Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) is Interviewed about a Whistleblower and Iran; Delta Flight Plunges Nearly 30,000 Feet; Earthlings Arrive Area 51 Event; Zuckerberg Meets with Trump; Uber's Controversial Corporate Culture. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 08:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- of the intelligence community thinks it's a matter of urgent concern.


BERMAN: That's something.


BERMAN: That's not the media making that up. That's the inspector general of the intelligence community.

So if the inspector general thinks it's of urgent concern, and Rudy Giuliani says, even if it did happen this way, he did nothing wrong, maybe the White House and the Justice Department should just let the information come forward, yes?

KINZINGER: Yes. I mean, again, this is where I get confused because I had heard yesterday that the IG was saying it wasn't imperative. Now -- so I don't know.

All I'm saying is, flat out, not president, and nobody in the U.S. government should utilize or level any American power to get concessions having to do with a domestic, political election. There is corruption in Ukraine that needs taken care of, but in no point should that be targeted to benefit or hurt somebody in an election.

This is -- look, any foreign country -- and I've said this from the beginning with the whole Russia thing, no foreign country should have any influence whatsoever in American politics, period. And I don't care if it's our best friend or our worst enemy, that's just a fact.

BERMAN: And, also, you're someone who was outspoken on wanting Ukraine to get that $250 million in military aid full stop.


BERMAN: The idea that perhaps someone was putting strings on it for political reasons, how do you feel about that?

KINZINGER: Well, the idea of that happening would be terrible. We don't know. But, yes, I mean they've -- they've released the aid now. It's out there.

But, yes, I was confused at why they would hold back on this. You know, maybe it was for any number of reasons, including making sure it was being spent right.

But, yes, we have to defend Ukraine. We have to give them the aid they need and make sure that they can defend themselves against this Russian invasion. So I -- there's a lot more information to come out, so it's hard to really just, you know, jump to a conclusion on this. But, generally speaking, yes, no foreign government should have any influence on American elections.

BERMAN: All right, Congressman, you also feel passionately about Iran. And the attack on the Saudi oil facilities. The National Security Council will meet today, we understand, to talk more about a U.S. response to this.

But CNN is also reporting that White House and Pentagon officials are growing doubtful the president would order a military strike.

Your reaction to that.

KINZINGER: Well, it wouldn't be surprising. We saw what happened with the drone strike. You know, there was an order given and then it was pulled back at the last minute. I think that shows weakness. And I think, frankly, can invite further attacks.

I think, in this situation, look, this is not going to end. I mean this -- this has been continuing for the last year, but it's really continued since 1979, this attack on Americans. It's not going to end.

You know, it's like a bully flicking you in the ear. Eventually you've got to hit him in the face and they'll stop. And that's where we're at right now.

So I think there's any number of options we can do, whether it's hitting an Iranian oil facility, hitting the stuff they used to take out the Saudi facility, or what I think makes the most sense is hitting Iranian assets in Syria, where they're actually doing a ton of damage. Israel hits them every now and again with no reaction. I think that's appropriate.

But, look, if we just continue to sit back and take this, Iran is going to keep doing this because they look tough to their domestic audience and in international eyes.

BERMAN: You keep saying "we" and "hitting us." In this case, it was hitting Saudi Arabia.


BERMAN: And, again, if it was, in fact, Iran, I know that the U.S. community believes and the president believes that Iran was involved somehow. But it's hitting Saudi Arabia. So the question is, why and how should the U.S. respond to help Saudi Arabia, correct? KINZINGER: Yes. Well, first off, they're an ally of ours. Second off,

we do have a unique responsibility in the world to protect global commerce, of which this is a massive violation. But let's just think about this on a different level. Not only did they hit our drone and, you know, that was the cost of losing ten F-16s, by the way, but if Saudi Arabia actually responds -- if you remember during the first Gulf War, Hussein kept hitting Israel because he wanted Israel to respond to create a wider conflict. That's what would happen if Saudi Arabia did this.

We've got to realize, if Saudi does the reaction to Iran, you have just created a regional Sunni/Shia conflict right in the Middle East. If that's what people want, simply so they say that Saudi Arabia defends itself, that's fine, but then don't come back and be upset when a regional war kicks off. This is something where the United States can do it. As, you know, we protect our allies, too. We can do it and not create a broader, regional conflict.

BERMAN: Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thank you for coming on. We look forward to speaking to you again bout this subject and perhaps we'll all learn more about what's going on with this matter the inspector general thinks of is of urgent concern.

Thank you, sir.

KINZINGER: Yes, that's it (ph).

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, I think we will, John.

BERMAN: I think we will.


BERMAN: Maybe at 11:45, by the way, when the president holds a news conference.


But -- but you have to hear this next story. This will send a shiver down your spine. A scare in the sky as a passenger plane plunges nearly 30,000 feet midflight.

BERMAN: Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: That's next.

BERMAN: All right, plus, the hot spot for possible alien activity is bracing for an invasion of earthlings.


BERMAN: How many humans plan to swarm Area 51 today?

CAMEROTA: They're terrifying.


BERMAN: All right, live pictures from the South Lawn of the White House. Moments away from President Trump and the first lady holding an arrival ceremony for Australia's prime minister, Scott Morrison. One of the reasons this is most important today is both men will be holding a news conference this morning. That's at 11:45 Eastern. Obviously, the president will face questions about this whistleblower complaint. One the inspector general deems of as urgent concern, a possible Ukrainian connection. Also today the first family will host a state dinner for the Australian leader.

CAMEROTA: OK. Stay tuned to CNN for that.

Meanwhile, terrifying moments on a Delta flight when a plane full of passengers plunged nearly 30,000 feet in a matter of minutes. You heard me.

BERMAN: I don't even think that's possible.

CAMEROTA: I don't either.


According to the airline, the Atlanta to Ft. Lauderdale flight experienced a cabin pressure irregularity.


CAMEROTA: All right.

CNN's Alexandra Field is here with the details.

What happened?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Delta is apologizing for the irregularity and that harrowing ride. Can't imagine what 30,000 feet feels like. But people are talking about this rapid descent. The very unwelcome sign of seeing oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling, oh, and, an instruction to passengers not to panic.

OK, well, one passenger says that was easier said than done.


HARRIS DEWOSKIN, PASSENGER: Initially it was -- it was sort of a panic. And there was -- there was -- there wasn't really any forewarning. It was really just the oxygen masks -- the oxygen masks dropped down. And then one of the flight attendants, I believe, grabbed the intercom and was just repeatedly over the intercom stating, do not panic, do not panic. But, I mean, obviously, it's a -- it's a hectic moment, so the passengers around me, a lot of people were kind of hyperventilating, breathing really hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FIELD: All right, he looks like he kept his cool, but the plane was diverted to Tampa. The passengers were taken by bus to their final destination. Probably a very welcome form of transport at that time.

Delta is saying that safety is their top priority and that they are reviewing and investigating that aircraft again, of course.

Any travel plans this weekend?

CAMEROTA: No, I've just canceled them.

You know, I think that the constant do not panic, do not panic may not be the best message.

BERMAN: Right.

FIELD: It's not the most useful instruction in that moment. That's when -- that's when the panic button is hit.

CAMEROTA: That's right. Or, as you tell me every morning, it's time to panic.

BERMAN: It's time to panic.


All right, Alexandra, thank you very much.

So nearly 2 million people have RSVP'd to today's Storm Area 51 event in the Nevada Desert. Another 1.3 million expressed interest. What's going on here? Well, what started as a college student's Internet hoax has morphed into a celebration of all things alien.

CNN's Nick Watt is live near Area 51.

Nick, you own this story. Only you can explain what's going on.

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this is a story about the power of the Internet. One kid posted one line on FaceBook on a whim at 2:00 in the morning back in July, and it snowballed into this.

It's also a story about our -- and including my own -- fascination with aliens.

I'm here in Las Vegas right now because behind me this last night was the scene in what's become the first celebration, in what's become basically a trifecta of celebrations of hope, John, that we are not alone.


WATT (voice over): Nevada's UFO-long weekend kicked off like this in the relative safety of Las Vegas. This alien saga all began with Matty Roberts' joke FaceBook post back in July. Storm Area 51. They can't stop all of us.

MATTY ROBERTS, CREATOR, STORM AREA 51: It was completely intended to be a joke. I didn't expect it to go anywhere.

WATT (on camera): But it has.

ROBERTS: It has. It's gone everywhere.

WATT (voice over): Since then, one, the U.S. Air Force has warned it is very dangerous to try and trespass onto a military base. Number two, two local counties declared states of emergency and prepped for the worst that can happen if thousands descend on the desert and quickly dehydrate. Number three, our love of all things alien was further fueled by the U.S. Navy confirming what you see in these declassified cockpit videos --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gosh. They're all going against the wind. The wind's 120 knots to the west.

WATT: Are indeed unidentified aerial phenomena. Acronym, UAP. You'll note not UFO. So, easy now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in foreign language).

WATT: Number four, a Dutch YouTuber and his buddy just pleaded guilty to trespassing and illegal parking after trying to take a look at Area 51. A fine and three days in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We learned from our mistakes.

WATT: Number five, Matty Roberts fell out with Connie West, with whom he was hoping to turn all this into less of a death-defying base storming and more of a desert music festival, Alien Stock. West owns the Little Alien, the only food and lodging in Rachel, the nearest human civilization to this gate that millions online threatened to overrun.

Hence, the splintering. We now have what Roberts put on in Vegas last night. Next, an event tonight at the Alien Research Center, way outside the city. We're told trance DJ Paul Oakenfold will play and Connie West is pressing ahead with Alien Stock way out there in Rachel. A few started showing up last night.

There will be a bunch of bands I've never heard of, which doesn't necessarily mean much, and a still unknown number of attendees with unknown intentions.


Listen to music, sink a couple of beers, or will anyone really try and see if there really is anything in there that we all need to know about?


WATT: So, as soon as we are done talking to you, we're going to pack up and head out to Area 51 just to see what is happening.

Air Force, if you're listening, don't worry, we do not plan to storm the base.

Aliens, if you're listening, feel free to stop on by.

Back to you guys.

CAMEROTA: And they are listening.

BERMAN: I feel like this is a lot about Nick and his band preference and just a lot of issues they're working through here.

CAMEROTA: Nick, that was really funny.

BERMAN: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: All right, so FaceBook's Mark Zuckerberg face-to-face with President Trump in the Oval Office. What happened at that meeting? We have more, next.



CAMEROTA: In just hours, FaceBook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with lawmakers who are leading the anti-trust investigation into big tech. Now, yesterday, Zuckerberg met with one of his harshest critics, President Trump. The president has repeatedly called FaceBook anti- Trump and anti-conservative. But Mr. Trump tweeted afterwards calling the meeting a nice meeting and FaceBook called it good and constructive.

Joining us now with the real story is Michael Isaac, "New York Times" technology reporter and the author of the new book "Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber." And we'll get into the book momentarily, Mike.

Great to see you.


CAMEROTA: OK, so what of this meeting. How -- how do we think it went yesterday with President Trump?

ISAAC: I think Zuckerberg basically had to have his sort of Capitol Hill visit after -- he doesn't like going to D.C. a lot. He usually dispatches Sheryl Sandburg, his COO, and she's -- she's been more well versed on glad-handling lawmakers.

But this was kind of part olive branch, part, like, hey, I'm willing to come down and talk to you, even as you're hammering my company in ways that I don't really like.

BERMAN: Look, it looked like in that photo he was in extreme discomfort. (INAUDIBLE).

ISAAC: That's kind of his default mode. BERMAN: I will also say it was odd, you know, the Australian prime

minister is arriving at the White House today. Mark Zuckerberg's trip to Washington almost met with as much fanfare. I feel like they create as much anticipation about his arrival, like he's some head of state, which I think --

ISAAC: I was just going to say, he kind of is. He's head of -- head of state of -- of the social networking world, which touches 2.7 billion people at this point.

BERMAN: More than Australia.

ISAAC: Yes. I don't know. At least -- at least -- at least in D.C.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk about your book. It's called "Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber." I'll read a little portion of it.

You say, the saga of Uber, which is essentially the story of Travis Kalanick -- Kalanick, am I saying that right?

ISAAC: Kalanick, yes.

CAMEROTA: Kalanick is a tale of hubris and excess set against a technological revolution with billions of dollars and the future of transportation at stake. But, most of all, it is a story about how blind worship of start-up founders can go wildly wrong and a cautionary tale that ends in spectacular disaster.

That sounds juicy.

So give us just a few tidbits of what went spectacularly wrong.

ISAAC: You know, I think, Silicon Valley, you know, we were just talking about Zuckerberg, they popularized this idea of moving fast and breaking things. You know, if there are incumbents in the -- in the system, you overturn them.

Travis Kalanick kind of took that to the extreme. One of the things they did was create a software tool that helped them systematically evade police in cities that they were breaking into, essentially. Some people called it obstruction of justice on a grand level. Or the -- I call it the culture wolf of Wall Street meets "Animal House" meets Thomas Hobbs at some point.

BERMAN: Wow. Wow.

CAMEROTA: It's that depraved? It's that depraved?

ISAAC: It was. It was. It was pretty rough. It was -- it was just sort of like, as long as you made your numbers and as long as you were able to grow, you can kind of do whatever you want.

BERMAN: Sort of like a nasty (INAUDIBLE) toga party, as it were.

ISAAC: That's exactly right. BERMAN: The China description of Uber's efforts in China to me encapsulates so much of what you're talking about when you're talking about hubris also with just being plain wrong in some cases.

ISAAC: I mean tech founders have always wanted to really capture China, right? You know, Google, back in the day, had its dreams of entering China and then those were dashed. Zuckerberg has long courted Xi Jinxing and tried to get FaceBook in there and that has not worked.

Uber thought it could make it. Ended up spending $2 billion. Basically incinerating that, throwing it in the trash and were ultimately foiled in trying to even get in there.

BERMAN: And some of the reasons that it didn't work were just plain dumb. Like, they were using car navigation that just wasn't going where it was supposed to, right?

ISAAC: Yes, they relied on Google Maps, which is just not the dominant mapping thing in the sector. They had scammers that were cutting into at least half of fares in some cities, like basically just stealing money from Uber. A lot of it was just ignorance and hubris on entering a new country they'd never been in.

CAMEROTA: I want to get back to the depravity because it sounds like, in all seriousness, a horrible place for women to work.

ISAAC: Yes. It was. If you remember back in 2017, there was a woman, Susan Fowler. She's an ex-employee who wrote this blog post on her time there, which basically describes the very day she started her job, her manager opened -- invited her into his open relationship, right, and talked about this double standard for men and women there where men could just sort of act with impunity as long as they were making their numbers and women were just sort of pushed into the back seat. And it continued for that for a very long time, at least until 2017.

BERMAN: So Kalanick forced out of the company. Sort of a walk of shame. But a very lucrative walk of shame.

ISAAC: That's the sort of weird, cynical reality here. Everyone who was in early, Kalanick's a billionaire five times over, all the VCs made insane amounts of money and early employees who were kicked out for bad behavior also did very well. So if it's a cautionary tale on behavior, maybe they took a black eye for a minute, but they're very rich while they did it.


CAMEROTA: OK, the book again is "Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber." Great stories. Great to know about the inside of what's going on there at this thing that we all use a lot of.

BERMAN: Yes, and it's a -- the book is as much about personality, I think, as it is about technology, which makes it so interesting.

CAMEROTA: Mike Isaac, thank you. Great to have you here. ISAAC: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right, we have some pictures here we're going to show you. President Trump is about to welcome Australia's prime minister to the White House. All the pomp and circumstance, but also today very important, they're going to hold a press conference at 11:45 Eastern this morning. Will the president say anything about the whistleblower scandal?

CAMEROTA: Well, he'll be asked about it. We know that much.

BERMAN: He certainly will. And, in fact, he's been tweeting about it. If he thinks he did nothing wrong, why doesn't he release the whistleblower complaint?

CAMEROTA: CNN live coverage, next.



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, good Friday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow.


Any minute now the Australian prime minister will arrive at the White House for a meeting --