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Brett Favre Denies Involvement In Fraud Scheme Despite Texts; Protests Erupt At LA City Council Meeting Over Racist Remarks; Pro- Russian Hacker Takes Credit For Knocking U.S. Airport Sites Offline. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 12, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: But Favre claims he did not know millions of dollars that he was pushing forward to get for a new volleyball facility at his -- at his alma mater that those funds were coming from funds specifically meant for the state's neediest families. CNN's Dianne Gallagher joins me now she has been following this from the very beginning, Dianne, I spoke with a state auditor who uncovered this whole scheme and he made it very clear at the time that he believes Favre knew where the money came from. Let me play this.


SHAD WHITE, MISSISSIPPI STATE AUDITOR: So now we know that Mr. Favre not only knew that he was receiving money from this nonprofit, which was funded by taxpayer dollars, we know that the funding for that was a sham and we know that he knows that too. And we now know that he didn't want the media or the public to find out about this.


BOLDUAN: So, Dianne, what is Favre saying now?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, this is the first time that we've heard from Brett Favre himself in months, but it is kind of the same denial that we've been hearing through his attorneys, I didn't know about this. But this time, he's essentially painting himself as a victim here saying he's been unjustly smeared by the media and wants to set the record straight writing in part, no one ever told me and I did not know that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the university or me.

I tried to help my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi State University, raise funds for a Wellness Center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university. Favre later added after I found out that money -- that the money I was paid for fundraising radio spots came from federal welfare funds, I returned all of it.

Now, he's talking about two different things here, the federal welfare money that went to the volleyball center to build it and also the $1.1 million in welfare funds that went directly to Brett Favre for sort of a PSA campaign of commercial spots and public appearances that the state auditor says he never made.

Now Favre's attorney says he was never asked to make them. But Brett Favre, as we mentioned, has not been criminally charged. He is, however, being sued by the state of Mississippi, along with about three dozen others to try and get back some of those millions of dollars that were meant for the neediest families in the poorest state in the country.

Now, as part of that lawsuit, we have seen some text messages that do involve Brett Favre that have been entered into the public record here. One of them that stands out to people, in particular, is with a woman named Nancy New. She is the -- she's pleaded guilty to this. She was the founder of the nonprofit that gave the money to Brett Favre.

And in it, Brett Favre wrote to her back in August of 2017. If you were to pay me is there any way the media can find out where it came from and how much? New responded in part, no, we never have had that information publicized. I understand you being uneasy about that, though.

Kate, his new attorney, Brett Favre, said that Favre was simply uneasy about being a celebrity and people finding out where he got paid from that it had nothing to do with the fact that he knew that this was welfare money.

BOLDUAN: Much more to learn here as the civil case continues. It's good to see you. Thank you so much, Dianne.

Coming up for us.


MITCH O'FARRELL, ACTING LA CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Let's respect people who showed up to give their voice to us.



BOLDUAN: Outrage clearly over racist comments reaching a boiling point at a city council meeting in LA. I'm going to speak with one of the city council members next.



BOLDUAN: Protests erupted at the Los Angeles City Council meeting, almost shutting it down. Watch.


O'FARRELL: To members of the public, this entire Council is meeting today to work through these issues, and let's respect people who showed up to give their voice to us.


BOLDUAN: Crowds both inside and outside City Hall were demanding the resignation of three Latino council members over racist comments heard on a leaked audio recording. Add to that, President Biden is now calling for those members to resign. CNN's Nick Watt is live in Los Angeles for us. So, Nick, where do things stand now?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Biden joining a long list of people calling for these council members to resign. His press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said he believes that they all should resign. They are all Democrats, all therefore members of his party. Now, at that meeting, there was sadness, there was shock, there was anger, there was pointed profanity, all of this based around this leaked audio on which the president of the city council speaking about the young black son of a fellow council member said that he was misbehaving at a parade and "looks like a little monkey."

Now all of this was part of a discussion about redistricting, which is, of course, often viewed through the prism of race. And in that conversation, the council president, Nury Martinez also said of the city's DA, F that guy, he's with the blacks. So, what could be the long-term impact of all this? Well, take a listen to one of the speakers from that city council meeting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These four individuals have possibly damaged the decades of intentional and difficult work of building multiracial understanding and solidarity among black and Latinx communities.



WATT: Now, the acting president of the council laid out a bunch of proposals yesterday, one of them having an independent body handle that redistricting. And that acting president also said that I do not believe we can have the healing that is necessary or govern as we need if these three members remain on that council, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OK. Nick, thank you. Joining me now for more on this is Los Angeles City Council member Curren Price, one of the members of this very Council we're talking about. Councilman, thank you for coming in. You've called for your three colleagues to resign as well. You've called their actions unforgivable. If they stay on the council --


BOLDUAN: If they stay on the council, though, will you be able to work together to serve the people of your city?

PRICE JR.: I think it'd be very difficult, Kate. I certainly agree that the statements made were outrageous, and totally inappropriate, especially by elected officials, and especially in any circumstance. But in LA, a multicultural, multi-ethnic city, those kinds of feelings just are -- have no place and so I'm going to be working with my colleagues as we -- as we work to create a situation for healing, working with the community in restoring faith in our -- in our government.

BOLDUAN: I want to play for you what Councilman Mike Bonin, who this is all about, and his son, what he said at the meeting yesterday.


MICHAEL BONIN, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCILMEMBER: I can never really know or comprehend or feel the weight of the -- that the daily relentless racism, anti-black racism that my son is going to face. But, man, I know the fire that you feel when someone tries to destroy black boy joy. Man, it's a rage.


BOLDUAN: This is a very tough moment for the entire council in the city. But you've talked about unifying, could this be a moment of racial healing?

PRICE JR.: Well, I think it can be. I think, first of all, though, these three members have to resign otherwise, there will be no peace. They've got to resign. And we have to start having some frank discussions about programs and policies and about being more and more inclusive. I support the idea, for example of an expanded Council perhaps we should have more members with smaller districts and greater accountability.

I certainly believe we should have an Independent Redistricting Committee, a committee that does not have the council with the final say. And we have to work to make sure that we are pulling everybody together in this discussion. So, the healing can --

BOLDUAN: One thing that people might be wondering --

PRICE JR.: The healing can't --

BOLDUAN: Go ahead now.

PRICE JR.: Look, the healing can begin, but it won't start until these three resign.

BOLDUAN: One thing people might be wondering is can they be forced to resign? And it seems from everything I've seen, it's very hard. You can get -- there could be a recall election, but that is costly and very expensive, costly and can take a long time.

So if that's the case, have you tried to have a personal one-on-one conversation with these members with Nury Martinez, for example, away from the microphones, a human-to-human conversation to express this, to tell them how this whole thing has made you feel, what it is doing to the city, and also to hear what they have to say considering it seems very hard that the anyone can force them to resign?

PRICE JR.: You're right. They can't be forced to leave and a recall takes time and will cost. The best result is for them to resign. We've created the point of caretaker and then decide how the next election will take place. But yes, I've spoken with a couple of them who indicated the heartburn. They're causing the pain that they've caused, urging them to resign. Yesterday afternoon -- yesterday morning, I spoke to two members ask them to leave the floor even because their mere presence just preach the kind of chaos that we cannot tolerate if we're serious about moving forward.

And I think we have to. We are a resilient city that we've worked hard creating the kind of relationships and safety between black and brown communities. We want to make sure that those bonds are reinforced, that we don't let these statements and comments tear us apart. But we want to make sure also that we are governing in a way that's more inclusive, that's more collaborative, and that takes everyone into consideration.

BOLDUAN: Councilman Price, thank you for coming on.



BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. Russian-speaking hackers knock offline 14 Airport websites in the United States. Is this a shot across the bow? Also, taking a break to recharge, it doesn't have to mean dropping everything. Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta in today's "CHASING LIFE."


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta host of CNN's "CHASING LIFE" podcast. Getting through a pile of work definitely takes concentration, but taking breaks is just as important. A new study found that micro-breaks, that means 10 minutes or less, can increase vigor while decreasing fatigue and it was true for people doing both routine or creative tasks.

When you're doing a routine task, you're likely not using your full brain capacity, which means your mind can more easily wander and that can increase the chances of a mistake. In that case, a micro-break can help refocus your attention.

Creative tasks, on the other hand, require your brain to look for information relevant to what you're doing while also suppressing off- topic ideas. Short breaks in that case can help allow your brain to wander a bit. And this can increase flexibility and improve creative performance.

The type of break you take matters as well. Activities unrelated to the job showed more benefits. Think physical activity or watching a short video. The key in all of this, make sure it's something you enjoy.

You can hear more about how to optimize your health and chase life wherever you get your podcasts.





JEN EASTERLY, DIRECTOR, U.S. CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: It was a real concern that if the U.S. and our allies came together to inflict sanctions or other consequences on the Kremlin, that they might retaliate, there might be direct retaliation attacks on critical infrastructure, there might be a criminally aligned, a group aligned with Russia that might launch a ransomware attack, where there could be cascading consequences from an attack in Ukraine or in Europe.


BOLDUAN: That is the director of America's cyber defense of the nation's top Cyber Defense Agency. This week, pro-Russian hackers knocked offline the websites of more than a dozen U.S. airports. Fortunately, it didn't impact airport operations, but it is raising fresh concerns about the vulnerability of America's infrastructure. Joining me right now is Chris Krebs.

He's the former top cybersecurity official for the Department of Homeland Security. It's good to see you, Chris. So, this airport attack, it showed no sign of impacting actual air travel if you will. But could this be a precursor to something more? I mean, how does the team in your old post figure that out?

CHRIS KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, U.S. CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Well, I think what you're seeing right now is patriotic hackers aligned with the Kremlin that are just trying to make noise. And it's really nothing more than a nuisance attack.

As you pointed out, it did not affect air operations at these various airports, it really -- you know, if anything disrupted your ability to see how many parking spots were available at the airport or see what food options are available, but there's no connection whatsoever to air operations. So, I think your viewers should rest assured that the current attacks at least, are not a safety or real security life safety issue.

Going forward, though, as Director Easterly pointed out, is we are still very much in the early stages of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a conflict that could drag out for many months if not a year or longer. And as Russia's hopes their capabilities dwindle, they're going to start resorting perhaps, to unconventional capabilities. And that would include targeting cyber or using cyber to target critical infrastructure. And we've seen for years that they've expressed interest in our electric grid, they've targeted our election infrastructure.

Now, they haven't had a -- you know, an effect to date, but it is something that our government agencies are worried about and our private sector partners as well. And they are working every day. And that shields up the posture that Jen has mentioned repeatedly. BOLDUAN: So how vulnerable is critical infrastructure in the U.S. to a cyberattack that isn't just a nuisance, but could have a real and damaging impact?

KREBS: Well, I think the question is more about how resilient is our infrastructure. We have seen time and time again, actors, whether it's ransomware or Russians or Iranians, North Koreans, any number of actors, including the Chinese, that have attempted to infiltrate, compromise, steal data, but what we haven't necessarily seen as a true disruption to our economy. And I think probably the closest thing was last year's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack.

So, I think the resilience and the reliability of the infrastructure is actually quite robust. The concern that I would have is how actors, Russians in particular, combine technical cyberattacks with information operations, psychological attacks, where they're really just trying to get into our heads and undermine our confidence and the ability of our government to protect us and our critical infrastructure providers to be able to continue to provide services.


So, I think, again, resilience reliability is high, but the splash factor, the perception hack is an area where they may see some success and create a little panic.

BOLDUAN: So interesting. It's always good to have you, Chris. Thank you so much.

KREBS: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I really appreciate it. And thank you all so very much for joining us today. I'm Kate Bolduan. Thank you so much for watching AT THIS HOUR. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.