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Jon Stewart Slams Congress Over 9/11 First Responders; Former Executive Gives Insight Into Trump As A Businessman; Congress Launches Antitrust Investigation Into Big Tech. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:01] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: When America was attacked, they ran into burning buildings as people ran away from them. And now, 9/11 first responders, they need help and Congress is failing to answer.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that provides health care to those American heroes is set to expire next year if Congress continues to punt on the bill.

Comedian Jon Stewart went to Capitol Hill to address lawmakers and their failure to act. This was dramatic -- watch.


JON STEWART, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS ADVOCATE, FORMER LATE-NIGHT HOST: Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly-empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. It's shameful. It's an embarrassment to the country and it is a stain on this institution.

There is not a person here -- there is not an empty chair on that stage that didn't tweet out never forget the heroes of 9/11. Never forget their bravery. Never forget what they did -- what they gave to this country.

Well, here they are. Your indifference cost these men and women their most valuable commodity, time. It's the one thing they're running out of.

They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours.



Joining us now, John Feal and Brian McGuire. Both were 9/11 responders who accompanied Jon Stewart yesterday.

John was a construction supervisor who assisted at ground zero and had part of his left foot amputated after a steel beam fell on it. And, Brian was a New York City firefighter for 14 years before a diminished lung capacity from the toxins he breathed at ground zero forced him into retirement in 2013.

Gentlemen, thank you for being with us. Thank you for what you did for this city. We certainly honor you every chance we get.

And, Brian, I just want to start with you. What was it like to be in that room while Jon Stewart was delivering that impassioned plea on your behalf?

BRIAN MCGUIRE, RETIRED FROM 9/11-RELATED ILLNESS, FDNY 1999-2013: Thank you for having us. I appreciate the time.

Being in that room yesterday, heartbreaking. Not for me, not for the guy who was sitting to the left or right or me, but for the people who were speaking yesterday.

For example, Det. Lu Alvarez, who was having his 69th cancer chemo treatment today, begging for Congress to help us before we pass away.

I was honored to be in that room yesterday and listen to those testimonies of the first responders of the widow of the students yesterday who were all suffering worse than we are today.

BERMAN: What is the cost to Lu -- to you, Brian, to bring yourself to Washington to have to beg for this money?

MCGUIRE: We're fighting for those who can't be heard to voice their own help and their cause because they are too sick and they are dying.

Just last week alone, we had a rough week of 9/11 first responders. We had seven first responders and recovery workers die due to 9/11 cancer. We are here trying to help those families to bring some closure.

BERMAN: So, John, again, we all listened to Jon Stewart yesterday. He has been such a forceful advocate for this cause and I know you guys are all very close to him and thank him.

You also have some insight as to how Jon Stewart got to this point yesterday. Take us behind the scenes from before the hearing, John.

JOHN FEAL, 9/11 RESPONDER, FOUNDER, THE FEALGOOD FOUNDATION: Well, again, John, thanks for having me. Big fan -- watch you guys every morning, so humbled.

You know, listen, Jon's a dear friend of mine and inside the 9/11 community and outside of the 9/11 community, Jon and I do a lot of work together.

And over the last several days, Jon was floundering with his speech and Jon Stewart doesn't flounder -- trust me. And I said Jon, do it from the heart. But, Jon had a prepared statement.

But I also knew that Ray Fifo (ph), who was a dear friend of mine and Brian's, and Jon, who passed away two years ago, was so dear to Jon. When his name was brought up, Jon would cry. [07:35:00] And, Ray's golf outing was the other day and there was a jacket that was being auctioned, and I outbid everybody for that jacket. I made sure I got down to D.C. before Jon arrived and I had my team of 40 people sign it.

And then, before Jon got to D.C., me and Jon met outside the Hill and we had our 15 minutes of intimacy where we -- and I gave Jon a handwritten letter to get him started on that emotional journey because I know how Jon ticks. I know what the 9/11 community means to this man.

And I knew he would be an emotional wreck by the time he got to the guys with the jacket. And when he got there, they gave him this jacket. And to see him genuinely cry, I knew that Jon Stewart was going to be in rare form.

And after that when we got into the hearing, Jon was looking at the speech and then I whispered in his ear from behind -- I was sitting behind him. I said, "Jon, did you notice that there aren't many members of Congress in this committee room today?" And I said, "Can you see this one? He's falling asleep." And I said, "Do you see this one? He's on his cell phone."

I said it's disrespectful to those who came down here with cancers that we're sitting here and they're not taking this serious enough.

And listen, Jerry Nadler does a great job. I love Jerry Nadler.

But, you know, I've been doing this longer than anybody and I know when I see people that are in -- they're just not sincere and I didn't -- I didn't sense that yesterday.

And I think by that time, Jon Stewart had enough and Jon Stewart did what he did best. Jon Stewart articulated our pain and suffering and our agony over the last 18 years.

And, Jon painted a picture for America to see. He painted a landscape to let America know that over 95,000 who were in the World Trade Center health program that are being treated across our great nation are being forgotten by our federal government -- by Congress, a dysfunctional body of work who continues to fail us.

You know, we have battled these people now for over 15 years. These are the same people that promised to fix yesterday's problems today, maybe tomorrow, and we're tired of it. We don't got to put up with it anymore.

They're Congress. They work for us. Anybody who has an issue in America should go to the House that we own, whether it's the Senate or the Congress, and demand that these members work for you. We voted them in, our taxpayers -- we pay their salaries. They work for us.

That's my approach and that's why after 278 trips to D.C. I have zero tolerance for any member of Congress or the Senate. And I hope they don't like me. I don't want them to like me. BERMAN: Again, I could listen to you talk forever. And, you know, you give Jon Stewart so much praise, but I am sure he would say that you two and the others that he is helping are the ones who have sacrificed so much and are the ones who have done all the truly important work.

John, just quickly, when you looked at that stage and you saw the empty seats, and when you saw, as you say, someone closing their eyes there, how did that make you feel?

FEAL: Not shocked. This is -- this -- yes, we take our work seriously.

We got in our cars, drove down 95, sat in traffic. Many had to get out and take their medication or re-change an oxygen tank or get in a wheelchair just so they can get to the rest stop. Get back in, get back onto the road, get into D.C. We take everything we do serious.

You know, everybody that I bring to D.C., they're not on vacation. They're there to advocate for the tens of thousands of people that can't be there.

So, while we're taking something serious and if Congress does not sense our urgency and doesn't feel how serious we're taking this, well then, yes, they're going to get blasted by somebody like Jon Stewart. Kudos to Jon Stewart.

You know what? We would not be talking right now if Jon Stewart read a prepared statement yesterday. John would have read from a piece of paper like everybody else and everybody else who testified did a great job.

BERMAN: They did.

FEAL: Let me tell you something. I'm not a crier -- I don't cry. And yesterday, I think America got to see me cry a lot. And I don't cry well because I'm pretty ugly on camera --

BERMAN: Well --

FEAL: And --

BERMAN: You're a very handsome man.

FEAL: -- there was ugly crying for me and it was real.

BERMAN: You're a very handsome man, John. You are a very handsome man.

FEAL: No, but --

BERMAN: Listen --

FEAL: -- that was -- that was -- that was some serious --

But, you know, listen, Luis Alvarez is a dear friend of mine -- BERMAN: Yes.

FEAL: -- and Luis is going to die in the near future and I have to go to another wake. I've been to over 180 of these funerals. This is painful, this is sad.


FEAL: And I'm tired of listening to excuses of why these men and women, uniform and non-uniform, especially the children of Lower Manhattan -- there were 12 schools in the geographic map --

BERMAN: Can I ask you John, what's the holdup? What's the holdup? Who is -- who is standing in the way of you getting this money right now as far as you're concerned?

[07:40:00] FEAL: Well, history will show you in 2010 and 2015 it was Republican leadership. We just went to through the House. We have over 300 cosponsors.

Kudos to my teams that made 12 trips and had about 400 meetings in the last six months. We've kicked butt. But now, we're going to go into the Senate where bills go to die because it's run by a bunch of cranky old white men who are trying to keep control of this country.

So, I mean, Mitch McConnell, we're on our way. Lindsey Graham, we're on our way.

You know who we are. We met with you before. We're just not going to take your crap this time.

BERMAN: John --

FEAL: It's that simple.

BERMAN: John Feal, Brian McGuire, thank you.

Again, thank you for what you've already done. Thank you for what you're doing. Let us know how we can help.

FEAL: No, thank you for telling our story because without you telling our story this remains a New York issue.

There's 433 out of 435 congressional districts in this country that sent somebody to ground zero, the Pentagon or Shanksville that are affected by 9/11. And there are 12,000 people now with a certified cancer that NIOSH -- the federal government said yes, 9/11 caused your cancer.

So, thank you CNN because you guys took this yesterday and ran it all night. And now, you're doing it again today. So, thank you.

BERMAN: Well --

MCGUIRE: Thank you. BERMAN: You guys are working very hard on this. And again, please let us know how we can help more, John Feal and Brian McGuire. Thanks very much for being us this morning.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And we are honored to have them as viewers of CNN.


CAMEROTA: We are honored that they watch us this morning and they could never have found a better spokesperson -- well, first of all -- than those two gentlemen.


CAMEROTA: But also, Jon Stewart. I mean, obviously, his passion has so aligned with their need and it just works to get everyone's attention.

BERMAN: Well, how can you not have passion when you listen to John and Brian tell their story? When they talk about how they had to drive down, get out of the car to take their medication. The sacrifices they are making to have to go and beg to get the money that they need. And this problem is not going away.

CAMEROTA: And as they point out, they didn't wait for a second when 9/11 called. They, within five seconds as Jon Stewart said, responded.

BERMAN: All right, a lot more ahead. We'll be right back.


[07:46:21] CAMEROTA: So, what is it like to work for President Trump? A former top executive with the Trump Organization is offering insight into the president's family business in a new book called "The Real Deal: My Decade Fighting Battles and Winning Wars With Trump."

CNN's Cristina Alesci just interviewed author George Sorial and she joins us now. Cristina, what did you learn?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: So, this is a guy who has worked alongside and with the president on a number of projects for over a decade, and he just left the company to promote this book.

But while he was at the company he was at the center of a fight over whether or not the president's company should be accepting payments from governments, both domestic and foreign, and that was a very interesting part of the interview.

But what struck me most about this interview was the fact that he couldn't give me a direct answer when I pressed him on whether the president lies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GEORGE SORIAL, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION, AUTHOR, "THE REAL DEAL: MY DECADE FIGHTING BATTLES AND WINNING WARS WITH TRUMP": He's a firm believer in hitting back. For some people it may not work, but that's his style. That's what makes him comfortable.

ALESCI (on camera): That's the way he --

SORIAL: But there was a whole --

ALESCI (on camera): That's the way he fights.

SORIAL: Yes, and there was a whole --

ALESCI (on camera): He's going to hit below the belt, he's going to be unfair, and he's very upfront about it.

SORIAL: Well --

ALESCI (on camera): So, my question to you is does that include lying? If he has to lie to win, will he?

SORIAL: I can't answer that question. And, you know, look, the way --

ALESCI (on camera): Why? I mean --

SORIAL: You cannot measure someone like Trump who is a consummate salesman. You have to measure him in his actions. You can't look at every single word he said.

ALESCI (on camera): He's the President of the United States. We have to look at every single word he says now.

SORIAL: He's an unconventional president and I think you get what you see.

ALESCI (on camera): Does that include lying?

SORIAL: He's never lied to me.

ALESCI (on camera): Have you ever seen him lie?

SORIAL: You know, again, he's never lied to me. Lying was not part of our business model.

ALESCI (voice-over): But now, Congress and law enforcement are investigating whether The Trump Organization has been forthright about its business dealings.

ALESCI (on camera): Do you think that the company itself has some existential challenges given the backdrop that it's operating against?

SORIAL: You know, look, dealing with any kind of litigation or investigation -- again, I would be disingenuous if I didn't admit that is it a challenge? Of course, it's a challenge, but it's a challenge that we're up for. It's a challenge that we will meet and defeat.

ALESCI (voice-over): One of the fiercest critics in Congress, House Oversight Committee chairman Elijah Cummings, who blasted The Trump Organization's program to donate foreign hotel profits to the U.S. Treasury, an effort that Sorial led as chief compliance counsel.

Cummings said the firm didn't go far enough to alleviate concerns about potential conflicts of interest, belittling the company's plan as a pamphlet.

ALESCI (on camera): He's still not happy with your plan.

SORIAL: Privately and publicly, we have offered to sit down and talk to him about some of these things.

ALESCI (on camera): So why do you think he doesn't want to meet with you?

SORIAL: It's politics. There's no interest in finding fact. They're out to bring down anyone that's in that circle to make him look bad. That's why meetings like the one I suggested have never taken place.

ALESCI (voice-over): Despite facing multiple inquiries, Sorial predicts the business will see explosive growth after Trump leaves office, even if Trump doesn't come back to run the company himself.

SORIAL: That's the billion-dollar question -- what does he do post- presidency? I don't know. You know, I don't think anybody knows except him.

ALESCI (on camera): Why would you doubt that he would come back?

SORIAL: You'd have to ask him what he's going to do. But, I -- you know, would it surprise me if he came back? No. Would it surprise me if he didn't come back? No.


[07:50:03] ALESCI: Alisyn, I called the Democratic -- the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee and they shot back at Sorial for suggesting the Democrats are targeting the firm because of politics, saying that Congress has the power to ensure that the president is complying with the Constitution and they plan to continue their lawsuit against The Trump Organization on that particular front.

CAMEROTA: Really revealing interview. And how great that he could imply when you asked him --


CAMEROTA: -- if the president -- if he had seen the president lie or if lying was part of the business model, he was struggling to answer because it seemed like he didn't want to lie to you.

ALESCI: It was -- that was the point that I found most interesting.

BERMAN: Imagine that. Imagine that, not wanting to lie when asked a direct question like that.

CAMEROTA: It's going to take a lot of imagination at this point.

BERMAN: Cristina, that was great. Thank you very much.

ALESCI: Thank you. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right. The first in a series of hearing into concerns about big tech companies underway. What does Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg think about it? A new interview with one of the social media giant's top executives, that's next.


[07:55:19] BERMAN: Congress is holding hearings into anticompetitive behavior among the tech giants. It comes as Facebook debuts a new blood donations feature designed to make it easier to know where to donate.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta live in Denver with his exclusive interview with Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg -- Sanjay.


Yes -- you know, how much of this is a -- sort of an attempt by Facebook to establish some goodwill in the face of these hearings that are going on on Capitol Hill versus just trying to use Facebook for what it could be uniquely poised to do to sort of create these social communities, specifically in this case around blood donation?

I sat down with Sheryl Sandberg. She doesn't do a lot of interviews. I've got to tell you, she was surprisingly personally sort of passionate John about this topic.


GUPTA (voice-over): When you think about donating blood you probably think about disasters, mass shootings, tornadoes, utter devastation.

CLIFF NUMARK, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAN RED CROSS: The irony is the patients who suffer from those tragedies -- actually, they're alive because people, days before, had given blood to make sure that it's readily available.

GUPTA (voice-over): As a doctor at level one trauma center, I've seen the extraordinary demand. In fact, every two seconds in the United States, a patient needs the gift of blood.

SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: There are so many medical problems in the world, which are not medical problems. They are marketing problems, convincing people to do the right thing. And so, this is a problem we can solve.

GUPTA (on camera): You don't do a lot of interviews, yet you decided to talk about this particular topic. Why is that? SANDBERG: Because I really care about this. You know, this is about bringing people together, which is core to our mission, to help solve a problem.

GUPTA (voice-over): The problem, the Red Cross says only three percent of people in the United States who can give blood do so.

Sheryl Sandberg thinks Facebook is uniquely poised to step in.

SANDBERG: We're going to put a notice right at the top of the newsfeed asking people to register if they want to. And if you register with our partners like the American Red Cross, if there's a need for blood in your city they're going to be able to notify you.

GUPTA (voice-over): It's something Facebook has already done in four other countries and signed up more than 35 million people as blood donors. But, of course, that's no guarantee people will actually donate or that they'll trust Facebook to facilitate that happening.

GUPTA (on camera): Health information is the most intimate information people have and there's been concerns about privacy. How do you balance that?

SANDBERG: Well, with blood donations, we're not using or giving out any personal information.

We show you a notice. You choose to go to a partner site like the American Red Cross and register. They'll send you a notification and then you can choose to give them your information. We're not passing any individual information at all.


BERMAN: So, Sanjay, you brought up the issue of privacy with Sandberg. Did she have anything to say about yesterday's hearings on Capitol Hill?

GUPTA: Well, it was -- it was a little bit of this back-and-forth because we're sitting there talking about blood donation in Menlo Park and these hearings are going on on Capitol Hill.

I asked her specifically -- you know, this call for regulation, seemingly from everywhere, how was Facebook going to respond to that? And also, what do they think that regulation should look like going forward.


SANDBERG: We've actually called for regulation. We think there's a lot of work to do to protect elections. We think there's a lot of work to do to protect privacy to make sure the right content is on Facebook. And, we believe we have a deep responsibility -- a lot we need to do to do better and get it right.

But we're also not just waiting for regulation. In a lot of these areas, we've moved ahead to make sure that we implement things, hoping the right regulation will happen. But we have a responsibility to act even before that.

GUPTA (on camera): And what does the right regulation look like?

SANDBERG: Well, there are a lot of different examples in different areas. But, you know, we believe, for example, what content should be allowed. That's a really important decision.

So we are in the process of heading up an independent board that people on Facebook will be able to refer things to, and they're going to make a judgment and that judgment is going to stick, even above our own judgment.


BERMAN: Really interesting to hear that discussion.

GUPTA: John, that's the first time I sort of heard some of that.

BERMAN: Go ahead.

GUPTA: Yes. I mean, not so insular, actually talking about an independent board to look at content and to make those judgments real time. It will be interesting to see how this all sort of plays out, John.

BERMAN: It will. She's so careful when she talks about the privacy issue, though -- the words chosen so carefully.


BERMAN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always great to have you on. Thanks so much. Appreciate it -- Alisyn.

GUPTA: You got it, John. Thank you.


Protests have turned violent in Hong Kong. NEW DAY continues right now.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Four years of Donald Trump will be viewed as an aberration in American history.