Return to Transcripts main page

Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Trial Day 1: No Jurors Picked, Half Say They Can't Be Fair; Israel Versus Iran; Truth Social Stock Plunges. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 15, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, Trump hunting for one holdout as more than half of the potential jurors today are out, saying that cannot be fair and impartial. So who is left? We're going to break this down for you.

And it's not if but when Israel will retaliate against Iran. The region is on edge tonight as Iran warns, don't cross any red lines. A special report on what's happening inside Iran tonight coming up.

Plus, Truth Social shares plunging today. Hundreds of millions of dollars erased from the company's market value as Trump followers keep buying up shares.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the hunt for Trump's jury, his criminal jury. And we are down to 32 to potential jurors from this morning's 96. And tonight, the first-ever criminal trial of a former president is officially underway.

Now, Trump is required to be there every single day. In fact, he can actually be jailed for contempt if he doesn't show up.

And today when the judge read him those rules, he was emotionless as he agreed. According to "The New York Times", he actually chuckled when the judge told jurors that he will ensure a fair trial, then when he left the courtroom, he went to the cameras to speak out about it.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a scam. It's a political witch hunt. It continues and it continues forever.

And we're not going to be given a fair trial.


BURNETT: Well, as to a fair trial, the jurors in that room seemed to take their duty as citizens deeply seriously. Trump, according to "The Times" appeared irritated throughout the day, paying a lot of attention during jury selection, but did appear to doze off a few times this morning before jury selection began.

But then we know Trump. Turn to watch as that first group entered the courtroom and that was around 2:30 Eastern Time today. Many prospective jurors in the back row stretch their necks, lifted their head. They were trying to get a look at the former president.

One woman giggled. Our pool reporter was saying, putting her hand over our mouth, looking at the person next to her with raised eyebrows. The reality of it is this, there were 96 possible jurors initially brought into that room, and at least 50 raise their hands when asked specifically about whether they would be biased are not able to be impartial.

They said that they couldn't be. And that's honesty. And, of course, Trump only needs one juror to vote against conviction to win. And even based on how Manhattan voted in the last election, as our Harry Enten has pointed out, a random group of 12 Manhattanites would include a Trump supporter that you'd like to think this is not what a jury is going to come down to, but its still important to point out in the context of the words from the former president.

And here are some of what we do know about the jurors who were excused today. One potential juror was heard in the hallway saying I just couldn't do it while leaving the courtroom. A few others were excused due to personal conflicts. So now you say, what do we know about the 32 remaining, some of whom might actually be on the final jury?

Well, here's a little bit of what we know. We know there's a woman among them who told the court she lives in midtown Manhattan, married without children, works in business development for a venture capital firm, says she likes going to restaurants in the city. Another woman living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan married without children. She works in city government so she likes cooking, artwork, and going to shows.

And then there was a man in Midtown Manhattan. He says he's married with a child and works as a creative director telling the court he enjoys hiking and cooking. All three to get their news, they say from "The New York Times" and CNN, and two also listed "The Wall Street Journal" and Google. Now that is -- that is a Manhattan standard operating procedure on people, but that's what we know so far.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT outside the courthouse.

And, Paula, I know I was there with you today and now, you've gotten even more information here as those jurors left the room. Trump making some false statements outside of court where you are about what the judge will and won't allow him to do.

So what's the reality of the situation?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, it was kind of surprising. After everything that had happened today, what Trump was focused on when he walked out of the court was the fact that he is required as a criminal defendant to attend every day of these proceedings unless he is granted a waiver. And once he walked out of the courtroom, he repeatedly claimed that the judge is preventing him from attending his son Barron's high school graduation.

The problem, Erin, is that the judge hasn't ruled on that issue. The judge said he can't rule on that at this time, but that didn't stop one of Trump's adult sons from amplifying that falsehood on social media.

Now, Trump's lawyers also asked if their client could get a waiver for next Thursday. The Supreme Court arguments on whether Trump has presidential immunity to shield him, and one of his three other criminal cases, the federal election subversion case.


But there, the judge did rule and he said that he will see Trump back here in New York next Thursday. He said, look, there's no requirement for you to be at the Supreme Court argument, but you are required to be here as a criminal defendant.

So I think this is going to be a pet issue for the former president, something were going to hear a lot about as he tries to continue to frame themselves as the victim of an unfair system.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely and fastening, Paula, of course, part of the reason maybe no ruling yet on his son's graduation is they don't know whether the trial will still be going on when his son, Barron, graduates from high school.

All right. Thank you very much, Paula.

And I've got are OUTFRONT experts here are going to be covering this trial with us.

I want to begin with Robert Hirschhorn, though a jury consultant.

And, Robert, I know you've got four decades of experience, the William Kennedy Smith rape trial, George Zimmerman trial. So you've been doing this a long time.

You get 96, this is the first group, right? They're going to keep going by groups of about 100 until they're able to seat the full jury of 12 and then alternate.

You are actually surprised that only 50 percent of the potential jurors are a little bit over, were let go because they couldn't be fair?

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, JURY CONSULTANT: I was, Erin. And thanks for having me back on the show. You did a great job today reporting from outside the courthouse.

Yeah, because Trump keeps talking about how he can't get a fair trial and out of the first 96, there were only 50 that was excused. I would have expected more like 75 or 80 that would have said they'd formed an opinion. So maybe saying for the camera, he can't get a fair trial. But, Erin, I think the man can.

BURNETT: You think he can.

HIRSCHHORN: Yes, he can.

BURNETT: And Mimi, obviously, Westchester D.A., do you agree with that, too, from what you from what we saw today? And more than half of them immediately raised their hands.

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER PROSECUTOR SDNY: Yeah, I do agree with that. It's a little bit of a look at this glass half empty or half full. And I was looking at this as half-full that there are first of all, that so many people were presumably honest. I'm sure there's some people that just wanted to get off because serving on any jury is burdensome for people.

But presumably a lot of them are honest and that's how were going to get to a fair and impartial jury. And I say that not just based on this case or what happened today, but really based on 20 years of watching juries, Joey Jackson may have a different view, but I think that when the judge instructs people that whatever your personal beliefs, you have to put that aside and decide this case based on the evidence in the courtroom and that only.

I -- call me sentimental, but I believe that that has quite an impact on jurors.

BURNETT: Yeah, people get sworn in as they were today for that.

So, Joey, what do you think? Obviously, you've done this for a long time as well, a jury selection. You also know Judge Merchan, who is obviously the judge in the case.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. I think he's a person of great competence and of great faith. I think that'll be important as we move forward.

But look, here's what I view. I think today the system worked and why do I say that? Yes, I'm a defense attorney one everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. We can agree to that.

But the reality is, is that this judge has been really gone out of his way to be fair. Why? Generally speaking, when you have prosecutors and defense attorneys in a courtroom and people say I can't be fair. The judge says, come here, let me talk to you then in speaking with that person in essence rehabilitates them to get them on the jury.

This judge said, look, to any person who does that because I want to have abundant caution for the fairness of this trial, what I'm going to do is to just excuse them. And so I think that's a system that works.

And how else does it work, Erin? It works because in addition to those that are excused because they noted they can't be fair and have bias, you have these challenges for cause. What does that mean in English? It means that of jurors can be fair in an unlimited fashion. If you could demonstrate that they have some kind of bias based on further questioning they will be excused as well.

And so I do believe that in essence, you're going to have a fair jury and impartial jury who will be able to adjudicate this case on the merits in the courtroom as they see it.

BURNETT: And what did you notice from the former president today as he watched, we know we understood maybe in the preamble to the jury selection, he may have dozed off a couple of times, but when the jury walked in, it appears he was very, very focused.

ERIK LARSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS LEGAL REPORTER: He was focused at the very start when he and his lawyers stood up and were introduced to the group of 96 people. But I do have to say that as that process itself dragged on, Trump did continue to look a little bit perhaps bored, he closed his eyes again. I wouldn't say he was necessarily asleep, but it's a long process. It's along day for everyone involved.

But tomorrow is going to be a full day of jury selection with each of these potential jurors being questions, probably throughout the entire day and that might keep his interest up a little bit more, especially if someone -- one of these jurors comes out as being pro-Trump.


He's gotten excited about that in pass trials, the E. Jean Carroll trial when they were identified.

BURNETT: And, of course, all he needs is one in this case because it's criminal, one juror to vote on his behalf.

LARSON: There could be an anti-Trump juror who votes --

BURNETT: Right. I mean, that's right to your point about seriously people take it.

Ryan, what about the timing here? I mean, now were one day in, we went through 96 people, 32 of them or come back tomorrow self to be questioned. And then there's another group of 100 that can keep feeding until you finish the selection. And that's just the selection

Originally, everyone thought this was done by Memorial Day, is it?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: It's hard to know. I mean, the judge did say that he expects the trial itself to take six weeks after the jury is seated. And now the big question is, how long it will take to seat a jury?

There was some speculation myself included that there might be people who really want to be on the jury and faster didn't seem to play out today. I didn't seem as though these individuals --

BURNETT: Hey, I thought there would be some people who would think there was a moment to be part of history, maybe there will be, but it wasn't the initial impact that you got from that. And, Robert, what did what did you make of what one thing that you saw in this courtroom? And I'm going to ask about the few jurors that we know of specifically who may still be on the case, but overall, this was a very diverse room, just like any group of 96 people in Manhattan is going to be and you think that's good for the defense?

HIRSCHHORN: I think it's good for both. Look, what's -- you're not guaranteed. A jury of the people you want on it, what you're guaranteed is that cross-section of the community that's who showed up. The people that expressed an initial opinion like Joey was saying that they can't be fair, they got excused.

There are still a couple more opportunities for those -- for more jurors to be excused for challenges for cause, which by the way are unlimited. There's no number. That peremptory strikes. Those are the ones that are ten.

But if a juror has a bias expresses any type of bias, that's called a challenge for cause. It's unlimited. So you've got the question that's going to go through each of the jurors. Then as I understand it, the jurors will be allowed to the lawyers be allowed to follow up with some of the jurors outside the presence in hearing of the other jurors. There's another opportunity to get a juror offered cause.

I'm telling you, Erin, it's going to take awhile to pick this jury. I wouldn't be surprised if it's three or four for weeks because, look, there's a lot of work that has to be done and they need a bunch of jurors.

BURNETT: Yeah, and they're not going to go on Wednesdays and I don't know exactly what's going to end up having with happening with Passover. But all of a sudden, when you talk about three to four weeks, you're not talking about 20 days. You're talking about a lot less than that.

So, Mimi, let me ask you about the people we do know. Again, there's 32 that may be on this jury. They're not all going to be with somebody might be.

But the ones that I gave the description of a woman. These are -- these are Manhattanites. Okay? A creative director married with a kid, an unmarried woman in city government loves going to shows, loves cooking. A woman in business development for a VC firm, venture capital firm married with no children, likes going to restaurants. All of them reads "New York Times" and CNN is news sources, yet none of them were struck basic, not just for that, right? I mean, so that gets into I guess the depth of the juror questionnaire there.

ROCAH: Yeah. I mean yes, there are many more questions on that questionnaire that will get to this bias that everybody is talking about. That would disqualify someone. And again, it's not just any bias that renders you incapable of being fair and impartial.

BURNETT: Right, which is different than coming in with an opinion, right?

ROCAH: Exactly.

BURNETT: It's whether you can set that opinion aside.

ROCAH: Yes. I mean, I've said this before, but, you know, I -- I had an investigation of the Trump Organization in my office. We did not bring charges. I've said this publicly before.

I have spoken very critically of former President Trump on a personal level about him as a president and as a candidate. I was able to put that aside when looking at evidence, right, and that's what we ask jurors to do. And again, there's something about I think you used the phrase in your opening about how seriously this jury potential jury is.

It's a big deal and when you take that oath and you're in that setting -- even in a state court which isn't as regal is maybe federal court. I think people that doesn't -- I mean, we have hung juries and they happen a lot because people aren't completely honest, don't put it aside, but I do have faith in the system

BURNETT: And could you read from anything about what the jury, how they were reacting?

LARSON: No, it's really just impossible to tell this point is a little too early. I think we got to get further along --

BURNETT: Just too many in the room to get a feel, yeah.

LARSON: Right, right. But I think that they'll definitely be able to find plenty who will be able to be non-biased as you point out, they usually do.

BURNETT: And in the room when they ask the question about bias and impartiality, did the hands shoot up, they kind of look around to see who else is hand was up. I'm curious about this moment.

LARSON: They all went up at once. I think everyone already knew that they the answer to that plan, that it was coming. There were a lot of the questionnaire included a lot of questions about bias and whether or not you could be fair.

So I think they saw it coming.


And I think that probably a lot of them know from TV or whatever that that's a way that you're immediately were going to be let off of the jury, and I think well probably see something similar tomorrow.

BURNETT: Right. As you get another hundred people.

JACKSON: Yeah, absolutely. And we'll see based upon the new pool, what they have to say, there'll be given the same opportunity to self- identify and say, hey, I can't be fair, I'm going to go and some will give the indication they can be. They'll be questioned. And just a really, really quick point. Yes, we can talk about the individual jurors, et cetera. I'm very against stereotypes. I'm against any biases as it relates to I like restaurants, I like movies. You have to probe, you have to ask questions, although you probably could discern based upon "New York Times", CNN, you can discern the leanings of some way, but it needs further probe --

BURNETT: And as we're saying, that's separate from how they may look at the case --

JACKSON: Without question.

BURNETT: -- just because they may come in, they may not be a Trump voter. Who knows? I'm not saying but you know. Okay. Doesn't mean you can't be fair and unbiased.

JACKSON: A thousand percent. And the judge will say repeatedly in the instructions, its not who you like, it's not who you dislike. Can you base it on the evidence in the court?

BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much to all as we continue to cover this.

As we said, there's going to be a whole another group coming in tomorrow in addition to the 32 that they still need to go through leftover from today. Well, next, is district attorney Alvin Bragg, right? This is the biggest test of his career.

A longtime friend and colleague of Bragg joins me next.

Plus, breaking news in the Middle East, Israel preparing to strike back against Iran's attack. Iran warning tonight of red lines. And secrecy at the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas mysteriously missing from the bench the court refusing tonight to say why.



BURNETT: Tonight, the face off. Former President Donald Trump and Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg were together in the same room today. The courtroom, Trump's disdain for the district attorney made clear as he left court tonight.


TRUMP: Sitting here all day with 10 or 12 prosecutors over nothing, over nothing, over what people say -- over what people say shouldn't be a trial.


BURNETT: Bragg says it is not about politics, so he's doing his job so what is the truth about the man at the center of this who was not named Donald Trump, Alvin Brag?

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alvin Bragg could be described as a man with a few notable first behind his name.


CARROLL: He's 50 years old and in 2022, she became the first Black Manhattan district attorney. And now he's the first to prosecute a criminal case involving a former us president, Donald Trump.

Bragg had a prestigious early start. He attended Trinity School, an elite private school on Manhattan's Upper West Side. But back in his neighborhood, he says he was often wrongly stopped by police as a teenager. He gave insight into his experiences during his campaign for office.

BRAGG: When I think about police accountability, I think about the NYPD stopping me three times at gunpoint as a kid. When think about violent crime, I think about having a knife to my neck a semi- automatic weapon to my head, and a homicide victim on my doorstep.

CARROLL: Bragg's interest in law started early. He graduated from Harvard law, a 1995 article in the Harvard Crimson credited him for moderating a discussion between Black and Jewish students, calling him the anointed one for his ability to reconcile diverse people and clashing views.

Braggs' resume lists a series of prestigious offices. He served as assistant attorney in the Southern District of New York, A top lawyer in the New York attorney generals office, a professor of the New York Law School Racial Justice Project. That's where he represented the family of Eric Garner. The family sued the city after a plain clothes officer put him in an unauthorized chokehold after he was caught selling loose cigarettes. Garner's death in 2014 sparked outrage and protests nationwide.

Bragg credits his interest in police reform to his years growing up here in Harlem, where he says once again, he was unfairly stopped by police as a child.

His mother was a teacher, his father, a social worker, according to "The New York Times".

And Bragg now taking on his highest profile case to date, his case against the former president underway.

BRAGG: These are felony crimes in New York state. No matter who you are, we cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.

CARROLL: Bragg, who is a Democrat making good on a campaign promise to make Trump a priority.

BRAGG: I'm ready to go wherever the facts take me. I believe we have to hold them accountable. CARROLL: Trump has called his trial political persecution and it has repeatedly directed his anger at Bragg, someone he's called an animal and a degenerate.

TRUMP: The racist Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg who is presiding over one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the United States.


CARROLL (on camera): It should be noted that Bragg's office has received racist threats. They've received threats of violence since taking on the case, but Bragg has remained committed to the case, Erin, saying the following: someone lied again and again to protect their interests and evade the laws to which we are all held accountable -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jason, thank you very much.

And Terri Gerstein is OUTFRONT now. She worked with Alvin Bragg as a prosecutor in the New York Attorney General's Office.


And, Terri, you worked with him. He was your direct supervisor for several years. I know you're also friends with him. You know him well.

So what kind of a prosecutor is he?

TERRI GERSTEIN, WORKED WITH ALVIN BRAGG IN NY ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE: So Alvin or D.A. Bragg, he's very cautious. He's careful. He's really, really a very smart lawyer, smart in a strategic, lawyerly ways, smart about people.

But he's also just very, very committed to justice. I think one thing people don't know about him is the extent to which this trial in this case is just a small sliver of what his office is focusing on and what he's doing. He really is focused.

During the campaign, he talked about ending two systems of justice, where there were one on system for people who were wealthy and connected and another for everyone else, and really trying to bring about a different way of approaching the office.

BURNETT: So in this particular case, he is obviously -- he's making history, right? He's the first prosecutor to put a former American president on trial. And yet, we've all heard from the very beginning, this is the least consequential so the lease strong, the most political case. This has been a talking point from the meeting. It's not going to be the only case probably going to get a verdict in all of them though.

But one of the complaints specifically has been but these are misdemeanor charges, and he elevated these charges to felonies, and that that is where this is going to fall apart with the jury, not whether he made a payment, not whether its the felony aspect of it. I know that you supervise cases like this, criminal cases like this for six years, right? So this is your bread and butter, you know it.

What do you think?

GERSTEIN: So, we routinely -- I was the labor bureau chief and so we brought wage theft cases, cases involving employers who were cheating on their unemployment taxes and other kinds of workplace laws. And we routinely brought cases where there were charges of false business records as felonies.

This is a very common charge, not just in the workers rights space, but throughout New York state criminal practice. And so that aspect of it saying that these are -- you know, this is something that's never prosecuted, that's just simply not true.

BURNETT: That's untrue.


BURNETT: All right. So now the other criticism and Jason just referenced this in his piece, but Bragg's, some of the criticism has been, well, how he got elected to begin with, right? He's a Democrat and this is the way we do it in this you run for da. So people or parties and what you get out of that as somebody who has a political party.

And in his case he had talked specifically about how he was going to hold Trump to account if he won, it was part of his platform. And the most infamous sound bite is this one?


BRAGG: I'm the candidate in the race who has the experience with Donald Trump. I was the chief deputy and the attorney general's office. We sued the Trump administration over 100 times.


BURNETT: So, you know, you worked -- you worked on his campaign, and I understand you support them, but what do you say to people who say this is politics? He ran on saying, I'm going to go get Donald Trump and then he went and did that.

GERSTEIN: Well, so I did volunteer on his campaign, as did many dozens and dozens of us who worked in the office, even though he was no longer there because we all really believed in him, having worked with him for years. And the truth is that on his campaign, looking at his campaign literature, going to the events he talked about so many different things.

He talked about. As I said, ending two systems of justice. He talked about public service. He talked about bringing workers rights cases and protecting tenants and taking in a different approach that would be more strategic and preventive of crime.

And so I think that -- yes, the issue of Donald Trump came up when he was questioned and he answered honestly that the attorney generals office in New York, where he was the number two first deputy, had brought cases as had many other AG case -- AG offices in California and Massachusetts and many other states. And so, it certainly was something that came up, but it was by no means the highlight of his of his campaign.

BURNETT: So you don't think of the focus?

GERSTEIN: No, not at all.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Terri, thank you very much. I appreciate it and it's important for everyone to get a better sense of both people. And, of course, there'll be all the jurors, but both people to center of this right now. Thank you.

GERSTEIN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And OUTFRONT next, we do have breaking news, Israel now vowing to respond and soon to Iran's massive missile and drone attack. Tonight, were hearing from people inside Iran calling for the complete destruction of Israel.

Plus, Truth Social's shares tanking almost 20 percent, just today, just today as some Trump supporters are actually now dumping their life savings into the company. We'll tell you more.



BURNETT: Breaking news, on the brink of all out war. The head of the IDF telling troops Iran's attack will be, quote, met with response. Meaning, it's not a question of if Israel retaliates but when. Iran saying just moments ago, it will respond in, quote, seconds if Israel makes another mistake. Those are their words.

Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT in Tel Aviv tonight.

Jeremy, what more are you learning about how Israel plans to retaliate against Iran since it now seems to be a matter of if and not -- I mean, a matter of when and not if?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, over the course of the last 48 hours, there have been heated debates within the Israeli war cabinet about the scope and timing of an Israeli response to those Iranian attacks over the course of the weekend, the first Iranian attacks on Israeli soil. But there's no question that the Israeli war cabinet is united in its determination to carry out some kind of response to Iran's attack over the weekend. Today, the Israeli military's chief of staff saying that Iran will face consequences for its actions.


HERZI HALEVI, IDF CHIEF OF STAFF: Iran will face the consequences for its actions. We will choose our response accordingly. The IDF remains ready to counter any threat from Iran and its terror proxies as we continue our mission. to defend the state of Israel.



DIAMOND: And interestingly, Erin, while, yesterday after hours of deliberations, Israeli officials came out afterwards and told us that no decision had been made after nearly three hours of deliberations today in the war cabinet, Israeli officials would not say whether or not a decision has been made. Instead, one Israeli official telling me that there was a sense after this meeting that action would be taken sooner rather than later.

So while we don't know the exact timing of a potential Israeli response, the sense is that this will happen sooner rather than later.

Now, the question is exactly what type of responses Israel going to go for? And they reviewed multiple military options today. I'm told that one of those options was potentially hitting an Iranian facility inside of Iran that would not cause excuse me, civilian casualties. But of course, that is just one of several options. And of course what Israel chooses to do here will certainly have massive ramifications that will ripple throughout the region -- Erin.

BURNETT: Well, it certainly will.

Thank you very much, Jeremy.

And Iran, of course, threatening is I said that if Israel does something they'll respond in, quote/unquote, seconds. Meanwhile, in Iran, citizens are speaking out, calling for the destruction of Israel. And its chief ally, the United States.

Our Fred Pleitgen covers Iran extensively. In fact, was just in Tehran and is OUTFRONT now with the Iranian reaction.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Iranian combat drones fired into the night sky. This new video shown on Iran's state media.

Part of the country's massive aerial attack for the first time targeting Israeli territory, hundreds of drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. And yet Iran calls this measured action and vows, things could get much worse for the Israelis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have carried out this action in the framework of deterrence. If another action is taken by Israel, are actions will be more serious.

PLEITGEN: On the streets of Tehran, some hardliners celebrated with fireworks, calling for even a harsher action and even the destruction of Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We hope this attack continues to the point think that Israel is destroyed. With this attack, we can have some of that strong revenge.

PLEITGEN: The punishment is for the bombing of a building in their embassy compound in Damascus, killing several top Revolutionary Guard commanders.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a rifle by his side, calling for retribution during a speech one day before the strike.

And the commander of the Revolutionary Guards saying, from now on, they will hit Israel every time it strikes their forces, a strategic shift.

HOSSEIN SALAMI, ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (through translator): From now on, if the Zionist regime attacks our interests, our properties, our personalities, and our citizens, we will retaliate against them from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

PLEITGEN: With the help of the U.S. and its allies, the Israelis were able to take out nearly all of the drones and missiles the Iranians fired at them, but Israeli strikes on targets inside Iran, like the country's nuclear facilities as some U.S. hardliners have called four, would be a major challenge and Iran already warning the U.S. assets in the Middle East would also become a target if America helps Israel attack Iran.

MOHAMMED BAGHERI, IRANIAN MILITARY OFFICER (through translator): American bases, personnel and facilities will not have security in the region. And we see America as an aggressor and we'll deal with them as well.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, tonight, more tough talk coming from the Iranians. A senior advisor to the commander of the Revolutionary Guard Quds force that is, of course, the foreign operations wing of the Revolutionary Guard saying that while Iran does not seek war, they also say they will show no restraint if Iran's red lines are attacked -- Erin.

BURNETT: Fred, thank you very much.

And I want to go straight now to the retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and Karim Sadjadpour, Iran policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Thanks to both.

General Hertling, Israel's war cabinet meeting. The Israeli officials the reporting from Jeremy diamond that they are going to respond sooner rather than later around. Iran in response has said they'll respond within seconds.

What does this look like right now, General?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It looks like a mess. Erin is what it looks like, but what we have to consider is the culture of both of these nations. Israel has been attacked multiple times, not just by Iran but by their proxies by terrorist groups. So the culture inside that war cabinet is looking for revenge.

Many offers were probably made by different members of that cabinet about what should happen next.


But the hardliners in the streets of Israel, what something to happen and as Fred's reporting showed that same thing has happened in Iran. So you not only had this strategic pressure of Israel fighting multiple fronts in different kinds of wars. But you also have the potential for Iran being pushed by the hardliners, certainly not representative all of their people, but being put pushed that way.

So you're going to see some actions. In the war cabinet today, I'm sure they discussed what was the spectrum of operations. Could it be kinetic strikes by themselves? Kinetic strikes mixed with cyber attacks and special operations forces?

And I'm sure even in some cases they said, let's not do nothing. We had a good night the other night. Let's continue with the peace and focused on Gaza.

So all those things are playing a part and it is just a mess.

BURNETT: I mean, Karim, when you talk about Israel responding sooner rather than later, and Iran had said, look, this was their response to the attack on their general and team at the embassy annex in Damascus and that they would call it a day, it's over. But then they say they'll respond within seconds. If Israel responds now, is that serious?

KARIM SADJADPOUR, IRAN POLICY EXPERT, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: I'm reminded of Ghandi's quote that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

I think that the challenge Iran has, like any dictatorship, it wants to be feared by its population. And so I think among the reasons that they felt the need to retaliate to against Israel obviously, they want to send the signal that their generals can't be assassinated cost- free. They wanted to win plaudits and admiration from the Arab and Muslim street.

But this is a country, Iran, in which last year, if you remember, Erin, there were mass protests against the government. And the government doesn't want to look weak in the eyes of its people. So I actually, despite what we saw earlier of people taking to this streets and calling for vengeance against Israel, I suspect that most Iranians are really praying that they can avoid conflict.

BURNETT: General Hertling, you know, to that effect. Some who are advocating for Israel to strike directly back on Iranian soil, which Jeremy said is one of the options being considered clearly are calling for this to be an incredibly aggressive. John Bolton, Iran hawk, he's calling specifically for Israel to respond by hitting some of the Iranian nuclear facilities, targeting the nuclear weapons program. Obviously, a targeting of a nuclear weapons facility, whether it be power driven, like Bushehr or some of those other locations on the map that are clearly part of the nuclear weapons program as well, truly could escalate this situation to -- I mean, lets, you know, some sort of a horrific world war.

What do you think?

PLEITGEN: I agree with you completely, and I'm thanking the Good Lord every night that John Bolton is in no way influencing any of the decision-makers, right now. Because if Israel were to strike any nuclear facilities inside of Iran, that would light the fuse and it doesn't matter which side would win or which died would be on top, it would be a horrific war situation.

And by the way, Israel has other methods of effecting Iran nuclear facilities. They've shown that in the past. So it doesn't take a kinetic stretch. It takes the kinds of strikes where you can be covert and claim plausible deniability on what exactly happened. Although most people will understand what happens.

Yeah, I agree that this is not something that both nations should go to war about because if that happens, the entire Middle East will go up in flames. Iran is not looking good right now, based on the attack the other night, both from their capability, but also the very fact that they get it and most of the region is running contrary to Iran right now and it's changed from most of the region being against Israel just a week ago.

So we're seeing some dynamics play out that will certainly affect the context and certainly affect future actions. I just hope both sides are careful about what their next actions are.

BURNETT: Karim, can I just ask you, you know, today, John Kirby said something at the White House. It was basically up sort of narrative that's taken control seems to be along the lines of look Iran knew what they were going to do. They telegraphed it, they told everybody basically, all sort of putting marks of tape on the ground of where they were going to aim of what they were going to do.

And the whole point was show of force. And they knew Israel and the U.S. and Jordan would take it out of the sky and then they could move on. But that's the whole point of it. And John Kirby at the White House says that that's absolutely not true. Here's what he said.


JOHN KIRBY, NSC SPOKESMAN: I've seen reporting that the Iranians meant to fail. That this spectacular and embarrassing failure was all by design.


I've also seen Iran say that they provided early warning to help Israel prepare its defenses and limit any potential damage. All of this is categorically false. To coin the phrase from the president, or steal a phrase from the president, it's malarkey.


BURNETT: I s it malarkey, Karim? Did Iran actually think any of those things were going to go through with the way they telegraphed it or not?

SADJADPOUR: You know, Erin, I spoke to a senior White House official yesterday who echoed Kirby's words. He said, listen when you launch 100 ballistic missiles that serious that was intended in his words, to cause serious, serious destruction.

And, you know, in the past Iran hasn't restrained itself against Israel. They praised October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. What's different this time is that they haven't operated via proxy. And I think Iran hope, frankly, it's an irony given that their ideology is premised on hostility towards the United States. But I think now Iran is hoping that the Biden administration will exercise restraint over Israel.

BURNETT: And we'll see if they'll succeed. Prime Minister Netanyahu has not listened much to the U.S. president in recent months. Thank you both very much. Appreciate it.

And coming up, OUTFRONT this week, I will be speaking to the foreign minister of Iran, and you won't want to miss our face-to-face conversation Friday night. You will see it. We will air it here at 7:00.

And meantime, next here tonight, Trump's Truth Social nosedive. The shares plunging nearly 20 percent just today, hundreds of millions of dollars in value loss as Trump's support is still put money in.

And Justice Clarence Thomas missing from the Supreme Court today, but no explanation was given this is just ahead of Trumps immunity trial days away. What' going on?



BURNETT: Tonight, Truth Social tanking, Donald Trumps shares today, plunging more than 18 percent. The latest plunge coming amid news that the social media company is putting another 21.5 million shares up for sale. The company is bleeding monies, they want to issue more shares to raise the money. But, of course, when you issue new shares, that means the already existing shares get diluted, they lose value, and the share price has already fallen by half. Trump himself is actually lost on those $3 billion since Truth Social went public less than three weeks ago, all on paper.

OUTFRONT now, Dan Alexander, the senior editor at "Forbes".

So, Dan, you know, flooding the market with new shares. What is the bottom line for small investors who bought into Trump's company because they believe in him? DAN ALEXANDER, SENIOR EDITOR, FORBES: Well, the bottom line is that they're going to get diluted and this makes it more likely that they are going to lose money. The problem here is this stack was set up and the deal was set up in a way that allowed a lot of Wall Street insiders and Trump and the other people involved with his company to get in at very, very discounted rates.

Meanwhile, the retail shareholders were putting up huge sums to buy in and the ultimate effect is that they put in the cash and the other people walk away with the shares.

BURNETT: I mean, it is unbelievable as you point out, right? Trump and the insiders got the shares for rock bottom, right? Then it goes public and the people who buy at those prices get hurt the most. I mean, anyone who bought Trump Media shares when it peaked and I guess Dan, that was what, $66 per share. So they've now lost half their money.

And just to be clear, people who got in and bought at that price, were not inside sophisticated Wall Street insiders, right? These were small time investors who support Donald Trump wanted to support his company.

There was a person who put a large chunk of his life savings in this company. He told "The Washington Post", Dan, I know good and well it's in Trump's hands and he's got plans. I have no doubt it's going to explode some time.

I mean, that's actually makes me really sad. I mean, how do you even react to that?

ALEXANDER: Yeah. It is a sad story, you know? And the trouble here is that if you look at the fundamentals of the company, it's poised to go down a lot more. If you look at the number of users that this company has, amount of revenue that it generates, its evaluation should be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars at the most. Right now, public markets are valued at three-and-a-half billion.

So that means that this stock should fall by at least another 90 percent before the metric starts to make any amount of sense, then for people who are just blindly putting their faith in Trump and in the company, that means that they can stand to lose a lot of money. And if somebody is just throwing a couple of you know, thousand bucks that they have extra.

Okay. Fine. Now, people donate to political campaigns, too, but if somebody is putting a significant chunk of their life savings into it, they could really get wiped out by the very person who they're trusting their money to, saying this guy is going to make this company an amazing venture.

BURNETT: I mean, it's incredible. You're saying things. So, we've already looked at something that's lost half its value since March 26, half its value. But you're saying it could go down another 90 percent?

ALEXANDER: Yeah, there's no question. I mean, if you look at the company's own filings, you know, they're saying that its accountants had questions about whether could continue as a going concern. They're saying that bankruptcy is not out of the question eventually.

So this thing could go to zero eventually, but just if you look at the actual business fundamentals right now and you stack that up against, for example, the valuation of Twitter or Facebook and some other social media companies. And you try to correlate those, make it make sense, we're so far away from that point right now that looks like this stock should continue falling drastically.

BURNETT: All right.


Thank you very much, Dan. Good to see you.

ALEXANDER: Yeah. Likewise.

BURNETT: All right. The next mystery at the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas is not in court today, and no one is saying why.


BURNETT: And finally, tonight, a Supreme Court mystery. Justice Clarence Thomas missing oral arguments today for two cases before the court. Chief Justice John Roberts making a quick announcement that Thomas would not be present, but no explanation was given for his absence.

Now, the court does usually give an explanation for a justice's absence, and we've also seen justices take part in arguments remotely when they are sick. And the context here is not just the lack of transparency, but that it also comes just one week before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on whether or not Donald Trump is protected from criminal prosecutions because of presidential immunity, because he was president when the acts are committed, a case critics of Thomas argue he should recuse himself from because of his wife Ginni's efforts to help Trumps team overturn the 2020 election.

Thomas is 75. He's the most senior associate justice on the Supreme Court. He missed several arguments in 2022 with an infection. And tonight, the Supreme Court is not responding to our requests for additional information about Thomas's leave of absence today, leaving many important questions unanswered. Well, thank you so very much for joining us. We'll see you here tomorrow.

"AC360" begins now.