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Rescues Underway, Roads and Cars Submerged in Historic California Floods; Classified Documents from Biden's Time as V.P. Found in Private Office; Bloody Knife Found in Home Basement of Missing Mother. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired January 10, 2023 - 07:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, it's a mess in California right now. It's very dangerous. And you are looking at those dramatic rescues happening in California, flash flooding stranding drivers, mudslide threats prompting major evacuations there.

Good morning, everyone. It is --


LEMON: It is terrifying. And we have a lot to report on, all the situations that's happening there.

This morning, it is a dire one unfolding as 34 million people in California are under a flood watch. What they are facing and we're live in Ventura County for you.

HARLOW: Also classified documents from the time President Joe Biden's time as vice president discovered in his former private office. Now, lawmakers on both sides are responding.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also a bloody knife, $450 worth of cleaning supplies and a husband now accused of misleading the police. Ahead, the new evidence that is now coming to light in the case of that missing Massachusetts mom.

HARLOW: we begin though this hour in California, where rivers are overflowing, streets are flooding, boulders and trees are crashing down, at least 14 people have died in a series of storms that have hit the state over and over again. And according to Gavin Newsom, the governor there, there is no end in sight for this threat. 90 percent of the state's residents are under a flood watch this morning. Ventura and L.A. County is getting hit extremely hard, and that is where dramatic rescue happened just a few hours ago.

Take a look at this, a firefighter on the roof of an SUV as water covers the hood splashing up to the top of the windshield. That firefighter eventually gets the 70-year-old driver out through the window and begins strapping him in before pulling him up the ladder to safety. And this is just one rescue. There have been hundreds of calls just like this. Kyung Lah joins us now live in Ventura, California. Give us some perspective here, right? What is this like for folks who have lived there for a long time?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me just give you a snapshot and some perspective of where I am, and that should tell the larger story, Poppy. I'm standing on the 101 Freeway. Even though it looks like this is a lake, this is a freeway. If you've been in California, you know this is multiple lanes of cars normally, people jammed up with their vehicles. It is a slushy, muddy mess.

And so this is one place where the freeway has had to be shut down. There are multiple spots up and down the northern corridor, northern and southern corridor that is completely closed. So, sections of California paralyzed this morning because of the intense amount of rain. What rescuers are having to deal with here, even though it's not drizzly now, we are in a lull, it is this, it's this mud that's just simply sticky. And so vehicles are getting stuck after the water goes away.

There is a river that -- you know, that I'm standing above, the 101 Freeway above the river, that have completely washed over freeways. That is what this state is dealing with this morning. What we are also seeing are entire communities being evacuated, the community of Montecito, Kaitlan, it is extraordinary. People have been told to, quote, leave now. That is the message from the fire department. So, very serious situation this morning here in California.

HARLOW: As I understand it, Kyung, record-breaking in some areas. And given that, I wonder is it really safe for folks to leave now?

LAH: You know, that was the warning that the fire department issued yesterday. What we aren't quite sure of is how serious that is right now in this lull. Towards the end of last night, Poppy, we were told that people needed to hunker down, that they needed to wait, because it is, it is this, it is all this mud and sewage. The sewers here, especially in Santa Barbara, are completely full. So, this is not a pleasant smell, and it is something that the beach communities are going to have to deal with, bacteria and, you know, that sort of infrastructure issue.

But what the Santa Barbara Fire Department tells us this morning is that they have had seven swift water rescues, 200 incidents, that people need to be very, very careful. Because if they go into these conditions, they can get trapped and, in some cases, washed away, Poppy.

And you are right, as far as that record, let me touch on that really quickly, Santa Barbara got more rain in one day yesterday than they normally get in an average month in January.

HARLOW: Wow, in a day. Kyung, thank you to you and your team for being out there in the middle of the 101 that looks like a lake. Wow.

COLLINS: Also this morning, the Justice Department is now reviewing and weighing how to respond after President Biden's attorneys discovered a, quote, small number of classified documents in his former office at Washington think tank last fall.


That has prompted the Justice Department to scrutinize this. They are looking into the matter, determining how they are going to proceed.

These documents, we should note, were discovered in a locked closet at the think tank that has Biden's name. The White House says it is cooperating with the National Archives and the Justice Department amid lingering questions about what was in the documents, what their level of classification is. Republicans are weighing in on the matter comparing it to what happened to former President Trump, which is obviously a much larger document discovery. But there are still major differences in the two.

CNN's Paula Reid is live in Washington. Paula, this is obviously notable that this broke last night. What do we know about what was actually found and how the White House is responding?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: All right, Kaitlan. To fully understand the story, we have to go back a few years. 2017 to 2019, between the time Biden is vice president, before he becomes president, he is an honorary professor at the University of Pennsylvania and he has an office here in D.C. Well, just a few months ago while he was president in November, his team went to that office to clean it out and they say during that time they found fewer than a dozen classified documents.

Now, they say they immediately notified the National Archives and handed over the documents the next morning. The Justice Department was also notified. We don't know, though, what these documents were or how they ended up at this office. We know that the U.S. attorney in Chicago though is now reviewing this matter and conducting a damage assessment.

And that is interesting, Kaitlan, because, as you know, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, he is one of only two Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys who are still serving in government. And the other one is the U.S. attorney in Delaware, who is overseeing the investigation of the president's son, Hunter Biden.

Now, the Biden team says they are fully cooperating with the Archives and the Justice Department, but there really are a lot of questions here. One of the biggest questions for reporters right now is, are these the only documents. Is there anything else anywhere else? Because as we saw with the investigation into Clinton emails and classified information and with the Trump Mar-a-Lago probe, what happened with these criminal investigations is they metastasize into political liabilities as more documents kept popping up.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, there are big questions at the legal aspect here. It's clearly a political headache or is going to be one for the White House.

The White House does have questions to answer on this, the DOJ as well. But there are big differences between what is happening here based on what we know now and what is happening with the former president. Can you just kind of layout what those differences are?

REID: You're absolutely right, Kaitlan. And based on what the Biden team is telling us, the Biden matter appears to be a much more simple, straightforward matter than what is going on in Mar-a-Lago. First, let's just start with the volume of materials. With the Biden matter, we're talking about less than a dozen documents versus the Trump matter, which is hundreds of documents.

Also this issue of cooperation, the Biden team says they are fully cooperating, where we know in the Trump issue, we know he refused to cooperate, they ignored the government multiple times and really only handed over a lot of materials when subpoenas were obtained.

There was also the issue of what exactly is being investigated. Trump is also being investigated for obstruction but is speaking with his legal team, they believe that this Biden matter helps their defense because they argue this is really an issue of over overclassification of government records.

COLLINS: Yes. I heard from White House officials overnight saying they believe there is a big difference here. Obviously, that is something that is going to will play out.

Paula Reid, thank you so much for that reporting.

LEMON: All right. Let's discuss now. Joining us is national security and security clearance law expert Bradley Moss. He is a deputy executive director of the James Madison Project. Bradley, good morning, thank you.

So, you heard Kaitlan and Paula discussing this. You say that these are two completely different cases. Can you put that into context for us? What do you mean by that?

BRADLEY MOSS, DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JAMES MADISON PROJECT: Sure, Don, and Paula kind of teed it up a little bit there for me. The distinction here is not necessarily that there was the unauthorized retention of these documents. Even a single document is a potential criminal issue, where the Biden team has diverged here, at least so far, based on what we know from the reporting, is the corporation and the absence of obstruction in which they have engaged compared to what Donald Trump did.

Remember, Donald Trump dragged it out for months to comply with NARA when the first batch of classified were found, he fought NARA a bunch in terms of stuff being handled over to DOJ, then they obstructed the subpoena, they provided a false sworn declaration, et cetera, et cetera, leading up to finally that search warrant execution at Mar-a- Lago in August. And that is a clear distinction from what the Biden team here did. They found records, they immediately contact NARA, they turn them over the next morning in compliance with the protocols. That is what you are supposed do.

LEMON: Well, one started as an investigation asking for the documents back and the other one was discovered by the very person who had them, their own people, correct? [07:10:00]

That is a major distinction.

MOSS: That is also a separate distinction, yes, absolutely, Don. And in the Espionage Act provision that lot of us have always been referencing and that was referenced in the search warrant for Mar-a- Lago, one of the key issues is failure to return the unauthorized retained documents when confronted and sought from the authorized government party. That is what happened with Donald Trump. They asked for them back. And he was obstructing and fighting them on it. That never happened here with Joe Biden.

Now, obviously, if there's more documents that come out, if there is evidence of obstruction that does ultimately emerge in the Biden case, that would be a different issue. But so far, it is completely apples to oranges here.

LEMON: Okay. So, is there any -- could he face any sort of consequences for having these documents even if he says he didn't know about them?

MOSS: Realistically, no. And, by and large, for the most part, when it comes to unauthorized retention cases, the government doesn't like to bring criminal cases usually. It is very complicated. They have to have all kinds of classified discovery. It is usually an administrative mechanism once they have secured the documents. Joe Biden is now the president. There is no administrative mechanism to take against him just like there never would have been one against Donald Trump while he was president. He's exempt from all that.

So, the only way Joe Biden can really get in trouble here is if he or a staff on his behalf obstruct the investigation. And so far, there doesn't appear to be any evidence of that.

LEMON: Got you. Bradley Moss, thank you so much.

COLLINS: We also have new information this morning in the search for the missing mother in Massachusetts. She has three sons. Investigators now say that a bloody knife has been found in the basement of the home that Anna Walsh shares with her husband.

Authorities are also focusing on a transfer station in Peabody, Massachusetts, digging through trash that was brought there last week. Investigators have reportedly put crime scene tape outside and around dumpsters that are located in an apartment complex near the home of her mother-in-law.

That is not all. Sources tell CNN investigators are going through her husband's internet history and they found a search for, quote, how to dispose of a 115 pound woman's body. He has been charged with misleading investigators.

So, joining us now to talk about this new information that we're learning is CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller. John, you were reporting on this yesterday about those internet searches and what police are looking at? What have they found so far? Because, I mean, that seems like something that we were talking about this morning, he's only been charged with misleading investigators but it seems like there could be more on the way.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So, the misleading investigators charge is clearly a holding charge because where they are going with this case is building a circumstantial case for murder. You've got blood in the basement. You've got a bloody knife. You've got a shopping trip to buy drop cloths and Tyvek suits, and you have all that the day after your wife she mysteriously disappears.

So, the key here now is nobody likes murder case without a body. It doesn't mean it hasn't been done before but it offers a real challenge. So, that transfer station in Peabody where they arrived last night in the early evening and have stayed for hours looking for the grid of where the trash that would have been coming from that area would be, that is going to be the key. And, you know, they will spend days there if that is what it takes to see if they can recover a body or, in this case, more likely body parts.

HARLOW: How hard is it without her body? They have got the bloody knife. They have got the cleaning supply bills but no body.

MILLER: So, in New York City, we've had a number of successful prosecutions, very similar cases where people disappeared and they have been able to present to a jury, you know, you have, in this case, it would be the shopping trip, the blood recovered in the basement, the knife, which is not only bloodied but also broken. It kind of adds up to if not a murder, then what was going on. And the alternative explanations in those cases could be pretty challenging.

LEMON: Listen, with due process, of course, innocent until proven guilty. But in these cases, we often find out it is the significant other who is responsible for this. And if you look at all the evidence, I'm not saying the guy did it, but this would be a law and order where it is all, aha, that someone else shows up or someone is being framed. But, I mean, that is a lot of evidence pointing towards his direction, John.

MILLER: It is. And you have a lot going on in the background here. This is couple that has moved five times in the last seven years. The husband is under house arrest for his guilty plea for selling fake Andy Warhol paintings for just under $100,000 on eBay. So, there is a lot going on in the background before this even happens.

COLLINS: The mother-in-law, why are they searching her apartment and places near her apartment?


MILLER: It's a really good question because Cohasset is over, the mother-in-law is up in Swampcscott, and the refuge station is an hour- and-a-half north of Cohasset. But yesterday, they came to the mother- in-law's apartment and they taped off some trash compactors with crime scene tapes, looked at that and their next stop was a refuge station. According to Brian Walsh, the day after his wife disappears, he goes out without his cell phone and not using a GPS to go visit his mother and gets lost, which is what he says according to the affidavit filed by police is what took him hours to make such a short trip. And then you see where that is going from here.

So, clearly, the investigative theory is that rather than allegedly if he is behind this murder placed body parts in his own trash, he took them to another location where he would have access and they are looking to where that refuge would have been taken.

LEMON: Wait. Was he still under house arrest and he is leaving?

MILLER: So, he is still under house arrest, but he has two windows, to pick up and drop off the three kids from school.

HARLOW: And this was in one of those windows they have questions about --

MILLER: Right. And when we get back to that circumstantial kind of pileup in this case, he was in none of the places he said he was because they reviewed videos of the stores and places he said he visited and he was in all of the places he said he wasn't, like Home Depot buying drop cloths and Tyvek suits.

LEMON: Thank you, John Miller. I appreciate it.

HARLOW: Thanks, John.

This morning, it is day two of the nurses' strike at two very significant and big New York City hospitals, more than 7,000 nurses frustrated with pay, with staffing who walked off the job. They say that they are being forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions and are unable to properly care for their patients.

Our Vanessa Yurkevich joins us live again this morning back there on the picket line. Still, I take it then they have not agreed to this mediation that the hospitals and the state want, is that right?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. Day two still no deal, the nurses are back on the picket line this morning just getting under way. There is a growing sense of frustration here though because Mount Sinai has yet to come back to the bargaining table with their union and they are growing frustrated about that. Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, however, did meet with the union yesterday but still no deal.

And the sticking point still, Poppy, is the safe staffing. That's ratio of patients to nurses. The union wants very specific language written into the contract about how many patients can be taken care of by nurses and they want it enforced.

Now, New York City and the hospital says that they have brought in traveling nurses and that there are no issues inside. However, we spoke to two nurses who were working inside Mount Sinai yesterday and said that they have safety concerns for their patients because of the lack of traveling nurses that they have seen in the hospital that were supposed to be brought into make up for all the nurses that are out here. The two nurses saying that the ratios are extremely high, three nurses on one floor for 30 patients. It should be closer to one to four, Poppy.

But the nurses out here telling me this morning they would rather be inside taking care of their patients, but they are out here fighting for the very issue that they feel will protect their patients in the future, Poppy.

HARLOW: Vanessa Yurkevich live for us right here in New York, thank you.

LEMON: New details emerging about the shooting of a Virginia teacher at the hands of a six-year-old boy. The police chief in Newport News, Virginia joins us next.

COLLINS: Also this morning, another black head coach in the NFL has been fired after just one year on the job by the same team, the Houston Texans. We're going to talk to Bomani Jones about the fallout and his view ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back to CNN This Morning. New information about the teacher shot by a six-year-old in school in Newport News, Virginia. Police say the gun used in the shooting was purchased legally by the child's mother and police also say that the boy took the gun from his home, put it in his backpack, brought it into the school. That child is being temporarily detained at a medical facility where he is receiving treatment. Local authorities are still trying to understand how could a six-year-old know how to use a gun and shoot a teacher.


CHIEF STEVE DREW, NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA: How does a six-year-old know how to use a firearm? I don't know that I could give you an adequate answer. I know that I have seen some video games out there that depict it pretty clearly, whether it is something that might be a toy at one point, I don't know how to answer that. It is unprecedented. I don't know how to answer that question.


HARLOW: That was chief of police, Steve Drew, of Newport News Police. And I as a parent of a six-year-old, chief, have the exact same question. How does this happen?

DREW: You know, I think that we started asking that question right after we got the radio transmission and officers responded. At first, we thought there was an active shooter-type situation going on in the school. And when we were able to determine what we had, I think everybody took a step back and asked that same question, how does that happen? We were able to determine what took place and how the firearm got there, and as the investigation unfolded, but the big question, you're exactly right, and it is a question that we have throughout the department and even with our school system, is how does a young man know how to use a firearm.

HARLOW: I want to --

DREW: And I say, young man -- I don't mean to interrupt you, but I say, young man, I should say a child. We're dealing with a six-year- old and it is just unprecedented with what we have.


HARLOW: Yes, I hear you, I understand that.

You did meet with the teacher, Abigail Zwerner. And I think we're all hoping she's okay. How is she doing? I know she was shot in the hand and into her chest.

DREW: That's a great question. Yes, I was able to meet with her family on Saturday afternoon. I thought that was important. They allowed me to go up and meet with her, so that was my first conversation with Ms. Zwerner. And it was just amazing to get to see her. Her first question to me was, how are my students? And that took me back, the humanity. And then I got to see her again yesterday.

I told her about this press conference. I asked her for permission -- a lot of people had been praying for her and asking how she's doing. And you're right, she did take a defensive wound as she moved back to shield herself and then the firearm striking her in the hand and into her chest. So --

HARLOW: It's so striking. She even --

DREW: But she is in improving and she is in stable condition.

HARLOW: Good. And she managed to get all her kids out of that classroom even after she was shot, which I think says everything about her character.

But can we, Chief, get to the law here? Because we were looking back at the statute in Virginia and the law in Virginia is this, that it prohibits anyone from recklessly leaving a loaded, unsecure firearm in a manner to endanger a child or allowing any child under the age of 12 to use a firearm without a parent's supervision. You said this child knew how to use this gun. So, I wonder if the mother could face charges here.

DREW: So, I think that that is certainly a possibility. I talked to our commonwealth attorney, Mr. Glenn (ph), at length multiple times. And he reiterated to me over -- and there's still -- we're 3.5, 4 days coming up since last Friday.

As the case develops and the investigation goes on, there is a lot of different angles we still need to cover. We need to check with child protective services on any history, we need to check with the school system on any behavioral issues they might have and put those together.

There are still 16, 17 children that we want to work a child psychologist to get some statement from what they had. And at the end of the day, when that is all compiled together and the facts and what the law supports, the commonwealth attorney will make the decision if there are any charges forthcoming toward the parents.

HARLOW: Two more very quick questions for you. One, what -- do you know what the child did directly after pulling the trigger?

DREW: So, all I know at this point until we get some of those further interviews, and I don't want to say too much because there are still some people to be interviewed, but I do know, you're right, when Abigail walked out of that room and she was the last one out, she made sure those kids were out, she turned down that hallway and stopped, turned back to make sure they were safe, there was another school member that went into the room and that was able to restrain the child until officers and deputies were able to take custody of him and escort him out of the building.

HARLOW: And do you have any, final question, clarity this morning, Chief, on how the child got that gun? How they got --

DREW: Sure. What we're able to determine at this point, there are still some things we need to clear up. We have got some information but we need to clear some of that up that that the gun was legally purchased, it was at the residence, he was able to acquire it, he put it in his backpack and was driven to school by his mother later that morning. And then at some point, it came out of his backpack and was concealed on him.

HARLOW: Chief Steve Drew, thank you very much for your time this morning. And I'm so sorry that this is what you are having to confront. And all our thoughts with Abigail Zwerner, what an amazing woman.

DREW: She is a true hero. Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: It's really something he probably never thought he'd have to deal with in his job.



Also this morning, in a league where roughly 60 percent of the players are black, only three black head coaches remain. What the firing of Houston Texans Coach Lovie Smith after just one season says about the current state of the NFL, we'll talk about that next.