Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

North Korea Launches Intercontinental Ballistic Missile; Twitter Shuts Offices After Musk Ultimatum Sparks Mass Exodus; "Michelle Obama' Mission: Empowering Girls" Airs Sunday At 8:00 P.M. ET/PT. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: North Korea added again, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters overnight. This one raising alarm among world leaders because Japan says this long-range missile has the range to strike the entire mainland of the United States. Oren Liebermann is live at the Pentagon for us at this hour. Oren, North Korea has carried out tests for 34 days this year. Tell us more about why officials are so concerned about this one.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: This one is concerning because of the range. Although the way North Korea fired, it essentially went very high reaching about 4000 miles in the sky according to the Japanese, and landing in their exclusive economic zone. If you stretch out that trajectory, according to Japan's foreign ministry, it could theoretically have struck the U.S. mainland and that's why this particular launch, the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile is so concerning. It indicates that North Korea is pressing forward and learning as they move forward with their ballistic missile tests. And we've seen this so many times this year. They have tested ICBMs in the past in March as well as in previous years, but that doesn't mean it's any less concerning. Vice president Kamala Harris convening an emergency meeting with U.S. allies in the region, and she was blunt. Here she is.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This conduct by North Korea most recently is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security resolutions. It destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily raises tensions.


LIEBERMANN: In response, the U.S. carrying out exercises both with South Korea and one set to take place with Japan as well, showing the U.S. will not be deterred because of these ongoing missile launches, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Oren, thank you so much for that. [11:35:01]

So, WNBA star Brittney Griner. She is now at a penal colony in western Russia and set to begin serving out her nine-year prison sentence on drug charges. Yet, publicly and privately, the Biden administration still says and insists that it is fighting to get her home. Kylie Atwood is at the State Department for us and joins us now. Kylie, what are you hearing there about the fact that she has now been transferred to the penal colony, and what that really mean?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Kate, the expectation was that she was going to go to a penal colony. But what we really don't know is what the conditions at that colony are like because across Russia, penal colonies vary and how they treat their prisoners. But there are reports of extremely harsh treatment of prisoners in these penal colonies. According to a State Department report on human rights in Russia, there are some who are abused, abused to the point where they actually commit suicide or die when they're in these penal colonies. There's harsh labor. They're put into solitary confinement. So, those are the concerning factors to consider when we consider the fact that Griner has now been transferred to this penal colony.

Now, according to her lawyers who were able to visit her earlier this week, she's trying to stay strong as she adapts to this new environment. But we should note that Russia had never officially told the United States that they were actually transferring her. State Department spokesperson is saying that they strongly protest that. They want to hear from the Russian government.

Now, on the flip side of the coin, there's another American, Paul Whelan, who's also detained in Russia, and he was actually able to receive a visit from diplomats at the embassy in Moscow -- consular diplomats earlier this week. That was the first time that they visited him since June. So, of course, that's a positive development. But we're all waiting to see if the wheels really start turning on any prisoner swap to get both of these Americans home, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Kylie, thank you for the update. I appreciate it.

So, there are brutal days ahead in Ukraine as temperatures are plummeting, and the nation's power grid is being pushed to the limit. President Zelenskyy says that now 10 million Ukrainians are without power after that barrage of Russian missile attacks we've been tracking all of this week. Nic Robertson is live in Kyiv for us with the very latest. Nic, what has this week of Russian missile attacks really meant for Ukrainians?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's meant more people in the dark for longer, more people without water, more people without heating, more people even without communications in the big eastern city of Kharkiv. They had their communications cut that only got restored late yesterday. It's happening in other cities as well.

The prime minister today said that half of the country's energy supply system is now disabled -- disrupted. In some of the more remote cities in the east of the country, particularly those close to the frontlines, people are quite literally lining up in hours in the cold to get free bread handouts. They get two loaves of bread for the whole week. They're hunkering down in their basements. They might have one electrical heater in there to keep them warm.

But the reality is when the power goes off, and I spoke to an old lady who told me that she'd survived World War Two, in fact, was born into World War Two. She said, you know, when the electricity goes off, this small heater that's heating several dozen people down. When the electricity goes off, they just put another coat on, put a blanket around them, and go to bed. And she said to me -- and this was really a super sad moment. She said, look, I was born into war and a fear I'm going to die into -- in war.

And the mayor of that city said to me, yes, I'm really worried. People -- old people, pensioners, and there are many of them there in that particular city all at -- all other places across the country, too. They don't have the ability to withstand what's coming. They really are going to suffer this winter. And that -- and that's where the situation is right now.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and it is not going to be short, that is for sure, after everything they have already endured and survived. Nick, thank you for being there.

So, Twitter is in a tailspin with hundreds of employees quitting and Twitter users left just confused. Are we watching the demise of this platform? That is next.



BOLDUAN: It is absolute chaos now unfolding at Twitter. The social media giant is shuttering its offices today after CEO Elon Musk gave that ultimatum that sparked a mass exodus of employees quitting. Senior media reporter Oliver Darcy has some new reporting on this. He's joining me now. It's good to see you, Oliver. You've been talking to current and now former employees of the company, what are they saying about what's going on?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, Kate, it seems that Twitter is really in an ever-quickening death spiral. That's the short answer of it. And last night, you could see this reflected on Twitter or else, where Rip Twitter was the top trend worldwide. I think it's still at the top of the trends this morning. And that's because there's been this mass exodus of Twitter employees.

Basically, Elon Musk gave them that ultimatum to work hardcore or leave the company, and scores of employees -- hundreds of employees appear to have left the company. This, of course, comes after layoffs -- mass layoffs a couple of weeks ago, which has, in short, left Twitter depleted of staff. Staff that will just run the day-to-day functions keep key systems online. I was talking to a former Twitter executive last night, someone who recently departed the company, and that person explained to me they're going to have a hard time just keeping the lights on over at Twitter, given this mass exodus that has really come because of Elon Musk's own doing.


BOLDUAN: But -- so, what kind of implications are there if this where -- is the end, or was the end of Twitter?

DARCY: Yes, that's a good question because Twitter really is this global digital town square. I mean, you think about it. World leaders use it to communicate with dissidents in other countries, oppressive countries use it to organize, journalists use it to news gather, celebrities and major brands make announcements on there. It's so much more than just a social media website. And so, if it does come to an end or if it just becomes unusable because key systems go offline and make it difficult to rely on, I mean, that will be a major disruption to the flow of information and how we communicate globally, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And in the interim, are there security concerns now, given Twitter's instability, I mean the fact that people are not manning the ship?

DARCY: Yes. I think there might be. I mean it's hard to say because we just really don't have a good picture of what's going on inside Twitter, given the mass disarray and chaos. But anytime, a company like Twitter goes through such mayhem, you know, it does raise security vulnerabilities. And you have, for instance, a war playing out in Europe. And you have big accounts, influential and powerful accounts, like the President of the United States, like the Pentagon, the State Department on Twitter. And so, I think it does raise the question of are these government accounts -- are these world leaders going to continue to trust that Twitter is safe and secure for them to remain on these platforms -- or on this platform.

BOLDUAN: Yes. I mean -- absolutely. I mean, just honestly, what is next? Like what does the next 24 hours look like? It seems to be more unclear than ever. It's good to see you, Oliver. Thank you so much.

DARCY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So, a dramatic reversal with just 48 hours ago before the First World Cup match, FIFA now says that there will be no alcohol sales at World Cup stadiums in Qatar. The Muslim country had announced back in September that it would allow liquor sales before and after the games. Budweiser, which paid some $75 million to be one of the main sponsors tweeted this morning the following. Well, this is awkward, to say the least. FIFA says alcoholic beverages will still be allowed at the FIFA fan festival and other venues.

Ticketmaster is facing more public backlash right now after canceling its public sale of Taylor Swift's tour tickets. The ticketing sites said, "extraordinarily high demand and insufficient remaining ticket inventory are the reasons for the cancellation." You'll know, of course, earlier this week, the site experience glitches and delays and people trying to get tickets waiting even hours in queues to try to make anything happen. Ticketmaster CEO said 14 million people visited the site on Tuesday,

buying more than 2 million tickets for Swift's first tour in four years. That is the most ever sold for an artist in a single day. No word yet on how or if any remaining tickets will be sold. What a debacle. Good for Taylor Swift though, I guess.

Some of the most influential women in the world including Michelle Obama talked to CNN about empowering young women around the world. Their message next.



BOLDUAN: Former First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Melinda French Gates and Amal Clooney talked to CNN about their efforts to empower girls in a new CNN special. Here's a preview.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the most important things I've learned is that you can't control what other people think. And do that -- the first thing we have to master -- I have to master is my own -- my own thoughts, my own heart and that's a habit that you have to practice, snuffing out the doubters, pushing out the negative voices. Many of them not true, not applicable, we as women, we as people of color, we have the -- more those demons are -- you know, they are socially structured to keep us small. But you have to practice letting light into you because if you don't see your light, you can't shine it on anyone else, and no one will see it in you. So, the work begins here. It always has for me.


BOLDUAN: So, true. CNN's Sara Sidner joins me now, moderator, of course, for this really interesting discussion. And you also asked them, Sara, what kind of advice they would give to their younger selves, what do they say?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, this is the thing that has stayed with me, there were so much. But the thing that stayed with me is the answer that Melinda French Gates gave. She said you knew who you were when you were just a girl but you let society and other things and time and pressures change that. And if you can just go back to the core of who you are, you'll be your best self. And I thought, yes, yes, most of us felt that sort of fire in us. We knew who we were. And there are pressures and you heard Michelle Obama talking about sort of feeding that light inside of you and not letting it dim from the things around you, from the haters, if you will, around you and the societal pressures that are put on women in a different way than they are put on that.


BOLDUAN: The insecurities.


BOLDUAN: The stereotypes.


BOLDUAN: The -- everything. It's -- the what -- the way they presented is -- it's two things. It's so simple in a great way and it's also still so hard, right?

SIDNER: Yes, it's so hard.

BOLDUAN: Like, even being nice to yourself it's -- done all the deal.

SIDNER: Yes. Well, that's the biggest thing, right? Michelle Obama talks about that. The first person that you need to convince that you can do anything is yourself, right?


SIDNER: So, that's where we are. But some of the answers are amazing. I cannot wait to share this with everyone.

BOLDUAN: And there really is so much more. It was a really extended and wonderful conversation. Sara, thank you for bringing that to us, I really appreciate it. It's great to see you too.

SIDNER: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Be sure to watch our CNN special, Michelle Obama's: Mission Empowering Girls, Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Thank you all so much for watching AT THIS HOUR, I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.