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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Jury Seated in Historic Trump Hush Money Criminal Trial; Tension Inside House GOP Exposed On House Floor As Republicans Divided On Foreign Aid Votes, Procedure To Oust Speaker; More Than A Dozen Members Of Kennedy Clan Endorse Biden. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 18, 2024 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "OUTFRONT": All right, thanks so much, and all of you, in that conversation. We are now back outside from that interview and thanks so much to all of you for being with us for this hour and our programming for that interview, and also, of course, for Gov. Ventura (ph) and to our panel.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us. Let's hand it off now to AC360 with Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the Trump trial moves forward with the jury chosen and opening statements coming soon. What we're learning about the seven men and five women who will sit in judgment of the former president.

Also tonight, the stakes could not be higher nor the politics more petty as House Republicans fight amongst themselves and threaten again to oust their own speaker.

And the Kennedy factor, as Robert Kennedy Jr. gets on more presidential ballots and his best-known relatives endorse Joe Biden.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

The first criminal trial ever of a former president now has a jury. It's a big achievement, considering the day began with the dismissal of two of the seven members selected earlier this week. Then this afternoon, with Trump looking on, seven more jurors were quickly selected, plus one alternate. Meaning that if the rest of the alternates are chosen tomorrow, opening statements could begin Monday.

Former president spoke to reporters today reading headlines from a stack of stories he was holding.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are all stories. This is over the last few days. From legal experts, this is a Wall Street Journal editorial. But all of these are stories from legal experts saying how this is not a case. The case is ridiculous. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Well, that, of course, will be for the jury of seven men and five women to decide. CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the courthouse for us in Lower Manhattan. So what was the scene like in court today?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, this all happened so quickly. In the final half hour of the day, as the clock was ticking toward 4:30, the prosecutors used their four remaining strikes, and Trump's legal team used their four remaining strikes. And before we knew it, there was a jury of 12 seated and one of several alternates, the first one that's been seated to hear this historic first trial of a former president.


SCANNELL (voice-over): "We have our jury," that from Judge Juan Merchan late today.


TRUMP: The whole world is watching this hoax. You got a DA that's out of control. You have a judge that's highly conflicted. The whole thing is a mess.


SCANNELL (voice-over): Trump aired frustrations after the full jury and one alternate was picked, including a female physical therapist, a woman who works for a multinational apparel company, a man who works for an e-commerce company, a retired male wealth manager, and a female speech therapist.

This followed a dramatic start to jury selection on Thursday, with Judge Juan Merchan scolding press for reporting some information contained in the juror questionnaire, including specific employers that could potentially identify jurors. This after a female oncology nurse was excused after saying aspects of her identity were made public, saying she could no longer be impartial.

She tells the judge, "Yesterday alone, I had friends, colleagues and family push things to my phone questioning my identity as a juror. I don't believe at this point that I can be fair and unbiased."

The second juror dismissed is an older man from Puerto Rico, who says he finds Trump fascinating and mysterious. Computers questioned if his answer about whether he had ever been accused of a crime was accurate. They identified someone with the same name who was arrested in the 1990s for tearing down political posters. The exact reason for this juror's dismissal, though, is not known.

Nearly 100 new prospective jurors came through the courtroom for questioning. At least half were immediately sent home for saying they could not be impartial. At the defendant's table, Trump appeared engrossed with those left in the jury box, tilting his head, leaning way back in his chair and craning his neck to get a good view of each juror as they spoke.


TRUMP: And I'm sitting here for days now, from morning till night, in that freezing room, freezing. Everybody was freezing in there.


SCANNELL (voice-over): He even made a comment to reporters about it in the courtroom during a break, asking, "Is it cold enough?" Trump's attorney asked if they could warm up the room, and while the judge agreed it was chilly, he said he'd rather be a little cold than sweat. Both sides used their time to probe potential jurors, and many responded candidly.

One juror said she didn't like Trump's persona and explained further, "He just seems very selfish and self-serving, so I don't really appreciate that in a public servant. So I don't know him as a person so I don't know how he is in terms of his integrity. It's just not my cup of tea."

Trump's attorney, Susan Necheles, said it sounds like you don't like him and the juror agreed. She made it onto the jury.

Another potential juror, who is a business owner, told Necheles that he's impressed with Trump, saying, "I mean he was our president. That's pretty amazing. He's a businessman in New York. He's forged his way."


He did not make it onto the jury.


COOPER: Kara, what did the judge say about how much identifying information to expect about the jurors going forward?

SCANNELL (on camera): Yes, so after that first juror raised the concern, and the judge said he feared we lost a good juror in the case, he said he - that the media would be continued to be allowed to report on the information that the jurors discussed in the court. But he said that we could no longer report on where the jurors work, their employer, because that could potentially help identify them.

But he did say that it was fair to report any other descriptions that they gave in their answers, just not physical descriptions of them, to try to eliminate any possibility that someone could figure out who they are. Anderson?

COOPER: Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

With me here is jury consultant, Jill Huntley Taylor, also former federal prosecutors Jeffrey Toobin and Jennifer Rodgers.

Jeff, I mean, are you surprised that we have a jury? JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This was a very smooth

process. I thought that they would find a jury - I - this was even faster than I expected. This was less than three days of voir dire. Voir dire is the process of picking a jury.

And this seems like a reasonable cross-section of New York. It's a pretty upscale jury. You have two lawyers. You have an investment banker, but that's not uncommon in a Manhattan jury and I think he's going to get a fair trial.

COOPER: Jennifer, what do you think?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I agree. It is an interesting jury, as Jeff was saying. It's very professional. I mean, usually for jury service, you see a lot of retired people and you see a lot of government employees. This jury doesn't have that. I mean, this is a highly educated jury.

And I think that that is very different from Trump's base, right? His base is high school educated white men, by and large. So I think the prosecutors, even though some people say there are two lawyers on the jury, sometimes prosecutors don't want lawyers. But these two lawyers, there's a civil litigator and a corporate lawyer, they're not criminal lawyers.

So I think prosecutors like people who are analytical, can understand evidence. This is a financial documents case. You do want people with a little bit of sophistication.

COOPER: Jill, it's interesting, you hear - there was one juror who said - she sounded like she didn't like Trump, she's on the jury.

JILL HUNTLEY TAYLOR, JURY CONSULTANT: Yes, and that happens all the time. I would say that in most cases, both sides are going to have jurors that they don't love, that maybe said something that they don't like and that's true here. And I'm sure that both sides exercised all the peremptory challenges, so there were 10 people that they would prefer not to have had on the jury and there are probably still some there that - for each of them that they don't love.

COOPER: Is it unusual, Jill, that to have two seaters - two jurors removed in --

TAYLOR: I mean, that is unusual. It's not unusual for jurors to be removed during the process or down the line, that's why there are alternates there. I mean, they're going to be six alternates and it won't be surprising if there's additional jurors who go for some reason, maybe sickness or some other reason.

I think the specific reasons that these jurors went and how early they went and both of them going today, I think that's a little unusual.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The one that really struck me is the woman, the nurse, who was worried about her identity being disclosed. Given the passions around this case, the risk of these jurors being identified by someone in public - the press. The press is very big, including a lot of irresponsible people, it won't be that difficult to identify these people individually.

And I think Judge Merchan is very concerned that more jurors are going to be identified by name and they may freak out and bolt from the case.

COOPER: It is remarkable, though, when you listen to what the jurors said, how they answered the questions, the number of people who kind of just haven't been following stuff, don't follow stuff all that closely. I mean, we in the news business think everybody's paying close attention to the minutiae of news every day.

RODGERS: Yes, it's amazing, I think, for us to - who are so steeped in everyday events, right, to think about these people who just live their lives and they don't hang on everything that's happening with the former president, his four criminal cases. I mean, the oncology nurse who was ...

COOPER: It actually sounds quite lovely.

RODGERS: It is. She didn't even know that he had three other criminal cases pending. I mean, but these are a good cross-section of people to decide this case for that very reason.

COOPER: Jeff, how risky is it for the former president to go in front of the cameras every day and complain like this?

TOOBIN: I don't think it's that risky. This has been his strategy from the beginning. I mean, he hasn't had to go to all these court proceedings in the four cases against him, but he goes and protests that he's being railroaded, that it's a - that - this is an unfair - all unfair prosecutions.

This is how he's running for president. He's using this case as well. I think he's doing pretty well in the polls. That's about his presidential campaign. That's not really about this jury selection.

COOPER: Jennifer, the former president posted on a social media site yesterday about a Fox host saying they're catching undercover liberal activists lying to the judge in order to get on the Trump jury.


Jeff had made the argument the last night that it's one thing to trash Michael Cohen or a public figure, but to go after a juror like this, does it matter that Trump is quoting someone else, I mean, in terms of a potential effect on a gag order?

RODGERS: No, no, he's not supposed to repost things either that do what he's prohibited from doing, which includes intimidating and talking about the jurors. So he has violated this partial gag order multiple times with comments about witnesses and with this comment about jurors. And next week, next Tuesday, the judge is holding a hearing to figure out what he's going to do about it and that's really the big question here.

TOOBIN: I'm sorry for interrupting. I'm sorry that the judge is waiting till Tuesday to do this.

COOPER: Do you think he should do it sooner?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, because he's - Trump is violating this gag order every day. And the thing about the jury is so dangerous because those people are the ones most worried about publicity and most worried that someone's going to come after them. The fact that he's letting this linger and let Trump continue on social media on this issue for another four days is dangerous to the process.

COOPER: Jill, do you think it likely that maybe other jurors, as sort of the reality starts to sink in of what they have - are going to be seated for, that they might try to get dismissed?

TAYLOR: I mean, I think that's a fair possibility because a lot of the jurors are paying attention. They already know that - they already know, once they walk into the room, they know that it's Trump. They know that - they know that there have been threats against various people, judges and people who've testified and so they know that walking in the door.

But it sounded like the oncology nurse, it did kind of sink in once she left and started to see things being posted. Well, it also sounded like relatives of her or friends of her reaching out to her saying, are you - like identified her.

TOOBIN: Right. And that - and there's nothing the court can do about that. It's just that with social media and it's so easy for a name of a juror to go viral very quickly that I'm just worried that's going to happen. And I'm sure the judge is worried about it.

But once it's done, there's not much you can do. That's why I think he's going to have six alternates, which is a lot.

COOPER: And once they're seated and the trial begins, go - two weeks in, if they - if a juror gets revealed and they're upset, is there anything they can do about it?

TOOBIN: Nothing. All you can do is replace them with an alternate, but you can't come up with more alternates and you need 12.

RODGERS: If you lose your alternates, it's over. Yes.


RODGERS: It's a mistrial.

COOPER: Well, it would be a mistrial. Wow, okay.

Jennifer Rodgers, thank you so much. Jeff Toobin as well, Jill Huntley Taylor, thank you. Appreciate it.

More now on how the trial judge is conducting proceedings so far and the tempo he seems to be setting for it all. For that, we're joined by John E. Jones III, the third former chief judge for the U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania. Judge Jones, how do you think Judge Merchan is handling the trial so

far? And the fact that the jury, aside from seven more alternates, has already - several more alternates have already been seated.

JOHN E. JONES III, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. MIDDLE DISTRICT COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA: I think he's doing a good job, Anderson. These are hard cases at the beginning because the lawyers tend to spar and there's a lot of kind of combat at the beginning and lawyers tend to be too clinical at times in what they do in jury selection.

And then, after a while, it sort of collapses of its own weight. You may have seen that today. And I have to say, if they get the whole jury picked tomorrow, then he's done a great job getting it done this week.

COOPER: The two jurors were dismissed today, as we talked about that one, because of concerns for identity had figured out. The judge asked the media to refrain from describing jurors by physical descriptions, not disclose their current and past employers. Do - what happens - do you worry that details will leak out? I mean, as Jeff was saying, it is very easy for some unscrupulous person to put information out there.

JONES: Inevitably, I'm afraid that, as Jeff Toobin said, things will leak out and there's not much you can do about that other than pick alternate jurors. I mean, it's going to frighten jurors who are on this panel if things start to bubble up about them, given the tenor of the times, the threats, the passions, that are evoked in this election.

It could very well happen and I understand why the judge excused, in particular, the juror who felt that she was outed today. I think the judge is trying to thread the needle in terms of his admonitions and orders to the media. Not everybody loves that, but I think he's doing the best he can. Largely, I think the media's been responsible.

COOPER: The prosecution's saying they're not going to turn over their witness list to the defense. It doesn't seem like the judge is going to force them to. Does that surprise - is that appropriate?

JONES: Well, there's a distinction there, Anderson, because they've turned the witness list over.


They have to do that, right? What I understand they're doing is saying, we're not going to give you the order of witnesses ...


JONES: ... which would start a tweet storm at the beginning of the trial. I heard Jeff say that the judge should have admonished Trump sooner. It's a balance. He's trying to get the jury picked, and he doesn't want to have a sideshow. But if they announce the witnesses for Monday morning, you can bet that there's a high potential that over the weekend there could be tweets and other - not just from Trump, but from allies about particular witnesses. And I think the judge is letting the prosecution avoid walking into that sort of nightmare scenario.

COOPER: Do you think the former president has already violated the gag order?

JONES: It's interesting. As your panel just said, what he's doing is publishing what other people say. Technically, yes. I think he is violating the gag order when he does it. He's going to claim that he's not. He's entitled to his due process.

I think what's going to happen on Tuesday, Anderson, is they're going to convene something, that the judge is going to tie that up and say, look, there's no distinction between you posting and you posting yourself, your own ideas, and you posting what someone else said and you're going to have to stop.

So he's probably going to admonish him. I doubt that he's going to hold him in contempt. But he's going to draw the lines even in a clear way so that the former president understands exactly what he can and can't do. We'll see where he goes from there.

COOPER: Judge Jones, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the former president's legal baggage, including the testimony that some believe lost him a civil trial and how prosecutors plan to bring that up if he takes the stand this time.

And later with House Speaker Mike Johnson saying he wants to do the right thing on badly needed military aid to Ukraine. I'm going to give you a status report on the insurgency that some of his own members are waging against him over it.



COOPER: With the jury now chosen, it remains unclear whether the former president will actually do what he said he would and testify in his New York criminal trial. However, we do know what the prosecution plans to do if he does. They said so in a court filing yesterday outlining their plan to highlight his past legal run-ins to try to discredit him with the jury. Among them, what they claim is false testimony he gave in his recent civil fraud trial. Randi Kaye has more on that.



TRUMP: This judge is a lunatic and if you've ever watched him, and the Attorney General may be worse, may be worse. You ever watch her? "I will get Donald Trump."

(END VIDEO CLIP) RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's just one of many

comments in many lawsuits that may come back to haunt Donald Trump. He said it in February as his civil fraud trial in New York City came to a close. In that case, Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump and his company liable for fraud by inflating the values of his assets to get better loan rates. Trump was ordered to pay $355 million in fines.

Engoron also fined Trump twice for violating a gag order in the case.


TRUMP: Judge Engoron has done a terrible disservice to the state of New York. Judge Engoron is a disgrace to this country and this should not be allowed to happen.


KAYE (voice-over): And what about the E. Jean Carroll case? In May 2023, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-'90s and then defamed her when he denied the allegations and disparaged her. The jury awarded her $5 million in damages.


TRUMP: She's not my type. It's not politically correct to say it, and I know that, but I'll say it anyway.


KAYE (voice-over): Then in January this year, a jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million in damages after a judge found Trump liable for defamation for comments he made about Carroll in 2019. As the trial kicked off, Trump amplified his denials.


TRUMP: I have no idea who she was and nor could I care less. It's a rigged deal. It's a made-up, fabricated story.


KAYE (voice-over): On the day of the verdict, he posted this video.


TRUMP: It's a political witch hunt. The whole thing is a scam and it's a shame, and it's a disgrace to our country.


KAYE (voice-over): If he takes the stand, Trump may also have to answer for other legal entanglements, including his failed lawsuit against Hillary Clinton. Trump sued Clinton as well as others in March 2022, accusing them of conspiring to undermine his 2016 presidential campaign by tying him to Russia. In 2017, he'd tweeted: "There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton

and now the facts are pouring out." The suit was dismissed in September 2022 for being frivolous and in bad faith. A federal judge found Trump and his attorney liable for nearly $1 million in sanctions. Trump has filed an appeal.

Prosecutors may also question Trump about the December 2022 criminal tax fraud conviction of Trump's company, a case also tried before Judge Juan Merchan. In that case, two Trump organization entities were found guilty of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records, all part of a scheme to defraud tax authorities.

Donald Trump and his family were not charged. Months after the conviction, Trump was still ranting.


TRUMP: I have a Trump-hating judge with a Trump-hating wife and family.


KAYE (voice-over): There's also the 2018 lawsuit Trump settled, which resulted in the dissolution of the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The New York State Attorney General accused the charity of using the foundation's money to boost Trump's campaign. IRS non-profit rules prohibit making expenditures to influence the outcome of an election.


The judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to settle the case. In a statement after that, Trump insisted: "Every penny of the $19 million raised went to great charitable causes."

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


COOPER: So to unpack there joining us now is CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig.

So should - I mean, what do you make, first of all, the prosecution's request to introduce evidence from past trials against the former president?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So this is a warning shot. It is a legally mandated filing the prosecutors have to put in. And what they're essentially telling Donald Trump, as they would with any defendant, is if you take the stand in this case, of course, we will cross-examine you aggressively on your guilt in this case. But also, we're going to cross-examine you about these other bad acts that you were involved in. And the test of what they're going to be allowed to ask or not ask, according to the judge, is whether those acts go to Donald Trump's truthfulness.

It's not a question of, well, he's just a horrible guy. It's a question of, has he done things in the past that show that he's a liar.

COOPER: So if there are instances where he's lied under oath or lied in a deposition, those would be things they could try to highlight.

HONIG: Exactly, so I'll give you examples from the filing. The civil fraud case about overinflation of assets, there was a finding there by the judge that Donald Trump intentionally overinflated his assets. That goes to his honesty. That's an act of untruthfulness.

By contrast, I think it's actually a trickier argument when you're talking about the sexual assault of E. Jean Carroll. Now, that's a horrific act, but the question is, does that go to his truthfulness or not. And I think the judge is likely to keep that part out of it. Again, all of this is if Donald Trump elects to take the stand.

COOPER: But bringing in evidence from that - from the E. Jean Carroll case, that would be used to show - to claim that the former president was lying.

HONIG: Right. So the way they could try to get the E. Jean Carroll piece in is, Donald Trump was also found liable for defamation, which requires, in order to defame someone, you have to knowingly tell a falsehood about them. So that would be the argument.

COOPER: I mean, do you think there's a world where the defense puts Donald Trump on the stand?

HONIG: I do not, and there's a couple reasons. First of all, if you just went based on movies and TV, every defendant takes the stand, right? It's great drama. It happens quite infrequently in real life. I think it only happened in one case I ever tried. It's very rare, because it's so risky.

And Donald Trump, he did take the stand, as Randi pointed out in her piece, in two of the civil cases. But it's apples and oranges. Because first of all, the way he took the stand was this very narrow, sort of carved-out bit of questioning. He was on the stand and off in a matter of minutes.

If he takes the stand in this case, it's on. Everything's in play. The prosecution can keep him on the stand on cross-examination for hours and hours and hours. And if a defendant takes the stand and you slip up, if you get caught in a contradiction, if you get caught in a lie, it's over.

COOPER: But there's also - I mean, there's what lawyers will tell a defendant to do and that's what ...


COOPER: ... a defendant - I mean, Donald Trump believes he's probably a good witness on the stand, even though he does not seem to appear to be very effective in depositions that have been released.

HONIG: It's a really important point. Lawyers cannot force their clients to do or not anything. We sometimes say, hey, all I can do is advice. It's ultimately up to him to decide. And if Donald Trump does choose to take the stand against his attorney's recommendation, then the judge may make a record of that, because what he doesn't want to happen is for Donald Trump to get convicted and then say, well, my lawyer gave me ineffective assistance. My lawyer gave me constitutionally ineffective lawyering by letting me take the stand.

You make a record, hey, lawyer said don't do it, but I'm choosing to do it anyway.

COOPER: It's really interesting how quickly once - basically both sides have kind of exhausted their challenges to strike various potential jurors. How quickly the judge moved forward and picked jurors.

HONIG: It's a good indicator to me if we're thinking about how is this trial going to move. And I credit that largely to the judge. He ran this process efficiently by all indications fairly. He's kept it from becoming too much of a circus thus far. And I will say the lawyers on both sides have not been obstructionists.

And the fact that we got a jury picked here, what really amounts to about two and half court days, they'll finish picking the last few alternates tomorrow, I think it's a good sign for the speed with which we can get this trial in.

COOPER: How many alternates total do they want?

HONIG: So they have one so far. The law says you can have up to six. I think in this case I would want all six, because, look, we lost two seated jurors today. Now, it gets harder legally. Once the jury's sworn in, it gets much harder for a judge to release a juror. But jurors get sick. Jurors get freaked out. Some of them could be, you know, spooked by a social media post. So I - they're going to need all six.

COOPER: So if the - if jurors who are actually seated start to freak out, as you say, and just try to get off, those alternates would fill in. And if the alternates are exhausted to an earlier point that Jennifer made, it would be a mistrial?

HONIG: Yes, then you got a problem. There actually is some law that you can finish out a trial with 11 jurors. That's happened before. The judge has a little bit of discretion here. I don't think we're going to cycle through all six alternates.


I mean, that would be quite extreme. But I would bet we're going to lose one or two along the way, whether someone gets COVID, you know, someone see something on the news that they're not supposed to see. Jurors do drop out once in a while.

COOPER: All right. Elie Honig, thanks so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

House Speaker Mike Johnson today cornered both literally and figuratively by right members, far-right members of his conference. The reason why in the split inside the GOP ahead.


COOPER: Tense moments on the House floor today with far-right Republicans surrounding and essentially pinning their party speaker, Mike Johnson, to the back wall. That's according to our Capitol Hill reporter, Annie Grayer. All because of a threat from Johnson to use the already contentious foreign aid votes expected this weekend with tens of billions of dollars marked for Ukraine as a vehicle to raise the number of votes needed to throw him out as speaker.


Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, Congressman Matt Gaetz, and House Freedom Caucus members are against the aid. Hours ago, Johnson made his decision on whether he'll change the procedure for removing a House Speaker.

Manu Raju has that and more on the bruising fight inside the Republican Party.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hard right Republicans have driven out two speakers, and stymied the GOP leadership's agenda. Now, Speaker Mike Johnson is pushing back.

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R), NEW YORK: This is a moment for moral clarity for everyone. The Speaker is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

RAJU (voice-over): As he relies on Democrats to pass a $95 billion aid package by Saturday, including roughly $61 billion to help Ukraine battle Russia. Today, Johnson ruled out making it harder to seek a vote for his ouster. Any one member can still call for such a vote. Even as angry Swing District Republicans say it is time to marginalize the far-right.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): I think we got to do something that protects us against five to 10 people.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): There needs to start being repercussions for those who completely alienate the will of that conference.

RAJU (voice-over): The infighting playing out on the House floor with Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden, daring hardliners to seek a vote to boot Johnson and calling Congressman Matt Gaetz tubby. Gaetz's response?

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: The only thing I gleaned from it is that Mr. Van Orden is not a particularly intelligent individual. RAJU (voice-over): Gaetz, who opposes ousting Johnson, confronted the Speaker over his handling of the foreign aid bill.

RAJU: You spoke to the Speaker, what was that conversation like?

GAETZ: Tense.

RAJU: Why?

GAETZ: Because we don't want to pass this bill.

RAJU: Do you have confidence in the Speaker right now?

GAETZ: It's diminishing.

RAJU (voice-over): As Johnson weighed changing House rules to make it harder to remove him, outrage built on the right.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): And this is the type of betrayal that Republican voters are absolutely fed up with.

RAJU (voice-over): All as he faces heat after deciding to advance the foreign aid bill without attaching border security provisions to it, despite repeatedly making this vow.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): If President Biden wants a supplemental spending bill focused on national security, it better begin by defending America's national security.

RAJU (voice-over): But facing just a two vote majority in the House, Johnson now recognizing the votes simply are not there.

JOHNSON: I literally don't have the numbers. I don't have a way to merge it together.

RAJU (voice-over): That answer not satisfying many Republicans.

REP. ELI CRANE (R-AZ): We have an integrity problem when we tell the American people that the border is the hill to die on.

REP. NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS (R-NY): I don't believe that the Speaker couldn't extract at least something, and so I think it's a missed opportunity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have confidence in the Speaker, unfortunately.

RAJU (voice-over): Behind closed doors today, Democratic leaders urged their members to keep their powder dry and not to commit to saving Johnson.

RAJU: Why aren't Democrats taking a position on whether to save Mike Johnson's job?

REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D-MA): We're waiting to see if he is going to allow us to save our global security and make sure that America has its security.


COOPER: And Manu joins us now from the Capitol. So is there any sense of how many Republican votes there could be to oust Speaker Johnson if he moves forward with this foreign aid bill?

RAJU (on-camera): It's a little unclear at the moment, Anderson. I've asked that question to Marjorie Taylor Greene herself. She continues to say that she is getting more support, but really only publicly, there have been two members, her and Thomas Massie.

There are a number of others on the hard right who I've asked, will you support this motion to oust Kevin McCarthy if it comes up? They simply will not go that far. Like Congressman Chip Roy for one, Eric Burlison, another one is Warren Davidson among those.

So there could be some Republicans massively will be more than the eight who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy, but that's still unclear. And it's also unclear, Anderson, how many Democrats will come to Mike Johnson's defense behind closed doors today.

The message from the Democratic leaders is essentially keep your powder dry because they thought it could be -- they think that could extract more concessions from Johnson and potentially then after they get some more concessions, we can come to Johnson's defense. So some of that has to play out here.

But at the moment, there is a belief that Democrats will ultimately come to Johnson's defense after he move forward with this big aid package, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Manu Raju, thank you.

Perspective now from someone you just saw in Manu's report, New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, good to have you on. Do you believe this foreign aid bill will pass in the next few days? And if so, do you think Speaker Johnson will be speaker for much longer?

LAWLER: Yes, the foreign aid bill will pass, it must pass. The United States has a obligation as leader of the free world to support our allies at this most critical juncture. And to make it clear to our adversaries that we will not tolerate their actions and what they have done to undermine and destabilize the free world.

This is not about partisan politics. This is about the future of the world and America's role in it. And I think we have to focus on the task at hand.


Obviously, I understand the frustration of some of my colleagues. I agree about the need for border security. It's why I have voted for H.R. 2 last year. It's why I voted for a continuing resolution that had H.R. 2. Which I would remind folks, many of the people complaining right now voted against that continuing resolution prior to vacating Speaker McCarthy.

So, you know, some of these folks have nobody to blame but themselves for why Speaker Johnson's hand in negotiations has been weakened. It's their actions that have done that. I look at this very simply. In October, the House was thrown into chaos by Matt Gaetz and seven useful idiots that teamed up with him within the Republican conference and 208 Democrats.

And at this moment, when you see what happened in the aftermath of vacating the chair and Israel attacked in a terrorist attack a week later, to do that again would be detrimental to the country and global security. And I think Democrats who are seemingly trying to hold out for some negotiation really should look at this from the standpoint of the institution.

Especially when we talk about protecting democracies --


LAWLER: -- let's start with our own. Undermining the institution, no matter how much it may politically advantage one party is destructive. And so I think it's incumbent on everybody, Republicans and Democrats, to say we're not going to do this again.

COOPER: Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene posted saying, quote, "The real damage happening to our conference and our country is that our elected Republican Speaker is supporting Biden and the Democrats agenda and not fighting for our Republican agenda. Stop making excuses and blaming others."

I know, you know, Republicans don't like to give her oxygen, but are you -- I mean, and the GOP conference at large, I mean, are you fed up with her?

LAWLER: Look, this is the agenda of Ronald Reagan. Peace through strength. America has a role in the world to play. And it is to lead the free world, it is to support democracies around the globe, and it is to take on those that would seek to undermine and destabilize the free world.

China, Russia, and Iran are not our friends. They're not our allies. And they are doing everything they can to destabilize the globe. When you look at Iran, Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terror. They fund Hamas, 93 percent of their budget.

You know where they get the money, Anderson? China. China purchases Iranian petroleum. 80 percent of Iran's oil sales are purchased by China. $88 billion in increased revenue since Joe Biden took office. My bill, the SHIP Act and the Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act are in this supplemental because both of them are going to target, they're going to target Iranian petroleum, which is funding terrorism.

So when people say this is Joe Biden's agenda, no, this is holding the Biden administration accountable because they have allowed increased Iranian oil sales, which is funding terrorism in the Middle East. COOPER: Why is it so many on the far-right seem to be fine with Vladimir Putin winning in Ukraine, or at least not wanting any involvement by the U.S. in terms of sending funds?

LAWLER: Look, a lot of people have legitimate concerns about the path forward in Ukraine, and we have asked the administration time and again for answers on how they are going to define success in Ukraine, what is the end game in Ukraine and how we are going to prevent Vladimir Putin from doing this on a continuing basis.

And then there are some people who have bought into some of the propaganda coming out of Russia. They say, oh, Ukraine is corrupt. Well, no kidding. When you have Russian influence in Ukraine, in Moldova, in some of these former Soviet satellite countries, for 30 years in the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, yes, there's going to be corruption.

But our job as the United States is to help lead the free world and get our allies to a place where they are more in line with Western Europe than Russia. And to allow Ukraine to fall will mean that Moldova and other countries in Eastern Europe will fall with it.


LAWLER: And that is not good for the United States. That is not good for the world. When you -- as I said repeatedly, you have a relationship, an unholy alliance between China, Russia, and Iran. I think everyone agrees China is a threat. I think everyone agrees Iran is a threat.


Russia is a threat. They are engaged in this alliance, and the United States must stand firm and resolute in this moment. As I've said many times, this is not a moment to be Neville Chamberlain. This is a moment to be Winston Churchill. And that is the objective from my vantage point.

That is why it is so critical that we do the right thing --


LAWLER: -- the Speaker is doing the right thing in this moment, Anderson. And it is incumbent on the institution, Republicans and Democrats, to rally behind him and make sure that we get this bill across the finish line.

COOPER: Congressman Mike Lawler, thank you. Appreciate it.

Coming up --

LAWLER: Thank you.

COOPER: -- as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. secures a spot on the ballot in Michigan, President Biden today gets a very public endorsement from the Kennedy clan. Details next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: With Robert F. Kennedy Jr. securing ballot access and another key battleground state today, President Biden took time during the end of his three-day swing through Pennsylvania for an endorsement from many of Kennedy's relatives.

Arlette Saenz has that.



ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Kennedy family coming out in full force, not for one of their own, but for President Joe Biden.

KERRY KENNEDY, SISTER OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: We want to make crystal clear are feeling that the best way forward for America is to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to four more years.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What an incredible honor to have the support of the Kennedy family.

SAENZ (voice-over): Biden standing with six of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. siblings in Philadelphia, sending a clear message about the 2024 race without mentioning their brother by name.

K. KENNEDY: We are here because we feel obliged to do all that we can. We cannot stand aside in this election no American can stand aside. We must vote. In 2024, there are only two candidates with any chance of winning the presidency.

SAENZ (voice-over): The show of force comes one year after Kennedy announced a Democratic bid for the White House.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

SAENZ (voice-over): Before switching paths last fall here in Philadelphia.

R. KENNEDY: I'm here to declare myself an independent candidate.

SAENZ (voice-over): That third party run now of direct concern to his family and many top Democrats who worry Kennedy could siphon off votes from Biden in November.

RORY KENNEDY, SISTER OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: And I do worry that Bobby just taking some percentage of votes from Biden could shift the election and lead to Trump's election.

JOE KENNEDY III, NEPHEW OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.: Any vote that is not for Joe Biden is likely to boost the candidacy of Donald Trump.

SAENZ (voice-over): At times, the family's angst over Kennedy's campaign has spilled into public view.

JACK SCHLOSSBERG, GRANDSON OF JOHN F. KENNEDY: I've listened to him. I know him. I have no idea why anyone thinks he should be president. What I do know is his candidacy is an embarrassment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy.

SAENZ (voice-over): Many family members frustrated after this Super Bowl ad from a pro-Kennedy Super PAC used a song from John F. Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign, but Kennedy trying to downplay the family tension.

R. KENNEDY: We could disagree on issues, and we could disagree with passion and information, but we still love each other.

SAENZ (voice-over): With a second term on the line, Biden drawing the family close, inviting Maria Shriver to the State of the Union, and hosting the Kennedy clan on St. Patrick's Day, writing, quote, "From one proud Irish family to another, it was good to have you all back at the White House."

J. KENNEDY III: We're going to win, and we get to do it with President Joe Biden. Mr. President.


SAENZ (on-camera): Now, Kennedy's campaign announced it gained ballot access in the critical battleground state of Michigan, really raising the possibility that Kennedy could impact this race come November. His campaign has also secured ballot access in Utah, and it says that it's collected enough signatures to get on the ballot in some battleground states like Nevada and North Carolina.

But the fact that Kennedy has gotten on the ballot in Michigan really speaks to the concern that Democrats and the Kennedy family themselves have about the potential that he could take votes away from Biden in November. And Michigan was one of those states that Biden narrowly won against Donald Trump, about 155,000 votes with both Biden and Trump acknowledging that this race will be incredibly close, including in a state like Michigan.

COOPER: Yes. Arlette Saenz, thank you.

For more on RFK Jr.'s impact on the race, I'm joined by our Senior Data Reporter, Harry Enten. So does RFK Jr. pulled more votes away from Biden or Trump in Michigan?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: I feel like we have to have a fact check here. I don't know why the Joe Biden campaign is so concerned over Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in the state of Michigan. Because if you break down our last point, you say, OK, those folks who say they're going to support RFK Jr., who do they prefer in a two way matchup? Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

Well, it's split pretty evenly, but if you see, actually, there's slightly more who prefer Donald Trump than Joe Biden, if anything in the Wolverine state, what we're seeing right now in the polling, I've seen it in poll after poll after poll, is that RFK Jr. actually takes more votes away from Donald Trump than Joe Biden. So everything we just heard from the Kennedy family, to me, doesn't actually hold water in the Wolverine State.

COOPER: So where else is RFK Jr. qualified around the country?

ENTEN: Yes. So, you know, he's on the ballot right now. He either has collected enough signatures, or his campaign says he has, or his Super PAC says he has, in 11 states. Now that's not a lot of states, but it's growing at this particular point.

And more than that, it's not just the number of states, it's where those states are, right? Arlette mentioned Nevada, North Carolina. How about Georgia? How about Arizona? These are all important key swing states. How about Michigan, obviously?

And in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where he doesn't have right now the signature has necessarily reached the ballot. The ballot signature threshold is very, very low. It's in the thousands.

COOPER: Because in Wisconsin, I mean, Biden only won by like 20,000 votes.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. So this is, I think, why we're so interested in RFK. I don't think there's anyone who really thinks he can win the presidency. I think what a lot of people are interested in --


ENTEN: -- if, OK, if he gets 5 percent or 6 percent of the vote, who does he take away from? At this point, it looks like perhaps equally from both.


And what -- is there, I mean, how much of his support is sort of some fascination with the Kennedy name? It's hard to quantify, I guess.

ENTEN: It's hard to measure, but I will say that the vast majority of his support comes from younger people, people who were not alive during when Robert F. Kennedy were alive. In fact, the people who were alive, his support is significantly lower amongst them. It's about half the level than it is amongst those who are actually not when he -- were not alive when RFK was alive.

So I don't think this has to do with the Kennedy. I do think it has to do with name recognition. And as this campaign goes on, as more people learn about him. We'll see if the support can actually still hold.

COOPER: Harry Enten, thanks very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it. More breaking news just moments ago in the former president's trial here in New York. A new filing from the prosecution, what they want the judge to do and why it could cost the defendant thousands of dollars ahead.


COOPER: Late update before we go on our top story, the former president's hush money criminal trial. Just moments ago, prosecutors filed their argument accusing him of violating his gag order seven more times than postings online. They're asking the judge to hold him in contempt and fine him $1,000 for each alleged violation. The latest filing comes in the wake of another one earlier this week accusing Trump of three other violations of that limited gag order.

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