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Prosecutors Detail Evidence Against Man Accused Of Killing His Wife; House Speaker Rewards Extremists With Committee Assignments; Soon: GOP Candidate Accused Of Targeting Dems Appears In Court. Aired 11:30a-12p ET
Aired January 18, 2023 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: (Speaking in a foreign language)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Powder block that is just a mishap. This is different. Just empty words. Every individual -- every death is a result of the war.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Mr. President, thank you for your time. You've been very generous, best of luck. Let me -- let me invite out our panel up --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It looks like a standing ovation there for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in speaking to our Fareed Zakaria at the Davos -- at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Jill Dougherty has been listening in on this as well as all of us together. Jill, this was an urgent in raw and real kind of plea coming from the Ukrainian president. It also felt like he was trying to tell the world to wake up.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, definitely. I mean, it was really very interesting. He begins with an emotional moment, which is the death of senior members of his government and personal friends, you know, who were in there staying in Kyiv right at the beginning of the war. So, it's a very emotional moment. But then he turns and I think made a very, very strong plea for, do it now.
I mean, he talks about the missile coming from Russia taking three minutes to hit Dnipro where all those people died in the apartment building. And then he says this is a time crisis, and speed is of the essence right now. I think what he's doing, especially to the Europeans and to the Americans is saying, you know, you talk a lot. And he refers to that. Putin invades, and it takes weeks, you know, for the Europeans to get it together to respond. The United States is slow as well.
So, he's saying there is no more time, you know. We need -- speed is necessary for both decisions and actions. An action that he's talking about right now is more weapons that he feels are crucial for Ukraine right now, not only to defend itself but to push the Russians back. So, it was a very, very interesting talk.
And, Kate, one more thing that I think he was doing, although it came in the question with Fareed was, he was saying Russian society has to open its eyes. You know, there are actually some people in Moscow who went out in the cold in -- right in Moscow to lay flowers at a Ukrainian monument. Actually, not far from the CNN bureau in fact. I've been there many times. And -- in honor and memory of the people who died in that apartment building.
And so, what he's saying is, you know, this is -- Russian society has to realize what the government is doing. And that, I think, is a message you know, directed to Russians. It could be -- it could be effective.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Very interesting. I mean, he said the world hesitated while Russia did not. The world must not hesitate. And he means that very urgently now because the time is now. Great to see you, Jill. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for being there for me. I really appreciate it.
All right, I do want to turn to the other major story that we're watching at this hour, which is prosecutors laying out extensive new evidence in court this morning against Brian Walshe. He was arraigned after being charged for murdering his wife. Brynn Gingras is live in Massachusetts. She tracked -- Brynn, it was quite a moment in court hearing the statement from prosecutors, what evidence did they lay out?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, Kate, just stunning detail of what they say they have uncovered mostly from the son's iPad where prosecutors say Brian Walshe researched what to do with his wife's body after killing her on New Year's Day. Take a listen to some of those searches.
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LYNN BELAND, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF NORFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS: At 4:55 a.m. on January 1, you search how long before a body starts to smell. At 4:58 a.m., how to stop a body from decomposing. At 5:20 a.m. he searched, how to mount a boy. At 5:47 a.m., 10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to. At 6:25 a.m. on the first, how long for someone to be missing to inherit. At 6:34 a.m. on first, he made real weight body parts.
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GINGRAS: And those searches prosecutors say continue throughout that day into the days following. Some more evidence they say they have uncovered they say the surveillance video of Brian Walshe or someone that looks like him tossing trash bags into dumpsters. They said they've collected evidence at a trash collection sites some of which has DNA evidence of Ana Walshe and Brian Walshe on it, including some of Ana Walshe's personal belongings like our COVID-19 vaccine card, the clothes that she was reported last seen in, and so just damning evidence that prosecutors say they have, and they say he dismembered and killed his wife.
Now, he has pleaded not guilty. His attorney has released a statement. I want to read it partly to you. It says it is easy to charge a crime and even easier to say a person committed that crime. It is a much more difficult thing to prove it, which we will see if the prosecution can do.
I can tell you, Kate, that in court today, Brian Walshe seemed very stoic as the evidence was just laid out right there before him. We didn't see any family members inside that courtroom but he will be back in court next month. Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much, Brynn. I appreciate it.
Joining me now is CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, John Miller. And you were listening to this as the state -- as this was playing out live in court. Tell me, John, what puzzle pieces are missing still if any.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: The only puzzle piece missing right now is the body itself. But prosecutors have taken all the pieces they have and started to put them together. You've got the crime scene evidence, what was found in the house, the blood, and the bloody knife. You have the Google searches. What was the plan?
He basically lays out the questions for his plan in the Google searches, as prosecutors allege. And then you have the science and the science is the part that really hasn't been discussed before but they told us today that the State Police Crime Lab matched the blood and the DNA from the crime scene in the basement of the house to the garbage dump where they recovered 10 bags of basically what they say is the evidence of the dismemberment and the cover-up.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean slippers with both of their DNA -- bloody DNA present. The Tyvek suit that was -- they said that he had purchased with both of their DNA on it. That -- there's not much ambiguity -- it doesn't feel like there's much ambiguity in that.
MILLER: No. I think -- I think his lawyer came out swinging today.
MILLER: Tracy Miner is saying, you know when they give all this information to the press, but I'm not getting it, I haven't seen any of this evidence, it's usually because it's a weak case but I've got 25 years experience here, and including cases involving dismembered bodies. It's not striking me as a weak case, it seems to be a trail of breadcrumbs.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about the -- you mentioned the Google searches. That stuck out just -- it kind of come in the enlisting out that what the searchers were, it feel -- it's almost like a sick sort of frequently asked questions section of how to be a murderer. I mean, the searches were really quite remarkable -- how long before a body starts to smell, how to stop a body from decomposing, how long does DNA last, can identification be made on partial remains, can you be charged with murder without a body, that's just -- that's not -- that's not the exhaustive list of the questions these searches that were laid out in court. Do you -- how incriminating is internet activity like this in your experience?
MILLER: Well, one of the things they have to do, you know, this was allegedly on his son's iPad --
BOLDUAN: Son's iPad.
MILLER: Is to establish that that was him, Brian Walshe, making those searches.
MILLER: But remember, this is a circumstantial case. So, if not him, who, given that he's purchasing the items where they have him on video at the store paying $450 cash for Tyvek suits and cleanup material and tarps to put on the floor, video of him putting items in the trash that -- at his mother's residence, and then what's founded at the garbage dump. So, it's not going to be any one thing. It's not the smoking gun. It's all the pieces that they're building in this prosecution.
BOLDUAN: Yes, there's a lot -- and a lot more to learn, and he'll be back in court for a status hearing next month. It's good to see you, John.
MILLER: You too.
BOLDUAN: Thanks for being here. I appreciate it.
So, Kevin McCarthy, he is rewarding loyalty in the face of extremism. A look at who the new House speaker is taking care of right now. That's next.
BOLDUAN: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, he's handing out committee assignments, including to some members who have previously been kicked off committees for their extreme comments and actions. Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill tracking all this for us. And, Manu, how committee assignments are handed out is always a way that leaders show who's in who's out. What does this show?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was significant for Kevin McCarthy in order to win the speakership. Some of these negotiations happen behind the scenes, some of these people held out, did not initially support McCarthy for the speakership, ultimately, did support him and they have -- are also on some of these key committees. And even after the very tense negotiations, there were some warnings by some of McCarthy's allies that they would lose committee assignments, that did not happen here.
And also, some people who are close to Kevin McCarthy through this process like Marjorie Taylor Greene awarded some key committee assignments. Greene herself was stripped from her committees in the last Congress when Democrats went after her for past incendiary remarks but here added to two committees, the committee and oversight as well as the Committee on Homeland Security.
In addition, you showed us right there, several members of the House Freedom Caucus, people who are on the far right added to the House Oversight Committee that includes Congressman Paul Gosar. He himself lost his committee assignments in the last Congress. But also, some others who initially opposed Kevin McCarthy in the speaker race. Lauren Boebert, Scott Perry. Perry ultimately voted for him, Boebert voted present, that helped McCarthy get the speakership.
And also, very notably there, George Santos, the embattled Republican congressman. Someone who has been -- who has admitted to lying extensively about his resume, did get two committee assignments that are considered lowered-tier committee assignments, the Small Business Committee and the science committee. But McCarthy has refused to punish him because he says this ethics process needs to play out even as a number of Republican members, of course, calling on him to resign for lying. But for now, Santos is being treated like other members of Congress being awarded committee assignments, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. It's good to see you, Manu. Thanks for laying it out. Appreciate it, man.
Joining me now for more on this is CNN chief political correspondent, co-host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" Dana Bash. Dana, McCarthy in these committee assignments, I mean, these are -- some of the members like Marjorie Taylor Greene, like Paul Gosar, they've previously been thrown off committees for their behavior. Does this move of kind of bringing them into the fold? Do you see it as sending a message, a message coming from the speaker?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was -- it's sending a message but it's also about what you just discussed with Manu. It's about rewarding loyalty in the case of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was a lieutenant for McCarthy. We actually saw it on the House floor for that entire week when he went through 15 votes until he finally became speaker of the House.
And then for the others who were the holdouts, it was clearly the carrot that got them over the edge just to vote present in order to give McCarthy the speakership. The question is a bit different in these cases, in some cases, or I would say in all of the cases, say for Santos, there's a question about election denialism. But then there's also another question about ties to white supremacists, about other things that have been so beyond the pale that some of these members have said and done that it's raising questions. I've been talking to a civil rights leader who hasn't gone public yet, but might, who's absolutely appalled about this because of the statements in the past that we have seen. Not to distance pat -- distant past, from the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Paul Gosars of the world.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I -- actually, I wanted to focus in on that because I -- it's something that should be discussed and reminded because there is a long stream of comments on the record and on camera for -- I'm just taking one example -- one person, Marjorie Taylor Greene and her past affinity for baseless conspiracies and also pushing anti-Semitic tropes. But her extreme views, they are not in the distant past. I'm -- I like -- just I recalled in this morning, mid-December, she's bragging about helping to organize the January 6 insurrection. And then she also said this. Let me play this for everybody.
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REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R-GA): And I got to tell you something. If Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, it would have been armed.
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BOLDUAN: And to -- the point that we were just discussing, you hear that and my question is, what happens when she goes there again?
BASH: It's a great question. We don't know the answer to that. Let me just tell you what one Republican -- senior Republican lawmaker said to me yesterday about the message that is coming down internally from the Speaker's office. And that is, let's bring them into the fold. Let's give them jobs because if they have policy jobs, it will keep them busy, and perhaps keep them away from the crazy. That is a very big risk but it is something that clearly the leadership right now doesn't feel that they have any other option but to do if he wants to keep his job, and that's Kevin McCarthy.
I will say in the case of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Nick Fuentes, he -- Abby Phillip reminded me of this yesterday. He has an annual or had an annual event -- an annual conference. He is a very vocal, very vile white supremacist, anti-Semite.
BASH: It was in February of last year. So, within the last year, Marjorie Taylor Greene was there, Paul Gosar was there, and Kevin McCarthy rip them for being there. Eventually, they distanced themselves from Nick Fuentes and set claimed that they didn't know all of the horrible things that he stands for. But that wasn't that long ago. And look, we can hope that they've learned, but there's a very big concern that the leadership in the House Republican -- House Republicans are normalizing what is really absolutely beyond the pale.
BOLDUAN: Yes. And just on the face of it and your great reporting is important here, that, them, believing that just giving them jobs and keeping them busy is going to keep them out of trouble. I mean, that approach, when you know that these are beliefs that in statements they've been in a spouse in the past -- I mean, that approach is like sketchy at best. I mean, it is -- but it is what it is, and it is where we are. Let's see what happens. BASH: Yes.
BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Dana. Thank you.
BASH: You too. Thanks, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Thank you.
The failed politician now accused of masterminding four shootings at the homes of Democratic officials in New Mexico is in court very soon. The police chief who cracked open this case joins me next.
BOLDUAN: The man who lost an election for the New Mexico State House now stands accused of orchestrating shootings at the homes of Democratic local officials. He's going to be making his first court appearance this afternoon. We are now learning more about the plot the police say they have uncovered by this man, Solomon Pena. Josh Campbell joins me now. He's tracking these details for us. Josh, what more are you hearing?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, this former GOP House candidate there in New Mexico will be in court for his first appearance in just a couple of hours time. It's just to remind our viewers of the charges that he's facing, they include felon in possession of a firearm, attempted aggravated battery, shooting in an unoccupied dwelling, shooting at or from a motor vehicle, as well as conspiracy. Of course, this all stems from accusations that this former candidate conspired with four other people between December the fourth and January 3 to target with gunfire the homes of four Democratic officials there in New Mexico. It is believed that this is politically motivated, police say, possibly due to his attempt to prove that he actually won this election despite losing this election in a landslide.
Now, CNN has attempted to reach out to Pena for comment. The district attorney there was on CNN this morning and spoke about the strength that he believes the prosecution has in actually prosecuting and building this case. Take a listen.
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SAM BREGMAN, BERNALILLO COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, we obviously have the gunshots fired the case, since we -- you know, we -- there's a -- there's a lot of evidence there. We have the electronic communications. We have a significant amount of evidence and we're very confident in our case moving forward.
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CAMPBELL: Now, this arrest warrant affidavit was rich with detail. The prosecutor there talking about some of these evidence -- this evidence. You see pictures that were recovered of the co-conspirators there with the suspect as well as the guns that were used. One final question that authorities have to still determine is whether these four other co-conspirators actually knew who they were targeting or whether they were simply hired to spray gunfire at these homes, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Josh, thank you very much for that.
CAMPBELL: You bet.
BOLDUAN: Let's go to somebody who knows a whole lot about this who blew up in this whole case. Joining me now is Albuquerque police chief Harold Medina. Chief, thank you so much for your time. Can you describe for us, is Solomon Pena talking to investigators?
HAROLD MEDINA, CHIEF, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO POLICE: No. Mr. Pena invoked his rights to the attorney and did not make any comments to our officers. But we build a strong case based off of the evidence we find that we feel very comfortable with the place we are at this juncture in the investigation.
BOLDUAN: Have you gotten any indication in the time that he has been in custody, has he shown any remorse? I -- obviously, if he's not you know speaking, he's not admitted to anything, I assume?
MEDINA: No. We have no indication that he's shown any remorse for any of his actions and the attack that he carried out on our democracy.
BOLDUAN: Yes. I want to talk about that in just a second. But is it yet clear what Pena's intent was throughout this entire thing? Was it intimidate these people, or actually to hurt someone?
MEDINA: You know, I think it's safe first to say that it was changing what his intent was. You know, there's speculation that his intent was to intimidate these individuals. But as you follow the course of the investigation and you read statements, he was becoming more aggressive in his manner, and he was starting to ask them to do activities, which clearly put lives in danger. And he should have known that. So, I think it may have started in one place, but I think it quickly ended up in another place. And it was to hurt people.
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And that came -- that came through in the arrest warrant affidavit I wanted to ask you about because according to the affidavit, a confidential witness told police that one of the suspects had instructed the others to fire above the windows at these homes in order to avoid hitting anyone inside. But this source said that Pena said that he wanted the shooters to actually be, in the way it was described by this in the affidavit was to be, "more aggressive." What do you -- what did -- what more do you think Pena wanted them to do?
MEDINA: You know, I think he was short of saying he wanted the individuals to be hurt. Those actions clearly are very dangerous to the individuals in the home and those statements are very concerning, especially when he talked about earlier -- the shootings occurring earlier in the day when individuals were standing up. You had the comments of individuals not laying down and you add that you want the gunshots lower in the home, clearly indicates that somebody -- that your intent is to hurt somebody.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Do you know how Pena knew the men that he allegedly contracted to carry these shootings out?
MEDINA: No. We're still looking into that. Obviously, Mr. Pena was a resident of our prison facility in New Mexico for a period of time, and one of the other individuals was also a member of the same prison. And we're looking to see if they knew each other and if there is a relationship during their time in prison together, or if they made friends outside and they just happen to run in the same criminal circle.
BOLDUAN: Do you have evidence opinion -- we know he visited at least two of the homes beforehand to try to persuade the targets that the election was rigged. Do you know if he visited all four?
MEDINA: No. We don't believe he visited all four, but we do know that he visited others that hadn't been targeted yet. We know there's another county commissioner who has come forward whose home he had visited and who he had had a verbal altercation with. So, he did -- it does seem like he visited the county commissioners in this case.
BOLDUAN: It's interesting. You mentioned off the top this attack on our democracy. The mayor's talked about -- you know, the way he said it is this type of radicalism is a threat to our nation, and it made its way to your doorstep in Albuquerque, how do you characterize what this case is and represents?
MEDINA: You know, it is -- it is very disheartening to see that we have public officials, and at times people questioned, you know, and there's some individuals always say, why did the Albuquerque police devote so many resources into this investigation and nobody had been killed. I looked at it as a threat to our democracy.
We elect individuals to represent the people. These individuals who are representing the people don't always have 24/7 protection from law enforcement. They don't have dignitary protection with them at all times, or ever. And in this case, we took it very seriously because we're just getting ready to open our legislative session.
We know that it is a very important session in terms of crying, and the amount of funding that is in the state of New Mexico at this time, and we're looking to take big steps forward. And the last thing we wanted was individuals feeling that they couldn't do their job or push the legislation forward out of fear of somebody hurting them.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Well, Chief, thank you so much for your time and for being generous with that. I really appreciate it. We'll continue to follow this investigation. Thank you.
And thank you all so much for watching. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts now.