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Trump Posts Video Showing Image Of A Tied-Up Biden; Gershkovich's Family Fights For His Release From Russia; New Details On Baltimore Ship Damage; Cleanup Crews Maneuver To Clear Bridge Collapse Wreckage; Soon: RFK Jr. Holds First Rally Since Announcing VP Pick; Migrant Surge Overwhelms Remote Arizona Border Crossing. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 30, 2024 - 17:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Alisyn Camerota in New York.

Donald Trump posted a violent image of President Biden tied up like a hostage in the back of a pickup truck. Now the Trump campaign is responding to the growing criticism saying quote, "That picture was on the back of a pickup truck that was traveling down the highway. Democrats and crazed lunatics have not only called for despicable violence against President Trump and his family, they're actually weaponizing the justice system against him."

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us from the White House. Priscilla, has President Biden responded?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: His campaign has responded, and they have slammed what they saw here saying that this is yet another example of the political violence that former president, Donald Trump is inciting.

Let me read you that statement from Biden campaign spokesman Michael Tyler. It says quote, "This image from Donald Trump is the type of crap you post when you're calling for a quote, 'bloodbath', or when you tell the Proud Boys to quote 'stand back and standby'.

Trump is regularly inciting political violence, and it's time people take him seriously. Just ask the Capitol police officers who were attacked protecting our democracy on January 6."

We also asked the U.S. Secret Service about this and they said they do not confirm or comment on matters of quote, "protective intelligence".

Now, of course, this comes against the backdrop of the Biden campaign also trying to shore up support among Nikki Haley voters. Those voters who may be turned off by this type of rhetoric or actions by the former president.

Now, they did -- the Biden campaign released a 30-second ad in battleground states specifically appealing to those supporters of Nikki Haley, including clips of the former president saying that the Republican candidate or the former Republican candidate was a very angry person and the one, and the moments that Trump said that he didn't need Haley voters.

Take a listen.



Nikki Haley has made an unholy alliance with RHINOS, Never-Trumpers, Americans for No Prosperity. She's sitting there like --

She's gone crazy. She's a very angry person. She is not presidential timber.

I don't need the vote. We have all of the votes we need.

She gone haywire.

There aren't that many Never Trumpers anymore?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you bring these Nikki Haley voters back into the tent?

TRUMP: I'm not sure we need too many.


ALVAREZ: Now the Biden campaign is trying to directly appeal to those voters in the suburban areas where Nikki Haley did well and recall that President Biden issued a statement after Haley dropped out of the race saying that there quote, "is a place for her voters."

And in the last few weeks, campaign officials have been meeting with some of the donors on Haley's list. So all of this coming together as the Biden campaign tries to shore up more support not only among Democratic voters, but also parts of Republican -- of the Republican constituency.

CAMEROTA: Priscilla, let's talk about that record-breaking R26 million in fundraising that President Biden made this week with that event with President Clinton and President Obama. How are they going to use that money?

ALVAREZ: Well, fundraising has been a continuous bright spot for the Biden campaign. This week was no exception.

Now, they're using that money to build out their campaign infrastructure. For example, 30 new offices in battleground Michigan, a state that President Biden only narrowly won in 2020. So they're hiring more personnel. They're opening more brick-and-mortar offices to try to engage with voters one-on-one. That has been a key part of this campaign strategy is to make sure that they are reaching voters where they are. That's also part of the reason why President Biden has been traveling so much over the last few weeks, especially to those battleground state.

So all of this fundraising is going to a lot of these components and especially those brick-and-mortar offices as they look and stare down a very close race come November, Alisyn.


CAMEROTA: Ok. Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much.

Let's get some analysis now. Joining me, we have CNN contributor, podcast host and journalist for "The New York Times" Lulu Garcia Navarro and CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. Great to see both of you.

Ok. I just want to start Lulu with you because obviously it's no longer an academic exercise, maybe at one time it was where we could say, oh I wonder if violent imagery and violent rhetoric leads to real-world violence.

It does. We have seen a straight line. I mean, look no further than the 2019 hideous Walmart mass shooting where the shooter had a manifesto echoing then-President Trump's words. Look no further than January 6, where his supporters showed up in combat gear and, you know, battle fatigues saying they were ready for battle.

And so what now? I mean what -- now that we know that, where are we with this what happens now that we see yet another one of these violent images?

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we are at a place where the degradation of political discourse in this country is clearly a bright straight line to political violence. And we have seen political violence as you rightly note in these elections.

And even though the Trump's (INAUDIBLE) team tries to disavow that connection, they always try to do this dance by saying, oh, he was just showing a picture of what was on the highway. He didn't mean it. It was about cars, it was about the auto industry.

I think it is very fair to show that this actually isn't just rhetoric. This rhetoric actually has real life consequences.

And I think, you know, there is a real concern as we go into what is going to be a very contentious election season. That we're going to see more and more evidence that this can lead to actual action.

CAMEROTA: Heaven forbid.

Shermichael, why are Republicans who are supporting former president Trump -- why are they ok with this? Do they excuse it? I mean, why is it ok to, you know, say violent things and threaten judges and post violent imagery?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Happy Easter Alisyn. I mean, I don't think that they necessarily condone it. I just don't think that they're willing to say anything about it, particularly in a heightened political climate, where many of them are more focused on the prize. The prize being electoral success, the prize being trying to keep the house, for example, trying to win back control of the senate and ultimately trying to win the White House.

Now, morally and ethically does that make it ok? I think the three of us would say absolutely not. And I think the vast majority of the American people would say absolutely not.

Politics is a very contentious process if you will. We're used to people going back and forth with each other trying to contest various ideas. Iron sharpens iron, but we've always believed Alisyn in the past that that just stopped short of becoming physically violent with one another.

And so I would certainly encourage the former president and encourage many of my Republican friends, to let's debate ideas but stop short of causing potential violence.

CAMEROTA: Yes, I mean, we used to say politics isn't beanbag. This is a far cry from that.

You know, Lulu, it's interesting. They, they weren't saying -- his campaign wasn't saying, oh, it's just on the back of a truck. It was different what they were saying. Basically they said, oh, well, the Democrats have wished horrible things on the Trump family.

They didn't give any examples, so it's very hard to know what they're referring to or compare, but that tells you that they don't like it. In other words, they were saying its awful, right. And then they're doing it. So I just found their logic to be a little circular.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't think that there is logic in this. I don't think that this is really -- I mean the real question here, Alisyn, is who are they speaking to when they put this out, right? Who are they trying to draw in by this? What are they trying to say? Who are they trying to activate?

I mean those are the questions that I have when I see this imagery go out because clearly they are not speaking to people who they're trying to bring into the campaign.

This is, as you again rightly point out, going to be a very close election. They're going to have to bring in other voters that might not be the sort of meat and potatoes of the Trump MAGA base.

And so who are they trying to (AUDIO GAP). We're already hearing from some of the people surrounding Trump. Oh, this election might be stolen if Trump doesn't do well. A lot of the rhetoric that we saw in 2020 (INAUDIBLE).

[17:09:49] GARCIA-NAVARRO: And this is what concerns me when you see this kind of imagery. Who are they speaking to you? Because it isn't the voters that they're trying to bring in.

CAMEROTA: Shermichael, do you have an answer to that?

SINGLETON: I mean, I would say this simply. I think a lot of this rhetoric is red meat for the base. We've had these conversations Alisyn for a couple of years now.

I don't think it's necessary frankly as a strategist. I think many of the individuals who you may attempt to appease or appeal to what that rhetoric are already solidly in the former president's corner.

Alisyn, they're not going to move. They're enthusiastic about voting for Donald Trump and they're enthusiastic about being a part of the process to help him get elected.

To Lulu's point. The question becomes, when you look at some of those battleground states that were very, very close in 2020 that really made the difference where the former president lost by slim margins, if I'm in that war room, I'm trying to figure out looking at those different precincts, looking at those counties -- who are the voters that I can turn out, who are the voters who I can shift back over to my principal's side.

And that means the rhetoric the language, the focus, the targeting, the engagement is going to be drastically different.

CAMEROTA: Lulu, is this something that --


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Exactly, I mean, and Michael's exactly right.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but Shermichael, I understand. But then how -- why this violent rhetoric in that case or imagery?

SINGLETON: You know, Alisyn, if I had the answer, I'd be the richest guy in the world.

I don't have the answer for that. And I'm asked that question oftentimes and even when I speak with folks who are close to the former president or who still work for him, my strategic advice always is guys, you have those voters. You have to reach out to some of those moderate Republican. You have to reach out to some of those folks in the middle who are principally concerned with the economy, immigration, foreign affairs.

And some of them will look at what Trump was saying, you know, he's somewhat strong on some of these issues, but I don't like the host of other things that come with him. You've got to suppress those things and speak to the things that really matter to most people.

(CROSSTALK) CAMEROTA: Yes. Lulu, he's also using threatening language against the judge -- quick, go ahead. Sorry. There's a delay which makes it hard, but I want to hear your reaction to that Lulu. Go ahead

GARCIA-NAVARRO: No, I just want to say that we've heard so many times about, you know, Trump eventually going to pivot to the middle and try to reach out to those voters, maybe the disaffected Nikki Haley voters or other people who might be conflicted and might want to vote for him if he would only just use different language or appeal to them in different ways.

And I think we know who we're dealing with at this point. And I think actually that is what concerns many people because we know who we're dealing with at this point seen the results of this rhetoric.

And so if, if Donald Trump can't contain himself and is still doing this, then again, I ask the question, why? What is he actually trying to achieve? Because we again, have seen the results of it.

CAMEROTA: Shermichael, he's also used threatening language against a judge and the judge's daughter. You know, he is under a gag order for one of the criminal trials that he's facing. It doesn't seem to be working.

SINGLETON: Yes. You know, I'm of the mindset as it pertains to the trials, if I were advising the former president, allow the lawyers to deal with this in court. It's not wise in my opinion to try to litigate this in the public circle. Again, to Lulu's point, when you beg that question, who are you appealing with this rhetoric? Whose minds are you changing?

If you really are to win this election in November those voters that you're going to need. In Georgia, a state he lost by less than 12,000 votes or in Arizona or in Nevada or Wisconsin or Pennsylvania Alisyn. Those voters are not compelled to vote for the former president when they hear that type of very ugly and divisive languages.

So again, as a strategist, my thought process is you're going about this wrong. And if you want to win, this is not going to help. In fact, I would argue it's going to more than likely lead to you not winning.

The poll numbers showcase that he's leading, but I guarantee you Alisyn, if you continue on this path, you're going to see those numbers shift pretty quickly as we get closer to November.

CAMEROTA: Shermichael, Lulu. Thank you very much for the conversation. Great to see you, guys.

SINGLETON: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich has now been wrongfully imprisoned in a Russian jail for an entire year. What is being done today to get him out.

Plus new details into just how damaged that ship is that took down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore.

We'll be right back.



CAMEROTA: President Biden trying to comfort the parents of "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich. He says he's working every day to get their son out of a Russian prison. Gershkovich has spent an entire year now behind bars on espionage charges.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more on the latest efforts to release him.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- allowed at Evan Gershkovich's most recent court hearing in Moscow, just this short clip by the court's press service.

Despite a year in a Russian jail, a defiant smile from "The Wall Street Journal" reporter. No surprise, his detention was extended yet again through June 30th.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia ripping into the verdict.


LYNNE TRACY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: The accusations against Evan are categorically untrue. They are not a different interpretation of circumstances. They are fiction.

PLEITGEN: Evan Gershkovich was arrested and charged with espionage a year ago while on assignment in Yekaterinburg, Central Russia.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON (through translator): I do not know if there are any other cases, but the allegations made by our intelligence services today were not related to his journalism.

PLEITGEN: "The Wall Street Journal" and Gershkovich's family strongly denied the allegations.

Polina Ivanova of "The Financial Times" is one of Evan's best friends and still keeps and regular contact with him writing letters.

POLINA IVANOVA, FINANCIAL TIMES REPORTER & FRIEND OF EVAN GERSHKOVICH: He's doing remarkably well. He's absolutely staying strong. He's not allowing himself to, you know, to wallow to get too upset by everything.

In fact, he spends most of his time in letters to us trying to make us feel better.

PLEITGEN: Gershkovich faces a jail sentence of up to 20 years if convicted. But CNN has reported that Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan were part of a proposed prisoner swap with a now dead opposite leader Alexei Navalny.

The Russian president taunted on his reelection day that he approved a swap on the condition he'd get back a high-profile Russian intelligence officer in prison for murder in Germany, Vadim Krasikov.

PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): The person who spoke to me had not finished his sentence yet. I said, I agree, but unfortunately, what happened happened.

PLEITGEN: For those close to Evan, that means the waiting continues, outcome uncertain.

IVANOVA: When you see (INAUDIBLE) and talk about it and very clear terms that this is what they want to see happen, that they're looking for a deal, you know, just gives you hope that at some point this will -- this, you know, that he will be home. He needs to be home, needs to be back with his family, with his friends.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


CAMEROTA: And were joined now by CNN contributor and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty.

Jill, great to see you. So there was this rare show of unity in Congress, top Republicans and Democrats joined together to call for Evan to be released. Does that tell us anything about what's happening behind the scene.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it really does. I mean, obviously it's good that the United States Congress is coming out, especially in a bipartisan way.

But I think, you know, its Putin and his interests that you have to deal with. He is going to do a deal or not if he feels that it's in his interest.

And right now, we really don't know, it's unclear exactly where we're going.

I do think it was interesting though that Roger Carstens who is the U.S. diplomat, who's the U.S. envoy for Hostage Affairs did seem to indicate that now is kind of a moment of opportunity because, you know, once the trial starts it's very difficult to do a deal.

So Carstens is saying, you have to do it now, and that gives a little bit of hope.

CAMEROTA: Yes. That was a glimmer of something. What is in it for Putin? What's in it for Putin to release Gershkovich?

DOUGHERTY: He gets what he wants. And apparently what he wants, as Fred talked about is this FSB assassin who is held in Germany. That appears to be what the deal would have been.

So we don't know if there's anything else he wants, I'm sure he always wants more, but that seems to be it. And whether they can really strike a deal at this point is unclear.

CAMEROTA: And helped me understand why does Alexey Navalny's death scuttle that deal?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, you have to listen to what Putin's saying and then do you believe it or don't you. I mean, Putin is saying yes, we are close to a deal, but then sadly, Alexey Navalny died because Navalny would have been part of that deal.

But again, we don't know whether that is correct. You know, that Putin actually did want to do a deal at that point. We know that there were some type of discussions, but whether they were formal or informal, I think it's a way of Putin saying, yes, I'm open, but it's very noncommittal because of course, it never happened because Navalny died.

CAMEROTA: So as you know, Evan's supporters have been planning all of these social media campaigns and doing them. I mean, we see in Times Square there're big, you know, posters erected for Evan that for him to be released. People saying, I stand with Evan. There was a read-a- thon that some of our own journalists took part in. All of this to keep his name in the news, top of mind.

Does any of that register with Vladimir Putin, that kind of pressure?

DOUGHTERTY: Well I think keeping Evan out there, being talked about and is a very obvious issue right now really is important. Now whether its sways Putin one way or the other that's unclear.


CAMEROTA: But I think that, you know, if people were not talking about him then Putin would have less of a reason to do a deal. So Putin knows that he is very important.

And, you know, we have other Americans, sadly. S Paul Whelan is there, Alsu Kurmasheva, you know, these are -- they've been held for quite a while. Also, Marc Fogel.

So it's important to keep their names out there and it does provide some type of, you know, worldwide pressure. Again, whether it affects Putin is not clear.

CAMEROTA: In the past what has worked? What has ultimately worked with Putin? Just getting one of his guys back? Is that the only thing that moves the needle for him?

DOUGHERTY: I think as I said, getting what he wants. So getting one of his guys back could do it. Also, you know, Putin wants to appear like sometimes a good guy. And so if he does something, he will do it because he thinks it's in his interest or he will look good. Right now, it appears that he wants to get back that guy so that's what in his interest. Whether there's another factor that might come into play we kind of had that hint in that interview with Putin.

But again, this is all very murky. And remember the Russians are constantly saying, we don't want to talk about this in public, no discussion publicly. It should be private and secret because we want to talk behind the scene.

That's fine. But it remains a little murky what Putin's end goal is.

CAMEROTA: By design, of course.

Jill Dougherty, thanks for helping us understand this.


CAMEROTA: Officials say the first pieces of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore could be pulled from the water as soon as today. We have the latest on the recovery efforts and how long they'll take.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CAMEROTA: Complicated and dangerous, that's how officials in Baltimore described the ongoing cleanup and recovery at the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Live images from the scene show the largest crane on the East Coast is in place to start hauling away the wreckage that is blocking traffic to the port of Baltimore.

Here with us now is former merchant marine captain, Klaus Luhta.

Captain, thanks for being here.

Obviously, this is any captain's worst nightmare from what you've seen and heard now about this catastrophe, do you have a sense of why and how this could happen?

CAPT. KLAUS LUHTA, FORMER MERCHANT MARINE CAPTAIN: Preliminary indications are that there is some sort of engine issue with the ship as it was coming out of Baltimore harbor and approaching the bridge. That's not uncommon for vessels of this size. Unfortunately, the timing and location of this particular instance was catastrophic. And it's just incredible what, what actually occurred, bringing down that bridge in one fell swoop.

I don't think anybody could have imagined this happening, but preliminary indications are that its an engine issue and the NTSB report which maybe is a year out, maybe longer, it will give the final determination.

CAMEROTA: But I mean, from your experience on ships, don't you have multiple redundancies? I mean, if one engine goes out, aren't there things built in that it doesn't -- you don't have an entire power shutdown?

LUHTA: Well, unfortunately, merchant cargo ships are built, so that there isn't a lot of extra expense. So you have one major engine, you have one propeller. There are backup emergency generators and those would have been online during this maneuvering operation and I think when you watch the video when you see the lights flickering on and off, that's an indication of those generators kicking online.

But reports coming out of the area are that the engine did power down or whatever reason, the emergency generators kicked on. So that's why you saw the lights, but they never really getting propulsion. And unfortunately, there is only that one engine that provides the propulsion. And when that goes out, that's your only hope for getting back on line

CAMEROTA: That's really interesting. I hadn't heard that before. So I understand that you personally experienced an engine shutdown at sea. What happened and how did you handle that?

LUHTA: Well, I've been on ships just like this all around the world. I've been in and out of the Baltimore port dozens of times. Unfortunately or fortunately, we've never had an engine failure in confined waters like in this instance, we have had them out at sea. It's not uncommon. Sometimes it's due to bad fuel, sometimes it's due to just a mechanical failure somewhere in the system.

And you have a team of engineers in the room who are the most highly trained mechanical engineers in the world on all of these vessels. And so you float in the open water and here the water rushing by for some time and hope and pray that they get the answer back online before some bad weather hits or before you get in extremis as they say into bad waters.

CAMEROTA: Captain, when you said bad fuel, I've -- I've read this since this catastrophe contaminated fuel might have been the cause. What does that mean? Where do you get contaminated fuel? Why would that be in the tanks of this ship?

LUHTA: Well, the fuel that's used on merchant cargo vessels is the lowest possible grade fuel that you can source. And it's the cheapest. And so it allows cargo to be moved cheaply. And typically, you load the fuel on the vessel and then the vessel is responsible for eating that fuel, purifying it, and making it sufficient so that it can be used in the engine and the combustion cycle sometimes, you know, because it is a low-grade fuel, you do have fuel issues.


There are no indications that that was the case here. It's a possibility, just one of many possibilities, but it is not uncommon in these larger vessels.

CAMEROTA: This ship is the size of the Empire State Building. And, of course, it was fully loaded with cargo and hazardous material. So what are the logistics now of moving a vessel like this?

LUHTA: Well, first, they're going to have to remove the pieces of the bridge, which in itself is going to be an astonishing feat. And the fact that they had are crane on-site already just shows the will that the city and the state of Maryland and the federal government for that matter are willing to put forward to solve this issue.

So the bridge pieces are going to have to be removed. There may be some lettering of the containers from off the vessel, but ultimately once the vessel is freed up and we know that she's safe for maneuvering, isn't going to sink or have any haul bridges which I'm sure they've determined already, then the vessel can be towed to somewhere on the dock where a crane connect excessive and the other target but I think that's months -- months away at this point.

CAMEROTA: That's what we keep hearing. And I mean, as you said, we may not have answers from the NTSB for a year, but from what you experienced, your personal experience, as well as what you've seen, can anything changed right now to prevent an accident like this?

LUHTA: I think what you'll see happening in short order is that vessels like this, when they're operating in sensitive areas near bridges, near sensitive shorelines, things like that. There -- I would expect to see in short order implement -- implementation of tug escorts. So this happens in busy ports in Japan all the time in the port of Yokohama, for example, if you have a large ship going in and out of the port, you have a very large, powerful target escorting you in and escorting you out, just running ahead of you.

So I would expect to see that happening in ports all around the U.S. now just for this very reason, in this instance, with a vessel that large, I don't know that a tug could have prevented this, but it should certainly could have been positive influence in some way, even if just redirecting ship in another direction. So I think were going to see tugs in short order.

CAMEROTA: Really interesting, Captain Klaus Luhta, thank you for all the information.

LUHTA: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Since the first time since naming his running mate, Robert Kennedy, Jr. hits the campaign trail. We're going to tell you about his running mate Nicole Shanahan. That's when CNN NEWSROOM returns.



CAMEROTA: Tonight, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will be campaigning in Los Angeles, trying to appeal to Latino voters. It will also be Kennedy's first public event since announcing his running mate, Nicole Shanahan.

As CNN's Eva McKend reports, Shanahan is relatively new to politics but she may have just what RFK needs most. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): A political newcomer propelled into the spotlight as part of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s independent bid for the White House.

NICOLE SHANAHAN (I), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is so good to be here in Oakland.

MCKEND: At just 38 years old, Nicole Shanahan is a wealthy Silicon Valley lawyer, and investor, who was once married to a billionaire Google co-founder.

SHANAHAN: For the first time in a long time, I felt hope for our democracy again. We can do this.

MCKEND: Earlier this year, putting her considerable wealth behind Kennedy, helping fund this $7 million Super Bowl ad that drew inspiration from his uncle's 1960 campaign.

Shanahan has long been a large donor to Democratic candidates and causes, giving the $25,000 individual maximum to Biden's election effort in 2020.

But now she says the party has lost its way.

SHANAHAN: In this moment, I -- I am leaving the Democratic Party.

MCKEND: And was drawn to Kennedy after listening to him speak.

SHANAHAN: Chronic disease, addiction, poverty, depression, this is where Americans are hurting the most. It is time for politicians to listen.

MCKEND: The Oakland native is largely unknown to the public outside of elite tech circles.

Her marriage to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, ending in divorce last year.

"The Wall Street Journal" reporting she had an affair with Elon Musk, something she and Musk both strongly denied.

Shanahan writing in "People" last year: I can't think of anything worse for professional woman's career than publicly shaming her for a sexual act.

Shanahan rose from a difficult upbringing --

SHANAHAN: I don't think we would have made it without food stamps and government help.

MCKEND: -- to become the founder and president of her own foundation, focusing on climate change, reproductive health, social justice, and finding a cure for autism, an issue close to her as her daughter with Bryn has autism. SHANAHAN: Conditions like autism used to be one in ten thousand. Now,

here in the state of California, it is 1 in 22.

MCKEND: And she now shares a presidential ticket with someone who has repeatedly pushed misinformation about the efficacy and risks of vaccine, including the discredited link between vaccines and autism.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do believe that autism does come from vaccine.

MCKEND: Shanahan saying it's only RFK, Jr. really taking the issue of chronic health, seriously.

SHANAHAN: I will be his ally in making our nation healthy again.


MCKEND (on camera): And it's clear Democrats view Kennedy as a real threat prior to the rally. The DNC had a mobile billboard linking Kennedy to Trump.

And during a press conference, Democrats characterizing Kennedy as a tinfoil hat conspiracy theories that could lead Trump to getting re- elected.

Eva McKend, CNN, Oakland, California.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Up next, CNN goes to the busiest migrant crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border to show you what's happening there.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM


CAMEROTA: Texas's tough new immigration law is on hold. Thanks to a federal appeals court. The state law would have allowed Texas to bypass federal law in order to arrest and deport migrants suspected of illegally crossing the border.

Texas already has an aggressive border operation which is shifting migrant crossings towards Arizona, a much more dangerous route.

CNN's Rosa Flores reports from the border.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Its mountainous, it's very steep.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Paul Nixon and Laurel Grindy helped migrant in distress in southern Arizona, which is now the busiest migrant crossing on the U.S.-Mexico border. Three hundred thousand migrants have been apprehended in the Tucson border patrol sector from October to February. That's about 64 percent more than the number of migrants apprehended in the Del Rio sector, which includes Eagle Pass, Texas, the epicenter of the border battle between Texas and the Biden administration,. UNIDETIFIED MALE: Jamaica, welcome.

FLORES: You're from Jamaica.

Many migrants walk for miles up and down steep hills to this makeshift camp where they wait for Border Patrol like Merta from Guatemala. She says that her soul hurts.

The mother of seven boys ages 4 to 16 wants to go by her first name only and says extreme poverty in her home country leaves mothers within a possible choice.

Decide, do you feed your younger child or your older child?

LORI LINDSAY, RANCHER, TRES BELLOTAS RANCH: On the ranching world, you're always around people from south of the border.

FLORES: The camp is on cattle rancher, Lori Lindsay's property a lifelong Democrat who is now an independent because she says Democrats are weak and Republicans who call the border issue --


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Soft invasion along our southern border.

FLORES: -- have it wrong.

She says it's a humanitarian crisis.

LINDSAY: When you say invasion, it's as if you're being attacked or if you're in danger. We're not in danger. I would just like people to not lose their humanity.

FLORES: Lindsay says she sympathizes with migrants, but worries because the camp has no sanitation facilities. And to keep warm, migrants build fires.

LINDSAY: It's not just our ranch that could go up in flames. I mean, this is our livelihood. This is not just our home.

FLORES: She calls on the federal government to hire more border patrol agents.

JOHN MODLIN, BORDER PATROL'S TUCSON SECTOR: We're inside the Arizona air coordination center.

FLORES: John Modlin leads the Border Patrol's Tucson sector, 262 miles of Arizona's border with Mexico.

Here, the border wall looks like the spine of a giant beast resting on jagged peaks.

MODLIN: By far, the most dangerous place on the southwest border to cross. FLORES: Modlin says one of his biggest frustrations is that the cartels smuggled thousands of migrants in the most remote areas in the east side of Arizona, bugging down his Border Patrol agents there while the cartels smuggle drugs and bad guys on the west side.

MODLIN: So what were not doing actively patrolling for the people that are trying to get away from us.

FLORES: He says its team has identified 30,000 gotaways or people entering the Tucson sector and evading arrest so far this fiscal year. But he just doesn't have enough four wheel drive vehicles and agents to chase them down.

Is that what keeps you up at night?

MODLIN: Yeah, absolutely.

It looks like a death sentence.

FLORES: Air and marine operations show was the trails a top mountains used by these smugglers and migrants who don't want to get caught.

MODLIN: Many times they're trafficking narcotics. It could be a criminal there are someone that possibly has malintent towards the United States

FLORES: All while many of Modlin's Border Patrol agents respond to what he calls a humanitarian mission, making repeated hours long drives and unforgiving terrain to apprehend parents like Merta.

She says that she left her seven children in Guatemala with her dad.

The Guatemalan mother, who liked so many migrants arrived with a crushed heart in search for opportunity to feed their family.


FLORES (on camera): We met so many families just like the ones that you saw in our story, who want to shirt the border wall and turn themselves in to immigration authorities. And according to the Tucson border patrol chief, he says that at the current pace migrant preventions this fiscal year could hit 800,000.


And just to give you some context on that figure, that nears the total number of the past three fiscal years combined -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Rosa.

All right. We have more news ahead, but first, a quick note. Be sure to check out the Saturday edition of our "5 Things" podcast called "5 Good Things". This is where you can take a breather. And hear all of the uplifting stories across the world.

You can find it wherever you get your podcasts. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)