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Major Baltimore Bridge Collapses After Being Hit By Cargo Ship; Crews Searching For 6 Missing People After Bridge Collapse; Crews Searching For Missing People After Bridge Collapse; Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Abortion Pill Mifepristone. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 26, 2024 - 16:00   ET



KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And so the judge is pointing to that saying, I'm making this finding in line with another case that is already faced scrutiny. And so, you know, Trump could try to appeal it, but it looks like it'll stand for now.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yeah, the judge also citing precedent multiple times.

A lot of news we got through this afternoon.

Jessica, thanks so much for being with us.

And thank you for watching.

We'll send it over to THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER, which starts in just about eight seconds.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.


I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper today.

And this afternoon, we are live in Baltimore, Maryland, where just behind me, just over my left shoulder is the scene of today's horrific bridge collapse.

We just got an update from state and federal officials on the ground here who confirmed there is still an active search and rescue operation underway in the river. Now, it's not clear how many people are still missing. Official said earlier today, but six people were unaccounted for, although a Baltimore city council member told CNN just moments ago, at least one body has been pulled from the water.

Now, this all started just before 1:30 Eastern this morning when according to Maryland's governor, a cargo ship issued a mayday call then the crashed into Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge.

President Biden says, all signs point to this being an accident, something state and federal officials have repeatedly said the same video showing lights on the ship flickering on and off just before it veered off course and smashed into the bridge.

Maryland transportation officials are heard on radio traffic just moments before impact, scrambled to clear cars.


MD TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY RADIO COMMUNICATION: I need one of you guys on the south side, one of the guys on the north side, hold all traffic on the Key Bridge. There's a ship approaching that just lost their steering, so until they get that under control, we've got to stop all traffic.

All inner loop traffic is stopped at this time.

Once you get here, I'll go grab the workers on Key Bridge and then stop the outer loop.

(INAUDIBLE) dispatch, the whole bridge just fell down. Start whoever -- everybody. The whole bridge has collapsed.


MATTINGLY: An urgent moment giving window into a catastrophe that has really brought all sorts of federal, state and local response.

President Biden pledging earlier today the federal government will do everything possible to get the port reopened as quickly as possible, including footing the entire bill.


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


MATTINGLY: We have teams and reporters were looking into every single aspect of this catastrophe.

We start off with CNN's Pete Muntean who's here with me.

Pete, it's been interesting listening to federal and local officials talking about the investigation which is on the way, not a ton of details, including whether or not there's a black box and will they get access to that black box?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That will be so critical for them, and right now, the search and rescue operation is continuing and good can hear the helicopters overhead, but investigators are really trying to give that search and rescue operations some room, which is really sort of slowing down this initial part of the investigation. Although we are getting some really early indications about what may have led to this crash that led to this bridge collapse.


MUNTEAN (voice-over): Investigators have new questions about the final moments before the crippled container ship Dali veered off course and into Baltimore's Key Bridge, the 911 calls to stop traffic frantic as steel and concrete plunged into the Patapsco River below.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The entire Key Bridge is in the harbor. I advise hold all traffic from coming to the bridge. I advise again, the entire Key Bridge has fallen into the harbor.

MUNTEAN: Officials say the Dali set sail at 12:28 a.m. under the command of a port of Baltimore pilot who boards large ships as they navigate the 700-foot wide channel. Security video shows minutes before the impact, the lights on board the Dali shut off twice, then the bow swung right. Briefed by the Coast Guard, Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says the crew experienced power issues and a loss of propulsion with alarms on the bridge blaring.

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

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


JENNIFER HOMENDY, NTSB CHAIRMAN: It will be critical. It's so critical piece of our investigation, which is why we have a recorders team here.

MUNTEAN: The latest data shows the Dali was traveling at a speed of eight knots, roughly 90 miles per hour, fast enough to trigger a disaster that could have been much worse.

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT: Undoubtedly, that mayday call from the ship, saved countless lives. I mean, there have been collapsed as a bridges in the United States where there wasn't mayday call and obviously many vehicles went into the water.


MUNTEAN (on camera): NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy says its too early for her teams to verify those early reports of propulsion issues on board the Dali, also too early to find out if there were any structural issues with the bridge, although Maryland Governor Wes Moore insists it was completely up to code. MATTINGLY: It's been fascinating just how much still needs to be

learned. Federal, state, local, you were talking about Coast Guard helicopters. We continue to see flying over us a lot more work to go. And Governor Wes Moore making clear, still a search and rescue effort.

Pete Muntean, keep us posted as you learn more.

MUNTEAN: Anytime.

MATTINGLY: I want to go now to Tom Foreman from CNN.

Tom, walk us through how this all went down very early this morning.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know that the ship pushed away from the dock around 12:30 or so. Now, bear in mind this is about as tall not quite as tall as the Chrysler building. If you stood around in like this three football fields in length, about a half football field wide, and it weighs a tremendous amount. Empty, it's more than 100,000 tons.

So we know that after it took off, guided by two tugboats and headed down toward the bridge, here's one of the first key visual signs, the lights flickering off on the ship as it approached the bridge. We'll loop that around, you can see it again. At this point, it was lights flicker off, there are still car is going across the bridge. Everything seems more or less normal as far as we can tell, that was at 1:24.

Next big sign, the boat is closer, the ship is closer. Look at this big plume of black smoke coming out of it here is that part of just some kind of emergency operations or is it related to what's going on? We don't really know entirely. We just know it's an unusual sight. You see a giant black plume of smoke coming out of there.

And I want you to notice, this moving right here right now, because this is getting very close and what you're seeing here now at 1:26 is the last vehicle to go across here that's apparently a semi-truck that was passing right about the time that it was coming in, 1:26:53. And then look at this one you see the full collapse happening here.

So that's when it all came together in the end for whatever else was going on before there, this part happened in a very rapid few minutes, Phil, and even though the boat was only moving about nine miles an hour, that was more than enough with that kind of weight and forced to have this impact -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Back up a little bit, guys

Are you okay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With that box out.

MATTINGLY: Tom, can I ask -- you know, and watching how the ship was actually moving and not knowing how it's supposed to move, it certainly was not in a good position. Do we know about the exact course the ship was supposed to be on? FOREMAN: Yeah, we do actually, because when you think about the way

that ships move, it's very much like cars on a road. They're not using all this water out here. They have very specific paths that they would follow very much as airplanes follow specific paths in the sky. So, when it left the dock up here and started out this way, guided by tugboats about here, it was basically following write down the proper channel according to the maps that they're supposed to follow. It should have gone right about here.

But you'll notice that if I clear that away, the issue in part is that there's a little jog here. If it had kept going this way it would have just gone beyond that. Why it didn't go there, that's what we don't know.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, one of the many unanswered questions we hope to be answered in the days and weeks ahead by investigators.

Tom Foreman, as always, thank you very much.

Just moments ago, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined a news briefing near the collapse side. He discussed the path to rebuild it, Baltimore's Key Bridge. He also acknowledged that the extreme emotional toll of this accident on the community.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Which also recognized that this is an excruciating day for several families who went to last night having it be a normal night and woke up today to news that no one wants to receive.


MATTINGLY: Baltimore County executive Johnny Olszewski is here with me.

You know, I want to start at that point, what the community has been through. We just heard Governor Wes Moore talk about the response both from those from Baltimore, from Maryland, but also outside as well.

What's your sense of how the community is doing right now?

JOHNNY OLSZEWSKI, BALTIMORE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: Yeah. I mean, anytime you have a tragedy like this, it is very personal and is very painful.


And at the local level, we are seeing and hearing from not just our first responders who are doing heroic actions, but also our community members who are hurting right now. Both those family members who have been immediately impacted by the collapse, but also communities that have relied on and have connections to this bridge.

It's been a very difficult time and I'm grateful for the ways in which people are coming together support each other at this point. MATTINGLY: It was striking here with transportation -- transportation secretary say this is no ordinary bridge. This is I want to get it right here basically cathedral of American infrastructure. It's what you know about the skyline. I drove over it on my way down in New York just yesterday.

The question right now, Wes Moore making very clear, the governor, still a search and rescue mission. I think you look at the temperature of the water and just how much time has elapsed. The worst fears I think is what initially comes to mind.

Is there still a real belief that of those that are unaccounted for, they could be found alive?

OLSZEWSKI: As long as we have any glimmer of hope, we're going to continue to do this as a search and rescue mission. We have federal state, and local resources all working very closely together at all levels.

You know, I've talked to the governor. I've talked to the president. We have our local resources at play, and we want to make sure we exhausted every possible option to find the remaining six individuals that we believe that were on that bridge when it collapsed.

MATTINGLY: When you look at -- when you've seen the video, for those who maybe don't understand just how one busy this port is, just how much of irregular kind of thoroughfare it is, what most concerned you about what you saw it? Do you think this is a one-off, just an accident, or there are broader concerns here?

OLSZEWSKI: I mean, initial reactions is that this was clearly an accident anytime you have this kind of tragedy that affects lives directly and certainly livelihoods for months and potentially years to come, it's concerning. But that's why were supported this thorough investigation.

We hope and we expect a lot of these answers will come out in the days and weeks ahead. We're here to provide our full support to make sure we have those answers to address those questions that are out there.

MATTINGLY: You spoke to President Biden earlier today. What was his message?

OLSZEWSKI: His message was were here and I got to tell you how relieving it is and what -- what a relief to have a president who has your back, when your communities are up against the wall and facing this kind of crisis to say, I'm here to make sure that you have all the federal resources you need to reopen the port, to rebuild the bridge, and to have whatever you need in terms of search and rescue missions.

So I just was grateful that he reached out and for his overwhelming commitment to this community here.

MATTINGLY: We heard from Senator Ben Cardin, the dean of the congressional delegation, talking about the fact that the immediate concern obviously is those that are unaccounted for in the search and rescue mission. But very shortly thereafter, you're thinking about this is a major thoroughfare for transportation. There's millions of cars that go back and forth this bridge, also the port is kind of a central artery to supply line issues as well.

What kind of support is going to be needed? You have a sense right now of dollar figure of how long it's going to take to get things back up and running.

OLSZEWSKI: I think all that will come known as we sort of do the investigations, see how it will -- it will take to clear out the shipping channels. Again, I think our first priority is the search and rescue mission that is top of mind, but we know that we also have to quickly also open up those shipping lane channels, so that we have our port reopened and then ultimately address the transportation challenges of having a bridge replace.

So this is not a short-term answer. This is going to be a long-term solution where we need all of these federal, state, local partners and the community at the table. But we're ready to do what we have to do it to respond to this absolutely heartbreaking crisis.

MATTINGLY: No question about it, federal officials making clear and I think community around as well, it will be here as long as it takes.

Baltimore County executive, Johnny Olszewski, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.

OLSZEWSKI: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Well, CNN heard from the families, the workers that were on the bridge when it collapsed, what they're saying about this awful scene? That's ahead.

Plus, a structural engineer called into some of the worst tragedies in recent memory, including 911, Florida's surfside collapse, and more. We're going to get his thoughts on the latest this scene.

We're back in a few moments.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back and we are back with the breaking news.

You can see the scene right there, devastation, the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. That scene is just over my left shoulder. If you look behind me, there were a couple of hundred yards from the base of the bridge, a bridge that was urgently shut down after a ship ran in to the base of the bridge, collapsing it in mere moments.

In just a moment, I will be joined by the city's mayor who just participated in a news conference with federal and state and local officials who will be walking over to our camera. Shortly ahead of that discussion, I want to start though with Allyn

Kilsheimer. He's a structural engineer. He's investigated other disasters -- disasters, including the collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Florida International University, 911 at the Pentagon, and the Oklahoma City bombing.

We appreciate your time and your expertise, sir.

Can I just ask him off the top, you watch the video of this horrific scene. The bridge collapsed so quickly, so rapidly, should the bridge have been able to withstand even a ship at this scale running into it?

ALLYN KILSHEIMER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Well, the answer is, bridges and buildings are designed for certain forces, all right? If the forces that are exerted on those structures are greater and what they're designed for, then after a bit, the factors of safety no (ph) longer help.

What happened to this bridge was there was a guy named Newton and he said that force equals mass times acceleration. So you had a large mass, even though it was only going 8, 10 miles an hour, it was moving. It hit the bridge in a spot where it's like if I came up behind you and knocked your knees out from underneath you from the back, you're going to fall down. That's what happened here.

The bridge used to be supported between two points, you take one point out, it no longer is appointed and the next place is double that dimension away again, it can't possibly survive that type of impact in that location.

MATTINGLY: It's a really critical point, and particular because people were talking about looking at the safety record of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis back in 2007 as well.


What you saw doesn't make you think this had anything to do structurally with the bridge other than the ship hitting it at the absolute worst point?

KILSHEIMER: I don't know anything about the condition of the bridge, but the federal Highway Department and other agencies, the Maryland Highway Department, have all kinds of various inspections that have to be done on a regular basis. Those inspections would show if there are flaws and their determinations made as to whether there are serious, dangerous, et cetera, if they're bad enough things get shut down.

I believe that this appears to be from what you see, only the wrong thing happening in the wrong place with the wrong force.

MATTINGLY: Is there a way to protect. I mean, given those dynamics which seem one in a million to some degree, is there a way to protect against something similar as they go through the process of rebuilding this bridge?

KILSHEIMER: Over-simplified, once you understand the maritime channels, you could around the peers of the columns of the pedestals, whatever you want to call the verticals, you could build a large big diameter concrete thing that wouldn't allow anything to hit those columns that would hit the concrete thing first.

If you look at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge over the Chesapeake Bay, it has some of those things to stop things from hitting a much smaller boats. You'd have to put a very large concrete coffer dam around the outside way outside of these columns to stop a vehicle like -- this is a ship from -- actually hitting the pillars themselves.

MATTINGLY: In a moment where there are a lot of questions still an answer to a lot of theories out there. This is really important information valuable at that.

We appreciate your time, sir, as always. Thank you.

KILSHEIMER: No sweat. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: And as I noted, the Baltimore mayor headed over here now. CNN also spoke with families who say their loved ones were on Francis Scott Key Bridge when it collapsed. They're agonizing wait for answers that continues now as this search operation hits hour number 15. That's next.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back to THE LEAD, near the scene of the horrific bridge collapse in Baltimore, parts of the Key Bridge falling into the river early this morning after his ships slammed in to the bridge. That river and that bridge critical thoroughfares for the city of Baltimore and the surrounding area, the Baltimore Beltway. It is a critical port, but it's also where millions of cars go back and forth throughout the region. It's incredibly important element of this region in it's entirety.

Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, saying it's essentially a cathedral of infrastructure, saying its critical to the city skyline. Now, the region is in shock to some degree, but also in the midst of both a search and rescue operation and an investigation into what went wrong. There has been shocked by the dramatic images.

There's also been a reaction, including pro-sports teams from the Baltimore Orioles, quote, devastated by the news. We've also seen news from the Baltimore Ravens saying the grateful for the first responders and local leaders who are on the scene.

The Washington Commanders bring out a statement saying, quote, our hearts go out to those affected, their families, and all of Baltimore. And a collective message from the Washington Wizards, WNBA's Mystics, and NHL's Washington Capitals, all standing in, quote, solidarity with the city of Baltimore.

Well, I'm joined now by the Baltimore mayor, Brandon Scott.

Sir, we appreciate your time, Mr. Mayor. I know it has been one heck of a day. There's no question about that.

First, and most important question when you talk to members of your community, how are they doing right now?

MAYOR BRANDON SCOTT (D), BALTIMORE: Well, people are shaken. This is an unthinkable and unspeakable tragedy. When you think and live in Baltimore, this bridge is iconic. We don't know a time, many of us, this bridge is older than me, without looking through that harbor are looking up into the harbor and seeing that iconic bridge.

Those videos hurt because we think about our residents that were on that bridge. Those folks that we're actively searching for right now and their families who are holding them on the hope that they'll walked back into the door later on tonight.

MATTINGY: The Governor Wes Moore making very clear as explicitly as he could, it is still a search and rescue operation. We see the Coast Guard helicopters that are still flying over us and across, we see the boats still just a couple of hundred yards behind us in the water and the bridge.

What news have you been given about those who are unaccounted for? How many and whether or not anybody has been recovered at this point?

SCOTT: Well, listen, we are still looking actively for six folks. I've been across the water with my fire department, with the coast guard, with the county fire department, with the states, folks who have dive team, the police departments. Everyone is working here together from President Biden and his team, Secretary Buttigieg, Governor Moore and myself, the county executive, this is a full team effort to find these individuals and help Baltimore in his community rebuild.

But today, our focus is rightly -- been rightly so on those families, on those individuals that were actively searching for.

MATTINGLY: You mentioned the six that are unaccounted for. Our reporting is that they were working on the bridge which at the time do we know anything about kind of what they were doing and why they were still there when there was such an urgent and I think an externally impressive effort to keep people off the bridge in the worst moment.

SCOTT: Well, listen, efforts were made and we have to be very clear. There was some heroic efforts made by first responders to stop extra and ongoing traffic to go onto that bridge. They save lives. Those individuals who we are actively looking for were simply out there doing work to improve transit for every other person who takes this bridge consistently, over 30,000 a day, and we have to honor them by doing in them right, and looking for them and bringing -- bringing them back home, so that their families can have peace.

MATTINGLY: The rebuilding effort, there's no shortage of support right now.


We just saw it, federal, state, local leaders. The danger and the risk in moments like this is people move on. It -- this will take a long time to recover.

Do you have any sense of what your community is going to need in this process going forward?

SCOTT: We'll go through that. We'll go through that process, but no one's going to move on.

I've heard directly from President Biden, everyone in the world saw him say it. He's going to be here to see it through. His administration is going to be here to see it through. I know that our governor and our city and our county and our other state and congressional leaders are going to be he here to see it through.

This is Baltimore. We overcome challenges and we overcome folks doubting us all the time. We have to be reminded that this Key Bridge is named after Francis Scott Key, who wrote the national anthem. Sitting up least not too far with a bridge is behind this because folks were doubting this country and doubting this city.

That is not something that I would do. If you're a betting person, don't bet against Baltimore. We will build back better and stronger together.

MATTINGLY: Quickly because I know you have no shortage of things going on. The -- I first met you at the White House when the president months ago, probably years ago. Your conversation with him today, what was that like?

SCOTT: Well, this -- listen, well, you know the president very well. It's just about the president being what he is, honest and the best president in my lifetime and someone who understands the importance of not just this bridge with the city and who has a true, true love for making sure that the federal government is helping state and local leaders its through crises like this. We can't, I can't say enough how much I appreciate them, how much I appreciate his leadership and his entire administration.

We've heard from Secretary Buttigieg, obviously who was with us today. Ive heard from DOJ. Ive heard from homeland security, other members of the president's staff, they understand how important this is. And I have no doubt that there'll be here with us every single step of the way until the bridges rebuild.

MATTINGLY: I think the president's word, words were "we'll move heaven and earth to fix this".

SCOTT: Yes, he will do it.

MATTINGLY: Certainly relationship that's been ongoing.

Mr. Mayor, I know it has been one heck of a day. We appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

SCOTT: Thank you. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: And we'll have more from the scene of this bridge collapse, including the governor of Maryland, Wes Moore. He's headed this way. We'll speak to him in just a moment.

Also ahead, fall out from the U.S. Supreme Courts first major here about abortion since the overturning of Roe versus Wade. We'll be back in a moment. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: And we're back live in Baltimore, Maryland, with the breaking news where large parts of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, it's right behind me over my left shoulder, there's a massive gap in the center of it right now, as it collapsed into the river early this morning.

A search and rescue mission is underway right now. The state's governor telling reporters, they're searching via land, via air, and water for six people still believed to be unaccounted for.

And joining us now is Maryland's Governor Wes Moore, just moments ago giving a press conference talking about probably most importantly, the support that the community has been receiving both from people around Maryland, but also from federal and state officials, but also that that search and rescue mission is very much still underway.

Mr. Governor, we have seen that the coast guard helicopters are flying by, kind of every 20 or 30 minutes. We know that there are shifts in the water, divers as well. Do we have any sense about who is missing and their potential whereabouts at this point?

MOORE: Thank you so much. And I can tell you that the support that we've received not just across the state, but from around the country and around the world has been truly overwhelming. And the thing that we know is that for the -- there are eight individuals who we knew were directly impacted at the -- at the time of the collapse. One is currently in shock trauma receiving treatment for their injuries. Another one I've actually had a chance to speak with, and we still have six that are unaccounted for.

And so it's not just that our heart goes out to their family members, that we are praying for their safe return. And this is still very much an active search and rescue campaign, that we are using every resource at our -- at our disposal to be able to help address.

But in addition to that, we know that in this time that the Maryland is going to focus on keeping this a search and rescue mission and try to return, return these individuals back to their families.

MATTINGLY: Respecting the privacy of a personal phone call. But can you share any of the details from the conversation you had with the individual who was on the bridge and was recovered unharmed?

MOORE: Yeah, it was -- it was a pretty remarkable conversation where, as he said but for the grace of God, that he was there. You know, he talked about the moments before and how, and how close that he physically was by being captured because when you saw the moments between when the crew called for a mayday and the moments that the bridge actually collapsed, we're talking -- we're talking seconds.

And so his ability, the fact that he is safe, the fact that myself and the lieutenant governor had to -- had -- had the opportunity to spend time with them it really is pretty miraculous when you consider what happened, the speed and the intensity of which had happened last night?

MATTINGLY: Yeah, so often, I feel like using the word miracles hyperbolic to some degree, certainly not in this case. Did he say -- did they see the ship given how fast things were happening, did they actually see it approach?

MOORE: Yeah. So, it's in -- the individual actually shared -- share with me that he did see the ship that it was coming. And, you know, that's the thing for -- for all these brave workers who are working in challenging conditions, they saw ships happening, coming every single night, that was a normal routine.


But when you see the size, the enormity of that kind of vessel coming at the speed that it was at, and even the slightest adjustments that you saw here means a difference between a successful passage and catastrophe. And unfortunately, what we saw last night was a -- was a catastrophe.

And so, the fact that ships were coming, was not an unusual occurrence for our workers who are bravely working, working in those conditions but what happened last night and the catastrophic events that happened last night is really what happened when you saw that breakage of power and the inability to steer the ship.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. I think Mayor Scott put it best. He said these people were working to fill potholes, to make transportation better when this all happened.

Can I -- can ask just quickly before I let you go, for the community, what do you need? It made clear, you've got federal support, you've got state, local support, everybody around you, as well as private sector support as well.

What do you need right now in this moment?

MOORE: What we need right now is for the community to keep their prayers coming, continue to pray for these families, continue to pray for the individuals, continue to pray for Baltimore, for the state of Maryland.

You know, we say we are -- we are Maryland tough and we are Baltimore strong. But the prayers that are coming from all around the country and all around the world, they are felt and they are going to be necessary.

This is going to be a long journey and its going to be an expensive journey. It's going to be an important journey that we don't just rebuild, but we truly build back in a way that reflects the power and the, and then the certainty of this community. And so we're -- we're grateful for our federal partners, for our local and state partners, for the private sector, for philanthropy, for everybody who continues to be engaged and continues to pray for Baltimore.

MATTINGLY: A long road ahead, no question, but a search and rescue mission very much still underway.

Governor Wes Moore, we appreciate it. Thank you.

MOORE: Thank you all

MATTINGLY: There's much more to come from here in Baltimore and the catastrophic Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed.

There were also major developments at the Supreme Court this morning concerning abortion. We're going to talk with the CEO of Planned Parenthood. That's next.



MATTINGLY: THE LEAD is back, continuing to follow the breaking news live near Baltimore, the site of a major bridge collapse.

We just spoke to Maryland Governor Wes Moore who confirmed six people are still missing. Helicopters, you can hear them often in the air behind me, divers are in the water searching for those people. There'll be much more from the scene here in Baltimore ahead.

But first, we want to turn now to our health lead. The majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices appeared this morning skeptical of a nationwide ban on a popular abortion pill. Now, the high court today hearing arguments centered on mifepristone, one of the two drugs widely used to terminate early pregnancies. It's also utilized to expel remaining fetal tissue after a miscarriage.

Today's arguments not only brought hundreds of protestors on both sides of the issue. It's also an incredibly rare event in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry very much on the same side of things. This is the first abortion-related hearing or was the first abortion-related hearing before the Supreme Courts since the conservative majority eliminated the constitutional right to abortion, nearly two years ago.

CNN's Paula Reid is here to walk us through the legal arguments and CNN's Meg Tirrell will give us the medical facts and data.

Paula, start with you, is it too early to say this is shaping up to be a win for abortion care advocates based on what we heard this morning?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, based on what we heard this morning, Phil, it appears the justices are going to be unlikely to restrict access to mifepristone for now. During the oral arguments, justices across the political spectrum appeared skeptical that this group that brought the lawsuit even has standing or the right to do so.

This is a group of conservative medical officials and advocates all anti-abortion advocates who argue that they may at some point have to offer medical assistance or treat someone who's had complications from mifepristone and that's why they want to restrict this broaden access to the drug.

But the government pushed back on that saying, look, you haven't actually suffered a harm. There's no imminent harm and there's also, as some of the justices pointed out as well, federal religious exemptions that you can avail yourself up.

Now, there's another issue that Justice Gorsuch pointed out. It's concerned about allowing a small lawsuit to balloon into some national journal issue. So we expect this decision in June, which of course, you know, Phil, it will be the heart of the presidential campaign season.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, plenty of politics involved, at least outside the Supreme Court.

Meg, can you explain to people how commonly is this drug used? How does this actually work?

MEG TIRRELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Phil, increasingly commonly. We just got new data showing that a medication abortion accounted for 63 percent of all abortions accounted for in the formal health care system in 2023, there were more than a million abortions in that year. So that's more than 600,000 people who accessed this medication.

It's a regimen of two drugs, mifepristone, the one at issue here in this case, as well as misoprostol. This has been approved by the FDA since 2000, up to ten weeks of pregnancy. It is 95 to 98 percent effective.

It's also used, as you mentioned, for care for miscarriages. Now, in terms of the safety which was a lot of what's being discussed in this case, studies have shown that there are 0.3 percent risk of major complications using medication abortion pill. So this is a drug that's been on the market for 24 years in the United States. And the record researchers say, is strong.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it's critical research has these arguments and we await a decision in the months ahead.

Paula Reid, Meg Tirrell, thank you both very much.

And joining us now president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson. We appreciate your time this morning. I want to start where we Meg left off, his case brought by a group of anti-abortion doctors that claimed mifepristone is a danger to women.

I want you to listen to how Erin Hawley described things after the oral arguments. She's a senior counsel arguing against mifepristone. [16:50:04]


ERIN HAWLEY, SENIOR COUNSEL, ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM: Without question, the FDA's actions had made taking chemical abortion drugs less safe. Today, I argued before that state Supreme Court on behalf of doctors and medical associations who have witnessed these harms firsthand.

The FDA violated federal law and its duty to keep women safe.


MATTINGLY: Alexis, have -- is your organization or health care providers that you work with documented any persistent or dangerous side effects of mifepristone?

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: No, Josh, and look, I mean, the reality is that we know through multiple studies at the FDA has conducted, had been privy to that mifepristone has been used safely and effectively by over 5 million people in the United States alone for over 20 years.

Seventy percent of Planned Parenthood patients choose to use mifepristone for their abortion care and I think what the -- you know, I happen to be in the courtroom today, which was an incredible honor to hear the argument and also to really see how much the justices were struggling with the very hypothetical nature of the plaintiff's argument for standing and how that would balance with a remedy that would in an essence effect all people across the country, not just in states where abortion bans are currently restricting access to mifepristone.

But in states like New York and California and Illinois that many people across the entire country have come on, come to rely on medication abortion for their health care. And I think it was very, very surprising even now, and jarring quite frankly to hear the plaintiff's attorney tried to make an argument once again, that they would be -- plaintiffs would be subject to a harm when in fact, it is the abortion bans that have resulted from the Dobbs decision that in fact are really harming the patients, and also, I believe the providers as well.

MATTINGLY: So when you walked out of the courtroom earlier today, it seems like you were confident that this case will break your way when the decision comes?

MCGILL JOHNSON: I felt confident on the arguments. I felt confident with the questions and the skepticism that was -- that was raised as I just put it, and I also, you know, really reminded that this is the same court that delivered Dobbs. This is the same court that conservatives super majority that was appointed by former President Trump, who is himself proclaimed interest in seeing a national abortion ban, and that continues to concern me and I think concerns -- should concern us all. So while I think the lack of standing that seemed to be apparent through your questioning and the lack of real and any discussion around the merits because the science I think was so convincing, you know, should give us some -- some measure of security, but that only is when we are in a system and a structure, you know, with a -- with a court that quite frankly, I think has demonstrated that it is willing to go outside of those various notions in its rulings.

MATTINGLY: We only have about ten seconds left, but you mentioned the presumptive Republican nominee. Do you feel like this issue will be a determining factor in the 2024 campaign?

MCGILL JOHNSON: Oh, it already is, Josh, I mean, we have seen abortion rights be on the ballot since the Dobbs decision in earnest nationally, as you know, every state where we have had abortion valid initiatives, reproductive freedom is one and we will continue to fight to make sure that happens.

MATTINGLY: Alexis McGill Johnson, we appreciate your time today. Thank you.


MATTINGLY: Well, here in Baltimore -- back here in Baltimore, the search and rescue operation now, in our 15 after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

We'll be back in a moment. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

We are back live in Baltimore, Maryland, at the scene of the devastating Francis Scott Key Bridge Key -- Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse earlier today. Six people still believed to be missing. The search and rescue mission still underway.

CNN's Danny Freeman is with me now.

And, Danny, you spoke to members, family members of workers, who were on the bridge when it collapsed. What are they saying now?

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, in essence, Phil, those family members who knew a number of people who are on that bridge when a collapsed are stressed, they're very upset as you can imagine, that is still waiting for answers. We've been hearing all of these press conferences and still like you said, six folks still missing at this point.

But we do have a little bit of information about what they may have been doing up there. First off, we know that they were working for the company known as Brawner Builders. It's a local construction company just about five miles up the road and I should say that Brawner Builders has declined to comment on this particular story so far.

But the first woman I spoke with, she said that she had to immediate family members who are on that bridge that morning that are still missing. She didn't want to share their names when I spoke with her. But she said that her uncle worked there for many, many years, loved working there, loved being a part of the construction community.

Two other one when we spoke with said that one of their family members actually was one who survived, but they said that even though he was released from the hospital, still just not okay because you can only imagine the emotional and mental distress from being a part of what happened early this morning.

Now, I should note that the secretary transportation, you've been speaking about it already, noted that the people that were up there on that bridge overnight, they were not talking, they were not fixing major infrastructure problems. They were not rebuilding this bridge.

They were doing every day jobs of filling in potholes, doing repairs to make drivers' lives easier. So again, just between that knowledge of what they were doing and just the family members and their distraught nature at this time, it's a tough moment for this community.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, tough moment, critical reporting as well, doing jobs that matters so much to the community.

Danny Freeman, we appreciate your time as always, my friend. Thank you.

And CNN is continuing coverage of the bridge collapse in Baltimore continues right now.