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Calls to Regulate Facebook Grow; Search For Brian Laundrie; Texas School Shooting; Insurrection Investigation; Debt Ceiling Battle. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired October 06, 2021 - 15:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And there's also some new information that might concern substance abusers.

According to a new study from researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it finds that people who are substance -- who have substance abuse disorders -- that could include cannabis, tobacco and alcohol -- who are fully vaccinated could be at a higher risk for breakthrough infections or serious disease from breakthrough infections than people without -- back to you.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right. Amara Walker for us there, thank you.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLACKWELL: It is a brand-new hour. Thanks for being with us. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I'm Alisyn Camerota.

We are following fast-moving developments in the debt ceiling showdown. Any moment now, the Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would suspend the debt ceiling. Republicans have vowed to block this measure, saying the Democrats have to figure out how to pay the country's debt on their own, though much of the debt was racked up by President Trump.

BLACKWELL: But we now know that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will discuss two proposals with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for a possible short-term suspension.

He's concerned that moderate Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema might gut the filibuster if there's no deal on the debt ceiling.

Joining us now, CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju and White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond.

Manu, first, the potential for this deal, walk us through it.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we will see what happens. In fact, there's a bit of uncertainty at the moment about whether this

vote that is expected to take place in a matter of minutes actually will take place in the aftermath of Mitch McConnell making a proposal here to try to stave off a default just for a short term, for a couple of months, because Republican senators in the hallway are telling reporters that they expect this vote that is expected to take place in the 3:00 hour right now to be delayed.

They say that they're hearing that Democrats are going to meet and discuss what to do about these offers. And then they will decide whether to proceed with this vote. This vote would suspend the national debt limit. It would try to overcome a Republican-led filibuster that would require 60 votes to suspend the debt limit until the end of November.

Now I have checked in with Democratic leadership sources who are not yet saying whether or not it will be delayed, this vote. So a bit of drama, a bit of uncertainty. We will have to monitor what happens here in the matter of moments.

Now, this all came as a result of the shift from Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority -- the minority leader, making an offer to the majority leader, Chuck Schumer. What he's suggesting is to raise the national debt limit up until December by a couple -- a few hundred billion dollars.

They would all vote to do just that and -- or if not proposing a fast- track process to allow for the debt ceiling to be increased by Democratic votes alone. Now, Democrats have not seen this proposal. Mitch McConnell only made this case to his colleagues privately.

And now it's up to the Democrats also to agree to this. It will also be up to all 100 senators to agree for a quick vote. One senator can scuttle that whole agreement, so a lot of uncertainty still. We will see if this vote happens. It could be a bit of a shift, a bit of a change, potentially movement towards ending a default here.

So we will see what happens. And one other key element here, guys, Mitch McConnell is concerned that, if there's not a deal, Democrats will blow up the Senate filibuster rules. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, he believes, are under immense pressure to blow up those Senate rules, one reason why we're seeing a shift and the last-minute talks here with Democratic leaders.

CAMEROTA: Isn't that interesting, Jeremy? Because we don't often see Minority Leader McConnell blink after a bluff.

And he must be truly -- I mean, that's from a source, as Manu reports, from inside a closed-door meeting. But he must truly be concerned about the idea of the filibuster blowing up because he was dug in. He said he wasn't going to help Democrats at all. So, today, now, at this hour, there's this shift.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, no doubt about it. But make no mistake. This is not Mitch McConnell fully caving. In fact, I think it's also an attempt to try and take a little bit of

the wind out of the sails of one of the key arguments that President Biden has been making about why he doesn't want the Senate Democrats to do this through reconciliation.

I asked him, I asked the president about that yesterday. And one of the things he kept coming back to is the fact that the reconciliation process is fraught with uncertainty. He said it's an incredibly complicated and cumbersome process, time-consuming, this idea of potentially unlimited votes on unrelated amendments that would happen during one of those budget-a-rama sessions.

Mitch McConnell, in saying, look, we will do a short-term debt ceiling extension until December to give you the time to go through that potentially cumbersome process, and we will also allow that process to be expedited by perhaps limiting the number of votes, that cuts at one of the core arguments that we have been hearing from President Biden.

But, nonetheless, one of the key things that we heard from the president today as he was sitting down with these business and financial leaders was underscoring the fact that even now, even right now, with this uncertainty hanging over the United States over this debt ceiling extension, there are already effects happening in the markets.


The CEO of J.P. Morgan, Jamie Dimon, said that, on Monday, his company is going to begin looking at ways that they need to adjust their business if this debt ceiling extension does not happen.

So I think that's something that the White House will certainly come back to is that a short-term extension, while perhaps giving more time to actually get this done, ultimately is only going to allow for further uncertainty to continue to exist.

But we will hear from the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, in about 25 minutes, and we will see what she says.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's go back to Manu.

What about this vote?

RAJU: Yes, this vote, we're hearing, actually is going to be delayed.

This is according to Senator Patty Murray. She's the number three in the Democratic leadership. She just told our colleague Ted Barrett that they are, in fact, going to review this McConnell proposal, see what they think, maybe make a counterproposal, maybe go back and force his vote that is going to fail because they need 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster to suspend the debt limit for two years.

And I'm also told that Democrats are planning to have a closed-door meeting now, essentially, to figure out whether or not they will agree to this, so still uncertain. Movement to a deal? We will see. But at the moment, this vote, standoff vote, not going to happen. We will see ultimately what the result is here.

CAMEROTA: OK. Things are literally changing by the minute and you bring us the latest as soon as you have it. We really appreciate you, Manu Raju and Jeremy Diamond. Thank you.

OK, now did this. The House committee investigating the January 6 capital riots has a missing person on its hands. They cannot seem to find Donald Trump's former White House deputy chief of staff, Dan Scavino. More than a week after issuing a subpoena with Scavino's name on it, they cannot find him to actually serve the subpoena.

BLACKWELL: Now, Trump associates Mark Meadows, Steve Bannon and Kash Patel, they were also subpoenaed. They have until tomorrow to comply with the documents request, also a deposition deadline next week.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is with us now with the latest.

So what does this mean for the committee's investigation that they can't find one of the four?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, it just really complicates the process in what is already expected to be a complicated process.

The committee is already bracing for the fact that these four men will attempt to not comply with the subpoenas in general. So the fact that they can't even begin the legal process that would come out of a noncompliance to the subpoena orders delays that process if they can't get ahold of Scavino to formally serve him with this paperwork to begin this process.

And, as you mentioned, the deadline for the document requests portion of the subpoena is Thursday at midnight, meaning, Friday, if they have not responded, that's when the committee has to begin making some decisions about how they move forward. And then, of course, next week, all four men are supposed to be here in Washington to meet in a private deposition in front of the select committee.

And, of course, the committee does have a range of options in which they can enforce these subpoenas both civilly and criminally. And the chairman of the January 6 select committee has said that they will not rule out the possibility of holding these individuals in criminal contempt if they try to avoid complying with the subpoenas.

That's not an easy process, though. It would require a vote of the entire House of Representatives and then a referral to the Department of Justice to actually execute said criminal contempt referral. So there's a lot of work that needs to be done between now and then.

And then also don't forget they would like to have an actual conversation with these men. This is not just about attempting to publicly shame them for their role on what happened on January 6. They actually want to get as much information out of them as possible.

So when you get into a position here where you're in a legal battle, that makes that process all that much more difficult -- Victor and Alisyn.

BLACKWELL: Ryan Nobles on Capitol the for us, thank you so much.

All right, more now on the breaking news from Arlington, Texas. The suspected school shooter is in custody. The shooting happened this morning at Timberview High School.

CAMEROTA: Three students were taken to the hospital.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene and is following the latest for us.

So, Ed, tell us what's happening at the scene right now. We know that the shooter is in custody.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that happened just a short while ago; 18-year-old Timothy George Simpkins has turned himself in.

We are told by investigators here in Arlington that he came into the police station with an attorney. So that concern is now over. Police say that investigators are speaking with the attorney and the 18-year- old suspect in this case.

And now the scene here at the school has settled down dramatically. There was a fleet of yellow school buses that has now removed all 1, 700 students that were inside the school. They have been now taken to the reunification center at a performing arts building not too far from here, and that's where those students were being reunited with their family members.

All of that has already happened. Investigators say they continue the investigation and that the 18-year-old suspect in this case now faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.


And the good news, Alisyn and Victor, is that the victims, the shooting victims in this case appear to be all in good condition. There was one person who was in surgery and is already out, remains in critical condition.

But the other two victims, we are told, will be OK. In fact, all of the victims will be apparently OK. So that is one sliver of good news in what has been a dramatic morning here in Arlington, Texas.

BLACKWELL: Yes, good news, indeed.

One more element here from the police. They are warning parents, as we have been talking about social media all week, that parents should pay attention to their kids' social media.

Here's what he said:


KEVIN KOLBYE, ARLINGTON, TEXAS, ASSISTANT POLICE CHIEF: We have been having a lot of social media comments about threats to our schools from young kids. I want the message to be out there that this is not something to continue. We will investigate you.

The federal government will also -- our partners will be able to investigate you if you're not living in our city, and we will bring you to successful prosecution.


BLACKWELL: Yes, it sounds like it's going to be a significant part of their investigation, as they're now securing or adding security to other schools across the district.

LAVANDERA: And what the officer there, I'm told -- we were speaking with the public information officer after that press conference to kind of clarify exactly what the chief was talking about there -- is that, apparently, as this incident was unfolding, there were a number of social media threats coming into schools in the surrounding area.

And what these officers are saying is that, as the emergency was unfolding here on this high school campus, they then had to divert resources from the response here to deal with those calls and those potential threats coming in at other schools.

And it sounds like that might have reached a level that was rather alarming to the officers here at this scene. And that's why you heard the police chief here this afternoon come out and make those statements as they were dealing and trying to make sense in real time as they have a team of officers that monitor social media during events like this, and that that's what they were seeing.

So it wasn't necessarily threats coming into this particular campus. But it was threats going out to schools in areas -- in the surrounding area. And, obviously, that comes at a very difficult time, when resources are already stretched thin in an emergency situation like we saw here this morning.

BLACKWELL: Understood.

Ed Lavandera force there in Arlington, Texas, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Now to this update.

Brian Laundrie's parents are changing their story about when they last saw their son -- the new details ahead.



BLACKWELL: So a lawyer representing Brian Laundrie and his parents say that he actually went missing a day earlier than previously thought.

We now know that Laundrie left his Florida home to go hiking on September 13, not the 14th. Now, this was the last time his family says that they saw him.

CAMEROTA: CNN correspondent Jean Casarez is with us.

Jean has been following all this.

So, Jean, this is a difference in the timeline. What have you learned?


And what the attorney is telling us, the attorney for the parents and Brian, that they thought it was the 14th. But after consulting and talking with the FBI, they realized that, no, it must have been the 13th, which would be a Monday, and they reported Brian missing on that Friday.

So you have got quite a few days there, because he never came home. But here's another fact. It was Saturday the 11th that Gabby Petito was reported missing. So that's the first time that law enforcement got involved. It was public. Gabby was missing.

Two days later now, it's confirmed by the attorney, that's when they last saw Brian. And we do want to say they have been continuing the search at the Carlton Reserve. They have never said they have stopped. They have scaled back, but they are -- our correspondent out there, Leyla Santiago, is telling us they are out there today, and that the Sarasota Sheriff's Department has been asked to assist.

So we don't know. But it is interesting. And one thing we do know is, the family attorney has told CNN that he is aware, authorities alerted him, but he can't come anymore.

BLACKWELL: Of course, we know in this timeline every day is so crucial in the timeline of the disappearance of Petito and the search for Brian Laundrie.

But we are hearing from Gabby Petito's family, right?

CASAREZ: Because that -- you're so right, Victor, because the issue is, where is he? Will he be found? Will he be found alive?

Well, the Petito family, they appeared yesterday on Dr. Phil's show? And they have a very firm opinion about Brian Laundrie and where he is and will he be found. Take a listen.


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, HOST, "DR. PHIL": You believe he's hiding somewhere. You believe he's hiding somewhere. Do you believe he's hiding somewhere?


MCGRAW: Why do you believe that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's a coward, flat out. I would use some other words, but I can't use them on your show. He's a coward.

MCGRAW: He's too coward to kill himself, too coward to come forward, he's just on the run?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anyone that lived in that house is a coward. And they don't know how to stand up for their actions.

MCGRAW: Where do you think he is likely at? You know him. You know what he is, does, knows. Is he living off the land somewhere?



MCGRAW: Does he have that skill set?



CASAREZ: And Gabby Petito's mother said: I want answers. We need to have answers.

And, see, that's the thing. They don't have answers. They don't know anything. And they said yesterday on the show that they weren't hearing from Gabby, that they called constantly. They found every number they could find on the Laundries. They even texted the Laundries, to no avail. They got no response.

And there is no comment from the attorney for the Laundries when we posed that question to them. And, finally, they went to law enforcement, but they were concerned for Brian initially, along with Gabby, because they weren't hearing from either one.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it's interesting that he said, anyone who lived in that house is a coward, not just Brian, but also discussing the parents, Brian Laundrie's parents there.

All right, Jean Casarez, thanks so much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Well, the Department of Justice says 91,000 people are missing right now in the U.S.

A lot of these cases do not get the coverage they deserve. So we're going to bring a few to your attention right now.

CAMEROTA: So, this first one is a cold case that authorities believe some fresh eyes could really help restart.

This is Asha Degree. She was just 9 years old when she went missing near her Shelby, North Carolina, home. This was back in 2000. On the left-hand side of your screen, you can see a picture of Asha from that time, when she was abducted or went missing.

On the right is a progressed photo of what she might look like today. Take a close look at your screen. BLACKWELL: Now, here's a more recent case, Dawnita Wilkerson. She was

last seen getting into a silver car outside a motel in Evansville, Indiana, June of 2020.

Now, Dawnita has several tattoos. Get in close and take a look at these pictures. She's got a heart on her lower back and a cross on her upper right shoulder.

CAMEROTA: If you have any information concerning these cases, you can call the number at the bottom of your screen, which is 1-800-CALL-FBI. And they would appreciate any tips that you have.

OK, meanwhile, the pressure is mounting against Facebook after that damning whistle-blower testimony accused the founder, Mark Zuckerberg, of putting profits over public safety.

So, up next, we have a former data scientist who designed the algorithm for Facebook, and he says there are ways to fix this.



BLACKWELL: Bipartisan calls to regulate Facebook and its sister platforms are growing, after Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen testified that the company is prioritizing profits over public safety.

She told a Senate committee that legislation may be the only thing that could force the company to make changes.


FRANCES HAUGEN, FORMER FACEBOOK PRODUCT MANAGER: The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes, because they have put their astronomical profits before people. Congressional action is needed. They won't solve this crisis without your help.


CAMEROTA: Roddy Lindsay joins us now. He's a former data scientist at Facebook who designed the algorithms for the company. He also has just authored a new opinion piece in "The New York Times" titled "I Designed Algorithms at Facebook. Here's How to Regulate Them."

Roddy, thank you for being here. You're the perfect person to talk to.

When Facebook says that the algorithms are -- well, let me start with what the whistle-blower says. When the whistle-blower says that the algorithms are designed to enhance polarizing, controversial content, is that true?

RODDY LINDSAY, DESIGNED ALGORITHMS AT FACEBOOK: Well, I think what we have learned over the last couple years, and not just on Facebook, but social media in general, is that when you have an algorithm that optimizes for engagement, for content that's getting clicks and shares and likes, that, naturally, the most sort of polarizing, inflammatory content will sort of bubble its way to the top.

And in the absence of regulation, it's very difficult for these companies to make the changes they need to internally, because, if they do that, they will lose audience, they will lose time spent on their platforms. So it really needs to be a comprehensive regulation, which is what I proposed in my piece today in "The Times."

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about that.

What is the most impactful regulation, the most impactful change that you're suggesting?

LINDSAY: So what my proposal calls for -- and, by the way, it's not just me.

Frances Haugen yesterday also-called for the same, essentially the same regulation, is a very narrow exemption in Section 230, which is the law that basically makes it so these companies can host user- generated content without fear of lawsuits.

So if there is a very narrow exemption in that, basically saying that, if you're a social media platform, and you use an algorithm to amplify this content, you should be held liable for that content.

And what that would do is, that would make it so these platforms would move away from these algorithm-based feeds and move towards feeds and systems that users have more control over.

So, we want to take the power away from the A.I. systems and bring them back to the users.

CAMEROTA: Look, I don't even know if Facebook wants to change anything that is making them so much money.

They claim that there's nothing wrong with their algorithm. I mean, just yesterday, we had on Monika Bickert. She's the vice president of content policy at Facebook.

And here's -- let me just show you what she said about whether or not the algorithm is creating inflammatory product.