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Five People Shot And Killed Almost Execution Style In Texas; First Evacuation Of U.S. Citizens From Sudan Completed; Experts Fear Sudan Is At Risk Of A Humanitarian Disaster; People Trapped In Homes Face Shortages Of Food, Water, Medicine; Convoy Of U.S. Evacuees Reached Port Sudan On Saturday; DHS Official, Border Facilities Exceed Capacity Amid Influx; New Biden Immigration Plan Aims To Stem Border Crossings; Biden Refuses To Negotiate On Debt Limit As Pressure Mounts. Aired 6-7a

Aired April 30, 2023 - 06:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Sunday, April 30th. I'm Amara Walker.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. It is the back half of the weekend now.

WALKER: My favorite day.

BLACKWELL: Make it yours. You know, mine is Saturday.

WALKER: Really?

BLACKWELL: OK. All right.

WALKER: Sunday is like my big family day. I get to grill out and hang out and no wake-up time.

BLACKWELL: Well, good. You've got something planned. I hope you do too. Make it count. Here's what we're watching for you this morning.


JAMES SMITH, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOUSTON FIELD OFFICE: He is a threat to the community and we need the community's help to, hopefully, locate him soon.


BLACKWELL: Texas police and the FBI are looking for a man who allegedly killed five of his neighbors. The youngest victim just eight years old. The simple request that led up to this shooting.

WALKER: Private U.S. citizens trapped in Sudan amid the conflict are out of the country. The evacuation coming amid growing anger from Americans who felt abandoned by the U.S. government as the conflict broke out. How this convoy came together and what happens next. BLACKWELL: A tornado watch is in effect across parts of Florida this morning a day after severe storms rolled through the state flipping cars, snapping trees. We'll pinpoint the areas we're keeping a close eye on and the biggest concerns with these storms.

WALKER: Plus, deep sea census. We will take you inside the plan to discover 100,000 previously unknown marine species just ahead on CNN THIS MORNING.

We begin in Texas where the search for a suspect accused of killing five of his neighbors, including an eight-year-old child, has gone cold. Investigators are looking for 38-year-old Francisco Oropeza.

BLACKWELL: He is accused of killing five of his neighbors almost execution style police say after they asked him to stop shooting a rifle outside.


SHERIFF GREG CAPERS, SAN JACINTO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: He could be anywhere now. The tracking dogs from Texas Department of Corrections picked up the scent and then they lost that scent in the water.


BLACKWELL: CNN's Ryan Young takes us through now what led up to the shooting and the urgent search for that suspect.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara and Victor, this manhunt continues into the next day because police are still looking for the man that they believe shot and killed five people. Francisco Oropeza is the man that the sheriff's deputies say was caught on a Ring camera walking into a home using an AR-15 style weapon, killing five people, including an eight-year-old child.

What we learned is that according to the sheriff's deputies the people next door asked Mr. Oropeza to stop shooting his gun on his front porch. When that happened he apparently walked over, opened fire, killing the five people in the home. The FBI at one point and the sheriff's deputies believe they were tracking a device. The device has been found but the man hasn't. Take a listen to the FBI talking about this all out manhunt.


SMITH: We consider him armed and dangerous and we are not going to stop until we actually arrest him and bring him into custody. But he is out there and he is a threat to the community. So, I don't want anyone to think that something is different than that. He is a threat the community and we need the community's help to, hopefully, locate him soon and take him off the streets tonight.


YOUNG: The sheriff's deputies and the FBI believe Oropeza may have changed his clothing as well. Now, they are hoping the public who sees this picture can help locate this man that they have been searching for. There were also two women who were found dead inside that home who appeared to be covering two other smaller children.

When you look the ages of the people who lost their lives here, you are talking about a 25-year-old, a 21-year-old, a 31-year-old, an 18- year-old and unfortunately an eight-year-old who was shot and killed execution style in this home after asking this man a simple request to stop shooting from his porch. Victor and Amara, so many questions about what happens next. But obviously, the FBI has taken over on this manhunt.

BLACKWELL: Ryan, thank you so much. Now, to crisis in Sudan. Eyewitnesses tell CNN that they heard gunfire close to the presidential palace in Khartoum early today. Others reported violent clashes in the center of the capital. You see here smoke rising over the city.

WALKER: So, as the fighting continues, thousands of foreign nationals have left Sudan and the first U.S. effort to evacuate private American citizens has been completed. CNN Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann with the details.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This convoy for private American citizens out of the Sudan comes with growing pressure on the administration and on the State Department to do more.


Some of those American citizens in Sudan have spoken with CNN, have described their feeling of frustration and anger at what they see is a lack of action from the administration to get them out. And that's compounded by the fact that we have seen so many other countries go into Sudan and either in Khartoum or near Khartoum to get out their citizens and some American citizens.

It was last weekend that we saw the U.S. send in military helicopters to get out U.S. embassy staff, family members and some other nationals, but since then the administration has maintained that it's simply too dangerous to go in and the situation isn't stable enough. Now, we see the U.S. arranging this convoy. It's not run by military personnel and there is no U.S. military going in, but it is contracted through the Defense Department with overhead surveillance from DOD and run through the State Department.

The state won't say how many people were on this convoy, but they do say that over this convoy, other countries' convoys and other military aircraft hundreds of U.S. citizens have evacuated the country. So, they were taken from Khartoum to Port Sudan, hundreds of miles. There are U.S. Navy ships in Port Sudan and then those American citizens were taken to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia where they'll get assistance continuing on their way.

The process played out over several days. On Thursday those American citizens in Sudan who were looking to leave and were in touch with the embassy and had valid travel documents were told essentially to be ready. On Friday they got the heads up, have some food ready, some water and one travel bag, and that's when the convoy left later to try to get all of these -- some of these American citizens out.

The question, how many more want to get out? The State Department says if you are an American citizen in Sudan and want to leave, get in touch, suggesting there may be more efforts, Victor and Amara.

WALKER: Oren Liebermann, thank you. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more wounded in the violence in Sudan. And now experts say the country is at risk of a humanitarian disaster. As those trapped in their homes face shortages of food, water, medicine and electricity.

BLACKWELL: CNN national correspondent David McKenzie is following that part of the story. David, we've talked a lot about the warring factions here, the RSF and the Sudanese army. We have talked about the foreign nationals who are leaving. But give us the details about those people who are living there, who are staying there and what they are going through.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, Amara, as you say, there has been a lot of focus on the many different foreign nationalities getting out of Sudan either by road or by air. You notice those Americans seem to have got in safely to Port Sudan. But within the country millions of people are facing these horrible conditions of violence and a lack of food and water.

A bright spot, though, around 100 miles north of Khartoum, the capital, people have taken in other Sudanese who traveled north giving them shelter, giving them food. Some of them taking many thousands of families, in fact, into their home in that area of relative safety. It shows that people are trying to pull together without the support of the international community. Here is one community leader.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are sheltering victims of the indiscriminate shelling and indiscriminate war in Khartoum. Residents of this city have full heartedly decided to receive all groups coming from Khartoum, those who have connections with the city and those who haven't, all the people of Sudan.


MCKENZIE: That was in Shendi. In the capital over the past week or so we have been in constant contact with Dr. Howida (ph), a doctor who is dealing with an incoming deluge of people who have been injured by multiple gunshot wounds. They say they are running out of oxygen, out of bandages, out of medicine, out of all kinds of critical health infrastructure that's needed to save the lives of people.

And then, of course, those who aren't directly affected by the violence also need medication for things like cancer, of course, and diabetes and even just the long running illnesses that they cannot get. The vast majority of hospitals are closed in the capital. We got this heartwarming video from Dr. Howida (ph) of newborns that have been recently born in that hospital, born into a country that was peaceful just days ago and now they face a very, very uncertain future. Victor, Amara.

BLACKWELL: David McKenzie for us there. David, thank you so much. Let's bring in now retired Air Force colonel and CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton. Colonel, good to see.

Let's start on this U.S. organized convoy to remove American civilians, citizens and others. Is there anything obvious here that suggests that this was a conditions-based reversal to now work to evacuate American citizens versus one based on optics or public pressure? And how much do optics or public pressure inform these decisions?


COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. Good morning, Victor. I think optics and public pressure have a great deal to do with this particular situation. You know, when the State Department first talked about Americans being evacuated, they left everyone to at least have the impression that they would be on their own. And in this particular case, it's pretty clear that public pressure and, quite frankly, the scenes that are forthcoming from Khartoum played a role indicating that, you know, other countries are doing this, other countries are getting their citizens out. The U.S. needs to step up and get their citizens out as well or at least try to do that. I think public pressure played a large role in making this happen.

BLACKWELL: So when the U.S. government said a week ago, and this was Saturday morning, actually, that we were reporting that the government employees, the embassy employees, they had been successfully extracted from the country, but it would be too dangerous to gather up all the U.S. citizens who want to leave. While other countries were doing it, what would make one more difficult than the other?

LEIGHTON: A lot would depend on local conditions and those conditions at the moment. A lot of it is based on the intelligence assessment as to whether or not there is going to be fighting, let's say, near the airport or right on the airport. There were some reports last week saying that there was a lot of fighting between the RSF and the regular army right around the airport. So, you know, caution was certainly something that needed to be, you know, part of the calculus here.

But the other problem is, is that, you know, when but get into a situation like this, it's -- you need the diplomatic leverage and you need to be able to talk to all the different forces on the ground, and it seems as if the order was kind of reversed here. You know, civilians should be out first, diplomats second. And in this case, they reversed that order.

BLACKWELL: You know, you talked about talking to all the different parties involved. The State Department's spokesperson says that there were intensive negotiations to enable the departure of thousands of foreign nationals, as we said, including Americans. This was U.S. organized, supported, but the convoy was not led by the military. Talk to us about what those negotiations likely looked like.

LEIGHTON: Yes. So it's always interesting. You know, when get into a situation like this, you have to have contacts with the different factions, and sometimes you need to have the assistance of other countries, countries like, let's say, in this case Saudi Arabia that have a better handle on some of the local factions that are fighting in these areas. And sometimes the forces that you're dealing with are actually divided among themselves and knowing that -- knowing who the players are, knowing who is the local commander and knowing who the overall people who are responsible for things, that becomes a key element here.

So when you have these negotiations, you have to expect them to go wrong or at least to be difficult, but there are certain pressure points that you can exercise on some of these forces and those are the things that you have to do. You have to tell them, you know, that there will be consequences if there is firing on the civilians, for example. There are consequences if you don't let this happen. And you also try to appeal to their better natures and that's something that, you know, has to be done with a degree of finesse and sometimes, you know, it's -- that finesse is something that is lacking when dealing with situations like this.

BLACKWELL: It's obvious that doing this in the middle of a war zone is obviously dangerous. You mentioned trying to figure out if there would be firing on civilians. And this is something I genuinely do not know if Americans would be the targets of either the Sudanese army or the RSF. I mean, would either group have any interest in kidnapping or killing Americans like we saw in Afghanistan?

LEIGHTON: Yes. So, in the case of Afghanistan, we had a lot of, you know, clear American involvement and there was a clear reason for the Taliban or ISIS or, you know, some other group to try to extract ransom from kidnapped Americans. That was definitely a possibility in the case of Afghanistan.

With the Sudanese situation it seems as if there is not that much of an interest on the part of either the RSF or the army to do something like that. I don't think the army would do that. There are certain relationships between the Sudanese army and the American military that while they are not strong, they would probably not go that far.

But on the other hand sometimes these things are unpredictable and with the involvement of groups like the Wagner group from Russia it's very possible that they might decide to make some money before they let anybody go.


So, it was almost a possibility and continues to be a possibility in Sudan and that's something that has to be considered as these evacuations are planned.

BLACKWELL: Yes. As Oren suggested that potentially this call for any Americans who are left who want to leave to get in touch because this could happen again, another convoy. Colonel Cedric Leighton, thanks so much.

WALKER: A Homeland Security official says detention facilities along the U.S./Mexico border are overcapacity. The concerns that the situation is only going to get much worse in the coming days.


WALKER: New developments on the recent migrant surge here in the U.S. A Homeland Security official tells CNN detention centers at the southern border are beyond capacity.

BLACKWELL: And in just a couple of weeks the Biden administration will lift pandemic era health restrictions that could spark a larger influx of migrants overwhelming border patrol facilities.


CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has more.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: A Homeland Security official tells me that as of Saturday morning there were more than 20,000 migrants in Customs and Border Protection custody along the U.S./Mexico border. That is overcapacity. And while those numbers fluctuate, is an indicator that there is an increase in migrants crossing the U.S./Mexico border ahead of the May 11th date. That is when Title 42, a COVID era border restriction, will end.

And since March of 2020 that restriction has allowed authorities to quickly expel certain migrants at the U.S./Mexico border. They will no longer be able to do that after that May 11th date. So that means that the administration will go back to decades-old protocols.

Now, that is difficult at a time of unprecedented mass migration in the western hemisphere. And so, administration officials have been putting preparations in motion. That includes, for example, setting up regional processing centers so that migrants on their way to the U.S. southern border can a apply to come to the U.S. legally, doing the same thing with other programs for other nationalities so that they don't have to come to the U.S./Mexico border and can apply to come from where they are.

But they are also reminding migrants that they will restore legal consequences when this Title 42 restriction ends. Now, you of course, this is an issue that has been a political vulnerability for President Biden and has opened him up to criticism from Democrats and Republicans. So, all of this is front of mind as the administration moves ahead in trying to manage the flow of migration ahead of that May 11th date. But even with all of that in place, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas anticipates the next few weeks will be challenging and also noting that smugglers are prone to spreading misinformation. Amara, Victor.

WALKER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you. And here to share his insights on the Biden administration's response to the migrant crisis and more on today's top political stories is "Politico" White House reporter Daniel Lippman. Good morning. Great to see you. Daniel, I mean, May 11th is less than two weeks away, the expiration of Title 42. So, let's start with the Biden administration's plan to handle this influx of migrants after Title 42 expires. So, the White House recently announced new measures, right, including those regional processing centers in Colombia and Guatemala that Priscilla just talked about where migrants can come and apply to come to the U.S. Daniel, can you talk about this balance that Biden is trying to strike, discouraging these border crossings at the same time creating a legal pathway for migrants fleeing poverty and violence?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. He doesn't want to be seen as too draconian because a lot of his base is pretty pro- migrant and wants to make sure that we are following American values of welcoming immigrants, people who are fleeing persecution or violence abroad. But at the same time, they recognize the political reality, which is that there is a lot of Americans in swing states who don't want to see our border get overwhelmed and our border states get too kind of clogged with migrants, you know, coming to their country.

And so, I think those migration processing centers are going to be helpful, but at the best they sometimes can handle 6,000 people a month, when we're expecting double that number per day coming into the country and who are getting turned away. And so, I think the Biden administration is going to be trying to send a strong message that if you come to America you are going to be turned -- you're going to be turned away and that the laws apply to all people coming into the country.

WALKER: I mean, this could turn into quite a vulnerability, right, for President Biden as he runs for reelection in 2024. I mean, how big do you expect this immigration crisis to play?

LIPPMAN: I think people who are very anti-immigrant or are kind of in the Stephen Miller mold of how they see immigration they were never going to vote for Biden in the first place. But I think those suburban parents and those voters who are more swing voters, they are a -- you know, they want to moderate on the issue. They don't want to have open borders, which we don't and never had, but they still want to make sure that we are protecting the country, that we are kind of seeing who is coming into the country and that Biden is trying to solve the root causes of this issue.

And so, we have had Vice President Harris go to Central America a number of times to try to address those issues to make sure that we can kind of build those countries from the ground up economically. But that's a very tough long-term play. It's not -- we have so many areas on our own country that are suffering economically. And so, it's going to be hard to make very poor countries into middle income countries where people want to stay overnight.


And that takes a really long period of time.

WALKER: So, from one intractable issue to the next let's talk about the debt ceiling fight, Daniel. President Biden has been challenging Republicans, hey, show me a plan. Well, Kevin McCarthy did.

Yes, it was a narrow vote, but he did pass a debt limit bill on Wednesday. Look, at some point there is going to have to be a conversation, right, between the House speaker and the president. When might that happen and who has the upper hand in these talks?

LIPPMAN: Over the next couple weeks where the debt ceiling seems to be getting ever closer, and because federal tax revenue is not as high as we expected, we are going to hit it sooner rather than later. And so, I think it's hard to see who has the upper hand, but I think both sides want to avoid a default. That would be horrible for both Republicans and Democrats politically because it's a divided government. They have to hash it out.

But both sides are pretty far apart on the actual policy in terms of Republicans want to pass a debt ceiling through the Senate increase with spending cuts and those work requirements for Medicaid. I thought it was interesting that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said, oh, ignore the actual policy and the real world effects. He told his members that because this was more of a messaging bill. This is a bill to get him that meeting with President Biden. And then as, you know, when we see a few weeks away from the debt limit, then I think then we will see real negotiations.

WALKER: Got it. Well, Daniel Lippman, unfortunately we are out of time. I wanted to ask you about the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Quickly, did you have a good time?

LIPPMAN: It was a lot of fun. You know, I think Biden had a good message in terms of telling Russia and Syria to release those journalists, Evan Gershkovich and Austin Tice. And that was very heartwarming to hear the kind of back to normal in terms of White House correspondents.

WALKER: Yes. I can't tell that you were up all night and that you just rolled in. Kidding. I don't know that you did that. But, Daniel Lippman, thank you for joining us this morning.

LIPPMAN: 2:00 a.m. I had a flight at 2:00 a.m. Thank you.

WALKER: Wow. All right. Looking good for that. Thanks so much, Daniel.

BLACKWELL: You are hard on Daniel Lippman.

WALKER: What? I told him he was looking good.

BLACKWELL: All right. Coming up, more than 35 million people are at risk for severe weather today. We'll tell you where the risk is the greatest. That's next.



WALKER: Across the country, it has been a weekend of severe weather. Take a look at this. This is in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where a possible tornado touched down on Saturday.

BLACKWELL: This is what it looked like after the storm. You see here cars just flipped over, thrown in all directions, debris everywhere, power lines downed. One witness said he hid in his bathroom during the storm and that he could feel the building shaking.

WALKER: Today, more than 35 million people face the risk of severe weather, including those in parts of Florida, where that tornado watch has been issued for places like Miami, Key West, and Orlando.

BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Allison, what happened and what are we expecting today?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): Yes, we do know that there was some storms that went through yesterday. They did end up causing some damage. You saw the flipped cars. There was some damage to an apartment complex around the West Palm Beach area yesterday, having a lot of storm reports spread out across the state. So, it's not like there was just one portion of Florida that got hit versus another. You had tornado reports, wind reports, hail reports, spread out over the state.

More of the same expected today, mainly in the first half of the day. You've got this tornado watch that's the entire red area here in effect until 2:00 p.m. A lot of this, however, is going to drop off well before that. Some severe thunderstorm warnings mixed in there. This is that main line that's going to slide across the state as we go through the next few hours.

Further north, however, we also have the potential for some strong to severe thunderstorms across areas of the East Coast and especially in the Mid-Atlantic. Damaging winds, a few tornadoes, and hail will still be issues there as well.

Most of the rain exits by lunchtime in Florida. However, off to the north, it really starts to ramp up in the afternoon hours, especially across the Carolinas, and Virginia, portions of Maryland. And then the main focus across the northeast is really just going to be very heavy rain because it's going to be one wave after another.

And a lot of that rain still even lingers into Monday morning, so you may have a very soggy Monday commute in the northeast tomorrow.

WALKER: All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you.

And still ahead, students are protesting controversial speakers on college campuses nationwide and erases the question, is free speech dead at universities? We'll take a closer look.



BLACKWELL: The fight over the rights of transgender people has become a flashpoint in American politics. WALKER: As Elle Reeve reports, invitations by conservative student

groups to controversial speakers have raised questions about free speech on college campuses.


CROWD: Trans lives matter! Trans lives matter! Trans lives matter!

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): That's conservative podcaster Michael Knowles being burned in effigy at the University of Pittsburgh last week. Knowles is most famous for this one line in his speech at CPAC this year.

MICHAEL KNOWLES, CONSERVATIVE PODCASTER: Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.

REEVE: And he was brought to pit by a conservative group to debate whether the government should regulate what the group calls transgenderism. When he was met by a rowdy protest outside, such student protests have sparked a bigger debate about whether kids these days no longer have the appetite to debate controversial issues on campus.

Is Free Speech dead on campus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Obviously, he is speaking right now. We are not shutting him down. We don't want him to speak. Hopefully, we can drown him out. We are right now enacting our right to free speech just the way that he is.

CHRYSTAL, RESIDENT, PITTSBURGH: You can't debate intolerance. If someone wants to inflict harm on you, are you going to debate them in putting harm on you? No.

KNOWLES: Thank you very much. It's very kind of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trans rights is human rights.

CROWD: Trans rights is human rights.

REEVE: As the debate started, some protesters were removed. Speakers who oppose trans rights have sparked protest nationwide. At universities in Iowa, Utah, and New York just in April. Last month, Stanford law students heckled a federal judge about his record on trans rights. The law school's dean scolded the students in a public letter but declined CNN's request for an interview.

Do you think kids are less able to take or listen to opposing views now?


JESS KLEIN, INSTRUCTOR, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH: No, I don't think they're less able to listen to opposing views. I just think they take less crap as they get older and realize that hate speech is hate speech and free speech is free speech. And I do believe the two things are very different from each other.

REEVE: These speakers are often brought to campus by outside conservative groups, such as the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and the Young America's Foundation. Then the university has to figure out how to deal with the backlash. Afterward, those groups sometimes post videos of the event in which students are humiliated.

MARY ANNE FRANKS, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW SCHOLAR: It's not a coincidence, right, that these events keep unfolding the way that they do. It's a deliberate strategy on the part of these organizations to try to find a controversial speaker, try to provoke the liberal students into having a reaction, and making sure all of that gets filmed and edited in a certain way that makes those students look as bad as possible.

REEVE: ISI's president told CNN that it has no institutional strategy to provoke a backlash. But it picks speakers who are substantial and provocative. YAF said it brings speakers who engage in healthy exchange of ideas with students with opposing views.

FRANKS: I think we do need to step back and say, what do we want out of this conversation? There needs to be some kind of reason to put it in front of people. And I think very often what gets skipped in these invitations is in place of value you get controversy.

REEVE: More than 11,000 people sign an online petition against Knowles and two other conservative speakers invited to Pitt. The school went forward with the events, saying it upholds the principles of protected speech and expression, though that speech can contradict the school's values.

Knowles had been scheduled to debate Professor Deirdre McCloskey who's trans but McCloskey pulled out the week before, telling CNN that Knowles was not a serious person. Then ISI, the sponsor, offered trans writer Charlotte Climber $10,000 to sub in. She said no.

$10,000 is a lot.

CHARLOTTE CLYMER, WRITER AND ACTIVIST: Oh, yes. $10,000 is a lot of money. That would have paid off my car. That's half a year of rent.

REEVE: Have you ever been offered that much?

CLYMER: No. Not even close.

REEVE: What does that say to you?

CLYMER: It says they're willing to pay anything to grow their entertainment enterprise. I don't know why trans folks are expected to accept the premise that our humanity is up for debate. If it were a debate on whether or not to allow racial segregation back in society, we wouldn't have a debate about that. That would be unacceptable.

REEVE: Finally, gay libertarian podcaster Brad Polumbo agreed to debate Knowles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Polumbo, it's awesome that you can come here and put short notice. How much would they pay you to do with it?


REEVE: Knowles, through a spokeswoman, declined an interview with CNN. And despite its emphasis on free speech, ISI demanded media not feel more than the debate's opening remarks. But once the event got going, no one ushered the media out.

JOSH MINSKY, VICE PRESIDENT, COLLEGE REPUBLICANS AT PITT: Michael Knowles is a big speaker. He shouldn't be able to speak and have freedom of speech. And sadly, that's kind of being shut down in modern societies as you can see outside.

REEVE: But would you have a panel where someone spoke about whether or not there should be legal murder?

MINSKY: No. Because murder is objectively wrong and you're killing someone. But I would not put that on the same side.

REEVE: What was that?

MINSKY: As I said about shutting down free speech, I think this is a very good example of the fact that clearly, something's going on here.

REEVE: That boom was an incendiary device set off outside the building, according to a university statement. No one was injured, but some buildings were temporarily shut down.

Do you think the point of this debate is to try to convince people in this room or to convince people on the Internet?

MINSKY: I think it's both. I mean, the goal of the event is not to make some uneducated leftist kid feel like an idiot. I hope there's lots of people here that ask questions opposing those and are able to do so respectfully.

REEVE: So, the protesters burned Michael Knowles an effigy, which is protected speech.

CLYMER: It is. I wouldn't do that, though.

REEVE: Why not?

CLYMER: It's too violent. It's too aggressive. In fact, it's counterproductive because what they do is they take an image of that, they spread it online, and they say, see, this is what the movement is trying to do. They are going to burn anyone in effigy who disagrees with them.

REEVE: She says this generation is different, but not because it's more fragile.

CLYMER: As millennials, you and me, I think that we were taught to stand in for what we believe in. But we were also taught that there is a certain amount of abuse that we need to take in order to push the ball forward. And Gen Z, for them, they refuse to accept premises that are dehumanizing.


REEVE: Why do these debates over rights for minority groups always get converted into debates over free speech?

FRANKS: When someone backs you into a corner and says, I don't like your ideas, the easiest thing for you to say is, oh, well, that's because you don't like my free speech. It's because you want to censor me. And it's really the coward's way of trying to deal with any argument. Your answer should be, here's why my ideas are interesting and why they're important, not invoking some kind of quasi constitutional gloss for what you have to say.

REEVE: Elle Reeve, CNN, Pittsburgh.


WALKER: Fascinating report.

All right, coming up, ever wonder about what kind of marine life might be hidden in the world's oceans? Researchers are working to identify 100,000 unknown species. We'll discuss next.



WALKER: Going into the vast underwater unknown. Researchers are embarking on an ambitious initiative to discover new marine life in the world's oceans. The goal of the Ocean Census is to identify 100,000 unknown species over the next 10 years.

BLACKWELL: Scientists believe there are about 2.2 million species living in the ocean, and only about 10 percent have been discovered.

Oliver Steeds is the director of the Ocean Census. He joins us now.

Oliver, good morning to you. The first thing, when I saw this headline, and I started to read it, and I thought, how are they going to find 100,000 new species in 10 years? And then I learned that in the previous census that ended, I think in 2010, 6000 were found. So, how are you going to figure this out?

OLIVER STEEDS, DIRECTOR, OCEAN CENSUS: Well, the speed in which we discover new species is pretty much the same as the 1800s. It's been basically flat line since then. So, what we're going to be doing is harnessing some new technologies around high-resolution imaging, DNA sequencing, and machine learning.

And when you combine that with a network of expeditions going on around the world, with all those species coming back to a network of different laboratories and scientists working on that, we think we are able to discover that vast number, 100,000 new species, new forms of life over the next 10 years. WALKER: And in terms of the array of species you expect to find, I

mean, are they mostly going to be tiny? Because I know that back in 2020, the world's longest sea creature was discovered off the coast of Western Australia, a 150-foot string-like animal.

STEEDS: Absolutely. That was the siphonophore, one of my favorite animals. And that's what I think is so extraordinary about it. As you say, 2020, that's when we found the largest -- the longest animal in the world. But it was also, I think, 2021 when we discovered a new whale, a baleen whale in the Gulf of Mexico. So, we do expect to find large animals like the siphonophores, like the whales, new sharks, and other things, but also find some smaller creatures.

But when you zero in on them with the high-resolution imaging that we have, their characteristics, their color, their wonder, will come to life. So, we're looking forward to finding everything big and small.

BLACKWELL: Oliver, I was surprised, and I learned this back during the coverage of the disappearance of MH370, about just how much of the oceans we have not explored. There's a lot that we don't know. Why haven't we gone into these depths to these areas to find these species, to learn about these waters before now?

STEEDS: Well, that's a very good question. I mean, I think a lot of it just comes down to the finances, because we do have the technology available to us now to discover more about our ocean, more about our planet in the next 10 years than we have arguably in the last 1000. So, we have the technology to able to do that. We just need the willing, we need the finances to do it.

WALKER: And what about climate change? I mean, how does that impact this expedition in terms of it being potentially a race against the clock?

STEEDS: Well, as we know sadly, the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis are combining, and we could expect to lose the majority of species in the coming years. So, it is a race against time. We need to discover things before they are lost. And you know, we have four billion years of our evolutionary heritage, which is in our oceans. So, life has existed on the planet for four billion years. And that's three -- and life has existed in our ocean for three times longer than on land.

So, as those life has evolved, we need to try and understand that evolutionary heritage before it is lost because of these great challenges which we face from climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis.

WALKER: Well, we wish you and your team all the best as you embark on this expedition to find 100,000 unknown species. Fascinating stuff. Oliver Steeds, thank you.

Well, as the United Kingdom prepares to crown King Charles III, what does this moment mean in the modern world? Make sure to catch the whole story with Anderson Cooper tonight at 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN. We'll be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLACKWELL: A big fun night in Washington. All your favorite White House correspondents and reporters, they're in D.C. And a lot in New York are probably stealing bed or just getting home.

WALKER: Or still up.

BLACKWELL: Or still out for the White House Correspondents Dinner.

WALKER: That's right. Comedian and the Daily Show Correspondent Roy Wood Jr. delivered this year's roast and he spared no one poking fun at politicians, of course, members of the media and President Biden.


ROY WOOD JR., CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY SHOW I loved the name. As a matter of fact, let me just say right now. My favorite voting machine is Dominion Voting Machines. When I go to the polls, I make sure it is a Dominion machine that I use. If your election needs the truth, put Dominion in your booth. Yes.

The Trump arrest was like a pot brownie you ate four hours ago. You're like, do I feel justice? This don't feel like justice. Let me travel to them Georgia arraignment brownies. Maybe that'll hit.

Keeping up with Trump scandals is like watching Star Wars movies. You got to watch the third one to understand the first one. Then you got to -- you can't miss the second one because it's got Easter eggs for the fifth one. Donald Trump is the only politician who scandals got spin-offs on Disney Plus.

Many of you, I don't even think you should be working that hard. We should be inspired by the events in France. They riot it when the retirement age went up two years to 64. They riot it because they didn't want to work till 64. Meanwhile, in America, we have an 80- year-old man begging us for four more years of work. Begging.


WALKER: That was a good line. We saved the best for last, I guess.

BLACKWELL: He was good. He was really good. He's good.

WALKER: Yes, really good. Great delivery.

All right, the next hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now.