Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Climate Solutions?; North Korea Missile Test; Idaho Murder Investigation; Inflating Easing?; Monster Storm Hammers New York; Twitter Trouble?. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Topping our "Political Radar": The Georgia Republican governor, Brian Kemp, tomorrow joins Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker on the campaign trail for the first time, that according to the Walker campaign, Walker facing the incumbent Democrat, Raphael Warnock, in the December 6 run-off.

The nation's Capitol -- look at this -- getting into the holiday spirit. The 2022 Capitol Christmas Tree is here. It will be lit on the West lawn of the Capitol later today.

Thanks for your time watching INSIDE POLITICS this week. Have a good weekend.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello, and happy Friday. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us. It's a busy day here in the NEWSROOM.

Turmoil at Twitter and serious questions about the social media giant's future.

We're covering a mass resignation after Chief Twit Elon Musk gave employees an ultimatum.

And a month's worth of snow in just a few hours? It could happen, as a monster storm continues to pummel Western New York. Imagine, 21 inches in less than six hours just this morning.

Plus, more questions and new details in the gruesome killings of four college students in Idaho. One victim's dad says his daughter fought for her life during this attack.

But, first, minutes from now, President Biden speaks on the economy just days before the unofficial holiday shopping season kicks off. The White House says the president will focus on progress made. What progress?

CNN's Matt Egan is on it for us.

Matt, in terms of numbers, we have seen some signs this month that inflation is easing. But in terms of how people are feeling, are Americans feeling that progress yet?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Ana, I think the good news is that inflation is cooling off.

I think the bad news is, it's still pretty hot. And so that means that people may not really be feeling this in their wallets. Consumer prices jumped by 7.7 percent year over year in October. That set off a thunderous celebration on Wall Street, raising hopes that maybe the worst for inflation is over.

But there's really no celebration Main Street, because the cost of living remains way too high. We have seen some categories having price drops, apparel, airfare, used cars, month-over-month price declines. That is good news. But food remains a sore spot, and people are going to be filling up this Thanksgiving.

The average cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people, $64 this year. That is up 20 percent from a year ago, 38 percent higher than two years ago. We have seen a little bit more progress, though, when it comes to another pain point. That is prices at the pump. A gallon of gas is now selling nationally for $3.71, down eight cents from a week ago, 16 cents from a month ago.

That is good news. The Fed is fighting inflation by bumping up the cost to borrow, so that has sent credit card rates to record highs. Mortgage rates have skyrocketed. We did see a bit of good news on that front, the average 30-year fixed rate going from 7.1 percent to 6.6 percent. That is the largest weekly drop since 1981.

But, Ana, 6 percent or 7 percent, mortgage rates, they're still pretty high. And this volatility is making it hard for home buyers and sellers to know what to do next.

CABRERA: I like the direction we're going, though. I wish we could always start with good news on a Friday.

What are the next key indicators you are watching?

EGAN: Well, Ana, the hope is that, soon, the Fed is going to be able to chill out with these monster interest rate hikes that are raising recession fears.

But, for that to happen, the Fed needs to see progress on two key areas, one, inflation. The other, of course, is jobs. And so we do see, in the next few weeks, we're going to have upcoming inflation reports and jobs reports.

And so the Fed is hoping to see further signs of a cooldown on those fronts. And, if that happens, then maybe, during the next meeting on December 14, they can go from a 75-basis-point-rate hike to a 50- basis-point hike. Maybe they could eventually go down to 25 basis points or even pause altogether.

Ana that, of course, would be good news, because, right now, the Fed is slamming the brakes on the economy, and, eventually, they could end up causing a recession. CABRERA: Matt Egan, I know you're watching closely. Thank you.

Now to the turmoil at Twitter that has suddenly gotten even more tumultuous, the social media site's future in question, as offices closed after hundreds of employees resigned en masse. They delivered a hard no to Elon Musk's -- quote -- "extremely hardcore ultimatum."

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy is joining us to explain.

I guess the question is, can the little bluebird keep flying if they don't have people to operate the company?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes, that's the million- dollar or $44 billion question, Ana.

CABRERA: Literally.


DARCY: Like, can Twitter -- yes, literally.

Can Twitter survive Elon Musk? And it looks like they're in some trouble. Yesterday, a mass exodus at the company occurred after Elon Musk's 5:00 p.m. deadline for employees. Remember, he had asked them, either work hardcore or leave the company. Scores of employs, hundreds of employees seemed to resign yesterday.


And now there's a real question about whether this platform can survive. You mentioned that Twitter's offices were closed. They e- mailed after this mass resignation, closing the offices, presumably to secure the facility, make sure that it's not sabotaged by any employees who might be out the door.

Elon Musk actually just e-mailed the Twitter staff, and I have this e- mail. I will read part of it to you, to software engineers.

He said: "Anyone who actually write software, please report to the 10th floor at 2:00 p.m. today."

So you can get a sense of how chaotic is it is inside there. Yesterday, they were told, offices are closed. Now Elon is summoning software engineers to the 10th floor for a meeting.

CABRERA: My goodness, it just seems like he's making this all up as he goes, and the company continues to implode.

What would the death of Twitter mean? What kind of implications would that have, if that's what happens?

DARCY: Yes, Twitter is really like the digital town square, right? It's a hugely important communications platform.

World leaders use it. The president of the United States is on there. The Pentagon is on there. Dissidents in foreign countries with oppressive regimes use Twitter to organize. Celebrities, brands, they make important announcements on there. Journalists like us use it to news-gather.

And so it's so much more than just a social media Web site. And so, if it were to end, to die, it would disrupt the flow of information across the globe. I mean, it would have some serious ramifications.

CABRERA: And because of all of the things you just listed, the reasons that's the reason -- that's the only social media site I use, because it is valuable to me in the work that we do.

DARCY: Right.

CABRERA: Do we know how many users have left Twitter? Because I keep seeing these posts, especially last night of RIP Twitter; #RIPTwitter, that was trending last night.

DARCY: Yes. Yes.

CABRERA: I think it was the number one trending topic at the time. A lot of people are signing off, saying their final goodbyes to the platform.

DARCY: Yes, there -- and they're telling other followers to follow them on Instagram or some of these other platforms.

And I think the fact that no one has one destination where they're sending their followers kind of hints at a future without Twitter. It would be very fractured. There's no one town square like there is on Twitter. There are other Web sites. There's Facebook, there's TikTok, there's Instagram, but there isn't this, like, place where everyone comes together to communicate.

And I think that's the real sad part about this, is that place is falling apart in real time, and everyone's kind of just on the site watching it collapse.

CABRERA: Yes. We don't know the next turn or twist that this is going to take.


CABRERA: Thank you, Oliver Darcy, for your reporting on all of this.

Now to what is looking like a monster historic snowstorm pounding Western New York. Take a look at Buffalo, more than a foot of snow already on the ground, one official saying the conditions there are going downhill very quickly. The city has reinstated a travel ban for some areas. And the worst is still to calm.

Meteorologist Jennifer Gray joins us now.

Talk to us, Jennifer, about the dangers associated with this storm.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, the snow is coming down so fast, two to three inches an hour, that if you try to get on the roads, the snow can just come down so fast that you can get stuck and you won't be able to go anywhere.

Some roads have been reported that plows can't even get through now. And, really, the trouble spot is right here in Western New York, as you mentioned, just to the south of Buffalo. Hamburg has gotten pounded all morning long. We have continued to see two to three inches of snow an hour.

And this has been going on since the wee morning hours. So we are talking about several feet of snow. And look at this video. You can see looks like a wall of snow, a curtain if you will. I remember flying into Buffalo in 2014 during that snow event, and it was one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen, such a dividing line where the snow starts and the snow is.

We have seen already three feet of snow across portions of Western New York, current snow depth already more than 18 inches right there in the Hamburg region, just to the south of Buffalo. And, really, Ana, the wind is going to steer where this snow goes.

So, just a change in the wind direction is going to change who gets the most snow. And you can see it starts to inch up to the north around Buffalo. By the time we get into tonight, into tomorrow morning, they will be more in the snow. And then it's still continuing by tomorrow evening, so really snowing all day tomorrow.

A front moves through. It does push a lot of that out, but do expect snowy conditions to remain throughout much of the weekend. This is going to create incredible problems, not only on the roads, but air traffic, as well as the weight of this snow, Ana, on roofs.

We saw many collapses during 2014 with all of that snow weighing down on the rooftops.

CABRERA: Of course, this part of the country is no stranger to snow, right? What makes this storm so unique?

GRAY: I think it's just the amount of snow in such a short period of time. They get a lot of snow, but it comes in increments, and so you can get out, shovel it, you can handle the snow,get it off your roof, things like that.


But when you get three, four or five feet of snow at one time, it creates huge, huge problems.

CABRERA: Well, we hope everybody stays safe there.

Jennifer Gray, thank you for that update.

And now to the brutal stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students, no arrests yet, but more details are emerging. One victim's father says the autopsy shows his daughter fought her attacker to the end. And police now say two surviving roommates could be key to solving this case. Here could be one reason why. Listen to what a reporter for "The Idaho

Statesman" revealed on CNN this morning.


SALLY KRUTZIG, "THE IDAHO STATESMAN": Those roommates were in the House the time of the killing. I spoke to the mother of one of the victims, and she did confirm that they heard something, yes.

And the mother didn't want to say what they heard. But she did tell me they heard something. They heard someone enter the house and heard something. We don't know. We don't know what exactly they heard.


CABRERA: CNN's Veronica Miracle is in Moscow, Idaho.

And, Veronica, you spoke to the police and the coroner. What are you learning?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, this morning, we are learning that those roommates are being interviewed.

And when I asked a police spokesman if these roommates are being considered as witnesses, as victims, suspects, or persons of interest, they said they could be any of those. They are still working to determine that. And they are hoping to release that information very soon.

Also, what is expected to be released very soon are the whereabouts of those victims before they were killed. Here's what the spokesperson had to say.


AARON SNELL, IDAHO STATE POLICE: So we really want the public's help. We're looking for additional tips and leads. And we believe that releasing information about the location of the victims throughout the night might generate some information that we can follow up on and hopefully identify a suspect.


MIRACLE: I'm also told that those victims bodies were found on the second and third floor of the house, and that they had multiple stab wounds, possibly from one weapon, likely from one weapon.

And we're also told from the coroner that it was likely there was some kind of struggle before their deaths.


CATHY MABBUTT, LATAH COUNTY, IDAHO, CORONER: There were stab wounds on the hands of at least one of the students that make it appear that it would be defensive wounds.


MIRACLE: And the coroner also added that there was no signs of sexual assault. She also said they still don't know the exact time of deaths for these victims, and that they don't know whether those victims were killed at the same time, just a horribly gruesome story -- Ana.

CABRERA: Wow. Two different floors, perhaps the same murder weapon, signs of struggle, other roommates in the house that survived now talking to police, there is so much to learn in an awful tragedy.

Veronica Miracle, thank you for your reporting.

North Korea does it again, firing off a long-range missile that Japan says has the potential to reach the U.S. mainland. How the U.S. is responding next.

And he sure seems invincible as Thor, but when after Chris Hemsworth discovered something about his own health, he says it forced him to think about death and his own mortality. More on that.

And talk about a destination wedding; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is set to host its 19th nuptials ever this weekend. We have the details just ahead.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay right there.



CABRERA: North Korea fires another missile, and this one has the range to theoretically reach the U.S. mainland. That is what Japan is saying after Pyongyang's ICBM test this morning.

It marks the 34th day this year that the Kim Jong-un regime has carried out a missile test. And that is a record. It was met with a swift show of force from the U.S. and South Korea, the allies conducting a joint military exercise just hours later.

I want to get to CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon.

Oren, first, what do we know about this latest launch?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's concerning about the test of this intercontinental ballistic missile from North Korea is, as you pointed out, its range.

It only went about 650 miles or so, according to Japan, landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone, but it also went nearly 4,000 miles high. And if you were to take that trajectory and stretch it out, it means that this missile could, at least theoretically, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry, have hit the mainland United States.

It's not the first time North Korea this year has tested an ICBM, but it remains concerning anytime they test one of these, because it means they're learning more. They're improving their equipment. They're learning about the launches themselves and their trajectories.

And that, in and of itself, is cause for concern. It also comes one day after they tested a short-range ballistic missile. So North Korea's frenetic pace of testing continues. In response, the U.S. and South Korea carrying out a live-fire exercise with four U.S. and four South Korean jets.

The South Koreans say they targeted what they call a transporter erector launcher, which is essentially a mockup of a North Korean ballistic missile launcher. The U.S. also carrying out exercises with Japan, and that's that continued show force that the U.S., South Korea and Japan want to show in the region, that they will not be cowed by these missile launches.

CABRERA: So what is behind this increased aggression by North Korea? Because these military exercises and all these warnings don't seem to be deterring them.

LIEBERMANN: Well, the exercises aren't quite meant to deter North Korea from launching. They're meant to deter North Korea from carrying out those launches and actively trying to attack the U.S., South Korea, Japan, or other allies in the region.

And, to that extent, so far, it has worked. But what's behind North Korea's thinking here? I spoke with one North Korea expert who says, look, Kim Jong-un is determined to achieve this military capability. He wants a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile. So he's going to keep testing. He's going to keep improving their ballistic missile program and learn more with each test.


The exercises, the responses, painting America as the enemy of North Korea, that, he says, is just the excuse to keep this program going and keep it moving forward.

CABRERA: Oren Liebermann, thank you.

Turning now to a controversy tied to a different regime, Saudi Arabia, but it's the U.S. sparking outrage for arguing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has immunity in a lawsuit over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, now a murder that U.S. intel agencies say the crown prince directed.

Now members of President Biden's own party are expressing outrage over this move.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I'm going to be very blunt. I was stunned when I read it this morning. And I have already -- was texting my staff very early about trying to understand what the issues were.

So I think it's very complicated. But I am very disturbed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: CNN's Alex Marquardt is following this.

Alex, as a candidate, we all remember Biden saying Saudi Arabia would become a pariah over this assassination. And now his State Department says MBS has immunity? Help us make sense of this.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, the White House is now arguing that this is not about what they believe happened. They still believe that MBS directed the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

They say this is not disagreeing with the case that has been brought against him by Khashoggi's fiancee here in federal court in Washington, D.C., two years ago. They say this is about a legal precedent, international law, which states that foreign heads of state, foreign heads of government, like MBS, should be given immunity from prosecution.

We heard just a short time ago from the National Security Council's John Kirby. He said, in part: "This legal determination has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the case itself. It is a legal determination requested by State and -- by the State Department and provided by the Justice Department at the request of the court."

Ana, let's break this down a little bit. MBS, of course, is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, but, a couple of weeks ago, in fact, at the end of September, his father gave him a new title, that of prime minister, and that made him technically the head of the Saudi government. That, therefore, shielded him from prosecution. It gave him immunity.

Now, critics and experts that I have spoken with, as well as activists, they say that was a ploy in order to get this immunity. And, in fact, the Justice Department in their filing late last night, really at the 11th hour on the day of the deadline, they did say in their filing that because he is the head of the Saudi government, that he therefore deserves immunity.

Now, as you just noted, there is growing anger. There is growing outrage on Capitol Hill. We have seen people like Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he tweeted: "We should seek justice, and relentlessly so."

I have spoken to several activists who are stunned and angry. They say that the Biden administration is shielding the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. And, Ana, I have also spoken with the fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, who e-mailed me to say that she is devastated today. She says that Biden himself betrayed his word, betrayed Jamal, and that history will not forget -- Ana.

CABRERA: Alex Marquardt, thank you.

He has circled the globe in a hot air balloon and in a plane, all without using a drop of fuel. Could he have a fix for the climate crisis? Bill Weir's amazing report next.



CABRERA: World leaders at the U.N.'s climate change conference in Egypt are working overtime. They don't have a deal yet. So they're extending the talks through at least Saturday to try to hash out a plan to combat the climate crisis.

Now, ahead of this summit, our own Bill Weir went to some great heights to meet one unique attendee, the first person to fly nonstop around the globe without using any fuel. And he's got some ideas to save our planet. Watch.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is easy to suffer from climate anxiety these days. And watching diplomats bicker and barter for the 27th time hardly inspires.

But if you ever need a lift...


WEIR (on camera): Ready.

(voice-over): ... Bertrand Piccard is your guy in more ways than one.

PICCARD: Bye-bye.

WEIR: He comes from a Swiss family of explorers so renowned that, when "Star Trek" created a captain, they named him Picard.

PICCARD: You see the balloon quite high over the top of the mountain?

WEIR (on camera): Right.

PICCARD: This is Chateau de -- that's where I took off to fly around the world.

WEIR (voice-over): He definitely lived up to the legacy by winning a race to become the first to circle the globe nonstop using only hot air and fickle winds.

PICCARD: It was very emotional because it was my last chance. I had failed twice already. It was the last balloon, the last opportunity.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Round-the-world record-setting.