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House GOP Overwhelmingly Oppose Bannon Criminal Contempt Referral; Interview With Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD); Following The Money; 911 Call Reveals Chaotic Moments After Alec Baldwin Discharged Prop Firearm, One Crew Member Killed; Obama On Campaign Trail In Virginia And New Jersey, Telling Democrats To Vote Early; Facebook Papers Paint Damning Picture Of Company's Role On January 6th. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 23, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: And it looked like something out of a science fiction movie, but this giant two-ton sunfish -- you got to check this out -- was caught in real life off the coast of North Africa earlier this month. That's right. That's a fish.
After getting tangled in the nets of a tuna fishing boat, weighing an estimated 4,400 pounds, which is more than a car. Researchers had to use a crane to pull it out of the water. I'm surprised it didn't need two cranes.
But this enormous fish was more than 10 feet long, 9 feet wide. Researchers think it's part of the largest bony fish species in the world.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.
And we begin with a question we ask so often on this show. Why are so many Republicans opposed to getting to the bottom of the January 6th attack?
We saw it again this week when only nine House Republicans were willing to join with Democrats in voting to hold former Trump adviser, Steve Bannon, in contempt for refusing to testify or hand over documents to the January 6th committee.
So because we wanted answers and because a lot of Republicans don't want to come on the show, we went up to the Hill to find them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Can we just ask you why you decided not to vote in favor of holding him in contempt?
REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Because the entire commission is a sham set up from the beginning.
ACOSTA: What if you're back in the majority and you wish to subpoena? Does that mean people can just ignore them? ROY: But the premise is all wrong. I have no idea any of the debates
or discussions that have occurred in this committee. And it's based on a committee that was structured to be a political committee from the beginning.
That's how it was set up. That's the problem. You undermine the rule of law when you don't have the foundational principles to start with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: We were walking at a pretty fast clip there. That was Republican Congressman Chip Roy of Texas. Saying that the January 6 committee is a sham, but just a reminder, it was Republicans who blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the attack.
I also caught up with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. You may have heard there was some drama with her on the House floor after she confronted two members of the January 6th committee, Liz Cheney and Jamie Raskin, waving her hands and calling the vote on Steve Bannon a joke.
So I tried to ask the congresswoman about that moment and here's what she told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And what about the confrontation with Congresswoman Cheney? Why did that happen?
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): She's a traitor.
ACOSTA: She's a traitor?
ACOSTA: How can you say that?
GREENE: Pretty easy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: When we caught up with Greene a second time, she had more choice words for the January 6th committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: What was the rationale behind your vote?
GREENE: Rationale behind my vote is I'm not self-absorbed like the rest of these jerks here in Congress. They're all ignoring inflation. People can hardly buy food. Gas has gone up --
ACOSTA: But why call them jerks if you don't mind --
GREENE: Because they're self-absorbed. All they care about is Congress. They don't care about the American people, that they all --
ACOSTA: There was an attack on --
GREENE: All you want to talk about is your Trump derangement syndrome. And all you want to talk about is January 6th where there's a riot here.
ACOSTA: Why are you protecting Steve Bannon? Why protect Steve Bannon?
GREENE: Because I care about American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The interview ended soon after fellow Republican Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas walked into the middle of the conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): What's up? You doing ok? Let's get out of here.
ACOSTA: But not Steve Bannon.
GREENE: Hey, what about all the people that are rotting in jail? Why don't you worry about them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And that was the end of that.
Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland joins me now. He's a member of the Select Committee investigating January 6th.
Congressman, you had that run-in with Congresswoman Greene this week. She's calling Liz Cheney, a member of your committee, a traitor. Have you heard her call any of the Capitol rioters traitors? Was this some of the stuff she was saying to you on the floor the other day when talking about this Bannon contempt vote?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, it certainly captures the tenor of our conversation, Jim.
Look, let's start with this. Liz Cheney is a great constitutional patriot who is redeemed to the idea of constitutional patriotism, that is, holding your oath of office and your belief in the constitution above your loyalty to a political party. Or more importantly, a single individual who purports to speak for that entire party.
So she has demonstrated what fidelity to the constitution means. And those words about treason and traitorousness I'm afraid rebound on Marjorie Taylor Greene.
ACOSTA: And we just heard your colleague on the Republican side, Chip Roy, say that the select committee is undermining the rule of law. What's your response? I mean this is sort of the same talking points that you get from Republicans which is why --
RASKIN: You got it.
ACOSTA: -- you want to go up there. Yes.
RASKIN: I think you've got it. I mean what we're hearing now essentially is them taking our language to describe what they're doing, which is betraying the rule of law, trampling the rule of law to find subpoenas, violating the constitution. And they just put it out in the world as free floating ideas attacking us without it being tethered to any kind of factual predicate.
RASKIN: So the truth is that the bipartisan January 6 select committee has received tons of cooperation from lots of witnesses and lots of people who are doing their civic and legal duty by telling us everything they know about what happened on January 6th.
Then you have a handful of people and Steve Bannon, chief amongst them, who is simply defying the subpoena and thinks he's above the rule of law and obviously we're not going to have that. And the House of Representatives voted this week to refer information about him engaging in this criminal contempt to the U.S. attorney's office.
But it's not slowing us down for one minute. We continue to assemble voluminous lots of information about both the violent insurrection component and also what I call the political coup that is Donald Trump's coup against Vice President Mike Pence and against the Congress in order to block the counting of electoral college votes for the first time in American history.
ACOSTA: That last part that Donald Trump was essentially orchestrating a coup. Do you feel like you have the evidence to prove that at this point? You said you've been accumulating all of this voluminous evidence as you said a few moments ago. Is there enough to demonstrate at this point that that is in fact what the former president did?
RASKIN: Well, of course. Donald Trump was impeached for inciting a violent insurrection against the union and there was, well, a robust bipartisan effort in the Senate to vote to convict him for inciting violent insurrection. He beat the constitutional spread of two-thirds but you still had a super majority of the Senate, 57 senators from both parties voting to determine that he engaged in that conduct.
But the coup part of it, the evidence is coming very starkly into view. As everyone seems to know by now, Jeffrey Clark has been subpoenaed and we expect him to appear before the committee on Friday and he was obviously integrally involved in the plan to get the Department of Justice to cast doubt on Joe Biden's Electoral College vote majority and to undermine that majority and to block the certification of electors.
So we're very hot on the trail of this component of the events of January 6th.
ACOSTA: And CNN has learned your committee is focused on how events and people associated with January 6th were funded including the Stop the Steal rally is that then president Trump spoke at that day. What does that mean? Do you believe people may have been paid to break into the capitol?
Are you talking about -- are we just talking about the payment for bus rides and hotel rooms and that sort of thing?
RASKIN: Look, I know there's tremendous and intense interest across the country in what exactly we're finding and you know, bits and pieces of information may have leaked out in different ways.
But you know, I'm going to reserve judgment on our final conclusions until we get there and we're very eager to assemble all of this into a report to the American people. But I will say that you don't knock over the U.S. Capitol and wound 140 officers and storm the Capitol and lay a state of siege to the Congress without any money being behind it.
This was an expensive operation and lots of money was spent. Lots of money was raised and we do intend to get to the bottom of the financial dimension of this attack on American democracy.
ACOSTA: It does seem like Steve Bannon potentially knew what was going to happen on January 6th. Let's talk about what he said just the day before the insurrection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. Just understand this. All hell is going to break loose tomorrow. It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen, ok? It's going to be quite extraordinarily different. And all I can say is strap in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: What do you think Steve Bannon knew and do you think, Congressman, that you will get him in front of your committee? In front of the cameras? In front of the American people at some point?
RASKIN: Well, I've got no doubt that he's going to have to comply with the law like everybody else who is subpoenaed by a court in the land or subpoenaed by congress. So I'm really quite confident of that.
But he obviously knew a lot. He was speaking there as an insider from a position of authority and inside knowledge. He assured us that all hell was going break loose. It was not going to be what anybody dreamed of.
RASKIN: Of course, we were all focused on the parliamentary back and forth. The attempts to object lawfully to the casting of electors from particular states, but what he was indicating was that the outside lawless violent attack on congress would be coordinated with both of the legitimate parliamentary maneuvers, but also the lawless attack on Mike Pence. The attempt to coerce him to declare lawless powers to reject Electoral College votes.
And there was also apparently an effort to suggest to the president that he declare martial law, that he invoke the insurrection act. And that he create a formal state of siege in the country.
So all of these different components, we're trying to figure out how they were coordinated and how they were part of a general plan to destabilize American democracy and overthrow the lawful presidential election result.
I will just say that we came way too close for my taste to a coup, an insurrection, and an overthrow of American constitutional democracy. And I'm glad that we've got a very strong, powerful, bipartisan committee that's determined to get to the truth even though we have people attempting to block us at every turn.
ACOSTA: Yes. And there's a lot of reporting just coming out about what may have been going on at the Willard Hotel here in Washington. That there were meetings going on involving Trump aides, Trump allies, people like Steve Bannon.
Is your committee digging into that? Trying to get to the bottom of what was going on at the Willard Hotel, of all places?
RASKIN: Well, every insurrection needs a headquarters. That is part of our charge, too, to determine not just who were the foot soldiers, but who were the generals and the lieutenants and how exactly all of this was coordinated.
And so again, it doesn't surprise me that a lot of money was spent at the hotels for conference space and areas for people to organize and coordinate all of the different activity on the ground and behind the scenes to pressure senators and representatives and of course, Mike Pence.
And you know, I heard with my own ears, them chanting "Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence." That's a pretty extraordinary thing for a pro-Trump crowd to be chanting hang Mike Pence. You've got to wonder who would give the green light for that to be the signal to the crowd.
And to me, it just seems unlikely that any of that focus would be taking place against Mike Pence unless it came from the top, and of course, Donald Trump continued to tweet all the way through the afternoon, his denunciation of Mike Pence and his failure of courage and his cowardice to do the right thing in Trump's estimation.
ACOSTA: And this week on CNN, you said the nation came as close to fascism as we ever want to come. What happens if Trump runs again? What happens in the hypothetical 2024 scenario that people have talked about extensively.
I'm sure you heard this yourself. Talked about it yourself that a GOP- held congress still under the grip of Trump, refusing to certify a Democratic presidential victory if that were to occur in 2024.
RASKIN: Well, the 2022 congressional election is of a fundamental importance for this reason because it will determine who is sitting in Congress likely when the 2024 presidential rolls around.
I mean, if we had GOP majorities in the House and Senate in 2020 that were under the thumb of Donald Trump the way they are now, we could have had a very different result. So that's a terrifying prospect from the standpoint of electoral democracy in our presidential elections.
I mean the Electoral College creates enough problems as it is but if there are people who are going to try to exploit every phase of the Electoral College process to turn it into another partisan referendum, we're really up the creek and so there are things that we should do to try to formalize the fact that the vice president's role is a ministerial and ceremonial one regardless of which party is in power and that we don't overthrow the popular results of elections in the states that come up with results that are more to the liking of a particular candidate or the congress.
ACOSTA: Right. You can't have the vice president be sort of this you know, super executive, you know, power who can just sort of throw election results out willy-nilly.
All right. Congressman Jamie Raskin.
RASKIN: The vice president would be essentially appointing the president.
ACOSTA: Right, exactly. And you just can't have a situation like that in this country. Congressman Jamie Raskin, thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
RASKIN: My pleasure.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
Decades after the phrase, "follow the money", became part of the national lexicon, the January 6th Committee is doing just that. Trying to untangle the web of financial ties around Stop the Steal rallies.
We'll get reaction from someone who knows what's it's like to follow the money. Watergate legendary reporter Carl Bernstein joins me live.
ACOSTA: And live pictures from New Jersey where former President Barack Obama is set to speak. He's at another rally for Democrats in that state to vote early in these key races. That's coming up.
ACOSTA: You're looking at live pictures from Newark, New Jersey where former President Barack Obama is expected to speak at any moment. He's there to campaign for Governor Phil Murphy who's running for re- election. We'll take the event live as soon as the former President takes the stage there.
Follow the money, that's what the House Select Committee investigating January 6th is doing. They're setting their sights on the financing behind the people associated with the day's events including that pro- Trump Stop the Steal rally where then President Trump spoke.
Joining us, the famed journalist whose legendary reporting for the "Washington Post" helped bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon, Carl Bernstein. Carl, great to see you. Thanks so much.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good to be with you.
ACOSTA: Good to be with you. To this day, anyone who's seen "All The President's Men" obviously remembers the key line, "follow the money".
We were just talking to Congressman Jamie Raskin a few moments ago. It does sound as though the financial trail -- you know, financing, bankrolling, whatever these insurrectionists were up to in the days leading up to it, where they were staying, how they were getting there and so on -- might be important to all of this.
BERNSTEIN: Well, that's what part of the power of a congressional investigation is all about. It's to subpoena and obtain the documents and evidence of whether there is money spent, where it went, who funded it, and what did it fund.
And of course, in the case of Nixon where we first at the "Washington Post" were able to follow the money trail and then the Senate Watergate Committee followed the money trail and it established beyond any doubt that the conspiracy to undermine the constitution of the United States and subvert the electoral process by the president of the United States was a massive conspiracy led by Richard Nixon and his aides closest to him.
So if we look now, trying to nail down those corners, but we are also looking at what we already know to be a massive conspiracy led by the president of the United States and his aides and his lawyers to undermine, to have a coup, undermine the American electoral process in a way that exceeds that of Watergate.
Really what we saw was the president of the United States in an act of civil war against the United States. We haven't seen anything like this by a president of the United States in our history.
You have to go back 160 years to the civil war. People like Jefferson Davis who declared war on America.
And that's what Donald Trump has done here. He has decided and we see it in the evidence and we see it in Bannon and what Bannon did and what we know from the record already.
Look, Donald Trump is not capable organizationally of running a conspiracy in the minutia, but we know he wanted those results. He wanted the coup. He demanded the coup. And what we have now is a conspiracy led by the president of the United States such as we have never seen in our history to undermine who we are as a democracy.
ACOSTA: Is Trump in a better position than Nixon was in the sense that those around him are even more loyal than what we saw during Watergate it seems and remain so to this day?
BERNSTEIN: No. Trump is in a better position because the Republican Party has become craven, has become an instrument of his own contempt for the constitution of the United States. The Republican Party has enabled and participated in this massive cover up of what happened on January 6th.
We have the speaker -- pardon me -- the minority leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy and of the Senate, Senator McConnell, with no interest whatsoever in investigating an insurrection such as we saw on January 6th? Complained that this congressional investigation is partisan when in fact they assured there would be no huge bipartisan investigation has happened in Watergate.
In Watergate, there was a unanimous vote by the Senate of the United States, unanimous. To investigate what happened in the election of 1972. McConnell, Kevin McCarthy ensured there would not be a similar investigation so we're left with what this House committee is doing with real due diligence.
ACOSTA: And given the experience you have, Carl, covering these types of scandals for so many years, do you think that the Justice Department, that the attorney general will proceed with some sort of criminal contempt charge that would force Bannon to testify before the committee? Do you think that will happen?
BERNSTEIN: I don't know because I haven't talked to the attorney general and those closest to him are not saying but there are even bigger questions for the attorney general of the United States including whether or not there should be a special counsel appointed to look into what happened in this act of insurrection, in this attack on the United States. In this act of civil war that extends to the president himself.
We need a real investigation of this and if the Republicans were to win the House of Representatives, their intent -- in a year from now -- their intent is to shut down this investigation that is led by Jamie Raskin and the others and by Liz Cheney.
BERNSTEIN: So we need to find out what happened and something in our history that if left to stand, you know, we have General Milley and Jamie Raskin just used the word fascism. It is a really ugly word and it's been thrown around recklessly by the left in the 1950s and the 60s perhaps too much.
But it's General Milley, most important military man in America. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who a number of weeks ago started saying out loud that what we saw on January 6th was Hitlerian. What we saw were "brown shirts", to use his words, for the mob that attacked the Capitol. We need to look at all these elements at what is happening in our country in the name of Trumpism and the movement and a Republican Party that is willing and 40 percent -- 45 percent of the voters in America willing to go along with the outrages that are comparable to the secessionist movement that Jefferson Davis led 160 years ago. But Jefferson Davis he was not the president of the United States.
ACOSTA: And the vice president this time around is not Mike Pence, but it does boggle the mind what you're saying, Carl.
Carl Bernstein, thanks for that excellent analysis as always. We appreciate it.
BERNSTEIN: Good to be with you.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
Coming up, a newly-uncovered interview reveals the armorer on the set of Alec Baldwin's film expressing doubts about her relative lack of experience just one month before tragedy would strike.
ACOSTA: We're learning new details about the tragic movie set shooting with Alec Baldwin, who mistakenly shot a crew member with what was supposed to be an unloaded gun.
According to an affidavit, Baldwin fired what he believed to be a safe prop gun not knowing there were live rounds inside. The shot killed cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director, Joe Souza.
The 911 call revealing the chaotic moments in the immediate aftermath. Let's take a listen
(BEGIN AUDIO FEED)
911 OPERATOR: What's the location of the emergency?
CALL: Bonanza Creek Ranch. We've had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by prop gun.
911 OPERATOR: So was it loaded with a real bullet?
CALLER: I don't -- I cannot tell you that. We have two injuries from a movie gun shot.
911 OPERATOR: OK. We're getting them out there already.
(END AUDIO FEED)
ACOSTA: CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the latest. Lucy, what else are we learning in this investigation?
LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the affidavit has new details about how the weapon ended up in Baldwin's hands.
We understand the team was inside of a structure on the film set, "Rust", trying to practice, trying to practice to film for this movie.
Outside of the structure, the head armorer, the person in charge of weapon safety on movie sets, had placed three prop weapons on a cart. We understand the affidavit names her as Hannah Gutierrez.
We know from the affidavit that the assistant director picked up one of the prop guns. He walked inside, handing it to Mr. Baldwin, shouting "cold gun," which meant that weapon should not have had any live rounds inside it. We all know what happened afterwards.
It's not clear where the head armorer was during this incident. Hannah Gutierrez is 24 years old. She was trained by her father, the legendary gunsmith, Thell Reed, who started training her when she was 16 years old.
She graduated college a year ago and this was her second time working as head armorer on a production. She worked on another film, "The Old Way," with Nicolas Cage.
And gave an interview about this experience on a podcast that aired in September in which she cared concerns about her ability to do the job.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNAH GUTIERREZ (voice-over): I was really nervous about it at first and I almost didn't take the job because I wasn't sure if I was ready. But doing it, like, it went really smoothly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAFANOV: She also mentioned in the podcast that she found the experience of loading blanks into a gun, quote, "the scariest experience ever."
Because she didn't know how to do it. She had to get help from her dad in figuring that out.
It doesn't indicate what happened on the set of "Rust," but it is a worrying development -- Jim?
ACOSTA: No question.
The "L.A. Times" is reporting that several crew members had safety concerns before the shooting. What can you tell us about that?
KAFANOV: Yes, several concerns. Prior to Thursday's incident, crew members, at least a few, reportedly quit the production over these safety concerns.
Some were about things like long hours, difficult working conditions, lax COVID safety protocols, but some were also about gun safety measures.
Now this was a low budget film, we understand. Crew members were upset with the long hours, the fact they had to stay in Albuquerque and drive 50 minutes each way.
But specifically about the gun protocols, several sources told "The Los Angeles Times" they were concerned that safety protocols for the weapon were not strictly followed.
In fact, three crew members who were onset Saturday, told the "L.A. Times" there were two accidental prop gun discharges. This was last Saturday before this deadly incident took place.
Obviously, authorities are investigating everything. We've been told by the sheriffs they're combing the property as we speak. They don't expect to update the public before Monday -- Jim?
ACOSTA: Lucy Kafanov, thanks very much for that update. We appreciate it.
Coming up, you're looking at live pictures now from New Jersey. Former President Barack Obama is bringing his star power back to the campaign trial. Will that be enough to boost two big candidates in both New Jersey and Virginia in the home stretch to Election Day?
ACOSTA: It's a jam-packed day on the campaign trail for former President Barack Obama. At any moment, he will take the stage in Newark, New Jersey.
You're looking at live pictures now where Obama's going to try to get out the vote early for Governor Phil Murphy who's running for re- election there.
Obama is trying to give Democrats some momentum in key gubernatorial races in New Jersey and in Virginia where he was on stage this afternoon alongside Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe.
There, the former president accused Republicans of trying to rig elections. And he had this reason for why they would do that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And if you've got good ideas, people will flock to your ideas.
But that's not what they try to do. Instead, you're trying to rig elections because the truth is people disagree with your ideas.
And when that doesn't work, you start fabricating lies and conspiracy theories about the last election. The one you didn't win. That's not how democracy's supposed to work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: CNN's Athena Jones is here with us now from Newark where Obama's expected to speak at any moment.
Athena, if the Virginia rally was any indication, I think you're going to hear some lines you may recall. as a former Obama reporter yourself. What can you tell us about what we should expect?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jim. This is something that President Obama relishes, being out on the campaign trial.
And we know that the governor's race in New Jersey and Virginia are the only two elections ahead of the midterms and they're seen as what Democrats might face in 2022. This event is meant to mark the start of early voting.
This is the first time in history that New Jersey voters are able to go to the polls early. It starts today. Ends on October 31st.
Early voting has been incredibly popular among Democrats. They're hoping to encourage everyone here, who hasn't already voted, to go and vote early in person. And the idea is to bank as many votes as you can.
We are in Essex County. The county with the most Democratic voters. In fact, Democrats outnumber Republicans here by five to one. They're really trying to rev up this crowd.
This is a diverse crowd. Newark is a diverse city, 50 percent black, 30 percent Hispanic. Murphy did well among blacks and Hispanics. That's why President Obama is here to try to rev up this crowd.
I did speak to someone familiar with President Obama's plan and what his message will be today.
He said having folks like Phil Murphy to be elected, to be partner beside Biden and other Democratic governors, this is the only way to make progress on big issues of concern to Democrats.
Things like voting rights. Things like economic inequality. Fixing economic inequality. Racial justice. Climate change.
So he's going to make the case that Murphy's record means he deserves to be re-elected.
One point we've heard from several other speakers today is, Phil Murphy, if he wins, will be the first Democrat to win re-election since the '70s, in about 40 years. So it's a big deal.
But this is what we're hearing. Get out and vote. People have been able to get out and vote by mail early. But in-person voting is new here in New Jersey.
So the whole idea and goal of this event is to drive people to the polls before the election a little over a week from now -- Jim?
ACOSTA: And there are going to be such important elections. Such a bellwether for what we're going to be expecting to see in 2022.
And Democrats are pulling out -- this is the biggest gun that they can pull out in the final days of this, Barack Obama.
ACOSTA: All right, Athena Jones, thank you so much. We appreciate it. Nice to see you.
Coming up, what some people inside Facebook were saying about the company's culpability leading up to the January 6th attack.
Plus, Lisa Ling exposes the good and bad of legalized sex work. Watch an all-new episode of "THIS IS LIFE" with Lisa Ling tomorrow night at 10:00 on CNN.
ACOSTA: Just days after violent insurrectionists stormed the capitol on January 6th, Facebook downplayed its role in what happened.
But now, internal documents reviewed by CNN reveal how the social media company fell short in shutting down the so-called Stop the Steal movement and only swung into action after the movement turned violent.
CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has more.
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): On January 6th, Facebook executives condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol. But internally, some employees began to push back. Facebook, they suggested, was culpable.
One writing an internal Facebook company chat, "All due respect, but haven't we had enough time to figure out how to manage discourse without enabling violence. We've been fueling this fire for a long time and we shouldn't be surprised it's now out of control."
Another wrote, they were tired of thoughts and prayers from Facebook leadership.
There were dozens of Stop the Steal groups active up until yesterday another Facebook employee responded.
(CHANTING) O'SULLIVAN: Stop the Steal, the conspiracy theory movement that helped fuel the insurrection, had been organizing on Facebook for months.
(on-camera): How did you guys hear about this event today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Through Facebook.
O'SULLIVAN: Facebook events, Instagram? How did you hear about it?
SCOTT PRESLER, STOP THE STEAL ORGANIZER: Yes. Well, I created a Facebook event for yesterday's event. And I posted after the fact that we were again coming today. I will be again making another event in regard to tomorrow.
JOAN DONOVAN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, HARVARD SHORENSTEIN CENTNER ON MEDIA, POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY: Facebook provided the fundamental coordinating infrastructure. They were sharing ride share information. They were sharing resources.
They were talking about, you know, what they were going to wear and if they were going to have Trump flags.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): We now know that an internal Facebook report describes the company's attempts to crack down and Stop the Steal as piecemeal.
That document leaked by Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who spent her final months at the company photographing thousands of internal documents and company chat logs.
DONOVAN: These documents are vindication that what we've been saying as a field has been true all along, and that Facebook knows it and could take action on it and decides not to.
LAWRENCE LESSIG, ADVISOR TO FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER FRANCES HAUGEN: For many years, people have been talking about the Facebook effect, what Facebook is doing to culture to society to politics.
But we didn't really know from data from Facebook, whether these theories were true.
What Frances has given us is an extraordinary archive of material that helps us see exactly what's going on and what they know is going on.
And it is the biggest and most important contribution to understanding this incredibly important problem that we've ever had.
O'SULLIVAN: The leaked documents, many just becoming public and were given to a consortium of news organizations, including CNN, formed the basis of a complaint to the SEC.
Where Haugen alleges the company "misled investors and the public about its role perpetuating misinformation and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6th insurrection." (on-camera): Facebook executives, like Nick Clegg, will say it's unfair to blame Facebook for the insurrection.
DONOVAN: It's a red herring to say people are blaming Facebook for the entire thing. That's not what's happening here.
And you can't, at the same time, be Facebook and trying to take responsibility and being very proud of all the organizing work that you've helped Black Lives Matter do or the Occupy Movements or Standing Rock.
You can't take credit for all of that, and then say, oh, that thing called the insurrection, we had nothing to do with that.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Another revelation from the documents, an internal memo, including details of a Facebook staffer setting up a test account to see what Facebook's algorithms were recommending to users.
(on camera): In 2019, a Facebook employee sets up an account designed to look like a 41-year-old conservative mom living in North Carolina.
Her name is Carolyn Smith. She likes a few pages. She likes Trump. She likes Fox News. But in a week, she's getting a QAnon recommendation.
I saw in there, that after three weeks, there was actually a recommendation for a page that was the Three Percenters, the militia, self-described militia involved in the insurrection.
LESSIG: Yes. No. I mean, again, we've suspected this dynamic.
LESSIG: What's striking about what Frances has revealed, is that we now know that Facebook itself saw this precisely.
So these are like potato chips that they feed to somebody who's got a potato chip addiction.
And that is the reality of the platform. It is an addiction engine. And it profits, the more it can manipulate us to consume what we want to consume most.
O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, New York.
ACOSTA: Our thanks to Donie for that report.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of "CNN Heroes." And we're checking in with many of our past honorees who continue to make a difference.
Razia Jan was recognized for courageously educating native girls in Afghanistan. Her school had grown to more than 800 students when the Taliban suddenly took control this past August. Now her life's work is at risk.
CNN's Anderson Cooper takes a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAZIA JAN, CNN HERO: Which country would fall in 11 days? It took 20 years for women to stand and be recognized. And to see that it, it was awful.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Under the Taliban's all-male government, women have already lost ground.
While they're still permitted at some universities and segregated classes, girls cannot attend secondary schools until so-called security rules are evolved.
COOPER: Young girls grade six and younger are still in school for now. Razia said she's determined to build on that.
JAN: I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see these girls in the courtyard playing and also in the classroom and trying to learn. It's just amazing.
I have great support in the community. And the girls, they want to learn. That gives me hope.
Maybe it won't be the same, but we can do something to educate these girls because I'm not going to give in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Next Friday, we'll be announcing this year's top-10 "CNN Heroes" on "NEW DAY," at 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Find out more on CNNheroes.com.
That's the news for this Saturday. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. See you back here tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Pamela Brown takes over the CNN NEWSROOM, live, after a quick break.
Have a good night.