Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Hamas Weighing Ceasefire & Hostage Release Proposal; Muslim and Hindu Tensions Rise Amid Historic Election; Trump Back in Court for Hush Money Criminal Trial; Judge Finds Trump in Contempt for Violating Gag Order; Judge Merchan Finds Donald Trump in Contempt, Warns him of "Incarceratory Punishment" if he Keeps Violating Gag Order. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 30, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, hello, and welcome to our special coverage of Donald Trump's criminal trial. I'm Becky Anderson

in Abu Dhabi, and I'll have your top international stories this hour, including the very latest on the crucial talks on a new deal between Israel

and Hamas on a ceasefire and hostages, first up, though Erica Hill is outside the courthouse in Manhattan.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Thank you, Becky and a warm welcome to all our viewers joining us both here in the United States and around the world

court, of course, scheduled to resume in the building up behind me in Donald Trump's hush money trial in just about 30 minutes. The prosecution's

third witness will return to the stand this morning.

House Speaker Gary Farrow, he's expected to outline how Michael Cohen used a home equity line of credit on his own property to pay adult film star

Stormy Daniels that $130,000 to cover up an alleged affair with Donald Trump ahead of the 2016 election. And of course, this is all related to

those 34 felony counts of falsifying business records of the former president is charged with.

He has denied all those charges. Both Daniels and Michael Cohen are expected to testify later on in this trial, when will the prosecution is

keeping their witness list and that planning very close to the -- but we will have much more from here in downtown Manhattan a little bit later in

the hour, Becky.

ANDERSON: Thank you very much indeed. We've got the other days. Big stories, including that tense standoff at Columbia University in New York.

Right now, dozens of protesters have breached a major academic building at Columbia and barricaded themselves inside. At least 200 students have

blocked the doors to Hamilton Hall from the outside as well.

The images we are obtaining are remarkable. Watch us this protester uses a hammer to break a window at that same building and this sign now hanging

from Hamilton Hall reads Intifada, the Arabic word for an uprising was protests continue at Columbia. Pro-Palestinian protesters at the University

of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are being detained after that school.

Its official sent them a demand to vacate that encampment video there shows police moving in with some protesters being bound with zip ties. Well back

at Columbia. Here's one Jewish student to supports the protests had to say.


JARED, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I have felt entirely safe, welcomed and supported within the movement, within the encampment when I've stopped by

as have my fellow Jewish students who have chosen to celebrate recent holidays within the encampment use their voice to stand in solidarity with


And our talk of anti-Semitism, I think is a tactic meant to keep people afraid, and try to ignore what we're saying. And what we're saying is that

there's a genocide going on in Gaza being funded by our government that our university is profiting off of. And I think that if they can use some

tactic to portray us all as some sort of hateful mob, then they can go on with ignoring our message.

And so that's why I think it's important for me and all of my fellow Jewish students to come forward and say that we've been part of this from the

beginning. And there's no room for hate. There's no room for discrimination anywhere within this movement. I'm very proud of some of my fellow Jewish

students who have put everything on the line for Gaza to make sure that Gaza may live that we can divest.


ANDERSON: Well, we will have more from Colombia in a moment. First, let's get you to the University of Texas in Austin, where Ed Lavandera is

following the protests there. You just heard there from one Jewish student at Columbia, really setting out why he is there, why he is protesting and

what he expects to happen next. What are you hearing there?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that theme of calling on universities to divest is a common theme that we're also

continuing having to have heard here at the University of Texas over the course of the last week.


So that theme is continuing but the scene here in Austin yesterday took a rather intense and dramatic turn as well as an event that had started off

as what was supposed it was billed as an educational opportunity for poetry reading about Palestinian issues, as well as creating artwork for signs.

And that sort of thing quickly developed into a scene where you had a group of protesters trying to set up an encampment on the south wall of the

university here. And that is the one thing that university officials have been saying that they would make sure that they would not allow any kind of

tents campsite to take place, and to set up on the University of Texas.

So the moment those protesters started talking about occupying the space, that's where once again, we saw state troopers, Austin police and

university police come in and circled in camp and then over the course of several hours, forcibly removed those protesters. And we saw dozens of

people taken away, arrested here at the same university official saying that they would be facing charges of disorderly conduct.

But what we don't know right now, Becky, is just how many people officially were arrested yesterday during the protests here and exactly what criminal

charges they might face. Last week, prosecutors here in Austin dismissed all of the charges that were brought against the protesters, it's not clear

that, that's going to happen again, because the public official that is in charge of prosecuting these cases, is saying that she is concerned about

the escalation of these protests.

And that she's speaking with university officials on how to best handle these cases moving forward, so a very different tone from prosecutors here

in Austin. Many of those that were arrested here yesterday remain in jail as far as we can, as far as we can tell. But once again, there is a group

of supporters of the Palestinian cause. We're once again planning to return here to the University later this afternoon for another protest, Becky.

ANDERSON: And how would you describe the atmosphere?

LAVANDERA: Becky, it's difficult when you're in the intensity of the moment of these protests. And the crowds can vary, but it's definitely very

intense. But it's also in many odd ways. It's a business as usual. But once you step away from where the protests are happening on campus, there are

many students who are kind of going about their business.

Yesterday was the last day of class here for the semester. People are preparing for final exams and the university wide commencement graduation

ceremonies. So you know, here at this fountain you see behind me, it's a popular place for graduates here to take their senior year pictures.

And you see all of that kind of unfolding just steps away from where these very intense protests are unfolding. So it's kind of a surreal mix of those

protests, and then just people kind of going about their daily business.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Ed, thank you. We've given you a sense of what is going on, you know, on campuses in a number of sites. And while these

protests doing Gulf a number of college campuses across the United States. Northwestern University in Illinois, said it has reached a deal with

student representatives to limit the scope of protests and to end the encampment there.

Additionally, the university says it will commit to supporting Palestinian students and staff including fully funding the cost of attendance for five

Palestinian students, the school also construct community space for Middle Eastern and North African Muslim students.

So what we're getting here is quite a different atmosphere and response depending on where it is that you are. At University in the States, or what

we are reporting on. We'll hear from a Jewish American student about why he's joining the protests at the University of Texas in Austin later this


Let me bring in Polo Sandoval now, who is in Columbia, outside Columbia University. Interesting positioning by Northwestern there, it is taking a

position -- in supporting space, funding -- and funding for an Arab students and staff. That's a very different response from university

authorities and that which you are seeing where you are. Just reminded what is going on there, and what we can expect to happen next?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, just to, really punctuate on that point that you just mentioned, this is certainly a new level of escalation

given what we witnessed on this campus last night.


You're joining me at what is the only access point at Columbia University. So anybody who wishes to gain access to university under brand new security

protocols, which mean only essential workers, only Columbia students who actually live on the campus are being allowed the system that's in place


That's been in place for the last couple of hours we haven't seen before, which is, what you have is people walking up with their Columbia ID, they

scan it at that card reader, Becky, that red light means that the system automatically recognizes that you are not in either one of those


And that rejection light pops up. Now there are supervisors here who will hear the concerns of some of the folks and there are so many walk with me

for a quick second. So you could see kind of the line that snakes out of from underneath the space towards the building that was occupied by

protesters yesterday.

And then what we have heard from people here are members of the Columbia community, some of them students, some faculty, there are some who have a

dining plan. So they wish to access the university just for their breakfast. There are others who want to actually go to the gym, but they

are met with that surprise.

And that's led to a certain level of frustration and a certain level of anger among some people because these new security protocols mean that this

will certainly mean more disruptions for Columbia, the Columbia campus as a whole. And then finally, Becky as you sort of takes all of this in here.

I think what's important is that there is still a presence of protesters on campus. And they have been one of the key driving factors is the history

the legacy of protests at the Columbia campus going back to the Vietnam War, certainly during the 80s as well, when Columbia University became the

first Ivy League to successfully divest from South African companies during the apartheid.

So that kind of legacy is what's keeping so many demonstrators still on campus. In the hours ahead, it will certainly be crucial to learn a little

bit more about the people that actually escalated this overnight. Are they even students? Of course I'm referring to the people who made their way

into that building forcefully during the overnight hours, Becky.

ANDERSON: It's good to have you sir. And viewers we will do more of this of course in this show in the next couple of hours. Well, Israel will enter

Gaza's city of Rafah, quote with or without a deal. That was Benjamin Netanyahu's vow. A short time ago he was speaking to the families of

hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

It comes as Hamas says it is studying the latest ceasefire hostage proposal with the U.S. Secretary of State calls extraordinarily generous on Israel's

part. Right now Antony Blinken is in Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah before heading to Israel later today. Well CNN'S Jeremy Diamond is

in Jerusalem for us.

Blinken was in Riyadh just yesterday where I was. And it was absolutely clear as I listened to him making that speech that he you know he genuinely

believes this is an offer, which is not only extraordinarily generous. But it's an offer that Hamas absolutely must take.

It's not clear, though, Jeremy, yet whether Hamas one will accept this deal and will perhaps talk about what it looks like. But whether even Israel is

signed up to the content, so what is still a framework effectively, correct?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Becky, Israel helped craft this latest framework that Egypt submitted to both parties. But it

has not signed off on all of its points. Some of the points it has accepted, including some that are pretty significant Israeli concessions,

such as allowing Palestinians to return to Northern Gaza, unrestricted access to Northern Gaza.

That is something that has been a major Hamas sticking point something that Israel has refused to accept up until this latest framework, but they have

indeed signed off on that in here. What they haven't yet fully signed on to are some of these questions about exactly what this kind of one year

ceasefire, what's being referred to as a restoration of a sustainable calm?

To what extent they've signed on to that or rather, are they simply open to negotiating it discussing it but either way, this is a pretty significant

shift in the Israeli position that we have seen over the course of the last month or so. And by all accounts, this is the closest that a framework has

gotten to where Hamas is position actually stands.

That doesn't mean that Hamas has gotten everything that they've been asking for in this and now the key question, Becky, of course will be whether or

not it will be enough for them to be willing to move forward and engage with quite seriously because we know that the last several offers that have

been presented.


Hamas' response has effectively been to either backtrack by going from 40 hostages to 20 hostages, or instead to simply say that it does not meet

their demands that they continue to demand a total end to the war the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.

So this response from Hamas that we are expecting as early as today, perhaps tomorrow will no doubt be a very, very critical moment because as

Israeli officials have made clear to me, the possibility of a deal is the only thing that is standing in the way right now of a major Israeli ground

defensive in Rafah.

And as you mentioned, the Israeli Prime Minister today with a bit of bluster saying that regardless of whether or not there is a deal, that

Israeli forces will enter Rafah and we'll eliminate the remaining Hamas battalions there. He's certainly the Israeli Prime Minister. We should take

his word seriously.

But we should also take them of course, with a grain of salt if there is a deal. That means that there will be a ceasefire. That means that Israeli

forces will not enter Rafah, at least for now, at least while a ceasefire stays in place. So again, the possibility of a deal here certainly still

remains critical.

The Secretary of State Antony Blinken arriving in Israel this evening, he will of course, have further consultations with Israeli officials. But at

this point, what we're all really waiting for, Becky, is the response from one man and that is Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in Gaza, who we have been

told has been reviewing this proposal over the last couple of days.

ANDERSON: Yeah, and the question really is, isn't it is, is an operation on Rafah a strategic target? Or is it a bargaining chip? That was the way the

one commentator frame that today? And I think it's really important to keep that in mind. I have to say, speaking to regional stakeholders, and there

were the GCC Foreign Ministers in Riyadh with us yesterday.

Blinken, of course, they're much talk about where he unified our plan for the day after the conflict finishes and the guns goes on Gaza being

discussed. The prospect of Saudi-U.S. sorry, Saudi Israeli normalization being discussed, Antony Blinken said that is very close sources.

I spoke to on the ground say that that is very close. But the Palestinian file absolutely remains with work to be done. The Saudis of course, have

said that a two state solution Palestinian state going forward is absolutely, integral and part of what is an irreversible path. So cautious

pessimism, I have to say is certainly the overwhelming sense I got from those that I spoke to about the possibility of a deal.

Let's see where it goes. It's good to have you Jeremy. Thank you. Still to come, anti-Muslim rhetoric is on the rise as voters in India cast their

ballots. In the country's historic election, a live report from New Delhi has just ahead.



ANDERSON: In India nearly a billion people are taking part in the world's largest ever general election. It is a massive exercise in democracy but it

is happening amid growing tensions between the country's Hindus and Muslim minority allegations of Islamophobic rhetoric go all the way to the top of

government. CNN's Will Ripley has more.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Varanasi on India's holiest river the Ganges, Hindus worship with the

purifying power of fire. But smoldering religious tensions risk igniting a dangerous conflict between India's Hindu nationalists and their Muslim

neighbors who tell us they no longer feel welcome or safe.

We came here as tensions arising over this 17 century mosque. Hindu say it sits on land stolen from them hundreds of years ago. Now they're fighting

in court to get it back.

SM YASEEN, MUSLIM LEADER: My committee is very much worried.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Longtime Muslim leader SM Yaseen says Hindus are trying to take over their mosque.

RIPLEY: How difficult is it to fight in this in court?

YASEEN: Very difficult. Nobody is listening, nobody.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Yaseen blames India's popular Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mixing politics and religion. Modi's political opponents say he's

marginalizing the nation's more than 200 million Muslims.

YASEEN: They're treating us as second class citizens.

SWAMI JITENDRANAND SARASWATI, HINDU RELIGIOUS LEADER: If they're saying they feel like they are second class citizens that this makes me happy.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Swami Jitendranand Saraswathi is a Hindu spiritual leader with views on Muslims many would consider Islamophobic.

SARASWATI: In the blood of a Muslim there's a desire to want to write all the time.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Muslim shopkeeper Shamsher Ali feels like he's being pushed out.

SHAMSHER ALI, SHOPKEEPER: Anything can happen at any point. That is the amount of hate now. They say leave the country. Where will we go? We were

born here. We will die here. This is my country.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A country where violence against Muslims is on the rise. A Delhi police officer was caught on camera last month kicking a

group of Muslim men praying by the side of the road. The video went viral. The officer suspended. Another police officer arrested for killing three

Muslims on a train praising the Prime Minister well standing over their bodies.

The worst was in 2020, violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims in the capital, New Delhi. Dozens of people died mostly Muslims. It happened

around the same time Modi was meeting then President Donald Trump. Even those who survived one of the darkest chapters in India's recent history

will never be the same.

Nasir Ali says a Hindu man shot him in the face near his home. The one place he should have been safe. He says the police did practically nothing,

a charge they deny.

NASIR ALI, DELHI RESIDENT: Everyone was feeling unsafe. We can no longer rely on the police.

RIPLEY (voice-over): A court order called their investigation casual callous and farcical four years later the case is still ongoing in a higher

court. Is there justice for Muslims like you in India today?

ALI: No, but only crime is that we are Muslims.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The national spokesperson for Prime Minister Modi's party, the BJP says people of all religions have the same rights.

RIPLEY: Is this a Hindu first government?

JALVEER SHERGILL, BJP'S NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: India by fabric, by design, by structure, by constitution is secular. India's constitution protects the

Indian democracy. No political party in country is strong enough to bulldoze the constitution, to bulldoze the will of the people.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Muslim owned buildings are literally being bulldozed in what the government calls a crackdown on illegal construction and

accused criminals, a brand of bulldozer justice all too common in India. Prime Minister Modi accused of adding fuel to the fire when he used a

derogatory term for Muslims at a recent election rally.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: Should your hard earned money be given to infiltrators?

RIPLEY (voice-over): He's running for a rare third term.

RIPLEY: What is the worst that could happen in your view over the next five years?

YASEEN: What happened? I don't know. But that will be not good for our country.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Many Muslims in Modi's India say it doesn't feel like their country anymore.



ANDERSON: And CNN's, Will Ripley, joining me now from New Delhi. How does India's Prime Minister respond to these accusations?

RIPLEY (on camera): In interviews, Becky, he has always said that Indian citizens are equal that the government is secular as written in its

constitution. And he points to his policies that he says benefit everyone in this country policy that have not only raised India's global stature,

but also grown its economy into the largest growing, fastest growing major economy in the world.

And so he points to a track record of success over the last 10 years. But then you have rhetoric like we heard that campaign rally in recent days,

where he used the term infiltrators to describe Muslims, hundreds of millions of them his own citizens here in this country. So it certainly

does raise a lot of questions, Becky.

And frankly, before arriving here a few weeks ago, I didn't know just how many people say that they're being marginalized in this country because the

overall narrative here is of a tremendous success story.

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Will. Thank you. Any minute now we are expecting testimony to resume in Donald Trump's hush money trial. Michael

Cohen's banker is set to return to the witness stand as prosecutors remain secretive about who they will call, next. And after many U.S. University

campuses have seen pro-Palestinian protests.

We will talk to a Jewish American who is trying to create dialogue between groups on his college campus, more coming.


HILL: Welcome back to this special edition of "Connect the World". I'm Erica Hill in New York. Just about 9:30 here on the East Coast here where

we are in lower Manhattan and this is the first day of the third week for Donald Trump's criminal trial. The former president stepping into the

courtroom, just a few moments ago after he paused for the cameras as he does pretty much every morning, pretty similar comments that we heard from

him, you've heard them before.


So I'll just summarize them for you, rallying against the case a bit also complaining once again saying that Joe Biden needs to speak out about the

protests happening on college campuses around this country which of course, Becky is covering this hour as well, also reiterating that he is ready to

debate President Biden at any time.

So as we look at what's happening here today, prosecutors are expected to continue questioning their third witness Michael Cohen's, Former Banker,

Gary Farrow. As for who else could be on deck this week in terms of witnesses? Well, we just don't know because the prosecution is keeping that

info very close to the vest.

They have said they are concerned about the former president unpredictable public comments, we can tell you that also in court today is Eric Trump.

There has been some reporting that none of the former president's family members had been there. Well, today, his son, Eric Trump, is in fact, in


And we can also tell you that President Trump had been complaining and claiming inaccurately last week that there was such tight security down

here by the courthouse that protesters and supporters of the former President simply couldn't get in. That was not the case I can tell you that

as someone who's been here most of the days of this trial.

What is interesting today, though, it does appear some folks have heard that because there are actually a number of supporters and some very, very

large Trump flags out here in that space, which is reserved for them every day. Of course, we're waiting on more information about this gag order as

well, another hearing set for Thursday.

Let's get you caught up in everything that's going to be happening today and in the coming week with CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider.

Good morning, my friend. So Gary Farrow, back on the stand today, where do we expect the prosecution to take that testimony?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're going to hear more about the payment to Stormy Daniels and how the records were kept, of

course, all going toward the main charges in this case of falsifying business records. We had that day off yesterday, but now we're back for the

beginning of the third week.

Interestingly, it's also coming at the same time the New York Times is reporting that Trump has actually been complaining about his Lead Attorney

Todd Blanche. Apparently part of the complaint here is that in Trump's view, Blanche just hasn't been following Trump's instructions closely


He hasn't been aggressive enough. Of course, this is a pattern we've seen from the former president, he tends to really churn through his lawyers,

he's just never satisfied. So we'll see really how Trump and Blanche interact in court today. You know, as for what we'll see, so this is the

prosecution's third witness, they'll continue the testimony from Friday.

Gary Farrow, Michael Cohen's Former Banker, he arranged that home equity line of credit for $130,000. Cohen then uses that to pay Stormy Daniels the

hush money. And of course, this is the payment that's at the center of this case and the basis for all of these charges. We last saw Farrow for brief

direct examination of Friday that will continue today.

But as you mentioned, Erica, it's unclear who comes next on the witness stand. We're expecting at some point in this trial, Hope Hicks, Stormy

Daniels, but really, prosecutors have been very secretive on the witness list the order of that list, they're saying that they just can't release

too much information because of Trump's penchant for making public comments, which of course, we see day after day.

And as you mentioned, Erica, we're also still waiting on Judge Merchan to rule on those alleged gag order violations that Trump's been accused of by

prosecutors. He has already had a hearing on 10 of these alleged violations. That was last Tuesday. So really a ruling could come at any


But there's also this hearing that's scheduled for Thursday on four more alleged violations. So it's really possible the judge could wait to rule

until he's heard arguments on all 14 of these alleged violations of the gag order. So, Erica, there could be a lot happening in court this week on the

gag order also testimony.

And we'll wait and see what comes for the prosecution's witness list that we don't know what comes after Farrow's testimony, potentially finishing up

today, Erica.

HILL: Yeah, will be watching for that. Jessica, appreciate it. Thank you. Also joining me this hour, Bernarda Villalona, she is a Criminal Defense

Attorney and Former Prosecutor here in New York. Bernarda, good to have you with us this morning, I do want to point out for the folks just joining

just a reminder; you can follow along some of the updates there on the side of your screen.

And we can tell you that court is now officially in session. We are underway. The judges they are just greeting a former president saying good

morning, Mr. Trump. So as we look at what could be potentially coming today, in this second day on the stand for Gary Farrow, where are you

expecting attorneys to take this. What do you think the prosecution will really hone in on?

BERNARDA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the prosecution now is honing in on the bulk of this case, which is the falsifying business

records. So now they have to focus on getting these business records into evidence getting these invoices general ledgers didn't checks all into

evidence for the jury to be able to see at the closing of this case.

So that testimony usually it's not exciting at all. It can be very boring, but it goes to the heart of this case.


So expect many witnesses to come in to lay the foundation in order to get the records in themself and then lead on at some point we'll hear from

Michael Cohen that's going to give a better understanding as to why it's relevant?

HILL: On cross examination now, I'm going to have you put on your defense attorney hat. So in cross examination, what are you expecting from Donald

Trump's legal team here because they are going to want to poke some holes, obviously, in this testimony from this bank managing director?

VILLALONA: In terms of cross examining Mr. Farrow, he -- I don't see the defense really poking holes into testimony because he doesn't hurt Donald

Trump. He's not going to be able to connect Donald Trump to this setting up this self-company, or the transferring of this money.

So to be honest, I think this cross examination is going to be short, because in the end, his only purpose and getting Mr. Farrow in is to say

that $130,000, a home equity loan was taken out by Michael Cohen, that money went into one account, and then it was taken out of that account and

sent to another account.

That's the simple purpose of it. But that witness can't get us into the mind of Donald Trump or into the Conspiracy itself of how they formed this


HILL: So it's just laying this as we've talked about so many times, it's the laying brick by brick for the prosecution of their cases. They're

building up for those next witnesses. We don't know the order of them yet. We know who a few of them will be. I'm curious I wanted to get your take.

There's some reporting in the New York Times this morning, from Maggie Haberman, Johnson's one about Donald Trump, who has publicly been seemingly

pretty supportive of Todd Blanche, who is his lead attorney here, a well- known attorney in New York, but behind doors reporting, as he's complaining about him.

And also on the phone, griping that he hasn't been following Trump's instructions closely enough and hasn't been sufficiently aggressive, really

wants to have plans to go after the witnesses to attack them to go after what Donald Trump sees as a hostile jury pool and even to attack the judge.

When you read that, as an attorney, just walk us through what it is like when you're dealing with perhaps a client who believes they know the law

better than you and wants to plan out their own defense.

VILLALONA: It happens all the time. But I'm not surprised with Donald Trump, especially since he is a difficult client. He's a difficult person

to deal with, hence the revolving door of different attorneys that he has had. So in terms of Donald Trump use trying to dictate what happens in a

courtroom? Of course --

HILL: -- I'm just going to -- Bernarda, can I interrupt you for just one moment, I just want to interrupt for a moment because we're just getting

this breaking news out of the courtroom. And I do want to get to a Judge Merchan has just found Donald Trump in contempt for violating his gag


Remember that hearing was exactly a week ago, it was last Tuesday. And he has been fined $1,000 for each violation. Remember, initially, the

prosecution was saying that they saw evidence of what they believed were 10 various violations. There's a separate hearing later this week for four

additional alleged violations. What do you make of this decision $1,000 for each of those violations?

VILLALONA: I'm not surprised that Judge Merchan actually issues a sanction of $1,000 per violation. I'm curious to see how many of those violations if

he actually fine were sustained. But aside from that, think about it like this, the prosecutor did an -- with jail time. So all we were expecting was

some form a sanction, the amount was to be determined.

But I'm always curious to see what the Judge Merchan say in terms of if you do this again, what will happen because I think the strong warning is what

needs to be emphasized to determine, what will be the next step. So if you violate this gag order in the future, will it be jail time?

Will it be you being held in contempt where you end up back in the jail cell for a few hours? What will it be?

HILL: -- as I mentioned, a lot more supporters, Donald Trump down here today making their presence known. So apologize for some of that noise in

the background there. So just giving you this sort of play by play as we're getting it, we don't have that exact information for you. But just that

we're told that they have $1,000 fine for each one of those violations.

To your point, what's interesting is that I think what a number of people watching this, are wondering is will that serve as a deterrent or not,

because after the hearing, as I just mentioned, after that hearing last week on those initial violations was a prosecution brought up.

They've now said there are four more instances where they believe that happened. That hearing slated was initially slated for later this week. I

guess the only way to monitor this is does he stop talking or not?

VILLALONA: Exactly. And you have to think also, Erica, that this is not the first time that Donald Trump is being held in contempt for having violated

a gag order. So if you recall just a few months ago, just down the street from where you are right now that Judge anger on actually found him in

contempt. And it shouldn't him sanctions and the fines of $5,000 the first time and then $10,000 the second time.


So this is $1,000 violation is for less than what Judge Engoron had issued, and it still didn't stop him. So I think what Judge Merchan has to do, and

that's why they started warning is really important, because it'll guide us to see whether this will stop Donald Trump? Will it be a deterrent $1,000

is not going to determine it, but will determine if it's something that has to do will affect the trial itself?

For example, Judge Merchan could say, you know what, on this next violation hearing, instead of me giving you your sanction. Now, I'm going to wait to

the conclusion of the trial. And if you're found guilty, I'm going to consider that when I'm thinking about your sentence. Maybe that was that

Donald Trump was speaking, or has his attorneys actually monitor Donald Trump.

And be like, if you want to pull something, if you want to see something, I'm holding your attorneys responsible for you to monitor what he's going

to post or say before he actually does it.

HILL: You know, what's interesting here, and I am -- as I'm listening to you, I'm also reading through the judge's order here. There was some

discussion about well, if it's a repost, or if he is posting somebody else's words, does it count because they're not Donald Trump's words?

What's made very clear in this order here from the judge is he says that I'm reading from the order addressing what's been referred to as reposts.

This court finds a repost whether with or without commentary by the defendant is in fact a statement of the defendant. So that also gives us a

-- in a look into how he would perhaps consider any future violations.

VILLALONA: Yeah, so we have to think that one of the arguments as his attorneys had during that hearing is the reposting and it wasn't clear from

the original order whether reposting can be considered a statement by Donald Trump. And just to be clear that when he did the reposting he also

changed some of the language and added some of his own.

That's why I think Judge Merchan completely dismissed that argument. But now it's clear and black and white and writing what a violation consists of

so he is on notice that even a reposting would be considered a violation of his order.

HILL: And just to clarify to as we're continuing to go through this, so initially, the prosecution said they believe he violated it nine times the

judge found that he did in fact, violate the gag order in 9 of those 10 instances. So then that's fine would be $9,000. Bernarda, stay with us.

I think we also have my colleague, CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider, who's back with us, Jess, can you hear me? We may not have Jess

back with us yet which is just fine. We're going to bring Jessica in in just a minute. So order then to pay to pay these fines.

And I should also point out Bernarda, he's also been ordered to remove some of these -- remove these posts of seven of them were on his truth social

account. Two were on the campaign website. They need to be removed today by 2:15 pm. Sort of standard there?

VILLALONA: It's actually what the prosecutor requested, a prosecutor did request in addition to the sanction of $1,000 per violation also requested

that the post be removed. So you got to think the whole purpose of this, the whole purpose of the gag order of this order itself is to try to

preserve the integrity of this talk.

You don't want to taint the jurors, you don't want the jurors to have some outside influence, or get the chance that some of this information that's

going on, on the outside is being sent to them. So that's the whole purpose of this gag order is to protect the integrity of this trial.

HILL: And I should point out here to a conclusion in the order notes that the defendant is hereby warned, the court will not tolerate continued

willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances. And here's the big warning, it will

impose an incarceratetory punishment.

Bernarda, I appreciate you walking us through all of this. Everybody stay with us. We're going to take a short break here on the other side, our

coverage or special coverage continues here from Lower Manhattan outside the criminal court were Donald Trump is of course, inside for this hush

money trial. Stay with us.



HILL: Welcome back from New York. If you're just joining us the breaking news and just the last few minutes the judge in Donald Trump's hush money

trial has found the former president in contempt for violating a gag order. Jessica Schneider, CNN Justice Correspondent is joining me now with more.

So he has an imposing and a fine and he also has a little bit of a warning for the former president actually not a little warning what could be a

really meaningful warning, Jessica?

SCHNEIDER: Yeah, you know, I'm just going through it right now Erica. And it looks like you know, the judge -- just he announced it in court. And

then he issued his written order. And he has in fact fined Trump $1,000 for nine of the violations. And he said not only that, but Trump must take down

the social media posts that violated this gag order by 2:15 this afternoon.

So there is some immediate work that Trump needs to do in taking down those posts and he also needs to pay $1,000 for those nine violations. So that's

$9,000. And then this is what it said it said at the end of this order, it said defendant Donald Trump is hereby warned that the court will not

tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders, and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an

incarceratetory punishment.

The judge saying Trump if you continue to violate this gag order, as I have found you've done nine times already you could go to jail. And that is

definitely a stern warning from the judge. That is a warning Erica that prosecutors wanted this judge to issue.

They wanted the judge to be sterner in telling Donald Trump, look, this is serious. You cannot post things that potentially threaten or harm any

potential witnesses in this case, the family members of staff members of the court stepped -- the family members of the attorneys or the judge.

So this is a serious warning from the judge and it's something that prosecutors were looking for. So now Donald Trump not only has to pay

$9,000, but he's been warned if he continues to violate this gag order he could go to jail Erica.

HILL: Also interesting to note that some of the defense for some of those posts had been well, you know if it's a repost it doesn't really count.

These are not Donald Trump's words. The judge made very clear he does see that as in fact, an extension of the defendant himself of Donald Trump.

SCHNEIDER: Yeah, exactly. I mean you know just the mere fact of reposting something, the judge says you're not going to get off scot free just

because you claim it's a repost. It's still you taking an affirmative action to violate this gag order. So prosecutors last week had argued that

Trump had violated the gag order 10 times.

The judge in this written ruling that was just issues is saying yes, Trump violated it nine times and listed the times where he violated it. And also

-- you know we were waiting for that hearing on Thursday, where prosecutors said last week, that Trump apparently in their words violated the gag order

four more times.

The judge will be holding a hearing to hear arguments on that Thursday afternoon. So it is quite possible that Trump could be slapped with even

more fines here. And again, we're going to be waiting and watching to see if Trump says anything out of line.

If he posts anything, if he reposts anything because this is a stern warning from the judge that just because he's a Former President of the

United States does not does not mean he won't potentially go to jail if he continues with this conduct. So it is definitely probably the sternness

warning we've seen from Judge Merchan.


And it is a real -- a real warning to the former president that -- you know if he doesn't clean up his act, he could have a jail.

HILL: Yeah. And it is quite the warning. Jess I appreciate it. Stay with us. We hope you'll all stay with us as well. We're going to take a quick

break here as we reset when we return we'll fill you in on what's happening inside that courtroom. The third witness from the prosecution is back on

the stand now testifying about signatures of Michael Cohen what does that mean? Stick around.


HILL: The judge in Donald Trump's hush money trial just announcing his ruling for that gag order finding that the former president violated it

nine times imposing a fine of $1,000 each for each of those violations or $9,000 in total.

Joining me my colleague CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider as well as Attorney Bernardo Villalona, Criminal Defense Attorney and Former New

York Prosecutor good to have you both with me so let's -- as we look at this, there are those nine violations, nine of the 10 are fines but is this

warning at the end here where the judge Bernardo warns of look, if you don't get your act together.

Obviously, I'm paraphrasing here. Next time, you could go to jail. What would that look like in this instance, given the court that we're dealing

with given the gag order itself, when we when he warns of incarceration? How long would that be for?

VILLALONA: So the max that he can sentence Donald Trump or sanction Donald Trump on a criminal contempt is 30 days per violation. Now, let's just be

clear, it's not going to happen next week when he has an additional hearing on those four other violations.

Because I think it's anything starting from today onward any new violations, so it's not going to be retroactive. But in terms of what it

looks like, it can be anywhere from a few hours to the court day to a few days at Rikers Island jail, or up to a maximum of 30 days. We'll also keep

in mind that Judge Merchan wants to keep this trial going.

So by incarcerating Donald Trump, it will slow down to trial. And also it will take a lot of attention. Let's be real, a lot of attention away from

the trial itself. And everything that people are going to be focusing on is that Donald Trump is in custody, and that will leak to the jury because the

jury is not supposed to know whether a defendant is in custody or not.

HILL: Which is such an important point? As you point out, there are additional violations for which the prosecution has said they believe

violated this gag order, just because some of those happened in an interview a TV interview, where the former president was specifically

referencing Michael Cohen, as we know who's one of the witnesses here. When it comes to those violations it's Thursday I believe that the hearing is

for those. These are a little bit different, though, because we are talking about comments made on camera.

VILLALONA: Yes. And it was an interview that he gave to a Philadelphia TV station. And it was just last week the prosecutor said judge we have a

problem again, we've already alleged 10 violations. The judge finding nine of them that Donald Trump owes a fine for today.

They said to the judge last week judge we have four more violations and you're right Erica, those were -- those might be a little harder for Donald

Trump's team to kind of weasel out of because in this case they said well a few of these were repost.


But you know the arguments on Thursday, related to these four alleged violations, as you mentioned, part of them were from an interview that

Donald Trump gave. So it's going to be a lot harder for his defense team to really excuse the comments since they came directly from his mouth.

And I will go back to the point of you know is the threat of incarceration real? You know, I will note that prosecutors had really pushed the judge to

warn Donald Trump of the threat of incarceration if he continued with this behavior.

So I think it's potentially unlikely that we would see incarceration, but this was something the judge needed to warns to say, it's possible. These

aren't just fines. You know, if you violate a gag order, it's also possible you go to jail, so probably not likely, but possible and something that he

needs to further warn Donald Trump about.

HILL: So we'll see what kind of an impact that has. Thank you both. Real quickly before we take our last break of the hour I do want to note that

we're just learning from inside the courtroom. The testimony was that within just 23 minutes of opening this account, this is the banker

testifying the former banker Michael Cohen made the transfer for that money really important stuff.

We're going to get back to that on the other side of this break. Thanks for joining us for this first hour of "Connect the World" stay with us more to