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The Lead with Jake Tapper

"Bomb Cyclone" Wreaks Havoc on Travel Two Days Before Christmas; January 6 Committee: Trump Should Be Barred from Holding Office Again; Zelenskyy Back in Ukraine As U.S. Congress Passes $45B In New Aid. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Temperatures are below freezing for more than half in the United States and more than a million currently do not have power.

THE LEAD starts right now.

And historic and sadly deadly winter storm. Hundreds of thousands without power, more than 4,000 flights canceled. Winds so treacherous the airport in Buffalo, New York, had to shut down.

CNN is live with the havoc being wreaked nationwide.

And the January 6th Committee out with its final report, spelling out why Donald Trump, in their view, was the one solely responsible for the riot and should be disqualified from holding office ever again. A member of the committee will join us coming up.

Plus, new transcripts from the committee. Why star witness Cassidy Hutchinson later said she was disappointed and disgusted with her first round of testimony under oath.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start with the national lead and this nightmare weather scenario before Christmas crippling conditions stretching coast to coast with snow and ice in cities such as Seattle and Portland, Oregon, to the massive bomb cyclone system moving east. Nearly 180 million in the U.S. are in areas with temperatures below freezing, 70 million are in areas below zero. This system is so powerful meteorologists say its atmospheric pressure is equivalent to a category 2 hurricane, which means forceful wind gusts and coastal flooding.

Along the Great Lakes today, the mayor of Buffalo, New York, banned all driving. This is what it looked like around 8:30 this morning in Buffalo. Two hours later the same neighborhoods and roads surrounding it covered in snow.

The system has, sadly, also been deadly. The weather is to blame for at least four deaths in Kansas and Kentucky that we know about as of now. Three were involved in car crashes. Police say a man in Louisville, Kentucky, died after being exposed to the elements.

From Denver to Atlanta to Chicago and beyond, CNN is covering this weather disaster coast to coast. CNN's Omar Jimenez starts us off with the havoc on the day before Christmas Eve.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From record snowfall in the Midwest to dangerous road conditions in the Deep South, now more than half of the country is under massive winter storm and wind chill alerts. A blizzard whips through Buffalo. Storms ravaged Rhode Island. Wichita experiencing a whiteout.

GREG CARBIN, CHIEF, FORECAST OPERATIONS BRANCH, NOAA WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER: It's really hard to find where the worst weather is. It's just about everywhere from coast to coast.

JIMENEZ: The extreme weather blamed on what's being called a bomb cyclone across nearly every state from the rocky mountains to the south. Some temperatures freefalling, a record 30 to 47 degrees within a matter of hours on Thursday. In Denver, Colorado, below zero temperatures prompted a wind-chill warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's still not safe for people to be outdoors.

JIMENEZ: Even Texas is experiencing a deep freeze and as arctic temperatures hit near the U.S. border with Mexico, many migrants are now facing the harsh elements without shelter. Almost 1.5 million Americans are now braving the cold without power. Some now stocking up to ride out the storm. The dangerous combination of ice and wind creating extreme road hazards and major disruption to holiday travel.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We all want to get to our loved ones for the holidays but please, please pay close attention to what local authorities are saying. And if they're saying it's not safe to drive, it's not safe to drive.

JIMENEZ: And at many airports, transportation authorities are saying it may not be safe to fly either. More than 7,000 flights have been canceled today.

MARY HALEY, AUSTIN, TEXAS: It's been changing by the minute.

ANTHONY SCHURZ, AUSTIN, TEXAS: It's going to be a long trip and now it's just part of the adventure to get there.

JIMENEZ: Snow disrupting travel in Seattle and creating a domino effect around the country.

The frigid temperatures are expected to last throughout the holiday weekend, breaking 40-year records in the Midwest and the Plains. For millions of Americans, this may be the coldest Christmas they have ever experienced.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JIMENEZ: And here at O'Hare Airport, this is one of the world's busiest. We've seen hundreds of delays alone tied into the more than 4,700 delays we've seen across the country.

Over in Buffalo, you touched on it a little bit, Jake, before coming to me, that airport has canceled all flights for this evening.


Over there, they are potentially going to see wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour as part of what's being forecasted over there. That's hurricane-force winds, the threshold 74 miles per hour. You can see the danger there, on top of the massive amounts of snow they are clearly getting and very little visibility that we have seen there over the course of today. All of it unfolding just two days before Christmas -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Omar Jimenez, thank you so much.

In Georgia, the story has been trying to keep the electricity going. Cities not used to this kind of deep freeze have been dealing with power outages.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in Atlanta.

Derek, the coldest air from the system is yet to come for the area where you are.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. And the problem with that, Jake, is that there are going to be multiple cities from Birmingham to Jackson to Atlanta that will be below freezing for more than 48 hours. If you lose electricity, of course, that means you can't heat your home in many instances and you got the potential for bursting pipes.

Get to my graphics because I want you to see how cold it dropped in Atlanta in a matter of eight hours. It dropped 35 degrees. Just an incredible, incredible temperature drop with this emperor from the north that moved in, the cold arctic blast. You can see the seven-day forecast.

We stay below freezing through Christmas. We are on the verge of the coldest Christmas Eve ever here in Atlanta, 1.2 million customers without power because of this arctic outbreak across the eastern U.S. Just incredible.

Look at Memphis, 13 degrees there. The wind chill that's what it feels like on your exposed skin, negative 2. The electrical company and mayor urging residents to please, please turn off unnecessary appliances and conserve electricity because the grid is being overworked with this outbreak that has moved through.

This is the location of the cold front moving across the East Coast. Boston you're in rain right now but the front will move through and you will get a wallop of snow and then it comes to an end, maybe the skies go clear. If you get sunshine tomorrow, it will be completely deceiving. I want to take you to Buffalo, because this is ground zero from the

heaviest snow from the storm system, up to 3 feet downwind from Lake Erie, as well as Lake Ontario. This is where we'll see the snow measured in feet going forward.

The winds, we cannot talk about this weather forecast without what is happening with the winds, gusting near category 1 hurricane strength. That is incredible. That's why there's wind alerts, wind warnings in place all along the eastern seaboard.

Those aren't typos, Jake. We're expecting gusts in Buffalo, where our Polo Sandoval is, upwards of 70 miles an hour.

TAPPER: Unbelievable. Derek Van Dam, thanks so much. Stay warm.

In Denver, the city opened more warming centers because of the chill. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is in Denver with the slight warm-up there.

Lucy, temperatures went from the negative 20s to at least the teens, but it's still dangerously cold where you are even for a city like Denver.

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. I'm regretting my decision to leave my gloves in the car. It's still pretty cold here. You can see behind me things are slowly returning back to normal. People are out in the street again. There's a much braver gentleman without a warm coat behind me.

The snow has largely been plowed. The snowing has stopped. The wind chill still making things painful but we are now actually anticipating a Christmas warm up after this brutal cold front. We do still expect a wind chill advisory tonight for the far northeastern plains, but again, the worst is very much over.

Thursday bitter temperatures nearly set the record for the coldest day in Denver's history since records were kept. It was a dramatic 75 degree temperature swing from a high of 50 degrees on Wednesday when I was out in the streets to minus 24 on Thursday morning.

The windchill making us feel even more painful and dangerous. Frost bite an actual concern. That has lessened somewhat. You mentioned the warming centers that have been open. We had the Denver coliseum, the massive facility open, a 24-hour warming center but there was so much demand yesterday evening the city opened up two more facilities to deal with the overflow and the decision has been made to keep them open through tonight into Saturday, one more night, to give people a warm place to stay.

Again, the worst is largely over. We are still seeing some consequences from the travel delays. There were 600 flights canceled on Thursday, 300 canceled out of Denver this morning, but people are slowly being able to make their travel plans.

Again, a warm up for Christmas. We could be seeing a high of 54 degrees. I know that's cold comfort for your neck of the woods as the arctic front pummels the East Coast -- Jake. TAPPER: That's right. Lucy, go get your gloves. Thanks so much.

The other big story this hour, the final report from the January 6th committee and the stunning details not to be buried over the holidays, and the brand new witness transcripts coming with it.


Plus, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is back in Ukraine. What he's telling his country today after his bold and daring trip to the U.S.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: Turning to our politics lead. After wrapping up its year and a half long investigation, the House committee probing the deadly January 6th Capitol attack has leased its final report and it could be not more direct in laying out whom they believe is to blame for the assault on American democracy, quote: The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him, unquote.

That conclusion leading the committee to recommend that Trump never be allowed to hold political office ever again. The 845-page report is based on 1,000 interviews, e-mails, text, phone records which lay out the efforts Trump and his inner circle went through in their plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

And as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports for us now, the reports reveal there were at least 200 attempts from Trump and his allies to pressure state officials to change election results in several key states based on delusional election lies.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: And we fight, we fight like hell.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th Committee leaving no doubt that former President Donald Trump was the one singularly responsible for the attacks 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's 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: 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: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state.

SCHNEIDER: 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 the 23-minute 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: This leading the committee to recommend an overhaul of the 1887 Electoral Count Act that's close to becoming a reality as the House and Senate have each passed their own reform bills. Back in 2020, Trump did not agree with every outlandish theory his team presented.

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

SCHNEIDER: 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 speaker phone 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 had he won the 2020 election.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): Of course, now, the committee's work is officially wrapped up but we will see more in the coming days. The committee says it plans to release even more transcripts from some of their 1,000 plus witness interviews and, Jake, then we could see things ramp up with the criminal investigations.

We got the one, Fulton County, Georgia, the D.A. there has really been ramping up her probe into election interference and then the special counsel about one month in has issued a flurry of subpoenas in recent days.

TAPPER: All right. Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. Trump is already lashing out at the committee and Democrats on his

Truth Social platform, calling the bipartisan panel that interviewed mostly Republican officials, quote, highly partisan and repeating his unfounded and baseless fraud claims about the 2020 election.

CNN's Kristen Holmes following all of that for us.

Kristen, is Donald Trump taking this serious at all or the people around him?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is taking this seriously and they are as well. I do want to note that just about two minutes ago, Trump put out a video response to the January 6th committee report. It was very similar to that social media post, but he went on to talk about how the events were not an insurrection on January 6th. They were a protest that got out of control, something we've heard before, but again, after the report release it is important to say he believes it is a protest that got out of control.

And he talks about no one is talking about why this happened, the corrupt election. Once again, we don't have any proof, it has never been proven, there was any evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Clearly holding on to a lot of those old grievances and once again, falsely blaming Nancy Pelosi for the events on the Capitol, which the report clearly laid out was not the case involving the National Guard. He is responding now in a video as well.

Now when we talk about whether or not they are concerned, they are. But it might not be for the reason that one would think. When I'm talking to all of the people around Trump, they were told by their legal team that everything coming out of this House committee was largely symbolic, that there were no real legal ramification, but what they are concerned about is how this is going to impact the Department of Justice investigation that we just heard Jessica talking about.


Is there a potential that this report caused a -- raise an interest in by the Department of Justice in more crimes? Is there more information here than was previously known by the department of justice? What kind of doors will this open?

I will say about two weeks ago, I had lengthy conversations with a number of people who have been involved in the legal team and around the legal team advising him who said they were just starting to feel like they had a grip on how that investigation is going.

They do not feel like that today. They do not feel like that last night. There is a lot of questions, a lot of unknowns as to how this will affect Trump and those around him.

TAPPER: All right. The report names several Trump allies and outlines the roles that they played in this scheme to overturn democracy, overturn the election. Are any of those allies commenting?

HOLMES: Right now, most of the people who are actually named in the report are not commenting. Here's what I found to be really interesting. In the last 24 hours, I have heard from probably a dozen people who are still in Trump's orbit, some of them reaching out to me, and what the concern is, is not just the report, but it's actually the transcript. What they are starting to see is names popping up in those transcripts, people who never knew their names came up in this committee, people wondering if this means that they then are going to have to go to the Department of Justice. What does that mean for them?

There is a lot of fear out there about the seriousness of the special counsel investigation and now people are learning that their names are coming up in this -- in the committee, in these transcripts and that is what I'm hearing from them. They are terrified. People are calling me, denying events, telling me this didn't happen. Of course, none of them are wanting to say it on the record. They want to put it out it's not true. We'll wait and see if that changes and how this really impacts the Department of Justice investigation.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

Let's bring in January 6 Committee member and Democrat from California, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

Besides barring Trump from office, your report has ten other recommendations, including reforming the Electoral Count Act, which was passed as are part of the spending bill, other recommendations you call on Congress to act or amend laws. I guess my question is, isn't it too late for that to happen, considering the new Republican controlled house gets sworn in, in 11 days?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, we hope not. I would hope that anybody who takes an oath to the Constitution would be interested in pursuing remedies that would make the country safer. We're certainly disappointed that many of our Republican colleagues are still living in kind of a dream world, but I do think the Senate can press this and if we come up with something that's solid and bipartisan in the Senate, there's no reason to think we can't get something done in the House as well. We just did what the Electoral Count as you know.

TAPPER: Yeah, you did because Nancy Pelosi is in charge of the House right now. But Kevin McCarthy will, in all likelihood, be in charge in the house in a week and a half, and he voted to disenfranchise all of the people of Pennsylvania and Arizona based on those election lies, after people died in the insurrection.

LOFGREN: Yep. You're right. It was inexcusable. I just -- I guess I suffer from a persistent optimism, especially around the holidays.

TAPPER: I don't have that affliction.

The report also makes clear that Trump knew his plan was illegal. He knew his ultimate aim was obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, and he knew he needed a crowd to do his bidding. Do you think that conclusion should be the ultimate legacy of the committee?

LOFGREN: Well, I think the entire recommendations speak to it. Clearly, he assembled this mob, he weaponized these extremists. They were armed, and he sent them off to prevent his loss, to stop the electoral count from happening.

You know, there were multiple efforts to overturn the election as the committee has shown in our report, and by the way, chairman just let us know that we are assembling all of the footnotes, we didn't print all of those yet so that will be coming in the coming days, and there's a lot of interesting information there.

So, you know, we've assembled this information, we think it's pretty clear what he did was illegal, it was un-American, and he is unfit to hold office in the future.

TAPPER: There are a lot of what ifs in the report, one that caught my attention was from the commander of the D.C. National Guard who told your committee, that he, quote, strongly considered deploying troops to the Capitol without approval from his supervisors.

Do you think the National Guard, the U.S. Capitol Police and federal law enforcement agencies learned at all from what happened January 6th, 2021, or does there remain a lot of work to do?


LOFGREN: I think there were some big lessons learned there. As you know, the procedures have been changed for calling the guard, the chief of police is now empowered to do that at the Capitol police.

We do need to streamline, I think, how the Guard is deployed in the District of Columbia. That has not yet been accomplished, but it is something that should grab our attention. We didn't find that there was malicious intent, but certainly it was not -- there was a lack of confidence, I think, at the Pentagon, miscommunications, people not understanding that the National Guard was ready to deploy. They had the plans all in place, and the secretary of the army was trying to come up with a plan that, you know, the people in charge already had done.

So, that was really a mess, and had the Guard showed up earlier, you know, it's possible there would have been less injuries, but certainly it doesn't excuse what the ex-president did. He tried to overturn a lawful election.

TAPPER: In the next Congress, you will, in all likelihood, need to work with in order to achieve anything because you will be in the minority, work with people who either denied the election, voted against counting votes, voted against electoral votes, signed on to that crazy lawsuit from the Texas attorney general full of lies, or even individuals who defied their subpoenas, who refused to comply with congressional subpoenas.

How are you going to do that?

LOFGREN: I'll be honest, Jake, it's hard. You know, I hear some of these guys talking about, you know, the rule of law and I think to myself, you voted to overturn the constitution, how can you even be saying this? But, you know, I'm elected to go back and get something done for my

constituents and for the country, and I intend to try to do that, even though many of these Republican members really have engaged in disgraceful and un-American activity.

TAPPER: January 6th Committee member and Democrat from California, Zoe Lofgren, merry Christmas to you, Congresswoman, thank you for joining us and hope to see you more in the new year.

LOFGREN: Hope so. Merry Christmas.

TAPPER: The final report by the January 6th Select Committee is now a record for generations to come. We're going to talk with one of the nation's most prominent historians about the lessons to be learned.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back in the politics lead on this remarkable time in American history. The final report from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection clearly laying blame for the attack firmly on Donald Trump, recommending he should never be allowed to hold office again.

Let's discuss with presidential historian Douglas Brinkley who is the author of the new book, "Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Great Environmental Awakening."

Thanks so much for joining us, Doug. Good to see you.

So, Trump is the very first former president to have a congressional committee refer them to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, and now this official recommendation from this bipartisan committee that he be permanently banned from ever holding political office again.

How extraordinary is this?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It's stunning, Jake. You and I didn't grow up thinking this would be possible in the United States, a sitting president trying to throw a coup against our government.

The January 6th Commission are really the stars in my mind of 2022. They stuck with it and they produced the data and the evidence they needed to. They built their case in a methodical way. They unspooled in on the public in a smart way.

Here we are at the holiday season and this report comes out and to read it is to have your eyeballs pop out because Donald Trump is guilty as all hell, there's no question about it, and in my mind, you cannot have somebody be a sitting U.S. president who already tried to throw a coup d'etat over your country. That would be like letting Benedict Arnold run George Washington's troops during the American Revolution.

TAPPER: You know, it's interesting, so often during this Trump era, I think about -- I'm, you know, I'm a history buff, not an esteemed historian, but I think a lot about how will history remember people and this era, and it just seems like some of these individuals that are enablers of Trump, just don't even remotely think that way in terms of how is this going to look in 10 or 20 years?

BRINKLEY: Yeah, because they have no soul and don't have a deep love for the country. They put self-interest or political power ahead of themselves. I mean, the story of Rudy Giuliani alone will be talked about for ages.

It's important to realize that while Donald Trump is not really part of the presidents club. He's an outlier. In that way he will be remembered, he's going to have his fans, but it's more like Dillinger and Al Capone and Billy the Kid or something.


There will be a folk cause around him, but he's an outlaw and somebody in the end will be seen as an enemy of the U.S. Constitution. It might sell you some t-shirts in Gatlinburg and Tombstone, Arizona, and might keep Trump's image alive and well. But in the real game of history, which is serious, in years to come, Trump and all of his enablers are going to be seen on the hill of U.S. political, you know, history.

TAPPER: Let's talk about your book, because on Monday more than 190 countries signed on to a U.N. agreement to protect the environment. You write about bipartisan legislation the U.S. previously passed on the environment. You know, a lot of people might not know that Richard Nixon was the president when the EPA was created.

Why has it been so hard to achieve this type of bipartisan recognition of the importance of environmentalism in recent years, do you think?

BRINKLEY: Well, you know, Jake, the reason is because, you know, I write about John F. Kennedy, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson and Richard Nixon and doing all of these extraordinary new laws and, you know, things like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Acts, Endangered Species Act of 1973, passed the Senate 92-0, but we had a movement. It was the people demanding it.

I write about the first Earth Day in 1970, and it was musicians like Marvin Gaye writing "Mercy Me", the ecology and Andy Warhol did a series of endangered species. The great painter Robert Rosenberg did the poster and grassroots organization were saying we want clean air. We want the lead out of gasoline. We want no more smog causing respiratory illness in Los Angeles and New York. We want the Great Lakes clean that we can catch fish there again. We don't want rivers like the Cuyahoga of Ohio or Michigan on fire.

It was the people demanding it. Until the public talks about climate change as being the issue, we had a midterm election and it's ranked number five or something, until we're demanding it of our public servants, we're going to be in these kind of weird climate events one after the other, wondering what to do and kicking the can down the road.

The hero, Jake, right now in my mind is California, under Gavin Newsom and others, by 2035, they're not going to be selling, you know, vehicles that are run on fossil fuels and our post office is starting to go to electric vehicles.

So the movement is there, but we've got to have a Rachel Carson like figure, somebody who leads us into the promise land of a cleaner and safer, healthier tomorrow and make sure we don't have species vanishing willy-nilly on our life watch.

TAPPER: Douglas Brinkley, author of the brand new book "Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carlson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening", thank you so much for joining us. Merry Christmas to you, sir, and looking forward to having you on in the New Year.

Coming up next, what seems to be Putin's slip of the tongue. Plus, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy back in Ukraine, his rallying cry to his country as he nears almost a full year under siege from Russian invaders.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead -- in Russia, it's illegal for anyone to publicly call the brutal invasion of Ukraine a war, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But last night, Russian President Vladimir Putin did just that and believe it was a slip up, as Russia's relentless war barrels towards the one year mark.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Kyiv, Ukraine where Volodymyr Zelenskyy just got back from his trip to D.C. with some good news. The U.S. Congress just passed a massive spending bill that included $45 billion in new aid for Ukraine.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Apparently, no time for jet lag for Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As you can hear, the phones are working, he says, just back from his whirlwind Washington trip.

Zelenskyy told ambassadors in Kyiv, the Biden White House is working on a whopping $45 billion aid package. He says the real work for Ukraine is just beginning.

We must sleep less than the enemy, think more than the enemy, risk more effectively than the enemy, and communicate with the world better, he says.

The Kremlin's PR machine launching its own propaganda blitz after publicly calling the ten-month-old conflict a war for the first time Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the world to see his war machine firing on all cylinders.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in western Russia, visiting a Kalashnikov production factory.

On the front line, overall conditions unchanged. To the south, Russian forces firing artillery across the Dnipro River in Kherson, shelling civilian infrastructure, education and humanitarian facilities, keeping with the Kremlin playbook.

To the east, the Ukrainian military says it's repealing Russian attacks around Bakhmut in the Donbas.


The handful still living there describe a living hell, as Russia tries to bomb them back to the Stone Age.

NATALIIA BOLIAS, 51-YEAR-OLD LOCAL (through translator): We have no information. We have no electricity. We don't know what is going on. No electricity, no water, no gas. What could we know? We just hear the explosions, and that's all.

RIPLEY: Power problems even plague the capital Kyiv. Electric supplies still running around 50 percent, actually an improvement from recent days. That translates to more than 12 hours a day without power for most. They endure darkness and biting cold. Temperatures in the coming days predicted to plummet.


RIPLEY (on camera): Tonight, the big question, did Vladimir Putin mean to break protocol, break the law by calling its carefully crafted special military operation what it really is, a war? If he meant to do it, that could mean Russia is shifting to a more militaristic stance, could potentially declare martial law, pour even more resources into his military. He's already said he's going to do that.

Or was it simply as you put it earlier, a Freudian slip, as the U.S. believes?

TAPPER: All right. Will Ripley in Kyiv, thanks so much.

It was one of the biggest Supreme Court decisions in decades and we're only now starting to see the dire effects from the Dobbs decision. One couple's story shows the pain that comes from severe bans and restrictions on abortion. That's next.



TAPPER: Our health lead now, the unintended consequences created by the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade and the move by politically conservative states to enact abortion bans and other severe restrictions. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen introduces us to a couple that was forced to

make some wrenching choices and have become vocal supporters of abortion rights.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last spring, Jill Hartle took a pregnancy test and was thrilled to find out she was expecting, with a little girl, she and her husband Matt named Ivy Grace. Their mama and papa bear instincts kicking in right away.

MATT HARTLE, HUSBAND: And I immediately felt like a dad and father. My whole goal is to protect my family.

COHEN: And Matt would need to protect them. At an ultrasound when Jill was four months pregnant.

JILL HARTLE, WIFE: Our doctor came in the room and immediately you knew that something was wrong, and she said her heart isn't what we want it to look like.

COHEN: That ultrasound and another a month later found Ivy Grace had a severe and devastating heart detect. South Carolina law gave the Hartles two choices, carry Ivy Grace to term and she would die shortly after birth, or subject her to multiple extensive open heart surgeries, which she might not survive.

Jill is a hairdresser and former Ms. South Carolina, Matt a brewer. They were religious Republicans in a red state.

J. HARTLE: I grew up in a Christian conservative household. I'm a very faithful woman.

COHEN: Like many parents facing the severe and devastating diagnosis, the Hartles opted to terminate the pregnancy.

J. HARTLE: The best option was to protect our daughter from pain and suffering was to send her to heaven.

COHEN: But abortion was not an option in South Carolina. They found a clinic out of state but it had a two-week wait due to an influx of women like Jill.

J. HARTLE: Those two weeks were probably the most tortuous two weeks of my entire life.

M. HARTLE: I was a logistic nightmare.

J. HARTLE: All while you're grieving the loss of your child.

COHEN: Now they've started the Ivy Grace project to educate the public. Fetal anomalies can't be detected until five months into a pregnancy when it's too late in states like South Carolina to have an abortion.

J. HARTLE: It's not fair for the government to tell you what you should or should not do.

COHEN: CNN reached out to the primary senate sponsor of the state's most recent abortion law.

State Senator Larry Groom said: I regret to hear about the Hartle family and their baby with a heart defect. However, I remain committed to protecting the lives of children from those who choose to end those lives.

As the holidays approach, so does the day their daughter would have been born.

M. HARTLE: The 25th is Christmas, Jill's birthday is the 26th and the due date was the 27th.

J. HARTLE: We just don't want another family to have to experience the pain we've had to experience.


COHEN (on camera): Now, the Hartles say they don't blame their doctors in South Carolina for not performing the termination. They say they know that the laws were changing quickly last summer and their doctors could conceivably have faced heavy fines, they could have faced prison time, so they don't blame them.

The couple says she just want South Carolina legislators to know that many conservative Christians like themselves do not support these harsh abortion bans -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Elizabeth Cohen with a sad and horrifying story. Elizabeth, thank you so much for that.

Coming up next, new revelations inside the transcripts just released by the January 6th committee. Why star witness Cassidy Hutchinson used words like frustrated and disgusted to describe her first round of testimony.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, the winter wallop pummeling the United States, from California to Maine, deadly wind chills, whiteout snow, hurricane force winds and now millions of Americans are facing life-threatening cold.

Plus, a look at the great length some parents are going to to try to find children's pain medications as respiratory viruses surge.

And leading this hour, direct and to the point. Quote: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him, unquote. That is how the January 6th select committee summed up the findings of their 845 page records, based on more than 1,000 interviews, hundreds of emails, texts and phone records, all gathered during the year and a half long investigation into the deadly insurrection.

CNN's Paula Reid dives into the revelations from this gargantuan history-making report.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th committee lays the blame for the Capitol attack directly at the feet of former President Donald Trump.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They broke the glass. Everybody stay down.

REID: In an 845 page report released late Thursday, the committee writes: The central cause of January 6th was one man, whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.