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Biden Aides Find Second Batch of Classified Documents; NY GOP Calls on Santos to Resign Over Web of Lies to Voters; Some GOP Hardlines in Speaker Battle Get Key Committee Assignments; Missing Woman's Husband Described as 'Sociopath' in Court Documents. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired January 12, 2023 - 06:00   ET


ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The bulk of the concern, however, is really going to be damaging winds and the potential for some large hail for cities like Atlanta, Pensacola, as well as New Orleans.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Allison Chinchar. We're still -- still watching all of that chaos and damage in California. Thank you for that.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So I'm just going to leave it there. Want to be prudent here. This is under review by the Department of Justice. I'm not going to go beyond what the president shared yesterday. I'm not going to go beyond what my colleagues at the White House counsel shared with all of you, as well.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Not really many answers there, but a lot of questions about classified documents and a lot of "no comments" from the White House.

Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off today. It's Kaitlan and I in New York City. But we've got a lot to cover in Washington.


LEMON: You could be in Washington again today with all the news.

COLLINS: We brought Washington here, basically. There is so much news.

LEMON: Well, we're -- obviously, we're talking about President Biden's legal team finding another batch of classified documents. The new revelation now intensifying Republicans' attacks on the president.

COLLINS: Also, Congressman George Santos is under pressure to resign from members of his own party. Hear him respond in his own words. And Kevin McCarthy side deals, already going into effect. A handful of

detractors now on top committee assignments. Who got the sweet end of the deal?

We're going to talk about all of that.

We're going to begin with the fallout from the second batch of classified documents found by President Biden's legal team at a separate location used by Biden after his time as vice president.

It presents a growing political crisis for the president and for Democrats. The latest revelation fueling Republicans' claims that the -- that Donald Trump is being targeted, receiving unfair treatment as he's being investigated by a special counsel for classified material found at Mar-a-Lago.

It is a huge opening for the new pro-Trump House majority, now poised to investigate Democrats, though insist that Biden and Trump cases are not one and the same.

CNN's Paula Reid live in Washington.

Paula, the different story yesterday. A different story the day before, and now here we go again. It is growing. What do we expect to know about these documents in the second batch? What are we finding out?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know much. And part of that is because the White House is making a strategic decision not to get out in front of this matter, and as you saw at the briefing there. not to answer questions, and instead, to let things leak out through the media.

Now, here's what we've learned from our reporting. And that is that Biden attorneys have found a second set of documents that include classified information at a second location.

The first location, of course, was an office here in D.C. As we reported, Biden's lawyers were clearing out that office back in November and uncovered what we've learned were ten classified documents, including information about Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom, and those included top-secret documents.

Now we've learned that was only known by a small group of advisers. But after once they made that discovery, that prompted them to search other locations. But at this point, we have so many questions about this new batch. What is in them? How many were they -- were there? Where were they located? And the biggest question right now: is this it?

The White House has been very careful not to say definitively that that first batch that was discovered was all there was.

But also, another big question right now -- not for us but for Attorney General Merrick Garland: whether or not to appoint a special counsel to just take this on. But the fact that we now have documents in more than one location, that seems to strongly lean in favor of appointing a special counsel. But that's a decision for him, and who knows when we'll get that answer?

LEMON: And of course, we said the GOP is pouncing. Paula Reid, thank you very much. We appreciate that.

And now this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you step down?


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I will not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys, we're going to need a little bit of room.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New York Republicans are calling you a disgrace. You will not resign?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why won't you resign?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're trying to get in the elevator. Excuse us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- top committees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. Shot by Ruger (ph).


COLLINS: That is life on Capitol Hill for one of New York's newest Congressmen, George Santos, who is under growing pressure from members of his own party, his home state to resign this morning.

The pressure is not just coming from Democrats, as we've noted. It's Republicans in Congress and his home district on Long Island, who now say that they do believe he is not fit to serve.


JOSEPH G. CAIRO, CHAIRMAN, NASSAU COUNTY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE: George Santos' campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies, fabrication. He's disgraced the House of Representatives, and we do not consider him one of our Congresspeople. Today, on behalf of the Nassau County Republican Committee, I am calling for his immediate resignation.



COLLINS: Those calls for his resignation come as we are now getting a look at his fabrications in black and white. This is a copy of the resume that Santos submitted to the Nassau

County Republican Committee in 2020. It's been obtained by "The New York Times." It says that he doubled revenue growth at Goldman Sachs, which did not happen. The company says it has no record of him actually working there.

It actually says he graduated college with a nearly perfect GPA from Baruch. That also never happened. Same with the MBA that he claims he has; also not real.

So let's bring in CNN's Jessica Dean this morning. She is live on Capitol Hill, where you just saw George Santos facing those questions about whether or not he's going to resign.

But the big question, of course, Jessica, is what congressional leaders are saying? What is Kevin McCarthy saying about whether or not he should step down from his new role?


Kevin McCarthy talking about this yesterday, really saying that it's up to the voters to decide, that they elected George Santos, that he wants to stand by the Constitution, that it is up to the voters to decide and that he is likely to serve on some of these less prominent committees, actually get committee seats. So that's what leadership is saying.

They've also said they want to deal with this internally.

But the facts are that the calls this morning for his resignation continue to grow. And as you just laid out, these aren't just Democrats. And just to give everyone the big picture right now, here's what we know.

Federal prosecutors are looking into George Santos's finances. We know that in the nation of Brazil, they have reopened a fraud case against him. Two House Democrats from New York have filed a formal House ethics complaint against him.

We know that there's been an FEC complaint filed against him. So there is more and more of this coming out every day.

And now we are hearing from House Republicans who are calling on him to resign, as well. I'll let you listen to a couple of them.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): If we want to talk about election fraud, then we can look no closer than New York's 3rd Congressional District right now.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): The fact that he claimed that he was Jewish, that he had family who escaped the Holocaust, that's just not something that I can tolerate.


DEAN: And again, the Nassau County GOP there in his home state of New York calling on him to resign, as you said earlier, and really just laying it out that they don't want to be associated, Kaitlan, with him at all.

And you saw that scrum there at the beginning that you played. I was in that. We ran after him down the hall. He simply would just say, "I will not resign," and then seem generally annoyed that we would be even asking him why this is a problem or why he would resign.

COLLINS: They -- He even lied about being on a volleyball team at Baruch College. I just --

DEAN: Right. That he led to a championship.

COLLINS: I mean, it just never ends. And I know your questions won't either. Jessica Dean, thank you so much.

DEAN: Yes.

LEMON: Well, it is time for the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to make good on promises made to Republican hardliners who initially opposed his nomination. His election after historic five-day, 15-ballot floor fight, came with a list of concessions made to GOP hold-outs, in exchange for their support.

Now some of those deals are going into effect. And let's talk about it now with CNN's senior political analyst, anchor and CNN senior political analyst John Avlon. He's here with me now.

So how are these -- Good morning to you. How are these concessions playing out?

JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: All right. Well, let's first of all remember, these are the core holdouts, the 20 or so holdouts, vast majority election deniers. These are the folks who took the floor fight for Kevin McCarthy back to a standard we haven't seen since before the Civil War.

Already, we're seeing rewards coming to these folks.

So six members of this holdout group getting plum positions on the Appropriations Committee, including Andrew Clyde, who described January 6th as a tourism day at the Capitol, and Financial Services Committee. Very powerful committees.

But let's also take a look at the key concessions. These are just some of them. This is the deals that Kevin McCarthy made to finally get the votes across. Right?

So first of all, any member can call a motion to vacate the speaker's chair. Freedom Caucus representatives, many of whom are on that page, increased representation on key committees.

This is the debt ceiling we've been talking so much about, right? This is a sign of coming attractions. We're going to have a collision course.

Discretionary spending at '22 levels. A committee to investigate the weaponization of the federal government. And of course, 72 hours to review bills before they come to the floor, which sounds common sense but can gum up the works.

LEMON: I've got to ask you about this. From a prominent Republican, I got this note that says, "Representatives Clyde and Cloud were appointed to the Appropriations Committee. These guys were rewarded for bad behavior during the speaker's vote. This is a stunning and part of a handshake deal between the" -- holdouts. I won't use the word that they used. They said, "Nut." I will say it, "nuts" -- "and McCarthy, which they will never admit to publicly."

What do you think about that? Do you believe that's true?

AVLON: Well, here's the evidence that it's true. You're talking to a source in the Republican conference who's saying this is happening. It is already happening.

We've got to say, the committee assignments aren't even fully doled out yet. But to see folks who put Kevin McCarthy and the country, really, through that kind of chaos get rewarded with Appropriations, it's a very big deal.


What I also want to do -- This is sort of a bonus -- is look at where independent voters say what the Republicans in Congress should be focusing on.

Remember, independent voters, they're the plurality in American politics. They're the folks who actually swung towards Democrats this cycle. So Republicans got to keep their wishes in mind.

Interestingly, 71 percent of independents say, in this new CBS poll, that they want Republicans in the House to work with Biden and Dems to enact policies that everyone can agree on. Right? Come together.

By the way, incidentally, they say the same thing about Democrats in the Senate.

They say -- 67 percent say protecting Social Security; 65 percent of independents say support U.S. aid to Ukraine. Far from a done deal. Fifty-nine percent say reducing crime.

LEMON: Those are high numbers.

AVLON: Those are high numbers. Take a look, though. Border.

Only 25 percent say investigate Hunter Biden. Only 20 percent say restricting abortion access.


AVLON: And only 10 percent of independent voters say Republicans in the House should focus on loyalty to Donald Trump. So there's a disconnect there that goes to the heart of their political problems.

LEMON: John Avlon, thank you very much. We appreciate it.


COLLINS: Yes. Turning to another story this morning, it has now been 12 days since she disappeared, and there is still no sign of the Massachusetts mother of three, Ana Walshe.

As the search is intensifying for her, investigators are turning their focus to her husband's past.

Court documents show that Brian Walshe was described as a sociopath and untrustworthy during a 2019 legal dispute over his father's estate.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live in Massachusetts this morning for CNN THIS MORNING.

Jason, I know that they are basically going through, essentially, every part of his past with a fine-toothed comb. He's pleaded guilty -- not guilty to a charge of misleading investigators about his whereabouts around the time she disappeared. What are they looking at right now and where actually is he right now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now he is in custody, state custody, where he will remain until we get more information about how that investigation is proceeding.

You were talking about those court documents. Really, after combing through a number of those court documents, Kaitlan, there were a number of red flags there that we saw, where basically Brian Walshe was accused, back in 2019, of stealing money from his father and being prone to violence.


CARROLL (voice-over): As investigators are now in the process of testing items that could be connected to the disappearance of Ana Walshe, a clearer picture is emerging of her husband, Brian, and his troubled financial past.

Court documents show he was involved in a bitter legal battle over his father, Thomas Walshe's estate. Friends, as well as Walshe's nephew, alleging in signed affidavits the elder Walshe and his son had been estranged for years after Brian Walshe absconded with almost $1 million from Dr. Thomas Walshe.

Court records also say because of the alleged theft, it required Dr. Thomas Walshe to continue working past the age at which he had wished to retire, as a significant amount of his savings were stolen and never returned.

CARROLL: And that's part of the reason why these court documents say Walshe's father cut his only son out of his will in the years before his death in 2018. CARROLL (voice-over): Despite that, Walshe took steps to take control

of his father's estate while saying in a sworn affidavit he and his father had been estranged several times over the years, but says they mended their relationship.

Ultimately, Walshe's legal efforts were unsuccessful. A judge ruled against him.

But those same documents revealed more information about Walshe's past, including that at some point, he had checked himself into a mental health facility.

His father's friends calling him a sociopath in court documents dated in 2019, saying, "Brian is not only a sociopath but also a very angry and physically violent person. I want nothing to do with him."

These allegations surfaced years before Walshe pleaded guilty to federal charges of selling fake Andy Warhol paintings, the victim of the fake sale saying Walshe was very convincing.

RON RIVLIN, ART DEALER WHO WAS SOLD FAKE WARHOL PAINTINGS BY BRIAN WALSHE (via phone): He was very calculated, almost genius about how he went about things.

CARROLL (voice-over): That troubled past only increasing the scrutiny around the disappearance of his wife.

A bloody knife found inside the family home, law enforcement sources sources telling CNN a hacksaw and cloth materials with apparent bloodstains found at a nearby trash facility.

The couple's friends say nothing seemed out of the ordinary during a New Year's Eve celebration, but now coming to terms with what could be the outcome they had feared.

ALISSA KIRBY, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: I keep praying that, in all these trash facilities, that facility, that she's not found there. And really so that, you know, we do have somewhere to go to honor her and, like -- and for her children to have somewhere to go to honor her.

CARROLL (voice-over): If someone did do something to Ana Walshe, in Massachusetts, the law does not necessarily require prosecutors to show a motive for a crime.


MARTHA COAKLEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Prosecutors like to be able to show a motive. Again, I think it makes more sense to people if there is a motive.

But as a matter of law, it's not required to prove a motive in most cases.


CARROLL: And Kaitlan, obviously, there is a great deal of concern for Ana Walshe's three children. Right now, they're in the custody of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Meanwhile, the park where I'm standing right now, this will be the scene of a candlelight vigil for Ana Walshe. That will be later this afternoon -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. We're thinking of her friends and family. Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

LEMON: Just awful.

COLLINS: It really is.

LEMON: Especially with the kids involved. As you said, friends and family. I can't imagine what they're going through.

COLLINS: I know. Three sons, ages 2 to 6. They're so young.

Still ahead this morning, there may be a rough Wednesday for Wall Street. Two major firms are laying off employees. We'll tell you what it could mean for you, for Main Street.

LEMON: And we're going to speak with a New York Republican state senator, adding her voice to the chorus calling for George Santos to resign.


JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: New York Republicans called on Congressman George Santos to resign. And Santos responded saying he won't. But since it's Santos, that means he will, maybe.




PATRICIA CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK (R), NEW YORK STATE SENATOR: He's the antithesis of what every person behind me and next to me is. It is a great stain on the Republican Party of Nassau County today that he worked with us. He does not represent our values, our commitment to be honest, hardworking government servants.



COLLINS: It's the strongest condemnation from Republicans so far of freshman Congressman George Santos over his many lies to voters.

State and county Republicans in New York are calling on Santos to resign just days after he was sworn into office.

At the national level, though, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has resisted calls push him out of Congress and even saying that Santos is likely to get a low-tier -- lower tier, at least -- committee assignment.

Joining us now is one of the New York Republicans that you just heard from, State Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, who is calling on George Santos to resign.

Good morning, Senator, and thank you for joining us on this really important issue. I wonder, do you believe that George Santos has violated public trust?

CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK: Good morning, Kaitlan.

Yes, I do. We put ourselves out there. We campaign on our background, our credentials, and why we believe that we would be an effective representative of a district.

Everything that George Santos told us is false. His resume, right from the smallest things of, you know, whether or not he graduated college, is completely false that we now know. And that's what people looked at and used as determination of whether or not to vote for him.

So the most basic comments and things that he made, even about being Jewish, those have formulated every voter's decision. And yes, I believe he has violated that trust by not giving us accurate information.

COLLINS: Yes. We're looking at this resume that's been obtained by "The New York Times," and you're right. It seems like almost every single thing on it is a lie. It talks about working at Goldman Sachs. He obviously didn't do that.

But he even told people he played on the championship-winning volleyball team at a college that he did not go to, we've now learned. I wonder, are you concerned that there's more he's lied about?

CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK: I agree. Because that's -- That's not something that a voter would look at to determine whether or not to vote for him. So why did he feel the need to come up with those -- those embellishments, as he's called them, but they're outright lies.

Why did he feel the need to come up with a story about being Jewish, about his ancestors escaping the Holocaust? Those are extremely offensive. And I think those have to be viewed very, very harshly.

But there are so many things he didn't have to tell us. He made up lies that had no bearing on his qualifications. And then you have to wonder what else is he lying about.

COLLINS: I wonder if Republicans vetted him enough. Do you feel like you vetted him enough? And does this change how the Republican Party in New York is going to look at candidates going forward?

CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK: Absolutely. Chairman Joe Cairo from the Nassau County Republican club has absolutely taken responsibility for the fact that -- that he should have vetted him differently.

We received resumes for George Santos in 2020 from the Queens County Republican club. We took it as a sort of an endorsement from Queens, that they had vetted him and that they believed he was qualified.

Unfortunately, we now know that he lied about even the most basic things. And I know that my county and my chairman is absolutely going to change the process when they have new candidates to vet for -- for these positions.

I mean, certainly, we get a resume. We interview them by a panel. You know, I was vetted by -- you know, interviewed by five, six people before I ever was a candidate for the Nassau GOP.

And I know that we will have to change that procedure to make sure this never happens again, because this is certainly very troubling.

COLLINS: Do you want to see Speaker Kevin McCarthy back up your calls for George Santos to resign?

CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK: I do. I think that I think he has an obligation to make sure that the 3rd Congressional District is represented by an honest person and a person of his word.

How will we ever trust anything that George Santos says going forward, based on -- on what's gone on? And I think the Congressional district deserves a better representative.

COLLINS: One of the concerns that Republicans on Capitol Hill that I've spoken to have, is that basically if they do say he should resign and he does resign, that then there's going to be a special election and it's a swing district. And they're worried Democrats could pick up that seat.

Are there back-up Republican candidates that you have in mind that could run if George Santos does resign?


CANZONERI-FITZPATRICK: I don't think that that has been considered yet. The seat is not vacant. If it does come to fruition that he's -- the seat is vacant, then -- then we'll look for qualified candidates.

But as of right now, I know there's been some names thrown around, but I don't believe that anybody is being considered seriously at this point, because the seat has -- has not been vacated yet.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, if someone does, we will look at their resume. New York state Senator Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, thank you for joining us this morning on these really important perspectives.


LEMON: I commend her for what she's doing, for standing up. It would be great if Kevin McCarthy had the backbone to do exactly what she's doing.

COLLINS: And you -- one thing that he says is, well, the voters elected him to serve. But yes, but they elected him based on a mountain of lies. LEMON: Based on a lie. Based on a lie.

COLLINS: You know, they didn't -- it's not like they elected him, knowing he has lied.

LEMON: We're looking at this resume, wondering, is there anything accurate on this resume? Is -- is anything real? You don't know.

COLLINS: A fair question.


COLLINS: All right. Also this morning, House Republicans have proposed a bill. They actually passed a bill that would -- they were proposing a bill that would abolish the IRS after calling on the rescinding that funding that passed as part of that bill last fall for thousands of new IRS agents. What that would mean for you, the taxpayers, ahead.

LEMON: And new this morning, the nurses' strike in New York is over. What we're learning about the deal that is bringing off the picket line and back to hospitals -- bringing them off the picket line and back to hospitals.