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President Trump Announces Possible Release Of Second Transcript Of Different Call With Ukrainian President; House Democrats To Hold Public Hearings In Impeachment Inquiry; House Republicans Submit List Of Requested Witnesses For Impeachment Inquiry Hearings; Jeff Sessions To Run For Senate In Alabama; Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren Criticizes Joe Biden's Characterization Of Her As Angry; Wrestling Referee Claims He Complained To Ohio State University's Wrestling Coaches Including Rep. Jim Jordan About Sexual Misconduct By Team Doctor; College Board Selling SAT Test Taker Information To Schools; American Man Seeks Kidnapped Children In Syria. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 9, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- Monday being a holiday, we'll probably give it to you on Tuesday. But we have another transcript coming out which is very important. They ask for it, and I gladly give it. There's never been a president who has been so transparent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That call that Trump was referencing happened three months before the conversation at the heart of the impeachment probe. And next week, House investigators will hold public hearings for the first time. And it comes as House Republicans today submitted a list of potential witnesses they would like to see testify in this probe, witnesses that are sure to ruffle some of the feathers of many Democrats.
CNN's Jeremy Diamond joining me right now live. So Jeremy, what do we know about this second transcript, how this information was put together, what the president is promising come Tuesday?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. Well, Fredricka, it's interesting, because the president had previously floated releasing more information about his other calls with the Ukrainian leaders, and this is the second call that we know of that he had with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. It took place, in chronological order, it was the first call that actually happened.
It was right after Zelensky had a landslide election victory in Ukraine. So far there's very little that's actually known about this call. There has not been the kind of hubbub around that first call that President Trump had with Zelensky, it did not prompt the same kind of concerns amongst national security officials as this second call in July actually did. But certainly, interesting to see the president now promising to release the rough transcript of that call. I'll also be looking to see what the Ukrainian reaction is to that,
Fredricka. Despite the fact that the president said that he consulted the Ukrainians before releasing the rough transcript of the July call, we do know that the Ukrainians were in fact fairly caught off guard by the release of that transcript, and unnerved by it, because in it you hear Zelensky saying some not too positive things about other European leaders.
WHITFIELD: And then, Jeremy, what about this list? Republicans have submitted a list of potential witnesses they want to hear from in this impeachment probe, and one of them on the list is Hunter Biden. Tell me more about this.
DIAMOND: That's right. Well, look, Republicans are clearly trying to deflect the focus of this impeachment inquiry and try and bring back the things that President Trump was in fact asking the Ukrainian president to investigate by bringing in Hunter Biden who sat on the board of Burisma, the company that President Trump wanted the Ukrainians to investigate. Republican lawmakers also asking for the whistleblower to come forward and testify publicly.
These are all requests that are never going to come to fruition because the House Intelligence Committee Democrats have to actually approve these requests in order for them to go forward. And so we're seeing a statement now from the chairman of that committee, Adam Schiff.
He says that the committee is evaluating the minority's witness request and will give due consideration to witnesses within the scope of the impeachment inquiry. He also says that "As they move into this open hearing phase, the committee and mindful that we are engaged in a sober endeavor rooted in the Constitution."
And now this third paragraph is really the key one where he says "The inquiry is not, and will not serve, however, as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations into the Bidens or 2016 that the president pressed Ukraine to conduct for his personal, political benefit, or to facilitate the president's efforts to threaten, intimidate, and retaliate against the whistleblower who courageously raised the initial alarm."
So there you have it, making pretty clear there, Hunter Biden will likely not be coming forward to testify, and neither will this whistleblower who Democrats have been adamant about protecting this intelligence official's identity. However, the invitation for Volker and Morrison to come forward and testify, those are potentially areas where there could be a little bit more wiggle room, but those, of course, are the witnesses who Republicans feel bolster the president's narrative a little bit more than some of the others. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.
With me now, Ross Garber who teaches impeachment law at Tulane Law School and is a CNN legal analyst. Good to see you.
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you. WHITFIELD: Let's talk about this second transcript now that the
president is promising as early as Tuesday. Why would he want to do this, what might be in this call?
GARBER: Yes, so presumably he wants to release it because there is nothing bad in the call for him, and notably, as Jeremy noted, this is the week the House starts holding public hearings. And so I think if this call is innocuous, if it's not harmful for the president, I think he'll use it to point out that there was nothing wrong with his relationship with Ukraine. I think that's the point, and to try to present an alternative narrative this week.
WHITFIELD: Yes. And this call would have come shortly after President Zelensky's win, and, yes, it's not like likely to underscore the favor that the president talks about in the July call even though he said it was a perfect call.
So all of this, too, is coming as House Republicans have submitted this list, the wish list of witnesses, Hunter Biden being on that as well. Democrats not likely to sign after on that. So what is the point?
GARBER: Yes, I think there are actually sort of three levels of points here. I think the first is, as Jeremy pointed out, it's to sort of frame the narrative that the president at least believes, I think the House Republicans are going to try to show the president at least believed that what we asked Ukraine for was appropriate, that he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine and that potentially the former vice president Biden was somehow involved in that, and so that's why Trump asked for that investigation. And then the same thing with respect to the DNC and the DNC server, that the president was legitimately concerned about that. I think that's why witnesses related to those two issues are on the list.
But the second level, I think, is that House Republicans are going to want to point out, and we should expect this to happen next week at every turn, that the process is unfair, and they're going to use this list to show, to kind of bolster their position that the process is unfair, that they submitted a list of potential witnesses and that the House Democrats didn't call any of them. They're not looking to get to the truth, and the House Republicans were sort of shut out of the process.
And let me throw out a third point that I think you're going to -- that's going on here, which is sort of a shot across the bow about a Senate trial, because right now Democrats in the House control the witness list. In the Senate, it's going to be the Republicans who control the witnesses, and I think the House Republicans are sending a message.
WHITFIELD: Giving them some ideas.
GARBER: Well, yes. If you pass articles of impeachment, get ready for a Senate trial in which Hunter Biden, at least, is going to be subpoenaed to testify, and that is going to happen no too far from the beginning of primaries and caucuses for the Democrats.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. OK, now let's talk about the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and Democrats want him to testify. And he is claiming that he has absolute immunity when it comes to testifying in the impeachment probe. Will that hold up? Is that a viable argument?
GARBER: OK, so the notion of immunity, and absolute immunity for the president and his senior advisers has been around for a long time. Administrations from both parties have claimed that kind of immunity. The court cases, though, are limited. There's a trial court, the lowest level district court opinion from a while back, that said that there at least for the White House counsel then was no absolute immunity. But there's no appeals court decision. There's no Supreme Court decision. It's really an open issue about immunity. And so it's not a surprise to see the claim.
House Democrats don't want to litigate it. They don't want to have this tied up in court. They don't want to get court decisions because that is going to take a long time. And so what they're saying is, look, fine, you want to claim immunity, don't show up.
There are going to be two potential consequences. One is you may have just bought the president another article of impeachment for obstructing the congressional investigation. And second, we may draw what they refer to as an adverse inference against the president and you. In other words, if you don't want to show up and testify, we're going to assume, infer that what you have to say is not going to be helpful to you and the president. And when we find facts, when we produce a report, we're going to use that assumption to draw conclusions.
WHITFIELD: And infer that there is something to hide without that kind of cooperation?
GARBER: That's right. That's going to be their position on this. That's exactly right.
WHITFIELD: Ross Garber, thank you so much.
GARBER: Good to see you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Still to come in the CNN Newsroom, the escalating fight in the 2020 primary. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, they're now trading new barbs.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Senator Elizabeth Warren hitting back at former vice president Joe Biden over his attacks over her Medicare for All plan. Warren now seems to be implying that Biden's characterization of her campaign is sexist after Biden released a scathing op-ed in which he described Warren's my-way-or-the-highway approach as angry. CNN's Arlette Saenz is in New Hampshire where Biden is campaigning today. So Arlette, how is Biden responding to Warren's response to his descriptions.
ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Joe Biden is pushing back on the idea that him calling her angry has anything to do with her gender. But this all stems from a comment made last week by Elizabeth Warren when she suggested that the former vice president is running in the wrong presidential primary because he disagreed with her on Medicare for All. That's what prompted Biden to write that post in Medium where he talked about what he described as Warren's my-way-or- the-highway approach and in there, he describes that, those types of attacks, as being angry attacks.
Now, Warren yesterday in a fundraising e-mail wrote that so often women are described as angry. And she said, I am angry and I own it. Yesterday, Joe Biden was asked about this comment by our colleague, Dana Bash. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That has nothing to do with it. What I was responding to was, her saying that, if you disagree, because I disagreed with her Medicare for All proposal and didn't think it was forthrightly stated exactly what it was going to do and how much it was going to cost, that I'm running in the wrong primary. Well, that's not anger. That's just misleading.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She's taking it and making it about how women are referred to. You think that that's misguided?
BIDEN: That's not anything that I did or intended to do. It had nothing to do with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAENZ: Now, you've sign Joe Biden really sharpen his criticism of Warren, particularly on the issue of Medicare for All, the two politicians on opposite ends of that health care debate. Joe Biden is here in New Hampshire where he's going to be holding a town hall shortly.
And Elizabeth Warren is going to be making a trip back to the state. She will be filing for the state's primary on Wednesday. Fred?
WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much.
Meantime, let's talk about another race, another 2020 race. And it turns out former U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions wants his old U.S. Senate job back. And it appears he wants constituents to know that he is still team Trump even though the president fired him and had a whole lot of ugly words to describe him along the way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: When I left President Trump's cabinet, did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president? Nope. Have I said a cross word about our president? Not one time. And I'll tell you why. First, that would be dishonorable. I was there to serve his agenda, not mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Toluse Olorunnipa is joining me right now. He is a White House reporter for the "Washington Post" and CNN political analyst. And we're so lucky that he's here in Atlanta today. So Toluse, what does Sessions' approach say about the Trump support in his district that he is trying to appeal to?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, well, this is a crowded primary in Alabama, and Jeff Sessions is trying to win, and to win in Alabama, you have to have support from President Trump. The fact that he's even running is pretty interesting because he was, as you said, fired by the president. The president said the biggest mistake of his first term was hiring Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia probe and that led to this two-year investigation that President Trump still thinks is the worst part of his president thus far.
So at least so far it seems like it's working for Jeff Sessions in that the president hasn't attacked him, hasn't said let's try to torpedo his campaign from the get go. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens eventually because there's so much hard feelings from the president. But he came out right from his first ad and only talked about President Trump. Didn't talk about education, didn't talk about issues that are important to Alabama voters, not even his conservative values.
WHITFIELD: And he says he didn't disparage, he didn't say anything ugly. He didn't go on this network and others to say anything critical of the president. But the president was asked about this yesterday, and he just kind of said it was interesting. He didn't necessarily commit to campaigning for Jeff Sessions, but did he leave the door open a little bit?
OLORUNNIPA: Maybe. I would be very surprised if he campaigned before the primary was over. He may wait until the primary is over, if Jeff Sessions is able to win, this is an eight-person primary, all of these candidates are talking about how much they love President Trump, and I'm sure the president likes that part of it.
Once the primary is over, this is an important Senate seat. It's a very tough map for Republicans this time around. This is one state where a Democrat is in the position, and it's likely that Republicans could flip that, one of the few states that they have that they could potentially flip in 2020.
So President Trump is a pragmatist in some ways, so I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Sessions comes out of this if President Trump decides to bury the hatchet and say I'm going to campaign for him. But for now, it does seem that Jeff Sessions is the one trying to put the olive branch out there to President Trump. WHITFIELD: And let's switch gears a little bit, because yesterday
President Trump made an extensive pitch to African-American voters at a campaign stop here in Atlanta, launching the black voices for Trump coalition. Here's what's some of the supporters told us about why they are backing in the president and why they attended that event.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is righting the wrongs from the Clintons and the do-nothing Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard exactly what we needed to hear today, the president talked to us as black Americans, but not as black Americans, but just simply as Americans. We have been forgotten by the Democrat party for so many years, but it's so good to hear a president of the United States talk about our issues directly. Not afraid of what he says, we loved it, we received it, and we're going to move forward. We're going to put him across the finish line in 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love Donald Trump. He always kept it real with you. That's a gift. Most people cannot tell you the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So will this be revisiting the what have you got to lose kind of comments of the president, or is this going to be see, I told you so about that support.
OLORUNNIPA: The president, he's going to be trying to show, not only black voters but also some moderate white voters who are concerned about some of his racist language of the past, that, no, I'm not a racist. Look, I have a diverse group of people supporting me. This is signaling as well to people, because he needs to win in some of those states that not only have large black populations but also places where he has lost a huge percentage of the suburban votes. And some of that is because of the language that he uses, the fact that he puts off so many different people.
I think that's part of the reason why he's trying to showcase that he is willing to go to places to reach out to diverse voters and show that the things that happened in Charlottesville, the things that he said about different members of Congress, go back to where you came from, that those aren't the things that he's going to be campaigning on in 2020. We'll see how long it lasts, but I do believe that because the president's support in the African-American community is still in the single digits, that he is not only trying to increase that, but he's also trying to signal to other voters that he's not as toxic as he has been in the past.
WHITFIELD: Interesting. It's going to be a fascinating year. It has been interesting along the way, but in the final stretch here, one year to go before Election Day, fascinating.
OLORUNNIPA: Lots to watch. WHITFIELD: That's right. Toluse Olorunnipa, always good to see you,
thank you so much.
OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Former Vice President Joe Biden, he's taking questions from voters live from Iowa in a CNN Democratic presidential town hall, less than 100 days now before the pivotal Iowa caucuses. And CNN's Erin Burnett moderates the town hall, that's Monday night, 9:00 eastern, right here on CNN.
Still ahead, a new lawsuit accuses a former Ohio State University doctor of sexual misconduct. What a referee says happened when he told now Congressman Jim Jordan, then an assistant wrestling coach at OSU, about the alleged misconduct.
WHITFIELD: A college wrestling referee says he complained to Ohio State University's wrestling coaches about sexual misconduct by one of the team doctors, but they did nothing about it.
One of the assistant coaches at the time was current Congressman Jim Jordan. The claims are part of a lawsuit filed this week by 43 men who say they were sexually assaulted, abused, molested, or harassed by Dr. Richard Strauss. Congressman Jordan has repeatedly denied knowing about the abuse allegations. Jean Casarez joins us with the very latest. So this ref says he told Jordan directly about the alleged sexual misconduct?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Along with the head coach for the wrestlers. And this lawsuit is 165 pages in length. This is the complaint, it goes on and on, of 43 alleged victims. And here's what's amazing because this is a federal suit. They are only suing one defendant, Ohio State University, Title IX allegations they have, violations.
But what is so fascinating about this and so really horrendous is that they cite so many medical professionals, doctors, assistant physicians, nurses, at least one in this, saying that they told those people and they did nothing. They talk about just a scenario one after the other. It's all the same. They would go in as a patient, and they would have something wrong with them, but the doctor would immediately look at and assess their private parts. And it went on from 1978 through 1998.
Now one of the alleged victims was not a student. He was a paid referee. And he said in 1994, 95, he was refereeing a wrestling match, and that is where Jim Jordan was an assistant coach. And after that, the ref went into the public sauna, shower, and he saw Dr. Strauss pleasuring himself in front of everybody else, right there in front of him. He said something to Dr. Strauss, he walked out of the shower, and according to this accuser, he went to the head coach and the assistant coach, which was Jim Jordan, and said what he just saw in the shower. And the response was, yes, that's Strauss.
And so the allegations are that many, many people knew about this, but none of the accusers believed they were actually being sexually assaulted. They just thought he was a weird guy. Over and over the victims say that.
Now, the attorney for the alleged victim, Scott Smith, says, quote, "This is not a political issue in our estimation. This is an issue about Ohio state. This isn't about Jim Jordan. He happens to be a witness. He just happens to be a name of a person who was present." And a representative for Jim Jordan says "Congressman Jordan never saw or heard of any kind of sexual abuse, and if he had, he would have dealt with it. Multiple investigations have confirmed this simple fact."
And the ramifications of this for the ones that were allegedly assaulted, some committed suicide, many dropped out of school, many did not go on. Many have had this haunted. They have questioned their own sexuality since they were in college.
Now, Ohio State responded to this massive suit with a statement to CNN. They said "Ohio State has led the effort to investigate and expose the misdeeds of Richard Strauss and the systematic failures to respond, and the university is committed to a fair resolution." And they also are providing therapy for these victims, but they are asking for monetary damages and Title IX allegations to be deemed violations.
WHITFIELD: Yes. So sad to hear all of that. All right, Jean Casarez, thank you very much.
CASAREZ: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Still to come, the impeachment inquiry enters the public phase with televised hearings, including key witnesses. But will it do anything to sway public opinion? We have two historians joining us with their insight.
WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The House impeachment inquiry moves into its public phase next week with open hearings. The Democrat led inquiry plans to call the special envoy to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, and then George Kent as well, the diplomat who has already told lawmakers the White House demanded an investigation into Joe Biden in exchange for an Oval Office meeting with the president.
And Friday, Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify. Impeachment proceedings are extremely rare but not unprecedented on Capitol Hill. So what can history tell us about how this might play out? With me now is presidential historian Julian Zelizer and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, Professor Larry Sabato. Good to see you both. So Larry, you first. If we look back to President Clinton's impeachment 20 years ago, was it the right move politicly for Republicans at the time?
LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Are you asking me?
WHITFIELD: Yes, Larry.
SABATO: Sorry, Fred.
WHITFIELD: That's OK.
SABATO: Look, back in Nixon's time, you need to remember, there were only three networks, you weren't here, Fred.
WHITFIELD: I wasn't at CNN, but I was around. I was living in Washington, but good ahead.
SABATO: You're too young for that. You can go ahead and say that if you want.
SABATO: But the focus was very concentrated, and the hearings were incredibly dramatic. And what made it even better for viewers was there was a bipartisan theme to those hearings. Republicans had open minds. They were listening. Quite a few of them ended up supporting Nixon's impeachment. I'm not sure all of those elements are here this time. We'll wait and see what actually comes out in the public hearings.
WHITFIELD: Yes, it was that Watergate time that inspired me to starting reading newspapers as a little one, just so you know, Larry.
WHITFIELD: OK. So Julian, yes, there have been impeachments. President Clinton, Andrew Johnson. But within them, did you have a White House discouraging witnesses from testifying or refusals to respect congressional suspects to that extent, this extent?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you did in different ways. Richard Nixon certainly tried to use executive privilege aggressively. Ultimately, he tries to keep control of the White House tapes so that those are not made available to the grand jury and to Congress, but they are in the end. He loses.
President Clinton tries to keep Kenneth Starr, who's the independent prosecutor, from being able to interview all of his advisers, and ultimately loses that battle in court. So I think what we're seeing with President Trump is a scale and scope. It's the way in which he exerts executive power. It's just much bolder and much grander than what we saw in those other two cases. WHITFIELD: And so Larry, if federal courts protect the executive
branch officials who have currently filed a lawsuit from testifying, how do you see this possibly forever leveraging the powers of the executive branch against any checks and balances efforts?
SABATO: Well, it will make investigative powers from Congress kind of toothless. Boy, what Richard Nixon wouldn't have given for this kind of stonewalling. Julian knows that well. Nixon tried to stonewall, but you had a heavily Democratic Congress, and many of the judges had also been appointed by Democrats.
So this is a very different situation. I think the Democrats in the House are going to have to focus heavily on what they have already discovered. There's really enough there to carry this through. They have to focus on that and make people understand it, repetition, repetition, repetition.
WHITFIELD: And so Julian, is that why Democrats might feel like it will be particularly instrumental and important to hear public testimony from those that they believe have already gleaned so much detail and information in the behind closed doors testimony.
ZELIZER: It is. I think they're hoping that the power of seeing the actual witnesses say what they've said in private and talk about these documents will be extraordinarily dramatic for the public, and possibly even some voters in Republican areas. We don't know if that's going to happen, but that's the goal.
But the hearings won't be like the hearings under President Nixon, meaning the Republicans are going to go after everything from day one, tooth and nail, talk about the investigation, try to smear people, talk about Bidens. So it's going to be very difficult for Democrats to keep concentrating on the facts of the case.
WHITFIELD: And then Larry, to your point, it does appear that the Democrats just might be ready to forego some key witness testimony like that of John Bolton, since the tactic of delay perhaps may be in order now. Even though John Bolton's attorney says he has some really important vital information, but there's an unwillingness to hurry up and testify.
SABATO: Yes, well, that was quite a tease from Bolton's attorney. I think we'd all like to know what it is he knows because Bolton, of course, was fired. He has some motives to tell us some interesting things.
But just to add to what we've been talking about, here's an element that's really totally different than the Nixon case. Look at all the surveys that have been taken. There have been about two dozen of them. The one thing we've learned is almost all Democrats are already in favor of impeachment and, for that matter, ouster, and almost all Republicans are totally opposed to impeachment and ouster.
So I don't know who's left to convince in public hearings. And that's another reason for relying on the facts but not insisting that every i be dotted, every t be crossed. WHITFIELD: Does that just underscore, then, Julian, that it's public
opinion that really could be the most influential in all this.
ZELIZER: It's the most important fact. Republicans will not turn against the president unless there's a political reason to do so. Again, the partisanship that protects the president is the only thing that ultimately could harm him with Republicans, and that's where public opinion could come in. But it's not moving so far. And again, this will be watched on our modern media ecosystem, which has a lot of partisan voices and partisan analysis that will try to keep people exactly where they are and not shift as a result of what they see and here.
WHITFIELD: Julian Zelizer, Larry Sabato, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you very much, gentlemen.
ZELIZER: Thank you.
SABATO: Thank you, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Still to come, a warning for students taking the SATs, your data may be sold to universities. And wait until you hear what they're doing with that information allegedly.
WHITFIELD: As if the college admissions process isn't stressful enough, SAT test takers beware. "The Wall Street Journal" reports your names and personal info may be sold to universities around the country, and many schools are using it to make themselves look better.
Joining me right now, the reporter who broke the story for the "Journal," Douglas Belkin. Douglas, good to see you. So let's get started with what you've learned about how this works. The College Board, a nonprofit that owns the SATs, is selling test taker's information for 47 cents a pop, and they can do that without the test taker's consent?
DOUGLAS BELKIN, HIGHER EDUCATION REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": No. They do get the test taker's consent. There's a question on the survey, which is part of the information that they sell, asking the students whether or not they want their information disseminated. Whether or not, a 14 or 15-year-old kid who is about to take a high stakes test is in the game on the question is an open question, but about 80 percent of kids check that box, so they have an opportunity to turn it back.
WHITFIELD: And so how does this benefit the colleges who are buying it?
BELKIN: So the schools are in the business of getting as many kids to apply to them as they can, and they take the information from the surveys and from the test scores. They get a sort of package by the college board, they buy it, and then they use that to market themselves. They send e-mails and brochures. So kids are getting thousands of come-ons from colleges and universities letting them know that they would like them to apply.
WHITFIELD: So the College Board's business is benefitting from this as well, to what extent?
BELKIN: So the College Board is a really big business. Their revenue is in excess of $1 billion, and that was several years ago, according to the tax returns that we looked at. The amount of money generated from this end of the business is somewhere in the category of under $100 million. It's not quite sure how much it is, but it's certainly in the tens of millions of dollars.
WHITFIELD: So then help us understand how this whole sequence of events. The schools buy this data. They recruit, perhaps, the student. The student decides to apply. May not necessarily get in. What happens here?
BELKIN: So I think the rub with this story that's gotten people upset is that some schools are reaching out to kids whose SAT scores are probably below what they're going to accept. So they're inflating the applications, the number of applications that are coming in. And they do that in a sense because by getting more applications, they can reject more students. So the kids are being used as pawns to some extent in that they really didn't have a chance to begin with, even though the schools said, please apply. I think that's pretty disheartening and what's got people annoyed.
WHITFIELD: That's cruel. But then the flipside to that for the school, or the benefit that the school sees is then they can appear to be an exclusive school or one that's so sought after, but we only accept a handful of students, and that piques the interest of people?
BELKIN: Yes, it's like anything else. People want to join a club that other people aren't able to get into. The exclusivity, the prestige is really one of the core products of higher education. People associate brand name schools, ivy league schools with special people who have done special things, and they want to be a part of that specialness. So it connects and that helps them elevate their brand.
WHITFIELD: OK, so what's the best advice for students about to take the SATs, how do they protect themselves besides I'm already telling my 14-year-old who's about to take his, don't check the box, but then what else?
BELKIN: I think just thinking through before you sit down to take the test that this is coming, this is part of the SAT. There's a series of questions that you're going to be asked, and then you're going to have an opportunity to either let this information go or not. And then take -- if you do, take with a grain of salt the information that's coming to you in these brochures. These schools are not looking specifically, recruiting you. They're marketing themselves broadly. So the mistake a lot of teenagers make is that they think when they get this information that they're being asked to join this club. And really, it's just the beginning of a long process.
BELKIN: And the second leg of this.
WHITFIELD: Kind of being tricked.
BELKIN: Well, yes, that's a lot of kids --
BELKIN: -- not happy about it.
And the other sort of front that this is being fought on right now is the issue of data privacy. So there's a lot of states around the country that have laws that say it's not OK, it's not legal to buy and sell the information of minors without the consent of the parents. So in some places the College Board has carveouts for this stuff. They say, well, that's OK, but not for us, we're an exception. That's being challenged around the country in different places. And Congress is looking into this now. So I think this is going to become a public policy debate.
WHITFIELD: Very revealing and very fascinating. Doug Belkin, thank you so much, appreciate it, really important information.
Coming up, an American man is searching for his two young children in Syria after his wife took them to join ISIS. We'll show you what he discovered.
WHITFIELD: Kurds in northern Syria said they felt abandoned when the U.S. abruptly withdrew U.S. troops. But for one dad in the U.S., the withdrawal also means a heartbreaking year's long search for his children in Syria. And it's now going to be even more difficult. Rosa Flores has the story.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bashirul Shikder has been on an agonizing quest to find his American born children. It all started in march of 2015 when he says his wife of eight years, Rashida Sumaiya, kidnapped four-year-old Yusef and nine-month-old Zahra from their home in Miami and joined ISIS in Syria.
BASHIRUL SHIKDER, CHILDREN LOST IN SYRIA: It was impossible pain that I was going through, but in the same time, I was turning to my faith, believing in God.
FLORES: A month later, ISIS called him with an ultimatum, join or lose your wife and children. Shikder says he reached out to American authorities, even giving federal agents access to his computer, his phone. ZAHRA: So I'm sick. So I'm always coughing. So I miss you.
SHIKDER: And to the most intimate conversations with his family.
YUSUF: So I miss you. I like you. I love you. I know you love me.
SHIKDER: When I would be talking to my son, I tried my best not to show my tears to him. I tried my best, but sometimes I could not.
FLORES: These images of his children captured by his wife nearly broke him. Yusef emotionless, Zahra pretending to eat.
Did they have enough to eat?
SHIKDER: No, they were making soup with grasses. No fruits, no food. Nothing is there.
FLORES: And then there were the sounds of war, so frightening that Yusuf packed his toys.
SHIKDER: He was telling his mom that my daddy is coming to pick me up.
FLORES: He wanted to come back to Miami?
FLORES: His wife asked for money for the children.
RASHIDA: Send a very good amount, like at least 3,000.
SHIKDER: I really wanted. But at the same time, I didn't want to do anything that I will disrespect the laws.
FLORES: Under U.S. law, wiring cash could equate to funding a terrorist organization. Under ISIS law, Shikder's punishment was spelled out in this document.
SHIKDER: The court is nullifying our marriage because I live in America.
FLORES: And just when he thought the situation couldn't get worse.
SHIKDER: So many days passed that no contact, no info.
FLORES: His wife was killed in an air strike. The children suffered burns to their faces and were in the care of ISIS. Desperate, Shikder travelled to al-Hol camp in Syria. There a boy said he saw Yusuf, but he was too late. Shikder, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh was confident U.S. commandos would save his children. Then U.S. forces began exiting Syria, leaving his American children behind.
Do you feel let down by the U.S. government?
FLORES: Let down, but not defeated. He says his quest is not over until Yusuf and Zahra come home.
Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.
WHITFIELD: And thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. CNN NEWSROOM is back at the top of the hour with Ana Cabrera and the latest on the impeachment inquiry.