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Georgia Prosecutors Ask Judge To Jail Election Subversion Defendant Over "Effort To Intimidate" Witnesses; Top House Democrats Evacuated From DNC As Protesters Clash With Police; Biden: Hamas Operating Under Hospital Is A "War Crime." Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 07:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That's a -- that's a good point.

Charlie, I also want to zero in on what the judge is looking at here and that is what is viewed by them as intimidation against Ruby Freeman. I mean, this is someone who volunteered their time to be an election worker, who was attacked by the likes of Rudy Guiliani -- who, by the way, had to walk that back recently -- and by Donald Trump. You see her there.

And prosecutors say that the latest Floyd comments about her have made her quote, "the subject of renewed threats and violence from third parties."

Just speak to that -- that how extraordinary it is to, in the worst possible way, to have to endure something like that when you're a volunteer trying to help in an election.

CHARLIE BAILEY, FORMER FULTON COUNTY SENIOR ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, (D) FORMER CANDIDATE, GEORGIA LT. GOVERNOR: Well, it's unconscionable and it's one reason that this prosecution is so important to stand up not just for Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman but for the citizens of Georgia.

I mean, the people that work our polls every election season are patriots and it's just the height of I think unpatriotic behavior that Mr. Floyd is accused of in this very indictment and that he continues to participate in.

And it shouldn't come as a shock to me. I've seen this a number of times in my career as a prosecutor how often folks that have been indicted for felonies, after that indictment continue the kind of conduct that got them under indictment in the first place. And I think Mr. Floyd is -- if he hasn't realized it already is about to realize the consequences of that.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Mimi, can you explain the leak of videos of proffer sessions, including one with Jenna Ellis, has kind of created some turmoil over the course of the week? The judge is going to take some action related to it. We now know who says that they leaked some of the video, saying they're doing it because they believed it should be seen publicly. What's actually happening here -- because most people just watch the

videos and say oh, that's interesting, that's stuff I didn't know, or that's helpful for understanding things. Why would you not want these public?

MIMI ROCAH, WESTCHESTER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I think it kind of depends who the you is in that sentence.

But I will say this. First of all, while there wasn't a protective order in place -- so there was no order specifically saying that the defense could not disseminate these videos and I wish there had been -- but even putting that aside, it is absolutely not something a lawyer should be doing. It's a possible violation of ethical rules to leak a video to disseminate it for the purpose of I want the public to see this.

Trials are not in public. Trials are in courtrooms where there's rules of evidence. Some of this testimony, while fascinating and substantively revealing of new facts that are potentially very good I think for the prosecution -- not all of it would necessarily come in at trial based on the rules of evidence.

And if you're the prosecutor, you want to put your case in the way you are structuring it. There's a strategy to how you put your evidence in -- in what order, et cetera, and you may be waiting on rulings from the judge as to whether certain evidence can come in.

So while the substance of it is good I think, overall for the prosecution, it isn't good for the prosecution that this got out. And it absolutely, I think, is beneath any lawyer to be doing this and particularly, when they admit they're doing it because the public should see this. That's not your job. Your job is to try your case in court in front of a jury and a judge.

HARLOW: Mimi Rocah, Charlie Bailey, thanks very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, top Democrats were evacuated from the DNC's headquarters last night after protestors calling for a ceasefire in Gaza clashed with police. We're going to bring you the latest details.

HARLOW: It is Starbucks' busiest sales event of the year -- or the holiday season, for sure. Red Cup Day is here and Starbucks baristas are going on strike. We'll tell you why ahead.



HARLOW: Workers at hundreds of Starbucks stores will strike today protesting the lack of a signed contract despite a two-year-long organizing drive by some. The strike falls on Red Cup Day, the busiest day of the holiday season. That is the day the coffee company hands out thousands of free reusable cups. Workers say promotion days like this cause a flood of customer orders leaving them short-staffed and overwhelmed. Starbucks has opposed unionization for more than a year now. The National Labor Relations Board has even charged Starbucks with more than 20 violations of federal labor law, including unjustly laying off workers who want to unionize. Starbucks has denied these allegations.

MATTINGLY: Well, violent protests outside the Democratic National Committee's Washington headquarters forcing top House Democrats to be evacuated from the building. The demonstration calling for a ceasefire in Gaza -- it escalated rapidly with protesters shoving police and grabbing onto metal barricades as officers moved to make arrests.

About 10 members of Congress, including House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, and number-three Democratic Pete Aguilar were all inside before being escorted from the area.

CNN's Gabe Cohen joins us now. Gabe, this looked like it was getting out of control last night. What more do we know this morning?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, Phil, you can see from the video just how intense this clash was outside the DNC headquarters between Capitol Police and around 150 protesters from these progressive Jewish organizations that for weeks now have been leading these ceasefire protests across the country.

And look, organizers told me they had -- they had planned to block entrances to the DNC building and they wanted to force those Democratic members of Congress, including the leadership -- the names you mentioned -- Jeffries, Clark, and Aguilar -- to walk out in front of them and be confronted by protesters with chants and with calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. But the scene really intensified. It blew up before we even got to that point and those members of Congress had to be urgently evacuated from the building.


And you can see why this -- these physical altercations between police and protesters -- those protesters, in many cases, locked arm-in-arm in front of the building -- being pried away from it. And now, the two sides -- police and these protest groups -- are really pointing fingers at each other blaming the other for escalating the situation.

Capitol Police tweeting overnight saying "...six officers were treated for injuries, ranging from minor cuts, to being pepper sprayed, to being punched." One person had to be arrested for assault on an officer. And they write, quote, "We appreciate our officers who kept these illegal and violent protesters back and protected everyone in the area."

Now, the protest groups telling a very different story. A statement from one of those groups, if not now, reads, quote, "Protesters non- violently blocked on entrance to the DNC headquarters. Police violently attacked them, causing over 90 injuries, including being pepper sprayed, minor cuts, and dragged by the hair."

And look, Phil, to give you a little context here these progressive groups -- if not now, as well as Jewish Voice for Peace -- as I mentioned, they've been organizing these ceasefire protests for weeks now. We've seen them shut down Grand Central Station in New York. They have blocked entrances to the White House. They've occupied the Rotunda in a building on Capitol Hill.

Hundreds of them have been arrested. But having talked to many of these organizers and witnessed these protests up close, those arrests were always part of the plan. It was supposed to be peaceful, civil disobedience. We have not seen any clashes like this up to this point. And we know it came one day after the March for Israel -- that massive rally in downtown Washington. So we're seeing, obviously, rhetoric escalating on both sides here leading to what we saw last night.


Gabe Cohen, great reporting. Thank you.

HARLOW: President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded four hours of talks. We'll give you a breakdown of where the two global superpowers found some common ground and where there are still sticking points.

MATTINGLY: And after that meeting, Biden said he is quote "mildly hopeful" the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza will be released. We will ask the White House about the latest negotiations to secure their release. Stay with us.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is the situation. You have a circumstance where the first war crimes being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters -- their military hidden under a hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened.


MATTINGLY: That was President Biden last night describing the very dangerous situation at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Biden noting that the U.S. has called on Israel to be quote "incredibly careful" as it targets Hamas in the area, but suggested the action was justified.

Joining us now to discuss that so much more, White House National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby. John, appreciate your time, especially waking up this early.

I want to get to China in a moment, but I want to start right there because the president -- you have said the same -- the State Department has said the same as well -- unequivocal that underneath Al-Shifa hospital there is intelligence that there is a command center. There are operations there.

The Israelis started their operation there 24 hours ago. We have seen no evidence of something like that. Are you confident that evidence is forthcoming?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: Well, I'll let the Israeli Defense Forces speak to what evidence that they will find and decide to share with the world.

We're confident based on our own intelligence analysis that the basement areas of that hospital -- underneath that hospital and the hospital itself has been used -- is being used by Hamas as a command and control mode. A place to command and control their fighters throughout north Gaza, and as a storage facility for ammo, for weapons, for guns, for that kind of thing. We even believe that they have used Al-Shifa Hospital as housing for their fighters -- temporary housing.

So we're very confident in the -- in that assessment, Phil.

MATTINGLY: On the issue of hostages, the president weighed in last night. Listen to what he said.


BIDEN: I think the pause and that Israeli -- that the Israelis have agreed to is down to -- I'm getting into too much detail. I know, Mr. Secretary. I'm going to stop. The -- but I am -- I am mildly hopeful.


MATTINGLY: If only Secretary Blinken hadn't been there to keep him from giving more detail.

But, John, to that point, he said he's mildly hopeful but also seemed to think -- to allude to the fact that it was down to a small subset of issues. Is that the case?

KIRBY: Well, again, I don't want to negotiate here on T.V. any more than the president wanted to.

We have a team on the ground that are working this literally by the hour, Phil. They've been doing this now -- working on this for weeks. But we are in some intense negotiations. Hopefully, they'll come out the right way and we'll have good news to talk about with multiple hostages getting freed. But we don't have a deal right now, and until we do, there's really little -- the less said the better about that.

But there is a lot of intense effort going on this week to see if we can't come to fruition on a negotiation -- on an arrangement that would allow for a sizeable number of hostages to get released.

MATTINGLY: Admiral, on the summit itself, the president was asked by my colleague MJ Lee if he still believed Xi Jinping was a dictator. He said he was and then explained why.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, just as it did the first time, reacting rather furiously, saying it's extremely erroneous. It's an irresponsible political maneuver that China opposes.

What's your response to that?

KIRBY: Well, we had a great discussion yesterday on a -- on a cross- range of issues. Everything from the chemical ingredients that make fentanyl and getting China to crack down on their export to opening up military-to-military communications. We talked about artificial intelligence. We talked about trade. There was a really good wide range of issues, including talking about the conflict in the Middle East and the war in Ukraine.

Now, the president is confident that -- coming out of yesterday's discussions that we're going to continue to be able to make this progress, that our teams will continue to work on these issues, and that the relationship is in a much better place now than it was even coming out of Bali a year ago.


MATTINGLY: All right. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby, thank you.

KIRBY: My pleasure.

HARLOW: There is new video and it shows Alec Baldwin shooting a prop gun on the set of "Rust." But as he does so, also talking about safety concerns for the crew. How could that impact a grand jury that is considering possibly refiling charges against the actor?

MATTINGLY: And Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, quietly changing their policy on political ads. We're going to bring you the details ahead.


HARLOW: Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, will allow political ads that make false claims about past elections during the 2024 campaign cycle -- ads like this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're winning. We won in 2016. We had a rigged election in 2020 but got more votes than any sitting president.


HARLOW: There has been no evidence of mass fraud in the 2020 election, but under these new rules that ad was allowed to be posted 25 times in August.

The company will still prohibit ads that, quote, "call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election." But that is a shift from the company's policy leading up to the 2020 election which prohibited, quote, "ads that claimed voter fraud is widespread and/or alters the outcome of elections and/or results in a fraudulent or corruption election." Meta made this policy change in August of '22 ahead of the midterms. Content moderation related to elections surged on social media sites in the aftermath of the 2020 election but in recent months, several companies have rolled back those same policies.


The changes mean that Meta will be able to directly profit -- right, because they're political ads that boost false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

Frances Haugen is with us. She is a former Facebook employee turned whistleblower whose leaks in 2021 triggered intense scrutiny into the company. She is also the author of the book "The Power of One."

Frances, they're saying there's a distinction that you can't do it -- these ads -- if it pertains to an upcoming or ongoing election. Is that a distinction without a substantive difference that matters for truth?

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER, AUTHOR, "THE POWER OF ONE": I think it's very problematic because one of the core pillars of many campaigns going into 2024 is that they should be in power because they actually won the last election.

Just because Facebook is saying that you can't suggest that the future election is invalid doesn't mean that there are real societal consequences of spreading the idea that historically you couldn't trust our system, especially when we've had things like the Dominion Voting trial, which had a $700 million settlement saying hey, there is no proof that there was voter fraud.

MATTINGLY: Can you kind of game this out for people who think either this is a little dense or they've seen a lot of hearings on it but they're not totally sure what the actual --


MATTINGLY: -- effect would be? Something --


MATTINGLY: -- like this -- if this becomes pervasive -- if this allows kind of a new influx, what are the risks here?

HAUGEN: So, people often say the solution for bad speech is more speech. They look at things like a policy that says OK, you can say whatever you want in political ads. And I say that just means meaning to be putting good information out there.

One thing that most people aren't aware of is starting a little over a year ago, Facebook said we're going to show less news coverage. We're going to -- a smaller fraction of the newsfeed is going to be news. That means now, potentially, someone could be targeted with ads that say hey, this election was stolen. Like, we have trouble trusting our -- we can't trust our democracy. And because of choices Facebook has made to censor what content we get

to see, they might never get to see real information about fact- checking and what was the legitimacy of the election.

HARLOW: The -- more speech is the solution, quoting this from court Justice Louis Brandeis -- but that's what -- that's the First Amendment argument that these social media companies make. But doesn't it misunderstand First Amendment protections when it comes to corporations?

HAUGEN: Totally. So, I think this is a question there of let's compare this to the decision YouTube made back in June. So in June, they said hey, you can't have videos that mention that the election was stolen. The difference between having a video that might be circulating on YouTube and an ad that is targeted with this message is you can pick a very small sliver of the population and just deluge them in these ads.

You know, they might -- you know, we've all had the experience where we see the same ad over and over and over again. We've seen the consequences in things like January 6 of what happens when you target a small number of people with messages that don't really align with actual reality. There can be really serious consequences.

MATTINGLY: I'd love to get your reaction if I can -- given your expertise -- to what has been the most online political dust-up that I've seen in this campaign cycle, which is Nikki Haley. Take a listen to what she said.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I get into office, the first thing we have to do is social media accounts, social media companies -- they have to show America their algorithms. Let us see why they're pushing what they're pushing.

The second thing is every person on social media should be verified by their name. That's -- first of all, it's a national security threat. When you do that all of a sudden people have to stand by what they say. And it gets rid of the Russian bots, the Iranian bots, and the Chinese bots.


MATTINGLY: Frances, other Republicans in the race have attacked that position. Haley sort of clarified, saying, "Americans have the right to free speech, including having anonymous accounts on social media. What Nikki doesn't support is letting the Chinese and Iranians create anonymous accounts to spread chaos and anti-American filth among our people."

Is this feasible? What are your views on anonymity or not allowing it?

HAUGEN: So, she's like two issues there and I think they're actually related and really important. So the first thing she said is we need transparency of algorithms. And the second thing she said was we have a real problem in our society, which is we do have influence campaigns -- information operations that -- from foreign actors like China or Russia, or even Turkey that try to influence our democratic process by spreading information using these false accounts.

The reality is we have many ways of detecting those operations. The question is are platforms like Facebook or TikTok willing to invest in the teams and the technologies that you use to find that kind of coordinated behavior?

One of the important things about developing algorithmic transparency is right now, our adversaries are studying how information is distributed on these systems and they, by trial and error.