Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Battle For Eastern Ukrainian City Of Soledar Intensifies; Flights Resume Across U.S. After Outage Grounded Flights; Brazil Reinforces Security Amid Calls For More Protests; Scientists Say Disastrous Megaflood Coming To California; U.S. President Joe Biden Facing Questions About Classified Documents; U.N. Says Iran's Executions Amount To State- Sanctioned Killing; Protesters March For Freedom As Iranian Regime Crushes Dissent; Hollywood's Best At The Golden Globes. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 11, 2023 - 14:00   ET



ZAIN ASHER, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Zain Asher in for my colleague Isa Soares. Tonight, the

battle for Soledar intensifies as one Ukrainian soldier tells CNN we're hanging in there. We'll have a report from our correspondent on the


Then flights resume in the U.S. after a major system outage grounded thousands of planes. Plus Brazil reinforces security across the country as

Bolsonaro supporters call for nationwide protests in the wake of the attack on congress. We are live for you in Brasilia with the very latest.

But first, U.S. President Joe Biden is ordering an investigation into a major system outage that resulted in thousands of grounded flights. Normal

air traffic is gradually resuming across the country after a key safety system failed at the Federal Aviation Administration. But thousands of

flights have been delayed and actually canceled as a result.

We're going to bring you a live update in just a moment from one of America's busiest airports. But first, let's go to Ukraine, and the fierce

battle for the eastern town of Soledar. This is what it sounds like.




ASHER: Fighting is fierce. One Ukrainian soldier says they're still alive and they are still fighting as Russian forces bombard the town with heavy

gunfire and artillery. On Tuesday, the head of the Russian mercenary company Wagner claim that his forces had taken control of Soledar. The

Kremlin walked that back, reporting only a quote, "positive trend".

Ukraine denies it outright. Soledar is a smaller salt mine town in eastern Ukraine, it's very close to Bakhmut. If Russian forces capture it, it will

be their first gain in the Donbas region for months. CNN's Ben Wedeman is within earshot of all that fighting you just heard there. And he brings us

the very latest. I want you to listen to his report.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Soledar is just behind us. We're about 5 miles, 7 kilometers from the site where

this battle is raging. You can hear artillery, most of it outgoing in the direction of the town. That town has been the scene of intense fighting in

recent weeks.

And it appears that the situation for Ukrainian forces is increasingly difficult. Now, Russians sources, particularly the so-called Wagner Group;

that private military company says that they've taken essentially control of the city. But the Ukrainians insist that they still have control of

parts of it at least. But it's questionable how much longer the Ukrainians can hold out as this goes on. I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from outside



ASHER: Our Scott McLean joins us live now from Kyiv. So capturing Soledar puts the Russians, you know, squarely on the path, so eventually they hope

to capturing Bakhmut. Walk us through their long-term strategy here.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So President Zelenskyy says that this is all a propaganda game for the Russians. In part because they have had no

luck for months and months capturing Bakhmut, because it is so well fortified by the Ukrainians. And so the president figures that the Russians

need to win and Soledar may be their best chance to actually get it.

The difficulty is that the Ukrainians continue to hold on there, despite the claims that you mentioned from the Russians. Zain, we are also hearing

directly tonight from a soldier who is fighting that battle in Soledar. As you mentioned, he said that they're holding on, though, he expects the next

24 hours are going to be absolutely critical.

He says the Russians have jammed communication lines. And so it is difficult to communicate even with the guys to the right and to the left of

you. And he says despite claims from the Russians, what is true is that the Russians are trying their best to encircle the town. And so, this

particular soldier is reliant on the other Ukrainian units around him, actually holding on to their territory in order to give him a chance to

actually retreat and move out if it comes to that.

Yesterday, the same soldier told CNN that the expectation is that at some point, the Ukrainians will need to retreat given how things are going. But

that has not happened yet. The question is when? He also said that at the moment, they are fighting without a commander. Perhaps that commander has

been killed.


Perhaps they've had to retreat because of shelling or perhaps they're just simply out of communication range because there is really no good way or

few good ways to be able to communicate with your fellow comrades. He also said that they were supposed to get reinforcements, but they have not

arrived yesterday. The group that was supposed to come because they themselves came under fire.

So there's a lot of moving parts here, but I think it's fair to say that the Ukrainians are under a tremendous amount of pressure at the moment. But

they are holding on. Longer term, Zain, they did get some good news today. And that is for the very first time. A European partner has committed to

sending tanks to the frontline.

Other countries, the United States, France, Germany have committed to sending these fighting vehicles that look like tanks, but they're not as

heavily armored. Poland says it's going to go ahead and send leopard tanks that are manufactured in Germany, and they're hoping that other countries

also will do the same.

The difficulty is that, there's a whole bunch of bureaucratic hoops they need to go through and legal hoops that they need to go through to actually

get them exported, permission to export them to Ukraine. The Ukrainians today in making this announcement also suggested that there was one other

European country that was likely to also send tanks, so they didn't mention which one.

The U.K. has said just today that they are looking at potentially doing whatever they can to speed up their support for the Ukraine. And they said

that undoubtedly, tanks would make a game-changing difference on the frontline, though they stop short of actually committing to sending them

just yet. Zain.

ASHER: Yes, you know, tanks that are so desperately needed. Our Scott McLean live for us there, thank you so much. Right, let's get the Ukrainian

perspective now. Yuriy Sak is the adviser to Ukraine's Defense Minister, he joins us live now from New York. So, Yuriy, thank you so much for being

with us. I want to start by talking about Soledar because the Wagner Group initially came out and said, yes, they've captured Soledar.

Russia or the Kremlin, rather, walked that back slightly, saying no, they haven't quite fully captured it yet, but there certainly has been positive

momentum. What is the truth here? How much of that territory have the Russians captured?

YURIY SAK, ADVISER TO UKRAINE'S DEFENSE MINISTER: Zain, we need to understand that the situation in Soledar indeed is very difficult. Soledar

is one of those cities in Donetsk region which has been under intense fire for months now. And as you've rightly said in your earlier report, Russia

is at the moment desperate to get any military success because since -- literally, since July, since their movement into the city of Lysychansk,

they have not had any military success.

So the situation is very difficult. It's -- I could say critical, and it will remain critical for the next couple of days. But our armed forces are

still there, and the -- you know, Russians are not in full control of Soledar, and that's indeed a game of propaganda.

ASHER: So in terms of what the Russians are going to do next, after they capture Soledar -- I should say if they capture Soledar, they're going to

move on to Bakhmut as you and I both know. What is your strategy here for trying desperately to maintain control of Bakhmut, given its strategic

value and importance?

SAK: We have known for a very long time that indeed, you know, one of the military objectives of Russia is to gain full control of Donetsk and

Luhansk region. But look, in the past couple of months, we have been able to drive them out from Kharkiv, we have been able to drive them out from


And of course, at this stage -- at this stage, the most important thing for us is to continue to receive the military assistance that we require,

because situations such as that in Soledar could have been avoided, you know, if we would receive those tanks which have been mentioned already on

this program sooner.

So, right now, the key priority number one, and this is what our President Mr. Zelenskyy says, this was what our Minister of Defense, Mr. Oleksii

Reznikov says, we need tanks to win this war, to protect cities such as Soledar, and of course, we are grateful for all the support that we

receive. But at the same time, we look to the United States to continue to be the leader when it comes to providing military support.

Because this is how it actually worked with, say, the latest example is the Patriot systems. As soon as the decision was made, the political decision

was made in the U.S. to provide Ukraine with the Patriots systems, the European allies have also decided that they can do that. So we look on to

the U.S., and we hope that the next lunch time meeting which will take place on January 20th will be the platform where these important decisions

will be actually reached.

ASHER: Yes, I mean, you touch on the tanks. And you know, you say that you know, you needed these tanks sooner. Poland obviously coming out and saying

that they are going to be sending you leopard tanks.

Scott McLean just there in -- you know, who -- our correspondent on the ground was saying that the United Kingdom is, you know, potentially going

to be sending tanks too, we'll see. Explain how exactly these tanks are going to be deployed. What is the priority here?


SAK: Well, tanks are used by the Ukrainian military both for offensive as well as defensive operations as according to the estimates of our general

staff. We need about 200 to 300 tanks, western tanks because they have longer firing range. They have better armor. They are more safe for our


And you know, for us, the loss of every soldier is the loss of the whole world. Because you know, for Ukrainian army, we have fighting IT

specialists, doctors, opera singers, so we are very concerned about the safety of our servicemen. This is why we need western tanks because they

are safer.

And look, we know that there are thousands of these tanks that are at disposal in our western allies countries. So, and we just need a fraction

of that. And since we are fighting the freedom war, right? We are fighting not just for some cities and villages in Ukraine. We are fighting for

common-shared values. So, I think, you know, that decision is -- should be taken, and we hope it will be taken.

ASHER: And just in terms of, you know, what's happening on the Russian side. You know, some news that we just got is that Russia is changing its

military leadership yet again. You know, they changed it three months ago, and now it's changed again. Just what do you make of that? What do you make

of the sort of inner workings of the Russian military leadership and why it's undergoing so many changes at this point?

SAK: We ordinarily, we do not comment on the reshuffles in their military command. But of course, what we understand is that they have to somehow

explain to their internal audiences, they continue defeats. They have suffered setback after setback. They've been unable to gain control, even

of small cities like Soledar and Bakhmut.

And they've lost thousands literally, you know, the fields around cities like Bakhmut and Soledar are littered with corpses of Russian soldiers. So

they have to somehow explain to their internal audiences the reason for these defeats. And I'm just guessing that they're hoping that the

reshuffling in the military command will somehow go towards that way.

ASHER: And just quickly, I mean, and you touched on this, but Zelenskyy touched on this as well. This idea that, you know, in and around Soledar, I

mean, it's corpses, it's desolate. I mean, there's almost no human life left. Buildings have been completely sort of turned into rubble. How much

does Russia really stand to gain from Soledar in and of itself beyond just using it as a sort of jumping-off-point to try to capture Bakhmut?

SAK: This is beyond comprehension. Because like you rightly said, what Russians are doing now in Soledar is just what they've done before in the

cities such as Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk, Mariupol. They're razing them to the ground. So they will be actually -- they're fighting, they are

losing thousands of their soldiers, you know, for their ruins.

So it doesn't stand to reason, and it's difficult to comprehend why they would want to do that. The only way to explain this of course, is that

they're desperate to gain at least some military success on the battlefield, and that's why they're doing it.

ASHER: Right, Yuriy Sak live for us, thank you so much, we appreciate you joining us.

SAK: Thank you. Thank you, Zain.

ASHER: Right -- you're very welcome. All right, turning now to the travel chaos in the United States where nearly 7,000 flights have been delayed and

more than a 1,000 canceled. This after a major outage caused all departures to be grounded when a key system providing safety information to pilots

failed. Here is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaking to CNN earlier.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION, UNITED STATES: It is the right call to act out of an abundance of caution. But no, these kinds of

disruptions should not happen, and my primary interest now that we've gotten through the immediate disruptions of the morning is understanding

exactly how this was possible and exactly what steps are needed to make sure that it doesn't happen again.


ASHER: All right, President Joe Biden says quote, "they don't know what exactly caused the outage. Homeland security is investigating all

possibilities including hackers, technical glitches and foreign actors as well." Joining us live now is Salma Abdelaziz who is at London Heathrow

Airport, you've also got Amara Walker at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Amara, let me start with you because obviously, we don't know what the cause is at this point in time. They're still looking at that. But just how

much havoc -- how much havoc has this wreaked for travelers today? Just walk us through what the delays are looking like right now.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you according to the FAA that flight operations are back to normal as they say at least,

for the most part. But the airlines are left with playing catch-up, right? Because the FAA grounded these planes for several hours this morning.

There is a huge backlog that they have to deal with in terms of finding crew and planes, and of course, rebooking passengers. And so because of

that, we are still seeing the number of delays and cancellations continue to go up. In fact, I've been tracking the last couple of


And just to give you a sense of the number that we're seeing increasing. In the last two hours, we saw the number of delays in and out of airports here

in the U.S. go from 7,000 delays to now over 8,000.


And the number of cancellations now stands at over 1,200. You asked me about this, how much havoc it's wreaked? Well I'll tell you, that might be

too strong of a word, I know that people are extremely frustrated, people have missed connections on flights of course, flights to go home or to go

on vacation.

One gentleman told me that he missed a flight to New York -- he didn't miss it, but it was delayed by 2 hours, which meant that he would be missing a

family funeral. I don't have to remind all the people that it was just 2-3 weeks ago that a major storm here in the U.S. caused a huge wave of delays

and cancellations at airports across the U.S.

We also saw the Southwest Airlines melt down as a result. This time around, what we're seeing is the FAA having a system outage. And that is what's

been causing problems. Here's what some passengers had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, my original flight was supposed to take-off at 9:05 going to Miami, and then from Miami to Costa Rica. Well, now, we've

been delayed three times. There are no more flights leaving today that would get us there on time nor tomorrow, nor Friday. And at the very

moment, our flight is set to arrive in Miami after the flight takes off to Costa Rica.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I kind of thought it was a Southwest issue again. Luckily, I noticed it was -- right, it was the FAA issue. So it's

everyone's affected, not just us.


WALKER: And the Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg saying that he is, you know, looking into this and wants to know exactly what caused this

system outage, Zain, back to you.

ASHER: Right, Amara, thank you. Salma, let me bring you in because you're in London. How have U.K. flights heading to the U.S. have been affected by

all this?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you can expect, Zain, we're still starting to understand the impact of this. Because as you heard there from

our colleague, Amara, it's about that knock-on effect. It's about that ripple effect. As flights are delayed in the United States, as they were

grounded in the United States, and they continue to scramble those airline staff there to try to get those flights off the ground.

We're beginning to see concerns about delays and cancellations across the U.S. and Europe. There are hundreds of flights that fly between the

Atlantic, between the United States and Europe every single day. So those are absolutely a top priority to airline officials right now.

And we were ringing the phones earlier, tried to understand the impact of this calling airlines, calling airports, and I can tell you just from

speaking to a few of these major airlines, Air Canada, which is one of the major flights, one of the major carriers into the United States, saying

that it had disruptions, that it was operating on a goodwill policy with travelers to try to help get them where they needed to go.

Virgin Atlantic as well, saying that they were experiencing delays to those going to the United States. British Airways was saying that they were

trying to cope with these possible delays and cancellations. And we started to see on the board inside Heathrow Airport, our producer started to see

some delays as well.

But as you heard from Amara, the impact has been minimized I think in some ways, Zain, by the fact that this is the down season, right? We're off the

back of a holiday season. So we are hearing that airports are beginning to resume travel as normal to the United States. But I do want to point out

that of course, these airports have their own issues.

Here in Heathrow for example, over the holiday period, there were nationwide transportation strikes, that had a huge impact on travel.

There's been difficulty as well across Heathrow Airport because we've spoken to a couple of passengers who told us that they sat on the tarmac

today for three hours.

They were on a flight between London and Dallas, and they sat on the tarmac here in Heathrow for nearly three hours before taking off. So we are seeing

delays but again, with it being a slow period, that ripple effect, that knock-on effect seems to be minimized on that.

ASHER: Right, Salma Abdelaziz live for us there, thank you so much. OK, still to come, Brazil is tightening security this hour as supporters of

former President Jair Bolsonaro get ready to return to the streets. We are live in Brasilia ahead. Plus scenes like this are playing out in California

-- it's not a movie. How the state is preparing for more extreme weather on the way is next.



ASHER: Brazil is reinforcing security across the country as it braces for mass protests set to begin less than two hours from now. Supporters of

former President Jair Bolsonaro are organizing demonstrations in 20 cities including Brasilia and Sao Paulo, saying that they want to retake power.

It comes just days after mobs attacked government buildings, calling for Bolsonaro to be reinstated in a coup. A federal security official says that

there will be no repeat rioting today. He says those who lost the election are trying to create a crisis and will not succeed. Let's get the latest

now from Isa Soares live for us in Brasilia.

So, Isa, there are some people, some sort of Bolsonaro supporters who are really saddened and shocked by what happened on Sunday, and others who

quite frankly don't regret it at all. Walk us through it.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. And I think we'll see in the next two hours whether there is any remorse or whether there have been

deterred at all, Zain, from the 1,500 arrests or so we have seen in the past three days. What we expect is security to be heightened, tightened.

In fact, just before I came on air, I was just having a quick look, and you can see that some roads have been blocked, some barriers have been put in

place, police have been stationed pretty much around the center of Brasilia, trying to avoid the scenes that we saw on that Sunday, January

the 8th when they ran riot through the capital.

And what you heard today was that we're going to start making sure that -- we're going to make sure that those scenes don't happen again. But look,

we are expecting like you said, Zain, nationwide protests across Brazil, not just here in Brasilia, but also in the big cities of Sao Paulo and also

of Rio de Janeiro.

And I've been asked time and time again, Zain, what do these Bolsonaristas(ph), what do these Bolsonaro supporters wan? What do they

stand for? Well, I went outside the federal prison here, the federal security services here to find out exactly what they want. Have a listen to

what they told me as I visited the police here in Brasilia.


SOARES (voice-over): Pro Bolsonaro supporters defiant and unremorseful. "Victory is ours", they scream. "Our flag will never be red", they chant.

A direct reference to President Lula da Silva's left-wing workers party. They leave the federal police academy as free men and women after being

questioned about their alleged role in one of the ugliest days in Brazilian politics. Some of those still inside complain of the conditions.

"it is awful. Food, not even dogs eat this", one says. But some authorities have vowed to punish those involved. Those found to have violently played a

part in tearing through the democratic institutions are being accused of terrorism and attempted coup, among other offenses.

(on camera): One senator tells me that a large number of them have been freed, but many are still inside. Authorities are trolling through all the

Intelligence, all the video to find out what role they played on that Sunday as they run riot through the capital.


(voice-over): A protester who acknowledges she went inside, but denies being part of any violence tells me her story. "It's chaos here because we

don't know anything. They can't say exactly if people are imprisoned, if they're going to get out", she tells me. For 50 days, she says she was

protesting outside the army headquarters in Brasilia, hoping the election that she says was robbed from Jair Bolsonaro would be overturned.

For many like her, the issue is Lula. A man who previously served time on corruption charges. Those were later thrown out on a judicial technicality.

"Our intention?", she asks, "not agreeing with everything that was happening", she says. "The ballot boxes, we keep claiming this all the

time, asking for help from the armed forces to help the people", she's adds.

I asked her if her actions make her a terrorist. "I'm not a terrorist. I don't have weapons", she tells me."

(on camera): But those that did carry them left their mark on this country's institution, tearing through the halls of power here with axes,

knives and even grenades according to the justice minister. In an act that can only be described as an attack on Brazilian democracy.

(voice-over): Back at the federal police, I asked the same protester if she regrets anything. "I don't regret it, I don't regret it. Because I

wasn't armed, I didn't go with a mask, I didn't go with glasses, I didn't go with a bomb." And this is a challenge for Lula da Silva who has been on

the job for just over a week. Uniting a polarized country, a movement that is angry and simply refuses to accept defeat.


SOARES: And Zain, it really speaks there to the division that we're seeing in Brazil. And the challenge really for Lula da Silva, the protests we're

expecting today, on social media, they say it's about retaking power. You can interpret that how you will. But what they're so angry about is not so

much that Bolsonaro isn't in power, it's that Lula is in power.

They believe the big lie, very similar following the Trump playbook, that the election was fraudulent, will stake confirm them? And in fact, today,

Jair Bolsonaro, the former president who is in the United States tweeted something where he said that the election, the vote wasn't done by the

people, it was actually by the Supreme Court.

That the Supreme Court put Lula in power. So continuing that light, continuing, Zain, to foment that division and that anger. Later, he deleted

that post. Zain?

ASHER: Yes, there's so much misinformation. But Lula certainly does have his plate full when it comes to trying to heal this country. Isa Soares

live for us there, thank you so much.


ASHER: All right, Peru's top prosecutor has opened an investigation into President Dina Boluarte and other officials over a crackdown on anti-

government protests. Nearly 50 people have been killed across the country since December in clashes between protesters and security forces. Human

rights group accuse authorities of opening fire on some protesters and dropping smoke bombs from helicopters.

The army says the protesters have used weapons and home-made explosives. The unrest began after then President Pedro Castillo was ousted and

arrested last month. All right, still to come tonight, wicked weather is wreaking havoc on parts of California. Why forecasters say this is just the


And a president under pressure. U.S. President Joe Biden faces more questions over classified documents found in his former office. What we're

learning ahead.




ASHER: Parts of California face more heavy rain as forecasters say that more storms are indeed on the way. The state has recently received

rainfall totals of up to 600 percent above average. At least 17 people have died. Millions are still under flood alerts from the heavy downpours.

Northern California from the San Francisco Bay area and upwards are bracing for more extreme weather, which could produce potentially deadly mudslides.

CNN's Veronica Miracle joins us from San Francisco.

Just looking behind you, I see the sort of wet and muddy conditions. When you think about it, California has been battered. It's been battered over

the past few days.

Is there any respite for the state on the horizon, Veronica?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly in some areas. But here, it is not looking like that. It's going to be the case in the next 10 days.

There are four more atmospheric events expected.

You are talking about that muddy mess behind us. We're actually standing on a roadway. If you look here, this is where the center divider normally

would be. Now half of this road is covered in mud and debris and vegetation.

You can see how wet the soil is. It really has just become a muddy, mushy mess. This is because of that lack of respite, that lack of break in

between all of these storms over the last two weeks.

The mud and the soil has had no opportunity to dry out in between these storms. And so what's happening is that you are seeing hillsides just

completely collapsing on itself. Trees have been uprooted. Vegetation is falling.

This is just a small example of what we're seeing all across the state. It is creating very dangerous situations. You mentioned 17 people have died.

That includes a 5-year-old boy who was swept away in floodwaters.

In other situations, trees are toppling on cars. People are being swept away in their cars, unable to really outmaneuver the quick moving water.

How quickly the rain is falling. It is raining here in San Francisco. I want to show you, it's not raining too hard.

But I want to show you just how intense the waves are here. The strength of these storms, there really is -- has been no break, no opportunity for

cleanup. In some areas, they're seeing 35 inches of rain.

On the other side of the state in the eastern Sierra, Mammoth Mountain has received 4.5 feet of snow. This is incredibly important for the state of

California, which has experience years of historic drought. It has been incredibly dry. Water levels have been low.

So the reservoirs are filling up. The snow pack, which feeds -- 30 percent of that snow pack feeds those reservoirs. But at this rate and at this

speed, which we are seeing, all of this rain come down and the snow falling, it's very difficult and it is very dangerous.

ASHER: You can say that again. Veronica Miracle, live for us there. Thank you so much.

He may be back home in Washington, D.C., but there is little sign that the pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden is letting up. He's facing major

backlash from Republicans over classified documents discovered in his former office.


ASHER: Speaking Tuesday, Mr. Biden said he was surprised to learn that any government records had been taken to the office and that he did not know

their contents.

But a source tells CNN that 10 of the documents were related to Ukraine, Iran and the U.K. CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us live now from Capitol


Melanie, the Republican Party is usually quite divided. But they are certainly united in their condemnation of this.

How are the Republicans trying to use this scandal among Democrats to their advantage?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Republicans see a new opening here to attack the Biden administration. It comes just as Republicans have

inherited new subpoena power. They are now in control of the House.

We saw James Comer, the new House chairman of the House Oversight Committee already sending a letter, demanding more information about these classified

documents and the entire case surrounding it.

You had Elise Stefanik, she's member the leadership team, tweeting out that accountability is coming in reference to this latest episode. Then even

speaker Kevin McCarthy said this may be an area where Republicans investigate and accuse Democrats of, quote, "overplaying their hand" when

it comes to the Mar-a-Lago raid in reference to Donald Trump.

But we should point out here that there is a bit of a false equivalency going on because Biden is fully cooperating. He turned over the documents

when they were discovered; unlike Donald Trump, who is not cooperating. That is why there was a raid on Mar-a-Lago because he was not cooperating.

That was seen as a last resort.

So there are some key differences here between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. But nonetheless, Republicans are vowing to get to the bottom of it. And

this is going to be a top priority for the new majority.

ASHER: What do people make a Joe Biden's excuse here, that he was surprised to learn that there were these classified documents in his former

office, he had no idea, he didn't know what the contents were, what are people making of that?

ZANONA: I think the big question, one of the big questions that still is unanswered is why we are, only the public, learning about it now when these

were discovered in November. It's plausible that he may have not known about it. There was only a few documents.

Again, compared to Donald Trump, which is hundreds of documents, this was around a dozen or so. So it's not out of the realm of possibility that he

just discovered them. Like I said, he has been cooperating. He turned them over.

Why did the public not know about it until now, especially when it was in November?

It was just before the election. So those are some of the more politically sticky questions that Republicans are going to be digging into.

ASHER: All right, Melanie Zanona for us there, thank you so much.

Great news for the U.S. National Football League player Damar Hamlin. He is now back home. He's recovering. He's recuperating after spending more than

a week in hospital. The Buffalo Bills tweeting that he was released from a Buffalo medical center on Wednesday.

Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed after a tackle during a game on January 2nd. The team says he will continue his rehabilitation at home

and with the Bills.

Some other uplifting news from the sports world. One day after withdrawing from the Australian Open, four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka

announced she is expecting. One of the most famous female athletes in the world, the 25-year-old tennis star shared the news on social media by

tweeting a picture of an ultrasound.

She says she's looking forward to her child, watching her play tennis one day. Congratulations to her.

Still to come here tonight, Iran has suspended the death sentence of a protester after his sentencing led to anger at home and abroad. We'll look

into to Iran's latest efforts to crush these protests.





ASHER: The supreme court of Iran has now suspended the execution of a 19- year-old protester. Mohammad Boroghani's death sentence led to a global outcry. Two other protesters were reportedly executed this past weekend.

The United Nations accusing the regime of weaponizing the death penalty to discourage the ongoing protest movement, which started almost four months

ago. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is following this story.

Walk us through how Iranian authorities are continuing to crack down on people who violate the hijab law.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, Zain, over the past few weeks, we have seen the Iranian regime use everything it's got pretty much to try

and crush dissent in the country, to try and suppress the protest movement.

We have seen the brutality, the killings, the torture, imprisoning thousands of people to try to stop the protest. But that didn't seem to


What we're seeing right now it appears is the regime as you mentioned the U.N. and others saying it is resorting to the death penalty to try and

instill fear in people, to try to discourage them from taking part in the protests.

The United Nations saying that weaponizing judicial procedures in the country amounts to state sanctioned killings. We're hearing the same thing

from Amnesty International as well tonight, raising a lot of concern about the fate of dozens of others who are facing charges that could carry the

death penalty.

Saying that we are seeing the regime now resorting to this spree of state sanctioned killings. So a lot of concern about that. Throughout this whole

process over the past few weeks, we haven't seen the regime in any way try to offer any sort of concessions, compromise, to try to meet the people


As we've seen them continuing to dismiss this as some sort of a foreign plot. Even yesterday, we heard from the regime announcing, when it comes to

the hijab law, not only are they not considering relaxing it as some had suggested a few weeks ago.

They're actually doubling down, saying that now they're ordering stricter enforcement of that law and harsher punishment for women who violate the

hijab law, longer sentences, travel bans, no access to public services.

Even those who they say encourage women to not wear the mandatory hijab, they're describing them as encouraging corruption. They say they will face

something like 1 to 10 years in prison and even harsher penalties as well.

So it's very important to point out that a lot of Iranians would tell you that this whole uprising is not just about the hijab.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Hijab or no hijab, onwards to a revolution, they chant; death to the dictator. Those who know the regime know it will never

give up the hijab, one of the pillars of the Islamic Republic. But many say that's not what this is about.

It's about the right to choose the right to speak, to live with no fear, to be free.

The past few weeks, the world got to see just a little of how far the regime will go to silence its own people. Any voice, every voice can be

silenced in the republic of fear.

Dozens of journalists, like Niloofar Hamedi and Elahe Mohammadi, are behind bars.


The two were among the first to tell the world the story of Mahsa Jina Amini. The regime's accused them of orchestrating the protests and being

agents of foreign states.

Rights activist and blogger Hossein Ronaghi is no stranger to regime jails. He was violently arrested in September and reportedly tortured. This is

what 64 days in the notorious Evin prison and a hunger strike did to Ronaghi, only out for urgent medical treatment.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Many artists and musicians, like dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi and rapper Saman Yasin Seydi (ph) have been arrested.

According to the U.N. rights groups and state media, the two are now facing the death penalty.

And there are the voices that have been silenced forever. No one really knows how many; hundreds, maybe more, for those mourning their dead are

also being harassed and intimidated into silence.

This grieving mother walked the streets, holding up a portrait of her 16- year-old son Siavash Mahmoudi. She wanted people to see her boy's face and hear his name.

"They killed him. They shot him in the head," she cried.

"They told me to be silent. I won't be quiet."

They will not be silenced, they say. This is a battle to save the future, a battle for a free Iran.


KARADSHEH: And as this brutal crackdown appears to be entering this even more terrifying phase right now with these executions and the threat of the

death penalty that many are facing right now.

Activists around the world, Iranians are calling on the international community to take urgent action, to try and save those who are on death row

by putting pressure, more pressure on the Iranian regime.

But also making it very clear that the world is watching what is happening in Iran right now, saying that the regime has gotten away with this for

decades. Now is the time to make sure that they know that there will be no impunity anymore, Zain.

ASHER: Jomana Karadsheh live for us, thank you so much.

A man is accused of stabbing six people at a major train station in Paris several hours ago. Authorities say that he used a handmade weapon and that

he was shot by off-duty police officers. They also say that while the victim is in critically connation and so is the suspect, Melissa Bell has

more on this attack.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Six people were injured at one of Paris' busiest train stations early Wednesday when a man armed with

a homemade blade went on a bloody rampage.


"We saw two people on the ground," an onlooker told French TV. "One was hitting the other. People tried to pull them apart and that's when the

attacker pulled out his weapon."

The French interior minister, later at the scene, said off-duty police officers stopped the attacker, shooting three times. It was all over within

a minute.

"At 6:42 am, an extremely threatening individual attacked people at the entrance and then inside the Gare du Nord," he said.

"At 6:43 he was neutralized by the police forces, by police officers who were out of uniform."

BELL: This is one of the busiest train stations in Europe and that attack that took place at 6:42 took place even as it was filling up with

commuters. Beyond that perimeter is where it happened. And it was in the space of that minute that the assailant managed to wound six people,

including one critically.

BELL (voice-over): The suspect, now in police custody, is also in a critical condition. The Paris prosecutor's office said his motive isn't

known but authorities say this is not being treated as a terrorist attack - - Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


ASHER: George Pell, an Australian cardinal at the center of a sex abuse scandal, has passed away at the age of 81. He was the highest ranking

Vatican official to be convicted of child sex abuse, sending shockwaves throughout the church before he was acquitted in 2020.

Church officials say that Pell died in Rome on Tuesday from a cardiac arrest following hip replacement surgery. Lawyers of the family of one of

the alleged victims say that despite Pell's death, they are still pursuing a civil claim against the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Pell's


Still to come here, the biggest stars in Hollywood are hunting for gold. We'll tell you who walked away with the hardware at Tuesday night's award

show. That's next.





ASHER: The stars were out in Hollywood Tuesday night. A parade of celebrities showed up to attend this year's Golden Globes. It is quite the

turnaround from last year, when many stars actually, as you remember, boycotted the Globes and the show actually wasn't even broadcast on


The awards were tarnished by allegations that the organization behind them lacks diversity. A year later, the Globes were again a shining success.

Here's Stephanie Elam with more.


QUENTIN TARANTINO, FILM DIRECTOR: Mr. Spielberg, step right up here.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A big night for "The Fabelmans" and legendary director Steven Spielberg, besting heavy hitter

"Avatar: The Way of Water" for Best Motion Picture, Drama.

And Spielberg winning Best Director for the autobiographical story of his life.

STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILM DIRECTOR: I spent a lot of time trying to figure out when I could tell that story. And I figured out when I turned about 74

years old, I said you better do it now.

ELAM (voice-over): The 80th Golden Globes were without the fireworks of the Will Smith Oscars. But lifetime achievement winner Eddie Murphy did

surprise while offering advice for a successful career.

MURPHY: Keep Will Smith's wife's name out of your mouth.


ELAM (voice-over): Host Jerrod Carmichael not shying away from the Golden Globes' controversial past, the show banished from television last year

after "The L.A. Times" revealed its voting body, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, lacked diversity. There were no Black members.

Now the HFPA says an expansion of more than 100 members has led to nearly 52 percent being ethnically diverse.

MICHELLE YEOH, ACTOR: I hope they will uphold and upkeep the high standards.

ELAM (voice-over): The stars telling me it was time to embrace the show's return. But one star not present, Tom Cruise, who returned his three globes

last year, amidst the Globes controversy.

CARMICHAEL: Backstage I found these three Golden Globe awards that Tom Cruise returned.

ELAM (voice-over): The Globes are not always the best predictor of Oscar gold but they can influence Academy nominations later this month.


ELAM (voice-over): Austin Butler fueled his momentum, winning Best Actor in a Drama for playing Elvis.

BUTLER: And the Presley family, thank you, guys. Thank you for opening your hearts, your -- your memories.

ELAM (voice-over): "The Banshees of Inisherin" bested indie darling "Everything Everywhere All at Once."


ELAM (voice-over): But the latter film's Michelle Yeoh proved why she has Oscar buzz.

YEOH: This is also for all the shoulders that I stand on, all who came before me who looks like me.

ELAM (voice-over): On the TV side, "House of the Dragon" won Best Drama and "Abbott Elementary" won big, for Best Comedy.

QUINTA BRUNSON, ACTOR: Comedy brings people together. Comedy gives us all the same laugh. Hey, Brad Pitt.



ASHER: That part at the end always gets me. I thought it was so cute.

That was Stephanie Elam reporting. It was worth noting that Oscar nominations will be announced in less than two weeks from now.

Finally, it's an age-old question.

Are there other forms of life on other planets?

NASA says it has spotted a potentially habitable Earth-sized planet orbiting a star about 100 light years away. Scientists say it's just the

right distance from the star that liquid water might exist on the surface.

This possibility suggest the planet could be or might have been habitable for life. It's not alone. Another planet found in the same system in 2020

may have similar conditions for life.

There you go. We may not be alone after all. All right, thank you for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.