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Market Continues Fall After Fed Raises Rates Despite Trump Warning; House Intel Committee Votes to Send Roger Stone Transcript to Special Counsel; DOJ Ethics Officials Say Whitaker Does Not Have to Recuse Self from Russia Investigation; Memo by Trump's A.G. Pick William Barr Slams Mueller's Obstruction Inquiry; 11th-Hour Revolt Over Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown over Missing Wall Funds as Trump Signals He Won't Sign; Did Zuckerberg Lie to Congress About Facebook's Data-Sharing Deals with 3rd Parties; Drone Sighting Causes Chaos at England's Gatwick Airport. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired December 20, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS & BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sometimes when we see the buying when the market goes down, we see bargain hunters come in to get cheap stocks. But that's not happening. A lot of pessimism. A lot of worries about global growth really taking a hit. There was soft economic data out of China causing some concern. Also this idea that the tax cuts have really bolstered economic growth, that those may not be a long-lived booster to the market, that the effects of that may peter off. A lot of concern around that -- Pam?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of concern. Investors don't like uncertainty and there's a lot of uncertainty today about what the Fed will do in the future and over the government shutdown what will happen.

Cristina Alesci, thank you very much for bringing us the latest there from the New York Stock Exchange.

Meantime, we have new developments in the Russia investigation and possibly new trouble for Trump ally, Roger Stone. The House Intelligence Committee voted to send the transcript of Stone's testimony to the special counsel. Robert Mueller's team formerly requested the transcript of Stone's 2017 interview with the committee but Stone is going a step further and demanding it be released to the public.

Joining me from New York is former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rodgers.

Jennifer, what does this mean? How significant is it that Mueller's team requested that transcript and it now will be handed over?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: If I was reading the tea leaves, I would say they're close to wrapping up with Roger Stone and that probably means indicting them. Mueller is interested for only two reasons, either they're going to be witnesses or targets. In Roger Stone's case, they've had a lot of months where they've been trying to speak to other people around him, his aides and associate, but did not speak to him, which signals he's a target. If you have a target in mind, you want to collect all the information you can about that person. He has testified in Congress. They really wanted to get his testimony to see if it's inconsistent with the evidence they have, consistent, whether it raises charges, like a charge of perjury for lying to Congress. That's what they're doing here is readying to indict Roger Stone.

BROWN: Again, we don't really know exactly because Robert Mueller's team, they operate in silence, it's sort of a black hole. You do have to read the tea leaves. It's an interesting development in that case.

Meantime, we have reporting, Jennifer, that CNN is reporting today Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker decided not to recuse himself from the Russia probe over his past comments he has made relating to the probe. He reached the decision on his own, even though ethics officials reviewing this matter considered it a, quote, "close call." What is your take on Whitaker's decision?

RODGERS: Well, I think it's the wrong decision. Sometimes the ethics folks say you have to recuse, sometimes they say you should, sometimes they say there's no need for you to. When they say that you should recuse, I believe he should recuse. He came out making very, very strong statements and he gets picked to be the acting A.G.. It is unseemly at best. If the career people at DOJ, who have no political horse in this at all, are saying he should recuse, even if he's not required to by law, then to me that's what he should do.

BROWN: I want to go to another issue and that's this memo handed over by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He was asked about that memo today written by William Barr, and here's what he said on the matter.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The memo you made reference to reflects Mr. Barr's personal opinion, he shared his personal opinion with the department. Lots of people offer even opinions to the Department of Justice but don't influence our own decision making.

I didn't share any confidential information with Mr. Barr and he never requested that we provide any non-public information to him. And that memo had no impact of our investigation.


BROWN: That memo was critical of Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice probe. He was making the argument that he didn't have a basis for investigating the president's firing of James Comey. What do you make of this?

RODGERS: It's a very interesting memo. It read almost like a legal scholar, or a first year in law school. It's kind of mulling over these issues, what does corrupt mean, what is the president's power? It's an interesting mussing on all of things.

I think its conclusion are wrong and many, many legal scholars agree with that. First of all, this is now likely to be the new attorney general so what is he to do with the Mueller investigation if he's might be recused from overseeing it, which he probably won't be given the decisions in the Whitaker matter. Also, why did he put in it in the first place. He's a private citizen, a busy person. Why did he take the time to write up this very lengthy memo and send it over to DOJ when maybe at some level everyone knew that Jeff Sessions was on the outs? Did he think he was a possible successor? If that's the case, why did he write this big memo instead of trying to back-channel his opinion to someone? So that's kind of intriguing. I don't know what to make of that. The memo itself is a very strong opinion. As Rod Rosenstein said, just that hasn't influenced them yet. That doesn't mean his opinions won't influence them if he becomes the A.G.

[14:35:22] BROWN: It's probably an opinion the president agrees with.

Jennifer Rodgers, thank you very much.

RODGERS: Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Still ahead, Facebook under fire. Some are asking, did CEO Mark Zuckerberg lie to Congress when he testified about user privacy? We'll discuss that up next.


BROWN: The fate of a pivotal bill to keep the government running after tomorrow now thrown into doubt. President Trump and House conservatives just mounted an 11th-hour revolt over the lack of the president's signature campaign promise, a border wall. Now the president appears to balk, signaling he will not sign legislation to avert a partial government shutdown.

Here's outgoing speaker of the House Speaker Paul Ryan.


[14:40:11] REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president informed us he will not sign the bill that came up from the Senate last evening because of his legitimate concerns for border security. So what we're going to do is go back to the House and work with our members. We want to keep the government open but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border.


BROWN: Joining me, CNN political reporter and editor-at-large and political editor, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, what do you make of this last-minute drama and political maneuvering? There's been sort of whiplash from the White House on this issue.

CHRIS CILLIZAA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Two words -- Donald Trump. Pam, I feel this is who the guy is. Remember the last time, in the spring, that we had an issue similar to this, a spending bill that didn't have border wall funding in it, the government would shut down if Donald Trump signed it. The day when everybody seemed to be going, it was all set up to pass, he tweeted out, "I may veto this." Now, he eventually didn't, but what he said that, he said I will never do this again, this is a ridiculous situation, I ran on getting funding for a border wall, I will get it. This time is really his last chance. Pam, think about it. When Democrats take over the House, and that happens in January, that's going to be it. Congress is not going to appropriate $5 billion for a border wall with Democrats in control of one of the chambers. So this 30 hours is the last time that Republicans are going to control the House and the Senate and the White House. And Trump feels it's that important that he's willing to, I think what the most likely outcome is, shut the government down over it.

BROWN: It appears to be a Hail Mary is what's playing out here and it has to do also with 2020. Look, this has to do with the president's base.


BROWN: The president's base wants the wall built and the president has already sort of cornered himself because he's said he willing to shut the government down.

You also mentioned last March, because it feels like we've seen this play out before and that's because we have. Here's what he said last March on this issue.


DONALD TRUMP, PERSIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are a lot of things that I'm unhappy about in this bill. There a lot of things that we shouldn't have had in this bill, but we were, in a sense, forced if we want to build our military, we were forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress I will never sign another bill like this again.


BROWN: Never again. Is that coming back to haunt him? Is there an escape route for the president here, to come out of this looking good? Shutting down the government and taking ownership of that over the holidays certainly can't look good for him either.

CILLIZZA: Donald Trump mentioned this, base politics. All politicians play base politics. No one focuses more on their base in the presidency than Donald Trump has. His base is very much OK with a government shutdown if it means they get what they want, which is the wall built. So he actually benefits.


BROWN: Let me just ask you this on that note.

CILLIZZA: Sure. BROWN: Let's just game this out. So the government shuts down. Do you really think that lawmakers are going to be able to come together, even then, to give the president he wants for the wall?

CILLIZZA: Absolutely, 100 percent no. I don't think Democrats are going to bend on that. I think they think very the right on it from a policy and politics perspective. Is it possible he ekes a little bit more money after a shutdown and declares victory? Sure. You can declare victory even after you lose. Plenty of times Donald Trump has made a living off of that throughout his life. But I think it's this confrontation the base wants. I don't think -- we've seen this the House Freedom Caucus over the last five years. I don't think that they're really gaming out how this ends. I think they don't like the idea of capitulation and will figure the rest out after that. Sort of politics of this be damned. I'm not sure that that works, because to your point, I don't think there's a giant concession by Democrats on the horizon if the government is closed for a week or a month. But I don't know that Donald Trump thinks like that. I do think he gets up every morning, sees what's in front of him, makes decisions, gets up the next day, sees what's in front of him, makes decisions. I don't think he has long-range gaming out, which is why you see him change his mind so much even within a day.

BROWN: And our reporting is that the push, the pressure from conservatives from the Freedom Caucus, from people like Ann Coulter, has really gotten under his skin. So we're seeing this change in tone from him and it's unfolding hour by hour, there's all this change. So we'll be keeping an eye on it.

Chris Cillizza, thanks for bringing your analysis. We do appreciate it.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

[14:45:05] BROWN: And just in, a scathing attack against the Homeland Security secretary over immigration. Why the DHS chief has been, quote, "put on notice by a top Democrat." We'll be back.


BROWN: Facebook still feeling the fallout from a bombshell "New York Times" report that claims the social network cut data-sharing deals with tech firms that granted wide-ranging access to user info not previously disclosed. Does that mean that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lied to Congress last spring when he testified that Facebook protects user info? Remember that?

Here's what he said back in April.


[14:50:07] MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: One core tenet of our advertising system is that we don't sell data to advertisers. Advertisers don't get access to your data.

Yes, Congresswoman, we run ads. That's the -- the business model is running ads and we use the data that people put into the system in order to make the ads more relevant, which also makes them more valuable. But what we hear from people is that if they're going to see ads, they want them to be good and relevant.


BROWN: I'm going to bring in Brian Stelter, CNN chief media correspondent and host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."

Brian, what we just heard from Mark Zuckerberg from April doesn't quite square with the reporting of the "New York Times."

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": It does not square. Some critics are going so far as to say he lied to Congress. All of this hinges on the exact words Zuckerberg used. He was being very creative in his word choice. He was saying Facebook doesn't sell your data. But the "New York Times" said is that Facebook does partner with companies and share access to the data with other companies. Facebook isn't selling to those companies. But it is opening the door up and benefiting financially from that relationship. So based on the meaning of the words like "selling," the exact word Zuckerberg used, he may be able to slide.

But, Pamela, we are seeing more and more congressmen and women calling out Facebook, Senators like Ron Wyden, saying that Zuckerberg is, quote, "Racking up the Pinocchios." There's a new-found sense in Washington that Facebook has not been transparent enough. As we hear more and more abuses of privacy, there's more and more interest in enacting some sort of regulation.

BROWN: You pursed the words. But it does seem at the very least disingenuous. It appeared that he tried to or wanted to convey that Facebook protects user data.

STELTER: That is the thing about this. Facebook has continued to say over and over again that it values customers' privacy, that it knows how important trust is, and yet that trust has been violated over and over again. What we're seeing this year is death by a thousand leaks, death by a thousand revelations about how Facebook really works. Because it is free, it means you and I are the product. We are the product that's being sold by Facebook to advertisers. All these new revelations from the "New York Times" and elsewhere about the partnerships, about the other uses of the data, is been surprising and shocking to a lot of users. So that's why we're seeing the attorney general in Washington, the local attorney general, sue Facebook. That's why we're seeing Democratic lawmakers call for new hearings and possible regulation. I think we're going to see a very busy time for Facebook in 2019 as they try to adjust to the new-found concern in Washington.

BROWN: Brian Stelter, thank you for bringing us the latest.

STELTER: Thanks.

BROWN: Just moments ago, President Trump firing back at Republican Senator Lindsey Graham as Graham is blasting him very publicly, urging him to change his mind on pulling troops out of Syria. Back in a moment.


[14:58:30] BROWN: This is a holiday travel nightmare happening in England just days before Christmas. Flights are grounded and officials at Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport, don't know when it will reopen all because of rogue drones that are disrupting air travel.

CNN correspondent, Anna Stewart, is live at Gatwick Airport.

Anna, I understand that the British military now could be called in to help find the culprit.

ANNA STEWART, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: In fact, they have been now. And they're bringing with them what we're told is specialist equipment to try and get this thing out of the sky or at least detect it. Currently, no one can seem to find these drones. Pamela, it's coming up to 24 hours of these drone sightings. A very, very long time. It's caused absolute chaos at Gatwick, which is the U.K.'s second-biggest airport. And 120,000 passengers impacted. Of course, it's a very busy time of year, people trying to get home and see their family, people trying to get on holiday. So much misery here for today.

Now, Easy Jet, one of the major airlines here, have now cancelled flights for the rest of the evening. Other airlines are saying they hope to get flights off the ground, but no luck so far. It means for passengers it's another night of uncertainty, perhaps another night on the airport floor.

BROWN: Those passengers we're showing pictures of do not look happy, understandably, especially with this timing right before Christmas.

Anna Stewart, thank you very much.

[15:00:03] Hour two now. I'm Pamela Brown, in for Brooke Baldwin.