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Princess Kate Returns Home After Abdominal Surgery; Manchin Could Upend Biden Campaign And Blow Up "No Labels"; Three U.S. Troops Killed, 30+ Injured In Jordan. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 29, 2024 - 07:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: A lawmaker from New York just proposed that actually, like, a week ago. We'll see if it goes anywhere. But you're right, it's shocking that there's nothing yet.

SINEAD BOVELL, FUTURIST TECH ENTREPRENEUR, FOUNDER WAYE: Absolutely. And I think things have been introduced but nothing has actually moved the ball enough to pass.

States have kind of taken it upon themselves and there's this hodgepodge of patchwork pertaining to deep fakes, whether it's in elections, in politics, or deepfake nonconsensual pornography. But we don't have consistent federal regulation across the board. And I think that this realty highlighted that this is missing.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: To the point you're making, in the Taylor Swift case, this is stuff that has been around for a long time. What is AI or, kind of, this moment for AI done to almost turbocharge what we've seen?

BOVELL: So, AI has essentially been a threat or risk amplifier and multiplier. It has made access to these tools incredibly easy. The ability to create widespread harm at scale with very few resources. And we can expect the AI's capabilities to continue to improve, but with that progress there is going to be a lot of good but also the ability to cause harm with less and less resources going forward.

HARLOW: Let me ask you about on the flip side of that. You talk about how it is an amplifier -- AI can be -- of this harm. Can it also be a solutions amplifier and magnifier at scale, meaning can it help prevent this at a greater scale if used the right way?

BOVELL: It certainly can. So a lot of social media platforms, for instance, at this point in time use AI to try to flag certain things that are inappropriate and they use AI for content moderation. And I think that that's actually essential. We don't have the human capacity to be able to go through just the pure volume of posts that happen on social media.

But I don't think that that's sufficient. I think we need to make sure that there are legislative changes that are made both at a platform level and in terms of what we can do with these AI tools, to begin with.

MATTINGLY: Short of that, before the November elections -- look, what happened in New Hampshire was jarring. I know we'd all been expecting it.


MATTINGLY: But you listen to the call. You realized how close to the actual vote -- day of voting it was happening and you thought oh, wow, this is going to be a mess in November.

Is it basically just up to the campaigns and their supporters to find this stuff and flag it or is there some other universal way this can be stopped, blocked, handled?

BOVELL: At this point in time it is just -- and I think we were even lucky that this was caught because they included a lawmaker's -- or Democrat's --


BOVELL: -- number.


BOVELL: And other than that I don't think they would have caught it.

But at this point in time there is no standardized procedure for what to do. And it does seem to be up to voters, which I think is largely unacceptable. So I do think if there is federal legislation mandating none of any sort of AI for the use case of manipulating elections or voting -- that should be completely banned. There's no win in making that not banned or keeping that behavior allowed.

HARLOW: One of the issues now is that it's so much easier for the average person to use AI in nefarious ways than it was a couple of years ago when it was sort of last at our fingertips.

Sinead, thank you.

BOVELL: Thanks for having me.

HARLOW: A key negotiator says a bipartisan border deal has been reached and it could be ready to go on the Senate floor in just the coming days -- maybe this week. Could Republicans side with Donald Trump, though, and tank it?

MATTINGLY: And the speculation continues. Will Joe Manchin run for president? New CNN reporting about all that and more next.



HARLOW: This just in. Princess Kate of Wales is home. She's returned home from the hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery nearly two weeks ago. This comes from Kensington Palace.

Max Foster joins us with more. Do we have details on how she's doing this morning?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: We do. We haven't been told, still, what the surgery was exactly for but she was in the hospital for 13 days, so quite a recovery process. It was just on her abdomen as far as we know.

This statement from the Palace: "The Princess of Wales has returned home to Windsor to continue her recovery from surgery. She is making good progress." So some positive news there.

The Windsor home is the one nearest the kids' school, so that's why they're based there this time of year. They wanted to thank the hospital. They wanted to thank all the well-wishers from around the world.

Also, a source telling me the princess is now recuperating at home. Her official return to duties will depend on medical advice closer to the time, so there will be a period of recuperation at home.

And the Prince of Wales, Prince William, will be at home as well with her supporting her. He won't return to work until she's ready to pick up the childcare duties effectively.

I have to say, quite an amazing job, Poppy, that they managed to get out of the hospital without all the photographers noticing because they are absolutely surrounding that hospital. It's the same one where the king is recuperating as well after his procedure on Friday. He's actually been in for three days now, so we're hoping to get an update about him as well.

HARLOW: We're glad she's recovering well and home with her family.

Thank you, Max.

MATTINGLY: Well, Sen. Joe Manchin is no stranger to flirting with the idea of a third-party presidential run, but new CNN reporting reveals that this time around it's different. It could involve blowing up a shaky effort by the bipartisan group No Labels.

Joining us now with that new reporting, CNN senior reporter Isaac Dovere. It's a great piece --


MATTINGLY: -- that you have. And I think the big question I have is when it comes to Joe Manchin and No Labels, and the ability of the two of them to connect into a single entity, what's the plausibility of that, and who would have the power dynamic there?

DEVORE: Well, look, it's a lot of questions about this, to say the least. You have had -- you had him on here. You guys have both spoken with him. We all know that Joe Manchin tends to flirt and say he's going to do

things and get people talking about him. That's what he's doing here. He's saying privately maybe if Donald Trump is convicted or if Joe Biden has a health scare there would be this opening for a third-party centrist option with him doing it.

But he would be looking to do it on the ballot line that is being secured in states all around the country by this group called No Labels.

That said, No Labels isn't necessarily committed to having him be the person on the top of the ticket and has been really unclear even with members of their own leadership about how they're going to decide who they would put on that ballot line, whether it would be a Republican or a Democrat. Who would get to influence the decision? How they would decide not to be a spoiler. And all these questions that are out there.

Manchin saying to me as I traveled in New Hampshire with him that he does not want to be part of any kind of spoiler effort. He thinks Donald Trump was bad for the country. He thinks Joe Biden is a decent man, he told me, but has gone too far to the left.

So we are going into a period here where Manchin is deciding what to do. No Labels has said mid-March is when they're going to decide what to do. And it's yet another question mark even as we get into 2024 here in this election year.


HARLOW: Isaac, what do we know about what is going on right now with No Labels? I mean, you mentioned it's not a surety that they would want him at the top of the ticket, for example. What else do we need to know because I think people are increasingly hearing No Labels, No Labels?

DOVERE: Yeah, and look, I spent a lot of time talking to members of the No Labels leadership. I said do you know how -- who is on the list of people that you're considering? Do you know how you will decide which one of those people will be the candidate? Do you know who will decide? Do you know how you're going to decide who will decide? None of those things I could get a clear answer on.

Joe Lieberman, former Connecticut senator, obviously had been a Democrat and then was an Independent.

HARLOW: Um-hum.

DOVERE: He said to me eventually, this will crystalize into a process.

But like I said, they've set mid-March as their deadline for deciding this. We're not that far from mid-March and they still -- a lot of them don't seem to know what the plan is at all.

MATTINGLY: Do you think they have a plan or are they just -- and they're just being coy with you, or do you think they're just like hoping one eventually comes to fruition?

DOVERE: Well, the plan has changed a lot of times. And at one point, they were going to have a big convention in Dallas, they were saying. That fell apart. So we don't know what's going on here.

And again, Manchin is going forward on his own. He has started his own group called Americans Together and a lot of what he is doing here is trying to get the donors who have been donating to No Labels to start donating to that instead and to try to essentially usurp the role that No Labels has had in the political conversation over the last 10 years.

HARLOW: Yeah. We urge everyone to read your reporting. It's up on Really interesting stuff. Isaac, thanks very much.

More on the developing --

DOVERE: Thank you.

HARLOW: -- story this morning. Three U.S. troops have been killed and more than 34 injured in that drone attack in Jordan. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby is with us next.




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a tough day and last night in the Middle East. We lost three brave souls in an attack at one of our bases. And we shall respond.


A significant escalation in the Middle East over the weekend; President Biden vowing to respond after a drone attack on the U.S. outpost in Jordan killed three U.S. Army soldiers and injured more than 30 servicemembers. It's the first time that U.S. troops have been killed by enemy fire in the region since the war in Gaza began. Officials say Iran-backed militants are behind the attack and appeared to come from Syria. Although military leaders have not specified which group is responsible, Iran has denied any role.

Let's turn now to White House National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby.

Admiral Kirby, I appreciate your time this morning. To start there, do you have a specific attribution into -- in terms of who is responsible? And do you believe it was in- -- an intentional effort to escalate in the region?

KIRBY: We're still working our way through the attribution, what group was specifically responsible for this, Phil, although I think we have a pretty good sense. And we certainly believe that -- that the group was supported by Kata'ib Hezbollah, which is one of the main IRGC, Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed groups in Iraq and Syria that have been conducting so many of these attacks on our troops and our facilities.

As for response options, the president is working his way through that right now. I had a good meeting yesterday with the national security team. We're still -- he -- he still has decisions based ahead of him and I -- I won't -- I -- I won't certainly get in front of that. As you heard him say, we will respond. We'll do it in a time and a manner of our choosing, but we know the serious consequences here of this particular attack.

The last thing I'll say here before I stop this -- this long answer with you is that, obviously, our -- our thoughts and prayers are -- are with the families of all those affected, and the troops that are going through care, some of them for serious wounds right now. But there are three families over the weekend, three American families that got just the worst-possible news ever, and we want them to know that we're with them and that we'll continue to support them.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, we share that here, as well.

To the intent, is it the belief that this was an intentional escalation? Or was this supposed to be in line with the 100-plus attacks we've seen prior?

KIRBY: There -- there has been no question, Phil, for now many months that these groups are -- are trying to threaten our -- our troops and facilities, and that means trying to do it in a lethal way. So in -- in this particular attack, they -- they did kill three American servicemembers and then, again, wounded 30 more. So this one had lethal consequence in ways that previous ones didn't. But that doesn't mean that the intent in the previous attacks weren't also lethal; it's just that we were able to defeat them.

MATTINGLY: Which raises the question -- I think it was a question that was raised by Senator Roger Wicker, the -- the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, who said, "The administration's responses thus far have only invited more attacks." If -- if that has always been the case of the dozens of attacks that have happened before now, and they have continued...

KIRBY: Right.

MATTINGLY: ... is that accurate, that the responses thus far have not stopped this, there's been no deterrence, and therefore, there have been more?

KIRBY: Well, I certainly can't deny the fact that there have been a -- a series of attacks now increasingly lethal over weeks and months, which is why the president is going to be reviewing what the appropriate response is going forward. We don't want to see these attacks continue, and we want to make it clear that they're unacceptable. We also want to make it clear that we'll do what we have to do to protect our troops, our facilities, our national security interests in the region. Those are the options that the president is weighing right now, and we're going to take this very, very seriously. MATTINGLY: Some of your Republican critics have said, "Hit Iran. Hit them hard." That's Lindsey Graham. John Cornyn: "Target Tehran." This is not a first for them. They are hawkish on this issue, and they would say that...

KIRBY: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: ... pretty much any day that ends in "Y." However, in this specific case, should the American people assume that targets within Iran are on the table right now?

KIRBY: I certainly am not going to talk publicly about the options before the commander in chief and -- and the decisions that he has to make right now. He'll do this in a -- a time and a manner of his own choosing and we'll -- and we'll respond -- as he said, we'll respond, and we'll respond in -- in -- you know, in a very consequential way. But we don't seek a war with -- with Iran. We're not looking for a wider conflict in the Middle East. In fact, every action the president has taken has been designed to de-escalate, to try to bring the tensions down. And obviously, this attack -- very, very serious, certainly escalatory on the behalf of -- of these militia groups. We -- we have to take that seriously and we will. But I'm not going to get ahead of the president's decisions base one way or the other.

MATTINGLY: On a separate topic, CIA Director Bill Burns was in Paris meeting with his intelligence counterparts related to a hostage release proposal, or proposals that have been out there. Can you give us an update on where that stands currently?

KIRBY: The talks are -- have been sober. They've been serious. I would go so far, Phil, as to tell you they've been constructive.


Now, I want to be careful here. I -- I don't want to sound too sanguine. There's a lot of work that has to be done to try to get another hostage deal in place that would result in a -- in a significant pause in the fighting which would allow not only the hostages to get out, but aid to get in and bring down civilian casualties. There's a -- there's a lot of promise here, and there's been very good discussions with the Qataris, with the Egyptians, with the Israelis. But -- but we're not over the finish line right -- right yet, and so I can't tell you here this morning on Monday that -- that we're -- we -- we've got a deal that's imminently about to be announced. But we feel pretty good about the discussions and where they're going, and -- and the promise of something potentially pretty significant.

MATTINGLY: On another striking development over the weekend, the U.S. paused funding to the U.N. agency in Gaza over allegations that some of the staffers were involved in the October 7th terror attacks. Have you seen the dossier, the -- the specific information that the Israelis have presented?

KIRBY: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: And does that lead you to believe that that pause will be long-term?

KIRBY: We have seen the information that the Israelis collected, and I would note that UNRWA, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, brought these to our attention, and they are taking it very seriously. They're conducting an investigation. We want to let that play out. These are serious allegations aga- -- against a -- about a dozen employees of UNRWA that were allegedly involved in the October 7th attacks in various capacities.

We're glad to see the secretary general is taking this seriously, and again, investigating it. We're glad that he said that, look, he's going to hold anybody responsible properly accountable, to include, potentially, criminal prosecutions.

Now as you know, Phil, we've paused our funding to UNRWA pending the results of this investigation. We'll see where it goes and what our options are going forward.

I do want to say -- it's really important. We've got a dozen employees here that -- serious allegations. But the -- we shouldn't let that impugn the work of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which has more than 10,000 employees across the region, and certainly in Gaza, and have literally helped save thousands of lives. So while this is very serious and it needs to be taken that way, I think we also need to remember and not to impugn the good work of the entire agency.

MATTINGLY: It is critical funding at a critical time, as well.

John Kirby from the National Security Council, we appreciate your time, sir, as always. Thank you.

KIRBY: Yes, sir, thank you.

HARLOW: Despite the highest interest rates in decades, Americans are still spending at a record. What the latest report about economic growth says about Americans -- both how they're spending at home and around the world.

MATTINGLY: And look at this. The Mona Lisa definitely not smiling after two people hurled pumpkin soup at her. Luckily, the iconic painting was spared a direct hit. It is protected by a glass case at the Louvre. The video posted by an environmental group demands access to healthy and sustainable food as farmers in France protest against low wages and over-regulation.

We'll be right back.



HARLOW: Some economists this morning scratching their heads following another really strong U.S. economic report. The latest GDP numbers, showing how much our economy grew, proved Americans are still spending a lot despite the highest interest rates in 23 years.

Vanessa Yurkevich joins us with more. Good morning.


HARLOW: What do you have to tell us about how the U.S. stacks up against other economies around the world in terms of growth?

YURKEVICH: A lot of Americans may be feeling like the U.S. hasn't recovered quickly enough or strong enough, but when you step back and look at it compared to the rest of the world we're actually doing pretty well.

One of the ways we can see it is in GDP. So look at U.S. GDP just for the third quarter. It grew by 3.3 percent. That was a lot. Compare that to the U.K., down .2 percent. Compare that to Japan, down 2.9 percent. So when you put it into perspective it shows that there's strong, robust growth in the U.S. compared to other countries.

Another way that we can tell that the U.S. has really grown, we spent a lot on stimulus money during the pandemic. Other countries did as well, but we spent a lot. We spent $5 trillion in stimulus. This was going -- a lot of this -- right into Americans' pockets so that brought excess savings during the pandemic. People were saving. Some were spending and rent and utilities, but a lot of Americans were saving.

Just one country, Singapore, spent more on stimulus for people in their country than the U.S. did.

And another way that people can really sort of feel how the economy is doing is gas prices, right? That's what we spend every day when we're going to the pump. Even on home heating costs and natural gas.

The U.S., in 2023 -- so, last year -- here's where we started. We started right there. This was 2023 compared to 2022 -- just above zero percent. But it was volatile this year, but we were able to make this recovery and end up right about there.

If you compare that to the U.K., though, look where the U.K. started. They started 100 -- nearly 120 percent above where they were in 2022. They had a long way to go. This was very difficult for many people in the U.K. This was a difficult recovery for people.

In terms of where we are now with gas prices, we're doing pretty well here in the U.S. But if you compare that to other countries it's a lot better.

MATTINGLY: Consumers are clearly driving this.


MATTINGLY: You pointed to the stimulus slide and I think that's really interesting.


MATTINGLY: Is that the reason why? Is it because people just have more money? Is it the U.S. response that drove this entire thing?

YURKEVICH: That -- I think we can see consumer spending in GDP --


YURKEVICH: -- because that drives GDP. So that's where people are spending and that's why we have such strong growth. We have it because, yes, there was stimulus in people's pockets.