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Elon Musk Offers Banned Journalists Reinstatement With Conditions; Georgia Special Grandy Jury Winds Down Trump Investigation; Migrant Crossings Surge Ahead Of The End Of Title 42; Four People Killed Following Russia's Latest Wave Of Attacks; Former UPS Driver Helps Evacuate Civilians In Ukraine's War Zone; U.S. Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough; Superstars Messi And Mbappe Go Head-To-Head In Final; Croatia Defeats Morocco 2-1 To Finish Third At World Cup. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 16:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

First, he bans several prominent journalists from Twitter. Now, Elon Musk says they can return to Twitter but there are conditions. Musk tweeted late last night the people have spoken, and posted this poll, which once again falsely claimed a journalist doxed his location or shared his exact real-time location. That didn't happen.

More than half voted in favor of immediately restoring the accounts while accounts of some of the other journalists who were suspended are now publicly viewable again on Twitter. They cannot actually post anything until they delete tweets that Musk claims violate Twitter rules by sharing his location. Again they did not share his location.

CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is one the journalists who was suspended and has not agreed to Musk's condition, and he joins us now.

Donie, help us out here. You have decided to appeal this decision. How does that work? Is Musk like the judge in all of this? Is he like Judge Judy?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly seems like that is the case, Jim. Look, this saga seems to be dragging out quite a bit but of course it is important because, you know, while Twitter is a private company, Musk can do whatever he wants, he's also claiming that he is a kind of free speech absolutist. So to be going around banning journalists that might be critical of him or just reports on him, is a bit rich.

I want to show you what happens now if I log in to my account. I think we have an image of it here. It's basically a demand to remove something I tweeted earlier in the week, which was talking about how Elon had banned an account of a competitor, an emerging competitor to Twitter called Mastodon, and in that I included a link to their account. And if you followed that link, you could eventually make your way to the jet tracking account. So at the moment, I decided to appeal it because, you know, I haven't

broken Twitter's new rules. So we'll see what happens but I'm not too confident given the current regime running Twitter.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. And Donie, one of the other journalists has described this whole situation as absurd. We talked to Steve Herman in the last hour. It doesn't sound like he is going to comply with these demands. It's sort of like the modern-day equivalent of Surrender Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz." But can share your thoughts on what has transpired? And this whole idea of sharing real-time locations and so on. Can you help our viewers understand this, why that was not going on and why he would make that kind of accusation?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. Jim, you know, if you or I owned a private jet, I don't think we'd love the idea of people being able to track us either. But, you know, look, this is publicly available information. Again, back to the point, we didn't actually share his live coordinates or I think he called them assassination coordinates.

ACOSTA: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: Look, the whole thing is a bit absurd. I think it gives us all pause as to wonder, as journalists, why maybe, you know, do we want to even go back on this platform? Why do we spend so much on it? What are the alternatives? But, look, I do think very important point here is, you know, I have a platform. I'm talking to you on CNN right now. I can use other social media that's preferred.

You know, a lot of independent freelance journalists around the world, particularly outside of the U.S., they need to be on Twitter to get work and to find work and to publish their work. So the chilling effect that this might have on them and also, by the way, people who cover Musk's other companies, like SpaceX and Tesla, we've seen over the past 24 hours, Linette Lopez who has covered Musk for a long time also getting banned. It's not clear why she was banned. So the precedent isn't good here.

ACOSTA: Certainly not. And banning journalists, it just doesn't work. It always backfires.

Donie O'Sullivan, thank you very much. Hang in there. We appreciate it.

And this just in to CNN. The report from the Georgia special grand jury investigating Trump and his allies' efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in that state could be coming soon.

CNN's Sara Murray joins me now on the phone. Sara, what more are you learning?


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, Jim, we're learning that the grand jury, that special grand jury in Georgia that's been hearing from witnesses, collecting documents, they are winding down their work. So they have heard from nearly all the witnesses that they plan to hear from. They are already working on writing their final report because it's a special grand jury.

It works a little bit different than the normal grand jury we're used to. It can't actually issue an indictment so what the grand jurors do is they get together, they write their final report, and they come up with a recommendation for the district attorney there, Fani Willis, essentially saying, you know, here's who we think should be charged criminally and then she can take that report and go to a regular grand jury and seek these indictments.

So this is important because it signals we are about to shift into the next phase of this investigation. The phase where the district attorney is going to have to decide who do I want to bring criminal charges against? What kind of case do I think can survive in court? And then decide whether she is going to go seek those indictments. You know, that's coming at a time when we know that Donald Trump is already facing, you know, potential legal jeopardy.

He's under scrutiny by the Justice Department for his handling of classified documents after he left the White House as well as for everything that happened around January 6th. So the case in Georgia is interesting. She's been at it for well over a year. She got started right after Donald Trump called Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, and asked Raffensperger to find the votes needed for Trump to win the election.

So they're now looking at sort of winding down the investigative phase and leading to the phase of, OK, do we bring criminal charges?

ACOSTA: And Sara, on Monday, the January 6th Committee will be holding its final public hearing. And you are learning there may be some major announcements. What can you tell us?

MURRAY: That's right. We are learning from a source familiar with the matter that the committee is expected to refer criminal charges to the Justice Department for Donald Trump. And we know of three at least. One of them is insurrection, one is obstruction of an official proceeding, and one is conspiracy to commit fraud of the federal government. Now there could be more. But those are the three that we're learning about so far.

And again, this is not binding. The Justice Department doesn't have to do what this committee asks them to do. But it is significant because the lawmakers on the committee feel like there is evidence of wrongdoing. Essentially they believe there's evidence that Donald Trump committed these crimes and maybe other ones. And they're going to lay that out in their public hearing on Monday then essentially urge the Justice Department to take action.

What I've been talking to members of the committee about is they said they couldn't just turn a blind eye to what they felt was evidence of criminal activity. They felt those were for the historical record and for the Justice Department, if they want to put it all on the table before they wind down their work.

ACOSTA: All right. Sara Murray, we're all going to be watching that. We know you, as well. Thank you so much for that live report. We appreciate it. Thanks for the update.

Joining us now, CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, and special correspondent for "Vanity Fair," Molly Jong-Fast. She also hosts the podcast "Fast Politics."

Molly, I want to ask you about all these Trump investigations in a moment. But let's go back to Elon Musk and this 180 that he's doing. I mean, I guess it's almost a 180. He's sort of holding these Twitter accounts hostage a little bit at this point until they meet his demands. What kind of a world are we living in where Elon Musk is happy to restore the accounts of Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene and folks like that but people like, you know, Donie O'Sullivan are getting suspended just for doing their jobs?

MOLLY JONG-FAST, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: Well, you know, he's a capricious billionaire. And that's what capricious billionaires do. I mean, I think he's going to have trouble getting people who are going to want to go to mars with him now because I think he seems like a person who just is operating by his own rules. Of course, it is a private company. He owns it. You know, he can, theoretically, do whatever he wants.

I mean, ultimately, I think there was a choice, really, to run Twitter like a public utility, which would, I think, have been much better than to, you know, right now Twitter is just run completely by the whims of Elan Musk. But it is still within his rights theoretically.

ACOSTA: Yes. S.E., Elon Musk didn't mind writing "Prosecute Fauci" or a fake CNN headline. But it's a different story when it's about him. I mean, is there any other way to read this than Elon Musk is being thin-skinned? I mean, perhaps he should rename Twitter flake-X.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, no one should be surprised that Elon Musk is a bit insecure and also punitive. I mean, long before he owns Twitter, he showed how punitive he could be at his other companies, when, you know, employees ran afoul of him. So, you know, no one should be surprised that this is how he's wielding and weaponizing Twitter both against Twitter users and Twitter employees. But what's really sad about this is not that he's like picking on us, like picking on journalists.


We'll be fine, we'll outlive Twitter. And journalism will survive Twitter. But what's sad is that for all of the bad stuff that Twitter had going on, the platforming hate, disinformation, cyber bullying, one thing that was always really good about Twitter was the way it platformed journalism. Good journalism and news telling. And that really changed the world. It helped democratize access to news.

We only knew of stories going on, you know, quote-unquote, "over there" because journalists could platform it on Twitter. And so journalism made Twitter better. And Twitter I think in many ways made journalism better and more accessible. So, to crap on, you know, the thing that was maybe the most successful part of Twitter, just seems like really bad business. But also, just, it's really a shame. If journalists leave Twitter, I think Twitter will be worse off for it.

ACOSTA: Yes. And it's almost not even silencing journalism. It's silencing criticism.

CUPP: That's right.

ACOSTA: And I think that is -- you know, it's what Donald Trump tried to do, what the White House. Now Elon Musk is trying to do it at Twitter.

And Molly, speaking of Trump, because he made this announcement out of the blue that he was debuting these digital trading cards, I mean, let's go through this. Depicting him as a cowboy, an astronaut, a superhero. And here was the reaction on late night.


JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT HOST: Even the most die-hard Trump supporters are like, OK, now I'm worried. OK. This is --

SETH MEYERS, LATE NIGHT HOST: Former President Trump is releasing a collection of digital trading cards that chronicle his life and career like that time he won the Super Bowl or that time he won NASCAR or that time he went to space and didn't need a helmet.

FALLON: Even the MyPillow guy is going, I think Trump has lost it. OK? If you saw that at 2:00 a.m., would you be like, am I having an Ambien dream? This is --

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT HOST: Look at this. It's like QAnon meets QVC. It really is.


ACOSTA: Yes. It sort of remind me of that Instagram versus reality, especially when it comes to the six-pack abs there. But, Molly, even big Trump allies like Steve Bannon aren't on board with this.

JONG-FAST: Well, Trump has had a long history of selling the Trump brand for anything he can. Steaks, water, I mean, hotels, you know, ties, hats. I mean, that's kind of what he does. So this is not so surprising to me. I mean, what's sort of hilarious about it is it's so late into the game. And also, a lot of people, Trump allies had thought Trump was going to, you know, announce a bid for speakership or play some 13 dimensional chess and announce that Kari Lake was going to be his vice president. But instead, he was announcing that he was offering more products, Trump-branded products.

ACOSTA: Yes. It's not three-dimensional chess. It's more like Pokemon cards, I mean, basically?

S.E., and we would be remiss if we did not mention that the collection did sell out or at least that's --

CUPP: Yes.

ACOSTA: That's what we're told. I mean, who really knows? But what do Republicans think of all this?

CUPP: Well, as you pointed out, you know, folks like Steve Bannon I think are a little embarrassed about this. I'd be more embarrassed about like the racism and bigotry and antisemitism and sexism, but here we are. But yes, it's a cheap -- it just looks cheap, it looks desperate, it's kind of a joke. As Molly said it's a little late in the game for NFTs. And you're running for president, for crying out loud. Enough with the cheap gimmicks.

But this is, in addition to what Molly was saying about the steaks and the ties and the water and whatever, grifting off of his supporters has also been something that Trump has always done. And just, you know, taken their money any way that he can. And so this is just yet another way of taking people's money.

ACOSTA: He has been innovative in that regard. And Molly, on Monday, it'll be all eyes on the January 6th Committee. Possible criminal referrals for Donald Trump. Sources telling CNN they include obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States. Do you expect that the final report is going to have the impact that the committee hopes? Might folks be getting their hopes up in all of this? Because ultimately it's going to be up to the Justice Department to decide what happens here.

JONG-FAST: Well, it seems like the Justice Department also has a pretty good case with the documents case. And now they have a special prosecutor. I think with the January 6th Committee, as we've seen through the lens of the midterms, it actually ended up being very successful at convincing the American people that Trump's crimes actually did matter. So I think that whatever they suggest, you know, ultimately, it's sort of a footnote at this point.

But I do think that -- I think it will be useful for people to see what's really happened. And Trump does seem very -- and again, you don't want to ever count him out because that's -- you know, in 2015 he was polling at 1 percent. But he certainly seems deflated.


ACOSTA: Yes, I think so. And S.E., also important, Sara Murray was just reporting this a few moments ago, the Georgia special grand jury is winding down its investigation into Trump and could release its reports soon.

For many people, the Georgia investigation is the one that had folks asking, what more do you need to hear other than Trump on the phone asking Georgia secretary of state to find the 11,780 votes needed to defeat Biden? Really strong arming the Georgia secretary of state. And I've talked to Trump advisers who have said, you know, this is the investigation that actually worries him. What do you think?

CUPP: Yes. If you talk to -- and I know you have legal, you know, experts on all the time. And if you talk to them, this is the one that they say has the clearest evidence. You know, sedition is real hard to prove. This seems to be a bit clearer. And so I think, if you are in Trump's orbit, you're real worried about this one. And it's one of many. You know, as you know, that are going on. So it could be a sort of domino effect, you know, going forward. We'll see if Trump will finally be held accountable for something.

ACOSTA: All right. Very good. S.E. Cupp, Molly Jong-Fast, thanks so much, ladies. We appreciate the time.

CUPP: Thanks.

ACOSTA: Great to see you.

All right, a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the southern border. Every day thousands of migrants are braving freezing conditions to seek asylum in the United States. Their journey is putting a strain on the border towns that are receiving them. And this influx could get even harder to manage after federal appeals court paved the way for the end of Title 42. That's the pandemic-era policy that allows border officials to turn migrants away, unless the Supreme Court steps in.

CNN's Gustavo Valdes is on the Mexico side of the southern border. He joins us from Ciudad Juarez.

Gustavo, what are you seeing? I can see some folks behind you right now. This is an ongoing situation that you're keeping tabs on.

GUSTAVO VALDES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this is something we've seen for two days. You see those people over there. It took him a matter of seconds to cross what the little part of the Rio Grande here. They take their shoes off. Those who want to keep them dry when they come across. They get over there and then it's just a few steps up this hill to wait to that makeshift fence.

It wasn't here long ago. This was built after an incident, a few weeks back, where a large number of migrants tried to rush into the states. You see on the right, there's the border, the official borderline. The rest is new construction. And all day, we've seen people waiting there to be taken in by the Border Patrol. We might not be seeing the long lines from days ago. But now, we've seen easily hundreds all day long.

And here to our right, somebody just decided to go a different way. Somebody came and told them that it was easier to do it this way. A couple just trying to get to the other side. Most of the people we've talked to today have been Venezuelans. Many of them have just gotten off from a bus after a long bus ride from southern Mexico. They get here and they want to try their luck. Some get to the front of the line. They talk to the agent and the agent tells them that this is not the time. That it might be better to wait until Wednesday.

So we talk about misinformation. People think that after Title 42 ends next Wednesday, it might be an open gate for everybody. That seems to be the message. I don't know if they're trying to discourage the people from entering altogether or just telling them to wait until Wednesday. But the migrants are telling us the Border Patrol are telling them to wait until Wednesday, otherwise they could be deported from other points of entries.

They could end up in McAllen, they could end up in Tijuana. And that is something that many are not trying to risk right now. There is a lot of misinformation. We hear people here telling the Venezuelans, the Cubans, that it's OK to get in because the U.S. has no good relationship with those countries. Hence, they cannot deport them back because they would not be taken by other countries.

Some they said they want to take their chances. And others, the worst thing for them to happen is to be sent back to their countries of origin. They want to try their luck here, where city officials in Juarez are seeing something they say hadn't seen before. They've seen the deportees come over but not this large number of migrants. And they expect that there are thousands of people waiting for Wednesday.

ACOSTA: All right. Gustavo Valdes, Thank you very much. We know you're going to keep an eye on it. We appreciate that very much.


Coming up, Russian missiles rain down on central Ukraine, killing four people including an 18-month-old toddler. An American who has been working to rescue civilians caught in the cross fire joins me next.


ACOSTA: Russian missiles are slamming down again in residential parts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Explosions rattled residential neighborhoods and knocked out power and running water in several cities Kyiv, Odessa and Kharkiv. Four people were killed, including an 18-month-old boy whose body was pulled from the rubble.

CNN's Will Ripley is in Odessa.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Ukraine's power grid is still really limping along here. The power, the water, the heat. And this is, you know, more than 24 hours after this attack that paralyzed much of this country.


When Russia lobbed some 76 missiles, they shot down 60 of them. But 60 of those missiles did hit their targets. The hardest hit area being Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine where there were just heartbreaking scenes. A young family with their very young child being pulled from underneath the destroyed, you know, pieces of rocks that was their home.

I mean, these Russian missiles, you know, exclusively according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy targeted civilian targets mostly infrastructure, but some of them either they missed or maybe they were just intentional, who knows, but they hit people's home and they took people's lives, and they turned other lives upside down because there were other children who are among the injured. In addition to the dead in this attack, at least four people killed in Kryvyi Rih. And well over a dozen injured. And not to mention just the terror that you're inflicting upon people

when there's the air raid sirens and then there's explosions. And then, you know, the kids will have to miss school because they're sheltering underground for hours. And the businesses that have to try to put their, you know, try to have to keep on making a profit. Keep on making a living, keep the lights on even when the lights are off half the time or more than half the time.

Ukraine needs all the weapons it can get, military analysts say. There is, you know, growing concern that Russia is assembling a new round of forces to make a another go at Kyiv. That was something that the head of Ukraine's armed forces told "The Economist." And it's been echoed by military analysts who think that what, you know, Vladimir Putin of Russia is doing by battering the power grid is he is exhausting Ukraine's resources, forcing them to fight on the frontlines in the east and the south, and not allowing them to reassemble, as Russia, while battering with these missiles, does also try to reassemble, tries to get a fresh round of troops, albeit inexperienced, and mobilized, you know, conscripts who might not have necessary do very well on the battlefield.

It's, you know, a lot of them would die, as well. But that seems to be Russia's intention, according to the Ukrainian leadership and according to a lot of military analysts, making it very fearful of what the coming months could bring. Not even taking into account the brutal winter that lies ahead for millions of people here in Ukraine, who are living on a regular basis without lights and without heat -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Will Ripley, thank you very much.

In the middle of Russia's senseless war of Ukraine, dozens of people now say they are alive only because of one man. An American who decided to stop watching the war from the States and decided to do something to help. Brad Hendrickson is a former UPS truck driver and in-home caretaker who left his life in Maine and deployed himself to Ukraine where he spends day and night rescuing civilians caught in the crossfire.

He documents those rescues on social media where he's known as Bakhmut Brad, a nod to the place where he also conducted one of his most daring rescues. It was there where Brad met a woman desperately trying to save her husband who had been injured in an explosion. Watch.


BRAD "BAKHMUT BRAD" HENDRICKSON, AMERICAN HELPING CIVILIANS IN UKRAINE: Good. Good. A doctor, hospital. Yes. Here. Here. I will drive to the hospital.


HENDRICKSON: Come. Come. Is this -- yes? We have to go. Doctor. We have to go to a doctor now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Unable to carry the man on his back, Brad pulled him down every single step to his car, driving in the pitch black to a hospital where he could receive some aid from health care workers. Brad Hendrickson, Bakhmut Brad, joins me now from eastern Ukraine.

Brad, well done, sir. First of all. My hat's off to you. You've described yourself as a last mile guy. Sometimes driving under bombardment. Obviously not everybody at home should do this. We should warn folks that what you've done is extremely risky. But what made you decide to leave your life in Maine and do this?

HENDRICKSON: Well, hi, Jim. There's a lot to work through with all of that. Both before the fact and even here in the midst of it. Yes, I wouldn't recommend it to others. And I will say that honestly the story here isn't even so much me as it is the conditions that everyone is going through, right? I mean, what brought me there to that home that evening is that they had exhausted every other option that was available to them.


Local folks and evacuation numbers and resources. And no one else was available. They are willing to go in or tied in or personnel tied up with their own wounded and so forth.

So the message I got was, there's this urgent need and there's nobody else available. You know the area. Are you up for going in? You know, I opted into it. It's pretty intense.

ACOSTA: It's extremely intense, the video we showed our viewers a few moments ago, of you helping the elderly gentleman down the stairs. Again, hats off to you. A job well done there.

We mentioned that you go by "Bakhmut Brad." The city has been the site of very serious fighting. What have you witnessed? What can you tell us about what you are seeing out there?

HENDRICKSON: Conditions are brutal. What Ukrainian folks are having to endure, the way winter is being weaponized against these folks here, pretty unspeakable. Russian assaults are indiscriminate.

There's a lot of pain that civilians are enduring. I don't know how much else to put that. It's grim.

And all of the volunteers are out in different roles and we're trying to roll up our sleeves and pitch in.

ACOSTA: One of the things the Ukrainian people are worried about -- and they told us, so many peoples -- they're afraid that the people in the West, the American people, will lose interest and move on to something else.

What you have done, Brad, that is remarkable -- in addition to the bravery that you demonstrated out there in helping these folks -- is putting it on social media. Getting the video out to the public. That's going to keep it fresh in people's minds. Was there a rescue or a route where you weren't sure you were going to

make it?

HENDRICKSON: There are a few like that. I wear a great deal of heavy and very unfashionable armor. I try to get all of the intel that I can through apps and other sort of sources about safe routes and what the activity has been in the area before going in.

Part of why I was able to go into these specific folks is I had been to that -- their corner several times. Even earlier that same day. So, I knew the route. I was able to take that on. This isn't a death wish.

I'm looking forward to returning when it makes sense.

In a way, I don't want to be here. You know? But it's too weighty and too grim and too necessary, unjust, right? To just kind of set it out.

ACOSTA: I talked to other Americans that are compelled. They couldn't make any other choice but to go and do what they could.

Brad, do you get to check in on the people you rescued? What about the elderly gentleman you rescued down the stairs and his family?

HENDRICKSON: I'm not in touch with most. I do offer my number to folks, as it sort of seems fitting.

With this particular couple, we stayed in touch. We exchanged some text messages about 20 minutes ago with the latest update. But they're now safe, further into the west of the country.

We actually ended up going to two different hospitals for levels of care.


HENDRICKSON: I'm not sure what footage you were able to see. That night, we had to go to two different places to get what needed to get done.

The responding doc at the first place I went to, certainly gave it a -- we'll do what we can. They worked hard and did more to give careful work.

There were serious injuries, according to his chest and lungs and so forth. So, able to stop the bleeding and stitches and tubing and so forth.

And on to the next locations down the road. They didn't have ambulances available. We put him back in the same vehicle of mine and went down the road to the next place.

ACOSTA: Brad, I know you operate on donations. How can people help? What can they do to pitch in?

HENRICKSON: Yes. Most of us -- we all do. There's a Facebook group. And there's the PayPal and Venmo and Zelle and so forth. I have a couple of friends that are helping me with the group.


Up until very recently, it was a sleepy group, just for some interested in supportive friends and family and folks from church and what not. All of a sudden, some coverage brought it to the attention of a lot of other folks.

We're doing what we can. The Bakhmut Brad Facebook group. Go and support it.

ACOSTA: Brad, we appreciate your time very much. Appreciate what you're doing over there. I mean, for a UPS driver from Maine, you have delivered hope, if you don't mind me saying, there in Ukraine.

Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.


ACOSTA: You, too.

Coming up next, it's what scientists are calling a milestone for the future of clean energy. We'll explain the nuclear fusion breakthrough.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: It's a historic breakthrough that could change life on this planet. Scientists have figured out how to replicate the energy from the sun from a fusion reaction.

So just how long could it there be until there's an unlimited supply of clean energy?

CNN's Rene Marsh takes a look at how scientists are moving forward with the so-called holy grail of carbon-free power?


JENNIFER GRANHOLM, ENERGY SECRETARY: This is one of the most impressive scientific feats of the 21st century. Or as the president might say, this is a BFD.

RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The breakthrough happened inside this Department of Energy lab in California.

U.S. scientists have effectively figured out how to bottle the sun, using 192 high-powered lasers to simultaneously fire upon two hydrogen atoms.

The pressure and heat fused them together, unleashing energy that replicates the conditions that has allowed the sun to burn bright for billions of years. GRANHOLM: This milestone moves us one significant step closer to the

possibility of zero carbon, abundant fusion energy, powering our society. We can use it to produce clean electricity, transportation fuels, power heavy industry.

MARSH: On December 5th, for the first time ever, the fusion produced more energy than the lasers used to drive it. For an energy source to be viable, the energy output must be larger than the energy used to produce it.

Proving nuclear fusion is a feasible energy source with no carbon footprint and no radioactive waste.

DR. ARATI PRABHAKAR, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY: It took not just one generation, but generations of people pursuing this goal. And it's a scientific milestone.

MARSH: The discovery is critical in the quest to pivot away from dirty energy sources, like fossil fuels, and power our everyday lives using clean energy.

But it could be decades before it's available for widescale use. And by that time, the climate crisis could reach a tipping point.

(on camera): The Biden administration has set an aspirational goal of getting a commercial fusion reactor up and running in a decade. But scientists say it's more likely to take two to three decades.

They still need to figure out how to generate enough power for widescale consumption. And figure out how to harvest that power and get it to the power grid.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


ACOSTA: Coming up next, two superstars go head-to-head tomorrow. Argentina's Lionel Messi versus France's Kylian Mbappe. That is next in CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: Now to Qatar, where the stage is set for the World Cup final. It's France versus Argentina. Two soccer powerhouses.

For France, it's a opportunity to be back-to-back champions with Kylian Mbappe lead the way. For Argentina, it's the final chance for Lionel Messi to bring home the World Cup title.

CNN's Patrick Snell joins me now.

Patrick, it's been a glorious World Cup. Give us a preview of how big this match up will be. These are the two biggest stars in the sport, arguably, right now. PATRICK SNELL, CNN ANCHOR, "WORLD SPORT": They really are, Jim. From a

footballing perspective, the last month has been fascinating.

And there's an added plot to it, Jim, they're also club teammates in the domestic French league. So, it will be awkward for one of them when they get back to training after the World Cup, whichever way this goes.

So much history on the line. Argentina are looking to win the sport's biggest prize for the first time in 36 years. France, it's been just four years since they triumphed in 2018 in Russia.

You can see the stats. Messi, at 35, Jim, said it's his last World Cup. Kylian Mbappe is just 23 years of age. All of the narratives around those two.

But it's Messi I want to home in on first. He experienced the pain of defeat, Jim, in the World Cup final, when they lost to the Germans in Rio.

And his international manager, Lionel Scaloni, saying, look, we've got to give him the perfect sendoff in his last-ever tournament game. Take a listen.


LIONEL SCALONI, ARGENTINA COACH (through translation): Regarding what Messi said about this being his last game, let's hope in this one, we can 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: Just to put a ribbon on it, the preview, it will be fantastic. Both countries, Jim, looking to win the World Cup for a third time. So much history on the line.

ACOSTA: And today's game decided who finished third. Tell us about that.

SNELL: This one was really interesting, as well. And the hugely inspiring Moroccans.

They were going head-to-head with Croatia in the third-place playoff line. And it would be Croatia that get the job done, 2-1, in the end. They win this one.

They would take an early lead, breaking the deadlock after seven minutes of play. And then barely two minutes later, the Lions level. And they have become the first African and Arab nation to get to the last four of a FIFA World Cup.

But the pick of the bunch, the stunning way to win the match. Taken by Croatia, an outstanding finish, 2-1, Croatia. The final score. But as I said, Jim, Morocco have been so inspiring throughout.

And I want to pay tribute to Croatia. This is a population of less than four million people, as well. A third-place bronze medal finish for the Croatians -- Jim?


ACOSTA: To the delight of my producer, Alex Hunter, who is watching right now. I mean --

SNELL: Hey, Alex. He'll be happy, I know that.

ACOSTA: He is happy, as are all Croatians.

All right, Patrick Snell, thank you very much.

We'll be right back.


ACOSTA: An all-new episode of "THIS IS LIFE" airs tomorrow.

Here's a preview.


LISA LING, CNN HOST, "THIS IS LIFE": How long does someone have to drink to develop liver disease?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a woman that would be four drinks a day. A man would be five. If you're binge drinking, it is that pattern of alcohol use that leads to more severe liver dysfunction.


LING: I know a lot of people who may not be seeing the consequences now. But this is giving birth to what could be just a disastrous situation, years down the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're already there. The number of referrals for liver transplant in young people, particularly young women, have gone up -- I mean, a week ago Friday, we got 24 referrals for liver transplant in one day.

LING: In your entire career, have you ever --


LING: Would you have ever thought?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Never. Alcohol is the biggest problem in America right now. And it is one that no one has really talked about.


ACOSTA: "THIS IS LIFE" with Lisa Ling air tomorrow night at 9:00 right here on CNN.

We'll be right back.