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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Testimony Sets Stage for Star Witness Michael Cohen Next Week; Judge Suggests Bringing former Trump Org. CFO Weisselberg to Testify Outside of Jury's Presence; Intense Solar Storm May Make Aurora Borealis Visible In Much Of U.S.; Israeli Whistleblowers Detail Abuse Of Palestinian In Detention Center Near Israel-Gaza Border. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 10, 2024 - 20:00   ET





PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT & ANCHOR: And Erica, it's been really interesting talking to those who support the former president and those who absolutely loathe his immigration policy. They agree there has been a dramatic shift on the issues that served as roadblocks in that first term. The courts now 200 plus federal judges that were nominated by Trump, the Supreme Court, 6 to 3 conservative majority, lawmakers, especially in the Republican Party, very much in line with Trump.

But more than anything else, experience. They have four years in office. They know what to do. They know how to do it and they very clearly plan to implement on day one.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Yes, they certainly do. Phil I really appreciate it, thank you. And thanks to all of you for joining us tonight, AC360 starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the preliminaries are over. Now, it comes down to the fixer against the former president, how Michael Cohen's testimony could seal Donald Trump's fate as a felon or how his credibility problems could sink the state's case.

Also tonight, his sometimes loud, often controversial journey from enforcer to informer to star witness for the prosecution with stops on cable news and federal prison along the way.

Plus, a true demonstration of solar power, how severe storms on the sun could wreak havoc here on Earth, even as they bring the northern lights as far south as Alabama.

Good evening, everyone. John Berman here in for Anderson and we begin with the hush money trial and the prosecution witness whose testimony Stormy Daniels set the table for. Michael Cohen, who will take the stand on Monday here in New York, he is expected to be, if not the final, then at least the central piece of the prosecution's case against his old boss and client, the former president. Although it is not yet known precisely what he will say, we do know what has not been said so far by prosecution witnesses. Namely, any testimony that Donald Trump directed to the falsification of business records to hide his and Cohen's hush money payout to Stormy Daniels.

Other witnesses up until now have established that he was very conscious about how he spent his money, that he signed the checks to Cohen, that they were to reimburse Cohen and then some for paying off Daniels, and that the former president along with Cohen and tabloid publisher David Pecker had arranged a scheme to keep potentially devastating news quiet before the 2016 election. Cohen could provide the rest or not. We just don't know.

Here is what he has said already in congressional testimony five years ago.


MICHAEL COHEN, FMR. PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: So picture this scene in February of 2017, one month into his presidency. I'm visiting President Trump in the Oval Office for the first time and it's truly awe-inspiring. He's showing me all around and pointing to different paintings and he says to me something to the effect of, don't worry Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming. They were FedExed from New York and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system. As he promised, I received the first check for the reimbursement of $70,000 not long thereafter.


BERMAN: Again, we do not yet know whether he can also speak to the falsifying documents charges that make up the indictment and we certainly know that his testimony could be undermined by his criminal record and his grudge against the former president, which he modeled here in t-shirt form today on social media. That is his former client in a prison jumpsuit behind bars.

Today, Judge Juan Merchan at the defense is urging warned him to stop talking about Trump and the trial and asked the prosecution to tell him so on his behalf. With more on that, we are joined tonight by CNN's Kara Scannell and former deputy assistant attorney general, Harry Litman, both of whom were in court today. Also CNN Legal Analyst, Karen Friedman Agnifilo and CNN Political Commentator, Errol Louis, who has covered Donald Trump for decades here on local New York news.

One note here, a colleague of Karen Agnifilo's law firm represents Michael Cohen though Karen herself does not work on the case. She has no contact with Cohen and no restrictions on what she can say about it.

On that note, Kara Scannell, talk about the courtroom today. What was it like in there? What were the highlights?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So today was a dry day compared with yesterday with Stormy Daniels on the witness stand, but it was setting up Michael Cohen's testimony. We saw, excuse me, phone records that came into evidence today. And these are call logs between Michael Cohen and a number of these key players, most importantly with Donald Trump. Also, David Pecker, Keith Davidson, all of the players that are around the catch-and-kill deal.

And as we know from this did not come out in court today, but I expect we'll see this. We know from the federal investigation that there were a lot of phone calls just after the Access Hollywood tape came out and as they were trying to wrap up this deal. So I think that is going to - this is getting this into evidence now so that Michael Cohen can talk about it when he's on the witness stand beginning Monday.


I mean, added to that, we also saw some of these tweets that Donald Trump had issued, two key time periods. One was a few days after the FBI raid of Cohen's home hotel room and office back in April of 2018. And at that point, Trump had tweeted that most people would want Michael Cohen to flip. He said, I don't see Michael doing that.

Fast forward to August 2018, the day after Cohen pleads guilty and implicates Trump in federal court, Trump tweets, I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the service of Michael Cohen if you're looking for a good lawyer. So part of the strategy for the prosecution in those is to show that Donald Trump, perhaps had consciousness of guilt here and knew what was happening and they got those in today too. Those to me were kind of the bigger things of the day.

BERMAN: Documents and tweets to bolster Michael Cohen because presumably, Karen, the prosecution thinks that Michael Cohen needs bolstering. His credibility issues are famous at this point. What do you think the biggest challenge is for the prosecution with Cohen on the stand on Monday?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So in New York State, the words of the testimony of somebody sworn under oath is enough to convict someone beyond a reasonable doubt if the jury credits them. But because Michael Cohen has a criminal history and one of the - his charges is lying under oath, that's problematic. So what the DA's office wants to do is corroborate as much as possible of what they - of what he's saying and so far they've corroborated him 12 ways to Sunday.

I mean, they've corroborated every little detail. And when you're a prosecutor and you have a witness who's telling you stuff like, oh, yes, we talked on the phone. Yes, we went and met in his office. Yes, this happened, that happened and then you go get the records and the records back up what they said, that's corroboration and that's what they're showing the jury.

That being said, of all the evidence that they put in there's still this piece of the link to Trump that I think is dependent on Michael Cohen and that's the one thing that has not been established yet through corroboration. Now, Michael Cohen, we have no idea how he's going to do on the stand. And if past is prelude, you see how aggressive they were with Stormy Daniels. I have a feeling this is going to be similar if not much more aggressive.

BERMAN: Harry, to that point that Karen making, there is this gap in the story that Michael Cohen has to fill in. What is it you think exactly the prosecution needs to have Michael Cohen say on Monday.

HARRY LITMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I really think that they've corroborated almost everything I'd say. They're looking to go 360 degrees. I think there is 10 degrees and left and here's what it is. The statement of facts and the DA is going to elicit this from Cohen says that Trump goes to Weisselberg and Cohen and says you guys take care of this, go away and figure out what to do.

Now, and we know a strong corroboration of that probably the most important document in the case, we have Weisselberg's handwriting. It's been authenticated as his saying the sort of how we get from 130 to 420, but that critical conversation where Trump directs it, I think will be only Cohen. We heard a lot about Weisselberg today and why the jury probably will not hear from him, a very interesting sort of side drama.

But I think other than that and I've thought about pretty carefully, that's the only piece he has to carry independently.

BERMAN: Go figure out what to do. Will it be enough for the prosecution to get him to say that or does Cohen also have to say that Trump knew and or directed them to actually falsify the records?

LITMAN: Okay. Well, so first of these many tweets that came in and they're going to be important for - not just for Cohen but for summation. They're going to have these exhibits, et cetera, and something that came in today was Trump's knowing that these were supposedly contingent payments for legal services each month. That's phony baloney and that will be strong.

Are they going to have - what are they going to have to show as to Trump's intent? Yes, they're going to need to show that he knows as he's signing checks, et cetera, that the - that they are for something different from than what they're really for but they've got a fair bit of evidence of that and that's why the defense is trying to say he's distracted. He signs checks, he multitask, et cetera.

BERMAN: And this is the gap and this is what's going to make ...


BERMAN: ... next week so interesting and this is why Michael Cohen is so important, Errol. You know Michael Cohen.


BERMAN: You have covered Michael Cohen. There is a question, A, can he keep it together in terms of not talking about the trial the next few days of the judge really wants him to and, B, can he keep it together on the stand?

LOUIS: That's right. And those - both of those are very much up in the air. We have to keep in mind that he doesn't have very many ways to make a living Michael Cohen anymore. And one of them is this industry, this anti-Trump industry that he's, this cottage industry that he's cooked up that involves his books, and his podcast and his appearances. And it's very hard to sort of let that go, I think.

And I think also though that especially on cross-examination he is very angry.


I mean, he's been angry on your - on this air. He's been angry in the green room, he's been angry when I've interviewed him, talk with him personally and he has a lot to be angry. He comes by that anger, honestly. He has - he sat in federal prison from his point of view in order to - impart at least, because he was protecting Donald Trump. He wants some revenge. He wants some payback.

The problem of course is that that will affect his credibility the jurors if they see somebody who's enraged clearly vengeful with a financial motive to strike back. It starts to maybe reduce some of it and that 10 percent that we're talking about starts to maybe be a little bit elusive. So it'll be very interesting to see if he's - if he'll have the self-discipline to sort of keep his eye on the larger prize.

The last thing I'll say is I don't know if he knows any other way to be a lawyer, this is somebody who was not arguing the finer points of constitutional law when he was working for Donald Trump. He was a bulldog. He was a fighter. He was a scrapper and I don't think he knows any other way to operate in a courtroom, even if he's a witness.

BERMAN: Yes, the thing is everyone knows what's at stake, Michael Cohen, the prosecution, everyone involved here, you would think this is the one thing they're preparing him for but it still remains an unknown right now.

LITMAN: Twenty-five meetings though. A normal witness went - be one or two, right?

BERMAN: He's still Michael Cohen.

AGNIFILO: Look, I could tell - I was just going to say he's unpreparable, I'm sure. I - like, I've never spoken to him. I have no contact but there are certain people who are unpreparable. They just are who they are.

BERMAN: All right. We're going to talk much more about the case itself, what was before the jury today, the transcripts. Kara Scannell today is going to take over the transcript reading. Right now, a closer look at the man in question in so many ways in his journey from Donald Trump's side to the witness stand, our Randi Kaye has that.


COHEN: He's going to end up winning this election come November because people are seeing through the nonsense.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): That was Michael Cohen in August 2016 defending his former boss Donald Trump and cheering him on to become president. About a year later with Trump in the White House, Cohen told Vanity Fair magazine, I'm the guy who would take a bullet for the president.

In the good old days of their relationship, Cohen forcefully defended Trump at every turn.


COHEN: They say I'm Mr. Trump's pitbull, that I am his - I'm his right hand man.


KAYE (voiceover): Case in point, Cohen threatening a Daily Beast reporter in 2015.


COHEN: I'm warning you, tread very (expletive) lightly, because what I'm going to do you is going to be (expletive) disgusting. Do you understand me?


KAYE (voiceover): Cohen had handled legal matters for Trump for more than a decade. But the relationship soured when Cohen found himself in legal trouble stemming from his dealings with Trump. That's when Cohen went from fixer to foe.


COHEN: Donald cannot keep track of the lies that he tells.

He always cries the victim when he knows he's going to lose.

The man doesn't tell the truth after.


KAYE (voiceover): The FBI raided Cohen's office in 2018 Cohen admitted that just before the 2016 election he'd arranged to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Cohen also secretly recorded Trump talking about a hush money payment to playboy model Karen McDougal. Trump has denied affairs with both women.



COHEN: Good morning.


KAYE (voiceover): Cohen solidified his role as Trump's number one enemy when he pleaded guilty in August 2018 in Manhattan federal court. There were eight criminal counts including campaign finance violations tied to his work for Trump. Cohen said that included the hush money payments to Daniels and McDougal. He implicated his former boss.


COHEN: He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters.


KAYE (voiceover): Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison. Later in 2019, Cohen had harsh words for Trump when he testified before the House Oversight Committee.


COHEN: He is a racist, he is a con man and he is a cheat. In the New York Attorney General's civil lawsuit where Trump was found liable for corporate fraud, Cohen helped seal his fate by testifying that Trump manipulated property values.


LACY CLAY, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE, MISSOURI: Did the president or his company ever inflate assets or revenues.


CLAY: And was that done with the president's knowledge or direction?

COHEN: Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr. Trump.


KAYE (voiceover): In 2018, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to Congress the year before which to some makes him a flawed star witness. Still come Monday, no doubt Cohen will be pointing fingers in Trump's direction again.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach County, Florida.


BERMAN: It will be something. All right. We're back with the panel after the break. Kara Scannell has been going through the trial transcript specifically about the man we have talked so much about and heard so much about so far but have not heard from yet, the former top Trump moneyman, Allen Weisselberg.


Plus, more breaking news. The latest on the very intense solar storms now being felt here and seen here in some very southerly northern lights, but they could potentially cause havoc with the power grid and communications, details ahead.



BERMAN: We are talking tonight about Michael Cohen's upcoming testimony in what he might know about whether the former president had an active role in phonying up any business records of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Right now, we do know this: he was intimately involved with then Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg in the catch-and-kill operation to silence Karen McDougal part of which he recorded in a conversation CNN obtained in July of 2018.


COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David, so that -- I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up and I've spoken ...


COHEN: ... and I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with funding.

TRUMP: So what are we going to do?

COHEN: Yes. And it's all the stuff ...




BERMAN: David is then National Enquirer publisher, David Pecker who is the state's first witness. Allen Weisselberg is the guy now doing time in New York's Rikers Island sent there by one judge, Juan Merchan in - whose name came up in some rather interesting ways during today's proceedings.

Back with the panel and joining us former federal judge, Shira Scheindlin. And we're going to get back to Michael Cohen in just a second.

First, Kara, I want to focus some of the testimony today. Madeleine Westerhout who was a White House aid to Donald Trump was on the stand when court resumed this morning on cross-examination. What did she have to say about the first year of the Trump administration?

SCANNELL: So one of the questions that Susan Necheles, Trump's attorney was focusing on in this period was her - was Donald Trump's conversations with Allen Weisselberg, because he is part of this reimbursement scheme. This is when these checks were being cut and we've heard testimony about how close they are.

So on cross Necheles asked Westerhout, "And you were asked if Allen Weisselberg - you spoke to Weisselberg during when he was President; do you recall that, about checks?" "Yes." Necheles says, "And am I correct that you do not have any specific recollection of Allen Weisselberg and the President -- and President Trump speaking during the first year that President Trump was in office?" Westerhout, "That's correct, yes." Necheles, "And you have a vague recollection that at some point they might have spoken about a check?" Westerhout, "Yes, vaguely, uh-huh."

Necheles, "But you're not even sure that that's true, right?" Westerhout, "No." Necheles, "And in fact, you really don't recall any calls specifically between him and Allen Weisselberg, right?" Westerhout, "No. He spoke to so many people."

So defense trying to use this to say if they were on the phone all the time talking about this reimbursement and cutting of checks that she would have some memory of this. Of course, prosecutors would argue that this was something that maybe they had the one conversation. They were not supposed to talk about it again.

BERMAN: So Harry, Madeleine Westerhout testify that talk to Weisselberg some maybe not all that much, Trump maybe didn't see every check he was signing. Donald Trump really loved his wife and that was what Madeleine Westerhout, a prosecution witness testified to today.

LITMAN: That's the hand they were down and we saw this with Rhona Graff. We saw it with her - these are the witnesses they have. Cohen's the only real infidel. They're otherwise working within the Trump circle like the January 6th Committee did. And you're exactly right. I think maybe the best five minutes or so for Trump in the whole trial, she was very compliant as a witness and really, really aim to please and to make amends for having messed up.

And the main thing I think she wanted to use them for it's - you'll see if there's a single question on re-cross where she just says basically he loves Melania, right? So that is the number one thing they're going to try to use in closing argument and she's the one who gives it to them.

BERMAN: So prosecution witness, but help Trump.

LITMAN: That's right.

BERMAN: Judge, I do want to ask you what Judge Merchan talked about at the end of the day today, which is basically responding to requests for a gag order on Michael Cohen, didn't officially issue a gag order, but basically pleaded with anyone who would listen to get Michael Cohen to shut up.

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, FORMER U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE: That's exactly right. He said tell him that I'm asking him, please, to keep his mouth shut over the next three or three to six days and not say anything about Donald Trump. I'm asking and tell him it comes from me, which is the best he could do.

BERMAN: Why is it the best he (INAUDIBLE) ...

SCHEINDLIN: Well, he can't - no, he can't issue a gag order on a witness, but he's imploring him through the lawyer to not do it because he knows that if he does do it, then Trump responds and then we get another gag order problem and the judge doesn't want that.

LITMAN: But it's not just pretty please, Judge, right? You say that there's muscle behind that when a court says, don't you think?

SCHEINDLIN: It depends who you are if you're Michael Cohen, there may not be muscle behind it.

LITMAN: I bet he's quiet for the next few days.

SCHEINDLIN: Yes, I bet he is.

BERMAN: Interesting. You see this picture we have up on the screen was something that Michael Cohen posted today.



BERMAN: Today.

SCHEINDLIN: The t-shirt, the bars, Donald Trump behind bars.

LITMAN: I don't think so. Wednesday ...

BERMAN: Wednesday, well, it's been posted this week.



BERMAN: So it's something that Michael Cohen has to ...

LITMAN: But today is - yes ...

BERMAN: ... today is when he asked not to do it.

So Kara, tell us the most interesting part of the day to me at least was when the judge after the jury had left starts talking about Allen Weisselberg, explain.

SCANNELL: Yes. So the prosecution wanted to get into evidence the severance agreement that Weisselberg has with The Trump Organization. He is still owed $750,000 under this agreement and there are a couple of terms in the agreement one of which is that you're not to testify against The Trump Organization in an adverse fashion.

So they want to introduce this into evidence to kind of get at why we're not hearing from Allen Weisselberg in this case and he is someone that is part of this conspiracy. So the jury could take some - could read into this that he has some bias and that - that's why he's not here testifying. And so this was something that Trump's lawyers were pushing back on and so the judge saying like whether this is admissible or not, he digs into whether he would or would not testify.


And so he says, "My question is, has anyone attempted to get him to come in, in some way by serving him with a subpoena or in other words try to compel his testimony?" Chris Conroy, a prosecutor, said, "Judge, the People have not." The judge said, "And have you? You have an obligation. Emil Bove said, "No." And why? Because Allen Weisselberg is in Rikers Island. He's in jail.

And so they were saying, well, the judge said it would be helpful to me if you brought him in and we just ask him is he going to assert the Fifth or is he going to answer a question?

BERMAN: So Kara, first of all, yes, I mean it was interesting to hear the judge basically say hey it'd be great for me. So why don't the prosecution? Neither the prosecution nor the defense wants him anywhere near this courtroom.

AGNIFILO: So I'd love to know the answer to that too, because Allen Weisselberg has been all over this trial and the jury is going to notice that. The jury is going to notice he's not here and he should testify for somebody, right? If he's not coming in for the prosecution, they're going to know why, but then they're going to wonder why is he not testifying on behalf of Donald Trump.

When I was a prosecutor I used to love, frankly, when my witnesses were incarcerated, because I knew where to find them and I could have control over them. I can make sure they could come to court. So there's no reason just because he's incarcerated that they can't bring him into court and it's interesting to me. It's like this elephant in the room because he - everyone says Michael Cohen is the key. In some ways, he has the same key.


AGNIFILO: Right? He was the one who has - he's just as a co- conspirator as much as Allen - as Michael Cohen is, as much as Donald Trump is, he has - he could also provide the testimony or the exoneration yet here - he's nowhere to be found.

On balance, I think that actually hurts Donald Trump more because he is expected to be favorable to him. And there's another person too, his bodyguard, Mr. Schiller is another name that the jury has heard about. He was the guy who Stormy Daniels would contact, who was standing outside the hotel room door when they had their little rendezvous. He's also the guy who would accept the checks at the White House and bring them to Donald Trump. So they're hearing that name too wondering where is he and why has Donald Trump not called these two witnesses even though Donald Trump has no obligation to put on a defense or call witnesses. I think the jury is going to wonder in their mind why aren't they testifying.

BERMAN: Errol, Allen Weisselberg has done a lot for Donald Trump.

LOUIS: He has. He has indeed and he's got family members who work in the organization. He's got a lot at stake. He's - but he is in jail right now in part because he lied in a prior court case. He has lied under oath at great cost to himself personally. This is a guy who's - doesn't really belong in jail on a sort of a biological level. He's not doing so well and yet he did it out of loyalty and it's not just financial loyalty. At this point, this is basically his whole life in his whole career.

So it would be, I think, a little bit risky to bring him in. I mean, where does that chain of loyalty break? When and why? I mean, unlike Michael Cohen, who's gone completely outside of The Trump Organization orbit, it sounds like Allen Weisselberg wants to literally live and die within the Trump World.

LITMAN: In terms of what the DA did say, we can't put him on because you won't be able to talk to him in advance.

BERMAN: Right.

LITMAN: Don't know what he'll say. I'm sorry.

SCHEINDLIN: Right. No, I was going to say the same thing. Neither side wants this guy because neither side knows what he's going to say. And you don't call a witness when you don't know what they're going to say. He could hurt the prosecution. He could hurt the defense. So far, he's been a stand-up guy for the defense. He's gone out of his way to protect Trump.

So the DA really doesn't want him, but Trump's not sure either because he doesn't want another perjury wrap.

BERMAN: Judge, 30 seconds or less here, jury instruction. They started floating the discussion like that.


BERMAN: What are the complications there?

SCHEINDLIN: It's very complicated, because it's charged as a felony. Meaning, that the misdemeanor of falsifying business records now has to be with the intent to commit another crime and trying to explain to the jury what they do with that other crime.

First of all, what is it? Is it the 17-152 New York State election law? If so, how do they explain that? What does the jury have to do? Do they tell them the elements? Will that hold up? It's a state law, but it's talking about affecting an election which is a federal election.

So there's legal issues that are very complex in that too, but that's not for the jury. That's for later on appeal.

BERMAN: And it's something the judge is no doubt thinking about in a long ...


BERMAN: ... long time.

All right. Thank you all very much.

Coming up, we have more breaking news. A short time ago, U.S. officials upgraded a powerful solar storm hitting Earth right now into the weekend to a G5 or extreme rating. They say it could wreak havoc with power grids and satellites. We have the latest. Plus, pictures of the beautiful aurora borealis effect the storm is producing in Europe and potentially in the United States. That's next.



BERMAN: All right, we have more breaking news this evening. Just a short time ago, U.S. weather officials officially upgraded an already powerful geomagnetic storm caused by ejections of plasma from the sun, as we all know. Moments ago, it was upgraded to G5 or extreme, that is according to the Space Weather Prediction Center.

This is the first G5 storm in more than 20 years. Fears are that it could disrupt power grids and satellites or the technology used by planes, ocean vessels and emergency response agencies all around the world. But it has also produced something else. We have images of the aurora borealis, the northern lights.

This is typically something you're more likely to see in like northern Canada, Sweden, Norway. Tonight, these images come to us from as far south as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany, and many Americans, perhaps as far south as Georgia and Alabama, may have the chance to see these beautiful sights tonight.

I'm joined now by Meteorologist Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta, and our Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir. First, Chad, to you. What does it mean that this was upgraded to the most extreme G5 level? I didn't know there was a G anything when it came to solar storms.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right, because we did not get a G5 during the last solar cycle, 11 years ago. So when you said it was back in '03, that means, you know, we're two cycles back to get to this G5.


It means that there is extreme plasma in our atmosphere right now, charging power lines, doing all kinds of things to the atmosphere and our infrastructure that we just haven't probably seen the results of yet. We're kind of building because another one of these surges, another surge is going to come about midnight tonight.

Now I know these are pretty pictures and these are solar flares, but we're talking about coronal mass ejections. It is a mass of plasma that is shot out from the sun. You have to watch the very first frame here. Watch the first frame on the very next picture and see how that just goes poof. That is the cloud of plasma.

And why is it important? Because it's not going this way. It's not going north. It's not going -- it's going right at you. It's like someone blowing a smoke ring in your face and you know it's coming. We know this is coming because of the way it ejected from the sun.

The sunspot that this came from is 17 times the diameter of Earth. This is a very large system out there. And now all of a sudden, another coronal mass ejection right there with all of its plasma, set to hit at 430 UTC, Greenwich Mean Time, about 12:30 Eastern Time.

Now, it could be a little bit earlier because all the ones that we thought would be about 5:00 came in, around 1:00 this afternoon. So these are moving faster maybe than even forecast. A significant upgrade from four to five. Five means that power lines are likely to lose power.

Not just possible. We're into the likely category that some of these service providers may not be able to keep up, especially like the rural providers that haven't cut or coops that just haven't maybe kept up or been able to upgrade their systems to keep this out of their lines. We'll see.

Right now, I've looked at And we're doing just fine.

BERMAN: So how does this compare to other geomagnetic storms?

MYERS: Well, the fact that we haven't had one for, you know, 21 years is means that it is big. And then it also means that because we had six to maybe seven of them come out, they're going to be additive. So, yes, we got the first one and maybe even half of a second one, but there's a third and a fourth and a fifth and a sixth still on the way. And these are going to accumulate.

And so the G5 is going to fluctuate. I just noticed it just looked over there and it said G1. But don't let that -- don't look at space weather and say oh, well, that's only if -- it's only a one. They're lying. It's a five. No, it was a five. It's now a one. It's going to be a two, that's going to be a three and it's going to be a five again.

Absolutely by tonight, we're going to see this intense extreme storm continue and it will continue for maybe two or three more days.

BERMAN: So, Bill, Chad just scared me enough about the power grid.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Right. BERMAN: What else is this going to do to us, potentially?

WEIR: Well, this is a good history lesson for context. 1921, the Northern Lights show up in Havana, in Miami, in Panama. A couple days later, the telegraph or a couple hours later, the telegraph system goes haywire in the United States. Operators are able to unplug the battery and send messages over the air.

There was so much electricity. A train station in Albany, New York set on fire when fire -- when the flames lit from the switch there. These big storms, that was probably a G5. I've only hit the Earth like that pre-electrical grid. Now we are all connected by this Rube Goldberg machine of thousands of different utilities hooked together with transmission lines.

There's East Coast, there's West Coast. Texas has their own. They did a study that if the 1921 event were to happen today, it would cause a blackout for 130 million people, close to half of all Americans. And the report estimated a cost of a storm between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. What would it take? Four to 10 years to recover from.

Because when a big -- one of these big pieces of equipment that sends electricity long distances, these transformer blows, these are sort of bespoke pieces of machinery. It takes months to build a new one. And if hundreds of those go out, it can connect it. And that doesn't even get us into the GPS satellites, which get mucked up when this happens, which connects our banking shipping, military, national security, all affected by all that power.

We forget the sun is this thermonuclear bomb that has been going off for 4 billion years. And the energy coming off of it really hurts.

BERMAN: You might have a long night.

WEIR: Yes. We got a lot to talk about.

BERMAN: Bill Weir, all right, listen. Thank you so much for being here, Chad and Bill.

And just a programming note, tonight at 10:00 Eastern, Bill Weir and Abby Phillip will co-anchor our special on this event, CNN News Night, Severe Solar Storm. This is going to be something to watch for the next few days.

And next, we have a CNN exclusive. What we are learning about reports of Palestinians being shackled, abused, and made to wear diapers at a shadowy detention center in Israel. What Israeli whistleblowers told CNN's Matthew Chance, and what the Israeli military is saying now about the allegations.



BERMAN: Late today, the Biden administration released a long awaited report finding it, quote, "reasonable" to assess Israel used American weapons in Gaza in ways that are, quote, "inconsistent," end quote, with international law. The report, however, stopped short of officially concluding that Israel committed violations.

Meantime, three Israeli now, whistleblowers, are talking to CNN about what they say is the abuse of Palestinian detainees. They were rounded up during Israel's invasion of Gaza and held in an Israeli military base doubling as a detention center. We do want to warn you that what you are about to see and hear is graphic.

CNN's Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Matthew Chance has the exclusive.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a place the Israeli military doesn't want us to see. But at the Sde Teiman facility in southern Israel, we joined human rights activists amid growing concern for Palestinian detainees inside.


CHANCE: This is a protest by Israeli citizens outside a detention center close to Gaza, where we know hundreds of Palestinians been held. You can see it's a closed military facility. It's behind a barbed wire fence. We're not permitted access.

CHANCE (voice-over): And there's hostility from passersby.

CHANCE: We just had somebody drive past in a car and they shouted out to us in Hebrew --


CHANCE: -- you're defending murderers.


CHANCE: You're defending -- what do you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. We're defending basic human rights.

CHANCE (voice-over): And now CNN has gained exclusive evidence of prisoner abuse at Sde Teiman from multiple Israeli whistleblowers who've witnessed what happens inside. One young Israeli reservist told us he saw scores of detainees at Sde Teiman shackled and blindfolded. We've hidden his identity and voice to shield him from prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were told they are not allowed to move and must sit upright. They're not allowed to talk or peek under their blindfolds.

CHANCE: And what happened if they did do that? What kind of punishments would be set out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were allowed to pick out problematic people and punish them, having them stand with their hands above their heads for an unlimited time. If they didn't keep their hands up, we could zip tie them to the fence.

CHANCE (voice-over): The Israeli military says detainees are handcuffed based on their risk level and health status. But the account tallies with photographic evidence obtained by CNN of Palestinian detainees inside Sde Teiman. And with hand and wrist injuries shown to CNN by dozens of Palestinians released back into Gaza.

I was zip tied and blindfolded, says this former detainee, and tortured in a way I never imagined.

One source telling us the restraints were so tight they had to amputate a man's hand.

CHANCE: The view that I've heard expressed is that, you know, how do you think Israeli hostages are treated by Hamas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This sentiment was voiced in the facility, but I think that if Hamas is so abominable, which I agree with, then why use Hamas as a bar? It's a descent into dehumanization.

CHANCE (voice-over): A descent that's accelerated. Since the rampage by Hamas on October 7th last year, the killing and abduction to Gaza of hundreds of Israelis provoked outrage and a brutal response.

Amid Israel's wrath, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed, and thousands detained for interrogation. Transported to facilities like Sde Teiman where one Israeli guard now tell CNN prisoners are routinely beaten. We've hidden his identity and voice too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You can take them out and hit them maybe four or five times with a club. The detainees lie belly down being hit and kicked. People screaming and dogs barking at them. It's terrifying. Some detainees are taken away and beaten really hard. So bones and teeth are broken.

CHANCE: So you saw people who were subject to these beatings, who had their bones broken and who had their teeth broken?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, it's a practice which commanders know about. They want intelligence, but they also want revenge and punishment for what happened on October 7th.

CHANCE (voice-over): The Israeli military hasn't approved CNN's requests for access to Sde Teiman. But at the gates of the facility, we challenged the Israeli guards.

CHANCE: How many Palestinians are in there right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I prefer not to answer it.

CHANCE: Do you know if they're being handcuffed? Are they being blindfolded?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the facility.

CHANCE (voice-over): As we leave, masked soldiers approach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. How are you?

CHANCE: I'm filming this place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot film anything here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you guys?

CHANCE: We're from CNN.


CHANCE (voice-over): They tried to take our cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me please now. Give me please now.

CHANCE: Hang on, what is it that you want? My camera or my card?

CHANCE (voice-over): Then order us to leave.

CHANCE: Well, we're driving now to meet one of Israeli with personal experience of the Sde Teiman facility. It's experience that he says has left him shocked at the condition and the medical treatment of Palestinian detainees there.

CHANCE (voice-over): He told us he treated Palestinian detainees with gunshot wounds fresh from the war zone in Gaza, but was appalled at the lack of equipment and expertise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The problem is, Gazans who are brought in are labeled as terrorists, and it is very popular opinion over here that terrorists deserve to die, so they do not deserve the same medical care as everyone else.

CHANCE (voice-over): Satellite imagery obtained by CNN shows how the Sde Teiman facility was expanded after the October 7th attacks, with detention facilities and makeshift medical bays being added after public hospitals in Israel refused to treat injured Gazan suspects.


Eyewitness accounts described a field hospital with 15 to 20 patients virtually naked and blindfolded with hands and feet shackled to their beds, and wearing diapers. One eyewitness told CNN painful procedures were carried out by underqualified medics, treatment the medical worker told us amounts to punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In my view, it's the idea of total vulnerability. If you imagine being unable to move, being unable to see what's going on, that's something that borders if not crosses into psychological torture.

CHANCE (voice-over): The Israeli military says prisoners are stripped for security checks and that investigations are opened when there's suspicion of misconduct. Still, accounts from Israelis and Palestinians inside and the shocking images paint a disturbing picture.


CHANCE (on-camera): Well, John, there's been reaction already from the White House. They're saying they're deeply disturbed by the outcome of this investigation from CNN and are reaching out to their counterparts in Israel to try and get answers. And they say they want good answers because this really cuts to one of the big concerns about Israel's actions in Gaza since the Hamas attacks on October the 7th.

Whether the country is following the right strategy or not, already, there's a big debate in Israel about whether too much emphasis has been placed on destroying Hamas instead of releasing the hostages. Now, Israelis are increasingly concerned that Israel may be stepping over its own moral boundaries as it seeks retribution for what happened last year. John?

BERMAN: We'll see how this report shapes that discussion. Matthew Chance, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up, the latest on the shooting death of a U.S. airman by a Florida Sheriff's deputy, including dispatch audio newly obtained by CNN. Our Nick Valencia joins us next.



BERMAN: CNN has obtained police dispatch audio surrounding the shooting of 23-year-old senior U.S. Airman Roger Fortson last week by a Florida Sheriff's deputy. This comes after a release of video from a police body camera as well as a FaceTime call involving Fortson's girlfriend the moment of the shooting.

CNN's Nick Valencia reports.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Newly obtained police dispatch audio reveals the first call came in around 4:00 p.m. on May 3rd about a physical disturbance in progress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't have any further other than a male and female. It's all fourth party information through the front desk at the leasing office.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Around 4:29 p.m. the four-minute police body camera video begins with an Okaloosa County Florida Sheriff's deputy arriving on the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was saying that it happens frequently.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But this time it sounded like he was getting out of hand.

VALENCIA (voice-over): A woman at the complex tells the deputy she heard yells and a slap coming from the apartment two weeks ago, but wasn't sure exactly where it came from. Eventually, she directs the deputy to fourth floor apartment 1401, the home of 23-year-old senior airman Roger Fortson, saying the girl who made the call about the physical disturbance sounded scared.

At 4:31 p.m., the deputy knocks once without introducing himself. Roughly 30 seconds later, he knocks again twice. A warning that you're about to see over the next 20 seconds is graphic.

Fortson, who appears in the body camera video to have a lowered firearm in his right hand, was shot six times to the chest. He survived the initial shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3-12, you miss my location.

VALENCIA (voice-over): But was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

MEKA FORTSON, MOTHER OF ROGER FORTSON: My baby was my everything. Roger was my third son. Where we come from, you don't end up where Roger end up.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Adding to their pain, Fortson's family believes deputies went to the wrong address, a claim that the sheriff disputed while defending his deputy's actions. Ben Crump, Natalie Jackson and Brian Barr represent the family. They say the initial police statement was misleading and left out key details of the shooting.

BRIAN BARR, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF ROGER FORTSON: It makes you think this happened outside. That this kid was in the middle of a disturbance. And he did something. He instigated this and lost his life. That's what it makes it sound like. It's sounding like justified.

SHERIFF ERIC ADEN, OKALOOSA COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are aware of a press release and other comments that falsely state our deputy entered the wrong apartment and imply that they burst through the door into Mr. Fortson's residence.

VALENCIA (voice-over): During the shooting, the airman was on a FaceTime call with his girlfriend, who Crump says told him there was never a disturbance at Fortson's home. Crump says Fortson had been home alone just 30 minutes before the deputy arrived.

He heard two knocks at the door and when he couldn't see anyone through the peephole, Crump said, citing the girlfriend, then Fortson grabbed his gun which Crump said he legally owned. In the girlfriend's FaceTime video, we hear Fortson struggle to breathe after the shooting as he lies on the floor bleeding out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not move. Stop moving.

VALENCIA (voice-over): The deputy is now on paid administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates.


VALENCIA: The state attorney's office in Okaloosa County tells me that they're going to wait for the FDLE to finish its investigation before they decide whether to pursue charges. And earlier, I got a hold of the chief assistant state attorney there, Greg Anchors, and he's seen the video, but he refused to comment when I asked him to.

He also added that it's just too early for them to do anything with the case, saying that there's no expected timeline for the FDLE to finish their investigation. John?

BERMAN: All right, Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.