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Isa Soares Tonight

Evan Gershkovich Marks One Year In Russian Prison; Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk Warns Europe Has Entered A Pre-War Era; Beyonce Releases First Country Music Album; Gaza War Protesters Interrupt Biden Fundraising Event; Star-Studded Event Raises $26 Million For Biden Campaign; Beyonce Drops New Album With A Country Flair. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 14:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: And a very good day to you, good Easter if you're celebrating, I'm Richard Quest, last day in for Isa

Soares. Tonight, it's been a year since the "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich was jailed in Russia, arrested and held simply for doing

his job.

We'll hear from someone who keeps in touch with him and on the efforts to free him. War is a real threat and Europe is not ready, it's the message

from one of Europe's top leaders, we'll talk about it. And how Beyonce took rejection and turned it into a new album, "Cowboy Carter" and the

story behind it.

It's been exactly one year since the American journalist Evan Gershkovich was detained in Russia. He's been charged with espionage and allegation, he

is employee of the "Wall Street Journal" and the U.S. government, all firmly and flatly deny.

Russia has yet to provide any evidence to back its claim and seemingly a trial date isn't on the horizon. This is the paper's front page today for

the "Wall Street Journal", a blank space where Evan Gershkovich's reporting would have been. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more on today's grim milestone.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No media 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (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 family strongly denied the allegations. Polina Ivanova of the "Financial Times", he's one of

Evan's best friends and still keeps in regular contact with him writing letters.

POLINA IVANOVA, FINANCIAL TIMES REPORTER & FRIEND OF EVAN GERSHKOVICH: He's doing remarkably well. He's absolutely saying 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 opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The Russian President taunted on his re-election 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.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, 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 Putin talk about it, and you know, in very clear terms that this is what they want to see happen, that they are looking for

a deal, you know, it just gives you hope that at some point, this will -- this, you know, that he will be home. He needs to be home, he needs to be

back with his family, with his friends.

PLEITGEN: And the Kremlin has once again confirmed that there are contacts between the United States and Russia on a possible prisoner exchange, but

they also say that those talks need to happen in absolute silence or any results could be prevented. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.


QUEST: So, the difficulty of getting those talks to fruition, that it's far from straight forward. As you can hear now, President Biden, special

envoy on a hostage affairs, Roger Carstens told us ahead of the anniversary, he is still hopeful a deal can be broken.


ROGER CARSTENS, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS: We do have an open line, open channel with the Russians that we've been using to

discuss these cases. It's the same channel that brought home Trevor Reed and Brittney Griner, we've been using it to discuss the return of Paul

Whelan and Evan Gershkovich.


So, there is open communication that takes place between us.


QUEST: Kylie Atwood is with me to talk more. Is it -- from your understanding of what's happening, is it a question of whether the U.S. and

other countries who may hold people, are prepared to pay the price in terms of releasing the people that the Russians want?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I think that's part of it. The other part of it is just coming up with a deal that Russia is going

to accept, because we have heard from President Putin that he believes a deal can be reached.

He said that earlier this year, and you have U.S. diplomats who are scrambling, working tirelessly on this effort to put a deal on the table

that Putin is actually going to accept. And there are challenges, there are limitations in terms of what U.S. allies are willing to put on the table

and what they aren't.

So, that presents complications. And when it comes to the State Department and their updates on this matter, we know that in December, they said that

there was a new and significant proposal that was put on the table for Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, who is that other American wrongfully detained

in Russia now for more than five years, and that, that proposal was rejected by Russia.

We asked this week for an update, they said they weren't going to get into that. But obviously, as you heard from those words from Roger Carstens

there in that interview, he sees the next 90 days as potentially hopeful, but that may just be his perspective. We don't know if Russia has actually

said anything that is making him belief that.

QUEST: Right, now, Kylie, my next quest who I'll get to in just a second, Linda Kinstler, she's written an article that all this diplomatic chatters

only further confirmed what we've known all along. Evan was arrested so that he could serve as a bargaining chip for Moscow.

I mean, that clearly seems to be the case. So, the State Department has to be very careful, don't they? That they don't embolden the taking of more

bargaining chips.

ATWOOD: Of course, they do, and that is always the challenge with these situations --

QUEST: Yes --

ATWOOD: Because it is a prisoner swap that Russia wants. We know that, we have seen that before. We saw it with Brittney Griner when they had to

trade Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner, that was a pretty controversial trade. So, the other thing I think that we need to watch here is how

willing the administration will be to make a trade like that, that could receive some criticism here domestically, particularly from Republicans as

we get closer to the elections in November.

So, it may be that the next few months here until that pre-trial detention period is up, and at the end of June, it could be the possible room for

maneuver. We just don't know exactly how it will go, but we'll watch --

QUEST: Right --

ATWOOD: These next few months closely.

QUEST: Last question, and it's somewhat distasteful, so forgive me. But is there the possibility, the risk that these -- this sort of prisoner

exchange or hostage exchange, whatever you want to call them becomes a football in the -- in the forthcoming election that Trump uses it against

Biden as not having been effective.

ATWOOD: Certainly possible, but I do think that the Biden administration has -- if you just look at the numbers, there are a lot of Americans who

have been wrongfully detained abroad, that they have secured the release throughout the administration over the last four years.

So, I think that they do have some numbers to fight back with, particularly because we know that Trump was heavily-focused on this topic when he was in

the White House.

QUEST: Kylie, I'm grateful, thank you. Just take us to Linda Kinstler; the journalist and friend of Evan Gershkovich. I was quoting from your article

that you wrote, where you say how he was arrested. Before we get to that, we'll get to -- if you will, the politics and the diplomacy.

First of all, firstly to you, you described the letters that he sends you, you send quickly and he replies several weeks later, obviously, he smiles

when you see him on television. 'Evan has got garrulousness and charm, have no bounds." And you -- that comes through in his letters to you.

LINDA KINSTLER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, THE DIAL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, he's always had this incredible sense of humor, and that's how he has made

friends wherever he's gone. You know, I have known him for well over a decade now, and you know, one of the small bombs of this horrible year has

been during those court hearings that we do at least get a glimpse of Evan that we can see, try to understand how he's doing, if he looks healthy, if

he looks like he's getting enough sleep, then of course, he always smiles because he knows that the photographs and videos will get to us somehow.

QUEST: And he's accomplished obviously writing in Russian, he writes his letters to you in Russian, so that the sensors can see that there's nothing

in them other than well-wishes and niceties.


KINSTLER: Yes, I mean, that is also one of the great difficulties right now, is that, of course, everything that goes into and out of Lefortovo

Prison in Moscow where he is being held is red. But he is still able, you know, to convey how he's healing, what he's reading, how he spends his days

in this kind of very monotonous fashion.

And you know, as Polina said, you know, he tries to keep our spirits up and conveys that he's doing OK as well, and that kind of holding it together as

best he can despite the fact that given this year anniversary, it's unbelievable --

QUEST: Right --

KINSTLER: To us, his niece and family, and it's unbelievable to him as well.

QUEST: So, let's turn to the diplomacy and the negotiations are going on, and they swirl in the murkiest of waters in terms of prisoner exchange.

It's believed that the one that the Russians want is Vadim Krasikov; former FSB colonel who is serving a life sentence in Germany for killing a Chechen

dissident in 2019, you talk about it in your article.

What do you think? I mean, these -- it's a murky unpleasant business, but the Russians really --


QUEST: Seem to want this person back.

KINSTLER: Yes, and unfortunately, as has been reported, the reality is that the United States does not currently have many others in custody of

the same stature in the Kremlin's point of view. And so, they've made their desires clear, and now there will -- you know, has been and will be

unfortunately, difficulty in working out if this is what the swap is going to be, a three-way trade that would have to involve Germany.

We've seen in the past with the swaps with Brittney Griner and Trevor Reed, that those ended up being more narrow deals than was perhaps originally

hoped, you know, that they hope to think that it includes Paul Whelan as well. And so, you know, we're all hopeful that there's a solution coming

over the horizon.

However, the fact that Evan's pre-trial detention was just once again --

QUEST: Wow --

KINSTLER: Extended, you know, as it has been before, is not a hopeful sign.

QUEST: How do we navigate the waters of getting these people home? But at the same time, not encouraging further hostage-taking by the Russians, or

arguably even about even as I'm asking the question, I'm answering it in my head, does it not matter in a sense, the Russians will always find somebody

that they can nab.

KINSTLER: Yes, I mean, it's a difficult question to answer and certainly, it has been the case that the families of those who have been detained --

QUEST: Well --

KINSTLER: Not only American citizens, but also Russian citizens, U.K. citizens have argued for a more aggressive stance on the part of the United

States and the U.K. towards hostage negotiations like this. The wife of Vladimir Kara-murza, Eugenia, has argued for hostage offices in NATO

countries that could more aggressively deal with this problem. So, that is one solution.

But other than that, you know, we do have to be at the negotiating table and we do need to keep these contacts open so that we can get a swap.

QUEST: Linda, in the nicest possible way, this Good Friday, I hope you and I never speak again, at least, know how to speak -- at least, not on this

subject. Next time we speak, we speak on something more rewarding. Thank you very much I'm grateful.

KINSTLER: Exactly, thank you.

QUEST: The world wants Israel to halt the war on Hamas amid a worsening humanitarian catastrophe. Israel is making it absolutely abundantly clear

to no plans to stop fighting for now, both in Gaza and maybe escalating the region.

Dozens of Palestinians in Gaza were killed in new strikes today, that includes women and children. And the next video is disturbing and

upsetting. A hospital in Rafah says a house was bombed, killing at least 14 people, residents use their bare hands to try to rescue people trapped

under crushed concrete.

Gaza's Civil Defense says one woman was pulled out alive. Israel is also escalating the attacks outside the region. The Defense Minister Yoav

Gallant says Israel will not only defend itself against Hezbollah, will actually pursue it wherever it operates, and that includes Beirut and


The comments came after Syria reported a series of Israeli strikes near Aleppo. U.K.-based war monitor says seven Hezbollah members were killed

along with dozens of Syrian soldiers. Melissa Bell is live, she's in Tel Aviv for us this evening.

Melissa, how much of this escalation -- where escalations are an emotive word, these activities by Tel Aviv -- by Israel, how much of it is

opportunism to take the chance to do some damage to Hezbollah without hopefully escalating it and draw full regional expansion?


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Israel is responding, Richard, to activity that we see on the northern border for many months

nowadays, tens of thousands of people who have been displaced. If you consider both the Lebanese and the Israeli side of that border over the

course of the last few months and again today, we did see a ratcheting up of the pressure both what Israel claims were a series of missile strikes by

-- from Lebanon into Israel.

But of course, as you mentioned, Richard, those strikes that went far and beyond the border into Syria around Damascus, and of course, that's strike

that Israel says killed an important high-ranking missile commander of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Now, from the point of view of Hezbollah, they have confirmed the death without specifying the rank or the role of the commander involved. Israel's

point is that he was someone who was important in terms of both Intelligence and missile activity towards Israel.

The point here I think is what we've just heard from Yoav Gallant; the Israeli Defense Minister, saying, as you said, that they intend, Israel

intents, the IDF intents, henceforth, not just to protect itself from Hezbollah, but to pursue it actively.

That is of concern, of course, the United States, what we understand is that Yoav Gallant in his meetings with the American officials early this

week did raise this change of plan or rather this new strategy of Israel. The fear amongst American officials, what we're hearing is that Israel

seems to think there's a level just beneath a full-scale offensive, the United States does not, and has extreme concern about what Hezbollah's

response might be for the time being.

The group has not -- seemed intent on ratcheting up the pressure or engaging in a full scale war with Israel. But the calculation is that, that

could change the fear from American allies, for now, is that Israel might be considering further ratcheting up of the pressure, and certainly, what

we saw today, Richard, suggests that, that could be the case.

QUEST: Melissa, I'm grateful to you, thank you very much. Poland's Prime Minister has warned Europe has entered what he's calling "a pre-war era"

two years after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Now, Donald Tusk isn't just the Polish Prime Minister, although that in itself, he's also the

former European Council president, one of the most senior officials in Europe to develop the German newspaper.

I know it sounds devastating, especially for the younger generation, but we have to get used to the fact that a new era has begun, the pre-war era. I'm

not exaggerating, it's becoming clearer every day. David Sanger is with me, CNN's political and national security analyst, he is the "New York Times"

White House national security correspondent.

Author of the upcoming book, "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's Invasion, and the Medical Struggles to Defend the West". He -- it's very

strong when someone such as Tusk says that. And I remember earlier in the year, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron saying he felt like a

foreign minister in the pre-world war years. How do you gauge it?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Richard, you're exactly right. This is very tough wording, not surprising that it

comes from Poland, which has been pressing to get Ukraine into NATO, and has taken the hardest line about what the West needs to do to confront


And they're increasingly worried about the United States, and then the traditional or older NATO allies, the original NATO allies, with this, they

think that if the money doesn't come through Congress, they -- that you're going to see Ukraine suffer a significant defeat.

So, I think what you're seeing Mr. Tusk do is trying to raise the alarm among Europeans, many of whom think, Richard, that we're going to get

through this Ukraine period, and then just go back to the time when Russia was a reliable supplier as Chancellor Merkel used to phrase it of oil. I

don't think that's happening.

QUEST: So, yesterday or David, if I read this week, the House Speaker -- I think it was yesterday, House Speaker Mike Johnson spoke to President

Zelenskyy, I'm sure it was as cordial as it can be. But to the accusation that as long as the Americans don't provide the money that they promised or

the support that they were promised, the American -- the United States is not keeping its word.

SANGER: Well, I think there were three levels to that conversation, Richard, the first is the one you mentioned, the U.S. have said that they

would be with Ukraine as long as it takes -- that wording has now changed to as long as we can.


Big difference. The second thing that was going on there was the House Speaker caught between his own personal desire, which I think is sort of

the traditional Republican desire to support a country that's been invaded by Russia and the pressures on him from a rise-in-group of Republicans who

oppose this, and that includes Donald --

QUEST: Right --

SANGER: Trump. You know, and I think the third element of it, and probably the hardest part here is, he can't figure out how to bring this to the

floor without being ousted by that same group.

QUEST: So, to -- back to Tusk in Europe, I mean, Europe did in the end -- I was in Brussels last week, if you look at the numbers now, the EU is

nearly up to the same amount as the U.S. or before any -- for more money. And we understand the armaments, difficulties, but how do you prepare a

continent for the possibility of an expansion of a war, which if a NATO country was involved under the famous article, everyone's involved.

SANGER: So, they're trying to do two things. One is raise awareness, and second, scare the Russians into thinking that if you do end up firing into

a NATO country, attacking a NATO country, the war will grow a lot more complicated. It's interesting, Richard, because if you think about these

past two years-plus of the war, the Russians have been very careful so far not to let the war spread beyond Ukraine's borders.

But you heard Putin as recently as yesterday, say he would take out F-16 fighters that are being prepared for Ukraine even if they are on NATO

territory. I suspect that's a bluff. But it's interesting --

QUEST: Right --

SANGER: He said it.

QUEST: We -- briefly, sir, as always in television, the clock is our enemy -- is our enemy, and --

SANGER: Do it --

QUEST: When, if, how -- plead the Fifth if you want to, will Congress send the money?

SANGER: You know, many in the White House think that somehow or another, they will get this through. I don't see the mechanism right now. I know

many of the European allies are equally nervous. I suspect it will come up right after the Easter break, and if it comes on the floor, I think it will

pass. But that could be the end of the speaker.

QUEST: Grateful, I call -- I call -- you know, every time we have these conversations, I can't believe that we're talking about the potential for

war in Europe again, but sir, I'm sure you're the same in that sense. Sir - -

SANGER: I am --

QUEST: Thank you for joining us -- you're talking about Easter, thank you, sir. Stay with Easter, Pope Francis is marking one of the holiest days on

the Christian calendar. We will have the pictures and the sound from the St. Peter's Basilica next.



QUEST: Today is Good Friday, one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar, and the pope presided over the Passion of the Lord Service at St.

Peter's in Rome. Later, the pope will lead the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum. It's a process that marks the stages of Jesus crucifixion --

it's already been a holy site, holy week for Pope Francis.

Our Vatican correspondent Christopher Lamb with me here in London. Good Easter to you, sir. The pope, I mean, we're watching him being wheeled

around. He looks in good settle(ph).

CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, I think he's as well as he can be for someone of 87 years of age, and who has battled a few

bouts of ill health recently. I mean, he's spoken about the use of the wheelchair -- he's the first pope really to be wheeled around in a


He said recently that popes of the past were carried around in a ceremonial chair that he uses a wheelchair, because it's more practical. He's not

afraid to show his physical vulnerability.

QUEST: His message and his various homilies and his statements have all had a common theme now. What would you say it is? We know where he stands.

LAMB: Well, I think he's emphasizing repeatedly that the church must be focused on service, humility and also with conflicts in the world today,

he's repeatedly calling for peace and reconciliation, and I expect he'll be addressing some of those conflicts in his Easter Sunday message, which he

will give from the balcony of St. Peter's on Easter Sunday.

And it was also very powerful, this holy week to see him wash the feet of female inmates, female prisoners in Rome. The first time the pope has

conducted this service just with women. I think that had a very powerful message, not least for the whole role of women in the church.

QUEST: But he's still battling his critics. The Bishops who are against him, he threw one of them out unceremoniously, even threw him out of his

home as well.

LAMB: That's right. He does have significant opposition within the church. Those people who don't like the pope's approach, who don't like his stance

when it comes to migrants or climate change, and his demand for a poor church, for the poor, a humble church, and this rattles some of the

cardinals and those fat cats in the church.

QUEST: And he's not going to retire or resign or give up?

LAMB: No, I don't believe he will. He said he is going --

QUEST: Yes --

LAMB: To continue.

QUEST: Thank you, sir. Thank you. As you and I continue, the Biden re- election campaign is doing a victory lap after that star-studded event. How much did they raise, and Gaza, the war, the protests overshadowing. Also

Queen B is back, this time, Beyonce is swapping the crown for a Cowboy hat -- her new country album.



QUEST: Big names helped fuel a largely successful Biden campaign fundraiser on Thursday night. Protests over the war in Gaza provided the backdrop to

what was a star-studded event.

The former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton joined the current -- the incumbent on stage at Radio City Music Hall, and it helped them

raise a record $26 million. The event was interrupted several times by protesters calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

President Biden acknowledged that there are too many innocent Palestinians victims of war. He also added that Israel's very existence is at stake.

Kayla Tausche is with me now from the White House.

Let's do the protests first. The president's very good at handling all of this. But every time these protests do erupt in some shape or form, it's

sort of grist to the mill of the Republicans who say, see? Can't even sort out that.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's certainly a cloud that has continued to hang over President Biden no matter where he

goes, whether it's visiting a swing state like Michigan or in Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

You saw on camera those protests that were happening outside, but there were also, I'm told, about a dozen protesters inside of the venue that kept

peppering the presidents on stage about the war in Gaza and their views. And that punctuated the event to a large degree.

But I'm told that there was a standing ovation when the three presidents were unified in their advocacy for a two-state solution, and that President

Obama told the protesters that they needed to stop talking and listen, and that President Biden told them essentially that October 7th happened. It

was a massacre. Israel has a right to exist and defend itself. But that doesn't mean that your heart can't break for the suffering that's happening

in Gaza.

And amid a very friendly crowd there in New York City, there was quite a show of support for them on that front.

QUEST: Now here, you rightly say, a friendly city, a friendly audience up to a major point. And -- they raised a lot of money, and they showed unity.

This was primarily about both of those things.

TAUSCHE: It was primarily about both of those things, and it was showing just the firepower that the Biden campaign is able to get behind it. And

the Biden campaign has been seeking to draw this study in contrast between the campaign that it's running and the support that President Biden has.


Versus the campaign that President Trump is running and the support or what they would argue is the lack thereof that the former president has, that

when he were to hold an event, a fundraising-type event, he would not have the vice president up there endorsing him.

He would not have predecessors like former President George Bush up there also supporting him and endorsing him. And he wouldn't even have a large

number of his Cabinet members. And so they want to show that every living Democratic president is there supporting Biden who has, you know,

essentially quieted the challengers, the rising stars within the Democratic Party to seek this second term.

And you heard Barack Obama and Bill Clinton onstage talking about how successful that first term, in their view, has been and arguing their case

for why President Biden needs a second.

QUEST: Grateful to you. Thank you for joining us from the White House. Looks like a nice day in Washington.

Donald Trump's presidential campaign, talking about that on the opposite side, is vying to eclipse the record fundraiser that we're talking about.

The former president plans to bring together the largest Republican donors next week for an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Donald Trump's trying to

close the large cash gap between his campaign and President Biden's.

The massive crane has now arrived in Baltimore that will help with the salvage after the Tuesday bridge collapse. Now, it's the largest crane on

the eastern seaboard, but it's dwarfed by the container ship that plowed into the bridge and, of course, the wreckage that remains.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, they are going to be in charge and will be footing the bill to clear the channel. They are the global experts, if

you will, on these sort of vast infrastructure, mammoth tasks. Even so, with months and months before the port is back online and tens of thousands

of jobs are seriously at risk. The remains of the four construction workers, lest we forget, haven't been found.

Authorities say debris will have to be removed before full recovery efforts. Brian Todd is live in Baltimore. I remain fascinated by the Army

Corps of Engineers. They built the Everglades, they're redoing the beaches in large parts of the United States. But this, it's not that it's going to

be that difficult. In a sense, it's just going to be very difficult to actually do it.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Richard, you're absolutely right. This is going to be one of the more difficult tasks that really any large body of

engineers and salvage experts are going to engage in.

First, let's show you what we can show you here. I'm going to go over my right shoulder, and our photojournalist Harlan Schmidt is going to train

his camera on the crane that is on the site there. You can see the crane just beyond the wreckage of the bridge.

Now, what we have to tell you is that is not the large crane in question. The large crane in question, the Chesapeake 1000, that is not it. That is

another crane that you're looking at. That is another crane that has arrived just ahead of the Chesapeake 1000 that has already started engaging

in some of the salvaging operations.

That's a large crane in and of itself, but that is not the Chesapeake 1000. The Chesapeake 1000 is just behind the bend to your left. You cannot see it

from here. It is not ramped up yet. It arrived overnight. It is based in Newark, New Jersey. It is, as Richard mentioned, the largest floating crane

on the eastern seaboard. It's massive, but, again, that crane that you're looking at is not the crane in question.

But, again, this is just really all to illustrate there are going to be more than one crane here. There's going to be several cranes. There are

going to be other salvaging -- a lot of large pieces of salvaging equipment being used here.

A short time ago, I spoke to a mechanical engineer at Morgan State University, Dr. Oscar Barton.

He said this is going to be incredibly painstaking work, Richard. He said first they've got to survey with the crane operators and others which

pieces they have to remove first, which are the larger pieces. They're going to have to figure out how to cut those larger pieces into smaller


They're going to be using welders to do that. And that's just kind of to get started here. It is incredibly painstaking. It is incredibly dangerous.

And there are massive and heavy amounts of equipment, heavy amounts of debris to move out of the way.

QUEST: Now, two points here. Firstly, what are they going to do with the bits that they've cut? Because now they're going to need barges to take

them away somewhere.

And, secondly, I mean, there's nothing good about this except we're coming into the summer. So, arguably, the water will be warmer and the -- perhaps

the waves will be more favorable.

TODD: Absolutely, Richard. To get to your first point first, yes. They are going to have to have incredibly large barges coming in here to haul that

stuff away, and they're going to have to keep them coming in just one after the other after the other.


This is a massive operation. It's going to -- this engineer who I spoke to says this is going to take months. This is not days or weeks. This is

months. And he said the conditions under the water make it even worse. They're very dangerous right now.

You can probably hear and see that the wind has kicked up behind me. It's very cold and windy here today. The water is very rough. That makes this

even more dangerous. They're still using divers here, by the way, who cannot really go in in conditions such as this for very long, if at all.

So, again, this is -- this is incredibly hard work.

And, as you mentioned, they still have to think about those four people unaccounted for who could be -- whose bodies could be either trapped or

encased in something far below the surface, Richard.

QUEST: Brian, grateful for you, as always, sir. Thank you.

South Africa is mourning after a bus crash. Forty-five people died on Thursday.

An 8-year-old girl is the only survivor. The bus was heading to an Easter conference when it fell off a 50-meter cliff. Reports the driver lost

control and the bus caught fire after the fall. South Africa's president has sent condolences to the families of the victims. This is CNN.


QUEST: Who would reject Beyonce? Well, according to the singer, the Country Music Association, which is one reason why her newest album, Cowboy Carter,

is causing such a stir.


BEYONCE KNOWLES, SINGER: We want to welcome you to the Beyonce Cowboy Carter Act II in a rodeo chitlin' circuit. We're going to make it do what

it do. Put them hands together. We clapping.


QUEST: It's extraordinarily good, but it's a new era for the Houston native, a genre that's been sometimes less than receptive and less than

kind to her.

The singer says this album was, in her words, born out of an experience where I did not feel welcome. In 2016, she performed her country-inspired

song Daddy Lessons. There was a backlash from straying from what some believe to be her established genre.


KNOWLES: This ain't Texas, ain't no hold 'em so lay your cards down, down, down, down.



QUEST: Only last month, the country station in the U.S. refused to play a song, Texas Hold 'Em. The station was accused of blatant racism and

discrimination. They later added it to their playlist.

Joining me now is the Chief Music Critic for Variety, an author of Rednecks and Bluenecks, The Politics of Country Wars, Chris Willman. Fascinating.

Now, for Variety, an author of Rednecks $ Bluenecks, The Politics of Country Wars, Chris Willman.

Fascinating. Now, this is -- I mean, Beyonce, doesn't get any bigger. You would have thought you would have wanted Beyonce as part of your family and


CHRIS WILLMAN, CHIEF MUSIC CRITIC, VARIETY: I think most people in the genre do. I mean, I think, you know, what happened at the CMA Awards, the

backlash was more from maybe an ignorant part of the public than the industry per se, although there were -- there are always people who, when a

pop star comes on a country show, go, you know, why aren't we giving lots of one of our own?

But I think the reaction was mostly positive at the time in 2016. But I understand why Beyonce sort of felt the cold shoulder when the narrative

that came out of it was that she was being rejected.

And here it led her to, you know, get back in her own way with certainly this is a redemption arc where, you know, most country people are really

embracing her with this album.

QUEST: What do you think of it? You're an expert.

WILLMAN: I just -- I stayed up all night writing a review after it came out last night, and it was a pleasure to stay up all night with. I gave it a

Ray Review. I called it magnificent. And I'm seeing much the same reaction from other people.

People are really high on it. I think it's an album of the year contender. And famously, she's never won a Grammy for album of the year. I think,

ironically, this kind of going a little bit off center for her may be the thing that does it for her.

QUEST: Doesn't it show Beyonce's ferocious talent that she can be so successful in different genres in such a way?

WILLMAN: It does. And, you know, I would say this album is not purely a genre exercise. It's very interesting because it sort of skirts around

edges of the genre. Some of it doesn't sound very country at all. A lot of it does.

Some of it is, you know, kind of a evolution, reinterpretation of country adjacent things. And so she's really experimenting and being playful. It's

27 songs. It's quite a smorgasbord. You really can't sum it up because each song is different than the next. And there are some that are straight-up

country and some that aren't.

But, you know, she's kind of bending country to her will instead of being, I think, you know, overly ingratiating. I think people thought, oh, maybe

she's going to be playing cosplay with country because she's wearing the hat and putting on the costume. It doesn't feel like that.

It feels like she's really doing her own thing, but in a way that feels like she is, you know, gracefully extending herself.

QUEST: Now, I actually went to school in the home of country, in Nashville, Tennessee. So I have spent more than my fair share of dishonest time on

Music Square listening to country music. And I know that there is a purity amongst them. There's a -- I'm trying to be polite, but it arguably could

become sort of an arrogance, in a sense, that those who are not absolutely with us, if not against us, we don't really want anything to do with.

WILLMAN: Yes, there's been historically a provincial attitude. And I think what country music and the industry and radio doesn't like is people who

are tourists, who are just coming through and then they're going to -- and, you know, I remember going with Jessica Simpson to the Grand Ole Opry and

she swore she was, you know, switching to country. And then that didn't last very long when she wasn't successful.

And so I think a lot of the time, people who cross over have kind of been on their last legs career-wise or really needing a change, not with the

confidence that Beyonce brings in. And so -- but I think those walls are breaking down, and partly it's because we see people like Jelly Roll, who

is a huge star in America now and I think becoming one in different territories around the world, who used to be a hip-hop guy. He's got, like,

tons of independent --

QUEST: I tell you, I attended -- talking of the Grand Ole Opry, I attended the Charlie Daniels Volunteer Music Jam one year. I've never -- I was

supposed to be on the panel. I've never been more lost in the language and the music in my life. But thank you for joining us, sir. I'm very grateful.

Thank you.

WILLMAN: Glad to.

QUEST: I shall immediately go and listen to all 27 tracks, or 26 tracks.

The Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. has passed away. He won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the 1982, An Officer And A Gentleman.

He also won an Emmy for his performance in the legendary Roots miniseries. He was 87 years old.



QUEST: How long do you think this is going to last before somebody attacks it and demolishes it? Well, this year, the Easter Bunny may be less

generous than years past, because something like this is costing a lot more. Cocoa prices have skyrocketed. The surge in cocoa futures has

outpaced bitcoin and even gold.

CNN's Anna Stewart heads to a shell-shocked chocolatier in London to see what it means for your Easter egg haul to make some awful jokes. How many

can you count?


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard not to be egg- cited. Easter weekend is here. The eggs and bunnies are ready. But this is an egg-tremely hard season for chocolatiers like this one in West London.

ANDREW NASON, CEO, MELT CHOCOLATES: I'm going to have to teach you how to temper chocolate first.

STEWART: Chocolatiers are feeling the heat this year.

NASON: We spend most of our life worrying about the price of cocoa and the rest of it worrying about the temperature of the chocolate.

STEWART: What worries you more right now?

NASON: The price of cocoa, obviously.

STEWART: Oh, no.

NASON: Well, actually, the way you're tempering is worrying me.

STEWART: Aaron, get tempering. The egg-xpert takes over.

STEWART (voice-over): Cocoa futures have more than doubled since January, partly because of what's happening in West Africa, where erratic weather

and climate change have hit cocoa-producing countries hard. So, every drop of cocoa counts. Leftovers go back into the melting pot. No licking the

bowl here, sadly. Once cooled, moment of truth.

STEWART: I'm really scared I'm going to mess this up. Ready?

NASON: Oh, that's perfect.

STEWART: Oh, I did it.

NASON: Look at that. That's excellent.

STEWART (voice-over): With Easter eggs selling for as much as $80, this business is egg-stravagant. But being on the premium end of the market

doesn't insulate the business from the explosive rise in cocoa prices.

NASON: We're not a big producer. We're artisan. We hand make it. We don't have huge storage. So, we get very much impacted by, you know, the spot

price. So when it doubles, you know, we have to double, you know, or increase our price.

STEWART: How much of an egg like this, the bunny egg, how much of the cost of that is the cocoa?

NASON: It's probably about a third.

STEWART (voice-over): Some finishing touches before this egg is ready to go. Although perhaps not quite good enough to sell.

NASON: You made it. You get to eat it.

STEWART: Thank you.


I will enjoy this.

NASON: I'm sure you will.

STEWART: You're not going for the eggplant? It's egg-cellent.

NASON: It is truly egg-cellent.

STEWART (voice-over): Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


QUEST: Magnificent.

Without a minute before we finish, can this last a minute? Well, many children will look forward to gifts from Easter Bunny.

In China, there's another furry animal who's becoming quite popular. Fuzai, the corgi puppy, whose name means lucky boy, is a reserve police dog in the

eastern province of Shandong.

The uniformed boop is a social media phenomenon, one video viewed more than a million times on the Chinese platform Weibo.

I'm really honestly just thinking about how much trouble I'm going to get if I eat this. I can feel the vibes coming back. Tough. Thank you for

watching. Have a wonderful weekend. We get back to sanity next week. Isa Soaris returns, or normal service will be resumed. Stay with CNN.

"NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is next. This is CNN.