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Egypt Urged Restraint in Calls with Israel and Iran; Egypt Says Talks Are Ongoing; Egyptian Foreign Minister Says Israeli Military Action in Rafah Should Be Avoided; Jury Selection Resumes in Trump Hush Money Trial; Interview with Rafael Grossi, IAEA Chief, on Iran's Nuclear Facilities, Zaporizhzhya in Ukraine; Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Seeking Third Term. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 16, 2024 - 10:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): Hello and welcome to the second CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And I'm Erica Hill in New York, where jury selection is resuming in the criminal hush

money trial against Donald Trump. The former president is again in court at this hour, facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

We're going to have much more on that trial as we move through the hour, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Erica,

First, let me bring you the very latest on what's happening here in the Middle East. Israel's war cabinet has just wrapped up its fifth meeting in

three days after Iran's unprecedented aerial assault over the weekend. An Israeli official has said the government was reviewing both diplomatic and

military options.

Meantime, a fresh snag in hostage ceasefire talks Hamas has halved the number of Israeli hostages it says it is willing to release as part of the

first phase of any potential deal. A U.S. official tells CNN, Hamas is now offering to release just 20 as opposed to the 40 long expected by Israel

and the U.S.

Well, for its part Egypt very much entangled in the crisis in the region, both geographically of course and diplomatically. A key player in ongoing

hostage ceasefire talks is now urging restraint from both Israel and Iran as Tehran threatens any country in the region that supports Israel in its

response to Saturday's aerial assaults.

Earlier today, I asked Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry what his message to both countries is.


SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, I've spoken to both foreign ministers in an effort to convey the importance of maintaining

tranquility and peace and not to engage in a cycle that will only bring about more instability and will have a very negative effect on the peoples

of the region.

This constant resort to military activity of one kind of another is not in any way helpful. We have to deal with the ongoing situation in Rafah (ph),

which is quite a humanitarian crisis of a unprecedented dimension. And we have to deal with the overall security and stability of the region.

And this reciprocal targeting is in no way conducive to dealing with the longstanding issues and conflicts in the region.

ANDERSON: Hamas has rejected the latest proposal on a hostage deal. I mean, Egypt had hosted the last talks. You've worked very hard behind the

scenes to try and effect a deal.

Where does that latest rejection leave the prospects of a cease-fire, even talks for a cease-fir anytime soon?

SHOUKRY: I don't think it's positive or constructive that we try to define any party's position related to the discussions and negotiations that have

been ongoing because, at various times there have been various positions taken from one or the other.

And thereby we shouldn't continue to concentrate on arriving at a consensus between the two sides that will result in a ceasefire and the release of

the hostages and detainees and in the provision of humanitarian assistance.

At this stage, we haven't reached that point as yet but we are working hard in conjunction with the United States and with Qatari partners to arrive at

this point of agreement.

Talks are ongoing. They have never been severed. There are constant ideas being presented and we will continue to do so until the objective is



This situation cannot continue indefinitely, cannot continue even in the short term because of the current status of the humanitarian suffering of

the Palestinian civilians in Gaza and must be resolved as soon as possible for the sake of the civilians of Gaza, for the sake of the hostages and for

the sake of the peace in the region.

ANDERSON: Benjamin Netanyahu insists that he will flush out the remaining Hamas operatives and senior military commanders Israel believes are in

Rafah at this point.

Now while our reporting at CNN suggests that the Iran retaliatory reaction over the weekend has delayed any Israeli offensive on Rafah, it does seem

that Israel intends to act there.

How concerned are you and when do you expect that assault on Rafah at this point?

SHOUKRY: Our position has been very clear and I think it is consistent with the position that has been advocated by the international community,

by the United States, by our partners in Western Europe.

Generally, I think there's a general international community consensus that a military activity in Rafah should not occur because of the potential

consequences on the civilian population, which has amassed there, almost 1.3 million civilians who are taking shelter in Rafah in very difficult


And I believe that that position should be respected by the Israeli government and should be adhered to.

ANDERSON: Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said a couple of days ago that the prospect of Gazans crossing into Egypt from the

border town of Rafah to escape a military assault would make the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible.

And to quote him here, "cause an atrocious dilemma for the people fleeing," say, quote, "Another refugee crisis from Gaza into Egypt would make the

resolution of the Palestinian refugee question as a consequence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Impossible."

I just wonder what you make of his words and would Egypt accept any Palestinians fleeing Gaza, even on a temporary basis?

SHOUKRY: I think the comments are an indication of the seriousness of the situation and the need to avoid such a circumstance. The Palestinian people

are a people with a national identity. They have a homeland that is well- defined.

And there have been since Oslo a process to try to resolve this issue through negotiations and through the provision of the rights of the

Palestinian people, which are generally recognized by the international community.

Whatever happens -- and we should avoid the potential of a military action in Rafah in conjuncture with the opinion of the vast majority of the

international community, if not, its unanimity and recognize that to continuing suffering of civilians is unacceptable.

And it constitutes the values that we should all uphold. Egypt has been, for the last 75 years, in all accounts, taking the best interest of the

Palestinian people and giving it priority and will continue to do so. In what manner it will do so will depend on the circumstances and I don't

think it's useful to speculate in this regard.

ANDERSON: But if it were in the best interests of the Palestinian people, particularly those in Rafah, to open the gate, as it were, even on a

temporary basis, to avoid further civilian fallout from an Israeli offensive, is that an option?

SHOUKRY: The best interests of the Palestinian people -- and the Israeli people, for that matter -- is the two-state solution. And the Palestinians

can live in peace and security within their own borders. And that Israel could do the same.

That is in the best interests of everyone and we should not be promoting or speculating on any other alternative.


But we will deal with whatever circumstances in the appropriate manner, in the humane manner. And I think it is important, again, to reiterate that it

is incumbent upon Israel as the occupying power to provide security and to avoid the displacement.

Displacement is a war crime. Displacement and any activity that is conducive and promotes displacement is a war crime and should be regarded

as such.

And we expect that states do not indulge in activities that are in contravention to international humanitarian law.


ANDERSON: The Egyptian foreign minister speaking to me earlier. CNN's Clarissa Ward across all of this from Tel Aviv.

Before I ask you for some comment on what we just heard from the Egyptian foreign minister, he did say at the top of this that he has spoken to both

Iran and Israel on this current uptick in rhetoric that we are hearing post this aerial assault, retaliatory assault by Iran, over the weekend.

And he said, he has urged restraint on both sides. We know that this war cabinet has now just wrapped up in Israel for -- the fifth cabinet since


And what do we understand to have come out of that?

Is there any indication at this point as to what Israel's next move might be?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a high degree of anticipation. Everybody at this stage understands that it's

not a question of if but when and what exactly an Israeli retaliation will look like.

But still no real inkling as to the scale and scope of what that -- what that will be, how it will transpire. And obviously, you have, as a result,

as you heard from the foreign minister, a lot of concern coming regionally; also from Israel's allies in the West there has been a flurry of diplomatic


As you know, Secretary of State Blinken talking about efforts that the U.S. has been working on. You've got the German foreign minister, who's in

Jordan, who's coming here to Israel tomorrow.

And everybody in the international community seemingly very much focused on trying to contain this situation as it enters this unprecedented, out in

the open chapter of what has been, for many decades, a shadow war.

But still a real question mark as to what kind of retaliation we are going to see, Becky.

And the fact that it has been five war cabinet meetings, the fact that those meetings have been going on for three, four hours at a time, I think,

gives an indication as to the sort of competing political calculations and considerations that Israel's leadership is contending with, as it plots

whatever its response will be.

ANDERSON: Clarissa, sources in the United States have told CNN they expect Israel's response to Iran to be, quote, "limited."

There is profound concern. You are well aware of just what happens next and the impact it may have on regional stability.

And I'm broadcasting here from Abu Dhabi in the UAE as part of this sort of wider region. And the concern is here, as it is around capitals in the Gulf

and the wider Middle East.

Meantime, you heard Sameh Shoukry and me talking there about a potential operation by the Israelis on Rafah. So let's talk Gaza at this point. As we

understand it, that imminent operation has been delayed somewhat by what happened over the weekend but it is likely to be imminent. We are told that

it will happen.

And you heard Sameh Shoukry, talking about his concerns for those who would be displaced and where they will be displaced to.

Your thoughts on what you heard?

WARD: Well, I think that what you heard from the foreign minister is a view that you would hear articulated, not just in the region but in many

Western capitals as well.

There has been an overwhelming amount of criticism of Israel's handling of this war, of the shocking civilian death toll in Gaza and of the prospect

for an absolute, unmitigated disaster if this incursion into Rafah gets underway without real consideration being taken for the more than 1 million

Palestinians who are currently displaced.

And hunkered down there without consideration for the rapidly spiraling humanitarian crisis, with famine stalking the people of northern Gaza.


And I think there's also been a sense, at least from the U.S., as Israel has an opportunity now, with this attack from Iran, to try to change the

conversation, to try to reframe the main talking points around this conflict.

And as President Biden said to prime minister Netanyahu, allegedly, in a conversation, take the win, don't squander this moment.

Now you have to also take into account, though, Becky, that internally in Israel, there is a huge amount of pressure on the government, on the

military to deliver some kind of military victory in Gaza against Hamas, to see that those hostages get released.

Nobody knows exactly what this victory would look like. It certainly is clear that there's no plan for the day after in terms of Gaza's future.

But again, it comes back to this balancing act that Israel's leadership and military finds itself trying to balance. Becky.

ANDERSON: Clarissa Ward is in Jerusalem. It's -- sorry, you're in Tel Aviv. And it's good to have you, Clarissa, thank you.

More on this as we move through the hour.

Still to come as well this hour, day two of Donald Trump's historic criminal trial gets underway in New York but not without the former

president first attacking the case and the judge presiding over it. The latest on what we can expect in court today is just ahead.




HILL: Welcome back. At this hour, court is now underway for day two of Donald Trump's historic criminal trial here in New York City. The former

president is accused of falsifying business records to cover up an alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

He has pleaded not guilty. Today, the work continues to try to seat a jury, who will weigh those 34 charges against him. Dozens of potential jurors are

already out after telling the judge on Monday, when asked, that they did not feel they could be impartial in deciding the case.

Before heading into the courtroom, just about -- in just the last hour, Donald Trump, again, went on the attack, referring to the case as a sham

and a disgrace, calling on the judge once again to recuse himself. CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz, joining me now, live

with more.

There had been a motion for the judge to recuse himself, which was denied, of course, as one of the first orders of business yesterday. As court got

underway, the jury selection process has resumed at this point.

How's it going so far?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, already one person has said to the judge that they don't think that they could be

impartial or that it would be very hard for them to be impartial. So they've been excused. So far this morning, the process is going forward.

This is how it works. This is a screening.


Not that people -- for people who have never heard of Donald Trump or of the case, those people could conceivably and very likely will be on the

jury. It's not whether they can set aside their preconceived notions, look at the evidence and the facts that are presented to them in the courtroom

fairly and with impartiality.

And so the process now is the judge asking these jurors, potential jurors, questions to see if they are going to say, no, I can't do it. And so there

are a lot of additional questions that the judge is following up with if a person says they can't be impartial.

So we've already seen so far this morning, just a few minutes into the court proceedings beginning, one person being taken out of the pool

yesterday. They started with 96; so they're doing about 100 prospective jurors in the courtroom at a time.

And then they're working through them with the questions, with the questionnaire that the judge has already set up and asked these people,

especially screening for this impartiality, this possibility that they would be biased.

They're down to right around 30. The numbers are going to change but we are moving through this process. It isn't at this point in time impossible to

seat a jury. There's hundreds more people who've been summoned to court for this potential trial.

But we're just going to have to wait and see how the day plays out and how many more people indicate to the judge that they have a hard time being on

the jury of Donald Trump because they have some sort of bias.

HILL: Katelyn, just to be clear, those 50 people who initially said on day one, yesterday, that they did not feel that they could be Impartial or

unbiased, that was a generic question that was asked of everyone.

They weren't asked to follow up with (INAUDIBLE), correct?

POLANTZ: That's right. And that's a little bit unusual, in that typically that sort of question would be asked and then a judge would follow up with

additional questions to see if the person is just trying to get out of jury service or if there's a real bias that the person has.

But in this case, because it's so high profile, because it's Donald Trump, because the judge says he doesn't think that it would actually do a lot to

question them further, other than waste time, he asked that one question, point blank.

And if someone said, no, I can't be fair and impartial toward Donald Trump, then they were off the jury. And about half of that initial group of 100,

they were excused immediately. So they're working through the remaining 30 or so.

HILL: Right. Katelyn, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining me now, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

And Joey, good to have you with us as always. Yes, we rely on you a lot in that role as a defense attorney. But I want our viewers to know you have an

extensive history on both sides, really, of the courtroom here.

And you also, of course, worked in the DA's office in New York. So you have, I think, a really important and unique understanding of how things

are playing out in this moment.

And you know the judge, as I understand it.

When you watch at how things are playing out so far, how do you think it's going and how would you assess the way he's handling some of these motions

that we've seen so far?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so, Erica, good to be with you. I think in terms of the motions, you always want to be fair. You want to be

practical. I think it was the right call, just looking at the motions and pivoting to jury selection.

But in looking at the motions, I think it would have been very damaging to Mr. Trump to have the various sexual accusers and any type of testimony --

or even alluding to any type of prior sexual abuse allegations -- that would have been damaging. The judge kept it out.

I think the "Access Hollywood" tape, although they will be alluding to it and speaking about it, but the tape itself is very inflammatory. The judge

kept it out.

Why do I speak about that?

You constantly and repeatedly see the president railing, Erica, with respect to it's unfair; judge is unhinged; the judge, everyone's against


I think the judge is doing his best to give a fair trial. With respect to my knowledge of the judge, even back from the days of law school, he's a

person of great faith. He's a person, I think, of high competence. And I think he'll attempt to do the right thing, right, within the infallibility

that everybody has as people.

With regard, Erica, to the jury selection process, it's not unanticipated that you're going to have a host of jurors who have strong opinions about

the case and about the president or former president.

And so I think the fact that you exclude 50 people right off the bat goes to the issue of, again, giving Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt. You say

you can't be fair, OK. We're going to remove you. No questions asked.

And then we're going to probe of the other jurors to drill down on what they really could be fair. And if they can't, we will exclude those, too.

And so I think it takes -- it's a process, it takes time. But this is as it should be, this is our process at work for the world to see. And I'm

confident that, in Manhattan, as has been done and is done every single day, there'll be an fair and impartial jury empanelled to hear the facts

and the evidence on the merits.


And if a jury reaches a determination beyond the reasonable doubt in favor of the prosecution, he'll be convicted. And in the event they don't meet

that standard, he will be acquitted. And that's exactly as it should be.

HILL: Joey, the former president has been railing before and after court against this trial, which he's done for a long time against the judge, as

you know. This morning, he also made it a point to say, I just -- pardon me -- these were legal expenses, talking about -- it sounded like talking

about the charges in this case.

Could that come back to bite him?

JACKSON: You know, I think that, because it's about politics on the one hand, because it's an election year and there are certain things that he

can speak to. He can rabbit (ph) the judge day and night. That's part of really the process.

This is 2024 campaign. He's running for president. Have at it.

I think more dangerous is the issue of violating the gag order. As you know, Erica, there'll be a hearing next week to reach an assessment as to

whether or not he did that, who did what.

The president, former president, in talking about Michael Cohen and other witnesses, violated the gag order, which says you can't do that.

We live in an era where people could be really subject to great danger in the event that they're savaged by a person with a bully pulpit like that.

So what'll be interesting to see of me, is when next week they have the hearing, whether the judge holds him accountable -- that is Mr. Trump --

and how the judge holds him accountable.

Is it simply a reprimand, is it a fine?

Is it imprisonment?

And between now and then, what else does the president do?

And so anything the president does, former president, he's got to be careful of. And remember, he could testify. And if he says something and

it's fair game for prosecutors to cross-examine him on some of the things he said.

And the reason I mentioned that, Erica, last point, and that's because in the event the president testifies and he lies, that goes to the issue of

sentencing. Judges do not like people lying on the witness stand. Many people believing, oh, it's just a probationary case.

Sure. And think about the fact that if he got prison and he got elected, what a constitutional crisis that would be. And so we'll wait and see.

HILL: Yes, Joey, appreciate your insight. Your expertise as always, my friend. Thank you.

Stay with us. We're going take a short break here. We'll be right back.





ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson.

One of the biggest questions surrounding a looming Israeli response to Iran's retaliatory attack on Israel this past weekend is this: would

Israel target Iranian nuclear facilities?

Well, the prospect of that happening is raising the concerns of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog chief. Rafael Grossi is urging extreme restraint. He said

Iran closed its nuclear facilities on Sunday over security considerations. And Rafael Grossi, friend of the show, joins me now from Vienna.

And it's good to have you, sir. Thank you for making the time. You have said that Iran's nuclear sites closed due to security concerns over the


Are those sites back open?

And do your inspectors still have access to them?

RAFAEL MARIANO GROSSI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: Yes. Well, indeed, and Becky, it's good to talk to you again, I would say, just like you said, the

Iranian authorities informed us that, because of the situation over the weekend, they would be closing down the sites, reopening them yesterday,


We hope -- we decided for caution to -- not to send our inspectors also yesterday. Today, we are back there and the situation seems to be business

as usual. But of course, during the weekend, it was extremely tense.

ANDERSON: It is not clear what Israel's response to these weekend attacks will be. The fifth meeting in three days of the war cabinet has now

finished. And it is not clear at this stage what the decision has been.

How concerned are you that an Israeli attack could target Iran's --


ANDERSON: -- facilities?

GROSSI: Well, my concern is the general concern that applies to these or applies to other things we have been discussing together, Becky, like what

is happening in Ukraine or in other places.

We believe that, in times of conflict and an active conflict or combat, targeting nuclear facilities could be perhaps tempting (ph) for a military

decision-maker. It would be a terrible mistake with potentially very serious consequences.

So we don't -- I don't have any information or any indication that there is in planning on the part of Israel or any other state to be targeting

nuclear facilities. But of course, we are on alert.

And what I said yesterday in New York is my position on this: there would be, there should be extreme restraint on everybody's side, I would say.

ANDERSON: We have seen Iran increase its amount of enriched uranium since the U.S. left the JCPOA.

What's the current state of Iran's nuclear program?

GROSSI: Well, that continues. The -- they continue to amass important quantities of uranium and reached levels that are very, very close;

technically identical, I would say, with those which are required for nuclear weapons.

They are producing around 10 kilograms of uranium enriched at 60 percent, which is very, very close to the 90 percent level that is required for

nuclear devices. That doesn't mean that that's -- that doesn't mean that this is equivalent to a nuclear weapon, we have to be clear.

But at the same time it is very significant. No other country that does not have nuclear weapons is enriching uranium at this extremely high levels. So

hence, my concern --


GROSSI: -- efforts. Yes.

ANDERSON: How concerned are you that the increase in tensions with Israel -- which is not a signatory to the NPT -- could cause Iran to go for a

nuclear weapon?

GROSSI: Well, this -- Becky, what you're saying, it's not -- it's not new. This has been, I would say, at the back of the whole discussion in the

Middle East about nuclear weapons and accessing nuclear weapons and having them or not having them.

This is a decades-long debate that we have had, with some contending that, while Israel might have them, let's be reminded of the fact that Israel has

a policy of not affirming or denying the possession of these weapons. But as you rightly say, said, they are not a signatory to the NPT.


So some others have been saying this is an imbalance. And what we are saying is that everybody should be party to the NPT and there shouldn't be

any nuclear weapon in the Middle East.

So quite clearly, it is a factor. It is a factor that is considered. We cannot deny that. But it is also a factor that is being considered, whether

other countries, including Iran or others, should cross the threshold, thereby unraveling completely what has been, heretofore, the basic, I would

say, rules of the road for the nuclear order.

And in particular in this part of the world, this is why we are so concerned. As you may have seen, I have been in Syria the last couple of

weeks. We are trying to reengage with Iran. We are trying to show the IAEA flag as high and as clearly as possible to remind everybody that nuclear

weapons should be out of this equation.

ANDERSON: Do you have any plans to travel to Iran soon?

GROSSI: Well, good question, because we are considering that. At this point, we have had a month-long interruption in the high-level discussion.

Our inspectors are there and they are conducting their day-to-day inspection activity.

But we still have important cuts in information, important points that Iran should have been clarifying with us and have not been clarified. But I'm in

contact with the vice president of the Islamic Republic and we are considering the possibility of a meeting soon.

I don't have a date; otherwise, I would tell you. But we are working on a specific agenda because it's not about coming to visit. It's about trying

to move this forward, obviously.

ANDERSON: You and I last spoke just before you visited Russia. While I've got you, I want to get an update on where things stand specifically with

Zaporizhzhya, the nuclear plant in Ukraine. As recently as last week, we got news of a drone detonation there.


ANDERSON: How (INAUDIBLE) is that plant right now?

GROSSI: Several, several detonations, Becky. It has been very bad and, unfortunately, you remember the last time we were talking about this, I was

saying that there was a relative stability. But one could not take anything for granted and so on and so forth.

And unfortunately, the facts proved me right because on 7th of April, there were a series of attacks with drones. And this is the reason I went to New

York, because the United States and Slovenia together requested a special meeting of the Security Council, to hear from me how we see the situation.

And the reality is that on that date, we had a salvo, I would say, of drone incursions with explosive charges. There was no compromise on the safety

situation at the plant. But it is amazing, incredible that people are acquiring targets in a way that it looks like a show, like a provocation.

Because one of -- one of them impact that roof of a reactor. It was not hitting somewhere in the vicinity. It's like somebody saying, I can do this

if I want.

This is why I am extremely, extremely concerned and why I briefed the Security Council. I got tremendous support. This was encouraging in the

current circumstances. And I hope that everybody follows through.

ANDERSON: Rafael Grossi, who was responsible for that -- for that multiple drone attack?

GROSSI: Well, that is the question, isn't it?

And this is what many were asking me, including some of your colleagues in New York. In this case, it is not possible to determine it because of the

nature of the weapon that has been used. As you know, drones are very, are very ubiquitous. Drones have erratic trajectories on purpose sometimes.

And the facility is at the front line as you know. So you can have a device, this small four-rotor drones that can come from one or the other

part. And on top of that, when they are destroyed, there are no markers that would allow you to identify with the degree of certainty for the IAEA

to say this is --



ANDERSON: Understood.

GROSSI: -- coming from this country or that country. It would be irresponsible of my part. This is why what we are saying is, whoever is

behind it, stop it.

ANDERSON: Understood. And I need to leave it there. It's always good to have you on. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson. Still to come, Donald Trump back in a Manhattan court for day two of jury selections. How

the hush money trial is expected to impact his campaign efforts ahead of the 2024 presidential election. That is ahead.




HILL: Donald Trump is back in court at this hour. It is day two of jury selection in his criminal trial. The former president is required to attend

court every day of the trial. The process to seat a jury is expected to be a bit long, maybe a bit laborious, perhaps a little boring at times.

It should last one to two weeks. This of course, is happening in the midst of the 2024 campaign season as well. Stephen Collinson joining me now from


Stephen, always good to talk with you and I always appreciate your insights each day when I wake up and find your newsletter in my inbox. You were

writing about this specifically and what it means for Donald Trump to be off the trail.

The reality is he's off the trail for part of the time. But there will be three days a week when court is not in session, when he can be out there.

And he is certainly not silenced on -- during the hours that he is not in the courtroom.

Is this going to impact him negatively?

It seems that he can really spin this as much as he would like to almost benefit.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly benefited him so far. The way that Trump has weaponized his four indictments, I

think, does a lot to tell us about his political skill. And it was very effective in gathering the Republican base around him in the GOP primary


It really didn't allow any space for other candidates, like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, for example, to get a word in edgewise. And DeSantis

complained about that after he was forced from the race.

I think it's a slightly different question as it pertains to a general election. And we don't know how this is going to play out. While Trump is

using these breaks in the court to create an impression that he's being victimized by the justice system, that he's being unfairly treated, that

works to some extent.

But does it work with those suburban, moderate voters that are going to decide this election?

A few thousand votes potentially in a handful of swing states, I think that is a very big question the longer this goes on.

Does Trump get tainted with the aura of criminality?

Or does he effectively portray himself as a victim?

And then that pertains his political benefit in November.


It's an interesting question and I don't think we can really say just yet how it's going to play out.

HILL: He's certainly continuing to play that victim card. We heard from him this morning on his way into court, telling the cameras, once again, he

thought this trial was a sham. The judge should recuse himself.

Of course, a motion the judge recuse himself was actually denied, one of the first orders of business in court on Monday morning. But he also said

that he was being forced to stay off the campaign trail, that they wouldn't let them out there, which is not entirely accurate.

He's not on the campaign trail. Again, as we talked about, he could be there other days. He does have to be in court. But he's going to continue

to make these statements.

As we watch that, there's also a concern about whether this gag order, in fact, is it going to be enforced?

The prosecution has already said they believe he violated it.

How much of a concern do you think that is for the campaign?

COLLINSON: Well, that's a good question. And to your point about him being on the campaign trail, he's already making plans to get out there this

weekend and he'll use that to highlight what he sees as the victimization of this trial.

In terms of the gag older, I mean, Donald Trump can pretty much talk about anything other than the officers of the court, the Family members of the

officers of the court. He pretty previously singled out the daughter of the judge and led to the expansion of the gag order.

But what Trump is trying to do, I think, is to walk right up to that line of infringing the gag order to test the judge. It's a way of working the

rest, if you'd like. If the judge, for example, were to take a first step and impose a fine on Trump, that would all play into his political

martyrdom narrative.

And he would then argue that he's being -- his rights as a candidate running for office are being infringed. And that plays into his wider

narrative that the whole point of all of this is to keep him out of the Oval Office.

But it's a dangerous one as well. I mean, if he continues to do it, the judge is going to have to think about very serious measures against him.

HILL: We'll be watching for it. Stephen Collinson, good to talk with you today. Thank you.

Still to come here on CNN, the world's largest democracy heading to the polls this week. We will show you the mood in India ahead of that key vote.




ANDERSON: India's prime minister Narendra Modi's right-wing party expected to win the upcoming national election, according to the polls. And he is

expected to be appointed again as prime minister.

Modi has many opponents who fear India has become increasingly polarized along religious lines under his leadership. And they fear another term for

the prime minister. CNN's Will Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Varanasi, an ancient city heaving with humanity. If India had a Bible belt,

this could be its capital.

Religion woven into the fabric of life here, like the rickshaws weaving in and out of traffic or the tang of turmeric, cumin and coriander from the

Gola Dinanath spice market hundreds of years old.

RIPLEY: I'm Will.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Here, I meet a shopkeeper --

RIPLEY: Nice to meet you.

RIPLEY (voice-over): -- Akash Jaiswal, who's full of praise for India's popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

RIPLEY: What makes him different from others?

AKASH JAISWAL, RESIDENT: What he says, he has done.

RIPLEY: When you hear him speak, do you feel like he's speaking to you and your life?


JAISWAL: Yes, yes, because he speaks with the heart.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The heart of a very smart politician. Modi was not born here. He chose to represent this Hindu spiritual center. Leading up to

the elections, Modi inaugurated a temple dedicated to Lord Ram, one of Hinduism's most revered deities, built on the site of a Muslim mosque

demolished decades ago by Hindu hardliners.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translated text): Ram is India's faith. Ram is India's foundation. Ram is India's thought.

RIPLEY (voice-over): He's blurring the line between religion and politics, projecting himself as the head priest, the protector, the creator of a

Hindu first nation.

SABA NAQVI, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Prime Minister Modi does something which has not happened before in Indian politics among all our prime

ministers. He willfully creates a cult of his own personality.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Many actually worship Modi himself, almost like a living God. But not every Hindu here is a believer. Vishwambhar Nath Mishra

is head priest of a prominent local temple and it sits alongside Hinduism's holiest river, the Ganges.

Every day he bathes in these heavily polluted holy waters. He says the environment and also the political climate has drastically deteriorated

during Modi's first decade in power. He's widely expected to win a third five-year term.

RIPLEY: Have you ever seen this city so divided, so polarized?

VISHWAMBHAR NATH MISHRA, HEAD PRIEST, SANKAT MOCHAN TEMPLE: This is what we call it is not the religious center. It is basically a spiritual center.

So this unique fabric has a strained condition now. And we have a fear that this fabric may break.

RIPLEY (voice-over): That's what happened back in 2002 when Modi was chief minister of the Indian Western state of Gujarat. Religious riots there

killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.

And many say Modi is stoking the fires of religious tensions, empowering the Hindu majority and marginalizing the Muslim minority.

SANA SABAH, RESIDENT: The first term that came to my mind was scary.

RIPLEY: Scary?

SABAH: Yes, it's scary.

RIPLEY (voice-over): I sat down with Sana Sabah. She was celebrating the end of Ramadan with her family. All of them worrying if this is the end of

a secular Indian government and will it mean the end of their religious and civil rights?

chaiwala, a tea seller

SABAH: And where is the freedom of somebody just wearing a skull cap, minding his own business, buying mutton, whatever he wants to and then

heading home and then dying on the way?

RIPLEY (voice-over): And there are other things she worries about, like high youth unemployment, low wages, widespread poverty, not to mention


But polls still show Modi's popularity is pushing 80 percent. RIPLEY: Modi's own path from poverty to politics is part of his appeal

for a lot of people here in India. His official biography says he's the middle son of a chaiwala, a tea seller. A humble upbringing that he says

helps him understand the problems plaguing everyday people.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Modi says his programs put more food on their tables. Plus the government hands out cash and cooking gas and they provided water

and power and sanitation services.

Modi's also getting a lot of respect abroad.

DILEEP PATEL, VARANASI BJP PRESIDENT (through translator): Today, India is strong, capable and self-reliant under the prime minister's leadership.

RIPLEY (voice-over): In Modi's India, majority rules and he's expected to win a commanding majority of India's nearly one billion eligible voters,

the biggest democratic election in the history of mankind, making Modi one of the most popular and powerful leaders in the world, even if some feel

they may be left behind.


ANDERSON: Well, let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley.

And while he does have his detractors, as your report suggested, his stewardship of one of, if not the fastest growing economy in the world,

buys him an awful lot of fans, which is why he is in such a powerful position going into this election.

RIPLEY: Absolutely, Becky, I mean, you've got in India is the world's fastest growing economy and Modi knows that that is a matter of national

pride amongst his supporters.

Even people who are not part of the international wheeling and dealing the billions of dollars of foreign investment coming into India, which is

trying to boost up its infrastructure and manufacturing sector, basically to kind of take some of the advertiser -- or I should say manufacturing

market as it's shifting away from China.

Trying to attract those businesses into India, that, of course, translates into more jobs for people. But there's also Modi's promise that he's going

to boost social spending here as well.

You heard me mention the government handouts, things like cooking gas, financial incentives and even just the basics, like clean water, which a

lot of people around the world take for granted. But they certainly do not take it for granted In many parts of India.


The fact that prime minister Modi has helped facilitate that -- and he's talking about providing people with other, more enhanced social services,

better access to health care -- this is the kind of language that people hear.

It resonates with them. And even though some Modi detractors say the benefits are not being seen on the ground, certainly the environment is

still pretty polluted in a lot of places, the infrastructure clogged in a lot of cities, the roads are pretty chaotic.

And people say that Modi may not be delivering but he seems to be delivering in the ways that matter to the majority of the voters who

support, certainly for those who support him here in India, Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Thank you, Will.

Will is in New Delhi. I'm in Abu Dhabi. That's it from me today, from the team working with me here in the UAE. It is a very good evening. Thank you

for joining us on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Erica Hill, who has been co-hosting with me this past couple of hours, will be right back after this break with more of our special coverage of Trump's

historic criminal trial, underway right now.