Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Trump Talks Shutdown Talks & DOJ on Whitaker Not Testifying Unless Democrats Drop Subpoena Threat; Democrats Ocasio-Cortez, Markey Unveil Legislation for Green New Deal; Howard Schultz Teases 2020 Run, Says We're on Collision Course with Time on Climate Change; What Modern America Needs to Understand about Racist Blackface History; CNN Special Report, "Facebook at 15, It's Complicated". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 7, 2019 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go to Abby Phillip. She covers the White House for us at CNN.

Abby, what did the president say about his acting A.G.?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump took a couple of questions right at the end of that spray and he answered some questions about acting A.G., Whitaker. He also answered some questions about the shutdown talks. He basically implied we'll see to the answer to the question of whether or not the -- how the shutdown talks are going, but it's not clear exactly what's going to happen tomorrow. The White House hasn't said a whole lot about this standoff. But the White House is trying to play hard ball with investigators as they're seeking to do some oversight. President Trump earlier this week warning that oversight would be an impediment to progress on other issues. And this seems to be the latest effort for the White House to push back on some of the new faces that's we're seeing in Washington exerting their power over in the House chamber, in particular.

BALDWIN: Got it.

Abby Phillip, thank you. That saga continues.

In the meantime, let's talk about this phrase the "Green New Deal." Today, it became real on Capitol Hill. Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, along with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey just unveiled their plan to tackle climate change. And what it does is, it calls for a 10-year initiative that would phase out fossil fuel use and overhaul the nation's infrastructure. The resolution so far calls for a shift to renewable energy, the creation of high-wage jobs, the elimination of greenhouse gases, investment in wind and solar, and public investments in vulnerable communities.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D), NEW YORK: Climate change, climate change and our environmental challenges are one of the biggest, existential threats to our way of life, not only as a nation but as a world. In order for us to combat that threat, we must be as ambitious and innovative in our solution as possible.

SEN. ED MARKEY, (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are talking about jobs and justice. We are talking about the greatest blue-collar job-creation program in a generation. We are talking about repairing the historic oppression of frontline and vulnerable communities, which have borne the worst burdens of our fossil-fuel economy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN's Bill Weir is with me now.

And good to see you.

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, how are you?

BALDWIN: You did this huge deep dive into the Green New Deal.

WEIR: Yes.

BALDWIN: Tell me about it.

WEIR: You got to think about it in terms of the O.G. New Deal, the original --

BALDWIN: Yes.

WEIR: -- of FDR, back when Ohio looked like Venezuela does today, when it was 80 percent unemployment and society was literally coming apart. Part of his idea was not just let's kick start the economy and get us out of the Great Depression, let's keep society from falling apart. Let's have big jobs.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Yes.

WEIR: Let's pay two million guys to plant trees out west, build dams and roads and all of that. They gave us labor unions and unemployment insurance and Social Security, the things that changed the way people think about government.

This is the modern version of that. Let's do all of those things again only smarter and nonpolluting. And because the way that Dustbowl and things happened and touched off parts of the Great Depression, the way the stock market crashed, that's coming. All the scientists are saying when they stop insuring houses and condos on Miami Beach because of sea level rise, that will create an economic Dustbowl. It'll create climate migrants into Wisconsin. You think you're safe in the Great Lakes? Wait until you get a bunch of new neighbors that just left Texas.

This idea is very aspirational. It's a nonbinding resolution. It's just saying we agree to agree. This will be dozens of bills now that Democrats -- they hope to have more power in 2020. Today is sort of, as Ed Markey invoked JFK, when he says we're going to the moon at the end of this decade, he didn't say how we're going to do it. He said, we're going to do, we'll figure it out. It was wildly unpopular all during the '60s. And it wasn't -- those poll numbers didn't jump until we landed on the moon. And now we look back and so, wood, NASA -- that was a really good idea.

BALDWIN: They say, oh, my gosh --

(CROSSTALK)

WEIR: Yes.

BALDWIN: This is so huge. Your point being, at the end of the day, it worked.

WEIR: What's fascinating about watching those two is -- I was joking about it --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Please tell everyone what you said.

WEIR: If I were to make a movie at this moment, you cast Bradley Cooper as Ed Markey, the old climate warrior, and Lady Gaga as this new freshman.

BALDWIN: This is --

(CROSSTALK)

WEIR: Yes.

BALDWIN: -- on climate change.

WEIR: Their love story is about the planet and the idea that we could lose it if we don't do some big, bold thing right now.

But I was watching the live stream of comments as she was talking --

BALDWIN: Yes.

WEIR: -- and, wow, she is polarizing and this whole idea.

BALDWIN: She is.

WEIR: And some people -- the hatred is just --

BALDWIN: She's got a big old target on her back.

[14:35:02] WEIR: A big target on her back. But she's inspiring so many people. At the very least, she'll have people talking about the potential end of the world and maybe that's not a bad thing.

BALDWIN: Thank you for coming on and explaining it the way in which you did, right? You understand now this Green New Deal.

Thank you, Bill.

WEIR: You bet.

BALDWIN: Bill Weir.

Let's go to Cristina Alesci now. She's in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gave an address at Purdue University.

Cristina, Schultz, he has not declared officially. He has not, you know, been perhaps teasing it a bit. He says that we are, quote, "on a collision course with time when it comes to climate change."

Did he have anything to say about the Democrats new green deal today?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS AND BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: He said, actually in a separate pull aside with me, he said he hasn't had a chance to look at AOC's plan but he wants to be supportive of freshman members of Congress. He was really pitching this idea that an independent run will be beneficial because he truly believes, and he said this many times before, that a far-left Democrat will not win if it -- if that person goes up against Donald Trump.

The question that I had for him, which has been critical, is whether or not a centrist Democrat jumping in and potentially winning the nomination for the Democrats would impact his decision. So would a Joe Biden or a Mike Bloomberg impact his decision? And this is what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALESCI: A lot of Democrats are talking about doing a Green New Deal, what's your position on it?

HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER STARBUCKS CEO: I haven't seen that information. I've been traveling all day. I think -- I respect the new people who are coming into Congress. They've got great ideas. I would just ask the question, how many are these ideas realistic and how many of these ideas can we actually pay for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALESCI: So that was the sound about the Green New Deal. But when I asked him whether or not Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg getting into the race as a centrist Democrat would make a difference or impact his decision, Schultz said that it would not impact his decision. It sounds like that he's studying this very carefully and looking to move forward.

He'll be on our air on Tuesday for a town hall. He's looking forward to that and presenting ideas that are different than the far left or right. He cannot just be the candidate of no on the far left or right. He has to come forward with his own ideas which he will be presenting soon.

BALDWIN: Town hall Tuesday night 10:00 eastern. Poppy Harlow hosting that one. Cristina, thank you very much.

Still ahead here, it is an important but difficult conversation a lot of people are having across this country: What modern Americans need to understand about the racist history of blackface. Let's go there.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:41:52] BALDWIN: In the span of a single week, two of Virginia's top officials have been ensnared in blackface controversy that not only threatens to end their political careers, but also reopen a wound that dates back 200 years. According to the Smithsonian, blackface can be traced to the 1830 when the first minstrel shows occurred. And, in them, white actors darkened their faces and mocked southern slaves, depicting them as lazy, cowardly and hypersexual. It was built on stereotypes that persist to this day.

And we should note that a week before the spectacle in the state of Virginia, that a Florida secretary of state resigned after these pictures of him in blackface from a party in 2005 were obtained by a Tallahassee newspaper. He was dressed as a victim of Hurricane Katrina just two months after the storm ravaged New Orleans.

To be very clear, blackface is not limited to U.S. politics. It rears its head during parties every Halloween from private parties to college campuses. In 2015, the Intercultural Affairs Council at Yale was so concerned that it e-mailed students advising them not to dress up in what they called culturally unaware and insensitive costumes, calling out blackface among other things.

And there's also a number of celebrities forced to issue public apologies after making similar decisions.

Leah Wright Rigueur is an assistant professor for public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

So, Leah, welcome back.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL: Always good to be here.

BALDWIN: Why do you think this is a lesson that is never learned?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: So blackface is this long, long complicated racist history and it emerges as a way to dehumanize African-Americans, it can be used more other racial minorities as well. We see it pop up there. It infused this idea of spectacle and ridicule around the idea of blackness. These are highly sexualized people and they deserve to be mocked and they don't deserve respect. We've seen this evolve over generations whereby blackface becomes something that, you know, one section of the population understands is bad, is racist, is hurtful, is dehumanizing and the other part of the population says, it just doesn't matter and they don't care and they think they can do this form of ridicule without being caught. BALDWIN: Many of whom, if they don't even dress up, they don't fully

understand or many of them claim that it's ignorant as their excuse, but is it given our nation's history?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: I mean, a lot of people are going to claim racial ignorance because they're caught, because their dirty laundry is out in the public, but at the same time, you know, there's this long history of blackface. They're very clear public incidents of, you know, groups protesting blackface, of blackface -- they blow up and there's a cultural conversation around blackface. We have multiple incidents of blackface that have come up in the past couple of months alone, the past couple of days alone and this is in addition to other incidents that have come up in October. Even if we move it out of the realm of hard politics, you can look at Gucci -- we just had a blackface incident this week. Prada, which had one a couple of months ago -- and see that, you know, claiming cultural ignorance is no longer an option and instead what we have to look at is, why do people think they won't get caught or why is this OK?

[14:45:43] BALDWIN: I wanted to ask you about your tweet, Leah. You said, "Are people shocked by the blackface or shocked that folks get caught?"

To your point, which do you think it is?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: I think the real -- what's underneath this is the shock that people get caught and so there are a couple of things as we think about this. One, there's a real, you know, disappointment that it continues to happen over and over again. There's also a disappointment that it happens among say politicians or respected leaders in the communities, all those college kids who are posing in blackface and taking pictures generations ago, years ago, couple months ago, those people grow up and they become doctors and lawyers and they become politicians. There should be no surprise there. I think the real reason, the real thing that people are reacting to is the fact that it made headline news and it came out after so many years of being behind closed doors. The fact that people would take pictures that it would be in a yearbook, that people post these things on Facebook and Instagram and social media, is really the most shocking part about it. Did you not think that you weren't going to get caught? This is going to come out at some point.

BALDWIN: Right. We just have to keep having these conversations, national conversations.

Leah Wright Rigueur, thank you very much. Thank you.

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Ahead, a hearing is about to get under way over the president's tax returns. And CNN has new reporting on where they are and who has tried to get them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:51:42] BALDWIN: It started as a college experiment, and now 15 years later, Facebook is a tech giant with more than two billion users worldwide. But as with all 15-year-olds, the company has had its fair share of growing pains, from massive damage breaches to concerns about user privacy. It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, as explored in a new CNN special report, "Facebook at 15, It's Complicated."

CNN Business senior tech correspondent, Laurie Segall, is with me.

Good to have you on.

And, so, talk to me about what this is about.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: I remember going into interview Mark Zuckerberg during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is something we look over and talk a lot about in the documentary. And it was just this high-pressure moment for Mark Zuckerberg for the company, and everybody was waiting to hear from Mark Zuckerberg. No one heard from him, people were so upset.

I want to play you a clip from the upcoming documentary to set the scene. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEGALL (voice-over): It was March 2018, and I just remember sitting across from Mark Zuckerberg inside that room, it just felt incredibly tense.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: There's an element of accountability where, as uncomfortable as it is for me to do a TV interview, this is an important thing, that as a discipline for what we're doing, I should be out there and being asked hard questions by journalists.

SEGALL (on camera): What happened? What went wrong?

ZUCKERBERG: This was a major breach of trust and I'm really sorry that this happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were previous instances where they had to issue apologies for breaches in the past. This was different.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SEGALL: I've gone back to Facebook and, for this documentary, we interviewed Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg months later. And I've been inside this company at these very pivotal tough moments and have seen, you know, a lot of what's been happening behind the scenes. As part of this documentary, to understand Facebook at this moment, you almost have to go back to the beginning and look at everything that's happened to bring it to where it's at today, where there are a lot of complicated questions about the future -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: How long -- how long did you -- I feel like you've been working on this a while now.

SEGALL: This is very true. I've been working on this since September, was our first time inside. And Facebook years are like dog years. A lot happens in a little amount of time. So, so much happened when we were shooting this documentary. We ended up going in and leaving, thinking we were done, going back in with some of the latest news. Because that shows you what Facebook is like at this current most which is transitional, complicated, important and powerful. And that's why you're seeing all these headlines and all this information coming out. Shooting a documentary, we had a fascinating time doing it.

BALDWIN: You want to watch Laurie's doc. Do not miss it. It's a special report, "Facebook at 15, It's Complicated," Sunday night, at 9:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.

Laurie Segall, thank you.

Back to our breaking news now. A stunning ultimatum. Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker says he will not show up for his highly anticipated testimony in front of lawmakers tomorrow unless he is assured in writing that he will not be subpoenaed. The president was just asked about this standoff.

[14:54:56] We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Breaking news right now out of the White House. President Trump reportedly furious after a series of new hirings by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff. The head of House Intel just announced its investigations would go into the president's finances.

So we go straight to the White House and our correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

And, Kaitlan, who have they hired?

[14:59:44] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: What we've learned is that the House Intelligence chairman, Adam Schiff, has recently hired people who have previous experience working on the National Security Council to join his committee that is overseeing the Trump administration. Now a committee aide confirmed this to us but, Brooke, they declined to say how recently these people worked on the National Security Council, whether or not they worked under President Trump. And they declined to identify who these individuals are.