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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Judge Denies Trump Lawyer's Request To Modify Gag Order; Trump's Team Again Asks For Mistrial In Hush Money Case; Biden On CNN: U.S. Will Not Give Israel Weapons To Attack Rafah; New Body Cam Video From Deadly Shooting Of Airman. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 09, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We have some breaking news right now, the judge in Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial is considering several motions for the defense and will rule at any moment on Mr. Trump's motion for mistrial. The judge has also just denied Mr. Trump's request to modify his gag order. CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is here along with Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor for the Manhattan DA's office.

While we watch for these defense motions to play out, here's one of the things going on. Merchan is saying of Susan Necheles, why on earth she wouldn't object to the mention of a condom. I don't understand. This is because Susan Necheles said that it was a dog whistle to mention that Donald Trump had sex with Stormy Daniels, allegedly, although he disputes it, without a condom, a dog whistle for rape.

Some of the headlines coming in from the courtroom right now as the judge discusses this motion for mistrial. The judge said in going back to the very opening statements, Mr. Blanche, the defense attorney, in your opening statement, you denied there was ever a sexual encounter between Stormy Daniels and the defendant. And that is the point that he's raising there, Paula Reid and Jeremy, is that by denying it, you put her credibility at issue. And by doing that, you opened the door for the prosecution to ask her to tell the story. Is that right?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And then when there were certain details you didn't like about using protection, you didn't object. And it's interesting, the judge revealed that he's going back and actually reviewing the transcript. He looked at the whole transcript from Tuesday and he said he was satisfied with what came in. He admonished them for not making more objections.

So it doesn't appear that they're going to win on this motion for a mistrial. We didn't expect that. It's something they have to do, but it doesn't look good for them right now.

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER PROSECUTOR, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Yes, they're not winning. And I think to your point, Paula, he's going back, he's reading the transcript, he's certainly on top of his game. He knows what they said and didn't say. And again, why didn't you object to this point? You didn't object to it.

And then you open the door to start out of the gate, that's on you.

TAPPER: I am no attorney, but it does seem a fairly obvious knee jerk reaction objection that she says he didn't wear a condom. Object like immediately.

REID: Yes.

TAPPER: Like what? There's not going to be a punishment.

SALAND: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Paula.

REID: I mean, I'd be interested to hear your perspective. Because I do think that it's possible that she was focused on a few different things because she was preparing, you know, for this cross. She's managing her client, but this is her job to pay attention. There were multiple times, though, when Trump had to kind of tap her and nudge her to object. But it is a glaring omission.

SALAND: There's times when a judge will actually take it upon his or herself and say, sustained, and, oh, I got to pay attention, I got to pay attention, because you can be multitasking, I get that. But when you have this client in this form and this that much at stake, you're on that a game. And you're also not one attorney. You have multiple attorneys who could be assisting you doing other things. Object, object, object.

TAPPER: And in fact, as you suggested, the motion for mistrial was just denied by Judge Merchan. Here's Mr. Trump, the defendant. Let's listen to what he has to say.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened today, I don't think we have to do any explaining. I'm not allowed to anyway because this judge is corrupt. He's a corrupt judge. This judge, what he did and what his ruling was is a disgrace.

Everybody saw what happened today. He's a corrupt judge and he's totally conflicted. And I got to get back on the campaign trail. I'm not supposed to be here. We are so innocent.

There's never been anything like it. Read every single analyst, legal analyst. I'm innocent and I'm being held in this court with a corrupt judge who's totally conflicted. Take a look at his conflict. It's a disgrace to the city of New York, to the state of New York and to the country. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel like everything is messed up?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you wish you got (inaudible).

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: All right. The defendant, Donald J. Trump, saying that he doesn't have to talk about what happened in court because everybody saw and he went after the judge, Juan Merchan, calling him a corrupt judge. And we should note, Jeremy and Paula, he's allowed to go after the judge. The judge is not covered in the gag order.

So probably his attorney said, just don't talk about Stormy. Say whatever you want about the judge and go forth.

REID: Yes, that's exactly what he did. Right? Get it all out of your system. Take it all out on Juan Merchan. But I mean, he's insisting that he is a corruption judge.

There's no evidence that he's a corrupt judge. They have objected to him overseeing this case because of work that the judge's daughter does on behalf of a political organization that creates ads for Democratic politicians, including Adam Schiff. But that is not something so far that has prompted him to have to recuse himself from the case. When I was in that courtroom, I saw no evidence that he was biased. In fact, he sustained a lot of objections. And again, I go back to his ruling on the alleged violations of the gag order.


He seems to view this in some way that, yes, does have some political speech, and they have had a lot of wins under this judge.

TAPPER: And we should also note that Donald Trump also said in that little speech he just delivered that he was innocent. And again, by saying he's innocent, that kind of feeds into one of the reasons why he's so mad, because by denying that anything ever happened, they put Stormy Daniel's credibility at issue and the prosecution could then open the door and say, tell us your story, which has made him very, very angry.

SALAND: Yes, I'll tell you this much, he's not that -- he's not that I have the chutzpah to get in that courtroom and say that on the stand. He's not going to say any of this on the stand because he would run afoul and run amok and find himself cross examined and impeached in ways that he can never fathom. And it's really, I had an abyssal response when I hear him speak, and I can't stress enough, and I've said it so many times in that courtroom, he is as guilty as you or me. He's innocent until proven guilty --

TAPPER: Right. Of course.

SALAND: -- beyond a reasonable doubt. But when he steps out of that courtroom, what he says is so despicable and so undermining of the criminal justice system and the foundation of our country that he should stop running his mouth and people should stop allowing him. You know, maybe if Blanche would actually, you know, object in the courtroom and not stand silent like he's standing next to his client outside the courtroom, we'd be in a much better place. Donald Trump would be in a much better place. But it's horrible.

TAPPER: What do you find -- specifically, what do you find despicable? The accusations that the judge is correct?

SALAND: No matter what happens in that courtroom, unless it goes his way and we've seen this in the previous case, right, in the civil matter with the attorney general's office, he comes out and he attacks the system of the criminal justice system, attacks the judge and he undermines the credibility of law and order. And if that's the bar that people are now going to have, that's really problematic for the next person who comes in line and says, Donald Trump said this, Donald Trump did this, so why can't I? He was far more egregious and he's undermining the credibility of law enforcement. You are innocent and fight your case in that courtroom. Do whatever it takes, but stop saying this out of the courtroom.

Stop when you have this pulpit and people listen and imbibe upon it and consume it like they do. It's dangerous and he needs to stop.

TAPPER: Well, I'll tell you what, if people are seeing this and say, I'm going to do that if I ever get in trouble with the law, they're going to find out that they're going to be treated much harshly.

SALAND: Two systems of justice.

TAPPER: Much more harshly than Mr. Trump is being treated. They will be thrown in prison for violating a gag order.

Judge Merchan just denied the motions for a mistrial as well as any modifications to Trump's gag order. Let's bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel now.

And Jamie, what are your thoughts here as Judge Merchan slaps both of these motions from the defense down? No, you have no grounds for mistrial. No, I'm not going to modify the gag order.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, let's just remember Judge Merchan has a great reputation. He is known to run a tight courtroom, that he has judicious temperament, and that he is very fair to both sides. I think Paula said a little bit earlier today that Trump's team has gotten a lot of wins with him.

I think it's also important because it goes back to Stormy Daniels testimony, the fact that -- look, we don't know, let's see what the jurors take away from it, but Stormy Daniels testified that Donald Trump didn't seem to care about his wife. These are some of the details that Trump's team was -- is now objecting to, that they slept in separate rooms, that he didn't wear a condom, that he didn't ask her at the time to keep it confidential. Those points are critical to the case that the prosecutors are making that maybe he was concerned about his family, but that two weeks before the election, what Trump was really concerned about was the election. And that goes to the fraudulent business records.

TAPPER: And Jamie, we heard testimony from Madeleine Westerhout, Trump's former --

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: -- personal assistant at the White House. We're told she cried a little bit on the stand.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: Trump insiders say she's potentially an important witness because just like Hope Hicks, she was privy to a lot, she saw a lot at the White House.

GANGEL: I think her testimony was actually fascinating. Once again, this is someone who is not a hostile witness to Donald Trump. In fact, the only two witnesses that I think that we're going to see who are hostile to Trump would be Stormy Daniels, and when he takes the stand, Michael Cohen. But her testimony was fascinating because she was able to testify that people at the RNC were rattled, were panicked after Access Hollywood. That sets the stage for why there would be the concern and the payment at the end of October.

She also, however, when the defense got up under cross, she talked about the relationship between Donald Trump and his wife, Melania. And there was one quote here that I thought was great. She said, there was really no one else who could put him in his place, she's talking about Melania. He was my boss. She was definitely the one in charge.


When someone gives that kind of testimony, you have to wonder the jurors, it's very credible. So, she's not hostile. She's saying something nice about the relationship and the family. On the other hand, she's giving the context that Donald Trump micromanaged everything was on top of every detail and that people were rattled about Access Hollywood.

TAPPER: All right, Jamie Gangel, thanks so much. Appreciate your insights.

In just a moment, I was inside the courtroom today, I'll show you what I saw as Donald Trump's defense team tried to pick apart testimony from adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels, a key witness for the prosecution, trying to prove Trump himself knew about the falsified records, trying to hide this hush money payment to hide the alleged affair. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Welcome back. And we are still in Manhattan after a fascinating day inside the courthouse, courtroom 59, where Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial is ongoing. I got to go there today. I spent hours in court watching Mr. Trump or the back of his head. The days key witness, Stormy Daniels, the legal teams Judge Juan Merchan, he often held his head in his hands like this, the jury.


I'm a failed cartoonist. I happen to have an iPad along with me, along with some art software. So since cameras are not allowed in the courtroom, I decided to show you what I saw the best I could, arts, interpretive, obviously. Courtroom sketch artists, masterworks, like Jane Rosenberg. Her work's awesome.

Although, look, if you look at this picture from my seat, and she had a better seat than me, from my seat, Donald Trump never was looking directly at Stormy Daniels. That's not what I saw from where I was sitting. To me, it looked more like this sketch done by artist Christine Cornel, where Donald Trump is looking straight ahead, kind of at the judge or at the monitor in front of him, not directly at Stormy Daniels, who's off to the right. And again, I was sitting in the cheap seats. They had better seats, and they're better artists as well.

But let's walk through this so you can see former President Trump on the left. He's leaning back in his chair, motionlessly expressionless, staring straight ahead instead of looking off to the right where Stormy was on the right side, she's on the stand. In the bottom right, that's Trump's lawyer Susan Necheles. She was questioning Daniels. It's kind of like a podium they have there for whoever is the lawyer doing cross or redirect.

For the jurors who would be on the right, but I didn't draw them because I get in trouble, watching that cross examination was like watching a tennis match or a game of ping pong constant back and forth. For the most part, Stormy Daniels was mostly serious, businesslike. She was grilled by the defense with questions about whether she profited off her relationship with Trump, questions about her credibility. There are a lot of moments like this one I'm trying to depict in this picture here where she's looking -- where the witness looks at the screens. There are a lot of screens throughout the room, slightly fewer cops, but also a lot of cops throughout the room.

Susan Necheles accused Stormy of having said she would be essential, integral to Trump going to jail. Stormy said, where did I say that? Necheles showed this tweet where a Trump supporter called her a human toilet, and she said she would be the perfect one to flush the orange turd. I don't know if we have that tweet, but it would be great to show it.

In court today, the former president -- there it is, making me the best person to flush the orange turd down. In court today, the former president would occasionally turn and whisper to his attorney, Todd Blanche. At one point, Trump was writing on a notepad. The prosecution and defense side barred with Judge Merchan a lot of times while I was in court. And it was really weird because although you don't see pictures of this and we're not allowed to listen to it, but up to nine lawyers all huddle up the bench, Judge Merchan stands up, leans over, they have the private little conversation. Unfortunately, those of us in the courtroom, you're not allowed to -- you're allowed to use binoculars during court but not during sidebars, because they're worried that were going to be able to lip read, which is not a talent I have.

But I also met some members of the public today who were there for what I was told, they said there are five seats available for them in the room and others -- more seats in the overflow. One of them got there at 12:30 in the morning. He was second in line behind a guy that stands in lines for a living. He's a Trump supporter. He wanted to see it for himself.

Anyway, that's what I saw. I want to bring in "The Washington Post," Perry Stein, and the Wall Street's Journal, Corinne Ramey.

Corinne, let me start with you. What stood out most to you in court today?

CORINNE RAMEY, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think one thing that stood out to me was that Daniel's really seemed to hold her own, like she was asked a lot of tough questions about particularly how her story may have changed over the years --

TAPPER: Which it does seem to have.

RAMEY: It absolutely has.

TAPPER: Yes, yes.

RAMEY: And, you know, witnesses are prepped for this. They're ready for it. But I think to hear the questions for hours and hours about her lack of credibility, her story changing, her social media history, she dealt with it well. She kept her cool. And, you know, at times you mentioned like a ping pong match, it went like that.

TAPPER: Yes. The jurors are going like this the whole time, right?

RAMEY: Yes, yes. At times they started talking on top of each other and she -- yes, she pushed back.

TAPPER: What do you think?

PERRY STEIN, JUSTICE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I mean, I was really looking to see after that striking testimony on Tuesday in which Stormy Daniels, I think, gave some pretty unexpected stuff where she described it at what could be construed. She didn't use these words as a kind of non -- what an unwanted sexual encounter. So I'm talking to see --

TAPPER: Yes, not that it wasn't consensual, but that she --

STEIN: Yes, she was -- everyone, you have to be careful how you interpret it, which is why I was so curious to see how the defense would respond to this. And, you know, they went hard after her. As you said, they really tried to strike down her credibility. And Stormy Daniels, I mean, her response was, she had some sharp responses. What was it when they tried to paint her as someone who concocted all these stories in the porn industry and in her reality T.V. career?

She goes, oh, well, if I had actually written and made this one up, I would have written it much better.


TAPPER: Right.

STEIN: So, she was ready to respond to their attacks. But, yes, I mean, I was very curious how they would respond to what happened on the stand, which I thought was unexpected on Tuesday.

TAPPER: Yes, it was -- you know, it's so strange. I wonder what you guys think about this. To me, it's just so strange because you have the momentousness of this trial, a former president and the presumptive republican presidential nominee on trial, criminal court. And the charges are really at times gross and they seem small and seedy and, you know, the orange turd reference. And it just seems it's discordant in a way. You know what I mean?

RAMEY: I mean, I think this week in court, it was a very discordant week. You know, that first day we had -- on Monday, we had all the testimony about checks and invoices and ledgers.

TAPPER: Right.

RAMEY: It was incredibly Monday.

TAPPER: Right.

RAMEY: And I could see the jury kind of glazing over a little bit as, like, all these words you could barely read went over the screen. And they went through every -- the prosecutors went through every single document very methodically. And then the next day, Stormy Daniels gets on the stand. And it's just a totally different tone in the courtroom and a totally different level of interest from the jury, too.

TAPPER: Yes, I think that's fair. And also, like, one of the things that the defense was trying to make clear was Stormy Daniels has been making money off this. She says it's been a net negative, but they say she's been making money of it. They show her merch.

STEIN: Right.

TAPPER: They show the hashtag team Stormy t-shirts, pink on black, the Stormy Daniels and saint indictments, prayer candle, whatever. I mean, just weird stuff.

STEIN: Right. I mean, yes. I don't know what you're allowed to say here, but they did do --

TAPPER: You're allowed to say anything.

STEIN: They did. They really went into the tours that she did around this --

TAPPER: To make America horny again tour.



STEIN: That's what I was not going to say, but yes.

TAPPER: They said it in court a hundred times. We're allowed to say it on T.V. STEIN: Yes. And then you -- yes. And then at the end, you saw Todd Blanche really try to -- her attorney tried to bring it back and say, this is not a case about sex. This is a case about falsification of records. So he was really trying to bring it back. And, you know, he wants all this testimony to be disregarded. This is why he said there should be a mistrial.


STEIN: And, you know, so he was trying at the end, at the last few minutes, the court to bring it back. It didn't seem the judge agreed with him.

TAPPER: Yes. And the judge ruled against the mistrial --


TAPPER: -- again.



TAPPER: Good to see you guys. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

STEIN: Good to see you too.

TAPPER: The witness back on the stand tomorrow, Trump's personal assistant. She sat right outside the oval. My next guest knew her well. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Today, in Donald Trump's hash money cover up trial, we heard from Madeleine Westerhout. That is a former Trump assistant at the White House. Her desk was just outside the Oval Office. She'll be back on the witness stand tomorrow. Let's bring Alyssa Farah Griffin.

She was the communications director in Trump's White House. So, you know Madeleine Westerhout. Tell us about her, why she might be an important witness, and what is she like?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I wasn't surprised to hear her name called because actually when Hope Hicks was on the stand, I was thinking Madeleine sat right in the outer oval with Hope in the early days of the Trump administration. So she was his executive assistant, but very much a gatekeeper. This was an unlike any other White House, where you would go through her to get an audience with the president. Cabinet secretaries would call her, they would reach out to her, but also her proximity physically to the resolute desk where the president would take his meetings throughout the day. She could see him.

She could likely hear conversations if the door was open. She's somebody who was well liked in Trump world. I don't have a bad thing to say about Maddie. She also -- I think she's somebody who presents very well. That came through in what were hearing, she's smiling to the jury.

She's, you know, acknowledging the former president. I have yet to see what she offers specifically on this case, other than to simply verify that he did pay attention to both his finances and, like, documents around his finances and communications in general, so very much corroborating Hope Hicks in that regard.

TAPPER: Do you doubt the charges? I mean, do you doubt that, like, there were -- that there was a falsification of business records to hide this hush money payment and that he knew about Michael Cohen doing it?

GRIFFIN: I don't doubt for a minute that he had the affair, that he paid hush money, and that he tried to cover it up. But if I'm being honest, I'm not an attorney, I have yet to see the connection on the falsifying business records. I think that's where a lot of people watching this would stand.

By the way, I think a lot of people, Republican voters, unfortunately, have made peace with the fact that this affair likely happened, and they just frankly don't care. So it is that --

TAPPER: I don't know if I call it an affair.

GRIFFIN: Well, OK. Not romantic as they describe.

TAPPER: This rendezvous. This rendezvous, yes.

GRIFFIN: This rendezvous. But I think that people are going to need to see a very clear link to willingly falsifying those records. I think they've established it was for campaign intent, that was part of it, but that is the piece that I've yet to see.

TAPPER: Do you think at all that, especially with the magnitude of the other charges against him, also credible charges? I'm not saying he's guilty or innocent, but there -- it's a case --


TAPPER: -- when it comes to January 6, when it comes to classified documents. Do you think there is the risk that voters will look at this case and think what?

GRIFFIN: It also -- it creates fatigue. I'm devastated. And I was talking to, I've got a text thread with former Trump White House officials who testified against him in January 6, and we just are stunned that this is the case we're getting before the election. That with all the evidence that was done, the committee work, the Department of Justice, it's very likely the public will not get a resolution on the January 6 charges ahead of the election. It is so much more important than anything that's been debated in this courtroom today. And it also is what would have influence with voters. The testimony that we would hear from someone like his former vice president, his former chief of staff on his actions to try to overturn the election, his lead up to January 6 and the violence that day. And instead, we're hearing this sort of tawdry, gross thing about something that he did that. I have no doubt he did, but it doesn't impact our democracy the way this other case does.


TAPPER: Yes. All right Alyssa Farrah Griffin, it's always great to see you, especially in person. Thanks for being here.

Also this hour, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling his country today Israel is ready to stand alone to defeat the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. The statement came just one day after President Biden's comments in a CNN exclusive interview with Erin Burnett, saying that if Israel's military operation goes into Gaza's southern city of Rafah, the U.S. will stop supplying certain weapons to Israel. And that's not the only reaction coming in. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Back with our World Lead, and a flood of reaction from around the world after major news was made here on CNN. In his most stark warning yet, President Biden told CNN's Erin Burnett that he does not support a major Israeli invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza. And the United States will withhold specific U.S. weapons if Israel invades the major Palestinian population center. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem. We're going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks that came out of the Middle East recently. But it's just wrong. We're not going to supply the weapons and the artillery shells.



TAPPER: Let's get right to CNN's Clarissa Ward in Jerusalem and Alex Marquardt back in D.C. Clarissa, quite a flurry of response from Israeli officials to what Mr. Biden told Erin Burnett. Radical, racist, far right security minister Ben-Gvir tweeted, quote, Hamas hearts Biden, that's not sitting too well among other members of Israel's government. What's going on?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we heard from Benny Gantz giving a sort of slap down to Ben-Gvir for that post on X. But he has also been pretty vocal about the disappointment that Israeli officials are feeling about President Biden's decision, saying, quote, the U.S. has the moral and strategic obligation to Israel with the necessary tools. We also heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying, listen, we will go it alone if we have to go it alone.

He said, we will fight with our fingernails. And we also heard from the IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari. He said, we have the weapons we need to push ahead in Rafah. So the question is now, does Israel take the warning? What do they do with this very pointed, very public repudiation? We're hearing from the delegation that was on the ground in Cairo for those talks that they communicated to mediators that they are pushing ahead with fighting inside Rafah.

And meanwhile, Jake, all sorts of alarm bells going off about the state of affairs inside Rafah, those border crossings have largely been closed. Some dispute about how many trucks were able to get through Kerem Shalom today. The Israelis saying dozens, the U.S. saying some, the U.N. saying none. And the U.N.'s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, taking two X with a very, very stark post saying, quote, for three consecutive days, nothing and no one has been allowed in or out of Gaza.

The closure of the crossings means no fuel, it means no trucks, no generators, no water, no electricity and no movement of people or goods. It means no aid. Our supplies are stuck. Our teams are stuck. Civilians in Gaza are being starved and killed, and we are prevented from helping them. This is Gaza today even after seven months of horror. Jake?

TAPPER: And Alex, your sources tell you there's now a, quote, pause in ceasefire talks. But earlier this week, the White House was maintaining optimism. Has that completely disappeared?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's dissipating, Jake. I mean, certainly we heard a lot of optimism from U.S. officials throughout the week who said that the gaps between Israel and Hamas could be bridged. That was the attitude. The White House said today that CIA Director Burns went out to the Middle East with. But they admitted today that those gaps have not been closed.

Burns is on his way back to the United States. The Israeli and Hamas delegations have gone back. Essentially the talks have broken down, though the mediators will continue to talk. They haven't completely given up hope, but certainly they are in a pause, as I've been told by two U.S. officials. And those officials frankly blamed the Israeli military operation into Rafah.

So the White House's John Kirby said that they are not giving up hope, but he said what is needed now is moral leadership and moral courage by both sides. Jake?

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt in D.C., Clarissa Ward in Jerusalem. Thanks to both of you. President Joe Biden's warning to Israel and Netanyahu has unified Republicans in condemning President Biden.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): It puts Israel's national security interests at risk. This is insane.

SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): Why is it on hold? To appease his liberal base in places like Dearborn, Michigan because Joe Biden's in trouble in Michigan.

SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): He is playing into the pro-Hamas wing of the Democratic Party.


TAPPER: It continues to also expose divisions among Democrats. His action drawing praise from progressive Democrats such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who posted on X, quote, President Biden enforcing conditions on U.S. military aid and holding the Israeli government to the same bar we hold all our allies to is the responsible, secure and just thing to do.

On the other hand, you have criticism from other Democrats such as Pennsylvania Democratic Senator John Fetterman.


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I am concerned about that and I don't agree with the President. It demonstrates the Hamas that they are winning the PR war and things. And also the President cares about the casualties, innocents in Gaza and Hamas doesn't. And that's part of the plan. So they are exploiting compassion.


TAPPER: Let's bring in our panel of political voices. And Jamal, let me start with you because let's talk about the politics of this and whether or not that was part of the calculation President Biden made. Last night, Erin Burnett asked President Biden if he had heard the message coming from the young Americans who have been calling him Genocide Joe. Here's what he had to say.



BIDEN: Absolutely. I hear the message. Look, two things. First of all, there's a legitimate right to free speech and protest. There's a legitimate right to do that, and they have a right to do that. There's not a legitimate right to use hate speech. There's not a legitimate right to threaten Jewish students. There's not a legitimate right to block people access to class. That's against the law.


TAPPER: But do you think, how much do you think his move when it comes to Israel and Rafah is because of domestic political considerations?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems to me that it's because of a variety of things. First of all, the President has been a steadfast ally of the Israeli government, Israeli people, while he's had some conflict with the Israeli prime minister, with Babibi Netanyahu. But it is also clear that there are people in the American side, not just Democrats, but other people, who believe that you can both try to secure Israel and try to protect Palestinian women and children from dying in large numbers.

That seems like a false choice for people who say you don't -- you can't do both at the same time. So I think the Democratic Party is wrestling with this issue because the President is the one that's in charge and the Republicans are the one playing politics.

TAPPER: What do you think?

JASON OSBORNE, FORMER BEN CARSON CAMPAIGN SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's an interesting dynamic here in the sense that he's appeasing the folks that are on the far left in this argument. And those are the folks that at the end of the day in November, they're not going to go to Trump. They're going to stay either with Biden or they're just going to stay home. Versus the folks in the middle who were all trying, both sides are trying to compete for to come back over either to Trump's side or stay with Biden. He's losing that support.

And I think at the end of the day, he ends up hurting himself more on this issue because he's -- the appearance wise kowtowing to these minority, vocal minority folks on campuses that are protesting.

TAPPER: OK. But do you think that there's a domestic political consideration at play here --

OSBORNE: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- that's why he's doing this?

OSBORNE: Hundred percent, because I think his most outspoken allies, at least on the far left, the progressives, that are trying to get out in Michigan, in Wisconsin, in some real key battleground areas are the ones that are the most vocal against him and what he's doing or against Israel on this and asking for ceasefire.


TAPPER: Go ahead.

SIMMONS: But the President is still sending weapons to Israel. He's passed a huge package. What he said is not 2,000 pound bombs to drop in the middle of a densely populated city. That's a very different, maybe a little bit more nuanced conversation to have. I was with some young people last night, and many of them were students and many of them were protesters. And we saw the story that came across the wire that this is what the President --

TAPPER: What was their response?

SIMMONS: They were happy to see it. OK. The President is listening. He's starting to get it. And so I think there is politics in the sense that this is all about a big -- this is all a political environment. We're in the middle of a campaign season. We want politicians to listen to the people.

And if they can make a decision that secures our allies, that follows our foreign policy, and still addresses concerns of a domestic audience, why should they not do that?

TAPPER: So I'm here in New York because I was at the trial in this building behind me. And guess who I saw there? Florida former governor, now Senator Rick Scott. He made a cameo appearance at Trump's hush money cover up trial. And then he went outside. He was there not that long, by the way. I was there longer than him. But anyway, he went, I'm sure he had something more important to do. He's a billionaire or whatever. But he went outside the courtroom and he made some comments.


SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): What he is going through is just despicable. It's a crime in this country to use the court system, go after your political opponents. What's happening in this courtroom is clearly criminal.


TAPPER: Let me go to you first. What do you think?

OSBORNE: Well, I mean, clearly, I think you're going to see a collection of folks that have already been in here and that it will continue to come because there's one thing about Trump is that he is -- while he may not be completely loyal, he does not forget. And in the situations like this, there's already been calls out there that, you know, from various folks in Trump world saying that nobody has been there to support him. And so, Rick Scott --

TAPPER: Oh, is that right?

OSBORNE: Probably, yes. So Rick Scott probably was in town for something else, like you mentioned, and wanted to make sure that at least he came by to pay his respects. Do I think it does anything for the trial or anything else other than appeasing the one person that he's trying to appease? No.

TAPPER: Do you think this trial will have any political effect on anything? Let's assume, for the sake of argument, and none of what I'm about to say is a sure thing, but let's assume he's convicted and let's assume he's sentenced to some sort of like, major penalty or whatever. Do you think that has any effect on the presidential election?


SIMMONS: It does have an effect. It's already having an effect, and here's why we know why. The President talked last night about opening up 100 offices and having 5,000 staffers. Donald Trump's not doing that. And the way Donald Trump has orchestrated the Republican Party, he's sort of the big fish that comes in. Everybody else sort of feeds off of what it is he does when he does those rallies. He's not traveling around the country building rallies, which means they're not building lists off of the people who show up at those rallies. They're not getting data from people who try to get tickets from those rallies.

And everybody who's running for the Senate or Congress or county commissioner is not getting access to any of the people they're going to have to find in order to turn them out at the end of the day.

OSBORNE: But that is, I mean, that's an -- that's -- I appreciate what you're saying.

TAPPER: That's a logistical effect.

SIMMONS: But it's real.

OSBORNE: -- sit down ballot races. When you look at this from a campaign perspective, in the sense that the biggest expenditure in a campaign is media, he is getting 24/7, 365 days' worth of media every single day.

SIMMONS: Sitting in a courthouse --

OSBORNE: It doesn't matter.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

Another big story we are following, a Florida family's demand for answers. They say sheriff's deputies stormed into the wrong apartment and shot and killed a U.S. Air Force airman who was on FaceTime with his girlfriend at the time. We're going to bring you the body camera footage released moments ago.

Plus, attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family. He's also here. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Here's some breaking news for you in our National Lead, just released body camera footage shows the moment a 23-year-old active duty U.S. airman was shot by a Florida deputy seconds after the airman opened his apartment door. This shooting happened last Friday afternoon in Okaloosa County in the Florida Panhandle. The family of U.S. Air Force senior airman Roger Fortson says the deputy knocked on the wrong door after responding to a disturbance at the apartment complex, a report of a disturbance. That's a key detail that the sheriff's office denies.

The sheriff's office says Fortson, a black man, was armed when he opened the door and the deputy shot him in self-defense. Fortson died later at the hospital. I want to warn our viewers, the body camera footage that we are about to show you that was just released is very hard to watch. You're about to see the moments after the deputy did his initial knock on the door.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sheriff's office. Open the door. Sheriff's office. Open the door. Step back. Drop the gun. Drop the gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's over there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 312. Shots fired. Suspect down.


TAPPER: Dispatch calls reveal that the individual was shot six times. Joining us now is the attorney for the family, Ben Crump. Ben, what's your reaction to the body camera footage?

BEN CRUMP, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: It's very troubling, Jake Tapper. Even though it answers some -- provide some answers, it leaves us with more troubling questions, like, you don't hear him give the verbal command to drop the weapon or put your hands up. He immediately, within a split second of saying step back, which Roger, a decorated military airman, follows all his commands. He goes to step back and bam, bam, bam. He doesn't give him a chance to comply. He is doing everything the man says, Jake Tapper.

And it's so troubling. He says, when he's on the ground, toss the weapon. And he said, I did. And he doesn't give him any aid, doesn't render any aid to him. And he was on the phone with his girlfriend in the apartment by himself with his dog. They had the wrong apartment, Jake Tapper. They need to own up to the apartment complex or the police, they had the wrong apartment. This young man was a model officer and he was a model citizen.

TAPPER: The sheriff's office is saying that it wasn't a mistake. The deputy knocked on the correct department, and they say the reports that they entered the wrong apartment were completely untrue. What do you make of that?

CRUMP: Watch the video, Jake Tapper. The lay -- the --whoever the leasing agency or whomever she is, she says, well, if we walk by the apartment or what have you, you get to that apartment. I mean, he's at the end of the hall. Furthermore, she says, we've heard this before when they first asked us, she's unsure, but then she says, 1401. We just think they erred. And for that, Roger lost his life. And that is truly tragic.

But furthermore, this whole thing about him having a gun. He is a law abiding citizen with no criminal history whatsoever. He is a military officer. He has a licensed registered gun. If anywhere in America, Florida, we should know that citizens have their right to the Second Amendment. So, police officers, when you come to my door, you assuming I hear you. His girlfriend said they didn't hear him.

She's going to have her own press conference. But we released the video, FaceTime video. I don't think you have it, but it shows the last moments of his life. It is out there in the public. People can watch for themselves and form their own conclusions as to the unjustifiable killing of this decorated patriot.


TAPPER: So he was on FaceTime, you say, with his girlfriend when this horrible, horrible thing happened. What has she told you about the moment?

CRUMP: Well, she is going to speak for herself in her own press conference, so nothing would be lost in translation. She is right there listening to everything. And so she's going -- her and her lawyer are going to have their own press conference. But the video speaks for itself, Jake Tapper. You tell me to step back, I step back, and then you shoot me six times. I mean, I'm compliant. What more could this young man have done to comply?

And then when he's on the ground, when you watch that FaceTime video, he's on the ground saying, I can't breathe. And he's like, stop moving. Stop moving. I mean, it's just. Oh, it's so tragic, Jake, and we are so tired of this. It reminds you of Botham Jean. It reminds you of Atatiana Jefferson. People are in their own home, minding their own business, and they can't even be safe in their own home.

TAPPER: I think I know the answer, but how is this family doing? How are they holding up?

CRUMP: They are devastated. His mother gave the most heart wrenching press conference comments. He was the person who was her special gift from God, she said. He lived for taking care of her and his 10-year- old sister, Harmony, and his 16-year-old brother, Andre. He got injured when he was on a tour in Kuwait, serving our country from trying to load stuff on a plane accident. He said, mom, I thought I was going to die. But he told her I couldn't die because I had to live for you and my little sister and my little brother, I got to be there for you all. That's the kind of person he was. Everybody said nothing but good things about him, Jake. So they cannot tarnish this young man's name, this officer's name. Can't do it.

TAPPER: Benjamin Crump. Thank you so much, sir. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Our last leads now, the threat of severe storms continues in the southeastern United States and along the Gulf Coast and parts of Texas. This follows a day of deadly tornadoes that killed two people in Tennessee. One tornado, near Nashville, stayed on the ground for 2 miles, lifted homes off their foundations. The ongoing run of severe weather has seen at least one tornado in the U.S. every day since April 25th, and a total of more than 300.

In our Money Lead, General Motors just announced its ending production of the last traditional Sedan in its lineup, the gasoline powered Chevy Malibu. When the final car rolls off the assembly line later this year in Kansas City, Kansas, GM will retool the factory to make electric vehicles. Both GM and Ford have phased out gas powered sedans to concentrate on larger and more popular SUV's, trucks, sports cars and electric vehicles.


If you ever miss an episode of the lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcast. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.