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Erin Burnett Outfront

Biden To Send 1,500 Troops To Border, U.S. Braces For Migrant Surge; Explosion Derails Another Russian Freight Train, 2nd In 2 Days; Manhunt For Texas Shooting Suspect Enters 4th Day; Judge Rejects Transgender Lawmaker's Fight To Return To Montana House; "Godfather Of A.I." Likens A.I. To A "Nuclear War" And "We All Lose"; Donald Trump Has Told Allies He Does Not Want To Debate At Reagan Library. Aired 7- 8p ET

Aired May 02, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, unacceptable. That's what one Democratic senator calls President Biden's plan to send armed troops to the southern border. The White House bracing for a massive influx of migrants. We have a new report from the border you see first on OUTFRONT.

Plus, new details in the manhunt for a Texas suspect who was accused of killing 5 people, including a 9-year-old boy. The man's neighbor telling CNN where his clothes and cell phone were profound.

And, Putin as a hippie, DeSantis visiting Disney, Ronald Reagan surrendering to the Soviets. We're going to say take you inside an A.I. operation that is meant to deceive.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erica Hill, in tonight for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, troops to the border. President Biden deploying 1,500 armed troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as this country braces for an influx of migrants. Nearly 40,000 asylum seekers are waiting just across the border in Mexico, waiting to enter the U.S. once the Trump era COVID rule known as Title 42 expires next week.

That rule has been used more than 2.7 million times by border officials to quickly expel migrants from the U.S. Biden's plan, announced today to send troops to the border met almost immediately with stiff resistance from some of his own party. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez writing in a statement, the Biden administration's militarization of the border is unacceptable. There's already a humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere, and deploying military personnel only signals that migrants are a threat that require our nation's troops to contain. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And yet, cities along the border say they do need help. El Paso just declaring a new state of emergency as facilities reached capacity. Over the past several weeks, officials there have encountered nearly 1,400 migrants at the border each day. And they fear the situation is about to explode.

You are looking at images coming up here, there you go, that's a caravan that on its way to the southern border right now.

Rosa Flores is OUTFRONT live along the border in El Paso with a report you will see first right here on OUTFRONT.

So, Rosa, what are you seeing, and what are you hearing on the ground there tonight?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, it's a heartbreaking story, walk with me and I'll show you, there are hundreds of migrants here on the streets of El Paso. I just interviewed the priest that runs the shelter here, he tells me that there are about 120 to 130 women and children that he has capacity for inside the shelter, everyone else, he says, has to stay outside.

He says it's an unknown number, he just doesn't know how many migrants are out here. And, he says, he doesn't expect the flow to stop.


FLORES (voice-over): The city of El Paso under a state of emergency. As hundreds of migrants camp outside shelters, on the streets, and alleys and parking lots ahead of the lifting of the pandemic-era rule known as Title 42, which allows immigration agents to swiftly expel some migrants to Mexico.

How would you characterize what you're seeing right now?


FLORES: John Martin runs the Opportunity Center for the Homeless and says the surge started last Tuesday, when 70 migrant started camping outside. Now, nearly 700 total.

MARTIN: We haven't had the opportunity to come out here and actually talk to each of these folks one by one.

FLORES: Because so many have arrived so quickly?

MARTIN: Exactly.

FLORES: And the flow of migrants? Arriving by train to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, is growing, too, say officials. CNN was there in April.

Were you coming on the train?


FLORES: As migrants like Emerson Duarte (ph) from Nicaragua jumped off the train with his four children and his wife.

She says her children haven't eaten in 4 days. The Duartes are part of a large group of migrants who are arriving in

northern Mexico and staying on the streets, in hotels, or migrant shelters.

Like this one, the pain of the migrant struggle palpable during church service.

Hilario Garcia embraces his two boys and says, he and his wife couldn't live in their native Nicaragua anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's difficult and dangerous to me.

FLORES: Especially after he protested against his government in 2018.


Garcia shows us --


FLORES: He still has a pellet in his arm, which he says came from Nicaraguan security forces.

Nearly 40,000 migrants are in northern Mexico, according to officials, and community leaders. In Tijuana, about 9,000 are waiting. In Reynosa and Matamoras, more than 17,000, and in Ciudad Juarez, up to 12,000. They are desire to seek asylum in the U.S. varies.

For this woman from Guatemala -- it was gang threats and her son's death.

For the family getting off the train --

He says that they left Nicaragua because of political oppression there.

Back in El Paso, if this time lapse of a walk around one city block is a preamble.

About how long can you go based on the resources that you have?

MARTIN: Best guess right now, I'd estimate Friday.

FLORES: Community leaders say the end of Title 42 could be one for the history books.


FLORES (on camera): Now, if you're wondering why are there so many migrants that are congregated in this city street, in and around this one shelter, there's various reasons. I talk to some of these migrants, they say, first of all, that a lot of them don't have money to continue on their journey. A lot of them are trying to find work, but they know, if they leave this area, they could be apprehended by immigration. Why? U.S. immigration normally doesn't pick up individuals in what they

call safe zones, in other words, churches. They don't pick up individuals in these areas.

And that's why, Erica, you see them congregated here, close to the church, because, together, in numbers, close to the church -- this church, they feel safe -- Erica.

HILL: Rosa Flores, excellent reporting as always, appreciate it. Thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, Texas.

Good to have you with us tonight.

So, when we look at what's happening, the president announcing today, he's sending 1,500 additional troops to the border to help, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez called this unacceptable. He said, quote: The administration has had over two years to plan for the eventual end of this Trump era policy in a way that does not compromise our values as a country. Trying to score political points or intimidate migrants by sending the military to the border caters to the Republican Party's xenophobic attacks on our asylum.

Do you agree with that assessment?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX): I do not agree with the senator. This is a very different approach using the military than what we saw in the last administration, which I did condemn.

During the last administration, then President Trump used our military personnel to actually interact with migrants, and take on a quasi-law enforcement role. In fact, here in El Paso, we saw military personnel with long guns, turning migrants away at our ports of entry.

Our United States military should have absolutely no role in law enforcement. I spoke with Secretary Mayorkas this morning. None of that is going to be happening this go round. Instead, that military personnel is going to be used to provide support to border patrol without engaging in any law enforcement activities, and without engaging directly with migrants.

What we have right now, what we need, is all hands on deck. We have a shortage of personnel, we need border patrol agents back to their mission, and that's what this will help achieve.

HILL: So, let me just push you on one other point, though, what Senator Menendez also said is the administration has had, his words here, over two years to plan for the eventual end of this policy. In his view, in a way that does not compromise our values as a country.

I know you have said, telling my colleagues here on CNN recently, you believe the administration, the president, has done all he can. It's up to Congress now, the reality for most Americans watching this is they are not seeing a lot of action. So, can you point to one instance where you're working for folks at

home to understand, where are you working across the aisle?

ESCOBAR: Yeah, I'm actually --

HILL: To make a difference, to spur some action in court, we know things are tough in Washington, but I think the folks at home would love to hear some of that.

ESCOBAR: Absolutely. So, first and foremost, I have been working closely with the administration, from day one, and they have adopted, whenever possible, many of the ideas that I've provided them.

The challenge has been, some of -- some of what they've been limited from doing has come as a result from lawsuits, from red states, like my own. And that has encumbered their ability to really broaden their effort. But I also am working on bipartisan legislation, I don't want to get ahead of it, but, you know, I'm hoping that it will be completed soon. That I think will help, not just the immediate.

But over the long term, it really is on Congress to act.


It's very important that, as we look at what's happening on the U.S.- Mexico border, that all of us, legislators and the executive, work in concert to create long term important real solutions.

HILL: Congressman Escobar, we look forward to hearing more about that bipartisan legislation that you are working on, thanks for joining us tonight.

ESCOBAR: Thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT now, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama.

So, David, you just heard that Senator Menendez statement, he said that Biden's decision to send troops is unacceptable. He accused the president of trying to score political points with this move.

How big a problem do you anticipate this could be for Biden within his own party?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, there may be some blowback. The president meant toughening his policies for months now, starting in January, when he said that there would be immediate return of immigrants from certain countries that were particular problematical and, you know, other steps that he's taken.

So, this is not new. This is, as the congresswoman said, a little different than during the Trump administration, because the troops that were sent down there were largely props for the president's -- President Trump's, notion that the caravans were coming, and we should be very afraid, and so on. Apparently, these troops are going to be used to do logistical things,

not military actions, not law enforcement actions. That said, they've got a big problem on their hands, when Title 42 goes off, you know, the crossings of the border, likely to be doubled. It's already at a dangerous level, and, you know, an uncontrollable level.

So, they need to do something. And the biggest concern should be that. I mean, the president needs to show progress on this issue, and that should be his focus, and not sort of trends in polling.

HILL: But there is the polling, like you say, the work should be his focus. The reality is, 35 percent of Americans don't approve, sorry, 35 percent to approve of the way Biden is handling immigration, 63 percent disapprove, those numbers worse for him than his overall job rating when we look at, it which is about 42 percent right now.

So, looking into 2024, he has to, at some point, take those numbers into account, I would imagine?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think the best way to take those numbers into account is to try and take significant steps to deal with the problem and try to engage the Republicans, they've scheduled a vote on their own bill on May 11th. But in Washington, you know, we tend to weaponize problems, instead of solving them.

This problem really demands solutions, and probably demands both parties to help on that. And that's where the focus should be. If the prob -- the reason he's at 35 percent is because we've had this long- standing problem with immigration over several administrations, and it continues to plague us and it needs to be addressed.

And so, what he really needs to do, Erica, is make progress on the problem, and the numbers will take care of themselves. But if he doesn't, those numbers are going to remain where they are.

HILL: David Axelrod, always good to see you. Thank you.

AXELROD: Nice to see you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, mysterious attacks, one top Russian official hospitalized after an assassination attempt in an occupied Ukrainian city. This is a powerful explosion derails another Russian freight train.

Plus, hundreds of officers trying to track down the man accused of killing 5 people, including a 9-year-old boy, execution style. So, could the suspect's wife be the key to his capture? The assistant V.A. in this case is my guest.

And a look at these images of Ron DeSantis at Disney. Crying? With Mickey behind him? Well, they're not the real magical moments. Those were created by artificial intelligence. Why the man who created these images said it's important for him to speak out, it's a story you will see first on OUTFRONT.


HILL: Tonight, a Russian installed police official in the occupied city of Melitopol is hospitalized after a device planted in his home exploded, and this comes less than a week after another Russian - backed police chief in the same city was killed by an explosive device outside of his home. And for the second day in a row, an explosion derailed a freight train inside Russia, in a region that borders Ukraine.

Now, some experts see the explosions as a possible prelude to Ukraine's much anticipated counteroffensive.

OUTFRONT now, David Guttenfelder. He's an award-winning photo journalist who just returned from the front line with Ukrainian soldiers, who are preparing for this crucial counteroffensive.

It's good to have you with us tonight, David.

And some of these soldiers that you took of these Ukrainian -- the photos rather of these Ukrainian soldiers up close. Take us inside of these moments. You were in the trenches today, literally some of them were dug by hand. What are they going through in these moments leading up to this expected counteroffensive?

DAVID GUTTENFELDER, VETERAN PHOTOGRAPHER COVERING WAR IN UKRAINE: Well, we spent about two weeks with the Ukrainian territorial defense brigade. We got a pretty good, broad look at the fight from totally destroyed towns, and frontline trenches, and patrolling at night with soldiers, hunting for Russian suicide drones, Shahed drones. But, yeah, probably the most dramatic thing I saw were a mortar team that were literally living and fighting from underground.

We entered the trap door in the forest floor, going down in these narrow trenches shoulder with, and there were men with iPads looking at a live feed, of their drone patrolling and looking for targets. When they found one, Russians in a nearby tree line, they would open up a camouflage retractable roof in the trench ceiling, firing mortar off at the enemy, and then quickly closed again before Russians could spot them with their own drones.

These guys are living underground, and as you said, living in trenches that they dug with their own hands and shovels, in land where they grew up, and where they're from.

HILL: I was also struck by some of the soldiers, who told you and your colleagues that, you know, their homes are towns which are now occupied by Russia. One soldier actually noting -- saying, imagine the situation, you're alive, but your life has been taken away.


We'll have nowhere to return if we don't stop this, if we don't end it, if we don't win.

I mean, how much is that really indicative of how much is riding on this counteroffensive for all of them?

GUTTENFELDER: Yeah, for all of them, but the brigade, the majority of them, and especially these men in the trench they are from Zaporizhzhia area. They had to retreat from the towns and villages in the early days of the war, and they -- many of them still have family members living inside now Russian occupied towns.

And so, you k now, this fight, this coming counteroffensive, I would say, is very personal for these -- for these people.

HILL: It's also been Ukraine's ambassador to U.K. saying it's actually been delayed due to weather. You know, as you said, you saw the front lines for yourself. You were there. You saw a lot of it up close. Is it just -- is it just the weather in your sense?

GUTTENFELDER: I mean, there's -- you know, there's a lot of anticipation about the counteroffensive. People are looking to this to strategically, to bolster support from the west. And also, just to build morale. This is 14 months of war. People are already ready to fight.

But, yeah, it's been delayed. It's been delayed by waiting for some promised weapons, and so forth, but mostly, yeah, right now, it's just soupy, muddy, springtime conditions that the soldiers there are worse than they are used to.

We were out there pushing our own vehicle out of the mud, seeing some of that weaponry, 60-ton howitzers just stuck in the mud. They're immovable.

HILL: Yeah, and that paints quite a picture.

David, your images are just incredible. We really appreciate you joining us tonight to talk to some of them and more of what you saw there on the ground. Thank you.


HILL: OUTFRONT next, new details in the search for the man accused of killing five people, including a child in the Texas. A neighbor telling CNN where the clothes and cellphone were found.

Plus, this just in, a judge's ruling after a transgender lawmaker from Montana sued her state for being kicked out of the House chamber. Representative Zooey Zephyr is OUTFRONT.



HILL: Tonight, growing questions about the wife of a Texas man suspected of killing five people in his neighborhood told investigators. Francisco Oropeza is accused of shooting to death five people, including a nine-year-old boy, after the boy's father asked him to stop firing his rifle on the front yard.

The manhunt intensifying tonight, as Oropeza remains on the run for a fourth day.

Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A blanket of eerie fog covered the neighborhood where Francisco Oropeza unleashed the violent attack, killing five neighbors. Oropeza's picture now sits on large signs scattered around the heavily wooded neighborhood outside of Cleveland, Texas.

The attack that started after Oropeza's neighbors asked him to stop shooting his AR-15 in the yard because their baby was trying to sleep next door has triggered a massive manhunt with more than 200 law enforcement officers that's lasted four days.

In a sign of how difficult the search for credible leads have become, FBI investigators said in a tweet, they are working with law enforcement agencies across the state, country, and across the border. We are leaving no stone unturned.

The FBI is also asking anybody with photos or videos of Oropeza to come forward.


LAVANDERA: Vivian Posada told CNN affiliate that investigators found his cell phone and clothing in this area behind her home the day after the killings. She lives just a few houses away from where the massacre happened.

POSADA: They stopped me, and a lot of cops came down, they're like, let me search your truck and like, we're going to head to your house because it looks like the shooter is at your house.

LAVANDERA: Oropeza was not there. Law enforcement officers continue patrolling the rugged streets in his neighborhood, searching for the 38-year-old suspect. An investigator also returned to the crime scene, going inside of the home where the five Honduran immigrants were shot and killed, and 10 others survived.

And in the last two days, a woman believed to be Oropeza's wife has come and gone from the suspect's home several times. An FBI agent was at the home while she was there on Monday.

San Jacinto County's sheriff says that Oropeza's wife has been cooperative with investigators.

SHERIFF GREG CAPERS, SAN JACINTO COUNTY, TEXAS: She's been interviewed two or three times. She is in constant contact. If we need her, she's available, and vice versa. We're available for her as well.

LAVANDERA: Survivors of the deadly attack say that they made multiple calls to 911, asking for help to get Oropeza to stop shooting his rifle. And that has angered residents like Dale Tiller, who runs this neighborhoods crime watch group. He says that there is a long history of calls for help going unanswered in this area.

DALE TILLER, RUNS A NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH GROUP: Things back here are handled differently. We're vigilante justice. We don't have police patrol back there. If police were called, it would take them well over an hour and maybe two just to get here.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And, Erica, the San Jacinto County sheriff has said that his department has limited resources. It's a large county spread over many thousands of acres here in Southeast Texas. And that they responded to the shooting situation as quickly as they could.

Right now, the main focus remains this manhunt and the search for Francisco Oropeza. And right now, it doesn't appear clear that investigators are any closer to figuring out where he might be tonight -- Erica.

HILL: Ed Lavandera, appreciate the update. Thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Rob Freyer, the first assistant DEA of San Jacinto County, Texas.

Sir, it's good to have you with us right now.

You know, as Ed was saying, based on what he's heard from law enforcement, a lot of questions remain tonight on where Oropeza could be.

Do you know of any new leads?

ROB FREYER, FIRST ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SAN JACINTO COUNTY, TEXAS: The officers we've been working with over the last four days, state, local, and federal, have been working very hard and have done a great job in harnessing and gathering a number of tips that have come in. We've spoken to family contacts and people that know him, and we are leaving no stone unturned in -- regarding locating this individual.

We all share the same common objective at this point, which is the apprehension of this individual that we believe is responsible.

HILL: And so, as you're looking after him, is there any indication based on what you know or have found that anyone is helping him?

FREYER: We are investigating all leads, obviously, the information that we got at the very beginning. He apparently left the location on foot,

And so like Sheriff Capers said, the initial search has -- was focused on the area immediately surrounding Walters Road where this happened. However, it's been four days now, and obviously, that being the case. We've gone where the evidence has taken us, where the tips have taken us. So -- and followed it up on some other locations, which may be a little bit further spread out.

HILL: Are some of those locations across the border?

Rob, can you hear me?

FREYER: I can.

HILL: Yeah. Are some of those locations across the border? There were questions about whether he is still in the country.

FREYER: Well, that's a good question I guess for people to have, but like I said, we're not going to divulge the details of an ongoing fact sensitive law enforcement investigation that we don't want to compromise in any way.

So, as I said before, the FBI, the Marshals, Homeland Security, and then all of the local sheriffs that have stepped up and come forward, as well as the Texas Rangers and the experienced Department of Public Safety from our state police coming forward and have combined our resources with the one common objective, and that is to apprehend this person and do it in a safe manner for everybody.

HILL: You know, as we just heard from my colleague, Ed Lavandera there on the ground, we heard about Oropeza's wife, who's been cooperating with investigators. The sheriff, saying that they've been in constant contact.

Do you know whether he's reached out to her? Have they heard from them at all over the last four days?

FREYER: I don't know. I don't know. We're not -- I'm not at liberty to say what sort of actions we believe he has been involved in at this point.

These are facts that can certainly come out in a later date, but right now, getting back to what I've said, and what I've told everybody else, we just want to locate this individual.

HILL: Sure.

FREYER: We want to be where it is safe for the community. It's safe for him. It's safe for law enforcement because given the underlying facts of what happened in this case, it's a tragedy. For this family, for the community and these officers, the deputies that work their tails off with very limited resources in a case like this.

HILL: If for a case that he's no longer in the United States -- if he is perhaps in Mexico, what would that mean for the victims families? What would it mean for this case?

FREYER: Well, it would make it very frustrating. It would be very frustrating for the victims' families. The victims' families want justice, the victims' families deserve justice. And the victims' families, I hope they are aware of the fact that we have been there, we've reached out to them and attempts to talk to all of them, and to ensure them that we are bringing every resource that we have to bear, to locate the individuals that we believe -- the individual that we believe is responsible for this horrific tragedy. We are doing everything that we can.

HILL: Residents tell CNN gunfire is pretty common in the neighborhood, and that complaints, they feel have been ignored for a long time. One neighbor telling CNN, Oropeza specifically shot at a grand it a party in 2021 when someone asked to turn down the music.

Were you aware of any of those concerns?

FREYER: Was I in 2021? No. I was not. I've heard some of the complaints that some of the citizens have made. I can -- I can verify that in this case, between the time the call dropped for a weapons disturbance, the first deputy arrived in this relocation, which is in a very remote wooded area in 11 minutes. The first deputy was there.

These roads leading towards the residences in this community are in terrible condition, and that is in no way serves as a justification or an excuse, but these officers got there as soon as they could, and then other agencies around the area poured in and provided that support.


From Montgomery County, from Liberty County, and from the Department of Public Safety, they were there within minutes after that.

I do know that. And by the time that the sun came up the next morning, there were probably over 150 law enforcement officers at the scene. There were 150 to 200 law enforcements at our command center from probably 20 separate law enforcement agencies, doing everything they can.

HILL: Sure. And we know how close everyone's working together now. Assistant District Attorney Rob Fryer, appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

FREYER: Thank you very much.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, if you didn't know, you might think these images of Putin there are real. They are not. They were actually made by artificial intelligence, and the man who created something has something to say about all of the criticisms when it comes to A.I. It's a story you'll see first on OUTFRONT.

Plus, former President Trump threatening to skip at least one Republican debate, what Trump's aides are saying about his reasoning.


HILL: Just in, a Montana judge has ruled State Representative Zooey Zephyr will not be allowed to return to the House floor before the legislative session ends on Friday. Zephyr, the first openly transgender women elected to legislature, was banned from the chamber by Republican colleagues. The censure coming after she spoke out about legislation that would prevent transgender children from receiving gender affirming medical care.



STATE REP. ZOOEY ZEPHYR (D), MONTANA: If you vote yes on this bill, and yes on these amendments, I hope that the next time there is an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands.


HILL: Zephyr is still allowed to vote, but remotely, and cannot debate any legislation.

Representative Zephyr is OUTFRONT now.

It's good to have you with us tonight.

So, you sued the House speaker and the sergeant-at-arms over what you call their, quote, unconstitutional censure and retaliatory silencing. And as I just mentioned, moments ago, we learned the judge has now rejected your lawsuit.

What is your next step here?

ZEPHYR: So, I -- when I was elected, I vowed to represent my constituents here in the people's house. And what we've seen is that the speaker and the Republican supermajority took away my ability to represent my constituents, and in doing so, took away their right to representation.

And I'm going to work to make sure that they get the representation they deserve. If I can't do it in the House, I'll make sure that we do it in the courts. And if we can't do it in the courts, we'll do it in the ballot box.

HILL: So you're saying there's another legal option here for you?

ZEPHYR: I'm exploring every avenue available to me to make sure my constituents, the people who sent me here, have the representation that they have a right to.

HILL: Some of your constituents actually side on to this lawsuit, I believe four of them. You've talked a lot about those 11,000 voices, your 11,000 constituents, who you feel are being silenced, by you not being allowed to be there in the chamber, not being allowed to debate when it comes to legislation. I know you've talked about speaking with some of your colleagues.

Have any of your colleagues, your fellow lawmakers, are they able to share some of the concerns that you've heard from constituents, bring those issues into debates that you're not allowed to participate in?

ZEPHYR: Yes. What we are seeing is that when the speaker disallows me to speak, and doesn't allow me to represent my constituents, those constituents concerns don't go away. And I -- the reason I sat in the hallway, as close to the people's house as I could, is to make sure that in some small way, I could try to get them to representation that they have a right.

So, I'm catching lawmakers in hallway. I'm saying, hey, here's what I'm hearing from my community. Here's what we should be talking about on this bill. Can you try to get something across?

They do, but it's not the same as your representative. My colleagues aren't the people that my constituents represented. They elected me to be in that House for them.

HILL: As you explore these other potential legal options, and again, this is all just happening tonight, I know you said today that somebody threatened your girlfriend. You tweeted: Someone just attempted to swat my girlfriend and saying those who hate trans people are doing everything in their power to silence and harm us, but we will not be deterred. We will stand in defiance of their cruelty, and never stop working until trans people get to live our lives in peace.

I was really struck by what you said there in terms of living a life in peace.

There have been a number of efforts, as we've seen, across the country to block access, whether it is two bathrooms or to sports, or to health care.

Can you just give us a sense of how difficult it is in this moment to not only live in peace but for members of the trans community who may want to speak out? Do they feel that they can, people who you've heard from, based on what we're seeing in terms of threats?

ZEPHYR: Well, trans people know that when we get to transition, we come into lives full of joy, full of meaning. We get that pursuit of happiness. We get to realize that in a way we cannot without the health care we need.

And so, what we see from these legislative attacks is twofold. The first we see is the real harm that comes when you deny health care that people need, lifesaving health care, health care we know reduces the risk of suicidality. That is one aspect.

The other aspect is that as the fearmongering around trans people continues to escalate, bad actors seek to harm us. And whether that is people getting assaulted in my state on the side of the road, or run over by a car, things like the shooting in Colorado, or an attempted swatting of my partner. The risk of harm is real, but trans people will persevere.

HILL: Representative Zephyr, we appreciate you joining us tonight. Please keep us posted.

ZEPHYR: Always, thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, lawmakers cracking down on images created by artificial intelligence in political ads. It's a story you'll see first on OUTFRONT.

Plus, CNN learning Trump may skip the Republican debates. Wait until you hear why.



HILL: Tonight, the man who many called the godfather of A.I. is warning against the very technology he helped to create, saying it poses a dire global threat.


GEOFFREY HINTON, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE PIONEER: It's like nuclear weapons. If there's a nuclear war, we all lose. And it's the same if these things take over.


HILL: Well, that's sobering. House Democrats also taking action today, introducing a bill that would require political campaigns to disclose the use of A.I. in political ads. Keep in mind, A.I. is a powerful here, as you know, and it's already being deployed ahead of the 2024 election.

Donie O'Sullivan has the story first on OUTFRONT.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You might have seen this already, I want you to watch this. It's a political ad.

POLITICAL AD: Officials closed the city of San Francisco this morning, citing the escalating crime in fentanyl crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That did even have San Francisco, even like, get shut down? Okay, I was like --


O'SULLIVAN: A recent ad from the Republican National Committee imagines a dystopian future if President Biden is reelected.

POLITICAL AD: An emboldened China invades Taiwan.

O'SULLIVAN: But all isn't as it seems.

All the images in that ad recreated using A.I., artificial intelligence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my goodness.


TIM BOUCHER, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ARTIST: Images are powerful, you know, and that this ability to create so many images, so rapidly, it's an incredibly powerful tool.

O'SULLIVAN: New artificial intelligence technology makes it easy to create fake images that can look very realistic.


Like these created by artists and online trust and safety expert, Tim Boucher.

BOUCHER: This kind of image making can be democratized, at such skill, and that, basically, anybody can use it to impact the global conversation on pretty much any topic.

O'SULLIVAN: From the comfort of his garage turned workshop in Canada, he has created all sorts of fake images. Imagining Vladimir Putin as a hippie, Governor Ron DeSantis at Disney, even President Reagan surrendering to the Soviets.

He says he's creating the images to make people more aware of the powers of A.I.

Some people will just say, you are creating misinformation, stop doing that.

BOUCHER: We don't have that luxury of waiting anymore. These things are happening in real-time. We've got to find ways to talk about it, and to be upfront about what are both the good things and the bad things that can come of it.

O'SULLIVAN: Political campaigns have long used advertising to imagine the disaster that awaits if their rivals get elected. Like this 1964 ad from President Lyndon B. Johnson that'll imagined a nuclear apocalypse.

Last year, a fake video showed the Ukraine president surrendering to Russia emerged online. It was a deep fake video made using A.I.

HANY FARID, PROFESSOR UC BERKELEY SCHOOL OF INFORMATION: It's not just, I can create a fake audio of you, Joe Biden, whomever. It's that I can broadcast to that world, instantaneously, through social media.

O'SULLIVAN: Hany Farid is a digital forensic expert, and a professor at UC Berkeley.

FARID: Fifty percent of the views happen in the first few minutes. So, even by the time I figure out something is fake, hours, days have gone by. It doesn't matter. It's over. Millions of people have already seen it.

O'SULLIVAN: But not all uses of this technology need to be nefarious. In India, A.I. was used to make it look like this politician, delivered an address in multiple languages. This video is a deep fake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, Delhi has a change to change it all.

O'SULLIVAN: Imran Ahmed, who runs an organization tracking misinformation and online hate, says the Republican Party's A.I. ad isn't in itself dangerous. IMRAN AHMED, CENTER FOR COUNTERING DIGITAL HATE: It's a gateway,

potentially, too much more dangerous uses of A.I., for example, trying to deep fake President Biden saying, I'm welcoming immigrants into the country. Or President Biden saying, I'm going to force everyone to take a vaccine.

O'SULLIVAN: Texas already has a lot on its books against certain uses of deep fakes in the weeks leading up to an election. But it's not clear how enforceable that law actually is.

There is a tiny disclaimer at the top that says it's made with A.I.


O'SULLIVAN: While some people we showed the ad to outside the White House knew it was fake.

All of the images are fake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would be believe it.

O'SULLIVAN: Others weren't so confident.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think I would've known that was made with A.I., if you hadn't said anything.


HILL: It's so -- every time I see you, I say it's so scary, but what's interesting, too, is I know you've learned how A.I. is actually helping campaign in terms of reaching voters, is that safe?

O'SULLIVAN: Well, it's scary. Yeah, so we spoke this week to a data CEO who runs a company that targets voters. Look, on every voter, a lot of campaigns have hundreds, sometimes thousands of data points about us, where we live, our demographics, how we vote, things like that, who we've donated for. He was explaining how A.I. modeled symptoms can be used to go through all that data and see patterns that humans would not be able to.

So, you're going to have more accurate or more effective, I guess, targeting a voters. And also, at the same CEO said, some of those emails that we all get, those ongoing campaign emails, some of them may also be written by ChatGPT, written by A.I.

HILL: Yeah, that would not surprise me at all.

Donie, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Coming up on "AC360", the former producer suing Fox News joins Anderson on why she thinks Tucker Carlson was fired. And the other recording she has that the special counsel's office could be interested in. OUTFRONT next, Trump threatening to skip at least one Republican

debate. The reason? Well, it's all about the venue. Which one? We'll explain.



HILL: Tonight, the debate or not to debate.

CNN learning former President Trump has privately discussed skipping either one or both of the first two Republican primary debates set to begin this summer. One aide saying, it would be, quote, stupid to debate his opponents, with such a wide lead in the polls. Sources also, though, say Trump has told some allies, he does want to attempt the debate at the Reagan Library because he's never been invited to speak there.

It comes as his third bid for the White House kicks into high gear, and as he looks to cast a wider net, Harry Enten is OUTFRONT.

So, you want to cast a wider net, you heard that new reporting, though. Is him saying I don't want to debate, I'm doing so well at this point, a man who doesn't want to screw up that lead?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I think, arguably, yeah. I mean, at this particular point, he's jumped out on average to about a 25-point lead over Ron DeSantis in the primary. And that lead has been growing larger and larger and larger, and I think he wants to look ahead to the general election. He wants to appeal to more moderate voters, and I will point out at this particular point, even within the Republican Party, he does lead among moderate voters for the GOP nomination, and that 10-point lead.

But that lead is smaller than his overall lead. So, the idea is, hey, if I appeal to the general electorate moderates, maybe I can appeal to some of those moderates within the Republican Party, too, because that's his weak point at this point in the Republican --

HILL: Is that a sign that he's learned some lessons from 2020?

ENTEN: I think it probably is a sign that he might have learned some lessons from 2020. So, you know, he has been saying, you know, I want to get back to what I did in 2016, appeal towards the center, bring more people in the party.

And what do we see among independent voters, right? (AUDIO GAP) 2016? And what did we see in 2020?

What we saw was, in 2016, he won independent voters. That was the reason why he was able to defeat Hillary Clinton. You look ahead to 2020, he lost independent voters by double digits to Joe Biden.

So, I think he wants to get back to his roots of appealing to voters towards the middle of the electorate.

HILL: Can you do that, though? 2016 was a different beast, people didn't know as much about him.

ENTEN: Yeah, I think this is the real question. How easy is it going to be up to appeal to that center of the electorate? You know, the different pollsters to have asked the voters, how do you see Donald Trump? Do you ideologically, do you see him? And if you look of those who say they seem as moderate or liberal, they were, in fact, a very large portion back in 2016.

Look at that.

HILL: Wow.

ENTEN: North of 40 percent. You look now, look at that, only 18 percent. So, I think the idea of being able to sell to the middle of the electorate that I'm a moderate, I'm not quite sure it will be that easy for him this time around, Erica.

HILL: Well, we will be watching and you'll be there to explain it all to us.

ENTEN: I'm going to try.

HILL: Thank you, my friend.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HILL: All right, Harry Enten.

Thanks to all of you for joining us tonight. I'm Erica Hill, in for Erin Burnett.

"AC360" starts right now.