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Biden Refuses Executive Privilege for Trump Records; Weak U.S. Jobs Report; U.S. COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations Down but Not Gone; China Committed to Reunification with Taiwan; Texas Abortion Ban is Back; The Big Trump Lie; Dozens Dead after Suicide Blast at Shia Mosque. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired October 09, 2021 - 04:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A warm welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead, President Biden making a move that could expose Donald Trump's actions during the January 6 insurrection.

After the latest U.S. jobs report, Biden says the U.S. risks losing its edge.

And Xi Jinping vowing to reunify Taiwan with Mainland China.


NEWTON: We begin in Washington with a showdown over executive privilege. Donald Trump is pushing back after U.S. President Joe Biden denied his request to shield documents from a House committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

The former president has written his own letter to the National Archives in an attempt to keep more than 40 documents under wraps. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on what this means for the whole investigation.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Biden administration is clearing the way for the January 6th Select Committee to get details about what was happening inside the White House before and during the insurrection.

The White House counsel telling the National Archives that President Biden will not assert executive privilege over some records from the Trump White House since the documents shed light on events within the White House on and about January 6th and bear on the Select Committee's need to understand the facts underlying the most serious attack on the operations of the federal government since the Civil War. JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is just the first set of documents. And we will evaluate questions of privilege on a case-by- case basis.

But the president has also been clear that he believes it to be of the utmost importance for both Congress and the American people to have a complete understanding of the events of that day to prevent them from happening again.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The committee made 12 pages of demands to the archives in August. And while it's unclear exactly which documents have been cleared by the Biden White House to give to the committee, the wide-ranging request included call logs and schedules from Trump's family members on January 6th, including Melania Trump, his three oldest children and son-in-law Jared Kushner, also visitor logs from the White House on January 6th and even documents pertaining to the mental stability of the former president.

Trump promptly sent a letter to the archives, trying to assert executive privilege. He signed his own letter rather than using attorneys and ended it with, "Should the committee persist in seeking other privileged information, I will take all necessary and appropriate steps to defend the office of the presidency."

STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It's the Democrat Party's fear of the return of Trump. That's all these committees are.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Meanwhile, former Trump official Steve Bannon is telling January 6th Select Committee he will not comply with the congressional subpoena. His attorney saying in a letter, "The former president plans to invoke executive privilege and we must accept his direction."

Bannon's legal team also saying it could be up to the courts to decide whether Bannon will be forced to cooperate, essentially daring the committee to sue or hold Bannon in criminal contempt.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This letter that we saw from Steve Bannon is a delay tactic, it's a political strategy but, legally, it holds no water.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Many legal experts say Bannon would not be covered by executive privilege because he left the White House in 2017 and was not working for the federal government on January 6th.

One day after that deadline to turn over documents, the committee revealing in a statement that two other subpoena targets, former chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Trump administration official Kash Patel, are engaging with the committee, even though Trump told them not to comply.

SCHNEIDER: The committee is firing back at Bannon, accusing him of hiding behind vague references to privileges from the former president. In a statement, lawmakers are saying they will act swiftly against anyone who refuses to comply with the lawful subpoena, including keeping open the possibility of holding Bannon and others in criminal contempt -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON: President Biden found himself on the defensive after a dismal jobs report. Only 194,000 jobs were added in September, much lower than experts expected. It's the second straight months of discouraging job news. CNN's Clare Sebastian has the details.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This jobs report reveals that while the U.S. labor market continues to recover, that recovery is nowhere near as fast as many had expected.

Take a look at what happened over the past few months. You can see that over the summer in June and July, the job numbers started to come up quite significantly. And then in August and September, they have slipped back, as the Delta variant concerns really started to take hold in the economy.


SEBASTIAN: We see that reflected as well in the numbers we got for leisure and hospitality for September. That sector added just 74,000 jobs, well below the monthly average of this year, of almost 200,000 jobs.

Women also lost 26,000 jobs in this report, a sign that COVID-19 continues to complicate childcare arrangements, especially with the Delta variant.

Now it wasn't all bad. The numbers were revised up for July and August. And wages also showed a notable increase. That's a sign that employers are competing to hire people in this tight labor market.

As for President Biden, for whom this was actually the worst jobs report of his presidency, he took the opportunity to use it to make the case for his spending bills.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The jobs numbers also remind us that we have important work ahead of us and important investments we need to make. America is still the largest economy in the world.

We still have the most productive workers and the most innovative minds in the world. But we risk losing our edge as a nation if we don't move.


SEBASTIAN: Speaking of moving, the big question from this report is will the Fed move ahead and start tapering or scaling back on those pandemic era bond purchases in early November?

Most analysts agree this jobs report was just about strong enough to keep that plan on track -- Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: Many health experts now feel the U.S. could possibly be rounding a corner in the coronavirus pandemic. The seven-day average of new COVID cases has now fallen below 100,000 for the first time in two months. Hospitalizations and deaths are also down.

The U.S. is also seeing an unprecedented demand for COVID-19 booster shots. Over 7 million people have gotten that extra jab of vaccine in the U.S. so far. That is actually outpacing the number of people getting their first and second shots.

Even as the numbers appear to be turning around, pockets of the country are still struggling, especially in trying to get young people vaccinated.


DR. PETER HOTEZ, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: Only 33 percent of the 12- to 17-year-olds were given the COVID-19 vaccine, here in the South in most of the Southern states, compared to 80 percent in the Northeast.

So once again, you have this geographic divide where parents are holding back on vaccinating their adolescents. And, I have to believe, they will probably hold back on vaccinating their younger, kids as well.

So we may be looking at very low uptake, of this pediatric vaccine in the South and also in the Mountain West. And that will be a problem that will slow us down.



NEWTON: Dr. Neha Nanda is the medical director of Infection Prevention and Antimicrobial Stewardship at Keck Medicine at USC. She joins me now from Los Angeles.

So good to have you with us, Doctor. Let's talk about what is going to finally hopefully be the end game of this pandemic. We have been waiting so long for children to be approved for the vaccine. It could be imminent now in many countries.

How much of a game changer do you think this will be?

DR. NEHA NANDA, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA MEDICAL SCHOOL: Thank you, Paula, for inviting me. I think that your questions are so relevant. All parents are yearning to know when their kids can get vaccinated.

So we can celebrate Halloween and we can actually have fun this Thanksgiving. Having said that, I think if you look at the U.S. population, about 22 million children are qualified being less than 18. So if we are able to vaccinate that group, I think it will definitely help in increasing the number of people who are vaccinated.

And remember with the Delta variant we need to have at least 85-90 percent people immune so that we are able to contain the community transmission in a given community.

So I think it will definitely have a huge impact. Also, remember, now, we started learning about that what we initially, thought, that children are not the primary drivers of infection, as in they don't create a role in transmission, they do.

In fact, as recently a study came out where they compared adults and children and it seems like they are important transmitters, similar to adults. So I think it would definitely be a game-changer if all parents are as enthusiastic as myself and my peers.

NEWTON: Do you feel as if we are, now, moving into a different phase of this pandemic?


NEWTON: At a point where we will begin to live with it, to use the term?

And that it becomes endemic but is definitely, controlled especially when it comes to severe disease and death?

NANDA: Yes. So really, I would like to think that we are moving in that direction, wherein we will not be seeing a lot of sick people in the hospital. And, the health system will be robust, as it relates to operations.

I think where we are today, because there is a drop in our country, in the United States, there is a drop in cases, hospitalization and death, I think that the reason why it is dropping, as everyone knows, is because we are doing quite well with vaccination.

Having said that, we haven't reached out to enough. I think about 56 percent of the U.S. population is vaccinated. That is not good enough. So I think right now, we are seeing this wave coming in two months. It seems like it and we really don't know why.

So we have completed two months of the Delta wave and, this is a time where, I think, there will be a lull.

Now there is a race between how many people can get vaccinated and what percentage of our population gets vaccinated globally versus how quickly will we see another variant that will outsmart our immunity that we have acquired through the vaccine?

So I want to think, yes, we are out of the worst. Having said that, you don't mess with bugs, they can outsmart quite quickly. They multiply way faster than we do. So you have to give them the credit. (CROSSTALK)

NEWTON: Unfortunately, that's been a tough lesson we've all had to learn, over the last nearly 2 years now. Doctor, I want to thank you for this information. Good stuff in there, appreciate it.

NANDA: Thank you Paula, very nice.


NEWTON: China is demanding answers from the United States about an incident involving a U.S. nuclear powered submarine in the South China Sea last week. Oren Liebermann has more on the rising tensions between the two countries.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: What's important about this story is not only the accident with a nuclear-powered submarine but also the context in which it happens.

On Saturday, the U.S.S. Connecticut, a Seawolf class nuclear powered submarine, was operating in the South China Sea, when it hit an underwater object. It's unclear at this time what that object is. There were a number of sailors injured, though none were life- threatening injuries.

The sub was able to make its way to Guam, where it will undergo repairs and an investigation as to what happens and what went wrong. The key is where this happened.

The U.S. specifically simply said it happened in international waters of the Indo-Pacific region. But we've learned from Defense officials that it happened in the South China Sea.

The U.S. says that's international waters, mostly under international law. But China claims most of the South China Sea as its sovereign territorial waters. And that's where the friction comes in, in this disputed piece of water.

And it's not just that there was a submarine there. There's also the U.S., the U.K. and other nations, doing what is essentially a multinational show of force against China, led by the U.K.'s Carrier Strike Group 21. They were just operating around the South China Sea as well.

It's a show of force against China, as we see more aggressive actions from the Chinese against Taiwan. We saw, not only on the day of the accident, when the Chinese flew more than 30 military aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone, but also a couple of days later, when they flew more than 50 aircraft into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone.

In fact, earlier this week, the Taiwanese defense minister said that China could try to make a move on taking over Taiwan by 2025, even though they would have to pay a price to do so. And that's also part of the friction around Beijing-Washington

relations. National security adviser Jake Sullivan just met with a high ranking Chinese official, trying to set up a virtual meeting between President Joe Biden and President Xi Jinping.

Even if that was successful, to ensure stability, there is still this underlying tension around Taiwan and the South China Sea -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


NEWTON: You heard Oren say Beijing sent those warplanes close to Taiwan. Taipei on Saturday called on Beijing to stop intrusion and harassment. That's after the Chinese president gave a speech calling for peaceful reunification. Xi Jinping views it as inevitable that Taiwan will come under Beijing's control.


NEWTON: He has this warning, quote, "Secession aimed at Taiwan independence is the greatest obstacle to national reunification and a grave danger to national rejuvenation.

Those who forget their heritage, betray their homeland and seek to split the country will come to no good and they will be disdained by the people and condemned by history."

He made those remarks at the 110th anniversary of the Chinese revolution, celebrated as the birth of modern China.

Ivan Watson joins me now from Hong Kong with more on this speech.

I'm wondering about your takeaway from this speech. We've just outlined the parameters and tensions right now.

Was it more about the tone or was there actually something new in what he was saying?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it was more the timing, that it is coming after the display of Chinese air force might, flying into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone over the past week.

Otherwise, a lot of the rhetoric reflects Beijing's position, that Taiwan is a breakaway region. It is part of China.

He reiterated the position that Taiwan will one day come back under Beijing's rule, even though the Communist Party has never once had a day of control of Taiwan.

He insisted that this was the will of the Chinese people. He also urged people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to accept this and to move forward this way.

It is just a Chinese position and one that does not necessarily take into account the opinions of some 23 million people living on the self-governed island of Taiwan.

NEWTON: We were talking about the speech that was laced with the usual rhetoric, but it did include a warning for foreign countries.

How is Taiwan now responding?

WATSON: Beijing insists that Taiwan is its internal affairs. So it strongly rejects any criticism coming from outside. The U.S., which maintains this kind of strategic ambiguity toward Taiwan, where it doesn't recognition Taiwan as an independent state or challenge the assertion by China. But it also continues to argue that it is committed to Taiwan's capability of self-defense.

Beijing also uses this position to block the United Nations system from recognizing Taiwan as an independent state and uses its power against much smaller countries, like the tiny Baltic state of Lithuania.

Lithuania said it would welcome a Taiwanese representative office in its capital. Beijing objected to that, it objects to any recognition of potential sovereignty for Taiwan.

As for the Taiwanese government, the president issuing a statement, saying Taiwan rejects the formula of "one country, two systems" that Xi Jinping proposed for bringing back Taiwan.

The formula was used in Hong Kong, but many would argue it was ripped to shreds over the last year, when Beijing effectively banned opposition politics to take place here and peaceful protests and used these laws to help close a popular newspaper here.

And you have a statement from Taiwan that says, in fact, the future of the island lies in the hands of its 23 million inhabitants and also urging Beijing to stop its policy of, quote, "intrusion, harassment and destruction and to instead focus on peace, parity, democracy and dialogue."

So, the disagreement continues.

NEWTON: And with the Winter Olympics on the scene, this will continue. Ivan Watson, thank you for that update, from Hong Kong.

Donald Trump won the state of Texas by more than 600,000 votes, a lot

So why is Texas about to audit the 2020 election?

Its role in the Big Lie. That's coming up.

Plus, a new ruling puts the state's six-week abortion ban back in place.


NEWTON: But the legal battle could be heading to the U.S. Supreme Court.




NEWTON: In the state of Texas, a six-week abortion ban is back. A federal appeals court put a temporary hold on a judge's order to block that ban. That could end up before the Supreme Court.

Last month, the Supreme Court rejected the request to block that Texas law. It could still be challenged. The law itself prevents most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the governor of Texas is pushing the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election. Republican Greg Abbott is pushing ahead with an audit, even though Donald Trump won the state by more than 600,000 votes. Ed Lavandera explains why.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump might have won the state of Texas by more than five points in the 2020 election, but he won the state by nine points four years earlier. So now, the former president is focused on pushing the lie that the vote in Texas was marred by fraud.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say I'm being aggressive but you have to be aggressive to weed out this horrible election corruption.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): In September, Trump sent Texas Governor Greg Abbott a letter calling for the state to conduct a full forensic audit of the election with zero evidence.

Trump writes, "Texans know voter fraud occurred."

It didn't take long for Abbott to feel the pressure. On the same day, the Republican governor announced an audit in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin Counties.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Isn't it just a terrible waste of taxpayer money to have an audit in a state that everybody says went fine and that President Trump won by 600,000 votes and aren't you contributing to this undermining confidence in our election process?

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Why don't we audit everything in this world, but people raise their hands in concern when we audit elections, which is fundamental to our democracy?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Earlier this year, the state's election administrator told a legislative committee there were no problems with the election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Despite of all the circumstances, Texas had an election that was smooth and secure.

CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: President Trump said jump, the governor said how high?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a Democrat, says the audit is about undermining democracy and to justify stricter elections laws that will make it harder for people to vote.

JENKINS: This is just jumping around to play into that narrative to please President Trump and to set the table for what this is really about, which is passing laws to make it harder for people to vote.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Governor Abbott has denied CNN's request for an interview but has said he picked two democratic counties and two republican counties for the audit. While Dallas and Harris counties vote democratic, Republicans have been losing ground in Tarrant and Collin counties.

In 2020, Trump lost Tarrant County by half a percentage point after winning it by eight percentage points in 2016. And in suburban Collin County, Trump's lead plummeted from 17 points in 2016 to four points in 2020.

GARY FICKES, TARRANT COUNTY COMMISSIONER: This could be a good thing for them or it could blow up in their face.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gary Fickes is a longtime county commissioner in Tarrant County and a Republican. He says he has no reason to believe there are any issues with the vote count.

LAVANDERA: I guess all of this kind of begs the question, why is the governor and some Texas Republicans willing to kind of like bend over backwards to appease the former president who has been pushing this idea of a big lie?

Do you think this all kind of feeds into this?

FICKES: I think it is all about politics. But I will be very surprised if we have a problem in Texas, especially in Tarrant County.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): You might wonder how Trump reacted when he heard about the audit for just four out of the state's 254 counties. Well, he wasn't happy. He called the move "weak" and the audit won't be finished until next spring -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


NEWTON: Still to come, the U.S. and Mexico coming together to protect against cross border crime. We'll take a look at the new security deal they're trying to create.



[04:30:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

NEWTON: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

At least 46 people are dead after a third explosion in Afghanistan this week alone. The blast tore through a Shia mosque in Kunduz. ISIS- K later claimed responsibility, saying a suicide bomber blew himself up. Clarissa Ward looks at what this growing violence means for the Taliban as they try to rule the country.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Taliban's whole appeal to people here is the promise that they can provide security. After decades of war, they have, essentially, put themselves on a platform to say, we are the ones who can bring about an end to the fighting.

So when you have these sorts of terror attacks, the likes of which we've seen, over just the past few days, hitting soft targets, mosques, innocent people, the bombing today in Kunduz attacking a Shiite mosque, that is exactly the sort of ugly, sectarian violence that Afghans have become all too accustomed too but are also deeply sick of.

And so can the Taliban get a grip on the situation?

Can they try to contain the threat, posed by ISIS-K?

We have just seen that ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for this attack and one can only assume they will continue to try to hit these soft targets.

The Taliban spent years being an insurgency; now they're the ones in charge and they're having to grapple with an insurgency. And they see for themselves it presents a number of challenges.


NEWTON: Our Clarissa Ward there.

Senior Taliban representatives are set to meet with a U.S. delegation in Doha this weekend. It will be the first meeting of its kind since the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of August.

U.S. officials say they will focus on safe passage out of the country for Afghans, Americans and other foreign nationals. A State Department spokesperson says the U.S. also intends to push the Taliban to, quote, "respect the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls."

U.S. officials say the U.S. and Mexico have worked out the framework of a new joint security agreement. CNN's Matt Rivers was following the talks from Mexico City.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After a day's worth of meetings, here in Mexico City between top administration officials from the United States and their counterparts, here in Mexico City, it's clear both sides want to update the security framework, in which both countries have used to tackle cross border issues, predominantly organized crime, transnational crime that affects both countries so severely.

What we got was a joint statement from the U.S. and Mexico, talking about a new security framework they're both going to stop operating on, not a ton of detail, in terms of concrete steps, in terms of funding and the like.

But it is clear both countries are going to try to update the existing framework that has been used for some time now. This goes back to the Merida initiative, first coming into play in 2008, predominantly saw the United States send hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Mexican government to help fight in many cases the organized crime that operates here, oftentimes within impunity.


RIVERS: Clearly, they're trying to update that initiative which, focused on the initial years of law enforcement, combating the drug cartels. And what stood out to me, from the joint statement, both sides talking about the root causes of all of these issues, here in Mexico it provides more socioeconomic opportunity for young people to do things other than getting into the drug business.

On the U.S. side talking about the treating of addiction and the demand that sends so many drugs north from Mexico, also the amount of guns trafficked south, into the United States.

And Mexico, promising to cut down on those weapons, being sent south as well. This is all well and good; everyone said there were good meetings but this is diplomatic speak for the time being. What's clear is the current security situation in Mexico is horrific.

You are talking about thousands and thousands of people being murdered as a result of the drug trade every single year. This country is awash in guns that come from the United States, trafficked illegally, brought down here to Mexico.

So while this new framework is promising, according to some experts I spoke with earlier today in terms of addressing, trying to address some of the root causes of these issues, whether this will actually promote change, substantive change in the security situation here, that remains to be seen -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Mexico City.


NEWTON: U.S. President Joe Biden is canceling more Trump-era contracts to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The latest cancellation cover about 44 miles in Texas. Mr. Biden has been chipping away on the contracts. Building the wall was a key and controversial goal of Trump's presidency. Police in Florida are almost four weeks into the search for Brian


Why didn't investigators question him even though they said they were keeping an eye on him before his disappearance?

Plus we talk to two women who talk about the devastating impact Instagram had on their teenaged years.





NEWTON: A pipeline spilling oil and fouling beaches off Southern California could have been damaged as much as a year ago. Officials suspect the pipeline was dragged more than 100 feet by a ship's anchor, eventually causing a crack and the large leak. They are now checking ship movements over the past year.

To Florida now, where the frustrating search for Brian Laundrie is approaching the fourth week. Police have little to show for their efforts. They've been looking for him in a vast nature preserve near his family home. But police tell CNN the search was prompted only by information from his parents while the family lawyer says the parents have no plans to help to search any longer. Brian's fiancee, Gabby Petito, was found dead in Wyoming last month, where the couple were on a road trip. Athena Jones has our update.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the search for Gabby Petito's fiance, Brian Laundrie, approaches its fourth week, no police activity visible today at the Carlton Nature Reserve where Laundrie's parents believe he went before disappearing.

Meanwhile, new details emerging about the period after Laundrie returned home in Petito's white van without Petito on September 1st and before Laundrie left his parents' home on September 13th telling them he was headed to the 25,000 acre reserve.

North Port Florida Police now revealing they were watching Laundrie before he left but were limited in what they could do because he had not been charged with a crime.


JOSH TAYLOR, SPOKESPERSON, NORTH PORT POLICE DEPT.: If you talk to a lot of people who have experience in law enforcement, the guy goes for a walk in the Carlton Reserve. He's not wanted for a crime.

I mean, what are we supposed to do?

We're going to go tree to tree following him back through the woods?

I mean, it just wasn't there with the information we had in this case.


JONES (voice-over): Petito's remains were found in Wyoming on September 19th, the coroner ruling it a homicide. Police say they never spoke with Laundrie before he left the home he and Petito shared with his parents. They did not see or speak with him during their visit on September 11th, the day Petito's parents reported her missing.

Authorities visited the home again on September 17, when Laundrie's parents reported him missing but refuse to answer questions about Petito's whereabouts, behavior police described as odd.

Police did not see or speak with Brian during that visit. Police also confirming they do not have the cell phones Laundrie or Petito used during their cross country trip.

CNN previously reported Laundrie bought a new cell phone from an AT&T store in North Port on September 4th and they left it behind on September 13th.

Laundrie has not been charged in connection with Petito's death but he is suspected of using a debit card Petito's family says belonged to her to access over $1,000 after her death. A federal warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday, Petito's family pleading with Laundrie to turn himself in.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to know how I'm feeling and that's -- I'm feeling -- I'm upset. I want to -- just turn yourself in. That's all I wanted. It's just getting more and more frustrating as days go on.


JONES: The Laundrie family tell CNN they are hopeful Brian is still alive. Petito's family calls Brian the missing piece of the puzzle. They believe he has all the answers to what happened to Gabby Petito -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: Congressional testimony this week highlighted how apps like Instagram can make teenaged girls feel bad about their bodies. A Facebook whistleblower told a Senate subcommittee about the problem. CNN's Sara Sidner has the story of two teens who suffered eating disorders because of those apps.

A warning: some viewers might find this report disturbing.


SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We spoke with two young women who live almost on opposite ends of the world but they had very similar stories about their experience as teenagers with Instagram. Both say it led them down the path to an eating disorder.


SIDNER (voice-over): This is Ashlee Thomas at 14 years old, having a complete meltdown because her parents are demanding she eat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on Ash, just open your mouth and swallow it.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thomas was in the grip of anorexia starving herself.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the last one.

THOMAS: I got to the stage where I remember sitting down and my dad holding my jaw open and my mom's syringing food into my mouth because I just refuse to eat.

SIDNER (on-camera): How bad this good for you and your family?


THOMAS: When I was admitted into hospital the doctor said to me we don't understand why you're here. You should be dead. And actually in hospital I -- my heart failed twice.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thomas says her journey with anorexia as a teen began with consuming content on Instagram about clean eating and what she thought were perfect bodies.

THOMAS: When I saw these influences that had all the likes and had all the followers. I want to get a taste of that, I wanted to be liked and loved.

SIDNER (on-camera): Would you say you were addicted to Instagram?

THOMAS: Yes. I was very addicted.

SIDNER (voice-over): Thousand of miles from Thomas' home in Australia --

ANASTASIA VLASOVA, EATING DISORDER SURVIVOR: I was most definitely addicted to Instagram.

SIDNER (voice-over): -- Anastasia Vlasova was also spiraling out of control in the United States, clean eating captured her attention too.

VLASOVA: I was just bombarded with all of these messages of you have to exercise every single day or you have to do these types of exercises or you have to go on this type of diet.

SIDNER (voice-over): The more she saw, the more anxiety and depression she felt but she couldn't stop. She says that led to her cycles of binge eating.

FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Facebook likes to present things as false choices.

SIDNER (voice-over): Their stories illustrate what former Facebook employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress.

HAUGEN: I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.

SIDNER (voice-over): Haugen also submitted complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission citing Facebook's own internal research, which found Facebook's platforms, which include Instagram, make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls; 13.5 percent of teen girls on Instagram say the platform makes thoughts of suicide and self injury worse.

And 17 percent of teenage girls say Instagram makes eating issues such as anorexia and bulimia worse.

In a statement to CNN, Facebook disputed the interpretation of the study and said the percentages are actually much lower.

HAUGEN: 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.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Remove content that could lead to imminent real world harm.

SIDNER (voice-over): Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Haugen's testimony in a post to his employees posting in part, we care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health.

Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place?

Facebook has also said it welcomes regulation. But those who know the inner workings of the tech world say that won't save teens.

TRISTAN HARRIS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR HUMANE TECHNOLOGY: Because their business model is putting kids into these kinds of loops of engagement. And that's what I'm really worried about is that if -- there isn't some quick fix to this thing, it's the intrinsic nature of the product.

SIDNER (voice-over): These two young women say simply put Instagram endangered their very lives as teenagers. THOMAS: We shouldn't have to end up in hospital beds or we shouldn't have to be fed by the nasogastric tube or our parents have to say goodbye to also hand over their parental rights because your platform is encouraging us to starve ourselves.

SIDNER: As for Ashley Thomas, who you saw there at 14, going through the throes of anorexia, she's now 20. And she has started an organization, called My Secret Burden. And she's back on Instagram but she's using it as a way to try and heal people who have had eating disorder issues or mental health issues.

As for Anastasia Vlasova, she's 18 years old and going to college. She says she decided she must delete her Instagram account for good. She's been off it and says she feels better and less anxious now.

She's also starting a podcast called "Brave Takes" and she is writing a children's book to try to help children deal with technology better -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


NEWTON: Ahead, Netflix has a new hit show. We'll look at why "Squid Game" has taken the world by storm and what it tells us about South Korea's TV and film industry.





NEWTON: Netflix says a show which portrays a kind of economic "Hunger Games" could be its biggest hit yet. "Squid Game" is a dystopian drama from South Korea. Paula Hancocks tells us it is one of many South Korean film and TV productions gaining traction around the world.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On social media these images are everywhere, on television...

JIMMY FALLON, NBC HOST: I'm here with the cast of "Squid Game."

HANCOCKS: -- everyone is talking about it.

FALLON: Welcome.

HANCOCKS: Amazon's Jeff Bezos tweeted, "I can't wait to watch the show."

Already hitting number one in 90 different countries on Netflix. "Squid Game" is a South Korean TV show where 456 debt ridden contestants compete in childlike games for a prize of nearly $14 million. But the penalty for losing is death. Show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk wanted to make this show for more than a decade but studios rejected it.

HWANG DONG-HYUK, "SQUID GAME" CREATOR (through translator): When I showed it to people, a lot of them said that it was unfamiliar. It's strange and unfamiliar.

What is this?

What the hell is this?

They said this in a negative way.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): South Korea already has a strong film industry with deep talent pools and large profitable studios. But its TV shows were predominantly romantic soap operas until Netflix arrived.

HWANG (through translator): I suddenly thought, will I be able to bring the show to life as I wanted if Netflix is involved?

I took that script from 10 years ago and showed it to them. Netflix said they loved it.

HANCOCKS: Netflix says it has already invested some $2 billion on Asian content and will invest another half a billion on making new Korean content alone this year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think in the past couple of years we've seen Korean content viewing grow four times in the region.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): This is a golden age of Korean cultural exports, one win after another.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): Music, films, TV shows, dubbed Hallyu or Korean wave and it's swept far beyond Asia, where it's been popular for the past two decades. Hwang says that this shows message resonates around the world.

HWANG (through translator): The world is getting much harder to live in. Even in the last 10 years, wealth disparity is growing. Nations are facing economic strife and the added element of the COVID pandemic has made the wealth gap even worse.

HANCOCKS: Social disparity mirrored in Oscar winning Korean film Parasite. Film experts say that content from South Korea with its turbulent history of war and military dictatorship traditionally carries a strong political message.

HYE SEUNG CHUNG, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES, COLORADO STATE UNIVERSITY: Media is not just means of entertainment, like in the United States or in the West. Or media has been always considered a very important tool for political incitement or political resistance. HANCOCKS: But it's not all politics.

HYE: It is still relatively cheap to produce some dramas in South Korea compared in America. In the "Squid Game," each episode cost less than $2 million, which is half of the price Netflix invested in each episode of "House of Cards."

HANCOCKS: And the younger generation is far more open to foreign language content.

JASON BECHERVAISE, PROFESSOR OF ENTERTAINMENT, SOONGSIL CYBER UNIVERSITY: If you look at those who watch "Parasite," a big number of the kind of audiences or the audience that went to see "Parasite" in the United States was younger people. And they were -- they've been really keen to kind of break that one-inch subtitle barrier.

HANCOCKS: The success of "Squid Game" is already helping other Asian content to trend on Netflix. Streaming platforms are looking to replicate this enormous success -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul, South Korea.


NEWTON: That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. Thank you for watching CNN.