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Criminal Referrals Against Trump Expected From Jan. 6 Committee; Pediatric Hospitals Runs Out Of Beds For Babies Sick With RSV, Flu; Dow Tumbles As Recession Fears Escalate Ahead Of Holidays; FTX Founder Charged With Criminal Fraud, Conspiracy; Highland Park Shooting Suspect's Father Charged In July 4th Massacre; Brittney Griner Leaves TX Military Facility, Pledges WNBA Return; Five Officers Indicted In Police Custody Death Of Ronald Greene; Mom Of Slain Idaho Student "Frustrated" By Lack Of Police Contact; Panic-Buying & Shortages As COVID Restrictions Ease In China; Nor'easter Brings 2 Feet Of Snow To Portions Of The Northeast. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 08:00   ET



LISA LING, CNN HOST "THIS IS LIFE: So, you feel like you need to get into detox now, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Is there any way we can show how this happens?

LING: Yes, of course.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to document this.


AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. Catch an all-new episode of "THIS IS LIFE" tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN. Back after this.

Good morning, everyone. I fell asleep for just a second. Welcome to CNN this morning. I'm Amara Walker. Wide awake now.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It is still pretty early in the morning. I'm Boris Sanchez.

The January 6 committee is expected to announce it is going to refer multiple criminal charges against Donald Trump. We'll tell you what that could mean for the former president, and how the Department of Justice could soon respond.

WALKER: Triple Threat. The U.S. being plagued by a trio of respiratory viruses pushing hospitals to their limits. How doctors are handling coping really with the influx of patients as cases rise.

SANCHEZ: And crypto chaos. Markets collapsing and one of the most public figures in the industry sitting in jail. What is next for this troubled industry? WALKER: And Brittney Griner now speaking out after returning home to the U.S. Her message to supporters and the family of a man still detained in Russia.

SANCHEZ: Welcome to the weekend. I'm sure you're enjoying it, Saturday, December 17th. We're grateful to have you Amara, got that coffee ready? You got to go?

WALKER: No, my coffee is empty. I need a refill. Somebody helped me. I mean, it's getting cold. But listen, I'm sure people want to just stay in bed and just you know, cuddle up in the cold. Not really like, you know, go out weather at least for me.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes, it's a perfect time for cuddling watching the rain fall. Let's get to the news.

WALKER: And us (ph).

SANCHEZ: Yes. We begin this morning with what would be an unparalleled condemnation of a former president of the United States. The committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to refer criminal charges against Donald Trump to the Justice Department.

WALKER: The House Select Committee will make its final recommendation Monday during its final hearing, its final report providing justification for the charges is expected a short time after. Now the committee may refer at least three criminal charges against Trump. In a statement, a spokesman for the former president criticized the committee as a kangaroo court and call the hearings a stain on this country's history.

SANCHEZ: CNN's Annie Grayer joins us now live. Annie, what more can you tell us about these criminal referrals?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Boris, we know that the January 6 committee is considering at least three criminal charges for against former President Donald Trump for the Department of Justice to consider, and those three charges are obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the federal government and insurrection.

We know that whatever charges the committee does decide to, decide to bring forward. It will be part of their final public meeting on Monday at 1:00 p.m., where members are also going to be presenting their final report to the American people.

The Department of Justice is definitely going to take a look at whatever the committee sends their way, particularly that evidence supporting these charges that the committee might bring forward, because there hasn't been much shared between the committee and DOJ up into this point, and the DOJ wants to see what the committee has.

But some of these charges have been out there when it comes to Trump. A federal judge has recently said that Trump may have been involved in the obstruction of an official proceeding. So that's been out there. But taking a step back a criminal referral from the January 6 Committee to the Department of Justice is largely symbolic in nature. The DOJ already has a wide-ranging criminal probe into January 6, but if members get up there on Monday, and say and issue criminal referrals for Trump, that is a powerful message.

It says that, throughout its 17-month investigation, interviewing more than 1,000 witnesses piecing together a minute-by-minute timeline of Donald Trump's actions on January 6, that putting all of that together, that members believe that their evidence reveals that Donald Trump committed a crime. So, we'll have to see exactly what charges and who the committee brings criminal referrals for on Monday, but we know that this is coming, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes, and Annie the central focus I think on Monday is going to be those criminal referrals, but what else are we anticipating will come from this final hearing?


GRAYER: This is going to be the committee's closing message. We've seen them put on nine hearings throughout the course of their investigation. And this is their final word to the American people. We know that there's going to be some sort of presentation involving multimedia to kind of tie together the committee's investigation.

And also, the committee is going to be voting on its final report, which will then be released in full to the public a couple of days later, specifically Wednesday. And we're also going to get all the details of these criminal referrals, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Looking forward to that. Annie Grayer, thank you so much. Excellent reporting as always.

A criminal referral against the former president would of course be unprecedented. Earlier this morning, I spoke with former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin about its significance.


SANCHEZ (on-camera): These criminal referrals are largely symbolic, but what kind of wait, can they have on the next steps from the Department of Justice?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think the Justice one will take these referrals if they come seriously, because they have been gathering evidence to January 6 committee that is, has been gathering evidence for a very long time. They have more evidence gathered than DOJ as far as we know, at this point.

And so, if the prosecutors on the January 6 committee, and there are many of them who sit as members or a staff, say to the DOJ, we've looked at this evidence, and we think it meets the standard of convictable crime of sustainable on appeal, then I think DOJ takes a harder look at it than if there was no referral.

So, I think it's meaningful to the DOJ when it comes. It's not dispositive, but I think it will be meaningful.

SANCHEZ (on-camera): I was also curious about this, the chairman Bennie Thompson told CNN that in addition to those criminal referrals, there could be quote, other categories of referrals the committee makes. What could that entail?

ZELDIN: As to lawyers, it could be to the bar exam -- the bar ethics people, we see that Rudy Giuliani has had his license suspended in New York, and it's pending whether or not he gets it removed altogether here in the District of Columbia, as to lawmakers who seemed to have been conspiring in some small way with the President to prevent this from going forward. They may be referred to the Ethics Committee on the Hill, as well. They may be cited for contempt.

So, there are opportunities here for not just the DOJ to look into this, but for the ethics people, because whether or not this was a criminal offense, it was surely an ethical breach and a moral breach. And there are opportunities for these types of behaviors to be sanctioned by licensing organizations.


SANCHEZ: Our thanks to Michael Zeldin for his time there. You will not want to miss this historic moment. CNN is going to have special live coverage of Monday's January 6 committee hearing that begins at noon Eastern right here on CNN.

WALKER: Across the country, health care workers and hospital administrators are struggling to keep up as patients bring in children sick with RSV or the flu. I should say parents do that. Last week, hospitals were the fullest they have been during the pandemic, about 80% of beds are a news nationwide.

Just 6% of those are for COVID-19 patients. 23,500 people were hospitalized for flu last week and the CDC says flu activity is still high but appears to be declining in some areas. RSV and flu infections are at their highest levels in years. COVID-19 infections are on the rise, but having come close to previous surges.

Joining me now to discuss the effect this is having on hospitals and patient care is Dr. Andrea Hadley, Chief of Pediatric Hospital Medicine at Corewell Health in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dr. Hadley really appreciate you coming on. I mean, it's -- it seems like the perfect storm. I mean, there's a shortage of staff. There's not a lot of enough hospital beds in place and now we're experiencing the surge of respiratory illnesses. How is your hospital coping right now? What's the scene like?

ANDREA HADLEY, CHIEF PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL MEDICINE, COREWELL HEALTH: Yes, thank you for having me. Children's hospitals across the country have really seen a tidal wave of patients with these respiratory infections that you listed RSV, flu and other viruses, as well as now an increase in COVID rates.

Our hospital over the last two months has a historic amount of patients with RSV admitted to the hospital. It's important to know we do have a surge of RSV every winter. This year has been worse than any year prior, and we did take some things from the COVID playbook from the COVID surges in the past we were able to quickly scale up the number of patient beds in our hospital by doubling up patient rooms, which we've never had to do before.


And that definitely changes the way that care is provided. It's stressful on staff. It's stressful, but most importantly, on families, limiting the number of parents that are able to and caregivers that are able to stay with their sick child. Our emergency departments are overwhelmed seeing nearly double their amount of normal patients that results in long wait times providing care in in alternative locations compared to normal.

WALKER: I mean, that's concerning as well, I'm sure for parents who bring in their sick children, I guess in the back of their mind, they must be worried about whether or not they'll be turned away.

HADLEY: That's correct. It's nothing -- and speaking as a mom, nothing's more distressing than seeing your child sick.

WALKER: Right.

HADLEY: And they send patients home several times, because the only beds that we have available need to be reserved for the sickest patients. And that can be very stressful for families, several families, you know, commented they were sent home several times until they are child got sicker, and then we were able to bring them in.

WALKER: How sick are the children this year, especially when it comes to RSV and flow compared to previous years?

HADLEY: That's a great question. We definitely are used to taking care of very sick children with RSV and flu, you know, we see even several 100 deaths a year from influenza and pediatric patients. So, we're very used to that. But this year, the sheer volume of patients coming in with these respiratory infections. And that manifests as you know, difficulty breathing, difficulty feeding this primarily affects infants and young children.

And they were seeing entire families. So, triplets, twins, multiple siblings of different ages, requiring admission to the hospital due to the severity of their illness. And that's not we do see that in prior years. But the amount of that we're seeing is higher than normal.

WALKER: Your hospital in particular Doctor I mean, is there, our patient, I mean, patients being turned away, how are you guys accommodating? What's the weight average wait time what hasn't been in the last couple of days.

HADLEY: I'm so proud to say that we have not had to close our doors to turn patients away, we've been able to employ several innovative strategies to take care of patients, both virtually across our regions were affiliated with 13 regional hospitals. We've been able to employ some telemedicine strategies.

And as I said, increasing our bed capacity to double up both our regular floor patient rooms as well as our Intensive Care Unit rooms. Our Intensive Care Unit went up in capacity from normally we have about 30 ICU beds, we increased that to over 50 ICU beds this year, that's unheard of, we recruit staff to help us from the adult side, we helped them during COVID.

And so, we were thankful that they have been able to come over and help us, the nursing staff, the respiratory therapists, all of the ancillary staff that helps us to take care of these patients have done an amazing job of stretching and changing the model of care to be able to accommodate the care for a higher volume of patients.

However, there are children's hospitals across the country that have had to shut down to new transfers coming in. And we are actually feeling that because we're getting calls from patients in other states and even in other locations further away than we normally do. Because those people have called you know, several even 10 different hospitals and they weren't able to find a pediatric.

WALKER: Oh no. Wow. I mean, it just sounds so dire. Lastly, I mean, as I hear you are a mother, which means that you probably take care of everyone else, except for yourself. But you're also a doctor. I mean, how are you doing it physically and emotionally? It must be so taxing.

HADLEY: Thank you for asking. You know, I think again, we learned so much during COVID about keep taking care of ourselves as health care professionals. And we are -- I personally am part of an amazing team at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. And our team is just so supportive of each other. And again, that's our nursing teams, our respiratory therapy teams, our environmental services, our supply chain, our home nursing teams, we've all come together and supported each other through this.

But we do know there are things that need to improve. We have lost pediatric beds across the nation, we've lost nearly 20% of pediatric beds, and that's for several different reasons. But shutting down those pediatric beds puts a lot of stress on the larger Children's Hospital hospitals because those beds are being shut down in the rural and community centers.

And so, we're seeing a higher load Have those patients coming to major children's hospitals, and that is definitely taxing on us, yes.


WALKER: You are getting the overload. Well, we appreciate you joining us, thank you for taking care of our children, Dr. Andrew Hadley. Appreciate it.

HADLEY: Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Just ahead. The father of the shooting suspect in the Highland Park parade massacre is now facing charges himself. Robert Crimo Jr. was arrested on Friday with the latest on this case coming up.

Plus, the Dow plunging more than 500 points to end the week volatility returning to the stock market as fears of a recession increase. We'll be right back.


WALKER: The Dow plummeted again, ending the week down 4% So far in December after solid gains in the previous two months.

SANCHEZ: Yes, investors are now fretting about the possibility of a recession just one week ahead of the holiday. CNN's Matt Egan has more.



MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Good morning, Boris and Amara, recession fears are back on Wall Street in a big way. U.S. markets finished lower on Friday ending an ugly week for stocks. Now this sell off really got started almost exactly at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. That's when the Federal Reserve Announces interest rate decision.

The Fed statement and projections raise fears of more Fed right -- rate hikes ahead. And remember, the more the Fed does, the greater the risk they do too much and they cause a recession. Jerome Powell's press conference that only further reinforce the same concerns.

But this self is not just about the Fed, Thursdays weaker than expected reports on retail sales and manufacturing suggested real cracks are already forming in this economy.

So, if you add a tough talking Fed to weakening economic numbers, you get rising recession fears. I would note that Powell and the Fed are probably just fine with this sell off. I mean their inflation fighting campaign. It requires tighter financial conditions.

They know the more hawkish they sound the less work they have to do. They don't want the market to boom. In some ways, this market is in a lose-lose situation right now. Because good economic news is being treated as bad news by investors because it means a tougher fed. Bad economic news is bad for investors and everyone because it raises the risk of a recession.

Still, some investors I talked to they argue this sell off is getting out of hand, veteran market strategy Art Hogan, he told me that it's quote, too soon to be sounding the recession alarm bells. And this drop is likely overdone. What's clear is that the market is pricing in the greater risk of a recession. That what's less clear is if the market is right. Boris and Amara.


SANCHEZ: Matt Egan, thank you so much for that. It's been a momentous week for cryptocurrency. First, the former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested at his home in the Bahamas. And now he's facing numerous criminal charges up to 115 years in prison. Also, public criticism against the digital currency is ramping up.

Here's what actor Ben McKenzie told lawmakers in Washington this week.


BEN MCKENZIE, ACTOR: The supposedly multi trillion-dollar industry was nothing more than a massive speculative bubble bound to pop.

In my opinion, the cryptocurrency industry represents the largest Ponzi scheme in history. In fact, by the time the dust settles, crypto may well represent a fraud, at least 10 times bigger than made off.


SANCHEZ: Here to discuss with us, crypto expert Lee Reiners. He's a professor of FinTech Law and Policy at Duke University.

Lee, always appreciate your expertise. Thanks for joining us this morning. Do you agree with Ben McKenzie is crypto the largest Ponzi scheme ever?

LEE REINERS, PROFESSOR OF FINTECH LAW AND POLICY, DUKE UNIVERSITY: Well, thanks for having me, Boris. Good to see you again. I do agree with Ben McKenzie. And so, in addition to being a talented actor, you know, Ben has an economics degree from the University of Virginia. So, you know, he does know what he's talking about.

He's put in a lot of research, a lot of work into to crypto. And it doesn't resemble a traditional Ponzi scheme in the sense that it's orchestrated by, you know, one individual, right, we tend to think of, you know, Bernie Madoff is kind of the quintessential Ponzi scheme. But the industry itself represents a Ponzi scheme, because it requires new money, new people coming in and buying these crypto tokens that are inherently worthless, they have no fundamental value, they don't do anything.

And you require new people to come in and buy it from previous investors. And because of that, this whole thing, this whole industry was a house of cards, just you know, waiting for an FTX like, you know, implosion. And so here we stand and, you know, the contagion is not contained by any means.

Now, there's concerns about the viability of, of Binance. And you know, the problem is that when you can't tell the weak from the strong, you treat everyone as though they're weak.

And so, you know, Sam Bankman-Fried was the paragon of trust, you know, and integrity in crypto up until about a month ago. So, he was a fraud. You know, who isn't a frog Boris and that's the situation that crypto industry finds itself in right now.

SANCHEZ: The paragon of trust, quite a way to describe where Sam Bankman-Fried stood. Just as you said only about a month ago, about $3 billion were withdrawn from Binance, the cryptocurrency exchange that you mentioned just this week. Is crypto safe for investors right now. It doesn't sound like you have a lot of confidence.

REINERS: Well, I haven't I've never had a lot of confidence, Boris. I've been here teaching and writing and speaking about crypto for six years, and I like to joke that crypto years are more like dog years.


So, you know, I've been sounding the alarm for quite a while. But of course, as long as prices were going up, you know, no one wanted to listen. Right. And, you know, we've seen this play out many times before, just look at, you know, housing assets leading up to 2008.

So, I do not have a lot of faith in crypto, I go back to the fact that it doesn't provide genuine economic utility, it doesn't make any product service, you know, better or easier. And I would just point listeners and viewers to the fact that you shouldn't invest in something, if you don't understand it, that's a universal Maxim.

And that's a rule that, you know, Warren Buffett, arguably the greatest investor of all time, you know, lives by, and a lot of people when it came to crypto, suspended disbelief, you know, and there's a variety of reasons for that there was a communal element somehow crypto became, you know, if you wanted to stick it to Wall Street and banks, you know, get into crypto just like that, you know, the Meme stocks, you'd remember Gamestop and AMC, and that was the way to stick it to the hedge funds apparently, you know, didn't play out that way.

So, there was a communal element to it. But I also think, you know, people are kind of desperate. And it's hard to if you're, you know, a working person these days to get ahead and save for retirement, you know, and that's a failure of our broader, you know, economic system.

And so, a lot of people wanted to believe that crypto provided that opportunity for upward mobility that, you know, get rich quick scheme. But unfortunately, it's never that easy, Boris. And it sounds too good to be true. It probably is.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I think a lot of it had to do with that sort of like mimetic behavior that people see other people doing it, they hear other people are making money, so they want to do it. But on top of that, there were also a lot of celebrity endorsements, a lot of celebrities pushing different kinds of cryptocurrencies. You have said that celebrities like Steph Curry, who have endorsed cryptocurrencies need to be held accountable. How so?

REINERS: Well, this is obvious, Boris, but it's worth stating, which is companies pay celebrities to endorse their products, because it'll entice customers to buy it, right. That's the whole point. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any celebrity endorsers, right? So, we know for a fact that people bought crypto on FTX because of these celebrity endorsements.

And if you go back and actually look at some of these ads, and what the celebrities say, is really troubling. I mean, the Steph Curry ad in particular, you know, it's all premised on the fact that he's not an expert on crypto, but he ends the ad by saying he doesn't have to be because with FTX he has everything he needs to buy and sell crypto quote, safely. Well, obviously, that wasn't the case here.

And when you're a celebrity, I mean, you've certainly have, I think, a moral obligation, and in many cases, a legal obligation to know what you -- to know something about what you are promoting.

You know, we're not talking about a footlong Subway sandwich here, right, we're talking about something that people put their life savings into, you know, their kids college fund into, and that's all gone now. And a lot of that is gone because of what the celebrities were saying. And when we look at FTX they were listing, you know, unregistered securities.

And so, it's illegal for celebrities to promote securities and certainly unregistered securities without disclosing, you know, the nature and the amount of that compensation. So, there's ongoing, you know, civil class action complaints. And for a lot of people who lost in FTX The reality is they're probably not going to get much out of the bankruptcy estate.

And you go back to the Mt. Gox exchange that imploded in Japan in 2014. You know, those creditors haven't gotten anything yet. So, I think for many of these folks, the class action is really the only opportunity they have to recover any of the funds that they have stuck on the platform.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that is unfortunately. Before we let you go, I just want to say I love the artwork behind you. It looks like that Fox is shelling cryptocurrency as well.

REINERS: That's right. Beware of the crypto feeling fox, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Lee Reiners, thank you so much and happy holidays.

REINERS: Happy holidays, Boris.

WALKER: The father of the Highland Park shooter is now behind bars. How prosecutors say he played a role in the July 4th shooting.



WALKER: Let's take a look now at some of the stories we are following this hour. A federal appeals court has rejected a bid by several Republican led states to continue Title 42, a Trump era policy that expelled migrants at the southern border.

The Biden administration is bracing for a surge in migrant crossings when the policy ends on Wednesday, unless the Supreme Court steps in. Meanwhile, border patrol officials are overwhelmed in El Paso, Texas, as thousands of asylum seekers arrive daily.

SANCHEZ: The father of the shooting suspect in the Highland Park July 4 parade massacre is now facing charges himself. Robert Crimo Jr. was arrested Friday on felony reckless conduct charges. A bail hearing is set for later today. Remember his son Robert "Bobby" Crimo III is accused of killing seven people and injuring dozens of others last summer.

Prosecutors say he could not obtain an Illinois firearm owners ID card without parental assistance because he was under the age of 21.

WALKER: WNBA star Brittney Griner has left a medical military facility in Texas and released a new statement on social media to her supporters saying she intends to return to basketball with the Phoenix Mercury next season and work to free those who are wrongfully detained outside the U.S. She was recently released from a Russian prison where she had been detained since February.

CNN's Abby Phillip with the latest.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing from Brittney Griner for the first time since the WNBA star returned home from detention in Russia, she'd spend about a week in San Antonio, Texas, where she has been recovering and receiving a 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's 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 and it is quite a lot of people.

But beginning with President Biden, her wife Cherelle, and many of the 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 Phoenix 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 and not clear yet what it will take to get him released from prison.

Abby Phillip, CNN, Washington. SANCHEZ: Abby, thank you so much.

Five law enforcement officers involved in the May 2019 death of black motorist Ronald Greene have been indicted on state charges by Louisiana grand jury. It marks the first time that charges have been filed in this case. Police say that Greene died after resisting arrest and struggling with officers. But his family says that state police initially told them Greene had died in a car crash after a police chase.

Video leaked two years after the incident showed officers kicking and punching and using a taser on Greene before he died in their custody. Here's what Greene's mother had to say about the indictment.


MONA HARDIN, MOTHER OF RONALD GREENE: It seems like this is a constant battle against the state of Louisiana. And these top brass (ph) that seeks to do their own thing in the midst of this grand jury. And we are where we are right now. That should have happened yesterday, the (INAUDIBLE) be a discussion.

After seeing that video myself, within minutes, I knew my son was not going to get through it. I saw it. I said it. Everyone can see it.


SANCHEZ: Greene's family is calling on all law enforcement officers that were charged to be fired and arrested immediately.

The mother of a college student murdered in Idaho says she is getting the same information on the case at the same time that we are and she is tired of it. You'll hear from her when we come back.



SANCHEZ: Some good news to bring you in a story we've been following very closely, the Cusco airport in Peru has reopened after being temporarily suspended. This as tourists from around the world try to catch flights out of Peru after being stranded there for days because of ongoing violent protests.

WALKER: Here is how one American tourist there describes the experience.


MICHAEL REINER, AMERICAN TOURIST: To be a tourist in a country where there's political unrest taking place before eyes is a whole new way of experiencing a country. There's something bigger happening here than just our travel experience. And having been to many parts of South America, I know that the priority should be with supporting the Peruvian people.


WALKER: And the State Department is working to rescue dozens of Americans stuck in the ancient city of Machu Picchu. It can only be accessed by trains that have stopped running.

Right now to Idaho, the mother of one of the students who was murdered last month is now speaking out.

SANCHEZ: She says she's being left in the dark by investigators who still one month after this horrible incident have been unable to name a suspect. CNN's Veronica Miracle has more.


KRISTI GONCALVES, MOTHER OF KAYLEE GONCALVES: It's sleepless nights, it's feeling sick to your stomach.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kristi Goncalves, a mother in anguish. Her 21-year-old daughter Kaylee is one of four University of Idaho students stabbed to death in their off campus home more than a month ago.


Kristi is sharing her frustration over what she says is a lack of direct communication with police. One example, when law enforcement reached out to the public for information on a white Hyundai scene near the crime scene/

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You found out about the white car from a press release?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they send you the press release?


MIRACLE (voice-over): Moscow police disagree telling CNN they sent the release to the Goncalves attorney adding, "Police have been trying to communicate with the Goncalves'." The family and their attorney said they did meet with police on Monday.


MIRACLE (voice-over): But they also want to hold authorities accountable for what they say is a lack of information.

GRAY: 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.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Throughout the investigation, police have said they're making progress and they're not releasing developments to protect the investigation.

GRAY: The time will tell whether that was a wise decision or not a wise decision but I would be more concerned about catching the individual then I would have be about preserving the case.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Either way, a void of information has made it hard for the community to move forward. Some are still fearful. Which is why Christopher Schwartz started offering free self-defense classes this past month at his studio.

CHRISTOPHER SCHWARTZ, TRAINER: With the fears that people are having, it was only right to offer it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The demand for the classes so overwhelming. All of the spots filled up within 32 hours. And as students leave town for winter break, police remain hopeful that potential witnesses come forward.

ROBBIE JOHNSON, MOSCOW POLICE PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER: I think people all over America and students here at the college, the university, they'll still be thinking about this and able to provide information if they still have it.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Something a grieving mother holds on to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you confident the police are going to solve this crime?

GONCALVES: I have to be.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Veronica Miracle, CNN, Moscow, Idaho.


SANCHEZ: Thanks to Veronica for that reporting.

Thousands are without power and millions are in the cold. The latest from the CNN Weather Center when we come back.



WALKER: In China, we are seeing a seismic shift in the nation's approach to tackling COVID. After several years of a zero-COVID policy, government officials are now pivoting and that is sending residents scrambling to keep themselves safe. CNN's Selina Wang is in Beijing with more.

SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: China's top infectious disease expert now saying COVID should be called, quote, coronavirus cold. This is a dramatic shift for the Chinese government in a jarring contrast for the public here. After going through three years of this draconian heavy-handed approach to COVID, now the government trying to downplay COVID.

People here were caught off guard by this 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 incredibly hard to get and out of stock here in Beijing. The country is scrambling now to boost the elderly vaccination rate and increased ICU capacity.

At a state media event, some health experts even admitted that, quote, we were not super well prepared in certain aspects. The chief infectious disease doctor at a Beijing hospital 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 during China's winter when millions are expected to travel across the country for the New Year holiday, and also, while seasonal flu could further strain hospitals. Well this timing, it's led to a wave of criticism on Chinese social media. State media has reported that all vacations for doctors and nurses in China's central Hainan province will be canceled until March.

The report said, quote, health workers must be on duty 24 hours a day to ensure we smoothly pass this transition period. Hainan, which is 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.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.

WALKER: Yes, that is quite significant. Selina, thank you.

Well, this morning, more than 100,000 customers across the Northeast are without power as millions remain under winter weather alerts along the East Coast.

SANCHEZ: This nor'easter brought several feet of snow to parts of New England and rain to coastal areas. Let's get your forecast now from the CNN Weather Center with Meteorologist Allison Chinchar. Allison, bring us up to speed on this winter storm.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, it's a storm that just doesn't seem to want to go away. Remember, a lot of this storm has made the bulk of its way across the U.S. but it's still lingering across the Northeast for today. So you are still looking at the chance for some rain showers along the coast and some heavy snow showers once you're talking about interior northeast.

But even cities like Portland and Boston, we've already started to see that transition from rain into snow. So just being on the coast doesn't mean you're necessarily in the clear from getting some of the snow. And one thing to notice, any additional snow today is on top of what we've already seen.

Areas of Vermont have picked up about 2 feet of snow. But other areas such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York, some of those areas have picked up over 1 foot of snow and now we're going to be adding on top of it. Areas of the Midwest also likely to see some snow today. This is mostly going to be from lake effect enhancement as it's considered. It's supposed to be very windy today across much of the Great Lake's region.

Widespread you're talking most of these areas about 4 to 6 inches of additional snow, where the exception to that is going to be upstate New York and portions of Pennsylvania, right there are along the lakes where you could see as much as an additional foot of snow on top of what they've already had.


One thing that's going to be an equal opportunity provider over the next week is this cold air surge, which is going to begin across the northern tier of the country and then begin to make its way east as we go through the rest of the upcoming week. And in some cases, you're talking 20 to even 40 degrees below normal.

Minneapolis, for example, starting at 21 today, which is already below their normal average, getting down to maybe barely, Boris and Amara, right around positives by the end of the week.


SANCHEZ: That makes me want to cry. Of course, my tears would freeze. Allison Chinchar --

CHINCHAR: Yes, they would.

SANCHEZ: -- thank you so much.

CHINCHAR: You're right.

SANCHEZ: Hey, don't go anywhere. Join us again in an hour.

WALKER: We'll talk to an official in El Paso who says the number of migrants coming into his town is about to double. Smerconish is up next. See you then.