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White House Condemns Iran's Attack on Israel; Trump Arrives at Courthouse ahead of Historic Trial; Thousands of Palestinians Tried to Return to their Homes in Northern Gaza on Sunday; Jury Selection in Trump's Historic Criminal Trial; Fears Israeli Retaliation could Fuel Spiral of Violence. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 15, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, it's 5 pm here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson. You're watching a special edition of "Connect

the World".

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: And it is 9 am here in New York. I'm Erica Hill. We are following two major stories for you on this Monday. A history making

trial set to begin this hour in New York Donald Trump will become the first Former U.S. President ever to face a criminal trial.

ANDERSON: And Israel's war cabinet is considering just how to respond to an unprecedented attack from Iran, while governments in the region worry about

a growing conflict.

HILL: And Becky will have extensive coverage of Iran's attack on Israel in just a moment, but first a preview for you of this history making trial

which starts in the next hour here in New York City. I'm just outside of the courthouse where Donald Trump is now making his way to the venue.

He will become the first Former U.S. President to stand trial on criminal charges. He is as I mentioned en route to the courthouse, his motorcade

leaving just about 20 minutes ago. He's charged with falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments for adult film star Stormy Daniels

ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

First up today is jury selection which could take anywhere from one to two weeks. The entire trial itself could last as long as eight weeks.

Throughout the day here on CNN our reporters, analysts and guests will follow the developments inside court where their presumptive Republican

presidential nominee will be sitting -- the week, Becky.

ANDERSON: When and how will Israel respond to Iran's unprecedented weekend attack? The war cabinet -- meeting for a second day to try to agree on a

plan this is world leaders scramble to try to keep the conflict from turning into all-out war and emergencies Security Council session U.N.

Security General Antonio Guterres urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint.

Israel is weighing its next step after Iran attacked with hundreds of drones and missiles late on Saturday. The Israeli military says almost all

of them were intercepted. Iran says the attack was a quote legitimate response after a deadly strike on its consulate in Syria, Tehran blames

that on Israel.

And also -- now telling CNN that Israel is delaying the first steps of its ground operation in the Southern Gaza City of Rafah meanwhile, while it

considers how to respond to Iran -- Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is live from Tel Aviv.

And there are those around the region including the Jordanian Foreign Minister, who I spoke to earlier, who believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is to

a degree and using this Iranian strike to distract from what is they say, ultimately, the most important issue here and that is finding a resolution

in Gaza.

Look, Clarissa, the U.S. President has conceded that this is a sovereign decision making process that the Israelis have now, deciding how they will

respond. But they are being urged not least by Joe Biden, to exercise restraint. What are we hearing from our sources on the ground about what is

likely to happen next?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it appears, Becky, that there's a concerted debate going on within the war cabinet and

within the government more broadly about how Israel should respond to Iran's unprecedented attack. The war cabinet has been meeting for just over

two hours now, today. They met for several hours yesterday.

We heard from centrist War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz yesterday who talked about the importance of building a regional coalition and taking

some time potentially or taking the time of their own, choosing to respond. But then there are also indications of course that Israel doesn't want to

lose the momentum that they have at the moment.

And they don't want to lose the sort of relatively newfound goodwill that they are enjoying from their allies at the moment. The question becomes, to

what extent do they also heed the caution that is being urged by the U.S., the U.K. most of Israel's allies in the West but also regional allies who

are really saying please do not escalate this, do not run the risk of this turning out into an all-out regional conflagration.


So potentially they could be looking at some kind of reciprocal strike that would hit military facilities. Potentially they could be looking at some

kind of an asymmetrical retaliation. They could be looking at a cyber- attack of some sort. We don't know exactly. And it is important that although the U.S. President Joe Biden, who has a very close relationship

with Israel has urged caution.

You're also hearing voices from within the right wing hardline elements of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition like the National Security Minister Itamar

Ben-Gvir, who yesterday called Benny Gantz's comments about forming a regional coalition is hollow western catchphrases and said there needs to

be a decisive strike.

You need to reestablish the deterrence. So a lot of different factors and considerations and voices, that Israel is sort of balancing out and trying

to sift through, as it decides on a course of action. And meanwhile, Becky, as you can imagine that as you know, yourself, where you are, the entire

region, really on tenterhooks bracing to see where exactly this goes next.

ANDERSON: One of the real concerns that this region has, is this conflict spreads to Israel's northern front? It is already a complicated, and an

area that is already in play, as it were. Will that be, as you understand it, part of the consideration about what this response from Israel looks

like that Hezbollah, the Iran backed proxy group in Southern Lebanon, could be a significant target for Tel Aviv if they choose to take that route.

WARD: The Israelis have been making a point for a long time now that the situation as they view it, along that northern border, Becky is

unsustainable. 100,000 Israelis unable to return to their homes, there have been back and forth day in and day out rocket fire coming in from Hezbollah


So that is absolutely a primary consideration. At the same time, Hezbollah has a lot of weaponry, including some weapons that it has not yet used in

this conflict. And so I think there'll be balancing out the considerations of trying to hit an Iranian proxy like Hezbollah hard with, again, the

voices and caution being urged of so many on the international stage. That one does not want to see this conflict escalate to a place where it really

is no longer in the control of anyone in terms of where it goes.

So I think they're also balancing out that this is a moment where Israel is enjoying that newfound relative goodwill, where the world's attention has

been deflected away from Gaza, where the world's attention is really focused on Israel versus Iran, the international community versus Iran, how

to respond to that. And so it's possible that they will want to try to capitalize on this moment and use it for their own maximum benefit, Becky.

ANDERSON: There is, of course, little love lost between number of Gulf States and the militant group Hezbollah, Iran backed group in Southern

Lebanon. But as you are rightly pointing out the escalation in this conflict is what is of profound concern around this region. Clarissa,

always a pleasure you are in Tel Aviv for us today. Thank you.

Well, as I said earlier this morning, I spoke with one of the key players in this region Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in a wide ranging

interview we spoke about his nation's fears for what could happen next. He put the onus squarely on Israel not to escalate hostilities any further.

AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I think what happened was a sign of how terrible things could be how dangerous the situation could

deteriorate into unless we deal with the cause of all this tension, which is the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the continued absence of political

horizons to solve the conflict as a result of Israeli policies.

Again, Iran retaliated against the attack. See that it's over. Now, we have to look to the future and to look for now, actually, and to make sure that

there's no other triggers for escalation and I think the onus is on Israel for that.

ANDERSON: Foreign Minister, Jordan, let's be quite frank here is trying to balance what is a very delicate position, maintaining relations, of course

with the United States, but also with Israel you have a peace treaty with Israel.


With what is your highly critical position of the way that Israel has carried out its war against Hamas in Gaza, and many in Jordan want to see

the kingdom do more? And that includes calls for cutting ties with Israel, will that happen?

SAFADI: Becky it will not happen simply because we don't believe that will be helpful to Jordan or to the Palestinians or to the cause of peace, which

is a necessity for all of us in the region. That said, however, getting what Israel is doing, giving its killing of political horizons, getting the

aggression on Gaza.

That peace treaty is a document are collecting dust, because we will not be able to act on many of the opportunities that this treaty should offer to

us to the Palestinians to the whole region. Public opinion as you said is extremely against any kind of normalization with Israel.

Now and again, this is Netanyahu's are doing not since October 7, but long before October 7, when he publicly said he doesn't believe in a two state

solution on a public is said he will suffocate the aspirations of Palestinians for freedom when he continued with settlement building

confiscation of land security attacks on Palestinian communities, allowing settler terrorism against Palestinians. This is the reality.

ANDERSON: And more of that interview later in the show. Well, the White House says Joe Biden strongly condemned Israel's attack on Israel during a

call with Jordan's King Abdullah on Sunday. G7 members have also condemned the assault expressing full solidarity and support to Israel after virtual

crisis talks yesterday.

The U.S. President says the G7 will work together to stabilize the situation in the Middle East. This is what he wants to see a united

diplomatic front when it comes after President Biden told Israel's Prime Minister, that the U.S. would not participate in any potential offensive

action against Iran.

Arlette Saenz is following reaction from the White House. And I have to say, and those I speak to around the region about that comment, say what is

offensive versus defensive. At this point when the Iranian attack was a retaliatory attack, they say in response to an Israeli attack on their

consulate in Syria, be that as it may. What are you hearing now from the White House of importance?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, the White House this morning is stressing that President Biden's top priority at this point

is really trying to prevent this from escalating into a wider regional conflicts. That is why President Biden took time over the weekend to speak

with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone in the hours after this attack unfolded.

And in that conversation, officials say that the president told Netanyahu that he should view the fact that they intercepted hundreds of drones and

missiles with the assistance of the U.S. and other allies as a success. But the president in that phone call also said that going forward the U.S.

would not participate in any counter strikes or offensive operation against Iran.

That is critical at a time when the president is trying to prevent this from spreading into a wider conflict. Now, a U.S. official senior

administration official said that Israel had made clear to the U.S. that they did not want to have a significant escalation between Israel and Iran.

But the question is whether Netanyahu will heed any of President Biden's advice.

One senior administration official said that in their phone call, the president told Netanyahu to think through what those next steps will be.

Officials here at the White House have been stressing that any decision will be up to the Israeli war cabinet, as you've talked about, they're

still meeting assessing what the next steps will be.

But as the White House spokesperson, John Kirby said this morning, they're reviewing this initial operation to prevent any significant damage by the

Iranians that this attack is a success. Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESMAN OF U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: President believes that what happened Saturday night was an extraordinary military success,

and that it proved Israel is not alone. And it proved that Israel has a military superiority can be proud of and that they ought to think about

what that success is the message that that sends to Iran into the region itself.

He's also been very clear, Kate, that we don't want a war with Iran. We don't seek to widen and broaden this conflict. We don't want to see things



SAENZ: Now, President Biden yesterday also spoke with King Abdullah of Jordan as well as attended a virtual meeting with fellow G7 leaders, in

that meeting in the statement that was released afterwards, the G7 leaders condemned this attack and also warned that Iran's actions are further

potentially destabilizing the region and risks provoking a quote uncontrollable regional escalation.


They said this must be avoided. So President Biden's main mission right now is trying to work those diplomatic channels to try to prevent this from

escalating into a wider conflict. The President and his officials here at the White House continue to stress that the U.S. will be there to defend

Israel if there are any future attacks.

But in that phone call, the President communicated that the U.S. would not be participating in any counter strikes. Now I'll also note, in just a few

hours, we will see President Biden for the first time since Iran's attack on Israel over the weekend. He will be meeting here at the White House with

Iraqi Prime Minister Al Sudani.

Of course, the meeting comes as there are heightened tensions in the region. But there are also significant concerns about U.S. troops in the

region. There are about 2500 U.S. troops currently stationed in Iraq. So that certainly will be something that President Biden and the Iraqi Prime

Minister will discuss in this meeting, as they are both hoping to de- escalate some of the tensions occurring in the Middle East at this time.

ANDERSON: Good to have you thank you. Arlette Saenz out of the White House I was going to say outside the White House in Washington. Well ahead on

"Connect the World", we'll go back to New York where the historic criminal trial of Former U.S. President Donald Trump is about to start.

Trump is now at the courthouse. These are live pictures of the action there as we speak. Erica Hill will bring you the very latest, after this.


HILL: Donald Trump has just arrived at the courthouse arriving just a few minutes ago. He's of course set to become the first former U.S. president

to stand trial on criminal charges. Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records. Those felony counts are tied to a hush money payment that

went to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Leading up to the trial, Trump has repeatedly bashed the prosecutor and the judge. In fact, just this morning, he posted again another barrage of

complaints on his truth social media calling the trial -- CNN's Katelyn Polantz is joining me now with more on what we can expect once this trial

begins? Step one here is going to be jury selection, Katelyn.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Jury selection indeed, Erica, there's been 500 New Yorkers had been summoned to the

courthouse in Manhattan, to be prospective jurors for Donald Trump, or maybe other cases, depending on what happens throughout the day.

In this case, there's going to be 100 of those people summoned, brought into the courtroom at a time and the judge and the lawyers involved, the

prosecutors Donald Trump's defense lawyers, they're going to work through that pool one by one. So what they need ultimately are 12 people to sit on

this juror plus 6 alternates.

The jurors that are brought into the courtroom, they're going to be questioned. They're going to be given a list of questions, and then there's

going to be some freestyle questioning individually of jurors.


They start with 42 questions flushing out whether these people have intrinsic biases or reasons that they just aren't going to be able to serve

on the jury vacations coming up other issues that might arise. One of the things that if a juror says they cannot be fair and impartial toward Former

President Donald Trump at this trial, they're off, they're not going to be seated on this jury.

But if they say that they've been engaged in politics in the past, even potentially, in right wing or left wing fringe groups, attended rallies,

things like that, that is something that will allow prosecutors and the defense team to ask further questions, and then make a determination

whether they want that person to sit on the jury.

So it's going to be a process. And in addition to jury selection, Erica, there's also going to be a lot of discussion between the prosecutors and

the defense with the judge individually. We're already hearing a little bit from our Paula Reid in New York, that there is going to be some discussion

with the judge about what happens if Donald Trump were to take the stand to testify.

HILL: That would be quite the conversation with a fly on the wall for that one as we wait and watch for all of it. Katelyn, appreciate it. Let's dig

into a little bit more of what you can expect.

Joining me now, Criminal Defense Attorney, Amy Lee Copeland and CNN Law Enforcement Analyst and Former Secret Service Agent, Jonathan Wackrow, good

to have both of you with us, so in when we pick up, really picking up where Katelyn leaves off, there are a lot of questions about whether Donald Trump

could take the stand.

We are of course, at least a week or two away from this really kicking into high gear because of course that jury needs to be seated. But as

things stand today, can you imagine that happening?

AMY LEE COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND APPELLATE ATTORNEY: Ok, you know, there's a saying among criminal defense attorneys that my client will take

the stand only if you can outrun me. And in this case, we have a former president who has a lot to say, his scripted three minute testimony in the

E. Jean Carroll trial certainly didn't help him.

I can't imagine that it will do much for him here. But of course, he has the absolute constitutional right to testify. His attorneys have to advise

them of the pros and cons. But the decision rests with him. And he's a man who seems to have strong decisions and a strong sense of self. And so we

will simply see what happens with when it comes to that time at the trial.

HILL: There has been so much preparation that has come into this moment. There is of course, the legal side of things. But Jonathan, there's also

the very important security side of this matter. We just saw some live pictures there from the courthouse and we saw a short time ago, the

motorcade making its way downtown from Trump Tower.

The NYPD is used to dealing with major security events. They are used to dealing with the former president when he is in town and coordinating with

the Secret Service. What's different, though this time around, given that we're going to be seeing this play out over six to eight weeks?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, good morning, Erica. You know, it's a great question. You know, the U.S. Secret Service put out

a statement saying that they're not going to seek any special accommodations outside what would be normally required for the safety of

the former president.

But we have to put that in the context of Donald Trump in a couple of ways. First, as the most recent president, he has a lot of carryover threats from

his time in office. And I think that goes into the threat calculus that both the Secret Service and the NYPD are putting towards the protective


Remember, Former Ambassador Bolton and O'Brien, have specific security measures that are around them, because of the Iranian threat that also

applies to the former president. Second, as a presidential candidate, a president, a Former President Trump has a very loyal and dedicated base

that will animate around him.

You know, throughout the eight weeks of this trial, regardless of any circumstances, law enforcement is mindful of his supporters, and are

worried about any type of clashes that could occur for those who may be protesting against them. And then final point, specific to New York, there

are a lot of pro-Palestinian protests that are ongoing.

Those protest groups are continuously trying to seek notable events such as this trial, to disrupt, to amplify their message. So as a former secret

service agent over the course of the next eight weeks, here's what concerns me the time for eight weeks that we're going to have a protect -- that

you're going to know where he starts his day, where he's going to spend a majority of his day and where he ends his day.

That puts a very difficult strain on law enforcement, both the Secret Service and the NYPD to put forth a robust security plan that's constantly

evolving, never complacent, because you know, right now, it is a challenge, but they're not taking anything to chance, as you can see from the images

that we saw with the security plan that's been stood up.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. And we will we look at this too, from the security of the jurors in terms of that perspective. We know that they will be kept

anonymous for the most part of the attorneys the judge will know their names, but they even the sketch artist in court is not allowed to sketch



How much of that concern is being taken into account and what changes if anything in that courtroom from the perspective of security of these


COPELAND: You know the juror's security is paramount. These are individual citizens, a total of 18, 12 jurors, 6 alternates that are doing their civic

duty. And I can't imagine that the judge would allow anyone to say anything that would reveal any information about the jurors.

You know, the Secret Service and that NYPD might even have them being meeting at a place off site and carried in through a secret like loading

dock of the courthouse to try to preserve their anonymity. Unfortunately, New York does not allow a fully anonymous juror, they jury they can't go,

you know, jurors 1, 2, 3. But the defense attorneys and the government attorneys will know their names.

HILL: And Jonathan, just to wrap up this point on it, there are the NYPD, as I noted, and the U.S. Secret Service is you know quite well, they work

in concert, often, this city, there are I think some 50,000 cameras around the city. There are special hubs, obviously that have been activated for

the security for these next eight weeks or so.

There's a lot happening though, around the courthouse as well. It's not just about protecting the former president getting him safely from A to B,

getting the jurors safely from A to B, it's all the activity, as you noted, in terms of protests and demonstrations, which also impacts people getting

to their daily lives here in New York City.

WACKROW: Yes -- the NYPD has a challenge ahead of them, because not only do they have to protect the area around the courthouse downtown, they also

have to protect where the president is staying up in Midtown, which is Trump Tower and the entire motorcade route to and from those locations

every single day.

But their primary remit is to maintain civil order across New York City, all of the five boroughs, not only just this matter, so while we see a lot

of resources that are being put towards this trial over the course of the next eight weeks from federal and state in city law enforcement, there is

other priorities that they have to focus on.

So you know, this is a taxing security program that again, as I said, will constantly evolve what you see today may not be what you see in eight

weeks. Why because as this trial gets underway and garners more attention, more resources may need to be applied to the security program. So again,

this is a long haul for law enforcement.

HILL: Jonathan Wackrow and Amy Lee Copeland, appreciate your insight and your expertise. Thank you both. Still to come, we're going to update you on

the very latest from the Middle East with Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi. Stay tuned. That's just after this break.




DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So this is an outrage that this case was brought. This is political

persecution. This is a persecution like never before. Nobody's ever seen anything like it. And again, it's a case that should have never been

brought. It's an assault on America. And that's why I'm very proud to be here.

This is an assault on our country, as a country that's failing. It's a country that's run by an incompetent man who is very much involved in this

case. This is really an attack on a political opponent. That's all it is. So I'm much honored to be here. Thank you very much.


ANDERSON: Well, that was Donald Trump -- He has arrived at the courthouse ahead of what is this historic criminal trial. The just minutes ahead of

the start of that history making trial, he will of course become the first former U.S. President to stand trial on criminal charges. He arrived at

that courthouse about a half hour ago.

He faces 34 felony counts tied to a hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The trial will start with jury selection and we will

follow developments from inside the courthouse throughout the day here on CNN. All right, right now Israel's war cabinet is weighing its options

deciding what it will do after Iran's unprecedented aerial assault this weekend.

It is meeting for a second day after talks yesterday ended with opinions divided on a response. Meantime, in Sunday's emergency session of the

United Nations Security Council, Israel's U.N. Ambassador accused Iran of seeking quote world domination. His Iranian counterpart however, insisting

that Tehran's assault was a proportionate exercise of self-defense.

Right, let's get you straight to Israel. Bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live from Tel Aviv, this war cabinet meeting after no consensus on how to

respond on Sunday. What do we understand is happening now? And what is the atmosphere inside that meeting?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, as far as we understand that war cabinet meeting is still very much ongoing. And the key debates

that are being had are about the scope and the timing of an Israeli response, these war cabinet members seem to be united around the idea that

a response is required for such an unprecedented attack that Iran carried out the first of its kind on Israeli soil.

But now the question is how big should this response be? Will it potentially lead to a further escalation of this conflict between Israel

and Iran? Or will it be a more measured response that aims to avoid further escalation? There's also the question of timing. And on that front, I'm

told that Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, who also happens to be Netanyahu's chief political rival.

He has been calling for a swifter response than what we have seen so far. The Israeli Prime Minister, in contrast, has been pumping the brakes so far

on making a decision. And of course, on all of this, there are international pressures with multiple countries pressuring Israel to not

deliver a forceful response to Iran to avoid further inflaming tensions in the region.

And then, of course, there are political considerations as well, with the Israeli Prime Minister coming under pressure from his right flank to

deliver a firm and kind of heavy military response to Iran. So all of this remains to be seen, it's unclear exactly when the war cabinet will make a

decision. But at this hour that war cabinet meeting, the second in two days is still ongoing.

ANDERSON: While we await a decision, let's turn our attention to Gaza. And we're getting word that thousands of Palestinians are trying to return home

to Northern Gaza along what is a perilous route. The IDF tells CNN that the Northern Gaza Strip continues to be an active war zone and returned to the

area is, as I understand it currently not permitted or certainly not encouraged. What more do we know at this point?


DIAMOND: Well, we know that yesterday, it appears that hundreds if not thousands of Gazans, mostly women and children tried to make their way up

north to the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Some of them appear to have actually gotten through for the first time in months, but at some point

that access was shut down the Israeli military insisting that it was never even open.

But there's no question that the future of the war in Gaza is also very much tied to these debates about how Israel will respond with regards to

Iran, I'm actually told, Becky, by two Israeli officials, that Israel was setting the stage for its ground defensive in Rafah something it has talked

about for months now, just before this Iranian attack actually came through.

And the Israeli military was actually set to begin dropping leaflets on Rafah today, I'm told in order to urge civilians to begin evacuating north

in anticipation of a major ground offensive in Rafah, effectively the first stages of that ground defensive, but amid this Iranian attack, and as

Israel considers its next steps, in response to that attack.

I'm told that those evacuation notices are not being dropped today that plan has been delayed, and that it's not clear at this point when that

evacuation order for Rafah and that subsequent ground offensive will actually take place.

There's no question that should Israel retaliate in a way that will escalate tensions that will draw considerable military resources and

attention away from Gaza and towards a potential further conflict with Iran. So these two issues the future of the war in Gaza, as well as

Israel's potential response to Iran very much tied together.

ANDERSON: I just want to pick up on what you just suggested in your reporting about a delay to that Rafah offensive. We never had a date

Benjamin Netanyahu said he had a date. But it was never clear when it was? If they had been anticipating dropping leaflets today, in anticipation of

an assault, where did they expect people to evacuate to, if on the same day, they are still warning people not to return to the north because it is

an active war zone and it is not safe?

DIAMOND: Our understanding is that the Israeli military has been working to set up what they've described as humanitarian enclaves, where people from

Rafah, more than a million people who are currently living there, would move to these areas. The Israeli military hasn't really given us many

details about them.

But they would be somewhere either west of Khan Yunis in Southern Gaza, or perhaps further north in central Gaza, but not necessarily moving people

all the way back up to Northern Gaza. We know that the Israeli military has actually been working with some NGOs to begin setting up field hospitals

for those humanitarian enclaves, as well as beginning preparations to provide shelter and food to people who would also be moving there.

But the Israeli military really hasn't shared a lot of its plans for exactly where these will be set up, how they will be set up? But the United

States, of course, we know has been bringing significant pressure to bear on Israel to first of all, not move forward with the ground defensive in


But if it does, to ensure that those shelters that those areas where people will be evacuated to, will provide them with all of the basic needs that

they will have. But of course, without the details of those plans, it's hard for us to assess whether or not that's actually feasible.

ANDERSON: Yeah, because we are talking about the movement of more than a million people and you are right to point out, it would be useful to get

the detail, because without it, of course, as you say, it is not clear whether that sort of evacuation is feasible at this point. Jeremy, thank

you. You are in Tel Aviv. We appreciate that.

Still to come on CNN, we are juggling two hats today is Donald Trump's historic criminal trial gets underway. We'll have a live report from New

York on what you can expect as jury selection begins.



HILL: Donald Trump making history today as the first former U.S. President to face a trial on criminal charges arriving to the courthouse here in New

York just a short time ago. Jury selection of course set to get underway any moment now in this hush money case. And it will continue of course

until that panel of 12 New Yorkers and 6 alternates so that jury is seated.

Donald Trump is charged with 34 felony counts accused of falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement of hush money paid to adult film

star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors say that the point of that they believe was influencing the 2016 election.

The former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has pleaded not guilty. He lashed out on social media earlier this morning

saying in part I want my voice back. This crooked judge has gagged me, unconstitutional. Of course Judge Juan Merchan did impose a limited gag

order, which bans Trump from attacking witnesses, jurors, attorneys and prosecutors and their families as well as the court staff and their


CNN's Brynn Gingras is live outside the courthouse in New York and joins us with more. So we know when that the former president has arrived, he had

some words as expected. What more can we anticipate seeing today?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're going to -- he is inside the courtroom right now with his defense attorneys. It is a

pretty, you know, open courtroom at this point, because the jurors have not yet or prospective jurors rather have not yet come in. So that's what we're

expecting next. Possibly some motions will be made before those prospective jurors are brought in.

But once they do, there are about 100 at a time that will go into that courtroom, and then begins the vetting process who can be impartial out of

those groups are people 12, is what they need with 6 alternates. Now how that's going to work is first we're understanding that the judge said any

juror that has any sort of conflict, whether it be childcare issues, or just can't be there for the six to eight week, this trial is expected to


They're immediately going to be you know, relieved of their duties, then what happens after that is they're going to be given 42 questions

pertaining to this trial. Now, some of those questions include whether or not they attended a Trump rally, for example, where do they get their news?

Are they affiliated with a fringe group like QAnon or the proud boys? So a number of questions, both the prosecution and the defense side are going to

get 10 vetoes of whichever jurors they choose. But this is a process as you can imagine, that could take quite a bit. We're expecting jury selection to

last at least a week, possibly into a second week.

And then opening statements can begin in this trial, which you guys just pointed out a historic trial that again, we are expecting to last about two

months, Erica.

HILL: All right, Brynn. Thank you. Joining me now, Republican Strategist Shermichael Singleton and Democratic Strategist Mark Longabaugh, good to

have both of you with us, this is of course a legal case, but it is impossible to ignore the political elements here, Shermichael, has been

much made of it.

And Donald Trump has even said at moments. He thinks this can ultimately help him while also complaining that he's going to be off the campaign

trail. Being off the trail when he can be out there on the weekends, he sent to be in a courtroom, Shermichael, really going to in any way impact

his ability to communicate with voters?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, I don't think so because we're covering this wall to wall coverage.


I mean, I think Donald Trump has a master mind of commanding media attention if you will and when he talks about this sort of being

politicized from the perspective of many Republican voters that I speak with even a sliver of independent but right leaning voters, they do see it

that way.

For example, you look at Manhattan, 76 percent of residents there voted for President Biden in 2020 over the former president, you look at some of the

statements from Alvin Bragg when he was running as DA he made several presumptive statements and interviews about the former president's alleged


There was an article that just came out four hours ago talking about the fact that he raised over $800,000 since indicting the former president. So

you look at all of those facts. And it does sort of raise questions in the eyes of some people, could there be a political component to this?

HILL: Part of what the former president has tried to allege, though, is that this political opponent is really, you know, Democrats pulling strings

here. He's tried to tie this to Joe Biden, which, of course, is not at this point. How are Democrats dealing with those charges? And do you think

they're doing it effectively, Mark?

MARK LONGABAUGH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah -- I think there are a lot of facts out there they come to a different conclusion. I mean most of the

polling that we have seen over time when voters are confronted with the fact that how would they vote if Donald Trump was convicted of a criminal


Sure that, you know, there's massive movement among Republican voters, independent voters, and it moves into a reading almost every poll and --

voters are confronted with that fact. So I do think these trials have the potential to seriously damage Trump. I will also say that on this point,

that you know, he's a master showman.

I agree with that. But what it's going to be forced into is a dialogue and the race is going to be shaped around, many of the things that voters don't

like about Donald Trump. I think he's often his own worst enemy. And if he doesn't control himself and behave himself in the courtroom, I think this

Trump has potential seriously damaging.

HILL: We used to get some of that polling. I do want to just bring up here the polling question that was asked if Donald Trump was convicted 58

percent of likely voters said it wouldn't matter. 29 percent said they'd be less likely to vote for him. 11 percent said they would be more likely to

vote for him.

Some other interesting polling that's come out in just the last couple of days is his latest New York Times polling and which shows a split race at

this point. 46 percent for Donald Trump, 45 percent for Joe Biden, that is well within the margin of error, of course, to put this at a split race.

How much do you think this change in polling because back in February, that same poll, late February, I believe, showed Donald Trump with a 5 point

lead? Shermichael, how much do you think this new polling showing the race tightening is also impacting Donald Trump this morning?

SINGLETON: Well, I'm not surprised as more and more people continue to focus on this nationally. I think what really matters here, Erica, are the

battleground states. What are voters in North Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada, maybe even Pennsylvania if you want to throw that

one in?

What are those voters thinking? Because I think those are the states that the former president needs to win, Pennsylvania, he needs to perform

competitively. And he saw that Quinnipiac poll where 58 percent of voters are saying, look, this doesn't really matter. And I'm not surprised by

that, because I think most people already assumed Trump was either guilty or not guilty.

I don't think you're going to find a whole host of people in the middle on this, Erica. And then once you throw in those sort of third party

candidates, and some of those battleground states, you start looking at the math, and then you do see a path for the former president even if he's

found guilty.

HILL: And, so real quickly, Mark, I'll give you the last word on that.

LONGABAUGH: I think very, very tight -- 30,000 votes -- election and I think it's going to be one of the major moments. I don't think it's going

to --

HILL: Mark Longabaugh, Shermichael Singleton. Good to have you both with us. Thank you. Just ahead here we head back to the Middle East as regional

power scramble to head off an all-out war with Israel and Iran neighbors say needs to be done immediately.



ANDERSON: Welcome back. It is 10 to 6 here in the UAE. You are watching "Connect the World" live from our Middle East Hub in Abu Dhabi. This is a

region on tender hooks after Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel. You're looking at video that has emerged on Telegram purporting to show drones

being launched from Iran as part of that attack.

Israel says nearly all were intercepted but it has vowed to quote exact a price in return. Well, sources tell us that there has been heated debate

inside the Israeli war cabinet over the size and scope of any response and the global community urging restraint hoping a line can be drawn under this

flaring violence.

The UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency meeting just minutes from now. And we will of course be monitoring that UN crisis meeting for

you at the top of the hour. Now let's take the temperature in one part of this region, a very important part a part that is already a flashpoint that

is the Northern front of Israel as it is known Southern Lebanon.

Ben Wedeman is live for us in Beirut. Ben, Iran insists its attack on Israel was legitimate. Israel, its war cabinet now pondering its decision

arguing about its decision it seems. What is the prevailing view from around the Middle East about what might happen next?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fear is that Israel will react to this weekend's Iranian garage that took place. Now

this was the real worry not it was sort of taken as granted and that after the April 1st Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, that

Iran would respond.

And it was clear from for instance, we heard from the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah that Iran would respond directly to the attack.

And that's what it did. The question that has always been, what next? If Israel retaliates, then you could get into a cycle of strike and counter

strike that has a real danger of escalating.

And that's where the worry lies, is that you have a place like Lebanon, which is always on the brink when it comes to Israel since the beginning of

the war in Gaza. We heard from a source close to Hezbollah that Hezbollah would stand back, have Iran do the response to the strike on the consulate

in Damascus.

But if it escalates after that, he warned then Hezbollah and the other militias and proxies affiliated with Iran could become directly involved,

and would be compelled, in a sense because of their ties with Tehran to escalate the conflict, which would therefore open the door to a regional


And so the fear is what is the next step? So everybody's very closely watching the second meeting of the Israeli war cabinet in less than 24

hours to find out what the decision is. Certainly the hopes is that the United States after President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu the

other night, that Israel will be restrained and not take the path toward escalation Becky.

ANDERSON: Ben, we are already seeing strike after counter strike across the southern border of Lebanon of course. It is in play, albeit not as

worryingly as it might be and as you say, people concerned about what happens next? Remind us very briefly what Israel's position is when it

comes to Hezbollah and what is going on that Northern front?


WEDEMAN: Well, in the first few months following the 7th of October, Israel and Hezbollah, were calling an unwritten understanding that strikes would

be focused on military targets in a relatively close to the border on each side. But what we've seen as time has gone on the Israelis are striking

deeper and deeper inside Lebanon.

For instance, on Sunday, they struck in a town called Nabi Chit (ph) which is well away from the border with the Lebanese Syrian border. And the

Israelis are always holding out the possibility that they will go further, they have made it clear. They want all Hezbollah fighters south of the

Litani River to go north of it, but we're not seeing any indication from Hezbollah that they're willing to do that.

And we've heard from well informed sources that the Israelis have made it clear if that doesn't happen soon they will enter South Lebanon in force,


ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman is in Beirut. I'm in Abu Dhabi. We'll be back after this short break.