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Biden's Approval Rating Drops Ahead Of State Of The Union Address; New York City Mayor: Death Of Tyre Nichols "Hurt Me Personally"; Biden And McCarthy To Meet On Debt Ceiling This Week As Clock Ticks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 30, 2023 - 07:30   ET



FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST (via Skype): And so he is not strong but he's not weak. He does have support from his base but he's lost some support among swing voters.

And probably most importantly the country is a little bit -- just a little bit more optimistic now than it was a few months ago. But it's still quite negative, quite pessimistic.

They see the violence. They see the chaos at the border. They see inflation getting a little bit better but still difficult. They see the job market reasonably strong but still layoffs in the tech sector. And they wonder where are we going? We are we?

And the point that was made by Dana Bash -- we have a cultural component of where we stand as -- in the country -- not just an economic component. And these are all things that President Biden needs to address in the State of the Union address.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The classified documents -- does it -- do they play a role in this polling at all?

LUNTZ: They only play a role and they think that they're all guilty. They think Trump is more guilty than Biden and they think Biden is more guilty than Mike Pence. But they just think that --

Don, we have a challenge that we are facing right now that the public has simply lost faith and confidence not just in Washington, not just in their government, but in all the institutions that lead this country and all the people who lead those institutions.

And I'm hoping that someone steps up, steps in, and says OK, we hear you, we get it, and it's time for a national reset and it's time for us to, quite frankly, tell the truth to the American people. I'm waiting for a candidate who says that's my agenda. Not about politics, not about partisanship, not about issues of the day, but you deserve the truth and I'm going to tell you the truth about the future.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Frank, thank you very much -- Frank Luntz.

Before we get to the next -- Kaitlan, you talked to the Biden White House every day. KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I -- Frank, I know he says to save and

(INAUDIBLE) of him saying he doesn't think Biden's going to run. They're planning --

LEMON: They keep saying it, you know?

COLLINS: -- for him to announce within the next month. They are -- I mean that all musters (PH) and an elaborate ruse underway. Everyone inside the White House is planning we should note, based on our reporting, for Biden to announce that he is running for reelection

LEMON: And to Kaitlan -- Kaitlan, to your point, he has defied sort of --

HARLOW: Expectations?

LEMON: -- expectations for everyone, including Democrats who say oh, he can't do it -- whatever. Maybe he's too old or it should be someone else. That they should be -- he has defied it. And to your reporting, he's going to run.

COLLINS: It -- I would -- I would be very shocked if he does not run. I mean -- I mean, you all -- you never say for sure because it's all based on reporting and what they're planning to do, but this is underway. They are planning for Biden to run for reelection. It would be a major reversal if that changed and I don't -- I don't foresee it.

HARLOW: I'm saving all of the clips.

LEMON: Yes, I'm with you. He's running. I think he's going to run.

HARLOW: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll see, Frank. We'll have you back.

COLLINS: Thanks, Frank.

HARLOW: Frank, thank you very much.

LEMON: We're going to clip it.


LEMON: Yes, thanks. Thank you very much.

HARLOW: Over the weekend thousands protested the death of Tyre Nichols. This was across the country. In New York, one protest -- protester was seen stomping on a police cruiser. Next, we're going to speak with New York City's mayor. Eric Adams is here. What he thinks happened in Memphis, his personal reaction to it, and what is ahead for this country.

Also this.


Police officers rescuing a man after he stole their police car and crashed in front of an oncoming train.


HARLOW: See the heart-pounding moments police officers rescued a man after he stole their police car and crashed in front of an oncoming train.

Thanks, guys.



LEMON: So, protesters taking to the streets over the weekend to decry police brutality after the releases -- the release, I should say, of Tyre Nichols' police beating video.

In New York City's Times Square, three demonstrators were arrested. One of them you can see right here jumping on the hood of a police vehicle and breaking the windshield.

The city's mayor, Eric Adams, has spoken openly about being beaten by police as a teenager. Adams tweeting about the video of Tyre Nichols as someone who spent decades fighting for police diversity and against police abuse. He said, "I feel betrayed."

So the mayor, Eric Adams, joins me now. He spent more than 20 years in the NYPD and was a co-founder of an advocacy group that speaks out against police brutality. Mayor, good morning to you. Thank you for appearing. You're the perfect person to talk about these issues.

So my first question, how did things go so horribly wrong in Memphis?

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY: I think of things when wrong. It was clear that no one was there with a level head and really control the situation in the scene. We know policing is a very high-anxiety form of public protection but those officers lost control and they showed the level of abuse that is a really betrayal to those who wear the uniform every day and serve the job of public protection.

LEMON: Much has been made about the officers -- all of them being Black. You have said that diversifying police departments would allow us -- and this is a quote -- "Allow us to have the level of policing we all deserve."

These five officers, all Black. Is there an entrenched police culture of aggression towards Black people?

ADAMS: Well, clearly, we could not ignore the ethnicity of the officers that are involved. That is the pink elephant in the room and people talked about that. And when we want to diversify departments it's not only African Americans. We have increased a number of members from the AAPI community -- Spanish-speaking officers, Muslim officers.

The role was to ensure that you diversify departments so the officers are coming from the communities that they represented and that grew up in those communities. Those officers I believe betrayed that when all of us attempted to diversify departments.

But we're going to stay focused. We're going to keep moving forward. Diversity still is the key. We saw that here in New York City and we're going to stay on that road. But we -- there was a personal feeling of betrayal when I witnessed that video.

LEMON: OK, well let me ask you. The chief, C.J. Davis -- in my interview with her she said that all the officers being Black, it takes race off the table. Do you agree with that?


ADAMS: No, I don't. I think that I understand what the chief was saying and I think she really handled this situation in a very professional way. She moved swiftly. She ensured that those officers were removed from the department. She took all the necessary steps.

But I think race is still on the table. When a culture of police historically has treated those from different groups differently, even when the individuals are from that same group, that culture can still exist. And we have to zero in on it, being honest about it and making sure that we properly train police for the realities of the cities that they are policing in.

LEMON: I want to talk about the SCORPION unit, which was hers under -- in 2021, she established the SCORPION unit. Memphis police is now saying they're going to disband that unit tied to the SCORPION unit and tied to the beating.

Do you think that was the right call because that's just one of the units with one of the names? I mean, the same -- the same officers are still in the police department. The same mentality runs through the police department. Do you think that was the right move and is that enough?

ADAMS: I would never second-guess a person who is on the ground. She's closest to the problem so she's closer to the solution.

Units don't create abuse. Abusive behavior creates abuse. You can be assigned to uniformed patrol if you don't have the right mindset for public protection and I think the nobility of being a law enforcement officer, then you should be assigned in the police department.

When I put back in place our anti-gun unit many people stated that we should not do it. But we were able to remove 7,000 guns off our streets. That's a 27-year high -- and when you look at the number of arrests for those who carry guns.

We must have proper training, proper mindset, and the police officers across our country must have the right mindset to do this very difficult and challenging job of public protection.

LEMON: I want to follow up on what's happening with the NYPD but let me just get this in, and this is from the family because Tyre Nichols' family had asked that the SCORPION unit be disbanded. And attorneys for the family praising the decision to deactivate the unit, saying that they hope other cities take action to get rid of units just like it.

Since elected you have revived a controversial anti-crime NYPD unit that was responsible for the so-called death of Eric Garner. How do you respond to the Nichols family?

ADAMS: First of all, I understand their feeling and emotion. I remember when the first time I shared with my mom that I was assaulted by police officers how devastating it was for her. And it was years later but she understood what it was. And so I understand when those who are the victims of the -- of the -- of abusive police behavior respond a certain way.

We have an obligation of using all the tools properly to keep citizens safe. And right here in New York City we did not reinstate the anti- crime unit. That was a plainclothes unit in plainclothes vehicles. Former to that there was aggressive policing at the time.

When we put it back in place based on hearing from the public. Officers wearing a modified uniform so they could be properly identified, proper training, and make sure the officers who are assigned were handpicked and understood how to interact with the public and keep your body cameras on.


ADAMS: It was the body cameras and the camera from the pole that allow us to get the transparency that we needed so we could properly make the right decisions.

LEMON: So I think it's fair to say that you updated that unit and you think, from what you're saying, keeping the body cameras on and so forth -- that is how you are going to reassure New Yorkers that these units are safe?

ADAMS: A combination. The body camera footage is crucial. Having the right supervision there that can immediately de-escalate a situation or stop when it gets out of hand. And pick the right officers assigned. Just because you are a police officer does not mean that you are capable of doing every aspect of policing.

If you are a doctor it does not mean you could be a brain surgeon. No. A brain surgeon is a brain surgeon.

And so the forms of policing that causes you to go in and deal with a high volume of arrests, go after those who carry guns and other dangerous actions -- that's a special-trained police officer. If they are in a modified uniform how do you respond? And we have to continue to lift up the standards of policing no matter who wears a uniform.

LEMON: Let's move on and talk about the migrant crisis because you've been speaking out a lot about that crisis. You say it is a national crisis. You also said that New York City is full. Is that really true? Is the Biden administration helping you out at all?

ADAMS: Well, I think we must do more and I take my hat off to the New York Congressional delegation, including Sen. Schumer and Congressman Jeffries. They were able to pass a bipartisan bill with over $800 million that is going to be dispersed to those cities that are involved. We received $8 million from FEMA.

But when you look at the price tag it's going to continue to go up, but we have to go to the source. The source is real comprehensive immigration reform. The Republicans have been hiding -- holding on and blocking it for too many years. We must get this resolved.

But there's a crisis right now and that crisis should be coordinated by the national government. We need to expedite the right to work because it's just unfair to cities like El Paso, New York, Chicago, Washington for us to pick up this burden.

And then we need one individual who solely is playing the role of a decompression strategy so that the end of the road can't be New York City and other big cities. So we need more help from the national government with -- speaking with our partners in the state to get this real crisis under control.

LEMON: Part of my question was the Biden administration -- is the Biden administration helping you out. Are you speaking directly to the Biden administration in your last answer?

ADAMS: Yes, we were. We are speaking directly to the Biden administration. And yes, when it comes down to the coordination, when it comes down to the decompression strategy, when it comes down to making sure we find ways to allow people to work so they don't have to only sit around all day -- yes, I'm speaking directly to the administration. This is a problem that we must have a resolution both from Congress and immigration, but the administration to deal with the immediate need that we have.

LEMON: Two quick questions that New Yorkers are -- this is New York- centric, New York-focused.

You -- just before the new year you created a rat czar position to deal with the city's rodent issues. That is -- when I asked people what should I ask the mayor -- New Yorkers -- they said rats. So, go. What do you -- what does this mean? Are you going to get rid of them or reduce the number of rats?

ADAMS: Well, you know -- well, I don't know if -- many people may not know it but I hate rats and rats are going to hate me -- going to hate me before it's over.

Rats are an indicator of that -- the city is not clean. It's not healthy. And when I zero in on rats I'm zeroing in on something that is really a reflection. You start your day you don't want a rat running across your foot. You don't want them inside your car. So this is something that all New Yorkers if not all Americans can clearly see a symbol.

And so our goal is number one, to hire a rat czar that is going to focus on rats and hate them as much as I do but also to use new innovation and devices that we're testing right now to go after the problem.

LEMON: OK. Can you imagine my title? I am the rat czar.

OK, so listen, I don't know if you can see this and I don't know if you've had a chance to read the Post this morning but so many people are complaining. They're -- you know, the Eagles, New York, whatever. We don't like Philadelphia -- our teams. "Bird Brains" -- people were upset because the Empire State Building was lit up in the Eagles' colors. Mayor, what were you guys thinking?

ADAMS: No, that -- listen, that got away from us the way the Eagles game got away from us with the Giants. We should have -- we should have lit up in real symbolism the colors of the Giants. That blue should have been there. Unfortunately, someone did not get the memo at the Empire State Building. But we want to see good sportsmanship. The Giants will be back next year and the Jets will be back. We'll be excited when they rebuild their teams.

LEMON: We got it all in from D.C. to what's happening with migrants, to --

HARLOW: Bird brains.

LEMON: -- rats, to bird brains.

Mayor --

HARLOW: Can I just thank him? My husband has a thing with the rats --


HARLOW: -- like you two should.

LEMON: That's what my fiance said.

HARLOW: So, all of Brooklyn for rats together. He's going to be so happy you asked that question.

LEMON: Well, Tim said -- I said, Tim, what should I ask the mayor. He goes, "Ask him about the rats."

HARLOW: Oh my gosh.

COLLINS: Real problems.

Guys, I know you love Jalen Hurts because you've got those Alabama roots. So that's why the Empire State was for the Eagles last night.

LEMON: Uh-oh, she's saying you're behind it, Mayor.

ADAMS: (Laughing).

LEMON: We've uncovered it, Mayor.

ADAMS: Thank you.

LEMON: It's always a pleasure. Thank you. But please come back. We love having you. Thank you.

ADAMS: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you.

ADAMS: Take care.

HARLOW: Well, this week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden will meet in person -- sit down and talk about the looming economic crisis, the debt ceiling. What is this really going to entail since the White House said they're not compromising on that? We're live at the White House.

COLLINS: Plus, a manhunt is underway for a suspect accused of kidnapping and assaulting a woman. What police say he is using to evade authorities and how it may be helping him search for new victims.



COLLINS: All right. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden are going to come face-to-face on Wednesday to discuss raising the debt limit. McCarthy says he wants to reach a reasonable and responsible agreement and that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are off the table. But he's not ruling out cuts to defense spending, which some Republicans are against amid big question, really, about where the cuts will come from ultimately if that is what they are pushing for.

The White House has said they will not negotiate over raising the country's $31.4 trillion debt limit.

CNN's MJ Lee is live at the White House. MJ, I know the White House is confirming this meeting but based on the language that they used talking about what the premise for this is it doesn't sound like they're any closer to reaching a deal.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's exactly right, Kaitlan. You know, this week we are about to see exactly what it means for President Biden that Republicans now control the House and that Kevin McCarthy is now the House speaker and a compromised one at that.


We know that this is going to be the first time that the two men are meeting face-to-face since McCarthy became House speaker. And we also know that he is facing tremendous pressure from conservative hardliners in his own caucus to extract deep spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Now, the White House, as you said, has repeatedly said that it is not going to make any concessions. That it is essentially not going to negotiate. But a White House spokesperson also said over the weekend the president will ask what the speaker's plan is when the two men meet on Wednesday. So at least indicating that they believe the ball is in his court right now and that at the very least the president is willing to hear him out.

Now, the possibility of a default and, of course, a default itself would be catastrophic for the economy. And the Treasury Department, as you know, has said that the so-called extraordinary measures that it is currently taking -- that will take the country up until around early June to avoid a default. We know that this is potentially, therefore, going to be a protracted negotiation and at the end of the day, it could very much come down to the wire, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, there's some major questions about where those cuts ultimately come from.

MJ Lee, thank you.

LEMON: Up next here on CNN THIS MORNING, calling out those who pushed conspiracy theories about the Paul Pelosi attack now that the video debunks all of them.