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Jack Smith Named as Special Counsel in DOJ Trump Investigations; Two Men Arrested and Charged with Threatening New York City Synagogue; U.S. Running Low on Key Weapons, Ammunition for Ukraine. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired November 19, 2022 - 19:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have gone up tremendously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I mean, inflation, everything is so expensive, and it's just feel good that the community come out and fill that void to make Thanksgiving special for your family and friends.

ROMERO (on-camera): Organizers tell me it's a twofold problem, first you had the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted food and security. They were already seeing in the area and now you have inflation, bringing those grocery prices sky-high.

Nadia Romero, CNN, Atlanta.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

It's the top of the hour in Washington. I'm Brianna Keilar in for Pamela Brown.

And the Justice Department appoints a special counsel to oversee two federal probes into former President Trump. What we know about him and what it means for Trump.

New York Police arresting two men accused of making threats against a synagogue. What they had on them when they were arrested and what police are saying about the case.

And the Biden administration begins notifying some student loan borrowers that their loans are being forgiven. So what about the legal challenges that currently have the program on hold?

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Attorney General Merrick Garland calling it extraordinary circumstances. That is how he explains this appointment of Special Counsel Jack Smith, a veteran war crimes prosecutor, to oversee two criminal investigations involving former President Donald Trump. Garland says Trump's decision to again seek the presidency was a key motivating factor.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for president in the next election, and the sitting president's stated intention to be a candidate as well, I have concluded that it is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel. Such an appointment underscores the department's commitment to both independence and accountability in particularly sensitive matters.


KEILAR: CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz is with us now with the very latest on this.

Katelyn, Smith is going to investigate Trump's actions surrounding the January 6th attack and also the Mar-a-Lago documents controversy. How quickly is he going to get down to work?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, fast, I think that's what Attorney General Merrick Garland really wants us to take away from what he was saying publicly. Also Smith in a statement 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."

So timing is clearly something that's top of mind within the special counsel office and also within the Justice Department, as they walk into this. And we are watching what is happening here. It's mature investigations that Smith is becoming the head of. These are investigations that have grand juries already impaneled, bringing in top political advisers around Trump in the White House, outside of the White House, being compelled to testify.

There are phone seizures and searches. There was the search and seizure at Mar-a-Lago. I mean there is already a lot of evidence that has been gathered here that smith will then take under his wing, looking at all of those facts and then having to make recommendations, policy decisions and charging decisions.

KEILAR: Yes. It's not like he's starting at mile marker one, right. There's a lot of work already done. And you don't have to be a lawyer to look at this and say, you know, if this was kind of a nothingburger, Merrick Garland wouldn't be going to this extreme, to put this off on to a special counsel. Does this tell us anything about the seriousness of these investigations?

POLANTZ: I think it does. I think it says that this is all about Donald Trump. I mean, there was very little reasoning that Merrick Garland outlined explicitly about why he wanted a special counsel, but what he did say was that among recent developments, one of the things that prompted him to make this decision was the president's announcement that he -- the former president's announcement that he is a candidate in the next election.

So this clearly is a case, both cases, right around Trump. He is clearly at least under investigation at this point related to Mar-a- Lago. We know that retention of classified records is one of the things the Justice Department is looking at. That would be a Trump question, and so right now this is very serious for Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Very serious. Katelyn, thank you so much for the latest on this. We appreciate it.

Joining us now with more, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers.

Jennifer, great to have you this evening. Merrick Garland of course saying that he made this call because Trump had announced his 2024 run, and you also had President Biden expressing a plan to run. But he has resisted doing this for months. So explain that to us. Explain what you make of that.


JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the special counsel regulations indicate when you need to appoint a special counsel for when it's at least desirable. And it's really when there is a conflict of interest. So when Robert Mueller was appointed, for example, and you had Donald Trump's own Justice Department, you can't really ask the president's Justice Department to investigate him, so that's an obvious conflict.

Here that wasn't the case. There really was no reason why the Justice Department under President Biden couldn't investigate a former president, who after all, is just a private citizen at the time. It really only is when as Merrick Garland explained yesterday that you had the former president now a candidate for president, and the current president indicating he's going to run again, so that they're going to be running against each other.

So can Merrick Garland's boss, you know, can't he oversee a case involving his political opponent? That's where it got a little bit messy, and you know, having thought it through, I think he's right. It's still not technically legally required, but I think it's probably the prudent thing to do, and we know from all these months and years of watching Merrick Garland operate, he's nothing if not prudent and thoughtful.

KEILAR: Yes. No, it's a very good point. So, you know, we heard Katelyn describing he's not at the very beginning of this. He's inheriting these mature investigations, and the matures of the investigations really does involve the documents from Mar-a-Lago. How quickly do you think Smith and his team could be getting to a decision on potential charges here?

RODGERS: I think it could be fairly quick. I mean, Jack Smith will need to get up to speed, of course. He'll want to take some time to familiarize himself with the evidence, especially since this is not his team, right, I mean, these are folks who have been working on this for a long time, and he's going to want to take his time to get to know them a little bit, as well as the case. But here is the one thing that may not be finished in terms of the investigation.

Merrick Garland was so deliberate in talking about part of the special counsels agreement being obstruction related to the documents case, and so that means I think that they are looking at charging obstruction not only for the year and a half or so of the back and forth and the potential lying about having the documents and what they were turning over but also remember that evidence that came out relatively recently about what happened at Mar-a-Lago, surveillance camera footage, people moving things in and out of the storage room, where everything was supposed to be kept.

So getting to the bottom of that and getting all of that evidence together, including possibly putting witnesses into the grand jury, may still be going on and may take a little bit more time. But generally speaking, I do think that investigation must be a least getting towards its end stages.

KEILAR: Yes. Let's listen to what the former AG under Donald Trump, Bill Barr, said. And by the way, this was even before Merrick Garland made his announcement. This is what he said about the case involving the mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I personally think that they probably have the basis for legitimately indicting the president. I don't know, I'm speculating.

MARGARET HOOVER, PBS FIRING LINE: You're speculating here.

BARR: But given what's gone on, I think they probably have the evidence that would check the box. They have the case.

HOOVER: Do you think they will?

BARR: I think it's becoming increasingly more likely.


KEILAR: OK. You said it could be pretty soon. I mean, when you're talking about that, are you talking several weeks, a few months, what is the soonest? Because the way he's talking about it, it almost makes you think it's like a foregone conclusion.

RODGERS: I think it could be a few weeks, a couple of months. I mean, you know, they do need to move fairly quickly but as I said, any case that they would bring that relates to the documents themselves and the improper taking and storage retention and so on, they would want to bring any obstruction charges along with that as well, so I think they're going to need to wrap that up. But yes, maybe a matter of six weeks, eight weeks, a couple, three months, probably somewhere in that neighborhood.

KEILAR: That's very interesting because we had Harry Litman on last hour, and he said about the same thing. So we're kind of surveying you guys to see if you concur about this.

As you know, Trump and his businesses are entangled in at least a dozen significant investigations and lawsuits, and that's not including the ongoing January 6th probe on the Hill, which could lead to its own criminal referral. How do these new special counsel investigations rank in terms of potential danger to the former president? How do they interact with these other cases?

RODGERS: Wow, it's so hard to say. I mean, listen, these are criminal charges so I think in that sense, they're deemed more serious and more dangerous because they can result in prison time. They're certainly overlapped between the case going on in Fulton County and the January 6th investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice so we'll have to see what happens with that.


If Miss Willis indicts first, we'll see what DOJ does with their January 6th investigation. It's just hard to say but one thing is for sure, with this many investigations targeting the former president and his companies, he's got a lot to think about. It's really hard to see someone juggling this number of cases and also a presidential candidacy.

KEILAR: Yes. It's a lot of walls potentially closing in on him at this pivotal time.

Jennifer, thank you so much for your insights tonight. We really appreciate that.

RODGERS: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: In the meantime, House Republicans are lining up to demand investigations of President Biden, his administration and his son Hunter.

CNN's Pamela Brown sat down with Kentucky Congressman James Comer, who is the likely next chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee. She asked what his party has in mind.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: You mentioned the Democrats' investigations of Trump, how much of this then is settling the score because Republicans felt like that was unfair so now we're going to come after the Biden family because of what the Democrats did with Trump?

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Nothing. None of it. And so --

BROWN: Even if Democrats hadn't investigated Trump, you would have still done this.

COMER: Absolutely.

BROWN: How do you convince people, though, that this isn't a political ploy, that it's more than that? Because when you look at the key issues for voters, it was the economy, it was inflation. This does not address --

COMER: Ninety-two percent of our conference is not in the Oversight Committee. Their role from a committee standpoint will be to address inflation, and part of the reason we have inflation is because the government spent too much money. So we're going to be focused on our side on many things. We can walk and chew gum at the same time. This isn't going to be the only thing we do on the Oversight Committee.


KEILAR: Just today, Republican minority leader Kevin McCarthy touted the GOP's retaking of the House majority. He addressed the audience at the Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas. McCarthy promising Republicans would be quick to wield their new subpoena power next year.

And developing tonight, New York City Police confirming the two men arrested earlier today for threatening a synagogue have not been charged with multiple crimes. Police arrested them at Penn Station. One of them had a large knife and wore a Nazi armband with a swastika. They also found an illegal handgun.

CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller has been following this case.

So, John, what can you tell us about these men and what they were possibly up to?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Brianna, it starts with cryptic messages on a Twitter account going by the handle of "Virile God," saying that things like, I'm going to ask my priest, do I become a husband or do I shoot up a synagogue and get killed?" So you have the threat of an active shooter there with the possibility of suicide by cop. Then there's a post that talks about a big move being made on Friday at 11:30 p.m. But nothing about a target.

This sent the NYPD and FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and Intelligence Bureaus into a real scramble to figure out who's behind this account, where is this attack, who else is going to be involved. That led them to an IP address that led them to an employment address that led them to a name that led them to a search warrant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where they recovered that 30-round extended magazine Glock close gun with a laser sight.

And interviews indicated that the suspect, Christopher Brown, and a friend of his, Matt Maher, were believed to be headed back to Penn Station. MTA, Metropolitan Transit Authority police arrested them there, turned them over to the NYPD and the FBI. So it was really touch and go but there were hundreds of people working on it.

KEILAR: Amazing. I mean, how close did we come here to a real tragedy unfolding?

MILLER: Well, Brianna, that's exactly what they're trying to find out right now. Was there a target? What was that timing? What was supposed to happen on Friday at 11:30? And when you go back over the history of these things, I mean, you know, you've been on the air for all of these, but you think of the shooting in Buffalo, where there was a livestream going on and online postings, or the El Paso mass shooting where the person had dropped a manifesto or the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh with 11 killed, where he had said, I'm going in, in an online chatroom.

So the challenge has always been when you get these things, can you figure out who is behind that post and get ahead of them before something happens? That happened last night. What was supposed to happen is really the object of what they're digging into now with these two suspects.

KEILAR: All right, John, we know that you'll be looking for more details on that. Thank you so much for the very latest here.


Still ahead this hour, winter weather arriving in Ukraine, and there is concern about how the cold will impact their resistance to Russia's attacks. We have retired Colonel Cedric Leighton standing by at the magic wall to map out the state of the conflict for us.

Plus, the search for answers continuing after four University of Idaho students were found stabbed to death, stabbed multiple times. What we're learning by "The New York Times" about phone calls made by one of the victims on the night of the attack.

And then later, a look at the wedding taking over the White House tonight.


KEILAR: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says some of Russia's actions in Ukraine amount to atrocities. He said this today during an International Security Forum where he reaffirmed NATO support for Ukraine.


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Russia isn't just waging a war of aggression, it's also deliberately attacking civilian targets and civilian infrastructure with no military purpose whatsoever.


Now these aren't just lapses, these are exceptions to the rules, these are atrocities.


KEILAR: Secretary Austin went on to warn of what he called a dangerous spiral nuclear proliferation among other countries ruled by autocrats.

CNN is reporting that the U.S. is running low on advance weapons and ammunition systems that have been critical to Ukraine's success on the battlefield.

Joining us now to talk more about this is CNN military analysts, retired air force colonel, Cedric Leighton.

OK, Cedric, how concerned are you about these shortages, and if they possibly could change momentum in this conflict?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. I am actually very concerned about this, Brianna.

KEILAR: Really?

LEIGHTON: So one of the key things to look at is these are the types of weapon systems that are being used by us right now, so we've got Howitzer rounds of 150 millimeter variety, Stinger antiaircraft missiles. These are of course critically important and they've been talked about quite a bit. The anti-radiation missiles known as HARMS, these surface-to-surface missiles that are part of the HIMARS system, and of course the javelins.

So these have been critical force enablers for the Ukrainians. So far, we've spent $18.3 billion on Ukraine war since February 24th. Now that's going to definitely be going up. But the other thing you have to ask yourself is, what is giving us more bang for the buck? Compare this to Afghanistan, where we threw a lot of money into Afghanistan, up to a trillion dollars according to some estimates. This right here is a lot less than that.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, it's billions. Billions are a lot, but relatively speaking, it's kind of small. The other issue, and we talked a lot about this, is the political influence of this most recent election. Actually Pamela Brown spoke with Congressman James Comer. He is the incoming -- we expect, the incoming Oversight chairman, and he was talking with her about how support for Ukraine may change, maybe it won't, we'll see when the GOP takes control. Here it is.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Soon to be speaker McCarthy has said he won't give Ukraine a blank check. As things escalate, what do you think is the best approach? Should the U.S. do more to help Ukraine hold Vladimir Putin accountable?

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): Well, we all support Ukraine against Russia. Right? We've given them a lot of money and one thing that Republicans are asking for, myself included, is an audit. We need to know. We've given them billions and billions of dollars. Where has it gone? Don't say, all right, we've spent $45 billion on arms and $15 billion on humanitarian relief. That's not specific enough. So you give us accounting and I think there will be more support moving forward for that, but until there is full accounting and an inspector general, that's what most, you know, big project that has, I don't think there's going to be a lot of support from Republicans.


KEILAR: All right. So listening to what he said, what are your concerns?

LEIGHTON: So the main thing that I heard in that was that very last sentence, where he said I don't think there will be a lot of support from Republicans. What the key thing to think about here is, what are we talking about? If we don't give support to the Ukrainian war effort, these gains that we see right here, that the Ukrainians were able to achieve around Kharkiv, what they've been able to do around Kherson and we look at this from a blown up perspective in the south, these are significant.

And they would not have been possible if it hadn't been for these weapons. So if the Republicans are saying they're not going to support anything until they get a full accounting, that's going to be a tall order to do it. They should get a full accounting but to ask the Ukrainians to do it would be a mistake. The Department of Defense will have to do it, and there are some questions as to whether or not they can actually do that at this time.

KEILAR: Very good explanation of that. So, of course in Ukraine, winter is upon the Ukrainians, and you see Russia attacking things that are going to make that really tough on the civilian population, not just on the military population, and I think, though, I wonder if you think that is actually going to affect things? Because if anything, the Ukrainians have showed us how tough they are at withstanding challenges that oftentimes people think would break them, and it just doesn't.

LEIGHTON: That's right, and I think there's a bit of a precursor in history to this. When you look at the bombing campaigns of World War II, you found that the civilian populations that were impacted by these bombing campaigns were actually pretty resilient, and they were actually -- their resolve actually toughened and stiffened the more these bombing campaigns occurred. And this kind of same psychological response to what is happening now within Ukraine with the Russians attacking them and their infrastructure areas all over the country.

And you go to Kharkiv, go to Kyiv, go to Kharkiv, go into the middle of the country, all of these different places are being impacted.


And you know, you've got over 10 million people at least impacted by this. It's about a quarter of the population impacted by power outages on a fairly consistent basis. That is significant, but never once have I heard a Ukrainian say that they're going to give up because of these events.

KEILAR: It blows your mind, and you can't really understand it until you speak to Ukrainians, right?

LEIGHTON: That's right.

KEILAR: I mean, when I went to Ukraine that was the thing -- the most important thing I think I walked away with, was just understanding that resolve, and it's because they're fighting for a future -- they're fighting for their children. They don't want their kids to have to put up with this. And that is something that they will endure a lot for. I think a lot of Americans can connect with that.

Before I do let you go, I want to ask about North Korea because Kim Jong-un attended the regime's most recent ICBM launch. He does like to see these things, right? Missile experts are saying this one could actually reach the U.S. mainland. What are your concerns here?

LEIGHTON: So this looks a lot like the Hwasong-17, which is a long- range missile ICBM that they have. This is a mobile transporter erector launcher that they used, and this is a weapon system that could potentially reach the continental United States. So when you look at this system and its capabilities, it could potentially put the U.S. at risk.

The key is to make sure that we can always detect this launch before it actually achieves the stage where it would need to actually deploy its missiles, and that would be something where at this point it had to be intercepted fairly quickly and then done away with. But that's something that our defense mechanisms will have to deal with.

North Koreans are very proud of this and, of course, Kim Jong-un, who was so proud that he took his daughter to work that day to show her exactly what this weapon system was.

KEILAR: How many North Korean's could be fed with that one missile?


KEILAR: That's what I think when I see it. But, Cedric, thank you so much for explaining all of this to us. We appreciate it.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Brianna.

KEILAR: So still ahead, our first look at today's White House wedding. The president's oldest granddaughter walking down the aisle. Plus student loan relief isn't hitting back accounts just yet due to court challenges, but a letter from the Biden administration is hitting inboxes of those who would be eligible. What you need to know next.



KEILAR: All right, so it's time to check your e-mail if you filed for student loan debt relief. The Biden administration says that it has started sending out e-mails today to those whose applications have been approved.

Now, there is a hitch though, because the e-mail also points out the debt is not being discharged, at least not yet because of recent legal challenges.

CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz is following all of this for us.

Okay, Arlette, what's in this e-mail? What do people need to know? ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, even as

the Student Debt Relief Program is on hold, the Biden administration is trying to offer updates to people who did apply to receive this relief. And today, they started to send out those first e-mails to applicants, about 26 million people have applied for this relief with 16 million of those applications approved.

And so people in their inboxes started to receive an e-mail that was from the Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona who noted that they have been approved, but also warns that they can't discharge that debt due to those Court rulings and those lawsuits that have been brought challenging the program.

Cardona specifically writes in that e-mail: "Unfortunately, a number of lawsuits have been filed challenging the program, which have blocked our ability to discharge your debt at present. We believe strongly that the lawsuits are meritless and the Department of Justice has appealed on our behalf. Your application is complete and approved," he said, "And we will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in Court."

But this program has been on hold for weeks as Lower Courts have ruled a blocking the program from being implemented nationwide. Now, the Biden administration has gone to the Supreme Court and asked them to allow this program to proceed while these Court challenges are still being considered.

But so many people remain in limbo at this moment, and there is another question about whether the Biden administration might consider extending the pause on student debt payments that are set to go into effect on January 1st or to end on January 1st. The White House says they're considering all options -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, that is big on a lot of folks' calendars here in the next month or so.

Arlette, thank you for that report from the White House.

And by the way, the White House was all abuzz today as President Biden's granddaughter got married there. The bride, who is somewhere in this picture, you can see her because of look at that monumental veil. You can see her right there. That is Naomi Biden. She is the President's oldest granddaughter and the daughter of Hunter Biden.

CNN White House correspondent Kate Bennett has more from the White House -- Kate.


Now, the 250 guests of the Naomi Biden-Peter Neal wedding have returned to the White House for the reception this evening. There is going to be dancing, there's going to be cake. This is a black tie affair. I hear the bride is going to wear at least one other outfit if not two.

But earlier today, it was sort of a chilly morning on the South Lawn of the White House where the wedding took place. The ceremony was of course the first one ever to be held on the South Lawn just the 19th White House wedding in history.

The President and the First Lady were there of course. The President escorted the First Lady down the aisle. The couples said their -- wrote their own vows and said them to one another.

After the ceremony, just the wedding party which consisted of mostly family came back into the White House for me very small private luncheon reception. Again, the guests went home for most of the day coming back in the evening for this big blowout reception.


BENNETT: Of course, it's also a big weekend because the President turns 80 years old tomorrow, on Sunday. There will be a family brunch hosted by the First Lady, the White House tells us.

And again, important detail here because people are going to ask: The bride wore custom Ralph Lauren. She had a cathedral length train earlier today. A long sleeve dress that many people said was reminiscent of Princess Kate and also Grace Kelly, sort of a mix of the two. The dress getting rave reviews on social media.

Back to you.

KEILAR: It is gorgeous indeed. Kate Bennett, thank you so much and congratulations to the bride and groom.

Still ahead: Children's health leaders are calling for an emergency response to the respiratory virus that is spreading across the US we will speak to a doctor whose hospital is in crisis mode, next.



KEILAR: COVID, the flu, RSV, and also mental health emergencies are surging among children across the country. This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association requested a formal emergency declaration from the Federal government to support hospitals and communities amid these surges.

Joining us more, we have Dr. Tony Woodward. He is the Medical Director for Emergency Medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Doctor, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us at this really critical point, and I know your hospital is in what you're describing as crisis mode. The ER is at 100 percent capacity, pretty much 24/7. But in the evenings, it's at 300 percent capacity.

Tell us how these children are presenting when they show up.

DR. TONY WOODWARD, MEDICAL DIRECTOR FOR EMERGENCY MEDICINE, SEATTLE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL: Thank you for having me. And you're right, this is really a crisis for our patients. These kids present anywhere from extremely ill to mildly ill, but most of them have not been ill in the last two years, so it is a first time experience for many of these. So, they're getting sicker, their families are not used to little kids getting sick and they are getting emergency care when they need it, but there is now long delays and as you mentioned, sometimes over 300 percent capacity in our Emergency Department.

KEILAR: So when you look at these three viruses, they are making the rounds, but they aren't really peaking at exactly the same time. What illness are you seeing the most right now?

WOODWARD: You know, we were seeing COVID for a while now. RSV for the last few weeks was the peak, I think we've peaked with RSV over the last eight to 10 weeks. We now see flu and our flu numbers and our RSV numbers are about the same over this past week. So, flu is now here just as well.

KEILAR: So, what age are you seeing right now most in the ER and is this different in terms of the age you would normally be seeing this time of year?

WOODWARD: You know, specifically with RSV, we usually see kids under the age of one and sometimes up to the age of two with the little babies being most seriously affected. We are now seeing kids up to five or seven who are affected pretty significantly from RSV because I don't think they've been exposed to it in the past.

Our Emergency Department takes care of kids from zero to 21. So, we take care of all medical issues. And this is just one of them. But we are seeing more RSV and now more flu in those really vulnerable age groups.

KEILAR: And so as you're mentioning here, when we're talking about this triple-demic, you're seeing this because there's this lack of immunity after several seasons of masking and avoiding contact and not catching things. So, what do parents need to know and what should they be doing?

WOODWARD: You know, I think you're exactly right. I think we had a reprieve because the virus load wasn't as bad and we had social distancing and people wore masks and we weren't in fact congregating in areas. So the first thing is don't be around anybody who is sick. If you can avoid going to a party or celebration with sick people, do it.

If your child is sick, don't put them in school. When they go in school, they're going to come back sick. That's just part of the process. If you can wear a mask, that always helps both preventing someone from getting it and preventing someone from getting it from you.

And then really taking just close -- paying attention to what you're doing at home. A lot of hand washing and a lot of hand sanitizers and remembering that these viruses don't only live in the cough or secretions, but they live on our desktops and our doorknobs and our phones and our toys and our utensils. So, try not to share those among little kids. KEILAR: Yes. No, it is -- I have a four and a six-year-old and let

me tell you, it feels like once we recover from one thing, we're on to the next thing. And I know everyone's feeling that right now.

There is no RSV vaccine right now. Amazing that could actually change in the not too distant future. But when you look at COVID vaccination rates, they're actually lagging still in children, particularly the younger kids. How concerned are you about a new variant making the rounds right now?

WOODWARD: We're always concerned. You know, we've been sort of blessed in the pediatric world that COVID has not been the primary problem, it has been in our adult patients and for our adult colleagues. But I do worry that every time we have somebody who is not vaccinated that gets exposed to something that's new, they have a higher risk. And I have to say, you know, looking at the kids who get sick now, most of the kids in our hospital have COVID -- who have COVID are sick, but they're not -- their primary element is not COVID. They have something else and COVID is making them sicker.

So I think the vaccines that people have had both for the adults, the siblings, and some for the kids have really made a big difference.

KEILAR: Dr. Woodward, thank you for your time tonight. I know you're very busy and the best to you and all of the doctors at your hospital during this tough season. We appreciate it.

WOODWARD: Thanks so much for having us and raising this important issue.

KEILAR: Certainly. And still ahead, we are live in the Idaho community that is coping with grief and with so much fear as these brutal killings of four college students remain unsolved tonight.



KEILAR: New details tonight in the violent and tragic mystery that has rocked a small university town in Idaho. Four students, all killed in their off-campus home last weekend in Moscow, Idaho. Police saying they were stabbed to death, likely attacked in their sleep. At least one of the victims showing defensive wounds and even though it has been a week, police so far have no suspect. University of Idaho officials sent students home early for the Thanksgiving break.

We have CNN's Camila Bernal who is joining us now.

Camila, I cannot imagine how frustrated this community is because they just do not have the answers. What is the latest on the investigation?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, people are extremely frustrated. Look, we've seen a lot of movement here outside of the crime scene throughout the day. We saw police officers that were measuring tire marks here in the driveway. And then, we also saw a team of investigators in the afternoon going into the house. They were in there for about two hours, and within that team of

investigators was the County Prosecutor, Bill Thompson. We were able to briefly talk to him as he was coming out. And look, we asked him to describe what he saw in there and he just could not do it. He said that this was a very tough crime scene for everyone involved, a very tough case for everyone involved.

He said, they are trying to expedite everything they can that may lead them to a suspect and said he wishes he had more answers for this community, a community that, frankly, is confused, a community that is scared because initially authorities said, look, there is no threat to this community. Then they said, wait a minute, you have to be very vigilant because we don't have a suspect. We don't have a weapon. There is still a lot that we don't know here.

There is one thing though, that authorities continued to say. Here is the State Police.


AARON SNELL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: 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.


BERNAL: Now authorities did release a timeline of last Saturday before these attacks happened, and they say that all four of these students were back here at the home at around two in the morning.

"The New York Times" spoke to the sister of one of the victims and she said she was able to get her sister's, Kaylee's phone records and it showed that she made seven different phone calls that night to her ex- boyfriend. These calls were made between 2:26 and 2:52 in the morning. Authorities saying, they believe the attack happened sometime in the early morning hours.

Still a lot of questions though we have. We are expecting an update tomorrow from authorities -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Camila Bernal live for us in Moscow, Idaho. Thank you for that.

Still ahead, what is next for the Trump related Mar-a-Lago and January 6 investigations now that a Special Counsel will oversee them? We have CNN's Elie Honig here with his analysis coming up at the top of the hour.



KEILAR: Eleven years ago, then Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in a grocery store parking lot. Now, the new CNN Film "Gabby Giffords: Won't Back Down" takes viewers inside her relentless and inspiring fight to recover. Here's CNN medical correspondent Dr. Tara Narula.


FABI HIRSCH, SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST: When did have your stroke, brain injury encephalitis?

DR. TARA NARULA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The patients in this aphasia group are practicing their language and communication skills.


HIRSCH: That was so good. That is a mouthful.

NARULA (voice over): Aphasia, difficulty understanding, writing, or speaking language can result from multiple types of injuries to the brain. One of the members of this special group is former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

GABBY GIFFORDS, FORMER US REPRESENTATIVE: I'm from Tucson, Arizona. Born and raised. Shot in my head, 2011.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about two fingers? All right.

GIFFORDS: I'm getting better. I'm getting better.

NARULA (voice over): We met Giffords in Tucson to speak about her efforts to increase awareness about aphasia.

What does aphasia mean to you personally?

GIFFORDS: Aphasia really sucks. The worst impairment on my brain. I just can't get them out. I love to talk, I'm gabby, and I'm so quiet now.

NARULA (voice over): Giffords and speech therapist, Fabi Hirsch have worked together closely for almost a decade.

What is therapy like for you?

GIFFORDS: A lot of homework, a lot of homework, a lot of homework.

HIRSCH: Whenever I give you the choice of fewer options, less homework, you always ask for more. And so it really speaks to her determination and hard work.


NARULA: Where do you think that comes from?

HIRSCH: Inside. I think that's you. I think it's the two of us.

NARULA (voice over): Members of the group each wear a bracelet written on the inside the words aphasia, loss of words, not intelligence. HIRSCH: When somebody has a communication difficulty, when they say

a word that's incorrect. People often will misconstrue that as the person just not being all there, but it is not. It is just because of the injury to the brain.

NARULA (voice over): Giffords has made remarkable gains in her ability to speak with therapy twice a week.

HIRSCH: Your favorite thing about coming to aphasia groups?


GIFFORDS: Friends, family, a home.


HIRSCH: Yes, yes.

GIFFORDS: Almost heaven, West Virginia.

NARULA (voice over): She uses singing, too. Phrases with rhythm and melody are often retained when somebody has aphasia, even when spoken language is not.

GIFFORDS AND HIRSH (singing): Blowing like a breeze, country roads...

NARULA (voice over): As for her continued recovery --

GIFFORDS: I'm optimistic. It will be a long hard haul, but I'm optimistic.

NARULA: Is your recovery a process of discovering a new Gabby Giffords or a fight to reclaim the old Gabby Giffords?

GIFFORDS: The new one, better, stronger and tougher.

NARULA (voice over): Dr. Tara Narula, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.


KEILAR: Be sure to tune in, the all new CNN Film, "Gabby Giffords: Won't Back Down" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 PM only here on CNN.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.