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Isa Soares Tonight

Seven Aid Workers Killed In An Israeli Strike In Gaza; Iran Vows Decisive Response To Consulate Attack In Syria; Dozens Killed In A Nightclub Fire In Istanbul; Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary Of State, Meets With Top Officials In Paris; Russia's War On Ukraine; Major Oil Facility Located Deep Within Russia Targeted By Drone Strikes; Trump Campaigns In Key States; Florida Abortion Laws; 2024 U.S. Election; With Gag Order Expanding, Trump Travels To Michigan And Wisconsin; Florida Supreme Court Paves Way For 6-Week Abortion Ban; Israel Attack That Killed Relief Workers In Gaza Has Drawn International Outrage; Iran Pledges Resolute Reaction To The Attack On Syrian Consulate; U.S. Powerball Prize Increased To $1.09B. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, international condemnation after an

Israeli strike killed seven aid workers in Gaza. We'll have Israel's response and the reaction. Then tensions soar in the region, Iran promising

revenge as it accuses Israel of attacking its consulate in Syria and killing 13 people.

Plus, dozens of people killed in a nightclub fire in Istanbul, we have the very latest on the investigation. But first this evening, governments

around the world are demanding answers as well as accountability after Israeli strikes in Gaza killed seven aid workers who were delivering

desperately-needed food amid a looming famine.

World Central Kitchen says its convoy came under fire in Deir al Balah despite previous coordination with the IDF. Now, at least, two of the three

cars were branded with the charity's logo. CNN has been able to geo-locate the videos from the scene, finding the strikes spanned a distance of more

than 2 kilometers. World Central Kitchen calls it an unforgivable targeted attack.

But Israel's Prime Minister says it was unintentional, and is promising to investigate. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says a record number of

humanitarian workers had been killed in this war. And he says, they must be protected. Have a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We've spoken directly to the Israeli government about this particular incident. We've urged a

swished, a thorough and impartial investigation to understand exactly what happened. And as we have throughout this conflict, we've impressed

upon the Israelis the absolute imperative of doing more to protect innocent civilian lives, be the Palestinian children, women and men or be the aid



SOARES: And we'll go to Jerusalem in just a moment for more on this. I want to take you though, to the White House with John Kirby from the U.S.

National Security Council is speaking. Let's listen in.


working our way through that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just have a quick clarification on something that the secretary said again in Paris. He appeared to suggest that Iran

delivered missiles to Russia, and that those are being used by Moscow to target the Ukrainians. I mean, can you confirm it, that was the case and

not just drone missiles, but ballistic missiles. And if yes, since when has this transfer been underway?

KIRBY: I am not aware of specific verification that we can give to Iranian missiles being delivered to Russia for use in Ukraine. They certainly

continue to deliver drones, and actually helping the Russians manufacture Iranian-design drones.

And we do know that the Russians are and have been using now for quite some time, ballistic missiles that they have gotten from North Korea. But I'm

not -- I'm not personally aware of any verification that Iranian missiles have been -- have been transferred and used.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Admiral, you said that there's going to be an investigation into the World Central Kitchen strike, and you're

reserving the U.S.' judgment until that's completed. But what's a reasonable timeframe for that investigation to be concluded? And how

regularly will the U.S. be getting updates on it?

KIRBY: I think in terms of time frame was I said in my opening statement, we believe an investigation can be thoroughly conducted in a swift manner.

Now, what a swift, I think obviously, we're not going to dictate a date on the calendar to the Israelis, but it's noteworthy that just before coming

out here, I was informed that they have completed a preliminary investigation and are reporting that up the chain of command, that's good.

That means that they've gotten some basic findings and some initial conclusions that they're willing to make -- they have noted publicly that

they were responsible here. So, that's another -- that's another reason to suspect that it shouldn't need to be a long drawn-out weeks-long

investigation. I think something like this could probably resolve -- be resolved in a matter of days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the strike in Damascus, does the U.S. expect Iran to retaliate? And if so, how?

KIRBY: Well, I can't predict what the supreme leader and what the IRGC will decide to do or not. I don't know in terms of retaliation, I assume you

mean against the United States.


Let me make it clear. We had nothing to do with what the strike in Damascus. We weren't involved in any way whatsoever. So, the comments by

the Iranian Foreign Minister that somehow we're to be held to account or that we're to blame, it's just nonsense. We had nothing to do with it. We

will, as we always have, take our force protection very seriously to protect our troops, our facilities in Iraq and Syria.

And as we have demonstrated in the past, as President Biden has made very clear through the actions he has ordered, we will -- we will do what we

need to do to protect those troops and facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And finally, if I may just on China, you said that the two leaders made a commitment to pick up the phone and call each other when

needed. I'm curious --

KIRBY: When is the next one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I'm curious why it was needed now, why not next week, next month? Was there a particular catalyst that they needed to have

as far --

KIRBY: No, not at all --

SOARES: You've been seeing there, hearing John Kirby, who's been fielding questions, not just of course, on that strike in Gaza, on the World Central

Kitchen on the aid workers, but also some questions being filtered over Iran. Two stories, of course, that we are focusing heavily here on this

hour, but clearly outrage there over that strike that has been conducted that's taking place in Gaza for targeting -- and not potentially targeted

by hitting, of course, and killing several aid workers at the World Central Kitchen strike.

He said an investigation, king(ph), can be conducted, he said, in a swift manner, saying the resolved in just a matter of days, potentially, of

course, as focused on the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the military unintentionally struck innocent


We know an investigation is taking place. Now, one of the aid workers killed that we know as well in that strike, in that attack was Palestinian,

the others came from around the world. Our Melissa Bell has more now on the victims who died while of course, they have been delivering live-saving

supplies. Have a look at this.


ZOMI FRANKCOM, WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN AID WORKER: Hi, this is chef Wooden(ph), we're at the Diabala(ph) Kitchen, we've got the Nissan bus(ph).

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smiling in one of her final moments, Zomi Frankcom; an Australian aid worker, one of the seven World

Central Kitchen employees killed by an Israeli airstrike as they delivered food to a warehouse in central Gaza.

A dual U.S.-Canada citizen, U.K. nationals, Polish man and a Palestinian also amongst those killed. The harm of war drones drowning out the sound of

ambulance, sirens as their bodies were brought to hospital after the strike, but too late, all trying to bring relief to the more than 1 million

Gazans the U.N. says are now facing famine, all now in body bags.

The logo with the aid organization, a reminder of the lengths that charity went to, to protect its own. Traveling as they were, according to the World

Central Kitchen through a deep-conflicted zone whilst coordinating their movements with the IDF.

The charity, which was central in getting around the blockade, by getting the first Maritime shipment of aid into Gaza, now saying that it needs to

assess its future in the Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the tragic loss of what he described as innocent lives.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): Unfortunately, in the last day, there was a tragic case of our forces

unintentionally hitting innocent people in the Gaza Strip, it happens in war. We will investigate it right to the end.

BELL: So far, at least 196 aid workers have lost their lives in the occupied territories since the start of the war, according to the U.N.

agency tasked with relief there. The World Central Kitchen workers just the latest. Among them, the Palestinian driver and translator Saif Issam Abu-

Tahar(ph), his loved ones forced to say goodbye to a man who died trying to help others to survive.


SOARES: And Melissa joins us now live from Jerusalem with more. Melissa, we have heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu saying, and I'm quoting him that

this happens in war. I wonder how that justification will be received or will sit with the Poles, the Australians, the Brits, of course, who today

lost their aid workers.

BELL: Not terribly well. In fact, what we've heard already, Isa, is that both -- the Australian authorities and the British have asked -- called in

the Israeli envoy or ambassadors, depending on the case, for explanations.


And of course, there is the point that you just heard there, that the World Central Kitchen clearly says it had been coordinating this shipment of aid,

this delivery of aid that it had been working on in the deconflicted zone. And of course, bear in mind, Isa, the assurances that we've had repeatedly

from Israeli authorities, including from the IDF, but also from Israeli leaders.

Over the course of the last few weeks and specifically as this famine has worsened, that they are doing everything they can to work with the aid

agencies to ensure that aid is brought to the Palestinian people. Well, this belies that, and I think that's why you've heard such swift response

from Israeli officials, not just the Israeli Prime Minister that you heard from there a moment ago, but we've also heard from Yoav Gallant, the

Israeli Defense Minister.

We've heard also from the IDF, most senior spokesman, Daniel Hagari, all of them speaking to the facts that this will be an investigation at the

highest level. And in fact, from some of the reporting we had from Jeremy Diamond earlier today here in Jerusalem, we understand that it is the IDF's

most senior general who is going to get eyes on those findings from the ground.

And I think what we just heard from John Kirby there --

SOARES: Yes --

BELL: The National Security Communications adviser was interesting, the fact that the Americans have now heard that the preliminary part of the

investigation is done and -- so that we can expect a --

SOARES: Yes --

BELL: Swift response. And I think that speaks to the pressure that Israel is under to give answers.

SOARES: Yes, and John Kirby saying that hopefully it will be resolved in a matter of days. So, hoping for some swift information here in terms of this

investigation. Look, we have heard not just, Melissa, world leaders, but also NGOs in the last 24 hours kind of express outrage over what had


I want to play Jamie McGoldrick, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory. Have a listen to what he told CNN.


JAMIE MCGOLDRICK, U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR: You should note the fact that this is not an isolated incident, as was said, and also we've been

giving warnings to Israel because of the nature of the systems they have in place of coordination, deconfliction, notification.

They haven't been consistent, and they haven't been something that's worked in our favor. There's been a lot of incidents, not just regarding -- I

think it was mentioned there, the number of humanitarians have been killed, but also attacks on premises and houses that we worked in as well.

So, the system is known as what it should be. It is something we have to fix.


SOARES: And you heard him say there, it's not an isolated incident, Melissa. Talk to that and you know, where that leaves these aid

organizations. The impact this has on this desperately-needed aid for people in Gaza.

BELL: I think that's such an interesting bit of sound that we just heard because it speaks to something we've had over and over again over the

course of the last month, Isa. And now, this is sort of a doublespeak, two different narratives of what's happening inside the Gaza Strip.

And remember that we as international media can't get inside to see for ourselves. So, it's been incredibly difficult to make sense of it all. On

one hand, what we hear from Israeli authorities about the lengths that they're going to, about the aid that they're managing to get in.

And on the other, U.N. aid agencies that have been desperately saying, look, it isn't enough. The difficulties are huge and Israel needs to do

more. And on the question of the figure that he just mentioned, it is 196 aid workers since the start of the war in Gaza that have been killed in the

occupied territories.

That is Isa, three times higher than any death toll for aid workers in any conflict in a single year ever. And it gives you an idea of just how

dangerous this is. And of course, of the great difficulties that these aid organizations are having in coordinating things with Israeli forces.

This latest tragedy highlights something that aid agencies have been trying to attract attention to for many months, but have had difficulty cutting

through so much of what we've heard and continuing to keep up the pressure in order that Israeli authorities listened to them clearly and act in a way

that will finally bring some aid to Gaza.

And I think it's important to remember here, Isa, the role that the World Central Kitchen has played. It's been crucial in bringing aid in through

the sea because the land crossings have been so tightly controlled, and the trickle of aid coming in through the land has been so little. Who will feel

the breach now that they're saying they're not going to operate there is one of the big questions.

SOARES: Indeed, Melissa Bell there for us in Jerusalem, thank you very much, Melissa. Well, we are following the aftermath of Monday's attack on

an Iranian government building in Syria, that story, of course, we broke yesterday here on the show.

Iranian state media says an airstrike in Damascus killed at least 13 people including two senior Iranian commanders. Now, Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ali

Khamenei is vowing to punish Israel. An Israeli military spokesperson wouldn't comment on the explosion, but said the building was not an Iranian

consulate or embassy, but a military building.

Joining us from Beirut is our correspondent Ben Wedeman. And Ben, we've heard in the last few hours from Iranian officials and believe from the

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who said that the attack will not go unanswered.


How might Iran respond here? How is this playing inside Tehran you think?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, the Iranians are very angry about this, because despite what the Israelis say,

it was a diplomatic complex in Damascus that was hit, obviously an Israeli airstrike. So, not only are these -- the Iranians saying that they will

strike back somehow against as a result, in response to this airstrike.

But they're also holding the Americans responsible, despite what we just heard from Admiral Kirby, the Iranian Foreign Minister summoned the Swiss

charge d'affaires in Tehran, Switzerland, of course, is representing American interests in Iran. And he told them, he gave -- he was giving a

message that the United States must answer to this because despite the fact the Americans claimed they had no forewarning of this Israeli strike, the

Israelis are obviously using weaponry provided by the United States as far as what -- how Iran can respond.

They have a variety of options they can for one, simply requested that their affiliates around the region, whether that be Hezbollah, the Houthis

in Yemen, militias in Syria and Iraq to step up their attacks either on Israel or on U.S. forces deployed for instance, in Iraq and Syria and


On the other hand, the Iranians could directly respond to the Israelis, but of course, that could precipitate a major escalation which no one really

believes the Iranians wants. Certainly, it's not in the interest of the United States -- the worry is that the Israelis are trying to provoke Iran


SOARES: Yes --

WEDEMAN: And others like Hezbollah into a direct confrontation. The consequences of which would be absolutely catastrophic, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, Ben, I wonder if you can flesh out your regional expertise, because until now, as we know, Iran has kind of avoided directly entering

the fray of this conflict in Gaza. It has avoided being sucked in like you were saying into a wider war. So, how this -- I mean, how does this attack

then changes calculus? Does it -- how does it -- how does it thread this needle, then?

WEDEMAN: Well, let's keep in mind, who is it that was killed in this airstrike yesterday. Mohammad Reza Zahedi, who is a senior commander for

the IRGC. A man who basically oversees IRGC operations in Syria and Lebanon, has been killed. That is the most senior IRGC leader to be

assassinated since the United States in the beginning of 2019 killed Qasem Soleimani; the head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations wing of the


And therefore, this is sort of -- we've seen certainly since December of last year, a series of Israeli attacks on senior Iranian officials, IRGC

officials in Syria in particular. But this is the most senior -- and the fact that this happened in Damascus in what was officially an Iranian

diplomatic complex.

This is technically in diplomatic terms, this is a strike on Iran itself. It's going to be very difficult for the Iranians who have always stressed

strategic patience, sort of striking at the time and the place of their choosing. It's going to be very difficult for them to maintain any

semblance of deterrence against Israel and the United States, if you want to mention them as well.

In the aftermath of this, if they don't respond in some way or other, they will come out of this looking weak, and certainly, the Iranians don't want

to appear weak before its allies in the region.

SOARES: And as we --


SOARES: Heard in the last ten minutes or so, John Kirby saying the U.S. had nothing to do with the Iran consulate strike in Syria. Ben Wedeman there

for us in Beirut, great to see you, Ben, thank you very much. Well, the Biden administration is getting ready to green-light the sale of up to 50

new American-made fighter jets to Israel.

That is according to sources who say the deal is expected to be worth more than $18 billion, and that would make it the largest U.S. military sale to

Israel since the start of the war with Hamas nearly six months ago. The jets haven't been built yet, and would likely not be delivered for about

five years.

The U.S. is also expected to notify Congress soon that it plans to sell Israel equipment for guided munitions. Our Natasha Bertrand joins me now

from the Pentagon.


And Natasha, I wonder, following this attack on World Central Kitchen, whether this perhaps shakes the goodwill of the Biden administration or is

the White House having any second thoughts about this deal following this attack, what are you hearing?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, Isa, we are not seeing any signs that the administration is thinking twice about

its arms relationship with Israel. The U.S. has repeatedly said, including as recently as today, with Secretary of State Blinken speaking in Paris,

that it is making an investment, a long-term investment in Israel's security.

And these military sales are a part of that longstanding defense relationship that the U.S. has with Israel. And so, we're not seeing any

signs that even though the administration repeatedly has called out Israel on its operations in Gaza and how they need to rein them in, and how they

need to do more to protect civilians, there are no signs that they're willing to temper their arms relationship with the Israelis.

And no signs that they plan to restrict or condition military aid in any way. There have been some discussions at various levels about how they

could do that and what that would look like. But in practice, in reality, it just does not seem like President Biden specifically is willing to do

that at this moment.

And that is because they feel as though that could undermine the totality of the United States' alliances around the world. Basically that if you

undercut the military and arms relationship with the Israelis, then that could lead to some, you know, hesitation, among other U.S. allies that the

U.S. is going to continue to support them as well.

And so, with this F-15 sale that we are seeing, the U.S. has committed preliminarily to providing them with $18 billion worth of these fighter

jets, something that comes at a very delicate moment when these arms sales are under extreme scrutiny. So, it's unclear how this is going to play out

on Capitol Hill where lawmakers essentially need to move forward with either blocking it or approving it in the next couple of months.

SOARES: Yes, and important to point out that some Democratic lawmakers have called for the restricting -- having a military aid to Israel with, of

course, unless there are conditions such as delivering humanitarian aid and protecting of course, civilians there. Natasha, appreciate it. Natasha

Bertrand for us at the Pentagon.

And still to come tonight, a major fire in Istanbul, Turkey. Details ahead on the dozens of construction workers killed, and the response from the

authorities. That is next.



SOARES: Welcome back everyone. Dozens have been killed from a fire at a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish state media report the death toll

has risen to at least 29 after the blaze at the Masquerade Club. And despite being a nightclub, this wasn't at night. This happened earlier in

the day during renovation work. There are reports eight people have been detained in connection with the fire.

Scott McLean joins us now from the scene in Istanbul. And Scott, what more can you tell us about this fire and how it started? What are you learning?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isa, yes, we don't know how it started at this stage, but I can tell you how it ended. If you look over here, it was

the lower floors of this 16-story building that the fire ripped through initially, and then you can see on the side of the building how high it

managed to climb up in a very short period of time.

We spoke to a neighbor in this building right here who told us that she initially heard screams coming from the building, she thought that it was

her own building that was on fire and in a panic, when she couldn't initially open her own door, she ended up climbing down the balcony.

What is especially odd and I'll just take you over here and show you kind of the neighborhood. This is a very residential area. This is where people

live. There's like one coffee shop on the corner over there, but there's not much else. So, this is an odd place for there to be a nightclub.

We also spoke to some neighbors who live across the street, and they said that there were many people who didn't like the fact that there was a

nightclub there in the first place. There are plenty of firefighters on scene right now, the Istanbul police chief is actually doing a tour of the


As you mentioned, eight people had been detained, and that includes the business manager of the nightclub. It also includes the person responsible

for the metal work renovations being done inside of the club at the time. We have also spoken to plenty of neighbors in this area, who say that look,

they've been in the club, they know what it looks like, it goes down a few floors, there is only one way in and one way out.

And so, this is the kind of place that if there was going to be a fire, you would not want to be inside. And obviously, in this case, this has

especially tragic circumstances. This building was inspected by the Fire Department according to Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, newly re-elected by the way.

In 2018, by the local authorities, the local Besiktas is the name of the district here and the Fire Department. Now, that this has happened, though,

of course, there are going to be questions about how this kind of a building, given that there were, you know, only one way in, one way out,

could have gotten the sign off from the Fire Department as suitable for this kind of a night-life establishment, considering how many people they

likely would have packed in there, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, many questions still unanswered. Scott McLean, great to see you, thanks very much, Scott. Well, Finland is observing a national day of

mourning on Wednesday after 12-year-old died and two others were seriously wounded in a school shooting. And it happened at a primary school near the

capital, Helsinki.

Finnish police say they have a 12-year-old suspect in custody, who is a fellow student of the victims. Authorities say the gun used in the shooting

belongs to a close relative of the suspect. Even though, Finland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, school shootings are

extremely rare.

We'll stay across that story for you. Well, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has important meetings with European officials this week to discuss

some of the world's biggest crisis, there are certainly a few here. He is starting his trip in Paris, you can see there, where he's due to meet with

French President Emmanuel Macron. One major item on the agenda as you'd expect is the support for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia has launched an investigation after a drone targeted one of its largest refineries. It happened deep inside Russian territory in

Tatarstan region. Our Nic Robertson joins now on set here with the details on Blinken's visit, and we'll talk about the drone strike in just a minute.

What are we expecting to hear from this meeting with Macron and Blinken? Really, Ukraine front-and-center. But the question of aid, U.S. aid, it's

very much hanging in the balance here, Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is. And there's a sort of a quid pro quo here because of the Europeans and here, Macron

pushes on, you know, why doesn't the United States stumping up the money, the same with the European Union has, for Ukraine.

The message for the United States will be -- and how is everyone at NATO doing with their contributions? So, there's a balance here. But I think

there is a bit of a nudge factor going on with the French. And he met with the Defense Minister in the morning, they were at an armaments factory.

The French Defense Minister at the weekend had spoken about sending hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine, spoken about sending new missiles,

spoken about perhaps increasing armaments production. The shells that Ukraine desperately needs at the frontline. Well, guess what?

It's actually the Germans and the Czechs that are really --

SOARES: Yes --

ROBERTSON: Ramping up the increase. So, I think there's a sense in Europe that France could do more.

SOARES: And that's something I've been hearing from several foreign ministers --

ROBERTSON: And listen to what Blinken said. He said, you know, France is doing really well, but they're very important nation for leading the way in

Europe. This is diplomatic language for --



ROBERTSON: -- you know, we're coming here to shake your hand and give you a nudge that we want you really to do more and set the standard -- help set

the standard. Germany shouldn't shoulder all of this. So, I -- you know, I think that's part of it. And yes, there will be other issues like Lebanon,

like, Israel, but also like, Armenia, which we heard from the French foreign minister about.

SOARES: Let's focus on this strike -- drone strike that we've seen, inside Russia. I mean, we have been seeing drone combat, really, redefining

warfare the beginning -- since the beginning of this conflict in Ukraine. Talk to us about this strike in particular. This is deep inside Russia, but

also hitting an oil refinery. Talk of the tactics straight from Ukraine.

ROBERTSON: Super accurate, right?

SOARES: Yes, yes.

ROBERTSON: Super destructive, super costly for Russia. That's what Ukraine wants to do.

SOARES: Absolutely. It probably has more effect than any sanction, potentially.

ROBERTSON: So, yes, absolutely. Drones have kind of defined warfare in Ukraine, set new standards, but there are new standards coming and we're

witnessing it right now. A.I. technology. Look, both NATO helping Ukraine defeat Russian drones and Russia trying to defeat Ukrainian drones, trying

to defeat them the old-fashioned drones. The old-fashioned drones use satellites and GPS to navigate their way around. They listen to the

electronics, OK.


ROBERTSON: Jam that, you jam the drone. No, not with these smart drones. You preprogram them using A.I. so that they learn the terrain that they're

flying over. They don't need to connect to a satellite or GPS on the ground. They read the ground, they know the target, so nothing effectively,

apart from a shot, can stop them.

So, that's why I hit this refinery really accurately. Very important refinery. Very deep inside Russia. One of many Ukrainians hit recently.

Zelenskyy saying Russians should now understand how vulnerable their war machine is. It hits the economy, potentially 12 percent of Russia's --


ROBERTSON: -- oil refine -- OK. So, here's another thing about that strike. It wasn't just -- you know, they could have chosen multiple targets, but

they chose a part of the refinery that requires western components to repair that stuffs on the sanctions.

SOARES: That's scary, yes.

ROBERTSON: OK. So, they're really finding -- but they could escalate more. They could hit oil terminals and oil ports and facilities that would knock

a lot of Russian oil off -- more Russian oil off the market, not sitting well with the White House that didn't want Ukraine to strike deep in


SOARES: But we're seeing more and more of it.

ROBERTSON: And we are, and what's the cost? The cost actually is in the pocket of all those people who are going to vote in the U.S. elections this

year. And that's not something the White House, you know, speaking seriously here. That's not something the White House really wants to see.

So, you know, part of the quid pro quo, if you call it that. Of getting weapons from the United States and other partners is not to damage the

fragility of the oil market and undermine the political support that's necessary. The public support --

SOARES: Indeed, but finding --

ROBERTSON: -- to give Ukraine what it wants.

SOARES: Indeed. But we're running out of time, but finding a way around that when you don't have that support, right?

ROBERTSON: And the money's not coming. So, Ukraine's taking the message in their own hands with the tech that they're developing building. And this is

the future drones and Russia is going to do it to Ukraine pretty soon.

SOARES: Nic, appreciate it as always. Thank you very much.

And still to come right here on the show, Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail today in two key states. We'll have a live report from one

of his stops.

Plus, how the Florida Supreme Court made getting an abortion even harder in the state. A look at that new ruling. Those stories, just ahead. You are

watching CNN.



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.

SOARES: And Donald Trump is in the swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin today. He's back on the campaign trail after posting the $175 million bond

in his New York civil fraud trial. He posted bond on the same day Trump media shares plummeted, and that resulted in a paper loss of $1 billion.

Also, on Monday, a gag order in the hush money trial against the former president was expanded. The judge said the former president cannot comment

about family members of the court and of the district attorney.

Keeping an eye on all these threats for us is -- in Michigan is Alayna Treene. Alayna, I can see the podium behind you there, campaigning today.

What are we expecting to hear from him, and just explain to our viewers internationally how crucial Michigan is in this election.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, that's right, Isa. Donald Trump will be taking the podium behind me at any moment now. And look, both Michigan and

Wisconsin are critical battleground states, not just for Donald Trump, but also for President Joe Biden. Donald Trump won these states in 2016, but

lost them to Biden in 2020.

And so, what Donald Trump is trying to do here is to really make up some of the groundwork that he can ahead of November. And in my conversations with

Trump's advisers, they do tell me that they are confident that he has a shot at winning both of these states in a general election. They said, they

have been looking at polling that shows him and Biden neck and neck in these states. But of course, it's still very early, and that's why you're

seeing such an aggressive push for him.

Now, as for the broader themes of what we're going to hear from Donald Trump, both here in Michigan and in Wisconsin, it's really about the issues

that helped propel him to his victory in these states in 2016. And that's immigration and crime.

The event here has been labeled by the Trump campaign as Biden's, "Bloodbath" or "Bloodbath on the Border" is how they've been calling it.

And it's really, using a term -- a controversial term, I should say, that Donald Trump used several weeks ago that received a lot of backlash from

both Democrats and Republicans when he used it to describe the impact on the auto industry and the country overall if Biden were to win in November.

He's also going to be highlighting a lot of violent crimes or alleged violent crimes, I should say, committed by undocumented immigrants here in

the United States, including -- and that is a family of Ruby Garcia. She was someone who was recently killed here in Michigan by an undocumented


And so again, really highlighting some of the inflammatory rhetoric that Donald Trump has used to highlight his point and criticize Joe Biden of his

handling of the southern border.

SOARES: Yes, we are seeing some of the inflammatory comments in the podium just right behind you. ?Let's focus on the legal issues here because, and

in particular on the gag order, that has been expanded by the judge.


I mean, Trump does seem, Alayna, to be walking, dancing up very close to that line. Talk us through what he's been saying and the potential tactic

here, perhaps, to distract or to delay.

TREENE: Right. Well, that's exactly what he's trying to do. And you're totally right, Isa, he did toe that line this morning when railing against

the judge in his New York hush money trial for expanding the gag order. And his latest post this morning actually did not violate the latest gag order.

That latest gag order was really to protect family members of the judge, of the court, as well as the Manhattan district attorney who is bringing this

case against Donald Trump. And that comes after the former president had attacked the judge's daughter, leading him to expand that gag order.

But look, this is exactly the playbook we have seen from Donald Trump time and again. He attacks the prosecutors and those bringing these charges

against him as being political. He argued this morning on Truth Social that the judge is corrupt, that he should be recused -- and that he should

recuse himself, I should say, and that the case should be thrown out.

This is what he's using to try and convince his supporters that his legal issues and his legal battles are, in his eyes, bogus, of course. They have

a lot of claims that they will be bringing in his upcoming trial that just kicks off later this month. Isa.

SOARES: Yes, perhaps help him with a base, helps him with funding, very much a playbook that we have seen before.

TREENE: Exactly.

SOARES: Alayna Treene, great to see you. Thanks, Alayna.

Well, reproductive rights are a major issue with American voters this election year. And the focus right now is in Florida. The state Supreme

Court has just cleared the way for one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States. The justices upheld the state's 15-week ban on

abortion, a ruling that will allow a six-week ban to take effect within 30 days.

Many women do not even realize, of course, they are pregnant at six weeks. President Joe Biden slams the ruling with a new campaign ad attacking

Donald Trump on abortion, as you can see there. his team is courting Florida voters in hopes of winning the state in November's presidential


Joining us now from the very latest from Florida is Carlos Suarez. And Carlos, just walk us through, first of all, this ballot measure and how it

may potentially change the electoral landscape here.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's Democrats here in Florida believe that this issue of abortion will help them better organize a common

November. They feel that the issue of abortion will turn out Democratic voters, and they also point to some polling showing that some of these

reproductive health services are pretty popular, even among some Republicans.

Now, the same Florida Supreme Court, rather, also approved a ballot amendment which will put the issue before voters and could expand access to

reproductive health care here in Florida. Now, the state is about to join several other states across the south that really severely restrict, if not

ban abortions. About 84,000 women last year, received reproductive services here in Florida with a number of women coming to Florida from neighboring

states that have abortion -- restrictions on abortions.

Now, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, HE was here in South Florida this morning for an event on reproductive health

care. And he talked about the ruling in the context of IVF care in the state of Alabama, as well as the overall debate that's taking place here in

the U.S. when it comes to medication abortion services. Here's a bit of what he said.


XAVIER BECERRA, U.S. SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: No woman in America should live in a medical apartheid. And now it had become clear

that Roe v. Wade was more than just about abortion. It should be now clear that Dobbs was more than just about abortion.


SUAREZ: All right. So, where this ballot amendment in Florida stands? The state Supreme Court, they approved the wording of this state constitutional

amendment that would protect the right to an abortion in Florida. This ballot amendment would prohibit the restriction of an abortion before

viability, which is key because that's around the 24 to the 28 weeks of pregnancy.

It is important to note here that 60 percent of voters in Florida would have to approve it in November in order for it to pass. But Isa, as you can

imagine, both of these rulings, the decision to allow this six-week ban to take effect in 30 days, as well as the fact that voters will be the ones

that decide on this constitutional amendment ballot, you can expect all of those issues to play out politically come November as some Democrats here

in Florida said, they expect to campaign on this issue and on the ballot amendment. While some top Republicans in Florida have said, they are going

to campaign against that ballot amendment.

SOARES: Carlos Suarez there for us in Florida. Thanks very much, Carlos. Good to see you.


And still to come tonight, Iran vows retaliation against Israel after a deadly airstrike in Damascus. And international reaction to an Israeli

attack that killed at least seven aid workers in Gaza. Lots for us to talk about after this short break.


SOARES: While condemnation is stacking up from around the world after an Israeli airstrike killed at least seven aid workers in Gaza, the United

Kingdom summoned the Israeli ambassador in London over the deaths, which included three British nationals. Australia, is asking for full

accountability for the loss of an Australian citizen. And the U.S. is calling for a swift, as well as thorough investigation after U.S.-Canadian

dual citizen was killed in the strike.

Meantime, Iran has vowed to retaliate after an alleged Israeli strike on its consulate in Damascus in Syria. Two top Iranian commanders were killed,

along with five other Iranian officials, state media reported.

Let's get more on those stories. Ali Vaez is director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, and joins us now from Washington. Ali,

welcome to the show. Look, let me start off with that attack in the Iranian embassy in Damascus. A story, of course, we broke at this time here on the

show yesterday.

As you would have heard, Israel hasn't claimed responsibility for the attack, but it has argued right here on CNN that the target was, "A

military building off Quds force". As we know as well, and you will know this very well. Israel has been attacking Iranian and Iranian allied

interest in Syria for years. How different from those attacks is this? I mean, is this an escalation in your view?

ALI VAEZ, IRAN PROJECT DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: It is a significant escalation because it crosses a new line. Israel might say and

decide on its own which facility is a diplomatic facility or not, but this was certainly a building in the compound of Iranian embassy in Damascus.

And in fact, it was a building that was the consulate of Iran and also the residence of the ambassador. and targeting any country's embassy is

basically targeting a country on its own sovereign soil. And that -- and that's why it's a major escalation.

SOARES: Given that then, Ali, I mean, how will then Iran retaliate? Will it retaliate? Will it depend on its proxies in the regions? I'm thinking

Hezbollah, the Houthis, this axis of resistance also.


VAEZ: Well, look, I think Iran is facing a dilemma because if it does retaliate, it risks a significant escalation or even direct confrontation

with the U.S. or Israel, which is something that it clearly does not want.

But if it doesn't retaliate, then basically all Iranian embassies in the region are a fair game. And Iran basically no longer has any safe haven out

of which it can operate in the region. It no longer can sustain its military presence in countries like Syria or Lebanon or Iraq, where it

actually is strategically very important for Iran to have a presence.

And so, it is very likely that we will see a response. But I think the response is likely to be in line with Iran's traditional way of

retaliating, which is indirect and often through his partners and proxy. It also usually likes to retaliate in a proportionate manner. So, I think,

unfortunately, what poses a significant risk here is Iran targeting Israeli diplomatic facilities in the region or around the world.

SOARES: Right. So, consulates or embassies. I mean, let me pick up on the balancing act on how Iran threads this needle. Because as we've Iran --

until now, Iran has, kind of, avoided, right? Directly entering this -- the fray of this conflict and it has avoided being sucked into a wider war. But

it feels, clearly as we've heard today from the president of Iran that it needs to respond, but without drawing the U.S. in. So how then does it

thread that needle without bringing the U.S. into this?

VAEZ: It's a very difficult balancing act. But, again, I think what we're likely to see, is an indirect Iranian response that would at least leave

Iran with plausible deniability, but it would have to exact the price on Israel. Otherwise, it feels like it has lost deterrence against Israel and

the region, and that would be a slippery slope.


VAEZ: So, you know, we have seen in the past, in the 1990s, Iran targeted indirectly, of course, through its proxies, Israeli embassy in Buenos

Aires. In 2012, we saw Iran -- Iranian-backed militias targeting an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria.

So, there is precedent for this kind of act of terrorism, that would basically exact a crime -- cost on Israel or it's attack on Iranian

diplomatic facility.

SOARES: Ali, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Ali Vaez there, thank you very much, Ali.

VAEZ: Thank you.

SOARES: We're going to take a short break. We're back after this.



SOARES: Nearly $1.1 billion, that is the whopping size of the U.S. Powerball jackpot that is still up for grabs after Monday's draw produced

for no winner. Wednesday's top prize will be the fourth largest in Powerball history. The overall odds, for those of you wondering whether you

should get in on this, of winning the jackpot, though, are slim. Players have one in more than 290 million chance of getting that. So, if you become

the holder of the next golden ticket, well, you can consider yourself the winner more than extremely lucky.

And finally, tonight, a programming note for you, do join us on Monday for the total solar eclipse as it travels, of course, from Mexico across the

United States and into Canada, experience the total eclipse from several locations with plenty, as you can imagine, plenty of science and


I'm hearing lots of families already traveling to the region, trying to get a glimpse of it. We will be across it, as you can imagine. Our special

coverage starts at 1:00 p.m. eastern Time on Monday, right here on CNN.

And that does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, though, because my colleague, Jim Sciutto, is

up next with "Newsroom". I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.