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ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants For Hamas, Israeli Leaders; Iran: President Raisi Confirmed Dead After Helicopter Crash; Michael Cohen Back On The Stand For Cross-Examination; President Ebrahim Raisi Killed In Helicopter Crash; ICC Prosecutes Seeks Warrants For Hamas And Israeli Leaders; Michael Cohen Admits To Stealing From Trump Organization. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 10:00   ET





BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, Israel and Hamas are condemning the International Criminal Court after its chief prosecutor said

that he is seeking arrest warrants for officials on both sides.

He is accusing Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior figures of war crimes and crimes against

humanity over the October 7th attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.

Now, chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour interviewed the chief prosecutor at The Hague, in exclusive discussion. This is part of that.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: We're here at the ICC. You are today announcing that you are applying for arrest warrants for top military

and political leadership in the Israel-Gaza war since the October 7th events.

First and foremost, explain to me exactly what you're asking for and who you are charging.

KARIM KHAN, CHIEF PROSECUTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT: Today, Christiane, we've applied for warrants to the pre-Trial Chamber of the

International Criminal Court in relation to three individuals that are Hamas members.

Sinwar, who's in charge on the ground --


AMANPOUR: That's Yahya Sinwar.

KHAN: Absolutely. Deif, who is in charge of the al-Qassam Brigade. And Haniyeh, who's one of their political bureau, based in Doha.

AMANPOUR: What are the charges?

KHAN: The charges are extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault in detention. So, these are the key crimes that are alleged

to have been committed by these three individuals. The world was shocked on the 7th of October when people were ripped from their bedrooms, from their

homes, from the different kibbutzim in Israel. And people have suffered enormously. And we have a variety of evidence to support the applications

that we have submitted to the judges.

AMANPOUR: You have also issued warrants against the top political and military leadership of the government of the state of Israel.

KHAN: We've applied for warrants. Of course, the judges must determine whether or not to issue them. But we've applied today -- we'll apply for

warrants for Prime Minister Netanyahu and also Minister of Defense Gallant for crimes of -- causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of

war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.


ANDERSON: And we have just heard from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Cristiane, joining us now interviewed the chief prosecutor at

The Hague.

Cristiane, the first words from the prime minister with regard this and I quote Netanyahu here. "The application for warrants from The Hague, the

ICC, is a political outrage," he says. "They will not deter us and we will continue in the war until the hostages are released and Hamas is


That is not unfamiliar from Benjamin Netanyahu, perhaps, what was to be expected? Is that how the chief prosecutor will assume to have got a

response from Israel? What's your sense?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's probably not a surprise to hear the reaction from the Israeli prime minister earlier from -- actually, the opposition leader,

Benny Gantz and others who, you know, he is even in the coalition, basically expressing in their view outrage at a sort of equivalence.

In other words, how can you issue and target certain, you know, arrest warrants and the seeking of certain charges on both sides? They take

exception to the fact that they are a democratic state fighting what they say and what is deemed by the United States and Europe to be a Hamas

terrorist organization.


AMANPOUR: At the same time, we've heard from Hamas, which also takes exception to be lumped in with charges are against Israel. They object to

themselves being targeted. So, this is the kind of reaction that probably everybody expected.

When I made those very comments regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu's predicted response, because he had made that those kinds of responses

before when the idea of arrest warrants was first floated publicly by the press, actually, a few weeks ago. He had said that it would amount to an

outrage, or miscarriage of justice. He said, it would be anti-Semitic, it would be, you know, part of hate speech and the like.

So, I put that to the prosecutor. And he said, this is not a witch hunt, not against the Israeli government, nor against any of the other parties

involved. This is the attempt to apply justice equally, and to hold everyone responsible and accountable for what their role is, according to

these allegations, in the attacks on October 7th by Hamas, the slaughter the rapes, the, you know, killing of individuals, and not only that, of

course, the kidnapping of hostages are from even the very elderly and women to the youngest, including children, and their sexual abuse, the rapes,

that have even apparently happened in captivity, according to eyewitness testimony.

Now, that is what he believes needs, they need to be held accountable. And they believe that Israel needs to be held accountable for most importantly,

he is put it as using starvation as a weapon of war.

Now, this would be the first time in history that, that particular charge has been levelled, if indeed, the, you know, pre-trial panel does agree

with these arrest warrants and seeking of these arrest warrants.

The use of starvation as a weapon of war has not yet been tested. It's unprecedented in an international court such as this, but many, many,

certainly, the U.S., certainly, Europeans, certainly many people around the international aid, piece of all of this, have said that there is starvation

setting in, in Gaza. That there is famine in certain pockets. We know that there has been, at least, two dozen counted and named deaths because of

hunger and malnutrition-related situation.

And we know according to the prosecutor, what Israeli leaders, including Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, who is also one of those targeted in

this search for arrest warrants said the very couple of days after October 7th, when he announced a draconian siege on Gaza, and said, we are fighting

human animals, and we are going to take all these measures, in other words, the siege and everything else.

So, this prosecutor has said that Israel has a right to defend itself. But this is what he says about this court.


AMANPOUR: There must have been a huge amount of pressure on you from all sides to do and not to do.

KHAN: Well, this court Christianne is the child of Nuremberg. It was built because of the awful pictures that haunt us today of the shore, and the gas

chambers, and then the Balkans, and the list goes on.

And we have to look at the evidence. And the way I very simply tried to do things is look at the evidence, look at the conduct, look at the victims,

and airbrush out their nationality. And if a crime has been committed, we should move forward.

Nobody is above the law, no people, by then (PH) to birth, or passport, religion, nationality, or the color of their skin, have a get out of jail

free card, have a free pass to say, what the law doesn't apply to us.


AMANPOUR: And that's his point. And to that end, he told us he has, you know, got the assistance of a distinguished international panel of jurists,

which, you know, really sort of very diverse, and that is what he has put this case before. And again, this is the first step before putting these

requests before a pre-trial panel of ICC judges. Becky?

ANDERSON: Good to have you, Christiane. Thank you.

And you can see Christiane Amanpour's full exclusive interview with the ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, coming up at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. That is 7:00 p.m. in

The Hague.

Well, Iran's supreme leader says there will be no disruption of governance in the country after the death of President Ibrahim Raisi in a helicopter

crash. Raisi, Iran's foreign minister, and seven others were killed when their helicopter went down in a remote mountainous area, while returning

from a ceremony for the opening of a dam.


State media report the crash was the result of a technical failure.

Well, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared five days of mourning. Raisi was widely considered to be in line to one day succeed


Well, the first vice president, who was appointed by the Supreme Leader is now serving as acting president and elections are to be held within 50


CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance now looks back at the impact of Abraham Raisi's presidency.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): He was a staunch critic of the West, even seen as a possible successor to the

Iranian Supreme Leader. Ibrahim Raisi came to power in 2021, winning an election with a record low turnout.

And for three years, enacting policies that made him a polarizing figure at home and abroad.

His presidency saw a dangerous escalation and tensions with Israel. In April, he supported a major attack against the country in an unprecedented

response to a suspected Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria, which killed several Iranian commanders.

Throughout Raisi's presidency, Iran pressed ahead with its new nuclear program, violating an international agreement while blaming the U.S. for

withdrawing and European states for not living up to their end of the deal.

Tehran also supplied lethal drone technology to Russia, fueling the conflict in Ukraine, allowing Moscow to strike deep behind the front lines.

Meanwhile, at home, Raisi oversaw a brutal crackdown on dissent, suppressing a 2022 uprising sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young

woman in the custody of Iran's religious morality police. It all cemented his status as a loyal hard liner potentially in line to succeed Iran's 85-

year-old supreme leader. President Raisi's sudden death plunges that succession into chaos.

Raisi died along with his minister of foreign affairs, Hossein Amir- Abdollahian, a top Iranian diplomat took office in 2021 after a long career with the foreign ministry.


ANDERSON: And this just in, Iran's army chief has now ordered an investigation into the cause of this helicopter crash, reported on Sunday

as a "heavy landing". It wasn't until the wee hours of Monday morning that it was confirmed that nobody in that helicopter had survived.

Well, Dina Esfandiary is a senior advisor for the international crisis group's Middle East and North Africa program, joins me now from Geneva.

As Matthew reported in his piece, Raisi won the presidency on a -- on a record low turnout, in a poll that mostly excluded reformers, some veteran

politicians. What will the next elections look like?


the government now. They have 50 days to mobilize voters, to come out, to give the system added legitimacy and vote for the candidates that they will

have vetted beforehand. And keep in mind again, they only have 50 days to select those candidates.

And they have to do that at a time where as you've outlined there has been record low turnouts for elections and people are just tired politically.

So, for the -- for the government, it doesn't look good. It will be a very challenging environment, and it will be a very tightly controlled election,

likely with a field full of hardliners.

ANDERSON: I mean, there are those who say, you know, the supreme leader could take -- and the -- and the -- and the council could take an

opportunity to sort of widen the aperture as it were for reformers. So, as well, it's a question of whether or not the -- those involved decide to do


Though, as president racy, had very little influence. Dina on Iran's most important institutions such as the IRGC, Raisi was widely seen in Iran as a

favorite to eventually succeed the supreme leader -- 85-year-old Khamenei, who has been recently in poor health.

Raisi's death now seemingly removes the only serious rival to Khamenei's son to take the top Job.


What would the impact or consequences of that be?

ESFANDIARY: So, I actually think the reports of him, being the potential next supreme leader are wildly exaggerated. We have to remember that

Iranian politics and the selection of the supreme leader, we've only ever had one before, is really tightly controlled, kept very quiet. And it's

very difficult for the general public to know who will come next.

Now, of course, Raisi seems like a good potential candidate. He was a hardliner. He was trusted by Khamenei, but it's unclear really whether he

would have been the next candidate. Having said that, as president, he would have had a certain amount of influence over the process.

And again, they would have been able to shape the process and shape succession. And that now has been taken away. So, I do think there's going

to be a little bit of an internal scramble to figure out how to ensure that succession goes smoothly, how to ensure that these upcoming elections go

smoothly, and how to ensure all of that at a time where Iran is facing challenges, both domestic and international.

ANDERSON: What do you expect the supreme leader to do at this point, if anything, to establish some credibility and legitimacy for leadership in

the country? You point out, I mean, real problems at home and effective and efficient leadership with this economy.

You know, never mind the sanctions that the economy has been under for so long, has really taken you know, the Iranian economy to its knees, much

dissent behind the scenes, spilling over onto the streets over the past 18 months, not least in response to Mahsa Amini's death at the hands of the

religious police.

What do you expect to happen next? I've spoken to those this morning in the last 24 hours, who say this could open and sort of crack have an

opportunity for example, the protest movement once again to become more visible, not less. Do you expect that to happen?

ESFANDIARY: Well, that's exactly what they are going to try to avoid. Right? So, I think there is what we expect might happen and what they

should do. Now, I think you're right, when you say that there is some expectation that perhaps, Khamenei may want to open the field up.

Now, that would be the right thing to do to ensure greater voter mobilization if you will. Invite reformist candidates to also take part in

these elections. Then, you might reinject the political process with a little bit more legitimacy and get more people to come out and vote. And as

a result, inject that legitimacy into the system.

But given how close we are to a potential succession, which really is a key moment, in the Islamic Republic's future, I think that's unlikely to

happen. Because if you do that, you also open it up to a potential complete overhaul of the system or change or people demanding more. So, I think

what's more likely to happen is that the system is more likely to double down, it's more likely to toughen up, there is going to be some internal

rivalries amongst the hardliners who are -- who are competing for these key positions within the Iranian system right now, including the presidency


And so, it's going to be a question of Khamenei managing this factional infighting that's going to happen over the next little while. And most

importantly, managing the internal dynamics and the infighting that might lead up to his succession.

ANDERSON: Really interesting period to watch the consequences for the sort of domestic space perhaps more immediate than those for the foreign policy

file, which will be what Washington London and others are keeping a keen eye on, not least, of course, in region as well in the UAE, in Saudi


Thank you. Still to come. Donald Trump's defense team continues their brutal questioning of his former fixer, Michael Cohen, as they tried to

paint the prosecution's star witness as a liar.

We are live in New York up next for you and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been given a lifeline to try and avoid extradition to the U.S.

where he faces life in prison, on espionage charges. That story also, just ahead.



Welcome back, Donald Trump's attorneys continue to grill Michael Cohen. The defense using their cross examination to try to discredit Cohen's testimony

in the criminal hush money trial.

Now, once they wrap up, the prosecution will have a second chance to question Cohen on what's known as redirect. They have said he is their last

witness. Trump's defense will then be given an opportunity to present their case.

Well, CNN's U.S. national correspondent Brynn Gingras is live outside the court with the latest.

And Brynn, I wonder how much damage you assess the defense to have done with their cross examination.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, Becky, they had spent most of their time essentially painting Michael Cohen as a liar, chipping

away at his credibility. And they said they have a few hours left of cross examination and we're watching the feed from our court reporters inside,

and they are continuing to just hammer away at his credibility.

Let me give you a couple of examples. For one, on direct, Michael Cohen said he spent much of his time before the 2016 election focusing on those

hush money payments that's at the center of this entire case.

Well, Todd Blanche, the defense attorney just basically got Cohen to admit that he was working on a number of projects for the Trump Organization. And

so, he couldn't possibly be solely focused only on that one issue. Another thing they are chipping away about and painting him as again, a liar is the

amount of money that was reimbursed to accompany, which was added into those calculations for the hush money payments that were allegedly given

back to Michael Cohen.

So, again, they're just hammering away at his credibility, trying to show that he is a liar, that he cannot be trusted. And that is really the focus

of how they conducted this entire cross examination.

And now, as you just pointed out, Becky, the prosecution is going to have a chance to redirect try to narrow this, you know, write the ship again if

they can with this lead witness of theirs. And then we expect them to rest their case.

Now, the -- a judge in this case has really kind of outlined a new sort of schedule because it's a short week because of the Memorial Day holiday here

in the U.S. We're understanding now, closing arguments might not happen until next week. So, jurors will not get this case it seems, this week. --

it's possible next week or after that. We'll have to see. Becky?

ANDERSON: And Brynn, will Donald Trump take the stand? How likely is that to happen?

GINGRAS: Yes, listen. Last week, defense attorneys haven't really indicated what -- who they are going to put on the stand. They didn't even you know,

close out the option that Donald Trump won't take the stand. I mean, if you ask legal experts, I think everyone will tell you he will not take the

stand. But we know that Donald Trump is his own person. He certainly has the right to take the stand but we don't fully expect that.

We are wondering if the defense is going to call a different witness, an expert witness before they rest their case. But it does seem like that is

still an option at least at this -- at this minute right now. Becky.


ANDERSON: Good to have you. Brynn, thank you.

Well, turning to news out of London, and the crowds cheer and chant outside the High Court, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted a right

to appeal his extradition to the United States.

Now, Assange, of course, is wanted in the U.S. for posting classified documents on his web-site, WikiLeaks more than a decade ago, the High Court

ruled that U.S. assurances over his right to argue freedom of speech in a trial were not sufficient, and Assange would be allowed a full appeal


And let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now.

As Russia ramps up its push into northern Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warns that Russia will be trying to make further advances in

the country. Warning comes amid Russia's nonstop assault on Northern Ukraine where Russian forces claim to have taken control of villages in the

Kharkiv region.

Taiwan's new president gave mainland China a blunt message as he was sworn in on Monday. Lai Ching-Te, called on Beijing to cease its intimidation of

the island, and, "face the reality of its sovereignty".

China has of course consistently claimed Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to take the island by force if necessary.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been forced to postpone his upcoming trip to Japan. Saudi news reports his father King Salmaan is

battling lung inflammation and is being treated with antibiotics in Jeddah. The trip will be rescheduled for a later date.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you today. Ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, reactions pouring in after the death of Iran's president in a helicopter


While we are hearing from regional neighbors and from some Western nations, and groups is after this.


ANDERSON: Well, a solemn day in Iran's capital, where the late president, Ibraham Raisi is being remembered today. You can see this huge crowd

gathered as the country begins five days of national mourning.


Officials say Mr. Raisi and several others were killed in their helicopter when it crashed in the mountains on Sunday. State media says his body will

be moved to his hometown in northeastern Iran on Tuesday.

Well, condolences are coming in for the late President Raisi from across the region. Lebanon has declared three days of mourning and we are getting

reaction from the so called Axis of Resistance. Hezbollah in Lebanon calls Raisi a big brother and strong supporter.

Hamas in Gaza and Yemen's Houthi rebels who are also being supported by Iran are sending messages of sympathy and other world leaders and top

officials voicing condolences, among them, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China, Kuwait, my home base of the UAE.

And there are expressions of sympathy from the so-called West, including France's foreign ministry and the E.U.'s foreign policy chief.

Well, joining me now in the studio is someone who knows the dynamics of the region of Iranian politics and beyond very well. Fawaz Gerges is with the

school at the London School of Economics and is author of What Really Went Wrong: The West and the Failure of Democracy in the Middle East, a good

friend of this show and of mine, and I'm absolutely delighted that you're here with me today.

Raisi's death comes at a time of real instability in the region of the Gulf and wider Middle East. Around the shadow war between Iran and Israel

conflict in Gaza, the continued sort of non-discussions about the Iranian nuclear file as Saudi Arabia itself looks to build its own civil nuclear


What do you make of the past 24 hours the death of the president and his foreign minister? What happens next domestically, and the consequences for

the wider region?

FAWAZ GERGES, AUTHOR: But really, it's a huge loss for Iran. Ebrahim Raisi was not just the president of Iran. Of course, he was not the commander-in-

chief. The Supreme Leader is the commander-in-chief, but he was really basically a serious contender to replace the commander-in-chief Ali

Khamenei, the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is ill, is 85 years old.

So, this creates a big question about the question -- a major challenge the question of succession. There are some people who basically oppose

appointing the son of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as his replacement to his father, many conservatives in Iran argue that Iran should not follow

the hereditary model of other Arab states.

So, what you have one of the major challenges internally is not the contestation of power between conservatives and reformists within the

conservative camp. And that's why the coming elections in 50 days are very critical.

The question, I mean, for your viewers, will the Islamic Republic select a candidate, a conservative candidate, and opposed by any other candidate, or

will basically the Islamic Republic the clerics go for the contestation of power? This is a serious question, because we know that Iran is deeply

divided. There is internal dissent.

I mean, there's so much -- Iran is facing really multiple challenges domestic, severe economic crisis, the currency has almost collapsed,

poverty and employment inflation, many young people basically want to be free.

ANDERSON: It's credibility and legitimacy, it has to be said at stake at this point, and for a number of years now. So, the point you are making is

this, do you make this an open competition? Do you introduce back into the mix perhaps a more reformist like character like Rouhani, a two term

president there? Or do you double down on the sort of hardline governance at least, which has been ineffective and inefficient of course for so long?

Domestically, this is very important. Internationally, and regionally, of course, it is, as you rightly pointed out, the big question about the

succession for supreme leader, which is so important here, because that is the individual alongside the security operators, who score out the

ideological bent of the Islamic Republic and indeed hold that national security file, the foreign policy file to all intents and purposes carried

out by the sort of public face of the Iranian foreign minister who has of course also lost his life in this crash, but ultimately held by a small and

very powerful set of people. What happens next?


GERGES: Well, look, I mean, regardless of what we think of the clerics in Iran, I think this is one of the most institutionalized states in the

region. It does not just have a commander-in-chief, it has a formal system of succession. It has a -- what a security council -- the national security

council, where the major decisions are taken. This is not a state that based on the sole leader, on the strong man, even though it's an

authoritarian, a soft authoritarian state in terms of the institutional power.

So, the challenges facing Iran in the next few weeks or next few months, the relation relations with Israel are very critical, because they're on

the brink of war. The question of nuclear weapons, what will the new president and his team decide on the future nuclear program of Iran?

As you well know, that on the 9th of May, one of the top advisors to the supreme leader, his name is Kamal Kharrazi,, he said, "Iran might have to

change its nuclear doctrine if Israel attacks civil, the Iranian civil nuclear side."

So, again, the Iranian leadership is thinking about the next steps, vis-a- vis, I mean, its nuclear program, and also relations with the United States, because the two states are, you know, almost came to blows,

recently, as you know, over Israel and other questions.

So, there are many challenges domestically and internationally. The only bright spot here is that relations between Iran and its Arab neighbors,

what President Ebrahim Raisi and his Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian have done is to normalize -- begin to normalize relations

with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab.

ANDERSON: And you could argue this has been a successful period of rapprochement. I mean, and that is what the foreign ministers, as you say,

and this president have overseen.

Interesting, just briefly, I just want to get your take as Jake Sullivan, the U.S. National Security Adviser for the Biden administration does a tour

of this region, starting as he did in Saudi Arabia, with discussions with the Crown Prince there about a U.S.- Saudi bilateral deal, which includes a

civil nuclear program, you see the emergence of what the U.S. sees as its bulwark, as it were to Iran, to a threatening Iran in its approach to Saudi

Arabia, a country which of course, has, you know, come together in its relationships with Tehran. This is complex, please explain.

GERGES: A very complex question, because China's succeeded in bringing the Iranians and the Saudis into the normalization process. It's not as warm as

it should be. But the beginning, as you said, the normalization.

What the United States is trying to do, what the Biden administration is trying to do, is to really return to the pre-Saudi Iranian normalization

process, to really posit and position Iran as the most important threat to regional stability.

And to tell the Iran, the Saudis, and the Israelis look, you need to all come together in order to oppose Iranian intrusive policies. And also,

another element is to wean Saudi Arabia off the China's track.

So, what the Biden administration is trying to do is to really score several wins in one stroke, normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and

Israel, find a political path for a Palestinian state, again, return to the anti-Iranian, I mean, scary tactics, and also convince the Saudis and the

Emiratis don't deepen your relations with China. I think there are many ifs and I think this is really a fanciful, very fancy strategy on the part.

ANDERSON: Very briefly, and with that prism from Washington, is Iran the biggest threat to the region now beyond?

GERGES: No, in fact, a poll in the region was taken a few weeks ago, 76 percent of the people in the region have viewed the United States and

Israel as the most significant threats to regional stability and peace in the region.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. It's always good to have you. Thank you very much indeed.

Right, straight ahead here on CNN, the ICC's top prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, but just how far does the court's

jurisdiction reach? We will look at other notable cases that it has prosecuted.

And we have the very latest on the ground in Gaza as an American doctor staying behind calls on President Biden to help.



ANDERSON: A senior officials from Israel and Hamas are facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court's

chief prosecutor says that he is seeking arrest warrants for key figures in the Hamas leadership Yahya Sinwar included and Israeli Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu.

If the warrants are issued, they would join a shortlist of people to be indicted by the ICC. CNN's Nic Robertson reports on the role of the

international body.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Russia's ruthless Vladimir Putin, Sudan's former dictator Omar al-Bashir, the now

dead Libyan tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, leaders who claimed innocence, but with blood on their hands had arrest warrants issued by the ICC, the

International Criminal Court.

Set up in 2002, a court of last resort located in The Hague, the Netherlands, established to hold to account individuals accused of some of

the most heinous crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression, and war crimes.

The first verdict came in 2012 against Thomas Lubanga.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The charges of conscripting and enlisting children.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Former leader of a militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo, convicted of war crimes for using child soldiers and

sentenced to 14 years in prison.

But the ICC's reach is limited. So far, neither Putin nor Bashir delivered to The Hague.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.

ROBERTSON (voice over): Its jurisdiction isn't limited to the near 125 countries that are signatories to the Rome Statute that establishes it. But

non signatories like the U.S., China, India, Russia, are not obliged to turn over alleged criminals.

The current chief prosecutor, British lawyer Karim Khan, appears proactive in his attentions, making an unannounced visit to the rapid crossing

between Egypt and the Gaza Strip not long after Israeli troops began that month's long deadly Gaza offensive.

KHAN: I want to underline clearly to Israel, that there must be discernible efforts without further delay, to make sure civilians receive basic food,


ROBERTSON (voice over): In November, he followed up with a visit to Israel, including sites ravaged by Hamas during their brutal October 7th attack,

followed by the occupied West Bank. He had a warning comply with the law, or my office will act.


It appears Khan's biggest challenge because his predecessors found not legal, but physical.

Putin the embodiment of that still at large, still president.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Several Republicans in the U.S. Congress, taken to social media today to condemn the ICC move to seek these arrest warrants. Senator

Lindsey Graham, a staunch supporter of Israel, promises to work delivery sanctions against the ICC. And Senator Tom Tillis slammed the criminal

court for putting Israel's Prime Minister on the same level as Hamas leaders.

Israeli officials also condemning the chief prosecutor's move. Let's get you to Jeremy Diamond now to walk us through what we are hearing. Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, this decision by the ICC's top prosecutor Karim Khan to seek arrest warrants against

Israeli as well as Hamas's leaders, is certainly generating a lot of controversy. He is seeking arrest warrants accusing both sides leaders of

committing war crimes, as well as crimes against humanity.

In Israel's case, he is focusing on the targeting of civilians during the war in Gaza over the course of the last seven months, as well as what he

describes as a policy of intentionally trying to starve the people of Gaza and the collective punishment that he says has ensued.

As it relates to Hamas's leaders, he's focusing, of course on the October 7th massacre, the abject killing of civilians that day, as well as the

taking of hostages, sexual violence committed by Hamas's own member accusing these three Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Ismail

Haniyeh of being the masterminds and of directing those attacks and the continued holding, of course, of nearly 130 hostages.

We are of course getting reaction across the Israeli political spectrum to this decision by the ICC, including in just the last hour from the Israeli

prime minister himself, saying at a meeting of his Likud party that the application for warrants from The Hague is a political outrage. He says

they will not deter us and we will continue in the war until the hostages are released, and Hamas is destroyed.

Netanyahu's political rivals have also weighed in with similar criticism of the ICC, striking out in particular at this decision to seek arrest

warrants against Hamas leaders, as well as Israel's leaders criticizing the ICC for the moral equivalency that they see in this dual decision.

Hamas is also issuing similar criticism actually of the ICC, saying in a statement, Hamas strongly condemned the attempts of the ICC prosecutor to

equate victims with aggressors by issuing arrest warrants against the number of Palestinian resistance leaders without legal basis. And Hamas is

also calling on the ICC to cancel out the warrants for its -- for its leaders.

But certainly, this is a step that that many have sought on both sides. You know, I was with the families of hostage -- of hostages in February when

they traveled to The Hague to deliver a complaint urging the ICC leader to file charges against the leaders of Hamas. He certainly has done so in this

case, but he has also of course, filed seeking arrest warrants for Israel's leaders as well.

ANDERSON: These arrest warrants of course, haven't been issued yet. This is -- this is a process but the headline today out of our exclusive interview

with the chief prosecutor is that the ICC is seeking the issuance of these arrest warrants.

It's good to have you Jeremy, thank you very much indeed.

Well, the IDF says two senior Hamas operatives were killed in airstrikes in Gaza over the weekend. As the Israeli military says it is fighting and

carrying out strikes across the Enclave.

Hospital officials in central Gaza say and Israeli airstrike killed 35 people on Sunday. Gaza's health ministry says that the latest 24 hour

period had the highest daily death toll since mid-April, with 106 people killed in Israeli military operations.

This, as a U.N. official says approximately 800,000 people, nearly half of Rafah's population have been displaced since Israel commenced military

operations in that city.

Well, elsewhere in Rafah, these words from an American doctor to his family back in New Jersey are not coming home this weekend. Dr. Adam Hamawy is

choosing to stay in Gaza with two other U.S. medics after 17 of his American colleagues were evacuated on Friday in a statement over the

weekend he wrote and I quote, I have never in my career witnessed the level of atrocities and targeting of my medical colleagues as I have in Gaza. He

is calling on President Biden to ensure medical personnel can continue their work in Gaza safely.

We're back after a quick break where the courtroom bombshell in Donald Trump's hush money trial. Stay with us.



ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in London.

I want to get you back to New York where Donald Trump's attorneys have been grilling Michael Cohen in Trump's hush money trial and working to discredit

Cohen's testimony while being questioned about a payment a short time ago.

Cohen admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization. CNN's U.S. national correspondent Brynn Gingrass is live outside the court with the very latest

and just tell us what happened and how much damage has the defense done with this cross examination?

BRYNN GINGRASS, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Becky. So, these are the line items that we were talking about in regards to the entirety of the

hush money payments in those line items that were paid back to Michael Cohen. There was something there for services rendered from a technology

company, they were supposed to be paid back $50,000.

Well, Trump admitted it -- I mean, rather, Michael Cohen admitted on the stand so that he only paid back $20,000 in a brown paper bag in cash. And

so, when the defense attorneys questioned him further about this, they essentially said, so you stole from the Trump Organization, because where's

the $30,000, essentially, and Michael Cohen admitted that he stole, so it became sort of a dramatic moment in that courtroom, where Trump's shook his

head apparently to this and gave a little bit of a smirk.

But this has been their tactic for cross examination is just going after every single lie that they say is a lie, basically, from what the

prosecution has laid out in its case.

We do expect the defense to wrap up with Michael Cohen shortly. And then of course, we're going to see some more redirects to try to see how the

prosecution sort of wiggles its way out of some of these lies that the defense clearly has brought up out of the testimony with Michael Cohen.

ANDERSON: The other question that we've been asking, very briefly, and our viewers will, you know, be interested to know whether Donald Trump himself

is likely to take the stand. Do we have any further idea at this point?

GINGRASS: Yes, so defense last week was asked that question, or essentially, you know, said that they weren't quite sure yet if they were

going to put him on the stand. So, it wasn't a definite yes, wasn't a definite no.

I mean, I think if you ask legal experts, everyone will tell you that he's not going to take the stand as much as Donald Trump wants to have that

spotlight put on him. There's too much at risk in a cross examination from the prosecution.

So, it's very unlikely he will take the stand, but you never know. You know, that he might went out. Donald Trump might went out and have that

chance to sort of, you know, make his own story there on the stand with the defense asking the question, so we're not sure, unlikely, but it's


If that were to happen, that would certainly be this week, because we are wrapping up the end of this trial.


ANDERSON: Yes. And just briefly, timeline then, when do we expect this to close?

GINGRASS: Yes, so closing arguments were expected tomorrow and the judge before the jury came into the courtroom this morning said that now with

things happening, with arguments that still need to -- need to be made without the jury presence was more testimony now closing arguments look to

happen next Tuesday after the Memorial Day weekend here in the United States. And so, then, the jurors will have the case soon after that.

ANDERSON: Busy times. Always good to have you, Brynn. Thank you, Brynn Gingrass in New York. I'm in London. That is it for CONNECT THE WORLD. Stay

with CNN, I'm back with "NEWSROOM", up next.