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Criminal Referrals Against Trump Expected From Jan. 6 Committee; Court Rejects Bid By GOP-Led States To Continue Title 42 Border Policy; Flu And RSV Hit Hard And Early; COVID-19 Now Starting To Rise; Pelosi & Schumer Give First Joint Interview Ahead Of New Congress; Nor-easter Leaves Thousands In New England Without Power; Is Climate Change To Blame For Extreme Tornadoes? Croatia Defeats Morocco To Win FIFA World Cup Bronze Medal; Tomorrow, Argentina Faces Defending Champs, France; Brittney Griner Back Home In Arizona. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 13:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. And we begin this hour with a former president of the United States facing the prospect of what could be unprecedented criminal charges.

The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to refer at least three criminal charges against Donald Trump. And they'll be making those referrals to the Justice Department including -- among the charges, insurrection. We will hear the panel's final recommendations during its last hearing on Monday.

And in a statement a spokesman for Trump criticized the committee calling it a kangaroo court and saying the hearings are "a stain on this country's history." CNN's Annie Grayer joining us now. So, Annie, what more are you learning about these referrals?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Fredricka, we know that the January 6 Committee is considering asking the Department of Justice to consider at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump and those three charges are obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the federal government and insurrection. And we know that whichever charges the committee does decide to push against former President Donald Trump, there'll be presenting that in their final public meeting, which is on Monday at 1:00 p.m.

WHITFIELD: And what are the other things that could potentially happen on Monday?

GRAYER: So, Monday is the committee's last final public meeting to wrap up its investigation. And in addition to criminal referrals, there are other referrals, categories of referrals that the committee could make, for example, to the Ethics Committee, to the Bar Association. And committee members are also going to be voting on its final report in order to release that report on Wednesday of this week.

WHITFIELD: OK. And then why does any of this matter? I mean, why is it necessary? So, taking a step back on criminal referrals, it's largely symbolic in nature. The Department of Justice already has wide-ranging criminal probes into January 6. But if committee members stand up there on Monday and make a statement that they believe that their evidence over a year's long amount of work over 1000 interviews, over 10 hearings.

If they believe all that evidence leads to and points to a crime against the former president, that's really a strong public statement for the committee to make, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Indeed. All right. Annie Grayer in Washington. Thanks so much.

And don't forget, of course, you can join CNN's Jake Tapper and Erin Burnett for special live coverage starting Monday at noon Eastern time.

All right. Now to the U.S.-Mexico border. We're cities are bracing for what's expected to be a huge surge of migrants. A federal appeals court rejecting a republican-led challenge to keep Title 42 intact. That policy was enacted by the Trump administration citing health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. If the U.S. Supreme Court does not act the policy will expire on Wednesday.

Meaning, many of the migrants waiting and makeshift campsites in Mexico along the border could attempt to enter the U.S. would attempt to be processed at the border crossings.

Well, CNN's Ed Lavandera has more.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's 39 degrees and getting colder. This is Roberto Cordoba's first night sleeping on the El Paso streets. He says he's never experienced anything close to homelessness. He left Cuba last month and is hoping to get to Miami soon.

He says this is the first time in his life he's ever had to spend the night on the street and he feels completely lost.

A thin pair of New York Giants socks and unlaced shoes won't be enough to get through the frigid night.

Everything that he's wearing now, the jackets and the heavy clothing was donated people who have dropped it off here.

Roberto hopes there's something else to keep him warm. In the back of Sandragrace Martinez's car for days. She's handed out donated goods.

SANDRAGRACE MARTINEZ, VOLUNTEER: They're on survival mode, it's fight or flight for them. LAVANDERA: The long lines of migrants from what is Mexico waiting to

get escorted into El Paso by border patrol agents has significantly dwindled. A sign that perhaps this latest migration surge has slowed down for now.


But that could change next week with the Title 42 Public Health rule set to expire. That order allows for the swift expulsion of migrants at the border. As more migrants arrive in El Paso, officials plan to bring in more buses to move migrants to their destinations in the U.S. faster, hoping to prevent a backlog of people on the streets.

MARIO D'AGOSTINO, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, EL PASO, TEXAS: And so with that, that might bring in transportation in forms of buses to get them to that transportation hub. Whether it's Dallas or Denver or Phoenix or whatever that next large airport or bus terminal is, it's to move them onto those locations.

LAVANDERA: El Paso Emergency Management outreach teams are helping migrants find shelter space at night. But Albert Robles and his wife have been sleeping on the street buried under blankets since Monday night. Their bus ticket to Connecticut isn't good until this weekend.

He said the first night that he was sleeping on the street, it was drizzly and cold, was almost like a fatal feeling. But he thought, you know, he's been dreaming of this moment for so long that there was no way he was going to turn back.

City and county public officials have been meeting with the federal government including customs and border protection officials. They're all in the process of planning and preparing for what's to come next week if and when Title 42 is lifted on Wednesday.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


WHITFIELD: And the White House says it is preparing for a robust effort to manage the border crisis. CNN Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us. Arlette, how is the administration getting ready for this expected border surge?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, with four days to go until Title 42 is expected to end the Biden administration is feverishly working to try to prepare as Department of Homeland Security officials warned in a recent intelligence memo that they would likely see an increase in migrants immediately when Title 42 is lifted. Of course, officials here have been preparing for some time knowing that this Trump era policy that was set during the pandemic would end at some point.

But it took on new meaning after that judge last month said that the program needed to end by December 21st. Now, as mentioned earlier last night and appeals court blocked this GOP-led effort from several states to try to keep the program in place. And a White House spokesperson reacted after that decision saying that they are planning these robust efforts to try to manage the border when Title 42 is lifted.

The spokesperson said to be clear the lifting of Title 42 Public Health order does not mean the border is open. Anyone who suggests otherwise is doing the work of smugglers spreading misinformation to make a quick buck off of vulnerable migrants. We will continue to fully enforce our immigration laws and work to expand illegal pathways for migration while discouraging disorderly and unsafe migration.

Now for some time now, the Department of Homeland Security has been preparing for this possibility. They released a bit of their plan earlier this week which includes surging personnel and resources down to the border to help with some of this processing. They are also creating some temporary facilities that would help process those migrants in addition to trying to ramp up ground and air transportation as Ed mentioned, to try to transport and process and remove these migrants.

But right now, the Biden administration is certainly facing a challenge in the coming days. And one thing that they have asked congress for is more than $3 billion of border security funding in preparation for Title 42. But ultimately, when you talk to officials here, they feel that the answer to fixing these problems is comprehensive immigration reform and they've urged congress to act on that.

Of course, over the years there have been many efforts to try to get immigration reform done, but it hasn't quite gotten across the finish line. But certainly, this administration is staring down a very steep challenge coming this Wednesday and, in the weeks, ahead.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz at the White House. Thanks so much. All right. Still to come. Respiratory illness is surging across the U.S. What the CDC is urging Americans to do now to stop the spread.

Plus, in Idaho, over a month after the brutal deaths of four college students, investigators are sifting through information on tens of thousands of cars. We'll tell you what they're looking for straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: Federal health officials are warning about a triple threat this holiday season. Influenza, RSV and COVID-19. The flu spreading with 15 million cases reported so far. And while CDC data shows influenza hospitalizations have finally dropped. Officials say it's not a sign that the virus has peaked. All but seven states still have high or very high respiratory virus activity, prompting health officials to encourage everyone to get the latest vaccines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ASHISH JHA, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 RESPONSE COORDINTOR: We've got terrific vaccines against both flu and COVID. So, we can do a lot here. This -- we are not helpless or this is not a cause for concern. And to me, it's a cause for action. The message here is what happens in the weeks and months ahead is largely dependent on us.


WHITFIELD: CNN Gloria Pazmino joining me now with more details on this. So, Gloria, what are we learning from the data? How many people actually, you know, have gotten their flu shots, for example this year?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the data is concerning if we consider that the health department puts a target that at least 70 percent of people get those flu vaccines. So far in the season, only 40 percent of adults and 46 percent of children have gotten their flu shot. And as you heard there from federal officials, they are really encouraging people to get not just a flu shot but also the COVID vaccination as well as the booster.


All of this so important as we gear up to really go into the full swing of the holidays season. A lot of people have not gathered for the past two years or so. And people really hoping that this would be the year that we could do it safely and without having to worry. But now we have this triple threat that you are talking about. RSV, the flu, and COVID. But as federal officials are pointing out, there are some solutions in the toolbox and they want people to use them.

People should be testing early. People should be vaccinating and they should be wearing masks when indoors. Now I do want to put the numbers up just to give it some context of just how much flu we are seeing this season. So far more than 15 million people have become ill as a result of the flu. 150,000 hospitalizations and 9300 deaths. And just to put that in historical context spread, those numbers have not been this high in at least a decade.

And as you said, we haven't quite peaked yet. So how is the federal government responding? Well, they are encouraging people to vaccinate, but they're also once again now offering those free-at-home tests. And Fred, it's really simple to do it. I did it yesterday, you go online, you put in your name, your address, and you will get those four tests sent directly to your home. The experts that we've been hearing from here have been telling us it's not a bad idea to take that test right before you go out and gather with your family just to be on the safe side.

WHITFIELD: That's smart being proactive. All right. Gloria Pazmino, thanks so much.

All right. It has now been more than a month since the brutal killings of four college students in Idaho and police say they're shifting -- they're sifting rather through thousands of potential leads. Investigators say they're now looking into 22,000 registered white Hyundai Elantras after one was spotted near the residence the night of the attacks. But the parents of the victims are very frustrated saying police are not communicating with them on the investigation.

CNN's Camila Bernal is following the case for us. Camila, what leads our detectives working with?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, as far as we know, the focus continues to be that white Hyundai Elantra that was made between 2011 and 2013. We have not heard of any other leads, frankly, any other information or new information on this case. Authorities have been very tight lipped. And that's where a lot of the frustration comes from. Tomorrow will be five weeks since this attack happened.

And clearly there's still so much to be done here. You mentioned 22,000 registered white Hyundai Elantras that match that search criteria. Well, police also saying the receiving many, many new tips, calls videos, people wanting to speak about that white Hyundai Elantra. The problem is that we do not know if any of these tips or any of this new information is leading them any closer to the killer.

Look, these families say that they have hope that they are optimistic that police will eventually find the person responsible but they're demanding a little bit more. They say they want information. They say they want accountability. The Goncalves's family, Kaylee Goncalves's family speaking out through their attorney saying they support the police. But yet they really are expecting more from authorities, here's their attorney.


SHANON GRAY, GONCALVES FAMILY ATTORNEY: Trust us is really been the thing. Trust us. We're making the right decision. Trust us. Well, you know, that only goes so far.


BERNAL: And the attorney also saying that the families have not received any new information. They're really left with so many questions more than a month later. And so instead, they're focusing on a new service that they're planning. This is a celebration of life. That's what they're calling it. It will be to honor Kaylee Goncalves and her best friend, Maddie Mogen. This will be held at the end of the month at Lake City Church in Idaho.

Again, these are families that are grieving, and that have been left with no information and frankly, it is an entire community that is frustrated and is so scared as they wait for police to give any details or any sign that they're getting any closer to finding the person responsible, Fred.

WHITFIELD: These families are going through way too much. Camila Bernal, thanks so much.

BERNAL: Thank you. WHITFIELD: All right. The father of the man accused in a deadly July 4th parade shooting rampage was in court today. Prosecutors are charging Robert Crimo Jr. with seven counts of felony reckless conduct. He turned himself in to police and in a bond hearing just a short time ago, a judge said his bond at $50,000.


Prosecutors say he signed off on the firearm owners' identification card for his son Robert Cromo III who confessed to opening fire on a crowd in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven people and injuring 48 others. If convicted, Cromo Jr. faces up to three years in prison.

All right. Coming up. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer saying President Biden should run for a second term in 2024. They sat down with CNN for an exclusive interview. What they told us next.



WHITFIELD: All right. The two most powerful people in congress can finish each other's sentences and say that they're more like family than colleagues. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sat down with CNN Jamie Gangel in an exclusive interview this week and share war stories over Chinese food. From all the way back to 1957 when they were introduced by Schumer's roommate.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I do want to get dumplings.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Hot and sour soup. That's what I was going to have. A nice bowl of soup on a cold day.

PELOSI: There you go.

GANGEL: You actually first met at a meal like this in 1987?

SCHUMER: Correct. And it's like January. And George Miller, who was my roommate, my landlord, he said, there's a new person joining our group. Her name is Nancy Pelosi. She's the new congress member from San Francisco. And she -- he -- before I met her, she will become the first woman speaker. That's what he said. God's honest truth.

PELOSI: He was right. But what was interesting --

SCHUMER: Yes. She didn't know I was right.

GANGEL: Who really knew the first time?

SCHUMER: Well, I knew she would really be a force.

PELOSI: Whatever that might be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEFMALE: Would you like to put some appetizers?

SCHUMER: So, I'll have an order of shrimp dumplings.


SCHUMER: And then I'll have some string beans.

GANGEL: Talk to me about your relationship. The two of you finish each other's sentences. You're on the phone constantly. 4-5 --

SCHUMER: 4-5-7-3-0-1 I'm not going to say the last four digits.

PELOSI: Oh please.

GANGEL: You know everybody's phone number.

SCHUMER: (INAUDIBLE) I probably dial hers more than just about anyone other than people in my family.

PELOSI: Here's the thing, I say this all the time. He has -- what do you call that phone?

SCHUMER: Flip phone.

PELOSI: A flip phone. If he had a regular smartphone, we could reduce the number of conversations because I could just text him.

GANGEL: How would you describe your relationship? You're called the power couple. You're called an odd couple --

SCHUMER: Yes. We're close friends. It's almost like brother and sister a little bit.

PELOSI: That's right.

GANGEL: When you disagree, who wins?

SCHUMER: Usually her.

PELSOI: No, no. When we disagree, then we end the conversation. And we know we're going to come back --


SCHUMER: We had a pretty tough one a week ago. Right? What was it about?

GANGEL: What was it about?

SCHUMER: I don't remember.

PELOSI: I don't remember what it was, but it was -- shall we say candid.

SCHUMER: Candid. Yes.

GANGEL: I want to talk about how the two of you navigated working with former President Trump. Because he --

SCHUMER: We had a good time.

GANGEL: He famously nicknamed the two of you, Chuck and Nancy. Right? It was always Chuck and Nancy. I think you both knew that Speaker Pelosi got under his skin.


GANGEL: Right?


GANGEL: Was there a strategy when you went in to a meeting? Was there a good cop, bad cop?

PELOSI: He's just inaugurated. This is an historic moment. The President of the United States. So, I'm thinking how was he going to begin? Is he going to quote, the constitution, American history, poet, the bible? You know, I won the popular vote.

SCHUMER: So, he started.

PELOSI: And I said, Mr. President, that's just not true.

SCHUMER: We sort of set him up instinctively. We didn't plan this. Everyone thought we planned it out. It was about the government shutdown, the first time. And Nancy said something to him about he didn't understand what -- about women. So, what --

PELOSI: Chuck was masterful.

SCHUMER: Well --

PELOSI: He was masterful.

SCHUMER: She set him up, so I could go in for the kill.

PELOSI: No, but he was masterful. He's talking to him about the government shutdown at about immigrants in north. And he says, I have take ownership of the shutdown.

SCHUMER: No, I said, so Mr. President, you'll own -- will you own the shutdown? Yes, I will. And that was --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's your shrimp dumplings.

SCHUMER: Oh, thank you very much.

GANGEL: There were a series of moments that you saw firsthand. There's the clap. There's tearing up the speech. And then there is the famous picture. It's the meeting in the Cabinet Room, where you stood up and confronted. Looking back at those moments, what was going through your mind?

SCHUMER: He said, he doesn't stand a chance. He doesn't know what he's up against. I tell people, Nancy instinctively knew how to handle Trump. Because for her first, you know, 35, 40 years of life, she raised five children, and she knew how to deal with children. And that's what helped her deal with Trump because he ultimately was a child.

PELOSI: We had different approach. Chuck, as a New Yorker.

SCHUMER: Brooklyn.


PELOSI: Brooklyn. So they spoke their own kind of -- they understood each other.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: January 6th, there's extraordinary footage of the two of you being evacuated. What was it like that day?

PELOSI: It was horrible. I mean, it was horrible.

SCHUMER: It was frightening. People are invading the capitol. We were both worried that our own members, the Senators in my Senate, the people in her House, what was happening to them because they whisked us off to this other place.

For a while, cell phone service didn't happen. It was just frightening.

GANGEL: Did you try to reach out to the president himself?

SCHUMER: Yes. They wouldn't put in on -- the attorney general, the acting, I think it was acting attorney general, he wouldn't put him on.

GANGEL: He wouldn't take your calls?

SCHUMER: The president wouldn't. That's correct.

PELOSI: I think you see in some of the film how firm Chuck was with calling the governors, the mayors, the secretaries.

And we were telling -- the secretary of the Army, the attorney general. The secretary of the Army was supposed -- it's really a tragedy that they did not send the National Guard earlier.

SCHUMER: They were sort of afraid to act. Trump had so intimidated everybody. You could never tell him the truth. You could never contradict him.

Have some Peking Duck. It's good.


SCHUMER: I'm eating too much.

GANGEL: There's a CNN poll that just came out that shows there's little appetite on both sides for a Biden/Trump rematch in 2024.

You're stepping aside. Do you think President Biden should step aside for a younger generation?

PELOSI: I think President Biden has done an excellent job as president of the United States. I hope that he does seek re-election. He's been a great president.

SCHUMER: Look at what he's accomplished.

GANGEL: You think he should run again?

SCHUMER: Yes. He's done an excellent, excellent job. And he runs, I'm going to support him all the way.

GANGEL: Right now, Donald Trump is the only Republican who is announced. He could be the nominee. He could be president again.

You've been through the first presidency. You've been through January 6th. What would it mean if Donald Trump was re-elected president?

SCHUMER: I don't think it will happen. The American people have gotten wise to him. Took a little while, but they did.

PELOSI: I don't think that we should talk about him while we're eating.



PELOSI: Really? Another Trump presidency?

GANGEL: You called Donald Trump, quote, "insane."

PELOSI: I think there's a need for an intervention there by his family or somebody. You know, I don't think he's on the level though.


WHITFIELD: All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks for taking us to lunch with those two. That was tremendous.

Still to come, from wildfires to hurricanes, weather events are becoming bigger, stronger, and more destructive. Is the climate crisis changing the way tornadoes behave? I'll discuss that with an extreme weather and climate researcher.



WHITFIELD: Right now, more than five million people in parts of the Midwest and the northeast are under winter weather alerts as powerful storm marches east.

The nor'easter dumped nearly two feet of snow in several states in New England, leaving thousands without power. And officials are warning dangerous travel conditions during this final weekend before Christmas.

CNN meteorologist, Allison Chinchar, joining us.

Allison, more heavy snow on the way? And after that, bitter cold?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Bitter, bitter, bitter cold. Yes, the first week of winter this week as the astronomical winter season kicks off, and it's going to feel like it for a lot of people.

You have that cold air already in place across portions of the northern tier. And we're still dealing with some of the lingering snow showers that don't want to seem to leave, especially across areas of Maine and New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

You also have some lake-effect snow for portions of Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan as that wind continues to remain strong.

Now, in most of these areas, widespread snowfalls likely still to pick up an additional two to six inches. But the heaviest amounts going forward are going to be in those lake-effect bands across Upstate New York and Pennsylvania where even as much as a foot of additional snow is still possible in the coming hours.

We talked about that cold air in place across the northern tier, but it's really going to spread out and south in the coming days. Really, by the time we get to the end of the week at some point, about 80 percent of the population is looking at temperatures at or below the freezing mark.

So that just goes to show you how many people will likely be impacted.

Now we talked about it starts in the north. Take Fargo, for example. The high temperature on Sunday, four degrees. But it gets even colder than that. Look at Tuesday. The high temperature is only expected to be minus-five.

When you factor in the wind, that windchill will likely be around that minus-25 range, so very bitter cold. Frostbite at those kinds of temperatures can set in in less than 30 minutes.

Once it starts here, it will continue to spread off to the east. So even some southern cities, say, like Atlanta, for example, into the 50s on Thursday.

But then the bottom drops out. By the time we get to Friday, those high temperatures are only expected to be into the mid-20s.

And then it begins to stretch even farther south. Florida also being impacted once we get toward next weekend.

So, again, those colder temperatures, Fred, will start to filter in, not just for the usual places but also some other areas as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. Allison Chinchar, I'm going to relabel that not-bitter temperatures. I mean, that's downright mean temperatures. Intolerable.



WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.

So this storm that is bearing down on the northeast this weekend is part of the same weather system that ravaged the southeast this week, spawning deadly tornadoes and causing widespread power outages. It was brutal.

At least 50 tornado reports have been made across seven states, including two confirmed twisters in the New Orleans area.

From wildfires to hurricane, weather events are becoming bigger, stronger, more destructive, and most have had a direct link to the effect of a warming planet. But for tornadoes, that link is a little less clear.

Joining us right now is Victor Gensini, a tornado expert and professor at Northern Illinois University.

Professor, so great to see you.


WHITFIELD: Wonderful.

So why is it so difficult to connect tornadoes to the climate crisis?

GENSINI: Great question. It's really their small scale. Think of the size of a hurricane, like Hurricane Ian that hit Florida earlier this year, very large storm, kind of easier to track, easier to forecast.

These tornadoes, like what happened on tuesday and Wednesday -- again, as you mentioned, nearly two dozen injuries, three confirmed fatalities -- they're very small scale in the big picture of weather.

And their small-scale nature makes them very difficult to detect, track, and then attribute to how a warming climate may impact their frequency or where they occur.

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

So in December of last year, who can forget, you know, the violent tornado outbreak that ripped across eight states killing 57 people.

You call it one of the most remarkable tornadic events in U.S. history. And I think most of us felt that way, too. But from the scientist point of view, why do you label it that way.

GENSINI: Yes. That's right. It was about a year ago today that I was with you on CNN talking about the Mayfield, Kentucky, tornado and how remarkable that tornado was.

Crossing several states and producing, you know, significant damage, F-4 damage, and also lots of injuries and fatalities.

It's those types of events that remind us, regardless of what the calendar says, December, January, February, that these tornados can occur in December.

In fact, we get about 30 to 35 tornados across the United States on average in December. And we've already exceeded that number this December.

That's just a small fraction, right, of the total number of tornados we see every year in the U.S., which is 1,200.

WHITFIELD: And so when talking to CNN for a piece on, you actually used an interesting analogy -- dice -- a dice analogy --


WHITFIELD: -- to explain, you know, how the change in climate impacts extreme weather.

Explain that. What do you mean?

GENSINI: That's right, Fred. I actually have a pair right here to sort of explain this.

So, if I were to change one of these sixes on this pair of dice you see, you know, change a five to a six, that would alter the probability or the likelihood that I would achieve rolling a 12.

And that's exactly what climate change is doing. It's helping to alter the probability that we see these severe weather events like tornados.

Now, it's not the only factor, right. We could still roll a 12 if we didn't change a five to a six. But it's changing that.

And it's also a change in what we humans do. Our cities are growing larger, right? So we're increasing the footprint, the bull's eye that these tornadoes and storms can hit.

And the result is exactly what we saw this week on Tuesday and Wednesday.

WHITFIELD: So there are some other changes, too. A real shift in tornado frequency from what's traditionally known as Tornado Alley, the central and southern Great Plains to the Midwest and southeast.

Why is that potentially the case? GENSINI: Yes. Tornado Alley is a little bit of a loaded term. You

know, a lot of us think of the movie, you know, "Twister" or, you know, you think of Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz" and you think of Kansas and Texas and Oklahoma.

I think people kind of believe this is where tornadoes occur. It shouldn't be happening in new Orleans or Mississippi or Georgia. And that's just not the case.

If you look over the last four years, in fact, the number of tornados in the Great Plains has gone down. And it's gone up in places like Tupelo and Memphis and Atlanta. Even up here in Chicago.

We're not exactly sure what's causing that. It could be a fingerprint of climate change. It could also just be natural environment and sort of a cycle that we're in.

But it's an important trend. Because if we see more tornadoes in the middle Mississippi Valley and midsouth, like what we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday, we have more people living east of the Mississippi River, right?

And then we'll start seeing more and more of these disasters like we have seen in the past 10 or 15 years.


WHITFIELD: Very perplexing but fascinating hearing from you.

Victor Gensini, thank you so much, Professor, for being with us again.

GENSINI: Thanks, Fred. Good to see you.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, Croatia defeats Morocco to win the FIFA World Cup Bronze Medal. That's straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right. Morocco's historic World Cup run ends in defeat as Croatia takes third in today's playoff match.

Let's bring in CNN's Patrick Snell.

Patrick, it took Croatia seven minutes to open scoring. And I'm trying to intimate my voice with what the fans are feeling, like Morrocco, doggone it. But Croatia is like, oh my gosh, this is so exciting.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN ANCHOR, "WORLD SPORT": Two great story lines. Morrocco making history as the first African nation to get to the World Cup.

Buit tributes as well to Croatia. And 2018 finalists as well. They got the job done on Saturday. Incredible. A Bronze Medal finish for them. There was a flurry of early goals in this one as well. Breaking the

deadlock after, as you said, seven minutes of play. This doesn't happen often in the beautiful game.

Two minutes later, leveling for Atlas Lions. Morocco has been so inspiring throughout this tournament. Wonderful to see.

But best goal of the match coming shortly before the half-time break. Check out the curl on that. Superb.

Outstanding finish, 2-1, Croatia, the final score. They take third place. They were third place finishers at France 1998 tournament.

Incredible stuff for a nation with a population, Fred, of less than four million people. Incredible.

WHITFIELD: It's stunning. Incredible.

So, tomorrow, drumbeat. We will see a different kind of gymnastics on the field. Because it's Argentina, against the defending champs, France. What are you anticipating?

SNELL: I can't wait for this one. So excited about this one. This is one many football fans wanted. Just because you have that superstar matchup between a certain Lionel Messi and Mbappe.

A plot twist alert. They are club teammates in Paris. Paris-Saint Germain teammates as well.

So a bit of a challenging moment for the French national team in the buildup, Fred, to this one because there was an outbreak of sickness and some players battling colds. But they did have some encouraging news for those players reporting back to the starter training today.

But the narrative going into this one is Lionel Massi has revealed in the buildup to the tournament, Fred, that this will be, at the age of 35, his last World Cup. His last chance to win it. Through to final in August, the last day.

He went through the pain of defeat in 2014 when they lost in the final in Rio.


WHITFIELD: He wants it bad.

SNELL: Yes, he wants -- this is personal for him, Fred.

And let's check in now with some sound from his international manager on how they are trying to deliver the perfect sendoff for that man, Messi. Take a listen.


LIONEL SCALONI, ARGENTINA COACH (through translation): Regarding what Lionel Messi said about this being his last game, let's hope had this one we could win the cup. That would be great.

The most important thing is to enjoy it. And there's no better scenario for it than a World Cup final.


SNELL: Fred, did I hear you say the word prediction?

WHITFIELD: Yes. And your prediction?

SNELL: Is either Argentina to win it or maybe France.


WHITFIELD: OK. Fair enough.


WHITFIELD: It's going to be exciting. I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing you throughout the building.

SNELL: Our sports department is only just down the way.

WHITFIELD: Right, I know. But I'm going to be hearing you floors up. It will be exciting. And then we will see you on the set.

SNELL: Right. Absolutely.


SNELL: We'll be here to see you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Patrick Snell, good to see you. Thanks so much.

WNBA star, Brittney Griner, is back in Arizona planning her future after leaving a military medical facility in Texas.

She released a new statement on social media to her supporters saying she intends to return to basketball with the Pheonix Mercury next season and work to free those who are also still wrongfully detained outside the U.S.

Here's CNN's Abby Phillip.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing from Brittney Griner for the first time since he WNBA star returned home from detention in Russia.

She had spent about a week in San Antonio, Texas, where she's been recovering and receiving a psychological and emotional support from the team of trained individuals associated with the Department of Defense.

And while she could have stayed there longer, the fact that she was able to go home on Friday morning is a sign that she is feeling good, feeling strong, and healthy, and was ready to return home.

She issued a statement really thanking everyone involved in this effort in bringing her home. It is quite a lot of people.

But beginning with President Biden, her wife, Cherelle, and many other activists and U.S. officials who played a role behind the scenes and in public in advocating on her behalf.

But one of the aspects of the statement that was incredibly notable was that Griner announced that she would be returning to basketball.

Now, this was a huge question that faced her as she went into the spring. Would she go back to play for the Pheonix Mercury.

And she said in this statement that she will. She wants to be able to thank her fans and to thank her teammates who really put her case at the top of their priority list.


She also had this to say to President Biden about Paul Whelan, another American who remains in Russia.

She said, "President Biden, when you brought me home -- and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan home and all Americans, too.

I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. I will also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole."

And I'm told by Griner's family and agent that this is really key to where she is right now. She is really focused on how she can use her platform to help others.

But especially, Paul Whelan who, for so long, his fate was viewed as being intertwined with hers, But he remains imprisoned in Russia. Not clear yet what it will take to get him released from prison.

Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Still more to come. Cities along the U.S./Mexico border preparing for an increase in migrants as the Trump-era policy known as Title 42 is set to expire Wednesday. We'll take you live to both sides of the border, next.