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Hamlin Attends Bills Playoff Loss; White House Targets 18 House Republicans; Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) is Interviewed about Drugs, Biden and the National Debt. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 23, 2023 - 06:30   ET



JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: They are starting to realize what they're doing. A law enforcement source told me yesterday that this was believed to be related to this incident. So they knew very quickly that this was likely the person they were dealing with.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk quickly about the gun because it was a semiautomatic pistol that was -- had been - it had a cartridge in it, right, so that it could fire quickly without changing it.


LEMON: Now, we are told that they were able to identify the suspect through the gun, but yet -- and still the gun was illegal here in California. Can you explain that to us? How does that work?

CAMPBELL: Yes, see, we've been asking law enforcement about the genesis of that weapon, when it was registered, when it was purchased. We don't know the details.

What's different about this shooter compared to some of the many, you know, cases that you and I have sadly covered, is his age. This is an elderly man. And so it could be that he actually obtained that weapon prior to California's assault weapons ban going into effect. So, he may have, you know, purchased it legally decades ago. We just don't know. But authorities say that that was key to helping them track down who this person was.

LEMON: Josh Campbell, thank you very much.


LEMON: As it is coming up on daybreak here, in a while here in California, people are going to be waking up again to a very horrific event. Real, traumatic for everyone involved here, members of the community and law enforcement, Poppy and Kaitlan.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely. I mean you can -- you can see why. This is supposed to be a moment of celebration for them -

HARLOW: The lunar new year.

COLLINS: And now it's turned into this moment of tragedy.

Don, we'll stay with you, obviously, on the ground there.

Also this morning, there's a new warning from Russia about what they claim will happen if the west does send offensive weapons and tanks to Ukraine.

Also, it is the end of the road this season for the Buffalo Bills. The highs, the lows of their rematch with the Bengals.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone talking about a neutral AFC championship game. Not even thinking about you guys. How much did that motivate you coming into this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better send those refunds.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final play. It looks like we're on a penalty. Blitz down over the middle and (INAUDIBLE) gets smoked right away. And that will do it. The 49ers back to the championship game!


COLLINS: The NFC and AFC championship games are set. The Philadelphia Eagles are going to take on the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals will go head-to-head with the Kansas City Chiefs after beating out the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. It was the Bills and Bengals first match up since Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest midgame a few weeks ago. Hamlin even making an appearance.

Coy Wire is live in Buffalo.

Coy, it was always hard to see Damar Hamlin through all the snow yesterday as you were watching him there at that game. A really special moment, though. But one that, in the end, left some disappointed Bills fans, unfortunately for Wolf Blitzer.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. First there was excitement in the anticipation of this gorgeous snowy night, Kaitlan. Then there was disbelief with the way things played out on the field. And afterwards players were in tears. One young fan crying his eyes out told me, I just love this team so much. The Buffalo Bills have become America's team and - through all this, persevering through adversity, the team and Damar Hamlin uniting so many people along the way. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIRE: Damar Hamlin's first public appearance since suffering cardiac arrest on the field when these two teams played each other 20 days prior. Hamlin, in a suite with his family during the game, pumping up the crowd on the Jumbotron and holding up his heart hands, which have become a symbol for spreading love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was a pretty cool moment.

JOSH ALLEN, QUARTERBACK, BUFFALO BILLS: Wanted to play for him and continue our mission. And, again, we just -- we ran into a team that played better than us tonight.

WIRE: The psychological roller coaster of these last three weeks seemingly leaving the Bills emotionally exhausted as the Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow plowed through the snow, jumping out to an early 14-0 lead. Bills' star quarterback Josh Allen trying to throw their way into a comeback. Just wasn't happening. Cincinnati winning 27-10.

So, it's Bengals and Chiefs in Kansas City in the AFC championship next week, not the Bills and Chiefs in the first ever neutral site title game in Atlanta.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You better send those refunds.

ZAC TAYLOR, HEAD COACH, CINCINNATI BENGALS: We don't care who's favored, who's not. We're built for this and - and we're excited to go on the road to Kansas City.

WIRE: As for the Buffalo Bills and their fans, they have so much of which they can be proud.

ALLEN: We could have made a lot of excuses throughout - throughout the year on what was going on, but guys continued to fight.


WIRE: This team continued to fight, Kaitlan and Poppy, for the people of Buffalo. They were out in the community after a racist mass shooting eight months ago. They gave back after a tragic snowstorm claimed the lives of dozens at Christmastime. And then nearly losing a teammate on the field. It really is unimaginable how they navigated all that and still finished with one of the best records in the NFL. It's inspirational beyond measure.

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. They had quite a season.

Coy Wire and I were rooting for them, and sad to see them not make it (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: I was. I was. You know that, Coy. Thank you for all your reporting there throughout all of this. Coy, you've been - you've been great.

WIRE: Thanks, Poppy.

COLLINS: All right, ahead this morning, we have new CNN reporting on why and how the White House is planning to focus on 18 House Republicans who were in districts that President Biden won.

HARLOW: What efforts are being made at the national level to end the deadliest drug epidemic in our country. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger joins us with the work she's doing, ahead.



COLLINS: Squeeze and shame. That is how the White House is planning to target 18 House Republicans from districts where voters supported President Biden over former President Trump in 2020. For Biden and House Democratic leaders, they believe this is the pathway back to a majority in 2024.

CNN's Isaac Dovere joins us with this reporting.

Isaac, what did you find as you were talking to these White House officials, these Biden allies, about how they plan to try to get these district blue again?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Well, look, this is starting to think forward to November, Kaitlan, and starting to think about how they can offer carrots, like maybe invitations to the president's box at the Kennedy Center, or sticks like, if they don't work with the White House on what they want, flying the president on Air Force One, trying to do campaign events or rallies in the districts.

All of it with the idea that there are -- there's a very slim majority in the House, as we know, for the Republicans, thinking that in these 18 districts where Biden did better in 2020, that are represented by the House Republicans now, that's the way to the majority -- back to the majority for Democrats in November of next year. But it's also maybe a way to squeeze those Republicans, thinking about their electoral concerns, to work with the White House in the way that they want, to do some governing in between now and then.


COLLINS: Yes, well, I thought this quote that you have in your story from Mike Lawler, who we've had on this program before, that Republican here in New York, he said, you know - about -- speaking about these efforts from the White House, aren't they going to work to get us to lose next November no matter what? I mean how is the White House viewing that?

DOVERE: Well, look, this is politics. This is what it is. And it's trying to figure out how -- where the breaking point is essentially. How far people like Mike Lawler can be pushed.

Lawler is in a district that supported Biden by a pretty heavy margin comparatively to even some of these other Republicans that are in these Biden districts. You also have five other Republicans in New York, six in California, that the White House and House Democrats really (INAUDIBLE). Of course one of those seats in New York is George Santos' district. That district went for Biden by the highest margin of a district that is currently represented by a Republican. That district in Long Island. And there is a sense that maybe that race could be coming up soon if there's a special election for his seat if something happens there. Of course, we don't know where that's going at this point.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see how the map is playing out. Already looking ahead to the next elections.

Isaac, great reporting. Thank you.

DOVERE: Thank you.

HARLOW: Senior Biden administration officials are addressing the grim reality of the deadliest drug epidemic in American history.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Number one killer of Americans between the age of 18 and 49, fentanyl. Last year we lost more than 100,000 Americans to drug overdoses, 70 percent of those were from synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The DEA has also seized more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder. That much fentanyl could kill every single American.


HARLOW: More than 107,000 deaths from fentanyl just last year. About two-thirds involved synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl. And those are real people. They are sons. They are daughters. They are brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, loved ones.

So, joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.

President Biden recently signed into law two pieces of her legislation trying to address this crisis. She's also a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a former CIA officer.

Thank you for your time this morning.


HARLOW: I saw your tweet last -

SPANBERGER: Thank you so much.

HARLOW: Of course.

I saw your tweet last week about this and appreciate you getting up early to join us because I think this is not talked about nearly enough and it is a crisis. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin, as we know. You have spent so much time with parents grieving the loss of their children. One of your pieces of legislation was actually named after a victim of this crisis, that is Summer Barrow.

How can this actually change things when we're dealing with the deadliest drug epidemic in American history?

SPANBERGER: Well, it's important, and in the introduction you spoke to it, is how potent fentanyl is. We know that in Virginia more than 75 percent of overdoses were overdoses related to fentanyl in 2021.

And so there's two elements to this. One is fighting the substance use disorder epidemic. Helping those, preventing drug addiction, helping those facing it and then helping them throughout their long recovery. That's the Summer Barrow Prevention Treatment Recovery Act that you briefly mentioned.

But we have to stop the fentanyl that's coming across our borders. So frequently entering at country at points of entry, right, and it's - it's concealed, it's hidden in trucks and shipments coming across our southern border. But the challenge with fentanyl is, because of its potency, it is able to be concealed relatively easily compared to other drugs that our DHS officials, that CBP have long been prepared for and able to interdict.

So, securing America's Borders Against Fentanyl Act, which is the legislation that was signed into law late last year, does a couple really straightforward things. We know that if we're going to get at fentanyl once it's in our country, we have to stop it from even coming in. So my law would require that DHS develop new technologies and strategies to detect fentanyl, recognizing the uniqueness of it, given how potent it is, small quantities can go a long way, be incredibly deadly, but also easy to conceal. And so our call to DHS is to get serious about this. And in end of year funding we appropriated dollars for them to take on this new action.

HARLOW: I'm glad you pointed out that much of this is crossing through legal points of entry.


HARLOW: I think "The Washington Post" did an extraordinary job in their deep dive in December of really getting into all of the failures on the national level from both parties, not to mention, you know, the DEA is understaffed by 800 people. They have 800 vacancies right now.

And here's what one law enforcement official told "The Washington Post." Law enforcement did the best it could. We can only do so much. In Washington, they have been very slow to respond to this and now we are at a confluence of paralysis.

Do you agree that Washington has failed America largely, in both parties, on this crisis?

[06:50:05] SPANBERGER: I think if we're talking about what Congress has done, there are so many more things that we have done. So, I'm going to be an optimist about this. It's -- there's a lot of opportunity. But when it comes to immigration reform, when it comes to a broken immigration system that day after day creates flash points at the border, overstresses an understaffed border patrol, yes, we have to do more. When it comes to the fact that many of our CBP officers are using antiquated equipment that cannot begin to find, you know, well concealed drugs, particularly those in small quantities, like fentanyl coming across the southern border, yes, we need to do more. We need to hold them to a higher standard. We need to make sure they have the funding to invest in new technologies.

And we even understand the reality of the threat. So much of what happens on Capitol Hill is we hear colleagues of mine in Congress just politicizing the issue. It is a complicated issue, but it only gets fixed when we're real about the threat. The threat is that large, transnational, criminal organizations, cartels, are trafficking drugs across our southern border, through points of entry, and they are eluding and evaluating detection. And insuring that CBP officers have the ability to actually interdict drugs in the quantities that they're coming through, they do extraordinary work, but they need more support. And that's what this legislation is about, recognizing the reality of the threat and helping DHS and CBP have the actual equipment that they need on the ground in order to be able to do their job.

HARLOW: Yes, something needs to change because it is, you know, wiping away so many children in this country, in particular.

Congresswoman, I do want to turn to the classified documents found, once again, more of them on Friday in President Biden's Delaware home. Just the day before that, on Thursday addressing a question on this, he said, there's no there there and he has no regrets. You're a former CIA officer. So, you know what it means to handle classified documents. And I wonder if you're concerned about now four different discoveries of classified documents being held outside of where they should have been by this president?

SPANBERGER: Absolutely I'm concerned by any appearance of classified documents outside of a Secure Compartmented Information Facility, known as a SCIF. I'm a former CIA officer. I used to handle classified documents every day. I used to collect the information that was then put into classified documents. So, I know that the sources of those classified materials at times can be individuals who are risking their lives to provide valuable information to inform lawmakers, to inform the president, to inform our military and diplomatic leaders. And safeguarding those documents is about safeguarding our nation's secretaries.

And so I think it's important that the attorney general has appointed a special counsel. I think that will be an important step in moving forward, answering the question how these documents got out of secured spaces, how long they have been in uncontrolled spaces and ideally insure that this never ever happened again. And so I think that that's an important step and it's one that I'm glad the attorney general has taken.

HARLOW: Finally, before you go, you have called our national debt a long-term threat to our economic stability and national security. The White House position is still that they will not negotiate at all with Republicans on the debt ceiling. Do you think that's a mistake by the White House not to negotiate at all?

SPANBERGER: I think there are two parallel conversations. I think the bigger threat than our existing debt is the catastrophic threat of a potential fault on our nation's debt. The catastrophic national security implications, economic implications of defaulting on our nation's debt, of putting the American full faith and credit of the United States of America in danger, that is an absolute crisis of our own making if we go down that path.

I think that we can have two dependent conversations. One, the United States of America must pay its debts. We need to be a reliable borrower on the international stage. And then, separately, though in tandem, have the conversation about the financial choices that we're making, how much we are borrowing, who we are borrowing it from and long term plans to get our spending in a place where it is -- insert your adjective -- sustainable, less, or better than it is now.


SPANBERGER: But I think holding the full faith and credit hostage and potentially risking or being willing to risk a default on our nation's debt for negotiations, those things -- that's just not a tenable threat that some of my Republican colleagues are making, though I do recognize that we should, and I would agree, that we should be having long-term conversations about our nation's fiscal status.


HARLOW: Yes. We must. It's been a quarter century since we've actually -- the government has spent less than we've taken in. We can't operate like that.

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, thanks very much.

SPANBERGER: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right, ahead, we're going to take you back to Monterey Park, California. Don is there live on the ground. The scene of the country's deadliest mass shooting since the massacre in Uvalde. Our special, live coverage continues next.



JEFF LIOU, PASTOR IN SAN GABRIEL VALLEY: We see elders walking around all the time.

[07:00:00] This has been a safe neighborhood for them to walk around and have community. Historic, Taiwanese/Chinese community. So, to see this happen in this.