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Biden And McCarthy To Meet Wednesday On Debt Ceiling; Sixth Memphis Police Officer Relieved Of Duty After Tyre Nichols Beating; Chiefs & Eagles To Face Off In Super Bowl LVII. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired January 30, 2023 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, the White House and the Speaker's office are gearing up for a big face-to-face meeting. President Biden and House Speaker McCarthy will be sitting down on Wednesday to discuss the very big issue of the debt ceiling. The Republicans have made clear they want cuts to raise -- spending cuts to raise the debt ceiling.

MJ Lee is at the White House for us. She's joining us now. For the Biden teams part, MJ, they have made clear that they're not going to negotiate over this, so what are you hearing there today?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, they've said that they are not willing to negotiate over raising the debt ceiling but the reality is that the president confronts a very new political reality in Washington and that is that Republicans now, of course, control the House and that Kevin McCarthy is a new House speaker though a compromise one at that.

This is going to be the first time that the two men meet in person since McCarthy became the new House speaker. And we know that he faces a tremendous amount of pressure from the hardliners in his own caucus to extract deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. He gave a little preview of how he is viewing this Wednesday's meeting over the weekend. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): We're going to meet this Wednesday. I know the president said he didn't want to have any discussions but I think it's very important that our whole government is designed to find a compromise. I want to find a reasonable and responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling with take control of this runaway spending.


LEE: And you know, Kate, while the White House has said that they're not willing to negotiate, they will not give any concessions on raising the debt ceiling, over the weekend, a White House spokesperson also said about this meeting, the president will ask what the speaker's plan is.

So, at the very least we get the sense the president will of course hear him out. We, of course, also know that time is of the essence. The Treasury Department has said the government essentially has until early June until their so-called extraordinary measures can prevent the government from defaulting. So, this could be protected and it could certainly get down to the wire, Kate.

BOLDUAN: For sure. It's great to see you, MJ. Thank you.

Now, former President Donald Trump. He is going after one man likely to challenge him for the Republican nomination in '24. Trump telling reporters over the weekend it would be "disloyal for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to run." Let's get over to Kristen Holmes. She's got much more on this for us. So, Kristen, Trump's campaign event in for -- Trump's first campaign event really in quite some time. What else did he say?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This was the first time we actually saw him on the trail since he announced in November. He took aim at critics who have said that his campaign was off to a slow start saying he was now more angry and more committed than ever in running. But he also, as you mentioned, took aim at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Now, it is no secret that currently, DeSantis is considered widely as Trump's most formidable opponent should he run against him in 2024. He said that he -- as he has before that he took credit for the fact that he won governor in 2018, saying it was his endorsement that put DeSantis over the edge. But he also pushed back, lashing out at DeSantis and his COVID protocols that he had in place. Something that Republicans have praised. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean, I had governors that decided not to close their state.


Florida was actually closed for a very long period of time. Remember, he closed the beaches and everything else. You know, it's -- they're trying to rewrite history. That's sometimes hard to do. So, then, when I hear he might run, you know, I consider that very disloyal. But it's not about loyalty. But to me, it is. It is always about loyalty.


HOLMES: It's always about loyalty. Something that we have learned about Donald Trump. And I asked him is it disloyal for the members of your administration or your former administration to run. Obviously, reported that Nikki Haley is thinking about it, Pompeo is thinking about it, Mike Pence, his former vice president is thinking about a 2024 run.

And what he told me was that Nikki Haley had actually called him and told him that he was -- she was thinking about a presidential run. And he told her to go ahead and do it, which gives you quite an indication here of how he views these two potential rivals, Haley and DeSantis very differently, Kate.

BOLDUAN: At least in this moment.


BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Kristen. Thank you very much.

Joining me now for more on this is CNN chief political correspondent, co-anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION" Dana Bash. It's good to see you, Dana. Let's start the debt ceiling, Dana.


BOLDUAN: I mean, I saw some reporting that McCarthy sees even sitting down with Biden as something of a win for him. I kind of wonder, you know, good spin or real reality. But what do you see in this meeting come Wednesday?

BASH: This is one of those times -- rare times in Washington where the spin and the reality are the same thing because it is important for the new speaker to be able to sit down with the president. I know that might sound counterintuitive since so much of his Republican Conference is -- you know, they're -- they have their feet down and they're saying we're not going to budge.

They're really entrenched. But when it comes to this particular issue of the debt ceiling, they also realize -- at least enough of them realize that is not an option. This needs to be dealt with in some way, shape, or form, or the economy will be in very, very big trouble.

So, the fact that they're going to have this meeting is important and is a big deal. I think we have to be careful to listen for the terminology here. They are going to sit down and talk. How much the president is going to actually negotiate meaning compromise on what the Republicans want, which is spending cuts in addition to the debt ceiling increase? That remains to be seen.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, we're -- so we're going to standby to standby on that one. We'll see -- we'll see what happens come Monday -- come Wednesday, and then every Wednesday after that until June. But before then, I do want to ask you because Kristen Holmes, as she was just telling us about Trump heading out on the campaign trail for the first time in a very long time.


BOLDUAN: He was in New Hampshire, and New Hampshire's Republican Governor Chris Sununu was on with you yesterday. I want to play part of what he told you about the Republican presidential field as it is taking shape. Let me play this for everybody.


GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU, (R-NH): Obviously, DeSantis and Trump are the two candidates, right? So, whether you believe it or not --

BASH: Oh, yes -- well, he's not declared.

SUNUNU: OK, not publicly declared but he has hundreds of millions of dollars in pledges. Obviously, Ron DeSantis is looking to run for president, which is fine. And he probably win New Hampshire right now without a doubt.


BOLDUAN: That's just a piece of it, Dana, because I thought the whole discussion with you on this was really interesting on how he sees the field and also where he is in the process of deciding himself. What do you take from that conversation?

BASH: Yes. Well, to answer that, he said, he's considering running for president, which is a baby step further than he has gone before, which is people are talking to him. And that is just -- look, I think, tells us about where we are in the calendar.

We are in the beginning of 2023 and all of these -- mostly governors, actually, at this point, who aren't thinking about it are starting to make more and more moves whether it's Ron DeSantis or what Kristen was talking about with Nikki Haley.

And the fact that Governor Sununu talked about Ron DeSantis, the governor from Florida, no question at this point in time being able to win his state, the first in the primary state, is really -- first in the nation primary state rather, is really critical because remember, back in 2016 when there was a big, big field, it was Donald Trump's decisive win in the New Hampshire primary that set him going forward, and he never really looked back.

So, it really does tell you how different the dynamics are now. Not that we really needed to know that but it's an illustration of how different they are now than they were just a couple of years ago for the former president and for other Republicans looking to find a lane.

BOLDUAN: Yes, looking to find the lane is a key point on that. It's great to see you, Dana. That was a really interesting conversation with Sununu. Thanks for coming on.

BASH: You too. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: See you. Thank you.

All right, so coming up for us. The murder trial of Alex Murdaugh is back in session. So, what investigators observed when they questioned him after finding the bodies of his wife and son? That's next.



BOLDUAN: This just in to CNN. A sixth Memphis police officer has now been relieved of duty following the death of Tyre Nichols. Nick Valencia is back up with us now with more detail on this. Nick, what are you learning?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The Memphis Police Department, Kate, sending me a text message to confirm that a sixth police officer involved in the beating of Tyre Nichols has now been put on administrative leave. Typically, we know that these officers, when they are put on administrative leave that is paid.

We're working on getting details but this officer has been identified by the Memphis Police Department as Preston Hemphill. We don't know exactly what his involvement was in that night on January 7, we're working on getting those details. We also don't know if he was part of this alleged Scorpion unit.

But this is what Memphis police is saying in a statement to me. Hemphill was relieved of duty with other officers. Remember we said this investigation is ongoing, more information will be shared as it develops. So, Preston Hemphill now becoming the sixth officer relieved related to this incident involving Tyre Nichols, more details to come, Kate.


BOLDUAN: Absolutely. I mean, this is in line with what we heard from the police chief last week before the video was released, saying that more police officers are -- were still under investigation even after the firing of the five. So, this is in line with that. Clearly, many more details to come.

VALENCIA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Jump back up if you got more. Thank you so much, Nick. I really appreciate it.

VALENCIA: You got it. Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's turn now to this. Students out of Virginia elementary school are back in class today for the first time in nearly a month. This is after the six-year-old student shot and critically wounded his first-grade teacher. Since then, the school's principal has been reassigned, the school superintendent is being replaced, and an assistant principal is gone as well.

Brian Todd is in Newport News, Virginia with much more on this. Brian, what does the first day back mean for the school and for the students?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were some anxious moments here, Kate, starting a little over two hours ago when students and teachers filed back into the school, classes started a little over two hours ago for the first time in more than three weeks since the shooting.

And basically, they returned to Fort Knox and enhanced security footprint greatly enhanced since that shooting, just some of the measures in place now, two state-of-the-art metal detectors are in place inside the school. The students have to go around now carrying transparent clear backpacks. That's a requirement here. If a parent wants to escort their child to -- all the way to a classroom, the parent is subject to being searched. There were a lot of police officers, including the police chief, Steve Drew, here to greet the students as they came back. I had a word with Chief Drew as he came out about how it all went this morning. Here's what he had to say.


STEVE DREW, POLICE CHIEF, NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA: There was a lot of smiles, a lot of high fives, and fist bumps going on. We had a lot of officers here. I didn't want it to be overwhelming but I wanted those kids to know we support them, as well as the faculty and staff.


TODD: And part of the support included therapy dogs that were brought in for the students here. So, just a lot of security and just to some added measures here for the students as they returned to school.

I did ask Chief Drew about the investigation, whether there's still a chance that the mother could be charged -- the mother of the student whose gun he accessed to bring to school could be charged. He said I would be wrong to step outside that boundary. And he's not going to do that. The investigation is ongoing, Kate.

BOLDUAN: It sure is. All right, Brian, thank you for that.

Let's turn now to the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, accused of killing his wife and son. A state crime scene investigator is back on the stand today. Randi Kaye is at the courthouse. She's joining us now. Randi, so many twists and turns. What have you seen in court today so far?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as you know, since the beginning of this trial, the defense has been framing the investigation as sloppy, and they continue that theme today suggesting that the state's investigators walk through the crime scene, trampled on evidence, walk through the blood that was at the crime scene.

And also, today and even last week, a lot of talk about blood on Alex Murdaugh. Whether or not there was blood, many experts for the state all saying that they didn't see any blood on Alex Murdaugh.

And, Kate, this is key because he has said -- he told investigators that night that he tried to check the pulse on his wife and son. He even tried to turn his son over. This was a gruesome bloody crime scene. So, it would make sense that he would have had blood on him. Again, the state investigators saying that he didn't.

They are seemed to be setting up this scenario that perhaps he washed his clothes that night after allegedly killing his wife and son. But we know that they didn't fully search the house for three months until September of 2021. If they had gone into the house fully that night, perhaps they would have -- or even sooner perhaps they could have seen whether or not he had done that. But also, Kate, getting back to the night of the murder. So, Alex Murdaugh did speak with investigators at great length in their car. And he suggested that perhaps someone else was responsible for the murders of his wife and son. And this goes back to a boat crash that his son, Paul, was involved in back in 2019. Listen to what he told investigators.


ALEX MURDAUGH, CHARGED WITH MURDERING WIFE & SON: No, it was really bad. My buy, over there. I could see. It was--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look, I'm so sorry, Mr. Murdaugh.

MURDAUGH: And I could see his brain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you all been having any problems out here? Trespassers?

MURDAUGH: What comes to my mind is my son, Paul, was in a boat wreck a couple of years ago. There's been a lot of negative publicity about that and there's been a lot of people online just really vow stuff.


KAYE: A young woman named Mallory Beach was killed in that boat crash and Paul Murdaugh had been charged with driving drunk when he was killed, that trial went away. And I should mention that anyone involved in that boat crash was interviewed and cleared. So, this mystery person that he's suggesting, Kate, we just don't know who else he was suggesting would have been involved in those murders.


BOLDUAN: Randi, it's good to see you. Thank you for being there and bring this to us. I really appreciate it. If that trial continues, we will stay on top of it.

KAYE: Sure.

BOLDUAN: We're also watching this today. The Super Bowl matchup is set. The game is already making history in big ways. That's next.


BOLDUAN: The stage is now set for Super Bowl LVII after Sunday's conference title games. The Kansas City Chiefs are heading to their third Super Bowl in the past four seasons after winning a nail-biter over the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20 for the AFC Championship.


And the Philadelphia Eagles, they're going to their first Super Bowl since 2018 after beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-7 in the NFC Championship. Eagles fans, unsurprisingly, wasted no time celebrating, flooding the streets after the game. The city announced street closures and vehicle restrictions in the city center because of all of the mayhem of fun.

And then there is these scenes in Kansas City after the Chiefs won. This history is being made with the Super Bowl. For the first time, there will be two starting black quarterbacks playing, and the -- also the first time, two brothers will be playing against each other. It's going to be exciting.

Thanks so much for watching, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.