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Criminal Referrals for Trump Expected from January 6 Committee; Ukraine Reels from Latest Russian Missile Onslaught; China Dismisses COVID-19 Severity as Cases Soar. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 05:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, the January 6 committee is likely to refer at least three criminal charges against Donald Trump to the Department of Justice. Details are just ahead.

Plus, millions in parts of New England are dealing with nor'easter conditions, leaving many without power in freezing temperatures. The forecast is just ahead.

Plus, the Cinderella team of the World Cup will play one more time in a few hours from now. We're live in Qatar with the preview of Morocco versus Croatia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: We start with what would be an unprecedented condemnation of a former U.S. president. The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to vote Monday that Donald Trump should face criminal charges for his role in the riot.

A source tells CNN that insurrection, obstruction and conspiracy to defraud the government will be among their recommendations. Evan Perez has more on why it is such a big deal.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is a powerful message from a bipartisan committee that has interviewed hundreds and hundreds of witnesses. They have got thousands and thousands of hours of testimony from people who were there.

They were there around the former president. And the fact that they have arrived at these recommendations is something that the Justice Department will take and take a look at.

They will want to look at the evidence in particular, because one of the things that the Justice Department has been interested this is the interviews that were conducted and the transcripts of those interviews, which could be useful for the investigation, the criminal investigation, that prosecutors already have ongoing.

Of course, it is now in the hands and being overseen by special counsel Jack Smith. Now as far as these charges are concerned or these recommended charges, you know, a couple of them are ones that are familiar to the Justice Department; of course, obstruction of an official proceeding.

This is something that we know a federal judge has already signaled is something that he believes that the former president was involved with one of his lawyers, John Eastman when the committee was trying to get a hold of those communications between that lawyer and the former president.

As far as insurrection is concerned, that could be a little bit more complicated for the Justice Department because of the way the statute is written. But no doubt about it, this is an important moment for this committee.


BRUNHUBER: A closer look now at how this might impact the Justice Department's own investigations. Here is Katelyn Polantz.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Even from the beginning of this criminal investigation, the attorney general has tried to make very clear that he is nonpolitical.

He and the president have distanced themselves. They are in the same branch of government. And I'll tell you, the Justice Department does not ever want to be put in the same bucket as Congress.

They are very, very separate entities, often at odds with one another even. And so there is the possibility that there could be political pressure that builds, once the House Select Committee would say what they want to see as far as prosecutions.

That doesn't mean that the Justice Department will follow what their suggestions might be. But this is Washington. Merrick Garland is the attorney general. His office, you can sort of see down the mall to the Capitol building.

So this is always a political environment. Garland, one of his blind spots generally would be politics. He was a judge for 23 years before taking on the position of attorney general.

So there are members of Congress that probably are hoping that there would be politics factored into it. But it is a very delicate situation and we'll just have to see how Garland plays it going forward.


BRUNHUBER: A spokesperson for Trump wrote that, "The January 6 unselect committee held show trials by never Trump partisans, who are a stain on this country's history."

For more, we're joined by Natasha Lindstaedt, professor of government at University of Essex.

Thanks so much for being here with us.

So big picture, how significant would it be for a former president to be referred to the Justice Department for criminal charges?

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: Well, it is incredibly significant. I mean, this would make history.


LINDSTAEDT: The first president subject to these types of charges. The only thing that would be comparable would be Nixon. And in that case, the special prosecutor was actually making the referral to Congress, laying out a roadmap for Congress to impeach.

So nothing has ever happened anything like this. Now the referral is symbolic. It will go to special counsel, appointed by the DOJ, Jack Smith. And he can decide what to do with this.

But it gives the authority behind the investigation an attempt to provide accountability for Trump's actions, in which seven people died. And by releasing the report, I think this is incredibly important to find in this information campaign, to send a strong message.

And it will be really helpful to civil society and to lawyers passing the baton onto them so that they can continue to hold people to account. There might also be some referrals to the bar association for the lawyers that have been involved in helping Trump engage in all these unlawful activities.

So I think it is incredibly important that Congress is sending this type of message, even if it might be largely symbolic.

BRUNHUBER: Certainly, it won't inform what the DOJ does.

But do you think that the Justice Department will actually move forward with these or other charges?

LINDSTAEDT: It is a great question and you read what legal experts are saying and what your own hunch is. And I actually think that they will move forward because they do need to make it clear that no one is above the law.

And some of the actions that Trump engaged in are just absolutely astounding. If Trump were to go unpunished for this, that again sets a precedent of what people can do. We've seen this is what happens in countries when they start backsliding democratically.

They are able to change the norms and defy our laws and rules. And now we're at a critical juncture, where Trump is no longer as popular as he was at one point. He still, to some extent, controls the Republican Party.

But we saw with the 2018 midterms, he didn't do particularly well. He's struggling to even find a legal defense. So things aren't going his way and he also had the recent result, where the Trump Organization was found guilty by a jury trial on 17 counts of illegal activity.

So the momentum is moving to indict. I know the special counsel is supposed to be completely unbiased and not bring in some of these political factors. But I think that things are moving that we'll see an indictment. And, of course, this would be historical.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, we'll see. I mean, he's already faced two impeachments and been largely held -- failed to be held accountable.

But in terms of politically then, what effect, if any, do you think it will have on the Trump campaign?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, the Trump campaign, this is really interesting, it's not doing that well thus far. But I think that it will surprise some of the anti-Trump factions in the Republican Party, that I think that he could still do well in the primaries, that this may help him.

His supporters will think that he has been wronged and that this is just some sort of witch hunt and it could galvanize some of his supporters.

But in terms of the way the majority feel about Trump, I think this is more convincing evidence that he is just completely unfit to hold any kind of office, let alone the presidency.

And I think this is a real problem for the Republicans because he is really tearing the party apart. They cannot win with him. And I think they -- people in the higher echelons of the Republican Party know that.

But he will try to use this to his advantage, to get more people in his base behind him. And in the primaries, it tends to be these more passionate people that turn out to vote.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. Absolutely right. All right, thanks so much for your expert analysis, Natasha Lindstaedt, really appreciate it.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.


BRUNHUBER: A deadly storm system that spawned dozens of tornadoes in the South is now unleashing its fury on the northern U.S. The storm is causing widespread power outages to the region, the vast majority in Vermont and Maine, where 40,000 homes and businesses are without power in each state, according to

In northern Pennsylvania and up through New England, they are seeing more than a foot of snow in some places.



BRUNHUBER: A U.S. appeals court has rejected a last-minute appeal to keep the Title 42 Trump-era border policy in place. Also called the "Remain in Mexico" measure, it forced many undocumented immigrants and those seeking asylum to remain in Mexico or go to their home nations instead of being allowed to cross the southern U.S. border.

The Biden administration is expected to stop enforcing the policy this Wednesday. Officials in U.S. towns along the border are now asking for extra resources from Washington to cope with an expected migrant surge.


BRUNHUBER: Basic services are starting to return to Ukraine's capital after Russia's latest missile onslaught.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Russia hit cities across Ukraine on Friday, including the capital, Kyiv. A short time ago, its mayor said the water supply and the subway are now restored. Power is back on for two-thirds of the city while half of its residents have heat again.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine says nine power plants were also hit on Friday, which took more than half of its generating capacity offline. Ukraine also says Friday's strikes involved something never seen during this war: Russia using its strategic bombers to launch some of the missiles.

And when they started falling on Kyiv, some residents went underground to find safety. Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): Add to the frost, the rumble that makes it yet colder and deadlier still. The persistence in the gloom, on Friday, the sound of electricity, water and life being ground away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Air raid alert.

WALSH (voice-over): Russia's brutality is routine. But life above ground has adjusted, even police patrols ordering people underground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone please go to the nearest shelter. Stay in the shelter until the threat ends. WALSH (voice-over): And life there, finding its own rhythm too.

LADA KOROVAI, ACTOR: Took with us (ph).

WALSH (voice-over): This couple knew what they had to take with them, as they walked to acting rehearsals.

KOROVAI: In the morning I woke up and I saw a rocket in the sky and I wasn't surprised. I just saw and I understood that I have to go to the tube.

WALSH (voice-over): Morale, Ukraine always likes to say, is unbroken, unbreakable. But when your skies, weekly, look like this and the water went out, in Kyiv, Friday's news that 60 out of 76 Russian missiles fired, were intercepted, can only lift spirits so far.

Particularly, in the bitter cold, of the second biggest city, Kharkiv, it's especially hard Friday. The power did go off for a while, leaving locals gathered around whatever source of food or heat, the state could provide. This called an invincibility point, an aspiration, not a promise.

In Kryvyi Rih, three died, a 64-year-old woman and a young couple, whose infant son remains under the frozen rubble, said the governor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

WALSH (voice-over): Yes, the woman's father having just learned, she was pulled from the rubble.

But, in all of this, the threat or fear, worse, could come, from this direction, Belarus, to Ukraine's north, where Russian troops train feverishly.

Ukraine's top brass loudly warning of a possible move, on Kyiv, from this direction, in the weeks ahead. They have aimed and missed before. But still, the Kremlin does not stop -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.



BRUNHUBER: After Nick filed that report, we learned that searchers found the body of the 18 month old boy he mentioned. The child's remains were recovered in the rubble of that apartment building in Kryvyi Rih, which was destroyed in Friday's missile strike. His parents and one more person also died there; 13 others were injured.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Washington are waging a war of words over a defense system that would help Ukraine fight Russian strikes. For more, Barbie Nadeau is joining us from Rome.

Until now the U.S. has been reluctant. So take us through what has changed.

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this increasing rhetoric out of Russia is turning into a blame game. They are trying to say, if the United States continues to or amps up its support for Ukraine, that there would be consequences.

But the Biden administration is really digging in their heels now about who started this war. Let's listen to what the State Department deputy spokesperson had to say about this.


VEDANT PATEL, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: The only provocative measures that have been taken over the course of this entire conflict are being made by Russia. Russia is the aggressor in this situation.

And let's not forget that. The U.S. has not now nor has it ever been at war with Russia. And we've been doing exactly what President Biden told President Putin we would do, is that, if Russia attacked Ukraine, we would provide security assistance and help Ukraine defend itself and defend its territorial sovereignty.


NADEAU: And you know, the United States has not been specific in terms of when they would make any sort of announcement about what sort of aid that would look like or what sort of defense measures would be put forward.

But the Biden administration is very clear about who started the war. And Russia is not going to be successful for them in any way in terms of turning the tables on the blame game. Kim.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thanks so much, Barbie Nadeau.

Ten months after being detained in Russia, basketball star Brittney Griner is finally back home. Ahead, what the former Russian detainee is saying about her plans for the future.

And as the coronavirus tears through China, a medical expert in the country says it is no worse than a cold. We'll see how the shift from zero COVID is working.





BRUNHUBER: The U.S. is getting hit with multiple respiratory viruses this winter and health experts are encouraging Americans to make sure they're up to date on all their flu shots and COVID boosters.

For instance, the flu hit early and hard. As of December 10th, the CDC estimates there have been at least 15 million illnesses, 150,000 hospitalizations and 9,300 deaths from flu this season. Now as for COVID, according to survey data from the Kaiser Family

Foundation, new studies are emphasizing the effectiveness of the newer bivalent COVID boosters compared to no vaccine at all. The updated vaccine is 56 percent effective against emergency room or urgent care visits.

But only about four in 10 U.S. adults say they've gotten the updated booster or plan to do so as soon as possible. Health officials are warning this is particularly dangerous for those with weakened immune systems.


DR. CHRISTINE HAHN, IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH: If you have heart disease, asthma, diabetes, obesity or a weakened immune system from cancer, you are at higher risk of severe disease from flu or COVID.


BRUNHUBER: Another respiratory disease is also getting attention from health experts. The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a rise in strep A infections in the U.S., especially among children. Health officials say it's too soon to say whether the numbers are rising beyond what they normally see or if it's just a return to pre- pandemic levels.

Strep isn't fatal for most people and can be treated with antibiotics.

Despite China's relaxing of COVID zero standards, Shanghai schools are taking precautions amid the current surge. According to a statement from the Shanghai education bureau, in-person classes at all kindergartens and most grade schools will shut down starting on December 19the.

The bureau is also asking most grades in primary, middle and high schools in Shanghai to hold online classes instead. And most 9th and 12th graders will still go to school as usual but they can apply to study from home voluntarily.

China's government is downplaying the COVID-19 risk. CNN's Selina Wang has more.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China's top infectious disease expert now says COVID-19 should be called, quote, "coronavirus cold," a dramatic shift for the Chinese government, a jarring contrast for the public after three years of a draconian, heavy handed approach to COVID.

Now the government trying to downplay COVID. People here were caught off guard by the sudden reopening. Many feel like they weren't given enough time or resources to get ready.

Across the country, fever medicine and antigen test kits are hard to get. The country is struggling to boost the elderly vaccination rate and increase ICU capacity. At a state media event, some health experts admitted that, quote, "we were not super well prepared in certain aspects."

The chief infectious disease doctor said there have been outbreaks among doctors, nurses and other staff, putting strain on the system. The doctor continued that, quote, "we expect the overwhelming strain on medical services to be on hospital wards as infections reach the elderly population."

This decision to relax COVID restrictions, when millions are expected to travel for the New Year holiday and also while seasonal flu could further strain hospitals, this timing has led to a wave of criticism on social media.

State media reports all vacations for doctors and nurses in Hunan province will be canceled until March.


WANG (voice-over): The report said, quote, "Health workers must be on duty 24 hours a day to ensure we smoothly pass this transition period."

Hunan, the third most populous province in China, is ranked among the top destinations during this Chinese New Year travel rush. Experts say that, considering how obsessed this government is with control, it is striking just how little preparation there has been for such a dramatic exit from zero COVID-19 -- Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


BRUNHUBER: After a month of drama and surprises, the World Cup in Qatar is coming to a close. We'll preview the remaining matches of the tournament and break down what is at stake. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back. I'm Kim Brunhuber and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Lawmakers in Peru have rejected a key demand of protesters by voting against constitutional reform to move up elections.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): At least 20 people have died in the unrest gripping the nation since the ouster of former president Pedro Castillo. In addition to early elections, protesters also want Castillo to be freed from detention and for his successor to step down.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: Castillo was arrested and impeached last week after attempting to dissolve congress. He's been ordered to be held on charges of conspiracy and rebellion.

Brittney Griner is finally back home in Arizona.


BRUNHUBER: Since her release from a Russian prison, she has been under the care of doctors at a military medical center in Texas. CNN's Abby Phillip has more on her plans.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing from Brittney Griner for the first time since the 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 psychological and emotional support from a 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, thanking everyone involved in this effort in bringing her home. And it is quite a lot of people. But beginning with President Biden; her wife, Cherelle; and many others 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. This was a huge question that faced her as she went into this.

Would she go back it play for the Phoenix Mercury?

And she said in the statement that she will. She wants to be able to thank her fans and teammates, who 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 and not clear yet what it will take to get him released from prison -- Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington.







BRUNHUBER: Almost time to head to the airport to fly home for the holidays but don't count on your hard-earned frequent flyer miles to get into that VIP club. We'll have a report on vanishing airline perks. Stay with us.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Engine ignition and liftoff, liftoff of SWOT, a first global survey of Earth's surface water to study how this everchanging resource --

BRUNHUBER (voice-over): And with that launch, a new satellite is about to take a deep dive into the research of water on our planet. The so- called SWOT mission scans for surface water and ocean topography.

The satellite will use 3D technology to survey lakes, rivers and oceans on more than 90 percent of the Earth's surface. The project will help scientists better understand climate change and prepare for future droughts and flooding.


BRUNHUBER: The Transportation Security Administration has seized a record number of firearms at airport security checkpoints this year and most of them were loaded. The agency tells us that as of Friday, agents have stopped 6,301 firearms this year.


BRUNHUBER: The previous record was set last year with 5,972 firearms. The maximum fine is about $15,000. Violators will have their TSA pre- check revoked for at least five years.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be counting on using some of your airline miles to help make your trip more comfortable. But as we hear from CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean, good luck with that. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephanie Ogbogu is a proud frequent flyer, now frequently frustrated by the airlines.

STEPHANIE OGBOGU, FREQUENT FLYER: They wanted us to take advantage of travel and then we finally do and it's like, oh, wait, wait, wait. Now it's too much.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Stephanie is just one of Delta Air Lines loyalists, fuming over new rules. Next year, the company is making it harder to get into its more than 50 Sky Club lounges at airports worldwide.

Delta cites customers upset over lines outside and crowded seating inside, telling frequent fliers, we have made the difficult decision to implement new policies that we believe will preserve the experience our guests deserve.

SCOTT KEYES, FOUNDER, SCOTT'S CHEAP FLIGHTS: I think this is the sort of a trend.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Scott Keyes of Scott's Cheap Flights says airlines are cutting back on perks now that travel numbers are back near pre-pandemic levels. United Airlines is anticipating end of year holiday travel even bigger than this past Thanksgiving.

Next year it will raise the bar on earning frequent flyer status, making it harder to get free upgrades and fees waived.

KEYES: It's going to be much more difficult to get into lounges, much more difficult to renew elite status and much more difficult to redeem their frequent flyer miles for a free trip.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): A Delta flight from LAX to JFK over spring break would typically cost you 25,000 frequent flyer miles for an economy seat. Now Scott's Cheap Flights says it will cost more than twice that, 52,000 miles.

BILL MCGEE, AMERICAN ECONOMIC LIBERTIES PROJECT: Well, I think, you know, we're at a tipping point.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Consumer advocate say earning miles has never been easier, thanks to airline credit cards. But now, redeeming miles is getting tougher.

MCGEE: You enter these programs in good faith and you invest in them for years and years and you find that the goalposts are a lot further away than they were when you started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Airlines there, they're missing the mark here. I hope that they listen to the consumer and they really think about some of the decisions that they're making at the top level.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRUNHUBER: There's new fallout from Prince Harry and Meghan's documentary with Netflix. Some in the British public are sympathetic but many others are not amused. What the latest revelations mean to the royal family. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: President Biden is expected to name former Congress man Joe Kennedy III as special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs. Kennedy is the grandson of the late former senator Robert Kennedy.

He will be the third Kennedy appointed to a diplomatic post during the Biden administration. JFK's daughter Caroline is ambassador to Australia. The widow of senator Ted Kennedy, Victoria, is ambassador to Austria.

The godmother of Britain's Prince William is apologizing for comments she made to a charity founder who is Black and British. Buckingham Palace says Lady Susan offered her sincere apologies to the founder for asking her where she was, quote, "really from."

In a statement, the palace says, "Lady Susan has pledged to deepen her awareness of the sensitivities involved and is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the issues."

Lady Susan stepped down from her role at Buckingham Palace after the incident.

Reactions are pouring in after the final episodes of the "Harry and Meghan" docuseries on Netflix. But many in England are not as receptive as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were probably hoping for. CNN's Scott McLean has the latest from London.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here in the U.K., Harry and Meghan's latest Netflix installment has been met with some sympathy, some deep sighs, a lot of eye rolling or, if you are the royal family, a stiff upper lip.

It seems that there is very little that the Sussexes could say at this point that would genuinely shock the British public. But they have definitely succeeded in getting their attention.


PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX: It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me and my father say things that simply weren't true. And my grandmother quietly sit there and sort of take it all in.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The final revelations made in Harry and Meghan's Netflix series have been met with stone cold silence from Buckingham Palace but not from the British public or the press.

The morning after, the tabloids can't get enough, though it was the Prince and Princess of Wales on nearly every front page. "The Mail" casting Prince William in a soft light compared to Harry's savage onslaught.

While "The Sun" labeled him "a traitor," declaring war on his own family. Others questioned the couple's motives and their honesty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Harry and Meghan think their audience are fools. They blame everybody but themselves. They resent even the most incendiary of claims with no evidence. And sadly the impact is real. For Prince Harry, surely, is now a traitor to the country that he once served.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially Harry is using the media to complain about the media (INAUDIBLE) by his brother. Quite painful piece.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is just rather really unedifying. And I think that they are losing the war of public opinion.

MCLEAN (voice-over): A new poll shows the once wildly popular couple now have more detractors than fans in the U.K. with a net popularity rating of -3 for Harry and -19 for Meghan.

Still, far better than Prince Andrew but far worse than King Charles or Harry's brother, Prince William. The same poll found almost six in 10 Brits think that making the series at all was a bad idea.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that he should move on and not throw his family under the bus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just think that it is a little bit of desperation about what is -- you know, if his brother is going to be the king of England, is that anywhere really (INAUDIBLE) going on really, making a documentary for Netflix?

MCLEAN: Do you think they should have made it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. If you're seeking privacy, probably not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are going to run away from the press, run away from the press. You know, don't -- I'm leaving London because the press has been awful to me but them I'm going to let them into my house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the same, total division, complete division (ph). It's the royal family. It's just (INAUDIBLE).


MCLEAN: And the more that you talk to people the more you find that, regardless of which side of the royal rift they are on, most people, it seems, want to see Prince Harry, Prince William and King Charles all get in a room and reconcile their differences. But at this point, that seems like a pretty distant fantasy -- Scott McLean, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: Pope Francis turns 86 today. The head of the Catholic Church has chosen to celebrate today by honoring three people who, quote, "live charity" on behalf of the poorest of the poor.

And that includes a priest serving the poor throughout Syria's devastating civil war, a homeless man who gives a portion of the alms he receives each day to those who are worse than him and an Italian businessman who uses a large part of his business' profits to help the poor in several African and Latin American nations and India.

You could say it is one of the coolest hotels in the world. Have a look here.


BRUNHUBER (voice-over): Located 136 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the famous ice hotel in northern Sweden just reopened its doors for the winter season. Known for its architecture, the rooms are made of wall-to-wall ice.

Guests can sleep on blocks of ice covered with a mattress and furs. The hotel's website says that the inside temperature stays between minus 5 to minus 7 degrees Celsius. That is around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.


BRUNHUBER: Yes, no thanks. That wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Please stay with us. "CNN THIS MORNING" is next.