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At This Hour

Snow & Ice Alerts In Effect For 25 States, More Than 90M People; Sources: Trump Ethics Lawyer Urged WH Aide To Mislead 1/6 Committee; FTX Founder Appears In Court, Consents To Extradition To U.S. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired December 21, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: 90 million people in the United States are facing winter weather alerts right now all because of what's called a bomb cyclone that will be impacting nearly every state from coast to coast. That's next.


BOLDUAN: A massive storm system is heading for millions of Americans on this first official day of winter. More than 90 million people across the -- across the country are now under winter weather alerts as the storm system known as a bomb cyclone is set to deliver snow, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures for the holidays. Jennifer Gray is tracking all of this for us. She joins us now. Jennifer, what is a bomb cyclone?


JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's simply put, it's just a rapidly intensifying storm. For a storm to be characterized as a bomb cyclone, it has to drop 24 millibars in 24 hours. And millibars are basically a unit of measurement to define atmospheric pressure.

So, this one is going to bomb out as we say over the Great Lakes. That's where it's going to be its strongest. We see this a lot of times with nor'easters off offshore. We'll see them turn into bomb cyclones. This one is well inland as we know and it is going to intensify rapidly as we know that it's going to be a bomb cyclone eventually.

So, over the Midwest, this is going to be the hardest hit area, we could see a foot of snow. We'll see blizzard conditions across portions of western Minnesota. Those blizzard-like conditions could extend into Chicago. Even though they're not going to get that much snow, the conditions there will be blizzard-like. We're also going to see 12 to 18 inches of snow across portions of Michigan. So, this is going to be a big one.

It's going to disrupt travel, especially. Tomorrow is going to be the worst day through Chicago. We'll see a ripple effect across the eastern seaboard across the big cities on the I 95 Corridor, heavy rain and then there's the disruption from the Midwest flight cancellations will also impact the East Coast. Wind chill forecasts 50 below zero in Casper, Des Moines 30 below zero.

This is going to be a trend extending all the way to the south where we could see more than 80 hours below freezing. So, if you are -- you are missing out on the snow, you're definitely not going to miss out on the cold. This is going to be a historic, historic event, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Jennifer, thank you. And the timing all of this clearly does not help days from Christmas when so many people are traveling or trying to travel. More than 100 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home for the holidays.

Omar Jimenez is in Chicago. He's keeping an eye on that travel. You're at O'Hare Airport, Omar, how's it look in there?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's looking OK right now, though we are starting to see some delays pile up based on FlightAware data more delays here than any other airport in the country over 50 at this point, which of course doesn't just affect here. This is one of the world's busiest airports. It ripples out to places all across the country. And, of course, we're receiving some of those ripples as well.

And all of this is before the most significant winter weather is expected to hit here which again is forecast to come a little bit later tomorrow afternoon. That said, people are already changing their plans to try and get out ahead of those conditions. They don't want to risk it at all. And not everyone but a lot of people we've spoken to today have told us they did just that. Take a listen.


MADHU RAMACHANBRAN, CHICAGO TRAVELER: We were actually supposed to fly out to Orlando tomorrow looking for the son of an enrolled -- agent he called up and said you're probably better off to leave early because the predicted snowstorm and cold temperatures in the next few days so we just booked on a seven o'clock flight. It has been a very early start but so be it.


JIMENEZ: And while we are expected to get snow here, it's really that in combination with wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour, temperature wind chill dropping to around negative 30 degrees. It's a combination of all three that officials here are worried will create blizzard-like whiteout conditions, which of course, affects flights, but for the majority of people who are driving, will make the roads very difficult.

BOLDUAN: Yes, the ripple effects going just everywhere. Thank you, Omar. It's good to see you.


BOLDUAN: I want to go now to Texas where the Department of Homeland Security is now confirming that its agents have moved more than 9000 migrants from El Paso, Texas in the last week. And this is just as the Biden administration is now asking the Supreme Court to keep Title 42 in place until next Tuesday, so it can better prepare for the expected new influx of migrants heading towards the border. Title 42 is that pandemic-era policy allowing officials to more quickly turn migrants away at the border.

There's also another big moment that we are watching for right now. The January 6 committee's release of its final report on the Capitol insurrection, and new reporting from CNN that a key witness was pushed to give misleading testimony.



BOLDUAN: Today, the January 6 committee will release its final report on the Capitol insurrection. There's still -- there's also a new allegation. CNN exclusively learning the committee says a former top ethics attorney in the Trump White House urged star witness Cassidy Hutchinson to mislead the committee.

CNN's Sara Murray has this for us. She joins us now. Sara, there's now some back and forth on this one. What are you learning?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, we are obviously waiting for the full committee's report, the full details on this. But we heard previously from the committee in their hearing and in their executive summary that there was a lawyer. We're now learning that lawyer was Stefan Passantino, who was a top White House Ethics lawyer who urged Cassidy Hutchinson, this bombshell witness to essentially mislead the committee, you know, to say that she didn't recall things that she actually did recall. She ended up dropping him as a lawyer. She got new counsel. She appeared, of course, in a public hearing where she gave bombshell testimony that really resonated for the committee.

Now, as my team was reporting this out, we did get a statement from Stefan Passantino to CNN. In part of that statement he said, I represented Miss Hutchinson honorably, ethically, and fully consistent with her sole interest as she communicated them to me. I believed Miss Hutchinson was being truthful and cooperated with the committee throughout the several interview sessions in which I represented her.


But, of course, you know, we've seen the committee allude multiple times to concerns about obstruction of their investigation, potential witness tampering, we're going to be looking for more evidence of that in the report and the transcripts, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Sara, thank you so much for that. I really appreciate it. We'll be keeping an eye out for that report to come out.

We're also witnessing though another blow to the women of Afghanistan. The Taliban just announcing that it is now banning all women from attending universities, effective immediately. A video this morning shows small groups of students protesting or at least trying to protest this crackdown. The U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan women slamming this move saying that the Taliban are "reverting to extreme policies of the 90s." To say the least.

Nada Bashir has the very latest on this. She's joining us now. Nada, this is horrible news.

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Yes, absolutely, Kate. This is a huge blow to women's rights in Afghanistan. And may not have come as a total surprise, considering the rollbacks we've seen in the rights and freedoms of women over the last few months, but certainly a huge blow and a moment of devastation, really, for the women and girls hoping to pursue higher education in Afghanistan. It's been just a few months since we saw women taking their entrance exams for those University places, and certainly a major shock for them.

But of course, we have seen those rights being rolled back just in March of this year. We saw girls being told that they wouldn't be able to return to secondary education and in universities. We've seen classes being segregated. Women being told that they shouldn't be taught by young male professors.

And so clearly, the Taliban is taking a harsher approach and tougher restrictions when it comes to education and in general, when it comes to his fundamental rights and freedoms in Afghanistan. And this has drawn widespread condemnation from the international community, not least from the U.S. government. We heard yesterday from the State Department showing their condemnation of this latest edict. We heard yesterday as well from the State Department spokesperson, Ned Price. Take a listen.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: The Taliban have permanently sentenced Afghan women to a darker and more barren future without opportunity. No country can thrive when half of its population is arbitrarily held back. Education is an internationally recognized human right. And it is essential to Afghanistan's economic growth and its stability.


BASHIR: And look, Kate, the concern now is as the Taliban grows ever more isolated from the international community, this could allow the Taliban government to continue to roll back those rights and freedoms. And we may see tougher restrictions not only on the rights of women and girls but also on the Afghan population in general, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They wanted -- they don't want to be a pariah. They're becoming a pariah so then they crack down more. Does not have good signs for the road ahead. Nada, thank you so much.

So, consumer confidence numbers just out, also new numbers on existing home sales. What this all is signaling about the U.S. economy and where it stands right now. That's next.



BOLDUAN: Four days to Christmas, and maybe, just maybe some holiday cheer coming for the U.S. economy. Let's get over to Matt Egan who has the latest for us. So, consumer confidence, Matt, growing?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Kate. You know, we got a positive surprise this morning. We learned that consumer confidence unexpectedly popped in December to an eight-month high. This news went over very well here on Wall Street where we saw the stock market move up sharply higher on these numbers.

And when you dig into the report, there's a lot to like here. I mean consumers, they marked up their expectations of the current economy. They also mark down their expectations of inflation. More people are planning to book a vacation.

No surprise that this rebound in consumer confidence is happening at a time when gas prices have plunged to 17-month lows. That, of course, is a huge confidence booster. One thing to watch out for, though, is that the outlook for consumers going ahead for the next few months in the economy, that has improved but it does remain near recession territory.

Now, one part of the economy that is still really hurting right now is the housing market. And that, of course, is because of the spike in mortgage rates. And we learned today that existing home sales dropped sharply in November to the weakest pace since the spring of 2020. Which is pretty incredible because that's when the real estate market was basically brought to a standstill by COVID.

But, Kate, if there is a silver lining here for home buyers, it's that home prices continue to cool off. It does increasingly feel like this housing market has shifted from a buyer's market -- from a seller's market to a buyers' market. And that, of course, is a welcome shift for homebuyers.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Matt. Thank you.

We also have this just in I want to get to before we go. The disgraced founder of cryptocurrency company FTX has agreed to be extradited to the United States. A lawyer for Sam Bankman-Fried made that announcement in a courtroom in the Bahamas earlier this hour. But there's -- this thing's a mess.

Let's get over to Kara Scannell. She joins me now. We need some clarity on this because this has gone from messy to confusing and now may be too clear as mud. You tell me.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, maybe this is the third time's the charm, right? I mean this began on Monday when Bankman- Fried first showed up in the court. We thought then he was going to be extradited and there was some wrinkles there as the local attorney was unsure but now, he's back in court today. Our colleague Patrick Oppmann is in there. He tells us that Bankman- Fried through his attorney has said that he has waived his fight against extradition, he's agreed to be extradited to the U.S. to face these eight-count indictments here in New York. So, what will happen now is he will, before anything possibly any other wrinkles arise, they're going to try to get him on a plane and get him back to New York.


And so, it's possible he will appear later this afternoon in a -- in the federal courthouse downtown in lower Manhattan and go before a judge. Now, this will all depend on timing and how quickly he gets in the air. You know, once he lands, he'll have to be processed, since this is the first time he will be in the U.S. to face these charges.

And then he'll appear before the judge as possible. He will be asked to enter a plea and then bail. And so, sources tell me that his lawyers have been working with federal prosecutors to work out some kind of bail where he will be released and not held into custody.

BOLDUAN: All right, stay close. Let's see what happens. It's good to see you.

Thanks so much for watching, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after this.