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Allies Fail To Agree On Heavy Tanks Sought By Ukraine; DOJ Tells House GOP It Won't Share Info About Ongoing Criminal Probes; Three Active-Duty Marines Charged In January 6 Capitol Assault; Five First Responders Plead Not Guilty In 2019 Death Of Elijah McClain; New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Resigns After Five Years In Office; Ex-NFL Star Shannon Sharpe Gets In Heated Half-Time Altercation With Grizzlies Players. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 21, 2023 - 06:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Amara Walker.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Amara. I'm Boris Sanchez. This morning, frustrations are mounting in Eastern Europe as Germany and the United States are locked in a stalemate over sending tanks to Ukraine. We're going to take you there for a live report to explain why this aid is so crucial.

WALKER: Plus, not sharing, at least for now. The Justice Department rebuffs GOP efforts for information about its ongoing investigations a move certain to frustrate newly empowered Republicans.

SANCHEZ: And three active duty Marines have been arrested for taking part in the January 6 insurrection how they landed on the FBI's radar.

WALKER: And new developments in the death of Elijah McClain. The charges several first responders are now facing. That's coming up on CNN This Morning.

SANCHEZ: Welcome to your weekend Saturday, January 21st, we're grateful to have you with us. Our weekend is starting out great. Mine is I get to be with Amber Walker.

WALKER: Oh, hey, yes. And I get to be with you. And I also got to have my chocolate cupcake that my daughter baked. So, I got my caffeine and my sugar going for me.

SANCHEZ: Please send one misdirect.

WALKER: I will. Well, we got a lot of news to get to this morning. Up first, a plea from Ukraine in a standoff over tanks. German officials say they won't send their Leopard II tanks to Ukraine unless the U.S. also agrees to send its M1 Abrams tanks to the battlefield. SANCHEZ: And President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says there is no

alternative to sending tanks to Ukraine. He says he's confident the West will support Ukraine as much as necessary to win the war. He notes the time to act is now.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The war started by Russia does not allow delays. And I can thank you hundreds of times, and it will be absolutely just in fear, given all that we have already done, but hundreds of thank you are not hundreds of tanks.


WALKER: A meeting yesterday didn't end the standoff over Germany sending tanks to Ukraine. President Biden is vowing that Ukraine is going to get all the help they need.

Now, the Biden, as were saying, the Biden administration is stuck in the standoff with Germany over whether to send the help that they are saying they need. Ukraine's president says what they need is more weapons. As you heard, Germany's Leopard II tanks are seen as a modern vehicle that would strengthen Ukraine's forces.

SANCHEZ: Let's take you to Ukraine now with CNN senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman. He's live in Kramatorsk. Ben, you're standing right where a missile struck not far from a kindergarten.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, actually, let me just step out of the way and show you this. This happened yesterday morning. Three Russian missiles hit Kramatorsk this right in front of a kindergarten. Fortunately, because of the war, they're not holding. They're not in session or anything like that. But unfortunately, one person was killed in that blast. And in fact, in another town just to the south of here, there was about a dozen missiles striking there overnight.

Now, much talk also here about the failure of the allies, the Western allies, to come up with some agreement to provide Ukraine with these tanks that are so desperately needed. Yesterday, were in the embattled city of Bakhmut, and we saw there that the Ukrainians are fighting hard, trying to stop the Russians from encircling that city.


WEDEMAN (voiceover): In the trenches outside Bakhmut, a mortar crew is at work, hoping to repel Russian forces on the verge of encircling the city. Drone footage shows the impact of their rounds on enemy positions. The refrain among these troops, we need more.

"SPAS", UKRAINIAN ARMY: All speaks about tanks, thanks, tanks. Yes, of course, it's most powerful for our time machines on the field. But now, it's 21st century, we need not only dancing, we need the aviation.

[06:05:05] WEDEMAN: Around Bakhmut slowly and steadily, the Russians are gaining ground. Thursday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, claimed his troops, and only his troops, took the village of Klishchiivka, just south of the city.

In a dugout this officer, nicknamed Koleso, explains Wagner's tactics. They attack at night. The first wave is less trained, but we have to use lots of ammunition against them, he says. The next wave of troops has night vision, better trained and better equipped.

Tactics seemingly from a different day and age inflicting mounting casualties on Ukrainian forces.

This soldier was critically wounded when his armored personnel carrier was struck by Russian fire. Much of Bakhmut is now a ghost town, the sound of shelling, the danger constant.

WEDEMAN (on camera): We're inside this tunnel, inside Bakhmut, taking cover because there's incoming rounds just nearby.

WEDEMAN (voiceover): The few civilians left resigned to their fate. People die from strikes everywhere, Kyyiv and Dnipro, says Valentina. If that's your destiny, death will reach you anywhere.

On a hill above the city, the Soviet era T-72 tank fires into the distance. It's sound and fury, perhaps not enough to turn the tide.


WEDEMAN: And these weapons, like that T-72 tank, are old. We've seen some artillery pieces dating back to 1950. This really underscores why the Ukrainians desperately need more modern weapons. Boris.

WALKER: I'll take that. Thanks so much Ben Wedeman live for us there in Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

Well, the U.S. also targeting a Russian mercenary group with additional sanctions.

SANCHEZ: Yes. CNN reporter Katie Bo Lillis has details on the war being waged financially as well as the one on the battlefield.


KATIE BO LILLIS, CNN REPORTER (on camera): The White House announced on Friday that the U.S. will designate the Russian mercenary organization, the Wagner Group, as a transnational criminal organization and will impose additional sanctions next week against the group and its support network across the world.

The administration also released newly declassified images of Russian rail cars traveling from Russia to North Korea and back in November in what the U.S. believes was the initial delivery of infantry, rockets and missiles for use by the mercenary organization.

Wagner for months has been fighting an absolutely punishing battle against the Ukrainians in an effort to take the town of Bakhmut.

Now, this matters because the war in Ukraine, and the fight in Bakhmut in particular, has increasingly become a grinding war of attrition that military and intelligence analysts say is likely to be decided by who is able to maintain enough ammunition to continue the fight. According to one senior Western intelligence official who spoke to CNN, there are sometimes several thousands of rounds expended a day in Bakhmut alone, which is a staggering expenditure.

The U.S. does not believe that the equipment is likely to change the overall battlefield dynamics in Ukraine, at least not immediately, in part because Bakhmut is not seen by the west as strategically significant for either side. But the concern for the U.S. and the West is that this kind of weapons delivery from North Korea might continue.

And again, in a fight where access to ammunition is absolutely critical, not just for Russia but also for Ukraine, this is something that the U.S. and its allies are going to want to do everything they can to stop. The hope for the U.S. that this terrorism designation and the coming sanctions will make it more difficult for Wagner to do business abroad.

And it's important to remember that Wagner does operate internationally beyond Ukraine. They have operations across Africa as well as in Syria. So this designation does have the potential to impact Russian activities beyond the borders of Ukraine. Boris. Amara.


WALKER: All right, Katie Bo Lillis, thank you very much. The Justice Department on Friday signaled it is unlikely to share information about ongoing criminal investigations with the new Republican controlled House.

SANCHEZ: Yes. In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, the department says that any oversight requests must be weighed against the Department's interest in protecting the integrity of its work, and it must avoid, quote, even a perception that our efforts are being influenced by anything but the law and the facts.


CNN White House reporter Jasmine Wright has been following this story for us. She is tracking this because it's a big deal. Jasmine, how is the White House reacting to this?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOSUE REPORTER: Well, at least the House Judiciary Committee, they responded almost immediately, Boris, after that letter from the DOJ came and they said why is DOJ scared to cooperate with our investigations? Now obviously the Department of Justice, as you can see on the screen there, obviously Department of Justice did not respond yet, but they would not agree with that calculus as they say that they are relying on past precedent.

Now for the White House's part, they haven't officially responded to either this letter or the two requests from the Judiciary Committee or the Oversight Committee. The House Republicans are now chair officially. But as you talk to White House officials down that side of Pennsylvania Avenue, they say that they will respond to any of these committees that operate in good faith.

But in the same breath, Boris, they point out the fact that the House Oversight Committee just announced who will be on that committee for the Republican side including Republicans Majority Taylor Greene, hardliner Paul Gosar.

And they say basically that it's clear that by putting those folks on the committee that would be probing into Biden documents and other facets of the Biden administration that they are not about good faith efforts, instead they are about political stunts.

So you can tell already as the White House really gears up in terms of refuting some of these Republican claims that they plan to be rather combative.

Now, I just have to point out for you, Boris and Amara, just how different the response is from the White House to the special committee, obviously the special prosecution now investigating and looking into Biden's handling of those classified documents and the response to Republicans. Of course, the White House have maintained that they will be at full cooperation with the DOJ as they look into Biden's handling of the documents but for their response to Republicans over on the House side, not so much. Boris. Amara.

SANCHEZ: Jasmine Wright, thank you so much for the reporting. Let's dig deeper now with CNN political analyst and Spectrum news anchor Errol Louis. Errol, great to see you as always bright and early on a Saturday morning. Let's start with the DOJ announcement and the Republican reaction.

Why is DOJ scared to cooperate with our investigations with the tweet from the House Judiciary Committee? How do you read that DOJ decision?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning, Boris. I read the Department of Justice is doing what they would really have to do in a case like this. The Republican leadership, this probe, their initial request for documents was so broad, clearly a fishing expedition, clearly politically motivated, that it would have been really irresponsible to start working with them.

What did they ask for? They asked for visitor logs to the Penn Biden Center going back years. Every person who walked into that center. They're asking for information in support of an unfounded conspiracy theory. You know, have you received any money from the Chinese government, that sort of a thing.

There's really almost nothing to cooperate with. They're starting it with a broad fishing expedition in support of a conspiracy theory, and there's kind of nothing related to the actual facts on the ground, so even if they wanted to cooperate, it would be very difficult to do so.

The Department of Justice, I think, though properly, and the National Archives as well, have seen that this is more about politics than anything else, and they'd be well advised to stay away from it until they could have a more rational conversation with the committee.

SANCHEZ: Pivoting now to the debt ceiling the United States hitting it this week. The White House saying it is not negotiating with House Republicans right now. How involved do you think the White House will be in putting together a deal?

LOUIS: Sooner or later, Boris, there's going to have to be a deal. If the House Republicans make good on their threat, we'll be back in the same situation were in in 2013, in 2011. They can, in fact, harm the good faith and credit of the United States. They can, in fact, gum up the works for government, and the Treasury Secretary has made that clear. So they have between now and roughly early June as the estimate, to try and put something together. That doesn't mean it's going to be easy, though.

I mean, you know, when you try and figure out how to keep spending at fiscal 2022 levels, which is what the pledge was, and it was part of the deal to make Kevin McCarthy the speaker, you know, you don't have a lot of places to go. If you leave -- if you don't touch Medicare, if you don't touch Social Security, if you try not to gut defense spending, you're talking about upwards of 60 percent of the budget right there, and there's not going to be a lot of room for them to do some cutting.

So, the Democrats, I think, are going to hang back, let the Republicans fight it out among themselves, and then eventually they will, in fact, have to come to the negotiating table.

SANCHEZ: Errol, isn't this something of a manufactured crisis? Because, as you've noted before, the United States has gotten very close or actually hit the debt ceiling.


But whether it's Democrats or Republicans in power, both parties spend with reckless abandon, not in real consideration of the debt. So, is there any momentum or incentive on Congress to just abolish the debt ceiling?

LOUIS: Well, look, it's a valuable check. You know, you have to make sure procedure, literally, that every dollar that goes out. This is tax levy money that it's accounted for, so there's no harm in doing it. You know, the real problem, Boris, is that there's a fundamental lack of understanding, I think, in the broad public about how this federal budget works.

I mean, we spent about, you know, the current budget is about $6 trillion. And when you look at opinion polls, people somehow think that, you know, upwards of 20 percent of that is going to foreign aid when the real number is less than 1 percent.

In fact, in 2019, it was less than one-tenth of 1 percent. You know, people don't really understand how we run this country and what it takes to do it. You know, using this loophole and there are others that could be found to try and gum up the works and force spending cuts is more rhetorical than actual. And I think that's going to be really where the negotiations start to

really get intense, is that, you know, Republicans can talk about this, the leadership can talk about holding the government hostage, so to speak, over the debt ceiling. But, you know, ask any individual, one of them, which part of Social Security do you want to cut? How do you want to trim Medicare? How are you going to explain that to the seniors in your district? It'll be a very different conversation.

SANCHEZ: Important questions with huge electoral considerations as well. Errol Louis, got to leave the conversation there. Thanks, as always, for the perspective.

LOUIS: Thank you.

WALKER: Three active duty Marines have been arrested for taking part in the attack on the Capitol, how they ended up on the FBI's radar, and what the military is saying about their arrests.

Plus, five first responders are indicted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain, the charges they're facing, and why the judge has ruled that there will be three separate trials.

And passengers aren't the only ones being compensated for the Southwest Airlines holiday meltdown. Why the company is paying out millions of dollars to employees.



WALKER: All right let's take a look now at some of the stories we are following this morning. Home prices hit a record high last year, even though the real estate market took a downturn. The median price of a home in 2022 was a little more than 30 -- $386,000, the highest on record going back to 1999, and that's according to the association National Association of Realtors.

But home sales had their weakest year since 2014, with just over 5 million homes sold, which is down nearly 18 percent from the year before. Every region of the country saw a decline in sales in December, but economists say they expect sales to pick up again soon.

SANCHEZ: Meantime, respiratory illnesses seem to be easing for the first time since September, with COVID-19 flu and RSV numbers dropping to the lowest levels seen in three months.

New CDC data tracking ER visits shows that respiratory viruses continue to trend downward across the country, and health experts say that it is a good indicator, but not a reason to drop precautions just yet.

WALKER: Southwest Airlines will pay its approximately 9,400 pilots about $45 million in bonuses for working through that holiday travel meltdown, as I'm sure many of you will recall, happened in late December. The company says it will compensate other employees as well but did not clarify who that was or how much they will receive. The airline says 16,700 flights were canceled between December 21 and the 29th, and that would cost the company up to $825 million.

SANCHEZ: Active duty Marines who work intelligence have been arrested in connection with the January 6 Capitol riot, and one was reportedly pushing for a second civil war.

WALKER: Corporal Micah Coomer and Sergeants Joshua Abate and Dodge Dale Hellonen are facing several charges, including disorderly conduct in a capitol building. CNN Sara Murray has the latest details in this report.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Boris and Amara, a stunning set of new arrests related to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Three active duty Marines who work intelligence arrested this week for breaching the Capitol building on January 6. Corporal Micah Coomer and Sergeants Joshua Abate and Dodge Dale Hellonen all facing several charges, including disorderly conduct in a capitol building.

Now, according to a federal affidavit, Coomer ended up on the FBI's radar because he posted photos of himself in the Capitol on Instagram. Agents found messages on Coomer's account in which he's talking to another user. I'm waiting for the Boogaloo, Coomer says, according to the affidavit. What's a Boogaloo? The other user asked. Civil War II, Coomer response.

One of the other guys charged, Joshua Abate admitted during a security clearance interview that he went to the Capitol with two buddies according to these court documents. He allegedly said when he saw the riot was being, quote, portrayed negatively, he decided not to tell anyone he was involved.

All in all, this trio allegedly spent an hour inside the Capitol, traversing the building and even putting a red MAGA hat one of the statues. None of the three men have entered a plea yet. No Marine Corps spokesperson says in a statement to CNN it's aware of these allegations and it's fully cooperating with appropriate authorities in support of the investigation. Back to you guys.


WALKER: All right. Sara Murray. Thank you. New Mexico's Attorney General's office tells CNN that it is now leading a probe into the campaign finances of former Republican political candidate Solomon Pena, who's accused of hiring and conspiring with four men to shoot at the homes of several Democratic officials.


Now, according to Albuquerque police, investigators were looking into whether Pena's campaign was being funded in part by cash from narcotics sales that were laundered into campaign contributions. A hearing is set for Monday to determine whether Pena should be detained or released with conditions. SANCHEZ: Still to come this morning, five first responders in Colorado pleading not guilty to manslaughter charges in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain. We're going to walk through the details in this legal fight. Next.


SANCHEZ: Five Colorado first responders indicted in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain have entered not guilty pleas.


McClain, you might recall, was a 23-year-old black man who died after he was placed in chokehold and given a powerful sedative. The original autopsy report listed the cause of McClain's death as undetermined.

WALKER: An amended autopsy report completed in 2021 said McClain's death was caused by complications from ketamine injection following restraint. The manner of death was left undetermined. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amara, Boris, the two paramedics and the three officers involved in the death of Elijah McClain were arraigned in court on Friday. Each pled not guilty to all of the charges. Three separate trials have been scheduled for the Summer and the early Fall. All five were indicted back in 2021 on charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

Now, in August of 2019, McClain, a young black man was walking home from the convenience store, he was listening to music on his headphones. He had some iced tea with him. He was apprehended -- confronted by three Aurora, Colorado, police officers who were responding to a call about a suspicious individual.

Although, McClain wasn't doing anything wrong at the time, police attempted to apprehend him. One of the officers, Nathan Woodyard, attempted to restrain McClain with a net choke-hold that has since been banned, causing him to briefly lose consciousness. The other two helped restrain McClain, even though he repeatedly said he could not breathe.

The paramedics were called in, they then gave him a large dose of the powerful sedative known as ketamine, too much for his body weight, it later emerged. McClain was declared brain dead and passed away a few days later. He was just 23 years old. Now, the initial autopsy report listed the cause of death as undetermined, but it was amended to say his death was caused by complications from the ketamine injection following restraint.

The manner of death remains undetermined. And the various defendants have been pointing fingers over who is to blame. And so the judge this week ruled that there will be three separate trials. Woodyard, the officer who performed the choke-hold will be tried separately in September.

The other two officers who also helped restrained McClain will be tried together. That trial is scheduled for July 11th, and the two paramedics will also be tried together, their jury selections begin on August 7th. Boris, Amara, back to you.

SANCHEZ: Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much for that. Joining us now is civil rights attorney and legal affairs commentator Areva Martin. Areva, good morning, we're grateful that you're sharing part of your weekend with us. I want to start on a point that Lucy made there. There's going to be three separate trials in the death of Elijah McClain, one for the officer who applied the choke-hold, another for the two paramedics who administered the ketamine.

And the third for the two police officers who were also present on the scene. How do you see that dynamic, three separate prosecutions playing out?

AREVA MARTIN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Not surprising, Boris, in this case, because all of these defendants are pointing the fingers at each other, each accusing the other of being the cause of death in this case. We know that the first officer that arrived on the scene with the others is the one that has been accused of applying that choke- hold, that has now been banned by Colorado.

The officers that arrived later are saying, look, it was that choke- hold, which is the cause of death, and then you have the paramedics who arrived, who made a huge mistake in determining the weight of Elijah McClain, and based on their erroneous assumption about his weight, applied this egregious amount of the sedative.

And the officers are saying it's the sedative that was actually the cause of his cardiac arrest which led to his ultimate brain death, and then, you know, his ultimate death. So, in these cases where the defense of the defendants are antagonistic to each other, it's not uncommon for a judge to use his or her discretion and to order separate trials. So not surprised in this case because of these antagonistic defenses.

SANCHEZ: And Areva, as we've seen in previous cases with the murder of George Floyd as an example, body-cam footage can provide critical evidence. How do you think the body-cam footage in this case might be playing a role?

MARTIN: I think the body-cam footage in this case is also very important. Because we know that Elijah McClain like George Floyd was crying out, saying that he couldn't breathe as the three officers involved were applying pressure to him and kneeling on him, using their body weight against his body as he called out.

And we know that at one point, he was unconscious, and according to some reports, when the paramedic arrived and applied the -- or actually injected him with the sedative, he was in fact unconscious at the time.


So I think the body-cam videos going to be critically important to each of these cases, and again could be that piece of evidence which causes the juries, the different juries in these cases to convict these officers and first responders.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and we should note that there is some ambiguity in the autopsy report as Lucy laid out. There's a difference between cause of death and manner of death. In the initial autopsy, McClain's cause of death was changed from undetermined to complications from ketamine and the choke-hold. His manner of death, however, was left undetermined. Do you think that ambiguity helps the defendants?

MARTIN: Well, I think what we're going to see Boris is each of the defendants is trying to exploit that cause of death or the fact that the autopsy report leaves undetermined the manner or the cause of death. We know that it's going to be argued extensively. We should expect to see lots of experts coming in to each of these three trials in both the defense of the defendants as well as experts coming in to testify on behalf of the prosecution.

We know that Elijah McClain's mother, Boris, also has spoken out against the severing of these trials. She is very upset, says that all five of these individuals who were involved in the death of her son, as she believes that all five should be tried together. She's also very upset about the time period in which it's taking to get these cases actually to trial.

We know that this case didn't get a lot of media attention until after George Floyd's death, even though Elijah McClain died at the hands of police even before George Floyd did. So these cases are going to be very interesting. Looking to note too, Boris, is, typically when you have cases severed in the way that these cases have been severed, what happens in that first trial can have a significant impact on what the defendants do in the subsequent trial.

Meaning, if there's a conviction in the first trial, you may see a grievance by the other defendants.

SANCHEZ: Yes, important things to look out for. Areva Martin, thank you so much as always.

MARTIN: Thank you, Boris.

WALKER: All right, still ahead, a surprise resignation from one of the world's youngest female leaders, New Zealand's Prime Minister announcing she is stepping down after nearly six years. A deeper look behind the decision coming up.



WALKER: After five years in power, as one of the world's youngest female leaders, Jacinda Ardern says it's a weight off her shoulders to resign from her position as New Zealand's prime minister.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: History will remember that I slept well for the first time in a long time last night. But it's still a range of emotions, so of course, feel sad, but also I do have --


WALKER: Well, known for her empathy and humanity while leading New Zealand through the pandemic and after some mass shootings, Prime Minister Ardern has also faced an increasing number of threats related to vaccinations, COVID restrictions and firearms. But she says that had nothing to do with her decision to resign.


ARDERN: We give all that we can for as long as we can, and then it's time. And for me, it's time.


WALKER: For more on Prime Minister Ardern's legacy, Andrew Kirton joining us now. He is her former campaign manager. I have to say, I was just listening and watching that speech. I mean, I was so struck by her vulnerability and her transparency. But Andrew, I mean, as you know, this came as a shock to a lot of people.

You know, Ardern, you saw her meteoric rise as we all did as an international celebrity, an icon. But she also had to lead New Zealand through some really tough times including the deadly Christ Church attack, and, of course, those really strict COVID lockdowns. What did you make of her decision to say, look, it's time to go?

ANDREW KIRTON, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR JACINDA ARDERN: Well, good morning, Amara. Yes, exactly. It was one of those moments where people remember where they were when they heard it. It was quite shocking, quite surprising. But then, you take a moment to reflect and you think, actually, you know, that is a human response.

And the decision that she made was a big one for her. But it's actually what -- part of what made her special. She was human, she was normal, usually, you have to pry politicians out of power, she tries to go under her own terms, spend more time with her family. You know, she's faced more as you say within her five and a half years in office that many leaders do in twice that time.

So, you know, a lot of people here are thinking, well, you know, at that time we can understand that we're all human, we're all parents, we can understand that.

WALKER: Tell us a little bit about Ardern herself. I mean, again, you know her, you know, more than any of us, clearly do, and her resume. I mean, just because that's all I've got to go on. I mean, it's really impressive, right? I mean, she was only 37 when she came in to office. And you know, we all watched as she, you know, was -- she'd given birth in office, and she was only the second world leader ever to do so. But when you hear her say, my tank is empty. What do you think contributed to that?

KIRTON: Well, I think every day, she got up early and thought deeply and cared deeply and worked hard, you know. A part of me thought, she'd just keep on going until she dropped. She was really committed to the role. You know, she's a humble person, and that's kind of what made her so good. She was relatable. She's just like you and I.


You know, New Zealanders are used to sort of seeing her at the supermarket, at the gas station, dropping her daughter off at play school. Just a regular person. She loves, you know, a drink of whiskey. She likes to read and you know, that's her. She decided that once she decided to become the leader of the Labor Party in New Zealand and go for the election, 2017, that eventually got her into being the prime minister, she gave it 110 percent, it didn't stop.

Would often lie awake at night thinking about COVID, thinking about anything that she should have been doing differently or better. So she gave every moment of every day.

WALKER: Talk to me about what you think her legacy will be.

KIRTON: Yes, I think when we look back, historians will, I guess will look back at this really turbulent time and global history about New Zealand's history as well, and think how can we have squeezed so many dramatic moments into such a short space of time. I mean, not only for her personally, in terms of first woman leader and a long time to get prepared for office.

But also dealing with that terrible terrorist attack in Christ Church, killing 50 people, and the swift action she took to ban semi-automatic weapon afterwards. There was a volcanic eruption in New Zealand that killed 22 people, nine months after that, and then of course, the big one came with Kyle Albert(ph).

So, I think though, historians will look at this time and think, gosh, this is someone that had to deal with a lot. You know, at heart, she is more of a policy wonk. She would have been quite happy dealing with the things that have gone to her. Working on policy for housing, policy for children, policy for education.

She didn't choose any of these dramatic moments to happen. But the great thing about it was, when they did, she threw out the rule book about what leaders should do in these situations.

WALKER: Yes --

KIRTON: And demonstrated that, you know, you can't actually be -- strong.

WALKER: Yes --

KIRTON: She rejected the notion that if you're empathetic, you're weak.

WALKER: Yes, and look, you know, she is stepping down, resigning as she is seeing her -- and her party's ratings go down. And she did say that, you know, she would hope that she would create a path for women with her leadership. And I believe she did so. Andrew Kirton, thank you so much for your time.

KIRTON: Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: The Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals set to face off again this weekend, this time in the playoffs just weeks after Damar Hamlin's terrifying cardiac arrest on the field. We have a preview of this huge matchup, and how the two cities have united in the wake of this scare.



SANCHEZ: An NFL hall of famer almost got into a brawl at an NBA game. Andy Scholes joins us now to break down the details. Andy, why was Shannon Sharpe getting ready to fight Ja Morant's dad.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: OK, so Boris, so Shannon Sharpe, you know, he works at "Fox", opposite Skip Bayless, every morning, they argue about sports. He's a big Lakers fan and he's a friend of LeBron. He was courtside last night for the game against the Grizzlies.

And Sharpe, you know, he was talking a little trash at some of the Grizzlies players, you know, sticking up for LeBron. They didn't like it. They got upset right at half-time, Steven Adams, he came over to confront Sharpe, he had to be held back. Ja Morant, much of the team also coming over, Ja's dad, team Morant is in there, tepid away with Sharpe, lots of mouthing back and forth before Sharpe was eventually escorted to the back.

Now, he did come back out for the third quarter, and he and Ja's dad, you see him there, they actually hugged it out, talked it over, they were friends after that. The Lakers ended up winning in dramatic fashion, 122-121. Afterwards, the Grizzlies didn't want to discuss Sharpe, while, LeBron said, that's my guy, always had his back, and he's got mine.

All right, the divisional round of the NFL playoffs starts later today. We've got a big game in Buffalo tomorrow, as the Bills and Bengals are going to have a rematch from the game three weeks ago that was cancelled after Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest on the field. Now, Hamlin's sudden injury, it had an effect on so many. And on this week's difference makers, Coy Wire speaks to two women who came together after that night to launch Hearts for Hamlin and Higgins. A life-saving campaign to get people trained in CPR.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Bills-Bengals, We Stand Together Facebook group was created after tragically -- just like for a place where fans come together and talk.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was crying. My mom was texting me, she was crying. It was just really hard to process that information. So in those situations, you often feel helpless and you want to do something and you just don't know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of feels like a dream, it was hard to see -- hard to see like all of those men go through that, because you're not supposed to go through that. No one is supposed to go through that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It wasn't about football anymore, even though football brought us together. It was about a human being who was in serious trouble. And I think the Facebook group, it was nice to just get with folks that didn't know how to process it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I just thought that it'd be really cool in fact, to keep the camaraderie going. We had had fans maybe donate to like heart health or cardiac awareness. I was a teacher for 12 years, so I am certified. I just thought it was kind of normal that companies have their employees train like to be certified in CPR, and that is not the case and it really needs to be the case, as far as I'm concerned.

It's -- if you're an able-bodied human being, I think that you should know how to perform proper CPR because it saves lives.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: And what did it mean to you to have someone like Emily, a Bengals fan, wanting to jump in and rally for something much bigger than just two teams?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The incident with Damar and Tee on January 2nd, I think spoke volumes about bringing folks together, bringing communities together. We're friends forever now between the two of us here, Bengals and Bills fans.


SCHOLES: Yes, pretty awesome. Emily and Anna(ph) didn't know each other. They came together to start something good after what happened to Damar Hamlin.


They also started a fundraiser for the American Heart Association with a goal of $385,000. That is a combination of Damar Hamlin and Tee Higgins' numbers there, Boris. So it's just awesome to see what's come out of, you know, that incident almost three weeks ago now where we thought the worst. But Damar Hamlin looks to be doing well now and so many other good things have come from it.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I love to see that, despite differences on the field, the important things remain the important things. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

WALKER: All right, coming up at the top of the hour, a standoff brewing as Ukraine calls for more help. The U.S. and Germany at odds over sending tanks into the war-torn Ukraine, but the Ukrainian president says there's no alternative, no time to waste. We'll take you there live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)