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Trump Orders U.S. Troops Out of Syrian Region; Facebook Uses Broadcast Media Law to Defend Advertising Policy; Search for Missing Worker to Begin After New Orleans Building Collapse. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 14, 2019 - 10:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- deal over the weekend with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after President Trump ordered all U.S. forces to leave that region. Listen to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, speaking yesterday on Fox, explaining the president's thinking behind this decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It looks like the SDF is cutting a deal with the Syrians and Russians --

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX ANCHOR, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Yes. We should say, SDF, those are the Kurdish forces, the Syrian -- Syrian Democracy Forces.

ESPER: Defense Forces. That's right. They're cutting a deal. And now what we're facing is, U.S. forces in a -- trapped between a Syrian Russian army moving north to take on the Turkish army that is moving south. It puts us in a terrible position, and the protection and safety of our service members comes first to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Joining me now to discuss this is retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Good morning to you. Thank you for being here. So how does this play out now? Where does this go?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Poppy, that's the great question this morning. It's -- I think what we're seeing is a very predictable state of affairs. What you have is, of course, the Turks coming in from the north and you've got the Syrian government taking over towns with the help of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and specifically the Kurdish element of that. And they're coming in from -- you know, from the South. So you have the chance that those two forces will meet.

So in one sense, Secretary Esper is correct that the situation for American forces is untenable because of these two forces meeting. And the question, of course, then is, what will happen when they do meet.

HARLOW: Yes.

LEIGHTON: But, you know, we have a case where it appears as if Turkey and Russia are at least working together and through Russia, that means also that the Syrians could be working with the Turks indirectly at this point as well.

HARLOW: So what does this do -- I mean, you bring up that important point about the -- you know, SDF allying itself with Syria, with the Assad regime, backed of course by Russia and Iran over the weekend. So how much more influence does that give to Vladimir Putin, to Russia, to Iran in the region? And to what end, to what consequence.

LEIGHTON: So the biggest gainer of all this, the biggest winner is Vladimir Putin, no question about it. In fact, he was in Saudi Arabia just today and yesterday, and he basically said that this is -- you know, something that he has looked forward to in so many words. And he also is aligning himself with other Arab nations.

So what the Russians are trying to do here is gain control over as much of the Middle East as they possibly can. And that may mean, you know, all kinds of varying degrees of influence, depending on the country and, you know, the specific region.

But what you're dealing with is a really concerted effort by the Russians to break out of what they see as the isolation that they suffered ever since the fall of communism. And this is their big moment.

HARLOW: We just heard, over the weekend, from the leader of the Syrian Kurds, General Maslum Kobane Abdi. And this is what he had to say about the United States. Quote, "You have given up on us. You are leaving us to be slaughtered."

What should the U.S. do at this moment, to curb (ph) what we have seen? Meaning, what will move Turkey's hand here? The president is talking about extreme sanctions. He says he can destroy the Turkish economy. Mnuchin says he has the power to end all U.S. dollar transactions with the Turkish government at a moment's notice. Should that be done and will it stop Turkey at this point?

LEIGHTON: Well, it probably won't stop Turkey, but it should be done. You know, what -- you have to exert some degree of pressure on the Turks, and stopping dollar transactions for their armaments industry, for their government, those would be very, very big things to do.

In this case, you know, the whole idea of this happening, of course, is a complete failure of policy. But now that we're here, the big thing is that we should not only do these sanctions, but we should also align ourselves with our European allies, specifically France and Germany, because they have curtailed arms sales to the Turks and that's exactly what we should be doing as well.

HARLOW: What happens in regard to ISIS? There have already been reports -- "New York Times" reporting -- of two different ISIS attacks in Syria since last Wednesday, since the Turkish incursion. One, in a northern city of Qamishil and one on an international military base right outside of Hasakah. What does this mean for ISIS in the region?

LEIGHTON: Well, it means ISIS is resurging. And they are going to have their sleeper cells go out and probably do some jailbreaks, to be quite frank about it. We're probably seeing some of that already, supposedly, somewhere around 60 hard-core ISIS high-value detainees have been released or are in the process of escaping their detention centers.

[10:35:03]

That's a major failure and we have to expect that ISIS is going to try to show itself to be a very potent force, as the Syrian government comes through and as the Turks come through, to these areas of northern Syria that we're talking about.

If ISIS does this, they will then once again have a potential growing ground for their terror group, and that's going to be a real problem, not just for that region but also for Europe and potentially for the rest of the world as well.

HARLOW: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you very much. The stakes are incredibly high. I appreciate your expertise this morning.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Poppy. Any time. Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: All right. Coming up, Senator Elizabeth Warren, ramping up her attacks on Facebook. And now, the social media giant is firing back. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:40:25]

HARLOW: Elizabeth Warren's face-off with Facebook is getting more intense. She is now openly accusing the social media giant and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg of taking money to promote lies. Those are her words.

This comes after her 2020 presidential campaign ran an ad on Facebook containing a deliberate lie to raise attention to the issue. Now, Facebook is firing back.

With me is CNN tech reporter Brian Fung. And, Brian, just there's a lot of back and forth here. So break this down for me. How did this start and where are we now?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Sure. So this all begins with a controversial ad run by President Trump's campaign that contains discredited allegations against Vice President Joe Biden and his family.

Now, this ad ran on Facebook and that prompted Senator Warren to lash out at the company, saying this is an example of the -- of Facebook using its power to prioritize profits over protecting democracy.

And that's when she ran her ad, which contains a deliberate lie, as you said, showing or claiming, falsely, that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have endorsed President Trump for president.

Now, they very quickly, in the same ad, said that that's not true. But the whole idea was to drive attention and drive home the message that Facebook is engaging in profiting from --

HARLOW: Right.

FUNG: -- some of this advertising material.

HARLOW: So, but Facebook is responding. And they're saying, essentially, we're following the law here, right? FCC guidelines. Let me read this. "Looks like broadcast stations across the country have aired this ad nearly 1,000 times, as required by law. FCC doesn't want broadcast companies censoring candidates' speech. We agree it's better to let voters -- not companies -- decide." Are they right on the FCC law?

FUNG: Well, media experts have told me it's interesting to see Facebook sort of cite broadcast media law here. And while it's true that, you know, companies and -- media companies who are, you know, engaged in TV broadcasting have to carry all of these political ads without a view to their accuracy or truthfulness, and those rules don't apply to cable networks like CNN or --

HARLOW: Right.

FUNG: -- to websites like Facebook. So it's interesting to see Facebook refer to a really heavily regulated industry to try and defend an action that it's taking.

HARLOW: But what also, I think, makes that even more interesting, Brian, is that, you know, in so many ways, Facebook does not want to be considered a media platform, right? They don't want -- you know, Section 230, right? That lays out that they're essentially not responsible for what's on their platform, differentiates them from us airing something here on CNN.

But now, it seems like they're saying, with this statement, they want to be viewed as a broadcast network.

FUNG: Exactly. Media law experts say this actually undercuts Facebook's arguments that it isn't a media company, and raises big questions about just what are the policies that should apply to large online platforms like Facebook given that, in the past, for decades, we've had these rules on the books for other large media organizations or media industries that have had a large role in shaping and influencing public opinion.

HARLOW: OK. This is going to be fascinating, to watch this play out and how it goes. Because this is not the first ad like this that is going to come. Brian, thank you. Appreciate the reporting.

FUNG: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Also, a quick programming note. Be sure to watch tomorrow night, CNN and "The New York Times" host a Democratic presidential debate. It's 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

[10:44:02]

All right. Right now, crews are trying to stabilize the Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans after Saturday's deadly construction crane collapse. The latest on their search for a missing worker, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right, welcome back. In just a few minutes, officials in New Orleans will hold a news conference about the latest on Saturday's deadly collapse of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction there. That includes an update on the search for a worker that is still missing.

Our Rosa Flores is live in New Orleans with the latest. It is so tragic, Rosa. What can you tell us this morning?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Poppy, the latest is that one individual is missing and two people are dead. Just yesterday, rescue teams were able to recover the body of one of those individuals. But family members, still on-scene, hoping and praying that that one missing individual is indeed alive.

Take a look over my shoulder. Let me show you the scene here. Because beyond these barricades, you'll see the pile of debris. And beyond that, you'll see a black crane. That is the focus today.

It was brought in over the weekend, it weighs 110 tons and the reason for it is to stabilize the building because until now, search and rescue teams have not been able to go beyond the eighth floor of this building because it is so unstable and it is unsafe for search and rescue teams, for them to go in there, for them to take dogs.

[10:50:04]

The only thing we've seen actually get closer to the building are drones. They've been using drones to get access, to get their eyes into some of these floors.

Now, the tragic moments were caught on video. And in this dramatic video, you can see how the building collapses, how debris starts flying off the building, landing on the ground and a cloud of dust builds. And if you look closely at that video, you can see how people start running for their lives.

Since then, of course, search and rescue teams rushed to this scene to try to save as many lives as possible. Of course, it's too early in the investigation. The first right now, really, is search and rescue. But we do know, Poppy, that OSHA teams are on-site, ready to investigate.

But again, the focus right now is just trying to get to that one person --

HARLOW: Yes.

FLORES: -- who is still missing --

HARLOW: Of course. FLORES: -- and of course, family members are trying to figure out if

this person is alive.

HARLOW: Praying, praying that they are.

Do we know, Rosa, the identity of the victims at this point?

FLORES: The identities have not been released yet. We know that one body was recovered yesterday. We've contacted the Coroner's Office. They haven't released any information yet. But, Poppy, we do have video of the area where family members are staying, waiting for information.

We, of course, have kept our distance, giving families the distance that they need and the respect that they need right now because they're trying to get more information. And many of them, not leaving the scene, hoping and praying that that missing worker is alive at this time.

But, like you mentioned, we're hoping to be at a press conference here in a few minutes, and we're hoping to learn more. And we'll of course bring you that information as soon as we know it.

HARLOW: Well, hoping for the best for them, Rosa. Thank you very much for that reporting from New Orleans this morning.

Also ahead for us, the parents of a British teenager killed by an American diplomat's wife are demanding justice. They are in New York this morning. What they said just a short time ago.

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[10:56:48]

HARLOW: All right, welcome back. The family of a British teenager killed by an American diplomat's wife is now in the United States, pleading for justice this morning.

The parents of Harry Dunn just spoke a short time ago here in New York. Dunn was killed by Anne Sacoolas in August, when she was driving on the wrong side of the road. She originally cooperated in that case, but then abruptly left the country. And now, Dunn's family is trying to get her to either voluntarily return or be extradited to the U.K.

Our Alexandra Field was at that press conference this morning. What are we hearing from her family at this point?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Poppy. Look, this is a complex international and legal matter. The family is grieving, seven weeks after they lost their 19-year-old son, Harry Dunn. They are looking for justice and they're also looking for an apology.

They wanted this woman, Anne Sacoolas, to stay in the U.K. She returned to the United States. The U.S. has insisted that as a diplomat's wife, she had immunity. They have refused to waive that immunity.

But there was a development over the weekend, with the U.K.'s foreign secretary contacting the family and saying that U.K. officials don't believe that that immunity applies to Anne Sacoolas now that she is back in the U.S. They say U.S. officials agree to that point, but the family says no U.S. officials have contacted them to say as much. CNN has also not been able to confirm that.

Still, the family has decided to come here to New York. They'll travel to D.C., they say they want to send a message directly to lawmakers, directly to President Trump and directly to Anne Sacoolas herself.

HARLOW: See if we hear anything from her on that front. Alexandra Field, thank you for being there. Thank you for your reporting this morning.

And now, to Texas, where another grieving family is demanding answers. This, after a black woman over the weekend was killed by a white police officer in her own home.

Atatiana Jefferson, shot at 2:30 in the morning on Saturday in Fort Worth. Police were reportedly called to her house after a concerned neighbor saw an open door.

In body camera video -- look at this, this was released by police -- the officer opens fire through a window, just two seconds after shouting commands. That is when the edited video that was provided by police stops.

So we don't have the full body camera video. CNN Has requested that, the full unedited body camera footage. We have not received it yet. The officer that opened fire is set to be interviewed today by the department's major cases unit.

Now, Jefferson graduated from Xavier University in 2014. She had a bachelor's degree in biology. She worked in pharmaceutical sales and recently moved to take care of her ailing mother in her own home, there in Fort Worth. Her family, of course, grieving. They are going to hold a press conference at 12:00, noon, today. We'll monitor that, we'll bring you the latest when we have it.

Thank you so much for joining us today. Jim and I will see you back here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for joining me. Right now, President Trump's former top Russia advisor, Fiona -

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