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Airlines Brace for Busiest Travel Weekend since Pandemic Started; Facebook Says, Russia and Iran are Top Sources of Fake Activity, U.S. in Fourth Place; Police Responding to a Shooting Near Downtown San Jose, California. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 26, 2021 - 10:30   ET



AMANDA CARPENTER, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE BULWARK: You have to remember, we've been through the Mueller investigation, impeachment one, impeachment two, we're talking about a January 6th commission, this investigation. There's another parallel one in New York. There's going to be one in Georgia coming with the recount. I mean, it all sort of blurs together. And this is hard to follow, I think, for just a lot of Americans going about their daily business because it's happening in the dark, grand jury, tax avoidance, this doesn't really sound like a big deal.

And so while this is going on, I think if this is going to stick at all and matter and put Republicans in a difficult position, someone has to be explaining why tax evasion matters. What's the difference between that and tax avoidance? Why isn't he a good businessman for evading taxes? I mean, there's a lot of work to be done to beat the argument that this is just another witch hunt.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Forgive me though, Amanda. Fraud is fraud, right? I mean, if they find evidence of fraud, that's defrauding the government. And if you reach an indictment, you need to reach a certain standard to reach an indictment. I wonder what -- listen -- and I hear you, trust me, because each of those previous investigations -- I suppose you can say the impeachments did reach an indictment. That's, in effect, what the impeachment was but he was acquitted in the Senate. But if you're facing a criminal indictment, you've got to show up in court, right? You can't just sort of say I'm not showing up in Congress.

CARPENTER: Yes, and no one plays the victim better than Donald Trump. We've seen that. This is why I'm saying there has to be a lot of just education about why this should matter to Americans. Why does fraud matter? Who pays the cost? Why should Donald Trump have to pay his taxes? I mean, it feels like groundhog day to me. And trust me, I think these things are extremely important, but I also understand public messaging in that it has to be made to deal with the lies of the everyday person and why it matters and why we should care, because these arguments don't make themselves.

And how many times have we waited to see like, oh, well Donald Trump will do this and then people will understand and Republicans will pay the price. No, that doesn't happen in a vacuum. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Just switching gears to the vote that's going to happen tomorrow on an independent commission to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol on January the 6th. You wrote about this about a week ago, but I re-read it this morning and there was a line that I think is so relevant as we head into what looks to appears to be a dead-on-arrival bill because of a Republican filibuster.

You wrote referring to the former president's comments about election fraud, et cetera, just because something is stupid doesn't mean it can't also be dangerous. So what is going on in your party that they're not going to look deeper into this?

CARPENTER: I mean, I think it comes down to the fact that they don't want to cross the Trump base. I mean, I hate to think this, but I think it's true. The Capitol Hill brigade that stormed the Capitol are voters they aren't willing to sacrifice.

And this sort of gets to the Marjorie Taylor Greene thing as well because she represents them. They aren't willing to sacrifice those voters, right? They don't want to look at the January 6th commission because it's going to blow back on them.

And I want to end on a little bit of things that I'm hopeful for. Even if the Senate does taint this, I really think Nancy Pelosi has a huge opportunity to move forward with a select committee on the House side and involve those Republicans that voted for it, bring Liz Cheney into the fold, bring anybody that wants to help, because our country needs to know.

There are some Republicans who are not okay with this. So please bring them into the fold, use them, because this just matters a whole lot more than politics.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's a good point because a lot of the folks that were floated as Republicans members of a bipartisan commission are former lawmakers who might very well still volunteer to join such a commission. It's an interesting idea, for sure.

HARLOW: It's a great idea, Amanda. Let's see if we can get beyond politics and see something like that happen. Thanks so much.


HARLOW: We're heading into what is going to be a really busy travel season and travel weekend, maybe the busiest of the pandemic. Masks still required on airplanes, but with so many states ending mask mandates, what's it going to mean at your nation's airports.



SCIUTTO: We have this sad and all-too-familiar breaking news in America today, news of a shooting near downtown San Jose, California, south of San Francisco there. Police are responding to it. They say that it is still an active scene there. We have no confirmed information yet on the number of casualties, that an aerial view of the site of this shooting. Again, police responding, they say it is still active.

CNN as well is sending a team there as we get information on the number of victims, the status of the shooter, we will bring it to you. A familiar headline in America.

HARLOW: So, it's about 7:30 there in the morning there in San Jose, Jim. So this would be like key commute time. You see all of the official vehicles lined up there. This is obviously a pretty densely populated area in San Jose, just about an hour outside of San Francisco.

And as our team obviously is headed right now to where they are putting the press, which is at Younger and First Street in San Jose. As soon as we have more reporting, we'll bring it right to you.

Meantime, mask violations, unruly passengers, even assaults on TSA officers and flight attendants, these are some of the growing problems as more and more people are traveling again.


In fact, over this Memorial Day weekend, airports are expecting to see the highest number of travelers since the pandemic began.

SCIUTTO: How is the FAA handling this? What can folks do about? CNN's Aviation Correspondent Pete Muntean, he's live at Reagan National Airport this morning.

And, of course, Pete, this is fed by a lot of the political conversation around threes simple health care measures here, but it's becoming a big problem, a bigger over time?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, these incidents are really getting worse, Jim. The number of people flying is going back up, creeping towards what it was before the pandemic, and the number of unruly passengers is also going up along with it.

The TSA still requires masks across the transportation system even if you're fully vaccinated. That's planes, trains, buses, boats, also here in terminals. And the TSA says it's investigating 1,300 cases of folks violating that rule.

Now, those are just the number of investigations, not the number of reports. So this could be actually much larger than what's been reported so far.

These numbers are also pretty serious from other federal agencies. I just want you to look at this. The FAA says it's got 2,500 cases of unruly passengers since January. 1,900 of those, it says, involved those violating these mask rules. And the TSA says 60 of its workers have been assaulted over all of this.

Federal agencies says this is not the time to act up when traveling as we head into this busy summer travel season. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We will not tolerate behavior that violates the law, violates the guidance and especially behavior that is assaultive to the individuals who are trying to protect the American public and allow them to enjoy the resumption of travel safely and securely.


MUNTEAN: People are coming back to traveling in a big way. The TSA says it screened 1.86 million people at airports across the country on Sunday. That is a new record of the pandemic. And industry groups say planes are mostly full, between 90 and 95 percent. It sounds cliche, but right now, especially, you have to pack your patience. Jim, Poppy?


HARLOW: Pete Muntean, we appreciate the reporting very much.

We're also following this breaking news of a mass shooting near downtown San Jose. You see the aerial images right there. We're just getting information from the police. We'll have more for you right after this.



SCIUTTO: We are continuing to follow the breaking news. Reports just in of a shooting in San Jose, California, this morning where it's just after 7:45 in the morning. San Jose Police are responding to the scene. It's right near downtown. The police department also says in a tweet this is still an active scene. They are asking everyone to stay out of this area while they try to get a handle on it and conduct the investigation.

Our team of reporters heading to the scene right now. We'll bring you more when we have it.

SCIUTTO: So sad to see that once again.

Well, Facebook is out with a new report this morning, highlighting which countries are the top sources of disinformation. In it, the company cites Russia and Iran as the top two. But do you know who is in fourth place? The United States as a source of this.

What's notable, the company says during the 2020 election season, domestic actors were just as engaged in spreading false information as those from Russia and Iran.

Joining me now to discuss, Christopher Krebs, he's a partner with Krebs-Stamos Group, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within the Department Of Homeland Security. Chris, good to have you back on.


SCIUTTO: The U.S. remains the top target of this disinformation, but its ranking, which we'll put on the screen here, now as the number four source of disinformation, number four in the top five after only Russia, Iran and Myanmar. Does this show that disinformation is now equally or perhaps even principally a domestic problem in this country?

KREBS: The joke I've made at least recently is disinformation is probably the world's third oldest profession. We all know what the first one is. Intelligence operations is the second and propaganda or disinfo is the third. It is just a tool. It's one more tool our foreign adversaries have used. And now that the playbook is out there pretty broadly, we're now seeing this emergence of disinformation as a service.

And if you look at the organizations that are conducting these operations domestically, it's P.R. firms and media relations firms. And it's just one more front that I think corporations and governments need to think about, not just cyber threats, but disinformation threats to their operations.

SCIUTTO: I mean, the trouble is they have allies in this disinformation, domestic allies, a former president who lies repeatedly about the election and others now doing the work for him, or, if not, actively promoting it, standing by while it is promoted. I just wonder can the U.S. effectively counter that disinformation threat if you have domestic -- if you have Americans aiding and abetting?

KREBS: Well, there's certainly some structural changes that I think need to happen and we're taking a look at that at the Aspen Institute.


I'm co-chairing the commission on information disorder. And we're looking to identify the steps that governments, that social media companies, that academia, traditional media, can take to shore up some of this disinformation that's actively undermining democracy.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and working, right? I mean, you have 50 percent of Republicans who buy the big lie on the election. And now you have -- the Senate is going to reject a bipartisan investigation into January 6th.

I mean, for you who served in a role where your job in the Trump administration was to protect the country against this from sort of outside threats, I mean, how do you feel watching it when you have a fifth column, right, you have an internal threat now?

KREBS: So, it's not just happening in Washington, D.C. You look at, across the country, the various states that are enacting legislation that are stripping the authorities away from election officials. Brad Raffensperger down in Georgia, now the senate out in Arizona that's conducting this fraudit, they are proposing measures that would take away powers from Secretary Katie Hobbs.

It is not just a D.C. issue, it is to the earlier point, this is a -- it's a manifestation of the base that's transforming an entire political party into a cult of personality and a group of extremists.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And those legal changes will give partisans the chance to overrule, in effect, results they don't like.

I want to talk about another threat, which is, of course, the cyber attack we saw play out a couple weeks ago on the Colonial Pipeline with deep consequences right here. So now DHS plans to issue a security directive, requiring companies to report this, not make it voluntary. But I wonder, given that we now know Colonial paid a $4.5 million ransom, should private companies be barred from paying those ransoms, given it must encourage these kinds of attacks?

KREBS: It certainly puts a sticker on their forehead that says they're suckers and they will pay for these things and they don't have the appropriate defenses. I think you're seeing shifts in the ecosystem. You see a French insurance company, AXA, they declared they're not going to pay out ransom demands anymore. I think there are a number of other insurance companies that are going to follow.

But I think there needs to be a policy conversation about making paying out ransomware a last resort. It should not be an option.

SCIUTTO: Yes. And it's interesting you note the insurers there, because, apparently, these hackers, they look to see who is insured for how much and then went after them and said, hey, your insurance is going to cover this. I mean, they know what they're doing.

Chris Krebs, you know that well, thanks so much for joining us.

KREBS: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. We are following this breaking news of a shooting right near downtown San Jose, apparently at a light rail yard. Much more ahead.



HARLOW: We are continuing to follow the breaking news, reports of a shooting in downtown San Jose, California. Police are responding to the scene. San Jose P.D. say in a tweet this is still an active scene. Police are asking everyone to stay out of the area while they conduct this investigation.

SCIUTTO: From the air, you can see a number of police vehicles deployed. We also saw two to three ambulances moving away from the area slowly.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now. Josh, these things move quickly. What are you learning? JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, massive police presence. We're still waiting for details from law enforcement on what specifically transpired here. We don't have information right now on the number of victims but we are hearing from police that they responded to reports there of shots fire.

This location is near a Valley Transportation Authority Light Rail Station, and we just got a statement in from the transportation authority saying that they have reports of an active shooter. It is our Light Rail maintenance yard there. And so, still, we obviously have no information on the actual shooter, but getting more information on the location there.

We're also told that some of the businesses and other locations around there are taking precautions to include one middle school that's just two blocks away that's now in a state of lockdown. And, interestingly, where this shooting takes place is literally just around the corner from the sheriff's department, so we're seeing just -- as on our screen this massive police presence. And as you mentioned, some ambulances coming and going as well.

We're trying to get details from the authorities on -- details about the victims, possibly, and as well as the shooter, more of that to come.

HARLOW: And it's also early in the morning. It's just before 8:00. So, one would assume that people that are going in to work, there would be a lot of them out, especially at a Light Rail Transportation hub.

CAMPBELL: Yes, that's right. A busy station there servicing that area, his near downtown San Jose, and there are also office buildings in and around that area as well. And so we don't know obviously whenever there's a shooting, we try to look at what is the landscape like, what are these different locations, too soon to tell what particularly may have been the target here but we know we've seen that flooding of police officers coming in.

One other thing that's interesting is whenever these happen, sadly, we have so much experience with this, is you try to look at aerial images to see the posture of law enforcement. We're not seeing additional police units come in, so we're not seeing that kind of emergent posture right now.


But certainly a heavy police presence there as they try to deal with the situation.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I was going to ask for your interpretation of that very point. Josh Campbell, thanks very much. The headline there following reports of a shooting near downtown San Jose, California. Police saying it is still an active scene. CNN does not have information yet on the number of casualties. We, of course, will bring you those details as they come.

HARLOW: Thank you for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "At This Hour" with our colleague Kate Bolduan starts right now.