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Sen. Tim Scott Becomes Latest Republican To Enter Race; Judge Enters "Not Guilty" Pleas For Man Facing Idaho Murder Charges; New Search For Madeleine McCann In Portugal After Police Receive Tip. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 23, 2023 - 07:30   ET



SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Objective is he's going to say is to run for president, which everyone does. But is he looking for something different -- vice president or potentially, a cabinet position?

JESSICA WASHINGTON, SENIOR REPORT, THE ROOT: Yes, I think that's definitely a possibility and that was something that I've spoken to political science professors about -- kind of, do you actually think Tim Scott is running? And obviously, we don't know. We're not inside his head.

But, I mean, it does seem like he has a very small lane to win, but could he end up in a Trump cabinet position? Is that something he's really thinking is much more of a possibility? I think that's definitely potentially true.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Switching gears here just because we have you guys -- brilliant political minds. I want everyone to listen to what James Comer -- Congressman -- Republican Congressman James Comer said yesterday. Obviously, he is the chair of the House Oversight Committee and this ongoing probe he has into Biden and the Biden family.

Here is what he said on Fox yesterday.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): You look at the polling and right now, Donald Trump is seven points ahead of Joe Biden and trending upward. Joe Biden's trending downward. And I believe that the media is looking around, scratching their head, and they're realizing that the American people are keeping up with our investigation and they realize something's wrong here.


HARLOW: So he's linking his investigation to Biden's poll numbers. It's reminiscent of what Kevin McCarthy said in 2015 vis-a-vis Benghazi and Hillary Clinton. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee -- a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping.


HARLOW: He, a few days later, walked that back, Errol, and said no -- now I didn't imply in any way that the work is political, of course -- it's not.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, HOST, "YOU DECIDE" PODCAST: Yes, OK. Well, it cost him the speakership in 2015. On the other hand, he's the speaker now. So perhaps the politics are changing.

I think what you saw from Comer is look, saying the quiet part out loud. Saying on national television what you would normally say in a closed room with donors or inside your caucus as you're making political strategy. It's nice that he sort of laid out for us exactly what they're doing.

I think there will be a backlash. I don't think Americans like to see their government being used in such a nakedly partisan fashion. I think it will cause a lot of people to discount whatever it is they come up with. And in the end, he may wish that perhaps he had kept his mouth shut.

HARLOW: Thank you, Errol, very much. Jessica, thank you. Great to have you.

SIDNER: All right. This fake image claiming to show an explosion near the Pentagon causing confusion and even spooking the stock market. How it came to be shared by multiple verified Twitter accounts and why some believe it could be AI-generated.

HARLOW: Plus, Mexico's most dangerous active volcano has roared back to life and it actually put millions of people there on alert.



HARLOW: This morning, millions of people in Mexico are being warned to prepare for possible evacuation as Mexico's most dangerous active volcano roars to life again. Local authorities say the volcano has been spewing ash onto several towns nearby. About 25 million people live in a 60-mile radius of this volcano, which is about 45 miles southeast of Mexico City. The volcano had been dormant for decades until it erupted in 1994.

SIDNER: What you're about to see is not a real image but the confusion it caused was, indeed, real. This picture purporting to show an explosion near the Pentagon was shared by multiple verified Twitter accounts on Monday, including an account falsely associating itself with Bloomberg News and a major Indian T.V. network, which later retracted the report. Even the stock market took a momentary dip shortly after the images started circulating.

Joining us now, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan. It is the real thing.

HARLOW: Clearly.

SIDNER: It is not an AI-generated version of Donie.


SIDNER: At the moment. This may change.

O'SULLIVAN: For now.

SIDNER: I know that all our jobs are in danger so -- but we'll start with this. Where did this image come from?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. So there's two parts to this and neither bodes well for the current information-misinformation environment we're in. They were shared by verified Twitter accounts, meaning accounts with those blue checkmarks, which essentially means nothing anymore since Elon Musk took over.

HARLOW: I was just going to say --

SIDNER: That's the thing. Verified means --

O'SULLIVAN: You know, the blue tick accounts before meant that the person running the account -- it had been --

HARLOW: Was actually the person.

O'SULLIVAN: That Twitter had proven that the person is the person --

SIDNER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- who said they are.

Now, anybody can get a blue tick --

SIDNER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- once they're willing to pay Elon Musk a few dollars a month.

So what happened was a bunch of accounts -- a bunch of verified accounts, including an account that falsely claimed to be linked to Bloomberg News, shared this image all of a sudden across multiple social media platforms as well as on Telegram and elsewhere, so it did seem pretty coordinated.

Then the other part of this, of course, is the image itself. If you look at the image there -- if you look closely, it doesn't actually look anything like the Pentagon.

SIDNER: No. O'SULLIVAN: But AI experts we spoke to say that there's lots of indications in that image that say -- that show that was made through artificial intelligence technology. So, two parts of this.

It ended up getting picked up by Russian state media --

SIDNER: Of course.

O'SULLIVAN: -- funnily enough, and a television network in India. And just as you mentioned, it led to the dip in the stock market. So even a pretty crude, fake image like that paired with some verified Twitter accounts can cause trouble.

HARLOW: It's scary.

SIDNER: We're in trouble.

HARLOW: Before you go, though, I was just looking for this update because what we saw late yesterday was TikTok hit back at Montana banning TikTok from use on any phones -- not just government phones, anyone.

SIDNER: Right.

HARLOW: We talked to a small business owner last week who uses it for her business.

Can you just speak to the legal grounds on which TikTok is standing?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. I mean, this is going to be a really interesting test case, right, for all the other states in the country. TikTok -- Montana trying to put in a total TikTok ban from January first of next year, as you mentioned.

We have heard from influencers -- from TikTokers in the state. I was talking to one TikToking mom last week from Montana and she said that her family's income tripled --



O'SULLIVAN: -- in the time -- in the time that she has had a TikTok account. So it's a real source of income for people.

But whether Montana is actually going to be able to do this or not? Of course, TikTok is saying it's a breach of the First Amendment. It also goes beyond the rights that states actually have. And people are also just saying that like technically, how could you do this ban?


O'SULLIVAN: Montana is pointing to how betting apps in states --


O'SULLIVAN: -- are blocked.

HARLOW: Well, they would fine the big companies that provide --

SIDNER: Right.

HARLOW: -- platform --


SIDNER: Not the citizens.

HARLOW: -- for it.

But China, interestingly, has called -- weighed in now and called this an abuse of state power because TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, which I am sure that TikTok comms team in the U.S. here --

HARLOW: Is like --

O'SULLIVAN: -- are so happy that the Chinese Foreign Ministry is trying to help make their case while TikTok here is trying to distance themselves from the Chinese --


O'SULLIVAN: -- Communist Party.

SIDNER: Donie O'Sullivan, you have to -- you have so much work to do. So much work. It just keeps coming at you.

O'SULLIVAN: Which we'll get -- we'll get an AI of me to do the work.

HARLOW: Just save the country from technologic --

O'SULLIVAN: No problem -- yes, sure.

HARLOW: -- advances like AI.

SIDNER: We are counting on you. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much for coming on this morning.

Now to the man accused of killing four University of Idaho students appearing in court and choosing to stand silent when asked to enter a plea. What that could tell us about his potential defense.

HARLOW: Also happening today, police in Portugal resuming their search for little Madeleine McCann who was a toddler when she disappeared from that family vacation. This is Madeleine back in 2007. We'll tell you the suspect that prosecutors are pointing to this morning.



SIDNER: The man accused of killing four University of Idaho students stood silent in a courtroom yesterday as a judge asked him to enter his plea.


JUDGE JOHN C. JUDGE, LATAH COUNTY, IDAHO: Ms. Taylor, is Mr. Kohberger prepared to plead to these charges?

ANNE TAYLOR, KOHBERGER'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Your honor, we will be standing silent.


SIDNER: He said nothing -- you saw there. Bryan Kohberger, in an orange jumpsuit, stared straight ahead in court yesterday. The judge then entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. Kohberger is facing four murder charges and one burglary charge.

Investigators accuse him of killing these four college students at an off-campus home in November. They believe he stabbed them to death while they were sleeping.

CNN's Jean Casarez is here. Jean, prosecutors now have to decide if they are going to seek the death penalty. But I do want to ask you first how unusual is it for a defendant to sit there and say nothing during a simple arraignment?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Sara, I've covered the highest-profile cases in this country for over 20 years now. I've never seen it. I have never seen it.

And so I looked up the law because his attorney stood up and said "Your honor, we are standing silent." Those were her actual words. Now, under the law, the judge has to then enter pleas of not guilty. But I looked up the Idaho Procedural Criminal statutes and they don't talk about standing silent. What they say is refusal to answer -- that's what they say. And when someone refuses to answer then that not guilty plea has to be entered. But I have not seen it.

And we could make assumptions all day --


CASAREZ: -- why he is doing it, right, but let's look at the facts.

His attorney is very astute. She is the most aggressive, most proficient death penalty-qualified public defender in Idaho.

Let's look at the defendant. He was a criminal justice -- he's got his masters.

SIDNER: Right.

CASAREZ: He was working on his Ph.D. Did he want to do this? Remember, the defendant's in charge of his defense, right?

And I just looked this morning -- a brand-new motion posted by the defense. They want all of the grand jury materials in their possession and they have asked the judge. The judge has agreed for a 30-day extension for them to file on any motions on this. So there could be a plan here with the defense that we don't know, but it's highly unusual.

You know, I looked at him yesterday in court as he was being read the indictment by the judge. Normally, you just look at the judge. That's what I've seen defendants do.


CASAREZ: He was reading it just like he was in a class, and he would look at his attorney and he would sort of smile. And he was -- his demeanor was very, very interesting just to watch.

But he has pleaded not guilty by way of the judge. The trial, at this point, is set for October second, so they better file this motion of intent to seek death, if they so do, very rapidly. There will be a hearing in June on the gag order.

SIDNER: These poor families. They're going to have to go through all of this all over again.

Jean Casarez, thank you.

CASAREZ: And Mr. Goncalves was in the courtroom.

SIDNER: He was.

CASAREZ: He tweeted out that he stared at him the whole time -- did not want to look away.


CASAREZ: He wanted to make it uncomfortable for him.

But he is innocent until proven guilty.

SIDNER: That's right. Thank you, Jean. I appreciate your reporting.

HARLOW: Thanks, Jean.

Well, this now. Police in Portugal are beginning a new search for British toddler Madeleine McCann. She was just three years old when she vanished from her bedroom while on vacation with her family in May of 2007. And now police are searching near a reservoir that's about 31 miles where she was last seen.

CNN's Scott McLean has the details.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Madeleine McCann would have turned 20 this month. Her family last saw her when she was three. She disappeared in 2007 during a family holiday in the Algarve region of Portugal. She was with her younger twin siblings while her parents were dining with friends nearby in the resort of Praia da Luz. The mystery of her disappearance gripped many across the U.K., Portugal, and Germany.


On Tuesday, Portuguese police, at the request of German authorities, will search a reservoir near the Portuguese city of Silves, around 50 kilometers from Praia da Luz.

Over the past 16 years, police have searched numerous wells and properties in the area, including this one, which was searched in 2008. It is unclear whether it's connected to Christian Bruckner, the German suspect first named in the case in 2020. Bruckner, a convicted sex offender, lived in the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 in an apartment about a mile away from the resort where the McCanns were staying.

He's in prison in Germany for the rape and murder of a 72-year-old woman committed in Portugal at the same resort.

He has not been charged in McCann's disappearance and denies any involvement. But one German prosecutor said he believes she was killed by Bruckner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes you so certain that Madeleine McCann is dead?

HANS CHRISTIAN WOLTERS, PROSECUTOR: We have some evidence for this. We have no forensic evidence but we have other evidence.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Her family cling on to the hope that she could still be alive.

GERRY MCCANN, MADELEINE MCCANN'S FATHER: No parent is going to give up on their child unless they know for certain that child is dead and that we just don't have any evidence.


MCLEAN: So police sources say that they are looking for evidence of Bruckner's activities in this area. The last time that it was searched it was done in the water. This time, though, there are divers and boats. Most of the searching seems to be taking place on land.

And Poppy and Sara, German prosecutors, it seems, have some level of circumstantial evidence in this case but under German law, they have to be able to prove to a judge that they could secure a conviction. And the clock is ticking right now. Bruckner is serving a seven-year prison term and he has already completed more than half of it.


HARLOW: OK. Scott, thank you very, very much. Her whole family, obviously, in our heart as they continue to look for her. Thank you.

SIDNER: The writers' strike enters its third week. How networks are now working to try and strike-proof their fall lineups.

HARLOW: And happening overnight, a man is charged with threatening to kill or harm a president -- the president, after crashing a U-Haul into a security barrier near the White House. What investigators found at the scene.




So, a large number of Hollywood studios and sets are dark still this morning as roughly 12,000 film and television writers continue this strike into the third week. They're demanding a new and fair contract, they argue, with the industry's major studios, saying the Writers Guild proposals on the table would, yes, cost the industry $429 million a year but it would yield, they argue, $19 billion in original content for streaming services this year alone.

This latest shutdown not felt since the Writers Guild of America strike that took place 15 years ago. That means many scripted projects have been put on hold. It has affected everything from late-night television -- I'm sure you miss that -- to award ceremonies, to game shows as hosts sit out in a show of solidarity.

Let's bring in senior TV editor from Variety, Brian Steinberg. Brian, it's great to have you.


HARLOW: What -- and by the way, this is going to be much more complicated with the Directors Guild about to come and what they're going to do. But is this going to be 100 days-plus like last time?

STEINBERG: They're pretty dug in. I do feel like this could last for quite a while.

HARLOW: Dug in -- can you explain the difference. Because if their real argument is streaming is different. The way it's distributed is different. We need to be compensated for that, not the traditional way of compensation. And they don't seem this far apart -- they seem this far apart. Are they?

STEINBERG: They are. Both sides are really under a lot of scrutiny. The writers feel they can't make a living doing eight episodes of this on Netflix --

HARLOW: Right.

STEINBERG: -- on episodes here on Paramount. Plus, for the studios, the big media companies are under all kinds of duress -- financial duress right now thanks to streaming and making the jump from linear to TV to streaming. The economics are different. And they are under a great deal of pressure as well from Wall Street.


SIDNER: How do you strike-proof a line-up? That seems --

HARLOW: That is such a good question.

SIDNER: -- weird to me, or hard.

STEINBERG: It is hard and I think the -- that's the networks' own nomenclature.

SIDNER: Right.

STEINBERG: Strike-proof. It's really -- we'll find out. But what you do is you use a lot of unscripted shows -- reality, competition programming, documentaries, news side stuff, sports. Big on sports. Last week, we (INAUDIBLE) everyone trying to sell their ads for that next fall season.


STEINBERG: Lots of sports. Disney did an hour on sports and then came in with other things -- Marvel and "Star Wars" later on.

HARLOW: Right.

You wrote about that in your piece after the upfronts and this was a really interesting part of what you wrote in your opinion piece.

"Sports and news, however, are perishable -- immediate, now. You still have to tune in at the exact moment that it airs in order to derive maximum enjoyment from it. And that draws the large, simultaneous crowds that McDonald's and Apple need to generate the impressions" -- talking about advertisers --


HARLOW: -- "that make cash registers ring and revenue flow."

This is a trend that was already emerging, right --


HARLOW: -- but this strike accelerated it.

STEINBERG: That's correct, and they've put a lot more pressure on it. You know, we've all -- everyone is migrating from watching primetime dramas and comedies to watching something on Netflix or Amazon. But now, look at this. Now there's -- by fall, there will be very little on come 10:00 on Wednesday, and so you're going to probably -- you almost --

HARLOW: CNN will be on. We'll be here. STEINBERG: That's right, CNN and sports. CNN -- news, sports -- that will be on. That you can guarantee. That's so-called strike-proof.

SIDNER: Is there a fear on the part of writers that this will accelerate? Because of the strike that this will accelerate? And to be fair, I mean, we do want scripted programming.



SIDNER: I mean, like this shouldn't go away. But because of what's happening, because they're moving to doing things like reality TV a lot more, is there a fear on the part of the writers that like uh-oh, this might make this a faster turn?

STEINBERG: I'm not sure. You know, that's a great question. I think the unintended consequence of what their action is they want fair pay and fair conditions but at the same time, may help accelerate a trend that could backfire on them in some -- to some degree -- absolutely.

HARLOW: Wasn't this what caused the rise of reality TV? It was the last strike?

STEINBERG: It helped, certainly.

HARLOW: Yes, I just wanted to know.

STEINBERG: And you see that as a -- you see on all of the offerings -- "GOLDEN BACHELOR" from ABC. You know, there are all kinds of -- CBS announced yesterday they're going to run "BIG BROTHER" a week later than usual so it can go into the fall season. You're seeing what's going to be -- what's going to be on the air very soon.

SIDNER: I'm getting depressed because I really like beautifully written, scripted --


SIDNER: -- thoughtful stories and it's --

HARLOW: Of course, and they're so talented --

SIDNER: They are.

HARLOW: -- these writers.

SIDNER: They are.

HARLOW: Brian, thank you --

SIDNER: Thank you.

STEINBERG: See you guys. Thank you.

HARLOW: -- very much. CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.


NBA ANNOUNCER: James on the drive, goes inside. Blocked and gets it back. It's over! It's over! Denver makes history. The Nuggets are going to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.


HARLOW: Good for them, right?


HARLOW: I was definitely not up to see the game --

SIDNER: And neither was I.

HARLOW: -- but great for them.

Good morning, everyone. We're glad you are with us. Sara is by my side today -- Sara Sidner. So glad to have you.

And the Denver Nuggets.