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Twenty-Five Dead In Mississippi, 1 In Alabama After Tornadoes Rip Through The South; Pennsylvania Candy Factor Explodes; Trump Rallies In Waco Ahead Of Possible Charges; Lawmakers Grill TikTok CEO About Security Threats, Ties To China; CNN Investigates Russian Denial Of Forced Child Deportations. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 25, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are back live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.
The death toll is inching up in Mississippi as search crews fan out across the state devastated by tornadoes. Homes, neighborhoods, communities are unrecognizable at this hour. The mayor of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, says his city is gone.
And the images we're seeing tonight offer terrible proof of that. But the heartbreak goes so much deeper. At least 25 people are now confirmed dead in Mississippi. Another person was killed in Alabama.
For perspective in all of this consider this fact. More people have been killed by tornadoes in the past 24 hours than in all of last year in the United States. Last hour, I spoke with Mississippi Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson, whose district includes some of the worst damaged from the storm. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): It was devastation beyond imagination. First of all, we had no lights in the entire community. People were absolutely stunned at what had just occurred. And so as the night wore on, it was clear that this was something that people have never seen before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Congressman Thompson also told us that tomorrow the head of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas will visit the area along with the FEMA administrator.
CNN's Nick Valencia is in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
Nick, good to see you back on the air. I know that devastation is just unbelievable to look at. What's the latest from your end?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, there's not many parts of this community that are untouched by the tornado that ripped through here on Friday night, and joining us here now is somebody that knows this district better than anyone, LaDonna Sias. She's the older woman of this district, also the vice mayor of Rolling Fork.
Miss Sias, thank you so much for taking the time with CNN. We're so sorry for what happened to your community. Tell us about what you guys went through here on Friday night.
VICE MAYOR LADONNA SIAS, ROLLING FORK, MISSISSIPPI: Actually, it was just totally devastating. We were at home, of course, and some of us may have been out and about, and all of a sudden you hear this loud noise so you get in the closet. You can hold the closet door. You get in the tub. Put pillows over you. And to me it was just like the longest time, but I'm sure it wasn't but it seemed like forever until that noise stopped.
And when you walk outside of the closet to see your whole structured homes totally destroyed. And actually you could hear people screaming, you know, from the trailer park, from Chuck's trailer park.
VALENCIA: Where we're standing in front of right here.
SIAS: Where we're standing right now. But it was just no way you could get to him, and so many lives were lost.
VALENCIA: You know what's really striking to me, Vice Mayor, is just everyone here was impacted. And yet even though you go through this, there's still chipping in to help people that are even worse off.
SIAS: Absolutely. We our house totally, totally demolished, but what we've been doing this morning is going -- issuing out water. Issuing now hot meals. We've been going through our ward. We have something set up at the civic center where people can come rest, get something hot to eat.
I have been collaborating with Mayor Eldrick Walker. When I went down to the civic center earlier, Congressman Bennie Thompson was there. Mayor Flaggs from Vicksburg, the state of Vicksburg, was there.
VALENCIA: People are coming in from all over to help out. Can you tell us what your constituents are telling you? Because we've heard some just really heartbreaking stories, people finding their loved ones under the rubble. Others who survived without a scratch even though their neighbors perished.
SIAS: Yes, yes. And you know one lady, it was so funny one of my constituents she called me and she was like, I heard your house was totally destroyed. I said, yes, ma'am, and she was like, but you out here giving water to us and giving us hot food. And I was like, well, that's what we have to do. You know. Even though we lost everything this stuff can be replaced, material things can be replaced, but to lose a loved one, it was just heart wrenching.
VALENCIA: And at least 25 people, that death toll likely to go up.
SIAS: I'm sure. I'm sure, and I actually talked to one of the officers before I came here and I was asking him, did he have an account? And he was like, you know, people are, you know, scattered everywhere, so it's kind of hard. But the last total based on the news it was like 15 or 20 some people but have lost their loved ones, and that's the that's the most hurting thing.
VALENCIA: And when you look -- I'm sure there's so much hurt in your heart. When you look at this, I mean, we're standing in front of what is I understand the community's landmark here, this restaurant, where everybody stopped by in the morning gathered after school.
SIAS: Yes. Yes. Get lunch here, get dinner here. And it's just totally destroyed. One of our local alderwomen, Caroline Washington, her house was totally destroyed. Mayor Walker totally destroyed. I talked to Alderman Andre Williams. You know he's suffered a little bruising or whatever, but he was actually picked up and thrown inside the house.
You know, it was just devastating. So you you're trying to go through your phone. You're trying to call people. You're texting like, you know, please call us. Please let me know you're OK. Alderman Stewart, he and I have been talking back and forth, you know, just trying to make sure people OK.
VALENCIA: It's frightening what you guys have been through. You know when I heard a story from a police officer here who was picked up in his tub with his girlfriend, and you know, he was hurt and injured and then he put on his uniform and went to work.
SIAS: Yes. Yes. And that's what we do. You know, the community has really band together. I went to our local stop and shop and we have the Alderman Bart. He runs this stop and shop and you know, people were setting up stations. They were giving out water. They were given out hot food. I went across town, and everything, people homes are just totally destroyed.
VALENCIA: Tell us about Rolling Fork because, Vice Mayor, this for a lot of people at home this is the first time they're hearing about it, even though, you know, this is where the name Teddy Bear comes from. There's a long history here. Tell us about this community. Tell us about what Rolling fork represents.
SIAS: We are a small town. We are known for our teddy bears. We have a deep Delta Festival. We had a July Festival. We have some amazing artists that have come from the scene of Rolling Fork. So everybody is just -- we're small but, you know, we're just so full of love, you know.
VALENCIA: We are so --
SIAS: We're just (INAUDIBLE) everybody.
VALENCIA: We are so thankful for you taking the time. We know you are so busy. Your home destroyed even though you're out here delivering meals to the community.
Vice Mayor, thank you so much for taking the time with CNN. We really appreciate it.
SIAS: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. VALENCIA: And Jim, you know, you could see just behind us here. This
is a small slice of the community that has been damaged. You go and look around for as far as the eye can see, there is devastation here. And there is going to be a lot of effort that's going to take tear to clean this community up -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Nick Valencia. Boy, our hearts go out to all of them there in Rolling Fork. The vice mayor was doing great work, relaying everything that's been going on in our community. You can tell it's going to take a long time to recover from all this.
Nick, thanks so much.
Bill Parker is meteorologist in chief for the National Weather Service in Jackson, Mississippi. He joins me now by phone.
Bill, I understand you've been out in the field participating in a damage survey. What did you find?
BILL PARKER, METEOROLOGIST-IN-CHIEF, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE, JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (via phone): We were in Rolling Fork pretty much all day today. A lot of damage. As you just heard catastrophic damage across that area in that little town called Rolling Fork. We believe that we have a pretty solid ES-4 in Rolling Fork. There are damage survey teams in other parts of Mississippi, and so, I don't know what they've found yet. I'm headed back to my office and we'll meet up and connect the dots and see what we have.
But right now I know in Rolling Fork, ES-4, estimated wind speed, right, well, maximum estimated wind speeds 170 miles per hour.
ACOSTA: And that is just devastating, Bill. There were a dozen reports of tornadoes in the area Friday night and Saturday night. How unusual is that? And we were just looking at some of the aerial pictures, and it looks as though the storm just cut a clear path in one of the shots where we saw. It looked like it cut of clear path through the town. We're looking at a shot right now showing it to our viewers.
Is that what you see when you're on the ground? Or is it really just extensive and sporadic and all over that community?
PARKER: Well, it's a different view when you're on the ground. When you're up in the air, you can really see the path. But when you're on the ground, it's just a lot of trees torn up, homes torn up in front of you. Sometimes you don't know what street you're on. Some streets are blocked. Some streets are clear. So when you're on the ground, it's a different view from what you can see from above. But that town has pretty much been, you know, devastated from this tornado that went through that area.
ACOSTA: And the mayor of Rolling Fork says our city is gone. Is that about right? Is that your estimation of things?
PARKER: Well, you know, the people are still there. And so you heard that lady, they have a lot, they have a strong spirit about them. And I think neighbor is going to help neighbor and I believe the citizens will come together in Mississippi, and they will help them get that city back to going.
ACOSTA: All right. Meteorologist Bill Parker with the National Weather Service, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much. Good luck out there.
PARKER: All right, thank you, sir.
ACOSTA: Thank you.
And for more information on how you can help the victims of the deadly tornado and severe storms that swept through Mississippi, you can go to CNN.com/impact.
At least two people are dead and five others remain missing after a massive explosion leveled a candy factory in Pennsylvania. Rescue crews are searching for survivors in the rubble of the RM Palmer candy factory in West Reading.
Our Danny Freeman is there.
Danny, we've been showing this absolutely unbelievable footage all day long of what happened when that building exploded. We're looking at it again right here. One of the questions I had is how was that image even captured? Maybe you can relay that to our viewers and give us the latest.
DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure, Jim, so the way that image was captured is actually there's a camera on top of this hotel right behind me, and it's a traffic camera for local news in the area, and it happened to be pointed this way just looking at the highway in the background, and it happened to capture the moment when this building went up in flames.
And, you know, Jim, it's just been a devastating weekend for everyone in this community of West Reading because there's been a lot of sadness because people know there's been a lot of loss of life. But there also has been some hope that maybe there have been survivors and that's what we can see behind me right here.
If you look down first responders, they've been working tirelessly now for over 24 hours to try and find survivors, to hunt through that rubble, and this area right here that's where the RM Palmer chocolate company used to be. But of course, as you keep seeing this video, it went up in flames in that explosion.
So here's what we know at this point, two people confirmed dead, five people missing, no cause just yet, but again it's been a mixed bag because one person over the night, last night, was found alive in the rubble. First responders were able to take that person, and taken to hospital. But again still, we are looking for at least five more people and they do not know the status or they have not told us at least the status of those people yet.
So of course when we have the information we'll bring it to you, but it's been a hard and challenging day for this community in the wake of this massive explosion at a company that was really a staple of this community -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. CNN's Danny Freeman, thank you very much for that report.
Former President Donald Trump will no doubt talk about his ongoing legal issues at his campaign rally in Texas tonight. We're digging into those issues and the potential indictments he could be facing next. Plus California has been inundated by heavy rain and snow this season so much so that the governor has some good news for residents on drought restrictions, but he has a warning as well. We'll talk about that.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: Right now Donald Trump is on stage in Waco, Texas, for what his campaign is calling his first rally of the 2024 election cycle. It comes as the former president is facing possible criminal indictments and backlash over his warnings of violence if indicted.
CNN's Kristen Holmes is there at the rally for us.
Kristen, what are you hearing so far? What's he saying?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, just to give you an indication of what the tone is here, he opened up his rally with a song that he had collaborated, what's simply called the January 6th Choir. That is a group of people who are incarcerated for their alleged actions on January 6th at that Capitol -- actions that they had inside of the Capitol.
This song has been on iTunes, and it's something that he's clearly fully embracing. He asked the audience just stand up, clearly again giving reverence to the people that were incarcerated for this. We know that he's continued to call them political prisoners. But this was the first time the collaboration and the first time we've actually heard him air that song here.
Now he's been going on since he took the stage about various investigations. It's unclear where he's touching on which one because there has been a variety here of talking about specific lawyers. Lawyers who worked for Hillary Clinton at one point. Talking about the potential indictment. But he is again really focusing in on what we've seen of this 2024 election, which is this kind of energy around retribution. That this is the final battle in 2024.
It's something we heard him say at CPAC and we heard him say it here. And as you mentioned this comes after we have seen a series of messages on Truth Social, post on his social media site, essentially calling for some sort of violence, saying it could ensue if he is potentially indicted. Also calling for protests at a certain point. We know that aides had asked him not to do that. They said that it
could create optics that were similar to January 6th. But again he took the stage today playing the song in which he collaborated with people who are imprisoned for their alleged actions that day on the Capitol, and he has continued to talk about the, as you just heard, rigged system. Talking about the judicial system. Talking about those various investigations.
As we know there is a potential indictment looming in that New York investigation into the hush money payments. That's the one that he has really been posting about lately. But we've heard him touch on several and they expect that to be the theme of this entire speech here tonight -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. Kristen Holmes, thank you for that report.
As we wait to see if and when the Manhattan district attorney will indict the former president in the hush money probe, Donald Trump is staying busy. His first campaign rally as a declared -- as they're calling it a first campaign rally as a declared 2024 candidate. He's underway right now in Waco, Texas, as you just saw.
It just so happens today is the 30th anniversary of the deadly federal siege at the Branch Davidian compound. Meanwhile, a Friday social media post from Trump is also stirring fresh controversy. Trump threatening that potential death and destruction could follow if he is charged in Manhattan.
And joining us now to talk about this is CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.
Julian, great to see you again. The Trump campaign claims it's just a coincidence that he's holding this rally in Waco today, but I have to ask you, based on what Kristen Holmes was reporting a few moments ago that Trump is using language like final battle, describing the 2024 campaign as the final battle and talking about that sort of thing in Waco, Texas.
Isn't that incitement?
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the symbolism is very clear. He is talking about this with regard to the election in 2024. He's using this kind of military language to talk about the investigations, and he's pitting himself against the government that's out to get him. So for him to stand there and in the shadow of Waco and what that symbolizes to the right wing, is a way to incite. And I think it's not a hidden message. And like much of what he does, he does this kind of stuff in broad daylight.
ACOSTA: And they claimed it's just a coincidence that he's there in Waco, Texas, but obviously when they make these plans to have a rally in Waco, somebody along the way somewhere, obviously told them, oh, by the way, this is the anniversary of what took place with the Branch Davidians. So they went forward with this knowing that this anniversary is taking place this weekend, even if you go with the generous, you know, interpretation of what they've been saying.
But, Julian, let me ask you this. You say an indictment in the hush money case could actually end up strengthening Trump's hand going into 2024? Our CNN crew there did talk to some Trump supporters who are essentially making that argument. But why do you think that?
ZELIZER: Well, look, he's spent much of his political career and pre- political career pitting himself against different institutions. He has constantly argued different people are out to get him whether it's the media, whether it's James Comey and Robert Mueller, whether it's the Congress, and so what we have already heard and what we'll continue to hear is that the investigations are yet one more way in which the establishment is out to get him.
And what we have seen is there are many Republicans, not just the base, that find this basic message appealing, and thus far there's been multiple investigations, and he remains the front runner in the Republican Party. We should remember that. And even this week, most Republican leaders a rallying around him.
So there's a way in which this will fit his message, will fit his theme, and even facing indictment, even with an indictment if that happens, it might not hurt his standing in the Republican Party.
ACOSTA: And while no president has been indicted before we have seen politicians of all stripes face indictments of their own. In the past, Richard Nixon received a pardon from Gerald Ford. We even had a president arrested once, Ulysses S. Grant. Yes, that was a long time ago, but he was busted for speeding and a horse drawn carriage back in 1872.
And I know you know that, of course, being a presidential historian, but, I mean, given where we might be 10, 20 years from now, might there be some lessons learned if Donald Trump is not indicted? If you have prosecutors in various jurisdictions who think that he should be indicted, and they passed because of, you know, political calculations and concerns that it might be too damaging for the country. Might that be damaging to the nation down the road? Should he be above the law?
ZELIZER: It gets down to the question that was front and center when President Ford pardoned Nixon. Do we go for accountability or do we try to somehow heal the nation? And if the former president is involved in many forms of wrongdoing and ultimately prosecutors back away, whether it's in New York, or whether the Department of Justice, because they fear that it will be too politically difficult for the nation, what we lose is accountability.
The guardrails fall away once again. Politicians see they can get away with a lot and they won't necessarily be blow back. And 20, 30 years from now we will see a system where these are not things that will destroy a politician. You can break laws, you can violate ethics. That's the question on the table. And get away with it. So a lot is at stake right now, and accountability matters a great deal.
And many people think when Ford pardoned Nixon, it wasn't a successful act. It actually failed to achieve the kind of accountability and we're still living with that to this day.
ACOSTA: Yes, and I think there's something to be said for the argument that accountability could bring healing to this country.
Julian Zelizer, great to talk to you as always. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
ZELIZER: Thanks for having me.
ACOSTA: All right. Good to see you.
In the middle of a drought, California is also dealing with massive flooding. The impact both are having on people who live there next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
ACOSTA: In his announcement Friday, California's governor stopped short of calling the state's drought completely over even though recent rains and snow have replenished its reservoirs. Still the governor is dialing back water restrictions in a significant way.
CNN's Camila Bernal joins us now.
Camila, I had a feeling there might be some news on that front when you and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about all that snow out there in California. It is having some benefit.
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It absolutely is, Jim. I mean, it is nice to say that many parts of California are not in a drought. There are some parts of the state that still are experiencing drought. But for the most part, we are somewhat out of the woods.
And now Governor Gavin Newsom is saying, look, we had asked in 2021 for a 15 percent reduction in water usage, that's rolled back. Their water agencies that have asked people, look, don't water your lawn, or do it at certain hours or at certain times, all of that is being rolled back and that is thanks to all of these back-to-back atmospheric rivers.
We have record snowpack, a lot of rain, and the reservoirs are near capacity. The water in California is flowing. You could see here behind me in the LA River, we're coming from a three-year, very dry years. It was one of the three years that authorities say was historic in terms of how dry California is. You would not be able to see the LA River like you're seeing it today.
So a lot of officials and scientists are extremely thankful for what's going on here, but Gavin Newsom also saying, look, we have those extremes, the very dry years and then the very wet years. So you still have to conserve water and be mindful that we do have these two extremes.
Here is what the Governor said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GAVIN NEWSON (D-CA): So when we talk about weather whiplash, we talk about extremes.
It is incumbent upon us to recognize that and to recognize that the conditions have radically changed throughout the State, but not enough in places like Klamath and around the Colorado River Basin to call for the end of the drought in California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: And Jim, you mentioned that snowpack scientists will be watching to see how quickly it melts because it could be difficult to manage. We're also expecting another storm in Northern California this week. So more rain -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Wow. I wish you'd get more of a break than that. Camila Bernal. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.
An unusual flight landed in Key West today, you're not going to believe this, a motorized glider carrying two migrants from Cuba. Sheriff's Deputies provided these images of that aircraft. Border Patrol now has custody of the two men. Immigration activists say there has been a surge in migration from Cuba in recent weeks and months because of unrest, persecution, and shortages of basic goods.
Is TikTok's time up? Some Members of Congress say it should be banned. A closer look at the problems with TikTok and the app's future. Tech expert, Kara Swisher, she joins me next. There she is. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, coming up.
ACOSTA: There was a rare display of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill this week as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle grilled TikTok CEO Shou Chew about the popular app's connections to China and the threat possibly it may pose to National Security.
Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chew struggled to convince hostile Democrats and Republicans that TikTok user data will be secure from Chinese government spying.
And joining me now to talk about this is Kara Swisher. She is a contributing writer for "The New York Times" opinion section and host of "The Sway Podcast."
Kara, were you swayed by anything that took place in this hearing?
KARA SWISHER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" OPINION: Hey, Jim. ACOSTA: Good to see you.
SWISHER: No, no, no. Which side? Which side? I thought Congress, you know, it was sort of performative act of things they probably can't do and they didn't really want to learn anything or figure out how to fix it. They just wanted to yell at this CEO who tried his best, but really had a losing hand even before he got there.
ACOSTA: Yes. I have to ask you this. How much of stock you put in this talk of a possible ban? And the question -- the reason why I ask is, if this country were to ban TikTok or slap restrictions on the site, doesn't that set some kind of a precedent for the government to take action against other social media apps in the future?
SWISHER: Well, it's also unconstitutional. I mean, I think that -- I mean, Trump tried to do this. President Trump tried to do this, and it didn't work out. There was a lot of challenges from Judges. They have to pass an act of Congress, I believe, and they've also got to make sure they know one thing that it is a National Security threat.
There wasn't much in evidence during this discussion on Capitol Hill, and that's what they need to do. They can't just say it's dangerous, they have to show it's dangerous. And it's been going -- TikTok has been going through a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US. So, there has to be actual evidence that this is happening and that was lacking in this hearing, I think.
ACOSTA: And one of the other questions, I saw a piece about this, and forgive me, maybe you've brought this up, but what about the First Amendment issues at play here? If you shut down TikTok, you shut down the accounts of millions of Americans who use the app to express themselves? What about that aspect in all of this?
SWISHER: Yes. Well, yes, that's a big deal. That's what the Judges were concerned about was this ability to just ban speech and it is not the same thing. They've done it before in technology, you can't buy and sell certain technologies, depending on the country. But this is very different. This is the speech of 150 million Americans.
And so I think that's going to have challenges. There's going to be the consumer backlash. There's all kinds of things and then there's the forced sale possibility, which is to me, two things The United States stands for is the First Amendment and capitalism, and so -- and democracy. And so that's one of the big issues here.
Listen, we're not China, and so they can't just by fiat just decide things, and that is where they're going to run into real problems, aside from all their delightful speeches in Congress last week.
ACOSTA: And one of the things that came up this past week, TikTok users having some fun at the lawmakers' expense, for some of the questions that they asked seem to suggest that some of these Members of Congress don't really understand how the internet works, which is not the first time we've seen evidence of this.
SWISHER: No. ACOSTA: A Georgia Congressman asked why TikTok needs to know where
users eyes are if the app isn't tracking pupil dilation to drive algorithms. That came up. Another asked of the TikTok app on his iPhone could steal information from his home WiFi network. The answer was no. There was some of that going on, too.
ACOSTA: Like, okay, boomer type stuff.
SWISHER: Yes, I think it wasn't that bad here, it has been worse before. Yes, I think these people do know what they're talking about. Congress has gotten very educated.
SWISHER: One of the things that sort of amazed me was all these years of not legislating other tech companies, suddenly they have a lot of energy to legislate on one.
Now, these are issues that are pervasive throughout social media -- privacy, tracking, surveillance, all kinds of things -- going on with your data? Those are legitimate questions for Congress to ask. It's just that they don't do anything. And that to me is, you know, you can complain about these tech companies all you want, but it's a real abrogation of power by our elected officials not to do anything, including about addiction. They mentioned this here with TikTok during this hearing, well, all of the other apps have this problem, too.
And so, it is a much more systemic issue. And of course, there are national security concerns. And I get that, and it's really important to figure out that is happening here.
But they need to do a better job of, you know, it's sort of evidence free, and I prefer evidence when you're going to do something this drastic.
ACOSTA: Yes, evidence is good. But let's get to, I think, one of the crux of the issue for a lot of parents, and I will say, this probably includes myself, I don't want to out anybody.
SWISHER: No, I am parent with a lot of questions.
ACOSTA: But many parents are fed up with the addictive nature of this and it's just out of control the way kids will be glued to TikTok for hours and hours on end. And yes, the answer is better parenting, but what can be done short of a total ban, Kara?
SWISHER: Well, that's not why you'd ban it. I mean, because Jim, I think you've been on Twitter a lot, as I recall.
ACOSTA: Right. Exactly.
SWISHER: I think it is everybody's problem, all of these things.
ACOSTA: A might help me, actually and others, but yes -- SWISHER: So, I think -- well, in China, they force people to turn off
their phones, which they're not going to do here. On TikTok, they've put this 60-minute thing in that allows you to use parental controls to turn it off after 60 minutes, et cetera et cetera.
And also queries whoever is using it, you know, if you've been using it continually for 60 minutes, maybe you want to turn it off or it turns off itself and you have to go turn it on. There are all kinds of ways to do that.
The problem is all these apps and TikTok in particular that is why it is so successful, are addictive. They know what you want to look at and it is an endless series of information that is interesting to you.
And so you know, it's a little like sugar if you think about it. It sort of hits us at all our various sundry mental things that it is very pleasing. And so that's the issue. And I'm not so sure that this is the hearing to discuss that because that's a bigger, wider issue, not just for teens, but for everybody.
ACOSTA: And one of my favorite viral videos of the week, I'm sure you saw this as of Sofia Coppola's daughter protesting being grounded. It is absolutely hilarious.
The video was up on TikTok, and I guess spread to other apps, and then around the world instantaneously.
Isn't this the kind of creativity that could be stifled if TikTok is banned. And just for a short explanation, she is protesting being grounded, I think for trying to book a helicopter. She was using her parents' credit card to book a helicopter from New York to Maryland, she says, which is kind of unbelievable, but anyway.
SWISHER: I know she demands justice for this. I mean, honestly, this is so ridiculous. It was entertaining. I feel bad for Sofia Coppola, because she's going to have to shut down this kid's account. But I would be pretty busy with my kid if they did this.
Nonetheless, it was creative and it was entertaining because it was so ridiculous. And you know, she's very good at it. You can see why TikTok is so addictive. It's really fun to watch, even though it's just, you know, it's nonsense what she was saying, absolutely. And she doesn't know what a shallot is, but I'm not going to go into that, you know, as someone who is from an Italian background, that's a shallot she has got in her hand. But --
ACOSTA: That was very --
ACOSTA: That was her Gen Z.
SWISHER: Yes. Yes, I get it. But she's a famous Italian family, she might want to understand how to make tomato sauce. But nonetheless, that's not my -- it's not my parenting style. But I thought it was wonderful. It was really wonderful and fun and everyone is having a good time, Jim.
And that's what TikTok is. Everybody has their own interest in it. That said, when I wrote a column about TikTok three or four years ago saying this thing is going to be big, it's so popular. It's so fun. It's so interesting. But I use it on a burner phone, because I'm concerned about the Chinese Communist Party.
ACOSTA: Do you think that's real?
SWISHER: So think about that? This is something that is addictive.
Look, I don't have any proof, but I know the Chinese Communist Party, it's a surveillance economy there. Time and time again.
And so I'm like, I don't know. But I'm going to just assume they're doing something. Either it is propaganda or surveillance. I'm not going to say that in Congress like it is absolutely happening. I'd like to find out if that's the case. And so that's the big issue is that they pull you in with something so addicting, and they could do it. And that's why there was an instance of reporters being tracked.
Now TikTok has said it's because it was a rogue employee, but the fact of the matter is, they could do it if they wanted to. And I can't imagine they're not because this is the world's greatest repository of information. It's not just TikTok, it is Facebook. It's all of them. They love to grab all our information, and that's the bigger issue. That's what Congress should be doing. They should have passed a privacy bill, they should have passed an antitrust bill, they should have passed an algorithmic transparency bill.
And so -- but they won't.
ACOSTA: And now, they are trying to catch up.
SWISHER: And instead, they get to, you know. Well no, they get to peacock on this issue of which they are going to have a hard time doing something about it. So we'll see if they can. We'll see. We'll just have to see.
ACOSTA: All right, Kara Swisher, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
SWISHER: All right. Thanks.
ACOSTA: Great to see you.
SWISHER: Get off, Twitter, Jim.
ACOSTA: I will, I'll try.
Russia in the meantime, just an incredible investigation from my colleagues here at CNN. Russia admitting it took children from Ukrainian orphanages and moved them to Russia. But it says the moves were humanitarian gestures not war crimes, if you can believe that. What we found in this CNN investigation, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ACOSTA: Moscow is not denying taking some Ukrainian children to Russia. Vladimir Putin is charged with war crimes because of it. But Russian officials say the moves were humanitarian gestures, not forced deportations.
CNN's David McKenzie and his team traveled close to the frontline to tell the story of one such alleged crime and how Ukrainians tried to stop it.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Approaching the southern front line in Kherson. In the liberated city, many have fled, it is deceptively quiet until the relentless terror. The often indiscriminate, almost daily Russian shelling.
We've come to investigate a very deliberate horror of the Russian occupation.
MCKENZIE (on camera): So the children who stayed here were under five years old mostly. This orphanage had more than 40 children here.
MCKENZIE (voice over): Helena (ph) was a nurse here for 17 years, not a single child is left.
(HELENA speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "I feel emptiness. Emptiness. Everything has just stopped," she says. "The children had everything. They were so happy. The children were happy."
Now, it's just silence and small reminders of them. Their names still on each locker, because some children's home is now a crime scene.
(HELENA speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "They warned us to collect their clothes," says Helena. "The Russians and collaborators called in the evening and said to prepare the children for the morning. The buses arrived at eight."
The heartbreaking scenes captured for Russian propaganda shared on a Russian MPs Telegram channel. The bewildered children taken from their beloved nurses in October, transported to Russian occupied Crimea or Russia itself say Ukrainian investigators.
But instead of hiding this alleged war crime, Russians advertised it.
(IGOR KASTYUKEVICH speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "Children will be taken to safe conditions in Crimea," he says. "I will definitely go and visit."
Investigators said it was part of a premeditated Russian mission to take Ukrainian children. They even targeted hospitals.
MCKENZIE (on camera): There was a lot of pressure by the Russians to take these children. Weren't you afraid?
(OLHA PILIARKSA speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "It was scary. Very, very scary. So much pressure," says Olha Piliarska. "Twice a day they demanded we show them lists of the kids to take to Russia."
So Olha and her team came up with an extraordinary deception. They hid orphans in the ICU and they forged medical assessments saying healthy children were severely sick.
They even faked an emergency ventilation she says.
(OLHA PILIARSKA speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "We understood that the Russians and collaborators would not forgive us," she says. "We knew there would be serious retribution. We understood this," but they took the risks and managed to save children.
And the critical care nurse took it a step further. Tetiana says she fell in love with one of the orphaned children. She worked desperately to keep the child off the list.
MCKENZIE (on camera): How are you?
MCKENZIE (voice over): Now she is adopting Kyra (ph).
MCKENZIE (on camera): Nice to meet you.
MCKENZIE (voice over): We met them at home, a Ukrainian mom with her treasured Ukrainian child.
Kyra is almost ready to walk.
MCKENZIE (on camera): What does she mean to you?
(TETIANA PAVELKO speaking in foreign language.)
MCKENZIE (voice over): "She means everything to me," says Tetiana. "I don't even know to be honest, I can't imagine my life without Kyra."
This awful war has given her a precious gift.
DAVID McKenzie, CNN, Kherson.
ACOSTA: Extraordinary report. CNN NEWSROOM continues in a moment. Stay with us.
ACOSTA: Actress and activist, Eva Longoria is deeply connected to Mexico, the country she calls her second home. Here is preview of her new CNN Original Series: "Searching for Mexico."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVA LONGORIA, CNN HOST, "SEARCHING FOR MEXICO": I don't know the secret to happiness. All I know is every time I eat Mexican food, I'm happy.
I'm Eva Longoria born and bred in Texas with Mexican-American roots.
I'm going to get a t shirt that says "more salsa."
I'm exploring Mexico to see how the people, their lands, and their past have shaped a culinary tradition as diverse as its 32 States.
Right here. Today, we are going to be making our food pilgrimage.
Look at that. I don't know if I've ever been this excited to eat anything.
(EVA LONGORIA speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: How do I do this? Cut it like --
LONGORIA: I was going to do this. That's why.
(UNIDENTIFIED MALE speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: Like this. You can also do that.
LONGORIA: The people here are so secure on who they are and where they come from.
(EVA LONGORIA speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: You are an artist.
LONGORIA: But you guys are amazing storytellers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate it.
LONGORIA: Mexico is going through a major makeover, to emerge as one of the world's greatest food destinations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what brings people to Mexico? The food culture. I fell in love with it.
(LONGORIA speaking in foreign language.)
TRANSLATION: Long live Mexico.
ANNOUNCER: Eva Longoria, "Searching for Mexico" premieres tomorrow at 10 on CNN. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And I had a chance to speak with Eva about that new show, you can hear that tomorrow, so tune in.
That's the news. Reporting from Washington, I'm Jim Acosta. Thanks for joining me this evening. I'll see you again tomorrow starting at 5:00 Eastern.
"The History of Comedy" is up next.
Have a great night.