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More Snow for Western New York; Trump Investigations; Two Arrested, Accused of Threatening New York Synagogue; Controversial World Cup to Kick Off in Qatar; U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Pays Surprise Visit to Ukraine; Possible Talks to End Russia's War; World Population Tops 8 Billion; Ticketmaster Apologizes to Taylor Swift. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired November 20, 2022 - 03:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to viewers joining from the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.

Western New York is grappling with record-breaking snowfalls days before the Thanksgiving holiday. We're live in the CNN Weather Center with a look at when it might end.

Donald Trump's account is back on Twitter. We'll tell you what led to the reversal and whether it's likely to have the impact it did now he's out of office.


HARRAK (voice-over): These football fans are getting ready for the start of the World Cup in just a couple of hours. But explosive comments from the head of the governing body are still sparking reaction.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: People in Western New York are digging out as another snowfall is set to hit Buffalo on top of the huge storm that came through the region on Saturday.

People are being told to stay off the roads; most flights are canceled. The governor of New York has doubled the number of National Guard members checking on people in the hardest hit counties. Nearly 9 million people are on winter alert for New York and other states along the Great Lakes. Polo Sandoval has more from Buffalo, New York.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Still snow is in the forecast, not in the quantities we've seen in the last 48 hours. Now the focus is cleanup. As you can tell in downtown Buffalo, we've seen crews working nonstop to clear the streets, roads and a light rail system, used to transport residents in Buffalo.

The plan is, the sooner they get the resources back online, the sooner things will be back to normal. It's snow in Buffalo but the sheer volume of snow received since Friday is highly unusual, according to locals and authorities.

The mayor saying there are 50 pieces of equipment deployed throughout the city. And they're getting state resources, including the State of New York. Governor Kathy Hochul has sent the National Guard in, helping dialysis patients make their appointments.

There are still many areas outside of the center of the city. There's a travel ban in place or potentially a travel advisory, where authorities are recommending for the rest of the weekend that only essential travel in and around the city is done -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, Buffalo, New York.




HARRAK: Millions of followers of Donald Trump are waiting right now to see if the former president is returning to Twitter. They signed in droves onto his account after the platform's new owner, Elon Musk, restored his access.

It was suspended after the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol according to Twitter because of the risk of further incitement of violence. But on Saturday Mr. Musk wrote the people have spoken, Trump will be reinstated.

This comes after a poll posted late Friday showed 52 percent of 15 million votes favored reinstatement. Mr. Trump doesn't plan to return but will continue to use his Truth Social platform.

On Saturday Mr. Trump made his first major appearance before Republicans since announcing his third presidential candidacy, appearing virtually before the Republican Jewish coalition in Las Vegas.

The former president received a standing ovation. But Mr. Trump's quest for the nomination faces serious headwinds, not least of which is the special counsel, who has taken over two key investigations. We get those details now from Katelyn Polantz.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A special counsel will be taking over two federal criminal investigations that center around Donald Trump. One is whether there was an illegal attempt on Trump's side to block the transfer of power after the 2020 election.

The other is about the mishandling of federal records after Trump left office. Attorney general Merrick Garland said there's a need for this because Trump's now running for president again. And the investigations have created, according to Garland, have created a particularly sensitive situation.

To do the job, Garland is looking to Jack Smith. He is a long-time public servant, a prosecutor, former DOJ section chief who was at the table when the department was deciding charges against several public figures in the past, both Democrats and Republicans, in political corruption accusations.

In recent years, he's been living abroad, working as a prosecutor at The Hague, focused on war crimes. In a statement Smith said he would be independent and emphasized, quote, "The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag under my watch."

In response, Donald Trump reverted to his tested playbook, calling this the latest in a long series of witch hunts. The special counsel will be putting together more evidence and decide if the Department of Justice should charge top political advisers or even the former President of the United States himself -- Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.



HARRAK: Natasha Lindstaedt is a professor of government at the University of Essex and joins us now.

Now that the dust has settled on the midterms, I hope you can help us take stock of what's ahead. Republicans now in charge of the House. They secured it by a narrow majority.

But already they're promising a slew of investigations. The Democrats hold on to the Senate, regardless of the race in Georgia.

How does anything get done in the next two years?

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: That's a great question. I think the answer is very little is going to be able to get done. I think we're going to see political paralysis. We'll have Republicans in the House trying to set up investigations. But because the Democrats control the Senate that's not going to go anywhere.

So Joe Biden is insulated by the Senate from House investigations, whether it be into Biden himself or Hunter Biden, his son, or the origins of COVID. They've made clear they have a huge agenda going after Biden in what seems to be based on revenge rather than benefiting the American public.

But I think in the end, not much will happen. I think it will be a blame game running up to the 2024 elections.

HARRAK: Former president Trump faces a DOJ special prosecutor after announcing he's running for president again.

What does it mean for the GOP, will conservatives rally behind him?


LINDSTAEDT: They seem to already be rallying behind him despite that, after the midterms, all kinds of Republican political pundits were on the airwaves, eviscerating Trump and saying he was a huge liability to the Republican Party.

He was the reason they lost and they didn't do well. And they were heralding Ron DeSantis as the next star. The Republicans should be happy this is going ahead. This is a way to eliminate the biggest cancer to the Republican Party.

Instead, you already have acolytes of Trump, saying on Twitter or publicly, this is terrible. Trump himself trying to rally support, saying this is rigged, that this is completely unfair, that they should be prosecuting people like Obama and Clinton.

And we've seen that Trump has been effective in the past in ratcheting up support against a special counsel. Look at what happened to Robert Mueller, who was investigating him before.

His approval rating was 68 percent. But by February 2019, at the very end, his approval rating had dropped 17 points. So we see the effectiveness of Trump in picking apart anyone that goes against him. That's why you might see other Republicans coming to his support now.

HARRAK: I want to go back to something you started out saying. Republicans in the House want to deliver on their promises to investigate the Biden administration. Former president Trump, as you also outlined, calling investigations into him another example of a witch hunt. There's a lot of investigations going on.

Are they being weaponized?

LINDSTAEDT: That's one of the things that Trump is saying, that the Democrats are weaponizing the Department of Justice and that all of this is just completely unfair.

And at the same time, critics of Trump have said during his entire presidency he had weaponized the Department of Justice, appointing people that he knew were loyal to him, not necessarily to the Department of Justice or the United States.

But we see that Garland is trying to bring back the prestige of the Department of Justice, which has faced many criticisms, as I mentioned. He's trying to, with the appointment of a special counsel, have someone supposed to be completely unbiased in this incredibly unique situation.

We've never had a president's appointee then hired to investigate someone who is then running for office. This is unprecedented.

Where would you have a presidential candidate facing not one but two federal grand jury investigations and a state-level criminal investigation?

And because all of this is so strange and new, Garland is doing his best to make it impartial. But he's facing criticism from the Left and the Right. From the Right I spelled out.

From the Left, they're worried this is going to slow down the investigations. But the special counsel, Jack Smith, says that's not the case.

HARRAK: All right. Natasha Lindstaedt, with the University of Essex, thank you so much.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.


HARRAK: Thousands of people turned out for an emotional public memorial honoring three football players killed in a shooting at the University of Virginia. Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D'Sean Perry were killed last week when a student opened fire on a bus, returning from a field trip to Washington D.C.

The families of the victims sat in the front rows, embracing each other during the service.


TONY ELLIOTT, HEAD FOOTBALL COACH, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: To my three young kings, I'm eternally grateful for you. Thank you for being a light to the world. You'll continue to shine your lights bright before us in the days ahead.

ELIJAH GAINES, FOOTBALL PLAYER, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Love every single one of those boys, Lavel, D'Sean and Devin. I had an intense feeling of deep affection toward every one of them.


HARRAK: The suspect in the shooting, former UVA football player Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces three counts of second degree murder and other charges.

Authorities in Idaho are still working to find a suspect in the killing of four university students. Investigators have searched the house where the victims were found stabbed to death last week. They say trying to expedite everything that might lead to a suspect. The attack has rattled a community that has not recorded a murder in seven years.

Police have arrested two suspects making online threats against a synagogue in New York City.


HARRAK: This is one of the two who were detained at Penn Station. Police says the suspect had an illegal semiautomatic gun, a large knife and a Nazi armband. They're now facing charges of making terrorist threats and illegal weapon possession.

The threats started appearing on Twitter, suggest an attack on one of the synagogues in the city. Law enforcement sources says the posts were later traced to a work computer used by one of the suspects.

Some Ukrainians who stayed at home in Russia's occupation could leave after liberation. The reason has a lot to do with the damage the Russians left behind. That's ahead.

First, more controversy ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. FIFA's president tried to defend the host country but his comments add fuel to the fire.




HARRAK: In the hours ahead, one of the most controversial World Cups in recent memory will kick off in Qatar.


HARRAK: It's an event marred by criticism over the host country's human rights record. But as anticipation mounts for the games, it seems fans are putting the controversy aside to focus on the tournament itself.



HARRAK: FIFA has come under fire for letting Iran participate in the tournament as Tehran continues its crackdown on antigovernment protests, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini over allegedly breaking the country's hijab law.

Meanwhile, a new report estimates that Iran's security forces have killed more than 300 people since the protests started. Iran Human Rights, an NGO in Norway, says at least 378 people have been killed since September, including 47 children.

CNN has not been able to verify that number. State media reports Iran's supreme leader on Saturday warned that the protests are, quote, "doomed to fail."

Eight billion and counting is the population of the world right now. We'll explain what this milestone means and the challenges facing all of us.





HARRAK: Ukraine says it's begun voluntary evacuations from newly liberated areas in the south. Water, heat and electricity are in such short supply, residents will have a hard time surviving the winter.

The government wants to give them a temporary place to stay in other parts of the country. The whole nation is dealing with power shortages after Russian strikes earlier this week. But president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says officials are working to bring the power back.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As always, today I received reports on the repair works in the energy sector. We're working throughout the country to stabilize the situation. Kyiv and its regions, Odessa and its regions, Kharkiv and its region have the most problems with electricity.


HARRAK: In Canada, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Canadian counterpart and reaffirmed U.S. support for Ukraine and didn't mince words on Russia's attacks on civilian infrastructure.


GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: 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 aren't exceptions to the rules. These are atrocities.


HARRAK: Meanwhile the U.K. has vowed to help boost Ukraine's air defenses. The prime minister announced a new aid package in a surprise visit to Kyiv Saturday. During his visit, Rishi Sunak also joined President Zelenskyy in a flower laying ceremony for victims of war.

Scott McLean joins us from London.

What more can you tell us about these voluntary evacuations?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You heard President Zelenskyy in that clip, saying his government is working to stabilize the power situation across the country. He mentioned specifically Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv.

But the list is longer, Chernihiv also struggling as is the newly liberated region of Kherson. There's no heat and electricity and it will be impossible for people to survive the winter. So they're asking people to evacuate voluntarily from Kherson and Mykolaiv.

They're trying to entice people by footing the bill for their transportation and accommodation elsewhere. But given that today in Kherson, the temperature was about 5 degrees Celsius, feels like 1 degree. And we're still one month out from the official start of winter. So it's only going to get worse.


MCLEAN: On Friday, the prime minister of Ukraine called on international allies to provide weapons support, as it's been doing, but also support to help Ukraine fix its battered electrical grid. So Europeans, Americans, Canadians will have to dig deeper into their pockets to help Ukraine if they want to help get the grid back on track as well.

HARRAK: Scott McLean, thank you so much.


HARRAK: CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger joins me from Dallas. He's also a White House and national security correspondent for "The New York Times" and author of the book, "The Perfect Weapon."

So good to have you with us. As the war rages on, opinions are divided over whether to encourage Kyiv to get into negotiations with Russia to end this conflict.

U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, said recently, you want to negotiate at a time when you're at your strength and your opponent is at weakness. And it's possible maybe there will be a political solution.

This is just one voice.

But does this signal the limits of U.S. aid for what is now an open- ended war?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think General Milley's comments reflect the fact that all wars have to end sometimes. And they almost always end with a negotiated settlement, sometimes after a significant victory.

In the case of Ukraine, though, both sides still seem to think they're winning. The Ukrainians are obviously gaining ground, the Russians are not conceding the degree to which they've lost territory, other than in places like Kherson.

More importantly, Vladimir Putin sees winter coming and believes that plays to his advantage, that the Ukrainians will freeze, given the infrastructure that Russia has destroyed, particularly in recent weeks; that the NATO nations will begin to crack and divide as the cost of heating oil and gas rise.

Now he may be getting this wrong and he may decide at some point to negotiate. But right now we've seen no indication that the Russians are prepared for a serious negotiation. And the position we've heard from the Ukrainians is still that Russia needs to go back to the February 24th borders before you could really get a conversation going.

HARRAK: Exactly. As you know, the U.S. provides Ukraine with arms, logistical aid.

How much leverage realistically does it have over Kyiv?

Can it nudge Ukraine into making suggestions?

President Zelenskyy objective is restitution of all of Ukraine's territory.

Would there be public support for negotiations with the Kremlin?

SANGER: I think there would be support when the Ukrainians feel they're ready to go do it. But every time we've pressed President Biden on this -- and did just before he left for asia -- he keeps repeating the mantra, nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.

And the U.S. at this point doesn't want to be seen, at least publicly, to be nudging them in any particular direction.

The other problem that the U.S. runs into, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, back in the spring, uttered a real truth when he said the U.S.' objective is to make sure, whenever this is all over, the Russians are not in a position to launch something like this again.

And you know, the Ukrainians have a significant concern, understandable concern, that what the Russians would like right now is a lull in the fighting to give them an opportunity to restore their forces and come back more heavily in the spring or, if they're not ready in the spring, at some point in the future.

So the question is how do you fit that objective, that U.S. objective that Austin described, into a real negotiation?

HARRAK: That's a very tough one indeed. Before I let you go, investigations into the missiles fired into Poland, it's still underway. We saw Mr. Zelenskyy at odds with NATO about who fired the missiles.

This incident has shaken Ukraine's neighboring countries. NATO does not want this war to spill over into NATO territory. It's been clear about that from the get-go.


HARRAK: And it wants to avoid any direct confrontation with Russia.

Could we see European allies of Ukraine push for a settlement?

SANGER: Oh, I think some of the European allies are more likely to push for territorial concession. I think that's one of the reasons that Putin is probably waiting. He thinks, after they've had a good, hard winter, either this one or if he can hold out that long, next one, they will push in that direction.

As for that missile strike inside Poland, there's no evidence I've seen so far that suggests that that missile tracked in from Russian territory. It was of Russian make. But it appeared to be a Ukrainian antiaircraft missile that went awry.

One of the indications that this was in fact not a full-on Russian attack is that there was only a single missile. You would have expected multiple ones, had it been a real attack on a NATO country.

And so far Putin has been cautious not to go outside of the boundaries of Ukraine, at least with his physical attacks. There are some indications he's done it with his cyberattacks.

But I don't think he wants to bring NATO into this anymore than NATO wants to get into it.

HARRAK: David Sanger, thank you so much for this conversation.

SANGER: Great to be with you.


HARRAK: Ahead on CNN, bold action on the climate crisis, delegates at the COP27 climate summit reached a landmark deal, benefiting poorer countries vulnerable to global warming.




HARRAK: A step forward at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. But so much left undone.


HARRAK: Delegates reaffirmed the need to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in the final agreement but with little progress on how to get there. They did commit to set up a loss and damage fund to help compensate the developing world for the consequences of global warming.

But the details of where the money will come from have yet to be decided. CNN's David McKenzie is in Johannesburg.

Lots of questions about how this will actually work.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But it is worth pausing for a second. This issue of loss and damage was something that they struggled to get onto the discussion table.

And through the night there were negotiations into the morning on Sunday. And it was a significant victory for developing nations to get this agreed upon through consensus. It means, over the next year, there will be technical experts figuring out how to do it.

But in essence it means they will set up a fund, one hopes, where rich nations and others will help fund those developing nations that are dealing with the worst impacts of the climate crisis. Here's one conference goer who describes why it's so important.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is a symbolic day in terms of the impact that this decision will have on the future. Developing countries have been fighting for 30 years to have a fund, to have recognition of the losses and damages associated with climate change.


MCKENZIE: If you were to give a report card for these meetings, it's not an A-plus. They have managed to come up with the loss and damage fund. There is agreement on the 1.5 degrees warming ceiling.

But really the specifics, as you said, are not very much on how to actually get there. Very disappointing to climate activists and others that they were not able to strengthen the language around cutting emissions and, crucially, unable to agree upon a specific mention of transitioning away from fossil fuels to more green alternatives.

That shows that at least some countries were able to lobby, probably countries rich in oil and gas, away from that language. If you look at the numbers, unless there's a 45 percent increase in the cutting of emissions, we will not get to 1.5 degrees. So there's a long way to go in terms of actually dealing with the climate crisis.

HARRAK: David McKenzie, thank you so much.

As the world grapples with climate change, there is an interlinked issue of population growth. We've now surpassed 8 billion humans on planet Earth. Lynda Kinkade tells about the challenges that lie ahead for a world that's gotten this crowded.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This baby born in Lebanon is now one of the 8 billion people living on this planet. The United Nations estimates that the world population has increased by 1 billion in 12 years and on Tuesday it reached 8 billion, a new milestone for mankind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think there is too much of people in this world. What we need to really think about is how to use wisely our resources.

KINKADE (voice-over): The U.N. said human population growth is the result of high fertility in many countries, as well as the advancement of technologies that benefit longevity. But global population growth is gradually slowing. The U.N. projects

it would take 15 years for another billion and another 21 years for the next billion.

JOHN WILMOTH, DIRECTOR, U.N. POPULATION DIVISION: More education, greater gender quality and more access to health care will help bring down the fertility rate and therefore slow the rate of growth.

KINKADE (voice-over): What won't slow is the impact of climate change on the next generation. As global leaders search for a sustainable future, fewer people on Earth will not necessarily solve the climate crisis.

At the moment, countries with lower population growth are actually creating more greenhouse gas than the rest of the world.

MARIA FRANCESCA SPATOLISANO, U.N. DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS: The majority of the world population growth is and will increasingly be concentrated amongst the world's poorest countries.

These countries with significantly lower emission rates are likely to suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change.


KINKADE (voice-over): More challenges still ahead: conflict, poverty and diseases. How the world handles these problems will decide the future for the next billion people -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN, Atlanta.


HARRAK: Ticket sales fiasco causes bad blood with Taylor Swift. How Ticketmaster is trying to make things right after failing to sell seats for the pop star's major tour.





America's leading ticket sales company is apologizing to Taylor Swift after her fans were unable to buy tickets for her tour online.


HARRAK: Ticketmaster is shoring up its website amid the overwhelming demand for the pop star's upcoming tour, 52 concerts in five months. They issued an apology after Swift voiced her frustration with the ticketing disaster. Chloe Melas has the details.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Taylor Swift is now addressing the bad blood between her fans and Ticketmaster, writing in part, quote, "I'm not going to make excuses for anyone, because we asked them multiple times if they could handle this kind of demand.

"And were assured they could. It's truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets. But it pisses me off that many felt like they went through several bear attacks to get them."

Fans were unable to purchase tickets after waiting in the virtual line for hours because the website kept crashing. Then came the announcement that Ticketmaster would be canceling sales to the general public, citing, quote, "extraordinarily high demands" on systems and not enough inventory to meet the demand.

The Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster, to look at whether they have a monopoly. The feud between artists' fans and Ticketmaster has been ongoing for decades.

In 1994, Pearl Jam testified before Congress. That complaint was dismissed. But now there are a lot of questions remaining about Ticketmaster's power after its merger with Live Nation. Back to you.


HARRAK: That wraps up this hour of NEWSROOM. I'll be back with more news after a quick break. See you then.