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Jan 6th Committee Reaches Out To Trump's Former DHS Officials; Biden White House Rejects Another Trump Executive Privilege Request; WAPO: Facebook Prioritized Angry Emoji Posts, Fostering Rage; Rep. Lori Trahan (D-MA) Discusses Congress Weighing How To Regulate Big Tech Amid Facebook Firestorm & Biden's Build Back Better Agenda; Investigators Mistook Brian Laundrie's Mother For Him During Surveillance; Soon, Biden Heads To Virginia To Campaign For Gov. Candidate McAuliffe. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired October 26, 2021 - 14:30   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Because after they've seen Steve Bannon flout the rule of law, and at the moment, face no harsh consequences, why should they feel that they should comply with this House committee?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, Alisyn, the overwhelming number of people who appear before Congress do so voluntarily.

They have a huge incentive to do so because they have leverage over the committee if they're appearing on their own terms.

They can negotiate things like the length of their testimony, the time of their appearance, how many lawyers are in the room, how many staff are in the room.

If they make it a fight and get subpoenaed, they lose all of that.

And then the committee can tell them not only do we want you to come in for a private meeting, no, we're actually going to have you come in under oath for a public hearing in front of all the cameras.

So, it's very much in virtually any witness's interest to negotiate the terms and appear voluntarily.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: You know, it also kind of reconfirms, although we talk a lot, justifiably, about Steve Bannon shirking the subpoena and not handing over records, that this committee knows a lot more than they are sharing publicly.

And they're getting a lot of incoming information that could actually kind of target where they want to go in this investigation, especially with Bannon.

WILLIAMS: Yes. And moreover, Victor, you know, in any investigation, you're not going to get everybody to talk to you on the -- to the extent that you want them to. Talking to people around them, both under them and over them in the

chain of command, can help fill in the story.

Look, at the end of the day, next spring or whatever, this committee is going to issue a major report.

And even if it doesn't have the testimony of Steve Bannon or other people involved in it or interviews with them, there are going to be related individuals in the White House who are going to be able to provide a significant amount of information.

Now, I don't want to suggest that Steve Bannon's -- anything he would provide would not be central or important here. But there's a lot of people that work in that White House and any number of them are going to speak to the committee.

CAMEROTA: There's another development, and that is that President Biden has refused to exert executive privilege to protect some of the documents that President Trump wants to keep private.

Why -- why would President Biden help facilitate handing those over? I mean, he, too, wants to get to the answers of what went on in the Trump administration.

WILLIAMS: You know, there's a little bit of a dance for the president here, because, yes, he and the administration has an interest in getting to the bottom of the truth.

But they also have an interest in protecting the presidency, and not ensuring that any future president can always seek the documents and information out of a prior White House.

So, they are balancing this. They have sort of delayed a review of some documents.

So it's clear that there's -- I don't want to go as far as to say a dispute with the committee but something they're putting a pin in for now and agreeing to look at some of these documents later.

Because, look, Congress and the president, even if they're from the same political party, have different interests here.


There's also, on the bigger question of the Big Lie, the stolen election, as they claim, which wasn't stolen.

Republican in Washington, former secretary of state Kim Wyman now being named to the Department of the Homeland Security, the top spot, making sure that future elections are safe from foreign and domestic interference.

She challenged Trump's lies. This is a Republican.

I know you're a legal analyst, but just the strategy of choosing a Republican to put into this position, your thoughts? WILLIAMS: The fact that this is even a question, Victor, is

remarkable. It should not be so noteworthy that not believing conspiracy theories is somehow now a partisan issue.

But it is in the world we live in. That's where we've gotten over the last several years.

Look, there's a long history, even when I served in the Department of Homeland Security, of people of both parties serving presidents that they didn't -- you know, from the opposite party. This should not be remarkable.

And moreover, this particular office that she's serving is increasingly important. We face threats not just from within the United States but from overseas to the integrity of our election systems.

So cybersecurity's important. And it's -- and it looks, from her background, that she's very much the right person for the job.

BLACKWELL: Yes. It should not be remarkable. But the polling shows us that she's out of step with a large part of the party who believes that this is central to being a Republican.

Elliot Williams, thank you.

WILLIAMS: Take care, Victor, Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: You, too.


Facebook is facing controversy today, again. A report reveals what happens if you click the angry emoji on a Facebook post. We'll explain that.


CAMEROTA: More fallout for Facebook as whistleblowers and internal documents paint a damning picture.

"The Washington Post" reports that, starting in 2017, Facebook's algorithm was programmed to put higher value on emojis like the angry face.

They gave an angry response five times more value than content that got likes on the news feed.

The company's own researchers were worried about this, warning that this could open the door to abuse, rage, and polarizing users.

Here are just a few effects the whistleblowers allege that Facebook and its algorithms are having on the world:

Enabling the spread of hate speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories, empowering extremists, and becoming a marketplace for human trafficking.

Critics also say Facebook cannot or will not police itself adequately and has misled investors while putting profits and growth over human safety.

Founder Mark Zuckerberg denies all this and insists that the leaked documents have been cherry picked to paint a false picture of the company.


Congresswoman Lori Trahan is backing legislation to protect kids and teens from online harm.

She also co-wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to abandon plans to develop an Instagram for kids platform.

Congresswoman, great to see you as always.

I mean, this -- this revelation about what the engineers of the Facebook algorithm did, whereby, they put five times the value on somebody expressing anger after reading content, the angry emoji face, than they did likes.

What more do we need to know? What has been the real-world consequence of that algorithm?

REP. LORI TRAHAN (D-MA): Well, I think we know the real-world consequences of these engagement rankings, right, that Frances Haugen talked about in her testimony.

I mean, they do -- they lead to one in three young girls feeling poorly about themselves as a result of being on the platform. It leads to events like January 6th.

I mean, this is truly a watershed moment because I know a lot of my colleagues feel like they've been lied to, especially about the safety of our children.

And that's a bipartisan feeling on Capitol Hill at a moment when there's not a lot of bipartisanship to go around.

And I think Facebook and the tech lobby are aware of just how dangerous that is for them.

So, I think that, you know, these types of stories -- thank goodness for these former employees and these whistleblowers who are coming out and telling the truth, because I do think it's going to convert into legislation.

CAMEROTA: Well, I do want to ask you about that because you're the mom of two young girls. As we've talked about, you have tried to sponsor some of this legislation.

What is Congress going to do and when? I mean, since there's bipartisan agreement that there needs to be some regulation and policing of this, when can we expect that?

TRAHAN: For sure. There's bipartisan agreement, certainly, on the diagnosis. I think we have a lot of work to do in terms of coming up with policy prescriptions.

But regulation is likely going to take multiple bills spanning Congress's committee jurisdiction.

I mean, we need comprehensive privacy that puts an end to surveillance advertising. We need to reform our antitrust laws. But we need to require transparency right now.

I mean, it is not in Facebook's best interest to know the full impact of their content moderation practices on our children or our society.

But it's incumbent on Congress to do what these companies won't. And we have to require transparency.

We must give enforcers like the FTC the resources and the teeth to go after companies like Facebook who claim to be acting in the best interest of users but are actually doing the opposite.

So, we're right now, we're working on legislation as a result of the Facebook papers to create a new bureau.

We know that Facebook has grown the way it has because of anti- competitive conduct and unethical use of data that allows it to create algorithms that are manipulative.


TRAHAN: But it's also a harmful and opaque algorithmic design. And that, I think, is where we really need to spend some of our legislative time is working on the transparency and enforcement.


While I have you, I do want to ask what else is happening with Democrats.

So, as you probably have heard, Speaker Pelosi said today, no bill is everything. And she's basically, it sounds like, urging her caucus to accept what's in there right now.

Do you think that it was a mistake to use the kitchen-sink approach with the Build Back Better bill and the infrastructure where everything was put in there and then we've seen this haggling over the course of these couple months instead of paring it down?

TRAHAN: Look, I think we have an unbelievable opportunity. And I think when we see the final package that is going across the finish line, in the, you know, days ahead, we're going to be really proud of the moment of thinking big and bold about this moment.

I mean, we're going have an opportunity to create an economy that's fair for everybody, that people can participate, that women can participate.

Alisyn, I'm home right now, proxy voting, because I got that phone call from the school nurse that my 7-year-old, my second grader, was exposed and she couldn't go to school.

Do you know how many women get that phone call? And because we don't have a paid family and medical leave policy in our country, they sink under the logistics of the pressure and the anxiety of getting that phone call.

That's what's the problem right now. That's what we're trying to fix.

We want women to go back into the workforce. We need to have a paid family and medical leave. We need childcare to be there for our working families.

So, I think, when all is said and done, we're going to have a work product that we're really going to be proud of.


CAMEROTA: And do you think -- I mean, I know that you had originally wanted the 12 weeks of paid family leave. It's going to be, sounds like, four. Is that enough? For what you're talking about?

TRAHAN: You know, it's better right now than we have.


And I mean, look, I want to be pragmatic about this. I mean, certainly, we are the wealthiest country in the world. And we should be acting as though we are by giving those 12 weeks.

But we're trying to accomplish so many of these things for so many families that have different struggles.

So I think that us, looking at, you know, how we can get the of these things for so many families that of these things for so many families that have different struggles.

So I think that us looking at, you know, how we can get the best deal possible is -- has been the goal. For all of my colleagues, whether in the progressive caucus or in the new Dems.

CAMEROTA: Congresswoman Lori Trahan, thank you for your time.

TRAHAN: Thank you. Great to see you.

CAMEROTA: You, too.

BLACKWELL: Well, Florida police, they made a big admission and announced a series of mistakes in the months-long search for Brian Laundrie, including a possible case of mistaken identity.



CAMEROTA: Florida law enforcement says they made a key mistake in the search for Brian Laundrie after his fiancee, Gabby Petito, was reported missing.

The police in North Port say while they were surveilling the family's home, they thought they saw Brian return to the house but it was actually his mother.

BLACKWELL: Yes, that means, for days, investigators thought Brian was in the House and not at the nature preserve where his remains were ultimately found.

CNN's Nick Valencia is outside the Laundrie home.

Nick, we're learning that the Laundries are just back at home. What do you know? And how did something like this happen?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Just within the last five minutes, Victor, Brian Laundrie's parents returned to the household, Chris and Roberta.

We believe this is the first time they have been back at their home since Sunday evening.

It's important to note that Roberta Laundrie was wearing a baseball cap, which is how police are explaining this mistake, this mix up of identity, believing that Brian Laundrie's mom was him.

She returned sometime in mid-September driving his Mustang -- you can see behind me -- wearing a baseball cap, and that's the reason, and the explanation police are giving us as to why they confused the two.

For days, even though they were giving press conferences saying they knew exactly where Brian Laundrie was, he was already on the run.

Take a listen to Josh Taylor, from the North Port Police Department, describe this blunder, this major blunder.


Josh TAYLOR, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPARTMENT: I believe it was -- it was his mom who was wearing a baseball cap. They had returned from the park with that Mustang.

So who does, that right? Like, if you think your son is missing since tuesday, you're going to bring his car back to the home? So it didn't make sense that anyone would do that if he wasn't there.

So the individual getting out with a baseball cap we thought was Brian.


VALENCIA: What we don't know so far, and what's not clear is, if police believe this was a deliberate action by the mother to cause a diversion. That's something that the North Port police did not talk about.

Just now, when they returned to the home, Victor and Alisyn, I asked them how they were feeling and if they ever planned to make a comment publicly. They did not comment to either question -- Victor, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: She's wearing a floral blouse. That doesn't seem like somebody who's intentionally trying to dress as a young man.

BLACKWELL: The baseball cap was enough to throw off the investigators? It's remarkable.

CAMEROTA: It's perplexing.

Nick Valencia, thank you very much for that.

BLACKWELL: President Biden is headed to campaign in Virginia today in an effort to turn out the vote for Democratic candidate. Terry McAuliffe. His impact on the tight race, next.



CAMEROTA: In a few hours, President Biden will head to Virginia to make a last-minute push to boost turnout from Terry McAuliffe in his race to become governor defend.

BLACKWELL: The Democratic candidate is in a surprisingly tight race against Glenn Youngkin. It's surprising because President Biden won Virginia by 10 points.

CNN's Eva McKend joins us now.

Youngkin is making schooling an issue in this race. What's he seeing?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: That's right, Victor. Glenn Youngkin has landed on this closing argument that it's a fundamental right in Virginia for parents to be engaged in their children's education.

And that his opponent, Democratic nominee, Terry McAuliffe, doesn't believe that.

That's not the case. A comment McAuliffe made at the debate in September has sort of been spun out of control.

Here's what McAuliffe actually said. He said he was not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.

And that he didn't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.

Now, he has said he is running a Virginia-focus campaign, Youngkin, that is, but has latched on to the national implications of this issue. Listen to Youngkin beating this drum today out on the campaign trail.


GLENN YOUNGKIN, (R), VIRGINA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: As we hear from parents who email me and text me and call me and say, stand up for our kids, too, it just goes to show that Virginians have a chance to do something in Virginia that's going to have an effect on the whole country.


MCKEND: Youngkin does seem very comfortable with this narrative.

When you go to his rallies -- I have been to many -- it's filled with parents and grandparents animated by the parents-matter message.

It's unclear if this is getting him new voters or people in the conservative base who would have likely voted for Youngkin anyway.

CAMEROTA: Can you explain also how this classic Toni Morrison book, "Beloved," is at the center somehow of this race?

MCKEND: Alisyn, how did we get here? Youngkin has a new ad that features a mother, Laura Murphy. She is from Fairfax County, and a conservative activist.

And she spearheaded a campaign long ago -- this was years ago -- against "Beloved" after she claimed it gave her son, a high school senior at the time, nightmares.


Now she sought to have the book banned at least temporarily. And the book details many of the atrocities slaves faced.