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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Loses Third Bid In Three Days To Delay Monday Hush Money Trial; Decision Comes Days After Trump Lost Challenge To Trial Judge's Gag Order; Trump Says AZ Supreme Court Went Too Far In Abortion Decision Two Days After He Said Abortion Should Be A States' Rights Issue; Trump Says He Wouldn't Sign Federal Abortion Ban; Efforts To Oust Speaker Johnson Comes As Republicans' Razor-Thin Majority Shrinks; Israeli Military Says It Killed Three Sons Of Hamas Political Leader Ismail Haniyeh; Hamas Tells Negotiators It Doesn't Have 40 Israeli Hostages That Meet Criteria For First Stage Of Ceasefire Deal. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 10, 2024 - 20:00   ET



JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Judge Merchan does not stand for disruptions or delays and is determined to keep control of his courtroom, even when cases have drawn significant attention, which obviously this one has, Erin.

Of course, Judge Merchan has already dismissed Trump's attempts to delay this trial and has imposed that strict gag order. Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: All right. We shall see. Of course, it is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Thank you so much, Jessica. And thanks so much to all of you for being with us as always. AC360 begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, breaking news, again, a judge rules on the former president's latest of many attempts to derail Monday's hush money trial.

Also tonight, where he now stands on a national abortion ban after fallout from yesterday's surprise ruling by Arizona Supreme Court and now he's changed his position.

And Marjorie Taylor Greene's effort to unseat her boss, the House speaker, and the GOP chaos that unfolded today.

Good evening. Thanks for being with us.

We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with breaking news on the perpetual machinations that is Donald John Trump. Late today, a New York appeals court judge denied his motion to delay Monday's hush money criminal trial. And apologies for not prefacing that with stop me if you've heard this before, because you have.

Here's the headline from just two days ago: Appeals Court Denies Another Trump Attempt to Delay Trial. Again, that was Monday, seeking more time to pursue a change of venue motion. Ditto yesterday, asking for more time to challenge the gag order their client is under. Today, it got even richer, with one Trump attorney arguing for more time to file more defense motions to which Steven Wu, arguing for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, said was simply not the way these things work.

We're going to leave that for our legal panel to sort out in a moment. One thing, though, is clear. These last three motions are only the most recent attempts to delay or derail things. Last week, he filed a motion demanding the trial judge recuse himself for the second time. The first was last summer.

He has also tried to exclude testimony from his one-time lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. That was denied last month. As was his motion to do the same for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and motions to exclude virtually every piece of prosecution evidence, including on the catch-and-kill scheme, which is at the heart of the case.

And we should point out, as a criminal defendant, even one who once told police, and I quote, "Please don't be too nice to criminal suspects," the former president has every right to do what he is doing, every right to try to delay justice, even while complaining, as he did yet again today on his social network, that he should have been charged three years ago instead of during the campaign.

And even, of course, though he's shown up for numerous pretrial hearings in this and other trials, none of which he was required to and raising money off them all the while.

So more on tonight's ruling from CNN's Kara Scannell, who joins us now. So what is the latest argument from the Trump team in this filing?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: So today's issue, as you said, there were other issues earlier in the week. Today, the focus was on trying to get the judge to recuse himself from the case. The same arguments we have heard in the lower court argument, where they say that the judge is impartial because his daughter could potentially profit because of work her company does for Democratic campaigns.

The other argument was this judge, Judge Merchan, had denied Trump's effort to try to delay the trial until the Supreme Court ruled on presidential immunity in a completely separate case at the federal criminal charges. They're appealing that and they wanted the judge - the appellate judge to put the trial on hold for that.

I mean, the appellate judge asked a lot of questions here, but Trump's main argument was they just want another bite at the apple for some of this. The DA is saying, you're not even following the right procedure here. These are things you can't appeal until the case is over.

What was interesting is we actually heard from a lawyer for the court today who was speaking on behalf of Judge Merchan to this issue of recusal, saying that there is absolutely no evidence, no proof that he stands to benefit because of his daughter's job. And the judge pretty swiftly denied this. COOPER: And there was some special accommodation made today in the court. What happened?

SCANNELL: Yes, I mean, the court's calendar was pretty packed this afternoon. They had oral arguments from other cases that have been pending for a while. So in order to accommodate this, given the nature of the case, the trial starting on Monday, they went into the basement of the courtroom and rearranged tables and chairs to create a bench from the judge, including pulling out a puffy big kind of procedural chair for the judge, arranging tables so the lawyers had places to argue. And then reporters were sitting on chairs and tables in the back.

It was really extraordinary. And what I heard was that it's the first time they've ever done that. But clearly taking all of these appeals very seriously, even though they've all been swiftly denied.

COOPER: I want to bring in our legal analysts, Karen Agnifilo and Elie Honig.

Elie, the tempo of this, what do you make of it? I mean, three hearings, three days, three defeats.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is ridiculous, let's just say that straight up. I mean, we talked last week, Anderson, I said next week, meaning this week, expect to see a flurry of motions. But the pace and the nature of these filings, it's outrageous.

And look, I have defended and will defend Donald Trump's right, any defendant's right to aggressively defend himself. His motions he's bringing, first of all, are completely out of time. He's already brought most of them.


As Kara said, they've already been rejected.

Now he's just trying again and there's just nothing to them. And it's interesting, almost borderline comedic to see how quickly they're being rejected. We're seeing courts of appeals reject these cases in 20 minutes, 45 minutes, so they're trying to give him his say, but there's no appetite here in the judiciary to move this trial.

COOPER: Karen, I mean, is it done? Because the - I mean, there's - it's only Wednesday, so there's a couple more days.

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, there's two more business days. I think we're going to see more activity. This is desperate. The number of times he's been trying to delay this case, the DA's office said it was at least 10 times. Judge Merchan has even put in his orders that the defendant here is trying to delay this case.

So the judges and the appellate courts know that this is not just about whatever the motion's about, whether it's presidential immunity or a gag order. It's also an effort to delay the trial and not have it go forward. So they're going to do everything they can to make sure, that that does not happen. This case has been scheduled for a long time.

As Elie said, many of these motions have been made already and many of these things have been decided. And yes, he does have a right to do it. But at a certain point, they become frivolous and they become untimely and they've already been decided.

So he has to watch that. He has to walk a fine line between making too many motions over and over again the same thing. I think the wild card here is if he goes to the Supreme Court and tries to get them to stop it, because when you talk about it, in 10 days, they're hearing the very issue that he wants to appeal, the issue of presidential immunity. And that's being heard on an expedited basis.

And so he could go to the Supreme Court and say, look, clearly the judge here is biased against me. I've already made several recusal motions about his daughter. He's gagging me, but he doesn't gag the witnesses. And presidential immunity is an issue that you're hearing in 10 days time and he won't even give me 10 days.

I think he's going to potentially package it all up and see if - take a shot there and see if he can get an ear or somebody who will listen.

COOPER: Do you think that has a chance?

AGNIFILO: I would say legally, no. But in this Supreme Court, it's hard to predict anymore what they may or may not do. I don't think legally there's a basis for it. This is state court. This is not federal and this is completely separate. Presidential immunity shouldn't apply here because this is all. This is his personal attorney.

Yes, some of these were - the checks were written while he was president, but they were personal checks about personal business. This shouldn't have anything to do with presidential immunity. So it shouldn't have any merit or shouldn't have any legs. But that's, I think, his last desperate thing that he might give.

COOPER: Elie, with the process of filing that with the Supreme Court or going to the Supreme Court that - would that automatically delay jury selection on Monday.

HONIG: No, only if the Supreme Court were to step in and say, hey, put a hold on this. I agree with Kara. I think if there's one more shot, that would be it. I also agree that it will lose on the substance. There's a legal doctrine called abstention, meaning the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, are very reluctant to step in and pause things at a trial level at a state court.

And I have to say this, when you're a lawyer, your credibility is everything. And you get to a point where you start to lose it with the judge. It's like a boy who cried wolf phenomenon, right? If you come in every day, two, three times a day and say, oh, my gosh, we have this emergency. Oh, my gosh, this is such an urgent situation. You have to pause it. Judge is going to start tuning you out and I think Trump's team needs to consider that.

COOPER: The former president say he shared the social media posts in defense of himself from Stormy Daniels' former attorney, Michael Avenatti, who is in prison right now. And Trump added his own commentary, calling Daniels and former Trump fixture Michael Cohen, "sleazebags." They're both likely witnesses at the trial. Would that violate the gag order?

HONIG: One hundred percent, yes. And up till now, Trump had been sort of crafty. What he was doing was taking other people saying things that would have violated the gag order and just re-tweeting or re- truthing that, which was maybe a gray area. But now he says - he calls the two main witnesses sleazebags.

And this is a moment of truth for the DA. The DA needs to go to the judge first thing tomorrow morning and say, this violates the gag order. You need to do something. If you don't enforce discipline right now, it's going to get away from you.

COOPER: Do you agree with that, Karen?

AGNIFILO: Yes. And at the same time, it's clear that Trump is trying to bait the judge. He wants, more evidence to go to the Supreme Court to say he's biased against me and the judge is not going to take the bait. So the judge is going to do everything he can to make this case go. And so I think those questions are and decisions are probably happening right now in the DA's office.

COOPER: All right. Karen and Elie, thanks so much, Kara Scannell as well.

More now on the January 6th immunity decision. The former president has been trying to hold up his trial for, as we said, Supreme Court oral arguments just two weeks away, growing calls for one of the justices, Clarence Thomas, to recuse himself.


The reason, as Randi Kaye explains, his wife, Ginni's role in the events leading up to January 6th.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): "Help This Great president stand firm, Mark. The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our history." That's a text from Virginia Ginni Thomas to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's former chief of staff, sent November 10th 2020, just days after Joe Biden won the election.

And about two months before the January 6th attack on the Capitol. It's just one of the more than two dozen text messages the two exchanged. In another text, she wrote, "I can't see Americans swallowing the obvious fraud. Just going with one more thing with no frickin consequences, the whole coup and now this." Ginni Thomas also stood by lawyer Sidney Powell, who spread the long debunked conspiracy theory that electronic voting machines had somehow switched ballots from Trump to Joe Biden. She wrote to Meadows, "Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence. of fraud. Make a plan, release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down."

Her actions leading up to January 6th have Democrats and legal scholars demanding that her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, recuse himself from Supreme Court cases related to January 6th.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This is just one of the most classic textbook conflicts of interest, and it would frankly be a scandal if he did not recuse.

COOPER: Do you think ...

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He should not be hearing anything relating to January 6th today.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): If your wife was involved in the big lie and claiming that Donald Trump had actually won the presidential election, he absolutely should recuse himself.


KAYE (voice over): Ginni Thomas is a well-known conservative activist. She has said she briefly attended the January 6th rally, which preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol, but returned home before the insurrection.


GINNI THOMAS: The second Reagan revolution is growing.


KAYE (voice over): After the 2020 election, she also exchanged emails with conservative attorney John Eastman, who the House January 6th committee says helped devise a scheme to try and overturn Joe Biden's victory. It's unclear what Ginni Thomas said to Eastman in the emails. But when she testified before the January 6th committee in 2022, the panel's chair said Ginni Thomas told them she still believed false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

And she testified that after the election, she'd hoped that state legislators could identify fraud and irregularities in a timely manner before it was too late. She also testified about her text to Mark Meadows saying, "I regret all of these texts," explaining it was an emotional time. All of this a glaring problem, say Democrats.


SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-IR): And Justice Thomas has simply refused to disclose what he knew and when he knew it about his wife's insurrection activities. As the Supreme Court's nine justices, including Clarence Thomas, will soon rule on whether Trump is immune from prosecution related to January 6th.

Democrats argue both Justice Thomas and his wife have an interest in the outcome of Donald Trump's prosecution and in making Jack Smith's case against Trump go away.

WHITEHOUSE: There's a very direct conflict of interest if he can help get rid of the case, he can protect his wife from the scrutiny of having her actions be evidence for the prosecution.

KAYE (voice over): Ginni Thomas told the January 6th committee she was certain she never spoke with her husband about the legal challenges to the 2020 election. She also testified that Clarence Thomas was completely unaware of the text that she had with Mark Meadows until, she says, the committee leaked them to the press.

She also said it's "laughable for anyone who knows her husband to think she could influence his jurisprudence." For his part, Clarence Thomas has remained silent on the issue and has given no indication he plans to recuse himself.


CLARENCE THOMAS, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Love to spend time with my wife, who's totally my best friend in the whole world.


KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN.


COOPER: With that as the backdrop, I'm joined now by Jeffrey Toobin, bestselling author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," which is an awesome book.

So can you just explain why Justice Thomas is not - doesn't have to recuse himself? I mean, because what his wife has been saying is the deepest conspiracies, just totally fake stuff.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Which is what this case that they are going to hear August 25th is fundamentally about, which is what are the legal implications of January 6th? The reason he is not required to recuse himself is that the Supreme Court operates by different ethical rules from any other federal judges.

They have no ethical rules that are binding on them and there is no enforcement authority on them. The only discipline that is available when it comes to Supreme Court justices is impeachment.


Which of course has - there's never been a Supreme Court justice impeached, and it's certainly not going to happen here. So Clarence Thomas can deal with this issue by ignoring it, and there is no remedy other than impeachment.

COOPER: Would it take an act of Congress to get some sort of rules in place for the Supreme Court?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And that has been raised over the years. The justices have suggested there might be constitutional problems with Congress imposing rules on the Supreme Court, but we don't - I mean, that's an academic question at this point, since there are not.

COOPER: But I mean, some of these texts from Ginni Thomas are - I mean, they appear delusional. Thomas writes to Mark Meadows, this is, yes, you know, she writes, help this great president stand firm, Mark. You are the leader, with him, who's standing for America's constitutional governance at the precipice. The majority knows Biden and Left is attempting the greatest heist of our History.

TOOBIN: But look at the language, constitutional governance. Her husband is in charge of what - or one of nine people in charge of what constitutional governance is in this country. And this case on - to be argued later this month is about the structure of the constitution as it applies to the January 6th investigation.

COOPER: About loving Sidney Powell, she writes: "Sounds like Sidney and her team are getting inundated with evidence of fraud. Make a plan. Release the Kraken and save us from the left taking America down." I mean ...

TOOBIN: Well, and ...

COOPER: ... this is like boilerplate bananas.

TOOBIN: But it's more than that, because Sidney Powell is not just a bananas conspiracy theorist. She is a defendant in the Georgia criminal case, as is Mark Meadows, who is the recipient of this. So she is intimately involved with people who are under criminal indictment in connection with this very case. It also raises the question, what was she saying with Sidney Powell? How - what were the nature of her conducts - contacts.

She did give a deposition to the January 6th Committee, but they didn't really get into much detail.

COOPER: And the idea that Ginni Thomas has never had a conversation with her husband about the banana conspiracy theories. I mean, that's just seems insane. What is pro-Trump attorney John Eastman - who used to be a clerk of Thomas - how does he play into all this?

TOOBIN: Well, he is in the process of being disbarred and he is also a defendant in this - in the Georgia case. He - the - he is facing consequences. It is unclear to me whether Ginni Thomas should face any legal consequences. But even if she was just exercising her first amendment rights, which she certainly has a right to do, it gravely implicates her husband in a conflict of interest that is just so obviously egregious. But as I said, no one can do anything about it unless Thomas himself decides to recuse himself, which he clearly will not do because they granted certiorari in the case. He participated in that decision, so he's obviously going to participate in the decision.

COOPER: I've heard past Supreme Court justices talk about sort of a collegial friendship feeling among justice. Do these people hate each other?

TOOBIN: They do not hate each other. I mean, there is a culture of niceness at the Supreme Court, perhaps to a fault. Stephen Breyer, who just retired, he's written a book.

COOPER: Right, that's who I heard talking about ...

TOOBIN: Right, yes. Yes, and he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York times saying, oh, we disagree so strongly, but we get along so well. The question I have about that, much as I respect justice Breyer is who cares that they get along. I care that they - about the decisions they come out with. I think most Americans care about the decisions they come out with, whether they get along or not is really of no consequence.

COOPER: There's - I mean, it doesn't seem like there's any way he's going to recuse himself.

TOOBIN: Zero chance.

COOPER: Zero chance.

TOOBIN: Because she's - he's already participated in the case by - in the certiorari decision, the - that is agreeing to take the case. So there is zero chance he will recuse himself and there is zero possibility that anyone can do anything about it except impeach him, which obviously is not going to happen.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thank you.

Next, the former president's apparent shift on abortion, specifically the politics behind it, surrounding it in the face of yesterday's stunning Arizona court ruling, taking the state back to 1864.

And later yet another Republican house speaker under fire from another member of his own party, in this case, Marjorie Taylor Greene and the turmoil she is now bringing.



COOPER: More fallout today from yesterday's shocker of a ruling by Arizona Supreme Court, reinstating a near total ban on abortion passed in 1864. Today, Republican state lawmakers blocked Democrats in both chambers from advancing measures to roll back the law. You'll recall the week began with the former president saying that abortion should be left to the states without really saying what he'd do as president. Yesterday, after the ruling, he stuck with that line with the campaign spokesman saying, "President Trump could not have been more clear. These are decisions for people of each state to make," which sounds like he was all right with the ruling.

Today, though, perhaps sensing the potential political problems building. He said the court went too far.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, they did, and that'll be straightened out, and as you know, it's all about state's rights, and it'll be straightened out, and I'm sure that the governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason, and that'll be taken care of, I think, very quickly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you sign a national abortion ban if Congress sent it to your desk?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you sign it - you would not sign it.


COOPER: The former president has already repeatedly boasted about appointing justices who overturned Roe v. Wade, so there's that. Joining us are CNN political commentators, both conservatives, Scott Jennings and Alyssa Farah Griffin, also Kaitlan Collins, who anchors THE SOURCE coming up at the top of the next hour.

I mean, Alyssa, I don't know why I would even ask this question, but do you believe the former president when he says he would never sign a national abortion ban?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely not. Listen, Donald Trump's not motivated by any core ideology. He's guided by the political winds and what those around him who he seeks to get advice from advise him to do and what he thinks is going to garner him the most political goodwill.


So, of course, if the Tucker Carlsons and the Steve Bannons of the world say you need to sign this and his base is telling him to, he absolutely would. Now, reality is there aren't votes in the Senate at this point for a federal abortion ban, but he would if it were in front of him.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, the former president - does his latest stance potentially help him with moderates more than it hurts him with conservatives, because we had pollster Frank Luntz on last night, he seems to think nothing the former president could do would cost him evangelical support.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they're certainly banking on the idea that there's effectively two choices here, Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And if you're a pro-life evangelical and you look at the two men's records, what are you going to do? Go vote for Joe Biden? I don't think so. That's what they're believing.

Now, it is interesting, this whole question about a federal ban, as Alyssa said, there's no way. Anything can ever pass the Congress. If I were him, I think I would be that honest about it and say, you keep asking me about a ban, but Congress isn't going to act. That's why I took my position, which is the realistic position that the states are going to end up sorting this out.

This is where Joe Biden, I actually think, says some things that are not true sometimes because he seems to intimate to his supporters that he can reinstate Roe versus Wade if you vote for him. Well, that's not going to happen either.

So the truth is, action is happening in the states. And now you see him laying out his preferences as each state pops up, whether it's Alabama on IVF or Arizona on this deal.

COOPER: Kaitlan, how tough do you think it is going to be for the foreign president to portray himself as the person who feels proud about Roe v. Wade being overturned, but is also critical of near total bans and stays?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANOCHOR: The Trump team was feeling pretty good on Monday about how his abortion announcement went, that how it was sitting with Republicans who are in moderate districts that are going to have a lot of trouble this fall because they kind of felt like he had hit this middle ground and maybe it wouldn't be so much of an issue.

Well, I think Arizona, has dropped the bombshell that shows the whole states rights argument is not going to work and it's not going to be sufficient because what Donald Trump is saying is, hey, this should be left up to the states. Today, he's criticizing how a state that it was left up to is handling it. And of course, we're only in that position because of how he paved the way to get here with Roe v. Wade being overturned with the three justices he put on the Supreme Court.

So I think it's become a real issue and it's a wrinkle in their plans for how they were going to handle what Trump knows is a really sensitive issue. I mean, he doesn't even say, hey, abortion in private. He calls it the A word because they know how bad this is for Republicans.

And Donald Trump's a lot of things, but he is politically astute and he gets this. And this is making it difficult for them. And it's not totally clear how they're going to handle this. Now he's saying it should be up to the state's Democratic governor. He wanted a Republican to win that race, Kari Lake.

COOPER: Right.

COLLINS: Obviously, she didn't. It's just kind of rich, I think, that they're now turning to the Democratic governor to fix this problem. COOPER: Well, also, I'm going to - talking about Kari Lake, I want to play what she said in 2022 about the civil exactly same Civil War-era abortion ban after Roe v. Wade was overturned.


KARI LAKE, (R) U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm incredibly thrilled that we are going to have a great law that's already on the books. I believe it's ARS 13-3603. So it will prohibit abortion in Arizona except to save the life of a mother.


COOPER: She's now saying reverse that, she's saying she doesn't like this, things have gone too far.

GRIFFIN: Well, and you know that a law has got to be extreme if Kari Lake is saying it's too extreme. This is a flip-flop and reversal. But to Kaitlan's point, I think Trump did the best that he could with the politics of this. I do think the only tenable place for him to be would be deferred estates.

But I actually have a working theory that it definitely will hurt Republicans in the election. I think Donald Trump may be able to message his way and in a way that it's not going to hurt him as much. What I mean by that is we saw Kansas, Kentucky, and Ohio, where people came out and voted for Republicans but also voted to uphold abortion rights.

That signals something, which is that people can separate the issue. And if it's on ballots, there's going to be voters who are going to say, great, I get to vote for Trump and I get to vote for reproductive rights.

COOPER: Which is in Florida, it's going to be on the ballot like that.

GRIFFIN: It'll be on the ballot in Florida. And I think it's much harder for down-ballot candidates. This is - I mean, this is a gift to Ruben Gallego. This is going to be very hard for Kari Lake to try to message her way out of.

But Trump's kind of a master of saying everything to all people and kind of being on all sides of an issue.

COOPER: Scott, I mean, clearly the former president does not believe it's politically tenable to support abortion bans without exceptions for rape, incest, life of the mother. Do you worry about GOP House and Senate candidates running into trouble with voters in November if they don't agree with him on that, especially with control of Congress on the line?

JENNINGS: Yes, he absolutely has the correct political position on this. And my advice to Republicans running in any kind of a district that has any kind of purplishness at all, even not purplishness, be for the exceptions. It's the old Reagan position. It's what the Republican Party was for, for years. It's overwhelmingly popular. And trying to go down this rabbit hole of picking and choosing the exceptions, I'm just telling you, people want the exceptions. Alyssa mentioned Kentucky. We did have some stuff on the ballot in the last couple of years. We don't have the exceptions. We have life of the mother, but we don't have in Kentucky, where I live, the other two. And voters noticed, and they didn't like it. And so Trump's instincts on that are absolutely correct.

COOPER: I mean, Kaitlan, the - Trump is a resident of Florida. Is he going to take a position on the ballot?


COLLINS: I think it is a good question because he's been critical of the six-week law. He said it was too harsh he believed. The law that Ron DeSantis got the Florida legislature and Florida which would basically do whatever he wanted a little over a year ago, to push that through. He says it was their idea, but obviously, I mean, he was a very powerful governor at the time and they thought he was going to be president potentially one day.


COLLINS: And so, we are seeing how it didn't help him in the Republican primary, obviously. He's not the Republican presumptive nominee. So, I think it's a good question because I think Trump has broken with his party on that and I don't think he has said how he would vote on that and he's been very critical of the six weeks.

COOPER: Yeah. Kaitlan, thanks so much. Alyssa, thanks, Scott as well. Up next the standoff between House Speaker Johnson and fellow Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene and her efforts to remove him from his post amid the Republican shrinking majority.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R-GA): He's not a Republican Speaker of the House. He is the Democrat Speaker of the House.

Mike Johnson doesn't have the trust of the Conference, and that's become very clear.

Mike Johnson has made a complete departure of who he is and what he stands for, and to the point where people are literally asking, is he blackmailed? What is wrong with him?



COOPER: The Republican House leadership is once again hanging by a thread. You'll remember it was only six months ago when the far-right members of the House ousted then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, which then set in motion a wild three weeks with no House Speaker and Republicans fighting on full display. What's old seems to be new again because, right now, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene is threatening to do it again this time to Johnson.

She filed a motion last month to remove him over, among other things, funding for Ukraine, but hasn't moved to force a vote on it yet. She continues to threaten that though, which is complicating the Republican's narrow House majority even further and causing division in the party with the number of Republican lawmakers now saying that Greene's effort is enough. CNN's Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The frustration within the House GOP is palpable.

REP. GARRET GRAVES, (R-LA): We don't truly have a majority at this point. You have a loosely aligned coalition government right now and it's an incredible challenge.

RAJU: Bitter GOP infighting derailing the GOP agenda and now threatening Speaker Mike Johnson's job, delays major decisions over the FBI spying power, and providing billions in aid to Ukraine, all as the threat to oust him continues to loom as Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene escalates her attacks.

TAYLOR GREENE: The motion to vacate is real. We can't continue to be led by our elected Speaker of the House that's passing the Democrat agenda. Our voters will not tolerate that.

RAJU: All of it enraging fellow Republicans.

REP. MAX MILLER, (R-OH): This is incredibly reckless. This is nothing more than just, look at me, no one else is paying attention, so here is my motion to vacate. Now, it's my time.

REP. MARC MOLINARO, (R-NY): I think it's an absurdity that's unnecessary. And frankly, it was a mistake when this Congress allowed it to happen to Kevin McCarthy.

REP. TROY NEHLS, (R-TX): It's an impossible job. The Lord Jesus himself could not manage his conference, with this Congress -- you just can't do it.

RAJU (voice-over): Johnson will soon see his razor-thin majority shrink, giving him just one vote to spare. But the right wing continues to give Johnson fits, furious over his deal-making with Democrats, and warning him about his moves ahead. Greene outlined her anger in a scathing five-page letter attacking Johnson over his handling of a funding package to keep the government open. And in a 70-minute meeting with Johnson today, warning him not to move ahead with any more aid to Ukraine or a bill to renew the FBI's warrantless surveillance authority, something Former President Donald Trump successfully urged Republicans to kill earlier today.

TAYLOR GREENE: Most of the members I've talked to support the letter that I sent and they completely agree with it, and that's the only feedback that I've heard.

RAJU: But Johnson offering this warning, if Greene moves ahead.


RAJU: Yet, several hardliners are open to Greene's call for his ouster.

REP. ERIC BURLISON, (R-MO): I think she has some valid concerns. I'm not closing the door.

RAJU: Are you ready to vote to vacate the Speaker?

REP. ANNA PAULINA LUNA, (R-FL): No, we are not going to go down that path right now. I think that the Republican Conference as a whole needs to really figure out what we are about.

RAJU: If he does move forward with any Ukraine package, could that cost him his job?

REP. WARREN DAVIDSON, (R-OH): Yeah. I think it will be a real risk for the speaker to move a giant package.

RAJU: But Johnson, who is holding a Florida a press conference with Trump on Friday, could also be saved by Democrats, especially if he moves on Ukraine aid.

REP. TOM SUOZZI, (D-NY): Whatever he does, I'm going to support him because he's trying to do the right thing.


COOPER: Manu now joins me from Capitol Hill. So, what are you hearing about how Former President Trump will come down on the issue?

RAJU: Well, that is one of the big questions right now, about whether or not Donald Trump will try to tip the scales one way or the other. Marjorie Taylor Greene told me that she spoke with Donald Trump yesterday. She would not say whether or not Donald Trump was supportive of her effort. I asked her if he's starting to dissuade her in anyway, she said -- she wouldn't -- she suggested that he was not and that Donald Trump instead was focused on his own re-election.

Meantime, Mike Johnson has been speaking with Trump, but he would decline to comment to, when I asked him today whether or not he has asked Trump for his support. Now, we do you have learned also that Trump is -- and Johnson are planning to have a joint press conference on Friday in Mar-a-Lago. There also been talking (ph) about election issues. What exactly that means is unclear and whether or not he actually gives Johnson the support is also unclear.

If he does, that could help him significantly with the right wing of his party and will be uncertain whether or not Marjorie Taylor Greene would change her approach, if that were to occur. We do know, Anderson, that lots of Trump -- lots of Johnson allies who are close to Donald Trump have been urging the former president to get behind Mike Johnson in this critical time, believing that a chaotic episode where the Speaker of this House and Republican infighting will only hurt is efforts to take back the White House. So whether Donald Trump has tipped the scales in this inner-party fight remains to be seen.

COOPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you. Meanwhile, as Johnson faces a serious threat of his speakership, this Friday, as Manu just mentioned, he is set hold a joint news conference with the former president at Mar-a-Lago on "election integrity."


COOPER: CNN's Kristen Holmes joins us now with more. So, what's the goal here with this press conference?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on whose goal you're talking about because I'm not of the impression that there's any goal for Former President Donald Trump, and that every -- the big goal here belongs to Speaker Johnson. Just so you know, I've talked to one senior adviser to Donald Trump who called this "Johnson's thing." Another one told me that it was Johnson's team that was running point (ph) on this press conference.

And if you really look at the timing hear, you -- Johnson going down to Florida to stand next to Donald Trump at a time when he really needs his support to talk about something that matters to Donald Trump, that Donald Trump wants to talk about. And Manu talked a little bit about this. But actually a number of Johnson allies who told me that they have encouraged Trump to either support Johnson on Friday or just stay out of this altogether, and I will also remind you that Marjorie Taylor Greene is very, very close to Donald Trump.

The other part of this is that Donald Trump might not want to weigh in and on top of that, he told one source of mine that he doesn't want to go through another speaker battle. So, he might have to weigh in at some point if that's what doesn't want to do.

COOPER: And so, what is the political benefit if anything for Trump to help the speaker?

HOLMES: The political benefit is that he gets to stay out of another speaker race and there isn't another speaker race. I will remind you that during this lengthy month-long process of ousting Kevin McCarthy and eventually getting to Mike Johnson, almost the entire news cycle every single week was all about the speaker. (inaudible) at one point, Donald Trump actually said, when he was in court in New York, all anyone cares about is the speaker's race. He said that

Donald Trump likes to get media attention. He doesn't want the fixation to be on another part of this chaotic Republican Party. He wants it to be on him running for president. And if there is another upset, if there is another weeks-long process that we all take to have it (ph), every news cycle, that's going to take away from him being in court in New York as well. No, he wants to maximize those opportunities.

COOPER: Kristen Holmes, thanks. Up next, new details on an Israeli strike that killed three children of a senior Hamas political leader. That and how Israel is responding to Hamas' claim they're currently unable to find 40 hostages that meet the criteria for the first phase of any ceasefire deal.



COOPER: Tonight, two major developments in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli Military today confirm they carried out a strike killing three sons of a top Hamas political leader. The IDF says the three were Hamas military operatives who conducted terrorist activity in Gaza. A CNN stringer in Gaza also said three of the leaders' grandchildren were killed in the strike. The attack comes amid ongoing negotiations for another hostage and ceasefire deal. But Hamas has indicated they don't have enough hostages that would meet the criteria for the first phase of a ceasefire.

I'm joined now by CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem and CNN Military Analyst, Retired Army Four-Star General and Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark. So Jeremy, what exactly is Hamas saying about those -- not having this hostages because the Israel has said there's at least some 130 believed (ph) held hostage?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, for weeks now, these negotiations have been trying to build towards an agreement centering around two key things. First of all, a six-week ceasefire, and secondly, the release of some 40 hostages, the remaining women as well as elderly and sick men. But now, we are learning that Hamas has informed the mediators that they either don't have, or that they cannot locate 40 hostages who fit those categories.

And this is obviously a major potential obstacle to reaching an agreement because of how much and for how long the talks have focused on that very notion. And it also raises the specter frankly for the families of those hostages that there simply are not 40 hostages alive who match that category, raising concerns for those families, of course, and for the prospects of a deal.

COOPER: General Clark, I mean, if it's true that Hamas doesn't have 40 hostages that fit the criteria, do you think they would ever turned over other hostages even if they are younger military-aged males?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They (inaudible) if they want the negotiated agreement to move forward. But right now, the momentum is with Hamas. They know they're winning. They know the weight of global opinion, including in the United States, is weighing in against the Israelis, against a continuation of the operation into Rafah and they know that if they simply hang tough, continue to report casualties, get the sympathy of the world on their side, there will be increasing pressure against Israel. And this has been really the aim of their war plan since October 7th.

COOPER: You believe they are winning?

CLARK: They believe they are winning and if you look at the measures of success, we can't tell how many Hamas commanders have been killed and so forth. But, the bottom line on it is, if this fight is ended and Hamas survives, it will come out and anything is done to rebuild Gaza, give a Palestinian two-state or anything else, Hamas will claim that it's the victor and that it is the cause for the success of the two-state solution, and the rebuilding of Gaza and so forth. And Hamas has been an organization dedicated to murder. (Inaudible) terrorist organization. So it's a really bad thing for the whole region if Hamas does survive and claim success.

COOPER: Jeremy, obviously, Hamas is violating all international norms, Red Cross norms about the treatment of hostages and the identifying of hostages, communications from hostages.


COOPER: They haven't even put forward an accounting of all the people that they have, have they?

DIAMOND: No, they haven't and that's something that Israel has been trying to obtain for months now as part of these negotiations, asking Hamas for a list of the hostages that they have, a list of the hostages that they have who remain alive. And so far, Hamas has refused to provide that. They have repeatedly said that what they need is a ceasefire in order to be able to actually identify and locate all of these hostages, some of whom are not in their captivity, but in the captivity of other militant groups.

And we know that the Israeli government has a certain sense of which hostages are alive and in which hostages are dead. And we also know that the Israeli government believes that beyond those some 30 hostages who they have confirmed to be dead, they believe that there are others who likely are as well, but there is a very high bar, Anderson, in the Israeli government for actually confirming and publicly certifying that certain hostages are dead. And so, there is still a certain degree of uncertainty for those families.

COOPER: And what about this strike that we talked about that killed three of the sons of a Hamas leader, who the IDF says were three people engaged in terrorist activity?

DIAMOND: Yeah, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' political leader, today, three of his children as well as three of his grandchildren were killed in an Israeli airstrike in -- on a vehicle in Gaza. The Israeli military says that it was targeting his three children who they say are Hamas military operatives operating inside of Gaza. Haniyeh for his part very quickly drew a connection between this airstrike and those ongoing negotiation, suggesting that it was an effort to get Hamas to back off of its demands. And he said that anyone who thinks that it will prompt Hamas to softened its position is "delusional."

But I can tell you, Anderson, that tonight there is a scrambled by Israeli officials to try and distinguish between that airstrike on that vehicle and those ongoing negotiations. An Israeli official telling me that these two situations where essentially unlinked and two other Israeli officials also telling me that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant were not informed about this strike ahead of time, suggesting that this was not some kind of a politically motivated move.

But again, for now, Hamas is drawing that connection and that could be yet another stumbling block in these talks.

COOPER: General Clark, how strong do you think Hamas still is?

CLARK: I think they still have command and control of several battalions. I think the battalions are somewhat lower in strength than they started, but we would estimate 3,000 to 5,000 fighters are still in there. There's still an effective resistance to Israel. They are still using the civilian population as hostages. They're still interfering with the delivery of humanitarian supplies, medical supplies, and I don't believe for a minute that they can't locate hostages because these underground organizations have long-standing plans and rehearsals on how to maintain communications when Israel does what is expected, which is cutting communications, bombing, disrupting things.

Saying they can't locate, it is just another way to put more pressure on Israel through the United States, just like what Jeremy was saying about the Hamas claims about the three sons that were killed by the Israeli airstrike. That was a legitimate military target and Israel executed it. And you know, if it had been an American system, we would have looked at it. We might have said (inaudible) there is children there. But under the Israeli rules of engagement, that's a legitimate target. Those people were killers, terrorists, and they were taken out. It has nothing to do with the negotiations.

COOPER: General Clark, thank you, Jeremy diamond as well. Just ahead, we remember the man who shaped the careers of some of the biggest names in TV news and changed the TV news business forever. The life and legacy of Richard Leibner next.



COOPER: A legend in the news business, Richard Leibner died yesterday after a long illness. Leibner might not be a household name, but he helped make a lot of household names in the news business. He was an agent for many of the top television journalists for a time, but he was also a force of nature. And I'm happy to say he was a friend. I'd like you to know a bit about him.


COOPER (voice-over): When Richard Leibner was growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s, there was no way to imagine the things he would one day accomplish. His real life began in 1962 when he asked Carole Cooper out on a blind date. They married two years later. It was the first and best deal he ever made. They've been together ever since. Richard became an accountant but the Vietnam War was escalating and a lot of print journalists were moving over to TV.

Richard knew contracts and was a tough negotiator. He became an agent and started signing up the best talent in TV he could find. Some people thought he was crazy, but Richard saw the future and an opportunity to shape it. He helped turn reporters into household names. Dan Rather, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Bob Simon, Steve Croft, Diane Sawyer, the list goes on and on. The deals he made, the vision he had, changed the television news business forever.

His wife Carole became an agent too and a powerhouse in her own right. She still is. She agreed to represent me nearly 30 years ago when not a lot of people were interested in doing so. She changed my life too and she is part of my kids' lives now as well.