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Pete Buttigieg Gaining Ground in Iowa & New Hampshire Polls; Buttigieg/Pence Feud Over Faith & Gay Marriage Gets Personal; Andrew Yang Wants to Use Holograms to Reach Voters in Different Places at Same Time; Amazon Admits It Pays People to Listen to You Through Alexa; Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Breaking Tradition with Birth of 1st Child; Two New Fronts In President Donald Trump's Border Battle; New Jersey Senator Cory Booker Is Trying To Ramp-Up His Presidential Campaign With A Nationwide Tour; Sanders Says Monday Is The Day Ten Years Of Tax Returns Will Be Released. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired April 13, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You have made to the weekend. You are live in the NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
We have breaking news. We are covering this afternoon an enormous line of violent and dangerous storms, cutting a wide path in Texas, in Louisiana and moving fast. Weather officials now confirm at least one tornado did touch down a short time ago in the small town northeast of Austin. Several people are reportedly hurt.
These photos just in to CNN showing more of the damage now around the town of Franklin. The emergency is nowhere near over yet, but about 40 million people are still in potential danger from this line of storms right now.
Let's go to the CNN severe weather center and meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.
Ivan, show us where people should seek health is right now?
IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Ana. I think another four to six hours of this. In fact, the national weather service expanded the tornado watch. So we will show you that with this big spring storm at this point winter fighting spring. And in the middle, we have quite a battle going on with significant damage to some of the structures there. And unfortunately, some injuries as well.
So we are talking now eastern Texas, just north of Houston. That's what the tornado watches. And it has now been expanded to include portions of western Mississippi. So a good 430 miles across. That's what we are talking about here.
Five tornadoes report to confirm touchdowns. We are also hearing with damaging winds. You don't have to have the wind spinning to cause significant problems and that's what we have. Large hail, by the way, baseball-sized hail. That's how strong these updrafts to maintain that hail up in the atmosphere have been here and that's what we have had the kind of weather we had so far the last several hours. More to come. I think in the next two hours, Louisiana, this is going
to be your turn unfortunately for the peak of the system as far as the severe weather potential. And that's where the bull's-eye is, Louisiana and to western Mississippi, not forgetting you and Alabama, and eventually into Georgia. But it is just right now the focus across this area, again, for what we have already seen.
So let's put this into motion. Now, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., everything moves from Louisiana heading up into Mississippi as well as Jackson and then eventually heading into Alabama. Although, by the time that happens I think the storms will take more of what we call a linear path, which means straight-line wind damage. Still, it is going to be quite a night here as we continue to track what is day two now of severe weather. We have another round coming up for tomorrow. First things first, we will get through this one and it is nowhere near done - Ana.
CABRERA: Oh, boy, Ivan Cabrera. We will check back with you also. Of course, keep our viewers posted on injuries and more damage as we get that information.
We are also staying on top of two new fronts in President Trump's border battle. One of which he admits is true, the other he claims is not.
Senior administration officials tell CNN that the President offered customs and border protections commissioner Kevin McAleenan a pardon if he were jailed for ordering agents to stop asylum seekers from entering the U.S. That order would have broken the law. Now, those Sources tell Jake Tapper the offer was made eight days ago during the same border trip where McAleenan joined the President and then homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Nielsen was fired two days later and McAleenan is now head of DHS.
Last night on twitter, the President denied making a pardon offer. But yesterday, he acknowledged something his own White House denied earlier in the day that he is strongly looking at dumping undocumented immigrants and so-called sanctuary cities around the U.S.
I want to bring in CNN political analyst and senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News" Margaret Talev and also CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney Aretha Martin.
So Margaret. Here is the President yesterday pointing out one of his likely sanctuary city targets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: California certainly is always saying, oh, we want more people, and they want more people in their sanctuary cities. Well, we will give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. And let's see if they are so happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Margaret, if the President believes these are dangerous people, if he thinks there is a national emergency at the border, why does he want to put immigrants in city where is it would be harder to deport them?
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Ana, actually that's what a lot of Democrats are asking the President right now. Of course, it should come as no surprise that he singled out California in part because of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, in part because California is a democratic state. The President always seems to forget that Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Congress is also from California.
But it is sort of mixed messaging, because, in fact, what makes you a sanctuary city is when you say I'm not going to kind of aggressively cooperate with federal authorities if I don't have to do kind of oust people living here without documentation. And so on the one hand the President is saying, they shouldn't be allowed to do that and on the other hand he is saying, I will take people and bus them to your city.
So that's sort of -- that's one kind of point that's in conflict. But another is just the kind of entire legal predicate for doing this which is what his own folks in the administration have advised him that, you know, agencies are not supposed to do things for political reasons. They are supposed to do things for policy purposes, and when the President is out saying this would be political retribution it makes it very hard to claim that there was a dive-in policy reason for doing it.
[16:05:20] CABRERA: Areva, how do you see it? Is this yet another example of the President using the border to score political points instead of treating his as a true national emergency he declares it to be?
AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Yes. Not just using the border, Ana, but using individuals. We are talking about human beings here. We are not talking about, you know, objects or, you know, inanimate objects. We are talking about real people and their lives and we have seen the President's policy with respect to people crossing the border, separating mothers from their children, and this is yet another inhumane policy to suggest that we are not going to grant asylum hearing, we are not going to follow United States law as well as international law with respect to people who are trying to legally enter the country, but rather we are going to take these very same people who the President says are dangerous people.
We have to remember, the President says these are murderers. They are drug dealers. They are rapists. So to say that he wants to take these people that he has described as dangerous and put them into cities and states where, you know, he is not popular, particularly like the state of California, it's really astonishing, it's shameful in many ways, and I'm glad to hear at least that some people in his administration were pushing back and at least advising him this was not just illegal but it is really immoral.
CABRERA: One person who has been, I guess you could say fanning the flames, maybe playing to the President's worst instincts when it comes to sort of this anti-immigrant stance is White House senior adviser Stephen Miller. We know he has lobbied for this sanctuary plan. He was angry at DHS lawyers wouldn't produce legal guidance to back it. But the President this week downplayed Miller's influence -- watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Stephen is an excellent guy. He is a wonderful person. People don't know him. He is a -- been with me from the beginning. He is a brilliant man. And frankly, there's only one person that's running it. You know who that is? It's me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Margaret, President Trump says don't look any further than him when it comes to his immigration policy, but what about the Democrats who control half of Congress?
TALEV: Well, they do control the purse strings at least until the Supreme Court says otherwise. And so you have naturally what is teeing up to be another court fight ultimately. But I think with some of these moves - these two most recent moves that we are talking about, both whether he did or didn't instruct the now interim director of DHS and also his plan for sanctuary cities, what this does is fill in a little bit more context to Kirstjen Nielsen ouster from her role at DHS and to the President's desire in consultation with Stephen Miller to be more aggressive on those border policies and let the courts decide whether they are legal or not. And that's now we are understanding a little bit more of the granularity of how he has been proposing doing this and how he may be pushing on either top existing staff like the general counsel or DHS who resisted, like the head of DHS who is now out and like the interim now, pushing on then to push the limits of the law.
CABRERA: Areva, would sanctuary cities have any standing to sue and would their legal position be weak and in any way by their refusal to work with agencies like ICE?
MARTIN: Well, I think you see attorney generals around the country particularly those in states like California and Texas definitely going into courts asking the courts to prohibit the President from implementing this policy.
But Ana, I don't even know if we get there. What we see on Trump on a daily basis or these bold and, you know, really broad pronouncements such as I'm going to build a wall. I'm going to shut down the borders and now this pronouncement about, you know, putting these immigrants into sanctuary cities. And none of which we have seen come to fruition.
So I think attorney generals will be prepared to go to court to fight this policy if it were to move forward. But I think this is just another opportunity for Trump to rally his base, throw red meat to his base and I don't see it having a lot of substance behind it.
CABRERA: Ladies, let's turn to another controversy this weekend. This one involving Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The President is being condemned by Democrats from Congress to the campaign trail for a chilling video he tweeted. And it shows clips from some of the most horrific moments of the 9/11 attacks alongside comments Omar made that some considered dismissive of the attack.
Here is what the congresswoman said about 9/11 in its full context.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ILHAN OMAR (D), MINNESOTA: Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. And frankly I'm tired of it. And every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CARE was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:10:17] CABRERA: Margaret, some lawmakers are accusing the President of putting Omar's life in danger with the video he tweeted out. Any sign from the White House of regret?
TALEV: No. But that, that video, what you are talking about, is something we have not seen past presidents do when they are going after political targets in the opposing party. Not even the last two presidents. And there used to be an expression and politics stops at the water's edge. I think we all know that expression has been kind off to the side lately.
But 9/11 is kind of one of those sacrosanct times that did bring the country politically together in terms of fighting terrorism. And what the President did with juxtaposing images of 9/11 with Ilhan Omar is certainly provocative act. I think he is looking at it as a wedge, a way to turn Democrats against one another and to give him some advantage heading into the 2020 election season. We don't yet know how that sort of plays with the middle of America, the sort of more centrist voters, but it is certainly a provocative act. And he knew what he was doing and he did it anyway.
CABRERA: The congresswoman responded today with her own tweet. It reads, no one person no matter how corrupt, inept or vicious can threaten my own wavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.
Areva, you are a civil rights lawyer. Are Omar civil rights' being denied here when she is effect being compared by the President to terrorists?
MARTIN: Yes. I'm very concerned about this tweet, Ana, on a lot of different levels. We are talking about a junior congresswoman, a minority woman, who has stated very publicly that she has faced death threats, that she fears, you know, there is some legitimate, you know, claims being made of people who want to do harm to her, who want to, you know, harm her physically, and we have this imbalance of power. We have the President using his bully pulpit with all of his power basically coming after this young woman, because, and I don't believe she was trying to dismiss the significance or the importance of 9/11.
She loves this country. She recognizes the importance of that. She was merely making the statement that the acts done by 19 Muslims should not be the cause of the 1.6 billion Muslims, you know, throughout the world to suffer any forms of discrimination or any forms of, you know, physical attacks.
And I'm really proud of some of the Democrats that have come forward, the presidential -- some of the candidates, ALC and others in Congress who have stepped forward to condemn the President, who called out other Democrats as well as Republicans whose have not stood in solidarity with her. I think these kinds of threats that - they are not just mean-spirited they are dangerous. And I think we should see more people calling out the President for this kind of conduct, because it does put this young woman at risk.
CABRERA: Areva Martin and Margaret Talev, thank you, ladies, for joining us.
TALEV: Thanks, Ana.
MARTIN: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: Coming up, millionaires and billionaires and Bernie. The presidential candidate hits the campaign trail after revealing he is now one of the one percent.
Plus, a story that will have you asking, Alexa, is there an Amazon employee listening to me? A new report about what's really happening when you talk to your Amazon device.
And as the world awaits, the arrival of a new royal baby, there are new details about how Prince Harry and Megan are doing things a little differently from Will and Kate.
[16:17:56] CABRERA: Welcome back. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is trying to ramp-up his presidential campaign with a nationwide tour. This afternoon he addressed his first major 2020 campaign rally. A kickoff event in Newark where he served two terms as mayor. And he laid out why he are running for the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Too many people believe the forces tearing us apart are stronger than the bonds that hold us together. Well, I don't believe that. I believe we will bring our country together. I believe we will achieve things that other people say are impossible. I believe we will make justice real for all people, and that is why I am running for president of the United States of America.
And to the people across the country who don't speak English as their first language, I want to say to many of you, (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE). I will about President for all people in America. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Booker is looking to pick up momentum during his two-week national tour where he will hit several states including Iowa, Georgia and Nevada.
Now within the hour, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is set to hold a campaign rally in a Michigan town hurt by the upcoming closure of the GM plant as he faces questions about his newfound wealth. Sanders is on a swing through the rust belt hitting the states that once formed a Democratic blue wall, but that wall crumbled in 2016 when Michigan and other rust belt states rejected Hillary Clinton and voted for Donald Trump.
CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now from Warren, Michigan where Sanders will speak soon.
Ryan, Sanders has yet to release his taxes. He says those are coming but he is already on the defensive about what he may reveal. What is he saying today?
[16:20:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. No doubt when Bernie Sanders is asked about his newfound wealth, he is expected to reveal that he is now a millionaire because of book sales. He has written a number of books about his political revolution and they have reaped in some pretty significant royalties. And although, we haven't seen his taxes yet he has admitted that he is now part of this millionaire class which he has railed against for the bulk of his political career.
Now, it is pretty clear that Sanders doesn't like talking about this and he believes the millions that he has earned is different than the corporations and the big CEOs that he is railed against. This is how he explained it at an earlier campaign stop today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think so. I didn't know it was a crime to write a good book which turned out to be a best-seller.
SANDERS: And my view has always been that we need a progressive tax system, which demands that the wealthiest people in this country finally start paying their fair share of taxes. And if I make a lot of money, you make a lot of money, that is what I believe. So I don't apologize for writing a book that was number three on the "New York Times" best-seller translated into five or six languages. That's that.
Other question? By the way -- by the way -- this bothers me a little bit. Maybe we might want to talk about Gary Indiana. Maybe we might want to talk about poverty. Maybe we might want to talk about newfound wealth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: So you can hear there senator Sanders clearly doesn't enjoy talking about this, but part of the reason the questions keep coming up is because he has delayed releasing his taxes. This was a promise he made shortly after he announced his campaign for president. And keep in mind he is also really hammered President Trump for not releasing his taxes during the 2016 campaign.
Now, Ana, we are told those tax returns could come very soon, within the next couple days. He has pointed to April 15th, tax day, being his target to release them and that's where we'll get the answers to some of these questions - Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Ryan Nobles in Warren, Michigan. Thanks.
For more on Sanders' new found millionaire status, here is CNN's Drew Griffin.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the question is, will Bernie Sanders stop talking about the one percent now that he is part of the one percent?
GRIFFIN (voice-over): He is famously one of the poorest men in the Senate, a lifelong politician who talks about his hard scramble Brooklyn-born life as an example he is one of the people. The 99 percent Bernie Sanders repeatedly says has been left out of the American dream.
SANDERS: Creating an economy and a government that works for all, not just the one percent.
GRIFFIN: It is a message that has driven his campaign for years now, and that campaigning may have created an awkward problem for Sanders because he is now part of the one percent.
KAREN FINNEY, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Be interesting to see if senator Sanders changes his message now that he is a millionaire and is part of the one percent. Perhaps he can talk about himself as someone in the one percent who still cares about the 99 percent.
GRIFFIN: His congressional salary has gone from $125,000 a year in 1991 to its current $174,000 as a U.S. senator. But since 2016, Sanders income has skyrocketed, making more than a million dollar as year, mostly from selling books.
In 2016, "Our Revolution" and other royalties brought in $861,000 for Sanders.
In 2017, released his "Guide to Political Revolution" and made another $880,000.
He has yet to file his 2018 disclosure, but he did release yet another book "Where We Go from Here." Sanders has made royalties of $1.75 million in just two years. Simply
put, challenging the excesses of the rich has made Bernie Sanders rich.
His three homes include a Capitol Hill town home, a house in Burlington, Vermont. And in 2016, Sanders and his wife purchased this $575,000 Vermont summer home on Lake Champlain through a family trust.
It all adds up to Sanders still being one of the poorest members of the United States Senate but enough to raise and perhaps dodge questions about his wealth especially when it comes to releasing his tax records.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, SITUATION ROOM: When do you think we will be able to see your tax returns?
SANDERS: Sooner than later.
BLITZER: When is that?
GRIFFIN: Sanders has been here before. In this 2016 presidential run he was pressured to file his personal financial disclosures with the federal elections commission. He twice asked for filing extensions, he never filed anything. Just left the race.
Karen Finney, a then spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign said this time around things are different.
[16:25:07] FINNEY: He is now the front-runner. And so these kinds of questions about your tax returns aren't issues you can kick the can down the road anymore.
GRIFFIN: Now Sanders says Monday is the day ten years of tax returns will be released. We will see.
GRIFFIN: Ana, Sanders campaign may also be having a hard time talking about Sanders wealth. We sent multiple questions about the senator's net worth, how much he made last year, with the buying that summer home a trust was going to avoid taxes. All we got back was a very short response describing that trust is revocable, meaning it is less likely it was done for taxes. But for all of those other money questions, no response at all -- Ana.
CABRERA: Drew Griffin, thank you.
Coming up, presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and his high profile back and forth with the vice president.
[16:30:24] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Pete Buttigieg makes it official this weekend and move from the exploratory phase to a full-blown presidential campaign. Recent polls show Buttigieg running third in the all-important states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Right now, there's a tidal wave of attention and hype focused on the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg is a Rhodes Scholar, served in the Navy during the Afghanistan War and, if elected, would become the nation's first gay president.
"Washington Post" opinion columnist, Ed Rogers, says Buttigieg's time in the spotlight, "What is happening is a naturally occurring part of the campaign season referred to as the Cinderella cycle. Every candidate wants to be the chosen one, who will turning out to be the desirable princess. All candidates want the slipper to fit. At any given time, one candidate has the slipper and is trying it on. Soon it will land in another candidates' hands."
With us now, Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent and anchor of "REALIABLE SOURCES."
Brian, granted the media cycle moves so fast and the campaign season is so long.
CABRERA: How has Buttigieg's media strategy allowed him to seize this Cinderella moment?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Because he's been seemingly everywhere, willing to go on lots of television shows, comedy specials, podcasts. He has found a way to introduce himself to the country. And it is unlike a lot of the other candidates, field of 20, we've seen. Mayor Pete, says he's OK being called, since it's hard to say Buttigieg, was relatively unknown until a few months ago. He's willing to say yes to almost every request. On the cover of "Time" magazine. Been on FOX News, despite the Democrat National Committee's aversion to FOX News. And he made a choice to be as visible as possible to get name recognition leading up to tomorrow's event.
CABRERA: He doesn't seem to be worried about a potential gap and hasn't stayed away from FOX News. The day of digital media, and the ability to put mistakes out there, to be exploited, to be shared, to amplified on social media, he doesn't back down away from that challenge?
STELTER: The more confident you are about your positions and your identity or brand as a politician, the more natural you can be giving these kinds of interviews. You're right. He hasn't had those moments where he's had to walk things back or regretted various interviews. He's had a very strong rollout. I spoke with one of his advisers, who said, we're willing to go on podcasts, on usual formats like the breakfast radio show, a lot of attention among Democratic contenders. Been on "The View." He's been on a lot of these shows introducing himself. In an interesting way, his odd, funny name, hard to say, helps him. Makes people curious. How do you say "Buttigieg?" Curiosity about that. There's been a lot of factors that helped him out. And more importantly, he comes across on television and radio that is personable and warm and that's --
CABRERA: He seems sincere and not so calculated, perhaps.
CABRERA: One other thing that has given him a lot of media attention, the back and forth with the vice president. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG, (D), MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND & PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not critical of his faith. I'm critical of bad policies. I don't have a problem with religion. I'm religious, too. I have a problem with religion being used as a justification to harm people, and especially in the LGBTQ community.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Pete's quarrel is with the First Amendment.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: How so?
PENCE: All of us in this country have the right to our religious beliefs. I'm a Bible-believing Christian.
BASH: Is that belief that --
PENCE: My wife and I -- my wife and I are Bible-believing Christians. We cherish or faith. We put our trust in God's word. As do tens of millions of Americans. And I think, as he seeks the highest office of the land, as he seeks to be that person that takes oath of office to uphold the Constitution, he'd do well to reflect on the importance of respecting freedom of religion of every American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Brian, Buttigieg later admitted to CNN's Dan Merica this back and forth with the vice president has been good for his candidacy. But are there any downsides?
STELTER: I think that's true, there has been boosting Buttigieg among the Democratic base. I think what he's trying to do is create contrast. President Trump is not the only person that he can contrast with. Pence is another. Buttigieg later said my issues is not with the vice president's faith but with bad policies. I wonder if this will continue or not at this point, if there's any more to say about it. The challenge for Buttigieg is it's only April. At this point in 2015, President Trump wasn't even in the race yet. A long way to go before the first primaries. What will he do to keep building his identify, keep building momentum is another question? He's seized the moment so far. At the CNN town hall, for example, he seized that moment and people talking about it. He raised more money off of it. It' interesting to see how he's built this up, step by step, leading up to tomorrow's announcement.
[16:35:16] CABRERA: You mentioned town halls. Glad you did. I have one this weekend with some lesser-known candidates. We have Marianne Williamson with Dana Bash, who is hosting that one. And then Andrew Yang tomorrow at 7:00. I'll be hosting.
STELTER: I'll be watching.
CABRERA: And don't forget to watch Brian's show tomorrow morning, "RELIABLE SOURCES," tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m., here on CNN.
STELTER: Thank you.
CABRERA: Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang, has his own idea of what campaigning for 2020 looks like - holograms. The Democratic candidate says he wants to use the technology to reach multiple audiences in battleground states at the same time. And he debuted what it could look like with this video. This on TMZ Live. He shows a hologram of himself alongside - he was rapping there -- alongside a hologram of Tupac Shakur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): It is -- you, sort of performing with a Tupac hologram, a very famous Tupac hologram forming America's Most Wanted. Can you explain -- I was asking the producers -- what's the -- the plan here?
ANDREW YANG, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): Well, if you look closely at that footage, you'll see that actually not me performing with hologram Tupac. That's a hologram of me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I hope that piqued your curiosity. Again, I'll be moderating a town hall featuring Andrew Yang tomorrow night at 7:00, here on CNN. It follows a town hall moderated by my colleague, Dana Bash, featuring Democratic candidate, Marianne Williamson.
Coming up, Amazon eavesdropping. A new report about thousands of people listening to what you tell your Alexa devices. And it's raising a lot of questions about privacy.
[16:41:01] CABRERA: Ever wondered if your Alexa device or smart speaker is listening to you or if a real person is listening to you? Guess what? You're not paranoid. Someone might be listening to you. Really. Amazon hires people to do nothing all day but listen to voice commands that people speak out loud to Alexa devices. And sometimes they pick up personal conversations, sounds of activities you might prefer to keep private. Amazon officials say they do this because that's how they constantly improve the service, by hearing how people interact with Alexa. And, yes, they hear people singing in the shower. They hear kids crying and sometimes hear things happening in a bedroom. But, says Amazon -- and this is important -- they say it is anonymous.
This statement from Amazon to CNN, "Employees do not have direct access to information that can identify the person or account. While all information is treated with high confidentiality and we use multifactor authentication to restrict access, service encryption and audits of our controlled environment to protect it, customers can always delete their utterances at any time."
Let me get Geoffrey Fowler in here. He writes about technology for the "Washington Post."
Geoffrey, it's marketed as a live microphone that's always on. Are we essentially bugging our own homes with these things?
GEOFFREY FOWLER, TECHNOLOGY COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: I think we are. Listen, this is an alarming story and alarming because I think it makes many of us realize that what we didn't either want to think about or just hadn't caught up with is that we've put microphones and other devices in our homes that are recording us. We think, oh, it's only going to record when I say the wake word. But if you live with one of these, and as the tech columnist with "The Post, I live with three, mine go off all the time. When there's someone on TV. When it hears something in a song. Every time they do, these companies -- and it's not just Amazon, Google as well -- are keeping a recording of everything that they hear. And no regulations or laws are stopping these companies from holding on to those recordings and doing what they want with them.
CABRERA: What do they do? Do we know how they're using this data that they're collecting as real people are listening?
FOWLER: Yes. In fact, what Amazon is doing with it is not that different from what the industry is doing as a whole. Apple does this as well. Google does this as well. Anytime you see something using artificial intelligence to figure out the answer to something, there's a good chance there are humans somewhere behind the scenes helping to train that artificial intelligence, to teach it whether it got the answer right or wrong. They're listening to snippets of recordings to see if they heard them right. Looking at photos to make sure they're tagged correctly. It's a huge industry that employs thousands of people around the world. In Finland, they have prisoners doing it as part of prison labor.
CABRERA: Wow. People were always concerned about smart technology intruding on our privacy. Some cover camera lenses on laptop computers. We've all had that experience of seeing an advertisement suddenly pop up for something we've just talked about or Googled. How is this different? If Amazon really keeps them anonymous, do people have reason to be concerned? FOWLER: I think what we should think about is, for each individual
person, decide if the trade-off is worth it for you. The trade-off the companies are making, they're not great. You have to decide either do I want the usefulness of having a machine to take my command like a genie in a bottle, and millions love that. But if you do that, these companies said, oh, then we'll hold on to these recordings forever and ever. A bad trade-off. I wish we didn't' have to choose between the two of them. I wish companies like Amazon would stop keeping recordings forever and ever. This is part of the discussion we need to be having about what laws should be in place. Right now, it's a Wild West with data. And companies like Amazon and Google will take as much as they can and they are going to say, oh, that's to help train artificial intelligence to make it smarter. We have to decide, as a society, is that a worthwhile trade-off just to make these things smarter.
[16:45:10] CABRERA: Tell me how to turn off the capability, or if there's a way to do it. Amazon says, opt out, delete data recorded. What do people need to do?
FOWLER: Sure. The best way to turn it off is -- I was talking to a 7-year-old the other day who told me, every night before she goes to bed, she unplugs Alexa. She believes it's spying on her. And she's right to a certain degree. The way to make sure --
FOWLER: She's a smart kid. That's the best way to do it. But what they let you do, if you want to leave it on, you open the Alexa app, go in and see all recordings its ever kept of your house and delete them individually. That's good that they give that option. But I really wish there was an option to say, don't keep the recordings at all. I'm here on television right now, saying, Amazon, please, stop doing this.
CABRERA: Amazon, Alexa, if you're listening -- stop recording.
Geoffrey Fowler, thank you so much for being here.
FOWLER: You bet.
CABRERA: Coming up, the royal baby fever on the other side of the pond. How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are breaking tradition with the birth of their first child.
[16:50:40] CABRERA: The royal baby countdown is on. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the duke and duchess of Sussex, are set to welcome their first child any day now. Don't expect the big photo ops we got right after Prince William and Kate Middleton's children were born. Instead, Kensington Palace says Harry and Meghan, "have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The duke and duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they've had an opportunity to celebrate privately at a new family." CNN's Max Foster has more on the couple could buck tradition with
their royal bundle of joy.
MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The most modern of royal couples is about to have a baby.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Meghan -- (INAUDIBLE)
FOSTER: American mixed-race divorcee, former Hollywood actress, Meghan Markle, married into one of the world's most traditional institutions, the British royal family, last year. Now she expects a baby with husband, Prince Harry.
BONNIE GREER, AUTHOR: The queen, as head of the family, has allowed a lot of conventions to be laid aside for them to be there.
FOSTER: Since the couple decided to move away from Harry's family home, Kensington Palace, to Windsor, speculation mounted about them wanting to do things their own way.
GREER: There's a rumor about this vegan baby and gender neutral. I think that's a little bit over the top. But she certainly, probably, will cook this baby's food.
FOSTER: But what about the centuries-old royal traditions?
RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYAL COMMENTATOR: What you'd expect is they would observe the traditions that they think are appropriate. What we will be watching for possibly celebrity godparents. We'll also be fascinated to see how they dress Baby Sussex.
FOSTER: Those traditions include informing the queen first as soon as the baby is born.
The details of the birth, such as whether it's a boy or girl, the time of birth and the weight, will be announced by email. And possibly on an easel placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. The fountains of Trafalgar Square may turn pink for a girl or blue for a boy. London Bridge and the London Eye could be lit up.
FOSTER: There could be gun salutes at the Tower of London and in Green Park to welcome the baby into the world.
But this baby will be seventh in line to the throne and isn't in the direct line of succession. So the couple can pick and choose which traditions they want to follow. Thankfully, some protocols have been phased out. FITZWILLIAMS: There's an archaic tradition that, in 1688 James II's
wife, Mary of Modena, was, according to vicious rumors, supposed to have given birth to a child that may have been stillborn and an infant might have been smuggled in, in the baby's place.
It became the job of the British home secretary to attend a royal birth. The point was that no impostor could be smuggled in the baby's place.
FOSTER: Sir William Johnson Hicks was the last British home secretary to be present at a royal birth, and that was in 1926 when the current queen was born. And he remained in a room next door to spare embarrassment.
This most contemporary of royal couples will bow to tradition to a degree in public but will do their own things in private.
GREER: Because they are minor royals, this baby has a lot more freedom than Prince George has. George can't do a lot of things because, on day, he'll be king. But their children will not be rulers of the country so they'll probably get to do whatever they want, actually.
FOSTER: Traditional or not, this royal birth will attract the attention of the world.
CABRERA: Want to know the secret to a longer, better life? Don't we all, right? Fortunately, for us, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is doing a lot of the legwork for us, traveling to parts of the world where people live longer than the average life span. It's all part of his new CNN series, "CHASING LIFE." First stop, Japan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are living in Tokyo. In the life of hustle and bustle, they work too hard. So they already tired.
You know kaloshi (ph).
[16:55:13] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overworking deaths.
GUPTA: This forced bathing, does it really seem to help?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I think so.
UNIDENTFIED MALE: Yes.
GUPTA (voice-over): It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that being in nature is good for you.
(on camera): When you're outside and breathing in the natural aromas of the forest, you're exposing yourself to natural tree oils known as phytoncides. That can help lower your stress levels and fast.
The best part of all is the effects I'm talking about can last up to a month after you leave the forest. So even the occasional walk in the woods can do your body a lot of good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Catch the premiere of "CHASING LIFE," tonight at 9:00, here on CNN.
We'll be right back.