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CNN This Morning
Ukraine's Interior Minister Among 16 Dead in Helicopter Crash; America's Lawmakers Facing Threat of Political Violence; GOP Oversight Committee Launches Prove into Biden Family. Aired 7-7:30a ET
Aired January 18, 2023 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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MICHAEL W. MORRISSEY, NORFOLK COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Obtained an arrest warrant charging Brian Walshe with the murder of his wife.
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DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Man, this has been going on. Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off today. It's Kaitlan and I.
Well, you heard from that. He's talking about a Massachusetts mom that has been missing for more than two weeks now. Now, the husband of Ana Walshe faces arraignment on a murder charge in just hours.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly helicopter crash also happening in the suburbs of Kyiv just hours ago. Ukraine's interior minister and three children are among the 16 people who were killed.
LEMON: Police confirm a failed Republican candidate in New Mexico visited homes of Democratic officials before targeting those homes with gunfire.
COLLINS: Also this morning, still no word on how Lisa Marie Presley died. The coroner deferred a ruling after conducting an autopsy asking for more time to investigate.
LEMON: A very busy Wednesday, but, first, the tragedy on the outskirts of Ukraine's capital. 16 people are dead, including Ukraine's interior minister, after a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten and residential buildings east of Kyiv. Three children are among the dead with 15 more being treated in the hospital. The mayor of Kyiv now reacting.
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MAYOR VITALI KLITSCHKO, KYIV, UKRAIN: This is actually a tragedy for Ukraine.
I'm not ready to give -- we need to investigate, exactly investigate what happened. Right now, we don't have information.
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LEMON: Let's get straight to Clarissa Ward now live at the scene in Ukraine for us. Clarissa, good morning. What is going on? What's the latest there?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you can probably see behind me the smoldering wreckage of that kindergarten where the helicopter hit this morning, tragically killing 16 people, all nine people on board the helicopter were killed, including the interior minister, Denys Monastyrsky, also the deputy interior minister, the secretary of state of the interior of ministry, as well as six others. And then on the ground, tragically, at least three children and their parents who were just taking them to school, Don. I mean, as if this country has not been through enough tragedy and horror in this war, now you have this on top of it.
Authorities are saying they don't know exactly how this happened or why this happened. But we've been talking to a lot of people in the area and the visibility was terrible this morning. One man told us he was outside smoking a cigarette and he could hear the crash but he couldn't see anything because of the fog. Another woman told us that after she heard the crash, she ran down to the kindergarten and saw children being taken out of the building, some of them still literally on fire.
So, this is an absolutely horrifying attack, clearly having a big impact on so many people around here. There's been a constant stream of people laying flowers, taking a minute to come and pay their respects. And you can see those rescue workers still going through the rubble, trying to ascertain how this happened. They've been picking out large chunks of debris, parts of the helicopter, that I think, from what we understand, sort of clipped that initial part of the kindergarten there and then crashed just over on the other side where we were earlier this morning. We saw at least four bodies covered in those gold foil blankets. But as we said, just a tragic day, 16 people dead, among them at least three children, Don.
LEMON: Just awful, Clarissa. Thank you.
COLLINS: Also this morning, in a matter of hours here in the United States, Brian Walshe is going to be arraigned in Massachusetts for the murder of his wife, Ana. The mother, as you know, of three went missing at the start of the New Year, and police uncovered a trail of possible evidence in the case, including blood and a bloody knife, computer searches by Mr. Walshe on how to dismember and dispose of a 115-pound woman's body and a hacksaw and apparent bloodstains at a trash collection site.
CNN's Jason Carroll is live for CNN This Morning outside the courthouse in Quincy, Massachusetts. Jason, what are we expecting to happen in just a matter of now? Because I know he had been arrested earlier on misleading investigators. What are we expecting today?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, as you know, we've already heard so many disturbing details in this case. And once the arraignment gets under way, we're expected to hear even more details, that according to the district attorney's office. This is a case that has captured the attention of people here for more than two weeks.
JUDY DOANE, LIVED NEXT TO WALSH FAMILY IN 2018: I think the number one concern is finding Ana and find out what happened.
CARROLL (voice over): The timeline in the mystery of what happened to Ana Walshe spans more than two weeks starting on New Year's Day. That's when her husband, Brian Walshe, claimed she left her Cohasset home in a ride share or taxi to fly to Washington, D.C., for work.
But prosecutors say there's no evidence Ana got a ride or went to the airport. Brian Walshe tells investigators on this day he ran errands for his mother in a nearby town but they find no evidence those trips occurred.
January 2nd, prosecutors say Walshe went to a Home Depot and spent about $450 in cash on cleaning supplies, like mops, bucket and tarps. January 4th, Ana Walshe's work place, a D.C. real estate firm, calls police to report her missing. A police log would later confirm the head of security at the firm was the first to report her missing to police and that her husband has not filed a missing person report on female. Her friends begin to fear the worst.
PAMELA BARDHI, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: I think something has gone horribly, horribly, horribly wrong when it comes to her.
CARROLL: January 6th, police start a massive search in Cohasset. Law enforcement sources say her husband's internet records in the days following her disappearance show searches how to dismember a body and how to dispose of a 115-pound woman's body.
January 8th, Walshe is charged with misleading investigators.
MORRISSEY: Early in the investigation, the police developed probable cause to believe that her husband, Brian Walshe, age 47, have misled police investigators on material matters important to the search for Ana Walshe.
CARROLL: Walshe is taken into custody and a not guilty has entered on his behalf the next day.
January 9th, prosecutors say investigators recover a bloody knife in the family basement, also finding a hacksaw and torn up pieces of cloth with apparent bloodstains at a trash facility, this according to law enforcement sources.
January 17th Walshe is charged with his wife's murder.
MORRISSEY: Additional details in the investigation and the evidence in support of those charges are likely to be presented at arraignment.
CARROLL (on camera): And, again, Kaitlan, the arraignment should get under way just a few hours from now. This is at the point where we are expected to learn more information about what evidence investigators have gathered connecting Brian Walshe to the murder of his wife, Ana. Kaitlan?
COLLINS: Yes, we'll be watching that closely. Jason, thank you.
Also this morning, U.S. Capitol police investigated more than 7,000 threats against members of Congress last year, 7,000, which is actually a drop from last year, if you can believe that. The agency's police chief says that number is still too high and that the threat of political violence in Congress and beyond is obvious from the headlines.
Starting with four elected Democrats in New Mexico, they were alleged targeted by Solomon Pena. He's the failed Republican candidate for state legislature that was arrested by a SWAT team this week after being accused of orchestrating shootings at those officials' homes after he visited them.
There's also that attack on Paul Pelosi after police say a man broke into their home three months ago, attacked with a hammer while looking for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In June, it was Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Police arrested a man carrying a pistol, a knife and zip ties , who is threatening to kill the justice over that leaked draft opinion on abortion.
A pistol-carrying man was also arrested outside of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal's home over the summer, according to The Washington Post. She said she heard voices, yelling threats late at night.
And also who could forget would-be kidnappers that conspired to target Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, something I spoke to her about just recently.
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GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D-MI): I'd be lying if I told you I'm unfazed by it.
I'm an ordinary person. I have got an extraordinary job. I have served in extraordinary times. I'm a mom. I'm a daughter. I'm an average person who is trying to serve my state.
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COLLINS: Also Maine Senator Susan Collins says she's been receiving threats for years. She had her windows smashed and said -- that had this warning saying basically she wouldn't be surprised if a senator or a house member was killed, what started with an abusive phone call translated into active threats of violence and real violence.
LEMON: And this morning, police say former New Mexico Statehouse Candidate Solomon Pena visited the homes of at least two local Democratic leaders to protest his election loss before their homes were shot at. Ring doorbell footage captured Pena at one commissioner's former home prior to the attack. Watch this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is Solomon Pena. Can I speak with Debbie O'Malley?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't live here anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Well, the public records says she owns it. Do you know where she lives?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. She lives around the corner (BLEEP).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. Thank you and sorry for bothering you.
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LEMON: Pretty brazen there.
CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller joins us now.
Good morning to you.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Good morning.
LEMON: So, listen, the allegations that Solomon Pena hired people to shoot at the homes of four politicians in December and January following his failed bids to the New Mexico statehouse, have you seen anything like this before?
MILLER: No. But if we hadn't seen it, we should have seen it coming. You have the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, and who's leading it? You've got Oath Keepers in tactical gear with weapons, Proud Boys, you have got Proud Boys showing up in camouflage with rifles at drag queen story hours at local small town libraries across the country. You have got Nancy Pelosi's home invasion in San Francisco, where the perpetrator said to police allegedly that his intent was to break her kneecaps as an example for Congress. So, this has been coming.
COLLINS: But how much of this do you think has to do with what we were talking about, what he said about the election? He went to the homes of these officials, one of the commissioners we spoke with yesterday, trying to get her not to certify the votes in the election. That was before. Then he orchestrated these shootings, according to prosecutors. What does it say about people being unwilling to accept their election losses? MILLER: Well, this has become kind of a side culture, which is if you lose the election, it's not because you lost. Remember, Solomon Pena didn't lose by three points. He lost by 48 points. It wasn't a baseline call there. So, that is kind of in the playbook of this far- right extremism.
And when you see the threats to Congress, which went in 2017 from under 4,000, up to 2021, 10,000, back down to 7,000, as it was going down again, threats against state officials involved in elections, county commissioners, secretaries of state were going up.
LEMON: Yes. It seems to -- I mean, yes, it's about the far-right. But as you said, but it's also a sense of entitlement that I think needs to be delved into. Like, of course, we're supposed to be the winners. This is how it's supposed to be. It is our God given and American given right to win an election.
MILLER: It could be more base than that, which is we're going to intimidate you before the election. People with rifles would be sitting around ballot boxes during the midterms. We're going to intimidate you during the election. And then if it doesn't work after, which is what this was, I mean, the election was done, shooting up the houses was just a message.
LEMON: Toxic entitlement, that's what I think. Thank you very much, John. I appreciate it.
COLLINS: Yes, scary for those families.
Now, to the case against a former Alabama basketball player who has now been charged with murder, a court deposition reveals that the former Crimson Tide forward, Darius Miles, admitted to providing the handgun that was used to kill the 23-year-old Jamea Harris in Tuscaloosa on Sunday. The victim's family says that she was sought after she denied a man's advances.
Miles and another man, Michael Davis, have both been charged with capital murder. They're being held without bond. Witnesses identified Davis as the shooter. Investigators believe the deadly incident was the result of a minor argument.
LEMON: All right. Let's talk about this. Lisa Marie Pressley's cause of death has been deferred by the Los Angeles County coroner. The 54- year-old singer and songwriter died last week after being hospitalized following an apparent cardiac arrest.
CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent is, of course, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he joins us this morning. Sanjay, good morning to you.
We don't have a lot of details on her specific case but, in general, why might a cause of death be deferred?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's because there wasn't a really obvious cause of death on the initial physical autopsy, typically. And let me preface, I'll show you what some of those things might be, but preface by saying, typically, they will find a cause but it can take a while, even weeks.
These are some of the things that are often detected on initial autopsy, a trauma, obviously, major bleeding, something like a significant stroke, infections, significant infections, like a pneumonia, blood clots, pulmonary embolism. Those are the types of things that if you see those and they're obvious that within the initial physical autopsy they may come back with a cause of death.
But then there are things that are deferred. It can be for all sorts of different reasons. They may want to evaluate more medical records, get more history, find out more, but they're also looking for other potential things, like drugs, alcohol intoxication, other toxic substances perhaps, underlying conditions, heart conditions, preexisting heart conditions, things that might require to look at the tissue with a microscope, certain liver diseases, for example.
So, these are the types of things that may take a while in order to get those results back. Again, they typically, they will get those results, but with the blood tests and the toxicology tests, those can sometimes take weeks.
COLLINS: And, Sanjay, we can't say -- we don't know if Lisa Marie had a heart attack here. Those are details we're just still waiting on from the coroner, from her family. But there is reporting and there is health data to back this up that sometimes heart attack symptoms are actually missed in women, right?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, this is a really big issue. I think a lot of times heart disease is thought of a man's disease. And I'll just show you some numbers quickly. If you look at overall diseases that are attributed -- deaths that are attributed to heart disease, there's some 382,000 in men, this is from 2020, 314,000 in women. So, it's a leading cause of death for men and women alike, heart disease. Keep that in mind. So, you really do have to think about heart disease for both men and women.
But to your question, chest pain is still one of the most common symptoms in both men and women, shortness of breath, but also you can get other what can be classified as more atypical symptoms that are more likely to happen in women, nausea, vomiting, for example. You wouldn't directly attribute that to a heart problem, underlying heart problem, back pain, for example, or just fatigue or jaw pain. Those can be things as well that can be sort of the precursors of having a more significant heart problem.
So, it's, I think, a really important message. Like you say, we don't know and we hopefully will find out in a few weeks what exactly happened here. But for men and women alike, leading cause of death, and you have got to pay attention to even unusual symptoms.
COLLINS: Yes, that's good advice. Sanjay, thank you for joining us on that.
Up next, a powerful Republican who runs one of the most high profile Republican conferences every year has been accused of sexually assaulting another man last fall. What we're learning about the allegations and his response.
LEMON: Plus, we're going to speak with a governor who just enacted a new gun law, but some sheriffs in the state refusing to enforce it.
COLLINS: Matt Schlapp, a prominent Republican who chairs the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, that event that you often see Republican hopeful presidential candidates, Republican presidents at, is now being sued for more than $9 million by a man who says that Schlapp sexually assaulted him last fall. According to the lawsuit and CNN's reporting, the incident took place as the accuser, who is a Republican strategist workring for Herschel Walker's Senate campaign, was driving Schlapp back to his hotel in Atlanta in the weeks before the midterm elections.
CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us with more. Kristen, I know you've been reporting on the story. What's happening and what's the shape of this lawsuit looking like?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, there is a lot in this lawsuit. And one of the most interesting things that we see is that it not only accuses Matt Schlapp of sexual battery but it also accuses Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, who, as you know, served at one point as Trump's -- former President Trump's communications director, of defamation and conspiracy to discredit the accuser.
So, what exactly are those accusations? And as you said, we reported this last week and the lawsuit really outlines what they are. These are brought by a Republican staffer in his late 30s who alleges that Schlapp fondled his groin without consent when he was being driven back to a hotel last October.
Now, an attorney for the Schlapps denies these allegations. In a statement, this is what the (INAUDIBLE) said. The complaint is false and the Schlapp family is suffering unbearable pain and stress due to the false allegations from an anonymous individual. No family should go through this and the Schlapps and their legal team are assessing counter lawsuit options.
And one thing to remind you of, Kaitlan, we do not know the victim's identity. In this lawsuit, they are listed as a John Doe, and that is to protect their identity and reputation.
COLLINS: Yes. And, Kristen, as you know, when our colleague, Jamie Gangel, was reporting on this last week, when the allegations were made before we got this lawsuit, there were text messages that had been sent between Matt Schlapp and this accuser the morning after the alleged incident took place. Does the lawsuit, in any way, corroborate those text messages or the other claims of the accuser? HOLMES: Yes. There are two texts I want to point out here. One is one that CNN already reported on, and it was the morning after the alleged incident. It was sent from Schlapp to this staffer. And, essentially, what we know is that the staffer says that he texted Schlapp, said that he was uncomfortable with what had happened, that Schlapp tried to call him several times and then sent this text message. If you could see it in your heart to call me at the end of the day, I would appreciate it. If not, I wish you luck on the campaign and hope you keep up the good work.
Now, one interesting thing here, there was a new text message revealed in this lawsuit, and this was sent by Mercedes Schlapp to a neighborhood group chat, in which she alleges that this individual is a troubled individual and says that they were fired from multiple jobs for lying. Now, the lawsuit says that that is not true. But, of course, it's clear here that that's at least in part where those defamation charges or accusations are coming from.
COLLINS: Yes, big question here in that CPAC event that's coming up in just a few months from now. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.
LEMON: And this morning, House Republicans are ramping up their long- promised investigation into President Biden's son, Hunter. They say messages and financial transactions found on a laptop that belongs to him raise troubling questions about whether he traded on his father's public service. It also appears that he might not be the only Biden to take advantage of the family name.
CNN's Pamela Brown has more.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He has built his political career on promises of honesty, hard work and a pledge that a family name means something.
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I give my word as a Biden.
Give you my or word as a Biden.
BROWN: But while Joe Biden swears by his name in politics, his son and two brothers spent years trying to benefit from the Biden name. It's all now the focus of a Republican-led congressional investigation.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): We want to know what the Biden administration is trying to hide from the American people and why they are not being transparent.
BROWN: Republican Congressman James Comer now chairs the House Oversight Committee and has set his sights on Joe Biden's son, Hunter. A mysterious laptop now in the hands of the FBI and long held conspiracy theories about President Joe Biden and what he does or doesn't know. J. BIDEN: I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses, period.
BROWN: Despite his denials, a CNN review of the laptop data, as well as other public material, shows that Joe Biden did interact with some of his son's associates while serving as vice president, though it's unclear exactly what was discussed. One example, the Republicans cite Miguel Aleman Magnani, a Mexican businessman and son of the former president who Hunter was trying to woo. In 2014, Aleman Magnani and his dad were photographed at the White House with then-Vice President Biden. In a later email, Hunter Biden reminds Aleman Magnani of the favors he's done for him. We've been talking about business deals and partnerships for seven years. I have brought every single person you have ever asked me to bring to the effing White House and the vice president's house and the inauguration.
Hunter Biden bluntly acknowledged the power of the Biden name in a memoir writing that the Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which put him on its board, considered my last name gold.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that there's a lot of things that wouldn't have happened if my last name wasn't Biden.
BROWN: Joe Biden's brothers have repeatedly referenced him in their private dealings. Frank Biden, a developer of for-profit charter schools, has invoked his brother in trying to convince local officials to approve his projects, like in Sunrise, Florida, where he told the city in 2015 to trust his venture.
FRANK BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S BROTHER: Not because of Frank but because of the honor of being the brother of a guy I think we all know and love.
BROWN: In 2021, at a gathering of medical professionals, he made this pledge.
F. BIDEN: The bully pulpit that I have as a result of the privilege of being associated with my brother, Joey.
I'll do everything in my power to support you to get the job done, to get federal dollars to your research.
BROWN: Frank Biden told CNN there has been zero interaction between his brother's public office and his private business, adding do I engage in any way in quid pro quo on any level? Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last name gave credibility, initially.
BROWN: Healthcare entrepreneur Michael Fray told CNN Joe Biden's other brother, James, broke financial promises he made while referencing the Biden name. Fray's company filed a lawsuit alleging fraud by James Biden who denied the claims. Fray spoke to CNN before the lawsuit settled in 2020.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything was on the Biden name. And so we took that to heart. BROWN: James Biden was also named in a lawsuit filed in July. He allegedly received about $600,000 in loans in 2018 from a company he worked with, Americore Health, based upon representations that his last name, Biden, could open doors, and that he could obtain a large investment from the Middle East based on his political connections.
The suit states that the investment was never delivered. The lawsuit was settled, though James Biden denied the allegations in court filings. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert, calls it all troubling.
KATHLEEN CLARK, LAW PROFESSOR, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS: We have certainly examples of Biden family members explicitly trading on his name, trying to convince business partners to do deals with them. That's outrageous.
BROWN: Even so, government ethics experts say the Biden's ethical challenges pale in comparison to Donald Trump.
CLARK: One of the differences is that Trump himself personally was corrupt and certainly did enrich himself through the use of government power.
BROWN: Even the Republican congressman leading the Biden investigation raises concerns about Trump's dealings while president.
And you believe there should have been more transparency with Trump and his family members and the business that they may have been doing overseas?
COMER: I do. I do. I absolutely do.
BROWN: Comer says he wants to introduce bipartisan legislation to tighten ethics laws, but the committee's first priority is the Bidens.
BROWN (on camera): And it is important to note there is no proof the president has done anything illegal. And we sent the White House a list of questions, including whether the president stands by his statement that he never discussed his relatives' businesses with them.
In response, the White House sent us this statement. The president has pledged to restore ethics to the White House and has established the most rigorous ethics guidelines of any administration in history. No family member has or will serve in the administration or be involved in government decision-making.
Back to you, Don.
LEMON: All right. Pamela Brown in Washington for us this morning, thank you, Pamela.
BROWN: Thank you.
COLLINS: All right. Also this morning we now know that enjoying nature can heal the soul.