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Rep. Shontel Brown (D-OH) On White House Ready To Move On As Dems Still Fret Over Biden's Debate Performance; How Airbnb Fails To Protect Guests From Hidden Cameras; Intel Chief: Iran Trying To Stoke U.S. Protests Over Gaza. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Overnight, right here on CNN, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet went as far as any Democrat senator has in airing his concerns about having President Biden stay in the presidential race.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide, and take with him the Senate and the House. I think that we could lose the whole thing.


BERMAN: With us now is Congresswoman Shontel Brown from Ohio. Thank you so much for being with us.

You heard the Colorado senator. What's your reaction to that?

REP. SHONTEL BROWN (D-OH) (via Webex by Cisco): Well, good morning, and thank you for having me.

Listen, there are only two ways to run and that is unopposed or scared. And right now, we are in a very scary situation.

But what is more frightening to me is what is happening on the other side of the aisle as it relates to Project 2025. When I think about the election that we had in Ohio last year, which I would describe as a test case for Project 2025, when the Republicans in the Statehouse attempted to suppress and silence the voice of the voters by eliminating a simple majority in our constitution, the voters showed up. So I am encouraged by that.

They also test-drove their effort to put forth a national abortion ban when they proposed that we would not have the right to make our own health care decisions in Ohio. So this is very fresh for me.

The fear around Project 2025 is very concerning. But what I am pleased and encouraged by is the fact that voters, when they are given the information, despite the odds, despite the polling, despite the dulls and the doldrums and the gloom and doom that has been predicted even in a state that is considered ruby red, like Ohio, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Blacks, whites -- they showed up in record number to vote in election years that were not considered presidential years.

And so, that is what I am encouraged by despite all the gloom and doom that has been reported on the news around President Biden's potential issues or health. My focus is winning in 2024 --

BERMAN: Got it.

BROWN: -- and making sure we get the majority back in the House so that we can make leader Jeffries --

BERMAN: If the stakes --

BROWN: -- the first Black Speaker of the House.

BERMAN: I'm sorry to interrupt you there.

If the stakes are as high as you laid out right there -- in your own state, Ohio, senior Sen. Sherrod Brown has got a tough reelection battle ahead of him. He is one of the senators who has voiced concern behind closed doors about what having President Biden on top of the ticket means. So if the stakes are as high as you say they are, is this the best ticket the Democrats can put forward right now?

BROWN: Listen, we have two candidates in the race that both have records. And when you consider their records, absolutely. President Biden's record is hands-down one of the best records that will go down in history. President Biden Harris -- and Vice President Harris have delivered for the American people.

We are still having conversations around the debate. Do you want a great debater or a great deliverer? Because President Biden and Vice President Harris, along with Democrats, have delivered for the American people, and that's what is going to be more important. Also, a vision for the future.

I started out talking about Project 2025. It is going to be -- what -- their proposed plans are to continue to take away freedom. And they have successfully done that when they elected Donald Trump in 2016.


In 2016, he was able to appoint three Supreme Court justices that have dismantled decades of precedent that have been set by overturning Roe versus Wade. So people -- women -- people like me are unable to make their own health care decisions but not for the Y (PH) voters in Ohio last year.

They have overturned affirmative action. They have overturned the Chevron case. They have made things that in my lifetime will be difficult to reverse course if people don't show up in 2024.

So the stakes are incredibly high.

BERMAN: Representative?

BROWN: But the good news is we have a record to run on to demonstrate to the people that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. And when you continue consider --

BERMAN: You --

BROWN: -- the past behavior of the two candidates, I am 100 percent confident that, yes, we have the best ticket.

BERMAN: You brought up Vice President Kamala Harris. So did former President Trump yesterday on the campaign trail. In fact, he talked about her a little more than he has over the last several years. And when he discussed her, he mispronounced her name repeatedly -- listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Laughing Kamala. He picked Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris was given two jobs. And as a senator, Kamala sided with socialist Bernie Sanders. We're leading against Kamala and we're leading against everybody else.


BERMAN: First of all, what do you think about him talking about her so much now, and so often mispronouncing her name?

BROWN: Well, I think he should take a cognitive test. Her name is Kamala and it's been that her entire life. And perhaps we should be talking about his mental acuity.

But aside from that fact, Kamala Harris, much like many of us Black women, have been underestimated and continues to deliver and over perform. She's been elected twice statewide -- a history-maker in her own right. And to me, it demonstrates that Mr. Trump is probably scared of Vice President Harris.

So that is what I take away from that. The enemy does not attack those that they are not threatened by. And so, that is what I take away from Mr. Trump trying to discount, dismiss, and really disrespect the vice president who has done a yeoman's job when it comes to being a vice president.

She has had probably one of the most difficult positions as it relates to trying to solidify what it is to be a vice president. No one has had to live up to the standards that she has since being elected vice president.

And what I can also say is she is endorsing her president, her ticket. And I can't -- I don't think we can say the same about Mr. Trump's former vice president.

And to add to that, we don't even know who his vice-presidential pick will be. When we think about the fact that it could potentially be J.D. Vance, the senator from Ohio, that is frightening to me because we know that the MAGA extremists are all about trying to strip away women's rights. There is a war on women and that proposal is manifested in Project 2025.

BERMAN: Congresswoman Shontel Brown, thanks so much for being with us this morning -- appreciate it -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now to a CNN exclusive investigation into the popular vacation rental company Airbnb. The site gives guests access to millions of listings all over the world with just a few clicks. But now, real questions of how well the company is protecting renters when the unthinkable happens.

CNN's Kyung Lah investigates the length Airbnb has gone to cover up complaints about hidden cameras.


CHLOE LEBRUMENT, FOUND HIDDEN CAMERA IN AIRBNB RENTAL: It was just like holy crap, this is a camera.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): But it didn't look like a camera. It was a phone charger. Chloe LeBrument's fiance had grabbed it from the bedroom wall of their Airbnb thinking it was hers.

LEBRUMENT: The Airbnb host had called us on the phone and told us that we had taken a charger that did not belong to us, and that we needed to return it immediately.

LAH: At what point did you think this isn't really a charger?

LEBRUMENT: He became increasingly paranoid. When am I getting this charger back? I think it was like a light bulb moment that we all just went oh my goodness, is this a hidden camera?

LAH (voiceover): Across North America, police have seized thousands of images from hidden cameras at Airbnb rentals, including people's most intimate moments.

LAH: What happened when you realized that there was a camera in that charger?

LEBRUMENT: It's so eerie and so creepy. Then your brain starts thinking what did they see? What happened while we were in that room?

LAH (voiceover): In a small town in Maine, a couple found a hidden camera at their Airbnb. Listen to what the host told police.

DETECTIVE: So they had sex?


DETECTIVE: And you recorded that?


AIRBNB HOST: I took some screenshots.

LAH (voiceover): The host admits he set up a camera hidden in this clock next to the bed to record unsuspecting guests.

AIRBNB HOST: So there are -- there's stuff of a couple of couples playing around or getting changed. So, uh --

DETECTIVE: OK. So there's pictures of people that are in intimate situations?



LAH (voiceover): It's more than just a few reported cases and Airbnb knows it's a problem.

In this deposition reviewed by CNN, an Airbnb rep said 35,000 customer support tickets about security cameras or recording devices had been documented over a decade. Airbnb told CNN a single complaint can involve multiple tickets.

And a CNN investigation found Airbnb not only failed to protect its guests, it works to keep complaints out of the courts and away from the public.

LAH: Why don't we know about this?

BELKIS PLATA, REPRESENTED CLIENTS WITH CLAIMS AGAINST AIRBNB: They are trying to keep it secretive. And if everyone knew what was happening, they would not be using their website.

SHANNON SCHOTT, REPRESENTED CLIENTS WITH CLAIMS AGAINST AIRBNB: Airbnb wants to wash their hands clean when they have a host who does something illegal or suspicious. They want to say we are simply a website. We are not responsible for this host. We are not responsible for this property.

LAH (voiceover): Florida attorneys Belkis Plata and Shannon Schott say trying to sue Airbnb if something goes wrong is extremely difficult. It begins when you sign up on Airbnb's website and click agree to its terms of service. You're agreeing to assume all risk.

PLATA: The person going to rent the property agrees that if something happens while they are staying at this accommodation, they're actually prohibited from suing Airbnb. They must go a different route, which is a binding arbitration. It's a way to strongarm someone.

LAH: Is this about controlling publicity?

SCHOTT: One hundred percent.

PLATA: Absolutely.

LAH (voiceover): Once they've settled a claim, Airbnb has required guests to sign confidentiality agreements, which CNN obtained, that keep some details of legal cases private.

PLATA: For you to get the check you must sign the piece of paper so that no one will know. This will be swept under the rug.

LAH (voiceover): That's exactly what happened to this man.

LAH: How did you feel signing that confidentiality agreement?


LAH (voiceover): This man asked us not to show his face and we've masked his voice. He and his wife were recorded during a romantic getaway.

AIRBNB GUEST: They had intimate footage of my wife and I. The sexual union between two people is sacred. It felt like an extreme violation of our marriage. It's devastating. It's a travesty.

LAH (voiceover): In this case and others CNN found that Airbnb does not contact law enforcement once hidden cameras are discovered, even if children are involved. Recording someone without their consent is illegal in every state.

AIRBNB GUEST: If people are out sharing their stories of how they were victimized through the services of Airbnb, nobody's going to want to trust them.

LAH (voiceover): This man only found out he and his wife were recorded because police called him months later after another guest found the camera.

AIRBNB GUEST: And they explained that every single room in the house had cameras.

LAH: Every room?

AIRBNB GUEST: The cameras were hidden in smoke detectors.

LAH: Part of the challenge is that the technology has gotten so advanced and these cameras so small that you can't even see them. In this one bedroom we have put multiple cameras all around and they're hidden in plain sight. This one is in the smoke alarm, an alarm clock, and even an outlet. And some of them, like this one, I can control remotely on my phone and even livestream.

What would you like to tell Airbnb?

AIRBNB GUEST: By not doing their due diligence, they're harming families. And they're selfishly making a lot of money while doing that.

LAH (voiceover): Airbnb declined an interview for this story but told CNN, "Incidents of hidden cameras are exceptionally rare." And "When we do receive an allegation, we take appropriate, swift action, which can include removing hosts and listings. Airbnb's trust and safety policies lead the vacation rental industry."


BOLDUAN: Kyung Lah, thank you so much for that reporting.

And we should note after CNN began reporting the story, Airbnb created a new policy that no cameras are allowed inside rental homes at all. But it's long been against Airbnb's rules to put cameras in bedrooms. And as you just saw, that didn't stop hosts from doing it anyway -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: That was disturbing. All right, thank you, Kate.

Soon, the Ukrainian president meets with top lawmakers on Capitol Hill. His urgent message to them: Ukraine can't wait until after the November election for more help.


And the death of a Black man in Wisconsin is drawing comparisons to George Floyd. New details in the case of a man who died after being held down by security guards.

We'll have those stories coming up.


SIDNER: U.S. intelligence officials have a new warning for people protesting the Israel-Hamas War. The director of national intelligence says Iran is trying to take advantage of the demonstrations by posing as activists online to stoke protests and is even providing funds to protesters.

CNN's Katie Bo Lillis joining me now. What are learning about all of this? This is very interesting to see, sort of, the movement of Iran into the U.S. sphere.


KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER: Yeah, Sara. Look, this was really an extraordinary warning -- real time warning of a foreign influence campaign by the nation's top intelligence official as it's happening.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warning that Iran, just in recent weeks, has moved to really ramp up its efforts to try to stoke these protests that we have seen at college campuses and elsewhere related to the conflict in Gaza. Iran, according to Haines, has been not only posing as protesters online, it has also, in some cases, been providing funding to protesters.

Now look, for analysts who track this kind of foreign influence campaign this isn't necessarily surprising that Iran would try to do this. Haines and others have warned that in recent years Iran has really ramped up its efforts to try to meddle in foreign governments and try to -- try to sort of meddle in foreign politics, including the United States. They tried to interfere in the 2022 U.S. midterm elections as well as the 2020 presidential election.

And, of course, we know that Iran broadly opposes Israel's military actions inside of Gaza and supports Hamas.

Also important I think here is that Iran is going to be looking for any opportunity that they have to try to exploit existing divisions within the body politic inside the United States. And, of course, we know, Sara, that these protests have been hugely divisive domestically, making them a really ripe target not only for Iran but other foreign adversaries who are more -- who are interested in seeing Americans kind of fight with each other rather than stand unified.

Now, really important to note here that Haines also says that Americans who may have been interacting with this campaign likely did so unknowingly. And she really emphasized the importance of the kind of foundational nature of peaceful protests to American democracy. As you see here, saying that, "I want to be clear that I know Americans who participate in protests are, in good faith, expressing their views on the conflict in Gaza. This intelligence does not indicate otherwise."

But, Sara, that's where the warning comes in here. Haines really saying to Americans look, be careful who you are interacting with online. They may not be who they say they are.

SIDNER: Yeah, not creating the division but stoking it in any way they can.

Thank you so much, Katie Bo Lillis, for your reporting there -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: So we're standing by right now to hear from the Secretary of State Tony Blinken. He's set to speak as day two of the NATO summit in Washington is kicking off.

A big focus of the summit is Ukraine. President Biden pledged yesterday to supply new air defenses to Ukraine.

And Ukrainian President Zelenskyy spoke out from Washington as well, making his case, once again, that Ukraine should join -- be allowed into NATO ASAP. He also made clear that the world is watching closely what is happening in the United States and with the election.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Now everyone is waiting for November. Americans are waiting for November. And Europe, the Middle East, Indo-Pacific -- the whole world is looking to go into -- looking to November. And truly speaking, Putin awaits November, too.


BOLDUAN: Joining us right now, CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier, and CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. He's also the author of the book "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and America's Struggle to Defend the West." Quite appropriate for what we're talking about today all over the place, David.

Kim, let me start with you. You describe this summit -- and it really caught my attention -- as the parade of wishful thinkers wearing rose- colored glasses. Tell us what you mean. And what are you hearing from sources about the view from NATA allies on the crisis surrounding Biden's presidential campaign right now?



DOZIER: -- trying to --

BOLDUAN: Hold on, David. Go ahead, Kim.

DOZIER: Sorry. Publicly, everyone's trying to say we are united. We're going to rush aid to Ukraine. But privately, they use words like gloomy in terms of the outlook for this summit.

Yes, they are trying to frontload as much aid to Ukraine as possible, but the long-term trends look bad -- from Russia getting itself on a wartime economy footing so that it could sustain this effort for several years to come, while Ukrainian military officials say their situation is fragile.

And everyone's looking ahead to the U.S. elections in the fall because if Donald Trump is elected, multiple European officials tell me they cannot sustain the efforts to Ukraine without U.S. help, and they're worried that Trump might strongarm Ukraine into negotiations with Moscow.

BOLDUAN: I mean, we've heard -- we've heard the whispers of what Donald Trump thinks about getting a negotiated end this war for a long time now.

David, about Donald Trump. He's campaigning, once again, and he's campaigning, in part, on his hardline stance against the NATO alliance, misrepresenting NATO allies and how they contribute to the alliance. But it continues to be his common refrain.


Let me play for everyone what he said just last night at a campaign event.


TRUMP: You know, I saved NATO. The first thing I figured out was they weren't paying. I said you have to pay your bills. They said sir, I'm going to ask you a question. If we don't pay our bills, will you protect us from Russia? I said you mean you're delinquent? They said yes, we're delinquent. Let's say we're delinquent. Will you protect us? I said no, I will not protect you from Russia.


BOLDUAN: Delinquent or not, moving forward because more and more countries are spending at least that two percent of their gross domestic -- gross national product on defense more so than they have in the past.

But what are you hearing from sources, David, on the conversation among allies and how they are looking at the election? How they are preparing or not for Biden to win or Trump to win? Are they scared? Are they looking forward to it? What is the sense you're getting?

SANGER: Well, Kate, it was fascinating to be in the room yesterday at the Mellon Auditorium, which is where the NATO treaty was signed in 1949 and it's where the president gave his speech. And all of the allies were there. All the leaders of the 32 NATO countries and some other invited leaders, and President Zelenskyy.

So they were looking at the president for basically three things.

First, what kind of shape was he in. And he gave a pretty rousing speech in a strong voice. He was, of course, on a teleprompter so there was no chance he was going to go wander off as we saw during the debate. But he gave one of his stronger speeches for whatever that reassurance gave them.

The second thing they were looking for was what kind of commitment was he making to NATO. And there we heard sort of the greatest hits from his speeches in Poland and elsewhere in Europe right after the war broke out and a year later. He has obviously been one of the biggest champions of NATO.

The third concern you're hearing now is, of course, about the possible return of Donald Trump. But also a growing recognition that the two percent, which 23 of the 32 nations have already met, is going to be nowhere near enough Kate for the kind of challenge that is clearly going to face them for the next 10, 20, 30 years.

This is a generational problem. And the United States is not going to be able to spend enough, arm enough to bring Europe up to that level, and that's what I think they have not yet sort of absorbed politically.

BOLDUAN: That is really interesting -- really interesting, David, about where things are headed.

Kim, I had John Kirby on -- I want to ask you about Ukraine, specifically. I had John Kirby on, and I asked him about the possibility of the U.S. lifting the current restrictions on how -- that they're putting on Ukraine in terms of using U.S. weapons. And John Kirby basically said the policy that they have in place and kind of using it just over the border -- the policy is not changing right now.

But do you think it's likely to change? Do you think Ukraine needs it to change? DOZIER: Ukraine does have the permission from countries like Britain to fire their munitions anywhere the threat is. France has put certain limitations that Ukraine can fire where Russians have fired at them. That's essentially what we've got from Biden, but just in a certain location. So perhaps that will ramp up to the next geographic area.

The major problem that the Biden administration sees, and NATO allies see happening is the air defense isn't good enough to stop not just the attacks on civilian targets but especially on infrastructure. And Ukraine's energy network is Soviet era. So NATO allies can't rush in the technology they need to fix it.

And already this summer you've Kyiv, the capital, with 12 hours and less electricity per day. That's going to be worse in the winter. So the NATO allies are looking at how do we get enough air defense in fast enough to save enough of this infrastructure.

BOLDUAN: Kim, David, great to see you guys. Thank you so much -- John.

BERMAN: All right. This morning, some economists are sounding the alarm about a new possible threat to the U.S. economy -- unemployment.

CNN's Matt Egan is with us now. So what has economists concerned here, Matt?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, for the past two-plus years it's been all about inflation. That's been the clear and present danger to the economy. Prices were skyrocketing and the Fed pumped all of this inflation-fighting medicine into the economy designed to get prices under control.

And the good news is that the rate of inflation has cooled substantially. Prices are no longer skyrocketing.