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CNN This Morning

More Classified Docs Found in Biden's Home, Republicans Demand Info; UGA Football Player, Staffer Killed in Car Crash after Celebration; Biden Declares Major Disaster in California as More Rain and Snow Fall; Ukraine: 36 Killed in Russian Strike on Apartment Building; Search Resumes for Missing in Nepal after Fatal Plane Crash; Treasury Secretary Warns: U.S. to Hit Debt Limit This Week. Aired 6- 6:30a ET

Aired January 16, 2023 - 06:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Against those who traffic in racism, extremism and insurrection. A battle fought on battlefields and bridges, from courthouses and ballot boxes, to pulpits and protests.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. King served there as pastor until his assassination in 1968.

All right. That's it for us. CNN THIS MORNING is next. I'm Christine Romans. Have a wonderful day.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): What we don't know exactly yet, whether they broke the law or not, I will accuse the Biden administration of not being transparent. Why didn't we hear about this on November 2, when the first batch of classified documents were discovered?


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's a lot to answer for for the Biden administration.

Good morning.


LEMON: Good morning to you, Poppy. Missing one Kaitlan. She's off today on a very cold day. Freezing, right?

HARLOW: Freezing.

No football this weekend? LEMON: No football. I did no live television this weekend.

HARLOW: Vikings.

LEMON: Just kind of took it easy.

HARLOW: Get over it.

LEMON: Still, we've got to talk about another day, another classified document, it appears. Even more classified material discovered inside President's Biden Delaware [SIC] -- President Biden's Delaware home, giving House Republicans more ammo, giving Democrats headaches. What they're now demanding from the White House, Republicans.

HARLOW: Also, there is yet another storm, if you can believe it, pounding California right now after weeks of relentless downpours, deadly flooding, and several feet of snow. Is there any relief in sight?

LEMON: And tragedy striking the University of Georgia football team, just hours after celebrating their national championship. What we're learning about the crash -- the car crash that killed an offensive lineman and a team staff member. More on all of that in just a moment.

We're going to begin with House Republicans going back on the attack. They're officially demanding information from the White House after even more classified documents turned up inside President's Biden's [SIC] -- President Biden's private home in Delaware.

Over the weekend, White House lawyers revealed the president's staff discovered five additional pages of classified material during a search of the property.

And now the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer, has sent a demand letter to the White House to turn over evidence for a congressional investigation. He is defending his decision to focus the probe on President Biden and not the former president, Donald Trump.


COMER: With respect to investigating President Trump, there have been so many investigations of President Trump, I don't feel like we need to spend a whole lot of time investigating President Trump, because the Democrats have done that for the past six years. So no one's been investigated more than Donald Trump. Who hasn't been investigated is Joe Biden.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): It just shows the hypocrisy and why the American public does not trust their government. You know, Congress has an independent constitutional obligation to oversee all aspects of the Justice Department. And that includes special counsels, as well.

And so we will have a role in overseeing what's transpiring here.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: All right. The Comer part, that's hypocrisy, obviously.

Meanwhile, House Democrats are focused on differences between President Biden's handling of classified material and the former President Trump.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We were delighted to learn that the president's lawyers, the moment they found out about the documents, that day turned them over to the National Archives, and ultimately, to the Department of Justice.

That is a very different posture than what we saw with Donald Trump, where he was fighting for a period of more than eight months to not turn over hundreds of missing documents.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I still would like to see Congress do its own assessment of -- and receive an assessment from the intelligence community of whether there was an exposure of others to these documents, whether there was harm to national security in the case of either set of documents with either president.


LEMON: Let's bring in now CNN's Paula Reid, live in Washington.

Paula, good morning to you.

Even more documents uncovered, and this drip, drip, drip not good for the Biden administration and for Democrats, quite frankly.


But what was interesting here is that the president's team took a different approach. What we've seen over the past week, with these new revelations seemingly every day, is that, instead of letting this news leak out through the media over the weekend, the Biden team got out in front of it.

They announced the discovery of these five additional pages that were among previously recovered documents from Biden's Wilmington home. But we're told not to get too used to the new transparency, because they really want to balance their desire to let us know new information with their other desire, which is to just let this criminal investigation play out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any more classified documents, sir?

REID (voice-over): President Biden, leaving Atlanta Sunday, did not address the discovery of new pages of classified material among the records recovered at his home.


On Saturday, the president's legal team revealed in a statement that five additional pages with classified markings were discovered among the materials previously discovered at his Wilmington residence. As of now, approximately 20 documents have been uncovered at two locations connected to the president.

CNN has learned 10 classified documents were found at his former office in D.C. Among them, information about Iran, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, and those documents included top-secret information.

On Thursday, the White House revealed documents had also been found at the president's Wilmington home in a storage space in the garage and in what was described as an "adjacent room."

Attorney General Merrick Garland also announced Thursday the appointment of Robert Hur to serve as a special counsel to oversee a criminal investigation into the matter.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The document authorizes him to investigate whether any person or entity violated the law in connection with this matter.

REID (voice-over): Hur is a former Trump-appointed U.S. attorney and Trump-era Justice Department official. He will take over from John Lausch, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney who led the initial review of classified documents found at Mr. Biden's office and recommended Garland appoint a special counsel.

Over the past week, new details about the classified documents have leaked out, mostly through media reports, with the White House deferring to the Justice Department.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're just not going to get ahead of the process from here.

REID (voice-over): And the president trying to defend why classified documents were stored in the same garage as his sports car.

BIDEN: My Corvette is in a locked garage, OK? So it's not like they're sitting out in the street.

REID (voice-over): But on Saturday, in what appears to be a shift in strategy, the White House was the first to reveal that additional pages had been found. But that has not stopped Republicans for calling for more investigations.

COMER: We're doing the Biden family influence peddling investigation. And I can tell you, what we've learned just in the last few days from Biden's mishandling of classified documents is that the Biden Center was funded primarily through anonymous donations from China.

REID (voice-over): But Democrats emphasize that Biden and his team have cooperated, while Trump is under investigation for obstruction.

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): To President Trump, who refused to cooperate, who refused to comply with a subpoena, and who ultimately forced the Department of Justice to execute a search warrant to retrieve the classified documents. And that is where we need to be centering this conversation.


REID (on camera): One of the biggest questions right now is the time line. These first documents were discovered back on November 2nd. The Biden team then decided that they would do additional searches in locations where things were shipped during the transition.

Now, that wasn't completed until last Wednesday, nearly two months later, and sources tell us that not every possible location has been searched. So more documents could still be uncovered.

LEMON: Oh, boy. Paula Reid, thank you very much from Washington this morning.


HARLOW: Well, tragedy after the ultimate triumph. A University of Georgia football player and a staff member killed in a car crash this weekend, just a few hours after celebrating the team's back-to-back national championships.

This happened early Sunday morning near the school's campus in Athens, Georgia. It's where we find our CNN's Isabela Rosales, who joins us now.

Reading about this, waking up Sunday morning, it is absolutely tragic. What do we know about the crash?

ISABELA ROSALES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, it is rocking this community. And we're -- we are getting a sense of how this happened from a police statement.

The car, for some reason, veering off the road, striking a power pole and going through these trees right behind me. You can see the downed limbs. And then continuing, striking right here the edge of this apartment complex, where you see that it is now boarded up.

So Willock and LeCroy, they died from their injuries. Two other football program members were inside of that car, as well. They were hurt.

And we are getting new information from "The Athens Banner-Herald" which has identified one of those two members as UGA football player Warren McClendon. And citing his father, he said that the player left the hospital with stitches on his forehead.

Now back to Willock. According to the football roster, he is from New Jersey. He is an offensive lineman, and he played every game this season.

Meanwhile, we are working, Poppy, to learn more about Chandler LeCroy. But here's what we do know about her. According to her LinkedIn, she was a football recruiting analyst for UGA Athletic Association.

Head football coach Kirby Smart, he spoke out about her in a statement, saying, "Chandler was a valuable member of our football staff and brought an incredible attitude and energy every day.

I want you to look at this video from Saturday, showing the team on top of a fire -- a fire engine, just celebrating this national championship victory, a victory parade right here in Athens.

They were so happy. Fans, the community, just so happy.


DANIEL DEWITT, BULLDOGS FAN: It's just heartbreaking, coming off of a celebratory week. The entire Bulldog Nation is -- is at a loss. And I can't imagine what his family is going through.


ROSALES: Yes, and Poppy, just hours before on social media this young player was spending time with Willock, the player allowing him to wear that championship ring, as well -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Our thoughts with their families. Just an absolute tragedy.


HARLOW: Isabela, thanks very much.

LEMON: It certainly is.

A University of Alabama basketball player has been removed from the team after being charged with capital murder. Police arrested 21-year- old Darius Miles and a second man in connection with a shooting near campus that left a woman dead.

The 23-year-old victim was shot while sitting in a car. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a minor altercation.

HARLOW: To California, where they are, if you can believe it, facing even more rainfall after another weekend of disasters across the state. The latest round of heavy rain expected to spill well into today as weather experts warn the over-saturated ground could trigger more flooding and more landslides.

Gov. Gavin Newsom echoed those concerns over the weekend.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): The challenges will present themselves over the course of the next few days rather acutely. Particularly because everything is saturated, particularly because the ground is overwhelmed.

What may appear less significant in terms of the rainfall may actually be more significant in terms of the impacts on the ground and the flooding and the debris flow.


HARLOW: So this weekend's rain the latest in weeks of heavy relentless rain has only added to the devastation that has unfolded there. You've got continued flooding, swollen rivers.

There was also this moment caught on camera. This is in Pescadero, California. The roads were so saturated, that is part of a cliff --


HARLOW: Right? That just fell off.

Meanwhile, winter storm warnings were posted for the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the weekend, the heaviest snow expected to continue through this evening.

And then there was this rescue. Not rain, wind or high surf stopped these crews from saving a driver in La Jolla Saturday evening. While it is unclear how he ended up stranded there, they air-lifted him out of his SUV, hanging halfway off the edge of a cliff.

President Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for the state. It's coming, really, just as needed. California is expected to get much -- a much-needed break in this rain a little bit later this week, an opportunity to really get those recovery efforts under way -- Don.

LEMON: Well, today the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He would have turned 94 yesterday if he weren't gunned down nearly 55 years ago outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.


BIDEN: We have to choose a community over chaos. Are we the people who are going to choose love over hate? These are the vital questions of our time and the reason why I'm here as your president. I believe Dr. King's life and legacy show us the way, and we should pay attention.


LEMON: That's President Biden speaking yesterday about Dr. King's legacy at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

And on this day every year, Americans tend to remember these 35 words: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

But his legacy is so much bigger than just that one quote. Bigger than the March on Washington. Dr. King's legacy was consistently one of nonviolence in the face of oppression, coalition-building and brotherhood of mercy, but also of justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER: Have you all not known our arc through the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.


LEMON: The day before he was assassinated, he spoke of being to the mountaintop, with acknowledging his own mortality.


KING: I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.


LEMON: Well, coming up in our 8 a.m. hour, we're going to talk to his son, Martin III, Martin Luther King Jr. III, about his father's legacy in today's politics, particularly when it comes to voter suppression.

HARLOW: Look forward to that conversation ahead.

All right. Also ahead here on CNN THIS MORNING, the desperate search for survivors after a Russian missile obliterated an apartment building in Ukraine. We'll take you live on the ground in Dnipro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shit! Delta 1943 cancel takeoff clearance. 1943, cancel takeoff clearance.




LEMON: A very close call between two planes at New York's JFK Airport now being investigated by the FAA.


HARLOW: There is palpable grief and anger in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro after a Russian cruise missile slammed into a nine- story apartment building over the weekend. It killed at least 36 people.

One neighbor tells CNN the closer she got, the more it, quote, "looked like hell."

Our Fred Pleitgen is live this morning in Dnipro.

Fred, thank you for being here. Again, civilian targets.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, civilian targets and certainly, many civilians killed; many civilians injured, as well, Poppy.

And I can tell you, being on the ground here, it's been absolutely tragic to see these rescue crews really doing their best. But in the past couple of hours, it's only been dead bodies that they've been pulling from the rubble.

This is already one of the deadliest such incidents since Russia's full-on invasion in Ukraine. And here's what we witnessed.


PLEITGEN (voice-over): The morning brings to light the full extent of the destruction. The residential building, home to dozens of families, annihilated down to the foundation.

Even though rescue crews still work, the chances of finding survivors now, virtually zero.

All night residents watched in fear, anger and grief.

Olha Nevanchamaya (ph) says she passed by the building only about half an hour before it was hit. "There are many friends and people close to me here. Many, many," she says.


Oleyna Loyan (ph), stunned by the scale of the destruction, curses the Russians. "I simply hate them. Children, people died here." And then, she can't speak any more.

Throughout the night, the death toll continued to jump. On top of the many killed, Ukrainian authorities say dozens were injured, many of them children, in just this location in Dnipro, one of many sights in Ukraine Russia targeted with barrages of missiles this weekend.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians say the reason why the damage here is so extensive is that this building was hit with a cruise missile called the KH-22. That's designed to destroy aircraft carrier strike groups.

And obviously, when it hit the building, it completely annihilated it, burying dozens of people underneath.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): The Ukrainians call the attack state terrorism, and the president says rescuers will continue to try and save anyone trapped here.

"Let's fight for every person," President Zelenskyy says. "The rescue operation will last as long as there is even the slightest chance to save a life."

But even the slightest hope has now all but died, and this is essentially a recovery operation. The crews searching for bodies where so many lives were violently ended in an instant.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARLOW: Fred, the Ukrainians say this was a missile that was designed, actually, to destroy aircraft carriers. So you can imagine. No wonder the damage that it did to that building. Do the Ukrainians at this point have any way, in terms of defensive weaponry, to stop these?

PLEITGEN: Yes, you know what? They say they don't. Let me just get out of your way also, Poppy, so we can see a little bit of what's going on behind me while I talk to you.

They say they don't have anything that's capable of stopping these missiles. We have to keep in mind, they have about a two -- a two-ton warhead -- or one-ton warhead -- inside that missile.

And the Ukrainians say that right now, they have nothing to intercept those missiles. They're wildly inaccurate. The Ukrainians are saying that possibly those Patriot systems that the Ukrainians are getting from the U.S., where that training is currently going on, that those could help them shoot those missiles down, because the Patriot systems are simply more long-range.

Now of course, one of the things that the Ukrainians have been saying is that they would need a lot more of those Western air defense systems to give them a better chance to shoot down missiles like the one that were used in this attack here.

But, of course, other missiles, as well.

Right now, they say, as far as this is concerned, they really have no chance of shooting it down. And these missiles really are wildly inaccurate. They're only accurate to within about 500 yards, Poppy.

HARLOW: And so destructive, as we can see. Fred, thank you to you and your team on the ground for that reporting in Dnipro, Ukraine.


LEMON: And now this morning, we go to Nepal, where they are mourning its deadliest plane crash in 30 years. Authorities now scrambling to determine what brought the aircraft down, leaving at least 69 people dead.

The country is often referred to as one of the riskiest places to fly.

CNN's Ivan Watson live in Hong Kong with more.

Ivan, good morning to you. What is the latest?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rescue workers are searching for three of the 72 people who were on board this domestic flight.

It was a Yeti Airlines flight. It was only supposed to be flying about 25 minutes from the capital, Kathmandu, to this city of Pokhara.

And air traffic control lost contact at about the 18-minute mark. There's video shot by an eyewitness of the plane suddenly banking to the left and not even seconds later, the sound of an explosion.

And it crashed into a deep gorge. So the recovery, the rescue effort very complicated, involving ropes and cranes to try to pull people out.

Most of those on board were citizens of Nepal, as well as travelers from countries like Russia, Korea, Australia, Ireland, Argentina, and France.

The rescue workers say they have retrieved the black box, and it is in good condition.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much for that. Ivan Watson, we appreciate it. We'll continue to update.

HARLOW: Debt ceiling drama. A standoff between Republicans and Democrats threatens to crater the U.S. economy. Can they reach a deal?



LEMON: Well, welcome back, everyone, to CNN THIS MORNING.

Coming up, Gen Z, partying like it is 1999. Why they have known what the old folks have been telling us forever about those flip phones. So now Gen Z is suddenly obsessed with flip phones. OK, we'll talk about it. What's behind this trend?

Plus, an American wrongfully detained in Iran is now on a hunger strike. The message he is sending to President Biden.

And how much alcohol is harmful? How much is harmful? We're going to break down the long-term health risks straight ahead.

HARLOW: OK. I've been harping on this for a long time.

LEMON: What is it?

HARLOW: And everyone is telling me, Oh, we have -- it's not going to come till this summer, but now the debt ceiling.

LEMON: All right.

HARLOW: The debt ceiling.

LEMON: Trying to raise the roof.

HARLOW: Yes. Janet Yellen with this letter, warning of really scary times ahead if Congress doesn't do something. The U.S. -- the Treasury Department warning the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as June.


HARLOW: Setting up one of the first major battles on Capitol Hill after Republicans took control of the House. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMER: Republicans were elected with a mandate from the American people in the midterm elections. We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts. So the Senate is going to have to recognize the fact that we're not going to budge.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): The fact of the matter is, we can do deficit reduction. We can deal with our national debt. But at the same time, the last thing we ought to be doing is playing chicken with the American economy.


HARLOW: Joining us now, CNN congressional correspondent, Lauren Fox; CNN chief business correspondent, Christine Romans.

So Christine, let me just begin with you.


HARLOW: What's at stake here, because this letter.