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CNN This Morning

Ukraine's Interior Minister Among 18 Dead in Helicopter Crash; Husband Charged with Missing Mother's Murder; Police: Pena Visited Homes of Dems Before Targeting them in Plot; Conspiracy Theorist Marjorie Taylor Gets Powerful Committee Assignments; Santos Lands Small Business Committee Seat Despite Lies on Resume; White House Counsel Struggles with Questions about Biden Doc Case; Leslie Jones Debuts as First Guest Host of 'The Daily Show'. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 18, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Snow in spots. But there you go. There's the rain across parts of the Deep South, as we expect.


Back out to the West. A little bit of light snow. But for the next few days after this, dry -- D-R-Y -- for California.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That is some good news. All right. Thank you so much.


ROMANS: Nice to see you, Chad Myers. Have a great day, Chad.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Christine Romans.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't live here anymore.

PENA: OK. Well, the public records says she owns it. Do you know where she lives?


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, that is very scary.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Talk about committing your crimes on camera.

LEMON: Dumb criminals, but I mean, still frightening.

Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off. It's just Kaitlan and I today.

And we're reacting to this -- that chilling surveillance video. That's an election denier, an election who lost a race. He's caught on camera searching for Democratic lawmakers, not long before he allegedly sent gunmen to shoot up their homes.

COLLINS: And also this morning, the husband of a missing Massachusetts mother has been charged with her murder. Investigators are expected to release new evidence just hours from now.

Also this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hasn't committed a crime. He hasn't been indicted on anything at this point and in this country you're innocent until proven guilty. So we're going to treat him like any other member and, you know, keep an eye on him.


LEMON: OK. Well, his life story was fake, his resume chock full of blatant and bizarre lies, but that didn't stop Republican leaders from putting George Santos on two congressional committees.

A lot to get to in the hours ahead. We're going to begin with tragic breaking news out of Ukraine. A helicopter crash near Kyiv killing at least 18 people, including several top Ukrainian officials who were on board.

Among the dead, a member of President Zelenskyy's cabinet. The chopper went down near a kindergarten and we're told the crash also killed children who were on the ground, sadly.

Straight to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is live at the crash scene in Brovary, Ukraine. Clarissa, good morning to you. What are we seeing? What is the latest there?


Well, as if Ukraine has not seen enough tragedy and horror, this morning, we are here outside this kindergarten. You can see there's an ongoing effort to try to comb through the debris and the wreckage of this kindergarten to see if any other children or teachers may have been killed, may be injured, or beneath the rubble.

Basically, what happened was about 8:20 this morning, local time, a helicopter carrying nine officials, including the interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, his deputy, the secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, and six others basically appeared to have lost control somehow of the helicopter and crashed into this kindergarten.

And what we know now is that 18 people were killed, at least. That includes all nine people who were on board the helicopter. We saw earlier on at the scene at least four bodies covered with gold foil blankets. But they are concerned that there could be more who were killed.

Three children, tragically, have also been killed. Among those who were killed who were not on the helicopter, Don, were people and children. They were coming here to drop their kids off to school, and then sadly, this tragedy unfolded.

We don't know yet exactly how this happened or why this happened. But the visibility was very bad this morning. We spoke to one neighbor who said the fog was so bad he could hear the crash, but he couldn't even see it from his window.

So now the race continues to try to get more information and try to make sure that there is nobody else potentially injured or killed inside that area, Don.

LEMON: An awful story out of Ukraine this morning that Clarissa Ward is following. We're going to check back with you throughout the morning here. Thank you, Clarissa.

COLLINS: Now to the disappearance of the Massachusetts mother, Ana Walshe, who vanished on New Year's Day, her husband has been charged with her murder.

Walshe was already in jail after he was arrested 10 days ago on charges that he had misled investigators. And now he's set to appear in court just hours from now.

Investigators still have not found a body, but the district attorney says they believe they have enough evidence to charge him with her murder.

Jason Carroll is live in Quincy, Massachusetts. Jason, what are we expecting in just a few hours from now?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, the district attorney's office has already indicated that we are expecting to hear additional details about what they've uncovered in their case when this arraignment gets under way later on today.

So what could that look like? So perhaps what we'll get is more information about forensic evidence that was uncovered. You'll remember that investigators found that hacksaw at the trash facility. They also found a knife at the home, blood in the basement on the floor there.


So perhaps we'll learn if any test results that were done on any of those items are linked to Ana Walshe.

And again, prosecutors have already outlined a strange pattern of behavior that Walshe exhibited following his wife's disappearance, including buying more than $450 worth of cleaning supplies at that Home Depot.

In addition to that, remember that Internet search that he did, where he searched for how to dispose of a 115-pound woman's body and how to dismember a body.

So during this arraignment, we're expected to hear more about whatever additional evidence investigators uncovered throughout all of this -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Is the sense of your reporting that we could also learn more about a potential motive today at this hearing?

CARROLL: Oh, yes. That is a possibility. Although it's not a requirement. As you know, here in Massachusetts, prosecutors don't have to show motive. That is not something that's required as part of a murder case. They just have to show intent.

They don't have to show that there's a body. They do not have to show that there's a motive.

However, perhaps we will learn more about a motive here, because that certainly is the question among so many people here on the ground: Why did Brian Walshe do this, allegedly, to his wife, the mother of their three young children -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. We'll stay tuned for that hearing. Jason Carroll, thank you.

LEMON: Failed New Mexico state house candidate Solomon Pena visited the homes of at least two local Democratic leaders to protest his election loss before orchestrating a conspiracy to target those homes with gunfire. That is according to New Mexico police, who arrested Pena earlier this week.

Take a look at this. This is Ring doorbell footage, capturing Pena visiting the former home of Democratic county commissioner Debbie O'Malley prior to the December 11 attack on her residence.

We turn now to CNN's Kyung Lah, live for us in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this morning for CNN THIS MORNING.

Good morning, to you. It is amazing that this was all caught on doorbell video camera.


And he didn't visit just one home and caught on Ring camera once. It was twice. He went to Commissioner O'Malley daughter's house, and then he went to her house.

And then -- we don't have Ring video for this -- but he went to another commissioner's house. This was all before the shootings began.

And I spoke to both of these lawmakers, and they say that he was complaining that he lost the election. And I just need to point out that he lost by such a massive landslide

that you could double the amount of votes he got and he still wouldn't have won.

Now, the arrest warrant says that he was driven by election lies, and we see that, really, echoed in his social media accounts. He tweeted on his candidacy website and account that, quote, "Trump just announced for 2024. I stand with him."

He also says, "I never conceded."

And in another -- another tweet he said, "Mine was also rigged, and I will fight it until the day I die."

He does have his first court appearance later this morning, Don. Hope to learn a little bit more about the motivation behind this man.

LEMON: Can I follow up on something? I think you said you spoke to Debbie O'Malley? What did you learn?

LAH: Yes. Fascinating conversation. First of all, she showed us these bullet holes in her adobe wall. And I could stick my finger about half way through. That's how deep these bullet holes were. And there were ten of them that I could count. A total of a dozen shots fired at her house. Listen to how she described it.


DEBBIE O'MALLEY, FORMER BERNALILLO COUNTY COMMISSIONER: I was very angry. And I just -- just disgusted about the whole thing.

LAH: These are significantly-sized holes.

O'MALLEY: They are. It was so loud. This happened when my husband and I were asleep.


LAH: And she says she's obviously relieved, Don.

The other thing that I find remarkable: she says she is not going to back down. She's not leaving her house -- Don.

LEMON: Kyung Lah, thank you for that this morning. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: Also this woman, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, is now officially an insider. Though she was once shunned as a conspiracy theorist, she has now landed a powerful pair of committee assignments: Homeland Security and Oversight.

Just to underline that point, the same woman who has previously pushed 9/11 conspiracy theories does sit on the Homeland Security Committee. That is also really just scratching the surface of what she's said previously.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): The so-called plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Odd there's never ever any evidence of a plane into the Pentagon.

There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now.

How do you get avid gun owners and people that support the Second Amendment to give up their guns? Maybe accomplish that by performing a mass shooting into a crowd.


You make them scared. You make them victims, and you change your mindset.

Kennedy getting killed in the plane crash. That's another one of those Clinton murders, right?

We're talking about who is Q, so I'm going to tell you what he says. According to him, many in our government are actively worshipping Satan, or they call Moloch.

Q is saying that they participate in pedophilia and spirit cooking.

We already saw there was an email, came out of the Wikileaks emails, where Cheryl -- was it Cheryl Mulls? [SIC] -- and she told Hillary Clinton in an email that she was going to sacrifice a chicken to Moloch in her back yard.

Saudi Arabia, the Rothschilds, and Soros, he says are the puppet masters that fund this global evil.

There's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles out.


COLLINS: The Homeland Security Committee oversees the border. It will likely play a role in the potential impeachment that some Republicans are seeking of the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.

And a seat on the Oversight Committee is also going to put Marjorie Taylor Greene in a position to investigate President Biden, something she has talked about doing shortly after she was put on that committee.

It's a lot of power for someone who was once stripped of her committee assignments two years ago because of her extreme views, a lot of the ones that you heard there.

It's also a lot of power for someone who has repeatedly spread misinformation about the 2020 election, claiming it was stolen, that mass voter fraud tipped the scales, and blaming the media and, quote, "deep state" for Biden's win. It's also a lot of power for someone who once speculated about space

laser causing the deadly 2018 wildfires in California, saying it wouldn't be a good look for the Rothschild banking firm.

Marjorie Taylor Greene also spoke at a white nationalist convention last year, something that provoked then-Minority Leader, now House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, to say, quote, "The party should not be associated any time, any place, with somebody who is anti-Semitic."

By now, the two are often side-by-side. She is on the inside. She has been pushing for Kevin McCarthy. And of course, Don, you know she's not the only person here who's been put on a committee that was in a controversial position and now has a pretty powerful gig on the Hill.

LEMON: You read my mind. As you were saying that, I was saying, What about George Santos? Right?


LEMON: He is one of another -- another person who has been put in a powerful position.

So Kaitlan, let's discuss that. Let's talk about Congressman George Santos a little bit more here, the New York freshman known for his life, more than his lies than policies now sitting on two lower-level committees, even as he faces calls to resign.

The House GOP Steering Committee is in charge of committee assignments, and here's how one member defended the choice.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do you -- There are concerns about his past. Why give him committee assignments?

REP. BARRY LOUDERMILK (R-GA): Well, I mean, again, he -- he hasn't committed a crime. He hasn't been indicted on anything at this point. And in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty. So we're going to treat him like any other member and, you know, keep an eye on him.


LEMON: OK. With that, let's go to CNN's Lauren Fox, live on Capitol Hill with more.

Lauren, good morning to you. The reaction on the Hill from Santos getting two committee assignments. Is it -- is everyone saying, Oh, let's see what happens from here?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is certainly the response you heard from Republicans yesterday, coming out of the Steering Committee meeting.

And we should note that the Steering Committee is often nicknamed the speaker's committee. And that is because it is full of his allies, and it often reflects the speaker's wishes.

So it's significant that George Santos was seated, not just by this committee, but also because it reflects the fact that Kevin McCarthy, throughout the last several weeks, has been arguing that George Santos was elected. He was elected and represents a million people, and therefore, while the ethics investigation plays out, he believes that George Santos should be seated on committees.

Now he got two committees that are not known as A-list committees. They are not as high-profile as perhaps Financial Services or Foreign Affairs Committees that he wanted to have.

But he was placed on the Small Business Committee, as well as the Science Committee. And it's going to be really interesting to see what kind of player he is.

I mean, remember, that when lawmakers are on these committees, they sit in powerful hearings. They can question witnesses. They can pass legislation. And that all helps you, when you go back home and run for re-election, make your case why you should be re-elected, Don.

LEMON: The question is -- I mean, you heard Kaitlan talking about Marjorie Taylor Greene, right, for one. And then there's Paul Gosar, also on committees after being kicked off last year.

Is this a sign of how the GOP House is going to operate? And if so, that has repercussions for the American people.

FOX: Well, it's certainly a reflection that Kevin McCarthy needed every single vote he could get in that speaker's race. Marjorie Taylor Greene was with him from the beginning, advocating for him, which really put her at odds with some of her colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus and other conservatives.

But it is important that she is going to be seated on the Homeland Security Committee, a committee that is going to have broad oversight over immigration, over terrorism policy, over domestic terrorism policy.


All of that is something that we should be watching for.

It's also really interesting that Paul Gosar is returning to the Natural Resources Committee. It's not necessarily as high-profile as something like Homeland Security or Oversight, but what it does show you is that it gives him an opportunity -- because he's from the state of Arizona, to really work on issues that matter for his state, Don.

And again, that helps you get re-elected. So Kevin McCarthy and the Steering Committee doing these members a favor when they go back home and argue to constituents, Look what I'm doing for you.

LEMON: Early in the morning at the Capitol, Lauren Fox for us. Lauren, thank you. COLLINS: Also this morning, the White House Counsel's Office still

struggling to answer questions about President Biden's handling of classified documents.

The administration has been facing criticism over this even from some Democrats over how they've handled the matter related to the handling of those documents when they made it first known to the public.

And in a call with reporters on Tuesday, there were a lot of questions, but not a ton of answers on what has happened behind the scenes.

M.J. Lee is live at the White House for CNN THIS MORNING.

M.J., I know you were on that call with our -- the rest of our White House team. What questions still were not answered by White House officials on this matter? And why did they say they couldn't answer some of those questions?

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, it's curious. You'll remember over the weekend, the White House Counsel's Office said now that there is a special counsel investigation, we are going to refer all questions to the special counsel's office.

Well, yesterday they convened a press call with reporters to try to defend their handling of all of this, saying the president takes classified documents very seriously, that they have been cooperating from day one and will continue to do so.

But after about 30 minutes of taking many questions from reporters, we basically just didn't learn any new facts. And these are important questions that are still outstanding.

Questions like why did the White House wait to disclose the fact that there were classified documents that were discovered? Why did Biden lawyers who don't have security clearances proceed to look for classified documents after that initial discovery on November 2?

Now, but the fact that they had this call anyway, even though clearly, there were a lot of facts that they just simply cannot share, I think just goes to show the struggle that the White House is facing right now, feeling like it really cannot address the facts of an investigation that is still ongoing. And also wanting to feel like they are showing that they are trying to answer to the criticisms of the lack of transparency right now.

COLLINS: Yes, and I saw that the press secretary said yesterday Biden has full confidence in his team that is handling this, but there's also been reporting from you and other colleagues at CNN that he's actually -- the president is actually pretty frustrated behind the scenes. What is his take on how they've handled this so far?

LEE: Yes, and just keep in mind, as you said, there has just been a lot of criticism, too. And this is not just coming from Republicans or the usual critics. It's coming from Democrats, too, and allies that are close to the president. And they have really just focused on this issue of this narrative having become a drip, drip, drip narrative. And they feel like that could have been avoided.

And when the White House press secretary was asked yesterday, does the president have confidence in his team's handling of all of this, she said, yes, he does.

But as you said, we do know that the president himself has grown frustrated that this story has consumed the White House when certainly, there are so many other things that he would rather be focused on right now, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. They've got the State of the Union coming up, maybe a 2024 announcement.

M.J. Lee, thank you so much.

All right. Just hours from now we're going to hear from President Zelenskyy. You know, all these world leaders have been gathering in Davos. President Zelenskyy is going to be addressing these leaders on the world stage after the first lady of Ukraine did so. Will his plea for more weapons work?

LEMON: And "The Daily Show" has a new host. Sort of.


LESLIE JONES, COMEDIAN: I'm going to tell you right now, this comfortable-ass chair is mine!




JONES: But first, I would like to give a shout-out to Trevor Noah. One of the things that moved me so much in his last show, he said if you want to truly learn about America, talk to black women. Well, guess who's coming to dinner, baby!


LEMON: Let me just say this. I loves [SIC] me some Leslie Jones. Does that -- it's not right, perfect grammar, but I do. That's how I feel. I loves [SIC] me some Leslie Jones.

COLLINS: Remember how funny she was during the pandemic when she would watch the news, and she's record it and comment on it, and then post it on her Twitter?

LEMON: Yes, why don't we get that clip? Because there's a clip of her going, "Don, Don," to a number of shows that I was doing.

So Leslie Jones, congratulations, guest hosting "The Daily Show" for the first time last night. And in true "Daily Show" fashion, she took on the big stories in D.C.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Classified material next to your Corvette, what were you thinking?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the way, my Corvette is in a locked garage. OK? So it's not like it's sitting out on the street.

JONES: What? This is a national security emergency. OK. A man this old with access to a Corvette! I -- I don't know what's more scary: Biden losing the nuclear codes or Biden going 85 on the highway.

Biden, please do not drive that Corvette. Your ass can't even ride a bike!


LEMON: OK, so she is the first guest host to fill in after Trevor Noah's departure. Other future guest hosts include Wanda Sykes, who I love as well; D.L. -- you know how I feel about D.L. -- Hughley.

A new permanent host has not yet been named. There are a bunch of people -- Hasan Minaj, Chelsea Handler, Roy Wood Jr. A bunch of people

OK. So joining us now, entertainment journalist Segun Oduolowu.


LEMON: There it is.

ODUOLOWU: Early in the morning, got it. Nigeria is so proud right now.

LEMON: Good morning, how are you? I like your --

ODUOLOWU: I'm good.

LEMON: I love your attire.

ODUOLOWU: Well, I got my Don Lemon starter kit on. Like, we got the bracelets. I've got the navy blue and the white. Like listen, you know, real recognize real. So --

COLLINS: He really sets the tone.

LEMON: I'm going to --

ODUOLOWU: This is -- this is great.

LEMON: Enough about me. What do you think of me? No, kidding.

So listen, I have not been asked to fill in yet --


LEMON: But --

ODUOLOWU: It's coming, though.

LEMON: What did you think of Leslie, seriously? Good morning. Thank you for joining us.


ODUOLOWU: Thank you for having me, Don and Kaitlan.

It was great. First start. There were rough edges. Because anyone who's done television on a daily basis knows that what she was doing on "Saturday Night Live," it's very different. Like, you get to rehearse all week for one show. You can have one great interview on Monday. What are you going to do Tuesday? What are you going to do Wednesday? What are you going to do Thursday? You all know this grind.

And I'm hoping that, when she guests, as a guest host, she doesn't try to make us forget Trevor; she allows us to remember Leslie. For all of the hosts that are going to fill in. That should be their key.

I've guest hosted before. I've done -- you know, I guest hosted for "Access Hollywood." I can't make you forget Billy Bush, but I can remember -- I can make you remember Segun. And that's what a guest host is supposed to do, if you're trying to make it a permanent -- a permanent job.

COLLINS: Yes. And what does she bring to the table that's different? Because I mean, we went from a Jon Stewart to a Trevor Noah. Now she's filling in. You know, did you -- did you notice anything that she did differently?


COLLINS: Because she does have a distinct kind of humor.

ODUOLOWU: Yes. So it's the politics and the news filtered through the lens of a strong black woman, who is unapologetically black in her humor. Right? It's in your face. It is expressive.

And what Trevor did was filter it through the lens of an immigrant. Right? He's biracial from South Africa. So his unique look on politics in America had that lens.

I think Leslie brought in some of the -- you know, like the person on the street asking about -- asking white people about Martin Luther King Day and making a man do 37 push-ups as reparations for not knowing anything more than the "I have a dream" in the "I have a dream" speech. Which, by the way, should be mandatory on all curriculums: know the Dr. King "I have a dream" speech.

LEMON: Yes. So let's talk about -- dig in on what you said. Because Trevor -- this isn't bad, so don't -- and my mom loves Trevor Noah.


LEMON: So if I -- you know, I can't say anything bad about Trevor. I love Trevor.

But remember in the beginning, like Trevor, you know, he had to grow into the role. You know, he was standing up, and then he sat down. And people -- you know, he got compared to Jon Stewart, and people were talking about his accent. And blah-dy blah-dy blah-da.

So she -- whoever fills his shoes, as you said, they're going to have to be themselves --


LEMON: -- and bring something new to the table. There are people who can do that. Do you think that -- do you think, in this first episode, that she did that? I thought she was funny. I didn't think she was trying to be Trevor in this first episode.

ODUOLOWU: No, and I'm glad she wasn't, because she can't be. Just like Trevor couldn't have been Jon.

And I think what Trevor did, to your point, was he had to find his stride. And are these guest hosts only going to get a week to find their stride? It's going to take a little bit longer, especially if they've never really done it before.

I'm interested mainly about Leslie, because some of the other guest hosts that they showed have done this before. And it's going to be hard for me not to remember Wanda Sykes or Chelsea Handler, you know, their shows.

LEMON: Speaking of Chelsea and all these guys, here's the thing that people don't talk about. Trevor is leaving because Trevor wants to be on the road. He wants to be able to relate to a live audience doing comedy every night.

This is a gig. People don't realize. I know those hours. Like, I wasn't a comedian.

ODUOLOWU: Really, Don Lemon?

LEMON: But it's not -- but listen, those hours aren't -- they aren't easy. Right?


LEMON: But if you are a standup comedian in that position, it ties you to the desk, right, to an anchor desk, rather than being out there. And so maybe every once in a while, maybe every couple years you get to do a special.

Are these people going to want to be tied to that? When you think about Wanda Sykes, who loves being on the road.


LEMON: When you think about Chelsea Handler, who had a late-night show and then a gig on Netflix. Are they going to want to be tied to an anchor desk for four or five nights a week?

ODUOLOWU: They probably will if the money is right. Right? The great Don Ohlmeyer said in television, like, the answer to all your questions is money. If you pay them well enough, they'll come off the road. But I think --

LEMON: Trevor is getting paid.

ODUOLOWU: No, Trevor is a little different. I think why Trevor left, what is really -- what was really smart about it is, if he stayed too long he becomes "The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah.

By leaving when he did, he's Trevor Noah, who did "The Daily Show." And he can travel and do his own thing.

We really don't associate "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart anymore. Jon's his own entity. And I think that's what Trevor is going for.

I think these comedians and these new hosts will -- are not as established any more. Because there's been an attack on comedy. I don't think comedians really want to be on the road anymore, doing those shows the way we look at comedians.

There's a lot of stuff that they can't say anymore, especially the risque comments, like a D.L., Wanda and Sarah Silverman. You can't just open up and talk about stuff the way they used to. Only Chappelle --

LEMON: I think those days are -- I think those days --

ODUOLOWU: I hope they're over. But only Chappelle gets that kind of leeway.


COLLINS: Yes. It's a huge platform, too, for them to build their brand even further.

Segun, thank you so much for joining us.

ODUOLOWU: It's my first time, hopefully, not last time. And Don, when you want me to fill in, I'm already dressed for it.

COLLINS: Did you go in his closet this morning?

LEMON: Don't try to steal my style.

ODUOLOWU: Hey, man, listen, I just want to steal the gig.

COLLINS: I know where his closet's located. I'll show you.

LEMON: Segun, it was great. Your first appearance, and last. Thank you. Just kidding. It was good to see you.

COLLINS: Thank you.

All right. Up next this morning, why Americans are actually.