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CNN This Morning

Historic, Massive Snowstorm Bearing Down on New York; Twitter Workers Reject Elon Musk's Hardcore Work Ultimatum; Alcohol Sales to be Banned at World Cup Stadiums in Qatar. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 07:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Or leave, and they're leaving.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: After clinching the majority just fairly, House Republicans are now preparing to investigate the Biden family's business dealings when they take control in January. We'll tell you what CNN has learned exclusively from one Republican about their plans.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And the World Cup about to begin in Qatar but there won't be alcohol. We're live for you in Doha.

HARLOW: But, first, this historic storm that could dump more than five feet of snow, that's right, some 60 inches potentially in parts of Western New York. Buffalo is no stranger to snow but this storm may paralyze the city in surrounding with periods of near zero visibility throughout the weekend. They could see a month's worth of snow in just hours.

New York's governor has already declared a state of emergency in 11 upstate counties and all around. 6 million people are going to be impacted by this.

Let's go to our meteorologist, Chad Myers, for the latest. We're saying winter wallop and joking. This is no joke. I mean, this can be deadly and incredibly dangerous, right?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. You really have zero visibility on many roads this morning, and so most of the schools have been closed in the Buffalo, anywhere in the Niagara frontier for that matter.

Here is what the radar looks like, immediate snowing in Wisconsin, it's snowing in Michigan, but the main stream, the fire hose of snow is right here south of Buffalo, into Hamburg, into Cheektowaga, where I grew up, West Seneca all the way down to Depew and Lancaster. That's the area east roar (ph). Those are the areas that are picking up the heavy snow now.

On the other side, Upstate New York here from Lake Ontario, it's snowing back in Watertown. Williamstown has already picked up two feet. Now, this is not Williamsville near Buffalo, where Wolf Blitzer is from. This is near Syracuse. But the numbers here from Hamburg to Orchard Park, where the game would have been played, already a foot- and-a-half. Lake-effect snow warning still in effect.

What's going to happen today? Well, the wind is going to shift. Where we are right now, the winds are south and south of Buffalo. So, that's where the snow is. But later on tonight into tomorrow, those winds shift a little bit farther to the north and Buffalo, Williamsville, Tonawanda, you're back in it, Kenmore. These are the areas that are going to pick up two to three inches of snow per hour, up to six or seven hours at a time.

So, I guess we are going to see significant snow today and then into tonight, and then the snow comes into Buffalo as we work our way into tomorrow morning, Buffalo proper, and we're talking south towns. There's an awful lot of Buffalo around Buffalo and an awful lot of people there. It finally ends during the day, tomorrow and into Sunday. But there's three additional feet.

No, I've already shown you numbers that are 20 inches, 20 inches-plus another 36, you're up to 56 or more in some of these snow belt areas, Poppy, dangerous, dangerous stuff here for these people.

HARLOW: Well, they know how to deal with it, though. All right, so we're wishing them well. And they still get to watch the Bills, just in Detroit. So, thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

LEMON: Chad, thank you very much.

So, let's go to CNN's Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten with this morning's number. I would imagine, Harry, correct me if I'm wrong, it's going to be 60 because it's 60 inches of snow expected. Is this the most on record?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. So, I mean, look, if you like snow, you love -- well, there we go -- you'll love Buffalo, New York. Because take a look here, the biggest four-day snowfalls at the Buffalo International Airport, look at that, you go back to 2001, 61 inches. All the top five spots on here are three feet of snow or more. So, Buffalo is used to the snow but if you get up to that, say, five feet, you're heading towards the record since the 1943, '44 winter.

Now, lake-effect snow in Buffalo and Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, this is something that happens frequently. How does this actually work? It's not a like low pressure system is riding up the eastern sea board, like we're used to here in the city. What happens is, as the cold air goes over the warm lake, Erie in this case by Buffalo, the moisture gets transported over nearby land and the bands can be really intense but they're narrow.

It's not like you get the snow band going from New York to Boston on the East Coast. It's really over a few miles. So, it can be snowing really intensely in Buffalo, but then down south where the Bills play in Orchard Park, a suburb, it can actually be sunny skies. And, yes, by the way, I did go to weather camp, that's why I'm qualified to make the slide.

Now, if you look in terms of bad weather NFL games, look, the Packers versus Cowboys, the Ice Bowl back in 1967, it was minus 13 degrees during much of that game.

How about the snowiest? Well, it's sort of unofficial, but eight to nine inches fell during the snowball, the Bills versus the Colts back in 2017. I could tell you, watching that game, it was literally blind. You couldn't see anything going on.

And how about weather that it's so bad that the game was moved? Yes, that's actually happened before. I remember that, the Bills versus the Jets moved to Detroit in 2014. So, what's going on with the Bills moving to Detroit this time around, that does happen.

Of course, many people in Western New York are worried about their Buffalo Bills. And let tell you, this game means a lot because the Bills' chance of winning the Super Bowl is currently 12 percent. That's second best in the league. With a win, it goes up to 14 percent, but with a loss, it goes down to 7 percent.


So, they may be cold, but if their Bills win, I know those folks in Western New York will be more than willing to take the snow. Guys?

LEMON: Okay. That was a lot of information.

HARLOW: What's the Viking's chance of winning the Super Bowl, because we just beat the Bills?

ENTEN: Weather campus in Penn State, New York, in state college, the Viking's chance of winning the Super Bowl is actually less than the Bills. The Chiefs have a better chance of winning. But, hey, if the Vikings keep winning and getting Justin Jefferson to make those unbelievable catches, those chances will only go up.

LEMON: That's all great, but we're thinking about the people in Buffalo in that area, because it's going to be very serious for them. So, thank you, Harry. I appreciate it.

COLLINS: All right. Also this morning, North Korea has launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile this month, one of its most powerful yet. The launch is coming as Vice President Harris is currently in Thailand for an economic summit. This sent officials scrambling, understandably, as they have now condemned the row regime's conduct, saying it is a brazen violation that, quote, unnecessarily raises tensions.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Thailand. And, Will, despite these condemnations coming from the White House, coming from other allies, North Korea keeps launching these missiles.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And there's a reason for that, Kaitlan. It's because the one that needs to be condemning them, which would be Xi Jinping of China, who is also here in Bangkok, is remaining silent on this. China putting out a very neutral statement, as they always do, when North Korea continually violates and flagrantly violates United Nations Security Council resolutions.

They've launched around 50 ballistic missiles this year. Each one of those ballistic missile launches goes against the United Nations. But even when you have the vice president, Harris, convening that emergency meeting and getting leaders of Canada and New Zealand and Australia and Japan and South Korea, to condemn the launch, frankly, China is the gatekeeper. They're the ones that either enforce sanctions or they don't. And as much as the United Nations tries to step up sanctions this year consistently, they haven't been able to get a unified statement out of the U.N. Security Council because Russia and China have veto power and they're refusing to veto these launches.

And this launch, Kaitlan, it traveled more than 3,700 miles up into space. Basically, United States officials believe this proves the missile could theoretically reach any city in the mainland U.S.

COLLINS: Will Ripley, thanks so much for that update. We know we'll monitor this, as the White House is as well.

HARLOW: All right. Twitter employees rejecting Elon Musk's hardcore -- that was his word -- hardcore work ultimatum and fleeing the company this morning in droves despite a bleak outlook for those in the tech industry. Musk's changes drawing not just scrutiny from critics on Capitol Hill, really, from everywhere. Listen.


SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA) (voice over): I wasn't sure that he understood the role that twitter plays in our society. I wasn't sure that he understood that, compared to rocket science, democracy is much more complicated.


HARLOW: That is Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.

CNN's Oliver Darcy joins us now with his reporting. And I think that that -- like everyone sort of wants, and the buzz headlines, like, oh my God, what is Elon Musk doing to Twitter, and can you believe this, and it's so unreal. The reality here is sort of the critical role it plays in this democracy and around the world, by the way, in other places where there are authoritarian regimes, and the concern that this could all go away or get really screwed up.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes. This can disrupt communications for a lot of people. I mean, world leaders are on Twitter, right? And now death is in the air on Twitter. I mean, yesterday, last night, the top worldwide trend was RIP Twitter, because people can sense this platform is really falling apart at the scenes.

I was talking to a number of Twitter employees yesterday, former and current, and they're wondering whether they can keep the lights on at the moment, and that's because of the mass exodus that occurred at the company yesterday. And you saw droves, hundreds of employees seemingly resign their position because they didn't want to work hardcore, as Elon Musk put it.

And so the question now is whether they can keep basic functions online and whether they can keep the platform secure, because there are a lot of important people, like the president, for instance, who use Twitter to communicate to the world.

LEMON: So, everyone from the president on down, and you mentioned in authoritarian countries. The very simple question is, what the hell is going on here? What is going on here?

DARCY: Elon Musk is really just causing mayhem. That's the short answer of it. I mean, you remember a couple weeks ago, they fired or laid off about half of the staff, and that was a big deal. They also had to get some of those people back onto the company a few days later because they realized they needed those staff members just to keep basic functions afloat.

A couple of days ago, Elon Musk gave them this ultimatum. He said, work hardcore, which, in his case, seems to be sleeping at the office, or leave Twitter and get three months of severance. And the people were given a deadline of 5:00 P.M. yesterday, and they basically decided in droves, I mean, like, hundreds of employees, to resign from the company.


So, their whole workforce is depleted.

LEMON: Let me be more specific about my question. When I say, what the hell is going on, did he buy a company, that he's a wealthy man, that he could not afford, that he does not understand, or that he did really not want? Do you understand what I'm saying?

DARCY: I hear what you're saying. I mean, that's the $44 billion question, right, Don. What is he doing with this massive communications platform and massive company? I'm not sure I can get in Elon Musk's head, but it's really causing a lot of disruption over at Twitter.

COLLINS: I know you've been talking to Twitter employees. You've been talking about what's happening, what they're being told. I think the other side of this, though, and if you're someone who may be as an ally of Elon's or you view favorably that he now owns Twitter, the question is, is there a strategy in all of this?

DARCY: I mean, I think if we talk to people who are close with Elon, they would say that there is a strategy, of course. He wants to improve the platform. He wants disrupt it and create a subscription service, for instance. It's just that he's moving so fast, he is just breaking everything in the process.

I mean, there's something to be about people who take risks and move fast and break things, but in this case, he is just destroying the platform seemingly from the inside and he has alienated the entire workforce. I mean, this was a workforce that was really tightly knit and they are really alienated from Elon Musk at this point and to the point where they're just leaving the company in droves.

HARLOW: People's livelihoods, and it's very hard to get a job in tech now given all the layoffs, I'm not sure how well move fast and break things has ever worked out, from the originator of the quote, Mark Zuckerberg, on down.

DARCY: And I think Elon Musk is finding that out last night. He posted it on Twitter. I have it here actually. He said, how do you make a small fortune in social media start out with a large one?

HARLOW: All right. Oliver, thank you.

LEMON: In the meantime, we're going to talk about what is happening in Washington now. Now that they'll take control of the House, Republicans are aiming right at President Biden and his family. Watch this.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): In the 118th Congress, this committee will evaluate the status of Joe Biden's relationship with his family's foreign partners and whether he is a president who is compromised or swayed by foreign dollars and influence.

I want to be clear, this is an investigation of Joe Biden. And that's where the committee will focus in this next Congress.


LEMON: Well, James Comer, the top Republican on the Oversight Committee, telling CNN the committee will subpoena Hunter Biden but not the president.

CNN Anchor and Senior Washington Correspondent Pamela Brown is here. She spoke with him about the committee's plans and she joins us. So, Pamela, good morning to you. What did Comer tell you?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you heard there, clearly, Republicans are trying, Don, to rebrand this as the Joe Biden investigation, not just the Hunter Biden investigation. And I sat down with James Comer, the incoming chairman of the Oversight Committee, and he's told me pointblank that the committee has no plans to subpoena Joe Biden. And he underscores the challenge for Republicans and investigating a sitting president as they try to tie him to his son's business dealings.


BROWN: If they don't give you the information, you would use subpoenas. But are there any discussions, plans, to eventially subpoena Joe Biden and/or his son, Hunter Biden?

COMER: There's no plans to subpoena Joe Biden. There are plans to subpoena Hunter Biden.

BROWN: What does that timeline look like?

COMER: Well, I mean, if I were Hunter Biden, Pam, I would want to come before my committee and prove my innocence, you know, because I said some things today that should be very concerning to Hunter Biden.

BROWN: Why then would you not subpoena Joe Biden if this is all about Joe Biden?

COMER: Well, it's complicated to subpoena the president of the United States.

BROWN: But it has been done with several presidents.

COMER: It has been done and the Democrats sent out subpoenas like junk mail. And that's why it's hard to get people to come in.


BROWN: So, he claims that he wants to be more disciplined with subpoenas. Of course, time will only tell if that will happen.

And we should note, a spokesperson for the White House Counsel's Office for the Biden White House says that this is a politically motivated attack chalked full of conspiracy theories. Don?

LEMON: All right. To that point, then, what's the there there? Is there any there there? Are these retribution for the Democratic investigations into the former president?

BROWN: Yes. I asked him pointblank, is this settling the score because Republicans were unhappy about what Democrats did with Donald Trump? Now, he says, no, it is not. It has nothing to do with that. Even if Democrats hadn't investigated Trump, this would still be happening.

But I pressed on whether this was really the mandate from voters. Of course, as you know, Don, the midterms, they were all about economy, inflation, crime, of course, this has nothing to do with that. And so I press him on whether this is really what voters want. Will this improve their daily lives? And he said, look, 92 percent of the Republican conference is not on the Oversight Committee. And so they're going to be focused on those other issues that are clearly top of mind for voters and that this will be a focus of the Oversight Committee. He also said that they're going to walk and chew gum at the same time, so that they'll be looking at other issues as well.



LEMON: The American people are dealing with a lot of things. I'm not sure this is one of them, but we'll see. Thank you, Pamela Brown. We appreciate it. COLLINS: One thing that complicates those investigative efforts is the small majority that Republicans have in the House. Former President Barack Obama is weighing in on the midterms and the outcome. He warned about threats to democracy on the campaign trail. Last night, as he was speaking with Trevor Noah, he praised his party for defeating a lot of election deniers.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because of some really concerted efforts in a lot of important states, some of the most egregious, prominent and potentially dangerous election deniers, they got thumped. They got beat. And particularly in the secretary of state races and in some cases governor races, where the next presidential election, you could have somebody who could really do some damage. There, I think, we held the line.


COLLINS: Joining us now to talk about the comments made by President Obama is CNN's Senior Political Analyst John Avlon.


COLLINS: 2006, it was -- Bush said it was a thumping. Obama said it was a shellacking. And now he's saying that the election deniers themselves got thumped Tuesday night.

AVLON: Yes, the thump is on the other foot in this midterm. But, really, President Obama was talking about in his interview but also in this conference that his foundation put together is how we defend democracy.

Look, we see every day, it's easy for politicians to get a lot of headlines by assaulting democracy, by undermining democracy. It's more difficult and more important as citizens but also as civic leaders to focus on solutions to defending democracy. And that's really what this conference was about and, frankly, it needs to be more about. There needs to be more leadership role on focusing. But President Obama in his speech did put forward some concrete ideas, and that's a relief because we don't talk enough about solutions.

LEMON: Well, he seems like it was a much more dire warning about democracy. Listen to this and then respond to it.


OBAMA: What's being challenged are the foundational principles of democracy itself, the notion that all citizens have a right to freely participate in selecting who governs them, the notion that votes will be counted and the party that gets more votes wins, that losers concede, that power is transferred peacefully, that the winners don't abuse the machinery of government to punish losers.

And we're going to have to figure out how to live together or we will destroy each other. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Look, it's not a direct criticism of his predecessor, although he has done that. He has kind of broken from that unwritten rule that most presidents do, right? But, still, this is -- for him, this has become a mission, it feels like.

AVLON: It should be a mission for all of us. I mean, you just look at what he laid out there. These are all the common assumptions of what it means to live in a democracy, first with the most votes wins, there's a peaceful transfer of power. All of those things have been blown up in the last few years, and so building it back is always more difficult and more important than destroying things, which is relatively easy. And so that's why you have got to bring the conversation, as he did, but, frankly, I think, needs to lean into more the questions about civic education, combating disinformation, really strengthening majority --

LEMON: Civic education.

AVLON: How about that? I get fired up a lot.

HARLOW: Yes. By the way, why isn't that like a key thing we teach our kids in school, by the way? But it was that last line --

LEMON: Did you have civics? I had a civics class in high school. Did you have civics?

HARLOW: I think not. Well, I'm old. So, I'm saying in this context about like where we are now with our threats democracy, that it should change.

AVLON: Civics education got folded into social studies.

HARLOW: Yes, that's it.

But, John, that last line where he said, we have to learn to live together or we will destroy each other, you're a student of history, you write so beautifully about it, how close are we to where we have been before as he gives that warning?

AVLON: Our country is still in a very dangerous place. Let's not get too much false hope about the fact that the election saw election deniers being thrown out. The mere fact that many were competitive on the ballot represents an existential threat, not in this election but in the next. That's what we're staring down the barrel at.

And so I do think we all need to retain that sense of deep civic commitment rooted in patriotism to defend our democracy across partisan lines. That's a basic obligation. But we have got to focus on specific solutions to do it. And that's where I think we got to roll up our sleeves and not afraid to get the wonk on because it is a lot of -- it's civic education, it's election reforms, you change the rules, you change the game, and ranked choice voting. And look what Republicans are going to be facing now with winner-take-all primaries. There needs to be a conversation about that. COLLINS: The thing is you're pushing back against so much misinformation, and I think that's --

AVLON: Yes, we are.

COLLINS: -- even if you tell people what something actually is, they still don't always want to believe.

AVLON: But isn't that the great opportunity and obligation of journalism?

LEMON: I hope that somebody is listening. Who is that, Missy Elliot, Get Your Freak On, Get Your Wonk On.

AVLON: Get your wonk on. But combating disinformation is one of the things he discussed and it's something we all have to rise to do, but we're in a good place to do it.

HARLOW: You always do it for us. Thank you, John Avlon.

All right, kicking off amid controversy. Next, we're going to take you to Doha, Qatar, ahead of the World Cup, what they just banned at the games.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm David Culver live in Ciudad Juarez. We're also going to bring you here to the U.S./Mexico border where I'm going to show you coming up how a U.S. federal judge's ruling is now motivating many of these migrants who are camped out here and have been here for weeks to cross over to that side into the U.S.


LEMON: All eyes are on Qatar ahead of Sunday's FIFA World Cup kickoff. Expectations are high but the buildup has been tainted by controversy over the gulf country's record of human rights abuses, including against women, foreign workers and LGBTQ people.


Let's bring in now Amanda Davies live for us in Qatar. Hello to you. Take us behind the scenes. What's happening here?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Don, I have to say another day, another headline on a different level to human rights abuses but one that isn't going to win Qatar any fans from certain parts of the world you suspect the announcement that alcoholic beer will not be sold in stadiums at matches, despite the fact Budweiser is one of the top tier sponsors.

Qatar has increasingly, in recent months, put out the message that this first World Cup in the Middle East, everyone is welcome, respect our culture, but we are doing this on our terms. The teams for their part have many of them decided to fight this battle on and off the pitch. The U.S. Men's National Team coach, Gregg Berhalter, and his players displaying the rainbow logo at the training camp. They've had a kick about with some of the migrant workers. They say they're going to live by their slogan, play by their slogan, be the change.

LEMON: All right. Amanda Davies, thank you very much.

HARLOW: Well, this morning fear and confusion on the U.S. southern border after a federal judge ruled to block U.S. authorities from using Title 42, that is the Trump-era law that was used during COVID, to turn away migrants seeking asylum at the southern border. More than a million migrants have been expelled under this immigration policy.

Let's go to our colleague, David Culver. He is in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, right across from El Paso. It's so important you're there, David, because the question is what does this mean actually for those migrants?

CULVER: It's the same question, Poppy, that many of these migrants have been asking us. I mean, there is so much confusion, there's a lot of uncertainty, and they have been camped out here, some of them for several weeks. They've been traveling from their origin countries, many of them, the vast majority, from Venezuela, which is dealing with a huge humanitarian crisis right now, and making their way here over the course of several months.

So, as they've been camped out here, let me show, this is where hundreds of tents are actually set up behind me, and then you can see over there, that's the border, that's El Paso. They have been hearing trickling out of the U.S. some of the news about this U.S. federal judge's ruling. The problem is, the fine print isn't coming across here. And that fine print states that the policy is still in effect for another five weeks, meaning, the folks who have been going over, there has been a steady surge, and we can show you some of the video that we captured yesterday, a lot of families, a lot of people who have just said that perhaps this is now their time to be able to enter the U.S. illegally, they're going with a lot of false hope and confusion that perhaps this policy is no longer in place. But it is.

And so what happens once they get to the other side? Well, depends who you ask. It's a case by case basis. It's been very much determined on the individual and some individuals have said they've been managing to get through. We know that through some of the migrants who have been in touch with family and friends who say that their loved ones have been successful. Others have ended up back on a bus, if they're lucky, being dropped off back here in Ciudad Juarez, but others, even though they started here, have been taken to places much farther away, cities that are far more dangerous, and that has been their concern.

From the U.S. side of things, Poppy, Department of Homeland Security says that they are stepping up resources, that they expected this to happen, that they anticipate it, to be able to handle the influx, which could be, Poppy, as many as 18,000 people a day. So, it's going to be overwhelming. HARLOW: Yes. And the federal judge in overturning this saying, look, when this was done, it was arbitrary and capricious, but still things don't change for these folks for five weeks. David, thank you for showing us what it actually means.

LEMON: And up next what the former First Lady Michelle Obama kept her from wearing her natural hair while at the White House.

COLLINS: And what is annoyed. Jeopardy fans are nipped (ph) this morning in calling out the show over some recent clues, including one that left them appalled.