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U.S. Shoots Down Suspected Chinese Spy Balloon Off The Carolinas; U.S. Recovering Debris From Downed Chinese Balloon; W.H.: Biden Took "Responsible Action" With Balloon Downing Decision; China Condemns U.S. Decision To Shoot Down Balloon; Five Derailed Ohio Train Cars Were Carrying Hazardous Vinyl Chloride; Texas Gov. Issues Ice Storm Disaster Declaration For Some Counties; Ban On Lawyers In Litigation Against Madison Square Garden Entertainment; California Cutting Major Southwest Cities Off Colorado River. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired February 05, 2023 - 07:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you all. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. I'm Amara Walker.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be with you, Amara. I'm Boris Sanchez. We are tracking several new developments following the military's shootdown of that suspected Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast. The FBI now analyzing that wreckage as China sends a warning to the White House. Our team coverage from this story is looking at multiple angles this morning.

WALKER: Also, we have new details out of Ohio on that trained derailment that sparked a massive fire. Officials are now saying the cars contained hazardous materials and the cleanup is underway.

SANCHEZ: Plus, banned by association. How facial recognition software is being used to keep some fans out of Madison Square Garden. Why some say this is a slippery slope.

WALKER: Plus, the proposal that could soon cut major cities off from the Colorado River. That's just ahead on CNN This Morning.

Most of you are waking up to a much warmer weekend morning. It is Sunday, everyone, February 5th. Thank you so much for waking up with us. Hi, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Hey, Amara. Always great to be with you. We start this morning with the fallout after the U.S. military shot down the suspected Chinese spy balloon off the east coast of the United States.

WALKER: Yes. In dramatic videos, you can see the balloon explode, struck by a heat seeking missile fired from an F-22 fighter jet. Military personnel are gathering the wreckage from the balloon, taking it to the FBI lab in Virginia for analysis. The jet shot down the balloon after it drifted across the country for several days.

And witnesses in South Carolina got a first-hand view and begun to hear its last moments.


JOEY LOPES, SAW SPY BALLOON SHOT DOWN: I've seen a lot of crazy stuff in Myrtle Beach over the last few years. This was by far the craziest. We were at lunch. And we were kind of like joking around like, you know, what, if we see it, what if it's right here? What if like, obviously, them shutting it down as reports indicated was imminent?

So we went outside and we saw the fighter jets circling around, there were about three or four of them. And then after that, we heard a bang and the balloon was gone.


SANCHEZ: Some witnesses were also caught off guard by the delayed sound of the explosion. This was their reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you hear that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still video?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am still videoing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of the sound.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is -- the sound just hit us.


SANCHEZ: Soon after the balloon came down, President Biden explained why the strike that he ordered earlier in the week ultimately had to be delayed.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On Wednesday, when I was briefed on the balloon, I order the Pentagon to shoot it down on Wednesday as soon as possible. They decided that the best time to do that was as it got over water, outside -- within our -- within the 12- mile limit. They successfully took it down.


SANCHEZ: Well, China accused the U.S. of overreacting and expressed its quote, unquote, strong dissatisfaction and protest over the shootdown. The incident is, of course, adding to the escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing.

We are covering this story only the way CNN can. CNN's Will Ripley is live in Taipei. Natasha Bertrand and Jasmine Wright have the response from Washington, but we're going to begin this morning with Dianne Gallagher live in South Carolina. Hi there Dianne. I mean, of course, a lot of people want to know what this spy balloon was able to accomplish. And, of course, the answer is going to be in that wreckage. What do we know about the recovery efforts?


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Amara, look, the recovery effort began shortly after the suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down here off the coast of Myrtle Beach Surfside area. It's somewhere back out there in the Atlantic Ocean.

We're told that there were U.S. Coast Guard and Naval vessels that were already in the area. And once it was shot down, they began to make a perimeter of that wreckage so they could make sure they could kind of get all of it in that area.

We're told that from a senior U.S. military official, that there will be Navy divers that can go down and assist with the recovery. But there are also unmanned vessels that can go down and bring the structure up and get it onto one of those recovery ships.

Now, look, initially that official says that the Navy thought that this was going to be downed in much deeper waters, but they've determined that it actually came down in about 47 feet of ocean water here, which they say is going to make the recovery fairly easy.

Now, here's the thing. They don't know exactly how long it is going to take to get all of the wreckage out of the ocean. They say that same official saying, I don't anticipate months and weeks, but there is still some time that's into this.

Here in Myrtle Beach, they've told people, look, if you see debris that washes up onto the shoreline, please don't pick it up, please don't take it home. They need that so they can send it and study it there at Quantico with intelligence officials.

SANCHEZ: And it'll be fascinating to see exactly what they find. Dianne Gallagher reporting from the Carolina Coast. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Natasha Bertrand now because, Natasha, this operation was days in the making, walk us through the details of what it took to shoot down this balloon.

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Boris. So yesterday at around 02:39 p.m., two advanced fighter jets, F-22 fighter jets, struck a single -- launched a missile that struck that balloon and brought it down. And this was the result of a many days of planning, intense planning between President Biden and his military advisers and his national security team to try to figure out when the best time to shootdown this balloon would actually be.

And what they decided, apart from the President, of course, wanting to shoot it down pretty much immediately after he was briefed on it, is that it would be better to shoot it down over the ocean, not only because it would provide less of a risk to civilians on the ground, but also because it would give the U.S. higher chances of recovering the payload of that balloon completely intact.

And that is important, according to defense officials, because they want to know exactly what is inside that balloon. And U.S. officials who were briefing reporters yesterday said that actually, they believe that by shooting it down over the ocean as they did, they are going to be able to discover many new and important things about China's intelligence gathering and surveillance program, and particularly what the Chinese were actually able to discover once -- when that balloon was actually over U.S. territory.

So this was a very deliberate action by the President and his team. And now, of course, it remains to be seen, given that this debris is scattered around 7 miles, how long it's going to take for them to recover it all and analyze it. Guys?

WALKER: All right, Natasha Bertrand, thank you very much.

Let's bring in CNN White House Reporter Jasmine Wright. Jasmine, so we know that this very large spy balloon was detected, what, about eight days ago, and then it was in and out of U.S. airspace for a couple of days. What went into this decision on when to shoot this balloon down? What is the White House saying?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Amara, well a lot went into that decision. President Biden yesterday, speaking to reporters, says that he was adamant that he gave the order to the military to shoot down the suspected spy balloon. He said that it really was his first inclination to do it when he was first briefed about it, we know from sources.

And then he officially gave that order on Wednesday. But he was recommended by the military to wait because at that point, the balloon had drifted over densely populated areas, really presenting a risk to property and people below. And so he accepted that order. And that is when the military really hatched that plan to shoot down the balloon over open water.

And that happened about seven days after the balloon first entered U.S. airspace. Now, because the President waited those days, he is being sharply criticized by Republicans, some Democrats are questioning, and Republicans really labeled that as a weakness, saying, why didn't you shoot it down earlier to prevent serious information from being fed back or transmitted back to the Chinese.

Now, the White House has really been in defense mode over this, defending the President's decision to follow military recommendations. I want to read you a statement that a White House official gave me yesterday because it's pretty strong. They said that, "This is the responsible action for the commander in chief to take, waiting, of course. He prioritized the safety of the American people. He ensured that the military take steps to protect against the balloon's collection of sensitive information, mitigating any intelligence value to the PRC, the People's Republic of China."

[07:10:11] And they said also that the time that they took those seven days to shoot it down, they were able to learn more information from the payload. So, of course, this will be their defense when they handle these domestic issues, as lawmakers have promised that they want more information from the White House.

But then diplomatically, of course, they're going to have their issues to sort out there after this White House. And the President himself really spent months, painstaking months, trying to iron out these issues with China, trying to enter into warmer relations. Obviously, this is now a setback. Boris, Amara?

SANCHEZ: Yes. And it adds to an already long list of grievances between the two. Jasmine Wright, thank you so much for the update.

Let's get the Chinese perspective on this and go now to Will Ripley, who's live for us in Taiwan. Will, China has repeatedly denied that this was a spy balloon. They also said that this was done in error. But now they're saying the United States has seriously violated international practice.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's ironic, isn't it, considering that you had this Chinese surveillance balloon, according to the Pentagon, weather balloon, according to China, hovering over the United States for seven days.

But China is really doubling down on this claim that this was a civilian, you know, research airship. In fact, they even fired the head of China's weather service just to reinforce, analysts believe this claim that this was -- the ship was had a civilian mission, it was meteorological purposes, and it was not conducting surveillance over sensitive military sites in the United States, which it happened to hover over, for example, missile silos in Montana.

Now, so let's just set that aside. Let's set aside China's claim that it is a weather balloon and let's assume that it is a spy balloon. The question still remains, why would China do it? Why would they do it on the eve of a crucial visit between Secretary of State Blinken and China's President Xi Jinping, who reportedly had been preparing for this meeting, was planning to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State.

China wants a dialogue with the United States because there's a laundry list of contentious issues they need to deal with. This balloon now added on to that. And on top of it, they apologized. They said that they were sorry. They said that this was an accident, that this, in their words, civilian balloon had drifted off course and got caught up in the westerly winds.

OK, so if it was not an accident, then was it an act of diplomatic sabotage? Were they trying to do something to stop this meeting from happening? Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense when China was preparing for it. Were they trying to test the U.S. military, or were they trying to test President Biden himself?

These are the key and perhaps never to be answered questions because, as we know, Boris and Amara, China is a black box when it comes to transparency, especially at that kind of government and military level.

SANCHEZ: A really good point. Will Ripley live for us from Taipei in Taiwan. Thanks so much, Will.

Let's move forward and discuss the national security implications now with CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem. Juliette, thanks so much for sharing part of your Sunday morning with us. The remnants of this balloon are now being taken to that FBI lab in Virginia for analysis. What kind of information do you think could be recovered?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So there's going to be just the pure technological knowhow of what the Chinese had, what they were able to develop and what was in essentially the balloon. So balloon was just the transportation mechanism. Just consider it like an engine.

It's actually the three school bus loads of gear essentially in the cargo hold that are really going to be of more relevance. So it's going to be the technological aspects of it and then, of course, whether we can determine what, in fact, the Chinese were able to survey.

A lot of people online are wondering, you know, they have such sophisticated satellite and spy capacity, spying capacity, why would they do this? And part of it is the sort of common term, a hovering aspect of what the balloon actually can do. It can hover over certain areas, get more detailed pictures, get more granular in its capacity to pick up the intelligence.

We have to believe that's what they were doing, as well as reporting. We don't know why and whether they lost control of something that had been done, as we now know, in the previous -- in the Trump administration. And that's what we'll learn, I think, in the weeks and months to come.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that's what's really odd. If they have these satellites --


SANCHEZ: -- that have such capacity, why use this balloon? I'm wondering now, as it's crashed into the ocean --


SANCHEZ: -- we're looking at a 7-mile area where we imagine that these sensitive parts are distributed, right? How important is it to secure that area to make sure that no random divers going to go in and --


SANCHEZ: -- make off with a piece of this thing?

KAYYEM: So it's secure now. So they would have -- basically what they would have done is they had radar on the cargo as the hit is happening. So they're -- they basically have images of where most of the pieces are.


They would have lost some of the pieces. They now can protect that 7- mile areas you were describing. Messages have gone out to the community. If you see anything on shore, do not touch it, notify others. This is very similar, unfortunately, to airline debris.

The Navy as well as the Coast Guard knows how to do debris or debris pickup and especially will have the benefit of it having been monitored as it was going down. This is not a hard dive. This is -- it's relatively shallow waters. We don't know how long it will take, but we're not talking months at this stage. We are probably talking a couple of days or weeks to be able to pick up the pieces that they know survived.

And I want to just basically, based on the reporting and the pushback that people are giving the White House, this was a very smart approach to the -- bringing the balloon down, because what they were clearly able to do is get the balloon and in some ways protect what is of most relevant to the United States, which is less the balloon and, of course, the cargo and what was in it in terms of Chinese surveillance capacity.

I know it's hard to believe because the Chinese were so aggressive in this regard, but this is bad news for the Chinese. We essentially have sort of picked up a bunch of tanks and other things that you might think of in terms of a traditional battlefield. We are now in possession of it.

SANCHEZ: Well, I find the timing interesting because the balloon entered U.S. airspace last week near the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific. Could it have been shot down in the Pacific before it entered the continental U.S.?

KAYYEM: Yes, it might have it -- part of it is what we're going to learn is what control did China have over the balloon and at what stage. We now know that there were incursions -- three incursions at least during the Trump administration. That administration decided either -- I think part of it was the public was seeing this balloon. So the Biden administration had to respond quite publicly.

Because once you're -- I mean, I started seeing Twitter pictures online as of Wednesday. And so, part of it is what kind of airspace was it in in the Pacific? It clearly becomes in our airspace when it's over our homeland. It then becomes a challenge for the Biden administration.

So what you basically saw over the week was a really sort of planned different pieces of an overall strategy, but we want the balloon down. Wednesday, Biden gives the orders. The military says the best way to implement those orders, because they're the experts, is when it gets over the water. That happens midday Saturday. And now that's the second part of the mission.

The third part is now the debris pickup. So this is an ongoing mission in many regards, although, we don't actually see this part because it's not up in the sky.

SANCHEZ: Right. Who knew that a balloon could cause such a kerfuffle? Juliette Kayyem, thanks so much.

KAYYEM: Thank you. Have a good one.

SANCHEZ: You too.

WALKER: So, as we've mentioned, the wreckage from that balloon splashed down into the waters off the South Carolina coast.

And coming up, we're going to talk to an oceanographer about the delicate operation to retrieve the debris from the ocean. Also, President Biden set to address the nation Tuesday for the State of the Union. What we expect to hear from him is coming up.



WALKER: A look now at today's top stories. We're learning more about the train derailment in East, Ohio, that triggered a massive fire Friday night. The NTSB says 20 of the train cars were carrying hazardous materials. Of the 10 that derailed, five were carrying vinyl chloride. Harmful levels of that chemical have fortunately not been detected in the air, according to officials.

The National Cancer Institute describes vinyl chloride as a colorless gas that burns easily. It's primarily used to make hard plastic resin. Still no word on what caused the train to go off the tracks

SANCHEZ: Meantime, in Texas, a disaster declaration for several counties impacted by last week's ice storm, freezing rain and a quarter inch of ice led dangerous -- led to dangerous travel conditions. Six people died across the state in car accidents because of the icy roads. That disaster declaration is going to provide additional assistance to Texans who've experienced property damage and power outages.

WALKER: President Biden and his Cabinet have been out in force over the last several days touting the administration's accomplishments ahead of his State of the Union Address slated for Tuesday night. But with America facing a complicated economic picture, a war in Ukraine and growing tensions with China, will the President's speech not just highlight his first two years in office, but the controversies along the way.

Here with me now to discuss and break it all down is White House Reporter for Politico, Daniel Lippman. Hey there, Daniel, good morning to you.


WALKER: All right. So, of course, the headline is this Chinese spy balloon that has brought so much scrutiny in the issue of national security to the forefront. Of course, you've heard the Republican criticisms that Biden is not tough enough on China and that he should have shot this down sooner. How is this all playing politically?

LIPPMAN: Well, I'm sure he's going to have to rewrite his speech in real time. He's practicing it this weekend to reassure Americans that we're not weak, that we have a good chance to compete against China, and that his whole agenda, like rebuilding infrastructure and that Chips Act and addressing climate change, is all part of a package of rebuilding America to make sure that we don't fall behind China.


And so, in his State of the Union, he's going to talk about a lot of those types of issues in terms of, you know, he is trying to fix America's future and, you know, not -- you know, we're not going to kind of bow down to China. There was an Onion headline saying nation surrenders to Chinese spy balloon. He doesn't want to have those types of optics in terms of looking weak against the Chinese.

WALKER: Right. Of course, looks like that will have to be pivoted in terms of the focus of the State of the Union speech. I mean, how much do you think the President is going to have to focus on China relations and being tough on China?

Because as you know, you know, most State of the Union speeches we hear the President touting his accomplishments, especially Biden, we know, will focus on the economy and his really large infrastructure package that he got passed. So how is he going to balance all that in terms of focus?

LIPPMAN: Well, it's not going to just be a China focused speech, but he -- you know, we could expect to hear about that balloon and he is going to tout that he shot it down over the ocean to make sure that they could get as much intelligence and evidence from that.

But he is going to try to remind Americans that he has created millions of jobs and that he is someone that he, you know, he's working to bring down inflation and that we might still get that soft landing that we've long hoped for in terms of, you know, keeping the economy continuing to grow while at the same time bringing down those high prices.

What I think is interesting is there was a poll recently about how Americans, their partisan ideologies affect how they think about the economy. So back in January 2021, Republicans believed, you know, had 10 percent of Republicans felt like the economy was hurting their personal financial situation.

Now it's 74 percent. And so, even as the economy gets better, Republicans are still going to think, oh, Biden is making it harder to pay for groceries.

WALKER: It's interesting how your economic reality is painted by where you stand politically. Daniel, as you know, yesterday the Democratic National Committee approved a plan to shake up the 2024 presidential primary calendar in which what it does is it demotes Iowa, moving South Carolina to the first primary on February 3, and then it's followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13, Michigan on February 27.

And then any state can hold a nomination contest starting on March 5. Democrats, including President Biden, have said that this new order would better reflect the diversity of the party. But, look, I mean, implementing this new calendar, it's not going to be easy, is it, right, because you have the DNC with its policies, but you've got states with laws?

LIPPMAN: Yes. And you have Republican state legislators in some of these states who are going to have to approve these changes and they're not going to be exactly galloping to try to, you know, help Biden achieve his goals of diversifying the party. But what I also think is interesting is that we expect Biden to run for a reelection.

But if he doesn't, then this really could help Kamala Harris in terms of South Carolina, where there's -- the party is, you know, half black voters, and that could really, you know, help her chances if Biden does not throw his hat in the ring.

WALKER: We're going to leave it there. Daniel Lippman, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

LIPPMAN: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Still ahead, now that the Chinese suspected spy balloon has been shot down by U.S. fighter jets, what goes into recovering all that debris? We're going to talk to an oceanographer next.



SANCHEZ: We are continuing to follow the latest developments after the downing of that suspected Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina. Salvage effort are underway after a fighter jet shot down the balloon yesterday.

And right now, navy and coast guard vessels are in the area gathering debris. Recovery crews though are going to face some tough challenges as they look for answers. Joining us now is Dr. David Gallo. He's an oceanographer and a senior advisor for Strategic Initiatives at RMS Titanic, Inc.

Sir, thanks so much for being with us this morning. This balloon debris field is roughly seven square miles off the Atlantic Ocean, off the Carolina coast. Talk us to about the logistical challenges of looking at an area that large.

DR. DAVID GALLO, SENIOR ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC INITIATIVE, RMS TITANIC INC. AND OCEANOGRAPHER: Sure. Good morning, Boris. That's -- the size of that debris field is difficult, of course, because you've got some things that are floating, some that sank directly to the bottom, the floating ones are being pushed around and winds. And as -- you might be looking for something as tiny as a memory card, maybe even smaller than that. So, the good news is they know where the balloon bits hit the water, so they don't need to go through that exercise, so they know where the haystack is. And now, the trick is to find all those needles and it's not going to be easy. You know, just because it's shallow water, it doesn't mean it's going to be easy. And any of those divers can tell you there's nothing routine about doing this kind of work.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And walk us through the kind of equipment that is involved because you are talking about 47 feet deep, which as you point out, is relatively shallow, but that's still kind of a tough task.

DR. GALLO: Yes, and you're a diver, right, Boris? I mean, you know, getting into the water, and it's -- it is a tough task because you're not just on a -- enjoying the environment. You've got a job to do. And that's not to miss any piece of that payload.

And so, you've got to be very careful. You don't want to miss a spot because you probably won't go back. Visibility might be good, then again it might not be good. The water might be calm, they might be -- you might have a longshore current and things like that. So, it's -- you know, the bottom line is you've got a job to do and it's more than just having a look around.

SANCHEZ: And I am curious about securing an area like that because, as you noted with ocean currents, 47 feet is well within recreational diving limits. You don't need any, you know, special documentation to get in water like that beyond an open water certification.

DR. GALLO: Right.


SANCHEZ: What can be done to make sure that some random diver doesn't show up and tries to sneak away with a piece of memorabilia?

DR. GALLO: It's a tough one. It's a big area. And you know that people are going to be in there poking around. So, the coast guard, I think, will do as good -- and the navy, will do as good job as they can do for the near term. And then in the future, I don't think you can keep people out of there forever. So, yes, they're going to be poking around looking for things.

SANCHEZ: And at the speed that the balloon was traveling, hitting the water would have been like smashing concrete. So, walk us through the likelihood that recovery crews could collect something substantial and intact. Is it likely?

DR. GALLO: Oh, sure. Well, I don't know how big a piece they will find but I'm sure there are bigger chunks and maybe that's -- no more than fist size. And you know, when I look at the video, it looks to me like they did hit the payload. It didn't go right through the balloon. That's just the way it looks like to me.

And so, there would be a lot of little bits. It's like smashing something with a baseball bat on a piece of electronics. So, there's going to be all sorts of stuff scattered around. Time will tell. But there is a chance they might find a big chunk. We won't know until they are done look.

SANCHEZ: And is there anything unique about the geography underneath the water at 47 feet around the Carolina Coast that viewers should be aware of that might complicate things?

DR. GALLO: You know, I don't know. As I said before, there is nothing routine about this kind of work. But thank goodness, that should be fairly flat and covered with sand and mud and things, so, fairly flat, except there are currents that go through there. If it had gone just a little bit more out to sea, the sea floor drops off to full ocean depths, so, we're talking 15,000 feet not from there. And the gulf stream, so it could -- it would have been a whole lot tougher it they let that balloon slide more off to the west -- to the east and south.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it sounds like it landed in a great place for this kind of recovery effort. David Gallo, we have to leave the conversation there. Thanks some for your expertise.

DR. GALLO: OK. Boris, thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.

WALKER: All right. Coming up, the company that owns Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and other famous New York venues says it will use face recognition to ban all lawyers who work at firms suing the company from attending concerts or sporting events. That's interesting. More on that next.



WALKER: So, Madison Square Garden is looking to stay where it is forever. The special operating permit it has now will expire in July. A decade ago, city officials granted a 10-year permit and urged the Garden's owner to find a new home. And according to "The New York Times," MSG Entertainment told New York officials recently that it will ask for a permanent permit.

SANCHEZ: That is an already difficult process and it could be even further complicated by the fact that MSG is using facial recognition to block attorneys at firms that oppose it from attending events at the Gardens' and Radio City Music Hall. As CNN's Omar Jimenez reports, MSG executives aren't backing down from that policy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come up and matching somebody on facial recognition list.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): He was recognized on facial recognition cameras, then confronted.


JIMENEZ (voiceover): This is how lawyer Benjamin Noren from one New York City law firm was greeted by Madison Square Garden staff while trying to attend an event in the fall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ticket has been revoked and you are not permitted to go in.

JIMENEZ (voiceover): It's because Noren works for a law firm representing ticket brokers in a lawsuit against Madison Square Garden Entertainment. All the roughly 60 lawyers at his firm are also banned until the litigation is resolved.

JOE POLITO, COMMERCIAL LITIGATOR, DAVIDOFF HUTCHER & CITRON: We received a letter from MSG stating that because of this litigation all attorneys in our firm, even those attorneys who have nothing to do, whatsoever, with the litigation, would be barred for the duration of the litigation.

JIMENEZ (voiceover): The firm's co-founding partner has been a season ticket holder for 47 years. He believes here, he is being retaliated against.

LARRY HUTCHER, CO-FOUNDER, CO-MANAGING PARTNER, DAVIDOFF HUTCHER & CITRON: The focus of their fan (ph) is to dissuade people from seeing Madison Square Garden. If you have to think about, do I have a choice of being banned and representing somebody? Somebody is going to say, I don't need that aggravation. I'm not going to take that phase (ph).

JIMENEZ (voiceover): Their firm is among dozens temporarily banned from msg properties, including Radio City Music Hall, while they represent clients suing the garden. New York Attorney General Letitia James believes they may be violating state and city laws. Writing to them in part, forbidding entry to lawyers representing clients who have engaged in litigation against the company may dissuade such lawyers from taking on legitimate cases.

Days later, Madison Square Garden emphasized, it's a private business and in compliance with all laws. Writing in part, the attorneys we are prohibiting from attending include ambulance chasers and money grabbers whose business is motivated by self-promotion and who capitalize on the misfortune of others. This includes attorneys representing ticket scalpers, personal injury claims and class action litigations, but does not includes claims related to sexual harassment or employment discrimination.

JAMES DOLAN, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN AND CEO, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN SPORTS: You get to say who you serve. And if it's somebody who is suing you and trying to put you out of business or take your money from you, right, et cetera, you have a right to be, yes, a little unhappy about it.

JIMENEZ (voiceover): Some experts believe it's a slippery slope, and not just the discretionary power of who else could be flagged in the future, but one method being used to enforce it. Even if it is legal.


DAVE MAASS, DIRECTOR OF INVESTIGATION, ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION: I have read their privacy policy. They explicitly say that the biometrics they capture from you can be used for any purpose that would benefit their economic interest.

JIMENEZ (voiceover): Some don't believe it should be used at all.

ALBERT FOX CAHN, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY OVERSIGHT PROJECT: And I am terrified of the day where we allow companies to use so many forms of tracking and surveillance that, you know, we end up in the middle of one of the largest cities on the planet without any place we can actually go while keeping our privacy.

JIMENEZ (voiceover): Omar Jimenez, CNN, New York.


WALKER: Look, it's an interesting story, right? I mean, say whatever you want to say about Madison Square Garden or I wonder if the lawyers are going to be suing now to lift that ban. My big thing is facial recognition. Yes, I mean, that's what concerns me in general. Like how ubiquitous is it going to become? And, of course, it's not foolproof, right? I mean, that could lead to all kinds of discrimination and unfair practices. So, yes.

SANCHEZ: 100 percent.

WALKER: Uncomfortable with that.

SANCHEZ: A dystopian future, no question.


SANCHEZ: And we -- you should also keep this in mind. There are reports out there that Knicks fans who have commented things to James Dolan and to the team online, just commented things online, have been booted from games because they have been picked up by the facial recognition system.


SANCHEZ: So, that brings up questions of freedom of speech as well.


SANCHEZ: A dystopian future, perhaps, ahead of us, Amara.

WALKER: Yes, it's frightening. Thanks for the positivity, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course. I am here for you when you need me, yes.

WALKER: Coming up, it is California versus everyone else. Months of bitter negotiations between seven states that rely on the Colorado River's vanishing water have collapsed and it's setting the stage for a high-stakes legal battle.



WALKER: Some major southwest cities could soon be cut off from the Colorado River water supply if California gets its way.

SANCHEZ: Yes, sources say that in a closed-door meeting between officials from seven states, representatives of California's water districts suggested cutting off cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas which depend on that water. CNN's Camila Bernal explains.


SARAH LARIVIERE, BURBANK RESIDENT: This is a kind of a mallow plant. Here, this is called cowboys' cologne.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): By planting mostly native and drought resistant plants, Sarah Lariviere's garden saves her time and money, but most importantly water.

LARIVIERE: In the winter I don't really have to water, maybe every three or four weeks, maybe not at all if there's rain. But in the summer, every seven to 10 days.

BERNAL (voiceover): This kind of water conservation might eventually be mandated in states that depend on the Colorado River's vanishing water.

JONATHAN ZASLOFF, UCLA PROFESSOR OF LAW: There's not enough water. Everybody wants more of it.

BERNAL (voiceover): These seven states have not been able to agree on how to achieve unprecedented water cuts. Months of bitter negotiations have collapsed, and it's now California versus everyone else.

ZASLOFF: California's side is that they essentially made a deal back in the late '60s, early '70s, that if things are going to be running dry, they get guaranteed to certain amount. The other states are saying, well, yes, but we've got this real crisis, so let's do it in a different way.

BERNAL (voiceover): UCLA professor, Jonathan Zasloff, says, the law and the size of the state give California an advantage.

ADEL HAGEKHALIL, GENERAL MANAGER METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT: What we're saying is let's do it slowly and gradually. Let's talk about how we do it, because we need to collaborate. We have rights. Water rights are at the table.

BERNAL (voiceover): But the six other states are showing their strength through a coalition. THOMAS BUSCHATZKE, DIRECTOR, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES: I think all six of us will continue to collective band together, but also be willing to compromise more towards the middle.

BERNAL (voiceover): All seven states are now waiting for the federal government to weigh in.

ZASLOFF: What could happen, eventually, I think, is that the secretary of the interior is going to say, I'm going to make my decision in three months, and I'm not going to tell you what I'm going to do. And then with that kind of incredible uncertainty, that might bring them to the table.

BERNAL (voiceover): Another option is an expensive, lengthy and high- stakes legal battle at the Supreme Court.

ZASLOFF (voiceover): It's much better to get a political decision than to get a litigation decision with the Supreme Court that they've learned is not particularly reliable on getting the facts right or getting the equities right.

BERNAL (voiceover): So, they continue to negotiate and encourage the more than 40 million people in the west that depend on this water to conserve in any way possible, because more severe consequences could become a reality.

ZASLOFF (voiceover): We can't think of water just as water, as just something that you drink. It's going to be everything that you do, not only in terms of landscaping, but in terms of food, in terms of your energy.

BERNAL (voiceover): Experts believe the seven states probably won't agree on how to cut about 30 percent of the river water allocation.

LARIVIERE: So, when we moved in, this was all grass.

BERNAL (voiceover): But individuals can do their part.

LARIVIERE: I think there's more all of us can do, and I do think it's our responsibility.

BERNAL (voiceover): Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Camila for that report.

Before we go, a quick reminder for you, the new CNN film "American Pain" premieres tonight. It explores how two brothers from Florida fueled the opioid epidemic legally. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The George brothers did not start the opioid crisis, but they sure as hell poured gasoline on the fire. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's talk about growing up in Florida. Anything to do with money perks Chris and Jeff's enter rest. The big money was at the pain clinics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was window dressing that allowed them to deal drugs legally.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a line all the way down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a frat house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were basically the Disneyland of pain clinics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They thought they were smarter than everybody else and could get away with anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I felt this whole thing spiraling out of control.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida was the never-ending pill bottle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these patients drive from out of state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People were dying because of them. They didn't care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was just batch -- crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They put on the wire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people buried themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a signal.



ANNOUNCER: "American Pain", tonight at 9:00 on CNN.


WALKER: All right. And that is our time. Thank you for yours and for starting your morning with us. Great to be with you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Great to be with you, Amara. "Inside Politics Sunday with Abby Phillip" is up next. Have a great week.