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TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube Executives Testify on Capitol Hill; Democrats Race to Reach Agreement on Spending Plan; Trump's "Big Lie" Believers Threaten Election Officials; Family Pushing for Answers Surrounding 25-Year-Old's Death; Queen Elizabeth to Address COP26 in Video Message. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 04:30   ET




DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facebook has been plagued this week by the disclosure of internal documents which paint the company as harmful to society, including running algorithms that funnel harmful content to children.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): There has been a definite and deafening drum beat of continuing disclosures about Facebook, and there will be accountability.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The internal documents also show Facebook has been losing younger users for years while sites like Snapchat and TikTok may be even more popular with kids and teenagers than with adult users. Just last month, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's specifically called on Snapchat and TikTok to do more to stop the online sale of drugs that include fentanyl. That's according to "The Washington Post."

Lawmakers did not appear to be satisfied with what the social media companies claim they've done to stop illegal drug sales.

JENNIFER PARK STOUT, VP OF GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY, SNAPCHAT: We have stepped up and have deployed proactive detection measures to get ahead of what the drug dealers are doing. They are constantly evading our tactics, not just on Snapchat but on every platform.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): But Senate Amy Klobuchar suggesting they may be more inclined to do something where the law was changed so they would be held liable.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I think there's other ways to do this to as creating liability when this happens. So, maybe that'll make you work even faster so we don't lose another kid.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Illegal drugs are not the only concern. Some lawmakers asked about the social media site's effects on teens, including mental health, especially eating disorders. BLUMENTHAL: In fact, the algorithms push emotional and provocative content, toxic content that amplifies depression, anger, hate, anxiety, because those emotions attract and hook kids and others to their platforms.

LESLIE MILLER, VP OF GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS & PUBLIC POLICY, YOUTUBE: We prohibit content that promotes or glorifies things such as eating disorders. It has no place on our platform.

O'SULLIVAN: Facebook officials regularly bemoan the fact that companies like TikTok and Snapchat rarely get as much attention and scrutiny as Facebook does. But unfortunately for Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg the spotlight is going to stay on them for another while yet because Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, documents from her are continuing to be released in newsrooms around the world and we will keep you updated as that continues to happens.

Donie O'Sullivan, CNN, New York.


ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, very much Donie.

Well, there is one day left for Democrats on Capitol Hill to iron out their differences on President Biden's social spending and climate change bill before he leaves on his European trip. Major sticking points remain including how much it will cost and how it will be paid for. Now, they're looking to replace a key climate change provision that was rejected by Senator Joe Manchin. It would have rewarded utilities for investing in renewable energy and fine those that do not. And here is why Manchin says he opposed it. Take a listen.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I'm not going to pay taxpayer dollars and give it to a publicly traded utility -- $150 billion -- to do something they're going to do anyway. And they say, well, Manchin scuttled the plan. I haven't scuttled the plan, I'm basically looking at reality, why would you do that?


Our Jessica Dean has more on the negotiations on Capitol Hill.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Continuing on Capitol Hill, as Congressional Democrats and the White House work to get President Joe Biden's agenda past the finish line. Two separate bills of course, there is a bipartisan infrastructure plan which is hard infrastructure, that is simply waiting on a House vote, but progressives have vowed not to vote for it until there is a deal in place on the Build Back Better Act. And some progressives saying until they can vote on that. And right now, it is still being hashed out.

Earlier on Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said a framework should be sufficient for that vote to move forward. Progressives have balked at that. Meantime, over on the Senate side, two key Senators, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have been going to the White House working to finalize this deal. There are some details that are starting to come together. We saw new details on a minimum corporate tax that would apply to roughly 200 U.S. companies that make profits over a billion dollars, it would be a 15 percent tax. Those details making their way through the Senate and over to the House today, as well, as people begin to get their eyes on that.

Again, they're still trying to finalize how they would pay for the Build Back Better Act, and exactly what's in it. Hang-ups continue over what will go in it. Will they expand Medicare to include dental, vision and hearing? That's something Senator Bernie Sanders has said he wants to see in there. Will they be able to negotiate drug prices for Medicare? That's also something that Senator Sanders has wanted to see in there. Also, climate provisions, family leave, these are some of the loose ends they need to tie up. Democrats had hoped to have that infrastructure bill voted on by Wednesday. We will see if that happens.


Jessica Dean, CNN, Capitol Hill.


SOARES: Well, meantime the Virginia governor's race next week is being closely watched. Polls are showing a tight race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. Democrats are worried their voters won't turn out for this off year election, in the strong numbers as they do for presidential races. President Biden is releasing a string of high-profile Democrats to campaign for McAuliffe. He's building on the kind of strategy of linking Youngkin to former President Donald Trump. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terry's opponent has made all of his private pledges of loyalty to Donald Trump and what is really interesting to me, he won't stand next to Donald Trump now that the campaign's on. Think about it. He won't allow Donald Trump to campaign for him in this state. And he's willing to pledge his loyalty to Trump in private, why not in public? What is he trying to hide? Is there a problem with Trump being here? Is he embarrassed?


SOARES: Well, the Trump of course keep spreading the big lie that he won the presidential election which in turn fueled the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. We're now learning the House committee investigating the insurrection, is planning to subpoena a former lawyer of the Trump's legal team, conservative lawyer John Eastman was part of the scheme to persuade then Vice President Mike Pence to throw out the election results and declare Trump the winner. At least five members of the former administration have voluntarily spoken to the committee. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has tasked a Republican to lead

the Department of Homeland Security efforts to protect against election interference. Washington state, Secretary of State Kim Wyman has repeatedly denounced Trump's lies about election fraud and this comes as state as well as local election officials and their families are intimidated, threatened, as well as terrorized. Sara Murray explains.



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That message for Arizona's Democratic Secretary of State, Katie Hobbs, just one of several threatening vitriolic voice mails shared exclusively with CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, VOICEMAIL LEFT FOR AZ SECRETARY OF STATE KATIE HOBBS (D): I would like to say Katie Hobbs, pain is coming. There's no place to hide. Your elections were a fraud.

MURRAY (voice-over): Nearly a year after the 2020 presidential contest, election officials accustomed to the bureaucratic and largely uncontroversial task of administering elections are still grappling with hateful messages and in some cases even death threats.

JENA GRISWOLD (D), COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: These are things like I see -- I -- I am watching you sleep. I know where you live, posting my address. Telling me repeatedly how they are going to kill me. So yes, this is not policy disagreements.

MURRAY (voice-over): Most of the threats aimed at Democrat Jena Griswold, the Colorado secretary of state, were posted online to her personal and public social media accounts or sent via e-mail. And when it comes to female officials, the attacks are particularly vile.

I'm really jonzing to see your purple face after you've been hanged, one e- mail says.

Another message says: The dog is going to be wondering where you went and your husband will have to tell it that you were hung for treason.

GRISWOLD: I think it is partially gendered. Predominantly, Democratic women secretaries of state are getting the brunt of it but it's not exclusively to Democrats or women.


GRISWOLD: In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger faced threats as well, after standing up to former President Trump's baseless claims of fraud. But among the most disturbing were those directed at members of his family.

RAFFENSPERGER: Sending your wife who you met to high school, sending your wife sexualized text and all that other kind of insulting garbage, and then, breaking into your daughter-in-law's, you know, townhouse and then leaving lights on and you know that they were there and then driving by our house. And so, those are the kind of things are, you know, stuff that you notice. You do look over your shoulder. And that was all just ginned up all by lies. And all by people that were stirring the pot.

MURRAY (voice-over): Across the U.S. and across political parties, election officials continue to be falsely accused of mishandling and rigging the 2020 election. There are fears the threats will increase into next year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I guess, if you count all the fraudulent votes.

MURRAY (voice-over): As some Republicans spin up doubts about midterms and spout conspiracies as a central plank of their campaigns.

MATT MASTERSON, FORMER SENIOR CYBERSECURITY ADVISER: Local election officials are going to leave and then that opens the door to adding more political actors, less professional, more political actors into the election space which, again, is incredibly dangerous.

MURRAY (voice-over): A report in 2021 from the Brennan Center for Justice found that roughly one in six election workers surveyed received threats of violence. While almost one in three said they feel unsafe because of their job.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department and the FBI formed a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials. But Griswold tells CNN she has yet to see action.


GRISWOLD: The FBI says they are not monitoring the threats. I don't believe at this point the DOJ has prosecuted any of the threats. So, the response has not been sufficient.

MURRAY: Now John Keller who is the Justice Department official who is overseeing this threats task force says these kinds of threats used to be dealt with on the state or local level. He tells CNN this is changing rapidly in response to the surge in threats nationwide since the last election cycle. The Justice Department is now supplementing state and local efforts with resources, national coordination, training and intelligence.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Well, in the coming hours, a U.K. high court will decide whether Julian Assange should be extradited to the U.S. American officials are appealing and earlier verdict which ruled the WikiLeaks founder should not be sent to the U.S. because he might commit suicide. The hearing follows last month's reporting by Yahoo! News that CIA officials had allegedly plotted to kidnap or even kill Assange. He is wanted for 18 criminal charges in the U.S., including a spy (INAUDIBLE). We'll stay on top of that. Still to come right here on the show, the mysterious death of Jelani

Day has his family and at least one U.S. lawmaker asking for a deeper investigation.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can still see the remnants of when Jelani Day's vehicle came through here. Plants knocked on their side. The question though is whether he was driving the vehicle when it hit.



SOARES: Now a congressman says the death of a student in the U.S. state of Illinois needs to be investigated by the Justice Department. Local authorities say 25-year-old Jelani Day drowned. But House Democrat Bobby Rush has joined a chorus of voices saying something just doesn't add up. CNN's Omar Jimenez reports.



CROWD: Keep hope --


CROWD: -- alive!

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a call for answers that are far outweighed by questions in the case of Jelani Day.


The LaSalle County coroner ruling his death a drowning but also writing it's still unknown how he got in the river.

JESSE JACKSON, REVEREND, RAINBOW RUSH COALITION: The coroner's report yesterday was an insult to our situation. It assumes there's a kind of suicide planned.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Reverend Jesse Jackson was among those in Peru, Illinois Tuesday rallying and driving in a processional to raise awareness to demand answers and that federal authorities get more involved.

Jelani Day was last seen on August 24th at a retail store in Bloomington, Illinois about 130 miles from Chicago. Almost 70 miles north is Peru, Illinois where his vehicle was found just two days later. From the road, it looks like a dead end.

JIMENEZ: You can still see the remnants of when Jelani Day's vehicle came through here. Plants knocked on their sides. The question though is whether he was driving the vehicle when it did. Authorities found his car just down this path and off to the left side, according to the former attorney for the family. The thing about this location though is it isn't in the middle of nowhere. It has got a YMCA on one side and it is surrounded by homes.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Jelani Day's body was found about a week afterward, just about a mile away off the bank of the Illinois River east of the Route 251 bridge. His body wouldn't be officially identified until nearly a month later.

But around when the body was found, his wallet was discovered about a mile and a half away from the water. Still a half a mile from the vehicle, with a lanyard of his and some clothes found in separate locations as well, according to the Peru Police Department.

His mother says none of it adds up and that this wasn't an area he was familiar with.

JIMENEZ: That he would come all the way --

CARMEN DAY, MOTHER OF JELANI DAY: That he would come all the way here. I mean, there's plenty of bodies of water in Bloomington. We're in Peru, a town that Jelani doesn't have any friends, no -- no ties to. His car was parked in a wooded area that you wouldn't have even know how to get to had you not heard about this.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): When Jelani Day's body was found in the river, his organs were completely liquid, according to the former family attorney, after over a week of significant deterioration in the river. The coroner's report said there was no evidence of injury prior to death, including strangulation or assault.

DAY: He doesn't have any skin to determine bruising. So, none of this makes sense. You want to tell me that there's no physical trauma done to my child? Do I accept this? They tell me that this is my son. I accept it, but I still need to know why my son is not here anymore because somebody knows.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The Peru Police Department writing to CNN in part, there are hundreds of hours of video to look through, numerous follow-ups to conduct. The members of the unit are working tirelessly to find out what happened to Jelani Day. But not fast enough for a mother left searching for answers.

DAY: Would you believe that somebody with common sense would even come all the way to Peru to do something to themselves? So, see it with your own eyes, see why I'm so adamant about finding out what happened to my son.

JIMENEZ: And there have been many calls for the federal government to take the lead in investigating this case. Among the latest Congressman Bobby Rush who wrote a letter of grave concern, as he described it, addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray, calling on them to investigate the disappearance and death of Jelani Day. Now a spokesperson for the FBI says they've been in contact with the Peru Police Department and have offered their services whenever needed. Generally speaking, the FBI wouldn't be able to become the lead

investigative agency until there is suspicion of a federal crime that has taken place. Now, on the family side, we know the one autopsy that's been out there, but they have also hired at least two other forensic pathologists to perform independent autopsies. Because as the mother told me, she doesn't know what to believe at times.

Omar Jimenez, CNN, Chicago.


SOARES: Thank you, Omar.

Well, the mystery surrounding Gabby Petito's death and the whereabouts of her fiancee Brian Laundrie, has gripped the country for weeks. Authorities told us Laundrie's body was discovered last week in Florida's Carlton Reserve, after weeks of intense searching. And the FBI says dental records were used to I.D. the body. But now a Florida medical examiner says those remains have not been DNA tested yet. It is the latest loose end in what feels really like many loose ends in this case.

You are watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from London. Just ahead, Queen Elizabeth on the mend but not well enough yet to travel to Scotland for the U.N. climate summit. Max Foster joins me with more.



SOARES: Now the Atlanta Braves are celebrating a big win in game one of the World Series. And it didn't take long actually for them to get on scoreboard. Jorge Soler got things started as the first player ever to hit a homerun in the opening game very first at-bat. 1-0 braves. Top of the third now. One man on and Adam Duvall goes deep to give Atlanta 5-0 lead. The braves added another run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Final score, Braves 6, Astros 2. Game two set for tonight in Houston. Then the best of the seven series moves to Atlanta. We'll keep our eyes on that for you.

Now here in the U.K., Queen Elizabeth will not be greeting world leaders in person at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Buckingham palace says she'll record a video message instead. Her majesty met virtually on Tuesday with Swiss, as well as Korean ambassadors. CNN's Royal correspondent Max Foster is here with me in the studio. And Max, since she is staying away, on doctor's orders here.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it actually comes after a series of events which has worried people, so she canceled a trip to Northern Ireland, she then went to hospital. Which we weren't told about until after it happened and they were forced to tell us about it. And now, we hear that she's not going to the COP meeting. Which is one of the biggest gatherings of heads of states ever in the U.K., and something she absolutely prioritized.


But I genuinely don't think that she's particularly ill, but she's clearly tired, and they are now erring on the side of not going to engagements which may tire her out further.

SOARES: She has been quite busy though. October she's been pretty full-on schedule. It's easy to forget that she's what, 95?

FOSTER: She's 95 and she drives all of this. But they're getting to a situation now where she has cut down on a lot of her charitable work. But there now down to the core constitutional duties. And it is hard for her not to appear at those events and still be head of state. So, I think when we look at the images of her in the virtual audiences which she is still continuing with, I think we will see more of that in that situation, so it feels like a bit of a gear change for her, a sort of dose of reality really, she can't keep doing what she has been doing.

SOARES: Yes, I know it's been very busy for her this month of October, so we'll stay on top of that. Max, great to have you here.

Now, this one might be for you, Max. What do you get for a man who can buy anything like yourself?

FOSTER: Well, I can't buy anything.

SOARES: Even more money apparently. Elon Musk is getting dangerously close to a net worth of $300 billion, making him worth more than business rival ExxonMobil. On Sunday, Musk's net worth was $289 billion. That's $17 billion more than ExxonMobil. Musk can thank Tesla for bond market cap has sort past $1 trillion.

And that does it for me. Thanks very much for joining. I'm Isa Soares. "EARLY START" with Christine Romans and Laura Jarrett is up next. They'll have more of course on the FDA advisory panel's recommendation of the Pfizer vaccine for young children. Have a wonderful day. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.