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Tornado Watch for Parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida; Classified Documents Found at Pence's Home; Family and Friends Remember Monterey Park Victims; U.S. and Germany Plan to Send Tanks to Ukraine. Aired 4:00-4:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Max Foster joining you live from London. Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most scary thing in my life, but thank you, God, that we are here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We couldn't see anything. It just went white. Everything went white. Explosions were happening. It was terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Biden this is a political gift. It turns out apparently, he is not alone in perhaps inadvertently taking classified documents.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don't know how this happened. We need to get to the bottom of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an example of our leaders not following the rules they write themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are preparing to announce their commitment of a significant number of Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have every right to defend their territory and armored capabilities like tanks can be helpful.


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

FOSTER: It is Wednesday, January 25th, 9 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast where we are following a dangerous storm system barreling across the southeast. Right now, a tornado watch remains in effect for parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. NOBILO: 40 million people are under wind alerts across 14 states and

more than 100,000 customers have lost power. And this is all from the same storm and reported tornadoes that ravaged areas of Texas and Louisiana. In part near Houston power poles and lines were toppled and structures that look like they were once buildings have been flattened and rubble is all over the place.

FOSTER: In Houston itself, emergency crews have been helping stranded motorists on water-covered roads and people who wound up in dangerous situations described what they endured.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house is gone so the whole top section is completely ruined. So, it's toast. The house will be torn down now. So, kind of hard to take. But, hey, we're alive that's the main thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just all ran to the restrooms and just watch the whole building fall. Luckily the restrooms didn't fall. That's the only thing that kept us alive.


FOSTER: In Pasadena, Texas, a semitruck of some sort was flipped onto its side and teetered over a highway median.

NOBILO: The storm also tossed around cars and trees that were abandon. But so far, there are no reports of serious injuries. And CNN's Rosa Flores reports.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This tornado, this stream of storms left a very destructive path. You can see that these are some of the projectiles that were flying. And I want to show you what's behind me because this is what we've been seeing around here. This was a gym, a cross fit gym. You can see if you look closely, you'll even see some of the workout equipment under the mangled roof. The owner of this gym spoke to our affiliate KHOU and he really described the intense moment when this storm, this potential tornado here -- it's unclear, there's still assessments being made -- but he described the chaos and the loud noises.

He says that four people were inside this cross fit gym at the time of this tornado and he says that they all ran to the bathroom of this gym and that's how they survived. They credit that bathroom for their survival.

Now it's dark so it's a little difficult for us to show you more around, but in the distance there's also police activity. Again, the assessments are going on. Here to my right, you can't see because it's dark, but there is ponding on the street. Again, this talks to a lot of the intensity.

Here on my left, you can see that these are giant power lines that fell over this gym, again, speaking to the intense moments of when this happened. And the power lines here look like they split like toothpicks. Now at the height of the storm Central Point Energy, which services the entire Houston metropolitan area, did report more than 100,000 customers without power, but since then they have been working through those power outages.


FOSTER: Well, the serious storm threat is moving further east. CNN meteorologist Britley Ritz is tracking the area for us. Where are you looking -- Britley?

BRITLEY RITZ, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right now we're in the Florida Panhandle and up into southern Alabama where some of the stronger storms are happening at this point in time.


Thankfully no severe warnings in effect but that can still change. We still have the threat of isolated tornadoes early on, this evening and into the morning hours and holding on to this throughout the rest of the day.

Tornado watches in effect for the Florida Panhandle up into southern Alabama until 5:00 Central time. And this rolls eastward through the southeast up through the eastern seaboard over the next few days bringing in the threat of severe weather and snowfall.

That threat of severe weather along the eastern seaboard stretching south of Norfolk, down into Jacksonville and back into Panama City area. Highlighted in yellow where we are most vulnerable for their severe weather risk. Damaging winds, one of our bigger concerns. But again, a few tornadoes cannot be ruled out through the day on Wednesday.

On the back end of that area of low pressure, it's cold and we're dealing with snowfall stretching from Oklahoma back through the Ohio Valley up into New England. Areas highlighted in pink, a winter storm warning that's in effect and that includes St. Louis up through Dayton, Ohio, into parts of Michigan and up through Maine.

And the whole state of Maine under the winter storm warning where we could pick up some of the heavier snowfall totals through the higher elevations of the Appalachian mountains. So, you'll see these areas in darker pink That's 18 to 24 inches of snowfall. Now widespread with the warning, anywhere between I think 5 to 8 inches of snowfall, which is still a significant amount to cause problems out on the roadways, so slow down. Best advice I can give you there.

Parts of Arkansas back into Texas nearing a foot if not right at a foot of snow -- Max and Bianca.

NOBILO: Meteorologist Britley Ritz, thank you.

Now to Washington where the FBI and Justice Department are reviewing documents found in the home of former Vice President Mike Pence. Justice tell CNN an attorney found about a dozen documents during a search of Pence's Indiana residence last week and then he turned them over to the FBI.

FOSTER: The discovery comes as special counsels are identifying classified documents found at the home of former President Donald Trump and several locations linked to President Joe Biden. CNN's Evan Perez reports.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence's home last week. Now those documents are in the hands of the FBI and the Justice Department, which has launched a review of what's in those documents and how they ended up at Pence's home in Indiana. Sources tell CNN that aides to Pence were searching boxes at his new home in Caramel, Indiana. In the wake of these revelations about classified material that were found at President Joe Biden's private office and residence. Discovery comes after Pence has repeatedly said that he did not have any classified documents in his possession.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?


Our staff reviewed all the materials in our office and in our residence to ensure that there were no classified materials that left the White House.

PEREZ: A lawyer for Pence says that the former vice president was unaware that these classified documents were at his home and the Pence attorney told CNN that the FBI came to Pence's home last Thursday to pick up the documents with classified markings. Then on Monday Pence's legal team drove four boxes of records that may include non-classified government documents back to Washington, D.C., to hand them back over to the National Archives for a review -- for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: A former Trump White House official said Pence having the documents could just have been a mistake.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN COMMENTATOR: I sort of was surprised. First and foremost, I think Mike Pence is a man of integrity and he's a very responsible and serious person. In the Trump White House, he was somebody who I trust to do something by the books more than anybody else on the campus. And frankly it kind of makes Biden's case for him, which is that accidents happen.

The thing that stood out to me knowing Mike Pence, just to give an example, when I worked for him, he would often have us do briefings in "The Situation Room" out of an abundance of caution in case we discussed something that was classified even if that wasn't the intent. Because he took classification so seriously. So, this indicates to me, this was a mistake, most likely a staff error.

But keep in mind the timing of this. This is, you know, kind of a hasty transition after January 6th. My guess is that he was not packing boxes heading -- you know, getting ready for a transition in that period and staff were rushed to do it last minute and that's how it was able to happen.


FOSTER: The discovery of classified documents at Pence's home is either good news for Joe Biden or Donald Trump depending on whom you ask. There are differences in all three cases.


One White House official tell CNN this turns down the temperature on this being a Biden only story. More now from CNN's Phil Mattingly.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: White House officials have not been very subtle about trying to draw that very clear contrast between two very different cases over the course of the last several weeks. And this helps underscore that point. The cooperation that former Vice President Pence showed throughout the early stages of the process. They see clear parallels to it. And it's something that undercuts what had been a Biden only -- a President Biden only story for several weeks and kind of makes the point that this is something that isn't just exclusive to President Biden. This is something several officials have dealt well in Washington. Now somebody who held the same position as him.

NOBILO: Top Senators on both sides of the aisle are said to be shocked by the revelations that classified documents were found in Mike Pence's home. CNN's Manu Raju has more on the reaction from Washington.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now Republicans and Democrats were stunned that more classified documents emerged not at Joe Biden's house but at former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home. And a lot of members wanted to know exactly what happened here. Some Senators say that there needs to be an investigation or at least a briefing from the director of national intelligence to provide information to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Something that the key members hope they will learn on Wednesday.

But even other information from other people in the intelligence community, people who may have had access to these documents. How do they end up out of the secure spaces? Now I had a chance to talk to one key member of Congress, Mike Pence's brother, Greg Pence, in Indiana Republican, and I asked about whether he believes his brother may have knowingly taken these documents.

REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): What in the hell is going on.

RAJU: Yes, You tell me. How did classified documents end up at your brother's house in Indiana?

G. PENCE: No idea. I had to read your report this morning to find out.

RAJU: Do you think there's any chance he knowingly took these documents?

G. PENCE: Not at all. If he said he didn't, he didn't. Now my brother is very honest. My brother is very honest.

RAJU: Where Congress goes from here remains to be seen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader was noncommittal about his chamber looking into this issue. He said he could support legislation that's being develop right now to try to tighten up federal recordkeeping laws. We'll see if that comes to pass.

On the House side, the Republicans plan to press ahead to investigate Joe Biden about his mishandling of classified information, specifically the revelation that some documents, including from his time in the Senate were found at his Wilmington home. Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, attacked Biden over that in particular. But he was less concerned about Mike Pence's situation though he said there's a concern more broadly about these records leaking out. Now Mike Pence has been in contact with the House Oversight Committee which has inserted to engage with him on this issue. But how the Republicans deal with this new revelation remains to be seen in the House as they had planned to press ahead full steam ahead on the Biden investigation. But now this Pence revelation throws a wrench into that effort.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: Meanwhile Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has now officially denied two key Democrats a seat on the House Intelligence Committee.

NOBILO: They are Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. In a letter to the House Minority Leader, McCarthy says that he acknowledges the efforts to get the lawmakers back on the committee but would not put partisan loyalty ahead of national security. The Democrats are calling it political vengeance.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: This is not similar to what the Democrats did but integrity matters. And they have failed in that place from Adam Schiff using a position of the intel chair lying to the American public again and again.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): In essentially playing with the membership of our committee, in destroying some of the independence of the intelligence committee, in establishing a new select committee on the weaponization of the federal government, this Orwellian creation it's going to breed distrust in the intelligence community. They're not going to want to share information with Congress that we need to make to make decisions because they're not going to trust McCarthy or the people that he puts on these committees.


FOSTER: While Schiff went on to say that this really shows McCarthy is just catering to the most extreme elements in the Republican Party.

NOBILO: America's largest private employer, Walmart, is increasing its minimum wage from $12-$14 an hour. The retail giant has 1.7 million employees in the United States and about 94 percent of those retail and warehouse workers are paid hourly.

FOSTER: Competitors such as Amazon, Costco and Target have already raised their minimum wage recently. The federal minimum wage across the nation is just $7.25 an hour.

East Asia dealing with a powerful cold snap and the weather has forced cancellations of hundreds of flights in Japan impacting thousands of travelers.


NOBILO: But some better news for people stranded by snow in South Korea. Flights to and from Jeju Island have been allowed to resume. So, more freezing weather is expected. More than 25 inches of snow -- up to 70 centimeters -- could fall on Jeju throughout today. Nearly 36,000 people were stranded on Tuesday after almost 500 flights were canceled.

Meanwhile, China's northernmost city has recorded its coldest ever day. Meteorologists say temperatures dipped down to almost minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. That's about 53 degrees Celsius. This breaks the previous record set in 1969.

And a massive piece of iceberg roughly the size of greater London has broken off from Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf. This satellite image shows the part splitting away on Sunday.

FOSTER: Now the British Antarctic Survey says cracks have been naturally developing across the ice shell. For at least a decade there have been two major breaks in the last two years. They say that breaking is not a result of the climate change.

NOBILO: The British Antarctic Survey has been operating a research station there and scientists say that the station remains safe.

FOSTER: Still to come, remembering the victims of the California mass shootings. We'll hear more about them from their families and their friends.

NOBILO: And later what we're learning from an independent autopsy of a black man who died after a traffic stop in Tennessee.

FOSTER: Plus, a major breakthrough in Western military support for Ukraine. As we learn the U.S. and Germany appear poised to send tanks to the war zone.




GAVIN NEWSOM (D) CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Well, he's got to call some folks out. I'm still waiting for Kevin McCarthy, the leader of the House of Representatives, who purports to represent the people of the state of California, a proud and remarkable district in Kern County, we haven't heard one damn word from him. Not since Monterey Park, not what happened here, not one word. Where is the Republican Party been on gun safety reform? They blocked it every step of the way. One state can't do it alone. Shame on them.


NOBILO: That was California Governor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday sharing his frustration on the multiple shootings across California over the past few days. He says that Congress needs to help solve the issues at the root of gun violence but that U.S. Republicans are preventing that from happening.

FOSTER: Meanwhile, getting new details on the gunman responsible for killing seven people in Half Moon Bay on Monday. Police say he's set to appear in court for arraignment later today. The San Mateo County Sheriff confirmed the shooter killed five men and two women of Asian and Hispanic dissent as he moved from one site to another.

NOBILO: The gunman lived at the first farm where he opened fire according to a company spokesperson. He lived and worked at the first site since at least March of last year when it was sold to new owners. Police say that he was also accused of threatening to murder a former co-worker at a different job.

FOSTER: On Tuesday crowds gathered in Monterey Park to remember the 11 victims killed at a dance studio on Saturday. The names of all of the victims have been released by authorities and with those names have come stories of lives taken far too soon. CNN's Brian Todd reports.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In happier times, Mymy Nhan gets a dance lesson from instructor Maksym Kapitanchuk who shared this video with CNN. Nhan, 65 years old, identified as one of the 11 victims in the Monterey Park shooting. Her family said in a tweet, going to that dance studio was, quote, what she loved to do. Nhan is remembered by her family for what they called her contagious smile, her warmth. Kapitanchuk remembers her for that as well.

MAKSYM KAPITANCHUK, DANCE TEACHER: The first thing that comes to my mind is her smile. She would always smile. I don't even know -- I don't think I ever seen her without a smile. Even, you know, through the mask, I can see her eyes smiling. She'd been a delight of the class, any party, any class.

TODD (voice-over): The coroner's office in Monterey Park has now confirmed the names of all 11 victims. The U.S. congresswoman who represents this district, had been to this dance hall in the past and describes its patrons.

REP. JUDY CHU (D-CA): If you went in there, you would see usually older Americans, Asian American dancing. Really enjoying themselves. And, you know, some are such excellent dancers. They're really into it and love to go every day.

TODD (voice-over): One victim, Ming Wei Ma, 72 years old, is described as a dance instructor at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio who also may have helped manage the facility.

CNN affiliate KCAL interviewed Eric Chen, a friend of Ma's, who said witnesses described Ming Wei Ma confronting the shooter.

ERIC CHEN, FRIEND OF MONTEREY PARK SHOOTING VICTIM: He was the first to rush to try to stop the shooter. He was just caring and others for people first kind of person.

TODD (voice-over): Another friend of Ma's, Peter Phung, told CNN Ma invited him to sing at the club and said Ma was always giving others confidence.

PETER PHUNG, FRIEND OF MONTEREY PARK SHOOTING VICTIM: He is always happy. Hey, good to see you, and he make you feel good. For example, he always say, hey, you're a good singer, you know, come here and sing, you know. And people that want to dance. Hey, you're a good dancer. You could be better. You know, come here, come to my club. You know, we teach you, get you better.

TODD (voice-over): Valentino Alvero, known as Val, a 68-year-old hospitality worker, had according to his son planned to retire soon and return to his native Philippines. His son Anthony said his dad would spend his free time at the dance studio. That he remembers his father's singing and dancing around the house and being a great moan mentor.

ANTHONY ALVERO, FATHER KILLED IN MONTEREY PARK SHOOTING: The times he's taught me things, whether it would be from anything when he wanted to teach me with the stock market and things like that. Just when he was teaching me. Those moments come -- all those kinds of, again, teaching. And then the times he cared about people during family gatherings.

TODD: Anthony Alvero says he doesn't carry anger over his father's murder, because he says that won't change the outcome or add anything positive. He says he does hope that people take from this, the idea that you should cherish the people close to you because you never know whether that time with them could be cut short.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: Preliminary results from an independent autopsy are shedding light on the death of Tyre Nichols.


The 29-year-old black man died earlier this month following an encounter with police after a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. A lawyer for the Nichols family says that the autopsy pointed to him suffering extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating. Police have said that he was taken into custody following what they call, quote, confrontations. We'd like to warn you the image we're about to show you is graphic.

FOSTER: Nichols died in a local hospital three days after the traffic stop. Another attorney for the family says unreleased police body camera footage shows Nichols was, quote, defenseless the entire time. State and local officials are investigating actions of officers involved in the traffic stop. Five police officers and two members of the city's fire department have been fired in the wake of Tyre Nichols' death.

We are now learning that the U.S. is finalizing plans to send dozens of sophisticated tanks to the battlefield in Ukraine. U.S. officials say those plans involve about 30 Abrams tanks and an announcement could come as soon as this week.

NOBILO: Following that word, the German news outlet "Der Spiegel" reported that Berlin is set to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after six months of debate. All of this just days after Germany had indicated it wouldn't send tanks unless the U.S. agreed to send its own.

FOSTER: CNN's Salma Abdelaziz tracking developments joins us here in London. I mean, this is a big moment, isn't it? And some people say it could be a game changer. But we'll have to see how these tanks are used in the battlefield.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is absolutely a small milestone. Remember, throughout the conflict the West, the United States, it's Europeans allies have been trying to find a balance between how to support Ukraine, how to give it the weapons and the material support it needs to defend itself, to win back its territories but not give so much that it could widen, deepen the conflict.

Clearly those calculations are being made over the last few days in Berlin and in D.C. and we are starting to move towards those official announcements.

The United States, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter, are preparing to announce 30 Abrams tanks will be going to Ukraine. It's important to remember here, this is a long timeline. It takes months to train on them. You have to get them from the United States to the frontline. It's unclear when we'll actually see them on the battlefield.

And Germany now also easing its stance in the wake of this news and is preparing -- we understand according to the local paper "Der Spiegel" -- to make this announcement.

Now in a few hours there's going to be a debate in German Parliament about this. And we are expecting in the coming days for that to be official. But this is absolutely a major move for Europe and the Western allies and something that Russia has responded to.

I know we have a statement here from the Kremlin spokesperson. I want to pull that up with you.

With any advance -- sorry. I'm reading the wrong statement here. But we do have that statement.

Unfortunately more weapons from NATO bring more suffering for people in Ukraine. It also brings more attention to the continent. But it cannot prevent Russia from reaching our goals.

A clear statement there from Russia indicating what Berlin has been stating, right. What Berlin is concerned about. That this could escalate tensions. And it's also important to note, there is a difference between these two types of tanks. The Abrams tanks, the U.S. made, seen as more complicated. The Leopard Tank, the German made, seen as more practical. I want you to take a listen to what U.S. official John Kirby said about that.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: And with any advanced system you have to factor in things like supply chain and maintenance time. And whether -- you know, how often can you keep them operational? And how you use them effectively? And you know, should there -- whatever tanks that get provided to Ukraine, certainly that will have to be factored in, whether it's an American tank or anybody else's tank. All of them require unique maintenance and operational skills that the Ukrainians will just have to need to become adept at. And yes, that absolutely affects how much do you give? How fast do you give? And how -- and on what time frame the troops are trained on them and they're used in the actual battle.


ABDELAZIZ: So, you hear there there's going to be a lag between the U.S. announcing these tanks and them actually being on the ground, but for President Zelenskyy, for Ukraine, this is absolutely a win. They have been relying on these Soviet era tanks. They are dated. They are difficult to use. They are difficult to maintain. This will modernize what is an infantry war and give the ground troops what they think is a spearhead in the form of these tanks.

FOSTER: OK, Salma, thank you very much, indeed.

Still ahead, a Georgia prosecutor says decisions are imminent on charges against Donald Trump for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Plus, no love stories for Ticketmaster in Washington. Lawmakers grilled the company over Taylor Swift's tickets saying it's karma to cite the larger than life influence.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): You can't have too much consolidation. Something that unfortunately for this country as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say, we know all too well.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): Once again, she's chair captain and I'm on the bleachers.

A lot of people seem to think that's somehow a solution. I think it's a nightmare dressed like a daydream.