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CNN International: Crews Work To Open Alternate Channel Near Baltimore Bridge; Iran Says At Least 5 Killed In Strike On Consular In Syria; FBI: SUV Being Inspected By Bomb Squad After Ramming Office Gate; U.S. And Israel Hold Virtual Meeting On Rafah; Trump Amps Up Attacks On Prosecutors, Judges As 1st Trial Looms; Next Monday: Total Eclipse Visible Across Parts Of U.S. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 15:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: It is 8:00 p.m. in London, 10:00 p.m. in Istanbul, 3:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, 3:00 p.m. here in Washington, I'm Jim Sciutto. Thanks so much for joining me today on CNN NEWSROOM.

And let's get right to the news. We begin in Baltimore where crews have begun the process of removing debris from the water from the catastrophic bridge collapse in Baltimore, Maryland. Over the weekend, demolition crews began cutting a portion of the bridge taken down by the 213 million-pound cargo ship Dali. That work as part of an effort to open a temporary channel that would allow ships in the water to pass as officials tried to get reopen access to the port of Baltimore for construction crew members who were thrown from the bridge remain missing as conditions in the water still too dangerous for divers.

Today, the White House announced President Biden will visit the site on Friday.

CNN's Pete Muntean is back on the scene for us today.

Pete, I wonder, do we know how soon a passage for ships might open there?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Officials no definitive timeline, just yet, Jim. It seems like this temporary alternate channel being opened up by the state of Maryland and the Coast Guard, and the Army Corps of Engineers could open up a lot sooner than they will be able to clear the Patapsco River and the debris scattered across it and the MV Dali, which is still pinned in place here.

But you can see some of the larger heavy-lift cranes that are now in place behind me. The U.N. Navy just gave us an update and they say that three heavy-lift cranes are now on site here in Baltimore harbor, the Chesapeake, that is the big 1,000 ton lift capacity crane, along with another crime called the Oyster Bay. Another one called the Ferrell. They have a fraction of the lifting capacity that the Chesapeake does.

But the operation now is really focused on cut and chunk and then move, when you consider the fact that there's about 3,000 to 4,000 tons of debris that are now scattered in the way here of the port of Baltimore. And those cranes only have about 1,000 or maybe a few hundred your pen lifting capacity. They have to break it up into smaller bite-sized chunks, then move it so that you can clear out the way here. Remember, the MV Dali is pinned in place here. There is debris across its bow.

And so after they able to open up this temporary alternate lane, then they will be able to move the Dali and then when the real work begins, that is one they will really start in earnest to clear the debris that is completely blocking off the port of Baltimore here and the churning of this port that directly impacts about 8,000 to 15,000 jobs. So this is really central, not only did the economy in Baltimore, but also the economy in Maryland, a place where a lot of cars are exported, a lot of commodities like salt and sugar come into the port of Baltimore.

This is huge. There was a global impact here, and so there was a lot of activity and now a lot of trepidation about when this will actually be able to be reopened. Although we could find out here in the next few minutes from Governor Wes Moore, who is expected to update the media just a little bit more about what the timeline is. Officials have been really, really gun shy about being able to say specifically, when this could actually be reopened.

They don't want to make platitude nor false promises about when this could really ultimately get moving again but a lot more activity here than we have seen in days past, and we're still finding out more about when this could reopen, although no definitive timeline yet.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, we're going to bring to you those comments from the Maryland governor when they begin. Of course, the cost estimated by one congressman, many millions of dollars per day.

I wonder, are investigators as they look at this any closer to determining? What caused the power outage on that ship before it slammed into the bridge?

MUNTEAN: That is the big mystery. NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy says, all of the data is clear that there was a power outage on board the ship. They just do not know the source of the power outage on board the ship. We will not here on site from the National Transportation Safety Board, again, it seems although they have been onboard the Dali multiple times, and remember the 21 members of the crew are still living on board the ship.

And so, there was a lot of activity happening. They want to be able to interview the crew, especially the key members of the crew, were also waiting to hear for about whether or not the NTSB has talked to both of the port of Baltimore pilots who were onboard the ship, essentially guiding it through the 50 foot-deep channel here and out in the Chesapeake Bay and then out into the Atlantic Ocean.


SCIUTTO: And another question just as they as they go through this process there - here, who does the cutting? How do they cut the debris before those cranes, three of them now, massive grains are cranes were able to bring them up. Is that -- I imagined that supposed to surface job and an underwater job.

MUNTEAN: Yeah, both. The big thing is that this is mostly an Army Corps of Engineers operation and they're really just calling this more and more of a salvage operation. The Army Corps has said to the federal government, essentially, they're doing this free of charge. The federal government has released 60 million in emergency funds already to try and get this operation moving and up to full steam.

So this is going to take a lot of money and a lot of people power to get things back to normal here, although it's going to take some time.

MUNTEAN: No question. Pete Muntean thanks so much for updating us. As we wait for that press conference from the Maryland Governor Wes Moore updating on the situation there.

We're also covering stories overseas, including the U.S.-Israel holding virtual talks today on Israel still planned incursion into Rafah in Gaza. The Biden administration is still working to persuade Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of alternative ways which the U.S. believes Israel can dismantle Hamas in the southern Gaza City of Rafah without launching a ground offensive, where some 1 million Palestinians are currently sheltering.

Here's how White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reviewed or previewed, rather, that conversation.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If they are going to move forward with a military operations, we have to have this conversation, we have to understand how they're going to move forward. We and I'll say one more thing when Jake Sullivan was here at the podium not too long ago, he believed and he said there are alternative -- alternative ways of doing this, alternative ways of going after Hamas.


SCIUTTO: For more on those talks, whether they got anywhere, CNN's Kylie Atwood joins me now.

Kylie, this difference has been very public between the U.S. president and the Israeli leader for some time, the U.S. does not want Israel to go into Rafah. They say the risks of the civilian population are too great. Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting he's going to go ahead anyway. Does this call make any progress towards figuring out who comes out on top?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer, Jim, is that we just don't know yet because these conversations happen this morning. There is scheduled to last for about two hours, or understanding row officials, they lasted a little bit over that period of time. But as you said, the prime minister of Israel and the president of the United States have been directly at odds with one another when it comes to an operation in Rafah with Netanyahu saying that it is necessary to carry out a ground invasion there in order to destroy Hamas and the Biden administration believing that there are more specific attacks that can be taken, precision strikes that can be taken in Rafah that would achieve the same outcome.

And U.S. officials have also pointed out to Israel that their reputation is also on the line here as the world is watching, you know, what happens with the Israel-Hamas war and the numbers of civilians that have been killed, they fear, of course, that an all out assault on Rafah ground operation there would really jeopardize the lives of innocent civilians who live there, 1.5 million of them approximately.

So what we're watching to see is we talked two sources after this meeting today is if they were to people to have any sort of productive conversation given just how different the two sides are going into this meeting today. This meeting was supposed to happen last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hold it down because of the U.S. move when it came to that U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire and an immediate one at that.

And so the fact that it was rescheduled today, of course, is forward movement. It was virtual, however. And so, U.S. officials are also looking to potentially have these conversations in person. We'll have to see if that actually falls out as well.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. They're talking, whether they're agreeing, I imagined is another matter. Kylie Atwood at the State Department, thanks so much.

Also oversees, a top commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard has been killed in an airstrike on Iran consulate building in the Syrian capital of Damascus. According to Iranian state affiliated media, Iran's ambassador says it was hit by six missiles fired, Iran says, by Israel.

CNN's Nic Robertson, he's in London. He's been following this.

Nic, I mean, a remarkable strike, a bold strike in downtown Lebanon and downtown Beirut here, multiple missiles. What do we know?

Israel has not yet commented on this, has it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Israeli officials have been asked about it, but, Jim, I mean, we were both familiar with what Israel says when there are questions about strikes in Damascus, in Syria, as was the case here.


And they typically say, and they've said it this time that they don't comment on what the foreign media says. And I think here, there, meaning the Iranians and the Syrians.

But this is a very, very significant strike and the Iranian ambassador who spoke on camera, said that the response will be decisive. We've heard similar from the Iranian foreign minister in Tehran, from the foreign ministry spokesman. So this clearly and obviously has put the Iranians backs up.

We now know that the death toll there was seven, at least seven so far. And another senior IRGC commander was among those dead, along with Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who was very senior. He was a former ground forces commander, a former air force commander within the IRGC. In fact, he appears to be the most senior IRGC person to be killed since Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, was killed in a drone strike by the United States in early 2020.

And we saw Iran's response back then. It will be different this time. However, it is very clear that this is something that is rarely going to push Iran to want to show decisively that that it doesn't want this to happen anymore.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, that's right. Of course, I said Lebanon by mistake. Of course, Damascus in Syria.

The IRGC has now issued a statement saying confirming the two commanders were killed in the strike. Again, Israel's not confirming its participation to next point. They rarely if ever, do in strikes like this one.

Do we have a sense of how Iran has responded to strikes like this in the past? I recall, for instance, when the U.S. took out a senior Iranian commander that there were attacks targeting U.S forces in the region.

ROBERTSON: Yeah, there were huge miss are barrage has many U.S. service personnel were injured when they were sheltering on their bases. That petered out pretty quickly because the Iranians in their haste to shoot down everything that they thought was coming towards Tehran, shutdown a passenger jet.

But so, they will reach out and they will hit. You know, the calculation that Israel has been making so far and thinking back to Christmas day, strike in Damascus, they killed a very senior IRGC advisor talking into experts in Israel and one of the experts I was speaking to at the time was former head of defense intelligence and plotted and planned operations for Israel inside Syria before that had gone on an unannounced and unclaimed afterwards. He told me that Israel felt that it was walking up to a red line, not crossing a red line because it believed that this these targets, were not sufficient to draw Iran into a massive war, because the cost would be too high for Iran.

But right now, look, Israel's under huge pressure domestically to open up and allow people back to its northern border, or 100,000 people are outside of their homes away from the northern border. That's because the tension with Hezbollah as a proxy of Iran, as you've very well- known, Jim. And so, a strike like this against Iran potentially has the impact of Hezbollah escalating. And there are certain factions and political side, military side in Israel would like nothing better than for Hezbollah to escalate so that they can escalate against Hezbollah because they believe that Hezbollah is a long, an ongoing threat for Israel.

SCIUTTO: No question. I heard demands for military actually gets Hezbollah in northern Israel, no question.

Nic Robertson, we know you're going to be following this very closely. Thanks so much.

Still to come this hour, I'm going to speak to the chiefs spokesperson for the Israeli defense forces. Not only about this strike in Damascus, but also lands were a possible incursion into Rafah, and more.

Please do stay with us.



SCIUTTO: A strike in Damascus, Syria, has killed, according to Iran, two senior IRGC commanders.

Joining us now to discuss this and other issues, a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

Admiral, thanks for taking the time this afternoon.


SCIUTTO: First, let me ask you about this strike in Damascus. Was Israel involved?

HAGARI: I'm not going to comment to that strike, but I want to tell you that in the last six months, Iran is making this region escalate. She is the main actor. She's the main actor that makes atrocities in this region using the proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen.

Even this morning, an Iranian UAV have hit an Israeli based in Eilat. Iran is an actor that brings escalation in the region (ph). I heard you talking before that with Nic and I want to make sure that according to our intelligence, this is no consulate and this is no embassy.

I repeat. This is no consulate and this is no embassy. This is a military building of Quds Forces disguised as a civilian building in Damascus.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this because back here in Washington, virtual talks between U.S. and Israeli officials. We understand just wrapped subject of those conversations Israelis -- Israel's possible plans to go into Rafah in Gaza. As you know, the U.S. president and other officials have been urging Israel that there are other options to accomplish its goals.

Is Israel still committed to a military incursion into Rafah? HAGARI: The next Sunday, it will be six months to this war. The 7th of October, a horrific massacre occurred. We did not want this war. We had to do this war in order to make sure that 7th of October will never happen again, never again.

We still have an obligation to 134 hostages that are being held in Gaza in horrific conditions. Some of them are in Rafah. I repeat, some of them are in Rafah.

And we need to make sure that the military framework of Hamas is dismantled. There will be conditions to the operation in Rafah. The main conditions is to make sure that the population, the innocent Palestinians who were suffering because of Hamas, they will be evacuated safely to a safer zone that will have medical facilities like field hospitals, housing, like tenants, food, water.

We need to make sure it will happen.


We need to be coordinated with Egypt and the United States. We know how to do that, and we will do that. Those are the conditions.

SCIUTTO: So you're saying that condition will be met. In other words, the civilian residents of Rafah will be removed evacuated prior to any military incursion?

HAGARI: We -- like we operated all over Gaza. In the beginning in the north, we call the population to move to a safer zone, (INAUDIBLE) Gaza. We made sure that this area will be safe.

This is the same thing we'll do, according to the international law, with the help and assistance -- we need the help and assistance of international organizations. I'm calling them provide those field hospitals. We are flooding these days, the Gaza Strip with humanitarian aid. In a couple of more weeks with united central command, we will build the temporary pier and bring more trucks and aid into the Gaza Strip.

All these aid, humanitarian aid will create that the population, the innocent population Palestinians, will have more food, water, and medical equipment. This is our plan. We know that we are fighting Hamas, not the innocent people of Gaza.

SCIUTTO: I want to get to aid in a moment, but you say that those areas in prior military operations by the IDF were made safe. The record challenges that statement. UNICEF estimates more than 13,000 children have been killed in military operations, so far in Gaza.

Have you, in your view, has the IDF in your view, shown sufficient care for the civilian population of Gaza today?

HAGARI: This war is a tragedy. We did not want this war, and Hamas has, we suffered for Hamas also, the Palestinians in Gaza suffering because of Hamas, because Hamas is embedding himself in the civilian neighborhoods, in the hospitals we just finished an operation in Shifa hospitals. There were only 300 patients and Medicares and 900 suspicion in terror that among them already more than 500, we identified as terrorists.

Hamas is using those facilities and those safe for zones in order to wage terror on Israel. So, we act with intelligence, with accurate strikes in a fortunately in some cases, innocent civilians die. We -- we do lesson learning.

All this war, all this war we do that in order to minimize the harm of civilians and to increase the humanitarian aid and to try to finish this war with minimum casualties to civilians. But again --

SCIUTTO: Okay, I'm not -- I'm not going to --

HAGARI: -- we did not start this war.

SCIUTTO: I'm not going to invest Hamas with any concern for civilians. It's own track record is clear on that, but Israel -- Israeli Defense Forces have agency in this as well, down to simple decisions such as the weapons and munitions that you use, 2,000 pound bombs that have a kill radius far beyond whatever the intended target might be. And we've seen that in a number of instances.

And I just wonder, will the IDF commit itself to tactics, weapons targeting that will avoid the civil casualties -- civilian casualties that we've seen so far? The numbers are -- the numbers are almost incredible to read.

HAGARI: It's important that you asked me that and it will be on record that I said that we did not throw a dumb bomb, not even one. We did not do any carpet dummy, any carpet bombing.


SCIUTTO: But its the size of the munitions as you know, its not just that it's targeted, its the size on the blast radius. We've seen this multiple times since this conflict started.

HAGARI: No, no, no, no, no dumb bombs. No carpet bombing. And you know what?


SCIUTTO: I didn't say dumb, I didn't say dumb. I said the size of munitions that is clearly killing civilians separate from the target of those attacks. We've seen it multiple times since the start of this hostility.

HAGARI: I want to repeat it again. I want to repeat again because it's important, any American general that will visit here the Israeli air force and the Israeli intelligence and will be involved in those strikes will see that we do it, and I'm going to repeat it, more cautiously, than any army in the world. We have so much lawyers in the room, and so much intelligence in the room in any strikes that we conduct. And we're open to show it. We're not hiding anything. And of course,

when people hide in buildings, terrorists are taking embedding yourselves inside building with civilians, when they wage war from hospitals, when they use and build tunnels underneath the city, of course, innocent civilians are dying.


Unfortunately, it's a tragedy. I want to repeat, it's a tragedy. Palestinians are suffering because of Hamas and we need to do everything we can to minimize it. We need to do everything we can.

And from everything that we did wrong we studied and we can clear with that, well, on the position of us generally, we do know there have been differences because there's quite public differences between the U.S. president and Israeli leadership on the conduct of this war.

I do want to ask you about humanitarian aid before we go. You say you're allowing in a great deal of humanitarian aid. I'm sure you have been as moved by the images that the world has seen of residents of Gaza rushing into the water to get food to feed their families, right? And you've seen the condition of people there, there are instances of malnutrition.

How can that be consistent with enough aid getting into Gaza?

HAGARI: We are worried for the situation, but we are working to prevent a famine inside Gaza. We do everything we can to flood this as we're doing that we are coordinating and facilitating all those roads and coordinating the trucks and building the temporary pier, we will be the ones building it. We want Gaza flooded with humanitarian aid already only in the last couple of weeks, we've doubled the amount of trucks and food by WFP inside the north of Gaza. We're working with different kind of organization.

I'm using here, this stage, you give me, and I'm calling every international organization, every country to support more humanitarian aid. More airdrops to facilitate more trucks, to bring more aid into Gaza. We will coordinate it.

It's our interests that the Palestinians will not suffer. We are after Hamas and we want to make sure that we distinguished between the population and the terrorists.

SCIUTTO: But before we go, I know that the Israeli leadership is now talking about an international assistance force or peacekeeping force. If you want to use that term, multinational force post postwar. Has Israel received any commitments for such a force from regional powers or from the United States or others?

HAGARI: The most important thing in the end game is that Hamas will not control Gaza. There will be an alternative for Hamas. I think between the possibility of Hamas not controlling Gaza and the others, in other side that Israel -- and I repeat it -- the IDF will not construct a military administration in Gaza, there is a wide possibilities, and I think there's wide possibilities are some of the options that you made. But we need to make sure that when we dismantle the military framework of Hamas, we will bring something else, so there will be an alternative for the Palestinians in Gaza.

And also, the problem is not with the humanitarian aid entering into Gaza. The problem is with the distribution mechanism. And part of this distribution mechanism problem, this -- is building this alternative to Hamas.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, we do appreciate you taking the time to join us on the show.

HAGARI: Thank you so much, Jim. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: We do have breaking news back here in the United States from Atlanta. A man is now in custody after ramming an SUV into the gate of the FBI field office in Atlanta.

CNN's Ryan Young has more.

Ryan, what do we know about the suspect, the incident? Did he get through the gate? Tell us what you know.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He definitely did not get through the gate, Jim. Luckily, there have an active system there at that gate, almost a ramp system. You can see it there in the corner, that yellow barrier that pops up after another the car goes through and someone tries to rush through.

From what I'm told from sources on the ground, this man tried to slip his way through that gate system, was caught by the edge of the gate and then that ram system deployed, stopping him. And were not sure if he tried to ramp a few more times, but then he popped out and started running trying to get access that FBI building.

Some agents who are already in that parking lot, were able to quickly get to him, secure him, and stop him from getting any further. We're told that this point it doesn't seem like he had any sort of weapons on his body. They then brought a bomb squad end to check out the vehicle.

Jim, you understand that. That's an SUV. Not sure if he was trying to use it as a weapon. So they used that bomb squad while to go through that vehicle to see what was on the inside. Once they found out that there was no weapons inside that car, they moved a little closer.

We're told the man who did this has been taken to a hospital for some sort of evaluation.


We're not sure if he's injured or anything like that, but he's going to be evaluated, then hell be turned over to the local police. And the local police will then further book him into jail.

So at this point, trying to figure out the man's name, maybe his motive, whether or not there was any online presence before all of this that pushed him to try to make this move. This is an office park just outside the city limits of Atlanta. It's in a place called DeKalb County. And so, you can understand and the heightened sense of security.

And you can see those too heavy personal of armored vehicles that booked in that car at one point, they took that defensive posture just to make sure that there was going to be any sort of blast from that car or anything else that we could come out of there. So they've given pretty much the all clear in the areas they do this investigation and swelling in resources, state and local just to make sure everything was clean and everything was done right.

The man's name has not been released just yet. Of course, we're still checking into that. So, a very active situation, but obviously, at a federal building, at FBI, Atlanta. You can understand the concern that so many people have right now.

SCIUTTO: That's right. They do say the suspect is in custody when you look at that gate there, those gates are designed expressly to stop vehicles like that. And it appears that it did exactly that.

Ryan Young, thanks so much.

YOUNG: Absolutely

SCIUTTO: Please do stay with us. We'll be right back after a short break.


SCIUTTO: We've just spoken with the spokesperson for the Israeli defense forces, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, who told us that Israeli forces will move into Rafah in Gaza, though he said that they will remove civilian residents of the area before those operations start.

Joining me now to discuss is Ambassador James Jeffrey.


He's a former us envoy for Syria engagement, also former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey.

Ambassador, thanks for taking the time.


SCIUTTO: So they're going forward. Is that in defiance of U.S. demands or in cooperation with U.S. demands?

JEFFREY: That's a good question, Jim, and tough to answer.

First, Israeli United States are closing allies and partners and they have a common interest in returning the region to security and stability in deterring Iran. That's the framework because this is a regional fight as we just saw are in Damascus. The problem is the administration knows that you have to defeat Hamas in Gaza to move forward to the day after and they have never said don't go into Rafah. Explicitly, they've said do it in a way that doesn't create the kind of civilian casualties that you just discussed with the Israeli spokesperson.

And that's what they did today in the video conference with Israeli Minister Ron Dermer and Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan to try to work out ways to do this that will minimize, you can eliminate but minimize civilian casualties.

SCIUTTO: Hagari said that they will remove the refugees first, give safe passage to civilians first before going in. We're talking more than a million people. Is that at all possible?

JEFFREY: First of all, they don't have the detailed plans from what I understand. Secondly, they did something like this in the north and between 85 and 95 -- 90 percent of the population did leave and they gave them several weeks to get out of there. Nonetheless, there was high civilian casualties among the people who remained and we still have several hundred thousand there.

So there's always going to be, and that's been our experience in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, significant civilian casualties if an enemy force decides to hunker down in a civilian urban area.

SCIUTTO: Is this what the U.S. administration was looking for in the end? Was not so much an immediate end to operations, but military operations with greater care for civilians? Because -- I mean, the public rift between Netanyahu and Biden seems quite sharp. But based on the description of plans going forward, it seems like the U.S. and Israel for better or for worse, or an agreement.

JEFFREY: Jim, it's three separate things, again, within the framework of, we go to war with the allies you have. In the Middle East at a very dangerous time, Israel is the top of the list?

First, there is humanitarian delivery. There the has really have not lived up to what President Biden expected and urge them to do. They need to flood Gaza with humanitarian assistance.

Second, the day after. What are you going to do to replace Hamas once you've cleared them out? There, there's disagreement, too.

The Israelis have a plan that nobody thinks will work at least outside of Israel. The United States has a somewhat better one again, that you discussed with the spokesperson. It's better, but it still isn't there yet, but it's a basis to work on.

The third thing is how do you finish off Hamas in Rafah, along the Egyptian border, shut off to smuggling tunnels from Egypt and get the hostages back? That requires a military operation of some sort, unless Hamas is willing to talk about a surrender, and the administration is trying to channel that to reduce civilian casualties and impossibly to buy time for a longer ceasefire and maybe even real negotiations.

SCIUTTO: You heard Admiral Hagari there say that as far as age is concerned, enough because getting in, it's just a distribution problem. Is that true?

JEFFREY: It is both. The way you do this, having been involved in these as you flood in much more aid, then a distribution system can competently are effectively handle simply to have this stuff all over. That's why were dropping in stuff by parachute good and trying to use a ship ban approach because a lot of the aid is not going to be distributed.

This is chaos. It's over 100,000 troops at times fighting in an area about twice the size of Washington.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. Are we any closer to the end of this war? I mean, is the end of this current war in Gaza within sight?

JEFFREY: Yes. Once he is released, go into Rafah either it will be a step-by-step, a battle as we just saw in Khan Younis to the north of Rafah. That took about two months and there were less civilian casualties here because he is really the learning as they're going along.

And at that point, I think this will get to the real negotiations because Hamas holds when ace in the hole, which is a hostages, he is really are in a position where they can destroy Hamas is an organized military force. And so, at that point, I think you will see you negotiations.

SCIUTTO: Ambassador James Jeffrey, thanks so much for joining.

JEFFREY: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Still to come this hour, back to the breaking news in Atlanta. Man is now in custody after ramming his vehicle. You see it there into the front gate of the FBI field office in Atlanta. We'll have another update coming up.



SCIUTTO: Back to the breaking news in Atlanta, a driver rammed an SUV into the gate of an FBI field office in Atlanta attempting it seems to gain entry the gate popped up a vehicle blocking Gaetz stopped the car in its tracks? No FBI person personnel injured. The suspect has not yet been named, but is in custody, also was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

CNN chief law enforcement analyst, John Miller, joins me now for more.

John, I wonder what the next steps are here. How do they assess this situation? What was behind it, and if there's any ongoing threat?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, right now, it doesn't appear that there's any ongoing threat after this individual approach that 1225, that employee entrance to the FBI complex, and then tried after the gate opened to ram past that barrier.

The barrier did its job. He was taken into custody. FBI officials tell us that he made no statements to them after he was taken into custody, nor did he have any weapons on him. A search of the car, which was done by FBI special agent bomb technicians, resulted in no explosives being found. They took a cooler out of the back. They X-rayed a couple of things inside.

But it appears that for now the scene is clear and that the FBI's evidenced response team will take over inventory of the car and FBI agents from Atlanta with headquarters closely monitoring that well be doing a background on the individual who was driving, who I'm told has no criminal record has a background in the military, has been out for some time and selling insurance in another state.

So he's not ringing any bells in FBI databases and officials say he may well be going through some kind of mental health episode, which is why they're having him evaluated at a hospital, one, to figure out if he has any physical injuries from ramming the barrier, of course, he's in custody.


And two, take a look at what's going on with him personally.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, not going to assign any proposed motives to do an action like this. But what else do they look at beyond doing a mental health checkup at this point, beyond criminal background, you say no criminal background? What else will investigators be looking at in order to determine a motive?

MILLER: Well, they're going to be looking on his social media. They're going to be talking to his family and employers. They're going to be trying to figure out what has been going on in the world of this individual who they know his name and background already.

But I think they're also looking into part of a trend that we've seen, Jim, you know, about this, remember back in August of '22, in a very similar incident or at least an incident that begins in similar ways, an individual tried to breach the visitors entrance at the FBI's office in Cincinnati. That individual had an AR-15 rifle and a nail gun. He was confronted by agents, fled picked up by state troopers in a rural area later, and then died in a shootout.

His postings, and that individual was Ricky Shiffer, a 42-year-old man. His postings indicated anger since the search of Donald Trumps home at Mar-a-Lago and that he was ready to take on the FBI and that people should be gearing up for war. So, that came spilling out right away.

I'm told from people who have looked at the social media involving the individual taken into custody today, there's nothing like that apparent. But, of course, they've just started to dig into that as have we. SCIUTTO: No question. And there's a reason why installations like this

have security, like we're seeing there.

John Miller, always good to have you on. Thanks so much.

MILLER: You've got it, Jim. Thanks.

And still to come, Trump returns to the campaign trail after nearly two weeks of courtroom appearances, but not before an angry and at times violent social media tirade. We'll explain, next.


SCIUTTO: Angry and online. That is how former President Donald Trump spent at least part of his weekend as he prepares to return to the campaign trail this week. On his social media platform, Truth Social, Trump unleashed a flurry of rage-filled posts amplifying violent imagery against his opponents, and assailing judges and prosecutors overseeing his many legal cases, calling them, among other things, crooked, deranged evil, and sick.


On Easter Sunday, the president who recently called the Bible his, quote, favorite book, posted this message beginning: Happy Easter to all, including crooked and corrupt prosecutors and judges that are doing everything possible to interfere with the presidential election of 2024. And put me in prison. Happy Easter.

CNN's Kristen Holmes, who covers the Trump campaign, joins me now for more.

Kristen, do Trump's advisers as his campaign have any explanation for that sort of tirade and particularly the kind of language he used against some of those involved in these cases against him, Jim.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And, Jim, the short answer is no, they don't. In fact, they defend what Donald Trump posts. I remind you that on Friday, he posted a video of Biden -- it was an image of Biden tied up with his hands and feet in the back of a pickup truck. When asked about why he posted that, his campaign said that it was something he saw when he was in Long Island and just posted the video despite the fact that it is obviously dangerous and dark imagery there.

This is something that Donald Trump has long done. This is something that his team also does. If you ask them ever for a statement, they almost always respond with this kind of vitriol and this kind of rhetoric.

Donald Trump's strategy when it comes to these various legal cases has been the same, which is to discredit the prosecutors, to discredit the judges. And what we saw over the weekend saw that he was lashing out, particularly at is impending trial in New York, the judge there and the daughter of the judge there. Now, in addition to the fact that Trump has a gag order on him in that case placed by the judge, the district attorney went back last week to ask, is that gag order applied to the judges daughter as well, and we still don't have an answer on that, the district attorney saying that it should apply in this case. But again, Jim, we have seen this time and time again, we have seen this for years really since 2015, but obviously now with these legal issues, it has escalated in a very different way. There is nothing in terms of Donald Trumps team for them to interpret or for them to defend, because this is exactly how Donald Trump has chosen to defend himself in these various legal battles.

SCIUTTO: And also even outside of legal battles, it's the way he talks about people who he deems to be his critics or don't support him.

You're now in Wisconsin where Trump is traveling for the first campaign events in two weeks. Where in particularly is targeting during his visits to both Wisconsin and Michigan?

HOLMES: Well, if these are both critical battleground states or states of Donald Trump won back in 2016 and then lost in 2020. And they're both considered essential on the pathway back to the White House. Donald Trump is going to be here in green bay, Wisconsin where we are holding a rally it does seem like there's going to be very good attendance. One thing that's interesting about the state of Wisconsin is it was such a narrow margin that Donald Trump lost by, in 2020 and his team really feels like they can turn this around.

I talked to one campaign adviser who said they have not put any money into the state yet, but all of the information that they're seeing is showing him virtually tied with President Joe Biden here now I didn't, as we know, has visited this state multiple times and he has sent surrogates here.

Donald Trump has not been here since 2020 to Biden's team also is flooding the airwaves here. We've seen that. Donald Trump has not put any money toward ad campaigns at this point, but yet they are still feeling somewhat confident. Now whether or not confidence is backed up or is misplaced, we're just going to have to wait and find out.

But I will tell you, I've talked to a number of voters here in one voter in particular who was really interesting, who said that they voted for Trump in 2016, was tired of him in 2020, didn't vote for anyone, but that they and several of their friends, were going to go back to voting for Donald Trump in 2016. We, of course, will be on this to see if this is a pattern when talking to voters or if this is just a small microcosm.

But, of course, every bit of information counts when we know this phrase is going to be so incredibly close.

SCIUTTO: Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

So prepare your eclipse glasses. We are officially one week out from a total solar eclipse crossing the United States on April 8. More than 30 million people across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada will be able to see the moons shadow completely block out the sun next Monday, the eclipses, totality is expected to first hit Mexico, Pacific coast round to o 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. It will take a little over an hour to complete its path before moving off of the U.S. East Coast.

With more on the solar eclipse and how you can safely view the phenomenon, that's important, here is CNN's Coy Wire.


COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A total solar eclipse, it happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking out the light.


On April 8th, more than 32 million people across Mexico, the United States, and Canada could see the sun completely darkened by the moon's shadow.

And that moment of total darkness could last more than four minutes in some places. It's also going to be the last one for quite some time. A total solar eclipse won't happen again in the United States for another 20 years.

Location is key. The total eclipse is only visible inside a very narrow track, known as the path of totality. It stretches more than 10 U.S. states from Texas through Maine, and the timing changes depending on where you are within that path.

People outside that narrow band will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse. That's when the moon only blocks part of the sun's face. That should be visible in all 48 contiguous U.S. states.

Now if you're planning on peeking at a total or partial eclipse, remember to get you some certified eclipse glasses, regular sunglasses not strong enough to protect your eyes, otherwise severe eye damage can occur. A solar retina burn can permanently injure your eyes, and you might not even feel it until it's too late.


SCIUTTO: Our thanks to Coy Wire.

They are pretty cool to see if you haven't seen one yet. Join us next Monday for the total solar eclipse as it travels from Mexico, across North America into Canada, experience the total eclipse from numerous locations along with plenty of science and excitement along the way. Our special coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Thanks so much all of you for joining me today. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.