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Trump to Surrender by Tuesday upon his Indictment; NYT Reporter Under Arrest in Russia; Finland becomes the latest NATO Member; U.K. to join Trans Pacific Trade Partnership; Donald Trump Indicted; Gwyneth Paltrow Wins Legal Battle; Pope Francis' Health Improving; Jair Bolsonaro Returns to Brazil; FBI and Local Police Investigates Nashville School Shootings; Train Derailment in Minnesota. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 31, 2023 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I am Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on "CNN Newsroom".

A Historic indictment, Donald Trump becomes the first former U.S. president to be criminally charged.

An American reporter under arrest in Russia, what Moscow is accusing him of doing.

Gwyneth Paltrow is found not liable for causing a ski collision. We'll hear what the men who accused the actress said she told him after the verdict.

Sources tell CNN Donald Trump will appear in the New York courtroom on Tuesday after a grand jury voted to indict the former president. It's the first time in history that a current or former U.S. president has faced criminal charges.

Sources tell CNN the indictment includes more than 30 counts related to business fraud. The grand jury has been hearing evidence about hush money payments to adult film star, Stormy Daniels, which Trump has denied knowing about. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office says it has contacted Trump's legal team to coordinate his surrender.

New York City Police are also stepping up security in case of possible protests.

We have more now from CNN's Senior Crime and Justice reporter Katelyn Polantz.


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Years of investigation and several weeks of closely watching a grand jury in New York, it's resulted in the first ever case, criminal case, against the former president of the United States. Donald Trump is now charged with several criminal charges in New York related to his business empire, and potential hush money payments that he may have endorsed that we know that his personal attorney paid out to a porn star as he was running for president in 2016.

It is not exactly clear what these charges are at this time. Even Trump himself doesn't know of them, but we do know and we have confirmation tonight from both his attorneys and from the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, that Donald Trump has been charged. He has been contacted and that he needs to get himself from Florida, where his estate is, to New York City so that he can be arrested and processed in the court system and potentially face trial.

So, right now, what is happening is, Trump is expected to appear on Tuesday of next week in court. He will be processed like any other criminal defendant. It may be a hectic and chaotic scene in Manhattan, either in or outside of that courthouse with a lot of additional security, but his photographs will be taken. He will be fingerprinted. He will appear before a judge. He will read his charges and he will be able to enter a plea.

Right now, the expectation is that he will plead not guilty and progress toward trial. But that is where we are right now here in this New York case as he faces these charges. At the same time, there are ongoing criminal investigations that Donald Trump still faces and has not been charged in.

In Georgia, a state case related to the end of his presidency in the January 6th attack on the U.S. capital as well as to federal criminal cases that grand juries in Washington, D.C. have been actively investigating and pursuing very high-ranking witnesses to tell them their stories of what happened, what they heard of with Trump, and what their interactions with the former president were like.

Those are relating both to January 6th and the keeping of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Florida after he left the presidency. Though he hasn't been charged in those, they are quite mature investigations, and Donald Trump is facing quite a lot of legal risk there that he is trying to stand down as well as he is going to be moving forward as this case progresses in New York once we finally see the charges and it is before a judge.

Katelyn Polantz, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: What was noting that Trump and his most vocal supporters are saying very little to refute the apparent facts of the case. Instead, they're publicly attacking the credibility of the District Attorney, accusing Democrats of carrying out a political vendetta against the former president.

CNN's Kristen Holmes has our report.



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sources close to the former president tell us that Donald Trump and his advisers down at Mar-A-Lago were blindsided by the timing of this indictment.

Now, for the last two weeks, I've been talking to a number of people close to the former president, who said they were ready for this potential indictment. Essentially, they were on pins and needles.

But recent media reports saying that the grand jury was going to go on hiatus that they wouldn't be meeting about this hush money payments case. That made them believe that, one, they had some more time; but, two, some of them, some advisers to the former president believed that maybe DA Alvin Bragg was actually reconsidering bringing an indictment.

So, right now, they are coming back out, they have been swinging. We can see that former President Trump is on the offense. He has said that this is a witch hunt, a hoax, he has blamed Democrats. He has linked Alvin Bragg, a Democrat to Joe Biden.

This was something that we expected in something we expect to see more of. We also expect to hear from many of Trump's allies who will likely flood the airways attacking Democrats, as well as attacking the grand jury and the DA himself. Important to note, of course, that a grand jury made this decision to indict not Alvin Bragg, but that is not going to stop Trump's team from attacking him as part of their plan.

Now, the big question is how to get the former president to New York. We know that there have been talks about making it some sort of media spectacle. But in reality, many of the aides and advisers we talked to said that it's really going to be up to the Secret Service and up to the NYPD what this looks like.

This is an unprecedented event. You have a former U.S. president who has own Secret Service detail coming into downtown New York. So that is what they're looking at now, how to get him in and out of the city and then what he's going to say afterwards who he's going to say it to and when.

Kristen Holmes, CNN Washington.


BRUNHUBER: And joining me now from Los Angeles is CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean. Thanks so much for being here with us, great to get your perspective,

particularly on this, I mean, putting this in a historical context. I mean, we've come close, but never this close. Just how unprecedented is this?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a totally unprecedented, Kim. We have been close with Richard Nixon. The Watergate special prosecution for us was drafting an indictment against him for obstruction of justice and bribery in connection with the Watergate cover up. But he was pardoned, so they stopped drafting, and that ended that whole pursuit. Bill Clinton, when he was still president, committed perjury and there

was a threat of an indictment from a special prosecutor who later settled up, and said, well, I can indict you. I will work out a deal with you, which he did. So, this is the first with it's a new chapter in American jurisprudence with a president -- former president of the United States going to be indicted.

BRUNHUBER: Understandably both Democrats and Republicans are uneasy about all of the implications of this, but ultimately, I mean, is this good for American democracy?

DEAN: I think it's very good. We're a country where our system is based on the rule of law. If there is a distinction between somebody who happened to be elected president and still committed criminal acts and the average person on the street, the system breaks down. It's serious hypocrisy. So, I think people will realize that. I think it's clear they're going to treat the president, the former president, just as any other criminal defendant.

While he has, because of the office he held, a Secret Service detail is assigned to him the rest of his life. If he's indicted and convicted, they won't go to jail. They'll make special arrangements, but they will be with him throughout the process protecting his safety.

BRUNHUBER: Whilst I guess speaking of safety more generally, I mean, Trump warned about, you know, the death and destruction ensuing in the aftermath of this if he's, you know, arrested. I mean, how worried are you about the outbreak of political violence here?

DEAN: There is that potential with Mr. Trump. He does not like to be cornered. He does not like to lose. He does not like to not get his own way. And as we saw on January 6th that really lost the last election, he called for his people to do -- to go wild, if you will, and to march on the capital, and we had the first insurrection in modern American history.

That hasn't been fully resolved yet. Mr. Trump still has jeopardy for his activity in that, but I also must say that over 1,000 people have already been indicted and convicted for their participation in the January 6th event.

When he called on his people to protest, protest, protest, they are not very subtle action to try to get them motivated to get in the streets and raise hell. There was very almost no reaction at all, I mean, a handful of people in a handful of venues.


BRUNHUBER: Yeah. I'm wondering about that, though. I mean, if you do see Donald Trump in, you know, in handcuffs that might change. And speaking of all those prosecutions, Donald Trump often praises all of those who were convicted.

He played recently in the event, a song sung by January 6th prisoners, but do you think those prosecutions will dissuade his followers from violence or will the fact that in the Trump world they've been held up as heroes and martyrs, let further encourage them?

DEAN: Well, I can't be sure. But my reading of the situation based on what intelligence I've been able to gather from the internet and other sources indicates that there is a reluctance this time that a lot of people feel they were deserted by Trump after they did protest on January 6th. A lot of the defendants in January 6th have complained that he hasn't lifted a finger for them.

So, as I say, I don't think that there is the same enthusiasm there was before that event, and I think it could have a dampening effect. That doesn't mean there might not be some sporadic violence, but I don't think it's going to be widespread.

BRUNHUBER: Finally, what do you make of the reaction of most party Republicans in this. I mean, there's been a generally a circling of the wagons.

DEAN: Well, I came from the ranks of the Republican Party and I'm dumbfounded by what the party has become. They are just openly embracing criminal behavior. It's really quite stark and startling to me. It's very unusual. I know Republicans who have left the party as a result of Mr. Trump and his current base that they don't identify with it all.

I know -- I'm sure that some of the people I know are turning over in their grave of what's happening with the party. For example, Mr. DeSantis, Governor DeSantis said he would actually not extradite Trump from Florida as the governor of Florida and defy the constitution to protect him if he wanted to stay in Florida, pretty striking.

BRUNHUBER: It is striking, absolutely. Listen, it's fascinating and terrifying at the same time, I really appreciate getting your analysis. CNN Contributor John Dean in Los Angeles. Thanks again.

For the first time since the Cold War, an American journalist is in Russian custody on spying charges. What the allegations and reaction from the U.S.

Plus, Ukraine reportedly relieves some military pressure from a key access road in the besieged city of Bakhmut.

When we come back, stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: Another American is in Russian custody right now this time a correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal" was based in Moscow. Evan Gershkovich is accused of spying. Russia's main security service, the FSB, says he was trying to obtain state secrets.

He was taken into custody in Yekaterinburg and a Russian court says he will be detained until late May. "Wall Street Journal" is owned by News Corp and Dow Jones, which said it's working around the clock to secure Gershkovich' release.

[03:15:02] The Dow Jones chief executive called the arrest, quote, "An extremely disturbing development," and said, we also vehemently deny the claims made by Russian officials. The white house is also denouncing the arrest.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This espionage charges are ridiculous. The targeting of American citizens by the Russian government is unacceptable. We condemn the detention of Mr. Gershkovich in the strongest -- in the strongest terms. We also condemned the Russian government's continued targeting and repression of journalists.


BRUNHUBER: Now, this arrest ratchets up already high tensions between Russia and the U.S.

CNN's Matthew Chance reports from Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): News of the arrest was brief on Russian state television. Reporter from the "Wall Street Journal" was arrested on suspicion of espionage for the United States, the news anchor announces, Evan Gershkovich, it reads, now faces 20 years in prison.

It was in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, 1,100 miles from Moscow, that Russia's federal security service former KGB say they terminated the illegal activity of the accredited journalist.

They claim he was on a mission from America to accumulate classified evidence on Russia's military industrial complex.

At a brief court appearance in Moscow, the case was designated top secret. And the 31 year old journalist was remanded in custody for nearly two months. A lawyer trying to represent Gershkovich says he was excluded from the proceedings.

DANIL BERMAN, LAWYER (through translator): I don't know how long it took three or 15 minutes, and that's it after that, I assume Evan has already been taken away from here. We don't know anything.

CHANCE (voice-over): The arrest comes against the backdrop of appalling U.S.-Russia relations with Washington leading international support for Ukraine against Russia's invasion. There's already one U.S. citizens jailed in Russia too, for espionage, Paul Whelan, detained in 2018 serving a 16-year sentence.

And it's been just a few months since U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner imprisoned in Moscow on contentious drug charges was swapped for notorious arms smuggler, Victor Boot, held for years in U.S. jail.

The Russian foreign ministry says there's no question of another prisoner swap at this time. "The Wall Street Journal" says it vehemently denies the allegations against their reporter and says they're seeking his immediate release. But Russian officials are doubling down.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): Under the cover of journalism, this person was involved in a completely different activity. There are lots of reports that he had accreditation. Therefore, he's a journalist. No, no, no. This is what he claims to be.

CHANCE (voice-over): It does not bode well for a case threatening to plunge U.S.-Russian relations to new debts and to ruin the life of this young American reporter.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


BRUNHUBER: Our Scott Mclean is keeping an eye on this story, and he joins us from London. So Scott, we've seen prisoner swaps with Russia before. Could we see one in this case?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, anything is possible at this point, Kim, I think what makes this case really remarkable is that this is the first time that an American journalist has been arrested in Russia on espionage charges since 1986 before the breakup of the Soviet Union.

In that case, the American, his name is Nick Daneloff (ph), worked for U.S. News and World Report, and he spent only weeks behind bars rather than months or years and part of the reason why is because he was able to be quickly swapped with a Russian who had been recently arrested in New York on espionage charges and after his release, Daneloff (ph), said that he would have spent a heck of a lot more time behind bars. were it not for the intervention and in his words very deep and personal interest of then U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The timing in the Gershkovich case is interesting here as well, because it comes just one week, less than one week, actually, since the U.S. announced that it had laid formal charges against a Russian citizen accused of spying in the United States years ago, whose name its Sergey Cherkasov when potential wrinkle in that case is that Cherkasov isn't actually in the United States right now. He is not in U.S. custody. He's actually incarcerated right now in Brazil, where he was arrested on fraud charges earlier.


The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, cough gave somewhat confusing answer when he was asked whether this was retaliation for the Cherkasov case, he said that it was too early to their -- he didn't give a direct answer on that, but said that in his view, Gershkovich was caught red handed. The Russian foreign ministry said that it was too early to discuss any kind of potential prisoner swap.

But this is all very complicated, you only have to look at the case of Paul Wheelan. His brother put out a statement yesterday who said that, look, his brother has been in jail in Russia on espionage charges for more than four years now, and in his view, the White House still does not seem to have found a way to resolve cases like his in cases involving Americans who have been accused of spying. His brother also said that Gershkovich case seems to fit this decades old pattern used by Russia, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Alright. Thanks so much Scott Mclean in London.

Turkey has approved Finland's bid to join NATO, after months of delays. Turkish parliament voted unanimously in favor of Finland's membership on Thursday, clearing the last hurdle for Helsinki. The vote fulfills a promise from Turkey's president not to oppose Finland's entry into the alliance. Turkey was the last of 30 countries to ratify Finland's membership.

Sweden has also applied to join the bloc, but Turkey and Hungary remain opposed to Sweden and Finland ended decades of non alignment in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Finland's president responded, saying, quote, "I want to thank every NATO member for their trust and support. Finland will be a strong and capable ally committed to the security of the alliance." And NATO's secretary general wrote, I welcome the vote of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey to complete the ratification of Finland's accession. This will make the whole NATO family stronger and safer.

In Ukraine, there has been a new barrage of rocket strikes on Zaporizhzhya, but no reports of casualties. Officials say the rock has caused a fire and damaged residential buildings just a little while ago. First responders are on the scene. Now, the east officials say Ukrainians repelled nearly 50 ground attacks across the Donetsk region on Thursday, but there were far fewer air and missile strikes than usual.

In Bakhmut, a local Ukrainian unit says Russian troops were pushed further away from a key access road but still under Russian fire.

We now want to take you to a Ukrainian town that's seen heavy Russian bombardment and drinking water has become hard to get. But as Ben Wedeman reports, residents can still carry on with some help from the outside.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without water, there is no life and the clean water pouring into the plastic jugs is a vital lifeline for people in the battered eastern Ukrainian town of Siversk, just six miles from Russian lines.

Retired building contractor Andre Anderson from Oregon is an unlikely carrier of water.

ANDRE ANDERSON, VOLUNTEER, AQUEDUCKS.ORG: It was just a calling that I couldn't refuse to do. I can't sit at home and allow this to happen without helping the people who need help. WEDEMAN (voice-over): He's part of the volunteer group called

Aqueducks, there is routine simple but essential.

ANDERSON: We turn up, they turn up with their little jugs, and we just fill up their jugs or the buckets or the cow pails. And they go away happy and we empty our tank, we drive home. And then we come back in the afternoon. We do the same thing and we repeat on every day.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): The few remaining in Sieversk tell the usual story, dogged attachment to their land and no other options.

How can I leave, asked Tanya. My son is buried here. And where would I go with my small pension?

Andre's colleague, Sylvia Pavesi from Austria was a tour guide.

Why are you doing this?

SYLVIA PACESI, VOLUNTEER, AQUEDUCKS.ORG: To help. Just the right thing to do.

WEDEMAN (voice-over): 73-year old Nicola appreciates the water but thirsts for quiet.

I'm fed up with his shelling. Nobody needs it, he says. What passes for daily life ended long ago. The center of Sieversk is a

wasteland. The early spring snow softens, but can't hide the jagged edges.

Andre shouts out water, voda in Ukrainian. Soon residents emerged from their basements, their bomb shelters.

(on-camera): Basic humanitarian services like this are critical. There hasn't been any running water or electricity since the beginning of the war.

(voice-over): With no end to this war in sight, they're resigned to a fate bleak.

It's fine, says Valentina. We put up with everything. What can we do?

Yet, 70-year old Nina despairs what has become of her town? What do we feel, she asked, pain, pain. When you see something destroyed you tear up we cry, we cry.

Battles now for they returned through streets cold, muddy and ravaged to their shelters.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Sieversk, Eastern Ukraine.



BRUNHUBER: The Pentagon says six U.S. service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after attacks by Iranian- backed groups in Syria. The spokesperson says all six are in stable condition, two have returned to duty. The drone attacks killed an American contractor in Syria last week. The U.S. launched retaliatory airstrikes, which the Pentagon says killed eight militants.

The United Kingdom is joining a major trans-pacific trade partnership. The British prime minister's office called it the biggest trade deal since BREXIT. The U.K. becomes the first new member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership since it was established in 2018. As part of the deal for more than 99 percent of exports, the 11-member states would be eligible for zero tariffs. The U.K. says the deal would support jobs and economic growth in the country.

Much more on the historic indictment of Donald Trump coming up after the break.

Just ahead, you'll hear what former vice president Mike Pence had to say about it in an exclusive interview. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to surrender next Tuesday in New York City after he was indicted on what sources say are more than 30 counts related to business fraud.

A few dozen supporters gathered outside Trump's Florida home after the news broke late Thursday. Details of the charges remain sealed. But at the heart of the matter is $130,000 of hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016, just days before the presidential election. Trump has denied knowing anything about the payment.

One of the Republicans coming to Trump's defense in the wake of the indictment is former Vice President Mike Pence. He spoke exclusively with our Wolf Blitzer earlier. Listen to this.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think the unprecedented indictment of the former president of the United States on a campaign finance issue is an outrage. And it appears to offer millions of Americans to be nothing more than a political prosecution that's driven by a prosecutor who literally ran for office on a pledge to indict the former president.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But it wasn't just Mr. Vice President, excuse me for interrupting. It wasn't just the prosecutor, the district attorney in New York who did this. This was a grand jury -- a grand jury of some 23 people and you need a

majority of 12 to go ahead and criminally indict.

PENCE: Well, I understand that and been a long time since I was in law school, Wolf. But I remember the old saying, you can indict a ham sandwich.



PENCE: The threshold, the burden of proof is very low. Prosecutors make decisions, discretionary decisions about what they bring all the time. Federal prosecutors passed on this. The Manhattan D.A. initially delayed it, passed on it.

But when you have an attorney general in New York and Manhattan D.A. that targeted one particular American in their campaigns, I think that offends the notion of the overwhelming majority of the American people who believe in fairness, who believe in equal treatment before the law. And this appears to be just one more example, Wolf, of the kind of two-tiered justice system that the American people have had enough of.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN HOST: Now for the latest, here's CNN's Alayna Treene in Washington.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: So, Trump's team is scrambling. They were totally caught off guard on Thursday. And even though they had been expecting a potential indictment for some time, they didn't think it was going to come this soon. Now, one of Trump's advisers told me shortly after the indictment that they were, quote, "blindsided by the timing." They believed, like much of the media have been reporting on Wednesday, that the grand jury would be breaking for the religious holidays and a potential indictment will then come until mid-April.

But in recent days, I'd argue that the Trump team had increasingly began to question whether the Manhattan district attorney's case was falling apart. We saw Donald Trump himself write on Truth -- write on Truth Social just hours before the indictment that he is, quote, "Gained such respect for the New York grand jury and believed that they were perhaps reconsidering an indictment," which obviously was not the case.

And just to take a step back, as much as we've seen Donald Trump lean into his own defense and try to project confidence that he'll come out on top at the end of this, including in the statement that he released shortly after learning of the indictment. This is really a jarring moment for him. He now has to go through the process of getting arrested and getting fingerprinted.

And while Trump himself and his team believe that indictment will ultimately help him politically, he doesn't want to be indicted. This is a point that his advisers have acknowledged to me over the past several weeks over and over again. It also reminds me of reporting I did on Donald Trump during impeachment. He did not want to have impeached president on his resume, regardless of how much it may have rallied his base behind him.

And regardless of whether his advisors and others thought that it would benefit him politically in the long run. Now what he is facing, though, is not an impeachment. It's a criminal indictment, and he's virtually no control over how this legal process will play out. Alayna Treene, CNN, Washington. BRUNHUBER: And for more on this, I want to bring in Ron Brownstein who's a CNN senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," and he joins me from Los Angeles. Ron, thanks so much for being here. You know, you and I, throughout this whole process have been kind of talking about how monumental, how historic this has been. But, you know, it actually being here now, sort of seeing this take place in real time here. Your reaction about the new waters were entering here politically and historically.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think the most important word there that you said Kim is entering because this is a dynamic process. The president, former president has been indicted. That is something we have never seen before in American history. It is something that we may see again in American history several more times before anybody goes to vote in the Republican caucuses and primaries next year.

And in many ways, this may be the least threatening of the legal nets that are tightening around him with a possible indictment by a county prosecutor in Georgia and, of course, two major investigations by federal investigator -- federal special counsel. So, we are very much at the beginning of the process and you have a lot of people making very confident pronouncements about how this is going to play out, and republicans' kind of erupting in outrage and insisting this makes it more likely that Donald Trump becomes the president again.

All of that, I think, is way premature because this may just be one strand of a much larger rope really that that is tightening around the former president.

BRUNHUBER: A noose, exactly. More consequential case is still to come. But how divisive will this be for the country do you think?

BROWNSEIN: Well, you know, look, you know we have seen America is deeply divided. And, you know, Trump did not -- these divisions predate Trump. We've kind of been heading in this direction. But he has intensified and deepened them. And there is a piece of the electorate that view -- that basically accepts his argument that he makes again as he made in Waco, he makes all the time, that they are going after me because they really want to silence you. That is -- that is a piece of the country.

But you know, there was an NPR/PBS/Marist Poll, national poll last week, which is very consistent with what we've seen before -- 56 percent of Americans said they believed the investigations into the former president are fundamentally fair.


There is a piece of the country that he has, you know, a very strong bond to who essentially accepts that argument that he is their champion, even their retribution as he has been putting it lately, but that is not a majority of the country. And I think most Americans -- for many Americans, for more Americans than his reflective defenders want to acknowledge, this is exactly the kind of turmoil and chaos and volatility that soured them on Trump, even in some cases if they were sympathetic to broadly to his policies.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. That's why, I mean, when you mentioned that his supporters say that this will likely help him in the sense that, you know, it might make him a president. Probably not president, it might help him win the Republican nomination. So, ultimately, this might politically help Donald Trump, but hurt the Republican Party. Is that right?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, that is the conundrum, right? I mean, by everyone -- almost everyone in the Republican Party has locked arms around him. You only hear very few voices. Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, who is a former federal prosecutor, saying, let the process play out. You know, he has been indicted. We have to respect the legal process. Chris Christie, who's also a former federal prosecutor, has said something like that.

But the vast majority of Republicans who have spoken have been preemptively condemning this investigation and kind of writing it off. They may have to do that three more times over the course of this year, if, in fact, Georgia and the special counsel move forward with potential indictments. And all of this, I think, locking arms around him does at least in the near term, strengthen his position in the Republican primary.

But I think it is wishful thinking on the part of Trump defenders to believe that this would help him in a general election. You know, in that poll I mentioned, 70 percent of college educated voters who were the same voters that recoil from the Republican Party in '18,'20, and '22 in the Trump era, said that they believe that these investigations are fair and roughly, 70 percent said they do not want Trump to be president again.

I can't see any way in which multiple indictments helps him in a general election and maybe ultimately, and even in a Republican primary, but certainly in the near term, in part because of this chorus of the party leaders basically dismissing this out of hand, it may make it more likely may solidify his position in this Republican race.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. And, you know, we only have about 30 seconds, but we look at it often from the Republican point of view, but for Democrats, I mean, they must be sort of a bit, you know, wringing their hands here in a way. I mean, what would it be like running against the presidential candidate who's on trial?

BRONWSTEIN: Right. Well, look, I mean, certainly many Democrats will say privately that they wish one of the other indictments on the weightier charges of trying to overthrow the election and the mishandling of classified documents had come first. I don't think there are many Democrats who think this is the most serious accusation against Donald Trump.

But again, this may ultimately be subsumed within those larger challenges down the road, and the likelihood is that votes -- for the voters who recoiled from Trump even if they liked his policies, as Mike DuHaime, who is a senior Republican strategist and adviser to Chris Christie pointed out tonight in a tweet, this is exactly what causes them to hesitate about, you know, entrusting him with the authority of the presidency again.

And the Republicans maybe in this kind of very difficult situation where he is being strengthened as a primary candidate and weakened simultaneously as a potential general election candidate.

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. A real paradox there. Listen, we'll be talking about this, I'm sure, no doubt, throughout the week. Appreciate getting your perspective on this. Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles. Thank you so much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me. Yeah.

BRUNHUBER: All right, coming up. A jury decides who was at fault for a ski accident involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow in 2016. We have the verdict ahead.

Plus, signs of progress as Pope Francis remains in the hospital receiving treatment for a respiratory infection. We'll give you an update on the 86-year-old pontiff's health. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: A jury in Utah has found actress Gwyneth Paltrow not liable for a ski accident back in 2016. Terry Sanderson sued the Oscar winning actress over injuries he said he suffered when the two collided at a ski resort. The jury deliberated for a little over two hours before returning with a verdict in favor of Paltrow. CNN's Veronica Miracle has the latest.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gwyneth Paltrow was stoic when she found out that she won her case and that the jury was awarding her that symbolic $1 in damages that she was seeking. The jury deliberated for less than three hours and they found that the man who accused Paltrow of crashing into him and causing him a lasting brain injury was actually at fault.

This case was really a he said, she said situations. Both sides completely argued two different stories. The plaintiff, Terry Sanderson, said Paltrow skied into him causing lasting injuries, including brain damage and broken ribs and then skied off. He was suing her for $3.2 million in damages.

Paltrow claimed Sanderson skied into her. She countersued for a symbolic $1 in damages and one. After the verdict was read, the two had a brief interaction. Here's what Sanderson says unfolded.


TERRY SANDERSON, SUED GWYNETH PALTROW: Her exact words, I wish you well. Very kind of her.

UNKNOWN: That's all she said?

SANDERSON: That's all she said.

UNKNOWN: Okay. And did you respond?

SANDERSON: I said, thank you dear.


MIRACLE: Paltrow said in a statement that, "I felt that acquiescing to a false claim compromised my integrity," end quote. Her attorney said she is very happy with the outcome.


STEVE OWENS, GWYNETH PALTROW'S ATTORNEY: We're pleased with this outcome and appreciate the judge and jury's thoughtful handling of this case. Gwyneth has a history of advocating for what she believes in. This situation was no different and she will continue to stand for what she believes is right.


MIRACLE: Local observers packed the courtroom today after many moments during the week-long plus trial went viral all over the world. Veronica Miracle, CNN, Park City, Utah.

BRUNHUBER: The Vatican says that Pope Francis' health is improving and that he could leave the hospital within the next few days. He's been treated for bronchitis after being admitted to the hospital on Wednesday. Barbie Nadeau is live from Rome. So, some good news there, Barbie. What's the latest on his health?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we hear from Vatican sources he had another restful night inside the hospital, the Gemelli Hospital, that -- which is where he has a private suite, where the popes often stay when they're sick. We heard last night that he was responding well to the antibiotic treatment, which he is receiving by IV and that he should be, as you said, out in a couple of days.

So, we -- everybody's waiting to see if that actually happens. He's 86-years-old and isn't in great health, but let's hope that he does remake the speedy recovery, Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Absolutely. And just, you know, Barbie, the timing of his illness is unfortunate. Easter Week, the most important Catholic period in Rome, as you know, traditionally really a busy time for the pope.

NADEAU: That's right. And you know, he would normally celebrate Palm Sunday Mass. And I think it will take divine intervention to get him behind the pulpit that day. But we don't know for sure exactly what's going to happen because this coming Sunday kicks off this very intensive week on the Catholic calendar.

Normally, the pope makes a number of public appearances and it culminates in this beautiful Easter Sunday mass in St. Peter's Square.


But everyone is just waiting to see how he is, if he's going to be able to attend any of those events or celebrate any of those. And, you know, as you said, the timing is very bad for him ahead of this, but the thing that's most important, I think for Catholics around the world is that he makes a full recovery whether he presides over Easter Sunday or not, Kim?

BRUNHUBER: Yeah. That's exactly right. Catholics holding their breath. Barbie Nadeau, in Rome. Thank you so much.

Britain's King Charles is closing out his inaugural state visit to Germany. He became the first British monarch to address the German parliament on Thursday. Speaking in both English and German, Charles paid tribute to the longstanding ties between the two countries.

Later today, Charles and Queen Consort Camilla will travel to Hamburg. They're set to participate in a short remembrance ceremony at St. Nicolai Memorial. The church was heavily damaged during World War II.

Former President Jair Bolsonaro is back in Brazil for the first time since violent riots in the nation's capital. Bolsonaro's been in self- imposed exile in Florida for three months after losing last year's presidential election. Stefano Pozzebon reports.

STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Hundreds of supporters waited since the early hours to see the former president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, making his return to the country on Thursday. But the far-right leader only made a brief appearance in front of his party's headquarters before heading in for a day of meetings.

Bolsonaro said he does not need to lead the opposition against the current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but his presence in the country alone gave his supporters a figure to rally around.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): The right never had a political leader. The right was always fending for itself. And today we have the best leader and I believe it's the best international leader. I am in love with Trump as well. But Bolsonaro has surpassed Trump now.


POZZEBON: While Bolsonaro's party commands an influential presence in Congress, his political future remains in the balance. The former army captain faces a barrage of investigations spanning from his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic to his role in the events that led up to the riots on January 8th here in the Brazilian capital.

Just next week, Bolsonaro has been summoned by the police as part of an investigation into undeclared jewelry gift from Saudi Arabia during his presidency. For CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Brasilia.

BRUNHUBER: Mexico will compensate the families who lost loved ones in a fire at one of its immigrant detention centers. Monday's blaze killed 39 people in Ciudad Juarez near the U.S. border. Mexico's president says detainees started the fire to protest their deportation back to their home countries. The incident highlights the dire situation Mexican border cities, which are inundated with migrants sent back from the U.S.

Local officials say at least 35 people are dead after falling into an intricate well at a Hindu temple in central India. Crowds were at a temple celebrating a religious holiday. Officials say the floor covering of the step well, which has stairs leading down to the water, collapsed due to a heavy load. Sixteen people were also injured in the collapse, and one person is still missing. Prime minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences to the victims and their families and officials said that they would receive compensation.

In the hours ahead, Taiwan's president will head to Guatemala after a brief trip to New York. The visit that has infuriated Beijing. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Tsai Ing-wen's stopover in the U.S. seriously violated the One China principle and seriously damaged China's sovereignty. Here she is.


MAO NING, SPOKESPERSON, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translation): China firmly opposes any form of official interaction between the United States and the Taiwan region. We firmly oppose any visit by the leader of the Taiwan authorities to the U.S. in any name or under whatever pretext.


BRUNHUBER: Taiwan's president is also planning the stop in the U.S. again after her official visit to Central America.

All right. Still ahead, the investigation into the fatal crash of two U.S. military helicopters. We'll have the latest on that. And grief in Nashville, Tennessee after the deaths of three children and three adults in a mass shooting on Monday at an elementary school. Coming up, we'll have chilling new details of the attack.



BRUNHUBER: A team of u. S military investigators has arrived at the site where two Blackhawk helicopters crashed in Kentucky late Wednesday. Investigators continued to work into the night on Thursday, trying to determine what caused the crash. All nine soldiers on board the two choppers were killed. CNN's Dianne Gallagher has more now from southern Kentucky.


DIANNE GALAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fort Campbell, the home of the 101st Airborne Division in mourning. Nine of their own killed when two Blackhawk helicopters crashed over neighboring Trigg County, Kentucky after a routine training mission late Wednesday night.

JOHN LUBAS, DEPUTY COMMNADER OF OPERATIONS, 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION: I would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families of our fallen soldiers.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Debris from the helicopters can be seen in photos from near the crash site where investigators from an aircraft safety team out of Fort Rucker, Alabama will now be tasked with determining the cause of the crash.

LUBAS: They do have something very similar to the black boxes that we see on the larger aircraft. And we're hopeful that that will provide quite a bit of information of what occurred.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): CNN learning there were originally four aircraft on the exercise, with one stopping to refuel, leaving one Blackhawk flying ahead of the two helicopters that crashed. One had four service members on board, the other five. Brigadier General John Lubas saying Thursday that the crews were training on flying a multi- ship formation with night vision goggles, adding that the helicopters were training for medical evacuations.

LUBAS: We believe that there were -- the action occurred when they were doing flying, not deliberate, medical evacuation drills.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): A witness in Trigg County describing the crash to WKDZ Radio.

JAMES HUGHES, WITNESS: Two helicopters came over pretty low and all of a sudden, you know, as soon as they got over the house something popped, loud, loud, bang and everything shut down just all of a sudden.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin releasing a statement Thursday afternoon, saying, "I'm saddened by this tragic loss, and I am working with army leadership to make sure our troops and their families receive the care that they need in the wake of this accident."

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear rushing to Fort Campbell Thursday morning, offering support to the military community.

ANDY BESHEAR, GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: We're going to wrap our arms around these families. And we're going to be there with them, not just for the days, but the weeks and the months and the years to come.

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Diane Gallagher, CNN, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.


BRUNHUBER: Newly released audio from emergency calls provides a tragic glimpse of the moments around Monday's deadly mass shooting at an elementary school in Nashville. The pastor of the private Christian school phoned emergency services himself after learning about the shooting. Chad Scruggs had been getting calls from inside the school. He was on his way to the scene when a police dispatcher warned him it

might be too dangerous for him to go there. There's no indication on the call or audio that Scruggs knew his daughter had been shot. Nine- year-old Hallie Scruggs was killed in the shooting. CNN's Carlos Suarez has the latest on the investigation from Nashville.


UNKNOWN: We simply hear gunshots.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New 911 calls released from inside the Covenant school as shots were being fired.

UNKNOWN: Yes, I hear another shot.

UNKNOWN: You did?

UNKNOWN: I'm hearing more shots. Yes, please hurry. I'm hearing more shots.

UNKNOWN: They're coming. They're coming. Just try to stay quiet. I don't know what's going on there.

UNKNOWN: Okay, be quiet.

SUAREZ (voice-over): A Nashville City council member tells CNN he's been told the FBI will review a notebook that was left behind by 28- year-old Audrey Hale. And that once that review is complete, the writings should be made public. The development comes as we learn more about the efforts to prevent the tragedy. CNN obtained audio of a call made by Hale's former teammate calling for help.

UNKNONW: I received a very, very weird message from a friend on Instagram. I think it was like a suicidal thing.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Averianna Patton received messages on Instagram from Hale less than 20 minutes before the shooting. According to Patton at around 9:57 in the morning Hale wrote, quote, "Something bad is about to happen."


During the call, Patton is heard saying she first called a suicide prevention hotline at 10:13 in the morning, was passed on to the Sheriff's Department, then to a non-emergency line before finally getting a hold of someone at 10:21 in the morning when the shooting was already underway.

UNKNOWN: I'm just trying to see can anybody, I just don't want it on my conscience if somebody can go check on her. Only thing I have is her Instagram.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Between the first call of a shooter incident at about 10:13 in the morning to when the shooter was killed, 911 received 39 emergency calls, 23 of those related to the shooting according to the Metro Nashville Department of Emergency Communications. We spoke with Hales former teacher who said she noticed Hale appeared to be grieving the death of a friend over the last year.

MARIA COLOMY, HALE'S FORMER TEACHER AT NOSSI COLLEGE: And in the grieving process, there is a part of it that's anger and rage, and she may not have known that.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Hale took six lives on Monday. Three nine-year- old children, a substitute teacher, custodian, and the head of the Covenant school, Katherine Koonce, who may have died trying to protect the children. A funeral for Evelyn Dieckhaus is set for Friday afternoon at Woodmont Christian Church according to the senior pastor, Clay Stauffer.

Those attending are asked to wear pink or bright spring colors instead of black. Another funeral will be held on Saturday for Hallie Scruggs at Covenant Presbyterian Church where her father is the lead pastor.

(On camera): At least three 911 calls were released on Thursday. We're told that the FBI is still going through the shooter's notebook and that any information related to a motive or the writings that were left behind by the shooter will not be released this week. Carlos Suarez, CNN, Nashville, Tennessee.


BRUNHUBER: Rural authorities are on the scene of a train derailment in rural Minnesota, which forced hundreds of residents to temporarily evacuate their homes. Several tanker cars carrying flammable ethanol caught fire and continue to burn throughout the day after the train jumped the tracks early Thursday.

Officials are especially concerned that other cars carrying ethanol might also catch fire. And local fire crews will remain on the scene. Now, no injuries were reported in the accident. The mandatory evacuation order was eventually lifted about midday.

All right, that wraps this hour of "CNN Newsroom." I'm Kim Brunhuber. Bianca Nobilo picks up our coverage after a break. Please do stay with CNN.