Return to Transcripts main page

At This Hour

Winter Storm Slams U.S. with Bitter Cold, Strong Winds, Heavy Snow; Jan. 6 Committee Sharing Evidence with Justice Dept. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. At This Hour, we are tracking this massive winter storm sweeping across the United States. It's impacting the vast majority of Americans today, just two days before Christmas. The storm is bringing blizzard conditions, I mean, I don't need to say it. You can see it. Blizzard conditions, ice, freezing rain, and very strong winds to cities coast to coast. Areas near the Great Lakes, like Buffalo, New York could see up to three feet of snow. However, the big story with this storm is really the cold, record breaking and life threatening. More than 200 million Americans are under wind chill alerts. The storm has knocked out power already to at least a million customers so far. And travel is starting to get back. More than 3,700 flights have been canceled today and more than 2,000 others have been delayed. That's not even to speak of what the roads are like right now. We're going to get to it. We have reporters stationed all across the country. Let's start with meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Allison, where are you most concerned right now?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I would say honestly, going forward, Kate, it's really going to be up and down the eastern seaboard. And part of that is because we're already starting to see those power outage numbers tick up very quickly. But for many of those places, they have yet to bottom out in terms of temperatures. So you really don't want to see those folks getting colder without power or access to heat, so that's going to be a big concern.

Even here in Atlanta, it's very cold by Atlanta standards. Current temperature is 18 degrees. This is a towel that has completely frozen over, rock solid. The concern here is it's not just towels that are freezing, but also spots along the roadways, making travel very dangerous. That's not just here, but elsewhere across the country because you have basically this polar vortex, this arctic mass of air that has really started to push down across the country.

And you can see there on that map again, showing where that air has really started to push back down across much of the country. It's also why you have so many people under these winter -- wind chill alerts across the country. Likely over half of the U.S. population is under one type of those alerts. Now the other thing too is it's the wind component to this. Not only is it making it bitter cold outside in terms of the wind chill, but it also means anywhere that it's snowing, it's taking that snow and blowing it around, reducing visibility even lower. In some cases, you're talking less than a quarter of a mile, also making travel even more hazardous than it already was.

Then, when we talk about the snow of where it's actually expected to be, most of the snow for today will be limited across portions of the Northeast as well as the Midwest, where we're still looking at some of that lake effect enhancement.

Now, most places likely still to pick up about an additional two to four inches of snow, but you will have some of those areas along the Great Lakes where you're talking one to three feet of additional snow. So again, the concern there, Kate, is not only do you have the snow making travel dangerous, you also have the cold air. So people are without power, again, those cold temperatures are bitter to deal with when you're outside, stay indoors if you possibly can. And don't forget to bring your pets inside.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. Allison, thanks so much.

Conditions, they're getting worse and fast in upstate New York. Allison was talking about it. A blizzard warning and a state of emergency are now in effect in and around Buffalo. Wind gusts today are expected to reach 70 miles per hour, the temperature 23 degrees and falling. Polo Sandoval is there for us. Filed this report moments ago on the new orders for people to stay off the roads.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate, good to be with you. You know, all you have to do is really look around here in Buffalo and you can see why officials in Erie County, New York, instituted a countywide travel ban. It's something that we're seeing throughout the region. That's because these wicked winter winds are whipping up all this snow. And the results are these whiteout conditions that are making travel in and around the area not only treacherous, but as officials have said time and time again leading up to the storm, life threatening. And that's why authorities are hoping that travel ban will mean that only essential traffic will be on these streets and on these highways.

Really, this is just the beginning of what we expect to be a very long day for folks here in western New York. And it's not just about the travel concerns, but a flooding concern as well. In fact, less than a month from where I'm standing is Lake Erie. And officials here have been really worried that the storm, as it turns out, over Lake Erie and continues to move east that are basically forces water closer to some of those lakefront communities. So there are some of those communities, including one about a 15-minute drive south of here where there is a mandatory evacuation in place.


So authorities are keeping a very close eye on those coastal communities. And then, of course, as the temperature continues to plummet throughout the day, these roads and these highways will be even more dangerous. Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Polo is going to be there all day. Polo, thank you so much. Now let's go to Denver, which saw temperatures plunge 47 degrees in 2 hours as the storm moved through the region there. Today, temperatures are going to rise but that's clearly relative. I mean, it's currently near zero degrees. Lucy Kafanov knows that all too well. She's live in Denver for us. Lucy. What is it like there now?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's not fun, Kate, especially when you're standing still. The worst of the storm is definitely over. You can see behind me, the sun is out. People are out and about. Unlike yesterday, this is normally a very busy street where businesses and, you know, office workers are milling around. They've plowed. We got about four inches of snow yesterday. So, yes, things are returning to normal, but it still feels painfully cold.

We are now approaching something like 39 consecutive hours, Kate, of subzero temperatures. And in terms of the wild swings in temperature that we saw from this arctic blast, Wednesday, a high of 50 degrees, it dropped down to a minus 24 yesterday. And of course, with the wind chill, it feels, like, a lot colder. They had opened warming centers, including this huge one at the Denver Coliseum, a 24-hour warming center. The demand was so high yesterday evening that the city was forced to open two more emergency centers.

But those are not going to be necessary. In just a couple of hours, we are expecting the temperatures to go up above zero and we might even be in for a 50-degree weather Christmas, which is great news for us. Not so much for you guys in the East Coast. I know that storm is heading your way. Kate?

BOLDUAN: The swings in temperature is just a really remarkable kind of element of this entire storm system that you're seeing. I mean, it's really amazing. Thanks for being there, Lucy. I really appreciate it. We'll talk to you later.

So wind chills this morning in Chicago reached as low as minus 40. They know cold of course and they know wind very well in Chicago, no question. But this is even brutal for the most seasoned and hardened Chicago resident. Joining me now is the executive director of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management, Richard Guidice. He's on the phone with us. Richard, thanks so much for jumping on. I really appreciate it. Wind chills remaining between 30 and 40 below zero throughout the day. It's pretty remarkable. And what does that mean for Chicago?

RICHARD GUIDICE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHICAGO OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Well, yes, it's cold, even for Chicago standards, but I think, you know, lifelong Chicago residents are used to extremes in Chicago, whatever season that we're going through. So, you know, we were expecting a lot more snow yesterday. Fortunately, we didn't get as much that was originally being forecasted for us, and we're certainly grateful because of that. But by no means should anybody spike the ball just yet. We still have a long way to go.

Obviously, like you said, temperatures will be in the teens. We have a Bears game tomorrow, so we will be expecting additional people on the roads. But, you know, we got in front of this one in the beginning. We really got the message out, thanks to our friends in the media and our PIOs within our respective agencies. And we're able to keep a lot of that traffic off the streets yesterday leading into today.

BOLDUAN: And there's some good news that people are heating warnings. What about the winds, Richard? When they pick up, what's that going to be -- what's that going to mean for people there?

GUIDICE: Well, it would have meant a lot more ahead, we gotten the snow that was originally forecasted. You know, we were expecting three to six. We ended up getting less than two inches of snow. And again, we're grateful for that. We don't want to mess with Mother Nature. But had we had gotten six inches of snow with those 50 miles an hour wind gusts, that would have caused significant situations for us that would have been challenging even for us here in Chicago.

You know, one thing we pay close attention to is Lakeshore Drive. Lakeshore Drive, obviously adjacent to the lake, we've experienced white out conditions up there during situations like this. So that was something we had circled and hit on our radar all day yesterday for the last, really for the last 48 hours.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. If people do need to drive, you might not be looking at the snow, thank goodness, but with these cold temperatures lasting for as long as they're going to, if people do need to drive, other than just obviously being careful, what should they consider before heading out, Richard?

GUIDICE: It's like I said earlier, you know, we can't spike the ball just yet. We're not out of this. We're going to have a cold weekend. We have a lot going on. Obviously, it's Christmas weekend, so people are trying to get out and get some last-minute gifts so just see if they are going to be on the road, make sure you have a full tank of gas, water in your car and snacks. Certainly we don't want anybody to get stranded, but if you do, we want to make sure you put yourself in the best possible situation.

And really, most importantly, stay in touch with people. Stay in contact. Look out for the vulnerable people out there that need some extra help.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Richard, you got a long Christmas ahead for you, so thanks so much. I really appreciate it.


GUIDICE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. The historic storm is also hammering Kansas City as well with subzero temperatures. Officials have opened up, as we heard, warming centers. And a lot of cities also opening up warming centers in Kansas City as wind chills hover near 30 degrees below zero. Let me bring in Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. Mayor Quinton Lucas. It's good to see you, Mayor. What a wild day and weekend you all are dealing with. What was it like overnight in Kansas City and what's it like there today?

MAYOR QUINTON LUCAS (D), KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI: Well, it is cold, and that to us is more of a challenge than anything right now. The snow and ice on the streets has been challenging. While we have 300 trucks out, the roads are still slippery. But the biggest thing is the challenge to families, those experiencing homelessness with the cold. We've opened up more warming centers, more opportunities, but it continues to be a tough time over these next few days here in Kansas City.

BOLDUAN: It seems like, from what I can see in the forecast as were checking it, that you guys are done with the snow, but the cold is really insane. I mean, is that what you're most concerned about?

LUCAS: Yes, you look at, frankly, the threat to human life right now that's existing. Yesterday we did have, unfortunately, a fatality relating to people who slid off roads into an embankment in Kansas City. That's going to be a risk. But beyond just the roads and the slickness is actually our homeless population. Every year in cold weather cities, tragically, we experience deaths. We experience serious injury relating to those who are out in the cold. Right now, both our emergency services, our police department and others are trying to make sure they're reaching out to folks and we're trying to open up every warming center possible.

We recognize that our shelters are not enough, and so getting folks to know where they can go, making sure that some of our homeless population are not sleeping outside is our biggest thing right now. And it's frankly tough to communicate in some ways when you have folks that maybe are used to being outside, but recognizing that this is a unique challenge right now with temperatures that are below zero here in Kansas City.

BOLDUAN: That's a great point. I mean, on the complete other end of the spectrum of things to be concerned about, the Chiefs are playing tomorrow at home. I know. I was checking on the schedule, and the wind chill at kickoff is expected to be in the single digits. I saw this, I mean it's a really funny and kind of sweet quote from Patrick Mahomes talk, they were asking him how he's going to change up his gear in order to protect him in this cold. And his quote was, Mayor, I'll throw that little neck warmer thing on that I always throw on. It doesn't look good, but it keeps my neck warm. Should Chiefs fans be concerned, Mayor, about this? I mean, do you think that's going to be enough for Mahomes?

LUCAS: I know the players will be ready, Patrick Mahomes is always is. And certainly we've played in a lot of cold weather games here in Kansas City. But I hope the fans are responsible. I say this is a guy who was a season ticket holder, who went to the coldest games around, but I just hope people, whether here in Kansas City or elsewhere this weekend, on Saturday, there are NFL games throughout the cold weather parts of our country, you know, be safe, be responsible, make sure that you are bundling up as much as possible. And, you know, while tailgating is a lot of fun, maybe curtail just of it, given just how cold it will be. Frostbite sneaks up on you. But certainly standing outside for eight hours watching football, tailgating, drinking is the thing that perhaps isn't the safest activity over the next few days.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Back to the heart of the issue, though, keeping track of your neighbors, your pets, the elderly, your friends, and those who are the most underserved communities is what we need to be doing right now in the face of all this. That's the big message today. Thank you, Mayor. Really appreciate it.

LUCAS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. We'll be in touch.


So this is also ahead for us, the January 6th Committee just released its full report, eleven recommendations, including that Donald Trump should never be allowed to hold office again. What else is revealed? That is next. But as we go to break, I want to show you some pictures out of Minneapolis, where it's currently minus seven right now, courtesy of KAR, our affiliate there, KRE. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: After more than a year of investigating the riot on the nation's capital, the January 6th Committee has finally released its full report of findings, 845 pages of detailed evidence and recommendations, including the suggestion that former President Trump should never be allowed to hold office again. Paula Reid and her team have been working through this report. She joins us now to talk through. Talk us through these recommendations that come through in this report, Paula, and the big takeaway from this years' long investigation now?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the big takeaway for the Committee is that the events of January 6th would not have happened if it were not former President Trump. Now, that is their final conclusion. And then they lay out all the evidence they've gathered over the past year and a half to really directly undercut his primary defense, which has always been that he was relying on advice from advisers and his attorneys.

Now, the report starts even before Election Day to argue that this false claim that there was election fraud, that this was premeditated. They point to an e-mail from a conservative group encouraging Trump to just declare victory no matter what the outcome of the election was. Then moving after Election Day, they present evidence showing that Trump and his associates made over 200 attempts to pressure state officials in states he lost, like Michigan, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia.


Now, they argued that the former president's false claims about the election fraud are what spurred many of his supporters to the Capitol, where violence broke out. And the report details what he was doing the former president was doing in the White House while the Capitol was under attack. They revealed that he watched it unfold on T.V. He did not make any calls for assistance, and even rejected pleas from his own staff to call off his supporters.

Committee says witnesses they've spoken with were appalled that while this violence was taking place, he was tweeting against his own vice president. And the former President Trump has responded to this report today, dismissing the investigation as a witch hunt, an attack he has, of course, levied against previous congressional and criminal investigations.

But the Committee also lays out several recommendations based on what they've found, including barring Trump from holding future office. Kate, they want to see the lawyers that participated in this held accountable. They want to see new legislation to protect the electoral count. And it'll be interesting to see going forward what else we learned from the Committee. Because, Kate, over the next few days and weeks, we are expecting more transcripts with likely more news.

BOLDUAN: That's exactly right. It's great to see you, Paula. Thank you.

Joining me now for more on this and her take on this huge report, a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer, just your reaction to this report, 11 recommendations to try to prevent an attack on the U.S. Capitol from happening again, and the fact that Paula lays out really well that the Committee is putting this squarely one person, Donald Trump.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's certainly a powerful report, Kate. The Committee did an incredible job collecting evidence and then laying it out in a way that people can understand. You know, it's not a prosecution memo. It doesn't go through which pieces of evidence apply to which elements of the crime. It doesn't deal with any negative evidence, inconsistent statement of witnesses, that thing. So it's not the analysis that prosecutors will now need to go through. But I think the Committee did a tremendous job. And the parts of their work that prosecutors won't do, things like legislative proposals and trying to get some sort of enforcement mechanism in place for the disqualification provision, those things are really, really important. So I don't want to lose sight of those. I mean, those were things that are uniquely Congress's to do. And so I was so glad to see them in the report.

BOLDUAN: I also heard you say this week, Jennifer, that you were impressed with what you called the restraint that the Committee has shown when it came to the criminal referrals. Tell me what you meant by that. And also, does that extend to this full report and the broader recommendations we see now?

RODGERS: It does. I mean, you know, listen, they could have gone all in. They could have said that Trump should be charged with seditious conspiracy. They could have said that he should be in charge with inciting an insurrection not just with aiding one. You know, they didn't do that. They really did tailor their recommendations to the evidence that they were able to collect. Now, again, DOJ is going to have to make their own assessment and DOJ will be able to collect additional evidence the committee couldn't get to. So we'll see what DOJ does. But, you know, I felt like it really demonstrated that the Committee was tying their recommendations to the evidence and not going overboard.

BOLDUAN: What do you think that the Justice Department special counsel now, Jack Smith, does with all of this?

RODGERS: Well, listen, it's going to take them time to get through it. You know, the one thing I will say is, impress as I've been by the Committee, I do wish they had turned the actual evidence, the transcripts over earlier. It's going to take Jack Smith and his team time to go through all of this, and that's some time wasted, frankly. I mean, DOJ leads investigations confidential. There was no reason to believe that they wouldn't do that here. So I do wish that they had gotten this stuff earlier, but they're now going to need to go through all of this because as much as was revealed publicly, you know, DOJ needs to look for things like are there defenses hidden in here? Are there inconsistent statements of witnesses? You know, what pitfalls do we have to look out for if we actually want to charge this thing? So they have a lot of work to do and unfortunately not a lot of time to do it in.

BOLDUAN: And Jennifer, there's the immediate impact of this report, but also the historical impact, which is no small thing. I mean, I've heard people compare this report to that of the 911 Commission's report, you know, a firm record of a major historic moment of an event in U.S. history. Do you see that?

RODGERS: Oh, I do for sure. I mean, it really tells a powerful story. I don't want to say story in the sense that it's made up, but the narrative that this report provides, it's readable. You know, it's not full of legalese. It's just chock full of information details. And some of these threads that go through, like the barriers that Trump and his enablers threw up, you know, the witnesses who refused to testify, who came in and led to fifth for things like, you know, their age, the witness who couldn't recall where he was on January 6th.


I mean, you know, it just becomes so obvious when you read this thing there was a concerted effort not only to overturn the election, but to then try to obstruct an investigation into it. I think that comes through loud and clear, and that's really important for us going forward in terms of understanding what happened and, of course, trying to make sure it never happens again.

BOLDUAN: And, of course, we don't fully know the scope and scale of the changes that could result from this year and a half of work and scrutiny by this Committee. But already we have seen the change to the Electoral Count Act that we just passed in the omnibus. We know that law enforcement, the FBI especially, are taking the threat of white nationalist extremism much more seriously. Do you see hope here?

RODGERS: I do. I think those are very good things. You know, I think the enforcement mechanism for the disqualification provision is important. The one area that I wish they had been able to do more on is what happened with the Secret Service. You know, some of these intelligence failures, there was some behavior by the Secret Service that was incredibly troubling. And, you know, that's something that DOJ really can't do. That's not their job. That's Congress's job. And so, you know, I do wish, and I'm not saying it's the Committee's fault, but that they had been able to get to the bottom of what happened at the Secret Service because, you know, we need the Secret Service. It's an incredibly important agency. And there were really some problems there.

So that's the one thing I wish had been done in more depth. But there's some incredibly important work here. The Electoral College Act and the Insurrection Act may be amended, and the rest of it is going to help us going forward, for sure.

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

So this major -- a major holiday travel mess is playing out before us because of this winter storm. Thousands of flights already delayed or canceled. Up next, CNN's Ivan Rodriguez has an update from one of the country's busiest airports. As we head to break, here's some live pictures from near Seattle International Airport, where just one runway is operating right now due to the ice and heavy wind conditions. We'll be right back.