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Georgia to Recount Presidential Ballots Again per Trump Request; Judge Dismisses Trump Campaign's Pennsylvania Lawsuit
 Published on Monday November 23, 2020 - 7:46 AM
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Georgia to Recount Presidential Ballots Again per Trump Request; Judge Dismisses Trump Campaign's Pennsylvania Lawsuit; Trump Continues to Claim He Won Election; Trump Golfs as Pandemic Spreads; Record COVID-19 Surge in California; Thanksgiving Travelers Pack Airports; G20 Leaders Focused on Pandemic without Trump; Some Colleges Implement Testing Plans as Students Travel Home. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired November 22, 2020 - 02:00 ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Thank you for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. This is CNN.

Coming up, all eyes on Georgia. Again, the state will once again recount the votes and the virus is impacting the state's Senate runners.

Plus the, U.S. is passing 12 million coronavirus cases; 25 percent of those cases are being reported just this month alone.

And after the CDC warned people to stay home for the holidays, many people are ignoring the warning and traveling this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Robyn Curnow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

CURNOW: We begin with this breaking news. As president Donald Trump continues his efforts to somehow overturn his election defeat, he has forced now what would essentially be a third count of the presidential ballots here in Georgia.

Now Mr. Trump got the recount because Joe Biden's margin of victory was less than 0.5 percent. But Georgia had already ordered the presidential vote. So this will be the third time around at taxpayer expense.

The Biden campaign says the results will be the same and says there's no reason to believe there are widespread errors of fault and that the Trump campaign is no evidence to back up its baseless claims.

Things did not go President Trump's way in the state of Pennsylvania Saturday. Far from. It justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has that story. Jessica.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in Pennsylvania completely tearing apart the Trump legal strategy that was spearheaded by Rudy Giuliani.

The federal judge in Pennsylvania, Matthew Brann, he's a long term Republican, a President Obama appointee, however, but he called this latest case that he's dismissed "like Frankenstein's monster ... haphazardly stitched together."

The judge in this case, Matthew Brann, tearing apart the claims, by the Trump team that they wanted to invalidate the vote in Pennsylvania and throw out nearly 7 million votes.

The judge in this case saying this, "One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption.

"That has not happened. Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.""

This judge was very skeptical during the hearing but he completely tore the Trump legal arguments apart. This was really the last remaining case in a crucial swing state that could have potentially affected any votes.

Really at this point, the Trump team's legal strategy is crumbling before our eyes. They really don't have any major cases left, even despite the fact that, on Saturday, more lawsuits were filed in state court, looking to invalidate the vote and really stop the certification.

The certification is set to happen in Pennsylvania on Monday. It is also set for Monday in Michigan. That's where something else is playing out, where the Trump team has shifted from a legal strategy to a political pressure campaign.

They are putting pressure on some of the Republican political leaders there and now there is concern that, with the state board of canvasers meeting on Monday at 1 pm, that they could actually deadlock. It's a four member board, two Republicans, two Democrats.

If there is a 2-2 split, this could actually end up in the courts or the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, could step in to replace maybe those noncompliant board members.

So there's a lot of stake in the coming days but it could be game over when these votes are certified in the coming days and that could really be the end for the Trump team -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


CURNOW: David Sanger joins us now from Washington. He's a CNN political analyst and national security correspondent for "The New York Times."

David, wonderful to. See you wrote in "The New York Times" in the last few days that the language in the legal challenges to these election results are unparalleled in American history.

Are we seeing a very audacious use of the courts here?

Or is it just fruitless last gasp by the outgoing president?


DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it is an audacious use of political force that is looking increasingly like it will be a fruitless last gasp.

We shouldn't forget here, Robyn, how unusual this is for the American system. And in that same article, I compared it to the most recent time that a presidential election was thrown to the House of Representatives. That was 1876.

And even in that case, there was real dispute that everyone agreed was a real dispute about the outcome of the vote in three states. What's remarkable here is that there is no real dispute about the outcome. They have done audits and recounts and have all come out within a few votes of where the original was.

It's very clear that Joe Biden won this by about 6 million popular votes. And the way things are breaking out right now, he has 306 electoral votes, which sounds like a familiar number. It is exactly the number that Donald Trump had when he beat Hillary Clinton four years ago and that the president told us was one of the great landslides in American history.

But this one, we are told, was supposed to be so close that it actually was stolen from him.

CURNOW: So when you look at the language in the tweets and the legal challenges, you say in your piece that the president's attempts of succeeding to overturn the results are somewhere between remote and impossible.

Yet, is there still a lot of widespread alarm?

Could he still cause some electoral problems?

SANGER: He's got at least so far a two part strategy. Part one was go to the courts and see if he could invalidate the ballots state by state. That has failed. I think today he lost his 32nd or 33rd core challenge of some kind. He's won 2 of them on small numbers of ballots.

Part 2 was to go see if they can go strong-arm the legislators in Michigan, perhaps in places like Arizona or Georgia, maybe Pennsylvania, to go come up with the alternative slate of electors, to ignore what the voters said. That also looks to be failing.

So the other question is, does he have a plan C after that?

We just don't know the answer.

CURNOW: It's kind of incredible that we're having this conversation, though, that the U.S. president seems to be actively trying to take away, strip the votes of Mr. Biden who won, by pressuring lawmakers or the courts.

I have covered many elections in Africa for example. There doesn't seem to be any concern about the underlying threat that this possibly poses to the basic foundation of democracy. And I don't think I'm overstating this.

SANGER: I don't think you are. We were both foreign correspondents on different sides of the globe. I was in Asia for many years and you in Africa. And we both covered our fair share of cases, where it looked like someone was coming in to try to fix the vote.

What's remarkable here is that we have a lot of people surrounding President Trump, many of his own party, saying, well, let's just humor him, let him exhaust his legal rights and he certainly did have legal rights to go challenge the balance.

But now that those challenges have fallen apart, we don't see them standing up and saying, OK, so it's time now that everyone acknowledged that Joe Biden is going to get inaugurated on January 20th and move towards a serious transition at a moment of great peril, largely because of coronavirus but not only because of coronavirus.

That's not what we're hearing. That's what's really remarkable about this.

CURNOW: What happens then in the coming weeks?

What happens on the 19th of January?

At what point, what kind of game plan are we potentially looking at, what kind of exit strategy?

Is there a plan to kick the president out of the White House?

I'm being dramatic but how does this play out?

It's all uncharted territory.

SANGER: There are dates before coming up before. That. On December 14th, the electors meet in each of their state capitals and declare their slates. At that moment, this is pretty well done. They then forward it to Congress.


SANGER: And Congress is supposed to ratify it on January the 6th. So if the president can't come up with a way for alternative slates to be forwarded to Congress, then he's really got no way forward that is visible to all of us. And by January 6, there would be a declaration. Now, of course, that's

fully 2 weeks before the inauguration. I don't think the president is going to hole up in the White House. I suspect he will go down to Mar- a-lago sometime around the holidays and I wouldn't be shocked if he just sort of stayed there and ran the country from there. It has certainly happened before but just not be around when January 20th came.

I also wouldn't be surprised if he did some counter programming on January 20th, held a rally, made the argument that he really should be in the midst of his second term, convince some of his greatest supporters that, in fact, he is sort of running the country, even if he's doing it from afar.

I could imagine any sorts of those scenarios to stay relevant, perhaps to get his own media outlet of some kind and to be part of the continuing part of the conversation. I think he's going to find it increasingly difficult because people aren't going to pay as much attention to his tweets as they do when they're coming out of the White House.

CURNOW: David, always good to speak to you and get your perspective. Thank you so. Much

SANGER: Thanks, Robyn always great to be with you.

CURNOW: So after the Pennsylvania decision came down, state Republican senator Pat Toomey congratulated Joe Biden as president- elect.

He said, quote, "With today's decision by Judge Matthew Brann, a long- time conservative Republican, whom I know to be a fair and unbiased jurist, to dismiss the Trump campaign's lawsuit, President Trump has exhausted all plausible legal options to challenge the result of the presidential race in Pennsylvania.

These developments, together with the outcomes in the rest of the nation, confirmed that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and will become the 46th President of the United States."

Well the Trump White House is still denying President-Elect Joe Biden and his team access to critical resources and briefings but Mr. Biden is remaining calm and moving forward. Arlette Saenz is covering the Biden transition.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President-Elect Joe Biden's team welcomed the decision from a federal judge to dismiss Trump campaign's lawsuit in Pennsylvania as the Biden team says it backs up their arguments that there are no legal challenges that the president can credibly wage in order to change the results of this election.

A spokesperson for Joe Biden, Mike Gwin, says, "Yet another court has rejected Trump and Giuliani's baseless claims of voter fraud and their appalling assault on our democracy. "The judge's ruling couldn't be clearer. Our people, laws and

institutions demand more and our country will not tolerate Trump's attempt to reverse the results of an election that he decisively lost."

Biden's team has long argued these lawsuits and legal challenges are simply political theater and they don't believe that anything credible can be raised to change the outcome of the election.

But they have warned that these types of challenges are threatening to American democracy but they also believe that this election is over and the results will stand. Biden is pushing forward with his transition, even as the GSA has yet to ascertain him as the president- elect.

Biden has been convening his own teams of experts and holding briefings with people, as they are gathering more information about how to proceed heading into January. And Biden is also building up his White House staff but also looking at his cabinet decisions.

And the president-elect has sped up his timeline for announcing his first cabinet picks, with the possibility of the first nominees coming at the start of the week -- Arlette Saenz, CNN, Wilmington, Delaware.


CURNOW: So also breaking this hour, yet another prominent Republican is tested positive for coronavirus. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is in the heat of a runoff that could determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. She tested positive on Friday. Another test on Saturday came back as inconclusive.

She was with vice president Mike Pence at campaign events on Friday, along with the other Republican senator from Georgia, David Perdue.

Loeffler's office says she does not have symptoms and is quarantining until retesting is conclusive one way or another. No idea whether Mr. Pence or Mr. Purdue will do the. Same

And still ahead on CNN, U.S. president Donald Trump misses a G20 session about the pandemic to go. Golfing. We'll talk it over with a member of Joe Biden's coronavirus advisory board.

Plus, long lines and new records.


CURNOW: We'll take you to California as it sees an alarming surge in virus cases.




CURNOW: Welcome back. It's 18 minutes past the hour.

A troubling marker for the country worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. now surpassing more than 12 million known cases on Saturday. That's according to Johns Hopkins University.

Remember it hit 11 million just last Sunday. No other country is nowhere near that many confirmed cases. Now the increases are rapid, with many states shattering daily records. And the country as a whole has seen more than 100,000 new cases a day for 19 days.

To make matters worse, it is just 4 days before Thanksgiving. Many people travel to see loved ones. The CDC is urging them though to stay at home and celebrate the holiday with a virtual gathering.

But as you can see from these images, the advice is falling on deaf ears for many Americans. And you don't hear much about any of this from the president, Donald Trump. He's refusing to coordinate with the incoming Biden administration, spending much of Saturday golfing and spreading baseless election conspiracy theories.


CURNOW: Dr. Celine Gounder joins us now, she's a member of the Biden- Harris transition COVID advisory board.

Doctor, thanks for joining us, congratulations on your new role. The numbers are overwhelming. As you look ahead about what needs to be done in January, when the Biden administration takes office, what is the one thing you think needs to be done?

DR. CELINE GOUNDER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the one thing that needs to be done is something that needs to be done now, not wait until January 20th to pass a stimulus package. The prior stimulus support to help people with the economic pain and the social pain of the pandemic.

That is about to run out. And it's really hard to ask people to abide by public health interventions and restrictions when they might not see the direct impact on their own lives. Maybe a young 20-something who is a relatively low risk for disease but you are out of work.

We need to be addressing their concerns as well and that starts with a stimulus package. Unfortunately, Senator McConnell, the Senate majority leader in Congress, has been holding up that bill. But that really needs to be done now and not wait till January 20th.

CURNOW: We are seeing images of people at airports, going on Thanksgiving trips. Long lines, not a lot of social distancing and also not a lot of listening to the warning that folks should just perhaps stay at home this year.

We know that the delayed effects of these holidays will certainly hit just as Mr. Biden takes office in January.

How concerned are you about images like this? GOUNDER: I am really, really worried because I know many hospitals across the country are already at capacity. And this is essentially pouring fuel, gasoline on a fire. This is going to make what is already accelerating exponential spread of the virus even worse.

So we are going to see hospitals overrun before too long and this is precisely going to hit when hospitals are understaffed, when a lot of their doctors and nurses are on holidays themselves so we have a skeleton crew in the hospital.

This is going to be happening after transmission related to Thanksgiving. Those cases will be in the hospitals over Christmas. I myself will be in the hospital working over New Year's. I am very concerned about the fact that we will be understaffed at that time.

CURNOW: We also saw today the president playing golf while world leaders were discussing the pandemic at the G20. These are images here as well.

What message did that send?

GOUNDER: To me, that is turning your back on the American people. He has not been a leader throughout this entire pandemic. He has not risen to the occasion to unite the American people against a common threat. And this is really more business as usual for this administration, which is not to provide leadership in a moment of crisis.

CURNOW: Are you able to work around the limits being placed on you by the Trump administration?

Can you informally work with some of the outgoing members of his COVID team?

Have there being some sort of reachout, to create some sort of transition on the COVID plans?

GOUNDER: Well, we've actually being counseled not to try to back channel. The team really wants to do everything by the books, above board. What we can do is work with other stakeholders outside of the federal government.

That includes working with state and local government and working with the private sector, whether that be pharmaceutical companies or the big pharmacy chains who will be helping us with distribution of vaccines and therapeutics.

But it's still trying to patch together, piecemeal together information and collaboration when really this should be done in a coordinated way with the current administration.

CURNOW: So what does it make you feel to know that you are literally going in cold in January?

GOUNDER: This is like leaping from one speeding train onto another. This is a serious Indiana Jones kind of move that we are being asked to make in the middle of a national, a global crisis. This is really scary.

And we are doing our best, we are professionals, we are experts in our fields. All of us on the advisory board have dealt with these kinds of crises in the past. But the kind of obstruction that we are dealing with is really unprecedented and is really quite. Frightening

CURNOW: Doctor, thank you very much for joining us, good luck.

GOUNDER: Thank you we will need. It

CURNOW: Well, California's among the states seeing dramatic surges.


CURNOW: It has recorded more than 15,000 infections Saturday, an all- time high. Now testing is in such high demand that we are seeing sights like. Lines of cars in Los Angeles stretching on and on. Restrictions have been tight and so far that hasn't stopped the uptick. Here's a report from Paul Vercammen.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a dramatic U-turn in California, which seemed to be doing so well with its COVID-19 numbers just a few weeks ago. And now, 15,000 cases and counting in one day in the state, an all-time record.

So they're battling this on a couple of different fronts. First off, contact tracing and testing here at Dodger Stadium; 7,000, 8,000, 9000 people being tested per day. They are also very aggressive in some new rollbacks, new restrictions.

A curfew has been invoked in most of California that forbids people from gathering in large clusters, from 10:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning. This is very much aimed at young people.

What they don't want is people getting together at their local watering hole or restaurant or in a park and being out in those early hours. You can, however, go walk the dog, drive to your friend's house, go to the grocery store.

But this is very much aimed at reducing the number of large groups that seem to be going out at times in California against the wishes of public health officials -- reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen. Now back to you.


CURNOW: Thanks Paul for that. So coming up here at CNN. Health warnings, what health warnings?

The surprising number of Americans traveling this weekend despite pleas from doctors to stay at home.

And even countries that don't celebrate are urging people to stay at home. COVID cases are not just surging here in the U.S. but in Europe as well. We will show you that.





CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. It's 30 minutes past the hour. Thanks for joining. Me I'm Robyn Curnow. And, of course, this is CNN.

So as the U.S. tops another sad and staggering number of coronavirus cases, another holiday threatens to boost the COVID spread even more. For weeks now, public health experts have been warning Americans to stay home this Thanksgiving.

The message does not appear to be getting through. The Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1 million people at U.S. airports on Friday. Airlines say they're bracing for their busiest week since the pandemic. Started. Evan McMorris-Santoro has more from New York.


EVAN MCMORRIS-SANTORO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On Saturday, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported the United States has now passed 12 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

It's a number that continues to rise. There have now being 19 straight days of more than 100,000 new cases in this country. What scares public health experts is that this surge is coming just at the beginning of the holiday travel season.

Here at JFK airport in New York, things are pretty quiet. But other airports across the country saw big, big crowds, like this crowd at the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport on Friday.

Public health experts worry that those big numbers of people at the airport, people moving from one place to another and congregating before going back to where they started from, is pretty much the worst-case scenario in a surging pandemic.

They are begging Americans to make the hard choice not to travel this holiday season -- Evan McMorris-Santoro, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: And we are fast approaching 60 million COVID cases worldwide, that's according to Johns Hopkins University. What's driving that surge is not just the U.S. but Europe as well.

Countries there are struggling with Europe's second wave the last few weeks. They might be doing a little bit better now but others are still overwhelmed with new patients. Germany was seen as a model for others to follow during the first wave

but on Friday the country broke its all-time case record. Germany's dealing with much more serious cases now than in the. Spring.

And in a virtual G20 summit, Vladimir Putin said Russia is prepared to provide its coronavirus vaccine to other countries. That's as Russia reported a record high of new daily COVID cases as well.

And British prime minister Boris Johnson is set to announce that England's lockdown will end on November 2nd. But Downing Street says more areas will likely be placed into higher alert levels to try and keep the virus under control.

Anna Stewart joins me now live from London with more on all of this.

Hi, Anna, what can you tell us?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Morning, Robyn. Well, cases appear to be leveling off in the U.K., that's the good news. And the lockdown for England is set to finish on December 2nd.

We've been under lockdown for little over 2 weeks. However, when we emerge from this lockdown, it won't be back to normal, it'll be back into that regional 3 tiered systems and we're expecting to have stricter measures.

But in those tiers, in more regions around England, likely to be in the higher level. This is all part of the government's so-called winter plan, that's being discussed by ministers today and will be presented in Parliament. Tomorrow.

Part of the plan, is possibly the bit we're all looking for, is what happens at Christmas. Now there's an expectation that perhaps restrictions could be eased, at least for a few days, to allow families to gather.

But that comes at a huge risk. This is an issue all countries around the world are facing, what to do about big national holidays, particularly Christmas. And for the U.S. Thanksgiving is just days away.


STEWART (voice-over): Going home for the holidays. It's what the CDC advises against this Thanksgiving. Crowded airports, people mingling from different households is the perfect way for a virus to travel as well. But the warning isn't enough to ground some passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The planes are safe, they sanitize everything. You got to live your life at the end of the day.

STEWART (voice-over): But in many places, the concern is saving lives. As many governments reimpose restrictions and coronavirus cases reach alarming levels.

On Monday, Toronto, Canada's most populous city, will go on lockdown for nearly a month. That means outdoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people; restaurants, curbside or delivery only. Even grocery stores can only operate at half capacity. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau appealed to people to stay at home.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: If you are planning to see friends this weekend, maybe don't.


TRUDEAU: If there was a birthday party or a gathering for dinner you were thinking about doing, don't do it.


STEWART (voice-over): A similar message in Iran where the deputy health minister says family gatherings are the main cause of infection. The country recently closed nonessential businesses in 160 towns and cities but some residents say people will continue to gather.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): No matter how much the government imposes restrictions, people do not comply. It's useless.

STEWART (voice-over): In New Delhi, India, not complying with coronavirus rules comes with a. Cost the government has increased fines from 500 to 2000 rupees, about $27, for those who don't wear masks.

Cases in Brazil are once again on the rise, passing the 6 million mark, after infections steadily declined since their peak in the summer. Officials say the surge is fueled by people out in about, in some cities packing into public places at pre pandemic levels.

Russian president Vladimir Putin says he will provide the Sputnik V vaccine to countries that need it. That hope is perhaps too far down the road and the wave of infections sweeping the world right now.


STEWART: Here in Europe, the second wave of coronavirus has been utterly devastating. Lockdowns have been severe. There are a few signs of improvement; for instance in France and here in the U.K., where cases do appear to be leveling off.

But as we approach the Christmas season, as we look at people wanting to gather and the relaxing of restrictions or people just ignoring restrictions, the big risk is that we see cases of the virus rise again -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Indeed, Anna Stewart there live in London.

So day two of the G20 virtual summit gets underway in just a few hours' time. Leaders of the 20 biggest economies, focused mainly on the coronavirus pandemic. We'll get a live report from Saudi Arabia after the break.

Plus a CNN investigation uncovering the facts surrounding a deadly protest in Nigeria. Here what the Nigerian army is now admitting.





CURNOW: I'm Robyn Curnow. Thanks for joining me live from Atlanta.

So the G20 virtual summit kicked off on Saturday. Not surprisingly, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, is certainly dominating this meeting.

Even though the U.S. has recorded more deaths than anyone, President Trump touted the U.S. response to the crisis and then he went golfing. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he has publicly downplayed its severity. Privately, though, he acknowledged during the early days how serious a threat it was. Nic Robertson joins me now from Saudi Arabia with more on the summit.

Hi, Nic, good to see you. Give us some sense of how Mr. Trump's appearance or perhaps non-appearance at some of these key meetings has played out there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, Robyn, I have to say it's incredibly hard to judge how it actually played out because the White House, unlike Number 10 Downing Street or the president of Turkey, a video statement was released. President Putin's video was released. The White House didn't release President Trump's video statement.

It gave its readout of what President Trump said and that language touting how strongly he had tackled the virus and how well they were doing on developing vaccines and how well the U.S. economy was doing.

That language is really out of kilter with what we have heard from the other leaders, also Ursula van der Leyen, European Commission president, all talking about working together, the importance of working together, unity and a unified approach.

I think some of the real keys here to how President Trump's speech may have gone down, the words of the king in his opening statement, the king spoke again about the importance of working together.

He did say these G20 nations, $11 trillion have been pumped in to their economies but he spoke about the importance of the World Trade Organization, one of the fundamentals of this G20 is to see that the World Trade Organization is strong enough to deal with future. Pandemics

President Trump has been against that multinational institution. It was interesting to hear as well, not only from the Turkish president but from the investments minister in here in Saudi Arabia, outlining that there was no leadership around the world when it was needed in the pandemic and the G20 was a solution.

He said some leaders -- and again he seemed to be pointing the finger at President Trump -- that some leaders had turn towards nationalism. I think the real message from these world leaders to President Trump, is thank you so much, goodbye and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

He has been from the outset out of kilter. And the message you getting from here is trying to build those global institutions that are absolutely vital, that he has been so opposed to during his administration -- Robyn.

CURNOW: What do you make of the fact that Mike Pompeo is barely there on the ground?

You talk about the attitudes towards this president.

But what are you getting in terms of attitudes towards the foreign policy that is on its way out potentially?

ROBERTSON: I think you've nailed it there, Robyn.

It's on the way out, isn't it?

That does seem to be the message the secretary of state Mike Pompeo was getting. Of course we don't know the details of what is achieved in these closed-door meetings in Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

But his meetings here in Saudi, from what we understand at the moment, will be relatively short. He'll be on the ground here for a relatively short period of time, much shorter, and it has to be said, than what was originally anticipated, significantly shorter.

That speaks to the secretary of state not being able to bring some multiple threads from different conversations in the region together and stitch them into something here in Saudi Arabia. We know the Saudis have been under huge pressure from President Trump to have open relations with Israel.

That doesn't seem to be in the offing right here at the moment. So I think the message here is, to secretary of state Mike Pompeo, whatever you've been trying, well and good but your day is done. We're now looking ahead to the presidency of President-Elect Joe Biden.


CURNOW: Nic, thank you for that, live from Saudi Arabia, Nic Robertson. Appreciate it.

A CNN investigation has shed new light on the deadly antipolice brutality protest in Nigeria one month ago. Now soldiers and police allegedly moved in on unarmed protesters in Lagos and fired shots into the ground. The Nigerian army denied the accusation but as now CNN's Nima Elbagir reports, they admit to having live rounds at the protests.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Nigerian army admitted at a hearing for the judicial panel of inquiry that soldiers were given both live and blank bullets when they were deployed to protests at Lekki toll gate on October 20th.

The admission seems to confirm a key finding of our CNN investigation into the shooting.


BRIG. GEN. AHED TAIWO, NIGERIAN ARMY: The soldiers will be given both live and blank bullets. OK. (INAUDIBLE). We saw that these protests had been infiltrated by some hoodlums. But peaceful protesters no doubt. But there were also hoodlums who sought to take advantage. That is why they were armed with blank bullets in addition (INAUDIBLE) in addition to the live (INAUDIBLE).


ELBAGIR: This is the first time the Nigerian army has admitted having live rounds at the protests. The army's statement also contradicts previous statements about the incident, including from Brigadier Taiwo himself, who told the judicial panel previously that the soldiers were firing in the air and firing blank ammunition.

The CNN investigation included evidence that bullet casings from the scene matched those used by the Nigerian army when shooting live rounds, according to current and former Nigerian military officials.

In addition, two ballistics experts also confirmed to CNN that the shape of the bullet casings indicate they used live rounds, which contradicts the army's previous claim they fired blanks. CNN's report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN.

The Nigerian army did not respond to numerous requests for comment prior to the broadcast and publication of CNN's story. This admission by Nigeria that live rounds were deployed is yet another in a series of constantly changing narratives as to what happened on October 20th at Lekki toll, gate where protesters had gathered to demonstrate against police brutality.

On Thursday, minister of information and culture Lai Mohammed (ph) said that the military fired blank ammunition in the air. He also dismissed the CNN investigation as "fake news and misinformation." CNN stands by our reporting -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


CURNOW: So coming up here on CNN, college students across the U.S. are headed home for Thanksgiving despite warnings not to travel. What some schools are doing for those who leave.





CURNOW: So for college students traveling home for Thanksgiving, there's now an added risk, potentially spreading the coronavirus unknowingly. CNN's Bianna Golodryga explains what some colleges are doing to mitigate that risk as students travel to and from campus over the holiday. Break


DONALD BIRX, PRESIDENT, PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY: Students come all through the day by alphabetical order and get tested.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sitting in a campus gym refitted as a COVID-19 testing site, Plymouth State University President Donald Birx has been preparing for a Thanksgiving break like no other.

DONALD BIRX: We've got them tested and going back home safely.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The New Hampshire public university has been testing students and faculty weekly since September. The strategy appears to be working. The school currently has fewer than 20 confirmed active cases, all isolated off campus.

DONALD BIRX: The students have been fantastic through the whole process.

DR. DEBORAH BIRX, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: We will have to adapt this Thanksgiving, just like the students have adapted to how they interact with each other.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Plymouth State recently hosted White House Coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx as she toured campuses last month. She also happens to be Donald's sister.

DONALD BIRX: There was a time when I called her up and I said, do you really think we can do this?

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): She has been focused on speaking directly to students and administrators about the rise in COVID-19 cases as colder weather and the holidays approach.

DR. BIRX: This virus can spread among families and friends. If you take your mask off and if you're primarily indoors.

DONALD BIRX: She spent 45 minutes just talking about all the background, what she'd learned. GOLODRYGA (voice-over): College students heading home for Thanksgiving are of special concern for Dr. Birx and other health officials.

A. DAVID PALTIEL, PUBLIC HEALTH PROFESSOR, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Young asymptomatic individuals, the so called silent spreaders, are fueling the epidemic in this country and so college students have a responsibility to ensure that they don't unwittingly unleash ticking time bombs into the nation's airports, train stations and Thanksgiving dining tables.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Despite that concern, the CDC hadn't published guidelines recommending against Thanksgiving travel until just one week before the holiday. That delay in guidance led to each campus setting their own protocols, some more rigid than others.

PALTIEL: They're all over the map, I think it's a recipe for a very jumbled Thanksgiving dinner.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): New York state's university system will require all its 140,000 students using on-campus facilities to test negative for COVID-19 within 10 days before departing campus. Those that test positive must isolate.

JIM MALATRAS, CHANCELLOR, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK: We want to give our families and our students and their families that they're coming for Thanksgiving and other things, confidence that we are maximizing all our public health protection.


GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The University of Michigan will also require campus exit tests.

ANDREW MOLLARD, COLLEGE STUDENT: I think it's a good procedure to make sure everybody, you know, stays safe.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): The University of Wisconsin's system is mandating three COVID-19 tests, one before and two after Thanksgiving break and even encouraging students not to go home at all.

ANDREW LEAVITT, CHANCELLOR, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN OSHKOSH: We normally would have maybe 60 or 70 students stay. We certainly would like to have more stay at this time.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Other schools are taking a more lax approach. Both Penn State and Indiana University are not making testing mandatory for students before leaving campus. And despite rising cases on its campus, Arizona State University officials say around half of on-campus students have not complied with random testing.

GOLODRYGA: Should mandatory guidelines be instituted in colleges before students decide to leave or break?

PALTIEL: Absolutely, voluntary programs sound wonderful but they don't work. GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Fortunately, many college students are being extra cautious.

ELLIOT BOZ, COLLEGE STUDENT: My family is at home and, you know, grandparents are back, so I want to make sure that I'm cleared before I come back home.

GOLODRYGA (voice-over): Bianna Golodryga, CNN, New York.


CURNOW: The grandfather who made it his mission to bring comfort to everybody else's grandchildren has died. For 14 years, David Deutschman (ph) volunteered to cradle sick and premature babies at a hospital here in Atlanta. A nurse says she never once saw a baby crying in his arms.

The staff showed their support after learning he had become ill from cancer.



CURNOW (voice-over): He earned many nicknames over the years, including ICU Grandpa and The Baby Whisperer. He died just 17 days after being diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. He was 86 years old.


CURNOW: That is a Thanksgiving story to end the show. Thanks for joining me. I'm Robyn Curnow. Kim Brunhuber continues after the break. He's waiting for you.