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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

7 Jurors Seated In Historic Trump NY Hush Money Criminal Trial; Including Two Lawyers, A Nurse, IT Consultant And Teacher; NY Times Poll: 58% Of Registered Voters Call Charges Serious; WH: U.S. To Impose New Sanctions On Iran In Coming Days; Heated Debate Inside Israeli War Cabinet Over When, How To Respond To Iran Attacks Delaying Ground Offensive In Rafah; Defiant Speaker Mike Johnson Says "I Am Not Resigning"; Court Doc: Den. Menendez May Blame Wife In Bribery Trial. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 16, 2024 - 20:00   ET



MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Could control the fate of the Republican speaker, Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean, it is absolutely incredible. And as you say, not fully tipping their hand and he would need them to survive. So ironic, a guy who has refused to give them their Ukraine bill up to now, maybe someone they choose to save because they might get - I mean, wow, the machinations.


BURNETT: Thank you so much, Melanie Zanona, in showing the power of Marjorie Taylor Greene right now on the Hill.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us as well, AC360 begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening from Israel. I'm joining you from Tel Aviv, where tension remains high and the government's war cabinet met again today for a fifth time, still weighing how it will answer Iran's missile and drone attack over the weekend. Sources telling CNN, the United States is expecting it to be limited in scope.

And this evening, National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan said the administration will impose new sanctions on Iran in the coming days.

In New York, meantime, a busy second day of the first criminal trial ever of a former president. Seven jurors have now been chosen. The judge warning Trump for speaking and gesturing in the direction of one potential juror.

And legal observers took note of his pre-trial remarks this morning, which some suggest were incriminating. That is not all, he said. After the proceedings away from the courthouse, he was asked what his ideal juror would be. "Anyone that's fair," he replied. When he was asked this and the answer he gave was a hundred percent in character.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that the jury - the jurors seated today can be fair?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'll let you know after the trial, depending on what happens.


COOPER: So we begin with a productive and eventful second day in the Trump trial. CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the courthouse in Lower Manhattan and joins us. So as we mentioned, Kara, there are now seven jurors seated. Are the proceedings moving along quicker than expected?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson. The judge kept the potential jurors here for an extra hour today as he is trying to move this along and keep this on schedule. As you said, he's seated seven jurors in the case so far on the quest to get to 12 jurors and as many as six alternates. He had pushed for them to answer these questions and keeping the Trump's attorneys on time. All of this came as we are now had the entire full day of questions.



KARA MCGEE, DISMISSED JUROR: It's this, like, massive sense of gravitas and importance because you know that this is history in the making.


SCANNELL (voiceover): The perspective from one dismissed potential juror as dozens more filed into a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday. Seven jurors have now been seated. The seated jurors include an Irishman in sales, a female oncology nurse, a female English teacher at a charter school, a female software engineer, a male owner of an IT business, and two male attorneys.

The jury selection strategy for both parties taking shape. Trump attorneys spending the afternoon digging into the social media post of some potential jurors. Two were struck for cause, one for a social media post referencing Trump and "lock him up." When a prosecutor asked the juror if he still believes Trump should be locked up, the juror answered no. Trump was seen craning his neck toward him and flashing a smirk.

Judge Juan Merchan issued a stern warning to Trump after he visibly reacted to a juror's answers about a video she posted on social media. He warned Trump's lawyer, "Your client was audibly uttering. I will not have any jurors intimidated in the courtroom."

That juror was questioned outside the presence of the others about a video she posted on social media showing an outdoor celebration, "Spreading the honking cheer," around Election Day 2020. She said it was a New York celebratory moment. Trump's lawyer suggested she was biased.

The judge said he believed the juror could be fair and didn't excuse her. Trump's attorney Todd Blanche telling those in the jury pool, "It's extraordinarily important to President Trump that we know we're going to get a fair shake." One juror said he finds Trump fascinating because he "walks into a room and he sets people off one way or the other." Blanche seemed amused with the response.

Another juror said she learned for the first time Tuesday that Trump has been charged in three other cases. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass addressed prospective jurors asking them to set aside any strong feelings. He asked each to consider if they would be able to look defendant Trump in the eye and return a guilty verdict if the case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Trump appeared to look at the jurors tilting his head once or twice as they were answering yes, according to pool reports.


COOPER: Kara, what do you know about how engaged and alert the former president seems today? Because yesterday, Maggie Haberman said he appeared to doze off.

SCANNELL: Yes, at times, Anderson, Donald Trump had his eyes closed, but at other points, he had the jury questionnaire, that written document in his hand, following along as the jurors were being questioned.


And when his lawyers and the prosecutors had the 18 jurors in the box where they each side have 30 minutes to pose their questions, Donald Trump appeared to be following along even turning his body to look at this, to pay attention, to try to get some sense from the jurors of what they were thinking.

COOPER: Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Joining us now, two former federal prosecutors, Jeffrey Toobin and Jessica Roth, also jury consultant, Alan Tuerkheimer.

So, Jeff, you predicted last night that this trial would move along in typical fashion and here we are tonight, seven jurors already seated. Does the pace even exceed what you expected?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: It does. This is really fast. And the judge suggested, he didn't say commit, but he said today that he thought opening statements could happen Monday. And remember, there's no court tomorrow. He doesn't sit with a jury on Wednesdays.

So he thinks the jury will be filled out in two more days. And as I said last night, people don't follow these cases, as closely as we think they do. They're obviously aware of who Donald Trump is, but based on the answers, they did seem like a group that could listen to the evidence and reach a verdict, not based on prior feelings about the defendant.

COOPER: Jessica, what do you make of potential jurors who seem to be trying extra hard to convince the attorneys that they can be fair? Would that raise a red flag to you or should that approach to citizenship be commended?

JESSICA ROTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I actually think it is to be commended, that people are saying that they think they can be fair and impartial, notwithstanding some statements they have made in the past, perhaps on social media pertaining to the former president. I think what has to happen, though, is that the parties have to evaluate whether they think that that actually is true, that the juror can put aside any previous feeling.

But I think that it is to be commended that people are taking seriously what the judge is telling them, which is that they would only be seated if they could actually put aside any prior conceptions and decide the case based solely on the evidence.

TOOBIN: But I also think it's good that the lawyers on both sides can look at the social media posts, because that is an indication of people's true feelings. They obviously weren't posting on Facebook or Twitter thinking that they were going to be on the jury. It's a good insight into what they really believe. And both sides deserve the right to know what people really think about issues relevant to this case.

ROTH: Yes, I would say the process is working as it should. I mean, that's really what we're seeing unfolding.

COOPER: Alan, the foreperson is, we know, is a man originally from Ireland, who works in sales, as he gets his news from The New York Times, the Daily Mail, Fox, and MSNBC. What do you think he will bring to that post? And is it - it's not unusual, obviously, in a city as big as New York to have jury members and a foreperson who's from someplace else originally?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT: That's New York. It's a melting pot. You have people from all walks of life and that depends on what the personality is. Now, you might have jurors inclined to go one way or the other, but now it's really about the influence that each side thinks they're going to have in the deliberation.

And what really struck me is not to minimize the contributions of other jurors. New Yorkers are usually fully engaged. You have two lawyers that are already seated, and that's a risky proposition for both parties involved. And it could cut one way or the other, but some might think that this is a jury of two right now.

Now, I'm not saying these lawyers are going to just dominate, but jurors - the other jurors will look to these lawyers for guidance. And if something comes in, a fellow juror makes an argument about something extra legal that's not in evidence, a lawyer might shut that down and get them to focus, or lawyers like to argue. So if there's a 11 to 1 or 10 to 2, if there's a contrarian personality by this lawyer, that lawyer might just keep the deliberation going. It's very interesting.

TOOBIN: Anderson, about a decade ago, Chief Judge Judith Kaye created a system where almost all exclusions, all exemptions from jury service were out. They're lawyers - we've both served on juries. I mean, everybody serves in Manhattan and in all of New York State now. And so you get a much more upscale jury in - particularly in Manhattan, which has a lot of high-income people in it than you used to because there's so many fewer exemptions from jury service.

COOPER: Jessica, I mentioned what some of the former president had to say outside of court today about the alleged hush money payments at the heart of the case. I just want to play a clip of that.


TRUMP: I was paying a lawyer and marked it down as a legal expense. Some accountant, I didn't know, marked it down as a legal expense. That's exactly what it was. And you've been indicted over that?


ROTH: So that I think --

COOPER: Is that incriminating?

ROTH: Yes. So that was an interesting statement.


I don't think we should overstate how incriminating it was. I mean, his name - he signed some of the checks to Michael Cohen, reimbursing him for these fees. When he started to say, I marked it down as legal expenses, my ears perked up because it's been a little bit unclear exactly how the state is going to prove that Trump falsified the records because many of these entries may have been made by the accountants for the Trump organization. And Cohen was going to - is apparently going to testify that Trump was part of the scheme to falsify. It seemed there that Trump was saying that he marked it down as legal expenses. And then it seemed like he caught himself and said the accountants marked it down.

So he may still argue that he was essentially relying on the advice of the accountants or the accountants entirely on their own were marking it down as legal expenses.

TOOBIN: But remember, the whole case is about the falsification of these business records. And Trump has potentially the argument, look, I run a multibillion dollar accountant, I don't know how the accountants, how bookkeepers record things. That's a - that's going to be a big issue in the case. How is the government going to prove that Trump knew and initiated or at least supported the idea that these payoffs were recorded as legal fees? He said, mark them down. Now, as Jessica said, he sort of caught himself, but that that video could be played before the jury, no question.

COOPER: Alan, I'm wondering, there was a juror who said that they were - sort of found Trump fascinating that - when you walked in a room, people knew who he was and were kind of divided. Is that somebody - and that person was kept? Is that somebody you would have chosen?

TUERKHEIMER: If I was working for President Trump, yes, I probably would have. I think a lot of jurors who are excluded have the exact opposite view. And this juror didn't say that they find him repugnant or repelling or anything like that. He has this aura about him and I think a lot of his fans have a sense that he's on this other level and they're in awe of him.

So if somebody uses the word fascination, yes, I think that could very well be a good juror for former president.

COOPER: So was it a mistake for the prosecution to let that juror on?

TUERKHEIMER: I can't say that. There might have been other things about this juror's personality or other things and other questions that they thought might be that this juror might - that might help them in the deliberation at some point. So I can't say that on the surface. But generally, yes, I mean, it's - it looks like a good juror for Trump, just knowing what we know.

ROTH: Remember, the prosecution like the defense only gets ...

COOPER: Jeff, are the former president's - go ahead.

ROTH: ... they only get 10 peremptory challenges. And so you have to be careful how you use them up, because if you use up all of your peremptory challenges on people who you have some concern about, you may have none left when you have somebody who you have a really grave concern about. So it may be also that the prosecution is just sort of holding on to the ones that are they have left for when they're really, really worried about somebody.

COOPER: Jeff, are the former president's physical reactions in the courtroom going to be a problem for him? I mean, today we know he was admonished, as we said, for audibly murmuring, gesturing towards a juror. He'd also apparently perk up when a potential juror mentioned reading, you know, one of his books or being a fan of the apprentice.

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, this is so different from Donald Trump's day to day life where he is nothing but in control all the time. And he's a very outspoken person to say to say the least, he is famous for interrupting people and he's got to sit there and only speak when the judge gives him permission to speak, which, as the defendant, will not be very often unless he takes the stand.

So I think it's going to be a extremely uncomfortable experience for him. He's been involved in many civil lawsuits over his long career, but he has not been in the courtroom for most of those lawsuits for any length of time. And I think sitting there having to be silent and behave himself is going to be excruciating for him.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Jessica Roth, Alan Tuerkheimer, I really appreciate having you all on. Thank you.

One other interesting courtroom note. These first two days, not a single member of the former president's family has been there with him. That includes his wife, Melania. The headline in today's New York Times, "Melania Trump Avoids the courtroom, But Is Said to Share Her Husband's Anger." More now from Randi Kaye.



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The Wall Street Journal reporting that a lawyer for President Trump arranged a hefty payment to an adult film star, why? Because of an alleged sexual affair.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): When news of Donald Trump's alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels first broke, what did his wife, Melania, do? She jumped on a plane and headed for Mar-a- Lago in Palm Beach, away from all the drama. That was January 2018.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I spent a ton of time with her when the news was breaking about Stormy Daniels. When news came out that he allegedly had these affairs and she didn't take it lightly at all.



KAYE (voiceover): In the wake of the allegation, she broke tradition and drove separately from her husband to the U.S. Capitol for his State of the Union address later that month. The White House at the time said the unusual move was so she could attend a reception with guests in the first lady's box. But remember, that State of the Union was her first public event since the Wall Street Journal first reported that an alleged hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election for her alleged affair with Trump in 2006.

That would have been just four months after Melania gave birth to the couple's son, Barron.


TRUMP: Hello, everybody.


KAYE (voiceover): Donald Trump has denied the affair took place, yet now finds himself in court fighting allegations that he made payments to cover it up.


GRISHAM: This is an embarrassment to him for - with his family and more importantly, with his wife Melania.


KAYE (voiceover): Like the former president, Melania believes the hush money trial is unfair. That's according to the New York Times, which spoke with several people familiar with her thinking. Back in 2018, when the Stormy Daniels story picked up steam, former aide Stephanie Grisham remembers Donald Trump calling her from Air Force One to discuss Melania.


GRISHAM: To basically see how angry she was and to see if we were putting any statements out. He definitely was worried or she's the one person that I think Donald Trump really fears.


KAYE (voiceover): She's also the one person whose advice he may listen to about whether or not to take the stand at his trial.


GRISHAM: I think behind closed doors as a husband and wife, she would probably say, look, if you have nothing to hide, take the stand type of a thing.


KAYE (voiceover): This certainly wasn't the first time Mrs. Trump has had to manage a very public personal drama involving her husband. Nearly two years before the Stormy Daniels story, there was the Access Hollywood tape.


TRUMP: I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss.


KAYE (voiceover): When Anderson Cooper asked Melania about the 2005 tape in October 2016, she dismissed it, agreeing with her husband it was just locker room talk.


MELANIA TRUMP, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: People think and talk about me like, oh, Melania, oh, poor Melania, don't feel sorry for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I can handle everything.


KAYE (voiceover): Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: Well, more ahead tonight on this, including a fresh look at what voters make of the charges across the country, but also in the single most Trump-friendly county in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Would a conviction in this case change their view and their choice in November?

And later tonight, the shape an Israeli counterstrike on Iran could take. We'll hear from a former head of CENTCOM about potential targets and Iran's defense capabilities as our coverage from Israel continues. Plus, more on the late word we got tonight from the White House about upcoming new sanctions on Iran.



COOPER: So, seven jurors now seated after just two days the former president's first criminal trial. Also today, there's new polling on what voters make of the charges against him. It comes from the Associated Press and it shows that fully half of all registered voters say he would be unfit for office if convicted of them. There's, of course, a substantial partisan split, but even among Republicans, 15 percent consider convictions on the New York charges to be disqualifying for the presidency.

The AP numbers follow the New York Times polling over the weekend, showing that 58 percent of registered voters consider the charges either very serious or somewhat with women being twice as likely as men to say very serious. There's also the question of whether this trial has the potential of changing any minds among the former president's staunchest supporters, which is why our Gary Tuchman went to Texas in the Trumpiest County of the 2016 and 2020 elections.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Kay and Ron Swart settled in along with us in their living room to watch coverage of the Trump jury selection.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One group went through the effort to make a large parade style banner reading, "No one is above the law." They've both voted for Trump twice.


TUCHMAN (off camera): What is your feeling today about Donald Trump's moral character?

KAY SWART, ROBERTS COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: It's terrible. I can't get much lower than it is.


TUCHMAN (voice over): They live on a hilltop ranch in Roberts County in the Texas panhandle, where 96 percent of the voters chose Trump over Joe Biden in 2020, the highest Trump percentage of any county in America.


K SWART: He continues to make crazy comments about being a dictator's first day and repercussions against people who have - he feels have wronged him.


TUCHMAN (voice over): We met this couple during a visit to Roberts County last year. They told us then they liked Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis. But with Trump the only Republican left standing, things have gotten complicated.


TUCHMAN (off camera): If Donald Trump is found guilty of one of these crimes, whether it's in this trial happening right now or if one of the trials happen in the future, do you think he's fit to be president of the United States?

K SWART: I don't think he's fit but I'm voting for him.

RON SWART, ROBERTS COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: I really feel like that we are not going be able to survive another four years of the Democrats in charge.


TUCHMAN (voice over): Rick McDowell is someone else we met last year in Roberts County. He told us then he liked Ron DeSantis.


TUCHMAN (off camera): If Donald Trump is found guilty of a criminal charge, do you think he's fit to be president of the United States?

RICK MCDOWELL, ROBERTS COUNTY, TEXAS RESIDENT: He's as fit as the current president.

TUCHMAN (off camera): Why is that?

MCDOWELL: Because nobody investigates Joe Biden, nobody's going to investigate Joe Biden.


TUCHMAN (voice over): In Roberts County, the current president is often prominently mentioned when you ask questions about the former president.


TUCHMAN (off camera): Do you think Donald Trump is of low character and poor morals and poor ethics?

R SWART: Oh, definitely. Most definitely.

TUCHMAN (off camera): You don't think he's fit to be president if he's found guilty, yet you're going to vote for him. How do you address that conflict? How do you vote for a man who you feel so poorly about?

R SWART: I feel like as wrong as it's going to be to have him for president, he's still going to be a lot better president for the United States than what we're going with Joe Biden and the Democrats.



TUCHMAN (on camera): Here in Roberts County, in the 2016 election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Clinton received a grand total of 20 votes. Four years later, Joe Biden received 17 votes.


TUCHMAN: This is a 1929 model.


TUCHMAN: And was this actually used here in Roberts County?

BOWERS: Here in Roberts County.


TUCHMAN (voice over): Susan Bowers (ph) is the curator of the Roberts County Museum in the county seat of Miami.


TUCHMAN (off camera): In 2020 here in Roberts County, only 17 people in the entire county voted for Joe Biden. Were you one of them?

BOWERS: Yes, I was.


TUCHMAN (voice over): She says she has quibbles with some of what President Biden has done and not done. But unlike almost all of her fellow county voters, Susan Bowers is not giving Donald Trump any benefit of the doubt when it comes to this trial or the one still to come.


BOWERS: He's unethical. He's a criminal. He belongs on reality TV, if that.



COOPER: And Gary joins us now. Are most of the people you've talked to paying close attention to former president's New York trial?

TUCHMAN (on camera): Well, first of all, Anderson, I should tell you that there are many people here in this county who don't think there should be any Trump trials. That being said, almost everyone we talked to is well aware that these proceedings have begun this week, but that awareness would be at a much higher level here and elsewhere if the proceedings were allowed to be televised in the courtroom and of course, they're not. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes. Gary Tuchman, appreciate it. Thanks very much.

Perspective now from CNN Political Commentator Alyssa Farah Griffin.

Alyssa, does it surprise you that some of the voters Gary spoke to don't think Trump is fit to be president, but still plan to vote for him even if he's convicted in a trial?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, fascinating as always, but absolutely models conversations I'm having with Republicans. And if there is one thing Donald Trump has done incredibly effectively this campaign cycle, it's defining Joe Biden as the enemy. So he set out to kind of create this vision of the hellscape of America that we can't survive four more years of, instilling fear in voters so that they're able to say something like Donald Trump is a morally bankrupt person, but it's still better than four more years of Joe Biden.

And Biden hasn't quite yet drawn a stark of a contrast that I think has really locked in his voters in the same way that Trump has. It's very, very effective.

COOPER: There's this recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that 24 percent of Republicans would not vote for Trump if he's convicted of a felony by a jury. Do you think the Trump campaign is taking that number seriously? And do you think that's even true? And people may say that to a pollster, but when it gets down to be a binary choice, like some of the people there, they said they'll vote for him anyway.

GRIFFIN: So listen, this number models CNN and CBS exit polls as well from the primary that quite a large sum of Republicans would have an issue supporting Donald Trump if he was a convicted felon. But what I would be interested to see is if it was, when it's specific to the hush money trial and after we see this trial play out. Because January 6th documents case, unquestionably, I think that would move a lot of Republican voters. And it's also why it's so important that at least January 6th be able to move and go to trial ahead of the election.

But I'm already seeing kind of the movement of Republicans saying hush money - the hush money case doesn't matter. So even if voters say - the idea of voting for a convicted of felon goes against what I stand for, it's going to matter how Republican elected officials respond to this case. And I expect we're going to see the usual, whether it's Elise Stefanik, outside allies of Donald Trump's who are going to say this is a witch hunt. This isn't serious. It's a wrongful case brought against him. And that will, I think, sway some public opinion with Republicans, even if he is, in fact, convicted.

COOPER: There was this New York Times/Siena College poll where women were twice as likely as men, 40 percent to 20 percent view the charges as very serious. The - does the gender split at all surprised you there?

GRIFFIN: No. And I actually would pay attention to that number. So the facts of this case, as we know, it's campaign finance, it's about business records. But some of the more salacious aspects, which I think we're going to hear about as the trial starts to get into motion, the allegations, obviously, of cheating on his wife when she was pregnant, things like that stay in the mind of the voter and I think they sit worse with women, perhaps, than they do male voters.

Now, of course, the public has been familiar with this case since 2018 when it was on our radar. But I think we may see some deeper details from it as this trial plays out that we're going to hear about and that's where I think that there's going to be major movement.

Women are one of the biggest obstacles for Donald Trump heading into his re-election. You know we're 50 percent of the population, but he's struggled in the primary. Women split more heavily when given the opportunity for people like Nikki Haley and this could definitely hurt him.

COOPER: If this trial were ultimately to end in a hung jury, would that be as good as an acquittal in terms of political benefit do you think?

GRIFFIN: Yes, I think Donald Trump would be able to frame it as basically a vindication and exoneration. That's what he does. He's a brander, if nothing else. And I think that he knows how to market something to his favor, especially to the core audience that he's trying to reach this Republican voting bloc that he needs to win over.


COOPER: Well, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thanks so much.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up, more breaking news. New U.S. sanctions plan for Iran. Plus, the top Israeli general already has said Iran's weekend attacks, quote, "will be met with a response." The question, of course, is when and what the response will look like. We'll have the latest next.


COOPER: ?Some important developments tonight in the lead up to the possible retaliatory strikes by Israel on Iran for its weekend attack. First, the White House issuing a threat of new sanctions on top officials on others in -- top officials and others in Iran.

White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz is in Pennsylvania tonight covering that side of the story. So what more do we know about these sanctions? What would they entail?


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tonight says that the U.S. is preparing to impose new sanctions against Iran in the wake of that weekend attack on Israel. The timing for that will be in the coming days.

And Sullivan said that the U.S. is prepared to target Iran's missile and drone operations, as well as entities that are working with the IRGC and Iran's defense ministry.

This announcement from Sullivan comes just a few hours after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier today that the U.S. was prepared to use sanctions and other tools at their disposal to try to disrupt Iran's destabilizing activity in the region. Now, so much of this is being done in coordination with allies around the world.

The Sullivan said that in addition to the U.S. imposing sanctions in the coming days, they do expect allies will also impose sanctions of their own. And he said in a statement, quote, "We will not hesitate to continue to take action in coordination with allies and partners around the world, and with Congress, to hold the Iranian government accountable for its malicious and destabilizing actions."

Now, the administration had signaled that they were working towards these sanctions since yesterday. But the speed with which they're working the fact that they announced this so quickly, that they do expect them to come in the coming days, really highlights the sense of urgency that the administration is taking at this time to try to respond to Iran's attack.

COOPER: What else did the White House announce today related to Iran?

SAENZ: Yes. Jake Sullivan also said that the U.S. was still working to try to integrate air and missile defense systems in the Middle East as they're trying to counter Iran's drone program there. Now, it comes in which we saw some of those defenses -- missile defense systems in action over the weekend after the U.S. and allies worked with Israel to disrupt around 300 missiles and drones that Iran had sent their way.

We also know that the president had just deployed of some naval destroyer ships to the region, and that there were missile defense systems used -- U.S. missile defense systems used to try to target some of those missiles. But what we've also heard from President Biden sources have said that he indicated to Netanyahu that the U.S. would not participate in any counterstrikes against Iran in response to their attack. But what administration officials have continued to stress is that the U.S. will stand ready to defend Israel going forward as well.

COOPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, we appreciate it. Thank you.

Also tonight, Israeli sources telling CNN that the heated debate inside Israel's war cabinet over how and when to respond to this weekend's attack by Iran has delayed its Gaza ground offensive in Rafah. Israel's war cabinet concluded its meeting earlier today, the fifth such meeting since Iran's attack, without giving any additional details about what may come and when exactly any retaliatory strike may come.

Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward joins me here in Tel Aviv. There's, obviously, I mean, we've been waiting now for days for word of what may occur. No resolution that we know of out of the meeting today. Still, it seems like all options are still on the table.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's so interesting, Anderson, because yesterday I feel like we were having this discussion and it really seemed like some kind of a military response was imminent.

Today, the emphasis seems to be very much on the diplomatic track. We've been hearing a lot more from Israel's foreign minister, Israel Katz. He talked about having a kind of flurry of meetings and discussions particularly with European Union foreign ministers ahead of their meeting tomorrow.

He is pushing hard to sort of seize the momentum, really try to isolate Iran diplomatically, trying to push for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC, to be prescribed as a terrorist organization in a number of European countries. Unclear if if that will be any sort of traction around that idea.

But certainly, the focus seems today to be on this coalition building trying to come up with some sort of unified diplomatic response. The military piece is still on the table and it's still anticipated, but it seems that there is much more of a question mark as to the timing of it and still, of course, the big question mark as to the scope and scale of it with a lot of people in the region, understandably, nervous and anxious about what that would pretend, what direction that could potentially take this conflict.

COOPER: There's also, I mean, there's Jordan, the Saudi Arabia, which took part in the defense of Israel, essentially protecting their own airspace during the Iranian attack. They clearly don't want to be put in the position of yet again, having to perhaps take part in the defense of Israel if Israel retaliates against Iran.

WARD: I think for them, they're walking this very, very narrow line, right? Because on the one hand, they don't want to be seen as taking Israel's side. They don't want to be seen as supporting anything that Israel does right now with everything going on in Gaza.

[20:40:01] Another drone strike today in Gaza. Thirteen people killed, seven children. And they know that for the people in their countries, it's impossible politically to kind of try and garner support around that. On the other hand, they view Iran as a massive regional threat, and they are deeply concerned.

So, you have this kind of push pull effect where they're trying to thread that needle of forming a robust response and deterrent to Iran while not being seen to condone Israel's handling of its war in Gaza. It does feel like there was a kind of brief moment of sort of the potential to build some kind of a regional coalition.

COOPER: Which all the Israeli, you know, Daniel Hagari, Admiral Hagari last night in the program was talking about. A lot of Israeli officials are pointing to that even without naming Jordan and Saudi Arabia for fear, I guess, of offending them, but pointing to that as saying that's a kind of a potential harbinger of the future.

WARD: Which is interesting, and then I think you've also seen, not officially, but still the vibe from a lot of these countries has been a little bit of pushback on that. Like, hold on a second, from Jordan's perspective.

COOPER: Right. Yes.

WARD: We were just defending our airspace. We are not interested in kind of formally endorsing Israel's defense or participating in that in any way, shape, or form even if we do see the broader threat of an increasingly belligerent Iran.

COOPER: Yes. Clarissa Ward, thanks so much.

Perspective now from Retired General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. He's the former head of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations and activities in a number of regions, including the Middle East. He's also the author of the forthcoming book, "The Melting Pot: High Command and War in the 21st Century." That comes out in June.

General McKenzie, thank you so much for joining us. The senior Biden administration official telling CNN that the United States believes that Israel's military response to Iran strike is going to be limited in scope. What does limited look like in this context?

GEN. KENNETH F. MCKENZIE JR. (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, Anderson, I think the Israelis face the delightful conundrum, how do you take advantage of a great victory? Because what happened over the weekend was a significant victory for Israel. It's friends, the United States and other nations across the region. And it was a loss for Iran.

So how do you take advantage of that? And I think they need to be very careful and they need to think strategically about the long term. You don't want to waste the goodwill that's been built up by this surprise massive Iranian attack that failed.

You want to keep good relations with your neighbors because you need the access, the basing, the overflight that gives you your strategic depth. So, based on that, if they're going to respond militarily, and that's -- I don't know that that decision has been made.

I think, I'm just listening to the reporters before me, I think it should be something that is short and sharp with a clear beginning, a clear end, a very discernible, understandable objective. And it would also be something I think that needs to emphasize ongoing Israeli technological mastery over Iran, which was illustrated to a profound degree over the last few days.

COOPER: You know, we've heard some threats already from Iran saying if Israel retaliates, that they will strike back bigger than before, that they will do it in seconds. Do you -- I mean, is that saber rattling? Is that bluster?

MCKENZIE: Well, the Iranians always talk better than they fight for one thing. But I suspect if Israel strikes them, I suspect they'll strike back. It will be harder for them to go larger than the effort that they launched over the weekend. They could probably possibly duplicate some elements of that.

I don't know that it would occur in seconds. I think that's just hyperbole. But I'm certain that they would strike back. Yes, I believe that they would. But again, I go back to the point that was proven this weekend. Israel is a very hard target. It's very hard target for Iran to operate against, and that was driven home, you know, in very -- a very vivid terms over the weekend.

COOPER: And you think it is possible for Israel to craft a response that restores the turns without escalating to a wider war?

MCKENZIE: So where we are right now is Iran's -- the core of Iranian deterrence, in my view, and this is not shared by everyone, but in my view is not the threat of the nuclear program. It is instead their ballistic missiles, their drones and their land attack cruise missiles, which over the last 10 years, they have built staggering numbers of.

They've starved their population to do that. They've actually functionally placed a higher priority and spending for that than on the nuclear program. So over the weekend, the weakness of that deterrence was laid bare. So the Iranians are in a bad place today. They need to recalculate the basic concept of their defense.

On the other hand, Israel is in a pretty good place. They fought a defensive battle. They won the defensive battle. I will tell you by temperament and personality, they and many other people don't like to win defensive battles. Sometimes it's hard to walk away from that.

But, again, to take the long term, the strategic view today, Israel is in a much better place in regards to deterrence than Iran is. Iran is in a very dangerous place.


And the highest priority for Iranian decision makers is now and has always been preservation of the theocratic regime. And they have to view that now as a little shaken by what happened because the principle tool they use to cow and threaten their neighbors, not just Israel, but also the Gulf States and other nations has now been exposed.

The other fact that bears on the problem is everyone else in the region now knows and understands how to do air defense. Now, Israel has some advantages geographic, a great distance from, you know, from Iran, and we shouldn't rule, you know, rule out the importance of that.

But a lot of other nations in the region are now increasingly interested in a program that's been going on for some time, which is increased air and missile defense in the region, all targeted against the principal threat, which is Iran.

COOPER: Retired General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., thank you so much.

Also, I apologize. I think I mispronounced the title of your book. I want to show it again. It is "The Melting Point, High Command and War In The 21st Century". It comes out in June. We'd love to talk to you about it when it comes out. Thank you.

Coming up next, Washington, where Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene now has an ally in her effort to boost House Speaker Mike Johnson. And the former president has just weighed in on whether he'll help Johnson keep his job.



COOPER: On Capitol Hill tonight, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has won the support of another Republican lawmaker for her motion to vacate the speakership of Mike Johnson. He's, of course, the new congressional leader of her party after it took three weeks of chaos to elect him after the ouster of now former Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

So possibly, here we go again. We'll have more on that right now from CNN's Manu Raju.


REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), KENTUCKY: I asked him to resign.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Republican Congressman Thomas Massie announcing today he would support Congressman Marjorie Taylor Greene's resolution to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, accusing him of betraying the conservative cause. Johnson firing back.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I am not resigning. It does not help the House Republicans advance or agenda.

RAJU (voice-over): All in the aftermath of a series of deals Johnson cut with Democrats, including to keep the government open, reauthorize a key surveillance law, and now brushing aside warnings from his right flank as he seeks to advance billions in aid to Ukraine. And now, Congressman Greene is on the attack.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R), GEORGIA: There are others behind Massie as well.

RAJU (voice-over): Johnson's defenders warning Greene and Massie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a very bad idea.

REP. MARCUS MOLINARO (R), NEW YORK: The concept of another motion to vacate is an utter waste of time.

REP. CARLOS GIMENEZ (R), FLORIDA: I think it would be horrible. I think it would be horrible for our conference. I think it's horrible for the country, too.

RAJU (voice-over): Johnson soon can only afford to lose one GOP vote along party lines, meaning he would almost certainly need Democrats to save him.

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: I think it's unlikely I would support vacating it. We'll see. I mean, the big thing is I want to vote on Ukraine.

RAJU (voice-over): The GOP revolt comes as Johnson announced his long awaited plan to advance a foreign aid package, after sidelining the Senate's $95 billion plan for more than two months. Johnson's new plan? Split up Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel aid into separate bills, and add to it other policy measures, such as a potential ban on TikTok.

But through an arcane procedural move, the House could end up sending those bills to the Senate in one big package. Angering hardliners who don't want to spend a dime more on aid to Ukraine.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I'm not a big fan of this, you know. Well, I like the individual votes. Not a big fan of putting them all back together.

RAJU: Does it make sense to you to split all these up and cobble it all together?

REP. GARRET GRAVES (R), LOUISIANA: In a word? No. What are Republicans getting out of this?

RAJU (voice-over): Plus anger on the right, since the plan won't include border security measures the speaker previously demanded.

REP. CHIP ROY (R), TEXAS: The fact is not having the border in this plan is a wholly unacceptable. It's just, it's not acceptable.

RAJU (voice-over): Yet, despite these words from Donald Trump last week in Mar-a-Lago --

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand with the Speaker. RAJU (voice-over): -- Greene says she still wants Johnson out.

RAJU: His comments on Friday didn't change your approach.

GREENE: No, no. And as a matter of fact, there's more people that are probably going to be angry from whatever happens this week.


COOPER: And Manu joins me now. So, Speaker Johnson was just at Mar-a- Lago, as we saw in your piece last week. Trump backed him. Trump was asked about Johnson today. What did he say?

RAJU (on-camera): Yes, his comments were a little bit different, a little bit noncommittal. In fact, he was asked if he would protect Mike Johnson. He said, quote, "We'll see what happens with that." He did go on to say that he thinks he's a very good person.

Now, Anderson, there are so many questions in the Capitol right now about whether Mike Johnson could survive in the long term as Speaker of the House, especially if Democrats prop him up. If that is the case, he would be believed to be a, you know, very weakened position.

There's already some expectation that even if he does survive as speaker to the end of this Congress, that could certainly change at the beginning of next Congress. And there could be a leadership fight to succeed him. There's already speculation and some maneuvering behind the scenes over some of his top lieutenants who could potentially move and run in any situation where there is a leadership vacuum.

So just another sign of the instability in the GOP ranks six months after the ouster of Kevin McCarthy. Anderson?

COOPER: Manu Raju, thank you very much.

Coming up next, Senator Bob Menendez's possible new legal strategy in his upcoming trial and bribery allegations, namely blaming his wife, ahead.



COOPER: A strange turn in the upcoming trial of New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, especially for the co-defendant he's married to. Newly unsealed portions of a court document filed by his legal team suggest the embattled senator may defend himself by blaming his wife.

The couple and two other individuals face numerous criminal charges related to an alleged years long bribery scheme involving the governments of Egypt and Qatar. The new revelation comes after a federal judge granted NBC News' request to unseal two sentences in the filing about why Senator Menendez believes a joint trial would hurt his chances at trial. The filing states that if asked to testify, the senator, quote, "may inculpate," unquote, his wife. Meaning, he may accuse her. The reason, he says, is because she, quote, "withheld information from Senator Menendez or otherwise led him to believe that nothing unlawful was taking place," end quote.

He also says that if there is a joint trial and he chooses not to testify against his wife, that would force him to hold back testimony that would exonerate him. Now, the senator has denied wrongdoing, pled not guilty to all charges. The trial is scheduled to begin next month.

The news continues. The Source starts now. See you tomorrow.