I know what I'm doing when I get home today. Throwing it out, cleaning the fridge. Elizabeth, have a great Thanksgiving.

COHEN: You too.

HARLOW: Thank you all for being with us today. Jim, I know you are cooking for the entire family, right?

SCIUTTO: Of course, although I will be showing up at work tomorrow, as well. But we're all going to find the time to celebrate. We wish you, you family, Happy Thanksgiving.

HARLOW: Thank you. I will be off for a few days and we'll see you back here Monday. Jim has you covered. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan is next.