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Brian Walshe Charged with Wife's Murder; U.S. Government Expected to Hit Debt Ceiling Today; Ukraine Military Aid Package; New Zealand Prime Minister Arden to Step Down By February 7; Human Error Possible in JFK Near-Collision. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 19, 2023 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewer in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Bianca off this week. But just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was absolutely stunning to hear this level of detail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One step closer to the truth of what happened to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is expected to be one of the largest packages. You almost certainly expect them to be a tremendous amount of ammo in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been providing our Ukrainian partners with precisely what they need to defend their country, to defend their sovereignty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Santos did set up a GoFundMe account and he raised as much as $3,000 for this life-saving surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I'd known that you minded my dog and my friend and families hearts to raise money for yourself.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: Now it is Thursday, January 19th, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. Where prosecutors say a Massachusetts man killed and dismembered his wife because he wanted to end their marriage. On the day of her disappearance, they say he searched the internet for "can you be charged with murder without a body and can you throw away body parts." 47-year-old Brian Walshe made his first court appearance on Wednesday. Prosecutors say he disposed of his wife's Ana's remains in dumpsters around Boston.


BOB WARD, REPORTER, BOSTON 25 NEWS: In fact, Tracy Miner, the defense attorney tried to stop this from happening, saying, you know, I waive everything, let's just get to this. And the judge said, no, I need to hear this and then it just began. And you could hear a pin drop in that courtroom as the prosecutor just went through, first these internet searches and then all the other items brought in as well. It wasn't just the internet searches. We also learned today they have video surveillance of Brian Walshe taking trash bags down in the towns of Abington and Brockton and loading them into dumpsters down there. And the reason we don't have those trash bags, those went to an incinerator in southeastern Massachusetts.


FOSTER: CNN's Jason Carroll has more of the details.


LYNN BELAND, PROSECUTOR: Rather than divorce, it is believed that Brian Walshe dismembered Ana Walshe and discarded her body.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Chilling new details revealed in court by prosecutors describing the evidence against the Massachusetts father who allegedly murdered his wife and tried to cover it up.

Brian Walshe in custody since January 8th when he was charged with misleading investigators searching for his wife was in court for the arraignment, Wednesday, and formally charged with Ana Walshe's murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you understand those charges, Mr. Walshe?


CARROLL (voice over): The prosecution laid out some of the disturbing evidence against Walshe, saying he used his son's iPad to make numerous online searches in the days before and after Ana Walshe disappeared.

BELAND: On December 27th, the defendant Googled "What's the best sate to divorce for a man? At 4:55 a.m. on January 1st, he searched "how long before a body starts to smell?" At 4:58 a.m., "how to stop a body from decomposing."

CARROLL (voice over): A not guilty plea was entered for Walshe who said little in court, only shook his head once as more of his alleged searches came to light.

BELAND: At 5:20 a.m. he searched, "how to embalm a body." 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." CARROLL (voice over): Prosecutors say Ana's employer, a DC real estate firm was the first to report her missing when she didn't show up for work on January 4th. That's when police went to the Walshe's home for a wellbeing check.

BELAND: It was only at this time when they met with the defendant that he first reporter his wife missing.

CARROLL (voice-over): During the course of the investigation, police found 10 trash bags from a dumpster and trash facility with items including towels, rags, slippers, tape, gloves, cleaning agents, a COVID-19 vaccination card with Ana Walshe's name on it, a hacksaw and a hatchet.


They also discovered personal items including a portion of a necklace, believed to have been worn by Ana Walshe in several photos. Tests of some of the items by the state crime lab determined the presence of DNA from both Ana and Brian Walshe.

After the arraignment, defense attorney, Tracy Miner called out prosecutors for leaks in the case saying in a statement that read: In my experience, whereas here, the prosecution leaks so-called evidence to the press before they provide it to me, their case isn't that strong.

Miner also said: 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.

CARROLL: Despite all the evidence that was revealed in court, prosecutors say many of the trash bags that Walshe allegedly throughout, many of the items that were inside, they believe those items were incinerated before they could get their hands on it.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Quincy, Massachusetts.


FOSTER: Prosecutors haven't said whether they found any of Anna Walshe's remains. And if they don't have a body the murder case can become very difficult. CNN spoke with a noted forensic scientist about the challenge.


LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Where is the body? Where is Ana? And what they did was they have DNA that can demonstrate that on the bloody broken knife in the basement and in the blood that was left in the basement that he failed to clean up, we know that this matches Ana. And so, it's going to be very circumstantial. They found also this bloody rug in Peabody at the transfer station, in Peabody, Massachusetts and that also -- that's DNA. It comes back to Ana.

So, there's a lot of information about some crime of violence given hacksaws and hatchets and, you know, $450 to try to clean up the scene. And you know, amateurs don't clean up scenes very well. Professional companies, they exist to clean up crime scenes. So, he's sloppy. It's an amazing thing when you put all this together and look at the Google searches, is extraordinary. But without the body it's a challenge. But they can certainly get a conviction if not first- degree, then second-degree murder even without a body.


FOSTER: Well, in the coming hours an announcement is expected on whether criminal charges will be filed in the deadly shooting on the set of the Alec Baldwin film "Rust." The cinematographer was killed and the director was wounded during filming in New Mexico back in 2021. Baldwin fired the gun, he blames the film's armor for loading it with a live round instead of a blank and an assistant director who handed him the gun. They accused Baldwin of deflecting blame.

The U.S. government is expected to reach its debt limit today, setting up a political standoff between the White House and Republicans in Congress. The U.S. Treasury can keep the government open with a so- called extraordinary measures for a few months but Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned lawmakers there is considerable uncertainty around that timeline and the risk of default is real. CNN's Phil Mattingly has more from the White House.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The warning from Janet Yellen was ominous. It was also very intentional and part of a plan that is currently being rolled out by the Biden administration, one they plan to stick to in the months ahead. And that warning was the fact that the debt ceiling is going to be hit on Thursday.

Now keep in mind, that does not mean the U.S. is going to default. There are extraordinary measures in terms of shifting funds around, prioritizing what investments get made when. The Treasury can deploy and has deployed over the course of several years of these battles, and they will, and that should get them roughly four or five months before the true threat of default is actually on the table.

But there is one thing to keep in mind here. White House officials have been steadfast and very blunt on the idea that there will be no negotiations in their mind, there will be no coming to the table, there will be no horse trading with the House Republican majority. And it was made very clear a clean debt ceiling increase is not on the table. That of course means there's a stalemate, one likely to last for the next several months.

But when you talk to White House officials behind the scenes, they made clear two things -- one, they believe that this is simply not a negotiation they can afford to have. In terms of just pure governance being able to move forward and pay the bills that have already been accrued -- which is what the debt ceiling represents -- this is a necessary move that needs to be made.

Obviously, that diverges from the last several years of Republican and Democratic debates over this issue. But the other is the idea that White House officials firmly believe politically they are certainly in a good place on this issue, whatever Republicans put on the table. Whether it's cuts to entitlement programs like Medicare or Social Security. Whether it's prioritizing certain bills be paid or certain debts be paid instead of others.


They feel like they can win the messaging battle on that. So, there's the politics, and there's the policy and certainly there's the logistics of governance here that White House officials are sticking to. This is the plan they've been working through over the course of several weeks. It's one that's closely coordinated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and the Treasury Department as well. It's laying out the battle lines for what is almost certain to be a very intense fight in the months ahead. The way out, well, White House officials say there's only one, a clean debt increase. Republican say, not an option. Where this all ends, well, it could bring us dangerously close, something that's never happened in the history of the country -- default.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


FOSTER: Sources tell CNN the U.S. is finalizing a huge $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine. It could be announced as soon as this week. The highlight is expected to be Stryker vehicles, which are capable of moving infantry across a battlefield and mine-resistant vehicles known at MRAPs. The U.S. will not be sending M1 Abrams tanks and longer-range missiles that Ukraine had requested though.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says shipments of tanks and air defense weapon systems cannot come soon enough. He spoke to the World Economic Forum by video link on Wednesday. President Zelenskyy says Russia is exporting terror and a large number of Ukrainians have lost their lives.

Joining me are Clare and Anna to go through this. First of all, Clare, where is the apprehension here on sending this equipment? And why does Ukraine need specific items?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so you see that the latest U.S. package according to sources is tailored really to the fighting in the east. We're seeing these different types of armored vehicles which can improve their maneuverability across the battlefield potentially get them closer to the Russian front lines.

I think the concern -- and it's a very serious concern right now in Ukraine. One, is that they're still outgunned. We heard the story of an appeal this morning from the foreign and defense minister saying Russia retains a substantial, quantitative advantage in troops, weapons and military equipment. So, there's that.

There is also a real concern that Russia could be getting ready to mount a new offensive. President Zelenskyy spoke this morning about how he expects Russia to bring a new package of Iranian drones into play. He says air defense is still a weak to Ukraine. So, they're very concerned in Ukraine. That is why we see this significant uptick in requests for weapons. They are really seizing this moment when we see a real coalescing of this Western alliance around them.

FOSTER: And Zelenskyy took it to the heart of global power currently which is in Davos. What sort of response is he getting from the leaders there? Why aren't they delivering everything that he wants?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, one of the things that Ukraine wants is tanks. That is nothing new. They have done for some weeks now and some countries agree. And some allies have pledged tanks -- Finland, Poland, the U.K., but many tanks, particularly in Europe, were made by Germany and they need Germany's approval to re-export them to Ukraine and Germany has yet to give that. Now yesterday and Davos -- in many ways is quite awkward because you had President Zelenskyy at the end of the day speaking remotely, as we saw, addressing Davos.

But earlier in the day you had Olaf Scholz, the Chancellor of Germany, with a huge amount of pressure on him from Ukraine but also other leaders, but they didn't speak specifically to tanks but Scholz said we are never doing something just by ourselves, but together with others, especially the U.S.

And as we know, the U.S. is not yet ready to commit tanks to the efforts. Armored vehicles, Scholz in considering the M1 Abrams tanks they say would have issues in terms of logistical and maintenance complications that are different from their lesser tanks. They're counting on the U.S. is not planning to do that.

There is a meeting of defense ministers today between America and Germany. There is a big summit of defense ministers tomorrow. So, we may get some updates on this issue of tanks.

FOSTER: Greta also speaking today, isn't she, in Davos. Just been released from police custody, I believe, in Germany, in fact. But she always gets so much attention, doesn't she, and she does have the ear of leaders.

STEWART: And she will rock the boat. I'm sure everyone is bracing for Greta's arrival in Davos. She's going to meet with the IEA head Fatih Birol. That will be pretty interesting meeting. And she's being joined by other young climate activists. This is a place where every year there are people saying, look at all these CEOs flying in by private jet to then talk about climate change. So, you can expect that to be high up on her agenda of things she'd like to change. And also, plus, all the big CEOs of oil majors are there as well. So, that could be quite interesting today.

FOSTER: Anna, Clare, thank you both very much.

The U.S. Coast Guard says this is a suspected spy ship that's been loitering near the Hawaiian islands. The Coast Guard released video of the vessel and said it's believed to be gathering intelligence. The U.S. has been monitoring the ship for several weeks and said it is sailing through international waters. Now in a stunning and unexpected announcement, New Zealand's Prime

Minister says she's resigning and will be stepping down in just a matter of weeks. Speaking at a Labour Party retreat, Jacinda Ardern got choked up as she says she doesn't have the energy to lead the government anymore and will not seek re-election and announce the end date for her time in office as well.


It's not far away, Kristi Lu Stout. This was a shock, wasn't it, to people in New Zealand?

KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was a stunning announcement for people in New Zealand and also people all around the world. You know, earlier today we heard from the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who said she didn't have the energy to stand for reelection in October and said that she plans to stand down as the leader of her country by February 7th. And I want you to take a listen to what she says next.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: I'm entering now my sixth year in office. And for each of these years I have given my absolute all. I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging. You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.


STOUT: Jacinda Ardern added that she's not leaving the job because the job was tough. And she went on to list just the number of challenges that she and her government faced in the last five and a half years while she's been in power, including the COVID-19 pandemic, including the deadly volcanic eruption on Whakaari Island and including of course, the horrific 2019 Christchurch terror attacks when a terrorist targeted two mosques in the city, ultimately taking the lives of 51 people. And she responded with both compassion and decisive action.

Now look on the international stage she has been heralded for her strong progressive views and her style of leadership. But inside New Zealand she's facing a number of political headwinds. And as for what's next for her, again, she plans to stand down, resign as Prime Minister on February 7th, she has no other plans professionally as of yet. But says she's looking forward to being there with her 4-year-old daughter when she starts school later in the year and, in her words, to finally get married with her partner. Back to you -- Max.

FOSTER: Yes, no rush getting another job. Kristi Lu Stout in Hong Kong, thank you.

We have this just into CNN, at least one person has been killed, dozens of others injured at a stadium stampede in Iraq. This report is coming in from the news agency INA. It happened in the southern city of Basra. Large crowds of fans were gathering outside the international stadium waiting for the Arabian Gulf Cup football final match between Iraq and Oman. We'll bring you further details as we get them.

Still to come, unusual instance at U.S. airports this week. A JetBlue plane bumped into another parked aircraft on Wednesday.

And in Atlanta a woman sprayed a fire extinguisher at bystanders as she wasn't allowed to board a flight. We'll have those details ahead.

And later, immigration records appear to contradict the claim from embattled Republican lawmaker George Santos, about his mother. Will dive deeper, ahead.



FOSTER: A strong winter storm is moving across the U.S. right now after giving parts of Colorado its largest snowfall since 1992. Millions of Americans are under winter warning alerts from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes. Some areas could see up to a foot of snow as the storm makes its way east to New England by the weekend. High winds are also a threat with more than 10 million Americans under wind alerts.

A disturbing incident at the world's busiest airport. Was the scene at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson airport on Tuesday. A haze of chemicals in the air as officers tried to detain a woman near the boarding gate. The eyewitness who took this video says the woman ran to board a plane and then yelled at staff when they wouldn't let her do so. She then allegedly grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed bystanders with it. Police rushed to the scene and the woman was arrested and charged with assault.

And in another unusual airport incident, a JetBlue flight being pushed back from the gate, bumped into a parked airplane at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday. The other plane was unoccupied at the time and the company says no injuries were reported. The flight returned to the gate and passengers boarded a different flight. Both planes were taken out of service for inspection.

Meanwhile, investigators say human error is looking more likely in the near collision last week between Delta and American Airlines flight. CNN's Pete Muntean has more on that.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This latest development only further raises the possibility of human error as the cause of that scary near-collision on the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday. The NTSB and FAA are investigating why an American airlines 777 taxied onto the runway as a Delta Airlines 737 was taking off at the same time. The FAA says those planes only came within about 1,000 feet of each other in the end.

Now the new development, a source familiar telling me that the runway safety lights, the runway status lights, a system that warns pilots exactly against incidents like this, was, in fact, operating and airport staff at John F. Kennedy International Airport immediately went to check out if it was working properly.

The runway status lights are something that are only at about 20 commercial airports nationwide, also, at JFK. The idea is to make it so that pilots can easily see if a runway is being used for takeoff or if it's unsafe to cross. The investigation is still ongoing here. The National Transportation Safety Board tells us that interviews are ongoing.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: The crackdown on TikTok continues in the U.S. The University of Texas at Austin is the latest to block access to the social media app while users are logged into its wireless network. It comes as part of an order from Governor Greg Abbott. The university says it's a step to, quote, eliminate risks to information in the university's network. It follows other universities and government groups that have also limited or outright banned the use of the app.


Well, inflation is still high in the U.S. and around the world, in fact, there's a glimmer of optimism that the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate hikes may finally be working. The latest government figures show wholesale prices rose just 6.2 percent in December. A significantly less than the 7.3 percent increase the month before. Many Analysts have expected wholesale prices to rise much more than that.

American consumers are still treading lightly, however. The government reports that retail sales in December, the busy holiday season, were down 1.1 percent, marking the sharpest monthly decline in a year.

Global inflation, meanwhile, it costing some Microsoft employees their jobs. The technology giant plans to lay off about 10,000 workers as part of a broader cost-cutting measure. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the company's CEO blamed inflation for inhibiting growth. Microsoft is the largest technology company to cut its workforce this year.

Amazon drawing the ire of U.S. safety regulators. The Department of Labor says it found unsafe working conditions at three of the company's warehouses, which could put workers at risk of injury whilst lifting packages. The department accuses Amazon of focusing on speed instead of safety. It's facing more than $60,000 in penalties. Amazon says it will appeal.

These are live images from Nantes in France where we see a large crowd of people taking place in the nationwide strike. Protesters are outraged over the plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Meanwhile, millions of people will have to work another two years before their pensions kick in if the Macron government's proposal becomes law. Eight of the largest French unions are urging their members to mobilize across the country. Many schools are closed and public transportation is expected to be a disaster.

A court has unsealed a search warrant in the case of the murdered Idaho college students. What authorities found at the suspect's home, coming up.

But first, Republican Congressman George Santos is accused of taking money meant to help a dying dog. What the owner of the dog told us next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw him on TV and I was like, I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach about this guy. Who is he and why do I recognize him?