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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

At Least A Dozen Aftershocks After 4.8 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles Northeast; Trump Files New Attempt To Force Hush Money Judge To Recuse Himself Days Ahead Of Trial; Former First Lady Melania Trump Largely Absent From Husband's Campaign Trail As He Tries To Return To The White House; Source: U.S. Preparing For "Significant" Iran Attack On U.S. Or Israeli Assets In The Region As Soon As Next Week; Nova Festival Survivors Brought To America To Begin To Heal; Areas Across The U.S. Prepare For Monday's Total Solar Eclipse. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 05, 2024 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "OUTFRONT": So tune in starting at 1 PM Eastern on Monday to watch it live here on CNN, also streaming on Max. And have a good weekend.

Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it. AC360 begins now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, aftershocks still ongoing after a rare earthquake disrupts the Northeast this morning. We'll show you the moment it happened and the aftershocks that continue.

Also, with the former president's hush money trial days away, he's trying yet again to get the judge in the case to recuse himself. We'll have the latest on that.

Plus, the total solar eclipse is Monday. We'll help you get ready tonight.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

A short time ago, we experienced the 12th and latest aftershock from a magnitude 4.8 earthquake in New Jersey that rattled nerves and windows across the Northeast this morning. It was the strongest quake to hit the state since America officially secured its independence from Great Britain. No deaths or significant levels of damage, but delays at several of the nation's busiest airports, as well as rail travel, disrupted lives in one of the most densely populated areas of the country.

In a moment, we'll look at why smaller earthquakes on the East Coast may potentially have a greater impact than similar ones in the West. But first, Polo Sandoval joins us from Times Square.

So there was this 4.0 magnitude aftershock right before 6 o'clock. I didn't even feel that one. Did you feel it in Times Square?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At least I personally didn't feel it here in Times Square, Anderson. It is very much business as usual tonight. You can hear the sirens. Meanwhile, though, it's important to also remind viewers that officials here in New York have confirmed a total of 11 aftershocks, as you mentioned, the strongest and the most noticeable one only a couple of hours ago, over eight hours since the main quake.


SANDOVAL (voice over): A typical morning in Middlesex, New Jersey ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (expletive). Holy (Expletive).


SANDOVAL (voice over): ... suddenly interrupted by a rare earthquake that rocked much of the Eastern U.S. on Friday. Second angle captured the rattling of the walls, violent enough to knock items to the ground.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, my house is shaking.


SANDOVAL (voice over): It's one of many videos shared online capturing stunned and scared residents during and after a 4.8 magnitude quake.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the (expletive) was that?


SANDOVAL (voice over): The epicenter was some 50 miles west of New York City in northern New Jersey, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which estimates at least 23 million people felt some degree of shaking from D.C. to New England.

Ned Tanner (ph) was working in a Manhattan high rise.


NED TANNER, FELT EARTHQUAKE IN NEW YORK: My chair started kind of bouncing a little bit. And as soon as I looked around, I immediately realized I wasn't alone. Everybody else in the building definitely felt something. So it was a feeling I haven't experienced before. It was quite interesting. And yes, it was a little unnerving.


SANDOVAL (voice over): The New Jersey quake is the largest to strike that state in over 240 years, according to the USGS. In New York City, a Security Council meeting on the war in the Middle East forced to pause as the U.N. Manhattan headquarters shook.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was that an earthquake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You're making the ground shake.


SANDOVAL (voice over): Critical infrastructure like bridges and the transit system fared well. Many built to withstand seismic events stronger than Friday's, assured city officials.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D) NEW YORK:We do not have any reports of major impacts to our infrastructure or injuries. But, of course, we're still assessing the situation.



COOPER: So, Polo, has a full damage assessment across the region been completed?

SANDOVAL: Well, the mayor, Eric Adams, Anderson, said that they are going to continue to keep engineers on the shifts, especially into the weekend as those - as that assessment continues. So far, their buildings departments have received no reports of any buildings, any of the close to 1 million buildings here in the city that were structurally compromised.

So they continue to remind the public to certainly be on alert, especially with the potential for aftershocks. We mentioned 11 here a little while ago. That last a significant one, that was the 12th one to be felt. And there is still a real possibility that there could be more.

So they're also reminding people of that advice. It's important to keep in mind should one of those - should they be rattled by one of these aftershocks to potentially drop to the floor, cover their heads, their necks, also to seek shelter under a heavy piece of furniture advice that officials certainly hope that won't be needed anymore ...


SANDOVAL: ... at least for the rest of tonight.

COOPER: Yes. Polo Sandoval, thanks very much.

I'm joined now by Tom Foreman at the Magic Wall.

So, Tom, I mean, for a quake of relatively limited power, I mean, it certainly had a very big effect. Why is that?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This isn't a really huge one. If you look at the epicenter over here in New Jersey, every one of these dots represents who felt it. So like Polo mentioned there, all the way up to New England, down to D.C., the reason they felt it so far is the nature of the area. This wasn't a very deep quake, so it would resonate out more.

In the east, you have very old rock strata out here. It's very densely packed.


It can carry that vibration, that signal very, very far. And frankly, Anderson, there's a really big population here. There are a lot of people to sense it. Do it in a more rural area. It may not be noticed as much.

COOPER: Should people be worried about aftershocks or even a stronger quake in coming days?

FOREMAN: There have been ...

COOPER: I mean, they're hardly noticeable.

FOREMAN: Well, they are hardly noticeable and there have been a fair number of them since this happened this morning. None of them have made it up to that 4.8. This one came the closest down here.

Generally, because this isn't that strong, not so much of a worry. However, one of the worries is that the east, unlike other parts of the country, has not so much been retrofitted with buildings that are earthquake resistant. Many of the buildings are very old. So if you got hit with a big bump, it could be an issue. But generally, geologists say no real worry here.

COOPER: How does this one today compare to some of the ones felt out west in the past?

FOREMAN: Yes, if you look at - and I know you've covered these as I have - as you move west, boy, does this map change. This is the area up here. Not a lot of seismic activity. Of course, Alaska and Hawaii. But then you move the Midwest out of here down to Illinois, Missouri a lot. But then California out here, that's where you get the big swath of tremendous numbers of earthquakes, and the damage can be extraordinary.

Loma Prieta in San Francisco in 1989, 4.8 today, look at this. 6.9. Remember, this goes up exponentially, not just by a little bit. That's a big, big difference. Northridge quake, 1994, I remember covering this one, 6.7. And the really the granddaddy of them all, the thing that is out

west, the thing nobody can believe, Anchorage back in 1964, look at that. 9.2. The biggest earthquake in the history of this country, one of the biggest in the world.

And my wife was a little girl living in this town when that happened. She still remembers every moment of it. That went for four and a half minutes. COOPER: Wow, that's incredible.

FOREMAN: Think about the little shake - four and a half minutes of shaking, unbelievable.

COOPER: Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

Perspective now from Stephen Holler, Associate Professor of Physics at Fordham University, and also Susan Hough, a seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

Stephen, thanks for being with us. I love that you didn't actually even feel it. You were driving down the road.


COOPER: You missed the giant event.

HOLLER: I missed it. I lived five years in California, didn't - never experienced an earthquake out there.

COOPER: So why - explain why this happened today here on the U.S. coast. I mean, does it - yes, why would it happen?

HOLLER: I think it was the Yankees' home opener. No, it's a random event that can happen. I mean, we've - there are faults out here and there are - there's pressure that's built up and it (inaudible) ...

COOPER: And these are essentially tectonic plates shifting.

HOLLER: Yes. They're moving against each other. They're slipping, and they're giving up some of the energy that they have stored in it.

COOPER: And there's not - I mean, there's not really any way to predict. Is there? I mean, I know some people's animals, like, seem to freak out a little bit.

HOLLER: Yes, the animals have - seem to know ahead of time, but there's no real way to predict earthquakes. I don't think anybody would bet money on predicting earthquakes.

COOPER: And Susan, what do you make of the 4.0 magnitude aftershock that happened right before 6 PM? I mean, is that just typical? And how many more aftershocks could there be?

SUSAN HOUGH, SEISMOLOGIST, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: Oh, there can be quite a few. It's in keeping with expectations. We make forecasts based on average statistics of aftershocks that we've seen in the past. And there's actually a forecast on the USGS webpage for a sequence that could continue for months or even years at a low rate.

And if you look right now, there is a chance of aftershocks and even another earthquake magnitude 5 or greater. The chances statistically of a 5 or greater are actually 1 in about 15 over the next year, so that's a low chance. But 1 in 15 is not zero. So once you've had the earthquake activity, definitely it's increasing the chances of more events.

COOPER: And that increased chances, I mean, how long does that last for?

HOUGH: It can last for quite a while, in months or years for an event as large as 4.8.

COOPER: Interesting.

HOUGH: So it's something that the USGS will continue to monitor and the aftershock forecast on the webpage will continue to be updated.

COOPER: And Stephen, would this have had anything to do - I mean, Taiwan just had an earthquake, anyway - I mean, does one follow the other or - and does this have anything to do with - I know I got people ask me if this had anything to do with the solar eclipse?

HOLLER: No. No to both of those. The Taiwan quake, yes, it was much larger, right? It was three orders of magnitude larger (inaudible) ...

COOPER: Right, right, I mean, can you talk about that - because it's - that's 7.8 magnitude, this one was a 4.8. The numbers are confusing. What does that mean in terms of how much stronger was the Taiwan - Taiwan?

HOLLER: About a thousand times stronger.

COOPER: A thousand times stronger.



HOLLER: So if you can imagine, if you were feeling that shake in your house today, imagine that amplified by a thousand times.


COOPER: That's so interesting.

HOLLER: It would be - it's a much more intense event.

COOPER: And Susan, how are the earthquakes on the West Coast different than those experienced here in the East? How are they?

HOUGH: Well, as your listeners heard, they're felt more strongly. The waves, once they're released, travel much more efficiently in the East because of the nature of the crust. And so you see these large felt extents. It is - it's a different geologic setting. In the West, you have two plates that are moving relative to each other, the Pacific plate versus the North American plate.

On the East, the North American continent is pretty much glued to the oceanic crust. That's next to it. There's no plate boundary that's moving. So you don't have a California-style earthquake zone along the East. But you do have these broad stresses. You're getting earthquakes that are spread out along the Atlantic seaboard.

We've had large earthquakes in the past in Charleston, South Carolina, close to magnitude 7 in 1886. Another event over magnitude 7 offshore of Grand Banks in 1929. So these infrequent but large earthquakes are possible along a broad zone that we really don't understand very well because of the - we don't have as much data as for California.

COOPER: It's so interesting. Susan Hough, thank you so much. Stephen Holler as well, appreciate it.

Still to come tonight, the former president once again tries to get the judge in his criminal hush money trial to recuse himself. We'll examine his latest argument to delay the trial that comes days before it's scheduled to begin.

Also tonight, almost as rare as an East Coast earthquake, Melania Trump set to make an appearance. Details ahead.



COOPER: Just 10 days before his New York hush money trial is set to begin, we're now learning more about a filing this week where the former president once again demands the New York judge overseeing his trial recuse himself. The apparent delay tactic cites the former president's presumptive status as the Republican nominee for president and need to campaign as a new justification for the request.

The former president also cites a comment Judge Juan Merchan made to the Associated Press last month. The judge declined to discuss the case but said the preparation for the trial was "intense."

And once again, the former president takes a swipe at the judge's daughter and her alleged political connections. This comes days after the judge expanded the gag order against the former president to include all family members of court staff, including the judge's daughter.

The former president has apparently already flouted that order on more than one occasion. Now, the Manhattan D.A.'s office has previously said that Trump offers no evidence for recusal other than a "daisy chain of innuendos."

I want to get some legal perspective now from former federal chief judge John Jones III and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig.

Judge Jones, what do you make of this filing from the Trump team? Is there any evidence in your mind that the judge should recuse himself?

JOHN E. JONES III, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. MIDDLE DISTRICT COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, Anderson, first of all, it's good to be back with you. I don't see anything in the motion that's new. They indicate that the predicate for this motion, as opposed to the one that they filed last year, is that he's now the nominee instead of the presumptive nominee or he's going to be the nominee.

I don't think that that changes anything in particular in terms of a factual basis. And you just mentioned that the judge made some statements to the press. I frankly don't see anything there that would disqualify him. Of course, preparation is intense. Some people would argue that judges shouldn't talk to the press at all. I guess you could make a case for that. But there was nothing that he said that was, in my view, a basis to recuse.

COOPER: Elie, you wrote a piece last year calling for the judge to recuse himself. Why is that and do you still believe it?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST:I do still believe that, Anderson. He will not recuse himself, to be clear. I agree with what Judge Jones just said. I don't think the new statements that the judge made require his recusal.

But here's the biggest problem, Judge Merchan in July of 2020, made a very small donation, $35. But he went on the Internet, logged into a site called ActBlue, and he donated $35 to, first of all, Joe Biden for President 2020, and second of all, to a group dedicated to stopping Donald Trump and his radical right-wing legacy.

Now, it's a very small amount. But the reason we have recusal, Anderson, is to protect the process. Because the rules say if a person could reasonably look at the judge's activities and question whether that judge was truly impartial, then the judge should step aside. Judges do this all the time. Let the next judge handle it.

And I think if the tables were turned, if this judge had donated $35 in 2020 to re-elect Donald Trump, and to defeat Joe Biden and his radical left-wing legacy, I think you'd see the case. So I

think this judge should have stepped off and let any of the other of dozens of judges in the courthouse handle the case with no issues.

COOPER: Judge Jones, do you think a prior donation is an issue?

JONES: Elie wrote a very thoughtful piece and I can't disagree at all with Elie's logic in this case, looking at it from the perspective that he did. The fact of the matter, though, is that the judge has to make a determination. Can his impartiality be reasonably questioned in this case. It was a $15 donation to Joe Biden.

Now, would I have made a political donation? No, I would not have done so. But he got an advisory opinion. I think it's de minimis, the donation. He's got to try to figure out in his mind and his heart, that is, Judge Merchan, whether he can sit fairly in judgment.

And as Elie well knows, he's not the finder of fact in this case.


Elie's point, I believe, having read his very good piece, is this - is that this gives an appearance of a conflict that doesn't look right to the public. Well, that's a call Judge Merchan is making. I agree with Elie. He's not going to recuse at this point. He's going to hang in.

The risk, of course, is that he presides and creates an appellate issue. And the case ends up being reversed based on the fact that an appellate court believes that Judge Merchan should have recused. But I think we've crossed the Rubicon now. He's not going to leave.

COOPER: Elie, do you think it is a big issue for an appeal?

HONIG: I think it will be raised on appeal. And I think there's a possibility. I think I agree with Judge Jones, a fairly remote possibility that a court of appeals will disagree with this. But as Judge Jones properly notes, what Judge Merchan did was he went to a - an ethics panel of other judges and he asked them for an opinion. This is last year when the issue was first raised and that ethics panel said, you're okay, you can stay on the case if you want to.

I still think the right move for Judge Merchan would have been to step off because we can debate $35 is not a lot of money, I think, by any calculation. But the problem is the man took the time to go on the Internet to click over to ActBlue. He entered his credit card information and he gave money to an effort to defeat Donald Trump and to promote Joe Biden.

And I do think a reasonable person can question that. I will tell you, there are tens of millions of reasonable people in this country who question that. And that courthouse is packed with very competent judges, by the way, I think Judge Merchan has done an exceptional job thus far in this case. But why not hand it down the hall? There's dozens of other judges. Why even have these questions lingering over the case at all?

COOPER: Judge, would something - I mean, if he were to decide to recuse himself, would that delay the trial significantly? Would that be a big process of bringing in a new judge?

JONES: Well, it depends. There are some other motions, I think, that are apt to be filed. I think he's swatting down the motions one by one as they come in. Certainly there would be a delay, Anderson. I think Elie knows that as well, it's not going to go to trial on schedule if he hands it off.

But as Elie said, there's some very capable judges there. I think they could get up to speed pretty rapidly if they had to. I can't imagine it would be a lengthy delay if he actually recused.

COOPER: And do you think - I mean, Judge Jones, do you think this filing is primarily about trying to delay the trial?

JONES: Well, nothing focuses the mind like a date certain for a trial, as Elie knows. And, everybody knows that this case is going to get convened. And it's quite clear that they don't want the case to go to trial, but probably before the election. So this is one more tool in the toolbox that they could file to, perhaps, impede the process.

I don't blame them necessarily for doing it. It's not a frivolous motion. But I just don't think it's a motion that's going to stick at this point.

COOPER: Judge Jones, Elie Honig, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Meanwhile, former first lady Melania Trump, largely absent from her husband's campaign trail, is set to make a rare appearance this month. A source tells CNN she'll attend the April 20th fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative LGBT group. She wouldn't have to travel very far. The event is being held at Mar-a-Lago. CNN's Randi Kaye has more tonight.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Last month when former President Donald Trump cast his ballot in Florida's primary, Melania Trump was at his side. A reporter asked about her plans to campaign for her husband. And this was her response.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to return to the campaign trail with your husband?



KAYE (voice over): "Stay tuned," she said. Now the former first lady is set to return to the political arena, not at a campaign event for her husband, but at a fundraiser for the Log Cabin Republicans being held at Mar-a-Lago later this month. The former president has been teasing her return for months now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's a private person, a great person, very confident person and she loves our country very much. She'll be, at the appropriate time, she'll be out there.


KAYE (voice over): While also trying to explain away her absence, as he did on Megyn Kelly's podcast.


TRUMP: She's introspective and she's confident. She doesn't need to be out there.


KAYE (voice over): And the only person who decides if and when Melania gets out there is Melania herself. A source close to the former president tells CNN that Melania dictates her involvement. She is very selective and methodical in what she wants to do and how she presents herself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think part of the beauty is that mystery.


KAYE (voice over): When Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential campaign at Mar-a-Lago last year, Melania was there. But since then has mostly stayed out of the public eye. Leading up to the Iowa caucuses, her absence inspired a sarcastic where's Melania campaign.


As her husband's legal troubles mounted and Trump traveled the country entering not guilty pleas last year, Melania wasn't at his side. Even on Super Tuesday, Melania was MIA while her husband celebrated at their Mar-a-Lago estate.


TRUMP: I want to thank my family for being here.


KAYE (voice over): Melania has been dealing with some personal matters, such as her mother's illness. She passed away in January. A source who worked with the former first lady told CNN during the 2020 campaign that Melania had never been comfortable in the public eye and campaign travel was not something she readily enjoys, that she preferred to be home with their son, Barron.

More recently, Melania has been focused on getting Barron ready for college, according to the former president. The New York Times reports that Melania made a handful of appearances in 2022 that earned her about half a million dollars from both the Log Cabin Republicans and a group called Fix California.

Last November, Melania attended a memorial service in Atlanta for former first lady Rosalynn Carter. And just last month, she made an appearance at a formal dinner reception for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at Mar-a-Lago.

It's been nearly a year since Melania's last television interview on Fox. Despite her pursuit of privacy, she happily teased a possible return to the White House.


M. TRUMP: Never say never.


KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.

COOPER: Up next, there's more breaking news. A senior administration official warning the U.S. is preparing for a significant attack by Iran on U.S. or Israeli assets in the Middle East. This after the Israeli strike in Damascus that killed top Iranian commanders. We'll have more on that next.

And also look at the dire humanitarian crisis on the ground in Gaza and the situation aid workers face after the strike that killed workers from World Central Kitchen. I'll speak with a former CNN correspondent, Arwa Damon, who's now on the ground in Gaza there with her own aid organization.



COOPER: More breaking news tonight, a senior administration official tells CNN the U.S. is actively preparing for a, quote, significant Iranian attack on U.S. or Israeli assets that could come as soon as next week. CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House with more. So what are you hearing?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we are learning tonight that the U.S. is on high alert and preparing for a significant attack by Iran that could come as soon as within the next week. This attack, of course, would be in response to an Israeli airstrike this week in Damascus that ended up killing top Iranian commanders. I'm told that U.S. and Israeli officials see this attack by Iran as basically inevitable and that the two governments right now are furiously working together to prepare for what is to come. But that even as of today that these officials do not know exactly how and when Iran plans to attack.

Of course, Anderson, a direct attack on Israel would be one of the worst case scenarios that the U.S. administration and the Biden administration would like to avoid seeing, given that this could lead to a real deterioration in an already explosive situation in the Middle East and a broadening of this regional conflict that, again, the Biden White House has so much wanted to avoid.

COOPER: There have been communications at times between the U.S. and Iran in very critical situations. Do we know -- has there been communication about this?

LEE: There has been, and obviously remarkable given that the two countries do not have any formal diplomatic relations. But what I am learning, along with my colleague Jenny Hansler, is that when this Damascus attack first happened, that Iran reached out to the U.S. and sent a message basically blaming the U.S. for this attack and that the U.S. then responded and said, one, we didn't have any warnings about this attack, we didn't have any involvement in it.

And second, sent a warning to the Iranians saying, don't use this as a pretext to attack U.S. personnel and facilities. A senior official telling me that this was akin to them saying, don't think about coming after us. So you can tell just by this exchange just how volatile the situation is even just given the fact that there was formal communication between the two countries. COOPER: And just to be clear, this where they're terming -- the sources terming a significant possible attack, it would be, they believe, in the Middle East, in the region.

LEE: That's right. We should be very clear about that. We are talking about the potential targeting of U.S. or Israeli assets in the region. We are not talking about something that involves American soil.

COOPER: All right, MJ Lee, thanks so much.

Tonight we are seeing more fallout from the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen. The IDF released a report into the killings today saying that it violated its own protocols and the attack should not have happened. They also dismissed two officers and reprimanded others for their involvement in the strike. Even with that report, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for an independent, thorough and fully publicized investigation. That's how he described it into the deadly attack.

Joining me from inside Gaza is Arwa Damon, a former CNN correspondent and founder of INARA, the International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance. Arwa, your aid organization was in Gaza when the strikes on the World Central Kitchen convoy occurred. I think you got in a day or two afterward. What is it like being there? What is the impact on your organization and others like it?

ARWA DAMON, FOUNDER, INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR AID RELIEF & ASSISTANCE: I mean, look, first of all, everyone who works for INARA, for my organization, they're Gazans. So this is their life and these are their people. And obviously this strike on the World Central Kitchen was extraordinarily jarring.

I mean, I came in with a number of other people working for different humanitarian organizations and we were all extraordinarily jittery. And, you know, it's strange because obviously I've spent years as a journalist in war zones and now I'm here as a humanitarian. And I would have maybe thought that perhaps I would feel as if there was a bit less of a risk given the nature of humanitarian work.


But that's not really the case here. And when it comes to, you know, INARA's staff on the ground, obviously they're extremely anxious, but they also have this feeling of these are our people, and if we don't help them, then who is going to? And especially now with the World Central Kitchen, you know, suspending its services, I mean, that's having a huge impact. People are hungrier now because of that.

COOPER: For people who don't know, I mean, you're not just a former journalist. You -- when you were a journalist, you were in the most dangerous, the most intense places, risking your life repeatedly with your crews. How does Rafah compare to what you have seen?

DAMON: You know, it's really hard to compare war zones, especially when it comes to the pain that is caused, because that is the same no matter where you go. But there's something about this that is very, very different. The speed with which it all happened, the speed with which this crush of humanity found itself in Rafah and the fact that it's so impossibly difficult to access those who are in need and to get the aid in, it's just even the most simple things, Anderson, you know, wanting to get people diapers, wanting to get women, you know, sanitary products, wanting to get food, wanting to just do anything, you run into so many different layers of challenges. And then --

COOPER: What are those challenges because, I mean, Israel is saying, look, more aid is getting in. There'll be the, you know, new crossings opening up, the arrows crossing. What is one stuff, even once it gets in, what are the bottlenecks?

DAMON: So it's quite interesting, you know, because I had an idea of what the bottlenecks were when I was on the outside. And now that I'm here, I actually have a much deeper understanding of what they are. So first of all, it takes around two to three weeks for a truckload to get in. And then once it gets in, it needs to be offloaded and transported. That's not as straightforward as it might seem because there's extreme fuel shortages.

People can't move around very easily from one neighborhood to another. And the routes that one can actually use do tend to change. And then when you actually get to these areas to try to distribute whatever it is that you have, it's complete and total chaotic insanity to a certain degree because there is so little. People are panicked.

TAPPER: What is your organization, Arwa, doing on the ground? Or what are you trying to do there?

DAMON: So we're working in 13 shelters that aren't really being all that accessed by other organizations. And we run sort of a mental health program for children. We're also doing hot meals. We're distributing diapers and women's rewashable sanitary underwear. And then earlier today, were out trying to do a basic medical assessment in some of these areas so that we can start setting up our medical points.

And we were completely swarmed there with women, you know, throwing babies into our faces because they haven't been gaining weight. Malnutrition, obviously, is a huge and massive problem. And then once people realized that we were also focused on children's mental health, you know, as were leaving, a woman came up to me and grabbed me, and she was saying, can you please try to help my son? Because he has been screaming and going into convulsions every single night, ever since he saw his sister's head blown off by a bomb that hit our house.

COOPER: Arwa Damon, thank you.


Coming up next, a gathering of survivors of the Nova Music Festival here in the United States, as this weekend, we approach the six month anniversary of the attack on Israel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: This Sunday will mark six months since the October 7th attacks by Hamas inside Israel, when partygoers at the Nova Music Festival were attacked, an estimated 364 people were killed there, 40 of them people -- others were taken hostages. Those attacks, of course, led to the war in Gaza, where more than 130 hostages are still believed to be in captivity, and where tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed.

Over these last six months, we reported extensively on the suffering, the lives lost in Gaza and Israel. What we don't often talk about is those who survived and the wounds they carry from this terrible war. Recently, a group of survivors who were at the Nova Festival came to the U.S. for a very unique gathering. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): In California's Ojai Valley for the next week, this Jewish sleepway camp is home to many survivors of the Nova Music Festival massacre. A 120 in all, it's the first time a group this size has gathered since October 7th.

DANIELLE SASI, NOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL SURVIVOR: Every day I ask myself, why am I alive? What's the purpose?

COOPER (voice-over): While most are from Israel, Danielle and Lee Sasi are from California. The cousins were visiting family and went to the festival with eight relatives, including Danielle's 65-year-old father, Avi. This video was shot moments before rockets began falling. They raced to one of the fortified bus stops that serve as bomb shelters along the road by the festival.


D. SASI: A blonde kid comes in. He's shot up in the leg, full of blood. He just walks in and sits in the corner. And at that very moment, I knew. My dad said, if I want to get home to my son, to stand in this corner. My dad yelled, all the guys up to the front, we won't let the terrorists in. And then it all started. It was a million bullets. Everyone was screaming, no, no. And then in Hebrew we hear rimon. Rimon is a grenade. When it exploded, you just feel like you are flying away from the impact of the bomb. And then they threw another grenade and it was again. And then they walked in and started shooting everyone and they shot me in the leg.

LEE SASI, NOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL SURVIVOR: They threw a Molotov cocktail in bomb shelter. And because there was so many bodies dead and alive inside, there was no floor for it to land on the ground and shatter. So they basically threw it and it created a lot of dark suffocating smoke that choked you to death.

D. SASI: My husband was. He just kept screaming that they're going to kill us. And I just kind of shook him. I kissed him. I told him to go look for my dad and to put bodies on top of me. He went to my dad. He marked with his hands like a heart sign saying that he's gone. And then I went numb.

COOPER (voice-over): Out of their group of eight, only four survived.

D. SASI: My dad died a hero for sure. And he promised me that I'll make it home to my son, so he kept his word.

COOPER (voice-over): Everyone here carries with them the terror of that day.

INOR KAGANO, PHOTOGRAPHER: When you see death, it stays within your eyes. You can see it. You can see people that suffered.

COOPER (voice-over): Inor Kagano was a photographer at the festival. This is him moments after the attack began.

KAGANO: Welcome to -- Israel. We have party of freed and we have terror.

From the gunshots, I could recognize this is terrorists because ta-ta- ta-ta-ta-ta-ta.

COOPER (voice-over): He initially also drove to a bomb shelter by the road.

I remember getting inside the shelter, I can see like 50 people, they were standing like that. I make the decision that probably saved my life. I took my car and went away. I talked with me, I think five or six more people inside the car.

COOPER (voice-over): He ended up at a kibbutz where hundreds of others had fled.

KAGANO: So the citizens have arms of the kibbutz have like shifts, so we kind of doing patrols. So it was civilians with arms serving us in front of the terrorists on the boat of the kibbutz. Not the IDF soldier because they needed a lot of hours to come.

COOPER (voice-over): After eight hours, he was able to escape.

KAGANO: There's a Greek quote that said, every man have two lives. The second ones begin when he understands he have only one and we all understand that on the 7th October so we kind of have a new life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's going to be a cool drum circle thing that's happening today.

COOPER (voice-over): Organizers hope this retreat will help people begin that new life. There's equine therapy, a therapy dog named Shawnee (ph) with his sidekick Junie (ph). And there's time and space to talk with each other about what happened.


D. SASI: Everyone has PTSD and it's real. So it's just nice to be around them knowing that you're not alone in it. I was the happiest person, I think, in the world before just waiting for some sunny days.

COOPER (voice-over): The next day, afternoon storms create a rainbow on the horizon.

KARIN HEPNER, CO-CHAIR, OROT HEALING RETREAT: They have been through unimaginable, tragic, horrible things. I feel like they forgot what it feels like to feel safe but if they can be reminded that who they were before, if one of these people can come here and reclaim that dream, then we've succeeded.


COOPER (voice-over): As the week goes on, they do confidence building exercises, they sing and once again, the survivors of the Nova Music Festival join together and dance.


COOPER: A reminder you can catch more on the anniversary of the October 7th attack. On this Sunday's The Whole Story. CNN's Bianna Golodryga sits down with family members of those taken captive and speaks directly with some of the released hostages on what they went through. That airs this Sunday at 8:00 p.m. here on CNN.

President Biden toured the collapse key bridge in Maryland today. A salvaged dive team recovered a third person at the site of the bridge collapse. During his remarks today, President Biden said of the six total who lost their lives, that, quote, most were immigrants, but all were Marylanders, hard working, strong and selfless. The President also said that he's committed to rebuilding the bridge with federal money. Quoting the President now, we're going to move heaven and earth to rebuild this bridge as rapidly as humanly possible. The bridge collapsed, as you know, after being rammed by a massive cargo ship just last week. The incident effectively shut down operations at Baltimore's port, which is a key economic engine, and halted the flow of ships.

Next, countdown to Eclipse day. We'll get a live report from CNN's Harry Enten at Niagara Falls as the area prepares to catch the eclipse in full totality.



COOPER: So we're all counting down the hours until the total solar eclipse will pass over large areas of the country on Monday, including right over Niagara Falls, which is preparing to see a big influx of tourists ready to see the celestial phenomena. So, of course, our favorite senior data reporter, Harry Enten, traveled up there. He rarely gets out of the building, so we're excited to see him out in the field. How is the town gearing up, and how does the expected crowd compare to the rest of the country?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes, you know, Anderson, the coldest winter I ever spelt -- ever spent was a spring in Niagara Falls, it's freaking freezing here. Look, the other side up in Canada, that Niagara Falls has, in fact, declared a state of emergency. Here, they haven't done such a thing, but they're making sure the cops are ready, the National Guard. I saw some extra porta potties out there. So they are expecting a large crowd, perhaps a million dollars being pumped into the local economy.

Now, interestingly enough, this is not where we're expecting the most tourists to cover the eclipse. We're actually expecting them down in Texas. We're expecting them Indiana. We're expecting them in Ohio. And then the fourth state, which we're expecting the most tourists, is in fact, New York. But in fact, you could go anywhere, basically in western New York, up to northern New York.

You know, you could spend in Rochester, you could be in Syracuse, you could be up in Lake Placid, where I hope to be actually the day after the eclipse. So the fact is you can find it in a lot of different places, but the most popular place at this particular point to watch the eclipse looks to be down in Texas, where, of course, Dallas, a very large city, is supposed to be in the path of totality.

COOPER: Now, we spoke on Wednesday, you mentioned there may be bad weather for the eclipse viewing in some cities in the path of totality. As a graduate of weather camp, I know you're on top of this. Has the forecast gotten any better since then?

ENTEN: You know, I was looking, I broke out my old weather camp yearbook. I was looking at it, and I remembered to look at my model output statistic data, and I put in a bunch of cities along the path of totality. I break out the acronyms for you, Anderson.


ENTEN: And I was looking at that model output statistic data. Look, Dallas, at this particular point, although Texas is expecting the most amount of people, the weather there is quite a iffy, mostly cloudy, maybe a thunderstorm, probably not. So I would probably go a little bit further north, maybe into Oklahoma or Arkansas. If you're thinking about going to Texas, Indianapolis could, in fact, have pretty good weather. We're looking at partly sunny there.


ENTEN: Here in the Buffalo Niagara Falls area, partly sunny. There may be a warm front. There's still a big question mark I'm going to be typing in the entire time trying to figure out what's going on, but in fact, the best weather, if you're looking for the best weather, Anderson, if you want to make a last second trip, perhaps we can rendezvous up in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington, Vermont is a pretty good. There it is.

COOPER: So, Harry, I understand you took the boat trip to see the falls. The -- what is it, the Maid of the Mist of the -- is that it? It looks miserable. I got to say. I've seen the video. We're playing the video now. You look, I mean, you're wearing a garbage bag and you just look -- was the earthquake also striking you at this moment?

ENTEN: I, you know, the last time I went on a boat ride anywhere in the water in the state of New York, it was as cold. Whenever you go on a boat ride in New York, it is freaking freezing, as I said. It was even colder down there. It was about 10 degrees cold.

COOPER: You're looking miserable.

ENTEN: You're sort of getting near the falls. You've -- I looked absolutely miserable. But the fact is I wanted to take in all of the scenery. And more than that, Anderson, I can report now, I have visited a new country because the Maid of the Mist, in fact, for a short while, goes into Canada. I have never been to Canada before today. So I was able to check that box off my list. And I know --

COOPER: You've never been to Canada?

ENTEN: I tried to go twice back in the -- no, I'd never been to Canada.

COOPER: Canada is awesome.

ENTEN: I had a passport card instead of a driver's license. I wanted to go to Canada twice in the early aught. But there was complaint problems both the times and maybe I want to --


COOPER: Hey, are you Victorian?

ENTEN: In the early aughts? The early 2000s, I mean, look, it's 2024, Anderson, where it's the early aughts now. You know, it's almost near back as far when I was born, it would have been like the 1950s.

COOPER: All right, Harry Enten with your early aughts, we got to go. Thank you very much. I hope you have a great eclipse. We'll probably chat about it Monday.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE" with Kaitlan Collins starts now. Have a great weekend.