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Deadly Storm Slams California with Heavy Rain, Massive Flooding; French Officials: 6 Injured in Stabbing Attack at Train Station; Biden Says He Was "Surprised" to Learn of Classified Docs at Office. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 11, 2023 - 05:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No water for two years, and then more water than we got in two years and 24 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wanted rain, we've got it.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, too much, too fast. Epic rain after a fierce drought and it is not over just yet.

Chaos at a crowded train station. Police in Paris moments ago opening fire on an attacker who just stabbed a half dozen people.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there are any governor records that were taken there.


ROMANS: President Biden speaking out now, what he is now saying about those classified documents found in a private office he used to use.


ROMANS: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Christine Romans. Good morning.

We begin with tens of thousands of Californians this morning under evacuation orders as a series of major storms pound the state from north to south.

The National Weather Service says that there has been more than 150 reports of flooding and mudslides in southern California alone. It saturated hillsides, some scarred by brushfires during the states long drought, sliding down onto roads and homes.

This is video just in of a crushed car that was pulled out of a sinkhole that formed when the earth moved. The extreme weather is not over, more big storms are in the forecast for the coming weeks.

CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): During recent historic droughts, California prayed for rain, but not like this.

Two days of torrential rain, thunderstorms, and wind gusts are pounding California, causing mudslides, overflowing rivers, and triggering extensive flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got trees down. We've got mudslides. We've got actually folks trapped in areas where we have major road failures.

LAH: At least 17 people have died as a result of the storms, after more than 18 inches of rain fell in parts of southern California. And high wind advisories were issued on the central coast.

In San Francisco, a rare hailstorm hit Ashbury. And throughout northern California --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rain hammered here pretty bad.

LAH: -- the rushing river has flooded, following torrential downpours. Some residents have been without power for a week. In Santa Barbara County, mass evacuations, after that storm saturated the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was pouring, the wind was whipping.

LAH: Following years of extreme drought and fires.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the mountainside here, the debris started coming down, filling up to four feet or so. Pretty much buried the truck, and now it's starting to flow.

LAH: More than 30 million people are under flood alerts, and across southern California, flash flooding trapped drivers. Firefighters here rescued a motorist stranded in rushing waters. And mud and rockslides creating havoc for residents.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 800-pound rock just smashed the house, it just hit the wall and blew everything out.

LAH: In northern California, the rain flooded roads, and vineyards, it almost doubled the snow pack in local mountains, offering hope that these storms may somehow ease California's historic drought.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're riding through it. Yeah, it could be a lot worse.


LAH (on camera): It's hard to think about drought when this is what southern California is dealing with. I'm standing on a roadway that goes back behind, me you cannot see it because of all the debris on this road. This came from this mountain, this hillside five years ago burned in a wildfire and with all the rain and lack of vegetation, it all came down onto the street and into these yards.

The concern now is what happens in the upcoming days, with rain in the forecast.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Casitas Springs, California.

ROMANS: All right. Kyung, thank you so much for that.

In Paris, six people were injured in a stabbing attack at the main Gare du Nord train station. Officials say that one is in critical condition.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Paris for us this morning.

Melissa, what are police saying about the attack and the attacker?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we are hearing Christina is that it was 6:42, so rush, hour just getting underway when this man went on a rampage with not quite a knife there saying some kind of blade fashioned at home. We do not more details about the weapon that was used.

But what is extraordinary, Christine, is that the attack happened in a minute. In the space of that single minute he managed to wound six people, as you say, one of them critically, and was then taken down by off duty police officers who managed to shoot.


And they shot three times, we understand that he is in critical condition between life and death. But, until police are able to speak to him and find out more about his motives, there has been no anti- terror investigation launched here in Paris. So for the time, being we know nothing about his motives, all we know is the scene of that rampage single minute and the frenzy with which it was carried out.

Extremely shocking scenes here, and what is one of the busiest train stations in Europe, Christine. A single minute of attack even as it was filling up, people are feeling inside, now trains have been stopped into London and other northern European destinations, but it is extremely shocking scenes here for anyone who has been in this train station. In just a minute, he was able to go on a rampage with that knife.

ROMANS: All right. Keep us posted in any developments there, Melissa Bell in Paris for us. Thank you.

President Biden says that he did not know government records from his time as vice president, including classified documents, had been taken to his private office. The documents were found at the offices being closed down. They were handed over the national archives the next day.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: People know I take classified documents, classified information seriously. I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any document records that were taken there to that office, but I do not know what is in the documents, my lawyers have not suggested that I ask what documents they were. I have turned over the boxes, they've turned over the boxes to the archives, and we are cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review and which I hope will be finished soon.


ROMANS: More now from CNN's Phil Mattingly at the White House


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden, on the world stage, but grappling with a serious problem back home. The high stakes leader summit in Mexico overshadowed by broad questions about Biden's handling of classified documents. Ten classified documents discovered in November, among boxes in a personal office no longer in use. Among the documents, a source tells CNN, intelligence memos and briefing materials that cover topics including Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom.

BIDEN: We want this to be a gathering place.

MATTINGLY: Uncovered by a Biden personal attorney at his office in the University of Pennsylvania, Biden Center, in Washington, D.C. The White House, in a detailed Monday night statement, saying, the White House counsel was immediately notified.

The National Archives recovered the materials, quote, the following morning. The Justice Department also notified, triggering a review from U.S. attorney, John Lausch. The initial part of that inquiry, a source says, has been completed and submitted to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, with unmistakable echoes of the case tied to Biden's predecessor.

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear, or favor.

MATTINGLY: Donald Trump's failure to turn over classified documents, leading to an unprecedented FBI raid last year, underscoring the sharp and consequential differences between the two scenarios, as Trump held on to hundreds of classified documents, didn't turn them over when asked, then only turned some of those documents over before more were found.

All as he continues to attack the ongoing criminal investigation, actions that drew this response from Biden in September.

BIDEN: How that could possibly happen, how anyone could be that irresponsible.

MATTINGLY: Biden now facing his own sharp criticism from Republicans.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): When you're living in a glass house, don't be throwing stones, right?

MATTINGLY: The Intelligence Committee chairman writing to the director of national intelligence for, quote, an immediate review and damage assessment, as questions grow about why the information didn't become public for more than two months.

BACON: They knew about it before the election, didn't say a darn thing until after the election.

MATTINGLY: All as Democrats start to relax support in the face of an expanding political problem.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): The president is handling this the way that he should. He's disclosing it, he's letting the archives know, law enforcement is aware.


MATTINGLY (on camera): After more than a day of not answering any questions related to what happened back in Washington D.C., the president did address those ten classified documents saying they were surprised when he was briefed by his lawyers about their existence. He still does not know what documents actually are or they actually got there, but he did make clear that he and his White House are determined to cooperate fully, they hope that the inquiry that is underway by the Justice Department will be over soon, at that point they will be able to share more details.

The president making clear that when it comes to classified information, he takes very seriously. Obviously, in this case, a lap and one that does not seem to have a lot of information about, as this continues to play out.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.

ROMANS: All right. Phil, thank you for that.

President Biden's handling of those documents is another item on Republicans growing list of investigations in the administration.


The new GOP majority in the House is planning a new select committee to investigate the FBI and the Department of Justice. Republicans want to investigate what they want to call the weaponization of the federal government against conservatives. The proposed committee is one of the key concessions that Kevin McCarthy made too hard right House members to win the speaker's gavel.

The Biden administration outlining a new plan to address the border crisis. He is providing measures to cut down the number of crossing in the southern border and make entering the U.S. illegally easier. Biden says that critics who say the immigration policies are too soft or too harsh, they are both wrong. He spoke before leaving the summit in Mexico City.


BIDEN: This has been the greatest migration in human history. We are trying to make it easier for people to get here, opening up the capacity to get here, but not have them go through that god awful process.


ROMANS: The president also said the U.S. will have work to prove conditions of the nations that the migrants are coming from, is they don't feel left leave in the first place.

Investigators finding potential evidence more and more disturbing in their search for a Massachusetts mom. Ana Walshe has not been seen since new year's day and her husband has been arrested for misleading police.

CNN's Jason Carroll has the latest.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, investigators processing potential evidence collected after hours of searching through garbage late into the night at this trash transfer station north of Boston. Law enforcement sources told CNN materials found included a hacksaw, torn up cloth, material and what appears to be bloodstains.

The Norfolk district Attorney not commenting on the specifics of what was found, only to say the search resulted in a number of items which will now be subject to processing and testing to determine if they are of evidentiary value.

Sources also tell CNN investigators found disturbing searches on Brian Walshe's Internet records as they looked into the disappearance of his wife, which included how to dispose of a 115-pound woman's body and how to dismember a body.

Walshe is being held on a charge of misleading investigators. He pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors describe chilling details during his arraignment of what they say investigators found at the family home in Cohasset.

LYNN BELAND, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NORFOLK MA: And during that time, they found blood in the basement. Blood was found in the basement area as well as a knife, which also contained some blood.

CARROLL: Walshe's attorney not commenting on the case, her office telling CNN she wants to focus on Walshe's defense. During his arraignment, she said her client is cooperating with investigators.

TRACY MINER, BRIAN WALSHE'S ATTORNEY: Mr. Walshe has given several interviews. We have consented to searches of his home. We have consented to searches of his property. CARROLL: Brian Walshe told police he last saw his wife New Year's

Day. A friend of the couple says the last time he saw them, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

GEM MUTLU, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: We hugged and celebrated and toasted and just what you do over New Year's.

CARROLL: The 39-year-old mother of three wasn't reported missing until January 4th, when her workplace said she didn't show up. Investigators discovered her husband made purchases at a Home Depot on January 2nd.

BELAND: He's on surveillance at that time, purchasing about $450 worth of cleaning supplies that would include mops, bucket, tops, TVX drop cloths.

CARROLL: Ana Walshe's friends say they now fear the worst.

ALISSA KIRBY, FRIEND OF ANA WALSHE: She would not, by her own choice, go a date without speaking to her husband or children. That's very out of character.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, Cohasset, Massachusetts.


ROMANS: All right. The Pentagon says Ukrainian troops will start training on how to use the Patriot missile system as soon as next week. That learning will happen will happen in the U.S., at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and could take several months. The U.S. announced last month that it would send a single patriot system to Ukraine.

CNN's Scott McLean is in Kyiv for us this morning.

Scott, how important will the system before Ukraine to defend itself against all of these Russian attacks?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Morning Christine, it is not a silver bullet, but it certainly will make a very big difference.

The bulk of the fighting is happening right now 300 miles east of, here but because of these Russian missile strikes the entire country has been turned into a war zone. The current system is shooting down a significant chunk of the incoming, but it is not everything and not even in central Kyiv, there is a hotel not far from here that has an entire section of the completely destroyed from the Russian missile which came down on New Year's Eve.

The Patriots system could help to protect big cities, could help to protect critical infrastructure, because right now the energy system, especially as the temperatures been dropping, has been taking a beating. Power cuts, emergency power cuts are now part of the everyday life here. Although as you mentioned, the training on the system takes a long time and so it may not arrive in time for the end of winter.


I should also mention that all eyes right now are on the very strategic town called Soledar in eastern Ukraine, near Bakhmut. That is where the Russians have mobilized a huge number of troops and huge volumes of weapons and they have launched a powerful offensive to try to capture that city. The head of a Wagner mercenary group of claim that they have captured it, although you just learned from the Kremlin not long ago, tempering that decision, saying that things are moving in a positive direction.

We also spoke to a Ukrainian soldier on the front lines in Soledar yesterday who said that there is a huge gray zone in town right now that both sides are claiming. He also said that there is been so many casualties, there are no longer counting the dead anymore. He predicted that the Ukrainians would have to pull back, would have to withdraw at some point. He just wonders why that order to move back has not come already, in order to save the lives of his fellow troops -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Scott McLean for us in Kyiv, thank you so much.

Still to come -- CNN on the ground as Ukrainian forces take aim at a Russian target.

Plus, could gas stove be banned in America? What one agency now says about that.

And blame in Brazil, did some police officers let rioters run wild?



ROMANS: President Biden says that he was surprised to learn that some classified documents from one whose rice president were taken to his private office in Washington, where they were found this last fall. Ten a.m. am or marked classified, including briefing memos on Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom.

Attorney General Merrick garland has already received a preliminary report from the U.S. attorney in Chicago he appointed to investigate.

Let's bring in Shawn Turner, CNN national security analyst and former director of communication at the U.S. Office of National Intelligence.

Good morning, so nice to see you this morning. I want you to listen to what the former vice president, Mike Pence, says on CBS News last night.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: When the American people see President Biden receiving one form of treatment with the discovery of classified documents that were retained after he left the office of the price president, and they see President Trump treated in an entirely different way, again the handling of classified materials is a very serious issue for our nation and we ought to take it seriously. But there ought to be equal treatment under the law.


ROMANS: So, Sean, are Biden and Trump being treated differently?

SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hi, Christine. Good morning, thank you for having me.

It is important first note that, like cases should be treated the same. The former vice president is leaving out of his remarks is that there are notable differences in these cases and at this point, it does not appear as though the current president and former president are being treated differently.

What we have this case is a situation in which it is not unusual for people to inadvertently take a classified documents from secure facility, if there is someone who is held a security college for a long time. That kind of honest mistake does occasionally happen. But what matters is that one that happens, what people do and how they do it to make sure it is right.

In this case, you have a situation where the president, the current president's personal lawyers immediately contacted the national archives to let them know there was this information. They're the case with president Trump is very different because as we all know by now there was a long period of time in which the national archives was trying to recover documents and that they started on May of 2021 and it was not until August 2022 when the federal agents had to trade Mar- a-Lago to recover them back.

So there are notable differences in these case. It is not diminish the significance of taking classified documents, but what matters is the intent and whether or not the right thing was done and those documents were taken.

ROMANS: So the president says that he does not know, Sean, what is in this material. A source telling us that, in some of these boxes were condolence letters for his son after his funeral, funeral range means for his son, among other things. The president does not know what was in this material, why is that important?

TUIRNER: Well, it really gets to the intent. If the president does not know what is in these documents and if the president was not aware that these documents have been taken, again it does not diminish the seriousness of this, but what it does mean is that this is a case of inadvertent removal of classified documents and those documents should've been turned over to the National Archives. Merrick Garland has all of the information, he has got to look at that and make it determination of whether or not it is appropriate run investigation here.

But there are a couple of things that are really important. One is that we are talking about the documents that are somewhere between seven and ten years old, and so whenever there are documents taken from the secure, facility there is always a threat or potential threat to national security. These documents are much older, so the potential threat is diminished and in this case.

The other issue here is that when we look at the content of these documents, that matters. I've said the same thing with regards to the documents from President Trump's office. The content matters. So, what we know so far about the content is that it would suggest that they are not on the level of seriousness that wouldn't threaten our national security, but we have more information just fully understand that, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Shawn Turner, CNN national security analyst, thanks for walking us through. Nice to see you this morning.

TURNER: Thanks, good to see you.

ROMANS: All right. Quick hits across America right now.

Illinois lawmakers have banned assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The governor referred to last year's Highland Park massacre as the signed the bill last night.


Sarah Huckabee Sanders, once President Trump's White House press secretary, is now first female governor of Arkansas. She takes the seat once held by her father, Mike Huckabee.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a ban on gas stove, the agency says pollutants from them have been linked to childhood asthma.

Coming up, democracy on his last legs in lady, the only remaining elected officials just left office there. And CNN on the frontlines in Ukraine, with an artillery event.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a system but used both by the Russians and Ukrainians.