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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

FMR National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker To Continue Testimony During Trump Trial Tomorrow; Supreme Court Hears Trump Immunity Claim Tomorrow; Trump Allies Giuliani, Meadows, Epshteyn Charged In AZ Fake Electors Case; Doc Suggests Trump Named As Unindicted Co-Conspirator; Loyalty To Trump Could Be A Job Requirement For Swaths Of Federal Workers In A Second Administration; Protests Grip University Campuses Around The Country; Police Move In On Protesters At USC Campus; At Least 20 Arrests At Texas University As Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests Spread; Hamas Releases Video Of Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin In Proof He Survived October 7 Injuries. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 24, 2024 - 20:00   ET



REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): We have to treat every single person with dignity and respect, and that's not happening here and it's an atrocity.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Speaker Johnson, thanks very much for your time.

JOHNSON: Thank you.


BURNETT: We conducted that interview just about a couple hours ago. Thanks so much for joining us. I hope you stay here with CNN. AC360 begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, what's ahead for the former president when his criminal trial picks back up tomorrow and the Supreme Court hears arguments in his immunity claim.

Also tonight, live reports from the university campuses at the end of a day that saw pro-Palestinian demonstrations spread and grow.

Plus, Arizona, where state lawmakers are trying again to undo their recently revived near-total abortion ban dating back to the Civil War.

Good evening. Tomorrow morning, the former president is back in court here in New York for the first full day of prosecution testimony in the hush money criminal trial. One time Trump friend and former tabloid publisher, David Pecker, will be back on the stand, expected to continue laying out the so-called catch-and-kill scheme at the center of this case.

Meantime, the judge, Juan Merchan, could rule on the prosecution's motion to hold Trump in contempt for his attacks on witnesses, notably Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, who made the payments to Stormy Daniels, which his boss allegedly hid through misleading business records.

The defendant spent some of his day today lashing out at the gag order he's accused of violating, calling it unconstitutional and complaining that "the Conflicted judge's friends and party members can say whatever they want about me, but I'm not allowed to respond."

On top of the trial tomorrow, the Supreme Court also hears oral arguments on his claim of presidential immunity in the federal January 6th case. Here to help break it all down, former House January 6th Committee Senior Investigative Counsel, Temidayo Aganga-Williams; CNN's Kara Scannell; best-selling author and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin; and CNN Legal Analyst, Karen Friedman Agnifilo.

So, Kara, let's start with you. What do we expect tomorrow in the court?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So David Pecker will be back on the stand. On Tuesday, he introduced the jury to the catch-and-kill scheme, brought them into a meeting at Trump Tower in 2015.

Now he's - and he began by introducing them to Karen McDougal, but tomorrow they're really going to get into the heart of that deal and the role of AMI, the role of Michael Cohen, the phone calls around this and how that came to be, and then move into the Stormy Daniels deal, which is at the center of this case, and bring the campaign into this even more.

So he's expected to be on the stand, I think, for quite a while, maybe the whole day when the defense gets their cross-examination going. But he will be part of prosecution's witness to try to continue to establish this catch-and-kill conspiracy and then also the motive for it, which was to help Donald Trump's campaign.

COOPER: Yes. Temidayo, what do you see David Pecker's role as this for the prosecution?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: I think for so long we've talked about Michael Cohen as the narrator. And I think what's so powerful here is that David Pecker is really serving as that narrator. But he has the benefit of not having the hostility and credibility issues that are associated with Michael Cohen.

But he's really serving the role of taking us from 2015, he's drawing the campaign in. He's talking about everything as little as Trump signing checks and paying attention to invoices. So there's so many different data points that he's brought us into, but they can't attack him the same way.

So I'll be looking for, when he's cross-examined and how do Trump's lawyers handle that. Are they going and calling him biased, aggrieved or whatnot? Because what we've heard so far in the courtroom, he talks about Trump with even some level of reverence. And that is not really consistent with saying that you're trying to bring the former president down. So it's going to be a tough thing to balance there for Trump's lawyers.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I have an idea about how they're going to cross-examine him.


TOOBIN: I think they're going to say, did you think you were committing crimes? Did you think you were part of a conspiracy? Or were you just running a magazine?

COOPER: Because clearly he did it or did he - I mean, did he? Do you think he did?

TOOBIN: I don't think he did.

COOPER: Because he cooperated with you on an article in The New Yorker in 2017.

TOOBIN: He told me all about his payments to Karen McDougal. He did not talk about Stormy Daniels. That was not public at that point. But - and he has not been prosecuted. So that's another thing that the defense is going to point out, is that if you were a co-conspirator, how come you're walking free and how come Donald Trump is a defendant here? Now there may be answers to all these things.

But I think the idea that the prosecution is criminalizing behavior that is simply not a crime, is going to be a big theme tomorrow.

COOPER: But Karen, don't prosecutors make deals with disreputable people who have committed crimes, who might be charged otherwise, if they didn't have information to turn on somebody else, on a bigger fish?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, as we always say as prosecutors, we wish that crimes were committed in front of a bus full of nuns, right? But when you're dealing with people who commit crimes, you're surrounded by the people who they commit crimes with. And so you take your eye witnesses as they come.


And that's what the prosecution will say, which is Donald Trump picked Michael Cohen. Donald Trump picked David Pecker. Those are the people in his inner circle that he chose to do these things with. So you're left with who you're left with.

TOOBIN: But isn't the issue - I mean, Michael Cohen, okay, bad guy. Everybody can agree he committed crimes. With Pecker, isn't the argument, well, he's not a bad guy. He's just a businessman who was involved with Donald Trump. He's not the classic cooperator, because the classic cooperator is someone who's already admitted to criminal conduct, and Pecker hasn't admitted to anything.

AGNIFILO: Well, but he has been granted immunity by the feds. Michael Cohen was prosecuted federally for this. I mean, it's not like there wasn't some criminal acknowledgement federally. And because of the supremacy clause, unfortunately, that applies to the state. They can't then prosecute Pecker for it.

But I think it was both for David Pecker. I think he was an associate business person for - with Donald Trump for a very long period of time. And then came this crucial critical meeting in 2015 where they formulated this conspiracy to illegally or unlawfully, allegedly, that's what the prosecution is going to say, interfere with the election. And it was all about the election at that point.

And we know because one of the things he said was with the doorman, that was not - that we were not able to confirm that story. In fact, we debunked it. But had it been real, he would have released it after the election.

It was very clear that what they were doing was about the election. And at that point, when you're paying witnesses ...

COOPER: It wasn't to protect Melania Trump. It was about the election.

AGNIFILO: Right. If it was, why - then he wouldn't have released it after the election. He was doing these catch and kills fine, but when it was about the election, those are - when you're paying people, it's an in-kind donation and you have to declare that.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: And a dangerous point there in asking him whether he thought it was a crime, he might say yes. So I don't know, if I'm defense counsel, I'm cross-examining, I don't know that I'd go there. I think that feels dangerous. Because if you're asking a witness who's been granted immunity to weigh in on whether they thought something they were doing was problematic, he could very well agree. And where does that leave the Trump defense there with the jury hearing that the witness that got challenged says, yes, I did it, which means he did it too.

COOPER: I wonder if - I assume prosecutors would already know the answer to that question at this stage, wouldn't they?

TOOBIN: Yes. They'd interviewed Pecker, right.


TOOBIN: So they know the answer. They know how he'll respond to that question.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: If the - yes, exactly.

COOPER: The interesting thing, Kara, is that Donald Trump has not gone after David Pecker. I mean, David Pecker is potentially testifying very damaging information. He has not gone after him the way Michael Cohen. Obviously, Michael Cohen has been baiting him and has wrote a whole book called "Revenge," which David Pecker has not done. But I'm wondering if Donald Trump is scared about what else David Pecker knows.

SCANNELL: I mean, that's the question I've been wondering too, because their relationship goes back a long time and David Pecker was explaining this. And as you noted, he - there's some kind of reverence in the way that there is a - that they're referring to him in the stand and calling him Mr. Trump.

But they go back a long time. And he also testified that they - he was doing catch-and-kill deals with - around Donald Trump, talking to Michael Cohen, finding stories, whether he was actually executing the catch-and-kill is a different story. But he said he was doing this since 2007, but everything changed in 2015.

And I think his testimony, he also is in a spot, he didn't flip in the way that Michael Cohen has flipped. He's giving testimony that is not helpful to Trump and that is helpful to the prosecution, but he hasn't said something that is really - it's incriminating Donald Trump, but it's not incriminating him the way that Michael Cohen's (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: I just wonder if Donald Trump would tell his attorney to temper the cross-examination because of who they're dealing with and what David Pecker might know about it.

TOOBIN: Well, it depends what they want to get out of him. What I think they may do is not cross-examine him in a hostile way, and say, you were just a businessman. You were doing what you thought was good for the Enquirer and maybe helping your friend. You didn't think you were committing a crime, did you?

And I think that is often more effective than beating someone up and saying, you're a liar, you're - I mean, that, I think, is probably the most effective way to deal with him. And the thing about Pecker, though, is this whole deal has been a nightmare for him.

I mean, he was a lot more successful businessman in 2016 than he is today. He has spent millions of dollars in attorneys' fees. He got immunity from the Feds, but he almost was indicted by the Feds. So I don't know that his attitude towards Trump is as reverential as it used to be.

AGNIFILO: I think the cross of him is going to be, you dealt with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump wasn't there. You dealt with - it's going to be all the times that it was he and Michael Cohen, again, putting Michael Cohen's credibility as the issue, because he wants to make it so that Michael Cohen is the one who is the one talking about Donald Trump.

COOPER: Interesting. Thank you, everyone.

Now, a closer look at catch and kill, which David Pecker has been testifying about and as we've been discussing, is likely to be cross- examined about when the trial resumes.


Not catch and kill relating to the Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal deals, but the one that actually paved the way for them in this deal they had before the election. The first story that the National Enquirer allegedly intercepted for Trump in regards to the election, here's Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): About a year before the 2016 election, former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin suddenly got $30,000 richer. The National Enquirer bought exclusive rights to a fake story he was peddling about a so-called love child fathered out of wedlock by Donald Trump with his housekeeper.


RONAN FARROW, AUTHOR, "CATCH AND KILL: LIES, SPIES, AND A CONSPIRACY TO PROTECT PREDATORS": There was a pattern. That first $30,000 was paid to a Trump Tower doorman to squash a rumor that Trump had fathered a child with an employee.


KAYE (voice over): This was the first time, according to prosecutors, that the head of American Media Inc., David Pecker, who published the National Enquirer, had ever paid anyone for information about Donald Trump. For his part, Trump has always denied having the child in question. This is a copy of the signed source agreement between the doorman and David Pecker, who at the time was a Trump loyalist.

The agreement reads: "Source shall provide AMI with information regarding Donald Trump's illegitimate child."


KAYE (on camera): According to the statement of facts filed by prosecutors when Trump was indicted in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, Pecker learned in the fall of 2015 that the doorman was trying to sell information regarding a child that Trump had allegedly fathered out of wedlock. At Pecker's direction, the prosecutors said, AMI negotiated and signed an agreement to pay the doorman $30,000 for exclusive rights to the story, not to publish it, but to bury it.


KAYE (voice over): The doorman's story about the so-called love child turned out to be false, just a rumor. In fact, the still unnamed woman at the center of it denied it all to the AP in 2018 saying, "This is all fake."

Ronan Farrow also wrote in a New Yorker piece that the housekeeper's father said the doorman's claim was completely false and ridiculous.

After those reports in April 2018 and after he'd been freed from his agreement with AMI, the doorman gave a statement to CNN. He stood by his story despite the fact there was no evidence to prove it.

"I can confirm that I was instructed not to criticize President Trump's former housekeeper due to a prior relationship she had with President Trump, which produced a child."

According to court documents, when AMI realized the claim was false and wanted to release the doorman from his agreement with them, Trump's then-lawyer-turned-fixer, Michael Cohen, told Pecker not to release the doorman until after the presidential election. The agreement the doorman had made with AMI in 2015 also stated that if he shared his story anywhere else, he'd be forced to pay a $1 million penalty.

In 2019, after he'd been released from the deal, the doorman self- published a book writing in the description, "I was the Trump doorman. Back then, I wasn't able to fully give my side of the story."


COOPER: Randi joins us now. Where is that doorman today?

KAYE (on camera): Well, Anderson, we know that doorman certainly is no longer working at Trump Tower. The last time CNN actually put eyes on him was back in 2018 when we tracked him down to his house that was in eastern Pennsylvania. And that really was the last known address for him. He's really fallen off the radar, at least the media's radar, until this trial, of course.

And one would assume, Anderson, that he's likely working somewhere, right? Because that $30,000 he was paid was likely not enough for him to live on all these years. But it seems he really has gone underground.

COOPER: All right. Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

Next tonight, breaking news, new reporting from Arizona on 2020 election subversion charges just out naming the former president as an unindicted co-conspirator and charging Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows.

Breaking news, as well, on pro-Palestinian campus demonstrations from coast to coast. We'll have two live reports tonight. Plus the latest on arrests happening at the University of Texas. Breaking news.



COOPER: Breaking news, a day before the former president's criminal trial and alleged election interference continues, Arizona prosecutors have secured indictments against a number of his allies in the state's growing fake-electors case related to the 2020 election, including his former attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Zach Cohen broke this story for CNN. He joins us now.

So what are you learning about the criminal charges?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Anderson, nine counts, including multiple felonies. The top-line felony is a conspiracy and the indictment alleges that Rudy Giuliani, Mark Meadows, Boris Epshteyn, who's a close advisor to the former president, they all work together with these fake electors from Arizona to deceive the people and the voters here.

And look, these are serious crimes, and perhaps even more expansive than what we were expecting. We've reported previously that the attorney general here seemed to be focused primarily on the electors themselves. There's 11 who were charged today, in addition to the Trump allies.

But the indictment does really reflect how this investigation has expanded over just the last several months. We did have reporting that indicated that was the case, that they were looking into people from Trump's national campaign, from - people in Trump's inner orbit and you can't get much more inner orbit than Rudy Giuliani and Mark Meadows as far as that timeframe where Donald Trump was trying to overturn the 2020 election.

So look, this is the latest and the most recent state-level investigation to bring criminal charges for actions related to the 2020 election. And in fact, it may be perhaps the most serious state- level indictment that we've seen so far, maybe comparable with what we've seen in Georgia.

But yes, Donald Trump also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in this case as part of this alleged conspiracy.

COOPER: What - so what comes next?

COHEN: Yes, Anderson, we'll start to see initial appearances. These indicted individuals will have to show up in court and be arraigned. And then we will also start to see, after that, some potential plea deals. We'll start to see people close to the president, perhaps talk to prosecutors, be offered an opportunity to plea out, similar to what we've seen in the Georgia case as well.

And I want to note, too, because Boris Epshteyn, who is a close advisor to the former president, he worked on the president's campaign in 2020. He was instrumental to this effort to overturn the 2020 election.


He is probably the one person in this indictment who has stayed close to the former president in the years since the effort to overturn the election. In fact, he was with the former president in Manhattan when Donald Trump was arraigned in the hush money case. And sources are telling Kristen Holmes that the reason we have not seen Boris Epshteyn close to the former president as his trial in New York has started is because of concerns in Trump's inner circle about this looming indictment in Arizona. So now we know that Boris Epshteyn is among those who has been indicted and charged, along with Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and a host of others.

COOPER: Zach Cohen, thanks so much.

Meanwhile, in the former president's bid to return to the White House, he's been laying the groundwork for what another term in office might look like, primarily how he plans to execute his goal of overhauling the federal government and rid Washington of the so-called deep state.

CNN's Kyung Lah investigated some of the former president's promises and the impact they may have. Here's what she found.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At every 2024 campaign rally for former president Donald Trump, he makes a vow.



We will demolish the deep state.

We will demolish the deep state.


LAH (voice over): The deep state is his named enemy, federal workers who Trump believes conspire against him.


TRUMP: Here's my plan to dismantle the deep state and reclaim our democracy from Washington corruption.


LAH (voice over): Trump's 10-point plan in his campaign website outlines sweeping changes he wants to make to government agencies.


TRUMP: Faceless bureaucrats will never again be able to target and persecute conservatives, Christians or the left's political enemies.


LAH (voice over): The end result would erase federal worker protections that have been in place for more than 140 years, eliminate entire departments and consolidate power around Trump. To understand the impact of what could happen in Trump's second term, you only have to look at his first.


TRUMP: I will immediately reissue my 2020 executive order restoring the president's authority to remove rogue bureaucrats.


LAH (voice over): That executive order he signed just before losing the 2020 election turns government jobs into political appointments, giving the Trump administration the power to fire employees at will and replace them with loyalists, making them according to this federal report subject to removal for partisan political reasons.


JACQUELINE SIMON, POLICY DIRECTOR, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES: Do you want people doing scientific research at the nuclear regulatory commission who don't have the qualifications to perform that kind of work? Their only qualification is an allegiance to the Trump agenda.


LAH (voice over): Jacqueline Simon represents a large government employee union. She says the expertise of government workers can't be replaced on a political whim.


SIMON: Once that kind of stuff is politicized, let's say you deny a disability claim based on somebody's politics.

LAH (on camera): How do you feel as you think about what the federal workforce could look like?

SIMON: It's very disheartening and it's scary. I think that there will be a massive exodus of competence.

ROBERT SHEA, SENIOR OMB OFFICIAL FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I do think that this is in part an effort to weaponize the bureaucracy.


LAH (voice over): Lifelong Republican Robert Shea was a political appointee under President George W. Bush. He believes politics should be kept out of the federal workforce no matter who is in the White House.


SHEA: I would expect to see wide swaths of civil servants removed from their positions and replaced with people more loyal to President Trump.

SHEA: Do you read this as a loyalty test?

SHEA: I do.


LAH (voice over): These documents obtained by the National Treasury Employees Union show the Trump administration plan to cut deep. One agency proposing almost 70 percent of its positions should become political appointments by claiming they deal with policy.


LAH (on camera): IT specialists, data management, budget information support manager.


LAH (voice over): We read the jobs list to former Obama-era OMB official Kenneth Baer.


LAH (on camera): So why would you make all these positions political appointees?

KENNETH BAER, SENIOR OMB OFFICIAL FOR PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Because that's what they want to destroy the independent objective civil service, that's why. I think it would really fundamentally weaken the American government but also American democracy if we got rid of that career staff.

TRUMP: The deep state must and will be brought to heel.


LAH (voice over): But that's only part of what Trump appears to have in store.


TRUMP: Move parts of the sprawling federal bureaucracy to new locations outside the Washington swamp to places filled with patriots who love America.


LAH (voice over): He's also promising to relocate federal agencies out of D.C., something he did in his first term.




LAH (voice over): The Trump administration targeted two agencies at the USDA, moving hundreds of jobs including Catherine Greene's out of Washington to Kansas City. The official reason was to create significant savings for taxpayers, improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified personnel and attract a diverse staff. But the exact opposite happened.

In fact, one government study showed that the administration excluded critical costs in its estimate for moving agencies.


And after two years, the workforce was made up mostly of new employees with less experience and the number of black employees declined to about a third of what it once was.

GREENE: The goal was to uproot the agency in such a way that most people would have to move on and most people did.



LAH (on camera): The Biden administration is trying to slow down any action Trump could take against federal employees if he wins the 2024 election by finalizing a new rule that says civil service protections can't be taken away from employees unless they voluntarily give them away. Experts tell us that while that might put a pause on Trump's plans, essentially putting in a speed bump, ultimately Trump could do what he is planning. The only permanent fix would be legislation passed by Congress. Anderson?

COOPER: Kyung Lah, thanks very much. Next, more breaking news. We'll have live reports on pro-Palestinian demonstrations and arrests at some of the country's top college campuses.

And a look at Speaker Johnson's visit to Columbia University today where much of the unrest started.



COOPER: Police arresting protesters on the University of Texas campus today in Austin, at least 20 people taken into custody so far as pro- Palestinian demonstrations continue to colleges and universities from coast to coast.

Today, longtime Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi put out a statement in support of the protesters and a number of Jewish community security officials called on school administrators to "restore calm and order." We have three live reports starting with CNN's Nick Watt on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Nick, would have you been seeing?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it has been relatively peaceful during the afternoon, but just a few minutes ago, campus security came out with bullhorns and told this crowd that if they don't leave within ten minutes, they will be liable for criminal trespassing. Listen to the chant.

We will not stop. We will not rest. So it does not look like these people plan to leave. Are you planning to leave? Are you planning to stay?


UNIDENTFIED MALE: I am going to jail today.

WATT: You're going to jail?

UNIDENTFIED MALE: This is a good day to go to jail. That's Martin Luther King's day. I can't believe they're going to start locking up senior citizens. I am 66 and somebody had to come and support these young people. They are not alone. That's why I am here.


WATT: OK. So earlier in the day, the last time the police tried to come on to this square, it did not go well. They came on this morning, it wasn't LAPD, it was Campus Police. They tried to clear tents and it got very ugly very fast. Demonstrators haranguing them, cussing them at, then it got physical, a lot of pushing. One person was arrested, put in a squad car. The crowd surrounded that car and would not let it leave. They were begging the police, ordering the police to let that protester go, the police did, and then the temperature dropped dramatically.

It was calm all afternoon. Of course, there was "From the river to the sea." There was "There is only one solution - Intifada Revolution" All of that. So Jewish students made to feel uncomfortable. They closed the campus down, they locked the -- closed the gates. You had to have ID to get in. The college blames a lot of this on outside agitators. They wanted to keep those people out.

But we are about to see, Anderson, I think the second confrontation of the day as the police come in. There are dozens of LAPD cars just off campus. There is campus security. Within minutes, we expect they are going to come in and try to move all of these people. And I can't say what is going to happen, but if this morning was anything to go by, it will not be pretty, Anderson.

COOPER: And does it seem like these are mostly students?

WATT: Well, there is a mix. There are students and there are definitely people from outside. I mean, social media this morning, there were other organizations within LA asking people to come down here for this demonstration. Listen, university administrators like to say that this is all outside agitators. There are definitely students here as well. The hardcore, I would say quite a few people from off- campus who have come to cause a ruckus here on the campus because this is the focus, this is where the media is, this is where they come to protest.

COOPER: All right. Nick Watt, thank you. Ed Lavandera joins us now from the University of Texas at Austin. Ed, what have you have been seeing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: While the situation here has dramatically changed in just the last hour, but earlier today, a student-led protest organized by the Palestine Solidarity Committee had organized a protest and a march through campus, which was supposed to end here, which is the area known as the South Mall of the UT campus, looking back down there toward the state capital. And that's where those students, protesters were confronted by a long line of state troopers that arrived here on the campus.

It was incredibly tense as those -- both sides of the law enforcement officers confronted those protesters here and the protesters had been saying that there was nothing violent here going on. That it was peaceful. And in the last hour or so, UT officials sent out an alert to all the students saying that they had to leave this area or risk being arrested. And then about that same time, much of the law enforcement present simply just disappeared. So this is what we are left seeing here this evening. Anderson, as you see, the last remnants of the protest here on the South Mall, they have been spending the last hour or so chants here in the South Mall area.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott put out on social media saying that he believed that the protesters, the student protesters involved in this belong in jail, that the protesters, the student protesters should also be expelled.


LAVANDERA: Clearly, the governor of Texas also receiving a great deal of condemnation for that critique of what many of these protesters view as simple free speech on this day. The Texas Department of Public Safety state troopers say they arrested -- last we heard from them, was about 20 people. Protest organizers say that the arrests are actually more than 50 and many of them are down at the jail here in Austin, trying to get those protesters bailed out. So that is the scene that is unfolding here tonight on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin. Anderson?

COOPER: All right. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much. One of the longest running and most contentious of the camps demonstrations is at New York's Columbia University. That's where House Speaker Mike Johnson, accompanied by fellow GOP House members, spoke today. More on that now from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Mounting pressure for Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, as she works to try to negotiate with student organizers on campus. She extended the deadline for negotiations by 48 hours, working to dismantle the encampment that has taken over much of campus.

MICHAEL D'AGOSTINO, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY JUNIOR: It is pretty disheartening to see all this on campus, I will say. I think a lot of people are misguided.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Pro-Palestinian protesters are demanding Columbia cut all financial ties with Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our plan is to be here until the university divests, disclose, and provides amnesty for all.

PROKUPECZ: You could see there are at least 50 to 75 tents that remain here. Many of the students who are part of this movement have been sleeping in these tents, have been eating here.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Adding pressure to the situation, House Speaker Mike Johnson visited campus today, meeting with Jewish students and calling on the university president to resign. REP. MIKE JOHNSON, (R-LA) SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I am here today joining my colleagues and calling on President Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos. Enjoy your free speech.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): For months, Republican lawmakers have called on numerous university leaders to resign as they held Congressional hearings on the handling of antisemitism on college campuses. While most protests have been non-violent, some Jewish students at Columbia are expressing concern for their safety.

JESSICA SCHWALB, JEWISH STUDENT AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: The antisemitic comments and activity is running rampant.

PROKUPECZ: But some people are saying that there is some of the stuff that's coming out is antisemitic or it is anti -- against Jews. Is that a fair representation of what is happening here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not think it is a fair representation of (inaudible), but that doesn't diminish at all how terrible and unneeded, unwanted and how much it should not exist, the antisemitism anywhere in the entire world.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Columbia University recently shifted to hybrid classes due to safety concerns, now allowing the option to attend class and take final exams remotely through the end of the semester.

RONY ANYIN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SOPHOMORE: This making it harder to go to classes and everything. I mean, things are switching to be remote.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): Last week, when students were arrested at Columbia, some Democrats like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned university officials for involving police. She said on X calling in police enforcement on non-violent demonstrations of young students on campus is an escalatory, reckless, and dangerous act. Some Republicans like Senator Tom Cotton said there should be more police intervention on campus.

SEN. TOM COTTON, (R-AR): These university presidents need to ask the mayor and the chief of police in New York to send it in New York City's finest to arrest anyone who is breaking the law.


COOPER: And Shimon joins us now. So, what are you seeing tonight? How is it tonight?

PROKUPECZ (on camera): So interestingly enough, Anderson, just before we came on with you, you can see there are some NYPD officers in helmets behind me. There was actually a small group gathered just a couple of feet away and they were doing their chants. They actually moved in and they told them to move, that they can't stand there anymore. They made an announcement and the group left.

But having been out here for the last -- for the past several nights, this is a different sort of scene because usually the NYPD lets hang out, lets them do what they're doing for quite some time. But it's apparent, right now, it appears that the NYPD is being a little more aggressive here on the outside of Columbia University, telling protesters to move on, otherwise they are going to be arrested. This group moved on, they left.

The other concern here, Anderson, is that there was a lot of rumors going around at the university that somehow the National Guard would be called in to try and remove the encampment, the protesters inside the college. Today, the college said that is completely baseless, that rumor is not true, and that in terms of any military presence on the campus, that's just not going to happen.

COOPER: All right. Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much. The war that these protesters are speaking out against did not come from nowhere. It began, as you know, last October when Hamas launched a terror attack on Israel, targeting civilians for murder, rape, and abduction.


COOPER: One of the young people wounded and kidnapped that day was Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who the world last saw being forced into a pickup truck by gunmen in this video. Hersh's left-hand and part of his arm were shot or blown off. The bone was sticking out. We have been talking with Hersh's parents, Jon and Rachel, ever since. They haven't had any word whether or not their son survived those injuries, no word if he was alive or not.

Well today, they finally did get word. His captors released this hostage video of Hersh, or a hostage video of Hersh, the first of an American captive. We are not going to show you the hostage video. We are going to show you a frame from it to show you what Hersh -- what his parents saw. It was unclear when it was made, but was made -- but his wound appears to be have healed in it. And he was alive.

In the video, he refers to his 200 days in captivity an holiday without specifying which one. He also said he loved his parents and he missed them. They put out a video statement today.


JON POLIN: Seeing a video of Hersh today is overwhelming. We are relieved to see him alive. But we are also concerned about his health and well-being, as well as that of all the other hostages and all of those suffering in this region.

RACHEL GOLDBERG: If you can hear this, we heard your voice today for the first time in 201 days. And if you can hear us, I am telling you, we are telling you, we love you, stay strong, survive.


COOPER: Hersh Goldberg-Polin taken captive to 201 days ago -- about 130 men, women, and children are still hostages in Gaza.

I want to return to our Nick Watt who has been covering campus protests. Nick, explain what you are seeing. WATT: Well, right now, there are dozens of police officers, Campus Police and LAPD, wearing riot helmets, batons drawn, many them with zip ties on their belts. They have circled this little park where the protesters are still chanting with about a dozen or so of them locked arms in the middle, waiting to try and thwart this attempt to arrest. And they've been told they were given ten minutes to get out or they would be liable for criminal trespass.

The police circling, as I say, it is unclear what they are trying to do at the moment. If they are trying to find a way in, they are massing at the sides of this park, Alumni Park, which is where commencement is supposed to be taking place in just a couple of weeks here. But right now, it is a very, very different scene.

The chanting is not stopping. The drum beats are not stopping. More people are joining that little throng in the middle, determined to resist this police effort. The police are now -- Oh, I see. Yep, OK. So the police are basically getting orders. They are lining up, ready to move in. It is unclear what the delay is right now. And they are all just getting into position.

COOPER: So Nick, if you can just -- Nick, if you can explain, we are seeing this -- the sort of failings (ph) of police as they are kind of getting in position, getting organized. Can you just kind of just give --

WATT: Yeah.

COOPER: -- give us a bird's eye sense of where these officers -- we are seeing the officers, where are they in relation to the group of protesters? How big a group of protest is here?

WATT: OK, they are here. Dave? I'll ask Dave to pan right. So, there you see the police and there is the bunch of people locked arms in the middle.

So we are talking, you know, they are about 30 or 40 feet away from them right now. And as I say, you know, earlier in the day, we sold Campus Police tried to come in and clear tents and it did not go well. But the crowd is much bigger than it was this morning, the crowd of protesters much bigger. Many people with kafias covering their faces. Many people with COVID masks covering their faces. They know that they are liable for criminal charges here, so trying to conceal their identities.

I see a protester here with safety goggles and a helmet on, and the police are still gathering around this side. It is unclear why they are not coming in. I mean, they I assume know --

COOPER: So about how many protesters --

WATT: -- when they do come in, this is not going to be pretty.

COOPER: Do you have any sense of --

WATT: Sorry, Anderson? COOPER: Do you have a sense how many protesters there are and are they completely surrounded by police? Where is sort of the police in relation?

WATT: They are not completely surrounded by the police. The police have lined up against one side of the park. And actually few minutes ago, we heard some of the protest organizers saying, if you would like to leave safely and you don't want to be arrested, leave to the right. So, a lot of people have left, leaving a hardcore in the middle. Again, it is very unclear what the police are doing. They seem to be unsure how to quiet handle this. They are now lined up against, along two sides of the Park.

Dave, if you pan over there, Dave --


COOPER: And Nick, these are -- just to be clear, are these -- these are not Campus Police, these are Los Angeles Police?

WATT: Both.


WATT: These are both, Anderson. Yeah, both. So look, now you can see -- and Dave, if you pan along here. So look, you see these officers lined up here with their batons, where their zip ties. They are now -- if we pan around, look, you can see how close. That's where the knot of protesters is, right in the middle there. So, the police are now lining up along two sides of the park, two sides are open.

I mean, I am assuming that they would like to leave two sides open so that people who want to get out can get out. The police are stationary. You can possibly hear the LAPD helicopters above.

COOPER: And Nick, in terms of the --

WATT: It is a standoff right now.

COOPER: -- how long have the demonstrators been on the campus like this? Is it really just in the last several days --

WATT: So they were --

COOPER: -- that it was kind of grown to this size?

WATT: It is really just -- it is really this morning, Anderson. At 4:30 this morning, they came onto campus. They put up some tents. They were told by the university there is a no camping ordinance, so they took the tents down and then they told me that they felt that the university was being really nitpicky, telling him they couldn't put banners up. They felt that the whole tent thing was unjust. So, these protesters decided to then make a stand. They put their tents back up.

Shortly after that is when campus security tried to move those tents and we saw the scuffles earlier in the day. Then for most of the afternoon, it has been passionate but peaceful, a lot of chanting, a lot of speakers, the crowd growing and growing, the college closing the gates, making sure people have ID, they -- the college didn't want this to get this big. They were trying to keep outsiders off the campus. By the looks of it, they've kind of failed.

So right now, we just still have this standoff. We have the police along two sides of the park, three sides of the park. I don't see many more protesters actually leaving. We just have this circle in the middle, of people determined to make a stand, and we have their supporters gathered around, safely off the grass, obviously trying not to be involved in what might happen here. But it is a standoff right now. The police are not moving at all right now, not at all. So, we want to wait and see what is going to happen.

COOPER: And Nick, while we watch this, I want to bring in former Philadelphia and D.C. top cap Charles Ramsey. He joins us on the phone. Chief Ramsey, for officers in a situation like this, I mean, obviously, there is a lot to consider and a lot to -- you are working with Campus Police. You are working with young people who are protesting. How do you approach something like this from a law enforcement standpoint?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Well, right now, they're just getting in position. LAPD is there to support the Campus Police at Southern Cal. They're going to be giving warnings to individuals before they believe -- before they begin any enforcement action. Normally, you give at least three warnings. You'll do it by getting a time check through your communications center and doing it on a bullhorn, so people can hear.

I just heard from the report that there are two sides that are open. So hopefully, people do disperse and leave. If not, the university has more than likely ordered the officers to clear that particular area. So they will go in very slowly, trying not to have any confrontation, but it looks as if that is exactly what is going to happen there. Protesters are there with their arms locked, so there will be numerous arrests made and hopefully, no one gets injured in the process.

COOPER: When you have a situation where you have Campus Police, I mean, do Campus Police have arresting powers or do Campus Police --

RAMSEY (via telephone): Yeah.

COOPER: -- detain somebody and then hand them over to local law enforcement?

RAMSEY (via telephone): They do have arrest powers. Campus Police do, yes. LAPD is there. If LAPD makes the arrest, of course, they will do the processing and so forth. But yeah, Campus Police do have full police powers.

COOPER: And in a case like this, who determines if and when to actually move in? I mean, is it in consultation with the people who run the university? Is it --

RAMSEY (via telephone): Yes. COOPER: At some point, just up purely a law enforcement decision?

RAMSEY (via telephone): No, the university will be the ones that will make the decision as to what is going to take place. It won't be LAPD. LAPD is there to assist, along with the Campus Police, but it will be the university leadership that will decide whether or not they want the protesters cleared from the campus.


RAMSEY (via telephone): So right now, you see them in a posture where they're just waiting. I don't know if they are waiting to get orders or what the situation is. Certainly, they're going to want to try to get as many people to leave on their own as possible. But it is very apparent that you have a group of individuals who have no intention of leaving. They've locked arms and hopefully, they can be removed without any real incident taking place.

COOPER: And Nick, what has been going on when we were talking about Chief Ramsey?

WATT: Well, we have seen the police still standing there, some of them with weapons that fire non-lethal rubber rounds. We have seen a protest organizer walking around, telling people not to resist arrest. It is still that standoff. And as Chief Ramsey said, we still have the two sides of the park open. They are clearly hoping that as many people leave as possible.

I would say right now, we have circle of 40 or 50 people, arms locked, waiting for them in the center of the park. The police still standing there, stock still, batons drawn, waiting for the orders. And you know, it is interesting what Chief Ramsey was saying about who gives the orders. It was the university that asked the LAPD to come in earlier. It is the university for sure that is calling the shots. This is a private college. This is private land.

So the LAPD, we were speaking to before they made it very clear, you know, they come here at the invitation of the university. USC has clearly decided that enough is enough and they are willing to take this risk of confrontation by bringing the LAPD onto this campus to work alongside their own security detail, to try and clear this park, Anderson.

COOPER: Nick, Chief Ramsey, we have to take a quick break. We will return to the story when we come back. We'll be back in a moment.



COOPER: We are following the scene right now at the campus of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, where police and protesters appear to be at something of a standoff at the moment. Campus Police and LAPD officers have been hoping to clear a park. They're giving protesters a deadline for leaving, which is past. The scene right now tense. CNN's Nick Watt is on campus. We are on the phone from the D.C. and Philadelphia top cop Charles Ramsey.

Nick, in the last few minutes that we've been away, what has happened?

WATT: OK. Well, the police are now surrounding three sides of the park. And if you look here, Dave, protest organizers are handing out water and food to the people, looking braced to be arrested in the middle. Somebody has also been walking around, taking their cell phones from them and writing on their arm with a sharpie the number for the National Lawyers Guild, which they say will help them once they're arrested. If we look at this sign here, USC would rather jail students than divest from genocide.

Are you ready to be arrested? You've resigned?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to talk.

WATT: OK, doesn't want to talk. They don't want to talk to media very much. So, let's go and see where the police are now. Dave, come this way. So look, you see the officers there down here. So this is the third side that the officers have now congregated, the third side of the park. This ahead of me is still open. That is where people have been leaving. That's where people have been leaving.

Yeah. And it is -- I mean, it is now a small bunch of people left in this park, braced for arrest, yep. And if you'll notice over there, there is a police officer with a camera. Dave, can you see that guy? Police officer with a camera filming the protesters. Back to you, guys.

COOPER: And Charles Ramsey, just talking to you, just in terms of who makes the decision when to move, earlier, we were talking about is it university officials. Would there be university officials on scene?

RAMSEY (via telephone): There could be university officials on scene, but they will give the go ahead to begin trying to move people out of the park. The good news is it looks like most of the people have left the park. But, you have a small group of individuals who intend to be arrested. And of course, the police will accommodate them. But hopefully, they can do so without any real physical activity having to take place, that they will be able to go in somewhat peacefully anyway, to be able to make the arrest.

But the university officials will be the ones who make the decision. They say clear the area and that's when the police will start clearing the area. They've surrounded on three sides. You've still got one avenue of being able to leave. Once they give the go ahead, then they will start moving in and they will start to make arrests.

COOPER: And Chief, if somebody is a student on the campus or somebody is not a student on the campus and has just come there in order to demonstrate, does that make a difference what happens to them after they get arrested?

RAMSEY (via telephone): No, not really. Many of the people there, no doubt, are students, but they will have quite a few people that are non-students that are there. So once they give the order to clear the campus, then the police will begin to move in. I see they have left lethal munitions and so forth available.


RAMSEY (via telephone): Hopefully, they do not have to use them.