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Hala Gorani Tonight
Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire; Justice Department Call For Lighter Roger Stone Sentence; Mobile World Congress Cancelled Due To Coronavirus; Inside The Trump Campaign's Social Media; Concern About Impact On Social Media On Democracy; Formula One Postpones Chinese Gran Prix Due To Virus; Italian Politician Faces Investigation; Technology Aims To Detect Counterfeit Medicine; Samsung's New Flip Phone Features Foldable Glass. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired February 12, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London. I'm Hala Gorani.
Tonight, Bernie Sanders on top, but how big a win is New Hampshire for him? And what does fifth place mean for Joe Biden? We break down the race so
Also, are we on the verge of a full-blown conflict between Turkey and Syria? We talk you through the very latest from the region.
And do you miss the good old flip phone? Well, Samsung is hoping its newest product will be a hit with consumers after a few costly misses.
One progressive, one centrist, both emerging as the Democratic candidates to beat -- for now, at least -- in the high-stakes race for the White
Bernie Sanders came out on top, he narrowly won Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. But Pete Buttigieg put up a tough fight. Amy Klobuchar is also
making headlines for her last-minute surge. She capitalized on a strong debate performance to come in third.
Another big takeaway is the lackluster finish for Elizabeth Warren and a name you don't even see on this graphic? Joe Biden, Joe Biden came in
fifth. Now, Warren and Biden are limping out of New Hampshire after placing fourth and fifth respectively.
Former Vice President Biden, who was -- you'll remember -- once the very clear frontrunner, is saying it's not over yet. The race is now shifting to
Nevada and South Carolina, two much more diverse states. But Bernie Sanders predicts he'll win there as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a great grassroots organization, both in Nevada and South Carolina. You know, we
are putting together a multigenerational, multiracial coalition. And I think we're going to do very well in the African-American community and in
the Latino community. We're going to win working-class support all across the board, so we're feeling very good. I think we've got a real shot to win
in both Nevada and South Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, a lot to discuss ahead of those next two crucial primaries, and we'll also bring you what Joe Biden had to say about his fifth-place
finish in New Hampshire. Let's bring in CNN Political Commentator and Democratic Strategist, Karen Finney.
So I'm going to ask you the question I asked at the top of the hour.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You got it.
GORANI: How big of a victory is this for Sanders? Can he sustain this momentum, do you think?
FINNEY: Well, it is certainly a big victory and an important one, not just because of the overall win but remember that it's an allocation of
delegates. So -- and the -- it's really all about the delegates at the end of the day because that's how you win the nomination.
So he will -- you know, having won, he wins a substantial number of delegates, coming out of this race. And the -- but the question is, you
know, actually, if you take -- you mentioned Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Klobuchar. And what's sort of interesting is, if you combine their numbers,
the moderate sort of center-left seems to be having bigger numbers than the margin of the win that Senator Sanders had --
FINNEY: So I think we're going to see that dynamic play itself out a bit in Nevada and South Carolina, and we'll see, you know, what the voters have
to say about it.
GORANI: That was kind of the case for the Republican primary contest, four years ago, where you had the outlier sort of candidate in Donald Trump who
really, so very few people predicted, would become the nominee, certainly not the president.
Joe Biden, fifth position, this is what he had to say about the race so far -- Karen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just heard from the first two of 50 states, two of them. Not all the nation, not half the nation, not a
quarter of the nation, not 10 percent. Two, two. Now, where I come from, that's the opening bell.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Should he be concerned, Karen?
FINNEY: Of course. I mean, look, he's right that it -- you know, and also the four states, that's going to end up being about 5 percent of the total
number of delegates. But he should be concerned because, look, he's been in a caucus state, which is an organizational -- you know, organizing
challenge. And now in a primary state.
And, you know, Pete Buttigieg showed that even with Senator Sanders' sort of neighboring state advantage, he -- you know, it is -- it was possible to
do quite well. And so the campaign is going to have to take a hard look at how are they generating excitement, what are they doing to not just, you
know, reach out to voters but mobilize them, get them to the polls, get them to the caucuses.
He is also correct, though. You know, there's one pattern that has really changed, I think, the nature of the strategy and people are kind of slow to
catch on. If you look at 2008 and 2016, both contests went on into -- well into the spring and summer. So I always --
FINNEY: -- tell people, settle in because it's -- he's right that we have a ways to go yet before we have a clear decision coming out of the
GORANI: It's certainly, based on every single race in the past, too early to call anything, certainly not the frontrunner.
But I guess --
GORANI: -- the question is, before I get to who you believe might be best positioned against Trump, Amy Klobuchar, she looked delighted with the New
GORANI: Is she -- I mean, and she's getting this new kind of injection of energy and donors as well. What are her chances?
FINNEY: Well, she's looking good. I mean, she -- we expect she'll raise quite a bit of money and get a nice bump, coming out of New Hampshire, for
that. And that gives her the opportunity both to take a look at putting more staff and resources on the ground in Nevada and South Carolina.
And then also, remember, just a few days after South Carolina, we've got Super Tuesday.
FINNEY: So for her, it gives her an opportunity to potentially kind of plan down the road.
Here's her big challenge, though. You know, she's a former prosecutor, and she has a mixed record that she has not really had to defend --
FINNEY: -- and certainly in a state like South Carolina, people are going to have tough questions for her about some of the choices she made as
prosecutor, particularly regarding African-Americans, her stance on criminal justice reform. So she's yet to face that kind of scrutiny. I
expect we'll see that more in the next couple of weeks and we'll have to see how she does.
GORANI: We're already seeing, by the way, Michael Bloomberg have to explain --
GORANI: -- some comments that he made about stop and frisk when he was mayor of New York, that went down very poorly with some potential voters,
once he does enter the race in earnest in a few weeks.
Why is the Democratic establishment so reluctant -- it seems to me, anyway -- to embrace Bernie Sanders? Clearly, he's now a very serious contender, a
frontrunner after two races. And Hillary Clinton, who you of course worked with, four years ago, she doubled down on some disparaging comments about
Sanders. Why is that?
FINNEY: Yes. Well, so I think there are a couple of things going on here. Number one, I think Senator Sanders has to do a better job -- and I think
you heard him start to do this -- of really defining what does it mean to be a democratic socialist?
Because there is kind of an age gap in how different people in different parts of this country think about socialism. Younger voters have a very
different perspective than, you know, someone like myself who, you know, understands those dynamics from the perspective of a World War II and South
And so I think that's part of it because I think what people are concerned about is that there's a huge opening there for Trump and what we know is
going to be a vicious general election campaign to really, really demonize that moniker.
And will -- and the question is, can Senator Sanders build --
GORANI: Well --
FINNEY: -- the coalition and be tough enough to fight back?
GORANI: We've got to wrap up in a second. But I mean, the centrist candidate didn't win, four years ago, against Donald Trump. And is this
perhaps -- against Donald Trump, is there that anger that Democratic voters say is motivating them, that desire to beat Trump, is Bernie Sanders the
one to take on the current president?
FINNEY: Well, I think that is the question that I think voters are going to test out over the course of the coming weeks and in the coming contest.
You know, like the very important fact that we had such high turnout, you know, nearing 2008 levels in New Hampshire is a very positive sign.
A lot of us Democrats were concerned to see low turnout coming out of Iowa. And so that shows that there is energy and enthusiasm, just within the
party broadly, to, you know, come out and have their say and find the right candidate to beat Donald Trump.
GORANI: Karen Finney, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
FINNEY: Thank you.
GORANI: Well, Democrats on Capitol Hill are saying they're angry, that they're demanding an investigation after the Justice Department in the
United States withdrew a sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally.
Now, you remember Roger Stone -- very recognizable figure -- he was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering last year, and
prosecutors had recommended a lengthy prison sentence of seven to nine years.
President Trump denies that he's pressuring the Justice Department. But in an early-morning tweet, he praised Attorney General Bill Barr for, quote,
"taking charge of a case that was totally out of control," unquote.
TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Congratulations to Attorney General Bill Barr for taking charge of a case that was totally out of control and perhaps should
not have even been brought. Evidence now clearly shows that the Mueller Scam was improperly brought & tainted. Even Bob Mueller lied to Congress!
GORANI: The final decision on Roger Stone's sentence will be up to the judge but as our Laura Jarrett reports, the Justice Department's move
shocked many observers.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A stunning development as four federal prosecutors withdraw from Roger Stone's case after top Justice
Department officials overruled their sentence recommendation, calling it too harsh.
Stone, a longtime confidante of President Trump, was convicted last year of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing the House
investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia, a case that stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Prosecutors originally told a federal judge that Stone should serve seven to nine years in prison. But then, the president expressed his outrage on
Twitter, calling it a "very unfair situation," adding, "Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice."
Hours later, Justice Department leaders intervened. One senior Justice Department official tells CNN that the sentencing recommendation that
prosecutors made was not communicated to leadership at the department before it was submitted.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This seems to be a full-scale reversal in a politically charged case by the Department of Justice. I've never seen
anything like it.
JARRETT (voice-over): The official went on to say, quote, "The department was shocked to see the sentencing recommendation... The department believes
the recommendation is extreme and excessive and is grossly disproportionate to Stone's offenses."
Ultimately, the presiding judge in the case will have the final say on Stone's sentence.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The idea that this was just adjustments on the sentence that are somehow routine? Nonsense. This is
nothing routing about this.
Now, the one thing I would add is that I do think that the seven to nine years recommendation was very high, I was surprised by it.
JARRETT (voice-over): A Justice Department spokeswoman insists that the White House was not involved in overruling the prosecutors.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was ridiculous that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask the Justice Department --
TRUMP: -- no, I didn't speak to the Justice -- I'd be able to do it if I wanted, I have the absolute right to do it.
JARRETT (voice-over): Still, in a series of tweets overnight, the president continued to rail against the prosecutors, the judge and the
case, saying it's "all starting to unravel with the ridiculous 9-year sentence recommendation."
Democratic leadership in Congress, outraged by the president's rhetoric.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I have called for an investigation by the Office of Inspector General. This political interference by the president
of the United States, using the attorney general as his henchman, is not only an insult to the career dedicated prosecutors, but also to the jurors,
ordinary Americans who served on that jury and convicted Roger Stone of nine serious felonies.
GORANI: That was Laura Jarrett reporting.
Let's hear more, now, from Elie Honig. He's a former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst, and he joins me now from New York.
One former DOJ official said, "This is a four-alarm fire." Do you agree that this is a case of the president interfering in a federal case? And how
concerned are you?
HONIG: I do agree this is a very big deal. This is about far more than how many months or years Roger Stone ends up doing behind bars. This has to do
with the fundamental integrity and independence of the Justice Department.
I've never seen, I don't think in any modern times, we've ever seen a president cross the line and interfere in specific individual criminal
prosecutions being done out of the Justice Department. It sets a very problematic precedent, especially when the one case the president has
deigned to weigh in on is one involving his close associate, who was convicted of lying to Congress in order to protect the Trump campaign.
There's an obvious conflict of interest there and it goes, really, to the core of what the Justice Department is about.
GORANI: Shouldn't the attorney general then be pushing back against this type of interference that you're describing?
HONIG: Absolutely. The attorney general's viewpoint here should be hands off, all due respect, Mr. President, I'm the attorney general, I'll manage
the Justice Department.
And by the way -- but William Barr has to be careful here too because the move that he made, by jumping in and overruling his own prosecutors, who
had already gone on record requesting a seven- to nine-year sentence, then William Barr's top brass put in a memo, saying, no, we disagree? That is
completely unprecedented, completely unheard-of.
And, again, the same questions arise. Here, you have a high-ranking member of the Justice Department, choosing to take this unprecedented step to
request a lower sentence in which case? Of all the thousands of cases out there, the Roger Stone case, which happens to be the one that Donald Trump
had just tweeted about.
GORANI: So you're saying this sets a precedent. Does this mean that a president in office after Donald Trump -- in fact potentially a Democrat --
could do the same thing and this has now been normalized?
HONIG: I really hope that whatever president follows Donald Trump in whatever year it is, whatever party he or she comes from, does not follow
this example. Look, there's no law on the books saying the president is not legally permitted to have anything to do with the Justice Department. It's
one of these norms, though --
HONIG: -- that Donald Trump has broken, and I think one of the more harmful ones. And so I hope that future presidents do not emulate this
model, it will be up to them.
But when you start compromising the independence of the Justice Department, you are going down a very dangerous path.
GORANI: Elie Honig, as always, thanks so much for joining us.
HONIG: Thanks, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Some news about the coronavirus outbreak. The World Health Organization says that the outbreak could still go in any direction,
although there is some encouraging news. China reported the lowest daily number of new cases in two weeks. And according to the numbers, new cases
of coronavirus have been stabilizing, so that is positive.
But the WHO is warning, that needs to be interpreted with, quote, "extreme caution." They say it's too soon to say that this outbreak is peaking.
More than 1,100 people have died so far, all but two of them in mainland China. Still very much localized, there in that area highlighted in red on
the map. And there have been more than 45,000 cases confirmed.
Well, China is trying to turn the world's focus on people who survived the virus. David Culver speaks to some of them.
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a rising death toll and a growing number of confirmed cases, these are the images most often
associated with the novel coronavirus. But firsthand accounts confirm, the deadly virus can be beaten.
Chinese state media has shifted much of its coverage to these images. They appear to show patients who survived the illness, flowers in hand as they
leave the hospital. Their faces, blurred, as even China state media acknowledges the stigma associated with those infected, even after they've
We connected with two patients who were not part of that state media photo op. They, likewise, asked that we not reveal their identities. But CNN did
review their medical records, showing that they had been diagnosed and since recovered from the coronavirus.
TIGER YEE, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR: At first (ph), my result is positive. So I've been chosen (ph).
CULVER (voice-over): This 21-year-old college student, who asked we call him Tiger Yee, says he was attending language courses at a school in early
January near the Wuhan seafood market, believed to be ground zero of the virus.
He started feeling sore and sick to his stomach in mid-January. Initially, he tried treating it with cold medicine. But with each passing day, it got
YEE: My dad (ph) realized that something -- maybe something wrong has happened. So my dad urged me to -- back to home, immediately.
CULVER (voice-over): He then started running a fever, and decided to go to the hospital.
YEE: It's a real mess. It's a lot of people, a lot of nurses and doctors in the fever --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fever clinic.
CULVER (voice-over): Yee eventually found a less crowded hospital, willing to test him. His positive diagnosis gave him quick access to antiviral
drugs, which he says proved effective. Within a week, he said he was already feeling better.
Video-chatting (ph) with us from a nearby city, this 31-year-old Wuhan engineer describes his initial diagnosis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I was scared and fearful, having contracted this disease.
CULVER (voice-over): He said getting tested took days because of scarce hospital testing resources. When his case was finally confirmed and he was
admitted for treatment, he felt confident that he could battle through the illness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I think for the young and the strong, the disease is more like a heavy cold, only that it is highly
contagious so it causes panic.
CULVER (voice-over): The road to recovery varies for each person. For some, it's easier than others. Both men we spoke with said they finished
their treatments but no flower bouquet sendoff back home, as they are currently in government-monitored hotel quarantines, getting tested
regularly to make sure the illness does not return.
David Culver, CNN, Beijing.
GORANI: And by the way, the World Health Organization has been holding a press conference about the virus. Scott McLean is here with me, covering
And we have Hadas Gold who is with us on breaking news we're just getting about the global World Congress, Hadas. And this is the biggest mobile sort
of summit, congress meeting that usually happens every year in Barcelona, and you have news about it?
HADAS GOLD, CNN REPORTER: Yes. So the Mobile World Congress is now officially cancelled, this is just coming in in the last few minutes. What
happened was, a lot of these major companies -- companies like Sony, Ericsson, Amazon, Facebook -- were all pulling out of this conference --
GOLD: -- over fears of the coronavirus. They said they didn't want to subject their employees, vendors or customers to being in a conference that
has usually around 100,000 people in it, about 5 percent of whom come from China.
Now, despite the actions that the conference said they were taking -- they said they were going to temperature-scan people, they were going to ban
anybody from attending who had been in China in the last 14 days.
That clearly wasn't enough because how can you have one of the biggest telecom conferences in the world without some of the biggest brands in the
world there, representing, showing off their phone, showing off their materials?
For example, Sony, instead of being at the conference and showing off its new phone, said it was going to do it on YouTube instead. And so
essentially, it became unsustainable and the Mobile World Congress said in a statement, it was due (ph) regard to the safe and healthy of -- safety of
everybody who would be attending in Barcelona, they just couldn't sustain it anymore and they had to cancel the conference.
GORANI: And that is surprising because it's happening in Barcelona, though, as you said, 5 percent of attendants come from China, which is
there the concern --
GOLD: Right. I think also, the concern was just when you have that many people all in one place --
GOLD: -- who have been probably traveling all over the world -- and just you have the fears, people have fears about their employees who may not
want to go. These companies just said they didn't want to take the risk.
GORANI: Scott, we have new numbers. So the WHO is saying, we can't say we're peaking yet but the rate of increase appears to be slowing?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So the number of new case being announced every day, it appears to be stabilizing and that is reassuring
news, that they say, but they're certainly not out of the woods yet.
They say the reason that's happening is largely because of this massive public health operation that's happening in China, and that needs to
continue in order for that trend to continue as well.
One of the bright signs that they say is that the virus does not appear to be spreading that aggressively outside of the country. They've been able to
trace almost all of the cases outside of China with the exception of just eight of them, and only about a quarter of them are passed on to people who
didn't already come from China.
They say that the greatest fear that they have at this stage is that it would spread to an unstable country where they didn't have the control
mechanisms like we have in the West, and like they're instituting in China.
One other thing that was interesting that they pointed out is that the death rate seems to be increasing while the numbers of new cases seems to
be stabilizing. And the reason that they say that is because there were a couple of peaks a couple of weeks ago, where people maybe were fragile,
maybe they were kept alive by, you know, modern medicine for quite some time.
But many of them just simply were not going to survive, and so they're seeing a bit of peak, they think there's going to be a lag and then a
decrease, hopefully, if this trend continues.
GORANI: Yes. And there was a man who had come back from Singapore via a French ski resort, and had infected several people. That man is declared
MCLEAN: Yes, that's right. So this man had gone to a sales conference in Singapore, and then he went directly on vacation to the French Alps, stayed
a couple of days there, then went back to the U.K.
Only then, after visiting a local pub, did he realize that he may have been infected with the virus. He eventually -- when he did get that positive
diagnosis -- went into quarantine, here in London in a hospital.
He has now been declared fully recovered. He took two tests within a 24- hour time period, both of them came back negative and so the local -- the National Health Service, I should say, in England is now saying he's not a
risk to anyone and he can go home.
GORANI: Right. Even though there's one new case.
But I need to ask you about the business impact here, the economic effect of this virus, especially on countries that rely on goods from China in
their supply chain.
GOLD: Well, listen, I mean, we were just talking about phones for example. So obviously, Apple relies a lot on China to manufacture its iPhones. And
analysts I've spoken to said that if one of Apple's suppliers, which is known as Foxconn, every week that Foxconn is not operating from now on,
that's about a million fewer iPhones we're going to see in the system per year.
So we might not see the full effects of this coming, really, until the holiday season, perhaps, but we're already expecting a hit, for example on
the mobile phone market, because of the impact of the virus.
GORANI: All right. Hadas Gold, Scott McLean, thanks very much to both of you.
A lot more to come, this evening, including this: a chaotic scene in northwest Syria, coalition forces are attacked and there is a new threat of
GORANI: Well, the conflict in Syria is once again teetering on escalation. Turkey's president is threatening to attack Syrian forces if any more
Turkish soldiers are hurt there. Listen to Erdogan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): If there is the smallest injury to our soldiers on the observation posts or other
places, I am declaring, from here, that we will hit the regime forces everywhere from today, regardless of the lines of the Sochi agreement or
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GORANI: Well, Turkey deployed military vehicles into Syria after several of its soldiers were killed by Syrian regime artillery fire there. But
these Turkish tanks you see, here rolling into Binnish, Syria, are just the latest signs of an increasingly tense situation.
CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, who's been inside Syria many times over the last several years and knows that part of
the country well, joins me now in the studio. So let's talk about these fears of a full-blown conflict now between Turkey and Syrian regime forces.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SENIOR EDITOR: We're kind of already seeing that, really. Turkey had some casualties over a week ago, they
responded by killing Syrian regime soldiers. And we've seen that happen again.
And this is, I think, the first time, really, in the last nine years of war -- nine years of war -- that we've seen two actual nation-states exchange
fire consistently. Yes, the Americans have bombed Syrian targets after chemical weapons attacks --
PATON WALSH: -- yes, the Israelis have hit things inside Syria as well. But this is the first real-time consistent fighting between two nation-
GORANI: And there was a video released over the last two days of a regime helicopter, shot down by Turkey-backed rebels. Were they using surface-to-
air missiles? Because if they were, it's fair to ask, did Turkey supply this weaponry to them?
PATON WALSH: Yes. I mean, we've seen instances in the past where helicopters have been taken out of the sky by rebels, people have asked
questions as to what weaponry may have done that, was it a lucky shot with an RPG or whatever. It's not clear exactly what occurred here, but it was
in the aftermath of deaths of Turkish soldiers. So this consistent pattern of violence continues to escalate.
People thought perhaps that President Erdogan might be able to get on the phone with his new friend, Vladimir Putin in Moscow, that backs the Syrian
regime, and calm this all down. They did that today, and it hasn't changed matters.
So we're really seeing here a potential danger here that Turkey may by accident end up hitting Russian troops who are in the area there, assisting
the Syrian regime, and really has a lot of bad options.
Now it has to take control of this terrible mess in Idlib, where there are millions of civilians and al-Qaida extremists in their mix (ph). But at the
same time, too, it knows the escalation could be outrageous.
GORANI: There's a picture that was widely shared online today -- you know which one I'm talking about -- a checkpoint near Qamishli in Syria --
PATON WALSH: (INAUDIBLE) that -- yes, right.
GORANI: I mean, this is Syria basically, that part of Syria today. You have a regime flag, you have Russian flags, you have a U.S. flag. What is
going on here?
PATON WALSH: Well, here's your problem, really, in that ever since Donald Trump said to President Erdogan that he had a green light to go in against
the Syrian Kurds, the American presence there has -- not been unwelcome, because there still are people who want them to stay around, but -- it's
been complicated by the fact that they (ph) really (ph) know his boss doesn't really want them to stick around that long.
In that instance, there, you see them caught between regime positions with the Russian who have, it seems, according to social media, been blocking
their patrols intermittently, or at least running into the Americans.
At time (ph) -- we had a troubling incident today outside of Qamishli, in which it appears that some Syrian regime troops -- or perhaps militia,
working with them -- blocked the passage of U.S. troops. Possibly they were fired upon, an exchange of fire certainly occurred. The Americans, one of
their officials said they killed a Syrian regime soldier.
But startling moment there, where we've seen -- possibly we see (ph) the Syrian regime toe-to-toe with the Americans, much faster de-escalated but -
GORANI: I mean, a polite way of saying it is, it's a complete mess. Other words were used online --
PATON WALSH: Yes.
GORANI: -- to describe what's going on. But it just also tells us that the -- any resolution, any kind of sort of pacification of that part of the
country is way off.
PATON WALSH: Yes. I mean, look, Turkey's got a major problem in that it has to live with whatever endgame comes through in Syria. And that's why it
went for the Syrian Kurds last year, and that's why it's trying to influence events in Idlib.
Because it knows it doesn't want al-Qaida to its south, but it can't have millions of refugees pouring into Turkey if the Russians and the Syrian
regime get their way and continue their offensive. It needs to form some kind of line. It probably hopes Moscow will come to the rescue --
GORANI: Because that way, Turkey's going after the regime?
PATON WALSH: Well, because it needs to certainly stop these millions of refugees pouring north, or it has a refugee crisis again and maybe Europe
has one as well, afterwards. But it's possibly hoping Putin will come to their aid, but that looks unlikely, frankly, because his interests are in
line with Ankara right now.
GORANI: And by the way, the -- some rescue and NGOs and nongovernmental organizations and charities in that part of Syria are saying children are
dying from the cold. So --
PATON WALSH: Bitterly cold --
GORANI: Yet again, civilians displaced many times, children dying, elderly people as well.
Thank you very much, Nick Paton Walsh for explaining and breaking down that complex situation in Syria.
Still to come tonight. Censorship by noise, a look at how Donald Trump's reelection campaign is weaponizing social media in ways never before seen.
Plus, going nowhere, the Chinese Grand Prix canceled over fears of the coronavirus.
GORANI: Let's get back to the race for the White House. While the Democrats are battling to see who will be the nominee, Donald Trump is not just
sitting back and waiting. He's raising money and he's launching a very sophisticated social media operation.
It features videos like the one we are seeing here now on our screen. Online videos often stretch the truth or just outright lie, there is so
much these days, confusing, false or misleading information out there that it is hard to find the truth. Scholars have come up with a term for that,
they call it censorship by noise.
Writer, McKay Coppins, took a deep dive into all of this for an article just published in the Atlantic, and he joins me now, "The Billion-Dollar
Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President," author of "The Wilderness," a book about the Republican Party's effort to retake the White
house in 2016. McKay Coppins joins us now live.
So, McKay, thanks for being with us. And regardless of your -- of which political party you belong to, or which candidate you support, your article
is just terrifying. This notion that public opinion and campaigns can use misinformation to influence electoral outcomes.
Talk to us about how the Trump campaign weaponized Facebook in particular in 2016, and how they are doing it again for this election.
MCKAY COPPINS, WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. You got to the heart of it here. The president's campaign in 2016, you have to remember was a pretty low key
kind of bootstrapped operation. They didn't have a lot of money compared to the Clinton campaign. But what they found was that they could get a lot of
bang for their buck by going heavy on Facebook advertising.
And so there was a five-month period during the 2016 election when the Trump campaign spent -- placed 5.3 million ads on Facebook compared to just
66,000 ads from the Clinton campaign. So Facebook kind of became central to their strategy and that's continued to be true going forward into the 2020
What they do, and as part of the research for this story I actually created, a separate Facebook account designed to immerse myself in
disinformation that the Trump campaign is pointing out.
What they do is they just put out a torrent kind of an overwhelming amount of content every day videos, headlines, memes, you know, all manner of
content designed to kind of warp your understanding of what's happening in the news.
Now, sometimes this is standard issue partisan spin, right? During the impeachment proceedings, you had a lot of ads kind of echoing the
president's rhetoric about how impeachment was a coup.
But then you also had videos that straight up, took elements of the impeachment hearings out of context and recut them to make it appear as
almost the opposite of what actually happened. It did happen. And you mentioned 2016 and also 2019, we have fingers for that fate. The number of
Facebook ads by the Trump campaign.
You can see there are over 200,000. And the other candidates in the Democratic field dwarfed by Donald Trump in terms of the number of ads. Why
do you think the Democratic candidates have not learned the 2016 lesson, at least, as far as Facebook ads are concerned, it seems?
COPPINS: You know, there is an entrenched element of the political consulting class in the Democratic Party that continues to hold to the
belief that the best way to reach voters is through TV ads, that airing TV commercials is the tried and true method.
And I -- there is a kind of a new generation of Democrats that starting to realize that they need to be able to fight on the same playing field as the
But one big element here is that the Trump campaign just has a lot more money. The president formed his reelection campaign as soon as he was
inaugurated and started raising money right away.
And so as the Democrats are kind of battling it out in the primaries to decide who's going to be the nominee, the Trump campaign is just rolling
forward with an unprecedented war chest. They plan to spend a billion dollars on this year's election, and that'll be more than any presidential
campaign in history.
How could we measure how much of an impact these ads had on voters in 2016? How can we be sure that the win is partly attributable to these Facebook
ads and these social media campaigns?
COPPINS: It's really hard to attribute a victory in a presidential campaign to any one factor. Political scientists have been debating this and
studying this for years now.
What we can say is that it's definitely you can quantify that it's helped them raise more money than other campaigns. We can also say that Facebook
itself appears to believe even against their own political interests. A lot of their employees are not Republicans, but that they believe that the
Trump campaign won, in part, because of Facebook. There was a leaked memo from an executive at Facebook recently saying that he won -- Trump won
because he ran the single best digital advertising campaign he had ever seen.
GORANI: And I guess the question is, can you ever put the genie back in the bottle here? I mean, are we now, that's it, condemned to, you know, lies,
misinformation, distortions online, whether it's from a Republican candidate or a Democratic candidate if that's how Democratic candidates
believe is the only way they can win is play by those rules.
COPPINS: Well, the platforms have a lot of responsibility here. Facebook, when they place commercial ads, actually, do subject those ads to fact
checking. They do not do the same thing with ads by politicians. And so, you know, Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, could, today, decide actually we are
going to subject these things to fact checking, and that could put a dent in it.
But the reality is, it's very hard to outsource questions about political speech to Silicon Valley companies. And I think everybody at this moment is
trying to figure out if there are policy, specific ways to address this problem, or if this is just kind of our dystopian reality going into the
future. And I don't think anyone has a good answer for that at this point.
GORANI: What kind of policy ways for example?
COPPINS: Well, Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate has talked about cracking down on a specific kind of online disinformation, making it
illegal to, for example, post ads that direct voters to the wrong voting location or tell people the Election Day is on our wrong day. That's one
narrow part of disinformation, but that could help theoretically.
There are also questions about how much these platforms should be shielded from liability. Some people have proposed amending American laws to make it
so that the platforms like Facebook and Twitter have to monitor their content that's being posted on their platforms aggressively or else,
they'll be held liable for what's being posted.
There are a lot of other ideas, but these are some of the things that are being tossed out right now.
GORANI: Do you -- do you think Democrats, this election will sort of get with the program until there's some sort of policy control over content on
social media platforms, and kind of also flood platforms like Facebook with political advertisements?
COPPINS: You know, we're talking about two different things here. On the one hand, I do think Democrats are starting to wake up to the reality that
they need to be digital first, if they're going to compete in this in disinformation ecosystem. But how they use those tools matter.
And I've reported in this piece on an open debate that's taking place among Democratic strategist about how willing they are to cross the same lines
that the Trump campaign has been glassing.
COPPINS: Some Democratic strategists have...
GORANI: I guess that was my question, McKay -- I guess that was my question, McKay. Because if the calculation is made within a campaign,
look, in order to fight fire with fire, we've got to do this. Do you think they'll take that step?
COPPINS: I don't know. But I know that some Democratic strategists are openly arguing for that position, saying that we have to fight in the world
that we have. And there is nothing that we can -- we can't change the realities.
I would just say that as a journalist who doesn't have a particular dog in the partisan fight, I would just say my bias is toward truth and accuracy.
And I think it's a very dangerous thing to allow our information ecosystem to kind of collapse into this dystopian, you know, free for all, because
the repercussions of that will last well beyond this election cycle.
GORANI: McKay Coppins, thanks so much. Fantastic piece of report in The Atlantic, and I encourage all our viewers to check it out. Thanks for
COPPINS: Thank you.
GORANI: Back to one of our top stories. The impact of the corona virus just this hour, the Mobile World Congress Conference became the latest event
canceled because of health fears.
And earlier, Formula One announced that the Chinese Grand Prix had been postponed. The decision came after the events promoter officially requested
that the shanghai race scheduled for mid-April will be delayed.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.
CNN World Sports Patrick Snell joins me now live with more.
And this is -- there's a lot of money attached to this event, a Grand Prix race. How surprising is it that it's -- that even that is being postponed?
And this was scheduled for April, so it wasn't like in a few days like the mobile -- the World Mobile Congress.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: Correct, Hala. Yes, not surprising. According to my sources, it was expected. And yes, you're
right. This is still an event that were -- was scheduled to be taking place over two months from right now.
But just the context here, the Chinese Grand Prix is just one of the biggest events on the F1 calendar. It's a massive Formula One market there
in that region for the sports owners and organizers are storied event as well. It's been on the book for some 15, 16 years legendary past winners
like Michael Schumacher.
And, of course, Britain's Lewis Hamilton, a six-time winner as well. So the pedigree, Hala, to this event, is huge. But it is in keeping with what
we've been seeing recently in the region. We have already lost a number of sporting events or at least events that have been postponed and we can
actually show you what I'm referring to more specifically here.
We have the indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing, that's been postponed to 2021. Football's Chinese Super League as well, that has been
delayed to start their new season. And also in that region too LPGA women's professional golf events have also had to be rescheduled as well.
But some of the world's biggest names when it comes to the drivers have been speaking out as well. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL RICCIARDO, DRIVER, RENAULT F1: I'm glad that some initiative has been taken and then we're not putting anyone else in in risk. You know,
obviously it's -- it seems like it's still growing and getting a -- I don't want to say out of control, but it still hasn't been controlled to its full
effect and problem is frayed and all that would need to go this week, you know. And they had to make an early call on it.
Hopefully by April, things are controlled. But this is a decision that needed to come soon.
CYRIL ABITEBOUL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT F1: It's a news which is -- which is a sad news as it sort of confirms that there is a very creepy
situation developing over there and that might be -- might last, because not before (INAUDIBLE) that we are -- we are due to raise there.
Having said that, I welcome the fact that it's a -- it's an early decision because we are due to (INAUDIBLE) I believe in next week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNELL: And that's what cloud share, Hala, is that the freight, you know, the deadline for it. As I said at the top, this event was scheduled to be
over two months from right now in mid to late April. The deadline to actually get stuff out there this Friday, Hala.
GORANI: All right. Patrick Snell, thanks very much.
Still to come tonight, in Italy, senators clear the way for prosecutors to investigate the former interior minister for kidnapping. We'll explain
after the break.
GORANI: In Italy, lawmakers have voted to allow an investigation into the former interior minister, Matteo Salvini. The Senate voted to lift his
immunity today, clearing the way for a potential trial on charges of aggravated kidnapping.
This is all related to Salvini's decision not to allow rescued migrants to disembark on Italy's coast last June. Salvini says he welcomes the
investigation and his party, The League, did not participate in this vote.
He's known, of course, for his fiery anti-immigration rhetoric. Barbie Nadeau joins me now live from Rome with more. Barbie?
BARBIE NADEAU, JOURNALIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, it's an interesting kind of twist here for Salvini. On one hand, you know, him on trial saying is it
a crime to defend the country to defend the borders would play into his base.
Now, he pulled power -- his support from this government last August and he's no longer part of the government. But he's really pulling well, his
party's most popular in Italy by all standards and polls right now. So this would really play into his base.
But probably, you know, a more troubling situation here would be a local court, trying to determine if a government policy is criminal, and that, in
fact, is what this would come down to. And that's the precedent that I think will give this court pause before they go any further. Hala?
GORANI: So if he stripped off his immunity and tried and, you know, what maximum sentence does he risk here? What could happen to Salvini as a
NADEAU: Well, the risk is 15 years in prison, but that seems very, very unlikely. It has to go through three levels of judiciary -- judicial
systems here in Italy. It's a very complicated system as we've seen time and time again.
But he would use it, I think, as a platform to really bolster support for that strong, strong man image that he -- that he has been able to portray
so successfully here.
GORANI: So is his political career still -- I mean, will it be unaffected by this?
NADEAU: Well, if he's convicted, eventually of this aggravated kidnapping charge, no, he couldn't run for office, and he wouldn't be able to serve in
government. But during a trial or during any other sort of situation, he could -- he could easily campaign if this government were to fall, if there
was snap election, it wouldn't hurt him at all to be on trial.
At the same time, he's on the campaign trail, especially with regard to his mantra which is keep the closed -- keep the ports closed, keep the migrants
But it is a very complicated and interesting thing. Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister many years ago, faced 32 different criminal trials and he
was only ever convicted of one. And this is not an anomaly, I guess, in terms of the Italian political system.
Barbie Nadeau, thanks very much.
Fake or counterfeit medicines can have deadly consequences. But new technology being developed in Africa aims to help detect those knockoff
Eleni Giokos shows us how it works.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When you reach for a package of painkillers or antibiotics, you probably don't worry that what you're
taking could do more harm than good.
But according to the World Health Organization, sham medicines are one of the world's most lucrative counterfeit trades, worth up to $200 billion
worldwide. Africa accounts for over 40 percent of the world's reported cases.
Ashifi Gogo, founder of Sproxil, is developing technology to help pharmacies and patients on the continent take back control.
ASHIFI GOGO, FOUNDER, SPROXIL: We do this using technology that consumers able to access which allows them to avoid buying potentially harmful and
GIOKOS: While studying for his PhD, Ashifi, was inspired to stop Nigerian suffering due to substandard drugs. He knew from the start that for his
solution to make a difference, it would need to be convenient to use.
Ashifi's solution was Sproxil Defender, and the free service that tells people if their medication is fake.
GOGO: Defender leverages serialization. At the point of purchase, the consumer use your cell phone to send in the code to Sproxil and get a
response right there at the point of purchase indicating if the product is from the right factory, or if the code indicates that it's a suspicious
GIOKOS: Sproxil's first client was Nigerian pharmaceutical company, Biofem. Its founder Femi Soremekun said Defender turned the company's fortunes
SOREMEKUN: When Sproxil came around and the way, you know, talked in this idea of, you know, using technology we, you know, took the plunge and said,
yes, we're going to walk with you only because we've lost over 50 percent of ourselves, so we didn't have many options.
GIOKOS: Ashifi says collaboration with regulators and brand owners, plus consumers trust helps Sproxil to grow. With international accolades to show
for it, he has bigger plans for the future.
GOGO: We've been able to serialize over 2.4 billion products that have been verified by over 25 million patients.
We're expanding across multiple industries, and also adding additional countries. And as we incorporate more advanced technologies like artificial
intelligence and augmented reality in our offerings, we will make life so much easier for patients and consumers around the world.
GORANI: Well, up next, you may flip out at the price of the newest mobile phone on the market. But wait until you see the foldable glass and actions.
Very fancy. We'll talk about that, next.
GORANI: In our modern mobile device world, the flip phone has become a thing of the past. We usually have things like this, the tiny screen and
keypad that we used to use hailed in comparison to all these giant touchscreens that we lug around everywhere.
But the flip is making a comeback, thanks to foldable glass that puts a big screen in a -- in a small package. Samsung just unveiled a new flip phone
this week with a price tag of almost -- hold on to your hats, $1,400.
Joining me now is someone who has seen these fancy new phones, CNN Business Editor, Samantha Kelly. So talk to us about this foldable glass.
SAMANTHA KELLY, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR: Sure. So this is something that everyone is kind of buzzing about. Samsung held a big press event
yesterday. And this is actually a follow-up device to the Galaxy Fold that announced last year. That one was even more expensive. It was $2,000.
There are lots of different issues with that specific device, the hinge would break and there were problems with the screen. So this is a more
revamped version of that. Instead of opening almost like a book, this one has the traditional form factor like you mentioned, that opens more like a
KELLY: And actually, pretty -- you know, it's funny because the flip phone is something from so long ago, but I was playing around with that. And I
missed almost like shutting your phone. I'm so used to always having your phone available in the glowing screen and the notifications and it's really
nice to actually kind of close it.
But at the same time, there's still some design issues. The hinge now, again, is in the center. So when you're kind of moving your finger over the
touch screen, you feel like a slight bump.
So there are certainly some issues that Samsung is trying to work out, but they're certainly trying to make this a thing.
GORANI: So when would it be released? I mean -- because they can't really afford many more mishaps here.
KELLY: Right, exactly. So it's hitting stores actually this Friday. It's a much faster turnaround than the other device that was delayed. And it'll be
really interesting to see if this will draw people to stores.
Right now, I kind of think that this is going to be a niche product. I think it's going to appeal to early adopters, android users. But again, to
your point earlier, it's really expensive.
In fact, it's double the price of some early iPhones, the starting level of some iPhone. So to take a gamble with a concept that's still sort of
working out its kinks is certainly something that people have to consider.
GORANI: Sure. Samantha Kelly, thanks very much.
I don't miss the flip phone. I just really miss a keyboard. I have never -- I think in 100 years, we'll look back at how we've been typing on these
phones. And people will wonder just how we got through a day.
Thanks very much for watching tonight. I'm Hala Gorani. Do stay with CNN. There's a lot more head after a quick break. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is
coming your way.