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Scrutiny over Santos; Campaign Funding; Government Minders Follow CNN in China; Suze Orman is Interviewed about the Uncertainty of Social Security. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 26, 2023 - 06:30   ET





JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": George Santos, who's now admitted to the Federal Election Commission that a $500,000 personal loan he claimed to have made to his campaign didn't actually come from him. Of course that money didn't come from him. Two years ago the guy reported his income was $55,000 a year. The only way somebody like George Santos comes into $500,000 is if he intentionally slips on varnish he spilled so he could sue Home Depot, OK.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So, that is the half million dollar question this morning, where did George Santos get his money? Well, the New York Republicans Congressional Campaign amended ten filings with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday. And this is the big one, really, $500,000. See that box? It's marked personal funds of the candidate, It is unchecked in the new filing. Is it just an oversight or is it a change there? Where did that money come from? That's what everyone is wondering.

Our Manu Raju tracked down the congressman who said he doesn't know anything about his own filings.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sir, why did you amend your FEC report to say $500,000 -

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): No. No, no, no. No, let's -- let's make it very clear, I don't amend anything. I don't touch any of my FEC stuff, right?

RAJU: Well, what -

SANTOS: So, don't be disingenuous and report that I did because you know that every campaign hires fiduciaries. So, I'm not aware of that answer.


LEMON: CNN's Eva McKend live in Washington for CNN THIS MORNING.

Eva, good morning to you.

Another day and there's another Santos scandal.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, indeed. Good morning to you, Don.

You know, we have covered the litany of scandals involving Congressman Santos, but it's the money, it's this issue of his campaign finances that is truly the most consequential. As you saw there, we're getting very little clarify from him on this.

A Federal Election Commission filing initially said that more than $700,000 were personal loans to his campaign. But now the revisions appear to indicate most of that loan didn't come from him after all, but he's still listed as a source of loans elsewhere in his filings, just deepening the confusion.


A campaign finance expert that we spoke with, he says he's baffled by this.


JORDAN LIBOWITZ, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON: Either this is incredibly sloppy bookkeeping or he's saying this wasn't really his money. And in that case, there's a legal question of whether this is an illegal pass-through contribution, is this an illegal corporate contribution. There are a number of ways he could have pushed money that was not actually his to his campaign but they aren't legal.


MCKEND: So, I also asked that expert, are these type of amendments common? I was curious. He said, not this volume. That this steady stream of amendments is unusual, Don.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, Eva, because this new reporting that you have about some question about whether he lied about the treasure on these documents, what is that about?

MCKEND: Well, that appears to be the case. In filings yesterday, campaign officials listed Thomas Datwyler as the treasurer of several of Santos' committees. But Datwyler's lawyer tells CNN he declined that roll and did not authorize the filings made by Santos' team.

So, this is perplexing here. This treasurer listed on these documents says, listen, I didn't do this. I didn't make these authorizations. What is going on here is the big question, Don.

LEMON: And, Eva, you'll be following it, as well as the rest of our reporters in Washington, D.C. Thank you very much for that.

CNN is on the ground in rural China with the government officials in close pursuit. What are their concerns? A live report from Beijing just ahead.

Plus this.


VICTIM (to Wagner): No, no, I'm not (INAUDIBLE) anything because I'm really scared. You know, you should get back.

WAGNER: All right, I will.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Waking up to a carjacking ahead. How police rescue a woman who went from napping in the backseat to being part of a wild chase.



LEMON: Welcome back.

This morning, newly relaxed coronavirus restrictions in China mean millions of families can finally be together for lunar new year celebrations.

CNN's Selina Wang visited a rural area to learn more about the Covid situation on the ground. The adults all work in factories in cities, so this was the only time they could see their children. But as Selina reported, government officials on the ground had other plans.

CNN's Selina Wang live in Beijing with more.

Hello to you, Selina.

Why were you being followed by Chinese officials?


So, for some context, in China, it's not unusual for local officials in smaller places to check on foreign journalists in their area and essentially try and keep tabs on you. But what was surprising was the amount of resources they put into following us. At times we could see half a dozen officials tailing us. Several of them even booked rooms in our same hotel. Sometimes they just stood close by and watched. But other times they actually obstructed our reporting.


WANG: So, we've got the three government minders following us.

WANG (voice over): It's common for local officials to keep a close eye on foreign journalists in their jurisdictions, but they were especially persistent in this village, following our every move.

So, we drive out of the village to visit a public hospital in a neighboring county about two hours away, hoping these government minders won't follow us so people will feel more comfortable speaking freely.

We walk inside the fever (ph) clinic.

WANG (on camera): See, it's almost entirely empty.

WANG (voice over): In the main hospital area, there are more people, but it's not packed. It's a stark contrast to the images of overflowing hospitals in major cities across China from weeks before.

I ask a nurse on another floor of the hospital if it was packed with patients a few weeks ago. She said it's always packed and busy here. We try to ask why it looks empty here, but another doctor interrupts, ending our interview.

We find one woman, a patient's family member, who is willing to speak to us. She says everyone around her has already gotten Covid and recovered. Soon after, we realize we're being followed, apparently by a whole different crew.

WANG (on camera): There's at least two, three government minders. They are still following us all the way here. It's very obvious.

WANG (voice over): They follow us to hospital after hospital, preventing anyone from speaking to us.

I try confronting them. I ask them why they're following us everywhere. And he ignores me.

WANG (on camera): Now he's walking away.

WANG (voice over): So I tried this official. She refuses to even acknowledge my question.

And what happens next during my interview with this girl shocks us.

WANG (on camera): Oh. OK, so I was just interviewing the girl and then the minders literally took her away from us.

WANG (voice over): The man pushes the girl and her family away, then later leaves them alone, but our interviews in the marketplace are over.

China's CDC says the Covid peak across the country has passed, but in rural areas like this, experts say there's likely far more silent suffering, people who died at home because they couldn't afford to go to the hospital or were unable to get there on time.

Back in the village, we're greeted by the sounds of squealing pigs getting ready to be slaughtered. It's a lunar new year tradition. Decades ago, for most countryside families, this was the only time of the year when they could afford to eat meat. WANG (on camera): So, this is a whole family of relatives. They're all

getting together for the lunar new year. Enjoying the freshly killed pig meat.


WANG (voice over): Senjia (ph) shows me the fabric she made herself. Sewing just a thin strip of this cloth takes her more than a day.

Whether it's in the village or in faraway factories, they're hardworking people. They'll do whatever it takes to give their kids a better life, even if it means long bouts of separation from them, making reunions like these all the more meaningful.


WANG: And, Don, I'll just never forget how kind and warm the villagers were. Many of them even invited us into their comes to join in on their festivities, even with the government minders literally right behind us.

But as you saw from the story, it was so hard for us to get any information on Covid. The level of interference we faced is close to what CNN has faced reporting in detention camps, in China's Xijang (ph) region just a few years ago.

But in today's China, virtually every topic is considered sensitive if foreign media is reporting on it.


LEMON: Great reporting.

Selina Wang, thank you very much, reporting from Beijing.

A partisan debt ceiling battle is escalating on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debate spending cuts to avoid a catastrophic default. While many Americans fear their Social Security benefits are at risk. That's next.


HARLOW: That has blown past its debt ceiling and we are headed towards a potentially catastrophic default if Washington can't make an agreement. And now the fight over how to fix this problem is intensifying. The White House says it won't negotiate with House Republicans, but those Republicans are insisting on cutting spending.


And some of them want to cut deep. A group of GOP lawmakers looking at benefits, entitlements that include Social Security and Medicare. But that seems to be a non-starter for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He says, quote, you've got to protect Medicare and Social Security. And the path the Democrats are going, they are going to go bankrupt. Still, Social Security is facing very real solvency issues. The Social

Security Administration says benefits will be fully payable and on time only for another 14 year, until 2037, when reserves dry up. After that, taxes will only cover about three quarters of what it was supposed to cover.

So, what should you do as you think about your retirement because of this?

Joining me now is the co-founder of, the host of the podcast "Women and Money, and Everyone Smart Enough to Listen," Suze Orman is with us.

Great to have you, as always.


HARLOW: I mean that's what the - that's what the Social Security Administration says, but the Congressional Budget Office says we've only got a decade. It's going to, you know, run out of full money in terms of full payments by 2033. So, what do folks do?

ORMAN: Yes, well, here's what you have to understand. There are many fixes to this problem. Either they will extend the time that you claim Social Security, so rather at 67, which is full Social Security age now, maybe they'll move it to 70. Maybe they'll increase the payroll tax. But they will do something, in my opinion, before they get rid of Social Security.

So, you know, with -- you just have to understand, though, 63 million people today collect Social Security. Many of those people, they're totally dependent on it. So, for those of you who are younger now and you're seeing this happen, you need to think about -

HARLOW: So let's -

ORMAN: What can you do today to make sure that you're just not totally dependent on Social Security.

HARLOW: Yes. Let's talk about -- do I get to count 40 as young? I don't know. I don't feel young. But what about 40 years old like me, my husband. When I think about our retirement, I have to tell you, Suze, I don't really think about relying on Social Security, definitely not in full, and I'm not even sure in part.

ORMAN: But the truth of the matter is, you also have an income coming in. You're not like most of the people out there. You know, recently, Secure Save did this study and the truth is 74 percent of the people in the study are living paycheck to paycheck.


ORMAN: So, they don't have the money right now to do what, to put money in retirement, to pay down their home. They don't even have the money to buy a home. So -- HARLOW: I think that's the point that I'm making is, is for average folks around 40, 50, what do they need to do differently now given this insolvency issue?

ORMAN: Yes, they need to understand that they need to make different choices. So, rather than going out to eat, rather than going on possibly a vacation, rather than buying a new car, whatever it is you're spending your money on, your number one priority should be funding either a Roth IRA or your accounts at work or whatever. At least putting something away so you can have something more.

The key to financial freedom really is, the earlier you start putting money away, the more you'll have. So, those of you who are really young out there, you're 25 years of age, this is the time to open a Roth IRA. This is the time to put $100 a month in it. You have to make your future spending or your future income your priority over all the gadgets that you're currently buying.

HARLOW: You know, I think Warren Buffett, wise like you, always talks about the value of compound interest.


HARLOW: And when people hear $100 a month they think that's not -- never going to add up. It adds up so much.

ORMAN: Yes. An example - very quick example of that. You're 25. You put $100 a month away in a Roth IRA every month until you're 65. So, 40 years. With average annual market returns, which can be 12 percent over 40 years, you would have a million dollars. If you just wait ten years, till you're 35 to start, at 65 you would have only $300,000.


ORMAN: Those ten years cost you $700,000. And that's just at $100 a month.

HARLOW: Look at that. Wise words. Thank you for the advice. Suze Orman, good to see you.

ORMAN: All right. Thanks. Bye-bye.

HARLOW: All right. Bye.

Next, wild video of a gun fight involving police. See what happened when a man shined a laser at a helicopter.

Plus, Don is live in Memphis this morning where any day now that video will be released of a brutal police beating of Tyre Nichols that led to his death. How officials are preparing as emotions run high across that city, ahead.




VAN TURNER, PRESIDENT MEMPHIS NAACP: Mr. Nichols was only feet away from his home. He cried out for his mother three times before he died. There was no criminal background. He was not out there doing things that he shouldn't be doing. He was going to work at FedEx. And he was living his life.


LEMON: Well, good morning, everyone. This is where we are right now in this story. I'm live in Memphis, Tennessee, this morning. You see Poppy is there in New York. Kaitlan is on assignment this morning.

And here's what we're waiting for. Any day now that video of Tyre Nichols being beaten by five police officers, well, it could be released. This as we learn more about the man his family called a free spirited soul.

Plus this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This should have never happened. It was preventable.


But had the school administrators acted in the interest of their teachers and their students, Abby would not have sustained a gunshot wound to the chest.