Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Zelenskyy Convinced Missile That Fell In Poland Was Not Ukrainian; Rep. Adam Smith, (D-WA), Is Interviewed About Missile Fell In Poland; Ten Republicans Back Rick Scott's Failed Challenge To McConnell; Pence: "Closing The Door" On Testifying Before Jan. 6 Cmte; Suspect Still At Large In Killings Of Four Univ. Of Idaho Students; Land Meant To House Homeless Vets Used For Sports Fields; World Cup Kicks Off In Qatar After Years Of Scandal; "Paralyzing" Lake Effect Snow Event Beginning In Buffalo. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 16, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Now the victim's families are coming forward and demanding answers.

And leading this hour, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says the Pentagon agrees with the President of Poland and NATO Secretary General in their assessment of the missile that landed in Poland killing two innocent people.


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have seen nothing that contradicts President Duda's preliminary assessment that this explosion was most likely the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that unfortunately landed in Poland. And whatever the final conclusions may be, the world knows that Russia bears ultimate responsibility for this incident.


TAPPER: Today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is convinced, however, that the missile that landed in Poland was not Ukrainian and he has no reason to doubt the assessment from his own Ukrainian commander. CNN's Matthew Chance is in Poland at the site of the missile strike. And while some details remain murky, it's clear this incident marks one of the biggest tests of the NATO alliance in recent history.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Russian made missile striking a NATO ally and setting the world on edge. But it now seems the explosion that killed two Polish farmers here was a tragic accident, not as feared, ordered by the Kremlin.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks. But let me be clear, this is not Ukraine's fault.

CHANCE (voice-over): Not Ukraine's fault because its military was defending against the barrage of Russian missiles, targeting essential infrastructure and killing civilians. Among the victims on Tuesday was this 69-year-old woman, she was visiting her husband's grave in Kyiv when a piece of shrapnel tore through her body and killed her. As winter sets in, Russia is making Ukraine civilians suffer with reckless abandon. But what happened here in Poland shows just how dangerous that is for the whole world too.

This, while Ukrainian officials are redoubling their request for more advanced air defense systems from the United States and Europe. They've also committed to cooperating with an investigation into what happened here and admitted their air defenses were active in the area. But officials are clear, Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible dragging millions of Ukrainians and now asleep he won street Polish town into his war of choice.


CHANCE: Well, Jake, teams of specialists from both Poland and the United States are still here trying to piece together the fragments of the missile that slammed into this isolated Polish village. But tonight, concerns that incident in a NATO allied country, remember, may spark a broader conflict are definitely showing signs mercifully of easing. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Matthew Chance in Poland for us, thank you so much. While Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists the missile that fell in Poland was not Ukrainian, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed U.S. intelligence earlier today. Take a listen.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident most likely caused by the Ukrainian air defense missile.


TAPPER: CNN's Melissa Bell is in Brussels for us now. She spent the day at NATO headquarters. And Melissa, Poland is considering invoking Article 4 of the NATO Treaty, that calls for consultation. It can be invoked whenever any member state feels threatened in any way. How is NATO responding?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the messaging from NATO today, you heard there the Secretary General was really in line with what President Biden had to say on his way out of the G20 Summit when he left Bali, which is very quickly that whilst this investigation continues, this was not a missile fired by Russia, really trying to tone things down, trying to stop anyone from getting too excited about this. We all arrived at NATO headquarters this morning, Jake, hearing about the potential invoking of Article 4. Now that is the beginning of consultations, it can then lead on to Article 5, that is the foundational principle of NATO. But of course, what it means is that an attack on one country is an attack on all and it would very quickly lead to the kind of escalation that everyone's been worried about ever since this invasion began and NATO stepped up to the plate to help Ukraine.

So today was really at NATO Headquarters about trying to calm everything down, notwithstanding what President Zelenskyy was going -- was saying about what he believed has happened. And we've been hearing that right stitching fairly consistently.


Consider also, Jake, that that extraordinary unity that we've seen on the parts of NATO ever since this conflict began that we couldn't have imagined a year ago would be severely tested by actually having to cross any border. Also, Jake, things are actually going exactly as NATO would wish, NATO United vindicated Ukraine making progress on the ground, Russia on the back foot. This is a trajectory they don't want to have to mess with, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Melissa Bell at NATO headquarters for us, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Democratic State Representative -- I'm sorry, Democratic Representative from Washington State and the current chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Adam Smith.

Chairman Smith, first of all, congratulations on your reelection. Let's start with Poland, President Biden has been careful not to assign blame. What do you make of Ukrainian president Zelenskyy's insistence that it was not a Ukrainian missile?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: I mean, I ultimately I don't think it matters because it's clearly caused by Russia, Russia's invasion, Russians were launching over 100 cruise missiles at Ukraine, and then desperately, you know, firing missiles to try to stop those cruise missiles coming in. You know, however, it wound up in a missile wind up hitting Poland, it was because of Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine, and that should be the focus.

I also think President Biden has taken the exact right approach to not escalate this, to not make it appear to be an attack by Russia on Poland, but rather just the unfortunate fallout from the war in Ukraine because we don't want to get into a larger conflict, certainly not a conflict between NATO and Russia.

TAPPER: Your colleague in the House, Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted today, quote, "We must stop letting Zelenskyy demand money and weapons from U.S. taxpayers while he is trying to drag us into World War III. No more money to Ukraine. It's time to end this war and demand peace." Taylor Greene, obviously, as a Republican is poised to gain the majority, her party and gain influence and be reassigned to committees.

You told C-SPAN today that fellow Republicans on your committee support the nearly $40 billion dollar assistance package that the Biden administration has asked for. How worried are you about Republicans taking control of Congress and people like Marjorie Taylor Greene having a lot of influence and pressuring Kevin McCarthy and others to sink future assistant requests?

SMITH: Yes. No, there's a lot of layers to this, I am concerned about it. I feel very strongly that the Republican Party is overwhelmingly in support of defending Ukraine. I know Mike Rogers, who would be the incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Mike Turner, who would be the incoming chairman of the Intel Committee, there is overwhelming support amongst the Republicans in Congress to continue the aid to Ukraine and for very good reasons.

But you're raised the correct issue, will a future Speaker McCarthy, if that comes to pass, you know, will he bow to the small number of voices. And then the other point that's crucial here is understand where Marjorie Taylor Greene is coming from. She is coming from a place that is very sympathetic to a white nationalist, autocratic leader. There are small elements, I think, Liz Cheney famously referred to it as the Putin wing of the Republican Party. They don't think Putin is that big of a problem, so they don't care if he fails in Ukraine, that is a very small number of people in the Republican Party.

But it's a threat, no doubt about it, there is a risk here, that they will help Putin be successful, which is bad certainly for Ukraine, bad for us and bad for the world. And there's a lot of us who are going to fight back against that and make sure that Ukraine gets the support that they desperately need.

TAPPER: Yes, but are there enough? Because even if you talk about Mike Rogers, the future chairman of Armed Services and Mike Turner, future chairman of Intel and Mike McCaul, future, Chairman of House Foreign Affairs, you're still going to have McCarthy's Scalise and Stefanik --


TAPPER: -- you know, indebted to the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world.

SMITH: Yes, that is a distinct possibility. That's why I said at the outset of the question, I am concerned. I am concerned that a small number of people will exercise their influence and that someone like Kevin McCarthy will bend to that influence, despite the fact that the majority of the Republicans in Congress, not just the majority, probably 90 percent or at least 80 percent of the Republicans in Congress support Ukraine. So yes, it is going to be a fight. No question about it.

TAPPER: Before you go, there's a brand new CNN film airing Sunday night that highlights one of your close friends, former Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, just to remind our viewers, Giffords was shot in the head in 2011 at a event, she made an extraordinary recovery. I just want to show you a quick clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The same gift of connection and the same indomitable spirit that I saw in her when she was first elected to Congress, that doesn't go away.


Gabby embodies this sense of the human spirit being able to overcome just about anything.

GABBY GIFFORDS, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ARIZONA: I couldn't walk, I couldn't talk.


GIFFORDS: Now, I'm giving speeches again.


GIFFORDS: I'm studying for my bat mitzvah.


GIFFORDS: And I'm riding my bike for 25 miles in El to the Tucson.


TAPPER: An incredible person. What message do you hope people take away from this film about your friend?

SMITH: Resilience, I mean, it's just incredible. I mean, I saw Gabby in the hospital four days after she was shot. I visited her four or five times in Houston when she was recovering, and you showed a little bit of that in those clips. You know, from where she was and how far she's come.

And the truly remarkable thing is, from almost day one, she and her husband Mark, which is remarkable and all this we're like, we're going to beat this. That the positive attitude and the resiliency in the face of such an incredible tragedy. It is an incipient inspiration to everybody. It's incredible and heartwarming to see how far Gabby has come.

TAPPER: All right. Democrat from Washington, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Adam Smith, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SMITH: Thank you. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: And be sure to tune in to the all-new CNN film, "Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down" about a remarkable woman in her recovery. It premieres Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and it's only on CNN.

Coming up, the Biden administration now scrambling to handle the end of a Trump era border policy that the Biden people had come to rely on. Then, a CNN investigation uncovering hundreds of acres of land in Los Angeles set aside to house homeless veterans and instead is home to a prep school sports fields and UCLA baseball field. An update on that investigation and that land ahead.



TAPPER: In our national lead, the Title 42 immigration policy used to expel migrants who have crossed the U.S. Mexico border will remain in place for another five weeks. A federal judge who initially struck down the Trump era rule reversed course late Tuesday and granted the Biden administration's request to hold off on getting rid of it. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is following this.

Priscilla, how is the Biden administration preparing for Title 42 to end? And remind us what it is.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, this boils down to shoring up resources along the U.S. Mexico border to process the 1000s of migrants who arrive on a daily basis. And the reason that's different is because up until now the administration was able to turn migrants back into Mexico under this public health authority known as Title 42. And for that reason, it became a key tool that the administration was using as it looked at mass migration across the western hemisphere.

And just to give you some numbers here, border authorities have used this Title 42 nearly 2.5 million times in just the three years that it has been implemented. And the majority of those expulsions happened under the Biden administration. Now of course, there are still border crossings that are happening just last month, there was more than 200,000, many of them Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans. And for that reason the administration has to prepare in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security said quote, "Title 42 will remain in place during the period of the stay, allowing the government to prepare for a transition and to continue to manage the border in a safe, orderly and humane way." They don't have that much time, Jake, as you mentioned. It's just about five weeks, the stable run up December 21.

TAPPER: What does this mean for asylum seekers along the southern border?

ALVAREZ: All migrants will have a chance at asylum. That is when immigrant advocates have been criticizing about this order. Many being turned back who had claims of asylum. Now, they'll be able to come into the country either be released or detained or removed, but they'll be able to make those claims in immigration court as has been the process for years before this was implemented in 2020. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you so much.

This just in, a bill that would enshrine same sex marriage protections into federal law just cleared a key hurdle in the Senate. The final vote to break a filibuster was 62 to 37, with all 50 members of the Democratic caucus voting to start debate on the bill as well as 12 Republicans. Advocates of the bill say it's needed to ensure that the conservative dominated U.S. Supreme Court does not reverse marriage equality given the court's recent decision, overturning Roe v Wade. Final passage could occur after the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving recess.

Republicans have voted on who will be in charge of their caucuses in the House and the Senate next year but that does not mean the infighting has stopped. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics leads, Senate Republicans once again choosing Mitch McConnell to carry on as leader. This coming after a marathon meeting during which McConnell beat back a challenge from Senator Rick Scott of Florida by a vote of 37 to 10 fending off the first challenger McConnell has faced in 15 years. CNN's Manu Raju joins us now live from Capitol Hill.

And Manu, what are you learning about what went on inside the room? Apparently there was nearly four hours of debate.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for the second straight day of debate that lasted more than three hours behind closed doors as Republicans debated what went wrong, some criticize McConnell in some of the decisions he's made, his handling of his leadership position, others pushing back and Rick Scott, who is the chairman of the Senate Campaign Arm and its handling and its decisions as they went back and forth. Now this is the most public dissension that we have heard about Mitch McConnell from Republicans in his time running the Republican conference for the past 15 years. And as some Republicans told me, they believe it was time to change course.


SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): I look for something that tries to get us in a better place and where we have been. And I look at the last 20 years, we seem to struggle more in the swing states.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I think Senator McConnell's view is that Trump is largely to blame that Republicans have an image problem because of Trump upside. I don't agree with that. You got to be a leader and you got to organize and I thought he did a good job of that.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Are we frustrated that we didn't sometimes, yes, but I don't believe those things are McConnell's fault.


RAJU: But McConnell still had the support of 37 senators in the room and also pushed back an effort by Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others to delay the leadership elections until after the December runoff in Georgia.

[17:25:02] And Jake, I asked Rick Scott whether or not he has confidence in Mitch McConnell as a Republican leader after the election, he told me, I support the Republican leadership. Jake.

TAPPER: It's not really an answer. Kevin McCarthy over at the House, he secured the Republican nomination for House Speaker. Can he get 218 votes? He needs that. He did not get that when they voted who would be the Republican leader. He only got 188, I think?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. And 31 voted against him, voted for another challenger, conservative challenger, Andy Biggs. That is the big question right now, whether or not Kevin McCarthy can get that 218 votes.

This is the real challenge for Kevin McCarthy as they face the very likelihood that they will have a very narrow House majority. He can only afford to lose likely a handful of defections. And that -- if he does endure more than that, that could keep them under that 218 vote threshold significantly complicating his path to the speakership.

Now, he acknowledged to reporters that he's still got some work to do. He's expressed some confidence that he ultimately will get there. The question is, can he convince that hard right flank? That are some like Congressman Matt Gaetz who says he is a no no matter what, but others are signaling they may have some openness.

One congressman, Matt Rosendale of Montana, told our colleague Melanie Zanona, he said, quote, "only under extreme circumstances," would he actually vote for Kevin McCarthy. He would not explain what those extreme circumstances are.

But Jake, in order to get those, that hard -- those hard right members, he's going to have to make some concessions potentially to weaken his speakership and power the rank and file, but still negotiations about two months before that vote in January. Jake.

TAPPER: Yikes. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks.

Let's talk with our panel right here. John Berman, let me start with you. So, if you look at this debate going on between Rick Scott and people supported him and Mitch McConnell, people who supported him, I look at in terms of the context of Blake Masters who was a Republican Senate nominee in Arizona. The Blake Masters supporters say McConnell did not do enough to help elect me, the McConnell people say, and then that's the Rick Scott position, Josh Hawley position, the McConnell people say, this guy rated lower in focus groups than anyone in the history of focus groups, we were decided to put our money in states where we could do better. What do you think?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Look, I just think look at the record. Look what happened on Election Day or in the weeks since Election Day, the people Mitch McConnell chose to help largely did better. The people he was concerned about from the beginning, including Blake Masters did worse. You know, it's just the facts.

You know, in Josh Hawley complaining about division, worried that there's going to be more division, he is the division. Like sources familiar with Hawley's thinking tell him that there's going to be division within the conference, he knows because he's going to do it. And I think McConnell is sitting there this evening, you know, a little bit like, you know, like this, like, what are you guys doing?

TAPPER: So Alyssa, I want to show you this tweet, because the war of words between McConnell and Scott are getting pretty nasty. So the Senate Republican Campaign Arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the NRSC, they send out a fundraising e-mail, Rick Scott's in charge of that, they sent out a fundraising e-mail for Herschel Walker. And that e-mail would allow the NRSC to keep 90 percent of the money raised by that e-mail.

The head of McConnell's Senate Leadership Fund, which is his alternate PAC, because he thought the NRSC was doing a bad job, tweeted this in response, "Good committees raise enough so that they don't have to steal from their candidates," which is inside baseball, but pretty harsh.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, listen, the NRSC under Rick Scott declared open war on Mitch McConnell, the most powerful man in recent Republican Senate history. I would argue that if anyone on the Republican side did their job ahead of the midterms, it was Mitch McConnell. He came in and supported candidates who he knew were weak, who he said were weak. He still came in in SLF, put money in behind someone like a Bolduc in New Hampshire who didn't ultimately win.

Meanwhile, Rick Scott, under his leadership, somebody were used to think incredibly highly of when he was governor of Florida ended up putting out a platform of what, you know, Republican senators are for that was a drag on the campaign trail, it had raising taxes included, it kept coming up. And he also was using NRSC funds, basically to boost his image. If there -- this is Republicans wanting to point fingers at everyone but Donald Trump and a few folks who aren't even doing any self-reflection.

TAPPER: What do you think, Carlos?


Mitch McConnell has been the longest -- is about to be the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate, right? We should have won one or two more seats a week ago, we didn't.

TAPPER: But do you blame that on McConnell?

DIAZ-ROSILLO: I don't. I don't. I think he was right. Candidate quality matters. I just think that he shouldn't have said that in the middle of an election as the leader of the Republican Party. No, I don't believe on him, but I do think that it's normal, it's expected to have a healthy debate and for Senator Scott to challenge him.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, I just think as a Pennsylvanian that John Fetterman, who's the new senator elect from Pennsylvania, he was eminently beatable. But maybe not by a T.V. doctor from Jersey, you know what I mean?

DIAZ-ROSILLO: Absolutely. But again, as the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate --

TAPPER: You don't say that.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: -- you don't say that. You wait until after the election. He turned out to be right. You just wait and say it after the election.

TAPPER: So this just came in, as CBS News is releasing a clip of their interview with Mike Pence -- I'm going to be talking to him live later today in a town hall at 9:00. But Margaret got to him first. And he was asked by Margaret Brennan, if he was willing to testify before the January 6 Select House Committee. Take a look.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I served for 12 years in the Congress. It's inconceivable to me that one party would appoint every member of a committee in Congress, that's antithetical to the whole idea of the committee system. That being said, I never stood in the way of senior members of my team cooperating with the committee and testifying.

The Congress has no right to my testimony. We have a separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States. And I believe would establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS HOST: So you're closing the door on that entirely?

PENCE: I'm closing the door on that, and -- but I must say, again, that the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me. It seemed to me in the beginning, there was an opportunity to examine every aspect of what happened on January 6. And to do so more in the spirit of the 911 Commission, non-partisan, non- political, and that was an opportunity lost.


TAPPER: OK. So just for the record, there was an attempt to have an independent commission, and Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans opposed it. Then there was an attempt to have a committee and the two members of the Homeland Security Committee Katko and Thompson came together on it. And they agreed to all of Kevin McCarthy's demands, and then he still opposed it.

And then of course, he tried to put some witnesses on the committee, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Anyway, what's your response to the news there, which is he's not going to cooperate?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, two Republicans were on the committee. But so Mike Pence has a very valid claim of executive privilege. I think that there -- you could legally argue as a vice president, he does not have to comply with this. And he did greenlight his chief of staff Marc Short to cooperate extensively with the committee --

TAPPER: And his legal counsel also.

GRIFFIN: -- and his legal counsel.


GRIFFIN: My position knowing Pence world very well is there's not a whole lot more you would get from Mike Pence that you didn't get through that -- those two, just in how he operates. I disagree with the assessment that it was partisan in nature. And I think that the committee went overboard trying to actually work with Republicans on the committee, but I don't think we ever expected his testimony.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a false choice. I mean, he didn't need to be summoned. He could have walked into the committee anytime and voluntarily, given his testimony or spoken to them in a way that would violate whatever separation of powers precedents that he thinks exists there.

What's the goal? What's the goal? Is the goal to find out what happened? Is the goal to tell the American people what happened on January 6? If that's Mike Pence's goal, he could do that. He could do that with you tonight if he really want to do. He could tell you everything. He could tell you every conversation that he had with Donald Trump in and around January 6, if he wanted to, but he's still playing a kind of a game of, you know, I'm going to do something but not everything, because I want to maintain credibility with the base.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: But how can you decide that it's a completely partisan committee, right? You have --

TAPPER: In terms of who appointed them?

DIAZ-ROSILLO: Right. And you have all Democrats and two of the Republicans who hate President Trump the most, right? And so there's no representation on the Trump side? And so I think he's absolutely right not to testify before the committee

GRIFFIN: But he could if you want to be the representation of the Trump side.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: But why would he? Would he have a committee that's only going to present one side of the equation?

TAPPER: Well let me play -- devil's advocate for one second, because he did write a book.


TAPPER: And in the book are -- it's very detailed. Quotes, dates, conversations, I mean, it is testimony in a way. It's not under oath but, I mean, I don't doubt that he believes every word of it. DIAZ-ROSILLO: But why would he go to a committee where every single member of that committee represents one side of the equation?

GRIFFIN: I would disagree. He knows Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney, personally, he's worked with them over the years. I think those are people he could trust. And in my experience, the committee went overboard to try to be accommodating to witnesses. I think they would have been open to a transcribed off camera, didn't need to be in person hand raised in front of the American public.

That said, I'm very much looking forward to your interview next. I think we'll answer a lot of these questions.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: Absolutely.

TAPPER: All right, thanks, one and all for being here. Appreciate it. And Carlos, welcome and good to have you here.

DIAZ-ROSILLO: Thank you.

TAPPER: Tonight, join me for that special CNN town hall live with former Vice President Mike Pence at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

Coming up, a deadly mystery in a college town. Four university students killed. What we know and the growing calls from -- for police to share more information. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Horrible story in our national lead. A community on edge as police scrambled to try to find a suspect link to the mysterious killings of four University of Idaho students. All of the victims were found dead in a house near the campus in Moscow, Idaho on Sunday. While no weapon was found at the scene, police believed that an edged weapon was used in the killing.

CNN Lucy Kafanov joins us now. And Lucy, police say there's no imminent threat to the community but a suspect that remains on the loose. So why the next message?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, that's the million- dollar question, Jake. Certainly, when folks in Moscow are asking, we are expecting an update from police in about an hour or so. But as of now, no suspects, no murder weapon and not much in terms of details about what took place or why.


Now, police did issue a statement earlier to calm the community, writing, "We hear you, and we understand your fears. We want you to know that we, like you, have been devastated and distressed by these young lives that were cut short needlessly." Now what little the public does know is grizzly. The coroner describing a gruesome crime scene. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CATHY MABBUTT, LATAH COUNTY CORONER: To be some, you know, some evidence of the suspect that we get during the autopsies which would be helpful. There's quite a bit of blood in the apartment and, you know, it's a pretty dramatic scene to find for dead college students in a residence.


KAFANOV: Those autopsies scheduled to be completed this week and could potentially provide more information about the causes of death. Jake?

TAPPER: Lucy, what more can you tell us about the victims?

KAFANOV: Yes, I mean, they were all members of Greek Life on campus. They appear to have been friends. They were actually pictured smiling together in a photo posted just hours before their death. That photo shared by 21-year-old Kaylee Goncalves, the caption, "One lucky girl to be surrounded by these people every day".

Now Kaylee was killed alongside 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, a junior majoring in Marketing, 21-year-old Madison Mogen, a senior also majoring in Marketing and then 20-year-old recreation Sport and Tourism Management major Ethan Chapin was also killed. Kaylee's sister, telling the Idaho statesman, quote, "They were smart, they were vigilant, they were careful. And this all still happened. No one is in custody and that means no one is safe".

So there you have it, Jake, the families who should have been planning Thanksgiving dinner now making funeral arrangements and demanding answers and justice. Jake?

TAPPER: Just unimaginable. Lucy Kafanov, thank you so much for that report.

Turning to our buried lead, that's what we call stories we think are not getting enough attention. This morning, a lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles courtroom to try to get back 380 acres of land that had been given to the federal government to use to House thousands of homeless veterans.

As CNN's Nick Watt uncovered and a CNN investigation for THE LEAD back in March, only very few veterans actually live there. Instead, the land has been used for a V.A. hospital for UCLA's baseball field and for a private prep school sport fields and pool. And now Nick is reporting on the progress or lack thereof.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is UCLA's manicured baseball diamond and Brentwood schools playing fields.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just -- it's really kind of disgusting to see.

WATT (voice-over): Not at all what Christine Barrie's ancestor had in mind when she donated much of this land in the late 1800s.

CHRISTINE BARRIE, RELATIVE DONATED LAND: It wasn't given to anybody but veterans for a home.

MARK ROSENBAUM, DIRECTOR, OPPORTUNITY UNDER LAW PUBLIC COUNSEL: But with Vietnam, the V.A. decided no more. And the neighboring community said we don't want Vietnam disabled vets out here. And so the vets were kicked out.

WATT (voice-over): 4,000 vets once lived here roughly the same number of homeless veterans in L.A. today. Late last night in an L.A. courthouse, a lawsuit was filed, demanding that within six months, the V.A. offer housing to at least 3,500 vets on or around this land and not use this land for purposes that are not primarily related to providing housing and health care for veterans with disabilities. So no longer a private school's playground.

(on-camera): What do you want to see happening on there?

JOSHUA PETITT, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: A lot. But the base thing is housing for veterans, period.

Joshua Petitt served in Iraq, lived for a year outside the fence around this land. He's among 14 homeless Veteran plaintiffs.

PETTIT: (INAUDIBLE) build us housing. Like no, they don't want us here, bro. I mean, I get it, but I don't care. They can send us to war. We can get these problems and you're not going to deal with us? No. No.

WATT (voice-over): Back in 2016 after a lawsuit and pressure from veterans and advocates, the V.A. promised to house homeless veterans here. When we visited in March, more than 700 new units should have been completed. Not one was complete. Zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're all studio apartments.

WATT (voice-over): About 180 were under construction, scheduled to open this fall. They're not home.

ROB REYNOLDS, VETERAN ADVOCATE, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: And now we're being told next year, January-February timeframe, so it's always delays.

WATT (voice-over): Back in 2016, an act of Congress also decreed that lease holders on this land must principally benefit veterans.

REYNOLDS: What's the point of a law of our own federal government's not going to follow it? And then the end result of this is that people are dying on the street. I mean, it's serious.

WATT (voice-over): The V.A. privately signed a lease amendment with UCLA allowing a practice field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we were to say no to that, they could have gone to a judge or somewhere.


WATT (voice-over): The V.A. signed a new agreement with an oil drilling company and another 10-year lease with Brentwood school.

Back in March, V.A. brass told me this.

ROBERT MCKENRICK, V.A. GREATER LOS ANGELES HEALTH CARE: So the arrangement with the school is non-compliant. I'm sure if we terminated the lease, they would take us to court over it.

WATT (voice-over): So he agrees with one key part of this new lawsuit. Brentwood school's athletic facilities should not be on this land. And now the V.A. is being taken to court not by the school or UCLA, but by veterans who want a hope.

ROSENBAUM: How can you be the home of the brave when so many of the brave are actually homeless? Every administration has treated them as disposable. So then it is the hardest part of war is coming home.

WATT (on-camera): Going through what you're going through now, how important is it to have your own place your own space?

PETTIT: It's everything, stability housing, and then everything else fall into place, and veterans deserve it.


WATT: So I reached out to Brentwood school for comment, haven't heard back yet. A UCLA spokesperson told me that they are in full compliance with a law that governs their lease and an audit proves that. Important to note, it is the V.A. that is being sued here. Their press secretary told me that they will not rest until every veteran has a safe stable home.

He told me that they -- this year and next, they're going to find 800 units of housing across the city for veterans and on this land, three years from now, they will have, they hope, 700 units built here. But that's not exactly what these plaintiffs are asking for. They want more, and they want it sooner. So maybe now a judge will have to decide what happens here. Jake?

TAPPER: Nick, keep doing this story for us. Every few months, give us an update on this disgraceful behavior by --

WATT: Yes.

TAPPER: -- the government there. It's a long disgraceful history of how the U.S. government treats our veterans. Nick Watt in Los Angeles, thanks so much.

Giving Qatar a red card as the world gets ready for the start of the World Cup. CNN is digging into the scandals on and off the field. Stay with us.



TAPPER: This Sunday, the biggest sporting events on planet Earth kicks off, it's the World Cup. And for the first time, the soccer or football tournament is being held in a Middle Eastern country, Qatar. From day one, this was a decision marked with controversy and allegations of sports washing, that's using athletic events to cover up a country's dismal human rights record.

CNN's Isa Soares takes a look now at some of the scandals leading up to the first whistle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The winner to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The sport world was stunned when FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar. Controversy took center stage and football risk becoming a sideshow. Why was Qatar a tiny desert state with no football pedigree chosen to host FIFA showpiece event?

Even the disgraced former chief of football's governing body has since described the decision as a mistake.

SEPP BLATTER, FORMER CHIEF OF FOOTBALL'S GOVERNING BODY: I was right at a certain time to say it is -- they should not go there.

SOARES (voice-over): That move 12 years ago provoked unprecedented anger, accusations of corruption and sports washing.

Qatari officials strongly denied the allegation that bribery was involved in their bid. Before a ball is kicked at this year's tournament, attention has focused on Qatar's human rights record. Its stance on same sex relationship and most damaging to its reputation, the treatment of overseas workers drafted in to build essential infrastructure.

Amnesty International claims authorities failed to properly investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers despite evidence linking premature deaths with unsafe working conditions in this searing heat. Qatari officials say they investigate all reports of abuse and exploitation and are committed to holding unscrupulous employers to account.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How important is it to keep traditions like this?

SOARES (voice-over): Ambassadors like David Beckham have been criticized for accepting role said to be worth millions of dollars.

JOE LYCETT, COMEDIAN: If you end your relationship with Qatar, I'll donate this 10-grand of my own money.

SOARES (voice-over): Comedian Joe Lycett called out the former England captain, saying his status as a gay icon was under threat. Homosexual acts are illegal in Qatar, considered immoral under Islamic law. Punishments include prison sentences and even death.

Organizers told CNN Qatar is a tolerant and welcoming country and claim no one will be discriminated against. Nonetheless, calls to boycott the tournament have gathered momentum. When the final whistle goes at Qatar 2022, the legacy will be judged not only over 28 days of football, but in the years the lie ahead.


SOARES: Jake, the tournament kicks off this Sunday and teams have started to arrive as have fans. And while there is a level of excitement that the World Cup is back, many fans are worried about how this highly conservative nation will police rules around alcohol consumption as well as displays of affection, both of which can lead to arrest in Qatar.


Now it really remains to be seen whether the beautiful game will be overshadowed by the issues that have dominated the pre-tournament build up, Jake?

TAPPER: All right, our thanks to Isa Soares for that report.

One part of the country bracing for what could be a, quote, paralyzing winter storm. Stick around.


TAPPER: In our national lead, old man winter is about to make a grand entrance. Forecasters say every state in the lower 48 will record below freezing temperatures over the next seven days. The real problem, they say, will be in the northeastern United States where paralyzing lake effect snow is in the forecast over the next few days.

Some locations around Buffalo, New York could pick up 3 feet or more with snow falling at the rate of 3 to 4 inches an hour. Other areas such as Western Michigan, Northeast Ohio and areas east of Lake Ontario will also see significant snow.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to THE LEAD from whence you get your podcasts. I'll be back in just a few hours at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for a special CNN town hall live with former Vice President Mike Pence.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". See in a few hours.