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Severe Weather Threatens 30 Million Americans; Michigan High School Shooter Sentenced; Man Fires Gun Outside Synagogue; Dan Senor is Interviewed about Anti-Semitism on Campuses; 124th Edition of Army- Navy Rivalry. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired December 08, 2023 - 06:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: The pressure for them to resign.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But, first, meteorologist Allison Chinchar tracking a trio of weather threats millions of Americans are facing this weekend. What do you see?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it all starts with today, the potential for some strong to severe thunderstorms. The main focus today is across areas of Arkansas. Tomorrow, still over Arkansas, but now you start to see it spread east and also expand. The main threats here are going to be tornadoes, damaging winds and the potential for hail. We're talking cities like Nashville, down to New Orleans, and back to Houston.

And it's all thanks to this system setting up over the center of the country. That's going to bring rain from the Midwest all the way down to the Gulf Coast, snow in the upper Midwest. But as this system continues to progress eastward, it's going to take all of that heavy rain, pretty much up and down the eastern seaboard as we wrap up the back half of the weekend.

We'll be right back after this break.



MATTINGLY: Today closes a chapter for families shattered by a mass shooting at a high school outside Detroit. The 17-year-old who admitted to killing four people at Oxford High School two years ago will be sentenced in a matter of hours. Seven people, including a teacher, were injured.

This morning, Ethan Crumbley faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. And CNN's Omar Jimenez spoke to a father who will be in court today to face the person who murdered his son.


CRAIG SHILLING, VICTIM'S FATHER: Every single day I have is cloudy. There's this emptiness. A big void in your heart, you know, with family life. That's been the hardest.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Craig Shilling is the father of Justin Shilling, one of four students killed by a classmate in Oxford, Michigan, in November 2021. Justin's parents are joining the hundreds of American families who've had to meld grief with legal procedure. In this case the gunman pleaded guilty to terrorism and murder charges in October 2022. The sentence could be life without parole, the harshest penalty available in Michigan.

JILL SOAVE, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Nothing is enough. You know, he gets to live, and my son doesn't.

SHILLING: That's not enough.

JIMENEZ: Why is it not enough?

SHILLING: I personally feel that when you do something like that, that you should meet the same fate.

JIMENEZ (voice over): In some of Shilling's final moments, he was hiding in a bathroom with another student, Keegan Gregory, who was texting his family in real time. "He killed him. OMFG." Gregory ran and survived.

MEGHAN GREGORY, SURVIVOR'S MOTHER: The day he came home, he sat with us and he said, I shouldn't have left him, but there's nothing he could have done.

JIMENEZ: The shooter himself, of course, you feel there are others that need to be held accountable?

GREGORY: I cannot let it go.

JIMENEZ: While the sentencing in the criminal case is one major thing these families are dealing with, they've also filed civil lawsuits because they believe the school and some of its employees should have done more to stop this from happening in the first place.

JIMENEZ (voice over): And an independent report commissioned by the Oxford Board of Education found in part, "that had proper threat assessment guidelines been in place and district threat assessment policy followed this tragedy was avoidable."

VEN JOHNSON, LAWYER FOR OXFORD HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING VICTIMS: What we do in civil law is we go after everybody who's culpable. Their own paid-for report says they screwed up and could have prevented the shooting.

JIMENEZ (voice over): But in March, a state judge sided with the Oxford School District, ruling it was protected by governmental immunity. The families are appealing. The last time his father saw the shooter in court he had to restrain himself.

SHILLING: I just wanted to jump the - the benches. And I know that's not right. SOAVE: You know, I wouldn't say that I will ever forgive him, and I

don't think I'm required to. You know, being in the courtroom with the person that murdered my son. But I have to accept that this has happened.

JIMENEZ (voice over): Omar Jimenez, CNN, Oxford, Michigan.


MATTINGLY: Our thanks to Omar for that important report.

Well, the last jobs report of the year is about to come out. What it could reveal as the holiday shopping season starts to ramp up.

HARLOW: But this man probably doesn't need a job. That is Wayne Murray from New York City. He won $10 million from a scratch off ticket again. He did it last year too. The New York lottery says he took the lump sum, leaving him with about $6 million after tax. Well, Merry Christmas to you, Wayne.



MATTINGLY: Breaking overnight, two rockets hit the U.S. embassy in Baghdad causing minor damage but no casualties. No group has claimed responsibility as of yet, but it's believed Iranian-backed militias were behind the attack. U.S. soldiers across the region have come under regular fire due to Washington's support for Israel. Meanwhile, new images of a mass detention in Gaza by the Israeli military, dozens of men stripped to their underwear and wearing blindfolds, exact dates and circumstances are not clear. Family members have confirmed that at least some of the men are civilians with no known affiliation to militant groups. The IDF has, so far, not responded to CNN's request for comment.

HARLOW: New this morning, police say they have a man in custody after he allegedly fired a shotgun in front of a synagogue. This was in Albany, New York. And it happened yesterday just hours before the official start of Hanukkah. The officials say this is being investigated as a hate crime.


CHIEF ERIC HAWKINS, ALBANY, NEW YORK POLICE: We were told by responding officers that he made a comment, free Palestine.


HARLOW: Polo Sandoval joining us with all of that reporting.

Hours before, you know, they light their first candle for the night of Hanukkah.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, fortunately, there were no injuries reported here, Poppy and Phil. HARLOW: Yes.

SANDOVAL: But nonetheless, as we heard New York Governor Kathy Hochul say yesterday that this has absolutely shaken the Jewish community there in Albany, especially since, as you guys point out, families were getting ready to begin the celebration of Hanukkah.

Here's what police are telling us right now about this investigation, saying that a 28-year-old local man with a shotgun fired at least two times outside of Temple Israel. It's a synagogue just west of downtown Albany. Police Chief Eric Hawkings, you just heard from there, saying that during this whole incident, potentially after he was being detained, the suspect, that he said "free Palestine."


So that statement, combined with the use of that firearm, one of the reasons why federal authorities are now investigating this as a hate crime.

Kathy Hochul, for her part, strongly condemning this, especially since families were, as we just said, really getting ready to come together to celebrate Hanukkah. This is what she said yesterday.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): The fear that it has wreaked, and the fear and the anxiety that it's caused, I know a lot of people are feeling really shaken right now.

In September, as one of multiple synagogues targeted with bomb threats. And now to know there's an individual who literally brought a gun, a loaded weapon, to their premises shakes people to their core.


SANDOVAL: Hoping to reassure the community, Hochul ordering the New York State Police and also the National Guard to increase their patrols at potential at-risk sites, Jewish community centers, certainly synagogues as well. This would be on top of that sort of boosting of security that we saw play out just after the October 7th attacks, especially in light of the recent spike in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic attacks.

As for the suspect, he is expected to make an initial appearance later today, facing weapons charges and potentially more.

HARLOW: Wow. Polo, thank you very much for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, pressure is intensifying for the University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill to step down over her widely criticized congressional testimony on anti-Semitism. The advisory board for Penn's Wharton Business School and former U.S. Ambassador John Huntsman all want her to resign. In a letter last night, the Wharton Advisors write that they are, "deeply concerned about the dangerous and toxic culture on our campus that has been led by a select group of students and faculty and has been permitted by university leadership."

Now, that backlash comes even after Magill issued a statement on Wednesday trying to clarify her dodging of questions about whether students should be disciplined for calling for the genocide of Jews.

HARLOW: The controversy could now cost UPenn a significant amount of money. CNN's reporting is that one alum is threatening to pull $100 million in a planned donation, if Magill stays as president.

Dan Senor is with us. He was an adviser in the George W. Bush administration. He is also the author of a really fascinating book, "The Genius of Israel."

Dan, welcome.


HARLOW: I wonder if we have -- do we have this clarification to play? I just would like your take on Liz Magill.

SENOR: Sure.

HARLOW: Let's play that and get your take.


LIZ MAGILL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESIDENT: In that moment I was focused on our university's long-standing policies aligned with the U.S. Constitution which say that speech alone is not punishable. I was not focused on, but I should have been, the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate.


HARLOW: She is in the spotlight now, but this is emblematic of something bigger going on at America's universities.

SENOR: Yes, it's bigger than even universities.


SENOR: There's just been this -- we just heard in this report just now there's a wave of anti-Semitism sweeping the country. Some of it is violent. And the flash point for a lot of it has been at some of America's top colleges. It pre-dated October 7th. So, in what -- why Magill is under particular pressure is because she mishandled a similar situation prior to October 7th. And then October 7th happened and many in the Jewish community around the world and around the United States thought that the outrage would be directed at those who were committing the slaughtering of Jews.

HARLOW: At the terror groups.

SENOR: At the terror groups. They didn't think that the outrage would be directed at Jews who objected to being slaughtered. And that is - and on these campuses, the outrage was being directed at Jews, at Jewish students. There was abuse. There was harassment. In some cases there was violence. And the leaderships of these universities, and in fairness it wasn't just these three. These three were the ones - MIT, Harvard and Penn - were the ones that testified, whose presidents testified, but it wasn't limited to those three.

HARLOW: Yes. Well, Columbia.

SENOR: Columbia, absolutely. I mean you could go - Cornell. I mean there's just a number of them.

HARLOW: Yes, yes.

SENOR: And I think more universities are going to be in the spotlight.

MATTINGLY: What was so striking about this moment, and I think we've all talked about it, where you kind of saw the response to it. I didn't -- I wasn't watching it live. And I thought, all right, well, there must be something missing there. And then you realize, no, no, that's as bad as you think it is.


MATTINGLY: And the condemnation was universal across party lines and unequivocal.

SENOR: Right.

MATTINGLY: My question, though, is, free speech on campus, this could be a slippery slope depending on how you address these issues. And I think the bigger thing I'm trying to figure out, is this a free speech issue or is this a lack of enforcement of rules of conduct on campus that is the issue here?

SENOR: I think there's two issues. One, students who enroll in a university should have a sense that the university has its back in terms of its personal safety. Jewish students today on American, especially elite college campuses, simply do not feel safe. It's not just harassment and abuse. In some cases it has erupted into violence. It certainly has disrupted classroom learning. So, one is just a basic safety issue.


Secondly, to your point, is either selective enforcement or selective interpretation. So, at Harvard University and at Penn, you know, misgendering, misusing pronouns is considered a form of abuse. So how is misusing a pronoun, literally explicitly defined as a form of abuse that has to be dealt with by the administration, by using language that incites genocide is not? And so that - that the double standard, right? Why - why for some groups for - I mean one test, and this came up in the hearing, one test is to take any other minority group and insert them into the language that is being used against the Jews on these campuses and ask the question, would it be tolerated?


SENOR: Yes, go ahead.

HARLOW: I don't mean to interrupt. I just keep wondering, what's an example of how it could be done well and appropriately, where you maintain the free speech that is so crucial for college campuses, right, while also protecting these students, being very clear where the lines are, being very clear on policy? Can two things be done at the same time well?

SENOR: First of all, it often comes down to just the selection of the language. So, one could be critical of a government's policies.

HARLOW: Words matter.

SENOR: One could be critical of Israeli government's policy. One could even -- I disagree with it -- but I think it's legitimate to have a debate about whether or not Israel's response in a situation is proportionate. Let's have that debate.

But the language they're using is, globalize the intifada. What does that mean globalize the intifada? That means go after not just Jews in Israel, but go after Jews everywhere. From the river to the sea, that means wiping out Jews from the river -

HARLOW: By "they" you mean students on campus?


HARLOW: You're not talking about the presidents?

SENOR: Right. Right.


SENOR: No, no, the presidents are not using that language. I'm saying the presidents are turning a blind eye to the use of that language.


SENOR: From the river to the sea is about wiping out the Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. It's - so this is language that is so clearly defined as about causing mass violence if not the murder of a large group, if not an entire group, of a people, many of whom are represented on that campus, that starts to feel unsafe, especially when it's coupled with this violent disruption of learning in classroom life. I mean at Harvard you had that one Jewish student who was walking by some rally, and there's video of it, and a group of students who were in the protest against Israel starts surrounding this Jewish student, he was clearly a Jewish student, and they just started - it started with taunting him and then it got violent. And so - and that was in the context of a - of a - what could have been a political expression of free speech that just turned violent.

MATTINGLY: Can I just ask -- I've seen this playbook before, not playbook, this kind of pathway -- is there any way this president is in her role on Monday?

SENOR: I do not think so. I think she -- again, she had problems on this issues - on this issue before October 7th. October 7th took it to another level and she so mishandled the congressional testimony, I just don't think she survives. I think she's gone this weekend.

HARLOW: Dan Senor, thank you very much.

SENOR: Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll stay on this.

MATTINGLY: Well, new CNN exclusive reporting, one of the architects of Donald Trump's plot to overturn the 2020 election is cooperating with investigators in other states. We'll have more.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: To sports this morning. It is hard to make history after 124 editions, but that is exactly what's going to happen tomorrow in the Army-Navy game.

It says you're supposed to read the rest.

MATTINGLY: I'm going to read the rest.


MATTINGLY: I just - I'm very biased here so I have to be careful. I lived in West Point for much of my youth. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern at a place the game has never been played before.

CNN's Coy Wire joins us live from Boston.

Coy, history, but also I love this game every year. What should we expect?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, it's a beautiful 25-degree morning here at the Long Wharf in Boston. Happy Friday. Tomorrow, one week ahead of the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, the iconic Army-Navy game is going to be played in New England for the first time ever. It's going to be at the home of the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

It's arguably the greatest rivalry in all of American sports. Yes, Phil Mattingly's Ohio State Buckeyes rivalry with Michigan dates back to 1897. Just 10 wins separate the two. But America's game featuring the future defenders of our nation dates back to 1890. Just eight wins separating them. We asked both sides what this rivalry is all about.



LEO LOWIN, ARMY LINEBACKER: We're two institutions that represent the entirety of America. And I think it's super special. You know, as much as people say, you know, brothers in arms, but at the end of the day, you know, it's a real rivalry. We're playing hard. We're playing to win.

XAVIER ARLINE, NAVY QUARTERBACK: It's more than football. You have these other rivalries around the country that are huge because both teams hate each other and it goes back, but this one just has a little bit deeper of a meaning, and I think that's truly special.


WIRE: Ten sitting U.S. presidents have attended the Army-Navy game. It's so much more than just a game, Phil and Poppy. I played in NFL playoff games. The iconic Rose Bowl in college, nothing as magical as this. The traditions, the pageantry, the passion and respect make it one of the greatest rivalries in the world. Kickoff is tomorrow at 3:00 Eastern.

HARLOW: I love that. I have never gone, and I want to go. Are you going?

MATTINGLY: You've got to go. Not this year. I've been many times.

HARLOW: Can we go next year?

MATTINGLY: Yes, let's do it.


HARLOW: Bring the kids?

MATTINGLY: Let's do it.

HARLOW: All right.

MATTINGLY: Coy, you're coming too.

HARLOW: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, buddy.

WIRE: All right.

MATTINGLY: And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.