Return to Transcripts main page
Authorities Comb Through 87-Page Anti-Muslim Manifesto; Trump Says White Nationalism Is Not A Rising Threat; A.G. Bill Barr Backs Trump as He Signs First Veto to Protect Emergency Declaration; Senate Approves Yemen War Powers Resolution in Rebuke of Trump; Far-Right Groups on the Rise Across the West; Social Media Platforms Scrambled to Remove All Videos of New Zealand Terror Attack; Class-Action Lawsuit Filed in College Admissions Scandal; Trump Slams "Fake Dossier" Despite Several Claims Being Verified. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 16, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:22] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield this Saturday.
We are learning new details behind the grewsome massacre in New Zealand that targeted worshippers at two separate mosques during Friday prayers. And 49 people are dead, 39 victims remain in the hospital, and 11 of them in intensive care. Two of those patients are children, a 2-year-old and a 13-year-old, both in stable condition. And those who managed to escape the gunfire are beginning to speak out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANZAN ALI (ph), WITNESS: I was sitting out just beside the wall and what he did, he told me, no, no, and I ran back in and next he shoot the guy. Blood is spitting on me, splashing on me. An I'm thinking, oh, my god, oh, my god, it will happen to me now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And here is what we know about the man accused of carrying out this horrific attack. Twenty-eight-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant has been charged with murder and police say more charges are coming. He made his first court appearance today where he appeared to flash a hand gesture associated with white supremacy. And right now, authorities are combing through an 87-page manifesto filled with anti- Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that the shooter posted just minutes before the attention. New Zealand's prime minister said the gunman had planned to continue the shooting spree beyond the two mosques.
CNN correspondent, Alexandra Field, is in Christchurch.
Alexandria, where is the investigation now?
ALEXANDRIA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Frederica, certainly authorities named Brenton Tarrant as their suspect in the shooting. They brought him into court. They say they are not actively looking for others who may have been directly linked to the incident itself, though the investigation of course does have to continue. They will be delving into tear Tarrant's background. That manifesto was posted online. We have not heard officials speaking publicly about what the motivations could have been. They are poring over the manifesto and also speaking to people who knew this man.
This is not his community. This is where it is said he came to spread hate. This is an Australian 28-year-old who had come in and out of New Zealand before. They want to understand where he had been, why he chose this place to carry out what they say was an act of terror in these two mosques.
And you did hear the prime minister say that they believe that this is somebody who continued -- who planned to continue the attack. He had five firearms on him, according to authorities. They say they found two in the car at the time of his arrest. They say that they had also found IEDs, improved explosive devices. Authorities now saying that they were able to take the suspect into custody some 36 minutes after the first call to emergency officials when the shots began to ring out on Friday -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: And, Alexandria, you've been talking to survivors. How are they coping? How are they reflecting on what they have just experienced?
FIELD: They are simply stunned. They did not expect it here. No one expects it anywhere. But certainly this is the largest mass shooting that New Zealand has had in its history. It has caught the entire community off guard. We've seen an outpouring of grieve grief. People lining up to pay their respects, to offer flowers, to take a moment to consider what has happened here and how to stop it from happening again.
We also spoke to two men who were inside each of the two mosques when the attacks unfolded. Here is the terror that they described.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTFIIED WITNESS: Some of my friends died yesterday. Some of them this morning. And one of my friends is still in the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: I ran back to the mosque and tell everyone just go to the ground because there's someone with a gun that's going to shoot everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: Forty-nine lives lost in these attacks. Nearly 40 people still in the hospital. We are beginning to learn the names. We are hearing more of the stories. We know that these are people who came to New Zealand from a number of different countries. Some of these survivors who escaped from those mosques say that they were fleeing more dangerous circumstances in their home countries. They came to New Zealand because they believed that this was the safest place to be -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: Alexandra Field, thank you so much, in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Let's talk more about this. With me now is Shahed Amanullah, a former senior adviser for technology at the U.S. State Department and worked with the Obama administration on combatting online extremism.
Shahed, thanks so much for being with me. Good to see you.
SHAHED AMANULLAH, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER FOR TECHNOLOY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: So the suspect in these mosque shootings in New Zealand released a long rambling manifesto on the Internet describing his hateful views. So what role do you think online methods may have played in his beliefs?
[13:05:12] AMANULLAH: Well, if you compare this, for example, to Osama bin Laden and the way that he tried to lead a global fight against the West, this is another fight that is happening and it is organized a little bit more, leaderlessly, on the Internet. And he literally put the dots on his gun. He made the connections between what he was doing and what other people did in Quebec City and in Norway. And he cited these themes that are part of this kind of globalist ideology of white supremacy. So we have to make a shift now from thinking about this as a domestic threat or an isolated threat into a global transnational threat and we have to allocate toward it resources that we have allocated previously to transnational terrorism. And I think this is now the turning point.
WHITFIELD: Clearly, the Internet is a tool, right, for --
WHITFIELD: -- yes, folks carrying things like this out. So how can that be, you know, controlled? How can that be guided differently? I mean,
WHITFIELD: -- it's a big beast at this point. He really can't be -- I mean, the access can't be reduced.
AMANULLAH: We're in a turning point now. Information now flows freely. There's really no way to stop it all. We learned this, of course, with ISIS. The trick is now, how do we take the vast majority of people who abhor this and mobilize them so that they can kind of isolate, report, put these back into the fringes where they belong. The trouble with this particular type of violence is that, frankly, we didn't take it seriously enough. And people were allowed to traffic in some of the underlying ideologies that support this. And I think that now we have to recognize it for what it is. We need to have people that are willing to speak up in those forums. We need to have people who can recognize the nuances of these themes and get them banned off of certain platforms. And I think we'll make a step in that right direction. Again, we learned a lot of this in the last 10 years with our fight against ISIS.
WHITFIELD: The suspect in this attack appears to be motivated by white supremacy, nationalism. I want to listen to what the president had to say about white nationalism when asked about whether it's on the rise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think white nationalism is arising threat around the world?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't really. I think that it is a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So you worked in the Obama White House where there was a very different approach. What do you make of this president's response in that manner?
AMANULLAH: Well, the thing is that if you stop looking -- stop tracking this, that is when people feel empowered and emboldened to say what they say and the most extreme of them will actually take it to violence. This is part of the problem. We have to take a look at how you are behavior allows and enables people to do these things. And particularly to those people who are cited as inspiration. Even if they don't think of themselves as violent, they need to take a long, hard look at the things that they are saying and the fact that they are inspiring people and either change the way they do things or we need to marginalize those voices. And I think the president has a strong role to play in this.
WHITFIELD: So you mentioned in a tweet today that this attack should be a real wakeup call about far-right extremism around the globe.
WHITFIELD: If people are awakened at this point and they haven't been before, what do they do with this knowledge, this awareness?
AMANULLAH Well, that is a great point. I think that the first thing we need to do is we need to rephrase the way that we look at this type of extremism. We have looked at it primarily as a domestic threat. We've looked at it as a localized threat. We have not connected the dots and made it global. Because when you look at it as a global framework, then we have resources in place to deal with that. But when I was at the State Department, we barely ever touched global white supremacist violence because we didn't look at it that way. But now that we have those frameworks in place, I think it is time to take what we've already learned and start applying it aggressively and work with our partners overseas as well to find this people, to hunt them down, to track them, and especially to look at the memes and the ideologies that they are spreading and counter them.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Shahed Amanullah. Appreciate your time --
AMANULLAH: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: -- and expertise.
For more information about how you can help the victims of the New Zealand terror attacks and for more information, go to CNN.com/impact.
Still ahead, President Trump keeps his promised veto after Congress blocks his national emergency declaration to build a wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have the duty to veto it and I'm very proud to veto it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[13:09:46] WHITFIELD: Congress isn't done yet. More on that straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: President Donald Trump is once again doubling down on his campaign promise for a border wall. He has now signed the first veto of his presidency to protect his national emergency declaration after the House and Senate passed a resolution to block it. President Trump says that move puts countless Americans in danger. So it is his duty, he says, to veto it.
And the U.S. attorney general also weighing in on the veto.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency. Therefore, to defend the safety and security of all Americans, I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless resolution and that is what it was.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Mr. President, your declaration of an emergency on the southern border was clearly authorized under the law and consistent with past precedent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me now CNN political analyst and congressional reporter for the "Washington Post," Rachael Bade, and CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.
Good to see both of you.
[13:15:03] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thank you.
RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Ron, you first.
This is an interesting moment. There will be more challenges from Congress. There will be lawsuits. And not only does the president justify his veto, but he hears from the U.S. attorney general who does the same thing.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, the U.S. attorney general is going to have to convince someone other than himself very shortly because we already have a coalition of 20 states that has gone to court. And obviously, this is something that will be fought all the way to the Supreme Court. And the issue may ultimately be not only how the Supreme Court decides, but how long this takes. Because I think the opponents of this believe that key part of any kind of legal strategy against it is simply running out the clock until 2020 and preventing the president from doing much. If he gets reelected, it is a different story. But it may be difficult for him to get -- because, don't forget, behind the litigation from the states and other critics, you may see individual landholders pursuing litigation in states like Texas and Arizona over imminent domain.
BROWNSTEIN: And that will be a huge headache for some of the Republican Senators. Don't forget, Republican Senators are up for re- election in Texas and Arizona next year. John Cornyn in Texas, Martha McSally in Arizona, voted for the emergency declaration and may now have to spend the next months defending eminent domain efforts by the federal government against usually conservative ranchers along the border.
WHITFIELD: So, Rachael, how do you see the road ahead, especially when you have 12 Republicans who rebuked the president's national emergency?
BADE: You can't understate the significance of the number of 12 Republicans voting against the president, especially when, the past two years, the Republican Party has largely fallen in line with Trump. And on this issue in particular, a lot of people who voted against him said they support the wall, but they think this is unconstitutional and the founders of our country gave Congress the power of the purse and the president is trying to find the way around that to make his own choices on what to fund.
But I think, at the same time, you have to realize, as Ron was talking about, there were a whole bunch of 2020 Republicans, who up in 2020 in the Senate, who wound up voting with the president. Thom Tillis of North Carolina was one the first Republicans that said this is not constitutional and I'm going to vote against him, I'm going to vote with the Democrats. He flip-flopped, embarrassingly so, over the next few days, and ended up voting with the president on this. And it was all because of 2020, a lot of people would say.
WHITFIELD: -- wrote an op-ed (CROSSTALK)
WHITFIELD: -- and, suddenly, an about-face.
BADE: That's right.
BADE: And all the 2020 Republicans, except one, Susan Collins of Maine, who is a more moderate type of lawmaker, voted with the president. And that again speaks to how much power he still has over the party, even when a lot of them, like Thom Tillis, thought this was unconstitutional.
WHITFIELD: And you say it is notable, too, Ron, don't you?
WHITFIELD: It is not just the 12 who said, we're not supporting this --
WHITFIELD: -- but it is the others who said, we're still with you.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, you had essentially 80 percent of the Senate Republicans vote for an emergency declaration, support an emergency declaration that all of them would have opposed if it was a Democratic president. And it is consistent with what we have seen the way the president has pulled the party not only toward being subservience and acquiescence, in general, but toward a much more nativist hardline toward immigration. And 80 percent of the Senate Republicans last year vote for the biggest cuts in legal immigration since the 1920s. And if we go back to 2016, there were few Republicans echoing him in making the case for the wall. Most of them opposed it. So now you have the vast majority of Senate Republicans have voted to support a mechanism, a means, this national emergency, that over 60 percent or more of Americans have opposed on behalf of goal, building a border wall, that the president has never been able to build majority support for either. And the place I think this is most interesting are these southwestern states where the Democrats gained two Senate seats in 2018, which are now right on the battle for Senate control. Colorado, Cory Gardner was the most vulnerable Republican Senator before this vote. After voting with the president, the "Denver Post" revoked their endorsement of him. And as I said, Arizona and Texas are two places where the president is surprisingly at only around 50 percent or slightly below. And both Republicans, I think, have sent a pretty clear signal, if you're not going to oppose the president on this, when are you going to vote to constrain him.
WHITFIELD: And then another way the president has been challenged this week, from the Senate, it approved ending U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia in the civil war with Yemen.
So might this, however, be an indicator that there are more Republicans that are willing to break, Rachael, with the president? BADE: Yes. It's both sides at once, right? This is certainly a new
chapter for the president right now. In the past two years, before the Democrats took over the House, there's no way that Republican- controlled House would ever bring up a resolution rebuking him for calling on -- using the national emergency declaration to build his wall. This just wouldn't have come up. Now you have Democrats controlling the House, who are pushing back on the president. And there is a sliver of Republicans in the Senate who are willing to break with him. So now -- that group of people has always been there, we just didn't hear from them a lot, the Republicans falling in line with the president. But now you have Democrats who are forcing this issue, and there are Senate Republicans who will side with him on some of these matters. Now, overall, the party, again, is very behind the president
WHITFIELD: He has a very solid approval rating.
BADE: Yes. They are. They are 100 percent. But you're right, he will have to do another veto in the next couple weeks because this resolution rebuking what the United States has done in terms of supporting Saudi Arabia in this war in Yemen, that will pass the House, too, and he will have to veto that as well. It will be the beginning of probably a number of vetoes on foreign policy.
[13:20:51] WHITFIELD: All right. Let's change topics and talk about the hateful massacre in New Zealand. The prime minister there disagrees with the president of the United States when he said, you know, this to the question of whether white nationalism is on the rise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think white nationalism is arising threat around the world?
TRUMP: I don't really. I think that it is a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So just look back at when the president is asked about other incidents, Charlottesville, for one, Pittsburgh, and this is how he handled those matters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.
It is a terrible, terrible thing what is going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done. Something has to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Ron, is there a pattern of a sort of reluctance and ambiguity?
BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. It has always been a mistake for those who treat the president's comments, particularly on anything touching on issues related to race, as impulsive or off-the-cuff. He is very precise and careful in what he says and what he doesn't say. And you go all the way back to March 2016, when he would not condemn David Duke's support in a conversation with Jake Tapper --
BROWNSTEIN: -- right here on CNN just before a clutch of southern states voted through Charlottesville and on. He is not -- he goes out of his way to avoid condemning the violence that is ascending in white nationalism. And also continues to use language that resonates with those groups, particularly describing immigration as invaders.
WHITFIELD: As invaders.
BROWNSTEIN: As invaders.
BROWNSTEIN: And doing it even this week.
WHITFIELD: And what is at the root of this, Rachael? Will we ever know --
BROWNSTEIN: I think we know.
WHITFIELD: -- with clarity?
BADE: I'm not going to speculate what is in the president's head and why he doesn't take a more forceful line pushing back against white supremacy and rebuking it. And I can say, though, that this has been an issue that has really befuddled Republicans as well in the party who know that, long-term, they can't be even remotely seen as condoning such actions and such rhetoric because that will shrink the party's participation in the future. This will be a problem for them going forward. How do you win in 2020, how do you win re-election without rebuking things like this? It should be a no-brainer. And it is not just Democrats. It is Republicans, too. And they want him to take a more forceful line on that. It's just perplexing why --
WHITFIELD: It is perplexing.
WHITFIELD: Which is why, Ron, even on the whole wall issue, knowing that and that pattern and that confusion, you know, it is confusing why there are some who emphatically are for it, those against it, but they vote differently on other matters.
BROWNSTEIN: It's not that perplexing to me. It is a continuum. It is not that all of Trump supporters are sympathetic to white nationalism, by any means. It is that he doesn't want to draw a clear line between the white nationalists and others who are uneasy about demographic change in American and in the world more broadly, because that is the audience he is pitching at. That is why the wall is such a powerful symbol for him, because he believes it embodies his commitment, his commitment to his supporters that he will fight the changes that they view as threatening them. And I think he is unwilling to draw a line somewhere along that continuum between those voters and those who take this to a radical extreme.
WHITFIELD: All right.
BADE: But that might speak to a small segment of the Republican Party, but that is a small segment. You can't win a re-election by just pleasing those people.
WHITFIELD: All right.
BADE: And that's why you have other Republicans, who are like, what is going on with you.
WHITFIELD: We'll have to leave it there because we are breaking news.
Thank you so much, Rachael and Ron. Really appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
BADE: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And this breaking news out of Paris right now. We're just learning that police have detained at least 109 people in their clashes with Yellow Vest protesters. The protests turned violent as people used water cannons, tear gas to disperse the crowds there. Protesters could be seen throwing rocks and setting up barricades. The group has been demonstrating for months now, starting with a protest on gas tax hikes and evolving into a push against French President Emmanuel Macron's policies.
[13:25:22] Back with more right after this.
[13:29:54] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. New Zealand synagogues have closed their doors today in the wake of two deadly mosque attacks. The sign of solidarity marks the first time the country's Jewish community has ever done that on the holy day of Shabbat.
At least 49 people were killed and dozens more injured in the horrifying massacres inside two mosques in Christchurch.
But as some religious communities ban together in the aftermath of the terror attacks, so are far-right extremists around the world.
CNN chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward, has more.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chants on the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, echoed in a suspected terrorist manifesto thousands of miles away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not be replaced.
WARD: White supremacists and Neo-Nazis who believe their culture is being erased by a growing population of minorities. In chat rooms and on the dark web, they talk about the invasion of Muslim migrants who threaten to replace them.
One of their greatest inspirations, the Norwegian white supremacist who murdered nearly 70 students as a summer camp in 2011. The massacre, he says, was intended to defend Western civilization from a growing policy of multi-culturalization.
Across the West, the far right is on the rise, bringing with it a vicious uptick in hate crimes and terrorist attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can ever say, what the price.
WARD: Just in 2017, Muslims were targeted and killed in a Quebec Islamic Center, and in London's Amesbury park, and on a train in Portland, Oregon, a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs fatally stabbed two people.
WARD: Last year, in Berlin, we attended a rally of hundreds of right- wing extremists. "Close the border," they shouted. "Resistance, resistance."
Their hatred is not reserved for Muslim migrants. This man told us a shadowy cabal of globalist controls the world.
(on camera): When you talk about elites and you talk about finance, is that another way of saying Jewish people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WARD: Yes. It is?
(voice-over): "Yes. Let me say it this way, the banking system for sure," he tells us. "Banks, finance, the economy, mainly Jews."
In his 87-page manifesto, the suspected terrorist praised his predecessors and made nods to the online community that nurtured and shared his extremist views.
But their ideology of hate has creeped out of the margins into the mainstream and is growing.
Clarissa Ward, CNN.
WHITFIELD: The New Zealand attack is the latest example of hate being disseminated online. Social media companies scrambled yesterday to remove any videos showing the alleged attacker's live-stream of the massacre.
Let's bring in now our CNN Business reporter, Donie O'Sullivan.
Donie, good to see you.
This is a really huge challenge for all of these social media online companies. They are struggling, are they not, with the responsibility they have versus the technology to kind of stop, you know, people from live-streaming or, you know, really seizing on the opportunity to spread hate?
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Yes, I mean they absolutely are struggling, Fred. I mean, particularly Facebook, a platform of more than two billion people sharing billions of posts every day. And sort of now they are trying to figure out a way, well, how do we police that, how do we prevent somebody like this streaming live on their platform for more 17 minutes a massacre with gunfire and death and weaponry. And we've heard a lot from Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's executives over the last two years, given how much scrutiny they have been under with disinformation and hate speech, about all the steps they have been taking to try to crack down on this. They say they have hired more than 30,000 contractors and employees to try and -- human moderators who are supposed to search for and remove this content. But also supposedly investing millions in artificial intelligence, computer systems that could detect videos like this. This week, that didn't work. It was the New Zealand police that told Facebook that something was going on, on their own platform.
WHITFIELD: And Facebook actually released a statement saying, "New Zealand police alerted to us a video on Facebook shortly after the live-stream commenced and we removed both the shooter's Facebook account and the video."
So while Facebook did act as fast as it could, how concerning is it, I guess, for other media outlets or even consumers that police would be notifying these companies about the type of content that could be on?
[13:35:23] O'SULLIVAN: Sure. I mean, I think a lot of people do have sympathy in some ways for the social media platforms in that this is obviously not an easy thing to find. But at the same time, this is the platforms that they have built. Recently, in "Fortune" magazine, a technologist from Facebook, who is developing this artificial intelligence software to sort of figure out what is going on, gave an example of how their technology can determine the difference between pictures of broccoli and pictures of marijuana, with about a 90 percent accuracy rate. That is an example of how that technology could be potentially used to curtail the sale of narcotics on the platform. But even at a 90 percent success rate, 10 percent, when you are talking about billions of posts, that is a lot of stuff that this technology is missing. And experts are telling us that, in terms of A.I. being able to do what a human moderator could do, we're years away from that. Facebook says they have hired literally tens of thousands of people. But they haven't told us how many people they need.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
Still ahead, U.C. Berkeley is now considering revoking admissions offers and diplomas if any student is involved in that cheating scheme. Will students be forced to pay for the legal sins of their parents? We'll discuss, next.
[13:40:56] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Cal Berkeley is the latest university looking into possible ties to an alleged college admission scam. And the school says that it will revoke diplomas in if it uncovers any wrong coming.
Meantime, a class-action lawsuit has been filed in the wake of the biggest college admission scam ever prosecuted in the U.S. Outraged plaintiffs want these schools involved and the schemes' mastermind to pay up. They claim the schools were negligent and denied students a fair process. The schools were cited in a stunning alleged conspiracy unveiled this week involving celebrities and the wealthy. Prosecutors claim the rich parents used their money to hire a firm to help their children cheat on admission tests, create fake student profiles, pay off people at universities, and then pretend the money was for charity.
Joining us now, Avery Friedman, a civil rights attorney and law professor, and Richard Herman, a criminal defense attorney.
Good to see you both.
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Hi, Fredricka.
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hey, Fred.
Avery, you first.
The students and parents behind the lawsuit are arguing that their admissions process was "warped and rigged by fraud," I'm quoting them, and that they would not have spent the kind of money to apply to these schools had they known the admission process was not fair. So do they have cases?
FRIEDMAN: Well, it is a class-action case for over $5 million. And essentially, it is a consumer law case. And the lawyers are saying, well, if I applied at a university and I spent $80 and there was fraud going on and I didn't get in, that means they owe me $80. How in the world that they will connect these things is anyone's guess because, while it sounds like a legitimate case, this lawsuit involves two Stanford students, now only one. One dropped out. And that student is saying, well, I lost the $80 and the degree that I get from Stanford isn't going to have the value that it had before this scandal. I think these plaintiffs, these lawyers, are going to have a very, very difficult time certifying the class-action.
So, Richard, prosecutors are saying the universities, many of them, are also victims because they didn't know. Do you agree?
HERMAN: Well, they know, did they not know, should they have known. Those are some of the issues in the class-action suit.
WHITFIELD: Some of the teachers, some of the faculty did know because some were allegedly accepting payments, you know.
HERMAN: They were taking bribes.
WHITFIELD: But a lot of the university offices are saying, we didn't know this was going on. So --
HERMAN: That is the shaggy defense, Fred. It wasn't me. I didn't know. But they are seeking class-action status for this one case in the northern district of California. They don't have it yet. But you can just imagine what will go on nationwide from this. This could be the tip of the iceberg, Fred. If you think about the tutoring that goes on in elementary schools and just the prep to take these exams --
WHITFIELD: The preparation.
HERMAN: -- and the SAT preps and graduate programs and the pressure to get into these schools and the groups that help you write essays and help you do it the right way. And then there are the groups that pay for you to get in. I mean, the pressure to get into these higher- echelon schools to get that degree is enormous. And we're seeing what can happen here. And the question is, what happens to a student who got in based on this, excelled at the school, are they going to lose their diploma? Will they get thrown out?
WHITFIELD: I'm sorry. Yes, Cal Berkeley is already saying that if it turns out those who have earned their diplomas already and they were part of any kind of pay scheme like this scheme like this, that they would lose it.
HERMAN: But did they even know what their parents were doing. Did they even know that?
WHITFIELD: That's a good point.
HERMAN: That's right. But if they got in based on fraud --
WHITFIELD: So who has to prove that?
HERMAN: Yes, but who is to say that during the course of their education they weren't cheating also to get the grades to get through the program. It just opens up a whole Pandora's box here. I don't know where it's going to go. They are seeking punitive damages also because they are saying that when they applied to the university, they were entitled to a fair application process, and that the thing was rigged and was no good and it wasn't fair, and they got their hopes up and they got a 4.0 grade point average, perfect ACT scores, all the extracurricular, and were not getting in because the process was fraudulent and rigged. So --
[13:45:30] WHITFIELD: OK.
FRIEDMAN: We've seen it before. We have seen -- in fact, we did some commentary some years back on a kid on Long Island who actually sent in his buddies to take SAT and ACT tests.
WHITFIELD: Yes. That was a big case.
FRIEDMAN: Kids are doing terrible things.
FRIEDMAN: And mothers and fathers, should the children bear the sins of the fathers and mothers for what they are doing? It depends on the facts. I don't think most of the kids had any idea what mom and dad were doing about this.
WHITFIELD: You don't think they should be paying the price --
HERMAN: Maybe, maybe.
WHITFIELD: -- particularly if they have already graduated and moved on, and come to find out their parents --
FRIEDMAN: That's for sure. That is for sure.
WHITFIELD: All right. Fascinating stuff.
Avery, Richard, always good to see you.
HERMAN: Good to see you Fred.
FRIEDMAN: Happy St. Patrick's Day.
WHITFIELD: And Happy St. Patrick's Day.
WHITFIELD: Appreciate it.
Still ahead, President Trump calls it fake, but there's new evidence that could further support the infamous Steele dossier. Details on that, next.
[13:50:50] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Today, we're learning about new evidence that shows yet another part of that Steele dossier might prove to be true relating to how Russian intelligence allegedly hacked into Democratic targets in the 2016 campaign.
Here now is CNN's Pam Brown.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New evidence about how Russian intelligence might have exploited a private web-hosting company of Russian technology entrepreneur, Aleksej Gubarev, in an effort to trick Democratic targets into giving up their passwords. The fruits of those hack formed the basis of the WikiLeaks e-mail dumps that roiled the race. This, according to analysis done on behalf of "Buzzfeed" by former FBI cyber agent and CNN contributor, Anthony Ferrante, as part of a civil suit between "Buzzfeed" and Gubarev.
ANTHONY FERRANTE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR & FORMER FBI CYBER AGENT: The scope of our investigation was to conduct a technical investigation to determine the accuracy of the allegations stated in the Steele dossier.
BROWN: The 35-page dossier by former British spy, Christopher Steele, claims Gubarev played a, quote, "significant role" in the hacking operation under duress from the Russian security agency, FSB. Gubarev has denied involvement in the hack and sued "Buzzfeed" for publishing that portion of the dossier. The analysis does not show Gubarev or his company knew anything about whether the hackers used his company servers.
An attorney for Gubarev tells CNN, "Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the 12 Russians responsible for the hacking. Those are the folks responsible, not us."
TERRANTE: What we determined was that there were 16 specific and unique instances in which we could tie XBT infrastructure, or its affiliates, to significant malicious cyber activity. BROWN: But it does not address the more explosive claims, that the
Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But that fraud of the fake dossier, the phony dossier.
BROWN: Over the last couple of years, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, as well as congressional committee probes, have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, including the claims the Russians tried to develop a closer relationship with Trump by offering him lucrative real estate business deals.
TRUMP: Zero. I mean, I will tell you right now, zero. I have nothing to do with Russia. Zero. Zero.
BROWN: Trump's former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, testified that he and Trump were, in fact, negotiating a potential deal about building a Trump Tower in Moscow, with efforts continuing as late as the summer of 2016, as Trump was clinching the Republican nomination for president. Despite past denials of ever doing business with Russia, Trump now brushes the project aside.
TRUMP: This deal was a very public deal. Everybody knows about this deal. I wasn't trying to hide anything.
When I run for president, that doesn't mean I'm not allowed to do business. I was doing a lot of different things when I was running.
BROWN: And despite Trump's claims of little to no contact with Russia, prior to his election victory and inauguration, we have learned, in fact, at least 16 Trump associates had contacts with Russians either during the election or the presidential transition. One such interaction took place in June 2016, at Trump Tower in New York, when Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort all met with several Russians who offered dirt on Clinton.
And Vladimir Putin himself has admitted one of the central allegations of the dossier was true, he preferred Trump to win the election, rather than Hillary Clinton.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.
BROWN (on camera): It is important to note other parts of the dossier have not been verified, including a claim that has gotten a lot of attention. The claim that Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in the summer of 2016 to coordinate with Russian officials in order to cover up the Russian election meddling. Cohen has denied this repeatedly, including under oath, to Congress, just recently.
Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.
[13:54:57] WHITFIELD: And still ahead, the FBI says domestic terror arrests were up in the last three months of 2018. So why is hate- filled crime on the rise? We'll talk about that, next.
WHITFIELD: Hello, again. Thanks so much for sticking with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We are learning new details behind the horrific attacks in New Zealand that left 49 innocent people dead. And some of those who narrowly escaped the line of fire are now beginning to speak out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard the sound of the gun. And the second one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I remember just jumping and the people waiting outside, I said get away from the mosque, and they said, what's going on, and I said, just run away. They keep firing inside. You're not safe. Run away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I drove past the mosque and there were a lot of bodies outside. Sorry. We've just been waiting here to see if our son is all right but he's not answering his phone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)