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Isa Soares Tonight

Trump's Criminal Hush Money Trial Enters Fourth Day; Pro-Palestinian Protests Spread Worldwide; Israel Prepares to Invade Rafah; Day Four Of Testimony In Trump's Criminal Hush Money Trial; Court Overturns Harvey Weinstein Sex Crimes Conviction; Texas Students Protest At Pro-Palestinian Rally. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 26, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: And hello, I'm Isa Soares in London where it's just gone 7 O'clock here, 2:00 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast. And

we are of course, continuing our special coverage of Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York and our very own Paula Newton, as you can see

there is with us this hour outside the court house in Manhattan. Paula.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see you, Isa, and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the

world. And we start this hour right here in New York, where the court is now taking a well-deserved lunch break, but in about 15 minutes from now,

prosecutors will continue with their redirect examination of David Pecker in Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial.

Now, they are trying to re-establish the former tabloid executive's credibility after the defense exposed what were small inconsistencies in

his statements during cross-examination. The defense attorneys are trying to portray the alleged "catch and kill" scheme to bury negative stories

about Trump as in fact, nothing out of the ordinary.

Meantime, it's not that clear if a second witness in this case will be called to testify today, CNN's Zachary Cohen joins us now from Washington.

You've been tracking all of this testimony, we can just sum up what we saw this morning, given the defense, again, trying to poke holes in the

credibility, and the fact that we're on a bit of a cliff-hanger here because this testimony could wrap up in the next hour, and we don't know

who the next witness is going to be.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Paula, exactly right. David Pecker of the tabloid king has been on the stand for about 10 hours now, answering

questions from both Trump's defense attorneys and from prosecutors. And we've witnessed our colleagues in the courtroom have witnessed sort of a

tug of war over David Peckers credibility.

You mentioned the defense attorneys for Donald Trump had been trying to poke holes and undermine the credibility of Pecker's previous testimony.

They have really highlighted some potential inconsistencies with what he told investigators and what he testified to previously.

And as you said to the big picture, that he's trying to paint these "catch and kill" agreements, these stories, buying these stories and making sure

that they never see the light of day as nothing out of the ordinary. And in fact, he's trying to argue that this was good for business, and that one

point got David Pecker to admit that this was good for business.

But when prosecutors took to the stand, they did try to reclaim some of that territory and they did get Pecker to reiterate the fact that he was

buying these stories from -- you know, the stories about from Karen McDougal and others in order to help Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

And that really is the center of what the prosecution's cases here. They want to establish a need to convince the jury that this was election

interference, that David Pecker, Michael Cohen were conspiring with the former president to suppress these stories in order to help him get


And David Pecker on the stand did acknowledge again and reiterate again to prosecutors that, that was his understanding of the agreement, really

highlighting and trying to present to the jury what the nature of this alleged conspiracy was, who the key players were, and how they all operated

together to help Donald Trump.

NEWTON: Yes, if we kind of pull out a little bit, and given this man's been on the stand now for several days, likely to wrap up, as I said,

within the next hour. He's been a fairly good witness for the prosecution, given he has been so composed and essentially, even though there were small

inconsistencies in his testimony, pretty much stuck to script.

COHEN: Yes, that's exactly right. And this core message of this, his understanding was that this was all intended to help Donald Trump's

presidential campaign. Again, he's now said that multiple times on the stand, testified under oath in front of the jury to that exact point.

And look, he's -- his -- we're really early on in this trial right now. He is one of the first witnesses to testify before this jury. And he's really

setting the scene for the jury in terms of again, who the key players are. Who is Michael Cohen? What was his role in this agreement? Pecker described

that in detail. How did Michael Cohen then operate on Trump's behalf?

Pecker has testified to his understanding of that dynamic as well. So, really a scene-setting witness, but one that is ultimately important to the

jury's understanding of the big picture here, and how this election interference case, as the prosecution wants to paint it, how that was done

on Donald Trump's behalf.


NEWTON: OK, thanks for that update, we appreciate it as we continue to wait for court here to be back in session. Zach, thanks so much. I want to

get some legal insight now into today's proceedings and we are joined by former federal prosecutor, Gene Rossi, thanks for being with us again as we

await David Pecker, again, should be on the stand for a little bit longer.

But in terms of credibility, I was really taken by the fact that when the defense was speaking to him about the small inconsistencies, he really was

emphatic, but calm, and saying, look, I told the truth as far as I can recollect. Is that good for the prosecution in terms of the fact that he's

establishing himself as a very credible witness.

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, he is an extremely credible witness. And you can tell that Donald Trump is afraid of him because it is

post-trial, pre-trial statements outside the courthouse. He calls David Pecker a nice man.

And a person who is a defendant facing multiple charges of felonies, to call a key witness for the government a nice man, and then that nice man

says bad things about you and has monitoring consistencies. At the end of the day, that's a very good look for the prosecution.

NEWTON: If you're the jury though, how are you taking all of this in here at this point? You know, we had testimony earlier from David Pecker saying

that, look, he in some ways still considers Donald Trump a friend, had considered him a mentor.

ROSSI: Well, that type of comment to me is not only the truth, but it enhances his prior credibility. When Michael Cohen takes the stand, he will

have incredible prejudice that will be brought out on a cross, and maybe even on direct if they fronted.

But he has animus and prejudice against Donald Trump for various reasons. It's a bloodbath relationship that's been terminate, but Pecker is still a

friend of Donald Trump, whether they socialize now or not, and they both look -- they kind of like each other. They're almost like brothers.

And one respects the other and vice versa. When you have a witness like that, who likes the defendant, admires the defendant, yet tells the truth

and provides inculpatory, negative information about the defendant, you can't ask for a better witness because in closing argument, the government

is going to say the prosecutor is going to say, listen, you may not believe Michael Cohen, but mostly everything he said was buttressed, corroborated

and supported by the dear friend, David Pecker.

NEWTON: Do you think though the defense did do a good job of saying, look, this was standard operating procedure, I'm using their words. What they

were trying to do is say that look, there's nothing illegal about those. So, you think the defense did give the jury something to think about when

it came to that?

ROSSI: Yes, and I got to compliment the defense attorney, did a very good cross. But here's the problem with their argument. And this is the only

argument they really can make. That what David Pecker did was just a walk in the park, it's routine. I'm the "National Enquirer", we do this all the

time for politicians and public figures.

You know, they're always having alleged affairs, and we've got to, you know, get their stories and kill them. So, I did this not just for Donald

Trump, I did this for Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, probably like 50 others that he did disclose in a courtroom.

But I got to tell you that's not a good argument because Donald Trump took it a step further, his actions were specifically directed at influencing

the election. This agreement was crystallized and signed, honor that, October 28th of 2016. Ironically, the same day that Director Jim Comey sent

out the Hillary letter to Congress, what an irony.

But there was a fervency after that "Access Hollywood" tape came out October 7th, that they needed to close the deal on the Stormy Daniels

story. Because if that came out, it would have affected greatly the election. And that's why Donald Trump's relationship with Pecker is unique.

It's sui generis.

It's taken it up a notch. They had to hide that payment from federal election officials because it was intended to affect the election. And then

they compounded the problem by lying on their taxes and their business invoices.

NEWTON: And yet, Gene, the question is, how the prosecution will lay out that case going forward in terms of making that connection to the financial

records, because that is what Donald Trump is accused of, of falsifying those records. We're going to leave it there for now, Gene Rossi for us,

thank you so much.


Isa, we will continue to be here with you throughout the hour as we await the court to get back in session, Isa.

SOARES: Indeed. We'll touch base with you in about ten minutes or so, thanks very much, Paula. And what began as a small encampment at Columbia

University in New York has now swelled into a protest movement, really worldwide. More campuses across the U.S. are seeing pro-Palestinian

demonstrations today.

As you can see there, very wide from east to the west coast, from the University of Michigan, to the University of North Carolina, to multiple

colleges in California. Some schools have been arresting protesters while others are leaving the encampments alone, at least for now.

The students' demands include a ceasefire in Gaza as well as divestment from companies linked to Israel's war. Protests also spreading overseas,

including in Germany, right here in the U.K. and Australia. Police in Berlin cleared this encampment in front of the parliament building today.

And in France, we are seeing dramatic scenes at a prestigious university in the heart of Paris for a third straight day. Melissa Bell is joining us

live from Paris. But first, I want to go to Polo Sandoval at the epicenter of these protests, Columbia University in New York.

And Polo, where are we first of all, on these negotiations between the student protesters and the university? Are we getting any sort of closer?

Any sort of understanding here between both?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Isa, let's get to what we are hearing officially from both sides of these ongoing negotiations. We have

heard from both the leaders that are representing the students that continue to stage this encampment in the heart of the Columbia campus.

And we've also heard from Columbia officials, both of them saying that there has been progress made in the last several days to try to find some

sort of common ground, or remind our viewers around the world what those demands are.

When you hear from some of these students, the investment and also amnesty for the students and the faculty that are already faced any sort of

academic discipline for their participation and demonstrations, Columbia University, basically wants to be able to clear out the space so that they

can begin the preparations for the graduation ceremonies or piles of tiles that they usually use to cover the areas so that you can have really

thousands of people here to participate in the graduation.

The commencement ceremony in a matter of weeks here. What we've also heard, however, from some of our colleagues that have been also speaking to some

of these students, and just last night, leaders briefed the group, and what they told them is that they are currently trying to negotiate a statement

from the president to be able to be issued, that would address the incident from last week.

I'm referring to when Columbia University called on NYPD to remove a previous encampment here, and at the same time, they also said that they

have not yet been satisfied with what the university is offering, which means that there is technically no end in sight.

We're entering yet another weekend with this encampment. And so, this is going to be something they're going to be watching for the next few days.

Finally, we will be hearing from some of the activist in a few moments, and we'll bring you any potential update when it comes to those negotiations

now, days-long conversations that happened.

SOARES: Indeed, do stay with us, Polo, because this of course, has been replicated as we're seeing in Columbia there across the U.S. from the east

coast to the west coast, but also across several cities in Europe. We've seen in the U.K. and we're seeing it in Paris, that's where we find our

Melissa Bell. Melissa, one of the students there being telling you, what do they want to see?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, their demands here, Isa, as you mentioned, one of the most prestigious schools here in France. The

protests, the demands rather, the protesters are very similar to what Polo was describing from the United States, the end of the war in Gaza, but also

the boycott by the university, a statement from the university, saying that lunch boycott companies involved with Israel.

You can see what's happening behind me now. That is the building that they've been occupying since yesterday evening. A much bigger police

presence here these last few hours, that's because Isa, we understand that the police's plan at this stage is to evacuate this street, on the other

side of that police line, dozens still of protesters sitting, you can hear them chanting and determined to stay, they keep chanting.

We won't be moved. But the police have been announcing to them that anyone left will be arrested. I think one of the big questions at this stage is

whether once they clear the streets, and they've been moving closer and closer on the other side towards the students, whether the police, they go

inside the building, controversially, that's what happened on Wednesday night, first night the protests -- the police actually went to get the last

protesters from inside.

And that's led to a great deal of anger here today. And again, a big question about whether they intend to do the same, Isa.

SOARES: Melissa Bell for us in Paris, appreciate it, Melissa, thanks as well to Polo Sandoval in New York. Of course, we'll have much more on these

protests ahead this hour. I'll be speaking to a journalist with a student newspaper at the University of Texas about what's happening there on the

ground, and of course, and the protests that we've shown you from Texas all this week.


Also ahead this hour, Israel is pressing ahead with plans to invade Rafah, even as it tries to secure a hostage deal with Hamas. We'll take you live

to Jerusalem. Plus, CNN's Fred Pleitgen is the only western reporter in Tehran. He'll join us live to discuss Iran's new warning for Israel as well

as the U.S. Both those stories after this very short break.


SOARES: She was nicknamed the miracle baby. A miracle of life against all odds in a place surrounded by death. We brought you the story of baby Ruwa

Sabreen Judah(ph) just a few days ago, born out of a dead mother's womb in a hospital in Gaza.

Now, we have the sad update that she has died. Her mother was 30 weeks pregnant when she was rushed into the emergency room severely wounded. She

died during delivery. Baby Ruwa(ph) weighed just 1.4 kilograms at birth, and doctors say she died Thursday from weak lungs and following an Israeli

airstrike in Rafah.

Let's bring in our Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem. And Jeremy, what we know is that baby Sabreen's(ph) immediate family, her mother, her father, and even

her sister, all being killed because of this airstrike that struck Rafah, the very area, of course, that we know Prime Minister Netanyahu is

insistent that the offensive will go ahead.

What are we learning about this offensive? Because I know that the war security cabinet were also met about this yesterday.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And we don't have any tiny details in terms of exactly when this ground offensive

could potentially take place. But there's no question that it is the next thing to come in the war in Gaza.

And over the course of the last week, Isa, we have heard Israeli military's chief of staff say that he has approved plans for the continuation of the

war. We have seen the war cabinet beginning to discuss those plans. And it's not clear yet if a date has actually been set for all of that to


And what's really important to note is that amid all of this, there does appear to be a sort of last-ditch effort by the Egyptian government to try

and revive what have really been stalled ceasefire and hostage negotiations over the course of the last couple of weeks.


An Egyptian delegation, Isa, was in Israel today, meeting with Israeli officials, trying to put together a new framework to be presented to Hamas

in the coming days that would try and bridge the gaps between these two sides, and critically, we try and forestall that ground offensive in Rafah.

There's no question that the threat of that offensive is looming very large over these negotiations, not only for Hamas, of course, but also for the

Egyptian government, which has been really concerned about the prospect of this ground offensive right on its border, the possibility of people

flooding into Egypt, something that Israeli officials have said will not happen.

But nonetheless, a very real concern for the Egyptian government. And so, we know that there are major gaps between these two sides that remain. I am

told that there are some novel ideas that are being discussed in this latest round of negotiations, but it's not clear if this will actually


But certainly, this could be the last possible attempt to try and secure a hostage deal, a ceasefire agreement between these two sides. And if it

doesn't work, then I think it's very likely that Israel will very soon, whether that's a matter of days or weeks, remains unclear, but very soon,

carry out that ground offensive in Rafah.

SOARES: And do you know from those you've been speaking to, do you know, Jeremy, if the plan would still be to move the civilian population in

Rafah, move them north, move them somewhere else. Is that still under consideration?

DIAMOND: Yes, there's no question that there will be some kind of evacuation carried out --

SOARES: Yes --

DIAMOND: Whether that evacuation is of the city entirely in one go in stages is unclear as of yet, but we have seen signs that they are beginning

to put -- tense up in certain areas west of Khan Yunis. We have also seen, of course, the flow of humanitarian aid increasing to northern Gaza and

central Gaza as well, and all of that is very much a part of these preparations for this potential offensive.

SOARES: Yes, I know, we've seen, of course, the construction of this pier in Gaza too, as we heard from the U.S. in the last 24 hours. Jeremy,

appreciate it, thank you very much, Jeremy Diamond for us in Jerusalem this hour. Now, anti-U.S. and anti-Israel rhetoric is ramping up in Iran.

But does this mean an escalation of military operations between Iran and Israel? Let's get more on all of this. Joining us now from Tehran is our

senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. Fred is the only western reporter on the ground there for us.

And Fred, you know, only this week, I think it's important to add this context for our viewers. We heard the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi say

that another Israeli attack in Iran will lead to serious consequences. He went on to say -- I think we've got the quote here, there will be nothing

left of that entity, saying it will lead not only to the consequences, but nothing left of the entity, speaking of Israel.

I wonder what the mood then is inside Iran following those kind of tint -- tit-for-tat Iranian-Israeli airstrikes.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, of course, all this comes, Isa, just a couple of days really after Iran and

Israel really jumped off the brink of what could have been a massive conflict here with dire consequences for the entire Middle East.

And of course, there is a lot of concern here among regular Iranians about the destabilization that's going on right now in the Middle East, and

whether or not that could lead to a bigger conflict, not just of course, between Iran and Israel, but of course, also between the U.S. and Israel as


The Iranians for their part of course, have said that they've conducted a strategic shift as they put it. We heard from the Iranian president there -

- just there, whom you were quoting, saying there will be nothing less to Israel. They say that if there is any sort of strike by Israel, there will

be a massive response by the Iranians, and certainly, some of the rhetoric that we heard on the ground here today mirrored that as well. Let's have a



PLEITGEN (voice-over): Iran's hardliners flexing their muscles, screaming death to America and death to Israel at Tehran's main Friday prayers.

Though, staunchly conservative prayer leader, seeing the Islamic Republic will not back down.

(on camera): Iran has warned it will take harder lines towards the U.S. and towards Israel in the future, saying that if Israel attacks Iran or its

assets one more time, Iranians will strike back on -- territory.

(voice-over): Tensions in the Middle East remain at a boiling point after Iran launched a massive drone and missile attack against Israel in

retaliation for the bombing of its embassy compound in Syria, killing several top Revolutionary Guard commanders. Israel, the U.S., and other

allies managed to take down most of the Iranian drones and missiles, but Israel then hitting back with a limited strike against an airfield in

central Iran.

The hardliners flying massive Palestinian flags, ripping into Israel's operations in Gaza and the U.S.' support for Israel. The message here, Iran

is ready for a confrontation that. "In fact, we are even happy about this", this man says. "We are praying day and night for a second and third



And he says, "we've had these threats for a long time, but the difference is now the people are strong, the IRGC is strong, and the army is strong,

and we have strong tools." And this cleric says, "if the Islamic Republic of Iran will have more conflicts in the future, it doesn't mean we are war-

mongering, we're just reacting to the bullies."

But on the streets of Tehran, concern the current tensions could escalate and even turn into war. "I believe the situation will get worse", this man

says, "as both sides are more combative and in my opinion, it will lead to war and to calamity for people." And this woman says "we are definitely

concerned, worried, but what can we, ordinary people do about it?"

Iran's leadership says its military is ready for combat even as they say, war is not in their interest.


PLEITGEN: There you can see, there -- Isa, some pretty tough talk there coming from Iranian hardliners, also, of course, in the Iranian government,

the Iranian leadership as well. Nevertheless, a lot of folks that we spoke to on the ground say they do right now have a lot of concern that things

here in the Middle East could go very badly.

They understand it's a very difficult time also, with that conflict still going on there in Gaza. And then of course, also leading to Iranians and

the Israelis trading extra barbs as well, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, strong rhetoric, but also concerns on the streets of Tehran. I wonder whether you got a sense, Fred, or any concerns at all from

following the back -- on the back of the sanctions that we've seen. We've seen numerous countries imposing sanctions --


SOARES: Not just the United States, but also EU sanctions on Iran's -- I believe drone and missile program. What has been the reaction to that? Has

it affected Iran at all?

PLEITGEN: No, the sanctions so far have not, at least, the new sanctions haven't affected Iran more than they already are affected. Of course, these

sections --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: Themselves have had a massive effect on Iranian society and also on the Iranian industry, on the Iranian economy as well have made a lot of

things very difficult. These new sanctions -- the Iranians, Isa, have so far learned to deal with sanctions. They are masters, if you will, of

getting around sanctions, and still keeping the economy running.

But of course, nevertheless, each and every new sanctions packaged makes it more difficult for the economy here to function and makes it more difficult

obviously, for the people here as well to have any sort of economic benefits or any sort of economic progress. So that certainly is something

that weighs on people.

Nevertheless, there's already so many sanctions that Iran is under, that right now, these new sanctions are not necessarily something that people

believe will make the situation even worse than it already is. Nevertheless, there's of course, a realization here that this country at

some point needs to get out of at least some of those sanctions to make sure that economic progress can happen, Isa.

SOARES: Indeed, Fred Pleitgen, the only western reporter on the ground there in Tehran, Iran, for us, thanks very much, Fred, great to see you.

And still to come tonight, more on Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial, Paula Newton will be back with us from outside the courthouse with

up-to-the-minute coverage of those proceedings.

And then later, promising news for King Charles. We'll have an update on his battle against cancer. That's next.


NEWTON: And we now want to get back to Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial, which just resumed here in New York that was following a lunch

break. Now Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is now continuing his redirect examination of David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer.

Defense Attorney Emil Bove is expected to question him again shortly. Again picking up where the prosecutor leaves off in terms of a redirect. Pecker's

been testifying about the deal he helped broker with adult film star Stormy Daniels and the tabloid's efforts to suppress negative stories that could

have damaged Trump's 2016 campaign.

Meantime, Judge Merchan says he'll consider four additional gag order violations that are alleged to have occurred by the former president. The

hearing on that is set for next Thursday.

Now I want to draw your attention to the left-hand side of your screen. You can see key updates from the trial, a reminder no cameras inside to give us

an insight into the proceedings. But CNN has reporters in court keeping us right up to date on what's going on. Everything we see and hear will then

appear on that side panel.

At this point I want to bring in Attorney David Weinstein. He's a former state and federal prosecutor who specializes in corporate compliance and

white collar defense.

And he joins me now from Miami. And that is key here in terms of what the former president is accused of. Are white collar crimes. Now we've already

heard nearly four days of testimony in this case. One witness. David Pecker, what kind of a witness do you believe he was for the jury in terms

of being that person that gives them an overarching snapshot of this alleged cover up?

DAVID WEINSTEIN, FORMER STATE & FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think he was a great first witness to give this jury a picture of what's going on inside this

uncharged conspiracy and the allegations that have been leveled against the former president. He was there with the people who participated in coming

up with the payments, who was going to make the payments, how they were going to be made. And more importantly insight as to what the former

president knew, how interactive he was with these people, how controlling he was of the situation.

And that what they were really doing in the words of this witness were engaging in acts that were connected to the campaign, to campaign financing

and to the election itself. So, not just paying for people not to have their stories published ad so he was a good first witness.

As any witness who's cooperating with the government, he had some warts and scrapes on him and those were highlighted during the cross examination.

NEWTON: Yes, and it's something that you would expect. Although it seemed that he remained composed throughout. Now we could yet hear perhaps not

today, but in future in this case from Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, both allegedly had affairs with Donald Trump. We should point out the former

president denies it. How important is it that in front of the jury, if we do see those two witnesses.


That the President really not react to their testimony in any way?

WEINSTEIN: It's very important because jurors are not only listening to what's said in the courtroom. They are always watching us. From the minute

we get into court every day, from how we react to things that take place on the witness stand, how we interact with our clients, with opposing counsel,

the judge, their eye is on us. And so they are going to look at the former president if and when these people testify and see how he reacts.

Is he scowling at them? Is he waving his finger at them? Is he trying to hide from them? Are they going to identify him? Those are all things that

the jury is going to consider when they go back into that jury room. It plays a part in -- when both prosecutors and defense Attorneys ask them to

use their common sense. So, it will be important to see how he reacts.

NEWTON: Uh-hmm. Now I do want to point out we are not given a list of witnesses ahead of time. It does seem that now we will be perhaps with the

last redirect of David Pecker. So, we could get to the next witness, whoever that is, very quickly from here on in.

Now David stay with me though because I do want to turn the page on another story. Accusers have been shocked in fact after a New York appeals court

overturned the sex crimes conviction of powerful Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Now the court ordered a new trial Thursday, stating the use of

prior bad acts. Witnesses should not have been allowed.

In 2020, Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for first degree criminal sexual act and third degree rape. His attorneys in fact praised

the ruling. Listen.


ARTHUR AIDALA, APPELLATE ATTORNEY FOR HARVEY WEINSTEIN: That the witnesses were there only to make Harvey Weinstein look bad. That's the only reason

why those witnesses were admitted, to show that he's a bad guy. He was tried on his character not on the evidence.


NEWTON: Now David when it comes to the case of Harvey Weinstein, and I want to point out no relation here between the two of you, I mean were you

surprised? Because this really goes to the crux of the matter between what is prejudicial and what isn't. It seems that, you know, the judges here

lifted this criminal conviction because they said look bringing other cases into this prosecution prejudice the case.

Two questions for you. One, what did you think of them overturning this case because it was close and two do you think this could have bearing on

the Trump trial right now?

WEINSTEIN: You know, so unfortunately, these type of reversals happen more often than you would think. The problem is, is that any prosecutor wants to

have a very strong case and sometimes they step over the edge a little bit and they say, well, the case is pretty good but we have witnesses who are

coming in and it would be helpful if we can show that the defendant had a bad character or had acted in a way similar to this in the past.

And that's why they try to introduce this evidence of other bad acts and bad character.

And there's a hearing that takes place and the judge has to evaluate whether or not that's going to then become overwhelming part of the case or

whether the jurors are going to focus on the testimony regarding the bad acts that occurred in a particular case itself. And in this instance, the

court of appeals said, well, what happened was exactly what we don't want to happen. You shouldn't have let all that other testimony come in about

uncharged crimes. It tainted the jury. They focused on that more than they did on the actual testimony. And that's why we're reversing the conviction.

Now the impact is going to be felt. In the current case that's pending in New York involving the former president, if everybody would recall, there

was a hearing just before the start of the case where the judge held what's called a Sandoval hearing. And that's where the prosecution says. We'd like

to question the defendant if he takes a stand about other bad acts that he's committed specifically.

The results in the case that was brought by the attorney general involving fraud and misrepresentations and documents and records by the Trump

organization where there was a finding against him and then the two libel cases that were brought against him where he lost in those cases as well.

And what the judge said was if he takes a stand, I'll let you question him about that.

I would suspect that perhaps the prosecution maybe is going to rethink that position. I'm quite frankly surprised the defense hasn't filed a motion to

have a rehearing on that in the light of the decision that was just handed down. Because the one thing nobody wants in this case is to have built in

error and have potentially a conviction overturned by something they could have avoided. So, I think that the decision in the Harvey Weinstein case is

going to impact on some thinking by both sides in this case.

NEWTON: Uh-hmm. Uh-hmm. Yes. So interesting, especially given that that Harvey Weinstein case went on right here in this courthouse as well. Thanks

so much. Really appreciate your insights.

And still to come for us tonight, pro-Palestinian protest sweep right across U.S. college campuses.


We'll talk with a student journalist at the University of Texas in Austin about what she's been seeing in the last few days.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. Pro-Palestinian protests at college campuses across the United States show no sign of stopping. That's despite

hundreds of arrests so far.

There is a smaller turnout today at the University of Texas, Austin, after dozens were taken into custody on Wednesday. Demonstrators were met by

state troopers in full riot gear with batons, as you saw there. Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for students participating in the protest to be

expelled and said protesters, "Belong in jail."

Amelia Kimball, Associate Managing Editor of the Daily Texan, University of Texas, Austin, said there's a feeling of betrayal on campus as well as


And Amelia joins me now. Amelia, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. When you say that there is a feeling of betrayal, just explain

to our viewers what you mean.

AMELIA KIMBALL, ASSOCIATE MANAGING EDITOR, THE DAILY TEXAN: Yes, absolutely. So students did not expect there to be the kind of police

response to a completely demonstration -- a completely peaceful demonstration that we saw on Wednesday.

Before -- hours before students had even gathered, there was a massive presence of state troopers on campus. And it's since been reported that the

university administration had asked the state government for those troopers to be present. And students are really unclear as to why that was the case,

because, again, the demonstration was completely peaceful and there was no provocation of the police whatsoever or any violence.

SOARES: Yes, and what we've heard in the last hour, Amelia, is that the county attorney has dismissed all criminal charges against the protesters,

the ones that were arrested, and all 57 people were charged with criminal trespassing. I mean, how would you and your university students that you

have spoken to, how do you assess and they assess the police's handling of the situation? Have they been too heavy-handed here?

KIMBALL: Absolutely. I would say they've been far too heavy-handed, and I would say that's how most students feel as well.

Students were met with violence, with pushing, with physical clashes.


And, yes, with 57 arrests, all of which clearly carried no weight. As you said, all the charges were dropped. It really seems to be kind of a massive


And a response that's really disenfranchising and discouraging for students.

SOARES: So when you hear, of course, we mentioned Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, and he said, I'm just going to quote him here, these protesters

belong in jail. Students joining in hate-filled anti-Semitic protests at any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.

Really, two questions for you at this point regarding those comments, Amelia. One, have you seen any anti-Semitic protests?

KIMBALL: Not at all. I was present at the protest for around nine hours on Wednesday. I didn't see any anti-Semitic sentiments expressed whatsoever.

There were Jewish students participating in the demonstrations. Again, the demonstrations were completely peaceful and were pro-Palestinian, but

certainly not anti-Semitic.

SOARES: So, I mean, going forward then, I wonder what is going to happen because, of course, do you expect these to continue into the weekend? What

is the mood like there today? I'm guessing you're on campus, you're inside the campus. Give us a sense of the mood today and whether you think this

will go on to the next week.

KIMBALL: Yes, absolutely. I would expect demonstrations to continue. Yesterday, there was a massive demonstration of about a thousand students

and faculty that was completely peaceful with very minimal police presence. It does seem like this showing of state troopers on Wednesday was really a

show of force to kind of intimidate demonstrators. And I'm not sure whether that kind of response will continue because, again, yesterday there was

minimal police presence.

Today on campus, there's a small group of demonstrators but very few police. I do expect demonstrations to continue but I think they will be

calm and low-key as long as police aren't there instigating violence and escalation.

SOARES: And you've got final exams as well. Many students will have final exams. How did they -- I mean, how does this play into all of that, all the

other pressures that many of the students are facing?

KIMBALL: Yes. I think it's quite difficult to kind of return to normal life and take our finals, write our papers, as we've -- as we've watched our

peers face violence and arrest at the hands of -- at the hands of the state and the administration. So I think that there's a lot of inner turmoil and

kind of confusion about how exactly we're supposed to continue.

However, I know that students are continuing to take exams. I went and gave a final presentation in the middle of demonstrations yesterday. And we

intend to finish the semester strong but it is difficult to do so with everything that we've witnessed.

SOARES: Amelia Kimball, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, Amelia.

KIMBALL: Thank you so much.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, the U.S. Secretary of State wraps up his visit to China. He tells CNN about a message he delivered to Beijing. That

is coming up.



SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me give you an update, of course, on the Trump hush money trial, of course, that we've been bringing you

throughout this hour with our Paula Newton.

Witness David Pecker, as we've been told, is now off the stand. He'd been on the stand for a little over ten hours over the course of four days. Ten

hours over four days.

Rhona Graff, that's Donald Trump's long-time assistant, is the next witness being called by prosecution. We know that as she entered the room, this is,

of course, from our own producers inside the courtroom, saying that Trump looked over at her. She did not appear to glance at his table or on her

walk to the witness stand, but we know that the assistant district attorney, Susan Hoffinger, is now handling the direct examination of Rhona

Graff. Of course, as soon as there are any more developments, we will, of course, bring that to you.

But David Pecker is now off the stand over what? Over ten hours or so. On the stand for over four days.

Now, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping, during his trip to Beijing.

Blinken said the talks were candid and one area of their conversation touched on a delicate issue.

CNN U.S. Security Correspondent Kylie Atwood spoke exclusively with Blinken and here's her report.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The secretary said his conversations with his Chinese counterparts here in Beijing were certainly

better than they were last time he was here, ten months ago. He said both sides were forthright about their differences, but one area where there

will only be growing tension is concerns about China meddling in U.S. upcoming presidential elections. Listen to our back and forth on that



ATWOOD: I want to ask you about a commitment that CNN has reported President Xi made to President Biden when they met in November. We reported

that he told President Biden that China would not interfere in the upcoming presidential elections in the United States. But since then, there have

been reports of online Chinese accounts that have falsely mimicked Trump supporters. Do you believe that these accounts violate President Xi's


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: What I can tell you is this. President Biden was very clear about that with President Xi, and I repeated

that today in my meetings.

ATWOOD: You repeated what?

BLINKEN: That any interference by China in our election is something that we're looking very carefully at and is totally unacceptable to us.

Look, it's something we're tracking very carefully. I can't speak to these specific reports. I can say that as a general matter, we've been very clear

with China, don't do it.

ATWOOD: But they're not violating the commitment yet, as far as you can tell?

BLINKEN: Well, again, I'd have to look at the specific reports that you're referring to, but we have seen, generally speaking, evidence of attempts to

influence and arguably interfere, and we want to make sure that that's cut off as quickly as possible.


BLINKEN: It is incredibly noteworthy that the secretary said that there is evidence of China trying to influence and potentially interfere in the U.S.

elections. Of course, there will be even more focus on this as we head into November.

And he said there is concern about China trying to mirror what Russia has been doing in the United States with influence campaigns trying to sow

division that already exists in the U.S.

Kylie Atwood, CNN, Beijing.

SOARES: And to Ukraine, shipments of weapons and equipment will be making their way to Ukraine after U.S. President Joe Biden signed, of course, a

crucial foreign aid package into law, if you remember, on Wednesday. That package provides nearly $61 billion in military assistance.

In an exclusive interview, Ukraine's foreign minister spoke with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about the significance, of course, of that unlocked

aid. Have a listen.


DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's good to have America back. It's better when good things happen later than do not happen at all. We all

know what follows when we lose, and therefore we will keep fighting.

What we do need is our partners to believe, firmly believe, that Ukraine's victory is attainable.


And second, to have no fear towards Putin, because Putin is a political animal who can sense fear. And when he does, he becomes more aggressive.


SOARES: You can tune in on Saturday for the full interview on the Amanpour Hour. That's 11:00 a.m. in New York time and about 4:00 p.m. if you're

watching here in London.

Now, to some good news, finally, to bring you, Buckingham Palace, says King Charles, will resume public duties next week. He has, of course, as you

well know, been receiving treatment for cancer. The palace released this new picture of the King there. He's smiling along with Queen Camilla. His

medical team says it is encouraged by his progress, although it's too soon to say how long those treatments will continue.

The palace hasn't disclosed what kind of cancer he has or, of course, the stage. The King is now planning to host a state visit for the Emperor and

the Empress of Japan, and that is happening in June.

And that does it for us for this evening. Thanks very much for your company. And do stay right here. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up next.

I'll see you on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend. Bye-bye.