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Today, Trump Meets With Teamsters in Push to Build Union Support; Big Tech CEOs Testify at Online Child Safety Hearing; Tense Situation Unfolding at Hospital in Khan Younis, IDF Denies Being Inside Building. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 10:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The dangers facing your children online. What do the social media companies know? What are we not being told? Answers might be coming in the next few minutes.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Can Donald Trump woo the Teamsters away from President Biden. Trump is going after it today, and Joe Biden's getting ready to fly to Michigan to rally. More union support. What these votes mean for critical battleground states and anyone's hope to win the White House now.

BERMAN: Billion-dollar effort to secure the border. New questions this morning if this was just a giant money pit.

Sara is away. I'm John Berman with Kate Bolduan. This is CNN News Central.

The safety of your children very much in question this morning when we're talking about your children online. There is broad bipartisan agreement that dangers are lurking, kids are being targeted and the social media companies may not be as engaged as they should be.

At this moment, tech CEOs are being called to task on Capitol Hill.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Clare Duffy. Clare?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Right, John. So, I mean, lawmakers have spent the past two-plus years doing a lot of talking about the potential harms to young people on social media, but not taking a lot of action.

So, the big question today will be, can we hear more than just these flashy sound bites, especially in election year? Will there be pushes for real change from the CEOs?

Already, we've seen parents filing into this hearing room, holding pictures of young people who presumably have been hurt in some way by social media. So, the pressure is really on here.

There are reasons to believe that today's hearing could be different from some of the other online safety hearings that we've seen over the past couple of years. Among those reasons is that there are a number of more serious legislative proposals now on the table that could hold these companies accountable.

There is the Kids Online Safety Act, which Snapchat has already said it's going to endorse. I think we'll hear some of these other CEOs face pressure to also endorse that bill. There's another proposal that would crack down on the creation of A.I.-generated non-consensual images, sexual images, which, of course, we know Taylor Swift was the latest victim of just last week.

And from these CEOs, I think we're going to hear them tout their existing youth safety measures. Many of them have tools that let parents oversee their teen's social media use, but critics are saying that doesn't go far enough and it puts too much pressure on parents and on teenagers themselves to have a safe experience on social media.

And so I think it will be interesting to see whether these social media CEOs can really reassure lawmakers that they're doing enough in this area, John.

BERMAN: Yes. We'll listen to their choice of words, their language very carefully. Clare Duffy, thank you very much. Kate?

BOLDUAN: It looks like it's getting underway just as we are speaking. We're going to keep an eye on that.

So, there's also this. It's a new fight for union support today, Donald Trump trying to woo one of the nation's largest unions, the Teamsters, away from Joe Biden. He's meeting with members and leadership today in Washington.

Now, the Teamsters endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, Biden in 2020 just for some perspective.

CNN's Kristen Holmes, she has more. She's joining us now. Kristen, what is the task facing Donald Trump today as he tries to pry them away from Joe Biden?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate. Look, this is all part of a larger strategy if this ends up as a rematch with Joe Biden, which it does look like we're heading in that direction. Trump campaign's goal is to try and drive a wedge between Biden and one of his most supportive voting blocks, which is labor unions.


Now, to be very clear, they do not believe they're going to win over all labor unions. They know that he had a record in office that was seen as far more anti-labor than pro-labor, but they do believe that he can appeal to rank and file union members.

He has a track record, Donald Trump, of appealing to working class voters, and that's what they're going to try and do.

Now, this visit is actually upsetting some union members, including an executive board member who wrote a letter to the president of the Teamster, saying essentially that Donald Trump was a known union buster, scab and insurrectionist.

So, clearly, some of the members here are upset by this visit. As you noted, the Teamsters have not endorsed in this election. Obviously, that would be a huge win for Donald Trump. Unclear whether or not that would happen, but it does come after the United Auto Workers endorsed Joe Biden, not just endorsed him, but we've seen the president of the United Auto Workers coming out and slamming Trump repeatedly.

So, something to keep in mind here as he makes this visit to D.C. today.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. All right, Kristen, thank you so much for that. John?

We're also tracking this right now, developing this morning new attacks from Nikki Haley this morning. She just delivered her sharpest criticism of Donald Trump yet saying he is, quote, toxic and lacks moral clarity.

Let's get more on this right now. CNN's Kylie Atwood has more. Kylie, what do you got?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, we just heard this morning from Nikki Haley on Charlamagne tha God radio interview, where she offered, as you said, Kate, her sharpest critiques yet of the former president. She went after him in a way that we haven't seen her do today.

We have seen her go after questions about his mental fitness. But this morning, she said bluntly that he is just toxic when she was asked about how he has changed politics. Listen to what she said.

It seems like we don't have that sound bite. Sorry.

But, obviously, this is a critical moment for Nikki Haley. She has been fundraising in New York. She'll head to Palm Beach fundraising today. She is really trying to do everything that she can to convince voters that is worth keeping her campaign alive.

And another thing that she is doing, her campaign, is launching a new effort to cast former President Trump and Joe Biden as grumpy old men. Now, we have seen her tie these two politicians together, increasingly so over the last month or so. But this is a new effort to try and really cast them in the same vein, as two old men who are stuck in basements and the like.

And over the course of the last few days, one thing I want to point out, Kate, is that she has made a point to showcase her foreign policy chops. And that is very clearly stating how she would have responded if she were commander-in-chief to this attack that we saw in Yemen that killed three U.S. service members, clearly saying that she would go after IRGC leadership.

And contrasting to that, we haven't heard much from former President Trump on the matter. He has put out two statements. He blamed Biden for the death of those service members. But Nikki Haley obviously saw this as a moment to go on a media blitz, to really hone in on her foreign policy expertise.

Of course, we know that for most voters, foreign policy isn't their top voting decision-maker, but it is a way for her to showcase what she would do if she were commander-in-chief very clearly. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great stuff, Kylie, thank you for tracking all of it for us.

Joining us right now for more is CNN Political Analyst, New York Times National Politics Reporter Astead Herndon, and National Politics Reporter with Axios Sofia Cai.

Let's talk about Nikki Haley in just one second. I want to focus real first though on this battle for union support from Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The fight for union support, Astead, is really -- it is an interesting one. Biden won the support of the UAW last week, but we know that Donald Trump appeals to union workers, working class voters, and he has since 2016 in a way that Republicans traditionally have not for decades. What do you see here?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this is clearly going to be one of the battlegrounds we got to think about when it comes to 2024. Remember back in 2016, not only did Donald Trump appeal and pull away some of these rank and file union voters. We saw a real split between union leadership, who was kind of universally backing Hillary Clinton and the Democratic kind of ticket, and then a kind of rank and file breakaway that was more and more interested in Donald Trump.

That gap kind of closed in 2020 as Donald Trump's presidency was seen as too chaotic and Joe Biden was able to win back some of those voters, but I think it's that same split that Donald Trump is targeting again here. Yes, they understand that they may not get the leadership to line up behind them, but they want to be seen as reaching out for that support. And they think that they can pull away some of the voters on the margins.

I would say, as Biden got the UAW endorsement last week, we shouldn't think of union voters in a vacuum. Of course, these are working class voters. These are people who are concerned about kind of kitchen table issues. But there, the UAW president was also pressured around Biden's stance on not calling for a ceasefire on the issues in Gaza and foreign policy.


So, I think that there are traditional issues that have been seen as secondary as we focus on more classic groups, like union voters and their kind of economic concerns. But I think that that's a line that's increasingly glinting blurred as these issues become more and more nationalized and all of these issues are in the table at once.

BOLDUAN: It is really -- I mean, you're talking -- right, if there is a split or a difference, and there would be between winning the support of union leadership and all union members. Because, Sophia, the Teamsters, I mean, what is it, a union of more than like 1.4 million members, what would an endorsement, or just pulling over a lot of support, if not a full-on endorsement from the Teamsters, what would pulling that support mean for Donald Trump if it would happen?

SOPHIA CAI, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, AXIOS: I mean, I think that would be huge. Teamsters endorsed Hillary Clinton previously. And so that would be a real shift in Teamsters' leadership. We don't know if that'll happen.

We do know that both Biden and Trump are expected to meet with Teamsters. That's really rankling some rank and file union members who are writing letters to say, you know, come on. Like, Trump was not a very pro-union president.

And so we see a lot of that split. We saw that in Michigan, where Trump was there in Detroit. He was at a non-union plant, because he wasn't able to get the union leadership to get him to hold his rally at a union plant.

And so I think, you know, when you go and talk to those rank and file members, they don't necessarily like that, right, like both of these Trump and Biden are coming in here and using them as political props. They will vote as they will, and, in some cases, regardless of what the leadership will do.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about what Kylie Atwood was reporting, this new move from Nikki Haley. She's really going after -- this is new in how she's going after Donald Trump in this way, toxic, lacks moral clarity, Astead.

Speaking with Fist Club and Charlamagne tha God, what do you think of this move by Nikki Haley, Astead?

HERNDON: It's certainly interesting. I mean, I think you're right that this is the most clear-eyed criticism of Donald Trump we've seen from her, more personal attacks that we have seen from her, and the setting is interesting. Choosing to go on the Breakfast Club, you know, do an interview with Charlamagne tha God. I think it's not a natural Nikki Haley audience. It speaks to someone who very much is still seeing themselves as having a long road in this race. And I think that's consistent with our reporting.

She does not have a money problem. There continues to be a kind of elite donor class at the Republican Party who is supporting her. She has a math problem. She has a problem in South Carolina and in the kind of states coming forward that the grassroots base of the Republican Party isn't really speaking that same language.

And, more importantly, a lot of the apparatus of the Republican Party, the state party officials, have really been squeezed since New Hampshire by the Trump campaign to try to wrap this primary up and really name Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee.

I saw her in Nashville over right before the New Hampshire results. And you can see her ramping up these attacks, lumping Biden and Trump together. But the means today, the grumpy old men line, I think that shows that this is going -- she's not going to go down without having her kind of say clearly.

I think the what if for the Nikki Haley campaign is what if she was making these kind of clear contrast with Donald Trump at the beginning of her campaign throughout the entirety, not just since he is one Iowa, New Hampshire and the electoral path for him looks a lot better.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And you know what they're thinking, no time to look in that rearview mirror quite yet. We're still running ahead at this moment.

Sophia you've been doing reporting and writing about what you describe as Haley's Hail Mary strategy in the primary. Bouncing off of what Astead was pointing to there, talk to me about that strategy and what you're hearing about it.

CAI: I mean, look, like it doesn't really work for them to just dwell on Iowa and New Hampshire. They have to show a path forward, not just to their voters but also to their donors.

And so they're looking beyond New Hampshire, they're looking beyond Nevada where they're not really campaigning, onto South Carolina, onto Michigan and onto 11 of the Super Tuesday states where there are open primaries or semi-open primaries, and that means that you have Democratic and independent voters who are eligible to vote in some of those states. And I think that is the very narrow and complex path that they are charting even if it's very unlikely for them.

BOLDUAN: Yes. From some of the reporting from the campaign, and in your reporting, here's just one of that pieces of data, Sophia. Of the 874 delegates available on Super Tuesday, roughly two-thirds are in states with open or semi-open primaries. Let's see what it all looks like.

It's great to see you guys. Thank you so much. John?

BERMAN: All right. Thanks so much, Kate.

New reports of Israeli military action on hospital grounds.

It cost billions, but now new questions about a huge effort to keep migrants from crossing the border.

And home buyers on edge this morning waiting for a big announcement on interest rates.



BERMAN: All right. You're looking at live pictures from the U.S. Senate. This is a hearing that a lot of parents have been waiting to see. Those are tech CEOs. You can see Mark Zuckerberg, among others, rising, raising his right hand. Let's listen for a second, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let the record reflect that all the witnesses have answered in the affirmative.

Mr. Citron, please proceed with your opening statement.

JASON CITRON, CEO, DISCORD: Good morning. My name is Jason Citron, and I am the co-founder and CEO of Discord.


We are an American company with about 800 employees living and working in 33 states. Today, Discord has grown to more than 150 million monthly active users.

Discord is a communications platform where friends hang out and talk online about shared interests, from fantasy sports to writing music to video games.

I've been playing video games since I was five years old, and as a kid, it's how I had fun and found friendship. Many of my fondest memories are of playing video games with friends.

We built Discord so that anyone could build friendships playing video games from Minecraft to Wordle and everything in between. Games have always brought us together, and Discord makes that happen today.

Discord is one of the many services that have revolutionized --

BERMAN: All right. Those are tech CEOs. You saw Mark Zuckerberg among them. They are testifying before a Senate committee. There's rare bipartisan agreement that your children are facing dangers online and that these social media companies need to do more to stop it, to step in, to monitor it at least.

So, some of the questions that we do expect to hear will be quite pointed today. We'll check back in, in a little bit, if things heat up.

This morning, there are also new reports of intense fighting around a hospital in Gaza. This is happening at the Al Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.

Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv with the latest on this. Jeremy, what have you learned?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the situation at the Al Amal Hospital is being described as quite precarious and desperate by the Palestine Red Crescent Society. They say that there are thousands of displaced Palestinians who have been sheltering at that hospital, who are now living in, quote, constant fear and anxiety.

They said that, last night, Israeli tanks actually rolled into the front yard of that hospital. The Israeli military, for its part, didn't deny that specifically, but they did say that they, quote, did not operate inside the hospital itself. They also maintain they have been closely coordinating and communicating with hospital officials to try and ensure the delivery of fuel and to ensure that electricity remains on at that hospital.

But what is clear is that the Israeli military, for about a week now, has been engaged in a very significant offensive in that area of Western Khan Younis, where several key hospitals, including Al Amal Hospital as well as Al Nasr Hospital, are both located.

Not only are those critical hospitals for the wounded and the ill but they have also become shelters for thousands of displaced Palestinians.

And there has been very, very intense fighting in that area with Israeli tanks and armored vehicles surrounding the area of many of those hospitals. Strikes, artillery shelling also reported in the area of those hospitals.

Despite that, though, the World Health Organization says that today they were actually able to deliver essential medical supplies to Nasr Hospital for about 1,000 of their patients, critically needed medical supplies, at a time when, again, the situation is growing increasingly desperate for the patients and the displaced people living in the area of those hospitals. John?

BERMAN: All right. Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv, Jeremy, thanks for your reporting. Kate?

BOLDUAN: After a middle-of-the-night vote, the stage is now set for House Republicans to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Even though there's a whole lot of talk of impeachment these days, impeaching a cabinet secretary has not happened in nearly 150 years.

At the very same time, the bipartisan border deal that has been in the works for months, it is on the brink of something right now in the Senate side, either success or total collapse because of Donald Trump's objections. That is all happening in Washington.

But let's go to the center of where this crisis has been focused. CNN's Ed Lavender is in Eagle Pass, Texas. Let's talk about what you -- from all the talk in Washington, where you are is where the focus and where a lot of the crisis has been centered, about where the need is so great right now for a fix. What are you seeing there, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the standoff that we're watching unfold in Washington is clearly contagious because that is what we're seeing continuing to unfold here on the ground along the border in Eagle Pass, where the federal government and the state of Texas continues to battle over the way the governor here is executing his border security initiative called Operation Lone Star.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Gaston Santander (ph) fled Venezuela and crossed into Texas in the summer of 2021, just a few months after Governor Greg Abbott launched the state-funded border security plan called Operation Lone Star.


Instead of being detained by border patrol agents, he was arrested by the Texas state troopers. Part of Operation Lone Star involves arresting migrants for trespassing on to private property. Governor Abbott has argued these arrests would deter migrants.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): And when people start learning about this, they're going to stop coming across the Texas border.

LAVANDERA: Gaston, you were handcuffed, arrested, charged with criminal trespassing. You spent more than a month in jail in Texas.

Santander says the experience was held. He spent his life working as a human rights lawyer, now was seen as a criminal. The trespassing charge was dismissed by a judge and almost three years later, Santander is now in Colorado awaiting his asylum hearing. The state arrest did nothing to derail that.

Kristin Etter is a lawyer who has worked with groups that have defended thousands of migrants snagged into the net of operation Lone Star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really just a political stunt and has no real effect on immigration.

LAVANDERA: The state says they've made nearly 10,000 trespassing arrests since 2021. Etter says many of those misdemeanor --


BOLDUAN: All right, Ed Lavendera for us in Texas.

We do need to go now back to Capitol Hill because Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, the founder of Facebook, now testifying, beginning his opening remarks to senators. Let's listen in.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER AND CEO, META: Mental health is a complex issue, and the existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes.

A recent National Academies of Science report evaluated over 300 studies and found that research, quote, did not support the conclusion that social media causes changes in adolescent mental health at the population level, end quote. It also suggested that social media can provide significant positive benefits when young people use it to express themselves, explore and connect with others. Still, we're going to continue to monitor the research and use it to inform our roadmap.

Keeping young people safe online has been a challenge since the internet began. And as criminals evolve their tactics, we have to evolve our defenses too. We work closely with law enforcement to find bad actors and help bring them to justice, but the difficult reality is that no matter how much we invest or how effective our tools are, there's always more to learn and more improvements to make. But we remain ready to work with members of this committee, industry and parents to make the internet safer for everyone.

I'm proud of the work that our teams do to improve online child safety on our services and across the entire internet. We have around 40,000 people overall working on safety and security, and we've invested more than $20 billion in this since 2016, including around $5 billion in the last year alone. We have many teams dedicated to child safety and teen well-being, and we lead the industry in a lot of the areas that we're discussing today.

Technology to tackle the worst online risks and share it to help our whole industry get better, like Project Lantern, which helps companies share data about people who break child safety rules, and we're founding members of Take It Down, a platform which helps young people prevent their nude images from being spread online.

We also go beyond legal requirements and use sophisticated technology to proactively discover abusive material. And as a result, we find and report more inappropriate content than anyone else in the industry. As the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children put it this week, Meta goes, quote, above and beyond to make sure that there are no portions of their network where this type of activity occurs, end quote.

I hope we can have a substantive discussion today that drives improvements across the industry, including legislation that delivers what parents say they want, a clear system for age verification and control over what apps their kids are using.

Three out of four parents want app store age verification, and four out of five want parental approval of whatever -- whenever teens download apps. We support this. Parents should have the final say on what apps are appropriate for their children and shouldn't have to upload their I.D. every time. That's what app stores are for.

We also support setting industry standards on age-appropriate content and limiting signals for advertising to teens, to age and location, and not behavior. At the end of the day, we want everyone who uses our services to have safe and positive experiences.

And before I wrap up, I want to recognize the families who are here today who have lost a loved one or lived through some terrible things that no family should have to endure. These issues are important for every parent and every platform. I'm committed to continuing to work in these areas, and I hope we can make progress today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Mr. Spiegel?


BERMAN: All right. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of META, delivering his opening statements at this hearing, tech CEOs answering questions from senators.