Axios (2018) s04e05 Episode Script

Season 4, Episode 5

Washington, D.
Cedric Richmond / Senior Advisor to the President Axios headquarters ARLINGTON, VA You're talking to Cedric Richmond, senior advisor.
He was a congressman.
He was involved in the campaign.
One of the highest-ranking African Americans in the whole government.
And he brings something that Biden desperately needs.
And that is he knows both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Cedric Richmond will have a terrific lens into the early opportunities and the early challenges engaging Congress and engaging these outside groups.
He's actually there, and he's one of the people who feels this urgency.
So, Cedric Richmond, you're White House senior advisor and you're director of the Office of Public Engagement.
Job one for you is the president's American Rescue Plan.
Almost $2 trillion.
Money for vaccinations, money for school reopening, money for direct checks to Americans.
Did you ever think you'd be dealing with something so big? Well, short answer is yes.
Towards the end of the campaign, we saw that we didn't have a plan, the country did not have a plan for getting its arms around this pandemic.
After Election Day, when we were looking at the scope of this problem, I realized this was gonna be a big bill.
And it just came together by adding up all of the things that we needed to do.
And then it added up to $1.
9 trillion.
And even some Democrats say that it's too big, much too big.
Is there room to shrink? Well, look.
I think that some senators made a legitimate point when they said, "Could we target the direct payments a little bit more?" But it sounds like there still could be some adjustments, that you're gonna keep the big buckets but the total could be less.
Well, it's possible.
But the truth is we don't think there's a lotta wiggle room in the plan.
I mean, this plan is designed to meet the needs of the country.
It sounds like what you are banking on is that it's popular in the country, even if it isn't popular with a lot of people here.
It's very popular with people in the country.
I think the last poll has it at 74% approval and 53% Republican.
That gives you leverage in tryin' to keep as much of it as you can.
Well, actually, it just reaffirms that we're right.
And we have support from Republican mayors and county executives.
We have support from Republican governors for the Rescue Plan.
This bill is bipartisan.
It's bipartisan everywhere in the country.
Except the U.
You're gonna pass this with no Republican votes.
Like, no one over there is spending time thinking about, "How do I get a Republican?" You can pass it by going alone.
We're still visiting with Republicans.
So it won't be from a lack of effort.
But if you're askin' at the end of the day, "Do I think a Republican in the House or in the Senate will vote for it?" Possibly.
Maybe even probably.
After the coronavirus Rescue Plan, President Biden's gonna push for another big package that includes infrastructure and climate, roads, bridges, high-speed internet.
Unions want a $4-trillion bill.
What's the biggest number you think Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who holds a veto, what's the biggest number you think he can stomach? - I don't know if it's a number.
- Sure is.
I think it's the needs he's willing to or any senator is willing to address.
This country has dealt with deferred maintenance for a long time.
So if we're gonna protect Americans, we can protect Americans, create jobs all at the same time.
And I think when people look at it that way and see we're investin' in everybody, we're not picking winners or losers, I think that you'll see a mandate for us to go big.
Are we probably really talking about a $2 trillion bill here? Or do you think it could be bigger? I don't know a number.
I mean, we just haven't started talking numbers.
We'll see what the appetite and the stomach is to address all the roof leaks in our house.
Or do we just fix the big ones? The administration said you'll pay for at least part of that with tax hikes.
Do you think you'll probably need to pay for half? Or what do you think? I think that the president's goal is always to try to pay as you go.
But we know that this is gonna be a large expense.
We also know that it gives us a great return on our investment.
So come September, Senate Democrats are very likely to break the legislative filibuster, which will let them pass things with a simple majority.
Have you had conversations inside the White House about busting the legislative filibuster? We have not.
But I'll tell you one thing though.
The Senate, they've been obstructionist for a long time.
We've sent them bills that enjoy support of 97% of Americans like closing the gun show loophole and the Charleston loophole.
But it gets over to the Senate and it dies because Mitch McConnell didn't want it, Republicans didn't want to vote on it.
I think that the public may mandate that the Senate start to do things.
There could be public pressure, "the public could mandate," that Senate Democrats break the rule that exists now and go ahead and pass your agenda with a simple majority.
No, no.
I think the public favors Republicans and Democrats coming together and putting their needs first.
If 97% of the country believes something is the right thing to do, why would 50 people feel so comfortable being against it? But in choosing between bipartisanship and the Biden agenda, you're gonna pick the Biden agenda.
Well, I can tell you on the American Rescue Plan, if our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we're not gonna do that.
Axios broke the news based on an internal administration document that there's 700 children who came to the border without parents who are now in Border Control custody.
This is a humanitarian crisis in real time.
Every sign is it's gonna get worse, the surge of kids is gonna continue.
- What's your plan? - Well, we're gonna deal with it.
We're gonna deal with it in a number of ways.
But, one, we're gonna be humane.
And when kids come to our border without parents, unaccompanied we're gonna do the best we can to get them to a home as soon as possible.
Is there any way that you can stop or stem the surge? President Biden always said we need to go invest in those communities.
Where the root of the problem is so people don't send their children other places.
That's the conversation we should be having.
So that's the conversation.
But you have an immediate current problem.
What do you do about the crisis at this moment? Part of the immediate solution is to send the signal "help is on its way", that you don't have to separate yourself from your kid, and send them away, and hope for the best.
We're signaling right now, "We're gonna come and help you.
" It's the right way to deal with it.
It's the moral way to deal with it.
That may be the aspirational way to deal with it, but you have an immediate problem.
What about deterrence? Well, that is deterrence.
If you let them know that they don't have to do this, one, that it's not smart to do this, and then you give them the solution and the will of the country to get involved in their plight, then I think that is immediate deterrence.
The president supports the idea of studying reparations for slavery, direct payments to Black Americans.
The House has a bill to create a commission.
How hard is the White House gonna push on this? Look, the president said on the campaign trail he supports H.
That's to study That is to create a commission.
He also said we don't have time to study it.
We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back, and especially African Americans who were enslaved.
We have to do stuff now to improve the plight, status, future empowerment of Black people all around the country.
We don't want to wait on a study we even support.
We're gonna start acting now.
You and I sit down in four years, do you think there will be reparations, that there will have been actual payments made? I can't tell you what the time frame on the bill is.
But I can tell you this.
If you start talking about free college tuition to HBCUs and you start talking about free community college, tripling Title I, and all of those things, I think that you are well on your way.
- And those are doable in four years? - Those are doable.
Congressman, thank you for visiting with Axios on HBO.
Well, look.
Thanks for having me.
Security breach / the CEO of cybersecurity firm FireEye In 2020, nine U.
government agencies and about 100 organizations were hacked, most likely by Russia.
The SolarWinds cyberattack was among the largest in history.
The incursion was first discovered by cybersecurity firm FireEye.
FireEye offices RESTON, VA Thanks for making time for Axios.
The SolarWinds hack: what happened and how'd you find it? Yeah, let's talk about the anatomy of that intrusion.
The attacker targeted SolarWinds 'cause SolarWinds was used by hundreds of thousands of companies to manage their IT infrastructure.
The attacker recognized, "If I can get malicious code into this product, it could impact potentially hundreds of thousands of people.
" A member of Congress has called it "the cyber equivalent of Pearl Harbor.
" The New York Times calls it "one of the greatest intelligence failures since Pearl Harbor or September 11th.
" Those are big comparisons.
That's not used lightly.
- Do you think those are accurate? - I don't think so.
First off, no lives were lost.
So I don't like making that comparison.
But when I think about this attack in cyberspace, it was another example of escalation.
Isn't it natural that our adversaries continue to escalate? We weren't ready for the escalation.
Someone say the phrase "shocked but not surprised," and I think that's exactly right here.
We're shocked but not surprised.
That terrifies me though, if we're shocked but not surprised.
If we knew this was coming, why weren't we prepared? Everything's vulnerable.
You can't protect every doorway in cyberspace all the time.
Take what you know about what's happening in cybersecurity and take it into the physical world, I think, to say, like, what are the nefarious acts that could be? So what's worse case in cyber.
Here's a drill that we tell companies to do: Come off the internet for a day and see if you can operate your business.
Well, I know what my house is like when the cable internet goes out.
Do the phones work: yes or no? Can you buy lunch: yes or no? Can you get into the parking garage: yes or no? How do you serve your clients: yes or no? So now imagine an attack.
You have a chain reaction of events.
So the bottom line is this.
The next big war will have a cyber component, and almost no one will be able to predict how effective that cyber component will be.
The bad actors in this, they are foreign governments? They are China and Russia? They are criminals? They are mischief makers? The nation states are following the rules of espionage.
The problem is nobody knows what the rules are.
There's no written document.
"Hey, here's the rules of espionage and we all agreed to it.
" And I don't know if you will get people to agree to rules on espionage 'cause of the asymmetry where most countries can't beat us with tanks, can't beat us with airplanes.
But in cyber, maybe that's where they can make investments and beat us.
So the rules of espionage, you've talked to members of Congress about the red line, that there needs to be one.
Where? If Russia is behind this, when is going too far and what should the response be? Well, I think most nations will agree on that if Russia hacked a utility in New York City like ConEd and shut it down, what is that? Is that crossing a red line? Absolutely.
Do you think the Biden administration's proposed response, the sanctions is correct? Do you think there needs to be more? I don't know if it's correct or not.
I do just applying third grade logic, doing nothing's not gonna change anything.
So even talking about it, even actin' frustrated about it might be good.
But doing sanctions probably is gonna get a reaction.
You don't want to see incrementalism in cyberspace 'cause it's not mutually assured destruction.
In reality, the United States is more in a glass house than other nations.
When North Korean actors are shuttin' down companies, you think about that, they're in a mud hut in cyberspace.
What are we gonna do, shut down their ten IP addresses? So if you if you combat North Korea in cyberspace, they have virtually nothing to lose.
And we have everything to lose when it comes to our infrastructure, our economy, and our innovation.
Do you think the US responded effectively to prior attacks? I'm not sure I know all the different ways and means by which we may have retaliated for prior attacks.
But you see the incoming.
You see that other nations are still attacking us.
I think I've seen enough to know, whether we've retaliated or not, we're not showing much of a deterrence to it, right? And we're all feeling a sense of frustration in the nation as to, "Why can't we stop this?" You watch a lot of this happening online.
And the trend line of attacks I imagine goes like this.
And is that trend line increasing up? Is it slowing? Would it ever go down? It's as simple as if you can be hacked, you are hacked.
That's how bad it is.
So we're in an environment right now where we're playing goalie and there are slap shots comin' at us every millisecond.
And, by the way, blocking 99.
99999999% of all the attacks means you're gonna get compromised everywhere.
Let's continue that metaphor.
How do you take away the puck? You have to have repercussions.
That's what governments were formed to do: defend nations, defend people, defend a way of life, present hopes and dreams to everybody and their citizens.
Do you think the next escalation in this will enter the physical space where an average citizen is like, "This light bulb just went off," or, "This TV broke"? The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not.
Whatever it happens to be.
Apps won't work.
Appliances may not work.
People don't even know all the things they depend on.
The idea that armed conflict could happen on the other side of the world and here we're safe in the United States, no longer true.
Not in cyberspace.
There is no actual end to cybersecurity.
You have to pursue it every day.
You gotta get up every day and attack it.
Have you Reddit? / Reddit CEO Steve Huffman Erica, Reddit was one of the earlier social media players.
But for a lot of our viewers, it was something that wasn't center stage.
Suddenly, it's constantly in the news.
It's only got 700 employees, and it's been this alt thing compared to a Twitter or a Facebook.
But now, it's in all the conversations about all the social media apps because the communities on there are making headlines.
All the GameStop frenzy was mostly driven by one subreddit.
What I hear again and again is if you look at the power of Reddit, there's no way that GameStop is gonna be the last shenanigan.
Absolutely not.
It's really a platform where it's so user-driven.
You can make a stock go haywire.
You can plan a rally.
There's really no end to what you could do.
Reddit headquarters SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Hey Steve.
Thanks for doin' this.
- My pleasure.
An undeniable story line in Reddit's recent popularity is WallStreetBets.
It's a community that largely caused the frenzy in GameStop stock.
You testified before Congress regarding Reddit's role in the whole saga.
And you said you were proud, which was really interesting.
- Can you explain that? - Yes.
That community exposed a gap between those who have access to the financial markets and those who are on the outside.
And in WallStreetBets you see a community, among many things, that is breaking in or trying to break through into that establishment.
Do you ever get your own financial advice from any Reddit forums? No, I am actually in my personal life very conservative financially.
Because Reddit is a growing business, it's extremely high risk.
And so that's enough risk for me personally.
Social media companies of every stripe are struggling with cracking down on hateful and violent speech.
Reddit has a way of moderating content though that's really different.
Can you walk me through user-led moderation and what that's like? Our moderators are users that create communities.
They have a passion about something, so they create the communities and they write rules for those communities.
You can't just on Reddit have a megaphone and say whatever you want.
It does have to be accepted by the community.
Twitter, Facebook, and a lot of other platforms have come under extraordinary scrutiny following the January 6th Capitol insurrection.
And they've both banned Trump from their platforms, but Reddit was pretty ahead of the curve on that by shutting down the /r/TheDonald subreddit months earlier.
Why did you make the decision at that point? It was the last in a number of steps we had taken to try to bring that community in line.
Reddit has its platform-wide policies.
These are the rules that every community on Reddit has to abide by.
And is the moderation of this community in good faith? This community, we kinda found time and time again that that was not the case.
And then very similar content was on /r/DonaldTrump, which wasn't banned until January 8th.
Was the second ban because Reddit found there were incitements to violence or problematic content on that subreddit? Yeah, so we looked at the events of January 6th and classified that as domestic terrorism.
So we had a couple of communities that were posting pictures of that event in a glorifying manner.
And where do you draw that line? Is there a specific thing that has to happen to go from highly offensive to highly dangerous, quarantined to banned? If there was a clear line, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
There's the stuff that's obviously fine; that's 99.
9% of Reddit.
And there's stuff that's obviously bad.
We don't talk about those things.
There's always the gray area in the middle.
Reddit is one of the only social media platforms that allows pornography, and it really does click with the community aspect 'cause it's people discussing their experiences and preferences.
Is hosting this kind of content still part of the mission? - Will it ever change? - So sex is universal.
And, like many topics on Reddit sex is one of those topics that's often not well served online or offline.
And so I think with pornography there is You can look at it as exploitive.
And, indeed, much of it is.
And that's not the content that we want on Reddit.
But there's another aspect that's empowering.
And these are people sharing stories of themselves, pictures of themselves.
And we are perfectly supportive of that.
We want people to be safe.
We have rules on Reddit.
No involuntary sexualization.
And if anybody makes those reports to us, we take them very seriously.
Obviously no sexualization of minors, it's against our rules and the law.
And so again, there are difficult decisions to make in this sphere, but we think they're worth making, as opposed to saying, "No sex at all," for example.
Reddit is a place where people are sharing these secrets.
How do you make sure your user data is protected? So on Reddit, you can choose to reveal as much or as little about yourself.
We think that creates not just the safety of not having to reveal who you are but ultimately the authenticity and the freedom to be able to do so on your own terms.
Companies like Reddit said employees can work from wherever, whenever.
Most big companies are adding a caveat to that and they're saying, "Your pay will be affected by where you live.
" Reddit's doing it differently.
I would love for you to tell me a little bit about that.
A decision that we made last year was that we would no longer have different pay bands for different parts of the U.
And so prior to that, if you lived in New York or San Francisco and then moved, we would actually reduce your pay.
And even pre-COVID, I was uncomfortable with this.
We are in the business of attracting the best talent and making sure that they're paid fairly for the work that they're doing.
And where they're doing it is I think, to be honest, irrelevant.
And last question.
Valuation, $6 billion.
Big year.
Can you tell us anything at all about when you plan to go public? We have no timeline, though that is something we are working towards.
But we've still got plenty of work to do yet.
Welcome to Miami / a mayor's invitation to Big Tech WELCOME TO MIAMI America's NEW TECH CAPITAL Miami Mayor Francis Suarez wants his city to be the next Silicon Valley.
The Republican appealed to tech titans with a four-word tweet, "How can I help?" He hopes to transform his city despite rising sea levels, housing prices and inequality.
Miami, FL MIAMI CITY HALL Explain to me your "Can I help?" tweet.
Because that has just blown up.
Talk to me about how things have changed since that tweet.
It was very refreshing to see that four words could be so powerful and create an opportunity to redefine the way our city is viewed.
There's been a lot of big splashy names sayin', "Hey, I'm moving to Miami.
I'm the CEO of this or founder of that.
" But have the organizations actually moved here? They are.
We have Blackstone and on the tech side with the Founders Fund, which is a world-renowned fund for tech companies.
There's even talk about maybe the NYSE becoming the Miami Stock Exchange.
- Do you have any information on that? - We're working on it.
Miami is already one of the most unequal cities in America looking at the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality.
What is the plan for making sure that people who right now are struggling with finding affordable housing or struggling to maintain their affordable housing can still do that? The plan is to continue to build more affordable housing.
The plan is to also give people high-paying jobs.
There was never really an opportunity to diversify our economy from the things that we had right now, which were tourism, hospitality.
We give a path to prosperity for our residents that never existed before.
And as you've been encouraging people to move here and trying to recruit these tech billionaires, you also are dealing with this climate problem of rising sea levels.
So is it fair to say, "We want to bring more people here and more of those people who could potentially displace you from a good home and a good situation that you've got"? Well, first of all, those people are coming here regardless.
We're insulating those people by creating a climate gentrification fund.
We want to make sure that people don't have to sell if they don't want to.
People don't have to sell.
But what happens in all these communities is folks come in with a bag of money.
They say, "Hey, here.
Sell us your house.
" And people move out.
And then they turn the whole neighborhood over and those who didn't sell get priced out.
How do you prevent that? It's hard sometimes to prevent it.
Government has a limited amount of resources and ability to stop things that are market-driven, right? Well, it's market-driven.
But it's also part Francis Suarez driven, is it not? No, not at all.
Of course not.
People deciding they want to come to Miami it's not a Francis Suarez thing.
They're coming because we've created the conditions for success.
I want to turn the conversation a bit to the response to COVID.
You guys have had a pretty bad outbreak here.
Why is that? As a city we're not allowed to mitigate as much as we would like.
I was one of the first cities to implement a mask-in-public rule.
We have not been allowed sometimes by the state and by other people to mitigate at levels that we think are effective without necessarily harming the economy, which I think is important.
Who are "other people"? Well, the governor has preempted cities from implementing fines for masks in public, which is important.
That would have helped tremendously.
Don't you think that's part of what's attracting some tech billionaires? There's no doubt that the fact that we are 'Cause the bars are open.
Restaurants are open.
100% capacity.
Those are all decisions the governor made, those are his decisions to make.
You have been, it seems like, at odds with the governor on this.
And you're kinda lining up on the side of, "We need to enforce mask mandates and prevent people from doing these things.
" I've just been honest.
I do what I think is right.
I follow the experts: Dr.
Fauci, Dr.
Redfield, Dr.
They all recommended the mitigation measures that I have called for.
I want to take another turn on bitcoin.
You've generated a lot of headlines because you've suggested paying municipal workers in bitcoin, putting some of the city's reserves and letting people pay taxes in bitcoin.
Isn't that risky? And tell me, how would that work? Obviously anytime you invest in anything, of course it's risky.
There's no obligation whatsoever for any of our employees to do that.
In terms of the investment part, we invest in a variety of commodities whether they be sugar, pork bellies, whatever the commodity may be.
But none of those other commodities fluctuate 20% in a day like bitcoin.
It's something we're studying, not something we're jumping right into.
I want to read you something that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.
"Bitcoin is an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions and is a highly speculative asset.
" When you hear that from her, doesn't it make you think twice? It doesn't surprise me at all that a Treasury secretary would find a decentralized potential currency to be hostile to a currency that they control.
For people who invest in bitcoin, the allure is precisely that it's not backed by a central government, so it's not manipulatable by a central government.
You're talking about investing government resources in this completely decentralized resource, which scares people a bit.
- Does it scare you? I guess it does.
- I don't live here, you know? - Doesn't scare you.
- It's something worth studying.
And worth looking at.
Want to bring it back to the tech companies and tech billionaires.
Is there worry in your mind about maybe this is just a moment rather than a movement? That there's gonna be a buncha hot money that comes here and then moves on to the next place? A percentage of them have said, "Hey, we're here.
We're buying houses.
We're moving our companies, or a percentage of our companies.
We believe in this Miami moment converting itself into a movement.
" And there are some people that are dipping their toe in the water.
But I do think that some of the conditions that we've set in place have us set up for success in the future.

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