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Erin Burnett Outfront

Monster Winter Storm Wallops U.S., Several People Dead; January 6 Committee Transcript Reveals Ivanka Trump Handed Over Text Messages; January 6 Committee Transcript Reveals Ivanka Trump Handed Over Text Messages; Russian Ambassador: Risk Of "Clash" Between U.S., Russia "High"; New Discrepancies Uncovered In Incoming Congressman's Past; China's Internal Estimate Shows Staggering Number Of New COVID Infections, Nearly 250 Million In 20 Days; Migrants Have Trouble Finding Shelter As Temperatures Plunge. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 19:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, the coldest Christmas Eve on record coming to parts of the U.S. Whiteout conditions are already here. Ice, wind, snow, power outages, millions tonight feeling the impact of the once-in-a-generation storm.

Plus, we have breaking news. More transcripts just released from the January 6th committee's investigation -- everyone from the president's daughter to his attorney general in a top White House lawyer. What they all had to say and how the committee's final report puts the blame squarely on Donald Trump.

And shocking government numbers out of China about COVID cases. New infections reportedly in the hundreds of millions this month alone and growing.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, severe weather walloping the country as millions are travelling for the holidays. I want to show a scene, just look at the scene in Ohio where snowy conditions caused a massive pileup of roughly 50 cars. We are told at least one person died in this crash.

And it's not just in Ohio, it's across the country, as we've been seeing all day. Cars sliding, being abandoned on the streets of Memphis, Tennessee. Today, more than 5,000 flights have been canceled due to severe winds and icy conditions.

The storm's impact is widespread. Over half the U.S. population is under winter storm and wind chill alerts. At least nine people have died in the storm so far. Officials across the country are warning people of this impact.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: It is throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink. We've had ice, flooding, snow, freezing temperatures and everything that Mother Nature could wallop at us this weekend.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: Stay inside, stay off the roads. The last-second shopping is not worth it if it would cost you your life.


BOLDUAN: One of the major issues for those who aren't traveling, power. More than a million people are without power across the country tonight. And among the hardest places hit, Buffalo, New York, almost a complete whiteout with the snow and the high winds. And you can see what happen when they mix together.

Our reporters are on the ground across the country.

First, Omar Jimenez in Chicago for us.

Omar, you're at O'Hare Airport which has seen a ton of flight cancelations. Tell us what you're seeing now.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a lot of flight cancelations, Kate. There's been a steady stream of people coming in, as you can imagine. A lot of them with questions about what their flights are actually going to look like and if they're actually going to be able to make it on those flights, 500 here at O'Hare. But when you look countrywide, we have seen more than 5,200 cancelations across the U.S. today. And that is on top of the close to 9,000 delays. All this, of course, happening just two days before Christmas.

A little bit earlier we caught up with one of those travelers who told us a little bit about how she thought she was going to be able to get on with her Christmas itinerary. And now, the earliest she's going to be able to take off at this point is on Christmas day. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were just anticipating to see cancel on our flight. But it kept on saying green, on time. And so we got here, went through security, checked our bags. And about a half hour before boarding began, we actually got notification from the United app that the flight was canceled. It's no surprise that this would happen. It's just unfortunate that this is how this weekend's going to go.


JIMENEZ: And, of course, tied to all of this is this huge winter system that's descended on the U.S., bringing snow and of course heavy winds. Even in D.C. at Reagan national airport there was a plane trying to land, and you can see it sort of pushing back against what must've been very intense winds trying to what looks like almost land sideways, and then the pilot clearly decided we can't do this, and had to pull out of that attempted landing.

And it's probably why the Buffalo airport has decided that they are going to close operations tonight as they are potentially seeing wind gusts close to hurricane force winds. No chances there as far as trying to take off and land safely. So these are all factors, Kate, that of course are affecting people out in the world. We're negative 20 degrees out here in Chicago with the wind.


But, of course, for those trying to get to warmer places or to their loved ones for the holidays, it's been very difficult.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, and there are going to be more difficult days ahead.

Thanks, Omar. Appreciate it.

Let's go to Buffalo right now. Polo Sandoval is standing by in Buffalo all day today.

Oh, Polo, you're getting hit with it again. How's it -- how's it going?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, the thing is, this is not going to stop any time soon. The chief executive here putting out a message just a few moments ago that it seems like these conditions are going to continue throughout the night, that this system will be stationary perhaps over the Buffalo area, meaning that all of this, these high, high, high winds that we have seen since early this morning are going to continue. Earlier today there was about a 79-mile-an-hour wind gust confirmed by the national weather service here in Buffalo.

That exceeds the winds that they experienced here during the historic blizzard back in 1977. So authorities are not kidding when they say that this is just highly unusual storm, even for the likes of western New York. Authorities also confirming, the chief executive saying that there are currently, quote, hundreds of people that are stranded in and around Buffalo.

And that is certainly a huge concern for authorities as they've seen that in previous instances. And so authorities at this hour, they are working nonstop in this weather, Kate, to try to get to some of those people that, again, according to the county officials here in Buffalo, are still stranded. And it really just underscores and punctuates and capitalizes the message that the safest place today and possibly tomorrow until Christmas day, perhaps, is at home even for those people who have lost power.

Authorities here are saying that a cold house is still much safer than being stuck on the side of the road in these conditions.

Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Yeah, let's hope that fewer people -- as few people as possible have to make that choice. And you've been out in conditions just like this for hours now. I've been watching you.

Thanks so much, Polo. I really appreciate it.

Let's go now to our meteorologist Derek Van Dam. He's in Atlanta, which is set to see its coldest Christmas Eve ever.

Derek, let's get to the broader forecast in a minute. But, first, what are things like in Atlanta?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right. Well, the temperature here is 14 lonely degrees. We have wind chill warnings in effect for this area. And much of the deep south including Atlanta is bracing for, as you said, the coldest Christmas Eve on record, which, by the way, has stood for over five decades.

It's difficult to portray sometimes how cold it actually is without snow like Polo has in his backdrop. I'm not drinking from my water bottle any time soon. This used to be a towel that we doused with water a few hours ago and it is hard as a rock and completely useless to me. But it gives you an idea just how cold it is.

I want to show you, just on my graphics, the forecast for Atlanta. This is much of the same for the Deep South because our temperatures are going to be below freezing for at least 48 hours. So if you don't have power, that's going to be a problem. Obviously you can't heat your home.

And obviously we think about the homeless population in this area and how that impacts people. It is brutally cold. This cold has a different feel to it. It is bitter, with the wind, it is excruciating actually on your exposed skin.

We dropped 35 degrees in eight hours here in Atlanta as that cold front came through. The emperor from the north, that's what I'm calling it because it originated from the Arctic Circle. We were 31 degrees warmer yesterday at this time in Atlanta. You can see D.C. and New York more the same, 28 degrees yesterday at this time. It seems like a long time ago, right, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yeah. Derek Van Dam, thank you so much, Derek. I appreciate it.

OUTFRONT for us next, we do have breaking news we're going to bring to you. More transcripts just released from the January 6th committee just moments ago, more than 40 of them including testimony from Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump. Going to bring that to you.

Plus, newly intercepted calls. Russian soldiers claiming superiors are shooting soldiers for being drunk on the battlefield. This as Russia's U.S. ambassador warns of a possible clash between the two superpowers.

And he claims he worked on Wall Street, so what was he reportedly doing in a call center? New reporting tonight about discrepancies in the resume of the Republican congressman-elect, George Santos.



BOLDUAN: And we do have breaking news. The House January 6th committee just releasing 46 more transcripts of their interviews with key witnesses in their investigation. Among the transcripts just released, Ivanka Trump, and we now know and we are learning from this transcript that she turned over text messages. Trump's attorney general, Bill Barr, also among the transcripts

released. Trump's White House lawyer Pat Cipollone, and Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff Marc Short are among them.

These are witnesses with key information about what happened on January 6th and the days leading up to the insurrection. We're going through the transcripts as we speak and we'll be bringing you any of the new information as we get it. It's a lot of pages and it's a lot of transcripts just released tonight.

Also on the list of the newly released transcripts, Trump's close aide and former communications director Hope Hicks. We're learning from her that she testified that the former president knew the claims his people were promoting weren't only false, that they were, quote, crazy. Hicks said in a phone call with Trump that lawyer Sidney Powell was laying out the outlandish claim that Venezuela, Cuba, and China were involved in rigging voting machines against him, and according to Hicks, this.

While she was speaking, the president muted his speakerphone and laughed at Powell, telling the others in the room, this does sound crazy, doesn't it? Yet, the president clearly continued pushing those same baseless claims to rile up supporters. This all coming as the January 6th committee finally put out its 845-page full report overnight. A report based on more than a thousand interviews, documents including emails, text messages, and phone records all wrapping up an 18-month-long investigation.

One key conclusion and recommendation from this report that Donald Trump needs to be barred from holding office ever again.


Trump lashed out today in response to all this taking to his social media platform to, well, and when he did, he failed to address any of the details or evidence presented in the full report. Instead, he used the chance to make more false claims about January 6th and the 2020 election.

In the report, the committee draws a clear line between Trump's election denials to the violence that unfolded at the capitol. The report stating this, quote: The central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed. None of the events of January 6th would've happened without him.

Among the new evidence in the report, there is also this, and I'll read another quote for you. Between the November election and January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure or condemnation, targeting either state legislators or state or local election administrators to overturn state election results.

Now, we all remember the infamous phone call of Trump that he made to Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, of course, telling him at the time that, quote, to find 11,780 votes in order to change the election result there's. The report makes the case that was not a one-off. They see at least 199 other instances of pressure efforts similar to that one.

Now, while Trump remains defiant still continuing his campaign for 2024, perhaps some signs today that the committee's investigation and final report is having an impact. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell telling NBC News this: Here's what I think has changed. I think the former president's political clout has diminished.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT for us tonight in Washington.

Evan, I know you've been looking through some of these new transcripts. What can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we have thousands of pages, at least 46 transcripts, Kate, that have been released just in the last hour. And really we get a picture from some of these people, they're clearly trying their best. They're talking to the committee, they're cooperating with the subpoenas that they've been issued. But they're doing as little as they can to answer some of these questions.

One of them is Elaine Chao who was the labor secretary under the former president. And she talks about how she doesn't really having a conversation about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment with other members of the cabinet, this idea that you could remove the former president, President Trump obviously, for what had happened on January 6th. She did resign that day after what she saw.

And this is what she says. The reason why she did it, she says, was the full ramification of the actions that were taken by some people and the results that occurred. Now, she's careful not to mention Donald Trump himself and to criticize him, but she says I wish he had acted differently.

We also learned that Ivanka Trump, the former president's daughter, turned over some of her text messages under the request from the committee. It goes to show you, Kate, the extent of the evidence that was gathered by this committee. And, of course, we know that at this point, they have now started turning over some of that evidence to the Justice Department, which is, you know, obviously doing a criminal investigation and has been asking for this evidence as part of their work that they are doing.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Evan, thank you so much. There's a lot of work that's going to be going into going through these transcripts.

OUTFRONT with me now, Ryan Goodman, co-editor in chief of the "Just Security" blog, and former special counsel at the Department of Defense.

And also with us, Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House communications director.

Thanks guys for being here.

So, Ryan, these 46 new transcripts, people like Pat Cipollone, Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, how important are they, in your view? RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL CONSEL, NYU LAW

PROFESSOR: I think they're very important in the sense that they give us visibility into the White House, and decisions that are being made by Trump, his insight, his mindset with respect to winning or losing the election and trying to overturn it. And I also think they show kind of the road map for the Justice Department.

It gives us an indication for things like Ivanka Trump turned over text messages. We just found out in the last couple of days that Cassidy Hutchinson turned over a bunch of text messages as well. So, I think that kind of an information is going to be very helpful, and it's good for us as the American public to know that the Justice Department will have that.

And then to see the kinds of questions that the committee asked even if they weren't answered, because they're a powerful committee made up of former federal prosecutors and the like, triangulating time and again. Those kinds of questions that they didn't get answers to are the questions that the Justice Department very well could because people are not able to claim executive privilege when they go in front of the FBI or the grand jury.

BOLDUAN: And, Stephanie, I mentioned that there are new details also coming out from the testimony of Hope Hicks that she presented testimony to the committee.


And her transcript released tonight as well. Among other things, she noted a conversation that she witnessed of Donald Trump listening to this conference call with Sidney Powell on it. Sidney Powell throwing around, you know, the theories, the conspiracy theories. And Donald Trump calling her crazy during the call.

You think hope hicks is a really important witness here. Why?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I do. I think she's vital. The court of public opinion, I'll start there, I think people who are still wondering if this is a witch hunt, as the former president likes to say. You know, it's easy for a lot of the people in the Trump world right now to label somebody like me or a Cassidy Hutchinson or so many others as traitors or, you know, angry or out for themselves.

Hope Hicks was there in the very beginning. She was one of the original five in 2015 when I first joined that campaign. She's treated by that family like family. He treated her like a daughter.

I'm sure this was not easy for her to do. Aside from Dan Scavino, she spent the most time with Donald Trump. And he trusted her implicitly.

So, you know, you're not going to hear him have a feeling, Donald Trump come out and say Hope Hicks is a liar. She's angry. She's out for herself.

So I think it's vital that people understand this is not some partisan witch hunt or just a bunch of angry ex-staffers out to get him.


And, Ryan, we should note that your work appears in multiple footnotes in this report. You see this new evidence, and in this you really do see new evidence of criminal liability here for Trump and his chief of staff, at the very least, Mark Meadows. What evidence is most damning?

GOODMAN: I think the most damning comes under the heading of the scheme to set up these false slate of electors, individuals from the GOP who would have been the electors if Trump had won those states to certify that he had in fact won states that Biden had clearly won. That seems to just be a federal crime that is a very, very active part of the current special counsel's investigation -- new evidence, brand new that we have not seen before that directs it right at Trump and Mark Meadows.

Evidence, for example, that one smoking gun so far is a call that Trump makes to the head of the RNC. And he hands over the call to John Eastman to say, we want you to organize the false slate of electors. That's all we had in the past.

We now know she calls Donald Trump back soon after the call and says, I accept your request, which means it's about him, it's not about Eastman.

And their other lawyers for the Trump campaign who say to the committee that it was Donald Trump who put Giuliani in control of this false slate of electors and what Giuliani was doing, as far as they were concerned, was executing what Donald Trump wanted them to do.

That's pretty devastating. Then there is a bunch of other testimony that we hadn't heard before from Cassidy Hutchinson saying that Mark Meadows was significantly involved, following it closely, making dozens of calls to try to operationalize the false slate of electors. I think they're in some pretty deep trouble with both of those.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting.

And, Stephanie, there is a new piece out from "New York Magazine's" Olivia Nuzzi. And she interviewed Trump.

Now, I'm going to read one of the quotes from her conversation with him. And in it, he told her, quote, I don't know how you get indicted if you've done nothing wrong. I've done nothing wrong. And according to Nuzzi, Trump repeats that phrase "I've done nothing wrong" nine times during their 30 minutes of conversation.

You know him well. What's he doing here?

GRISHAM: Well, this is what he does. He denies everything. I think he thinks if he says it enough, it will be true.

I remember a conversation with him at one point talking about, you know, another legal issue he had, and him actually saying to me as long as you deny it, that's all that matters, right, Stephanie? So this is the way that he works. This is just what he does. That

piece by Olivia, I thought, was incredible. I think that people should really take the time to read it.

I would echo what Mitch McConnell said earlier in that when I read the price, it showed to me kind of the novelty that Donald Trump has worn off. Every quote in there I could have said, oh, yeah, he's going to say that. It's all old retired, recycled things that he says about how successful he is and denying anything else that could possibly be perceived in his eyes as bad.

So, I think it showed an isolated man with a very small team, a lot of them who still are talking to the press. It was an interesting piece. I would encourage people to read it.

BURNETT: Yeah, interesting as reaction to all of this.

It's great to see you guys. Thank you very much.

OUTFRONT for us next: there is new reporting about what Vladimir Putin is not being told about the war in Ukraine.

And there are more revelations tonight about newly elected Republican Congressman George Santos. Questions over his life story are still mounting this evening. The top Republican Kevin McCarthy silent on it all.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, soldiers being shot for drinking on the battlefield in Ukraine. That's the claim from a Russian soldier about what their own commanders are doing to them in a newly obtained intercept. This new audio is revealing the disorder and chaos further inside the Russian military. Listen to this.


SOLDIER (through translator): They are just shooting our guys in the 25th brigade right on site. Just like today they shot three guys right in their legs.

WOMAN (through translator): What do you mean? They're actually shooting you?

SOLDIER (through translator): I'm telling you the truth. We have shootings here. What can I say? The directive is supposed to be handled internally, but if they see you with alcohol or smell it on your breath, they will shoot you on the spot.

Three (EXPLETIVE DELETED) dumb (EXPLETIVE DELETED) were getting drunk while they were on night watch. And they ended up getting their legs shot out from underneath them.

WOMAN (through translator): So you're saying that their legs are wounded now?

SOLDIER (through translator): That's correct. They're at the hospital now. And then afterwards they'll be taken back to the guard house.

The military court here will probably sentence them to five to seven years. I don't know. They aren't joking around here. We are at war.


BOLDUAN: Also today, Russia's ambassador to the United States is warning that there is a high risk of clashes now between Russia and the United States.

Will Ripley is OUTFRONT on the ground in Kyiv.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Apparently, no time for jet lag for Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. As you can hear, the phones are working, he says, just back from his whirl wind Washington trip.

Zelenskyy told ambassadors in Kyiv the Biden White House is working on a whopping $45 billion aid package.


He says the real work for Ukraine is just beginning.

We must sleep less than the enemy, think more than the enemy, risk more effectively than the enemy, and communicate with the world better, he says.

The Kremlin's PR machine launching its own propaganda blitz after publicly calling the ten-month-old conflict a war for the first time Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin wants the world to see his war machine firing on all cylinders.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in western Russia, visiting a Kalashnikov production factory.

On the front line, overall conditions unchanged. To the south, Russian forces firing artillery across the Dnipro River in Kherson, shelling civilian infrastructure, education and humanitarian facilities, keeping with the Kremlin playbook.

To the east, the Ukrainian military says it's repealing Russian attacks around Bakhmut in the Donbas. The handful still living there describe a living hell, as Russia tries to bomb them back to the Stone Age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We have no information. We have no electricity. We don't know what is going on. No electricity, no water, no gas. What could we know? We just hear the explosions, and that's all. RIPLEY: Power problems even plague the capital Kyiv. Electric

supplies still running around 50 percent, actually an improvement from recent days. That translates to more than 12 hours a day without power for most. They endure darkness and biting cold. Temperatures in the coming days predicted to plummet.


RIPLEY (on camera): Yesterday, Putin appeared to break his own law when he called what was carefully crafted in public as a special military operation, calling it a war for the last ten months could put you in prison for up to 15 years in Russia if you said it publicly. But Putin in a press conference did call his war on Ukraine what it is, a war.

Now, U.S. officials tonight say they believe this was not some change in direction on the part of Putin declaring war, declaring martial law. They believe it was probably a Freudian slip.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It's good to see you. Thanks so much, Will.

OUTFRONT with us now, retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Leighton for more on this.

Colonel, I want to ask you first about the Russian ambassador's warning, that the risk of a clash between Russia and the United States is now high. That's the word that he used. More bluster or something different now after Zelenskyy's visit to the United States?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Kate, I think it's definitely, in part, bluster. But we do note that what Putin is doing is he's moving troops, or at least saying that he's going to move troops to their northwestern border. So that puts them right across from Finland and also close to Sweden, the two newest almost NATO members. So that's one indication that the Russians are ramping up certain activities, and, of course, Putin's visit to the industrial plant, that also shows that they're trying to not only streamline their war efforts but they're putting more emphasis on the industrial production, what we call the defense industrial base.

So there may be some things that they're doing, and it's pretty clear to me what they're looking at is, at least verbally, raising tensions with the U.S. and then, on the other hand, we may see increases in asymmetric type warfare, things like cyberattacks increasing potentially, as well as special operations attacks. And that could very well impede operations in the West, especially on the border with Russia.

BOLDUAN: We also just -- you heard that intercepted call apparently with a Russian soldier who says that his fellow soldiers are being shot by their superiors if they've been caught drinking. What do you think of that?

LEIGHTON: Not much in the sense that that's not the way I would lead a military outfit of any type. I never, you know, in my wildest dreams would anything like that have happened in the U.S. military. They're clearly brutalizing their own military. They're doing things

that amount to what we would term cruel and unusual punishment by shooting people in the legs, allegedly, for being drunk on duty. Drunk on duty is certainly a crime in the U.S. as well as in Russia. But the punishment definitely does not fit that crime.

BOLDUAN: "The Wall Street Journal" also, Colonel, is reporting that when Vladimir Putin is being briefed, he's often given outdated information, also given cherry-picked information, which means downplaying the real losses that they're suffering on the battlefield. If that is happening, what sort of impact does that have?


LEIGHTON: Well, that has a really negative impact on how Putin can perform in this war. And, unfortunately, he's surrounded himself by yes-men. And he's living in very much of an information bubble.

Now, the one thing I would question about this is he must have, at least I think he would have other information sources. But if he doesn't, this becomes very dangerous, and it gets to the point that you made earlier about the Russian ambassador to the U.S. talking about increased tensions and the possibility of a conflict with the U.S.

That makes it even more likely if Putin has bad information and outdated information, that conflict could become very real based on a false premise, false supposition, and a false understanding of what's actually going on.

BOLDUAN: Colonel Cedric Leighton, it's good to see you. Thank you so much.

LEIGHTON: You bet.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, what does the top House Republican think about the growing scandal and major questions surrounding one of his newly elected members? Hard to say, since Kevin McCarthy won't talk about it.

And also this: the COVID crisis in China now a full-blown catastrophe. Leaked government figures revealing $250 million people are believed to be infected this month. Can the spread be stopped?



BOLDUAN: Tonight, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy for the second day in a row actually refusing to say whether he has concerns or not about incoming Republican Congressman George Santos. It comes amid the growing questions over the life story that the congressman- elect has been presenting to voters. He's set to be sworn in just over a week from now.

New details are still emerging from "The New York Times" about the big discrepancies in what Santos has said about his job history and his family's wealth. That's in addition to key details about his educational background that appear to be fabricated and information about a previous criminal charge.

OUTFRONT now is "New York Times" reporter, Michael Gold. He's one of the reporters who's been uncovering the conflicting details of the life and background of George Santos.

Michael, thanks for coming in.

Your reporting now that the time period that Santos claimed in campaign materials to be working on Wall Street, he was working in customer service at a satellite TV company. What more have you found out about that?

MICHAEL GOLD, NYT REPORTER: Sure. So, just to be a little more specific, Santos has said that he graduated college in 2010, he started working at Citigroup and then started advancing into this career on Wall Street. My colleague and I spoke separately to people who said he had been working at Dish Network. We learned that he was there. He was a customer care representative at the end of 2011, the beginning of 2012, answering phone calls from customers.

Mr. Santos is Brazilian, Brazilian descent. He speaks Portuguese, so they wanted him for his language skills. He worked there for a few months, and the pay was, at most, one of our -- his former co-worker said he was making almost $15 an hour.

BOLDUAN: So clearly there is a timing issue. Again, all of this gets to -- it could be cleared up if he would answer questions, which I know -- I want to ask you about in a second.

But I want to get to another strange -- I consider it a strange thing that has to do with his home. Santos has claimed -- he claimed last year that his home was vandalized after he attended a party at Mar-a- Lago and had posted about it, and it was made public. What did you find there?

GOLD: Sure. So, we had questions about this residence because when I went to knock on the door of the house Sunday to get comment, a woman who answered said she wasn't familiar with Mr. Santos. And we spoke to the landlord at that property who said that she had no recollection of anything like that happening. This would have been around January 2nd, 2021. She said she had no recollection of that.

And I asked the NYPD because Mr. Santos said he spent four and a half hours talking to insurance companies. I asked the NYPD if they had any record of it. They showed you an incident report from October 2021. I asked for anything that they had in January. We gave them several opportunities and they never came forward with anything.

Just to be clear, the NYPD hasn't said they didn't have a report, they just didn't present me with one.

BOLDUAN: So, Santos now says that he's going to address these mounting questions in the coming days. He put a message out on Twitter saying that he was going to be answering questions.

Do you have any sense of what he might say on how he's responded, or, I guess, not responded to your reporting so far?

GOLD: I was going to say, I don't have much of an idea just because he hasn't responded directly. And we've been asking him for days to talk to us to give us specific responses to some of the questions. We haven't heard anything.

His statement yesterday suggested he'll be answering a lot of the questions that I and others have next week. So we'll have to see what he and possibly House Republicans have to say.

BOLDUAN: All in all, this is one of these kind of head-scratching things that it would be very easy to clear a lot of this up. And it's surprising, I think, to a lot of people how he hasn't gotten out in front of this as he's set to be sworn in, in a week. And who's to say what impact any of this has on that time line.

But is it striking to you just on how as you pull the threads how many conflicting stories there are from what was plainly out there if people had asked questions, meaning Republicans who could have been vetting him, Democrats running against him. And -- but it took you guys good reporting and a lot of time, though, pulling the threads to really start digging into this.

GOLD: I think when you're a reporter, you never go in expecting to find anything. And you're sometimes surprised by what you find out.

Certainly this is one of those stories where I keep finding out new information that surprises me. And I think other people have reported this out. Some of your colleagues at CNN are pulling on some of those threads too and we're learning a lot more. I think we're all hoping to get some explanations to some of our questions. And it seems like I and my colleague and other reporters are unlucky there so far.

BOLDUAN: Well, you will keep asking the questions. We will keep asking the questions and we'll see what the congressman-elect says when he decides to actually take some questions, if he does.

Good work, as always. Nice job, Michael. We'll talk to you soon.

GOLD: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, stunning COVID news out of China tonight. Leaked government figures reveal more than half of Beijing is infected, 37 million new cases across China in a single day.


And also this, migrants in limbo hunkering down on the frozen streets of El Paso. They're spending Christmas weekend wondering where their next stop will be.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BOLDUAN: Tonight, COVID is raging seemingly out of control in China. Two hundred and fifty million people reportedly have been infected in the first 20 days of December. On just one day this week, 37 million people may have been infected.

Now these estimated numbers are coming from top Chinese health officials in a private meeting this week and leaked to two news organizations, "Bloomberg" and the "Financial Times." And while CNN cannot independently confirm the numbers, the staggering spike coincides with China abandoning its strict zero COVID policy, the policy that sparked unprecedented protests in the country.

OUTFRONT now for more on this is Dr. Larry Brilliant, an epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox.

It's good to see you, Dr. Brilliant.

Two hundred and fifty million people potentially is really remarkable. I mean, that's nearly 18 percent of China's population possibly infected since the beginning of the month. There are no signs that the spread is slowing.


How bad could this get?

DR. LARRY BRILLIANT, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Well, first of all, thank you for inviting me, Kate.

I think the important thing to realize is what number of people in China are immunologically unprepared, immunologically naive for this. And it would be very difficult to estimate that. But if you just give a generous idea of how many people have got immunity from having had the disease before and those who have immunity from having been vaccinated adequately before, you could have half a billion people to a billion people who are immunologically unprepared and will get this virus.

BOLDUAN: We've also seen in recent days very sad reports of crematoriums in the country being just overwhelmed, Doctor, with so many people passing away. If you have this many millions of people getting infected, what does that mean for what the death toll could be looking like when you're talking about immunologically, you know, vulnerable.

BRILLIANT: So we're looking at models that say a million people in China might die from COVID over the next three months. It's not clear that those will all be reported. The virus is going to infect everyone if it's wide open like this who hasn't been immunized either by the vaccine or prior disease. So there's nothing really to stop it, even mounting a huge precedent-setting national vaccination campaign right now, they don't have enough of the vaccine which is effective. So we have to just first of all realize what a humanitarian disaster this is and our hearts go out to the people in China that will get affected by this. But I do have to say, there is two other things I worry about. One is

this number of cases with this number of viruses replicating and mutating, the risk of new variants is increased and that's something all of us have to be concerned about.

BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask about. This is clearly a huge problem for China but does this now pose a problem for other countries as well since this means the virus is continuing to circulate?

BRILLIANT: Yeah, it is a huge problem for other countries. A lot will depend what they do for the Chinese new year, which is the end of January and that will almost be the peak of this epidemic inside of China and we're hoping that the -- what they've said is they will keep China closed from people traveling outside of China, but we don't know what will happen with internal transportation and we don't know -- viruses tend to not respect borders all that much.

So we have to worry about variants. We have to worry about the disease spreading beyond China and it's a tragedy.

BOLDUAN: It absolutely is. Dr. Brilliant, thank you for coming on as always. I really appreciate it.

BRILLIANT: Thank you for having me. Merry Christmas.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. You, too.

OUTFRONT next, frigid El Paso is a weigh stage for thousands of migrants sleeping on the streets not knowing what's going to happen to them next.



BOLDUAN: Tonight, hundreds of migrants could be sleeping on the now frigid streets of El Paso, Texas, and the city's shelters are overwhelmed with the ongoing surge of migrants. And thousands face real uncertainty tonight as everyone waits for the Supreme Court to rule on the fate of Title 42, the controversial pandemic era policy that allows officials to quickly expel migrants at the southern border.

Camila Bernal is OUTFRONT for us in El Paso tonight.

Camila, what are you seeing there as the temperatures are dropping with the people around you?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, people are preparing for a dangerous and difficult night. The second night you see the temperatures in the 20s. I want to show you sort of those preparations. They try to gather as many blankets as they can and get as much human contact as possible. They get-togethers to try to do anything they can to stay warm during the night. You see here the cardboard boxes. They're using that to block the wind because the wind is also just so cold. They're lining up, trying to get into this shelter tonight but the

reality is that not all of them are going to make it inside. They have capacity for about 130 people and they're trying to squeeze in about 200, but there is more than 200 here. The priority is the women and children but a lot of the men will end up sleeping out here tonight. Look, the problem is there are city shelters but a lot don't have the proper documentations from customs and Border Patrol.

So the problem is they're not allowed in those city shelters because of state and federal laws. So the only option they have is shelters like this, a non-profit and the non-profits are over-capacity. So that is a problem that you're seeing and that's why so many people, Kate, tonight will sleep on the street.

BOLDUAN: Camila, as we mentioned, the Supreme Court could be ruling any time on the status of Title 42. How is El Paso preparing for that?

BERNAL: Yeah, they're looking ahead saying they need help. They declared a state of emergency because that will bring in more state resources. Officials here say that the problem is that they don't want to see people on the street and that's why they declared a state of emergency so that a lot of people can get city resources and help, whatever they can get.

There is a city bus here and that's the only way a lot of migrants here are being able to get warm. They'll get on the bus for maybe five minutes to try to warm up, some of them were able to sleep on the bus but the reality is a lot of them are scared to even get on the bus. These people, they want to live in the United States. They want to have a future here for their children.

They're actually praying about it as we speak. Praying to be allowed to stay in the country and will do whatever it takes to stay in this country. Speak. Praying to be allowed to stay in speak. Praying to be allowed to stay in the country, so they will do whatever it takes to stay in this country for their children, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Well, thanks for being there and thank you for bringing that update to us tonight.

And thank you all so much for joining us.

I'm Kate Bolduan.

"AC360" starts now.