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Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bipartisan Criminal Justice Bill; NYT: Facebook Gave Tech Giants More Data Access Than Disclosed; Trump: School Personnel Should Be Armed Including Teachers. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired December 19, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That endorsement from the president was ultimately a key step that helped to convince and helped to build the pressure up on Mitch McConnell to bring this to the floor. Advocates of criminal justice reform have previously tried to push these measures through in previous years including under the Obama administration. And when that legislation worked its way to the Senate, Mitch McConnell did not bring it to the floor and ultimately those efforts died there.

But now we have this legislation passing in the Senate 87-12. It's expected to sail through the House and then go to the president's desk for signature later this week. But it wasn't just, again, Democrats, Republicans. You also had celebrities like Kim Kardashian West making an appearance in the Oval Office encouraging the president to move forward with this. The president was concerned about somebody called Willie Horton, for example, who of course you remember from Dukakis.

But again, Kim Kardashian talked to him about Alice Johnson and ultimately, somebody who the president pardons and ultimately the president was able to move forward with this.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Look, it's fascinating and they came together and they made changes. Democrats gave a little, Republicans gave a little. And look what happens when you do that.

Jeremy Diamond, thank you.


HARLOW: There you go, right?

Joining us now, CNN Political Analyst, John Avlon, Republican consultant for the Bush White House, CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover. Good morning to you guys.



HARLOW: A little Christmas gift for America that Congress can get along and make changes. Margaret, how big is this?

HOOVER: This is actually an incredible profile. In a time where every day the news is that Congress is broken and it doesn't work and the president can't get along with anyone and the news is bad. Actually, the system worked and it worked really, really well. And you had not just Republicans and Democrats working together, but funders on both sides of the aisle working together, advocates on both sides are working together, the Congress working with the House, and you also had -- this didn't come from anywhere. This was based on laboratories of Democracy, programs that had worked in the states in terms of improving recidivism, improving cost.

The reason Mitch McConnell brought it, part of the reason is because some of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms that have happened in states, have happened in his own home, state of Kentucky, with the governor there who is controversial on the left but shockingly a hero of the criminal justice reform movement.

AVLON: I just love -- my wife is celebrating the beauty of federalism because it got something done. And this is a big, big deal. Make no mistake. And what's notable is how it got done, right? This is the way Washington is supposed to work, folks. Take a note.

First of all, President Trump, Nixon in China, on the issue of criminal justice reform, really using the bully pulpit of the presidency to force Mitch McConnell's hand who had left just a week ago, was saying this is a divisive bill. You know what is not divisive? Like an 87 vote margin in the Senate.

It was being held up by a couple of extremist who want it all or nothing. And that got blown through by presidential leadership, by constructive compromise on both sides. And this is the way Washington and government is supposed to work. It's refreshing. It's great, credit to the administration and all the senators who showed.

SCIUTTO: OK. Not to bring you down.

AVLON: All right.

SCIUTTO: There is another -

HARLOW: Thanks so much -- commercial break.


SIUTTO: There is another fundamental job of Congress and that is to pass -


SCIUTTO: -- budgets to pay for the stuff the country does. And we are in a situation now Mitch McConnell -- because they can't come to an agreement and the key sticking issue -- money for the president's border wall. It is going to be another short term funding resolution punted into the Congress.

John, you made the point, this makes money for his wall actually less likely. Of course, you will have Democrats controlling the House. Explain why. AVLON: This is the opposite example of what we just talked about. The president, a week ago saying, welcoming a shut down. Saying he'd be proud to preside over it. That kind of zero some politics blew up in his face because now he has got leverage, Republicans in both houses. He could have gotten something for the wall. Instead, they are going to have to do it.

They're going to have to do it. They're going upon it and see. Unless he wants to shut down the government over Christmas while eating stone crab at Mar-a-Lago, which is not a good look for him. And then Democrats come into the House. So this is what happens when you do play the all or nothing card, you get nothing -- worst position.

HOOVER: I'd like to just --

AVLON: Please.

HOOVER: -- get a finer point on that because you are missing one angle --

AVLON: I often miss angles.

HOOVER: -- which is the point is actually it is not all or nothing with the president. The president just lost an election. And part of the things he is looking at with Congress is many Republicans who lost aren't going to come back to vote for the initiative he wants to get through in a lame duck because he didn't help them win. In fact, they lost because of him.

And so, Republicans have a massive attendance problem. They are not going to vote on his wall. And so, not only is he not going to get what he wanted. He - it's almost he forgot the lesson that elections have consequences.

HARLOW: Can you help us understand. There's a Republican consultant - this number. New CNN poll, 81 percent of Republican voters want a wall even when the true numbers show that you know illegal immigration is down, et cetera. It's a problem, but a wall, all the experts say is not what just stops it.

[10:35:01] HOOVER: Well, yes. So what's happened in the Republican Party since Trump now is the president of the Republican -- he is the president of the United States. He is the leader of the Republican Party. And the Republican Party has shifted further to the right. They have become a more restriction as party on immigration.

And the wall as we know is a little bit of a metaphor for Donald Trump. He has said nope there is going to be a real wall. Here's the prototype. But he has also said, yes, you can do it with surveillance and cameras and satellites.

But what it suggests though is that certainly, the center of gravity on the right has shifted to more restriction as position. And what they should - the wall has become this metaphor for getting immigration reform done on Republican terms in way that actually is more restrictions and it is not - this is not the George W. Bush era anymore.

AVLON: We're way passed that.

HOOVER: We're way passed that which is like - racism around the edge --


AVLON: Mark Meadows summed it up the other day saying that you know the five billion was an absolute number for the freedom caucus. That that number was the compromise which is just living in kind of a crazy town hall of mirrors utterly divorced from the idea of constructive compromise. Democrats are willing to put you know 1.6 billion in for border security. Now they may get less than that. But that is what happens when you focus on sort of grand standing rather than government.


HARLOW: There you go.

HARLOW: We started with compromise.


HOOVER: Well, yes. It has nothing to do with immigration.

AVLON: It's all a dynamic process.

HOOVER: But this really is a great victory for the country.

HARLOW: Yes. No, it's huge.

HOOVER: And everybody wins for the criminal justice reform.

HARLOW: We have been all over it. It's a big deal. Thank you.

HOOVER: Thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Thank you guys.

HARLOW: Have a good holiday.

The problems for Facebook continue to pile up. New big report this morning says that the tech giant let more than 150 companies access your private data. Why? And what is Facebook saying?


[10:41:17] HARLOW: "New York Times" investigation reveals Facebook allowed more than 150 companies to access mine and yours and your data including private messages. The access essentially overrode Facebook's usual privacy rules. Big tech companies we're talking about here, Netflix, Spotify. They were - according to "The Times" -- able to read messages that you thought were just private. SCIUTTO: They basically lied to you. They said they were private. They said they were covered by the privacy policy. In fact, not. "New York Times" deputy investigations editor, Gabriel Dance, helped break the story. He joins us now.

Gabriel, the thing that stood out to me and to Poppy, frankly, was this idea of allowing these companies to read your private messages. I mean, what is the justification for that? Is there any precedent for this?

GABRIEL DANCE, DEPUTY INVESTIGATION EDITOR, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it's great question. The fact is that Facebook allowed these companies' access for integration that Spotify and Netflix were using to send recommendations, according to those companies. Now that might be the case, but what actually we see in the documents is that Facebook gave them access to do a lot more than just that. So if they wanted to just send things through Facebook messenger, there were ways they could do that without having this kind of very deep invasive access.

HARLOW: There are questions, Gabriel, and you bring them up in your reporting which is incredibly important. So kudos to you and the team. It's Netflix, it's Spotify, it's Amazon being permitted to see this stuff, Yahoo, et cetera. They have been doing this. Facebook may have broken the law. They may have broken a 2007 agreement with the FTC. Did they? And what is Facebook saying?

DANCE: Well, I believe the consent agreement was entered into -- in 2011. But it's a great question as to whether or not they have violated that consent agreement. Facebook is seemingly expanding this definition they have of what they call service providers. And that's very important to their argument. And that's because the FTC consent agreement allows them to share data with service providers.

Now, to many people service providers reads as things like your Internet service provider or cellular networks so that when you go to or look at it on your phone, you're able to see Facebook. But Facebook has broadened that definition to include first of all device makers including Chinese device makers like Huawei, Apple and some others. But now they are starting to say, well, Yahoo who has never made devices, they are also a service provider. And people like Warner Brothers are a service provider and some of these other companies are service providers.

HARLOW: Right.

DANCE: So it's their definition versus what the FTC is willing to enforce.

SCIUTTO: Facebook's response to all of this?

DANCE: Well, it's basically along the lines of what I was just saying which is this is all OK because essentially, these companies are operating as extensions of Facebook itself. And when they first told us that back in June, it was a real head scratcher, this idea that somehow Blackberry and HTC and other others are extensions of Facebook. But that is the line they are taking.

SCIUTTO: That is not my understanding.

HARLOW: Right.

SCIUTTO: I mean, I didn't look at it that way.

HARLOW: That's a great point. Finally, before you go, in the statement that Facebook gave you guys, they said that they need, quote, "clear policies" and that they need to do better on this. They know that. They want - they welcome, they say, government regulation.

We know that they have gotten on board and are in support of the honest ads act, right, put forward by Senator Amy Klobuchar, right, to display where ads come from for political things, et cetera. But that wouldn't effect this at all, right? I mean, have they really said yes, we are on board with policies that would curb this kind of behavior?

[10:45:08] DANCE: They have not. This kind of behavior -- these kind of practices by Facebook right now are fundamental to their company. So they're doing everything they can to explain why these are OK and not at all interested in making this kind of information unavailable. That said, they said they are winding down -- despite the fact that they say the partnerships are fine and OK, they are also winding them all down.

HARLOW: That's a big deal. I'd urge everyone to read your full report. Thanks Gabriel very much.

DANCE: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: We'll be back after this.


[10:50:10] HARLOW: Welcome back. President Trump is sticking by his push to arm teachers. Listen to the president just yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is critical to have armed personnel available at a moment's notice. These are people, teachers in many cases that are the highest trained that you can get.


HARLOW: He was meeting with members that are part of this commission on school safety. It goes a step further, though, than what they have recommended. That report says schools should work with law enforcement to arm school personnel, not directly teachers.

SCIUTTO: The report also suggests an Obama-era regulation designed to limit punishing minority students at higher rates. Commission claims that that policy actually makes schools less safe by discouraging schools from punishing students properly. Joining us now is someone who's paid a price for this that none of us can imagine. He is Max Schachter, his 14-year-old son Alex was killed in the Parkland shooting. And Max, thank you for taking the time. We as parents shake our heads as we see and imagine what you have gone through. We just want to thank you for speaking out and spending some time with us.


SCIUTTO: So you were in the White House yesterday. You met with President Trump for this roll out. He goes down this path of arming teachers. What did he say to you and what did you say back?

SCHACHTER: I think, you know, when the president says that, it's important to keep in mind the set of facts. Most of these mass murderers occur in a matter of minutes. They are over in four to five minutes. In the Parkland shooting in a minute and a half, 24 people were shot and killed. In under four minutes, all 17 people were dead. And it's happening instantaneously.

Law enforcement is not able to get there in time to stop the carnage. This murderer reloaded his gun five times. There were five times he had an empty gun where if an armed personnel was armed they could have stopped and eliminated this threat. The last thing we want is to have a guy with a gun, an AR-15 walking down the hallway intent on murdering your son or daughter.

And if this happens, the question is, do you want an armed person there to defend your child and to take him out, eliminate him? And unfortunately, we've got 400 million guns in the United States. We have 11 million AR-15s. This is the new normal. As sad as it is, I want it to stop.

But I wake up every day missing my little boy and number two, worried about the next school attack. We know the next mass murderer is already out there. We know the next gun is out there. The question is how are we going to make our schools safe?

HARLOW: Look, there he is. And we will keep his picture on this screen so everyone can look at that smile of your 14-year-old boy that you should never have lost. When you look at the recommendations here, the commission did not recommend any major changes to state or federal gun laws, encouraged states to help support and allow courts to temporarily take guns away from those that are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. But do you want to see further action on the gun front?

SCHACHTER: Yes. Absolutely. I'm in favor of you know gun safety and gun measures to make sure that all children, all teachers are protected. So that's something that we can definitely talk about. But I think this is a good first step. As I travel around the country I notice that schools do not know what to do to make them safe. They are lost. Schools are based on educating their children and now they have to be security experts. So I came up with a vision and that is to create a clearing house, to create a repository to house national school safety best practices, to give guidance to schools nationwide.

HARLOW: Right.

SCHACHTER: And I am glad that the president put this in the recommendation. This has never been done before. And I think this is going to be a monumental step and the first significant progress we have had in 20 years since columbine.

HARLOW: Before you go, Max, this is an unbelievably hard time for you, the holidays, of course. We can't understand what it is like to be in your shoes, but tell our viewers what you want them all to remember about your son as we put his image, Alex, back on the screen.

SCHACHTER: I mean, my little boy was wonderful. He just wanted to play with his friends. He wanted to be with his brother and his big sister and his little sister. And you know his mom and I miss him every day. We wish he was here. Alex is with me every day when I travel to the White House.

[10:55:00] I think that we are going to make our children safe. And I think this report is a step in the right direction.

HARLOW: Max, thank you for your work from both of us.

SCIUTTO: We are heartbreaking for you.

HARLOW: We are.

SCHACHTER: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank all of you for being with us today. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR" will be right back after a short break.


[10:59:46] PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Pamela Brown in for Kate Bolduan on what is shaping up to be a very busy Wednesday. And we begin with breaking news. A big military decision by President Trump that could have major implications for the Middle East.

A defense official telling CNN the military is preparing for a quote, "full and rapid withdrawal of American troops from Syria."