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Federal Judge Says Biden Can't Yet End Trump Era "Remain In Mexico" Immigration Policy; WH: Russia Will Not "Dictate The Security Assistance That We Provide To Ukraine"; Departing GOP Congressman Blasts Trump & Both Parties In Farewell. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 15, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: In the Breaking News, this evening that a federal judge has put a pause, on President Biden's attempt, to end the former President's "Remain in Mexico" policy, which sent many non- Mexican asylum-seekers, back to Mexico, to await their proceedings, which can take years.

Comes as a separate issue, threatening to overwhelm authorities, at the U.S. southern border, the possible end of a COVID-era border restriction, known as "Title 42," next week, something also invoked by the former President, has already sent a surge of migrants, into places, like El Paso, Texas, and threatens to send even more, should it end, as expected, next Wednesday.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Texas, tonight, with more, filed this report, just before the news broke.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For nearly three months, Jason Birguez and, his wife, Zuelema (ph), have waited, for this moment, taking the final steps, across the Rio Grande, into the United States.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you think reaching this point was going to be so emotional?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): He says they never thought the journey from Venezuela would be so painful.



LAVANDERA (on camera): (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). LAVANDERA (voice-over): I tell her I can see the emotion in her face, and the sense of relief that she's entering the United States, with her two sons. With that, they step across the river.

The family says they could not wait any longer to see what might happen, with the lifting of the Title 42 public health rule, which has kept 2.5 million migrants, from requesting asylum, in the United States.

Jason and Zuelema (ph) are now part of the current surge of migrants, entering El Paso. Officials say about 2,500 people per day are crossing. The migrants spend the night, in a long orderly line, in the shadow of the barbed wire-covered border wall. Here, they wait to be called in, by Border Patrol agents. They are then escorted to a processing facility to find out if they'll be deported or allowed to stay in the U.S., as their immigration case moves through the courts.

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER, EL PASO, TEXAS: It's a band aid to a really a bigger problem.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): El Paso's Mayor says if Title 42 is lifted next week, the number of migrants crossing into the city, could jump to 5,000 per day. Already, shelters are out of space, and immigration processing facilities are overcapacity. Despite this, the Mayor says, he doesn't see a need, to declare the situation, a state of emergency.

LEESER: I can tell you, the only thing that I am 100 percent sure today that we will be prepared on December 21, that if it is lifted, the community and the City of El Paso will be prepared.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): At the river, hundreds are still waiting, to get into the U.S., and the lines show no signs of slowing down. Before they crossed, Jason and Zuelema (ph) said they will wait, in the frigid cold, as long as it takes, to get past the wall.

I asked them what they will think, if that happens.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And we're going to thank God, and it's going to be a new life for us.


COOPER: And CNN's Ed Lavandera joins us now, from El Paso.

Can you just say explain, Title 42 and the, "Remain in Mexico" policy? What is the difference between them?


LAVANDERA: Well, the "Remain in Mexico" policy was technically called the Migrant Protection Protocol that essentially allowed the U.S. government, to expel migrants, coming from countries, other than Mexico, and forced them to wait just on the other side of the border. It was highly controversial, because you're essentially sending migrants, to sit in very dangerous border cities, on the Mexican side.

Title 42 is actually not an immigration policy. It's a public health policy that was used, during the pandemic era, to keep migrants, from entering the United States.

So, both of them, highly controversial, and obviously have been tied up, in the courts, for years.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, appreciate it.

New York City officials are among those struggling to process the thousands of asylum-seekers, who have arrived. 31,000, in New York City, according to the latest count, about two-thirds of whom remain in the City, and need permanent housing, legal services, winter clothes.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has more.




JIMENEZ (voice-over): From Venezuela, to Colombia, Central America, Mexico, and then by bus, from Texas, eventually to New York City, in July, Dailin Rojas says she was frightened, nearly every step of the month-long journey.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): "The first fear is the jungle," she says, navigating threats of possible violence, disease and more, alongside her husband, and son. In the middle of it all, the three of them found out she was carrying a fourth. She was pregnant. By the time she had gotten to New York, the harsh conditions of her travel had taken a toll.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): "I got sick, because I came with a urinary infection, from the trip over," she says, was hospitalized because of the baby, the beginnings of a potential abortion. But, in November, her daughter was born, symbolizing the future she came here for, in the first place.

Her journey mirrors the more than 30,000 asylum-seekers that have landed in New York City, since the spring, some, on their own volition. Some sent on a bus, from Texas, to make a political point.

As of this week, more than 20,000 migrants, remain, in the City's care. And it's part of why Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency, in October, estimating the City will spend roughly a billion dollars, on the influx of migrants. MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: We need help. This is some serious money that we're spending because we're doing the right thing.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Mayor Adams says he plans to ask for more money, from FEMA, ahead of the expected lifting of Title 42. But as the weather gets colder, the reality for care and the incoming migrants is changing.

ILZE THIELMANN, TEAM TLC NYC: We see people arriving in T-shirts, and still, sometimes, even in flip-flops. And they don't have proper winter clothes. We have specific people - little kids with - babies showing up, wrapped in a blanket, with a diaper on, and no winter clothing. So, that is a huge challenge.

ROBERT GONZALEZ, VP, VENEZUELAN ALLIANCE FOR COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Well, so they've been coming from a tropical country--

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Robert Gonzalez works with the New York-based group, Venezuelan Alliance for Community Support, working to help connect migrants, with resources, like social service, mental health, and more. He knows, while the journey here is difficult, an equally difficult one lies ahead.

GONZALEZ: To find a job, to learn the language, to ability to know - to understand and to integrate, to a new system, and a new culture. They want to be able to grow up, you know?

JIMENEZ (on camera): Yes.

GONZALEZ: Like other people coming to the United States, looking for that.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Rojas' husband is now working. But since they got here, in July, a baby later, they've been in shelters, still in one now, trying to endure.

I asked her, what she wants for her future here.



JIMENEZ (voice-over): "We're waiting for the year to end to put in citizenship papers, to become legal," she says, "to get work. We're taking English courses. We're in this process to try and bring our family, the kids that stayed to build a future here."


COOPER: And Omar Jimenez joins us now.

I mean, the system is so broken that it takes so long, for their hearings, to actually occur. I mean, it can be, they have to apply within a year. But I mean it can be three years to five years, before it's actually adjudicated. And even if all that time, they're not allowed to work.

JIMENEZ: Well, you can imagine how hard it is to plan, knowing that the, stakes are this could get ripped away, from you, at any moment.

So, she, as we mentioned, her husband has found a job, as a construction worker. But she's also been trying to find work, but is now dealing with two kids, at home or a shelter. Both of them say they plan to file for asylum, in the New Year, which they can do as long, as they do it within a year of being here.

But she really says her goal, at this point, is to try and find what her future school is going to be, for her 3-year-olds. Also, she had to leave her oldest kid, back in Venezuela. So, she's trying to establish a base here to maybe get him here, one day.

Now, separate from that on the buses that have been sent, from Texas, to Washington, D.C., Chicago, and here in New York, one official briefed on New York's response, has told CNN that the pace of buses has slowed. But there's still a huge demand, for legal services, of course, on winter clothes to get to some of these migrants who might not be used to this weather. But also, these are all demands that can get that much more intense, with the expected lifting of Title 42, next week.

COOPER: Yes. Omar Jimenez, appreciate it.

Joined now by Democratic congressman, Henry Cuellar, whose Texas district lies on the border with Mexico.


Congressman, I appreciate you being with us. First of all, your reaction to the federal judge delaying the end of the so-called "Remain in Mexico" program, even as Title 42 is still set to be lifted, next week?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Well I do agree with the Stay in Mexico, the protocol. But I think we need to do more, to protect those individuals, who stay there. You can always think outside the box, and bring the U.N. Refugee Commission that can come in, and give them protection, if they need that protection.

But the question is this. Why can we not have people do asylum, in a orderly process? And I'm hoping that the Administration will come up, with rules that they've been talking about. Don't know what they're going to do. I don't know if they have the fortitude to do the right thing, with all due respect.

But what we want to see is people, if they want to apply for asylum, do it in an orderly process, and not just come across a river, and go through ports of entry, or in some other conflict.

COOPER: What would that look like? Because, I mean, that makes sense, obviously, on paper. I mean, the system that exists is insane. I mean, that people can just cross over, say they want asylum, and it takes years, before a judge actually rules on that. I mean, that makes no sense whatsoever. Obviously, what is the solution there?

CUELLAR: Well, I mean, look, the bottom line, some decisions have to be made, some of them are going to be a little uncomfortable. But the Administration needs to make those decisions. That is, if they have to return some people, and say, "Go back and follow the right way to do this, and then go through a port of entry," then go ahead and do that.

The problem is that the signals have been sent off. And what we're seeing, all they have to do is look at the images that they're seeing on CNN, right now, down in South America, and other places, and they know the border's open. They are returning people, under Title 42. But you don't see any strong images of people going back.

If you recall, in 2014, Secretary Jeh Johnson, under President Obama, did the right thing. He treated people with respect, dignity and compassion. But, at the end of the day, he showed images of people being returned.

Because, right now, we don't see any images of people going back. We just see the images are playing on your screen, right now, of people coming in. So, it opens up the pipeline for more people to come.

I was briefed, just yesterday that there's about 50,000 people or so, waiting for Title 42, to go away. And if it goes away, next week should be very chaotic. And it's already chaotic, with all due respect.

COOPER: But I mean, unless Congress does something? I mean, obviously, there's immediate things, regarding both these policies. But unless Congress does something legislatively, there's no end in sight to this.

CUELLAR: Well, keep in mind, 2014, Jeh Johnson had the same laws, on the - the same laws that we have in the books, right now. And he was able to do things. And I agree. I mean, Congress should pass the DREAM Act, a worker's comp - I mean, a worker's plan. We should have all that full immigration reform. I agree with you 100 percent.

But keep in mind that the Obama administration used the same things that we have, right now, without even Title 42. And they were able to control it, when we had the large surge.

I mean, we've seen surges before, but they've been in cycles. This is a little different, because this surge has been at a high level, and it hasn't stopped, and it seems like it's going to continue to grow.

COOPER: Yes. Congressman Cuellar, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

CUELLAR: Thank you.

COOPER: Still to come, the White House pushes back on Russian threats, after reports the U.S. may soon deliver its Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine. We also have a report from Ukraine, on the fighting, there.

And later, an on-the-ground report from Louisiana, on the tornadoes that ripped through the state, killing three, including a child.



COOPER: A forceful condemnation of Russia, from the White House, today, saying Russia will not quote, "Dictate the security assistance that we provide to Ukraine." The comments, or our response, to Russian threats, leave (ph) the United States, after CNN and other outlets reported that the U.S. is finalizing plans, to send the Patriot missile defense system, to Ukraine.

Today, a top Ukrainian military official said that Russia has launched 41 missile attacks, plus 32 drone attacks, in just the last week.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent, Will Ripley, is in Ukraine, tonight, with more.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, even before an official White House announcement, on Patriot missile defense systems, coming to Ukraine, the Russians, whether it be the embassy, in D.C., or the Kremlin, are already quickly responding, saying - the embassy saying that there would be unpredictable consequences, if the Patriots were to arrive, on the ground, in Ukraine; the Kremlin saying that they would become legitimate targets, although it's unknown, whether they'd actually be able to find them or hit them.

What the Ukrainians have been saying, for months, or even years, now is that they need these weapons systems, as of late, to defend against the constant Russian bombardment, of the civilian power infrastructure, that is designed to inflict suffering, on millions of people, across Ukraine, who are living in the dark and the cold, right now.

Certainly, that is the situation, for those, who remain in Kherson, on the frontline, to the south. That city which was occupied by the Russians is now a target of constant onslaught of shelling that has not only killed people, and destroyed much of an administrative building, but has also disconnected that city, from its power grid.

Now, in Donetsk, to the east, there's also been very fierce fighting, the Russians trying to take back the City of Bakhmut, and the Ukrainians firing dozens of rockets, at Russian-held territory. The Russians describe it as the worst attack, on Donetsk, since 2014, some eight years.


Now, CNN can't independently verify all the claims of Russian-backed authorities. But social media videos have emerged, showing buildings on fire. The Russians claim a cathedral was hit. They say both commercial and residential buildings were hit. There was even a major intersection that was set ablaze.

In The Economist, Ukrainian officials are signaling that they think the Russians could be preparing a major attack, on the capital, Kyiv, sometime early next year. Now, this comes with the caveat that the Russians and Ukrainians have both deliberately used information, for their advantage and, sometimes, misinformation, deliberately put out there, to try to throw off the other side.

But that said, the Head of Ukraine's Armed Forces said to The Economist that he believes Russia may be preparing some 200,000 fresh troops, and he said he had no doubt, they would try to make a move, on Kyiv, at some point.

Another reason why lots of training, and lots of preparation, is needed, by the Ukrainians, but they continue, at this moment, to just fight on the frontlines, hold the lines, and prepare for whatever may be coming down the road.


RIPLEY: Anderson?

COOPER: Will Ripley, appreciate it. Thank you.

Perspective now, from retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

General Hertling, you heard the report from Will. Why do you think the Russians are issuing these sorts of threats, over the Patriot systems, when they're intended to be used for defensive purposes?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), FORMER ARMY COMMANDING GENERAL, EUROPE AND SEVENTH ARMY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, because they don't want the Patriots, inside of Ukraine, anytime soon, Anderson. They know that would be a capability that would counter any long-range strike capability that the Russians have.

And what I'm talking about there is they have been launching multiple salvos, of missiles and rockets, from long-range bombers that are outside the area of operations. So, they know that these Patriot systems, not only have a greater altitude, to strike targets, in the air, but a longer range. They can not only hit incoming missiles, with different types of ammunition, but they can also hit these long-range bombers. So, it causes the Russians to go further out.

This is all part of the defensive capability of Ukraine, to continue to push the Russians back, so they don't continue to strike the citizens of the country.

COOPER: A spokesman, for the Pentagon, said today, quote, "We're not going to allow comments from Russia to dictate the security assistance that we provide to Ukraine."

Would you expect Pentagon, I mean, do you expect them, actually, to deploy Patriots given the - I mean, we've discussed this couple times now, just the cost--


COOPER: --of the systems itself, the cost of each individual Patriot missile, millions of dollars, to hit a drone that you said, can cost like $20,000?

HERTLING: Well, they won't be hitting the drones. So, to answer your question, first, Anderson, I'm sorry. Yes. Do I expect them to deploy some of them? Yes.

Do I expect them to be on the ground and operational within weeks? No, I do not. Because I know it takes - you're not going to have Americans, firing these systems, inside of Ukraine, or maintaining them, or repairing them. They have to teach the Ukrainian soldiers, to do this.

And as we've talked so many times before, this is a very complex system. But these kinds of missiles won't be used against these drones.


HERTLING: They'll be used against those longer-range and higher- altitude targets, which will allow Ukraine, to shift some of the other low-altitude mid-altitude air defense systems, against the drones, and the incoming rockets. So, it just gives something, a new type of ammunition that the Ukrainians can use, in their kitbag.

And when you ask, do I expect it to be anytime soon? Anderson, we're facing a situation, right now, in warfare. I'm going to simplify what Will just said. Warfare is made up of constant shifting, between offense and defense. Forces are either in the attack or the defense.

Russia's attempting to go back on the attack. They haven't been able to do it. They've been on the defense, for about two months, while they've been hitting Ukrainian civilians, with rockets. But they want to go back and regain territory for a variety of reasons.

Ukraine wants to continue with their offensive. But the offensive operation takes a lot more people, and a lot more logistics. So, it's going to be extremely difficult, for both of them, to transition, Ukraine, into more attacks, Russia, into attack, to gain more ground.


HERTLING: They're going to try and put the strain on their back feet by attacking in different directions.

COOPER: Interesting. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, appreciate it, always. Thank you.

Now to the Texas investigation, of the police response, to the mass shooting, at Robb Elementary School, earlier this year, 19 children, two teachers, murdered that day.

Tonight, our Shimon Prokupecz, who has been breaking news, on the investigations, to the failed police response, has new information, on the actions, of two top law enforcement officials, who were on the scene.

Shimon, what have you learned? SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right, Anderson. So, those two top law enforcement officials, certainly two people that we have been reported on, for quite some time now.


Most recently, the Uvalde Police Lieutenant, now former Police Lieutenant, Mariano Pargas, who was just the subject of one of our own investigations, into his actions that day, what we're learning is that investigators have become particularly troubled, by some of his actions, on the day, or inactions, on the day, of the shooting, and also Chief - the former School Police Chief, Pete Arredondo. Those two individuals seem to be the ones that at this point are raising a lot of concerns, for investigators, over their inactions.

Of course, Mariano Pargas, who we've reported on, is seen leaving the scene, leaving the area of the classroom. We also reported that he had information about a 911 call, from kids, trapped inside that classroom, and, according to investigators, failed to take any kind of leadership role.

And of course, the School Police Chief, who has been labeled the Commander, on scene, that day, and of course, scrutinized by many, in law enforcement, over his actions that day.

So, those two individuals are the ones that we're told, certainly, investigators have been troubled by.

We've also got a chance to speak to the man that's been running this investigation, who's been in charge of this investigation, Colonel Steve McCraw.

Take a listen to what he told us today about the investigation.


STEVEN MCCRAW, DPS DIRECTOR: And one thing is important. That is, is I know, which is people have talked about, "What investigation? It can't be a criminal investigation. The subject's dead."

PROKUPECZ: That's right.

MCCRAW: Well, she's looking at criminal culpability for law enforcement officers. And why should we not be judicious and, as thorough, investigating law enforcement officers, as we are with subjects that aren't in criminal investigation (ph)?

PROKUPECZ: And you think you've done that? Your Rangers, your investigators, you think have been doing that?

MCCRAW: Absolutely.

PROKUPECZ: And have done that?

MCCRAW: Absolutely. And we'll continue to do so. PROKUPECZ: And so, she's going to, the District Attorney will be receiving your information, within days or so. But like for all intents and purposes we're--

MCCRAW: Well--

PROKUPECZ: --besides some follow-ups that may come down the line, you believe it's basically--


PROKUPECZ: --the investigations, because--

MCCRAW: That's correct. That's correct.

PROKUPECZ: --as of now will be in her?

MCCRAW: Yes. And if she finds gaps, or things, additional things that need to be, we'll continue to do those particular things.


PROKUPECZ: So Anderson, the part, for the Texas Rangers, they have done. They are done with their investigation.

Now, it's going to be up to the District Attorney. As he said there, the question is, does she convene a grand jury, or does she ultimately decide the next steps, here? And that's really what everyone now here is waiting for, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Shimon Prokupecz, appreciate, as always, thank you.

Coming up, turmoil, among Republicans, in Congress, as Kevin McCarthy, fights to become the next House Speaker, just weeks from now. Plus, the warning, to both parties, from a Republican congressman, who is leaving. That's next.



COOPER: Scathing message, to Washington, tonight, from one of its own. Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger is leaving office, after not seeking reelection, serves on the January 6 Select Committee.

He tore into both parties, in his farewell speech, on the House floor. While singling out the former President, he also condemned Democrats, and his own party.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Instead of using our platform to advance the well-being of our nation, and our people, we've turned this institution into an echo chamber of lies.

While overseas, I witnessed the dangers that radicalization of beliefs can have, on people, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, since coming to Congress, I've watched how Republicans and Democrats have weaponized fear, in much the same way.

We all swore an oath, in this very chamber, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not a political party, and not a single man.

To my Democratic colleagues, you must too bear the burden of our failures. Many of you have asked me, "Where are all the good Republicans?" Over the past two years, Democratic leadership had the opportunity to stand above the fray. Instead, they poured millions of dollars, into the campaigns of MAGA Republicans.

If you keep stoking the fire, you can't point the fingers, when our great experiment goes up in flames.

Unfortunately, we now live in a world, where lies trump truth, where democracy is being challenged by authoritarianism.


COOPER: With us, is CNN Political Analyst and New York Times' Senior Political Correspondent, Maggie Haberman. Also, our Capitol Hill Reporter, Melanie Zanona.

Maggie, you heard what outgoing Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, said. But, I mean, he is the outlier, when you look at the Republican Caucus, in the House. Do you think the former President's hold is still solid there?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, AUTHOR, "CONFIDENCE MAN," SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it is stronger than it would seem, based on Trump's own political fortunes, right now, Anderson, which certainly are decelerating.

But I do think that Trumpism has a hold on these members, because Trump's political base is still what elects these members, in Republican primaries. And so, I think that Trump has control over certain districts, more than others. He is still a big factor, here. And I think that's what Kinzinger is battling against.

COOPER: And Melanie, what are the moderate House Republicans threatening to do?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, well, they're getting increasingly worried about the prospect for chaos, on January 3. You have this really small band of anti-McCarthy Republicans, threatening to take him down. And so, they're exploring some hardball tactics.

One of those options, sources tell me and, my colleague, Annie Grayer, is to kick those members off of their committees, as a form of retribution. For now, they've decided to table that idea.

But they are considering other options. That includes voting against a rules package, if it contains some of the most hardline demands that these critics are seeking, and also threatening to team up with Democrats, work across the aisle, to elect a Speaker, if the GOP can't decide.

And, it's unclear, if some of these things are going to work, or if moderates are actually willing to follow through. But it really just speaks to the tension, and frustration, right now, and the anxiety that's running inside the GOP, as McCarthy is struggling to lock down the votes, for Speaker.

COOPER: And, Maggie, I mean, it's said that former President Trump has been lobbying House Republicans, to support McCarthy, as the next Speaker. How aggressive has that been? How much political capital does he actually have on this?


HABERMAN: It's a great question, Anderson. My colleagues and I reported that, the other day that Trump has been making calls, essentially to whip, for McCarthy, with some of these holdouts.

Now, Trump tends to not expend a ton of capital, in a hard-sell, if he thinks he might lose. And, I think that he is aware that there is not a ton of reception, right now, to what he's selling on McCarthy.

I think these members still like Trump. But what he is pushing on McCarthy - with McCarthy is not really something they're responsive, to right now. I don't think he has a ton of capital, now that we are past the midterms. If this was happening three months ago? Maybe. But not right now.

COOPER: Maggie, I mean, how serious is the President's campaign, at this point? I mean, he isn't out campaigning. I mean, I know, look, it's early, I guess. But he's not out there doing stuff, other than playing golf and being in Mar-a-Lago. It seems like he's holed up there.

He announced a digital trading card he's selling for $99 a pop, today. That was his big and major announcement.

I mean, what is going on with that campaign?

HABERMAN: So, there are serious people, on that campaign, Anderson. I want to be clear about that. Susie Wiles, Chris LaCivita, Brian Jack, they are serious people. Tony Fabrizio, over at the super PAC, not with the campaign anymore, but he has been a serious Trump adviser, for a long time.

That doesn't mean Trump himself is going to behave seriously. We have seen that over the course of now almost eight years. And it continues. But his heart is just not in this, it seems, the way that it was previously. He does not seem, to your point, serious about what you have to do, for a campaign.

He teased this announcement, yesterday, a major announcement, which, I was getting calls from people, Anderson, saying, "Is this about his campaign? Is this about the Speaker's race? Is this about something significant, politically?" And it was about another sales job, for something that he can pocket personally, financially. So, he may get serious in January. I keep hearing they're planning a bunch of events, in January that will be lower-key than rallies, although there might be some rallies. But we're not there yet.

COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, Melanie Zanona, appreciate it. Thank you.

Up next, torrential rain, snow and ice in the northeast, and its recovery mode, after the same storm system spawned at least 50 tornadoes, across Louisiana, and the Southeast. What residents are facing there tonight, when we continue.



COOPER: That deadly storm system that triggered tornadoes, in the Southeast that we showed you, last night is expected to bring heavy snow, ice and rain, to tens of millions of people.

Heavy snowfall is predicted in parts of Pennsylvania, and New York, possibly as high as two feet, with ice and rain also, forecast for the Carolinas, up through New England. That's after dozens of tornadoes left a path of destruction, in Louisiana, where at least three people, including a child have died.

CNN Meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, has more, on the severe weather.


MAYOR BELINDA CAMBRE CONSTANT, GRETNA, LOUISIANA: It's about a mile and a half stretch that is completely just inundated with destruction. This is not the place, where we normally have tornadoes.

SIGMA LAWRENCE, GRETNA, LOUISIANA RESIDENT: We're only used to like, what, hurricanes, never a tornado, never a tornado.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): But it was a tornado that did this damage in Gretna, Louisiana, cutting a large swath across the city.

LAWRENCE: All you could hear like a freight train, and you hear things just stand up, glasses cracking everywhere. It was just horrible.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The home where Sigma Lawrence lived had just been repaired, after Hurricane Ida.

LAWRENCE: Then, this happened. It was the most devastating thing in my life. I had never experienced something like this before. And it happened so fast, and it just threw up everything in the neighborhood.

VAN DAM (voice-over): Hers, just one of the communities battered by an outbreak of more than 50 reported tornadoes, in the last 48 hours, across the Deep South, leaving deep scars, in Louisiana. Roofs ripped off, homes flattened, trees splintered, power poles ripped from the ground. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Several million dollars of damage that we're dealing with.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The outbreak blamed for at least three deaths.

GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): Quite frankly, I am amazed that we didn't have more loss of life in Louisiana than we had. I'm very thankful for it.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The damage from the storm system, spanning seven states, from Texas to Florida, as it marches eastward bringing heavy rain, and possible tornadoes, to the Sunshine State. Concern now growing up the eastern seaboard, as a developing nor'easter could bring over a foot of snow, to New England, and heavy rain, to New York, Boston and other cities.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): We'll be ready for this. New York is ready, as we always are. But we're ready - bring it on, Mother Nature, just keep at it.

VAN DAM (voice-over): While back down South, residents left to pick up the pieces, after this wicked start to winter.


COOPER: Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now, from Louisiana.

Any indication yet how powerful this tornado was?

VAN DAM: Yes, Anderson, the National Weather Service actually came to survey the tornado damage that you see directly, over my left shoulder. And they preliminarily called this an EF2 tornado. Get this, that's winds of up to 135 miles per hour. Now, that's equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

Anderson, you're familiar with Hurricane Katrina. So, are the residents of this area. It actually approached the Gulf Coast, as a Category 3 as well as well.

But, of course, the difference here, between a hurricane and a tornado is that a hurricane can cause damage over hundreds of miles. Whereas a tornado is bit of more of a localized experience, taking out houses, more city block by city block.

COOPER: And this is not the first tornado strike, in New Orleans area, this year?

VAN DAM: Yes. In fact, I was here in March of this year. So, we're talking roughly 10 months ago. My team and I were covering an EF3 tornado that literally had a similar path, to the tornado that caused the destruction, you see, behind me. They literally crossed paths in Arabi, which is just a couple of miles, from where I'm standing, right now.

So, people here are used to hurricanes. They prepare for hurricanes, in New Orleans. They're not used to tornadoes, necessarily. So, with this happening two times in less than a year, they're wondering, "Hey, is this our new normal now?"

COOPER: Yes. Derek Van Dam, really appreciate the coverage. Thanks so much.

Coming up, new details, in the investigation, into the murders of four University of Idaho students, and what one of the victims' moms had to say about the police response?



COOPER: It's been more than a month since four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death, in an off-campus home. Still tonight, no suspect in custody, no murder weapon has been found. There's been growing frustration, obviously, with investigators, over the lack of details being released.

Today, the mom of one of the victims spoke out about the day she found out her daughter, 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves was killed.


KRISTI GONCALVES, MOTHER OF VICTIM KAYLEE GONCALVES: Nothing (ph) you could do. Absolutely nothing. Just we're running around for hours, just not knowing what was going on, what happened, because we found out, by people calling us. And the Sheriff showed up about three hours later.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, JOURNALIST: When you saw the sheriff, did you know?

GONCALVES: Yes. And I had said that. I said, "It's not real until the Sheriff pulls up."


COOPER: Well Kaylee's mom had a lot more to say about the investigation.

CNN's Veronica Miracle has details.


GONCALVES: It's sleepless nights. It's feeling sick to your stomach.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kristi Goncalves, a mother in anguish. Her 21-year-old daughter, Kaylee, is one of four University of Idaho students, stabbed to death, in their off-campus home, more than a month ago.


Kristi is sharing her frustration, over what she says, is a lack of direct communication, with police. One example, when law enforcement reached out to the public, for information, on a white Hyundai, seen near the crime scene? MCLAUGHLIN: You found out about the white car from a press release?


MCLAUGHLIN: Did they send you the press release?


MIRACLE (voice-over): Moscow Police disagree, telling CNN, they sent the release to the Goncalves attorney, adding "Police have been trying to communicate with the Goncalveses."

The family and their attorney said they did meet with police, on Monday.


MIRACLE (voice-over): But they also want to hold authorities accountable for, what they say, is a lack of information.

GRAY: "Trust us" has really been the theme. "Trust us. We're making the right decision. Trust us." Well, you know, that only goes so far.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Throughout the investigation, Police have said they're making progress, and they're not releasing developments, to protect the investigation.

GRAY: The time will tell whether that was a wise decision, or not a wise decision. But I would be more concerned about catching the individual, than I would be about preserving the case.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Either way, a void of information has made it hard for the community to move forward. Some are still fearful.

Which is why, Christopher Schwartz started offering free self-defense classes, this past month, at his studio.

CHRISTOPHER SCHWARTZ, MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR: With the fears that people are having, it was only right to offer it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The demand for the classes, so overwhelming, all of the spots filled up within 32 hours.

And as students leave town, for winter break, Police remain hopeful that potential witnesses come forward.

ROBBIE JOHNSON, MOSCOW POLICE PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: I think people all over America and, students, here, at the college, the university, they'll still be thinking about this, and able to provide information, if they still have it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Something a grieving mother holds on to.

MCLAUGHLIN: Are you confident the police are going to solve this crime?

GONCALVES: I have to be.


COOPER: Veronica Miracle joins me now.

Veronica, what's the latest, from investigators, on the search for this car that they think is related to the case?

MIRACLE: Well, Anderson, Police say there are 22,000 registered white Hyundai Elantras, in the area that match the specific description of exactly what they are looking for.

That is a lot of information to go through. They say they are parsing through all of that data. They say that tips and leads have led them to discover patterns. And it's through those patterns that they found that car.

They believe that whoever was inside that car has significant information that can be valuable to this case. So, they want to speak to them. And they're asking for more information about whoever was in that car, or possibly surveillance video, related to that car.

It is really the most significant clue that we have received, as the public, through the Police, through this investigation, over the last month. And I think that's why you hear such frustration from the Goncalves family, because outside of this, there has been such little information. But, of course, police continuing to reiterate, they're keeping things tight, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation.


MIRACLE: Anderson?

COOPER: Veronica Miracle, appreciate the update. Thank you.

Up next, can the Republican Party win in 2024, without the former President? The GOP governor, who just won a fourth term, Chris Sununu, opens up to CNN about that, and another Republican getting a lot of attention.



COOPER: Tomorrow night, CNN brings you extraordinary access, to a rising Republican star. New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu, is offering candid assessments, about some of the biggest names, in his party, as it searches for a way to win back the White House, in 2024.

Our Dana Bash, who is going to bring the in-depth interview, to you, tomorrow night, she joins me now with a preview.

It's really fascinating. Governor Sununu talked to you about a very serious health scare that he recently had. DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: Yes. And it's not something that you would expect from somebody as young as he is. He just turned 48. But he almost died. And we talked about that in the context of how it changed his perspective on things.

Take a listen.


GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): I thought I had COVID. And I was just exhausted all day for about a week. And then I thought, "Yes, the holiday weekend of Labor Day of 2021 is coming up. I better go and just get checked out." And sure enough, I've been bleeding, inside, all week. I had an all-bleeding ulcer.

I only had about a third of my blood levels, the way they should be. And they had to start the transfusions, immediately. And, again, I thought I had the flu or COVID. The next thing I know, I got four transfusions, over a period of 24 hours. They saved me. It was great. But it was--

BASH: Saved you, like?

SUNUNU: Yes. Well, if - they said, "Ultimately, you probably just would have fallen asleep and not woken up. And you would have never known," because I was bleeding out, essentially. So, it was kind of scary, because, I'm 47. I like to consider myself like 26. But I am 47.

BASH: But 47 is--

SUNUNU: I'm getting a little bit--

BASH: --is young, to have a health scare like that!

SUNUNU: It is. It is. And so, you got to manage your stress. Everybody does, right?

BASH: I was just going to say, you know what ulcers tend to be from, right?

SUNUNU: Yes, I know, I know. Look, it's a stressful job. And we had just come through the COVID pandemic.

BASH: Yes.

SUNUNU: And I think we did great. It was 24/7.

BASH: So, it affected you physically?



BASH: Yes. And Anderson, he says that he has changed the way he eats. He says he doesn't eat as much red meat. That's what the doctors told him to do.

He aspires to have the Tom Brady diet. And I don't know if you know, it's a very, very limited diet. He says it's an aspiration. But when he is sitting at home, at 10:30 at night, eating cookie dough, he realizes, it's probably not what Tom Brady does!

COOPER: Yes, I know. I have that probably (ph) too.

What did the Governor tell you about his vision for the future of the Republican Party, and the former President's place in it?

BASH: Well, this is a big reason why we wanted to spend time, with him, because he is a relatively young Republican governor, in a purple state, a very important first-in-the-nation primary state, at least as of now. And it is a party at a crossroads.

And he has a very specific vision for, going forward. Number one is, enough with the extremism, and the election denialism. But he said something that seemed so obvious, but it was remarkable to hear a politician. Anderson, he said, "You know what? Just be normal. Just try to be a normal person. And it's amazing how much you can connect with people."

He's a conservative, fiscally. He is more liberal, on social issues. But to hear him talk about that, and talk about the fact that he really wants to try to fix the Republican Party, which he admits is broken, is really interesting, given where it is, right now.

COOPER: Yes. I think a lot of people just want normalcy.

Dana Bash, appreciate it, thank you.

BASH: Yes.

COOPER: You can catch the premiere of "BEING CHRIS SUNUNU," tomorrow night, 10 PM Eastern, right here, after 360, on CNN.

News continues for now. A "CNN TONIGHT" Special, "ROYAL REVELATIONS" with Alisyn Camerota, starts now.