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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Russia Bombards Ukraine In Biggest Attack Since Start of War; Poland: "All Indications" Russian Missile Flew Over Our Territory; Law Enforcement on High Alert for NYE Amid Israel-Hamas War; Monster Waves Pummel California Coastline. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 29, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Russia launching its biggest air attack on Ukraine since the war began.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Russia targeting Ukraine with a nearly unprecedented number of missiles and drones fired at targets all across the country. Schools, factories, warehouses, hospitals hit, one of the largest air assaults of this war. We'll show you more of that devastation.

And President Trump removed from the 2024 primary ballot again, this time in Maine. How his campaign and his rivals are responding.

Plus, a rogue wave causing chaos in California. The terrifying moment it slammed into the coastline and why officials say that threat isn't over.


HILL: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Erica Hill, in for Jake Tapper.

We start with our world lead. And an attack unlike anything we've seen since the start of the war in Ukraine. Russian strikes blanketing Ukraine from east to west, killing at least 31 as of this hour, injuring more than 150. Cruise missiles, drones, and bombers flooded Ukraine's air defenses in what Ukraine says is the worst attack since Russia's full-scale invasion nearly two years ago.

Russia targeted Ukrainian air bases but also hit apartment buildings, a metro station, and a maternity hospital in Dnipro, a hospital official says windows were smashed, ceilings broken and while women and newborns were able to get to a bomb shelter in time, we are learning more about the dozens killed in these attacks across the country, including one of Ukraine's most celebrated basketball players. A Lviv official confirming Viktor Kobzystyi's death.

The onslaught comes shortly after the U.S. sent its final military aid package to Ukraine, that is, of course, until Congress approves more. This caps of an incredibly tough year for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, including a counteroffensive that failed to meet expectations, as Russia vows to continue fighting and turns it's heavily sanctioned economy into a brutal war machine.

It's not just Ukrainians, though, on high alert tonight. Poland, a NATO country, noting a, quote, unidentified object crossed into its airspace and then disappeared.

CNN Portugal international reporter Helena Lins has a close-up look at the destruction in Kyiv.


HELENA LINS, CNN PORTUGAL INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: In the morning, we were in an area where a business building was hit. It was not being used, so partly destroyed, but no people inside. Also from the other side of the street, there was a metro station that was also hit. It was -- the main entrance was closed. People could still access from another side. And the metro was already working.

Right now, we are not very far from that area, but actually a place where there are some warehouses. And this warehouse behind me was actually hit during this attack. Let me just take you inside and show you what actually the destruction that is inside because, you know, the warehouse was hit, it is called the fire. When we arrived, here the smoke was still very visible from the outside.

Right now, we can still see smoke in the inside. The smell is actually also strong. And for some time, we couldn't access the inside of the warehouse because firefighters were still trying to stabilize. So, nothing could actually fall.

We now have permission to enter. As you can see, you know, there is the structure completely destroyed. The roof of the warehouse is totally destroyed and we are actually walking most of the time on shattered glasses, on fragments of the warehouse, but also of the equipment that was inside.

I was speaking with the general manager of the company, which is actually a German company working in Ukraine. He was telling me there is only electro technical equipment here, there's no weapons, and it's now mostly destroyed.

So, the warehouse is destroyed. They will have to look for a new one. And what is inside, they are trying to understand whether or not they can still recover something. Now estimating also the cost of the destruction, the company is still going to continue working in Ukraine.


That's at least what he was telling me. But it is very difficult right now to recover from all this loss. There was no one inside the warehouse when the attack happened. It was in the early hours of the morning.

But speaking with the firefighters, at least -- I mean, two people asked for it to be assisted by the emergency services because this was the main warehouse. But there's also other buildings around. So, two people needed to be assisted by the emergency services.

As I was telling you, firefighters are still here. Work is still being done in this warehouse. There is still a lot of smoke. The smell is really strong.

But as you were saying, not only Kyiv was hit, which was very unexpected. You know, sirens have been going off in the capital for almost every day. But no one was expecting this size of destruction. But also other cities in Ukraine, this was the scale of the attack last night and this morning.


HILL: Our thanks again to CNN Portugal Helena Lins for that report.

Let's get straight to CNN's Oren Liebermann.

Oren, as we look at that destruction there, we hear the numbers and the scope of these attacks. What are the chances that this will change the mind of U.S. lawmakers when it comes to funding when they return to Washington?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what President Biden is hoping for. He put out an incredibly forceful statement after this attack, an attack that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says included more than 160 missiles and drones, again, the largest since the war began.

In a statement released earlier today, Biden said of this attack, it is a stark reminder to the world that after nearly two years of this devastating war, Putin's objective remains unchanged. He seeks to obliterate Ukraine and subjugate its people. He must be stopped.

In that statement, Biden went on to demand from Congress that they find some sort of compromise and passed the supplemental that includes approximately $60 billion in aid for Ukraine.

And the issue is, Ukraine is not the question here. There is generally bipartisan support for Ukraine, certainly in the Senate, but also in the House. The issue is that Biden and House Speaker Mike Johnson need to find a compromise on border security and immigration policy. And that remains the challenge. Negotiators have the network. They've made some progress, but not enough and they are not over the line yet, and that's what Biden is hoping for here.

The challenge, Erica, lawmakers aren't in session right now, so having those conversations that can come as a direct result of something like this and the dynamics and seeing if this moves anyone simply not possible right now, not for sometime until we can see if this really had an effect, if it can move the needle on how -- on whether and how quickly the U.S. can pass aid that includes aid for Ukraine.

HILL: Yeah, it's a really important port -- point, rather.

I also wanted to ask about Poland, a NATO country, of course. It shares that border with Ukraine, as we know. The fact that Poland saw what was referred to as an unidentified object enter Polish territory, it is significant. Put that in context if you could.

LIEBERMANN: It's absolutely significant. As you point out, that just violate Polish airspace, it therefore violated NATO airspace. Biden as well as others have vowed to defend every inch of NATO territory.

Poland, in fact, went on to summon the Russian charge d'affaires there and asked for an explanation as to why they say a missile of Russian origin violated their airspace. They say they were tracking it from the moment, from the moment it entered their airspace, until it disappeared. Demanding some sort of explanation for that.

Is this likely to lead to a war between Russia and NATO? No, certainly not. But any violation of NATO air airspace is absolutely significant and worth tracking, Erica. Also worth noting that this attack that we saw today, Ukraine has demanded a meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

HILL: Oren Liebermann, appreciate it, thank you.

Joining us now, CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier.

Kim, so when we look at everything, let's start there with Poland. The fact that this Russian missile potentially through Polish airspace, NATO airspace, right, as Oren just pointed out, what do you make of that in terms of a signal from Russia?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I find it interesting that unlike previous times when objects have landed in Poland and there's been some question about wasn't Ukrainian, was it Russian, that the Poles this time track to the item all the way from its launch and its whole trajectory. That tells me that they've moved some assets near the border to make sure that nothing stray falls on their territory again. It gives them a reason to warn Moscow, you've got to close. You don't want to hit a NATO ally.

HILL: When we look at the attack, itself, the fact it was so large, that it was so wide spread across Ukraine, does this look like retaliation to you for Ukraine's hit on a Russian landing ship in Crimea on Monday?


DOZIER: You know, it's going to be a gut punch for the Ukrainians on a number of different fronts. Yes, it's Moscow fighting back after losing yet another naval vessel. This was in a sneak attack in Crimea.

But it's also a signal both to the Ukrainians and to the U.S. and any Ukrainian ally that's trying to send aid to Ukraine, that Moscow shows no signs of tiring of this war. That is able to carry out this kind of attack almost two years into the war, shortly going into the third year. We hear from Russia that it has no trouble supplying ammunition to the front lines -- you don't know how much of that is disinformation, but what we've heard from Ukrainian officials it is a debate over -- the defense chief wanted to call up half million people and lower the age that he could draft people into service, and has also talked about a lack of ammunition coming in. Those are signs and that Ukraine is getting tired or running out at

least of the weapons it needs to keep prosecuting this war, as well as some of the manpower.

HILL: And yet, as you pointed out, we are entering now, or we are about to wrap up the second, you're entering the third year of this war. What does this tell us about Russia's potential plans for the winter and whether this is also perhaps a bit of a domestic flex, if you will, on the part of Vladimir Putin, the head of that upcoming election. I used election in quotes.

DOZIER: Yeah, good point. I mean, Putin is running for the leadership again. There is no one really to challenge him. There is no real doubt about who will win come spring.

But it does demonstrate to Ukrainians and to the world and to Russians that he is fully committed to this war, and no on is really standing against him. Nobody seems to be able to stop Russia's march. It has enough people to outnumber the Ukrainians and the military manufacture to just keep going.

HILL: Kimberly Dozier, always appreciate your insight, thank you.

DOZIER: Thanks.

HILL: Coming up here, a closer look at Donald Trump's 14th Amendment challenges. We're going to go state-by-state.

Plus, the terrifying moment a rogue wave crashed ashore in California, sending beach-goers running for safety. Why the danger is not over tonight for the West Coast.



HILL: Our law and justice lead intersects with our political league today. Maine has joined Colorado in kicking Donald Trump off the ballot, based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which bars people who took part in an insurrection from holding office. Other states, most recently Michigan, have rejected that argument, leaving Trump on the ballot. Multiple states, multiple challenges, you get all these roads lead to the U.S. Supreme Court.

CNN's Paula Reid starts off our coverage.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court facing increasing pressure to weigh in on whether states can remove former President Trump from the 2024 ballots. After Maine became the second state to kick him off based on the 14th Amendment's ban on insurrectionists holding public office.

SHENNA BELLOWS (D), MAINE SECRETARY OF STATE: No secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the 14th Amendment, but no presidential candidate has ever engaged in insurrection and been disqualified under Section Three of the 14th Amendment.

REID: In Maine, ballot eligibility questions first go to the secretary of state, not the courts. Trump has called for Democrat Shenna Bellows to recuse herself in this case because of previous comments about January 6th, where she tweeted: The Jan 6 insurrection was an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.

She did not remove herself from the matter and now the issue heads to the court, as Trump and the state's Republican Party vowed to appeal.

JOEL STETKIS, CHAIR, MAINE REPUBLICAN PARTY: Our voting rights enshrines in the constitution are sacred to us. They have one particular person removed from -- removed really the top candidates from the ballot because she just likes that person just smells of politics.

REID: The question of Trump's ballot eligibility has been debated in multiple states, but only Maine and Colorado taking him off the primary ballot. Even California on Thursday opted to include him. In a statement, the Trump campaign accused Colorado and Maine of election interference, attempted theft of an election, and the disenfranchisement of the American voter.

Even some of Trump's rivals have criticized states taking him out of the running, instead of leaving it to the voters.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CNADIDATE: It makes him a martyr. He's very good at playing "poor me, poor me."

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can you have a Republican secretary of state that disqualified Biden from the ballot? Because he has let in 8 million people illegally.

REID: The Colorado GOP has already appealed that state's ruling to the United States Supreme Court, asking the justices to take up three key questions. Does section Three of the 14th Amendment apply to a president? And is Section Three of the 14th Amendment to be enforced by states? And also asking whether the GOP has a First Amendment right to choose its candidates.

Trump is also expected to appeal.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: They're trying to take the election away from the voters.


REID: Even states like Michigan and Minnesota that opted to keep Trump on the primary ballot left the door open to re-litigate this issue for the general election. So, unless the Supreme Court weighs in here, this is something that could hang over the 2024 race through November -- Erica.

HILL: Buckle up, right? As we wait to see, Paula, if the court will take this up, I was struck by something from the former Nixon White House counsel John Dean told me last night. Take a listen.




He's in trouble wherever this is legitimately raised and addressed. So, yes, the Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in on it. I want to see those strict constructionists and originalists get around that language. I don't know what they can do with it other than take him off the ballot.


HILL: Is it that simple, Paula?

REID: No, it's not, Erica.

For example, Section Three does not mention that it applies to presidents, which is why we have seen judges even within the same states come to different conclusions on this issue.

There are also open questions about this should be enforced by Congress or if it should be enforced by the state, particularly that president aspect. That is something that originalists will absolutely want to analyze. And if it was so simple and so straightforward, we wouldn't be seeing these differing outcomes across these various states that have contemplated this issue.

And, lastly, there is this outstanding question of whether this amendment is in conflict, potentially, with the First Amendment. These are questions, Erica, that have never been litigated before. So, to say the outcome is so obvious, I mean, that just belies the complexity of the situation.

HILL: Paula, I appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Well, we've looked at the legal part of this now, right? They said there's a little intersection. So, let's talk politics, if we can.

Jackie when we look at this, the Supreme Court is really facing, this is yet another hugely consequential moment. Something they don't seem to want, but the impact will go far beyond the 2024 election. And even if they chose not to take up Colorado or to not weigh in on all three of those questions, that in itself, Jackie, would send a message that is inherently political in this day and age.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely, Erica. This is just another way that this 2024 election is going straight through the courts. We've heard it with the many Trump indictments and now with these questions which really makes us in uncharted territory. But speaking strictly politically, and Chris Christie got into this a little bit, I mean, this -- we have yet to see whether some of these rulings from Maine and Colorado are going to rally more people around Trump, perhaps through off the efforts of Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis to beat him in somewhere like Iowa or New Hampshire, because of the tendency to rally around Trump from the GOP faithful when they feel like he's under attack.

HILL: And what we are hearing, too, I mean, we heard Ron DeSantis say, you know, it opens up a Pandora's box, you heard and they're raising the possibility of Republican states trying to take Biden off the ballot. Chris Christie saying it makes Trump a martyr, as you noted, Jacqui.

Here's a little bit more of what Chris Christie had to say.


CHRISTIE: This should be decided by the voters of the United States. It should not be decided by courts. And the fact is and that while there may be -- people may think there is justification for doing this, it's not good for our democracy. In the end, Donald Trump should be defeated by the voters at the polls.


HILL: It's not just Republicans saying that, Seung Min. The Democratic Maine Congressman Jared Golden said in a statement after the decision out of his state last night: Until Trump is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.

How concerned are Democrats, Seung Min, about potential blowback?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they are seeing kind of the political benefits that Donald Trump has been able to get out of his criminal troubles, whether it's a criminal indictments or the rulings in Colorado and Maine. And they know that, like Chris Christie said, they know this makes him a martyr. They know that this kind of strengthens his standing in the Republican base.

And if I had my suspicions, I don't think the Biden campaign really much wants to get involved with this at all. They barely commented on the Colorado ruling. They have not set a peep about the Maine's secretary of state's decision. They do want to beat him. I feel most Democrats feel that they do want to beat Donald Trump fairly at the ballot box based on the contrast between, you know, presumably if Donald Trump is the general election candidate, between Donald Trump and Joe Biden and not have Trump kind of thrown off these ballots in a piecemeal fashion, you know, in a couple of states across the country.

HILL: When we look at all this, too, it really does underscore just how critical the timing is here. We are all waiting with bated breath to hear from the Supreme Court. Are they taking on Colorado or are they not? But the reality is there isn't -- I mean, holidays aside, there still isn't a lot of time, Jackie, available for these ballots need to be set.

KUCINICH: These primaries are soon, Erica.

HILL: Yeah.

KUCINICH: They are right around the corner. We will be here before we know it.

So, yes, there is a real sense of urgency here. As you said, all eyes are on the Supreme Court, which, you know, it has been under an unusual scrutiny over the past year because -- for several reasons. And I think that will weigh heavily on someone like a John Roberts as to how to proceed here.

HILL: I also want to get your take on some other political news coming out today. Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine, he vetoed a bill that would've banned gender-affirming care for minors and block transgender student athletes from participating in girls and women's sports. Here is his explanation for that decision for his veto.


GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R), OHIO: Ohio would be saying that this state, that the government knows better what is medically best for a child than the two people who love that child the most, the parents.


HILL: Seung Min, was that a surprise at all?

KIM: I thought it was a very interesting decision. More interesting was Governor DeWine's explanation. Obviously, you heard what he said about how it should be the choice that the parents and the doctor as well. And he also noted his decision on vetoing this ban was about protecting human life. That while it affects a very small percentage of children in Ohio, the children it would affect, it would have massive consequences. He framed it as a matter of protecting human life.

I thought his explanation was really interesting. Of course, there is a supermajority of Republicans in the legislature that could be -- the legislation could certainly overturn that veto of Governor DeWine. You are starting to hear some criticism from the campaign trail, Vivek Ramaswamy weighed in earlier today opposing that decision. We will wait to see if other Republican candidates will weigh in. Very interesting decision by Governor DeWine today.

HILL: Certainly is.

Seung Min Kim, and Jackie Kucinich, great to see you both as always, and happy New Year, my friends.

KIM: Happy New Year.

KUCINICH: Happy New Year.

HILL: And speaking of the New Year, just ahead, your heightened security across New York City ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations. CNN has an inside look at how law enforcement is preparing.


[16:31:19] HILL: In our national lead, officials say the Israel-Hamas war has contributed to a heightened concern of smaller lone wolf attacks on New Year's Eve celebrations. New York City officials are also planning to keep protesters away from Times Square.


JOHN HART, NYPD ASSISTANT CHIEF OF INTELLIGENCE: The groups that have regularly protested in regards to Israel Palestine have been 1,000 to 5,000 on occasion. And, you know, we are prepared for them in any number. We are prepared for different groups from different places. And, you know, we will make sure this event stays safe and peaceful.


HILL: CNN's John Miller explains why these larger televised events, like the one here in New York City, are at higher risk, and also has an inside look at how those threats will be monitored.


JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST (voice-over): New Year's Eve in New York City, security also tight, has been increased this year. While officials stress there is no specific reporting regarding any threats, a joint threat assessment based on analysis from 10 law enforcement agencies warns that the Israel-Hamas conflict has created a heightened threat environment, therefore the intelligence community remains concerned about lone offenders using online platforms to express threats of violence against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities, as well as committing simple, unsophisticated attacks that are difficult to detect in advance.

The assessment obtained by CNN reminds police that massive live televised events remain an attractive target for foreign terrorist organizations, as well as domestic violent extremists. It is a threat stream that will be monitored minute to minute leading up to midnight New Year's Eve, and at multiple command posts -- from the NYPD's joint operation center, to its intelligence bureau, to the FBI's joint terrorism task force, gathering in operation center in Lower Manhattan.

ROBERT KISSANE, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, COUNTERTERRORISM DIVISION OF FBI NEW YORK FIELD OFFICE: October 7th was something of a flash point. The horrific attacks on Israel and the ongoing war and conflict going on right now is certainly motivating and inspiring people to do bad things.

MILLER: Last year, a 19-year old man from Maine traveled to Times Square with an attack plan investigators believe was on inspired by online ISIS propaganda.

New York City police say Trevor Bickford who was shot by officers after he attacked three of them with a machete at a Times Square New Year's security checkpoint. Bickford has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. The security package not just crowd control and traffic, but what they

call the counterterrorism overlay, includes a network of cameras. NYPD counter sniper teams and skyscrapers above. Bomb detection K9s moving around the perimeter, dogs that can pick up the width of explosives, even moving through a crowd 100 feet away. Radiation detectors worn by police on the street and a specially equipped NYPD helicopter high above.

Police are also focused on potential demonstrations. The war between Israel and Hamas has brought on protests in New York and in clashes with police, when some protesters announce their intent to disrupt the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The live televised event in Times Square is another potential target for destruction.


CHIEF JOHN CHELL, NYPD CHIEF OF PATROL: We know what their tactics are. We're going to make some adjustments to our tactics. No one is getting to that ball -- I can put it that way.

MILLER: But protests and even disorder is not what keeps the NYPD or the FBI up at night. Terrorism is. And while the officials say there is no specific credible threat on their radar, this year, they are doing more than ever, they say, to ensure that.


MILLER (on camera): You know, Erica, having been involved during my NYPD time for eight years and planning the security package around New Year's Eve, one of the things that we learned is that there is no single line of defense that's going to prevent something from someone who's been planning it. That's why they rely on these concentric circles.

It's a layered approach. It is first the line of officers at the barricade, that it's the people doing the bag checks. Then it's the vapor wake K9s who can sense that wake in the air and put their handler on to a potential suspect. Then it's the counter sniper teams on the high ground, whose observation teams are actually scanning the crowd, looking for suspicious behavior and then communicating with the plane closed cops who are out there in the crowd.

So, it's not a single line of defense. It's the entire package, which they think they make times square not the place where there is the biggest threat, but probably the safest place to be in New York, if not the world.

HILL: Yeah. As you -- as you lay all this out, showing us what is happening behind the scenes. That is a great visual you give there, John, is you are explaining everything that is there. These concentric circles. What strikes me is how long this planning must take.

I mean, is this something that really begins on January one and goes all the way through the year?

MILLER: That's exactly what it is. And, you know, once the ball drops and the confetti flies and the music plays, you know, we always turn to each other and say, well, it is time to start planning next year. But during the year, you also learn something.

Once we had the Las Vegas sniper case, we had to reconsider the entire theory of Times Square. That's why they have a hotel team of detectives in every hotel, that's why they have the counter snipers high above. World events teach us something every year that we had not thought of the year before.

HILL: Yeah, they certainly do. John, I appreciate it as always. Thank you, my friend. Happy New Year.

MILLER: You too, Erica.

HILL: Up next, California famous beaches went from scenic to life- threatening after huge waves crashed ashore. More on this right on the other side of this break.



HILL: I mean, that video. This was captured on CCTV. Look at that rogue wave crashing into a road in Ventura, you see it move that truck, it looks like. The people who were slammed, several bystanders, vehicles, at least eight people were sent to local hospitals.

And this was just one of several massive waves that damaged coastal communities across the state.

CNN's Lucy Kafanov has more on the violent waters pounding the West Coast.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The terrifying moment a monster wave slammed into the Ventura, California coastline.


KAFANOV: Bystanders running for their lives.


KAFANOV: The surge sweeping people and vehicles down the street, at least eight people taken to the hospital.

JOHN FRIZZELL, WITNESSED LARGE WAVE: This wave just came seemingly out of nowhere. Just this rush. We saw it. It was 6 to 8 feet deep. I'm kind of just shaking. I'm just trying to hold on to positive thoughts.

KAFANOV: The wave so strong, this lifeguard had to be pulled to safety by Good Samaritans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is insane. When I was up on the pier, I actually felt the pier shaking. It doesn't seem real.

KAFANOV: The massive waves pummeling the coastline, wreaking havoc, flooding streets and businesses.

Like this beach front restaurant in Santa Cruz.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just feel bad for the restaurants. I know they just went through renovations from the last time this happened.

KAFANOV: While coastal restaurant residents have seen plenty of Mother Nature's wrath, there's still concern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a pure state of panic, and to be honest, as far as the community goes, you know there's plenty out there that are not prepared.

KAFANOV: Crews and residents now dealing with the aftermath.

JOHN HYLAND, VOLUNTEER, STINSON BEACH FIRE DEPARTMENT: Right now, we're just trying to keep the houses from flooding.

KAFANOV: While also preparing for what's to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are expecting higher waves coming in and it only takes one for you to be locked out.

KAFANOV: Parts of the California coast can see towering waves through the weekend. Coastal floods and high surf alerts stretching from the southern border to the Bay Area. Officials urging caution.

CHIEF JESSE PERI, STINSON BEACH FIRE DEPARTMENT: The ocean is a very dynamic, dangerous place. Always, as a kid, it was never turn your back on Grandmother Ocean. So, make sure you know that.


KAFANOV (on camera): And, Erica, the dangerous waves, in fact, I can hear some behind me, have prompted authorities in Manhattan beach to close the pier that you can see. As you can also see behind, the authorities don't seem to be enforcing that rule.

We've seen people streaming in here all day long, taking selfies, bringing their families here to take a look. Despite the very dangerous swell, we've seen waves come up very close to where we are standing at the moment. It has gotten a little bit calmer, but this goes to show how life goes on as normal here in Los Angeles, in the California area.

Of course, the Manhattan Beach area spared some of that more dramatic destruction we saw in Santa Cruz and the Ventura area.


So, yeah, basically folks are very much taking advantage of the sunny day even though these swells, as authorities insist, can come up very quickly, can surprise people. And you have to make a run for, like we saw in that dramatic footage.

And so, even though people are sort of continuing life as normal, and we are hearing from authorities that they should be a lot more careful than we are seeing.

HILL: Yeah. Well, let's hope they start to listen. I'm glad you and your crew are being careful. We don't want you to have to run for it. But glad to have the reporting, Lucy. Thank you.

KAFANOV: Thanks.

HILL: Just ahead, the popularity of mushroom hunting is booming, and along with it are poisonings. More on that, next.



HILL: In our health lead, people have been foraging for mushrooms since the Stone Age. But recently, experts across the country say they've seen a pronounced increased interest in the hobby and along with that has come a significant spike in poison control calls.

CNN's Meg Tirrell breaks down the often terrifying health consequences of eating the wrong fungi.


BILL HICKMAN, ATE POISONOUS MUSHROOM: I saw the mushrooms over here.

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Last September, Bill Hickman found what he thought were edible mushrooms growing near his house in Windham, Ohio.

HICKMAN: I looked down and I put my phone on it and it says, boom, it's a giant puff ball. I'm like, oh, cool. So, I put my stuff down over there and gathered a few up.

TIRRELL: But the app on his phone was wrong. Eight hours after eating the mushrooms, Bill got violently sick.

HICKMAN: You know, I just didn't think I was going to live.

TIRRELL: It turns out Bill had eaten four of what are known as destroying angel mushrooms, a highly toxic species.

HICKMAN: The first doctor pretty much told us we can't help him. You know, that he's -- he's not going to survive.

TIRRELL: Warmer fall weather, due to climate change, is extending mushroom season. Nationally, reports of potentially toxic mushroom exposures are up more than 11 percent so far this year compared to last. To see just how diverse and potentially dangerous mushrooms can be, we went foraging with mycology instructor Rick Van de Poll in New Hampshire. RICK VAN DE POLL, MYCOLOGY INSTRUCTOR: This one has what they call a classic farinaceous odor. So, it's an odor of meal (ph) or farina (ph).

TIRRELL: He uses smells, colors and structural features to help determine which mushrooms are safe to eat.

VAN DE POLL: So, these are puff balls. Open it up and show you that -- what the middle looks like.

TIRRELL: Wow. Looks like a marshmallow.

VAN DE POLL: All right. Yes, exactly. They often call these the marshmallow mushrooms.

And, interestingly, they, in a soup, will soak up the fluid and the taste so you can actually use these as little miniature sort of mushroom sponges.

TIRRELL: And which ones are not?

Where would you look for the - some of the ones that are poisonous.

VAN DE POLL: Let's go take a look.


Oh, wow, those are orange (ph).

VAN DE POLL: See what you got. And you can touch it, smell it. So that has the farinaceous odor. So if you got that.

TIRRELL: It's subtle. So, what will that do if you eat it?

VAN DE POLL: That will make you sick. Yes, gastric upset. Won't kill you.

TIRRELL: But some can be deadly.

So, that's it.

VAN DE POLL: OK. So this is it. It doesn't look like much. It's this little brown mushroom. And, you know, you pick it off the log. So, this is our dead galerina, galerina marginata.

TIRRELL: What would happen if you eat one of those?

VAN DE POLL: So, this has amatoxins in it.

TIRRELL: That's a poison that destroys liver cells and can cause liver failure.

Amatoxin was also in the mushroom Bill Hickman ate. With his liver and kidneys at risk of failing, Bill was transferred to University Hospital in Cleveland, where doctors raced to get him an experimental antidote, an extract from the milk thistle plant called silibinin. The antidote worked. Bill slowly regained his strength, but says it

took months to fully recover, both physically and mentally.

HICKMAN: There are a lot of people involved to make it happen, to save me.

TIRRELL: Meg Tirrell, CNN, Windham, Ohio.


HILL: What a story. Our thanks to Meg for that reporting.

Now, Bill and Tammy said they wanted to share their story because they want to make sure others don't make the same mistake. Experts say forging can be done safely, but you should always rely on a knowledgeable guide.

Champagne problems, they are flowing in our "Earth Matters" lead, courtesy of the climate crisis, which is on track to potentially ruin many of future celebration. The three grapes use in almost all champagne, chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, are at risk of being extinct by the year 2050. That is according to data from Silicon Valley start-up ClimateAI. Those precious grapes that combine to create champagne's unique taste only thrive in very specific weather conditions. And the human cost climate crisis is changing those weather patterns.


So, not to whine about it, but overall, global wine production is actually at its lowest levels in 60 years. Some traditional winegrowers considering a shift away from their growing regions. But when it comes to champagne, that strategy falls flat because by law, to be considered authentic champagne, to use that name, the bubbles have to come from France's Champagne region. So, on New Year's Eve, when it's time to pop that cork, they want to make a toast to the champagne itself while you still can.

Speaking of toasts, this Sunday, a New Year's Eve tradition continues right here on CNN. Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will host New Year's eve live from Times Square. Coverage kicks off Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern.

But you can start your day earlier with "STATE OF THE UNION."

And if you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, be sure to listen to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Our coverage continues next in "THE SITUATION ROOM."