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CNN This Morning

Republican McCarthy Wins House Speaker On 15th Ballot; Damar Hamlin Has Breathing Tube Removed, Speaks To Bills Players After Cardiac Arrest; Affidavit Sheds New Light On The Murder Of Idaho Students College Students; Police Investigation Underway After A Six- Year-Old Shot His Teacher At Newport News Virginia; Phoenix Police Search For Suspect In Officer-Involved Shooting; FDA Grants Accelerated Approval For New Alzheimer's Drug. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 07, 2023 - 06:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to CNN this Morning. I'm Amara Walker.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Alex Marquardt in this morning for Boris Sanchez. After days of drama and 15 rounds of voting thus, the House of Representatives finally elects a speaker. How Kevin McCarthy clinched the votes and the next big order of business.

WALKER: And remarkable progress for Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin, an update on his condition and the moment he FaceTimed his teammates from his hospital bed.

MARQUARDT: And new details in the horrific murder of four Idaho college students. What we're learning from a recently released affidavit and the father of one of the victims tells CNN why he believes the group was targeted.

WALKER: Plus, the FDA grants approval for a new Alzheimer's drug. The reported benefits and the concerns, coming up on CNN this morning.

MARQUARDT: It is Saturday, January 7. Thank you so much for waking up with us. Amara, thank you so much for having me back.

WALKER: Alex, it's great to be with you. And look, we're actually matching, so we're in lockstep together. Good to be with you, Alex. Happy New Year.

MARQUARDT: And to you.

WALKER: Thank you so much. I mean, who needs reality TV when you have CSPAN, right, and of course, CNN. After days of deadlock 15 ballots and a lot of deal making, Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy is finally sworn in as House Speaker of the 118th Congress.

MARQUARDT: Kevin McCarthy securing enough votes to become speaker early this morning, late last night, however you see it, as the last lawmaker cast his vote, the chamber erupting in applause.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next Speaker United States of Representative, Kevin McCarthy.


WALKER: After the dramatic fight against conservatives in his own party, McCarthy says it's time now to focus on what's best for the country.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): And now the hard work begins. What we do here today, next week, next month, next year will set the tone for everything that follows. As speaker of the House, my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility, our responsibility is to our country.


MARQUARDT: Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She compared the chaos surrounding McCarthy's rise to the speakership to the Democrats unity.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): What I hope most Americans will take away from this marathon of over five days of unceasing voting, massive chaos and confusion, almost fist fights on the floor was that the Democrats and the leadership of Hakeem Jeffries remain solidly, solid, 212 votes every single time. And we have progressives and moderates and blue dogs and people from all places around the country, obviously.


WALKER: So who flipped? What concessions did Speaker McCarthy make, and what are the implications of that? Also what happens next?

MARQUARDT: Senior Washington correspondent Sunlen Serfaty joining us now from Capitol Hill. Sunlen, as we just heard there, this was a four, even five day into this morning historic, but really brutal slog for Kevin McCarthy. How did you finally get across the finish line?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning to you, Alex. Historic, brutal, chaotic, dramatic, all of those words that describe what happened over the course of this week and unfolded over the course of last night and early into this morning. As you noted, 15 rounds in the end of voting to get Kevin McCarthy over the finish line. He reached the magic number that he needed at that vote round, 216 votes. Now, how he got there was he was able in the end to convince those conservative holdouts who had been holding out and voting against him for 14 rounds previously. He convinced them to change their vote to present in the end. You're seeing all of those six holdouts now, including, notably, Matt Gaetz. He was cheap (ph) among the foes of Kevin McCarthy this whole speaker battle.


He switched at the last minute his vote to present on the 15 round that really solidified and cast the deciding vote for McCarthy. McCarthy spoke to him personally on the floor between round 14 and 15 of voting. That seemed to work. Here's what McCarthy said on how he was able to get Matt Gaetz in the end on his aside.


MCCARTHY: Now, what happened was it became a tie. And I really think Matt had talked to me before. Matt really wanted to get everybody there. And so look through all of this, people's emotions go up and down, and at the end of the night, Matt got everybody there from the point that nobody voted against the other way. So it actually helped unite people.


SERFATY: Now, we certainly saw over the course of this week, and especially in the very wee hours of this morning, real time arm twisting and negotiating going on, we saw those cameras fixated to so many members out on the floor talking and negotiating. And we know that there were significant and many concessions made over the course of these negotiations.

Among them, one vote needed to oust the speaker McCarthy. McCarthy Alliance Super PAC agreed to not play an open safe seat primaries, that's significant. 72 hours to review bills before they are brought to the floor. That's something that the House Freedom Caucus pushed for and including more House Freedom Caucus members seats on the important Rules Committee.

Now, all of these concessions are something that they worked on over the course of the week and at the end got there. McCarthy, as you said, taking the Speaker's gavel shortly after 1:00 a.m. and all other members sworn in. Him saying now, notably now, it's not how you finish. Excuse me. It's not how you start, but it's how you finish.

WALKER: Sunlen, I mean, to speak to the fact that there was so much drama on that floor that the public rarely gets a window into so many rare scenes as well. But there was also a really tense moment between Congressman Matt Gaetz and Congressman Mike Rogers. What was going on there?

SERFATY: Yes, that's a great question. It certainly was one of the more notable moments that everyone will remember from the Speaker's battle. This is something that we typically do not see on the House floor, but we're able to watch it in real time. This was between the 14th and 15th round of voting.

And there you see a little scuffle on the House floor where you have Mike Rogers and Matt Gaetz really getting into it. Rogers kind of lunged at Matt Gates. He actually had to be restrained by another freshman congressman. Congressman Hudson had to hold him back. He even admitted it was a tense moment. He just did what he could in the moment to break it apart.

Of course, that was the moment that Gaetz had not voted present in a sense, to give his support to McCarthy for the speakership. So, again, this is something we rarely see on the House floor, just underscore or underscoring the emotions and the tense moments every hour of this morning.

WALKER: Yes. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much for joining us this morning. Joining me now to talk more about all that unfolded, CNN political commentator, political anchor for Spectrum News, and host of the You Decide podcast, Errol Louis.

Good morning to you and thank you, I guess, for staying up all night. I'm assuming that was the case for a lot of you. Is this really a win for Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Party or one for Matt Gaetz, who said he and his right wing allies literally ran out of demands? They got what they wanted. Exactly what they wanted.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the answer, Amara, is yes to both. The Republicans finally made their majority real because without being able to vote as a majority, it didn't matter that they had more members. So they got that accomplished McCarthy as the speaker of the House. They got the House organized. They're going to have the committees and on and on.

At the same time, what Gaetz and company got was every single thing that they asked for, including the ability to plunge the speakership into chaos in the future if any one of them should decide to do so. Now, is it going to really work out that way? We certainly should hope not. I think we got a taste of what it's like when nobody's in charge in Congress.

But this motion to vacate, this ability to challenge the speakership and put it to a vote is going to be something that this caucus, this faction, reserves the right to do at any point in the future and that does not spell a smooth sailing for the Kevin McCarthy speakership.

WALKER: Yes, that's a key concession, right? One vote. Only one vote needed to oust the speaker. I want you, Errol, to listen to how McCarthy framed the chaotic impasse over the last several days.


MCCARTHY: Don't judge us on how we start. Watch how we finish.


And I think by having the disruption now, really built the trust with one another and learned how to work together. What we're going to have to find in our mindset is that we have to front load that we have to think about and work on the bills with a microcosm of the conference before we even start writing it. And that's really what we learned here.


WALKER: So they learn to build trust and learn to work together. I mean, we'll we really see I know this is something you just mentioned, will we really see, you believe, Republicans working together, especially with the slim majority, and of course, the ability of the fringe right to hold the Republican Party hostage on virtually any bill? Or is this just a foreshadowing of what's to come over the next two years?

LOUIS: Yes, I took a different lesson from all of this. What Kevin McCarthy is describing in that clip is what they call in the textbooks anticipatory obedience, meaning he's suggesting rather than get into this kind of big, ugly fight, let's just give this faction everything they want right up front so that we don't go through this again and again.

I think what he's missing, however, is that the chaos was a big part of the product. They wanted this to go round after round. They staged one humiliation after another, not because they wanted more seats or different rules changes. They got those fairly early on. A lot of this was personal. A lot of this was about wielding power. A lot of this was about showing everybody who's in charge there. And they certainly made that point.

I don't know if McCarthy realizes that he's not going to have nearly as much control as he would like. There'll be a chance to do a lot of symbolic legislating, but actually passing laws, it's going to be much, much harder than I think anybody could have anticipated before we had this instruction from this action about how far they're willing to go to stop the government from operating again not for, again, not for any particular reason but just to show that they can to that.

WALKER: To that point on how much control he might have then how weak of a speaker will he be? And can you talk about the implications of, you know, one of those concessions that he made about, you know, making it easier to oust a mad speaker?

LOUIS: Yes, you know, listen, one of the big things that we learned here was that when the speakership is not settled, almost nothing can happen. I mean, one reason we saw all of those scenes on the floor is that normally the speaker directs what CSPAN can and cannot carry on its cameras. That's why normally you just see the well of the House and the Rostrum.

But in this case, we could see all kinds of things, people getting together on what really goes on there. So we know now what a disorganized House looks like, the ability to go back to that stage over and over again. I mean, look, several speakers before him, Republican speakers have given up because this same kind of infighting just wore them down and made it not worth holding the job for them. Kevin McCarthy is going to have to ask himself on many days, hopefully not every day, whether he really wants to fight with these folks every day or give them yet another concession on every single piece of legislation. : WALKER: Quickly, we have 30 seconds. We saw that image of MTG with her

phone out and it said DT looked like she had Donald Trump on the phone. What does it say about his influence or lack thereof?

LOUIS: You know, he called for this to be done many, many rounds ago, and it didn't happen. It signals to me, among other things, that while he is very popular within the party and within the base, these members of Congress are not dancing to the tune of Donald Trump by any means. He wanted this done several days ago, many rounds ago, and it just didn't happen.

WALKER: Errol Louis, appreciate you. Thank you so much.

LOUIS: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And just four days after suffering cardiac arrest on the field, Buffalo Bill's safety Damar Hamlin has had his breathing tube removed. What's more, the 24-year-old safety surprised his teammates in Buffalo yesterday. He called them on FaceTime from the hospital in Cincinnati. He was laughing. He was smiling. He even gave them a pep talk. CNN's Andy Scholes joins me now. Andy, what kind of impact did that have on the team hearing from him?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Alex, as you imagine, just a massive impact. You know, the players say hearing from him just meant everything just four days after going into cardiac arrest during Monday night Football, you know, Damar Hamlin, he's awake now. He's talking to his family, friends, and as we just told you, he called his teammates on FaceTime.

He remains in critical condition, but his doctors say removing the breathing tube and breathing on his own, it's a big step towards Hamlin being able to go home. And it's been such a tough week for the Bills as they get ready to play on Sunday against the Patriots. But getting a video call and hearing Hamlin say, love you guys, just meant the world to them.


SEAN MCDERMOTT, BUFFALO BILLS HEAD COACH: The thing that makes me laugh is he did this to the guys there right away.


He flexed on him, I guess, and he's just got some staple things that they know him for and that he does. He made the heart symbol probably more than anything. And then he gave him a thumbs up.

DION DAWKINS, BUFFALO BILLS OFFENSIVE LINEMAN: To see that boy space, to see him smile, see him go like this in the camera, it was everything. So -- and then to hear him talk to us, it was literally everything. And that's what we needed. Literally that's all we needed. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Now Hamlin's doctors say his amazing recovery is the result of the incredible work from the first responders. Assistant trainer Denny Kellington is being called a true hero by head coach Sean McDermott and players on the team for taking charge there on the field and administering CPR to Hamlin and Bill's GM Brandon Beane says Kellington and many others deserve so much recognition.


BRANDON BEANE, BUFFALO BILLS GENERAL MANAGER: A lot of heroes, you know, we look at sports and, you know, we all have heroes on the field, but there's so many people that save this young man's life. If any of these people, you're in Cincinnati, take care of them and thank them. They are heroes.

MCDERMOTT: They've just been incredible. Obviously, the doctors that I mentioned yesterday out there, the staff, it was funny. I was driving to work this morning, I'm listening to XM Radio, and I've got a country station on highway. It's called Highway Country or something like that. And who are they talking about but Denny Kellington, the assistant trainer from the Buffalo Bills. I got to imagine that's a national station. So, I shared that with Denny this morning, and he got a good kick out of that.


SCHOLES: Yes. And many fans hoping that Kellington and others get recognized on the field before Sunday's game. Now the players around the league will have the option to wear this Nike shirt that says Love for Damar with his number three in warm ups today and tomorrow. Players in Buffalo are going to have a special number three patch on their jerseys. And teams around the league are going to have outlined the number three at the 30-yard line and build colors to show support for Damar. And lots of players also plan on wearing Hamlin's jersey to the game, Alex, and as you can imagine, just going to be an emotional weekend in the NFL, especially there in Buffalo.

MARQUARDT: Yes, it's going to be a really poignant moment when those two teams take the field. A lot of thoughts going out to Hamlin, certainly. Andy Scholes, thank you so much for that report. Really appreciate it.

And still ahead, the red hot economy carrying on into this new year. What this first jobs report is telling us about the economy and the Fed's recent rate hikes.

WALKER: Plus, shocking new details about the murder of those Idaho college students. What we're learning from a recently released affidavit and why one of the victim's fathers believes the group was targeted. Plus, a six-year-old boy, six years old shoots his teacher at school. What we know and the condition of the teacher.



WALKER: So the U.S. economy just capped off a banner year for job growth, according to the final report from 2022.

MARQUARDT: Yes, there were far more jobs added in December than experts were expecting, and the unemployment rate fell back to a record low. Here CNN's Christine Romans with the story behind the numbers.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): 2022 was another very strong year for the jobs market, the second strongest in history. In fact, 223,000 jobs added in December. It capped a year in which a very tight labor market seemed impervious to historic interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve. The jobless rate ending the year matching a 50-year low of three and a half percent for the year, a remarkable four and a half million jobs. Four and a half million jobs were added in the year after 6.7 million were added in 2021.

But wage growth, while strong, slowed, and December's jobs gains were the slowest in two years. Evidence, perhaps, that the fed's medicine is beginning to work. Looking ahead, more inflation gut check numbers are out this week. Consumer credit data, the consumer price index and jobless claims numbers all due out.


WALKER: All right. Christine Romans, thank you. Compelling information from police and a crucial witness is revealing new details about the savage murder of four university students. Yesterday, we saw furniture from the crime scene in Moscow, Idaho, being loaded onto trucks and then taken away.

MARQUARDT: In a moment, you will hear from the father of one of the victims who believes that his daughter was being stalked by her killer. But first, CNN's Gary Tuchman is on the scene for us as investigators try to work out exactly what happened inside that building and what the suspect's motive was.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): In the probable cause affidavit, a Moscow, Idaho police corporal says, after finding the victims who were killed, I noticed what appeared to be a tan leather knife sheath laying on the bed. The Idaho State Lab later located a single source of male DNA left on the button snap of the knife sheath. Police say the DNA is suspect Bryan Kohberger's.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This is the house where the college students were killed. According to the affidavit, when police arrived, they went through that door where the Christmas wreath is. On the second floor to the right of the door is the bedroom where Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were killed. Also on the second floor to the left in the back of the house, according to the affidavit, that's where the witness D.M. was. And finally, on the third floor, you see that window right there? According to the affidavit, that's where Kaylee Goncalves and Madison Mogen were. And that's where the knife sheath was found.

TUCHMAN (voiceover): Based on the affidavit, it appears Bryan Kohberger has been near this house many times before. The affidavit indicating Kohberger's cell phone signal was detected 12 times near the house over a period of five months prior to the murders. All of these occasions, except for one, occurred in the late evening and early morning hours of their respective days.


TUCHMAN (on camera): It wouldn't necessarily be suspicious if Bryan Kohlberger drove past this house 12 times over five months, if these were busy or prominent streets or streets on the way to another neighborhood. But to come here, you have to be looking for it. These roads are windy, they're narrow, they're curvy.

TUCHMAN (voiceover): In short, it seems difficult to accidentally end up here. The affidavit states that one of the students who survived with the initials D.M. heard crying and opened her door three times. She saw a figure clad in black clothing and a mask that covered the person's mouth and nose, walking towards her. D.M. described the figure as 5'10" or taller, male, not very muscular, but athletically built, with bushy eyebrows. The male walked past D.M. as she stood in a frozen shock phase. The male walked towards the back sliding glass door.

D.M. locked herself in her room after seeing the mail. D.M. did not state that she recognized the male. This turned out to be critical information because on November 25, shortly after the murders, Moscow police asked law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for a white Hyundai Elantra that had been seen near the murder site.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Four days later, police discovered a white Elantra in this parking lot just across the state line in Pullman, Washington. According to the affidavit, it was registered to Kohberger, who lived up the stairs in this townhouse complex. Police acquired his driver's license information, and they say, according to the affidavit, that it was consistent with DM's description of the man she saw, who was wearing black clothing and a mask.

TUCHMAN (voiceover): The affidavit does not contain information about motive or if the alleged killer knew any of the victims, but authorities could very well have leads about those topics that are not being publicly released yet.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Next Thursday, in his courthouse behind me, Bryan Kohberger will have another hearing. This will be a status hearing to discuss scheduling in the case. Within the next couple of weeks, he will be arraigned where he'll likely issue a plea. Gary Tuchman, CNN in Moscow, Idaho.


WALKER: Just heart stopping details there. Steve Goncalves, whose 21- year-old daughter Kaylee was killed in that attack, spoke to CNN this week. He was there when the suspect made his first appearance in court, and he says the suspect wouldn't look him in the eye, but he's confident that he will eventually be forced to, quote, deal with the effects of the aftermath.


STEVE GONCALVES, KAYLEE GONCALVES' FATHER: You read the affidavit and you just find out that nobody understands exactly why, but he was stalking them, he was hunting them. It was just a person looking for an opportunity, and it just happened to be in that house, and that's hard to take.

She had her phone right next to her, and she couldn't call 911. So, these were just girls that went to sleep that night and a coward, you know, hunter that went out and he picked his little opponent that was girls. And that's probably why the house was targeted.


MARQUARDT: So difficult to hear. Now Kohberger faces four counts of first degree murder as well as a felony burglary charge. You can stay across all the latest developments in the case at

Now, a major milestone in the fight against Alzheimer's. A look at the new drug getting fast tracked by the FDA. That's coming up next. Stay with us.



ALEX MARQUARDT, CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY WEEKEND: Heartbreaking and really just stunning news out of Virginia this morning. Police are investigating an incident at an elementary school in Newport News, Virginia, after a 6-year-old boy shot a female teacher in a classroom yesterday.

WALKER: How does that even happen? According to authorities, a student and teacher were in an altercation when the 6-year-old who had the gun fired a single round hitting her. They say this was not an accidental shooting.

The teacher was immediately rushed to the hospital with life- threatening injuries, but officials say she has improved since she was admitted. The student is currently in custody where police say he will get the help he needs.

And a manhunt is underway in Phoenix, Arizona, for a man who opened fire on a Scottsdale police detective last night. Police say detectives were trying to execute a search warrant on his apartment when he went into another room and began firing at the detectives through the wall. One of the detectives was shot, then rushed to a local hospital.

Police say he's expected to survive his injuries. Authorities say the suspect, who's not been identified, is wanted for a number of criminal offenses and should be considered armed and dangerous. Just yesterday, the FDA granted accelerated approval for a new Alzheimer's drug called Lecanemab.

MARQUARDT: Hard to pronounce. But it is one of the first --


WALKER: Try it. Try it.

MARQUARDT: We'll get there.


MARQUARDT: Give a couple hours to nail it down. It is one of the first experimental dementia drugs to appear to slow the progression of cognitive decline, and it is giving new hope to those who are struggling with the debilitating disease. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has more on this incredible discovery.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first, the signs can be subtle, missing your exit on the freeway, forgetting what you needed at the grocery store, misplacing your keys.

JACK DRISCOLL, ALZHEIMER'S PATIENT: I look at my phone and read the names and a lot of them don't mean anything to me.

GUPTA: Your life marches on independently, but the markers of memory slowly, surely begin to fade.

DRISCOLL: It's crazy.

GUPTA: That's what early Alzheimer's feels like. When 80-year-old Jack Driscoll got his own Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2019, he was doing OK, but he worried what his future would eventually have in store.

DRISCOLL: I talked to my wife and I talked to my kids and let them know that maybe down the road, I wasn't going to be the same as I was then.


GUPTA: So in 2021, Jack enrolled in a clinical trial for an experimental drug called Lecanemab just approved by the FDA, this drug is showing it can potentially postpone the fate of those with early Alzheimer's. In part, by removing amyloid plaques from the brain.

RICHARD ISAACSON, NEUROLOGIST: We're finding that this specific type of amyloid when removed actually associates or correlates with a slowing of cognitive decline. GUPTA: Most importantly, clinical trials of the drug found that it

slowed cognitive decline in people with early Alzheimer's by 27 percent. What does that mean? According to models by the drug maker, someone who is 80 like Jack, could experience a two to-three-year delay in progression to worsening at his Alzheimer's disease.

ISAACSON: We've been targeting Alzheimer's disease at the end stage when people have dementia where they can no longer take care of themselves and the pathology and the plagues and the tingles have built up, and by that time, there's not as much we can do.

GUPTA: But nothing comes without risks. And the ones that come with this type of drug have raised red flags.

SHARON COHEN, BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGIST, TORONTO MEMORY PROGRAM: We have known for many years that with almost all of the drugs in this class, there can be a side effect of ARIA.

GUPTA: Dr. Sharon Cohen has been studying Alzheimer's drugs for 30 years, and was part of the clinical trial for Lecanemab. What she is talking about, ARIA, amyloid related imaging abnormality. It can look like this or this. It's brain swelling or brain bleeding. Though Cohen says these types of side effects were mostly mild in the trial.

COHEN: We do know that Lecanemab has a low rate of causing macro hemorrhage, not necessarily fatal, but a low rate, less than 1 percent.

GUPTA: In the phase 3 clinical trial, there were seven deaths in the placebo group and six deaths in the Lecanemab group. According to the investigators though, none of the deaths were considered to be due to Lecanemab or ARIA. The "New England Journal of Medicine" recently published details of an additional death of a patient on the drug who had been given blood thinners, raising additional concerns.

COHEN: It's pretty hard to just say Lecanemab caused that when you're given a drug that itself can cause significant bleeding. However, the combination gives us pause.

GUPTA: Neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson agrees that while this drug shows promise, it must come with caution. For example, avoiding blood thinners while taking the medication.

ISAACSON: I will prescribe this drug in the right person at the right dose and in a very carefully-monitored way, but this drug is not for everyone.

GUPTA: For Jack, the possibility of continuing to live a full life, spending quality time with all four children and all nine grandchildren, even for just a while longer, well, that is worth the risk.

DRISCOLL: As far as I am concerned, we're having a great life right now, and things are good and my wife is a wonderful caretaker, so we get it with each other and we know what we're living on.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


MARQUARDT: Our thanks to Sanjay Gupta for that report. The U.S. is sending a huge new military aid package to Ukraine, and for the first time, it will include armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles. What this means for the fight against Russia. That's next.



MARQUARDT: The fighting in Ukraine continues after Ukraine rejected Vladimir Putin's call for a temporary ceasefire for Russian Orthodox Christmas which is celebrated today. There were new attacks in the Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk regions after the Russian president said that he would pause fighting on Friday into Saturday to allow Orthodox Christians to attend Christmas services.

Now, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he called the proposal a quote, "manipulation", as he met with two U.S. senators in Kyiv. He said that Moscow wants to use Christmas as a cover to pause advances by Ukrainian troops and bring in more men and equipment for the Russian side.

Joining us now to discuss this is retired Army Major General James Spider Marks, he is a CNN military analyst and head of Geopolitical Strategy at Academy Securities. General Marks, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I want to start with that proposed 36-hour Christmas ceasefire, that proposal made by Russia, of course.

Do you agree with Ukrainian and western officials that called this a ploy, a PR stunt, and a tactical move by the Russian president?

JAMES SPIDER MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I do, Alex. I mean, let's be frank. It's very easy to be cynical about what Putin says and then what Putin is going to do. But what's interesting is that, in the history of warfare, it's not unusual to have these Christmas temporary ceasefires giving both sides an opportunity to rest.

But really during this period, as you can rest, you can refit, you can reposition which is clearly what the Russians are doing right now. So it's an honest assessment to be a tad cynical about what Putin said he wanted to try to achieve with this temporary ceasefire.

MARQUARDT: Yes, rest but certainly benefit the Russians who have been on their heels for quite some time now. General, I want to ask you about this huge new aid package, almost $3 billion in direct aid to the Ukrainian military. And it now includes for the first time the 50 armored combat vehicles known as Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

These are not quite tanks which of course, Ukrainians have been asking for, for a long time. But how do you expect that these Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the other armored vehicles that other allies are sending to Ukraine. How is that going to impact the fight? [06:45:00]

MARKS: Well, it's quite a significant enhancement in terms of the Ukrainian ground forces being able to achieve a level of maneuver. Now, there's a difference between mobility and maneuver, and we don't need to get into that type of insight, baseball discussion. But maneuver allows forces to eat up large swathes of terrain, but they need to be used.

This maneuverability is achieved through a combination of ground capabilities, air capabilities, long distance, you know, deep fires, great intelligence. All of this needs to be synchronized. So a single piece of equipment like the Bradleys is wonderful, but it needs to be used in conjunction with all those other enablers.

And so the key is, are the Ukrainians prepared to inject this type of capability and achieve that level of maneuverability, which really puts them at a great advantage over the Russians, because every time, tactically, when the Russians and the Ukrainians engage, the Russians lose, they get slaughtered.

So they don't -- they, the Russians, don't want to see this great maneuverability on the part of the Ukrainians, but it needs to be achieved with all those other capabilities as well. So it's a plus up, but remains to be seen.

MARQUARDT: We have seen this general escalation of the systems that are being sent by the U.S. and other NATO allies to Ukraine over the course of this war in response to Ukraine asking for tanks, U.S. officials have said that they, at least, the American tanks require a lot of training, a lot of maintenance.

We're now seeing France, however, announcing that it's going to be sending some light tanks, obviously, there's some German light tanks, the Ukrainians also want to get their hands on. So, do you think we're getting closer, inching closer with these Bradleys to those western allies, sending tanks to Ukraine?

MARKS: Yes, absolutely. But, you know, some of the restrictions, Alex, need to be removed. You've indicated that we don't want HIMARS, those long-range fires, very precise fires. We give them the missiles that only go out to 40 miles. We have missiles that could take them out almost 190 miles, 300 kilometers.

We've told them not to strike across the border, of course, that is -- enter border into Russia -- of course, that have taken place. So, you don't need to have these artificialities placed on these capabilities. You want to kind of let them loose with the right type of training to achieve those maximum results.

At the end of the day, the Ukrainians have acknowledged they're going to end up with a hodgepodge, kind of a cat's breakfast of all these different types of capabilities. That's not ideal, but when you're looking for these types of enablers, and you've got nations that are willing to step up and say I'll provide you X or I'll provide you Y. Understand that you're going to have a whole bunch of maintenance

problems because you've got to keep these things, and in many cases with tanks and Bradleys, you end up with -- they're fuel hawks. Can you maintain them? Are you going to have these pieces of capability, this great -- this great kit end up at the end of a particular operation where they can't maneuver anymore because they're running out of fuel?

These are considerations that the Ukrainians are aware of. I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. What I'm saying is, these are the things that are on the board that will be addressed and are being addressed right now. That's what warfare is all about . Look, people talk about tacticians warfare. This is all about logistics --


MARKS: In order to support this type of operation.

MARQUARDT: And what we continue to hear from the Ukrainians is thank you for all of this, but we still need more in order to beat the Russians. Retired Army Major General Spider Marks, we have to leave it there, thank you so much for your time, sir, appreciate it.

MARKS: Thank you, Alex.

WALKER: Well, northern California is bracing for another round of rain after days of flooding and damage. Right now, more than 15 million people under flood alert. We're tracking the storms next.



WALKER: Fifteen million people across California are under threat of flooding this weekend as another round of storms threaten the west coast. The storm is threatening to dump heavy rain on areas already struggling with flooding.

MARQUARDT: Now, earlier this week, huge waves and powerful winds slammed into the village of Capitola destroying the town's historic pier. At least, two deaths are being blamed on the severe weather. Nearly 40,000 homes and businesses are still without power and crews across the state are working to repair damage from that last round of storms, but time may be running out.

WALKER: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar joining us now from the weather center. And this is a part of the country that's not exactly used to a lot of rain, and it's not over yet, right?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: Right, I mean, this is the rainy season, but this was also forecast to be a La Nina year. Again, when you typically have all of that moisture, more so up around Washington and Oregon, certainly not central and southern California. Here's where it's raining at the moment. The bulk of the heavy rain is focused at this point over northern and central portions of California. But essentially, you've got rain coming down from Monterey all the way

up towards Seattle. So, a lot of areas here picking up on that moisture. The thing is, it's a cumulative effect. For a lot of these areas, it's been raining almost nonstop for two weeks. And so all of that water has to run off somewhere, and it begins to fill up those rivers, creeks and streams.

And now, you're really starting to see a lot of those tick up beyond flood stage. All of these dots you see here are river gauges that are either at or above that minor or moderate flood stages. Some even could get up towards record levels in the coming days because we have multiple new systems that are going to set to arrive in the next couple of days.

Here's a look at the forecast radar. Again, all of this heavy rainfall across Oregon, northern and central California. That's the first wave that comes in today. A little bit of a break in the first half of the day, Sunday, before Sunday night comes in, and that second round begins to take shape. And then a third round comes in early next week.


Because of this, you have a flood risk here. You can see right here that a slight and even a moderate risk just north of San Francisco for excessive rainfall, again, because of the cumulative effect of not just the amount of rain that's already fallen, but also what we anticipate.

This storm system alone, if you look at the forecast rainfall, you're talking 4 to 6 inches of rain in the next couple of days. That's on top of in some areas, guys, having as much as a foot of rain that has already fallen.

WALKER: Yes, that is a lot. Allison Chinchar, appreciate you, thank you very much. So a quick programming note, "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE" returns for a new season of conversations with news makers, Hugh Jackman and James Cameron join Chris for the season premiere. You can catch the interviews tomorrow night at 7:00 right here on CNN.

And we are continuing to follow the big story from overnight after days of debate and drama and 15 rounds of voting, Kevin McCarthy is officially house speaker. What this means for Congress moving forward. That's next.