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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Coast Guard Suspending Active Search For Six Missing Construction Workers, Now Presumed Dead, After Ship Brings Down Bridge; Judge Issues Gag Order In Trump Hush Money Trial; Attorney For Sean "Diddy" Combs Responds To Raids On Properties; RFK Jr. Picks Attorney & Entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan As Running Mate. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 20:00   ET



JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hyatt Regency Skywalks, Kansas City, Missouri, July 1981, 114 were killed when the walkways on the second and fourth floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel collapsed due to a design flaw. It was known as one of the most devastating structural failures in U.S. history.


CARROLL: So much tragedy there. Experts tell us when things like this happen, it's an opportunity to once again take a hard look at the country's infrastructure. If you think about this in these terms, across the country there are more than 617,000 bridges in the country. Forty-two percent of all bridges are at least 50 years old.

And so experts say, once again, this is an opportunity not only to take a look at protection for bridges, whether it'd be in the water, but also maybe that means updating them as well in terms of their infrastructure.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Jason, thank you. Thanks to all of you for joining us. AC 360 starts right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the latest from Baltimore. All we're learning about how a massive cargo ship hit a major bridge outside a vital port, how a mayday call just seconds before impact saved lives, and the search for six people still unaccounted for and now presumed dead.

Also tonight, a New York judge has now issued a limited gag order against Trump. He could still attack the district attorney who's already got death threats against him, but he can't go after witnesses, prosecutors or jurors.

And a day after Homeland Security officers raided two of his mansions, a senior law enforcement tells - a source tells us Sean "Diddy" Combs is a target of the investigation, and he's just responded to the news.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us. It is a grim night on the waters outside Baltimore. Take a look at

live pictures at where the Francis Scott bridge - Key Bridge should be and where the container ship Dali, or any large vessel, should never be.

Just moments ago, the Coast Guard suspended the search for survivors. It was 1.28 AM, early in the morning, that the bridge collapsed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole bridge just fell down. Start, start whoever, everybody. The whole bridge just collapsed.


COOPER: This video of the moment it happened as the 100,000-ton container ship Dali first hit a bridge piling. Then, in just a matter of seconds, the bridge's entire main span collapsed. About 15 seconds was all it took.

A Baltimore harbor pilot who was at the helms says he did all he could to slow the ship and keep it away from the bridge, according to a Pilots Association official. Six people still missing, now presumed dead. The bridge is a crucial link in the beltway around Baltimore. Its collapse shut down one of the busiest seaports in the country, first in the nation for shipping cars and trucks, according to Maryland's governor.

By any measure, this is a disaster of national proportions, with aftereffects possibly stretching out years from now.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to send all the federal resources they need as we respond to this emergency. I mean all the federal resources and we're going to rebuild that port together. It's my intention that the federal government will pay for the entire cost of reconstructing that bridge and I expect the Congress to support my effort.


COOPER: Now, in a moment, we'll talk to Baltimore's fire chief and later a former Navy SEAL, on the search and recovery effort underwater.

But first, CNN's Pete Muntean, not far from the fallen bridge. So talk about the decision for rescuers to suspend the search efforts.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we just got the details about that in a news conference here. And the United States Coast Guard says they do not believe they will find anybody alive here tonight.

You have to think about the risks and the danger, they said. It has gotten a lot colder with nightfall here, not only the air temperature, but also the water temperature. Also the visibility underwater is very poor. They say that is very risky because there are sharp pieces of the Key Bridge still in the water that could puncture a suit or an airline. And they simply do not want to add to the disaster that occurred here.


MUNTEAN (voice over): A runaway cargo ship taking down an iconic Baltimore bridge is being described as a scene from a movie. Now, investigators have new questions about the final moments before the crippled MV Dali veered off course and into the Key Bridge.

The 911 calls frantic as steel and concrete plunged into the Patapsco River below.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bridge collapsed into the water and there are unknown amounts of people and or vehicles in the water. The entire Key Bridge is in the harbor. I advise to hold all traffic from coming to the bridge. I advise again, the entire Key Bridge has fallen into the harbor.


MUNTEAN (voice over): Officials say the Dali set sail at 12.28 AM under the command of a Port of Baltimore pilot who boards large ships as they navigate the 700-foot-wide channel. Security video shows minutes before the impact, the lights on board the Dali shut off twice. Then the bow swung right.


Briefed by the Coast Guard, Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says the crew experienced power issues and a loss of propulsion with alarms on the bridge blaring.


GOV. WES MOORE (D) MARYLAND: Preliminary investigation points to an accident. We haven't seen any credible evidence of a terrorist attack.


MUNTEAN (voice over): Key to investigators will be the ship's black box mandated by international law. A voyage data recorder captures parameters like heading, speed and water depth, as well as the condition of the engines, thrusters and rudder. The recorder also captures crew conversations on the bridge, key to investigators probing what caused the crew to apparently lose control.


JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB CHAIR: It will be critical. It's a critical piece of our investigation, which is why we have a recorder's team here. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MUNTEAN (voice over): The latest data shows the Dali was traveling at a speed of eight knots, roughly nine miles per hour, fast enough to trigger a disaster that could have been much worse.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: This is a unique circumstance. I do not know of a bridge that has been constructed to withstand a direct impact from a vessel of this size.



COOPER: And Pete, what do we know about the two people who were rescued out of the water?

MUNTEAN (on camera): Few official details right now, Anderson. One of those men was taken to the hospital, still in the hospital tonight. One met with rescuers on the scene and refused treatment. They were two of the eight total crew that was on this bridge doing deck work, repairing potholes, that means six are still missing tonight.

COOPER: And in that speeded up image where the ship is approaching, we see vehicles crossing the bridge. They - were - they were able - were they able to stop? I assume they were able to stop vehicles before it hit.

MUNTEAN: They were able to get out a call. The Maryland transportation authority police was essentially here and able to cut off more cars from entering the bridge. But we know from side sonar searches by the Coast Guard and the state police that they've been able to find five cars underwater that may also include something they say is tractor trailer-like Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thank you.

I want to go next to CNN's Brian Todd, who's on the water near the scene. Brian, I know you've been out there for a long time. What have you been seeing at the site of the collapse and what are conditions been like for emergency crews? I mean, it's incredibly difficult.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very difficult, Anderson. And the conditions are worsening tonight. It's getting much colder outside. As we mentioned, the water temperature is really plummeting. So conditions are getting worse out here tonight. With our second camera, you can kind of see the boat - the ship behind me. It's partially illuminated by its own lighting there, but there are still rescue and recovery boats all around the Dali, the name of the tanker, the container ship that crashed into the bridge just over my right shoulder there.

All day long, we've been seeing that kind of activity, rescue recovery boats buzzing all around the point of impact. You could see the tangled metal and the concrete from the supports draped over the bow of the vessel. They're still there. What we were told this morning as we deployed out into the water was I spoke to a marine construction official here who's going to be part of the salvaging and reconstruction efforts.

He said it's going to take days just to get the heavy equipment they need to get in place here to begin the process of just taking apart the remnants of the bridge. They're going to have to cut those big remnants into smaller pieces just in order to remove them. That's going to take floating cranes and a lot of other heavy equipment just to do all that. It's going to take several days just to get that equipment in place. So it kind of gives you an idea of just the logistical challenge that's going to be involved in salvaging and removing all of this wreckage from the water.

And, as Pete mentioned, a dangerous job. I mean, a lot of this - a lot of the wreckage is still underwater, getting to it and getting it pulled out is going to be very dangerous. They have suspended the rescue operations, not believing they're going to find any of those six individuals alive. But then comes the very challenging task of trying to get this boat moved and it's unclear when that's going to be, whether they're going to have to remove a lot of the containers from the vessel in order to move it.

And then, of course, as we've just mentioned, trying to remove the remnants of this bridge in order to get reconstruction going again and to get this port operational again, Anderson. And that's really what's daunting. That could take several weeks.

COOPER: And, I mean, this is usually a pretty busy area with ship traffic.

TODD: It really is. Baltimore is one of the heaviest traffic ports on the East Coast. It is a huge port for the transportation of new automobiles and light trucks into the United States. There's a vessel just to my right. You can't see it in the darkness now, the Carmen. It's a large tanker vessel that transports automobiles and light trucks into the Port of Baltimore. It's stuck in port there, as are many other container ships. It is a huge economic disruption.


The Port of Baltimore alone last year processed about 850,000 vehicles into the United States. That's how important it is for the importation of automobiles and light trucks, all of that coming to a very sudden stop. It's unclear when any of that is going to resume.

We are told by the governor of Virginia and other officials that some of the ocean carriers are going to be able to be diverted to the Port of Virginia, which is about 220 miles south of here in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. But again, that's a logistical challenge, too. They've got to get that port up to speed in getting some additional traffic in there.

So it just gives you an idea of the incredible disruption of economic activity here. COOPER: Yes.

TODD: One other thing that I can tell you is the Francis Scott Key Bridge is the only avenue where hazardous material can be transported north and south along the eastern seaboard in this area. They're not allowed to transport hazmat material in the tunnels underneath the Baltimore harbor. That's where the civilian automotive traffic goes. The hazmat material all goes over the Key Bridge. Now they've got to figure out ways to reroute all of that.

COOPER: Brian Todd, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining us now is Baltimore City Fire Chief James Wallace.

Chief Wallace, thank you for being with us. I know your firefighters and rescue personnel have been working just nonstop on this. Can you talk about what it means for your teams as this moves from a search and rescue mission to a recovery operation?

CHIEF JAMES WALLACE, BALTIMORE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Good evening, Anderson, and thank you for having us.

So our operation has actually shut down for the night due to the dangerous conditions as has been reported on CNN. (Inaudible) ...

COOPER: I think we just lost connection with the chief. We'll try to, unfortunately, reestablish that. Clearly, he was talking from his vehicle.

One of the things that we have just learned, as you heard from the chief, is that the rescue operations, in fact all operations this evening have been suspended underwater. The difficulty for the divers under the water is extreme. The cold temperatures, the frigid conditions, obviously that temperature only drops at night, and the visibility was said to be no more than six inches in some cases.

So it's been very difficult. I'm told we have the chief back with us. Chief, I'm sorry we lost contact with you. We appreciate you rejoining us.

Can you talk about the conditions the divers have been working under? Because I understand the visibility has been like six inches, the temperatures are frigid. I mean, and there's a lot of debris underwater.

WALLACE: Yes, that's correct. The surface water temperatures when we arrived this morning were approximately 47 degrees with an air temperature around 44 to 45 degrees. Visibility in the harbor decreases significantly as you increase depth. So the deeper you go, the less you're able to see. Water depths in and around or under that bridge vary from 40 feet in some places to in excess of 60 feet.

So as you go deeper, the divers are exposed to colder temperatures. They have zero viz and as you look at a lot of the photographs, especially what you have on scene, imagine what you're seeing there also being the case underwater. So there's a lot of steel underwater. There's bridge deck underwater. There are a lot of hazards down there. And we'll reach depths where the divers are literally feeling their way around.

So that has a lot to do with why the operation has ceased for the night. That, of course, compounded by darkness.

COOPER: I mean, To imagine divers down there who obviously are eager to do the job and rescue anybody there who's - to bring anybody back up, but not knowing - I'm not sure how strong the current is, I've heard it's - it maybe not that fast moving, but not knowing what might be coming at you with all that metal underwater.

I mean, that - a diver could easily be injured and then you'd have a whole rescue operation just to try to relieve that diver.

WALLACE: That's correct. That portion of the Patapsco River is tidal influenced. So it goes through tide cycles, just like the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay does. The - again, the issues, especially subsurface in this operation, also really include a lot of instability. We know that we have steel sections of the bridge that are hanging on other pieces of debris unsupported. We know that we have a lot of the steel superstructure that is actually laying across the bow of the ship itself and is very unstable. We know that we have sea containers that are on board the vessel that are hanging off, they're also unstable.


And then the final piece that we're very concerned about is the remaining bridge structure. That bridge has suffered catastrophic impact and catastrophic failure. So although there are pieces of the bridge that remain, structural stability of what remains there is also a major concern as well.

COOPER: I heard you talk earlier about using infrared sonar technologies to search for vehicles in the water. I mean, do you sort of have to try to create an underwater map or is it just looking in quadrant by quadrant to just see what's there?

WALLACE: So we're actually in the process of mapping that underwater. Our searches right now, we broke the search area up into two quadrants, a north and a south quadrant. And we deployed multiple teams there. When we first arrived during the night, we were very fortunate to have had air support from the Maryland State Police helicopter, and then we also gained air support from the Baltimore Police Department.

They have infrared technology. We had infrared technology on the water in addition to side scan sonar. So we were able to actively engage in search in the dark as well during the day. Daytime is more of a side scan sonar operation. But to your question, yes, this is going to be an operation when we begin tomorrow. We're going to begin to map this underwater with numerous federal, state and local dive teams.

COOPER: Chief Wallace, I'm sure your folks are exhausted. I appreciate all your efforts and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us. Thank you.

WALLACE: Yes, sir. Thank you.

COOPER: Chief Wallace.

Coming up next, more on the missing workers and we'll talk to a Navy SEAL on the challenges recovery crews are facing.

Later, Sean "Diddy" Combs' reaction to news that he's now the target of a federal investigation by the team that handles sex trafficking.



COOPER: We were talking before the break with Baltimore's fire chief about what is now a recovery operation for six construction workers, now presumed dead, who were on the Francis Scott Key Bridge when it collapsed. Two other workers were rescued early on. In a moment, the challenges facing searchers tonight, but first CNN's Danny Freeman, who's - who has more on those missing.

So I know you spoke with a family member of - or family members, I should say, of the repair crew who were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. I mean, what - I cannot imagine how awful this day has been for them.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. It really is hard to put into words. I spoke to a number of people who said they had family members who were on the bridge behind me early this morning when it collapsed. And at that time, they were incredibly distressed, incredibly upset. But they were still waiting on information, waiting on any sign of hope. And then I can only imagine what they're feeling now that this is a recovery mission.

But those family members told us that the workers worked for Brawner Builders. That's a local construction company. It's only about five miles from where this bridge is. And I spoke to one woman in particular who said that at the time she had two immediate members in her family who were missing. She didn't feel comfortable at that time providing their names. But just to illustrate how close they were to this construction business, she said that she had an uncle who worked at this construction business for many, many years and absolutely loved this job, loved coming to work and making sure that the roads around this area are clear and safe.

COOPER: Has the construction company said anything tonight?

FREEMAN: Anderson, we reached out to Brawner Builders a number of times. They declined to comment to us when we got in touch with them. However, just in the past few hours, the executive vice president of that construction company, Jeffrey Pritzker, told the Baltimore Sun that this was a terrible, terrible, unforeseen tragedy and actually was one of the first people to say that he believed that those six missing were presumed to be dead even before we had heard that from the Coast Guard. So that's what we're hearing from them now, but only from a few local outlets.

COOPER: I asked Pete Muntean about this earlier, but do you have any more information about the two people who were rescued after the bridge collapsed? Do we know - I mean, were they actually in the water?

FREEMAN: Listen, Anderson, we don't have a tremendous amount of details about exactly how those two who survived actually were able to survive. But I spoke with two other women who said that they were family members with one of the men who survived. They were so happy, but also very sad, because they told me that while they're so glad he is okay and he survived, they said that he's actually not okay, because you can imagine the emotional and mental stress that these survivors have gone through.

Even the governor of Maryland said - told to CNN that one of those men has to go through shock trauma therapy because of what he went through earlier in the day. So, again, we're still waiting on some details as to how exactly these men were able to survive. But clearly, after experiencing such a traumatic incident and losing now, we know, six other members, at least of your crew, again, a truly tragic and heartbreaking moment for that entire community, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Danny Freeman, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Right now our guest is Cade Courtley, a retired Navy SEAL and author of the book "SEAL Survival Guide: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster."

Cade, thanks for being with us. I'm sorry it's under these circumstances.

But given what you know about how this collapse unfolded, I mean, the idea that anyone was able to survive on that bridge, it would be extraordinary. Can you just - I mean, a person trapped on a bridge that suddenly is plunged into the water at that temperature, I mean, the likelihood of survival is very low.

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: It really is, Anderson. It's good to be with you. Think about a situation where from the point where this bridge collapsed, you're 185 feet above the water. So if you survive the impact into the water, you have tons and tons of debris coming down on top of you.


If you made it through that, now you find yourself completely stressed out, potentially injured, maybe in shock in 47 degree water.

Now you are going to be unconscious in water at that temperature within about 30 to maybe 60 minutes, and you are going to pass away after one to two hours. So the fact that anybody made it out alive is pretty incredible. It's unfortunate, but I would say within about two hours to three hours after this bridge collapsed, we were in recovery mode. COOPER: I just talked to the Fire Chief, and I mean, you think about

the firefighters and other divers, police divers, I mean, they had a lot of folks in the water, dozens of divers in the water. I mean, just how difficult that is, six inches of visibility at its best, all this debris, all this metal, jagged pieces of metal jutting out. You don't know - I mean, how do you - I mean, six inches, you can't see anything. You're literally - it's sort of like - I mean, it's like archeology by Braille, isn't it?

COURTLEY: Yes, I mean, it really is. You're using your hands to try and find something. A couple of - and the Fire Chief was amazing, and two points to repeat. The biggest one is there's so much instability with the bridge wreckage. I mean, you've got a major piece of it that is on the bow of a ship, container ship. So that's anything but stable.

And then you add in, as you spoke of, the lack of visibility. So hopefully there - and I think the chief alluded to it, they are going to map this out the best they can using technology like side-scan sonar, because the key to a successful search or recovery is to narrow down that area to the best you can before you put divers in, because the last thing you want is your recovery to turn back into a rescue mission after one of these divers.

But yes, absolutely, these guys - I mean, nothing. You're seeing nothing and you're going to be doing this, and you are surrounded by tons of steel, concrete, bent, ripped. I mean, it is one gigantic hazard, but that's why these guys do this job.

COOPER: I've been on a boat and dived on a wreck with side - and that - and we went over the wreck with the side-scanning sonar. And you could see the bow and everything quite easily. And again, this was low visibility, but it wasn't at great depth. I mean, this is - it's three-dimensional. So does side-scanning sonar give you a sense of - does it just show you the top of what the debris is or does it show you all the layers of debris underneath?

COURTLEY: You're getting a profile, is what you're getting basically, almost like if you're looking at a picture. And the best thing about that, again, as I spoke of earlier, is you're narrowing down where you're going to put your people in the water, because that is going to be the riskiest part of this entire recovery thing.

As soon as people go in the water, given what is going on there with all the debris, that is the high-risk part of it. But again, that's why these guys get paid the big bucks. They're going to be fine with the temperature. The depths are not extreme, 40 to 60 feet. That's very workable. But it's so unstable. I mean, this is - these are tons and tons of steel and concrete that is just in the water.

Imagine trying to find something in amusement park after you've filled the amusement park with about 60 feet of water and no visibility. That's kind of what these guys are going to have to deal with here.

COOPER: I'm sure they are not getting paid enough to be doing this job, but I wish they were. It's extraordinary what they do. Cade Courtley, it's good to talk to you. Thank you so much.

COURTLEY: Good to see you, Anderson. Thank you.

COOPER: You take care.

Still ahead, the former president has been hit with a limited gag order in his New York hush money election interference case. What it could mean for the upcoming criminal trial next.



COOPER: The former president today was given a limited gag order in his New York hush money trial. The charges stem from reimbursements made to Trump's then lawyer for payments he made before the 2016 election to an adult film star, Stormy Daniels, alleging an affair with Trump.

The former president has pleaded not guilty and denies the affair with the limited gag order. He's still free to rail against the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, who, as you may know already, has multiple death threats against him. But he can't target prosecutors or witnesses or jurors. The judge cited his history of threatening inflammatory statements in a number of cases.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Deranged Jack Smith. Have you ever heard of him?

Deranged Jack Smith.

Deranged Jack Smith.

The deranged one, I call him.

Doesn't he look deranged?

When you take a look at that face, you say, that guy is a sick man. There's something wrong with him.

I meet a woman outside of Bergdorf Goodman. I took her upstairs to a changing booth. It was all made up.

I don't even know who this woman is. What else can you expect from a Trump hating, Clinton appointed judge?

I have a Trump hating judge.

This rogue judge, a Trump hater.

We have a rogue judge.

This judge is a lunatic. And if you've ever watched him, and the Attorney General may be worse, may be worse. You ever watch her? I will get Donald Trump!

Letitia James, the corrupt Attorney General of New York.

She's a corrupt person.

She's got serious Trump derangement syndrome.

Every single day in suing him, I'm going to sue him!


COOPER: By the way, under this limited gag order, he can still rail against, as I said, Alvin Bragg, the district attorney, even the judge on the case, as he has before, just not witnesses or jurors or prosecutors. The judge set an April 15th trial date, as you may know, rejecting the former president's latest attempts to delay it.

Joining me now is Legal Analyst Elie Honig and CNN Correspondent Kara Scannell. Was this limited gag order? Was this expected?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So it's interesting, this -- the prosecution made this request a month ago and the judges had it fully briefed for three weeks and he's made other findings and other motions in that time period. But he waited until today to do it and he noted in his gag order statements that Trump made yesterday after the hearing at 40 Wall Street where he criticized by name one of the prosecutors in the case, Matthew Colangelo, he's like one of the lead attorneys, and it was after that that the judge issues this gag order.


Also, after Trump had made comments about the judge and his daughter on social media, but this will not cover the judge and it based on the reading of the order doesn't appear to cover his daughter either. But the judge saying that he was taking all of Trump's statements, many of the ones that we just played in totality.

And his his view of it was he said that "these extrajudicial statements went far beyond defending himself against attacks by public figures. Indeed, his statements were threatening, inflammatory, denigrating, and the targets of his statements range from local and federal officials, court and court staff, prosecutors and staff assigned to the cases, and private individuals, including grand jurors performing their civic duty."

So saying that this is not just Trump defending himself, at the beginning of this case, he said he wasn't going to step in, he was not going to put a gag order. But now he's saying based on the evidence that there have been an increase in threats against the district attorney's office and the prosecutors that he thought now it was important.

And I thought another line that he had in there is he said, because the trial is so close, just three weeks away, he said the risk of harm is now paramount. COOPER: Elie, I mean, what do you think about this? Because again he's free to attack the public figures, just not the witnesses or the jurors.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think this gag order is perfectly appropriate because it is carefully crafted, it's narrow. We use this phrase, gag order, lawyers use it, regular people use it, but it's a bit misleading because when you think of someone who's gagged, like an action hero in an 80s movie, they can't talk at all.

Donald Trump can still say plenty here. He can still criticize the judge, the D.A. He can say --

COOPER: And that's why I keep calling it a limited gag order because you know he's going to fundraise office saying, oh look, they're trying to silence me when, in fact --

HONIG: Exactly.

COOPER: -- again, it's just, you know, the public figures he can still go after.

HONIG: And that's why I think it's going to survive if he appeals. I think it's absolutely going to survive because what this gag order protects is the jurors, the witnesses, and the staff. They're the most vulnerable people. They're the people who need to be protected. They're off limits. Everything else. So, he's free to talk.

COOPER: What would the punishment though, I mean, actually be? I mean --

SCANNELL: I mean, as we saw in the civil case, Trump violated that gag order a couple of times, and it cost him a couple of thousand dollars. Nothing that was that serious to him. I mean, in this case it's, you know, it's not clear. It's not like he would get sent to jail right away if he violated it.

But the judge also in a separate order today, relating to a challenge to his process of receiving these motions, did have a shot across the bow to the attorney saying, you know, he's all for zealous advocacy, but he says you have to follow the decorum and the order of the court.

You know, really imposing over these past two days, we're starting to see him say, you know, he's trying to keep this in line and trying to impose some order over it. I mean, he hasn't said what would the sanction be if this was violated, but, you know, it could be monetary. It would be a leap to put him in jail.

HONIG: Yes. Usually the judge would give you a verbal admonishment first, which, for an ordinary person, is enough to dissuade you, right? You don't want the judge kicked off at you, then you get into financial penalties and then ultimately we're not going to get there, but theoretically he could lock him up.

COOPER: How long do you think this trial go? HONIG: So the D.A. has said six weeks, but trials having done them have a way of sliding and extending. Maybe a juror gets sick, maybe a witness's testimony lasts longer. The other thing is the D.A. can only estimate the D.A.'s case. The D.A. doesn't necessarily know what the defense is going to do in their case.

Now, a defendant does not have to put on any affirmative case. But of course the big question is, will Trump take the stand? We don't know but if he does, this could go seven, eight weeks. I mean, we're going to be busy from mid-April. And Kara's right, the judge reaffirms in this opinion. He says we are on the eve of trial from mid-April through June or so.

COOPER: Has the Trump team responded to the limited gag order?

SCANNELL: So his lead attorney, Todd Blanche, declined to comment on it. You know, his campaign spokesman was saying this is an attack against the First Amendment. It's unconstitutional. You know, the judge explained in the order that this went far beyond what he saw as the constitutionally protected First Amendment speech.

You know, they haven't said, I asked directly if they were going to appeal this. They declined to comment on that as well. So, we'll wait and see if they do. But, you know, on the point of their witnesses, I mean, Trump has said, you know, his attorneys have said they want to call an expert witness.

The judge said that person's not really an expert. So if you're going to call them, their testimony is going to have to be very different than what you think it's going to be, or it's possibly Donald Trump. They don't have a big list of witnesses, at least so far. They could still change their mind.

COOPER: I mean, it would be extraordinary if you took the stand.

HONIG: Oh my gosh, it would be I think reckless, but it would be certainly very dramatic. One important point on the appeal. If Donald Trump tries to appeal this gag order, a, he will lose, b, it will not delay the start of this trial.

COOPER: All right, Elie Honig, thanks very much. Kara Scannell as well, thank you.

Coming up next, more breaking news. The first response from an attorney for Sean Diddy Combs after the federal government raids at least two of the hip hop mogul's mansions. The attorney calls it, quote, "unprecedented ambush." What else he's saying coming up.



COOPER: There's more breaking news we're following tonight. Sean "Diddy" Combs is fighting back after his mansions in Miami and Los Angeles were raided by federal agents on Monday. Senior federal law enforcement official briefed on the investigation says the homes because he is a target of a federal investigation carried out by Department of Homeland Security that handles human trafficking crimes.

The music producer's attorney, however, is criticizing the investigation. In a new statement, the attorney says, and I quote, "Yesterday, there was a gross overuse of military-level force as search warrants were executed at Mr. Combs' residences. There's no excuse for the excessive show of force and hostility exhibited by authorities or the way his children and employees were treated."

The attorney goes on to say, quote, "This unprecedented ambush, paired with an advanced coordinated media presence, leads to a premature rush to judgment of Mr. Combs and is nothing more than a witch hunt based on meritless accusations made in civil lawsuits." He adds, quote, "Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name."

With more on the investigation tonight, here's CNN's Josh Campbell.



JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A law enforcement official now confirming to CNN, Sean "Diddy" Combs is now a target of a federal investigation carried out by a team that specializes in human trafficking crimes. Two homes belonging to Combs, one in Los Angeles and one in Miami Beach were searched Monday, according to a law enforcement source briefed on the investigation.

A second law enforcement source familiar with the search warrants tells CNN agents were authorized to search his homes for documents, phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Armored vehicles descended on the property simultaneously, a precaution reportedly related to armed private security teams employed by Combs.

His homes were searched by HSI, the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, with personnel stationed across the globe, which specializes in countering human trafficking. Focused both on rescuing victims and identifying and prosecuting suspected traffickers.

This investigation coming on the heels of several civil lawsuits.

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: All of them were incredibly graphic, accusing Diddy of rape, grooming, sexual assault, drugging women. There's a lot of similarities in these lawsuits.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): One of those from a former girlfriend, Cassandra Ventura, who goes by the stage name Cassie, alleging rape and physical abuse, was settled in November. In a December statement, Combs responded to the claims in all the lawsuits, saying, "Sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday. Let me be absolutely clear, I did not do any of the awful things being alleged."

Cassie's attorney responding to Monday's searches and the investigation. "Hopefully, this is the beginning of a process that will hold Mr. Combs responsible for his depraved conduct." Another lawsuit filed in February by a former employee, producer Rodney Jones, who goes by the stage name Lil Rod, accusing Combs of, among other things, sexual assault.

The musician was not at either home at the time of Monday's searches by federal agents. His whereabouts are still unknown.


CAMPBELL (on-camera): Anderson, we're learning that a member of Combs Inner Circle was arrested yesterday. 25-year-old Brendan Paul was taken into custody on drug charges. Authorities alleged that he had cocaine in a personal bag. He was arrested at a Miami airport. That was happening while federal agents were at Combs home.

Now we're attempting to reach out to him for comment. He was in lockup overnight, but has since been bonded out. But this does raise interesting questions about who else in Combs orbit may find themselves in legal jeopardy, depending on what federal agents found yesterday.

Again, no criminal charges yet against anyone related to those searches. But the agents who were doing those searches, as we've been discussing, their focus is on human trafficking, which of course is a very serious crime. And if proven, Anderson, carries very serious penalties.

COOPER: Josh Campbell, thanks so much.

Joining us now is former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. So Andrew, the attorney's statement essentially says this all is based on information or, you know, as a result of civil lawsuits. Is it common for civil lawsuits to spark interest of Homeland Security and launch an investigation?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it's not uncommon for allegations in civil lawsuits to be considered by federal investigators and federal prosecutors and reviewed to determine whether or not a federal crime may have been committed. And that seems to be what happened here.

I thought it was interesting that the attorney statement really basically confirmed for the public that some of the investigative interest was likely generated from these lawsuits. Which is interesting because several of the lawsuits allege activity that likely would fall within the parameters of sex trafficking.

Several of these women claim to have been transported from one state to another and then drugged and assaulted. Or his former girlfriend who claims to have been forced to perform sex acts with different people in different states as they traveled around the country. So I think it was an unfortunate almost admission by the lawyer. Not that has legal significance, but it certainly puts us in a position to speculate more accurately about what's actually driving this investigation. COOPER: I mean, it's interesting that if that was a, you know, a mistake by the attorney or, you know, unwise wording by the attorney. I mean, they had a day to come up with a statement. It's interesting that that's than what they came up with.

I mean, are some -- what are some of the reasons why law enforcement officials would choose to execute to search warrants simultaneously and with that level of force? Because that's the other criticism by -- or one of the other criticisms by the attorney that it was an over, you know, the use of sort of armored vehicles and, you know, folks in Kevlar.

MCCABE: Yes. So, why the search warrants simultaneously? Well, again, at the attorney's direction, we can now look to the civil suits for clues.


And one of them for me is that several of these victims alleged that Mr. Combs and his associates videotaped these sexual encounters. So that is exactly the kind of evidence that you would want to go to someone's home to see if you could find. So I would expect that that was probably included in the search warrants both at the same time, because once you hit one house, the subject knows that you're probably going to hit the other houses looking for the same stuff.

So you're better off doing them if you can -- if you have probable cause in two locations, you're better off doing them at once. And, finally, you know, the roundhouse swing he took at the show of force really kind of -- defense attorney tactics, try to turn around a bad press day.

But, in fact, Mr. Combs is a long history of being investigated for things like assaults, harassment, threatening people with baseball bats and kettlebells and things like that. And the way it works in law enforcement is when you are planning a search warrant, have any information and it doesn't have to be a criminal conviction, just intelligence that indicates that someone who's going to be at that residence may have a violent history or have armed themselves against people in the past, you're going to automatically qualify that search warrant or classify it as armed and dangerous.

And that classification alone brings an additional level of protection, of tactical preparedness to ensure that there's no problems that everything is done in as safe a way as possible. So --

COOPER: Interesting.

MCCABE: -- I think what we saw yesterday was understandable in the context of an armed and dangerous warrant.

COOPER: All right, Andrew McCabe, thanks very much.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has announced his running mate and his long shot bid for the White House, who she is and how his supporters feel about her now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. today announced that Nicole Shanahan will be his running mate in the 2024 election. Shanahan is a 38-year-old Oakland native, a Silicon Valley attorney and entrepreneur who was formerly married to Google co- founder Sergey Brin. Although she's fairly unknown to the public, Kennedy's campaign is hoping she could be the boost they need to make it to the White House.

Gary Tuchman is in Virginia Beach and spoke with some RFK Jr. supporters. Here's his report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Next president of the United States, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These supporters of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. have been meeting every other week since September at this Virginia Beach Irish Pub and Restaurant, where a bust of his uncle, John F. Kennedy, is prominently displayed.

TUCHMAN: But I want to ask you first, what did you all think of this event?





TUCHMAN: I know you all like RFK Jr., that's why you're here. Do you think it's a stronger ticket now because --


TUCHMAN -- of his vice presidential announcement?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. Yes. I think Nicole's energizing, she has great momentum, and had really important points to share.

TUCHMAN: You feel the same way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, especially about the food situation, the chemicals in our food supply, and the chronic diseases. That fits together very well with Robert.

TUCHMAN: All right, here's an important question I want to ask all of you. Each of you can just give me a quick answer on this. If Robert F. Kennedy Jr. weren't running, would you be more likely to vote for Trump, Biden, or somebody else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't --

TUCHMAN: Who would you vote for four years ago?


TUCHMAN: What about you? Who would --


TUCHMAN: Who would you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I would lean towards Donald Trump.

TUCHMAN: Who would you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd lean towards Trump.

TUCHMAN: Who would you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a fair question, Gary. It's picking between the worst of two evils. And that's what Bobby was talking about.

TUCHMAN: Who'd you vote for four years ago?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Biden, but I actually would vote for Trump if you really pushed me into a corner. But thank God those aren't the options.

TUCHMAN: So you wouldn't vote for Trump, though, if that was a possibility?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would, only because I'm very anti-establishment. And that's what Bobby is. He's anti-establishment without all the baggage. You know, he's going to restore trust and transparency to our federal institutions because he's a man of integrity. He has honor and he's honest.

TUCHMAN: I'm going to ask you the same question. Who would you vote for if RFK Jr. weren't running? Trump, Biden, or somebody else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm still undecided, but I would have to lean towards Trump.

TUCHMAN: So you're still undecided this year, though, you're saying?


TUCHMAN: So you're just here to see what --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just -- I'm open-minded.

TUCHMAN: But Trump would be the candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I -- if you -- into that binary choice, yes, I'd have to lean.

TUCHMAN: What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would lean towards Trump.

TUCHMAN: What about you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd have to go third party. I just can't support either of those candidates of Biden or Trump.

TUCHMAN: So to review, how many of you said if RFK. Jr. weren't running, you would most likely vote for Trump. Raise your hand high so I can see. One, two, three, four, five. How many said Biden? And I think it was just one. And you said third party.


TUCHMAN: Are you concerned that your vote for RFK. Jr. could be a spoiler vote? Is anyone concerned?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not concerned about that. We need a change in America. We have to shift from the unit party.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. I would love to address that because I think that's ridiculous. There's never been a better time for a third party to win. Now is the time to do it.

TUCHMAN: Let me ask you this though. Are any of you concerned that his family members, many of them, his siblings, cousins, have come out against their own family member. Does that raise a red flag for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the Biden administration, so --

TUCHMAN: But they're still his family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. There's a lot of his family that support him, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. And he also -- yes. And he says that --

TUCHMAN: I don't know. If your siblings were against you, it might make a voter think about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good question, but he has a huge family.

TUCHMAN: That's a good question, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it is a good question. He has 120 family members. I do things in life that my family doesn't agree with.

TUCHMAN: You do anything your family doesn't -- I'm just joking around. I understand. So you all feel strongly about that that's not an issue.

Final question. Do you really think this guy could win the presidency, RFK Jr.?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We wouldn't be here if we didn't believe it. Yes.



COOPER: Gary, I know you're with a larger group now. How did they say they would vote if Kennedy Jr. wasn't in the race?

TUCHMAN: Anderson, 31 people here. I've asked all 31 people that question if RFK Jr. was out of the race, would you lean towards Trump, Biden, or neither? 22 of those 31 people say they would not support Trump or Biden. Eight of the people say Trump. Only one of the people, the woman you saw in the story, says Biden.

So this, obviously, RFK's candidacy in this particular place, on this particular night, affects Trump more. But it's something we have to keep an eye on nationwide. Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.

The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now. See you tomorrow.