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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Big Tech CEOs Face Tough Questions At Child Online Safety Hearing; Man Arrested After Police Say He Killed & Beheaded His Father; Trump's Business Empire At Stake In New York Civil Fraud Trial; Judge Dismisses Disney Lawsuit Against DeSantis; White House Formally Assigns Blame For Strike That Killed Three U.S. Troops; House Speaker Stands Against Senate Immigration Deal, Implies Biden Has The Power To Shutdown The Border. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yeah, and she says a custom-made size 23 costs more than $1,000. The high school sophomore told affiliates KCTV that he must wear his current sneakers since they are the only shoes he has.


JORIEL BOLDEN, 16 YEARS OLD: They are too tight. They hurt when I walk. It's embarrassing. I don't -- I don't like asking people for help.

TAMIKA NEAL, SINGLE MOTHER: I'm on a mission because he can't -- he can't really go out.


KEILAR: I think this is going to help with his mission.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: I hope so, yeah.

KEILAR: But just to put things in context, Shaquille O'Neal is size 22. Joriel, you got him beat.

And "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts next.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The Senate message to tech CEOs today: you have blood on your hands.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The heads of Facebook, TikTok and other social media companies pummeled today with bipartisan criticism on Capitol Hill over what the companies are and are not doing to protect your kids. What led Mark Zuckerberger -- Mark Zuckerberg to stand up in the hearing and apologize? That's coming up. Plus, a Pennsylvania man accused of decapitating his father then

posting a political rent online. Why was the horrifying video left up online for hours?

And we're expecting a major ruling at any moment from a judge that could come and will have serious repercussions for Donald Trump and his future.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start today with the fiery and contentious hearing on Capitol Hill, as big tech CEOs faced blistering questions about what they are and are not doing to protect kids and teens. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today focused on the leaders of TikTok, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, X, formerly known as Twitter, Snap, which owns Snapchat, and Discord, an online messaging app. They were all pressed on their policies for dealing with cyberbullying, adult content posts around self-harm predators, and the role that they allow parents to play in what their kids interact with.

And one of the most striking moments of the day, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was pushed by Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley to apologize to the many families in the hearing room, some of whose children were bullied or sexually exploited, even pushed to suicide because of content on social media.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, META: I'm sorry for everything you have been through. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered, and this is why we've invested so much and 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.


TAPPER: CNN's Tom Foreman dives into the most contentious moments from today's hearing.


SEN. TOM HAWLEY (R-MO): Your product is killing people. Will you set up a victims' 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, which 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.

ZUCKERBERG: 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 your families have had to suffer.

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

FOREMAN: Against the 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, DISCORD CEO: But we very much believe that this content is disgusting.

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

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

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): One-third of fentanyl cases investigated over five months had direct ties to social media.

FOREMAN: And Republican.

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 --

HAWLEY: Who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: I'm not going to answer that.

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

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

FOREMAN: 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: Many of the lawmakers are intent on overturning a long 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: And while the tech bosses say they're happy to work on safeguards --

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

FOREMAN: -- skepticism ran rampant.

GRAHAM: Nothing will change until the courtroom door is open to victims of social media.


FOREMAN: I have rarely, Jake, ever seen this kind of show in a Senate hearing. There was complete unanimity and going after these companies and the lawmakers this time, who in the past are sometimes seen befuddled by big tech, this time were really saying in effect, we know what suffering is. We know a targeting is, we know what turning a blind eye is.

And one of them said at one point, I mean, I know about tech, but I know how to count votes and you're on the wrong side of it.

I think, Jake, the odds of some kind of legislation passing just went way up.

TAPPER: Yeah, the idea that they can be trusted to regulate themselves seems to have been a thing of days past.

Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Let's talk right now with Maurine Molak. She's the co-founder of Parents for Safe Online Spaces, and founder of the Davids Legacy Foundation.

And, Maurine, let's start with David, your son, David. He was 16. He died by suicide after months of cyberbullying. It's something that anybody who has teenagers or even younger kids in this day and age knows that that's a very real risk and a very real fear. And I'm so sorry for your loss and I admire you trying to turn the loss into something to protect my kids and the kids of those watching right now.

As you just heard, Senator Graham started the hearing out calling out the tech CEO saying they have blood on their hands. Do you see it that way?

MAURINE MOLAK, CO-FOUNDER, PARENTS FOR SAFE ONLINE SPACES: Absolutely. And every single family that was with me, it's something that we have all said and we were glad to hear it come out of that committee, and the applause behind it. So we thank Senator Graham for that.

TAPPER: So bullying obviously has gone on ever since there were human beings. What about social media makes cyberbullying, worse, more effective, more horrifying in this day and age?

MOLAK: Well, it can happen 24/7 and the privacy of your bedroom. Kids don't often tell because they think that they can either deal with it on their own or they're afraid that their parents are going to take their devices away, and any child who struggles with social media addiction, online gaming addiction, screen addiction, really has that fear. And we struggled with that in our house.

David didn't tell us what was going on for the first bout month and a half. And when we finally found out about it and we were trying to take action, the damage had been so far. I mean, he was so already down and depressed and anxious over it that we lost him because he felt helpless and hopeless that we could not make it stop.

TAPPER: You saw the moment earlier today, where the CEO of Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, Mark Zuckerberg, stood and apologize to the victims families. You were in the room. What did you make of the moment? Were you satisfied with the apology?

MOLAK: Well, I was right behind him and, of course, he was forced to do it. And as a parent whose child was harmed on his platform, I felt like he could have done a lot better than what he did. He didn't take ownership of it. He knew what was going on and knows what happens on his platforms.

He knows it's dangerous. And yet he continues to do nothing about it as far as we're concerned.

TAPPER: What do you think should be done about it specifically in terms of forgot the legislation for one second, what do you want? Was it Instagram or Facebook? I assume Instagram?

MOLAK: Instagram.

TAPPER: Yeah. So what do you want Instagram to be doing to make cyberbullying a thing of the past?

MOLAK: Well, they need to have a way for parents and school districts to be able to report it and have somebody live person that they can communicate with and take it down. I mean, we often hear from school districts, they will reach out to us and say, can you help me? We need someone at Instagram to take something down. We have children that are suffering. They are being made fun up. There are -- there are rumors being spread about them that are not true, and they are in crisis and we cannot get in anybody from Instagram to help us.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's a multi-billion-dollar company. You'd think that they would have an 800 number or something. But that's not where they choose to spend their money.

There have been questions about laws like the Kids Online Safety Act. We talked about that yesterday with Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn and there are concerns that some of the restrictions might make it harder for kids to talk online about their problems with other kids, or with counselors or people who might be able to help them. And that an unintended restriction and unintended result of the law could it be -- could be that some of these kids who find friends online are then end up feeling isolated. If they don't have adults with whom they could talk about these issues, are you concerned about that?

MOLAK: No, because KOSA does not do that. So kids can search with what whatever it is that they want to search for. KOSA is about design and operation of those platforms, the algorithms and how that content is force-fed to kids, the doom scrolling, that it is encouraged, the addictive like behaviors that is encouraged.

So, kids will still be able to get all of the resources that they're looking for. That is not what KOSA does.

TAPPER: Maurine Molak, thank you so much. And may your sons memory be a blessing. I -- again, admire the work that you're doing in his name.

MOLAK: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Remember, if you or anyone in your life needs any help at all, you can always call or tax the suicide and crisis lifeline. That's 24 hours a day. The number is 988. Again, that number is 988. Anytime, any day someone is standing by to help, there is help for you. There is love for you.

Another serious issue facing social media companies today after a man allegedly decapitated his father and then posted a graphic video about it. Why was such horrific content allowed to stay online for so long?

Plus, Donald Trump tries to peel away support from a group that helped deliver Biden the presidency in 2020. But could a huge pending legal decision throw a wrench in those plans today?

Stay with us.



TAPPER: A gruesome killing under investigation in our national lead after a Bucks County, Pennsylvania man posted a video on YouTube showing what he claimed was his dead father's decapitated head, while ranting about the actions of the Biden administration. The video garnered thousands of views across several social media platforms before it was taken down.

CNN's Danny Freeman takes a look now at what we know about the suspect and his motivation for the video and the alleged killing. Just a warning, quite obviously, some of what is about to be described, although not shown in this package, you might find disturbing.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We can't show you the video posted by 32-year-old Justin Mon Tuesday afternoon. It's too graphic and too horrific, but it's a crucial part of an investigation into the murder of his father, 68 year-old rolled Michael Mon.


FREEMAN: This all began around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday evening when Middletown Township police got a call from Justin's mother saying she'd found her husband dead. When officers arrived in this quiet suburban neighborhood, they found a gruesome scene.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by CNN, there was 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 officers then found Michael Mon's head in a plastic bag in a cooking pot in the next room. Only then did the police learn of his son's video posted to YouTube.

In the fourteen-and-a-half-minute video, Justin Mon rants about the Biden administration, the border, and calls his father a traitor to his country because he was a federal employee. 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: While police arrived (ph) at his home though, Mon was heading west. A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs told CNN at around 9:00 p.m., Mon'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. When police arrived, they found Mon's car empty outside the fence of the base.

But when they traced him again at 9:25, Mon's phone was on the base.

The PA DMVA said Mon was ultimately captured without incident near the base's center.

BARTORILLA: The resolution from the commission of the crime to when he was taken into custody was rather quickly, and that kind of a ways to communities' fears that, you know, there's not an immediate threat to them.

FREEMAN: Mon was arraigned early Wednesday morning and charged with his father's murder and abuse of a body.


FREEMAN: Now, Jake, as you noted, another aspect to the story as it took several hours for YouTube is actually pulled this video down. YouTube telling CNN its strict policies prohibiting graphic violence and extremism, and told us, quote, our teams are closely tracking to remove any re-upload of that video.

But, Jake, speaking with the police chief today, he says at this point, it feels like at least everyone in this community has already seen this gruesome video -- Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, because the tech companies are rather sclerotic when it comes to this sort of thing. Danny Freeman, thanks so much.

A judge could make a decision any time, any moment one that could put Donald Trump's entire business empire at risk and forced him to cut a nine-figure check. We're going to take a closer look at what is exactly at stake here next.



TAPPER: Back with our 2024 lead, right now, the fate of former President Donald Trump's business empire is in the hands of a New York judge. And at any moment, Judge Arthur Engoron could rule on whether Donald Trump owes $370 million for fraud, and whether Mr. Trump can still do business in the state of New York.

While New York may be on Trump's mind, the Republican front runner for the presidential nomination has descended on the city he loves to hate today, Washington, D.C., where he visited Teamster union leaders as he tries to peel away support from President Biden. This as a D.C. appeals court, just a few blocks away, is weighing Mr. Trump's claim that president's enjoy absolute immunity.

Our experts are with us now.

Elie, let me start with you.

This New York fraud trial goes to the very heart of Donald Trump's identity as a business magnate with a huge business empire that the judge in this case says Trump lives in a fantasy world. How harsh -- do you think he's going to be with the ruling?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, I think we're going to see an astronomical verdict when this comes out. I think it's going to be well into the nine figures, well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and this isn't just speculation.


I base that on the record of this case itself. Let's remember, this judge ruled in favor of the AG against Donald Trump on one of the counts before the case, even been started. And if you read that ruling, the judge rejects Donald Trump's defenses in very pointed fashion, using the quote you just use that Donald Trump lives in a fantasy world. And during the trial itself, there were times when Trump's team asked for a motion to dismiss, for example. And again, the judge forcefully rejected that. I think it's clear the judge is going to come down with a massive verdict sometime soon.

TAPPER: And, Kristen, you were at Teamsters headquarters earlier today as Mr. Trump tried to woo members of the Teamsters union, working class voters. How do union members feel about Trump's various legal cases if that's a factor at all?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, when I'm talking to these union members, if they're considering voting for Donald Trump at all, his legal issues are not something that they care about, even when we heard from executive board member who opposed his visit to the Teamsters, it wasn't about his legal issues, about the fact that he called him a scab and a known union buster and said that he shouldn't be speaking to the union.

When I talked up to these various voters in this, particularly in this voting bloc, they're more concerned like the rest of the country when it about the economy, about immigration. And that's what you're going to continue to hear Donald Trump, particularly as he moves into a general election, if he is in fact the nominee, a talking about the economy nonstop, asking voters if they were better off four years ago than they are now, even heard him trying to turn the messaging today into that as well.

TAPPER: Jamie, Trump's rival for the Republican nomination, Nikki Haley, has been needling Trump and all his legal troubles. Listen to just one example from Sunday.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They see that he's completely distracted. They see that he's going on these rants about how he's the victim. These court cases are going to keep happening one by one. We're going to keep seeing him in a courtroom and were going to see him come out and do a press conference. That's not what you want a president to be.


TAPPER: I'm going to talk to Governor Haley here on THE LEAD tomorrow, by the way.

Haley's campaign manager told Republican mega donors that Trump will be a nightmare for the party according to a source. How is Haley's message landing, Jamie?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So when I talk to donors, her biggest supporters look, they are realistic that she has an uphill climb here, even top people on her campaign will admit that to me. That said, what you're seeing there, Jake, is the strategy. She is going to come out every day swinging.

And in fact, in those two clips, you don't even hear the roughest stuff. She calls him unhinged, confused. There was a new ad out today, where she called both Trump and Biden grumpy old men. All of that said, there needs to be a moment sum game changer for her and the campaign he knows that she can afford to stay in a little longer. But unless she goes up in the polls, you know, this is Trump's primary.

TAPPER: Yeah. Elie, I also want to get your thoughts in the aftermath of the E. Jean Carroll defamation case, Trump posted at 11:00 p.m. last night saying he's interviewing various law firms for an appeal.

What does this tell you about Alina Habba's status as his lawyer? And does this -- can you elaborate if there's anything that you think she did particularly wrong in the E. Jean Carroll case, given the short, we only have a couple of hours for the show?

HONIG: Well, Jake, it's definitely not a vote of confidence. I mean, often when a lawyer and a client get a hit with a verdict like that, they do want to bring in a different lawyer to do the appeal for obvious reasons. Here -- here's my assessment of Alina Habba's performance as a lawyer.

The good news issues clearly passionate and believes in her client and her cause, and she's fairly effective at communicating it in one simple message. The downside is she doesn't know what she's doing in the courtroom. I mean, plain and simple. If you look at that transcript, she can't even do things that you learn in evidence class in law school, move exhibits into evidence, not violate the rules of hearsay.

And the other thing is -- and look, maybe this is an impossible task. She had zero client control and allow killing her client -- again, I don't know who can control this client, but allowing her client to be muttering audibly in front of the jury to walk out during the other sides closing argument. That is just inexcusable. And I think that's reflected in the huge verdict that they got hit with.

TAPPER: And, Jamie, this shuffling of lawyers is hardly unusual for Donald Trump.

GANGEL: Donald, this is Donald Trump's super power. He knows how to shop for lawyers. I think the question here is, who's going to work for him? The appeal, you know, does not look like a very strong appeal as far as we know and so can he get the level of lawyer he wants? And then to Elie's point, is he going to listen to the lawyer?

TAPPER: Right. And is he going to pay the lawyer? That's another question.


TAPPER: Thanks to all of you.

My next guest served as Donald Trump's national security adviser. He's out with a new warning about just how damaging he thinks a second Trump term would be. His insights, next.



TAPPER: Thanks to all of you.

My next guest served as Donald Trump's national security adviser. He's out with a new warning about just how damaging he thinks a second Trump term would be. His insights, next.


TAPPER: Some breaking news for you this afternoon. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis might have lost his bid for the presidency, but he just won a major fight with the Magic Kingdom. A federal judge in Florida today dismissed Disney's lawsuit against DeSantis and his political allies, which was filed after DeSantis signed a bill giving him and the state of Florida new power over the 47 square mile district that contains Walt Disney World resort. Up until then, that area was essentially self-governed by the corporation of Disney.

This lawsuit filed by Disney, which the judge said failed on merit accused DeSantis of weaponizing his political power to punish Disney for exercising its right to free speech.


All of this dates back to about two years ago when the company criticized the DeSantis bill that banned certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms.

Turning now to our world lead and Iran's military leaders saying today, quote, we are not in pursuit of war, but we are not afraid of war.

This comes just one day after President Biden announced he has decided how the U.S. should respond and will respond to Sunday's drone strike by Iran-backed militant group that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan and wounded dozens others. This afternoon, the White House formerly assigned blame to, quote, the umbrella group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. Top officials also confirmed the counterattack will be multiple phases.

Joining us now to discuss, former ambassador to the United Nations and former national security adviser to President Trump, John Bolton.

Ambassador Bolton has a paperback version of his memoir, "The Room Where It Happened" out now with a new foreword on how detrimental a second Trump term would be.

Ambassador, let's start with Iran. You have said that you think Biden should order strikes on targets directly in Iran and you say we're already in the wider war so many have warned about. Which targets inside Iran?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, let me be clear the reason to go after targets inside Iran is that they've made it very clear they consider that a red line. Well, I consider killing Americans a red line, and they have crossed it. So to establish clearly that we're prepared to do what's necessary to prevent Iran from succeeding through its terrorists surrogates in the region. I think we've got to let them know that we don't care anymore about their red lines, than they care about ours.

Now I'm not talking about at least at first going after regime threatening targets. I'm talking about things like air defense systems inside Iran military bases in the west of the country where Shia militia groups have been trained and armed over the years, Iranian naval vessels in the Red Sea.

We'll see what their reaction is to that. And then we can decide whether to go after oil infrastructure, the nuclear program, the ballistic missile program, or regime command and control facilities.

For Biden not to make it clear that the United States knows who is pulling the strings in all these conflicts in the Middle East simply risks having this conflict continue.

TAPPER: But wouldn't this just escalate the conflict?

BOLTON: I think right now, Iran is not paying any price for anything that's happening in the region and until they begin to pay a price, they will simply continue to push. No one wants a wider war, but look at the way around is behaving now. Do you want to try and confront this problem now or would you rather wait until Iran gets deliverable nuclear weapons?

TAPPER: So, Ambassador Nikki Haley, a fellow former U.N. ambassador, and the last major Republican candidates still standing against Trump, laid out in more detail than Trump how she would respond. Take a listen.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Put the sanctions back on, first thing. Second thing is go and look at the production sites where those missiles are coming from. Take those out in Iraq and Syria. Thirdly, go after the IRGC members that are making these decisions. It's strategic. It's not that you've just go bomb a country. You go when you take out one or two or those leaders, it will leave them flat-footed.


TAPPER: Now, Biden did announce extra sanctions today on Iran's military and on Hezbollah's financial network.

Do you agree with Haley's other two points?

BOLTON: Well, look, the Biden administration for three years has not enforced the existing sanctions and it has allowed Iranian oil shipments and revenues from that to get back almost to the levels they were before the sanctions were reimposed in the Trump administration.

I think there are a lot of things you can do that are not regime threatening and in a moderate guy myself, that's what I'm recommending for the first attacks inside Iran, so that everybody will know that we don't have the hidden agenda that I have to change the regime. But the point is that the Biden administration is bending over backwards at this point, not to hit targets in Iran.

And that will have exactly the opposite effect of what they want. It will embolden Iran because it says were afraid of their red line.

TAPPER: So just to elaborate on what you just said, I mean, you're suggesting regime change. How does one go about doing that while staying within the boundaries of international law?

BOLTON: Well, I think it's very easy. I think the people of Iran are overwhelmingly against the regime. I think there are any number of things we could do short of using military force to aid the people of Iran. The only thing that keeps the ayatollahs in power now is the barrel of the gun, and I think Iran is heading for a period of real instability when the supreme leader dies because I think that's when the regime can fragment.


You're not going to have peace and security in the Middle East as long as the mullahs in Tehran are arming and equipping the Houthi in Yemen, Hamas into Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and these Shia militia groups in Iraq and Syria.

Iran is the central threat to peace and security. And we're not doing anything about it.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the new foreword of your book. You predicted if Donald Trump wins in November, quote, he will not depart voluntarily this time.

Elaborate on that if you would. Do you think the political violence that we saw on January 6 is inevitable if Trump wins another term, that he will decisively refuse to leave at the end of four years because he's unable to change the constitution to his liking?

BOLTON: Well, it's more in the context. What if he is convicted in one of these criminal cases? Probably if he's president, he will have dismissed the federal cases. But what if he's convicted in Georgia, let's say, and the Georgia state police arrived to come and put him in jail?

I think Trump's going to do everything he can to maintain himself in power. He does have the Constitution standing in his way this time, which expressly bars a third term. And I'm sure one of the thanks, hell do is launch an effort to amend the Constitution.

But it's also the chaos that hell spread really from day one by trying to use the Justice Department to get retribution against his enemies. And who knows what he'll try and get the Defense Department to do?

TAPPER: You told CNN's Kaitlan Collins last night that there's no correct answer when choosing between President Biden and former President Trump and that you're not going to vote for either one of them. But really it is, it ends up being a choice between two individuals, two candidates.

I know you wrote in somebody last time and that you vote in Maryland, which is a reliably blue state. But what do you suggest national security minded vote -- minded voters in battleground states do?

BOLTON: Well, I haven't given up on defeating Trump for the Republican nomination and until the convention nominates him, I don't plan to give up on that. People say that, you know, you're on a box, you're afraid to vote for a Democrat.

I'm not going to vote for somebody whose philosophy I disagree with. That would contradict my most fundamental beliefs. I'm in a situation that is very unhappy.

I think Trump is a feckless and incompetent to be president. And I think the policies being pursued by the Biden administration right now are very damaging to the country. There is no satisfactory candidate. That's not because I'm afraid to vote for Biden. I'm not going to vote for a philosophy I've opposed since I first supported Barry Goldwater for president in 1964.

TAPPER: Suffice it to say you would be delighted to vote for Nikki Haley?

BOLTON: I would vote for her. Yeah, I would vote for. I would have voted for any Republican other than Donald Trump and Vivek Ramaswamy in this pass-go ground.

TAPPER: Ambassador Bolton, thank you so much.

BOLTON: Glad to be with you.

TAPPER: As Congress fights over a potential border deal, cities across the U.S. are reaching a breaking point and begging for more help to deal with the surge in migrants. Why this crisis could now lead to essential services such as firefighters being cut? That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, a bipartisan border compromise by members of the U.S. Senate is on the verge of tanking, even though the details of what's actually in this legislation has not yet been released. Some Senate Republicans and a majority of those in the House are relying on what they think is in it and they are following former President Donald Trump's marching orders to make sure that the compromise fails. Mr. Trump has said they need to get everything they want in the bill, not just some of what they want.

Here's Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson earlier today, blaming President Biden for failing to take action and securing the border.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: President Biden wants to somehow try to shift the blame to Congress for his administration's catastrophe by design. It's absolutely laughable. No one's falling for this.


TAPPER: Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans who have worked for weeks to get Democrats and President Biden to concede a lot of conservative measures Republicans are demanding, are now rebuking members of their own party for wanting to kill the deal.

Here is Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma. He's the Republican that has been leading the border negotiations, pushing back on Speaker Johnson's criticism of the bill.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The speaker says that one migrant comes across the border, that's one migrant too many, and your bill doesn't do enough to completely shut down the board.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Actually, it does, a complete shutdown of the border in many ways.


TAPPER: This border battle goes far beyond Washington, D.C., of course.

As CNN's Shimon Prokupecz reports for us from Denver, Colorado, there are any number of major cities in the United States where migrants are being dropped off by red-state governors. And those cities are nearing a breaking point as temperatures plummet and recent sources are drained.



SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER (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.

Where are -- are you hoping -- wow, that would -- you could just see the wind here, again tents, blowing. Wow.

Alexander from Venezuela complains of the freezing conditions. He shows us how he's been living.


PROKUPECZ: He says this foam protects the tent from the wind. This is your bed?


PROKUPECZ: This is where you sleep?


PROKUPECZ: This is how he looks for work, he says.

That's your sign?


PROKUPECZ: But it's just getting too cold here in Denver and they need to start moving the people out inside into shelters. There's 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: 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's no room. They're going to be outside freezing to death.

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


PROKUPECZ: Denver's mayor, Mike Johnston, visits a shelter.


PROKUPECZ: He's immediately surrounded by migrants asking for help.


PROKUPECZ: It's good for him to see what's happening, she says. Worried she'll end up in the streets with her son. She's 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.

You've had conversations with Greg Abbott?

MAYOR MIKE JOHNSTON (D), DENVER, COLORADO: I have not talked to Governor Abbott. I reached out to him, but we hear --

PROKUPECZ: He's not called you back.

JOHNSTON: He's not called me back.

PROKUPECZ: So if you've -- what do you want to talk to him about it? If you were -- if you could speak to him?

JOHNSTON: Yeah. I mean, what I would say them as I understand. You know, 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's 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 know not to trash pickup or not have our parks and recreation centers open. PROKUPECZ: The strain on resources, frustrating others in need.

ROBERT EVERETT THOMPSON, JR., VETERAN EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS: Their use of a bend or break approach, but I think you need the help, are the American side first before you help, you know, the influx of migrants before us, yeah.

PROKUPECZ: Seeking relief, mayors like Johnson pleading for more federal help, allowing migrants to work.

What is your name?


PROKUPECZ: Wilfred. So he's telling us he needs a warm place to say, it's about 20 degrees or so.

There's no place to go, he says.

You can die from the cold here. You can. It's going to get much colder. You have to so inside, sir. Okay?

At night, we learn of a group sheltering under a bridge.

There was a group of people coming here now to try and 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: With limited city resources, residents are stepping in, like Pastor Keith Reeser, who's 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? Okay.

PROKUPECZ: So what's your goal here now?

REESER: We've got some friends, grabbed a couple of my buddies and I said, let's go get them and let's get them out of this situation. So, we're offering them shelter for the night. Seven in my vehicle, so I can take seven.

PROKUPECZ: Another resident is using her motel as a sanctuary.


PROKUPECZ: Housing about 300 migrants

So how many stay here? All of these mattresses, one, two, three --


PROKUPECZ: -- around 20 just in this one room?



PROKUPECZ: She is like a mother to us, he says. Seriously, she gets up at five in the morning and cooks us breakfast.

Yong Prince (ph) was planning to leave Denver to retire. But when migrants started showing up at her hotel, she found a reason to stay.

YONG PRINCE, MOTEL OWNER HOUSING MIGRANTS: My parents come 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 '52 right after the war. So, yes I feel them.

PROKUPECZ: They've 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 (on camera): And so, Jake, just like you see that woman there, others have stepped into help because they're really out of critical point here in Denver where it's really straining so many of their resources.

One of the things that the Denver mayor is doing is he's offering bus tickets at about $300 or so a pop where if migrants want to leave Denver, they can leave. They say they have families to go to, so they're buying them these bus tickets. They're trying to do everything to relieve some of the strain that they're feeling, Jake.

TAPPER: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much. Appreciate that reporting.

For years, leaders of big tech had been called the Capitol Hill to try and explain how they are protecting your kids online or if they are protecting your kids online.


Coming up next, see why a hearing on this very issue today was so different?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, the spin cycle from both Democrats and Republicans blasting

each other over efforts to strike a comprehensive border deal or kill the deal. What CNN is learning now about the next move planned by Democrats, one that's somewhat risky, that Democrats have never tried before.

Plus, the FBI director warning that Chinese hackers are prepared to, quote, wreak havoc on critical U.S. infrastructure such as the water supply or power grids. Can the U.S. protect against a potential attack? I'll ask a man who led U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security in the U.S.

And leading this hour, an airing of grievances in the U.S. Senate today. Members speaking for so many Americans, frustrated with the leaders of big tech who they argue are not doing nearly enough to protect children on social media.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Child sexual exploitation is a crisis in America.