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Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) is Interviewed about Twitter; Explosions Reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Lviv; Russia Put Off Kherson Exit; Testimony in Weinstein Trial; NASA Aims to Launch Artemis 1. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 15, 2022 - 09:30   ET



SEN. EDWARD MARKEY (D-MA): There obviously was no background check. There was no effort to verify that Senator Ed Markey was Senator Ed Markey. And what that demonstrated was that overnight, once Twitter, Elon Musk, set up this new system, there was a mass proliferation of fraudulence, $8 blue checks that had been purchased all across the country, including one that said they were Eli Lilly and other fraudulent impersonators. And, obviously, there were no safeguards in place that Elon Musk or Twitter had to guarantee that there were safeguards, that there were rules of the road, that there was -- that protection was going to be there.

SCIUTTO: That Eli Lilly one tanked their stock for a bit. It had real world effects.

I mean, and Twitter already had credibility problems. I mean let's be frank here. But is Musk now effectively destroying this as a forum that anybody believes?

MARKEY: Well, that's what I want him to answer. One, what were the safeguards that he had put in place before he introduced this new very broad blue check program? Has he promised to, in fact, correct it, to put in place a new regime of safety, of safeguards? And what did happen? What went wrong? What were the safeguards? Is it because he's laid off too many people or was it just a pursuit of additional revenues for his companies? And in that pursuit of revenues, he allowed the safeguards to be sidelined. And, as a result, we saw the chaos, which ensured.

SCIUTTO: Musk, I don't have to say it, has had enormous success with electric cars, with space launches. But on Twitter so far spotty record. I wonder, do you believe he's out of his depth here?

MARKEY: Well, there's a Dickensian quality to these technologies. They - they're the best of technologies and the worst of technologies simultaneously. They can enable, they can ennoble, they can degrade, they can debase.

Elon Musk is now into content. And it can enable and ennoble. Those technologies do great things. But it can also undermine democracy, undermine confidence, undermine trust in our society. So, it's important for Twitter, America's town square as it represents

itself, to actually be what it says it is. Otherwise, we'll see a further erosion of democracy, a further erosion of trust in our country. And so he's taken on a great responsibility. And the reason I'm asking these questions of him is that this is a vitally important place where Americans go in order to communicate. And he has to understand that this is -- this goes to the whole question of democracy. With all due respect to Tesla and SpaceX, democracy is the heart of who we are as a country. And if he's going to move into this area, he has to, in fact, discharge his responsibility respecting how powerful this technology is.

SCIUTTO: OK, you say fix your companies or Congress will. How and when?

MARKEY: Well, on Tesla, right now he's under investigation by the Department of Transportation for his auto pilot, his autonomous vehicles. So, I think it's absolutely imperative for him to prove that these vehicles are safe. But I also think it's imperative for Congress to pass laws that guarantee that if these driverless vehicles are going to be out on the road that they're safe and they're not endangering people.

And with regard to Twitter, they're already operating at Twitter under a Federal Trade Commission consent decree. They're on privacy probation right now. And so to the extent to which Congress must act, I think we need to pass stronger laws on algorithms and transparency that will give Americans more information about these cites that they go to. And in addition, I think that the Federal Trade Commission has to look at what just happened in order to make sure that it doesn't happen again and that the consent decree is being abided by.

SCIUTTO: OK. In all this do you think Musk has the leadership, has the management skills, has the knowledge of a social media company, a social network, to make the necessary fixes? You say this is essential, a forum like this, to democracy. Is he the man, is he the leader who can fix it?

MARKEY: Well, he hired people who understood automotive technology. He hired people who understood space technology. He has to do the same thing here.

This is very complicated. He mastered rocket science. Here we're talking about democracy.


We're talking about free speech. And he has to surround himself with, rather than firing the people who have spent their lives seeking to master this interrelationship between technology and democracy. And if he doesn't do that, then we're going to have the same kind of disasters which we've just been witnessing in terms of the assaults on democracy during the 2020 election cycle.

SCIUTTO: Senator Ed Markey, good to have you on this morning. Thanks for taking the time. MARKEY: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Still to come here, a CNN exclusive, how Russia may have delayed action in Ukraine in an effort to hurt President Biden and Democrats in the midterms. That report ahead.

Plus, we're also live on the ground in eastern Ukraine where air raid sirens are sounding. Sirens sounding actually throughout the country. Explosions being reported now in multiple major cities. We have the very latest.

Stay with us.



SCIUTTO: In a video speech to G20 leaders this morning, the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, laid out a ten-step peace plan to end Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The plan included a path to nuclear safety, food security and a special tribunal for Russian war crimes.

HILL: Zelenskyy also proposed an all for all prisoner swap with Russia. In response, a Kremlin spokesperson says Moscow has seen the peace plan but believes Ukraine doesn't want to negotiate.

Right now in Ukraine, air raid alert sirens have been blaring across the - across the country. Explosions have been reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv. Ukrainian officials say Russian is targeting cities with a barrage of (INAUDIBLE) in response to that speech from Zelenskyy, from the speech to the G20 there.

CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley is in Kriyvyi Rih, Ukraine. There you see it in the central part of the country.

Sam, you've seen a lot of these air raids in recent weeks and months, many of them devastating. I wonder if you can compare what you've seen in the last several hours there and how are people responding?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here in Kriyvyi Rih, the local authorities say, Jim, that they have been able to shoot down incoming missiles so far, but they are asking the residents of this big industrial city to take cover and shelter. As you can see, it remains pretty busy behind me. Frankly, people across this country have got somewhat overused to being struck by these Russian missiles, particularly because there was a bit of a lull over the last ten days or so when the Russians were evacuating from Kherson. But we have seen at least two significant impacts according to Mayor Klitschko in Kyiv with the strikes against residential buildings being reported, with the medical services and other first responders rushing to the scene there. There have been explosions reported, as you rightly say there, in Lviv, also in the center of the country in Poltava, and then way down in the south, in Mykolaiv. The local authorities there, the mayor, Vitalii Kim, warning his citizens against a third wave of attacks. There were reports here, according to the Ukrainians that these were

attacks from cruise missiles, from air-launch cruise missiles. That is unconfirmed at this stage. We haven't yet seen any proof positive of what exactly the Russians are using. But as you said in your intro there, it comes straight on the back -- off the back of Zelenskyy's ten-point peace plan, which essentially boils down to, get out of my country and give my people back.



HILL: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Good summary.

HILL: It certainly is.

Sam, appreciate it. Thank you.

We also have some exclusive new CNN reporting about Russia's timing in Ukraine. The U.S. has intelligence that Russia may have delayed announcing its withdraw from the Ukrainian city of Kherson to avoid giving the Biden administration a political win ahead of the midterm elections.

SCIUTTO: CNN's Natasha Bertrand here now with those details.

I mean what's interesting about this, right, is it apparently perceived this would be a benefit to Biden, but I also suppose a benefit to Republicans in not announcing there. I mean it's sort of election interference by another name.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That seems to have been what they believed would happen. However, as we see, that kind of backfired. The Russians clearly don't have a very sophisticated understanding of what is at the top of the minds of American voters, right?


BERTRAND: But according to our sources, U.S. intelligence did pick up Russian officials discussing the timing of the withdrawal announcement needing to be related -- timed to, in some way, the midterm elections, and that needed to be Americans had finished voting because they did not want to give Biden, and by extension the Democrats, that kind of boost that might have come from the Russians being defeated so badly, as they were, and having to retreat from that strategic, southern city of Kherson.

Obviously, this is, you know, not the only consideration that went into that withdrawal. Strategically they had to pull back just because it was unsustainable, right, for them to stay there.

SCIUTTO: Yes, they were losing. Yes. BERTRAND: But it says a lot also about their preference, right, for which candidates and which party they want to see control Congress and the administration. They still feel at this point, as they continue to try to influence American politics, that a GOP-controlled Congress, a GOP administration, is better for their interests.

SCIUTTO: And, by the way, there were some Republicans who were saying, if they maintain control, that the blank check, right, as it were for Ukraine, wouldn't no longer - would not longer be out there.

Natasha Bertrand, thanks very much.

Still ahead, one of the most anticipated witnesses to testify against Harvey Weinstein in his sexual assault charges trial will take the stand again, this morning. The emotional testimony from the filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, next.



SCIUTTO: This morning, the former "Tonight Show" host, Jay Leno, is recovering from serious burns he suffered in a gasoline fire over the weekend.

HILL: Leno is being treated at a hospital in Los Angeles. He's reportedly in stable condition. The 72-year-old is, as you probably know, an avid car collector and was working on a vehicle in his garage when it burst into flames. He was burned on his face and his hands. In a statement Leno said he'll be OK and he'll be back on his feet in a week or two.


SCIUTTO: All right, another story we're following this morning.

Later today, California's first lady, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, will be back on the stand in the Los Angeles sexual assault trial of Harvey Weinstein, already convicted of rape.

HILL: Yesterday she gave disturbing details about the night she says Weinstein raped her in 2005. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to multiple sexual assault charges. Today, his defense will continue cross-examining Siebel Newsom.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is following the trial, joining us this morning from L.A.

So, this testimony on Monday, incredibly emotional, also graphic.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very much so, Erica and Jim. Many times she was crying. Even just starting off, when she identified Harvey Weinstein in court saying that he's wearing a suit and a blue tie and he's staring at me. Her voice was shaky at the time.

All of this has what's been revealed that Jane Doe number four in fact is California's first partner. She's a award winning documentary filmmaker and she's married to Gavin Newsom, who is the governor of California.

But this is what she alleges happened with Weinstein in 2005. She said she met him at a bar when she was there with other industry friends when she was 31 years old during the Toronto Film Festival. She said that they met. He came over and introduced himself. And she said that she felt that she had to meet with him when he said he wanted to meet with her again because at the time she believed he could make or break a career. She knew how powerful he was in Hollywood.

So, she says that at the end of September 2005, that is when she said he'd be in touch for - to discuss these projects. She encountered him two more times with other people around. And then she agreed to meet him at his hotel and was told by his assistance that the meeting would be in his suite. This is when she says the alleged rape happened.

But when she says she got up to the room that either Weinstein or his assistant told everyone else to leave the room. He said he -- she said he abruptly got up and left to go make himself more comfortable. She says she saw him down a hallway and that he was now wearing a robe. She alleges that he was bent over and asked for her help. She says when she got there she realized he was touching himself and he grabbed her and evenly carried or dragged her to the bedroom and raped her.

She said in court, in her testimony, quote, I was so violated and I didn't know how that happened. She was crying at the time she said this. She went on to say, I didn't see the clues and I didn't know how to escape. She also said that she didn't tell anyone and that she did not call the police at the time.

Now, the defense did have time to begin some questioning of Siebel Newsome during this time. And it's important to go back to October in opening statements when Weinstein's defense attorney then said in court that it was not rape, but that Siebel Newsom had had consensual sex with Weinstein. He went on to say, quote, she made herself a prominent victim in the Me Too movement, otherwise she'd be just another bimbo who sleep with Harvey Weinstein to get ahead in Hollywood.

Yesterday, too, the defense also honing in on when Gavin Newsom was aware of this allegation because he did accept campaign funds but then returned them. All of this coming into what they're looking at here.

But, overall, just some very shocking details coming out from her testimony yesterday.

HILL: Yes. And also in that statement from the defense attorney.

Stephanie, appreciate it. Thank you.

Still ahead here, NASA hopes the fourth time is the charm here. The historic mission for the Artemis One rocket in official countdown to its launch window tomorrow. And we're live in Florida for the very latest.



HILL: Tomorrow, NASA will again attempt to launch its Artemis One moon mission following months of delays, including suffering minor damage on the launch pad due to Hurricane Nicole. Officials are eyeing a two- hour launch window. It opens up at 1:04 a.m. Set your alarms.

SCIUTTO: CNN space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher joins us now from Titusville, Florida.

So, Kristin, several delays. I mean one of them was a fuel line issue. I wonder, is NASA confident they've fixed these issues to get this rocket up into space?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, they're as confident as they possibly can be given the fact that this rocket, which is right there on the launch pad, was hit by a category one hurricane just five days ago. The rocket sustained some minor damage. The mission management team met last night to determine if those repairs were sufficient for the rocket to fly. They determined that they weren't able to fix one of the main problems with the rocket, which was essentially some caulking called RTV insulation right at the base of the Orion capsule, which sits on top of the rocket. A ten-foot strip of it had essentially been peeled off by the wind. They can't fix it on the launch pad, but last night at this meeting they said they are comfortable with the rocket as is and they are ready to let it fly for this third launch attempt.

So, Jim, now here we are, we are just a few hours away from where they are going to begin fueling this rocket and then the launch window opens shortly after midnight tonight at 1:04 a.m. Eastern Time. It's a two-hour launch window. So it goes until 3:04 in the morning. And if this is a success, Jim and Erica, we are going to see the most powerful rocket ever built lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center at night. It should be a spectacular sight.

And then the real work begins. This first uncrewed mission of the Artemis program, the rocket will be going all the way to the moon, circling it for several days before coming back to earth and then that Orion capsule splashing down into an ocean somewhere.