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Twitter Closes Offices, Suspends access amid Mass Resignations; Heavy, Lake-Effect Snow to Continue Through Sunday across Region; Comer: No Plans to Subpoena President Biden, will Subpoena Hunter; Coroner: Large Knife used to Kill 4 Idaho Students; Police: Surviving Roommates could be "Key to this Whole Thing". Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 09:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Very good Friday morning to you, I'm Jim Sciutto.

ERICA HILL, CNN HIST: And I'm Erica Hill. It is good to make it to Friday. There are a lot, there's a lot going on this Friday morning. We're keeping a close watch on this monster snow storm which is right now bearing down on Western New York some 6 million people can be impacted here, buffalo in particular, there's a real focus because it could be paralyzed.

Cities facing up to a month's worth of snow in just a matter of a few hours. We're talking about more than four feet in and around the city.

SCIUTTO: It seems like just couple days ago we were in shorts plus Twitter's offices, they're closed today. The company has suspended employee badge access. There is apparently a big exodus of workers who rejected an ultimatum from the new owner Elon Musk who demanded employees except "An extremely hard core work environment".

Hundreds, apparently saying no and opting instead to leave the company and in Congress generational change after a truly historic run as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is stepping down from leadership saying it is time for a new generation to guide the Democratic caucus.

Now House Democrats appear likely to choose New York representative Hakeem Jeffries, possibly making him the first black person to lead any party in congress a lot of history this week. We do begin with the dangerous snowstorm bearing down on New York states. CNN's Polo Sandoval, he is in Buffalo, already seen the impact of the storm. CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers is at the CNN Weather Center. First, Polo, tell us what it looks like there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know just to really summarize the concern on the ground from authorities here, Jim; it's not necessarily the snow that we saw last night that worries authority is what we know it's predicted to fall in the coming hours here in Buffalo. You see the roads, because of the small reprieve are fairly clear.

I should mention Crews have been working non-stop with snow plows and snow blowers to make sure that those streets are clear. Fearing what is to come in the next few hours potentially into this evening, there was a travel ban in place basically calling on residents to not go out and drive however, that in the last hour that was basically downgraded to a travel advisory.

But still, that warning remains for people if you do have all the supplies and everything you need at home to simply not venture out and let those plots continue to do their work. I know we'll get to the numbers in a few moments in terms of what we've already seen so far.

But just to go over the warning that we've heard from New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a native of Buffalo, who certainly knows what it's like spending a winter here in the region. She's certainly using those strong words of warning for residents that this is a paralyzing storm, a treacherous one and potentially life threatening. And that's why what we've heard and seen from authorities around the ground is really just doubled down on that warning to stay off the roads. A lot of businesses schools are closed, if you can stay home, stay home.

HILL: Yes, good advice. And it really is about what's to come. We know buffalo can handle snow, but maybe not this much in this short of a time period. Chad, how much time is we looking at here before the brunt of this really gets going?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it started more than 24 hours ago now and it's still going in many spots. So I mean, it's snowing in Wisconsin, it's going in Michigan, it's snowing in Ontario, even parts of Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and one little spot up there in Quebec.

Now let's focus on buffalo because this is where the fire hose the stream coming off of Lake Erie is really focused. And remember that name right there, Hamburg, Hamburg, New York. Back up here toward the north and toward the northeast, even Lake Ontario getting in with Watertown now getting the heavy snow.

These are coming down at two to three inches per hour. And Hamburg, New York just reported 33.9 inches of snow already on the ground because of that fire hose, that stream of snow staying in the same spot. Now that won't stay in the same spot all day.

It's going to move up and down. And if you move Paulo, just six miles to the south, there's already 19 inches of snow on the ground. There you go another 10 miles and there's 34 inches of snow on the ground. This is a very small little narrow corridor.

So what's been happening is the wind out of the west southwest making snow south of buffalo. Later on tonight and overnight, that's going to shift and then that snow gets into buffalo Kenmore-Tonawanda. Amherst, that's where the areas that are going to pick up the snow tonight so that's why this up and down this, this wave of snow coming in,.

This is this afternoon still south of town, but then later on tonight overnight the snow does get into Buffalo proper. This is a big deal because I did some back of the envelope math here.

[09:05:00] MYERS: And if you put down 40 inches of snow at 10 to one, 10 inches of snow for one inch of water on a 1200 square foot home. That's 25,000 pounds above your head.

HILL: Oh wow.

MYERS: Yes, those heavy dangerous.

HILL: I think you just left me speechless, Chad, that is, I mean it is really something I really appreciate it. Nice work on your back of the envelope math my friend, Chad Myers, Polo Sandoval, I appreciate it. Thank you both.

Some folks on Twitter trying to put a little fun in funeral many users saying that these are their last tweets you likely have seen a little bit of this, this morning, prompting the #RIPTwitter to trend worldwide, all this of course a reaction to what's happening at the company, just the latest of course, these mass resignations.

SCIUTTO: Hundreds of Twitter's remaining staff opted for three month severance instead of committing to Musk's demand that they commit to an extremely hardcore work environment. But if you ask new owner Elon Musk, all the activity yesterday was life giving in his view. CNN's Camila Bernal is live outside Twitter's headquarters in San Francisco.

Camila, what's the latest we know on the numbers of how many folks left? How many remain, but also how that affects key functions in this company, including trying to keep lids on misinformation disinformation being spread on the website.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's not going to be easy. Good morning, Jim and Erica. Look, it's impossible to know exactly how many people have left how many are leaving, or even how many have stayed because of course, company, the company Twitter does not even have a communications department. So we're, of course, waiting for Elon Musk to tell us and it's really

unpredictable when it comes to Elon Musk. But we do know that there are a number of employees who are posting goodbye messages on Twitter and even on the company's Slack channel. My colleague Oliver Darcy spoke to former Twitter executives who described it as a mass exodus and you talked about the #RIP Twitter.

There are so many people, employees, former employees and just Twitter users who are using this hash tag, many of them actually putting out heartfelt messages and emotional messages about the company and what all of this means to them, while others yes, posting the jokes and the memes.

And that even includes Elon Musk, who posted some of these memes. But I also want to show you another tweet that he posted last night where he said and we just hit another all-time high in Twitter usage. Laugh out loud. Let that sink in. And look yes, you might have very high Twitter usage.

But Elon Musk is going to need money whether that comes from advertisers or people paying for the usage of Twitter. And he needs a lot of these key employees to stay, he has to convince at least some of these employees to stay with the company or bring in new engineers. We do not know what the future holds for this company. But we know that the offices today they will remain closed. Jim, Erica?

HILL: Camila Bernal with the latest for us from outside --whose headquarters there, thank you. This morning, New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries appears to be on the path to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Dem seem poised to elect the first black person to lead any party in congress. It's not just about Nancy Pelosi stepping down here too.

It's important to remember, Democrats will be replacing all three leadership posts as Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn also see their roles.

SCIUTTO: That's a big change, frankly, a surprising one at the same time Republicans full steam ahead as they plan what a new majority will look like in the house. CNN's Pamela Brown spoke exclusively with GOP Congressman Jim comer is the highest ranking Republican on the Oversight Committee about their plans going forward.

They have the majority notable smaller than they expected. Are they going to be as aggressive with his majority, particularly as it relates to investigations as they would have been otherwise?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR & SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And I asked that question to James Comer, the Republican congressman who was set to become Chairman of Oversight and he said yes. Even though it was clear in the midterms, Jim, that what's on voters' minds, of course, is the economy, inflation, crime.

But the Oversight Committee he has made clear that the focus is going to be on the President Joe Biden. And I asked him if that is the case, will the committee subpoena Joe Biden and James Comer said no, there is no plan to do so which underscores the challenge for Republicans come January and trying to investigate a sitting president as it aims to connect him to his son's businesses.


BROWN: If they don't give you the information, you would then use subpoenas. But are there any discussions plans to eventually subpoena Joe Biden and or his son Hunter Biden?


REP. JIM COMER (R-KY): There's no plan to subpoena Joe Biden. There are plans to subpoena Hunter Biden.

BROWN: And what does that timeline look like?

COMER: Well, I mean, you know if I were Hunter Biden, - I would want to come before my committee and prove my innocence. Because I've said some things today that should be very concerning to Hunter Biden.

BROWN: Why then would you not subpoena Joe Biden, if this is all about Joe Biden?

COMER: Well, it's complicated to subpoena President of the United States.

BROWN: But it has been done --.

COMER: It has been done and the Democrats send out subpoenas like junk mail and that's why it's hard to get people to come in.


BROWN: And so he is claiming that his oversight chairman, he's going to be more disciplined with issuing subpoenas. Of course, Jim, time will tell if that actually is going to be the case. Now the White House did respond to spokesperson for the White House Counsel's Office says that Republicans are engaged in a politically motivated attack full of conspiracy theories, saying that this is a waste of time.

And James Comer did tell me when I pressed him on, is this really what voters want? Or is this settling the score? Is this retribution for Democrats investigating Trump? He said it's not and that 8 percent of the - Republican Congress is on oversight, and that the Republicans on the other committees will focus on those issues that are top of mind clearly, for the American people, that's what he says.

SCIUTTO: Well, a lot of subpoenas were ignored under the last congress by Republicans.

BROWN: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Will they be more respectful of the idea of subpoena under this one? Probably, Pamela Brown, or they'll try to be, thanks so much.

HILL: Joining us now to discuss Rachael Bade Co-Author of Politico Playbook and Heather Caygle, Managing Editor of Punchbowl News, nice to see you both this morning. All right, let's take a look at moving back to the Democratic side of things just for a minute here.

As we look at this generational change in leadership, one of the things that stood out to me this morning in Punchbowl, I have to say was that Steny Hoyer didn't seem that eager for the transition, based on what I read in there. Is that, is that accurate Heather?

HEATHER CAYGLE, MANAGING EDITOR, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: I think so in some ways. I mean, leader Hoyer has spent, you know, the past 30 years wanting to be the top Democrat in the House wanting to be Speaker. This was a goal that he's long work towards, you know, he's served very dutifully, as Nancy Pelosi is number two for 20 years wanting the top job.

And so I just think it's hard for him. He's a very beloved member on the hill. He has a lot of relationships with Republicans, Democrats respect him the press corps, I mean, he's just a very kind person; he always stops to take our questions. So I think everyone, you know, everyone on the Hill appreciate Hoyer and the work that he's done. I think for him, it was hard to look at his career and say, I'm never going to be number one and to walk away for the good of the caucus, but that's what he did.

SCIUTTO: Yes, Rachael Bade, Nancy Pelosi was course legendary for counting votes, keeping the Democratic caucus together corralling it even in difficult circumstances. Do Democrats on the Hill believe that this new leadership team has that same ability?

RACHAEL BADE, CO-AUTHOR, POLITICO PLAYBOOK: Well, there's a lot of goodwill and a positive energy toward Hakeem Jeffries, who, as you said previously, is going to be the first black leader of the Democratic caucus, number one for the Democrats. Look, they're very much untested. Obviously Pelosi, had this sort of iron grip over her caucus was able to shepherd Democrats through some really tough votes with some very slim margins.

But the good thing for Hakeem Jeffries is that Democrats are going to be in the minority in the house.

And that actually usually is typically an easier job, because he's going to be basically sticking it to Kevin McCarthy and usually that helps unify the caucus together. And right now, I will say you have Republicans sort of warring going after Kevin McCarthy. He's not even sure if he can be speaker or have the votes to be speaker. This is very much been a peaceful transfer of power to Hakeem Jeffries and Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar. And that's really going to help them in next congress.

HILL: And Heather just some of those questions about, you know, being able to corral the votes and even really having the experience in that process that has come up, that there's also a significant level of experience that is stepping down here. Nancy Pelosi said she doesn't want to be the mother-in-law in the kitchen. Do we have a better sense, though, of the roles that these three soon to be former leaders could be playing behind the scenes to help this new generation?

CAYGLE: Yes, I think so. I mean, Hoyer will stay on in an advisory role. Jim Clyburn, who's the number three Democrat right now and currently, the highest ranking black lawmaker, is going to stay on in an official capacity as assistant Democratic leader.

But he kind of took himself out of the official hierarchy so that there's new generation of 1, 2, 3 could kind of ascend, so he'll be there too. And I know that Speaker Pelosi says that she's not going to be the mother-in-law in the kitchen. But I just can't imagine that they won't turn to her and say hey, can you help us figure out how to do this a little bit?


CAYGLE: I mean this is a trio who has 20 years of, you know, experience running this caucus. So I can't imagine that they're not going to weigh-in behind the scenes, as this new group kind of tries to learn on the fly. SCIUTTO: I do love that, that metaphor, by the way, mother-in-law in the kitchen. Let's talk Rachael Bade about the GOP majority then it's going to be tight, perhaps single digits here. Is it rock solid on a lot of these issues? We heard, for instance, Representative Comer, talk about or are there issues on which it won't be rock solid, and they might vote with Democrats, for instance, on keeping government open?

BADE: Yes it's going to be really ugly for McCarthy next year I mean, look, he's got this slim margin. And there is a group of members, dozens of members who are going to really want to use these sorts of must pass bills to keep the government open to try to pass their own conservative priorities or defund democratic priorities. And you're also going to see people like Comer, who very much want to

keep investigations front and center, when a lot of moderate Republicans say this is not why voters sent us to Washington, so it's going to be a lot of infighting. We've seen Republicans have this problem before under Speaker Paul Ryan. But given the slim margins, it's going to be particularly tough for McCarthy if he's even able to get the gavel.

SCIUTTO: We'll see a lot of unanswered questions. Rachael Bade, Heather Caygle, thanks so much to both of you.

BADE: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next autopsy results on four Idaho college students reveal new details about just how they were killed. I'm going to speak to a local reporter who is following all of the latest developments in this case, including what police want to know from two roommates who survived and were actually in the house at the time of the killings.

HILL: Also ahead here the Justice Department recommending immunity for the Saudi Crown Prince in a lawsuit over the gruesome killing of Jamal Khashoggi, his fiance tweeting that Biden Administration has saved a murderer. And a bit later Ticketmaster, shutting down sales of Taylor Swift concert tickets after a complete debacle with her pre-sale and now law enforcement and congress, one answers.



SCIUTTO: After the brutal killings of four Idaho college students, state police now say the key to breaking the case may lie with information from the two surviving roommates who were at home that night. There are still no name suspects. We are learning more details about what happened early Sunday morning.

Autopsy results show that killer probably used a large knife in the murders. And some of the victims may have put up a fight. Emma Epperly, she's Breaking News Reporter for the Spokesman-Review. She joins us now from Spokane, Washington. Emma, it's good to have you on this morning.


SCIUTTO: So first, the coroner has now completed the autopsies. What new details have we learned about the victim's wounds?

EPPERLY: We haven't learned a ton of new details. Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt said they were stabbed with a large knife and just given the size and depth of their wounds. If there was a second weapon used, it was similar to a large knife. The victims were all stabbed more than once. But she didn't say where on their bodies. They potentially did have defensive wounds and there were no indications of sexual assault.

SCIUTTO: OK, so a large knife some evidence of defensive wounds, you're saying? What are we learning about the FBI's involvement? What specific help are they going to offer local authorities?

EPPERLY: The FBI's behavioral analysis unit is helping on the task force along with the Idaho State Patrol and the local Moscow police department.

SCIUTTO: So they want to profile in effect is that the idea of profile that this killer might be?

EPPERLY: Yes, that's my understanding. And that's what that behavioral analysis unit is known for. But that's all that the FBI has been able to confirm is that they're there and helping.

SCIUTTO: OK, there's been some attention focused on the 911 call made from the home around mid-day following the killings. Have we learned new details about that 911 call and who may have placed it?

EPPERLY: So investigators are not saying who placed the 911 call at the press conference on Wednesday night, which is the first time that Moscow Police Chief James Fry had addressed the public about the case. He did confirm that two roommates of the three female victims were at home at the time of the attack. But he did not indicate if one of those roommates made the 911 call. The call did come in as an unconscious - and at about noon.

SCIUTTO: He did not indicate if one of those roommates are home or said it was not those people he just didn't he'd left it open.

EPPERLY: Yes, he wouldn't say who made the 911 call.

SCIUTTO: Understood. We've been showing videos you've been speaking of some CCTV footage from the night prior to the killings, which shows two of the victims that they were at a food truck about 130 in the morning, I believe before, what more have we learned about the timeline to the killings following the release of this video?

EPPERLY: So Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves, two of the victims were at a local bar Saturday evening police have said. And then they were seen on a Twitch live stream from a local food truck buying food in the early morning hours of Sunday. Police indicated that they believe after they got take out they went home. The other two victims, Xana Kernodle and Ethan Chapin were at an on- campus party and also returned to --. Yes.

SCIUTTO: You had in the moment's hours after the killing. Police first said, it's a targeted killing no threat to the community. They have since walked that back. [09:25:00]

SCIUTTO: Where does that stand now, it seems stands to reason if a killer is still on the lose that there is still a threat to the community. Have police been clear about that and what exactly are they doing about that?

EPPERLY: Yes, so the first three days, police did not - the press conference to address the public and they said targeted attack. Like you mentioned, there's no threat to the public on Wednesday, they did walk that back and the chief said, we cannot say there's no threat to the community. That's a quote.

So that's where it stands now. The Idaho State Patrol has increased a presence in Moscow at local schools, just across the border in Pullman, Washington, where Washington State University is located just a few miles away. And there's also an increased police presence and there's an increased presence on the University of Idaho campus as well.

SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, I'm sure the concern of students and others including yourself must be great. We do wish you the best of luck. Thanks so much Emma Epperly for joining.

EPPERLY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And for those of you watching there is a tip line from the Moscow police department at the bottom of your screen right now 208- 883-7180. If you have information to share, please do reach out to authorities.

HILL: Still ahead this hour the nation heard testimony that Former President Trump lunged at a secret service agent on January 6 after being told he couldn't go to the Capitol. Well now the House committee investigating the insurrection has spoken to that agent for a second time, that significant testimony more on that ahead.