Return to Transcripts main page
Isa Soares Tonight
Interest Rates Maintained by U.S. Federal Reserve; Elon Musk's $56B Pay Deal from Tesla Blocked by Delaware Judge; Lawmakers Question Tech CEOs About Online Child Safety; FBI Director's Warning: Chinese Hackers Determined to "Wreak Havoc" on U.S.; Second Multi-Year Prison Term Handed Down to Imran Khan, Ex-Pakistan PM; Israel-Hamas War; Israeli Prime Minister Under Pressure from All Sides; Netanyahu Assures Israelis He's Making Every Effort to Bring Israeli Hostages Home; Russia and Ukraine Exchange Prisoners of War After Plane Crash Prevented Last Swap; Big Tech CEOs Grilled on Child Safety on Capitol Hill. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired January 31, 2024 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LYNDA KINKADE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, a very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Isa Soares. Tonight, Benjamin
Netanyahu says he's making every effort to bring hostages home. But behind the scenes, it seems to be one step forward, two steps back. We'll go live
to Tel Aviv with the latest.
Then, a CNN exclusive. Ukraine's military spy chief speaks about the state of the war and those rumors of a rift between President Zelenskyy and his
top general. And some of the world's most powerful tech CEOs are told their platforms suck by U.S. lawmakers.
There's a fiery hearing on the Capitol today, looked into online child safety, we'll have all the details coming up. But we begin with the growing
hopes for a deal that could secure the return of hostages in Gaza and bring Palestinians at least some temporary relief from the months of relentless
Hamas is reviewing a proposal for a six-week truce said to have been hammered out by negotiators in Paris. It's a basic framework and there are
still many obstacles. But today, Israel's Prime Minister met with families of hostages and said, a real effort is being made to bring their loved ones
The framework deal has three phases. The first would see the release of civilian hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Mr.
Netanyahu is flatly rejecting Hamas' demands to end fighting and completely withdraw Israeli troops from Gaza.
Well, I want to bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond, who joins us now live from Tel Aviv. Good to have you there for us, Jeremy. So, it's almost four
months into this war in Gaza, and of course, you know, the horrific terror attack. I do want to play some sound from a mother whose son was taken
during the Hamas terror attack.
Shelly Shem-Tov says she hasn't seen her son since he went to that music festival, and she spoke to our Clarissa Ward. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHELLY SHEM-TOV, MOTHER OF OMER SHEM-TOV: We are tired. But we are doing everything. It's our mission of our life to bring my son back home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: So Jeremy, what comfort could these latest negotiations bring to someone like that mother who is living this nightmare?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, the strengthen and the resilience of mothers like her and the families of these
hostages has just been incredible to witness. But these can be some of the most difficult moments for these families when you are seeing so much
momentum, when you are seeing these reports about what could be the potential next deal to release their loved ones, that can sometimes be the
most difficult because they see different reports.
They're not quite sure what to believe, what's real, what's simply a fig leaf. But in this case, there is no question that there has been some real
momentum, the most momentum that we have seen since that last truce to release hostages fell apart in early December.
And the Israeli Prime Minister today telling the families of some hostages that he is committed in the fullest sense of the word, to securing their
release. But yesterday, he also made clear that he has several red lines. He said that he will not see the release of thousands of what he called
Palestinian terrorists in exchange for these hostages.
And he also said that he is very much committed to achieving not only the release of these hostages, but the second objective of this war, which is
to see Hamas removed from power in Gaza and dismantled as an organization. Those were the two objectives of the war that he set out, and he made clear
that this war will not end until they are released.
And so, there is still -- despite this broad framework that was reached between Israel, the United States, Egypt and Qatar over this past weekend
during this summit in Paris, there still remains an enormous gap between the Israeli position and Hamas' position, as Hamas has been seeking a
permanent ceasefire in order to release the remaining hostages.
KINKADE: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Jeremy Diamond for us in Tel Aviv, it's good to have you there on the story for us.
Well, an extremely tense situation right now is unfolding around a hospital in Khan Yunis. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says Israeli tanks is
still on Al-Amal Hospital grounds with snipers on the roofs of houses surrounding that hospital. Israel has been conducting a large-scale
military operation in Khan Yunis, which it considers a Hamas stronghold.
The IDF denies being inside the hospital. The United Nations Relief Agency in Gaza says nearly 200,000 people have been forced to leave Khan Yunis
just in the past few days amid fierce fighting. Thousands of displaced Palestinians, mainly women and children have been taking shelter inside the
Well, Sweden is the latest country to suspend funding to the main U.N. agency in Gaza. Swedish officials say the funds originally intended for
UNRWA, reportedly $38 million will quote, "go to other humanitarian organizations in Palestine and Lebanon.
The U.S. and more than a dozen other countries pulled funding following allegations made by Israel that 13 members of the relief agency took part
in the October 7 Hamas attacks. CNN cannot verify those claims. The United Nations Secretary-General says without aid, the humanitarian system in Gaza
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: I end this call, the importance of keeping UNRWA's vital work going to meet the dire needs of
civilians in Gaza and to ensure its continuity of services to Palestine refugees in the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
UNRWA is the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza. I appeal to all member states to guarantee the continuity of UNRWA's lifesaving work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan is the co-founder of Gaza Medic Voices and a pediatric intensive care specialist for Doctors Without Borders. She
joins us now from Jordan. Thanks so much for your time, doctor.
TANYA HAJ-HASSAN, PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE PHYSICIAN, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Thanks for having me, Lynda.
KINKADE: Sorry. I want to start with the current situation in Gaza because we are hearing reports that the Israeli military has surrounded Al-Amal
Hospital from colleagues you've been speaking, that are still working in Gaza. What are they telling you about that situation?
HAJ-HASSAN: Yes, thanks for that. Well, it's not just Al-Amal Hospital, it's the Nasser Medical complex as well, which is the largest hospital in
Khan Yunis. It's been under siege for a second week now, now Al-Amal Hospital has joined the numerous hospitals that have been taken under siege
that have been targeted, that have been put out of service.
In Nasser Medical Hospital, we knew that there are at least 150 medical staff, hundreds of wounded, thousands of displaced people in the targeted
area. And that in the last couple of days, they've run out of food, anesthetic medications, life-saving blood units or flood or transfusion and
their electric generators will soon run out of fuel.
Today, they're reporting that many of the wounded in the hospital have died as a consequence of the strangulation. Health care providers in the
hospital have been sending out SOS messages for a couple of weeks now, this is the Nasser Medical Complex, one of our colleagues essentially -- I want
to say earlier, maybe 3-4 days ago, sent us a message saying, and I quote, "please, keep talking about us.
Even if we do not make it to the end, maybe you can save others. I'm worried about my friends in Nasser Hospital and about my family too." And I
think that's -- everybody's seen the fate hospital by hospital that's been besieged. That's been targeted. They've seen the fate of those hospitals
unfold, and now we're left with only a handful of hospitals that haven't come under these direct attacks and besieging.
And we're watching those hand-full of hospitals now succumb to the same fate, the same violations of international humanitarian law, and the same,
you know, unanimously-condemned attacks. And Lynda, I just want to say, you know, people who have seen everything, humanitarian workers who have worked
in war after war after war, have run out of just words to describe this.
This is a massacre that is frighteningly unprecedented in modern day history in terms of scale, speed, severity. You know, the organizations
including the United Nations were warning about a "grave risk of genocide to the Palestinian people."
And that's a quote. As early as the 19th of October last year, and here we are several months later with every single day since humanitarian and human
rights organizations consistently and unanimously describing in vivid detail denouncing and condemning the atrocities, the devastating level of
human suffering inflicted upon the civilian population in Gaza and the violations of international humanitarian law.
KINKADE: And we're going to have --
HAJ-HASSAN: What is that --
KINKADE: Been discussing that, but I -- if doctor, if I can just ask you about what's happening in terms of the investigation with UNRWA, the U.N.
Relief and Works Agency, which of course, operates throughout the Middle East, but in Gaza. Israel claims some of its employees were involved in the
horrific terror attack carried out by Hamas.
Those employees have been stood down. A growing number of countries is stopping funding this U.N. agency as a result of that. I understand you
spoke to the UNRWA head of health. What can you tell us about that discussion?
HAJ-HASSAN: I don't need to tell you anything about that particular discussion. What I can tell you is that UNRWA is completely essential. It
is the biggest humanitarian provider in Gaza. The Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council said a few days ago, all of us combined, every
single humanitarian organization combined, all of us combined are not even close to bringing what UNRWA is for the people of Gaza.
So cutting UNRWA funding is cutting a lifeline. It's last nail in the coffin for a community that is completely like living at catastrophic
levels of suffering. And just a few days ago, the International Court of Justice, based on the genocide convention, ordered -- and I quote, "an
immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently-needed basic services and humanitarian assistance."
KINKADE: Yes, it's going to be arson --
HAJ-HASSAN: However you interpret -- however you interpret those measures, no life-saving effect to humanitarian aid can be delivered without a
ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire, and full uninterrupted aid for all humanitarian actors.
KINKADE: Yes --
HAJ-HASSAN: When you cut off the main lifeline of humanitarian aid, you are not complying with that term. And several countries have now joined in, in
cutting off funding from UNRWA in direct contra indication to the spirit of that ICJ ruling --
KINKADE: Well, and that --
HAJ-HASSAN: Few of us that are left, few humanitarian organizations that are left in a very dire situation, unable to support a population that is -
- and I can -- I can describe to you the type of suffering I'm hearing today, the 31st of January from my colleagues on the ground. They are
freezing. They are in flooded tents.
They are physicians, nurses, colleagues of mine, people I've known for over a decade who are freezing in tents, have lost multiple members of their
families, have lost --
KINKADE: Yes, it's an absolute really horrific --
HAJ-HASSAN: Trying --
KINKADE: State, it's a horrific situation. We are going to continue to cover what's unfolding there and also the investigation into UNRWA. I'm so
sorry to cut you off --
HAJ-HASSAN: Excuse me, I just want to --
KINKADE: But we have to leave it there for now.
HAJ-HASSAN: I just want to end with one thing, because we are constantly being derailed by these preposterous justifications to continue this
unimaginable and unprecedented level of human suffering. We're better than that as a human race. I just want to say --
KINKADE: Yes --
HAJ-HASSAN: Has to be an immediate ceasefire and unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid. I am pleading with anybody watching today to do what it
is -- what is in your power to make sure this is not the world that we live in for another second.
KINKADE: Yes, we can only hope, Dr. Tanya Haj-Hassan, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it, thank you. Well, the most powerful
Iran-backed militia in Iraq says it's suspending military operations against American forces in the region. The announcement coming two days
after a drone strike killed three U.S. service members in Jordan.
It was a surprising move from the group, which says it is stepping back, quote, "in order to prevent embarrassment to the Iraqi government". Well,
our Oren Liebermann is following the developments and joins us now. So Oren, just explain to us. Give us -- give us the latest.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lynda, this statement came from Kataib, Hezbollah; the most powerful Iran-backed militia in Iraq.
It was quite a surprise coming out yesterday, Kataib Hezbollah, KH saying that they would cease their operations against U.S. forces in the region,
as you point out, so as not to embarrass the Iraqi government.
They also told the organizations they work with are the groups that are under them to go into more of a passive defense if they come under attack
according to the statement they released. Now, shortly after that statement came out, the Pentagon here held a press briefing and they were asked about
What influence or how that might affect the calculus of the United States, which has promised to respond to the drone attack on Sunday that killed
three U.S. service members, and the Pentagon's response was simply actions speak louder than words. Since the beginning of the Gaza war, there have
been more than 166 attacks on U.S. forces in the region, including many, which are attributed to Kataib Hezbollah, including several attacks not
specifically attributed to KH since that drone attack that killed U.S. service members.
So, the attacks have continued regardless of the statement from Kataib Hezbollah that came yesterday. Now, it is worth pointing out that just a
short time ago, the White House said they had attributed responsibility for the attack on Sunday.
They didn't point specifically at Kataib Hezbollah, but they said they attributed to the umbrella resistance group called the Islamic Resistance
in Iraq -- I'm sorry, the umbrella group called the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, which includes Kataib Hezbollah, that Lynda, this may give some
inkling of an idea of how the U.S. might carry out its response to that drone attack, which they have said could be multi-phased instead of
targeting a single organization here or a single group.
The U.S. might be going after some or perhaps even many of these groups as it prepares its response.
KINKADE: OK, we'll wait and see what that response will be. Oren Liebermann for us at the Pentagon. Thank you so much. Well, still to come tonight,
Ukraine and Russia carry out a major prisoner exchange. It comes just as Vladimir Putin points the finger at an American weapons system for a fiery
crash last week.
Plus, social media titans testifying in Washington over claims their apps are harming teenagers. We'll bring you the highlights from that tense
KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade, good to have you with us. Well, the Russian President says the military transport plane that crashed in the
Belgorod region last week was downed by a U.S. Patriot missile system. President Putin is calling for an international investigation into that
The president claims two Patriots were fired last Wednesday from territory- controlled by Ukraine. Kyiv has already launched its own investigation into that crash. Well, today, Russia and Ukraine swapped hundreds of prisoners
These are fresh images coming in of some of the Ukrainian celebrating their release. Ukrainian government called it quote, "the second major exchange
after a long break." Well, joining us now is CNN's Frederik Pleitgen who comes to us live from Kyiv, good to have you with us, Fred.
So, Russia claims that Ukraine shot down this transport plane, and that there was 65 Ukrainian POWs on board. In light of their prisoner exchange
we've seen today, what more do we know about that crush and who was on board?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not impossible to say who exactly was on board, but I think one of the things
that is certainly significant, Lynda, is the fact that this exchange took place despite the fact that, that Russian plane crashed in Belgorod a week
And one of the things that the Russians said after that plane crashed, and they claimed that the Ukrainians were behind it, is that it was unclear
what was going to happen to prisoner exchanges in the future and whether or not any would take place. And now, only a week later, we do have this very
large prisoner exchange with 217 Ukrainian -- 207, excuse me, Ukrainians released and the Russians saying 196 Russians released for their part.
The Ukrainians continue to cast doubt on the Russians, saying there were 65 POWs on the plane that crashed. They say so far, they have not seen any
evidence put forward by the Russians, but that will confirm that, that was indeed the case. The Ukrainians are calling for an independent
international organization with independent investigators on the ground.
They say so far, the Russians are not allowing them, so they continue to cast doubt on the Russians claiming that those 65 POWs were onboard that
plane when it crashed, Lynda.
KINKADE: And Fred, you had an interesting interview with the Defense Intelligence chief of Ukraine. Take us through the key takeaways.
PLEITGEN: Yes, so Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency for Ukraine is probably one of the people that the Russian military
and probably Vladimir Putin as well hates the most. That Defense Intelligence Agency is said to be behind a lot of cross-border or
operations targeting Russian infrastructure, targeting the Russian military on occupied territory in Ukraine, but also inside Russia as well.
We spoke about a range of topics. One of the main ones of course, is possible continued military aid to Ukraine by the United States. Here's
what we learned.
PLEITGEN (voice-over): With Ukraine facing a Russian onslaught in many frontline areas, Kyiv says continued U.S. military aid is more important
than ever, Ukraine's military Intel chief tells us.
KYRYLO BUDANOV, HEAD, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE, UKRAINE (through translator): Shells are one of the most decisive factors in this war. It's about
quantity, not so much the quality as the quantity. Next, there are assault aircrafts. These are aircrafts of the type that the United States has, like
the A-10 Thunderbolt II and so on. This is what can really help inflict a military defeat.
PLEITGEN: But further military aid to Ukraine hangs in the balance as Democrats accuse former President Trump of derailing a possible compromise.
Budanov says he's not concerned about Trump.
BUDANOV: He's an experienced person. He's fallen many times and gotten back up again. And this is a very serious trait. To say that he and the
Republican Party are lovers of the Russian federation is complete nonsense.
PLEITGEN: But the Russians are currently on the offensive, on the frontlines, we've seen Kyiv's forces suffering a severe lack of ammunition,
struggling to hold the line. Still, Budanov says he believes the tides will turn and Ukraine will attack.
BUDANOV: In my opinion, the main events on the battlefield will start happening sometime in the Spring or early Summer.
PLEITGEN: Vladimir Putin wants Kyrylo Budanov dead. The Ukrainians say, Moscow tried to assassinate him at least ten times. Recently, Budanov's
wife and several bodyguards fell ill after what Kyiv says was poisoning by a quote, "heavy metal", but they survived.
The Military Intelligence Directorate is said to be behind an increasing number of cross-border attacks, targeting key infrastructure inside Russia
and the occupied territories. While never claiming responsibility, Budanov tells me Russians can rest-assured the war has come to them.
BUDANOV: I believe that the plan includes all major critical infrastructure facilities and military infrastructure facilities of the Russian
PLEITGEN: With Ukraine's offensive essentially stagnant, the Kremlin is currently feasting on rumors Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is
close to firing his top General, Valerii Zaluzhnyi and possibly installing Budanov as his successor, the spy chief boy.
(on camera): Isn't that something that we can -- so the country, if it appears as though the president and his top General are not on the same
BUDANOV: I am also the head of one of the military agencies. I personally have no conflicts with anyone.
PLEITGEN: You know, people are talking about you possibly being the new General.
BUDANOV: If I was appointed yesterday, would we be meeting?
PLEITGEN: And one of the other things that Budanov also said to me is that, he said that he and his Intelligence service will keep fighting until
Ukraine has won back all of its territory. Lynda.
KINKADE: All right, fascinating interview there. Good to have you on the story for us, Frederik Pleitgen, thanks so much from Kyiv, Ukraine. Well,
in Russia, an opposition candidate has declared his intention to run against Vladimir Putin. Boris Nadezhdin says he's collected enough
signatures to qualify for the ballot, he must wait to be registered as an official candidate. CNN's Clare Sebastian has more.
CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Boris Nadezhdin has now done everything he can to try to get on the ballot in Russia's upcoming
The decision now rests at least on paper with Russia's Central Election Commission, which has ten days to make a decision. And Nadezhdin himself
admitted that even though he actually collected double the number of signatures needed, even though there were lines outside his headquarters,
he could still be denied on a technicality.
Another anti-war candidate was barred about a month ago because of alleged errors with her paperwork. Well, it is a given that Putin will win this
election, but the reason why Nadezhdin matters is because he's revealed arrest, spark of dissent and anti-war feeling in Russia, a spark that he
says is growing fast. Will it boil over into protests if he's not allowed to run is a big question. This is what he had to say about that on
BORIS NADEZHDIN, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION CANDIDATE (through translator): Not under any circumstance, never will I call on my supporters to violate
Russian law. I'm acting on principle in strict accordance with the constitution of the Russian federation with the laws of the Russian
So, there won't be any calls to action, no unsanctioned demonstrations, no, God forbid, some kind of 'Maidan' for me. Never, whatever might happen.
However, I believe that all Russian citizens have constitutional rights, one of which the 31st article is the right to gather peacefully without
weapons and express your opinion.
SEBASTIAN: Well, there was a caveat at the end there. But no, "Maidan", he says, referring to the protests that toppled Ukraine's pro-Russian
president a decade ago. But this is not a crisis, but it is a delicate moment for the Kremlin. If he's allowed to run, the speculation is, this
gives Putin an opportunity to defeat an anti-war candidate, securing what he could then say, is a renewed mandate to keep fighting.
But then again, that anti-war sentiment that Nadezhdin has exposed could grow, if on the other hand, he's barred, then the Kremlin might be able to
nip that spark of dissent in the bud. But of course, risks appearing rattled by it. Clare Sebastian, CNN, London.
KINKADE: Well, still to come, the dangers of social media back on the spotlight on Capitol Hill. We'll have a live report from Washington after
some of the most powerful names in tech faced a grilling. And to chilling warning from the FBI director, the threat he says China poses to the U.S.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade.
Just a short time ago, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that interest rates are staying put for the time being. The rate hasn't moved since the
summer after 11 consecutive hikes starting in spring 2022. The Fed is hoping that the current rate can keep driving down inflation while consumer
confidence looks to be improving.
Matt Egan is following the announcement for us in New York. So, this is the fourth time in a row that rates have stayed on high -- I mean, on hold, I
MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS AND ECONOMY REPORTER: That's right, Lynda. Now, the Fed took no action today, but it did make some significant changes to the
statement. And those changes do signal that lower interest rates are likely on the way eventually.
Now, let me draw your attention to a key line that was inserted into the very closely watched statement that the Fed put out, that officials wrote,
"The committee does not expect it will be appropriate to reduce the target range until it has gained greater confidence that inflation is moving
sustainably toward two percent. Let me translate that Fed speak for you. Officials are basically saying, yes, interest rates are likely going lower.
But no, it may not be imminent. This may not happen in the next meeting in March.
Another line that was added here by Fed officials say that they believe that the risks of achieving their inflation and employment goals, they've
come in better balance. Previously, they were all worried about inflation. Now, they're saying we have to be concerned about jobs as well.
Now, big picture, Lynda, this is a big test for the Fed. They've got to get this just right because if they start cutting interest rates too soon, that
could actually boost demand, right? If it's cheaper to borrow, then it's going to lift demand for houses and for cars and for appliances, and that
could actually make inflation worse. But if they wait too long, then they could put too much pressure on the economy, and that could actually cause
the recession that they have been trying to avoid. They've got to get this just right.
And so, starting now, actually, Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Fed, he's going to be taking questions from reporters, and we're going to be
listening very closely to what he says about exactly when they're going to start cutting interest rates and what it's going to take for them to start
KINKADE: All right. Well, it was an interesting statement they put out, and always a balancing act trying to make this move.
But I have to ask you about another story that's making headlines today. Billionaire Elon Musk being overpaid by Tesla, according to a court case.
Take us through it.
EGAN: Yes, this was a shocking ruling out of Delaware. A judge in that state found that Elon Musk's 2018 pay package from Tesla is getting thrown
out. The judge found that neither Tesla nor Elon Musk were able to justify this pay package. And this is obviously a huge deal because that
compensation package really helped make Elon Musk the richest person on the planet. This was $303 million stock options, and at today's prices, this
pay package is valued at $51 billion dollars, billion with a B.
Now, it's worth noting that shareholders don't have all that much to complain about in terms of results. I mean, Tesla today is worth more than
$600 billion. Back in 2018, when this pay package was approved, the company was only worth $54 billion. So, we're talking about a thousand percent
return. Nonetheless, though, a judge striking it down.
Now, Elon Musk responded by taking aim at the state of Delaware. He put out a tweet on his social media platform, X, saying, "Never incorporate your
company in the state of Delaware," where Tesla is incorporated and many other corporations. He actually put up a poll on X asking his followers,
his millions of followers, whether or not Tesla should move its incorporation out of Delaware to Texas where the physical headquarters is
Lynda, this is now going to be a big test for Tesla's board. What do they do? Do they appeal this or do they try to lock up Elon Musk in a different
Because at the end of the day, as one analyst put it, Elon Musk is Tesla and Tesla is Elon Musk, and there can be no uncertainty among investors
about where his loyalties lie.
KINKADE: Yes, exactly. And for those not following as closely, that court ruling was in Delaware, hence that tweet. But it is fascinating. I thought
it was million dollars, billion dollars, $56 billion dollars. Good to have you on the story, Matt Egan. Thanks so much.
EGAN: Thanks, Lynda.
KINKADE: Well, the CEOs of five big tech companies, Meta, TikTok, Snap, Discord, and X, formerly known as Twitter, testified Wednesday before the
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee about children's safety online.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): We are here in this hearing because as a collective, your platforms, really suck at policing themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: The CEOs defended themselves by presenting safeguards, they say, they have put in place to keep minors safe online. But Senators argue
social media can drive teens to depression or suicidal thoughts, and that the response from these companies falls short of the change that is needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don't mean it to be
so, but you have blood on your hands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, the Senators were a rare united force during the hearing, with many agreeing that the longer these platforms drag their heels on any
meaningful change, the more harm and the more victims it will produce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Your product is killing people. Will you personally commit to compensating the victims? You're a billionaire. Will
you commit to compensating the victims? Will you set up a compensation fund with your money?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER AND CEO, META: Senator, I think these are complicated --
HAWLEY: with your money.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, these are complicated issues --
HAWLEY: Yes, no, that's not a complicated question, thought. That's a yes or no --
ZUCKERBERG: Senator --
HAWLEY: 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 make sure --
HAWLEY: It sounds like a no.
ZUCKERBERG: -- we have got good tools. My job is to make sure that --
HAWLEY: It sounds like a no. Your job is to be responsible for what your company has done. You've made billions of dollars on the people sitting
behind them -- 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Very fiery exchange. CNN's Clare Duffy is keeping an eye on all of this and joins us from Washington. Certainly, a lot of back and forth and
as we have discussed in the past, tech is evolving so fast, so much faster than the law. But today we heard from lawmakers who said it's not our
fault. We are trying to put out bills that could potentially keep our kids safer and no one is on board. I just want to play some sound from Senator
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: I am tired of talking. I'm tired of having discussions. We all know the answer here. And here's the ultimate answer. Stand behind your product.
Go to the American courtroom and defend your practices. Open up the courthouse door. Until you do that, nothing will change. Until these people
can be sued for the damage they're doing, it is all talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: So, take us through the highlights from this exchange that we heard from lawmakers and tech titans. Did the lawmakers listen to these
CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Well, it's interesting, Lynda, that clip from Lindsey Graham, it's sort of like the Senators are telling on
themselves a little bit here. They, for the past two plus years, have pretty much just talked about this issue but failed to take any real
action. It does feel like that is changing a little bit. There was certainly an effort in this hearing today to gain some momentum behind some
of the legislative proposals that could hold these companies accountable.
They talked a lot about the Kids Online Safety Act, the STOP CSAM, Child Sexual Assault Material Act, and potentially repealing Section 230, which
is this really important shield law that protects these companies from being held accountable for content that users post on their platforms.
These CEOs were pressured to endorse these bills. In many cases, they did not agree to do that.
But it does feel like the lawmakers are finally, at a point, there's bipartisan agreement here, which is really rare, as we know, where they
want to take action. For me, the big question is we heard so many different proposals here. Will lawmakers, after this hearing, actually be able
coalesce around one plane of action that they can make progress on here, Lynda.
KINKADE: And, Clare, the Senators today claim that these CEOs have blood on their hands because kids have used these platforms and turned to self-harm.
Mark Zuckerberg said it's -- you know, there's no real link or no evidence that we know of that is clear that these platforms and mental health are
linked. What did you make of that exchange?
DUFFY: Well, Lynda, what he's referring to there, which is true, is that there's no scientific consensus that there is an overall negative health
impact from social media on young user's mental health. Part of the reason for that may be because the social media platforms make it very hard for
third-party researchers to study what's happening there.
But look, the evidence that there is an issue here was right there in that hearing room today. You had families holding pictures of young people who
had been impacted, harmed by social media. And I think to Mark Zuckerberg actually turned around and apologized to those families, which seems to me
like an admission that there were real harms. There are real impacts from this -- these platforms. The Snapchat CEO, Evan Spiegel, also apologized to
families who had lost children to drugs that were bought on this platform. And so, I think it's clear that there is evidence here that there is a
KINKADE: All right. Clare Duffy, a fascinating day on Capitol Hill. Good to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Well, the FBI director issued a chilling warning. Christopher Wray says, Chinese hackers are preparing to cause real world harm to the United
States. Testifying before U.S. House Select Committee, Ray said hackers are targeting critical infrastructure across the U.S., including electrical
grids and transportation systems.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: China's hackers are positioning on American infrastructure in preparation to wreak havoc and cause real world harm to
American citizens and communities if and when China decides the time has come to strike. They're not focused just on political and military targets.
We can see from where they position themselves across civilian infrastructure that low blows are just a possibility, in the event of a
conflict. Low blows against civilians are part of China's plan.
Just this morning, we announced an operation where we and our partners identified hundreds of routers that had been taken over by the PRC state
sponsored hacking group known as Volt Typhoon. The Volt Typhoon malware enabled China to hide, among other things, pre-operational reconnaissance
and network exploitation against critical infrastructure like our communications, energy, transportation, and water sectors. Steps China was
taking, in other words, to find and prepare to destroy or degrade the civilian critical infrastructure that keeps us safe and prosperous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, the Chinese government has previously denied hacking allegations. And in a meeting last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping
assured U.S. President Joe Biden that China would not interfere in the 2024 U.S. Election.
We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
KINKADE: Welcome back. In Pakistan, Imran Khan has received a prison sentence of 14 years after being handed a 10-year sentence on Tuesday. It
follows a second closed hearing at the jail where Khan is currently being held. His party says Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and -- or PTI, says it will
As part of the sentence, Khan is banned from running in forthcoming elections. But he is still hoping voters will show their support, as our
Kristie Lu Stout reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another day, another harsh sentence for Pakistan's former leader. Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have
been sentenced to 14 years in prison. Khan has been behind bars since August and the former first lady is now in police custody.
They were found guilty of not disclosing information on sold gifts that were sent to him by foreign leaders while he was in office. This sentence
comes a day after Khan was handed a 10-year jail term in another case, and the new ruling extends Khan's ban on running for office to 10 years. And
all this comes just days before a general election in Pakistan. Both rulings were in a closed court established under the Official Secrets Act
in Rawalpindi, that's where Khan and Former Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are currently jailed.
Now, Khan will be allowed to serve his sentences concurrently. Imran Khan's media team slammed today's sentencing, saying this, "Another sad day in our
judicial system history which is being dismantled." While adding, this ridiculous decision will also be challenged.
On Tuesday, Khan was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets. He says, the charges against him are politically motivated, an
allegation that authorities deny. The harsh sentences out this week are just the latest in a series of legal battles for Khan. He has dozens of
pending cases against him, and now is a politically sensitive time.
Parliamentary elections are due to take place February the 8th. Imran Khan is not able to run due to a previous conviction, but on Tuesday, he took to
the social media platform X to urge his supporters to turn out. Writing this, "My Pakistanis, this is your war and this is your test that you have
to take revenge for every injustice by your vote on February the 8th while remaining peaceful."
Our TV stations in Pakistan are banned from running his speeches, and many of his PTI party colleagues have been arrested. And despite not being able
to stand in the upcoming election, Imran Khan still has widespread support from voters.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, still ahead, the Israeli Prime Minister's popularity is sagging, and he's feeling pressure from all sides. We'll talk about
Benjamin Netanyahu's leadership for the fierce critic who used to serve in the Israeli government.
KINKADE: Welcome back. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing pressure from all sides as he works to secure the release of hostages in
Gaza. The hostages' families want him to do whatever it takes to bring their loved ones home. But one of his own coalition partners, National
Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, is threatening to bring down the government if it agrees to what he calls a reckless deal with Hamas.
Ben-Gvir also made headlines for appearing at a recent conference, calling for the resettlement of Gaza after the war. Other government ministers and
lawmakers attended that as well. The event featured a large map that showed the location of proposed Jewish settlements in Gaza, some on top of
existing Palestinian towns.
Well, my next guest calls that conference a political horror show where, "Jewish supremacy and anti-democratic euphoria were on full display." He
accuses Mr. Netanyahu himself of fueling it. Alon Pinkas served in the Israeli government in several roles, including consul general in New York
and advisor to former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres.
Good to have you with us. Thanks for your time.
ALON PINKAS, FORMER ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL, NEW YORK: Thank you, Lynda. Good to be with you.
KINKADE: Just before we get into the Prime Minister's popularity, I want to ask you about that conference and your take on it.
PINKAS: Well, it was a -- you know, it was a loony show. It was, you know, some religious ecstasy with nationalistic and religious fervor. Talking
about messianic nonsense about resettling Gaza and expelling the Palestinians. But the thing is, this is not a marginal sect. This is part
of the power structure currently making the Israeli government. And these are the coalition partners that Mr. Netanyahu chose. And he condones this.
He encourages this. He does not repudiate this. He, in fact, is either indifferent or is winking in support.
KINKADE: But four in 10 Israelis, according to a poll, back a revival of Jewish settlements in Gaza. Can you explain why?
PINKAS: Well, it depends what the motivation is. No one thinks that Israelis should resettle a strip of land that is so dense with 2.2 million
Palestinians unless you're some kind of a religious zealot or nationalistic zealot. Those -- there are those who think, you know, this is a short-term
thing that resettling parts of Gaza is some kind of a, you know, a -- an act of triumph, a symbol or an expression of victory. That's not going to
happen, by the way. It's not going to happen even with this government. That's just not going to happen.
And you see, Lynda, you see in the last two days. First, it was David Cameron, the foreign secretary -- the British foreign secretary in the
Financial Times. And today there was a leak that even in Washington, both countries are now considering, or at least weighing, recognizing a
Palestinian state as part of a future final settlement. This, I think, is a clear message, that Gaza is just not going to be resettled. On top of
which, a vast majority of Israelis would oppose that.
KINKADE: I want to ask you about the Israeli Prime Minister's standing in Israel right now. When he was elected as Prime Minister back in 1996, it
was after a Hamas terror attack, and his stance on the time against that attack gave him a boost in the polls.
This time around, four months into this war in Gaza, his popularity is sinking as a result of his response in Gaza but also his reaction to the
hostage situation, and the fact that this terror attack happens on his watch. Explain his popularity right now.
PINKAS: Yes. Well, he -- he's just not popular. It's that simple, Lynda.
I mean, this is the man -- this is a man who should have resigned on the 7th of October and then on the 7th of November and the 7th of December, and
the 7th of January, and soon we're getting to the 7th of February. He should have resigned. He should have assumed responsibility. He should have
been held accountable. He should have showed some kind of remorse, some kind of a willingness to revisit his flawed strategy of strengthening Hamas
just in order to weaken the Palestinian Authority.
Now, if you look, Lynda, at recent polls in Israel, they indicate that 76 percent of Israelis think he is solely responsible for the 7th of October
debacle. That 65 percent, want either an election or his resignation within the next -- within 2024. So that's the next 11, 12 months.
So, his popularity is not just sinking, but when you look at the other polls that show voting intentions, you see that in no -- in not one -- not
-- not in one poll, I'm sorry, is he even close to where he is today? His coalition right now --
KINKADE: Yes. It's --
PINKAS: -is at 64 seats --
KINKADE: -- it's -- so many huge --
PINKAS: -- out of 120 and he's down to 45.
KINKADE: We'll have to leave it there for now. Alon Pinkas, yes, it's just fascinating. Good to get your perspective as always. Thanks so much for
And thanks everyone for watching tonight. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Stay with CNN. "Quest Means Business" is next.