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CNN This Morning

Coast Guard: Six Missing People Now Presumed Dead; Supreme Court To Decide On Abortion Pill Access; RFK Jr.: "Our Campaign Is A Spoiler"; Wet Weather As Cold Front Creeps Over East Coast. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired March 27, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Wednesday, March 27th.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:


GOV. WES MOORE (D), MARYLAND: This is not just -- not just unprecedented from what we're seeing and what we're looking at today, it's heartbreaking.


HUNT: The search now suspended for six workers who were on the Francis Scott Key Bridge when it collapsed.

And the Supreme Court set to decide whether to restrict access to an abortion pill used by millions American women.

And Donald Trump gagged. What the former president cannot say at his upcoming hush money trial.


HUNT: All right. Five a.m. here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill on this Wednesday morning.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

Search and rescue efforts have ended, and six missing workers now presumed dead after the tragic collapse of the iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. The Coast Guard says eight workers were on the bridge early Tuesday when a cargo container ship lost power, veered off course and crashed into a pillar sending them all into the freezing water.


REAR ADM. SHANNON GILREATH, U.S. COAST GUARD: Based on the length of time that we've gone in this search, we do not believe that were going to find any of these individuals still alive.


HUNT: Two people were rescued and recovery operations are going to continue today. The governor says the ship did issue a mayday before the crash, and he praised the quick response from emergency officials.


MOORE: That time between when they started calling for mayday and the time that the ship ended up hitting the bridge and the bridge collapse, we're talking matters of seconds. And while today has been challenging and difficult for a lot of Marylanders, most importantly, these families of the impacted families, we have also seen a lot of Marylanders rally in a really beautiful way.


HUNT: CNN's Gabe Cohen joins us live now from Baltimore.

Gabe, good morning to you.

So, officials at this point investigating exactly what cause this massive shift to lose power, because in the video we see the lights flickering and black smoke coming out just before it hits the bridge. What kind of evidence are they looking for? Is there such a thing as a black box in this case?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Look, they are, Kasie, looking for recorders on that vessel. We know that NTSB investigators are expected to finally board the Dali, that shipping vessel a little later today. They're going to be interviewing the crew, looking at those recorders, trying to collect any information and data that they can.

And they have said this could be a very long process. So we're not necessarily expecting those answers immediately.

As you mentioned, the ship experience some sort of total blackout before all of this unfolded as the ship was approaching the bridge, you mentioned the lights flickering of the pilot lost control of the vessel. That according to a pilots association that the pilot had tried to stop the vessel, tried to slow it down, drop anchor, but just couldn't get it -- the vessel under control in time, eventually leading to that collision

HUNT: So, Gabe, what do we know about the six victims of this terrible tragedy?

COHEN: Well, look, we are starting to learn more about them again, they were part of this construction crew that were part -- that were filling potholes when all of this unfolded, they were on top of the bridge.

Word just couldn't reach them. Look, it was a frantic scene, right? We talked about this yesterday. Police got this, made a call, they managed to shut off traffic, but they were getting ready to head up onto the bridge, having stopped the flow of traffic onto it, knowing that there was a crew up there, but they only add a matter of seconds suddenly collapse.

And, look, we are learning about some of these people. The information is very preliminary, but the devastation you can feel it from some of the groups that have come out and talk. Several of them are Spanish speakers, Mexican nationals, Guatemalan nationals, and again, we're still collecting information on that, but these were people with families, members of the Maryland community, some of them for several years. And so it really is heartbreaking to hear about


HUNT: It is it is very, very much so.

So, the secretary of transportation, Pete Buttigieg, was up on the scene on Tuesday and he talked about the bridge itself, the port of Baltimore, and how long it might take to get back to normalcy. Watch what he said.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: There is no question that this will be a major and protracted impact to supply chains. It's too soon to offer estimates on what it will take to clear the channel and reopen the port.


HUNT: So, Gabe, this is an absolutely critical port to -- so much of as he points out, the supply chain there. How is this going to impact the region in the country?

COHEN: Well, there's a significant impact. I mean, look, first off for people in Baltimore, we are talking about thousands of jobs that are at stake for those poor workers with operations they're basically frozen right now because of that massive portion of the bridge that has blocked this river, there are ships that are, have been stuck in Chesapeake Bay.

And for those workers right now, there's not a lot of options. And so the federal government has said they're going to come in. We know that the Army Corps of Engineers is sending more than 1,000 personnel to start work on getting this bridge rebuilt.

And officials, they didn't really want to talk about hope that yesterday, Kasie, they really wanted to stay focused on the search and rescue, but things are obviously evolving today. There are major implications are we know that a lot of those ships are going to move to other ports. They've already been heading further south into Virginia and there could be serious economic impacts here.

Officials talk about that yesterday. The amount of cars that come off the line off some of these ships here at the port in Baltimore, it's one of the biggest in the country. So, yeah, major, major issues there.

HUNT: Significant potential impacts on automakers who are going to have to scramble to adjust to this and whenever we see these pictures, you can obviously tell just what -- what a job lies ahead to try to get the port reopened, the bridge reopen for commuters, of course, as these families start to mourn the love, their loved ones.

Gabe Cohen, thank you very much for your reporting.

Coming up next here, she's young and rich. What else? What else do we know about RFK Jr.'s newly minted running mate.

Plus --



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody deserves health care.


HUNT: President Biden siding with protesters who had just cut him off there.

And the attorney general of Texas cutting a deal in his security fraud case.



HUNT: Welcome back.

The Supreme Court now tasked with ruling on its first abortion case since overturning Roe versus Wade two years ago. Yesterday, the high court heard arguments on whether to restrict access to the widely used abortion pill, mifepristone. Several justices including some of the more conservative members sounded skeptical.


JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You need a person, you need a person to be able to come in and meet the court's regular standing requirements. So who's your person?

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

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I'm worried that there is a significant mismatch in this case between the claimed injury and the remedy that's being sought, and that that might or should matter for standing purposes.


HUNT: All right. Try me now to discuss this congressional reporter for "The Hill", Mychael Schnell.

Mychael, good morning. Great to have you.


HUNT: So the most interesting part of this, I think I mean they really are just talking about not the merits of the case, necessarily. They are talking about whether or not the people who brought the case have standing which seemed to open the door to basically give them away out of what is an incredibly potentially controversial decision about a political issue that certainly Democrats view as like a cornerstone in this election year.

What did you hear in these arguments yesterday and how does that play out as we face this election?

SCHNELL: Yeah, it's looking at one of those off rails, right, that way that they can skirt off making this controversial decision and starting outcry because they don't want to meddle in this issue. It could then have implications for other FDA rules and other drugs that are regulated by the FDA and sort of set a precedent there.

So we did see the justices cast some doubt which could lead to them not interfering in this FDA rule, but I think there's massive implications for the 2024 election, regardless of what the ruling is over the summer. The court once again for the first time, as you mentioned, since Roe taking up this issue of abortion rights, of reproductive rights.

HUNT: Since Dobbs, you mean, yeah.

SCHNELL: Since Dobbs, significant because we saw that that decision in the summer of 2022 had far-reaching implications for the down- ballot races in the midterm elections.

Republicans were talking about this, having this red wave, particularly in the House, that was blunted by better than expected returns from Democrats in large part because the issue of abortion. So I think that regardless of how the justices rule on this case, when the decision comes out in June, this is going to be a good sign for Democrats because they're going to be able to campaign on it and message on it, regardless of what the outcome is.


And we've seen that Republicans haven't really figured out messaging on this issue yet, and they'd been rolled on it by Democrats.

HUNT: One thing, Mychael, I mean, about this drug that, you know, we are short-handed, often as the abortion pill. It's also used extensively in health care around women who are dealing with miscarriages, women who are dealing with tragedies later on in a pregnancy where they need to find a safe as possible way to wind their way through that.

I think one of the big picture themes is that the fall of Roe via Dobbs has sewn unintended consequences across the country and that is something the Democrats have been able to point to, to say, look, they open the door to all of this and now, there are major questions about whether women in Louisiana, for example, can be cared for appropriately, just while they're pregnant. Like forget if any of this other -- of these other things are on the table.

It seems like this may fall into this category, too.


HUNT: The pill access portion.

SCHNELL: Yeah. And in addition to that, we're going to be seeing a case before the Supreme Court I believe it's next month. That's going to deal with well, if the life of the woman is in danger, can physicians perform an abortion to save the life of a mother? We've now seen the increased frequency of cases and legal entanglements surrounding abortion rights, and reproductive freedom, following the Dobbs decision.

And this was something that the justices said themselves. It was in that conquered opinion. I don't recall which of the conservative justices it was who said next, were going to be looking at contraceptives. Next could be marriage equality. Next could be looking at those other cases. It's sort of opened the floodgates to having these challenges.

Now, when you talk about it from a political aspect, again, Democrats have done a really good job of messaging on these issues. We saw it in 2022. We're already seeing it now.

Republicans have an exactly figured out how to make gains on it. So I think that, you know, Republicans want to protect these rights. Of course, at all costs, it's a cornerstone of their platform and of their campaigns.

But the end of the day, keeping these issues in there headlines, it gives them a real leg up against Republicans.

HUNT: Let's change gears slightly because while we talk about this in terms of the election, in terms of Republicans versus Democrats, we got to reminder yesterday that is actually an a third-party candidate this time around could have significant impacts on what happens RFK, Jr. named a running mate.

I just want to remind the word that the Democrats are using right now for RFK is spoiler, right? They've launched this whole team to try to push back against RFK's campaign.

SCHNELL: Right. HUNT: Here's what RFK once said about that.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our campaign is a spoiler. I agree with that.

It's a spoiler for President Biden and for President Trump.


HUNT: What is your sense of which of those things is actually true? And what do you hear from members of Congress who support either Biden or Trump about whether they think RFK Jr.'s campaign is more likely to hurt the president or the former president?

SCHNELL: Yeah, no one is really thrilled with this third-party bid from RFK, Jr., other than RFK himself and his supporters there. I mean, look, 2016 was not too long ago, when we saw Jill Stein sort of throw things off course with her third party bid. There are some real flashbacks and folks are concerned that there could be a replay of the 2016 debacle this year because RFK, Jr. is continuing his bid.

Now, look in terms of whether he thinks thought he was it is a spoiler that and whether or not he's serious about his bid now, I don't know. You know, I don't know what's going on in his head in terms of his strategy.

But I know that both sides are not happy about this. You mentioned Democrats. The DNC has launched an entire team to go against third- party candidates. We saw the Trump campaign yesterday saying that RFK Jr.'s no independent. Then Nicole Shanahan is some progress save liberal who is bringing onto his ticket.

Folks are not happy about this bid and I'll let you know. You know, Nicole Shanahan, bring her on. She's a -- she was -- you know, she has a lot of money. She can help pump cash into RFK, Jr.'s campaign, give him a lifeline as it continues to get on the ballot in all 50 states. This is not a good sign for both sides who are concerned that he could siphon support.

HUNT: I did think it was really interesting that the Trump campaign and Trump himself overnight on Truth Social's attacking RFK, Jr. is kind of -- a new development and shows that they view him as a little bit of a threat.

SCHNELL: A threat.

HUNT: Mychael Schnell, thanks very much for being here this morning. I really appreciate it.

SCHNELL: Thanks.

HUNT: All right. Coming up next here, crews passengers who can't get back to shore because of the Baltimore bridge collapse? We'll tell you about that. Plus alternatives to invading Rafah, a top Israeli official is in

Washington, is listening.



HUNT: All right, 23 minutes past the hour.

Here's your morning roundup.

Carnival Cruises says it will move its Baltimore operations to Norfolk, Virginia, temporarily in the wake of the Key Bridge collapse. The company says that passengers will be bused back to Baltimore when they arrive.

President Biden seeming to side with pro-Palestinian protesters who began shouting during his health care speech in North Carolina on Tuesday.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everybody deserves health care.


HUNT: Biden also said, quote, they have a point, as the protesters were escorted out.

The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton striking a deal with prosecutors investigating him for felony securities fraud. He'll pay $300,000 in restitution and perform community service while taking ethics courses.

All right. Time now for your morning weather. A wet weather this morning as a cold front moves across the East Coast, just as the Coast Guard is resuming recovery efforts for six victims in the Baltimore bridge collapse.

Our meteorologists Derek Van Dam has been tracking water temperatures and tides in the area.


Derek, what are they looking at as recovery efforts continue today?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah. Good morning, Kasie.

So, this morning in Baltimore, we do have a few showers moving through the area. The wind has picked up somewhat from yesterday at this time, water temperatures staying relatively consistent around 48 degrees. So upper 40s, current air temperature at 44 right now, and you can see on this radar, there are some showers building just to the west of the Baltimore and D.C. suburbs. So, we'll expect those to move in between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. this

morning, coastal flood advisory still in effect, high tide this morning around 8:53 and then well start to see that reversal of the tide. Here's the Chesapeake Bay, so potential for some rip currents for the rescue operations, the recovery operations going forward.

So that it consider there's the rainfall in the forecast temperatures will top out into the lower 50s for the base. So this is part of a larger storm system, bringing rain to the east coast, maybe some stronger storms today across the eastern sections of Florida, heavier rainfall into the Carolinas particularly North Carolina. And then you can see the wet weather over spreading New York all the way to Boston showers today, but more so into the day tomorrow.

There's a rainfall outlook. You can see heaviest rainfall again across the outer banks and into portions of North Carolina because this low pressure continues to traverse the East Coast. The rest of the country looking clear and cool and not so bad.

But the good news about this forecasts all you spring breakers out there anticipating a break next week, including myself, we've got a warming trend and sunshine. So that's good news -- Kasie.

HUNT: That is some good news. We could use that.

All right. Our weatherman, Derek Van Dam -- Derek, thank you. I really appreciate it.

VAN DAM: Okay.

HUNT: Coming up next here, investigators getting ready to board the ship that took down the Francis Scott Key Bridge.