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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Attorneys Renew Request For Judge Merchan To Recuse In Hush Money Trial; Judge Refused To Recuse Last Year; Trump Turns Attention To Wisconsin And Michigan; Key State, Key Question: Will Kennedy Be A Spoiler In Wisconsin; IDF: Strike On World Central Kitchen Team Was A "Mistake That Followed A Misidentification"; World Central Kitchen Aid Workers Killed By Israeli Airstrike In Gaza; Protestors In Jerusalem Confront Police Near Netanyahu Residence; OK Supreme Court Hears Tulsa Race Massacre Reparations Arguments From Attorneys Of The Two Surviving Victims; 7.4 Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Taiwan's East Coast. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 20:00   ET



ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But Judd Blevins is not here tonight, Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Absolutely fascinating incredible report. Thank you so much, Ed. And thanks to all of you for being with us for that, and for our show tonight. Let's hand it off now to AC 360 with Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the former president tries again to get his New York judge off the case and the Manhattan DA responds as the clock ticks down to his hush money trial.

Also tonight, Trump campaigning today in two states he won in 2016, lost in 2020 and could be key to victory this year.

And all we're learning about Israel's strike on a food convoy that killed seven workers from World Central Kitchen.

Good evening thanks for joining us when most criminal trials are just days away most criminal defendants and their legal teams are busy enough just prepping their cases. Donald Trump of course is not most defendants so today with his New York criminal trial just 13 days away his legal team tried again to get the trial judge to recuse himself. And in short order Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg responded. So we begin with that as well as some court filings which we're expecting tonight in the classified documents case.

CNN's Kara Scannell is following all of it.

So what is the Trump team's argument for recusal this time? Because the judge just gave a ruling on this less than 24 hours ago.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so Trump is asking the judge to recuse himself in this case because of work that his daughter does for a political consulting firm called Authentic Campaigns. It does marketing and fundraising and in the past has worked for both the Biden campaign and the Harris campaign.

So what Trump's lawyers are saying that they now have this data of past payments that they've received from these groups and are arguing that that is grounds to - for the judge to recuse himself saying that they stand to financially benefit from this trial. They write in a letter to the judge: "The trial in this case will benefit Authentic financially by providing its clients more fodder for fundraising. Authentic will make more money by assisting with those communications, and Your Honor's daughter will continue to earn money from these developments by virtue of her senior role at Authentic."

And then the DA's office did respond today as well Anderson.

COOPER: And how - what did the DA say? So the DA's office is saying that the judge has already ruled on this and that he had consulted with an advisory committee on judicial ethics that they said it wasn't grounds for the judge to recuse himself. They also say that Trump's team has strung together, as they put it, a daisy chain of innuendo but not actual facts connecting any money going to the - to - from the campaigns to his daughter. And they say there is simply nothing new here that would alter this court's prior conclusion that nothing about this proceeding will directly benefit Authentic or this court's family member, let alone this court.

This comes as Trump again today has criticized the judge on one of his social media posts and it is just the latest of Trump making these comments about the judges as he is pushing the boundaries both in and out of the courtroom.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a Trump- hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family.

He's either whacked out or dishonest.


SCANNELL (voiceover): Donald Trump is lashing out and testing the limits of judges and the rule of law as he is set to be the first former president to face a criminal trial. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and four-time criminal defendant has been slapped with gag orders stormed out of one federal courtroom and turned his appearances at others into campaign events. His targets are often the jurists on the bench.


TRUMP: And I don't know how you can have a trial that's going on right in the middle of an election. Not fair. Not fair. It's not fair at all. He knows that too. He's a Democrat judge.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCANNELL (voiceover): Monday, New York State Judge Juan Merchan

expanded a gag order and is now restricting Trump from talking about his family after finding Trump's rhetoric threatens to instill fear and upend the rule of law.

"It is no longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings," the judge wrote. "The threat is very real."

Judges overseeing Trump's cases have faced bomb threats and swatting calls at their homes. Courts have increased security.


REGGIE WALTON, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT FOR DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: It's very disconcerting to have someone making comments about a judge and it's particularly problematic when those comments are in the form of a threat especially if they're directed at one's family.


SCANNELL (voiceover): The hush money case will be the third trial Trump attends as a defendant in the past six months. Sitting across the table from the judge he has attacked.


TRUMP: We have a rogue judge who rules that properties are worth a tiny fraction.


SCANNELL (voiceover): A frequent target is New York State Judge Arthur Engoron who found Trump liable for fraud and ordered him to pay nearly half a billion dollars.


TRUMP: This rogue judge, a Trump hater, the only one that hates Trump more is his associate up there, a corrupt judge named Engoron. He ought to be looked at, seriously looked at.



SCANNELL (voiceover): Trump was back in court in January where he tested the boundaries with Judge Lewis Kaplan during the defamation trial involving advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.


TRUMP: That's a nasty man. He's a nasty judge. He's a Trump-hating guy.


SCANNELL (voiceover): After an outburst the judge threatened to remove Trump from the courtroom. "I would love it," Trump replied. Despite the exchange, Trump was not thrown out.


WALTON: If we don't have a viable court system that's able to function efficiently, then we have tyranny and I don't think that would be good for the future of our country and the future of democracy in our country.



SCANNELL (on camera): The one judge that Trump hasn't criticized is Judge Aileen Cannon who is overseeing the classified documents case in Florida. She has set a deadline for tonight for both Trump and the special counsel Jack Smith's team to put together their thoughts on jury instructions.

Now this is viewed as pretty unusual since she has not yet set a trial date in this case and she also asked them to weigh in on the Presidential Records Act that is a key part of Trump's defense and something the special counsel says has no place in this case. Anderson?

COOPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks very much.

I want to get perspective now from Jeremy Fogel who served as federal judge in the California's Northern District, also Marcus Childress, former investigative counsel to the House January 6th Select Committee and CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero.

Judge Fogel, I mean this second attempt to get Merchan tossed off, does that, I mean, is it any different than the first attempt?

JEREMY FOGEL, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: I don't see any difference. There's no new facts. The association that his daughter had with her political agency was brought to light then and there's really nothing new and there has to be a more specific connection.

COOPER: There's not really any detail in this filing.

FOGEL: No, no, there isn't. And what you would need to get a recusal is you'd have a - you have to have a more direct connection because all judges have family members and their family members can do a lot of different things. They can be political activists, they can be - they can have beliefs of all different kinds and the question is whether there's something about what they're doing that causes a reasonable person to think the judge can't be impartial in the matter that's before the judge or that there's some direct financial benefit to the to the family member and you don't have that in this declaration.

COOPER: Carrie, I mean is there any precedent for a judge's - recusing himself because something his daughter's doing?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, there - as the judge was saying, there are family members and spouses and you know we have these types of issues with judges. The standard is whether or not the judge sort of has impartiality, his impartiality might be reasonably questioned and that of course is a very subjective analysis. There's no hard facts.

It doesn't sound like in this particular case that there is an actual conflict that has been articulated. So it falls more into the appearance, is there some sort of appearance of impartiality in this particular case that he would be biased in some way and even that doesn't seem to have risen to the level.

COOPER: So Marcus, is this just going to help Trump politically to kind of foster the narrative that he's being railroaded?

MARCUS CHILDRESS, PARTNER, JENNER AND BLOCK: I mean going to Carrie's point, an ethics panel already found that there was no impartiality to the judge's daughter having a job and him overseeing this case. I think actually if you go to the judge's point, there's no new facts here and an argument actually feels speculative at best. There was no real facts alleged about the benefit that the judge's daughter will receive from overseeing this case and it feels desperate almost like the way that we saw leading up to the certification of the election where the former president was just throwing things against the wall to see what would stick and in this motion actually feels desperate as well because the court's already ruled.

COOPER: It does certainly, I mean desperate it may be, but it does certainly have an effect among his supporters of just rallying this - solidifying this.

FOGEL: Well, that's what I wanted to say. I think there's, from a legal standpoint, it's desperate because it's an argument that's been made and rejected and there's no new evidence. But I think on a political level it's not so much desperate as it is kind of what we're getting used to, which is an attempt to tear down the legitimacy of the judges who preside over these cases.

And it's interesting, as you played the clips, there's the same language over and over again, rogue judges, Democrat judges.

COOPER: I mean he is a master of just repeating the same thing over and over again.

FOGEL: Right. But without - I'm not even taking political sides here. I think there's, it's just - it's a matter of a concerted practice of trying to delegitimize the courts that are presiding over his cases.

COOPER: He has not gone after Judge Aileen Cannon ...


COOPER: ... whom he appointed to the bench in terms of her actions so far in the Mar-a-Lago documents. FOGEL: No, he hasn't. And she has her own political history, her own

associations, both personally and her husband does. I mean, if one wanted to make an issue about those things, I mean, I don't think those are disqualifying. People should know about them, but I don't think they're disqualifying. But she's ruled in his favor over and over again, and so she's not been a target.

And what I worry about, and Judge Walton I think really spoke to this, if you keep delegitimizing the judiciary over and over and over again, they're biased, they're unfair, they're rogue, they're irrational, they hate me and all that, that the more people tend to believe that, the more they tend to think the judges are just like anybody else, that they're just politicians in robes.


They're just doing whatever the - whoever they're - the people who align with them expect them to do, that there's no legal process, there's no consideration of the law. And I think it also incites violence. And I wanted to say here that I've been doing a lot of teaching in my current role as a retired judge, I do a lot of teaching of current judges, and people talk to me about what's going on out in the field.

The concerns about physical security nationally have never been as acute as they are now.

COOPER: Among court personnel.

FOGEL: Among court personnel. Court clerks, judges, bailiffs, everybody who works in the courts. And it's not just the judges have ruled against Mr. Trump, it's just there's an atmosphere of anger and thinking that you can make death threats against people. Social media has really expanded that, yes, it's a real problem.

COOPER: This is all of a piece, I mean it is all about, I mean it's like the deep state stuff, it's all about sort of tearing down institutions.

CHILDRESS: Yes, and he's trying to discredit our institutions as Judge Fogel and Judge Walton said last week. And he doesn't have to be expressed in asking for violence in his tweets for his supporters to view it that way. I mean just a month ago, a January 6th rioter said he was responding to the patriotic call of the president in attacking the Capitol on January 6th.

And I think that the former president's tweets about the court here in New York can be construed as a patriotic call. And I think that's something we had to be really be worried about and consider as we head into actual trials less than two weeks from now. And as courts maybe start holding the former president accountable for his actions.

COOPER: Carrie, it was something that federal judge Nancy Gertner said struck me. She said about Judge Cannon, what she's asked the parties to do is very, very troubling. She's giving credence to arguments that are on their face absurd. She's ignoring a raft of other motions equally absurd that are unreasonably delaying the case. Do you agree?

CORDERO: So this goes to Judge Cannon in the Florida case and her request for these jury instructions. I think what was odd about her order on the jury instructions is that by asking the parties to weigh in on the Presidential Records Act, that really goes to a matter of law and is the type of issue that should have been resolved through motions practice, not at the stage of jury instruction.

So in other words, if she is of the view and her analysis of the law is going down the path of finding that the Presidential Records Act actually applies in this case, which I would argue it doesn't, but that it does and that that permitted the former president to retain any classified documents that he thought belong to him as presidential records, then actually the case would end there and that would be a finding of a matter of law that she could make and then that would go up on appeal, certainly that the Justice Department would appeal it.

But what is so odd in this particular circumstance is that she fashioned her request for views from the parties on issues of law as potential jury instructions.

FOGEL: Yes. I've never seen an order like this. I was a trial judge for 37 years. I have never seen an order like this and I'm not trying to read Judge Cannon's mind. I don't know Judge Cannon. I don't know what her thinking is. But I do think that what you would normally do, as Carrie just said, is you would decide the legal issues first. What is the law that applies to the case? Are we under the Presidential Records Act? Are we under the Espionage Act? What are - what's the governing law?

And then you would make all of your case management decisions, including what's in the jury instructions, based on those determinations. And so the way she's doing it is exactly the reverse of how it would normally be done. And I think it could potentially put the government in a very tough position. I mean, let's say that she decides that the instructions that former President Trump is asking for are the right ones. You know, that actually this is all about the Presidential Records Act and he could have declassified anything he wanted to without following any formalities.

If she makes that decision and then the case goes to trial and then he's acquitted, as he certainly would be with that instruction, the government has no recourse. There's double jeopardy. So they have to find a way to get this legal issue decided first. And the way a judge would normally do it is you would decide, okay, here's the law. These are the instructions I'm going to give. And if a party is agreed by that, whether it'd be the defense or the government, then they could try to get an intervention from the higher court.

COOPER: Yeah. Judge Fogel, thank you very much. Marcus Childress as well, Carrie Cordero as well.

Coming up next, the presidential campaign and the chance to be president again runs through Wisconsin. The latest from the former president's visit there as he gears up for a new race against President Biden and the role Robert Kennedy Jr. could play in it all. And later, what investigators are finding and what Israel's military

and government are saying now in the wake of the deadly IDF strike on a World Central Kitchen food convoy, which killed seven workers. President Biden has just weighed in his reaction ahead.



COOPER: It's primary night in five states tonight, including Wisconsin. But just as it's been for several weeks now, much of the attention there and elsewhere is on November, which is why the former president is in Wisconsin tonight and was in Michigan earlier today.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is in Green Bay for us where a Trump rally wrapped up a short time ago.

We heard a lot of dire warnings from Trump on the campaign trail.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, most of the messaging today, he was in Michigan first and then here in Wisconsin, was all about immigration and doubling down on that anti-immigration rhetoric. He referred to the border crisis as Biden's border bloodbath. He talked about immigrants as animals. At certain points, he talked about violent crimes, linking that again to immigrants.

And he painted a really dark picture using violent rhetoric of what a second Biden term would look like. Take a listen.


TRUMP: The Treasury will be raped, plundered and robbed to bear to pay for welfare, free health care, free housing, food stamps, Medicaid and countless other public benefits.


HOLMES: And one of the things we really heard from Donald Trump again doubling down on was this idea that immigrants were linked to violent crime. And of course, as we've reported, the data shows that immigrants and migrants are far less likely to commit crimes than citizens.

However, there have been these high profile cases we have seen across the country that Donald Trump has latched onto, and they believe this is going to help him in November.

COOPER: How else is he trying to court voters in Wisconsin?

HOLMES: Well, what's really important in Wisconsin is winning back some of the voters that he wooed in 2016, but lost in 2020 and there are two categories here.


There are people who voted for Biden, working class voters who broke for him in 2016, but then in 2020 went with Biden.

But there's also another section of voters in which they voted for him in 2016. But then after four years of him in office were completely exhausted, and they're trying to bring them back into the fold. A lot of that is trying to energize that base. And they're doing that by painting a portrait of the current day society under Joe Biden and saying, it's just so terrible, you have to come out and vote.

I mean, I will tell you, Anderson, it seemed to be somewhat successful here tonight. It is a blizzard. There was sleet and rain all day. And there were hundreds, if not thousands of people lined up to see Donald Trump.

Now, he hasn't been to Wisconsin since 2022. But there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room for him here tonight.

COOPER: Kristen Holmes, thanks very much.

Now the ongoing drama on the Democratic side of the ticket where concern in Wisconsin and elsewhere is rising over the role third party candidates could play in November, especially with Robert Kennedy Jr. in the race. More on that tonight from CNN's Jeff Zeleny.



MIKE CRUTE, CO-HOST, THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATES RADIO SHOW: Third party candidacies, to my opinion, are an unacceptable answer in the 2024 election.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORREPONDENT (voice over): Mike Crute is at the helm of his liberal talk radio show in Wisconsin, where the question of the day is one that many Democrats are stewing over.


CRUTE: Any appetite for Robert Kennedy Jr. this fall?


ZELENY (voice over): Wisconsin is one of the tightest battlegrounds of all, made clear again tonight as Donald Trump returned for a rally in Green Bay.


ALL: U.S.A. U.S.A.


ZELENY (voice over): But in the rematch with President Biden comes a new wild card in Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUTE: He's playing spoiler and I'm not clear why. I am fearful of a second Trump term. There's only one acceptable vote, and that's for Joe Biden. And you don't got to love him, but you do have to vote for him come this November.


ZELENY (voice over): Long before it's clear where Kennedy qualifies for the ballot as an independent candidate, he's at the center of considerable hand wringing over whose support he may tap into.


ANTHONY GRAY, DANE COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: Let's see how the third parties develop. But Bobby Jr. is the one I'd be most concerned with.


ZELENY (voice over): Anthony Gray (ph) is pleased to see Democrats taking Kennedy seriously and challenging his views, particularly given the razor thin margins of presidential races.


GRAY: In addition to having such a fabulous Democratic name has actually done some good work, particularly in the environmental space. The problem is that he now traffics in conspiracy theories, particularly around vaccines.


ZELENY (voice over): In 2020, Biden won Wisconsin by fewer than 21,000 votes, with no Green Party candidate on the ballot. Four years earlier, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by nearly 23,000 votes, with Jill Stein winning more than 30,000.


KELDA ROYS, (D) WISCONSIN STATE SENATOR: I'm hopeful that we have all learned our lesson, and we just really can't take the risk of a second Trump administration.


ZELENY (voice over): When Kennedy jumped into the race a year ago as a Democratic challenger to Biden, the White House was dismissive. Becoming an independent has kept those ambitions alive, allowing him to attack freely.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., (I) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can make the argument that President Biden is a much worse threat to democracy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY (voice over): So does Kennedy take from both sides, do you believe?




ZELENY (voice over): Longtime Wisconsin Libertarian, Phil Anderson, is helping Kennedy's campaign and sees a unique opening this year.


ANDERSON: There's two very unpopular candidates running for president. They see Trump and Biden and their stomach turns a little bit and they're like, Kennedy's got to be better, even if they don't know that much about him.


ZELENY (voice over): Brian Schimming, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, said he spends little time thinking about Kennedy.


BRIAN SCHIMMING, CHAIRMAN, WISCONSIN REPUBLICAN PARTY: There are some issues where he has some appeal, probably to our base. But it - when it gets down to the 10 days before the election, the seven days, the one day, the hours before the election, is he more likely to hurt Democrats than us? I think no question.


ZELENY (voice over): Back on the radio, Crute intends to keep voicing his concerns about all third party threats that he believes could upend the 2024 rematch.


CRUTE: I would say Jill Stein, the Green Party worries me as much as Kennedy does. But I am concerned because anything that changes the head to head electoral math between Trump and Biden changes the math and I don't like that.



ZELENY (on camera): Now, Kennedy or any third party candidate can get on the ballot with only 2,000 signatures. That's a tremendously low bar compared to some other battleground states. Now, there's no question that Kennedy's supporters can be found across the political spectrum. But Anderson, Democrats are paying particular attention to him, trying to define him. They have teams of lawyers and others going through all of this paperwork here.

But one advisor told me by the end of this, they want to make sure that people know that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a Kennedy in name only, Anderson?

COOPER: Jeff Zeleny in Madison, Wisconsin. Jeff, thank you. Perspective now from two CNN political commentators, former Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger and former Biden White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield.


Kate, how concerned should Democrats be about Kenny, particularly Wisconsin? I mean, Biden only won by 21,000 votes there.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, absolutely. They need to take him seriously. I think they are. I mean, this is a state that, you know, Donald Trump won by 20,000 votes in 2016 with a third party candidate on the ballot defeated Hillary Clinton. Biden then, as we heard, won the state in 2020 by 20,000 votes.

So the narrowest of margins, which means that any third party candidate has the potential to be a spoiler. So I think the Biden campaign and Democrats need to take this seriously. I think that they are. I think there's a little bit of a challenge for them in - they don't want to further elevate him.

I mean, really, his currency, Kennedy's currency right now is really attention, right? And so they don't want to give him more attention, but they also don't want to let him go unanswered. So I think one of the things the Biden operation has to do is to really help educate people on the notion that a vote for Robert F. Kennedy is not a vote to put Robert F. Kennedy in the White House. There is really not a universe where he is going to get enough electoral votes to be president of the United States.

A vote for Robert F. Kennedy is effectively going to be a vote for Donald Trump. And so I think they need to be very clear in terms of voter education on that. And then they also need their allies as they're doing, I think. They need their allies out pushing back on some of the most egregious things he said.

Last night he was talking about Joe Biden is a worse threat to democracy than Donald Trump. That's a ludicrous statement. And they need to make very clear that that's the kind of person he is. That's what he stands for. And they need to make sure the stakes are understood.

COOPER: It's interesting, Congressman, you - last night on Erin Burnett show, he - essentially he was saying back when Jill Stein was running, he was speaking out against her campaign saying, look, it's essentially a vote for Trump. He doesn't make the same argument, obviously now about his own campaign.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, of course not. I mean, he's - I don't know if he's doing this to elect Donald Trump. If this is just an attention play. He's - as Kate said - he's not going to win. He's not going to be president. But he could easily give this to Donald Trump.

And here's the thing you've got to keep in mind, look who's running the Super PAC for Robert F. Kennedy Jr., it's Republicans. They're going to spend all of that Super PAC money not going after Donald Trump. They're going to be attacking Joe Biden with it.

So from Donald Trump's perspective, that's a good thing. That's why you have Republicans running his Super PAC because they will be consistently trying to knock down Joe Biden. And then you think about just the fact that Donald Trump supporters, I think, are much less likely to say, goodness, there's this guy running for president who isn't Donald Trump, even though I like Donald Trump, I'm going to vote for him.

We all know the base of Trump support is pretty rabid. But Joe Biden has this moment where there are some Democrats that either aren't happy with them, whether it's Gaza or anything else. And I think it's just more likely that they may peel off as a protest vote against - and vote for Kennedy. And it could easily make Donald Trump, who is by far the biggest threat to democracy present in the United States.

COOPER: By the way, I misspoke. It wasn't Jill Stein, he was talking about is about Ralph Nader back running against - when Al Gore was running and Erin played that tape last night. Are the gloves do you think going to - I mean, you said that the Biden White House shouldn't elevate Kennedy, but do you think they will start directly taking him on?

BEDINGFIELD: I'd be surprised. I wouldn't expect that there would be a moment in this race where Joe Biden is going to directly go at Robert F. Kennedy Jr. What I do think is that Democratic - the Democratic operation, I think Democratic groups may need to start running ads. I think that allies of Joe Biden need to make sure that Robert Kennedy is defined.

I don't know that there's going to be a moment where President Biden himself is going to take Robert Kennedy on. But I don't think that there should be a - I don't think it should be hands off. I think everyone should be very clear about the potential threat that he poses. And I think this is part of why you have allied groups. This is why you have groups that spend in this way outside of the spending from just purely from the presidential campaign.

So there are ways that Democrats can work to define him, including with paid advertising that doesn't require Joe Biden himself to take on Robert Kennedy in a way that would elevate him beyond where he should be elevated in the race.

COOPER: Kate Bedingfield, thanks very much. Congressman Kinzinger as well. Thank you.

Coming up, President Biden's reaction just in to Israel's strike in Gaza that killed 7 aide workers as they delivered food to civilians. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: We're learning more tonight about the Israeli strike in Gaza that killed several aid workers from World Central Kitchen, including four nationals. Just moments ago, President Biden released a statement saying, "Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians. Incidents like yesterday's simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians."

World Central Kitchen also released this photo today, naming the seven brave and selfless workers who were killed in the strike. This comes as the Israeli military chief of staff tonight said the strike was, quote, "a mistake that followed a misidentification," end quote.

And that our preliminary debrief determined they did not intend to kill the aid workers. Aid agencies warned that half of Gaza's population is on the brink of starvation and famine due to the conflict. And World Central Kitchen is one of the few aid organizations delivering food to Gaza and soon getting in by the sea.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond investigated the tragedy and we want to warn you some of what you're about to see is graphic and disturbing.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is no mistaking the target of this Israeli strike. The World Central Kitchen's logo still visible after a missile tore through the roof of this vehicle. Pieces of the aid organization's emblem scattered throughout the charred hull of a second vehicle. And then there are the bodies of the aid workers themselves.

Patches proudly worn on chests over bulletproof vests that offer no more protection in Gaza than the emblem of a humanitarian aid organization. They are among seven aid workers killed in Israeli strikes on their convoy late Monday night. Six of them were foreigners, including a dual American-Canadian citizen, as well as British, Australian, and Polish nationals, triggering international uproar and prompting a rare apology from Israel's top general.


LT. GEN. HERZI HALEVI, ISRAELI CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF: I want to be very clear, the strike was not carried out with the intention of harming WCK aid workers. It was a mistake that followed a misidentification at night during a war in a very complex conditions. It shouldn't have happened.

DIAMOND (voice-over): World Central Kitchen says the Israeli military knew about the convoy and a weapons expert consulted by CNN said images of the damage indicate a precise drone strike carried out with total visibility of the target. World Central Kitchen said its aid workers got into three vehicles after unloading aid at this warehouse in central Gaza and began traveling down the coastal Al-Rasheed Street. CNN geolocated the convoy's deadly journey using images filmed at the scene. Three and a half miles south, a first vehicle is struck. Two other strikes rain down in quick succession. One vehicle is hit a half mile further. The third comes to a stop another mile down the road, found only the next day.

HASSAN AL SHURBAJI, HEARD THE AIRSTRIKE (through translator): Last night, between 11 and 11. 30 p.m., a missile hit a car. When we approached, we saw the car on fire. We tried to extinguish the fire and upon opening the car, we discovered boxes of canned meat. It was an international aid organization that assists people.

Any international or European organization that comes to aid Gaza will be targeted. They want to send a message of don't come and let the people die.

DIAMOND (voice-over): The Israeli military has struck aid convoys in the past, including this U.N. truck which was shelled in early February.

World Central Kitchen founded in 2010 by celebrity Chef Jose Andres, has been one of the most prominent aid organizations in Gaza, even working with the Israeli military last month to build a pier off the Gaza coastline, delivering the first aid shipments to Gaza by sea.

ZOMI FRANKCOM, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Hey, this is Zomi and Chef Olivier. We're at the Deir Al-Balah kitchen.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Australian Zomi Frankcom spent years coordinating aid operations for World Central Kitchen. Risking and ultimately sacrificing her life to help those in need. She died alongside her Polish colleague, Damian Sobel.

DAMIAN SOBEL, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN: Hello everyone, Damian Chekine (ph) from Cairo.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Weeks earlier, he was excitedly readying a convoy to build soup kitchens in Gaza.

SOBEL: We already loaded tables, shells, water system.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Today, their bodies were among those headed for the Rafah border crossing. But the body of one of the seven will not leave Gaza. Saif Issam Abu Taha, a driver and translator, was buried in central Gaza, not far from where he carried out his final mission.


COOPER: And Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Jerusalem. I mean, this new explanation from the IDF chief of staff, it doesn't really explain anything.

DIAMOND (on-camera): Well, they say they basically acknowledge that they targeted these vehicles, but they say that they didn't intend to kill or harm in any way the aid workers who were inside these vehicles that they were misidentified, but they aren't explaining exactly what they thought that they were targeting in the first place.

But just think about the magnitude of this statement from the chief of staff of the Israeli military, words like grave mistakes shouldn't have happened. We are sorry. These are not words that we have heard from the Israeli military's top general since the beginning of this war. And it speaks, of course, to the gravity of what the Israeli military actually did here.

But it also speaks to this moment in time where Israel is facing increasing international criticism, increasing pressure from the United States, recognizing that a grave incident like this can be a turning point amid all of that pressure. And so in light of this, what they're doing is they're pledging to create this joint command center to address aid distribution issues in the future.

But human or humanitarian organizations on the ground have been complaining about a lack of coordination with the Israeli military on these issues for months now. So it is notable that they're establishing this now. But major questions still remain, Anderson, about this incident questions that we will continue to ask. Anderson?

COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, thanks very much.

More perspective now from CNN Political and Foreign Policy Analyst Barak Ravid. What are your sources telling you about this?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Anderson, what I heard from several Israeli officials over the last few hours is that it is clear to everybody that what happened with this strike was a serious violation of the IDF protocols and rules of engagement, OK?


To call it a misidentification or a mistake, you know, that's the understatement of the century, OK? And this is not an isolated incident. The reason that we talk about it here is because it's WCK, it's a very well-known and famous NGO, but those incidents happen every few days in Gaza.

COOPER: We've seen this throughout this entire --

RAVID: Exactly. And --

COOPER: You earlier had talked about it being a disconnect between what, you know, IDF commanders maybe at headquarters are thinking and what the troops on the ground are actually doing.

RAVID: Yes, you saw in the video of the IDF chief of staff, Herzi Halevi. I'm sure that there are a lot of IDF commanders and soldiers in Gaza that watch this video and say, what is he talking about? OK? Because there is a disconnect between how the IDF senior brass is looking at this and and how it develops the rules of engagement and the orders and what happens when those percolate down to the forces in Gaza, especially to the field commanders, the lieutenant colonels, the colonels, the brigade commanders, the battalion commanders.

They're not in the same place as the senior command. That's the --

COOPER: But you said they're not in the same place, both literally, they're in Gaza, they're not in headquarters, and they're also the ones fighting, and they have a different attitude about, let's just get this done.

RAVID: I think they're -- they -- each commander on the ground has a different interpretation of the orders and this is why you see what you see. And this is not --

COOPER: And that's a recipe for disaster.

RAVID: This is a recipe for a disaster, not only in Gaza, but for the destruction of a professional military, OK. This is not how a professional military conducts its operations. And for years, the IDF was considered, not only here in the U.S., but in the West overall, as a very professional military. And what we've seen in this strike, but in many other strikes that we didn't talk about, is that this thing, during this war, this professionalism, has gone away.

COOPER: And Netanyahu's response is often, well, this stuff happens. I mean, that -- he said that about this strike. He said that about the shooting of a Israeli guy who was trying to stop a terror attack. He said that multiple times.

RAVID: Yes, and we -- this is why this incident shouldn't come as a surprise. You know, you remember that just a few weeks ago, three Israeli hostages that managed to escape their captors were killed by Israeli soldiers who fired at them, even though, they were holding a white flag, OK?

And, you know, I spoke to an Israeli reserve officer who was in the same unit as those soldiers who shot those hostages. And I remember him telling me that the orders are basically, from the commanders on the ground, is just, shoot every man in fighting age. Those are the orders, but those are -- but that's not the rules of engagement that is coming from the IDF leadership.

COOPER: But on the ground, that's what they're being told.

RAVID: Exactly. And this is the same thing. At the end of the day, the battalion commander, or the brigade commander, I don't know who authorized this strike, he interprets differently the orders that are coming from the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

COOPER: Barak Ravid, appreciate it. Thank you.

RAVID: Thank you.

COOPER: Troubling.

Just ahead, it's been more than 100 years since the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. The only two surviving victims took their case to Oklahoma's highest court today to fight for justice. Details on that next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


COOPER: Today, attorneys for the two lone survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre began pleading their case to argue for reparations to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The survivors are now both 109 years old and they've been entangled in a yearslong legal battle against the city of Tulsa and other officials. The events leading up to the massacre started in May 1921.

A 19-year-old black shoeshiner ran from an elevator in a downtown building after the elevator's teen operator screamed. Rumors of rape began to circulate. White Tulsans formed a lynch mob and black Tulsans gathered at the jail to defend the shoeshiner.

According to the Tulsa sheriff at the time, quote, "All hell broke loose." On June 1st, 1921, within a span of less than 24 hours, the white mob destroyed about 35 blocks of the city's Greenwood district, known as Black Wall Street. Thousands of black residents were arrested, robbed, beaten, killed.

Now, more than 100 years later, the only two survivors are fighting for justice.

CNN's Omar Jimenez has their story.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you remember about the time?

VIOLA FORD FLETCHER, TULSA RACE MASSACRE SURVIVOR: People getting killed and houses, property, schools, churches, and stores getting destroyed with fire and then someone in the neighborhood saying to leave the neighborhood, if not, we're going to kill all of the black people. It just stays with me. You know, it's just the fear that I have lived in Tulsa sense, but it's -- I don't sleep all night living there.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): 109 years old mother Fletcher, as she's known, is one of only two people alive who remember firsthand what the 1921 Tulsa race massacre was like. Sitting with us alongside her grandson and niece.

JIMENEZ: How do you think your life would have been different if this had not happened?

FLETCHER: I would have gotten an education to where I could get a better job, like, especially being a nurse.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): It's part of why Tuesday, lawyers for these survivors argued to the Oklahoma Supreme Court that Tulsa has to look at what the massacre survivors lost and make things right.

DAMARIO SOLOMON-SIMMONS, ATTORNEY FOR TULSA MASSACRE SURVIVORS: And we're hoping this court will give us the opportunity to prove our case.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Back in 2022 was when a judge initially allowed part of their case to move forward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A change is coming.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Fletcher's younger brother, known as Uncle Red, also was a survivor. But in May 2023, on Viola Fletcher's 109th birthday, she was back in court fighting a new motion to dismiss the case.


FLETCHER: I didn't feel very nice about it, but I'm willing to do that again, you know?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And she's being tested on that because a few months later the case was dismissed. So the families appealed to the Oklahoma Supreme Court where the defendants argued in part --

JOHN TUCKER, ATTORNEY, TULSA REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: These individual plaintiffs lack standing to bring a claim for public nuisance.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): This hearing a new chance for the survivors.


JIMENEZ (voice-over): But Uncle Red died before he got that chance. He passed away in October 2023 at 102 years old. His daughter is carrying on his fight, a fight that signifies about a century lost of families trying to do what families are supposed to do -- give the next generation a solid head start.

IKE HOWARD, OLDEST GRANDSON OF VIOLA FORD FLETCHER: Instead of having a leg up for my father and my father having a leg up for me, all we had was setbacks. I had to do 20 years in the military to break the curse.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): And Fletcher's grandson says it can be traced to his grandmother in 1921. Now, throughout the interview, his grandmother's hearing wasn't always perfect.

HOWARD: He said, even after everything happened --

JIMENEZ (voice-over): He often had to repeat my questions, but as we wrapped up --

JIMENEZ: All right, you look great, you sound great.

FLETCHER: Well, I'm good.

JIMENEZ: Oh, you heard that? How was that?

JIMENEZ (voice-over): She still has hope. The other 109-year-old survivor is Lessie Benningfield Randle. Her family told CNN, in part, "We plead for this case to advance. Let us honor them while they're still with us."

FLETCHER: I think we should get justice, and I think the court should feel the same way.

JUSTICE YVONNE KAUGER, OKLAHOMA SUPREME COURT: When I went to high school, I knew about the Trail of Tears, but Greenwood was never mentioned. And so, I think regardless of what happens, that you're all to be commended for making sure that that will never happen again, that it will be in the history books.


COOPER: Omar joins us now. So what happens now? I mean, do -- or they have -- do they have more options if this doesn't work?

JIMENEZ (on-camera): Well, at this point, it is in the hands of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Now, I was just talking to some of the attorneys from the team a few minutes ago, and they said, based on the public nuisance claim, which is what they are using to push through this particular fight, if this doesn't work out, that's really the end of the road for this particular claim.

And just to put everything in perspective here, it's not like if the Supreme Court justices rule in favor of the survivors, they get what they were here for and then they go home happy. This is just for the opportunity to go to trial. So if they rule in their favor, this just goes back down to a lower district and then you begin the process toward a trial, which you and I both know takes time.

Both of these survivors are 109 years old and it's time that they may not have a lot of left, Anderson.

COOPER: Omar Jimenez, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, breaking news from Taiwan, which has just been rocked by a major earthquake. Destructive storms also hitting parts of the country. And tonight, millions more people face the threat of severe weather in the U.S. We've got an update from Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center on all of it ahead.



COOPER: Some breaking news to tell you about a major earthquake and now serious aftershocks in Taiwan. Also tsunami warnings across the region. It was centered, we understand, off the island's east coast and measured out as a magnitude 7.4 according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

CNN's Chad Myers joins us now with the latest. So Chad, what are you hearing?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Anderson, but we do know that this was a slightly shallow earthquake somewhere in that 37 to 40 kilometer range. So there was a lot of surface shaking. Behind me here, obviously, I was preparing here for this severe weather across parts of North America here. We do have the potential for tornadoes all the way through the overnight hours.

But the shaking that we saw in Taiwan was on the east side of the island, the least populated side of the island here for Taiwan. Although for the most part, you know, you think about because of hurricanes and cyclones of Taiwan, that is the area -- that's the area that we see most of the worst weather would come in. So most of the population centers are on the other side, would be on the west side.

This was still a very significant quake for quite a few people. I mean, 445,000 people still live in that county. And so, yes, we do see quite a few of them. We see somewhere in the neighborhood of about 15 earthquakes per year that are in the ballpark of seven to eight, so a significant shaking.

Many of them are underwater, and so we don't feel them on land, but we are going to obviously see some damage. We do know that some of the buildings have collapsed there in the city, Hualien City, and this is the area that we will be watching all night long to see more pictures, to see more stories come in from that area as the night goes on. Anderson?

COOPER: All right, Chad. And in terms of the weather here, what more can you tell us about what to expect?

MYERS: You know, all the way through the evening, we are going to see the potential for severe weather. Some of these storms will be rotating. They will put down some tornadoes. We've had five tornadoes yesterday, five or so so far today.

And I do believe now that we're getting dark, this is the problem we're going to have, that people may not be able to get the warnings because they're sleeping. If you're going to bed now in the Ohio Valley, make sure you have warnings turned on on your phone, either a NOAA weather radio turned on or some other way to get a warning if a tornado is heading to you.

The likelihood is going down now that it's getting dark, but it's not over. We still have the potential for severe weather overnight tonight. Anderson?

COOPER: And there's going to be, if possible, rain and snow. I know there's already been rain up on the northeast. There may be snow as well, right?

MYERS: That's right. I mean, there is a blizzard warning right now for the U.P. of Michigan, that upper part of Michigan with snow and wind. Wind could be 50 to 60 miles per hour. This is what we get this time of year. Spring saying, hey, I'm here. Winter saying, hey, not so fast. And that's this clash of air masses that brings all of this together.

COOPER: All right, Chad Myers, thanks very much. A lot to cover.

The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)