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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

US Strikes Multiple Houthi Drones, Social Media CEOs Grilled At Tense Hearing On Dangers Of Kids Online; New Quinnipiac Poll: Biden 50 Percent, Trump 44 Percent; Speaker Johnson Slams Senate Border Deal In Floor Speech; Son Accused Of Beheading Dad In Pennsylvania, Showing Head On YouTube; Denver Struggling With Record Migrant Influx. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 20:00   ET


KYRYLO BUDANOV, HEAD OF UKRAINIAN DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): I am also the head of one of the military agencies. I personally have no conflict with anyone.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, people were talking about you possibly being the new general.

BUDANOV (through translator): If I was appointed yesterday, would we be meeting?


PLEITGEN (on camera): So as you can see there, Erin. Still a lot of uncertainty surrounding that situation with General Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

Meanwhile, I also asked Budanov what exactly victory would look like for Ukraine. He said nothing less than taking back all of Ukraine's territories, including Crimea -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, thank you very much, Fred. And of course that is exactly what Volodymyr Zelenskyy says repeatedly, so they are on the same page.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360: The founder of Facebook's stunning apology to parents of online abuse victims as he and other social media CEOs are grilled by senators for their platforms' impact on children.

A Facebook whistleblower joins us.

Also tonight, even as new top details of a bipartisan deal on border security emerge, the lawmakers who are demanding it back further away. We are Keeping Them Honest.

Plus, after months and months of brutal numbers, new polling shows a bump for President Biden. The question is what does it mean? Answers from James Carville. Good evening, John Berman here sitting in for Anderson. We're going to

have that and more in the hour ahead.

We begin though with breaking news. New US airstrikes targeting Iranian-backed Houthi drones in Yemen. Let's get straight to CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon.

Oren, what's the latest here?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: John, these strikes occurring just in the last couple of hours over in Yemen. The US airstrikes targeted a number of Houthi drones in Yemen. This is what we've seen the US doing over the course of the past several weeks trying to strike the types of targets that the Houthis, the Iran- backed rebel group in Yemen have used to target not only international shipping, but also commercial vessels operating in the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden, as well as US warships.

In this case, the strike was unmanned drones that the Houthis have used to target these commercial vessels. But also in the past the US has targeted anti-ship ballistic missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. The goal here is to target these before they can be launched. That is before they pose a security threat to ships operating in the region.

We have seen recently, the Houthi successfully strike a number of ships, including an oil tanker that burned for quite some time issuing a distress call that the US and other warships responded to, so you see the threat the US is trying to get at here.

BERMAN: Oren, to be clear, this is not directly connected to the strike in Jordan that killed three US soldiers that was blamed on a separate terror group, correct?


The connection here is, of course, Iran, Iran backs the Houthis, Iran backs the militias and militant groups that operate in Iraq and Syria that the White House holds responsible for carrying out that attack on Sunday. But this is not the response the US, the White House, and the Pentagon have been talking about, what they've said could be a multi- phase response to that deadly attack on Sunday in Jordan that killed three US servicemembers and dozens more. That response, the US retaliation to that which we expect to be quite powerful, that's not what we're seeing here in this case -- John.

BERMAN: This is the response to the Houthis continued attacks on US interests including ...

LIEBERMANN: Absolutely

BERMAN: ... word that a missile got close to a US warship in the last 24 hours. What do you know about that?

LIEBERMANN: Correct. This is the USS gravely which was operating in the Red Sea. A Houthi cruise missile came to within a mile of that Arleigh-Burke class destroyer, that's the closest we've seen a Houthi launch come to a US warship. Normally, these sorts of attacks, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles are intercepted about eight to 10 miles out.

This one evaded or the other defense mechanisms failed to stop this cruise missile as it came in. It was picked off or intercepted or shot down by the close-in weapon system, CIWS, that is effectively an automated gun that intercepted this, tracked it, and was able to shoot it down. The question, of course, how did it get to within a mile?

There was a successful interception there, but experts and analysts tell us the fact that it got that close is a cause for some concern here. They will have to look at how that happened. Again, that's the closest the Houthis have got successfully to a warship.

But again, the defense systems there, that last line of defense, the CIWS as it is known was able to shoot down that cruise missile before it caused any injuries or damage to the destroyer.

BERMAN: Oren Liebermann, we thank you. Better not go too far. We're going to of course continue to follow this and bring you any new developments as we get them in.

Now, the confrontation today between the heads of some of the most profitable and powerful corporations on Earth, and lawmakers concerned about the power they wield, specifically the influence they have in so many young and vulnerable lives, many of whom become victims of bullying, some of whom take their own lives.

Today, the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap, and Discord appeared before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and they got an earful.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): When a Boeing plane lost a door in midflight several weeks ago, nobody questioned the decision to ground a fleet of over 700 planes.


So why aren't we taking the same type of decisive action on the danger of these platforms when we know these kids are dying?


BERMAN: In a moment, what former Facebook executive and whistleblower, Francis Haugen made of the hearings.

First, CNN's Tom Foreman.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): But you have blood on your hands.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Your product is killing people. Will you set up a victim's compensation fund with your money? The money you made on these families sitting behind you? Yes or no?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, whose company owns Instagram pushed into apologizing to families who say they were harmed by online content, some waving pictures of children who died or killed themselves.

It was an astonishing moment, yet the billionaire head of Meta dug in anyway.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, META: And this is why we invested so much and we are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families have had to suffer.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): Your platforms really suck at policing themselves.

FOREMAN (voice over): Against a torrent of accusations from the Senate committee about enabling sexual exploitation, election meddling, fake news, drug abuse, and child endangerment, the heads of five tech giants tried to push back.

JASON CITRON, CEO, DISCORD: We very much believe that this content is disgusting.

LINDA YACCARINO, CEO, X: X will be active and a part of this solution.

FOREMAN (voice over): But the fury kept coming in a rare show of unity between Democrats.

KLOBUCHAR: One-third of fentanyl cases investigated over five months had direct ties to social media.

FOREMAN (voice over): And Republicans.

HAWLEY: Thirty-seven percent of teenage girls between 13 and 15 were exposed to unwanted nudity in a week on Instagram. You knew about it, who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is why we're building all --

HAWLEY: Who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: I'm not going to answer that.

FOREMAN (voice over): There was plenty of heat to go around as the tech bosses were scorched with claims their products promote anxiety, depression, and violence, especially among young people.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Children are not your priority. Children are your product.

FOREMAN (voice over): But no one was hit harder than Zuckerberg, whose attempts at defense at times were literally laughed at.

ZUCKERBERG: My understanding is that we don't allow sexually explicit content on the service for people of any age.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): How is that going?


ZUCKERBERG: You know, our --

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Is there any one of you willing to say now that you support this bill?

FOREMAN (voice over): Many of the lawmakers are intent on overturning a longstanding federal law that immunizes those companies from lawsuits over user generated content and putting tough regulations in place.

KLOBUCHAR: It's time to actually pass them, and the reason they haven't passed is because of the power of your company. So let's be really, really clear about that.

FOREMAN (voice over): And while the tech bosses say they're happy to work on safeguards, skepticism ran rampant.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Nothing will change until the courtroom door is open to victims of social media.


BERMAN: So Tom, are there any signs that Congress will take legislative action to address the concerns that were raised at the hearing today?

FOREMAN: There were nothing but signs of that today, John. I have never really seen a Senate hearing like this before, where Democrats and Republicans especially in this time, were so in lockstep saying, we may not understand social media, but we do understand people being abused. We understand a company putting profits over safety. We understand how voters feel about that.

Whether you agree with the facts of that or not, that's what they were in lockstep over. And they were saying, we have the measures in place, we're ready to move forward, and we know how to count votes, and they believe they have the votes now to move on these measures and finally put some regulation here and do something about it.

And they think they have to, as Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut said earlier today, a Democrat up there, he said, the problem is, there is just no basis to trust that social media will do anything about this anymore.

They've said it. They've used their power, they've used their money to spread that message again and again and again. They are not believed on Capitol Hill. Number one reason why there may be action against them.

BERMAN: Tom Foreman, as always, thank you for explaining it so well.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Joining us now, NYU Business School professor, podcaster and entrepreneur, Scott Galloway; also former Facebook product manager and whistleblower, Frances Haugen.

Scott, there were a lot of loud voices today, and a lot of what seemed to be frustration in the hearing room. What were your big takeaways

SCOTT GALLOWAY, PROFESSOR OF MARKETING, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: That we've been here before, that moment of theater when Mark Zuckerberg was asked to turn around and apologize to the parents that the most effective thing would have been if the parents had asked him to turn around and asked the lawmakers and why have you done anything?

Those tech executives are culpable, but the culprits are the lawmakers who have failed to prevent a tragedy of the commons and either lack the backbone or the will or the ability to do their job.


So we've been here before, and I hope your colleague is correct that something actually happens here. But this public flogging by senators such that they can have their viral moment on these platforms and raise money, and then go about doing absolutely nothing, it has gotten almost comical.

So I hope I'm wrong, but we've been here before.

BERMAN: Are you suggesting, Scott, it was sort of faux outrage?

GALLOWAY: Well, history would say in effect of outrage. I mean, it's literally Groundhog Day.

Frances, I thought the straw that was going to finally break the camel's back was Frances' courage and great data, showing that one in 18 girls in the UK who had had suicidal ideation, specifically called out Instagram, by name and Meta executives knew about it and covered it up. And what happened? Nothing. Yes, so it's become comical.

BERMAN: Frances, go ahead.

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: I think the slight tweak that I would say is different than even this fall is Arturo Bejar came forward with information that he gathered contemporaneous with when I came forward.

So while I came forward and presented that information that Scott talked about, you've got executives at Facebook making public statements saying that I had misled the public, that I had cherry picked, that that study that you quoted, had a very, very small sample, maybe a few a hundred people.

Arturo Bejar gathered information from 900,000 people and sent that information to the executives themselves. The executives then had individual meetings with him. And part of what came out today, just this morning was 90 pages of e-mails that were sent to Mark Zuckerberg, where other executives after consulting with information like that said, hey, what we're doing publicly does not align -- what we're doing internally doesn't align with what we're saying publicly.

And Mark literally sent those e-mails, well, we just don't have -- we don't have the resources. There's no way we can -- there is no way we can do this.

BERMAN: Frances --

HAUGEN: Because I think what -- okay, go ahead.

BERMAN: I was going to say, since both you and Scott have raised it, let me play a little bit of what you said in 2021, because it's relevant here.


HAUGEN: The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.

The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.


BERMAN: So Frances, you were saying? I mean, Zuckerberg now says he doesn't have the resources.

HAUGEN: Yes, so the e-mails that were released this morning, that Congress, I believe, acquired from the attorneys general, but I don't know for sure. It outlines Nick Clegg bringing to Mark probably on the run up period when they are asked for comment on "The Wall Street Journal" articles.

So you know, it's not truly altruistic. But he says, hey, we have to put at least nine more engineers and, you know, 25, other types of staff if we want to even have a chance to get some of these problems addressed. And he was told there's, there's just no -- there's no -- there's just not enough people. There's not enough resources for you to do that.

And so it shows you how negligent these companies are. And today, Mark Zuckerberg had to get -- he got grilled on those e-mails themselves. People, one of the senators said, you know, are you going to argue with court documents? And Zuckerberg had the audacity to say, I haven't seen the documents. It is like, well, you did when you made a decision not to prioritize our kids.

BERMAN: What do you think of his apology, Frances?

HAUGEN: So one of the things that I think has been under -- like it has not really been captured by a lot of the videos that have been circulating on this because, you know, usually in a hearing, you don't have witnesses turn around and face the audience. There weren't good camera angles, it is the look of fear that was on his face.

Think about what it's like to confront not one parent of a bereaved parent, but confront say a hundred bereaved parents. You know, people holding signs with images of their dead children. I can -- I've never seen that amount of fear on his face. And I think this was one of those moments where, you know, Senator Butler actually asked -- raised the issue specifically, she said, you told me last night, you had never actually talked to a parent that had lost a child due to your products.

And suddenly he had to turn around and face, you know, a hundred of them, so it is a historic moment.

BERMAN: Hey, Scott, are the companies incentivized financially or otherwise not to change?

GALLOWAY: If you had a parking meter in front of your house that costs a hundred dollars every 15 minutes where the parking ticket was 25 cents, you would continue to break the law, and the fines here are the biggest fine levied was against Facebook for $5 billion, it was 11 weeks of cash flow.

The bottom line is when you send an e-mail out when a teenage girl, a 14-year-old girl in the UK goes into her room with her phone and is having thoughts -- is depressed and the algorithms pick up on this and decide to send her an email.


And this is a quote saying: "We thought you might find these images on suicide interesting," and it includes images of pills, razors, and nooses, someone needs to go to jail and this doesn't stop and to the feckless, ineffectual individuals posturing today, pass laws, such that we can put someone in an orange jumpsuit.

When we look back in 10 years, we will regret the concentration of power, the weaponization of our elections, the increasing coarseness of our discourse, but the thing we won't believe and we will be most upset about is we will ask ourselves, how on earth did we let this happen to our children?

It doesn't stop until there's a perp walk.

HAUGEN: A hundred percent. A hundred percent.

BERMAN: Scott Galloway, Frances Haugen, great discussion. Chilling discussion, but I appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

Still to come, with a new poll suggesting more women saying they will vote for President Biden over Trump, Republicans have picked an odd time to wage a war against Taylor Swift to quote one of her recent hits "I have this thing where I get older but just never wiser."

And Keeping Them Honest, the message House Republicans and Trump are touting to defeat a bipartisan border security bill.



BERMAN: A major new presidential poll shows President Biden opening a significant lead on former President Trump. Now you did hear that right and it is a bit different than a lot of polling lately. More on that in just a moment.

The new poll comes the same day that Trump tried to peel away organized labor voters from the Biden campaign. That's not an easy job. Union members generally vote Democratic. And one big union, the United Auto Workers already endorsed President Biden last week.

But Trump made his case today at a meeting with leaders of the Teamsters Union at their headquarters in Washington.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I think we had a very productive meeting. Stranger things have happened. Usually, a Republican wouldn't get that endorsement. For many, many years, they've -- they only do Democrats, but in my case it is different because I've employed thousands of Teamsters, and I thought we should come over and pay our respects.


BERMAN: Afterwards, President Biden's team called out the former president, called out Trump for his "long record of attacking unions." All of that as this new poll from Quinnipiac University shows President Biden with 50 percent in a head-to-head general election matchup, Trump is at 44 percent, that's a six-point lead among registered voters outside the poll's margin of error.

And more than a month after the same poll found the race quote "too close to call." One big factor, the poll says more women now support President Biden.

Legendary Democratic strategist, James Carville is with us now.

James, great to see you.


BERMAN: You've been nervous to say the least about this election. How heartened are you and should Democrats be by this poll?

CARVILLE: Oh, pretty -- that was pretty good. That's the first good poll I've seen in a while. Of course, you'd like to see another one to kind of confirm it. But, you know, given the recent events with President Trump's legal issues and some of these economic numbers we've seen, it's not unreasonable to assume they could be a little bit turn in public opinion. I certainly wait to see some confirming polls here, but this is pretty heartening. It's good.

BERMAN: Some people have speculated that when Trump becomes the clear Republican nominee, which he is more and more every day, that that might galvanize traditional Democrats.

CARVILLE: I hope it does, I mean, I don't know what else how galvanized you can be when you see the behavior of this guy, but we just -- let's just wait and see, but it makes sense that he would be losing women after this jury came in and adjudicated him to be a rapist to be honest with us. That's what the judge said, and every day, it goes out to the world, and it is not a good thing to run for president and have a jury find that you raped a woman. It's not good.

BERMAN: Yes, liable for sexual abuse is what the original jury found.


BERMAN: The poll does show that 67 percent of registered voters say they believe the nation's democracy is on the verge of collapse, 67 percent, I mean, how do you even make sense of a number like that?

CARVILLE: I know, it is frightening. I'll be honest with you. People come up to me a lot and say, James, I'm scared, and I said, you have reason to be It's not as -- you know, but I do think that if we get closer and these other things become apparent and there is more news to come out, that there is a chance that we can do better.

But I was really encouraged by this Quinnipiac because it's got a good reputation as being a decent outfit. So I hope that the next one comes in this way, I'll feel a lot better.

BERMAN: So I think America has been dying to know what James Carville thinks about Taylor Swift, and I ask you about this.


BERMAN: Well, there's this growing right-wing conspiracy, you have to just turn on one of these conservative networks and they are suggesting there are those who suggest that somehow Taylor Swift is fixing the Super Bowl to help Joe Biden. I want to play a little bit of what's been on Fox here.


JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST, "JESSE WATTERS PRIMETIME": So is Swift a front for a covert political agenda? "Primetime" obviously has no evidence. If we did, we'd share it. But we're curious, because the pop star who endorsed Biden is urging millions of her followers to vote.

EMILY COMPAGNO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST "OUTNUMBERED": A single post of hers led to 35,000 new registrants, that's persuadable power and this administration is locked dead set on harnessing that.

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CO-HOST, "THE FIVE": Why alienate your fans, the Swifties? You know, they come across from every political ideology.


CARVILLE: Well, I bet on the Ravens, I wish he would have broken up with him before a game. The guy killed it. He had like 11 receptions.

Again, this now -- the other thing I saw before I came in here, they're claiming that she and the Trump's buffoonish attorney, you know, whatever her name is, that she's also a deep state plant.

You know, I don't know but apparently it is. Kelce is a really good football player and apparently, Miss Swift makes him a better one.

BERMAN: If you're Donald Trump or part of the far right and you're having trouble with women voters. Is there a worse strategy than attacking Taylor Swift?


CARVILLE: You know, I don't think there's anything strategic about this. I think most of these people are sexually inadequate and they go for all this crazy stuff.

And I don't think -- and there is nothing strategic about something not stupid. It's just real stupidity to believe something like that and she seems to me, I don't -- I'm not very familiar with her generation -- she seems like a really nice person kind of well-raised and you know, gives to people at work like $100,000.00 bonuses. What's there not to like about Miss Swift? I have no idea. I don't get the meltdown.

BERMAN: You think it will blow up in their face?

CARVILLE: If all this stuff hadn't blown up yet, I don't know if their face is blown up, but it's massively entertaining to watch people this stupid go public.

You know, I can't. Honestly, I don't. I can't get enough of it. I mean, come on, you can't be that dumb, can you?

BERMAN: Well, they're there for you. It seems like that these outlets are there for you, James to entertain you.

So Nikki Haley today with sharper words than she's used yet on Donald Trump. She says he's toxic. He lacks moral clarity. It's interesting. The Quinnipiac poll, which we were talking about there, it shows Hayley beating Biden by five points in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup. I mean, the polling is pretty clear. Biden is up on Trump by six in this poll Haley's up Biden by five.

CARVILLE: That's been clear in other polls. This is something that confirms what I've seen in other posts. I do think that it's fair to say that the country was not excited about a Trump-Biden choice. I think that number would reverse as people became more familiar with some of Governor Haley's ideas.

But that's not -- that's not unusual that you would see that kind of turnaround. I've seen that in a number of other polls. You know, when you run against somebody, particularly in the primary, you get mad at them. Some like him. I mean, he's mocked her and made fun of her. And this is not unusual. She's mad. I mean, she's real mad and my hat is off to her donors. They are hanging in there and the longer she stays in, the happier I am.

BERMAN: Because it's better for the Democrats?

CARVILLE: Well, sure it is. Look Bernie Sanders like really hurt Mrs. Clinton in 2016. No one likes these long drawn out primaries and she keeps hitting him and hitting him. And you know, I hope this Quinnipiac poll is right, but it's taking some kind of toll.

BERMAN: James Carville, great to see you. And thank you so much for your time.

CARVILLE: Thank you. Appreciate you. Thank you, sir.

BERMAN: Next, they asked for it, demanded it, conditioned aid for Ukraine and Israel on getting it so why even as tough new details of a bipartisan Senate border deal emerge are many Republicans backing further away from it? We're Keeping Them Honest.



BERMAN: Keeping them honest tonight, the newest installment of lawmakers who like talking about the border crisis often in apocalyptic tones, but don't want to do anything about it, at least not until after the election. Today, Senate Republicans met behind closed doors, debating whether to shelve a bipartisan -- bipartisan border security deal being negotiated by one of their most conservative members and said to be the toughest in generations, one that once upon a time, their House colleagues were demanding or else they would not even start considering aid to Ukraine and Israel.

That is until the former president came out against it or any border legislation several weeks ago, at first privately, but once word got out, loudly and publicly. No bill needed, he said, which then drove House Republicans to start trashing the very thing they originally said they wanted, criticizing it, as Anderson pointed out last night, by mischaracterizing what is reportedly in it. Despite not having seen the actual text of it, but also crucially disregarding assurances by the lead Republican negotiator, the staunchly conservative James Lankford, that what they're objecting to is not part of the deal. Namely, that it would somehow let 5,000 migrants a day into the country before the president could take serious action. This is what Donald Trump said today.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's a terrible bill. 5,000 people a day, that's a lot. That's like record-setting stuff. No, I want to see a great bill. If we get a great bill, we should do it. If we don't get a great bill, but I don't think you're going to get a great bill, and if you're starting at 5,000 people a day, it's insane. It's insane.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: So, that has been the refrain. House Speaker Mike Johnson and many House Republicans have been saying it today. Republican Senator Ron Johnson said it.


SEN. RON JOHNSON, (R-WI): Why would you be setting thresholds at 4,000 and 5,000? And the discretionary threshold is one that really gives me concern.


BERMAN: So, that has been the talking point from lawmakers who have not seen the text of the proposal. And again, keeping them honest, who don't seem to be inclined to believe the extremely conservative Republican Senator who has.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, (R-OK): It would be absolutely absurd for me to agree to 5,000 people a day. This bill focuses on getting us to zero illegal crossings a day.


BERMAN: That was Sunday. Today, another negotiator, Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema revealed some of the specifics. The bill she says requires a president to shut the border if there are 5,000 encounters a day, meaning 5,000 migrants showing up asking for asylum. They would not, she says, be let into the country. Instead, they would be detained and their cases would be handled in anywhere from six months as few as 10 to 15 days. And again, these people would all be detained, she says, not released. No more, she claims of what critics have called of catch and release, which ought to be music to the ears of Senators like Ron Johnson, who say as he did today, that border security is priority one.


JOHNSON: All I'm concerned about is we need to secure our border. We have to regain the sovereignty of this nation. The open border that President Biden and his colleagues here, his Democratic colleagues in Congress, this is a clear and present danger to America. My top priority is securing that border and protecting our citizens.


BERMAN: So, it's a fine thing to say as so many Republican lawmakers have also said, to which another Republican, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said this today.


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R-AK): It was the Republicans, I will remind you, that told the Democrats months ago that if you want to try to get your Ukraine funding, you're going to have to take up the border issue. This is what we ask for.


BERMAN: And for many of her colleagues now, having gotten it, apparently they won't take yes for an answer. Some perspective now from two CNN political commentators on the left and right, respectively, Van Jones and David Urban. David, James Lankford is one of the most conservative Senators there is.


BERMAN: He says this 5,000 claim is bogus, coming from Donald Trump and others. So, how do you explain this reluctance as anything other than election year politics?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, John, look, I have not read the bill. But I do believe there is a little politics involved there, shocking I know in Washington, right? Gambling and Casablanca. But, the fact of the matter remains on the Republican side of the aisle I think is that Joe Biden inherited the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years when he became president.

In the past three years, right, that he has been president, they didn't seem to be the least bit interested in securing the border. And to wit (ph) 9.6 million illegal immigrants crossed into our country, right, into the -- they've stopped, you know --

BERMAN: It is worth noting, David, and I know you know this. It was one of the lowest rates because of COVID. Because of COVID, no one was coming and then Title 42 shut down the border, right?

URBAN: Title 42, right, exactly. You're making my point for me, John. Title 42, right, you can -- the end of catch and release, right, (inaudible) end that with Biden Administration, we had 'Remain in Mexico' policy under the Trump Administration where folks would have to stay in Mexico waiting for asylum and people decided not to come. They didn't want to remain in Mexico. They wanted to come to the United States. So when all those -- when all those reasons --



URBAN: No, no. Van, listen, I don't disagree, right, that there should be something done to secure our southern border. To John's point though, it really smacks of politics and it's being done now. There is a (ph) Morning Consult-Bloomberg Poll out this recently, maybe this week, that found that 60 percent of Americans think the border is a major issue, major concern, and that they trust President Trump, 52 percent over 30 percent, over President Biden to do something on the border. The Biden Administration is not dumb. They're getting their butts kicked, so they're trying to do something.

BERMAN: Van? JONES: I don't understand why you're upset. You guys say it is a major issue --

URBAN: I'm not upset, Van.


JONES: You must be upset because the Republicans aren't going to do anything about this issue they've been screaming about. If I'm saying my house is on fire, my house is on fire, somebody should bring me a bucket of water. And somebody brings me a bucket of water and I say never mind, maybe I was playing politics with the issue in the first place. You are saying Democrats are playing politics. Now, it looks like Republicans have been playing politics the whole time because there is now, for the first time, my party has moved -- for the first time, it's willing to do something we would never considered doing because the numbers have gotten so big. You've got blue city mayors screaming. And so now, you have a chance -- now, you got a chance to do something, and you won't do it. So, who's playing politics?


URBAN: So, the only reason big city mayors are -- the only reason big city mayors are screaming is courtesy of Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, of letting them feel a little pain.

JONES: Well, listen.

URBAN: He was letting them feel a little pain like they're feeling in Eagle Pass, Texas.

JONES: Well, but apparently, these wonderful governors from Florida and Texas that care so much about America and care about the open border, shipping everybody up here, you won't take yes for an answer now. The country agrees with you. Democrats agree with you. Biden agrees was you. And you'd rather keep the pain going -- you'd rather keep the pain going than solve the problem. That's politics.

URBAN: Listen, there was -- H.R.2 was passed last year, right? It was the House passed bill. Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Senate companion. If the Biden Administration were really serious about immigration, they would have gone to the House leadership and the House folks and said, hey, listen, we know this isn't where we're going to end up. We're going to start with your bill. We are going to negotiate and pass them (ph).


BERMAN: David? David, with this bill, and I know you haven't seen it, would this bill do you think improve things?

URBAN: I'm not sure, John. I can't opine. I've not read it. So I can't give you an opinion one way or the other because obviously, look, there is --

BERMAN: Yes, but you know it includes a lot of the stuff the Republicans have been asking for. It (inaudible).


URBAN: Listen, John, let's put it this way. Anything would include -- anything would improve the porous board that we have right now, anything. Right?

BERMAN: So if it does, why not let it go to the floor?

URBAN: Because I think the Republicans feel they can get a better -- they can get a better bill done, right? I understand your theory is why not take half --

JONES: Better than Lankford?

URBAN: Why not take half a loaf? That's your theory, John. I think Republicans think they can get a better deal.

JONES: If anybody had told us say at Thanksgiving, Halloween last year that Lankford would have a will that Democrats would be willing to support, Republicans would have been dancing around saying look, we won, we won. Here is the problem. You keep moving the goalpost on something you say is important.


JONES: And honestly, it's starting to feel maybe you like the pain, maybe you like having the country -- you guys say the country is being overrun. If you really thought the country was being overrun by terrorists and all sort of stuff that's being used to jump (ph) the base, if you thought that was happening, you would be right now trying to get this deal done. You don't believe that. Nobody believes a bunch of terrorists are coming here. You're using this issue and now you're being exposed for it in the Republican Party. That's what I see.

BERMAN: Van Jones, Dave --

URBAN: I think Democrats did a great job of political jujitsu here. Great job.

BERMAN: Van, David, thank you both --

JONES: You are welcome.

URBAN: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: -- very much. I am full loaf all the time.


BERMAN: All right. A gruesome crime captured on YouTube. A Pennsylvania man accused of beheading his father and then showing the severed head while conducting an unhinged political rant on the video sharing website, details on a live report, next.


BERMAN: About the same time that tech executives were on Capitol Hill to face Senators, a Pennsylvania man was being charged with beheading his father and displaying the severed head during a political rant about woke mobs on YouTube. That video was online for several hours. Danny Freeman is in Pennsylvania tonight with the details.



DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, Middletown Township Police got a call from Justin Mohn's mother saying, she had found her husband, 68-year-old Michael Mohn dead. According to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN, when officers arrived, they found an elderly male in a bathroom with blood around him who had been decapitated.

Officers found a machete and a large kitchen knife in the bathtub. Court documents said police then found Michael Mohn's head in a plastic bag in a cooking pot in the next room. Only then did police learn of his son's video posted to YouTube, which stayed up on the site for about five hours before being taken down. In the 14.5-minute video, Justin Mohn rants about the Biden Administration, the border, and calls his father a traitor to his country because he was a federal employee saying, "America is rotting from the inside out because of far left woke mobs." Justin then raised his dead father's head on camera.


BARTORILLA: I am very sad for the family. I'm very sad for the community. You know, and also for the people that knew him.

FREEMAN (voice-over): While police were at his home, Mohn though was heading west. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs told CNN at around 9:00 p.m., Mohn's cell phone was traced to just outside of the Fort Indiantown Gap National Guard Base, Pennsylvania's National Guard headquarters, nearly 100 miles from the crime scene. The PADMVA said Mohn was armed with a gun, but was ultimately arrested without incident.

As authorities investigate, a former roommate of Justin tells CNN he believed, "The government was out to get him." Mohn also filed multiple lawsuits, suggesting he was angry about his status as a white man. This disturbing incident renews concerns about the risk of political violence.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The kind of overheated, deeply politicized, extreme rhetoric that you hear sometimes in this country actually has an impact on these marginalized people with extremist views.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FREEMAN: And John, as you noted, one of the most disturbing aspects of this story is that, that video stayed online for several hours before YouTube finally took it down. Well, YouTube told CNN today, it has strict policies prohibiting graphic violence and extremism, and noted our teams are closely tracking to remove any reuploads of this video. But, John, we spoke with the police chief of this community earlier today, and he says, basically, he fears that at least in this community, everyone has already seen the video. And in essence, the damage there has been done.

John, one more thing I'll note is that the district attorney here in Bucks County is expected to have a news conference about this incident before the week is out. So hopefully we'll get more information on a potential motive for this killing. John?

BERMAN: All right, Danny Freeman, keep us posted. Thank you.

Still to come tonight, more on the migrant crisis, specifically the impact on Denver, hundreds of miles from the border, but filling up with bussed in migrants in crowded shelters and freezing cold streets.



BERMAN: A few moments ago, talking about immigration, David Urban said the only reason that big city mayors were screaming about the border was he said because Texas Governor Greg Abbott was letting them feel the pain they are feeling in Texas. So now, one mayor in one city, Denver. More from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): If we could work, none of us would be living like this, he says. Denver facing a record number of migrants, straining resources, leaving many on the streets.

PROKUPECZ: Were you -- are you hoping -- wow, that wind. You could just see the wind here. Again, tents blowing. Wow!

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Alexander from Venezuela complains of the freezing conditions. He shows us how he has been living.

He says this foam protects the tent from the wind.

PROKUPECZ: This is your bed?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): This is how he looks for work, he says.

PROKUPECZ: And you, that's your sign?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): But it's just getting too cold here in Denver, and they need to start moving the people out inside, into shelters. There is not a lot of space here, but the city is doing its best.

YOLI CASAS, DIRECTOR OF NONPROFIT HELPING MIGRANTS: They're just worried about what's going to happen with their stuff.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Migrant Advocate Yoli Casas urgently tries to help move families.

CASAS: My heart -- broken heart is like, Denver is officially full. No one should come. There is no room. They're going to be outside, freezing to death.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The city has 40,000 migrants with about 4,000 in shelters, which are now at capacity.

Denver's Mayor Mike Johnston visits a shelter. He is immediately surrounded by migrants asking for help. It's good for him to see what's happening, she says, worried she'll end up in the streets with her son. She is thankful, she says, but sorry she came here illegally.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has sent thousands of migrants to Denver on buses, which continue to arrive.

PROKUPECZ: You've had conversations with Greg Abbott?

MAYOR MIKE JOHNSTON, (D) DENVER: I've not talked to Governor Abbott. I haven't talked to him but we had --

PROKUPECZ: He has not called you back?

JOHNSTON: He has not called me back.

PROKUPECZ: So, if you -- what do you want to talk to him about, if you could speak to him?

JOHNSTON: Yeah. I mean, what I would say to him is I understand. They feel like they have a huge influx of people that they can't handle in Texas alone. I agree with him that no one state or no one city should need to solve this entire challenge. But I think there is a way for us to work together.

PROKUPECZ: Migrants could cost the city $180 million this year, the mayor says, and it's on the verge of cutting essential services.

JOHNSTON: We don't want to take police officers off the street. We don't want to take firefighters off the street. We don't want to not do trash pickup or not have our parks and recreation centers open.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The strain on resources frustrating others in need.

ROBERT EVERETT THOMPSON JR., VETERAN EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS: They're using the bend or break approach. But I think you need to help the American side first, before you help -- end the influx of migrants before here.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Seeking relief, mayors like Johnston pleading for more federal help, allowing migrants to work.

PROKUPECZ: What is your name? WILFRED, MIGRANT IN DENVER: Wilfred.

PROKUPECZ: Wilfred, OK. So he is telling us he needs a warm place to stay. It's about 20 degrees or so.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): There is no place to go, he says.

PROKUPECZ: You can die from the cold here. You can't. It's going to get much colder, you need to go inside, sir. OK?

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): At night, we learn of a group sheltering under a bridge.

PROKUPECZ: There is a group of people coming now to try to take them inside. But it's just too cold to be outside. But this is how they've been living.

KEITH REESER, PASTOR, DENVER FRIENDS CHURCH: If they could pack up a suitcase, that is as much as they can bring.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): With limited city resources, residents are stepping in, like Pastor Keith Reeser, who is opening up his church.

REESER: As far as you know, are we ready to walk, or do we need to stay for a little bit? OK.

PROKUPECZ: So, what's your goal here now?

REESER: We've got some friends, I grabbed a couple of my buddies and I said, let's go get them and let's get them out of this situation.


REESER: So, we're going offer them shelter for the night. Seven in my vehicle, so I can take seven.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Another resident is using her motel as a sanctuary.


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Housing about 300 migrants for free.

PROKUPECZ: So how many stay here? All of these mattresses?


PROKUPECZ: One, two, three --

PRINCE: Around 20.

PROKUPECZ: Around 20 just in this one room?


PROKUPECZ (voice-over): She is like a mother to us, he says. CARLO, VENEZUELAN MIGRANT (through translator): Seriously, she gets up

at five in the morning and cooks us breakfast.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Yong Prince was planning to leave Denver to retire, but when migrants started showing up at her hotel, she found a reason to stay.

PRINCE: My parents came from North Korea.

PROKUPECZ: Your parents?

PRINCE: I was hungry when I was a kid. We don't have any meal for a long time. I was born in 1952, right after the war. So, yes, I feel them.

PROKUPECZ: They have touched a certain part of you.


PROKUPECZ: And it's almost like they've become your family.

PRINCE: Yeah, yeah. I want to make sure they're eating.

PROKUPECZ: You want to make sure they're eating, taken care of.


PROKUPECZ: And John, on Monday, the city is set to start removing some of the people who have been staying in hotels. Just quite simply, they have no room. They have to start doing something, moving people out. They can't keep housing them in hotels. It's getting too costly. And the goal here is to force them to go somewhere, to be with family or go somewhere else. But, Denver just can't deal with this any longer and it's really stretching them.

BERMAN: Shimon, that was a great piece. Great report. Thank you very much. We'll be right back.