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Six Presumed Dead Following Bridge Collapse; U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Abortion Pill; Kenya's Doomsday Cult; City Officials And Faith Leaders Hold Vigil For Victims Of The Baltimore Bridge Collapse; Sean Diddy Combs' Lawyer Says the Rapper Innocent And Calls The Investigation A "Witch Hunt". Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 27, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. Shifting from rescue to recovery. Authorities say they are putting their best effort forward to find the missing victims of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore.

Plus, reshaping abortion access. The U.S. Supreme Court must now decide whether to ban a commonly used abortion drug after hearing oral arguments on Tuesday.

And the massacre that shocked the world. Hundreds of victims found in connection with Kenya's doomsday cult. Now the bodies are finally being released to the families.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for six people missing after the collapse of the Key Bridge in Baltimore, Maryland. They were construction workers repairing potholes on the bridge when it was hit by a container ship and crumbled into the water early Tuesday. Two people were pulled alive from the river. One unhurt, the other in serious condition. He is this state's governor.


WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: It's a really heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day. We put every single asset possible. Air, land and sea assets to bring to add to the member survivability for these families. While even though we're moving on now to a -- to a recovery mission, we're still fully committed to making sure that we're going to use every single asset to now bring a sense of closure to the families.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Investigators want to know what caused the giant ship to lose power with lights flickering, and black smoke billowing from the vessel before it hit the bridge. Shipping officials say the pilot did everything he could including dropping the anchor to try to avoid the collision.

State and federal officials say there's no indication the crash was intentional. Investigators are expected to board the ship and the day ahead to speak with the crew and recover the voyage data recorder. More now from CNN's Brian Todd.


MOORE: This is -- this is a -- not just -- not just unprecedented from what we're seeing and what we're looking at today. It's heartbreaking.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the middle of the 1- 1/2-mile-long Francis Scott Key Bridge plunged 185 feet into Baltimore's Patapsco River early Tuesday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be advised the entire bridge, the entire key bridge the harbor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't get to the other side of the bridge, sir. The bright is down. We're going to have to get somebody on the other side Anne Arundel County MSP to get up here and stop traffic coming northbound on the key bridge.

TODD (voice-over): A containership billowing dark smoke was moving at about eight knots near the bridge when the ship lost power according to Maryland's Governor. Before the bridge collapsed at 1:27 in the morning, the ship's crew called in a mayday when it became clear there'd be a collision despite having dropped its anchor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need one of you guys on the south side, one of you guys on the north side, hold all traffic on the key bridge. There's a ship approaching that just lost their steering.

TODD (voice-over): A move official say save lives.

MOORE: We're thankful that between the mayday and collapse that we had officials who were able to begin to stop the flow of traffic so more cars were not up on the bridge.

Many of the vehicles were stopped before they got onto the bridge which save lives.

TODD (voice-over): National Transportation Safety Board and FBI teams are on the sea.

JENNIFER HOMENDY, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION BOARD CHAIR: We are standing back to allow the Coast Guard and search and rescue to continue their search and rescue operations.

TODD (voice-over): Authorities on the ground say they have a tough task ahead. CHIEF JAMES WALLACE, BALTIMORE CITY FIRE DEPARTMENT: The bridge itself it does present a challenge. It presents a challenge as we navigate on the surface. But more likely a greater challenge is subsurface and underwater.

TODD (voice-over): In addition to a search from the air, officials had about 50 divers operating in the harbor hours after the bridge came down.

WALLACE: The water is frigid here right now. We believe this to be about a 60-foot dive makes this -- makes this an extraordinarily difficult challenge for our teams.


TODD (on camera): Officials have said they have tracked a few vehicles that they believe fell into the water from the bridge and you can see the distance if they might have dropped from the height of the bridge there into the water. It's going to take days just to get floating cranes and other heavy equipment here in order to start the salvaging operations. And in order to remove some of the remnants of the bridge here.

And once they get here, they have to chop these remnants of the bridge into smaller pieces just to remove them.

TODD (voice-over): President Biden says he's directing federal resources to help with recovery and rebuilding.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm directing my team of heaven and earth to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge. As soon as you know only possible.

TODD (on camera): All major ship traffic coming into and out of Baltimore Harbor has now been halted indefinitely, and that's going to cause significant economic disruptions. One example over here there's a vessel that carries cars and light trucks into the Port of Baltimore. That vessel now cannot move. Baltimore is a major harbor for handling the transport of cars and light trucks into the United States.

This processed about 850,000 vehicles last year. That's all come to a sudden stop.

Brian Todd, CNN in Baltimore Harbor.


CHURCH: Singapore says it will launch its own investigation into the container ship DALI which crashed into the Key Bridge. CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Hong Kong. He joins me now. So, Ivan, what more are you learning about the Singaporean-owned container ship at the center of this deadly bridge collapse and the 22 Indian crew members on board at the time?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the DALI is this Singapore-flagged, a container ship built in 2015 and operated by a Singaporean company called Synergy. To give you a sense of the scale. It's a -- just under 300 meters long. And I'm here in the port of Hong Kong to give you a sense or viewers of just how gargantuan these containerships can be.

This one that we're looking owned and operated by different companies is about 360, 370 meters long, maybe 70 meters longer than the one involved in this deadly accident. You can see that it is loaded with five, six containers high on top of the decks. The DALI at the time of the deadly collision had more than 4600 containers on board according to the management company and could have been carrying up to 10,000 containers.

That's just to give you a sense of how much cargo these things can carry. Now people are going to be looking at its safety record. As recently as September of last year, the U.S. Coast Guard inspected the DALI and found no deficiencies with it. However, in June of last year, authorities in Chile, they inspected the DALI and they did find a deficiency that they reported saying there were structural conditions, sorry, that there was a deficiency involving propulsion, and auxiliary machinery, gauges, thermometers, et cetera.

So, propulsion is part of what led to the accident in Baltimore. It'll be important to see if there could have been any connection whatsoever between what was going on in June and what happened in Baltimore this week. There was also a record of something taking place a collision in November of 2016, involving the DALI. Other issues to look at are deadly incidents involving ships -- other ships managed by the Singaporean company Synergy because we've been able to track down that there were at least three deadly incidents involving this company's ships since 2018.

A crew member dying aboard one ship off the coast of Australia due to an elevator accident in 2018. In 2019, an officer went missing and likely fell overboard. That was in Singapore. And then there was a collision in 2023 between a tanker ship operated by synergy and a barge from the Philippines. Now to give some more context here, there is another container over here in the port of Hong Kong and it is right next to a suspension bridge.

That's bridge -- stone cutters bridge sort of get into a busy port like this. Ships like this have to pass under bridges. The Francis Scott Key bridge was constructed at the end of the 1970s. Industry insiders say that container ships of this size simply didn't exist in those days. They had not been built to the size of ships like that which is 400 meters long. If you lay a skyscraper sideways that would be 70, 80, 90-storey building.

There have been precedent -- there has been precedent for collisions. In fact, just last month, up the Pearl River from where I'm floating right now, a Chinese barge hit a bridge in the city of Guangzhou. Now that accident involved a smaller ship -- a smaller segment of the bridge collapsed.

[02:10:06] A least five people were killed. There were several vehicles that went hurtling off the bridge landing on the boat or in the water. And that happened on February 22nd. So, apparently this is a growing concern when it comes to vital international shipping.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Ivan Watson joining us there from near Hong Kong. Well, another major abortion decision looms for the U.S. Supreme Court after hearing arguments and a case over access to the pill Mifepristone. It is the primary drug use for medication abortions. While a ruling is not expected for months, a majority of justices already appear skeptical of a nationwide ban or new limits on the pill.

CNN's Paula Reid has details from Washington.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hundreds of protesters gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court as the justices considered the most significant abortion case simply overturn Roe v. Wade.

This case focuses on expanded access to Mifepristone. One of two drugs typically used in the process known as medication abortion, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of abortions in the U.S. But during Tuesday's arguments, a majority of the justices appeared likely to maintain the expanded access to the drug which was first approved by the FDA in 2000.

NEIL GORSUCH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: We've had one might call it a rash of universal injunctions or vacatures. And this case seems like a prime example of turning what could be a small lawsuit into a nationwide legislative assembly on an FDA rule or any other federal government action.

REID (voice-over): Shortly after Roe is overturned, a conservative group of anti-abortion doctors and advocates sued the FDA over its approval of Mifepristone. The case now focuses on FDA approval of expanded access to the drug.


REID (voice-over): But during the hearing, justices from across the ideological spectrum press the group challenging the drug as to whether it had standing or the right to bring the case asking their lawyer about what harm the group faced.

ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: May I ask, Miss Hawley about your basic theory of standing? I mean, you're just saying even FDA admits that there are going to be some adverse events, people are going to show up in emergency rooms, people are going to come face to face with one of our doctors who objects to some aspect of the treatment.

BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: Just to confirm on the standing issue under federal law, no doctors can be forced against their consciences to perform or assist in an abortion, correct?

REID (voice-over): And Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson pressed on why the group believes restricting everyone's access to the drug is necessary, given the doctors can raise religious objections under federal law.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT: I mean, it makes perfect sense for the individual doctors to seek an exemption. But as I understand it, they already had that. And so, what they're asking for here is that in order to prevent them from possibly ever having to do these kinds of procedures, everyone else should be prevented from getting access to this medication. So, why isn't that cleanly overbroad scope of the remedy, the end of this case?

REID (on camera): We expect this decision to come in late June, which will of course be the heart of the presidential campaign season. Now whatever the justice is designed here could potentially be a factor in that critical race. Since Roe was overturned the Democrats have used the abortion issue to galvanize other supporters, or as former President Trump who has taken credit for roe being overturned has also said look when it comes to Republicans, there needs to be some concessions on this issue because, "we need to win elections."

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Joining me now is Lindy Lee. A political strategist and women's cochair at the Democratic National Committee. I appreciate you being with us.

LINDY LI, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Rosemary, thank you for having me.

CHURCH: So, in the biggest abortion case since the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade in 2022, justices are considering the fate of a widely used abortion pill Mifepristone after hearing oral arguments for and against a nationwide ban and most justices appear skeptical of the ban but what was your reading of their reaction and what's at stake here?


LI: Well, I'm horrified that it's got -- gotten to this point in the first place, right? And let's think about it. The Supreme Court curtails access to the commonly used abortion pill. They just wouldn't empower medically unqualified judges or not obstetricians who are not gynecologist for medically licensed professionals in any way to arbitrarily remove other drugs to the market, it may not just be the abortion pill.

This would set a highly dangerous precedent for everyone and ignite a treacherous slippery slope. What's to stop anyone in rogue plaintiffs from going after other drugs that might offend their religious or political sensibilities in some other way? And also, from a technical standpoint, if companies can't rest assured the FDA approval is here to stay. It's especially after 20 years of studies and trials and being proven safe and effective, then why would companies invest billions of dollars in years and sometimes even decades and to developing these extremely expensive and groundbreaking new drugs?

And drugs have to undergo extensive studies and trials in the abortion pill, in particular, has withstood and survived decades of scrutiny. And has been proven safe and effective time and time again. And I think it's just unconscionable that six religious extremists on the Supreme Court get to decide and they don't have medical degrees. And why are we going to allow them to have three decades of scientific research in the very same court that are very demolished women's reproductive rights and are ready snatched away or bodily autonomy.

CHURCH: And --

LI: So, it's --

CHURCH: Right. And, of course, medication, abortion accounts for roughly two-thirds of all U.S. abortions. So, could this abortion pill case before the Supreme Court handed the Democrats another big election opportunity, no matter which way this goes.

LI: Rosemary, you bring up a really good point because women are paying attention. And Republicans told us explicitly that they will leave abortion to the states. They lied. They told us that they wouldn't ban the abortion pill. They lied. Now they're launching themselves against birth control too. Republicans will stop at nothing to control women and keep us barefoot and pregnant. And misogyny reigns supreme on Trump's Supreme Court.

This is the call of Donald Trump. He's the one who appointed a third of this Supreme Court. He's repeatedly shown breathtaking malice against women, especially those who dare to criticize him and who has he himself has been held sexually liable for sexual abuse and for repeatedly, and shamelessly defaming his victim to the tune of $83 million. This is the guy whose Supreme Court is now policing our bodies. And is anyone surprised that the party he now leads is waging an all-out war against women.

CHURCH: And the Supreme Court decision on this abortion pill is expected around late June. What do you think the court will do?

LI: As you mentioned at the top of this segment, they seem skeptical, but I don't want to -- this Supreme Court has been very capricious in the past. And the truth of the matter is that abortion will never go away, right? No matter how hard Republicans try. And no matter how right-wing Supreme Court justices are. Women will always find a way. Abortion will always be around as it has been for thousands of years.

The question is whether women will die or suffer grievously in order to get one. And blood is on the hands of these right-wing provocateur who seek to police our bodies and deprive us of our freedom to make our own medical decisions, it -- which is a sacred right to us all.

CHURCH: Lindy Li, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

LI: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And still to come. A strong message from Washington as top U.S. officials meet with the Israeli Defense Minister amid growing tensions between the two countries.

Plus, unending grief in Kenya as families wait for the bodies of their loved ones to be returned to them. The latest on the mass starvation cult killings just ahead.



CHURCH: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has been attending back- to-back meetings with top U.S. officials in Washington amid escalating tensions between the two countries. He's believed to have met CIA director Bill Burns Tuesday night after talks with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier in the day. Austin urged Israel to urgently ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza telling Gallant that the number of casualties is "far too high and the amount of humanitarian aid far too low and the situation is getting worse."

A U.S. official says Austin also discussed alternative options for Israel's proposed ground operation in Rafah. Hamas is calling on countries to end "offensive airdrops in Gaza." This comes after Palestinian paramedics say at least 12 people drowned while trying to retrieve aid packages from the sea.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has details but a warning her story contains graphic images.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As they spot a plane and the aid begins to drop, they run as fast as they can. It's the rush of a people so desperate, so hungry, who would do anything to feed their children, now on the brink of starvation. This is what survival in Gaza has come to, fighting for food, that little bit of aid that makes it into the north, where manmade famine now looms.

People chase parachutes that fell into these choppy waters. It is desperation that drives them into the sea. What you're about to see next is disturbing. It's the reality of a war growing more cruel by the day. The fastest, the fittest emerged with boxes of American- issued meals ready to eat. Others didn't make it out alive. People gather around the thin, frail body of a man who drowned trying to reach that aid. Twelve people drowned, according to paramedics.

The parachutes fell into the water, Abu Hammad (ph) says, but people went to eat. They went into the water and drowned. The current was so strong, they didn't know how to swim. It's what you do when you have nothing left to lose. Iman (ph) goes in swimming to get food for his children. He returns dead. This man says, bring us aid through the land crossings. Our children are dying. We are dying. What are you doing? Where is the world?

The world has been piling up life-saving aid into trucks stuck at land crossings. Seemingly powerless in the face of Israel that's accused of using starvation as a weapon in this war. A charge it denies. Forcing the International Community to resort to dropping aid from the sky. Several countries carried out aid drops on this day, deliveries that have been criticized for being ineffective, insufficient, and unsafe.

Earlier this month, another air drop disaster, when a parachute failed and eight packages came crashing down, killing at least five people. It's a war that's testing humanity. And many say this is what failure looks like.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


CHURCH: Kenyan authorities have begun to return the bodies of starvation cult victims back to their families. Those bodies were recovered from mass graves in the Shalahola forest. They were victims of a deadly Christian cult led by pastor who convinced many of them to starve themselves to reach salvation. Others were bludgeoned to death.


Forensic experts and volunteers have exhuming bodies, and they're warning more horrors are likely to come.


IRUNGU HOUGHTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL KENYA: Four hundred and twenty-nine bodies have been identified so far. With the Phase Five exhibition that's about to happen we suspect that that number may go up by several hundreds. If we put those figures together it -- this single massacre, this mass crime, probably has combined more deaths than several terrorist attacks that we've seen.


CHURCH: David McKenzie is following this story from Johannesburg. He joins us now. So, David, as Kenyan authorities begin the process of releasing the bodies of victims of this starvation cult back to their families. What more are you learning?

DAVE MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, this has been a case that has shocked Kenya in fact, the world. It's one of the worst cases of a mass cult death like this or suicide and many decades, in fact, and we were there several months ago in Kenya to report on the story. Here are some of the moments when these bodies were released to the family.

You just see the emotion and the desperation and you hear it from these family members, as they received the bodies. Some of them in such a state that they can only be identified through DNA processing. And many of the families are too ashamed or too scared to go to the morgue and Malindi to collect those bodies from the authorities and it is a slow process. Only 34 bodies out of hundreds have been identified and matched with family members.

We spoke to Francis Wanje. I met him some months ago. He was one of the first people to be able to organize a private rescue because there were rumors about this cult in the forest. Authorities did nothing really to solve the situation. Here's Francis.


FRANCIS WANJE, FAMILY MEMBER OF VICTIMS: Just been a very tough journey from last year to now. A very tough one. Fortunately, I am saying I'm happy that I've got the loved ones. Now we are preparing to go and bury so that now can start another journey of forgetting about this.


MCKENZIE: Well, there's been scathing reports of after an investigation by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights calling the security forces reaction to these initial rumors of a cult in the forest. A gross abdication of duty and negligence. As you heard there from the head of Amnesty International in Kenya, they are going to continue with exhumations in the head. More than 600 people were missing at the start of this tragedy. And I fear that it will get just so much worse, Rosemary.

CHURCH: David McKenzie joining us live from Johannesburg. Many thanks.

All right. Time for a short break now. When we come back, what the families of those working on Baltimore's key bridge is saying about Tuesday's collapse?



CHURCH: In the coming hours, authorities in the U.S. state of Maryland will resume their recovery efforts after the bridge collapsed in Baltimore. The massive cargo ship which struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge early Tuesday was leaving port when it lost power and careened into one of the bridges support columns, sending people and vehicles into the frigid water below. Two people were rescued, six others believed to be from a construction crew are presumed dead.

The recovery operations were suspended overnight. Officials say they're concerned about the structural integrity of what's left of the bridge, the hazards posed by the debris and poor visibility in the water.

Faith leaders and Baltimore city officials held a prayer vigil for the families of those missing in the bridge collapse. And we're getting firsthand accounts of the tragedy from eyewitnesses. CNN's Danny Freeman has details.


DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early Tuesday afternoon, I had the chance to actually speak with a number of people who said they had family members who were on this bridge early Tuesday morning when it collapsed into the water. They were incredibly distressed, incredibly upset, but at the time, they were still hoping for good news.

Of course, you can imagine that this news that this has turned into a recovery effort, incredibly devastating.

Those family members who we spoke to said that the ones who were working on this bridge worked for Brawner Builders, that's a local construction company, really just about five miles down the road from this location. Brawner Builders declined to comment to CNN when we reached them earlier in the day.

The first woman we spoke with said that she actually had two immediate family members who were working on that bridge and who were missing at the time. She didn't want to give us their names at the time. But she did say that she had an uncle who worked for this company for many, many years and frankly, loved working for the company and loved working for this construction business.

We also met two other women who said that they were family members of actually one of the two survivors of the incident that happened behind me early Tuesday morning, who was actually released from the hospital.

However, while I asked how is that family member doing, they responded, still not OK. You can imagine the mental and emotional stress that he must be going through.

In fact, the Maryland Governor actually told CNN that one of the men who survived is going through shock trauma therapy after those particular incidents.

Now, I should note, the Maryland Secretary of Transportation, after all of this noted that these men who were working on this project behind me on this bridge, they were not doing large infrastructure projects out here. They were actually out there filling potholes and just doing routine maintenance.

So, again, it all just adds to an already tragic story. An already tragic situation for a community that has been through quite a lot this week.

Danny Freeman, I'm outside Baltimore, CNN.


CHURCH: Less than three weeks before the start of Donald Trump's first criminal trial. The hush money case, a judge has forbidden him from making statements about most of the people involved in that trial, including the porn star at the center of it and Trump's former lawyer and fixer who are both expected to be witnesses.

A New York judge issued the gag order Tuesday noting that the former U.S. president has a history of going after people at all levels of the justice system, even jurors.

Judge Juan Merchan said, and I'm quoting, these extra judicial statements went far beyond defending himself against attacks by public figures. Indeed, his statements were threatening, inflammatory and denigrating. Judges in other Trump cases have issued similar gag orders.

Well, now to a moment of truth for Trump's Truth Social or is it? The parent company behind his social media platform surged as it went public Tuesday, climbing all the way to $78.00 per share on the NASDAQ before dropping to 58.


But experts warned the stock is extremely overvalued, saying its staggering multibillion dollar valuation is likely a flash in the pan. Truth Social has been racking up huge losses, and as of last month, only had some 494,000 active monthly mobile users.

Trump's dominance stake was worth nearly $5 billion at the closing bell. However, lock up restrictions mean he likely cannot sell or borrow against his shares anytime soon.

London's high court has paused extradition proceedings for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In a ruling Tuesday, the court gave the U.S. three weeks to make assurances concerning Assange's first amendment rights and to confirm he would not receive the death penalty. Assange has been in the U.K. for more than a decade. His wife remains supportive outside the hearing.


STELLA ASSANGE, JULIAN ASSANGE'S WIFE: Julian is a political prisoner. He is a journalist and he is being persecuted because he exposed the true cost of war and human lives.


CHURCH: Assange faces an 18 count indictment in the U.S. dating back to 2010 when he began publishing large amounts of classified documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still to come, an attorney for rap mogul Sean Combs is blasting the search of the rapper's homes and he's calling a federal investigation of Combs a witch hunt, more details after the break.


CHURCH: An attorney for embattled media mogul Sean Diddy Combs says his client is the target of a witch hunt. Sources tell CNN Combs was heading off on a spring break trip with his teenage daughters when federal agents searched his two homes. And while it's unclear where Combs is right now, his attorney says he is innocent and will fight the allegations. CNN's Josh Campbell reports.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sean Diddy Combs music mogul. Now the target of a federal investigation carried out by a team that specializes in human trafficking crimes. Two homes belonging to Combs, one in Los Angeles and one in Miami Beach were searched Monday according to a law enforcement source briefed on the investigation.

A second law enforcement source familiar with the search warrants tell CNN agents were authorized to search his homes for documents, phones, computers and other electronic devices. Armed vehicles descended on the property simultaneously, a precaution related to armed private security teams employed by Combs.


His homes were searched by HSI, the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security with personnel stationed across the globe, which specializes in countering human trafficking, focused both on rescuing victims and identifying and prosecuting suspected traffickers. This investigation coming on the heels of several civil lawsuits.

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: All of them were incredibly graphic accusing Diddy of rape, grooming, sexual assault, drugging women, there's a lot of similarities in these lawsuits.

CAMPBELL (voice over): One of those from a former girlfriend Cassandra Ventura, who goes by the stage name Cassie alleging rate and physical abuse was settled in November.

In a December statement, Combs responded to the claims and all the lawsuits saying, sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday. Let me be absolutely clear, I did not do any of the awful things being alleged.

Cassie's attorney responding to Monday searches and the investigation. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a process that will hold Mr. Combs responsible for his depraved conduct.

Another lawsuit filed in February by a former employee producer Rodney Jones who goes by the stage name Little Rod accusing Combs of among other things, sexual assault. The musician was not at either home at the time, his whereabouts still unknown.

WAGMEISTER: This is a huge stain on his reputation to say the least. And this really feels like a fall from grace for one of the biggest stars and moguls in the music world.


CAMPBELL (on camera): Now, we received a statement today from Combs's attorney blasting the show of force by armed tactical federal agents outside both residences. The attorney calling this a witch hunt and a gross overuse of military level force.

Still he says that Combs is cooperating with investigators. He goes on to say in the statement that neither Mr. Combs or any of his family members have been arrested, nor has their ability to travel been restricted in any way. There has been no finding of criminal or civil liability with any of these allegations. Mr. Combs is innocent and will continue to fight every single day to clear his name. Of course, the big question still, what if anything did federal

investigators find at those residences and how might that information be used in any possible criminal investigation. As of right now, investigators aren't saying.

Josh Campbell, CNN, Los Angeles.

CHURCH: On a lighter note, ostriches can't fly but they sure can run and one of those birds ran right into traffic in South Korea on Tuesday after escaping from a zoo.

The 4-year-old male spent about an hour speeding past vehicles, catching drivers by surprise. Police and firefighters finally used a net to catch him and the zoo owner now says the ostrich has been returned safe and sound, good to know.

Thanks so much for joining us, I'm Rosemary Church. "WORLD SPORT" is up next then I'll be back in 15 minutes with more CNN NEWSROOM, please stick around.