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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Chaos In Trump Criminal Trial As Prosecution Rests Case; Michael Cohen Admits To Stealing $60,000 From Trump Company; Iran's President Killed, ICC Seeks Arrest Of Israel's Netanyahu; Abby Phillip And Guest Panel Discuss War Crimes; Rapper Cam'ron Giles Comments On Diddy's Apology On Instagram. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: She always had a way to find something in common with them, even if they had nothing in common at all.

As we have been remembering her and hearing so much from so many people that she meant a lot to, Alice is going to be remembered for her kindness and for her empathy. And we are thinking of all of her friends and family as they deal with her loss. And as we here at CNN also process it. May her memory be a blessing.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN NewsNight starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: The circus comes to the courtroom. That's tonight on NewsNight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in New York.

Tonight, tensions and chaos erupt inside of the courtroom. Let me set the scene for you. The Trump team made a game time decision to call a witness, Robert Costello. He's a former legal advisor to Michael Cohen. Now about 14 minutes into his testimony, Costello vividly demonstrated why he may have caught Trump's attention. But the presiding judge was not amused.

Costello rolled his eyes at Judge Merchan. He let out an audible sigh after an objection. And the transcript may be the best way to describe what happened next in that courtroom. The judge, he says, I wanted to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom. Costello, right. Judge, okay, so when there is a witness on the stand, if you don't like my ruling, you don't say, geez, okay? And then you don't say strike it because I'm the only one who can strike testimony in the courtroom. Do you understand that? Costello, I understand. Judge, okay, then if you don't like my ruling, you don't give me the side eye and you don't roll your eyes. Do you understand that? Do you understand that? Costello, I understand that. I understand what you're saying. Judge, okay, thank you. Let's get the jury back.

Are you staring me down right now? Costello, No. I'm just wondering how -- Judge, clear the courtroom, please. Clear the courtroom.

Bottom line, Judge Merchan, who is normally soft spoken, measured, he was furious today. The judge cleared that courtroom and dressed down the witness, all of which served mostly to distract from what would have otherwise been a pretty strong day for the defense. The prosecution's star witness, Michael Cohen, well, he may have flown a little too close to the sun and scorched the government's case against the former president in the process. Trump's lawyers backed Michael Cohen into a shocking admission, that the fixer is a thief.

Now, on the stand, Cohen said that he took $60,000 from payments that he had received from Trump, which included reimbursement for the hush money that he ultimately paid to Stormy Daniels, the very payments that are at the core of this trial. And that is an alleged crime that Cohen never faced charges for.

Joining me now is former counsel to President Trump during his first impeachment, Robert Ray, former Federal Prosecutor Gene Rossi, and Washington Correspondent for New York magazine Olivia Nuzzi, and Trial Lawyer Deanna Paul.

Robert, this is a pretty shocking decision, actually, on the part of the defense to bring Costello in from our reporting, despite a lot of back and forth internally, to give them what seemed to ultimately be not a whole lot and then in the process antagonize the judge.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER COUNSEL TO TRUMP DURING FIRST IMPEACHMENT: Well, I think about antagonizing the judge. Fortunately, most of what you just read there transpired out of the presence of the jury. I mean, there were some things that this witness did that caught this judge's attention he was pretty upset about that did happen before the jury. But --

PHILLIP: And he was reacting in real time before he took the jury out of the room.

RAY: So, the question is really, you know, how much did the jury capture of this? And what, if any reaction will they have? Look, the only purpose of calling this witness was to impeach Michael Cohen's testimony with proof of a prior inconsistent statement, i.e. to the effect that Costello knows because Cohen told him that he didn't have anything on Trump, which is obviously contrary to his testimony now at trial. And that's the only reason that you would have called him. I mean, turning it into a circus obviously is not, generally speaking, a good idea. But as far as what actually transpired before the judge, the jury, of course, is not aware of any of that. I think they obviously know about the commotion and that may have, you know, some collateral effect.

But, you know, the more important part of today's testimony was the part that you led with, which is the stuff, you know, relative to what Michael Cohen did.

PHILLIP: And we'll get to that in just a moment. I mean, it's so interesting to me that Costello showed up on Capitol Hill last week. He gave this blockbuster testimony, at least according to conservatives.

[22:05:02] And it was no surprise to me that that would have gotten Trump's attention. It was intended to get Trump's attention. It was intended to get Trump's attention.

They bring him into the courtroom and we're only halfway through this thing. The prosecution is going to get a stab at Costello and I suspect it's going to be all about what this kind of mafia-like environment that was all around Trump with Giuliani, with Costello and with Michael Cohen.

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Donald Trump does not have good ideas and it seems possible that this was his legal team appeasing him in some way and saying, okay, if you like this guy who just testified in a way that was attractive to you on Capitol Hill, I guess we can bring him in. If he wasn't truly necessary to their case, it seems like a good guess that maybe this was about the kind of audience of one theory that all of his lawyers end up having to deal with at some point.

And you saw today after Trump left the courtroom, he went and he addressed the cameras as he does.

PHILLIP: Yes, let's actually play that moment. This is Trump speaking after the proceedings today.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You saw what happened to a highly respected lawyer today, Bob Costello. Wow. I've never seen anything like that, highly respected.


NUZZI: Abby, Look at Todd Blanche's face in that clip. He looks like he is not breathing for the entirety of this press conference. And I was worried he was going to pass out, truly. He looked like he was not breathing, and like he's just standing there bracing himself, hoping that his client does not violate this gag order, which arguably he did, and does not create further calamity.

Every day it seems like Todd Blanche and the rest of the legal team is sort of just praying that their client doesn't do yet another deeply silly thing to make this more complicated for them.

DEANNA PAUL, TRIAL LAWYER AND FORMER PROSECUTOR: I had the same reaction. I thought that it could very well, very well be another violation of the gag order and we'll see what Judge Merchan says tomorrow.

What stood out to me the most today was just the way Judge Merchan has been able to control the courtroom throughout the course of the trial. You had -- even when Trump was muttering things when Stormy Daniels was on the stand, he called the lawyers up to sidebar and said, control your client, but didn't want to embarrass him. And today we saw that again, where rather than calling Costello out in front of a room full of press and full of Trump supporters, cleared the courtroom in order to give him as, and really as stern of a warning as you possibly could without actually holding him in contempt.

PHILLIP: Yes. He even cleared the courtroom of the media, which is actually a whole other step that we have never seen in this hearing before. I mean, there's one thing to have a sidebar, but to take all the press out of the room so that you can do what you're going to do without them witnessing it, that's the only explanation.

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I can tell you this. I've never seen this in my entire 30 years as a prosecutor or as a defense attorney, but I just want to supplement something that Robert said, who brought up a couple of good points, at least. Did the jury sense something wrong was happening? I say yes. And the reason is there are two attorneys on that jury.

And I'll guarantee you, even though they didn't hear the sidebar and the cleared courtroom comments that you just read, those two attorneys and probably other jurors could sense that the way Mr. Costello was acting was beyond the pale.

And I got to say this primacy recency, you start off with a good argument and you end with a good argument. If that is their last witness, heaven forbid Donald Trump ended on the worst possible note only Mr. Costello could have rehabilitated Michael Cohen because. What did Michael Cohen say? I didn't trust the guy. I thought essentially he was a sleaze ball and he was working for Giuliani, and I didn't want to tell him what I didn't need to tell him.

So what did Costello do he? Reinforced what Cohen had said about Costello. That's not a good way to end your case.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, look, we were not expecting Costello to be the last witness or a witness at all, frankly. I mean, sources have been telling CNN he was unlikely to be. But then instead of taking this moment, Robert, where, as you pointed out, they catch Michael Cohen in a lie. I mean, it's not the first time we've heard this particular thing where he stole the money, but it was a grand larceny. It's a theft. And he acknowledged it.

RAY: Yes. It's not just about the fact that it's a lie. It's right in the middle, as Elie Honig in a prior segment earlier today. It's like right in the middle of what they're charging Donald Trump with. And he, it turns out, that Donald Trump is a victim of a crime himself. So, it's like you can't make this stuff up.

NUZZI: It really is like the second half of Good Fellas here.

PHILLIP: What do you make of that though, Robert? I mean, the whole --

RAY: That's legally a circus. The rest of it may be a -- you're correct to point out the stuff with Costello. Costello comes with a lot of baggage. I was a little worried when I saw that that's where the defense was going. Because, you know, you really want to make it about, if you're the defense, that the prosecution is politically motivated.


When you put Costello up in there and you start raising Rudy Giuliani and other people into this, it comes with, you know, baggage.

Now, how much the prosecution is going to be able to do with that and what would be admissible, we'll find out I guess tomorrow, but nevertheless, the legal circus --

PHILLIP: There's a criminal defendant and then the criminal defendant may have been a victim of a crime as well that is not charged. Everybody looks bad in this situation.

ROSSI: Can I just make a comment? And Robert is outstanding prosecutor, and we know what fronting is. And fronting is when the prosecutor has a witness on a stand and the witness has baggage, as Robert knows, you try to front it. You try to bring out the warts, the baggage. I'm going to play a Monday morning quarterback. We never throw interceptions.


ROSSI: I don't think the prosecutors fronted enough. Of Michael Cohen's warts, and this theft thing is something that they should really have gotten in the weeds on.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean --

RAY: Well, there are two things, though, two things that didn't come out on direct examination, of course, have been the focus of the most recent cross-examination. One is what was happening during that October phone call. They didn't front the fact that it was about the stalker, you know, principally. And then the second thing is this, which is they didn't front the fact that not only was there a theft, he didn't take a -- Michael Cohen didn't take a guilty plea for that, and it also was never mentioned during his direct examination. I mean, that makes not only the witness look bad, it makes the prosecution look bad.

PHILLIP: One thing I think about, though, with this whole story, I mean, there's so many ways to interpret this. Part of it also is that this tactic of Trump having Michael Cohen essentially front money for him and then reimbursing him is part of the pattern that actually the prosecution is trying to establish for what they -- how they handled Stormy Daniels.

PAUL: I agree with what you were saying. I think the more effective line of cross-examination was about the call with Keith Schiller and the idea that that was never brought up during grand jury. I mean, it was the first time he ever talked about it. And when it comes to -- and we know Michael Cohen's an opportunist. So, this idea that he pocketed $30,000, I mean, does it make or break the prosecution's case? I don't think so. I think the thing that really undercuts his credibility to the jury is going to be hearing over and over that he lied, he lied under oath and that directly goes to his ability to be able to be a credible witness on the stand.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, actually just as a little sidebar here. The thing that Trump -- that Michael Cohen paid this firm for is one of the most Trumpian things I've ever heard of, a basically unimportant CNBC poll that he paid $50,000 to try to game.

NUZZI: It's easy to forget all of this now because so many more important things have happened. But the campaign began in the atrium of Trump Tower. They hired actors to pretend to be Trump supporters. We forget that. They were doing fake polls, left and right. Michael Cohen ran a Twitter account called Women, Women for Michael Cohen, let's not forget. I know you were a follower. But like it was a very strange, strange campaign where they were just making shit up all the time. And it didn't matter in the end, except for now when it does.

PHILLIP: One thing that also happened today was about this video of that phone call -- or not -- a video of Donald Trump and Keith Schiller that would basically serve to kind of substantiate that phone call, that critical phone call that the defense had actually so well tried to undercut. How significant is it that they were allowed to get that evidence in today, despite the vociferous objections of the defense?

I mean, one of one of our reporters really said, of all the things that the defense has objected to, this was probably the thing they objected to the most, a video of Donald Trump and Keith Schiller together around the time when that phone call was supposed to have happened.

ROSSI: Well, I will say this, the photo itself -- I think only the photo came in, not the video. I love baseball. And is, is the photo a home run? No, it's probably a weak bunt, all right? What the prosecutor is trying to do is just show that the Schiller and Trump were joined at the hip and that at the precise moment that Cohen called, I guess it was 8:04, yes, four minutes later Schiller and Trump were right together.

So, is it a home run? No. Does it sort of rehabilitate? Just a little bit, yes. But I think the damage was done during the cross-examination of Cohen when this whole thing about the --

RAY: I wouldn't have fought so hard to keep it out. And if the jury saw that the defense was trying too hard to exclude it, frankly, that to me is more damaging than the evidence itself. I'd have let it in even if I thought, geez, that's not so great, mostly because, I mean, he's the guy's bodyguard.


Of course, he's with him all the time. What difference does it make that they have a photo of together, even if the timestamp is around the time that the phone call came in? That really wasn't the defense's argument. The defense's argument was, this phone call was about a particular subject matter that you completely neglected to testify to in the grand jury and during your direct examination, and now all of a sudden you got caught. So, I don't really know that the photograph changes any of that to any significant degree, but it just didn't look good.

PHILLIP: Some interesting choices made by the defense counsel today in court. Everyone, thank you very much for all of that.

And tonight, there is a potential arrest warrant now for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's war in Gaza, and President Biden is livid about it. We'll debate next.

Plus, new details on that helicopter crash that killed the hard line president of Iran and what it means for the world now.

And just in tonight, why Sean Diddy Combs did not mention his ex- girlfriend, Cassie, in his apology after that horrific video of him beating her.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: War and chaos have always forged history. And right now, it seems that everywhere you look across the global map, you can find a degree of chaos that may just echo across the next few decades. The spider web of global crises touched every region, every faith, every problem of power that American policymakers have spent decades trying to solve, Ukraine.

These days, it seems that war has been receding from the headlines, even while the conflict is white hot. Russia is again on the advance, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy is again pleading with the west to get directly involved in its war for survival.

Gaza, that war, again, in the headlines today as the International Criminal Court pursues arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for the leader of Hamas. The ICC's message, nobody is above the law. The message from the White House, you cannot compare a terrorist to an elected leader and the United States' closest ally in the region.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas. And it's clear Israel wants to all do all it can to ensure civilian protection. But let me be clear, contrary to allegations against Israel made by the International Court of Justice, what's happening is not genocide.


PHILLIP: And Iran, which suddenly finds itself confronting an internal power struggle, a helicopter crash that killed its hardliner president leaves Tehran without a bulwark of the brutal theocratic regime. His death means the jockeying to replace Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah, begins much sooner rather than years down the road, as many observers had expected.

And here in the United States, where, of course, the November 2024 election and who wins that race may determine if the world can depend on America or if they should expect America alone.

For more on the arrest warrants, let me bring in Mehdi Hassan, author of Win Every Argument, The Art of Debating, and Jonathan Schanzer, former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Mehdi, I want to start with you. And I know that we will spend a lot of time discussing the part that has gotten this really to the front pages, which is the charges against the Israeli leaders. But on the issue of Hamas, is it justified for there to be such a delay in bringing charges against Hamas for actions that happened many, many months ago on October 7th that we've known about? Those atrocities have been clear for a long time, and yet the charges only come now.

MEHDI HASAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CEO, ZETEO: I'm not sure. Actually, I think that Karim Khan, the ICC chief prosecutor, would say that he was building a very careful case. He's a very careful lawyer. He has been there for, I think, a few years since 2021. And when he became chief prosecutor, he said he would be looking at Israel-Palestine because the ICC said they had jurisdiction over crimes committed on Palestinian territory. He's interviewed survivors. He talks about it very eloquently in his statement today. And I think, look, Hamas should be held to account for what we all saw them do on October the 7th, the killing of civilians, hostage taking, some of us said, on the day. Those are war crimes.

So, I'm glad they're being held to account. The problem, of course, is, is that some people, including the President of the United States, say only Hamas should be able to account for crimes committed in that part of the world, even though since October the 7th, tragically, we have seen many more innocent people killed on the other end, killed by the Israeli war machine.

And I think it's quite right that, as you said in your introduction, no one is above the law. And this whole nonsense about moral equivalence, I've been hearing it all day, moral equivalence. No one is saying there's any moral equivalence. People are saying that there is one law, international humanitarian law, everyone should be held to it, whether you are a government, whether you are a militant group, whether you are a terrorist, whether you are an individual, whether you are a prime minister, no one is above the law.

And Karim Khan is doing the right thing in bringing charges against people in that part of the world, requesting arrest warrants for people who -- we've all seen. Netanyahu and the leaders of Hamas carry out horrific things in front of our eyes.

PHILLIP: Jonathan, your response?

JONATHAN SCHANZER, SENIOR V.P., FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Look you know, I'm not going to get into this moral equivalence thing because I think it's a ridiculous thing to talk about. We know that Hamas deliberately went out and raped women, slaughtered 1,200 people, took 240 people hostage, and the Israelis are now responding in a defensive war and they have every right to do it.


And they're putting their own soldiers at risk while they're trying to deliver aid. And that's the charge that the ICC brought against Israel, that they were waging a siege when, in fact, they're actually putting their own soldiers at risk. But I think it's important to unpack a few things here.

PHILLIP: Let me ask you about that, because I think that is, as you point out, a key part of what the ICC is saying, they're talking about the use of starvation and deprivation as tools of war. And you may remember that senior Israeli officials at the onset of this war, they stated pretty clearly no power, no water would be going to Gaza until the hostages were freed. That was pointed out at the time to be a statement of collective punishment.

There is, as most international observers say, a famine on the verge of descending on Gaza right now. Shouldn't that be something that is under the scrutiny of the ICC?

SCHANZER: Well, let me just say on the verge is not a famine, right? And I think we need to differentiate here. And everybody keeps saying on the verge, but we've not yet seen facts that back this up. There is no U.N. criteria for how many calories need to come in every day for this not to be a siege. The Israelis are actually bringing in massive numbers of trucks, and they're doing it at peril to their own soldiers.

And moreover, I think we just need to say this, I have not ever seen a successful case brought by any international court in any circumstance where you've seen this siege thing actually play out. I think it's a Hail Mary. There doesn't seem to be -- not only have we not seen any cases brought, but I don't think we've ever seen a successful case brought on this.

We know that this ICC prosecutor was actually negotiating with the Israelis and with the United States up until a few days ago. This is a monkey court. If they're negotiating about what kind of charges they're going to bring, and then they finally bring them and it just does not hold water.

And we can see now the reaction of the president of the United States, the reaction of members of Congress. They're going to sanction this prosecutor, just like they did the last one, because the ICC is simply illegitimate. It is not taken seriously here in the United States because they pick and choose how they want to apply this very loose interpretation of international law.

PHILLIP: Mehdi, I want you to respond, but I want to correct myself. The United States has already said, Samantha Power, a U.S. official, has said that famine has begun in Gaza. Mehdi, your response to what Jonathan said? HASAN: So, just on the ICC, America is not a party to the ICC, so the rest of the world doesn't really care whether America likes the ICC or not. That's not really relevant here. The jurisdiction is the ICCs. As for Karim Khan, he was actually Israel's favorite choice for prosecutor in 2021, as the Israeli media reported at the time. Now, suddenly he's unpopular. He's the greatest anti-Semite of our times, according to Netanyahu, simply because he's asked for arrest warrants.

Jonathan says we're on the verge of famine. As you said, Abby, Samantha Power disagrees. In fact, you know who disagrees with Jonathan? Cindy McCain, the head of the World Food Programme, the wife of the most pro Israel American senator of my lifetime, John McCain, says Northern Gaza is in a full blown famine. She said the other day that children in Gaza are dying as skeletons, right? That is what is going on in Gaza. She also says Israel is not allowing the World Food Programme full access.

Jonathan wants you to believe that this is a defensive war. He wants you to disbelieve every major human rights group in the world that says otherwise. He wants you to believe there's no famine in Gaza and disbelieve every major humanitarian aid agency on the planet that disagrees with him.

The facts are pretty clear to people who are watching. There's a reason why a majority of Canadians want to see an ICC investigation. There's a reason why a majority of Britons say Israel is committing war crimes. There's a reason why a majority of French, Belgians, Germans, Swedes have all told pollsters they think Israeli officials should be prosecuted for war crimes.

There's a reason why plurality of Americans, according to a recent poll that my organization, Zeteo, did, say Israel is guilty of war crimes, because we all have eyes. We can see children being pulled from the rubble. We can see churches, mosques, refugee camps, hospitals, schools, libraries, universities, cemeteries being bombed.

And as for Joe Biden, Joe Biden himself accused Israel of indiscriminate bombing, Abby, his words, indiscriminate bombing. That is the literal definition of a war crime.

PHILLIP: Jonathan?

SCHANZER: Yes. Look, I mean, you want to talk about the evidence that's being collected right now? It's being collected by the U.N. Now, dig down a little further and you're going to realize that there's only one major agency that has been active inside Gaza, and that has been UNRWA. And we know that UNRWA has been a partner with Hamas in carrying out the war crimes that we're talking about that Hamas has committed.

And, by the way, no one is talking about the fact that Hamas has been diverting aid when it comes into Gaza. Why are we not talking about the siege that they're putting on their own people?

And one more thing here, I've got to just say is that if you look at what the charges are that the ICC has brought, they are not talking about shooting charges. They're not talking about kinetic strikes that they're calling war crimes on the part of the Israelis, because they know that Israel has actually conducted itself on the battlefield in ways that far exceed the United States or any other western power in recent years on the battlefield. That ratio of civilian to combatant deaths is drastically lower. They know they can't bring those charges, so they've tried this Hail Mary, and it's just simply not going to stick.


PHILLIP: Jonathan, you know, I hear what you're saying, but I want you to kind of address just the substance of the issue of, especially when it comes to food and water and basic human needs. The United States had to build a pier on the coast of Gaza to get aid in because it was so difficult to get the Israelis to allow basic aid in over land. Not just -- and aid trucks are coming in, that is true, but not as many as were coming in before the war.

And, you know, independent observers have said basic things are being blocked at the borders by Israel for all kinds of different reasons. All of that adds up to something that --I mean, I think some people would say at least should be under scrutiny. Do you think Israel should even be subject to scrutiny for how it is carrying out this war?

SCHANZER: Look, of course it should be under scrutiny, and every country that wages war will come under scrutiny in today's day and age. Now, look, I actually went to -- I went to Cyprus a few weeks ago, and I went and talked to the people that were going to build this pier and the people that were going to deliver aid to this pier and the people that were going to vet it.

And I can just tell you that the amount of time and effort that went into this. You've got Israeli customs agents sitting over there reviewing these packages because they were so uncomfortable with the way that it was coming in from Egypt or the things that were coming in directly to their ports, and they couldn't process them well enough. They took the criticism that the United States leveled, and they've taken action.

And so, now, we have this incredible system where the United States has built a pier. We've got the Cypriot authorities. We've got the Embaratis. We've got the Israelis reviewing what comes through and approving it and then sending it on. And we're going to see a massive uptick.

PHILLIP: So, it sounds like you're acknowledging that there's been a problem.

SCHANZER: So, by the way, the Israelis were already increasing that.

PHILLIP: So, it sounds like you're acknowledging that there's been a problem. It sounds like that's what you're acknowledging, that there was a problem.

SCHANZER: Of course there was a problem. PHILLIP: Yeah.

SCHANZER: This is a war zone. There are problems in every war zone. And there are always going to be challenges. Always.

PHILLIP: Mehdi --

HASAN: Can I --

PHILLIP: Go ahead, Mehdi.

HASAN: Can I just -- can I just come in and respond to something Jonathan said a moment ago? He said the only evidence we have of war crimes that's being collected is by U.N. and by UNRWA, and they're all compromised. That's just not true. I myself have interviewed on my show multiple American doctors who are on the ground in Gaza who have testified to what is going on, what they're seeing with their own lying eyes.

I have a friend who is a doctor who went out and served in the European hospital in Gaza. He saw children being brought into the hospital with gunshot wounds to the head, right? Those are crimes. Those have been witnessed by American citizens, British citizens, French citizens. They're all on the record.

To pretend this is just about Hamas or UNRWA is nonsense, right? The evidence is there for anyone who's been to Gaza.

SCHANZER: Sorry, but Mehdi is not -- Mehdi is not --

HASAN: And as for the war crimes --

SCHANZER: Mehdi is not an international lawyer and nor are the doctors. It is not up to you to decide what a war crime is.

HASAN: Okay.

SCHANZER: And by the way, I'm not even sure that it's up to the ICC at this point.

HASAN: I agree. I agree. It's up to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, who is a lawyer, a very respected one. And can I finish my point? Just to go back to what Abby said at the start. You know, if they don't want to be charged with war crimes, maybe they shouldn't have done war crimes.

Yoav Gallant is being charged with starvation. This is a man, the Defense Minister of Israel, who said on October the 9th, "I'm ordering a total siege of Gaza." No fuel, no electricity, no food. It's closed. Well, maybe he shouldn't have said and done that. Maybe he wouldn't have an arrest warrant out or an application for an arrest warrant against him today if he hadn't done that.

PHILLIP: All right. Mehdi and Jonathan, we have to leave it there.

SCHANZER: This man -- this man is seriously the -- PHILLIP: We have to leave it there. Thank you both very much for joining us.

HASAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next, as Donald Trump's vice presidential contenders swarm the airwaves, election denialism seems to be a prerequisite for even being considered for the job. We'll show you the tape, next.



PHILLIP: Tonight, Republicans are the party of ifs, ands, and buts, at least when it comes to election results.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Will you accept the election results of 2024, no matter what happens, Senator?

MARCO RUBIO (R) FLORIDA: No matter what happens? No, if it's an unfair election.


PHILLIP: Here's the "if". If it is a fair election. Widespread voter fraud, need I remind you, is not widespread. And it's the boogeyman right now in the Republican Party. There's nothing actually under that bed, no matter what nightmare Republicans say is real. The Republican senator from Florida, though, wants you to keep clutching your sheets. And if he can't get you to do that, just wait for the "and".


RUBIO: think you're asking the wrong person. The Democrats are the ones that have opposed every Republican victory since 2000. Every single one.

WELKER: No Democrat has refused to concede. Hillary Clinton conceded. Senator, will you accept the election results?

RUBIO: Hillary Clinton said the election was stolen from her and that Trump was illegitimate.

WELKER: But she conceded.

RUBIO: Kamala Harris agreed.

WELKER: Senator, she conceded the election.

RUBIO: We have Democrats now.


PHILLIP: Rubio says, and the Democrats -- they're doing it, too. But there is a real difference between what Clinton has said since 2016 and what Clinton did after the results were clear. Clinton, while, sure, you can accuse her of being a sore loser, she said the words that Donald Trump never has. "I lost."



HILLARY CLINTON (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Last night, I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful President for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for and I'm sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.


PHILLIP: Now, if you don't buy that, Rubio says, try this one. But what about the other things that undermine elections?


RUBIO: But listen, what undermines elections is when NBC News and every major news outlet in America in 2020 censored the Biden laptop story, which turned out to be true, not Russian misinformation, unprecedented. You couldn't even talk about it on social media. They would deplatform you. Did you guys cover the laptop for Joe Biden in 202?

WELKER: Did you see -- absolutely, we covered the laptop. And Hillary Clinton did concede.

RUBIO: It was banned. You couldn't even talk about it in social media.

WELKER: But bottom line, Chris Krebs, the top election official, said it was --

RUBIO: You can talk about it in social media and be platformed. You couldn't even talk about because they said it was Russian disinformation.

WELKER: Senator --

RUBIO: And voters in many cases didn't even hear about it because it was blacked out by the media.


PHILLIP: Okay, so to follow Rubio's logic and the Biden laptop story, that is as damaging, according to Rubio, to the American experiment as claiming that the election results can only be fair if you or your candidate win.


UNKNOWN: Start making a list, put all those names down, and we start hunting them down one by one.

UNKNOWN: Can I speak to Pelosi?


PHILLIP: Rubio is far from alone here. Tim Scott won't answer the same question.


WELKER: Senator, will you commit to accepting the election results of 2024, bottom line?

TIM SCOTT (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: At the end of the day, the 47th President of the United States will be President Donald Trump.

WELKER: Yes or no, will you accept the election results of 2024 no matter who wins?

SCOTT: That is my statement.

WELKER: But just yes or no, will you accept the election results of 2024?

SCOTT: I look forward to President Trump being the 47th President multiple times.

WELKER: But Senator, just a yes or no answer.

SCOTT: So, the American people will make the decision.


PHILLIP: J.D. Vance also made his answer conditional.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Will you commit to accepting the results of this year's election?

J.D. VANCE, U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR: Look, Dana, I totally plan to accept the results of 2024.

BASH: Even if Joe Biden wins?

VANCE: Sure, if it's a free and fair election, I will accept the results, Dana, whoever wins.

BASH: Okay.


PHILLIP: And Lindsey Graham, same question, same non-answer.


WELKER: Will you accept the results of the 2024 election no matter who wins?

LINDSEY GRAHAM, U.S. REPUBLICAN SENATOR: Yeah, I'll accept them, but I think, you know, there's no massive cheating.


PHILLIP: This is not a hard question. But here's the point. Donald Trump says the election was rigged, and so Republicans have to warn about rigged elections. And they're betting that you are already willing to buy into that same myth, the same way you buy into Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. But the cost here isn't imaginary. The cost is the thing that makes the United States the United States. That we don't make what happens to our democracy just conditional on who wins.

Up next, we are now learning why Sean Combs did not mention his ex- girlfriend's name in his apology after that disturbing video of Diddy assaulting Cassie emerged. Rapper Cam'ron, who coined the slang term, "No Diddy" in response to the recent lawsuits. He's going to join me, next.



ASHER: Now, if you'll permit me to have a moment of personal privilege, I just want to say a few words about my friend, and now former colleague, Alice Stewart. It's hard to even say that, losing a good one so soon. I mean, it's deeply unfair.

She wasn't just a colleague to me here at CNN. I really got to know Alice a couple of years ago because we were both members of the Institute of Politics' Senior Advisory Committee at Harvard, my alma mater. She was a former Harvard IOP fellow in 2019. And boy, did she love her students.

The part of Alice that most of you all did not see was the one who was always a text or a phone call or an email away for virtually any student who wanted her advice or her ear. She was a mentor who dutifully sought to nurture Harvard's young, conservative community, urging them to stay in the game, but engage with their more liberal peers with kindness and respect.

Now, in the true spirit of the IOP, she believed in this country and that its future required all of us to engage in healthy, principled disagreement. Alice had actually worked for some of the most polarizing figures in American politics, Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachman, Mike Huckabee, among others. But when I thought about it over the weekend, I think that that's actually what gave her such an important perspective.


She had seen the fire-breathing part of American politics up close, and she was determined to foster a political culture that rewarded thoughtfulness, kindness, and respect. Now, all of us here at CNN, she was determined to foster a political culture that rewarded thoughtfulness, kindness, and respect. Now, all of us here at CNN and at the Institute of Politics miss her so much. Rest well, Alex.



PHILLIP: Tonight, truly sorry, or at least that's what Sean Diddy Combs wants the world to believe that he is. Diddy apologizing in an Instagram video just days after CNN exclusively obtained hotel surveillance video, showing the media mogul kicking, tossing, and brutalizing his then-girlfriend, the singer Cassie Ventura.


DIDDY, RAPPER: My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video. I'm disgusted. I was disgusted then, when I did it, I'm disgusted now. I'm truly sorry.


Joining me now is Cam'ron Giles, better known as the Rapper Cam'ron. He's also the co-host of the podcast, "It Is What It Is". Thanks for being here. First, when you saw that video of Diddy, Cassie, in that hotel, did you recognize that Sean Combs?

CAM'RON GILES, RAPPER: What I want to say, first of all, when I seen the video, everything in the video is egregious, I'm against. I don't support all the charges that's alleged against him. I don't support any of that trafficking, minors, domestic violence. I'm totally against it. So, when I seen the video, yeah, I was kind of upset with it. Being that I know him, he's not necessarily a friend, but yeah, I was upset when I seen it.

PHILLIP: Did you recognize him? Did you recognize that kind of anger at all, from your experiences?

GILES: I don't know him like that. What do you mean, do I recognize him? I seen him. What do you mean, my experiences? I seen him and I thought it was disgusting. I didn't do a zoom in to see if it was really him or nothing, but he admitted it was him, so yeah, it was him.

PHILLIP: What did you think about the apology that he gave in that other video?

GILES: The apology ain't for me to decide. It's for Cassie. What I think about it don't matter. It ain't do nothing to me. Cassie need to ask Cassie if she accept the apology. I told you how I feel, I said what I said.

PHILLIP: I want to play a conversation that you had on your podcast back in September with Mase. Listen.

GILES: Yeah.


GILES: When you had your record deal, why did you take me to Biggie Smalls and not Bad Boy?

MASE, RAPPER: Man, it's almost going to bring me to tears to say this. I just -- being that I saw you as such a good friend, I wanted to put you with somebody I knew.

GILES: Thank you, man. I really appreciate that. A lot of people ask me that on Instagram. That's why I'm here crying and shit, man. I don't want to get emotional in here, man.

MASE: Instantly, I knew Biggie would do right by you.


PHILLIP: Can you tell us a little bit more about that? I mean, is there something known in the industry about how Diddy treated his artists?

GILES: Sorry, I'm going to get some cheeks after this horsepower drink. I'm just going over what Mase said -- Mase took me to Biggie. I don't really know Puffers like Mase know Puff. I appreciate what Mase said and of course, that's my brother, so if he felt that way, then he felt that way. I can't really tell you how Puff moves or anything like that. Mase may know better than me because he was signed to Puff.

I wasn't. But my show does come on at 8 A.M. Eastern on YouTube. It's called "It Is What It Is". Make sure you all check it out. I might get some more information out of Mase from there. But for me to tell you how Puff acted and all that, I don't know. I never was signed to him.

PHILLIP: Yeah, what about the industry in general? I mean, so many people have pointed out that Diddy couldn't get away with this stuff if there weren't a lot of people protecting him. Do you think that's the case?

GILES: Who the talent agent for this joint? You think I'd be sitting around watching what Diddy do and all this? I didn't know this was a Diddy joint y'all invited me to. Who booked me for this joint? I don't violin. I don't be sitting around watching Diddy and all that.

PHILLIP: All right, Cam'ron, thanks for joining us. Thank you for your time tonight.

GILES: Thank you for having me. You enjoy.

PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, lies, theft and eye rolls. The wild day 19 of the Trump trial. The transcript just in tonight, really exactly what was said inside the courtroom. Plus, Diddy's diddly squat apology. The word salad that did nothing except raise some very, very serious questions.

And Open A.I. just picked the wrong voice to mess with. Why Scarlett Johansson is putting the company on blast. Tonight, on "Laura Coates Live".