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CNN This Morning

First Funeral for Nashville Victim; NYPD Ramps up Security following Trump Indictment; Safety Team Probing Chopper Crash in Kentucky; Russia Arrests American Journalist for Spying. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired March 31, 2023 - 06:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously to follow this historic indictment of former President Trump.

But first, newly released audio reveals some of the chilling 911 calls from the elementary school shooting in Nashville as funerals for the victims begin.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also, Russia has arrested an American reporter and accused him of being a spy. How the White House says it is responding. That's next.


HARLOW: Well, funerals begin today for the victims of the Nashville school shooting as that city and the entire nation more on the deaths -- the murder of three children and three teachers killed at Covenant Elementary School. A service for nine-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus will be held today. Guests were asked were pink or other joyful colors in tribute to Evelyn's light and love of color.

We are also, this morning, hearing for the first time just chilling 911 calls from that day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I saw was a man holding an assault rifle shooting thorough the doors. It was the - he's even - he's currently in the second grade hallway upstairs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second grade hallway. OK, you see a white man -



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has camouflage. He had a vest on an a assault rifle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going down the halls shooting. There's a glass - there's glass in the doors. [06:35:01]


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's shooting through the glass in the doors.


HARLOW: Well, Carlos Suarez joins us live outside the church where the service for Evelyn will be held this afternoon. And just to picture all the people who will walk in, in bright colors in honor of a little nine-year-old girl who loved that.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Poppy. Good morning.

Family, friends, loved ones, as well as members of this community here in Nashville are all expected to take part in this funeral service for nine-year-old Evelyn Dieckhaus. According to an obituary for that child, she was described as a beacon of joy to her family. Her faith was pure and her prayers were sincere. According to that obituary, the child's most prized possession was a large collection of stuffed animal tigers. All of them named Tony. The last time the family was at this church, we're told, was earlier this week, the night of -- the night of that shooting. We're told the family had gathered here after that shooting happened in the morning. They gathered here at night for a vigil.


HARLOW: Carlos, unimaginable pain for all of them. Thank you for being there. And we'll continue to watch as these services are held.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: So, security concerns escalating in New York after the historic indictment of the ex-president, Donald Trump. How police are preparing, that straight ahead, for his arraignment.



LEMON: Well, welcome back, everyone. Look at -- that's New York City, right?

So, uniformed New York police officers deployed all across this city after the historic Trump indictment. The department's internal memo states that all officers should be prepared for mobilization starting today ahead of the arraignment next Tuesday.

We are joined now by CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst, Mr. John Miller.

John, good morning to you.

So, a source is telling you - you have great sources, right - that the - JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I can confirm that.

LEMON: The Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals, having conversations. This is continuing conversations with all of law enforcement to try to coordinate this because this is unprecedented. So, what do you think they're most concerned about? Is it unrest or what?

MILLER: Well, they're most concerned about Tuesday. If you're going to bring Donald Trump in to be booked on criminal charges, they're not worried about how to get him in and get him out as much as they're worried about what kind of crowd could be generated. So, what are they looking at? They're looking at social media platforms. They're looking carefully at statements from Donald Trump and supporters about rallying people.

But the New York City Police Department is unique in this regard in that you've got 35,000 police officers. It's not like what we saw in Washington, D.C., where there are finite limits to that. I mean, when they thought he was going to be indicted Tuesday the week before last, their first effort at that was 10 mobile field forces on Monday, 14 on Tuesday. That comes out to 752 cops, of mobile field force, one lieutenant, five sergeants, 40 cops. These move as a group. But, you know, you can keep pressing that button and you can order another 1,000 cops or another and another.

So, what you're seeing today is a layering, a show of presence, not of force, to say, we're in - we're in place. And they have the entire police department in uniform today. If you're working narcotics, if you're on the terrorism squad, if you're in an administrative job, you were there in full uniform. All officers of all ranks, as of 7:00 a.m. today. So, what they are is at the ready.

COLLINS: Secret Service also will be here when Trump does come, if he comes on Tuesday, as we are expecting at this point. Paula Reid is reporting that -- confirming some "Politico" reporting, that Trump was actually asked to come and surrender today. That this indictment came down yesterday. They wanted him here. His attorney says, oh, that the - they needed more time and that the Secret Service would need to coordinate this surrender. Does that sound right to you?

MILLER: It does.


MILLER: It does. The Manhattan District Attorney's Office, when they were preparing to do this a couple of Mondays ago, before they had to take a step back and re-exam their process after the testimony of one of Trump's attorneys who actually defended Michael -

COLLINS: Bob Costello.

MILLER: Bob Costello, they - they were pressing to, you know, have him in within 24 to 48 hours of the indictment. They are trying to maintain this posture, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, that he would be treated like any other defendant. You've been charged. And unless -- you know, we're not going to go arrest you, but you have to present yourself relatively quickly. So, they haven't changed that posture.

Tuesday is relatively quickly. You know, you have a defendant who's in Florida, who's also, as you point out, under protection of the United States Secret Service, and, you know, who has stated tell me when and where and I'll be there.

HARLOW: I just had the thought, I wonder if wanting him to come right away on Friday, as Bragg's office did today, is also, you know, to not give time for a lot of people to mobilize, to come to the city. But, who knows?

Look, let me ask about your reporting last night. It was just fantastic. I was watching as you broke the news. Fantastic reporting that this indictment is large. Maybe not detailed, unless it's a speaking indictment, but large in terms of 30 plus charges relating to falsifying business records. What more are you learning?

MILLER: Well, I wouldn't read too much into the number of counts in the indictment.


MILLER: Because the number of counts -- and this is -- this is common in state prosecutions. If I stole your ATM card, that would be grand larceny. But every time I put it in a machine and took out $20, that's one count, two count, three counts.

HARLOW: That's a count. OK.


MILLER: So, in a case like this, this is a paper-driven case, every document that is filed in a case that's based on falsification of business records is potentially its own count. So, it sounds like a lot, but in terms of -- in terms of the crime, it doesn't tell us much more than how many steps were involved in doing this, allegedly.

HARLOW: Unless - unless there's conspiracy, right? Because then you would have a much more detailed indictment to be unsealed.

MILLER: Well, that's right. If it's a conspiracy, if they have cobbled together a web between the Stormy Daniels case and perhaps details from the McDougal case, and, you know, which lawyers were, you know, working with which newspaper publisher is being directed by others within the Trump Organization, then the conspiracy requires you to tell the story of the machinery of the -- and the participants and the steps of the conspiracy. And that's an indictment that requires a lot more storytelling. So, a bare bones indictment may be just the charges and each individual charge, a conspiracy, will tell us much more.


LEMON: Wanting him to turn himself in today, the speed with which they wanted him to turn himself in, I don't think that we should discount that or downplay it because Tuesday that's a long time for people to mobilize. Donald Trump loves a circus. They will probably try to get him to go in through, right, a -- the concealed place, like underground. But he probably wants to be out there in front of people saying, look, this is a witch hunt. That's what have you. That just ratchets this up. So, I think that, you know, we have to go, but we shouldn't downplay that, that -

MILLER: Well, I mean, there's that. But the NYPD, you know, has -- would - would have wanted time to prepare as well.

LEMON: Right.

MILLER: So, Tuesday is not that soon, and not that far off either.

LEMON: That was the first indication that something was happening, the NYPD preparing downtown. And if you've been down there, it is a circus. I was down there last week. It is a circus around the courthouse downtown.

Thank you, John.

HARLOW: Thanks.

LEMON: Good to see you.

COLLINS: We're going to continue to cover this historic indictment of former President Trump, but we're also following other news here, including a military investigative team now on the ground near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for news we brought you yesterday morning. They're trying to figure out why two Black Hawk helicopters crashed, ultimately killing nine U.S. service members. We have a live report on the ground ahead.



HARLOW: Well, this morning, a military investigative team is on the ground in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, trying to find out what caused the deadly crash of two Black Hawk helicopters. This happened during a training mission on Wednesday night, and it claimed the lives of nine U.S. service members.

Our Dianne Gallagher is live for us in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

It's a tragedy, and in training that this happened. What are you learning about this investigation?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, these special aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, arrived just before 8:00 p.m. Central Time last night. And we're told that they've been working through the night at that crash site, trying to gather evidence and figure out exactly what caused those two Black Hawk helicopters to crash on Wednesday night.

Now, we do have some weather that's moving in. So, we're told that they will work thoroughly but are going to have to work quickly. They have lights up around that crash site and tarps as well to preserve that scene from the weather, but also to make it easier for them to work.

According to the 101st Airborne Division, they were -- those Black Hawks were performing a multi ship formation in a training with night vision goggles. These are medevac variants of the Black Hawk helicopter. When the crash happened, there was no radioing for help beforehand. When it comes to those nine service members who were killed, we do not expect that we will have identification of them today, but it could come as early as tomorrow.

HARLOW: Dianne, we're glad you're there. Thank you for the reporting.

COLLINS: Also this morning, newly released video appears to show "The Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich arriving at a Moscow court yesterday after he was arrested on espionage charges. The White House now says it is fighting for consular access for the American citizen, saying that the charges are, quote, ridiculous.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a priority for this administration. Regardless of whether someone has received a wrongful detention designation, the State Department seeks counselor access for all Americans held abroad. And that's what we're waiting to do. That's what we're fighting for, to get - get that council representation for Evan at this time.


COLLINS: CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Moscow this morning.

Matthew, we talked about this yesterday when this hit. We were just hearing and learning about these charges. What do we know about where Evan is now and what's next for him?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that video is interesting because you saw Evan Gershkovich arriving at the Lefortovo Courthouse, which is in central Moscow. It's part of a larger sort of complex of sort of prison facilities.

When he was inside the court, the court designated his case top secret, which means details and not being made public. It emerged that he has not accepted guilt for the crime of espionage for which he's been charged, and the court arraigned him in pre-trial detention until May the 29th. So, nearly two months from now when he gets his next day in court.

In terms of where he is now, well, that's not being revealed publicly. But I think the expectation is probably he's probably at that Lefortovo prison in that pre-trial detention center. That's where lots of people accused of this serious offense of espionage are held.

In terms of access to him, well, we know the United States is pushing hard the Russian authorities to get consular access to Evan Gershkovich. But at the moment, at least the latest week know, is that that access has not yet been granted. And so, obviously, when that happens, you know, we'll probably get more details about where he is and how he is.

COLLINS: Yes. His attorney wasn't even allowed in the courtroom yesterday.

Matthew Chance, I know you'll keep tracking this. We'll check back in with you. Thank you.

Also ahead, the Marine Corps veteran, Trevor Reed, who spent nearly three years in a Russian prison and has a rare insight into this, tells us what he thinks Evan Gershkovich might be going through right now.



TREVOR REED, U.S. MARINE CORPS VETERAN IMPRISONED IN RUSSIA FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS: Taking a journalist, that kind of puts it into perspective for you how desperate the Russians have become. I think, you know, the next step after taking our journalists hostage there is basically diplomats is the next level.


COLLINS: Trevor Reed says there's no doubt in his mind that Evan is being held as a hostage.

You can see more of my interview with Trevor Reed in the next hour.

DK: An historic moment. Donald Trump has been indicted. He is slated to appear in court next week. We have now entered unprecedented territory. His allies erupted in furry. The White House still quiet. What will happen next? We have our CNN legal experts standing by, lawyers for both Trump and Michael Cohen will join us. Their reaction to the indictment. So, stay close.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: No sitting or former president has ever been charged with a crime until now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, they're not coming after me, they're coming after you, and I'm just standing in their way.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I think the unprecedented indictment of a former president of the United States on a campaign.