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Erin Burnett Outfront

Fully Jury Chosen In Trump's Criminal Trial: 7 Men, 5 Women; Iran Makes Nuclear Threat As Israel Vows Retaliation; Live Interview with Iran's Foreign Minister. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 18, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, a full jury seated tonight for the Trump trial. Who are the 12? And could this mean a verdict by Memorial Day?

Plus, a CNN exclusive -- I'll speak to the Iranian foreign minister live. He's one of the most powerful officials in Iran. What is Iran going to do when Israel retaliates and how soon will Israel attack?

And Jesse Ventura is here tonight. The former governor and professional wrestler once said he'd consider running with Trump. Is that still true tonight?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news: we have our jury. Those are the exact words from Judge Juan Merchan, the 12 jurors who will decide Trump's fate, along with one alternative, all been sworn in just moments ago. So as of this moment, Judge Merchan says he wants opening arguments for Trumps hush money trial to start on Monday.

This trial is moving at a rapid pace after some major setbacks this morning, they walked in this morning to jurors who had already been selected pick. They were good to go were dismissed. It looked like a real setback, but now, we end the day with 12 and an alternate. And we know that the jury for this Trump trial tonight consists of seven men and five women.

And among the jurors selected just today on investment banker who says he follows Trump and Michael Cohen online. There's also a man who works as a security engineer. He says he has no social media accounts and reads a, quote, smattering of different news organizations.

Juror number 11 is a woman who works for an apparel company. She was seated despite Trumps lawyers arguing she should be dismissed because she said Trump, quote, seems very selfish and self-serving.

And the 12th and final juror on the full panel, not the alternates, is a physical therapist. She told the court she reads "The New York Times", "USA Today" and watches CNN.

Now, before we break down today's developments, I want to explain that I'm actually not in our studio tonight. I'm broadcasting next to the permanent mission of Iran to the United Nations. And we're doing that because we're about to interview Iran's foreign minister live, and the United States has severely restricted his movements. He just arrived in the country for a brief visit and this is one of the only places he is allowed to go. He is one of the most powerful and influential officials in Iran, chosen by the supreme leader to be the face of the country during this time of incredible turmoil.

And as the world awaits Israel's retaliation for attacks last weekend. We're going to bring you that exclusive interview live here in just a moment. But first I want to get to our other breaking story this hour and Trump's jury, which could be hearing from the prosecutions first witness on Monday.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT live. He is outside the courthouse here in New York.

And, Evan, just how prepared are both sides if this jury pool does not stick?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Erin, they -- neither side really had any hesitation about using their challenges, their strikes to remove jurors that they thought should not be on this jury. And so, we've heard from the judge today, it appears he is going to allow each side to have additional challenges in the next set of alternate jurors that he is set to choose.

Now, we don't know exactly how many he's going to choose. We heard initially that perhaps as many as six alternate jurors would be chosen. That's a process that is going to continue tomorrow, but today, obviously, things as you pointed out got to a very slow lets start and then in the final hour is when we finally saw bursts of activity and we got all 12 jurors plus the alternate chosen. Now, despite the complaints from the former president about the unfairness of this process, what you're seeing in these 12 jurors is a cross- section of New Yorkers.

You're seeing an investment banker as you pointed out, the foreman is someone who was born in Ireland and works in sales here in New York City. We have juror number five, who is an African American young African-American woman who says that she appreciates the former president, hope for being able to speak his mind.

And then, of course, you mentioned juror number 11, who was the one who said that she believe that the former president was selfish and was somebody who the Trump team tried to remove from the jury.


But she said she believes she could set aside those views and be fair to the former president. She got to stay on the jury. So now, we expect that tomorrow, the day will start around 11:30, that we have another panel that's already ready to go and the judge indicated that he believes that he can get through those jurors and stick to his -- to his schedule, which means that we're going to have open arguments in this case on Monday, Erin.

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

And our OUTFRONT legal experts are with us now. Also joining us tonight, Elizabeth Williams, the sketch artist in the courtroom with Donald Trump today. So, Elizabeth, very glad to have you with us.

Paul Martin, I wanted to start with you. You know, in your capacity as a defense attorney, 30 years of experience in New York courts tonight, we have 12 jurors. But last night at this time, we had seven and by the time they woke up in the morning, two of them were gone.

So do you believe this jury will hold?

PAUL MARTIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think so. I think it would be fair to have at least six alternate jurors. Eight may not be out of the question. Things happen. There's ebb and flow in every jury trial. So I'm not surprised the fact that it started off slow, but picked up later on the afternoon. I think it's fair to say we will have a full jury, including alternates by tomorrow afternoon.

BURNETT: So, Robert, you've spent for decades picking juries, including the George Zimmerman case, among other high-profile trials, if everything goes to plan when these jurors hold is as Paul's into get anything, they will, you've got five alternates, at least left to choose tomorrow. How likely do you think it is that there'll be opening arguments on Monday?

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, we've got to see -- we're starting late tomorrow. We've got to see exactly how many peremptory strikes the judge is going to give these lawyers on their alternates. I believe the statute says to peremptory strikes for each alternate. So you're looking at a bunch more hope potential peremptory strikes. He's also starting late.

But here's the takeaway from today, Erin, you can see I'm wearing my fishing tie again today, and that's because the former president got another couple of great jurors on his jury. You have an investment banker with that -- belongs to Truth Social, or wealth manager? He's got a really good jury. A

And instead of complaining about all the things he -- all the -- he's a busy guy and he's got all this stuff to do, by the way, so do the jurors. The jurors are given up a lot to Mr. Former President. He's got a great jury.

And I'm telling you, you ought to be sending them good energy because I think you couldn't ask for a better jury at an New York and they are absolutely -- he's absolutely going to get a fair jury.

So, Elizabeth, you were there and I wanted to show some of the sketches that you drew of Donald Trump today in that courtroom. And I know you've been in the courtroom for a lot of cases involving Donald Trump over the year. So, you've seen his demeanor, you know, his face chill expressions. What stood out to you the most about him today compared to other trials, or even two earlier this week when you saw him?

ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, COURTROOM SKETCH ARTIST IN COURT WITH TRUMP TODAY: Yeah. Well, compare to Monday. He was a lot more involved. On Monday, he looked tired, exhausted, and he would close his eyes at times. He wasn't really sleeping thing, but he really was not that engaged.

Today, he was looking, he was alert, he was paying attention. He was -- have -- you see there. He's turning around looking at the jurors. These are the jurors who are requesting to be excused.

This is juror number two, who wanted to be excused after she slept on it. So he's really paying attention today as opposed to I was not in the overflow yesterdays, but I understand he was nodding off.

Today, he was attentive. He was paying attention. He was part of his team's decision-making when it came to the -- after the voir dire. So he was very engaged.

BURNETT: So, Ryan, what do you what do you take away from that especially the contrast that Elizabeth is drawing that there were days when he was -- that he looked tired and exhausted? We have seen the reports that he nodded off at other times. But not today. She's saying today a lot more involved, very engaged.

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So in my mind, it actually shows that he understands the importance of the proceedings and the gravity of what's happening. And in some sense that also takes away the excuse that otherwise might have had for dozing off on the first couple of days because they excuse oh, this is boring to me or this is just a proceeding in which I don't think there's any legitimacy to it, but today shows you how much he does actually care about it and how important it is to him.

BURNETT: So, Robert, when we look through this jury and you mentioned the investment banker that's a member of Truth Social. Well, he follows Donald Trump on Truth Social. Being on Truth Social may indicate something.


But he's also on Twitter and he follows Michael Cohen over there. And I know this juror really stands out to you. This is the investment banker, male. Tell me why.


BURNETT: So, first, the lawyers for both sides have an advantage over all of us pundits because through a public record search, they know the names of the jurors.

They know who are the registered Democrats and the registered Republicans. So that's a big advantage they have that none of us have. That's number one. Number two, if this were a street crime case, this jury would -- would

convict Trump in a heartbeat, but this is a false business records case, right? This is not about Stormy Daniels is just the first domino, this is about business records and that's why what Trump wants is a really smart jury, the kind of people that would never vote for him as president are the exactly the same kind of people that would find him not guilty when he's a defender.

So I understand that these may not be the kind of people that President Trump likes, but he's -- they're the perfect jurors for him.

BURNETT: Paul, having been on both sides as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, what stands out to you the most right now of the 12th?

MARTIN: The education. I'm not so concerned about the gender. I think we have seven men, five women. I'm more concerned about the education. Normally, prosecutor wants the most educated, so that the defense attorneys' hocus pocus, won't be able to trick them.

In this situation -- I'm not so sure. It cuts both ways. I think the more education does help the prosecution, but it also helps the defense in this case because the defense wants to say that this case is the about paperwork and I didn't fill it out. I only signed it, I listened to other people and that is something that an educated juror would say -- well, not in my own business, I do the same thing.

So it really depends on that that factor, those factors and also who's going to be the loose cannon on the jury as a defense attorney, you want one of those just in case.

BURNETT: All right. Elizabeth, there was something else that stood out to us and you were actually in the rooms. You're one of the few people actually can be out here to talk to it. When Donald Trump left the courtroom for lunch, he turned to reporters and he really didn't engage them much during the day until he laughed. But he said, is it cold enough?

And then that want even the only time. I mean, it just seemed in the context of everything. He was really complaining about that. Here he is.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANIDDATE: I'm sitting here for days now from morning until night and that freezing room, freezing. Everybody was freezing in there, and all for this.


BURNETT: Anyway, Elizabeth sounds like a small thing, but obviously something that can impact people, impact jurors. What -- what do you think? It's a typical thing.

WILLIAMS: Indeed, in my portfolio, I carry an extra thermal vest and a scarf, lots of judges do this. They keep the courtroom really cold because they don't want people falling asleep and notice he was falling asleep yesterday.

I wasn't in the courtroom yesterday and on Monday, but this -- there is nothing new about this. Jurors have complained -- I spent a lot of time in federal court. They complain and judges are going to keep a courtroom cold because they want you to pay attention. That's their job.

And if you start falling asleep or you defendant starts falling asleep, you got a problem. So it's -- it's a typical complaint. It's nothing unique to this at all, at all. And indeed during Weinstein, they left the windows open and it was the end of February, beginning of March, the windows in that same courtroom.

So sorry, Donald, it's just how it is, you know?

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all so very much. And thank you for that, Elizabeth. They really add some real, real sense of the situation down there.

Thanks so much to all of you for being with us.

And next, my guest, Jesse Ventura, who rocked the political establishment when he was elected governor on the Reform Party ticket and he was also now on RFK Jr.'s shortlist for VP.

So does he think Kennedy actually has a shot? He's next.

And then, an OUTFRONT exclusive, I'll speak to the Iranian foreign minister live. One of the most influential officials in Tehran tonight briefly in New York with a warning for Israel, if it strikes back.



BURNETT: Tonight, a major development that could determine the winner of the White House.

And this is in Michigan, the secretary of state in Michigan is confirming to CNN that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be on the presidential ballot in that battleground state. Now, Kennedy tells me he will be on the ballot in every state, but formally crossing the line in Michigan, you know, dotting the I's, crossing the T's is crucial.

President Biden won the state by a little bit more than 154,000 votes in 2020, and Kennedy support in Michigan this time around, right now is surging, 18 percent of Michigan's registered voters in a recent poll support Kennedy, 18 percent. Thirty-four percent, say Biden, and 40 percent support former President Trump.

You can all see those numbers in front of us in black and white. It comes as members of the Kennedy family, including six of RFK Jr.'s siblings endorsed Biden, a show of force intended to underscore that many of the most well-known Kennedy family members reject JFK -- RFK Jr.'s campaign. [19:20:11]

And OUTFRONT now, Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, who's shock the political establishment 25 years ago.

Sir, when you one as a third-party candidate and governor, I'm so glad to have a chance to talk to you, you know, 25 years ago, sir, when you won as a third party candidate. And, Governor, I'm glad of the chance to talk to you.

You know, 25 years ago, it sure goes fast, you know, you were sworn in and yet here we are now entering a presidential election where third party candidate is playing a major role. No ones ever won the presidential level, but playing a major role.

Do you think that Kennedy has a real chance to win?

JESSE VENTURA, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: Well, who knows? I mean, you know, when I ran, nobody gave me a chance back in 1998. And I'll tell you this, Erin, I think that right now, I have no -- I'm an individual. I don't have a big bunch of people behind me or none of that.

But I'll tell you this -- if I had ballot access in all 50 states and I were allowed to debate, I could beat these two major party candidates. They would be easier to beat then Attorney General Humphrey was and Mayor Norm Coleman was back in '98, and here's why -- Humphrey and Coleman were not disliked. Nobody was not liking the election at all.

This election, you got two major party candidates, nobody even wants to see their selection, let alone voted at necessarily. And, you know, I guarantee if -- I'd be the youngest candidate. That's for sure.

BURNETT: Well, that is for sure.

VENTURA: But my point is -- well, my point is this, they call you in the media like to term things are spoilers. Third parties are not spoilers. You -- when you go to vote and do your civic duty, you vote for the candidate or the person that you most want to be -- to be the president of the United States irregardless of their party.

If you go vote for the person you want as president and then you've done your civic duty. Where do we get off calling it spoiler because you don't vote Democrat or Republican? That's the media's way because they're locked in with the two-party dictatorship, as my friend Ralph Nader used to call it.

And voting third party does not make you a spoiler. In fact, it makes you a correct citizen because you're voting for who you want and not for -- because you're voting for some party.

BURNETT: So, right now, what would you do? Would you vote for RFK Jr.?

VENTURA: I don't know yet. You know, RFK and I have our differences. He did -- you know, I met with him about the VP job. We met one evening for over two hours and discussed it, and I have all the admiration in the world for him. He has every right to run and certainly he's probably going to get a lot of votes. He made a choice for vice president.

And he'll ride that choice. Be it good or bad, but I certainly respect the fact that he has the right to run, as does -- as does Cornell West, as does all other candidates.

The point is this is America, and we should have more choices than just two.

BURNETT: Well, you know what? Our system needs a lot of reform and I think most sane and thoughtful people could -- could agree with that. But I want to ask you about, you talk about how nobody -- you said, if you ran, not only would you be the youngest, but you could defeat Trump and Biden because people don't love 'em.

Well, you do have a history with Donald Trump and it's -- it's been a history that's gone through ups and downs, Governor, right? He considered running for president. In 2000 all the way back then under the Reform Party, which obviously was your party, right? You'd won, you encouraged at the time.


BURNETT: Over the years, there had been -- well, okay, okay. There's been good things you said about each other. I want to play that. I know --

VENTURA: No, there's a problem, there's a problem.

BURNETT: Yeah, okay, okay.

VENTURA: There's a no problem, Erin. Donald Trump of 2000 is not Donald Trump today, plain and simple.

Back then, he was a Democrat and was pro-choice. Today's ultra right, and anti-choice. You know, he ain't the same guy.

BURNETT: Well, you've actually called him a fascist now.


VENTURA: And the fact is Donald Trump, because he -- because he changes, he does never tell the truth. So, no, would I run with Trump? Absolutely not.

Now, back then, we were fledgling third party. We were looking for anything that could get us onto the map. That's what you've got to do as a third party first and foremost. You've got to win elections and you need candidates to do that.

Well, you're not always going to pick the best candidates just as Democrats and Republicans don't either.

[19:25:00] But lets move on to why I'm really here, Erin, cannabis.

BURNETT: All right. And you -- and you were about -- I was about to jump in and force you there, but you were -- you were going on.

All right. So --

VENTURA: All right.

BURNETT: I know you're passionate about cannabis. It is how you spend your time. So can I ask you about this because you have put a lot of time into the effectiveness of medical marijuana and I know the reason you've done this is because you say it saved your family's life. It stopped your wife's seizures. So you've dedicated yourself to this.

Biden has moved to decriminalize it. Finally, it wasn't his initial thought, but he has done that and change its federal classification in terms of its class -- how its registered with the FDA. Is that enough -- is there enough being done on this?

VENTURA: No, here's your problem with that. Who's making the decision here? The DEA. Well, they're the enforcement agency.

Well, how come the legislature, the Congress isn't making the decision? Why does it go to the DEA, the very people who profit from putting people in prison, having drugs, illegal? They're now the ones that make the final decision on what's going to happen with cannabis federally?

So, the point is this -- more people like me who are stepping forward. I'm putting my face on marijuana. I've teamed up with Retro Bakery. Its called Ventura Farms and I'm going to shamelessly plug it now.

And for everybody out there, that will be the focus of Jesse Ventura's life because so it saved my life. My wife was having seizures and our medicine couldn't help. Pharma did nothing. It couldn't help. Had to go illegally to Colorado at the time ten years ago and get cannabis. My wife since three drops under the tongue has not had a seizure since. And what angers me is that the insurance companies will pay for all the pharma stuff that don't work, but they won't pay for cannabis, which does work.

BURNETT: Well, Governor, thank you very much, and I appreciate you sharing that story --


VENTURA: Erin --


VENTURA: I'll finish by saying this -- we'll send you a care package. You won't have to have me on anymore. You can try it and you'll sell it for me.

(LAUGHTER) BURNETT: Governor, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you so much.

VENTURA: Okay. Have a good one, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. All right. You, too. Governor Ventura.

And next, the Iranian foreign minister, he will be our exclusive guest and he will be with me live. I'm about to go into Iran's mission at the United Nations, just next to where we are broadcasting from tonight. This as Iran has taken its rhetoric to a new and dangerous level tonight.



BURNETT: Breaking news, Iran's foreign minister, one of the most powerful officials in the country delivering a stern warning to Israel from the United Nations after just landing in New York, vowing a, quote, decisive response to any Israeli military action. And this came after a top Iranian commander used the word "nuclear" when talking about a response to Israel, escalating the rhetoric to a dangerous new level tonight.

At this moment, I'm broadcasting next to the permanent mission of Iran to the United Nations. And that's where ill sit down with Iran's foreign minister in just a few moments for an exclusive live interview. It is his first interview with American media since Iran attacked inside Israel.

Now, I'm here and not in our studios because this is actually one of the only places that the Iranian foreign minister is allowed to be while he's in the United States. The State Department has severely restricted his movements to just a few locations in Manhattan and to JFK airport.

It is, though, vital to hear from the Iranian foreign minister right now. He has the supreme leader's choice to be the face of Iran during this crisis, and a crucial player in determining whether the Middle East and much broader plunges into an all-out war.

I'm about to go into the Iranian mission to meet the foreign minister for that interview in just a moment.

But first, Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT tonight from Tel Aviv.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A world on edge, Israel vowing to retaliate after Iran's unprecedented attack on Israeli soil.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will make our own decisions good and the state of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself, and what it could trigger. EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If the Zionist regime commits this slightest act of aggression against our soil, this will lead to a more ferocious and severe response as the Israeli war cabinet meets behind closed doors this week, reviewing military options, Israeli officials are keeping Iran guessing, offering no hints about when or how they will retaliate.

DIAMOND: The only certainty and Israeli response will come.

DAVID CAMERON, UK FOREIGN MINISTER: It's clear the Israelis are making a decision to act. We hope they do so in a way that does is little to escalate this as possible.

DIAMOND: Israel was already on the verge of carrying out a retaliatory strike on Monday, according to CNN analyst Barak Ravid.

But Ravid said the attack was called off at the last minute, with two Israeli officials citing operational reasons.

The warnings from Iran are getting starker with a top Iranian general issuing a thinly veiled threat to renew its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

IRANIAN GENERAL: If the fake Zionist regime wants to use a threat to attack our country's nuclear centers as a means to put pressure on Iran, it would be possible and foreseeable to revise Iran's nuclear doctrine and policies.


DIAMOND: Nuclear threats from Iran, a reminder of the long history of conflict between the two countries.

NETANYAHU: I also have a message today for the tyrants of Tehran. Israel knows what you're doing and Israel knows where you're doing it. Israel will never let a regime that calls for our destruction to develop nuclear weapons, not now, not in ten years, not ever.

DIAMOND: Israel now battling Iran's top proxies in the region. Hamas's October 7th attack and daily rocket barrages from Hezbollah kicking a long-simmering proxy conflict into higher gear, the risk of direct war now looming larger than ever.


DIAMOND: And, Erin, as we await Israeli military action, its important to note that we're just days away from the Jewish holiday of Passover and tonight, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is invoking the symbolism of that holiday as he prepares a response to the Iranian attack, citing a text from the Passover Seder, he says, the notion that they, quote, rise upon us to eliminate us is especially real this year -- a clear attempt to try and frame this threat from Iran as existential as he prepares to give an order.

BURNETT: And, Jeremy, thank you very much. And I am now inside the Iranian permanent mission to the United

Nations here in New York. And I'm here with the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. And Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you so much.

Israel has vowed to retaliate against the Iranian strike over the weekend. Do you think Israel could strike as soon as tonight?

HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We have given an answer on Saturday night to the action that during the past few months, particularly two weeks ago, the Israeli regime, through the attack carried out against the consular building in Damascus, Syria, our response to the Israeli regime was limited. And stayed within a minimum of frameworks, whereas we could have given a much harsher response to the Israeli regime.

Following that, we announced that this response is within the framework of legitimate defense according to international laws. We will not continue. However, in case the Israeli regime embarks on adventurism again and takes action against the interests of Iran, the next response from us will be immediate and at a maximum level. It will be decisive. Our response will be decisive through the Swiss embassy in Tehran.

We have announced to the White House, sent a message to the White House and Washington, D.C., the administration, in which we reiterated that if the Israeli regime commits that grave error once again, our response will be decisive, definitive, and regretful for that.

We do not seek to create tension and crisis or increase such situations in the Middle East, and we sincerely hope that the Israeli regime does not repeat the previous egregious error.

BURNETT: So when you say the response will be at a maximum level, you also, I know, have warned Israel against crossing what you have used the words, quote-unquote, "red lines." What are those red lines, and what is a maximum level? You used, what, more than 300 drones, cruise missiles in that attack. What would escalate from there for you? What is a maximum level above that?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Well, the red lines that they crossed, the red line that Israel crossed, was the attack upon the embassy building of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Damascus, Syria.


And during that attack, seven official military advisers carrying out a fight against terrorism were martyred through a missile attack of the regime of Israel. Vienna Conventions recognized -- Vienna Conventions were not respected, so red lines were crossed by the Israeli regime.

However, in our attack, within the framework of legitimate defense, why do we call it carried out at a minimum? Because it was geared towards two military targets, one the Innova Team Air Base and the other one an intelligence and information centers from which attacks took place on our building. We did not target economic and financial centers, civilian centers, only the two locations from which F-35 aircraft were flown, took off from there, and targeted the embassy building in the Golan.

This was our minimum response. But in case of a repeated adventure- seeking and adventurism of the Israeli regime, what will our maximum response be? I can only say that it will be carried out at a maximum level, and it will be regretful for them. The details have been planned by the armed forces of my country. However, I do hope that Israel does not commit a grave error in calculating this.

BURNETT: So you have -- you have details of what that would be, a maximum level, but you mentioned that the minimum level, as you're calling the strike over the weekend, you're saying did not strike economic, financial, civilians. But I would assume a maximum strike, which you say is planned, would do those three things?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Extremely well thought out and precise. The Iranian drones were geared towards specifically two military targets within Israeli territory, and our collection and information shows and reflects that we were able to reach our objective. One, we showed our willingness. Second, the two military installations from which targets were carried out against our embassy building in Damascus, we carried out operations against those two centers. And the third point is that our operations in response were carried out at a minimum because we were not seeking to hit multiple targets in the occupied Palestinian territories.

BURNETT: So you talk about how the strike, you say, met your objectives. Admiral John Kirby, the U.S. Spokesperson for the National Security Council, sees it very differently. He described your strike on Israel, Foreign Minister, as a, quote, "embarrassing failure." What do you say to that?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Well, you see, we must say things very transparently and clearly. First, our operations on Israel were not carried out in secret. We announced it well over a week prior that our response would be coming and would be resolute. Why? Because through its attack on our embassy, it attacked our sovereignty. It violated our sovereignty and also trampled upon the territorial integrity of Syria.

Prior to the operations, we announced to the Americans that Iran's attack is certain. And this was also conveyed to them through many other foreign ministers who were in contact with me as well as through the Swiss embassy in Tehran. So we were noticing precisely that the United States of America, along with over 20 countries, a number of member NATO countries, were stood up in the region in order to neutralize certain missiles and drones so that they could not reach Israel.


However, our missiles and drones did reach our two intended targets. The attack was known to have come even though they didn't know the precise time, but they knew that it would occur fairly soon. It was a successful operation and a decisive response and a clear message to the Zionist regime.

BURNETT: So, just to be clear, you intended for it to perform as it did. So there were 99% of them were intercepted, a couple went through, there was no significant damage done. That was the intent of the strike?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Our objective was to warn, our objective was to have taken equal action. And so as to send a clear message to be received by the government of Israel and to let it know that we do have the means to respond. I will repeat again. We never seek the expansion of chaos and warfare intentions in the region. However, it is Netanyahu and the Israeli regime that has seen and put its political life within the framework of expansion of warfare intentions.

BURNETT: President Joe Biden spoke yesterday, Foreign Minister. He talked about Israel and Ukraine and he said, and I quote him, "We stand with our friends and we won't let Iran or Russia succeed." If the United States helps Israel again, as Israel has said, they will strike. You have now said you will strike back, your words, at the maximum level. Will you strike American targets?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): You see, when we say at a maximum, we mean if Israel commits that same mistake, our response will be regretful for them, immediate and decisive and definitive on and in every Palestinian occupied areas.

In previous operation, we announced to the Americans that we will not target American bases and installations in the region, other than if we come across a condition in which the United States of America puts itself besides Israeli -- the Israeli government in order to expand the warfare intentions. It is not within the interest of America to do that. We believe that instead of seeking such conversations, we must seek to pay closer attention and focus on deeper issues. And I said that in my recent talk with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We must focus on Israeli humanitarian abuses, war crimes, genocide. If the war comes to an end, the entire region will go back to stability and peace and everyone will come out a winner, including Iran.

BURNETT: So, if the United States helps Israel again to defend against incoming missiles against Iran, that will not -- are you saying, that will not put American targets on your list?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): We believe that America will calculate according to messages that were exchanged between us over the past six months. They do believe that the expansion of warfare in the region is not a welcome prospect by the United States of America because America knows that it doesn't benefit her, nor the interests of the United States of America that are pursued in the region. We are hopeful that Israel can be stopped by them.


And they will not give renewed permission for adventure seeking anew by Israel. In case they do embark on more adventurism, the next response from the Islamic Republic of Iran will be quite different.

BURNETT: An Iranian nuclear -- I wait for the translation to finish. An Iranian nuclear commander today, Mr. Foreign Minister, said Iran's nuclear policies could be changed if Israel keeps threatening to attack Iranian nuclear sites. What does that mean?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Well, you see, vis-a-vis the nuclear issue, the official stance of the Iranian position has been announced several times. We do have a religious decree, a fatwa, issued by the Supreme Leader of the Revolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, and we've announced several times that the entire nuclear program of Iran is in its totality within the framework of a peaceful program, and we have been strictly focused on that goal.

But we witnessed over the past few months that repeatedly certain Israeli officials repeated that in order to win in Gaza, a nuclear weapon must be used by Israel. And I do think that America must pay closer attention and focus on the adventure-seeking regime in Israel so that such a crisis will not happen in Gaza. Because Netanyahu showed that he will not respect any red line. So he's the one that must be brought under control.

BURNETT: I want to ask you about some developments that have happened in Iran in the context of this. There has been a renewed push for women to wear hijab. And obviously the Supreme Leader has mentioned this in a couple of recent speeches. Sources tell CNN morality police have been much more present on the streets in various Iranian cities.

There's a woman who didn't want her name used in our conversation. She's afraid of her safety, but just this week she said to CNN she was in the passenger seat of her husband's car without her headscarf. She received a text from police warning her of noncompliance with the hijab policy.

The text included her license number and other identifiers of the car, warning her if she violated hijab laws again, her car would be impounded. The context here, of course, is two years ago, the widespread protest following the death of the 22-year-old young woman, Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police because of inappropriately wearing or not wearing a proper hijab. Why is this happening now, and what will be the punishment for women who violate it?

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): Well, you see, I wish to speak very transparently. The United States of America and certain Western countries pursue a policy of double standards vis-a-vis many issues. As a matter of fact, a few days ago, while speaking to one of the foreign ministers of a big European country, I told him, do you recall the sad death of an Iranian girl? Do you remember the chaos that was seen across the West because of that event, whereas today over 15,000 women and thousands of children are being killed in Gaza?

Nothing happens regarding this specific issue. And a serious action and a strong voice from the European governments, certain European governments and the United States government, we don't hear such voices or see such actions. So the issue of hijab is a very well- recognized and accepted issue in Iran.

The policy of double standards and foreign meddling and provocations are seeking to bring about a change of the system in Iran by using women as a tool within the framework of a so-called opposition, whereas women in Iran are an important part of the country, an effective part of the country, influential.

BURNETT: They have led those protests about hijabs, though, the women have.

AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN (through translator): It is absolutely not a matter. The hijab is not a matter that can be tied solely to the existence and the part that -- the important part that is played by women in Iranian society.


They know full well that vis-a-vis the important part that is played by women in Iranian society, they know full well that vis-a-vis certain social behaviors, they know how to carry themselves. I don't believe today the issue of Iranian women and hijab for Iranian women is not our principal challenge in the region. Our principal challenge in the region is the killing of over 34,000 men, women and children -- Palestinian men, women, and children.

BURNETT: Mr. Foreign Minister, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

And Jim Sciutto is with us as well here and, Jim, let me just send it down to you and, of course, I'll join you all in just a few moments.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: That's right. Erin is going to be back with us in just a moment. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.

Listening there to her interview with Iranian foreign minister Amir- Abdollahian.

Joining me now General Mark Hertling, former Army commanding general in Europe and our Fred Pleitgen, who was recently in Iran.

General Hertling, the foreign minister there described the recent Iranian attack on Israeli territory as being at a minimum level, he threatened a maximum level attack in response to any Israeli retaliatory strike.

I wonder, what does a maximum level response look like in your view?

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Jim, I wrote down a couple of things, that was one of them he not only set a maximum level, but it would be decisive and definitive.


HERTLING: That was immediately after he said the last operation was successful and decisive, it was not. So that that is a miscategories -- categorization of exactly what Iran did last Saturday night. You know, it's -- my initial thought, Jim, was Iran should never do something for the first time in combat. It was obvious to me that the operation last Saturday was disconnected, did not have an operation advantage and the foreign minister truthfully mischaracterized it as only going after military target.

They were successful at the Navala (ph) and Nevatim airbases in the south. But as we all saw, there were, there were drones and ballistic missiles and cruise missiles exploding in various parts of the country. In fact, Nic Robinson was outside of Jerusalem when several of them were shot down over his head.

So that was not geared just toward military targets.


HERTLING: So I think for him, you know, for him to be saying the past was great and we'll do it even worse the next time tells me that they really don't have a really good operational plan for attempting that kind of operation in the future.

SCIUTTO: It was notable. He also gave more detail on what he said were communications from Iran to the U.S. prior to those attacks, he said that they communicated the Americans that the Iranians would not target U.S. positions although he left open the option of doing so if the us were to participate in any Israeli retaliation.

Fred, at the end there, you heard the foreign minister dismissed what have been sustained protests led by Iranian women across the country against the hijab and against the violent reaction to those who protest by not wearing the hijab as, as somehow using the women of Iran to challenge the regime. You've been there many times, you've spoken to people involved in these protests.

That statement, that characterization is just not true.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, certainly, Iran has been dealing with those protests for an extended period of time. But what we've seen, even when those protests were going on was the government of Iran, certainly the power center of Iran, essentially blaming that on foreign influence. That certainly isn't something that's necessarily knew. I can tell you that those protests certainly still are very much a sore zero point for those who are in power in Iran.

So that's definitely something that we've seen from the Iranians in the past. I think one of the things though that really stood out for me in the interview is that first of all, one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is definitely one of the most powerful people right now in Iran, had been actually dealing with him since about 2015. He was then in charge of their Syria policy in Syria for an extended period of time.

So when Erin speaking to him, she is speaking to the power center in Iran and like General Hertling, I really found that the fact that he said that there's been so much messaging coming from the Iranians towards the United States is definitely he fascinating, some of the messages that they've been trying to send.

One of the other things that I've picked up on as well, and I think also goes to what General Hertling was saying that the Iranian should never do something for the first time in combat, where he was saying that the Iranians allegedly for this maximum strike, that he was talking about that would happen if the Israelis hit back, that the plans have already worked out that they would -- that they would take place as he put it on Israeli territory.

That's definitely something that stood out to me, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Frederik, Mark, thanks so much.

Erin back in the chair following that incisive interview with Iranian foreign minister.

BURNETT: All right. Thanks so much, and all of you and that conversation.

And we are now back outside from that interview and thanks so much to all of you for being with us for this hour, and our programming for that interview. And also, of course, for Governor Ventura and to our panel.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining us.

Let's hand it hand off now to "AC360" with Anderson Cooper.