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"Empire" Star Says He was Victim of Racial, Homophobic Attack; "Sex Coach" Who Claimed Evidence of Collusion Speaks to CNN; Biden, No Hurry to Make a Decision on Presidential Run; Stacey Abrams to Give Rebuttal to Trump's State of Union; Facetime Bug Lets Users Eavesdrop on Other People. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired January 29, 2019 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We're following this breaking news out of Chicago involving "Empire" star, after Jussie Smollett. Smollett confirmed to CNN that he was attacked while walking in downtown Chicago. He said his attackers hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him and now police say they're investigating this as a possible hate crime. So let's go straight to Chicago and our correspondent Ryan Young there. And Ryan, what happened?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just look, a lot of strong reaction to this. What the actor is telling police so far that he's walking in this general area there. There's a sandwich shop that's just down the way and as he was walking back, he was attacked by two men who came upon him and he tried to fight back against these men. From what we're told, not only did they pour some sort of substance over him but then they had some sort of rope that they tried to wrap around him. He did fight back.

In fact, he talked to our Don Lemon, and he talked about the idea that he was trying to fight back and was saddened by this. But since then, since the last time we have talked, we've actually got a statement from 20th Century Fox.

They say, we are deeply saddened and outraged to learn that a member of our "Empire" family was viciously attacked last night. We send our love to Jussie, who is resilient and strong, and we will work with law enforcement to bring these perpetrators to justice. The entire studio, network and production stands united in the face of any despicable act of violence and hate -- and especially against one of our own.

And you could imagine, this is also sending shockwaves through social media, people have been sort of out there responding greatly to this and sending out their condolences to the actor. One of the things they've also been talking about is Corey Booker just sent out a tweet just recently as well.

And Senator Corey Booker said, the vicious attack on actor Jessie was an attempt was an attempt at modern-day lynching. I'm glad he's safe. To those in Congress who don't feel the urgency to pass our antilynching bill, designating lynching as a federal hate crime. I urge you to pay attention.

Now look, we've talked to the Chicago Police Department about this as well, they're obviously investigating to see exactly what happens in this. Brooke, I talked to you about this before in our last hit. This is an area we're very familiar with. And in fact, a lot of times when you're around here, you see people walking their dogs and this is a very safe area and there are several cameras in this area. So it'll be interesting to see what additional information detectives can get in this. So far, we've talked to police to try to see if there's a conference about this. So far there's not one planned. But it would be also interesting to see if they can pull some sort of evidence or if anybody in the area heard this attack while it was going on, but this is all fresh reaction that's been going on in just the last few hours after the word of this crime is spread out there.

BALDWIN: And this is America in 2019. Ryan Young, thank you. We'll stay on top of this with you.

Coming up next here on CNN, an exclusive interview with the self-pro- claimed sex coach who once claimed to have evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. She was just released from prison but not before she says Russian agents warned her not to talk.


BALDWIN: A self-pro-claimed sex coach who once claimed to have evidence of Russia's attempt to interfere in U.S. elections is speaking exclusively to CNN even though she says Russian agent have warned her to keep quiet. The woman is Anastasia Vashukevich. She was arrested nearly a year ago in Thailand for violating the terms of her visa. Just before her arrest, she posted photos on Instagram from 2016 that showed her relaxing on a boat with a Russian oligarch and a Russian deputy Prime Minister. Now the oligarch was once a business partner of former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and on the way to this Thai prison she released this video.


ANASTASIA VASHUKEVICH, SEX COACH WHO CLAIMED EVIDENCE OF COLLUSION (through translator): I'm ready to give you all the missing pieces of the puzzle, support them with videos and audio regarding the connections of our respective lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest.


BALDWIN: After being released from prison this month, the 28-year-old was deported to Moscow and cameras caught her being manhandled by securities in the Moscow airport. She has since apologized for posting the images of Deripaska, the oligarch, and was just released from custody. So now she is sharing her story with CNN's senior international correspondent, Matt Chance, and Matthew, I mean, have we got any closer to find out if there were any truth in her claims?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she didn't deny the claims that she'd made but she gave a couple of reasons why she couldn't elaborate on them any further in our interview. First of all, she said that the evidence she once had, the videos, the audio recordings that she'd claimed she had of Oleg Deripaska and others, talking about U.S./Russian relations had been confiscated or deleted and that she no longer had them.

[15:40:00] She said she'd gone public with those claims in the first place in order to provide a sense of publicity and a sense of security that that publicity would bring. But I think most alarming in this interview was that she said she couldn't speak to us about the specifics of her allegations anymore because she'd been given a very stark warning when she was behind Russian bars. Take a listen.


CHANCE: You said I'm ready to give you all the missing puzzle pieces, video and audio regarding the connections of our respective lawmakers with Trump, Manafort and the rest. Why did you say that?

VASHUKEVICH: After that I was almost one year in prison. I understand mostly of your question is about Oleg Deripaska, about connection of American and something like that but I cannot answer. You should understand me, because I really was in very bad condition over that year. I don't want more. And in Russia I get the same and I don't want to compare what's better Thai prison or Russian prison.

CHANCE: Have you been told that if you keep quiet, if you don't say anything else about those meetings, about Oleg Deripaska, who we met, that you're going to be free.

VASHUKEVICH: I had some talk when I was in jail in Russian jail and they explain me very clear what should I do, what should I say and what should I shouldn't I say. Something like that.

CHANCE: Who explain that had to you?

VASHUKEVICH: Russian -- Russian agents.

CHANCE: What did they say to you?

VASHUKEVICH: They said to me, don't touch Oleg Deripaska anymore.


CHANCE: Yes, don't touch Oleg Deripaska, she said, or face swapping your Thai prison for a lengthy period, Brooke, in a Russian one.

BALDWIN: Is she still facing legal trouble, Matthew?

CHANCE: She is. She's been released from custody here in Russia but she's still a suspect we're told by the authorities in a prostitution case. I think the way it's going to work is that if she doesn't put a foot wrong or say the wrong things that she was warned not to, she's probably going to maintain her freedom. But at any point the authorities here could yank her back into the prison and silence her that way. BALDWIN: Wow. Matthew Chance with the big get there for us in

Moscow, Matthew, thank you.

Just in with the State of the Union now rescheduled for next week, we have learned who has been tapped to deliver the Democratic response. How Stacey Abrams was chosen?


BALDWIN: With the Democratic field for president expanding quickly, the current front-runner according to the polls appears to be in no hurry formally announce. I'm talking about the former Vice President Joe Biden here. He has led most early polls when Democrats are asked who they would support for president. But today CNN caught up with Biden at the airport and he says, he is in no rush to make a decision on 2020.


JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think there's any hurry to have that announced -- I don't have any particular timetable. I don't think there's any hurry, but there's a bigger hurry to decide just personally.


BALDWIN: The former vice president was asked about the possibility that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz could run for president as an independent, he downplayed any concerns that Schultz would actually hurt Democrats chances of beating Trump.


BIDEN: I think he's smart as hell and I think it's his decision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it'll hurt Democratic chances of beating Trump?

BIDEN: I think it's premature and so far out, and who knows what it's going to look like a year from now. I mean, you know, one of the things that I think we're doing is -- and it's us, not the press -- we're starting awful early. I think we should be concentrating on figuring out how to deal with the damage he's doing right now.


BALDWIN: So far five Democrats have announced that they are running for president in 2020. Three others have formed exploratory committees and several more are expected to throw their hats in the proverbial ring in the coming weeks or months.

Also just in, Senator Chuck Schumer says Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union address next Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you asked Stacey Abrams to deliver the Democratic response and has she accepted the State of the Union?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: Well, Speaker Pelosi and I are going to issue an official statement shortly, but yes. Three weeks ago I called Stacey Abrams and asked her to deliver the response to the State of the Union. I was very delighted when she agreed and she is just a great spokesperson. She's an incredible leader. She has led the charge of voting right which is at the root of just about everything else. And she really has -- if you look at her background, she knows what working people, middle class people go through. So, yes, I'm very excite that had she's agreed to be the respondent to the President and the State of the Union.


BALDWIN: Stacey Abrams gained national attention during her bid for governor of Georgia. Had she won, she would have been the first African-American woman governor in the nation. So let's go straight to our CNN congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly. And, Phil, what statement, what message are Democrats hoping to achieve or to send by choosing Stacey Abrams?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, at least at first, it's further confirmation the State of the Union will actually occur which means we are at least temporarily in a better place than we were for the better part of about 35 days.

[15:50:00] Brooke, I think what this underscores is something that isn't exactly a secret. That is within the party, Stacey Abrams is considered a rising star. Now yes, she lost her race for governor in Georgia. She was the first female black major party candidate in history in Georgia and she is somebody that national Democrats are very interested in in terms of what her future may be. There's a lot of talk here on Capitol Hill that perhaps she will run for Senate in 2020 there is a seat up for Georgia, so I think I think there's something to see with that.

But also, key in on what Senator Schumer said about her work on voting rights. That is a major piece of the Democratic agenda in the House right now. It is a major thing the Democrats just in general are talking about, pushing back against Republican efforts, particularly on voter ID. And Stacey Abrams has been in the forefront of that. Now you know her history quite well. Obviously, serving in the Georgia state House, the very high-profile race in Georgia. Brooke, she won more votes total than any Democratic candidate state wide in the history of Georgia. And that obviously kind of has tongues wagging as Democrats look at potential new battleground states going forward.

Now Stacey Abrams did just release tweet about this issue. She tweeted out, quote, at a moment when our nation needs to hear from leaders who can unite for a common purposes, I'm honored to be delivering the Democratic State of the Union response.

And, Brooke, it's worth noting, when it comes to State of the Union responses, Stacey Abrams will be at least as far as I'm aware, the first unelected official to give a response to the State of the Union. Steve Bashir, the former Kentucky governor, gave the response in 2017. But before I get attacked on Twitter, that was not actually a State of the Union address, just a joint session of Congress. So obviously, Democrats have very high opinions of Stacey Abrams and again, is going to be very interesting in what she has to say next Tuesday.

BALDWIN: Yes, happening next week. Phil, thank you very much.

Also we are learning the head of the Congressional budget office is standing behind its estimate how much the shutdown actually costs. So on Capitol Hill today he reiterated his findings which found that the 35-day shutdown cost the economy, you ready? $11 billion. That is 3 billion that will never be recovered. Here is what he said about the permanent losses.


KENNETH HALL, DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE: We are looking at the effect over in the context of the entire economy, which is really huge. But if you look at the impact on just federal workers it's much higher. If you look at the impact on private contractors it's higher. And some of that effect is going to be permanent for those contractors.

We also don't see it entirely recovering. We think that on the whole we'll see some recovery over the next three quarters but we'll still GDP output will still be short about $3 billion. You won't make up for that government output.


BALDWIN: Despite the CBO report, the White House is disputing the long-term effects of the government shutdown. Here is what the top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, had to say when he was asked about it.


LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: We frequently disagree with CBO, with all respect, they're doing the best job they can. I get that. No. I don't -- I won't knowledge any of that right now. You know, in a $20 trillion economy it's awfully hard to make even the best guestimates of those kinds of small fractions of numbers. Now that the government has reopened the switch goes right back on. There is certainly no permanent damage to the economy.


BALDWIN: Lawmakers have until February 15th to reach an agreement to avoid another shutdown.

Next, an alarming bug that is impacting everyone who has Apple's Facetime software. Have you heard about this today? It allows people to eves drop on you without you ever picking up a call. Details on what you can do to prevent it while Apple is hurrying up and fixing it. [15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Attention iPhone and iPad users, Apple's Facetime feature apparently now has a bug that lets other users' eves drop on you without you ever picking up the call. Samuel Burke is with us, CNN business tech correspondent. And Samuel, how is this happening and what's Apple doing about it?

SAMUEL BURKE, CNNMONEY BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, if anybody in your audience has said something behind the back of somebody this week, but with their iPhone, iPad or Mac nearby, they might be in far rude awakening. This is a quirk in these devices which make it so if I'm calling you, Brooke, while it's ringing, let's say I want to make it a group Facetime call. I click the add button to add somebody else, but instead I put in my own phone number. That will make it so your phone answers that call without you knowing. You haven't clicked accept and you don't even see anything on your screen but I'm listening to you.

To make it worse if you click the volume button on the side of phone thinking that you're dismissing that call from Samuel Burke, now I can see you, Brooke. Apple says they are aware of this problem. Yes, they say they are aware of this problem and that they have a fix coming by the end of the week.

In the meantime they are disabling group facetime calls. But you want to be very cautious follow these steps. You're going to go to the settling button on your iPhone or your iPad. You're going to click Facetime and in the green toggle switch, you're just going to switch that puppy right off. Brooke, when that iOS update comes out, I have a feeling it will be the most downloaded in the least amount of time as people run to protect themselves from this.

BALDWIN: Yes, you know, sometimes when it pops up and your like, oh, I'll do it later. I'll do it later. This is one of those, and everyone's like, right now. Samuel Burke, with the fix on the bug from Apple. Samuel, thank you so much. Good to see you there in London.

And I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. Let's go to Washington. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.