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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Subway Shooting Suspect Called In Tip That Led To His Arrest; Biden Announces $800 Million In New Military Aid For Ukraine; Russia Builds Up Military Forces In Eastern Ukraine; New Video Of Possible Cluster Munitions Attack; Russian-Backed Radio Sputnik Spreads War Propaganda In Two U.S. Cities, Including Nation's Capital; 5 People Remain Hospitalized In Connection With NYC Subway Shooting; Mask Mandate For Public Transportation Extended Until May 3. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 13, 2022 - 20:00   ET


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She is in contact with the Port Director of the International Bridge that you see behind me.

They're trying to figure out details, trying to figure out capacity, but she says because there are thousands of people waiting, it could take days, it could take weeks for all of them to be processed.

But at the end of the day, she said that she hopes it all happens in an orderly fashion -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Rosa, thank you very much.

AC 360 starts now.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: When we left you last night, a huge manhunt was underway for a person-of-interest in the New York subway mass shooting. As we come to you now, that person-of-interest is now the accused. He is in custody and how police learned of his whereabouts is something of a shocker.

John Berman here in for Anderson.

For the record, he is 62-year-old, Frank James. This is video of his arrest this afternoon in Manhattan's East Village neighborhood. We are showing it now, but we'll only be using it and similar footage sparingly tonight, and only to the extent needed to tell the story. We will also be limiting the use of his name.

If you've been watching this program for any length of time, you've probably heard Anderson talk about this. Bottom line, there is no need for a would-be mass murderer alleged or otherwise accused of shooting 10 people and terrorizing many more to receive anything more than due process and impartial justice from here on out, that and well-deserved obscurity.

With that, let's get the very latest from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz from the subway stop where the shooting happened.

Shimon, I understand there's some new information just in. What have you learned?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. So we're now learning that the suspect here called police on himself. He called the Crimestoppers tip line and said, I know you're looking for me. I've seen my face in the news.

And then he proceeded to tell them where he was, that he was at a McDonald's on the Lower East Side, and that he was there charging his phone. They then asked him for his phone number. He said, well, I have a new phone, and then he disappeared and then police went out on the hunt for him.


PROKUPECZ (voice over): Patrol officers arresting the suspect walking the streets in New York City's East Village today after sources say he actually called in a tip leading police to his general location.

KEECHANT SEWELL, NYPD COMMISSIONER: He was taken into custody without incident and has been transported to an NYPD facility. We hope this arrest bring some solace to the victims and the people of the City of New York.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): The 62-year-old talked about violence and mass shootings in multiple rambling videos posted on YouTube, including this one uploaded Monday.

FRANK JAMES, SUSPECT IN NYC SUBWAY SHOOTING: I've been through a lot of [bleep] where I can say I wanted to kill people. I want to watch them die right in front of my [bleep] face immediately.

But I thought about the fact, hey, man, I don't want to go to no [bleep] prison.

PROKUPECZ (voice over): In other videos, the suspect said he has PTSD and ranted about race, homelessness and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

Adams telling CNN today --

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: While we identify these dangerous threats, why aren't we being more proactive, instead of waiting for this to happen?

PROKUPECZ (voice over): The videos also giving insight into the alleged shooter's path to Brooklyn. Leaving his home in Milwaukee on March 20th, the suspect said he was heading to the quote, "danger zone." He then stopped in Fort Wayne, Pittsburgh, and Newark before arriving in Philadelphia on March 25th.

Police initially named him as a person-of-interest because they found a credit card and keys to a rented U-Haul van at the scene. Later, tracking down the vehicle where sources say it appeared he may have spent the night. He rented the van from this Philadelphia store on Monday. Court documents say the suspect visited a Philadelphia storage

facility filled with ammunition and more weapons on the evening before the attack. They also show surveillance photos of the U-Haul van crossing into Brooklyn at 4:11 AM.

Two hours later, a man matching the alleged shooter's description wearing a hard hat and construction vest left the U-Haul on foot. WNBC obtained this video showing a man in law enforcement believes to be the suspect and wearing similar clothing entering the subway system about two hours before the shooting began.

Investigators also linking the gun found at the scene to a purchase by the suspect sources say, and authorities have tracked a purchase of a gas mask to him through an eBay account.


BERMAN: And Shimon Prokupecz is back with us. Shimon, that bit of information you gave us at the top there. We had known the suspect called, but the words he chose to use, "I know you're looking for me." What do police make of that?

PROKUPECZ: Well, you know, they kind of feel that perhaps he was seeing the pressure on him. He was seen earlier on the Lower East Side as well by someone else. There were also 9-1-1 calls that police had received saying that someone had seen him, so perhaps he was feeling the pressure of this.


You know, there was this manhunt. They were out here looking for him. They spent the night looking for him all day today. They were out there looking for him. No one certainly from the Police Department expected that this is the way they would find him.

Of course, they have learned so much information about him since the shooting, and they say they have gathered a lot of evidence. They say that they believe he purchased this weapon that was used in this attack. They believe that it was purchased in 2011 legally. There was nothing preventing him from purchasing the weapon, and they say he's had some criminal history but nothing significant.

But certainly the way in which they found him is very interesting and remarkable. They did not find think that they were going to find him this way. That's why they were out hunting for him overnight and into today, into the morning. They did not expect that they would get a call certainly from him saying: Hey, here I am. Come get me.

BERMAN: "I know you're looking for me." Shimon Prokupecz, what a bizarre ending to this. Thank you very much.

The details surrounding the suspect's apprehension, obviously fascinating. CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now from Manhattan's East Village, where it happened after again sources say the alleged gunman himself tipped off authorities. Miguel, you're where he got arrested in the East Village. It's a busy

part of Manhattan. What kind of reaction are you hearing from people in the area?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is an extremely busy part of Manhattan. Look, it is students, it is artists, it is young people, bars, restaurants, incredibly lively part of the city and there is shock and of disbelief that this spot, East Village Wines and Craft Beer & Smoke is now one of the most well-known and photographed -- there was just somebody taking a selfie as you guys were chatting with Shimon there a second ago.

I want to sort of fill out a little bit of this. We are two blocks from there, where the McDonald's was, where he called, that call in and called police on himself saying that he thought that they were looking for him.

After he hung up with them, he started walking. There was a hardware store right down the street that we spoke to. He, hardware -- the manager at the hardware store saw him, ran out, saw a police officer across the street, went and got that police officer and so two blocks later, this is where the arrest happened.

And look, people are relieved because most people we spoke to take the subway every day and the idea of getting on that subway without this guy being caught, people were very, very nervous and deservedly so about it.

But the idea that he just spent the day on a beautiful spring day in New York, hanging out in the East Village is also shocking to many -- John.

BERMAN: Look, there have been a lot of strange days in the East Village. This, no doubt, one of the strangest, Miguel.

We have these pictures showing the suspect several hours before his arrest just sitting outside of the business on a relatively busy sidewalk. Were officials surprised that he didn't try to flee the city?

MARQUEZ: Officials -- yes, everyone is surprised. Officials are surprised, people who are down here are surprised. Everyone we talked to about it. Look, this is not a crowd that typically pays attention to the news very much or cares about what's happening, you know, largely in the world, at least in our world in cable news.

Everybody that we speak to down here is either watching it, talking about it, heard about it, taking selfies in front of the displays. It is a shock that this man sort of existed in plain sight.

And by the way, three blocks away from the 9th Precinct where that perp walk happened earlier today -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, no one thought it would end like this and everyone rides the subway, which is why there is such keen interest in all of this.

Miguel Marquez, terrific reporting. Thank you very much.

Perspective now from CNN's senior law enforcement analyst and former F.B.I. Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe. How do you explain this?

Andy, of all the things you've seen, how do you explain this? He called the police on himself.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, this is a tough one to explain, John. I mean, I think what we have to do is look at that, I guess, surrender if you want to call it that against the backdrop of all the bizarre things that this guy has done, right?

As we were watching this and thinking about it in the immediate aftermath, we were thinking, this is an offender who showed a high degree of planning, who came onto the train with all this different equipment. He had a disguise that he had had. He brings the smoke grenade. So all those things like elevate our concerns about his sophistication and capability.

And then he runs off the train, leaves his gun, leaves his credit card, his car keys, dumps things easily retrievable from a local trash can. This is not a very clear thinking, logically, oriented person, despite our initial concerns about this offender.

So it's just one more bizarre aspect to an overall very strange story.

BERMAN: So we've learned now the suspect appears to have traveled to New York, documenting his journey online where he spoke about wanting to kill people.

You know, Eric Adams, the mayor, told me that he felt the videos should have been on the radar of law enforcement, or at least the social media companies before any crime was committed.

What do you think about that? And how important will all this be for the investigation?


MCCABE: It's a really interesting question, John.

I think for the law enforcement side of it, I'm not sure that I agree with the Mayor's position. It would be a very strange place to start pushing law enforcement onto social media platforms to review people's First Amendment protected speech to try to pick off potential threats. That's not -- I mean, I don't think that anyone has the resources to do that, and it would be, I think, getting dangerously close to overstepping their investigative authority.

It's a different question when it comes to these social media companies. You know, there's been a lot of talk about whether or not they're doing an adequate job policing their platforms for threatening and abusive speech and hate speech and things like that. And so, this should certainly be kind of Exhibit 1 in that conversation going forward. BERMAN: And to be fair, I think the Mayor was more focused on the

responsibility of the social media companies in that case, just to be clear how I'm stating his views. The suspect faces Federal terrorism charges for targeting a mass transit system. Do you see this as terrorism? And what other charges do you think he could face?

MCCABE: It's absolutely terrorism in my view, John, and it is -- you know, it's interesting, because we talked about this yesterday and there was some back and forth in terms of how the Police Commissioner was speaking about it. I think people tend to think of terrorism as only fitting into that box of individuals who are connected to or inspired by foreign terrorist organizations.

And we now -- we should be more attuned to the fact that there is a whole world of domestic terrorists here operating in the United States, domestic violent extremists of all stripes, and I think that this offender fits into that bucket pretty cleanly.

He has been charged with a terrorism offence for using a dangerous weapon to commit bodily harm, serious injury in a place that's part of the mass transit system, that's a terrorism offence.

He also fits the Federal definition of a domestic terrorist in that he committed a violent felony for the purpose of likely coercing or influencing the population, and he did it here in the United States.

So I think, pretty clearly he fits the bill.

BERMAN: What do you make of how long it took police to go from calling him a person of interest to calling him a suspect? Did that prove to be some kind of a strategic decision?

MCCABE: I think it was a judicious decision. I think it's always -- I think they were being very careful about referring to him as a person of interest, probably until they felt they had enough evidence absolutely tying him, not just putting him on the train, but tying him to being the shooter,

And once they had that evidence, they were comfortable saying: Okay, this is our guy. This is our suspect, we need to find him.

So I think it was -- they were being careful at first and then appropriately, when they had their ducks in a row, really went forward with a more aggressive approach that you know, energized people.

BERMAN: You know, what a 24 hours it has been in New York City.

Andrew McCabe, thank you so much for this.

MCCABE: Yes, sure.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.

MCCABE: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Next, as combat in Ukraine enters a new and potentially deadlier phase in the Eastern part of the country, we have a report from the battle zone, as well as the latest on a massive new round of American military assistance just unveiled today.

Also tonight, how is this possible even as President Biden accuses Russia of genocide, a radio station parroting Kremlin propaganda backed by Russian state media is broadcasting in Washington on AM and FM. It's an amazing story and we'll bring it to you tonight on 360.



BERMAN: President Biden took new action today to bolster Ukraine's defenses against the next phase of Russia's invasion. We have a live report on that momentarily followed by new reporting from the frontlines.

First, though, some new video that speaks directly to the President's assessment that Russian forces are committing genocide. The footage from a liberated village outside Kyiv this weekend comes with a warning what you will see is as difficult to watch or stomach for that matter, as anything you can imagine.


BERMAN: "My little son," she is saying, recognizing the body in the well as that of her child. A second body was also found in the well and according to the Reuters News Service, another grave containing dozens of civilian bodies was located nearby.

More now on the White House effort to help the Ukrainians militarily. A big new step today. CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now with that.

Kaitlan, the White House announced another $800 million worth of aid today. What does this aid include? And how does it stand out from the previous rounds?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it looks a little bit different than what we've seen before. Of course, this is hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid and we have seen this come time and time again before the invasion started, since the invasion started, but what is different about this package that President Biden authorized today is that it's got a little bit more sophisticated, heavier duty equipment in here, and the White House says that's by design, because what you're seeing happening on the ground in Ukraine is the Russians are shifting their tactics.

They are moving away from trying to do things like capture the capital of Kyiv, which obviously, they were unsuccessful in doing and they are moving further east to what the White House and the Pentagon are describing as a more open terrain, a flatter area. They described it a little bit like Kansas today when it comes to what the battlefield is going to look like.

And so they're changing what they're sending the Ukrainians as Russia is changing its own strategy because they say they need certain other things, whether the Ukrainians have requested it or the Pentagon has assessed, that is something that could be helpful to them.


So in this new package, you are seeing helicopters going to Ukraine. You're seeing more of these switchblade drones, hundreds of them going. There are artillery systems, as well.

You can see in this package laid out by the Pentagon today, what exactly is going to be going into Ukraine from this. And of course, what's going to be critical here, John is getting it there quickly, because the White House and the Pentagon acknowledge today, time is not their friend. They are prepared for Russia, they believe to have this major ground offensive that they believe they're going to launch, and that's why they say, getting them this equipment is so critical.

BERMAN: So Kaitlan, a source tells CNN that as of last night, those helicopters which topped the list in front of you had been removed from the package. Why did the White House ultimately decide to put them back in?

COLLINS: Yes, this is notable because we've been trying to figure out what exactly this package was going to look like, what's going to be in it, what's going to be the dollar figure. And last night, the helicopters were not in there.

But after this 58-minute phone call that President Biden had with President Zelenskyy today where they went through the package and they talked about what was going to be in there, I'm told that Zelenskyy directly said yes, we do actually need these helicopters.

The White House said before they were kind of unclear on whether or not the Ukrainians wanted them now or needed them now. Zelenskyy told Biden today, yes, he did need them. And so now these 11 helicopters are part of this $800 million package.

BERMAN: And on the screen right now, people can see what these helicopters look like, at least from the inside. You saw some exteriors as well. Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he wants them, President Biden making sure he gets them.

We also, I understand Caitlin has some late news today about the possibility of a senior member of the administration going to Kyiv. What have you learned?

COLLINS: Yes, it doesn't seem close to being finalized, but there have been some discussions internally about maybe sending a high level person from the administration to Ukraine. You saw the British Prime Minister went in recent days on a surprise visit. The White House said after that that they were not planning for President Biden to go, not planning for Vice President Harris to travel there as well.

But there has been some talk about maybe sending Defense Secretary Austin or Secretary of State Blinken to kind of have this show of support in Ukraine. But right now, it doesn't seem that they've decided who they would send if they are sending one or whether or not that trip is going to materialize at all, John, but they are having discussions internally about doing so.

BERMAN: I know you will keep us posted on that report, and Kaitlan Collins at the White House, thank you.

That new weaponry is badly needed on the frontlines in Eastern Ukraine where the fighting is expected to heat up substantially in the coming days. CNN's Ben Wedeman is just back from what could be -- about to become a battlefield unlike any of the European continent has seen since the Second World War.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All is not quiet on Ukraine's eastern front. Not far from the town of Barvinkove, Russian mortars warn of what's to come.

WEDEMAN (on camera): Ukrainian officials say the offensive in the Donbas region, the eastern part of Ukraine has begun. Perhaps it has.

WEDEMAN (voice over): Or perhaps this is the softening up before the onslaught.

Among Ukrainian troops, bravado.

(LT. LEONID SEDIUCHENKO speaking in foreign language.)

WEDEMAN (voice over): This officer gives a more sober assessment. The Russians are building up for an attack.

"They're coming and coming and coming," Lieutenant Leonid tells me. "We're not in an easy situation."

Russian shelling Tuesday killed three people including a 16-year-old girl according to the town Mayor who has been urging residents to leave. Not everyone heeds his call. The stubborn few wait for supplies.

(GALINA speaking foreign language.)

WEDEMAN (voice over): "This is our town," insists Galina. "We're staying here. We know our soldiers are protecting us."

Lyudmila looks to a higher power.

(LYUDMILA speaking in foreign language.)

WEDEMAN (voice over): "We'll pray to God," she says. "Maybe He will save us all."

(YELIZAVETA speaking in foreign language.)

WEDEMAN (voice over): Eighty-three-year-old Yelizaveta sits outside her home. She too, is staying put.

WEDEMAN (voice over): "My son's wife is scared and will probably leave today," she says, "But I'm not afraid." And then off she goes on her bicycle, gathering storm be damned.


BERMAN: Courage has so many different faces.

Ben Wedeman joins us now from Kramatorsk. Ben, how are the Ukrainians preparing for this Russian assault that they really know is coming.


WEDEMAN: Everybody knows it is coming, it's just a matter of time, John. Time however and Mother Nature seems to be on the Ukrainian's side, because we are expecting rain for a few days and when it is raining, the Russians are unlikely to move forward. The Ukrainian Army is taking full advantage of that. They are laying landmines by the roads, they are digging more trenches. They are sending more troops and armor to the front -- John.

BERMAN: Still the invasion or the assault seems imminent at this point. Ben Wedeman, thank you so much.

Just ahead, military analysis of what is in that new $800 million security assistance package we mentioned and will it be able to help thwart Russia's deadly attacks on civilians like the one you see right here.

More on this video and the weapon being used when 360 returns.


BERMAN: We want to dive deeper in to do what this $800 million U.S. assistance package means for Ukraine, particularly as this military and security aid of helicopters, Howitzers, and other weaponry may be key to thwarting Russia's attacks in the east and south of the country.

Russia is throwing everything at the Ukrainians including what appears to be in this video, explosions from cluster munitions in a civilian area in the Kharkiv region in the east of Ukraine. Those are the same sorts of weapons used during an attack last week on a train station that killed at least 50 civilians.


I'm joined now by retired Major General Dana Pittard, a CNN military analyst and co author of Hunting The Caliphate, America's War On ISIS in The Dawn Of The Strike Cell.

General, whether the battle for Donbass is imminent, or and it's already begun, can you give us a sense of the forces the Russians will bring to this fight?

MAJ. GEN. DANA PITTARD RET, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, good evening, John. Obviously, the Russians are really going to be pushing hard to take the Donbass region. And to connect Eastern Ukraine and Donbass region to the Crimean peninsula. What we should expect to see certainly initially will be rocket attacks, artillery to hit the Ukrainian forces, even aircraft at times, even though the Russians do not have, have not established air superiority overall. And then we'll start seeing the ground forces move, which you'll be in different battalion battle groups that will be attacking with mechanized forces, that will be tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, followed by troops. So that will be their basic formation as they move through.

BERMAN: It sounds like a big spread out attack that some people have likened to what we saw during World War II across those vast plains. The steps quite literally the White House that looks like Kansas. The White House that has details of this $800 million worth of aid to Ukraine, including helicopters, howitzers, personnel carriers. Will this allow the Ukrainians to stop the Russian advance? And if not, what do they need?

PITTARD: Well, it'll certainly help. In fact, that's certainly a step in the right direction. What the Ukrainians also need is to put the systems together and employ them. And that's where the administration I think, needs to take more active steps. And they need to take the strategic initiative, so that instead of reacting to Putin and Russia, make Russia and Putin react to what NATO and the U.S. does. There's a number of things that can be done, such as providing special operations advisors, who could help advice the Ukrainian military and how to employ those systems most effectively.

Now, that would be backed up by intelligence capability, even the potential for airstrikes. But it's time to step up. And the US, again, appears to be intimidated by Russia. And it's time to take the initiative.

BERMAN: So as we said, we've seen what appears to be the use of banned cluster munitions in Kharkiv. Can you talk about these devices their use and how damaging they can be if used in civilian areas?

PITTARD: I can. Cluster munitions are designed to hit personnel targets, military targets, but where the Russians are using them or in civilian areas. And so, it's just going to cause massive civilian casualties. And then the scalpel mines that they're also using tenuous because children, families, civilians, can step on them. So it is terrible to use those, certainly in an urban environment like the Russians are doing.

BERMAN: Look when you're using them in civilian areas you know, the damage they can do the pain they can inflict.

General, we're getting conflicting reports over the last few minutes about an incident involving a potential incident involving the Russian cruise the Moskva. The Russian Ministry of Defense speaking to state media claimed the warship was evacuated after a fire on board detonated ammunition it's seriously damaging the ship but just hours before, a Ukrainian official said that Ukrainian forces hit the ship with Neptune missiles causing damage to it.

Now, CNN cannot confirm either claim. We haven't seen enough evidence to support either claim, but what does this say to you if Ukrainian missiles were able to strike this prominent ship and the Russian fleet?

PITTARD: As John, in fact, what it says is that the Ukrainians are bold and certainly courageous and trying to take the initiative away from the Russian Navy. So if they in fact fired to Neptune anti-ship missiles know that the range of the Neptune missiles is about 100 kilometers. And supposedly they struck the Russian warship the Moskva with two of them. Now the Moskva isn't just any warship. It is really one of the most powerful Russian warships in the Black Sea. In fact, it's the flagship of the black -- of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

So, the Ukrainians pick the target very, very well. And it was very bold to do that, they had to have been hidden because any kind of radar or anything like that would have been picked up by the Russians so they had to move quickly. It was a very, very bold attack and certainly sent a message to the entire Black Sea Fleet, which would have been a part of the assault on Odessa. Ship like the Moskva would have been in support of that.


BERMAN: Again, the Russians claim it was some kind of a fire on board that set off ammunition, which would be unusual. The Ukrainians claim they hit it with missiles.

Retired Major General Dana Pittard, thank you so much.

PITTARD: Thank you, John.

BERMAN: Coming up, Russia's war in Ukraine as it's being sold by a pro Russian propaganda radio station here in the United States. The details, ahead.


BERMAN: More than a month ago, production ended for Russia's attempt at 24/7 disinformation in this country when the cable that was RT went off the air. But the end of that little wash cable network did not totally end Russian propaganda airing in the United States.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has the details.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Driving around downtown Washington if you tune the radio to 105.5 FM, you land on --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're listening to Radio Sputnik, telling the untold.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Radio Sputnik, a station funded by a Russian state media agency playing in the American Capitol on public airwaves.


(on-camera): Here in D.C. you can listen to Sputnik on both FM and AM radio. Their shows are hosted by Americans and they continue to broadcast even when other Russia backed outlets have been taken off of platforms like YouTube and Facebook because of Russia's war in Ukraine.

(voice-over): The host can often be heard parroting Kremlin talking points on Ukraine.

LEE STRANAHAN, RADIO HOST: I already knew that Ukrainian Nazis are real. And when Putin start talking about it, I was like, well, it was about time you talk about it.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Host Lee Stranahan calls himself pro-Russian. And while the world condemns Russia for the atrocities in Bucha, were Ukrainians were bound and executed. Some Sputnik hosts aren't convinced.

WILLIAM LEON, RADIO HOST: There's not much dispute about whether these atrocities actually occurred. I think the question is who's responsible for doing it?

MARQUARDT (voice-over): They claimed to simply be offering a different viewpoint, asking questions and challenging the narrative, which often veers into seeing conspiracies, seeding doubt and distrust, classic elements of disinformation. The companies that put Sputnik on the air are forced to register as foreign agents with the Justice Department. Sputnik is required to tell listeners who backs them, a media group funded by the Russian government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, Moscow, Russia.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): None of the Sputnik hosts we reached out to would speak to us for this story, except Scottie Nell Hughes, a former CNN contributor who was a temporary fill-in host for the pro-Russia Lee Stranahan.

(on-camera): We know that Russian state media is putting out lies about this conflict. And I say that as someone who was on the ground in Ukraine. So why should the United States tolerate having Russian state media on its public airwaves?

SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, RADIO SPUTNIK FILL-IN HOST: Let the American people make that decision, trust the American people to hear what they're saying, and make the decision for themselves whether or not they believe that that is the truth happening.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): After the 2016 presidential election, the U.S. intelligence community led by James Clapper put out a report accusing Sputnik of being part of Russia's interference efforts.

LT. GEN. JAMES CLAPPER RET, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There's this gray area of First Amendment protection rights versus an insidious presence in our country that is really there to weaken and destroy our system. That's really what this is about. And its state sponsored. MARQUARDT (voice-over): Sputnik programming is only broadcast in two U.S. cities, Washington D.C. and Kansas City, Missouri. RM broadcasting helps get Sputnik on the air. Its owner who lives in Florida told us he quote stands with Ukraine. RM broadcasting is dedicated to the unfettered exchange of information and ideas. Arnold Ferolito said. That freedom of choice is the ultimate underpinning of our Republic.

It isn't the job of the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC to censor content either, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks told us. Instead, it's to let listeners know where that content is coming from.

GEOFFREY STARKS, FCC COMMISSIONER: The public must have transparency in order to be informed and make their own decisions about separating truth from disinformation. The FCC has given its authority here, given listeners transparency so that they can decide to change the dial.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Starks said he finds some of Sputnik's content deplorable. But on public airwaves, even if a station is backed by a country allegedly committing war crimes, they can in the U.S. continue to broadcast.


BERMAN: What a strange situation Alex. So Sputnik's ability to stay on the air comes down to the fact that it's on the public airwaves, but it can be blocked by private media companies?

MARQUARDT: Right. So think about the example of a former President Donald Trump, he of course, still has the freedom of speech, but he has been kicked off of Twitter and Facebook. So the principle still applies here. These private media companies can do what they want. In Europe, for example, Facebook has blocked RT, and Sputnik. Here in the United States, you can still go to their Facebook pages, but they're clearly labeled as Russian state media. Their apps have been blocked in the Apple Store. But the FCC says it is not in the business of censoring public airwaves. So you have that transparency argument. Those American companies that get Sputnik on the air, they have to register as foreign agents.

And throughout the course of the day, Sputnik has to identify where its programming originally comes from. And that's the Russian capital, Moscow. John.

BERMAN: Alex Marquardt, terrific report. Thank you very much.

More now on Russian propaganda efforts with Steve Hall, a former Chief of Russia operations with CIA and a CNN national security analyst.

And Steve, the irony, of course, is that there's no real free speech in Russia. Is this an example of the Kremlin exploiting freedoms in the West for their own benefit?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, absolutely John. I mean, the Russians are really good at this. They understand in some ways better than most American citizens do how an open society works, how democracies work and the difference with Moscow is of course they'll move in and take great advantage of that despite the fact that you mentioned correctly that there is no such thing as free speech in Moscow. But they know that there is in places like Washington and Missouri and throughout the United States.


And so, they take great advantage of that. There's actually an old Soviet propaganda word for people like the ones who are running these radio stations, it's in Russian, it's useful idiots. These are people that you don't have to have a clandestine relationship with. They're not spies. They're just people who the Russians know how to manipulate and leverage and importantly, pay for their services. And that's what's going on here.

BERMAN: Is this station something of a relic of the Cold War, the Soviet Union, Russia is still figuring out ways to infiltrate their ideology into the U.S. psyche, or at least try?

HALL: Well, sure, I mean, in one sense, that's true. I mean, the Russians now have a whole bunch of different ways they can get inside of U.S. society, and after the 2016 elections, and the active measures and propaganda efforts that the Kremlin did, not just in the United States, but throughout Western Europe as well. They've gathered and gained a lot of experience on precisely how to do this.

But yes, it's an old technique, you identify who your enemy is, you identify where their weaknesses are, and then you use those weaknesses against them. In this case, it's to try to divide and cause chaos, not unlike it was in 2016.

BERMAN: I got to be honest, I've never heard anyone listen to radio, Sputnik at the gym, or at the beach. But it does seem that some of their ideas, some of the propaganda, some of the messages makes its way on to say other cable television news networks. Is that the goal?

HALL: Yes, well, that's part of the goal. I mean, they want to expand it as much as possible. And again, the Russians are very good at saying, you know, we know that the West, we know how the West thinks, the West is like, well, you know, you have to listen to both sides of the argument. We have to be fair, all this stuff that we do in the United States, that, of course, is not done in Russia. And so, what they'll do is they'll put stuff out there that causes, you know, reasonable people to say, well, I don't know, maybe that is true. Maybe there were a couple of Nazis in Ukraine that needs we need to look at that. And boom, the, you know, they've succeeded the Russians have.

But I would argue that the people who are actually running these programs, the Americans who are doing this, if they are really and truly so concerned about, you know, free speech, if they're really concerned about let Americans decide, then what they should be focusing on is Russia, they should go to Russia, and try to broadcast Western messages into that country and see what happens. And it won't end and well, the arguments that it's all about free speech, in my view, are actually quite lame. BERMAN: Steve Hall, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us tonight.

HALL: Sure.

BERMAN: Coming up, more on the New York City subway shooting. We take you back to the subway station in Brooklyn, back on the end train here how the subway riders are taking all of this, next.



BERMAN: As we've been reporting a suspect is behind bars tonight, the New York City subway attack. What happens still has many people on edge and that includes one of the survivors. Last night of the program, you heard from who (INAUDIBLE), who was wounded in the shooting. He said he wasn't sure if he'd ever take the subway again. But many people have no choice. The subway is the backbone of this city, how millions get to work or visit family and friends every day.

With a look at how the subway riders are dealing with the attack, here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the headline of the New York City subway rolling into the 36th Street Station in Brooklyn, the station where the horrific shootings took place.

EMAD JIELATY, SUBWAY RIDER: There's so many crazy people out there. So you have to be alert.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Not everyone knows this is the station where it happened. But every rider we talked to it's extremely aware that it did happen.

Lizbeth Cruz acknowledges that apprehension is always a part of her subway ride.

(on-camera): Is it fair to say that each and every time you ride on the subway even before the shooting up and you're scared of to be on it?

LIZBETH CRUZ, SUBWAY RIDER: Yes, even the boy back in middle school too. I've been falling before home. So I've always this scared.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The subway is part of the fabric of New York. Well it's not widely loved. You can travel anywhere in the city for $2.75.

HANNAH SALEH, SUBWAY RIDER: I don't have another way like to get to my shop. Like this is my only way of transportation.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Similar viewpoint from this woman, waiting for a train at that 36th Street Station.

TEA JOHNSON, SUBWAY RIDER: I have no other choice. So their prices are pretty high and Uber and Lyft. So, yes.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): You do it because you're happy (ph).


TUCHMAN (voice-over): The New York City Subway System has more riders than any other system in the Western Hemisphere.

(on-camera): According to the New York City Transit Authority, there are 472 subway stations in the system. And 2019, the last full year before the COVID pandemic, an average of 5.5 million passengers rode the subway each and every weekday. For the year, approximately 1.7 billion passengers rode the subway. That's more than five times the population of the United States.

(voice-over): Almost everyone we talked with has a strategy for staying safe.

(on-camera): What do you do to stay safe? Because you say you're ride all the time.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Pepper spray?

CHEN: Yes. And we have some something in my (INAUDIBLE).

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you'll spray in case of emergency?

CHEN: Yes, but (INAUDIBLE) yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray to my Heavenly Father number one. And I watch myself in all things that I do. I make sure I look at my surroundings when I get on the subway. And I just am as careful as I can be.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We hear a lot about faith.

JEREMIAH RORIE, SUBWAY RIDER: We can't really be afraid of it. And honestly, you know, I just trust that God will protect me every time I get on the train.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We talked to these passengers before the suspect was captured. But while we were working, we learned he had been caught.

(on-camera): Have you heard that the suspected gunman has been caught?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, (INAUDIBLE) I didn't I knew they were looking for.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): How does that make you feel they caught him?


TUCHMAN (on-camera): What if I told you that the suspected gunman has been caught?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would be fantastic. I want to be true.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): That's what's happened.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): How does that make it feel?



BERMAN: Well you could see all their eyes light up when you told them the news that you've been caught, Gary. Do you speak with anyone who's given up on riding the subway after the shooting?

TUCHMAN: John, certainly most of the people we talked on the streets are not given up on the subway, but particularly in this block near the 36th Street Station, people were talking to some people are saying they don't want to ride the subway anymore. New York City is lucky, there's a robust bus service here. So there's often an alternative can take the bus but quite often takes a lot longer than subway. But I just talked to a woman who works in a bagel shop right here in Fourth Avenue. She told me she often travels on the subway with her small son to keep them safe. She says she has given up in the subway that she will now always ride the bus.

BERMAN: Well, big changes.


BERMAN: I did think I have a bagel at that bagel shop just this morning. Gary Tuchman, thank you for being with us tonight.

The mask mandate for those aboard planes trains and buses is extended for how long, when "360" continues.



BERMAN: Travelers on public transportation will be the mask up until at least May 3rd. The federal mandate was set to expire Monday. However, the CDC said today, the order will stay while they evaluate the current uptick in cases.

The news continues. So let's hand it over to Jake Tapper in Ukraine in "CNN TONIGHT." Jake.