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Big Tech CEOs Testify at Online Child Safety Hearing; Speaker Johnson Addresses House Amid Border Deal Negotiations; Democrats Lean in on Border Security as GOP Seems Likely to Kill Deal; Biden Says He Has Decided How to Respond to Attack in Jordan; Framework for Potential Hostage Release and Ceasefire in Gaza Presented to Hamas. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 31, 2024 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': -- grilling tech CEOs. This one in particular, Tom Cotton is pressing the CEO of TikTok to, 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. And then, most specifically and perhaps importantly for the whole content of this hearing, talked about two Arkansans, 16-year-olds who died by suicide, the Senator saying that it was after they consumed information on TikTok.

We're going to continue to monitor this. It is clearly, again, one we will remember this hearing. The question is whether or not it will have any effect on finally changing or updating legislation.

We'll be right back.


SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): So what do we have here? We have a company that's a tool of the Chinese Communist Party.




BASH: Welcome back to "Inside Politics." A very busy day on Capitol Hill and the tech CEO hearing is taking a little bit of a break. So while they do that, I want to make sure our viewers see what happened maybe about 20 minutes ago. Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, pressing the CEO of Meta, Facebook, to address the families who are in the audience, many of whom had and have children, family members, young ones, who have been hurt or even have died, they say as a result of the policies or lack of policing by his company.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): This, let me ask you this. There's families of victims here today. Have you apologized to the victims? MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER & CEO OF META: I --

HAWLEY: Would you like to do so now?


HAWLEY: They're here, you're on national television, would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your platform? Show him the pictures.


HAWLEY: Would you like to apologize to what you've done to these good people?

ZUCKERBERG: I'm sorry (inaudible) your families have suffered and this --


BASH: So he wasn't mic-ed. You can see he is addressing, they are holding up photos -- looks like photos from their children. And we do have from -- our Clare Duffy who is in the room, quotes of what he was saying. What Zuckerberg said was, "This is why we've invested so much to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families have gone through."

And then, he was asked about whether or not he's going to compensate the families who were affected by the lack of policy or at least policing of their own policy on the platforms, and he didn't really answer that. Tamara Keith?

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I said this during the break, but I'll say it on TV. This has echoes of the tobacco hearings from the 1990s that really shifted the American public's perception of cigarettes. And there is this power that Congress has, which when it's bipartisan, when you have a hearing that is this captivating, there are times where a Congressional hearing can sort of break through the public discourse and change public perceptions of the dangers of something, with cigarettes, or in this case, with social media.

In terms of where it goes from here, Facebook, just as an example, has for years, literally years, been saying "Regulate us, please regulate us, we'd love to be regulated." And yet, nothing has happened, in part because they have effectively lobbied to kill anything that could potentially affect them.

BASH: That is such an important point. Listen, what -- what we see here is a public shaming of the CEOs which a lot of people in this country are very happy to see. And you could see how sort of worked up these Senators are in a bipartisan way. But it's pretty clear, because these companies have been around for a decade plus now, that the self- policing isn't working.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICS & POLICY COLUMNIST, BLOOMBERG: Right. BASH: And so the question is, what's known as Section 230, which is now an antiquated law, the only one on the books that really addresses them, whether it actually is going to be updated. And whether it's because these members of Congress don't really understand the sort of ins and outs, which I get that it's hard to understand, the ins and outs of social media, or because it is so complicated or something in between, they haven't done anything yet. And the big question right now is, whether there will be consequences like in tobacco, where the laws did change. And that was not easy.

Now looking back, you think, of course, cigarettes are dangerous. But at the time, it was very, very difficult. It was an uphill battle to get lawmakers here in Washington to address it and we don't know if this is even close.

HENDERSON: Right. And part of what shifted with, you know, tobacco, I mean, in tobacco, if you remember when it first came out, cigarettes, I mean, you would see pictures of pregnant women --

BASH: Yep.

HENDERSON: -- smoking cigarettes and doctors smoking cigarettes. Part of what happened is that people died, right? Lots of people died of cancer and all sorts of related diseases.


HENDERSON: We have testimony from people here. You heard, for instance, Tom Cotton talking about young boys who addicted to TikTok, addicted to social media, and ended up taking their lives because of the images that they saw. I mean, part of this is that Americans themselves have to take some responsibility and raise their ounce of (ph) awareness about their own addiction to social media and realize it does have harmful effects to them, and it could be dangerous to kids.

BASH: Hailey [ph], hold your thought. I know you have lots of them. We're going to sneak in a quick break. Don't go anywhere.



BASH: On this very busy day, we've been monitoring Mike Johnson giving his first House floor speech as Speaker, as he vows to follow Donald Trump's lead and oppose the most substantial bipartisan border security package that has even begun to come together, that's been going on in the U.S. Senate. I want to go back to Capitol Hill. Manu Raju is still there and has been listening to the House Speaker. Manu, what did he say?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he actually went after the Biden Administration pretty aggressively, attacking them for he says not taking executive actions that he argues could have dealt with this crisis at the border. The administration has pushed back at those characterizations and said that, essentially that Congress needs to change the law. The Speaker says not so. The Speaker also criticized the Senate compromise, the emerging Senate deal, and calling it so-called deals that is not transformational policy. And that has actually generated significant amount of pushback across the Capitol among Senators, but Johnson made -- directed a lot of his fire towards the Biden Administration and the White House. Listen.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON, (R-LA) SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We've learned that the Biden Administration is now simply, just simply releasing 85 percent of the illegals who come across that border right into the country. They're coming to a neighborhood near you. For reference, by the way, if you're watching the metrics, in 2013, the Obama Administration, listen to this, the Obama Administration detained 82 percent of the illegal aliens. How do we go from detaining 82 percent to releasing 85 percent? It only happens if this is by design, it only happens if it is an orchestrated intentional effort by the administration to do exactly that. And that --


RAJU: But there's been pushback towards Speaker Johnson from Senate Republicans who say his arguments among the Senate deal simply are wrong. In fact, that is what the Senate -- top Senate GOP Negotiator James Lankford told me earlier today, that the criticisms that this bill would not clamp down on border crossings is simply wrong.


RAJU: The former president calls this a betrayal, is that a -- what do you think of that characterization?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): It's certainly not a betrayal. Actually, we've got to be able to deal with issues in law. That's how we actually deal with things in America.

REP. BILL CASSIDY, (R-LA): Does he have access to the bill?

RAJU: Doesn't seem that way.

CASSIDY: It hasn't been released. How does he know it's a betrayal if he hasn't read it? I mean, don't be ignorant, read the bill.


RAJU: That last comment from Senator Cassidy referring to a comment that Former President Donald Trump made over the weekend, referring to Senate bipartisan deal as a betrayal. But you're hearing pushback from there, Dana, but none -- nevertheless, that is really driving so much of the discussion, the debate that is happening behind closed doors, and expect that debate to continue in just a matter of minutes when Senate Republicans gather behind closed doors to figure out whether to abandon this bipartisan deal altogether because of Trump's opposition and also the Speaker's opposition. BASH: The politics of immigration never cease to amaze, even after all these decades, covering the almost getting to a deal, to even have a baby step towards revising this very, very broken immigration system. And there we go, Manu --

RAJU: Speaker Johnson, Mr. Speaker, do you have a second?

OK. He was on the phone there, Dana. But I tried.


BASH: "On the phone?" I just did air quotes, by the way. We all know sometimes, they're not always on the phone. But it's a good way to avoid you, which is not easy.

RAJU: In fairness, he did look like he actually was talking to someone.


BASH: OK, I'm just teasing. Manu, see, that's why we have you there. Because you never know when the Speaker is going to walk by. We'll talk a little bit later at another time about the very important substance that he was discussing, suggesting that the current president can do more with his powers. And as you said, the Republicans in the Senate are saying, "No, there needs to be a big change." Manu, thanks for all that great reporting.

RAJU: Thank you.

BASH: Coming up, we'll talk to a key member of Congress about everything happening on Capitol Hill and also in the Middle East.


[12:54:00] BASH: Welcome. As we have been saying, it is a very busy day on Capitol Hill. House Speaker Mike Johnson addressing the border crisis, Senators grilling social media CEOs, the FBI Director is there warning about the threat of China.

Here with me to talk about all of this, plus the big question of when and how the U.S. will respond to the killing of three U.S. military members in Jordan, Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado, a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees, and also a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thank you so much for being here today. First, I want to start on the other side of the Capitol. I know you have been very busy doing your job, but I am sure you've heard about the hearing going on, very fiery one, with these social media, these tech CEOs. Your fellow Democrat, Senator Chris Coons, just to give an example of what is happening there, he pressed the CEOs about whether they would support a bill to increase transparency. Watch this moment.

[12:55:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Is there anyone of you willing to say now that you support this bill?

Mr. Chairman, let the record reflect a yawning silence from the leaders of the social media platforms.


BASH: So Congressman, the question is after all of the sort of theater, all of the moments that we will remember for a while, are you all in Congress going to get anything done to actually legislate?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, I couldn't agree with my friend Chris Coons more, the lack of action, and frankly, for the lack of care for some of these large companies over the welfare of our children, what is happening with disinformation and misinformation, and how frankly social media and the algorithms that drive it are corrosive to the foundations of our democracy. It is a major problem.

And these entities, these companies have proven that they are not willing to actually police themselves. And that is why we should have sensible regulation. I am somebody that understands that regulation should be right-sized and overregulation can tamp down economic growth in some cases, but this is a very clear case of the need for some regulation because industry has not regulated themselves here.

BASH: Chances of that actually happening anytime soon?

CROW: Well, I'm not going to handicap the chances of passing foundational bills when, frankly, we have a --

BASH: Yeah.

CROW: -- Republican majority in Congress that literally won't even tell us what they are willing to do to negotiate. And when they do, they change their mind a month or two later or so, changes all the time.

BASH: Well, let's talk about maybe what you are referring to here, which is on the issue of the border, immigration more broadly. There is this Senate bipartisan border security deal. We heard from the Speaker of the House, now back to the side of the Capitol where you work, he made clear publicly what he has said before, which is that he does not think this bipartisan plan is right. We know that that decision came after the former president, the leader of the Republican GOP nomination race says he does not want to do this, largely because he wants to keep an issue on the table. What do you think the chances are of anything getting past these political realities?

CROW: Well, that depends on Speaker Johnson and the House Republicans because Democrats are ready and prepared to make a deal. Right? We understand there is a divided government and when there is that by the government, you have to compromise and make a deal. So what happened in the fall, let's review very quickly how we got here. Speaker Johnson came into this seat and he said the border has to be a part of Ukraine and Israel and national security funding. So we said, OK, let's start those discussions. And all of the Republicans in Congress said, We have got to address the border. It is essential. And Congress needs to take action to address the border.

You fast forward to today, Donald Trump said, hey, back off of the border, don't make a deal. Because he wants to politicize this and he wants to use this as a hit against President Biden in the election. And they all now are saying, well, Congress does not need to act. We do not need to make a deal. We should back off of it.

So they have completely changed their tune and they've done a 180 because Donald Trump has told them to do it. So they own this now. They own this issue and they own inaction because we have said we are willing to deal. The president came right out and said what he is willing to do, which is more than any -- a Democratic president in my lifetime has been willing to do. And they just simply walked away.

BASH: Congressman, I want to turn to one of the issues that is happening in the Middle East and that is the Israel-Hamas war. And specifically, news that negotiators are reportedly agreeing -- are close to agreeing on a framework which would include a pause in fighting. What are you hearing about any realistic path to get this hostage deal done? Get the remaining 100 plus, even more civilians who are inside Gaza, we believe, out.

CROW: First of all, I have to give a lot of credit to CIA Director Bill Burns, who is just an incredible leader and has led the U.S. discussions to try to strike a deal because two very important things need to happen right now. We need to get the hostages released, we need to get the folks home, and we actually have to protect civilians who are caught in the fighting, innocent Palestinians who continue to die at unacceptably high rates in the fighting right now. So we have to have a pause or stop to that fighting.

The hostage deal, as I understand it, would do those things. It would have a pause in the fighting, it would have a flow of humanitarian aid to prevent starvation and a very real humanitarian catastrophe that we are seeing unfold in Gaza, and bring those folks home and return them to their families.

So, I am pushing this very hard. We have to make sure it happens. But Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to derail this issue. He says he's not going to abide by various central elements to the deal. So, he really needs to step up and do the right thing here.

BASH: All right. We are out of time. But real quick, you do think it is close? The deal.

CROW: The hostage deal?

BASH: Yes.

[13:00:00] CROW: I think it could be close if the right people stand up and do the right thing. And Prime Minister Netanyahu has -- he has to come to the table here, and he hasn't done so yet.


Congressman Jason Crow, again, joining us on a busy day, appreciate your time.

CROW: Thank you.

BASH: And thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS.

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