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Forty Attorneys General Launching Antitrust Probe; Taliban Peace Negotiations Called Off; Bahamians on Ships Now Need Visa to Enter U.S. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): -- the economy is working for everybody, not just for people at the top. And that's really what Donald Trump has done. I mean, you know, he said he wanted to drain the swamp. He moved into the swamp, he built a hotel on it, and he started renting out rooms to foreign governments and kings and princes.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you for your colorful descriptions this morning and for joining us -- seriously -- on all of these fronts. We appreciate it very much.

RASKIN: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

HARLOW: You got it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: I love the story of Lincoln and the elephant tusks.

HARLOW: Right? That's (ph) what I said, history lesson at 10:30 in the morning.

SCIUTTO: We bring you history. There you go.

HARLOW: There you go.

SCIUTTO: Another blow against big tech companies. Dozens of states, expected to target Google in an antitrust investigation.



HARLOW: All right, welcome back. This morning, big tech under the microscope. As many as 40 state attorneys general, expected, today, to announce an antitrust probe, targeting Google. They'll reportedly look into whether Google has stifled competition, harmed consumers.

SCIUTTO: A separate group of states announced a probe into Facebook's dominance on Friday. Joining us now to discuss, Douglas Gansler. He's a former Maryland attorney general. Doug, always good to have you on.

So my layman's understanding of the way antitrust law has been, is that for years, it's been focused on price. And if, you know, oligopolies or monopolies, whatever, aren't driving up price, they kind of -- they give leeway. But are these indications that that thinking is changing, that there are other forms of dominance that affects consumers like you and me and need to be challenged?

DOUGLAS GANSLER, FORMER MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL: I mean, not really. And that's why this case is actually going to be very tricky for the state attorneys general. There's two things, in your layman's understanding of antitrust. One thing you have to show is, there's a market share problem.


GANSLER: And what is -- where is the dominance. And, here, what they're looking at, purportedly (ph), is advertising. And companies can advertise everywhere. They can advertise on CNN, "The New York Times," they can advertise other places and other platforms on the internet.

So they're going to have to -- that's one hurdle they're going to get -- have to go after. And the second is the pricing. And what's interesting about Facebook, Google and other big tech, is it's free. And New York Attorney General Tish James, for example, said they're trying to protect consumer data from being endangered.

The question is, what is the harm? And in this case --

HARLOW: Well --

GANSLER: -- it's -- go ahead.

HARLOW: Yes, I just think it's free. I mean, nothing's free. Your data is actually --

SCIUTTO: Your information, yes.

HARLOW: -- a product, right? And that's the -- that's the counterargument here, Doug. And you made the good point that when you look back at the Microsoft probe, it was the states that really helped, you know, five leverage to the Feds in that one, that the states' investigation actually helped on that front.

And to Jim's point, I just wonder if we're at a point where the definition of antitrust has to change. At your alma mater, Yale, there was this big paper that got a lot of attention, "The Antitrust Paradox," by Lena Khan. And she's saying the way that these tech companies work and that our data is an actual commodity, means that you have to change the definition of antitrust at its heart. Do you agree with that?

GANSLER: Well, that may be, but that would be a legislative fix, not the state attorneys general bringing cases in --

HARLOW: Yes, true.

GANSLER: -- North Dakota or Delaware. And -- but just going back to on the cost thing, because I think that's important. What Microsoft and tobacco and other sort of cases where the A.G.s have done after companies, there is a consumer cost involved.

Here, the allegation is not that these -- big tech is taking people's privacy and putting their social security numbers on -- out there, or taking their private health information. The accusation is that Google, Facebook and others are using people's information to better target advertising.

So when you're somebody that goes on to Facebook, for example, you know that you're compromising some of your privacy, in the sense that Facebook can use your information to better and more -- better target and give more relevant ads to you, you understand.

Just like when you turn on the television, that's the price you're going to pay. You're going to have to look at ads. Well, on Facebook and Google, the price is free and you're going to look at some ads. And the idea, here, is, if you live in Wyoming, you're going to want to have pickup trucks ads, where you might not want to have those --


GANSLER: -- in downtown Manhattan. So they're going to have to show some consumer harm, and that might be dangerous here.

SCIUTTO: But I -- so I've got a question, though. Because I -- the ad targeting is so specific. I mean, how many times have you seen, in your social media feed, you know, you might have sent a message about, I don't know, sneakers. And all of a sudden, there's an ad --

HARLOW: And across them --

SCIUTTO: -- for sneakers, and across as well --

HARLOW: -- across them --

SCIUTTO: -- you know, like an Instagram-to-Facebook --


SCIUTTO: -- and you know, folks at home, you know -- have consumers' rights, in effect, been so trimmed down here -- or maybe we're just signing them away when we say we agree to terms and conditions without reading the 47 pages of terms and conditions, you know?

So -- and for folks at home who have this experience, what do you say to them?

GANSLER: Well, disclosure is important and the companies have to have adequate and transparent disclosure, which they would argue they do.

And then the second point is, I do think people now understand that their data is going to be put in some sort of a machine, and they're going to get more relevant ads. And that's actually a different issue, there, which is also part of the tricky and confusing issue going on today with the state attorneys general, coming after big tech using antitrust law.

The antitrust laws, vis-a-vis privacy, they're completely different things. So I think people recognize, understand that their data is not going to be sold outside of the ecosystem of Google, Facebook or what have you, and recognize that they're going to get ads and it's going to be relevant to them.


And is it a little spooky or was it spooky when we all started going on Facebook or Google in the first case? Yes. Do people accept it now? Yes, as long their actual data is not being compromised or being hacked.

HARLOW: Doug, I think we'll have you back a lot on this --


HARLOW: -- because it's not going anywhere.

SCIUTTO: there's so much balled up into that, yes.

HARLOW: So much.

GANSLER: That's true.

HARLOW: Thank you so much, Doug Gansler. We appreciate it.

GANSLER: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Quick break, we'll be right back.


SCIUTTO: CNN has learned, this morning, that Vice President Pence was among the Republican voices opposed to President Trump's now-cancelled plan to host Taliban leaders at Camp David.


HARLOW: Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward has spent time with the Taliban in Afghanistan. I can't think of anyone better to talk about all that is surrounding this, Clarissa, thank you. So just give us a sense of what you experienced in that reporting, and how that plays into what almost happened, which is peace negotiations with the U.S., days before the 9/11 anniversary, at Camp David.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, Poppy, it's very difficult for me to get into the mindset of the president, and understand how anyone would be wanting to have the Taliban at Camp David just ahead of the 9/11 anniversary, and the optics of that and the sensitivities around that.

But I can tell you, from having spent time on the ground with the Taliban, that there is a real sense that they would like to see this peace deal go ahead. That they are tired of fighting, they are tired of war, they are worried about losing young people to more extremist organizations, they're worried about splintering within the ranks of their own organization.

But the difficulty becomes for the U.S. in all of this, in trying to determine what the Taliban sees as the future, going forward. Whether they would really be sincerely interested in a sort of power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government, or whether they're simply trying to opportunistically seize on this moment, where the U.S. clearly wants out of Afghanistan, tell the U.S. what it wants to hear and then, the minute U.S. troops withdraw, to go ahead and usurp power from the Afghan government. That's something that nobody knows yet, right?

SCIUTTO: Yes. I mean, you also look to Afghanistan's recent history, after the Russian withdrawal, huge, deadly years-long civil war. I mean, you spent a lot of time in this country. You've met with Taliban leaders.

Is it your sense that they saw the outlines of this deal to their advantage, particularly their concerns about the U.S. not consulting the Afghan government -- the elected Afghan government, we should say -- properly? I mean, did the Taliban sense opportunity here, in your view?

WARD: Let's put it this way. The Taliban see themselves as being victorious at the moment. They see the U.S. as being weak, they see -- it is being (ph) clear that the U.S. is desperate to get out the door and do it as quickly as they can.

The Taliban is controlling more territory than at any stage since the invasion nearly 18 years ago --


WARD: -- 2,400 U.S. servicemen killed, trillions of dollars have been spent. And at the end of the day, the U.S. hasn't been able to win this war.

And there are critics of this deal who say, "Listen, there's no guarantee of women's rights. The Afghan government doesn't have a seat at the table. There's no -- there's no way of forcing the Taliban to at least agree to a nationwide ceasefire deal. Clearly, more extractions need to come from the Taliban."

But at the same time, pragmatists will say, "Listen, we've just got to get this deal done and we've got to get it done quickly." And that does not look like it's going to happen now.


SCIUTTO: Clarissa Ward, great to have you on the story. Thanks so much.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: All right. So this morning, about a week after Hurricane Dorian pummeled the Bahamas, a humanitarian disaster is unfolding. The official death toll stands at 45 people in the Bahamas, but that of course is expected to rise dramatically. Hundreds of people, still trying to just get off the island with their young children, evacuate. That is proving to be difficult, if not impossible.

SCIUTTO: Imagine this next moment, if you were on this ferry with your children. In a video posted on Twitter last night, you can hear people being told that they must get off a ferry if they don't have a U.S. visa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, please, all passengers that don't have U.S. visa, please proceed to disembark.

SCIUTTO: Now, you don't need a visa to come to the U.S. from the Bahamas if you're traveling by air. Question marks about whether going by ferry.

This morning, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responding to that video, saying it's the ferry operator that was at fault for not properly coordinating the evacuation.


MICHAEL SILVA, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: We asked especially (ph) Balearia to coordinate with the Bahamian government in Nassau, and coordinate there with the American embassy, USAID, and the Bahamian government.

We're there to facilitate and accommodate that process in an orderly fashion, according to regulation and protocol.

However, Balearia did not do that.


SCIUTTO: Our Paula Newton joins us now from Nassau. And you've done incredible work, Paula. You know how bad the situation on the ground there, you've been living it for these last several days. First of all, describe it. But also, I imagine, how difficult it must be for these families to hear they can't leave to come to the U.S. to escape it.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, those poor souls, Jim. I can't imagine talking to people as the desperation mounts, as they're trying to get on a boat or a plane, to finally get on and have to get off? It is absolutely heartbreaking.

Listen, here is the situation. Bahamians know that if they get a clear criminal background check, updated, and they have their passports, normally they can get a visa waiver, which means if they pre-clear here in the Bahamas, they're good to go in the United States. And the United States is happy to take them, especially when they have family and friends in the United States who can help them out. When I arrived on Abaco, you have to understand, within the first few

moments, I had people handing their passports over to others to say, "Can you get to the Bahamian police and clear my criminal background check?" They knew what they needed. And to be told otherwise on that ferry, as I said, is just heartbreaking.


And another one of the reasons is, has to do with where we are right now. We're in Nassau and we've been talking about all the aid getting here and going out. But a lot of the evacuees have been coming here. A lot of concern about what they can do here.

Nassau is already a city that's overdeveloped. They're wondering how are their kids going to go to school, where can they get jobs. A lot questions ahead, guys.


HARLOW: And that's why we're so glad you're there and you'll continue that reporting. We'll continue to shine a light. Paula Newton, thank you so, so much.

SCIUTTO: Great to have eyes and ears on the ground there.

We're shedding new light on a secret U.S. intelligence operation to extract a high-level covert source from inside the Russian government. I'll have more on my exclusive reporting, coming just up.