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Musk Reverses Course, Says He'll Buy Twitter At Original Price; Fort Myers Beach Resident Returns To Find Home Destroyed By Fire; Trump Praises British Prime Minister's Controversial Tax Cuts Plan. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired October 05, 2022 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: In a major reversal, Elon Musk now says he does want to buy Twitter and for the same price he initially agreed to, which he recently called too high. This could end a months long battle which ended up in court.

This is a reminder of how we got here.

In early April, Musk disclosed he'd become Twitter's largest stakeholder and joined the board, but days later, he backtracked and declined the board seat. By mid-April, Musk offered to buy Twitter, and by the end of the month, Twitter agreed to sell to Musk at just over $54.00 a share. But on July 8, Musk tried to back out of that agreement and was sued by Twitter days later, basically saying you have to buy us. And now, I guess he says he is.

For more, I want to bring in CNN correspondents Donie O'Sullivan and CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

And I just want everyone to know I asked Romans how she wanted to handle this segment as were on break and she told me as long as I refer to her as your highness --


BERMAN: -- I can ask anything.

So, your highness, why is Elon Musk doing this?

ROMANS: I don't know. This is a crazy rollercoaster. I have -- I have covered so many takeovers and I've never seen one like this. It looks as though he's painted himself into a legal corner and he realizes two weeks before going to trial he might lose and end up having to buy this company anyway. And so, now he has changed his mind and he will take over -- he says he will take over Twitter, and this could happen really quickly.

[07:35:09] Remember, he came out and said he had a -- or disclosed he had a big stake in the company. He said he wanted to buy it and then said he didn't want to buy it. And then it was going to go to court. Now, forget all that -- I'll buy it.

BERMAN: And he thinks, perhaps, that he was going to lose and why not -- if you're going to end up owning the company anyway, why not do it without going to court in the process.

Donie, what does this mean for people who use Twitter?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, well, what it could mean is that a lot of the people who have been kicked off Twitter in the past few years, namely the former President of the United States, could be back on the platform very, very quickly. Musk has made no secret that he would allow Trump back onto the platform, meaning that, of course, this could up-end a lot of politics. It could really directly play into what we're going to see at the midterms.

But then, of course, there are other fringe figures who have also been banned from the platform like Alex Jones. It's possible that we see the return of folks like that as well.

BERMAN: Because Musk basically has come out and says he doesn't think, generally speaking, people should be banned from Twitter.

O'SULLIVAN: That's exactly it.

And, I mean, look, I would kind of compare -- I -- you know -- you know a lot more, Christine, about business than I do, but I'm viewing all of this --

ROMANS: Can I get it on a t-shirt?

O'SULLIVAN: I'm viewing all of this -- you highness -- of -- as -- it's like, you know, have you ever been to a wedding where you're like there and you're like oh, they really shouldn't be getting married?


O'SULLIVAN: You know, this is not going to work out. I mean, this is kind of what is happening between this billionaire --

BERMAN: If I say yes to that, then everyone whose wedding I've been to is going to say is he talking about my wedding?

ROMANS: Well, I mean, he said that they -- basically, he said I want them to know now that I've looked under the hood and they're good enough for me anymore. And now he's coming back and saying OK, I'll buy you anyway. If you work at Twitter, how are you supposed to feel?

O'SULLIVAN: And on that, I just want to show you a tweet from -- we spoke to some Twitter employees yesterday. One of them tweeted, "Living the plot of succession is f-ing exhausting."

You know, that is if you're a regular employee at Twitter you have gone through such a rollercoaster this year between whistleblower, between Musk saying he's going to take over -- he's not -- and back again. So people in there are getting tired of it.

BERMAN: Two very quick questions.

Number one, Donald Trump could be back on Twitter, and soon -- correct, Donie -- like, by the midterms?

O'SULLIVAN: Exactly. He has said -- he told Fox News a few months back that he would stay on his own social media platform and that he wouldn't come back to Twitter even if he was allowed back on. But I think a lot of people would say that he had -- he had, I think, almost 19 million followers there. His posts on his platform is getting nowhere near that. I think that would be hard for him to resist.

ROMANS: And regulators have approved this. The company at Twitter -- of shareholders -- have approved this. The only holdup was the guy who changed his mind. The richest man in the world who changed his mind --


ROMANS: -- who has now changed his mind again.

BERMAN: One thing on the politics of it. And I will say, ironically, Democrats are not unhappy about the prospect of Donald Trump coming back to Twitter because they -- some will tell you that will remind voters that he's out there and some of the incendiary things he says, they think, puts Republicans in a box at some point.

Christine, your highness, if Elon Musk gets into this company, which he doesn't want, could he then try to sell it?

ROMANS: I don't know. Could he try to change it? Could he loosen standards and more about free speech and it's a platform for whatever you want to say? Would Donald Trump -- I have -- there's -- I have no idea.

And the other thing I will say about Elon Musk is he rifts. He changes his mind. Sometimes he trolls, I think. So, I don't know --

O'SULLIVAN: You think?

ROMANS: I don't know how he is going to run this company. I mean, you've got -- you know, The Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos. This will be a trophy kind of media-ish platform for the world's richest man. It's anyone's guess how he'll use it or what he'll use it for.

O'SULLIVAN: And I would say that I think what he's going to learn is that this is hard. It's hard to moderate a platform with millions and millions of people. And we've already seen, internally, frustration that some of Musk's suggestions saying well, I've banned this person or you approach it that way, people within Twitter are saying that's what we're already doing.

ROMANS: Right. BERMAN: Donie O'Sullivan, Christine Romans, your majesty, thank you both for being here and helping us understand what we're seeing.

ROMANS: I can't believe you outed me on that.

BERMAN: So, back down to Florida. Fort Myers Beach trying to pick up the pieces of a community just decimated by Hurricane Ian. And we're going to speak to a woman who returned to her neighborhood only to find her home destroyed by fire.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a person of interest is in custody in connection with the kidnapping of a family of four in California, but police still don't know where the family is. We have the details ahead.



KEILAR: This morning, Fort Myers Beach residents are dealing with shattering losses and facing an uncertain future.

My next guest returned home the day after Ian obliterated the town and she thought her first floor would be destroyed. She was hoping to pick up files from her home office. But what she found was little more than ashes. Her home destroyed by a fire that was still burning when she arrived. Her neighbor's house was in the middle of the road. She says she did not recognize where she was.

Her husband is Fort Myers' town beaches -- Fort Myers Beaches' town manager, now heavily involved in the post-Ian operation there.

Jessica Hernstadt joining us now from Ft. Myers Beach. Jessica, the devastation that we are witnessing is just beyond imagination. Tell us what it was for you to return home, find your house just in ashes, but then also to find one thing that was actually hopeful.

JESSICA HERNSTADT, FORT MYERS BEACH HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE: Yes. I -- we had arrived on the island the morning after and walked about three miles through what looked like an apocalyptic disaster of cars overturned, people's lives -- pots, pans, clothing strewn throughout the streets.


Once we made it back to the house, both streets leading to my house were blocked by people's houses that had left their foundation. I climbed over a fence and crawled over building debris and walked through mud. When I got to my house it was still burning.

When I came back and the fire had settled, there was one thing that was left after I searched through the ashes, and it was a candlestick that my great-grandmother had carried over from Poland in her pockets when she came to Ellis Island. It was the simplest, most prized possession that I had and it gave me a sense of hope, especially today being Yom Kippur, that we will survive, our town will survive, and there's hope to rebuild.

KEILAR: I mean, if that's not an omen I don't know what is. You're left with one thing and it's something so incredibly meaningful there.


KEILAR: So you have hope that you're rebuilding. I know that you're helping with community fundraising efforts. What are the biggest needs?

HERNSTADT: I am. The needs are so great right now. People don't have shelter, they don't have vehicles, they don't have food, they don't have water, they don't have clothing.

There's an organization -- a number of organizations that have joined together. The Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation, the Woman's Club, and the Kiwanis Club is also helping through #WeAreFMBFund. And you can find that on Facebook and you can find the website for the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation to make donations. They've already been gathering funds.

The Kiwanis Club has been handing out clothing for free, handing out housewares -- anything that people need that they have in their thrift shop. They've opened their doors. The thrift shop was damaged but they put all the items out in the front. And anybody who has been suffering these losses and has a need can show up there and receive what they need.

KEILAR: I just want to make sure --

HERNSTADT: I also want to say that our town -- um-hum?

KEILAR: I will say we will make sure --


KEILAR: -- that we share -- no, that's OK. We'll make sure that we share that --


KEILAR: -- on social media so --


KEILAR: -- that it's out there.

I do want to ask you -- I know -- look, Lee County was --


KEILAR: -- hit so hard and that's just going to be the reality of it is that Lee County suffers so much because of that. Is it that or is it also, in your opinion, the evacuation notice going out when it did? Do you think -- do you think that lives could have been saved if people had a little more notice? What are you hearing from people? HERNSTADT: Yes. I really -- I can't predict on something or make a guess on something from the past. I know that Floridians are tough and my community is tough, and a lot of people wanted to stay with their homes, and I understand that. And I think because maybe Irma wasn't as bad as we had expected, there was hope that maybe this wouldn't be as bad. But I can't point fingers and I think that we need to look forward and think about how we're going to recover from this rather than look backwards.

KEILAR: Yes, and you are spending so much effort doing that, Jessica -- it's really amazing, even though your family has suffered so much material loss in this.

We thank you so much. We wish you the best of luck as you rebuild. We know it's going to be tough. Thank you.

HERNSTADT: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: U.K.'s prime minister speaking to her party this morning after a rocky first month on the job. Now, former President Trump is praising her tax plan that she pulled. We are live from England, next.

BERMAN: Angelina Jolie details abuse allegations against ex-husband Brad Pitt involving a mid-air altercation. How Pitt is responding this morning.



BERMAN: This morning, British Prime Minister Liz Truss says her three economic priorities are growth, growth, and growth. This was in a speech to her Conservative Party conference. It comes after fierce criticism for her sort of backtrack on her tax-cutting agenda. But her plan is receiving praise from the United States, from former U.S. President Donald Trump.

CNN's Bianca Nobilo live in Birmingham at the Conservative Party conference. How welcomed is this praise, do you expect, from Donald Trump?

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the former president spoke to a media outlet in the United Kingdom, which is perceived to be quite on the right wing. He said that he thought Truss was very nice, very good, and that he applauded her economic policies, saying that he'd made big tax cuts and they've been good for business and that he was surprised that she was having as much criticism against her policies as she is, and that he suspects in the long-term that she might be right.

Well, these are the policies, which have caused members of the prime minister's own party to blame her for them plummeting around 30 points in the polls. I mean, that is disastrous for a government.

Now, in terms of how welcomed this is, not really. Because the prime minister is trying to win over the center ground of her party, not those on the right. And the center ground are not going to appreciate the former president's comments because after January 6 and the recent legal dramas, he's not exactly a voice that will instill much confidence in terms of his opinions in the prime minister, John.


BERMAN: So, she's trying to dig herself out -- the prime minister is. How was the speech received that she just gave?

NOBILO: It was received very well by her supporters -- a stronger performance than we've seen over recent weeks. But the bar is very low. She's not known for having much charisma or being very good on stage or addressing large crowds. And it's one thing to win over your supporters but quite another to try and convince your detractors that you deserve more time.

But let's have our audience take a listen to one part of the speech, which everyone here is talking about.


LIZ TRUSS, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now, later on in my speech, my friends, I'm going to talk about the anti-growth coalition. But I think -- I think -- I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early. They were meant -- they were meant to come later on. So we'll get on to them -- we'll get on to them -- we'll get on to them in a few minutes.


NOBILO: Improvising her way out of that kind of embarrassing heckling moment from the environmental group has won the prime minister some (INAUDIBLE) among her supporters. And that show of energy which she displayed today, also helpful. She's bought herself a bit more time.

But indubitably, she is much more fragile in her position this week than she was last. And most lawmakers are saying to me that she has until Christmas to prove that she's the right person to be in this post.

BERMAN: You have to start somewhere. Until Christmas -- not that long of a time.

Bianca Nobilo, thank you so much for your reporting.

KEILAR: Many Republican lawmakers have downplayed the severity of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has been one of the worst defenders in that. He has falsely claimed there was no violence that day. And then this week, he said this.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): To call what happened on January 6 an armed insurrection, I just think is not accurate. You saw the pictures inside the Capitol. I saw it that day. The armed insurrectionists stayed within the rope lines in the Rotunda. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Joining us now to help us fact-check this claim is CNN reporter Daniel Dale. Daniel, tell us.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER (via Webex by Cisco): Brianna, there are two questions here I think. Number one, was what happening on January 6 an insurrection? Number two, was it armed?

On the insurrection question, I think, and a whole lot of experts think that what transpired clearly meets the various dictionary definitions of the word. And at least one state court has ruled that it was, indeed, an insurrection.

But I don't want to get bogged down in a language debate here because whether you call it an insurrection or a riot, or whatever else, it sure was armed and it sure was violent. Certainly, much more armed and much more violent than Sen. Johnson suggested in these comments and in a bunch of equally misleading comments he's made in the past.

So let's get specific here. Here are figures from the Department of Justice.

About 269 people have, so far, been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees on January 6, including approximately 96 who have been charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.

Now, there's some overlap with this next group, but approximately 84 people have been charged with entering restricted Capitol grounds with a dangerous or deadly weapon. There's that word "weapon" again.

Now, Sen. Johnson you heard scoffed at the idea that this could be an armed insurrection if some of the people involved stayed within rope lines at the Capitol. Well, some people unlawfully in the Capitol that day stayed within rope lines.

But, come on. We know for a fact that dozens and dozens of other participants stormed congressional chambers. They shattered windows. They damaged the premises. They stole property. They threatened to harm legislators and officers, and they did harm officers. Approximately 140 were assaulted.

Now, how did they harm officers? Often with arms -- with those weapons.

All you have to do is watch a few seconds of January 6 footage or read about just a few of the court cases to know that the insurrectionists -- the rioters were armed. They had knives. They had batons, poles, axes, bear spray, tasers. And yes, we know for a fact that some had actual guns.

Now, one man who brought a gun to the Capitol and also threatened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was sentenced to more than seven years in prison. Another man pleaded guilty to carrying a loaded revolver. He lost it that day and it was, indeed, recovered by the authorities. A third man who has pleaded not guilty was arrested allegedly trying

to flee Capitol grounds with another loaded handgun. And a fourth man charged, who was an off-duty DEA agent, posed for a photo that day on Capitol ground with what very much appeared to be his service weapon.

Now, we will very much probably never know how many precisely guns were carried on Capitol grounds that day because the authorities were so overwhelmed we know that they left the vast majority of participants go home before they were eventually arrested.

So the fact that they didn't confiscate tons of guns that day, which Sen. Johnson in these latest comments wielded like some sort of definitive fact, does not tell even close to the whole story. But again, we know for sure that there were some guns on Capitol grounds.