Return to Transcripts main page


One Woman's Journey Inside White Supremacist Movement; Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) Discusses Top White House National Security Official's Testimony Set For Today; Washington Nationals Win First World Series Title. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 31, 2019 - 07:30   ET




ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Can you explain what that is?

SAMANTHA, WOMAN WHO LEFT THE ALT-RIGHT: It was a white civil rights group or a white advocacy group, I believe, was the term.

Identity Evropa 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 (on camera): They didn't want to look like the skinheads?

SAMANTHA: 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 (on camera): Like violence.

SAMANTHA: Yes, violence or just blatant racism.

REEVE (voice-over): Today, known as the American Identity Movement, Identity Evropa was created in 2016 as a kind of fraternity to promote white power with a more clean-cut face.

SAMANTHA: It's all very old, very antiquated ideology, just packaged in khakis and loafers.

REEVE (voice-over): 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 and incel forums, an online subculture of men who are involuntary celibate and blame women for it.

Samantha says there were 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.

SAMANTHA: I wasn't the only interviewers.

REEVE (voice-over): 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 1,000 people.

REEVE (on camera): And why did you do it so much?

SAMANTHA: 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 (voice-over): Samantha's rise in the alt-right paralleled to the rise of the alt-right in America.

CHARLOTTESVILLE 1.0 PROTESTERS: You will not replace us! You will not replace us!

REEVE (voice-over): In the spring of 2017, members of the movement were feeling emboldened.


REEVE (voice-over): Donald Trump had been sworn into office, Steve Bannon was a White House aide --

CHARLOTTESVILLE 1.0 PROTESTERS: You will not replace us! You will not replace us!

REEVE (voice-over): -- and protests like this one, referred to as Charlottesville 1.0 --

CHARLOTTESVILLE 1.0 PROTESTERS: Russia is our friend!

REEVE (voice-over): -- which Samantha helped coordinate, were popping up across the country.

Then she started a new relationship with a rising leader within Identity Evropa and was welcomed into the movement's inner circle.

SAMANTHA: We took a weekend and went to a bunch of parties in New York.

REEVE (on camera): What kind of parties?

SAMANTHA: Nazi parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is the type of awful tool --

SAMANTHA: I went through 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 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.

REEVE (on camera): Did you guys present yourselves as, like, oh, white power, power couple?

SAMANTHA: Yes, kind of. I think that's how people looked at us -- that we would be like the next generation of a power couple within the white movement.

REEVE (on camera): So, in public, you were a couple, but behind the scenes?

SAMANTHA: 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 (voice-over): A meme among the Internet Nazis was White Sharia. It's a racist interpretation of Islam that portrays women as subhuman.

SAMANTHA: And as a woman, you are secretary, mother, babysitter, but never an equal.

REEVE (voice-over): 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 and financial struggles. She realized the only way to leave the relationship was to also leave the movement. The reaction was more degradation.

SAMANTHA: 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 so that I couldn't run away. And then, I would just be killed afterwards.

REEVE (voice-over): The threat 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.

SAMANTHA: All of that -- 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****. It just all hit me how much of an idiot I was.

REEVE (voice-over): 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.

SAMANTHA: 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.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh my gosh, Elle. What an eye-opening piece you have there.

And she's remarkable because she has self-awareness, you know, and can -- and can speak about how she wanted a purpose and that it devolved into this, you know, much darker, more sinister experience.

You spoke to other women as well. What did they tell you?

REEVE: That's right. I spoke to two other women who didn't want to share their identities because they fear violent retribution.

But, like Samantha, they described being brought in by the propaganda of like strong families, strong men, and then facing a reality of cruelty, harassment, abuse. I saw text messages that were just awful.

And eventually, they all left. And it's worth noting that they left not because of the racism but because of how they were treated.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I have to say, very courageous for Samantha to come forward the way she did and talk to you. Terrific reporting by you. We're so lucky to have you here to shine a light on this, which is clearly going on around the country.

CAMEROTA: Yes, and not going away.

Elle Reeve, thank you very much.

BERMAN: All right.

Very shortly, on Capitol Hill, we are expecting to see the arrival of Tim Morrison. He is a key witness in the impeachment probe, head of the Russia portfolio inside the National Security Council. We understand he will corroborate key parts of previous testimony here.

A live report, next.



BERMAN: All right, breaking news. These are pictures from just moments ago. This is Tim Morrison arriving on Capitol Hill. Until today, for the last several months he has been the president's

top adviser in the National Security Council on Russia matters. He will testify behind closed doors in the impeachment investigation. And CNN has learned he is expected to corroborate much of the witness testimony until this time, describing a quid pro quo in terms of Ukraine.

Joining me now to discuss is Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. He is a member of the Intelligence Committee who will question Morrison this morning.

And, Congressman, I know we only have a brief time with you because you've got get inside that room where Morrison is headed right now, so I'll get right to it.

What do you want to hear from him? What can he provide to you and your committee?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Well, I mean, I'm not trying to be flip but what we want is truthful testimony.

And I give him credit for coming -- responding to a subpoena at obviously some professional risk. And that makes him the latest in a series of White House, Department of Defense, and State Department professionals who have taken seriously their responsibilities and the duties that are larger than any one man or any one political party.

And so, I want truthful testimony. I just want him to answer the questions and I'll be OK with the facts.

BERMAN: OK, truth about what, though? What do you see his role in, in this drama that is playing out before our eyes?

MALONEY: Well, he's a critical player. He was in many of the critical meetings. He was there when Ambassador Sondland was saying whatever he was saying. He was there when Ambassador Bolton was doing some of the things he was doing or objecting to.

He has a firsthand account of the key events in question. We want to know what he knows.

BERMAN: And I should just let our viewers know we're looking at live pictures now of Tim Morrison making his way toward the hearing room where you then be on time in just a few minutes when you're done with us here.

One of the things that CNN has reported is he will corroborate what Bill Taylor has said. But it's also possible he will say he didn't see anything wrong with all of it.

What does that matter?

MALONEY: Well, look, we're not here to just hear things we agree with. I think we're going to -- we're going to let the witness give his testimony. He was a senior official at the National Security Council. He was in

many of the key meetings. He has a firsthand account. If he has a takeaway or an opinion about that, well, that's going to go on the record, too.

And that belies the arguments of the Republicans that this is some sort of one-sided process. They'll be able to have their counsel ask questions and elicit any testimony that they think is important or favorable to the president.

But if he does confirm some of the other witness testimony around the key events -- you know, without getting into the specifics of that testimony, I think it's going to be the latest in a series of corroborating pieces of evidence that reassert every word of the whistleblower complaint that makes clear that the call memorandum is as bad as it seems to be.

And the other pieces of evidence, like the text messages and the whole totality of evidence around the activities of Mr. Giuliani and his shady clients, the effort to go after Ambassador Yovanovitch -- the effort to drag her through the mud and get her out of the way so they could engage in this scheme to advance the president's political interest at the expense of our national security and well, everything that's right.

And so, I think the problem for the president continues to be the facts and the evidence and that's where we're going to stay focused.

BERMAN: You just listed, actually, a number of different areas, all part of the broad -- same subject -- same broad subject but different specifics here, which gets me to my next question, which is "The Washington Post" reporting about the handling of the notes of the phone call between the two presidents.


"The Washington Post" reports that Col. Vindman, who you heard testify yesterday or two days ago, "...told Eisenberg, the White House's legal adviser on national security issues, that what the president did was wrong." So, Vindman told the National Security Council that what the president did was wrong.

"Scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad, Eisenberg proposed a step that other officials have said is at odds with longstanding White House protocol: moving a transcript of the call to a highly-classified server and restricting access to it."

Now, out of respect, you've been very careful because I've watched your interviews before. You're not going to confirm or deny what was said behind closed doors in this testimony. But I want to know, broadly speaking again, how important is the handling of these notes to you?

MALONEY: Well, let me just say I can comment on that. I was White House staff secretary. I spent three years in the West Wing. I had a code word -- top-secret national security clearance. It's highly unusual what was done here and certainly, one explanation would be that this is a consciousness of guilt. That there is an awareness that this is a problem. Obviously, it has become an enormous problem.

And so to try to cover it up -- to deep-six it in some code word national security database -- which would never include something as banal as a call memorandum even it if was, itself, confidential -- is certainly a red flag for me.

By the way, there's reporting out there that there were other call transcripts put in that database. I'd like to know what the reason for that was since it seems to be where you -- where you tried to hide the president's misconduct.

BERMAN: So later today, in addition to this hearing, there will be a vote on the House floor on the impeachment process.

We understand that almost every Democrat will vote for it, save maybe two to four -- and that number seems to be a little bit influx but not enough to sink it in any way -- but we haven't heard a single Republican come forward yet and say that he or she will vote in favor of this impeachment process the way it's constructed right now.

What does that tell you that not a single Republican is likely to vote for this?

MALONEY: Well, it tells me they don't believe their own argument, which was that there should be a vote just like this. That it should include an accounting of everybody in public -- you know, up or down -- how they feel. That it should build in due process rights for the president, as these rules do. That it should be a public proceeding.

In other words, they're not taking yes for an answer is what it tells me. And what it tells me is that their opposition is not based on any of those process arguments they made but rather a tribal defense of the president, which is being eroded by a series of professional career military officers and foreign service officers, and a body of evidence and admissions from the president and his chief of staff every day.

And so, I think the problem for the Republicans continues to be the facts and the evidence.

And by the way, this is just a -- this is just a vote to proceed with an open process and an inquiry. So to vote against it means that you don't want to have any inquiry into this -- that we should do nothing -- and I don't think that's justifiable or defensible at this point.

BERMAN: All right, Sean Patrick Maloney, congressman from New York. We'll let you get into that hearing room, as we saw Tim Morrison head there moments ago. Thanks for being with us this morning.

MALONEY: My pleasure.


Breaking overnight, the Pentagon says North Korea again launched missiles. What we know at this hour, next.



BERMAN: Breaking news.

The Pentagon says it has detected what appears to be a new missile launch from North Korea. Japan's Defense Ministry reporting that North Korea likely tested two ballistic missiles -- two ballistic missiles overnight. The latest launch happening weeks after North Korea said it successfully tested a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Pyongyang and Washington had just agreed to resume nuclear talks the day before. North Korea later broke them off.

CAMEROTA: At least 70 people have died following a gas explosion and fire onboard this train in northern Pakistan. Gosh, look at this aftermath. Authorities say a natural gas cylinder exploded and flames swept through the train cars. Thirty other people were injured in this blast.

Passengers were reportedly using gas-powered cookers to prepare breakfast when the explosion occurred. Railway officials say most of the deaths were caused from people jumping off the train to escape those flames.

OK, time now for "CNN Business." The Trump administration is celebrating an economy that is falling short of what the president promised.

CNN's chief business correspondent and "EARLY START" anchor Christine Romans is here to explain.


You know, the president calls this the greatest economy in American history, but the Federal Reserve has had to step in now with three rate cuts to cushion this economy from slowing global growth and a trade war. It's certainly a contradiction.

Here's the Fed chief.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: We took this step to keep the U.S. economy strong in the face of global developments and to provide some insurance against ongoing risks. We believe that monetary policy is in a good place.


ROMANS: So how strong is the U.S. economy? It grew just 1.9 percent this summer. That's below the White House official targets.

The president promised his tax cuts and regulation rollbacks would be rocket fuel for this economy, but business investment has now cratered from the very people who received a tax cut bigger than they asked for -- a tax cut that has swelled the deficit.

And, 1.9 percent growth is more like the slow burn expansion in stretches of the Obama administration.

Just over seven years ago when the economy grew at the exact same rate under President Obama, Trump tweeted this. "The economy is in deep trouble."


But the Commerce Department issued a rare statement Wednesday downplaying mild GDP growth.

"The U.S. economy continues its steady growth in defiance of media skeptics calling for a recession. Since President Trump took office, wages have surged, unemployment has hit record lows, and poverty has fallen for all Americans, including the country's most vulnerable."

Reminding Americans it's the economy, stupid -- because central to the Trump reelection argument is the economy is strong, stocks are near record highs, and the trade war won't hurt at home. The fact is by some measures, the Trump economy looks a lot like the Obama economy.

Take jobs growth -- 5.9 million new jobs have been added in the first 31 months of the Trump presidency, just shy of the 6.3 million new jobs in the final 31 months of the Obama years.

A brand-new jobs report comes Friday, guys. The economy not as strong as the president boasts, but strong enough to still be an advantage, many economists say, for him into the election, John.

BERMAN: And, Romans, you called it yesterday in real time as you saw those numbers, comparing it to the Obama economy. And you can tell already from the reaction from the White House that's a comparison they do not like.

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: All right, Romans. Thank you very much.

So, it took seven games but the Washington Nationals emerged World Series champions. The most disappointed man in America this morning --

CAMEROTA: As opposed to Wolf Blitzer --

BERMAN: -- as opposed to Wolf Blitzer --

CAMEROTA: -- who was the most excited man in America.

BERMAN: The polar opposite -- the other side of the coin --


BERMAN: -- Andy Scholes --

CAMEROTA: Sad face.

BERMAN: -- here with the "Bleacher Report" -- Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, guys. Yes, the sun has not come up here in Houston this morning and I can -- I don't know if it will. It's a sad morning here in Houston. Happy times, though, in Washington, D.C.

We were in the champagne party in the clubhouse for the Nationals after the game. You can see our camera took some champagne right to the lens and still hasn't cleared up.

This Nationals team, guys, though, so impressive. No matter how many times they had their backs against the wall this year they found a way to fight back. Stay in the fight -- that was their postseason slogan. Well, they finished the fight in game seven of this World Series.

They were down 2-1 going into that seventh inning and that's when Howie Kendrick just came up big for the team with the clutch 2-run home run to right field to give the Nationals the lead.

Twenty-one-year-old Dominican Juan Soto would then add to that lead in the eighth inning. He comes through with an RBI single. Soto, one of 10 Latino players on the Nationals, he was awesome this entire series.

And Washington, they would pour it on late in this game to take game seven 6-2. After all the postseason failures, the Nationals, World Series champions for the first time in their history.

Stephen Strasburg was named World Series MVP. And in that clubhouse celebration I saw a pretty awesome moment between him and fellow ace Max Scherzer, with Scherzer saying over and over again to Strasburg, we did it.


STEPHEN STRASBURG, 2019 WORLD SERIES MVP: There was some heartbreak in the past but nothing but love here and we're just enjoying the ride.

SCHOLES: What do got to say to the fans waiting in D.C. for you?

STRASBURG: Oh, man -- I hope to see them -- I hope to see them loud and excited just like we are.

RYAN ZIMMERMAN, FIRST BASEMAN, WASHINGTON NATIONALS: I'm so happy for the organization and for the city. I hope they're ready for a party because we're coming home. TREA TURNER, SHORTSTOP, WASHINGTON NATIONALS: We couldn't be happier. I think the fans have been behind us all year. We showed them how we were going to continue to fight for them and give it our all, and I'm just happy we got it done for them.

JUAN SOTO, OUTFIELDER, WASHINGTON NATIONALS: It's amazing, amazing. It's amazing.


SCHOLES: Yes, and Soto turning 21 just last week so he got to celebrate for real this time.

And check out the scene outside Nationals Park. All the fans there just going bonkers after that final out.

And then, there was this guy inside -- rips off his shirt and goes sliding across the dugout. Clearly, he'd been waiting a long time to do that.

But the Nationals, they're going to return to the nation's capital later on this evening, guys. They're going to have a big parade through downtown on Saturday.

And I don't know if we're going to see another World Series ever like this, the road team winning all seven games and the Nationals, the first team ever to win four road games to win a World Series.

BERMAN: Andy, was there ever a moment last night when you let yourself think that the Astros were going to win? They were up 2-0 heading late into the game.

SCHOLES: Yes, the first six innings. The first six innings, John. I was pretty excited. I thought we were going to win.

Zack Greinke was rolling. A.J. Hinch criticized heavily for pulling Zach Greinke when he did.

I'll say this, it was probably the saddest sports night of my entire life.

BERMAN: Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, that's tragic.

BERMAN: I'm so sorry.

CAMEROTA: But, Andy, let me tell you something. You didn't look that sad in the locker room when you were getting doused with that champagne bath there.

SCHOLES: Well, I'm a professional, Alisyn.


BERMAN: As you point out, Juan Soto -- he turned 21 last week. There's about 18 gallons of champagne that were being poured him. Only legal to have that happen in the last few days.

SCHOLES: Yes, that's right. He turned 21 on October 25th -- perfect timing for this, right?