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Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) is Interviewed on the Impeachment Vote; New Fire in California Overnight; FaceBook soft on Bullying. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 1, 2019 - 09:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Right now House Democrats are pressing forward, planning for the next phase, the public phase of their impeachment inquiry into the president. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not given an exact timeline about when those hearings will go public. But last night she did tell Stephen Colbert she expects them to happen soon.

I'm pleased now to be joined by Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She serves on the Oversight Committee, of course one of the committees that has been investigating the president and hearing witnesses these last couple of weeks.

Congresswoman, we appreciate you taking the time this morning.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): My pleasure, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: So you're well aware of the vote yesterday. Republicans voted in lock step against these rules here. Two Democrats voted with Republicans against them. I'm wondering, are you concerned that Republicans were able to stick together here but Democrats were not?

SCHULTZ: What I'm concerned about is that Republicans seem to be shrugging their shoulders at the president's gross violation of his oath of office and his massive abuse of power. I mean every American should be asking their own member of Congress, you know, whether they think it's OK that the president broke the law, used his position of power to pressure the president of Ukraine to withhold -- by withholding foreign aid and trying to insist that he initiate investigations against the president's political opponents. That that is unacceptable and not OK, and the Republicans have sanctioned it.

SCIUTTO: I get that argument, but the fact is, for this impeachment inquiry to proceed to the possibility of removal in the Senate, you, Democrats, have to convince some Republicans, several Republicans, that that's true. And I thought there was a telling sign in this new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll just out today that shows independents crucially split down the middle, and, actually, if we can put the numbers up on the screen, leaning against impeaching and removing the president. Those are the independent numbers down there, 49 say no there.

Is that a sign that you're not convincing folks outside the Democratic Party in sufficient numbers to support impeachment and removal?

SCHULTZ: We're going through a process, Jim. And we will, as we've approved -- as we approve the rules for the road of the impeachment inquiry yesterday, we'll move into the public phase of the inquiry. I think, as the transcripts are released, and the American people hear the evidence that I've been able to hear over the last number of weeks, and a spotlight is shown on the witnesses that come before us and corroborate each of their own testimony that the president abused his power and pressured the president of a country that vitally needs our assistance to keep our foreign enemy, Russia, at bay and withheld foreign aid and demanded investigations, pressured him to initiate investigations against his opponent in the public light that will, I think those numbers will change.

And the polling right now shows that more than 50 percent of the American people do believe that the president should be impeached and removed. And so we're going to -- that will play out. But no one comes to Congress to impeach a president. You know, I'm focused on lowering prescription drug costs, ending gun violence, but we have to hold the president accountable because no one is above the law.


SCIUTTO: You were in the room when Tim Morrison, the president's top adviser on Russia and Europe, testified under oath.


SCIUTTO: Of course we were not in the room. We do have the benefit of having seen parts of his opening statement where he does say that what he heard on that call, he was worried about the political implications of it, it coming out, how that might affect the relationship. But he said not illegal in his view.

Can you tell us anything about how, you know, how he detailed that position and do you -- do you believe that his further testimony backed up that statement?

SCHULTZ: You know, I can only generally talk about the deposition that we heard that -- yesterday from Mr. Morrison. And that is to say that he most definitely corroborated, particularly Ambassador Taylor's testimony, and really virtually every witness that I have heard's testimony that the president did indeed use the authority of his office to pressure the president of Ukraine to initiate investigations against his opponent. And the leverage that he used was withholding foreign aid and a vital meeting that President Zelensky needed to be able to advance his efforts --

SCIUTTO: His agenda.

SCHULTZ: To keep Russia at bay and reduce corruption and his agenda, exactly. SCIUTTO: So you're -- you're saying his -- you're saying his private

testimony corroborated the quid pro quo, that there was a quid pro quo here?

SCHULTZ: What I'm saying is that throughout the testimony, each witness has subsequently confirmed the direct line that the president's own words in the transcript of the call confirmed that he used the power of his office to try to get the -- as in his own words --


SCHULTZ: Zelensky to do us a favor, though, and initiate these investigations.


SCHULTZ: And he withheld foreign aid. And dangled the meeting that President Zelensky vitally needed to be able to make sure that we can keep our enemy at bay.

SCIUTTO: OK, made that connection there.

SCHULTZ: Exactly. Yes.

SCIUTTO: OK, I want to ask you about another -- you're well aware of the fiery exchange you had in a hearing earlier this week with Ken Cuccinelli.

SCHULTZ: Yes, I certainly am.

SCIUTTO: I want to play that exchange just for folks at home who may not have seen it and then also get your reaction to Ken Cuccinelli's response to it now.


SCIUTTO: Have a listen and then we'll -- then we'll come back.



SCHULTZ: You and Mr. Trump don't want anyone who looks or talks differently than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country.


SCHULTZ: I'm sorry. Please don't interrupt me and I'd like the time added back.

CUCCINELLI: That's defamatory.

SCHULTZ: Excuse me. It's -- there's nothing defamatory about it. And the time -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentle lady controls the time and the witness will get a chance to respond.

SCHULTZ: Thank you very much.

You want to block all immigration and make life harder for immigrants and you have demonstrated that you will pursue this heinous white supremacist ideology at all costs, even if it means making critically ill children your collateral damage in the process.

CUCCINELLI: I am not a white supremacist, as you alluded.

SCHULTZ: You have -- you have had white supremacist policies.

CUCCINELLI: Nor is the president.

I'm under oath and she is literally protected to lie by what's called the speech and debate clause of the Constitution. I'm not even sure she's aware of it, but it allows legislators, for good policy reasons, to be able to say anything. It's to leave them uninhibited.

I don't think the founders ever intended it to be a shield for lying and trying to plant narratives out in the public. And that was what she was doing. You know, she makes her speech. She wasn't at much of the committee hearing. She came in late on her smears, both me and the president, all completely false and then wasn't there much longer, got on her broom and left. It was just -- it was a fly-by for her, and to get her little sound bite.


SCIUTTO: Do you stand by your accusation of Cuccinelli, that the policy, the immigration policy led by him and the president is white supremacist in nature?

SCHULTZ: What I stand by is that Ken Cuccinelli is the tip of the spear of the president's immigration policy that has persecuted and gone after people of color since day one of his presidency and that, yes, I used my ability on -- as a member of the Oversight Committee to call that out and to insist, rightfully so, that Ken Cuccinelli has advanced a white supremacist ideology that I think is a thread through the president's immigration policy. He started his presidency by initiating a Muslim ban that was repeatedly thrown out by the courts. The subject of the hearing itself was the separation, the persecution of sick children who have been allowed into the country that he sent a letter to and they had to -- they were demanded to leave initially in 33 days until our Oversight Committee stopped that from happening by shining a spotlight on it.


You know, he's -- that he advanced the policy of separating children from their parents at the border who were fleeing persecution. We've now required, through this -- through this policy political applicants for asylum to stay in another country, living in tent cities and in horrible conditions. Yes, Ken Cuccinelli is the tip of the spear of a white supremacist ideology that is the thread of the president's immigration policy targeting people of color. And I'm a member of Congress on the Oversight Committee and I had an opportunity to call it out, and I did, and I don't regret it.

SCIUTTO: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz --

SCHULTZ: What I don't appreciate is his patronizing comments about me, but that's not surprising either.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Thanks for explaining your position.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, hope you have a good weekend.

SCHULTZ: Thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Several hundred firefighters in southern California now trying to battle a new wildfire that is out of control and still growing fast.



SCIUTTO: California is on fire. Another wildfire breaking out overnight in southern California, spreading rapidly, nearly trapping fire crews on the ground.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second one in here. That fire is a little bit closer. So he's just going to make a run for it and get down here as quick as possible to get away from that fire and continue down here to the east.

Now, he's right up on top of the hill. You see a big flare up right there.


SCIUTTO: Firefighters, they're putting their lives in danger to fight this.

Our correspondent, Omar Jimenez, is in Santa Paula, near that Maria Fire, as it's called. It's already scorched some 8,000 acres.

What are you seeing on the ground and are these firefighters able to establish some control over these blazes?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, they've been doing their best over the course of really this week as all these fires have been popping up across southern California. Now when you talk about the Maria Fire, this one broke out Halloween night. People were literally out trick-or-treating in this part of Santa Paula when they had to cut that short because they saw what was on the horizon. We are right on the edge of the Maria fire. You can see it burning

just behind me here. You mentioned, this has already burned some 8,000 acres, 7,500 residents under -- as part of this mandatory evacuation order. And, look, this has been a familiar story across this week. You and I have spoken pretty much every single morning. And when you look at what our crew has done just alone, we started in Los Angeles at the Getty Fire.

Then went over here to Ventura County for the Easy Fire. That was the one that was threatening the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Then just yesterday we were in San Bernardino for the Hillside Fire. And now here we are, a new day, a new fire and this is part of one of the more than 11 active wildfires currently burning across the state.

And half of those starting just this week alone and the common denominator in all of them are those high winds that we've been talking about over the course of this week.

The good news is that crews are looking to the reprieve and wind speeds that we're going to see today as opposed to the peaks we've seen in certainly the past 24 hours to try to make some progress in these blazes.


SCIUTTO: Yes, of course, this is a bigger picture question here as to what's calling the increase and the frequency it is causing to increase the frequency of these fires.

Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.

Social media giant FaceBook says they do not tolerate online bullying and harassment, but a CNN investigation found the opposite. A full report ahead.



SCIUTTO: FaceBook, of course, has faced an enormous amount of criticism in recent weeks and months. Right now battling critics over its policy on political ads. That is not fact checking them and allowing political ads to lie, in effect.

Now, another policy is under fire. A six-month CNN investigation raises concern that the social media platform is also too soft when it comes to online bullying and harassment.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has been working on this. She joins me now.

Elizabeth, this is a sensitive issue, particularly as a parent. I mean you see this kind of stuff go on. It's enormously painful. What has FaceBook not been doing here?


FaceBook says that they don't tolerate bullying. They say this very strongly. But what we found is that actually bullying is alive and well and that FaceBook often does nothing about it or very little about it. To give you an example, and this is very disturbing, I want to introduce you to a woman named Ayesha Odem (ph). She's a mother of three in Austin, Texas. Her brother has immune problems and so she goes on FaceBook encouraging others to get vaccinated to protect people like her brother. And this is what she got when she opened her FaceBook Messenger, the private, direct messenger service on FaceBook. She got this horrible message calling her the n-word, telling her to kill herself, kill her children, and kill her parents and then giving her graphic instructions -- that's what we covered up in black at the bottom -- on how to slit her wrists.

She reported this. FaceBook found this was not the first time that this sender had done something terrible like this. She was a repeat offender. And even so, here's what they did, Jim. They kicked her -- they told her she couldn't send these messages for 30 days. She could receive them. She could make comments. She could make posts. She just couldn't return -- she just couldn't send out these FaceBook messages. That's it. And some people say, wow, that is just too soft.

They did kick her off once we brought it to their attention and said, are you sure this is all you're going to do? We asked FaceBook for their response to all of this, and here's what they sent us.


They said, we want members of our community to feel safe and respected on FaceBook and will remove material that appears to purposefully target private individuals with the intention of degrading or shaming them. We try to empower our users with controls, such as blocking other users and moderating comments so they can limit their exposure to unwanted, offensive, or hurtful content. We also encourage people to report bullying behavior on our platform so we can review the content and take proper action.

That's according to a FaceBook spokesperson.


SCIUTTO: Sounds a bit like they're putting the onus on users as opposed to the platform.


SCIUTTO: Elizabeth Cohen, great investigation. Thanks very much.

COHEN: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: House Democrats work to bring their impeachment inquiry into the public spotlight so you and I can see these witnesses testify. President Trump working behind the scenes to shore up Republican support. In the Senate, it's the Senate who's going to decide if he stays in office. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)