Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Biden White House Preps for GOP Probes, Don't Let the Bastards Win; Biden Pushes Back on Zelenskyy That Missile Not From Ukraine; Pence Says, We'll Have Better Choices Than Trump in 2024. Aired 7- 7:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 07:00   ET




DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is Thursday, November 17th. You know, I woke up this morning and looked at the -- my phone --

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: What did you think?

LEMON: I thought it was Wednesday. I was so happy, it's actually Thursday.

HARLOW: You don't want an extra day with us? What are you saying?

LEMON: We'll move on now.

HARLOW: Yes, we will.

LEMON: Because we have something to talk about that is very disturbing. A university is on edge this morning. Four college students were stabbed to death, happened in Idaho, the community packing their bags now.

HARLOW: Also we'll get to that, but the control of the House has been decided. It appears Republicans are planning a slew of investigations now that they're in the majority, targeting Democrats. We'll have new CNN reporting on how the White House is preparing.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We'll also talk about where the GOP is headed. Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, whose term expires in January, is going to join us live. Plus, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan is going to join us to talk about her big win and Democrats' big win in her state and what her political future might look like.

LEMON: And this morning, President Biden is challenging President Zelenskyy's claim that Ukraine is not responsible for the deadly missile strike in Poland.

But, first, what will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi do once she's put down the gavel? Well, we're about find out. She's expected to make an announcement regarding her future on the House floor today. It is unclear what she's going to say. A source says Nancy Pelosi has two different versions of her speech. Speculation about her future has intensified in the aftermath of the midterm elections.

The balance of power in the House has officially shifted. CNN projects that Republicans will take control of the chamber with a very slim majority. President Biden was quick to reach across the aisle and congratulate GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is in line to succeed Nancy Pelosi as speaker. Now, the president says that he's willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with him.

House Republicans are expected to make investigations into the Biden administration a priority. We have new CNN reporting about that. The White House has been preparing for months now.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond joins us now live. Jeremy, good morning to you. Take us inside those preparations. What do they look like?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, these have been among the earliest and most aggressive preparations by any White House ahead of a midterm election. Beginning last spring, the White House and key agencies began hiring officials to handle what they expect will be a deluge of Republican oversight requests should Republicans take control of Congress. You can see some key hires at the White House as well as at the Justice Department and also the Department of Homeland Security.

At the White House, a team of lawyers, legislative affairs specialists and communication strategists, they have been mapping out where these Republican investigations are going to go. They've been doing so by going through hundreds of Republican oversight letters to the White House and key agencies. They've been watching the likely incoming chairman of the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committee to see where they're planning to go with these investigations. Those Republicans have really been telegraphing their strategy.

And another thing that the White House has been doing is meeting with agencies to ensure that they are on the same page. One of those meetings I'm told took place more than four months before Election Day with top officials from the White House as well as the Department of Homeland Security, meeting inside the Roosevelt Room to go over what their strategy would be. The White House wanted to ensure that agencies were prepared, particularly DHS, but similar meetings took place with the State Department, with the Justice Department, and the Defense Department as well.

HARLOW: Do you have reporting this morning, Jeremy, on sort of who the main targets may be of these House Republican probes? Because they've not just talked about Hunter Biden, they've talked about Dr. Anthony Fauci, they've talked about Secretary Mayorkas. There has been a number of names. Any sense of the target?

DIAMOND: No doubt about it. Republicans have a wide ranging list of targets. And one of the reasons I mentioned that meeting with the Department of Homeland Security is that they are viewed as one of the top targets of Republicans, in particular, the DHS secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas. Republicans have been threatening for months the potential of impeaching him over his handling of the border. There's no question that they will look into that. But as you saw that list on the screen, there's border security, there's COVID-19, there is the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Now, the way that the White House and these agencies choose to respond to these requests is largely going to be based on what they see as the validity of those requests, whether they give the White House time to actually gather the documents and respond. But make no mistake about it. The White House is very prepared to forcefully respond and push back on those requests that they see as overreach, especially when they believe that these are mainly just intended as political attacks to damage the president.

HARLOW: Okay. Jeremy Diamond live for us at the White House, thanks very, very much.


Also this morning, Karen Bass making history, becoming the first woman and second black person elected to be mayor of Los Angeles. CNN projects the six-term congresswoman has defeated the billionaire real estate developer, Rick Caruso. Bass has said solving L.A.'s homeless crisis is one of her top priorities. She said in a statement that she is, quote, honored and humbled to be chosen as the city's mayor. She will replace the incumbent, Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is termed out and awaiting confirmation as U.S. ambassador to India.

COLLINS: All right. There's a manhunt under way as a college town in IDAHO is on edge this morning after four students at the University of Idaho were stabbed to death off campus. Right now, still more questions than answers as police are saying they cannot guarantee anyone's safety. People are fleeing the town because they are so scared right now.

Veronica Miracle is live for CNN This Morning in Moscow, Idaho. And what stood out to me about this press conference by police yesterday was -- they were saying that even though they believed these stabbings happened in the early hours of Sunday, they didn't get a 911 call until closer to noon.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So many questions, Kaitlan, around what exactly happened. They won't tell us who made the 911 call at this point. But there were roommates home, we have more on that. And also police are saying that there is evidence to suggest this was a targeted attack but they won't say what that is. They also have no suspect. And with all of these questions still out there, the community is demanding answers.


CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO POLICE: And as we have stated, please stay vigilant, report any suspicious activity and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

MIRACLE (voice over): The city of Moscow, Idaho, is on edge. FRY: We do not have a suspect at this time and that individual is still out there. We cannot say that there's no threat to the community.

MIRACLE: The college town shaken by the brutal killings of four young University of Idaho students. Police say the victims, all members of Greek Life on Campus, appear to have been friends, pictured in this photo posted by 21-year-old senior Kaylee Goncalves hours before their deaths.

FRY: We know the killings occurred in the early morning hours of Sunday, November 13th.

MIRACLE: Kaylee was killed alongside 20-year-old Xana Kernodle, a junior, 21-year-old senior Madison Mogen and 20-year-old freshman Ethan Chapin. Their bodies were found inside this home on Sunday across from the campus. Officials said there was no evidence of forced entry into the home. Police say the four arrived home after 1:45 A.M. Sunday but were killed in the early morning hours. There were no calls made to 911 until noon that day. Though no weapon has been located, Moscow Police Chief James Fry said all four victims were killed with a knife. The local coroner described the gruesome scene to CNN-affiliate KXLY.

CATHY MABBUTT, LATAH COUNTY CORONER: There was quite a bit of blood in the apartment. And it was a pretty traumatic scene to find four dead college students in a residence.

MIRACLE: The police chief has also revealed two additional roommates were in the house at the time of the killings. Neither of them sustained injuries. The chief declined to say what information the survivors shared with police.

FRY: We're not going to go any further into what they know and what they don't know.

MIRACLE: Families who would have been planning Thanksgiving dinner are now forced to deal with the tragedy.

STACY CHAPIN, ETHAN CHAPIN'S MOTHER: We're just trying to process it. It's not a call that you think that you're going to have to speak with funeral home directors and the FBI, and have it hit national news.

MIRACLE: Ethan Chapin's father also issued a statement Wednesday, calling on police to release further information about the case. The statement reads, quote, the silence further compounds our family's agony after our son's murder. I urge officials to speak the truth, share what they know, find the assailant and protect the greater community.

For now, more questions than answers continue to plague the Moscow community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one would have ever imagined something like this could happen in Moscow, Idaho, in such a small town.


MIRACLE (on camera): I am told that these roommates are fully cooperating with the investigation. And while police have not labeled them as suspects, they are not ruling anyone out. Kaitlan?

COLLINS: A lot of questions there, especially with the fact that the person who is responsible for this is still at large. Veronica, thank you for that update.

LEMON: And this morning, U.S. officials are scrambling to ease rising tensions after a stray missile killed two people in Poland. President Biden disputing Ukrainian President Zelenskyy's claim that the missile was not from Ukraine as both NATO and Russia tried to avoid a wider conflict.


REPORTER: What's your reaction to President Zelenskyy saying that the missiles that landed in Poland were not Ukrainian?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: That's not the evidence.


LEMON: CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is live for us in Moscow this morning with more. Good morning to you, Frederik.


Where are we on this issue?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, Don. Well, exactly what you heard just there from President Biden apparently not being on the same page as the Ukrainian president. That's certainly something that the Russians seem to be enjoying hearing. One of the things that the Kremlin spokesman said, we actually just got out of a conference call with him a couple minutes ago, he said that he praised President Biden for showing restraint in reaction to what happened there in Poland. Obviously, President Biden coming out fairly early and saying that it seems as though the rocket or the missile that landed there on Polish territory, that that seems to have been launched by Ukraine.

But then the Russians ripping into the Ukrainians and the Poles as well accusing them of hysteria and trying to essentially drag NATO into a full-on conflict with the Russians. So, you can see the Russians really trying to capitalize on that. It was quite interesting, because in the phone call as well, he was asked about the fact that NATO allies are saying that, ultimately, Russia bears responsibility for this because, of course, the Russians unleashed that war in Ukraine and also are doing those cruise missile strikes across the country that's damaging critical infrastructure there.

The Russians essentially trying to play that back at the U.S., saying, look, if NATO had done more to restrain Ukraine in the past and taken Russia's security concerns into account, this war wouldn't have happened either, so you can really the Russians trying to throw that back at the U.S.

There's one other thing that we also learned, which I think is also really important, Don. He was also asked whether or not there could be a lull in fighting in the winter. Because right now with those attacks on the critical infrastructure, you do have a lot of people, of course, freezing in Ukraine and he simply said that the weather will not stop what Russians call their special military operations. So, it certainly seems as though no hope that the war might wind down or go slower in winter, Don.

LEMON: Frederik Pleitgen in Moscow for us this morning, thank you, Fred.

HARLOW: Meantime, top U.S. General Mark Milley says it is not likely that Ukraine will achieve an outright military victory against Russia. That is very significant. He went on to say they may have the upper hand, meaning Ukraine, in potential negotiations though because of recent wins in the battlefield. Listen.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINTS CHIEF OF STAFF: The probability of a Ukrainian military victory defined as kicking the Russians out of all Ukraine, to include what they define what they claim as Crimea, the probability of that happening any time soon is not high.

There may be a political solution where, politically, the Russians withdraw. That's possible.


HARLOW: So, that push for diplomacy is not in line with the Biden administration's stance.

Kylie Atwood joins us now. I mean, how unaligned then are they?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting here is that the chairman of the joint chief of staff made similar comments last week, Poppy, where he encouraged publically that the Ukrainians should be seizing diplomacy at this moment. Because he said when there's an opportunity, they should seize it. But then you have National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who said, no, no, no, no, when he was asked in recent days. He said the position of the Biden administration is that the United States is going to strengthen Ukraine's hand in the war and then they will seek diplomacy. They will seek a political solution when they want to. The United States isn't going to make that determination for them. So, it's pretty striking that Milley came out just yesterday and sort of doubled down on what he said even though it doesn't match the approach of the Biden administration at large here.

And we should note that it has sent some Ukrainians with questions as to who to listen to in the Biden administration, even though President Biden himself has been very clear saying the Ukrainians are going to dictate any political solution here, any diplomatic solution here. There are questions when you have the top U.S. general saying that maybe this is the moment for diplomacy.

HARLOW: You certainly do. Before you go, Kylie, you have some new reporting of your own on what happened behind the scenes as information on that missile landed in Poland. What happened?

ATWOOD: Yes. So, when the missile landed, President Biden was in Bali. It was 4:00 in the morning when the secretary of state was woken in his hotel room with an aide knocking on his door and telling him what had happened. He immediately went into President Biden's room where the secretary of state, the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and the president really huddled around together, collected all of the incoming information.

In a way, it's kind of beneficial that they were all in a hotel together even though this was a circumstance everyone was fearing could happen. And as they went through that information, President Biden called the Polish president and his national security adviser and the secretary of state were in there for that phone call and then the national security adviser made phone calls to the Ukrainians essentially urging them not to get too far ahead because they said that this was a Russian missile. We know it's unlikely that's the case. It was likely an accidental Ukrainian defensive missile.


And so there were a number of conversations that were happening in that hotel room at the time, as the national security team was trying to go through and figure out what was going on here.

HARLOW: Yes, and if this was purposeful, for sure. Kylie Atwood, thank you for the great reporting.

Okay. More calls for change within the Republican Party. Arkansas's outgoing Governor Asa Hutchinson tells us what he thinks the GOP needs ahead 2024. There he is.

LEMON: And after four years of, quote, loyalty, those calls for change were echoed by one of Trump's closest allies.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think we'll have better choices than my old running mate.




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: If Donald Trump were to run and win the nomination, would you support him as the nominee?

PENCE: Well, let me say, there may be somebody else in that contest I'd prefer more, Jake.


TAPPER: Anyone in mind?

PENCE: You know, I honestly believe we're going to have better choices.


LEMON: That is the former vice president calling for new leadership in the Republican Party during a CNN town hall. His independence now stands out after his years of unfailing loyalty to Trump. In one cabinet meeting in 2017, he famously spent three minutes straight praising Trump to his face. Pence writes in the first line of his new book, I have always been loyal to President Donald Trump.


PENCE: President Donald Trump delivered a great victory for the American people.

Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.

I'm deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here. Because of your leadership, Mr. President, you're delivering on that middle class miracle.

Thank you, Mr. President. And it's just the greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who's keeping his word to the American people.

This day should be an inspiration to every American. Because thanks to your leadership --

And thank to the leadership of president Donald Trump, America is back.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mike Pence, a great guy, and, by the way, a totally loyal person.


COLLINS: Like former Vice President Pence, Arkansas' Republican governor says it's clear that voters are rejecting election denial as any kind of platform for the GOP. Governor Asa Hutchinson, whose term ends in January and who has been maybe testing the presidential waters in Iowa, joins us now.

Governor, you're basically arguing that Trump offered a losing message when he announced on Tuesday night. I wonder what does a successful Republican candidate in 2024 look like to you.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Well, a successful candidate is someone who addresses the problems that faces America. As you mentioned, I was in Iowa yesterday and people are concerned about the rising cost, the excessive government spending, and they want their lives back, their freedoms back, and that's the Republican message. And this last midterm election was not a rejection of our ideas, it was a rejection of specific candidates that was not focused on the problems of Americans. And so that's the candidates -- those are the ones that can win, I agree with the vice president, there's going to be a number of alternatives in 2024 to the former president's announcement.

COLLINS: Are you potential one of those alternatives?

HUTCHINSON: Absolutely. I'm looking at it, looking at it very seriously. After the midterm elections, it's more intense and it's an accelerated review. And after going to Iowa, I'm encouraged that a governor, who's actually solved problems, who has a conservative common sense approach can draw support and can be a good alternative. So, I'm encouraged by it, probably looking at January for a decision point.

COLLINS: January as a decision point. There are a number of you though who are considering getting in this race. We've been talking about it all week. Are you worried a crowded Republican primary field might benefit Trump like it did in 2016 though?

HUTCHINSON: I think this is different than 2016. And if you look at 2016, the crowded field was a disadvantage. It allowed Trump to pick one after the other and knock them out. People understand who Donald Trump is today and his style. And I don't think there's going to be anything new in his approach. And so you have got to be tough, you have to be resilient and you have got to stick with it in the long- term.

But I don't believe it will be the same as 2016. He's a known quantity now. We know the chaos that comes with him. And that's really not the kind of leadership that's good for America and really the future of our party.

LEMON: Governor, good morning to you, it's Don Lemon here, I was trying to jump in earlier, pardon me for that. So, listen, this is what I want to ask you. Look, a lot of folks want to move on, and we've heard many members of the Republican Party wanting to move on. We have to be honest because even without Trump, Trumpism still exists. And there's still uncivil vindictive wing of the GOP, and you know who I'm talking about. I don't have to mention names there. How is that going to go away?

HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, it's a tough internal battle within the GOP. I mean, that's the reality of it. We have got to face that, we have got to overcome it and we have got to pull everybody together. We understand the playing field here. You have got a former president that's got a very loyal following, you have got a bellicose part of our party and we have got to compete with ideas, with the tone, with the problem-solving approach.


And I'd like to think that wins but we have to see.

And it's going to be that internal struggle and we can't shy away from it. You have to embrace it, you have to smile, you have to recognize some good things that Donald Trump did absolutely as president. But this is a different day and time. We're looking for a new leader in 2024. And for me, I don't want to turn the party over to the past. I want it to develop the principles for the future.

LEMON: Listen, I understand what you're saying. But, practically, like what are -- are you -- is it telling those members, your words, bellicose, right, to face a reality that the party is shrinking? I mean, look at what happened last Tuesday. I mean, what are the -- how do you do that in actual practice?

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's a very important point. The midterm elections was not a rejection of Republican principles, it was simply a rejection of certain candidates. In Iowa, it was a red wave in Iowa. In Arkansas, we had a red wave. We had good candidates in both places. And some states, you didn't have that same quality of candidates looking for the future.

So, it's about those ideas and I have no doubt that we can have a winning message even in this environment because we've proven it can be done in this last election. You know, we didn't do what we wanted to do nationally but it was a rejection of certain candidates who were focused on the past, and that's what we have to overcome and make sure we offer solutions for the future and not just debating what happened in the last election.

HARLOW: Governor, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We're glad you're here. You're welcome back in January when you make the presidential announcement as well.

But let's talk about something significant happening in the Senate right now and the fact that they're about to vote with the support of 12 Republican senators to enshrine the right to same-sex marriage federally. And it is a narrow bill, right? It wouldn't force any state to perform same-sex marriage but just recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states, and I wonder if you support it.

HUTCHINSON: Well, I mean, first of all I don't know that it was necessary, because after the recent Supreme Court decision that recognized the constitutional right for same-sex marriages, Arkansas followed the law, followed the Supreme Court ruling, and it's allowed in Arkansas. And so that standard is out there based upon a constitutional principle. And so the federal legislation made it clear, perhaps, and so it wouldn't -- it's not going to change what we have at Arkansas and I certainly support the continuation of the recognizing of that constitutional right.

HARLOW: But that's what people said about abortion and then there was Dobbs. You're a lawyer, you have a J.D. And this court, Alito's decision, said essentially the substantive due process right isn't there. And that brings into question whether all of these substantive due process rights are there. So, couldn't that same argument used in Dobbs be used in a case against same-sex marriage to try to overturn Obergefell?

HUTCHINSON: Well, perhaps theoretically, but Judge Alito also said, don't read into this that you're going to overturn the other decisions related to same-sex marriages.

HARLOW: Except that wasn't the law, right? That was just dicta.

HUTCHINSON: He said it in a decision certainly, certainly, again, theoretically. And so the legislation was passed in the Senate yesterday. I have no issue with that. They wanted to ensure that everybody had that confidence and the states have already embraced that. So, that is the status quo, that is the law, that's a recognition of that constitutional right.

LEMON: So, just to be clear, you support it but you didn't think it was necessary? Is that your stance?

HUTCHINSON: That's correct. That's correct. We followed it in Arkansas, the Supreme Court decision. And I just don't think what happened yesterday was necessary. But it's okay.

HARLOW: We're glad you're here, yes.

COLLINS: Governor, thank you so much. January, as Poppy said, we will be looking forward to welcoming you back. So, make sure you join us here on CNN This Morning.

LEMON: When you make the announcement right here on CNN first, CNN This Morning first.

HARLOW: I got them all riled up, Governor.

COLLINS: Thank you so much, Governor.

HARLOW: Thank you.

HUTCHINSON: All right. Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. Ahead, some new data to help you mentally prepare for the Thanksgiving travel rush.

HARLOW: Also, Amazon is the latest big tech company to announce significant layoffs. Our Vanessa Yurkevich is going to explain why so many in tech are losing their jobs so fast.