Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Severe Weather Storms in California Moving South from Central Valley toward Los Angeles and Ventura Counties; U.S. Announces Largest Military Aid Package for Ukraine to Date; Classified Documents Found at President Biden's Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired January 10, 2023 - 08:00   ET



RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And part of it is just figuring out what people want. And Abercrombie certainly had a problematic past, a sort of troublesome past, but they have been able to figure out what people want, and they're more inclusive.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Anything else you want to share about Abercrombie?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Not right now, Don.


SOLOMON: Putting me on the spot, Don.

HARLOW: The documentary is so fascinating on Abercrombie.


LEMON: It is so obnoxious. She's mad at me.


HARLOW: We'll be talking about it. We'll find out at the break. Rahel and Nathaniel, thank you.

Top of the hour, let's reset.

LEMON: Good morning. Parts of America's largest state under water as millions face a flooding disaster in California. Dramatic rescues under way now as roads buckle, cars submerged in downtown L.A. at risk. We're going to take you there live.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: More classified documents, another investigation, but this time it's a different president, the current one. What President Biden's team has discovered in his private office, but also why his case is different than the one playing out at Mar-a- Lago.

HARLOW: Rudy Giuliani subpoenaed as the special counsel investigating Donald Trump's coup attempt follows the money. LEMON: Chilling discoveries in the search for a missing mother, what

her husband searched online and what he bought after her disappearance. Deborah Norville will join us live.

COLLINS: And a new twist in Russia's war, why the United States is making a significant change involving the weapons it is sending to Ukraine. We have new reporting just moments away. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

LEMON: And thanks for joining us, everyone. Obviously, we're going to begin with the dangerous storm battering California again, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and putting 34 million people under a flood watch. Flooding, mudslides, debris flows, and the threat is not over. The storm is moving south from central California toward Los Angeles and Ventura Counties today. At least 14 people have died in the storms over the past few weeks. That's according to Governor Gavin Newsom. We know that one driver died on a flooded roadway in San Luis Obispo. A five-year-old is missing after being swept away in the floodwaters. Rescuers searched for the child for hours. But even the search had to be suspended because the weather became too severe.

Rescuers answering hundreds of calls. The man being pulled up to the helicopter you see right there, he said he was -- there it is -- that he and his wife were getting ready to evacuate but before they could get out, their home became an island.

And we're taking you to Montecito right now. Look at that. Recognize that face? That's Ellen Degeneres becoming an impromptu weather reporter.


ELLEN DEGENERES, COMEDIAN: We're having unprecedented rain. This creek next to our house never flows, ever. Probably about nine feet up. It's going to go another two feet up. We need to be nicer to mother nature.


LEMON: Ellen, be safe. That water is really raging behind her. Look at that. This is Ventura County. Boulders the size of cars came crashing down in a rockslide, shutting down this highway. Look at that. My goodness.

Kyung Lah, that is my word of the day, she joins us now from Ventura County, California. This is a mess, and it's very dangerous.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very dangerous. And parts of this entire state are paralyzed. I'm standing on a major freeway. I'm actually going to keep an eye on this emergency vehicle that drives by. This is the 101 freeway. If you've been in California, you've probably been on the 101 freeway. It is completely shut down. This is the Ventura River that is normally below the 101. It is crested, and it is now covering parts of this section of the freeway.

And the mess that it leaves behind, I mean, it's this, this sticky mud. While emergency vehicles can somehow get through it, a lot of vehicles can't. And that is the problem that is facing southern California right now. That is why this is so dangerous. Just a little bit further north of where I am, you saw Ellen Degeneres talking from Montecito County. It is the burn areas where there isn't a lot of foliage to sort of grip that ground, and you get this. You get all this mud.

So, just from where I'm standing, Don, it is really an extraordinary sight to see this major freeway shut down, but, again, just even getting up here, Don, there were streets flooded, intersections completely frozen, houses that are pumping out water. This is impacting so many millions of Californians this morning, Don.

LEMON: Kyung, you're on top of it. Thank you very much, Kyung, appreciate it.

HARLOW: New this morning, U.S. officials tell CNN there has been a, quote, substantive change in the type of weapons being sent to Ukraine as the nation closes in on one year since Russia's invasion.


And this comes days after the U.S. announced its largest military aid package for Ukraine to date with new systems that one official says give Ukraine much more capability. Let's turn to CNN anchor and chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. Jim, good morning. You know all about this. You were on the ground when the invasion happened almost a year ago now. Can you explain what is different about what they're getting now in terms of weaponry?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: For sure. I think it is always important to look at this, not just one weapons system, but the collection of weapons systems over time and what that tells us about the battle on the ground.

So let's look at these latest parts of this package. Bradley fighting vehicles, I'm going to focus on that in a moment. More capable surface-to-air missile systems and surface to surface missile systems, artillery systems that are more accurate and have greater ranges. That's the collection of things we've seen recently.

Let's look at Bradley fighting vehicles in particular, because these are going now. It's an armored personnel carrier, carries troops into battle, but it also crucially has a tow missile, this is an antitank missile attached to it. You've heard the reluctance throughout this war of the U.S. and its partners to send tanks. This is not a tank, but it does have the ability to attack and destroy Russian tanks. And that's important, particularly important on the battlefield and in the east.

I'm told by U.S. officials that this is in response to what Ukrainians are asking for, and the U.S. and its partners trying to be responsive to what Ukrainians are asking for now.

HARLOW: Can you speak to, Jim, what these changes reveal about the battlefield in eastern Ukraine? SCIUTTO: It is a couple of things. So let's look at that battlefield.

One thing that is different about out there, it's flatter ground, more wide open ground than we saw, for instance, around, say, Kyiv in the early stages of the war. And that makes you think World War II tank battles, really, Poppy. And you've got wide open areas here where you're having an artillery battle, and you can have these Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks really go into open conflict there.

The other piece of this that I'm told, Poppy, is this. And that is that the U.S. is concerned that Russia's going to attempt to regroup, launch more aggressive offensives here, and they want to get Ukrainians the equipment they need now to push back against that.

HARLOW: I think that's what Bob Gates and Condi Rice were warning about. Jim, thanks very much.

SCIUTTO: Thanks.

COLLINS: Also this morning, the Justice Department is now looking into this matter, classified documents from President Biden's time as vice president that were found at a private office. The special counsel to President Biden who works in the White House now says that a small number of documents with classified markings were discovered in what they say was a locked closet by President Biden's personal attorneys as they were clearing out the offices of the Penn Biden Center on November 2nd. That's right before the midterm elections. It goes on to say that the White House counsel's office has notified the National Archives, which took possession of the documents the next day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any comment on the documents, sir?


COLLINS: At a summit in Mexico City yesterday, President Biden ignored shouted questions from a CNN reporter on the classified documents. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff responded to the news, telling CNN, Obviously, if there are classified documents anywhere, they shouldn't be. That's a problem and a deep concern." Another Democrat, Jim Himes, who is on the Intelligence Committee, echoed the seriousness of the situation.


REP. JIM HIMES, (D-CT): Classified information needs to stay in secured spaces. So we'll wait to see the facts. But classified information needs to be in secure spaces.


COLLINS: In September, after former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was raided by the FBI as they were searching for classified documents that he was refusing to turn over, President Biden weighed in, saying this -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you saw the photograph of the top secret documents laid out on the floor at Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself, looking at that image?

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How that could possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible. And I thought, what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods? By that, I mean names of people who helped, et cetera. And it just totally irresponsible.


COLLINS: Joining us now to do discuss this is CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller, and CNN's anchor and correspondent and host of the CNN podcast "The Assignment" Audie Cornish. Thank you both for being here.

Obviously, there are big differences here when it comes to what we're seeing play out at Mar-a-Lago, what we know so far about Biden. But I want to start with what we do know about these documents from Biden so far. We still have questions about what actually was in them, what they look like. What concerns do you have, though, about this situation?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, the first concern is, according to the initial statement from the White House, the documents were found by lawyers who were cleaning out the office. Generally, when you're going to move stuff from one office to another, you don't send a team of lawyers over.


So, I think there was some anticipation that there might be sensitive material there in the first place.

In the how does this happen category, which is a topic the president just raised in his own soundbite, you're in office, you're in government, you have classified documents, but you're starting a file on a certain subject, you have unclassified assessments in there too. They get mixed together because where you're working is OK for classified documents. When I was in the DNI, I worked in an entire floor that was a SCIF. Classified documents were everywhere. Then you forget that it's a mixed file and it ends up being moved with other unclassified files. So that's how that happens.

Best case scenario, they have been locked up in that office and they are of little consequence because of the small number of them. Worst case scenario is, because this is going to happen, they're going to look at what was the subject matter of the documents. They're going to look at what it pertained to. And if it turns out that at a time when he was not in office, he had classified documents related to China or Ukraine or any of the entities that paid his son millions of dollars as a lawyer during that time, people are going to take that politically and run with that ball, and it's just not a good look for Democrats who spent an entire season howling about Donald Trump and classified documents, even though the differences are significant.

HARLOW: So Audie, James Comer, who is the new House Oversight chairman, said this is a further concern there is a two-tiered justice system. We don't know that now. The question is what this leads to, what the documents were, how it's handled, but there are legitimate questions that the Biden administration needs to answer on this. And it also comes at a time when the situation for Merrick Garland, the attorney general, just got a lot more complicated. Even though there is a special counsel handling the Trump Mar-a-Lago documents, doesn't this optics-wise and just process-wise complicate things for him?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: One thing I'm hoping the media sort of has learned a lesson from the Hillary Clinton investigation and the emails on the server and sort of how the media would run with that in terms of comparing candidates, right, and saying this is the same thing. President Trump, the former president, is in trouble because of obstruction, because he took the documents, and because he fought the whole way in terms of giving them back, OK.

HARLOW: And then says he blanket declassified --

CORNISH: Yes, and then said that I can declassify things just by thinking it. So that's a totally different scale in terms of response. And I think that's an important distinction to make.

The other thing is that, in particular, this seizure of documents was incredibly, I guess, catalyzing for Republicans to make the argument you're talking about. And one of the concessions out of the McCarthy negotiations, the speaker of the House, is a subcommittee that is going to investigate weaponization of the federal government, which means, regardless of whether this happened at all, there was going to be an interrogation by House Republicans into the FBI, into the IRS, into the Justice Department, over a variety of topics because fundamentally they're now taking the position that the federal government does somehow treat conservatives or Republican politicians differently.

LEMON: I think that James Comer is being too -- it says James, right, his first name?


LEMON: James Comer, James Comey. I think he is being too cute by half. To say that it's a two-tiered justice system because it was referred to Merrick Garland, they referred it to the Justice Department. Merrick Garland referred it to someone to investigate. So it is --

HARLOW: Actually, a Trump-appointed, to your point --

LEMON: Yes, a Trump-appointed person.

HARLOW: In Chicago.

LEMON: So to say that is just -- they have to know better. MILLER: That's on balance. We're talking about political street

fighting here that is going to go on with control of the House now at a fairly high pitch. And if you take the pure legalistics out of it and you get into the optics and the politics, what happened here is going to make it almost impossible to charge Donald Trump with any violation of classified --

COLLINS: Really?

LEMON: I said that last night. It puts Merrick Garland in a very odd position. Did they know this was coming? This was November. I said, you know, listen, I'm just asking here. Maybe Merrick Garland didn't -- everyone was wondering why he didn't act. Did he know this was coming?

MILLER: The White House knows how to get news out fast and they know how to get news out slow. The idea that we went through the contretemps of last week, and once that was all clear, they announced this, probably, you know, speaks for itself in terms of analysis.

COLLINS: I'm so interested that you said it helps Trump, because I was talking to people close to his legal team yesterday, and they were saying this is a huge gift to them because they believe -- politically speaking, of course, the obstruction is the big part of the Trump story, he resisted for so long turning them over. But they believe it helps make the argument that it's pretty easy, actually, to innocently and mistakenly, perhaps, take classified documents. Does that actually hold up in court?

MILLER: So, it doesn't hold up in logic.


COLLINS: But does that hold up in court?

MILLER: Sure, it holds up in court as an argument. But, you know, the law is clear on both. It's just, you know, the balancing act of you've got a special prosecutor, you know, Jack Smith, who's going to -- who's going to make a recommendation, and then the Attorney General is going to have to make a decision. And these developments have put him in a very awkward place in terms of the decision making.

CORNISH: And this is not his only legal trouble. There's the fake electors, these are things going on in Georgia. So, in context, this is --

MILLER: In some measure, this is more minor issue.

CORNISH: Exactly.

COLLINS: Thank you both, John Miller, Audie Cornish, appreciate it.

HARLOW: A mother is missing this morning, and we are now learning her husband did a very disturbing Google search and bought $450 worth of cleaning supplies the day after her disappearance. Deborah Norville joins us live on all of these recent developments. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, investigators are looking for possible remains of a missing mother, Ana Walshe. They are focusing on a transfer station in Peabody, Massachusetts, digging through trash, brought there last week. A source with direct knowledge of the investigation told CNN that investigation -- investigators also put crime scene tape outside around dumpsters located in an apartment complex near the home of Ana's mother-in-law. And his husband Brian Walshe says that he was visiting his mother after his wife's disappearance.


Prosecutors said in court, that investigators found a bloody knife in the basement of the couple's home. And they say he spent about $450 of cleaning -- on cleaning supplies, including mops, a bucket and tarps. And that's not all, sources tell CNN that investigators are going through the husband's internet history, and found a search for how to dispose of 115-pound woman's body. He is charged with misleading investigators. So, joining us now, Deborah Norville, the Host of "Inside Edition," which is by the way, celebrating its 35th anniversary. Congratulations for that. Deborah, it's always good to see you. I wish we were talking about something better, but --


LEMON (on camera): Thank you so much for joining us. Good morning, absolutely. Your reaction to this news, especially in the context of its proximity to the place Brian Walshe told investigators he had visited.

NORVILLE: Yes, this is a case that's developing pretty quickly now that authorities are actually having the opportunity to investigate it. And the big news overnight, it's been reported that, evidence linked to the disappearance of Ana Walshe was found at that garbage transfer facility in Peabody. That's the latest place where cops have been looking. Across the board, the story that Brian Walshe has told investigators since his wife was last seen by someone outside the family on New Year's Eve, actually about 1:30 in the morning on January 1st, has simply not added up to what the facts are that they're developing.

They had had a friend over for dinner, the friend left about 1:30 in the morning, the friend says everything was just fine. Brian Walshe told investigators that his wife had to suddenly go to Washington D.C. where she worked as a real estate executive on January 1st, and then later didn't show up to work. She wasn't reported missing until January 4th. It's what happened between January 1st and January 4th, that investigators are looking at. And they're able to follow the movements of Brian Walshe, because he was already under house arrest for a federal fraud case for which he was awaiting sentencing.

During that period, he went to as prosecutors told the judge in court yesterday, he went to a Home Depot where he wore surgical gloves, had on a COVID mask, and paid cash for $450 worth of cleaning supplies. That fact really got investigators' attention. They then were able to do a search of the gentleman's home, and that's where they found not only the bloody knife in the basement, but also blood in the basement. Presumably, efforts would be made to clean that up, that hadn't happened yet. And subsequent to that, they got the arrest warrant for impeding the investigation because statements Brian Walshe made did not back up to the facts that they had from surveillance that they were doing.

HARLOW: What about the Google searches, Deborah? How specific they were when they were made?

NORVILLE: The Google searches -- yes, the Google search is very troubling. I can't tell you exactly when that Google search was made, that hasn't been reported. This is actually a source that CNN has that develop this information. But there were two things that were troubling to investigators. Not only did he look up, allegedly, how to dispose of a 115-pound woman, he also allegedly looked up, how to dismember a body. And this is yet another example of, you know, we've all seen these crime cases, where you have to wonder, don't people who are contemplating committing crimes realize the digital footprint they leave behind is impossible to erase. They will be discovered if they have looked these things up.

COLLINS: Yes, that's what we were talking about this morning. The fact that those are the searches that have been found here and the evidence. He has been, you know, charged with just with misleading investigators. Do you think that's just in order to hold him in -- as they are figuring out more things, learning about, you know, the actions he took it and where he was in the days after her disappearance?

NORVILLE: Exactly, and it also puts a pin on any other actions that he might be contemplating taking. As we said, there was blood in the basement of the family home. If you have committed a crime, that is something you would want to get rid of. I was surprised when the prosecutor was detailing the items that were purchased at Home Depot, if these were the actions of a guilty individual, you would think you'd be purchasing cleaning supplies, including bleach or something to actually get rid of any DNA material that may be there. I should note that we don't yet know what the results of the DNA testing on that bloody knife might be. But that's something that investigators are obviously working right now to try to develop.

LEMON: Hey, Deborah, you know, we do these stories, and we focus on the clues, and who the suspect is. We have to remember there are families involved and friends and loved ones who are waiting to find out what happened to this woman, and they are all --

HARLOW: And those children, three children.

LEMON: They're going through absolutely hell right now.

NORVILLE: Yes. They're three little boys. And it's interesting, the woman is -- the missing woman is from Serbia. And her mother has granted an interview and says that her daughter called her just after Christmas and asked her to please come to America to visit. She said, I'm 69 years old, I can't move on a dime, I've got to get my medication, et cetera. She now has expressed regret that she didn't honor that request and get to this -- right away. You're right, there's families involved.


LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Deborah. Appreciate it. Make sure --

NORVILLE: Thank you very much.

LEMON: -- you check your local listings for "Inside Edition." Again, congratulations. 35 years, that's quite an accomplishment.

NORVILLE: Appreciate that.

COLLINS: And Deborah, don't think I didn't notice that Georgia hat.

LEMON: That Georgia hat.

COLLINS: I know you're Georgia girl, and I know -- I see that hat in the background. You --

NORVILLE: 65-7. It was a beautiful thing. On a much brighter note.


LEMON: I was going to tell you in the break, but Kaitlan spotted it as well sitting on the table back there.

COLLINS: (INAUDIBLE) I saw it right when came you on. I mean, I was in Indianapolis recovering --

NORVILLE: That was no accident, Kaitlan, you know me.

COLLINS: All right, Deborah, thanks so much.

NORVILLE: Bulldogs.

COLLINS: House Republicans approving a rules package for the 118th Congress. Some lawmakers still don't know the full extent though of what now House Speaker McCarthy promised to those hardliners to get that deal across the finish line. A Republican in his conference is going to join us next.


COLLINS: The House narrowly approved the rules package last night amid concerns about the concessions.