Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Supreme Court Clears Way For House CMTE To Get Trump's Taxes; Trump & DOJ Face Off In Mar-A-Lago Special Master Hearing; Sen. Graham Testifies In Georgia 2020 Election Probe; First Hearing Set For Nightclub Shooting Suspect Tomorrow; McCarthy Demands Mayorkas' Resignation Over Border Issues, Warns Of Potential Impeachment Inquiry; Biden Heading To Nantucket For Thanksgiving As He Mulls Potential Re-Election Campaign; Republicans Ask GA High Court To Halt Saturday Voting In Runoff; "Massive Shelling" Slams Front Lines In Eastern Ukraine; Saudi Arabia Stuns Powerhouse Argentina At World Cup; Manchester United Announces Star Cristiano Ronaldo Is Leaving The Club Immediately By Mutual Agreement. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 22, 2022 - 17:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Special Counsel Jack Smith, facing his first major test since taking over the Trump criminal investigations. Federal prosecutors and attorneys for the former president squaring off today in a very high stakes hearing before an appeals court.

Also tonight, new developments in the Colorado massacre investigation. The suspect now formally in the custody of the sheriff, although not yet formally charged. The Colorado Attorney General joins me live this hour.

Plus, heavy fighting tonight in eastern Ukraine as winter sets in and Russian attacks caused colossal damage to the Ukrainian power grid. We're hearing reports of massive shelling right now on the front lines.

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 tonight. Federal prosecutors taking on the Trump legal team in the Mar-a-Lago case, CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is on the story for us.

Paula, this is the first legal battle for the newly appointed special counsel. Tell our viewers what you're learning.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Wolf. This is the first hearings and Special Counsel Jack Smith has been appointed. And even though he was not here in person today, he personally approved all of the arguments that prosecutors made in this building right behind me a short time ago. Now they are trying to remove a so called special master that's a third party that is reviewing all the material that was seized down in the former president's Mar-a-Lago home.

What was so interesting about today's argument is this was a panel of three judges, all appointed by Republicans, two even appointed by former President Trump, but things did not appear to be going well for Trump's attorneys. The judges raising concerns about why a special master was put in this particular situation when the search of Mar-a- Lago has never been deemed to be unlawful concerns about the precedent that this could set and that other criminal defendants will also ask for this kind of thing that could delay their investigations. And there was even one moment where a judge reprimanded one of Trump's attorneys for referring to what happened at Mar-a-Lago as a, quote, "rate."

Now, we are not going to get a decision today or possibly anytime soon, but this is a very significant case where this ongoing investigation. They hope that they can remove this special master and move this investigation along a little bit quicker.

BLITZER: All right, Paula, stay with us. We're going to get back to you in a few moments, there's more to discuss. But right now I want to go to another major legal battle involving the former president of the United States Supreme Court dealing Trump a major blow today siding with a House committee seeking his tax returns.

CNN says senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic has more information for us. So Joan, what does this really mean?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: This has been going on for more than three years, Wolf. The House Ways and Means Committee has been trying to obtain Donald -- former President Trump's tax returns as part of an look at whether the IRS audits of presidential records how it works, should it be revised, and the committee had argued that it has a legitimate legislative purpose on this. And Trump had countered it saying this is just a witch hunt, it's just an effort to embarrass him. He had lost in lower courts and the former president had made a last ditch effort to the U.S. Supreme Court.

And today in a very brief, two sentence denial said, no, we're not going to intervene. The lower court decision stand. And what this means now is that the House Ways and Means Committee, currently run by Democrats currently for a short period --

BLITZER: Until January.

BISKUPIC: Exactly. Should be able to obtain from the IRS, the former President's tax returns. And the committee chairman said today that they were going to move forward and try to continue their exploration of exactly what's in his tax returns and whether the IRS audit program needs any kind of revision.

BLITZER: And it looked like it was pretty unanimous, the Supreme Court decision?

BISKUPIC: Well, that's an excellent question, because on paper on what we got from the Supreme Court, there were no recorded dissents. But Wolf, my experience is that sometimes there might be dissent behind the scenes and they just don't want to go public with it. But if they didn't go public with it, all we've got is a flat out rejection of the former president.

BLITZER: Even the Supreme Court justices appointed by Trump --

BISKUPIC: Exactly right.

BLITZER: -- released for silent on this right now.

BISKUPIC: That's exactly right, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Joan, thank you very, very much.


Let's get some more analysis right now. Joining us, Defense Attorney Shan Wu and the State Attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida Dave Aronberg, Paula Reid is still back with us as well.

Shan, let me begin with this face-off between the Justice Department and the former president's legal team. Based on what we heard today, do you expect federal prosecutors will be successful in getting rid of the so called Special Master reviewing the documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Judging from what we've heard and as Pauls was referencing, the questions from the panel, it seems like that is a possibility. I mean, I would applaud that decision. I think it is very dangerous for the precedent of letting criminal defendants interpose a civil type of mechanism to basically slow down the criminal prosecution. So I think that may happen given the direction that the courts, the Court of Appeals questions seem to be going in, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, Paula, how significant would a Justice Department victory be for the special counsel, the new special counsel, Jack Smith?

REID: I mean, incredibly significant, Wolf, because that would allow them to move forward with this investigation. more swiftly. And really time is of the essence. You heard the Attorney General on Friday when he announced the appointment of Jack Smith as special counsel, he was assuring people that this appointment would not slow this down.

There are concerns about how long these investigations are going to drag out, especially given the 2024 presidential election cycle. So if they can remove this review process that would allow them to move more quickly.

Now, I've also talked to someone, Jack Smith used to work for the Justice Department, he said, look, this is not a guy that dawdles, he doesn't sit on things, he does move swiftly. And this, this would really be a win for him.

BLITZER: Dave Aronberg, let's turn to this decision from the United States Supreme Court today to allow the House of Representatives, this committee in the House, to review former President Trump's tax returns. Trump's legal team has continuously fought to keep his tax returns secret. Just how significant of a loss is this for the former president?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Wolf, it's a big loss because the Trump legal strategy has always been delay, delay, delay. I think they knew they were going to lose but they wanted to draw it out long enough until the Republicans could get control of Congress. Well, they're six weeks short, the Democrats are now going to be able to get these tax returns and possibly hand them over to DOJ if there's some criminal evidence there.

You know, the federal law is pretty clear here. The Ways and Means Committee has the authority to see any taxpayer's documents, and Congress has broad lawmaking an oversight authority. So this was always going to go with the government's way, it was just a question of when. And you know, in the end, this is only an issue because Trump is the first president in modern history to refuse to turn over his taxes to the American public, he promised to do so he never did. So, Wolf, somewhere in Tallahassee, Ron DeSantis is smiling.

BLITZER: Good point. You know, Shan, what information can this House committee glean from these tax documents? And what impact might this have on the former president's various outstanding legal fights?

WU: I think they can glean a lot from it less clear exactly what we, as the public, will get to see from it. But I think one issue is that he's bragged about the tax avoidance strategies. And that may be very damning evidence of what's revealed, corroborate the idea that he's exaggerated, he's inflated things as we're taking a look in New York state right now at whether there was tax avoidance strategies being used by the company. So, it's very valuable evidence that's why people generally don't like to have their tax returns revealed because there's a lot of valuable evidence that can be mined from that.

I mean, with Trump, I mean, the seeking of his tax returns has been like the Holy Grail in Trump world. I mean, he's fought so hard against it. And I think one interesting point, to Dave's point too, is by fighting so hard on every single issue, it creates the illusion sometimes that a setback is a great victory.

This is just Congress doing what it's supposed to do that he managed to drag out for such a long time. Where it goes from here really does remain to be seen.

BLITZER: We'll find out fairly soon.

Paula, as you know, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham today completed his appearance before the Georgia special grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. How great a threat does this case pose to Trump himself?

REID: Well, I've asked the former president's attorneys that exact question, Wolf, and they've told me that they believe that the investigation in Fulton County, looking into whether the former president and his associates tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election, that it is highly likely that he could potentially be charged there. They think of all the investigations that is the one, but arguably their immediate -- in the immediate future, the most concerned about. Now, they would also tell you that they don't think the case will ultimately stick and there wouldn't be a conviction if charges are actually brought. But the Senator is just, the most recent, in a line of high profile witnesses including the governor of Georgia, White House aides who have appeared just in the past few weeks, so that investigation is active, ongoing and even his own attorneys say, yes, they are concerned about what's going on in Fulton County.


BLITZER: Yes, very significant legal developments unfolding today.

Guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we'll go live to Colorado Springs for an update on the massacre investigation there. The alleged gunman now in custody of the sheriff as he awaits formal criminal charges. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Turning now to the latest developments in the Colorado nightclub massacre. We just learned the suspect is set to make his first court appearance tomorrow. Let's bring in CNN's Rosa Flores. She's on the scene for us in Colorado Springs.

Rosa, tell us about this hearing. What happened?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the suspect will spend the night in a jail cell for the first time tonight in the building that you see behind me. He has not been formally charged, and as you just said, he's expected to face a judge for the very first time sometime tomorrow. So according to authorities, the suspect has been transferred from the hospital to the jail that you see behind me, pending charges that could include multiple charges of first degree murder and hate crime.


All this is we're learning more about his troubled upbringing, a chaotic upbringing. CNN investigates has learned that, in part, he was raised by his grandmother while his mother dealt with criminal matters. At age 16, online records show that he was viciously bullied online. At age 16. Texas court records show that he's changed his name from Nicholas F Brink to Anderson Lee Aldrich. In 2021 also record show that he was in an hours long standoff with police. This after his mom was the one who called the police about the suspect allegedly having a homemade bomb, ammunition and weapons.

And, Wolf, those charges that he was facing at that point in time were not adjudicated and the file was sealed, which means that those charges would not have come up in a background check. Wolf. BLITZER: Rosa, the man who took down the gunman gave a very emotional account of what happened during the attack. Tell us about his story.

FLORES: His name is Richard Fierro. He is a U.S. Army veteran with 15 years of service. He served four tours in Iraq and he says that in that moment, it was his training that kicked in. Take a listen.


RICHARD FIERRO, VETERAN WHO TACKLED GUNMAN: The young man that tried to jump in there with me he -- we both either pull them down or whatever, but he ended up at his head right next to the AR And then with the AR he -- we -- I told him, push the AR, get the AR away from the kid, pushed the AR. I don't know what his name was. And then I proceeded to take his other weapon, the pistol, and then just start hitting him at where I could.

I lost my kid's boyfriend. I tried. I tried -- everybody in there. I still feel bad that there's five people that didn't go home. And this guy, I told him while I was hitting him, I will kill you man because you tried to kill my friends, my family was in there.

As soon as I got done with that guy and the cop came in, I went across the room and started first aid with my friend who was shot in the chest, in the legs, in the arms. And I told her, Joanne (ph), stay with me. Look me in the eyes, stay with me. And I moved her head so she wouldn't see her (INAUDIBLE) because it was shot.

And Chip (ph) was right there, her husband was reaching for her. So I put her hand in his hand so that they can be together. I didn't know if they're going to make it. (Blip) this guy, man. This whole thing was a lot.

My daughter wife should have never experienced combat in Colorado Springs. They got to live with this now, so whatever. It's a lot for any human, man. This kid that was helping me he was kicking another human in the head. And I told him to do it.

I'm not a hero. I'm just a guy that wants to protect his kids and his wife. And I still didn't get to protect her boyfriend.


FLORES: And Wolf, just such raw emotion. Hearts are heavy in this community as the community continues to grieve for the lives lost.

You know, Fierro was also asked if he had a message for the shooter. And what he said was that he would want to see him in court. And now we know that the suspected gunman is expected to be in court tomorrow morning. Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, he is. All right. Thanks very much. Very emotional moment, indeed. Thanks Rosa Flores.

Let's discuss what's going on right now with the Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Attorney General, thank you so much for joining us. Now that the gunman is in jail and will appear in court tomorrow, what can we expect? When can we expect more information about the specific charges?

PHIL WEISER, COLORADO ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, there'll be charges that will be presented. Some hint obviously, as soon as tomorrow. A big question will be what proof can and will be shown to prove this was a biased crime or a hate crime. That'll have an additional sentence enhancement and also has meaning under Colorado law as well.

The reality is in the Colorado Springs police department chief said this, every single person who was there at Club Q is a victim of one crime or another. And as you heard from Richard Fierro, the role of the criminal justice system here is going to be honor all those victims, every single charge that will be added will represent someone who suffered. And that means we may be added charges for some time as this investigation continues and we can basically put to each person the charges that are reflective of what they suffered and can give them some measure of, at least, understanding that their harm is being taken into account and being advanced in the criminal justice system.


BLITZER: So what charges do you expect? I assume you expect murder, I assume you expect hate crimes, but tell us what you expect.

WEISER: So the police chief mentioned even menacing, for example, as a criminal offense that any single person who is there could be charged with. Obviously, five murders. And the question will be, are others going to be charged with attempted murder? Obviously, clearly, people have been assaulted with a deadly weapon.

So there are going to be a lot of charges here. And the prosecutor's office I know will be working really hard to be thorough. The police department working with the FBI are getting all the facts. It's really important that we're able to honor the victims, and to be able to call out this crime for what it really appears to be, which is a hate crime motivated by who people were. Club Q was -- this has -- been remarkable people who could live as their best authentic selves that was disrupted in what was a horrendous attack that should never have happened.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Is the suspect cooperating with authorities?

WEISER: So we're not able to talk about any details of what's happening. The sub -- as was noted, the suspect will be able to appear in court. This process will take some time, and the investigation will continue. And the community will continue struggling to understand how this happened, how we do better, what can we learn from this terrible crime.

BLITZER: You just heard our reporting, Attorney General, that the suspect was bullied online and had a turbulent childhood. Will that have any impact on the investigation? WEISER: The defense that's going to be mounted will proceed. And the question that courts will often have to decide is, is there a claim that someone is not competent to stand trial? I've not heard any evidence on that point. Obviously, the question about motivations are going to get really concerned here that what we see here is, I mean, we're not sure why this individual did something this horrendous.

Explanation would be there's so much hate out there that's being really encouraged and people that's brewing with more and more demonization based on who people are, sexual orientation and gender identity. And this is a call for all of us to look at words that are being used and to be as inclusive as we can.

BLITZER: Yes, it is indeed. Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, thanks for all you're doing. Thanks for all your important work. And thanks for joining us today. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

WEISER: Pleasure.

BLITZER: Up next, the Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy heads to the southern border as his party prepares to take control of the House of Representatives.

And a man is charged with making desks -- death threats against the FBI director and Democratic Congressman John Garamendi. Congressman Garamendi joins us for an exclusive interview. That's coming up. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Today, President Biden announced he's extending the pause in student loan repayment again as a student loan forgiveness plan is tied up in court battle. CNN's Arlette Saenz is in Nantucket where President Biden heads tonight for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Arlette, as President Biden announces this extension, he's also mulling his own political future. Tell us what's going on?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden has said that he intends to run again in 2024. But he has also said that it ultimately will be a family decision. And Nantucket is a place that he and his family have been visiting for decades over the Thanksgiving holiday. And it's often here that they talk about the President's political ambitions.

Now the White House has been very careful not to telegraph what exactly President Biden is thinking about 2024 run, but it is expected that those family conversations are expected to pick up in earnest starting here over that Thanksgiving holiday and extending into the Christmas holiday as well. In a bit earlier today, Vice President Kamala Harris talked about the prospects of a 2024 run.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as the President said he intends to run and if he does, I will be running with him. And I have no doubt about the strength of the work that we have done over these past two years.


SAENZ: So they are -- Vice President Kamala Harris's thoughts. She said something similar to that in the past. But this all comes as behind the scenes, his aides have been preparing for a possible 2024 run. Of course, they don't want to be caught off guard once President Biden does give them the final go ahead if he does to run for president again.

But as you follow President Biden for quite some time, you know it's not going to come down just one single conversation. This is something that he will be talking to his family and advisors about over the course of the coming weeks. Ultimately he says he intends to have a decision early next year.

BLITZER: Yes, we shall see. All right, Arlette Saenz in Nantucket, Massachusetts for us. Thank you very much.

Today, the White House accused Republicans of having no plan for immigration reform as Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy visited the southern border to discuss border security. CNN's Melanie Zanona is up on Capitol Hill for as.

Melanie, so what is this signal about his priorities?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, first and foremost, this signals at the border is going to be a top investigative priority for top Republicans when they have subpoena power next year. They have already demanded a wide range of documents related to the border and to immigration laws and they've already said they want hearings and potentially transcribed interviews with Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Security Secretary, as well as some other White House officials.

But McCarthy did make a little bit of news today at this press conference. He called on Mayorkas to resign, accused him of lying to the American people over saying that the border is indeed secure. And McCarthy also said that if Mayorkas doesn't step aside, that there could be impeachment proceedings. Take a listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), MINORITY LEADER: Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action, and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.


ZANONA: Now, McCarthy did not fully commit to impeaching Mayorkas in that instance, but, Wolf, I can tell you, these are his strongest comments to date on the subject. And notably, it comes as he's facing a rebellion from his right flank in the Speaker's race. There are about five House Republicans who have said they're going to vote against McCarthy in January on the House floor during the speaker's vote.

And one of their complaints is that they claim McCarthy is not aggressive enough when it comes to impeachment and investigation. So everything that McCarthy does between now and January needs to be viewed through the lens of the speaker's race.

Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security says Mayorkas has no plans to resign. And they also called a member of Congress to come together and to try to come up with legislative solutions to fix the country's broken immigration system. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill.

Let's discuss what's going on with CNN National Politics Reporter Eva McKend and Audie Cornish, host of CNN's "The Assignment with Audie Cornish," the new podcast just out. Audie, let's talk a little bit about Kevin McCarthy's visit to the border. What does that signal to you? What should we expect his priorities to be assuming he does become the next Speaker of the House?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it sounds like not legislating, so to speak. I mean, they're very focused on the investigative aspect of this, because of the call from the caucus. He's also haunted by all the sort of Republicans speakers' paths, whether that be John Boehner, or Paul Ryan, and all these people who weren't able to kind of gain control of their conference.

And lastly, you know, investigations and impeachment, even if you know they're not going to be successful, which these would not with a Senate Democratic majority. They are about driving the new cycle. They're about constantly framing every single discussion in your kind of context and ideas in this case that something is going wrong, not how can we fix it.

BLITZER: You know, Eva, the path, McCarthy is not going to have an easy path right now, these new defections that just being announced from the Republicans. So what does that say to you? How's he going to deal with us?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, we'll have to see it does suggest that it's going to be a difficult couple of weeks here for Kevin McCarthy. I won't say though, it's easy for Republicans, House Republicans to talk tough now. I think let's see how they actually vote.

This is one of their first tasks after retaking the majority choosing a House speaker. And when it's all said and done, they don't want to come off looking dysfunctional. So let's actually see, because they're looking for a consensus candidate. I think, one of the the congressmen who indicated that he was not going to support McCarthy added that they're looking for a Ron DeSantis type figure, well, that might not emerge in time. And so let's just see what they ultimately do.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. You know, Audie, we heard Arlette report from Nantucket that the next few weeks, as he's with his family, the President of the United States is going to decide whether he intends -- he really intends to go ahead and seek re-election. What do you anticipate? When will we get a final decision from the President of the United States?

CORNISH: Yes, I mean, I like to listen to the reporter on The Beat. And I think our lead nailed it when she said this is going to take some time. And it's not any one discussion. We know in the past, Joe Biden has waited a very long time to decide when he wanted to run for the presidency in 2016. I believe he waited so long, he actually couldn't get into the race anymore. So this is not unusual.

I think the question that's not being asked out loud is when people are concerned about this, they don't just sort of follow up and say, and of course, we would support a Kamala Harris run or something like that. There's a kind of blank space there as everyone waits for his answer. And I'm going to be curious to see how the answers from people who are asked that question kind of evolve over the next couple months.

BLITZER: Eva, we did hear from Vice President Kamala Harris say that if, if President Biden does seek re-election, she is going to be running with him. So is that a done deal do you think right now?

MCKEND: I don't think it's a done deal, Wolf, but it does make a lot of sense. You know, the Vice President doesn't -- presidency doesn't hold a lot of power, but she has been a really reliable ally of the President carrying forward his mission. We haven't seen sort of any reporting to suggest that she has tried to undermine him in any way. So it makes a lot of sense that they would run together if he chooses to to do that, to run again.


BLITZER: You just came back. You were down in Georgia for the last several weeks covering what's going on down there. There's a lot going on in Georgia. As you know, three Republican party committees just filed a new petition asking the Georgia Supreme Court to stop Saturday, early voting in the state of Georgia right now. Why are Republicans continuing to fight against Saturday voting, which would make it a lot easier for a whole bunch of people to go out and vote on a Saturday?

MCKEND: You know, Wolf, this has been remarkable to watch the way that they have really fought this tooth and nail. First the Republican Secretary of State, he lost in court, then the Republican attorney general's office, they lost their appeal. And now the state party along with national Republicans are doing all that they can imploring the state Supreme Court to get involved. They argue that that it unfairly privileges Democrats.

But listen, early voting is already underway. Counties are figuring this out. And they have an optics problem here because Democrats are arguing the folks that vote early are largely African American, right, are largely working-class folks who maybe can't get to polling locations during the week. And you have Republicans very forcefully pushing against this. It's also a question of strategy here.

They're spending so much time fighting this Saturday voting, which is just in a few days, just a few days after Thanksgiving, rather than I think working on building an infrastructure or shoring up an infrastructure to ensure that their voters participate in this Saturday voting as well.

We know at least two counties where in Walton, more than 70 percent of those counties during the general election voted for Herschel Walker. So if those counties are providing early voting, why not spend this time, making sure that Republicans, they are actually participate in the Saturday process.

BLITZER: Audie, how do you think -- how do you see this playing out? Because you would think you want as many people to vote as possible. And Saturday voting would help a lot of people who work during the week, and they might be able to go out and vote on a Saturday.

CORNISH: I think the context for the strategy is there's a gap between the voters who are Republicans who came out and supported Governor Kemp versus the voters who supported Walker. They're still trying to close that gap. That's the context for all the rest of this freaking out about the voting rules. They're not quite sure about their Republican voter and how they'll turn out and how those show up.

And if that independent swing voter will actually say, you know what, fine, this time around. I might go for Warnock. So I think there's that kind of dual concern there. It's about the rules, but it's also about not really having a handle on your own.

BLITZER: Audie Cornish, I love your new podcast. Thanks very much for joining us. Eva McKend, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, we'll have the latest on a police update on the mysterious Idaho student murders and the possibility of more than one suspect. Plus, prosecutors unsealed charges against the Michigan man accused of threatening to kill the FBI director and California Congressman John Garamendi. The Congressman will join us live for an exclusive interview that's coming up.



BLITZER: We're expecting an update from police tomorrow on the investigation into the brutal killings of four Idaho college students found dead in their home. CNN National Correspondent Natasha Chen is on the scene for us tonight. Natasha, you just spoke to the state police spokesperson. What's the latest?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the spokesperson told us here that they are definitely making progress. That's what he said when I asked whether they were any closer to having a suspect in this case. Now, he did say that ever since a portal was opened online for people to submit potential surveillance footage relevant to the case, they've gotten a lot of submissions.

So they're going through those videos right now. And they are rather large files. So that could take a little bit of time. And he said that there have been more than 90 people interviewed, more than 700 leads that they're following. So a lot of work is happening behind the scenes that the public may not be seeing, but that are very critical to this case.

I also asked about this incident being targeted, because that is the -- what they said initially. And they still believe that it was. And the communications director told me that that is partly because two roommates in the house survived the attack. And that if the attack were a bit more non discriminant, that it's a potential that everyone could have died.

I also asked about the ongoing threat to the community because the initial messaging was a little confusing to the public about whether there was a further threat. So I asked him, what is the current level of threat to the people living here? What precautions do they need to take? Here's what he said.


AARON SHELL, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, IDAHO STATE POLICE: Anytime that there's a person's crime of this magnitude of murder, you know, assaults, those types of things, there's always the threat to the community when those suspect or suspects are out in the community. So yes, there are threats, we recognize that.

It's always wise for people to lock their doors, walk in pairs. Be alert of what they're doing. You know, there is somebody or some people out there somewhere that are murderers and we want to find them and bring them to justice.

CHEN: Is there more than one suspect potentially?

SHELL: So potentially.


CHEN: So as you can see, there are a lot of pieces of information that they are still working to put together as a whole picture before they vet that and put it out into the public. Yesterday, they also wanted to clarify that yes, there was a dog at the house where this happened. That dog is apparently now with in the custody of someone who is taking care of that dog and the dog is unharmed for all who were are concerned about that, Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Natasha Chen on the scene for us, thank you very, very much. Lots of unanswered questions still remaining.

We're also following what's now being described as massive shelling on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine where the country's forces are fighting to regain more land from the Russian invaders. CNN Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley, is on the scene for us tonight. So Sam, what's the latest?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, kind of almost as predicted, there has been an upsurge in violence on the Eastern Front, if one could call it that. That is the area around Kramatorsk, near the rebel held city of Donetsk, part of the ongoing Russian effort to try to defend and expand territory in that area, territory that they've laid claim to since 2014.

And arguably, perhaps beginning to shift the emphasis of their campaigning to that battle front, now that the Russians have withdrawn from Kherson City, where I'm standing here and 40 percent of the rest of the province. But the fighting goes on here, albeit in terms of exchanges of artillery, Wolf.

BLITZER: So you're there in Kheron, Sam, where people are still facing very, very harsh realities, despite being liberated from the Russian military. So tell our viewers some more about what you're seeing there.

KILEY: Well, for example, it's early in the small hours of the morning here, it is bitterly cold, there is absolutely no national electrical system. There's only generator power for the very few people who've got access to generators. There's relatively little food and no running water. Now there are many tens of thousands of people that live in this city.

They're also, Wolf, being constantly harassed by mortar fire. They are only perhaps a kilometer away from the Russian front lines at some points across the Dnipro River, where we've been moving around the town yesterday. We're pretty close to -- pretty, pretty close to the central areas of the city.

There's a large amount of random incoming mortar fire and outgoing fire as the both times of them -- both times of -- both sides continue to harass each other with this fire in order to to prevent each other from building up any further elsewhere in the country. In other words, this becomes a vital but potentially static battle line for the future, much to the negative effects of the local population, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, our hearts go out to the Ukrainian people who are suffering from this brutal Russian invasion. Sam Kiley, on the scene for us, stay safe over there. We'll be in touch. Appreciate it very, very much.

Coming up, what some are calling the biggest upset in World Cup history. We'll go live to Qatar for the latest on the stunning defeat of one of the top ranked teams. Plus, details of the first legal battle for the newly appointed special counsel investigating former President Trump. We'll be right back.


[17:52:41] BLITZER: Some are calling it the greatest upset in World Cup history. Underdog Saudi Arabia defeating two-time world champion Argentina, among the favorites to actually win this year 2 to 1, final score. CNN's Don Riddell is in Doha, Qatar for us tonight. Don, you were there, tell us about this major, major upset.

DON RIDDELL, CNN HOST, WORLD SPORT: Wolf, it was absolutely extraordinary. It was an incredible atmosphere. It was just incredibly special to be there and nobody saw this coming. I don't even believe that the Saudi Arabia fans for all they have provided before the game. I don't think they saw this coming.

We've all heard of Lionel Messi and this star-studded Argentina team, one of the favorites for the tournament going into the game on an unbeaten 36 game streak. And then guys that most people have never heard of, pulled off one of the most sensational results ever. The goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari were absolutely extraordinary.

This is a huge win of historical significance. A big deal for Saudi Arabia, obviously, it's the first World Cup in the Middle East. It's the first World Cup in a Muslim country. And really, this is just a win for the entire region. There were fans there from all over the Middle East celebrating this and they will never forget it. And it's so good that Saudi Arabia has already declared that tomorrow will be a national holiday.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm not surprised that they're making that declaration. One of the biggest stars in soccer, as you know, is now actually leaving his club. How's that playing over where you are at the World Cup?

RIDDELL: Well, it's not playing out to every well for Portugal. So we're talking about Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi's great rival as it happens. He delivered an incendiary interview with his club team Manchester United just a few days ago. And he was kind of obvious as soon as that happened, but he would never play for them again, which I suspect was his intention all along.

That has now come to pass. The club has announced today that he is leaving immediately under mutual consent. But the problem is he's here playing in the World Cup for Portugal. And this story has just dominated the team's build up to their opening game on Thursday against Ghana. It was already a big talk of the players and the manager were already being asked about it.

Some of his teammates have publicly shunned him or dismissed him in the locker room and on the training ground. We've seen video clips of that. And now it's all in the news again 48 hours before they play Ghana on Thursday.


They must hope that this is not a big distraction. But let's be honest, of course it is. They're hoping they could just get through this kind of game and focus back on themselves and the team and not Ronaldo, who remains the big star, the great ego. It's always about him, but they just wish it could be about the team this time.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of drama unfolding over there. CNN's Don Riddell, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, newly revealed death threats against top federal officials, including California Congressman John Garamendi. They'll join us live for an exclusive interview that's coming up.


BLITZER: Happening now, Special Counsel Jack Smith dives headfirst into his new job overseeing the Trump criminal investigations. Federal Prosecutor squaring off today with Trump attorneys in a very high stakes hearing over the Mar-a-Lago documents case.

Also today, a Michigan man is facing charges after allegedly threatening to kill FBI Director Chris Wray and Democratic Congressman John Garamendi. Congressman Garamendi is standing by live.