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Former Consultant For Dem Presidential Candidate Phillips Admits Role In Fake Biden AI Robocall; Supreme Court Hears Landmark Social Media Cases; 100+ New Species Discovered In Deep-Sea Exploration; American Couple Missing After Alleged Yacht Hijacking In Grenada. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: We now know the source of that fake Biden robocall that told New Hampshire voters not to go to the polls just three days before that state's critical primary.

Steve Kramer, a former political consultant to Democratic presidential candidate, Dean Phillips, now admitting to sending that call out to thousands of voters.

Take a listen to just how realistic it sounded.


A.I. ROBOCALL: It's important that you save your vote for the November election. Voting this Tuesday only enables the Republicans in their quest to reelect Donald Trump again.


KEILAR: Now the revelations surrounding this call get even stranger. A New Orleans street magician, correct, a street magician told CNN in an interview that he was hired by Kramer to create the fake A.I.- generated audio for that robocall.

Dean Phillips' campaign telling CNN Kramer had previously done contract work on ballot access efforts, but said Philips and the campaign had no knowledge of Kramer's involvement in the robocall.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up two controversial cases that could drastically change the way people use the Internet and what they see on social media platforms.

Florida and Texas want to keep sites like Facebook, TikTok and YouTube from removing users' posts, potentially even ones that promote hate speech or election misinformation, but that push is running up against the First Amendment.

The tech companies say it is their right to set their own platform rules.

CNN senior Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic, is here to explain what's at stake.

Joan, what legal grounds are Florida and Texas using to make this case?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Boris. Great to be with you. And I just came from four hours of arguments at the Supreme Court.

I can tell you what happened. This case has the potential to really transform the Internet and what people can see on it, potential, I'll underscore there.

Because there doesn't seem to be a majority that's interested in what the states are arguing here.

And the states, Florida and Texas, are trying to deflect this challenge by saying there shouldn't be a First Amendment question here because we're not trying to regulate expressive activity here or any kind of message of these platforms.

What we're trying to do is restrict conduct as if we would a common carrier, like a telegraph, telephone entity, rather than something that could be likened more to a publisher or a newspaper.

And the justices seemed to really push back on that on two accounts. First, both of these cases are up there on what we call preliminary injunctions. These laws have been blocked in the early stage.

And there was never a really detailed record, especially in the Florida case, to say, how broadly with this sweep? Would it involve just the big social media companies like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, those kinds of things, Twitter/X?

Or could it go to all sorts of other commercial activities online, for example, like Uber or Etsy. Lots of questions from the justices.

And the bottom line seemed to be that this is not going to be the case that has any kind of really potential sweeping ruling that will change the Internet.

SANCHEZ: Part of what the court has to decide ultimately as whether content moderation patient itself is constitutional.

BISKUPIC: In this case, it's -- the court has, in many cases, already allowed that kind of discretion by someone who runs a site.

I mean, we have had cases just last year, the three -- or three creative one, where it talked about the kind of content that would go up on a site --


BISKUPIC: a wedding Web site, where -- exactly. Where the woman running it said that she wanted to be in control of whether she handled any kind of message that related to same-sex marriage.

So there has been there have been cases in which a either parade organizers, they switch back to a parade organizer that essentially accepted all comers but didn't want a parade entity that would conflict with their message, that that has been allowed.

And that's what the companies are saying here, is that there is precedent out there. If you're going to -- if this is not -- this is a site that -- these are sites that already have messages and the companies running them already have a certain degree of editorial discretion.

And they should be allowed that discretion, because of the states come in essentially claiming that they're trying to avoid censorship of conservative ideas, there are essentially -- the states are essentially engaging of censorship of these social media sites.

SANCHEZ: It is a fascinating case and a decision that could have major implications.

Joan Biskupic, thanks so much.

BISKUPIC: Thank you.


SANCHEZ: Still plenty more news to come this afternoon, including an underwater robot going deep into the sea. You will not believe what it discovered. That's next.



SANCHEZ: We just want to take a moment to acknowledge the squid --


SANCHEZ: -- in the room, yes.


SANCHEZ: That's the reason it's surrounded by smoke. Yes, he smokes.

KEILAR: I think -- I think it's ink --


KEILAR: -- that's catching light strangely.

SANCHEZ: That's a good point.

KEILAR: It does look like he's a smoker, but nonetheless, he's not.



SANCHEZ: So with the help of a deep-sea robot, scientists may have just discovered more than 100 new species, including our friend back here.

KEILAR: That's right. And the images of these never-before-seen creatures are really stunning. Just check these out.

The Schmidt Ocean Institute says the new species were recently discovered living on underwater mountains off the coast of Chile. Glass sponges, sea urchins, squat lobsters among the species that are likely new to science here.

And joining us now to talk more about this is Dr. Joseph Dituri. He is a diving explorer and a medical researcher as well.

Great to have you.

These pictures are pretty stunning here. More than 100.


KEILAR: Yes, it's great to have.

A hundred new species. How significant is that?

DITURI: Its groundbreaking. So we're going to do is, as we explore our boundaries and our ability to examine and explore the ocean, we're going to find new species.

It's -- it's basically the ocean is so rich with life that if we find all these creatures, we may just very well find cures for things.

SANCHEZ: Doctor, the researchers use this deep-sea robot. Talk to us about that technology, how far it can go under the sea?


DITURI: So the deep-sea robots have gone as far as Challenger deep. There's been one that's gone that deep, which is in excess of 35,000 feet.

But realistically, it's very complex and there's a tremendous amount of pressure down there. So it winds up being a very hard problem to solve.

But as we go forward on the engineering portion of it, we're getting to see things like this. Pretend, if you look where you've never looked before, you're going to find what you'd never found.

And this is an incredible find. I mean, like when I say cures, there are anticancer causing properties and Caribbean Sea squirts. There are antimicrobial things that are in a -- that are in some fish.

It's a real terrific day to be -- to be alive. We could find 100 new species. That's terrific.

KEILAR: So those are pretty amazing potentials for cures. How much exploration is required to get to some kind of breakthrough like that?

DITURI: Yes. So we're at 4.5 billion years of genomic wisdom. That means we've been around that long, right? We believe there's about 20 million things on this planet species, if you will. We've only found about five million of them, which is really a bit daunting.

But as -- as we improve, we're going to continue to find more and more and more and more. As our technology improves, we're going to be able to get deeper, get to the greater pressure depths, where we're going to find these new and interesting creatures.

Which, like I said, we could possibly find -- when James Cameron went to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, he found a sea lice. That sea lice, when we pulled a DNA sample of it, it's a push-up cure for Alzheimer's. How cool was that?

KEILAR: Amazing.

SANCHEZ: That is incredible.

I guess the question for me is how delicate these ecosystems are. Because obviously these discoveries are amazing.

But the context of it is that we're watching an ocean that is very rapidly warming and changing in a way that doesn't quite support the kind of life and diversity of life that we cherish.

DITURI: Right. We -- and we are. We are on the precipice of the sixth great extinction. And unfortunately, let's just say that the cure for cancer is out there somewhere and we're looking and were polluting our oceans.

We have the delicate ecosystem that it contains 70 percent of our planet is water, we really have to take care of the ocean. Otherwise, were going to have these -- these unstable problems and you're going to come up with killing these ecosystems or at least damaging them.

So you're absolutely right, they are fragile. And it just reminds us every day, we better take care of this ocean.

KEILAR: This one was found on this underwater mountain that they didn't know was there. Talk to us about why that is a particularly significant ecosystem for these kinds of creatures.

DITURI: Right. So the interesting part, depending on the exact depth, what we suppose at this point is that the water level dropped pretty significantly during the ice ages.

When it did, entire ecosystems shifted down. So that's why there's differences between these two sea mounds, right, 2, 4, 6, 12 sea mounds in a row. And there's completely different ecosystems.

Why? Because they developed in this line of -- well, the water level was low so they couldn't get between one another. So they just developed on their own little side.

So it's really kind of a neat infrastructure where they have these little kingdoms or fiefdoms, if you will, of creatures that are just in a stack.

Like I said, trust me, the naming and the taxonomy of creatures is a long process. So we are far from saying, yes, every single one of these is a brand-new species to science, but we're getting close.

KEILAR: Dr. Dituri, great to have you. Thank you for kind of blowing our minds with all of this. It's really fascinating stuff. Thanks for your time.

SANCHEZ: Thanks a lot.

DITURI: Thank you. Bye-bye, guys.



All right. We'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: This story is like the plot of a movie. The Grenada police are lowering expectations that an American couple missing after their yacht was allegedly hijacked will be found alive.

Kathy Brandel and Ralph Kendry were living out their long-held dream of sailing the Caribbean when three escaped prisoners are believed to have overtaken their boat.

Brendel's son tells CNN the boat was found abandoned and ransacked and that there were clear signs of a struggle.

CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, joins us now.

Polo, what more are police saying about what happened?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, just today we heard from the Royal Grenada Police Force offering an update and their latest theory really of what they believe happened.

And they now think that dismissing Virginia couple, Kathy Brandel and Ralph Kendry, according to investigators, was likely thrown overboard last week after their catamaran, the "Simplicity," was, according to investigators, commandeered by a trio of runaway fugitives.

Individuals who had escaped police custody from Grenada. And according to police and they commandeered a week ago, the couples boat.


Just to give you a sense of the geography here, at least where investigators say that this all played out, police believed that it was last Monday that they commandeered this vessel and then set sail for St. Vincent, which is about 80 miles away.

And it was during that journey that investigators believe that the couple was thrown overboard.

Now important to point out, today, investigators said they cannot conclusively say the status of this couple. They don't know if they're alive or dead at this point.

However, they remain extremely hopeful, despite the low probability that this may have a positive outcome, Boris. Butt I have to tell you, after speaking to family members of this couple, that hope is certainly fading by the day.

One of the sons of this couple telling me over the weekend that when the ship -- when their boat was found last Wednesday, along with those three suspects that were then recaptured, they found signs of a struggle on board, including blood.

And the cabin had been ransacked. So they do fear that their parents were not only injured but potentially killed.

But they said until they have a definitive answer, they will continue searching for their mother and father that went missing.

SANCHEZ: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much for that sad update.

Still ahead, lawmakers have just five days to pass a deal before a partial government shutdown. This is coming as President Biden and Donald Trump both are planning competing visits to the U.S./Mexico border. We're going to take you live to Capitol Hill for an update when we come back.