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CNN Tonight

Special Counsel's Probe Of Trump's Efforts To Overturn Election Intensifies With Major Moves; Trump, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) Trade Barbs On Campaign Trail In Feud; U.S. To Send Cluster Munitions To Ukraine Despite Concerns; New Movie On Child Trafficking Becomes A Box Office Hit; Parents Of Parkland School Shooting Victims Visit Untouched Scene After Five Years; Several School Districts File Suit Against Tech Giants. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 07, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We are showing it right now. We'll also share it online, this called Support Family of Murdered Afghan Interpreter. It goes to them. Thank you for doing that and thank you for joining us on this difficult subject.

JERAMIE MALONE, FRIEND OF NASRAT AHMAD YAR: Thank you so much for having me.

COLLINS: Thank you Jeramie.

And thank you for joining us. CNN TONIGHT, with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kaitlan, and that is really a horrible story. I hope people will go and support that GoFundMe account for his family. Thanks and good evening to everyone tonight.

Is Donald Trump getting closer to another indictment? The former president has already been indicted twice now for two separate alleged crimes, a hush money scheme and the classified documents saga. And now, he is potentially facing yet another.

Special Counsel Jack Smith's investigation into Trump's efforts to overturn the election, it's clearly escalating this week. CNN has learned that Smith is focused on a chaotic shouting match that you might remember unfolded at the White House, six weeks after the election.

Now, that is where these baseless ideas were floated to block President Biden's victory, including martial law and seizing voting machines. Here are some of those who were in attendance at that meeting in their own words.


PAT CIPOLLONE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I walked in. I saw General Flynn. I saw Sidney Powell sitting there. I was not happy to see the people in the Oval Office. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Explain why.

CIPOLLONE: Well, again, I don't think they were providing -- well, first of all, the Overstock person, I've never met, I never know who this guy was. Actually, the first thing I did, I walked in, I looked at him, and I said, who are you? And he told me. I don't think any of these people were providing the president with good advice.

The three of them were really sort of forcefully attacking me verbally. Eric, Derek and we are pushing back, and we were asking one simple question. As a general matter, where is the evidence?

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I mean, if it had been made sitting in his chair, I would have fired all of them that night and had them escorted out of the building.

ERIC HERSCHMANN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think it got to the point where the screaming was completely, completely out there. I mean, we got people walk in, it was late at night, it had been a long day, and what they were proposing I thought was nuts.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: I'm going to categorically describe it as, you guys are not tough enough. Or maybe I'd put it another way, you're a bunch of pussies. Excuse the expression, but that's -- I'm almost certain the word was used.


PHILLIP: And beyond that meeting, more signs of this investigation is nearing a climax. Arizona has become the focus of those coup efforts, the secretary of state's office and several officials confirming subpoenas.

Georgia, still a focus, as we recently learned that Jack Smith compelled at least two fake electors to testify in return for some immunity. And unlike the documents case, this one is much more complicated and more wide-ranging. There are many key questions that are still unanswered, including are any of these actions and were any of those proposed ideas against the law?

Now, joining me now is former Federal Prosecutor Joseph Moreno. So, Joseph, from what we know, is there a chance that the ideas raised in that Oval Office discussion would rise to the level of a crime? And if so, what would they be?

JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Hey, Abby, good to be with you. Well, it's interesting, because, obviously, what we heard, there were a mix of lawyers and non-lawyers at that meeting. And so, right off the bat, you have a problem with privilege and keeping it confidential.

You can have strategy sessions with lawyers. You can spitball ideas. You can talk about the path and developing a defense. What you can't do is potentially talk about future crimes, right? It cannot be a strategy session for doing wrong in the future. And having lawyers there does not protect it and make it privileged. So, what it sounds like is the special counsel is digging into whether there were potential crimes effectively being plotted at that meeting. And whether you call it seditious conspiracy or something similar, it's basically, were there plans to instigate violence, to rile people up to the extent that the election results would not be accepted and that people would basically lead to violence in trying to stop Congress from signing off on the Electoral College vote.

PHILLIP: So, our sources are telling us that the special counsel has been asking witnesses about this meeting for months, in the past, and also again more recently.


So what does that tell you about how investigators are looking at this, and also where they are, even in the investigation?

MORENO: Well, it tells me that they're probably close to the end of their investigation, because this is such a touchy subject. They must realize they're going to get a lot of blowback and they have to tread carefully, which makes me think that they're close to the end because they wouldn't have done this closer to the beginning knowing the blowback it would bring.

And, basically, again, what they're trying to say is, look, we'll give that group of people some leeway. They could have taken a few weeks after the election, in good faith, to look into whatever theories they thought they may have.

But by the point of this meeting, it was so clear that, like Pat Cipollone said, where's the evidence? And, if they're basically throwing around ideas about how to be tough, knowing that there was no evidence to substantiate their arguments, that's a pretty damning thing, and I can see why the special counsel will want to dig into that.

PHILLIP: Also at the heart of so much of this is Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and an attorney for former President Donald Trump, he was one of the witnesses that was interviewed recently. And also today, a disciplinary committee is now recommending that he actually be disbarred for his 2020 election lies.

They're saying, quote, he claimed massive election fraud but had no evidence of it. By prosecuting that destructive case, Mr. Giuliani, a sworn officer of the court, forfeited his right to practice law. He should be disbarred. That recommendation is not final, but do you think it's fair?

MORENO: Well, look, we lawyers -- I mean, everyone likes to hate on lawyers until they need one, right? But the fact is we are given a lot of leeway. And as officers of the court, we are given leave to make good faith mistakes. We can be wrong on the law, we can be even wrong on the facts.

What we can't do is, we can't make arguments that have no evidentiary support. And that's what basically the panel said was that Rudy Giuliani, resting on his long reputation as a political figure, made these very, very ambitious claims that the Pennsylvania findings of the election in 2020 should be discarded. And, basically, what it came down to, he had no evidence to support those claims.

And so I don't know if he will eventually be disbarred, but, certainly, there is significant evidence the panel found that what he did was not just wrong, it was so wrong that his license to practice law going forward should be revoked.

PHILLIP: And not just wrong, but perhaps he knew at the time, because he was told by people around him, that it was wrong as well. Well, Joseph Moreno, thank you so much for all of that.

MORENO: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And tonight on the campaign trail, the war of words escalates between Donald Trump and his closest 2024 rival. The former president bragging about his strong poll numbers even in the wake of one federal indictment and possibly one more coming.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That's why my polls go up. I'm the only person ever got indicted who became more popular.

Never forget our enemies want to stop us because we are the only ones that can stop them. We can stop them.

They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I think if you look at the people, like the corporate media, who are they going after? Who do they not want to be the nominee? They're going after me.

I'm running to win in January and February. I'm not running to juice polling now.


PHILLIP: I'm joined by former Republican Congressman and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

FMR. REP. MARK SANFORD (R-SC): Yes, ma'am, a pleasure.

PHILLIP: Look, Trump continues, as is probably not surprising to you, to cast himself as a victim here of DOJ overreach. And these indictments do seem to be helping him right now in the polls. My question to you is why won't his Republican opponents use his legal peril to make a case against him?

SANFORD: Because they want his base. And so you're trying to tiptoe through this thing. But I think that comes at great peril. I mean, it's the exact same thing that we saw in the last election cycle wherein nobody really wanted to hit Trump that hard because they figured he'd die off, and then he ended up being the last guy standing. I remember Ted Cruz at the very end then would turn on him, but he was sort of befriending him all the way through.

So, it's a dangerous game but I get it. What they don't want to do is alienate Trump's base, and so they're trying to keep quiet, tiptoeing. But, again, I think it's a mistake. I think they ought to hit hard. I think they've got a lot of material to work with. Facts are real things and there are scary facts and scary indictments out there that are already talked about in this presidential cycle on the Republican side.


So, we'll see what happens. But right now, the simple answer is, they want his people.

PHILLIP: So, you heard there earlier Ron DeSantis saying he's not wanting to juice the polls right now. But before he got into this race, he was supposed to be the candidate who would give Trump the biggest fight. Are you surprised by his poor performance so far?

SANDFORD: Well, it's early in the game. So, I'm not going to describe this as a poor performance. Everybody is sort of lining up behind the scenes right now, raising money, building teams, all the sort of apparatus, if you will, that goes with politics.

But what I would say is everybody has got to manage the game of expectations. And the game of expectations, tragically, again, because I'm not a Trump fan, has accrued to Trump's benefit because he's had two indictments against him, yet his numbers are still rising. And the game of expectations with regard to DeSantis has not worked out so well.

I think one of the dangers that Ron is playing right now is trying to be sort of Trump on steroids with regard to sort of social issues. I think that there are really deep problems in this country with regard to the debt that's mounting, government spending, inflation, historic bedrocks of what Republicans used to be about, but they're not getting talked about, Ron is not talking about him, other candidates aren't talking about him. I think if that comes back to the forefront rather than sort of who's winning the popularity contest of the moment, I think his numbers would grow. We'll see what happens.

PHILLIP: Yes, we will see. Meanwhile, the Florida GOP is asking primary candidates to sign a loyalty pledge in order to appear on the ballot in that state. It's very similar to what the RNC is doing when it comes to the debate stage. Do you think that these loyalty pledges should be a part of your party's primary?

SANDFORD: No. Again, I believe in the war of ideas, and there ought to be robust competition on both the Democratic side and the Republican side as to this is what we stand for, this is what we believe. And in as much as you have a standard bearer that is at odds with those beliefs, then you as a candidate ought to be free to say, well, look, I'm sitting this one out. I mean, because in this case, the standard bearer is not consistent with the ideals that supposedly we believe in as Republicans or as Democrats. So, I don't think it's a good idea but it's a way of boxing people in, and it's something that's, you know, seen through the years. You've seen it particularly strong here lately into the Trump era, but it's been around for a while.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about this. The House Freedom Caucus voted this week to remove Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from their ranks. This is what one of the members told CNN, which is that the confrontation between Congresswoman Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, that was the last straw on the House floor.

The Freedom Caucus is a body that you were yourself a part of when you were in the Congress. What's your response to their decision to take actually that extraordinary step?

SANDFORD: Well, I mean, I applaud them. And she's been far-out crazy for a long time. I don't know why it would take somebody calling somebody a name on the House floor to get you there. That's a separate discussion.

I would say, I'm disappointed in what the Freedom Caucus has become. You know, originally, it started as a group of folks who were going to try and steer the conference a little bit to the right, because that happened to be our perspective, particularly on economic issues. But then it became simply a Trump lapdog wanting to hang on to or be close to power.

It was with glee that the chairman would hold up a conference phone, say they got the president of the United States on the phone. But it's also the reason that somebody like Justin Amash said, I'm out of here, I'm leaving. He left the Freedom Caucus because it had become so untethered from the ideas that it originally stood for.

So, it's sort of adrift. I don't know what it's about these days. Maybe it will come back around. But the fact that this was the last straw, it's a straw that should have gone a long time ago, because this is somebody talking about all kinds of crazy conspiracies that I think are harmful to both Republican ideals that are conservative ideals -- I don't know what Republican ideals are anymore -- but conservative ideals that we ought to be about advancing, and, frankly, democratic process.

PHILLIP: Yes. It is very interesting that this is what it took. In addition, probably also to her closeness to the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, as well, which rubs some of her colleagues the wrong way.

Mark Sanford, always good to have you, thank you very much, sir.

SANDFORD: Yes, ma'am. Take care.

PHILLIP: And next, a major inflection point by the U.S. in wartime.


REPORTER: There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians. [22:15:03]

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It was a very difficult decision on my part.

The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition.


PHILLIP: Hear from a former defense secretary on President Biden's decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine.

Plus, he's the movie star who promotes QAnon conspiracies. And now, his film just hit number one at the box office. Stay with us.


PHILLIP: Cluster munitions, warheads that explode over wide areas, ones that human rights groups call a threat to civilians. And today the U.S., after hesitating since the start of the war, are now sending them to Ukraine. The clusters are banned by a 100 countries, but even though the United States is not one of them, there's a history of American officials referring to their use as war crimes.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: We've seen videos of Russian forces moving exceptionally lethal weaponry into Ukraine which has no place on the battlefield. That includes cluster munitions and vacuum bombs, which are banned under the Geneva Convention.

REPORTER: There are reports of illegal cluster bombs and vacuum bombs being used by the Russians. If that's true, what is the next step of this administration, and is there a red line for how much violence will be tolerated against civilians in this manner that's illegal and potentially a war crime?


PSAKI: It is -- it would be. I don't have any confirmation of that. We have seen the reports. If that were true, it would potentially be a war crime.


PHILLIP: Two Democratic senators now calling the move a serious mistake in a Washington Post op-ed, and they're warning that this could compound the deadly impact of the war for years. But President Biden defending his decision today in an exclusive interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BIDEN: Two things, Fareed, and it was a very difficult decision on my part. And, by the way, I discussed this with our allies, I discussed this with our friends up on the Hill, and we're in a situation where Ukraine continues to be brutally attacked across the board by munitions, by these cluster munitions that have dud rates that are very, very low -- I mean, very high, that are a danger to civilians, number one.

Number two, the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition. The ammunition -- they call them 155 millimeter weapons. This is a war relating to munitions. And they're running out of those, that ammunition, and we're low on it.

And so what I finally did, it took the recommendation of the Defense Department to, not permanently but to allow for in this transition period where we have more 155 weapons, these shells, for the Ukrainians, to provide them with something that has a very low dud rate, It's about -- I think it's 150, which is the least likely to be blowing. And it's not used in civilian areas. They're trying to get through those trenches and those -- to stop those tanks from rolling.

And so -- but it was not an easy decision. And it's not -- we're not signatories to that agreement, but it took me awhile to be convinced to do it.


PHILLIP: I'm joined now by former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Secretary, you heard there what President Biden said, that this was not an easy decision. They deliberated over it for some time. But with Ukraine waging this tough offensive, and it's going slowly, more slowly than most people expected, is the administration, in your view, making the right call?

WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE UNDER PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think the president has said it just right. It was a tough decision on his part, but the right one. We have a situation where Russia has attacked a sovereign, independent country and has put them in the crosshairs of destruction.

So, President Biden and our NATO allies have said this should not stand. We need to provide whatever we can reasonably to the Ukrainians to help them, help themselves defend against the Russians.

So, I think that under the circumstances, the president felt because this is going -- the counteroffensive is going slower than we anticipated and hoped, it's been going slower because of the trenches, because of the land mines, this is a munition that can help overcome that, and that's the reason why he's approved it.

PHILLIP: The other part of it, though, is, as you also heard the president say, the United States is low on the munitions that they have been providing to Ukraine. The stockpiles now in the United States are low. Is this a sign that this war in Ukraine is consuming United States military resources at an unsustainable rate? COHEN: It is consuming our resources. Whether we can sustain this for any period of time, it's hard to say at this point. The president and our NATO allies have said, we are in this for the long haul. So, in the meantime, we are trying to accelerate the production of more 155 munitions.

This stockpile that we have of the cluster munitions is a result of -- we phased them out, I think, in 2016. So, we have a large stockpile of them. Those will be used in the interim until our manufacturers can really accelerate the production of the conventional munitions, as opposed to the cluster.

PHILLIP: And you have a really unique view on this as well. Back in 2001, you instituted a policy requiring the United States to have those munitions that have a less than 1 percent dud rate, which means basically the parts that don't explode when it is deployed. What does it mean for the safety of these weapons for that rate to be as low as it is for the U.S.-provided weapons to Ukraine?

COHEN: We have really delved into this. We've had leadership taken until we get that dud rate from 20 percent historically, going back as far as World War II. But over the years, we used them in desert storm, for example, and we've used them since.

But to get that dud rate down below 20 percent to between 1 and 2 percent, I don't think any other country has been able to do that.


The Russians, by the way, their dud rate is 30 percent. So, they have no concern about killing civilians. In fact, they are firing those munitions into civilian areas as opposed to what the Ukrainians want to do, and that's use those munitions against the Russian soldiers in the field, not civilian areas. So, they're really not comparable in terms of what Ukraine wants to do and what the Russians have been doing.

PHILLIP: And we were unfortunately witnesses to exactly what you're talking about early on in the war, seeing those bombs exploding in urban areas and in towns in Ukraine. So, former Secretary William Cohen, thank you for that perspective.

COHEN: Sure, great to be with you, thank you.

PHILLIP: There's a new movie, Sound of Freedom, and it is a box office hit right now. It's a thriller about the battle against international child sex trafficking. But critics accuse the film and its star, Jim Caviezel, of catering to QAnon conspiracy theories. We'll talk about that, next.


PHILLIP: A surprise movie battling Indiana Jones for the top spot at the box office, and it stars a QAnon promoter. The Sound of Freedom is based on the life of real-life former homeland security agent who staged sting operations to catch child sex traffickers. But the film and its star are raising eyebrows among critics. Some say that it bends the truth about child exploitation, and it caters to QAnon conspiracy theorists. Its distributor, Angel Studios, denies those accusations.


Jim Caviezel, the star of the film, is also known for openly embracing QAnon theories.

For more on this, I wanna bring in a journalist, an author of "The Storm is Upon Us", Mike Rothschild. So, Mike, the star of this film, Jim Caviezel is coming under a lot of scrutiny for his embrace of QAnon conspiracy theories. And you seem pretty familiar with him because he doesn't really hide his association with this real wild plot that involves, you know, drinking the blood of children and things like that.

MIKE ROTHSCHILD, AUTHOR, "THE STORM IS UPON US": HOW QANON BECAME A MOVEMENT: No, he doesn't hide it at all. And you have a lot of people who are in this world of QAnon who say, oh, they don't know what that is. They've never heard of it. They're just asking questions.

With somebody like Jim Caviezel, he is openly embracing and he's openly using its catchphrases and its concepts. He's speaking at QAnon conventions. And this film is being marketed to either specific QAnon believers or to people who believe all of the same tenets as QAnon, but claim they don't know what it is.

PHILLIP: And the "Sound of Freedom" does focus on a real issue of sex trafficking. But that theme, it's sort of like that kernel of truth that feeds the QAnon conspiracy theory. Tell us how those two things work together.

ROTHSCHILD: Sure, and the most durable and the most believable conspiracy theories are not entirely false. There's something in them that is true and the rest of it is false, but the believers point to the one true thing and they say, oh, you don't believe that this particular thing is true. In terms of child trafficking, we know trafficking is real.

We know it has real victims. No one is denying that, but these films are created out of moral panics. They're created out of bogus statistics. They're created out of fear. And with something like "Sound of Freedom", it specifically is looking at QAnon concepts of these child trafficking rings that are run by the high-level elites and only people like Tim Ballard and only people like Jim Caviezel, and by extension, only people like the ticket buyer can help bring these trafficking rings down.

So, there's a very participatory element. You're not just going to see a movie, you're just killing two hours on a hot day. You are helping bring down these pedophile rings and save children. Now, it's not true, but it's a very comforting and it's a very warm feeling to have.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and in fact, some of the ticket sales here have come from this crowdfunding of tickets. People can actually buy tickets for other people to send them to see this movie. The other part of it is that is fueling, it seems, the box office success is that it is being spread even in sort of socially conservative circles. Even Donald Trump this week tweeted about this film. Does it surprise you that this has kind of penetrated into Hollywood in such a real way?

ROTHSCHILD: No, it doesn't surprise me at all. The faith-based market is enormous. The market for conspiracy theory materials, whether it's books, podcasts, merchandise, or films like this is enormous. These people have disposable income and they put their money where their mouth is. They feel like they are sticking it to the Hollywood elite, ironically, by helping prop up theaters at a time when the theater industry is still really struggling to bring people back.

Here's this huge group of people buying tickets for strangers who probably aren't even going to the movie. So, you know, in one sense, you feel like Hollywood should thank these people, but there's a feeling of all pulling on the same rope together, of all trying to fight back together. And these people, they wanna be seen, they wanna be represented, and they feel like buying tickets, whether for themselves or their church group or complete strangers. is a way to push back against these horrors that they think are infecting the whole world.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, it's really fascinating. And it's an example of, you know, the film, we should be clear, is about child sex trafficking, but it's the associations with the conspiracies that make this such a fascinating story. Thank you so much for joining me on this, Mike. Appreciate it.

ROTHSCHILD: Thank you. And more than five years after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the families of those victims are now able to go inside of that building for the very first time. The scene there remains completely untouched. Up next, I'll speak with two parents who did decide to make that visit where their children died.




PHILLIP: For the first time this week, parents of those killed in the Parkland school shooting were allowed to enter that building which remains untouched after five years. It has one of the deadliest high school shootings in history. And the building is open after the trial of the school resource officer. Not all parents decided to go, of course, but my next guests did.

Max Schachter and Linda Beagle-Schulman both lost their children in the tragedy. Max and Linda, join me now. Thank you, both of you, for joining me tonight. Linda, I do want to start with you. Your son Scott was the teacher at the school. He died while saving 31 students from that gunman. I wonder, when you made that visit, what did you see there and what emotions did it bring up for you? LINDA BEIGEL SCHULMAN, MOTHER OF TEACHER KILLED IN PARKLAND SCHOOL

SHOOTING: Well, thank you for having me, Abby. When we drove up to school, I remember saying to my husband that I had such trepidations, even going into the school, you know, last time that we were five years ago, five plus years ago when we went, the trepidations were different.

I was just hoping and knowing in my heart Scott was alive. He was probably in a hospital somewhere, you know, but he was alive. And this time going, those trepidations were so, they were just so wildly different because I know I was going and he wasn't alive, he was dead and I was going to go and actually see where he took his last breath.


When you walked into the school, we walked into the -- I walked into the school and it was exactly like they say, everything was left the way it was on that day. But even though I had seen the video of what had transpired on February 14, 2018, it was just devastating walking in. It was like the difference of zooming with someone and meeting them in person.

I thought I was prepared. Mike Satz took us in from the first steps where the murderer walked into the school and he went meticulously through the first floor, looking at the windows of the doors being shut out, seeing the glass on the floor, seeing the bullet holes in the classrooms. He explained, you know, who was shot and then the next person and who was injured. And then we -- we went slowly, but we went through the first floor and to the second floor. And then we went to the third floor and that was really important for me because I wanted to see where my son took his last breath.

And I wanted to understand what I had seen on that video where the shooter was walking up those steps and five feet away from Scott and actually shooting him six times within three seconds from five feet away. And I could see, I could see where the shooter was. I could see where Scott was. And I could finally understand where Scott was standing, how he was holding the door, how he got shot. And then go into the classroom and see where his blood was on the floor, where he was actually, where he laid down dead.

And then go into his classroom and see all of the papers where there was Valentine's Day. There were Valentine's on the floor. There was candy on the desks. Actually, seeing Scott's computer, teachers know that they have to keep their computers halfway open and halfway shut so that no matter what when they're away from the desk, seeing his desk, seeing the things, seeing the walls and actually seeing a paper that one of his students had handed in and this is one of the students who had written letters to us right after the murderer -- the murder at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and just putting the face and the letter and everything together was really quite devastating.

PHILLIP: I cannot even imagine. And for you, Max, you also lost your son, Alex, in this massacre. You had said that you wanted to be, just like Linda said, in that room where your son took his last breath. What did you end up deciding to do when you went into that school? MAX SCHACHTER, FATHER OF SLAIN PARKLAND STUDENT ALEX SCHACHTER: I

went -- I went in there, just like Linda did, and I wanted to go in Alex's classroom. I wanted to sit in the chair that Alex took his last breath in -- that he was murdered in and it was just unbelievable.

I'm on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. So, I know everything that happened, but still for me, it -- you've done a lot of coverage on the Ukraine war and that's what it looked like in that school. It looked like a war zone where a mass murderer had hunted down and killed children and staff and it was grotesque. There was blood everywhere. I was just not prepared for that.

PHILLIP: Max and Linda, you all, as a parent, I can't imagine the courage that it took to do what you did. And my hearts really go out to you and your whole families tonight, as I'm sure you continue to grieve your loved ones. Thank you very much for joining me, Max Schachter and Linda Beigel-Schulman.


SCHACHTER: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, a preview of CNN's Sunday program, The Whole Story. The subject this week is wired for trouble. School districts and parents are suing the tech giants, alleging that social media is contributing to a mental health crisis among America's youth.




PHILLIP: The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued a warning that social media carries what he calls a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. Several school districts have filed suit against the tech giants, alleging that they're contributing to a mental health crisis among youth.

And hundreds of families are now suing, too, including a Connecticut woman named Tammy Rodriguez. She's a mother to Selena, and Audie Cornish spoke to Tammy for a report on the lawsuits for CNN's new show, the whole story with Anderson Cooper. Here's a little peek.


AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): What Tammy did know at the time was that Selena had figured out how to block her mother from seeing her online life. She had saved her fingerprint and I didn't know she had saved it in my phone. So, like if I'd fall asleep or whatever, she would use her fingerprint to get in and change the settings.

TAMMY RODRIGUEZ, FILED LAWSUITS AGAINST INSTAGRAM AND SNAPCHAT (voice- over): Once the pandemic had started, she was posting more, she became more recluse. She was focused on how many likes she has, how many followers she has, how many followers she's losing, who's messaging her.

CORNISH (voice-over): During the pandemic, when Selena's school and social life moved online, she was regularly messaging with people on these apps. Some she knew, some she did not.

RODRIGUEZ: There were adults. that would reach out, which I was not aware of until not too long ago. Men, they knew she was a minor.



PHILLIP: CNN's Audie Cornish joins me now. So, Audie, you've been speaking with these families and getting a sense of really what this battle is like. It's really almost like a David and Goliath type of situation. Huge tech companies and individual families struggling with how this technology that -- I'm sure some of them don't even fully understand, affects their children's lives.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Right now, the law is not exactly on their side. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act says that online companies can't be held responsible for what you or I post on them. We're third-party publishers.

But what that means is that if you decide that a social media company has helped draw your child into the world of eating disorders, for instance, you can't necessarily be guaranteed that you're gonna get a hearing in the courts. This came before the Supreme Court. They really didn't want to mess with Section 230, and that leaves these families in the midst of their lawsuits, which they're still pushing but more so, their kind of public campaign to raise awareness about this and bring pressure on the companies.

PHILLIP: What is your sense of how much social media companies recognize their role in creating algorithms that suck these young children in?

CORNISH: Well, I think people now have a better understanding of algorithms in general. The idea that recommendations and recommendation engines are drawing information based on what you engage with in order to push more of that on you. Which means that if you get into things that are harmful to yourself or others, it's going to feed you more of that. This is a real concern going into the world of A.I. TikTok has shown sort of how profitable this can be.

PHILLIP: And they're probably better at it than anybody else in the game right now.

CORNISH: Exactly. And their -- let's just say their guardrails and parental supports haven't kept up. And this is not to create like a moral panic. It's to say that we have learned some lessons over the last couple of years. Frances Haugen of the Facebook papers a few years ago is a good example, but it's not clear yet if we're actually going to see those guardrails built in or any kind of self-policing from the industry itself.

PHILLIP: And meanwhile school districts in addition to parents are also struggling with this. I mean, thinking back to my childhood, I don't think I had a cell phone until, you know, maybe the beginning of high school. And now, kids have phones at such a young age, elementary school age, and parents feel like, okay, you've got to give your kid a phone for safety to keep in touch with them. But schools are now struggling with how much social media is a part of the day-to-day lives of the kids that they're teaching.

CORNISH: Exactly. In the age of school shootings, in the age where post-pandemic social media and apps were built into the learning process itself so people -- it could enable remote work. The sort of role that this took on in the lives of teens, I think, grew. And some of them are reacting to that. You do see a kind of disconnect backlash. You do see kids talking about wanting to be on the apps a little bit less.


CORNISH: But you know, their brains aren't exactly wired to do that right now. And this is what researchers are looking to, whether or not social media can really become an addiction, so to speak. And if it does, maybe that has implications for these lawsuits going forward.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean you do get the sense that kids know that there's a problem. But like a lot of addictions, you can't always pull yourself out of it and kids are probably the least equipped to do that which makes it so difficult for them and for their families to handle.

So, Audie, I can't wait to watch this full hour on Sunday night. You can tune in to an all-new episode of "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper." That's one whole story, one whole hour. It airs Sunday at 8PM Eastern Time and Pacific only here on CNN. Thank you, Audie, for joining us. And coming up next, Donald Trump gets stumped at a campaign trail stop in Iowa. See what happens when we come back.




PHILLIP: So, before we go, Donald Trump's love of fast food is pretty well known.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We have pizzas. We have 300 hamburgers, many, many French fries, all of our favorite foods. That Fish Delight sometimes. The Big Macs are great. The Quarter Pounder with cheese. I mean, it's great stuff.


PHILLIP: So, in case you didn't know in that first part of the video, that was inside the White House. So, it was very interesting when today in Iowa, Trump seemed to have been caught off guard during a stop at Dairy Queen.


TRUMP: Everybody wants a Blizzard. What the hell is a blizzard? Take care of the people, okay? Will you take care of them for me? We'll do the Blizzard thing, all right?

PHILLIP: Alisyn is here with me. So, I guess, to be fair, not a whole lot of Dairy Queens in New York, probably. But if you've ever done a road trip, as I have, across the country, including through the Midwest, you cannot not know what a Blizzard is. Am I right?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What the hell is a Blizzard? It's delicious. That's what a Blizzard is. That's all you need to know. It's delicious. But there are a ton in New Jersey. I'm surprised that he's not up on his Blizzard knowledge.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, Trump, he literally knows the McDonald's menu, like the back of his hand. But I guess, you know, ice cream is not really his thing. He's more of like a burger and fries kind of guy.

CAMEROTA: Well, this is Dairy Queen. Maybe he's just that committed to McDonald's.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I also think it's funny. So, two things. One, some reporters need to check back to see if Blizzards were actually purchased for people in the restaurant this time. And second of all, this is not as gross as that time that he offered a piece of half-eaten pizza to someone, a pizza shop in Florida. I think that he might get a pass for this one.

CAMEROTA: No, I saw that. Even his ardent supporters were like, no thank you with the pizza. All right, Abby, have a great weekend. Great to see you and good evening. Thank you.