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A.G. Garland Names Special Counsel To Oversee Trump Probes; Twitter Closes Offices, Suspends Employee Access Amid Exodus; Still No Suspects Or Motive In The Stabbing Deaths Of Four University Of Idaho Students; Six Feet Of Snow Hits Western NY Amid "Historic" Snowfall; UVA Holds Public Memorial For Students Killed, Injured In Shooting. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 19, 2022 - 15:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

It was a decision prompted by, quote, "extraordinary circumstances." That is how Attorney General Merrick Garland is describing the appointment of Jack Smith, a former war crimes prosecutor and registered independent, to be the special counsel to oversee two criminal probes involving former President Donald Trump. Both the investigation into sensitive government documents found at Mar-a-Lago, as well as Trump's actions surrounding the January 6th attack.

Garland explaining the move was necessary now that Trump has announced he's running for president again and Joe Biden stayed in attention to run for president as well. You can imagine the former president's response, and here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts. They want to do bad things to the greatest movement in the history of our country but in particular bad things to me. This is a rigged deal just as the 2020 election was rigged. And we can't let them get away with it.

The House Republicans announced they were going to investigate the Bidens and the Justice Department announces right after that they're going to investigate Trump. Over the years I have given millions and millions of pages of documents, tax returns and everything else. And they have found nothing, which means I have proven to be one of the most honest and innocent people ever in your country.


ACOSTA: CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz joins me now.

Katelyn, what will this investigation look like and what's next for Trump? KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well,

Jim, this is a special counsel who is a competitive athlete, and he's going to hit the ground running. I mean, that's the best way to describe it. Right now in these investigations we already know there is a lot happening leading up to this appointment and what's going to happen in the next couple of weeks is they're going to be witnesses coming into the grand jury.

We know that several people in these top circles around Donald Trump are being pressed for information right now in the next couple of weeks. There's testimony dates being given out. We know there is a team that Jack Smith already has in place. Both a team investigating the Mar-a-Lago documents case and a separate team looking at the January 6th possible obstruction of Congress. And so those people are going to move into a dedicated office under Smith.

Here's what Smith said in a statement last night sent through the Justice Department. He's currently in the Netherlands but coming back here as soon as he can. He said, "I intend to conduct the assigned investigations and any prosecutions that may result from them, independently and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice. The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch. I will exercise independent judgment and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictates."

So clearly the pace of this is top of mind both for Smith and for the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland made mention of that as well, that they don't want things to slow down too much. So we're just going to have to wait and see how quickly things move and what sort of decision Smith is going to be making.

ACOSTA: Yes, the statement seems to indicate that he is saying that this is not going to slow things down, which of course people worry just plays into Trump's playbook of delay, delay, delay.

Katelyn Polantz, thanks as always. We appreciate it.

Joining me now to talk about this, David Frum, staff writer at "The Atlantic" and special correspondent for "Vanity Fair," Molly Jong- Fast, she is the host of the podcast "Fast Politics with Molly Jong- Fast."

David, let me start with you first. Great to have you both on.

David, could this end up -- let me start with you first, Molly, actually just in case David is frozen there. We'll see if we can unfreeze him. But, Molly, this new special counsel, the team there, they seem to be saying, no, no, no. This is not going to slow things down because obviously, you know, there's always the concern that Trump is just going to try to drag this out as he does with everything else. What's your sense of it?

MOLLY JONG-FAST, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: I mean, the hope is that they've been working this whole time. I think a lot of Americans are kind of sick of special counsels. You'll remember Robert Mueller. But I think the hope is that the DOJ takes this documents case very, very seriously. And remember, there's also, you know, the case in Georgia. And there's a grand jury put together there. And the case in New York.

So I do think that there's, like, a lot -- you know, Trump is going to be a legal defendant for the rest of his life. But certainly I think there's a lot of anxiety, especially because we have seen Trump down before. And, you know, 2015 he was polling at 1 percent. So I think there is a lot of anxiety there.

ACOSTA: And, David, I mean, could this help Trump potentially? Could this be playing into his hands in that he wants to be seen as a martyr in the eyes of Republicans?


I mean, at this announcement that he made several days ago, he was calling himself a victim and so on. Does this potentially play into his hands? What do you think?

DAVID FRUM, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, it creates a tremendous conflict for his fellow Republicans who dearly want to see the back of him and are very much hoping that the legal process is the way to see the back of him. But they all have their selfish incentives to pretend to be his friend and to pretend to be outraged. I've mocked this attitude among Republicans as the only way we can stop Trump is for none of us to do anything to stop Trump. But --

ACOSTA: And David froze again. But he completed a thought there. So that's good.

Molly, let me go back to you. And we'll try to get David unfrozen again. This happens in this age of Zoom interviews. But, Molly, David was talking about Republicans just being able to quit Trump and letting go of Trump. It just so happens we've gotten some new sound from Republicans who are letting loose on Trump. This just came in earlier today. Let's take a listen and talk about it.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: We keep losing and losing and losing. And the fact of the matter is the reason we're losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.

GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I've got a great policy for the Republican Party. Let's stop supporting crazy unelectable candidates in our primaries and start getting behind winners that can close the deal in November


ACOSTA: So that's Governor Sununu and former Governor Christie there at the Republican Jewish Coalition event taking place in Washington this weekend.

Molly, your reaction to that. Wishful thinking? JONG-FAST: So Republicans have a base problem, right? They have a base

that got very high on Trumpism and loved it and galvanized. And that's why their primaries delivered these unelectable candidates, right? So here's the thing. Now they have to find a way to win back their base. They have to offer them something. And the base loves Trump. And they love Kari Lake. Unfortunately for the Republican Party, that's not enough to get elected in a general election except in a very, very red state.

So if you want to actually win stuff, you need candidates who don't totally alienate independents. And I don't know how you get the base off Trumpism. They love it. They love the events. They love whatever. I mean, there's so many parts of it that have, you know, that have appealed to them. So I don't know. I mean, unless you can get the base to want to support someone normal, you're stuck.

And I think that that calculus -- remember, these people have still never stood up to Trump. Even now, right, they didn't stand up with the racism, they didn't stand up with the rioting, they didn't stand up with anything.

ACOSTA: Right.

JONG-FAST: But now that they see that he can't get elected they still are having trouble standing up.

ACOSTA: Right. It seems to be that until somebody takes the party away from Trump, it's just not going to happen. And impersonating Trump is certainly I don't think going to get anybody the GOP nomination.

And David, you wrote an article for "The Atlantic" and you liken what's happening with Republicans and Trump right now to the ancient Greek tale about the minotaur. You say, quote, "Theoretically the hero could have waited for the monster to get bored and voluntarily retired from the monster business. But that is just an excuse for letting the monster win. Monsters don't get bored. They don't retire. Those who will not fight and defeat the monster suffer humiliation and destruction by the monster."

David, it's all Greek to me. But can you expand on that?

FRUM: Well, the first step that these Republicans have to do is to confirm the legitimacy of the legal process. They don't have to like it. When they're asked to join Trump's martyr campaign, they have to say no comment. This is a pending matter. We trust the Department of Justice. We have to wait to see how the process plays out. No comment, no comment, no comment. That's all they have to day. Just not subvert the Department of Justice.

If that happens, it will communicate to their followers. This is real justice. And we don't know how it will play out but we are not going to join Trump in his martyr show.

ACOSTA: And Molly, you know, meantime, House Republicans are already outlining plans to investigate President Biden in the next Congress. They say they are likely to investigate Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, Hunter Biden, the Afghanistan withdrawal, COVID, and the Justice Department investigation of Trump. They left off a partridge and a pear tree. But what do you think? How do Democrats deal with that?

JONG-FAST: Well, they have this very slim, right, Republicans still are at 218. Maybe they've gotten to 219 now. They have this incredibly slim majority. So they are taking a real chance here, right.


I mean, they are hostages to the Marjorie Taylor base just like, you know, these other Republicans are hostages to Trump. And so I think it will be interesting to see if they can. I mean, look, they think the base wants them to target, you know, Hunter Biden's laptop. But remember the sort of middle, the independents don't like this at all. So you could see the next two years could ultimately really help Democrats.

ACOSTA: And, David, is Marjorie Taylor Greene going to be the defacto -- go ahead.

FRUM: Some of these are legitimate good investigations to have. Why was the administration surprised by the collapse of the Afghanistan resistance? That's exactly the kind of thing that Congress should be digging into and pressing the administration about. It's not crazy to say was the COVID response too much or too little? Those are reasonable things to debate. Some of these things are noncrazy.

Where it gets crazy is when you begin to say what we're going to do is investigate the president for being too indulgent a father.

ACOSTA: Yes. But, I mean, Molly, does this make Marjorie Taylor Greene the defacto speaker?

JONG-FAST: Well, she certainly has a group of very vocal Republicans in the House. And she knows how to wield that power. And remember, she was out sort of campaigning for Kevin McCarthy before that first vote. So I do think she's going to have a lot of power. And the few sane Republicans in the House who are left, and there are not many of them, are going to find themselves in a real pickle.

Will they go along with this kind of -- you know, the Hunter Biden's laptop investigations or will they decide that they want to defect to Democrats. And you could see -- I mean, it's not impossible, right? Just because the base is hostage to this, you know, MAGA caucus doesn't mean the rest of the Republican Party is.

ACOSTA: Very true. And I think David was just alluding to that as well.

David, Molly, it's all the time we have. Great discussion. Thanks again. We'll do it again sometime. Really appreciate it.

And former President Trump may soon be back on Twitter. Owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, is hosting a poll on his feed on whether to reinstate the former president's account. This comes after he unbanned several controversial accounts including Kathy Griffin and podcaster Jordan Peterson. All of Twitter's offices are currently closed and badge access has been suspended. A mass exodus is also under way after Elon Musk's ultimatum to staff to work, quote, "extremely hardcore or leave." But then suddenly yesterday Musk called the company's software engineers to its headquarters for an urgent meeting.

With me now is Kara Swisher, "New York Times" opinion contributing writer and host of the "On with Kara Swisher" podcast.

Kara, you know Elon Musk. You covered him for years. Last weekend your co-host Scott Galloway told us here on this show on your Pivot podcast that he wouldn't be surprised if Twitter went down in the next week. Are we going to see that -- what was it, the whale with the little birds holding it up in the air?


ACOSTA: The Fail Whale.

SWISHER: The Fail Whale. Yes. That was years ago.

ACOSTA: Is that happening?

SWISHER: That happened -- no, not right now. I mean, these systems are very resilient. I think people are panicking a little bit about that because what could happen is if he starts to push real changes that could cause a problem. If there's a mass amount of people there like for the World Cup, that could cause a problem. If someone makes a mistake that could cause a problem. There's just not a lot of people.

What you're going to see is a lot of problems on the edges. Like you can't -- if you have two-factor authentication and you sign off, you can't sign back on or if you want to get your archives, it's very hard to get it because they're just moving slowly, if you get it at all anymore. And so that's the kind of thing you're going to see. Or accounts aren't right. Or like they brought Kathy Griffin back but she seems to have lost all her followers. You know, things like that that just never happened before.

Wholesale collapse, it certainly could happen because of fewer people. But there are systems and backup systems. He's just making it riskier for that to happen

ACOSTA: And what are you hearing from employees still left at Twitter about what's happening inside the company, people being locked out and given mixed messages and so on? How do you -- I mean, this is no way to run a railroad, I think.

SWISHER: I think they think he's manic and don't know what to do. Some of them can't leave because they are on visas or they might have personal issues, and things like that. A lot of people left on this hardcore sign -- for hardcore or else kind of thing. I think a thousand people left. And they already had cut it in half to 3700. That's a lot of people. Now lots of these tech companies are shedding workers because they

over hired. And Twitter has been famous for that. That said, he did it kind of indiscriminately and just all at once because he has some notion in his head that he's a blind chemotherapy to this company. Sure. I just think chemotherapy is also poison. And so that's really one of the problems. It's happening. He doesn't quite know what's going on.

He's doing a lot of performative stuff about technology, like he showed a picture that's not a code review. It's just how the structure of Twitter works. And things like that.


So he is going to keep marketing it to cause people to pay attention. And numbers are up because everybody likes a traffic accident.

ACOSTA: So the numbers are up. And this is working for Musk what he is doing right now, do you think?

SWISHER: I don't think this is good marketing. But, you know, everybody looks at it. Like Donald Trump knows that. If you make a noise, you can raise money, you can get attention, you can get the media fixated on you. And it only helps Twitter in that regard. I don't think it helps it for the good. It's not saying why it's a good place to be. It's just saying what a crazy person is running this. What is he going to do next? Like a poll for Trump, or whatever he does, whatever he tweets.

ACOSTA: And how sensitive is Musk to criticism? I mean, you recently got an e-mail from him personally, right?


ACOSTA: About some of the tweets that you had sent. What did he say what's on there?

SWISHER: Well, we've been going back for a few years. I've covered him for 20 years or more. And so he just was angry about a tweet, the thing I re-tweeted from the "Washington Post" that said Elon is going to Elon. I'm honestly not sure what sets him off. So it's like that. It's just manic. And maybe he'll start talking to me again. I don't know. He's just like. He's very much -- he's very thin skinned, like a lot of tech people.

And it's all well and good while you're agreeing with them. But it's when you push back, there's something wrong with you. And so -- it's always performative, Jim. It really is. I mean, someone called it snarketing. That's what he's doing. It's not marking. It's snarky marketing so snarketing is what's happening here.

ACOSTA: Yes. And speaking of that, I mean, he has this poll on reinstating Trump. I was at the White House. I'm old enough to remember the day when Trump was yanked off of Twitter. I suppose this is one popular vote that Trump may win. But what does Elon Musk do at that point? I suppose he's going to put Trump back on Twitter. Trump has said he's not really interested in getting back on Twitter whether or not -- those are his true feelings. We don't know but that's what he said.

SWISHER: It's all of performative, Jim. This whole thing is performative. Of course he is going to put him back on. And by the way, he was supposed to be on moderation council and he put people back on. Anything he says just take with a large grain of salt. And he'll do what he wants. He owns it. He's the owner. He owes a lot of money. That's one of the big issues that's pressing down on him is that in April he has a big payment due.

Now he's very wealthy and he may just throw more money at it. And he has a lot of rich friends. Banker may let him off but nonetheless he's got to ultimately run a business and have products that people like to use. And that's what you should be focused on. The rest of this is hand waving, it's sort of jazz hands from a billionaire essentially.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, you know, this is one of those things, you know, like my parents, they're not on Twitter. I suppose there are a lot of folks out there --

SWISHER: Nobody is.

ACOSTA: Exactly. And so I'm wondering, you know, is this something that you and I and folks in our world sort of make a big deal out of that doesn't really have that big an effect on everybody else? And the other question I have is, and forgive me for sandwiching these two questions together.


ACOSTA: Why can't somebody come up with a Twitter that is a good thing for the world? You know what I mean?

SWISHER: Well --

ACOSTA: Like where we could go out there and share information, share news. I mean, Twitter is a great thing for local news outlets, newspapers, that sort of thing.


ACOSTA: So two questions there. What do you think?

SWISHER: Let me start with the latter. There's lots of people working on them. I'm helping out a guy named Noam Bardin who started Waze. He started this thing called Post. News. It's focused on news. And people who have differing opinions. He's invited lots of people like that in. There's lots of people starting things. There's Mastodon. There's not just that. But lots of people are trying to figure out how to do this again because it's an opportunity if Elon fails here.

Twitter is a great brand. That's one thing. But it punches way above its weight. Most people don't use it. It's media and political. You know, Marjorie Taylor Greene loves it just as much as you do, Jim, right. They love the thing and uses it for communication. ACOSTA: Maybe more.

SWISHER: Probably. And so I think it's just -- it has a little echo chamber. And in that way it's powerful because the powerful use it. Celebrities have dropped off a lot more because it's too messy. Advertisers don't want anything to do with this thing right now. And so it does punch above its weight and occupies a big -- it lives rent free in the head of media and politicians. And so that's why it's important. And again it's a great product when it's great. When it's not, it's cesspool so that's what you got here is the bar that's getting a little dicey for a lot of people.

ACOSTA: Yes. All right. Well, we'll be on the lookout for that Fail Whale in the coming days, Kara.


ACOSTA: But in the meantime --

SWISHER: It's coming. It probably is coming. But we'll see.

ACOSTA: Any time you want to come on this old-fashioned technology called the TV, we're happy --

SWISHER: Yes, you're very antiquated, Jim. It's really, it's amazing. You and your two-wheel bicycle and stuff like that. Anyway, thank you.

ACOSTA: With training wheels. All right, Kara Swisher, thanks so much. Appreciate it. Great talking to you.

All right, coming up, we're going to switch gears. The situation in Idaho, this gruesome mystery there that investigators are looking into. Four University of Idaho students likely stabbed in their sleep. No suspects in custody. No weapon found. We'll take you live to Idaho as the community is reeling and police are desperately searching for answers.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: New details in the horrific stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students. Police revealing they were likely asleep before being attacked. Their bodies found on the second and third floors of the house. The coroner telling CNN there was, quote, "lots of blood on the wall."

As CNN's Veronica Miracle reports, police have also released a detailed timeline of the students' movements in the hours before they were killed.


KAYLEE GONCALVES, UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO STUDENT: Did anybody do their chores today? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it, I'm just going to do it.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Video of three of the University of Idaho stabbing victims posted on Kaylee Goncalves' TikTok account shows the roommates all pretending to be each other, giving a glimpse of their friendship and their lives together in the three-story house just weeks before they were brutally murdered.

On the night of the murders, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were at the Sigma Kai Fraternity at the University of Idaho between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.


Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves visited a local sports bar from 10:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., then a food truck around 1:40 a.m. Police releasing a map showing those exact locations for the first time, hoping new leads will break the case.

AARON SNELL, IDAHO STATE POLICE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: We believe that releasing information about the location of the victims throughout the night might generate some information that we can follow up on.

MIRACLE: Police say all of the victims were home by 1:45 a.m. Their bodies found on the second and third floors of the home.

(On-camera): Is the first floor where the roommates were sleeping?

SNELL: Yes. We have not identified where the roommates were.

MIRACLE (voice-over): But the biggest question is who killed them and why. There are still no suspects.

SNELL: We still contend that this was targeted. We cannot divulge the information of why we believe that or how. That is integral to this investigation.

MIRACLE: Police are clarifying why they are not releasing more information about the victims' roommates who were at home during the attacks.

SNELL: In a case someone may potentially be a victim, they may be a witness, or they may be a suspect. In this case we don't know what the roommates are exactly at this time.

MIRACLE: Xana Kernodle's father saying he talked to his daughter the night she died.

JEFFREY KERNODLE, VICTIM'S FATHER: I heard from her just before we went out, I think midnight is the last time I heard from her, and she was fine. They were just hanging out at home.

MIRACLE: Her father, too distraught to be interviewed on camera, saying he has learned his daughter had defensive wounds, showing she fought her attacker.

KERNODLE: Bruises, you know, maybe occurred by the knife or whatever. She is a tough kid. Whatever she wanted to do, she could do it.

MIRACLE: The county coroner confirmed to CNN that some of the students likely had defensive stab wounds to the hands and there were no signs of sexual assault or an issue of drugs or alcohol.

(On-camera): But each student had multiple stab wounds?

CATHY MABBUTT, LATAH COUNTY CORONER: That's correct. That's really the main thing that I saw was a lot of blood.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The victims' friends and co-workers say now they just want to honor their memories.

IRELAND DUNNING, CO-WORKER OF VICTIMS: They just brought light to the room that they were in. They were always positive.

MIRACLE (on-camera): Police say there were no signs of forced entry into the home, and now Xana Kernodle's father telling our affiliate that in order to get inside the house, you either have to know the door code to get in through the front or go through the sliding glass door in the back. So he presumes that whoever did this knew how to get inside the home.

Veronica Miracle, CNN, Moscow, Idaho.


ACOSTA: And joining me now, former senior FBI profiler, Mary Ellen O'Toole.

Mary Ellen, thank you for being with us. We've learned a slew of new details. According to the local authorities, the victims were likely asleep when they were attacked. They had multiple stab wounds, including defensive injuries. Their bodies were found on the second and third floors of the house. What are you making of all of these details?

MARY ELLEN O'TOOLE, FORMER SENIOR FBI PROFILER: So let me take those point by point. I did hear the report that they were likely asleep in their beds. That may not be accurate. They may have been in their beds but some of them may not have been asleep. And that could account for the defensive injuries. They woke up as the attacks started. And then secondly, the thing that keeps coming back over and over again is that this was a targeted attack. And for me as a behavioral scientist that has significant meaning.

And one of the ways that we would determine if a victim was targeted, especially if there was a group that was attacked, is to look at whether or not there was one victim who was singled out. In other words, were their injuries different? Were they more excessive? Was there -- I hate to be that graphic, but were they positioned after the offender left the house? Was there writing on the wall?

So if one person has been singled out, that may be where they're coming up with the term targeted. But nonetheless that does not diminish the dangerousness of this individual. And so I think that there was a misunderstanding when that was first said because you're targeting the offender as less dangerous and that's simply not true.

ACOSTA: And what would you be asking the two roommates who were at home as these killings took place?

O'TOOLE: Certainly. I would, number one, interview them separately of course. And I'm sure that that is what they've done. And then I would ask them what they heard, what they smelled, what they were doing at that time. So I'd have them walk me through all of that. And then I would also ask them about people coming around the house shortly before the attacks. What do they recall, sounds, smells, that kind of information to be able to make the determination if they were in the house.

But could they have heard something, or was that not even possible? I have had cases before where there have been survivors in the house. And the general public thinks, well, they should have heard or seen something. That's not necessarily so.


So these two survivors can be extremely traumatized by what happened. So they really have to be approached very sensitively.

ACOSTA: And the police say there's no motive that they are disclosing yet, no murder weapon that they're disclosing yet, no sign of forced entry.

One thing we did learn from the sister of one of the victims is the door was opened using a numerical code.

Let's listen to that.


ALIVEA GONCALVES, SISTER OF SLAIN COLLEGE STUDENT KAYLEE GONCALVES: There's that door. There's also a backsliding door. And I will say, yes, there's that key padlock on it. And my sister was absolutely a door locker.

This was the party house. It's been generations. So I won't say they were very private with that code.


ACOSTA: What does all of that tell you?

O'TOOLE: That tells me a couple of things. That tells me that the offender or offenders, they -- someone that is comfortable coming into a house occupied in the middle of the night.

It also suggests there was some familiarity with that house. There were several ways to enter and exit that home. There may have been prior entry into the home and the victims were not aware of it. That's number one.

But then, number two, with the weapon, that is probably a weapon of choice. And when you see a knife being used in an attack like this, it is not a very efficient weapon.

It can kill people, but it's also a weapon that can be taken away from you as the offender. The offender likely cut themselves on the knife because blood can be very slippery. So it's not really an efficient weapon. But, nonetheless, that's what the offender used.

So this is a knife, a weapon they are comfortable with and they probably used it in other circumstances. And I'm not suggesting other murders.

It's a weapon they're comfortable with, which may be the reason they took it away from the crime scene with them.

ACOSTA: Right. And then there's this video of two of the victims at a food truck just hours before their deaths.

As they wait for their meals to come out, they are chatting with people, having a pretty normal night. This is at 1:41 in the morning. They're out late, I guess.

But what stands out to you?

O'TOOLE: A couple of things. And I think it needs to be clarified what it means targeted. A victim can be targeted days or weeks before an attack. Which means there's more time in there for the offender to learn more about the victim. That is really helpful for investigators.

However, I have certainly had cases where the offender targets the victim maybe minutes before the attack occurs. In other words, there's no relationship, no history there.

They see them at a public place. They decide that's going to be the person they attack. At that point, the victim is targeted.

The time in which the targeting took place is very important. I'm sure investigators are making that distinction between the two. Because this doesn't have to be someone the victims necessarily knew or knew for a long period of time.

And the motivation is there. They are ruling out sexual assault. But, again, based on my experience with these kinds of cases, sexual assault in a case may not be as obvious as people may think.

And it can be demonstrated at a crime scene in different ways. So, for example, there are people that are very sexually aroused by stabbing other people. So there could be elements of sexual assault there but it's not obvious.

ACOSTA: All right. A lot to think about.

Mary Ellen O'Toole, thank you very much for that expertise. We appreciate it.

O'TOOLE: You're welcome.

ACOSTA: Up next, six feet of snow. That's how much has fallen across western New York in the past few days. The historic snowfall is threatening infrastructure and travel. We'll have more next.


You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: In Raleigh, North Carolina, a pedestrian was injured during a parade by an out-of-control float truck. Thankfully, nobody was killed.

The video is of the accident though is frightening. You can see a white truck with a float drifting toward people, who are running to get out of the way. An eyewitness tells CNN affiliate, WTVD, that people started screaming there on the scene.

Police told the affiliate that it appears the truck did hit a young girl and she is seriously injured. We'll be keeping you apprised as the developments come in. We'll stay on top of that.

In the meantime, a gigantic snowstorm is hammering western New York State. Up to six feet has fallen in some areas, including Orchard Park, home to Buffalo Bills. Roads are shutdown. Driving bans and states of emergencies in effect.

New York Mayor Kathy Hochul has called in the National Guard to help stranded residents. It is a mess.

And speaking of that, this is what folks in that part of country really care about. Tomorrow's Buffalo Bills game against the Cleveland Browns has been moved to Detroit.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Buffalo, New York, for us.

Polo, braving the elements for us. Thanks as always.

And I can see the snow piled up behind you. There's a lot of it.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You would think you had a snowstorm blowing through here, right, Jim?


SANDOVAL: We're in the heart of downtown Buffalo here. This kind of gives you an idea what folks have had to deal with all of today.

You see that system, that storm band, snow band basically shifted north overnight. And the result was Buffalo got its share of snow. Certainly not what the communities south of here received.


You mentioned about six and a half feet of snow. In some areas of western New York, some areas, as you sort of take all of this in, either approached and, in some cases, for example, at the Buffalo Airport, even exceeded their daily snow amount records there. So records were certainly set.

Anytime you say it's snowing in Buffalo, that's hardly a headline. However, what we have seen the last 48 hours in and around the area, that is concerning officials.

Including New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who is from here. She said this has been a life-threatening event in some cases. Sadly, two people lost their lives. They suffered heart attacks while clearing snow yesterday.

So officials want to limit the -- any potential loss of life here. So what they are doing is calling on folks to stay off the streets.

Here where we are the roads are fairly passable. They have improved significantly to the point they have been able to downgrade the travel ban, now just a travel advisory for where we are, north of where we are.

But just south of our location, that's where the travel ban is still in place. Basically, if folks do not need to be out, to stay home. Only essential travel.

Another reason, Jim, as we send things back to you, for folks to stay indoors tomorrow as they root on their Buffalo Bills as they take on Cleveland in Detroit and not here as it was supposed to go down.

ACOSTA: All right. We were just showing that video a few months ago of what was going on in Orchard Park where the Buffalo Bills would have played football had they --


ACOSTA: Let's show this one more time.


ACOSTA: Now, Polo, maybe I'm just being selfish here. I would liked to have seen a football game played in these elements. I mean, come on. It would have been fun.

SANDOVAL: I've got to tell you, there's some disappointment. We saw a few years back, whenever the Buffalo Bills were actually having a game in the middle of a blizzard, it almost fueled the excitement.

However, there were really tough decisions the NFL and the team had to make, which is to limit any sort of safety risk. Let's move the game out of here. And hopefully, the Buffalo Bills will bring back a victory. We will have to see.

ACOSTA: We'll have to see. We have to keep the fans safe, of course.

All right, Polo Sandoval, thanks as always. We appreciate it.

Right now, the University of Virginia is holding a public memorial for the three students as they were shot and killed as they returned from a school field trip. We'll take you live to Charlottesville and the continued search for answers in that heartbroken community. That is next. Stay with us.



ACOSTA: Right now, the University of Virginia is holding a public memorial service for the three UVA football players killed in a mass shooting at the school last weekend.

They had just returned from a class field trip when police say a classmate opened fire on their bus. Two other students were also shot and injured.

CNN's Joe Johns is on the UVA campus in Charlottesville.

Joe, I know there's so much pain and heartache there in that community. What have you been picking up?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Devastating on so many levels, Jim, it is absolutely hard to describe. We've already heard, in this program that just got started, from the university president, also director now. A prayer from the Cavalier's team kicker is expected next.

Just to give you a sense of what is going on here, really a sign of the times. On the right, they have put up the metal detectors for people going in. The university taking no chances.

On the left over here, the pictures and the names of the three players, D'Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavel Davis.

And inside the arena, though, is where you really get a sense of the effect of this on the student body. We have seen people crying and hugging in the hallways.

And walking into the arena just, if you can imagine thousands and thousands of mostly students sitting one next to the other, and no one hardly talking. This university is absolutely stunned.

And also we cannot forget about the fourth player who was shot. His name is Mike Hollins. His mother spoke with CNN just last night.


BRENDA HOLLINS, MOTHER OF MIKE HOLLINS: I'm thankful because -- I could be one of the other boys' parents and making preparations to proceed their sons' bodies. I couldn't imagine. I couldn't imagine.


JOHNS: The suspect in the shootings continues to be locked up. Chris Jones is his name, 23 years old. He turned 23 in jail last week -- Jim? ACOSTA: Joe Johns, just an absolute tragedy. Your heart has to go out

to everybody in Charlottesville. It's so sad what has occurred there. The community, though, they're pulling together.

Joe Johns on the UVA campus. Thanks very much for that report. We appreciate it.

Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was a rising star in the Democratic Party when she was shot at a political event in 2011. A new CNN film tells her inspiring comeback story.


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.




GIFFORDS: Now I'm giving speeches again.


GIFFORDS: I am studying for my bat mitzvah.


GIFFORDS: And I'm riding my bike more, 25 miles in Tucson.


ACOSTA: Inspiring. "GABBY GIFFORDS WON'T BACK DOWN" airs tomorrow night at 9:00, only on CNN.



ACOSTA: Now, it's time to meet one of the top-10 CNN heroes of 2022.


CARI BROECKER, CNN HERO: Peace of Mind Dog Rescue has a dual mission, helping senior dogs and senior people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a Peace of Mind dog now.

BROECKER: We take in dogs from senior citizens who can no longer care for them or who have passed away. And we also take in senior dogs from animal shelters.

Yes, definitely, a Peace of Mind dog.

We have found homes for almost 3,000 dogs. And we have helped close to 2,000 senior citizens.


BROECKER: In our society, sometimes the elderly, whether that is senior people or senior dogs, get ignored. And so we really want to cherish all of life.