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Brady Retires Again; Biden and McCarthy Hold Critical Meeting; Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD) is Interviewed about the Debt Limit; Tyre Nichols' Funeral Held Today; JB Smiley Jr. is Interviewed about Nichols' Death. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: A very good Wednesday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto.


We are following several major stories for you this morning.

Soon, family members and the Memphis community will gather for Tyre Nichols' funeral to celebrate the life of the 29-year-old whose brutal death at the hands of police sparked protests across the nation. The families of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who have experienced similar losses, are expected to be there. And Vice President Kamala Harris will also attend after an invitation from Tyre Nichols' parents. We'll bring you the funeral live when it begins.

SCIUTTO: Right now, House Republicans say they're talking strategy ahead of President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's meeting over the debt ceiling this afternoon. Both sides are standing firm so far. Republicans threatening to bring the country closer to defaulting on its debt as they demand spending cuts. The White House vows there will be no negotiations when it comes to paying the nation's existing bills. President Biden's challenge to the GOP, tell the American people exactly what you want to cut.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you negotiate with McCarthy?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Show me his budget. Show me his budget.


SCIUTTO: Show me his budget, he says.

We do begin with breaking news in the sports world. Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady has announced he's retiring again. This time, however, he does say it's for good. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY, SEVEN-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I won't be long-winded. You only get one super emotional retirement essay, and I used mine up last year. So, I really thank you guys so much, to every single one of you, for supporting me. My family, my friends, my teammates, my competitors. I could go on forever. There's too many. Thank you, guys, for allowing me to live my absolute dream. I wouldn't change a thing. I love you all.


SCIUTTO: Heartfelt. Yes.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. In the last hour the man many consider to be the greatest football player of all time, let's just call him the GOAT, well, he said he's stepping away from the game after 23 seasons. This comes exactly one year to the day, Jim, I was with you that day -


GOLODRYGA: When he announced that he would retire for the first time.


GOLODRYGA: Only to unretire some 40 days later.

CNN's sports anchor Andy Scholes joins us now.

So, Andy, Brady's legacy truly is unmatched here.



GOLODRYGA: Seven championships. That's more than any one single team has, which is at six.



GOLODRYGA: He is still the greatest football player of all time. And though this may not come as a shock, like the first time that he announced his retirement, this still really did surprise many in the sports world.

SCHOLES: Oh, yes. Bianna and Jim, it's - and it's just such a sad day, right, because we -- as you mentioned, we've had Tom Brady in our football lives for 23 years. Think about how many football fans there are that don't even know the NFL without a Tom Brady in it. You know, he's been to ten Super Bowls. He won seven of them. Think about that. So, 43 percent of the time that Tom Brady played he ended up in the Super Bowl. It's just greatness that we've never seen. It will likely never be matched again. And even if you break up Brady's career by his 20s, 30s and 40s, he

won, you know, three Super Bowls in his 20s, and then he won two more in his 30s and then two more in his 40s. He always said he wanted to play until he was 45 years old. You know the saying in sports is, you know, there's no beating father time. Well, you know, in terms of beating him, I mean, Tom Brady came the closest. I mean he had the TB 12 method working all the way till the end. Still threw for a ton of yards even in his final season there with the Bucs. But, he owns so many records, guys. I mean it -- this is a career that we're never going to see again.

And you have to just go back to the way it started. Picked 199th overall in the 2000 draft in the sixth round. He came into the league as a true underdog, as a guy that wasn't expected to even make it, and he turned into the biggest champion we've ever seen.


SCHOLES: It's an incredible story. And like I said at the beginning, such a sad day that we're not going to have Tom Brady anymore.

SCIUTTO: Yes. I don't like to bring this up for Pats fans, but without the Giants he would have had two more Super Bowls. We'll set that aside for a moment.

Let me ask this because the last retirement didn't happen. Are we confident that this one's for real?


SCHOLES: Yes. If - you know, if you watched Tom Brady a lot this season, you could tell he -- it was a little different. At 45 years old, he maybe not want to be getting hit like he used to. And like -- he even said this time it's for good. And I'm going to take him at his word for that because, like I said, he always mentioned he wanted to play until he was 45. He got there. You know, he probably didn't go out the way he was hoping, a losing season, 8-9 record with the Bucs this year, even though they did make the playoffs. But, Jim, I would have a hard time him reversing this one because we've been through this before.



SCHOLES: I think it's like deja vu with us, right? Deja vu. We did this last year and now we're doing it again.


SCHOLES: I think that this time it's the final time.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. A mediocre season for Tom Brady, I mean.

SCHOLES: For Tom Brady, right? Yes. GOLODRYGA: But it's still surprising to see him, you know, passing

interceptions. But also you would see the players that caught those interceptions then come and have him sign the football for them.


GOLODRYGA: Just giving you a sense of where he stands in football, legend and history, a bittersweet day. And 45 years old, Jim. Forty- five years old.


GOLODRYGA: To have played the way he did.

Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: You got it.

GOLODRYGA: Well, now to the critical meeting this afternoon between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy over the debt ceiling.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill and CNN's MJ Lee is live from the White House.

Lauren, to you first.

What are you learning as McCarthy prepares for this very important and first face-to-face meeting with Biden with him as speaker?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a day that is heavy in messaging and in optics, but probably light in terms of resolution on this issue of the debt ceiling. And that, in part, is because we are still months away from the critical deadline. And up here on Capitol Hill, it usually takes several months, you have to inch really close to that deadline before there's a final resolution.

But what we know is that Kevin McCarthy has been doing extensive preparations in his - in his effort to prepare to sit down with Biden. And in those preparations he's been meeting and talking with key chairmen, including on ways and means and financial services, as well as talking with folks outside of The Hill. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He is expected to meet with his conference this morning to have a broader discussion about what they can expect and what they can really get out of these debt ceiling negotiations. But Kevin McCarthy said yesterday this was his goal of the meeting with the president.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House is saying they're going to want assurances the U.S. won't default on its debt. Is that something you feel like you could --

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, you know the best way they can do that is to say they're willing to negotiate, because the only irresponsible way is to play a political game and say we're not going to talk about it. It sounds pretty childish to me. It's irresponsible says the leader of the free world to say he's not

going to negotiate. I hope that's just his staff and not him.


FOX: And the goal for Republicans is really if they can come away from this discussion with any cracks in the foundation of the White House's message that they are not going to accept spending cuts as part of these debt ceiling negotiations.

Bianna and Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much, Lauren.

MJ, at the White House.

So, the White House doesn't call this a negotiation, they call it brinksmanship in effect here. What is their strategy?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it definitely might be too generous to call this meeting this afternoon a negotiation because the White House has been so consistent and emphatic in saying that when it comes to raising the debt ceiling there is not going to be a negotiation. That they will not be making any concessions.

Whereas McCarthy, and Lauren just laid out, is very much eager to negotiate. He has been fielding requests from members and there are members of his caucus who are pressing him to get these deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. So, needless to say, the two sides are pretty far apart as they go into this meeting. And the expectations are pretty low.

There was one interesting moment from last night when President Biden was at a fundraiser in Manhattan when he talked about Kevin McCarthy. And I just wanted to note that. He said that in order to become speaker, Kevin McCarthy had to get commitments from some of his colleagues that were just absolutely off the wall. Those were the president's words.

And then he turns to Chuck Schumer, who is the New York senator, and says, Chuck, I can't imagine you making one of those commitments. So, certainly seemed like a bit of a jab at McCarthy, where the president was sort of indicating that, yes, he is speaker, but he also realizes that politically he is a pretty compromised one and that his role is pretty diminished and that he is sort of very much beholden politically to many of these colleagues as they go into these negotiations, or talks, I should say.

I will just finally note, too, the issue, of course, is that they know they have until early June to get this sorted, and that is a long time in Washington.

SCIUTTO: MJ Lee, at the White House, thanks so much.

Joining me now, Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson of South Dakota.

Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, first on the budget demands of your party here.


What specific programs are you putting on the table to cut?

JOHNSON: Well, that's not how a negotiation works. In fact, the law says that the president needs to step forward with a budget first. His team is going to miss their February deadline. They say they're not even going to get that done until March.

So, here's what I think is step one. Today, we need to have the president and the speaker in the same room. that's going to happen. And we need to have President Biden agree that he will negotiate over the reckless spending that our country has been engaged in.

SCIUTTO: But as you know, the debt ceiling relates to budgets already passed by congresses, including with Republican votes. What are the positions -- because a negotiation, as you know, involves, if you want to call it that, involves two sides presenting their positions. Can you name a single program that Republicans would be willing to cut money from to make a deal?

JOHNSON: But see, I think that's ridiculously unfair. And here's why. The credit card bill comes to our family. We have maxed out our credit cards. Now, of course, listen, we are going to pay that credit card bill. We're legally obligated to do so. But rather than force all of the onus on the Republicans, which I know y'all love to do, what a responsible, reasonable and sensible family would do - is sit down together and start to talk through, how do we stop - how do we stop this spending.

SCIUTTO: Yes, I don't - by the way, I'm not - I'm not doing that, sir. I'm not putting all the onus on Republicans. That's the law. The law puts the onus on Congress, and the nation, to pay its bill. But, please, go ahead. Is there a program that you can name that you personally would be willing to see money cut from?

JOHNSON: Well, yes, there are lots of programs. But that - but the point is, I'm not going to negotiate against the Republican Party on CNN. The only thing that we're asking for today is for President Biden to be responsible, sensible and reasonable and being willing to come to the table and negotiate.

You know it's remarkable, MJ, your reporter, she's great. You know, she highlighted ho President Biden is spending his time taking jabs at Kevin McCarthy. How is Kevin McCarthy spending his time today? He's getting together with his Republican team to talk about, how do we try to bend these curves away from $32 trillion in debt.

SCIUTTO: The -- our Manu Raju is reporting that defense budget cuts are also on the table. Can you name a defense weapons system or program that you'd be willing to cut money from? JOHNSON: If we honestly think that out of $800 billion or $900 billion

in defense spending a year that there isn't anything that can be cut, I would just tell you, I think we've got to be willing to roll up our sleeves.

But I get what your goal is here today. Your goal is to try to get Republicans to negotiate against themselves and to try to identify programs --

SCIUTTO: No, my goal is to find out what your positions are. When you're going into a budget negotiation, presumably you have some programs in mind that you'd be willing to cut. So, I'm asking the questions, can you name a defense program you'd be willing to cut from?

JOHNSON: OK, but step -- step one is to actually have the president of the United States be willing to have this negotiation. I mean why in the world would Republicans -- when the president has the statutory obligation to bring his budget forward first, why would we bring forth all of these admittedly difficult to discuss cuts. Let the president off the hook. He has shown a total unwillingness to be the leader of the free world and engaging in these conversations.

SCIUTTO: Well, as you know, the debt ceiling - the debt ceiling is about budgets already passed. And I should note that when Republican presidents were in office, George W. Bush and Trump, Democrats did not push the country to the brink.

And, by the way, Republicans did not push their own Republican president to the brink on the debt ceiling, although I should note for our viewers you noted against raising the debt ceiling yourself. But the Republican leadership did not. Why that difference? Why push this president but not Trump?

JOHNSON: I love this revisionist history. Here are the facts for your viewers. After eight years of Republican control in the House, discretionary spending was lower at the end of that eight years than it was at the beginning. So, why didn't Republicans go to the brink? It was because they had Republican presidents who were willing to work with them on some of these much needed spending cuts, rather than a Joe Biden who says he refuses, he refuses to negotiate.


JOHNSON: Listen, if we're really going to get this done, it's not about CNN or Joe Biden putting all of the onus on Republicans to identify cuts. It will be two responsible men who should be the president of the United States and the speaker of the House sitting down to begin the negotiations rather than the onus all being on one party.

SCIUTTO: I'm asking the question because you represent the Republican Party. I've asked equal questions of Democratic lawmakers on this broadcast, which you're welcome to watch and I'll share with you afterwards.

I do want to ask you about your position since you're on the China Select Committee.


SCIUTTO: It's a story -- it's an issue that I follow quite closely.

Earlier this week we had an Air Force general, the commander of mobility command, say that he believes the U.S. will go to war with China in two years, in the year 2025. I know from speaking to military officials that's not the U.S. Defense Department assessment, but do you share that assessment that the U.S. and China are on the brink of a hot war within two years' time?


JOHNSON: I do not share that assessment, but I would tell you that lots of reasonable people are concerned about a kinetic engagement between China and the United States in the next few years. That's why our work on the China Select Committee is so important. And - but the three things that I think are most important, remember, number one, our work will be bipartisan. It has to be. Number two, the Chinese people are not our enemies. The Chinese Communist Party is our adversary. And, number three, our committee has to be - our work has to be wide-ranging because the threat of the CCP is so wide ranging. I don't share the assessment about an actual hot war, but we had better make sure that we're prepared to push back on Chinese aggression.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Dusty Johnson, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.

GOLODRYGA: Well, any moment now the vice president is expected to board a flight to Memphis to join the family and friends of Tyre Nichols for his funeral. I'll speak to a city councilman about how the community is coping and get his reaction to new revelations about the records of the fired police officers.

SCIUTTO: Plus, an ice storm knocking out power to more than 261,000 Texas homes, making roads there treacherous. We're going to take you live to the Dallas airport where there is a major impact today on flights.

And later, it is like finding an actual needle in an actual haystack. How officials tracked down a radioactive capsule, smaller than a dime, there it is there enlarged, that fell off the back of a truck, I mean, amid hundreds of miles of wilderness.



SCIUTTO: A day of mourning in Memphis, Tennessee, as the parents of Tyre Nichols prepare to lay their son to rest in just a few hours' time. Last night the Nichols family spoke from the historic Mason Temple pulpit where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "Mountaintop" speech just one day before he was assassinated. Nichols' brother urged those seeking justice to do so peacefully.


JAMAL DUPREE, TYRE NICHOLS' BROTHER: My brother was the most peaceful person you ever met in your life. The most - he's never lifted a finger to nobody. Never raised his voice to nobody. If my brother was here today and if he had to say something, he would tell us to do this peacefully.


GOLODRYGA: Vice President Kamala Harris is on her way to Memphis to attend the funeral. She spoke to Nichols' parents yesterday, offering the family her deep condolences.

And this morning, the city of Memphis says it plans to release even more video footage from the incident, as we're learning that some of the officers charged in Nichols' death had a history of reprimands and suspensions for violating department policy.

CNN's Ryan Young is in Memphis this morning.

Ryan, what is the latest, specifically about the timing of the funeral?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so much up in the air right now.


YOUNG: We are told that the funeral will start here 1:00 local, 2:00 Eastern. And the reason why, honestly, is just how bad the weather is. If we weren't covering this, we'd probably be talking about the winter storm that smacked this area. There is ice all over the trees, all over the streets here. It's not impassable, but it's very hard to get to several different locations throughout this area. So you can understand, with all the people who were expected to travel in for this funeral, they have to wade through this. And the people who are showing up right now, a lot of them did not know that this funeral has been delayed.

When you think about what the focus should be, look, we've been talking about this investigation for several days. But you understand the focus here today will be about this young man who lost his life and all the people who were involved in a struggle who want to see change.

In fact, take a listen to one of the moms who says she wants to see something really happen moving forward.


MARION GRAY-HOPKINS, SON KILLED BY PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY POLICE OFFICER IN 1999: This is a national crises that need to be addressed if we are to stop this killing. We're tired of just hashtags. We're tired of just justice for this loved one, justice for that loved one. But we're asking that - or we are demand that change be made at a national level if we're going to stop this heinous killing and this egregious killings of our loved ones.


YOUNG: Yes, for a few days we've been showing the images of Tyre in the hospital, we've shown that video, the terrible video of him being beaten by the officers. But I want to show you him skateboarding because this is when he was full of life. And I think that's what the family is going to focus a little bit on today, this -- this joyful young man who had his life taken. And so many people want to know why. And, of course, we'll get into that investigation as the days come and we learn more information.

But today the focus on this funeral is supposed to be on that young man who loved skateboarding and, of course, his brother said was so peaceful.


SCIUTTO: Ryan, I'm so glad you showed that. I mean to see him - by the way, he turned some pretty good tricks there. We appreciate it.

YOUNG: He did.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, the focus is on him, the focus is on his family as well today on this very, very painful day there for the community.

I'm joined now by Memphis city council vice chairman JB Smiley Jr.

Councilman, thank you so much for joining us.

First of all, how is the community doing this morning?

JB SMILEY JR., VICE CHAIR, MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL: They're grieving. In addition to grieving, a lot of folks are still angry. Although the weather may be bad, there's folks out still protesting. There is a -- what they call a day of action aimed toward the federal building because they want to see charges brought from the federal level as well. So they're angry, some are grieving, but they're focused on what they believe to be reform that should be coming.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, listen, the whole country is there with you grieving in spirit.

Do you have any update on the other officers who were relieved of duty, and have you been kept informed about where the investigation stands right now?

SMILEY: Well, the city's administration, that's the mayor and his team, they've been pretty tight-lipped as it relates to any investigation that is going forward.


What we've done on the Memphis City Council is listen to the concerns of the community and doing everything we can to hold the administration's feet to the fire to fire officers who were involved, but also the district attorney, which is to bring charges related to everyone who should face criminal culpability.

GOLODRYGA: Well, there has been some disturbing new information that has come to light about the history of some of these officers now that have been charged with second-degree murder. And they had a history of violations with that police department. Let's just go through some of them that's really stood out to us here.

Demetrius Haley was reprimanded after a suspect he helped detain suffered a dislocated shoulder. Desmond Mills Jr. was reprimanded for not documenting that he used physical force during an arrest, but that was sustained after a hearing.

What do you make of this now in the context of what has happened with Tyre? Do you think that these charges and these violations actually should have been taken more seriously?

SMILEY: Absolutely. I think it's a situation where the police department has essentially been neglectful, dereliction of duty, to supervise and oversee any officers related to this particular incident. But also I think the council has to take a more active role in reviewing body cam footage. That's why I'm proposing at the next council meeting an ordinance so that the Memphis City Council would have the authority and to receive body cam footage whenever there is an allegation of excess force. We will take a look at that body cam footage and make an independent review of it ourselves and ultimately put pressure on the Memphis Police Department to bring about change.

GOLODRYGA: Let me ask you about the discrepancy that we have seen now from the initial police report and the video subsequently that have been released. What questions does that raise in your mind, not only about that initial report, but perhaps other instances in the past that maybe now needed to be revisited?

SMILEY: Well, for me, I think it calls into question almost every report we've seen in quite some time.


SMILEY: Whether every report has been adopted to fit some narrative that essentially is untrue. I do believe in this case, if there was not a sky cop cam, I don't believe we would be here, because if you look -- pay particular attention to the Tyre Nichols' body cam footage, the officers were covering their cameras, turning their cameras off, essentially never turning their cameras on. But without that sky cop cam, we would be having a different conversation. We will probably be accepting the police narrative as true. So, I think we have to do a better job of watching the watchers, so to speak.

GOLODRYGA: And let me finally ask you about Police Chief Davis, who received a lot of praise about how she handled the early days of this crisis and being transparent about not only firing these officers, but also in her description of what she saw on those tapes. That having been said, do you think that she still now should hold the position? Does she have the support of the public? Does she have the support of the council to continue to be police chief there of the city? SMILEY: I believe it's changing every single day. What I tell people

is this, if we watch the videos that Chief Davis, when she speaks on the incident, I think she's done a better job than any other police chief when it comes to just - you can sense the sincerity in her voice. But when it comes to where we are now, I think she has a very direct duty to make culture changing decisions. The clock is ticking. The clock is ticking. We are having a mayoral election this upcoming year. And the number one question posed to every mayoral candidate is, what will happen with Chief Davis in your administration? And for a lot of them, and I've talked to them, I think the answer is, we would go a different direction.

GOLODRYGA: Well, Councilman JB Smiley Jr., obviously the investigation will continue and we'll continue to cover it, but today is for remembering Tyre's legacy and, obviously, being there and comforting his family and the community. We'll be thinking of you today. Thank you so much for joining us.

SMILEY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, just moments ago, the college board released its new framework for an AP African American studies course. A class that Florida's governor banned from being taught in his state. We want to dig into whether there are any changes from the board's plans.