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Snowstorm Pummels New York State; Investigating Trump; Power Coming Back across Ukraine; APEC Summit; Twitter Turmoil; COP27 Summit. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired November 19, 2022 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.
Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, Donald Trump's legal troubles take a new turn as the U.S. attorney general taps a special counsel to oversee a series of criminal investigations into the former president.
A dangerous snowstorm pummeling parts of New York, dropping more than 5 feet of snow in some areas. And more winter weather could be on the way.
Plus Twitter in turmoil: new owner Elon Musk forging ahead with more changes, even as the social media giant seems to be teetering on the edge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.
HOLMES: The U.S. Justice Department indicated weeks ago that it might turn to a special prosecutor if Donald Trump got into the 2024 presidential race. And now that Trump has done, the U.S. attorney general indeed appointed a special counsel, veteran government prosecutor Jack Smith.
He'll take over two of the most sensitive criminal probes involving Trump, the Mar-a-Lago documents case and certain aspects of the January 6th insurrection. Smith has a reputation as a hardnosed prosecutor, who stays above the political fray.
And he has a long resume of high-profile litigation, including serving as chief prosecutor in a special court at The Hague investigating Kosovo war crimes. For more now on Friday's announcement from the Justice Department here is CNN's Paula Reid in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In certain extraordinary cases it's in the public interest to appoint a special prosecutor to independently manage an investigation and prosecution.
PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Attorney General Merrick Garland naming former Justice Department official Jack Smith to independently head up two major criminal investigations focused on former President Donald Trump.
The move coming days after Trump announced his third run for president. Underscoring the legal jeopardy the former president faces as CNN has learned prosecutors recently sent out a fresh round of subpoenas in both probes.
GARLAND: Based on recent developments, including the former president's announcement that he is a candidate for the next election and 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.
REID: Jack Smith has previously served in multiple roles at the Justice Department and since 2018, he has been the chief prosecutor for the special court of The Hague, investigating war crimes in Kosovo.
He will now see the investigation into whether Mr. Trump mishandled national secrets after the FBI seized thousands of documents from his Mar-a-Lago residence in August, including some marked classified that were taken from the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from me, because it's mine. It's mine.
REID: The special counsel will also now oversee aspects of the investigation into the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. And what Trump's role may have been leading up to that day.
TRUMP: And we're going to the Capitol.
REID: Justice officials had hoped that appointing a special counsel would help to insulate the Justice Department from political criticism of his ongoing investigations. But it's not clear that anything could really achieve that goal. In fact, I spoke to a spokesman of the former president, who's already described his appointment as a political stunt -- Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: Naming a special counsel is meant to ensure a criminal probe does not become political. Yet Trump again playing the victim railed against Friday's decision as the, quote, "worst politicization of justice." The White House firing right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I will say this and I've said this many times before, we do not politicize the Department of Justice. That is something that the president said during the campaign.
That is something that the president said in his early days of being in the White House. And that continues to be true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Trump is giving every indication he intends to ignore the new special counsel, calling him the quote, "super radical left."
HOLMES: Even though the DOJ investigations have been going on for months, the former president acted surprised they're still very active. Here's what he told a crowd on Friday night at his Florida resort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before we begin, I want to address the appalling announcement, today, by the egregiously corrupt Biden administration and their weaponized Department of Justice.
Would you like me to talk about that?
Larry, would you like me to talk about that?
TRUMP: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch hunts that started a long time ago. I thought the investigation with the document hoax was dying or dead or over.
And the investigation into January 6, in my very peaceful and patriotic speech, remember, peaceful and patriotically, was dead, especially after the record-setting 40-point loss of Liz Cheney, in the great State of Wyoming. I thought it was dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Now some Republicans are also calling on the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel in its investigation into the foreign business dealings of President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
Senator John Cornyn says the DOJ should do so because there's an obvious conflict of interest in that probe. Meanwhile senator Ted Cruz claiming the president is weaponizing the Justice Department to attack his political opponents.
The White House denying that, saying it wasn't even informed about DOJ's special counsel appointment in the Trump case.
All of this comes as results are still trickling in from last week's midterm elections. Republicans have clinched another victory after Democrat Adam Frisch conceded the race in Colorado. Now so far, Republicans have won 219 seats in the lower chamber and now they must decide who the next speaker will be. CNN's Manu Raju reports.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now Kevin McCarthy wants to be the next Speaker of the House. But he still does not have the votes to get there. He did get the support from the House Republican conference earlier in the week, when 188 of his members voted to nominate him to be the speaker.
But that doesn't make you the Speaker. In order to get the gavel, you need to be elected by a majority of the full House. That means 218 votes you'll need in January to get there. Right now he's working behind the scenes to lock down the votes.
But he had a problem, a math problem he's trying to resolve, because there are some members of the hard right faction known as the Freedom Caucus that are withholding the support.
In fact there are two members considered hardnosed right now, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Andy Biggs of Arizona. Both say they cannot support the speaker. Others voting against McCarthy as well, Matt Rosendale of Montana. Also Bob Goode, a Virginia Republican telling me that McCarthy does not have the votes to get there.
But they have not completely shut the door to ultimately supporting him. The reason this is an issue for McCarthy is he's expected to have a narrow majority. We don't know the final numbers yet but could be in the 220-222 range, which means he can only lose a handful of votes to become the speaker. That is what's happening on the Republican side.
On the Democratic side, things are bit smoother in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi's decision to step aside after 20 years of dominating and running her caucus. Now there's a leadership transition underway. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, is poised to become the first Black leader of any party in Congress.
Now his party is getting behind him for the top job as the Democratic leader in the minority in the new Congress. And we expect number 2 to be Katherine Clark from Massachusetts and number 3 to be Pete Aguilar, all members of a different generation than the current trio, Pelosi, Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Clyburn himself wants to be the number 4 leader in the new Congress. Those issues will play out November 30th, when the Democrats elect their new leadership team.
After internal feuding led to Mitch McConnell ultimately once again being re-elected as Republican leader after their disappointing performance and the Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate, all this playing out in the final days here of this Congress before the new Congress comes in January -- Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.
HOLMES: And with us now from Los Angeles, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, who's also a senior editor at "The Atlantic." So I guess news of the special counsel not unexpected.
But how do you think it's going to play out politically?
How do you see the impact of the announcement in a political sense?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not surprising, as you say. And it is certainly a defensible decision to turn over these investigations to a special counsel.
BROWNSTEIN: The timing of it leaves my scratching my head a little because obviously they've known for a very long time that former president Trump was highly likely to run for president again. And President Biden was certain to run if Trump does.
And if the goal was to make this, insulate the investigation of politics by establishing a special counsel, if there's a risk doing so delays the decision whether to indict and moves it further back into the election season, it could be counter productive in the sense of increasing the political charged nature of this choice.
If it's not decided until the campaign is well underway. So we'll have to see how it actually plays out. But I guess it's not surprising Merrick Garland, being such an institutionalist, ended up in this place.
HOLMES: Yes. And already Republicans talking about a special counsel on Hunter Biden, which raises the point that, you know, a GOP led House is going to embark on what article I read called "Benghazi times infinity" when it comes to politically motivated investigations.
How do you see that playing out?
BROWNSTEIN: I think it's going to be complicated because, first of all, the Trump era showed that that White House and that administration really resisted the congressional power to investigate and stymied and frustrated some of those investigations by their refusal to cooperate.
So we'll see to what extent this White House, you know, follows in their footsteps. Once these norms get broken, Michael, they tend not to get reassembled so quickly. The actual substance of the investigations are going to be a mixed bag for Republicans.
On the one hand, I think they obviously have an opportunity to raise some uncomfortable revelations about the administration, particularly when they're dealing in areas of public policy, like the border and how they've handled the border.
On the other hand, a lot of what they want to do -- I mean, they've already talked about investigate how January 6th rioters are being treated or investigating the raid on Mar-a-Lago.
So a lot of what they do risks further branding them as the party of Trump after an election in which blue and swing states very clearly showed there was a penalty for that association. They're going to engrave the tattoo even deeper in all likelihood.
HOLMES: That's a really good point. I wanted to ask you, too, we heard in Manu's piece, too, about Democrats and their post-election regrouping, a pivot to younger leaders in the House.
What are Democrats trying to do in terms of perception and strategy, do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: This is long overdue. Look, they're trying to align their leadership more with their constituency. I mean you saw again in this election, Democrats did much better among voters from lower -- basically 45 and younger. The oldest Millennials, hard to imagine, are now 41.
Millennials and Generation Z are the core of the Democratic constituency at this point and they had a leadership in the House, the Senate and the White House entirely in their 70s and even pushing into the 80s.
I think this is a reflection of the coalition. It's obviously a diverse slate, where they're going to have potentially a Black minority leader; you know, a white woman as the kind of the whip and a Latino leader from California.
So they are kind of bringing this more into line with who they are. And, you know, given where they lost the House, the fact it was lost in so many districts that Biden actually won, whether in New York or California as elsewhere, I think the odds are pretty high, whichever side wins the White House in 2025 is likely to win the House.
So this team could be in charge sooner than they think.
HOLMES: Ron, always a pleasure to speak with you, my friend. Thanks so much.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
HOLMES: All right, heavy snow blanketing parts of the Great Lakes region in the U.S. When we come back we'll have a live report on this potentially historic storm and what residents could expect in the hours ahead.
Also more of Ukraine's power grid coming back online following recent Russian attacks. But the power system under new pressure from cold weather.
(MUSIC PLAYING) HOLMES: A potentially historic winter storm pounding Western New York
state and parts of the Great Lakes region. Officials say more than 5.5 feet of snow, that's nearly 1.7 meters, have fallen near Buffalo.
Two people in Erie County died after suffering cardiac events related to clearing snow. The storm has canceled flights, halted traffic on major roadways and knocked out power as temperatures plunge. And the region is bracing for more. Officials warn the storm could be life threatening and have called on residents to be prepared.
HOLMES: There is no letup in Russian efforts to gain ground in Eastern Ukraine. Kyiv says that Russian troops launched new attacks across the front lines, including in Bakhmut. Ukraine repelled more than 100 Russian attacks the day before, according to President Zelenskyy.
Britain's defense ministry says the Russian offensive is unlikely to stop, partly because some Russian troops recently pulled out of southern Ukraine and are now being redeployed to the east.
Meanwhile, the lights are slowly coming back on across Ukraine after a barrage of Russian strikes on its electrical system. The attacks knocked out almost half of the nation's energy system earlier this week, leaving 10 million people in the dark.
Now officials say the power supply is improving but temperatures have dropped below freezing in some areas, which is putting extra strain on the fragile power grid. Meanwhile, Ukraine says this is a sign of ordinary life coming back in newly liberated city of Kherson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES (voice-over): What you're seeing there is the first train bound for that city, leaving the capital, Kyiv, on Friday just a week after Russians pulled out from Kherson. President Zelenskyy says other things the city badly needs now are also on their way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Today in Kherson, two special help points for the unwavering were opened, the first two. There will be more.
While electricity is being restored in the city, people can recharge phones, get warm, have some tea. There is support there. Communications are available there, Starlink or similar. We know it is very difficult for people, as the occupiers have destroyed everything before fleeing. We will reconnect everything, restore everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: All right, let's talk more with CNN's Scott McLean, joining me now from London.
Good to see you, Scott. So power restored in many places but the weather is turning and there's going to be rolling blackouts. They're going to severely impact life in Ukraine. You and I were there in February and March of this year and the cold is brutal.
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The cold is brutal without, you know, these rolling power cuts that you described. And so this is something that Ukrainians have not been through before, despite the fact that obviously the war started in the winter earlier this year.
So right now the temperature in Kyiv, Michael, is zero, though it feels like -5. Tomorrow that temperature is going to be -6 and it'll feel like -8. Kyiv also had its first snowfall of the year.
And the colder it gets, the snowier it gets and the more strain there's going to be on the system. My colleague in Ukraine has been talking to people in Kyiv about the impact these power cuts are having.
MCLEAN: And not surprisingly he found it was pretty universally miserable. He found an elderly couple, who moved to Kyiv from Kharkiv because their windows in Kyiv had been damaged from shelling.
So in absence of any way to repair them, they opted to just move since there was no way they could have possibly survived the winter in an apartment that couldn't adequately hold in any kind of heat.
He also found people that were finding it difficult to even get inside their apartment. Most people in cities live in apartment blocks and so if you're 7, 8, 9 stories up, hoofing it up all those stairs is not only a huge inconvenience; it's a lot more than that, especially if you're elderly or if you're less able to get up stairs.
And they're also finding -- my colleague also found parents even finding it difficult to get their kids online for school. Of course, a lot of schools in Ukraine still operating remotely, online lessons. And with internet that's spotty or nonexistent at all, this is becoming more and more of a challenge.
Clearly the Russians have a strategy here in targeting the energy grid. And this is how the Ukraine prime minister described that strategy yesterday. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENYS SHMYHAL, UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Unfortunately, Russia continues to launch missile strikes on Ukraine's civilian critical infrastructure, waging war against the civilian population and depriving them of light, water, heat and communications during the winter.
(END VIDEO CLIP) MCLEAN: So he went onto call for Europe to supply more help to Ukraine, not only in supplying parts to replace things that are being destroyed, parts of the energy infrastructure grid that are being destroyed in Russian airstrikes.
He also called for Europe to help supply more gas in the first place. This is not only a test of Ukrainians' resolve, Ukrainian will, but also a test of Ukraine's allies to provide even more. Of course they're already supplying billions and billions of dollars' worth of weapons.
Now they're being asked to provide help with the energy infrastructure as well -- Michael.
HOLMES: All right, appreciate the update. Scott McLean in London, thanks so much.
Well, just days before the World Cup is set to begin in Qatar, the government making a U-turn on beer sales inside the venue. More on that when we come back.
HOLMES: North Korea claims its latest missile launch on Friday featured a new type of ICBM. State media said it flew for almost 1,000 kilometers before landing in the sea. Japan warning it could also have enough range to reach the continental U.S.
Now this is the latest ICBM launch North Korea has carried out this year and the 34th day the country has fired at least one type of missile. According to state media, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw Friday's launch with his daughter, marking the first time she has ever appeared in public.
We get more details now from CNN's Paula Hancocks in Seoul.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kim Jong-un introduces his daughter to the world, holding her hand as he guides the launch of the country's most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea claims it tested a new type of ICBM, Kwasong-17, on Friday. His wife and child at his side, Kim is quoted as saying he'll react to the nukes with nuclear weapons and total confrontation with all-out confrontation, pointing firmly at the United States and, quote, "other hostile forces."
Japan's defense minister said this ICBM could theoretically travel more than 15,000 kilometers or 9,300 miles if fired at a regular angle, meaning it could hit mainland United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANKIT PANDA, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I don't think this necessarily represents a game changer. We know that North Korea has the ability to range the continental United States for more than five years now. So the basic picture between the United States and North Korea remains the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Forces at the U.S. Misawa Air Base in Japan were ordered to shelter in place shortly after the launch.
KAMALA HARRIS (D), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This kind of (INAUDIBLE) most recently is a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security resolutions. It destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily raises tensions.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Vice President Harris met with allied leaders on the sidelines of the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand. All condemned the launch and vowed to work closely together.
Physical responses were swift. Japan dispatched their craft, an F-15, filming this, what they believe to be the contrails or vapor trails of the ballistic missile.
The U.S. and South Korean air forces took to the area in a joint drill, simulating aerial strikes on mobile missile launches.
The launch follows strong words from North Korea's foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, who warned the U.S. of a fiercer military counter action and condemned President Biden's discussions about Kim Jong-un's missile program at the G20 summit earlier this week.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm confident China's not looking for North Korea to engage in further escalatory means.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): By the North Korea continues to break its own record for firing missiles with 34 days of launches this year -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
HOLMES: The U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris met briefly with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping while attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday.
HOLMES: The vice president tweeted, during the short meeting, she noted a message President Biden had emphasized during his meeting with Xi this week, that both the U.S. and China must maintain open lines of communication to responsibly manage the competition between the two countries.
For his part, the Chinese leader told Harris he hopes they can work together to bring relations back to a healthy and stable track.
HOLMES: Now the 2022 World Cup is just a day away from kicking off literally in Qatar and it's set to be a historic one.
HOLMES: More upheaval at Twitter as the company's new CEO, Elon Musk, summons software engineers for an urgent meeting. We'll have details on the latest development after the break.
HOLMES: More turmoil at Twitter on Friday. New boss Elon Musk sending an email, calling on Twitter's software engineers to report to the San Francisco headquarters for an urgent meeting.
This coming one day after employees left the company en masse, rejecting an ultimatum from Musk to work, quote, "extremely hardcore or get out." It's unclear how many engineers showed up for that meeting.
The White House actually monitoring the situation, calling on the company to explain how it's protecting Americans' user information.
The worker exodus caps a turbulent three weeks for Twitter. Since Elon Musk took over, the company has seen mass layoffs, advertisers pulling out and a new premium offering of the blue check mark implemented and then dumped.
As Twitter is dealt blow after blow, there's growing concern whether it can carry on long-term. Meanwhile, Musk tweeting a poll, asking users to weigh in whether or not Donald Trump's Twitter account should be reactivated. Yes, a poll.
Several other controversial accounts that had been banned were restored on Friday.
HOLMES: Nicholas Thompson is the CEO of "The Atlantic." He was formerly the editor-in-chief of "Wired."
Good to see you. Our own media reporter, Oliver Darcy, I was listening to him on CNN. He described Twitter as being in an ever quickening death spiral.
Would you agree with that?
How bad are things?
NICHOLAS THOMPSON, CEO, "THE ATLANTIC": I think it's an ever quickening spiral. Death spiral suggests inevitable. I still think there's plenty of opportunity for Twitter to pull through this. But yes, the situation is getting weirder and darker by the minute.
HOLMES: Big picture, just how badly has Elon Musk managed this whole thing, this takeover?
THOMPSON: He's managed it very badly from a perspective of his finances. He's driven away a number of advertisers. I think he's managed it quite badly in terms of culture and employees; a number of extremely good employees have left.
And I think he's led to the departure of entire teams at Twitter. On the other hand, this is part of his plan. He wanted a dramatic reduction in the size of Twitter, a dramatic overhaul in the work force.
THOMPSON: So he's doing what he set out to do.
HOLMES: But what if -- you know, it's the tipping point aspect, isn't it?
When is too far and it all collapses?
THOMPSON: Well, we'll know that in the next couple of weeks. So it's extremely unlikely that Twitter would go bankrupt. Some people are saying that's likely to happen and that is not likely to happen.
What could happen is, because so many of the engineers have left and so many of the critical infrastructure engineers have left, it is possible something will break in the service. The service will go down and no one will know how to fix it.
If that happens, users will lose faith in the platform. Another possible bad scenario would be if somebody hacks Twitter or something terrible happens with user data. On the other hand, Twitter is still working just fine right now.
If it continues to work just fine, if he is able to duct tape and glue it together and then finally bring some semblance of calm and bring in the new CEO, he'll have gotten through the storm.
HOLMES: Twitter, it's become an important communications platform, hasn't it?
The president is on it and other heads of state, celebrities, journalists all use it. As you point out, no sign of it happening yet.
But what would be the impact theoretically of Twitter's demise?
THOMPSON: Well, there would be a lot of harm. There would be situations where Twitter can do a lot of good, where it helps people with emergency response and in times of crisis.
On the other hand, if Twitter went away, it also causes a lot of harm to society. It causes harm to individuals, causes harms to democracy. I don't know whether all in all Twitter is a net plus or a net negative. But if Twitter went away, in some ways, democracy would get stronger.
HOLMES: We might have quieter lives, that's for sure.
HOLMES: Even if the company does survive, can you see an exodus of not just staff but users?
And where would users head?
Are there viable alternative platforms for people, which could be that digital town square?
THOMPSON: Yes, there's tons of alternative platforms out there.
And this is the real risk, right?
The real risk is companies like Twitter get built on network effects. As one user joins, it becomes valuable for the next user, because the user is already there. Network effects work on the way up, right?
That's how Silicon Valley was made. But network effect also works on the way down. Each user who leaves makes Twitter less viable to the next person. If Twitter gets in a spiral of losing those most important users, it's a big problem.
There's a lot of talk about Mastodon. People might just spend more time on Facebook, they might spend more time on Twitch, Snapchat. They might, I don't know read books and spend more time with their kids.
So there are a lot of ways people can spend their time. And if folks who spend an hour or two a day on Twitter lose that hour or two, I'm sure they'll be able to take a lot of that time and do news consumption, cultural consumption and all the things they found on Twitter, just find them in different places.
Maybe nothing exactly like what Twitter is right now.
HOLMES: Exactly. I'm with you on the last option. Let's all just chill and sit on the sofa and read a book. And one hour a day, are you kidding me?
It's probably more like five. It's crazy times. Nicholas, got to leave it there, unfortunately. Great to speak with you. Appreciate the analysis.
THOMPSON: A real pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES: The annual United Nations climate summit in Egypt now in overtime as delegates wrangle over ways to limit and pay for global warming. We'll have that story and more when we come back.
HOLMES: Now the COP27 climate conference, which was supposed to end Friday, has gone into overtime, as negotiators seek a breakthrough on outstanding issues.
Delegates have been discussing ways to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, along with loss and damage, the idea of compensating poor nations, which often bear the brunt of said changing climate. CNN's senior international correspondent David McKenzie has more.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the climate meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt are coming to the business end of the discussions. The talks have been extended after the official closing time, as countries try to hammer out some actual progress in fighting the climate catastrophe.
Here are three things we are really looking at, whether there can be a real affirmation of 1.5 degrees warming only. That is the aim of the Paris agreement.
Right now, with current pledges, we are going to blow away past that. Also, this big topic of discussion, loss and damage, where the rich countries will give specific guidelines on how they will fund developing nations for the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
And finally, whether the countries can expand the wording of this document to whether they can be an official talk of transition, away from all fossil fuels.
We will see those answers in the coming hours, I suspect.
MCKENZIE: There was also a powerful moment in the COP meetings on Friday. A young Ghanaian activist called on the leaders to do better.
NAKEEYAT DRAMANI SAM, GHANAIAN ACTIVIST: There is less than 86 months before we hit 1.5. And I'm already much older than that. So there are people at this COP, I appeal to you. Have a heart and do the math. It's an emergency.
MCKENZIE: Nakeeyat Dramani got a standing ovation from those assembled, including from the Egyptian foreign minister. The question is, when leaders heed her goal to actually have action, not just words, when it comes to fighting the climate crisis? -- David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Please stick around. We'll be back with more news in just a moment.