Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Says Manhattan Prosecutors Are Trying To Expand The Gag Order Following Posts About Judge And Daughter; Trump Appeals Ruling Letting Fani Willis Stay On Georgia Case; Brother Of Late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick Reacts To Trump's Statement About "Law And Order"; Byron Donalds, Potential VP Pick, Once Attacked Trump And Praised Outsourcing, Privatizing Entitlement; Biggest Crane On Eastern Seaboard Arrives In Baltimore; Divers On Standby To Go Back To The Wreckage, Recover Bodies; WSJ Journalist Evan Gershkovich Marks One Year In Russian Prison; Former Running Mate Al Gore Remembers Joe Lieberman At Funeral. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 20:00   ET


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Now, many wonder, could there be a second season?


RIPLEY (on camera): Based on my experience dealing with the North Koreans, they're always planning. They're always calculating. And so in preparing for a potential second Trump administration, North Korea is likely to pursue a dual strategy. On one hand, engage directly with Trump, take advantage of that personal rapport between Trump and Kim. On the other hand, continue to grow its nuclear arsenal and deepen those diplomatic and economic ties with Russia and China as a hedge against the unpredictability of U.S. policy, particularly under the former President Trump, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Brianna Keilar, Will Ripley, thank you for that report. And thank you so much for joining us. AC360 starts now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, breaking news involving former President Trump's criminal trials, including a new fight about limiting his repeated attacks on a judge's daughter, who has no connection to the trial at all.

Also tonight, pushback on the former president's law and order comments at the wake of a fallen police officer. We're joined by the brother of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died after being assaulted during the January 6th attacks.

And later, exactly one year after Russia wrongfully detained a Wall Street Journal reporter, a talk with the sister of Evan Gershkovich.

Good evening, I'm Jim Sciutto, in for Anderson.

Two breaking developments involving former President Trump's criminal trials this evening. First is whether the former president can continue his harassment of the daughter of the judge overseeing his hush money trial, a woman with no actual connection to the case whom Trump has falsely accused of attacking him.

Tonight, the Manhattan DA's office has asked the judge to confirm that she is covered by a gag order issued on Tuesday. Trump's team indicates they may file a challenge to what they claim would be an expansion of that order.

Kara Scannell joins us now with the latest.

Kara, can you first remind people exactly what Trump has been saying about and how he's been attacking the judge's daughter?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jim, as you said, a gag order was imposed on Tuesday. And immediately the next day, Donald Trump began making posts about the judge and his daughter. In one of those posts, Trump was saying that the judge was compromised. He also called out the judge's daughter by her name. And he was saying that she was working for Democratic operatives and is a Trump-hating person.

Now, she has worked - she does work for an organization that does do work with Democratic campaigns. But he also made comments about her in one of his statements that she was - that she had posted a photo of him behind bars on a Twitter account.

Now, a spokesman for the court said that that was not her Twitter account. She had deleted it more than a year ago. So it's unclear who was making these posts. But those were some of the statements that Trump has made about the judge and his daughter, Jim.

SCIUTTO: I wonder how Trump's lawyers are defending his attacks on a sitting judge's daughter, are they?

SCANNELL: Well, they're saying that they're not covered by the gag order. Remember, this gag order said that Trump couldn't make comments about potential witnesses, about jurors, about the prosecutors in the case or court staff or members of the prosecutor's families or the court staff's families.

But specifically, the judge did not cover himself by this gag order or the district attorney Alvin Bragg's. Now, prosecutors are asking the judge to step in here. They say in a letter to the judge, "The people believe that the March 26 order is properly read to protect family members of the Court. But to avoid any doubt - this court should now clarify or confirm that the Order protects family members of the Court, the District Attorney, and other individuals mentioned in the Order."

Now, Trump's team is pushing back, saying that it's clear that this gag order does not include them. And they write to the judge to confirm or clarify the meaning of the gag order in the way people suggest would be to expand it. And so they're saying to the judge, if you are going to consider this, the people's, the district attorney's filing, they want an opportunity to respond in legal briefs to challenge this, because their point is that Donald Trump has not violated this gag order. Jim?

SCIUTTO: So is there any sense, knowing Judge Merchan, of what the judge is likely to do here and over what time span?

SCANNELL: Well, the judge hasn't made any comments since he issued this gag order and since Trump has made those posts targeting him and his daughter on social media. Now, he's not expected to rule today or this weekend. He may weigh in early next week and decide whether or not to let the prosecutors, in a sense, have another chance to ask him to define this gag order.

But we're just about two weeks away from trial. So we'll see if the judge decides to weigh in. And I think we'll also wait to see if Donald Trump continues these statements over the weekend while they're waiting for the judge to say what he's going to do. Jim?


SCIUTTO: And we should say, they're out there. The attacks are out there now already.

Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

I'm joined now by former U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin and former Trump campaign advisor, David Urban. Thanks so much for taking the time this evening to join us.

Judge, first, this is a pattern with the former president and a whole host of trials that he's been involved in, as well as other public attacks on people that get on his wrong side. And we know that oftentimes that public rhetoric is followed by genuine threats to the safety of those people that have been targeted.

I want to ask you, as a member of the legal profession as a judge, the significance of a public attack like this on a judge presiding over a case and that judge's family.

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, FORMER U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: Yes. Well, that's exactly the danger here. If you're going to name the person and the person can be found, that person is at risk and there have been violent attacks on judges and their families over the years. One of the judges from the Southern District was murdered. A judge in New Jersey, her son was murdered. A judge in Chicago lost family members.

So the threats are real and we know that Trump's followers occasionally will turn to threats and send threatening letters to Judge Engoron and his family, and his law clerk. So these threats could be real and that's serious. So how does it affect a judge?

Well, a judge knows that they're in a high profile case and they can get protection if they need it and their family can get protection if they need it. But a judge does their job and I'm sure Judge Merchan will continue to do what he's doing.

SCIUTTO: So David, you know this is a pattern. It's part of the public record. You know it extends beyond members of the court. We see it against lawmakers, health officials and often their children as well. And often those people, they have to hire private security because of those threats. Do you defend this? How do you defend this and why does this continue?

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so Jim, listen, nobody wants to see anybody put at risk, right, obviously. Nobody wants to see judges, prosecutors, political enemies, no one wants to be put at risk and I think it's kind of a big leap from political rhetoric to threats. And in this case, what the former president was doing is calling out ...

SCIUTTO: How though - we saw political rhetoric on January 6th and then an attack on the Capitol.

URBAN: Jim ...

SCIUTTO: I know people who've been the targeted threats who now have Secret Service details.

URBAN: Right. So let's just stick to this fact case, right, the fact pattern in front of us. What the former president was doing was calling out a judge who he thinks is incredibly partisan. Look, this case that's being brought was passed over for years by the Southern District of New York as being full of holes. They didn't want to bring the case, it was so bad. Alvin Bragg and make it political.

SCIUTTO: What does his daughter, David Urban, have to do with that? What does his daughter have to do with that?

URBAN: I will tell you, Jim, let me get there, okay? Let me finish. So it's a very political case brought by a political prosecutor. And the point that the former president is making is that the judge is a political animal himself giving money to Joe Biden's political ...

SCIUTTO: David, you know that Trump ...

URBAN: ... and his daughter, Jim, hold on.

SCIUTTO: ... I know you well enough to know ...

URBAN: Hold on, let me finish.

SCIUTTO: ... you know that Trump makes this assertions ...

URBAN: Jim, let me finish about his daughter.

SCIUTTO: ... often based on nothing. He claims political partisanship because ...

URBAN: Right.

SCIUTTO: ... maybe someone made a donation years ago. And you know that these attacks are not just related to claims about the partisanship of a judge. They extend to lawmakers, to journalists, to healthcare officials like Dr. Fauci. So I'm asking you just as someone who ...

URBAN: Yes, I am. Look, Jim, I'm not defending him ...

SCIUTTO: ... I know has respect for law and order, whether you could defend it.

URBAN: I do, I'm not defending it, yes. So I'm not - what I'm saying is the former president is pointing out that Judge Merchan's daughter is a political activist. She is a partisan political activist. She works for the Biden-Harris campaign and other - she works for Adam Smith, of Kamala Harris.

SCIUTTO: She has no role in the trial.

URBAN: I mean, she is not some - Jim, I understand. He's trying to point out that the - he's - I'm sure that he's trying to say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. That she's a progressive liberal Democrat, I'm guessing the judge is a progressive liberal Democrat. That's the point he's trying to make here, Jim.

I don't think he's trying to threaten anybody. I don't think he's trying to put anybody's life in jeopardy. He's trying to put out that he's not going to get a fair trial in the city of New York.

SCIUTTO: But David, you know the effects of that rhetoric and what it often leads people to do. That's the point. Judge, I wonder if you have a reaction.

SCHEINDLIN: (Inaudible) when he attacked the FBI, there were people who went into an FBI office with guns. So you just don't know what the result is of putting a family member in the crosshairs of some of his followers. It's not that he's going to out and hurt anybody, but you never know what the followers might do and they've done it. So there's a real risk here to her. She's not the judge. She's a family member. Yes, you're absolutely right. She works for a company. She owns a company, Authentic Campaigns, it's called.


She has worked for the people you said. So she's a progressive liberal. I understand that. But she's not the judge. She's the judge's daughter once removed. I mean, it's just not right to do that and put the family at risk.

URBAN: Yes, Your Honor. Your Honor, all I'm trying - the point I'm just simply trying to make is the president is trying to make a point that the case that was brought is unfair and he's not going to get a fair trial in front of a partisan judge. That is what he's trying - it's what I suppose he's trying to make.

SCHEINDLIN: And you can say that and leave Loren Merchan out of it. He can say that all he wants.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the difference is make the case ...

SCHEINDLIN: (Inaudible) ...

SCIUTTO: ... right, make the case about the case, right?

SCHEINDLIN: Right. SCIUTTO: Not about the individuals and make personal attacks about individuals and their family members. As you know, David, you'll often hear from Republicans about if they hear attacks or criticism that involve the family members of Republican lawmakers, you will hear outrage, understandable outrage. And I imagine that's something a family man like yourself that you think goes beyond the pale.

URBAN: Yes, Jim. I don't - Jim, I don't advocate anybody attacking anybody's kids, whether they're adult kids, they're young kids, it's kind of off limits. I think what the president can point out though is that he doesn't think he's going to get a fair shake here. And he was trying to illustrate that by Loren Merchan's political activism.


SCHEINDLIN: Yes. But that's the problem. If he wants to attack the judge, the judge said, go ahead, I'm not part of the gag war. You can attack me, I'm strong, I can take it. Okay.


SCHEINDLIN: A judge expects to be in the public eye, but nobody said go after the judge's daughter. It's wrong, let's be honest, it's wrong.

SCIUTTO: And we should note tonight that the president posted, the former president on his social media, a picture of the back of a pickup truck that had a image of Joe Biden gagged and bound. I mean, it's - the point is about the broader contribution to the conversation, but it's good to have you both to discuss this.

URBAN: Yes. Jim, I agree. Yes, I was going to say, I agree with you. We got to elevate the discourse in America.

SCHEINDLIN: There you go.

SCIUTTO: We'll do our best.

SCHEINDLIN: Okay, thank you for having me.

SCIUTTO: Judge, David Urban, thanks so much to both of you.

Now to the former president's latest attempt to delay his election interference trial in the state of Georgia, two weeks to the day, after a judge refused to disqualify the DA, Fani Willis, despite severe criticism surrounding her relationship with the case's then- special prosecutor, Trump and several other defendants have filed their appeal now of that decision.

They demand an appeals court not only disqualify Willis, but her entire office.

Nick Valencia joins us now from Atlanta with the details.

Nick, what exactly are former President Trump and his co-defendants claiming in this appeal? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first we knew this was coming because Judge Scott McAfee granted a certificate for immediate review, but now it's official. And in this filing, former President Trump and eight of his remaining 14 co-defendants, including his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, they're making the case to a Georgia appellate court to, again, remove Fani Willis from this case. And here's what they're saying in part of the filing, which is just downright scathing.

"DA Willis has covered herself and her office in scandal and disrepute. The trial court's decision not to disqualify DA Willis under these circumstances is a structural error, a violation of the Defendant's due process rights, and seriously denigrates the public's confidence in the integrity of the criminal justice system."

Look, we did reach out to the DA's office. They declined to comment. We could only anticipate a very pointed response from DA Willis. A source with knowledge of this process says the Georgia appellate court will have 45 days to make its decision, Jim?

SCIUTTO: What had the DA previously said about the possibility of appeal? And I wonder, as you're answering, the rest of the trial procedures continue as this is being considered, correct?

VALENCIA: That's right. This is an interlocutory appeal, which means the case can proceed forward while the Georgia appeals court weighs whether or not they're going to take this on. But you bring up a great question, and we caught up with Fani Willis at a recent Easter weekend event. We asked her about this appeals process, and this disqualification effort that still hangs over her head, and the case, this is what she had to say.


FANI WILLIS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA: The first step is really to wait to see if the court of appeals will even hear the issue at all. And so that's the stance that we're in. But the great news is that doesn't slow anything down because while that's going on, all those motions I discussed, they'll still be being heard, they'll still be being resolved, we'll still be working.


VALENCIA: Willis says despite these delay tactics from Trump and his remaining co-defendants that the train is coming and they are working desperately to try to bring the focus back on the criminal charges against the former president and his remaining co-defendants. Jim?

SCIUTTO: And we'll of course look for the answer from the appeals court on this question.

Nick Valencia, thanks so much.

As President Biden last night was raising money alongside former presidents Obama and Clinton, Donald Trump, he attended the wake of an officer, Jonathan Diller, on Long Island who's killed in the line of duty.


Now the family of Brian Sicknick, the officer who died after the attack on the Capitol on January 6th, is slamming Trump for using the officer's death as a campaign platform. I'm going to speak with them.

And the largest crane on the Eastern seaboard has now arrived at the site of the bridge collapse in Baltimore. The latest on the plan to clear thousands of tons of debris from what is a critical shipping corridor.



SCIUTTO: Last night, President Biden and former presidents Obama and Clinton held a star-studded fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York. During the event, they talked about former President Trump as a threat to democracy.


Meanwhile, Trump attended the wake of slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller outside the city on New York's Long Island. Trump's campaign said he was moved by the invitation to attend, but critics say it sounded like he took the opportunity to score political points.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The police are the greatest people we have. There's nothing and there's nobody like them and this should never happen. We have to stop it. We have to get back to law and order. We have to do a lot of things differently because this is not working. This is happening too often.


Well, the family of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who was attacked on January 6th and died the very next day, did not take silence in Trump voicing support for law enforcement, quite the opposite. Officer Sicknick's brother, Kenneth, joins me now.

Ken, thanks so much for taking the time tonight.


SCIUTTO: I wonder what your response was to hear the former president talk about law and order after attending the wake of the Officer Diller.

SICKNICK: He's - he just defies logic. It's obvious, I know, and let me get this out there that myself, my family, we really do take Officer Diller's death to heart. We've met a lot of officers that have - or officers' families that have died in the line of duty, and it's not something to play with. However, that's exactly what Trump is doing.

I realize he was invited to, invited by the family, but he's - it's - he's doing it for publicity, like he does everything, like he shows up in court when he doesn't have to, those civil trials when he was showing up, and you don't have to attend a civil trial, but he showed up just to make a scene.

SCIUTTO: You were, we should note to our viewers, you were a lifelong Republican until the GOP blocked an independent commission to investigate the events of January 6th. I wonder, how do you think the former president is able to square his attempts to define himself as a law and order candidate with the events of that day and his involvement in those events?

SICKNICK: Well, he won't admit his involvement in those events. Thus, he doesn't have to put himself in that same category as holding up law and order. And every time somebody tries to hold him accountable, he skirts it, he just throws lots of money at it and skirts whatever court cases that he's going to be involved in.

I think the first - very first criminal case is coming up, but the other ones, he's been delaying and delaying and delaying. Anybody who's been following him on his coattails goes down in flames. Rudy Giuliani, he might not even have a place to live soon. It's just - it's - he - law and order for everybody except for him, because we all know that he's even appealing with the Supreme Court right now that president's above the law.

SCIUTTO: One notable thing is that he's now celebrating the events of January 6th. I mean, he's talking about pardoning those who were convicted of crimes related to the January 6th insurrection. He's calling them hostages. At his rallies, he plays a recording of the January 6th defendants singing the Star-Spangled Banner. I wonder how you react when you see the president celebrating that day, not even running away from it, but now celebrating it.

SICKNICK: He's disgusting, but I know I'm not going to change anybody's mind. By the way, the video that came out along with those people singing the National Anthem, the person who picks up the phone in the prison is the very same person who assaulted my brother.

SCIUTTO: Really? That's amazing. The same person. Tell us about the impact of seeing that. I know that day must still weigh on you and your family. You got a picture of your brother behind you there. So how do you feel when you see that, when you see the person who attacked him celebrated in such a way?

SICKNICK: Helpless. I mean, he's Donald Trump. So unless I have millions of dollars to go after him to do something, it's - and I'm not going to change anybody's mind. The people that support Donald Trump, for whatever reason, aren't going to change their mind, whether we give them facts.

The - one of the comedians on The Daily Show, Jordan Klepper, will routinely go to Trump rallies. And at one point he was doing interviews and he'd tell people all these bad things that President Biden was doing. And then the reporter would say, oh, I'm sorry, but I'm mistaken. I meant Donald Trump.


And the people that they were speaking completely flipped their stories and defended Trump until the - with whatever things they can think of that, oh, it wasn't his fault, or he didn't mean to do it that way. So it's - there's no changing minds of the people that are already lined up behind him.

SCIUTTO: Well, let me ask you this then, if there's no changing minds, if you had a moment to interact with them, what would you say to them in a word, in a sentence?

SICKNICK: Well, I tried - I try to talk reason. I mean, that's - it's being emotional doesn't help. Use facts, but apparently that doesn't help either, because I have conversations with people that I'm friends with that are still have doubts about what happened on January 6th and they refuse to watch anything. Oh, I'm not going to watch a January 6th testimony because that's all rigged. Or I'm not going to do this because it's all rigged.

So they bury their heads in the sand and believe what they're told on Alex Jones and his other advisors' podcast and they won't hear anything else. They won't sit back and go, oh, you know what? That makes sense. Or really that did happen?

So it's frustrating knowing that with the division, with the tribalism going on, it's really hard to change hearts and minds.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, it's got to be heartbreaking for you and your family too. Kenneth Sicknick, thank you for coming on. And we do wish you and your family the very best.

SICKNICK: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Now to a CNN exclusive, Republican Congressman Byron Donalds has become such an ardent supporter of the former president that Trump says he is now on his VP shortlist. But CNN has learned Donalds wasn't always a supporter of the former president, quite the opposite. Back in 2011, Donalds celebrated Trump's decision not to run against then- president Barack Obama. "Trump won't run. Thank God," Donalds said.

Our senior editor for the KFILE investigative team, Andrew Kaczynski joins us now with more.

So Andrew, tell us what you found.

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Well, that's right. Donalds is a Trump loyalist and one of the former president's most trusted advisors. But during his time as a Tea Party candidate and activist more than a decade ago, Donalds was very critical of the former president. He strongly condemned those birther claims from Trump in 2011 about Barack Obama, comparing it in Facebook posts to Democrats that believe the Bush administration had orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. And in posts at the time, he called him a "self-promoter yelling about 25 percent tariffs on China," and a "huge distraction who cares more about himself than the country, in my opinion."

And we should note, based on the reporting, he didn't just criticize Trump, he criticized a lot of Trump's core policy ideas.

KACZYNSKI: Yes, that's also right. Donalds was staunchly opposed to tariffs and trade restrictions during those Tea Party years and that failed run for Congress. He actually said when he was co-hosting a radio show that we shouldn't be manufacturing things in the United States. He actually said in Michigan, he said we should be making them in China because they'll be cheaper for consumers. And that's obviously something that is so incredibly different from what Trump is saying now.

But it really wasn't just trade, Donalds supported raising the retirement age, the privatization of both Social Security and Medicare. And that's when Democrats were disparaging Republicans for their Medicare plans. They were saying it would turn into a "voucher system."

But unlike most Republicans, Donald's actually embraced that negative term from Democrats. Take a listen here.


REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): When it comes to Medicare reform, I think what Paul Ryan started to say is correct. We do have to go to a payment subsidized system where we give that voucher if they want to call it, and I'm not afraid to call it a voucher because that's exactly what it's going to be, a voucher to that person who is on Medicare. Here is the amount of dollars we have allocated towards you. Now it is your responsibility to allocate those dollars effectively.


KACZYNSKI: So Jim, we did reach out to Donalds office to ask how do you square what he was saying then with what he's saying today? And they told CNN in a statement: "President Trump is considering Byron as his running mate because of the congressman's steadfast support for the 45th President and his historic policy agenda. The fact that these decades old posts are now resurfacing in the middle of running mate deliberations is weak but typical CNN."

So it's going to be interesting for all of us to see how those comments and what he said then plays into Trump's VP considerations.

SCIUTTO: Yes, and of course, no denial in that statement either.

Andrew Kaczynski, great reporting. Thanks so much.


And coming up this hour. We are going live to Baltimore where the largest crane on the Eastern Seaboard has arrived on the scene today. How it could help the search for victims from the bridge collapse, but also the effort to clean up and then reopen the port. That's next.


SCIUTTO: It has been nearly four days since the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday morning. While for many it already feels like an eternity since that tragedy, there is a long, long road ahead to reopen the port, rebuild the bridge, and begin to heal. The arrival of the Eastern seaboard's largest crane today is lifting some spirits.

Here's Brian Todd with more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Army Corps of Engineers is now ready to start clearing hundreds of thousands of tons of twisted steel and concrete that's blocking ships from entering or exiting the port of Baltimore.

GEN. SCOTT SPELLMON, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: There is a massive steel truss bridge going across that channel. And at the bottom, 50 feet down at the bottom, there's also concrete, possibly some containers, other debris that we have to get off the floor.

TODD (voice-over): But it's a delicate operation.

OSCAR BARTON JR., DEAN, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING: It's going to be a monumental task. This is going to be piecemeal, section by section, piece by piece, until they can excavate the entire area.


TODD (voice-over): Dr. Oscar Barton is the Dean of Morgan State University's Engineering School and was a professor at the Naval Academy for 21 years.

TODD: What would you be most worried about if you were supervising the crane and this entire operation?

BARTON: Going too fast. Meeting the expectations of the public to move too quickly. We've got to be very methodical, very slow and very precise and getting it done.

TODD (voice-over): The Chesapeake 1000 arrived this morning, but --

SPELLMON: That section of bridge that straight over the front of the vessel, that portion of bridge alone weighs 4,000 tons. My most capable crane there is 1,000 tons. So we're at least going to cut that into four members.

TODD (voice-over): A major complicating factor for crews trying to break up the wreckage in manageable chunks light.

SPELLMON: Imagine trying to do that 50 feet down in the dark, with a diving suit on. And we've got to do the same level of analysis on the bottom of that channel as we have to do for those members that are out of the water.

TODD (voice-over): And the cleanup work itself poses risks to the crane operators, divers and crew.

BARTON: It is dangerous. There could be tipping of the crane. So the balancing of the crane is most important.

TODD (voice-over): Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing its review. The NTSB shared video with CNN showing NTSB and Coast Guard investigators moving around on the bow of the Dali, right at the point of impact. The closest view we've gotten so far of the sheer devastation of this disaster.

So when will the channel be open to shipping traffic?

SPELLMON: I don't think we're talking days. I don't think we're talking months. Once we get started, I think we're talking weeks.


SCIUTTO: Brian, you've been talking to one of the top commanders of the Army Corps of Engineers, who's actually taking part in the operation. I wonder what he told you about how dangerous this will all be.

TODD (on-camera): Well, Jim, General Scott Spellmon of the Army Corps of Engineers told us that the metal, the constitution of the metal at the wreckage site is like a rubber band. When you cut it, it doesn't just fall straight down. He says when they -- they could have large chunks of metal that snap when they cut it and whip around like a rubber band, and that could really be lethal.

That's one of the many dangers that these salvagers are facing, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Wow. That's -- that sounds scary. No question.

Brian Todd, thanks so much.

Joining us now is former FBI Special Agent Bobby Chacon. While at the bureau, he served as team leader of the New York Dive Team. Bobby, good to have you on tonight.


SCIUTTO: So now that we have the cranes on site, along with the tugboats, the barges, all these pieces, the salvage vessels, where does the salvage crew begin in all this?

CHACON: I think they begin by taking very detailed sonar imaging of the underwater environment that they're going to be working in. So the sonar will give them a very good idea of the shape, the size and the position of a lot of that debris down there.

And it'll give them a sense of how much they have to cut and where they should start. What's the first thing they should start lifting off the bottom. So it's detailed sonar imaging that they have to start reviewing before they ever get in the water.

SCIUTTO: You heard Brian Todd describing that kind of rubber band effect as you begin to cut some of this metal to get through. I wonder how divers and the teams will manage a challenge like that among what I'm sure are many challenges.

CHACON: Yes, so that twisted metal as he described is under tension because it's a girder that's twisted and now something's laying on it, so it's under tension. The minute you cut that, that tension is released and you have movement and that could be extremely dangerous.

So what they're going to be looking at in those images, those sonar images and then once the first divers get down there and start giving a bottom report back up topside is to see where the things might be under tension and they'll try to deal with that as best they can.

You know, you have to relieve that tension somehow so there's incremental cutting of it that you can start to release some of that tension without it going all off at once.

SCIUTTO: Got it. Now, you know, you're describing that coordination there. I wonder how they communicate, coordinate to help the divers in their piece of the job to make it safe and to get through this.

CHACON: Yes. Coordination is everything. And when I led my team to Minneapolis on the I-35 bridge collapse in 2007, we worked hand in hand with the Army Corps of Engineers and Navy salvage divers. We did a lot of sonar work. It's the engineers, the Army Corps, the private contractors, you know, who are putting divers in the water.

It's -- and as one of your earlier guests said, it's taking your time and moving slow. There's no reason to rush this right now because that's where the danger lies. If you rush it, mistakes can happen, things can be missed, and people could get hurt.

SCIUTTO: The governor of Maryland was asked how long it would take to complete the cleanup, he wouldn't commit to a specific timeline. I wonder, can you give us a sense? I mean, are we talking months, years? What's your best guess?

CHACON: I think it'll depend on how much resources they throw at it.


You saw the one big crane that they have in place now. Can they get more cranes, more crews? And can they start, like, divvying up the work? And can they do more than one thing at a time? And that depends on how much resources they have available.

So you can be looking at anywhere from weeks to months to six to eight months. On the short side, probably two to three months. Maybe shorter if they can get additional crews in there. You know, that's just to open the shipping lane to --


CHACON: -- recover all that debris is going to be a lot longer.

SCIUTTO: Sure. And then rebuilding, of course, a lot longer than that. I wonder because you still have missing bodies in here, how they balance, you know, the divers will be involved in that, how they balance that search, of course, extremely important to the families with the larger work of cleaning it all up?

CHACON: Yes, well, that's -- you have two separate operations going on, so they probably have a very narrow area where they think the bodies are likely to be, and the Navy divers hopefully will be operating or have been operating in that area.

If the Navy divers withdraw, then another commercial team should go into that area and just --


CHACON: -- and just still treat it as a recovery while other teams are working on other parts of the debris removal. So they have a very narrow area where they think the bodies might be hopefully. They should have that.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Let's hope those families get that relief at some point.

Bobby Chacon, thanks so much for joining us tonight.

CHACON: Thanks, Jim. Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Detained in Russia for a full year now. Is the U.S. any closer to freeing journalist Evan Gershkovich? You're going to hear from his sister when 360 continues.



SCIUTTO: The front page of the Wall Street Journal left blank today to represent the missing reporting from Evan Gershkovich with today marking one year since his arrest in Russia on unproven espionage charges. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is calling on Russian officials to immediately release Gershkovich.

In a statement released this morning, Blinken says, quote, "To date, Russia has provided no evidence of wrongdoing for a simple reason -- Evan did nothing wrong." In a moment, you'll hear from Evan's sister.

First, here's Matthew Chance, reporting from Russia.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was our latest brief glimpse of Evan Gershkovich appearing in a Moscow court this week.

In the past, we've been kicked out of the courtroom.

CHANCE: You can see Evan Gershkovich is in there. Hi, Matthew, from CNN. Are you holding up alright?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Foreign Language).

CHANCE: OK, what do you want us to do?

CHANCE (voice-over): This time, journalists weren't even allowed in. There's the detention of the Wall Street Journal reporter on espionage charges was extended for another three months. Outside the U.S. Ambassador marked a bleak anniversary.

LYNNE TRACY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: This verdict to further prolong Evan's detention feels particularly painful as this week marks the one year anniversary since Evan was arrested and wrongfully detained in Yekaterinburg for simply doing his job as a journalist.

The accusations against Evan are categorically untrue. They are not a different interpretation of circumstances. They are fiction.

CHANCE (voice-over): But incarceration behind the walls of Lefortovo prison in Moscow is a grim fact. U.S. officials say they're negotiating with Moscow for his release. Even the Kremlin confirmed this week contacts on a prisoner swap are continuing.

To the Russian president, the 32-year-old American newspaper reporter, is a tradable asset.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): We're willing to solve (ph) it. But there are certain terms being discussed via special services channels. I believe an agreement can be reached.

CHANCE (voice-over): And this is who Putin has hinted he wants in return. Vadim Krasikov, a Russian operative, jailed in Germany for killing a Chechen dissident in a public park. So far, the Germans have been reluctant to set him free.

But the Kremlin knows painful agreements have been reached in the past. In 2022, U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner, convicted of possessing cannabis in Russia, was swapped for Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms trafficker.

PAUL WHELAN, DETAINEE: I want to tell the world that I'm a victim of political kidnap and ransom.

CHANCE (voice-over): Russia's also holding other Americans, among them former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, convicted of espionage and jailed since 2018. U.S. officials have designated Whelan and Gershkovich as unlawfully detained.

TRACY: If the Kremlin has any desire to salvage Russia's integrity and international esteem, they should do what is right and release Evan and Paul immediately.


SCIUTTO: Matthew Chance joins us now from St. Petersburg in Russia. I just wonder, Matthew, if you could put into context how difficult the trade is that the Russians are looking for. If the U.S. is trying to convince Germany to release someone who committed murder on German soil in order to get an American journalist back, I mean, is that a trade that Germany is likely to agree to?

CHANCE (on-camera): Well, it's a trade that so far the Germans have not agreed to. I mean, they, for them, it's politically understandably very difficult to release a convicted murderer, you know, for an American journalist.


CHANCE (on-camera): They also think, the Germans, that it would send the wrong message to the Kremlin to show the Russians that, you know, this kind of trade is something that might be something they'd be able to do in the future as well.

And so, you know, look, I mean, it hinges on the Germans, you know, exceeding to the U.S. demands on talk so I expect underway in that regard. But at the moment, you know, as we've seen, the deal has not been done. And the Germans are holding Vadim Krasikov still behind bars in their country.


SCIUTTO: Yes. And listen, and Russia and other countries continue to take more hostages, it seems.

Matthew Chance in Russia, thanks so much.

Earlier this week, Evan Gershkovich sister, Danielle, spoke with Anderson. Here's their conversation.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Danielle, the last time that we spoke, you mentioned that you were able to exchange letters with Evan about once a week. Is that still the case? I mean, can you communicate with him?

DANIELLE GERSHKOVICH, SISTER OF EVAN GERSHKOVICH: Yes. It is about once a week still, and they're an absolute lifeline for me. It's the one way I get to communicate with my brother.

COOPER: What are his letters like? I know you've said more than once that he has a great sense of humor. I mean, does he actually joke in these letters, or what have you learned from him?

GERSHKOVICH: I'm smiling because I'm just thinking about his sense of humor. And I would say recently I'm going to be moving and he wanted to know, is there a good size guest bedroom for him? So we're really can't wait for him to come home and spend time together and I need to get the guest bedroom ready for him.

COOPER: Do you allow yourself to hope in that way?

GERSHKOVICH: Yes. It's really, really important to stay optimistic. We have to stay strong for Evan. And it's hard not to have a fantasy about the day that he does come home. COOPER: Yes. I want to read a part of an op ed that you wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer. You wrote, "For me, this will always be about my brother, but I've grown to understand that Evan's arrest means much more than that. His arrest was a shock to the global community of journalists and a blow to a free press. Without reporters like him on the ground in Russia, we know even less about a country whose foreign policy directly affects America and all Americans."

Evan's work was incredibly important to him, and can you just talk a little bit about that? What he would say about it and the impact that you think his work had on readers?

GERSHKOVICH: Evan was genuinely interested in Russia and in all of it, in the culture, in the language, in the people, in the history. So he was always coming from a place of -- especially people. He just enjoyed learning more about it and I think he really wanted to bring the truth as well. It was his absolute passion to be able to travel all across Russia and be able to speak to people about so many topics.

COOPER: I know there's obviously, you know, limitations on what you could talk about, but can you say anything about whether or not your family's received any updates from the State Department or the Biden administration on just the status of any negotiations to secure Evan's release or if there are any?

GERSHKOVICH: Unfortunately, the case is opaque and we just have to continue to trust that the White House is taking this very seriously and there's a team of experts working on this. So we just have to continue to put our faith in President Biden's promise to our family. We just have to keep moving forward.

COOPER: The Wall Street Journal held a 24-hour read-a-thon, they're calling it, which is streamed on YouTube where friends and family and fellow journalists read from, from from Evan's work. Is there anything else that you would think might help to keep Evan's name and his detention in the public eye? Because that's got to be one of the things that's so -- I mean, obviously you don't want people to forget, given all that's going on in the world that he is detained, and keeping that front and center, I mean, that's -- it's hard.

GERSHKOVICH: Absolutely. We're so, so grateful for the Wall Street Journal's efforts, for the U.S. government's efforts, and this incredible tribal community of journalists who are doing everything they can to help Evan. Evan's reporting is available to read online for free at I believe that's

And just getting to know more about Evan and what a fantastic reporter he is and just what an amazing genuine person he is. There's also a hashtag to use on social media. It's hashtag IStandWithEvan.

COOPER: Oh, Danielle, I hope you're able to get that guest room ready and I hope it's needed soon. So thank you so much for being with us.

GERSHKOVICH: Thank you so much for having me.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: Yes, we all hope as well.

Well, coming up next, Al Gore remembers his former running mate, the late Senator Joe Lieberman, at his funeral today.



SCIUTTO: Today in Connecticut, family and friends gathered for a funeral to remember the late Senator Joe Lieberman, who died on Wednesday, according to his family, due to complications from a fall. He served 24 years in the Senate, left the Democratic Party, and turned independent after 2006 primary loss.

Among those who eulogize Lieberman was his former running mate in the 2000 election, former Vice President Al Gore, and he spoke about political reconciliation. Something sorely missed in today's climate.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We laughed together, fought like hell together for what we wanted our country to be. Prayed together. Thought for a season we had won together, but, well, you know that part of the story. The stakes are high. The pressures are great.

Joe and I experienced those. But he always knew beyond doubt the true value of things. I saw him ready to reclaim friendships that had been seared by disagreements, ready to look for ways to bridge divisions, ready to seek reconciliation, ready to stand for his principles, always.


SCIUTTO: Senator Joe Lieberman was 82 years old.

And the news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.