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CNN This Morning

CIA Chief Briefed Zelenskyy on Russia's Potential Spring Offensive; Biden Dismisses Focus on Docs Probe: 'There's no there, there'; Alec Baldwin to Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Fatal Set Shooting; Investigators Unable to Find Leaker of Roe v. Wade Draft Opinion; David Crosby, Singer/Songwriter, is Dead at 81; High School Students in Santos' District React to His Lies. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 20, 2023 - 06:00   ET






DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Poppy is off. And we start with some sad news to share this morning. Legendary singer/songwriter David Crosby has died.


LEMON: Yes. It is. We've been losing a lot of people, especially in the music industry.

COLLINS: Yes, but very few people I feel like moved as many people as he did for as long as he did. He had such a special career.

LEMON: So he defined the sound and the spirit of the 1960s. So coming up, David Crosby in his own words about how he would be remembered.

But first, is Russia getting ready to launch an all-out attack? Ukraine bracing for a potential offensive. The U.S. and its allies sending more weapons, but will it be enough to stop Vladimir Putin's onslaught?

COLLINS: Also this morning, President Biden is breaking his silence. What he is now saying about how he believes he's handled the classified documents found in his home and office.

LEMON: Alec Baldwin facing criminal charges for that deadly 2021 shooting on a movie set. The D.A. explaining why she decided to prosecute the actor more than a year later.

We're going to begin in Ukraine, where Russian forces might be gearing up for a major offensive. Ukraine has been begging for more weapons before it's too late. And now the U.S. is delivering more fire power, the Pentagon announcing a new military aid package that includes air defense systems and a sizeable fleet of armored vehicles. CNN is learning CIA director Bill Burns personally flew to Kyiv for a

secret meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to brief him on what Vladimir Putin is planning to do in the coming months.

And this morning, Zelenskyy thanked allies at Rammstein Air Base in Germany for continued support. Here it is.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: And I am truly grateful to all of you for the weapons you have provided. Every unit helps to save our people from terror.

But time, time remains a Russian weapon. We have to speed up. Time must become our weapon just like air defense and artillery, armored vehicles and damage, which we are negotiating about with you. And which actually will make the victory.


LEMON: Worldwide coverage this morning. CNN covering it from the U.S. and abroad. Kylie Atwood is standing by at the State Department.

We begin with Clarissa Ward, live in Kyiv. Good morning, Clarissa. What have we learned so far about this morning's meeting?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially what you're seeing, Don, are, you know, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and also, as you heard there, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, making a full-throated appeal for the urgency of this moment.

We heard Lloyd Austin talking about the fact that Russia is low on ammunition but they are taking this moment to regroup, to reequip, to recruit.

We heard, as you played out in that clip from president Zelenskyy again urging the importance of getting tanks particularly so Ukraine can engage in some offensives before this much-anticipated Russian offensive.

It's important to remember, Russia has about 150,000 mobilized troops who are currently coming towards the end of their training, and it's anticipated that they will be moving onto the battlefield.

So Ukraine wants very much to be ready to meet the moment. There is still a lot of back and forth about what weapons will be given. The issue of tanks, of course, is at the front and foremost.

And as Zelenskyy himself said, Don -- and I want to quote him directly -- "Hundreds of thank-yous are not hundreds of tanks." That is what Ukraine says it needs: tanks, long-range artillery, also F-16s. The latter two not really on the table, but tanks continue to be a source of controversy with some of the people who are attending the contact group, Don. COLLINS: Yes. And he was saying, you know, basically, all of this

discussion. There's no time for that. Terrorism doesn't allow for that.

And Kylie, this has been a standoff between Germany and the United States over these tanks, with the U.S. and other Western allies urging Germany to send them. And they're saying, OK, well, the United States also needs to send tanks so they give us some diplomatic cover. Where do things stand right now?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't see a direct path forward here, because as Clarissa was saying, Ukraine has said that they need more tanks.

Over the weekend, the Brits announced that they were sending tanks. And now a lot of countries in Germany, who have German-made tanks also want to send those to Ukraine. They can't do that without the green light from Germany. And Germany isn't doing that yes -- yet.

And they are saying it's up to the United States to send tanks, with Chancellor Scholz saying they don't want to do anything alone, especially you know, not without the United States. So U.S. officials are trying to watch this, figure out a pathway forward.

But we should note that American officials aren't fundamentally opposed to sending tanks into Ukraine. Their concerns are over logistics here, because U.S.-made tanks, these Abrams, are a bit more challenging to operate. They aren't as great on the battlefield; they take a lot of fuel.

So they believe that they wouldn't be as useful to the Ukrainians for them to get up and running really quickly, while they say that Leopards -- that's the German-made tank -- are more efficient for the Ukrainians to actually use on the battlefield. We really don't know the pathway forward here.

We should not that overnight, the incoming defense minister for Germany said that they aren't aware of any direct linkage between U.S. needing to send tanks and Germany needing to send tanks. So maybe they're backing off here. There may be a pathway forward.

But we'll continue to watch this. And this comes just after director of the CIA, Bill Burns, made a secret visit to Ukraine, and in that visit, he was talking about what Russia is planning this spring.

LEMON: Let's talk more about that, Clarissa. I want to go back to that. The CIA director briefing Zelenskyy on the -- this coming offensive. It's a pretty extraordinary moment in this war.

WARD: It is. There's definitely a sense, I would say, that we're at an inflection point. There were a lot of major Ukrainian counteroffensives towards the end of last year. The momentum was on Ukraine's side.

Now we're seeing things settle into what Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, called not a stalemate but kind of a grinding conflict.

And so there is a sense of urgency that Ukraine really needs to kind of step in and fill the vacuum here before Russia has an opportunity to regroup. Because while they are running out of ammunition, they are trying to gear up their kind of military-industrial complex and get that off the ground and running.

And so the moment really is now and in the next few months. Now, of course, it's winter time, but as you get into spring, after the rains and there really are more opportunities for Ukraine to launch further counter offensives and try to take back more territory.

They need to have, in the words of their own leaders and many who support them at this contact group meeting. They need to have the weaponry and the defensive capabilities to do that.

And what the frustration has been on this end, Don, is this kind of drip, drip approach where they ask for something, the original answer is, No, no way. And then after six months, it's maybe. And then after a year, they finally get it but only in small increments.

They want it now. They want it all. They want to finish this thing.

LEMON: All right. Clarissa, Kylie, thank you very much. We'll check back in with both of you.

COLLINS: Also this morning, over at the White House, President Biden finally speaking out about his classified documents.

For a while, he has been relatively quiet about it. And there were questions about, of course, the handling of it. He is now defending the White House's handling of the documents that were found inside his private home and his office.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They found a handful of documents were failed [SIC] -- were filed in the wrong place. We immediately turned them over to the Archives and the Justice Department. We're fully cooperating. We're looking forward to getting this resolved quickly.

I think you're going to find there's nothing there. I have no regrets. I'm following what the lawyers have told me they want me to do. That's exactly what we're doing. There's no "there" there.


COLLINS: President Biden echoing that defiant stance we have heard from White House officials in recent days over the way that they've handled it.

Of course, this has come as Republicans have accused President Biden of being hypocritical in this matter, given this interview that he gave last Fall about President Trump's retention of classified documents. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT PELLEY, CBS'S "60 MINUTES": When you saw the photograph of the top-secret documents laid out on the floor of Mar-a-Lago, what did you think to yourself?

BIDEN: How that could possibly happen. How anyone could be that irresponsible.

The White House, we should note, has continued to note the differences here, saying that they have cooperated with the National Archives, with the Justice Department investigation.

Former President Trump, as we know, famously refused to give back documents as they were sought by the National Archives. He also got in a fight with the Justice Department, where it ended up in this historic raid of a former president's property over these materials.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live at the White House on this matter. Jeremy, quite a defiant stance from President Biden, saying that he has no regrets about how this has been handled.



And this is only the third time that we have heard President Biden really substantively answer questions about this issue since it was revealed ten days ago.

But it is the first time that we've heard those words from President Biden: "No regrets."

And critically, we have to point out that the question that President Biden was being asked here was does he have any regrets about not revealing this sooner, not revealing this before the midterm elections, when these first documents were discovered back on November 2nd.

The president saying no regrets about the timing here of the revelation.

And -- but what he's also doing here, is he's maintaining his position, that he believes that he's going to continue to cooperate with the Department of Justice investigation. That, of course, has been a critical line from the White House here.

And also part of the White House's strategy here has been to hammer home that cooperation in order to show the difference between what he has done, what President Biden is doing here, in his response to this revelation, and how former President Trump has handled his side of the classified documents story.

What we're also hearing here, is we're seeing the White House taking a more aggressive posture towards House Republicans. We didn't hear President Biden say that himself, but we've heard White House officials in recent days really try and draw a distinction between the cooperation that they're showing towards the Department of Justice, and a more defiant stance toward House Republicans and their plans to investigate this matter from the House Oversight Committee.

COLLINS: They clearly promised to be aggressive. Something the White House will be dealing with. Jeremy Diamond, thank you for that reporting.

LEMON: We go now to Alec Baldwin, and he's going to face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of his cinematographer on the "Rust" set. You're looking at pictures of him, clearly distraught, right after the 2021 shooting.

Halyna Hutchins died when she was struck by a live round of ammunition fired from a prop gun, a gun that Baldwin was holding. The D.A. says that the actor will face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, along with the armorer. That is the person who is in charge of all the weapons on set.

The district attorney telling CNN that even famous people are treated the same under the law.


MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, SANTA FE DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is really about justice for Halyna Hutchins. We've talked to many actors, A-list and otherwise, that have said that they always check their guns or they have someone check it in front of them.

So it's not -- an actor doesn't get a free pass just because they're an actor.


LEMON: So CNN's Chloe Melas is here with the details. Chloe, good morning to you. What are you hearing from Baldwin?

CHLOE MELAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, so first of all, yesterday Alec Baldwin's attorney telling me that they felt completely blind-sided by the criminal charges.

Because they were under the impression that the D.A. would be giving them a heads up that he would be charged.

And you saw that with Dave Halls, the assistant director, getting a plea deal. So they say that that wasn't even on the table, but they wouldn't take one anyway. Because he maintains his innocence, and he wants to see this through to a jury trial, at least for now.

But they are saying they will fight this and that this was a tragic accident. And that's similar to what he told me when we sat down in August.

LEMON: So he -- but again, he has been adamant that he did nothing wrong. Were you able to speak with him? MELAS: I wasn't. I was out in front of his apartment in downtown

Manhattan last night, you know, doing a lot of my segments down there. There were a lot of reporters. He's there, upstairs with his kids. You know, obviously very upset.

But at the end of the day, he's also talked so highly of Halyna Hutchins and how devastating, you know, this has been for her family.

But he really points the finger at this chain of command on the set, that it was the armorer and the assistant director who told him that the gun was cold. And his big question is, how did live bullets get to set?

LEMON: This is -- this will send a chill through Hollywood for some, because the armorer's job is to make sure that everything is safe with the gun. And now you have an actor being charged for something that they -- that many in Hollywood believe it was the responsibility of someone else to make sure that it was safe.

MELAS: So if you look at what SAG is saying, the Screen Actors Guild, they came out with a statement, saying that these charges are not the right move. And so they are saying that this is too strong. So almost, like, in support of Alec Baldwin here. T

And remember, they were actually going to go film, you know, this movie "Rust." They were going to finish it. The profits were going to go to the family.

I actually just want to play a little bit of my interview with Alec Baldwin from August. Here's a little bit of what he had to say.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: And this is a one-in-a-billion event. And in that one-in-a-billion event, there are two people who didn't do what they were supposed to do; they didn't do. And I'm not sitting here saying I want them to go to prison or I want their lives to be hell. I don't want -- but I want everybody to know that those are the two people that are responsible for what happened.


LEMON: What he initially said. So we'll see what happens. This is going to continue, and it's going to take a long time to play out in the justice system.


Chloe, thank you very much. We appreciate that.

MELAS: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. Also, some other breaking news in Washington. Investigators at the Supreme Court have just released their report on last year's stunning leaked draft opinion for the decision that would ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. But the main takeaway is they still do not know who did it. They were

able to determine about 90 people had access to the document at some point. But they don't know who it was that came in contact with this that was the one ultimately responsible for it becoming public before it became an actual ruling.

CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is joining us from Washington.

Paula, this is pretty remarkable that they spent this much time investigating, but they come out yesterday and they say, you know, we still do not know who ultimately is responsible for this.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan, the biggest mystery in Washington remains unsolved.

Yesterday the Supreme Court came out, and they said after their investigation, they cannot really identify the responsible party by a, quote, "preponderance of the evidence."

Now, that's a pretty low standard. It just means something is more likely than not. So it appears that, after eight months of investigating, they really don't have much to show for their work, even though they interviewed around 100 employees. They even confiscated court-issued laptops and mobile devices.

I will note, though, it does not appear that they interviewed the justices themselves. I mean, they were outraged by this leak, but it appears that they were allowed to effectively police themselves during this investigation.

COLLINS: It's kind of remarkable if they did not actually interview the justices or their spouses or partners about this. But I think the main takeaway here is the question is, if you have not figured out who did it or how they did it, how do you stop something like this from happening again?

REID: Absolutely. And there were some recommendations, even though they couldn't identify the person or persons responsible.

And one of the big things is just how do you protect sensitive information? They invited Michael Chertoff to assess this investigation. And he had a few recommendations, including restricting the distribution of hard copies of opinions. Also limiting how much information is accessed on outside mobile devices.

But Kaitlan, to your point, it is remarkable that they didn't interview the justices. The fact that they have not identified this person, it has allowed a lot of amateur Internet sleuths to kind of fill the gap. And that results in a lot of people continuing to be suspicious of the other side, and that is not good for the increasingly diminished trust in the high court.

COLLINS: Yes. We've seen the poll numbers. A lot of people don't believe that -- it's not as apolitical as it should be.

Paula Reid, thank you for that reporting.

LEMON: And Kaitlan, this morning the music world is saying good-bye after the death of folk rock legend, David Crosby.




LEMON: Crosby, whose career spanned more than five decades on stage, was one of the most influential singers and song writers of all time. He was a founding member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash and was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame twice.

Some of his biggest hits include "Turn! Turn! Turn!", "Mr. Tambourine Man," and the classic, "Wooden Ships."

Crosby kept touring into his 70s and released several albums between 2014 and 2021. He spoke to our Bill Weir about his legacy.


BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The burst of creativity that you've had, you sing about death. Do you think about how you want to be remembered?

DAVID CROSBY, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Not so much. The songs will do that. They're the best I can do. Death is a weird thing. Everyone is scared to talk about it. The question is, what are you going to do with it? How do you spend that two weeks or that ten years? You know, I've got that figured out. Family, music.


LEMON: Well, David Crosby was 81 years old. Only once in a while that talent comes.

COLLINS: I know. He's going to be so missed. He had such a lasting impact.


After all the lies about his life, jobs and school, he wanted to know what people in Congressman George Santos, in his own district think. We want to know. So CNN went to a high school in the New York lawmaker's backyard to get feedback from the next generation of voters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I think he's an embarrassment and a pathological liar.

TEJ PARLAK (PH), STUDENT: I think it's a very scary situation for us.




COLLINS: All right. This morning, embattled Congressman George Santos is facing more scrutiny not just from his current voters but from future voters of 2024. That's when he's actually going to be up for re-election if he stays in office.

High school students from Santos' very own district are sharing with CNN what their reaction was upon learning about the many lies that we've reported here from their elected leader.

CNN's Gary Tuchman was on the ground.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Port Washington, New York, Schreiber High School, in Long Island's Nassau County is in the heart of Representative George Santos' 3rd Congressional District.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I think he's an embarrassment and a pathological liar.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We sit down with a group of AP U.S. history students at Schreiber High. They are 16 and 17, which means they will all be old enough to vote in 2024.

TUCHMAN: How many of you would register as an independent if you registered today? How many of you would register as a Democrat? How many of you would register as a Republican?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Their history teacher estimates Republican- leaning students are outnumbered by Democratic-leaning students by an almost two-to-one margin at the school. But --

JEREMY KLAFF, TEACHER, PAUL D. SCHREIBER HIGH SCHOOL: I haven't found one kid who is sympathetic to George Santos. They know the importance of the numbers on the House of Representatives. And although Santos represents them for issues that they agree on, they don't have sympathy toward the man.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sixteen-year-old Tej Parlak (ph) is one of the future Democrats.

PARLAK (ph): I think it's a very scary situation for us, having someone who's so clearly lied and so clearly fabricated his entire resume representing all of us.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Sixteen-year-old Nathan Jackman (ph) is one of the future Republicans.

NATHAN JACKMAN (ph), STUDENT: I like how the Nassau GOP came out against him, but obviously Kevin McCarthy should come out against him. And they should have a vote on the House floor in order to expel him from Congress.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We asked the teacher if we could watch a class discussion about Santos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It definitely places some mistrust on your political party.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): These are junior AP students.

KLAFF: First of all, what is your initial reaction to knowing that your representative's integrity has been called into question? Romera (ph).

ROMERA (ph), STUDENT: It was kind of shocking. Because how could you -- how could you trust them? How could you -- if you can lie just about just, like, your life and everything you've done, how can you trust them to do the right thing?

KLAFF: How are his lies perhaps different than others, or is it fair game to lie in politics?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I think one of the worst things that he lied about, in my opinion, is lying about the origin of his family, being that they were from -- they were survivors of the Holocaust.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think that it's an obvious choice, given that we live in a community where there's lots of Jewish people. We live in New York. That's where 9/11 happened. He's using things directly correlated to our lives to make himself sound better, because we have emotional attachment to these events.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially in politics. Like, your reputation is always going to stick with you. Everyone is going to remember him as, Oh, he's the guy that lied about everything and still got into Congress.

KLAFF: Has it gotten to a point in politics where we don't really care about integrity?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you think about it with -- because we'll be applying to colleges soon. If a college found out that we lied about everything on our application, they would immediately kick us out. But he lied about everything, and he's going to get to stay. So it's like we're being held to a higher standard of integrity than politicians in this country.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Before we leave Schreiber High, we ask our panel of students this question.

TUCHMAN: You're a constituent of Congressman Santos. If you could say one thing to him, what would you say to him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to know why he felt the need to do all this. TUCHMAN: What would you say to him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you really want to represent our district and you care about the voters and the people, you should resign.

TUCHMAN: What would you say?

PARLAK (ph): Resign to keep democracy working properly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apologize and resign now. It's enough.


JACKMAN (ph): For the good of the constituents of New York's 3rd, resign.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For your district and for your party. resign.



TUCHMAN (voice-over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Port Washington, New York.


LEMON: It's really interesting to watch, because those young people have more integrity than very adult, grown lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

COLLINS: Yes, their perspective on it. And, you know, his district includes parts of Queens and Long Island. What they said, you know, they said there was a lot of Jewish people in this district. They said, obviously, 9/11 hits close to home for everyone in New York.

And they were saying to lie about those two things, they found the most egregious.

And you're right. To hear them speak with such clarity and wisdom on this, it does show that --

LEMON: And they come forward. I think -- I've been saying this. George Santos needs to speak for himself. He needs to get out there and explain himself to people. And he should come on this very program and do it.

So George, come on, answer some questions. We'd love to have you. Right?


Well, until then, he's being followed around by our reporters -- LEMON: By our reporters.

COLLINS: -- on Capitol Hill but hasn't answered many questions.

LEMON: All right. So let's talk some sports. And it goes beyond sports. The Bills and the Bengals set to meet again after Damar Hamlin's collapse mid game. How are players and fans feeling ahead of Sunday's play-offs?

Coy wire is standing by live. Coy, just shake your head yes or no in Buffalo. Is it snowing there? Is it snowing?



LEMON: Rain. No, I see flurries. We'll talk.

COLLINS: It's brutal.