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Blinken: U.S. Weapons will Make "Real Difference"; U.S. Warning for Months Against Rafah Ground Offensive; Jury Selection Resumes in Menendez Corruption Case; Trump in Court for Day 2 of Michael Cohen Testimony; Controlled Demolition to Free Ship from Wreckage; Michael Cohen Testifying for Second Day at Trump Trial. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired May 14, 2024 - 09:00   ET




ERICA HILL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 9 am here in New York City, we can show you the courthouse for Donald Trump's there you go. Donald Trump's

criminal trial, hush money trial set to begin again. Just about 30 minutes from now. Donald Trump's Former Fixer and Lawyer Michael Cohen will be back

on the stand testifying for a second day. I'm Erica Hill thanks for joining me here on "Connect the World" in for Becky Anderson today.

Also happening this hour America's top diplomat in Kyiv promising Ukraine that more U.S. weapons are on the way U.S. intelligence sources meantime,

tell CNN Israel is amassing troops just outside the City of Rafah as fighting continues in Central Gaza. And we're also watching for new

reaction inside Georgia after lawmakers their approved highly controversial foreign influence bill.

New York markets of course open in just about 30 minutes to take a quick look at futures you can see bit mixed at the moment, traders watching for

some big inflation data this week. We'll be bringing that to you as well. But we want to begin this hour in Ukraine, where a new Russian show of

force around Kharkiv as Ukraine is also getting a new show of support from a top ally.

Despite Moscow's advances in the northeast, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expecting -- expressing rather optimism during an unannounced

visit to Kyiv today. Take a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We know this is a challenging time. But we also know that in the near term assistance is now on the way

some of its already arrived. More of that will be arriving. And that's going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on

the battlefield.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: The decision on the package was crucial. For us, it's very important to get it as quick as possible. And

the second one point is air defense, the biggest deficit for us. I think that the biggest problem he has and we need, really we need today two

patriots for Kharkiv, for Kharkiv region, because that people are under attack civilians and warriors, everybody, they're under Russian missiles.


HILL: We have heard that, of course, so many times from President Zelenskyy, the need for more air power. Meantime, both men you heard the

referring to the package to the aid, that of course, the reference to the $61 billion U.S. aid package for Ukraine, which finally passed, after

months of being stalled in the U.S. Congress.

We should hear a bit more from Antony Blinken just about two hours or so. So keep an eye out for that. I want to bring though CNN's Frederik Pleitgen

in now joining us from Berlin. So Blinken saying some of those weapons are on the way. There is significant concern about Ukraine losing ground, what

is the latest today when it comes to the battlefield?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think that concern is very real. And I think that's something that's certainly

playing out Erica, on the ground, especially in the Northeast of Ukraine, one of the things that we've of course, seen really over the past couple of

weeks is that the Russians have been gaining ground in the east of the country, not very much very difficult for them.

And they have pretty significant losses as well. But now they started that pretty big, somewhat surprising offensive, even though they had been

building up troops in that area in the northeast of the country towards Ukraine, second largest city called Kharkiv.

The Ukrainians are saying that the fighting there is massive and that the Russians have had some as the Ukrainians put tactical successes, the

Russians for their part, of course, some are saying that they've had big successes that they're moving on to some larger towns now to some

substantial defense positions.

The Ukrainian say right now, the situation for them is difficult, but still pretty much under control, even though they do acknowledge that they have a

shortage of manpower. I think one of the interesting things that we just heard there from Volodymyr Zelenskyy was the need for more long range air

defense systems as he put it two patriots for Kharkiv.

Meaning of course, the U.S. made patriot surface to air missile system, which is a long distance missile system. And that's because the -- the

Ukrainians, America right now really getting pounded by Russia's Air Force. The Russians have been able to use their air force recently, much more

effectively than before they have new.

What they call aerial glide bombs that glide further and are more accurate, making it very difficult for the Ukrainians and that's where they say air

defense is a big issue for them and they need it fast.

HILL: In addition to those air defenses, specifically the patriot air defenses that you mentioned, what else is Ukraine need?

PLEITGEN: Everything and this is something that the Ukrainians have been saying as well but I think first and foremost in this situation right now

because it has taken so long for this U.S. aid to come back onto the battlefield is ammunition of all sorts, especially 155 millimeter artillery

ammunition, they expend a lot of that.


But the Russians, certainly right now able to fire a lot more. The Ukrainians are saying some of that has arrived. But it takes, of course a

while to really reach and saturate the battlefield, if you will. Also artillery rocket systems in the missiles for them also key for the

Ukrainian so they can strike from a little bit further away.

All of those things just giving the Ukrainians more firepower at hand as they face this onslaught are definitely very important. The other thing

that the Ukrainians though Erica, are slowly starting to acknowledge is they do have a severe manpower shortage as well. They have of course has

some challenges, trying to get mobilization going trying to get people trained up and get them to the front line.

That's definitely something that appears to be showing now in this Kharkiv offensive by the Russians where the Ukrainians have had to move some units

that were actually fighting somewhere else towards this northeastern areas that making a bit difficult, but really from the U.S., they need everything

they say that they can get but first and foremost right now, ammunition of all kinds.

HILL: Yeah, Fred, really appreciate it. Thank you. We're also keeping a close watch on the protests in Georgia. Georgia, of course, just past that

controversial Russian style foreign agent spill we've been telling you about. Scuffles actually broke out among lawmakers a short time ago during

the final reading. The bill has sparked widespread protests across the country for the past several weeks.

Critics warning this move could jeopardize Georgia's bid to join the European Union CNN's Clare Sebastian joining me now so you've been

following some of these protests now in the wake of this most recent move. What are we seeing on the streets, Clare?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think you know it's clear from today that this has exposed the deep divisions in Georgian society over

this law. We saw scuffles inside parliament, as you showed, and now it looks peaceful from that image that we viewed. But we have seen that

protesters have gone up close to those metal barriers, close to Parliament and started hitting them.

And in one area, it looks like they might have smashed through that barrier. So you can see that tensions are running pretty high the bill

itself, this bill that has been dubbed the Russia law, the foreign agent's law that would curtail the work of non-governmental organizations with more

than 20 percent funding from overseas that has been highly controversial.

For weeks now, it has now passed a key hurdle in Parliament, the third and final reading. It is not law yet the President of Georgia who is pro-

European says that she will veto that bill. She has 10 days to do that. Then parliament has another two weeks on top of that to override that veto,

which they say they will do.

The protesters that you see out there are still holding strong hoping that their actions will force some kind of backing down from the government.

They have done that before last year when they first introduced the law. So there is recent precedent, of course of protests working you can see the

police there and masks sort of moving in and looks like they may try to clear those protesters.

We've seen a heavy police presence outside parliament today. And over the last few days as these protests have ramped up, but as I said, these

protesters, have told us many of them. They're not backing down, Erica.

HILL: And Clare, just remind us what specifically is in this bill, what would it change? What would it mean?

SEBASTIAN: So in terms of the foreign agent bills, it's being called it's actually called on transparency foreign influence. This is a law that

really would subject NGOs anyone with more than 20 percent of funding from overseas to sort of onerous restrictions, they'd have to register.

And if they don't, they could be subject to various penalties, including fines. Now, if it is passed, it is seen here as a sort of slippery slope

towards autocracy. Russia has a similar bill. It's called its own foreign agents bill that was passed in 2012. And they've gradually updated it over

the years and it now really forms the backbone of Russia's crackdown on civil society and freedom of speech.

So that is the big concern. I just spoke someone from Transparency International in Georgia who said that if they do find their activities

curtailed, they've said that they won't register. If this law is passed, or they will face penalties, then they'll struggle to monitor elections. So

you can see the sort of widespread ripple effect over law like this in terms of the various freedoms and democratic freedoms within society.

Now, unlike Russia, of course, Georgia has recent memory of protests working when the law was first introduced last year. It was withdrawn and a

very vibrant and active still civil society. They have said that they will continue until they get what they want.

HILL: I really appreciate the update. Thank you. Well, U.S. officials say Israel now has enough troops on the edge of Gaza border City of Rafah to

launch a full scale incursion. This is Qatar's Prime Minister says that Israel's actions in Rafah have now set back hostage ceasefire negotiations

to almost a stalemate.


For its part Israel says its troops are continuing operations in the north, the south and Central Gaza where hospital officials say at least 36

Palestinians were killed in two Israeli airstrikes overnight. Some of the video which is as you can see now disturbing shows you the aftermath after

an Israeli strike on a residential buildings families were sleeping.

The bodies of several children have been pulled from that rubble. CNN's Jeremy Diamond is following the developments from Jerusalem. Kylie Atwood

is at the State Department in Washington. Jeremy, let's start with you a U.S. official warning that Israel hasn't come close in its estimation and

that officials estimation to making adequate preparations for needs of evacuate shelter, food, sanitation. Are there any changes in policy or even

preparation today?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not necessarily. I mean, what we are witnessing is the mass displacement of people from Rafah an area that was

previously the last safe refuge for so many Palestinians. And now about nearly half a million of the 1.5 million Palestinians who were living in

Rafah have now fled to areas further north.

And what they are finding there are areas that simply aren't adequate for the enormous number of people for the hundreds of thousands of people who

over just the course of the last week and a half have been flooding into this Al-Mawasi expanded humanitarian zone which now also encompasses a

parts of Central Gaza as well as Western Khan Yunis.

If you think just about Western Khan Yunis, for example, that was the site of two months of very intense fighting, two months of bombardment by the

Israeli Air Force. And people are trying to live now, trying to make makeshift shelters, pitch tents in the rubble. And these areas do not have

running water.

They don't have electricity in many cases, they don't have adequate sewage infrastructure either. And humanitarian aid groups say that these areas are

also difficult for them to reach in terms of being able to deliver the amount of humanitarian aid that is needed, that was much easier to be

delivered to Rafah.

For example, the Israeli military for now, we don't know when they intend to carry out or if they intend to carry out this large scale offensive into

Rafah that President Biden and other U.S. officials have warned against. What is clear, though, is that they seem just as determined as ever to

carry out that operation.

They insist that going into Rafah is essential to achieving their objectives of destroying Hamas. They say that there are still four Hamas

battalions ensconced in population centers in Rafah. The Israeli Prime Minister has described it as Hamas' last bastion. But the concern that we

have been hearing from U.S. officials centers on the very fact not only about questions about the achievability of that aim of destroying Hamas.

But also, of course, about the inadequate situation further north, where those hundreds of thousands of people are now fleeing.

HILL: Yeah. And Kylie, to that point, we have heard so much and we have heard publicly, more not just from President Biden, of course, in speaking

with our own Erin Burnett last week, but also from other U.S. lawmakers, concerns about what they are seeing on the ground and that red line that

President Biden put out there.

What is the response this morning from the Biden administration, as we see specifically even all of those troops, of course, outside the city limits


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, U.S. officials are still just as concerned and just as public in their warnings that

Israel should not go forward with this full scale invasion of Rafah into its city centers. At the same time, they're watching incredibly closely

what's happening on the ground.

U.S. officials tell, myself and my colleague MJ Lee, that there are enough troops that have now been amassed along the border of Rafah by the IDF.

That could mean that Israel could go ahead with that full scale invasion into Rafah according to the U.S. estimates of the possibility here within

the coming days.

Now, they don't assess whether or not Israel has made the final decision to go ahead and do that. Of course, we have heard what Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu has repeatedly said that operation would be necessary to take out Hamas fully, but U.S. officials don't have a determination as to if Israel

has fully decided to go ahead with that operation.

And I think the other challenging reality between the U.S. and Israel right now, the Deputy Secretary of State the number two here at the State

Department told me yesterday that the U.S. and Israel have been essentially wrestling over the theory of victory here because the U.S. doesn't believe

in his words that a sweeping victory is possible.

They don't believe that going into Rafah is going to present that sweeping victory against Hamas that Israel has been saying that it would that they

hope that it would.


And so therein lies quite a bit of tension between how the U.S. feels about what Israel should do next and what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has

been repeatedly saying about what he believes Israel needs to do next.

HILL: Kylie, Jeremy, appreciate the reporting from both of you. Thank you. Well, some of that renewed fighting that we've seen in parts of Gaza is

happening in areas the IDF had said, had previously been cleared of Hamas. So what does that tell us about Israel's military strategy? That analysis

and more you can find it in our "Middle East Newsletter" and also on our website.

We are standing by now for day two of the prosecution's star witness here in New York City, the man who once said he would take a bullet for Donald

Trump, quote, resume to the former president's hush money trial just about 15 minutes from now. We have live pictures for you. This is of course it's

outside the Manhattan courthouse, the former president arriving just about 20 minutes ago.

During Michael Cohen's nearly five hours of testimony on Monday, Trump's former lawyer and fixer detailed how he set up those that $130,000 payment

to former adult film star Stormy Daniels. Here's CNN's Paula Reid.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The prosecution's most anticipated witness Michael Cohen, taking the stand and

Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We pay the lawyer a legal expense. However, legal expense is legal expense.

It's marked down in the book quote, legal expense.

REID (voice-over): Facing his Former Boss Cohen spoke about his 10 years working as Trump's attorney and fixer, while Trump sat back in his chair

closing his eyes, not reacting to Cohen's testimony. Cohen said he enjoyed working for Trump and whenever he received direct praise or completing a

task, he felt like he was on top of the world.

Cohen told the court that when Trump was mulling a run for the presidency in 2015, Trump warned Cohen you know that when this comes out, meaning the

announcement, just be prepared. There's going to be a lot of women coming forward. Cohen claimed that just weeks before the 2016 election.

The editor of the National Enquirer told Cohen, Stormy Daniels wanted to sell her story about having an affair with Trump, which Cohen said would

have been catastrophic and horrible for Trump's campaign. Cohen said Trump got angry with him when they spoke about the Stormy Daniels story.

I told him that one of the things that we need to do is obviously take care of it. Trump allegedly responded, absolutely. Do it. Take care of it. Cohen

testified that it was his idea to include a punitive damages cause in the Daniels deal to ensure that she didn't speak. Cohen said Trump told him to

drag the Daniels' payment out as long as possible, in fact, preferably until after the election.

Because if I win, it will have no relevance because I'm President, and if I lose, I don't even care. And he added this damning allegation. He wasn't

thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign. Cohen walked the court through the process of creating several LLCs in order to transfer

payment to Daniels.

Cohen had to front the money himself and use a home equity line of credit because it was paperless. So he could hide it from his wife. I was doing

everything I could and more to protect my boss, which is something that I had done for a long time. Cohen testified that on October 28, he

immediately called Trump after Daniel signed the agreement telling him that this matter is now completely under control and locked down.

Cohen said in early 2017, he tried to get repaid for the money he fronted to Daniels, a needed Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg input for

questions about taxes. Cohen said he would be reimbursed over the course of the next 12 months, disguising the payment as like a legal service rendered

since I was then going to be given the title of personal attorney to the President.

TRUMP: There's no fraud here. There's no crime here.

REID (on camera): Cohen will be back on the stand Tuesday and likely for the rest of the week. Now his eventual cross examination which is expected

to be conducted by Trump's Lead Attorney Todd Blanche, sources telling me it is expected to last as long if not longer than direct questioning from

prosecutors. Paula Reid, CNN, New York.


HILL: Well, in terms of that cross examination, Donald Trump's defense team could actually begin today. Can they convince the jury that the prosecution

star witness can't be trusted? We'll continue to cover this live from the courthouse.

Plus, we're closely following another criminal trial in New York is not just former president. We're also watching the trial of a sitting U.S.

Senator charged with corruption while acting as an agent for a foreign government.



HILL: Not far from Donald Trump's hush money trial in New York. Another U.S. politician is facing his own criminal charges in federal court in New

York jury selection, in the corruption trial, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and two co-defendants now in day two. Menendez is accused of

taking bribes while acting as an agent for a foreign government.

He has rejected multiple loud calls to resign from the Senate, including from those in his own party. His wife has also been charged but she will be

tried separately. Jason Carroll is live outside that courthouse in Manhattan. So Jason, this was expected to be a fairly quick jury selection

process. There was even some thinking that we could hear opening statements today but still working on that jury.

JASON CARROLL, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Erica, there was some thoughts that we might have a jury seated yesterday, but

that didn't end up happening. What ended up happening is that 30 out of 150 potential jurors ended up being dismissed by Judge Sidney Stein. So we are

back at it again today. So perhaps a jury will be seated today.

If not today, then perhaps tomorrow, but in terms of what is going on in terms of jury selection, we can tell you that the judge is asking a number

of questions, including whether or not being seated for a trial that could last several weeks, would that end up being a hardship? So that's one of

the questions that potential jurors are being asked.

And eventually, jurors could also end up being asked questions such as do you think someone who was from the state of New Jersey is more likely to

commit a crime? Of course Senator Menendez is from the Garden State of New Jersey. He is facing 16 counts, including bribery, extortion, acting as a

foreign agent.

Prosecutors say that the senator and his wife accepted bribes. Bribes totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, also accepting bribes in the

form of gold bars and home furnishings, all in exchange for the senator's influence and what influence with the government of Egypt to influence with

the government of Qatar.

Of course, the defense saying and Senator Menendez saying for his part that all of this is not true that the government, Erica is overstretching here

and that the money found at his house. Well, those were loans, he says. He also says in part that was money that he had saved over a period of time.

One of the questions though, that seems to be looming over this trial, and I know you know, this too, is whether or not part of the defense will end

up being something having to do with one meeting Senator Menendez turning on his wife, or whether she eventually will turn on him in some way, shape

or form.

She is being tried separately in July. But first things first, you have to get a jury seated and so that is very much underway today, Erica.

HILL: Fascinating to Jason that one of the questions they were asking potential jurors is whether they thought someone was more likely to commit

a crime if they were from the State of New Jersey. I'm sure that sits well with a lot of folks from the Garden State. Jason, appreciate it. Thank you.

Want to get you up to speed on some of the other stories on our radar right now. The search for survivors has now ended in Mumbai, India just a day

after this billboard came crashing down happened during a storm.


Police say 14 people were killed more than 70 injured many of them critically. The owner of the advertising agency that put that billboard up

reportedly cannot be located. The death toll meantime has risen to 32 after multi-storey building collapsed over a week ago in Georgia, South Africa.

An estimated 81 people were at that site when the building collapsed. 20 remain unaccounted for rescue operations there, though still ongoing.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is heading to China this week for a summit with President Xi Jinping. The trip will be Putin's second visit to China

in less than a year and his first since being reelected.

Without any real opposition that today's summit begins on Thursday. Stay with us. We'll be right back. You're watching CNN.


HILL: We have been following the Breaking News out of Georgia and those protests you've been seeing the picture in the bottom of your screen. I'm

going to bring you more now on that riot police were out there as we showed you with just at the top of the hour. You can see what's happening here.

Some of the protesters actually made their way through some of those police through some of those barricades there. This of course is all in reaction

to what's known as the foreign agents bill that bill passed with 84 members of parliament out of 150 voting in favor, now it's not law yet.

There's still a couple more weeks of process here. But the concern is mounting after it passed this hurdle as well. Critics warning this Russian

style legislation could jeopardize the country's bid to join the European Union in addition to raising significant concerns about its impact on

democracy in Georgia.

Here's CNN's Clare Sebastian with a closer look we're going to continue to follow these pictures. But a closer look at that growing unrest.


SEBASTIAN (voice-over): No to the Russian law they chant as they have now for weeks. Young Georgians fighting for a European future they say is under


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our duty is to protect our country from Russia and move towards Europe where there is peace.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we're just going to keep going till there's a better outcome.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Last year protests worked, scenes like this forcing the government to scrap the same so called foreign agent bill, seen here as

a replica of a repressive Russian law and a sign of Moscow's growing influence in this small post-Soviet state.

Then in March barely three months after gaining EU candidate status, the Georgian government revived the law. In a rare appearance in late April,

the ruling party's honorary leader and most powerful driving force lashing out the West.

BIDZINA IVANISHVILI, HONOARY CHAIRMAN OF GEORGIAN DREAM RULING PARTY: Despite the promises of the 2008 Bucharest summit, Georgia and Ukraine have

not been accepted into NATO and have been left out to dry. All those decisions are made by the global party of war.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): As protesters grew more determined the police response escalated violence widely condemned by the European Union. In this

shocking attack on May 1, Opposition Leader Levan Khabeishvili really says he was deliberately targeted, his bruises still visible.


filming to upload the video afterwards and to show the opposition leader in a state that will discredit me.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): And violence not the only means of intimidation. Transparency International says these posters of its local executive

director appeared a few days ago outside its offices and those of other NGOs. The text reads traitor and grant guzzler.

EKA GIGAURI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL: You are under the attack all the time. So the governmental officials and even the

prime minister would organize the press conference where they would single you out.

SEBASTIAN: Transparency International as an NGO, I assume you will be subjected to this law. What would you have to do and would you do it?

GIGAURI: Yes, we are not going to register. We understand that then government will introduce penalties for us they might freeze our assets and

accounts. It will be very difficult for us to monitor the elections.

SEBASTIAN (voice-over): Recent polls show around 80 percent of Georgians favored joining the EU, something Brussels has warned would be negatively

affected by this law. George's opposition now wants Western condemnation to turn to action.

KHABEISHVILI: The United States can introduce sanctions. The time has finally come now. This should be done before we get into the swamp that we

cannot get out of.


HILL: -- that all that Clare is with us now. Clare, as you've been I know you've been monitoring throughout the morning, afternoon, actually, I

should say in early evening in Tbilisi monitoring, what we're seeing in terms of these protests, the fact that there was all of this movement is

significant at this hour.

SEBASTIAN (on camera): Yeah, what we saw Erica over the course of the day is purchases standing quietly and calmly throughout the almost four hours

that Parliament debated and then voted on the third reading of the so called foreign agent law, but after it had passed, and this is the third

and final reading.

We did see some movement there was always a huge presence of police outside parliament. And there were these temporary barriers, sort of metal barriers

around the parliament building. And we saw protesters start to hit those barriers. And in one place they actually smashed through and at that point,

we saw the police start to move and it looks like there's an effort to try to push the protesters back away from the parliament building.

Now this is really part of a pattern that, you know, as the peace showed, we've seen over the past several weeks, the EU, in fact coming out on

Monday and condemning what they said with violent acts of intimidation, including threats, physical assaults against protesters, and not just

protesters, but civil society, activist politicians, and even journalists.

So this is not the first time over the past few weeks that the EU has had to come out and condemn what they see as a disproportionate crackdown by

the authorities on these protesters. Obviously, given what's at stake here. The EU is watching this very, very closely.

Because Georgia is as of last December any EU candidate, country and has to fulfill certain obligations in order to move to the next stage of that the

EU has said that this foreign agent law would negatively impact that process. So this is something they are watching very closely.

Now the protesters have said multiple times that they will not back down, they are of course hoping that over the next few weeks of these procedural

elements, the veto by the president which we expect and then Parliament moving to override that that Parliament will be forced into some kind of

climb down at this point, we don't see any evidence of that, Erica.

HILL: All right. We know you continue to follow it for us at Clare, appreciate it. Thank you. We are of course also closely following

developments here in New York where the prosecution's star witness Michael Cohen is set to return to the stand at any moment now in Donald Trump's

criminal hush money trial.


Everyone is in the courtroom. The judge in fact just saying good morning Mr. Trump as we wait for day two of testimony quite the moments there on

Monday. Michael Cohen, who was very measured and controlled on the stand, also looked to link and this is, of course, what the prosecution wanted him

to do if they're to prove their case, to link that scheme to cover up the hush money payment to Donald Trump directly.

The former president has denied the allegations, and has actually called this case a form of election interference, but has offered zero evidence

for that. Michael Cohen for his part is likely to face a bruising round of questioning from Donald Trump's legal team once cross examination begins.

That could happen as early as today. We have a lot of people there in the courtroom as well, with Donald Trump. CNN's Brynn Gingras joining us live

with some of the very latest. He has quite the amount of supporters, Brynn. They're in court today, two family members. He has his son Eric, his

daughter in law, Lara Trump. She of course also now holds a prominent political position, but everybody else is really of the political variety.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Erica. Speaker Mike Johnson, being one of them was supposed to be hearing some

remarks from him as well. We saw some people in the court supporting him yesterday. He's certainly getting his support when a crucial witness is on

the stand, as you just said, Michael Cohen.

And you know what he did exactly what the prosecution needed him to do when he was on the stand yesterday. He is the person that is really narrating

this entire story for the prosecution, implicating Donald Trump several times with the conversations that they had regarding the hush money

payments to Stormy Daniels to Karen McDougal the catch and kill stories that they worked on with David Pecker.

And you know the financing with Allen Weisselberg. He is basically naming the names and talking about the conversations he had with Donald Trump.

Stuff we have heard for the past four weeks from other witnesses. He's just corroborating it. And as you just pointed out, Erica, he really did it


You know, for the past three or four weeks, we've been hearing about Michael Cohen, or at least jurors have being a jerk, he was called feisty,

a bully. But he was very composed and measured as he walked the jurists through his involvement with the former president. So we'll see how it

lands, because as you just pointed out to Erica.

It's going to be fireworks when the defense gets its term we're hearing, the defense might actually take longer than the prosecution is taking with

a questioning. Of course, they're going to bring up all those instances where they say he has a vendetta against the former president, and he

hasn't been quiet about it, having books and podcasts and, you know, TikTok videos, where he's calling out the president.

So it's very likely we will see some of that too, on cross examination. So we'll see which way the jury lands. You know, some legal experts say it

really this case rests on Michael Cohen's testimony. But of course, only the jurors know that answer, Erica.

HILL: Yeah, that's a good point, Brynn, appreciate it. Thank you. Also, joining me this hour is Attorney David Weinstein, former state and federal

prosecutor joining us today from Miami. David, good to have you with us to Brynn's point there. We have been talking so much in the lead up to Michael

Cohen, taking the stand about the fact that he is the key witness for the prosecution.

That he is the one person who can connect not only the dots, but connect Donald Trump, to what they allege was criminal behavior in terms of

covering up that hush money payment. Did he do his job on day one?

DAVID WEINSTEIN, FORMER STATE AND FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: He did Erica. He did exactly what was expected of him on day one. He did it in measured tones.

He answered the questions. He was calm about what he was saying, he helped the prosecution walk this jury through all the other pieces of the puzzle

that they were provided during the testimony and the evidence that led up to his testimony.

So he's doing exactly what they asked of him. The big question that remains is, will he hold up on cross examination? Or will he let the fence get

under his skin and erupt on the stand and tear down everything that he's helped the prosecution build up over the course of the last day?

HILL: There's been so much discussion about that the big what if there because Michael Cohen is known for being low hot headed, for exploding at

people, certainly for exploding at reporters, members of the press. He was very measured, very composed. His former attorneys those in his circle had

been very clear with myself and my colleagues that he has been working at this.

He knows how important this moment is. Where do you expect the defense to start though, because their goal is going to be to knock him off of that

calm space that he's in?

WEINSTEIN: I think they start with how he feels about the former president. He admitted yesterday that he was mad at him at certain points during their

existing relationship that he felt he was not given any respect from the former president so they start there. And then they start rolling out every

clip every snippet of how in the past.


He has lied in public, to people who asked him questions directly, to people who have asked him questions about the same things. He is now saying

that the former president did well in the past. He's denied that he's done them. And then they move on to his conviction, the fact that he's convicted

felon that he's admitted to committing perjury, that he is sitting where he is because of the lies that he has told.

But the fact of the matter is, he associated himself with the defendant, the man who was on trial, and did all of this, according to him at the

behest of the defendant. So the jury has to decide for themselves. Was he lying before with all these inconsistent statements? And is he telling the

truth now and how do they do that?

They look at the corroboration, the phone records, that text messages, the bank statements. That's the balancing test there have to undertake.

HILL: And of course, Michael Cohen is for just seeing there and folks can see on the side of their screen is now in the courtroom. You know, to your

point about the defense getting to the lies that were told, how he feels about Donald Trump? Now the prosecution got to a little bit of that,

talking about he said in these are his words that he was pissed off, when his bonus was smaller than it should have been in December of 2016.

That he was upset he that he wasn't even considered to be Chief of Staff at the White House, when Donald Trump made his way to Washington, does the

prosecution need to bring out more of those moments today to get ahead of the defense?

WEINSTEIN: No, they just needed to bring it out when they brought it out and to get it out in front of the jury that they're not hiding it, that

they're accepting this person for who he is and what he has done in the past. And so the defense is going to want to say that the only reason

you're here testifying is not to tell the truth, but to finish off on your vendetta against him, because you're scoring demand, and you are mad at

this person.

And then the jury has to say to, themselves, does he subject himself to yet another perjury charge if he's not telling the truth here. And the fact of

the matter is, he's under oath, granted that he was not under oath when he spoke before, but he was still giving inconsistent statements.

But according to him, and what he testified to yesterday, he was doing that at the behest of the former president as part of the cover up. So they

brought out enough, they know the jury who this man is in the prosecution is not hiding behind him and attempting to put them out there some sort of

white knight.

They're showing him for who he is. And let's see how long the defense goes. They can go too long after having made some of their points, and that's

going to work against them. We saw some of that -- was Stormy Daniels. So let's see if they're measured in their cross examination. Sometimes you can

go a bit too far.

ILL: There is a lot to watch for David, appreciate it. We'll talk again soon. And we're going to continue to monitor all of that activity as you

can see the jury just entering the courtroom. So we'll keep you updated here throughout the rest of the show, still to come as well. And there you

have it.

With that, the process of beginning to free that massive cargo ship, the Dali that collided with Baltimore's key bridge nearly two months ago, now

underway. We have more of those details for you just ahead. Plus, a bit later, Donald Trump's Former Attorney and Fixer, Michael Cohen, as we just

told you back on the stand.

Of course, as you see the prosecutor now picking back up questioning of day two underway. We'll keep a close watch on that as well.



HILL: That blast of course part of the controlled demolition as you see there, which was put in place to collapse a section of the bridge, the key

bridge in Baltimore on Monday that was still on top of that container ship. The demolition was done to help crews remove the debris and ultimately free

that massive cargo ship the Dali.

Six construction workers died when the ship veered, of course, ran into the bridge back in March causing it to collapse. There's new video which shows

an officer shock and frankly disbelief in those moments after the bridge fell. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- like are you kidding me? It's like something's missing here to skyline. The whole center of Span has gone to the water.


HILL: The whole center span is gone in the water. CNN's Gabe Cohen has been following us since the very beginning. We know how important this was to do

that controlled demolition. What's next now especially for that ship and all the people who are still on board?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erica, you're right. This was critical and officials are hoping that within the next 48 hours, within the next two

days, they're going to be able to refloat the dolly, bring in tugboats and tow the ship away from the wreckage site and to the shore.

That's possible because of that demolition that they were able to break apart that massive chunk of the bridge that couldn't be lifted in one piece

that was just sitting across the bow of the ship. We do know there is still some wreckage that's on the bow. There is a lot of pavement concrete on

there from the roadway that was on the bridge.

They're going to have to clear some of that away in the next couple of days. Some of that though, they will leave, Erica, and just to get the ship

out of there tow it away. Because the hope still is that they're going to be able to clear the entire canal, the wreckage scene there by the end of

the month and open up the channel so that the Port of Baltimore can return to normal.

We also know for the 21 crew members who are on board the Dali they have been on the ship for the past seven weeks since this crash. They were

onboard yesterday during that demolition, sheltered in place. They had their cell phones confiscated in recent weeks by the FBI because of the

criminal probe into what happened that night.

We're still waiting from the initial report from federal investigators to figure out what they believe happened that caused the power outage on the

ship. But certainly for those crew members, it's going to mean a lot when they get to shore in the next couple of days and possibly are able to leave

the ship.

HILL: Yeah, I mean, it is remarkable to think about the fact that they have been on that ship since this incident happened nearly two months ago. It is

important to think about that part of it and the investigation, also, as we look at the economic impact here. This was a major bridge of course it was

used in the Baltimore area.

But this is a very important port. In the United States, lots of trucks, like trucks come like light trucks and cars come through there, in addition

to a number of other products. You mentioned they're trying to clear that whole channel. Is there any estimate at this point as to when the port

could reopen?

COHEN: Well, they are hoping with the channel reopening by the end of the month that will return the Port of Baltimore to near normal say. Obviously

there have been a lot of hiccups. Even as some of the ships are coming in and out of these temporary channels that they have built. The economic

impact is massive.

We don't have a number yet we know that the City of Baltimore has filed a lawsuit against the owners and operator of the ship, because they

eventually will want to be reimbursed for that economic loss to so many workers, thousands of workers in the Baltimore area and then of course, the

overall economy in Baltimore and really across the country because of the supply chain impact.

We just don't know what the numbers look like at this point. But officials are saying they're hoping that things will be close to normal starting next

month if they can get the channel reopened.

HILL: Yeah -- Gabe appreciate it. Thank you. Still to come this hour, he was once Donald Trump's fixer. Now Michael Cohen is a key witness in the

trial against his former boss. What he is saying this morning. He's now back on the stand. They're being questioned by prosecutors. Stay with us.



HILL: Prosecutors in New York are questioning their star witness for a second day and Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial. On Monday, Michael

Cohen implicated Donald Trump, his former boss in that scheme to cover up a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. That payment of course was made in

the days just before the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Donald Trump's attorneys could begin their cross examination later today. That's expected to be pretty fiery. Before any of that happens, though, of

course, the prosecution needs to finish up their line of questioning again, as I mentioned, where their day two and as you see our teams in the

courtroom saying Michael Cohen once again measured in his tone pretty businesslike in all of this.

CNN's Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider has been following all of these developments. So starting off fairly routine again here, what do we

expect from the prosecution as they wrap up this questioning?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, it's interesting. We're already getting into the Oval Office meeting. Remember,

again, that was going to be a key point of testimony for Michael Cohen and prosecutors got right into it this morning. Remember, that was the Oval

Office meeting where Michael Cohen came down to Washington.

It was February 5, 2017 really just days after Trump took office. And Michael Cohen went into the Oval Office, even in the jury room or in the

courtroom. They're showing a picture that Michael Cohen took of him up on the podium at the White House. And crucially, Cohen has just testified that

he said I was sitting with President Trump, and he asked me if I was OK.

He asked me if I needed money. And I said no, all well. He said because I can get you a check. I said no, I'm OK. He said, All right. Just make sure

you deal with Allen. And Allen, of course, being Allen Weisselberg, the CFO for the Trump organization who was really dealing with the repayments to

Michael Cohen.

But this testimony once again, from Michael Cohen, it shows just how involved Donald Trump was with this hush money scheme and really the

repayment to Michael Cohen. You know, we're seeing all of this really tantalizing testimony from Cohen, you know, yesterday, in addition to what

we're seeing this morning yesterday by -- anyway, Michael Cohen gave at least six instances where Trump was completely looped in very involved with

the hush money deal.

At one point Trump telling Cohen you know, don't worry, you'll get your money back. And Cohen really through the whole deal while they were

maneuvering and negotiating with Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Cohen kept Trump in the loop, every minute of this back and forth until that

$130,000 was paid.

So already, Michael Cohen has been giving very specific, concrete examples of how Donald Trump was involved in this deal? How he knew about it? How he

helped orchestrate it? How he helped orchestrate the repayments? So I guess the question is Erica, you know, how much more are we going to get from

prosecutors today?

It's likely that they may finish their direct testimony today. Defense might go into cross examination, you know, will the defense be able to tear

down Michael Cohen, enough to -- any credibility that he might have in the jury's eyes?

We saw what they did to tear Stormy Daniels down and there's no doubt we'll try to do the same thing with Michael Cohen really questioning his

credibility. And definitely they'll be asking about the various federal crimes he pleaded guilty to including lying to Congress.


So, Erica, you know it is interesting because the prosecution has elicited this key testimony from Michael Cohen. I guess the question is how is it

resonating with the jury? Will it be enough to provide that crucial link that they need to establish that Donald Trump was in the loop, Erica?

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. We will be watching for that and watching the questioning as it continues this morning, Jessica, appreciate it. Thank

you. I do also want to update you just before we close out this hour. We've been following so closely the Breaking News out of Georgia.

Riot police continuing to confront protesters there in the capital of Tbilisi, this of course, after a parliament held his final reading of this

controversial foreign agent's bill and pass that bill. These are live pictures right now. You can see it's just before 6 pm local time. Again,

that bill passed with 84 members of parliament out of 150 voting in favor.

Critics for their part are warning that this Russian style legislation could actually jeopardize Georgia's bid to join the European Union.

Protests continue we're going to stay on top of them. We'll take a quick break here. And we'll continue to follow that story throughout the next

hour. Thanks for joining us for this hour of "Connect the World". Stay tuned. We're right back at the top of the hour.