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Isa Soares Tonight

Slovakia's Prime Minister In Intensive Care After He Was Shot Multiple Times; Ukraine Gets U.S. Support Amid Russian Onslaught In Kharkiv Region; Russia Claims More Advances In Kharkiv Region; Russia's War On Ukraine; Russia Asserts Further Progress In The Kharkiv Area; 2024 U.S. General Election; Biden And Trump Agreed To Debate Each Other Two Times; On June 27, CNN Will Air Biden And Trump's First Debate; Israel-Hamas War; Increased Pressure From IDF In Northern Gaza And Certain Areas Of Rafah; Since May 6, Some 600,000 Palestinians Left Rafah, According To U.N.; Assassination Attempt In Slovakia's Prime Minister. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 15, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Slovakia's Prime Minister is in a life-

threatening condition. Let's listen in to this news conference taking place just right now.

ROBERT KALINAK, MINISTER OF DEFENSE, SLOVAKIA (through translator): Individuals that were absolutely convinced that our society will stay calm,

and we know that we'll have a certain movement in our society to prove that we are a civilized society.

MATUS SUTAJ ESTOK, MINISTER OF INTERIOR, SLOVAKIA (through translator): I can confirm that today is the first time in the 31st -- 31 years of Slovak

Republic, but it's -- an assassination attempt on our democracy, not only on the head of our government. I can confirm that the assassination attempt

on the head of our government happened -- let me -- attacker shot five shots at the head of our government.

Obviously, we could reassure you that our security services will be working hard to deal with the situation, and first information that we got. But we

don't see any political -- clear political motivation will happen. I had -- I want to call you for being vigilant and our politician be vigilant, stop

spreading false information.

I want to call to every citizen right here, and this -- under this unprecedented circumstances, that you have to be vigilant, and no kind of

attitudes like hatred, hate speech and so on will be tolerated. We have to give our response to hate with hate, that's why, I beg you, to walk showing


In whatever situation that you can, but spread calm. Whatever political camp you attach yourself to, I beg you, stop making all these noises and

make situation worse. We want to -- members of our people's council, and we will increase security of all government officials at government buildings.

Police will be doing that job. We will be also in -- well, may not only politicians from the government, but the opposition politicians will take

part in everything that is going on at the half mark of the association and on the head of our government.


And I want to emphasize that all the hatred on social media is turning to be unacceptable. I will also mention all the politicians of our country,

regardless of their attach to the government or to opposition, they stay calm. No space for hatred. We also want to call for the security council

meeting, immediately, we will be discussing the situation in the country and what happened. And this is the most important part of safeguarding the

democracy in Slovakia. Thank you.


ESTOK (through translator): I think I can confirm that I will give all the answers when we have much more concise information.


ESTOK (through translator): I'm not going to be speculating what's happening. We have -- the only thing we have -- that's -- the prime

minister is in a critical state in the hospital, that's what I can confirm.

KALINAK (through translator): I think that everyone who is basically living in our country is taking this very seriously and very personally. And

obviously, what's happening now with the prime minister is not on the go, series of operations and everything will be in doctors' hands.


ESTOK (through translator): Yes, we're totally monitoring the situation, and we will be taking certain specs regarding what will be happening. Curb

it down, and obviously our security services will be doing that job too.


ESTOK (through translator): Yes, security services are working and people are staying calm in Slovakia.


ESTOK (through translator): Yes, I can confirm the critical state that our prime minister is in, in hospital. And I have to emphasize, please, do not

spread the hate as answer to the act of hatred. This is our main message today. And I want to ask the whole society to remain calm and do not spread

rumors or false information.

KALINAK (through translator): Yes, I also believe that people who were just -- were following the story, I ask you to not exaggerate every detail that

you might get from the news, and just remain calm.


And only listen to official information. We just have to work with real information and to not to listen to any fake news, and obviously, security

services and other services will be working hard in order to, you know, what happened. And I want to mention that we have to deal with what

happened and also this notion that this attempt on life of our prime minister was politically-motivated is wrong. And it's not what it is.

Any rumors surrounding it do not have any grounds. We don't have anything like that happening in our society. So, we will be investigating what

actually caused this attempt and obviously, my colleague will be working on investigation. And our Prime Minister Robert Fico, hopefully will be

carrying on with his duties and when he -- when he obviously -- he hopefully recover, we will see what will happen next.

And I'm not sure if we can say that Slovakia has changed as a society. It's not going to help if we're going to express different opinion and speculate

on details. Again, society, Slovak society should remain calm, and obviously, we know that where we're going -- and we have to work with the


And we don't have to discuss a lot before the official investigation will give us certain results. But that's what happened to our prime minister,

it's something that is very difficult to accept, but it happened, and we'll have to work with it. And we just have to basically -- we have to work

together as one society and that's it.


KALINAK (through translator): No, I cannot -- I cannot confirm that.


KALINAK: I'm not sure of today, let us worry about assault. Actually, maybe next days, we'll be able to react to find what happened. Now, I am just

focusing on the status of Robert Fico and his health.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you help us in English, is everything what you have now?

KALINAK: Thank you. Look, we're just talking about the level of gun crisis, about capability to understand each other, to accept the other Albanian,

and not only one is the good one. If somebody have a different opinion is also -- have also his place on the earth and in the political field.

So, this is the issue. What's happened is a political assault. It's absolutely clear. And we have to react on that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you -- can you say something, sir, can you say something about the shooter's identity or?

KALINAK: Not today.


KALINAK: We will inform you in the coming days. Yes.


ESTOK (through translator): As I told you that today, I didn't speak to any politician today, but everyone within our society, those who discuss what

happened, and those who have different opinions and expressing a certain -- and out of hatred, I appeal to you, please, do not do that.

Do not spread hatred. But I want to ask you again, be responsible citizens, media, members of the media, do not spread hatred.

SOARES: All right, you have been listening there to both the Defense Minister of Slovakia as well as to the Interior Minister that tells you

outside the hospital where the Prime Minister Fico is being operated on. That, the fact that it's two of the ministers rather than doctors to speak

to really the urgency of this moment, not just for the prime minister, but indeed for the country.

And we heard repeatedly from both the Defense Minister and the Interior Minister, calling on the country and society to remain calm. Now, we did

hear them say that the prime minister is still fighting for his life. He's still in surgery. He's in a critical state. Nic Robertson with me, he's

been following the story now since the beginning, and he's been in surgery, I think I heard him there for three-and-a-half hours, Nic --


SOARES: What do you take away from that?

ROBERTSON: I think your point that you have both the Defense Minister and the Interior Minister appealing for calm.


ROBERTSON: And if I heard correctly, the minister wearing the white shirt there speaking in English, saying the words, it's a political assault.

SOARES: The Defense Minister, yes --

ROBERTSON: Yes, it's a political assault. And this is absolutely clear, Fico is a very divisive political figure. He's a populist, and I think what

we're hearing here is the language of concern from the two men in the country, most responsible for the security of the country.

Now, the prime minister is incapacitated, fighting for his life. They say the events began to sort of unfold mid-afternoon, so, we can take a look at

those just now.

SOARES: Yes, see that.


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Pulled from the ground, unable to walk, manhandled by body guards and to a car, the Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico

moments after he was shot multiple times, and an assassination attempt on Wednesday. Meters away, the alleged shooter immediately pounced on by the

police, pinned down and arrested.

Fico was initially rushed to a local hospital where a spokesperson said he was conscious. His life functions stabilized before being rushed by

helicopter to another hospital about 30 kilometers away for higher level care. Fico's office says he is now in a life-threatening condition, warning

that the hours after the attack would be decisive.

The shooting occurred after a government meeting in Handlova, two hours' drive from the capital. This eyewitness says she was there to meet the

prime minister, detailing there were no police checks for those waiting to shake his hand. But first, she thought someone had set off firecrackers.

LUBICA VOLKOVA, EYEWITNESS (through translator): I heard three shots. It was quick, one by one. Like if you throw a firecracker on the ground. I saw

scratch on his head and then he fell next to the barrier.

ROBERTSON: The reality, however, more than a scratch on his head quickly sinking in. Sirens continued to pierce through the afternoon and the

president of the country declaring a terrible and malicious attack.

ZUZANA CAPUTOVA, PRESIDENT, SLOVAKIA (through translator): A physical attack on the prime minister is primarily an attack on a person, but it is

also an attack on democracy.


ROBERTSON: As the country waits for more news, they'll reflect on a man known as a divisive political figure. Fico, a populist who is anti-

immigration, anti-Islam and pro-Putin and Russia, had a political comeback last year, winning the election as prime minister for a third time despite

long-running corruption allegations, he was forced to resign during his second term amidst mass protests over the murder of an investigative

journalist back in 2018. As much hated, as he is loved, he will have had no shortage of potential enemies.


ROBERTSON: And I think that really gets the point of what we were --

SOARES: Hearing --

ROBERTSON: From those two ministers. This idea that this is a prime minister who is divisive, his language has divided the country. The

ministers are implying that the media takes sides --

SOARES: Talking about hate with that --

ROBERTSON: And is divisive, yes --

SOARES: Yes --

ROBERTSON: Talking about hatred. I think the takeaway here has to be for these ministers who are now, effectively, it appears responsible for

running the country, their concerns are what happens on the streets of the country in the coming hours?

SOARES: Indeed, and it's not just his language that is often divisive, also his policies, as we have reported on. Nic, appreciate it, thank you very

much. And let's get more on this story. Milan Nic, he's a former senior adviser to the deputy Foreign Minister in Slovakia and joins us now from


Milan Nic, thank you very much for joining us. I don't know if you were hearing that press conference that we just heard in the last few minutes

from both the Minister of Defense and the Interior Minister really visibly shaken, both the ministers appealing for calm.

Just your reaction to what it's unfolding. What has unfolded in Slovakia? And of course, and the critical state of the prime minister at this hour?

MILAN NIC, SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW, CENTER FOR ORDER & GOVERNANCE: Yes, it's absolutely a shock for the whole country. I very much welcome this message

from both ministers, which is in contrast to the very first emotional reactions from the coalition, the government -- governing coalition

leaders, that accused the opposition of starting a political war.

It's very important that the state functions that President Caputova, who is from the other political camp, also called this an attack on democracy

because Robert Fico was elected Prime Minister. He won parliamentary elections in September, and I think it's very important that today,

politicians are calming down or calling for calm --

SOARES: Yes --

NIC: The society. I think it's the right message. And also what's important that the parliament was -- the session of parliament was interrupted until

next week.

SOARES: Yes, appealing for calm, but also asking, you know, for all hatred on social media to stop. There's no space for hatred. And that speaks

perhaps to the divisions, right? Within Slovakia that --

NIC: Yes --

SOARES: We have been seeing. Like our correspondent, Nic, was saying just minutes ago, he is a controversial figure. Mr. Fico is a divisive figure.

Just speak to that, to the internal divisions, the polarization right now in Slovakia.

NIC: Look, this assassination attempt had nothing to do with the war in Ukraine or with the ongoing campaign before the European parliamentary

elections. It was domestic-related. Slovakia is one of the most polarized countries in the European Union.

It's almost a 50-50 society or 55-45 society. And Robert Fico was a dominating political figure in the last 20 years. So, imagine what would

that be if Boris Johnson or Donald Trump in the U.S. would suffer an assassination attempt, so, I think it's important that from all sides of

the political aisle now comes the message of condemning the attack and you know, wishing the prime minister to survive this and to recover.

SOARES: And of course, you're speaking to us from Berlin, and that would be remiss of me not to mention the fact that we have, you know, this comes --

this horrific attack comes three weeks of course, ahead of crucial European parliament elections where we know that populist and the hard-right, kind

of far-right parties appear kind of poised, I think it's fair to say, to make gains.

We have also seen that you're in Berlin, you know, to bring this up, I think it's important violence against politicians in Germany. I mean, how

do you read this moment?

NIC: Yes, absolutely. Something is happening not only in Europe, but in advanced democracies with our political life because of the social media

and the instant reactions and a lot of hatred.


So, look, I very much welcome the message from two ministers against this, but they were -- they were doing it just yesterday. They were spreading the

same type of, you know, hatred attacking their opponents. There were signs that this is coming -- just to point one to -- to one case, the outgoing

President Zuzana Caputova, who is from the liberal -- from the centrist liberal camp got many hate e-mails with threats to attack on her life.

She decided not to run again because of that last year. And the party of the prime minister was actually celebrating because they also -- their

strategy was to push her out of the office by dialing up that polarization and hatred. They were also then a subject of a lot of hatred, and it just

went too far.

So, it's one example, but not isolated in Europe, where we have to -- we have to see where the politics and hatred spread on the social media, what

that -- what is that doing to our democracy.

SOARES: Yes, Milan Nic, really appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you very much, sir. Of course, we'll stay across this breaking

news story --

NIC: Thank you for having me --

SOARES: If you're just joining us -- you're very welcome. If you're just joining us in the last 26 minutes or so, the breaking news we've had --

we've heard from the Minister of Defense of Slovakia, the Interior Minister, both clearly visibly-shaken, speaking outside the hospital where

the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Robert Fico is really, as they said, fighting for his life, his word -- their words.

He is still in surgery, he's in a critical state and he has been -- the surgery has been ongoing we're told for 3.5 hours, his medical state is

very complex. Both ministers appealing for calm and saying that it is a political assault that is politically motivated.

We'll stay across this breaking news, we'll bring it to you as soon as there are anymore developments. Turning now to Ukraine where U.S.

assistance for weapons and money is flowing again. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his Ukrainian counterpart earlier. Blinken

announced military -- additional military financing for Kyiv. Have a listen.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We have, of course, the supplemental and the assistance from the supplemental is on its way. In

fact, some of it is already been delivered. But today, I want to add to that by announcing that we will provide an additional $2 billion in foreign

military financing for Ukraine.


SOARES: And of course, the aid as we've been telling you here, comes at a critical point. Moscow's troops are making major advances, you can see

there on your map in northeastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, a Russian glide bomb-attack wounded almost two dozen civilian sea officials in Kharkiv.

And Ukrainian armed forces report heavy fighting as Russia pushes on with its ground, as well as air offensive. More than 7,500 people have been

evacuated from the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is canceling his trips abroad for the time-being of course, as he deals with

the situation in Kharkiv.

And recent advances by Russia marks some of Moscow's most significant combat games in nearly two years. Our Nick Paton Walsh is near the

frontlines in Kharkiv and joins us now. And Nick, the situation really is in the Kharkiv region to say, it really is quite troubling, it seems to be

worsening day-by-day, as Russia digs deeper.

This an area that you've covered repeatedly. Just talk to what you've been seeing in the last what? Kind of 24 --48 hours.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, look, I mean, the statements from Antony Blinken about how the aid being on its way, frankly,

don't cut it in terms of reversing the significant momentum we've seen from Moscow in about the last five or six days, building on a month in which

they made advances in the east.

Here in the north, north of the second largest city, Kharkiv, where I'm standing now. They do appear, it seems to be pushing into a key border town

called Vovchansk, that has been the main focus of the fighting.

Ukraine's military today saying that they had had to take more favorable position in that city. That's sort of a euphemism I think for their

tactical withdrawal in certain areas. And the local police chief there also saying how -- I think had the most generous assessment, the Russians are

now certainly on the outskirts of that town.

Gunfire heard within it. In fact, I spoke to one resident evacuated today, she said that the Russians have been in the street next to hers inside

Vovchansk, couldn't describe a set town basically entirely on fire, horrific scene in there. So, people pouring out of there. Other areas

around it under Russian pressure too.

They said a few days ago they thought they'd taken nearly double digits worth of villages and the focus it does potentially seem to be Kharkiv.

There's one particular village that they took, that they could then maybe shell the outskirts of Kharkiv itself. And that is all really putting great

pressure on an already overstretched and losing Ukrainian military.


Yes, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy canceled the foreign trips he uses to get more on better aid from allies because of the severity of the

situation. But the slow arrival of that $61 billion of U.S. aid, in fact, the question mark on whether it would come at all has had a huge impact,

not just on Ukrainian morale, but really on their positions in Donetsk area as well after the town of Avdiivka.

We've seen small village after small village fall again and again. And what then was the largest advance that certainly Russia had made in about 18

months. Now, in the north of Kharkiv, they appear to have launched an entirely new front, advancing faster than the early days of the war itself.

What's particularly depressing, Isa, going up to those areas around Vovchans'k like we did today, I was there two years ago, watching the

Russians getting pushed down. Essentially having fled because their supply lines collapsed and Ukraine cleverly cut them off from the things that they


Now, the Russians are back. People who have gone back to try and get their lives back together again are having to flee all over again. And there's a

fear, I think, that the fortifications, Ukraine should have had are simply not there. We did not see much on our drive up there, two urgently -- two

urgent areas being put in very fast there.

But an utterly bleak situation here. And it's important to remind people, we talk about the fight in ground near Kharkiv. This is something -- an

area that was entirely quiet, but it thought essentially the war was behind it. And now we had an entirely new prom from Russia into Ukraine, pushing

down towards Kharkiv. It is probably the most bleak moment for Ukraine yet since the invasion. Isa.

SOARES: A bleak and very worrying moment, of course, this juncture for Ukraine. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Kharkiv. Thanks very much, Nick.

We are going to take a short break. We're back on the other side.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone.

Just hours ago, President Joe Biden and Donald Trump agreed to debate each other two times. The first right here on CNN, June 27th, mark your

calendars. It will be the first debate between the two U.S. presidential candidates this election cycle.

And if you think June is early for this kind of debate, that's because, well, it is. Historically early, at least, in modern times. The other is

scheduled for September on ABC. President Biden posted a fiery video on social media, taking aim at his opponent. Have a listen


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, and since then he hadn't shown up for debate. Now, he's acting like he wants to

debate me again. Well, make my day, pal. I'll even do it twice. So, let's pick the dates, Donald. I hear you're free on Wednesdays.


SOARES: Since it's the only day he's free, in fact. Well, the last line of course, I hear you're free on Wednesdays, for those of you who have been

following us here, it's a no -- a not-so-subtle court jab at Trump's criminal court schedule in New York. Wednesday is the only day he's

actually not in court.

CNN White House -- Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche is in the North Lawn for us. Kayla, let's talk about the format then of this, first

of all, CNN debate. From what I understand, there will be no in-person audience. So, who -- how will this impact, potentially, the debate and the


KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there will be no -- essentially, no crowd noise that's going to be weighing in.

That was something that President Trump's team had wanted, but President Biden's team did not. So, not only will that CNN debate at the studios in

Atlanta not feature an audience, but the debate hosted at ABC News' studios in September will also not have an audience.

It's important to note the dates that these are taking place because the campaigns and their discussions over the last few weeks have essentially

suggested that there need to be an opportunity for the American people to hear from these candidates before early voting starts. And in some critical

battleground states, mail in voting begins before that early September debate that will be hosted by ABC News.

Now, despite the fact that Biden and Trump do not agree on much, if anything, the campaigns did agree on these two dates. Though notably,

despite President Biden's jabs, they will be taking place once President Trump's trial has concluded.

Certainly, both candidates are fundraising already off the back of these conversations, these high stakes match-ups taking place. And they have been

both saying generally in recent weeks that they would be happy to debate each other multiple times. But now these firm details have actually come


But there is still some that they disagree about. President Trump suggesting that he had accepted the invitation to a third debate, one

hosted by Fox News in October, to which the Biden campaign accused Trump of playing games. Saying that there would be only two debates that would be


Certainly, normally, traditionally, here in the United States, these debates are hosted by or sanctioned by the official nonpartisan Commission

on Presidential Debates that was established in 1997 to establish the parameters around these conversations.

But the negotiated details of these two events that have now been put on the calendar happened outside of the commission and its rules. There's a

statement from the commission now saying that it is prepared to host debates on dates chosen to accommodate early voters at locations of higher

learning, and that the commission continues to be ready to execute this plan. Although, Isa, it does not appear at this moment, at least, that

there is a plan to proceed with a commission sanctioned debate, although that could, of course, change.

SOARES: Appreciate it, Kayla Tausche. Thank you very much indeed.

Well, let's get more on this. Doug Heye is a Republican strategist and a former communications director for the Republican National Committee. Doug

Heye, great to see you.


SOARES: Welcome back to London. Well, we have plenty to talk about. First of all, what do you make of this debate then? The format, the timing, who

does it benefit, you think?

HEYE: Well, the first thing I've been pushing for a debate without an audience for a long time. I think actually the viewing audience has lost a

lot because of the cheers and the boos that partisans in the crowd, whether they're for Trump or Biden or previous campaigns have brought. So, whether

that was Mark Thompson, Sam Feist, Mark Preston, thank you very much for doing this.

Ultimately, we have to see Donald Trump does thrive off of a crowd.


HEYE: But we also know that he very well knows how to get under people's skin, and that's what he's going to try and do with Joe Biden here as well.


We've heard a lot of tough talk from these two --


HEYE: -- over the past, just few hours --

SOARES: In fact, 24 hours.

HEYE: -- now that this has been a debate.

SOARES: Exactly.

HEYE: I expect we'll hear a lot more, but ultimately, it's why this is going to be the definition of must-see TV. And again, because without an

audience, it's a very different format than what we've seen before.

SOARES: And they won't be able to interrupt. I think the mic's going to be cut off at that certain time. I mean, I'm looking forward to the policy,

which is something that I've heard very little from Donald Trump. But the timing of this, and Kyla was talking about this, normally you would expect

it much later, right, around September. This is June. Does that tell you that perhaps the Biden camp is slightly worried? How do you view it?

HEYE: Well, this is early, no doubt. And one thing the Trump campaign has been pushing for, and I think quite rightly, is we shouldn't have debates

that come after early voting has started. If we're going to have debates, they should happen before anybody's cast their ballot. And sure, most

Americans already know what they're going to do.

But for those voters who don't, we should have those before. Now, this is coming before the conventions.


HEYE: And I think what's interesting here is you have both candidates saying anytime, anywhere. Again, this is a lot of tough talk, and not a lot

of policy talk. You know, knowing, hey, Donald Trump, I know you're free on Wednesdays is not policy, that is pure politics.

But I think very clearly, the Biden camp knows that Donald -- that Joe Biden is obviously at an advanced age. He's also in an age where you age

faster every day in the world that he is --

SOARES: It's only four years difference between them.

HEYE: Sure, but the difference between 77 and 81 is a significant one. And the job that Biden is in ages him faster. I look at Joe Biden sometimes and

I, sort of, see Frank Sinatra towards the end of his career on -- when I saw him at the end of his career. One minute, "Come Fly With" me is

amazing. The next minute he's struggling to remember "My Way".

Joe Biden has those problems. He's probably better in June than he is in October.

SOARES: Yes, and I think -- going back to the policy, I think it's an opportunity to really for Americans to scrutinize. Americans who may not be

switched on --

HEYE: Mm-hmm.

SOARES: -- at this stage --

HEYE: Yes.

SOARES: -- to the politics to really scrutinize the policies, of course, for two men that they, many think, are quite old --

HEYE: Yes, absolutely.

SOARES: -- like you were saying, right? But let's talk about polling because we saw some polling earlier this week. I think it was from "New

York Times". I think we've got it just to show our viewers that really speaks to the concerns. Who would you vote for if election were held today?

This is a "New York Times" in Siena College poll. And we can see there that the differences in terms of Biden and Trump, Trump leading in five key

states. These are crucial battleground states.

HEYE: Yes, we often see the national numbers and only pay attention to those. The things we should be paying attention to, those swing states. The

one that you've mentioned --


HEYE: -- others as well, and where things are falling on particular issues. And this tells us what is the campaign going to be about? Is it going to be

out -- be about in those states? Is it going to be about jobs and the economy, inflation, the border, which favor Donald Trump?


HEYE: Is it going to be about abortion, which favors Joe Biden, certainly in Arizona.

SOARES: And what are you hearing from your side? What -- whatever -- you know, what are people most concerned about? I know economy is always number


HEYE: That's always number one. But voter intensity on those, you know, seems to change depending on which poll you look at. It's why we don't

always believe polls, but we try and learn from them. It also makes it very hard to predict exactly what's going to happen in this election, because if

you peel off two percent here or three percent there or Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Cornel West does that, it changes the landscape.

And I was -- you know, I'm here in London --

SOARES: Mm-hmm.

HEYE: -- and flipping through the channels yesterday, "Little Britain" was on. And I saw Matt Lucas do the character where it's yes but, no but, yes

but, no but. Anybody who's honest about this election over the next couple weeks, that's what their answer is going to be. Anybody else is telling you

they know what's going to happen is either telling you what they think is - - or what they want to happen --


HEYE: -- or they just don't really have any idea.

SOARES: I mean -- and it's also the younger voters are a huge concern. I was looking at some of the polling. The other aspect of this, and you will

know this because you have been on our air, it's the fact that Trump has been pretty much in New York court.

HEYE: Mm-hmm.

SOARES: Pretty much every single day with the exception of Wednesday. I'm surprised that that hasn't hurt him at all in terms of polling.

HEYE: Mm-hmm.

SOARES: Why is that?

HEYE: One, certainly voters are -- mostly made up their mind. And those others don't like Joe Biden, and they don't like Donald Trump.

SOARES: So, they're -- OK.

HEYE: They're --

SOARES: So, their minds are made up, that's not going to make any decisions. So, really, the undecided voters that we're trying to target


HEYE: It's those undecided voters. But also, it means that Donald Trump controls of the conversation. Whether that's, you know, it's a good

conversation or bad conversation, Donald Trump wants to control it. And so, think of last week where Joe Biden, who hasn't done a lot of serious news

interviews, sat down with Erin Burnett.


HEYE: It was a -- that was a big deal. That was a big move for the White House to do this. What was the conversation the next day? By and large, it

was about Donald Trump.

SOARES: Yes, so really, and the fact that no cameras in there, he's still managing to control the dialogue in his way.

HEYE: He sets that conversation before he walks in and then after he walks out.


SOARES: Which for Biden, what we've been hearing is the important part is focusing on the differences between them and what sets them apart. And I

would like -- it would be interesting to see how that shapes up in the next few months.

Doug, you should come to London more often.

HEYE: I should come to London more often.

SOARES: We love having you here.

HEYE: Thank you.

SOARES: Good to see you. Good to see you.

We're going to take a short break. We're back in just a bit.


SOARES: Well, we now turn to Israel's intense operations inside Gaza. Israel says, it has targeted a Hamas training compound and engaged in close

quarter combat in specific areas of Eastern Rafah. The fighting comes as roughly a quarter of Gaza's population leaves Rafah. The United Nations

says, more than 600,000 people have fled from there, in a little more than just a week. All this, of course, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day, the mass

displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 war.

Meanwhile, some medical workers say they are trapped in Gaza, and most of them are American doctors, as well as nurses. We are planning to speak with

American nurse Monica Johnson on this show tomorrow. She is right now with the Palestinian American Medical Association in the Gaza European Hospital,

who are also of course working on helping get them free. Of course, we'll get the very latest from how we speak into her on this show at this time


Still to come tonight though, the assassination attempt of Slovakia's prime minister. We'll have the very latest on his condition when we return.



SOARES: And if you're just joining us, welcome. Let me recap our top story this hour. Slovakia's Interior Minister is calling an assassination attempt

against the Prime Minister politically motivated. Earlier in the last -- well, 50 minutes or so, we heard -- we saw the press conference from both

Minister of Defense, Minister -- by the Interior Minister.

Earlier today, Robert Fico was airlifted to a trauma center in the central part of the country after being shot several times while attending a

government meeting in Handlova. Slovakia's state news agency says a suspect was attained by law enforcement officers, as you can see there.

The Minister of Defense Fico is, "Still fighting for his life." He also called out his suspect, a suspected reason behind the attack. This is what

he said.


ROBERT KALINAK, MINISTER OF DEFENCE OF SLOVAKIA: We're just talking about the level of democracy. About capability to understand each other, to

accept the other opinion. And not only one is that good one. If somebody have a different opinion, it's also -- he have also his place on the earth

and all -- in the political field. So, this is the issue of what's happened. It's a political assault. It's absolutely clear. And we have to

react on that.


SOARES: Political assault, it's clear, that's what you heard.

And Nic Robertson, our International Diplomatic Editor joins me now. And Nic, you -- we could hear, you could see how, really, visibly shaken the

Interior Minister was there when he was speaking at the top of the hour. Clearly, calling, appealing for calm at this juncture.

ROBERTSON: Yes, clearly a political assault and we have to act on that, he said. And they stressed several times in that press conference, this isn't

where we want it to be but we have to deal with what we've got.

And I think it's very, you know, important to note that it's the two top security officials in the country who are now becoming the voice,

effectively for the prime minister. Appealing for calm. Appealing for unity. And I think that that genuinely speaks to the shock, and it

genuinely speaks to the level of concern that they have in a country where the prime minister was so divisive. Appealing to an older, more rural

population with his populist ideas and sentiments of being, you know, anti- Muslim, anti-immigration, anti-LGBTQ, but pro-Russia, pro-Putin.

There was a constituency there that bought into that. But there's a younger constituency in the country that that buys into a much more pro-European, a

much more common European Union type idea about the future and what the future of the country could look like.

The country is divided and populist politics has made it thus. We don't know the details yet of why specifically they're saying that this is

politically motivated. But it's very clear that this has the real potential to raise temperatures, raise people's anger on the street.

So, the two top security officials telling people stay calm. Don't react on this. Telling the media outlets in the country, you know, don't hype this.

Don't put out false news.


And so, this -- I think this represents a real moment of shock, but a real moment of concern about how to contain what they fear could happen.

SOARES: Yes, and they were saying there's no space for hatred. This is something of course they have been talking about. What do we know at this

stage, Nic, about the prime minister and the state he's in?

ROBERTSON: So, if we track through the events that happened, the shooting was at close range. Five rounds from a handgun, appeared to go into his

abdomen. The video, we see, he literally tips over his force back bowled over by the impact. His bodyguards scoop him up. He can't walk.

The first hospital he gets to, they say, that he is conscious. That they, you know, keep him alive and move him onto the next facility. He's not

being rushed at high speed into that second hospital out of the helicopter and -- but he's fighting for his life. And the fact that he's been fighting

for it for the last now almost four hours, is not indicative of a positive outcome. And I think one of the ministers talked about if he gets better or


SOARES: A critical state. I know you'll stay across it for us. Nic Robertson, thank you very much.

And that does it for us for tonight. Do stay right here. "Newsroom with Jim Sciutto" is up next. I shall see you tomorrow. Bye-bye.