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Lisa Marie Presley Dead at 54; Special Counsel to Investigate Biden Classified Docs Case; GOP Lawmakers Have Pounced on the Discovery of More Biden Classified Documents; Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Southern U.S. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 13, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Or debris, like thick, floating plastic bags. That leaves 171 reported UFO sightings still unexplained, so maybe the truth is still out there.


All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. Have a really great weekend, everybody. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Man, that's Lisa Marie Presley, singer, song writer, Elvis' only child. She has died. I was so stunned.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: She's really young.

LEMON: She's just 54 years old. I mean, prime, really. That's young, especially these days with all the medical and -- it's just --

HARLOW: What a life, though. What a life.

LEMON: And her parents, crazy, you know, being the daughter of Priscilla and Elvis.

Good morning, everyone. Hate to start off with sad news, but this morning the tributes are pouring in as we remember Lisa Marie's life and legacy. What caused her untimely death. Our Dr. Tara Narula is standing by to answer questions for us.

HARLOW: So special counsel, another one. Don't be confused. A different special counsel has been named, this in President Biden's classified documents probe. What are the possible crimes, and could the current president be charged?

Plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God. Oh my God. Yes, look. Oh my God. This is the building beside us. Oh, my God.


COLLINS: That is the damage that so many people are waking up to this morning after more than 30 tornados ravaged several states, including my home state of Alabama, as severe weather has been sweeping the South. The damage is likely to take days to survey. We are live in Selma, Alabama, to show you what they are saying this morning.

LEMON: We're going to get you caught up on all of that, but we're going to begin with the shocking and very sad news out of Los Angeles. Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis's only child, dead at the age of 54 after an apparent cardiac arrest.

This morning, we still don't know many details about the cause of death. On Tuesday, Lisa Marie was seen in public at the Golden Globes as the man who played her father in the Elvis biopic won Best Actor. Two days later, she was gone.

Chloe Melas joins us now with the details.

Good morning, Chloe.


Well, people all over the world are mourning the life of Lisa Marie, and so many people saying she really loved being a mom. And that is the big takeaway, especially for me as a mom of two this morning. Here's a look back at her life.


MELAS (voice-over): Singer Lisa Marie Presley, the only daughter of the late Elvis Presley and Priscilla Presley, died Thursday at 54. Her mother confirmed the death in a statement to CNN.

The statement read in part, quote, "The Presley family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Lisa Marie. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time."

Lisa Marie Presley had been hospitalized Thursday morning after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest. Presley was born in 1968 at the height of her father's fame. He died in 1977 when she was just 9 years old.

She had a troubled childhood that led with her acting out and experimenting with drugs. It resulted in her mother sending her to a series of private schools.

She told "The L.A. Times," "I never really fit into school. I didn't really have any direction." The sole heir to her father's fortune, Lisa Marie Presley lived a

colorful life in the public eye, often leading to moments in the tabloids.

LARRY KING, FORMER CNN TALK SHOW HOST: The tabloids have been rough with you.


MELAS (voice-over): She married four times, including high-profile marriages with actor Nicolas Cage and a wedding with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, that grabbed all the headlines. They divorced in January 1996.

Later, in a 2003 interview with Diane Sawyer, Presley said this about Jackson.

PRESLEY: If he wants to lock into you, and he wants to intrigue you or capture you, or, you know, whatever he wants to do with you, he can do it.

MELAS (voice-over): Presley had four kids from two of her four marriages.


MELAS (voice-over): She recorded three studio albums of her own. In 2003 her debut album, "To Whom It May Concern," reached No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold that summer.

She said this about taking on the same career as her legendary father.

PRESLEY: I think I was a little more naive on that front than -- than one would expect. I've been a huge music lover. It's always had a huge impact on me. I want to write. I want to sing. I want to do the same thing for others. How my music will hopefully do that for others when it -- not realizing, you know, what I sort of had to climb. I had an idea a little bit, but I think that I under -- I underestimated.


MELAS (voice-over): Tragedy followed Presley in 2020 when her son, Benjamin Keough, died of suicide at the age of 27.

Last September, she opened up about the grief of that loss, in an essay for a national grief awareness day.

Presley was most recently seen on Tuesday night at the Golden Globe Awards, which she attended with her mother to support the Baz Luhrmann film "Elvis" about her late father. Lisa was asked about the film on the carpet.

PRESLEY: I was mind-blown, truly. I actually had to take, like, five days to process it, because it was so spot on and authentic.

MELAS (voice-over): Austin Butler, who played Elvis in the film, spoke about meeting Lisa Marie.

AUSTIN BUTLER, ACTOR: It hit home when I first met Lisa Marie, because I didn't meet her until after the film. And she -- she hugged me with tears in her eyes, and -- and she just said thank you.


MELAS: It has been such a momentous past few months for the Presley family, with Austin Butler playing Elvis, getting all the rave reviews. And we're headed into Oscar season, where he's expected to potentially be nominated and the film be nominated. And this was really a celebratory time for them.

So it's so sad that now this sad cloud.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Chloe. Appreciate that.

HARLOW: So let's talk about this, because this was a shock. I was just asking Chloe, you know, were people expecting this at all? No.

So Dr. Tara Narula is with us. They say it's an apparent cardiac arrest, that she died after being rushed to the hospital after this apparent cardiac arrest. She was so young.


HARLOW: What would lead to this?

NARULA: So obviously, we've been talking about cardiac arrest a lot lately with Hamlin, and it's important to understand what that means. Because a lot of people think cardiac arrest is a heart attack. They are two completely different entities.

So a cardiac arrest is really a primary electrical problem with the heart, where the heart goes into an arrhythmia where it's not beating effectively or appropriately.

And essentially, what happens is you're not able to pump blood -- the heart is kind of the pump for the blood -- out to the rest of the body: to the brain, to the other organs.

And pretty quickly, within minutes, you can have death result if you're not treated with things like CPR or, potentially, defibrillation.

And we talked about the other day, you know, 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac deaths a year. That survival goes down by about 7 to 10 percent every minute that heartbeat is not restored. Three-quarters of them occur at home.

But this really is, you know, it's another sad, you know, tragic event. And unfortunately, 50 percent of the time, the first manifestation of heart disease is sudden cardiac arrest. So people may not know they had risk factors.

COLLINS: She had been getting medical attention, her family said. Do we know anything else about, you know -- I mean, the fact that she was on the red carpet just two days before this happened, and it would shock a lot of people.

NARULA: And that's, unfortunately, how cardiac arrest and cardiac disease works sometimes. People can look completely fine until they have a heart attack, or a stroke, or a cardiac arrest.

And really, you know, what we know about cardiac arrest is that 70 percent of it is really due to some underlying structural heart disease. Most of it's underlying structural heart disease.

Most of the time it's coronary heart disease, which is blockages in the coronary arteries. But many times, it can be a problem with the heart muscle, where the heart muscle is scarred, or there's failure of the heart muscle.

But sometimes, in about 10 percent of the cases, it can be a primary genetic electrical problem you may have been born with that you weren't even aware of.

And then there's things like recreational drug use or certain medications that can trigger it. So there's a whole host of reasons why someone might have a cardiac arrest.

But one thing is to look for the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and try to screen and treat those. The same risk factors for cardiac arrest are the same ones that we talk about for things like heart attack, so high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, exercise, smoking, all of that.

COLLINS: Yes. Sad for her family, Doctor, though. But thank you for explaining what -- what exactly happened here.

All right. We're going to go to the growing crisis at the White House underway as Attorney General Merrick Garland has now appointed a special counsel to oversee an investigation into the classified documents that were found at President Biden's home and his former private office.

This brings us to kind of a rare moment in American history, with special counsels looking into the sitting president and his immediate predecessor at the same time for similar, different and distinct, but similar matters.

CNN's M.J. Lee is joining us from Washington.

M.J., of course, the White House is facing a lot of questions about the timeline here. What else are we learning about what they found out about these documents and when?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Kaitlan, the White House is definitely dealing with a bit of a messaging problem right now. Take a look at this timeline that we learned yesterday from the attorney general.

It was on November 2nd that the first batch of classified documents were discovered at Biden's private office in Washington, D.C. And then we get to December 20th, when more classified documents were discovered at his Wilmington home.


And then it was on January 9th -- Keep in mind that is this Monday -- that Richard Sauber, the special counsel to the president, first acknowledged in a public statement that there had been misplaced classified documents.

But that statement, remember, only mentioned that first batch and didn't mention the second batch of classified documents that were misplaced, even though we now know that, at that point, Biden's lawyers were fully aware of both the first batch and the second batch, leaving us with a lot of questions that the White House hasn't answered about why they weren't more forthcoming in the first place and why they weren't more forthcoming on Monday night when, again, they released that first statement.

COLLINS: And a big question has been how these documents got where they were. We talked about the former private office. Biden said yesterday that the second document that was found was inside his garage, next to his Corvette.

Has the White House offered any explanation for how the documents got there in the first place?

LEE: Well, you know, this morning the CNN team has done sort of a reconstruction of the earliest days of 2017. This is, of course, when the vice president back then, Joe Biden, was sort of sprinting through the final days of him being in office.

And what we learned is that he had an incredibly busy last few weeks and few days of the vice presidency, including a last-minute trip to Ukraine, going to Davos, the surprise Medal of Freedom ceremony that was given to him by the president then, President Barack Obama.

And we are told that that made everything so much more hectic. And there were lower-level assistants, lower-level staff who were mostly involved in packing up his belongings. But there were, of course, several offices that had to be packed up and all of this made things so much more hectic and so crazy. And Kathy Chung, the executive assistant at the time, we now know was one of the people that was interviewed as a part of this process, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. And they still haven't said who exactly it was that packed and moved these materials.

M.J., when this special announcement came down yesterday, the special counsel announcement, was the White House caught off-guard by it or had they kind of been bracing for this?

LEE: You know better than anybody else that so often, people talk about the circle of advisers around Biden being incredibly small. Well, the circle of people who has known about the misplaced classified documents situation has been extraordinarily small. And what we have learned is that people both inside the White House

and around the White House have been really completely in the dark about this entire situation. And they have been privately expressing frustration that they don't know anything. They're just having to wait.

They certainly couldn't answer reporters' questions. And yesterday when all of this came down with the special counsel, we also sensed frustration that they felt like the White House counsel's office have let things become sort of a drip, drip, drip situation.

Of course, what they're ultimately hoping is that this review will show that all of these documents were inadvertently misplaced.

COLLINS: Yes. They seem confident in that. M.J. Lee will continue on this. Thank you so much.

Let's get reaction off of Capitol Hill. Let me bring in Jessica Dean.

Jessica, good morning, once again and there's more to this story that we started reporting this week. What's the reaction now from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine, Don, they're eager to talk about this. But it depends on who you're talking to, right?

Democrats really want to frame this as something very different than what is going on with former president Donald Trump. Republicans eager to pounce on this. They just got this new line of attack kind of in their laps, especially House Republicans as they take over the House and begin their oversight of the Biden administration.

But let's go to the Senate for a second. We did hear from the Senate Judiciary, the ranking member and the chair of that committee, Dick Durbin, of course, the chair as the Democrat. He said, "Rather than acting as the president's personal lawyer like Bill Barr, Attorney General Garland's appointment of a special counsel assures the American people that this investigation will be done fairly and with integrity."

And Lindsey Graham, the Republican from South Carolina, he said, quote, "The bottom line is we need to fully understand what happened in both cases with Presidents Trump and Biden to make sure our system works in a way that protects our national security interests."

But again, Don, the Senate is out and has been out for the last couple of weeks since they were sworn in. They'll be back a week from now. But in the House, they were in yesterday.

And Kevin McCarthy, the House speaker, just had his first news conference. He was very eager to talk about this and to talk about the oversight and to talk about what Republicans, a lot of Republicans especially in the House consider a double standard here.

LEMON: So beyond this, there are other investigations that Biden could face on Capitol Hill, correct?

DEAN: Absolutely. And that's what House Republicans have been promising. That's what they're working toward now.

Of course, they just voted for this committee, the special select subcommittee to focus on what they call the weaponization of the federal government. That's the DOJ, the FBI, of course, entities that have been investigating former President Trump. So we're looking to see that ramp that up.

We know that the chairman of the Oversight Committee, James Comer, has already reached out to the National Archives and the White House for documents surrounding all this. You can expect all of that. Afghanistan, pulling out of Afghanistan; COVID-19; Hunter Biden. These are all topics we're going to hear more and more about in the coming weeks and months -- Don.


LEMON: Better believe that. Thank you, Jessica. Appreciate it.

HARLOW: Well, Republicans are now pouncing on Biden for these classified documents. Some went out of their way to downplay former President Trump's potential mishandling of classified documents. Here's a reminder.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): What I've seen that the National Archives was concerned about Trump having in his possession didn't amount to a hill of beans.

I don't know what documents were at Mar-a-Lago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it fair to say that investigation will be a priority?

COMER: That will not be a priority.

This is very concerning. I mean, this is now the second location that the president was in possession of classified documents. Look, what's the vice president doing with classified documents?

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): This is so outrageous that this has to rise to the level of there better not -- this better not be a clerical issue between the archivist and the former president.

I've been in the Oval Office with the president. I'd be very surprised if he has actual documents that rise to the level of immediate national security threat.

These facts and circumstances are just absolutely outrageous. I mean, this is completely mishandling of classified information. Why did he have these documents? When did he get them? Did he get them when he was vice president and then take them with him when he left?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to hold hearings?

TURNER: It's possible that we will hold hearings on them.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If they try to prosecute President Trump for mishandling classified information after Hillary Clinton set up a server in her basement, there literally will be riots in the street. I worry about our country.

If there's not a special counsel appointed to find out how this happened with President Biden regarding classified information, there is going to be a lot of -- it will hurt the country.


HARLOW: OK. So let's take a look at Democrats for their part overall, a bit more consistent. They say they are concerned about the Biden documents. But they also say that there's a false equivalency. Look at this.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The fact that they were in an unsecure place that is guarded with nothing more than a padlock or whatever security they had at a hotel is deeply alarming.

I think it's concerning whenever classified documents are somewhere they shouldn't be, but we see no evidence of deliberate intent or obstruction of justice, as we see in the case of Donald Trump and Mar- a-Lago.

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): If I take documents out of that facility. I have committed a felony. And if a president takes them out of a facility, he too, has broken the law.

Classified information needs to stay in secure spaces. So we'll wait to see the facts. But, you know, classified information needs to be in secure spaces.

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): This is likely criminal what has happened at Mar-a-Lago. And you have to wonder why was he hiding these documents, even when they were requested.

But you also have to wonder with someone who you cannot trust like Donald Trump what else is there?

Of course, I'm concerned. I think the president is concerned. That is, obviously, you know, unintentional and outside of the requirements of our intelligence laws. Classified information must remain in secured compartments.

But cooperation is coming from the Biden administration and the president's lawyers, and there was zero cooperation from Donald Trump, who tried to do everything possible not to cooperate.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: So a taste there on both sides. Ahead, we are happy to be joined just a little bit later in the show by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He will be live in studio. We'll get his thoughts on all of this, the special counsel investigation.

COLLINS: A lot of questions there for how they're responding to it then and how they're responding to it now.

LEMON: It's politics.

COLLINS: It's also the law. It's the law.

LEMON: I'm just saying it --

HARLOW: It's national security. It's what was in them.

LEMON: I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's politicians being politicians, which is in this moment, I think it's everyone should want transparency. Everyone should have the same rules for -- the Democrats should have the same rules for the Democrats. Republicans should have the same rules for the Republicans.

If President Joe Biden did something wrong, he should pay the consequences. Donald Trump should pay the consequences. And there should be no, you know, trying to equivocate on both sides.

They did something wrong. Documents were found in places where they should not be found.


LEMON: Right?

HARLOW: Yes. Bottom line.

COLLINS: We'll see what Schumer says about it.

Also this morning, we're checking in on the South, because deadly storms and dozens off tornados there have left at least seven people dead, a wide trail of damage. We're going to take you to the hardest- hit areas and show you that, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just out of nowhere, I heard a sound I never heard before. It sounded like a freight train come through here. And the wind picked up so strong I had to jump out, and I ran out, because everything was shaking like -- like never before.


COLLINS: This morning at least seven people are dead after powerful storms, including 35 tornados ripped through the South yesterday. A state of emergency has been declared in six Alabama counties and the entire state of Georgia.

Officials have gotten reports of destroyed homes, downed trees and downed power lines across Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky. In Georgia, sadly, a 5-year-old was killed after a tree fell on the car that he was in, crushing him.

Now, more than 35 million people are under a severe storm threat as of today.

CNN's Ryan Young is live in Selma, Alabama, with more.

Ryan, you know, in Autauga County where a lot of these deaths where, that is where I'm from. I was checking on all my family members yesterday. A lot of them said that they felt like this came out of nowhere. They did not know it was going to be that severe yesterday.

I know Selma where you are got the worst of it. What are you seeing on the ground?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, interesting enough, I talked to my family members who live in this area, and they said pretty much the same thing.

This storm was intense. It was big, and it hit hard.

In fact, look at where I'm standing. You can see the size of this box truck that we're next to, that was turned over. There's siding all around this area that's been blown off of roofs, all across this area.

And of course, as we're able to go through this area this morning, it's still dark. You can see just the destruction that's been left behind.

But you keep hearing story after story where people were terrified when this storm hit. They ran for cover in several different businesses.

Look at the place that I'm standing in front of. It is just crushed, not only the windows, but the roof is off of it.


Listen to this woman talk about how terrifying it was when this all went down to her out of the blue.


DEBORAH A. BROWN, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We had to run for cover. We had to go run and jump in the closet. Oh my God, oh my God. Y'all look. Oh, my God. This is the building beside us. Oh my God.


RYAN: Well, you can look from above. This is across the train tracks here. When you talk to people in this area, they're talking about the fact

that not only were they scared and terrified but just how much debris was being blown all over the place.

We've driven about three miles in this general area down the main thoroughfare through Selma. And you can see just what's left behind in terms of the damage.

Of course, they're saying they're going to be doing more assessments this morning, because first light is coming. But we do know power companies have been surging in this area to restore some of the power.

But phone service has been disconnected for a lot of people in terms of cell phones. Power's been disconnected. And trees are down on several streets that are also black, so you can understand, it is dangerous to drive at this point. As we continue to do this assessment, we'll bring you more information. But obviously, a lot of damage in a short period of time.

COLLINS: Yes. Unfortunately, it's an area that is all too familiar with that kind of damage, Ryan.

We're thinking of those six people --

YOUNG: Absolutely.

COLLINS: -- who lost their lives this morning. We'll check back in with you as the sun's coming up. Thank you.

LEMON: Everything OK with your family?

COLLINS: Everyone is OK. But you know, it's -- I mean, you know from being from the South this is something that you go through. And it's - You hear about these storms, and I text every single person. I have all of them on Find my Friends, so I check and see, you know, where's my little brother, where's this person. You have to really check on everyone.

LEMON: They do come out of nowhere.

COLLINS: Yes, and they come -- and that's the worst part. So you can't always know when it's going to be that bad.

HARLOW: Our thanks to Ryan. Glad everyone is OK in your family.

Ahead, Vladimir Putin getting frustrated publicly with his own government officials asking, quote, why are you fooling around when it comes to getting more military planes. We'll play it for you, ahead.

LEMON: Plus, the intense battle for Soledar in Eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of civilians trapped as their town hangs in the balance. Our Clarissa Ward is live on the ground in Kyiv.