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Israeli Tanks Advance into Center of Rafah; Investigation Underway in Rafah Airstrike; E.U. Foreign Ministers Discuss Israel Sanctions; Trump Hush Money Trial Closing Arguments; Belgium Sending Ukraine 30 F-16s; U.S. Severe Weather; Two Inmates Escape Louisiana Jail; North Korean Rocket with Satellite Explodes in Air; Pope Apologizes for Gay Slur. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired May 28, 2024 - 10:00:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello, it is 6 pm here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Eleni Giokos and this is CONNECT THE WORLD. This

hour, Israeli tanks have advanced to the center of Rafah despite global outcry and condemnation of Israel's deadly strike on displaced persons camp

in Gaza.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR AND U.S. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): And I'm Erica Hill in New York, where it is now 10:00 am. Donald Trump back in court. His

legal team defense making their closing arguments. Now in his criminal hush money trial, this of course, is the day of closing arguments.

And then eventually the jury gets this case. We will continue to update you throughout the hour.

GIOKOS: Well, we begin in Gaza, where eyewitnesses tell CNN that Israeli tanks have moved into central Rafah. This is the first time we are

receiving reports of this and the escalation comes despite international warnings around the operation and the global outcry over the strike on the

displacement camp that killed at least 45 people in Rafah.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the strike on the camp a tragic error. And just within the past few minutes, Israeli Defense Forces

gave updates are on these strikes. Spokesman Daniel Hagari claimed, their munition alone could not have caused such a large fire on its own.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem for us and we also have Oren Liebermann standing by at the Pentagon.

Jeremy, I want to start off with you. We just heard from IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari who says the investigation is still underway, basically

saying that and showing a map actually that where they struck versus where the safe zone was.

There was quite a distance but the images just show the harrowing impact of the strike, even though the IDF says this is still, it's too premature to

tell what caused the fire.


What is most interesting and what we heard from Admiral Hagari, the Israeli military's top spokesman, are two things. First of all, he talks about the

types of munitions that were used.

He says that these are the smallest munitions that can be fitted onto Israeli jets, 17 kilo, which is about 37 pound munitions; two of those used

to take out these two senior Hamas militants.

And the second crucial point that Hagari makes here is that he is arguing that those munitions alone could not have ignited a fire of the size that

we saw in those camps where displaced Palestinians were living.

Effectively suggesting that the overwhelming majority of the casualties, if not all of the casualties, were caused by this fire or some kind of a

secondary explosion. I did ask a question in that briefing that I submitted, which was whether or not all of these civilian casualties they

believed were caused by that secondary fire or explosion.

And he would not go that far, saying that the investigation is still underway. He did float the possibility that there were munitions near that

-- the site of the strike that could have ignited and caused a secondary explosion.

But he did not say that for certain. He said that that is one of the avenues that the Israeli military is indeed exploring. What he really

emphasized was the fact that, in the surveillance that the Israeli military carried out before this strike, that the assessment was that there would

not be civilian casualties.

And that's why they carried out that civilian, that surveillance ahead of time. But again things like munitions being present are something that

militaries tend to assess before they carry out strikes. Sometimes they miss those things.

We have seen incidents involving other militaries, including the U.S. military, where unknown stashes of munitions can cause secondary

explosions. But again, the Israeli military is not providing any evidence for that at this stage, simply saying that that is a theory that they are


What is clear though, is that the injuries to civilians that we have seen are not solely burn injuries. They are injuries caused by shrapnel, caused

by an explosion, certainly of some type.

Whether or not those are explosions related to these two munitions that the Israeli military dropped or some secondary explosion is not clear but we

should specify that the catastrophic injuries that we have seen to the bodies of civilians, including children and babies, are not solely

consistent with burns caused by a fire.


And a lot of questions that still need to be answered.

Oren, I want to bring you into this discussion as well, because the reality, the IDF and Israel have had to conduct so many different

investigations into errors over the last eight months.


And we can think of many examples.

Just this year, when does it become a red line for the United States as they have to investigate some of these very tragic incidents that we're

seeing playing out over this period?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm not sure we've seen an incident where the U.S. has independently investigated an incident or an

accident or an event that the Israelis have already investigated.

And that's because the U.S. largely relies on Israel to carry out its own investigations. And generally at least according to the statements we've

heard from both the Biden administration and U.S. officials they tend to believe that these investigations are credible.

That they, the Israelis have done a thorough job of investigating what happened here, at least as of right now, there is no attempt to investigate

this independently from the United States, according to a U.S. official and they will wait to see what the Israeli investigation turns up.

Now does that violate the U.S.' and President Joe Biden's red line?

We haven't heard a definitive answer on that but it's worth pointing out that Biden's red line was about an Israeli grounded incursion into Rafah.

And that red line was there because of the harm to civilians.

Now even if we haven't seen a large-scale ground incursion into Rafah, although according to eyewitnesses, we have seen tanks in central Rafah, we

have now seen exactly what the Biden administration was trying to avoid.

Trying to make sure that the Israelis didn't cause, which is civilian casualties on a large scale and humanitarian catastrophe. So even if we

haven't heard about a specific incident like this that the administration was looking for, this is the exact cause and consequence of an Israeli


A strike that the administration was desperately trying to prevent. And yet here we are. A spokesperson for the White House is -- or rather for the

National Security Council called this heartbreaking and made it clear at least for now the U.S. sees the blame and the responsibility here.

The devastating images following the IDF strike in Rafah last night that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians are heartbreaking.

Does the U.S. choose to take any additional measures from this point on?

That will be a key question throughout the day today as the U.S. waits for more information from the Israelis on how this all unfolded and how so many

Palestinians, including women and children, are now dead.

GIOKOS: And Oren, as you say here's the reality: very densely populated area, people that were displaced, very difficult to move.

And of course, Jeremy, we've spoken about those. President Biden had been warning about this very thing. The ICJ also put out that interim order. So,

Jeremy, we've been, talking about this red line and what it basically means going forward.

And we've just seen the eyewitness reports coming through on these Israeli military tanks in central Gaza as well. Daniel Hagari didn't give any

information on that.

But then what would that mean for this military operation that seems to have gained momentum at this point despite this deadly strike?

DIAMOND: Yes, I mean, this -- the sighting of Israeli tanks in central Rafah is certainly the furthest west that we have seen this Israeli

military operation in that city advance. so far.

And remember when President Biden talked about what would be his red line, he was talking about a kind of all-out Israeli military offensive that

would go into the center of the most densely populated part of the city.

So this is a fair question to ask as to whether or not this crosses that red line for him. What we should note of course, is the fact that nearly 1

million Palestinians who were living in Rafah have evacuated so far, most of those in eastern Rafah where the Israeli military has issued evacuation


But also in parts of central Rafah, even before the Israeli military advanced there. There was a sense of fear and panic spreading throughout

the city that pushed people even in the central or even in the western part of the city to begin to head north in anticipation and out of fear of a

potentially larger Israeli military offensive.

So for now what we know is that it appears that there are Israeli tanks in the central downtown part of Rafah already. And the question now of course,

turns to Washington and to the White House in terms of how that tracks with their red line that the president set out and whether or not this will have

any ramifications.

GIOKOS: Jeremy Diamond, Oren Liebermann thank you so much for breaking that information down because we just heard from the IDF first time since

that strike that we saw in Rafah of course, a fast moving story for us. Thank you so much to both of you.

I want to move over in Brussels. E.U. foreign ministers discussed on Monday sanctioning Israel if the country does not comply with humanitarian law.

Ireland's foreign minister Micheal Martin, spoke after the meeting. I want you to take a listen.


MICHEAL MARTIN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER AND FORMER TAOISEACH, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: For the first time as a new meeting in a real way, I've seen a

significant discussion on sanctions.


There is a lot of concern there now across the E.U. meeting, E.U. Council and member states in respect of what is a clear situation, where the

International Court of Justice have ruled, have made provisional orders. And the E.U. has always upheld the independence of that court and the need

food for nations to comply with it.


GIOKOS: So sanctions, it seems is a discussion that has begun. But from what we understand, still something that is at discussion phase and will

not be implemented anytime soon.

We're now handing over to Erica Hill. She's standing by in New York.

It's a big day for Donald Trump.

What is going on on the ground there, Erica?

HILL: Yes, certainly is, Eleni. So we are now in the first of two closing arguments, which jury will be hearing today.

The defense is up first in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial here, making its final pitch to the jury. Todd Blanche, who is, of course, the

former president's lead attorney, speaking right now to the jury.

And beginning his closing argument today by really slamming Michael Cohen's testimony as, quote, "lies, pure and simple," telling the jury they cannot

convict Trump on the words of Michael Cohen. CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz is following all of this for us.

We're seeing some updates there but Todd Blanche really trying to hammer home, in fact, going so far as saying all of these bookings were accurate,

talking about the way that these items were recorded, which, of course, is what underscores these 34 felony counts.

And saying that the former president had, in his words, absolutely no intent to defraud. That's going to be key for the jury as they get their

instructions later.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What Todd Blanche is doing is he's distancing Donald Trump from these hush money

payments. And he's denying the things that people testified to on the witness stand over this seven week trial.

So far, he has hammered home the point that the defense really wants to make to the jury, Michael Cohen lied to you. That is the words of this

defense attorney in his closing arguments.

Michael Cohen being that personal attorney to Donald Trump, who testified that he was getting reimbursed for the payments he was making to Stormy

Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet.

Trump knew that it was fraud to reimburse Cohen in the way that he did on the books, calling it a legal expense when it was not. And the Donald Trump

at that time was making those reimbursements out of a political motivation to protect his presidential campaign in 2016.

That is a large part of the defense case undercutting Michael Cohen's testimony since he is the closest witness to these payments. He's clearly

the star witness for the prosecutors here. Many other witnesses fleshed out how he was untrustworthy as a person but also how he was in contact with

Trump and doing this work on his behalf.

The other point the defense is making in this three-hour or so closing argument that we still have quite a bit of time left in, is that they keep

saying, Todd Blanche keeps underlining for the jury that the evidence just isn't there.

The prosecutors were relying so far on books that Donald Trump wrote decades ago to tell the jury about his character and that the evidence that

was presented in this case about these payments, about Donald Trump's intent to commit a crime, that, he says, the evidence should leave you

wanting more. It's just not there.

And the defense is asking the jury not to convict the former president in this first criminal trial, Erica.

HILL: As you mentioned, things just getting started. Kaitlan, we have a long day ahead of us but ticking things off with some excitement and

perhaps some expected lines there. Appreciate it as always. My friend. Thank you.

Michael Zeldin also joins me this hour. He's a former federal prosecutor, also worked at the U.S. Justice Department.

Michael as you're watching here, we are -- I've heard from a number of attorneys yourself included a successful closing argument. You're really

going to have a frame that you come back to. You're going to hammer home a point to the jury as Katelyn Polantz is laying out here.

Part of that point that we're hearing from Todd Blanche is there's really nothing to see here. The prosecution has not presented the evidence that it

needs to. This is a documents case and they haven't shown that.

What do you expect the prosecution to respond with?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think they will go through methodically all of the evidence that rebuts, what Todd Blanche's tried to

say. Blanche is putting Michael Cohen on trial.

He saying this guy is a liar and, because he's a lawyer, my client is innocent and that the documents they put forward, the retainer agreement

and the like, are not credible.

I think what the prosecutor has to do and will do -- and it's interesting that they get to go second here, not normal in federal courtrooms -- is to

say, let's go through the evidence that Todd Blanche says doesn't exist and we'll show you that it exists.


It exists in this form. It exists in this form, it existed in this form. And all of those forms that we're showing you, the documents, were

corroborated by other witnesses, so you don't have to like or even principally rely on Michael Cohen.

This is about Donald Trump and his behavior via -- vis-a-vis the Trump Organization.

HILL: As you pointed out, not typical in federal court for the defense to go first. But it is in New York state.

And this is in your court. The judge even actually taking a moment to say that, to lay that out for the jury, to let them know this is the way it

works in New York, despite the fact that Donald Trump was railing about that on social media.

When you look at that, right, and the way that things are structured here, the arguments -- I was fascinated that you would always do your closing

argument first as an attorney and continue going back to that, because you need to make sure that you are essentially making that argument throughout

the case.

And you also liken it to the way a song is structured. Tell me more about that.

ZELDIN: So I always have thought that you tell somebody something once. You tell him twice. And the third time they get it.

And so I've always, as you said, Erica, I wrote my closing arguments first and then I tried to marshal the evidence across the trial to allow me to

make that argument. And in my arguments, I always had a theme like, listen to what they're not saying.

Or is this credible? Is this believable?

And I would say, here's a piece of evidence. Is it believable the defendant didn't know about this?

Here's a piece of evidence. Is it believable, that?

So I would constantly go back to that refrain to the jury, if you will. If it were a Broadway play, they'd walk out of the Broadway play singing

"Tomorrow" or whatever the hit song of that play is.

I want to come back into that jury room saying, it's not credible. I heard this. It's not credible. That's the theme that I want to hammer home during

the course of my closing.

HILL: It's also about -- and I think anybody who's watched a legal drama would see a little bit of this.

But even in the real world in a courtroom, it's also about really putting this on the jury and empowering them in many ways, right?

Almost building them up and saying, you're too smart to believe some of this. Use your common sense. You guys know better. That's key to a

successful closing argument.

ZELDIN: I think so and I think what Todd Blanche is doing, which I find a bit problematic, is he is saying, I'm telling you this. And if I'm the

prosecutor, I'm going to say to them, I'm going to ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, to think about it this way and reach your own

determination based on what I've laid out to you.

I'd like to empower, as you said, the jury to make its own decision rather than tell them this is what must be. I always found that was not as

effective way to approach a jury that way.

HILL: As you've been watching all this unfold over the last several weeks, do you believe based on what you've seen that the prosecution has perhaps

followed the Michael Zeldin playbook there?

And is really --



HILL: -- doing a good job or as of threading through what we expect to hear in that closing argument, of leaving the jury with this constant

refrain in their head?

ZELDIN: I think so.

I think that the prosecutor has put on a solid case. That's not to say they'll convict. They could very well end up with a juror who hangs this

jury. I don't think I'd be surprised if they get a verdict of not guilty. But you never know with juries, that's the wonderful thing about the jury


But I do think the prosecutor has pretty systematically laid out the case, that it is incredible that Donald Trump, the micromanaging sort of penny

pinching guy he is, would be writing $400,000 worth of checks to Michael Cohen, $35,000 a month, without him knowing what was behind those payments.

And I think that's where you'll get this refrain of, does it make any sense to you, ladies and gentlemen, that this person, who has been presented by

his most favorable witnesses, Hope Hicks and the like, would not know about this?

And I think that they have a good chance of getting conviction but we'll see.

HILL: All right.

Michael, appreciate it as always.

Stay with us. We're back after a quick break here. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.





GIOKOS: Welcome back.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Portugal is welcoming Volodymyr Zelenskyy just hours after the Ukrainian president was in Belgium. There he signed a bilateral agreement worth more

than $1 billion. The deal includes 30 F-16 fighter jets, tanks and military training for troops, with a pledge for more assistance over the next


Meantime, E.U. defense ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss European support for Ukraine. Joining me now, we've got CNN's Melissa Bell

live from Paris.

Melissa, good to see you.

A lot of meetings and it seems that President Zelenskyy is getting a little bit of what he actually wants. He's always saying that he needs more. But

give me a sense of how these aid packages are going down.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's certainly on this European tour doing well in terms of getting aid through the bilateral

agreements that have been announced.

The one with Spain, for instance, that will allow 1 billion euros worth of Spanish military aid to be delivered to Kyiv; Belgians, those 30 F-16s that

are to be delivered by 2028 as part of that nearly 1 billion euro package, just under 1 billion.

Now of course, is important illusion announcements.

What announcements will be made there?

But these are the sorts of bilateral agreements that had been called for by the G7 last year and that have allowed Kyiv to receive substantial aid.

And specifically, I think it's important given what's happening in the north country this has been part of President Zelenskyy's message since the

opening of that third front to the north of Kharkiv, the need for support with air defenses.

That was a substantial part of what was announced by Spain. And of course, the delivery of these F-16s by Belgium will also play an important part in

what he's been calling for.

But it's more important because that ministers' meeting, defense ministers' meeting at the E.U. level is, of course, happening in the context of

another example of European, E.U. money that is now being blocked by Hungary.

So this is aside from those bilateral agreements. It is 7 billion euros -- dollars, I'm sorry -- that have been blocked by veto of Hungary on Monday.

This is what Josep Borrell, the head of the E.U., different the E.U.'s different diplomacy chief, had to say about the need to get the money to



JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & SECURITY POLICY: Anybody knows what Ukraine needs yesterday the ministers put in a

first, an issue post today. Minister (INAUDIBLE) will remind us which are the critical need for the Ukrainians.

So we had to provide them. And we have the resources, that's the sad thing, that we have the cash. We have the capacity but we are still pending

decisions to implement the recently approved Ukraine assistance.


BELL: Now E.U. ambassadors will continue talks on Wednesday in the hope of unblocking this latest impasse.

But remember, Eleni, that we'd seen a similar thing back in December when Hungary had blocked a $50 billion transfer of European military aid that

was due to Kyiv in the end. With much wrangling, it got through.

But it's an important reminder of how useful and crucial these bilateral packages are between European capitals and Ukraine at this critical time.

And I think what is important about President Zelenskyy's visit now is the context in which it happens.

Where with all lies now in what's happening to the north of Kharkiv and fears that this might mark a turning point for Russia in its favor in terms

of momentum along several of the fronts.


The Ukrainians are now seeking to defend. The European lines are shifting also in terms of the debate that's going on about whether European gifted

weaponry should be used against Russian targets.

That's something that Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, is calling for. Another line that appears to be shifting is the question of

whether or not Western boots might find themselves on Ukrainian soil, with the French confirming that discussions are ongoing with Ukraine about the

possibility that military personnel may be sent.

And they're looking at Ukrainian needs, they say, to Ukraine to help with training there. So these are important lines that are shifting behind the

scenes of this visit happening at this critical time.

GIOKOS: Yes. Very interesting. I mean, I think conversations that wouldn't be had when this all started. So really interesting to see how this is

evolving. Melissa Bell, great to have you on. Thank you.

Nearly 15 million people in the U.S. are at risk for severe weather today. The storms could bring damaging winds and hail and possibly even more


Already this morning, powerful winds and large hail have knocked out power to more than 0.5 million Dallas area residents; 83 mile an hour gusts and

hail reported to be the size of ping-pong balls.

Check out new aerial of video of a tornado here. The damaged various parts of Oklahoma, where people died, two people died, and several others were

injured in storms. Sunday was the most active severe storm day of the year with at least 14 tornadoes reported and 23 deaths in five states.



GIOKOS: And still to come, closing arguments are now underway in the criminal trial that could land former president Trump in prison. The

defense slamming their prosecution's star witness as a liar, the latest in a moment from outside the court. Stay with CNN.




HILL: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Erica Hill, just a little bit past half the hour now. Right now, Donald Trump's attorney has lead

attorney Todd Blanche delivering closing arguments in the criminal hush money trial here in New York City.

It's a final pitch, of course, to the jury before their deliberations begin, the prosecution's closing argument will follow once the defense has

finished. And we're expecting that defense closing argument to last anywhere from two-and-a-half to three hours.

Largely what we've heard so far, expected, really zeroing in on Michael Cohen and the fact that, according to Todd Blanche, the former president's

attorney, he is a liar and these are, in the words of Blanche, lies, pure and simple in terms of Cohen's testimony.

CNN national correspondent Brynn Gingras is live outside the courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

So Todd Blanche going after Michael Cohen as was expected but also really hitting back at the evidence, saying the prosecution simply hasn't done

their job. Brynn.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes that's right, you're right.

He's really kind of outlining some of the evidence that was presented in court through the prosecution's witnesses and trying to sow reasonable

doubt into these jurors' minds.

You're right. He hit about Michael Cohen many times. He seems to be continuing to do that, also hitting on some of the people who the

prosecutions say was a part of this big conspiracy to silence these women with these hush money payments, to basically influence the 2016 election.


And he's talking about how some of these people who were part of this prosecution's story, basically in his words, they didn't testify.

He said, if you really wanted to hear from Allen Weisselberg or Don Jr. or Eric Trump when it came to signing checks, how come they weren't called to

the stand?

In fact, Eric Trump, Don Jr., Tiffany Trump, her husband, they are all actually inside the courtroom supporting their father today with a lot of

lawmakers. And on the prosecution side, we have Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney. He's also in the courtroom along with a lot of other

attorneys within the prosecution.

The district attorney's office, I should say. So. It was a pretty packed courtroom as we're continuing to listen to these arguments from the

defense, the final summation of their case.

One of the quotes I did want to point out to you that Todd Blanche said to these jurors, is there was no evidence that president Trump knew anything

about this voucher system, no evidence, not a single word. If the government reads two quotes from a book, you should be suspicious. That's a

red flag.

And that's kind of what he's doing. Again, trying to put reasonable doubt into these jurors' minds because remember, he just needs one of them to say

that Trump is not guilty. And basically the juror is not in agreement.

I do want to paint the picture for you, Erica, before I go back to what we're seeing outside. There's actually a news conference that's happening

from the Biden-Harris campaign and that is just feet away from a bunch of Trump's supporters, who are very rowdy.

So it's getting a little intense out here. We actually saw some barricades be delivered here this morning, getting ready for some possible protests,

depending how this verdict goes.

HILL: It's so interesting because, Brynn, you've been down there since the very beginning. I spent a lot of those first few weeks right there next to

you, alongside you outside the courthouse.

We did see smaller groups for the most part, except for a couple of days, smaller groups of mostly Donald Trump supporters.

But the fact that there are folks from the Biden-Harris campaign, that's certainly a new twist here.

GINGRAS: Yes, we actually have never seen any sort of news conference from the Biden campaign. Yet, Robert De Niro is here with them to the officers

that were basically beat up during the January 6 incident like that. They are also here talking. So this is the first time we've actually seen them

talk. We've seen many people on Trump's side come out here and of course, rail against this entire trial.

But it is a bit dueling at this moment and before that, I should mention, Erica, just getting into the closing arguments, that there were people who

slept in tents from the public who wanted to be inside for those closing arguments.

And then today there was a line, as you know, from being down here, wrapped around this really part of this park. So this is a big moment, of course.

We now what the closing argument is and it's important to point out that the judge does hope to actually have those wrapped up by today.

All right. Even asking the jury and telling them they may need to stay a little bit later past 4:30 to get that all done today, we will see if they

can fit it in for today. Brynn, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Stay with us. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Much more news just on the other side of this break. This is CNN.





GIOKOS: Welcome back.

Now developing this morning a manhunt is underway for two inmates who broke out of a Louisiana prison. Four inmates escaped over the weekend, three of

whom are facing murder charges before two were recaptured yesterday.

Officials admitted the jail was not aware of the escape until a concerned citizen contacted the warden. Ryan Young is following this story for us and

all developments from Atlanta.

Ryan great to see you.

Could you give us an update on how the search is going for these inmates?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you almost can't make this up when you think about the details to this story. They did not know the men had

escaped until someone gave them a call to let them know that the men had escaped.

And that was the first two. Later on, two men also escaped after they figured out the first two were successful.

Look at the pictures of the two men who are still (INAUDIBLE). We want to get that up there just in case there's a chance that someone sees one of

these men because obviously there's still an escape.

But just explain to you what happened. On Saturday, for what we're told, two men hid. Not only did they hide, they were able to get under a fence.

There's not a great barrier there and, at some point, they were able to hop two other fences, get through some razor wire and escape.

Someone called the sheriff's department, told them that the men had escape, then before they even did another head count, the two other men escaped.

And get this, three of the men were there because of murder charges.

So these are serious offenders who were on the run. I can tell you two men have been captured. They were found hiding in a dumpster behind a Dollar

General. But take a listen to the sheriff's department talk about this escape.


CHIEF JIMMY TRAVIS, TANGIPAHOA SHERIFF'S OFFICE: If the wall wouldn't have had a gap in it, you would have never been able to get over the wall or

under the wall. If the fence wouldn't have had the corrosion where they were able to take and physically break the wire and work it loose, you

wouldn't have been able to get to the wall to go under it.


YOUNG: Yes. Just a series of excuses but also a realization that they have some security issues there. They're going to add more razor wire apparently

to this jail.

But the idea that a count was not done, where they even knew the men were missing for quite some time, it's something that is very concerning,

especially to the folks in the neighborhood.

They no longer believed they're even in the area anymore; the first two men who were captured were found some 15 miles away. But this is a complete

head-scratcher. Put on top of that they said there was not enough staffing at the jail to make sure everyone was safe.

You put all this together, you have two men who were on the loose, one of them obviously a murder suspect. A lot of questions. The sheriffs

department at least doing that news conference.

But you've got to figure out when they're going to be able to fill those gaps in this security system, so you have no one else getting out of that

jail anytime soon.

GIOKOS: Yes, it sounds like an easy prison break, frankly. And as you -- to your points, they didn't even know they were gone. Really fascinating

story, Ryan --


YOUNG: -- no, when you think about it, right, when you have "The Shawshank Redemption" or something like that, they just kind of walked out.

GIOKOS: Yes, I mean, that's what it sounds like. It's pretty crazy. Well, hopefully the extra barbed wire will work on, yes, clamping things down.

All right. Ryan, good to have you on.

I want to get you up to speed on some other stories that are on our radar right now. At least 36 people have died in India and Bangladesh after

tropical cyclone Remal made landfall on Sunday.

Torrential rain and strong winds have wreaked havoc, damaging more than 150,000 homes while uprooted power lines have left millions without


At least 160 people are missing and 10 others were killed after two suspected Boko Haram militants raided a remote village in north central

Nigeria. A local official told CNN that around 300 gunmen went unchallenged for hours.

Forty-one people remained in hospital following the extreme turbulence on last week's Singapore Airlines flight from London, that is according to

hospital officials in Bangkok, where the plane was forced to land. At least five patients are still in intensive care.

North Korea has once again tried to send an alleged spy satellite into orbit but it didn't go so well. State media announced that the rocket

carrying the satellite exploded during the first stage of flight. CNN's Will Ripley has the details.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: North Korea putting the world on edge, attempting to launch a suspected military spy satellite for

the second time in six months.

North Korean state media says the rocket exploded during the first stage of launch, sounding emergency sirens on Okinawa, Japan. That alert later



Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK appears to show a shining orange dot flying in the sky and bursting into flames.

Japan's Coast Guard got advanced warning from Pyongyang of an eight-day launch window ending June 4th, rocket debris potentially falling in three

locations near the Korean peninsula and the Philippines island of Luzon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The so-called satellite launch that North Korea announced today is a clear violation of U.N. Security

Council resolutions and the international community should respond firmly.

RIPLEY (voice-over): South Korean and U.S. intelligence closely monitoring North Korea's satellite launch site. Kim Jong-un was there in November when

North Korea successfully launched its first spy satellite after two failed attempts last year.

Experts warn spy satellites give Pyongyang valuable intelligence on South Korean and U.S. military assets in the region, potentially making missile

strikes more accurate.

The latest launch announcement as Japan, South Korea and China hold their first summit in nearly five years, a meeting overshadowed by North Korea's

latest moves.

Pyongyang says Kim is preparing to host Russian President Vladimir Putin soon, a sign of deepening diplomatic and military ties.

What analysts call Kim's strategic pivot away from U.S. diplomacy, five years since summit talks with former President Donald Trump fell apart.

JO BEE-YUN, ASSOCIATE RESEARCH FELLOW, KOREA INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES: North Korea is interested more in engaging the so-called Moscow

friendly network of countries. For instance, Iran.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Like Iran, Pyongyang is selling weapons to Putin. Ukraine says North Korean missiles have killed and injured dozens this


Giving North Korea valuable real-world data on the accuracy of its missiles, made with recently produced U.S. and European parts, a U.K. think

tank says.

At their meeting in Russia last year, Kim said, "I will always be standing with Russia." Putin promised to help Kim's satellite program.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The leader of North Korea shows great interest in space and rocketry. We'll show them our

new objects.

RIPLEY (voice-over): An alliance the U.S. warns could see Russia, providing critical ballistic missile technology to North Korea, further

destabilizing the region and the world.

RIPLEY: North Korean state media is reporting initial analysis suggests a newly developed liquid fuel rocket motor may be the cause of this midair

explosion, although other causes are also being investigated.

We do know that the North Koreans learn a lot from these failures. Sometimes even more than from successful launches.

And Kim Jong-un has already announced plans to launch three more military spy satellites this year, part of a military modernization program, which

means North Korea is undoubtedly going to try this again -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


GIOKOS: Well, next, new controversy at the Vatican over reports the pope used an anti-gay slur. We'll look at the allegations and the reactions.

Stay with CNN.




GIOKOS: Welcome back. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.


New developments to us in the past hour. The Vatican says, the pope has apologized to those who felt offended following reports he used an antigay

slur. Two Italian newspapers say Pope Francis made the comments while meeting bishops last week.

The pope has previously instructed bishops not to accept gay men for priesthood. But in a new statement, the Vatican insists the church welcomes

everyone. CNN's Vatican correspondent Christopher Lamb is on the story for us.

Christopher, gives us the latest. We've heard the Vatican's response. The pope has apologized.

But is the damage already done?

CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: The reports that the pope made these remarks, that using an offensive anti-gay slang word during

meeting with Italian bishops, has caused a real stir.

Now the pope allegedly reportedly made these remarks when he was talking to the Italian bishops about whether to admit gay men to the priesthood. And

Francis has consistently said that's not possible.

But the statement from the Vatican says, and I quote, in concerning the slang word, the pope is reported to views that, "The pope never intended to

offend or express himself in homophobic terms. And he extends his apologies to those who felt offended by the use of this -- of a term as reported by


Now the statement also says that the pope has consistently insisted that the church must welcome everyone, including everyone as they are. Of

course, this has been the pope's consistent message during his pontificate, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ Catholics.

Francis said early on, "Who am I to judge," when it came to gay priests. He has offered the possibility of blessings for same-sex couples and called

for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

And so this is why his reported remarks really did cause huge surprise. It has been reported the pope was not fully aware of how offensive the term he

used was, of course, Italian, which he was speaking during the meet -- the language he was speaking during the meeting to the Italian bishops.

Italian is not his first language but the pope, by authorizing the issue of the -- issuing of the statement has shown he is someone willing to

apologize for his mistakes and he clearly felt the need to do so, given this story was threatening to undermine the work that he's done to offer a

welcome to gay Catholics during his pontificate.

GIOKOS: Yes. Christopher Lamb, thank you so much. Good to see you.

We're now going to go back to New York. We've got Erica Hill standing by on the Trump hush money trial.

And, of course, closing arguments -- Erica.

HILL: Yes, let's get you up to speed here, Eleni, and where things stand in this closing argument. The defense of course, in the middle of that

closing argument.

From their side right now, just a reminder here, Donald Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up that $130,000 hush money payment to

adult film star Stormy Daniels. That payment was made before the 2016 election.

The records that were allegedly falsified, that came a little bit later. He is, of course, the first former U.S. president to be there in a criminal

trial facing charges. He's denied those charges. CNN's Brynn Gingras covering this very closely for us.

Brynn, what more are we hearing from the defense at this point as to why they are telling the jury nothing to see here?

GINGRAS: That's right. Yes. I mean, right now, Todd Blanche, the lead defense counsel for president Trump is kind of going through the working of

the "National Enquirer," trying to tell jurors it really, if Trump was trying to influence an election and needed the help of some sort of

publication, it wouldn't be the "National Enquirer."

There's one quote I wanted to pull out, prior to him getting into this argument, Todd Blanche said to jurors, "Every campaign in this country is

conspiracy to promote a candidate, a group of people working together to help somebody you win, you have to find that this effort was done by

unlawful means."

Of course that is what brings these charges against former president Trump from a misdemeanor to a felony.

What was his intent?

Did he try to make these payments in order to influence the 2016 election?

That is what prosecutors need to prove. Now as we said before, the defense says they want to take about 2.5-3 hours. They're about an hour and almost

a half into their closing arguments. Reporting from our colleagues is that Todd Blanche does not want to go over that limit. He does not want jurors

to lose interest.

And he also wanted to get plenty of time for the prosecution to make its closing arguments and not go into another day of the prosecution giving

those arguments for the jurors to think about. He really wanted to make sure that jury instructions can begin tomorrow.

So we'll see if that happens. It's likely, because the judge did say that he would like to finish those up today, with keeping jurors a little bit

later today, so that jury instructions can begin tomorrow.


One thing also, the judge said before closing arguments even begin today was jurors, rather lawyers should not go into the law with these jurors and

the closing arguments. He says that is my job. That is what we will talk about when he gives those jury instructions.

Remember those jury instructions were a big debate last week with these lawyers, before court ended for the week, negotiating wordings and bits and

pieces of those jury instructions, how jurors are going to be able to interpret the law and put it all to the evidence that was in front of them.

That's going to take about an hour once the judge gets to it. And then, of course, deliberations after that. So we're still in defense arguments right

now. After that, of course, are the closing arguments for the prosecution likely to come a little bit later today.

HILL: All right.

And we'll be watching and follow those updates along with you, Brynn. Thank you.

And thanks to all of you for joining us this hour. This is CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Erica Hill in New York. Stay with CNN. "NEWSROOM" is up next.