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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Special Counsel Seeks Limited Gag Order On Donald Trump; Interview With Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); Big Three Feel Pinch As Auto Workers Launch Strike Targeting Key Parts Of Each Company; CNN Boards Plane Tracking Hurricane Lee; Derna Left Like A War Zone After Libya's Catastrophic Flooding; Honoring The Leesburg Stockade Girls' Fight For Civil Rights. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 15, 2023 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: That's because there is a surveillance video, which appears to show her vaping during the show in Denver.

Boebert was eventually escorted out of the show. Video shows her flipping off security. The Congresswoman was also seen taking flash photos with her phone, raising her arms to dance, and when a pregnant woman asked the Republican to stop vaping, Boebert reportedly called her a "sad and miserable person."

Thanks so much for joining us. Have a great weekend. AC 360 starts now.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360 --

Breaking News: The latest on Special Counsel Jack Smith's request to limit what the former president can say about the January 6 case and why he says he needs to do it.

Also tonight, early impact on the first ever strike against Detroit's Big 3, plus the economic and political potholes just ahead.

And later, with Hurricane Lee approaching New England, an up close look at what goes into tracking and measuring it, flying above, around, and sometimes straight through the storm.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with the breaking news, Special Counsel Jack Smith, asking Judge Tanya Chutkan to limit what the former president can say about the federal January 6 election subversion case against him. And just moments ago, the social media eruption response from the former president. I'm quoting now: "Biden prosecutor, deranged Jack Smith has asked the court to limit 45th president and leading Republican nominee (by more than 50 points and beating Dems!) Donald J. Trump's public statements."

He goes on: "They leak, lie, and sue. They won't allow me to speak. How else would I explain that Jack Smith is deranged or Crooked Joe is incompetent. "

Jack Smith's request comes in a newly unsealed court filings. CNN's Jessica Schneider has been going through it. She joins us now. So what have you read?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, this is the special counsel's team laying out really a long list of reasons why they want the judge here to step in immediately and order Donald Trump to stop making these statements, both online and anything he might say in person that the special counsel really argues could end up intimidating witnesses as they put in his filing, court officials or even crucially here, the jury pool.

So they're laying out it in the filing this way. They're saying: "The defendant's repeated inflammatory public statements regarding the District of Columbia, the court, prosecutors and potential witnesses are substantially likely to materially prejudice the jury pool, create fear among potential jurors, and result in threats or harassment to individuals he singles out. Put simply, those involved in the criminal justice process who read and hear the defendant's disparaging and inflammatory messages from court personnel to prosecutors, to witnesses, to potential jurors may reasonably fear that they could be the next targets of the defendant's attacks."

So because of this, the special counsel, Anderson is asking Judge Chutkan who is presiding here in DC, to issue this order as soon as possible and they want the order to restrict Trump from making certain comments, like even we've seen on Truth Social tonight.

And in the request that we've seen here, the special counsel really laid out a number of previous social media posts from Trump in just recent weeks, you know, that have targeted Jack Smith. We saw it again tonight.

In previous weeks, he's targeted former Vice President Mike Pence, the former Attorney General Bill Barr, and even a prosecutor on Jack Smith's team. So right now, the special counsel wants this ironclad order from the judge in an effort really to get Donald Trump to stop here -- Anderson.

COOPER: And what has the judge previously told the former president's attorneys in court about their argument that he's a candidate for office and is just exercising his free speech?

SCHNEIDER: Well, during his arraignment, I mean, the judge was really blunt about this. She told Trump, look, you're essentially a criminal defendant first, a political candidate second, and she said she expected him to stay within certain boundaries, including limiting what he says.

Now, she already told him during that arraignment that if he makes comments that could influence the jury pool, she said, she will speed the start of this trial. She's already set it for March 4th of next year, so could she bump it up even more? She could.

And now, the special counsel here wants the judge to bar Trump officially from making comments about potential witnesses, you know, like Bill Barr, like Mike Pence, and they want it in this official written order that if the judge issues this as they ask, this really could bring legal ramifications if Trump doesn't follow it -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now, CNN legal analyst and former deputy assistant attorney general, Elliot Williams; also CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, David Urban.

Elliot, I mean, how strong do you think the special counsel's argument actually is given that this is a person running for president of the united states and as the leading Republican candidate. How likely do you think it is that the judge would actually grant it?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is a strong argument because you can still run for office and not attack the criminal justice system. If you notice, when you go through this motion, Anderson, the number of times the Justice Department says asking the judge to issue a "narrowly tailored order."

They're not asking for a broad prohibition on the president's speech. What they are asking is that he not speak about witnesses, evidence and other matters, and other court personnel. That's not unreasonable when that defendant literally has the largest platform of any criminal defendant in American history.


And there's a serious risk to the administration of justice, if he is going to continue making statements like he did at 6:19 PM tonight after the Justice Department already made a motion. He is taunting the court and the criminal justice system to act and they really should at this point.

COOPER: You know, David, I mean, we're clearly in unchartered waters here. Any other criminal defendant would already have been gagged by this judge. Obviously, he's not just anybody, you know.

I mean, when you're out on bail, there are conditions of release. It doesn't matter, supposedly, what office you're running for. Do you think Donald Trump should -- I mean, do you think the judge should agree to this?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so in this case, Anderson, I'll disagree with my friend Elliot and kind of take the con, not surprisingly, right?

I mean, the underlying issue here is, is this somehow going to affect the jury pool or some of the witnesses? Some of the people you just mentioned that are listed in this filing -- Attorney General Bill Barr, Mike Pence, right, no shrinking violence. I'm not quite sure that they're going to be concerned that Donald Trump calls them out on social media. And influencing the jury pool? I mean, it's laughable. Ninety-two percent of the District of Columbia voted against Donald Trump, over 300,000 people voted against the guy. You know how many people voted for Donald Trump in the District of Columbia? I'll tell you, 18,560 people voted for Donald Trump in the District of Columbia.

So I'm not sure that they're going to even be able to find a jury pool that will not be already so prejudiced against the president that any of this will matter to begin with.

COOPER: I understand the Bill Barr's and Mike Pence's. Going after, you know, the judge, the prosecutor -- I mean, again, any other criminal defendant, that would not be permitted? Should he be held to a different standard?

URBAN: No, no, Anderson, I think in those instances, right, I mean, arguably, it is going to be tough for the judge in this case to kind of rein in a person who is running for president, it becomes much more difficult, I think exercising the First Amendment, but do I think that the president should be calling out the judge and saying inflammatory things about the judge? You know, clearly not in this case. But you know, Jack Smith, I think, look, he's a career prosecutor. He's fair game.

COOPER: Elie, do you want to say something?

WILLIAMS: Well, let me say this. The mere fact that Mike Pence and Bill Barr are famous people who are tough guys and can stand up for themselves is irrelevant to the administration of justice. What the Justice Department laid out in their motion is the number of instances in which witnesses, people who will be called as witnesses in this trial received death threats after receiving being the subject of tweets from the former president. And the simple fact is that can impede his own ability to get a fair trial.

And so this idea that we should assess the sort of relative fame or success level of witnesses in deciding whether threats to them are okay, is nonsense. So I --

URBAN: Yes, but if we're really worried about the administration of justice, let's take it to -- like, let's remove to a district where the guy can actually get a fair trial, outside of the District of Columbia.

COOPER: Well, Elliot, Jack Smith specifically references Trump's now infamous, "If you go after me, I'm coming after you" post on social media. Special counsel says in this court filing, Trump has "made good on his threat." If the judge grants the prosecution's motion and down the road decides Trump has violated her order. I mean, that's the other thing, what are the actual possible consequences?

WILLIAMS: The suggested point before that the judge could move up the date of the trial to sort of minimize his ability to make more statements. Now that gets risky, because you actually want to give the defendant a great opportunity to prepare for his own trial. But that is one remedy she could pursue. You can fine him for money, if that's the way to do it, but also hold them in contempt and put him in prison or in jail, rather.

COOPER: They are not going to put him in jail, if he is running for president.

WILLIAMS: Of course, right. So, you know, they're sort of stuck here. But to the broader point, the jury pool question, the founders of this country did not put a political party litmus test on where trials could be held in the country, and the mere fact that the District of Columbia is a heavily Democratic district does not mean that he cannot get a fair trial here. Trump's team will have every --

URBAN: Oh come on, Elliot. Come on. Come on. You know that's not true, Elliot.

WILLIAMS: Of the two of us David -- no, no, my friend, David, and we're not we're not fighting here. I'm the one who's tried cases here and lost them in the District of Columbia and the mere fact is, we ought not get into this world of saying that because a place is heavily Democratic or heavily Republican, someone can't get a fair trial here. That's just not the way it works.

COOPER: We're going to have to leave it there, guys. David Urban --

URBAN: I beg to differ.

WILLIAMS: Fair enough.

COOPER: David Urban, thank you. Elliot Williams as well.

Perspective now from California Democratic congressman, Eric Swalwell.

Congressman, I'm wondering what your reaction is to this idea of a limited, I don't know if gag order is the right word, but being sought by the Special Counsel.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Donald Trump has no right to incite, he has no right to harass. He has no right to intimidate, Anderson. And frankly, I think this judge has probably shown more patience than any judge that I've appeared in front of as a prosecutor where most defendants acting the way that Donald Trump has, harassing witnesses, harassing the judge, harassing the prosecutor would have been hauled into the court and given one warning and said, if you do this, again, you're going into custody.

And she has given him a lot of leeway, and I think Jack Smith has every right to want to protect the integrity of our rule of law and justice system.

COOPER: The former president, obviously, is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination. How much -- I mean, that certainly complicates the idea of trying to silence him or even effectively punish him for disobeying her rules. SWALWELL: Well, you have to play on his side of the field, Anderson. I mean, he has benefited so often because people have flinched or have been in quicksand, you know, trying to catch up with him and letting him set the terms.

We saw this with the Mueller investigation. We've seen this with Donald Trump being a legal terrorist in the past and what you're seeing here is Jack Smith is playing on Donald Trump's side of the field. He is going on offense against Trump.

And this judge, it looks like has been doing the same. If you give this guy any wiggle room, he will exploit it and he will diminish the prosecution's ability to have a fair trial.

COOPER: I want to ask you about the newly launched House GOP impeachment inquiry. On Wednesday, McCarthy lashed out at your Republican colleague, Matt Gaetz, invoked you. I just want to play what he told my colleague, Manu Raju.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Matt is working with Eric Swalwell, but let me be very clear, Matt upset about an ethics complaint.

I don't care what they threaten against me, I am not going to interject into an independent committee like ethics and I'm not going to put Swalwell back on the Intel Committee, so they can do whatever they want.


COOPER: So a few days before that, McCarthy said that you and Congressman Gates had referenced each other on social media. Gaetz asked you how many Democratic votes he could count on if he made a motion to remove McCarthy. What is this all about? I mean, in your opinion, would you ever work with Matt Gaetz to oust McCarthy from the speakership?

SWALWELL: Well, Anderson, first we need a speaker who is going to keep the government open. But to your question, I'm not working with Matt Gaetz. I probably should call my accountant though, because it looks like I'm living rent free in Kevin McCarthy's head, and that's probably something I should declare as income.

But here, Kevin McCarthy's problem is his own conference and the deals that he's made, that are now collapsing, and they're collapsing at the expense of the American people who need him to keep government open and functioning, who need to make sure that we keep our promise to Ukraine, to keep them in the fight, and he is not able to do any of that.

And so Democrats will show competence in governing and a preference for governing, and Republicans will show continued chaos and a preference for ruling rather than governing.

COOPER: Are you surprised the Gaetz wasn't satisfied by the launch of the impeachment inquiry and is still going after the speaker?

SWALWELL: No, I mean, and by the way, Anderson, Gaetz is all talk because he makes these threats every single week and so does Dan Bishop and so does Matt Rosendale and they never follow through on them, and so they have the ability to do that. They don't need the Democrats. We're not going to save Kevin McCarthy -- again, we're on the side of competence.

But this all makes me very nervous for our democracy as we go into this upcoming election to see so much chaos on their side, because democracy is on life support right now. And it just needs to live long enough to live forever. And if we can't get through this upcoming election, we're going to be in a place that America has never been before and it is playing out right now with the chaos under Speaker McCarthy.

COOPER: Do you think Kevin McCarthy will be able to keep his position? His speakership?

SWALWELL: Well, if he's going to, again, bring forward a bill that will lift America's debt ceiling and pay our bills as he did with the majority of Democratic votes and bring forward a bill that will prevent a shutdown, Democrats will work with him, but if he is just going to allow his conference to act as a law firm on behalf of Donald Trump, then no, it's going to collapse.

We're ready to get things done, give breathing room to the American people with their pocketbooks and make sure that people understand that we want government to function and they want it to ruin, and so no, I don't see how he survives this unless he recognizes he is actually more powerful if he works in the great big center where most Americans are.


I mean, the Democratic votes are there to do that.

COOPER: Congressman, thanks very much.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

COOPER: Speaking of pocketbooks, next, the impact already being felt from the strike on all three big Detroit automakers by the UAW and the political implications in the presidential race.

Later, a live report from the flood zone in coastal Libya in the city of Derna where block after block has just been washed into the sea. More than 5,000 people are dead, and as many as 10,000 still missing.


COOPER: Barely a day after the United Auto Workers Union launched its first ever strike against the Big 3 Detroit carmakers at once, we're already seeing the early effects.

The strike is limited for now targeting strategic pieces of each company's operation, late today began to bite. GM said its Fairfax, Kansas assembly line would soon run out of parts which are made by another facility that's been shut down by strikers. Ford told about 600 workers not report to its truck line in Wayne, Michigan because the paint department there is on strike.

In a moment we will talk about the political fallout, but first CNN's Gabe Cohen at the Stellantis assembly complex in Toledo, Ohio. How far apart are the two sides tonight?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, that's the big question and they are headed back to the bargaining table tomorrow with the Auto Workers Union telling us today that they have sent counter offers to each of the Big 3 automakers. and are now waiting for a response.

We don't know at this point the details of what's in that proposal, but it's going to take a lot to bridge the divide that we have seen up to this point.


The union has called for 40 percent raises in the next few years as well as a series of additional benefits, whereas the automakers have offered closer to 20 percent raises.

And we heard the CEO of Ford say that if they were to give in to all of the demands of the Union, it would bankrupt the company. But Anderson, the head of the Auto Workers Union told me on the picket line that that claim is a joke and a lie as he put it.


ABBY RYAN, SINGLE MOTHER OF THREE CHILDREN: It's been long overdue. Stellantis is not being too fair with us as far as pay, and, you know, just like eliminating jobs, and so forth. So, I think it's time to make a stand against a company that makes a lot of money.

GAGE CADDARETTE, WORKS AT STELLANTIS ASSEMBLY PLANT: We don't get what we're worth, like, we put a lot of stress on our bodies every day, working 10 hours a day plus, doing the same jobs over and over again. And we deserve -- you know, we're they're making a product that's making so much money that we deserve more, you know.


COHEN: And Anderson, right there, you are hearing from some of the workers that we have met here in Toledo, who work at this Stellantis Jeep factory. And they're the ones who are on the picket line behind me.

They are going to be operating these picket lines, 24 hours a day. There are 13,000 of these auto workers now on strike between this facility, and the Ford factory in Michigan, as well as that GM factory in Missouri.

And the head of the union said it is possible that they're going to be adding more facilities to this strike. They are they're going to see how things go in the coming days.

But either way, as you mentioned before, we're likely going to start seeing more of that ripple effect. Factories that have to potentially shut down operations, even lay off workers because they can't get parts in or they can't distribute their materials.

And the question is, how quickly could that grind US auto manufacturing to a halt across the US?

COOPER: Yes, Gabe Cohen, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up next, CNN's Kayla Tausche at the White House for more on how the president sees the dispute that potentially has wide ranging economic consequences.

So, Kayla what did President Biden have to say today about the strike?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson President Biden has long said that workers are do a fair wage and fair benefits. But today, he went beyond the White House's normally neutral position and said the auto companies in particular need to step up.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one wants a strike. I'll say it again, no one wants to strike. But I respect the workers right to use their options under the collective bargaining system.

They've been around the clock and the companies have made some significant offers. But I believe they should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.


TAUSCHE: Biden's top aides have been closely monitoring the situation and now, two are being dispatched to Detroit for more direct involvement. But sources tell me, there is still no clarity on how the party's plan to close the large gaps that still exist.

COOPER: The UAW has still not endorsed President Biden for re- election. Have they given a reasoning for not doing that?

TAUSCHE: There's been a lot of negotiation on that behind-the-scenes, too, Anderson.

The UAW, I'm told has asked the Biden administration for specific policy changes that would ensure job security as the country transitions toward more electric vehicles. To that end, the Department of Energy has provided some of those guarantees in a new grant and loan program, that has moved UAW closer to an endorsement.

But it has also stoked the ire of President Trump, who has now said that UAW leadership has sold its members down the river and said workers still stand with him -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kayla Tausche, thanks.

Next, a live report from Northeastern Libya where crews are desperately searching through mud and debris from those floods that have now killed at least 5,000, as many as 10,000 more could still be missing.



COOPER: Strong winds, life-threatening surf, rip currents and possible flooding expected for parts of coastal New England. That's according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center on Hurricane Lee, while only a Category 1 storm, Lee is still expected to be large and potentially dangerous as it passes the New England area. It will likely make landfall in Canada tomorrow.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Massachusetts, which along with Maine has already declared a state of emergency.

CNN meteorologist, Derek Van Dam joins us from Cape Cod with the latest there. So what are you seeing?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Look, I think the important takeaway here for people along the Cape Cod coast all the way towards down East Maine is that you don't need to be where the center of the storm makes its landfall, its eventual landfall because the wind field is so large.

The tropical storm force winds, Anderson, extend about 300 miles from the center. So we will be feeling the impacts here where I'm standing in Cape Cod.

In fact, on the backside of the storm as it wraps in that kind of northerly wind, we're going to build up some of the water and that means into the Cape Cod Bay. We time that with the high tide as well, so the potential for one to two feet of coastal inundation along with five to 15 foot waves right along the coast, so the potential here for coastal erosion definitely exist with this particular storm.

But the fact that it is so large, that it has ballooned in size over the past few days means that this has the potential to take down trees, send power outages sporadically throughout the northeast into New England, and particularly into Canada as well.

So this storm is far reaching. And the takeaway here is that we are only moments away from experiencing the first initial brunt of what is Hurricane Lee here in Cape Cod, the first US citizens to feel its impacts.

COOPER: So that should be over the next 24 hours that the effects will be felt.

VAN DAM: Yes, without a doubt, Anderson. We're expecting conditions to go downhill from basically the next half hour. We'll see that first initial ban, the tropical storm force winds pick up an intensity here. Hurricane force winds stay offshore, but the landfall location perhaps into New Brunswick, parts of Nova Scotia, the potential there exists for them to experience those hurricane force winds and remember, this is a very saturated area. It's still leaf season here. So trees have that canopy that almost acts like a sail so it can catch the wind and it topples trees, and of course, if that's anywhere near power lines, it's going to take out power. That really is the greatest threat with Hurricane Lee right now.

COOPER: Derek Van Dam, appreciate it.

We're seeing the power a hurricane obviously can generate even hundreds of miles from a coastline. Gary Tuchman gives us an up close look at Hurricane Lee aboard a plane tracking the storm.



GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Gulfstream IV is typically a business jet. But this one is reconfigured. And its business is to help protect lives. These are the hurricane hunters, eight scientists, engineers, pilots, they work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, known as NOAA.

Paul Flaherty is the flight director and a flight meteorologist.

PAUL FLAHERTY, FLIGHT DIRECTOR, NOAA: We want to make sure we're collecting data in data sparse areas, in which there's currently no data available, or very little data available, for the weather models to use to make forecasts.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): For this mission, this aircraft flies at altitudes between 41,000 and 45, 000 feet. It travels around 500 miles per hour. This is essentially a flying weather station. A weather station that goes to the weather.

(voice-over): For the next eight hours, the men and women of the NOAA Corps will fly in this high altitude reconnaissance jet. Above, below, around, and in front of Hurricane Lee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think, for now, we'll be fine, but --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it looks like plenty of space to maneuver around things.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): After the jet leaves Lakeland, Florida, skies are clear. At this high altitude, you can clearly see storm churned whitecaps in the ocean. It doesn't take long, though, for the sunshine to disappear.

The flight gets turbulent as Hurricane Lee lurks ominously below us. All the while, science is taking place. This screen shows 34 locations where a tube, known as a dropsonde, or sonde, will be dropped out of the plane.

(on-camera): So this is the next dropsonde. It's going to be dropped. Rebecca Keller, NOAA Engineer. What is in the dropsonde?

REBECCA KELLER, NOAA ENGINEER: So the dropsonde consists of a sensor, and we have a circuit board inside as well as a battery. And the sensor is picking up humidity, air temperature, pressure, wind direction and wind speed.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And about every 10 minutes, another dropsonde, with a parachute that is deployed, is launched to the ground. Along with the sondes, the plane also has radar in its nose, Doppler radar in its tail, and two pilots up front, flying with a deep sense of purpose.

LT. COMMANDER DANIELLE VARWIG, NOAA PILOT: I joined the NOAA Corps, as did all of my counterparts, because we love to serve our country, we care about our -- the citizens. And so it's really rewarding to know that I am like right at the front lines and risking my life in order to help the lives of everyone else that are back home.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The marathon flight is almost over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. So that is the last sonde of the -- woo hoo! Woo hoo, indeed.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And as the plane heads back to Florida, out the window --


TUCHMAN (voice-over): -- a spectacular sunset.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, so we're out of the storm environment, obviously. This will be just fair weather cumulus on our way back to Florida.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): As the plane gets ready to land, time for the hurricane hunters to decompress and get mentally ready for more eight hour trips to come.

LT. COMMANDER RICK DE TRIQUET, NOAA AIRCRAFT COMMANDER: So yes, we kind of live up here, spend more time together than we do at home. go home, sleep, eat and repeat, you know, and get back up here, start collecting the data again.


TUCHMAN: Anderson, the aircraft we were on is not NOAA's only hurricane hunter. They also fly the P-3 Orion. It's a larger plane. It fits more people. It flies low altitudes. It flies through hurricane eye walls. I've been on it before. Needless to say, the turbulence is intense.

Either way, the important data gathered from both these planes and both these missions that is then embedded into computer models makes it much easier for meteorologists to give accurate forecasts. Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.

Next, we'll have a live report from Libya and the flooding devastation there.



COOPER: In Libya tonight, authorities now say 5,000 people are dead. 10,000 people are still missing after this week's catastrophic flooding following heavy rains and the collapse of two dams. Hardest hit, the coastal city of Derna, left like a war zone. It's said a flash flood hit, mud, debris everywhere, homes and cars in ruins.

The Red Cross is sending more body bags and other supplies. Survivors say this all could have been prevented. CNN is the only U.S. network on the ground there. Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from the city. What are you seeing tonight? What have you seen today?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Anderson, for the first few days after this disaster hit, we were really trying to understand what was happening here on the ground. And we were relying on, accounts coming from doctors here on the ground, the little social media video that was trickling out and conflicting official statements.

It's just so hard to get access to this part of Libya, as you know. Eastern Libya is not controlled by the internationally recognized government. In the west state is run by a rival government and just getting access to Eastern Libya is so, so difficult. And then the journey to get here to Derna, also a very challenging one because so many roads and bridges were damaged and destroyed by the floods.

And when we got here and we got to see what happened, as you would imagine and expect, it is just so tragic and shocking.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): It's a storm like no other Libyans had ever seen before. But it's not only Mother Nature's wrath that's to blame for these apocalyptic scenes in Derna.

(on-camera): Right up there is where the dams were. When they burst, it unleashed all that water. The floods that swept entire neighborhoods like this into the sea. And you can see the force of the water when you look at buildings like this, and you can see how high the waves were.

(voice-over): Waves as high as 22 feet or seven meters submerged buildings and the current so strong destroyed almost everything in its path and washed it all into the sea. The Mediterranean turned into a graveyard for the people of Derna.


How many lives lost here? No one really knows, but it's in the thousands. The ones crystal clear blue waters now murky and brown tell the grim story of a city that once was of those gone young and old.

Children, a few months old, elderly people, pregnant women, they're in the sea, 21-year-old Abdel Wahab tells us. With nothing but a rope tied around his waist, he pulled 40 bodies on the first day, he says.

There are other bodies, we don't know how to get them out. We just don't have any equipment, he says. Derna's gone, you won't see it again.

They've gotten some help since. International support has been slowly trickling in, but nowhere near enough to deal with a disaster on this scale. It's mostly Libyans here, volunteers from every corner of this bitterly divided country, foes who fought each other for years, united in grief, doing what they can to mend the wounds of this broken city.

Most are here to try and give the dead a dignified end. It's not the time to lay blame for what happened, many say. But the dams had not been maintained for decades, residents say. Had they been, Derna and its people may still be standing.

Nearly a week on, emotions here still so raw. Tarek and his family climbed on top of the water tanks on their roof. They all survived, but most of his neighbors did not.

There are 12 to 15 homes on our street. We lost 33 people, he tells us. He then starts to name the dead. Entire families gone. It's all just too much.

Libyans know loss and death all too well. But nothing could have prepared them for this.


COOPER: Jomana, sometimes we see, you know, days after a disaster, people being pulled out of the rubble. I mean, are you seeing any of that? Is there any hope of finding survivors?

KARADSHEH: When we were out, you know, in the different neighborhoods today, Anderson, you could still see some search and rescue operations or attempts at rescues, they were still digging through the rubble, still trying to find survivors. But there are a few operations like this.

You know, when we spoke to some Libyan officials here, they say that hope is fading. They really have pretty much switched into recovery operations right now, but even that is so, so difficult. We are talking about -- this isn't -- this is not a functioning state.


KARADSHEH: They don't have the means and capabilities to deal with something like this. And this is something that we heard time and time again today, where people are telling us that they are trying to look for the dead. They're trying to retrieve the dead bodies, whether it's sea or under the rubble of these thousands of buildings that have been destroyed. But they don't have the heavy machinery they need, the equipment, the expertise to deal with something like this. So they really are still calling on the international community to help them, to send more support, to try and help them. We've seen some international rescue workers here who have arrived in the country, but really not enough to deal with a disaster of this scale.

COOPER: And it's going to be -- I mean, just even identifying the dead is will become almost impossible given the water and the condition. So people's family members will simply just disappear. I mean, they may never be identified. We saw that in the tsunami and all over the place in Sri Lanka and elsewhere.

KARADSHEH: And that is definitely something that we are hearing here from people. They say the longer this goes on, the harder it's going to be and become for them to be able to identify the dead. I mean one location we were at today, this is really grim, but people were telling us that they could smell the stench of the dead bodies, but they just couldn't reach them.

It is a really, really dire situation. You can imagine, Anderson, the impact this is having on people here. Psychologically, people are telling us that they just can't process what has happened. They just -- it's just so, so hard for thousands of people. You know, they're -- some of the survivors we spoke to say they're very thankful, grateful that they're still alive.


And people telling us they're, you know, really grateful that their children survived, but they have lost so much neighbors, friends --


KARADSHEH: -- extended family. Everyone here has been impacted. And it's not just Derna. People from across Libya that we have seen just showing up here to try and support this country -- this city. They also are in a state of shock. They say they've never seen anything like this before.

COOPER: Yes. Jomana Karadsheh, I'm so glad you're there. Thank you.

Just ahead, 60 years ago, that more than a dozen young girls endured a notorious jail for nearly two months without any charges. They were trying to overturn segregation laws in Georgia. Their story, which hasn't really been revealed, more on it tonight.


COOPER: 60 years ago, 1963, was a pivotal year in the civil rights movement. More than a quarter million people gathered for the march on Washington for jobs and freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four African American girls. And in Leesburg, Georgia, it's the 60th anniversary of another important moment only now gaining recognition.


14 young girls were held for nearly 60 days without any charges. They were jailed because they had dared to enter a theater through the front door and challenge segregation laws. Randi Kaye has more on a group now known as the Leesburg Stockade Girls.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): So this is where you stay?


KAYE (voice-over): When Shirley Reese was just a teenager, she was brought here to what's known as the Leesburg Stockade in Leesburg, Georgia. It was July 1963, the height of the Civil Rights era.

(on-camera): This floor is a lot nicer than it was.

GREEN-REESE: Oh my God, yes. It's -- this was filthy. You had blankets, dirty blankets when we came in here.

KAYE (voice-over): Shirley just turned 75, but has never forgotten the stockade. She was one of 14 girls, ages 12 to 15, that were brought here. Shirley and some of the others tried to buy movie tickets at a theater window reserved for white people in Americus, a small town in South Georgia, not far from Leesburg.

GREEN-REESE: During that time, blacks were not allowed to go through the front door of the Martin Theater.

KAYE (voice-over): But when she and the others tried to buy tickets from that window.

GREEN-REESE: They called the police. He said, all of you are under arrest.

KAYE (voice-over): Little did Shirley know but Carol Barner say had also been arrested days earlier during a march in Americus. She was 13 at the time.

(on-camera): Once you were in the paddy wagon, did they tell you why you were in -- why you had been picked up?

CAROL BARNER-SEAY, LOCKED IN LEESBURG STOCKADE: First of all, look at me. Look at me. And somebody owe me an explanation. They're going to give me an explanation.

KAYE (voice-over): Carol was jailed in Americus until the sheriff found another option.

BARNER-SEAY: The sheriff made a call to Dawson, Georgia. And he asked the sheriff there, hey, buddy, could you house my niggers for a while? KAYE (voice-over): Carol was briefly moved to a jail in not far away Dawson before eventually being taken to the Leesburg Stockade about 18 miles away. That's where she and the other girls spent two months. 60 long days in rough conditions. Bugs, no beds, and no working shower or toilet.

GREEN-REESE: No lights, no water to drink.

KAYE (voice-over): All they had were the clothes on their backs and some hamburgers delivered daily by a stranger. And the wrapping from those hamburgers?

GREEN-REESE: The wrapping from the hamburgers we used as toilet paper. We never had a roll of toilet paper the whole time we was in there.

BARNER-SEAY: We had no idea where we were. We didn't know we was in Leesburg. You didn't want to go to know Leesburg. Leesburg was known as Lynchburg. They lynch black people on the trees.

KAYE (on-camera): Did you think you were ever going to get out?

GREEN-REESE: I didn't ever think we would get out.

KAYE (voice-over): Until one day, a young photographer named Danny Lyon showed up. He was with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which focused on student involvement in civil rights. Lyon had received a tip about the girls in the stockade.

Carol remembers him signaling them with the peace sign and a single word, freedom.

BARNER-SEAY: If you was living in segregation, born in segregation, slept segregation, ate segregated, went to church segregated, freedom meant everything to you. You wouldn't have a reason to use that word if you was your color, but if you was my color, it meant a lot, OK. That was a symbol to us that he was there to do us no harm.

GREEN-REESE: Danny Lyon would come around the building. I was right here, in this corner. I said, who are you? What's your name? He said, be quiet. I said, take my picture. This is where I was, right here.

KAYE (on-camera): I mean, just imagine this. In 1963, you were standing at these bars.

GREEN-REESE: These bars.

KAYE (on-camera): Did it feel like a prison?

GREEN-REESE: I was a prisoner.

KAYE (voice-over): The photos Danny Lyon took of the Leesburg Stockade girls grabbed national attention. They were published in Jet Magazine and eventually made their way to the halls of Congress, which took action.

GREEN-REESE: They told them to release those girls immediately. And that's how we got out because of Danny Lyon's. The girls were freed mid-September 1963 after missing for months.

BARNER-SEAY: My mom, you know, she hugging on me. We've been gone for two months and we haven't had a bath.

KAYE (voice-over): The Leesburg Stockade girls were never charged with a crime. Carol says she has no regrets.


BARNER-SEAY: It should have made me bitter, but I stand here today to tell you it made me better. And it continues to make me better.

KAYE (voice-over): Shirley says it made her stronger. She graduated college and got a master's degree as well as her PhD. And about that young man, Danny Lyon, who photographed the girls all those years ago?

(on-camera): You're still in touch with him today, right?

GREEN-REESE: Yes. And that's when I --

KAYE (on-camera): Would you describe him as a friend?

GREEN-REESE: Oh, my goodness. That's my best friend.


COOPER: What an incredible story. Randi joins us now. I mean, it just, I guess, shocking, but not surprising given the place in the time, but that -- these young girls could be held for 60 days with no charges. I mean, it's insane to think about that. What was it like for them to finally tell their stories?

KAYE: Well, it took them a long time, Anderson, to tell their story. They didn't talk about it for decades. As Shirley told me, they felt broken. She was destroyed by this, rejected by society. So she just kept it to herself, and she decided to focus on her schooling and her education. And Carol, with the same thing, they just could not bring themselves to discuss it.

But it's really worth noting, Anderson, we did this interview at a hotel in Americus, Georgia. This is a hotel that as young girls growing up in Americus, Georgia, Carol and Shirley would never have been able to enter that hotel because of the color of their skin. And the day that we did that interview, they walked right in the front door. They were greeted kindly.

We did our interview, so now 60 years later, 60 years after they would have been turned away, they were welcome there.

COOPER: All right. Randi, thanks very much. We'll be right back.


COOPER: I hope you have a great weekend. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.