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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Judge Seems To Give Trump Final Warning, Jail Is Next; Israel Strikes Rafah As Hamas Accepts Outside-Brokered Deal; Jury Looking Into The Checks And Invoices In The Hush Money Charges Against Donald Trump; Boeing Starliner Launch Delayed By Technical Glitches. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 06, 2024 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Welcome to a special edition of NewsNight. I'm Abby Phillip in New York alongside Kaitlan Collins.

Tonight, R-E-S-P-E-C-T and the cost of compliance with the court, the judge has issued a damned if he does and damned if he doesn't threat to former President Trump over his repeated breaking of a gag order.

And the paper trail takes a stark turn. No headline witnesses today in court, but instead the jury got a crash course in the nitty-gritty details of the Trump Organization. It was a day of show and tell that included multiple checks and financial disclosures bearing the signature of Donald J. Trump. That is a critical piece of evidence that the prosecutors need to show that their case doesn't just rest on the word of perjurers, like Michael Cohen.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: There's also that question of a direct attack on the rule of law. The words of Judge Juan Merchan, starting today, addressing violation number ten of a gag order that limits what the defendant here can say.

The judge seems poised to move past the fines and lamenting that those $1,000 amounts really are just a slap on the hand for the former president. But the question of jailing him also risks making Donald Trump look like a martyr potentially, a risk that the judge seems acutely aware of, Judge Merchan telling Donald Trump this morning directly, Mr. Trump, it's important to understand that the last thing I want to do is put you in jail.

PHILLIP: And if you're wondering if Donald Trump left the court today chastened by the judge's warning, take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know what? Our Constitution is much more important than jail. It's not even close. I'll do that sacrifice any day.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Our panel is here with us to break down the most important moments from inside that courtroom. Joey Jackson, Robert Ray, Stacy Schneider, and Donte Mills all here in New York.

You got to feel for the judge here a little bit, maybe not Robert. I don't know. But you got to feel for him a little bit here because --

ROBERT RAY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, it's a tough position to be in.

PHILLIP: It's tough, right?

RAY: It's a tough position to be in.

PHILLIP: And he almost has no choice at this point because there are so many violations and Trump needs a warning.

RAY: He has choices and he has to put Donald Trump on notice that the last straw has arrived before he then decides to make a decision to incarcerate. That doesn't mean the judge has made that decision, but what he did today is a necessary prerequisite to taking that action if he were to take it.

I must say that I think that's, I hope, an avoidable result for all sides, avoidable for the judge, avoidable for Donald Trump. And most importantly, if the case travels down that road, what that means is probably an immediate standstill to the case. It means the jury is going to be stopped in its tracks, the trial will stop, and we're going to be in a collective time out when Donald Trump, in all likelihood, takes an appeal to a higher court, which would include the appellate division of the state of New York and possibly the state court of appeals. And that's not really in the public interest that that happened.

COLLINS: And the judge noted that today, saying, I am worried. And I know that you care, Mr. Trump, about how quickly this is proceeding along and that this would disrupt this and have a real pause. But, Joey Jackson, I think the other side of it, when people look at it, say, well, would anyone else be able to violate a gag order ten times and still be able to only continue to get a slap on the wrist in the way that Donald Trump is?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Simple answer, Kaitlan, absolutely not, right? And so if you look at it, just going back, the bottom line is that the judge is put in a very difficult position, but there's one person who could decide whether it's avoidable or not avoidable. And that's the individual he's speaking to. Mr. Trump knows after the tenth time, after the first time, the second, the third time that there are things you can do and things you cannot do.

And the issue is, I don't see this as stopping the trial and going to appeals. The judge has a number of options. You don't have to put someone in jail for 30 days. You can put them on time out for a few hours. You can put them on time out over a lunch period. You could put them on time out overnight. I mean, you have to -- and I think the judge is acting very humanely, very non-politically, but very sternly and saying that, look, we have options here. I don't want to do this. But if you leave me no choice, at the end of the day, I have to provide for the decorum of this court, the dignity, the respect of the court, and ultimately I have to protect people. And I will do what I am empowered to do if you force my hand in doing it. Let's hope he does not, but if he does, I think he's going to have to have (INAUDIBLE).

DONTE MILLS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But is he forcing his own hand? That's what I'm looking at. Because when you put somebody on notice, especially former President Donald Trump, if you put him on notice, you have to follow through.


Because he's going to come out and say he won if he doesn't. My concern is Donald Trump may want this to happen and he may say he won if he is put in jail.

STACY SCHNEIDER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But I want to say something. I don't think Donald Trump really wants this to happen, because I practice in those courtrooms and the process of him even going in, even if Judge Merchan said, I'll put him in for three hours just to teach him a lesson, which has been done before.

And most defendants in Manhattan Criminal Court have not gone as far as Donald Trump goes in the number of violations, you know, one or two, and you're in. You know, it might not be for 30 days, it might be for a few hours. But what's behind the courtroom, behind the wooden wall, behind the judge, is a seal, is a secret door. And that door goes to a holding area. And it's disgusting back there. There's a jail cell for defendants who are violent. There sometimes are benches with metal clips to handcuff defendants to a bench.

And those processes happen, the handcuffing the court officers surrounding the defendant, although in this case, there would be Secret Service detail in a very small, enclosed, very dirty area that has high traffic of jailed defendants coming in and out of court.

It would be a surreal experience for Donald Trump if he pushed the limits. And he is pushing, he's getting -- he's on the edge.

PHILLIP: He is pushing them, although he hasn't since the first set of penalties came down made new violations. So, there's that. But he keeps almost -- it's more of a P.R. thing, saying that he wants to violate it, but not actually going that far because he knows where the line.

RAY: Well, you can say PR, but it's really communicating to the electorate. I mean, Donald Trump -- in fairness to him, Donald Trump mentioned the Constitution and I wouldn't go that far, but I would say that he's weighing a calculus between compliance with a gag order and the judge's order versus his communication directly with the electorate. That's the calculation for him.

And if it comes to push to shove, he'll choose the electorate over incarceration.

MILLS: Well, he said that today.

RAY: I think that's what he said.

MILLS: Yes. He said today, I don't care about --

RAY: But the Constitution to one side, he's in a campaign, he's a candidate, he's going to choose the electorate over compliance.

PHILLIP: You could say that he is talking every day. He is not barred from doing that.

COLLINS: Every single day going into the court, when he says that he's barred from being able to be out on the campaign trail, on Sunday, he went to the F1 race. You know, he wasn't out on the campaign trail. So, he was in -- it was at F1. I mean, they could argue that's a campaign event.

But the other aspect of this and when you're looking at you know Donald Trump in this, the judge did give him a little bit of a win when you read through the actual order today because, he did not find Trump in contempt for certain comments he made about Michael Cohen. Their argument has been it's protected political speech because Michael Cohen is going out and attacking him before he quieted down.

So, when the Trump when Trump says the judge is so corrupt and unfair, those are the words he uses, the judge has actually been pretty straightforward, wouldn't you say?

MILLS: Well, you know, he will say it anyway.

RAY: No. And we've said that, we've previously commented about that. I mean, I think a lot of people on both sides of this have said it's sort of decidedly unfair to allow a situation in which you have a gag order where the witness that you're trying to protect is the one out there talking and you're sort of theoretically not supposed to be able to talk about the same thing that he's talking about to the media. And there was a voluntary pause, I understand, from Michael Cohen and then he was right back at it again.

Yes, I think the judge has sort of figured that out, and I think that explains --

COLLINS: But do you think the judge is being fair?

RAY: Well, I think he looked at that and I think that position with regard to that witness was partially indefensible, which is why he had a course correction.

Look, let's go back to where you started. The judge is in a difficult position too. This is not an easy thing to have to handle.

JACKSON: You can speak to the electorate, but you can also follow the order. There are things to be clear that he can do.

RAY: If life were only that simple.

JACKSON: Well, I'm not suggesting it's that simple.


JACKSON: So, let me finish my point, right, when you talk about not simple. The bottom line is there are certain things you can't do under the gag order, we can all agree. You can attack the prosecutor, right, Mr. Bragg day and night, right? That seems to me to be pretty clear and pretty simple. Say what you want. You could attack the judge day and night, say what you want. You could attack Biden day and night. You cannot intimidate witnesses. You can't attack the jury. You can't attack family members. What's not simple about that, I'm not getting.

The bottom line is you can have your campaign, you can do what you need to do, but there are certain limitations that are necessary and appropriate to move forward and to protect witnesses, to protect families. And if you don't do that, there needs to be consequences. And what those consequences are remains to be seen.

SCHNEIDER: And, Joey, it's so simple. It's words on a page. A court order is written. I mean, the judge will speak the order out and explain it, but you follow the order. You follow the words on the page.


It's not a flipping thing to just not follow a court order, and I don't know why Donald Trump expects that he's so special, that he should have to follow the same kind of order that's issued by every court.

MILLS: But he is special. He's a former president of the United States. So, the part that makes it not simple is what happens if the judge says, Donald Trump, you have to go sit in jail for even a couple of hours, and he tells his Secret Service members, I don't touch me though, I don't want them to touch me, they're sworn to protect him. What happens then? That's why it's not simple we don't know what the outcome of this is going to be or what direction is going to go. But I think the judge is wisely trying to avoid this as much as possible.

JACKSON: They have had discussions regarding that issue, right? This is not something they're built in contingencies.

RAY: And Joe Biden's Justice Department has already weighed in with regard to what that's going to look like. I have news for you.

MILLS: And also I didn't think January 6th would happen, right? Well, you never know.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, but I don't think that's political if Joe Biden's Justice Department is or isn't weighing in. It's a practical matter. I mean, the rate he's going, ten violations, they have to may have contingency plans in place. I understand that they even have a plan that if he was sent to a prison facility because of this that they're going to have someone taste his food even. I mean, they think all these things out. It's a really crazy, surreal situation.

RAY: But getting back to the gag order, the gag order is --

PHILLIP: That's not a reason it's not going to happen in the future.

RAY: Back to the gag order, the gag order is not so simple. Because any time a gag order starts to travel down the road of content, it is trouble.

Now, I understand an absolute bar with regard to some things about what you can say and who you can say it about, but the difficulty, that when you start carving up witnesses about which ones you can talk about and which ones you can't, you're automatically getting into sort of controlling --

JACKSON: Is that in the gag order?

RAY: Controlling --

MILLS: It could be with the exception for Michael Cohen, because Michael Cohen was talking about him. But the judge doesn't have authority over Michael Cohen. Donald Trump is a defendant in his courtroom and under his authority, and he can say you can't talk about witnesses.

COLLINS: Can we talk about something, an interesting dynamic in the courtroom? Because what's at the heart of this is the judge and what Trump was found in contempt of today was a comment he made about the jury, when he claimed in a radio interview that it was 95 percent Democrats. Clearly, that is not a compliment coming from Donald Trump. I think we all understand what his intent was there.

But what we learned today about what it's like sitting in that courtroom, and as the 12 jurors are, of course, seated there, they can see Donald Trump.

But something that I learned tonight from a witness is that the witness themselves can't see Donald Trump, that because of where they are seated and how the judge's bench extends out past where the witness is actually seated, that unless they lean forward pretty aggressively, they cannot actually make eye contact with Donald Trump. They only see the first attorney from his defense team.

SCHNEIDER: Right. It's the way the tables are set up. I mean, it's a huge courtroom with high ceilings. The witness box is high up toward where the judge is. So, if you have to look at an angle, like you're saying, and Donald Trump is seated with all his attorneys at the defense table, if you're at the wrong angle, you're not going to see the defendant.

And I've also seen reports similar to that, that Donald Trump is craning his neck to see the witnesses who went on today, because unlike other days, his eyes weren't shut today. He was all attuned when his Trump Organization employees were taking the stand.

RAY: The Constitution requires that he see them, yes. It doesn't require that the witness has to see Donald Trump.


MILLS: Not only it makes a difference. If the jury is testifying -- or, I'm sorry, if the witness is testifying about someone directly, they should be able to look at them, right? Because the jury wants to see that interaction, especially like, think about Hope Hicks, the jury wants to see if they make eye contact with her facial expressions or like. And if Donald Trump is blocked from her view, it takes away that component of it.

So, the jury can't really understand, you know, they're missing a part of that relationship and if she really is feeling compassionate or sad, you know, that emotion is connected to looking at somebody in the eyes is blocked.

PHILLIP: I mean, another attorney in previous hours where Arthur Dahlia (ph) was saying, that's partly by design in this particular courtroom, that that's how all the cases tried in this courtroom are. You cannot see the witness. You cannot see the defendant. And that actually might protect the witness in a way from any kind of intimidation that might occur.

SCHNEIDER: Yes. But it's not --

JACKSON: Yes. At the end of the day, the way I see it is that the case is about the merits of the testimony as elicited by the witnesses. With respect to who you can see and can't see, while it might be an issue for some discussion, the bottom line is what exhibits are being put in. Does it prove up the case or does it not? What are the witnesses testifying to? Does it meet the elements of the crime charge or does it not, et cetera.

We could talk about the logistical seating arrangements of the court day and night, but when the judge gives the instructions to the jury with regard to the 34 counts, they're going to delineate what the standard of proof is, et cetera, what the prosecutor should have proved should not, and that's what the jurors are going to deliberate on and make a determination.

MILLS: Credibility, it may show like some credibility of the witness if they're truthful, if they're --


JACKSON: I mean, cross-examination, in my mind, shows that, right? When you're cross-examining a witness, the nature of their answers to your questions, whether or not they have the reliable information, whether they don't, that's not predicated upon who they see. It's predicated upon how they respond to my questions. And so I just don't --

SCHNEIDER: But you're a defense attorney. I think trying a case and seeing the energy between the witness and the defendant and seeing those small impressions on a defendant's face, I've spoken to jurors after my client got convicted and I said, what happened? What was going on? And they said, your client was glaring at the witness in the box the entire time and we didn't trust him. Those little interactions really add to sort of the theater of it and give the jury some kind of human perspective on what's going on between those two people, the defendant and the witness.

MILLS: And it's those small things. I shift where you asked an important question, they kind of shift their eyes to look at the defendants, to see like are we are we together on this?

JACKSON: Look, eye-shifting is not part of the jury instructions at the end of the day, and I think the interactions are limited to the volley between the attorneys' questions and the answers that are given, not whether the defendant cranes his neck, whether he looks, whether he looks the other way, that's not evidence.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, there's the atmospherics and then there is the burden of proof. And, I mean, they're human beings in the jury box.

RAY: Well, your word is --

PHILLIP: They're going to take what they see.

RAY: Your word is the right one. A trial is theater. I mean, above all else that is why we have trials because that's what a trial was like and that's the human interaction that a jury provides to this in terms of evaluating what's happening right in front of them. And a lot of things are not in the jury instructions that doesn't make any difference.

MILLS: If that was the case, we could just read deposition transcripts.

RAY: That's why we call upon juries to make this judgment.

JACKSON: It always makes a difference what the jury instruction said, to be clear.

PHILLIP: Everyone stand by, a lot more to talk about ahead. We'll talk about today's testimony, which gets to the heart of these charges against Donald Trump.

Plus, there is breaking news tonight on two fronts. We are getting word of explosions and gunfire at the Rafah crossing in Gaza, as Israeli forces move in, this as Hamas says it has accepted a ceasefire deal brokered by outside nations.

COLLINS: We're also getting word tonight that NASA and Boeing have scrubbed what was supposed to be a historic launch over a technical issue. More details on that ahead.



PHILLIP: Breaking news tonight, explosions in Rafah as Israel is said to be on the verge of taking over the Palestinian side of that city's crossing with Egypt. We're also getting word of gunfire heard on the Egyptian side of that border.

These attacks come, as Hamas says, it has agreed to a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar. The news had Gazans celebrating in the streets. However, Israelis say that there is no deal on the table that Hamas has agreed to that they were a part of. Still, they are sending representatives back to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, families of the hostages implored Israeli leaders to accept that deal. And a source shared a document with CNN that put some of the details of the proposal in public view.

In the first phase, Hamas would release three hostages a week, specifically women, children, elderly, and the sick for six weeks. Then they would release an additional 15 hostages. In exchange, Israel would have to gradually withdraw its forces from parts of Gaza, stop all reconnaissance flights for ten hours a day, allow free movement of non-armed Palestinians throughout the Gaza Strip. And Israel would have to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, 30 Palestinian women and children for every Israeli hostage released by Hamas.

The first phase would also allow for humanitarian aid to enter the region. The specifics of that second phase, though, are still unclear. But the document that CNN reviewed said that it would include sustainable periods of calm in Gaza and for the release of the remaining hostages. That third phase would be a years-long plan to rebuild Gaza.

U.S. officials are describing this as more of a counterproposal by Hamas, given that it includes provisions that Israel never agreed to.

Now, joining me now is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the former IDF spokesperson, retired Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, also with us, the editor-in-chief and CEO of Zeteo, Mehdi Hassan.

Mehdi, I know you have an exclusive report about a letter that Republican senators sent to the International Criminal Court. We will get to that in just a few minutes. But I want to ask you about this reporting, about Hamas, saying publicly they've agreed to a ceasefire deal.

But it's really kind of a counterproposal that includes elements that they know Israel never agreed to. So, was this some kind of propaganda effort by Hamas to say, we're at the table, we're agreeing to something?

MEHDI HASAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, ZETEO: Well, look, the reporting we have says that, yes, it was an Egyptian-Qatari proposal that the Americans were involved in, too, Abby. The CIA director, Bill Burns, has been involved in this. The Israelis apparently were on board until, of course, Hamas agreed and then the Israelis bluff was called. And now they're saying, well, we don't agree to this proposal because we want to free the hostages, even though the proposal would help free the hostages.

PHILLIP: Can I just pause you there for a second, because I think I just want to add one bit of information I think is critical here? The part that Israel didn't agree to is the part that calls for a permanent end to the war. And I think this is really what is at issue here, that Israel has never agreed to that and that maybe this is a counter-proposal, but that means essentially that everybody has to get back to the table and agree to what's on the table now.


HASAN: Yes. But let me just say, in what world is Hamas going to say, we're going to release all the hostages and you carry on killing us? Obviously, outside world America, western countries has been wanting a ceasefire for a while. We were told Hamas was the obstacle, and now they're calling Israel's bluff.

The reality is, Abby, that the obstacle to a hostage deal has always been Benjamin Netanyahu. And those are not my words. Those are the words of Haim Rubinstein, the former spokesperson for the hostage's family, who told the Israeli press last week that Netanyahu has been the obstacle. He says that they found out there was a deal on the table back on October 9th, 10th to get hostage Israelis, but Netanyahu hid it from them. Those are the words of the spokesperson for the Israeli families of the hostages. And he hid it from them because he knows that if he agrees to a hostage deal, his fascist colleagues and his coalition government will collapse his government. This is Israeli domestic politics.

PHILLIP: Lieutenant Colonel, what about that? I mean, if the hostages are all released, shouldn't Israel seriously consider ending hostilities in Gaza and allowing for a political settlement that leads to the future?

LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: Yes, I'm listening to the second edition of Mehdi Hasan's monologue that I saw earlier. And it's not surprising that you're parroting Hamas' talking points.

Really, let's put things here in perspective. We have a terrorist organization that abducted civilians and soldiers. They're the ones for the last four months have been refusing any deal that Israel, the U.S., Qatar, Egypt and others have put forward. And now, when push comes to shove and when they see Israeli tanks lined up on their way to Rafah, all of a sudden they are agreeing. They're agreeing to something that wasn't on the table.

And it's quite absurd that this is even how it's covered. And it's classic deception 101 by an organization that is very savvy in deception and unfortunately has figureheads and mouthpieces all over western media doing their work, whether it's Al Jazeera or other places, and getting that message that out that Israel is the problem, when Israeli civilians and soldiers are the ones that have been abducted.

PHILLIP: I'll let Mehdi respond to that.

HASAN: So, I think all of your viewers saw me quote the spokesperson for the Israeli hostages' families, and the colonel then said, I'm parroting Hamas talking points. He's referring to the hostages' families as Hamas, as parroting Hamas talking points, because I quoted them. I didn't quote Hamas. In fact, tonight, the colonel knows that hundreds of people went to Netanyahu's house and screamed, you have blood on your hands, Israeli protesters. I guess they're all Hamas, right?

The Israeli position now is anyone who disagrees with them is Hamas. I'm guessing tomorrow they'll say CIA Director Bill Burns, who was involved in this hostage negotiation deal, he's Hamas, too, everyone is Hamas.

And as for deception, I mean, come on, the colonel was a spokesperson for the IDF, which has spent the last six months lying. Abby, your network has debunked multiple lies that the Israeli military has told CNN's Jeremy Diamond, I urge all your viewers to go and watch your colleague Jeremy Diamond's report on ten kids killed in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp last month. The Israelis said we had nothing to do with it. And yet Jeremy interviewed three munitions experts who looked at the evidence, said, yes, Israel killed those ten kids.

So, when we talk about deception, we're learning from the masters here.

PHILLIP: Look, Lieutenant Colonel, the hostage families are urging the government at this point to come forward and release the hostages as part of some kind of deal. One of the things that the families have said is that they feel like they are being abandoned. How do you respond to that, given that there are opportunities, it seems, to take a deal that would stop the fighting in exchange for getting their loved ones home?

Lieutenant Colonel, I'm not sure you could hear me. Can you hear me now?

I think we're going to try to get him back.

But, Medhi, I do want to get back to one other aspect of this, which is, from Israel's perspective, they want to make sure that Hamas is not in a position to ever attack them again.

And I think you would agree that that's a reasonable position for them to have. So, hostages all being returned, if they say that's not enough, I mean, Hamas, it seems like shouldn't be in a position to be dictating the terms of their own surrender in a war that they started.

HASAN: So, it's a good question, Abby, and it's a reasonable goal. Of course it is. But if you don't want Hamas to be in a position to attack you again, maybe you shouldn't energize and embolden Hamas. This entire conflict has turned Palestinians in the entire region against Israel. It's made Israelis less safe, not more safe. It's obviously killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.


And Israel has a right to say, okay. We don't want to be attacked again. But at what cost? 34,000 Palestinians dead, tens of thousands more under the rubble, 14 and a half thousand children dead, 1.2 million people hiding out in Rafah and now being told to move to be relocated 600,000 children.

Abby, UNICEF say you cannot move 600,000 children, many of whom are sick, wounded, malnourished. They say it'll be a catastrophe. There is no safe zone to go to; it's the most Orwellian phrase that Israeli spokespersons use. There is nowhere safe in Gaza. So, of course Israel wants to reasonably not be attacked again, but doing this doesn't work and it's morally unsustainable.

PHILLIP: Looks like we have Jonathan Conricus back. Lieutenant- colonel, I do want to talk about this Rafah Invasion that seems to be on the horizon here. Our colleague. Barak Ravid. is reporting that sources tell him that Israeli forces are going to take over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza. We're already seeing. What seems like bombs falling there tonight? Why is Israel doing this when they know that there is no safe place as many was saying for civilians to go and Rafah is the place that initially the Israeli government told them to go?

CONRICUS: Yeah, I would take everything that my respected colleague to the panel here says with a lot of pinches of salt. Lots of untruths were said when I was on air and off air and I won't give them credibility by repeating that. What I say is this it Rafah is a place where Hamas and UNRWA has told people to go, the sad reality in Gaza is that Hamas uses these civilians as human shields and doesn't leave Israel with any other option books to ask people to leave. Now Israel is doing that out of concern for human life and their safety--

PHILLIP: Lieutenant-colonel, I have to stop you there because the IDF told Gazan civilians to move to the south. Rafah was the only safe place, supposedly safe place for them to go. So this is not about UNRWA. This is actually where they are going because the rest of the country is in rubble So, where are they supposed to go now?

CONRICUS: Right, so there are various locations in Gaza a few miles northeast of Rafah and northwest of Rafah close to Khan Younis where they can go and hopefully they will go and I agree I take the point that it is a harsh environment and not an ideal environment for anybody to live in. I wouldn't want to be there to be frank, but the sad reality is that the responsibility for this situation lies on Hamas' shoulders.

And I think that if we detach ourselves from agendas and ideas and Israel hatred And if we look at the situation from a let's say a more clean perspective, what choice that Israel had -- what choice does Israel have in order to defend its civilians in their homes?

If Hamas is allowed to continue to exist to store weapons and to prepare for the next attack then it is only a matter of time before these attacks will come and those are not my words. Mehdi, those are the words of Hamas leaders who say that we will do October 7th again and again until we reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and I don't think that Israel should allow that to happen. And if it means sadly moving people around before combat starts and making sure that they are safer not safe. But safer away from harm's way by telegraphing Israeli intentions then I think that is a very humane thing to do. Hamas sadly must be defeated.

PHILLIP: We do -- I do need to, I do need to move on but I just want to say one thing I mean, this is not a question of hating Israel, It's a question of the reality on the ground, which is that there is already a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. And there's no question that trying to move over a million people in short period of times is not going to be something that is feasible. But Mehdi, I have to get to your reporting and I do want to talk -- I do want to talk. You -- you don't agree that there's a humanitarian catastrophe occurring right now in Gaza?

CONRICUS: No, I don't agree that it cannot be done because --

PHILLIP: I didn't say that --

CONRICUS: -- these are the same lines that were told. This were the same things that were told to Israel before Israel started its invasion of Gaza City and believe me I answer that question hundreds if not thousands of times and we were it was alleged that this was tantamount to war crime that we were asking people to move when in fact, it was possible 900,000 out of a million point one people did eventually moved and it saved a lot

HASAN: You then killed them.

CONRICUS: And I think that should be acknowledged and the same talking points are being repeated now by the same Hamas mouthpieces.

PHILLIP: Mehdi, you could respond.

CONRICUS: Go ahead.

HASAN: So, NBC News reported last month, Abby, that seven different air strikes from Israel took place in what were designated as safe zones by Israel.


Palestinians were told to go to safe zones by Israel and then killed in those safe zones by Israel. That's reporting from NBC News But I'm sure the colonel would say they're Hamas as well. Everyone who disagrees with the colonel is Hamas. And by the way, he's quoting a Hamas spokesman.

None of us like Hamas, but let's quote someone on his side the Likud party international vice chairman Netanyahu's Party, he said he said a couple of days ago the Likud party vice chair, Colonel you can respond to this quote, the Likud party vice chair -- international vice chair said on Israeli TV a couple of days ago, there are no uninvolved civilians in Rafah. No, there are no innocent people in Rafah 1.2 million.

No innocent people and we should go in, these are his words, and kill and kill and kill. Sounds pretty genocidal to me colonel. Do you agree with that? CONRICUS: I agree that those are comments that are horrible and

shouldn't be thought and shouldn't be said and I'm happy that I don't have to explain the Likud party or whoever that is that you're sourcing and I don't haven't heard the quote. But I can tell you what the chief of staff the guy that is responsible for the use of force in Gaza, and he speaks relentlessly about not killing civilians and he gives orders not to kill civilians and he gives orders and instructions to troops on the ground to apply this distinction and to apply proportionality and speaking about safe zones, yesterday four soldiers were killed when mortars were fired from Rafah from a safe zone at Israeli soldiers.

And I'm sure that it's not wouldn't bother you too much that four soldiers are killed. But they were killed fired from a safe zone in Rafah happened yesterday, I don't have an MSNBC report to quote it, but it happened. Nevertheless.

PHILLIP: All right guys. I have to leave it there. Mehdi, you have some really important reporting about a letter from Republican lawmakers to the ICC About the possibility of arrest warrants for Israelis as it relates to war crimes. You can go on to Zeteo's website to find that reporting, but unfortunately, we are out of time here. Mehdi Hasan, Jonathan Conricus, thank you both for an important conversation.

CONRICUS: Thank you.

HASAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next to see what the jurors saw today in court that goes to the heart of the charges against Donald Trump plus there is more evidence that Donald Trump was at the center of everything that went on in his business. We'll discuss that.



PHILLIP: Tonight, follow the money. The prosecution tried to walk the jury through the standard operating procedures of Donald Trump's business organization. It's an empire that functioned less like a billion-dollar behemoth and more like your mom-and-pop corner store, but the former president at the center of everything.

CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson has been pouring through the transcripts of today's testimony. Joey, the prosecution asked the bookkeeper to talk about how Trump signed the checks and dealt with money and now we have the entrance of the Sharpies.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We certainly do and let's talk about what those Sharpies are. This is the accountant, of course Deborah Tarasoff. And so this is what happened in response to brass tacks. We're right now on the actual documents, right so what happened? Prosecutor asked the following question. What if you cut a check from the DJT account? Did Mr. Trump have to sign the check because Mr. Weisselberg, of course, he's the chief financial officer or was approved it? Witness answers no, if he didn't want to sign it, he didn't sign it.

Prosecutor then asked did you ever see situations where he didn't sign checks? Witness, yes. Prosecutor then asked, Abby, what would happen in those situations? Witness, Tarasoff the accountant, he would write void on it and send it back. Prosecutor then asked, how do you know he would write void on it? Answer by the accountant Miss Tarasoff, it was signed in a Sharpie in black. That is what he usually uses.

Okay, so this is significant because now we're getting into hardcore evidence, right? Remember it's about the business records the ledgers, the invoices, the checks. You have an accountant here who ultimately who deals with these issues and this is significant because it goes to Donald Trump's knowledge or intent if you believe it.

He took his Sharpie pen might have been in the White House and he ultimately signed the checks. Does that demonstrate his knowledge? Does that demonstrate he was part of the conspiracy? Does that demonstrate that he was engaged in falsifying business records to conceal another crime? That's a jury question, but we had hard evidence (inaudible).

PHILLIP: And more than a jury question. It wasn't dealt with really that part was not dealt with however I mean, I thought it was very significant. Not that he signed the check but that there were checks that he didn't sign and that if he didn't want to make a payment he just wouldn't do it.

SCHNEIDER: Right and there was a lot of talks from his two employees today that everything went through him very consistent with he's a micromanager. Even David Pecker from the "National Enquirer" said Donald Trump's a micromanager and the prosecution don't forget even though the prosecution goes first, Abby, this is their witness. It's Donald Trump's employee.

But they're calling the witness because they have to establish this chain of getting in the business records into the case like Joey said it's 34 counts of falsifying business records. But the details that are coming out from these witnesses were very significant today for example the checks being paid back to Michael Cohen from January to December of 2017 when Trump was already in the White House when the Trump Organization processed the check for Donald Trump to sign from his own personal account the Donald J. Trump account.


They would FedEx the checks to the White House and then they would be sent back to the Trump Organization for processing. And what's unusual here? And I think maybe the jury might be thinking this and it's intentional on the part of the prosecutor is why is Donald Trump paying Michael Cohen? $35,000 a month for 12 months. While he's president of the United States, what are those services that Michael Cohen is providing and the whole crux of the case is that those were allegedly services provided for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels before the election and now he's allegedly getting reimbursed after the election at different amounts and that's part of sort of the disguise? PHILLIP: All right, Defense Counsel.

MILLS: Yes. It feels like in this case every time they get right up to the line we're about to close the door on Donald Trump have him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt it stops, it comes to a halt.

So they have here checks that he signed. Clearly he signed checks for Michael Cohen, but Michael Cohen was his attorney. There's that's not a dispute. So it's not illegal to pay your attorney. It's also not illegal for those checks to go out. What has to be illegal is the ledgers what was indicated on those checks and we got right up to that door and it didn't close.

JACKSON: It's not illegal to pay your attorney a retainer fee, right? Now the issue is was this a retainer fee or was it knowledge that you were reimbursing your attorney that you directed to pay hush money. That's the issue and that's what the jury is going to decide. This is not, Donte.

MILLS: We don't have an answer to that though, right?

JACKSON: Well, we have yet. Maybe we have reasonable inferences from the facts. What is the president of the United States doing taking his personal account paying his lawyer specific money from that account on a monthly basis noted as reimbursement, reimbursement for what? What specific legal services did you perform that would justify that payment or was it because you had knowledge that you were giving him a bonus because he was doing your bidding at your behest paying off a point? That's the issue.

MILLS: But even that's not illegal. What's illegal is it has to be falsifying business documents? That is the legal part where we don't have that.

RAY: The answer to your three questions were or no and no and I mean, you're right. I mean I good luck with a prosecution case arguing inferences from the volitional act of the CEO of the company signing the checks. I'm you know, I just --

SCHNEIDER: You know it's but there's more than that --

RAY: Okay.

SCHNEIDER: -- there was a retainer agreement this came out today and I think this is a big deal.

RAY: Okay.

SCHNEIDER: Michael Cohen every month again from January to December of 2017 sent an invoice by email to the Trump organization that said pursuant to the retainer agreement. Here's my invoice for services rendered in the following month and that the bookkeeper described the whole process. We have to have an invoice. We don't pay unless there's an invoice. But the D.A.'s office has already signaled and put out there that there is no retainer agreement and that information was actually contained in the D.A.'s statement of facts that was issued on April 4th of 2023 when the case first got indicted. There is no retainer agreement.

RAY: I do remember that.

PHILLIP; And the argument it would be that this was a scheme to conceal the arrangement I mean if it hadn't been -- if it had been an arrangement for a confidentiality agreement made in a really transparent way this we wouldn't be here.

RAY: I get the scheme argument and I get the fact that there are co- conspirators floating around the part that the prosecution has to prove that's nice. Except that none of those people are on trial the only person who's on trial is Donald Trump unless as you suggest they can prove that Donald Trump has that intent. They don't have it.

PHILLIP: That's what they've got to prove.

RAY: That's what they've got to prove.

JACKSON: A long way to proving it.

RAY: -- and that's and that part's not there. Yeah, we're 12 days into this thing. And I understand that we're 10 days probably, so we're not there yet.

SCHNEIDER: I think it's coming.

PHILLIP: We got a couple weeks. They said maybe--

MILLS: I think it came and I think the evidence is pretty.

RAY: I guess I must have missed it my no and no might have been yes and yes.

PHILLIP: It was there. Panel my good panel. You all have been excellent tonight. Thank you very much for joining us.

And just in, NASA is scrubbing tonight's historic launch of two astronauts on board Boeing's Starliner spaceship. Hear the reason and what happens next, we're live at Cape Canaveral next.



PHILLIP: Boeing Starliner scrubbed again by NASA. It happened with the astronauts already on board and ready to fly. I want to go straight to CNN's Kristin Fisher who is at Cape Canaveral tonight. Kristin, I heard you saying earlier today picture perfect weather everything looked a go and now this, what happened?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: I know so believe it or not, Abby, this scrub had nothing to do with Boeing, it had to do with United Launch Alliance's rocket. So the way this works you have the Boeing Starliner Spacecraft on the very top. That's that gumdrop shaped capsule where astronauts Butch Willmore and Sunny Williams are or were tonight. And that is what's actually being tested in this test flight but tonight, the problem was with the ULA rocket the Atlas 5 that propels the Boeing Starliner into orbit and what's so bizarre here is that you know, this is a tried and true rocket.


It's flown a hundred missions or this would have been its 100th flight. So you wouldn't necessarily think that that's where the problem would arise tonight on a night with picture perfect weather. But hey that space. So there's a press conference ongoing. What we learned is that the issue was with a faulty oxygen relief valve the way it was described is a valve on your home water tank that vents gas. There's a problem with that. They're going to try again tomorrow Abby. But it might be a delay of several more days if they have to actually go up and replace that valve. Abby?

PHILLIP: Yeah, well a testament to the checks and balances that are in place to make sure that everything is exactly what it should be going up into space. Kristin Fisher thank you very much for that.

And thank you for watching "Newsnight". Laura Coates picks up our special coverage next.