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Far-Right Gains Rock European Politics; Trump Holds Rally In Nevada, As Poll Shows Him Gaining Ground; Benny Gantz Quits Israel's War Cabinet In Blow To Netanyahu; Israel Rescues 4 Hostages In Raid That Gaza Officials Day Killed 270+; Defense Weighing If Hunter Biden Will Testify At Gun Trial; US Pushes For $50 Billion Ukraine Loan Using Frozen Russian Assets; Drag War Airs Tonight At 8PM ET/PT. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 09, 2024 - 19:00   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: You're in the "CNN Newsroom." I'm Jessica Dean in New York.

And breaking news right now. In a powerful display of voter dissatisfaction, voters in 27 European countries give a powerful surge of support to far-right parties in the European Union elections. Now, this has led French President Emmanuel Macron to dissolve Parliament and call a snap election in France after polls show his party being trounced by the far-right opposition party. Macron said he's called this election to give voters a say after these most recent EU elections.

CNN correspondent Melissa Bell is joining us now from Paris. And Melissa, walk us through these elections and what they mean and what the fallout is.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fallout, biggest of all in France, Jessica, as you just said, this is across the 27 countries, the European Union that people voted for 720 European parliamentarians.

Now, what happened Europe wide is that the far-right made some pretty big gains. The center right came out as the biggest bloc in the European Parliament, but the far-right made some pretty big gains with that radical right, now representing the second biggest block, and that could have important implications for the kind of policies that we see coming forward here in Europe in a number of different areas, climate policies things like immigration They will have more of a say, the far-right with very different policies than the traditional right than they've had in the past. Biggest fallout, though, here in France.

Now, Emmanuel Macron did not have to draw from the far-right in France coming first with more than 30 percent of those votes in European elections, the consequences that he did. He did not have to call a snap election as a result. He has, because of the significance for the scale of the far-right victory. He says now that people need to be given a chance to vote in legislative elections, which means that later this month and in early July, we'll have a series of legislative elections. The parliaments dissolved, a new bunch of lawmakers will come in. And if the far-right does very well in these forthcoming elections, there is the possibility that France could have a chance a prime minister drawn from the far-right. And historically that would be extremely significant. Politically, it could mean big changes, Jessica.

DEAN: And Melissa, just trying to kind of understand and give some context to our American viewers. If that were to happen, that scenario you were just describing, is that like the American equivalent of President Biden having to work with a far-right Republican controlled house in Senate? Essentially, it's very divided government and it's very hard to get anything done?

BELL: Partly, it's already happened. Jacques Chirac had to work with the -- the left in -- in, as in the prime ministership. And it can be difficult with two different parties having to essentially share power. One legislative, one executive. So, to that extent, you're correct. The comparison is the same.

The difference here, though, and I think it's a significant one, is that you're not talking about the traditional right or the traditional left. You're talking about Macron's centrist party having to function with the far-right, the radical right, that have very different policies on a number of different issues. And that's true Europe wide. You're talking about far-right parties. Some of them are pretty Eurosceptic, and that could have implications for the functioning of the EU. Others are for a sort of retreat behind borders and want less immigration. Some have a very different relationship to Russia. Some have more proximity, are against funding the war in Ukraine.

They're not a monolith, but these radical right-wing parties do have radical agendas that are at odds with the way the European Union has been run for the last few decades, for its vision, for its future. And certainly, as far as France is run, it would be very different, no doubt, to any other party that we've seen in that position.


Already the far-right says it is ready to come back to power through those legislative elections and the changes, the disruption could be pretty significant to the way France is run. Not only because Emmanuel Macron won't have a majority with which to work in the parliament, as you say, an opposing party, as in the example you gave the Republicans and Democrats, but with this difference that the far-right is far more radical than the traditional one here in France, Jessica.

DEAN: Yes. Some really great context there. Melissa Bell, thanks so much for that reporting. We appreciate it.

And back here at home, former President Donald Trump holding a rally in the swing state of Nevada. It's a state Trump lost in both 2016 and 2020, but a recent poll shows him gaining some ground there.

Now this is Trump's first large scale rally since he was convicted on those 34 counts in the New York hush money trial.

CNN reporter Alayna Treene is in Las Vegas with the -- with the latest on this. And Alayna, besides the scorching hot weather, what was Trump's main focus during this rally?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, I'm actually going to tell you, Jessica, what he didn't really touch on, which was his conviction in Manhattan on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

So, despite this being his first campaign rally since that verdict, Donald Trump did not specifically bring up that trial. What I find really interesting about that is that over the past several days, both Donald Trump and his allies have been railing against the verdict and using it to call for retribution against his political opponents. We've heard Donald Trump over the past several days claim that he would potentially prosecute his political opponents, including President Joe Biden if he were to win in November.

So, I found it very interesting, he didn't bring that up. However, he did talk about his legal troubles more broadly, and he specifically attacked President Joe Biden. He argued that even in third world countries, that they do not have a justice department or a government that weaponizes their power as much as here. And he also claimed that the only way Joe Biden could win again is if he cheats.

Take a listen to how he put it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I tell you what, no third world country has weaponization where they go after political candidates like we have either. This guy can't get elected anything without cheating. The only way he can get elected is to cheat.


TREENE: Now, Jessica, a few things, I just want to fact check there. One is that there is no evidence that Joe Biden has had any role in any of the indictments and charges that Donald Trump is facing. The other is that we know that the 2020 election, despite Trump continuing to claim that it was stolen, there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

But I will say, from my conversations with Trump's team, they really tell me that they want Donald Trump to leave his week's long criminal trial in the past. They are very eager for him to return to his general election campaign messaging, and that includes talking about immigration, crime, the economy, all things they think voters will actually head to the polls for this fall on.

And we did hear Donald Trump do that. One big piece of news, he said today is that if he were to win another term, he would eliminate taxes on tips. Now that was particularly important to voters here in Nevada just given the state's dependence on tourism and hospitality. Jess?

DEAN: All right. Alayna Treene in Las Vegas for us. Thanks so much for that reporting. And joining us now is Tom Nichols, staff writer for The Atlantic. Tom, thanks for coming on. We appreciate it.

Let's start first where Alayna was. We heard a lot of the usual Trump refrains at this rally that he held in Las Vegas. But as she noted, we did see him taking aim at the Justice Department and specifically name calling special prosecutor Jack Smith. Trump is of course still facing those two federal criminal trials.

I'm curious what your analysis is of this first rally post-conviction for him.

TOM NICHOLS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, he's his conviction in New York and the ongoing trials. I think they've really, they're continuing to unhinge him, because this kind of direct attack on Jack Smith with the name calling, it's even for him, it's a little bit on the edge. But it's part of. Donald Trump's ongoing strategy that any institution in American life that opposes him or holds him accountable for anything has to be delegitimized completely from the rally stage. If he loses a case in court, then the entire judicial system has to be destroyed. If he loses an election, then all elections are rigged and everything in America is -- is a rigged game against him.

So, I -- and I think you're just going to see him get worse because Trump, no matter what his team may have told your reporter, Trump doesn't care about issues. There is no issue in this election for him other than revenge and getting elected so that he can stay out of prison. And that's what he's going to keep going with because it clearly obsesses him, as it should considering how many more criminal indictments he faces.


DEAN: Right. And so now we wait to see what his sentencing will be in that -- in that criminal trial, and then the other trials, of course, outstanding. And yet, the polling we're getting still shows an incredibly tight race across the board. And right now, we're putting up this -- this swing state polling, which shows Trump -- there's a margin of error of three points, he's Five points, five points, four points. And then in Virginia of all states tied, of course, that's the state that Biden won by 10 points in 2020.

What do you make of this race kind of staying as it is? It -- it seems to me that we all kind of knew. This was always going to be a pretty tight race, right?

NICHOLS: It was always going to be tight because of the electoral college. It's -- I still don't think Donald Trump who has never won a national majority is going to win a majority this time and his team is smart enough to know that they should engage in micro targeting a very small numbers of people in four or five states to try and thread that needle of the electoral college, which is what he did in 2016 and which he couldn't do in 2020 and that he's going to try to do again.

I think a couple of things have to be born in mind. First of all, it's still it's not even summer yet, but also that the polls show that people who follow politics and are likely to vote and are engaged actually give Biden a lead. People who don't pay much attention to the news, who are not particularly reliable voters put Trump ahead. And if I were running a presidential campaign, I think I'd rather have the likely engaged voters on my side going into the election.

But you know, this is, I've said for a long time, this is an election that's really not about policies anymore. We've -- we've kind of been a post policy country now for several years, where people vote on vibes and feelings and celebrities and images. And, it doesn't, I have to say, it doesn't surprise me that not much has changed at least this far into the campaign.

DEAN: Yes, voting on vibes and feelings. I -- I on that note do want to ask you about our breaking news that we talked about at the top of the hour. What's playing out in Europe right now with these elections in the European Union elections.

We saw these big gains for far-right parties among 27 countries in Europe. We know the French president is now within his own country, dissolving parliament calling for this very quick snap election. What would you say -- what is to be drawn from what's going on and what we're seeing happening there, and what we're seeing happening in the U.S.? And what that might mean just for, what's the -- what's the vibe and feeling in Western democracies right now?

NICHOLS: Well, there's two separate issues. One is that the vibe among democracies I think is that democracy is on its back foot, because the people who support authoritarian movements have gotten their act together. Their propaganda is effective. They are working very hard to undermine democracy around the world with the aid of authoritarian regimes in places like Russia and China.

But Americans need to understand that these were elections for the European Union Parliament, not individual parliaments in Europe. And the European Union has never been as popular, as a lot of folks might think it is and sometimes this is a kind of a safety valve where people vote for European Union elections to send a really hard message in ways that they would probably not vote at home And I suspect that's why Macron has called for this snap election to say, OK, that's what you voted for the European Union. Is this really how you want to be governed at home? You know, let's answer that question. Let's remember that Great Britain, which has pulled out of the European Union, you would think, you know, the kind of the hardest right environment there is, their conservative party is on the verge of losing a major election in the -- in the coming weeks.

So, I -- I wouldn't draw too much either about the right left split or anything happening in the United States and in Europe from European Union elections because those are always kind of a different animal over there.

DEAN: Yes, yes very good and interesting analysis there. All right, Tom Nichols, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

NICHOLS: Thank you. DEAN: Israel is also seeing a shakeup among the ranks of its government as a key official says he is quitting the war cabinet. What this means for the country's war in Gaza and its efforts to secure a ceasefire?



DEAN: We are following breaking news out of the Middle East where tonight Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a major blow to his emergency coalition government. Israeli opposition leader and war cabinet member Benny Gantz announcing he's officially resigning. Now, back in May, Gantz gave Netanyahu an ultimatum, calling for a plan to end the war in Gaza and bring all the hostages home or, he said, he would leave the government. And that's what he did.

And tonight, we're learning new details about that surprise raid by the Israeli military inside Gaza yesterday that led to the rescue of four hostages. Eyewitnesses telling CNN analyst Barak Ravid Israeli Special Forces disguised themselves as displaced Palestinians and Hamas fighters to get to those hostages who were being held amongst civilians in civilian living spaces.

CNN's Paula Hancocks taking us inside that special operation.



PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A complex mission that achieved its objectives, according to Israel, extensive air power, hundreds of personnel, weeks of intelligence gathering and training to rescue four Israeli hostages held by Hamas in two residential buildings in central Gaza. This, the moment IDF headquarters learned the hostages have been rescued.

For those on the ground, it was the deadliest day in six months, according to Gaza officials, capturing the moment of impact of Israeli airstrikes. Sustained gunfire followed, the IDF says there were fierce gun battles with Hamas's fighters throughout the operation, but did not provide evidence of this claim.

Then a constant stream of dead and injured arrive at two nearby hospitals. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital overwhelmed by the sheer number of trauma cases. The breakdown of fighters versus civilians is unknown. But women and children are seen in every corner of this hospital. Gaza officials and hospital directors, say more than 270 were killed, hundreds more injured, sparking cries of a massacre from some countries, including the EU's top diplomat.

Israel claims less than 100 died blaming Hamas for the shockingly high death toll. CNN cannot independently verify either side's, figures.

PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Hamas intentionally puts. The hostages in houses of civilians with the house owners in the same houses at the same time.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): As families of those rescued celebrate, calls for a ceasefire and hostage deal become louder. Even families of those rescued Saturday are not calling for more of these missions.

ORIT MEIR, MOTHER OF ALMOG MEIR: There are still 120 hostages in Gaza. And we want a deal now.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): Seven living hostages rescued in three missions in the past eight months compared to more than 100 released during a one-week ceasefire last November. The United States and others say a hostage deal is the only solution.

JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The best way to get all of the hostages' home and to protect Palestinian civilians is to end this war. And the best way to end this war, is for Hamas to say yes to the deal President Biden announced and that Israel has accepted.

HANCOCKS (voice-over): As residents deal with the devastation left behind in (INAUDIBLE), survivors struggle to understand what happened.


HANCOCKS (voice-over): I am 60 years old, this man says, and have never experienced anything like this. A barrage of heavy gunfire, artillery, missiles, rockets. It was something unimaginable to the human mind.


DEAN: And Paula, let's also talk about the shakeup inside the Israeli government. How is the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, responding to Benny Gantz's resignation?

HANCOCKS: Well, Jessica, Netanyahu has already called for Gantz to come back into the coalition. His loss really does make Netanyahu more isolated, domestically and internationally. Gantz was seen as a counterweight to the more far-right elements of Netanyahu's government, hi emergency government. And of course, the concern now is, will those far-right elements have more say in the way the war is conducted? And of course, whether or not this hostage ceasefire deal is going to go through.

Gantz was a real supporter of that Biden proposal based on the Israeli proposal. So, there are concerns about what this means for the hostages still in Gaza.

DEAN: All right. Paula Hancocks, live in Tel Aviv for us tonight. Thank you so much for that.

Representative Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts is joining us now to talk more about this and some other topics.

Congressman, thanks for coming on. We appreciate you being here tonight. I know you have been pushing for a ceasefire hostage deal. We just heard Paula lay out what Benny Gantz, resigning from the government likely does, and that there are concerns that it pushes Netanyahu further to the right that Gantz was the one that was pushing this latest deal from Biden, that is the Israeli deal he says that he wants Hamas to sign on to.

Are you concerned that the shakeup it makes it less possible or likely that they could get to a deal here?

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Good evening, Jessica. Thanks for having me on. I don't know that I can calibrate that because that would involve getting inside the head of Hamas. What I will say is that Gantz's resignation makes Prime Minister Netanyahu more dependent on the goodwill and graces of President Joe Biden. And that's ironic because Gantz is resigning out of frustration for Netanyahu really not aligning himself with President Biden's directives over the last several months to pair his military operation with same day governance operations. Because ultimately, Hamas can only be defeated by draining their political capital through effective governance through a Palestinian Authority led operation in the rest of Gaza.


DEAN: Right. Because so much of this about -- so much about this for Benny Gantz and for -- for the Biden administration as well as to your point, what comes when this is over? What happens the day after this war ends? And it's something that Netanyahu has not wanted to answer or commit to.

AUCHINCLOSS: It's not even day after. It's actually same day. And this is one of the lessons from U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia as well is that when you are fighting a terrorist or insurgent operation, you've got to be able to offer an alternative day of to the population. That is ultimately how you take the oxygen out of the room for Hamas senior commanders.

Ultimately, though, the pressures that Netanyahu faces from his right, from his center, should pale in comparison to the pressure that Hamas needs to face from Arab and Western states to accept this phase one deal and bring these hostages home. Hamas ultimately has in its hands the power to end this suffering.

DEAN: And -- and so I want to talk about the hostages who were rescued yesterday, four hostages rescued by Israeli Forces. The Hamas led government has said more than 274 people died. Now, we can't -- CNN cannot independently confirm those numbers. And we don't -- they -- we also want to note they don't -- they don't differentiate between how many militants and how many civilians are included in those numbers. And Israel has disputed that number saying it's lower. But I'm curious what your thoughts are on the number of people who died in this operation.

AUCHINCLOSS: The number can't be trusted, as you said. But even if it's one, it's a tragedy, and it underscores the barbarity of Hamas embedding its hostages within civilian infrastructure precisely so that these scenarios unfold. And it also underscores why it's so critical that if we really want a permanent ceasefire that Hamas has to be defeated. Because Hamas has guaranteed the world that according to its own charter, it will continue to try to murder Jews and take them hostages for as long as it is in power.

So, ultimately, a permanent ceasefire requires the defeat of Hamas, which is why it's so important that we actually have a plan for governance in Gaza that drains their support.

DEAN: And -- and before I let you go, I do want to ask you about our breaking news that we had at the top of our show, which are these big gains for far-right parties in 27 European countries and the French president now dissolving parliament and calling for a snap election there.

What is your read on this? And -- and -- and more broadly, just this move that we're seeing, we're talking about a move to the far-right potentially in Israel, a move to the far-right potentially in Europe. What is your read on that?

AUCHINCLOSS: Populism is on the march in the West, Europe and the United States, driven largely by immigration and cultural anxiety. And liberals like me need to respond. We need to respond with a message focused on law and order, on market oriented economic growth that can lower costs, and also a message that progress can coexist with respect for faith, for tradition, for patriotism. That is the challenge before us, not just for Macron, but for Joe Biden as well.

DEAN: All right, Congressman Jake Auchincloss, great to see you. Thanks so much for coming on.

AUCHINCLOSS: Thanks for having me.

DEAN: Still ahead, will Hunter Biden take the stand in his own defense? His legal team is spending the weekend weighing the risky move after several days. A very emotional testimony, including from his own daughter. What could happen when court resumes tomorrow?

You're in the "CNN Newsroom."



DEAN: Hunter Biden's federal gun trial resumes tomorrow, but it is not yet clear if the president's son will be taking the stand in his own defense. Hunter Biden is accused of illegally purchasing and possessing a gun while abusing or being addicted to drugs.

His daughter, Naomi Biden, testified on behalf of her father Friday, saying he still seemed good around the time he purchased the gun, but things took a turn under cross-examination.

Criminal defense attorney, David Oscar Markus is joining us now.

David, nice to see you. Thanks for being here. Given what we've all heard so far, do you expect a Hunter Biden to take the stand in his own defense?

DAVID OSCAR MARKUS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Hey, Jessica, so thanks for having me.

I mean, this is the most agonizing decision a defense lawyer can make, you know, especially because you always regret the decision that you make if you lose the trial, but you can't play the results. You have to decide, are we -- do we need the defendant to testify? Do we need him and can he survive cross-examination? Those are really the two most important questions.

And Abbe Lowell is one of the best. Remember, he represented John Edwards back in the day with the special counsel and did not call John Edwards and they won the trial.

So it is going to be -- it is an agonizing weekend I am sure for Abbe and his client and ultimately, the decision, this is one of the few things that the client decides, not the lawyer at the end of the day.

So Hunter Biden will make the decision. I'd say there is a 20 to 25 percent chance he gets up on the stand.

DEAN: And we saw his daughter, Naomi Biden taking the stand on behalf of the defense and then the prosecution cross-examined there. What did you make of that testimony?

MARKUS: So hard, right? Like you have to take risks as a defense lawyer to win a criminal defense trial. The odds are stacked against you.

And so, Abbe Lowell took a risk and called his daughter and it was riveting and from what everybody says who was in the courtroom, the jurors were paying very close attention.


It is a very sad and tough situation for the daughter to get up there, and there were some points made by the prosecution on cross as they are typical. It is hard to say what came out of it, if it was a plus or minus overall for the defense, but it was a risk that Abbe Lowell decided he needed to take in the case.

DEAN: And one thing that is unique about this is that Hunter Biden's own voice is being used, even if he doesn't take the stand because he has this audio book. We can play people a short clip to give them an example.


HUNTER BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S SON: I possessed a new superpower, the ability to find crack in any town at any time, no matter how unfamiliar terrain. It was easy.

(END AUDIO CLIP) DEAN: What do you -- how do you think this is playing with a jury? Oftentimes, we don't hear from the defendant at all, but for them to at least hear his voice?

MARKUS: Right. In a way, he has testified already, right? You've heard from him and you've heard different parts of the book.

In any false statement case, you have to prove A., the statement was false and B., the defendant believed the statement was false with the intent to deceive.

So in this case, the prosecution looks like they've proven the statement was false, right? That he is in fact an addict, but have they proven that he thought he was an addict with the intent to deceive? That is where the defense is.

So those book excerpts go to the first part, that he was in fact an addict. Everybody knows that at this point and the defense is really focused on that second part, the intent.

And you know, if I was the defense there, I would make a big point about this, right? Like, why was he lying on the form? It wasn't to get it going to go rob a bank or to go steal drugs or anything like this. He put it in a box and didn't do anything with it.

So what was his real intent or did he have an intent to deceive when he filled out that form?

DEAN: Right, and talking about someone's intent, I would think it is hard because you're really trying to get into somebody's head.

MARKUS: That's right, and that's why they are trying to play the book and get into those text messages and do those other things because the prosecution is going to say, look, we can get into his head that way.

But again, when you filled out that form, that is the real question. What was going through his mind when he filled out that form, if anything, it may be just that the gun shop said, here, sign this and you get your gun, which is what I imagine probably happened.

DEAN: And I want to ask you, too, about a separate case, this one with former President Trump.

He is scheduled to attend his virtual pre-sentencing probation hearing tomorrow morning. Tell us more about what that is and what, if anything, we can learn from it.

MARKUS: Yes, it is a very standard thing when there is either after trial conviction or a plea, the defendant has to go meet with the probation office so that the probation office can prepare a report for the judge about the person's life, their employment, their jobs, their family. In this case, I am not really sure it is necessary and I've seen a lot of folks on the right jumping its up and down. Why does President Trump have to go sit for this probation interview?

I wish those same Republicans were up in arms about the Biden prosecution. We do need criminal justice reform, but it should apply equally to both cases.

DEAN: All right, David Oscar Markus, thanks so much. Good to see you.

MARKUS: Thank you. Good to see you, too.

DEAN: The White House wants to give Ukraine a $50 billion loan, but the clock is ticking as several countries try to iron out the details. We will have more head on that in the CNN NEWSROOM.



DEAN: US officials are racing against the clock tonight to finalize a deal for a $50 billion loan package for Ukraine using profits from frozen Russian assets. Sources say, it is a top priority before President Joe Biden's meeting with G7 leaders in Italy next week.

Meanwhile, Ukraine says it has dealt a major blow to Russia when its drones damage one of Russia's most powerful warplanes seen here, parked at a Russian military base before the attack.

The SU-57 is a supersonic stealth fighter that can evade radar and Russia only has a limited number of the multi-million-dollar jets.

Joining us now, CNN contributor and former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief Jill Dougherty.

Jill, thanks so much for being here.

Let's start first with this claim -- this claim from Ukraine that they hit this jet inside Russia. If true, how significant is it?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIAN AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it is quite significant.

Number one, this really is cutting edge as you pointed out. It is new. It is the best that the Russians have, and if it is at least damage, that is significant and then the fact that they damaged it in Russia -- this is located, this spot, the base where they appear currently hit it, the Ukrainians hit it, is inside Russia by about 600 kilometers, which would be roughly like three 350 miles. And that is significant, too.

And I think this is really a trend that the Russians are worried about. The Ukrainians are attacking more and more inside Russia and taking the battle to them and that is very concerning.

DEAN: And does this have anything to do potentially with the go-ahead that President Biden gave them to use US munitions in -- I don't know, like in short range to go into Russia. Is that connected at all?

DOUGHERTY: You know, it is part of the -- I would say debate about how far you can go because there are some of the European allies who think that you should be able to go in, Ukraine should be able to hit Russia. [19:45:06]

The United States has been much more careful. And so President Biden has been saying you can use weapons, but pretty much only because of this area, the city of Kharkiv that has been attacked by the Russians a lot kind of on the border, and you have to be more moderate in how far you go in.

It really is a big debate, but you can definitely say that the trend is to allow the Ukrainians to go farther and farther into Russia and for Putin, that is a real problem because he has tried to depict it as a war that doesn't really affect the homeland. It is really in Ukraine, and that's not the case.

DEAN: And Ukraine has stabilized its northern front thanks to more western weapons and as we were just talking about, this permission to use them to target positions within Russia. But they are still being stretched pretty thin along the frontline.

So I am curious do you think this new potential funding, this potential $50 billion in loans could help them there?

DOUGHERTY: I think it can help them. There is no question, especially, you know, you have President Biden talking about another $255 million for ammunition and that is really what they need, and that would include other things besides ammunition. It would be air defense munitions, et cetera. That is very, very important.

As to winning the war or turning the tide, it doesn't appear that we are at that stage at all. It is really incremental, but, I think we are at a moment where Russia is really fully the comprehending that the Ukrainians are intent to take it to them, and that is another step in this war, and I think that is where you have some -- a lot of nuclear threatening by Putin, et cetera.

So I think we are kind of in a different stage.

DEAN: Yes, it does seem, it does feel weighty and significant in that way.

I do want to get your take too on that $50 billion in aid that I just mentioned, that US officials are looking to make a deal with these other G7 leaders to send that to Ukraine, but they want to use profits from these frozen Russian assets.

What do you think about that?

DOUGHERTY: Well, this is another big debate because the United States, in fact, President Biden is pushing very strongly right now before the meeting of the G7 that is coming up, I think June 13th, he is pushing to be able to, it is a little complicated, but to be able to use the interest from those assets that are held in financial institutions in the West, primarily in Europe, use them to help the Ukrainians out.

Now, how are you do that is a little more complex. It appears what they are going to say is give them a loan or give them many loans then they are paid back to the United States and to Europe with money that Russia has.

It is controversial, but that is what Biden and others really want to do and that is what he is pushing for right now.

DEAN: All right, we will see if he can get it done.

All right, Jill Dougherty, thanks so much. Good to see you.


DEAN: More when we come back.



DEAN: It is an art from that goes back centuries, but drag is coming under fire in the US as Republican lawmakers across the country use legislation to restrict drag performances.

And this week on "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper, CNN's Randi Kaye looks at the colorful culture and history of drag, and the growing political threat it now faces.


Drag has exploded into mainstream popularity in recent years with the hit TV show, "RuPaul's Drag Race," helping launch it into the spotlight, but drag has also really become a political target.

Six states, including my home state of Florida have passed laws aimed at restricting drag performances where children are present. And I actually spoke to some Florida Drag queens like Tiffany Fantasia about why they perform in drag and how they are coping with the political repercussions.


KAYE: So, this is how it begins.

TIFFANY FANTASIA, DRAG QUEEN: Yes, indeed. It always starts with the foundation.

KAYE: Yes, concealer and foundation, right? You don't need concealer. You've just got some foundation.

FANTASIA: Not yet, but give me a few years, I probably will. But thank goodness, Black down quite like that.

KAYE: So, how long does it take you to get all made up and full drag?

FANTASIA: It varies, but on average, you're talking 30 to 40 minutes, but the transition from your average homosexual to a ravishing drag queen interesting.

It is good to see the process step by steps, so you can enjoy every bit of it.

It is my moment to just take myself into a whole another world and just be happy despite whatever is going around.



KAYE: Another drag queen I interviewed Momma Ashley Rose does family friendly brunches in what is known as "Drag Story Hour" where she reads to children while dressed in drag.

At one of those events neo-Nazis showed up to protests with signs saying "Drag queens are pedophiles with AIDS." She was terrified that day and still fears for her safety.

And the war over drag in Florida and elsewhere is far from settled. -- Jessica.

DEAN: All right, Randi Kaye, thanks so much.

And be sure to tune in. It is an all new episode of "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper. It is coming up next right here on CNN.

Thanks so much for joining us this evening. I'm Jessica Dean. We will see you again next weekend. Have a great night.