Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Tonight

At Least 49 Dead In Severe Winter Weather, Thousands Of Flights Canceled, As Much As Four Feet Of Snow In Buffalo Region; Four Power Substations Vandalized In Washington State, Causing 14,000 To Lose Power On Christmas Day; Rep.-Elect George Santos (R-NY) Admits He Fabricated His Resume, But Says He Is Not A Criminal And Will Still Take Office; Representative-Elect George Santos Lied About His Credentials; CNN's Matthew Chance Reflects On The War In Ukraine; Free Returns To Become A Thing Of The Past. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 26, 2022 - 22:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The massive winter storm swept across the country over Christmas is still causing havoc tonight. At least 49 people were killed in the storm. And there is still roughly four feet of snow in the buffalo region and thousands of flights are still getting canceled, leaving travelers stranded.

So we want to bring in now CNN's Lucy Kafanov, she is live for us in Denver. What is the situation, Lucy?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, this is what not a lot of fun looks like. Denver airport unfortunately leading the nation in terms of flight delays and cancelations, more than 500 flights delayed, more than 468 flights canceled, 75 percent of those coming from Southwest. And that is unfortunately not Denver alone, those numbers reverberating, those delays reverberating across the nation, impacting travel all across the country.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wasn't anticipating a nightmare but it became a nightmare, it did.

KAFANOV (voice over): Christmas may be over, but for thousands of passengers, the travel nightmare goes on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They canceled our flight and they said they can't help us. So, we don't know what to do.

KAFANOV: Southwest Airlines at the top of the list for cancelations. The airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore's BWI Airport a zoo, Denver airport's lines for the Southwest ticket counter even longer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we have to wait in a line that was four hours and we're still in line and nobody is giving us any direction on what line to get in. It's a total you know what show here.

KAFANOV: And for those trying to call to rebook, well, good luck getting through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Calling Southwest, calling the airlines, they're nowhere to be found. I actually got hung up on multiple times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem is that Southwest, they don't give any answer, they don't answer the phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no option to rebook anything online. Oh, I've also been on hold for 5 hours and 43 minutes.

KAFANOV: Passenger Jason Friede, shows us the proof.

In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines said it is experiencing disruptions across our network as a result of the winter storm's lingering effects on the totality of our operation.

In the wake of dangerously cold temperatures and winter weather across the nation, airlines canceling thousands of flights on Monday --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were scheduled to fly out on Saturday and canceled flight after canceled flight until this morning, now it's stand by, hoping they'll get on to get home.

KAFANOV: -- thousands more flights delayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just delay, delay, delay, rinse and repeat.

KAFANOV: At airports across the nation, long lines, chaos, frustrated passengers and luggage piling up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lack of communication. There is no transparency. There's no honesty. I don't know what is going on. There's no staff. It's okay if there is no staff but we just want them to be honest with us and I could just go home. But we can't go home because we don't know where luggage is. Is it here in Atlanta, is it in Chicago? We have no idea.

KAFANOV: Some passengers choosing to look at the bright side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like super stressful. But, I mean, just happy I got to see my family for Christmas, and, hey, I'm off this week, so I'll be good.

KAFANOV: Others finding creative solutions for their journeys home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of waiting on a maybe flight and paying through my proverbial nose for a rental car, if I'm able to get one, I called a friend of mine. I'm driving a rental cargo van down to Nashville, Tennessee.


KAFANOV (on camera): Now, Southwest issued an apology statement pointing to what they described as extreme winter weather. Although I should point out that here in Denver, we had a high of about 52 degrees, so not extremely extreme here in Colorado at least. And they did apologize for these delays, but again, Alisyn, that is cold comfort for the hundreds, if not thousands of Americans who are stranded all across the nation and unable to get home. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Yes, truly cold comfort. Lucy, thank you very much for being there for us. So, also Southwest says that it is going to help stranded customers, but we will see about that.

All right, let's also find out when this frigid weather ends. Let's get to Meteorologist Tom Sater in the weather center. Tom?

TOM SATER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Alisyn, even though the snow is winding down somewhat, we still have this multifaceted storm. The cold is still with us and it is absolutely brutal, as wind chills are still in the single digits in Buffalo, well below zero, Minneapolis, Des Moines.

But we've now got other problems coming, and that is a massive warm- up. As fast as the temperatures fell and throws everything, they are going to warm up and thaw, and that is going to lead to other issues.

But, first, let's talk about the only warning we have left, is the Watertown area and surrounding counties. So, the winds still coming in off Lake Ontario depositing more snow, several more inches. Now, for Buffalo, it is just about over with.


In fact, the radar is showing us some very good news.

But, again, record-breaking, and it was mainly the winds. They can handle the snow. Just last month, they had over 36 inches, many areas were breaking records with the amount of snow just last month, and here they are doing it again. But with those winds and the bitter cold, it was just a horrific story.

Heavier snowfall, actually, down in areas around Paducah, icy roads in Central Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, Alabama. Overall, though, when you look at the amount of snow that has fallen, it wasn't just for us, our neighbors to the north in Ontario as well. But when all this starts to melt, it is going to create a world of problems. And we are not just talking about pipes bursting. And that is going to happen with this massive warm-up.

But we are going to have rain moving in on top of all of this heavy snow. Ice is going to jam up all of the drainage spots. And when you look at next week, we are not only above normal, we are well above normal. So, again, this is going to give us a world of problems. Several states already seeing main water main breaks, such as Memphis, parts of the Carolinas as well. But when you have 49, and will go up to 50, and all of that snow starts to melt, we have got problems. Look at Buffalo, even with snow, are changing, though, rainfall that is for Saturday, Sunday, Monday. The problems are not over with just yet.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Tom, thank you for all of that.

So, this brutal winter weather has a lot of us thinking about what we need to know to save ourselves and our loved ones if we get stranded somehow in the next monster storm.

We have got an expert here tonight. Mark Weinert is the owner and lead instructor of Lifesong., He joins us now. Mark, thanks so much for being here.

You know, 49 people as of tonight have died across the country because of these massive snowstorms and 27 alone in Erie County. That's where Buffalo is. And many of those, it turns out, were trapped in their cars and got frozen. I mean, either they got trapped in the snow and couldn't drive any further, maybe they ran out of gas. So, what could have prevented that?

MARK WEINERT, OWNER AND LEAD INSTRUCTOR, LIFESONG WILDERNESS ADVENTURES: Hi, yes. Well, those are always hard questions. Don't drive. That is the number one, right? Blizzard conditions, you can't see, it is icy. I know a lot of people had to leave to help relatives or friends to get through elderly people, just commute or on vacation.

We kind of have this idea that we can do anything. And nature usually has a way of humbling. And when you're stuck, and cars are terrible to stay warm in, they are horrible, you can run your heater -- go ahead.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I want to know about that. Because here is what I would think, is that you are stuck in a snow bank, and you can run your heater until you run out of gas. But, I mean, some people were trapped for hours and hours. What other tips do you have? What do we need to carry in our cars with us?

WEINERT: Well, yes. In the car, you should only run your heater for about 40 minutes at a time. Turn it off and then turn it back on so you can save gas. You want to make sure that your exhaust pipe is clear on the car because you can get -- carbon monoxide is really a big problem. Crack your window when you are doing that. And so, yes, you want to have, oh gosh, extra clothes.

CAMEROTA: Hold on, mark, let me stop you right there, because we have actually a graphic of tips which I think is really helpful. So, obviously, you should have your cell phone, which is, of course, we all know, God willing, you have yourself in. Don't leave your vehicle, you say, unless help is in sight. That's interesting because I think a lot of people that were killed did leave thinking that either they are out of gas or their car is stranded, so they need to walk for help. But you are saying don't do that?

WEINERT: Right. So, it depends on the weather. Like if you have a whiteout and if your audience knows what that means, is that visibility can be zero. And so if you are trying to walk for help and you are leaving your vehicle, what are you wearing? Where are you going? What can you see? So, you are better to stay in place in your vehicle.

CAMEROTA: And, Mark, what about, when you say open, windows slightly? Why am I opening my window if it is freezing out?

WEINERT: Well, so you get air into the vehicle. So, if you are running your heater and you could get exhaust fumes into your car and suffer with carbon monoxide poisoning, which actually does kill a lot of people.

CAMEROTA: You also say, signal for help by turning on your flashers, raising the hood, tie a bright colored cloth do your antenna to signal to people that you are in distress. Now, let's talk about what you should just carry in your car at all times, because the list is longer than I would have thought.

So, here is the list, one gallon of drinking water, but charged cell phone, yes, of course, a flashlight and extra batteries, hand warmers.


I mean, those are easy. Everybody really should have like hand warmers in their car. They are so easy to get now. Blankets, extra clothing, large garbage bags. why do we need those?

WEINERT: Yes, garbage bags are great because they are lightweight and you can use them to wrap around your shoes. So, let's say you have some tennis shoes on and you want to go out and check your exhaust pipe. If you throw those around your feet and tie them on you are going to keep your shoes pretty dry and your socks, and that is the worst you can do, to get chilled and cold.

CAMEROTA: You also see matches, what is that for?

WEINERT: Well, matches are always just good to have. You just never know when you could use them outside. If the weather permits, you could build a warming fire, if you are going to be there for several days outside the vehicle, not inside the vehicle.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for clarifying for me. You can see that you are not dealing with a survivalist here.

So, also you said, should you really be carrying a bag of cat litter in your car at all times and why?

WEINERT: Well, it is a traction device. So, maybe today you have seen more people are pushing vehicles by hand, trying to get them unstuck, where their tires are spinning. You have a little cat litter, you can toss that under your front wheel drive tires or your rear tires to gain traction.

CAMEROTA: Well, Mark, thanks for all these tips. I mean, I am going to go home. I'd put these hand warmers in my car. The garbage bags are a great idea, and matches, but I will remember not to light them in my car for a fire. Mark Weinert, thanks so much for all the tips. Stay safe.

WEINERT: Yes, you too, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. Thousands of people in Washington State were without electricity on Christmas Day after power substations were again vandalized. This comes on the heels of similar attacks on energy infrastructure around the country. So, up next, the vulnerability of the nation's power grid and why we are seeing so many of these attacks.



CAMEROTA: Nearly 14,000 people spend Christmas Day in the dark in Washington State, and that is because four separate power substations were vandalized. This comes weeks after a similar attack in North Carolina that left thousands of people without power. In both instances, the police have made no arrests and have no suspects that we are aware of.

CNN's Josh Campbell has the latest.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Four power substations in Washington State vandalized on Christmas Day, knocking out power for thousands and impacting holiday plans for many. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department says deputies found evidence of forced entry and damage at all four stations. Nothing was stolen and there are no suspects at this time.

SGT. DARREN MOSS JR., PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, PIERCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: There is a good possibility they are related. We are going to be investigating to see if this was coordinated by a specific group of people.

CAMPBELL: Roughly 14,000 customers were impacted, this after vandalism and deliberate damage were reported last month at substations in Southern Washington and Oregon. And a similar incident just weeks ago at power substations in Moore County, North Carolina, where about 40,000 customers were left in the dark for days with temperatures dipping into the 40s. Schools and business were forced to close until power was restored. No motive has been announced and no arrests have been made in those attacks.

MOSS: We are aware of those things and we are going to see if any of the stuff is related to that.

CAMPBELL: The FBI issued a bulletin last month to private industry warning of threats to electricity infrastructure by individuals espousing racially or ethnically motivated extremist ideology to, quote, create civil disorder and inspire further violence.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The potential attacks on critical infrastructure are being promoted by the right-wing. They see it as a way to show disruption, to show power. They also view it as a way to start a race war. December 25th attack that's hitting three or four substations is being done to make a statement. MOSS: We don't know what the motives or anything at this time, but, again, just a really terrible way to welcome everybody to Christmas morning.

CAMPBELL: Amanda Clark is one customer who had a rude awakening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We woke up at 5:30 and the power was out.

CAMPBELL: She said she had holiday party plans for 12 people at her home. But with no power, she had to cancel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary in our small little community that something like that would happen.

CAMPBELL: Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.


CAMEROTA: Josh, thank you very much. Joining me now is Juliette Kayyem, CNN National Security Analyst and former Department of Homeland Security official, also former Congressman Charlie Dent, who served on the House of Homeland Security Committee. Thanks to you for being.

Juliette, that really got my attention what you just said. What do you mean start a race war? Why would they be attacking power substations?

KAYYEM: So, there is a theory in the right-wing in the sort of social media, the atmosphere, the environment that they live in, and it is beginning to focus, or in the last year or so, to focus on critical infrastructure. But it is not simply we want to be disruptive, we want to show that we can pull these things off, we are just going to be chaos for chaos' sake.

Part of the literature supports these kinds of attacks because there is a belief that, in the darkness, right, human nature is, as they believe it to be, and there will be race wars. This is what they believe. So, that the darkness, you know, in terms of going after energy facilities, is that then will then begin the civil war that they have been demanding or clamoring for for years now.

So, we don't know specifically whether this case is related to that. But one of the reasons there has been a number of homeland security and FBI bulletins in the last couple of months is because that chatter has been consistent and much louder.

CAMEROTA: That is really sinister. So, Charlie, when you were on the House Homeland Security Committee, how big of a concern was this and how big is it for you now?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this was a concern when I was on the committee back from like 2005 to 2010. At that time, after 9/11, we are very concerned about the electric infrastructure, particularly nuclear power plants. And those plants, frankly, were pretty hard targets. They are not particularly vulnerable but the public was concerned about them. And I thought we spent too much time on nuclear plants and should have been focusing more on this threat, which we are aware of, that these power stations that have these transformers were very vulnerable to these types of sniper rifle attacks, that's somebody who is a good shot you could cause a lot of damage. This would be a very disruptive act.

And, frankly, I think we need to harden those targets more than we have. Maybe build walls or you can build, you know, nontransparent fencing around those to make it more difficult. But we are aware this is a problem in these could cause enormous issues, because you can't always replace a transformer overnight. It takes time, I mean, to build those things or even repair them.


So, this can be a really -- a very big problem for this country going forward, that these are going to be targets because there are many of these power substations throughout the country that are vulnerable.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, there has been a spate of these attacks. So, are these -- I mean, do you think that these are coordinated? They don't feel like isolated incidents. Are these copycat incidents or is there something more nefarious going on?

KAYYEM: So, honestly, Alisyn, we don't know yet. I mean, it is surprising, I think, that the North Carolina case has not been solved yet. We don't know if they have suspects that they think they have identified. A lot of these facilities, as Charlie was saying, are not fortified. They're exposed. They are next to highways. And they are small. And these are communities that are impacted, of course, the facilities themselves are -- it is not like the Hoover Dam or a nuclear facility, these are small pieces of infrastructure.

But because of what we call the threat environment, in other words, as you go into these investigations, investigators will not be blind to the idea that there is a sort of right-wing or extremism element that is pushing its followers to go after critical infrastructure. And so you want to see what the ties are, whether they focus on North Carolina or Washington or wherever else, that would be your leading theory at this stage because it hasn't been that common until the chatter picked up.

CAMEROTA: But, Charlie, I mean, given that you knew or were concerned about this in 2005, and Juliette is saying that online there are all of these threats, are you surprised that they don't have any suspects? Aren't there cameras around some of these things?

DENT: Well, back in 2013 at the San Jose substation, I don't think they have ever made any arrests. They may have cameras but many of these substations are in some rural areas. As Juliette said, they are rather small, and so you could be hanging out from a pretty far distance taking shots at these things. And even if there were cameras, there might not be -- if you have one of these powerful rifles, you can shoot from a distance. And if you are a good shot, you know, you can cause problems. So, this is not so easy. I think that the better answer to this is rather than trying to figure out who did it is to start fortifying these things. And, again, these are not big facilities. So, you can build fences that are not transparent and you can also perhaps build walls around them, make it hard for people to take shots at them. You know what the problem is. Let's deal with it. Let's make them hard targets.

CAMEROTA: And, Juliette, what about you? I mean, the fact that you're saying that online, they have been telegraphing this stuff. Why is it so hard to find suspects?

KAYYEM: Part of it is the darkness, part of it is that not all of these facilities are in urban areas, where there might be people that see them do it. These are, you know, on roads in which someone can stop, especially someone who knows the facility and simply shoot it out. So, these are significant investigations to solve at this stage, though. And I'm glad that the FBI is involved with all these cases, in fact even the old California one.

And the reason why is there's only some very high-profile arrest to show that law enforcement can break these cases. It will at least stop or at least try to deter some people from doing this again. The more that these cases remain unsolved, the more oxygen it gives to the fire of the hate and the right-wing elements that we see online to believe that there would be no consequences for what they do. So, we hope that there will be arrests relatively soon.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Charlie, Juliette, thanks for all the information, great to talk to you.

Okay, just ahead, an incoming Republican Congressman admits that he lied about his resume. He says he is not a criminal but there is more to this story. Should he be allowed to keep his seat in the next Congress? We will tell you what he is saying now tonight.



CAMEROTA: Tonight, incoming Republican Congressman George Santos is admitting that he lied on his resume about his education, about his work history and his personal life. Here is what he just said on WABC Radio.


REP.-ELECT GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY) (voice over): I am not a fraud. I am not a criminal who defrauded the entire country and made up this fictional character and ran for Congress. I've been around a long time. I mean, a lot of people know me. They know who I am. They have done business dealings with me.

And I am not going to make excuses for this but a lot of people overstate in their resumes or twist a little bit or make themselves ingratiate themselves. I'm not saying I'm guilty of that. I want to make sure that if disappointed anyone by resume embellishment, I am sorry.


CAMEROTA: Let's bring in Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair Molly Jong-Fast, Juliette Kayyem is back with us, as is Charlie Dent, also joining us is Nina Turner, co-chair of Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign. Great to have of all you.

Molly, he says, I am not a fraud. He kind of is a fraud, actually. Because when you lie to this degree -- let's just go through his claims right now. We have a graphic to show everyone. He said he worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, nope, no he didn't. He did not graduate from any college but said that he had degrees from two different universities, including NYU. He falsely claimed to be Jewish and have grandparents who survived the Holocaust, not true. And he claimed to have run a nonprofit to rescue animals, but the organization does not exist. That is a little more than resume embellishment.

MOLLY JONG-FAST, HOST, FAST POLITICS PODCAST: Yes, he is a talented Mr. Soros -- Santos, talented Mr. Santos. I mean, I think, you know, this is really a very -- this is a sort of shocking level of -- this is not embellishment, these are lies. It is funny when he says, I am not fraud, because really is a fraud.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I don't know how actually you would describe that level of untruths. Nina, what are voters to do about this? He is about to be sworn in.

NINA TURNER, CO-CHAIR BERNIE SANDERS' 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Yes, Alisyn, he's a liar, just a straight-up liar. I mean, they need to do a recall on him. The GOP should call him out. I mean, Imagine if I said as I was running for office, I was the first black woman to hit the moon, I went on the moon. Hey, I was just embellishing. It is not a crime. He's right, it is not a crime, but he is a liar.


He deceived the people who voted for him for his own gain. And if he had any dignity, he would just step down, but he doesn't because he is power hungry and they need to launch a recall on him.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, when you were in Congress, if you had a colleague who is showing up who had won with completely false credentials, what are the people in Congress supposed to do about him now?

DENT: Well, this man, he is going to become a real embarrassment and distraction. He will become radioactive among many of his colleagues. He will come under tremendous pressure to resign. He will, of course, be primaried in all likely, I'm sure for being primaried in New York. Not to mention the Democrats will elevate this seat to the top, probably their top target for 2024.

So, this guy's going to have really problems walking in the door. Now, they are not going to get this guy to resign until after he votes for speaker, I suspect. But like I said, he may not resign, but the pressure on him will be very, very strong. When I dealt with these cases when I was chair of the ethics committee, when we had distractions and embarrassments, we wanted them to go away because, I will tell you, they don't want -- one thing Congress doesn't like to do is to set precedents.

With respect to behavior of candidates like this one who obviously fabricated his resume, you know, you really don't want to have set a precedent about how to deal with folks like this. It's best just to get him to resign and get him out of the house. That way you don't have to deal with it.

CAMEROTA: Juliette, he can't be trusted to do anything. I mean, it would be hard to believe anything he says. If you, you know, if you're willing to lie about your grandparents having been in the holocaust, what aren't you willing to lie about?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah. No, he's got -- these aren't just any lies, something that whether he embellishes that he worked at Goldman Sachs. I mean, some of the significant lies are ones that sort of touch on some of the greatest tragedies of our -- of the last century, certainly.

And the horror of this century, both the holocaust to sort of surround yourself with that is a form of delusion and crazy that is not like, oh, I got a master's degree at some university. This is someone who is in a high off of other people's tragedy and he does it again when he says that he lost some employees at the Pulse nightclub. That strikes me as someone who is fixated on other people's tragedy, which I think for the report, the (inaudible) base, and then certainly for voters later really is a tell.

This is not just, you know, I am richer than you think I am or, you know, whatever Trump does or whoever. These are really bizarre ones in terms of the tragedy of others and him wanting to be in that light, so to speak and to gain sympathy by other people's tragedy. That is sick. That is not just delusional, that is just sick.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. CNN is still checking that one out. We are still investigating it to make sure that he didn't have four employees that died in the Pulse nightclub. That seems unlikely, particularly given his track record of not telling the truth. But we are still investigating that.

But also, it just goes to show, Molly, just horrible judgment. He doesn't think that people can check to find out if he ever worked at Citigroup or (inaudible). Most say he never worked there. I mean, this shows some level of, I don't know, I mean, I know I am diagnosed personality disorder. So, there is something more than just embellishing.

MILLY JONG-FAST, HOST, FAST POLITICS PODCAST: Yeah. And then there is definitely something really off here. I would also say that I think that some of the failure here is the state Democratic chair of New York State, this was a very bad election cycle for Democrats in New York State. And this candidate, you know, had there been a little more attention paid, could have, you know, didn't necessarily need to have, you know, could have been knocked out.

CAMEROTA: Nina, what were you saying?

TURNER: Well, I mean, I'm not going to blame the Democrats for this man running. He is a Republican and he just lied and deceived the people for his own gain. This is strictly lies at his feet. The man has a problem. I do agree, I think he does have some sort of problem. And now that problem becomes the voters problem.

And to the point about they're going to wait until the votes for leadership, what kind of integrity is that? They should run him out of there right now and, you know, do a recall on him. But to wait for him to vote for leadership definitely shows the flaws even with the GOP if that's the case.

CAMEROTA: For sure, but Nina, who could have (inaudible) this out? Whose fault, I mean, obviously, it's his fault. But who could have figured this out before he was elected?

TURNER: From a political -- from political, I get the point that the person running against him could have laid this to bear, right. They could have said to the public, this man is a fraud. He lied about this and this and this. Yes, the Democrats could have done that. But the GOP should have done some vetting on this dude too.

But you know what, because that's what each party does, usually, they vet their candidates a little bit. So, there was no vetting on the GOP side. So, all I'm saying is that you're going to lay this at the feet of the Democrats, the Republicans brought this dude to power.


And so, they have an obligation to the voters, to the Republican voters and to the Democrats that he will serve too now that he is a congressman-elect. They have a duty to the voters to clean up the mess that they made.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, go ahead, Molly.

JONG-FAST: I would just say that I think that the opponent did not get a great amount of support from the Democratic Party in this race. And that it wasn't -- it might -- they -- that had it gotten more attention, that some of this could have come out earlier.

And I think there have been a lot of Democrats in New York who have said that it might be time for Jay Jacobs, who was appointed by Cuomo, who is a Cuomo holdover and who did not have a very good cycle, that this might be yet another side that it's time for Jay Jacobs to go.

CAMEROTA: Charlie, did the Republicans fail here?

DENT: Yeah. Look, there are a lot of lousy candidates who ran this cycle. I mean, you know, and we can talk about vetting all we want, but I saw some horrible candidates who would have been disqualified for some of the things they said and did, and they were well known. But this guy? Why didn't they, I mean, but seriously, the Democrats,

why didn't they do better opposition research? They must have had a file on this guy? Why they didn't think to get out there? I'm just -- I'm sorry, you know, at some point, you know, we spent a lot of money on opposition research, we investigate and we, you know, we look into the backgrounds of our opponents to see if there are issues like this.

I mean, I didn't hear any of this stuff before the election. Now, again, this is this man's fault. He is responsible for his own misconduct. Again, it doesn't appear to be -- it appears to be non- criminal conduct. But this is the kind of stuff that the campaign committees should have been all over and they should have been revealed and they should have smashed him with ads on this for the whole campaign.

CAMEROTA: I'll just read you a couple more of what he just said tonight in explaining how he, well, he doesn't say he lied. Okay, so this is from the "New York Post" about his religion. He says, "I never claimed to be Jewish. I'm Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was Jew-ish."

Okay. There is that. I have another one for you. He says also to the "New York Post, "I didn't graduate from any institution of higher learning. I am embarrassed and sorry for having embellishment resume. I own up to that. We do stupid things in life."

JONG-FAST: I mean, he could resign. I mean, if he is really embarrassed, he should resign. That's what you would do if you are really embarrassed, you'd apologize and resign.

CAMEROTA: Yeah, I guess.

DENT: That's exactly right.

CAMEROTA: I don't think that's what he is planning to do.

TURNER: Yeah, that's right, that's right. That's exactly right.

DENT: He is going to come under pressure.

TURNER: (Inaudible) has no shame.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead. Sorry, Charlie. What did you say?

TUUNER: The man has no shame.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Agree with you.

DENT: He's going to come under real pressure to resign and I think Nina might be right, a lot of these folks don't have any shame anymore. But believe me, I dealt with cases of non-criminal conduct when members of congress who were forced to resign. Remember the kissing congressman, he resigned. Others, marital infidelity. There is one case of drug use. Well, that was actually criminal.

But most of the times they are, you know, non-criminal or minor offenses and they were forced out because the leadership did not want to deal with this. They did not want to start the new Congress off talking about this guy and his -- not embellishments, his fabrications on the resume. (Inaudible)

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean, he lied.

TURNER: Alisyn, just one other quick point. I mean, the man lied. So, let's just put in embellishment is not fabrication. He is a pathological liar. But more importantly, I just want to center for a moment the voters that he deceived. Not the leadership of the GOP, but the voters that he deceived in that district. So, the GOP owes it to them.

Now, congressman, I understand what you are saying about [inaudible]. I get the opposition research. But more importantly, the GOP should have done a better job of vetting this dude. That's all I'm saying. I mean, two things can be -- more than one thing can be true.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I hear you and I appreciate everything you are saying. And I have a feeling we haven't heard the end from George Santos. That's my prediction tonight. But thank you all very much for helping us with this developing story.

Okay, so up next, nearly a full year into Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, CNN's Matthew Chance who was on a rooftop in Kyiv as the bombs started falling a year ago, he is going to look back on what it was like when the war began and what has happened since.



CAMEROTA: One year ago, Russian forces were amassing at the eastern border of Ukraine. But Vladimir Putin was oblivious to the fact that his forces would soon face a mighty Ukrainian resistance. A resistance so strong that it would leave his army hobbled almost a year later. There has been so much senseless loss since then. So much pain. It was around this time of night that the war first broke out. And CNN's Matthew Chance was there and he reflects on what it has been like to cover Putin's ruthless invasion.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNTATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When the invasion first began, I was standing on top of the roof of a hotel in the center of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, basically on television, having a conversation with a bunch of colleagues about how it was unlikely that Vladimir Putin even though he had built up tens of thousands of forces on the borders of Ukraine to the east, how unlikely it was that he was going to take that step, cross the Rubicon and launch a full scale invasion.


CHANCE: It's on the hands of the Ukrainians who resist. Oh, I tell you what, I just heard a big bang right here behind me. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CHANCE: And it was a really shocking experience because, you know, not only was I having to report on the bombardment of Kyiv, but I also had to, you know, radically recalculate what was going on, what was happening in this country I've been covering for so many years.


CHANCE: Oh, there is another one. I got a flak jacket right here. Let me just get it -- get it on.


CHANCE: Those first hours after the invasion were pretty frenetic. We didn't know what was really going on. There were all sorts of reports about Russian paratroopers moving into positions around the city. There was one particularly worrying report that airborne Russian special forces had moved into an airbase north of the Ukrainian capital, in an area called Gostomel. Gostomel, it was the Antonov airbase.


CHANCE: These troops, you can see over here, they are Russian airborne forces.


CHANCE: I started chatting to that commander. And in the conversation, I said to him, so, you know, look, give me an idea of what we are seeing here. Where are the Russians, I said. And he said to me, you know, what do you mean. He looked really confused. He said, what do you mean where the Russians?

And I said, well, we're going to go, okay, we'll be live in a minute on CNN, you know, I want to tell people where the Russian forces have got to. And he looks at me and he said, we are the Russians. We are the Russians. And at that point, we suddenly realized that we had come face to face, we've crossed the front lines inadvertently.



CHANCE: And so, it just shows us now for the first time just how close Russian forces have got towards the center of the Ukrainian capital.


CHANCE: I think what was most amazing, most surprising, I suppose, about those first few days was the level of resistance that we saw and that we witnessed by ordinary Ukrainians, as well as the Ukrainian military of course. But we saw ordinary Ukrainian people pick up weapons, defend their streets, their buildings, their yards. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNKNOWN: I didn't think I would join this unit just two days ago. I thought that, you know, I don't know how to handle guns.


CHANCE: And I remember looking down and they had a crate full of petrol bombs. You know, bottles with full of gasoline with rags in the top that they were going to throw at Russian forces as they came. And I asked one of the guys there. I said, did you make these? They're like, no. We didn't make them. It's the old women in the apartment blocks that are making them and then delivering them to us.

And it just really, you know, ran home, what a multi-layered sort of defense that the Russians were confronting. If they thought they were going to walk into the Ukrainian capital and take it over without a fight, I mean, what a massive miscalculation that was.

You know, within a couple of days of the invasion, we travelled to just a short distance from the capital. A bridge where there had been a battle just an hour or two before we got there.


CHANCE: Right within the past few hours there has been a ferocious battle here on the outskirts of Kyiv. And this is one of those Russian Soviet-era vehicles which is completely burned out. You can see that this is a bridge actually, it's an access point to the northwest of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. And the Russian column that has come down here has been absolutely hammered.


CHANCE: So, that was a very, very disturbing moment in the conflict. But it was also very profound in the sense that it just showed that Russia's calculation of sending a light armored columns into Ukraine to take the capital, to decapitate the Ukrainian government was not working. And it was not just not working, but it was devastating to the Russian armed forces.

I think one of the most incredible aspects of this conflict so far was been the dramatic transformation of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president from an actor and comedian to politician to president turned, you know, iconic world leader. I managed to speak to him. I was one of the first journalist to speak to him in his bunker in central Kyiv.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translation): And it's very important for people in the United States to understand that despite the fact that the war is taking precise in Ukraine, it's essentially for values in life, for democracy, for freedom. Therefore, this war is for all the world. And that message should be sent far and wide. From Ukraine to people in the United States so they understand what it is like for us here, what we are fighting for, and why support for Ukraine matters.


CHANCE: And it's incredible that Zelenskyy, from very early on, knew that he had to make this war much broader in its impacts. It wasn't just, it couldn't just be a war that Ukraine was fighting. It had to be a war that the rest of the world, at least the rest of the west was invested in.

I think 2022 will be remembered as the year that Russia hold itself into the abyss, or was held into the abyss by Vladimir Putin and his extraordinary war in Ukraine. Not only is the country facing a potentially devastating military defeat with tens of thousands of dead if not more, but also, it's facing economic catastrophe.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Matthew Chance for all of that insight and reporting. So, on a much lighter note, here at home, millions of people are getting ready to return their holiday gifts. And a lot of that is online. Well, online retailers have changed the rules and now it could cost you. So, we are going to tell you what you need to know and talk about our worst gifts ever, next.



CAMEROTA: Okay, by now you've opened your gifts. You like some of them. Others are total junk. But if your gifts were bought online, returning them could now cost you. The age of three free returns is over. Many retailers are now putting in stricter return policies that will charge you for restocking and repackaging.

How this will change all of our lives? Well, let's ask. Back with us we have Molly Jong-Fast, Julia Kayyem, Charlie Dent, and Nina Turner. Charlie, I read your notes. Is your wife to blame for this entire change of policy?

DENT: Well, I talked to her before I came on this segment. She is against refund fees and I am for it for the very simple reason, is that look, millions of people like my wife, they will order a piece of clothing but they will buy three or four sizes knowing damn well that they are going to return most of them.

They do this all the time. This is expensive. You know, I never shop online, I'll have you know. I bought a few books a few years ago. Now, I go to stores. I walk into the store, I know what I'm going to get before I walk in and I go by it. And so, look, these refund fees, to me they make sense. I understand why retailers are doing it. And frankly, if this discourages my wife from shopping online, I'm all for it.

CAMEROTA: I resemble some of those remarks, Charlie, that you're blaming your way for, but that's hilarious. So, Juliette, this is going to -- here are the list of major chains that are changing their policies that everybody should know about. Anthropology, Zara, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew.

Basically, they are now going to charge something like $7.50 for when you return their stuff. Because as Charlie points out, don't all of us sometimes order multiple things in different sizes because we don't feel like going to the store and trying it on? So, then we try it on at home and then we return it and we see free of charge.

KAYYEM: Yeah, shopping is miserable and doing it online has made it more variable. I mean, for working parents and working mothers it is ideal because you don't have to waste a Saturday. But let alone for holiday shopping, I'm going to will say one thing as the queen of cyber Monday, which I take, I love it.


You can get a lot done and maybe have to return some things, but this is -- this to me started -- they must have done some calculation that they think they will win rather than deter people from shopping online. And I would do it now. For me, it will be more of a deterrent from doing anything online, which is not necessarily good for the retailers.

CAMEROTA: Nina, is this going to change your life?

TURNER: I mean, not necessarily my life but a lot of people will be impacted by this. They need to make sure they can have that policy upfront so people know and that folks should shop, you know, where they can take the items back into the store if they have to.

I mean, some of these chains have made lots of money, inflation I know has an impact, but it's having an impact on the buyer as well. And so, in some cases, I think that this is unfair. People are shopping, that's what you want them to do and they should be able to return their items.

CAMEROTA: How many presents do you plan to return, Molly?

JONG-FAST: You know, I -- we don't do a ton of presents in my house.

CAMEROTA: You don't?

JONG-FAST: Yeah. So, I am not going to return anything.

CAMEROTA: You told me earlier that you have never liked anything that anybody has given to you.


CAMEROTA: How is that possible?

JONG-FAST: I mean, because if I wanted it, I would get it for myself. I mean, I don't know. You know, I get a lot of socks. Sometimes they are good socks.


JONG-FAST: I mean, you know, I think my -- people around me know enough not to get me stuff.

CAMEROTA: Don't ever get Molly more socks, guys, okay? All of the friends that are watching right now. Juliette, worst gift ever?

KAYYEM: A guy got me earrings and I don't have pierced ears.

CAMEROTA: Oh. And then what happened to (inaudible)?

KAYYEM: I -- gone.

CAMEROTA: Gone. Got it.

KAYYEM: That to me is a sign that you are not paying attention. Molly gets her socks, so, I'd like the socks, but I don't need the earrings.

CAMEROTA: That's awesome. All right, guys, thank you very much. Merry Christmas to all. Happy Holidays. Thanks so much for watching. Really appreciate you guys and our coverage continues.