Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Longtime Trump Aide Hope Hicks Testifies In Hush Money Trial; NYPD Clear Encampments Near NYU And New School Friday; Biden White House Sends Letter To College Presidents; Sources: Israeli Officials Briefed WH In Recent Days On Latest Thinking On How To Evacuate Civilians Out Of Rafah; Gaza Journalists Risk Their Lives To Cover Israel-Hamar War; Deadly Floods Devastate Southern Brazil. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 03, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CO-HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: Hello, and welcome to our special coverage on CNN, I'm Isa Soares in London where it's just gone 7 O'clock in

the evening.

ERICA HILL, CO-HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: And I'm Erica Hill in New York, 2:00 p.m. here outside the courthouse where Donald Trump's criminal trial

is now underway once again, just wrapping up a lunch break here. It's been quite the day so far. Hope Hicks, of course, one of the former president's

most trusted aides, his former communications director at the White House and the press secretary of his campaign in 2016, being questioned by


And that testimony is really offering us a fascinating look at what it was like inside the Trump camp in the run-up to the 2016 election. As of

course, the campaign was dealing with scandals on a number of fronts, and we're being walked through right now. What happened in reaction to that

bombshell release of the Access Hollywood tape and also to questions about a potential other involvement.

Hicks was at the center of the Trump universe in this moment. It's important to point out too, she had started the Trump organization, then

became one of the first staffers to join that campaign as she moved over. Prosecutors are expected to continue pressing her this afternoon for

details surrounding that hush money payment, of course, made to Stormy Daniels, facilitated by Michael Cohen and just how much Donald Trump may

have known about it.

CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider joining us now. It's been fascinating to see just how involved the former president was in those

moments in these last couple of weeks, last few weeks, just before the election in 2016, as there was this mad scramble to figure out how to deal

with some of these moments, including that Access Hollywood tape, Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Hope Hicks has been really painting this vivid picture of that chaos, of that scramble with the

Trump campaign after the tape was released, and how also Trump interacted. She detailed, you know, first of all, how she got this request from a

"Washington Post" reporter who first asked for a comment.

And then talking about how Donald Trump was actually in debate prep at the time, he was along with top advisors like Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon,

and she described how they really huddled trying to determine how to respond. It was ultimately Trump who issued a video statement admitting

eventually that it was him on that tape and then, you know, chalking it up to locker room talk.

Hope Hicks, she really talked about how intense the media coverage was surrounding all of this. You know, the tapes released on that day actually

upended all other news coverage for several days, which included a hurricane in the southeast United States.

In addition to the Access Hollywood tape, Hope Hicks has also been describing other stories that surfaced around that time about other women's

allegations against Trump. She talked about Karen McDougal's story when it was revealed by the "Wall Street Journal" days before the election, and

then the urgent scrambled to respond to that.

So, she has a lot to say because she was right with Trump through all of this. She started with Trump in January 2015 as his press secretary, and

she described how she was on the plane morning through night with him for hours-on-end. So, she will be back on the stand for more direct testimony


And prosecutors, they're likely going to try to get to any knowledge that she might have as to how closely Trump was involved in this payout to

Stormy Daniels. You know, it's unclear, Hope Hicks will have any information, she's already said as to one specific question for prosecutors

about an August 2015 meeting between David Pecker and Michael Cohen when it had previously been said, Erica, that Hope Hicks had walked into that

meeting briefly.

She said, you know, I don't recall. So, prosecutors are probably going to continue. They've touched a little bit on Stormy Daniels so far, but it

seems like they're going to be moving into that pretty heavily once we come back from the break here.

HILL: Yes, it certainly sounds that way, Jessica, appreciate it, thank you. Also with me this hour, Jeff Swartz; a professor at Cooley Law School

and a former Florida judge. Jeff, good to have you with me, I know you've been following along closely as well.

During the testimony of Hope Hicks all this morning, as Jessica mentioned, we're likely going to get into Stormy Daniels more. What was interesting is

just before the lunch break, we learned that when this "Wall Street Journal" reporter had reached out, asked for some information, some comment

on an article they were about to publish, that was about Karen McDougal.

But the reporter said that Stormy Daniels would also be mentioned, and Hope Hicks testified that Donald Trump pressed her because he wanted more

information. He wanted to understand what the context was in terms of how Stormy Daniels would be mentioned, and also wanted to make sure that there

would be a denial of any kind of relationship.


That is --


HILL: A key moment I think this morning.

SWARTZ: It's a very key moment because obviously, Mr. Trump was -- shall we say panicking over it? It was bad enough that McDougal was coming out.

But the situation involving a porn star and coming up through it, "Wall Street Journal" article of all places would be, he knew the effect that

would have on his campaign, and he wanted more information.

He wanted to know what they knew. He wanted to know what was in the article, what was the source? That's when he says that he wants more

information and context. That's what he's talking about. And that was part of the panic that was in his mind at the time in his need to do something.

In which case, apparently, according to testimony that I looked at, it seems that he needed to make a phone call to Mr. Pecker and Hope Hicks was

in the room for that telephone call. So, she knows more about this than she's been able to say so far. But I think they're going to get a lot more

out of her.

HILL: It certainly -- it certainly sounds that we -- especially looking at this too, there's been so much made about her demeanor she came into the

courtroom. The fact that she said she was nervous, that she looked uncomfortable that the former president and his attorney said hello to her.

She didn't necessarily say hello back, not that she was avoiding it, but it was uncomfortable. I've been speaking with reporters during the lunch

break, they said you could really -- you could really sense that. We talked about earlier this morning about how she is as a witness and how that will

look to the jury.

How does this come into play, though for the defense as they want to at some point, they will be doing this cross -- this cross-examination of her.

And if she's already setting the stage to say, I'm kind of uncomfortable being here. Does that make it more challenging?

SWARTZ: It does. They're going to have to treat her with kid gloves. They're going to have to be very careful what they asked her, they are

going to have to be very direct to get out of her the things that can help Mr. Trump. She's uncomfortable, but I'm not sure that she is lost or I

think she's still enamored to a certain extent with Mr. Trump.

I think she still feels some loyalty towards him. I think she's uncomfortable having to testify against him. She may be a little bit more

comfortable when it's his lawyers asking questions, but they're not going to be able to try to trip her up if she feels that they're trying to trick

or trip her up some way.

She may not be real happy and she may be more direct in some of her answers than she was with the prosecution. So, this is a very delicate moment for

the Trump team.

HILL: I want to get your take as a former judge here as well. Judge Merchan actually started the day by saying and directing this to Donald

Trump and his attorneys. There seemed to be some misunderstanding when it came to the gag order.

This after Donald Trump leaving court yesterday said he wasn't allowed to testify because of the gag order. The judge this morning making it very

clear that, that gag order --

SWARTZ: Yes --

HILL: In no way impacts potential testimony from the defendant and said, it does not -- specifically saying it does not prohibit or limit what he

could say in that context. It's fascinating to me that, that happened. I though, I'm not a judge, certainly not an attorney either, how did you read

that moment as a former judge?

SWARTZ: I thought it was kind of a ridiculous statement for him to make. I think that it needed to be straightened out. I think that Judge Merchan has

-- says you have constitutional rights like everybody else. You have Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You also have a Fifth Amendment right to

testify, and you have Sixth Amendment right to present whatever defense you want to.

So, as at least within the bounds of the law, I in no way and forbidding you from testifying. That's a decision you make for yourself. Then I think

that he had to make that abundantly clear so that he does not repeat that again. If he does, he'll be corrected again.

And the more he says it, the more he'll be corrected, and the more he's being literally being told, I've told you before, you're telling a

falsehood, I'm now correcting you again. And I don't think Mr. Trump wants to get into that with Judge Merchan.

HILL: We will see. We will see if that message in fact did get through. Jeff Swartz, good to have you. Thank you. Isa, we'll send it back to you

over in London.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Erica. And all this week, President Joe Biden has been tackling a huge challenge, that's protests in colleges as well as

universities right across the United States. The epicenter has been and it's New York where police arrested dozens of people just hours ago as you

can see there, as they cleared encampments near the New School and New York University.

Since mid-April, more than 2,000 people have now been arrested. The U.S. Education Secretary has sent a letter to college and university presidents,

condemning what the Biden White House calls a abhorrent incidents of anti- Semitism.


These protests against Israel's actions in Gaza continued to build right across the globe, as you can see in there from Mexico, Australia,

Switzerland to Iraq. In Paris, students supporting Palestinians rallied outside the pantheon. Separately, riot police cleared protesters from this

main hall of Sciences Po after pro-Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in at the elite school.

We now turn to CNN's Polo Sandoval who joins us live from New York and who has being covering these protests for us for the last two weeks or so. And

Polo, we are still seeing some increased activity on some campuses, but the sense I'm getting is that it's much calmer. Just bring us up to date with

the very latest if you could.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we have seen the situation evolve into a better situation, at least, on those campus with a much calmer scene

that we've actually witnessed in places like Columbia. You mentioned those numbers, Isa, those are important, and well over 2,000 people who have

already been arrested at U.S. colleges or universities.

And it's also becoming clear that there is a segment of those people who have been detained by authorities that don't necessarily have any

affiliation with the universities on which they are detained. In fact, we learned today from Columbia University that about 13 people who were

detained earlier this week inside of that Hamilton Hall actually were not affiliated to Columbia.

And then these pictures that you showed our viewers a few moments ago, these will also be added to that rising tally. There were two very active

scenes earlier this morning here in Manhattan, Isa, one of them, these pictures that you're seeing at the New School, and then also in lower

Manhattan at New York University, where we now know according to authorities that roughly 13 people were detained.

The problem there according to campus officials was that there were these encampment that was actually spread out over the sidewalk, rating an issue

there for people on campus, so as a result, just yesterday, NYU officials reaching out to the NYPD, just as Columbia did, asking for assistance, and

the result was again, 13 people there and about 43 people at the New School.

Then there are also some of these situations that come up fairly opposite. For example, just across the river in New Jersey at Rutgers University,

officials there announcing that they actually reached an agreement between these student-protesters that were staging an encampment.

And also officials at Rutgers agreeing to take in at least ten displaced young Palestinians to continue their studies at Rutgers. Rutgers also

agreeing to review a relationship that it has with the university and the West Bank. So, there seems to be at least some common ground, now, it is

important to point out that roughly 7,000 members of the student body at Rutgers are Arab or Muslim descent.

So, it certainly was incumbent on the university to try to find some of that middle ground, so, it is certainly at least hopeful that we will begin

to see more of these universities try to see at least some common ground. However, there are others that have resulted in clashes where at least in

multiple arrests as those continue to add up.

And we should point out, as we get closer and closer to -- well, likely be the first commencement ceremonies at some of these universities.

SOARES: Yes, some good news and perhaps a model for some other universities --

SANDOVAL: Right --

SOARES: As well. Polo Sandoval, good to see you, Polo, appreciate it.

SANDOVAL: Thank you, Isa.

SOARES: And as we've just said, the protests against the war in Gaza, not just taking place in the United Sates. Saskya Vandoome gives us a view of

the demonstrations that took place in Paris today.


SASKYA VANDOOME, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (on camera): The campus protests here in France have been taking place for about two weeks now, and today, in

front of the Ponti(ph) or in the center of Paris, you had students from many universities, from the Sorbonne, you had students also from trade


You had political parties and you have students from Sciences Po. Now Sciences Po is a very prestigious university, and just this morning that

university was evacuated by riot police after the students staged a sit-in late Thursday evening.

Now, the students were then removed from the hole this morning by police and they then came here. Now, what did the students want? They have said

that they want French universities to sever ties with universities in Israel. They have said that they want French universities to condemn


And finally, they say that they won't be able to protest peacefully on campus. Now, we've spoken to some of the protesters here and they have said

that they felt inspired by what's happening in the U.S. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we are very inspired by them and we think that they have sent a very important message to the youths around the world, to

say that our generation will not be complicit with the genocide and the killing of thousands of people.

VANDOOME: It's important to note that the protests here in France are nothing like what's been happening in the United States. We really are

talking about small pockets of blockades that have been happening in universities across France. They've been largely peaceful and we've hardly

seen any arrests.


Now, the French Prime Minister's office did issue a statement today saying that they would continue to stand firm in the face of these protests.

Saskya Vandoome, CNN, Paris.


SOARES: Thanks to Saskya for that. Well, my next guest argues it's the adults and not the students who are the problem behind the worsening

protests. Writing for the "Financial Times" this week, Edward Luce says this, "America is in knots over the foolishness or worse of its campus


But it is adults who are making the biggest dancers of themselves. The role of grown-ups facing street unrest is to keep the peace without sacrificing

rights. And these include free speech and physical safety. The task requires principle consistency. In practice, he writes, "adults from all

walks, Republicans, Democrats, the media and university administrations are exhibiting traits of hysteria and dogmatism they deplore in the young.

It should come as no surprise that the protests are getting angrier." And Edward Luce joins me now from Washington. Edward, welcome to the show. And

I think it's fair to say we have seen quite spirited and at times heated protests from students across campuses in the United States.

You say that -- we showed a little bit of your -- of what you've written. It's the adults and not the students who had the problem. Just explain what

you mean.

EDWARD LUCE, U.S. NATIONAL EDITOR & COLUMNIST, FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, thank you for having me on and for citing my column that adults really --

the share of blame goes pretty widely. Both political parties, university administrations, of course, and members of my profession. What's needed

when there are protests of this type, which are entirely understandable in the circumstances is a reiteration of those two things that President Biden

said yesterday, that we will protect the right to free speech, the dissent, and we will also uphold physical safety -- the public safety.

In principle, those are very easy ones to understand, and both of them are enshrined in the rights every American has. In practice, they be making a

really big mess of it. They heavy-handedness of a lot of the police actions and not just in New York and Los Angeles, but in many states, campuses

across the country has inflamed the protests. Our profession, I think has tended to pick up on some of the most hard-line people on both sides --

SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: And present them as typical of the protests. They're not all pro- Hamas, and not all pro-Israeli protests, you know, are pro-Netanyahu. So, there is an inbuilt, I guess, sort of adult bias here from politics, media

and the administrations to sensationalize and exacerbate, which is kind of what we expect the young to do.

SOARES: And like you said, look, the protests -- or when we -- when we started covering them, Edward, it was, you know, very calm, it wasn't until

the NYPD was called in at Columbia. How much do you think that decision from the university to call in the police go -- some of the catalyst for

all of this. I mean, how misguided was that to start off with?

LUCE: So, the first calling in the NYPD, I think was unnecessary and was inflammatory --

SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: Because as the NYPD said themselves, the student protests were non- violent at that point. Then they came in, cleared them, arrested many, and then that prompted this week's occupation of Hamilton Hall and other --

SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: Buildings on the Columbia campus, which is therefore sort of getting us into a spiraling situation, quite similar in UCLA campus in Los Angeles.

I think there is a sort of headless chickens syndrome going on here. And again, I'd point to Biden rather belatedly, very belatedly, restating those

very simple principles. You have the right to say what you like as long as you're not threatening violence against --

SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: Other groups. I mean, anti-Semitism is -- should not be tolerated at any level. But if you are protesting with a Palestinian flag, that's not

hate speech, that is your constitutional right even on a private university's campus, and we can make that consistent with -- without

holding public safety.

SOARES: And look, the message from President Biden was clear and pretty simple. But as some of my guests have said on air in the last 24 hours, it

should have come much earlier. I want to keep the politics in this if I can. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking here on CNN yesterday, called these

protests and this moment I should say, Edward, Biden's Vietnam, comparing these protests in 1968.


I want you to have a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): Lyndon Johnson in many respects was a very good president. Domestically brought forth some major pieces of

legislation. He chose not to run in '68 because of opposition to his views on Vietnam. And I worry very much that President Biden is putting himself

in a position where he has alienated not just young people, but a lot of the Democratic base.


SOARES: Do you agree with that, Edward, or just talk to the challenges for and the risks here for President Biden?

LUCE: So, one level, you understand the parallel because 1968, the protests began in Columbia in April shortly after Martin Luther King was

assassinated. Occupation of buildings, et cetera. And then we have, as we do this year, the Democratic Convention in Chicago in August. So, these are

very striking parallels.

I think whether body -- Senator Sanders is right or not depends a lot on what happens on the ground in Israel between now and then. Will Netanyahu

send the IDF in to take Rafah? As he says, he wants to do, and as Biden has very explicitly asked him not to do.

And in which case I expect the demonstrations to really flare up again, or will, you know, there be some kind of a hostage release and a decompression

of the situation in which case, you know, I think Chicago will be manageable. The one big difference though with 1968 --

SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: Is there isn't --

SOARES: No troops --

LUCE: A rival alternative candidate to Biden. The party is formally united behind his nomination, and that really wasn't true in 1968. It was split-

down the middle over Vietnam.

SOARES: And also, I mean for president -- for former President Trump, I should say this is, Edward, perhaps a gift. You say you've written in your

-- on your opinion piece, "until yesterday, conservatives with the harshest critics of diversity, equity and inclusion policies and the lack of free

speech on campus.

Now, they want to stamp it out, hypocrisy is too mild a word to capture such a switch." I mean, we have very little from the Republicans, but I

mean president -- former President Trump making hay of this and the Republican Party no doubt.

LUCE: Yes, there is a lot of irony to the fact that the Republicans are screaming that there's anti-Semitism on the campuses when their nominee has

met with holocaust deniers. He's met with, you know, people who believe in the great replacement theory, which is explicitly anti-Semitic.

The Jews want to bring in non-whites to outnumber non-Jewish whites, and of course, the irony, the greatest irony is that a lot of these senators,

people like Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Trump himself, saying that he should pardon the January 6th felons.

Those have been convicted of storming Capitol Hill and attempting to overthrow American democracy. There is nothing even beginning to

approximate that going on, on American campuses. They are exercising their right to speech, and those -- how large a minority, I don't know. But those


SOARES: Yes --

LUCE: Who are saying clearly anti-Semitic things and being threatening to fellow students who happened to be Jewish, you know, are being singled out

correctly, as I guess fanning violence sentiments as they should be. But there's no comparison here to January the 6th. So, double standards is, you

know, it's too polite for -- it's too polite to tell.

SOARES: Edward Luce, wonderful to have you on the show, appreciate your analysis and insight. Thank you, Edward.

LUCE: Thank you.

SOARES: And still to come tonight, CNN understands that CIA Director Bill Burns is in Cairo as intensive negotiations continue over a ceasefire and

hostage deal in the Hamas-Israel war, we'll have that story after this break.



SOARES: Well, CNN understands that CIA Director Bill Burns is in Cairo as intensive negotiations over a ceasefire as well as a hostage deal in the

Israel-Hamas war continue. Burns has been key, of course, in talks between the U.S., Israel, Hamas, Egypt, as well as Qatar. An Israeli official tells

CNN they have not yet received a response from Hamas on the Egyptian proposal.

Meantime, at least six people have been killed in an Israeli airstrike overnight on Gaza's border city of Rafah. That's from the official

Palestinian news agency which says children are among the victims. Let's get more on all these. Fred's -- Alex Marquardt joins me now.

So, Alex, just bring us up to date. Where are we on these negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage deal?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, it is, of course, significant when the CIA director travels to the region for

more ceasefire talks, it could be seen as a sign of progress, but of course, he has been out -- been out to the region in recent weeks and

months and then come back, and nothing has happened after that.

It is not clear exactly who he's meeting with. Of course, we can assume it's at least Egyptian Intelligence, but we haven't gotten any word about

whether the other mediators and participants to these negotiations, the Qataris, the Israelis are joining as well.

But from Washington, the view here in the Biden administration, Isa, is that the ball is firmly in Hamas' court, that everyone else has accepted

the framework that is on the table. Recently, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken called this an extraordinarily generous proposal.

U.S. officials have pointed out that Israel has relented on a number of things, accepting a lower number of hostages, allowing the unrestricted

return of Palestinians in southern Gaza, back up to northern Gaza. So, the U.S. really does believe that now, this is on Hamas to accept the deal.

Even if they were to accept the deal, Isa, that wouldn't be immediate, there would still be some --

SOARES: Yes --

MARQUARDT: Final details to be ironed out. Could Bill Burns be working on that right now? It's possible, but we'll just have to wait and see. It's

too soon to tell, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and the concern, of course, and I was having this conversation with Edward Luce from the "FT", and the concern of course is

that, if a deal isn't reached, that Israel begin their ground operation to Rafah. Now, Secretary Blinken, I think said in the last week, I'm just

going to quote him here, we will not support a major military operation in Rafah, absent an effective plan to make sure that civilians are not harmed.

Has any such plan Alex, been presented to the United States to date?

MARQUARDT: No, that hasn't changed. The administration has remained pretty consistent on that. They continue to have those conversations, and our

colleague, MJ Lee just reported that these conversations are continuing, the Israeli officials are trying to convince the U.S. that they do have a

plan to get many of those innocent civilians out of Rafah in a way from what we imagined would be some -- from quite fierce fighting.

But the administration certainly has not gotten the comprehensive plan that they would expect before Israel goes into Rafah. You're absolutely right

that there is a belief that without a ceasefire deal that Israel's plans could be sped up. And we've heard Prime Minister Netanyahu saying that with

or without a plan --

SOARES: Yes --

MARQUARDT: Israel does intend to go into Rafah, Isa.

SOARES: Negotiations are ongoing, and that in itself is very good news. Alex Marquardt, appreciate it, thanks very much, Alex. And still to come

tonight, we mark World Press Freedom Day, remembering those journalists, of course, who have died on the front line covering the Israel-Hamas war, as

well as all the other global conflicts. That is next.


SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. We want to take a moment here on this show to mark World Press Freedom Day. And this year, it's a particularly somber

one. The Israel-Gaza war has taken a severe toll on journalists in Gaza. Many, of course, struggling and dying to tell the story.

And the names we're about to show you here are the names of the 97 journalists and media workers who have been killed. Among them, more than

35,000 civilians who have lost their lives since the war began on October the 7th. There are some Lebanese journalists, some Israeli, but the

overwhelming majority are Palestinian.

And to put that figure into context for you, because this is important, this is about an average of one journalist dying every other day. To date,

it is the most perilous conflict for journalists. Our Nada Bashir shares some of their stories and challenges.


NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What should be a moment of reflection reduced to a hurried memory recorded on an iPhone.


A young girl, now an orphan, pays her last respects. A drop in a sea of tragedy, marking its witnesses and victims alike. But this is the story of

the person behind the camera, one of many risking their lives for the truth.

KHADER AL-ZANOUN, JOURNALIST IN GAZA (through translator): One scene I'll always remember was in Al-Shifa Hospital in November last year. It was

during a siege.

BASHIR (voice-over): Khader Al-Zanoun has been documenting the assault on Gaza since the war began, sending material to CNN, our gateway into a war

zone sealed off by Israeli authorities.

AL-ZANOUN (through translator): They were taking this woman to be buried in a mass grave. And I saw this little girl following the crowd. She told me

her mother was a victim and she wanted to say goodbye to her.

She really affected me a lot. Tears were falling when I saw her running after her mother.

BASHIR (voice-over): Living with his wife and children in Gaza City, in the north, one of Gaza's worst affected regions, he shows us his home, largely

destroyed in the onslaught. Part residence, part bureau.

Everything is a challenge. From the search for signal to transmit the day's footage to the search for food.

AL-ZANOUN (through translator): There have been days when we've eaten donkey and horse food, corn and fodder, as well as barley just to stay


BASHIR (voice-over): For journalists in Gaza, the biggest challenges are the most basic ones.

Sami Shahada is a photojournalist for Turkish-based broadcaster TRT. He was filming at a refugee camp in central Gaza.

SAMI SHEHADEH, TRT JOURNALIST (through translator): We went to cover the movement of displaced people. And as soon as we arrived at the place, we

were targeted.

BASHIR (voice-over): Sami had to have his leg amputated above the knee and is now awaiting medical evacuation to Turkey.

At least 97 members of the press have been killed in what the Committee to Protect Journalists has termed the deadliest period for media workers since

its records began. But that figure, according to the CPJ, is likely to be much higher. And yet, despite the risks, Palestinian journalists in Gaza

keep doing their jobs, working in groups for protection, covering stories, even if it means getting there on a donkey and cart.

AL-ZANOUN (through translator): Every day we wake up, we thank God that we are still alive and that we are still able to continue documenting the

events in the Gaza Strip.

BASHIR (voice-over): In the belief that one day, his work and the work of Palestinian journalists like him won't have been in vain.

AL-ZANOUN (through translator): Our hope is that this war will end, God willing, and that we will be able to save and protect our children after

these targeted attacks and this continuing war because they want to live like the rest of the world's children, in security and peace.

BASHIR (voice-over): Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


SOARES: And our thanks to Nada for that report.

Joining me now is Jon Williams, the Executive Director of the Rory Peck Trust, which provides support to journalists right around the world. He's

also a former foreign editor of the BBC News and ABC News. Jon, welcome to the show.


SOARES: Let me pick up with that report from Nada Bashir, because it really brings home just the challenges as well as the risks for so many of the

journalists, and particularly in Gaza. Talk to that, talk to what we have seen so far in six months in this war.

WILLIAMS: Well, I cannot believe that there is anywhere else in the world when a journalist loses their home, doesn't know where their next meal is

coming from, doesn't know where their children are going to get clean water, they still go to work. And I think the courage and commitment of the

journalists in Gaza has been extraordinary.

Today, the United Nations has awarded them the world's top press freedom prize, and it is richly deserved.

SOARES: And what people often forget is that they are fathers.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

SOARES: They are mothers who are trying to keep their families safe, and trying to cover this war for us. They are our eyes, our ears on the ground.

And, of course, we are incredibly grateful and in awe of their work. And the comments I often get on social media is, where are the rest of the

journalists? Why are they not in Gaza? I wonder if you can explain that to us, because there has been a concerted effort by media organizations to get

foreign journalists in, correct?

WILLIAMS: There's been a concerted effort by media organizations to get journalists in. There's been a concerted effort by the governments of

Israel and Egypt --

SOARES: That's my question.

WILLIAMS: -- to keep them out.

SOARES: So what -- so why is -- what have -- what have we been hearing?


Why are we not being allowed in by the governments of Israel and by the governments of Egypt?

WILLIAMS: Well, you would have to assume that there are things that they don't want us to see. Ostensibly, they say, and I'm going to do my report a

bit here, that it's for the journalists' own safety, because clearly it's an active war zone.

And we've seen many of those -- only a handful of those journalists, 22 we think, were working when they were killed in Gaza. The others, they live in

Gaza, so when a bomb falls from the sky, you know, out of hours, they're killed. But it still means they are a journalist who has been killed in a

conflict zone.

And so it is undoubtedly a dangerous place for journalists to be, and the governments of Egypt and Israel say it's not safe for journalists to go.

But I think journalists would rather make that decision for themselves.

SOARES: Indeed, and compared that then, John, with the other wars that I know you've covered. Iraq, Afghanistan, the access, and the way that

journalists have been treated, the access they've been given, and the editorial as well.

WILLIAMS: There is something that does make Gaza unusual. It is a tiny strip of land. And even back as far as 2009, after the first Operation Cast

Lead, the very first of the wars that were fought in Gaza after the Israeli government pulled out of Gaza and left it to the Palestinian Authority, it

was like walking back.

There is a strip that connects you between Israel and Gaza, and it's like walking back over a century, where you go from the 21st century back to

driving then horses and carts. And so two million people crammed into that small strip of land, undoubtedly makes it incredibly dangerous for people

to go in.

But journalists are best equipped to actually make the decisions for themselves, news organizations are best equipped to make those decisions.

And I think, you know, even today on World Press Freedom Day, we would ask again that actually international reporters be allowed into Gaza, not least

to give the journalists in Gaza some respite.

SOARES: A break -- absolutely, a break, which they then support, which they obviously need. And, of course, we've talked about the conflict and the war

in Israel and Gaza, but we cannot forget, Jon, the fact there are countless, I think it's record number of journalists have been imprisoned.

Right? Of course.

WILLIAMS: Second record. Second --

SOARES: The second record. And I think it's truly shocking. Obviously the most famous one is the Wall Street Journal journalists, but it also speaks

to the second record, the rise of autocracies that we are seeing.

How do you see this in an election year? We have more elections this year than any other moment. How do you frame this moment?

WILLIAMS: Well, we need to be clear that press freedom is everybody's freedom. Without press freedom, nobody has freedom. Freedom of expression

is a reason why the founding fathers of the United States made it the First Amendment, because everything else flows from that. And when you don't have

a free press, you have no freedom. And so Reporters Without Borders issued their global press index today.

And right around the world, press freedom is in decline, and we should all be concerned about that.

SOARES: Is democracy in decline too? Surely.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely. But we -- in a sense, only a quarter of the world, only in Europe, do people have what is a good level of press freedom. The

United Kingdom, 22nd in the world, just ahead of Jamaica, the United States, 55th in the world, you know, this is extraordinary figures for

states that believe and talk the talk, but just don't walk the walk.

SOARES: Indeed. And speaking of the United States, I can't have you here not ask you about the protests, the protests we have seen across campuses

in the United States. We've had a lot of young students giving us the very latest on the ground.

How do you view and assess the way that these protests have been handled and the heavy-handedness, as one guest said earlier today?

WILLIAMS: I think what's fascinating -- take Columbia Journalism School. Columbia Journalism School is at odds with Columbia University because they

understand the home of the Pulitzer Prize. They understand that actually it's important to let their journalist students cover these protests.

Protests and press go hand in hand. They are the two sides of the same coin. And it is vital that student journalists are able to go onto campus

and cover their -- the protests without the fear of the NYPD arresting them.

SOARES: And I spoke to two students just yesterday who were arrested and they had their press credentials on them. Very concerning indeed. Jon,

really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us.

WILLIAMS: Thank you, Isa. Glad to see you.

SOARES: Thank you.

WILLIAMS: And Jon has written a piece for our website to mark World Press Freedom Day. Do have a read. The headline, I've seen too many young

journalists to pay the ultimate price. It's them I'll be thinking of today. You can find it at, as you can see there, slash Opinions.

And the increase in risk for journalists is particularly pronounced for environmental reporters. The UNESCO report shows that 70 percent of

environmental journalists have been attacked for their work.


From 2009 to 2023, at least 749 journalists were targeted with murder, physical violence, detention, arrest or online harassment. More than 300 of

those attacks occurred just between 2019 to 2023. And the problem is a global one happening in 89 countries around the world. And, of course, we

brought you that story of the two journalists we're reporting in the Amazon, of course, for The Guardian. It's a story that we kept covering day

in, day out.

While an environmental emergency to tell you all about in Brazil, at least 29 people have been killed and another 60 are missing after heavy rains, as

well as floods, flooding in southern Brazil, in Maquine, as you can see there. Officials have declared a state of public calamity to deal with that

disaster. The civil defense estimates over 67,000 people have been impacted. More than 10,000 people have been displaced across 154 cities. We

are going to stay right across that story for you.

And still to come on the show tonight, new details in the case of three friends who went missing on a surfing trip in Mexico. That's next.


SOARES: Turning now to Western Sudan where, "Time is running out to prevent starvation in Darfur." A dire warning issued from the United Nations World

Food Program on Friday. The worsening humanitarian situation follows intense fighting where dozens of people have been killed as well as tens of

thousands have been forced to flee their homes. A spokesperson for the World Food Program has this to say about the situation.


LENI KINZLI, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SPOKESPERSON IN SUDAN: The situation is dire. People are resorting to consuming grass, peanut shells, and if

assistance doesn't reach them soon, we risk witnessing widespread starvation and death in Darfur and across other conflict areas in Sudan.


SOARES: I mean, that's very dire indeed.

Now to another story that we have been following and that's in Mexico, "We will not rest until they are found." That is the message from the governor

of Baja California, Mexico, over the disappearance of three tourists.

Two Australian brothers and their American friend were reported missing on April 29 when they didn't show up to their rental house. The trio won a

surfing trip about a hundred kilometers south of Tijuana in Mexico. Officials there say they are questioning three people in connection with

the case.

Stefano Pozzebon has been following the story closely and he joins me now with more details on the investigation. What more are you learning,


STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIS: Well, Isa, we're learning that the Mexican authorities are really working around the clock to try to establish the

whereabouts of those three tourists who are still reported as missing. Remember, two are Australian surfers from the city of Perth in Western



One is a U.S. citizen and both Australian and U.S. authorities are across the search. But the latest from the authorities in Mexico is that they

still haven't found a real definite clue. Take a listen.


JORGE ARGOUD, OPERATION DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF SECURITY FOR ENSENADA MEXICO (through translator): Until now, we are still searching. As the commander

said, it's not just us, but other authorities have joined the search, flying drones over the coast. It's very important for us to find these

people, but for now, we have nothing.


POZZEBON: Isa, bear in mind that statement from the deputy chief of the local police station up in Baja California is from yesterday, it's from

Thursday. Almost 24 hours have passed and they still haven't found, we still are waiting for any definite clue or some indication from the police

that the investigation is succeeding.

Authorities have recovered a mobile phone and a vehicle whose brand, color and model of the car is consistent with the car that the Australian

brothers had rented, but there is -- there is not a definitive answer. And of course, in an area where there is documented presence of organized

crime, such as northern Mexico, every minute counts and we can only imagine the anxiety and how the families of the three missing surfers are reacting

to this moment.

Baja California is not a dangerous place for most tourists. Millions of them travel to Baja every year to enjoy some of the best beaches I've ever

been to, but actually, you know, it's still Mexico and there is a security crisis going on. Isa.

SOARES: And very briefly, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, were they camping in this area and where were they supposed to go to their Airbnb?

Just clarify that for me if you could.

POZZEBON: Yes, the authorities are saying that they recovered a tent where they think the surfers were staying overnight from -- while trying to get

to some of the remote -- the most remote beaches, but at this moment they're really trying to put together a complete picture of what happened

in the last few days and we'll bring back as soon as we hear anything about that.

SOARES: Appreciate it. Appreciate it. Thank you very much, Stefano Pozzebon with the very latest there.

And still to come tonight, the latest move in the race for space, what China hopes to achieve with the launch of its new moon probe. That is next.



SOARES: And with that, China successfully launched the Lunar Probe, Chang'E 6 on Friday. The unmanned mission aims to bring back samples from the far

side of the moon for the first time. It is part of China's overall push to become a dominant space power.

And finally this hour, a remarkable discovery for you. Scientists in Indonesia say they observed an orangutan intentionally treating a wound on

his face with a medicinal plant. It is the first time this apparent behavior has ever been documented.

He then covered the wound with the chewed up leaves, which are typically used by humans in traditional medicine, according to a scientific paper

published on Thursday. Scientists say the observation, "Provides new insights into the existence of self-medication in our closest relatives."

Absolutely brilliant. And that does it for us for tonight. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up

next. Have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you next week. Bye-bye.