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Decisions Imminent on Charges for Trump on Georgia Election Probe; Ticketmaster Grilled Over Taylor Swift Concert Fiasco; Congressman Santos Makes More Questionable Claims; Chris Hipkins Sworn in as New Zealand's Prime Minister. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 04:30   ET




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.



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you are just joining us, let me bring you up to date with our top stories this hour.

A massive multi-state storm system rolling towards the eastern United States. Right now a tornado watch remains in effect for Florida.

And sources tell CNN that classified documents were found in former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home. Lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how they ended up out of secure sites.

A Georgia prosecutor says decision are imminent on whether to bring criminal charges in Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A judge is deciding whether to release the grand jury's report on their investigation. CNN's Sara Murray has the details.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're getting word that the conclusions of the special grand jury here in Georgia may have reached in their seventh month long investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election here. In court on Tuesday Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis argued against the public release of that report referring multiple times needing to preserve the right of future defendants. Suggesting the grand jury may have suggested multiple people face indictments. She also said charges in this case could be imminent. Take a listen.


FANI WILLIS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: At this time in the interests of justice and the rights of not the state but others, we are asking that the report not be released because you haven't seen that report. Decisions are imminent.

MURRAY: Now Willis said this grand jury heard from 75 witnesses. We know that includes people Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. We expect their final report to see some sort of summary of their investigation, as well as these recommendations for potential indictments. There was a media coalition that included CNN that made the argument in court for the full report to be released publicly. A judge said he's not going to make any rash decisions when it comes to that. So, it's still unclear when or if the public will see this full report.

Sara Murray, CNN, Atlanta.


FOSTER: The U.S. Justice Department and eight states sued Google on Tuesday accusing the tech juggernaut of harming competition with its dominance in online advertising. This is the Biden administration's first blockbuster antitrust case against the big tech company.


MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: For 15 years Google has pursued a course of anti-competitive conduct that has allowed it to halt the rise of rival technologies, manipulate, auction mechanics to insulate itself from competition and forced advertisers and publishers to use its tools.


FOSTER: Well, Google responded to the lawsuit in a statement saying: DOJ is doubling down on the flawed argument that would slow innovation, raise advertising fees and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow.

NOBILO: The president of Ticketmaster parent company endured hours of questioning by U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday. He was grilled on how the company fumbled the rollout of ticket sales for singer Taylor Swift's latest tour.

FOSTER: It's safe to say the fans had a bloodbath for the company after the fiasco prompting renewed discussion over Ticketmaster's influence on the industry. CNN's Matt Egan has more.


MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Max and Bianca, Live Nation got a good old- fashioned grilling in Washington and notably this was a bipartisan backlash against how big and powerful the parent company of Ticketmaster had become. This whole situation has already accomplished two big things. One, it has shined a bright light on what is normally an arcane issue. The idea some companies are just too dominant. Two, Live Nation has done the unthinkable, bridged the partisan divide in Washington. Listen to what Senator Richard Blumenthal said to the Live Nation executive.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Mr. Berchtold, I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement. You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause. Unfortunately, your approach today in this hearing is going to solidify that cooperation. Because as I hear and read what you have to say, it's basically -- it's not us. It's everyone but us. May I suggest respectfully that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, I'm the problem. It's me.

EGAN: If you're thinking that last line from Blumenthal sounded familiar, you're a right, it's from a Taylor Swift hit, "Anti-Hero."

Remember last November millions of swift fans had trouble buying tickets from Ticketmaster for her upcoming tour facing exorbitant prices -- that is if they could even get find tickets at all -- and the site repeatedly crashed. Now Live Nation tried its best to, as Taylor Swift would say, shake it off. The Live Nation president and CFO, he blamed the fiasco on Vox, run by scalpers. And for the first time he pointed the finger at cyber-attacks that flooded the system.

The Live Nation executive, he apologized and said the company learned some valuable lessons here. Now of course the question is what can be done? One idea that was floated during this hearing is that maybe the tickets could be made nontransferable to keep a lid on prices. Others say the real problem is competition or, rather, a lack of competition in this industry.

It's possible that today's hearing gives the Justice Department political cover to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation. Senator Blumenthal even suggested that one solution here is to have the DOJ unwind the controversial 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster that created this ticketing behemoth in the first place. Basically, undo the deal altogether. Effectively the DOJ would be saying -- and I can't resist one more Taylor Swift pun here -- the DOJ would be saying I knew you were trouble when you walked in -- Max and Bianca.


NOBILO: I'd like to personally apologize for the amount of Taylor Swift puns in our recent coverage.

And still ahead, George Santos says that he was mugged in New York City and survived an assassination attempt. We'll dig into the latest claims from the embattled Congressman.


FOSTER: Plus, New Zealand has a new Prime Minister vowing to fight inflation. You have a new Prime Minister. And many challenges ahead for Chris Hipkins.



SEN. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: You know why I'm standing by him? Because his constituents voted for him. I do not have the power simply because if I disagreed with somebody for what they have said that I remove them from elected office. Now I will hold him to the same standard I hold anyone else elected to Congress. If for some way when we go through ethics if he has broken the law, then we will remove him.


NOBILO: U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy talking about embattled Congressman George Santos amid even more questionable claims. New York Republican said he was mugged in Manhattan and that he survived an assassination attempt. CNN's Eva McKend is the reports.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you tell us if you lied on your financial disclosure report to Congress?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): Embattled Congressman George Santos back at work on Capitol Hill, dodging tough questions from reporters, as new revelations about public claims he's made continue to pile up.

The latest coming from a recently released interview with a Brazilian podcast that was taped in December, shortly after Santos won election in New York's third district. Santos claimed in the interview, done in Portuguese, that he was mugged on Fifth Avenue in New York City in the summer of 2021, and as he was walking out of a commercial building in broad daylight.

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY) (through translator): They robbed me, took my back, my shoes and watch.

MCKEND (voice-over): But a source with the New York Police Department tells CNN there is no record that Santos reported the alleged crime. The lack of a report doesn't mean the alleged incident didn't take place. But it draws further scrutiny of the claim made by Santos who has already admitted to lying about key parts of his biography.


Another claim Santos made in the interview that's raising eyebrows that he survived an assassination attempt.

SANTOS (through translator): We have suffered life attack, assassination attempt, threatening letter, having to have security guards and police escorts standing in front of our house.

MCKEND (voice-over): But Santos did not go in any further details or provide any other corroborating evidence.

In the same podcast, Santos suggested he was living comfortably, enough to make a pledge to donate his congressional salary to charity. He declined to answer questions about that vow on Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On a Brazilian podcast, you said you would donate your salary, do you still plan to do that?

MCKEND (voice-over): The 34-year-old did say he would cooperate with a potential upcoming House ethics investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you cooperate with an ethics investigation?

SANTOS: Absolutely.

MCKEND (voice-over): Santos wasn't among his colleagues at the new member reception this evening at the White House, though he was invited.

SANTOS: I just didn't have the time. It wasn't on my schedule. Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing instead?

SANTOS: Constituent services.

MCKEND (voice-over): Santos already facing questions about his future plans including whether he'll run for re-election.

REPORTER: Are you running for reelection?

SANTOS: Wow, it's so early for that question. I just got here guys.

MCKEND: And I asked Santos' congressional staff about the many claims he made in that podcast interview. Despite my best efforts, did not get a response. Meanwhile, the concerned citizens of New York 3 -- that's bipartisan group organized though by a Democrat -- they are continuing to turn up the heat now calling on Republican conference chair, Elise Stefanik, their fellow New Yorker, to use her leadership position in the GOP to push Santos out.

Eva McKend, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: New Zealand's new Prime Minister is promising to tackle inflation with elections on the horizon.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New Prime Minister Hipkins.


NOBILO: Chris Hipkins was sworn in earlier today in Wellington following his first cabinet meeting. And the 44-year-old received unanimous support from the ruling Labour Party to succeed Jacinda Ardern who resigned unexpectedly last week.

FOSTER: Mr. Hipkins had served in Ardern's cabinet as education minister and says he's enthusiastic to lead the country through the changes ahead.

NOBILO: For more on this, Anna Coren joins us from Hong Kong. Anna, some viewers might recognize Hipkins because he did serve as health minister and COVID response minister during the pandemic in New Zealand. He's obviously from the same party as Ardern. How much of a departure can we expect from the policy of the last few years?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he definitely is a household name, Bianca, because of the daily national addresses during the COVID pandemic. But he's being sworn in as the 41st Prime Minister. And he realizes that he needs to distance himself from Jacinda Ardern.

He's called this the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life. He promised to go back to basics, focus on the economy, those bread and butter issues addressing what he says is the pandemic of inflation which is hovering around 7 percent. In the end inflation, rising crime and inequality, the issue that New Zealanders are really concerned about, as to why Jacinda's popularity and the Labour Party's popularity has waned. They're trailing the Conservative National Party 32 to 37 percent in the polls. And then of course, that shock resignation last week by Jacinda Ardern citing that she was burnt out. That she had -- excuse me -- nothing left in the tank.

But political commentators say that she has -- if she had gone to the polls and had sought re-election for a third term, she would have lost. But before Hipkins was sworn this morning, Jacinda Ardern addressed the public for the last time as Prime Minister, saying that this was the greatest privilege of my life.

There is no doubt that this woman put New Zealand on the map. She was the youngest Prime Minister. She had a baby in office. Took her daughters to the U.N. General Assembly. And then of course, her handling of the terror attacks back in 2019 she did with grace, empathy and compassion. You know, she was a global icon. There is no doubt about it. An international star but, sadly, her style waned back home. Chris Hipkins has less than 9 months to turn around his party's fortunes.

NOBILO: Anna Coren in Hong Kong. Thank you.

FOSTER: Just ahead, NASA announces new tech that will help humans travel to Mars.



FOSTER: NASA has announced testing for a potential nuclear rocket engine to get to Mars. The first test of a complete rocket engine could take place by 2027 will the goal to quickly and safely get humans to the red planet. The engine would need a nuclear reactor to heat up propellant and give a rocket the boosted needed to get through space.

NOBILO: The project is a partnership with the research arm of the Pentagon and NASA has actually been thinking about it for decades. Research into these engines began back in 1959 but NASA says funding dried up by the 70s. You remember that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 90 seconds to midnight.


FOSTER: 10 seconds forward from 2022 to 90 seconds to midnight.

NOBILO: How depressing. That decision was based in part on Russia's war to Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation.

FOSTER: The breakdown of norms and institutions in reducing risks and biological threats like COVID also paid a factor. The clock was created to measure nuclear threats during the Cold War but beginning in 2007 climate change is included in the calculations. It is depressing.

The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards were revealed on Tuesday. Leading the pack with 11 nominations is the science fiction film "Everything Everywhere All At Once."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Across the multi-verse I've seen thousands ...


NOBILO: The film earned nominations for best pictures, actress in a leading role for Michelle Yeoh and two nods for actress in a supporting role for Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu. Also, for the best picture is James Cameron's "Avatar, The Way of Water."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's get it done.



FOSTER: The film is also in contention for production design, achievements in sound and visual effects as well as you can see.

NOBILO: That's "Naatu Naatu" from the Indian film "RRR." It's another original song nominee for the Indian film makers in the spotlight.

FOSTER: You should try it.

NOBILO: You and I do this dance?

FOSTER: Finish the showing in that doing that.

NOBILO: I'm wearing not the right footwear but --

FOSTER: What are you wearing?

NOBILO: Slippers and thermal socks.

FOSTER: Now you know. It's the first time a song from a fully Indian produced film has been considered for the category. Even Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has endorsed the movie which has already won a Golden Globe for best original song. The first ever for an Indian film. Bianca is already trying the moves.

Now Zoe Saldana has set a box office record with her latest role. She is now the first actress to appear in four films that have each grossed the $2 billion mark at the box office. Amazing.

NOBILO: And she achieved the distinction with her roles in the two Avatar movies. Plus, two part Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. And she's expected to be in the future Avatar sequels as well.

FOSTER: You want to be in the film with her. You know, she's obviously picking them right.

NOBILO: You do, absolutely.

And in our confectionary news segment it's being dubbed the most Oreo, Oreo. Made of two chocolate cookies on the outside but there's a twist.

FOSTER: Yes, there is. The cream in the center has bits of Oreo mixed in it. And Oreo within an Oreo. See what we did there?

NOBILO: Mind blowing stuff.

FOSTER: The company is partnering with Martha Stewart -- as you saw there -- launch a new cookie as well as a so-called Oreo-verse, which is Oreos entry into the meta-verse. Which is where we're going now to handing it over to "EARLY START."

NOBILO: We certainly are. See you tomorrow.