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Six Million Under Snow Alert As Freezing Temps Grip U.S.; Pelosi Says She Won't Run for Democratic Leadership; U.S.: Saudi Crown Prince Has Immunity in Khashoggi Lawsuit; Employees Exit Twitter After Elon Musk's Hardcore Work Ultimatum; North Korean Missile Test Overshadows APEC Summit; Qatar Mired in Controversies with World Cup Two Days Away. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Bianca is off for the day, but just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not your normal snowfall in the city of Buffalo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're looking at over 4 inches coming down per hour. That could present some significant challenges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people that I've been speaking to just are not amped about staying at Twitter. Some of them feel cursed that they weren't laid off with the initial layoff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another Russian terrorist attack has occurred. Dozens of missile launches. Civilian sites are the main target.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: It's Friday, November 18th. 9 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in New York where a potentially historic winter storm is bearing down on part of the state, namely the Buffalo area. Authorities have banned driving in an effort to keep people off the roads. The governor's declared a state of emergency for 11 counties. Buffalo's mayor is imploring residents to take caution.


BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK MAYOR: But I want to be very clear, this is not your normal snowfall in the city of Buffalo or in the region, this is a snowstorm with potentially deadly consequences if people do not do the right thing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: New York is one of the five states around the Great Lakes under snow alerts impacting about 6 million people and almost the entire country is looking at freezing temperatures today. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is tracking all of this and has the latest advice -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Max, any other given day snow in Buffalo, New York would not be making headlines. We would not be leading this show with that. But this is different. This has the potential to paralyze the city, paralyze the infrastructure.

If we go back to 2014, there was a similar lake effect snow event in Buffalo. There were fatalities associated with that. Just by buildings collapsing under the sheer weight of the snow. We're not going to measure this in inches, this is going to be measured and snow and multiple feet of it. You can see the snow, it's going to blanket the Great Lakes, Michigan to western New York. I'm going to focus in on this area because this is where we anticipate the heaviest snow. That's where we have the lake-effect snow warnings. Ewen County is located right here, just downwind of Lake Erie near Buffalo. And that is currently where the driving ban is located and the state of emergency as well.

What I found very interesting -- this is the current radar. So, this is actually happening right now. There's the most intense lake-effect snow band. It is over 200 miles long, but it is only 10 miles in diameter. And that is why this forecast is so important. Where that wind direction takes the band of snow will determine who sees the heaviest of snowfall in the coming hours.

Currently it's located just south of the downtown Buffalo region. This is the South Towns area and they're getting 2 to 3 inches per hour as we speak and it is piling up quickly. You'll see some of the snowfall totals in just one moment.

We've already clocked in two feet of snow, this is an unofficial report in the Williamstown region. But it is the direction of the wind that I'm going to continue to harp on because that is what matters. It is a game of miles with this particular forecast because at the moment we have a west/southwesterly wind I'll tell you why that is taking that band of heavy snow just south of the downtown Buffalo region.

You can see we've drawn on that diagram. That is a west southwesterly wind. That puts the heaviest snow south of the city. But as the wind changes direction from more of a southwesterly wind it creates more of a fetch or a longer duration over the open waters that are very warm over Lake Erie. So, more moisture means more snow accumulating with the southwesterly wind over the Buffalo area.

Let me take you to the outer edges of Lake Erie and show you what it looks like right now. This is the overnight period in a town that's actually in the suburbs of northern Buffalo. You can see the snow flying, the waves whipping. That just gives you an indication of how intense the snow bands are really across an area. Max, by the time it's all said and done we could be seeing up to 4 to 5 feet. Potentially historic snowfalls for this area.

FOSTER: Wait to see what happens at sunrise. Derek, thank you very much, indeed.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it's time for a new generation to lead the Democratic Party in Congress. The 82-year-old said she'll not run for a leadership post although she will stay in Congress. Pelosi will be giving up the Speaker's gavel in January when Republicans take control of the chamber. Pelosi made history as the first and only woman to become Speaker in 2007. New York's Hakeem Jeffries is expected to become the new Democratic leader. Pelosi used her announcement to get in a subtle dig at Donald Trump


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: I have enjoyed working with three presidents achieving historic investments in clean energy with President George Bush. Transforming health care reform with President Barack Obama and forging the future from infrastructure to health care to climate action with President Joe Biden.


FOSTER: More now from CNN's chief congressional correspond department Manu Raju.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After two decades at the top of her party in Congress, ushering through massive legislation --

PELOSI: The bill is passed.

RAJU (voice-over): -- winning the majority twice, becoming the first woman to lead the house and now losing the majority for the second time as speaker --

PELOSI: The House will be in order.

RAJU (voice-over): -- Nancy Pelosi announced she would step aside.

PELOSI: I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hours come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect. And I am grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.

RAJU (voice-over): At 82, the Democrat has represented San Francisco in the House for 35 years, saying she would continue serving in a Congress whose makeup has markedly changed.

PELOSI: When I came to the Congress in 1987, there were 12 Democratic women. Now, there are over 90 and we want more.

RAJU (voice-over): The news prompting an immediate shakeup, Pelosi's current number two, Steny Hoyer, announcing that at the age of 83, he would not run for leadership. Her current number three, 82-year-old Jim Clyburn signaling he also will let a new team ascend, paving the way for Hakeem Jeffries, a 52-year-old Brooklyn Democrat, as the likely next Democratic leader.

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D-OH): I'm very comfortable saying, I believe that every member of the Congressional Black Caucus would vote for Hakeem Jeffries.

RAJU (voice-over): Jeffries' top two deputies could be 59-year-old Katherine Clark and 43-year-old Pete Aguilar, all expected to run in the November 30th leadership elections. It's a generational change some have long sought.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): I think she's a historic speaker, she has accomplished an incredible amount. But I also think there are a lot of Democrats ready for a new chapter.

REP. MARK POCAN (D-WI): I think the world biggest focus group is the November 8th election for all of us, and I think people really are looking for that generational change.

RAJU (voice-over): The donor of a Baltimore mayor who rose the rank in her state party first became speaker in 2007, leading the opposition against George W. Bush over the Iraq war, three years later shepherding through the Affordable Care Act under Barack Obama.

After her party was swept into the minority, becoming speaker again in 2019, where she battled Donald Trump, making him the only president impeached twice, including after January 6th, where pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol and targeted the speaker.

RAJU: Mr. Nadler, can you imagine a caucus not run by Nancy Pelosi?

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Well, I hope that we don't have to see that.

RAJU: And there are still questions about the next House Speaker in a Republican majority come January. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, still moving behind the scenes to lock down the 218 votes he will need in order to get the gavel. Two members of the hard right Freedom Caucus told me on Thursday that McCarthy is not there yet. They said that he does not have 218 votes and he has a way to go. Andy Biggs, one of those Republican members said that there should be a, quote, consensus candidate who should emerge. After some negotiations between the two sides in order to unite the warring wings of their conference.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: U.S. President Joe Biden says he's willing to work with the new Republican majority but GOP hard liners are apparently in no mood to reciprocate. On Thursday Republican lawmakers made clear they intend to open numerous investigations into the Biden administration and the president's family. The Republicans are expected to use their new subpoena power to investigate the private finances of the president's son Hunter, there after the homeland security, over border security. Look into the various government probes into Donald Trump and other issues.


The White House is slamming the proposed agenda as political revenge based on discredited conspiracy theories.

Now that the U.S. House is heading for Republican control, former U.S. President Barack Obama has delivered some of his most forceful comments yet on the stakes facing the country. Here's what he had to say on Thursday in a keynote speech at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's being challenged are the foundational principles of democracy itself. The notion that all citizens have a right to freely participate in selecting who governs them. The notion that votes will be counted and the party that gets more votes wins, than losers concede, that power is transferred peacefully, that the winners don't abuse the machinery of government to punish losers. And we're going to have to figure out how to live together or we will destroy each other.


FOSTER: In an interview on Trevor Noah on "The Daily Show", the former president praised Democrats for voting down Republican election deniers. Adding that they were running in states in national races where they could, quote, really do some damage.

Now four years after the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. has determined that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman should be given immunity in a lawsuit brought against him in connection with the killing. Khashoggi's fiancee and a human rights organization Khashoggi founded, called at dawn -- alleged that a team of assassins kidnapped, tortured and assassinated the journalist and dismembered his body. A 2021 U.S. intelligence investigation said the Bin Salman approved the operation. Anna Coren joins me from Hong Kong with more. Very disappointing for his family obviously.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are absolutely devastated. And Max, what's even more extraordinary is that the Biden administration had a choice not to make a recommendation. But at the 11th hour interest decided to weigh in delivering its opinion to a federal court that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman -- better known as MBS -- should be granted immunity for his role in killing Jamal Khashoggi back in 2018.

Now a short time ago we heard from Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz. She tweeted her response.

She said: The United States State Department has granted immunity to MBS. It wasn't a decision everyone expected. We thought maybe there would be a light to justice from the U.S.A. but, again, money came first. This is a world that Jamal doesn't know about and me.

She went on to tweet: Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let's see who will save you in the hereafter?

She tweeted this final tweet: Jamaal died again today.

Now Khashoggi's fiancee and human rights group filed a civil lawsuit in a Washington court back in 2020 against MBS and 28 others involved. As you said, Max, U.S. intelligence concluded that the Crown Prince ordered the murder of Khashoggi. He was a "Washington Post" journalist and an outspoken critic of MBS.

Now the State Department just before midnight issued this court filing saying that MBS now has, quote, sovereign immunity after his father, King Salman recently made his son Prime Minister. It's based on, quote, long-standing and well established principles of common-law and its recommendation is purely a legal determination. It did however condemn the murder as heinous.

Now the Crown Prince is currently attending the APEC Summit in Thailand. He arrived late last night, was warmly greeted by the Thai Prime Minister. We have yet to hear from him or from any world leader for that matter. And, Max, I think it's important to note that, you know, President Biden, he was in Saudi Arabia back in July trying to convince MBS and the Kingdom to undo a series of oil production cuts. Saudi Arabia to date has refused to do that, nor has it improved its human rights record leaving many confused as to why the Biden administration would then recommend immunity for MBS -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Anna in Hong Kong, thank you.

Now #ripTwitter was trending worldwide on Thursday as some users fear they could be tweeting there last post on the social media site. They are reacting to what appears to be another mass exodus of Twitter workers. Many employees decided to leave the company at close of business on Thursday after new Twitter boss Elon Musk gave them an ultimatum. Commit to extremely hardcore work or leave. One employee said they got an email on Thursday saying the company's offices will be temporarily closed and badge access will be restricted through Monday.


CNN senior business media reporter Oliver Darcy explains why some lawmakers are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Twitter and how some employees feel about the chaos of the company.


OLIVER DARCY, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Some of them feel cursed that they weren't laid off with the initial layoff a couple of weeks ago when Elon executed mass cuts at the company. And so, they're seemingly ready to just take the three months of severance and find a job elsewhere if they can. I will say everyone I spoke to basically plans on leaving. But one person told me that they will stay because change comes from the inside, they explained, not the outside.

A number of other Senators are asking the FTC to look at Twitter to make sure they're not in violation of consumer protection laws. Which they're concerned that Twitter might be right now. And they point to the Twitter blue rollout where people could impersonate other individuals on the platform pretty easily. All read part of what they said. They write --

We urge the commission to vigorously oversee its consent decree with Twitter and to bring enforcement actions against any breaches or business practices that are unfair or deceptive including bringing civil penalties and imposing liability on individual Twitter executives where appropriate.

I should note, the FTC said earlier last week, I believe, that they were deeply concerned with some of the changes that Twitter has made. So, we'll see what happens here.


FOSTER: Well, CNN will have more coverage of Twitter in the coming hour on "EARLY START."

Still ahead on this program, world leaders are meeting in Thailand for the APEC Summit. But the focus has turned to North Korea after another provocation from Kim Jong-un.

Plus, one of the most watched sporting events in the world has the host country Qatar under the microscope. The World Cup is just days away. It's controversies overshadow the tournament.

And the word from Poland about when it's investigation into a deadly missile blast would be complete. Stay with us.



FOSTER: The list of countries condemning North Korea latest missile test is growing. Pyongyang fired an intercontinental ballistic missile early today that flew for about a thousand kilometers or 600 miles. Japan's Prime Minister says it fell in the sea inside his country's exclusive economic zone. It's the second ICBM test by North Korea this month and the 34th day of missile launches this year. Pyongyang fired a short-range missile on Thursday.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris convened an emergency meeting of world leaders at the APEC Summit in Indonesia to discuss the launch. She called it a brazen violation of UN Security Council resolutions and urged North Korea to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also attending that summit. He took a few shots at the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region is no one's backyard and should not become an arena for big power contests. CNN's Will Ripley is following developments live this hour in Bangkok. It's one thing to have another one of these tests but also, some discoordination around the response.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, you know, because this test is happening as the APEC Summit is here in Bangkok and many of the world leaders including the Chinese President Xi Jinping, the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Prime Minister Kishida of Japan, President Yoon of South Korea, Jacinda Arden, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, they're all here. As so, they actually had an opportunity within the last couple of hours to hold an emergency meeting and discuss what needs to be done here.

But the reality is, Max, there's very little that actually they can do because North Korea is flagrantly defying these U.N. Security Council resolutions, every time they launch a ballistic missile. They've launched around 50 this year and they don't really care to be frank. Because they're not engaged in diplomacy with the West at the moment. China and Russia's response is muted and neutral at best so they're not really concerned about any sort of harsh blowback from this. Even though the U.S. VP Kamala Harris, you know, along with the other world leaders that she met with -- six in total -- they did issue a statement strongly condemning this launch. But at the U.N. China and Russia have permanent veto power and they haven't been able to, you know, step up the sanctions regime successfully yet. They haven't even be able to get a coordinated joint statement from the entire U.N. Security Council because China and Russia won't sign it.

And so, this is the -- this is the situation that Kim finds himself in. He's essentially insulated from any serious consequences, so he's been launching missiles this year at a truly unprecedented pace. When you talk about 34 missile launch events that in and of itself is a huge number. But when you consider that on some of those days there were literally dozens of missiles launched. You had around 80 missiles in total launched over the period of just a few days, a matter of weeks ago. And this is when the U.S. and South Korea joint military drills were happening.

And so, we expect really, frankly, to just see more of the same. The same kind of cycle repeating. And with this ICBM launch that could basically hit the mainland of the United States theoretically, the game, the stakes have just gotten higher with this test -- Max.

FOSTER: OK, Will, back with you for updates of course. Thank you.

We are now just two days away, would you believe, from the World Cup. Just two days away, would you believe from the World Cup in Qatar. The tournament will kick off Sunday when the host nation will face off with Ecuador in the opening match. But the world's premiere football event, of course, is mired in controversy off the pitch before it's even started. CNN's World Sport anchor Amanda Davies talks with CNN's senior sports analyst Darren Lewis in Doha about the controversies in the upcoming match. Let's take a look.


AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Here we are now just two days out from the big kickoff, Qatar 2022. Darren and I are here on a busy night. Darren, this is your first trip to Doha. DARREN LEWIS, CNN SENIOR SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, it is.

DAVIES: There certainly been much talk about World Cup, hasn't it?


How is reality compared to what you were expecting so far?

LEWIS: Well, it's not been too bad I have to say. I mean, you cannot and we must not forget all of the related issues around this World Cup. But when you're on the ground you get a sense of the excitement, the anticipation. You get a sense of the color, the culture, the charisma that surrounds this World Cup.

DAVIES: There is no doubt there has been huge controversy, hasn't there, in the sense of human rights issues. The statements of migrant workers, the LGBTQ+ community. What do you think will happen when the football starts in terms of those conversations?

LEWIS: I don't think those conversations would stop. And I know you know they shouldn't stop. You know, they should continue. They should be relevant. They should be at the forefront. And I expect a lot of the protests that we've seen so far to continue. I expect to hear a lot of the voices getting louder because we know what happens and what has happened in the past that once the football has started all of the other issues have moved to one side. But this is too important. And it's been too much on which this whole thing has been built. And that has to stay centerstage.

DAVIES: So, in terms of the football, what do you think -- there's the thing talked about Garrett said to me, he sees it as one of the most open World Cups in a very, very long time. Is it going to be the established names looking for that final hurrah, the likes of Messi, Lewandowski, Reinaldo.

LEWIS: I think you might well be aware, I mean, Messi obviously arrives at this World Cup with 22 goals in 23 games. His Argentina side are undefeated in the last 35 matches. But then Brazilians have one of the strongest sides they've had squads that they've never had.

DAVIES: Speaking of Argentina.

LEWIS: Speaking of Argentina, absolutely. And they will represent (INAUDIBLE). Lionel is good on this. He really crafted a fabulous squad in which Messi is able to express himself. And World Cups are about big names.

DAVIES: Well, one of the teams, not many people know too much about, is of course the host. What a moment for them. They kick the tournament off on Sunday against Ecuador. Their third ever match at a World Cup finals with the eyes of the world watching not only the footballing week.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: Well, Amanda joins us now live from Doha, Qatar. Just tell me what the atmosphere is like? Lots of complaints that it's an expensive place to visit, perhaps the crowds won't be there. Are they there yet? Do you expect the crowds to be there?

DAVIES (on camera): Yes, I mean, I have to say from what we saw last night in souk, Max, which is just behind me, there are a large number of fans here already. We saw representatives from Morocco, a very vocal Tunisian crowd, the Argentina fans, we saw a few England fans. What we don't know as yet with still a couple of days out from the tournament, now how many of these are local fans who have been here. A large African diaspora contingents of course based here in Qatar already.

But the number that is being touted about is 1.2 million people expected to descend on Doha over the next five weeks. Just to put that into context, this is a country with a population of 2.3 million. So, half of the population arriving again and that is one of the big question marks for the organizers. The stress testing ahead of this tournament hasn't been able to take place up to this point because of the impact of COVID-19.

A lot of the usual events have been canceled. It is a Friday so the weekend's here which is why the souk behind us at the moment is very, very quiet but the atmosphere in the souk and around last night was fantastic.

Has to say though, Max, it feels from where I'm sitting as a journalist a very different feeling with two days to go compared to the likes of Germany in 2006. We're sitting outside in Brazil in 2014 because of the controversies around the build up to this tournament. But has been there since that now infamous day in December in 2010, in Zurich when Sepp Blatter called out Qatar's name so controversially from that envelope giving the Middle East their first ever World Cup.

And what we've seen from the teams, from the journalists, those conversations around the issues of human rights, LGBTQ+ communities, workers' rights. Women here in Qatar, they are not going to end any time soon despite what FIFA were hoping when they sent that controversial letter to the 32 participating nations just a week or so ago saying now is the time to stick to football -- Max.

FOSTER: Well, that's the interesting thing, isn't it, often controversy before these World Cups and it stops once the football starts but it may be different on this occasion. We'll see. Amanda, thank you very much.

Now Poland is moving ahead with its investigation into a deadly missile that flew over from Ukraine.