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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hush Money Cover Up Trial; Jury Asks To Be Read Testimony From David Pecker & Michael Cohen; CNN Analysis Finds Israel Used U.S.-Made Bomb In Rafah Strike; Major League Baseball Adds Negro Leagues Stats To Its Records. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 29, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Lead," I'm Jake Tapper. Ahead this hour, the jury in Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial has wrapped its first day of deliberations. The juror sent two notes late in the day to the judge, one, asking to rehear testimony from two key prosecution witnesses, David Pecker and Michael Cohen. The other note, they wanted to rehear some of the judge's instructions to them on how to do this jury deliberation thing.

Plus, former FBI Director James Comey is here. I'm going to get his reaction to the trial, his thoughts on a potential second Trump term, and talk to him about his brand new novel. Also, Major League Baseball is changing its history books, as it now embraces all leagues in its record books, including the segregated Negro Leagues. How the addition of more than 2,000 players is shaking up the MLB's statistics.

Breaking news, moments ago former president Donald Trump walked back into that Manhattan courtroom. His lawyers and prosecutors have just been negotiating and arguing, and bickering over which portions of the testimony the jury will get to rehear tomorrow when it's read back to them. And CNN's Paul Reid is outside the courthouse.

Paula, walk us through exactly what's happening in court right now.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So right now it appears, Jake, that even though the jury has gone home for the day, it appears that the defense attorneys, the prosecutors, they appear poised to go back on the record. Because the judge has basically locked them in the courthouse, along with former President Trump until they can agree on specifically which sections of the testimony the jury has requested will actually be read back to the jury tomorrow.

So we expect shortly the judge will be back on the bench and they will hopefully reveal some sort of consensus. They can't leave until they come to some sort of agreement. Remember the first note that we got from the jury today requested four different portions of testimony that they heard throughout this trial. The first was testimony from David Pecker about a phone call with Trump. The second was having to do with David Pecker and the agreement that was made with Karen McDougal, and how that was funded, the agreement to the life rights to her story. They also asked for a testimony from David Pecker on the Trump Tower meeting in 2015, as well as Michael Cohen's testimony on that same Trump Tower meeting. The challenge now is the both sides have to agree specifically what gets read back to the jury, it'll be read back by the court reporter. But while we wait to figure out exactly what they will hear first thing tomorrow, they also asked to have the jury instructions read back to them.

Now, Jake, this was a surprise because even though it was 55 pages of instructions, they just heard it this morning. So the fact that they're asking to hear that again suggest that when they went back to deliberate, at least a few jurors did not agree on exactly what the assignment was, and the instructions that have been laid out for the judge -- now by the judge. But the judge also said, he's not sure if he needs to reread all 55 pages, or if it's just a portion of that.

So tomorrow morning, we expect that they will have this transcript, these portions read back to them. That'll happen by the court reporter who will sit on the witness stand, read back the portions that both sides have agreed to review them. And then they have to decide how much of the jury instructions will be read back to them. And depending on how long that takes, then they'll go back into jury deliberations. And they'll likely have more questions, though, Jake.

We don't want to infer too much from these questions but it does appear based on their first question that they may be working through the case chronologically, but suggests it could be a few days before we have this historic decision.

TAPPER: And we should note, Paula, of course, there are 34 different counts. The jury has to decide on each one of them. They could rule to convict on some, to acquit on others, they could be hung on still more. I mean, it could be really a mixed verdict.

REID: Yes, absolutely. There's so many ways that this could go, Jake. And over the past 15 years of covering trials, I think often you come away with a sense of how something is going to turn out with a gut feeling based on being here every day. I have no such gut feeling.

And if you listen to legal experts, are they come out with all sorts of different predictions. So at this point, impossible to say how this is likely to turn out, as you said, you 12 people, 34 counts, you need consensus to acquit or convict on those counts, a lot of folks saying that there's a probability that they may deadlock on some so. At this point, this historic case is in the hands of this jury and at this point, I don't think anyone can speculate on how this will end.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss, criminal defense attorney Stacy Schneider, who also competed on "The Apprentice," and Anna Bauer, the legal fellow and courts correspondent for Lawfare.

Just to give you, guys, an update on what's going on in the court right now, obviously, the prosecution and the defense are trying to come to an agreement on these four excerpts that the jury has requested be read back to them from testimony, three of them from David Pecker, one of them from Michael Cohen. Judge Merchan said to the attorneys, OK, where do we stand. Steinglass, Joshua Steinglass from the prosecution team said they've made a lot of progress but there are a few issues that they might need him to get involved with.


Anna, you're in court today, what was your biggest takeaway?

ANNA BAUER, COURTS CORRESPONDENT LAWFARE: Look, my biggest takeaway is this jury note that requested these four different excerpts of testimony, as we've discussed, part of them relate to David Pecker's testimony, part of them relate to Cohen's testimony about that Trump Tower meeting in 2015. And I think that the big takeaway from these requests is that, the jury is really focused on this alleged conspiracy to influence the election. Keep in mind it is that conspiracy that is the object offense or the step up, so that makes the falsification of business records a felony.

Prosecutors have to prove that Trump intended to commit or conceal this conspiracy to influence the election. And all of these different requests seem to really focus on that aspect of this case, the Trump Tower meeting where that conspiracy was allegedly born. And then also, this phone call that Trump had with David Pecker in June of 2016 about one aspect of that conspiracy related to the hush money payment to Karen McDougal.

In closing arguments last night, Joshua Steinglass argued to the jurors that it is that phone call with David Pecker that the jurors have now requested to review again, that proves that Trump had direct knowledge of the hush money payment to Karen McDougal ahead of time, that it was that phone call in which he indicated to David Pecker that he could work with Michael Cohen as an intermediary on Trump's behalf. So clearly, the prosecution thought this was a very important phone call, the jurors are very focused on it.

And finally, it's also important what is not included in this request, which is any request about the credibility of Michael Cohen. The defense case has rested on attacking Michael Cohen's credibility. And you might expect that if the jurors had questions about that, at this point, they might be requesting testimony related to the attacks on Michael Cohen, related to some of the lies that the defense team alleged Michael Cohen told during his testimony, but we didn't see that in this jury notes.

So I think if you're the prosecution, you're feeling pretty good about what is the substance of this jury note at this point.

TAPPER: Although I have to say and, Stacy, maybe you weigh in on it. I have no -- I mean, you might be completely right. But they did ask for two different parts of the -- two different versions of the Trump Tower meeting. They asked for Pecker's testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting, and they were asked for Michael Cohen's testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting.

I don't know if that's trying to assess Michael Cohen's credibility or not but it could be, Stacy, no? STACY SCHNEIDER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I agree with you. And this is this is my hunch. It's not scientific. It's from being a defense attorney in Manhattan. It seems to me that the jury was given an instruction, first of all, that Michael Cohen is an accomplice, so they cannot rely on his testimony alone to decide innocence or guilt. They must look at corroborating evidence.

David pecker came off a hundred times better than Michael Cohen. He didn't have an axe to grind against Donald Trump. He said he was a friend. He looked at Donald Trump as a mentor. So, David -- there's not a lot of reason why the jury would believe David Pecker was lying. So in comparing, here's where my hunch part comes, in and comparing Pecker and Cohen, and what the testimony was about the Trump Tower meeting in 2015, I think they're trying to see if the that testimony is aligned, so that they can rely on Michael Cohen's version of what happened in that room.

And, you know, those facts about Trump being involved in the scheme, that's another thing that is, I'm getting a signal about from these jury instructions, or I'm sorry, jury questions that they want to hear the phone call between David Pecker and Donald Trump. That to me signals that they want to see how involved Donald Trump was in this scheme, because of you remember, and I know you know, that the defense had argued in its closing statement that Michael Cohen, they seem to imply that he was going a little bit renegade on the Stormy Daniels deal, and maybe he was doing things on his own because he wasn't happy with his role in the campaign, that he didn't have a role in the campaign.

So there were these implications thrown out there that maybe Trump didn't approve this deal, and the only person that the jurors had to rely on was Michael Cohen whether or not Trump approved this; because we never heard from Allen Weisselberg, the CFO, the former CFO who was also privy to Michael Cohen being reimbursed through the business records, which is why we're here in the first place, why Trump is being charged running these fees through the business records.


So I think there's a good signal in there, but it's no guarantee that my hunch is right, because it's all in how the jury interprets the testimony and applies it to the big themes that are created. And the prosecution's theme is very different from the defense theme. The defense theme is all deny, deny, deny, it didn't happen. And the prosecution's theme is here a little kernels from all these witnesses about what really happened.

TAPPER: All right. Stacy Schneider and Anna Bauer, thanks to both you. I really appreciate your insights.

And just to get you at home up to speed on the disagreements going on, the prosecution and the defense have agreed on which lines will be reread on request one, which is about David Pecker's testimony regarding a phone conversation with Donald Trump while Pecker was in an investment meeting. And number two, they've agreed that's Pecker's testimony about the decision to not finalize and fund the assignment of Karen McDougall's life rights.

And number four, which is Michael Cohen's testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting, the sticking point is which parts of the testimony regarding number three, which is David Pecker's testimony regarding the Trump Tower meeting. That is what the prosecution and defense are disagreeing over right now and Judge Juan Merchan will inevitably, if they cannot agree, have to intervene there.

Coming up, former FBI Director James Comey will weigh in on Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and his latest murder mystery. Stay right here.



TAPPER: Staying in our Law and Justice Lead, a murder mystery right out of the FBI files it starts with a woman found dead at dawn in a canoe on a treacherous part of the Long Island Sound. The story is fiction but it's from the mind of a man who tracked criminals for a career in draws on his own experience, "Westport," the latest novel by former FBI Director James Comey, who joins me now. There's obviously also a lot to ask about today when it comes to former President Trump and some recent comments from Hillary Clinton.

But first, the book, first the book, not to give too much away of the suspense but the novel centers on the character Nora Carleton who had worked at a US attorney's before landing a job at a hedge fund. She struggles to clear her name, having to turn to some shady characters, having to deal with personal slanders, of course, is something that you have some experience. And was this cathartic for you?

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Yes, in a way because I'm able to go back to things I did in my career, but also bring it to the current day because Nora is inspired by my children, especially my oldest who's a federal prosecutor. So I can close my eyes and picture her, and write her in situations that I lived through. So it is pretty great for me.

TAPPER: So, there's a lot of political intrigue in your life. What about the gemend (ph) experience of your day when you were just an FBI agent? I mean, did you draw on murders and criminal investigations, obviously fictionalizing them, et cetera, et cetera. But did you draw on that?

COMEY: Yes. And I haven't yet written about anything in Washington, it's a little too icky for me at this point. Maybe a few years down the road, I can get to it. But I've tried to draw on real cases, real characters and fictionalized them, but bring readers inside the real world of that work.

TAPPER: One last thing, and then I have to turn to the news. So you and I were talking about, because I've written some novels too, mine have taken place in the '50s, 60s and 70s, years take place today.

COMEY: Yes. TAPPER: And I told you, you said, you thought that it sounded more challenging for me. I'm telling you, it's actually better to not have a drama where you're saying, well, why didn't he just call him on his cell phone, or why didn't she just Google it and find out he's a mass murderer. That made it easier for me. And then also, once I realized how much more difficult technology makes writing about drama today, that now you'll understand why so many characters in movies and TV shows today end up in the middle of the desert and don't have any cell for service, because it really is a problem.

Did you find that problematic at all writing your dramas, because you're in a world where you can just call the person or just Google them?

COMEY: No. My challenge was being a cool enough. I'm not a particularly cool person so I needed my children, especially to tell me that people don't really talk that way these days. And they would say something that's cringe what you wrote, got to look that up. But so I'm trying to be current and it poses its own challenges.

TAPPER: All right, that's good. It's good to have editors and kids can be the toughest.


TAPPER: Let's turn to the news of the day, the jury is deliberating right now if Donald Trump broke the law 34 counts. Do you think whatever, I don't know how much you've been following this, but do you think, based on what you know that the prosecution has made the case beyond a reasonable doubt?

COMEY: I do. I've tried a lot of jury cases and I know you can't fully tell, even if you've been in the courtroom the whole time, but it seems to me a very strong case. I think a high likelihood of conviction, some likelihood of a hung jury, almost zero of an acquittal.

TAPPER: There was this -- there's this other criminal case down in Florida having to do with declassified documents. It's probably a matter you know something about. I'm sure you've dealt with classified documents.

COMEY: A lot, yes.

TAPPER: Both in the Justice Department and then separately in the FBI. Judge Cannon yesterday denied the special counsel's request for a gag order to limit the former president's ability to criticize the FBI. This has to do with for people at home. I know you know Donald Trump suggesting that when the FBI agents had their instructions, that they were -- that there was some sort of assassination plot. He didn't go that far but some of his supporters did.

In any case, it was fairly standard language and same language used when they looked into President Biden's house in office is my understanding. What's your reaction to the ruling and also to what he said about FBI agents? [17:20:06]

COMEY: What he was reacting to is something as you said, it's an every FBI ops order. It's boilerplate standard language. His interpretation of it was so crazy and, frankly, dark that if you put it in your novel, it'd be stricken by your editor because it's so nuts.

What's going on down in Florida, it's hard for me to understand from the outside. The judge denied the application, I think, based on the failure of the government to adequately confer in advance with opposing counsel. And so, I don't know. That case should have been tried long ago, it's not. I don't want to attribute it to malign intention by the judge. It's most likely inexperience and incompetence.

TAPPER: What do you think about the way that the US Supreme Court has handled the request for a hearing on immunity? I know a lot of people who want Jack Smith's trial on January 6 to go forward are very frustrated that there doesn't seem to be any expedited way that they're going about hearing the President's arguments, which some people think like that should have been heard a long time ago.

COMEY: Yes. I don't think they should be that frustrated. The court is moving for the court unusually fast, and they have to answer this question. It's easy to say there's no absolute immunity but the need to define the scope of immunity. If God forbid Joe Biden loses in November, we're going to want to know what is the scope of a president's immunity against later criminal prosecution.

TAPPER: Hillary Clinton recently gave an interview to the New York Times. She reflected on why some women did not support her in 2016, how Democrats failed to protect abortion rights adequately. She again partially blamed you for her defeat for reopening the investigation into her email server, holding the press conference where you called her extremely careless without any formal criminal charges.

She told the Times, "Once he did that to me, the people, the voters who left me were women. They left me because they just couldn't take a risk on me because as a woman, I'm supposed to be perfect. They were willing to take a risk on Trump, who had a long list of, let's call them flaws, to illustrate his imperfection, because he was a man. And they could envision a man as president and commander in chief."

Oh, what did you think? What was your response?

COMEY: We were never trying to do anything to either of the candidates in 2016. We regretted being involved. We're just trying to do the right thing given the facts that landed on us.

TAPPER: And what would you say to Hillary Clinton if she were here right now? I mean, do you feel any regret or you think she's the one that made the decisions to do XYZ?

COMEY: I regret being involved but I didn't put 300,000 of her emails on Anthony Weiner's laptop that the FBI then had to look at. And so I hated the situation but I bear her no ill will. And I get the pain she feels I'm sure about 2016. I hope we had nothing to do with the outcome, but we were just trying to do the right thing. And I still think we did the right thing.

TAPPER: All right. James Comey, former FBI director and author of the brand new novel "Westport" available in stores now. Thanks so much for being here.

COMEY: Great to be with you.

TAPPER: Good to see you as always.

COMEY: Yes, you too.

TAPPER: President Biden expected to speak about Trump's trial after the verdict. How will that play in the court of public opinion? Stay right here.



TAPPER: Turning to our Politics Lead, Donald Trump weighing in earlier today about a change in the Biden campaign strategy to actually send surrogates outside the courthouse to weigh in on what's going on inside.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER US PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have a protest of Robert De Niro yesterday. He's a broken -- down full standing out there. He got MAGA's yesterday. He got a big dose of it.


TAPPER: The Biden campaign has been staying clear of commenting on Trump's trials in any major way. Now breaking that, they sent actor Robert De Niro, along with two former Capitol Hill police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6, one of them from the Metropolitan Police Department, the other from Capitol Police, to speak outside the court. Here's how some of that went.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: Even these people over here (beep) it's kind of crazy. It's really crazy in this thing, Donald Trump has created this. He shouldn't be telling them not to do this.


TAPPER: It got a little more heated from there. Let's discuss with our panel. First of all, Kate, let me start with you, former Biden White House official. What do you think? Good idea --


TAPPER: -- for the Biden team to send in De Niro and two cops to -- KATE: I got to say, strategically, this is not -- this didn't make a ton of sense to me and here's why. If you buy the Biden campaign's theory of the case that voters are not really tuned in yet, which I think is true. I mean, if you look at the data, I think that's pretty demonstrably true. If you also look at data that shows that Biden is struggling the most --

TAPPER: I'm going to put a pin in you right now, I'm going to come right back to you after this. Let's listen in, here's the defense.


TRUMP: You know what's very unfair is that I'm not campaigning in this room all day long, from morning to night in the Biden witch-hunt. Take a look at where the people come from. It's a Biden witch-hunt, it's weaponization. So it seems that there are a lot of witnesses, a lot of people that they could have called that they didn't call. Now, they didn't call them obviously because they would have been very bad witnesses for them.

But take a look at them, this is because of the gag order. I won't go down into individual names but you have a lot of big players, very big players that would have solved their problem or actually would have given us the win. We already have the win. If we had a fair judge this case would have been over a long time ago.

But a lot of key witnesses were not called. Look at your list. Look at the players. And you know I'm talking about, if you take five or six hour, why did they call those witnesses? I didn't call them because they would have been on our side. And it's a shame, and in particular one witness who's now suffering gravely because of what's happened, because of the viciousness of these thugs, the vicious people what they've done to that person.


And you know who I'm talking about. And they didn't call him as a witness. They didn't call anybody as a witness. And all these people, they could have called themselves the problem. The other thing, that confusion is nobody knows what the crime is because there's no crime. Nobody knows what the crime is. The D.A. didn't name the crime. They don't know what the crime is. That's what the problem is. It's a disgrace. This thing going to be ended immediately, the judge want to end it and save his reputation. Thank you very much.


TAPPER: All right, former President Donald Trump after the first day of jury deliberations, the judge is indeed making him stay in the courthouse if not the courtroom while the jury deliberates. Let's bring in CNN's Daniel Dale, who's fact checking what we just heard from Mr. Trump. Daniel, any thoughts?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, two things, Jake. There's the Groundhog Day fact check. He calls this a Biden witch hunt again, for the I don't know how many time, there is no basis for any suggestion that President Biden had personal involvement in this case. It was brought by a locally elected Manhattan district attorney, no evidence Biden was personally involved.

And then a newish claim Jake. He said the D.A. didn't name the crime. And on first glance, I'd say that's false at very least, it's a gross oversimplification of a unarguably valid criticism of the case. So what has actually happened here is that the D.A. and the judge have specified what the alleged crime and question is, it is the falsification of business records with the intent to commit another crime, which the D.A. and the judge has specified is an alleged violation of New York election law.

Now, what Trump appears to be alluding to is the fact that the prosecutors did not specify a which -- so called unlawful means, Trump is alleged to have used to violate this election law. The prosecutor said while it may be one of three things, it could be a violation of tax law, it could be a violation of federal election law, it could be the falsification of other business records.

Now the jury doesn't have to be unanimous on which particular unlawful means. They believe Trump used to violate that election law as long as they unanimously agreed that Trump use some unlawful means. So you could argue OK, that's like, you know, a Russian nesting doll. That's a three step process is confusing, but it is simply not the case that the D.A. did not specify any crimes of that, as Trump suggested earlier today on social media, the judge didn't specify what crimes he's talking about.

Those crimes have been explicitly identified. Even if you find the case complicated, they have been specifically outlined by the prosecution by Judge Merchan today.

TAPPER: All right, Daniel Dale, thanks so much.

CNN's Kristen Holmes just watched Trump's remarks from outside the courthouse. Kristen, what are you hearing from Team Trump?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, one of the things Donald Trump said that was so interesting to me is something that I've heard time and time again from the defense something that they believe is going to help them in the case and it is the fact that the prosecution didn't call a number of witnesses that could have corroborated the story from Michael Cohen, that being in particular Allen Weisselberg and Keith Schiller.

There were several conversations that Michael Cohen relayed between him and Allen Weisselberg. They did not call Allen Weisselberg to confirm that conversation as well as that specific call that we know that the defense tried to say was about a prank caller, whereas the prosecution had said it was about Stormy Daniels something that Michael Cohen himself had said. They could have called Keith Schiller. That call went to Keith Schiller. And this is something that offends things will help them in the end.

There could be speculation among the jury as to why exactly they didn't call those witnesses. Now, I will say, well, we don't know exactly why they didn't call them both are considered Trump loyalists, Allen Weisselberg currently sitting in Rikers, was likely not to be a cooperative witness with the prosecution. Keith Schiller, no one has heard from -- for along for a long time, but he ended on good terms with Trump and is still considered a close Trump confidant.

So things to keep in mind here, clearly Trump regurgitating the information he's hearing from his defense team. One other thing I want to note, Donald Trump sounded very tired. This is a long day for a man who is almost 78 years old sitting in the courtroom, through all of these procedures, not really doing anything waiting to hear if there's going to be a verdict. I am told by his team that they are hoping that this lengthier period of time that it wasn't a quick conviction or a quick verdict means something optimistic for the former president. Jake?

TAPPER: That's right. His birthday is coming up June 14th. So it's very sweet of you to remember that Kristen Holmes. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Let's bring back our panel. All right, Kate Bedingfield. I rudely interrupted you while you were while you were at Donald -- well, but I enabled it. So you don't think it's a great idea for the Biden team to be sending Robert De Niro and Mike Fanone and Harry Dunn to Capitol Hill January 6th cops to out there to comment on the case.


BEDINGFIELD: I don't and the reason for that is because we see in all of the data that Joe Biden is struggling the most with voters who aren't watching the news, who aren't tuned in to what's going on day to day. And the audience who's watching this trial following this trial is very tuned in to what's going on day to day. And so what I think the Biden campaign did yesterday was sort of exchange a talking point that the Trump team really wants and that Donald Trump has been driving. This is all politicized. This is Joe Biden trying to make this happen for outreach to an audience, that is all -- for the most part already decided one way or the other.

If you're somebody who's following the coverage of this trial, you pretty much know where you're coming down. So this wasn't outreach to a new audience. And I think that the cost that they paid in making that decision wasn't worth the tradeoff. That's why I think it was strategically --

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What do you make if anything due after this?

ANDERSON: I agree, actually, with this take. And in that for Donald Trump, he has made this political at all times, frankly, probably to the detriment of the case, his lawyers in the legal sense have been trying to make. But the Biden team, I have praised President Biden for being relatively muted on this, I believe, on this very show. And so to see this shift, I think, is frustrating one, because I put myself in the mind of thinking of, say, one of those voters who turned out to vote for Nikki Haley in one of these Republican primaries, so like, don't want Donald Trump to be the nominee. Those are the sorts of folks Biden should be trying to court. And I think by turning this into a political circus, you then you just start putting yourself down in the mud with Donald Trump. You're lowering yourself to his standard. I think that potentially turns off the sort of voter who might be thinking, why Donald Trump don't make me do it.

TAPPER: And Ayesha, what do you think we're going to hear from the White House after there is a verdict?

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST, NPR'S WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY: Well, I think that's going to be a very difficult thing for them to kind of maneuver because they don't want -- depending on what the verdict is, obviously, if he's found guilty, they're going to want to, you know, showcase that. But without them, you know, kind of taking a real victory lap because they don't want to seem like they are, even though they're not a part of this, they don't want to give that impression.

And if they don't get, you know, if he's found not guilty, or there's a mistrial, then that's very difficult to because that plays into this idea that this is, you know, just all, you know, people are out to get Trump they can even succeed in this. This was, you know, just this was a useless kind of prosecution. And so I think that it plays into that. So I think that it'll be difficult for them to kind of figure out how to not take a vic -- too much of a victory lap. But also, you know, highlight the fact that this man is on trial for many, you know, different crimes.

TAPPER: Speaking of court cases, to a different story now, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is refusing to recuse himself from any cases around January 6th and the interaction, failing reports of flags carried by rioters on January 6th, here's part of his official response to Congress. He -- Dick Durbin and some other Democrats in the Senate have said he should recuse himself because he flew a flag upside down at his house, or at least at his house had that featured whether or not he was responsible, the letter addresses, as I have stated publicly had nothing whatsoever to do with the flying and that flag, Justice Alito writes.

I was not even aware of the upside down flag until it was called to my attention. As soon as I saw it, I asked my wife to take it down. But for several days, she refused. My wife and I own our Virginia home jointly. She therefore has the legal right to use the property as she sees fit. And there were no additional steps that I could have taken to have the flag taken down more promptly. Interesting. Thoughts if Mrs. Alito did it?

ANDERSON: Well, this is the story that they said last week. And frankly, there's been more now like contemporaneous reporting that's come out that this kind of confirmed that this was not Martha-Ann Alito trying to make some big political statement about January 6th. It was a really unpleasant dispute with neighbors.

I think the idea that he should have to recuse himself from cases is ridiculous over this. If Martha-Ann Alito was going to benefit financially from the outcome of a case, maybe we'd be having a different conversation. But this sounds to me like it was a neighborhood dispute gone very array. There's no reason you should recuse --

TAPPER: You disagree?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I do think it's worth noting that the standard for recusal for federal judges and justices is not just actual bias, but the perception of bias. And I think it's very hard to argue, but somebody who's, you know, even their argument about the fact that it was a personal dispute was still actually a dispute about Donald Trump and about her neighbor having been yelling at her about Trump. So I think it's very hard to remove the idea that the justice and his wife don't have some sort of political leaning here. And I think given the standard of recusal, it's reasonable to suggest that he shouldn't be part of those cases.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all for being here.


Coming up, the U.S. Secretary of State asks if Israel's incremental gains in Gaza are worth the cost of his innocent civilian life. How is Israel responding? That's next.



TAPPER: It's time for our World Lead, a CNN analysis shows Israel used an American made bomb and its deadly strike against Hamas in Rafah on Sunday, a strike that ignited a raging fire and a camp for displaced Palestinians and killed at least 45 people including women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. And while the White House maintains that Sunday strike does not cross its red line for the actions of Israel in this war.

Today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the government of Israel should ask itself whether, quote, incremental gains, unquote, against Hamas are worth these unintended horrific consequences. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live for us in Jerusalem, Israel. Jeremy, tell us more about this U.S. made bomb and what Israel and the government of Israel says it was intended for.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we had for munitions experts look at footage of the remnants of one of these munitions that was on the ground at the scene of this strike. And all four of them said that this is consistent with a GBU 39 small diameter bomb. This is a U.S. made munition. And we should also note that the payload that it carries is consistent with what the Israeli military has said they dropped.


They said that they dropped two munitions carrying about a 37 pound warhead each. This type of bomb is actually designed to try and limit civilian casualties. But experts said that there are obviously risks heightened in terms of civilian casualties when they are dropped on densely populated areas. And indeed, in this case, the Israeli military dropped these weapons on two container like structures that were immediately adjacent to other container like structures with very thin walls were displaced Palestinians were currently sheltering.

Now the Israeli military says that it was targeting two senior Hamas militants who are running Hamas's West Bank operations. And they say that these munitions were not intended to cause harm -- to cause I should say, civilian casualties. They say that they believe there was another source that caused the large fire that engulfed the area and they say that they're still investigating that.

TAPPER: Well, they say it was like a -- the Israel says it was a Hamas munitions depot of some sort, right? I mean, that's their claim as to how that happened.

DIAMOND: They say that, that's one theory that they have put out there, they put out an intercepted call that we can't verify, but they haven't provided any other verifiable evidence so far. And they -- even they say, they're still investigating it. They're not certain that that's the cause of the secondary explosion.

TAPPER: So meanwhile, Jeremy, Israel, the IDF is advancing in Rafah in Gaza, and they say they just secured a key piece of land along the border of Gaza and Egypt. Tell us about the significance of that.

DIAMOND: Yes, this is a seven and a half mile strip of land on the Gaza side of that border. It's known as the Philadelphi Corridor. And it is -- Israel has had its sights set on this corridor since the beginning of the war because it has enormous strategic significance. The Israeli government believes that Hamas has used this corridor to smuggle weapons in from Egypt and then to put them in tunnels and smuggle them to the rest of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military now says that it has operational control of that Philadelphi Corridor. They say that troops have already found about 20 different tunnels in that area with weapons. This means that Israel now controls every single land and sea border along the Gaza Strip. This doesn't spell the end of that rough offensive. In fact, today Tzachi Hanegbi, the national security adviser in Israel says he believes the fighting in Gaza will last for at least another seven months. Jake?

TAPPER: Seven months. CNN Jeremy Diamond in Israel, thanks so much.

Setting history straight and changing the record books, why Babe Ruth is no longer the greatest slugger of all time and the man who should instead be a household name? A story you're not going to want to miss. That's next.



TAPPER: In our Sports Lead, in the modern era, Major League Baseball Integrated when the great Jackie Robinson, formerly of the Kansas City Monarchs broke the color barrier in 1947 to become a Brooklyn Dodger. But the statistics of Negro Leagues Baseball players were not officially integrated into the Major League Baseball record books until well, now. It's long overdue. CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look now at the legendary players who have now literally changed the record books, even replacing Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb in some major categories.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the golden age of baseball, Babe Ruth hammered his way into the record books with the best career slugging percentage ever. Ty Cobb scored the best old time batting average. But now both have been bested by Josh Gibson, a power hitting catcher from the Negro Leagues.

BOB KENDRICK, PRESIDENT, NEGRO LEAGUES BASEBALL MUSEUM: Josh Gibson was the greatest baseball player to put on baseball uniform. When you look at what he was able to do as a catcher, and as many of, you know, he wasn't a good catcher. He was a great catcher. And he is arguably the greatest combination of power and average this game has ever seen.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The story of the first black man in Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson has long been lionized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just ballplayer.


FOREMAN (voice-over): But sports historians have just as long argued that the record books were incomplete because they did not include stats from the Negro Leagues, where Robinson and so many others held forth before the game was integrated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recognizing former Negro League players, Sam Allen and Pedro Sierra.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Not many are left, but Major League Baseball databases will now carry the accomplishments of over 2,300 Negro League players from 1920 to 1948 along with a promise.

ROB MANFRED, MLB COMMISSIONER: I think focus on the history of the Negro Leagues is consistent with our efforts to produce diversity on the field and in the front office. So there's lots of things -- lots of good things going on.

FOREMAN (voice-over): What's more, the inclusion of the Negro Leagues records will also boost the resumes of some players who made it to major league ball and into sports lore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bases are loaded. Here's the windup and a pitch, striker going to miss. Strike one.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Like pitcher Satchel Paige, whose career winds will go from 28 to 125.

KENDRICK: This is indeed an exciting day. And like I said, this is just the beginning.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN: The reason they say it's just the beginning is because the Negro Leagues, plural, were several different groups and the record keeping wasn't necessarily great at the time. It hasn't necessarily been maintained in a great fashion. So even though we've seen some records fall already there may be more found as more records are scraped up. And fun fact and all this, Jake, the guy who got me my first job in television, his dad, played in the Negro Leagues.


TAPPER: Is that right?

FOREMAN: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: That's so cool. What's his name?

FOREMAN: Norman Lumpkin. Norman Lumpkin Sr. played, Norman Lumpkin, Jr. was --

TAPPER: Very cool. All right, Mr. and Mr. Lumpkin, that's for you. Tom Foreman, thanks so much. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Just noting a bit of a plot twist on that flag flap involving Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. This is the second flag as Long Beach Island, New Jersey home it's called the appeal to heaven flag. It was seen outside Alito's vacation home. Some have noted it was visible in crowds on January 6th outside the Capitol. Well guess where else it's reportedly been flying for decades up until Saturday for some reason, outside San Francisco City Hall in the Civic Center Plaza.


We learned that, thanks to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle, hat tip to our friends in San Francisco even as my Phillies clobber, your Giants right now six-nothing in the middle of the eighth. Not that I'm watching. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer.