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CNN International: Baltimore Bridge Disaster; Netanyahu: Israel has No Choice but to Move on Rafah; Obama Jumps in to Help Biden Defeat Trump; Trumps Lawyers Face Fallout of 2020 Election Fraud Claims. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired March 28, 2024 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The collapse of the Key Bridge is not just a Maryland crisis. The collapse of the Key Bridge is a global crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This bridge was in satisfactory condition. It's just utter devastation.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Now we're told, you can't do this. If you go into Rafah, you're going to have a humanitarian catastrophe. That's not true. That is simply not true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama jumping into the 2024 election, hoping he can help his former vice president Joe Biden win a second term at the White House.


ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber.

It's Thursday, March 28th, 4 a.m. in Baltimore, Maryland, where investigators will be back at work today analyzing the voyage data recorder and interviewing the crew of the container ship Dali. It crashed into the Key Bridge early Tuesday, causing it to collapse.

The bodies of two construction workers have been recovered. Four others are missing and presumed dead. Investigators say the Dali was carrying 56 containers of hazardous material. Some were breached in the collision. Others fell into the harbor.

They also say the bridge, built in the 1970s, was in satisfactory condition when it was inspected in May of last year. Listen to this.


JENNIFER HOMENDY, U.S. NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD CHAIR: It's just utter devastation. And when I look at something like that, I am thinking not about the container ships that are coming through, not about traffic getting back up and running on the bridge. I'm thinking about the families who've lost loved ones and the families who are waiting to reunite with loved ones and what they must be going through.


BRUNHUBER: With the vital waterway closed, 11 ships are now stuck in the port of Baltimore. Maryland's governor says the economic fallout could be massive.


GOV. WES MOORE (D-MD): The collapse of the Key Bridge is not just a Maryland crisis. The collapse of the Key Bridge is a global crisis. The national economy and the world's economy depends on the port of Baltimore.

The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other port in the country. Last year alone, the port handled $80 billion of foreign cargo, the largest in the country.


BRUNHUBER: Now, some ships are already being diverted to other ports along the U.S. East Coast, including Virginia, New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. But one expert says that won't necessarily solve the problem.


CAPT. JAMES STAPLES, MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY CONSULTANT: So does New York have that kind of space? I don't believe that they do, that they have quite a few ships going in and out, dropping off automobiles. So that's going to be a big problem is the space for just vehicles alone, farm equipment and other type of roll on, roll off equipment.

So, yes, there's going to be a problem with space. That's usually what it is. It's always the land space. That's the big problem.


BRUNHUBER: Now, as we mentioned, divers have recovered the bodies of two construction workers killed in the bridge collapse. They've been identified as Dorlian Castillo Cabrera on the left and Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, who's not shown in these images. The other men here, Miguel Luna in the middle and Maynor Suazo on the right are among four others missing and presumed dead.

More now from CNN's Maria Santana.


MARIA SANTANA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The bodies of two of the workers that were missing after the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge have been recovered. Maryland authorities announced on Wednesday that just before 10 a.m. rescuers located a red pickup truck and that inside the truck they were able to locate two of the victims that were trapped inside the vehicle.

Colonel Ronald Butler identified the individuals as Dorlian Castillo Cabrera, a 26-year-old from Guatemala, and Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes, a 35-year-old Mexican citizen. He said that one of the victims was identified via his driver's license and that another one of the victims was identified through his fingerprints.


He also gave some very sad news to the other family members, family members of another four individuals that have been waiting, desperately waiting to hear news about their loved one. He said that the conditions have proven to be too dangerous for rescuers to continue searching the waters, so the recovery operation has been suspended as of now. This is not what so many family members wanted to hear.

Many of them had been clinging to hope, hoping for a miracle. I spoke earlier with Carlos Suazo Sandoval. He is the brother of Maynor Suazo Sandoval, a 38-year-old from Honduras who was working on the bridge, laying asphalt when the cargo ship crashed against it and it collapsed.

This is what he had to say about his brother, a father of two who was very hardworking, who came to the United States 18 years ago looking for a better future. Let's listen.

CARLOS SUAZO SANDOVAL, MAYNOR SUAZO SANDOVAL'S BROTHER (through translator): He was a breadwinner for his children right now. God is going to provide for us too, so we can get together as a family and see how we can help each other. Because at this moment his wife is left with his girl and everything.

They have found cars, but they have not yet moved any cars because there is a lot of steel framework and they must be careful because they are human beings. Even if lifeless, we, the family members, need them to rescue the bodies, at least to see them and have them handed over to my family, his entire family, the people who are from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and in our case, Honduras.

SANTANA: Now CNN had also spoken with family members of Dorlian Castillo Cabrera. This is one of the individuals that was recovered. CNN spoke to his sister-in-law.

She said that he was 26 years old, that he had been working for this construction company for about three years and that he absolutely loved his job. That he was here, he came to the United States in order to help his family, to help his mother.

Alejandro Hernandez Fuentes is one of two Mexicans that were missing in this incident. The embassy -- the Mexican embassy in Washington confirmed that two of its citizens had been -- were victims of this tragedy, but they were respecting the privacy of those family members and did not confirm their identities. We also know that a Salvadorian citizen was also a worker that disappeared after the collapse. CNN also spoke to some of his family members. His name is Miguel Luna. He had been a member of the Baltimore community for about 19 years.

But this news today definitely brings closure to some, but also prolonged anguish for so many others.

Maria Santana, CNN, Baltimore, Maryland.


BRUNHUBER: A spokesperson for Israel's prime minister is warning that the country will, quote, copy and paste Gaza onto Lebanon if Hezbollah further escalates tensions. The officials say Israel is returning fire amid increased activity on the border. On Wednesday, at least 16 people were killed in Israeli airstrikes on several villages in southern Lebanon.

The Israel Defense Forces says its fighter jets targeted terrorist cells in those areas. Hezbollah says it responded to the initial Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon by launching dozens of rockets into northern Israel. Israeli officials say most of the rockets were intercepted, but at least one person was killed in that attack.

Meanwhile, in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Palestinian health officials say at least 11 people were killed in Israeli strikes. Officials at one hospital say those strikes hit a home where families were sheltering and say an 11-year-old child was among the dead. Wafa, the Palestinian news agency, reports that residential buildings in other parts of Rafah were also targeted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country has no choice but to move into Rafah as its, quote, very existence is on the line. Now those comments came as he hosted a bipartisan U.S. congressional delegation in Jerusalem. He claims victory in Gaza could come soon. Here he is.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: We've killed many senior leaders, including number four in Hamas, number three in Hamas. We'll get number two and number one.

That's victory. Victory is within reach. It's a few weeks away.


BRUNHUBER: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman joins us now from Rome with more. And Ben, those comments from Prime Minister Netanyahu and the growing divide between Israel and the U.S., particularly around the planned offensive in Rafah, what more can you tell us?

[04:10:03] BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand that when the Israeli defense minister was in Washington recently, that the Americans told Israel that they need to be more pinpoint in their pursuit of Hamas' leadership and try to avoid civilian casualties.

But when you hear the comments from the Israeli prime minister, I don't think he really understands the damage, the destruction, the death that Israel has wrought upon Gaza.

We are now on the 174th day of this war. The death toll is at least, at least 32,500. Nonetheless, the Israeli leader seems to think that they can avoid further massive casualties if they do launch into this offensive in the city of Rafah, where there are more than a million and a half people who have taken refuge.

This is what he said.


NETANYAHU: Now we are told, you can't do this. If you go into Rafah, you're going to have a humanitarian catastrophe. You're going to have, I don't know, 30,000 dead. 30,000? 30,000 Civilian dead. OK. That's not true. That is simply not true.

There's all of the Gaza Strip north of Rafah. You know, people move down, they can move back up.


WEDEMAN: Well, that's a fairly flip statement, talking about basically 80 to 90 percent of the population of Gaza that has been forced to move several times. And in terms of moving north, I mean, these people aren't on a picnic. They have had their homes destroyed. It is very difficult to move around Gaza.

In fact, people who have tried to move back north to their homes in Gaza City, for instance, have come under fire. Therefore, and there already is a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Whether they go ahead with this operation in Rafah or not.

So it appears that the Israeli Prime Minister seems to be utterly indifferent to the situation, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as he pursues this war that doesn't seem to have an end and where, despite what he says, victory is not in sight for the Israelis.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, interesting. In the meantime, Ben, increasingly bellicose comments from Israel about Lebanon and Hezbollah. What's the latest there?

WEDEMAN: Well, yes, we heard a prime minister, an Israeli prime minister spokesman saying that they're going to copy and paste Gaza onto Lebanon. Now, certainly since the 8th of October, there have been almost daily exchanges between Hezbollah and other militants and Israel along the border between the two countries. We've seen, according to Lebanese official statistics, at least 90,000

people have fled the south of Lebanon and a similar number of Israelis have fled the area along the border as well.

Now, there was a brief period at the end of November when the guns went silent. There were no rockets fired. And that was when there was a brief truce in Gaza.

Hezbollah has made it clear that if there is a truce in Gaza, it will also fall silent. It will stop firing into Israel. But it doesn't appear that a ceasefire is in the offing at this point. We're hearing that discussions are ongoing, but no progress is being made.

So this danger of a widening of the war is still very much there. Now, it's questionable whether Israel can handle a two-front war, one in Gaza and one with Hezbollah, considering that Hezbollah is considered to be militarily far more capable, far better armed, far better trained than Hamas in Gaza.

So this idea of copying and pasting the experience of Gaza onto Lebanon is worrying if you're Lebanese, but questionable if Israel would be willing to do it. And if, for instance, the United States, which is such a great backer of Israel, would like its name on a repeat of Gaza being imposed upon Lebanon -- Kim.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. Ben Wedeman, thanks so much.


Russian President Vladimir Putin says Moscow has no intention of picking a fight with NATO, calling speculation that Russia may attack other European countries after Ukraine complete nonsense. The Kremlin says he made the statement during a meeting with Russian military pilots.

Meanwhile, Russia is still reeling from last week's terror attack near Moscow. The death toll climbed to 143 on Wednesday, Russian authorities say the same number of people has also been reported missing.

Now, CNN has reached out to Russian officials to check if those two lists overlap.

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, who was the first Jewish vice president nominee of a major party, died Wednesday at 82. His family says he died of complications from a recent fall in New York. He was a mainstream Democrat for much of his political career, but Lieberman was often at odds with his party after the 9-11 terror attack when he took a more hardline stance on foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Perhaps the peak of Lieberman's career was when he was chosen by Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore to be his running mate in 2000.


JOE LIEBERMAN, FORMER SENATOR AND VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Tonight, I am so proud to stand as your candidate for vice president of the United States. I am humbled by this nomination and so grateful to Al Gore for choosing me.


BRUNHUBER: Al Gore says he's forever grateful for Lieberman's tireless efforts to build a better future for America.

Former President George W. Bush released a statement saying, quote: Joe was as fine an American as they come and one of the most decent people I met during my time in Washington.

Joe Lieberman will be buried Friday in his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama is lending a hand again to Joe Biden in his battle to keep the White House. How he plans to help -- that's next.

And Germany's beloved sausage dogs, Dachshunds, are famous for their long bodies and short little legs, but a new bill could make breeding them illegal. Ahead, we'll tell you why.

And as new details emerge about the federal investigation into rapper Sean Diddy Combs, he is nowhere to be found. All the latest on the lawsuits surrounding him and his inner circle when we come back. Please stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are running neck and neck in the polls, but when it comes to money, Biden is outpacing Trump.

On Thursday, that gap is expected to widen when Biden's hold on his largest 2024 fundraising event with former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in New York. Now in this deja vu election season, Obama, a powerful campaigner, is crucial for President Biden in his November faceoff against Trump. CNN's MJ Lee takes a look at how Biden's former boss is hoping to help.




MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama, jumping into the 2024 election, hoping he can help his former Vice President Joe Biden win a second term at the White House. The former president making clear to associates in recent months that he believes the Biden-Donald Trump rematch in November will be incredibly close and that he sees the election as an all-hands-on-deck moment, sources tell CNN.

OBAMA: As you know, Joe is an extraordinary friend and partner. He was by my side for eight years.

LEE (voice-over): Last Friday, Obama spending several hours in the White House residence recording videos for the Biden campaign, including about the Affordable Care Act.

OBAMA: There's nothing I'm more proud of than the ACA.

LEE (voice-over): Off camera, Obama telling Biden that the president's State of the Union remarks this month appear to have broken through and that he believes health care will once again be a potent issue in the upcoming election.

Passage of that landmark health care law, one of the hallmark achievements of the Obama presidency. That 14 years later, President Biden is continuing to tout.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a big deal at the time. Well, it's even a bigger deal today.

LEE (voice-over): Sources telling CNN that the two presidents who have made much of their friendship and so-called bromance still speak regularly.

OBAMA: This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.

LEE (voice-over): And that Obama is also in direct contact with some senior White House including Chief of Staff Jeff Zients.

On Thursday, three U.S. presidents, Biden, Obama and Bill Clinton, set to appear together for a star-studded fundraiser in New York City, moderated by comedian Stephen Colbert. Tickets to the sold-out evening at Radio City Music Hall ranging from $225 to a whopping half a million dollars. And numerous celebrities expected to be in attendance.

Some audience members also getting the chance to have their photo taken with the three presidents by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz.


BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, a political action committee supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is raking in donations after the independent presidential candidate named his running mate. American Values 2024 says the hours after Nicole Shanahan were revealed as Kennedy's vice presidential pick, was its second largest day of fundraising. The group says it brought in more than $2 million, which will go towards getting the independent duo on the ballot in as many states as possible.

Some of the lawyers who assisted Donald Trump in his efforts to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election are now dealing with the consequences. A California judge is recommending that former Trump lawyer John Eastman be disbarred for his role in Trump's efforts to remain in power. Eastman can appeal the ruling and the California Supreme Court will review the case. Now as CNN's Jessica Schneider reports, this marks a moment of reckoning for those who peddle false theories of election fraud.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still think the election was stolen?


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark are still defiant.

JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: They've tried to destroy me, but I'm still standing and I'm going to keep fighting.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): More than three years after they allegedly worked then President Trump, he tried to overturn the 2020 election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret attaching your name to the former president?


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): John Eastman operated as the so-called architect behind the fake elector scheme. And Jeffrey Clark instigated an intense pressure campaign inside the Justice Department to try to get DOJ officials to help overturn the election for Trump.

Now both men are facing professional reckonings. Eastman and Clark have been sitting through attorney disciplinary hearings in recent weeks and months that could ultimately result in them losing their law licenses.

They are also both defendants charged in the Georgia election subversion case.

EASTMAN: I'm here today to surrender to an indictment that should never have been brought. This is an indictment that should never have been brought. It targets attorneys for their zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients, something attorneys are ethically bound to provide, and which was attempted here by formally challenging the results of the election through lawful and appropriate means.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): While Eastman has been fighting those criminal charges, his attorney disciplinary case has been unfolding in California. He's charged by the state law with 11 counts related to his plot to obstruct the electoral counting process.

CLARK: They're trying to take my bar license.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Jeffrey Clark's professional ethics trial started this week in Washington, D.C. Richard Donohue, who was then Deputy Attorney General while Clark served as head of the Civil Division, testified Tuesday to the disciplinary committee that Clark's theories of election fraud were not supported by evidence, and that Clark was repeatedly told there was no proof of tampering. RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I said this is nothing less than Justice Department meddling in an election. His reaction was, I think a lot of people have meddled in this election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's mayor, Rudy Giuliani, accompanied by Professor John Eastman.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): John Eastman was closely aligned with Rudy Giuliani, who is also facing possible disbarments for his role during the 2020 election.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Let's have trial by combat.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): There are just a few of the handful of Trump lawyers who have faced sever consequences for their roles working to overturn the 2020 election. Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, and Kenneth Chesebro have all pleaded guilty in the Georgia case. Eastman and Clark have pleaded not guilty.

SCHNEIDER: And a California judge late Wednesday night recommended that John Eastman be disbarred, ordering that Eastman's law license be suspended in three days, also ordering him to pay $10,000. It's now up to the California Supreme Court to decide whether to endorse or reject that disbarment recommendation. This is a significant step, though, nonetheless, that it's even been recommended after this lengthy 34-day fact-finding trial.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: The feud between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Disney Company is over. The parties reached a settlement over the theme park's standing in Florida, ending almost two years of litigation. The sides agreed to drop various lawsuits and settle differences out of court without admitting fault or liability.

The dispute was sparked by Disney's opposition to a Florida law dubbed the Don't Say Gay Bill, the law restricts school lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity. DeSantis then sought to end special privileges Disney had in Florida. DeSantis touted the fight frequently during his failed run for president.

All right, still ahead, the latest on the investigation into the deadly bridge collapse in Baltimore. We'll go inside a cargo ship simulator to retrace the moments leading up to the disaster.

Plus, CNN rides along with a private security group in South Africa forced to do the job of police. We'll look at why the war on crime there is a losing battle.


BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. If you're just joining us, here are some of today's top stories.

Police in Rockland, Illinois say four people are dead and seven injured after a stabbing rampage. A 22-year-old suspect is in custody, but officials say they don't yet have a motive.

Sam Bankman-Fried will be sentenced today in U.S. federal court. He was found guilty of stealing billions of dollars.