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CNN This Morning

Trump Bashes Proposed Bipartisan Immigration Deal; Haley Courts Home State Voters, Doubles Down On Targeting Trump; Biden's Fiery Campaign Speech Targets Trump, Stresses Unity Over Border Issues; Speakers Johnson Says Border Bill Likely "Dead On Arrival"; Protesters Want Gaza Aid Halted Until All Hostages Are Released; Rep. Boebert Debates Against Eight Opponents; During a Debate, Rep. Boebert was Dubbed a "Carpetbagger"; IRS Plans to Start Trial Program for Free Tax Filing; Storms Pound New England Coast, Bringing Severe Climate Issues to Light; Miles of Beaches Along Maine Coast Eroded by Extreme Weather. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 28, 2024 - 07:00   ET




AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to CNN This Morning. It is Sunday, January 28th -- I keep hearing January 28th, by the way. You singing Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. I'm Amara Walker. That was around this time yesterday.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Because the song was Saturday, Saturday.

WALKER: I know, but you may can always change the words.

BLACKWELL: But the song is Saturday.

WALKER: Let's be flexible.

BLACKWELL: All right. I'm Victor Blackwell. Thank you for joining us. Here's what we're watching for you.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Joe Biden is doing is a crime against our nation. It's an absolute betrayal of our country.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.


BLACKWELL: President Biden and former President Trump are aiming at one another in a preview of what a bitter rematch could look like. But Nikki Haley says she is not done. The major points each candidates trying to drive home ahead of the next set of primaries and caucuses.

WALKER: As a war between Israel and Hamas continues, we're hearing stark details from an Israeli soldier about what they're facing deep inside Gaza's tunnels, including bullets ricocheting off the walls.

BLACKWELL: And it's that time of year, the start of the tax filing season. And for some taxpayers, there's a new way to file. We'll explain. Plus, the key to getting a faster refund this year.

WALKER: And back to back storms are giving us a glimpse at a future with climate change. How one stretch of the East Coast is facing its new climate reality?

This weekend brought a preview of the 2024 election with President Biden and former President Trump trading attacks on the campaign. Trump campaigned in Nevada while President Biden courted voters in South Carolina.

BLACKWELL: The other Republican candidate, Nikki Haley, was in her home state there of South Carolina too. As she escalated her attacks on Trump, she's mounting a month long stand until the South Carolina primary. It's his only remaining rival in the Republican race. She's the only candidate on the trail today.

CNN's Alayna Treene has more from the campaign trail.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Amara. Nevada is a state that Donald Trump and his team already feel like they've won. And that's because Nikki Haley is not participating in the caucus here. Instead, she's on the ballot for the primary. But the caucus is really where the state's crucial delegates will be awarded.

And so that was a key part of Trump's message on Saturday. He was telling voters to go out to the caucus, skip the primary, and really focus on the race where Donald Trump will matter. But because they don't see Nikki Haley as a player here, it also allowed Trump to shift his messaging toward a general election rematch with Joe Biden, and a key issue was talking about the border.

Part of that is because the border is a very important issue to Nevada. It's a state with a very large migrant population, but it's also the timing that is noteworthy. I think, you know, in Congress, there is this bipartisan immigration deal that Donald Trump has privately and publicly been urging lawmakers to reject.

And he went further than he had yet with his rhetoric on Saturday, declaring that there is, quote, "Zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America." Take a listen to how he put it.


TRUMP: It's tough when you have a very small majority. Very tough. Mike Johnson, speaker, he just said it's dead on arrival in the House. It's dead on arrival. We want either a strong bill or no bill, and whatever happens, happens. But this is the single greatest threat to our country right now, is the people pouring into our country, because we have no idea who they are. The fact is that if Joe Biden truly wanted to secure the border, he doesn't really need a bill.



TREENE: Now, part of the reason Donald Trump is urging lawmakers to reject this is because it's an issue that he wants to continue talking about on the campaign trail, but it's also an issue that he thinks Joe Biden is very vulnerable on. And so, he told the crowd on Saturday that he's fine taking the blame if this deal goes down and is a failure in Congress.

Now, just one other thing I want to mention, Victor and Amara, that I found very noteworthy on Saturday. He did not mention once the $83.3 million that a jury ordered him to award E. Jean Carroll on Friday. I think that's something that some people had anticipated he might bring up, but he did not discuss it.

Victor, Amara?

BLACKWELL: Alayna Treene for us, thank you so much.

Nikki Haley is also in South Carolina this weekend. She's ramping up, as I said, her criticism of Donald Trump.

WALKER: CNN's Eva McKend was at her rally Saturday night in Malden and she spoke with voters. Good morning, Eva.

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, Nikki Haley, now the last Republican standing in this fight against Trump. And you can tell that she's relishing this. Many may wonder, where was this Nikki Haley a few weeks, a few months ago?

Well, now she is taking the fight directly to Trump personally. Saying that he is thin skinned, unhinged, a bit sensitive, throwing temper tantrums, overly concerned about revenge, and suggesting that all the time that he's spending in the courtroom is time that he's not spending concerned about the American people.


NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Only two states have voted. There are 48 more that have to vote. No matter what Donald Trump thinks, he can't bully his way to the White House. It's not going to work.

And after he did that, we raised another $1.4 million. So Donald, keep them coming because it's great.


MCKEND: And she does have an audience for this message. I spoke to a woman from here in the Greenville area. And she told me that she didn't like that she felt like Haley was being bullied and said that Trump has a history of bullying women. She also said that she felt like the political establishment was piling on Haley as well.

Another woman at one point yelling out, keep going. And then Haley responded to that that she hopes that the political establishment hears this. So listen, she does have a base of support here in South Carolina. The question now is, in the weeks ahead, can she pull off an upset in this state and really continue to shake up this contest?

Victor, Amara?

WALKER: Eva, thank you.

President Joe Biden is embracing tougher border measures as he looks to the general election.

BLACKWELL: Speaking to South Carolina, voters last night, the president said he supports an emerging bipartisan immigration deal. And it's requirement to effectively shut down the southern border with Mexico if migrant crossings reach a certain level.


BIDEN: It'll also give me as president, the emergency authority to shut down the border until it can get back under control. If that bill were the law today, I'd shut down the border right now and fix it quickly.


BLACKWELL: The president also previewed his general election message, drawing a sharp contrast with former President Trump on the economy, the pandemic and respect for veterans. He also attacked his main Republican rival and called him a defeated former president and a loser.


BIDEN: You're the reason I am president. You're the reason Kamala Harris is historic vice president. And you're the reason Donald Trump is a defeated former president.


You're the reason Donald Trump is a loser. And you're the reason we're going to win and beat him again.


BLACKWELL: Meg Kinnard is a national politics reporter with The Associated Press. She is based in South Carolina. Good to have you this morning.

Let me start with that soundbite because when we listen to the crowd response, when the president says, you're the reason I'm president, you're the reason Kamala Harris is vice president, there's a polite applause, but the cheers and the shouts come when he says that you're the reason that Donald Trump is defeated and we're going to do it again. Is that instructive for the campaign on how to ignite some fire under a base that might be a little deflated or am I reading too much into 23 seconds? MEG KINNARD, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: No, Victor. Good morning. I think you're absolutely right. This is something that the Biden campaign has indicated that they are hoping to build up this energy and hopefully a big win for the president right here in South Carolina and then propel that into these other states.

Remember, this is where Joe Biden notched his massive win in 2020 that helped bounce some of his opponents out and continue through to Super Tuesday and the nomination.


And so, by starting here in South Carolina, by rejiggering the calendar to reflect the president's win, this is the place that they're hoping to really get that campaign kicked off. And along the way, reminding all of those voters that get it started. If we do this, if we do this in a big way, we can defeat Donald Trump again.

BLACKWELL: But there are almost -- two almost certainties here is that -- and you write about this in your piece for the AP, that, one, he will win the Democratic primary in South Carolina, almost certain, and he will lose South Carolina in the general election.

So if you're making this pitch to excite black voters, especially the part, the group that elevated him, why not do that in Atlanta or Detroit or Minneapolis in a state that's, you know, on the line, a swing state.

KINNARD: Certainly, you're absolutely right, and those states will be coming up pretty swiftly in the Democratic nominating calendar. The Biden campaign and Democrats writ large here in South Carolina are not thinking that, unlike its neighbors to the North and to the West, South Carolina is becoming more purple from a statewide perspective.

This is going to vote for Republicans in the general. But with the energy in South Carolina for the president and the fact that he has performed here very strongly in cycles past, they have indicated that especially among those black voters who represent a large portion of the Democratic voting electorate here and in a lot of other places, that is the message that they're hoping to telegraph into these other spots that Joe Biden is your guide. These are the issues on which he has stood up for your interests in the past, and he can do it again this year.

BLACKWELL: All right. So let's go now to the Republicans. And this is President Trump on the border negotiations last night in Nevada.


TRUMP: I noticed a lot of the senators, a lot of the senators are trying to say respectfully, they're blaming it on me. I said, that's OK. Please blame it on me, please, because they were getting ready to pass a very bad bill. And I'll tell you what, a bad bill is -- I'd rather have no bill than a bad bill.


BLACKWELL: They were getting ready to pass a very bad bill. Before we get to the House, does this get out of the Senate with that type of pressure?

KINNARD: Your guess is as good as mine. I'm not going to forecast exactly what the congressional members up in D.C. are going to do. But certainly, as we see this issue becoming a major part in the Republican primary, thus far, and now being mentioned on the Democratic campaign trail, there is a lot of national level pressure coming into these negotiations.

And so, with certainly the former president weighing in, now the current president talking about how it's going and making progress in this arena of priority, that's coming pressure from both sides.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the speaker, Speaker Johnson says that it's dead on arrival in the House. And I wonder what your analysis is of his now suggesting that the president can just issue an executive order, take some executive action to have the speaker of the House call on the president, especially a president of a different party to take action without the authority of Congress. What does that tell you about the position that he's in?

KINNARD: It seems like it's a sticky one. And oftentimes, especially when we have Congress being controlled by one party and the White House occupied by another, there's always a conversation about these executive orders and what the president should or shouldn't be doing on his or her own without that approval or otherwise legislative support from Congress.

So it's a sticky situation for the speaker for sure. And with the president talking about the negotiations and reiterating that, yes, this is something he would do if he had that legislation, I think we see where those two sides are at this point.

BLACKWELL: Let's listen to former President Trump once more from Nevada.


TRUMP: The leader of our party, there is zero chance I will support this horrible open borders betrayal of America. It's not going to happen. I noticed that and I'll fight it all the way.


BLACKWELL: So that is former President Trump there and foreign aid betrayal can be swapped in for border portrayal or funding betrayal. With this type of authority now and this pressure he's placed on Congress, I mean, congressional negotiators reportedly are making some progress on totals for budgets for these different departments once the stop gaps and in early March.

But if Trump doesn't want Biden to have any wins, does that get through? I mean, what does this mean for the speaker that he's able to just say, I'm not going to let it happen?

KINNARD: I mean, the speaker has come out and support former President Donald Trump in this campaign, as we have seen a lot of Republicans doing writ large on the Hill.


So as he is saying these things and as they have lined up their support behind him, it seems conventional wisdom would tell us that those kinds of things are going to kind of move in parallel nature. If he's saying that this is something that he really thinks should or shouldn't be done, we'll see how it actually goes down.

We've all seen congressional negotiations come down to the wire and ultimately something gets worked out in the end. But this is a very contentious campaign year, so we shall see.

BLACKWELL: All right, Meg Kinnard, thanks so much.

WALKER: Coming up, hundreds of protesters are blocking critical aid from entering Gaza. We are live with the latest. Plus, at Israel's -- as Israel's war with Hamas nears its fourth month, tunnels built by Hamas still pose a challenge for Israeli forces. We'll take a closer look at the dangers.



WALKER: Right now, Israeli citizens are protesting outside the Kerem Shalom crossing and blocking aid trucks from accessing the only way into Gaza.

BLACKWELL: The protesters say they will not allow aid into Gaza until all of the hostages held by Hamas are released. CNN's Nic Robertson is there. Nic, what do you see?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it's a little bit of a developing situation right now. This has been a very calm and peaceful protest throughout the day. You can see behind me here the actual fence that the trucks would normally come through. The aid trucks are parked up around there. There's this heavy metal gate along here.

People would -- the trucks would normally come through here and pass along. But they haven't been able to come through because the protesters have been blocking them. Joining me now is Sefi Benchaim. You've been in charge of the protests here?


ROBERTSON: What was happening just now? There was a bit of a kerfuffle.

BENCHAIM: They thought that there is more eight trucks that are getting to Gaza. And we want to stop it because we don't have our people right now. They're now --

ROBERTSON: The hostages.

BENCHAIM: The hostages now in Gaza. And still, we're not getting 136 hostages from Gaza. We don't want to give them any aid. The problem is in Hamas. Hamas needs to take responsibility on his -- on the war that he opened at the 7th in October. He needs, right now, to get -- to bring all of the 136 hostages are in Gaza, right now, to Israel.

ROBERTSON: And you've been blocking this route for how many days now?

BENCHAIM: It's the first -- four days.

ROBERTSON: Four days.


ROBERTSON: No trucks getting through.

BENCHAIM: No trucks, but we started before like three and a half weeks. And right now, we get more and more and more people to do these things.

ROBERTSON: But when you stop the food going in, there are hundreds of thousands of starving people in there.

BENCHAIM: The responsible about the Palestinian kids and families is on Hamas. Hamas -- one second -- Hamas has our hostages. When he will give us back our hostages, he will get back the aid.

ROBERTSON: But don't you feel bad about the women and children suffering?

BENCHAIM: First of all, I feel bad, first of all, about my people. I have 136 people inside. I feel about them bad. Who did -- who opened the war at 7th of October? We saw it's not only the Hamas, it's also the people inside. They came, like, 70 years old, 8 years old, came to steal and to kill people. Then it's --

ROBERTSON: I just want to ask you about the soldiers here. You've been relatively small numbers and the soldiers and police are not stopping your protest. What happens when the government tells them to stop?

BENCHAIM: They will stop us.

ROBERTSON: They will stop you?

BENCHAIM: Yes, they will stop us.


BENCHAIM: OK. They're trying, but we came a lot of people, and also the soldiers, and also the cops. They have people that --

ROBERTSON: But they could have stopped you earlier today, and they didn't. BENCHAIM: It's their problem. I tried to come here. It's -- I'm doing my step. They need to do their step. If they're not doing it, it's not my issue.

ROBERTSON: Thank you.

BENCHAIM: Also in Hamas, it's the same thing. Hamas, the problem -- they have the problem. I don't think what is with the Palestinians kids. They need -- they are -- they have the government there. They need to think about the little kids and families.

ROBERTSON: And just last week, the International Court of Justice says Israel must let all the humanitarian aid get through. So, all the pressures on Israel, Israel has to do what this international U.N. court says.

BENCHAIM: Right, right. But you can see all of the people here right now came to say, OK, you want humanitarian aid? Then get it. But first of all, bring us our hostages.

ROBERTSON: Sefi, thank you very much, indeed.

BENCHAIM: You're welcome.

ROBERTSON: I appreciate it. Yes.

BENCHAIM: OK. Thank you very much.

ROBERTSON: And of course, this isn't the only situation affecting humanitarian aid at the moment because there is huge pressure and tension with the main U.N. agency, UNRWA, that's actually delivering the aid once it gets inside Gaza. There are allegations that some of their staff members were involved in Hamas's brutal October 7th attacks, and that, of course, is causing -- calling into question their work.

And the United States and many other countries now saying they're going to suspend funding for UNRWA. Not clear how quickly that actually impacts the humanitarian aid going in, but it's not an easy road.


BLACKWELL: Nic Robertson for us there at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Nick, thank you.

Well, meanwhile, Israel is not letting up. They're continuing their fight to eradicate Hamas in Gaza. Heavy fighting continues in the southern city of Khan Younis, where the Israeli military says it is carrying out precise operations against Hamas.

WALKER: One of their top priorities has been destroying the extensive tunnel network inside Gaza where the fighting has become even more intense. CNN's Jeremy Diamond spoke with one Israeli soldier who was ambushed by a Hamas militant in those tunnels.


MASTER SERGEANT OMRI ERENTAL (RES.), ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: The bullet went in the cheek, got inside my jaw, and took a piece of my jaw and on the corner and then went down over here to my neck and stayed there.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Master Sergeant Omri Erental is lucky to be alive.

ERENTAL: That's the bullet here.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Kneeling on the edge of this tunnel shaft, he says he was shot by a Hamas militant hidden inside. A ricochet off the tunnel wall likely saving his life.

ERENTAL: When I turned my flashlight on, I saw a gun light like flash -- yes, a gun flash. And then I felt like 5 kilos hammer that was inside hot lava just like punched into my face.

DIAMOND (voice-over): As he crawled away from the tunnel shaft, the soldiers in his combat engineering unit killed the gunman. But his brush with death speaks to the enormous challenge Hamas tunnels still present to the Israeli military after three months of war.

NITZAN NURIEL, BRIG. GENERAL, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: There is the upper Gaza and lower Gaza. There is upper Khan Younis and lower Khan Younis. It's a very tough mission.

DIAMOND (voice-over): General Nitzan Nuriel, a former member of Israel's National Security Council, estimates that Israel has only discovered about 60 percent of the hundreds of miles of tunnels below Gaza.

NURIEL: We blew up something like 20 percent, so a lot of work ahead of us. It's not something that can be finished within a few weeks. It's a question of months.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Exposing and destroying these tunnels has been central to Israel's mission in Gaza where it has dropped enormous bunker busting bombs that penetrate deep underground leaving enormous craters and often causing heavy civilian casualties. But there is also concern for Israeli hostages held underground.

NURIEL: We cannot just blew up all those tunnels assuming that hostages are there, at least 50 percent of them. So we have to do it slowly, slowly.

DIAMOND (voice-over): That means sending troops deep into booby trapped tunnels where Hamas fighters could be laying in wait before rigging and detonating them.

In the meantime, many Hamas fighters are surviving in sophisticated tunnels equipped with electricity, bathrooms and stocks of food and water. But for how much longer?

NURIEL: How long they can stay there? It's a good question. Not for good. They will not be able to survive there because of all those conditions for, let's say, more than two more months.

DIAMOND (voice-over): For now, at least, that means the battle rages on, both above and below the surface.


WALKER: Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Still ahead, embattled Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado slammed as a so called carpetbagger during a primary debate in a congressional district. We'll have much more.



BLACKWELL: Election denialism, carpet bagging, prior arrest, those are the topics that embattled Congresswoman Lauren Boebert had to face on the debate stage Thursday night against eight of her primary opponents in her home state of Colorado.

WALKER: It was the Congresswoman's first major political test following a high profile move to a much more conservative district. CNN's Nick Watt takes a closer look.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Far right, often armed, always outspoken, Lauren Boebert has been called a lot of things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Trump acolyte, a very feisty member you might say.

WATT (voice-over): Now, add one more barb from fellow Republicans on the debate stage back home in Colorado.

MIKE LYNCH, (R) COLORADO CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Could you, like, give the definition of carpetbagger?

REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): I have moved into the fourth district.

WATT (voice-over): In 2022, Boebert won Colorado's 3rd district by just 546 votes, that's 0.2 percent. She has now moved next door for '24 to the very reliably red 4th, where Republican Incumbent Ken Buck trounced his opponent by nearly 25 percentage points in 2022. Buck is now retiring on principle.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Too many Republican leaders are lying to America, claiming that the 2020 election was stolen.

WATT (voice-over): His wannabe replacements now all trying to out MAGA each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stand for our children over migrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our country is being invaded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll be voting for President Trump, his third victory.

WATT (voice-over): Boebert claims this district switch isn't bald faced political pragmatism, more of a personal growth story.

BOEBERT: This announcement is a fresh start following a pretty difficult year for me and my family.

WATT (voice-over): After nearly 20 years and four kids, last year she filed for divorce from high school sweetheart Jason. This week, he was charged with disorderly conduct over two recent incidents. One, an argument with his ex at a restaurant. Last September, Boebert was thrown out of the musical "Beetlejuice" in Denver for causing a disturbance. Surveillance video showed her vaping and getting groped by her date.


Boebert is not the only candidate in Colorado's fourth with an interesting past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another show of hands here. Have you ever been arrested?

WATT (voice-over): Six hands in the air, among them Mike Lynch, minority leader in the Colorado statehouse. He stepped down this week after a 2022 DUI conviction came to light. But in GOP politics these days, an arrest can be spun as an asset.

LYNCH: We need people that understand people. People that are human and make mistakes.

BOEBERT: I'm not perfect by any means. In fact, I wrote a book about many of the things that have gone wrong in my life. But that is part of the American dream.

My arrest was just a simple traffic violation that was unpaid.

WATT: That's not entirely true. She also didn't show up in court, and she was also arrested another time at a music festival, the disorderly conduct charges were later dropped. But listen, it's all pretty petty stuff. How's she going to do in this primary? Unclear. But after that debate, they did take a straw poll of the small crowd that was there, and Boebert came in fifth out of nine.

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


WALKER: Nick, thank you.

Still ahead, the IRS is set to launch a new free tax filing pilot program this week. Yes, get excited everybody. We're going to discuss who is eligible and how it will work. Important information. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


WALKER: I can't believe I'm already saying this, but tax season kicks off tomorrow. And now, some taxpayers will have a new option of filing their 2023 federal tax returns with a brand-new government run online system. It's called, Direct File, and it's a free program that will open tomorrow on a limited basis.

Joining me now is Michelle Singletary. She is a personal finance columnist for "The Washington Post." Good morning, Michelle. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. So, let's talk about Direct File. What is it and who should consider using it?

MICHELLE SINGLETARY, WASHINGTON POST PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST AND AUTHOR, "WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR MONEY WHEN CRISIS HITS": Well, it's a limited pilot program because, you know, in the past people have been complaining, you know, tax season is so complicated. And why can't the IRS help me? They got all my paperwork. And so, this is a way to test whether you can file directly with the IRS. It's going to be on a limited basis initially, and then about mid-March, it will open up to more folks in about 12 states.

WALKER: OK. To 12 states, got it. So, is Direct File supposed to be, I guess, easier to use? We know that it's a free program.

SINGLETARY: It's definitely supposed to be easier because most people have a very simple tax situation. They've got W-2 wage income. You work for a job or you have social security income or maybe just unemployment, that's what it's going to be limited to. And so, the IRS has your W-2 forms, and basically you go in and walks you through simply, you know, you're going to take the standard deduction. So, it's not going to be available for people who have more complicated tax situations or have itemized deductions.

But for the vast majority of tax filers, their tax situation is fairly simple. They've got income from a job, they take the standard deduction, and it allows them to skip having to pay anywhere from $150 to $200, you know, to have their taxes prepared.

WALKER: So, I feel like I heard a collective moan when I said it's, you know, tax season is all -- is tomorrow. It officially opens tomorrow. But everyone loves a refund, right? So, what are some tips on what we can do to make sure that we get that refund quickly without any delays?

SINGLETARY: Yes, people love those refunds. I do not. But with -- that's another whole segment. So, essentially there's three components to get your refund fast. No errors, direct -- have the money sent directly to your bank account, and e-file. Those three things will get you your tax refund in about 21 days. If you file a paper return, and if you don't have to, please don't, it's going to take about four weeks or more because they have to manually process that paper return. So, e-file, double check everything, and have your refund sent directly to your bank account. And here's another thing, you can have that refund split up so that you could put it in a savings account so that you'll have some money, you know, people have all these things that they want to spend on their refund, but it allows you to save some of that.

WALKER: I'm sorry, did you say you don't like refunds, Michelle?

BLACKWELL: That's what I want to know.





SINGLETARY: Because many people adjust their hold -- withholding so they get -- so the IRS gets more of their money because it's a forced savings for them. But that means that the government is holding your money for a whole year for you to get it back. And now that interest rates are higher on checking and savings accounts, you know, high yield accounts, you're losing a lot of money by letting the U.S. government hold your money.

Listen, send it to me. I'll hold it for you.

WALKER: Send it to me, yes.

SINGLETARY: But the point is, you know, you want to get your money thought during the year, especially if you've got debt. Like you've got credit card debt, the government's holding your money, you're paying this credit card payment all year. Get your money, pay down that debt during the year.

WALKER: OK. So, for the very few who don't like refunds like you, Michelle, then what can we do? Is it the W-4 form, I don't even know, to make sure that the government doesn't withhold so much money?

SINGLETARY: Well, you had -- you know more than you know because you said it right. ?So, you go to your H.R. department, you look at your W-4 form, and you look at your withholdings.


And listen, the IRS, I know people are -- you know, definitely scared of it, but their website is actually pretty helpful. You go to, there's a withholding tool that you can put in your information that will help you. If you're completely not sure, like, I don't understand this. You could hire a tax professional that can help you figure it out because I really do want you to get that money during the year.

The idea is that you may owe a teeny bit or get a teeny bit refund but you don't want this. I mean, the average refund let's say it was about $3,100. Think about what you could do that -- with that during the year, you could invest that during the year. And that's this past, you know, several months, the stock market has been doing really well. So, you want to put that money to work for you so that you -- so you want to have it come into your paycheck during the year.

Now, I understand some people like, oh girl, I want my refund. I can't save during the year. OK. That's fine. But make sure you -- when you do get that refund, you should do something with it that will help you financially for your future.

WALKER: Yes. So glad we're talking to you, because I think a lot of people have a hard time with self-restraint. I mean, when you have that money up front, you know, it's sometimes -- for me, it's better for the government to hold my money and then remind me, oh, there's all this money that we still owe you.

Before we go, I was reading your column about cash apps and Venmo and, what have you. I mean, you have to report income or payments for services through these apps, correct?

SINGLETARY: That's right. So, there was a lot of change of pandemic related law change that it was really a reporting law. So, now going in sometime in the future, if you have $600 or more, those companies, Venmo, Cashmo (ph) has to report it to the IRS.

Now, here's the problem. You are already supposed to report all your income. This is just a new reporting rule. The IRS has delayed that rule because everybody's confused. They're like, well, what if I send grandma some money? Are they going to send me a 1099? So, no, it's only if you are making money and you get paid through those apps that you have to report your income.

Now you're supposed to report it, but you get another year for them to not have to report it to the IRS And it's all kind of complicated.

WALKER: Got it.

SINGLETARY: But basically is, if you're making money, you're supposed to report it to the IRS.

WALKER: Got it. Got it. You know, I hate talking about money and taxes, but you know, you make it so pleasant and interesting. Michelle Singletary, good to have you. Thanks.

We'll be right back.

SINGLETARY: Thank you.



BLACKWELL: Communities along the New England coastline are getting a glimpse at how climate change could make coastal weather even more extreme. Here's CNN's Bill Weir with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a planet warm to record highs by fossil fuel pollution, the Gulf of Maine is among those corners of Earth overheating the fastest. This is driving lobster and cod further offshore, making it harder to make a living off of the sea. But then the warming climate brought another devastating blow this month.

Two of them, actually. Back-to-back, freakishly wet winter storms that came not from the typical northeast, but from the south. And at record high tide, a combination that brought down wharves and docks that have been part of the landscape for generations.

WEIR: So, this is -- was what that was there?

GUY BAKER, RESIDENT OF BRISTOL, MAINE: Yes, the whole building.

WEIR: No way. This is -- that's what's left of it.

BAKER: Yes. Just generations and generations of stuff. And, you know, there's a lot of memory down there.

WEIR (voice-over): Meanwhile, in South Portland, the storm surge took three iconic fish shacks built on Willard Beach 136 years ago.

MAYOR MISHA PRIDE, SOUTH PORTLAND, MAINE: Pretty obvious they're gone, you know. If you've never been here before, you might not have a clue.

WEIR: Who wouldn't know, right? But that --

PRIDE: And they didn't leave any kind of impression up there either. There's no --

WEIR: No trace.

PRIDE: There's no trace of them whatsoever. So, the only impression we have is an emotional.

WEIR: It's in here, right?

WEIR (voice-over): The storms buried the last high-water record literally.

PRIDE: Down there in the hull is the 1978 blizzard high watermark.

WEIR: Is that right?

PRIDE: That's right. It was covered by sand in this most recent storm.

WEIR (voice-over): But all of this is what happens after just seven and a half inches of sea level rise in the last 100 years. And scientists telling Maine to brace for much more in the next 25.

HANNAH BARANES, GULF OF MAINE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: Maine is preparing for a foot and a half of sea level rise by 2050 and four feet by 2100. Mainers are resilient. So, there are people who are experiencing devastating intergenerational loss right now. And almost in the same breath, they are recognizing the realities of climate change and saying, how high and how strong do I need to rebuild, or do I rebuild at all?

WEIR: Were you insured?

BAKER: No, no insurance. It's so expensive for insurance for anything over the water.

WEIR: Yes.

BAKER: So, like me and whoever, you just can't afford it.

WEIR (voice-over): Monique Coombs advocates for fishermen, which these days includes sounding the alarm of a growing mental health crisis.

MONIQUE COOMBS, MAINE COAST FISHERMEN'S ASSOCIATION: You have memories there. You learn to fish there. Your kids learn to fish there. And then these storms come along and it's completely gone. That coupled with your community changing because now there is more mansions than there are fish houses, that takes processing. That's a sense of loss and grief and a way of life that's, sort of, fading.

And it's -- we're in a precarious position in the industry right now, but fishermen are some of the most resilient people I know. They are stubborn, which is a blessing and a curse, and they are a really good problem solver. So, if anybody can build back after storms, if anybody can contend with climate change, I think it's those guys and gal.


WEIR (on camera): And Maine is actually setting a nationwide example when it comes to climate action plan. They set a goal to install 100,000 heat pumps in a certain amount of time.


Blew past it, now they want to double that. Of course, that's a much more efficient way to heat a home than a furnace. Replace your air conditioner as well. And the scientist in that piece, Hannah, says he goes to communities to talk about new climate data, starts with a lecture about climate change, and folks say, no, we get it. What's next? So, this is the place to keep an eye on when it comes to lessons and adaptation. Victor, Amara.

WALKER: Extraordinary stuff. Bill Weir, thank you.

And tonight, on "The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper", CNN's Alisyn Camerota gets on board a superyacht to find out just how far luxury can go.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Have you spent time on Russian yachts? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have. I have. Most of the real super wealthy Russian would have a chain of people that you had to deal with before you could actually get to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In order to figure out who owns a yacht, in many cases it's owned by a Shell company in an offshore tax haven. There are lawyers and companies standing between the real owner and the names on the page. These things now entered a kind of legal limbo.

In the meantime, by the way, these boats are being maintained, strangely enough, by U.S. taxpayers. The law requires that these boats are maintained at the level at which they were seized, meaning that it can cost tens of millions of dollars to keep these boats afloat.

CAMEROTA (voice-over): That's right, American taxpayers are paying the upkeep on both yachts seized by the FBI, including the Amadea. It's been sitting in a Southern California dock for more than a year and a half. According to court documents, it's reportedly costing taxpayers $1 million a month.


WALKER: The "Whole Story with Anderson Cooper" airs tonight at 8:00 right here on CNN. We'll be right back.