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Pelosi Ends Historic Run As Democratic Leader; House Republicans Vow To Investigate Biden & His Family's Business Dealings; Pence Praises GOP Candidates Focusing On The Future, Not "Relitigating The Past"; Rep. Jim Himes, (D-CT), Is Interviewed About Pelosi's End As Democratic Leader; Ukrainian Experts Arrive In Poland To Join Missile Probe; Ukraine: Investigators Find Evidence Of Torture In Kherson; Officials: U.S. Running Low Some Weapons & Ammo For Ukraine; New Video Of Idaho Stabbing Victims Offers Timeline Of Final Hours; Iran Protests Enter Third Month As Regime Steps Up Deadly Crackdown; Pelosi Ends Historic As Democratic Leader. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 17, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Financial experts are hopeful that doesn't change, but it's still unclear what the aftermath of this is going to look like. Washington, well, it's taking notice and speeding up the prospect of instilling regulations, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCCHOR: Brynn Gingras, thank you for that report. And our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in this SITUATION ROOM.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, the end of an era on Capitol Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi closes the book on her historic run as Democratic leaders setting up a scramble inside her party's caucus. Pelosi saying it's time for a new generation to take the reins.

Also tonight, the incoming House Republican majority now preparing an onslaught of investigations into President Biden and his family. We have new details on the legal preparations underway right now over at the White House.

And Ukrainian experts are now on the ground in Poland. Joining the probe into a deadly missile strike, we'll go live to the warzone as investigators comb through all the evidence.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get right to our top story. Speaker Nancy Pelosi camping (ph) two decades as the leader of the House Democrats. CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us live from Capitol Hill. She's got more on the end of this groundbreaking tenure.

Melanie, what are you learning first of all about who may be next in line to lead the Democratic Party? MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Wolf, the Democratic Party appears to be very quickly coalescing around Hakeem Jeffries. He is a current member of the leadership team. He's also a member of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus. As one member told me today he is ready for this moment, he is prepared for this moment.

And two of his would be challengers have already bowed out of the race. Steny Hoyer, who is Nancy Pelosi's second in command has announced that he will not seek another term in the Democratic leadership. And as we previously reported, Adam Schiff has decided to instead explore a Senate bid.

Now we also have eyes on Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar, who are likely to run for the number two and number three positions respectively. But so far, no one has made any official announcements and that is because they want to keep today about Nancy Pelosi and focus on the celebration of her historic legacy and career. Take a listen to that moment on the House floor today when Nancy Pelosi announced her plans.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: No matter what title you all my colleagues have bestowed upon me, speaker, leader, whip, there is no greater official honor for me than to stand on this floor and to speak for the people of San Francisco. This I will continue to do as a member of the House speaking for the people of San Francisco, serving the great state of California and defending our Constitution.

And with great confidence in our caucus, I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hours come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect. And I'm grateful that so many are ready and willing to shoulder this awesome responsibility.


ZANONA: So just a seismic shift in the Democratic Party and one that is about to pave the way for a new generation of leaders, Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Melanie, around this exact same time Republicans announced today a series of investigations they'll run when they gain control of the House next session, including into President Biden and his family's business dealings. What are you learning on that front?

ZANONA: Yes, what we really thought today was the opening salvo in that investigative battle that everyone is preparing for on Capitol Hill. Two leading Republicans, Jim Jordan and James Comer held a joint press conference outline their plans to investigate the Biden family. What they say they want to do is try to link Hunter Biden's business deals overseas to President Joe Biden. They want to hear from Hunter Biden himself. They want to hear from his business associates.

They also want to get their hands on these suspicious activity reports, as their bank reports. But we should note that these bank reports don't necessarily implicate wrongdoing. A very few of them actually end up leading to a law enforcement inquiry. And Hunter Biden denies all wrongdoing, but he is going to be a top investigative target for the Republican Party.

And that is even as some in the Republican Party are uneasy about the idea of going after the president's son, going after Dr. Anthony Fauci. Now, they are into some of these other investigations like pulling out of Afghanistan. They knew those are serious probes, but there is going to be a push and pull between the two wings of the party next year. So we see these investigations play out, Wolf.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Let's get an update right now on how the Biden administration is preparing for the incoming Republican House majority. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is joining us from the White House right now. He's got details.


Tell our viewers, Jeremy, what you're learning.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I've spoken with multiple sources inside the administration, and by all accounts these preparations are among the earliest and most comprehensive that this -- any administration has undertaken before the midterms to prepare for the kinds of congressional oversight from the opposition party following those elections. This is a White House that has been preparing since last spring, hiring several key officials including a special counsel Richard Sauber who will be handling the oversight from the legal aspect of the White House communications advisors hired. And over the summer months, Wolf, a team of communications advisors, lawyers and legislative specialists have been poring over these hundreds of letters from Republican lawmakers about where they are looking to target different agencies for their oversight investigations, looking at the T.V. interviews that key Republican lawmakers have been giving. And what they've been doing is mapping out where the Republicans are headed with these oversight requests, mapping out their strategy for how they're going to respond to all of this.

What they've also been doing, Wolf, is coordinating with key agencies across the administration. More than four months ago, top officials from the Department of Homeland Security came here to the White House, they met with top White House officials in the Roosevelt Room to plot out how they would respond to congressional inquiries. And also the possibility that the secretary of that department, Alejandro Mayorkas, could potentially be impeached. Those meetings, Wolf, they've been taking place across the administration with other key agencies as well.

BLITZER: Yes, for quite a while. And Jeremy, how did President Biden react to Pelosi's announcement stepping down from the House leadership?

DIAMOND: Well, Wolf, you know that the President holds somebody in high regard when he uses the word dignity to refer to them. And in this statement from the President today he uses that word five times, a reflection of how much of the personal relationship between these two leaders who are only a couple of years apart and also of course, have the close working relationship and how much Speaker Pelosi delivered for the President and his agenda.

The President writing, quote, "History will note she is the most consequential Speaker of the House of Representatives in our history. There are countless examples of how she embodies the obligation of elected officials to uphold their oath to God and country to ensure our democracy delivers and remains a beacon to the world." And Wolf, he goes on to call Nancy Pelosi a, quote, "singular force," who he says was responsible in many ways for helping to secure key parts of the President's legislative agenda. Wolf.

BLITZER: New chapter we're about to begin. Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thank you very, very much.

Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us now CNN Political Director David Chalian, our Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez, and CNN Correspondent Audie Cornish.

And, David, let me start with you. I want to play a little bit more of a Speaker Pelosi's speech today, listen to this.


PELOSI: When I came to the Congress in 1987, there were 12 Democratic women. Now they're over 90, and we want more. When I entered leadership in 2002, there were eight of us today, there are 17 members of the leadership. When I first came to the floor at six years old, never would have thought that someday I would go from homemaker to House Speaker.


BLITZER: So David, help us appreciate a little bit the historic moment that the country is going through right now.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, it's hard to remember a time that she wasn't the leader of the Democrats in the House, because 20 years ago this week, she was elected leader of the House. Obviously, being the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. But I think, and she nodded to this in her remarks today, consequential pieces of legislation through, she only gave a nod to three of the four presidents that she was serving as speaker with. She obviously did not consider it a privilege to serve with Donald Trump. But with George W. Bush, she talked about energy legislation and environmental legislation and health care bill, with President Obama and getting the Affordable Care Act and then getting investments into environment, expanded health care coverage and the future with President Biden, not small things, big things that will be part of America's sort of story for decades beyond.

She is not going -- I know she's saying to represent San Francisco. She's not going to be a backbencher like we understand backbenchers to be. It is pretty clear she's going to be a critical guide as she passes the torch to this new generation of leadership in her caucus. She's navigated more legislative and political waters probably than anyone has under the glare of intense scrutiny and spotlight and that will be a valuable resource to the caucus going forward.

BLITZER: So, Audie, what do you think -- what do you expect from this new era that's about to begin without Nancy Pelosi as the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives? And what do you anticipate who's going to lead the Democrats?


AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll say first of all it's a tough job, you know. What's made Nancy Pelosi distinct, is she has kind of govern over these caucuses through several administrations. You can't say that on the Republican side, right? There, you're running through a list of Hastert or John Boehner or Paul Ryan, all these people who weren't able to keep it together and were ousted. She is someone who has managed to avoid that fate.

I don't know necessarily who is the sort of best person, I do sort of think of her as a planner. It's hard for me to picture her walking away from the gig and being like, guys, good luck. Like she's been laying the groundwork for this for a while or at least the Democrats hope she has. So I don't expect to fight, but whether they're effective is a totally different question that we won't know until the next Congress.

BLITZER: What are the main challenges that Democrats, David, are going to be facing now under this new leadership?

CHALIAN: Well, the main challenge is that they're going to be in the minority, end of the majority. And so, they're going to have to be sort of the frontline defense for the Biden administration as the new Republican majority launches these investigations and starts applying pretty strict oversight of the Biden administration. So that's first and foremost.

And then remember, this is a very narrow Republican majority in this House. So, they're just about to start a whole new campaign cycle or trying to get back in the majority is going to be mission one for them because it's within reach, because they only need a few seats to --

CORNISH: Also the chief villain of their campaign cycles, right? For all of these years, Pelosi has been this figure you could go after so to speak. It's interesting to see who's that going to be afterwards.

BLITZER: And as you know, Evan, the Republican, the new leadership in the House, they wasted no time today saying they're going to launch a whole bunch of investigations into the Biden administration, into the Biden family for that matter. Of all these investigations do they have -- do they really have teeth?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the teeth, I think, when you consider what they're really going after is the political damage that they think they can inflict on the sitting president, and if possible, if he's going to run again. And look, I think their model is the Benghazi investigation, which ended up really not producing a whole lot, but it did do severe damage to the -- to Hillary Clinton. And so, what you're going to see a lot of focus on is these bank records, they're going to raise questions as to whether there were members of the form -- of the current president's family who have tried to essentially monetize the name, his family name, and try to make money off the fact that he is president. And, you know, there's probably enough smoke there for -- to fill. It's certainly a lot of right wing television in the next couple of years.

But -- and to raise questions, and I think that's what they want to do. They want to make sure voters are aware of these questions before 2024.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, I want to play a clip, David, and get your reaction. Mike Pence, the former vice president was on with Jake Tapper in a CNN town hall last night. Listen to part of his message, and then we'll discuss.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Are candidates that were focused on the future, that were focused on the challenges facing American families today, whether it be inflation or crime or crisis at the border or high gas prices, those candidates focused on the future did very well. By contrast, I think you could argue that candidates that were focused on the past, that were focused on relitigating the past did not fare as well.


BLITZER: What do you think of that forward looking message he was delivering?

CHALIAN: Well, I think he's giving sound political analysis. But as a potential presidential candidate, I think he's doing it for a reason. He's clearly trying to separate himself from the president he served so loyally and closely for four years, which is going to be a very tricky mission for Mike Pence. He is not wrong.

But what he's trying to do here is say, hey, if you aligned yourself with Donald Trump and election denialism for these last two years and ran on that and only focused on relitigating the 2020 election, you didn't do so well this cycle, he's right about that. It's just it's going to be so hard for him, I think, to make the case to Republican primary voters that he is both standing with four years of President Trump and his accomplishments while trying to reject President Trump and the same breath (ph).

CORNISH: I disagree a little bit because obviously, that's why people talk about DeSantis. It's the idea of getting the policies, getting the agenda, not getting the legal or reputational damage. And it does help that Trump himself and his supporters have pushed Pence away. I mean, you can't put much more distance than having, you know, your life threatened and that of your family on January 6. And so, you're right, Pence is trying to say, look at all the policies we put in place, you could have that again without the rest of this stuff. And I think the real problem is who's the constituency for that in a primary?


BLITZER: You know, Audie, while I have you, I want to get you your new podcast, "The Assignment with Audie Cornish." This is very, very timely and I know it's just being released today for the first time, right?


CORNISH: Yes, it is.

BLITZER: It's very important. You spoke with conservative women who were inspired to run for their local school boards because of their concerns about the COVID pandemic. I want to play a little excerpt of your podcast. Listen to this.


APRIL CARNEY, DUVAL COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD: We can't just focus on the presidential election anymore. What happens on the local level is what's most important, and it effects the most important citizens of this country, and that's our children.

And so, are there a lot of informed voters out there? Yes. Are there are a lot that are not? Absolutely. And so, to some extent, to make it a more partisan rings, it helps those that are low information, voters make a decision based upon what they believe.


CORNISH: This was a really savvy answer from this guest, right? Because fundamentally, it's not that education is a top issue for voters over the economy or something like that, but it can motivate a swing set of voters that we obviously care about right now, especially in the suburbs, because you can say you may not care about all these other things but now we're talking about your kid.

And you can tell, by the way, the activism has shifted. It's no longer just talking about CRT or LGBTQ issues, it's now under the umbrella of parents rights. And Ron DeSantis has made that a part of his agenda, you're going to --


CORNISH: Yes, exactly. And even McCarthy had put it on his list, if you can believe this, of investigations questioning whether Merrick Garland and the DOJ somehow were investigating some of these activist parents, even though there is no evidence to say that he did. So you're going to hear this more and more over the next couple of months.

BLITZER: So you're right. Audie, congratulations on the new podcast. David, Evan, guys thank you very, very much.

A note to our viewers, be sure to listen to Audie's brand new podcast, "The Assignment with Audie Cornish." You can find it on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

Coming up, more on the future of the House of Representatives as Nancy Pelosi announces the end of her leadership role. We'll talk about it with Democratic Congressman Jim Himes. He's standing by live to join us.



BLITZER: More now on our top story, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ending her historic run as the Democratic Leader of the House saying the time has come for a new generation to take over. Let's get some more with Democratic Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us. I want to begin with your reaction to this dramatic announcement from Speaker Pelosi today stepping aside from leadership. What do you see as her legacy for your party, the Congress and the country?

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, well, thanks for having me. And yes, I just -- you know, every once in a while you just sort of feel history in the room and this was one of those moments. I mean, it's a cliche to say it, but it is really truly the end of an era in, you know, Nancy Pelosi's legacy. And you know, eventually my Republican friends will get it, it's a little early for them, but they'll get here.

You know, her legacy will be one quite arguably as one of the most effective Speakers of the House in American history. And I look back to the start of my career when she, despite the fact that the Senate gave up its veto, its filibuster proof number, she got the Affordable Care Act done for a brand new president who was still relatively new to politics, who got Dodd-Frank to remake our regulatory apparatus through a difficult Congress in a difficult moment.

If you look at the last -- if you look at Nancy Pelosi's career, once she ascended to leadership, she remembered what it was to be the daughter of the mayor of Baltimore, how to count votes, how to turn those votes out, how to get things done. One of the most operationally capable legislators, I think, in United States history.

BLITZER: We have a photo of her swearing you in when you became a congressman back in 2009. We're sharing it with you, your family and Nancy Pelosi swearing you in. I'm sure you remember that day well all these years later. What was it like looking back?

HIMES: Well, again, it was a remarkable moment, right? That photograph was taken, just on the verge of having the country's first African American president with a female Speaker of the House with the need to repair the devastation. You know, 2008 feels like a long time ago, 2009, but the devastation that had been visited on the American people by the meltdown in the financial markets. And so it was both hopeful and a sense of mission. And, you know, a lot of confidence that Nancy Pelosi in concert with the president United States was the person to lead that mission.

BLITZER: We're learning right now, Congressman, that your colleague, Hakeem Jeffries is likely to run unopposed for Democratic leader in the new House. What do you want to see from your party's leadership moving forward?

HIMES: Well, not an unexpected development. As you know, Wolf, Hakeem has been quietly and respectfully sort of positioning himself for this for a long time. Hakeem is a terrific, terrific member of Congress. He is a guy whose progressive values are deeply held, but who understands that you get things done in a legislature by compromising, by working with factions within in your own party, and then ultimately working with the people across the aisle.

I think that he is a terrific choice. Think about this, he is -- I don't know exactly how old Hakeem is, but he's probably a full generation younger than Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And so I think it's going to give us the ability with a very calm and measured leader to speak in a way that we haven't been able to speak to young people in this country. Hakeem will understand how -- you know, though he's not a Gen Z type, he will understand how to speak to the younger generations of Americans. I think that's really important for the party today.

BLITZER: Pelosi says he wants a new generation to take over and that's clearly what's going to happen. Congressman Jim Himes, thanks as usual for joining us.

HIMES: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, the latest on the deadly missile strike in Poland where officials are now saying all evidence points to the projectile coming from Ukrainian Air Defense. Stay with us.



BLITZER: We're following the investigation into the missile incident that killed two people in Poland just over the border from Ukraine. CNN International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson is in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for us tonight.

So Nic, what's the latest?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Well, Ukrainian investigators have arrived on site. They're there to assess the Polish and U.S. investigators. The Polish Foreign Minister said there are some legal technicalities to be worked out before the Ukrainian investigators can actually sort of get their hands on documents and evidence and things like that. We also know that President Zelenskyy has now sort of fallen more in line with the position of NATO and its -- and other partners. That, in fact, that this was a very -- in the greatest likelihood a Russian missile that the Ukrainians fired an air defense system at and this is what caused the incident in Poland.

President Zelenskyy has said, you know, I don't know what's happened. We don't know what's happened. The world doesn't know what's happened. He said, I am sure it was a Russian missile. I am sure we fired our air defense system, is what he said, in playing a Russian missile flew, they fired the air defense system at it. And this incident happened in Poland, the explosion, killing two people.

The Polish Foreign Minister earlier today said that he hoped to get results soon and quickly. But at the moment it's not clear just how quick that will be, Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic, we're also learning more about the atrocities the Russians have committed in Kherson. You were in the city after the Russian withdrawal. Tell our viewers what you're learning?

ROBERTSON: Yes, we spoke to several people there who were beaten and were tortured. One man we met in the jail outside the torture cell that the Russians had set fire to to hide the evidence of what they've been doing there. We were shown places in the jail where they told us Ukrainian prisoners had been shot and killed.

The prisoner -- the former prisoner, we spoke to said that the Russians had beaten them every day, use them for manual labor, fixing their Russian's vehicles, that sort of thing. The other Ukrainian man that I spoke to spoke of a more psychological torture that the Russians came to his apartment not long after it appeared that Ukrainian underground saboteurs had blown up a Russian police vehicle.

They came to his apartment, 10 of them, put a gun to his head, this is what he told us. And told him to speak. And he said, well, what about? They just said, speak, speak. They took him away. They did mock executions, he said, by pulling the trigger of a gun to his head. It wasn't loaded.

He said, they connected cables, electrodes to his genitalia. They didn't pass current through it. But all of it, he said, psychological torture. And this is what the Ukrainian government is uncovering more and more of in Kherson, Wolf.

BLITZER: Brutal situation indeed. Nic Robertson, thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us now, CNN Military Analyst, Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton. Colonel, thanks very much for joining us. So world leaders basically agree right now that Russia ultimately is responsible for what happened in neighboring Poland right now, because Russia launched this brutal -- this totally brutal war.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: That's right, Wolf. And, you know, it's this case of ultimate responsibility. And what you're looking at is, what was the real cause of this. And the very fact that on that day, on Tuesday, when the Russians did these attacks, they launched over 100 missiles against Ukrainian targets, it's no wonder that the Ukrainian Air Defense System was responding to them. And it's no wonder that that system was basically overwhelmed because of the sheer number of attacks.

BLITZER: And you just heard Nic report on this pattern of Russian torture of Ukrainians in Kherson, what do you make of that?

LEIGHTON: Well, I think it's a part of a systematic effort by the Russians to coerce the population in the territories that they occupy. It's a concerted effort to not only go after the people there, but also to eliminate all opposition. One of the key things there is the fact that they're using intimidation tactics, both psychological intimidation, as well as physical intimidation.

And the very fact that they're doing this, they're using coercive techniques in their interrogations, they're doing things that you would not be allowed to under many of the rules of war under the Geneva Conventions. And that's the kind of thing that could very well result in war crimes charges against the Russians that are implicated in this.

BLITZER: CNN has now reported that the U.S. military is running low on certain weapons and ammunition as a result of all the weapons and ammunition the US is providing to the Ukrainians. And this is emerging as a problem here in the United States for the U.S. military.

LEIGHTON: Yes, it is. And Wolf, one of the key things here is that the, you know, industrial base, the defense industrial base, as it's known, needs to keep up with these kinds of production requirements. So the stockpile that they're using for Ukraine is generally a stockpile that is separate from the U.S. military stockpile.

But the stockpile that they used, it's a kind of stockpile that can be moved around and put into various areas of need. And Ukraine is obviously the biggest area of need right now. But what has to happen is they have to replenish that stockpile and the defense contractors and the manufacturers of these weapons systems at the munitions, they have to be ready, they have to be able to resupply all of these things in any of the supply chain issues that we've had even in the general economy have found their way into the military system. And that becomes a real problem for us, and it needs to be fixed in order to keep Ukraine alive.


BLITZER: The real problem indeed. All right, Colonel, thank you very much for joining us. Cedric Leighton, helping us appreciate what's going on.

Just ahead, Idaho police now admit there still might be a threat to the community, days after four University of Idaho students were brutally killed. We're going to show you a new video evidence. That's next.



BLITZER: Police in Moscow, Idaho still have no suspect and no murder weapon four days after four University of Idaho students were brutally killed. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is following all the late breaking developments for us. Lucy, we're hearing there's new surveillance video that potentially could shed light on the four students' final hours, is that right?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Police say two of the victims, Ethan Chapin and Xana Kernodle were at a party on campus while Madison Mogen and Kaylee Goncalves were at a downtown bar. But this new video that you mentioned obtained by CNN shows Madison and Kaylee shortly before they were killed.

Kaylee is seen ordering a pasta carbonara from a food truck at around 1:41 a.m., Madison greeting a young man. The girls then wait and chat for about 10 minutes before they get their food and leave. The manager of the truck telling us they did not seem to be in distress or any danger.

And of course, what happened after remains a mystery. Police say, all four were killed in the early hours on Sunday although that 911 call didn't come until noon. They were stabbed with a knife we are told but no weapon has been located and no sign of forced entry, pardon me, into the home.

Now two other roommates were at that home, both at the time of the crime and when police arrived, we are told, police are not referring to them as suspects but also not ruling them out. They are cooperating with authorities, we're told.

The coroner describing that crime scene as gruesome and bloody and we understand the autopsies have been completed. We are now, Wolf, awaiting those results.

BLITZER: Lucy, what are the local police saying about the community's safety at this time right now?

KAFANOV: Well, there -- that was a source of quite a bit of confusion because Moscow police initially described these killings as a targeted attack and said there was no threat to the public that was earlier in the week even though they had no one in custody, no suspect. Yesterday in his first news conference on the case, the police chief backtracked. Take a listen.


CHIEF JAMES FRY, MOSCOW, IDAHO, POLICE: We do not have a suspect at this time. And that individual is still out there. We cannot say that there is no threat to the community.


KAFANOV: The fact is somebody brutally murdered these four young people with a knife that, person has not been caught. You know, we know a lot of residents are worried, some students are leaving campus early because they don't feel safe there, while the agonizing wait for justice as well as answers unfortunately continues. Wolf?

BLITZER: It's a horrible situation. Lucy, thank you very, very much. Lucy Kafanov reporting.

Let's bring in CNN Counterterrorism Analyst Phil Mudd to learn more about the law enforcement response. Phil, so far, the facts we know about this case just don't seem to add up. What do you suspect is happening behind the scenes in this investigation?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, we saw one bit of data just a minute ago. That's the video from the early morning of the murders. The first thing you got to think about, Wolf, is the aggregation of tons of data from four people who were killed. And presumably from the two other roommates as well, that data includes things like text messages, email, phone message, you're talking about videos from around town.

I presume there are questions about, for example, whether students at these parties had cell phone video. So you've got to compress all that data into timelines that are really complex. And one reason this is difficult. The second thing, I'd say is interviews. You're talking about interviews to people at these parties, multiple parties, you're also going back days and weeks to see about things like classes, other parties or meetings, putting all this stuff together. In that case, I'd be looking for anomalies.

If somebody said they saw person X at a party two nights ago, and somebody else said they didn't, why is there anomaly? When you multiply that by four individuals, it's really complicated, Wolf.

BLITZER: So how do you try to make some sense out of this timeline, the roommates, the 911 call? What do you think, Phil?

MUDD: I suspect that the police have a lot more than they're telling us. If I were them, I wouldn't tell us either. I mentioned some of the data they're putting us -- they're putting together already in the space of the last four days. They should have already put together the timelines that are digital, for example, this stuff from things like text messaging, and emails. Are there any of those emails or text messages that show anger, that show an issue in a relationship?

The police chief initially said that he thought that this was targeted. Why did he think that? Did he think somebody selected these people for a specific purpose? And was that seen, for example, in some of the data? So I think some of those timelines already put together. The interviews are harder when you have disagreements, or as I said, anomalies among interviewees. You have to go do those again and again, and that takes time, Wolf.

BLITZER: How worried should the community out there be right now, Phil, about the potential of an ongoing threat?

MUDD: Well, let me couch my words carefully. I would be extreme worried.

[17:45:01] You understand that when you're dealing -- this isn't gunshot, this is a knife that is somebody who's committing a crime of passion where they're watching someone die as they knife them. That crime of passion takes an incredible emotional journey for someone to get over to the step that they want to do that again with a knife and not from a distance with a pistol.

Once that person has taken that emotional journey, I wouldn't trust anything that's going on their head about whether they do this again. I would be extremely careful.

BLITZER: Yes, me too. Phil Mudd, thank you very, very much.

Turning now to a monster and truly historic snowstorm developing around the Great Lakes. Some areas like my hometown of Buffalo, New York, could get up to 6 feet, 6 feet of snow. Let's bring in our Meteorologist Jennifer Gray. Jennifer, how many people first of all will be affected by this monster storm?

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're talking about 5 to 6 million people around the Great Lakes. And as you know, Wolf, the snow is basically driven by the direction of the wind. So right now, Buffalo is not in the snow. But we are going to get a little bit of a wind shift and that's basically going to steer the snow off of the lakes and into the Buffalo region tonight, it's really going to intensify and then get stronger as we go into tomorrow.

We could see snowfall rates at 3 to 4 inches an hour. That's an incredible amount of snow, Wolf. So we're going to be talking about anywhere from 3 to 4 feet of snow, could see up to 5 feet of snow across this region. So we are going to see just incredible amount.

So anywhere from 4 to 5 feet and then even up to 6 feet in the Buffalo region, Wolf. They even had to move the bills game to Detroit on Sunday because of the danger that this snow brings. So hopefully, you didn't have tickets to that game, Wolf.

BLITZER: I didn't have tickets, but I'll watch it on TV. The Bills and Cleveland, they'll be playing now in Detroit. Jennifer Gray, thank you very, very much. Let's hope for the best.

Coming up, we'll have an update on the Iranian protest movement and the deadly toll of the government's brutal crackdown. And later, my exclusive interview with Karen Bass, the incoming Mayor of Los Angeles. She just won that contest. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: With the Iranian protest movement now entering its third month, the regime is stepping up its deadly crackdown on demonstrators. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is joining us now. She's got details. Jomana, I understand young children are also falling victim to the violence. What can you tell us? JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this has been an unforgiving crackdown. We don't really know the true extent of the crackdown because of the government's restrictions on reporting, because of the restrictions on the communications in the country, on the internet. But the information we are getting, it's truly horrifying and shocking.

The numbers, an estimate of more than 14,000 people who have been arrested since the start of the protest, men, women and children, according to a U.N. official. And the death toll is continuing to rise. More than 340 people killed so far. This is according to one human rights group and many of those killed are children.

Wolf, we have to warn our viewers that some of the video in this report they will find disturbing.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Nine-year-old Qian (ph) wanted to be an inventor. He shows off a wooden boat he made for a competition. We don't know when this video was filmed. It surfaced on social media after little Qian (ph) was killed. He was one of a number of people killed Wednesday in what state media said was a shooting incident in the southwestern city of Izeh, where anti-government protests have been raging for days.

Family members say Qian (ph) was on his way home with his father when he was shot. The Iranian government says this was a terrorist attack. But activists say Qian (ph) is a victim of the regime's ruthless crackdown on protests, one of more than 40 children killed since September, according to rights groups.

Every day for more than 60 days now, Iranians have been burying their dead. More than 300 lives lost in this battle for change. 30-year-old Burhan Karami was shot in the head on Wednesday, according to activists. This disturbing video captures the moment a bullet struck him.

At Karami's burial, mourners chant, "mother, don't grief for your child, we will take his revenge." With every funeral, the rage grows. The brutality only fueling their determination to risk it all for regime change. That regime struggling to contain the popular uprising is now sentencing protesters to death.

Several have been handed the death penalty this week in what human rights groups say are sham trials. The repressive Republic's latest attempt to crush the growing dissent. But nothing seems to be stopping the will of the people.

The third month of the uprising began with a new wave of strikes and protests sweeping across the country. The rising voices for freedom, refusing to be silenced.


KARADSHEH: And, Wolf, really extraordinary scenes across Iran tonight. We are seeing some of the most intense, some of the most widespread protest we have seen so far, from the capital Tehran to more traditionally conservative religious cities like Mashhad, that is a part of the clerical establishments power base to cities across the Kurdish region in the West.

But we're also getting disturbing reports of more casualties and a rising death toll in those Kurdish areas, Wolf.


BLITZER: We'll stay on top of the story for sure. Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, a scramble for Democratic leadership posts as the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces she's stepping aside. Plus, the first African American woman elected to become the mayor of Los Angeles. We're talking to Karen Bass about everything from a historic win to the challenges she faces right now leading one of the nation's largest cities.


BLITZER: Happening now, Nancy Pelosi passes the torch ending two decades at the helm of the House Democratic Party. The Speaker saying it's time for a new generation to lead the caucus as House Republicans prepare to take the majority.

Also tonight, former President Barack Obama warns democracy is under assault, both here in the United States and indeed all across the globe.