Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Tornadoes Devastate Community in Texas; California Governor Gavin Newsom Criticizes Republican Obstruction as Contributing to Gun Violence Crisis; Germany and U.S. Agree to Send Tanks to Ukraine; Gunman Accused of Killing Seven People in California to be Arraigned; Classified Documents Found in Indiana Home of Former Vice President Mike Pence. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 08:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: We're hearing harrowing stories from survivors.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just all ran into the restrooms and just watched the whole building fall. Luckily the restrooms didn't fall. That was the only thing that kept us alive. I don't get scared much, but that's probably the scariest thing I have been through in my whole life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She got the notice on her phone from our security camera, and she looked at it. Then the neighbor called and said a tornado hit the house. I was like, all right, let's go see what's going on. And we round the corner and the house is gone. So the whole top section of the house was 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.


LEMON: You want to see how dangerous it is, look at your screen right now. This is a gas line on fire in the middle of all the wreckage. Emergency responders say they were slammed with 911 calls for gas leaks and building collapses.


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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: CNN's Rosa Flores on the ground in hard hit Pasadena, Texas. You have been seeing the damage there. Tell us about it, please, Rosa.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, there were so many intense moments. That's what the people here say. And we're on the path of that destruction. I want you to look over my shoulder, because what you're seeing here is some of the downed power lines at this height of this storm. And you can see that some of the power poles were snapped like toothpicks. At the height of this storm, about 100,000 customers were without power.

If you look beyond these power lines, you'll see that there's a mangled mess back there. That's actually a gym. The owner of that gym telling KHOU, a CNN affiliate, that at the time of this storm there were four people that were inside the gym. They were actually exercising, and they all ran to the bathroom. And the owner described just the chaos, the loud noises of just the metal, and as you might imagine, there's a lot of equipment, there's a lot of stuff inside the gym. All of that was moving around. A lot of very intense moments.

The owner, of course, said, yes, this is a loss of property. But Don, he is counting his blessings because he and all of the other patrons inside this gym are safe this morning, and that's the big takeaway here is local officials are saying thank goodness that nobody died. Don?

LEMON: Thank goodness. Rosa, thank you so much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And 70 million people under winter weather alerts all across the country this morning. Which areas are going to be impacted the most? Let's bring in our meteorologist Chad Myers. What are we looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're looking at a foot of snow in parts of Arkansas, and that snow got on tree limbs and brought power lines down, over 150,000 customers without power in that area, and it's still snowing off toward the east and toward the northeast. So Indianapolis all the way up toward Toledo. That would be the middle of the cone, if we want to call it, the heaviest snowfall, the intense bulls-eye of where the snow is falling now and where it will continue to fall throughout the day.

We have snow in Detroit, in Cleveland, in Pittsburgh. Very difficult to travel around Pittsburgh in those hills with snow coming down at this rate, and the snow continues to come down. Snow in Chicago, had a picture out of Chicago earlier of the snow coming down in downtown. It's actually coming down harder right now than it has for much of the day.

So that's what we're going to be seeing, this heavy snow piling up, one inch on top of another, and many areas from Indianapolis, about five to six, right through Toledo, probably closer to eight, and then on up into Ontario and Quebec.

On the other side, on the tornado side, the severe weather side, we have had 14 tornadoes yesterday, two this morning, 16 total. So now we're still adding up that damage, and there are more storms that are going to try to convince, just spin across the Gulf Coast, and then move onshore, either with a waterspout or even some tornado warnings are likely today. Farther to the north, we will see the rain into New York City. We'll see the snow to the north, and that's what we expect for the rest of the day, guys.

HARLOW: A lot of people have to brace themselves. Chad, thank you very much.

We do have significant breaking news this morning in the war on Ukraine. The German government has officially announced it will deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after weeks of pressure from allies. This comes after two officials tell CNN the United States is also finalizing plans to send about 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as well. Russia has vowed to destroy any military equipment that is supplied to Ukraine. The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak praising the move, calling it the right decision by NATO allies. He tweeted "Together we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace." Coming up, we'll be joined by Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a veteran diplomat, about all of these developments.


LEMON: Looking forward to that. In the meantime, California, the governor there, Gavin Newsom, calling out Republicans for blocking gun safety laws after three mass shootings in his state in as many days. Newsom not mincing words, telling CNN Republican obstruction is contributing to the country's gun violence crisis.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: 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 of freedom. Freedom from what? To have your kid only do six or seven drills to hide under the desk each and every year, as opposed to two or three. Freedom from what? Having complete vulnerability being anywhere in a crowd, dancing with the loved one on new year's eve, lunar new year. What kind of freedom is that?


LEMON: Let's get to now to our Kyung Lah live in Monterey Park, California, for CNN THIS MORNING. Kyung, good morning to you. I first want to talk about the shooting at Half Moon Bay. The gunman accused of killing seven people there, expected to be arraigned today. Take us through that, please.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the arraignment of Chunli Zhao is expected later this afternoon, eastern time, 4:30 eastern time, Don. And we expect to learn much more about the details, the exact charges that he may be facing, although the district attorney has certainly indicated that it will involve the homicide of these people who were murdered at this mushroom farm. What we know from investigators at this point is he didn't just target these victims, he also pursued them according to what the authorities are telling us. And as far as the connection between all of them, Don and Poppy, it is that they simply worked together. He is a former employee of this mushroom farm.

HARLOW: Kyung, you are in Monterey Park, California. It is stunning that we're talking about three mass shootings in California in as many days. But you're in Monterey Park, the site of the other mass shooting, and there are new questions about how long it took police, right, to warn the community when that gunman was still at large after the first shooting at the first dance hall. What are the questions that need to be answered on that this morning?

LAH: The real question that you're talking about, Poppy, is a five hour gap from when the shooting happened to when the public was first notified in a news conference with authorities that there was a mass shooter on the loose. It took five hours for the public to be notified. There weren't any shutdowns immediately, so that's a concern here.

The sheriff did say at a news conference on Monday that the information was handled judiciously, strategically, and that he believe it paid off. But there are significant questions, Poppy.

HARLOW: For sure. Kyung Lah, thank you for your continued reporting on this.

Meantime, another one. First on CNN this reporting, broke late yesterday, that another batch of classified documents has been found, this time in the home of former Vice President Mike Pence, about a dozen classified documents discovered in his Indiana home last week by his lawyer. Those documents have been returned to the FBI. In a letter to the National Archives from Pence's attorney, it says that the former vice president was, quote, "unaware of the sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence." It added that Pence quote, "understands the high importance of protecting sensitive documents and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry."

So let's bring in who broke the news, CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, who broke this news, as well as CNN White House correspondent M.J. Lee. Good morning. Late night was having a field day, Jamie, because -- but it's not funny. These are classified documents with potentially very serious national security implications. What more do you know about how they were found?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct. We've been joking about everyone is now checking their sock drawer. But as you say, this should not have happened. These are marked documents. It appears that the classified documents in the case of former Vice President Mike Pence were packed up from the vice president's residence at the time. So that was a very different system from what they were doing at the White House. I'm told by sources involved with presidential papers and vice presidential papers at the Archives that his staff actually did a very rigorous process, what they did at the White House, but perhaps what happened at the residence slipped through.

So there are four boxes that they had taken with them. First it was moved to a temporary house in Virginia. Then it was moved to the house in Indiana. We're told the boxes were taped up, that they had never been gone through, but they weren't kept in a secure location. At one point, when they discovered the roughly 12 classified documents, they did take those out and put them in a safe until the FBI came and picked them up.


LEMON: Jamie, let me ask you. Mike Pence was asked about documents from David Muir, and basically said, no, I don't have any documents, I didn't take any documents, and that no one should have documents. So how does this square up with what he told David Muir in that interview?

GANGEL: So it wasn't just David Muir. He was out on book tour, he was asked this question over and over, and he repeatedly said that he didn't take them. I think, in this case, it was inadvertent, it was an honest mistake. He did not think he had taken them. That said, what it shows is that even someone who had a rigorous process, it doesn't always work. He did say in one interview that his staff had searched. I asked about that this morning and was told that what they were talking about was originally when they left the White House, that search happened because how did they then miss these four boxes.

HARLOW: Yes, right. Great reporting, Jamie. Really stunning, but stay with us as we bring back in M.J. Lee. So M.J., I wonder how the Biden White House feels about it this morning.

M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I can tell you the White House is certainly not doing some kind of public victory dance. But at the same time, when the Pence news broke yesterday, I can tell you that there was sort of this sense of quiet relief because keep in mind, the Biden White House has really been under siege for the last couple of weeks. Ever since we learned about the first batch of classified documents, getting asked all these questions about how those documents possibly ended up in Biden's office, in Biden's personal home, why the nature of their disclosures have been so drip, drip, drip, in nature, and then of course the appointment of the special counsel.

And yesterday when the Pence news broke, there was sort of this sense that the temperature could potentially come down a little bit for President Biden because this now becomes not only just a Biden focused story, and I think there are essentially two hopes right now from the Biden White House and Biden allies. One is just this overall emphasis that it wasn't just Biden's former aides who made the mistake of packing up boxes and having classified documents end up where they shouldn't have. And second is just emphasizing what they have been trying to do all along, and that is to say it's less sort of the issue of where the documents ended up and that mistakes were made, but more about what these aids and lawyers did once they discovered the documents. And they have really been trying to press the case all along that, look, as soon as these lawyers discover these documents, they did the right thing by immediately going to the National Archives. So they're really hoping that on both of those fronts, the Pence issue can help them sort of make that case.

LEMON: It's interesting. It's going to be interesting to see. Are they going to appoint another special counsel, because they're going to run out of special counsels.

HARLOW: My gosh, three?

LEMON: It could be three. Who knows how many other people have classified documents in their possession? Thank you, Jamie. Thank you, M.J., appreciate that. And you can read more of Jamie's reporting on the Pence documents. Go to

HARLOW: There's a whole really interesting timeline of how this unfolded.

LEMON: Justin Bieber joining a long list of pop stars that sell their music catalogs. We're going to tell you how much he got for them straight ahead.

HARLOW: A pretty penny.

A Democratic congressman announcing he will be challenging newly independent Kyrsten Sinema for her Senate seat in Arizona, also acknowledging he's putting his fellow Democrats in a difficult spot on who to support. Congressman Ruben Gallego joins us live on CNN this morning.



LEMON: Progressive Congressman Ruben Gallego acknowledging that his entrance into the Arizona Senate race this week, has put his fellow Democrats in a difficult spot saying, "I know they're in a very sticky situation," while also defending the decision. If the newly Independent Kyrsten Sinema decides to run again, Democratic leaders would be forced to choose between standing by Gallego, or Sinema the incumbent who caucuses with Democrats. So, the seat carries enormous stakes for Democrat's control of the Senate, leaders from both parties addressing his run.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): As to whether or not she chooses to run again, it's really her decision. And I think it is a big dilemma for the Senate Democratic majority to decide whether to support her or to support somebody running on the Democratic ticket.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-KY): Look, Senator Sinema is an excellent Congress member and Senate member. And she has done a lot of good things here. But it's much too early to make a decision.


LEMON: All right. So, joining me now, Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona. Thank you, Congressman, I appreciate you joining us.

REP. RUBEN GALLEGO (D-AZ): Good morning.

LEMON: Good morning to you. So, let me -- why do it? Why put your party and yourself in this position?

GALLEGO: Well, because it's not about the party. It's not about myself. It's about the people of Arizona, and they have not gotten good service from Senator Sinema.

LEMON: So, why then do you believe -- because our number of Senate Democrats who have been reluctant to embrace their candidacy, are you worried about that? Are you worried about the reluctance on your party?

GALLEGO: No, I'm -- I have to focus on the voters of Arizona, the people I've known forever through I've actually worked for, and will continue to work for. The people I'm going to be able to talk to this week, starting in Tucson ending up in Whiteriver, Arizona, those are the people that really matter. (INAUDIBLE)

LEMON: But you're not (INAUDIBLE) I'm sure. You would prefer that they supported you.

GALLEGO: Of course. But look, let's be honest, it's a very sticky situation. You have a -- you know, a lot of members over there that have known each other forever. It's a little insider's club. They don't want to start, you know, messing around with their -- you know, and they're friends. And, you know, we have time, at the end of the day, what matters is I'm going to win because the voters of Arizona want to vote for me.

LEMON: Have you discussed your candidacy with the leader Schumer or Senator Gary Peters? I mean, they run the Senate Democratic campaign committee. What did they tell you if you did speak with them?

GALLEGO: We've been (INAUDIBLE) a lot of other issues, a lot of elicitive issues will always be -- have open line of communications. But we're not talking about them -- about this campaign. Not at this point. But we are not afraid to talk to anybody, and we will be reaching out to them and reaching out to all their political organizations. They know we're strong campaign when running.

LEMON: Well, listen, the reason I'm asking you about your -- the concerns from Democrats so much is because they are defending at least as, you know, 23 seats in 2024. And Arizona's voters are almost evenly split three ways between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. And I just wonder, you know, they favor moderate candidates, by the way, could your candidacy hand the seat to the GOP?

[08:20:12] GALLEGO: No, actually (INAUDIBLE) is probably only that's going to save the seat from the GOP. Kyrsten Sinema can't win Arizona anymore. When you say the vote split are third, Sinema is polling at a total of 14 percent. She's lost trust of everybody. And even when there is no Democrat running, she's still losing to a Republican of five points. So, over here in kind of D.C. Land and Lala (PH) Land, everyone thinks that she's doing very well, she is not. There's a reason why I'm running. There's a reason why I've been able to, you know, raise more than a million dollars in less than 24 hours with through 27 -- 27,000 individual donors at GallegoforArizona is because she's no longer popular. People know that she can't win, and she's potentially going to give power back to Republicans, because she is so unpopular with everybody in Arizona.

LEMON: Look, can we put the last graphic back up because I want people to see that when you talked about her polling, and I'm just wondering -- there it is. OK. So, there she -- as an Independent, and I think, you know, she is facing political headwinds, which caused her to make some of the -- her recent decisions. I am wondering --

GALLEGO: No, that's not true.

LEMON: Go on.

GALLEGO: Don, that's not true. Mark Kelly did not make those recent decisions in terms of how she's voted. Mark Kelly ran as a very strong Democrat, and made some, you know, great decisions, and ended up having one of the largest victories as a Senate -- as a Senate candidate.

LEMON: I'm talking about her. I'm not talking about Mark Kelly. And so, she is facing political headwinds, is what I'm saying, and caused her to make some recent decision.

GALLEGO: Oh, yes. She's -- yes, absolutely. I apologize. Yes, she's running as an Independent because she can't win a primary.


GALLEGO: She's no longer popular with anybody.

LEMON: Have you spoken to her?

GALLEGO: No, but that doesn't really matter. But nobody in Arizona has really spoken to her in the last four years. This is why she is where she is. She hasn't had a town hall at a minimum of three years, at least what we're counting. This is at least, you know, I'm trying to figure out, around COVID. You know, she doesn't have meetings with people unless there's all checks involved. She doesn't really have anything unscripted. We hardly see her in Arizona, she has cut off everybody unless you are a big donor. So, again, I don't really matter in terms of having to speak to her. What matters is that she doesn't speak to Arizona anymore. She doesn't actually --

LEMON: So, what are you saying?

GALLEGO: -- you know, talk to them.

LEMON: What are you saying? For her, you're saying this is just about donors. And -- what are you saying, Congressman?

GALLEGO: I'm saying that the values of Arizonans do not match anymore with Kyrsten Sinema. She cares more about donors. She cares more about what lobbyists think, she cares more about what D.C. thinks. Because she doesn't talk to Arizonans anymore. She doesn't go and fight for us anymore. She's more likely to fight for pharmaceutical companies, and the seniors in Arizona have to drive away to Mexico to get cheap drug prices.


GALLEGO: You know, she's more likely to fight for, you know, your private equity managers, your hedge fund managers, you know, to make sure they keep their -- your capital -- their tax cut, instead of trying to make sure that people can keep their child tax credit.

LEMON: It sounds --


LEMON: -- like you're saying that she is -- it sounds like you're saying, correct me if I'm wrong, I don't want to put words in your mouth, that she's bought and paid for by special interests, that she's in it for herself, and the money? Is that -- I mean, that's why I said, what are you saying here?

GALLEGO: I mean, exactly that. And I don't think she's in it for the money for herself, I think she's actually, you know, very, you know, upright person when it comes to her personal finances. But she has sold out to big, you know, interests, just to do their biddings, to do the bidding of everyday Arizonans.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, again, I'm interested in what you have to say about this. Because last week, you know, they're at Davos, right? Sinema and Joe Manchin were on a panel together there. Sinema defended her decision to block the filibuster reform, and then high five Manchin over their efforts to block it. Watch this.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): -- some would say, that there were reluctant folks working in Congress in the last two years. I would actually say that was the basis for the productivity for some incredible achievements that made a difference for the American people in the last two years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still don't agree on getting rid of the filibuster, correct?

SINEMA: That's correct.


LEMON: What do you make of that moment, sir?

GALLEGO: Well, that moment was during MLK weekend, which is a very important weekend in Arizona because for many years, we did not actually have Martin Luther King weekend, and got boycotted. The fact that she's high fiving, killing the filibuster on MLK weekend when she -- again had skipped. And then, bragging about killing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, someone who she claims is -- was his -- was her friend, was her mentor, tells you everything about her. She -- you know, she doesn't really represent anything. She's just about holding power for those who already had power. At the end of the day, it's not really about trying to work for the people of Arizona. It's trying to work for the people that have, you know, interests, whether it's in Davos or Wall Street, or whether it's in Washington, D.C.

LEMON: I have to ask you about this. What's going on in Washington? I'm sure you've heard about the House Speaker New House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last night announcing that he is keeping or kicking two Democrats off the intelligence committee or keeping them off the intelligence committee as well. Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, what do you think of that?


GALLEGO: Well, this is just like grievance politics that, that McCarthy is executing right now. He's doing it to basically keep power because I know his members (INAUDIBLE) but we know that Eric Swalwell and, you know, Schiff didn't -- have not done anything incorrectly. You know, the FBI has clearly stated that Swalwell is -- has been cleared, had to not do anything at all. I mean, including, you know, Paul Ryan, and different speakers before McCarthy, who all have said, there's been nothing done incorrectly. So, at one point, this will obviously change. I think McCarthy is going to look like a fool. But he's only doing this to make sure that he can hold power, not because he -- these two are somehow some kind of threat to national security. If anything, we need them on these committees because they are very bright, they know what they're doing, they had the context that we need, and instead, she's doing this to appease the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world.

LEMON: Yes, listen, classified documents are a big issue. Have you checked to make sure that you don't have any? Do you have any concerns about yourself?

GALLEGO: So, I'm a millennial. So, I don't do paper. I -- you know, I always work of electronics. And even then, when it comes to classified information, I only go and read it in a skiff. And when I leave that skiff, everything I live -- leaves us there. So, I'm not concerned about it. I understand what's happening with Vice President Pence, and the President. To me, it seems like it's very inadvertent. I'm glad that they are cooperating. That's what you should do when you come to this point. But let's make sure we understand, there is a difference between them two and former President Trump. What he is doing was illegal, should continue to be illegal, and he should be held to justice for that.

LEMON: Congressman Gallego, thank you for your time. Have a great day. GALLEGO: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

HARLOW: I think, it would be great to have Senator Sinema on as well to respond.

LEMON: To discuss, yes (INAUDIBLE)


HARLOW: She's welcome any day. Yes.

LEMON: Senator, yes, we'd love to have you.

HARLOW: OK. This morning's number is 200 million. I'll show you why, next.

LEMON: And new details this morning about Jeremy Renner's snow plough accident What we learned from the sheriff's report, next.