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Trump Lifts Sanctions on Turkey; Biden Allies Push for Super PAC; Klobuchar Qualifies for November Debate; Nationals Take Control of World Series; Facebook's CEO Grilled over Political Ads Policy. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 06:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, breaking overnight, our new CNN national poll shows that three quarters of Americans are concerned about the ongoing situation in Syria. And many, nearly 70 percent, believe ISIS is likely to re-emerge after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

Now, on Wednesday, the president announced he is lifting all sanctions against Turkey after Turkey agreed to stop their attack or claimed they're stopping the attack on America's now former Kurdish allies. The U.S. special envoy to Syria told Congress that Turkish backed troops committed war crimes.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in neighboring Iraq with the latest.

And what the president is claiming and the reality on the ground, Nick, seem different.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's possibly heartening to see that that poll suggests that some of the misinformation, frankly, coming out of the White House about what's happening in Syria hasn't rubbed off on about three-quarters of the American people. It is startling to hear the glowing endorsement of what's happened over the past two weeks from Donald Trump yesterday talking about how people have tried to do this for decades, even saying that American troops have been in Syria for ten years and they were supposed to be here for 30 days. Numbers, frankly, in time frames that simply have no basis in reality.

His top envoy going on to say that they have a problem because the fact that the troops have had to leave means there is damage done to the fight against ISIS. A reality check, ISIS were in a very bad position before all of this started, but there is a chaos and a vacuum here that potentially allows some space to grow again. Although I am assured by a U.S. official that, in fact, the Syrian Kurds are still in control of quite a lot of those detention facilities where the high value ISIS fighters are.

But the big question really is how we go forward from here. It does appear that Russian Turkish troops are getting ready to patrol areas of the border, but the Syrian regime, which now backs the Syrian Kurds after the U.S. pulled away from them, that they control the major highway that runs from east to west. That's what we're hearing this morning. And they may go on to control more border posts.

The broader concern is the Syrian rebels that Turkey backed to do a lot of the fighting on the ground for them. As you said, the top Syrian envoy, James Jeffrey, said today -- sorry, yesterday, that they are guilty of war crimes. The secretary of defense said that he had accurate reporting and seemed to believe that was the case, too, and that Turkey could be held responsible for backing them in those moves.

I've heard from a U.S. official repeatedly saying that they are mostly extremists, former ISIS, former al Qaeda. So what are they going to do inside of Syria? What kind of community are they going to create? Are they going to try and move towards these detention facilities where ISIS are to bring some people out? They're supposed to go into Turkish custody according to the Washington Ankara deal that was originally hatched.

A lot of questions about the future, frankly, of extremism, of jihad within Syria here of radicals. And a lot of that is fueled by Turkey' actions, certainly to (INAUDIBLE) is, and I think that's the major concern highlighted in our poll suggesting the fight against ISIS could take a punch. The real problem is that this has to continue, except now these special forces can't do all of it in Syria, they have to go to Iraq where they've been repeatedly told they're not welcome but still have a couple of hundred down in Syria. That's the complicated mess they face going forward.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Paton Walsh, so helpful to have you on the ground for us to give us all that context. Thank you.

So back here, former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is publicly expressing his confidence in his campaign fundraising. But CNN is learning that behind the scenes his allies are concerned and intensifying their push for a super PAC following a lackluster fundraising quarter.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is live in Washington with more.

What have you learned, Jeff.


Several allies and donors and former strategists for Joe Biden have been talking for weeks about the idea of setting up a super PAC to sort of help the Biden campaign push back against the attacks from the Trump campaign and others.


The conversations have been stalled in recent weeks, but we are told that they are escalating now. They are nearing the final stages of setting up that super PAC to help the Joe Biden campaign going forward. Not to win the Democratic primary per se, but to push back against the president and the Trump campaign.

Now, of course, this is controversial. Super PACs are, you know, essentially not viewed very highly in the Democratic primary. Bernie Sanders is already saying that this is something that Joe Biden should not be doing.

But the reality here is that the long-term game and the cash situation inside the Biden campaign may make this necessary. And this is why. Take a look at the numbers here of the cash on hand of the candidates. Donald Trump, of course, $158 million closing out September. Bernie Sanders, $33.7 million. Elizabeth Warren there almost $26 million. Pete Buttigieg, $23. But Joe Biden, only $9 million cash on hand. So he has struggled to raise money.

Of course, he doesn't need as much money to introduce himself. You know, people know who Joe Biden is. But it is these -- you know, the attacks from the Trump campaign and others that's concerning supporters of the former vice president.

So we will see what Joe Biden himself has to say, if he disavowed this. But the reality is, donors we spoke to say, look, he knows he needs the help, that Trump is crushing him in spending.

John and Alisyn.

BERMAN: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much for that reporting.

In the meantime, this new national poll out just moments ago, good news for one Democrat who's been fighting to get on the debate stage next month. We'll tell you who just qualified, next.



BERMAN: All right, we've got breaking news for you this morning. There is a brand new national poll from Quinnipiac just released. Now, you can see this poll different than the CNN poll. This one has Elizabeth Warren on top. The CNN poll yesterday had Joe Biden on top. I always suggest you average all of them.

But the most interesting development here, and the most positive development for a candidate may be for Amy Klobuchar down at the bottom. That 3 percent means she qualifies for the next Democratic debate.

Want to talk --

CAMEROTA: So there are nine candidates now?

BERMAN: I think that would make nine candidates on the stage.

CAMEROTA: In November?

BERMAN: In November. She needed more poll at 3 percent.


BERMAN: Between the CNN poll and this poll, she now has the polls to qualify for that debate.

So let's get the state of the race right now with 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, former Vermont governor, former DNC chair, and current just nice guy who joins us sometimes in the morning, Howard Dean.

So you've long said you thought there was space for these candidates who weren't necessarily one, two, or three --


BERMAN: To emerge from the race. Amy Klobuchar, she stays in.

DEAN: Yes.

BERMAN: She hangs on here for another month to fight.

DEAN: Iowa is Buttigieg and Klobuchar country. They're Midwesterners. They're going to go do well there. We don't -- look, we don't know what's going on. I just saw an article yesterday which reminded everybody, in December of 2003, about six weeks before the Iowa caucuses, I was comfortably in first. Joe Lieberman and Wes Clark were tied for second and John Kerry was at 4 percent in Iowa. Now --

CAMEROTA: So you're saying things can change?

DEAN: Yes. I mean -- and we're still in -- we're not even in November yet. We've got a long way to go.

But it's not a surprise. I think there's a -- there's a line out of Iowa that's probably going to be occupied by either Buttigieg or Klobuchar because they're Midwesterners and they understand the language. It's a -- you know, the Midwest is not the same culture as the East and the South and so forth and so on and they're going to do well.

CAMEROTA: What about Elizabeth Warren in Iowa? She's spending a lot of time.

DEAN: She's -- she's done great. She has a very strong operation there. And she's going to do well too. I mean, you know, this -- it's so hard to predict. And -- plus we've got to stop looking at national polls because of their -- this is state by state.

BERMAN: It is state by state but sometimes the national polls do give us this sentiment of what voters are thinking and how they are perceiving the candidates, not as a predictive thing, but as a present value. DEAN: That's right. That's right. And the CNN poll yesterday, which

showed Biden with a big lead, what that reflects, in my view, is, Biden -- the Democrats are rallying around Biden because Trump is attacking him and lying about him and so people like Joe Biden. He's -- it doesn't reflect whether we're going to win or not but it does reflect that we don't believe Trump because -- for obvious reasons, and that we like Joe Biden as a human being. It doesn't reflect where he's going to end up.

BERMAN: One of the most interesting thing that's happened to me in the last 24 hours is there's been this notion, this whisper for some time that there are different candidates who are waiting or hoping or betting that Joe Biden's numbers will collapse. They really haven't yet. They haven't. But they're betting that they will. And they want to be that person there if Biden's numbers give in.

And Cory Booker, yesterday, he said the quiet part out loud. So listen to this.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Democrats who are looking for an alternative now, I want to make the case today very directly that look no further.


BERMAN: Oh, no. So the bite goes on, the VP is certainly not achieving the way I know his campaign would probably want. Booker goes on to say, I'm getting calls from people who are Biden supporters who now want to hedge their bet and support somebody they think can actually win.

So Cory Booker flat out said, look at me, I'm the Joe Biden alternative.

DEAN: You're going to get that kind of talk from everybody though. I mean, you know, to talk about the frontrunner is, oh, they can't win, they can't win. Well, you know, first of all, no polls show -- the polls show that everybody in the race can win practically, including people nobody's ever heard of because Trump is a crook and people don't like that.

But, you know, this is all talk that goes on in campaigns. And I like Cory Booker and he could well end up being on the ticket in either spot, but I -- you know, this is just campaign talk.

CAMEROTA: But what do you see in the fundraising numbers, the fact that the third quarter did have lackluster -- a lackluster showing for Joe Biden, where he got $9 million versus say Sanders' $33.7 million?

DEAN: Right. I mean the intensity of some of the other candidates is extraordinary. There's not a lot of intensity behind Joe Biden.


People like Joe Biden. They know him. They trust him because he was Barack Obama's vice president. And he's -- that's a lot going for him.

But there's a lot of intensity behind other candidates. And that matters a lot, especially in caucuses.

BERMAN: I just want to -- our poll shows that the certainty of Joe Biden voters is actually higher than other voters. Intensity and certainty are two different things, but he's got one, maybe not the other there.

DEAN: That's right. And that's the interesting thing to me because I contend that this -- this -- this -- our party is moving to the center. Everybody's talking -- writing about the left because they look at the squad and all this. It isn't. Thirty-five out of the candidates who won in 2018 moved -- are centrists. They come from Oklahoma and Texas and Kansas and places like that. Charlie Dent's seat was taken by -- I know you're laughing because I --

BERMAN: No, no, no, I wasn't. I wasn't. I -- you started listing states.

DEAN: I was going to list states. And North Carolina!


DEAN: That's right. That's right, busted.

So I could see the smile on your face. It was great.

CAMEROTA: That's so funny.

DEAN: But we are moving to the center.

BERMAN: Right.

DEAN: I do believe that. And that's where -- that's where the money is. I'm not -- this is not a criticism of -- I'm probably to the left of some of these candidates. But the new -- we're going to pick up more seats. And when we do, it's going to be out of -- out of Republicans that have gone so far to the right they've out-stripped their district.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting.

Howard Dean, thank you very much.

DEAN: The morning laugh.

CAMEROTA: And for the trip down memory lane.

BERMAN: Great to have you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right, the biggest news out of Washington, once again, not the impeachment inquiry, it's the Washington Nationals heading home with a commanding two-game lead in the World Series. This isn't the way it was supposed to go.

Coy Wire with the "Bleacher Report."

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John and Alisyn.

There may not be a better team in the world right now than the boys from D.C. A post-season tying record eight straight wins. And they're getting contributions from everybody. Twenty-year-old Juan Soto was game one's hero. But it was 37-year-old Kurt Suzuki stealing the show last night.

The game was tied at two since the first inning. But in the seventh, Suzuki hits this home run off Justin Verlander. And it seemed to open the flood gates for the Nats. Suzuki was just two for 25 this post season before that hit. Nats win 12-3 stunning the Astros to take that commanding 2-0 lead back to D.C. for game three tomorrow night.

To hoops. Kyrie Irving with a debut to remember in Brooklyn last night. Fifty points. The most ever by a player in his first game with a new team. The only thing that didn't go right, this moment. Incredible effort in overtime. Time expiring, but he misses the shot. The Nets fall to the T-wolves in overtime 127-126.

Another great opening week double header tonight on TNT. First up, Bucks and Rockets, followed by Kawhi Leonard's Clippers taking on the Warriors in their new arena.

John, Alisyn, I wanted to share this trending moment with you before we go from the World Series last night. Superstar gymnast Simone Biles with the back flip with a twist before she threw out the first pitch, which was a strike, proving yet again that she's the most dynamic athlete on the planet.

CAMEROTA: Wow, that is a twist to the first pitch that we didn't see coming.

BERMAN: Oh, my God. Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: That is so great.

BERMAN: But she did it like it was nothing.


BERMAN: It was nothing.

CAMEROTA: Like her sneakers are like rocket propelled and she can just do that.

BERMAN: Exactly.


All right, thank you, Coy.

Meanwhile, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg facing the fire on Capitol Hill.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact checking on political advertisements?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Well, Congresswoman, I think lying is bad. And I think if you were to run an ad that had a lie, that would be bad.


CAMEROTA: Well, what's he going to do about that? More of his testimony and whether it can be trusted, next.



BERMAN: Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers for more than six hours on how the social media giant handles political ads and what it is doing to fight election interference.

CNN's Cristina Alesci is live in Washington.

And he had to know these questions were coming and yet, Cristina, and yet.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: And yet at times the hearing was painful to watch, John. That is because this was supposed to be a hearing about Facebook's ambitions in developing a digital currency and a digital wallet. But what it turned into was a skewering for what lawmakers see as a lack of Facebook's ability or really a willingness to police misinformation on its platform. That raises the question, if Facebook can't police information on its platform and really protect privacy on its platform, how can the American public or the government really trust it with something as sensitive as financial data. Listen.


ALESCI (voice over): Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg facing the fury of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in grueling questioning for six hours on Capitol Hill. Democrats quickly zeroing in on the social media giant's new political advertising policy.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): You announce that Facebook would not be doing fact checking on political ads giving any one Facebook labels a politician a platform to lie, mislead, and misinform the American people, which will also allow Facebook to sell more ads.

Your claim to promote freedom of speech does not ring true.

ALESCI: Zuckerberg struggling to clarify what the new policy would do. REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Would I be able to run

advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the green new deal?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: I -- I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head. I think probably.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you don't know if I'll be able to do that?

ZUCKERBERG: I think probably.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Do you see a potential problem here with a complete lack of fact checking on political advertisements?

ALESCI: Facebook says it does not fact check any political ads. Instead, it relies on third party fact checkers.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you won't take down lies or you will take down lies? I think that's just a pretty simple yes or no.

ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I -- in --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I'm not talking about spin, I'm talking about actual disinformation.

ZUCKERBERG: Yes, in most -- in a democracy --


ZUCKERBERG: I believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians that they may or may not vote for are saying and judge their character for themselves.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you won't take them down?

So you won't take -- you may flag that it's wrong, but you won't take it down?

ALESCI: Lawmakers repeatedly grilling the 35-year-old billionaire about Facebook's handling of election interference and data privacy.

ZUCKERBERG: I get that I'm not the ideal messenger for this right now. You know, we faced a lot of issues over the past few years.

ALESCI: One Republican accusing Democrats of, quote, bullying Facebook to be a fact checker.


REP. ANDY BARR (R-KY): Will you commit that Facebook will not sensor any political ad placed on your platform or in support of President Donald Trump?

ZUCKERBERG: We believe that people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying. ALESCI: Zuckerberg also questioned about this deep fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that slows down her speech, making it seem like she's slurring her words. Zuckerberg admits that it took Facebook too long to respond to it and acknowledged Facebook is working to identify and take down similar videos.

ZUCKERBERG: Deep fakes are clearly one of the emerging threats that we need to get in front of and develop policy around to address.


ALESCI: What's remarkable here is that Facebook has spent millions of dollars trying to curry favor with Congress. Clearly that effort really stumbled yesterday. And some lawmakers, including the chairman of that -- the chairwoman of that committee, Maxine Waters, really believes that Facebook's power needs to be checked and even floated the idea of breaking the company up.


CAMEROTA: There's a lot that's remarkable here.

Cristina, thank you very much for bringing that to us.

So let's bring in CNN politics and technology reporting Donie O'Sullivan.

Donie, when you watch that hearing, it does not feel like we are in good hands, frankly. And so why couldn't he answer some basic questions about this?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN POLITICS AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Yes, more questions than answers yesterday, I think.

I mean Facebook keeps framing this whole debate around political ads. Them allowing politicians to spread lies on the platform as a free expression debate. I mean there's a free expression debate, which is different to posting -- you know, allowing the politicians to post in the first place. But they are taking money and allowing these politicians to -- including the Trump campaign, to send targeted lies to American voters. And they keep claiming that it's not about the money. They keep saying, we're not making a lot of money out of this.

Over the past 18 months, just in the U.S. alone, they have taken in -- almost $1 billion in political and issue ads. So to say it's not about the money I think is a bit disingenuous.


People need facts. Voters need facts. And he seemed unable to sort of understand the difference between facts and spin. So here's another moment with AOC where she was trying to get to the point of how far will you go in allowing misinformation out there?

So, watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Under your policy, you know, using census data as well, could I pay to target predominately black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: No, Congresswoman, you couldn't. We -- we have -- even for these policies around the newsworthiness of content that politicians say and the general principle that I believe that you're talking to --

OCASIO-CORTEZ: But you said you're not going to fact check my ads.

ZUCKERBERG: We -- we have -- if -- if anyone, including a politician, is saying things that can cause -- that is calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm or voter or sense of suppression when we roll out the census suppression policy, we will take that content down.


CAMEROTA: He struggled over that one.

O'SULLIVAN: Facebook is framing this as a debate saying that in the marketplace of ideas, we can allow politicians to spread lies on our platform and the media and political opponents will call that out. That debate might be more convincing in a world without Facebook. What Facebook has helped create is these ideological echo chambers where, you know, we all know people that only follow pages and like accounts of points of view and political perspectives that they agree with. So it's actually quite possible for someone, a Facebook user, to see a lie in a political ad and to never see the correcting information on the platform.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

And we already know from 2016 that obviously Russians created these fake grassroots sites, websites, whatever, links, and sent them out and people fell for it. Have we learned nothing from 2016 and are they seeing this already happen yet again?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, so that was a major failure on the part of Facebook in 2016. The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook was actually run out of Australia. It was a scam. A guy was taking money from Black Lives Matter activists. There was other pages on there with hundreds of thousands of followers that we now know was part of a Russian campaign.

Facebook has taken steps. They've hired -- in fact some former intelligence officials to try and root out these campaigns now. And on Monday, they did take down a campaign from the same troll group in Russia that has been sanctioned and indicted and by -- hit with cyberattacks from the U.S. government. It is still at it. They're -- and laying the groundwork for 2020.

We have some new reporting today, speaking to Black Lives Matter activists. Black Lives Matter, of course, the one -- the group of Americans that were targeted more so than anybody else in 2016, they're not trusting Facebook or Twitter or Google to manage this issue. They are now setting up their own in-house sort of team to monitor and see for this information so that they are not duped like they were in 2016.


CAMEROTA: Good for them. That's what it's going to take. That's obviously what it's going to take because I don't know that Mark Zuckerberg has had