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Isa Soares Tonight

Middle East On Edge As Israel Mulls Response To Iran Attack; Historic Trump Criminal Trial Begins In New York; Allies Urge Caution As Israel Weighs Response To Iran; Historic Trump Criminal Trial Begins With Jury Selection; Middle East On Edge After Iran Attacks Israel; U.S. Asks For Caution In Israel's Response To Iran. 2-3p ET

Aired April 15, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome, everyone, I'm Isa Soares coming to you from London.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Jim Sciutto in New York outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump, his hush

money trial now underway.

SOARES: And we of course, have two major stories for you this hour, the Middle East is on a knife-edge as Israel decides how to respond to a

series of direct Iranian attacks that threatened to tip the region into an all-out war.

SCIUTTO: As I mentioned, Donald Trump has now become the first former U.S. President ever to face a criminal trial happening in the courthouse right

behind me here.

SOARES: Yes, and it's important on that note, Jim, to put this into context for all our viewers, because this isn't just a normal trial. This is the

former president of the United States and the Republican presumptive nominee. Just speak to that moment, to the viewers right around the world

and the scene in the court near the court house where you are. What does it feel like at this moment?

SCIUTTO: It's a remarkable moment. This is, as you say, a former president, but also a current nominee for president inside the courtroom facing a

criminal trial. And by the way, not clear that this will be the only criminal trial he faces this year. He's charged in three other cases.

One involving the events of January 6th, another involving his handling of classified documents. And yet, one more attempt to covering his alleged

attempts to overturn the election results in the state of Georgia. But it is in this Manhattan courtroom where he is facing those first charges, more

than 30 of them for falsifying business records extensively for hush money payments paid to a former adult film star.

But at the core of the prosecutions argument is that, this was an attempted effect to interfere in the 2016 election by hiding that affair to influence

the outcome of that election. We're just into jury selection now, the trial itself has not begun, our justice reporter Katelyn Polantz joins us now

from Washington D.C. to give us an update on what we saw today.

And Katelyn, a series of motions, requests from the defense lawyers for Trump, many of them turned down before we get to the crucial stage of

picking a jury. Tell us the highlights of this morning.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, so, it's been four hours since the court was sworn in this morning. The people versus Donald

J. Trump began, and the jury has not yet come in, even potential jurors haven't been inside the courtroom yet. We're waiting for that to happen


But over the last several hours, there've been a lot of discussions with the judge of exactly what can be said, cannot be said, what evidence can be

asked about, what witnesses can be asked about, what they can't be asked about whenever they are on the stand when the jury is seated.

Some of those things that they are allowed to hear about is regarding an affair allegedly that Donald Trump had with a model and actress named Karen

McDougal, who was paid money for her story, and then that story was silenced in the 2016 campaign.

But there are certain details about the timing of that affair that can't be part of court, same thing around Michael Cohen, around some of the issues

around "The National Enquirer", the "Access Hollywood" tape that we talked so much about in 2016 in that campaign.

That is not going to be played for the jury, Jim. It is something though, that could have some testimony about it. We may be able to hear about some

of Donald Trump and his campaign's reactions of how he wanted to position himself for female voters.

In 2016, that all crucially goes back to the point prosecutors are trying to make here, that Donald Trump had reason to want to silence Stormy

Daniels with a $130,000 payment that he falsified allegedly in his business records in the 2016 campaign, because he didn't want it to hurt his chances

with voters, especially women across the nation at that time.

So, all of that was fleshed out this morning, there's going to be a lot more of the discussions that are very similar to that gym.


But the other thing, the last thing that happened right before we're in the position now waiting for jurors, potential jurors to come in by the dozens

and face questions, is that the judge scheduled an order for adhering for next Wednesday on whether Trump should be sanctioned $3,000 for violating

the gag order because of Truth Social post he has made about potential witnesses in this case. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Right, well, and at the core of the prosecutor's argument, and one reason some of that evidence you discussed was allowed in, is because

they're trying to establish a pattern of behavior here. And that is to an effect pay off to keep stories from being reported during election season.

And that's the -- that's the core of the felony case here. You now have many hundreds of juror candidates that have been called here and that are

going to be weeding through those candidates, both prosecutors and defense attorneys asking questions, which is by the way a process that happens for

every criminal trial that takes place in this building behind me or in any courthouse around the country.

Can you give us a sense and do we know how long we expect that process to take before they arrive at 12 jurors, who will eventually sit in judgment

of the former president.

POLANTZ: Yes, Jim, it's 12 jurors, plus six alternates. So, they are going to have to get a lot of people --

SCIUTTO: Right --

POLANTZ: That they feel comfortable with on this jury, and it will take time, it will take days. Often, jurors are questioned one by one in this

case, the judge was just setting how that's going to work with the prosecutors and the defense, and the jurors are going to come into the

courtroom one-by-one to answer questions from both sides.

If they're allowed pass the initial level, right? You don't have a health issue that prevents you from serving on the jury. You don't have a timing

issue with your job or vacations or such. So, they'll bring people in one- by-one. There's 30 minutes rounds, 20-minute rounds to question these prospective jurors one-by-one.

And so, there is an established questionnaire of 42 questions, that's a lot in any case, criminal or civil when you're trying to sit a jury where these

people are going to be asked those questions. And then on top of that, there can be additional questions that the prosecutors and defense team can

get -- can get to with these individuals to try and make sure they can be unbiased.

SCIUTTO: And just very quickly, Katelyn, will Trump be in there for all of those questions facing all of those jurors, potential jurors?

POLANTZ: Indeed, he will, and he certainly has a right to be as well as a criminal defendant on trial here facing the jury of peers. Trump is already

having some indication he wants to be pretty engaged in his defense in this case. His attorneys told the judge earlier today he's even going to want to

take part in the sidebar conversations.

So, those are conversations when the jury is in the room and the prosecutors and defense, they motion up to the judge, want to talk to him,

and they go and they talk very quietly, so, no one else in the courtroom can hear. Trump wants to be in those conversations, either too. Jim?

SCIUTTO: Yes, he calculates to some degree, it's in his political interests too. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much, you said that is the situation we

face here in New York. One crucial day of many crucial days to come.

SOARES: Indeed, and we'll touch back with you in about ten minutes or so from New York. Thanks very much, Jim. And right now, tensions are running

high over concerns the conflict between Iran and Israel will spiral out of control. The Israeli war cabinet wrapped up its second meeting when really

the response to an unprecedented Iranian missile attack on Israel over the weekend.

It's not clear whether any decisions were made. The cabinet was mulling both military as well as diplomatic response. Israel says it intercepted

nearly all of its missiles fired by Iran. Tehran launched the attack following the bombing, of course, of the Iranian consulate in Syria.

A short time ago, U.S. President Joe Biden made his first public statements since the missile strikes. This is what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States is committed to Israel's security. We're committed to a ceasefire that will bring the

hostages home and preventing conflict from spreading beyond what it already has. We're also committed to security of our personnel and partners

in the region, including Iraq.


SOARES: Well, our Jeremy Diamond is in Tel Aviv for us this hour, Ben Wedeman is monitoring regional reactions from Beirut in Lebanon. And to you

first, Jeremy, give us a sense of what is coming out or what has come out so far of this war cabinet meeting, what are you hearing as to what

possible response from it that Israel may be considering at this day?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, I can't tell you whether or not there has been a decision out of this war cabinet meeting,

sources simply will not say at this stage, which is interesting in and of itself. But what I can tell you is that the war cabinet reviewed military

options for a strike against Iran in response to this first and unprecedented attack that Iran waged against Israel on late Saturday night,

early Sunday morning.


I'm told that they reviewed those military options, and that the war cabinet is determined to respond to Iran's attack. What was being debated

though, was how quickly Israel should respond to this attack and how -- what the scope of that attack should be, whether to go with an all-out

response that could potentially trigger a very hot war between Israel and Iran, or to go with something more measured, something that is favored by

Israel's allies who are urging restraints at this hour.

Now, I can also tell you that the top Israeli General Herzi Halevi, he just delivered some remarks where he said that we are looking ahead, he said we

are considering our steps and saying that this launch of so many missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs into the territory of the state of Israel will be

met with a response.

I can also tell you from speaking with an Israeli official that there was a sense coming out of this cabinet meeting after deliberations about how

quickly or not Israel should act, that the cabinet seems united in the idea of acting sooner rather than later. So, that can give you some indication

of what may come.

But certainly, this is a moment of uncertainty and a potential inflection point where we wait for Israel's response and what it could potentially

trigger next.

SOARES: Yes, and Ben, like we just heard from Jeremy say, we know that the Israeli war cabinet is determined to retaliate against the retaliation we

don't know clearly at this stage as Jeremy was saying, the when and the how, but potentially, a symmetric response is a possibility, given that.

What would this mean for Hezbollah and Iran's proxies here?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, they have made it clear, we've heard from officials close to Hezbollah that in

the event that Israel strikes back following the weekend's volley of rockets and drones on Israel, that Hezbollah at least will become much more

directly involved in it is now in addition to the daily strikes and counter-strikes we're seeing on the border between Lebanon and Israel, that

Lebanon Hezbollah could go fall in.

And really the concern is that it's about the nature of Israel's response. Now, it's important to keep in mind that most of the regimes -- and I'm not

talking about his but non-state actors, but most Arab regimes have no love for the Iranian regime, but they are really concerned about the nature of

Israel's response.

We saw that Jordan, Saudi Arabia, others either were directly involved in the defense of Israel or provided critical Intelligence heads-up, for

instance, that something was coming. But what they don't want to see is a full-out and all-out war as Jeremy was talking about.

Now, we heard over the weekend, for instance, Israeli officials telling CNN that they're mulling two possibilities, either in the words of one Israeli

official, breaking all the dishes, or a more measured response. If it is pinpoint, very measured, perhaps the Israelis can take the box and say, OK,

we did it, we took revenge on the Iranians.

Now, let's move on. But if it's a question of breaking all the dishes, then all options are open, and obviously, Hezbollah, which until now has been

limited, its actions against Israel to really the border area. It's not using its longer-range weaponry that could come into play, in which case,

all bets are off.

SOARES: Indeed --


SOARES: Ben Wedeman there for us and Jeremy as well, thank you to you both. Well, just a few hours ago, Secretary Blinken calling for restraint,

telling Israel that quote, "strength and wisdom need to be different sides of the same coin."

Meanwhile, other allies right around the world, the U.K., France and Ja- pain(ph) -- and Japan, pardon me, just to name a few are also calling for cooler heads as Israel vows to exact a price from Iran. I like to bring in

a former Israeli Consul General in New York, Alon Pinkas, who was also foreign policy adviser Ehud Barak and the political adviser to Shimon

Peres, a well-known face here on the show.

Welcome back to the show, Alon, great to have you this evening. We are waiting of course, as you heard there for our Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem,

waiting for the Israeli war cabinet meeting and how they may respond to the -- Iran. What are you hearing that is being considered right now?

ALON PINKAS, FORMER ISRAELI CONSUL GENERAL: Well, the key -- the key question, Isa, is obviously, how to bounce between retaliating -- and let's

not forget, this is a retaliation against a retaliation.

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: And American pressure is primarily American pressures to avoid escalation because, you know, the -- hell is going to break loose once you



And if you do it in an asymmetrical way, this could lead to a broadly general war as President Biden would just say. So, what the war cabinet is

essentially doing, well, I'd like to think at least that this is what they're doing is going through a cost benefit or cost effective analysis in

a matrix or a menu, if you will, of what can we do and what would be the predicted or estimated Iranian response? Number one.

Number two, where should these targets be, inside Iran or outside Iran? Number three, the timing. Should this be done now or should this be done at

a later date, then you know the diplomatically show, Isa, we will respond in a place and a time of our --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Choosing. And you know, and all that. All this, you have to bear in mind to put it in little broader perspective. Is that, in the last two

weeks, there have been essentially two paradigm shift. The first was Israel's strike in Damascus. This was the first time in a long time that

Israel applied so-called strategic proportionality, meaning that it did not strike proxies or indirect, you know, terror groups supported by Iran.

It struck Iran directly in a building that had, or at least supposedly had some kind of diplomatic immunity in Damascus -- I'm sorry housing or

several generals from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The second paradigm shift was the Iranian response --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: Because the Iranians never attacked Israel in such a way in terms of scale, scope and straightforward.

SOARES: And what we have -- we have heard, of course -- I want to play you a little clip from Ben-Gvir; the National Security Minister, because this

is what he thinks, Alon, ought to be the response from Israel. Have a listen to this.


ITAMAR BEN-G-VIR, NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER, ISRAEL (through translator): Israel's response must not be weak. In the style of the two bombings we saw

in previous years in Gaza. The concept of containment and proportionality are concepts that passed away on the 7th of October.

In order to create deterrence in the Middle East, the landlord must go crazy.


SOARES: So, I mean, how would this -- how a response of this nature you think be received by Israelis? Would they -- would they want to see a

response that mirrors the actions of Iran. Just talk to the pressures --


SOARES: On Netanyahu from the right flank of his party.

PINKAS: Well, you know, Mr. Ben-Gvir is an ignoramus -- ignoramus-thought. He does not know what he's talking about. He's never -- he never served one

day in the army. He was never privy to such issues, so yes, he has a title and a T-shirt that says Minister for National Security, but that's where it


The public -- I am not sure -- I haven't seen any polls, Isa, but I don't think that the public wants any escalation here. The calculus that the

government is laying right now is how not to allow this new situation to settle in as a new status quo, where in the Iranians can attack with

immunity and impunity.

I don't -- I am not sure that the public is ready. You know, you should have seen the mood in Israel on the night between Saturday and Sunday, the

13th and 14th of April. People were scared. The uncertainty --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: The unpredictability, the chances that -- and then -- and then they were delighted because of the successful interception. And you know,

conveniently forgot that the U.S., Britain, France and Jordan were responsible for most of them.

SOARES: Indeed --

PINKAS: I'm not sure that --

SOARES: I just -- because we're running out of time, and I want to pick on something that I've seen you written, because one of your pieces that you

wrote in "Haaretz" news, you wrote this, I'm going to read it out, I think we've got a little graphic for our viewers.

"Since November, the U.S. has gradually reached the conclusion that not only does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliberately strive for an open

confrontation with President Joe Biden over Gaza, he also wants to broaden the war and regionalize it.

This seems counterintuitive and irrational, but is consistent with Netanyahu's fabricated alternative narrative that this is all about Iran,

not October the 7th." Just explain that for our viewers, what is the plan here from Prime Minister Netanyahu? He wants to escalate this further?

PINKAS: Well, the -- no, he wants to escalate this provided that the U.S. gets involved. Meaning he wants to drag this, he's toying with the idea.

He's flirting with the concept that the U.S. will attack Iran in the context of a regional war.


What I think he's failing to understand is that the U.S. won't do this. But -- so, he's trying to somehow lure them into it by threatening escalation.

Now, the rationale is that this was not just the Hamas attack on October 7th, but this is part of a broader civilizational confrontation between the

West and Islamo-fascist Iran and so on and so forth. The more he feels this could be --

SOARES: Yes --

PINKAS: A narrative that people buy, the less accountable he is for October 7th.

SOARES: Alon Pinkas, I wish we had more time, always wonderful to have you on the show and to get your analysis, thank you, Alon, really appreciate


PINKAS: Thank you, Isa.

SOARES: Thank you. I want to show you these live pictures coming in to CNN. And there as you can see there, protesters are -- in the U.S. are blocking

major highways. This is in San Francisco, California, including some of the protests on the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, in San Francisco.

It's 11:20 in the morning there. The protests are part of a worldwide economic blockade in solidarity with Palestinians. And this is on the

bridge as you can see those cars pretty much halted, some people have gotten out of their cars. We'll keep on top of these developments, of

course, or we'll bring it to you if, of course, there is any more.

And still to come tonight, more of our coverage of Donald Trump's first criminal trial. We'll have new sketches from inside the Manhattan

courtroom. Jim Sciutto will be up next.


SCIUTTO: No cameras, no audio, but lots of ears inside that courtroom, the focus very much on Donald Trump who makes history today as the first former

U.S. President to face a criminal trial with brand new sketches from those proceedings which are ongoing.

Prosecutors accused Trump of hiding hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniel. Legal experts say this trial is the latest -- is the least

consequential of the four -- that's right, four criminal cases against him. But it is the only one guaranteed to begin before the November election.

Jury selection should take about a week and the trial itself is expected to last about two months. So, how will this historic trial unfold?


For a legal look at all the questions in this case, let's go now to former state and federal prosecutor, David Weinstein, he joins us now live from

Miami, Florida. David, thanks so much for joining us.


SCIUTTO: So, David, we hear that with most of the procedural questions answered, jurors will soon enter that courtroom to begin their questioning.

We just learned a few moments ago that the judge has decided that they will do so individually, that other potential jurors will be removed from the

courtroom while each juror is questioned in part, the judge said, so that they don't feel like they're in front of an enormous crowd, feel the

pressure of that crowd as they do so.

I wonder, given your participation in a number of proceedings like this, juror questioning, juror selection. What we can expect to see in the coming

days and what kind of questions will be asked of them?

WEINSTEIN: Well, Jim, I think it's a good idea to bring people in individually, not only what you just mentioned, but also to prevent one

juror from giving an answer that taints the rest of the pool. I think what we're going to see from this point forward are questions about these

jurors, their backgrounds and quite frankly, their ability to put all of that aside.

And honestly, tell the judge and the lawyers that they can focus only on the evidence they hear in the courtroom, and that they will agree to follow

the law, whether they agree with the law or not.

SCIUTTO: Five hundred potential jurors per day. It's a remarkably large juror pool for any trial, and I've been called a jury duty, I'm sure some

of the folks watching have as well. You call far more jurors than you need. But for this one, it's a remarkable number because they know that

prosecutors and defense attorneys will be eliminating more than they might in a particular trial, given the defendants sitting on the stand.

How long do you expect it to take to get through all those potential jurors and arrive at that number that the 12 plus the six alternates that will

eventually sit in judgment of the former president.

WEINSTEIN: Well, Jim, now that we're doing it one at a time, it's going to take at least one, if not two weeks. At some point, they'll whittle this

pool down and get themselves, a number that they can start perhaps collectively, questioning jurors.

So, it's going to take time, not only again, because there can't be a person who's never heard of (INAUDIBLE). But I have to believe people have

formed opinions, and we need them, certainly, people who are participating in a trial to be honest about those opinions and their ability to put them


SCIUTTO: This case is certainly historic. We've never seen a former U.S. President on criminal trial who by the way, happens to be running for

president again. But the fact is, U.S. courts have tried politicians before, they've tried famous people before who are well-known to the jury


It is unique, but it's not entirely unprecedented for defense lawyers, judges and prosecutors to face a trial like this in which they have to ask

folks questions about someone that they might have strong opinions about. I suppose my question to you is, how unusual is this or is this a kind of

question that perhaps on a smaller scale, courts have had to deal with before?

WEINSTEIN: Jim, I think it's a question that they've had to deal with a lot before. Remember, in a small town, the defense and every participant in

that courtroom was well-known to everybody. So, it's not unusual. What's unusual here is not only the notoriety that the defense has and the

defendant has, but his outspokenness and seemingly his continuation of stoking the flames of what's being said about him outside the courtroom.

That's what's making this one a little bit more unusual than any other case where people have heard about defendants -- look at cases in New York all

the time. We've had a bunch of them recently where the defendant was well- known to the people who were asked to sit in judgment on that person. So, not unusual, but given the circumstances, this one is rising to yet another


SCIUTTO: You have interviewed jurors yourself before. One of the most unusual circumstances of this particular process of jury selection is that

Donald Trump will be in the room. And I wonder if that is a difficult thing for some jurors to face?

WEINSTEIN: I think any time you have a defendant who has notoriety or has a reputation, it makes it more difficult for a juror to answer the question

and have to look at that person, especially if they know a lot about that person or have a judgment about them, but we need people to be honest.

And if that's going to put them in an uncomfortable position, then they need to tell the court that, because perhaps, they're not a judge, a jury

to sit in judgment of somebody else. But yes, it's going to make things a little more difficult. But again, not an unheard of situation, but one

that's going to have to be put through the test.


SCIUTTO: And, listen, the court system depends on that process, and by the way, a jury of your peers is a right for defendants as well. David

Weinstein, thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

WEINSTEIN: You're welcome. And still to come this evening, worries over the possibility of a wider war in the Middle East. Israel is now weighing its

options as it considers how, if, when to respond to this attack from Iran.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. World leaders are urging restraint as Israel considers its response to a missile attack from Iran. Israel's war

cabinet, as we told you at the top of the hour, met again today. And members seem to agree that there will be a response.

The debate now is over the where, the when, and the how. Iran, for its part, says it's not interested in escalating the conflict. And Iranian

foreign ministry spokesman calls the weekend attack on Israel legitimate.

The missile strikes mark the first time Iran has launched a direct attack on Israel. Our Frederik Pleitgen, who has spent years covering Iran, joins

me now.


And Fred, in the last, I think, what, 45 minutes or so, we heard from John Kirby, I want to play this, what he said regarding the attack of the

weekend. Have a listen to this.



Israel to spectacular -- spectacularly defeat it. Despite launching more than those 300 weapons from Iran in the region, Israel and a coalition of

partners were able to defeat 99 percent of the attacks.


SOARES: So spectacularly defeated it. Was this a win for Israel? I mean, how does Iran see it?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think the Iranians see that at all. I think the Iranians believe that exactly

what happened was supposed to happen for their part. I think they launched these attacks.

And before they actually did launch them, in some cases, apparently up to 72 hours, they notified some of the nations in that area or in that region.

And apparently also, that word got all the way to the United States as well. And it probably is no coincidence that several major countries with

major militaries like the U.S., the U.K. and France, and of course, Jordan as well, had planes in the air, as did the Israelis, ready to intercept a

lot of these drones and some of those cruise missiles also.

So this was definitely not a surprise attack that the Iranians carried out. And I think that these combined forces obviously were able to take down, as

John Kirby put it there, 99 percent of those weapons. But I think for the Iranians, it really was more a show of force than anything else and sending

a message.

I thought it was quite interesting some of the things that we heard from the Revolutionary Guard Corps over the weekend, with the head of the

Revolutionary Guard Corps saying they had originally planned for a larger strike against Israel, but then had revised that to only try and hit the

air base from which they believe that strike on Iran's embassy compound in Damascus was carried out. And of course, there seems to be minor damage at

that base.

However, the Iranians are also saying that they believe that their strike was actually more successful than they would have thought that it would be.

And I think that the points that they say that they were trying to prove in all of this is that they can strike back, they have the weapons to strike

back, they have the precision to strike back. But they're also saying, and this is some of the messaging that we're seeing, especially from the

foreign ministry, that they did -- they do believe that they did show restraint, that they don't want all this to spiral out of control into some

larger war.

However, of course, we also do have those warnings from the Iranians that if there is a large strike by the Israelis, that then the Iranians would

also not show any restraint anymore either.

SOARES: Yes. And what we've heard from Kirby in the last 45 minutes is that saying that it was false, that Iran provided warnings. So the fear, of

course, as you say, Fred, is that it becomes a tit-for-tat and this escalates further.

Frederik Pleitgen for us there in Berlin. Thank you very much, Fred.

Well, U.S. President Joe Biden's pledging ongoing support for Israel, but he also says the US will not take part in any type of offensive against

Iran. Here's what Secretary of State Antony Blinken had to say.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have been coordinating a diplomatic response to seek to prevent escalation. Strength and wisdom need

to be the same sides -- the different sides of the same coin.

I've been in close communication with counterparts in the region and we will continue to do so in the hours and days ahead. We don't seek

escalation, but we'll continue to support the defense of Israel and to protect our personnel in the region.


SOARES: Let's get more on all of this with really what U.S. officials are saying, Natasha Bertrand. Natasha, good to see you. Look, that comment

clearly from Blinken is an implicit call for Israel to exercise some sort of restraint in its response. Is that message and that advice getting

through to Prime Minister Netanyahu?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the short answer is that we don't know. The U.S. officials that we've been speaking

to, they have not necessarily characterized how the Israelis are receiving that message. John Kirby, the National Security Council Advisor, he said

earlier today that all he can say is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very well aware of President Biden's concerns about how Israel is going

to respond.

And President Biden did make clear in a phone call with Netanyahu over the weekend that Israel needs to be very strategic and clear-eyed about how

they move forward on this, because of course, while Iran's attack was unprecedented really in its scope and scale, and just period unprecedented,

the Israelis, they clearly, because of that, feel the need to respond in a meaningful and significant way.

The U.S. understands that, but at the same time, the risk there is that this continues to spiral, continues to escalate, and you get into this

endless tit-for-tat that the U.S. has said repeatedly and publicly that they do not want to get involved in. Yes, they will defend Israel, they

will shoot down incoming missiles and drones, as they have been, but they are not going to participate in any kind of offensive operation against

Iran in coordination with the Israelis, and they have made that extremely clear.

Now, one of the things that we are going to be waiting to see, of course, is what comes out of these war cabinet meetings.


What Israel actually decides here. Are they going to go for some kind of kinetic strike on the territory of Iran, or are they going to go for

something more asymmetrical, for example, a cyber attack, or a more limited operation? That is going to inform, really, how this conflict unfolds.

But the U.S. making it very clear to the Israelis that, really, no matter what happens here, the US is not looking to see this conflict escalate any

further beyond Gaza, something they have been telling them since October 7th.

SOARES: Natasha Bertrand there for us at the Pentagon. Thanks, Natasha. Good to see you.

And if you're just joining us, let me bring you some of the images we are showing in the last, what, 10 minutes or so, pictures there as protesters

in the U.S. block major highways, and this is, for those of you who have been, who know it, of course, the iconic bridge is the Golden Gate Bridge

in San Francisco. The protesters there are distracting traffic on the bridge, as you can see, and we are seeing some arrests there.

These are just recent pictures we are bringing to you. The demonstrations are part of a worldwide economic blockade in solidarity with Palestinians,

but what you are seeing, these are now lives, we were swapping between the live and slightly taped images, but these are live, we are being told, but

you can see the stretch there that -- what the protesters are causing, that block they are causing.

We are being told as well that arrests are now underway as protesters, of course, there block the traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, and not only are

arrests being made, they continue to be made, and traffic, being told by local authorities, was snarled in both directions. We'll keep an eye across

these pictures, of course, and as soon as there are any more developments, we will, of course, bring that to you.

And it's a busy news day, we have some news coming into CNN. The armorer for the film Rust has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for the 2021

on-set fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month. The film's star, Alec Baldwin, is expected to stand trial on a

similar charge in July. We'll stay across this story for you.

Still to come tonight, back to the latest on former U.S. President Donald Trump's historic criminal trial, we'll speak with a man who served under

four American presidents. That story next.



SCIUTTO: A major step in former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal child. Jury selection is just getting underway in the New York courtroom

just behind me here in downtown Manhattan for what is an historic case. The first group of potential jurors has just been sworn in. They are in the

courtroom. They're going to begin facing questions. There are a total of some 200 jurors in the courthouse today for these proceedings. Twelve New

Yorkers, six alternates will ultimately be seated.

Jurors will be vetted through questions that could signal, or at least intended to signal, any political views or biases against the former

president. This is going to take some time. Earlier, attorneys argued over Trump's social media posts.

What evidence and testimony will be allowed during this trial? Former president was in the courtroom. He was read his rights and has barely

spoken, only answering yes three times in the court record. We have been speaking all day about the unprecedented activity happening in that New

York courthouse right now as jury selection is underway.

It is the first ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president. CNN's Brian Todd gives us a closer look at exactly how this historic case against

Donald Trump came to be.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't until almost 12 years after the affair allegedly occurred that the world first learned of the

allegations of hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

In January 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the weeks before the 2016 election, Donald Trump had arranged a $130,000 payment to the

adult film star to keep her from publicly discussing their alleged 2006 encounter.

Later, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified that Trump directed him to make payments to Daniels, "For the principal purpose of influencing

the election."

And that Trump later reimbursed him. Cohen served jail time for campaign finance violations related to the hush money payments and gave jarring

testimony to Congress.

MICHAEL COHEN, DONAL TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's illicit acts rather than listening to

my own conscience.

TODD (voice-over): Donald Trump has always denied having an affair with Stormy Daniels. In April 2018, Trump was asked by reporters about hush


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?


TODD (voice-over): But later in 2018, in an ethics filing, Trump acknowledged reimbursing Michael Cohen for more than $100,000, but didn't

say what it was for. Daniels spoke to Anderson Cooper in a CBS interview about the alleged payment.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Was it hush money to stay silent?

STORMY DANIELS, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: Yes. I believe without a shadow of a doubt in my heart, and some people argue that I don't have one

of those, but whatever, that I was doing the right thing.

TODD (voice-over): That same year, the New Yorker magazine detailed reports that Trump had had an affair with former Playboy model Karen McDougal. She

spoke to Anderson Cooper about it.

KAREN MCDOUGAL, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: The only regret I have about the relationship that I had with Donald was the fact that he was


TODD (voice-over): The Wall Street Journal reported four days before the 2016 election that the publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid had paid

McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story shortly after Trump became the Republican nominee for president, but that the Enquirer never published

the story.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": Catch and kill. That is, pay someone and then kill a story that would be damaging to


MCDOUGAL: I knew the story wasn't going to be printed. They didn't want to hurt him.

TODD (voice-over): Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal. He was indicted a year ago on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records

related to the Daniels hush money payments. He's pleaded not guilty. Cohen, Daniels and McDougal are among those expected to be on the witness list for

this trial. How credible a witness would Daniels be?

STAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: She seemed like she would make a very good witness. If I were trying the case, I'd be happy to put her on the

stand. What really helps the prosecution here is what she is talking about is all corroborated in the documents.

TODD: The trial is scheduled to begin Monday with jury selection. Potential jurors will be asked 42 questions, including their feelings about Donald

Trump, whether they ever participated in a rally for or against Trump, and whether they can be fair and impartial. But they won't be asked what party

they belong to or who they voted for. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SCIUTTO: Just a short time ago, the first group of potential jurors entered the courtroom in the building just behind me here. Some 96 of what could be

several hundred potential jurors considered for this jury.

Joining us now, Katelyn Polantz. She's joining us and has been following this case from Washington.

Katelyn, tell our viewers what kind of questions these jurors are going to be facing.

POLANTZ: Jim, it's a lot of questions about the engagement that these individuals have had.


Their life experiences, and whether they can be fair and impartial. So this period of questioning, there are some basic things that any juror in any

case would be asked. The sort of things you have a health condition that would prevent you from sitting through this trial. Do you have some sort of

other thing? Do you know any of these people in this case? Did you work for the Trump organization? Those sorts of questions.

But then there are additional questions that are being asked in this questionnaire as these jurors are being interrogated by the prosecutors and

the defense to figure out who they are. What are their backgrounds? What are their professions? Are they accountants? What sort of interactions have

they had with law enforcement in the past?

And then what about politics? Have they attended rallies? Have they followed Donald Trump on social media? Have they been involved in extremist

groups in politics on the left or on the right in this country? Those questions don't necessarily mean those people would not be able to serve,

but they are meant to provide information to the prosecutors and defense to use the 10 strikes each side has if they want to take someone out of the

jury pool.

At the end of the day, Jim, they need 18 people. So 12 plus six alternates for service on this jury. Jury selection started about 10, 15 minutes ago

when the jurors -- when the 96 potential jurors that are in the courtroom right now, when they were sworn in. And so, they're going to get to work,

working through these questions one by one.

SCIUTTO: Yes, the math of this is remarkable. About a hundred in there now, as many as 500 per day as we go forward, all to get to that magic number of

18, 12 jurors plus six alternates. It's going to be quite a process. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much. And of course, we should note throughout

that process, Donald Trump, current nominee for president in the fall for the Republican Party, former U.S. president, both of those are first to

face a criminal trial.

We will continue to cover events from here in downtown Manhattan. Isa Soares will be back after a short break with much more.


SOARES: And if you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with some of the images we've been showing you out of protesters in the U.S.

basically blocking major highways.


And this is, as you can see there, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Protesters there, as you can see, it's chocker, all the traffic there, at a

standstill. Protesters, I should say, are disrupting the traffic on the bridge. And we have been seeing some arrests also on the way.

Officials are telling the California Highway Patrol have told us that arrests underway is dozens, dozens of protesters there blocking the traffic

on Golden Gate Bridge.

Now, the demonstrators, you can see some of the arrests right now in that close-up shot, are part of a worldwide economic blockade in solidarity with

Palestinians. One of the close-up shots that we had as the camera got close, it read, "stop the world for Gaza." Of course, we'll stay across all

these developments, but as we understand, the arrests are, as you can see in that close-up shot, the police officers there, starting to make arrests,

but clearly affecting people's traffic as they make their way to work.

That does it for us for tonight. Do stay right here. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up next. There'll be much more, of course, on both Donald

Trump's historic criminal trial, as well as the tensions in the Middle East as Israel mulls its response to Iran's unprecedented attack over the

weekend. Both those stories after this.