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Virginia Candidate Downplays Remark About Biden; Committee Hopes to View Trump-Era Documents Soon; Whistleblower Drives Bipartisan Support in Big Tech; Taiwan President: Island Won't Bow to Beijing's Pressure; Xi Vows to Pursue Peaceful Reunification with Taiwan; Pro-EU Rallies as Fears Grow Poland Might Leave Bloc; Why "Squid Game" has Become Netflix's Newest Hit. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 04:30   ET




JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: If there's one thing that comes through about Terry McAuliffe's comments, is that he frustrated. It's a frustration shared by many Democrats in similar situations, around the country, due to the president's low polling numbers. For Terry McAuliffe, of course, it's a different issue simply because he comes from Virginia, he's a former governor from Virginia and it's a state that has been trending blue over the past several years. This race is also considered a bell weather looking forward towards the midterm elections. Add all of that up, Terry McAuliffe ended up venting on a call with supporters. Listen.

TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), CANDIDATE FOR VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington. As you know, the president is unpopular today unfortunately here in Virginia so we have got to plow through.

JOHNS (voice-over): On Sunday, on "STATE OF THE UNION," CNN's Dana Bash asked Terry McAuliffe about what he had to say. Listen.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: As you well know, you're talking about the Democratic president you helped elect.


BASH: And Democratic-controlled Congress.


BASH: So, you're frustrated with your own party. Are they dragging you down?

MCAULIFFE: You bet I'm frustrated.

BASH: Are they dragging you down?

MCAULIFFE: It's not dragging me down. I worry about the people of Virginia.

BASH: But in your race.

MCAULIFFE: Who want family medical leave for one.

BASH: Are they making it harder for you?

MCAULIFFE: You know, hard or not, I mean, people understand what I'm doing, my plans, my 20 big plans to take Virginia to the next level so they're going to vote for me. But there is frustration all over the country. We just want action.

JOHNS: So, what does the White House have to say about the drop in the president's poll numbers? Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on COVID and the Delta variant and the spillover effect between the pandemic, the labor market and the economy.

Joe Johns, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


SOARES: Now a whistleblower identified as a former high-ranking U.S. Capitol Police official is slamming the department's leadership before, during, as well as after the January 6th insurrection. In a 16-page letter to Congress, the official claims the assistant chief and acting assistant chief didn't share vital intelligence and didn't help officers once the violence began. And the official claims the two leaders have suffered no consequences since the Capitol Police executive team, which is the to accuse leaders, said there was more work to do but a lot has changed since January 6.

Meanwhile, the House committee investigating the insurrection is hoping to review documents from the Trump administration soon. The White House notified the National Archives it is allowing an initial batch of documents to be shared with the committee and will not assert executive privilege. The committee has also subpoenaed top Trump aides to hand over documents and testify. Take a listen.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We should, I think, get those documents soon because the sitting president has the primary say on executive privilege. But we also want to make sure these witnesses come in and testify. And we are prepared to go forward and urge the Justice Department to criminally prosecute anyone who does not do their lawful duty.


SOARES: And we are following growing bipartisan support on Capitol Hill to rein in big Tech companies like Facebook. Last week's whistleblower's testimony -- if you remember -- generated the new course to push for new regulations. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux reports now from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Despite Nick Clegg's appearances on multiple political morning shows defending Facebook's practices. Including the suggestion that Facebook couldn't possibly know whether its algorithm to pushed to popular content, helped inspire the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6. Members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, are having none of it.

Tuesday the Senate commerce subcommittee on consumer protection heard all they needed to hear from Facebook's whistleblower. In her testimony about how its own research showed it allegedly had a toxic effect on teen girls, stoked division and spread misinformation.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who I've covered over the years, has been leading the charge on this issue going after big social media, calling for greater regulations and accountability. She is fed up and earlier she said on CNN, Congress is ready to act.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I appreciate that he is willing to talk about things but I believe the time for conversation is done and a time for action is now. Basically, for so long the social media companies have been saying, and the other tech platforms, trust us. We've got this. Well, look where we are now.

You know, the guy down the street tells me his mother-in-law won't get the vaccine because she read online on social media that it would implant a microchip in her arm. We know that the majority of the people that are getting vaccines read stuff on these platforms. We know about the violent content.


MALVEAUX: So, what can Congress do? Is a rare bipartisan effort. Republican Senator John Thune has sponsored several measures to create transparency that would give the public and policy makers more understanding of how algorithms work and pushing content to users.

Democrats want to strengthen privacy and competition laws, bolster online protections for children, get full access to research data to create new rules and standards to address consumer harms and illegal content. And limit protections for Facebook and other companies for the actions of their users. The whistleblower is calling for an independent government agency to audit the impact of social media. Senators say what's next, possibly a hearing on Facebook's impact on national security.

And if you catch "Saturday Night Live", they had a whole parody on the whistleblower testimony, so it's not just in the sterile halls of Congress where this is being debated.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN in Washington.


SOARES: Now China is lashing out at Taiwan's president saying her speech during the island's National Day celebration distorted facts and incited violence. The president Tsai Ing-wen spoke Sunday amid heightened tensions with Beijing, saying the self-governing island will defend its democratic way of life and won't bow to pressure. This came one day after China's president vowed to pursue a peaceful reunification with Taiwan. Take a listen.


XI JINPING, CHINESE PRESIDENT (through translator): No one should under estimate the resolve, the will and the ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The complete reunification of our country will be and can be realized.

TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We hope for an easing of cross trade relations and will not act rashly. But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure.


SOARES: Well, CNN's Ivan Watson is tracking developments and joins me now from Hong Kong. And Ivan, this is really tough rhetoric coming from both sides really. Put it into context for us just how worried is the region by these tensions, which are clearly, as we just pointed out, clearly are intensifying here.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as Taiwan was celebrating its National Day on Sunday -- which Beijing basically argues it has no right to do, because China views Taiwan as a breakaway region of its own territory and denies it any declaration of sovereignty. The Chinese military flew three warplanes -- according to the Taiwanese ministry of defense -- into Taiwan's air defense identification zone.

So, while Xi Jinping has been calling for peaceful reunification, there have also been considerable displays of military might coming from China earlier last week. Record numbers of warplanes flying into this air defense identification zone, being warned away by Taiwanese air defenses.

Meanwhile, the Taiwanese president responding to Xi Jinping effectively saying, we are not going to become part of the rest of China because we want to maintain our democratic freedoms. She described Taiwan as a frontline in the democratic defense against growing authoritarianism around the world. Take a listen to what else she said.


TSAI ING-WEN (through translator): Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us. This is because the path China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan nor sovereignty of our 23 million people.


WATSON (on camera): The Chinese government is accusing her of provocative statements with a speech like that. It insists that anybody who is against reuniting Taiwan with China is against the tide of history. Denying basically the fact that the President of Taiwan is democratically elected and Taiwan has a multi-party system and tolerates a free press. Unlike mainland China which is ruled by the Communist Party.

One final fact, this break away didn't just happen. Taiwan's been governing itself since 1949. The ruling Communist Party in mainland China has never controlled Taiwan for a single day. Back to you.

SOARES: Important contexts there from Ivan Watson in Hong Kong. Thanks very much, Ivan.

Coming up, a show of unity with the European Union. A brewing legal fight to see Poland leave the EU. But huge crowds are demanding to remain in the bloc.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe we can ever leave Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came here because we don't want our future to be ruined by nationalists.




SOARES: Now this just in to CNN, London's Metropolitan Police say they are no further action against Prince Andrew following a review sparked by Jeffrey Epstein accuser. Police say they would look at the accusations for 1/3 time after Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's alleged victims filed a lawsuit in the U.S. The suit accuses Prince Andrew of forcing her of having sex when she was under age. A claim which he's always denied. Authorities said a short time ago -- and I'm quoting here.

As a matter of procedure, MPS officers reviewed a document lease in August 2021 as part of a U.S. civil action. This review has concluded and we are taking no further action.

Now there is a legal fight brewing between Poland and the European Union and many in Poland are now taking to streets to show really where they stand. Take a look at this. Massive crowds really are rallying behind the European Union as fears are growing Poland could eventually split with the bloc. Organizers say protests were held in dozens of cities across Poland on Sunday with as many as 100,000 people turning out in Warsaw alone. That picture -- those videos you saw there was from Warsaw.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins me with more. And Fred, the protests we displayed -- we showed our viewers -- are mostly pro-European Union. How real then is the fear of actually Poland leaving the EU because of this incompatible law? FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I

think, Isa, that among the opposition or among many people who support the opposition -- and one of the things that we always have to keep in mind is that Poland right now politically is a very deeply divided country between the conservative and more liberal forces. And among the liberals, who are in the opposition, they do fear that perhaps the government in the long term at least might want to break with the European Union. They call it "Polexit."

Now the government itself has said that it has no plans to do that. However, there have been things that have really alarm the opposition recently.


Things where even the European Union says that some of the actions by the Polish government are not in line with the laws of the European Union. For instance, the way that they treat the free press. Also, the courts apparently -- or the courts that have been reformed which many say are not in line with the independence of the justice system within the European Union.

And then of course, this latest verdict as well where the Polish Constitutional Court has said -- or has questioned the primacy of European law which of course is something that European Union countries have signed up to. And a lot of people did go protest especially in the western Polish or mostly western Polish big sort of population centers like Warsaw, like the Gdansk, like Poznan. Listen to what some of the folks who were there had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we want to stay in the European Union because we feel stronger and we hope there will be more prosperity if we are in.


PLEITGEN: So, you can see some fear there on the ground in some of these Polish population centers that the government could be plotting to leave the European Union. Again, the Polish Prime Minister did say that there are no plans, absolutely no plans to do that. They said that is all ploy by the opposition they have nothing else to talk about, as he put it -- Isa.

SOARES: Right, OK, well, keep us posted, Fred, on this legal fight there. Thanks very much, appreciate it, Fred.

Now polls are closed in Iraq and the preliminary results in the country's parliamentary election are expected in the coming hours. We are hearing the turnout was low despite a push from protesters to hold these elections early.

CNN's Sam Kiley joins me now live from Abu Dhabi. And Sam, I know we expect the first results in a few hours. But voter turnout was pretty low and I suspect a sign of dwindling trust in its leaders. Talk us through what we can expect here -- Sam.

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, first thing is that it's not as low as it was first being reported. Initial indications were that the turnout was as low as 20 percent. Those figures have now been revised by the Iraqi electoral commission up to 41 percent, 3 percent, 3.5 percent down on the previous election.

Of course, these are very important elections as you know, Isa, because they were called early by Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi under pressure from those massive demonstrations that rocked central and southern Iraq in in particular, in 2019. A lot of young people turned out for those demonstrations demanding an end to the rein in influence, to the end to corruption and an expansion of unemployment and other economic opportunities.

Those saying people don't appear though to have turned out in any numbers for these elections which experts believe will largely continue to reflect the sectarian nature of Iraqi politics with very large Shia blocks -- a large block of Shia votes likely to go to parties very closely aligned with Iran. Possibly the largest block though of Shia voters -- possibly the largest block of all voters going to Moqtada Al Sadr's Shia movement. He's opposed to Iran. But the rest of the dispensation very unlikely to change -- Isa.

SOARES: Sam Kiley, do keep us posted. Sam Kiley there for us in Abu Dhabi. Thanks, Sam.

Now Netflix has a new hit show that everyone is really talking about. "Squid Game" is taking the world by storm and it's paving the way for other Korean content. We have the details for you just ahead.

[04:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) SOARES: Now Netflix has a show which portrays a kind of economic hunger games could be its biggest hit yet. And as Paula Hancocks tells us it's one of the many Korean and TV productions that are all the rage right now right around the world.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On social media these images are everywhere. On television --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down here with the cast of "Squid Games."

HANCOCKS (voice-over): -- everyone is talking about it. Amazon's Jeff Bezos tweeted I can't wait to watch the show. Already hitting number 1 in 90 different countries on Netflix. "Squid Game" is a South Korean TV show where 456 debt ridden contestants competes in childlike games for a prize of nearly $40 million. But the penalty for losing is death. Show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has wanted to make this show for more than a decade but studios rejected it.

HWANG DONG-HYUK, "SQUID GAME" CREATOR (through translator): When I showed it to people a lot of them said that it was unfamiliar. It's strange and unfamiliar. What is this? What the hell is this? They said it in negative ways.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): South Korea already has a strong film industry with deep talent pool and large, profitable studios. But the TV shows were predominantly romantic soap operas until Netflix arrived.

DONG-HYUK (through translator): I suddenly thought, will I be able to bring this show to life, as I wanted, if Netflix is involved? I took that script from 10 years ago and showed it to them. Netflix said they loved it.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Netflix says it has already invested some $2 billion on Asian content and will invest another half a billion on making new Korean content alone this year.

MINYOUNG KIM, VICE PRESIDENT CONTENT, NETFLIX: I think in the past couple of years we've seen Korean content viewing grow four times in the region.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This is a golden age of Korean cultural exports. One win after another. Music, films, TV shows. "Hanlyu" or Korean wave, and it's swept far beyond Asia where it's been popular for the past two decades. Hwang says that this show's message resonates around the world.

DONG-HYUK (through translator): The world is getting much harder to live in. Even in the last ten years wealth disparate is growing. Nations are facing economic strife in the added element of the COVID pandemic has made the wealth gap even worse.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Central disparity mirrored and Oscar-winning Korean film "Parasite." Film experts say that content from South Korea with its turbulent history, have war and military dictatorship traditionally carries a strong political message.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Media is not just entertainment like in the United States or in the West. Media has been a very important tool for political enlightenment or political resistance.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): But it's not all politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is still relatively cheap to produce dramas in South Korea compared in America. In the "Squid Game" each episode costs less than $2 million which is half of the prize Netflix invested in each episode of "House of Cards."

HANCOCKS (voice-over): The younger generation is far much more open to foreign language content.

JASON BECHERVAISE, PROFESSOR OF ENTERTAINMENT SOONGSIL CYBER UNIVERSITY: If you look at -- they say watch "Parasite." If a big number of the kind of audiences -- or the audience that went to see "Parasite" in the United States was younger people. And they've been really keen to kind of break that one inch subtitle barrier.

HANCOCKS: The success of "Squid Game" is already helping other Asian content to trend on Netflix while other streaming platforms are looking to replicate this enormous success.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


SOARES: Thanks very much, Paula.

Well, for you chocolate lovers, another version of Willy Wonka is in production. Timothee Chalamet is sharing a first look from an upcoming origin story. He posted a photo of himself on Instagram in the starring role of movie set to be released in 2023. The movie will tell the story of Willy Wonka before he opened his famous chocolate factory.

And that does it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Isa Soares. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett is coming up next. Do stay right here with CNN. Have a wonderful Monday, bye-bye.