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Dangerous Whiteout Condition As Deadly Storm Pounds Northeast; January 6th Committee Final Report Shows Trump Was Central Cause Of Riot; Winter Storm Slams U.S. With Bitter Cold, Strong Winds, Heavy Snow; Life-Threatening Cold Adds To Growing Migrant Crisis At Border. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 23, 2022 - 18:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, dangerous whiteout conditions as a huge and deadly winter storm strikes the northeast. We are tracking this epic weather system as it unleashes record cold, heavy snow, freezing rain and flooding across the country and creates holiday travel chaos.

The other major story that we're following, the January 6th committee's final report laying the blame for the insurrection squarely on former President Donald Trump. We are breaking down all the top lines from the massive report and whether it paves the way for Trump to be indicted.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are following these blizzard conditions, life-threatening record low temperatures and treacherous travel all just two days before Christmas as a massive winter storm is slamming much of the eastern U.S. We are covering all of the extreme and dangerous weather with our correspondents in key locations across the country.

Let's begin with CNN's Polo Sandoval, he is in Buffalo. And, Polo, New York's governor is calling this storm an epic statewide hazard. We can see that from where you are. Tell us what you're seeing.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is the result of conditions that would almost to the point of category 1 hurricane winds, plus winter storm. This is what you basically get as we look over Buffalo, one of just the very few vehicles that have actually been on the highway here, at least on the street.

What we have seen here are these wicked winds that have really begun to kick up early this morning. And, Brianna, let me tell you, they have been relentless. It has made visibility just entirely impossible, especially for folks that are driving not being able to see even beyond the hood of their vehicle. In fact, the National Weather Service here in Buffalo recording a wind gust of 79 miles an hour earlier today, surpassing that of one of the historic blizzards back in 1977. So, it's certainly not an exaggeration what you hear from authorities saying that this is an extraordinary snowstorm, even for the likes of Western New York here.

And these are conditions, Brianna, that are far from over. We are going to see them throughout the evening into tonight, and then tomorrow. These wicked winds are going to continue to linger, and that's what's going to make Christmas Eve travel, still very difficult because of the flash freezing conditions that we're going to be seeing in the next couple of hours, especially on roads and highways.

We heard from the head of the county government here basically saying that, unfortunately, he is still seeing people violating what is a driving -- a travel ban that's been in place for Erie County, New York, many of those drivers even becoming stranded on some of the roads and highways. So, some emergency crews have had to basically go out of their way to rescue some of these folks from stranded vehicles. In fact, here where we're sheltered in downtown Buffalo, we have seen some folks who simply pulled over and come in to ride the storm out at a local hotel here.

So, it's really -- again, these kinds of extraordinary conditions are going to continue. When it comes to power outages, there are hundreds of thousands of power outages that have already been confirmed here in Buffalo. Authorities here in the city, Brianna, say if that's the case, it's best to simply stay home. It's much safer in a cold home wearing multiple layers than venturing out and getting stuck in this.

KEILAR: That was a phenomenal report, Polo giving us a sense of just what you're dealing with there in Buffalo under those conditions. Well, you seek some refuge inside now. Thank you, Polo.

And, of course, this weather is upending plans for millions of people who are trying to visit family and friends for Christmas. On top of treacherous driving conditions in much of the country, you just heard Polo talking about those, more than 5,000 U.S. flights have been canceled today.

Let's go to CNN's Omar Jimenez. He is at one of the busiest U.S. airport, Chicago's O'Hare International. What are you seeing there?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're seeing a lot of what the numbers are showing as well, a lot of cancelations, people frustrated over their plans getting completely rerouted, upended or not just having answers to what their next 48 hours are going to look like.

You mentioned more than 5,000 cancelations across the country, but that's on top of the more than 8,400 delays we have seen across the country today, just two days before Christmas.


And at this airport in particular, we've already seen 500 cancelations and an average delay in arrival time of around 30 minutes.

And that's important, because, as you can imagine, a lot of people are trying to connect to their next locations, and if you get here and your flight isn't on time, you missed that connection and that ripple effect sort of ensues.

Another issue we had been talking to passengers about was about trying to find their luggage. Just downstairs of where I am here is a long line of folks trying to figure out where their luggage is because they either got on a plane and were about to, their flight got canceled, they're trying to locate it, they connected, the plane they were coming to didn't come in.

So, all of these issues, of course, are happening within the backdrop of some of the weather that Polo was showing firsthand. But, of course, here in the Chicago area, we are in the negative 20s with wind outside, driving conditions haven't exactly been the best. So, it's left travelers with not as many options as they would typically have around this time of year to either get somewhere warm or to get to some of their loved ones. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Omar, live for us at Chicago O'Hare. Thank you.

And I do want to get to our Meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, who's tracking all of this for us. And you see this Arctic blast, Derek, impacting more than 200 million Americans tonight. What should people be expecting tonight and tomorrow?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, look, Brianna, people in the Deep South at least are going to experience temperatures below freezing for multiple days. So, they need to brace for that because, well, simply, we're not used to this, right? Atlanta to Birmingham to Jackson, temperatures don't drop below freezing that frequently, and they don't normally stay below freezing for this long.

Look at my graphics. I'll just give you an indication of how quickly these temperatures dropped in Atlanta. A whopping 35 degrees in eight hours as that Arctic cold front slammed into the southeast. That was overnight. You can see the temperatures going forward. We're going to stay below freezing. We are on the verge of the coldest Christmas Eve ever. That record here in Atlanta has stood for over five decades.

Now, with the wind that's come through, it has knocked down trees, power lines and currently we're just at a little over 1 million customers without electricity from coast to coast. And you can see some of these temperatures out there, we're talking below zero wind chills. That's what it feels like on your exposed skin as you step outside.

That's the placement of the Arctic cold front. It is barrels through the northeast, even though the snow was relatively quick in New York, it has come to an end across the northeast, places like Boston into Portland, you'll have that quick transition from rain to snow.

And then where we saw that very dramatic live shot with, Polo, just a few minutes ago. He is in ground zero for the heaviest snowfall from the storm as we get that long fetch of wind right off of Lake Erie, puts Buffalo and Watertown just down from Lake Ontario, right, in the bull's eye, the sweet spot for the heaviest snow. They'll be measuring snow in feet across that particular region. So, an incredible storm, to say the least, and record breaking territory for so many people, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, it's incredible. You've been talking about frostbite and we can see why as we monitor these conditions. Derek, thank you so much for walking us through that.

Here just ahead, the January 6th committee's final report and its laser focus on Donald Trump accusing him and his allies of at least 200 moves aimed at overturning the election. We have all the new details, next.



KEILAR: Tonight, after 17 months of investigation, witness interviews, and hearings, the January 6th select committee's report is now public and CNN's Jessica Schneider reports it's packed with damning evidence against former President Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And we fight. We fight like hell.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The January 6th committee leaving no doubt that former President Donald Trump was the one singularly responsible for the attack on the Capitol. The 845-page report saying none of the events of January 6th would have happened without him, drawing a clear line between Trump's election denials and the violence that unfolded that day.

After sending four criminal referrals for Trump to the Justice Department, the committee is also recommending that he's barred from holding government office ever again, zeroing in on a section of the Constitution that says any office holder who engaged in an insurrection can be disqualified from serving again.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): No man who would behave that way at that moment in time can ever serve in any position of authority in our nation again. He is unfit for any office.

SCHNEIDER: House investigators say Trump and his inner circle engaged in at least 200 attempts to pressure state officials to overturn the results, including this call with Georgia's secretary of state.

TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

SCHNEIDER: The report also highlighting other key players in the alleged conspiracy, identifying pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro as the architect of the fake electorals plot and a 23 minute call between Trump and Attorney John Eastman as the genesis of a pressure campaign against Vice President Mike Pence.

TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

SCHNEIDER: This leading the committee to recommend an overhaul of the 1887 Electoral Count Act that's close to becoming a reality as the House and Senate have each passed their own reform bills. But back in 2020, Trump did agree with every outlandish theory his team presented.

SIDNEY POWELL, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: The massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China and the interference with our elections here in the United States.

SCHNEIDER: When Sidney Powell repeated these conspiracy theories in a phone call to Trump, White House Aide Hope Hicks told the committee, the president muted his speakerphone and laughed at Powell, telling the others in the room this does sound crazy, doesn't it?


The committee also laying out Trump's failure to act for 187 minutes during the riot, writing, President Trump did not contact a single top national security official during the day.

Trump responding to the report calling it a witch hunt, and today he is still falsely claiming he won the 2020 election.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): So, now the committee's work is officially wrapped up, but we will be seeing more from them in the coming days. They still have to release even more transcripts from some of the 1,000 interviews that they've done over the past 18 months here.

And then, of course, Brianna, the focus will be on those criminal investigations. The Fulton County D.A. in Georgia has been going full steam ahead with her election into election interference, and, of course, the special counsel, who's only been on the job about one month, he's been issuing a flurry of subpoenas in recent weeks. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Jessica, stay with us. I do want to bring in now CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Defense Attorney and former Federal Prosecutor Shan Wu.

Andy, to you first, the January 6th committee states very clearly here, and this is really the crux, so much of what the report is about, that the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump. And now that you have seen the final report, does the committee prove this?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, I think they do in an overwhelming and convincing fashion, Brianna. What they lay out in this massive report excoriating detail is essentially what racketeering prosecutors would refer to as a hub and spoke conspiracy.

So, if you think about it, if you think about the spokes of a wagon wheel, each one is independent. In this case, the spokes are each of these separate, independent efforts to overturn the election. So, it's the pressure campaign on Mike Pence is one of them, the fake elector scheme is one of them, the pressure on state officials is a separate one.

What they all have in common, all the spokes and the wheels, they're connected to the hub. And in this case, the hub of this conspiracy is Donald Trump. He is the person that knows about all these efforts, that participates in all these efforts, that communicates with all these people, and he's the person that this effort is done for and at the wheel of. So, he is clearly the top of the chain here, he is the person most responsible for this massive conspiracy.

KEILAR: And let's dig into one of those spokes, which is the pressure by state officials, Shan, because the report says that Trump and his inner circle engaged in at least 20 attempts to pressure state officials as they were seeking to overturn the results of the election. How is the DOJ looking at those specific actions?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it sounds like they're beginning to look at it by interviewing people issuing some subpoenas. We know that has happened with regard to the Georgia case. I think what's really interesting to note, though, is that there are at least, I think, seven of the swing states were all targeted for this so- called fake electors scheme. Those all probably violate state laws as well.

And I've written on that in the Just Security blog, we did a piece on that. And those states could open investigations and DOJ could join in with them, do parallel investigations. So, that's a very important piece of this.

And I just have to echo something that Andy just said about the hub and spoke idea. I mean, if I was making this closing argument as a prosecutor to the jury, the simplest way to put it is, ladies and gentlemen, do you think any of this would have happened without Donald Trump? That illustrates the whole thing.

KEILAR: Yes, it certainly does.

And, Jessica, one of the committee's central recommendations is because of that that Trump should be barred from holding office again. The thing is, though, that just really doesn't seem likely to happen.

SCHNEIDER: And there's really no mechanism for barring him from holding office again. Sure, it says it in the 14th Amendment Section 3 of the Constitution, but this is something that sort of just put out there on the Constitution.

Obviously it's never been put into practice before. The committee is urging here that, hey, we should follow the words of the Constitution and find some way to bar him from ever obtaining federal office again, but it's unclear how exactly they would go about that, and maybe leaving it up to the voters as to what they'd do about this.

But really no mechanism in place for enforcing that provision of the Constitution, although, it seemed like the committee was sort of pushing Congress to try to make a mechanism to enforce that. But, you know, obviously with a Republican Congress coming into play in just a matter of days, that is extremely unlikely.

KEILAR: Yes. And, Andy, there's been this question of what did Trump actually believe in his heart about the outcome of the election, what did he really know. And the report details that privately he called some of his election lawyers Sidney Powell's election claims crazy and then you had Rudy Giuliani privately acknowledging that Mike Pence could not actually stop the certification process.


How much does that matter?

MCCABE: Well, those things that we learned in the report are, they're fascinating, because for readers and followers, it really puts you in the room. You can almost imagine those conversations taking place, Trump muting the speakerphone on his desk.

But for prosecutors, it has great legal significance, because it goes to that concept of science (ph) or knowledge. So, if he's ever charged with the four crimes that have been referred or anything else, undoubtedly, one of his defenses might be, well, I truly believed that these schemes were legal and lawful strategies and that I was trying to recover an election that had been stolen from me.

These little moments pierce that veil. They show you that even he didn't believe it, like even he knew what Sidney Powell was saying was crazy or when you have conversations between he and John Eastman. And Eastman says these two plans are likely illegal. So, that's the sort of evidence that gets through those defenses and shows a jury what the defendant truly believed in the moment.

KEILAR: Yes. He didn't care, clearly, but he knew, and yet, Shan, Trump is responding to this report from the January 6th committee, even now, with more false claims about the riot and the election.

WU: Yes. And, actually, he's sort of a continuing source of more evidence of his bad intent, as he talks every day. I think at the end of the day, if he actually gets charged, unquestionably, you're right, he's going to be using his intent as his biggest defense, saying I had legal advice, I thought there was something wrong with it, et cetera.

But, you know, I think Andy probably might agree with me on this, the amount of evidence here to show the intent, which is circumstantial, as it almost always is, there's no way to read people's minds, this is a huge amount of evidence as to intent. I would have been salivating as a prosecutor to have this kind of evidence about intent.

So, it's really going to be up to what kind of will there is in the Justice Department as they move forward with this. Sure, there are challenges. Sure, there's a lot of pressure. There is no real lack of evidence.

To all the people who argue, well, different standard beyond a reasonable doubt, that's not a magical formula or an arithmetic formula. It's a question of prosecutorial discretion, looking at it from the outside, it looks like there's plenty there to make it. So, it's up to them, in my opinion.

KEILAR: Yes. And that is the next thing, next big thing we're watching. Shan, Andy, Jess, thank you so much to all of you, and happy holidays as well.

Coming up, more than half of the country under massive winter storm and wind chill alerts, with some cities facing the coldest Christmas Eve on record tomorrow.



KEILAR: We have more now on the extreme winter weather that is blasting much of the U.S. with life-threatening record low temperatures, as well as whiteout blizzard conditions and treacherous ice and flooding.

So, let's go back now to CNN's Omar Jimenez at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Omar, nearly the entire country being affected by this storm.

JIMENEZ: Yes, affected, of course, out in the elements themselves, but also here at the airport, as people try to get to their families and loved ones two days ahead of Christmas. The cancelations have ticked up continually over the course of the day, now over 5,100 cancelations across the U.S., more than 8,600 delays, again, all happening as this huge winter system descends on the country just two days ahead of Christmas.


JIMENEZ (voice over): From record snowfall in the Midwest to dangerous road conditions in the Deep South. Now, more than half of the country is under massive winter storm and wind chill alerts. In New York, coastal flooding, frigid temperatures and flash freezing while a blizzard whips through Buffalo.

MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Strong and steady winds of up to 60 miles an hour are expected.

JIMENEZ: Storms ravage Rhode Island and Wichita is experiencing a whiteout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really hard to find where the worst weather is. It's just about everywhere from coast to coast.

JIMENEZ: The extreme weather blamed on what's being called a bomb cyclone across nearly every state from the rocky mountains to the south.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst I've ever felt.

JIMENEZ: Some temperatures free falling a record 30 to 47 degrees within a matter of hours on Thursday. In Denver, Colorado, below zero temperatures prompted a wind chill warning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's still not safe for people to be outdoors.

JIMENEZ: Even Texas is experiencing a deep freeze. And as arctic temperatures hit near the U.S. border with Mexico, many migrants are now facing the harsh elements without shelter.

Almost 1.5 million Americans are now braving the cold without power, some now stocking up to ride out the storm. The dangerous combination of ice and wind creating extreme road hazards and major disruptions to holiday travel. In upstate New York, blizzard conditions have made driving impossible. One resident saying for them, quote, Christmas is canceled.

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I know we all want to get to our loved ones for the holidays, but please, please pay close attention to what local authorities are saying.


And if they're saying it's not safe to drive, it's not safe to drive.

JIMENEZ: And at many airports, transportation authorities are saying it may not be safe to fly either. More than 5,000 flights have already been canceled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's going to be fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's been changing by the minute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was going to be a long trip, and now it's just part of the adventure to get there.

JIMENEZ: Snow even disrupting travel in Seattle and creating a domino effect around the country. The frigid temperatures are expected to last throughout the holiday weekend breaking 40-year records in the Midwest and the plains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are back on Kentucky 245.

JIMENEZ: And near record cold in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, even parts of Florida. For millions of Americans, this may be the coldest Christmas they have ever experienced.


JIMENEZ (on camera): It's new for a lot of people, even in places that are used to getting cold. This feels different. When you look at the airports themselves, it's negative 25 or so degrees outside here in Chicago with wind, but inside here, O'Hare announced they've canceled 500 flights.

Buffalo, which, of course, we've seen has gotten a huge hit of elements today, that airport announced they are closing down operations for tonight, period, canceling a host of flights but also as wind gusts get up to close to hurricane force winds. So, these are all elements that are affecting people's ability to get home. And the ability to rebook flights isn't just going to happen tomorrow. These are things that are going to ripple for days, likely even past Christmas Day, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, more to come at just the worst time here. Omar, thank you for that report.

I do want to get more now on this extraordinary weather with CNN's Brian Todd. He is in Washington here. Brian, a cold weather emergency is about to take effect here in our region.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna, what they call a flash freeze, creating some very dangerous conditions, travel conditions, and just dangerous to be outside. It is dangerously cold in D.C. right now. As the traffic starts to build, the volume starts to build on 395 north and southbound here in Washington.

Now, this area caught a good break in one regard and a very bad break in another regard regarding the weather. The good break was that after the relentless rainfall starting Thursday morning and into today, officials thought that as soon as that rain stopped that the temperatures would plummet very fast, they did. But what happens after that, they thought that that would create just a sheet of ice with the water freezing on the roads.

What happened right after the rain stopped was that the sun came out and the winds kicked up, and so that dried off the roads. So, what you do not have in the D.C. area is icy conditions on the roads, but the bad break they caught, Brianna, was the high winds, and we can illustrate that.

Earlier today a passenger plane approaching Reagan National Airport from the south, the pilot was about to touch down. He or she decided it was just too windy. We did report wind gusts of 45 and 46 miles an hour late morning, early afternoon. That pilot decided to abort that landing and just pull up and go around again, trying to get a little bit more information on that and maybe how many other flights might have been affected that way. But the high winds here are very, very dangerous.

I just got off the phone with a Maryland transportation official who told me in at least six different places in suburban Maryland near D.C., the wind causing downed trees blocking roads, major roads in both directions. So, that is a problem tonight as well.

We can also tell you that flooding is going to be an issue north of here. New York, New Jersey, New England, they're starting to see some major flooding because of the snow and the rain coming down, dangerous conditions for travel there.

And what one Virginia transportation official told me a short time ago was for anybody out there planning on drive long distance, whether you're going from, say, Washington, D.C., up to New York or Philly, or any place like that, check the forecast in each section of your route. Don't just check it kind of where you are immediately, check ahead, if you're driving from, say, D.C. to Philadelphia. The conditions are very different in Philadelphia from here. Here it's dangerously cold and windy. In Philadelphia they have had snow, precipitation, and those kinds of things. So, you've got to check your route every step of the way, very dangerous to travel tonight, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, very good advice. Brian Todd, thank you.

And just ahead, a clash between the outgoing House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and her would be Republican replacement, Kevin McCarthy, why they are butting heads over a newly passed spending bill.



KEILAR: The January 6th committee has just released additional information, additional evidence, a whole lot of it, in fact. So, let's go back to CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider with this breaking news. Tell us what all they have released here, Jess.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they've actually released a lot, Brianna. Over the past few days, we've kind of gotten a trickle of transcripts, but tonight, we're actually getting more than 40 transcripts from 40 different witnesses who had gone before the committee to do depositions.

So we -- our team is actually scanning through all of these, but it is a voluminous amount, just about 24 hours after the committee released its report. I mean, we're looking at transcripts right now from Kayleigh McEnany, from Elaine Chao, of course, transportation secretary, married to Mitch McConnell. She actually resigned shortly after January 6th, citing the president's response to it.

There's also Bill Barr, of course, Bill Barr was the attorney general at the time who tried repeatedly to tell Donald Trump that there was no weight, nothing behind these false claims of election fraud.


We heard from William Barr a lot actually in the taped deposition that the committee played throughout the summer and the hearings.

I'm just going through this list right now. We also have Justin Clark, who's been a top attorney for the president, argued for the president in many different cases that we've seen actually over even the past year or so.

Sidney Powell, of course, who was one of the election lawyers who vociferously argued even before courts in those claims of -- false claims of election fraud.

I'm seeing a lot of names here. You know, we're talking about a very voluminous amount of transcripts.

So, Brianna, our team continues to go through this. At this point, since the report has been release, most of the transcripts that we had gotten previously were giving us tidbits of new information before the report was released. So, presumably, any big news that might have come out of looking at these transcripts probably was already contained in the report. So, we're not sure exactly what other new information we're going to get from this, but don't worry, our team is going through it. Yet another night start sifting through what the committee has released for us. So, we're on it, Brianna.

KEILAR: It's really interesting, Ivanka Trump --

SCHNEIDER: Yes, she's on there too.

KEILAR: Look, we've seen these little bits and pieces in these hearings. We haven't read the whole thing. So, this is the chance.

SCHNEIDER: And I have to say -- right. And, yesterday I read through all of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, and these are publicly released. So, people can go on the website for the House committee and read them. It's really quite striking when you read their entire transcript. I mean, it tells quite a tale that we can't always do justice to in 20-second sound bites.

So it is -- you're right, it's fascinating and it does really tell that story, and in Cassidy Hutchinson's case, about the pressure that she was under.

KEILAR: Certainly, Jess, thank you so much for that.

And joining us now is Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who is a Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee. So, this is -- look, this is what we're getting, Congresswoman, and a lot of it is coming out right now. It's dozens and dozens of transcripts. In some cases, it's people who testified twice before the committee. What is your reaction to all of this evidence coming out, what you think that Americans should take away from this and from the report of the committee?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): This is a roadmap for the American people of the corrupt nature of Donald Trump's actions post-election 2020. And it is volumes of documentation that underscore the fact he knew he had lost. He was told so by his campaign chairman, by his campaign manager, by his pollster, and yet, he continued to pursue this rigged argument.

The only thing that was rigged was the fact that he was trying to rig the results after they came in. Over a thousand witnesses, 800 pages, 18 months, I mean, you cannot walk away from this and not recognize that this is a historical document that will be with us for the rest of our lives and into other generations as how close we came to a corrupt president trying to undo an election and become a despot.

KEILAR: The committee decided to refer four Republican members of Congress who defied, just ignored Congressional subpoenas, to the ethics committee instead of the Department of Justice. The effect of that is that there will be no consequences. I think that that we can say is what we expect. Do you expect that? SPEIER: Actually, the fact that they have referred them to the ethics committee would suggest to me that there will be either a reprimand or a censure for their actions and the Department of Justice can act independently of Congress in terms of holding them accountable, much like they did with Steve Bannon.

So, that is something for the future certainly, but I think that we have to hold members accountable who refuse to testify within their own body, and that's what happened in those four cases.

KEILAR: All right. We shall see if that ethics committee does make good on that. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, happy holidays to you and thanks for being with us.

SPEIER: Thank you, Brianna, happy holidays to you.

KEILAR: Coming up, asylum seekers are facing bitter cold temperatures tonight as the Supreme Court weighs the fate of the Trump era policy that is keeping them in Mexico.



KEILAR: The life-threatening cold that is gripping much of the U.S. tonight is also adding to the growing migrant crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico.

CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal is at a shelter in El Paso, Texas, for us this evening.

Camila, what are you seeing there?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Briana, we're seeing a shelter at an over capacity because they can only take in about 130 people tonight, but they're going to try to get in at least 200 because they don't want to say no. They're going to have to, and so in the meantime, a lot of these migrants are already preparing to sleep on the street.

There are a lot of blankets. They're already sitting one next to the other all along the sidewalk because they're just trying to get any heat that they can.

I saw some guys here who were saying, it's very hot, it's very hot, they're trying to trick their brains into thinking it's hot. Of course, it's funny, but it's also dangerous. It is a dangerous situation when it's 17, 18 degrees and you're out here on the street.

This morning when we were out here, they were using cardboard boxes to try to block that wind because it was so cold. It's difficult to see the mothers and the children.


They are being prioritized to go into the shelter. So a lot of the men, they're the ones that are sleeping out here. But, of course, it's just so difficult to see, and it's still just so cold for a lot of these families.

The problem for a lot of the men is that they don't have the right documentation to go into the city shelters. And so the only option they have is these nonprofit shelters. And the nonprofit shelters are overcapacity, which means that they have to sleep here at night.

There is a bus out here, and that bus, they're able to go in, at least for a little bit and warm up. But sometimes it's not enough. I talked to a man this morning that was telling me, look, I have to tell my friends go onto the bus at least for five minutes because you don't want to freeze to death. But really the bottom line is these migrants want to be here. So they will do this because they want a future here, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yeah, crisis conditions, and we do see the children behind you there.

Camila, thank you for that report from the border.

Up next, we're going to hear from some of the children of the women and men serving in the military tonight wishing their parents a happy holiday.




KEILAR: As families across the country celebrate together this weekend, many military families will be separated over the holidays. I sat down with seven children from three families who represent different branches of the military to talk about how they're making sense of their parents' absence this holiday season and what they're missing while they're away.


KEILAR: Okay. Stay there, bud. Let him hold the pillow.

Leo, can I ask you, who's this? Pillow.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I know where my dad is, Japan, Navy.

KEILAR: Proud Navy?

Proud navy.

What does that mean to have you daddy in the coast guard?

OLLIE, FATHER STATIONED IN CALIFORNI: Like he flies a lot of cool stuff, and a helicopter. He saves people from the ocean.

KEILAR: What do you miss about daddy when he's gone? UNIDENTIFIED BOY: He doesn't get to tickle us. And we also do Legos

with him.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: Football with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do miss having my dad's perspective on certain things and giving him hugs.

NORA, FATHER DEPLOYED IN QATAR: My dad has been deployed five times. And for Leo, this is his first time having his dad deployed. It's the place where it's really cold. Canada.

SI AS, FATHER DEPLOYED IN JAPAN: It's a place where it's really cold.


KEILAR: Is it Canada? Are we sure it's Canada? We're going to fact- check that just to be sure.

SI AS: Germany.

KEILAR: Okay. It does get very cold in Germany. So you have two little brothers. They are full of energy.

NORA: Yeah.

KEILAR: And you are kind of in charge of helping your mom.

NORA: Yes.

KEILAR: While your dad is gone.

NORA: Yes.

KEILAR: That seems like a big responsibility.

NORA: They like to jump on me.

KEILAR: You're like a human jungle gym, right?

KAILEY: I am usually the one driving to practice to pick up groceries.

KEILAR: Do you mind doing it?

KAILEY: There are times when I have to wake up and take him to cool and I'm like I wish I could sleep in an extra 30 minutes. But I do like having added responsibility because I know I'm helping in a way that my parents definitely appreciate.

KEILAR: How do you feel when he comes back?

SI AS: Emotional.

KEILAR: Do you ever cry?

SI AS: Happy tears.

CADEN, FATHER DEPLOYED IN JAPAN: I would probably feel upset because he left. I would probably be crying a lot of tears. And I would miss him and I would give him a huge hug. And I would say, thank you for coming back.

OLLIE: And, like, give him big hugs.

KEILAR: What do you want him to know since he's going to be away from you?

CADEN: I want him to know that I'm going to always be with him, that's how it must be, and that I love him.

NORA: I love him and he loves me. And also my dad is not going to be here for Christmas and he's not going to be here for my birthday and he's not going to be here for Leo's birthday and his birthday.

KEILAR: That's a lot to miss, right?

NORA: Yeah.

KEILAR: Do you ever get used to him missing that?

NORA: Not really.

KAILEY: So, when I was younger, I didn't really understand what was happening. It just hurt because I didn't understand the aspect of why he was gone. But now it's more of, like, okay, I get it. Like, he has to go rescue people. This is part of what he wants to do. And I can't hold him back or be upset about it.

OLLIE: We love him and stay strong.

KEILAR: And what do you say to him?


CADEN: He is the best dad I've ever had in the world. And I love him.


KEILAR: They represent a lot of military kids because, keep in mind, close to 200,000 service members are deployed overseas right now, almost half in Europe, a recent uptick in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

I'm Brianna Keilar. Happy holidays.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.