Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Blizzard Conditions, Icy Roads, Flooding, And Dangerous Cold As Massive Storm Blankets Country and Snarls Holiday Travel; January 6 Committee Releases 40-plus Additional Witness Transcripts; January 6 Committee: Trump Should be Banned From Holding Office Again;Mayor Oscar Leeser (D-El Paso) Discusses Freezing Temperatures Putting Migrants At Risk; Iranians Fear Wave Of Executions To Crush Protests; New Survey: Porch Pirates Have Stolen Packages From 260 Million Americans This Year; Hundreds Stranded In Cars In Buffalo Area. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 20:00   ET


CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They want to have a future here for their children.

They're actually praying about it as we speak, praying to be allowed to stay in this country. So they will do whatever it takes in order to stay in this country for their children -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Well, thanks for being there. Thank you for bringing that update to us tonight, and thank you all so much for joining us. I'm Kate Bolduan.

AC 360 starts now.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: The worst weather imaginable at the worst possible time.

Jim Sciutto here in tonight for Anderson.

Tens of millions of Americans right now are facing the brunt of one of the biggest winter storms in modern memory. From the Pacific Northwest to New England, Texas to Tallahassee, we have seen temperatures plunge in some places by tens of degrees an hour. Coastal flooding, gale force winds, blizzard conditions, roads iced over causing massive pile ups, including the one you see here on the Ohio Turnpike, which took at least one life.

We're also seeing more than a million homes without power tonight, more than 5,000 flights canceled. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Buffalo, Ground Zero right now for the storm, where we're just learning that hundreds of drivers are now stranded on icy roads in arctic temperatures; Omar Jimenez is at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in the Weather Center.

We begin with Polo Sandoval in Buffalo.

Polo, I wonder what you can tell us about these stranded drivers and what exactly they're facing tonight.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erie County officials, it is going to be a very long, frigid night, Jim for Erie County officials as they will be out in these conditions going through what is being reported as hundreds of stranded cars all over Erie County and potentially rescuing the people inside.

Authorities have told us that this is something that they feared was going to happen, that's why they implemented at 9:30 this morning, a driving ban hoping that people would stay home, but sadly, we now know that there are still many people out in these kinds of conditions, Jim.

I'll let you really kind of look at this for yourself. These whipping winds started early this morning and they have been relentless. They have not stopped and Mark Poloncarz, the Executive of Erie County reporting that it is very likely that these conditions will continue all night.

And then finally, perhaps some relief from the snow come daybreak, but these winds are likely to continue. Earlier today, wind gusts at 79 miles an hour confirmed by the National Weather Service here in Buffalo, that surpassed what they saw it during a historic blizzard in 1977. So

authorities certainly not kidding, Jim, when they said that this was going to be an extraordinary storm. And finally, authorities here are sending out as much advice as they can to some of those folks that are stranded. I know sometimes folks will listen to us on satellite radio in the vehicle, so the key advice that is coming from authorities right now is, if you are stranded, to stay in the car and simply run it for 10 minutes at a time for heat, make sure that exhaust is clear and to make sure that authorities could see you if they pass by. But again, the key, to stay in the vehicle.

And finally, I'll show you why as I make sure that there is no traffic coming, if you step out of the car, it is so easy to basically lose any visibility and become extremely disoriented and that's what authorities are tremendously worried about right now as it comes tomorrow morning that many people could or at least they could wake up to some horrible news and that's why authorities are going to be working all night long, braving these conditions to make sure that people are safe.

And the really what I've heard time and time again hear, Jim, coming from even Governor Kathy Hochul, people need to resist the urge in the area to leave their homes to spend Christmas with their families if they're not with them already.

SCIUTTO: Yes, they would have you safe than see them face-to-face.

Polo Sandoval, credit to you and your team for showing us just exactly how bad it is out there and please stay safe yourself.

SANDOVAL: Thank you, Jim. SCIUTTO: Buffalo's Mayor, he is going to be with us shortly. We should mention first though Chicago, in O'Hare International Airport, a major hub for United and American Airlines and home for the moment to our Omar Jimenez.

And Omar, we've been watching things there and listen, as we can see behind you, folks are still out there trying to get where they want to go, but I wonder what they're facing tonight.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You wonder how many of the people that are here are actually being successful in getting on their flights to get where they need to go. We've been seeing the number of cancellations continue to tick up over the day, 500 just here at O'Hare alone, the airport announced.

But when you look nationwide, we have seen more than 5,300 flight cancellations across the US according to FlightAware and that is on top of the more than 9,200 delays we have seen at airports across the US today, and all of that of course happening the day before Christmas Eve when the demand to maybe get to somewhere warm or even more importantly, to get to loved ones is as high as it would ever be, and all those factors of course, with the winter conditions we are seeing have come together to create a bit of chaos here.


SCIUTTO: Those numbers jumping. It was 3,000 or so cancellations this morning. Now already above 5,000.

Chicago, this is the coldest Christmas there, Christmas Eve since 1983. What are officials telling people about how to safely stay warm?

JIMENEZ: Look, I mean, Chicago is a place that is no stranger to cold, but this one in particular is a very, very difficult situation. I mean, we're looking at windchills of negative 25 degrees outside right now. So officials are telling people who are likely with families or still trying to go out to eat at places, that you really need to take this seriously, to layer up as much as you can.

The city has opened multiple warming centers, obviously, you know, there is a concern for those that are on the streets at night as well to try and give them at least some safety. So a lot of factors here in what is some bitter, dangerous level of cold -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. Listen to that advice, folks. It's important. Omar Jimenez in Chicago, thanks so much.

Now for a better idea of just how big, how bad, and how much worse this could get. Let's check in with CNN meteorologist, Derek Van Dam.

Derek, tell us, what is the latest forecast and particularly about how quickly the storm is going to move through the country and in which areas should we be keeping an eye on?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, look, it's such a multifaceted storm. You heard about the Arctic air that has settled in across the Eastern US. You've heard about the wind, and you saw Polo's live shot coming out of Buffalo, that is Ground Zero for the heaviest snow, but when it comes to the dangers from this system, it is this bitter, bitter air that we're all experiencing in places that don't normally experience these types of temperatures as well.

Birmingham, Alabama; Jackson, Mississippi; Atlanta, Georgia -- we're going to be below freezing for at least 48 hours. This is on the eve of the Christmas Eve that could be the coldest in the record books for Atlanta that goes back 50 years.

So get to my graphics because I want to show you the location of where this Arctic blast of air is. Its cold front is quite significant over the Eastern US, and as we move into the I-95 corridor, there is not a lot of precipitation going on, but of course the cold air has reached you in New York, DC, and Boston.

The cold front has moved through, settling into Buffalo. It's the wind direction that makes this so potent because it is carrying all of that moisture from the relatively warm waters of Lake Erie and producing that snowfall on the opposite end right where Polo is located and that is where we're going to be measuring snowfall in feet.

I mean, we might not see Buffalo for a couple of days because of how much snow will fall downwind from Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, as well as Lake Michigan. My hometown in Grand Rapids is getting hammered right now.

Now, these wind gusts are not typos, right, we're talking about near hurricane force gusts for many locations as this cold front moves through with wind advisories and warnings in place all along the Eastern Seaboard -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: That combination, it is amazing. It's also -- it also can be deadly. It's dangerous.

Derek Van Dam, thanks so much.

Joining us now by phone, Buffalo's Mayor Byron Brown.

Mayor, we just saw our Polo Sandoval out on the streets in Buffalo and boy, it looked to me like a freezing hurricane, right? I mean, it's cold, but you've got strong winds as well. Now, you have these people stranded in their cars in Erie County.

What's the latest we're hearing about them. Are you able to get to them?

MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK (via phone): Jim, you're right. It's a real blizzard here in Buffalo. In the city proper, we have about 50 people stranded in cars; in Erie County, it could be as many as 200 people stranded in cars.

We imposed driving bans this morning at 9:30 AM. Myself and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, we knew that this storm would get people caught up that people would get stuck if they drove unnecessarily, and what we feared when we imposed the driving ban, certainly is happening right now.

We will be sending Buffalo Police, Buffalo firefighters, and Erie County Sheriff's out to rescue people that are stranded in their cars. Those people that drove unnecessarily, they put themselves at risk and they're putting First Responders at risk as well.

SCIUTTO: So for folks watching this right now, we are a couple days to Christmas. They still want to see their family, they still want to see you their friends, what do you say to them about what they should and should not do tomorrow and the next day?


BROWN: Well, nobody should have been driving today. The driving ban will extend into tomorrow, and our major priority is public safety and the safety of First Responders and essential workers.

We tried to put messages out because this storm was forecast in advance that people should get into Buffalo, should get with families -- their family members by Thursday, knowing that the storm would begin to hit Friday morning at 7:00 AM and that it would not let up until Sunday, Monday.

So right now, if you're not here, if you're not with family, it is going to be very challenging. The roads are really bad. We're looking at between 36 to 48 inches of snow. That's the latest projection from meteorologists. As has been mentioned, wind gusts of 79 miles an hour.

So, this has been a very challenging storm. We've also seen trees down, power lines down, poles down. Visibility at zero for driving. So we want people to put their safety ahead of their desire to travel right now.

SCIUTTO: Well, as you mentioned, it is their safety and it's First Responders safety as well.

Mayor Byron Brown, we wish you the best of luck in the coming hours, we know you've got a lot on your plate and the people of Buffalo as well. Thanks for joining us tonight.

BROWN: Thanks very much, Jim, and Happy Holidays.

SCIUTTO: To you, too.

Well, we will have continuing live coverage of this throughout the hour, including from the Southern border where temperatures feel more like the Northern border, and thousands of migrants could be literally out in the cold tonight as their shelters fill up.

And next, we have new transcripts tonight a big name testimony from the January 6 committee, along with all the new revelations from its final report about just how organized persistent, premeditated and wide-ranging the former President's effort was to overturn the election he lost.


SCIUTTO: We have just obtained new transcripts in tonight of testimony by some of the key figures before the House January 6 Committee. It comes just on the heels of that Committee's final report.

In crafting that report, the Committee was aiming to right history, as well as to prevent one of the worst chapters of American history from ever repeating itself.

We're going to have more on that and the new testimony that landed tonight from CNN's Jessica Schneider, who joins us now.

Jessica, tell us what we're learning, particularly from these new witness transcripts?


The new released transcripts numbering more than 40 and they fill thousands of pages. They include really big names like Ivanka Trump, Hope Hicks, and former Attorney General Bill Barr.

Our team has been parsing through the pages and we have actually learned for the first time that Ivanka Trump did in fact hand over text messages to the Committee that we're still not clear exactly about the contents of those texts.

Ivanka did tell the Committee however, that she never exchanged any texts with Trump, her father, on any device. The Committee has also uncovered a White House press release -- get this -- that was drafted, but never actually sent that would have called for firing anyone who disagreed with Trump's false claims of election fraud.

So Jim, the Committee has said that these transcripts will keep coming out over the next few days through the end of this year, but really the most riveting details are contained in that 845-page report that was released last night.



SCHNEIDER (voice over): The January 6 committee leaving no doubt that former President Donald Trump was the one singularly responsible for the attack on the Capitol. The 845-page report saying none of the events of January 6th would have happened without him drawing a clear line between Trump's election denials and the violence that unfolded that day.

After sending four criminal referrals for Trump to the Justice Department, the Committee is also recommending that he is barred from holding government office ever again, zeroing in on a section of the Constitution that says any office holder who engaged in an insurrection can be disqualified from serving again. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again. He is unfit for any office.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): House investigators say Trump and his inner circle engaged in at least 200 attempts to pressure State officials to overturn the results, including this call with Georgia's Secretary of State.

TRUMP (via phone): I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the State.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): The report also highlighting other key players in the alleged conspiracy identifying pro- Trump lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro as the architect of the fake electors plot and a 23-minute call between Trump and Attorney John Eastman as the genesis of the pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence.

TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): This leading the Committee to recommend an overhaul of the 1887 Electoral Count Act that is close to becoming a reality as the House and Senate have each passed their own reform bills.

But back in 2020, Trump did not agree with every outlandish theory his team presented.

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The massive influence of communists money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China in the interference with our elections here in the United States.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): When Sidney Powell repeated these conspiracy theories in a phone call to Trump, White House aide, Hope Hicks told the Committee, the President muted his speakerphone and laughed at Powell, telling the others in the room: "This does sound crazy, doesn't it?"

The Committee also laying out Trump's failure to act for 187 minutes during the riot, writing: "President Trump did not contact a single top National Security official during the day."


Trump responding to the report, calling it a witch hunt, and today he is still falsely claiming he won the 2020 election.


SCIUTTO: Jessica, they issued their final report, of course, Republicans are going to take over the House in short order. What's next for the Committee?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, this is pretty much the end of the road. This was what they were aiming for. They've issued their report. We are expecting those transcripts to trickle out over the next couple of days as we head toward the end of the year, and that change over in Congress. But Jim, of course, the real next thing that we will all keep our eye on are those ongoing criminal investigations.

We've been reporting a lot, our team has, on the investigation out of Fulton County, Georgia, the DA there, Fani Willis. She has been really going full speed ahead in that investigation into election interference. And then of course, we have the relatively newly named Special Counsel, Jack Smith. He took over just a few weeks ago, but already he has been going full steam ahead as well.

He issued a flurry of subpoenas over the past few weeks to election officials in battleground states, so a lot to watch on both of those investigations as we head into the New Year -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Jessica Schneider, thanks so much.

Perspective now from CNN legal analyst and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Elliot Williams; CNN political commentator, former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Charlie Dent; and Margaret Talev, she is a CNN political analyst, AXIOS Managing Editor.

Good to have all of you.

Elliot, the Committee made its case here, of course, to make such a case and win such a case in the court of law, it's a higher standard, you've got to prove things beyond a reasonable doubt.

Based on the evidence you've seen from the January 6 Committee, did they do so? Did they prove crimes by President Trump and others?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, they certainly alleged crimes and look, of course, as you've said, Jim, it's up to the Justice Department to establish what they can get into Court and actually convince a jury of -- but look, you know, big picture, let's step back and look at number one, the number of people who are implicated, either as persons of interest or actual possible targets or subjects of investigations here or are already being investigated by the Justice Department. Obviously, what we saw here was quite serious.

So you know, it's hard -- I mean, look, let's put it this way, the Committee did what it needed to do, which was to make a case to the American people and put together a very sound report. Certainly, people are going to be charged with crimes more than we've already seen and we will just go from there.

SCIUTTO: Congressman Dent, and House Republicans have made very clear they are going to have their own investigation of the Biden administration. As it happens, I ran into someone today who is going to be working on the Committee that's going to investigate the Afghanistan withdrawal.

I wonder, should we be expecting a similar scale, scope, and aggressiveness from Republicans, as we've seen from the January 6 Committee?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think you're going to see a very aggressive, investigative, and oversight agenda from House Republicans and certainly, the Afghanistan withdrawal, the failed Afghanistan withdrawal, I think is going to be a major issue that they're going to pursue as well as the Southern border and some other issues.

It would be very smart, though, to focus on these issues that are, frankly, more relevant to what is happening today. I think they would make a mistake, House Republicans if they maybe chose to revisit, you know, the events of January 6th, you know, to talk about this talk about the security of the Capitol, I don't think that's going to help them.

I think they need to turn the page, and their oversight needs to be serious and sober and the tone will matter. You know, if it is just going to be a lot of people yelling and screaming, that's not going to help. They need to have serious, substantive oversight that is meaningful to the American public or they'll be judged harshly.

SCIUTTO: Margaret Talev, you do have some of the former President's advisers telling him to make his next run, which he has already announced for 2024, not backward looking, not to look at the 2020 election, look forward. Trump is not wanting to always follow the advice even of his closest advisers.

Do we expect his 2024 run to be as much about 2020 as we've heard so far?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Jim, he doesn't seem to want to let it go. He is still harping on the false notion that he should have been elected the President or was elected President.

I think the question is, to what extent is January 6 going to play in the 2024 GOP primary? And by all indications, it is not going to be something that most of the candidates that we expect to enter the race are going to bring up that on their own. Liz Cheney, maybe. Most others, no.

For one exactly, as you said, congressional Republicans as they assume the mantle of the majority in the House, are going to be investigating the investigators. So, that would run contrary to that playbook.

But also, I think, you know, these candidates, whether it's Ron DeSantis, or others who may be getting into the race, like they don't need to bring it up. This is already baked in the cake. It is baked in the cake as a General Election issue, and I think what you're going to hear from a messaging perspective is Republicans in the primary talk about winning and their prospects of winning a General Election.


2022, the Midterms presented kind of a roadmap for that, Trump and his candidates didn't do well and it's going to be -- that will be the way January 6 is cast.

SCIUTTO: Eliot, one of the many legal questions the Justice Department has to address is the question of intent, right? And that gets to whether Trump believed that the election was actually stolen.

When you see pieces of testimony like the one that was in Jessica's report there where even the President himself said at times, "this is crazy," he used the word crazy to describe some of the theories about this, does that begin to approach the standard of saying he had intent. He knew it was a lie, but he still used it to try to overturn the election.

WILLIAMS: Thanks, Jim.

So, the "this is crazy" is itself very good evidence. Also what the committee was very painstaking in noting all the times that the President either vocalized that he knew that he lost or someone had told him that he had lost the election, that will go to any number of sort of conspiracy to defraud the United States, or obstruction, possible obstruction charges, because of the fact that he knew he was committing in effect, an act of fraud by making a public case, despite knowing that he lost the election.

That is -- and there is a lot of it throughout the report, and I would urge people to take a look at it, because that's the hardest thing to prove. You can prove, to be clear, Jim, you can prove that there was a congressional hearing that day, just look at the calendar, right? But you have to prove that somebody intended to obstruct it and that legally is the toughest point.

So it's very notable that the Committee took great pains to note that the President knew that he lost the election.

SCIUTTO: Charlie, even without charges against him, whether from Georgia or from the Justice Department, if it doesn't happen, is the political damage already done to Trump? Has the shine come off him except for a small fraction, or at least not a majority of Republicans?

DENT: Jim, I would say that he has been a very much diminished figure for some time now. And he's been even more diminished since the recent 2022 election and of course, the dining with the antisemites and racists.

I mean, this has all hurt him. I mean, I think he has accumulated so much baggage right now that it would be hard for him to win a primary, unless, of course, it's a very crowded field. And the anti-Trump vote can be split numerous ways.

But there is no question, he has been diminished because he is so focused on the past and his own, you know, personal grievances about what happened in the 2020 election, and I think most Republicans are to the point now, even those who support him who think they need to just turn the page go forward, new face, time to move on, but I don't think Donald Trump is capable of moving on, you know, given the way he has been speaking in recent weeks and months. SCIUTTO: Eliot, Charlie, Margaret, I wish you all the best of Holidays. I hope you get a break. Thanks for joining us today.

TALEV: Thanks. Stay warm, everyone.

WILLIAMS: Merry Christmas.

DENT: Great Holidays.

SCIUTTO: Coming up next, more on the weather and what the night will be like, particularly for migrants on the Southern border with 20 degree temperatures forecast and shelters there overflowing.



SCIUTTO: Tonight's dangerous weather is deepening the crisis at the southern border.

In El Paso, Texas, the Red Cross and other organizations are giving blankets to migrants living on the streets facing a second night of below-freezing temperatures. Most aren't even dressed for the cold.

City One shelter that will only help those who turned themselves into Border Control and have immigration paperwork.

Joining us with the latest is the mayor of El Paso, Oscar Leeser.

Mayor Leeser, I want to begin on the issue of migrants. There are reports that shelters in your city are overflowing.

What is the scene like in El Paso tonight? And are you confident you're going to get the resources you need to get to everyone who needs help?

MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D-EL PASO): Yes, you know, that was one of the most important things to our community was to make sure that we have plenty of shelters and plenty of housing.

And we've been working with the diocese, with NGOs. We also opened a convention center to get everyone off the street. We've had buses out on the street.

And, you know, one of the things we've had where people didn't want to come off the street. They wanted to stay on the street. And we had the bishop as a matter of fact wanted to talk to them because they're afraid of getting deported so they didn't want to go in.

So we were literally out there working with them and talking to them and our final effort last night is we put two city buses, left them running and walked away from them and told them please come in, come into the city buses because it's going to be really cold.

Like I told you earlier, it got very cold last night so we opened the convention center. We have the capacity of 2,000 beds and working with the churches and NGOs and bishop and nuns on the street last night urging the people to please come inside.

SCIUTTO: Good for them. I mean, is there anything to back up the refugees' fears, if they seek help, they might end up getting sent out of the country?

LEESER: Well, they -- you know, they're very concerned that, you know, that they don't trust us really that we're going to take them back or send them back and return them. And our goal is to make sure no lives are lost and that everyone is out of cold.

And that we don't want to see people outside. We don't want to see them in these elements. We're going to continue to be out there day in and all night to make sure they're comfortable.

SCIUTTO: Has El Paso received enough federal resources to help handle this influx?

LEESER: Our federal partners have been great partners and that's -- I'm very thankful to the Secretary Mayorkas, the Red Cross. The Red Cross came in Sunday and brought 10,000 cots, blankets, clothing to make sure we have the stuff we needed.


And the secretary has given us a lot of funding and backup. And our Congresswoman Escobar is really very helpful and our local Senator has been very helpful.

We really -- it's been an incredible team, the county, the city. And not one person can do it. But I think we've shown how a lot of people together can do a great job.

SCIUTTO: You declared a state of emergency in El Paso last Saturday in anticipation of Title 42 being lifted. The Supreme Court then stepped in and put a temporary hold on that.

I wonder, is Title 42 in your view, the right fix or a right temporary fix for this growing influx of asylum seekers?

LEESER: No, you know right now everything that's going on -- and I keep saying this -- everything going on today is a Band-Aid and we need to fix the broken immigration system.

And we need to figure -- it's bigger than El Paso and bigger than the United States.

We got to get with the U.N. and the countries surrounding the area to come up with a solution because you cannot continue to go in this manner and think we're going to be OK because we're not going to be OK.

SCIUTTO: Mayor Oscar Leeser, you're right on the front lines. Thank you for joining us. And we wish you and the people of El Paso the best of luck in the coming days.

LEESER: Thank you and merry Christmas to everyone. SCIUTTO: Still ahead, as millions of people prepare to celebrate the

holidays, a CNN investigation found that, in Iran, dozens of people, including a high-profile athlete, could now be facing execution as their supporters fear the Western world is distracted. We'll have the details on the story coming up.



SCIUTTO: Iranian authorities executed now at least two people in connection with the mass protests across the country sparked by the killing of a woman arrested simply for not wearing her hijab properly.

A CNN investigation found 43 others could be facing the same fate while Iran believes the West is distracted by the holidays.

CNN chief international correspondent, Nima Elbagir, has the exclusive details.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): My son has been sentenced execution.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): My son is innocent. For the love of God, help him.

ELBAGIR: Desperate families in Iran, risking it all with a plea to the world to save their loved ones from execution.

Fearing that detainees in Iran are set to face a wave of executions in an accelerated judicial process, while holiday celebrations have the world's attention elsewhere.

ELBAGIR (on camera): In collaboration with Iranian activist group, 1500Tasvir, we worked to verify court documents which show that dozens of Iranians, including high-profile Iranian athletes face execution.

We also worked to verify video pleas like this one, from this 81-year- old mother of one of the detainees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): We don't know his whereabouts, no information about him nor do we even know where he is.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): This document from inside the Isfahan Regional Court shows that at least 10 people have been charged with Moharabe, war against God, spreading corruption on earth, and other charges, all which carry the possibility of the death penalty.

(on camera): Through obtaining and verifying court documents and witness testimony, we have evidence which supports a rushed-through judicial process. Defendants having court appointed counsel forced on them. Many

defendants having their right to appeal refused. Some defendants faced with charges which could carry the death sentence being handed down in a single sitting.

Terrified Iranian families believe that while the world is busy celebrating the holiday season, busy with their families, that they in Iran face imminent execution of their loved ones.

(voice-over): CNN has confirmed that Iranian footballer Amir Nasr- Azadani is among those facing execution.

Here he is training ahead of matchday. Now, he's on death row, waiting.

This is social media video from the night of his arrest. CNN made contact with someone close to Amir Nasr-Azadani inside Iran. We are not disclosing their identity.

They told us that in the days after his arrest, they were unable to get word from him or about him from authorities, even as the Iranian authorities denied his arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): It was one month and 19 days, I think maybe even perhaps longer since the security forces came and wanted to see Amir's home.

ELBAGIR: And despite being told he would be freed --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): They would tell us in the first few weeks that they will release Amir, and that Amir will be released by the end of the week.

ELBAGIR: Then came a charge of the crime of Moharabe, war against God, which Nasr-Azadani and nine other people have been accused of.

Relating to involvement in the killing of two Basij militia operatives, and one policeman during protests in late November, a charge they deny.

Now sources close to Nasr-Azadani says he and four others have had their charges upgraded by the Isfahan Court to Baghi, a charge punishable only by execution.

There's more. In the Regional Court of Khuzestan, west of Isfahan, CNN has confirmed with 1500Tasvir through court documents that 23 more people have been charged with the same crime, punishable by death.

We're redacting their names out of fears for their safety.

There is still more. In Karaj, CNN and 1500Tasvir have confirmed that at least five more Iranians are facing execution.

Including 21-year-old Iranian-Kurdish karate champion, Mohammad Mehdi Karami, whose parents have also gone public with their pleas.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Please, I beg you to please lift the execution order from my son's life.

ELBAGIR: In messages shared with CNN, his family say Karami was not only sentenced to death, but he's also been tortured in prison.

In another message shared with CNN, they said Karami was somehow in good spirits, but physically damaged having suffered torture on his head and body.

ELBAGIR (on camera): Including those whose families recorded public pleas for help, that brings the total of those verified by CNN as facing execution to at least 43.

And that's in addition to the two executed by Iran amid the excitement of the World Cup.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Just this week, 27-year-old Iranian-Kurdish rapper, Saman Yasin, attempted suicide whilst in detention, according to a source from the prison.

Yasin tried to end his life, sources say, with pills, after enjoying extreme psychological torture in the harsh prison conditions in Northern Iran.

As much of the world gets absorbed with their festivities, Iranian families have one message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Please save them. For the love of God, save my sons.

ELBAGIR: Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.


SCIUTTO: Those poor parents.

Great reporting there, Nima.

We'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: Our next report is about Grinches stealing Christmas one package at a time. It's called porch piracy and it's on the rise, up 15 percent this year.

Some states are trying to fight back by changing the law to make porch piracy a felony. Some people are taking action to kick these pirates in the booty.

More now from "360's" Randi Kaye.


JANIE SALADY (ph), PORCH PIRATE VICTIM: It's so selfish and disrespectful.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Janie Salady (ph), of Omaha, Nebraska, is one of millions of Americans who have had their holiday packages stolen from their front door.

SALADY (ph): We saw that the guy showed up with an empty box as a decoy, I guess, he tried to look like a delivery guy and hurried away with three other packages.

KAYE: Her neighbor's door camera caught the thief and the getaway driver in action.

Nearby, another neighbor's camera caught this person dressed in pink stealing holiday gifts from their porch, too.

Across the country, these so-called porch pirates are ruining family's holidays.

In Shreveport, Louisianan, this woman says her house was targeted twice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me feel violated. This is the first time, it's happened to me personally.

KAYE: In Fresno, California, this porch pirate, dressed in Christmas red, scaled bushes to grab gifts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were out working and for someone to come and take $250 worth of items from us is very irritating.

KAYE: South of there, in Bakersfield, a doorbell camera caught this woman stealing a family's gifts at 3:00 in the morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's you're house in the video and you just see somebody taking your property so, no, it's not a good feeling.

KAYE: According to Safe Wise, an online resource for safety and security, porch pirates have stolen at least 260 million packages in the last 12 months, mostly around the holiday season. The estimated value of the packages, nearly $20 billion.

Porch pirates can be pretty clever. Some have reportedly dressed as Amazon delivery drivers.

But police are getting smarter, too. In Campbell, California, police are putting GPS devices in so-called bait packages to track down the thieves.

And some homeowners are getting in on it as well, like Matt Coats from Portland, who along with his dog, Marlo, came up with a stinky surprise for the porch pirate in their neighborhood. MATT COATS, PORCH PIRATE VICTIM: I had something disappear off the

porch and it was frustrating so I figured it would probably happen again. So I filled up a box full of dog poop. Packed it full and left it on the porch.

KAYE: Three days later, the stinky box was gone. The thief was caught on camera, and in for quite a surprise.

COATS: Good boy. Good boy.


KAYE: And then there's Mark Rover (ph), the former NASCAR engineer who built a glitter bomb to detour thieves. When the packages are opened, glitter sprays everywhere.

But just when you thought the Grinch was going to ruin Christmas, some porch pirates had a change of heart. In Houston, after this 19-year- old woman and others allegedly pilfered the packages, they returned them. Their parents made them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't expect somebody to steal something from you and bring it back.

KAYE: It's never too late for a little Christmas cheer.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.


SCIUTTO: Wow. More than 200 million packages.


Coming up next, back to Buffalo for an update on the blizzard conditions there. They are harrowing.


SCIUTTO: It is not letting up out there. So before we go, a quick update from CNN's Polo Sandoval who has been right in the middle of it in Buffalo.

Polo, I know you've spoken to drivers making their way to the hotel where you are. Tell us the stories they're sharing with you.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There were two gentlemen driving a big, giant utility truck and it got stuck not far from here so they wondered in search of a warm meal.

It gives you an idea that nobody is safe in these conditions no matter how large or small your vehicle is. It's extremely dangerous.

And these are the conditions, Jim, that sadly are not going to let up throughout the night. Officials here on the ground are warning people out there, potentially over 250 individuals stranded in and around Buffalo, to stay in their vehicles, to turn their car on for heat purposes every 10 minutes or so and make sure the exhaust is clear. And flag down authorities if they can see them.

But really, they're safer inside of their vehicle stranded than they are in these conditions.

And if you're among the thousands of people stuck in the dark in and around Buffalo, authorities also with a message for you, you're safer in your cold, darked-out home than you are venturing out in these conditions.

So we're certainly going to continue to monitor the situation throughout the night as authorities on the ground are in for a long night and potentially many, many rescues of stranded motorists -- Jim?

SCIUTTO: No question. Those conditions are warning in themselves. Any improvement in the last hour?

SANDOVAL: Not at all. I have stood in many hurricanes and storms, and tonight, it seems like these two are coming together.

There was one storm chaser that calls this a snow-icane. It gives you a sense of what the situation will be like tonight.

SCIUTTO: All right. Snow-icane it is.

Polo Sandoval, please keep you and your team as warm as you can.


Coming up next, Taylor Swift's hit song "Shake It Off" rocketed up the charts when released in 2014. It also inspired legal action against her. Songwriters Sean Hall and Nathan Butler sued Swift in 2017 alleging the chorus is a direct lift from their song "Players Going to Play."