Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

World Cup Winners Arrive to Huge Crowds in Buenos Aires; World Cup Win Takes Edge off Argentina's Economic Crisis; CNN First Visits Snake Island after Recapture; January 6 Committee Recommends Four Criminal Charges against Trump; At Least 26 Dead in Peru Protests; U.S. Border Cities Brace for Migrant Influx. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired December 20, 2022 - 10:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They danced, they cried, they are shouting in the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina's football team bringing back the

precious World Cup trophy, and there is a parade happening right now in the capital. We will be there and --


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The soldiers told us we need to follow in their footsteps exactly. We need to be very careful

where we step. This whole island is littered with land mines.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN's Will Ripley is the first journalist to visit Ukraine's infamous Snake Island. He

will show us what he saw in his exclusive report.


KINKADE (voice-over): Also ahead, Trump's legal blows deep en, U.S. lawmakers are recommending criminal charges against the former president

for his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.


KINKADE: Hello, I'm Lynda Kinkade, at the CNN Center for this very special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Coy Wire, it is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, indeed, Lynda. A little bit of a party going on.

KINKADE: There is a massive celebration like no other. Now the soul of the nation coming together in tribute in Argentina.




WIRE: Our next guest, Patrick Gillespie, a Bloomberg Business reporter, covering economics and politics in Argentina, soon after Argentina's

victory at the World Cup, he wrote a piece where he said, quote, "Winning soccer's ultimate prize provided a much needed distraction from the misery

of day-to-day life."

Patrick, so good that you're joining us now. Tell us about what you mean by that.

PATRICK GILLESPIE, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sunday was such a euphoric day for Argentinians. They're going through so much with

inflation. They're at 100 percent. Economic growth is slowing down and we have a lot of uncertainty ahead next year with a presidential election,

which is usually a very volatile time in the country.


GILLESPIE: So this is a much needed distraction for Argentines that have just gone through some of the worst economic times that most economies are

seeing in the world right now.

KINKADE: Yes, certainly, I mean, what is happening in real time in terms of inflation, we saw it rise to 100 percent in November. And it is now the

highest in 30 years. Give us a sense of what people are experiencing day to day. It is a far cry from what we're seeing in terms of the celebrations


GILLESPIE: Yes, today was a much needed distraction. But day to day in Buenos Aires and around the country, you see people checking prices of, you

know, essential goods every day. The government is trying to implement measures that investors don't see as the most long term successful.

They are trying to freeze prices on certain items. But you see people checking the exchange rate every day, checking prices every day. And it

really leads to a lot of, you know, there is a lot of obsession about, what is inflation today?

What is the exchange rate today?

And so, it delays lots of decisions. It makes doing business down here very complicated. So the inflation is really at the heart of day-to-day life in

Argentina. Unfortunately, it is slowing growth, it is hurting wages and it's really impacting the economy in a litany of ways.

So today's World Cup is great but unfortunately it is not going to fix the long term economic problems in Argentina.


KINKADE: For now, we are going to take a quick break. And coming up we will have a CNN exclusive.


RIPLEY: We get off before the waves get too big and before the Russians know we're here.

KINKADE (voice-over): CNN, the first TV network to visit Ukraine's Snake Island, a crucial Black Sea outpost. We'll have that report when we come







KINKADE: Welcome back.

Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has visited a front line town decimated by the war. He met with soldiers and handed out awards in Bakhmut

earlier today. The town in the Donetsk region has been the scene of some of the most ferocious fighting in the country.

Now to our CNN exclusive report, we are taking you to a remote island on the Black Sea. Snake Island has become a symbol of resistance in Ukraine.

Russia tried to take over the island in the early days of the war but Ukrainian forces famously resisted, swearing at Russian troops.

Our Will Ripley made the risky trip to the strategic landmark and filed this exclusive report.


RIPLEY (voice-over): As the saying goes, whoever controls Snake Island controls the Black Sea. The safest way to get there, the Ukrainian

military's inflatable speedboat with seating for six. It's small enough to stay out of sight.

RIPLEY: We are really getting tossed around out here but we need to take a small boat because we need to stay out of the sights of Russian

reconnaissance aircraft.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Safer than a helicopter but no protection from the Black Sea's big waves, bitter cold and whipping winds, not to mention the

vines (ph). By the end of our stomach-turning journey, Snake Island's craggy cliffs are a welcome sight. Up close, a pier in pieces, previews the

destruction we're about to see.

We enter Snake Island by climbing up a pile of half-sunken, slippery sea blocks. We're the first journalists allowed here since Ukraine recaptured

Snake Island five months ago. Russia blanketed the island with booby traps before bailing out.

RIPLEY: The soldiers told us we need to follow in their footsteps exactly and we need to be very careful where we step. This whole island is littered

with land mines, unexploded ordnance. Basically a powder keg.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A powder keg with plenty of cats wandering through the wreckage of 10 brutal months of war. Not a snake in sight. On February

24th, the first day of Russia's full-scale invasion, Russia's Black Sea flagship, the Moskva, aimed its arsenal at Snake Island, demanding dozens

of Ukrainians surrender or die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am a Russian military ship. I propose that you lay down your weapons immediately or you will be bombed.

RIPLEY: What happened next is how legends are made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Russian warship, go (INAUDIBLE) yourself.

RIPLEY: Five words, seen at the time as a final act of defiance. Everyone on Snake Island presumed dead. Russian bombs raining down. The island's

radio went silent. Those five words telling the Russian warship where to go. Instantly iconic. Inspiring T-shirts, postage stamps, pop songs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Russian warship, go (INAUDIBLE) yourself.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Ukraine later learned Snake Island's defenders were alive, prisoners of war. Some released in a POW swap earlier this year,

others remain in Russian captivity.

RIPLEY: Is it intimidating to look out and see a giant Russian warship and know that you guys are a small group here?

RIPLEY (voice-over): If anybody tells you it's not intimidating, he's a liar says Fortuna, a volunteer soldier. It was chaos. The garrison here was

small. Russia captured the island quickly. Taking the island back took a long time.

On Snake Island we find a graveyard of Russian weapons. The result of relentless Ukrainian attacks for several months earlier this year.

RIPLEY: This is one of Russia's most expensive anti- aircraft weapon systems. As you can see, not much use anymore.

RIPLEY (voice-over): In April, Ukraine says its missiles sank the Moskva. Where did it go?

The bottom of the Black Sea. A humiliated Kremlin says their flagship caught fire, sinking in stormy weather.

In May, a Ukrainian drone strike on Snake Island turned this helicopter into a fireball.

RIPLEY: This is what's left of that Russian helicopter, pulverized along with its crew of about eight people.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A twisted relic of Russia's ill-fated plan to transform this remote Black Sea outpost into a permanent aircraft carrier.

RIPLEY: What's it like to live out here?

RIPLEY (voice-over): "We need to be on guard 24/7," Fortuna says. So we never get bored.

We notice his Russian accent. It turns out, Fortuna was born in Russia. He moved to Ukraine and got married before the war. Now part of a Russian

volunteer corps protecting Snake Island for Ukraine.

RIPLEY: How do you feel about Russia now?

RIPLEY (voice-over): "For us, they're enemies, no matter what. Most of the Russian volunteer corps lived in Ukraine before the invasion," he says. "We

were living life, had families, good jobs. And here comes Russia, attacking us. If some other country attacked us, we would fight, too."

Life on Snake Island means almost total isolation. Soldiers tell me the simple act of switching on a cell phone brings Russian rockets within 40

minutes. They say Russia attacked the island just last month.

RIPLEY: We are now out of time. We've been on the island just about an hour. And it's important that we get off before the waves get too big and

before the Russians know we're here.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The Ukrainian say Russia blew up Snake Island's historic lighthouse and museum on the site of an ancient Greek temple. Evil

spirits are rumored to roam these 46 acres of rock and sand, bearing witness to centuries of bloodshed.

Ukraine is not the first nation to control Snake Island but vows it will be the last.


KINKADE: And our senior international correspondent, Will Ripley, joins us now live from the Ukrainian port city of Odessa.

Incredible reporting there, Will. The first TV crew on a Snake Island since it was taken back by the Ukrainians. And I understand it was a pretty

dangerous mission, I understand you and the crew spotted four different types of land mines.

RIPLEY: Yes, I mean, the island, as we said in the piece, is essentially a powder keg. Anytime there's a Russian rocket attack, there could

potentially be a chain reaction of explosions. It's an extraordinarily dangerous place for those brave soldiers, who are volunteering to be there,

to defend the island on behalf of Ukraine.

And it is a place where you're surrounded by water on all sides. You really do get a true sense of not only the isolation but feeling so small and

looking out at such a big ocean.

And in the case those defenders, on the very first day of the invasion, a massive Russian warship, with all of its weapons pointed directly at them.

And yet, they mustered up the courage to tell the Russians to go eff themselves.

Why did they do that?

I think there is, you know, Peter, Pierre, Posta, (ph) my team and I, we only got a small taste of the brutal cold and soaking wet and whipping

wind, the conditions that are really going to test anybody, you know, even for any amount of time.

And these people are living on that island in those conditions and not only doing that but then bravely fighting against all odds. And then they were

taken prisoner; then they endured pretty horrific treatment, at least some of them, at the hands of Russia when they were POWs.

But their spirit really inspired Ukraine, Lynda. You can probably hear behind me that sound. That is the sound of a generator that is keeping the

building behind us, at least, you know, with some limited electricity -- there's a blackout here in Odessa.

It happens every single day, multiple times a day. The only reason that we're on the air is because our hotel has a generator. And yet, people are

soldiering through.


RIPLEY: That spirit of resistance was greatly inspired by those brave men on Snake Island, on that day, when they told that Russian warship exactly

where to go.

By the way, it is now sitting at the bottom of the ocean. So it did end up, for lack of a better term, effing off, Lynda.


KINKADE: Yes, exactly.

And as you say, this is such a symbol of resistance. But this island was not home to civilians, but strategically very important, just explain why.

RIPLEY: Yes, there were actually a couple of civilians, a lighthouse keeper, some staff to help keep up the museum onsite. But you're right, the

majority the people living on the island, about 80 of them that were captured, were military.

Actually, it used to be even a smaller number. Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, beefed up the troop presence on the island ahead of

the war. He actually flew in by helicopter twice to visit the island, knowing how strategically crucial it is.

But the reason why it's so important, so, it sits about 35 or 40 kilometers off the coast of Ukraine. But yet, because Ukraine, you know, claims it as

their own territory, they get control of the waters that extend 12 nautical miles beyond the coastline of Snake Island.

Then, of course, Ukraine's own territorial waters also extend 12 miles. So basically, they control that entire channel that leads right here to the

port city of Odessa. This is where Ukrainian grain goes out to feed, you know, hungry people in Africa and many other places around the world.

This is where the majority of Ukraine's imports, particularly from China, come in. So if Russia were to control that island, they could essentially

block off Ukraine from being able to help feed much of the world's hungry populations that they do and also block any important supplies from coming


So it was crucial for Ukraine to take back Snake Island. They did it through classic asymmetric warfare.

This is a step-by-step, coordinated campaign to make life on Snake Island so intolerable for the Russians, so dangerous for the Russians, through

drones strikes and missile strikes, they actually put their weapons on pontoon boats and fired from them.

It was really an extraordinary effort. In the end, Ukraine now has control once again of Snake Island. The Russians pulled out after just a few

months, Lynda.

KINKADE: Incredible reporting, Will Ripley, our thanks to you and your team. Very much appreciated.

Well, Russia's president is admitting the situation in parts of Ukraine that are claimed by Moscow is extremely difficult. In recorded remarks

today, Vladimir Putin addressed Russian security services.

He called on them to intensify their efforts in those regions of Ukraine. It is seen as a clear acknowledgement that the invasion he launched nearly

10 months ago is not going quite as planned.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): I would like to call attention to the security agency units that have begun their work in

Russia's new regions.

Yes, you are faced with difficult tasks now. The situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions is

extremely complicated. The people who live there, Russian citizens, are counting on you and your protection.

And your duty is to do everything in your power to ensure their safety and respect for their rights and freedoms.


KINKADE: Well, Russia's official news agency reports that Putin will lead a meeting Wednesday, reviewing the performance of the military. And

meanwhile, Putin made a rare trip outside of Russia to Belarus.

During Monday's visit the Russian president vowed closer cooperation with his key ally, President Alexander Lukashenko, in the face of Western

sanctions. The meeting killed fears that Belarus could join the fight against neighboring Ukraine, concerns which have been dismissed by the


Still ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, Donald Trump's legal troubles just got worse. We'll have a breakdown of the law as U.S. Congress members say he

broke when we come back.

Of course, we will be back with much more from Argentina after their historic World Cup victory. Stay with us, you are watching CNN.





KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade at the CNN Center.




KINKADE: Well, I want to go to some other news now. Nine members of U.S. Congress have concluded their 17-month long investigation into the January

6th attack on the Capitol, coming to one unshakable conclusion: Donald Trump is to blame. And he should stand trial for his crimes.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Ours is not a system of justice, where footsoldiers go to jail and the masterminds and ringleaders get a free

pass. We believe that the evidence described by my colleagues today and assembled throughout our hearings warrants a criminal referral of former

president Donald J. Trump.


KINKADE: The January 6 committee says the former U.S. president should face a criminal trial for four offenses, including defrauding the United

States and aiding an insurrection. The big question right now is whether the U.S. Department of Justice will agree with the criminal referral and

bring charges against Trump.

Well, let's talk about this with CNN senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid.

Good to have you with us, Paula. So we have the summary of the report.

When will we get the full report?

What are the next steps?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the full report is expected to be released tomorrow. And then these referrals will

ultimately land on the desk of special counsel Jack Smith.


REID: He has been working remotely from Europe since he was appointed to oversee multiple investigations related to former president Trump. And a

source familiar with his plans tells CNN that the special counsel will be back in the U.S. by early January.

And when he comes back, he will need to sort through some of the evidence that has been collected by the January 6 committee.

In their final hearing yesterday, it was clear that they wanted to keep the focus squarely on why they believe Smith and attorney general Merrick

Garland should hold the former president criminally responsible for what happened on January 6th.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIR, U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: We are prepared to share our findings with you.

REID (voice-over): In a historic hearing, lawmakers on the January 6 committee laid out why they believe the Justice Department should pursue at

least four criminal charges against former president Trump.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA), MEMBER, U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: President Trump lit the flame, he poured gasoline on the fire and

sat by in the White House dining room for hours, watching the fire burn. And today, he still continues to fan those flames.

REID (voice-over): Lawmakers concluded there is evidence of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States, false

statements to the federal government and inciting or assisting an insurrection.

RASKIN: The president's actions could certainly trigger other criminal violations.

REID (voice-over): The committee also released a summary of its final report Monday, describing in extensive detail how Trump tried to pressure

anyone who wasn't willing to help him overturn his election defeat, while knowing that many of his claims were not true.

The committee played previously unseen clips from interviews with top White House aides, like Hope Hicks, who shared what happened when she challenged

Trump on his election lies.

HOPE HICKS, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: I was becoming increasingly concerned that we were damaging -- we were damaging his legacy. He said something along

the lines of, nobody will care about my legacy if I lose. So that won't matter. The only thing that matters is winning.

REID (voice-over): The committee vice chairwoman believes these legal recommendations should also have political consequences.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, U.S. HOUSE SELECT COMMITTEE ON JANUARY 6 ATTACK: No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever

serve in any position of authority in our nation again. He is unfit for any office.

JOHN EASTMAN, TRUMP ATTORNEY: You know, the old way.

REID (voice-over): In addition to Trump, lawmakers recommended his election attorney, John Eastman, on two counts, impeding an official

proceeding and conspiring to defraud the United States.

He was the author of a two-page memo outlining what he said was a plan for then vice president Mike Pence to block the certification of a presidential

electoral count.

REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): John Eastman admitted in advance of the 2020 election that Mike Pence could not lawfully refuse to count official

electoral votes. But he nevertheless devised a meritless proposal.

REID (voice-over): In a statement, Eastman's lawyers dismissed the referral as the product of an absurdly partisan process. The committee also

made ethics referrals against four GOP lawmakers, who refused to comply with subpoenas for this investigation.

RASKIN: We are now referring four members of Congress for appropriate sanction by the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with lawful



REID: Trump's attorneys believe that prosecutors face an uphill battle in proving that he did not believe the election was stolen, despite being told

otherwise by members of his senior staff. They also believe some of the evidence collected by this committee could help them prove that there was

no premeditation on January 6th.

KINKADE: All right, Paula Reid, we'll leave it there for now. Great to have you on the story, thank you.


KINKADE: Well, let's get you up to speed on some other stories on our radar right now.

E.U.'s foreign policy chief has met with Iran's foreign minister in Jordan, saying the meeting was necessary, given the deteriorating relations. He

also said that Tehran should stop its crackdown on protesters in providing military support to Russia. Talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal remain at

a standstill.

Five crew members from the royal Thai navy ship that sank Monday in the Gulf of Thailand were found dead Tuesday during search and rescue efforts;

24 others remain missing. So far, 77 crew members have been saved since the ship capsized in severe weather.

At least 26 people have died as a result of the ongoing protests in Peru. Hundreds of others have been injured. Civil unrest has swept the country

since former president Pedro Castillo was impeached and replaced with his former deputy earlier this month.


KINKADE: Well, still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, temporary relief for some, confusion and disappointment for others. How indecision over a

pandemic immigration policy is affecting people on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border.




KINKADE: Welcome back.

The U.S. Chief justice has stepped in to freeze the lifting of a controversial pandemic policy from the Trump presidency called Title 42.

This allows officials to swiftly expel migrants at the U.S. border and was set to end Wednesday.

But some Republican led states have appealed to keep it in place. The Supreme Court has asked for a response today from the Biden administration.

In the meantime, border cities like El Paso, Texas, are still bracing for what will happen if the policy is lifted. Thousands of migrants gathering

nearby Juarez, Mexico.

We want to go now to across the border to the U.S. side. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in El Paso, Texas.

Ed, give us the sense of what is the reaction there to this temporary extension.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an effort by -- something we have seen Texas National Guard soldiers do in other

places along U.S. southern border over the last year. It's been very controversial at times.

But we're getting some initial reaction from one of the prominent politicians here locally in El Paso, who is waking up to the news of this

fencing -- extensive -- almost a mile with barbed wire. They're not terribly happy with the way this is happening.

Local officials had issued a state of emergency over the weekend, which opened the door to this kind of interaction. But there has always been kind

of a level of distrust between local government here in El Paso and the state government about how exactly to handle these types of situations.

The County judge telling us this morning that this is not the role they had anticipated. Texas National Guard soldiers would be working in creating

this kind of fencing. This is the exact area where over the last week, we have seen thousands of migrants cross in a very orderly way.

It was actually kind of a unique thing about this situation. They would cross the Rio Grande on to the El Paso side and then literally line up

almost in a single file, waiting to be turning themselves into Border Patrol agents.

So we're trying to get some more information as to the dynamics at play here and how this might affect the situation going forward. But local

officials in El Paso have been saying for the last day that they're proceeding as if Title 42, this pandemic era public health policy, is going

to end tomorrow.

And they are proceeding as if that's happening, even though right now it's tied up in the courts, Lynda.


KINKADE: Yes, certainly a lot of confusion. Ed, thanks for breaking it down for us. We will check in with you again soon.

Well, a new study says China's drastic reversal from its zero COVID strategy could cost nearly 1 million lives. We'll take a closer look when

we come back.




KINKADE: Welcome back.

China is loosening its strict COVID-19 measures, three years after the pandemic began. But experts say the country is poorly prepared for such a

drastic exit and cases are now surging. CNN's Selina Wang explains.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: China's COVID policy has swung from one extreme to another. Many people here have been caught off guard by this

sudden shift, from harsh lockdowns over a few COVID cases to now letting the virus rapidly spread.

In the major city of Tonching (ph), which is under mass COVID lockdown last month, that city is now telling people that, even if they have COVID and

are sick, as long as they're only mildly sick, well, they can go back to work as normal.

This is a dramatic, unexpected U-turn that health experts say the health system is not prepared for. After three years of harsh lockdowns and mass

testing. We are already seeing hospitals under strain in major cities.

Hospitals have said they're dealing with outbreaks among staff, long lines like these are forming outside of hospitals in big cities like these videos

from Hangzhou and Wuhan (ph).

Now, China has only announced a few COVID deaths since reopening. But what we see on the ground points to a different story.

I went to a major crematorium in Beijing and you can see the long lines of cars waiting to get to that cremation area. The parking lot was full as

well. And several people there told me their loved ones had died from COVID.

An employee said they are swamped with dead bodies. The stores nearby selling funerary items saying they're much busier than normal.

A new study from Hong Kong researchers says that China's sudden exit from a zero COVID policy could lead to nearly 1 million deaths. But the report

does say that 1 million people dying of COVID in China is a worst-case scenario, if China does not take extra precautions.

It says if they can boost the vaccination rate, use anti viral treatments and take other public health measures, it could reduce the deaths by

hundreds of thousands. U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the toll of COVID-19 in China is of concern to rest of the world, given the

size of China's GDP and its economy -- Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


KINKADE: Selina Wang, thank you.



KINKADE: We are going to continue this coverage in just a moment. Stay with us. CONNECT THE WORLD continues after the break.