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Millions Journey Near and Far for Thanksgiving Day Gatherings; Walmart Manager Killed Six After Opening Fire in Break Room; Bidens Stop at Fire Station in Nantucket on Thanksgiving. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 24, 2022 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour on this special edition of CNN Newsroom. Good morning and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. I'm Jim Sciutto.

Millions of people on the move for the holiday. The Transportation Security Administration says it screened nearly 2.5 million people at airports just yesterday. That is almost a pandemic-era record. For travelers heading out today, most will see clear skies across the country, but there are storms ahead in parts of the U.S. The middle of the part of the country there could cause some headaches. No problems right now at a beloved Thanksgiving tradition however, that being the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

We have all of your holiday news covered today. We begin with a look at travel around the country today. CNN Aviation Correspondent Pete Muntean, he is live at Reagan National Airport. And, Pete, as we've been talk to you these last couple of days, the headline seems to be things have been moving very smoothly.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Things are moving very smoothly, Jim. The rush has kind of come and gone here at Reagan National Airport, but the numbers have been pretty up until now. 2.46 million people screened by TSA just yesterday at airports nationwide, that number only 6 percent off from what we saw on the same day back in 2019 before the pandemic.

The good news here is that airlines have really been able to deliver. Just check Flight Aware. The cancelation numbers very low compared to the highs we saw over the summer when airlines canceled a total of about 50,000 flights. So far, only about 30 flights canceled today, 60 flights yesterday.

The big superlative on Tuesday, United Airlines' main line and regional flights network-wide, zero cancelations. Let that sink in for a second. American Airlines delivered 99 percent of its flights, it says, and operated the biggest schedule of any airline on that day.

There has been a lot of hiring at the airlines. There has been a lot of hiring at the federal government also to make sure they've been ready for this at the FAA level, air traffic control, also at the TSA. And I want you to listen to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, who says they have been moving workers around. 700 workers, in fact, are going to some of the smaller airports to larger airports where there is a big rush. Listen.


DAVID PEKOSKE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Well, that's our biggest challenge of the year. But what we do is like we did over the course of the summer, is we look for airports that won't be as challenged as others and we ask people to volunteer to move to the airports where we know we're going to have a awful lot of passengers coming through. That worked successfully for us.


MUNTEAN: Big days still ahead, Jim. We thought we were going to see 2.5 million today but the TSA said it is still possible we see that on Sunday. That would be a new pandemic era record. We've not seen numbers that high since July 1st.

SCIUTTO: The amount of day was (INAUDIBLE) cancelations. That is truly unusual and great news for this holiday. Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Meteorologist Chad Myers, he is live at the CNN Weather Center. So, Chad, East Coast looks great, the middle of the country doesn't look so great. And it sounds like later in the weekend is when the weather may get in the way.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, two separate systems, one that's already here across parts of Texas and another one that's going to develop almost in the exact same spot that will be over the northeast on Sunday.

Today, though, in and out of the northeast at parades, fantastic. Big parade in Houston getting a little bit wet to your south side here. Make sure you have an umbrella or a poncho if you're heading out there. Back out to the northwest of there, there is going to be snow on the ground, six to eight inches of snow.

Let me take you now day-by-day. By tomorrow, the rain that is here now moves off shore but another storm system there south of Houston moves on up into the same areas. That is the weather that is going to get in the way for Sunday. That low right there will be right here, right over the big airports by Sunday afternoon.

Here is how it maps out. Three to five inches of rain across the south and then eventually it gets off toward the northeast.

Here is your Sunday. Those are yellow and orange planes, which means we are expecting delays there with so many people trying to get to the airport.

SCIUTTO: So, Chad, your job will be to fix it by Sunday. I'm sure you're going to get it on in the next few days right after you have your Thanksgiving dinner, right? You're going to take care of it?


MYERS: I will take care of it.

SCIUTTO: All right. Chad Myers, thanks so much.

MYERS: You bet.

SCIUTTO: Overnight, CNN has learned just terrifying new details from witnesses inside of that Chesapeake, Virginia, Walmart. That is where at least six people were killed after a manager employed there opened fire. One employee described the moment the shooter held a gun to her head and told her to go home.

CNN National Correspondent Dianne Gallagher, she has been following all of this from Chesapeake, Virginia. Dianne, the stories are harrowing. Some people live. Some people die. It seems kind of random, right, in retrospect. What more are we learning?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jim, you can probably see behind me but the parking lot filling back up with both federal and state agents who are continuing to investigate why this 31-year-old manager who worked with Walmart since 2010 killed his colleagues.

We talked to survivors and we talked to employees, former employees, they told us that, look, Andre Bing, the shooter, they said that he had exhibited some odd, he had exhibited some threatening behavior in the past. He seemed to relish in having power over others. They called him standoffish, but said they never imagined that it would end like this. They just thought he was difficult to work with. Talking to the survivors who were in the break room, who survived this thing, the stories that they told are just absolutely harrowing.

Now, according to the city, they got the call at 10:12 P.M. Within two minutes, they were here on scene. And less than five minutes later at 10:16, they say they were in the building. That is where they found three bodies inside of that break room, one of whom was the shooter. They found another body at the front and three victims who unfortunately passed away from their injuries at the hospital. Those survivors talk about the moments that they were able to make it out. Take a listen.


BRIANA TYLER, WALMART EMPLOYEE WHO WITNESSED SHOOTING: He looked at me and he shot near my head. And it was about inches away, I'm not going to lie.

JESSIE WILCZEWSKI, WALMART EMPLOYEE WHO WITNESSED SHOOTING: The only thing that made it real was the vibrations hitting your chest and the ringing from the gun going off and it just kept going and going and going.

And you just had the gun up to my forehead and -- and this is really hard. He told me to go home. And he took the gun away from my forehead.


SCIUTTO: The trauma of those survivors and everything they're having to process right now.

Of course, Jim, those families of the six victims obviously spending this holiday trying to come to terms with what it will mean to go on without them. Both the president of the United States and the governor have sent condolences to those families.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Of course, there are six people who can't go home. Dianne Gallagher, thanks so much.

In Colorado Springs, the suspect in that other shooting in the last several days at the Club Q nightclub, the suspect, Anderson Aldrich, is being held without bond. He appeared in court yesterday. You could see him there slumped over with a bruised and battered face. He is expected to be formally charged next month with first-degree murder as well as hate crimes known as bias-motivated crimes known in Colorado.

CNN's Nick Watt is in Colorado Springs this morning. And, Nick, I understand you spoke with someone who lived next door who also was a friend of the suspect. What did he say about him.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they bonded over video games, spent hours playing video games together. This young man, Xavier Kraus, told me that the suspect liked weapons, liked guns, showed them off to Kraus, and Kraus expressed a little bit of hesitation and fear. And the suspect said, it is not the guns you got to be afraid of, it is the people.

And also, apparently, according to Kraus, the suspect would have outbursts of anger on at least one occasion directed at gay people. He used slurs to describe gay people, but also had outbursts more often aimed at other races.

Also, interestingly, the lawyers for the suspect say that the suspect now identifies as or does identify as non-binary. Xavier Kraus told me that he never heard that from the suspect, never suspected that from the suspect.

Apparently, the suspect is smart but very lonely. Lived with his mom across the hall from where Kraus lived with his girlfriend. And you mentioned, I think, the mug shot and the appearance from yesterday, the suspect clearly bruised and battered around the head. Remember, they were taken down by Rich Fierro, an Army vet, and then repeatedly kicked in the head by a young naval officer and a trans woman.

Now, Thanksgiving, of course, today and a little bit of resilience from Club Q, the club where this all happened, they would always hold a Thanksgiving dinner.


This was more than a nightclub. This was a real hub for the LGBT community here in Colorado Springs. They are going to be holding their Thanksgiving lunch today, but, of course, not in their club because that's a crime scene. They will be holding it elsewhere. But they will be missing some key parts. Daniel and Derrick, two of the bartenders at that club, described as the glue that held the community together, they're dead. They will not be at lunch today. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Just remarkable, they're still getting together. Well, Nick Watt, good to have you have there. Thanks so much.

Still to come, Mike Pence, he will not sit down with the January 6th committee, but now the Justice Department wants for the former vice president to testify in its separate criminal investigation of the insurrection. Will he comply with that investigation?

Plus, Georgia Supreme Court clears the way for counties to offer early voting this Saturday, something Republicans in that state tried to block. What could that mean for the upcoming Senate runoff?

And right now, President Biden and the first lady are making a surprise visit to a firehouse in Nantucket. Details on his plans to honor U.S. troops serving abroad on this Thanksgiving holiday, our thanks to all of them as well.



SCIUTTO: President Biden is spending Thanksgiving in Nantucket with his family. It has already been a busy day for the Bidens. He and the first lady took time this morning to call in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Now, he's visiting a fire station where he just spoke.

Our Arlette Saenz is in Nantucket. Arlette, quite some comments from the president just now. Tell us what you heard.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden made a quick announced stop at a local fire station here in Nantucket, where he answered a few questions from reporters. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchases is just sick. It's just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value, zero, none. Not a single solitary rationale for it except --

REPORTER: -- gun laws during the lame duck, sir?

BIDEN: I'm going to try.

REPORTER: What will you try and do?

BIDEN: I'm going to try to get rid of assault weapons.

REPORTER: During the lame duck? BIDEN: I'm going to do it whenever I -- I've got to make that assessment as I get in and start counting the votes.

Well, yes. As a matter of fact, I just had another drawdown. I signed another drawdown of over $300 million. And this is no time to walk away from Ukraine, not at all.

Now, we had a lot of talk in this last election about whether the other team is going to continue to support Ukraine. I still believe there is enough support -- that we could continue.

REPORTER: -- Mr. President?

BIDEN: I can't because it is in the middle of negotiations still. But --

REPORTER: Have you been in the touch with parties again?

BIDEN: My team has been in touch with all of the parties and (INAUDIBLE) the parties. And I have -- I have not directly engaged yet because they're still talking.

REPORTER: The oil price, cap, sir, will that come together?

REPORTER: When will you get your annual physical, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Do you think I need it?

REPORTER: You just had a birthday.

BIDEN: I've gotten my -- I will get part of my physical is already done. And I'll be getting it before the end of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Thank you, guys. Thank you, guys. We have to go.

REPORTER: Have you talked to Secretary Yellen about the oil price cap talk, sir?

BIDEN: Yes, and it is in play. Thank you.


SCIUTTO: That wasn't your T.V. freezing up, to be clear, that was the tape of those comments from the president just fed in from Nantucket.

Our Arlette Saenz is still with us. Arlette, that would be news if the president plans to seek and he says count votes before he seeks an assault weapons ban during the lame duck when the Democrats still control both the House and the Senate.

SAENZ: Yes. And President Biden has really been promising that one of the pieces of gun control that he wants to address is trying to ban assault weapons. You've heard him talk about with this over and over again. But at the time being, it does not seem like those votes exactly are there. But that is one issue the president said he wants to think about during the lame duck session, also talking about ways to further support Ukraine as well.

But over the course of the day, we're also expecting the president today to be calling some members of the military, to wish them some well wishes and gratitude this Thanksgiving in that Macy's Day Parade. He also mentioned he might stopping by the Coast Guard to offer thanks there as well, as the president and his family spend the Thanksgiving holiday here in Nantucket.

SCIUTTO: So many service members serving overseas on this holiday. If you're watching us, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you, to you as well, Arlette Saenz, thanks so much.

Another story we're following this morning, CNN has learned the Justice Department is now seeking former Vice President Mike Pence's testimony in its ongoing criminal investigation into former President Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Pence's team has indicated he is open to discussing a possible agreement with the DOJ to provide some testimony.

Joining me now, CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid. All right, open to talking about some testimony, what does that actually mean?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to see what exactly he means by that. We know that he has rebuffed a similar request from the January 6th committee. But, Jim, a request from the Justice Department prosecutors is very different than a request from lawmakers, and the former vice president is well aware of this.

Now, one of the reasons they want to talk to him is because he is, of course, one of the few people who can provide some unique insights to what the former president and his allies were doing around the time of the 2020 election and as they got closer to January 6th, and, of course, on the day of the Capitol attack.


Now, in the past few weeks, Pence has been promoting his memoir where he has spoken pretty publicly about what he wrote in there, about his criticisms of the former president, about what he experienced on the day of the insurrection, how he felt about tweets the president sent out that day, personally attacking him. And it was very much expected that prosecutors would reach out and have some follow up questions for him.

It is notable that this outreach came before the newly appointed special counsel, Jack Smith, took over the investigation. It is unclear how his addition to this investigation could change these conversations. But, really, the only thing that could delay this right now is that if the former president tries to assert privilege. He's trying to do that to some other witnesses. It's largely been unsuccessful.

SCIUTTO: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much for bringing us that update. Joining me now to discuss, former Federal Prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer, he successfully rebuffed the January 6th committee's request for his testimony. In this case, do you believe he will sit down with Justice Department investigators?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he certainly will testify in the grand jury, ultimately. He won't be able to avoid that because, if it comes to it, a judge will order him to do that. I don't know whether he will sit down with investigators beforehand but I hope that he does. When witnesses do that, it makes it much smoother in the grand jury. Everybody knows what is coming. And you can also have your lawyer as a witness in with Justice Department investigators to talk about what is coming, whereas in the grand jury, you cannot bring a lawyer. So, it is really to everyone's benefit if he goes and voluntarily before grand jury testimony.

SCIUTTO: So, as Paula noted there, it is not so much he who will attempt to block this, it is the former president who will try to block this claiming privilege. Does that have a chance of succeeding?

RODGERS: It doesn't have a chance of succeeding, but the problem is, as we've seen so many times over the past couple of years, it can delay things.

Now, it won't delay things as much as the first cases of this kind that have now worked their way through the court system. I do think it will be more swiftly rejected than the first claims that came on the scene. But, sure, if he refuses to comply voluntarily, they will have to issue him a subpoena, they will have to go to court to enforce that subpoena and ultimately have to litigate that issue. It shouldn't take too long but it certainly will happen much faster if he voluntarily proceeds.

SCIUTTO: This now falls under the umbrella, as it were, of a special counsel that's been appointed to handle these investigations here. What does this move show you, if anything, about the special counsel's management of this and his work and where this stands?

RODGERS: Well, I think the interesting thing that it shows is you want to build up in your grand jury presentations to your most important witnesses because all along the way your gathering information so that you're sure that you get at everything you need with those very most important witnesses at the end.

So, the fact that they're now to the point where they're asking Mike Pence come in suggests to me that they're doing very well. They're getting towards the end of the witnesses they want to talk to because they will have been gathering information about him and about what he knows all along. So, that, I think, is a good sign for where we're going.

SCIUTTO: Okay. So, if they're getting to the end, and I know the end can have a few chapters to it, I mean, does that, in your view, mean days, weeks away from a decision on whether to charge anyone, including the former president? RODGERS: Certainly at least weeks. I mean, we're not very close. I do think it will take some time even for them to get Mike Pence in the grand jury. They, of course, haven't spoken yet to Mark Meadows. There are still other people to come. But, to me, it just means if their ready to talk to him, it is a good sign as to where things are progressing, but I think we're still likely months away on the January 6th case.

SCIUTTO: Yes, so, justice but maybe not so swift justice.

The other case we've been following is E. Jean Carroll's lawsuit against former President Trump, alleging battery and defamation. What's changed here is there is a new New York law known as the Adult Survivors Act, that allows adults alleging this to bring claims many years after the attack. Based on what you know about this law, does Carroll have a decent chance of success here against the former president?

RODGERS: Well, she's now legally entitled to file. That's the difference. It was a long time ago. You have the same issue that you have with all old cases, right? It is going to be her word against the defendant, in this case, former President Trump's word. There isn't going to be the kind of other evidence you might have in terms of surveillance tapes or other witnesses. So, it has the same problems an old case will have had but she's allowed to file it.

So, listen, she can proceed. She can try to gather evidence, if she told people at the time what happened or close to the time, that evidence can come in. So, we'll have to see where it goes. But at least now she's actually able legally to make this claim.


SCIUTTO: Jennifer Rodgers, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you.

RODGERS: Thanks. You too, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Still ahead, new reporting in The Washington Post on some tension inside the January 6th committee, this over the focus on former President Trump in the final report and not some of other things the committee has turned up. We're going to have an update coming up.



SCIUTTO: Overnight, CNN projects Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski will win re-election in Alaska. She defeated.