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Senator To Big Tech CEOs: "You Have Blood On Your Hands"; Dems Lean In On Border Security As GOP Seems Likely To Kill Deal; Big Tech CEOs Testify At Online Child Safety Hearing; Speaker Johnson Addresses House Amid Border Deal Negotiations. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, you have blood on your hands. That's what one GOP senator told tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg. A Democratic senator told them that they quote, suck at self-policing. This is a grilling happening as we speak before a senate committee, parents are in the audience who blame some of them blame their children's suicide, others exploitation on social media on the people testifying. We are monitoring this hearing. We will go back to it in a moment.

But first we are also standing by on this very busy day on Capitol Hill for Mike Johnson to give his first-floor speech as House speaker as he vows to follow Donald Trump's lead and oppose the most substantial bipartisan border deal package that we have seen in decades on Capitol Hill.

Before we get to the speaker, I want to go straight to Manu Raju, who has some new reporting on what has been going on behind the scenes with regard to that border deal. Manu, tell us what you're hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Senate Republican leaders are still trying to decide right now about whether they should actually go forward with that bipartisan border deal amid opposition from the speaker of the House, which we'll hear in a matter of moments as well as opposition from former President Donald Trump.

Today at the Republican lunch behind closed door, they're expected to debate whether to proceed with a sever or whether to abandon it altogether. Amid sharp divisions within the ranks and frustration is mounting.

I talked to a number of key Republicans including the top Republican negotiator on the Senate side about this. And they say, this bill has been mixed characterized and they're pushing back on the former president who calls this a betrayal. James Lankford for one -- made it clear. He said this is not a betrayal. That's what Trump said to his supporters over the weekend.

One other Republican Senator Bill Cassidy said that the president is essentially being quote, ignorant. The former president been caught ignorant by simply criticizing this deal without even seeing any of the text of it. Remember, this deal has actually not been released yet.

But it has been pummeled by the right has been pummeled by former speaker -- by the current speaker Mike Johnson, who contend that it would do far too little to restrict border crossings, even as the negotiators themselves, say it would go much further than what the situation is currently. But those are the dividing lines but also raising major concerns about whether anything could get done.

BASH: OK, Manu, standby. I want to get to our colleague Lauren Fox, who is also on Capitol Hill. Lauren, I know you have some new reporting about Democrats and how they are trying to seize on the Republicans trying to scuttle a bipartisan deal.

Obviously, the whole point here that maybe is going unsaid, and we should say explicitly, is that immigration and the crisis at the border has been a winning issue politically for Republicans. And now Democrats are going to try to turn that on its head. If this bill is scuttled or even if it's not. What are you hearing?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, the liability has always been for Democrats on this issue of the southern border. And it's really unimaginable three months ago that this was the moment Democrats would find themselves in. But they say, right now they feel like they can use this issue against Republicans.

BASH: And I think my understanding is that you have talked to some Democrats about their strategy, Lauren? What is it? What are they saying?

FOX: Exactly. I mean, one of the things that you're starting to see, Dana, is the fact that Democrats on the campaign trail are starting to talk about the border in a much more forceful way, including Tom Suozzi, who's running for his seat back in the special election in New York to replace George Santos.

He actually showed up at a press conference. His Republican opponent was holding where she was going after the president on the border. And he waited till they were done, then got up and basically said, all right, it's my turn. I'm going to lay out for you what I think is a good border policy proposal.

It just shows you that Democrats who maybe wouldn't have wanted to talk about this issue in the past feel like they are in a prime moment. Given the fact that they feel like Republicans are backing off of the best opportunity that they've had to get a bipartisan solution on the border in decades.


And I think that that message is something that you are hearing from the president. It's something you are hearing from Democrats who are running in red states in the Senate. And it's something that they plan to continue to use, and Republicans are acknowledging could be a liability for them because there is absolutely no change.

BASH: Thank you so much, Lauren. We are waiting for the House speaker to begin his speech. They are doing the pledge and the opening prayer as they open the floor of the United States House of Representatives. As we wait for the speaker to give his maiden speech on the House floor.

I want to bring it around the table here. I mean, the reporting that we just heard from our colleagues from Manu and from Lauren. Starting with Manu, talking about -- as we speak, there is a meeting, nevermind what is happening in the House, although they are related.

There's a meeting in the Senate to see if the opposition is so great in the House, whether that is going to make it impossible to get the 60 votes needed for this bipartisan deal that even passed the Senate. Where they had the Republicans and the Democrats come together and they clearly are the ones who were involved on the GOP side, expressing a lot of frustration with the former president Donald Trump.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICS & POLICY COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG: That's right. And listen, they are feeling the heat from their fellow Republicans in some of these states. Lankford being one of them. You had Lindsey Graham come out and tell his fellow Republicans that there is not going to be a better deal than this that they can expect, even if Donald Trump was president. But they are listening to the president and not to their fellow Republicans in the Senate.

You know, listen, the politics of this are very tough for Biden.

BASH: Sorry to interrupt you. We're going to keep talking about this. But it is a very busy day on Capitol Hill. Going to go back to the hearing, where Josh Hawley, Republican in Missouri is questioning Mark Zuckerberg.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): In the last seven days. Now, I know you're familiar with these stats because he sent you an email where he lined it all out. I mean, we've got a copy of it right here. My question is, who did you fire for this? Who got fired because of that?

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER & CEO, META: Senator, we study all of this because it's important. We want to improve our service.

HAWLEY: Well, you just told me a second ago (Ph) you study that that there was no linkage. Who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: Yeah. I said you mischaracterized.

HAWLEY: 37 percent of teenage girls between 13 and 15 were exposed to unwanted nudity in a week on Instagram. You knew about it? Who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, this is why we're building -- firewalls.

HAWLEY: Who did you fire?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, that's -- I don't think that that's ---

HAWLEY: Who did you fire? ZUCKERBERG: I'm not going to answer that.

HAWLEY: Because you didn't fire anybody, right? You didn't take any significant actions?

ZUCKERBERG: It's appropriate to talk about it, like it's a short decision.

HAWLEY: It's not appropriate. Did you know who's sitting behind you? You've got families from across the nation whose children are either severely harmed or gone. And you don't think it's appropriate to take a -- talk about steps that you took. The fact that you didn't fire a single person. Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Have you compensated any of the victims?


HAWLEY: Have you compensated any of the victims? These girls, have you compensated them?

ZUCKERBERG: I don't believe so.

HAWLEY: Why not? Don't you think they deserve some compensation for what your platform has done? Help with counseling services. Help with dealing with the issues that your services caused.

ZUCKERBERG: Our job is to make sure that we build tools to help keep people safe.

HAWLEY: Are you going to compensate them?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, our job and what we take seriously is making sure that we build industry leading tools to find harmful to -- take it off the services and to build tools that empower parents.

HAWLEY: So, you didn't take any action. You didn't take any action. You didn't fire anybody. You haven't compensated a single victim. Let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. There's families of victims here today. Have you apologized to the victims? Would you like to do so now? Well, they're here. You're on national television. Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed but you're not showing the pictures? Would you like to apologize for what you've done to these good people?

Why, Mr. Zuckerberg -- why should your company not be sued for this? Why is it that you can claim -- you hide behind a liability shield. You can't be held accountable? Shouldn't you be held accountable personally? Will you take personal responsibility?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I think I've already answered this and these ---

HAWLEY: Will you take personal responsibility?


ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I view my job and the job of our company is building the best tools that we can to keep our communities safe.

HAWLEY: Well, you're failing at that?

ZUCKERBERG: Well Senator, we're doing an industry leading effort. We build AI tools that ---

HAWLEY: Your product is killing people. Will you personally commit to compensating the victims. You're a billionaire. Will you commit to compensating the victims? You're a billionaire. Will you commit to compensating the victims? We set up a compensation fund with your money -- with your money.

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, these are complicated questions.

HAWLEY: No. That's not a complicated question. Say yes or no, will you set up a victim's compensation fund with your money? The money you made on these families sitting behind you. Yes, or no?

ZUCKERBERG: Senator, I don't think that that's -- my job is to issue a good tool. My job is to make sure ---

HAWLEY: Your job is to be responsible for what your company has done. You've made billions of dollars on the people sitting behind you here. You've done nothing to help them. You've done nothing to compensate them. You've done nothing to put it right. You could do so here today and you should. You should Mr. Zuckerberg.

Before my time expires. Mr. Chew. Let me just ask you. Your platform. Why should your platform not be banned in the United States of America? You are owned by a Chinese communist company. Your company based in China. The editor in chief of your parent company is a communist party secretary. Your company has been surveilling Americans for years.

According to leaked audio for more than 80 internal tic toc meetings, China based employees of your company have repeatedly access nonpublic data of United States citizens. Your company has tracked journalists, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses, user data in an attempt to identify whether they're writing negative stories about you. Why should -- your platform is basically an espionage arm for the Chinese Communist Party. Why should you not be banned in the United States of America?

SHOU Zi CHEW, CEO, TIKTOK: Senator, I disagree with your characterization. Many of what you have said, we have explained in a lot of detail. TikTok is used by 170 million Americans.

HAWLEY: I know when every single one of those Americans are in danger from the fact that you track their keystrokes. You track their app usage. You track their location data. And we know that all of that information can be accessed by Chinese employees who are subject to the dictates of the Chinese Communist Party. Why should you not be banned in this country?

CHEW: Senator, that is not accurate. A lot of what you describe we collect, we don't. HAWLEY: It is 100 percent accurate. Do you deny that repeatedly, Americans data has been accessed by ByteDance employees in China.

CHEW: We built a project that cost us billions of dollars to stop that. And we have made a lot of progress.

HAWLEY: And it hasn't been stopped. According to The Wall Street Journal report from just yesterday. Even now, ByteDance workers without going through official channels have access to the private information of American citizens importing from the article, private information of American citizens including their birthday, their IP address and more, that's now.

CHEW: Senator, as we know, the media doesn't always get it right.

HAWLEY: But the Chinese Communist Party does?

CHEW: I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that we have spent billions of dollars to build this project is rigorous, is robust, is unprecedented. And I'm proud of the work that the 2000 employees are doing to protect the data.

HAWLEY: It's not protected. That's the problem Mr. Chew. It's not protected at all. It's subject to Communist Chinese party inspection and review your app unlike anybody else sitting here and heaven knows, I've got problems with everybody here. But your app unlike any of those is subject to the control and inspection of a foreign hostile government that has actively trying to track the information of whereabouts of every American that they get their hands on. Your app ought to be banned in the United States of America for the security of this country. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As we've heard children face all sorts of dangers when they use social media from mental health ----

BASH: As we continue to listen to this hearing. We just have to say, wow, what we all just saw live on television is going to be a moment for the ages. When we just saw Senator Josh Hawley asked Mark Zuckerberg if he had apologized to the families, many of whom are there in the audience, an audience that the chair of this committee Dick Durbin said earlier was the biggest that he has seen in his 22 years on the Judiciary Committee.

And then Mark Zuckerberg stood up, turned around and spoke to the families. He was off mic, so we don't know exactly what he said. I know that we're trying to get some audible tape of exactly what he said. But that moment is something that I believe that we are going to be looking back on and talking about for quite some time.


I have my panel here, happens to be four moms. And you know, obviously this is Inside Politics. This is a Washington hearing but one of the reasons that people are so incredibly animated about this -- passionate angry about this is because of what this means for children. The fact that there are people in the audience there on Capitol Hill who lost their children.

They very much believed because the social media companies were not properly regulated. They're not self-regulated. And we should say that the United States Congress also has not done anything to update the existing legislation, which was not written in a way to deal with the technology that we have right now.

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: The technology that exists right now was not there when that legislation was written. This is not the first hearing that Congress has held. There has been a slow and then very fast evolution about how Congress has reacted to the social media companies. There was a time when they were -- they had a halo and that halo is gone, cracked on the floor.

And at this point, though, that the challenge is, you know, well, not a challenge, for once there's something that there is bipartisan agreement on, they are deeply worried these members of Congress are deeply worried about what social media is doing to the fabric of society, and in particular, what it's doing to children. But they haven't figured out a way to actually do something beyond these sort of public shaming.

BASH: Kylie?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I also think it's very clear that Zuckerberg is on his heels here. And what he said to the committee there was that it's their job to build tools to help parents. But what he's not saying is what he agrees those tools should be.

You know, basically, he's put the onus on the App Store's, trying to point to Google or Apple. But he really hasn't owned responsibility for Meta or for Facebook, when he was asked, you know, if they would compensate the families of these children who have been harmed due to this awful contents on his platform. He wouldn't give an answer to that question.

BASH: We're going to sneak in a quick break. But Nia, go ahead.

HENDERSON: I mean, we were talking about the idea that we're moms, I have a three-year-old and I sort of just hope and pray that these social media platforms won't around right, when my daughter is of age. They are very harmful, especially to girls. I think that's been the focus, but also to young boys, who look on there and sort of look at different images and think that they have to live up to those images. So, it's an important hearing. We'll see if anything ---

BASH: As we go to break, I just want to quote the great Kara Swisher who knows more about this topic than anybody on the planet. She just put on X. Huge public disaster for tech here though, Lindsey Graham and the rest of the polls will do zip of substance to stop them. That is very important to that reality check there. We're going to take a quick break. Be back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



BASH: Welcome back. We're going to get straight back to Capitol Hill and House Speaker Mike Johnson.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Parenting and controls, I think that that's like our families apart. Victoria McCauley from Baton Rouge was only 29 years old when she lost her life to fentanyl. She was buried by her parents. Leaving behind her brother and her sister and her young son.

Alex Stenson is another victim like Victoria. He was from Baton Rouge. And sadly, also like Victoria he died from fentanyl poisoning before his 30th birthday. Leaving behind a heartbroken mom and dad and sister. Near Slidell, Louisiana. Just last week, a precious two-year- old child who is found dead in her home with fentanyl in her system. Moms and dads, brothers and grandmothers, all of us are losing loved ones to a drug that has been smuggled across the border in droves.

It's a parent's worst nightmare, of course, burying a child. And sadly, because of our open border more and more parents are having to experience that unspeakable tragedy. That leads the American people to ask a very important question. And it is one that we have been asking on this side of the aisle for a long, long time. Where in the world is Secretary Mayorkas on all of this?

He is the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. It's his responsibility to prevent these harmful drugs from flowing into our country and to secure that border. And he's done nothing of the sort. As we've heard from border patrol agents, he's doing exactly the opposite.

He's handicapping law enforcement. He's limiting their ability to catch narcotics like fentanyl. He's making it virtually impossible. They say in their own words, and they told us down on the border at Eagle Pass, it's impossible to do the job that they were trained to do. Perhaps the secretary is busy identifying more people on the list that he can release on parole.

BASH: We're going to continue to monitor House Speaker Mike Johnson. He is now making the case for an impeachment of the Homeland Security, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas as he also talks about issues related to the border. We're going to go back though right now to that tech CEO hearing where Tom Cotton, Republican senator of Arkansas is pressing the questions about China and its involvement in these companies specifically TikTok.

CHEW: Well, it's a coincidence.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): It's a coincidence that the CFO -- that the Chinese Communist Party took its golden share and its board seat and the very next day you were appointed the CEO of TikTok. That's a hell of a coincidence. CHEW: It really is, Senator.

COTTON: Yeah, it is. OK. And before ByteDance, you were at a Chinese company called Xiaomi. Is that correct?

CHEW: Yes. I used to work around the world.

COTTON: Where did you live when you worked at Xiaomi?

CHEW: I lived in China.


COTTON: Where exactly?

CHEW: In Beijing in China.

COTTON: How many years did you live in Beijing?

CHEW: Senator, I worked there for about five years.

COTTON: So, you lived there for five years?

CHEW: Yes.

COTTON: Is it the case that Xiaomi was sanctioned by the United States government in 2021 for being a communist Chinese military company?

CHEW: I'm here to TikTok. I think they then had lawsuit and it was overturned. I can't remember that. It's another company.

COTTON: No, no. Biden administration that reverse their sanctions, just like -- by the way, they reversed the terrorist designation on the Houthis in Yemen. How's that working out for them? But it was sanctioned as a Chinese communist military company. So, you said today, as you often say that you live in Singapore. Of what nation are you a citizen?

CHEW: Singaporean.

COTTON: Are you a citizen of any other nation?


COTTON: Have you ever applied for Chinese citizenship?

CHEW: Senator, I serve my nation in Singapore. No, I did not.

COTTON: Do you have a Singaporean passport?

CHEW: Yes. And I served my military for two and a half years.

COTTON: Do you have any other passports from any other nation?


COTTON: Your wife is an American citizen. Your children are American citizens?

CHEW: That's correct.

COTTON: Have you ever applied for American citizenship?

CHEW: No, not yet.

COTTON: OK. Have you ever been a member of the Chinese Communist Party?

CHEW: Senator, I'm Singaporean. No.

COTTON: Have you ever been associated or affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party?

CHEW: No, Senator, again, I'm Singaporean.

COTTON: Let me ask you some hopefully simple questions. You said earlier in response to your question, that what happened at Tiananmen Square in June of 1989, was a massive protest. Anything else happen in Tiananmen Square?

CHEW: Yes. I think it's well documented. There was a massacre.

COTTON: There was an indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds or thousands of Chinese citizens. Do you agree with the Trump administration and the Biden administration that the Chinese government is committing genocide against the Uyghur people?

CHEW: Senator, I've said this before. I think is really important to anyone who cares about this topic, or any topic can freely express themselves on TikTok.

COTTON: It's a very simple question that unites both parties in our country and governments around the world. Is the Chinese government committing genocide against the Uyghur people?

CHEW: Senator, anyone, including, you know, you can come ---


COTTON: I'm asking you -- you are a broadly cosmopolitan well-educated man who's expressed many opinions on many topics. Is the Chinese government committing genocide against the Uyghur people.

CHEW: Actually, Senator, I talk mainly about my company and I'm here to talk about what TikTok does.

COTTON: Yes or no? You're here to give testimony that's truthful and honest and complete. Let me ask you this. Joe Biden last year said that Xi Jinping was a dictator. Do you agree with Joe Biden is Xi Jinping a dictator?

CHEW: Senator, I'm not going to comment on any world leaders.

COTTON: Why don't you answer these very simple questions? CHEW: Senator, it's not appropriate for me as a businessman to comment on a world leader.

COTTON: Are you scared that you'll lose your job if you say anything about -- negative about the Chinese Communist Party?

CHEW: I disagree that. You will find content that is critical of China---

COTTON: If next time you go, are you scared that you'll be arrested and disappear the next time you go to mainland China?

CHEW: Senator, you will find content is critical of China and any other country freely on TikTok.

COTTON: OK. OK. Let's turn to what TikTok tool of the Chinese Communist Party is doing to America's youth. Does the name Mason Aiden's ring a bell?

CHEW: Senator, you may have to give me more specifics if you don't mind.

COTTON: Yeah. He was a 16-year-old a Kansan after a breakup in 2022. He went on your platform and search for things like inspirational quotes and positive affirmations. Instead, he was served up numerous videos, glamorizing suicide until he killed himself by gun. What about the name Chase Nasca that ring a bell?

CHEW: Would you mind giving me more details, please.

COTTON: He was a 16-year-old who saw more than a thousand videos on your platform about violence and suicide until he took his own life by stepping in front of a plane or train. Are you aware that his parents, Dean and Michelle are suing TikTok and ByteDance for pushing their son to take his own life?

CHEW: Yes, I'm aware of that.

COTTON: OK. Finally, Mr. Chew. Has the Federal Trade Commission sued TikTok during the Biden administration?

CHEW: Senator, I cannot talk about whether there's any ongoing.

COTTON: Are you currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission?

CHEW: Senator, I cannot talk about any potential loss of ---

COTTON: Having potential actual, are you being sued by the Federal Trade Commission.

CHEW: Senator, I think I've given you my answer. I cannot talk about it.

COTTON: The answer is no. Ms. Yaccarino's (Ph) company is being sued I believe. Mr. Zuckerberg's company is being sued I believe. Yet TikTok, the agent of the Chinese Communist Party is not being sued by the Biden administration. Are you familiar with the name Christina Farah?

CHEW: You may have to give me more details.

COTTON: Christina Farah was a paid advisor to ByteDance. Your communist influence parent company. She was in hired by the Biden FTC to advise on how to sue Mr. Zuckerberg's company.

BASH: So, you'll be listening to this absolutely crackling hearing on Capitol Hill. Senate Judiciary Committee grilling tech CEOs, this one particular Tom Cotton is pressing the CEO of TikTok. Two, first you heard him trying to get the CEO to criticize the Chinese government as a way to test whether or not he is truly independent of China.