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Trump Prosecutor Able To Avoid Questions On Alleged Affair With D.A.; Tense Situation Unfolding In Khan Younis, IDF Denies Operating Inside Hospital; Senators Grill Big Tech CEOs On Kids' Safety Online; Democrats See Opportunity To Campaign On Border Security; Police: Son Arrested In Father's Beheading Death. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How much do you think, in terms of embarrassment, was avoided? I should mention, as we heard Nick reporting, this is not over, right? There are going to be other instances where these two individuals could be deposed so there could be more that comes out of this depending.

But how much embarrassment was avoided in this instant where he was able to avoid this one particular thing coming to an agreement on this dispute with his ex-wife?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: At least temporarily supported. He has saved himself some embarrassment, Brianna. But it may have been very costly for him to do so.

His ex-wife, or soon-to-be ex-wife, is very unhappy about the situation presumably, but is using it as leverage. And she understands that he did not want to be embarrassed. He did not want this out in public.

We have no idea what is going on behind closed doors but I assume she is extracting a significant price in the divorce in exchange for trying to resolve this in the short run.

I think Mr. Wade is paying the price for the relationship that he is in. Reasonably, a hefty price for it. I do not think the price that he's going to pay is over. I think he's going to continue to have to face questions about this for some weeks to come.

KEILAR: We will be looking for that.

Renato, thank you for being with us. We do appreciate it.

And coming up, hopes of a new hostage deal today as the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate and tensions escalate. The latest on where talks now stand.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: As fighting rages on in Gaza today, hostage negotiations are teetering on the edge.

The Israel Defense Forces have been carrying out large-scale operations in the Hamas stronghold of Khan Younis for weeks. But one aid group says the IDF has taken that offensive into a hospital, a report that the IDF is now denying.

Clearly, the ground situation is not cooling off as negotiators near another hostage deal. There is a framework for a truce but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled some resistance.

Let's get the latest live from Israel with CNN's Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, first, what are you hearing about the situation in Khan Younis?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a desperate and a very precarious situation. Imagine the fact that thousands of displaced Palestinians have been sheltering at two hospitals in western Khan Younis, exactly where the Israeli military over the last week has been carrying out a major ground offensive.

And today, the Palestine Red Crescent Society says that Israeli forces, Israeli tanks are still on the ground of that hospital complex, The Al-Amal Hospital in western Khan Younis.

Where they say that some 8,000 people have been sheltering. They say that snipers are on the rooftops and the roads leading to the hospital, there are reports that many of the roads are blocked.

The Israeli military, for its part, says it did not enter the hospital itself but there have been numerous reports of live ammunition as well as smoke grenades being fired on the grounds of that hospital.

Meanwhile, efforts are still underway to try and secure another deal that would see a lengthy truce, perhaps weeks of a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas and could see the release of dozens of Israeli hostages.

Today, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, telling the families of hostages that he is fully committed to returning all of their loved ones.

But just yesterday, he said as well that Israel will not release, quote, "thousands of terrorists" in order to secure this deal.

He also made very clear that while Hamas is pushing for an end to this war altogether, a permanent ceasefire in order to release those hostages, the Israeli prime minister is saying he will continue until total victory.

Making clear that he wants to achieve both objectives of this war as he has laid them out, not only securing the release of all of those hostages but also dismantling Hamas, removing it from power in the Gaza Strip.

Clearly, there are still major differences to be resolved between these two sides. A lot of ground to go, despite the fact that we have seen some significant momentum, significant progress in recent days.

SANCHEZ: Jeremy Diamond, live from Tel Aviv. Thanks so much, Jeremy.


KEILAR: Right now, big tech CEOs are in the hot seat on Capitol Hill defending social media and their companies.

Let's listen to a moment that just happened up there. This was between Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, META: -- worked very hard to take it down.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Didn't take it down?

ZUCKERBERG: Well, we have reported, I think it's more than 26 million examples of this kind of content that --

BLACKBURN: Did not take it down until a congressional staffer brought it up.

ZUCKERBERG: In this case -- maybe in this case, we made a mistake and missed something. But we have --

BLACKBURN: I think a lot of mistakes.

ZUCKERBERG: We have leading teams --

BLACKBURN: Let's move on.


BLACKBURN: I want to talk with you about your Instagram Creators Program and about the push -- we found out through these documents that you actually are pushing forward because you want to bring kids in early.

You see these younger tweenagers as valuable but an untapped audience. Quoting from the emails.


And suggesting teams are actually household influencers to bring their younger siblings into your platform, into Instagram.

Now, how can you ensure that Instagram creators, your product, your program does not facilitate illegal activities when you fail to remove content pertaining to the sale of minors.

And it is happening once every two minutes in this country. ZUCKERBERG: Senator, our tools for identifying that kind of content

are industry-leading. That does not mean we are perfect. There are definitely issues that we have. But we've --


BLACKBURN: Mr. Zuckerberg, yes, there are a lot that are slipping through. It appears that you are trying to be the premier sex trafficking site --

ZUCKERBERG: Of course not, Senator.

BLACKBURN: -- in this country.

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, it is ridiculous. Senator --


BLACKBURN: No, it is not ridiculous. You want to turn around and tell the people that --

ZUCKERBERG: We don't want -- we don't want this content on our platforms.


BLACKBURN: Why don't you take it down?

ZUCKERBERG: We do take it down.

BLACKBURN: We are here discussing we need you --


ZUCKERBERG: We do. We're do more work to take it down.

BLACKBURN: No, you are not. You are not.

And the problem is, we have been working on this Senator Welch is over there. We've been working on this stuff for a decade.

You have an army of lawyers and lobbyists that have fought us on this every step of the way.

You work with Net Choice, the Cato Institute, Taxpayers' Protection Alliance and Chamber of Progress to actually fight our bipartisan legislation to keep kids safe online.

So are you going to stop funding these groups? Are you going to stop lobbying against this and come to the table and work with us? Yes or no?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, we have a --


BLACKBURN: Yes or no?

ZUCKERBERG: Of course, we will work with you on the legislature.


BLACKBURN: OK, the door is open. We've got all these bills. You need to come to the table. Each and every one of you need to come to the table and you need to work with us. Kids are dying.



KEILAR: All right, that is just a sample of what we have seen. Clearly, Senators are very fed up with these tech CEOs who have been quite resistant to regulation as Congress has been grappling with a way to deal.

And they also have been somewhat ineffective as they've tried figure out how to deal with this issue of online safety of children. And we are seeing this play out right on Capitol Hill.

It is ongoing. We are going to continue to keep an eye on this. You have the CEOs, not just of Meta there with Mark Zuckerberg, but also TikTok, Snap, Discord, and X, former Twitter.

We will be right back with more.



KEILAR: DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas potentially has a date with history. Next month, he could become the first cabinet official to be impeached in almost 150 years.

Early this morning, the Homeland Security Committee announced articles of impeachment against Mayorkas.

And even with that effort to impeach and a crisis at the border, Democrats are seemingly ready to do the unthinkable in an election year, which is play offense on border security.

We have CNN's Priscilla Alvarez with some new reporting on this.

How are Democrats planning to do this, Priscilla?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This is a bit of an unusual and interesting development for a party that has really kept border security at a distance or at least mentioned it and then pivoted to other issues when on the campaign trail.

But I have been speaking to a Democratic strategist that see a new opportunity that really opened in the last few days as Republicans move to tank the border compromise that was reached between Senate negotiators. As one put it, quote, "We had a tough deal and they chickened out,"

referring to Republicans.

And that is really the difference. The framing for Democrats has always been, we pursued immigration reform in Congress but Republicans did not want to move forward with it.

Now it's a step further. They are pursuing reform and it is tough reform. Notably, this does not even include legalization for undocumented immigrants, which Democrats previously pushed on.

So this is an opportunity they are using to say, well, we are willing to take a tougher stance but it's Republicans who don't want that.

And President Biden over the weekend in remarks to South Carolina Democrats mentioned border security, linking it to this deal, and saying that he would shut down the border if given the authority.

Now the campaign said they will focus on former President Donald Trump, his record and what he pledged to do on immigration. And they say Americans want a balanced approach on this issue.

But ultimately, the last few days they have started to give a preview of how Democrats might really start to use this deal in their favor.

KEILAR: They certainly have.

All right, Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for that report.

We are keeping an eye on Capitol Hill, a hearing of these top tech CEOs. This has grown heated at several points over the course of the day. Questions about whether their platforms are safe for children in America, about what they are doing and not doing.


We are going to have much more of this ahead here on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


SANCHEZ: We have new developments in a disturbing story outside of Philadelphia. A man is in custody, accused of severing his father's head and posting an extremely graphic video about it on YouTube.

The video was removed hours later, but not before racking up thousands of views. An ironic development as lawmakers grill tech executives about potential harms posed by their platforms.

Let's go to Pennsylvania now with CNN's Danny Freeman who has been tracking all of this.

Danny, what happened here?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, what happened here was absolutely horrific and absolutely gruesome. And we are learning a lot of new details over the course of the day about exactly what led to this heinous crime.


This all started out around 7:00 p.m. last night. That is when Middletown Township police, the department we are right in front of, they got a call from a woman saying there was a dead man in her house. That man was her husband. The suspect in the case for killing him was her and his son.

When officers arrived at the house, I will just say what they found was truly disturbing. They found the dead man, the father in the downstairs bathroom. He had been decapitated.

Officers also found a machete in the house. They also found a large kitchen knife. And again, forgive the details, but they also found this man's head. This man, the father, Michael Mohn.

According to the criminal complaint, at that point, police officers tried to track down Mohn because they did not find him at the house. That's when they were alerted to the video posted to YouTube in which Justin Mohn ranted about the Biden administration, the border.

Even declaring himself the acting president because of martial law at one point. And saying that his father was a traitor to his country because his father was a federal employee.

And, Boris, at one point, he actually held up his father's severed head in that video.

The good news on this story is that not very long after police were able to track down Justin Mohn -- he was about 100 miles west of the crime scene.

But we learned in the past few hours, Boris, that he, at that point around 9:00, so two hours after police were called to the house, broke into a National Guard base.

And that is where police were ultimately able to apprehend him. He was armed. They were able to take him into custody without incident.

A hard and challenging story for this community in Bucks County -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Ah, disturbing, too.

Danny Freeman, thanks so much for the update.

So just minutes from now, the Federal Reserve is going to make a decision on interest rates. Will they hold steady, could we see a rate cut? We will bring you the decision and what it means for you in just moments.