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Deadly Shooting in Colorado at a LGBTQ Nightclub; Authorities Still Searching for a Suspect in the Idaho Killings; DOJ Names Special Counsel for Trump Investigation; Elon Musk Reinstates Trump's Twitter Account; Bob Iger as Disney CEO Again; World Cup 2022 in Doha, Qatar. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 21, 2022 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead here on "CNN Newsroom." America comes to grips with yet another mass shooting. Police in Colorado search for a motive in an attack on a gay nightclub. Plus, the heroic response that stopped it from becoming an even deadlier tragedy.

Unsolved murders and Idaho, a week after four students were stabbed to death in their beds. No suspect, no weapon. We will ask a former FBI special agent how police can crack the case.

Plus, the battle of the investigations. We are looking at how a change of power in the House could lead to gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Good to have you with us. And we begin with the latest developments in this weekend's deadly shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police are still investigating the motive for the shooting. Meantime, mourners have been laying flowers at a makeshift memorial outside the club.

And Colorado's governor, Jerod Polis, has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff through Saturday, to honor the victims. Police say the suspected shooter, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldridge entered Club Q late Saturday and opened fire with a long rifle. At least five people were killed and 25 others injured. Governor Polis, who is gay, spoke with CNN about how the community is reacting.


JARED POLIS, GOVERNOR OF COLORADO: This was just a place of safety for people. It was a place where people could, in a conservative community, often get the acceptance that too many of them might not have had at home or in their other circles. And to see this occur is really just put us all in a state of shock here in Colorado and across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Authorities say at least two people inside the club confronted the shooter, fought with him and prevented more bloodshed. The suspect survived and was being treated at a hospital. Club Q posted a statement on social media thanking the heroic customers who took down the attacker. The mayor of Colorado Springs says he is also grateful for the customers' quick action.


JOHN SUTHERS, MAYOR OF COLORADO SPRINGS (via telephone): The call came into the police at 11:57 p.m. Police were on the scene by 12:00, an amazingly quick response. This incident was over by 12:02. And that's largely because of the intervention of at least one, possibly two, very heroic individuals who subdued this guy, appears to have taken his handgun -- he had a handgun with him, and used it to disable him. And so, not shoot him, but hit him with a gun and disable him. But for that, as tragic as this instance is, it's a horrible crime, it could've been much, much worse.


CHURCH: Police say the suspect was arrested in June of last year in connection to a bomb threat that led to a standoff at his mother's home. But no charges were filed in the case. Here is the Colorado Springs police chief.


ADRIAN VASQUEZ, POLIC CHIEF, COLORADO SPRINGS: Certainly, when you have a club like this targeted, you have to consider that is a possible motive for any suspect going into the club and doing any type of harm, whether it be something as simple as graffiti or something just tragic and devastating like this.


CHURCH: Club Q opened 20 years ago and was, until recently, the only LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs. Many considered it a safe space for the gay community. One witness who was inside the club during the shooting described how the traumatic event unfolded.


JOSHUA THURMAN, CLUB Q PATRON AND SURVIOR: I was on the dance floor, dancing, when I heard four to five shots. I thought it was the music so, I kept dancing.


Then I heard another set of shots. And then, I -- me and a customer ran to the dressing room and got on the ground and lock the doors and called the police immediately. It was so scary.

I heard shots, broken glass, bodies. It was -- how? Why?

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: President Joe Biden issued a statement, offering prayers for

the victims and their families. And he condemned the increasing threats of violence against the LGBTQ community. He said, quote, "Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet, it happens far too often."

And he continued saying, quote, "We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate."

Well, one week on and police in Idaho have still -- are still searching for a suspect in the killing of four university students. Authorities have repeatedly searched the house where the victims were stabbed to death last weekend. They have also fielded more than 600 tips and conducted over 90 interviews, but so far, very few answers. CNN's Camila Bernal reports, the lack of progress is upsetting the community.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been very frustrating because we are not getting specific answers from authorities in terms of the latest on this case. During the latest press conference, they did go into a few details about the 911 call that was placed on Sunday after the killings. They will not say exactly who made that 911 call, but what authorities are saying is that it was made on the phone of one of the surviving roommates.

They say that by the time place arrived, there were other friends at the home when officers arrived to the scene. Now, they also went over the timeline in the latest press conference. A lot of the details that we knew in the sense that they're saying the two surviving roommates, they went out that night. They were back home at around 1:00 in the morning.

They again mentioned Kaylee and Maddy (ph) going to a sports bar, then going to a food truck, getting a ride home and then getting home at around 2:00 in the morning. Xana and Ethan also going out to a party that night, coming home also at around 2:00 in the morning.

What police are saying though is that they have ruled certain people out, who they don't believe are suspects in this case. Here is the captain overseeing this investigation.


ROGER LANIER, MOSCOW POLICE DEPARTMENT: We do not believe the following individuals are involved in this crime. The two surviving roommates, a male seen at the Grub Truck food vendor downtown, specifically wearing a white hoodie. A private party provided rides home to Kaylee and Madison in the early morning hour of November 13th. Currently, there are no suspects in custody and we have not located a weapon.


BERNAL: Now, police also saying they know Kaylee and Maddy (ph) did make multiple phone calls to a man the night they were attacked. They're also saying they believe this man is not a suspect in this case. They've talked to about 90 people that may have some sort of knowledge into this case. They say they've gotten about 650 tips that they are still reviewing. They are now asking for the public's help in terms of tips, in terms of surveillance video, and really any information that they have that may lead them to an arrest in this case. Camila Bernal, CNN, Moscow, Idaho.

CHURCH: Steve Moore is a CNN law enforcement contributor and a retired supervisory special agent with the FBI. He joins me now from Miami. Thank you so much, Steve.


CHURCH: So, it has been a week since four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their Moscow off-campus home. And while police have fielded more than 600 tips and conducted more than 90 interviews, they still have no leads on a suspect or the weapon. How unusual is this and why do you think this investigation is taking so long?

MOORE: Well, first of all, Rosemary, this investigation will take a long time and I think people need to forget what they see on TV where crimes are solved within 40 minutes and three commercials. This is a serious, deep investigation. That's one thing. And we have to give it time.


But the other thing is right now, the fact that they are doing 600, 700 interviews indicates that they are doing a generalized search. They haven't even been able to target it yet. And I think that's where the focus needs to be on focusing the investigation.

CHURCH: So, what about the fact that police have already ruled out a suspect. The other roommates, who were home at the time of this gruesome crime as well as other individuals. How did police make that determination so early in the investigation?

MOORE: Simply by alibis, information as to, you know, where the person was, people saying yes he or she was with me, things of that nature. There are also other intangibles like the fact that, you know, you couldn't commit these murders without having blood on you and it would just seem logical that you could rule out certain people, even the ones in the house.

CHURCH: And police say that some of the four victims had defensive wounds. What does that reveal to you and why do you think the two other roommates in the home were not attacked? What does all of this signal to you?

MOORE: Rosemary, what I'm seeing here is that this case is not -- the motive of this killer is not going to make any sense to you and may. I do not think that this was drug related, money related, sex related, relationship related. I believe we are dealing with somebody who is deranged, essentially. And so, I believe that they're going to -- that the case is going to

depend more on what profilers say about this killer than what can -- what we would think just generally. The fact that the women were not assaulted sexually tells us something. The fact that he brought his own weapon tells us that he was expecting to kill when he went there.

The two on each floor may have been all the person needed for whatever desire they had. We won't know until we get to the person. But what's interesting is they said some of the victims had defensive wounds. What that tells me is that the killer was attacking most of them, if not all of them, as they slept, as they had no chance to defend themselves and maybe only one woke cup in time. So, this killer came in and killed people or tried to kill people who were sleeping.

CHURCH: That is just horrifying. And Steve, while the Moscow police department is leading this investigation, they are also getting assistance from the FBI, state police and other local police departments. What does that tell you and how long do you think it will take to track down a suspect with those massive resources available?

MOORE: You know, I worked a case like this awhile back, a cold case and it took us 18 years. I don't expect that to be the case here, but what this tells me is that the Moscow police department is doing the right thing. They are aware of the limitations of manpower; they may not have profilers.

They are putting the case ahead of their department. And the FBI can bring in profilers. They can bring in manpower and the police in Idaho don't have to lose control of the case. And this is crucial and tells me a lot of good things about how this department is led. But right now, they need to start paying strong attention to the types of profiles -- the profilers are providing them.

They can pinpoint, generally, the kind of person who might have done this and say things like, he probably knew the victims, he might live about walking distance away. These are things that -- the kind of things that they can come up with.

CHURCH: Let's hope that they find the suspect sooner rather than later. Steve Moore, thank you so much for talking with us. Appreciate it.

MOORE: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: We are following a new reaction to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland's decision to appoint a special council to weigh potential charges against Donald Trump in two federal investigations. House Intelligence Committee Chair, Adam Schiff, is hitting back at the former president's suggestion that the move was politically motivated. Take a listen.


UNKNOWN: Because they'll still going to say it's political.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): They're still going to say it, but -- but it's the right thing to do and most particularly, if you ensure that it won't cause any delay.


So, if the same prosecutors that have been investigating the former president and others can be moved on to the special prosecutor's team, and then there's every reason to do it. No reason not to do it. And I think the person he's chosen seems to be (inaudible) capable and qualified.


CHURCH: Ron Brownstein is CNN senior political analyst and a senior editor for "The Atlantic." He joins me now from Los Angeles. Always great to have you with us. All right, so, Ron, as former President Donald Trump faces multiple investigations, Republicans are now vowing to investigate President Biden and his Hunter and to remove some Democrats from the committee post including Adam Schiff. What is going on here particularly after the GOP campaign so hard on high inflation and the economy, but now appear more interested in political paybacks?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, look, I mean, the -- I think the underlying reality that shapes every decision by this narrow new House Republican majority is that because of Donald Trump's lies about 2020, somewhere around three quarters of Republican voters say Joe Biden was illegitimately elected.

And that puts enormous pressure on them to confront him at every turn and to avoid making deals with him at every turn. And the complication they've got is that is the dominant impulse for most of the caucus. The vast majority of the caucus are representing safely Republican areas that are in that mindset and want confrontation at every turn.

But there are going to be somewhere between 16 and 18, depending on the final votes, House Republicans who are elected from districts that voted for Joe Biden in 2020. And they may be less enthusiastic about, of course, that this new majority is already setting off on and it will be interesting to watch how that tension plays out and how they deal with what is going to be a very aggressive and confrontational possibilities.

CHURCH: And Ron, another issue we're watching closely, Donald Trump is back on Twitter despite being removed back in January 2021 because his tweets risk inciting more violence in the U.S. in the wake of the January 6th insurrection. So, what impact will this move likely have on the country's current political climate and of course, at a time when Twitter is already in disarray?

BROWNSTEIN: Yean. And he can be seen outside the contexts of everything else Elon Musk is doing. I mean, he is clearly, you know, using Twitter as a way to empower and amplify some of the most extremist voices in American life. I mean, not only Donald Trump but others. Kanye who he has restored to the site. And you know, there is this question of restoring Alex Jones to the site.

I mean, any illusion that Musk was going to play fair with this enormous global institution, I think has been systematically obliterated within weeks. I mean he clearly sees it as a way to advance a right-wing agenda. And at least to empower those voices wherever he can.

Now, you know, there are many Democratic analysts who say they would like Donald Trump to be in people's face for two years because they believe a big part of why they had a midterm that was much better than many expected was because there are so many voters who whatever they're disappointments in Joe Biden, are still reluctant to entrust power to the Trump-led, Trump-era GOP.

So, the political impact is one thing, but the impact on kind of the social and civic life of America is something else. And it's clear that Musk is very much playing with fire and that kind of plays maybe not so much a bug, but a feature for it.

CHURCH: And Ron, on the other side of politics, Joe Biden is celebrating his 80th birthday, which of course means he will be 86 at the end of his second term, if he wins in 2024, of course. How damaging are the optics of that for Democrats even though he may go head-to-head with an elderly Trump or perhaps a more youthful Ron DeSantis?

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Well, if it's Biden and Trump, Rosemary, it would be 159 years of combined candidate in 2024, which is as long ago as the emancipation proclamation was so to give you an idea. Look, as you know, I described this election heading in, in mid-October as a double negative election.

And I thought that, as we were just saying, distrust and resistance to the Trump-era GOP was going to bound and put a ceiling on the usual voter reaction based on their disappointment in Biden and the direction of the economy. But that doesn't mean that the other half wasn't there. I mean, you know, Joe -- 55 percent of voters in the exit poll disapproved of Biden's performance and two-thirds of voters, a really striking number, said they did not want him to run again in 2024.


And as he signaled, all of that is going to be relevant. As long as he thinks Trump, you know, is running and obviously, Trump has now announced, he is going to run. I mean, he believes it is his final mission to prevent Trump from undermining American democracy and that is a legitimate concern.

But no one should have any illusion from this election result that it was a vote of confidence in Biden and the Democrats. They have a lot of work to do to restore public, you know, faith in their ability to produce better outcomes on a daily basis for Americans. If they have Donald Trump as a proponent, none of that maybe relevant.

But as you suggest, they might not have Donald Trump as their opponent. And in that case, Joe Biden has got to improve his approval rating in order to have a fighting shot of having a second term in the White House.

CHURCH: Yeah. Indeed. We'll see what happens. Ron Brownstein, always a pleasure to get your analysis. Many thanks.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well, in a surprise move, Bob Iger is returning to run Disney and the current CEO, Bob Chapek, is stepping down immediately. No reason was given but Chapek's management has been criticized of late with Disney's stock down more than 40 percent this year. Chapek actually succeeded Iger early in 2020. Iger is widely respected at Disney. He previously led the company for 15 years and oversaw the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm, which brought "Star Wars" franchise to Disney.

Well still to come, as the U.S prepares for its first match of the World Cup, the team receives a pep talk from the president in Washington. His encouraging message, that's after a short break. Just stay with us.



CHURCH: We are just a few hours away from the first full day of World Cup competition. England will take on Iran. And later, the U.S. will play Wales. Ahead of that match, President Joe Biden called the team to wish them luck.


UNKNOWN: It says potus. That's where it's coming from.

UNKNOWN: Sir, you have the U.S. men's national soccer team.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Coach, put me on I'm ready to play. You guys, I know you're the underdog, but I'll tell you what, man, you got some of the best players in the world on your team and you're representing this country and I know you're going to play your hearts out So let's go shock them all.


CHURCH: All of this follows a historic opening match between Qatar and Ecuador. On Sunday, the South Americans spoiled the party for the Qatari hosts, beating them with a final score of 2-0. Qatar is the only host country to ever lose in the tournament's opener.

Well, this tournament truly is a global phenomenon with a TV audience that's likely to reach some four billion people by the time the final is played. Michael Holmes looks at how excitement is building around the globe.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): World Cup fever, it's not just a Doha thing. Fans around the world getting into the matches and revving up support for their teams, even if they're not in Qatar. Back in Brazil, people cheering on the home team, hoping for a sixth World Cup victory by painting the streets of their neighborhoods and streaming flags of yellow, blue, and green.

UNKNOWN (through translation): We are all working to give energy to our team and for Brazil to be champions.

HOLMES (voice-over): In one town in India, excitement for the cup looming so large, there are large cutouts of some of the greats of the game like Lionel Messi and Neymar towering over the road signs. Local businesses say it's already a win for them.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): People are asking for Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal jerseys. We have everything from flags and jerseys to cut outs. It's going to be a blast.

HOLMES (voice-over): Mexico is looking to score some points from on high. One church parish dressing up a statue called the Child of the Miracles in the uniform of the Mexican team. The priest says a first World Cup win for Mexico is a common prayer.

UNKNOWN (through translator): Many people do you have this feeling that with God's help they will be able to win.

HOLMES (voice-over): And even though Kenya didn't qualify to play in the World Cup, people in Nairobi still expected to pack the sports pubs where all the African teams are fan favorites.

UNKNOWN: We're still hoping that all of African nations can probably do well in the World Cup, but I think the excitement, the build-up, the (inaudible) of the fans, they are the things that make the World Cup special.

HOLMES (voice-over): The excitement also felt in Idlib, Syria where a future football star could be sharpening their skills. Three-hundred children playing in a mock version of the World Cup, many coming from camps for the displaced and industrial zones in the region. And just like their role models in Doha, these kids say they have one goal. To win. Michael Holmes, CNN.


CHURCH: Still to come, the head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog issues a warning after a weekend blast rocked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. We'll have a live report. Do stay with us.



CHURCH: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia has used more than 4700 missiles to strike his country since the war began. Sunday marked 270 days since Vladimir Putin launched his unprovoked invasion. President Zelenskyy says hundreds of cities are "simply burned." His comments coming as Ukraine and Russia blame each other for weekend shelling at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

The strikes are renewing concerns that fighting so close to the plant could cause a nuclear accident. And CNN's Scott McLean is tracking developments for us. He joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Scott. So what all are you learning about the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Rosemary. Look, no one disputes that there were shelling on the site over the weekend, Saturday night into Sunday morning. What is in dispute is who exactly is responsible. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that its staff on site actually saw some of those explosions from out their window. And while there was no damage to anything critical to the safety, the nuclear safety of the site, it was a close call, according to the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi who says that look, we are talking about meters away from critical infrastructure, not kilometers, meters.

He also said this in a statement yesterday, he said the news from our team is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I've said many times before, you're playing with fire. Notice he's not assigning any blame there. Grossi has been trying to make nice with both the Ukrainians and the Russians to try to get them for months now to agree on some kind of a safety zone around the perimeter of that site to ensure its safety.

But so far, there has been no deal of Ukrainians. The National Nuclear Energy Company in Ukraine. It blame the Russians saying that the equipment that was hit on site was suspiciously the same equipment that would be needed to restart two of the reactors on site. Of course, Ukrainians are desperate for energy right now given the rolling blackouts and under normal circumstances they get about half of their electricity from nuclear.

And despite the fact that this plant is controlled right now by the Russians it's connected still to the Ukrainian grid.


So any electricity that would be produced would go to the Ukrainian grid not the Russian Russian grid, though the Russians would eventually like to switch that over quickly, Rosemary, the Russians, they have blamed the Ukrainians for this, saying that it was shelling coming from right across the Dnipro River, a city called Marhanets. Very close to Nikopol, where we saw shelling over the weekend.

This is an area that the Russians just in the last month have said that the Ukrainians have built up a significant amount of military hardware there.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Scott McLean joining us live from London. Appreciate it. Well, Ukraine is now responding to Russian war crime accusations. Moscow says videos circulated online show Russian soldiers killed after surrendering to Ukrainian forces. On Sunday, Ukraine's Human Rights commissioner claimed the Russians staged a surrender and opened fire first adding that "returning fire is not a war crime." Russia has not yet publicly commented on Ukraine's response. CNN has geolocated the videos to the outskirts of Makiivka, a recently liberated village in the eastern Luhansk region. The edited video purports to show a group of Russian soldiers lying facedown on the ground with their hands over their heads. All soldiers are seen emerging from a building and lying down next to the other troops in the yard.

A man can be heard shouting, come on out one by one. Which of you is the officer? Has everyone come out? Come out. A short burst of gunfire is heard before the video cuts off. A second clip shot from a drone appears to show the same man dead on the ground surrounded by pools of blood. Now we are unable to verify what exactly happened in the first clip or what happened between the clips.

But we know from Reuters that the U.N. Human Rights Office is aware of the video and is investigating. Russia's Ministry of Defense says the video shows "a deliberate and methodical killing of more than 10 immobilized Russian servicemen." Executing prisoners of war is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. Ukraine has also accused Russia of multiple war crimes since the invasion began.

Well, still to come. A rights group says multiple people have been killed in the Kurdish region of Iran last week, including two miners. More on the protests sweeping across the country. That's next.



CHURCH: Human Rights activists fear a crackdown in Kurdish areas of Iran. An activist group posted an unverified video allegedly showing Iranian forces firing indiscriminately in two Kurdish cities. And a warning some of the video is disturbing to watch.


CHURCH (voice over): The group says at least 36 people have been killed in the region since last Tuesday, including two 16-year-old boys. CNN has not been able to independently verify these reports. However, in a tweet, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he's greatly concerned that Iranian authorities are reportedly escalating violence against protesters.

And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. For our international viewers World Sport is coming up next. And for everyone else, just stay with us. I'll be back with more news in just a moment.