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Failed Former Republican State House Candidate Accused of Orchestrating Four Shootings at Homes of Local Democratic Officials in New Mexico; Republicans Ask Who Might Have Had Access to Classified Documents in President Biden's Possession; Woman Stabs Indiana University Student because She is Asian; Two Planes have Near Miss before Takeoff on Runway at JFK Airport; McCarthy Who Touted Santos Now Says He Had Reservations; Ex-Roommate Of George Santos Speaks On Lawmaker's "Delusions". Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired January 17, 2023 - 08:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: In moments we're taking you live inside a flight simulator to show how this happened.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And did 45-year-old Tom Brady just play his last game in the NFL? What last night's loss means for his future.

Also this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Extra point is pushed wide right.

Trying to stop the run. Easy touchdown. The extra point is missed again.

And now Maher misses again.

He's missed three tonight, four in a row. And he has done it again.


HARLOW: It took five tries. Everyone has a bad day.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

LEMON: Everyone has a bad day, but we hope yours is going well so far. We're going to begin with failed former Republican State House candidate Solomon Pena. He was angry that he lost the election last fall and claimed that the vote was rigged. Now he is in police custody in connection with orchestrating four shootings at homes of local Democratic officials in New Mexico. No one was injured in any of the shootings that happened in Albuquerque. Police say that Pena was the mastermind and allegedly conspired and paid four others to carry out the attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DEPUTY COMMANDER KYLE HARTSOCK, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE: The evidence that we have is not only firearm, but it's also from cellphones and electronic records, surveillance video, and multiple witnesses inside and outside of this conspiracy that have helped us weave together what occurred. On the last shooting, we now have evidence too that Pena himself went on this shooting, and actually pulled the trigger on at least one of the firearms that was used.


LEMON: This particular shooting took place at a State Senator Linda Lopez's home. The gun Pena was using malfunctioned, but authorities say another shooter at the scene shot a dozen rounds. Pena, an election denier, visited three of the targets unannounced in November after he lost his election for State House. Later that month he tweeted in support of former President Donald Trump, declaring that he never conceded his race even though he lost in a landslide 48 points behind his opponent. Here is Albuquerque's mayor.


MAYOR TIM KELLER, (D) ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO: This type of radicalism is a threat to our nation, and it has made its way to our doorstep, right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But I know here we are going to push back, and we will not allow this to cross the threshold. Fundamentally at the end of the day, this was about a rightwing radical, an election denier who was arrested today, and someone who did the worst imaginable thing you can do when you have a political disagreement, which is turn that to violence. That should never be the case.


LEMON: Pena's first target was Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa who said that she discovered the gunshots at her home on December 4th after returning from Christmas shopping. Barboa spoke with CNN THIS MORNING just moments ago.


ADRIANN BARBOA, (D) BERNALILLO COUNTY COMMISSIONER: When politicians at our highest level of government continue to make threats and violence a regular part of public discourse, it has real impacts on our democracy and our real lives. Shots came through my home right where I had just hours before been playing with my granddaughter. It has been painful to be a brand-new grandma and my daughter does such a great job bringing her over, and for the last month-and-a-half hasn't because of this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Those comments coming as, of course, you know what is happening at the White House this morning. They're still dealing with questions about classified documents. You saw the developments happening over the weekend, the documents in President Biden's possession as House Republicans are demanding to know does he have more documents at other locations? So far, his team has searched his two private homes this Delaware, his office at a think tank in Washington. But now multiple sources are telling CNN that additional searches could happen at other properties linked to the president. Close allies of President Biden are saying the White House has been hobbled by unforced errors.

CNN's M.J. Lee is live at the White House. M.J., I know you and our colleague Kevin Liptak have been doing some reporting on behind the scenes at President Biden's frustration at how this is all being handled.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. As the story has consumed the White House over the last week, we are learning that President Biden himself has grown frustrated by what he sees as a story that has overshadowed what had been a positive streak for the administration. And meanwhile for White House aides who for many of whom, remember, didn't even know about the story until a week ago, there is a mood of quiet resignation, that there is a sort of it is what it is mentality as they too wait to see if more classified documents could surface.

And what has been striking in reporting this story over the last week is how even some of the president's closest allies have wondered out loud why the White House hasn't been more forth coming and sooner.


For example, I spoke with former senator Doug Jones, who of course is a close ally of the president. He was actually a top contender to be his attorney general. He told me that the White House had made some unforced errors. He said once you make a statement, "Once you have the facts, you have to be full and complete. They weren't full and complete, gosh, come on, y'all. You have to do a better job when things like this happen, that's exactly what I would say." Of course, he used a different word, as you can see there. Jones did tell me, however, that he does think that the lawyers did handle everything appropriately, at least by going directly to the National Archives once they did find that first batch of classified documents.

COLLINS: And M.J., one question Republicans have had is who could have been around these documents at these locations. I know one thing that was raised over the weekend were Republicans asking the White House if there was some kind of visitor log that they had at these private residences, and the White House responded. What did they say?

LEE: They said that the visitors logs simply don't exist. That was the response we got from the White House Counsel's Office. And the U.S. Secret Service has also said, look, a president's private residence remains private, so there are no visitor logs.

I think in general what we are seeing as sort of a theory of the case from the White House is that they do not think that public disclosure of any information while this investigation is ongoing is productive. They really just don't want to interfere. And I think we're seeing that coming from everyone from the president on down. He spoke at this MLK Day breakfast yesterday, and when he spoke privately with Reverend Al Sharpton, I spoke with him yesterday, he said that he didn't once bring up the classified documents issue. And when he did bring up House Republicans to Sharpton, he said that it wasn't to talk about the investigations that they're promising, but to talk about the fact that he wants to reach out to Republicans to talk about an issue like voting rights. So, again, everyone from the president on down really reticent to discuss this issue in public.

COLLINS: Yes. They say they're doing that as the investigation is ongoing. M.J. Lee, thank you for that update.

LEMON: So an Indiana woman charged in the stabbing attack on an Asian American student allegedly said that she was motivated by race. Billie Davis, who is white, is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery. Police say she told them she stabbed the 18-year-old Indiana University student repeatedly in the head because she was Chinese. Brynn Gingras is tracking the case for us. Brynn, this is disturbing. What happened?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It should not happen. And it did, on Indiana University for a student, an 18-year-old, near the campus in Bloomington, Indiana. So what we're told by police is that 18-year- old was riding the city bus when this suspect was also on the bus, 56- year-old Billie Davis. And as that student was exiting the bus, this suspect gets up with a knife in her hand and either attempts or does actually stab this student seven times, according to the police records before the student was able to get off, received medical care. It's unclear how she is doing this morning.

But now you can see that suspect right there, 56-year-old Billie Davis, she has been arrested and she has been charged with attempted murder, among other charges. And as Don said, she told police she attacked this particular student, saying she did it because she was, quote, Chinese, and also said this, quote, "It would be one less person to blow up our country." That is what police say she actually told them when they interviewed her.

LEMON: So Brynn, you know we have been reporting over the course of the pandemic, the whole idea, remember the China flu and the rise of -- this is just one in an increase of anti-Asian crimes happening in our country.

GINGRAS: And it got worse, of course, just like you're saying. After coronavirus, we were seeing many of these, right. But we were seeing them more in the cities, and there is actually research that was done in the major 16 cities of the United States that from the first quarter of 2020 to 2021, attacks against Asian Americans went up 164 percent. That is an astronomical number.

Now, of course, what you're seeing here is that we know this happens everywhere, but this is seeping into middle America, into a college campus. This obviously, this campus, reeling. They're getting a lot of support, putting out a statement that says, of course, we all stand together, as we do with them as well.

LEMON: Right on. Thank you. Thank you very much. HARLOW: The FAA is opening an investigation into a very near

collision Friday between two planes at Newark's JFK International Airport. The Delta Airlines pilot who was about to take off, the plane full of passengers headed to the Dominican Republic, but had to come to an abrupt stop when an American Airlines plane unexpectedly crossed right in its path on the runway.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delta 1943, cancel takeoff plans. Delta 1943, cancel takeoff plans.


HARLOW: Thankfully nobody was injured in that incident. The flight to Santo Domingo was delayed until the following day, but how did something like this even happen? Let's get a better understanding. Joining us now is a pilot, founder, and instructor at Simtech Aviation, Julian Alarcon. Thank you for being with us. So, how can this happen?


JULIAN ALARCON, FOUNDER AND INSTRUCTOR, SIMTECH AVIATION: We're humans. At the end of the day, we make mistakes. And we eliminate mistakes by training. We as pilots are expected to perform at our highest level every flight that we do. In this case, the American Airlines was at the wrong place at the wrong time, it didn't follow the instructions of air traffic control.

HARLOW: So air traffic would be telling the pilots then in the American Airlines plane, stop, or don't go, right, there is another plane about to take off. And they just perhaps didn't hear? Is that how something like this happens?

ALARCON: You've actually got to backtrack a little bit, because they were given an instruction to hold at a certain intersection. And that intersection is where they were supposed to make the right turn. When they were given the instruction to cross the runway, they crossed the wrong runway at the wrong intersection.

LEMON: Oh, boy. Listen, we don't want to -- the bottom line, this is very scary and could have had dire consequences. How dangerous is this situation like this for everyone involved? Can you show us the simulator?

ALARCON: Of course. The -- it is a very dangerous situation, especially because as JFK and any major airport is pretty big, and we can see here at the intersection this is the runway they were supposed to cross, and they crossed the runway -- the active runway, the runway that airplanes were taking off from. So it is a pretty big deal. And that's why the FAA and the NTSB and the airlines are going to be conducting a very deep investigation not only to know what happened inside the flight deck, but also how to prevent this incident from happening in the future. COLLINS: And I think one question is about the flight recorders that

they have. But one concern that I heard is that they only record a certain amount of time, about two hours, I believe. People have pushed for it to be longer. Is this a situation where it's clear that something like that should be changed? What changes do you believe should come as a result of this? Because, yes, it is a near miss, but it could have been catastrophic.

ALARCON: So, the -- I don't know about changing the rule of two hours. The one thing that I do know is the pilots in the American flight, because this was an incident for the pilot deviation, they are going to be expected to fill out a report. And if any of us, any pilot relies on those reports, that's when actually bigger actions get taken into effect. But at the end of the event, there are going to be -- they're filling out a report, and if anybody lies, that's the biggest deal, because they're going to conduct an investigation, and investigators are very good at what they do in finding out the root cause of the incident.

LEMON: Thanks for unpacking. But we have you here on a simulator. Can you show us what happened? Can you put a scenario together for us? Can you take us through?

ALARCON: Of course. So at the moment, we are just short of the intersection where they were supposed to be holding short and making the right turn. And we can see the signs here where there are on alpha, the taxiway, and they're supposed to make the right on kilo. Would you like me to show you what they were actually supposed to do?

LEMON: Yes, of course.

ALARCON: Yes, so in this case, all they were supposed to do was supposed to be making a right turn here, and they were supposed to be crossing runway three-one left. And I'll bring it to a stop just to point something out. And this is normally an airline technique, and any pilot training will also do the same, before we cross any runways, not only do we have the big signs on the ground, but we also have the runway identifier, and in this case, before we cross the runway, we should have been crossing three-one left. Clear to cross three-one left, and before we cross the runway, we make sure there are no airplanes on the left or on the right coming this way.

LEMON: So then what actually happened?

ALARCON: So this is exactly what was supposed to happen. Let me reposition the simulator. Let me reposition the simulator. So this is actually what ended up happening. They were supposed to be making a right, but they actually continued going straight to the active runway, in this case it was runway four left. And I'll bring it to a stop here. So, the -- while -- if you listen to the audiotapes, you can actually hear the first officer, which is the pilot who normally works the radios, actually saying, clear kilo culture at three-one left, and in this case, they actually were crossing four leftAnd on the map is different and even on the iPad, which all our airline pilots have access to them. We have the chart saying that it's clearly going to be the wrong runway. But incidents do happen. We're humans at the end of the day.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: But Julian, how common --

ALARCON: And that's why we have markings everywhere to minimize this kind of incidents.

COLLINS: How common is something --

ALARCON: Yes, ma'am.

COLLINS: -- like this?

ALARCON: It's not very common. Anywhere near an active runway, it's a -- it's a -- it's a -- we treat it very carefully, it's because of this type of incidents. So, generally speaking, when we're going to cross a runway, all pilots are looking out the window. In the case of the American flight that were going to London, I believe, there should have been three pilots on board. However, it's a team working together, and delays on communication could have had happened, but it's not very -- that doesn't happen very often.


COLLINS: Well, that's good to know. But hopefully --


COLLINS: -- it doesn't happen at all.

COLLINS: Julian Alarcon. Yes, thank you so much for showing us that simulation. That was --


COLLINS: -- that was really interesting.

LEMON: Thank you, Julian. Appreciate it.

ALARCON: My pleasure.

COLLINS: All right. Also, this morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is now claiming he's always had questions about George Santos and his resume. We're actually going to speak to Santos's former friend and roommate, next.


HARLOW: Well now, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says, he's always had some doubts about George Santos's resume. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When were you first made aware about some of these allegations around Santos?

REP. KEVIN MCCHARTHY, REPRESENTATIVE HOUSE SPEAKER: I never know all about his resume or not. But I always had a few questions about it.



HARLOW: They always had a few questions about it. If that is true, he did not share any of those questions or concerns right after election day when he tweeted this, quote, "George Santos will be a great leader and conservative voice for the people," close quote. McCarthy also didn't raise any objections when -- then next week, when he hailed Santos's Jewish heritage in another claim that turned out to be a lie. Here was that moment.


MCCARTHY: I really want to talk about, who's the makeup of this new majority. You heard from some of already, you know, Max Miller in Ohio, George Santos in New York, and you had David Kustoff from Tennessee get reelected. He introduced him. Do you realize we have the largest Republican Jewish Caucus in more than 24 years?


HARLOW: McCarthy's downplayed the revelations about Santos, and how he fabricated, lied about so many details about his background, even as he's come under intense scrutiny, and the scrutiny of prosecutors. And McCarthy acknowledged that he may not get a security clearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: I don't see any way that he's going to have top-secret -- if you're referring to George Santos, he's got a long way to go to earn trust. But the one thing I do know is that you apply the Constitution equal to all Americans. The voters of his district have elected him.


HARLOW: We should note some of the lies from Santos even extended to McCarthy himself after it was reported that earlier in 2021, an aide to Santos was caught impersonating McCarthy's Chief of Staff while soliciting campaign donations.


MCCARTHY: Well, it happened, and I know, they corrected but I was not notified about that until a later date. Yes, I didn't know about until a later date, though, unfortunately.


LEMON: Well, something wasn't adding up. The way George Santos talked about himself and the life he led. That is according to a former friend and roommate, who took this photo of the future congressman. This was back in 2014.

But then Santos went by his middle name back then Anthony Devolder. The former friend Gregory Morey-Parker rented space from him in a Queen's apartment he shared with his family. He even grew close with Santos' mother. You can see them there, right there in that photograph. And according to him, she wasn't pleased with the lifestyle her son was trying to portray. She would roll her eyes and say Anthony and his stories. And Santos faces growing pressure to resign from Congress over his lies. We're learning more about the stories that he told to -- when he was a younger man, and his family's wealth and his business success. We'll continue to follow this story. We're back in the moment.



LEMON: So, as we were talking about just before the break, we're learning more about the lies New York Congressman George Santos told us a younger man about his family's wealth and his business success. His former roommate Gregory Morey-Parker joins us now. And in full transparency, a little technical difficulty there. And so, we're glad you're here and that you're able to hear us loud and clear. Are you good?

GREGORY MOREY-PARKER, FORMER ROOMMATE OF GEORGE SANTOS: Yes, I am. Good morning, Don. Good morning, Poppy.

LEMON: Thank you. Good morning. Thank you so much for joining us. So, you knew Santos for a number of years starting in 2013. How did you end up living in the same house?

MOREY-PARKER: So, my lease in Astoria was up in Queens, and he was like, oh, well, you know, the New York rental market is ridiculous. Come stay with me for, you know, a month or two while we get everything, you know, sorted out, and try to find you a place. And I was like, oh, OK. So, I took him up on it, moved in. It was definitely an interesting, interesting few months.

LEMON: Well, explain that to us. What was he like back then? Why did you say it was interesting?

MOREY-PARKER: Well, he -- I suppose the biggest thing that I took away from it was like just delusions of grandeur. Like he would just go to bars with, you know, like, rolls of $100 bills. And, you know, three days later, he would have no money or, you know, he would constantly be saying, oh, well, you know, I'm going to sell my phone, I'm going to sell my phone. Do you know anybody who wants to buy it? And, you know, I'm like, well, why are you selling it? And he's like, oh, well don't worry about it.

And it's just things just started continuously spiraling, and getting like, kind of ridiculously crazy. You know, his mother was a housekeeper in Manhattan, and it just didn't seem feasible for him supposedly to come from all of this generational wealth, if you will. And what -- why is -- why are you doing the things that you're doing? It doesn't make sense to me.

LEMON: Well, he was -- he had made allegations that he came from generational wealth, and you're saying that his mother was a housekeeper in the city, in Manhattan. So, people are going to wonder -- and also, you know, he -- you knew him at -- through another name, right? The last name Devolder.

MOREY-PARKER: Yes, I've always known him as Anthony Devolder.


MOREY-PARKER: I've never known him as George Santos. I was actually quite surprised, I guess he, you know, went by his middle name and mother's name. But yes, no, I've always known him as Anthony Devolder.

LEMON: So, listen, you know, people, Gregory, they're going to wonder why you're coming out. They're going to say, well, that's his side of the story. And I do need to tell our viewers that we did reach out to George Santos's representatives, his lawyers, and we haven't heard back from them, although we have been trying since this story started, to get an interview with him, he has declined, his representatives have declined, and even his office in Washington. You say something wasn't adding up between the way that Santos talked about himself, and the life that he led, right? Of his name, Anthony Devolder as you knew him, his wealth, and what have you. What else doesn't add up? What else?