Return to Transcripts main page
Impeachment Inquiry Shaking The Entire White House; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Is Interviewed About The Democrats' Next Step Once They Formalize The Impeachment Inquiry; Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) Is Interviewed About How He Views The 2020 Election Atmosphere; Interview With Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) About His Presidential Campaign; Twitter Bans Political Ads After Facebook Refused To; McAleenan Says White Supremacist Extremist Threat Specific Concern; CNN Exclusive: One Woman's Journey Inside The White Supremacist Movement. Aired 11p- 12a ET
Aired October 30, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
A lot going on tonight. A lot. And we're going to catch you up on six big headlines.
Breaking news. Here's what "The Washington Post" is reporting. The call transcript that was moved to that secret server because Vindman reported it to John Eisenberg.
Looking ahead, we're going to talk about that. We're going to look ahead at the major day tomorrow in the impeachment inquiry.
A full House voting on a resolution that permits public impeachment hearings and the release of deposition transcripts. And tonight, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her whip, the vote counter, has given her a good report about that vote.
This as President Trump's top National Security Council official for Europe testifies behind closed doors tomorrow. The House judiciary committee will soon take control of the impeachment inquiry. It can call witnesses and will consider articles of impeachment against the president.
I'm going to talk to Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the judiciary.
Plus, he's one of the 2020 Democratic candidates. Montana Governor Steve Bullock. I'm going to ask him if he thinks his party is moving too far to the left.
Twitter announcing a ban on political ads. As Facebook plans to keep running them. We're going to take a look at the pros and the cons of each company's decision. And also, tonight, as the threat of white supremacy grows in America,
one woman's very powerful story of taking a dangerous risk leaving a movement she willingly joined only to realize she was actively promoting hate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm at a book burning in someone's House, like, there are families that live next door, there's probably a nice person who lives across the street and I'm burning books about Jewish people, like, it was just so, I don't know, it just feels like -- it doesn't even feel like it's wrong or right. It just feels unreal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: An eye-opening story that is coming up a little bit later on this hour. You don't want to miss that.
But I want to begin with our breaking news. Joining me now is Philip Bump, Elie Honig, and also Wajahat Ali. Good evening to all of you.
So, we've got the breaking news now. Seems to come in at every moment, right? Philip Bump, I want to ask you about this new Washington Post reporting. And here's what it says.
It says, "Moments after President Trump ended his phone call with Ukraine's president on July 25th, an unsettled national security aide rushed to the office of House lawyer John Eisenberg, Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine adviser at the White House, had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate his political rivals."
That's according to people familiar with Vindman's testimony to lawmakers this week. Vindman told Eisenberg, the White House's legal adviser on national security issues that what the president did was wrong, said the people who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that of -- proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with longstanding White House protocol.
Moving a transcript of a call to a highly classified server and restricting access to it. That's according to two people familiar with Vindman's account. Eisenberg ordered the transcript put on the secret server because of Vindman.
That's what it sounds like. Can you talk about that?
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. So according to Post report immediately after this call on July 25th between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, he has this conversation with Eisenberg.
This is the second time he's actually spoken with Eisenberg. He went to Eisenberg earlier in July after this -- July 10th meeting in which E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland appear to tried to make a direct quid pro quo between a meeting between Zelensky and Trump and the possibility of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
So Vindman and Eisenberg have already had a conversation about this issue and the response from Eisenberg is to take this transcript, move it onto the server, which essentially also then freezes the transcript. There's not any more changes that are being made.
Remember, we had this report yesterday that Vindman also took issue with some of the things who were left out of the transcript.
Eisenberg also is then informed about the whistleblower's allegations prior to the whistleblower complaint. We've learned this from prior reporting that he heard through the grapevine, essentially, through CIA lawyers, that there were other concerns from other people about this issue as well.
So, there's this broad context that centers around Eisenberg. What we learned today the Washington Post is reporting is that this change, this shift to the secure server, happened very, very quickly which suggests an awareness that this was something that was potentially problematic.
LEMON: Elie, more now from the Post. OK? It says, by the time Vindman came to him in late July, Eisenberg was already familiar with concerns among White House officials about the administration's attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes as the Washington Post previously reported.
So, this shows Eisenberg already knew that this was a cause for concern.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Don, what this tells me is that the real national security professionals understood right away just how dangerous and inappropriate this was. This wasn't something that they had to sit on and think about. As soon as it happened, the alarm bells went off.
And I think what we're seeing here is that very quickly we sort of had two different movements form. On the one hand, there were the real national security professionals who said we need to report this, we need to do it through proper channels and there needs to be accountability and then pushing the other way, you hat those people within the White House, perhaps elsewhere, who were looking to suppress this, to hide it, put it away on the secret server.
And I think that will be one of the through lines we see throughout this story.
LEMON: What is a White House lawyer, Elie, supposed to do when someone raises a concern like this?
HONIG: Yes, I think White House lawyer, first of all, has to get all the facts and decide whether there's been any violation of law. And I think if there's been a violation of law, it's a difficult spot for a White House lawyer. Right?
I think one of the options, I think the real right thing to do is report it to Congress. Now, that takes a lot of courage and a lot of backbone. But I think that's really the most appropriate thing to do. And potentially the Justice Department as well.
LEMON: Wajahat, this is how it happened. All right? This is Vindman read out loud notes he took of the president's call, Eisenberg then suggested that the National Security Council move records of the call to a separate highly classified computer system, Vindman told lawmakers.
The White House lawyer later directed the transcript's removal to a system known as NICE for NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment which is normally reserved for code word, level intelligence programs and top-secret sources and methods, according to an administration official.
Former Trump national security official said it was unheard of to store presidential calls with foreign leaders on the NICE system but that Eisenberg had moved at least one other transcript of a Trump phone call there.
This really lays out exactly how it went down when Vindman went to Eisenberg.
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTING OP-ED WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: All of the president's men are in a lot of trouble, Don. It seems like people have been keeping records of what was happening. Not just Ambassador Taylor, but also Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who was there for the July 10th meeting where he established quid pro quo.
He said Ambassador Sondland said that to the Ukrainian officials they can only get a meeting with President Trump if they launch investigations into Biden. Right then, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman says he approached and confronted Sondland. Also, he went to Attorney Eisenberg.
Also, let's not forget that Fiona Hill has testified that she went to Eisenberg and gave an account on this on July 10th. Then on July 25th after the phone call, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and others were so concerned that he ran to Eisenberg and it seems they're keeping a record because they realize this was deeply harmful to national security and also potentially, wait for it, illegal because extortion is illegal. Conspiracy to extort is illegal. And obstruction of justice is illegal.
At the very least, these are impeachable offenses and thankfully we have career officials who are risking their career and their reputation because Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is now called what? A double agent. That's by the way, an anti-Semitic smear. But he's willing to put his name on the line.
Fiona Hill. Tomorrow, we're going to have Tim Morrison, who's resigned. It's going to be damning. He has now corroborated what Ambassador Taylor has said. You had two state Department officials today who testified also. So, this is a damning narrative that's been corroborated now by multiple witnesses and Trump is in trouble.
LEMON: Eisenberg, Elie -- I'm sorry, Wajahat, Eisenberg has been called to testify on Monday as well. So, there will be more testimony and they're sure to ask him about this.
ALI: Eisenberg and Ellis, by the way. So, I mean, if Democrats are there, you should ask them what did Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman tell you on July 10th when there was the alleged quid pro quo, what did you do about it, what happened on July 25th and why did you move this transcript to a secure server?
LEMON: Philip, let me ask you this, because you know, I asked one of the guests, I asked Alice, I said, she said it's going to be stonewalled in the Senate, you know, it's going to go through the House, stonewalled in the Senate, the Senate is never going to vote.
My question to her was, what if more information keeps coming out?
LEMON: Then what is going to happen with this. And when you sat down here tonight, I said, how long can they keep this up, attacking the process instead of the substance? I'll let you answer that then I'll weigh. Go on. What do you think?
BUMP: I have seen no indication. We've seen some little glimpses of Republican senators being frustrated with President Trump about issues that are not related to this. We saw some frustration about his announcement of hosting the G7 at Doral. We saw some frustration over his decision around Syria and Turkey.
We've not seen any robust frustration from Republican senators on this issue. We have a lot of things that are already on our plate. Yes, a lot of this is reported through the press and not necessarily actual transcripts released from the House. That seems to be something that people are sort of pinning their hopes on, but we have a very full picture already of what has happened.
We have multiple instances of people in the administration testifying to existing quid pro quos that were made by the Trump administration and multiple fronts requesting multiple things. It is hard to see what else would evolve or come out of these discussions which have made Republican senators say, well, that changes my mind. Because there's so much that's already out there.
And so there's a lot of distraction about trying to get people to look at things beyond the core issue, but the core issue seems pretty well defined.
LEMON: Well, Ali, let me ask you quickly, I really just have a few seconds left, because Democrats are said they don't need the so-called quid pro quo. There doesn't need to be that because if you look at the transcript, he tried to shake down a foreign government in order to help him politically.
They're going to say if you look at the first quote that we put up, the top adviser to Ukraine of the White House had been listening to the call and was disturbed by the pressure Trump had applied to the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
They're going to say well, that's his opinion, that's only opinion, that doesn't mean necessarily it's true. That is going to be their argument. What do you say to that?
ALI: First of all, if you look at all the evidence including the phone call, I do think you have a quid pro quo. Second of all, you don't need a quid pro quo for certain and other crimes, extortion, foreign election aid, and third of all, you do not need a crime in order to impeach. You just need an abuse of power.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate you helping me out with the breaking news.
The House having its first vote tomorrow in the impeachment inquiry as they get ready to move from the intel committee to the judiciary committee.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is on the judiciary committee. I'm going to talk to her, next.
LEMON: The House gearing up for tomorrow's first vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry. That resolution lays out how the intelligence committee will hold public hearings, write a report about its findings and pass that report to the judiciary committee. The Judiciary Committee can then call witnesses of its own as it considers articles of impeachment.
Let's discuss. Sheila Jackson Lee, the congresswoman is here. She sits on the House judiciary committee. Congresswoman, I appreciate you joining us.
Once the intelligence committee writes up a report about its findings, the ball is in your court. Tell me about the witnesses. What witnesses do you plan to call?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, it's all about the facts, Don. As you well know, and it is not something we can predict at this moment. What we will have to do is to look at the report that has collectively come from the intelligence committee, oversight, and foreign affairs.
We know that we've had some very provocative witnesses, though they have not given their testimony publicly, the excerpts of their statement have been factual and damning. As a grand juror, as someone who will sit in judgment to the extent
that a determination is made for the articles of impeachment, we can't prejudge, and so what we will do as a committee is look at the report and then determine what do you need to do to add to the understanding of the American people and to add to the understanding of those who at this point may oppose articles of impeachment.
LEMON: The committee, though, met this afternoon to discuss next steps. One of your colleagues in the room tells CNN that there is going to be a lot of pressure to get this right. Wat lessons did you learn from the Russia investigation?
LEE: Well, I still stand on the Mueller report as a very strong, well-documented report. Was it so much so that there were a lot of bells and whistles and balloons? Probably not. But the actual depth of the report, the 10 items of obstruction of justice, that's very clear. And that's not going to be necessarily off the table.
It is a document that is before the judiciary committee, but I think my colleague means, and I agree, we all agree that, again, we now sit in a completely different role than any other members of Congress and we are grateful for the excellent work being done by the investigative committees.
Remember, we don't have an independent counsel statute. So, this is the work that they've done all the distraction that was done by the Republicans, they were investigating. We --
LEMON: Well, that's what I want to ask you about because I think, if you actually read the Mueller report, right, it is pretty damning. But the decision, what was really the most important was the court of public opinion. Did you not learn anything from that, from the Russia investigation?
Because you have to convince the American people and many in the American public were not convinced by the way the attorney general, you know, read out the report at the end.
LEE: Attorney general tainted and mischaracterized the report. As director Mueller very vigorously stated. I think what we have learned is, one, that we're in a whole different -- we were in an investigatory mood at that moment. We were presenting the report because there was no independent counsel, per se. But here we will be in essence grand jurors to a certain extent.
LEMON: So, you will have the information.
LEE: We will -- we will have information. We'll make determination about any witnesses that we will have. And I think the lessons are lessons that we already know and that is sober and somber, but pointedly telling the facts. Not engaging in any external acts other than presenting those facts.
LEMON: The president, some of his biggest defenders, are on the judiciary committee. Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and John Ratcliffe. Are you concerned about this that they're going to act up in public hearings, are they going to try to be showboats?
LEE: None of us do ourselves any good to take this very serious moment in America's history and make a mockery of it. I would say --
LEMON: But you they were going to try.
LEE: I would simply say that the chairman is going to be firm. We are providing every opportunity for the president to present his case. We made it very clear and we are giving the president even more rights than was in the Nixon and Clinton presentation because we are allowing them to be there.
We are presenting to them evidence and they will be able to respond to that evidence along with their lawyers, along with questions, along with seeking testimony, along with wanting to present their own side of the case.
If they want to undermine that process, then they're undermining the very essence of the Constitution of the United States. I would not want to be in that position to be seen as demeaning and diminishing the Constitution of the United States of America.
LEMON: Let's talk about the former White House counsel Don McGahn. The House has been negotiating with the Justice Department for some time to get his testimony. That's apparently failed, but McGahn isn't involved in the Ukraine test -- in the Ukraine story, so does that suggest that you're broadening the possible articles of impeachment?
LEE: I think what it suggests, we have been working to get Mr. McGahn from the moment that we saw his name 130 times in the Mueller report. I don't even understand Mr. McGahn's position. He is no longer at the White House. He was formally a White House counsel. He voluntarily or by way of subpoena submitted himself to the Mueller report and was cited 130 times.
I think that process is proceeding and we hope that maybe Mr. McGahn will see his way of understanding his responsibility to this nation as opposed to an individual or as opposed to a party.
LEMON: OK. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, thank you so much.
LEE: It's a pleasure to be with you.
LEMON: What do people outside the beltway think about the impeachment inquiry? I'm going to ask presidential candidate and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. There he is. Live, next.
LEMON: House Democrats moving to formalize the impeachment proceedings with a vote tomorrow. The 2020 Democratic candidates are united on impeachment, but what about the people back home?
Joining me now, 2020 presidential candidate and Montana Governor Steve Bullock. Governor, always a pleasure. Thank you so much.
GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don, fantastic to be with you tonight.
LEMON: So, before you were governor, you were Montana's attorney general. So, I'd first like to ask your legal insights on the impeachment inquiry. What are the strongest potential articles of impeachment against President Trump?
BULLOCK: Yes, first, there's so many different facets of this because this attorney general, like, I saw criminals along the way and knew when they were engaged in criminal behavior.
You look at what Rudy Giuliani has done, using the White House, basically the Oval Office, to have meetings about foreign nationals. Actually, then trying to get information along the way. Here's a guy right now that should be behind bars, from my perspective.
You look at Bill Barr. Referenced five times in the transcript. The original transcript that kicked all of this off. At the least, this guy should recuse himself. And then you look at the notion that really the president is using his power to talk to the Ukrainian president, to try to get information about another, you know, about one of his potential rivals in this next election.
Look, I'm not -- I wish we weren't at the point of talking about impeachment. I don't know what it does at the end of the day for political expediency but for this republic and representative democracy, this inquiry has to go forward.
LEMON: Yes. You mentioned president's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, his dealings with Ukraine. Tonight, he is on Twitter saying "all of the information I obtained came from interviews conducted as private defense counsel to POTUS to defend him against false allegations."
He's tying himself even closer to the president. He previously said, you know, he'd done it on -- at the behest of the government department.
BULLOCK: Yes, well, I mean, you have any number of issues here, right? I don't think you can just say, I as a private lawyer acting on behalf of the president has carte blanche authority to violate both the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
I mean, he sat in the Oval Office, from my understanding, actually pushed for individuals like one to get extradited to Turkey. And you look -- he represented folks that were caught right before they were flying out of this country that have been funneling money into our elections from Ukraine.
And then to think that trying to seek information to impact an election, even if you say you're acting on behalf of the president, you're still going to be violating the Federal Election Campaign Act.
BULLOCK: So, trying to turn around and say, well, I'm not getting paid by this lawyer, I seem to be getting paid by folks all across this world. I'm not filing as a foreign agent. I think that becomes a pretty thin read to try to try your hat on over time.
LEMON: I want to turn to the 2020 election. Two of the top Democratic candidates, Senator Warren and -- Senators Warren and Sanders -- represent the more progressive wing of the party. Do you think Democrats are moving too far left?
BULLOCK Well, I think, look, if the definition of progressive is making progress, I'd put my record up when it comes to health care, kicking dark money out of our elections, education funding against everyone in this field.
But at the end of the day we have to be able to win places like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. I'm the only one in this field that won a Trump state. If we can't win back those place we lost, we are not going to win. and I think parts of this, like saying we're going to take away the health care for 165 million people, as we transition to something new or when you have two-thirds of this country that don't even have a college degree.
Look, we have to make college more affordable. But saying everything's going to be free, I do think that becomes that much harder to win a general election. This is about not only beating Donald Trump, but giving those Obama Trump voters the belief that we can actually fight for their best interests and we can actually make the economy in Washington work for them.
LEMON: Governor, I got to go, but if you can answer this in just really a couple seconds, you've only qualified for only four debates so far. One of the four debates so far. Excuse me. So what are you going to do to stay in? Do you have enough money, do you have what it takes? What's going on?
BULLOCK: I do. You know, 90 days from now is when Iowans express their preference. They've always taken the big field, made it smaller. I think I have a great ground game there, and I think I've been able to make the connections. So, hopefully you'll continue to have me on time and time again, as I rise there. Because that's what's going to make a difference in the early states to make this big field much smaller.
LEMON: Well, we wish you luck and you're always welcome here. Thank you, Governor Bullock. I appreciate your time.
BULLOCK: Thanks so much, Don.
Twitter announcing that they're banning political ads but Facebook is doubling down and the thing is both decisions have people angry. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Jack Dorsey announcing today that Twitter will no longer accept political ads in advance of the 2020 election. Dorsey tweeting this, we've made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally. We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought.
That is in stark contrast to Facebook's hands-off policy of not fact- checking political ads. So, let's discuss. Josh Green is here, Mark McKinnon. Short time. A lot to discuss, guys. Thank you so much.
Josh, Trump 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, seems to think that there's bias in the new policy tweeting this, Twitter bans political ads, and yet another attempt by the left to silence Trump and conservatives. I wouldn't be surprised if Twitter lifted the ban after 2020. The ban applies to everyone, so where's the problem?
JOSHUA GREEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR DEVIL'S BARGAIN: There is no problem. He saw bias in the old policy. Now he sees bias in the new policy. Parscale and conservatives generally I think have been very effective at working the refs, that putting pressure on social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, get them to bend over backwards to allow conservatives to do things that if they stopped and thought about it they might not.
And I think that's why Dorsey made this decision. I think it's why it's a good decision. Political ads don't bring in a lot of money, as we've seen from Zuckerberg, they bring big headaches. And this is way of stepping out and saying, you know what, I'm not going to get my company involved in this.
LEMON: Yes. Mark, you headed up advertising for three presidential campaigns. You also went to jail in defense of free speech as a newspaper editor. Is the best way to deal with the fake claims in political ads not to run them at all?
MARK MCKINNON, CO-HOST, SHOWTIME'S "THE CIRCUS": No, it's not. I mean, here we have two alternatives. There's a third way which is to do which most broadcast stations and other responsible platforms do which is they take a look at the content. They determine whether or not it's factual. And it's not factual like when we did campaigns in the old days, they'd send it back to us and say, fix it.
So, there's got to be some responsibility and some accountability. Mark Zuckerberg saying, we have no accountability. And then on the other hand, we have Twitter saying we're not even going to play the game. And by the way, let's be honest about this, they're only losing $3 million in revenue. So this is more of a market game I think about positioning against Facebook than it is about -- but it's an interesting position that they've taken, but the real responsible position is in the middle to accept the content, but accept the content that is only factual. LEMON: Yes. It's interesting, especially now when people are having
trouble trying to figure out what's real and what's not, because there's so much fake news out there and so many bots and what have you. And fake ads.
MCKINNON: Well, the reason there's so much fake news, Don, is because nobody's willing to stand up and say this is a fact, and this isn't. That's what we've got to go do. We got to have accountability at the platforms to say, we have to be the referees. Somebody got to do it. And if there's no referees, and it's just complete Wild West. And we have Russians and others taking control of the platforms.
LEMON: Good answer. Josh, listen, just today Zuckerberg doubled down on Facebook's political ad policy. Didn't address Twitter directly but said, we need to be careful about adopting more and more rules. In a democracy, I don't think it is right for private company to censor politicians or the news. According to Zuckerberg, political advertising will account for less than .5 percent of next year's quarterly ad revenue. Does the risk/reward scenario -- excuse me, make sense for them?
GREEN: No, not at all. I mean, look at the reputational damage this has done to Facebook already. There are very few things that Republicans and Democrats in Washington can agree on, but most of them agree that Facebook and social media platforms are doing a terrible job and are a problem and you've had Republicans working the refs. You've now had Joe Biden come out, Elizabeth Warren come out and call Facebook a disinformation for profit, racket.
You know, this is going to present at some point not just reputational problems, but regulatory problems when some of these people get power and decide, well, maybe we need to regulate Facebook a little tighter if Zuckerberg, himself, won't do it.
So, it is baffling and inexplicable to me why you would put up with these kind of headaches for as Mark pointed out, such a small amount of profit. The risk/reward, just doesn't seem worth it.
LEMON: Mark, do you think they'll change? I've got 10 seconds. Do you think that Facebook will change, they be force too, because I don't see why everybody else can be regulated, even us as a broadcaster and they don't have to.
MCKINNON: I think they're going to take it to the well. I think their plan is they don't want any censorship, they don't want any accountability and that's the design of the thing, that's why Zuckerberg has doubled down on it. No accountability. That's the way they got where they are and that's the way they want to go.
LEMON: Sad. Thank you, thank you, both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
MCKINNON: Thank you.
LEMON: Acting Homeland Security Secretary, Kevin McAleenan, who is expected to leave his post tomorrow and now says that he may stay on until the president names his replacement making some more news today telling a Congressional hearing on global terrorism that the increase in racially and ethnically motivated violence especially by white supremacists is of specific concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: One of the most significant emerging threats over the past years has been domestic actors' adoption of terrorist techniques to inspire and direct individuals often via the internet to carry out acts of terrorism and targeted violence. Of specific concern has been an increase in racially and ethnically motivated violence, particularly the threat posed by violent white supremacists extremists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: With Homeland Security branding violence by white supremacists a specific concern, CNN's Elle Reeve share one woman's journey inside the white supremacist movement.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The face of America's white power movement is screaming young white men.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One people, one nation!
REEVE: But there are a very small number of women who join. Samantha was one of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This I wore to the last Alt-Right Party that I ever went to.
REEVE: The 29-year-old tells new friends she spent a year in a cult. A cult of racism. After she left, she feared being exposed for what she'd done. Now she wants to come forward on her own terms and warn others about the power of online radicalization. She welcomes us into her home. We agreed not to show its surroundings or share her last name due to safety concerns.
How important do you think that sense of alienation is in attracting people?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 100 percent. I think alienation is, like, the number-one reason that people joined. I was seeing this guy and I was going through a lot of turbulent, like, emotional and just personal mental things where my sense of self was pretty damaged. It was just this immersion into the culture of it with someone that I so badly wanted the affection of and the approval of, just, it didn't take much. It's not as if this person was like strapping me down. Like, I was hungry to learn. I was hungry to figure this out.
REEVE: On January 1st, 2017, you became a member of Identity Europa. Can you explain what that is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a white civil rights group or a white advocacy group, I believe, was the term. Identity Europa was trying to project this image of being -- I mean, you know, clean-cut, law- abiding, non-racial slur using, polite, kind, handing out water bottles to old ladies on the street. Just like a nice group of people.
REEVE: They didn't want to look like the skinheads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, absolutely not. The language that was used was always pro-white. It was never anti anything else and so it made it really easy to ignore the parts that you don't want to see.
REEVE: Like violence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, violence or just blatant racism.
REEVE: Today, known as the American Identity Movement, Identity Europa was created in 2016 as a kind of fraternity to promote white power over the more clean-cut face.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: it's all very old, very antiquated ideology just packaged in khakis and loafers.
REEVE: The alt-right is far more hostile to women than previous iterations of the white supremacist movement. It emerged from an internet culture that cross-pollinated with men's rights in inside forums. And online subculture of men who are involuntary celibate and blame women for it. Samantha says, there are only a handful of women in I.E. when she joined. She kept her day job as a manager at a cocktail bar. Even as she interviewed up to 20 people a week to be new members of I.E.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't the only interviewer.
REEVE: Part of her job was to screen out Jews. She was named women's coordinator and she says she helped membership grow to about 50 women in a group of roughly a thousand people. Why did you do it so much?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it felt good to help. It felt good to be productive and to feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself.
REEVE: Samantha's rise in the alt-right paralleled to the rise of the alt-right in America.
CROWD: You will not replace us. (CHANTING)
REEVE: In the spring of 2017 members of the movement were feeling emboldened.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will faithfully execute --
REEVE: Donald Trump had been sworn into office. Steve Bannon was a White House aide.
CROWD: You will not replace us. (CHANTING)
REEVE: And protests like this one referred to as Charlottesville 1.0. Which Samantha helped coordinate, we're popping up across the country. Then she started a new relationship with a rising leader within Identity Europa and was welcomed into the movement's inner circle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We took a weekend and went to a bunch of parties in New York.
REEVE: What kind of parties?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nazi parties.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the type of awful tool.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to a book burning that was pretty scandalous. It's all so surreal. Like you're literally standing there going, I'm at a book burning at someone's house. Like there are families that live next door. There's probably a nice person who lives across the street, and I'm burning books about Jewish people. Like it was just so -- I don't know. It just feels -- like it doesn't even feel like it's wrong or right. It just feels unreal.
REEVE: Did you guys present yourselves as like a white power couple?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, kind of. I think that's how people looked at us, that we would be like the next generation of, you know, a power couple within the white movement.
REEVE: So in public you were a couple, but behind the scenes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The misery was growing exponentially like every day. I had tried to break up with him several times. I had told him I couldn't do it anymore. I tried to do all these things, but I was so afraid.
REEVE: A meme among the internet Nazis was white sharia. It's a racist interpretation of Islam that portrays women as subhuman.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a woman, you are secretary, mother, babysitter, but never an equal.
REEVE: Private messages to Samantha show that while the women might have played along in public, in private they found it disturbing. But at the same time, Samantha says they felt trapped, afraid that they'd be doxed. That means your identity and personal information is released online. Samantha says she and her boyfriend broke up privately, but he wouldn't move out. There were shouting matches, financial struggles. She realized the only way to leave the relationship was to also leave the movement. The reaction was more degradation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was told a lot that I would be really good, that I could probably hold a lot of Nazi semen and birth a lot of Nazi babies whether I liked it or not, that they would break my legs, that I couldn't run away, and that I would just be killed afterwards.
REEVE: The threats scared her, but they were clarifying. In October 2017, she quit I.E. she eventually stopped making excuses and realized she'd actively promoted racism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All the weird propaganda that I was buying into, all of the ideology and the rhetoric, it just immediately hit me that it was all bull (BEEP). It just all hit me how much of an idiot I was.
REEVE: The American Identity Movement tells CNN it is unaware of anyone being coerced to stay in the organization. Today, Samantha has joined a different kind of organization, one that helps people leave hate groups. She hopes coming forward with her story can make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For a lot of people, I don't think it's about the politics. I don't think anyone wakes up and says, like, I really want to make a poster about being racist. And I just think that the alt-right really knew how to play on this like weird new form of nihilism that people are feeling.
LEMON: Now I want to bring in our new CNN Correspondent Elle Reeve.
Elle, thank you so much. Let's talk about Samantha's story. It's pretty incredible. Was there ever a moment that she felt like what they were doing was wrong?
REEVE: Well, Samantha told me she spent a lot of time making excuses for them. She'd tell herself, oh, that racist stuff, it's just jokes. They don't really mean it. But over time it started to get darker and darker and there was a moment when a woman posed this hypothetical to her. She said, imagine a house is on fire, 10 people are inside. Five are white. Five are black. She says to her, wouldn't you save the white people first? And Samantha thought, well, no. I'd save whoever I could save. And that was the beginning.
LEMON: Interesting. You've spoken to other women who have been around this group. What did they say? What did they tell you?
REEVE: They wanted to protect their identities, because they fear violent retribution from these men. They all told me about harassment, abuse, that they had to comfort other women who were harassed. One eventually quit the organization, because she said she could not, in good conscience, bring in women to this movement that hated them so much.
LEMON: Wow. How strong are these groups today?
REEVE: They've fallen apart organizationally for the most part since Charlottesville. There's a massive federal lawsuit that's really put them back on their heels. But the groups that Samantha was in, Identity Europa, has rebranded as the American Identity Movement. They want to seem a little bit less violent than the alt-right, and they're still trying to get some support.
LEMON: Fascinating reporting. Thank you so much. Elle Reeve, I appreciate it.
REEVE: Thank you.
LEMON: And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.