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Zelenskyy to Congress: Ukraine is Alive and Kicking; Millions Under Alert for "Once in a Generation" Storm; Sam Bankman-Fried Back in U.S. After Extraction from Bahamas. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired December 22, 2022 - 05:00   ET




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): His Excellency, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of the Ukraine.



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now on EARLY START, the rousing address just given by Ukraine's leader to lawmakers in Washington.

Plus, failed crypto boss Sam Bankman-Fried now back on U.S. soil where two of his former colleagues just pleaded guilty to fraud.

And -- heavy snow, strong winds, freezing temperatures from a pre- Christmas storm that could affect almost every state.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world I'm Christine Romans.

We begin with the emotional response to a historic speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.


ROMANS: A two-minute ovation right there as he took the podium, Zelenskyy spoke of his country's strength and how they surprised the world by standing up to Russia.


ZELENSKYY: Against all odds, and doom and gloom scenarios, Ukraine didn't fall. Ukraine is alive and kicking.


ROMANS: He also expressed gratitude for America's multibillion dollar weapons and ammunition lifeline and made an impassioned plea for more help.


ZELENSKYY: Your money is not charity, it is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way, and your support is crucial, not just to stand in such fight, but to get to the turning point, to win on the battlefield.

We have artillery, yes, thank you. We have it, is it enough? Honestly, not really.


ROMANS: Zelenskyy told the lawmakers Ukrainians will celebrate Christmas, despite many being without power, without running water, because of Russia's war. But he says with the help of the U.S., his countrymen will get what they ultimately want, victory.


ZELENSKYY: The world's too interconnected, and interdependent to allow someone to state aside and at the same time to feel safe when such a battle continues. Our two nations are allied in this battle, and next year will be a turning point and the point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom, the freedom of people who stand for their values.


ROMANS: Zelenskyy presented a Ukrainian fight to Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That flag was given to him and signed by frontline soldiers in Ukraine. And he gave President Biden a combat medal from the front.

Before addressing Congress, Ukraine's President Zelenskyy met with President Biden at the White House, the two presenting a united front at the joint news conference and calling out Vladimir Putin.


ZELENSKYY: So what kind of message I can send him after he actually destroyed our life, it's destroying our life, he can't even go further somewhere where the Soviet Union state before this, so he might want to invade those territories as well. I believe that there is something more to about his inadequate approach to the world.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a very important for him and everyone else to see that President Zelenskyy and I are united, two countries together, to make sure he cannot succeed.


ROMANS: All right. Let's bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian live in London. She's watching all of this.

And, Clare, how has the Kremlin responded to Zelenskyy's U.S. visit? [05:05:00]

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Christine, we just in the last few moments got reaction from the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, I want to read out what he said.

He said: We can stay with regret that neither Biden nor Zelenskyy uttered any worse that could be perceived as a potential willingness to listen to Russia's concerns. He said, not a single word was uttered, warning Mr. Zelenskyy against barbaric shelling of residential buildings in Donbas settlements, there were no real calls for peace, and he continues to say the U.S. continues to fight a de facto and indirectly fighting with Russia until the last Ukrainian. Others does it like Russia has considerably taken and they believe they are in a battle not just with Ukraine but with the collective West and, of course, with NATO.

And I think interesting that Russia should be criticizing Ukraine for the moves of peace because it is clear they are also not making any moves the fees. In fact, in a big speech in Moscow on Wednesday President Putin not only painted a picture of Russia as under seized by what he sees an expense of NATO, but announced major military expansion, expanding the army by about 30 percent the size of it a new military district over the country's northwestern border where NATO is of course set to expand and beefing up the nuclear arsenal and improving its readiness things like that.

Big picture what this means is there is no real and insight in this conflict, both sides pulling out all the stops to retool their forces. Russia may be calculating the longer this goes, on the more the western resolve what, it is clear that one of the purpose of Zelenskyy's trip was to do everything he can to guide against that.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Clare, thank you so much for that.

Here, a major winter storm, one of the National Weather Service says a once in a generation of event, will impact nearly every state in the nation. More than 100 million people are under weather winter and wind chill alerts. The storm causing blizzard conditions across the Midwest, and the planes.

It is crippling holiday travel on some of the busiest days of the year. More than 1,100 flights have been canceled so far today.

Let's get to meteorologist Allison Chinchar. So what are we expecting here?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, likely more delays as the day goes on, and as this system begins to shift to the East. It is not just the snow component for areas of the Midwest and the central portion of the country, you also have rain and ice and freezing rain to contend with across areas of the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. In turn, you are likely going to have some additional delays and additional cancellations at basically any of these airports you see here, as they occur that dangerous conditions.

Another thing as well is the cold, this is a very wide spread. Again, this is not just for the high plains or the Upper Midwest like we are used to see. This cold air is spreading all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico and as far east into areas of New York, and Virginia but in the Midwest, in areas of the High Plains, these wind chills are bitter, absolutely frigid.

Looking at Billings, the wind chill today, minus 50. We do see things warming back up to at least minus four by the time we get to Saturday, but today is going to be the peak for billings.

For Denver, the peak is tomorrow. So as cold as today is, it's still going to get even colder as we go to the next 24 hours. Places like St. Louis, Nashville, Charleston, yours is also going to be delayed about another day or two. You have to wait for that cold air to begin to shift.

Keep in mind, when you are talking wind chills of minus 35, frostbite can set in just ten minutes. When you start to get above that minus 45 threshold, now frostbite can sudden in just five minutes. So please do not plan to spend any excessive time outside, and bring your pets inside during this timeframe.

One thing to note is that a lot of people are noticing the temperature dropping rapidly, take a look at this going from 43 down to ten degrees. This is in Cheyenne, Wyoming. They did that drop in just ten minutes, Denver having a similar spread of about 30 degrees in a very short period of time, so again you are looking at a lot of these temperatures going down but it is also the snow.

Here's a look at where it, is we are seeing that transition from Minnesota over into Wisconsin, areas of Iowa, Kansas, also looking into the snow. That is going to continue to spread off to the east.

Let us what you have all these winter weather alerts. Some including blizzard warnings where we do anticipate that that visibility is going to get below a quarter of a mile, and winds at least 30 to 35 miles per hour for a prolonged period of time. Overall, all of this white area you see here, likely to pick up about 2 to 4 inches. Then you start to get into the purple color, you talk about four, six even eight inches of snow.

But some of these areas, especially along the great lakes where you will get some of that lake effect enhancement, a foot of snow is not out of the question, which with a lot of these systems. So, again, Christine, a lot to talk, about unfortunately not the greatest timing in terms of folks going out and traveling today as well.

ROMANS: And those cold life-threatening cold could be very careful with that.

All right, thank you so much, Allison Chinchar.

All right, two former colleagues of disgraced crypto mogul Sam Bankman-Fried pleading guilty to fraud charges, they are now cooperating with the feds. Gary Wang cofounded FTX, the crypto trading platform and of course the collapse last month.


Caroline Ellison was chief executive of Bankman-Fried's hedge fund Alameda Research. The SEC has also charged with participating in a scheme to defraud investors in FTX.

Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried is now back in the U.S. landing last night in New York, after being extradited from the Bahamas. He is due to appear in court today, Bankman-Fried faces eight criminal counts including fraud, conspiracy, money, laundering and could spend the rest of his life in person.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann has more.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Sam Bankman-Fried boarded a plane at the airport here behind me, marked the end of his legal troubles in the Bahamas but the beginning of a new chapter of where he will have to fight eight U.S. federal government charges including fraud, conspiracy commit, fraud and he now faces in the U.S.

He had SBF as he has known tried to stay in the Bahamas, but after he was sent, denied bail and sent to prison here in the Bahamas, then he changed his tune essentially, and that he was willing to go back, waive extradition and go back to face those charges. It still took several days and a lot of back and forth from the courtrooms to allow that to happen, but finally on Wednesday, we saw Bankman-Fried stand up before a judge, and say that he was ready to go home, in the word of his lawyer or that he wanted to help the many customers who lost millions of dollars, if not more in the United States become hole again.

And that he appeared to have a bag of belongings with him as if he was ready to get on the plane right away at the courthouse, and when the judge in Nassau in the Bahamas asked him where he was currently living, Sam Bankman-Fried replied that was a little unclear right now.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Nassau, the Bahamas.


ROMANS: What a story. All right. Patrick, thank you.

Officials in El Paso, Texas, setting up cots at a convention center to shelter asylum seekers sleeping on the streets, temperatures they're beginning to plunge and the Title 42 border policy remains in limbo.

CNN's Rosa Flores is in Brownsville, Texas, where thousands of migrants are living in temporary camps waiting to cross the border.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESONDENT (voice-over): The anticipation building on the Mexican side of the border on the day Title 42 was set to be lifted.

These videos shot by a migrant and provided to CNN show migrants in Matamoros using rafts to cross the Rio Grande.

Some in the crowd provide commentary saying they are tired of the long waits and that U.S. immigration authorities are watching it all happen.

I am in Brownsville, Texas, the river is right behind me. Our drone camera is capturing a similar scene, a large group of migrants on the Mexican side, a large law enforcement presence on the U.S. side, and our cameras were rolling as a group of migrants including a child crossed into the United States and turned themselves into authorities all of this contributing to what one law enforcement says is up to 1,200 migrants turning themselves in to border authorities every day in this part of south Texas.

Border patrol is dropping off hundreds of them in respite center say advocates, most of them shovel out the same day, but local shelters are starting to see an uptick of migrants who can't afford to.

So migrants from all over the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, they're coming in from all over the world.

FLORES: Like this family from Venezuela who say they sold everything they owned and borrowed money to migrate to the U.S. as the situation in their country became unbearable.

They say about four months ago ward spread in Venezuela that the U.S. border was open. That is why you decided to come here?

They want to go by their first names only because they fear it could impact their case. For 29 days, they braved the elements with their eight year old daughter, in an encampment in Matamoros.

Once you got to the border, you realize that the border was closed.

They turned themselves into immigration at the port of entry this week.

What would you tell migrants?

It is not worth selling everything you own to come to the United States because the border is closed.

As evidenced by these videos, showing migrants risking their lives and the lives of their children to end their way in Mexico and start life in the U.S..

The Venezuelan couple in our story says that the first appointment with an immigration judge is set for November 2024, and that is nearly two years from now, but that speaks to the backlog in U.S. immigration court.

According to analysis of federal data by a group at Syracuse University, for the first time in history, the number of cases in the U.S. immigration court now exceeds 2 million.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.



ROMANS: All right, thank you so much for that, Rosa.

The House January 6 Committee releasing more than 30 witness transcripts ahead of its highly anticipated final report due out today.

The first set includes testimony of Trump allies, including his one time national security adviser Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone. Flynn has started his Fifth Amendment protections with nearly every question the committee asked, Stone answered none, even taking the fifth one asked about his age.

All right. House Republicans Wednesday released their own counter report on the events of January 6th. So the GOP report focuses on security failures, and not Donald Trump. It highlights breakdowns an intelligence sharing and coordination between various law enforcement agencies that responded to the Capitol that day, but the report does not address's efforts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

Right ahead, what President Biden could do to try and self Americas worker shortage.

Plus, the last known images of 11-year-old girl before she went missing in North Carolina.

And, why medical officials in the U.K. are telling the public, don't get drunk.


ROMANS: Where are the workers? It is a concern in the tight job market, there are 10 million job openings right now, more jobs than job seekers. A priority for the White House in the New Year, craft new policies to get workers back in the game. That is according to new reporting in "The Wall Street Journal".

The share of people working or actively looking for jobs fell to 62.1 percent in November, still below the pre-pandemic level.

Let's bring in White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal", Annie Linskey.

You wrote the story. You interviewed Brian Deese, one of the president's top economic advisers, and it is going to be a priority. They're going to try to figure out how to get these workers back for 2023?

ANNIE LINSKEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, you know, this is the time of year where a president is beginning and his team are beginning to put together priorities for the next year, they are crafting the State of the Union Address.


And in my conversation with Brian Deese, he said that this issue of nudging workers back to work, getting and strengthening the workforce to become a priority for the White House. And one of the things they have been looking at in packages of benefits that might help with that.

ROMANS: Quality low-cost child care comes to mind here, when I talk to people about one of the reasons they are not back in the labor force that is a big reason and that is a cost in this inflationary environment that is very difficult for some families to, bear especially coming out of this pandemic that has disrupted so many things. Is that on the table?

LINSKEY: Yeah, absolutely if you look at the United States labor force compared with other developed nations there are far fewer women as a percentage of the labor force who are working. So some of the Biden's top aides are looking at this disparity, and thinking how can we bring the United States up to where other developed countries are. They are saying there is a giant pool of women who are not in the workforce, and they are talking to economists, making a persuasive case to them not childcare, extending benefits to help working parents is an area where it would prove fruitful.

Now, this administration has pushed for many of these benefits before, if that has stalled in a Congress that was friendly to them, a Democratic national congress, they are looking at House controlled Republicans.

ROMANS: They may have to be repackaging parts of Build Back better that did not make, it but if you are looking at lowering costs for American families, is that how they try to sell it? In a society that is just obsessed now with inflation at the grocery store, so many different parts of their lives, if you can try to build this as lowering costs for American families?

LINSKEY: Yeah, and I also believe that the administration is hoping there could be a way to get some segments of the business community behind this proposal. The idea they are being asked companies are quite eager to find workers to fill those jobs that you mentioned, and, you know, they think that it is possible that if a business community or backing some of these proposals, it might ease the way to get some Republican support, some of the Republican support they would really need to get traction in Congress.

ROMANS: Interesting. All right. Well, it will be a new year, and in congress, and in new balance of power. We will have to see.

Nice to see you, Annie Linskey. Thank you so much. Really enjoyed your piece.

LINSKEY: Great to see you. Thank you.

ROMANS: OK, thanks. Quick hits across America now.

The school bus surveillance video is the last known sighting of 11 year old Madalina Cojocari before she vanished in North Carolina. Her mother and stepfather were arrested after waiting more than two weeks to report her missing.

Missouri's governor appointing the first person of color to a statewide office. Attorney Vivek Malek will become Missouri's new state treasurer.

New York's first adult use recreational marijuana dispensaries that to open next week in Manhattan. It's operated by Housing Works, the nation's largest minority controlled HIV/AIDS organization.

President Biden will travel to Mexico City next month for a summit with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, they are supposed to talk about economic stability, but as CNN's Rafael Romo tells us, Mexico's president might have a bone to pick with President Biden.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATION AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke at length about relations between the United States, and Latin American countries. He stopped short of saying the White House has been meddling in the domestic affairs of some nations. He is specifically focused on the U.S. response after former Peruvian president Pedro Castillo, a fellow leftist was ousted after he attempted to dissolve his country's Congress which in turn impeached him.

He criticized the recent meeting between U.S. ambassador to Peru, Lisa Kenna, and current Peruvian President Dina Boluarte, who succeeded Costello as well as other meetings with officials in the new government. He also criticized the fact that the White House recognizes Boluarte's presidency when Mexico still considers Castillo Peru's legitimate president.

ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, MEXICAN PRESIDENT (through translator): And I to be honest and I'm a very sorry that the United States government which always talks about democracy, in this case instead of asking the will of the people be respected, that the democratically elected president be respected, what they end up doing is endorsing all the shady maneuvers to remove the president.

ROMO: At one point, Lopez Obrador seemed to contradict himself when he said that there are no problems between Mexico and the United States, only minutes after saying that there are frictions.

Next month, President Lopez Obrador will host the North American leaders summit in Mexico city, and both U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are expected to attend.


Lopez Obrador says he wants to begin a new phase in relations between the countries in the American continent. Peru's new government is furious about President Lopez Obrador's public support, before former President Castillo going as far as ordering the Mexican ambassador to leave the country, and declaring him persona non grata.

President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday his country will not respond in kind. Mexico is giving asylum to former President Castillo's wife, and two minor children.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


ROMANS: All right. Rafael, thank you for that.

Coming up, America's most powerful arsenal, Patriot missiles, heading to Ukraine's defense.

And, Israel's right turn, what we know about the newly formed right- wing governments.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will continue just during thin Ukraine's ability to defend itself, particularly air defense, and that's why we're going to be providing Ukraine with Patriot missile battery, and training your forces to be able to accurately use it.


ROMANS: President Biden fulfilling Ukraine's biggest request to the U.S., $1.85 billion dollars in aid and that includes a patriot missile system to block Russian air assault.

Biden calling the transfer of weapons defensive, not escalatory.

CNN's Oren Liebermann has more.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESONDENT (voice-over): The Patriot missile is the U.S. military's most advanced missile defense system, capable of shutting down a variety of targets and ballistic missiles, to aircraft.

The system will bolster Ukraine's air defenses which have had to contend with repeated mirages of drones, missiles and more.

The Patriot batteries will fit like an extended dome over Ukraine's current systems.