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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Biden Breaks Silence On Classified Documents Found At His Private Office; Massive California Storms Bring Flooding, Hurricane Force Winds; Chief Arredondo On Why He Didn't Try To Stop Uvalde Gunman; Uvalde School Police Chief Explain Why He Waited In The Hallway At Robb Elementary; Hacksaw And Apparent Blood Stains Found In Trash Facility During Search For Missing Mother Ana Walshe; Massive California Storms Bring Flooding, Hurricane Force Winds; Ukrainians Fighting In The East, Trying To Silence Attack Drones. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired January 10, 2023 - 20:00   ET


SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The most populous province, we're talking about a population of more than 98 million people. Local officials there did not disclose the death toll. It's a sensitive topic here because a high death toll, it would directly challenge the long standing narrative that China's COVID approach is superior to the West's -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right, Selina, thank you very much, live from Beijing tonight.

And thanks so much to all of you. AC 360 starts now.



We begin tonight with breaking news on two fronts. President Biden's first public statement on the classified documents uncovered at his former private office and first the brutal storms now hitting California.

Flooding, hurricane force winds, massive rainfall and flooding, tens of thousands under evacuation orders right now. And according to Governor Gavin Newsom, 17 confirmed dead right at this hour.

CNN's Nick Watt joins us with the latest along the Los Angeles River, which in normal times is a river in name only. What's the latest -- Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You're right Anderson. This is normally just a trickle. In fact, there is usually a homeless encampment in what is the LA River. Those people have had to flee to higher ground.

You know, Californians just aren't used to this amount of water. And in many cases, the State is just not equipped to deal with it. Further north up in Santa Barbara, the flood water just overwhelmed the sewer system and that ended up with sewage on the streets in Santa Barbara. And also, you know, drivers just trying to drive where they shouldn't be driving because frankly, they just don't know any better. So we've seen quite a few rescues, people being plucked out of their cars. And while we're talking about drivers also just incredible bad luck today, up in the Central Valley, a eucalyptus tree, fell on a road hit a truck, killed the driver of that truck and then a motorcyclist also hit the tree also died -- Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, these storms have been intense. They've also been back-to-back which is just adding to the mess.

WATT: Yes, yes. I mean, intense and record breaking. You know, some places, Anderson, have seen 16 inches of rain, maybe a little more in just 48 hours. Places like San Luis Obispo have set records, all-time highs for rainfall in a single day.

Another river, the Salinas River a bit further north, it usually runs maybe about five feet. It's expected to crest tomorrow at more than 27 feet. And as you said, it's not over. We're in a bit of a lull right now, a calm, but there is a lot more storm to come.

The National Weather Service actually put it rather poetically, they said that the next in the seemingly endless parade of storms is going to roll in from the Pacific within the next day or so, that's going to hit mainly Central and Northern California with so much more rain.

Now, the Lieutenant Governor here says this is all an example of climate change extreme weather. But you know, here's the kicker, really the kick in the teeth, much of California has been suffering from severe drought. But all this water is not going to reverse that, you know, when you get tons of water in a short space of time, that doesn't change the big picture. That doesn't change the fact that California is in drought, although looking at this feels like a very strange thing to say -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, it sure does. Nick, appreciate it. Thanks. We'll return to California a little bit later in the broadcast for more on this.

I'm going to want to turn to the other breaking news: President Biden's first public statement on the 10 classified documents discovered at a former private office of his and what more we are now learning about those documents.

Attorney General Garland has already assigned the Chicago US Attorney to handle the matter who has briefed him multiple times according to the source in law enforcement and has already submitted a preliminary report.

Tonight, we're discovering just what these documents covered. So before hearing from the President, let's go to CNN's special correspondent, Jamie Gangel who has this new reporting. So what do we know?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So Anderson, these documents, first of all, just for context, in this office, almost everything were personal papers, including funeral arrangements for his son, Beau Biden letters of condolence, and his personal lawyer was the one packing up the papers because they really believed everything in the office was confidential and personal.

The lawyer finds a manila folder marked "VP Personal," but when he opens it, he sees it paper marked classified. He immediately closes it and they call the Archives. They've given them full cooperation.

I just want to say the "VP Personal" label that may explain why it was packed up, it may indicate it was an honest mistake. So Nevertheless, there are these 10 classified documents found. They are dated from 2013 to 2016. And CNN has learned the documents include Intelligence memos, briefing memos, National Security briefing materials that touch on countries like Iran, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom -- Anderson.

COOPER: But just to be clear on the personal file, we don't know why there would be a classified document in a file that was marked personal?


GANGEL: No. No idea. It is just -- we don't know who packed them up, or how this happened.

COOPER: And I understand you have some new details about what else was handed over to the National Archives, in addition to these documents.

GANGEL: So after a couple of days, they handed over these first boxes that they found immediately to the Archives, and I am told that within a couple of days, they just decided the Biden team, the Archives, they were going to hand everything over to the Archives out of an abundance of caution.

So fifty, fifty-five boxes are now at the National Archives, including all those personal documents. It's just another example of how the Biden team did the opposite of what the Trump team did.

COOPER: The documents were discovered November 2nd, six days before the Midterm Elections. Do we know why this wasn't made public for more than two months?

GANGEL: We don't. We don't know whether it's because of the investigation. We don't know whether it's political. There is no question that people aren't going to ask about the timing. And certainly Republicans and Donald Trump are going to try to make political hay out of it.

COOPER: I understand that the House Oversight Committee Chairman is already looking into this.

GANGEL: Welcome to the new Congress.

I just looked at the memo and it said that the Oversight Committee is investigating whether there is political bias at the National Archives. I'm going to take a point of privilege here. I have covered the Archives for a long time, they are the least partisan people in this town. They are historians, they are librarians, they famously described themselves as introverts who, even when they've been working together for 30 years when they pass each other on the hall, they look the other way. This is not a political group of people -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jamie Gangel, appreciate it.


COOPER: Again, as we mentioned, the President spoke for the first time about this before returning home tonight from the North American Leaders Summit in Mexico. CNN chief White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly joins us now with what he said and left unsaid also. What can you tell us?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, White House officials have been very clear, they've put out an on-the-record statement from the White House Counsel's Office and there would be very little if anything else, they would say as this Justice Department review continues to play out. But the President gave his version of the events. The events that track very closely with what is White House counsel's team, and also his response, when he discovered that these documents existed. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People know I take classified documents and classified information seriously.

When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me, a secure office in the capital when I -- the four years after being Vice President, I was a Professor at Penn. They found some documents in a box, you know, a locked cabinet, or at least a closet.

And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box and they did what they should have done. They immediately call the Archives, immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives and I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office.

But I don't know what's in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I've turned over the boxes. They've turned over the boxes to the Archives. And we're cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review, and which I hope will be finished soon, and will be more detail at that time.


MATTINGLY: You know, Anderson, I think Jamie's reporting really kind of underscores the scale of the cooperation up to this point, which, while they are not willing to talk in detail about the process, or perhaps how those documents actually got there, to the extent they know at this moment in time, the cooperation is critical, and so is the President's willingness to stand up there and address what he felt he was able to. It is a stark contrast to his predecessor, and certainly something that I think has been implicit in everything you've seen publicly from the White House over the course of the last 24 hours.

COOPER: So we know when the documents were found. Do we know when President Biden was initially briefed about them?

MATTINGLY: Anderson, I'm told almost immediately thereafter. It was a very quick process, and as you can imagine a pretty hairy process as the personal counsel called the White House Counsel's Office, who then immediately reached out to the National Archives.

By the next morning, the Archives had picked up those documents and taken them over. And within that period, the President was briefed on what happened, but a key point there from the President, which we'd reported before he said it publicly which is he still does not know what these documents actually contained, what they entailed, and also alluded to the fact that his lawyers made clear that was where they wanted things to be.

The White House officials at this point have some top line sense of things, but in large part are still in the dark about the specifics of these documents. Again, another element of this that will likely come out, not necessarily the classified version of things, but will come out in more detail once this inquiry is done.

The President saying he thought it could be soon and that would be when White House officials plan to give more information about the entirety of the process -- Anderson.


COOPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, appreciate that.

Perspective now from Berkeley Law Professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo; CNN political commentator, David Urban who served as campaign adviser to the former President; also CNN senior legal analyst and former Federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

You heard, Elie, what the President had to say about being surprised by these documents, what do you make of his statement?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So those comments go right to the most important legal issue in this whole case: Did Joe Biden know those documents were there? If the answer is no, legally, it is game over. There is no possible way you can have a criminal charge if the person did not know the documents were there.

Now DOJ has to test this, and the way you do it, I think investigatively is you have to reconstruct how those documents got there, who gave the order or instruction to take these documents from the Vice President's offices over to Joe Biden's private offices in 2017? Who actually moved the documents? Who had access?

But if you can reconstruct that satisfactorily and satisfy yourself as a prosecutor that there was no knowledge, then that's it, Joe Biden is not going to have legal jeopardy.

COOPER: So John, what do you make of what the President said, and how do you think both the White House and the DOJ are handling it?

JOHN YOO, BERKELEY LAW PROFESSOR AND FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I agree. We don't know enough yet about what these documents are. I'd be in favor of declassifying and seeing them and with the Trump case, too. We don't know enough about did the President ever see them? How did he handle them? How did they get there?

But I think what's really important here for the rule of law, and this is making it very complicated for not just the Special Counsels here, but for Attorney General Garland and ultimately, President Biden. Is that, like cases under our system of law have to be treated alike. And so what we need to see is, are prosecutors able to explain any differences, if they're going to go ahead, for example, and prosecute President Trump versus not prosecuting President Biden.

Because if you can't articulate a real difference in those two cases, other than I think just cooperation, which so far is the major difference, if you don't see really differences in the violations of the law, the intent of the people who the prosecutions claimed violate the law, then you're going to undermine the faith of Americans that we live under a rule of law, and that prosecutors, Judges, and juries are treating same cases in the same way.

COOPER: David, I'd like to play this comment from former Vice President Pence tonight on CBS and get your reaction.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the American people see President Biden receiving one form of treatment, with the discovery of classified documents that were retained after he left the office of the Vice President, and they see President Trump treated in an entirely different way, again, the handling of classified materials, a very serious issue for our nation, and we ought to take it seriously, but there ought to be equal treatment under the law.


COOPER: Do you think this is how most Republicans are going to approach this issue?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so Anderson, listen, I was on this network on your show, condemning how former President Trump handled classified, said it's, you know, you shouldn't have TSSCI or SAP documents laying around in an unsecure fashion at Mar-a- Lago, even in a secure room at Mar-a-Lago, may be stored in a secure, compartmentalized facility like a SCIF or some other fashion.

And similarly, the Vice President is right here as well, right? Wrong is wrong. If you have classified documents, and shocking gambling in Casa Blanca, I don't know how they got there. Well, you've either told somebody to take it there or you took them there yourself. And, you know, your point earlier, how can you prove knowledge here? How can you prove that -- you're going to -- what -- are you going to ask the Vice President? Did you take it? You're going to go back and you know --

Why does Joe Biden get a pass and a presumption of innocence here, where Donald Trump didn't get that presumption? And look, I don't see the FBI with raid jackets in Greencastle, Delaware outside Joe Biden's house kind of rummaging through his basement looking for more documents.

And so I think that's what Republicans see, and they do -- this is a big test for DOJ, how they're going to handle this. And to John's point, right, like cases should be treated in a like manner and we'll see what happens.

COOPER: Elie, you're obviously reacting.

HONIG: Yes. The way you prove knowledge is the same way that as a prosecutor, you prove knowledge in any case, ever. Perhaps you go to the person and ask them, you ask people around them, you look at documents, you talk to other witnesses.

There is no mystery to this. It's not just well, throw your hands up, and we give Joe Biden the benefit of the doubt. I'm saying there needs to be a thorough investigation. This is what prosecutors do every day. It is what I did every day for 14 years as a prosecutor.

So I think that response is a little bit glib. No one is just saying, well, Joe Biden says he didn't know so that's that. I'm saying there needs to be a full examination of that the same way other cases are investigated.

URBAN: No, Elie, I wasn't being glib. I was just saying it back when, you know, there was in the raid on Mar-a-Lago, let's just say, I don't want to say raid, but you know, the FBI goes to Mar-a-Lago. I didn't hear a lot of people saying, let's go through this long process and ask Trump and let's see.


I mean, there was a quick condemnation of the former President much quicker and much more vociferous than it is today.

COOPER: But wasn't the raid or the search, wasn't that at the end of a rather long process of exchange of communication between National Archives and the former President and his lawyers?

URBAN: And to John's point, right, there's a different level of cooperation here. I don't know. I didn't see what, you know, the affidavits that were signed by the Former president's lawyer said or didn't say, in terms of classified what they had and didn't have.

But there seems to be a much less, you know, onerous, you know, kind of condemnation going on here with this President than the former President.

And, you know, I hope that people see that across America.

COOPER: And John, for you. I mean, what we know about the back and forth between the National Archives and the former president and the foreign president's attorneys and claims that were made by the former President's attorneys that are, you know, according to reporting has turned out not to be the case. Does that not matter in -- I mean, do you not see that as just on the face of it from at this point with what we know of the level of cooperation from the Biden administration, or the alleged level of cooperation? Does that not matter?

YOO: Anderson, that's a good point. At this point in the investigation, based on the limited knowledge we have, we do see President Biden's lawyers cooperating much more fully, whereas it looks like President Trump was trying to hide the documents and not cooperating with the Justice Department, although he claims that the FBI has been out to get him and I can see why he won't trust the FBI after the four years of his presidency.

We should also not forget that Hillary Clinton had the exact same problem with her server, taking classified information, putting them on an unsecured private computer network. She ultimately wasn't tried.

My point is regardless of the cooperation or not, I think prosecutors and again, this is not about -- this is not some glib response to people who know what they're doing at the trial level. This is a decision for main justice. This is not a decision for line level prosecutors, it is a decision for the Attorney General, ultimately the President, is are we really going to go after President Trump for something like this, classified information mishandling, given that there are other cases I don't think President Biden will be prosecuted. Hillary Clinton wasn't prosecuted.

I think if you're going to go after President Trump on criminal law, go after him on January 6th, go after something where the United States is really harmed, all of us are harmed, not here in these three cases where I don't think the American people are harmed by this mishandling of classified information in any of these three cases.

COOPER: John Yoo, David Urban, Elie Honig, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Coming up next, a CNN exclusive, what the Uvalde Texas Police Chief who was fired for failing to stop the gunman during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School had to say on video to investigators the morning after the botched police response, video never seen publicly until tonight and we'll show it to you only here.

Later a hacksaw turned up in the search for a missing mother of three in Massachusetts along with other new evidence. More on what investigators are finding out as the husband remains in custody.



COOPER: CNN has obtained a new video of an interview of the former Police Chief of the Uvalde School District, Pete Arredondo gave to investigators. It was recorded the morning after a gunman had murdered 21 students and teachers and well before Arredondo was fired for his actions that day, after he and others came under intense criticism for the failure of the police response, specifically why authorities failed to follow the guidelines for an active shooter situation.

Arredondo is far more candid and cooperative in the video, far more so than he was when CNN's Shimon Prokupecz approached him a week later before he stopped cooperating with the investigation at all. But some of what he says in this video also appears to contradict evidence that has since come to light including never before seen body camera footage obtained by CNN.

Now, we're going to show you excerpts of this video in a moment. First, let me say that for transparency's sake, CNN is also publishing the full 57-minute interview with former Chief Arredondo alongside a digital story on our website. You can check it out.

Also Shimon Prokupecz who has been tirelessly breaking news on this story will join us in a moment for more on what we're about to see. And we want to warn you that watching this report is troubling. So if you have children in the room, you might consider having them leave.

Here is Shimon's report.


PEDRO "PETE" ARREDONDO, FORMER UVALDE SCHOOL CHIEF: We know there's probably victims in there and with the shots I heard, I know, there is probably somebody who is going to be deceased.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo heard for the first time, the day after the May 24th shooting, attempting to explain his actions.

In new video obtained by CNN, Arredondo telling investigators he assumed students in the room with the shooter were already dead, so he chose to clear children from surrounding classrooms.

We now know he was wrong. At least three victims were pulled out of the room alive, who later died from their injuries.

ARREDONDO: My first thought is that we needed to vacate, we haven't contained, and this is where what our training told us to do, but we haven't contained -- there's probably going to be some deceased in there, but we don't need any more from out here.

So I called out and I said, get these kids out, whatever I told him, bust those windows, get them out.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Stunning admissions while being questioned by the FBI and Texas Rangers.

ARREDONDO: Throughout this ordeal, I was trying to get -- make communication with him. PROKUPECZ (voice over): Arredondo explains he kept trying to talk to the shooter, and for the first time we learned that he heard the gunman alone in a room full of children, reloading his weapon, and still, he took no action that stopped the gunman.

ARREDONDO: I was certain, I heard him reload. I heard something over the pin. Obviously, we all know what that sounds like and I was getting started with it with a clip. I'm assuming he reloaded, but I know he did something with it. I didn't hear that one time. I don't know if there was a second. He never responded at all.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Now considered one of the worst law enforcement failures in recent memory, Arredondo knew that criticism would come.

ARREDONDO: We're going to get scrutinized. I'm expecting that. We're going to get scrutinized why we didn't go in there.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Days later, Arredondo would be labeled the Incident Commander by the Texas State Police. They say he was the officer in charge and the man to blame for the deadly delay.

PROKUPECZ: Who is the incident commander, sir?

STEVE MCCRAW, TEXAS DPS CHIEF: The Chief of Police of the Consolidated Independent School District is the incident commander. It is his school. He is the Chief of Police. Okay.


PROKUPECZ (voice over): Arredondo who presided over a six-person police force before he was terminated in August declined to comment for this story.

Through his lawyer, he has previously denied that he was ever in charge and said he never issued any orders. A CNN analysis of never before made public body camera footage and newly obtained phone calls reveal Arredondo repeatedly directed the officers around him not to enter the room with the gunman. This is at 11:40 AM just seven minutes after the shooting began.

ARREDONDO: Hey, this is Arredondo. This is an emergency right now. I'm inside the building. I've been inside the building with this man. He has an AR-15. He shot a whole bunch of times. He is in one room. I need a lot of firepower. So I need this building surrounded, surrounded with as many AR-15s as possible.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): As more officers with body cameras responded to the scene, we can hear Arredondo start to talk to the shooter.

ARREDONDO: Sir, this is Arredondo with the School District Police, can you please put your firearm down. We don't want anyone else hurt, sir.

PROKUPECZ (voice over) Arredondo can be seen trying to open the door to an adjacent classroom while giving commands to other officers.

ARREDONDO: We're going to clear up before we -- before we do any breaching. We're going to clear these kids out.

As soon as they clear this room, I'm going to verify what's been vacated, guys before we do any kind of breaching. Time is on our side, right. Now. I know we probably have kids in there, but we've got to save the lives of the other ones.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Time was not on his side, and it reflects a mindset that goes directly against active shooter training. The policy emphasizes speed, for any officer to go immediately towards the sound of gunfire and stop the shooter.

Arredondo last completed the training in December 2021, five months before the Uvalde massacre.

RADIO: Child is advising she is in a room full of victims.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): At about 12:12 PM, a crucial transmission from the Uvalde dispatcher comes over the radios in the hallway, informing the officers that a child in the room with the gunman called 9-1-1 and says she is surrounded by victims.

The dispatch blares within earshot of Arredondo.

He doesn't seem to hear it because he is talking repeating instructions for officers not to enter.

ARREDONDO: Hey, guys. Hold on. We are going to clear the building first, and then we'll tactical, but we're going to empty these out, these classrooms first.

CONSTABLE ZAMORA: All these are empty, Pete.

ARREDONDO: He is verifying right now.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Officers actually turned down their radios so they can hear our Redondo give the order.

DPS TROOPER CHAD SKIDMORE: Guys, can you turn your radios down, please.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): It seems clear to the men on this side of the hallway, Arredondo is in charge.

ZAMORA: No entry until the Chief of Police gives you permission there.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): And when a nearby officer suggests that a Border Patrol agent looks like they are about to go in.

ZAMORA: Get ready for friendlies.

ARREDONDO: Tell them to [bleep] wait.

ZAMORA: Nobody enter.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): Arredondo said he assumed Border Patrol agents at the other end of the hallway will be the ones to make the breach since they had rifles and he and his men only had pistols.

ARREDONDO: I saw those were BP. I know those were probably BORTAC, smart thing for us to do, obviously with a handgun is we are going to let these guys make entry on that -- it was the exact time.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): But it wasn't just handguns. As body camera footage clearly shows there were plenty of heavily armed officers on scene. Some in the very first moments after the shooting began.

Arredondo for the first time also explaining why he thought the door was locked, admitting he never tried to open it.

ARREDONDO: I have it in a picture in my mind that I saw that. I saw the hammer in there. And usually when that's there, that's locked. Man, 90 percent of the time.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): We now know investigators believe it was unlocked and there was no need to wait for a key.

At the end of the interview, Arredondo says that rather than breaching the door, he even considered trying to shoot through the walls to kill the gunman.

ARREDONDO: That thought crossed my mind to start shooting through that wall, which is a bit stupid. But you start thinking there's already somebody deceased in there. You want to start -- but you know obviously we don't ever train to shoot through walls. It's not something that -- it is probably not the smartest idea, but you know, you always question yourself.


COOPER: CNN senior crime and justice correspondent, Shimon Prokupecz joins us now.

You've obviously done a lot of reporting on other officers and their mistakes that day and we should be clear, Arredondo was not the only person perceived to be in charge then.

PROKUPECZ: No. There was the acting Chief of Police for the local police department, there was a lieutenant from the Texas Rangers who is now in the process of being fired. There was the Sheriff who should have been running this operation as well. And there were other senior level people who were on scene that should have known things, that should have taken charge.

One of the things that has been so striking to me in watching all of these videos now and watching what Arredondo was saying is that no one went into that hallway. None of the other police leaders there on that scene went there to talk to him, to find out what was going on.


He's standing in that hallway for quite a long time. Not one of them goes in there to find out what is going on. He is the closest person in a leadership role to the gunman at that point. And he himself, Arredondo, was making all kinds of assumptions wrong, incorrect, bad. His instincts are wrong, but no one is out there. No one goes from outside inside to talk to.

COOPER: It's been eight months since the shooting. What is the status of the law enforcement response, the investigation? Are the families closer to any official answer?

PROKUPECZ: No, it's hard to believe it's been eight months and yet we are still only learning some of this today. The fact that Arredondo says that heard him, what he perceives that he was reloading, that is an important piece of information because that would indicate to officers, wait, this guy's ready to keep shooting. There are kids in there, we got to get in there. He never shares that with anyone. For the first time, we only learn of this from this video. And for the families, this is going to be the first time they're hearing this.

COOPER: Or if he's reloading, it could be an opportunity to go in.

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly the other thing that I was thinking about Anderson when I heard that. That part stayed with me when he talked about the reloading. You have that opportunity now and, he's moving around there. There's stuff going on in there. They should have gone and obviously we know now.

COOPER: Yes, Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate as always.

Hacksaw turns up in the search for a missing Massachusetts mom of three, along with new bloody evidence as her husband remains in custody, accused of misleading investigators. That's next.



COOPER: A hacksaw, torn up cloth and what appears to be bloodstains all were discovered last night when investigators combed through trash in the search for Anna Walshe, the Massachusetts mother last seen on New Year's Day. Prosecutors say the blood and a bloody knife were also recovered from the basement of the Walshe home, along with a trail of other evidence. Her husband remains in custody for allegedly misleading police.

Our Jason Carroll has details.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, investigators processing potential evidence collected after hours of searching through garbage late into the night at this trash transfer station north of Boston, law enforcement sources told CNN materials found included a hacksaw, torn up cloth, material and what appears to be bloodstains. The Norfolk district Attorney not commenting on the specifics of what was found, only to say the search resulted in a number of items which will now be subject to processing and testing to determine if they are of evidentiary value. Sources also tell CNN investigators found disturbing searches on Brian Walshe's Internet records as they looked into the disappearance of his wife, which included how to dispose of a 115-pound woman's body and how to dismember a body. Walshe is being held on a charge of misleading investigators. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors describe chilling details during his arraignment of what they say investigators found at the family home in Cohassett.

LYNN BELAND, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NORFOLK MA: And during that time, they found blood in the basement. Blood was found in the basement area as well as a knife, which also contained some blood.

CARROLL (voice-over): Walshe's attorney not commenting on the case, her office telling CNN she wants to focus on Walshe's defense. During his arraignment, she said her client is cooperating with investigators.

TRACY MINER, BRIAN WALSHE'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Walshe has given several interviews. We have consented to searches of his home. We have consented to searches of his property.

CARROLL (voice-over): Brian Walshe told police he last saw his wife New Year's Day. A friend of the couple says the last time he saw them, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

GEM MUTLU, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: We hugged and celebrated and toasted and just what you do over New Year's.

CARROLL (voice-over): The 39-year-old mother of three wasn't reported missing until January 4th, when her workplace said she didn't show up. Investigators discovered her husband made purchases at a Home Depot on January 2nd.

BELAND: He's on surveillance at that time, purchasing about $450 worth of cleaning supplies that would include mops, bucket, tops, TVX drop cloths.

CARROLL: Ana Walshe's friends say they now fear the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would not, by her own choice, go a date without speaking to her husband or children. That's very out of character.


COOPER: Jason Carroll joins us now from Massachusetts. What is the latest on the search inside their house?

CARROLL: Well, Anderson, as for the past several days, they've been searching inside the house, outside the house. Late this afternoon, the Norfolk district attorney released a statement basically saying that the search at the house has been completed, and now they're in the process of processing everything that they found there at the house. But once again, much of the investigation now focused on those items that were found in the trash, those three items, plus whatever else they may have found there and what they can do in terms of trying to make a match, some a DNA match and see where it leads them. Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jason Carroll, appreciate it. Thanks.

We turned out to criminal defense attorney Mark O'Mara for more on the growing investigation. Mark, thanks for being with us. You heard Jason's report. Does it seem to you like this case is moving towards additional, more serious charges? I mean, it seems like it's impossible for not to.

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, the prosecution did exactly what they should have done arrest him for something, but not for any type related to the murder, because they don't want that speedy trial clock running. What they do is arrest him for lying to police, keep him in a high bond. Now they know he's, quote, safe and they can do their job. I anticipate them taking a while to make sure it's all done properly.

COOPER: Investigators recovered a bloody knife from the couple's house. They've also reportedly found suspicious Internet searches. Again, we don't know what else specifically they found, but generally speaking, how difficult would it be to charge this man with murder without his wife's body being found? I mean and by the way, those Internet searches, I mean, some of them were incredibly specific. Like, how do you dispose of 100 and something pound woman.


O'MARA: You almost wonder if he wants to get caught when you do something as insane as that. But I will tell you don't need a body anymore. It's great when you have it. It's great when you have a video of the event. But the forensic evidence has gotten so much better in the past 15 to 20 years, not only internet searches, but DNA. So even without the body, they're going to have enough evidence, seemingly, as they put it all together, to focus on nobody else but him and the missing body and the blood and maybe a knife, a hacksaw that may have blood on it, I think be enough for a jury.

COOPER: As a defense attorney, what would be your course of action for if this was your client?

O'MARA: Well, you know, there's always two silos. The first one is, can the state prove the case? Right? So, you go into the suppression issues. Did they do the search properly? Are there other possibilities, other people out there who may have wanted to cause her harm? So you always look at those forensic side of it, the evidentiary side of it. At the same time, Anderson, as we've talked about a lot, you're now looking at maybe a potential defense or mitigation. You know, how crazy might this guy be? Those searches, the really horribly simplistic way he went about trying to do this, $450 in a Home Depot that's almost begging for, to get arrested and convicted. So maybe there's something there.

COOPER: All right, Mark O'Mara, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Coming up next more on the breaking news than California. The deadly weather there that's now claimed 17 lives. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: More in the breaking news out of California. Storms that have now taken at least 17 lives. That's according to Governor Gavin Newsom, who says about 34,000 people are under evacuation orders. Additionally, more than 111,000 have lost power in the state.

Randi Kaye has the latest now. In the sheer scope of the punishing weather and the damage it's done.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything is wet, everything is saturated, everything is at a breaking point, and there's more rain coming.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rain is the last thing Californians need right now. With the state experiencing epic flooding, 90% of California's population is under a flood watch. Just look at the flooding in Los Angeles. For a time, the entire town of Montecito in Santa Barbara County under an evacuation order. Former TV host Ellen DeGeneres sounded the alarm at the creek in her Montecito backyard.

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST: This creek next to our house never flows, ever. It's probably about 9 feet up and it's going to go another two up. Unfortunately, we have to evacuated.

KAYE (voice-over): For rescue teams, it's a battle against time as rising floodwaters stop Californians in their tracks. This person got trapped in Santa Clarita as he tried to cross the roadway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just waited, and the fire department came and put a ladder down and grabbed him out of the passenger window.

KAYE (voice-over): In Ventura, firefighters also plucked drivers from their cars. Officials say at least 14 people were pulled from an island in the Ventura River using ladders and rescue helicopters. The river rose 17 feet in just 12 hours, reaching an all-time record cresting over 25 feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of swift water rescues going on currently, a lot of people are getting trapped in the water with their vehicles, trying to forge water they shouldn't be. Please turn around. Don't drown.

KAYE (voice-over): Thick mud and debris is also a problem. Heavy storms left it behind, forcing highway 101 near State Route 33 to close. Mud put the brakes on this semi-truck just east of Fillmore in Ventura County. In Santa Cruz County, fast moving water knocked out this bridge. Also in Santa Cruz, residents were forced to turn back when highway 9 flooded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police stopped us and would not let us pass through. KAYE (voice-over): Another danger in Santa Cruz. Falling trees. A line

man repairing power lines captured this video just as a mudslide toppled this Douglas fir tree. Falling debris is a problem in Malibu, where this giant boulder fell from a roadside cliff, shutting down parts of Malibu Canyon Road. The National Weather Service in Los Angeles says more than 15 inches of rain has already fallen across the coastal foothills in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. In Santa Barbara County, more than 500 homes were impacted by a sudden sinkhole. Also, this fire hydrant burst in Santa Barbara, forcing even more water into the streets. Whole neighborhoods and towns like Aptos in Santa Cruz County are flooded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just be careful out there. It's raining crazy.

KAYE (voice-over): It's so dangerous for drivers. Some have found other means to get around, trading in their cars for kayaks, and in this case, a jetski. And with all that rain comes high winds and statewide warnings. Already, more than 150,000 customers are in the dark due to power outages.

Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: Remarkable images are.

Up next, our Ben Wedeman follows a group of Ukrainian soldiers trying to silence Russian attack drones as the war in the eastern part of the country gets even bloodier.



COOPER: An update now on the increasingly bloody war raging the eastern part of Ukraine. In a moment, we'll talk about the attempted siege of a town by the Russians. But first, CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from a short distance north of there, with Ukrainian soldiers trying to secure a victory against Russian forces.



BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIO INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Commander Maximilian, or just Max as he's known, is finalizing the coordinates for a strike on the Russian occupied town of Kreminna. Before the war, Max was an English teacher. His 43rd artillery brigade has already seen action in the battles of Kyiv, Kharkiv and now Donbass. Their target today a building in Kreminna from where he says attack drones are launched against Ukrainian forces.

(on-camera): This artillery system is known as a Pion. That's a Soviet era artillery system, 203 rounds weigh 100 kilos, 220 pounds. This is a system used both by the Russians and the Ukrainians. (voice-over): The cold here chills to the bone, making this work all the more difficult. To protect against Russian drones, they've deployed a special weapon that depletes drone batteries. First the round goes into the barrel. Then the cordite. And the trigger cord is pulled. Sending the massive round hurtling toward its target 18 kilometers around 11 miles away. It fires again, and again.


A forward spotter radius Max that the target has been hit. He tells his men to use shrapnel rounds to finish the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We damaged it. We destroyed the building where they hide and I suppose they will not make problems for us in future.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): A small victory in a big war.


COOPER: Ben Wedeman joins us now from Kramatorsk in Ukraine. There's also a battle going on in the eastern mining town of Solidar (ph). Ben, what are you hearing?

WEDEMAN: Well, the situation Anderson, in Solidar (ph) is grave, to say the least. Exactly what's happening is difficult to say. Russian sources are saying that they now control that town, which is relatively small, just about 10,000 people. The Ukrainians say it's still under control. But CNN was able to get in touch with a soldier there who described intense fighting raging in the city. He said that the situation is critical. He said that buildings are changing hands from one day to the next, that the situation is such that they can't even count the dead at this point.

Now, this is a city, a town, a very small town where the Russians have really thrown a lot of resources in trying to take it. It's the Wagner group, that private military contractor that seems to be leading the fight. And of course, they've recruited prisoners and others. It does seem that they are willing to throw them willy nilly towards Ukrainian lines, regardless of casualties, to try to allow the Russians to claim after so many defeats around Kyiv, Kharkiv and Kherson, a small modest victory after so many setbacks. Anderson.

COOPER: Ben Wedeman, I appreciate it. Thank you. The fight goes on.

In a moment, back to domestic politics here in the U.S. Congressman Kevin McCarthy now House Speaker, but what do we know about the side deals he made with Republican opponents that finally got him the speaker's gavel. We'll examine what he may owe and to whom, next.