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Senator Elizabeth Warren Is Enjoying A Recent Boost In The Polls Is Enjoying A Recent Boost In The Polls; Missile The U.S. Says Was Fired By Iran At An American Drone In The Middle East; White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Deciding To Step Down This Week. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 15, 2019 - 16:00   ET


[16:00:05] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thanks for rolling with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

The Iowa caucuses are first so they are always important, same with New Hampshire as the nation's primary state. But it is the South Carolina that brings the first real test of Democrats appeal with a key voting bloc they will need in the 2020 race. So it is no surprise that four of the candidates are there today attending the black economic forum in Charleston.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Beto O'Rourke, they are all crisscrossing the state today trying to make inroads with African-American voters.

CNN political reporter Rebecca Buck joins us now.

Rebecca, how have the candidates been received so far?

REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Ana, they are all in different places right in South Carolina, and with Democratic voters in general. So for each of these candidates, slightly different motivations and challenges here today. Of course, the biggest challenge is that former vice President Joe Biden, who was not here today, still leads the Democratic field across here in the South Carolina and across the board really at this stage.

But these four candidates who were here today, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Pete Buttigieg and Cory Booker all trying to make inroads with these key voters in South Carolina, African-American voters. They were discussing economic issue specifically, gentrification, the racial wealth gap, their plans to give access to capital to black entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color.

They were all well received, but a couple of things I would like to point out. Mayor Buttigieg, he has struggled among these candidates with voters of color, with African-American voters. We asked him about that, about what he has been doing to try to make inroads. And he said he think when is you are new in terms of your political profile and you are not yourself from a community of color, then you do need to work more. And he said part of that is showing up as much as you can at events like this one - Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Rebecca Buck, stay with us.

Staying with our ever crowded 2020 field, I also want to talk about another candidate who is enjoying a recent boost in the polls, Senator Elizabeth Warren. In a new Monmouth poll from the state of Nevada, she jumped rival senator Bernie Sanders top claim second place. Warren playing down the news when she spoke to reporters earlier today in Charleston.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's way too earlier to talk about polls. What are we, eight months away from the first caucuses and primary elections?


CABRERA: All right. So let's talk more about Elizabeth Warren and all the other 2020 candidates who were out there on the campaign trail today.

I want to bring back Rebecca Buck. I also want to bring in CNN's, our political reporter who is also with us right now, I believe with have Toluse Olorunnipa, from "the Washington Post" who is joining us.

OK. So, Rebecca, Warren is surging in the polls, yet she is dismissing the early number. Are her fellow Democratic candidates just sort of shrugging this off as well?

BUCK: Well, all of these candidates say at this point that it is very early. Because it's very early, if you look at the history of polling, the course of the Democratic primaries and primaries generally in the past, you have had candidates surge, who come out of nowhere even candidates in the low single digits at this stage.

And of course, this is run on a state-by-state basis. So national polling is one thing, but really, the polls in Iowan, New Hampshire and South Carolina are the keys. So essentially, Elizabeth Warren, not taking anything for granted right now. But it's clear that her strategy of releasing these policy plans of being the candidates of ideas is paying off for her in the short terms. The challenge is how to maintain that momentum, especially with so many candidates, there will be a process of discovery for Democratic voters, of some candidates who we may not be talking about right now like Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke, will they have their moment in the spotlight? And how does she maintain her dominance as those other candidates have their moments as well?

CABRERA: Toluse, is Warren back on the Trump's radar right now?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: It appears that she is back on the President's radar. She is back on the Trump's campaign's radar. She is definitely back on the radar of the Republicans. We heard from the President earlier this year, he talked about how he wished that he hadn't attacked Warren so early, because she hadn't really had a very strong roll-out of her campaign. It seem like she was flagging in the polls early on the campaign. And he was saying, I wish had held my fire so that she could go a little bit further.

Now that she is rising in the polls. She is getting the attention of the President and of the Trump campaign. They are saying very publicly that they see her rising. They see people like Bernie Sanders falling back a little bit. And you are starting to see more Republicans and allies of the President try to get opposition research on Warren and figure out the best way to attack her not only on the native-American ancestry issue but also on her policies, on trying to paint her as an extreme leftist, as someone who basically is in the same camp with Bernie Sanders when it comes to the issue of socialism.

You can expect to see increasing fire from the right, from Republicans attacking Warren over her policy prescriptions, and I expect that to increase significantly when we get to the debates later this month.

[16:05:16] CABRERA: The candidates have definitely been on the attack of another 2020 candidates and that is Biden. He is still the front- runner. And the other candidates are not shying away from going after him. Let's listen.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Joe Biden a return to the past?

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is. And that cannot be who we are going forward. We have got to be bigger. We have got to be bolder.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's some well- intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a middle-ground strategy. That approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy.

WARREN: There is a real hunger. There are people who are ready to big structure change in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden must really not like to travel.

SEN. KRISTEN GILLIBRAND (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think there is room in our parties for a Democratic candidate who does not it he support women's full reproductive freedom.


CABRERA: So Rebecca, remember some months ago when President Obama warned the Democrats about creating a circular firing squad? Is this what he is talking about?

BUCK: You know, it could be worse than this. I mean, just look at the Republican contest in 2016. That was vitriol. That was messy. And this Democratic contest could still get to that point later on. For now it's mostly civil. And of course we should expect these candidates to try to draw contrasts and with an obvious front-runner like Joe Biden.

They need to it at some point to try to point out to voters some of his weaknesses, some of the areas where they feel he falls short as a candidate. So it is no surprise that Democrats are going after Joe Biden.

The question is, will they ramp this up? Privately many of the campaigns do believe that he is a vulnerable front-runner right now (INAUDIBLE) Democratic strategists from the outside as well. And so as he is more wildly viewed as sort of a weak front-runner, do they feel like that is an opportunity for them to ramp up their rhetoric against him, to ramp up these attacks.

What I'll be watching later this month is how he fares in the first Democratic debate. Obviously he'll only be on stage with half of the qualified candidates, but with some of the front-runners - Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris. And so, I think we will learn a lot about how they treat him by the contrast that they try to draw with him in that debate.

CABRERA: In the reality right now, Toluse, the majority of Democratic candidates are polling in the single digits. But I think back this time when Trump was just first announcing his presidency, it was Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee who were all leading the pact and Trump was polling in the single digit. Do you think there is still room for major movement?

OLORUNNIPA: There is definitely a lot of time and a lot of room for candidates to emerge from this large pact because there's such a large number of people running, that really no one knows what's going to happen.

Joe Biden has been able to sort of make sure that he has a strong position at this point. He corners about 30%-35% of the market. But there is a lot of space for the other candidates to try to emerge. And I think that is part of the reason you see these candidates. Some of them lower in the polls trying to take shots at Joe Biden. They are trying to balance, making sure theaters not taking an attack towards the Obama administration because President Obama continuing to be popular among Democrats, but they do want to be able to say that they are turning the page for the future and they are sort of making that argument that Joe Biden would be a return to the past and they are trying to look forward with more bold ideas for the future.

So these candidates realize that there's a lot of room for changes to take place in the polling positions that are currently on the table right now. And that's part of the reason they are taking shots at the front-runner and figuring out ways to try to make themselves stand out in such a large pact of candidates.

CABRERA: Toluse Olorunnipa and Rebecca Buck, thank you both.

And we are learning more about a missile the U.S. says was fired by Iran at an American drone in the Middle East. It hit hours before the U.S. says two tankers attacked in a popular shipping area in broad daylight. We are live in Tehran. Plus experts up sounding the alarm on deep fake videos. This is a

threat they believe could impact the 2020 election. But how do you spot them? I'll talk to a digital forensic expert here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere.


[16:18:22] CABRERA: The crew of a Norwegian tanker attacked in the gulf of Oman has made has made it safely to Dubai, but their ship is still awaiting a tugboat in the water off Iran. Now, a U.S. official says Iranian boats are blocking the boats from leaving. However, the owner of the ship says it has no information or details about this. This is just one of the many contradiction following this attack.

Here is CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tanker still smolders in the Gulf of Oman after it was attacked Thursday. While a U.S. officials tells CNN Barbara Starr, Iran is trying to prevent it from being towed.

Another official is saying when an American drone track Iranian boat fired fire to these attacks in two ships, Iran then fired a surface- to-air missile at it. It missed. The source did not say the drone captured the Iranian boat conducting an actual attack. A string of incidents now that the U.S. squarely blames on Iran.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran did do it. And you know they did it, because they saw the boat.

KOSINSKI: The President referring to this extraordinary video shot from a U.S. aircraft released by the Pentagon, showing what U.S. officials say is a boat from Iran's elite revolutionary guard coming up to the haul of the Japanese tanker hours after it was rocked by an explosion and removing what a U.S. official says was an unexploded mine. To hide the evidence, Iran was behind it.

In photos, you will also see the damage to the halt from the first explosion. One senior diplomatic source from the U.S. ally telling CNN it is now virtually certain that Iran did this.

That same source pointing out there seems to be what they call a straight lining from U.S. actions, leaving the Iran nuclear deal, sanctioning Iran, increasing the military posture in the region, to what is happening now. Iran is feeling the pressure and lashing out but not changing its behavior, not coming back to the negotiating table, at least not yet.

The President today insisting his policy is working.

[16:15:26] TRUMP: They have changed a lot since I have been president, I can tell you. Now all of a sudden, they are pulling back. They are pulling back from everywhere. KOSINSKI: Sources telling CNN there is evidence Iran feels the

financial pinch. Its oil sales hampered by sanctions that it is tougher now for Iran to fund its many proxy operations overseas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an international situation there in the Middle East. It's not a U.S. situation.

KOSINSKI: Yet attacks like these continue to send message to the U.S. in threat and fire that Iran won't be deterred for now.

So Iran is denying any involvement and saying the U.S. doesn't have a shred of evident. Of course the U.S. feels its evidence is crystal clear. But what is not clear is what does the U.S. do next? The acting secretary of defense says the immediate goal is to build international consensus that Iran is behind this.

What we are hearing from U.S. allies is an agreement with the U.S. assessments, but not the blatant blaming of Iran that the U.S. is doing, at least not yet. And the Europeans, of course, want to hold on to what is left of the Iran nuclear deal. And remember, even in the investigation that came out in the last tanker attacks that happened only weeks ago, those countries that were involved determined at the U.N. that a state actor was to blame, but they did not name Iran.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN, Washington.


CABRERA: After a tumultuous tenure as White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders says she's leaving at the end of the month. What her acts means for the press briefings and its importance in the Trump white house.

Plus this just in, officials arrest a tenth suspect in connection of the shooting of former baseball legend David Ortiz, says the suspected gunman speaks out. Details ahead.


[16:20:53] CABRERA: A major exit from the Trump White House. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders deciding to step down this week. She will leave at the end of the month.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'll try not to get eye motional, because I notice crying can make us look weak sometimes. This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn't be prouder to have had the opportunity to serve my country, and particularly to work for this President.


CABRERA: But in a sense, Sanders has been missing in action for months. In fact the White House press podium started collecting dust weeks ago. The news of her departures came 94 days past her last White House press briefing. And she has only done eight briefing in the last 300 days.

But it hasn't always this way. Back in December of 2017, Sanders brought in pecan pies for the entire White House press corps putting an end to the so-called pie-gate controversy in her playful social media back and forth with white House reporter April Ryan.

Pie-gate all began on Thanksgiving Day 2017. Sanders she tweeted the photo of a pie that she backed for her family and some thought this photo looked suspiciously like a stock image of a holiday pie. Well, Sanders settled that controversy with humor by baking pies for the White House press corps.

Those sunny pie baking days did not last long. Sanders' relationship with the press turned rocky quickly. The level of animosity in that White House press briefing room skyrocketed.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: All people around the world are watching what you are saying, Sarah, and the White House for the United States of America, the President should not refer to us as the enemy of the people. His own daughter acknowledges that. All I'm asking you to do, Sarah is acknowledge that right now and right here.

SANDERS: I appreciate yours passion. I share it. I have addressed this question. I addressed my personal feelings. I'm here to speak on behalf of the President. He has made his comments clear.


CABRERA: Sanders also had trouble with the truth. As we learned in the Mueller report, this was a lie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what's your response to these rank-and-file FBI agents who disagree with your contention that they lost faith in (INAUDIBLE)?

SANDERS: Look, we've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things.


CABRERA: Those comments were not founded on anything, so Sarah Sanders told the special counsel. Yet Sanders has been a powerful woman in Washington, no doubt about that. And she worked hard to stay in the good graces of the most powerful man in Washington. When she was asked about women accusing President Trump of sexual misconduct, here was her response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were 16 women accused the President of sexually harassing them threat in the course of the campaign last week, during a press conference in the rose garden. The President called these accusations fake news. Is the official White House position that all of these women have been lying?

SANDERS: Yes, we have been clear on that from the beginning.


CABRERA: Sanders kept her job longer than President Trump's other press secretary. But she was no stranger to criticism. Here is comedian Michelle Wolfe at the 2018 White House Correspondents dinner, jock joking about Sanders' use of eye makeup. Take a listen.


MICHELLE WOLFE, COMEDIAN: I actually really like Sarah. I think she's very resourceful. Like she burns facts, and then uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she's born with it, maybe it is lies. It is probably lies.


CABRERA: The sarcasm kept coming. Even after her resignation was announced. Look at this "Washington Post" opinion piece by Margaret Sullivan, dubbing Sanders as the queen of gas-lighting say quote 'farewell to a lying disrespectful White House press secretary."

Joining us now, "Politico's" Anita Kumar and former CNN Washington bureau Chief Frank Sesno, author of the book "Ask More, the power of question to open doors, uncover solutions and spark change." He is now the director of George Washington University's media and public affairs school.

Frank, what do you see as Sarah Sanders' legacy? What mark did she play on the White House press secretary role?

[16:25:04] FRANK SESNO, DIRECTOR, SCHOOL OF MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: She has a lot of areas where she has left a mark in a big legacy and it's not a great one. She has, as you indicated with those clips, you know, lied on behalf the President. Continues his lies. Not only what she said about the FBI, but she lied, for example, when she said with the President - she promoted the lie, anyway, that when she said that former President Obama had authorized wiretaps on President Trump. Of course, she denied the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. Both of those things are later revealed to be not true.

Probably her greatest legacy, though, is going to be her public antipathy toward the press, with response to Jim Acosta was just a part of that. But also essential cancelling the daily briefing.

What people need to understand, and I was a White House correspond for eight years, that daily briefing is very important to those who show up every day, who are tracking the President of the United States. And they are tracking the president of the United States and trying to report on things that are happening domestically, whether it's a tax bill or showdown with the Congress, or internationally. We are in the middle of this very tense situation with Iran now.

They are reporting now to millions, actually hundreds of millions of people around the world. And that daily briefing is a lifeline to meetings that the President is having, the statements that he is making. And Sarah's legacy both in terms of the untruths, and in terms of bashing the President, and in terms of cancelling that daily press briefing, does not stand her in good stead, as far as I'm concerned, as someone who works for American voters, citizens, residents and taxpayers, and should be reporting through the media to them as to what this office is doing.

CABRERA: I'm curious, Frank, how does she compare to the press secretaries you dealt with while covering the White House?

SESNO: Well, actually the press secretaries that I would draw the comparison to, and I wasn't covering the White House, I was CNN bureau chief at the time, would be Mike McCurry. Because Mike McCurry, who worked for Bill Clinton in the middle of Lewinski scandal, was in a similar situation where the President had lied, I did not have sexual relation with that woman, Monica Lewinski. And many of his cabinet members then taking up on his cue, believing him or not, repeated that lie. And once that was exposed, there was a lot of hand wringing, that was a very tense relationship with the White House. I got more than one call as bureau chief from McCurry screaming at me for the coverage that CNN had pursued, because they saw it as hostile to Bill Clinton. And the Clinton administration, like this administration, was trying to politicize the then independent counsel of Kenneth Starr.

But McCurry was very careful. And that he made sure that he did not willingly or otherwise ever come out and utter an untrue or a lie. He got very close and he danced around it. There were wings and nods and all kinds of other things but he was very careful about that. And if you go back and look at what he said and how he said it publicly, and what Sarah has done, there's a big difference. The other big difference, of course, is that McCurry briefed every day or nearly every day.

CABRERA: And here we are, 94 days since a briefing, at least when they announced when she was resigning. Now it is 96 days (INAUDIBLE).


CABRERA: Right. Let me bring in Anita into the conversation because I know you are covering the White House currently, Anita. And the "New York Times" has some new reporting saying the White House is open to bringing back the daily briefing.

Writing, some White House officials have argued that the daily briefing is a powerful tool that would help elevate Mr. Trump above his Democratic opponent in the 2020 race. One of those pushing for its revival, officials said is Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff who wants the next press secretary to play in a more pro-active role in shaping the White House message.

Anita, what is likely to happen? Is it poised for a comeback? Or has Trump's twitter account essential replaced it?

ANITA KUMAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I don't know. It remains to be seen. I do know that there are some people talking about that. But there are also a lot of people who say that it has changed and that's the way it's going to be during the Trump administration, and possibly beyond that. So we just don't know.

Obviously, some of it really does depend on who the next person is and what they feel comfortable doing. But ultimately it depends on what President Trump wants to do. As you know, as we all very well know, he has a different way of getting out his message, right. He likes to talk more frequently to reporters. I mean, probably most days he is speaking to reporters on weekdays. He wants to get it out through his message out through twitter. So the question is really does he want someone else to speak for him or does he wants to speak? So there, you know, the White House, this White House is constantly sort of debating that issue. So we'll see. We'll see what happens.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking of the president's tweets, here's something he tweeted in January: "The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the podium much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely and inaccurately. I told her not to bother. The word gets out anyway."

Anita, how important is having a press briefing?

KUMAR: I would say, I know a lot of people say that there's no point to it during this Trump administration. I would say we would -- at least I would like to have the briefings. There are things that you cannot scream at the president or call out to him when he's crossing the law when the helicopter's in the back. There are logistical questions, things that we don't understand that President Trump says or tweets, that we want explanations to, or policy details.

More access is better. More access is not bad. I would argue that we need more, including the briefing. And I would love to have that back.

I can't believe it's almost 100 days. It used to sort of define -- I've been at the White House since 2012. It used to sort of define the day. The rhythm of the day was partly based on what time the briefing was, how long it went, what came out of that briefing. And then we just don't have it anymore.

CABRERA: Frank, you do hear from critics who say, what's the point. Are press briefings valuable if the press secretary doesn't tell the truth?

FRANK SESNO, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR & WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, first of all, they were valuable, because, as we just heard, reporters did it and require that sort of thing to get the logistics. Where is the president going? At what time? What will happen in the Rose Garden? Who will be there with him? Little things like that, that may not even make it into the story, but they're important for reporters trying to keep up with events or the president himself.

Certainly, explanations of what he has tweeted, if there's confusion, to try to clarify.

But there's something else that's very important about this, too, and it's not just the White House that hasn't been briefing. The Pentagon has gone for a year without a briefing.

Right now, this is an attitude that comes from the administration. So if the White House were to start its regular briefings again, presumably, the Pentagon and State Department would have some encouragement to do the same thing.

Mulvaney is quite right, you set an agenda from that podium.

The problem is, when the press secretary is actually Donald Trump, as we've seen, it's hard to set an agenda when he goes out on his own.

But those briefings from across the government are something, to my view anyway, that the federal government, the White House, the administration owes to the American people and the world to be open and transparent. It may be rude sometimes, but, sorry, that goes with the territory.

CABRERA: Frank Sesno, Anita Kumar, great conversation. Thank you both.

SESNO: Thank you.

CABRERA: New questions today about what's going on in the Dominican Republic. Another American tourist died. Her son says officials told him she died of a heart attack. He's not buying it. We'll have details on her story just ahead.


[16:36:37] CABRERA: Another American tourist found dead at a Dominican Republic resort, trigging a fresh wave of questions and concerns. Her name is Leyla Cox, a 53-year-old mother from Staten Island. According to her son, Cox was celebrating her birthday at a resort when she was found dead in her hotel room.

That would bring the number of American tourists who have died in the Dominican Republic in just the past year to eight. All of them dying under different circumstances.

I want to be clear, federal officials have not made any connections between the deaths at this time.

Let's get right to CNN's Patrick Oppmann, in Santo Domingo, the capitol of the Dominican Republic.

Patrick, what are local authorities telling you about this latest death of Layla Cox?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very little. Their custom so far, because American tourism is so important to this country -- about half of the three million tourists come here, excuse me, six million tourists that come here every year, about three million of them are Americans. So officials have had very little to say.

This happened tragically almost a week ago, last Monday. So it's only coming out now, thanks to this woman Leyla Cox's son.

Let's hear a little bit about what he had to say about his mother's passing.


WILLIAM COX, SON OF LEYLA COX: My mother was too healthy to pass away from a heart attack, which is what the Dominican Republic claims is her cause of her accident.


OPPMANN: When we contacted the hotel, they said she passed away after she was taken to the hospital because she wasn't feeling well. But her son, in that interview with our affiliate, said she was found dead in her hotel room. So stories are not quite matching up.

That doesn't mean there's any foul play necessarily, but certainly we're waiting for the police to come out and tell us what they know.

And as well, the FBI's investigating some of these deaths to see if they could learn from some forensic analysis. In a country like the Dominican Republican just doesn't have the resources, both medical or law enforcement that the United States does.

Many people are thinking that it's a welcome sign that the FBI is involved and perhaps can help clear it up.

CABRERA: Hope they get to the bottom of it.

Thank you, Patrick Oppmann, for that report.

Also new today, in the Dominican Republic, significant developments in the shooting of baseball legend, David Ortiz. Moments ago, a tenth suspect was arrested after reportedly turning himself in to police. Authorities are not revealing his full name or photo, only identifying him by his nickname, "The Bone."

Also new, we're learning Ortiz may not have been the intended target. The gunman is speaking out and insisting he meant to shoot someone else. She says he got confused by Ortiz's clothing, which was similar to his intended target. Prosecutors say the suspect is lying. They have charged eight other man and one woman as accomplices in this shooting. Ortiz is recovering from his injuries in Boston.

The chair of the House Intelligence Committee warning the American public is not aware of so-called deepfake videos and how they threaten the 2020 elections. What are they? Here's a taste.


UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: I don't understand, America. These podiums, what are you supposed to do with your elbows?

UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: I haven't been this excited since I found out my package from L.L. Bean had shipped.

UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: America, Donald Trump cannot be re-elected. It would be a disaster.


[16:40:06] CABRERA: A forensic expert joins us, live, next, to look at what can be done to stop them.


CABRERA: This week, the House Intelligence Committee held its first hearing on deepfake videos, videos that use artificial intelligence to alter existing footage of an individual to make it appear that they said or did something that never actually happened.

Check this out. This video on the right is a clip from "Saturday Night Live." On the left, that's a deepfake video made by USC, just to show how easy it is to be tricked. It looks nearly identical.

Lawmakers worry that deepfake videos may be used to influence the 2020 election. A concern echoed by House Intel Chair Adam Schiff. Listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Three years later, we're on the cusp of a technological revolution that could enable even more sinister forms of description and disinformation about malign actors, foreign or domestic.

Advances in A.I. and machine-learning have led to the emergence of advanced digitally doctored types of media, so-called deepfakes, that enable malicious actors to foment chaos, division or crisis. And they have the capacity to disrupt entire campaigns, including that for the presidency.


[16:45:18] CABRERA: Computer science professor at U.C. Berkeley and digital forensics expert, Hany Farid, joins us now.

Professor, is Adam Schiff right? Is it now or never to deal with this?

HENY FARID, COMPUTER SCIENCE PROFESSOR, U.C. BERKELEY: The time is now. I think what we've been seeing over the last two years are two things that are important to understand. One are highly effective misinformation campaigns meant to sow civil unrest, meant to disrupt or elections, meant to commit fraud. And we have seen the rise, as you're saying, of these new deepfake phenomena. When you combine those two, that seems like a real threat, because we are now entering an age where it would be hard to believe what we see and what we hear. I don't think it takes a stretch of the imagination to see how that can be weaponized, particularly as it pertains to the upcoming elections, both here and abroad.

CABRERA: Just how big is the problem currently? Are there deepfake videos floating around on social media?

FARID: There are. They're floating around.

Here's what I can tell you. About every three to six months, the technology improves dramatically.

If you had asked me six months ago, I would have said, yes, they're pretty good, but not quite there. But I think we are probably months away from technology that will become almost indistinguishable. We're seeing highly sophisticated voice synthesis, highly sophisticated face swaps and lip deepfakes of the form you just saw.

And when you start combining those, I think we are months, not years away from being able to create highly compelling fakes.

It's important to understand these are not in the hands of Hollywood studios. You can download this code for free online. That means a lot of people have access. And we have the ability to broadcast that to the tunes of millions of people.

And we saw that recently with a simpler fake with the Nancy Pelosi fake just a few weeks ago to the tune of millions and millions of views. And then, of course, the social media companies that are not aggressively dealing with misinformation campaigns on their platforms. And that is, in many ways, the perfect storm.

CABRERA: How is the average viewer supposed to be able to spot a deepfake?

FARID: That's the right question to ask. That's a really hard question to answer. The technology is getting better and better.

What we are doing here at U.C. Berkeley is developing technology that will help journalists, people like you, sort out the real from the fake so that the reporting can at least be accurate.

But what we are concerned about is that the fakes are getting better and better. And the average person will not be able to tell the difference.

Once we enter that time, everybody will have plausible deniability. Anybody will be able to claim that anything that they see or hear is fake. And we're now in a very interesting landscape where, if everything can be fake, nothing is real. I think that's a problem for our democracy.

CABRERA: Tell me more about what you're doing, this system you're building, to identify deepfakes, and how it's going to work, and who will be able to use it.

FARID: Yes, what we're doing is, what we've noticed is that, when people talk, people like President Trump, people like Speaker Pelosi, they have very distinct characteristics, the way they move their head, their eyes, their eyebrows, their mouth. Those tend to be fairly distinct.

So we built what are called soft biometric models that capture the essence of the way people talk and what distinguishes them from other people.

What we have noticed, in the creation of deepfakes, those properties of the biometric model are violated and it allows us to distinguish the real from the fake.

Our hope is to make this available in the coming months, by the end of the calendar year, to mainstream media outlets.

We don't want to make it available to the general public. We are concerned it will be weaponized against us. If you make these detection tools available to everyone, the adversary can keep pumping their fakes through our tools until their video pass.

So the current thinking is we make it available to journalists who will then be, in many ways, the gatekeeper, which, of course, is their job.

CABRERA: Absolutely.

Hany Farid, it's fascinating. Thank you for the explanation and sharing your work and doing what you do. We appreciate it.

FARID: Thank you. Good to be with you.

[16:49:31] CABRERA: Some breaking news we're following. Registers at multiple Target stores around the country are down. We'll show you widespread the problem is. And what shoppers are enduring, next.


CABRERA: We're following breaking news. The registers at multiple Target stores around the country are down right now. Long lines have been reported at many of these stores, as thousands tweet out their outrage.

Natasha Chen joins us. She's at a Target store in Atlanta, in the Atlanta area.

Natasha, there's a bit of good news. Some registers are starting to come back online?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, at least at this store. People's outrage has definitely died down. About an hour and a half ago, they were happily making their purchasing through the lines here, but some of them told me they had waited maybe 15, 30 minutes while the registers were down. This supposedly is a common experience throughout the country right

now. If you look on Twitter and Target, you see all these people are sharing experiences about long lines. They're also sharing that employees have been doing a good job keeping them calm, as best as possible, with water and snacks given to the customers. The employees seem to be doing their best with the situation.

We don't have any confirmation from Target itself about how many stores have registers that are still down versus how many stores are back up. Again, this one I'm standing in front of is back up.

We also have not seen an update from Target since their tweet about two hours ago, acknowledging there was a problem with their registers -- Ana?

CABRERA: Natasha Chen, in Atlanta, keep us posted. Thank you.

[16:54:36] If someone asked you right now how much a gigaton is, would you know? Well, times that by two, and that's just about how much ice just melted in Greenland in just one day.


CABRERA: This is an extreme example of Arctic melting. Greenland lost more than two billion tons of ice Thursday alone. The island is home to the second-largest ice sheet on the planet.

CNN meteorologist, Gene Norman, joins us now.

Gene, just how unusual is this?

GENE NORMAN, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Ana, the scientists that study this say it's unusual, but not unprecedented. Getting your mind wrapped around two billion tons, that's a tall order.

Think of it this way, it would be enough ice that would stretch in the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the capitol and be eight times as high as the Washington Monument. That's a lot of ice.

This is peak melting season in Greenland, from June to August. Some troubling trends, though, in the last couple years. We saw a record loss of ice there in 2012, followed by big ice loss in the years of 2007 and 2010.

What caused this recent episode? A big area of high pressure to the west of Greenland was drawing warm air up from the south. Toward the end of May, we had a record heatwave in the southeast. That warm air made it all the way up to Greenland. Not a good sign to see that kind of melting so early in the summer, Ana. Because when that yellow light bulb in the sky gets going, we could see even more.


Gene Norman, thank you.

See what happens when victims and offenders of violent crimes meet face-to-face on the new CNN series, "THE REDEMPTION PROJECT" with Van Jones. That's tomorrow night at 9:00, followed by "UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA," with W. Kamau Bell at 10:00.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news

[17:00:02] CABRERA: You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York.

We begin this hour with breaking news. The "New York Times" reporting that the U.S. is ramping up cyberattacks against Russia's electrical power grid --