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Tornado Strikes Houston Area as Midwest Braces for Heavy Snow; Germany to Send Tanks to Ukraine; Classified Documents Found at Pence's Home; McCarthy Boots Schiff, Swalwell from Intelligence Committee; Technical Glitch Sparks Trading Halt for Dozens of Stocks. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR/CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It takes about seven months, but the nuclear technology would allow deep-space travel at record speed. The first tests could occur as soon as 2027.


All right. Thanks for joining me this morning. I'm Christine Romans. CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The House is gone. So whole top section of the House is completely ruined. So it's toast. The House will be torn down now, so kind of hard to take. But hey, we're alive. That's the main thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just all ran to the restrooms and just watched the whole building fall. Luckily, the restrooms didn't fall. That's the only thing that kept us alive.


LEMON: My God, look. What is that a tree behind them? And you saw the roof damage. Man, that is major.

Good morning, everyone. Kaitlan is on assignment. Poppy and I are here.



HARLOW: Wow indeed.

LEMON: A lot of weather and storm damage.

HARLOW: A lot of bad weather. All across the country.

LEMON: Yes, all across the country.

So we're going to take you through all of it. Officials calling the tornado damage near Houston, they're saying it is catastrophic. Buildings left destroyed, debris scattered across miles. Look at that.

This morning the area is on high alert. We are live on the ground in Pasadena, Texas.

Plus this.


REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): What in the hell is going on?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You tell me. How did classified documents end up at your brother's House in Indiana?

PENCE: I have no idea. If he said he didn't, he didn't. My brother is very honest.


HARLOW: Classified documents found again, but in a different vice president's home, Vice -- former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home now in the hands of the FBI. Those documents are. What we're learning about the new discovery.

And this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could have been you. Don't gavel me. I'm here to let you know, I can speak without the mic.


LEMON: Boy, oh boy. Emotions are high in Memphis as residents brace for the release of that body cam video showing police beating Tyre Nichols. What we now know about the deadly encounter. We're going to take you live to Memphis on that story.

There's so much to cover this morning, but we're going to begin with a dangerous winter storm barreling East after unleashing a powerful tornado in Texas. Buildings and homes obliterated near Houston. And now Alabama and the Florida Panhandle are on high alert at this hour.

This morning more than 80 million Americans are under winter storm alerts from Mexico to Maine. The Midwest is bracing for some of the heaviest rainfall -- snowfall, I should say, this season. We could see major flight cancellations at airports in cities like Chicago, and Detroit.

In Texas, tornado-ravaged communities in Houston are are cleaning up this morning. We're hearing harrowing stories from survivors who witnessed the tornado's sheer power.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were right here. Like, the overhead door was right here. Like, you can see where it's at. So I was shutting that. And we ran into the restrooms right here. And that's when everything just come down -- everything, all the beams, everything, just come down on top of us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were all inside. The tornado, we could hear the noise. The drop-down ceiling inside started lifting up and down. We all went into the bathroom. The storm went over pretty quick. Came outside and saw all this damage. We don't even know where that trailer came from, by the way.


LEMON: Boy, oh, boy. This is serious. Look at that, Poppy. Look at that.

HARLOW: I know.

LEMON: An open gas line in Baytown, Texas, spewing flames up from the ground in the middle of all the carnage, all the wreckage there.

Emergency responders say that they were swamped with 911 calls for building collapses and gas leaks, among other things.

Rosa Flores is live on the ground near Pasadena, Texas, this morning. Wow, Rosa, this is crazy.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it is. There's no question there's a path of destruction where these tornados and storms hit.

You can see it behind me. There's downed power lines. And that mangled mess that you see behind those power lines, that used to be a gym. The owner telling our affiliate, KHRU (ph), that they hid in the bathroom at the time to save their lives. And they say that that action actually saved their lives.

So this morning, people here in the Houston area counting their blessings, because no fatalities have been reported.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We couldn't see anything. It just went white. Everything went white. Explosions were happening. It was terrifying.

FLORES (voice-over): The devastating scenes of destruction after more than a dozen tornados reportedly touched down in Texas and Louisiana Tuesday.

CHIEF JOSH BRUEGGER, PASADENA, TEXAS POLICE: I'm going to tell you, my 25 years here, this is probably the worst damage that I've seen. Just catastrophic.

FLORES (voice-over): This neighborhood just outside Houston, left in ruins, with roofs torn clear off homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just all ran to the restrooms and just watched the whole building fall. Luckily, the restrooms didn't fall. That was the only thing that kept us alive. [06:05:07]

FLORES (voice-over): Families in Pasadena, Texas, displaced from their homes and facing the daunting task of rebuilding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the most scary thing, you know, in my life. But thank to God that we are here, you know, sound and alive.

FLORES (voice-over): This family says the second story of their home is destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House is gone, so whole top section of the House is completely ruined. So it's toast. The House will be torn down now. So kind of hard to take. But hey, we're alive, and that's the main thing.

FLORES (voice-over): The mayor stressing the severity of this weather event, speaking in front of the town's damaged animal shelter, where dogs had to be evacuated.

MAYOR JEFF WAGNER, PASADENA, TEXAS We have an all hands on deck right now of all our neighborhoods, just not this neighborhood. All throughout Pasadena, the tornados touched here, touched there, and we're going everything we can to make sure all our citizens are safe.

FLORES (voice-over): Nearby, in Deer Park, Texas, the storm was so forceful it overturned cars and left them mangled in parking lots.

FLORES: There is a car that is yards from where we are. I talked to the sister of the owner of that car. She tells me that that car was parked right over where I am actually standing.

FLORES (voice-over): The tornados left destruction in their wake, filling the streets with debris, and destroying homes, stores, and businesses.

Aerials show this church destroyed. The roof is gone. And you can see tables and furniture strewn across the rooms.

An assisted living facility sustained structural damage, forcing 59 residents to evacuate.

And this clinic completely torn apart. The windows shattered and debris filling the parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights kept flickering and we could hear a loud explosion. All you could see was, like, debris and stuff. So I locked the door and was running towards the back. And then as I was going towards the door, the glass just came in and then just the building started ripping apart.


FLORES: Now, those cars that you saw that were mangled and overturned, that was in Deer Park.

I talked to the owner of one of those cars, and Don, she described the tense moment. She was safe, thank goodness.

She says that she was inside the building at the time that the tornado hit in that area. But Don, she says that her car was parked yards from where it was, so it wasn't just mangled. This storm, this tornado, moved vehicles yards from where they were parked -- Don.

LEMON: Unbelievable. Rosa will continue to follow throughout the hours here on CNN. Thank you so much.

HARLOW: All right. Breaking news moments ago, a major development in the war in Ukraine.

After weeks of pressure from Western allies, Germany announcing it will send those Leopard 2 tanks to the war zone, joining the United States in doing so.

Our Fred Pleitgen joins us live in Eastern Ukraine. Look, this is huge news, right? And very welcome news for Volodymyr Zelenskyy and all of Ukraine.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is. And you already heard yesterday when it sort of was seeping through that this was probably going to happen that the Ukrainians certainly are very happy.

We just got some details from the Germans. They say that their main goal is to create, in the end, two tank battalions that the Ukrainians are supposed to get.

That would be about 88 of these Leopard 2 main battle tanks.

But they also say that, in a first step right now, they're send 14 of these tanks as fast as possible.

The Germans also saying they want the training for the Ukrainians to start as fast as possible.

There was one interesting nuance that we got, Poppy, from the Germans, as well. They're saying that they are going to give permission to other European countries that own these tanks to also send these Leopard 2 main battle tanks to the Ukrainians, as well. That means the Ukrainians could get a lot of these tanks very quickly, because a lot of European nations have these tanks.

Now of course, we know that all this came after some pretty tough negotiations between the Germans and the United States. In the end the United States relenting to sending Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine as well.

Of course, the Ukrainians pretty happy to be getting tanks, both of German make and of American make, in the not-too-distance future, as well, guys

HARLOW: And Fred, there's been quite the response this morning from Russia. Right?

PLEITGEN: Yes. Well, yes, you're absolutely right.

And I was actually messaging with the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, a little while ago. And first of all, he was saying that obviously the Russians say that this will increase the tension here on the continent. He says that suffering will increase for the Ukrainians, as well. He wrote that in a message to me.

But really, some strong words coming from the Russian ambassador to the United States. And he said -- came out, and he said that Abrams tanks that enter Ukraine will be destroyed by the Russians.

Of course, the Russians so far have said that about pretty much every new weapons system that the U.S. and its allies have sent so far. None of that has happened.

Again, the Ukrainians really very, very happy with these decisions, really believe they're going to get a lot more tanks than they had originally thought, guys.

HARLOW: All ahead of what is expected to be a real Russian escalation in the spring. So key timing.


HARLOW: Fred, thank you for the reporting on the ground in Ukraine.


LEMON: We'll continue to follow that.

Meantime, the FBI and the Justice Department launching reviews of the classified documents discovered at the Indiana home of the former vice president, Mike Pence.


About a dozen documents were found at Pence's home in Carmel. They were immediately turned over to the FBI.

Paula Reid is on this story. She's live in Washington for CNN this morning. Paula, good morning to you.

Pence repeatedly claimed in the past that he has no classified documents. What's his explanation? Classified -- and he said on tape that he didn't have any, and now this.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. Now this. But his lawyer says that Pence was unaware that he had these classified materials.

At this point, Don, we don't know what these documents were or their level of classification. But this is the third time in recent history where a former president or vice president has retained classified documents after leaving office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REID (voice-over): Lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked classified at his Indiana home last week. Pence previously insisted he did not possess any such materials.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: Well, there would be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area.

REID (voice-over): But he asked his lawyers to conduct a search of his home out of an abundance of caution in the wake of classified documents being found at two locations connected to president Biden.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People know I take classified documents and classified material seriously.

REID (voice-over): In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Pence's representative to the archives, Greg Jacobs, wrote that "A small number of documents bearing classified markings were inadvertently boxed and transported to the vice president's home."

The classified material was stored in boxes that first went to Pence's temporary home in Virginia before being moved to Indiana, but the boxes were not stored in a secure area.

His lawyers say he was unaware of the materials. Pence previously shared his careful process for handling such documents.

PENCE: I go to the safe where my military aide would place those classified materials. I'd pull them out, review them. I'd receive a presentation to them. And then, frankly, more often than not, Larry, I would simply return them back to the file that I'd received them in.

REID (voice-over): The Justice Department is now reviewing how the materials ended up at Pence's House. A similar review last year over classified documents found at President Biden's home and office prompted the appointment of a special counsel.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm here today to announce the appointment of Robert Hur as a special counsel.

REID (voice-over): Former President Trump is also under investigation for possibly mishandling classified information, as well as other crimes, including obstruction.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We did nothing wrong. I was president. I had the right to declassify.

REID (voice-over): Pence's estranged former political partner offered support yesterday, writing on social media, "Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone."

It is unclear whether a special counsel will be needed in this case, but Pence previously pushed for an investigation of others. PENCE: The handling of classified materials, a very serious issue for

our nation, and we ought to take it seriously. But there ought to be equal treatment under the law.


REID (on camera): CNN has reached out to former presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. Their representatives say they have all handed over every classified document that they possess and don't intend to do additional searches. But, of course, none of those men will be running for president next year -- Don.

LEMON: Do they all, Paula, have classified documents just somewhere, hanging out?

REID: There has been a suggestion we need an amnesty period. That's one suggestion. Even one of the former president's lawyers has suggested maybe just do amnesty. Everybody hand over what you have.


REID: Because this is another thing every day.

LEMON: We'll talk more about this as we continue on. Thank you, Paula. Appreciate that.

HARLOW: I think you're asking the question everyone is thinking.

LEMON: Probably. Probs true.

HARLOW: Probs true.

New this morning, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy making good on his threat, booting Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committees.

The speaker tweeting he rejected their appointments, because he is, quote, "committed to returning the committee to one genuine -- one of genuine honesty and credibility."

Lauren Fox joins us live from Capitol Hill.

It's -- it's so important to fact check the reasoning that McCarthy has given for booting the two of them, Lauren.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, McCarthy has been warning that this was the decision he was going to make for months and years now, ever since Democrats voted on the House floor to reject two members from their committees, to kick them off committees, Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, for making threatening comments at the time against their sitting colleagues.

That was something that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said really warranted action from House Democrats.

[06:15:05] Kevin McCarthy said this last night about his reasoning for kicking Schiff and Swalwell off the Intel Committee.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This is not anything political. This is not similar to what the Democrats did. But integrity matters. And they have failed in that place, from Adam Schiff using a position of the intel chair, lying to the American public again and again.


FOX: But McCarthy has been warning for months now that this was the action he was going to take. He's been saying that Democrats made their bed years ago when they made the decision to kick off Republicans from committees.

So it's really interesting that he said this has nothing to do with what Democrats have done in the past.

LEMON: It's interesting, but I'm wondering, though. This is probably just the beginning if McCarthy is going to make other moves like this.

FOX: Well, all eyes are on whether or not he tries to bring a vote to the floor a vote to oust Ilhan Omar from her committee assignment, a Democrat who serves on Foreign Affairs.

Here's one of the issues with that. The Select Committee on Intelligence, he has unilateral power. But he would need a vote of the full House, and there are some signs that a lot of Republican rank- and-file may not be comfortable ousting Omar from her seat on that committee.

LEMON: All right. Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill this morning. Lauren, thank you very much.

HARLOW: All right. Later today the man accused of killing seven people in Half Moon Bay, California, this week is set to be arraigned. Investigators say 66-year-old Chunli Zhao lived and worked at the site of the first shooting, a mushroom farm. That's where he is accused of killing four of his victims on Monday.

Police say he killed three others at a nearby site.


MAYOR DEBORAH PENROSE, HALF MOON BAY, CALIFORNIA: Our hearts are torn out of our chests for all of these individuals and families. Our neighbors, our friends, the people that work in our community and live in our community. We're a small agricultural coast-side town, and we have never experienced anything like this.


HARLOW: Well, deputies say the semiautomatic handgun used in the shootings was legally registered to the suspect. CNN has also learned that Zhao has previously been accused of trying to suffocate a former coworker.

The shooting was one of three, if you can believe it, in California in three days, 18 people murdered in those. California Governor Gavin Newsom sounded incredibly frustrated as he spoke with CNN, saying something needs to be done federally. Watch this.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: The stories are devastating. They're devastating. Because the stories are not just about, you know, a bullet wound or a loved one's life lost. It's a myriad of issues.

It's the person that's on the hospital bed whose leg is shattered. They just put a rod in the leg. Who says I need to get out of here because I can't afford the healthcare bills. Or I need to get out of here, because I can't lose my job tomorrow.

The farm workers here, who literally said, I have no paycheck today, I have no cash. I can't even buy food tonight.

I mean, the complete abject failure of our immigration policies exposed yesterday and today. The complete utter abject failure of commonsense on gun safety and immigration policy.

So for me, I guess maybe after 22 days and 32 trillion gallons of water falling on the state and being in the crisis of droughts and floods, and now two mass shootings in three days, I guess I'm a little more prone to express myself about my frustrations with what I'm not seeing nationally and particularly in Congress right now.

We need the federal government to do its job. This is on everybody. We've chosen this. This is our decision, to live in these conditions. It doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. So we've chosen this. We've accepted this.

We can sit there and say thoughts and prayers or we can look in the mirror and say this is the price, I guess, of whatever. Fill in the blank, freedom? This is the price. Freedom? Freedom from what? To have your kid only do six or seven drills to hide under a desk each and every year, as opposed to two or three. Freedom from what? Having complete vulnerability being anywhere in a crowd? Dancing with a loved one on New Year's Eve? Lunar New Year?


HARLOW: Wow. Later this hour we'll take a closer look at the mass violence taking place across America in our streets and our communities, as Gavin Newsom said, in a way that just doesn't happen to this level elsewhere in the world.

LEMON: You cannot argue with the man, especially the frustration that he has, and rightly so.


LEMON: Because of what happened. And he's right. The lawmakers in Washington should take action.

Freedom for what? Where does your freedom to own a gun trump other people's freedom to be safe? I think we need to figure that out.

HARLOW: And many of California's gun laws that exist now are very vulnerable to being overturned because of the Supreme Court decision last term.



HARLOW: Which means that if -- if they do want more to be done, it's going to have to be federally.

LEMON: We'll talk more.

Up next, the stock market goes haywire after a technical glitch causes wild price swings on hundreds of stocks. So what happened and what does it mean for trading today?

HARLOW: Plus, senators channeling -- this was great if you missed it -- their inner Taylor Swift.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Ticketmaster should look in the mirror and say, I'm the problem. It's me.

TAYLOR SWIFT, SINGER (singing): It's me. Hi, I'm the problem, it's me.







HARLOW: That was the end of a wild day on Wall Street after a stock exchange glitch that led to big price swings on more than 250 company stocks. Some high-profile stocks temporarily frozen, like Exxon, McDonald's, Walmart. You know, big blue-chip companies.

Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent, is here; also, CNN media analyst Sara Fischer.

Good morning.

LEMON: Good morning.

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Hey. LEMON: That used to -- you know what? That took me back, by the way.


LEMON: When I would do the 9 a.m. show, and we would pause. And then we'd go to Christine --

HARLOW: Yes, for the bell.

LEMON: And we'd go to the bell. And we'd talk about the market.

ROMANS: So -- because what happened yesterday was, at the opening bell they have an auction that sets the opening prices. They call it the open cross or whatever.

And it just didn't happen. And so suddenly, you had these automatic canceled orders. You couldn't sort of set the price for the day. So it was a technical glitch that just caused all kinds of problems at the New York Stock Exchange.


Two hundred and fifty-some stocks affected. Eighty of them actually, they had to halt the trading. Those are stocks worth $6 trillion in value.

Now, for investors like most of us, who are probably buy and hold investors, this is something that affected traders on the floor and the big institutional investors. If you're a buy and hold investors, they're going to work out some of these erroneous prices.

But it just was a terrible day with all these earnings reports and so much news and --

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: -- concerns about recession. And then all of a sudden, you can't get opening prices at the New York Stock Exchange. It's a black eye for the exchange, for sure.

HARLOW: It absolutely it. OK. Can we talk about Ticketmaster?


HARLOW: Because apparently, in Washington, all the senators' favorite artist is Taylor Swift.

LEMON: Taylor Swift.

HARLOW: Listen.


BLUMENTHAL: Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say I'm the problem. It's me. SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): You can't have too much consolidation

consolidation. Something that, unfortunately for this country, as an ode to Taylor Swift, I will say we know all too well.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): I had hoped as of a few months ago to get the gavel back, but once again, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers.

A lot of people seem to think that's somehow a solution. I think it's a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

I have to throw out, in deference to my daughter Eliza, one more Taylor Swift quote. Karma is a relaxing thought. Aren't you envious that for you it's not? That's all I've got to say.


LEMON: Do they know what --

HARLOW: I feel like their young staff may have had a part of putting that together.

LEMON: As the kids say, cringe.

FISHER: Very cringe.

HARLOW: But important point. And what's going to happen to Ticketmaster and Live Nation?

FISHER: I think they're under a lot of heat right now. So we were just talking about this before. The government let Live Nation and Ticketmaster merge in 2010. but they said, Look, we'll let you do it. But you can't do things that's going to discriminate against the consumer or against other venues if they don't use Ticketmaster if they're Live Nation venues.

Then in 2020, they renewed that agreement. It expires in five years.

I think that the Taylor Swift does is it creates a flash point. It creates a point where we're all going to look back at this fiasco and say, should we renew this?


FISCHER: Should they still be combined? And if they aren't still combined, that reduces dramatically their market power, their ability to make money.

HARLOW: Senator Blumenthal said this is the one thing that can unite Democrats and Republicans.

ROMANS: It was bipartisan yesterday. Taylor Swift is the only bipartisan thing in America at the moment.

LEMON: But you know, what's interesting is that you can't underestimate the impact of this. Because I was like, Is this really that big? It is.

HARLOW: It is.

LEMON: We were doing the number with Harry yesterday, and we were talking about. There were people who said, Well, Stub Hub. I like them. They do it pretty much right. But there's something about Ticketmaster, their handling of this.

ROMANS: So something -- something that the company said. I mean, look, the company handled it so poorly.

And these people who were in line with codes for presale and suddenly couldn't get their tickets, that -- it was just so unfair and egregious.

One of the solutions could be maybe these presale tickets are not transferable. That's something they talked about yesterday. So that you don't have these bots and these resellers who control so much of the market.

Another thing is revisiting the merger; looking back at the consent agreement; revisiting the merger and actually having the Department of Justice make some -- some calls on whether this can be allowed here.

But it was a huge fail. It also, I think, is reflective of the popularity of this new tour. I mean, they sold 2.4 million tickets, just like --

HARLOW: Swift, 2024.

ROMANS: Yes, I mean --

LEMON: They did it swiftly. Sorry. I'm like the lawmakers now.

HARLOW: Nice one.

Can we quickly, before you go, talk about the huge -- the first time the Biden administration, under DOJ, has taken on big tech in this way. A huge lawsuit against -- charges against Google. Explain why it matters.

FISCHER: It matters because Google is by far the biggest advertising business in the world. You're talking over $200 billion in revenue a year.

And so what the Justice Department is saying is, we want to minimize that. We want to make it easier for everybody, including news publishers like my company, Axios, and CNN to make money. This could dramatically reduce Google's ability to remain one of the largest companies in the world.

HARLOW: And they say? Google says?

FISCHER: And Google says this is a bad argument. We're not doing anything wrong so you can't punish us. You can't break us up. Of course, that's everyone's defense when the Justice Department comes after them.

But I'd say they've got a point. It's not like there's a second in line. The numbers: Google is 200, Meta is 116 billion. The third in line is, like, Ten Cent and Amazon, and those are 40 and 30 billion.

HARLOW: I'm just so fascinating by the way that sort of look at anti- trust has changed in this country.


ROMANS: In this Google lawsuit they're even pointing out, the Google executives have said, Look, our business model is like Citigroup or Goldman Sachs owning the New York Stock Exchange. They own --

HARLOW: That was internal documents.

ROMANS: They own all pieces of the business, and is that inherently anti-competitive?

LEMON: Thank you both.

HARLOW: Thanks.

LEMON: Appreciate it. Good to see you.

Next another fantastic George Santos claim uncovered.