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Isa Soares Tonight

A New York Court Convicts Trump On All 34 Felony Charges; Biden Pushes New Proposal For Gaza Ceasefire And Hostage Deal; Biden: Israel Has Offered Proposal For Gaza Ceasefire; Blinken: "Robust" NATO Package Coming For Ukraine; Biden Allows Ukraine Within Russia With U.S. Weapons. 2-3p ET

Aired May 31, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares in London.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. Just ahead, former U.S. President Donald Trump and current candidate for

president, Trump rails against the verdict after a New York jury found him guilty on all 34 felony counts, a truly historic conviction, we're going to

break it down, what it means for Trump and U.S. presidential race.

SOARES: And of course, I'll bring you international reaction to this unprecedented verdict as well as the other days top stories.

SCIUTTO: Let's begin in New York where the first former U.S. President to be convicted of a felony is now trying to turn that verdict into campaign

material, Donald Trump says, he is the victim of political persecution, of course, not the first time he said that. He suggests the jury that found

him guilty of falsifying business records wanted to hurt his run for the White House.

In a speech at Trump Tower, at the bottom of those famous escalators, he insulted everyone from the judge to President Biden, to immigrants, also

Michael Cohen, before walking off without taking questions. Trump and his allies are downplaying the charges as petty and inconsequential, yet, we

should note a foundation of American democracy elections are at the hardest case.

Prosecutors successfully argued to the jury that Trump engaged in a conspiracy to quote, "hoodwink" voters by covering up a scandal involving a

porn star that could have damaged his 2016 campaign. Trump chose not to take the stand, of course, he had the right to and testify under oath. He

is now accusing the judge of silencing the defense.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You saw what happened to some of the witnesses that were on our side, they were literally crucified

by this man who looks like an angel, but he's really a devil. This is a scam. It's a rig trial. It shouldn't have been in that venue, we shouldn't

have had that judge.

He should have allowed us to have an election expert, wouldn't allow us to have witnesses. He wouldn't allow us to talk. He wouldn't allow us to do

anything. The judge was a tyrant.


SCIUTTO: In fact, we should note the judge also, for instance, did not allow the airing of the "Access Hollywood" tape as part of many decisions

impacting the court as it played out. Sentencing is now set for July 11th, just a few days before Republicans are set to choose Trump as their

presidential nominee.

He is vowing to appeal, as is his right. President Biden spoke about the verdict just moments ago from the White House.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed. Donald Trump was given every

opportunity to defend himself, it was a state case, not a federal case, and it was heard by a jury of 12 citizens, 12 Americans, 12 people like you.

Like millions of Americans who served on juries, this juror was chosen the same way every jury in America is chosen. It was a process that Donald

Trump's attorney was part of, the jury heard five weeks of evidence, five weeks. And after careful deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous

verdict. They found Donald Trump guilty.


SCIUTTO: We should note, those comments about the trial and the conviction came just before he announced new details about a new proposal for a

ceasefire in Gaza, involving as well the release of hostages, saying, in his words, "it is time for the war to end." We're following both of these

major stories this hour.

Kara Scannell is in Washington for us, Kevin Liptak is at the White House. Kevin, if I could begin with you, just on the details of this proposal

here, some new details, but the outlines remain the same. The question now is, how far along the path are we to an agreement here?

Do you have any sense of movement both from the Israelis and Hamas, or are we in the same place we've been for some time?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, as President Biden said, this is a deal that the Israelis proposed. So, certainly, they feel a certain

commitment to this package that President Biden laid out. The real question, of course, is whether Hamas can agree to it in some ways, this

three-phase deal that President Biden laid out is similar to what has been proposed in the past, particularly that first phase that would last six

weeks and include the release of women and children.


I think the real sort of difference is in the second phase, which would include as President Biden said, a permanent end to hostilities, and that

the ceasefire that was enacted in the first phase would keep going as the negotiations proceeded. So, there really is sort of a clear air way to end

the conflicts.

So, I think President Biden very clearly wanted to come out and show that he does have a plan to bring this war to an end. A war that has caused so

much political problems for him in the United States. He was very explicit when he said that Hamas at this point has been degraded to a state where

they could no longer commit an attack like they did on October 7th.

And I think that was the clearest that we've heard from President Biden, that it's time for Israel to end this war, and time to come back to the

table and secure the release of these hostages.

SCIUTTO: Yes, hard not to read that, as applying some pressure to Israel as well as to Hamas. I want to speak to Kara Scannell about the other major

story we're following now, tell us about the next steps here because we know that sentencing is set for July 11th, and a number of options are on

the table.

We also know of course, that Trump has every right to appeal and will certainly appeal this decision. But first, on the -- on that sentencing

hearing, give us the outlines of what potential penalties Trump could face and what are the most likely penalties Trump could face here?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, again, so this sentencing is set for July 11th, and there will be a few things that happened before then.

And one of them, Donald Trump will have to meet with someone from the probation department, which is the process that every convicted felon goes

through, where they do a basic inventory of the person's life.

And this helps that probation department come up with a sentencing recommendation for the judge. Both Trump's side and the prosecutors will

make their own arguments both in legal briefs and then before the judge on sentencing day of what sort of sentence the former president should get.

It's unclear what the prosecution will do. District Attorney Alvin Bragg was asked that yesterday, he said it would be in their papers, so, these

are things that will have to come together, but this is a class 'A' felony. It's one of the lowest felonies in New York State, the judge can sentence

Trump to no jail time and probation because there is no minimum prison sentence as part of this felony conviction, or he can sentence him to as

much as four years in state prison on each count.

Now, because he is a first-time offender, he's almost 80 years old, and because Trump is convicted of this non-violent felony, his side will

obviously argue that he shouldn't serve any time in prison. Is really unclear what the judge will do. It's up to him to decide what he thinks the

appropriate punishment is.

Certainly doesn't help that Donald Trump is attacking the judge now as he is awaiting his judgment. But this is -- you know, it is a decision for the

judge as he takes into consideration all of those measures and what will be the right amount of deterrence both for Donald Trump and for anyone else,

that is a key part of a judge's decision generally, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And just quickly, the appeals process does not interrupt the sentencing. In other words, sentencing that hearing will go forward July

11th regardless of what stage we are at, at the appeals process?

SCANNELL: Absolutely. In New --


SCANNELL: York state, the appeal, the notice of appeals, they have 30 days after sentencing to file that. And then of course, that is a longer

process. An interesting question here is if the judge does sentence Donald Trump, well, even if it's to probation or to any prison time at all, would

he stay that sentence for Donald Trump to appeal it? Appeals can often run into a year or more, that's going to be a little bit further down the road,

but that is something that could be on the horizon as well.

SCIUTTO: That's a great point. OK, so, Kevin, we heard President Biden comment at the top of his remarks on that Mid-East peace plan -- Gaza peace

plan. He was asked another question as he left, he didn't answer it. Is this the last President Biden is going to comment on this conviction, or

can we expect to hear it to become perhaps a part of his campaign?

LIPTAK: I don't think it's the last time we hear from him, whether it becomes a part of his stump speech, I think remains to be seen. But it was

fascinating I think watching him walk out of that room and hear the question about how this would affect the campaign, he paused, he smiled, he

thought about it, then he just kept walking.

And you could kind of see in that moment this tension that exists in the Democratic Party right now. There are those who say that President Biden is

better off saying what he said, being very measured, very restrained, talking about rule of law and leaving it at that.

And then there's this other side who really want President Biden to come out swinging, to say I'm running against a convicted felon, how can anyone

vote for this man? And to really be more forceful in laying out what the stakes are.


President Biden very clearly sticking with the first half, talking about the case, the process that the jury went through, the fact that he was --

has this right to appeal, that he will take the court up on. He called President Trump's attacks on the system reckless and dangerous, but that

was about the extent of his criticism of the former president.

But certainly, when you saw President Biden there in the corner of the room smiling, laughing a little bit, you know, you see in that, there is a sense

that the president knows that this is a political issue, knows that his rival is at a vulnerable moment, and thinks that there could potentially be

an opening to attack him on, he isn't taking it just yet.

SCIUTTO: Kevin Liptak, Kara Scannell as well, thanks so much to both of you. Shortly after the verdict, Trump's attorney Todd Blanche asked the

judge for an acquittal on the charges. The judge rejected what is a pro forma request. Blanche later told our colleague, Kaitlan Collins that the

Trump legal team will quote, "vigorously" fight the verdict on appeal.

They plan to file an appeal on the grounds the jury was biased against Trump, and the timing of the trial was unfair. We should note that the

defense did have the ability to object to particular jurors as part of the normal process. While he is awaiting sentencing, Trump is free to campaign

around the country.

And early on Friday, he spoke to a crowd about the verdict, maintaining his innocence, and once again, criticizing the judge. So, what is next for

Donald Trump after this guilty verdict? Joining us now with some insight is former Miami-Dade County court, Judge Jeff Swartz. Jeff, good to have you



SCIUTTO: All right. First, so big picture. You've heard the arguments principally from Trump's supporters and right-leaning lawyers, but not

exclusively, that this -- these charges, this prosecution was a stretch that the laws used to and the explanation was somewhat esoteric. What's

your response to that argument following this conviction?

SWARTZ: Well, Donald Trump is hardly the first person to have been charged under this particular statute, and he is also not the first person to have

been charged with a felony under this statute. So, the idea that this was picking and choosing, and he's the only one and no one's ever heard of this

before, that's just not true.

In addition, there have been a number of people who have committed very serious offenses in doing this. And they have gotten jail sentences

anywhere from six months to a year. So, the idea that he shouldn't get any time just simply because this is so unique, probably is going to be lost on

Judge Merchan.

I think one of the factors nobody's speaking about, and that is that in covering up, and this was a cover up, we have Cohen who went to prison for

a couple of years. We have Weisselberg who's still doing time for covering up for Donald Trump, and as a result of which, it's hard to imagine the

people who executed the cover up are going to do time, and the guy that they were covering up for and headed it all up would not get any kind of

jail sentence. There just is something wrong with that idea. Just --


SWARTZ: It loses its balance. So, the chances are, he's going to get some jail time, and it's only a question of how that will be operating, whether

it's in the state system or in the federal system.

SCIUTTO: That's remarkable. You believe a former President, current candidate for president, is going to get some time in jail, not just

probation, not just home confinement, but actual time in prison?

SWARTZ: I do. I believe he'll get some jail time, and I think that putting him in Rikers is not going to happen, and within the New York State system

isn't going to happen, that there will be some accommodation by the federal government, so he gets his protection while he's there.

We're talking probably a sentence of a couple of years, which under the New York system, probably adds up to about six or seven months. But yes, I

think he has to get some time --


SWARTZ: If the people who executed his cover-up got time.

SCIUTTO: I mean, that's a remarkable outcome to imagine --

SWARTZ: Definitely --

SCIUTTO: Particularly in the midst of, I mean, assuming that would happen before the election. I understand as we were discussing earlier this hour

that he could be sentenced on June -- July 11th rather, and --

SWARTZ: Right --

SCIUTTO: A judge on appeal could stay that sentence as the appeal runs its course. Is that correct?

SWARTZ: I don't think it's going to take the appellate judge. I think that Judge Merchan is going to give him what's known as a supersedeas bond. That

is a an appeal bond. He will have some restrictions on his freedom as a result of that.

For example, he probably won't, and wear ankle bracelets or anything like that. But when he is outside the state of New York, he will have to check

in and tell someone at the probation department where he is and where he's going.


That doesn't mean he can't go. He won't be given that kind of restriction, but he's going to have some restrictions on his freedom, and that is

probably the way it's going to work because the appeals is going to take probably a year-and-a-half or more to prosecute in the appellate court in

New York.

SCIUTTO: Understood. Important to keep that time-frame in mind. I think we've learned throughout all these cases that the legal system takes time.

Jeff Swartz, thanks so much.

SWARTZ: Yes, have a --

SCIUTTO: Well, the July sentencing in that hush money trial does not mean - - as we were just discussing, the end of Donald Trump's legal troubles, in this case or in others, presumptive Republican presidential nominee has

been indicted in three other criminal cases, including two federal cases brought by special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump accused of illegally retaining classified documents, and most significantly, conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential

election. There is also the case in Georgia where the Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis has charged Trump and 18 others over their

alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in that state.

For a look at how this verdict may impact the broader political landscape, let's bring in CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The

Atlantic", Ron Brownstein, he's joining us from Los Angeles. Ron, it's good to have you. On the question of what political impact this have -- of

course, we don't know, right?

I mean, the election is several months away, there's some polling, a recent poll frequently quoted saying that, well, for most people, it's not going

to affect their decision. But there is some other data, I just wonder if you think the answer to that question is clear, and are you somewhat

skeptical of what I think we could describe as the conventional wisdom that this case probably doesn't have much effect for the vast majority of


I'm personally skeptical of that just because we don't have a lot of data to answer that question, I wonder where you stand. Ron, can you hear me,

OK? It's Jim -- I don't think Ron Brownstein is hearing me. We're going to check that audio and we'll get it fixed as best we can.

Still to come tonight, the U.S. is allowing Ukraine to now use U.S.- supplied weapons inside Russia. But some restrictions remain. We're going to have the details ahead as well as the response from Ukraine's president.

Also, much more on President Joe Biden's new push for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal, could there be progress? We're going to get some reaction

from Jerusalem, ahead.



SCIUTTO: Take a look at the potential political impact from Donald Trump's felony conviction. We have Ron Brownstein; senior political analyst, senior

editor at "The Atlantic" back, and I think hearing me, Ron, you got me, OK?


SCIUTTO: OK, fantastic --


SCIUTTO: The question I asked before the break was, do we know -- is there any solid data to help answer the question? We won't know until November,

but to help answer the question as to whether this felony conviction is impactful on Donald Trump's support? Does it damage here?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, look, I think the -- you know, the polling from before suggest -- from before the verdict, suggests that there is only a limited

number of voters, but you know, a limited number of voters can matter in a country divided as closely as ours, that say they might move away from

Trump if he was convicted.

There was polling earlier this year that had as many as 65 percent of independents saying that he should not be president again if he is

convicted of a felony. But Jim, I'm not sure how, you know, how predictive that really is. I suspect this is going to be slow burn as people kind of

grapple with the question of whether they really can vote for someone who is a convicted felon, be the chief law enforcement officer and commander-

in-chief of the U.S.

The complicating factor and maybe the controlling factor here is that the voters who are most likely to move away from Trump because of this, are

also extremely negative about Biden's performance and dubious that he can do the job for another four years, worried about his age.

And so, you know, I think that this just underscores a core dynamic we've talked about before, that the candidate who wins this election will

probably be the one who can focus voters more on his opponent's vulnerabilities and so on.

SCIUTTO: Biden has in many instances, taken care deliberately, not to comment too often, at least, on the cases Trump is facing. See, he

certainly has attack the system or the judges, you know, the way -- the way Trump has. We did see him comment today and we've seen quite a strong

statement from the campaign following Trump's comments today.

Do you see Biden as being more aggressively critical of Trump, following this conviction on the legal issues than we have before. And do you believe

that's the right approach for Biden and his campaign?

BROWNSTEIN: I don't think, Biden -- I would be surprised if Biden delves or you know, focuses too much on the specifics of this conviction. I think the

argument that we're more likely to hear from him is that Donald Trump is about himself. Donald Trump --

SCIUTTO: Right --

BROWNSTEIN: Is about chaos, Donald Trump is about disruption. I am about solving your problems, he's not going to solve your problems because he's

running for retribution and revenge. And you know, he's focused on himself. There is an imbalance though.

I mean, you know, the question of whether Biden should be talking about this is different than whether the Democratic Party should be taught --

SCIUTTO: Right --

BROWNSTEIN: In this. And you have this kind of unified force of Republicans saying this is fundamentally illegitimate without really a comparable

pushback on the other side, saying to swing voters now, hey, wait a minute, this was a jury of his peers. This was kind of an ordinary trial as it

played out, and this was the verdict they reached.

And it says something about Donald Trump. I don't know if Biden is saying that, but it is kind of striking that we're not hearing it from say, the

chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee --


BROWNSTEIN: Or you know, comparable figures in the House.

SCIUTTO: Yes, where's on the Republican side, you heard virtually a unanimous --


SCIUTTO: Endorsement are coming to the defense of Donald Trump following the conviction.

BROWNSTEIN: And by the way, Jim, that is -- that is significant, not only for -- I mean, what does that tell you about the difference between a

second Trump term and a first Trump term. I mean, in the first Trump term, there were --


BROWNSTEIN: Republicans, Paul Ryan when he was speaker, you know, who would criticize Trump and push back at points and the unanimity here. Mike

Johnson even suggesting that, you know, signaling to the Supreme Court that they need to somehow overturn this.

All of that suggests -- I mean, I think you're getting a very clear signal of how the Republicans in Congress would react to almost anything that

Trump would do if re-elected. That, you know, Larry Hogan says respect the legal process, and Chris LaCivita --


BROWNSTEIN: Trump's campaign manager says your career is over, your campaign is over, that I think is a pretty clear signal of what a second

term would look like in terms of --


BROWNSTEIN: Trump's enhanced control over the Republican Party despite everything that's happened since he was last --

SCIUTTO: And listen, the list of Republicans who stood up to Trump and are now out of office either by their own choice or the choice of voters, you

think of the Liz Cheneys of the world and so on, is long. Ron Brownstein, thanks so much.


We will have more on the conviction of Trump in the hush money trial shortly, but now I do want to hand over back to Isa Soares for more on the

breaking news out of the Middle East.

SOARES: Thanks very much, Jim. And just moments ago, U.S. President Joe Biden shared details of an Israeli ceasefire proposal to end the conflict

in Gaza. Now, he say the details have been transmitted to Qatari negotiators as well as to Hamas.

He calls it comprehensive, saying it includes a ceasefire and the release of all hostages. Have a listen.


BIDEN: Past eight months had marked heartbreaking pain. Pain of those who love others slaughtered by Hamas terrorists on October 7th. Hostage and

their families waiting in anguish, ordinary Israelis whose lives are forever marked by the shattering event, Hamas' sexual violence and ruthless


And the Palestinian people have endured sheer hell in this war. Too many innocent people have been killed, including thousands of children, far too

many have been badly wounded. We all saw the terrible images from the deadly fire in Rafah early this week, following an Israeli strike against

targeting Hamas.

And even as we work to surge assistance to Gaza, with 1,800 trucks delivering supplies these last five days, 1,800, humanitarian crisis still

remains. I know this is a subject on which people in this country feel deep, passionate convictions, and so do I.


SOARES: Well, on the ground in Gaza, this comes as the Israeli military confirms that its troops are now operating in central Rafah, which the U.S.

has urged Israel not to do images, of course, that we've been showing you for the past few days.

Let's get more on the latest developments, Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem for us this hour. So, Jeremy, we heard -- I think it's fair to say pretty

detailed proposal or roadmap to a ceasefire there from President Biden the last 45 minutes. Just talk us through the three phases and how different

potentially, Jeremy, this is, from what has been proposed before.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the most detailed that we have ever heard the president speak about a ceasefire proposal that

is on the table, and this, the president has said is an Israeli proposal that has been submitted to the mediators who are sharing it with Hamas,

they did so earlier this week.

And there are a few very interesting things about this. The broad outlines are the same. We're talking about three phases. The first phase would last

six weeks, it would see the release of the -- of women, the elderly and the wounded in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Interestingly, one new thing about phase one is that the Israelis are willing to exchange -- to see the release of some dead hostages in that

first phase, that was previously something that they had entirely rejected. And then here's what's really interesting is that, in order to get to phase

two, phase two would be an agreement on a permanent ceasefire and would see the release of Israeli soldiers as part of that second phase.

But in order to get to phase two, there would be negotiations during the course of this initial six-week ceasefire. And if by the end of those six

weeks, there still isn't an agreement, that ceasefire would continue as long as negotiations are still continuing.

And that appears to be a pretty elegant way of trying to get this ceasefire to last longer than six weeks, for it to eventually be able to lead to a

permanent end to the hostilities without having Israel agree upfront to a permanent end to the war.

We should note, of course, that Hamas is still calling for Israel to agree to a permanent ceasefire in order to even get into the phase one of this

ceasefire agreement. So, it is a move in terms of the Israeli positioned closer to Hamas' position, although it doesn't bring them entirely in the

same ballpark of where Hamas is.

And we should also know that this week and perhaps this speaks to the timing of the president's speech. This week, we have seen Hamas actually

entrench itself even further, hardening its positions even further by saying, not only does it want Israel to agree to a permanent end to the war

in order to get any of its hostages released.

But it also is now saying that Israel needs to stop its military operations now, before it will actually agree to return to the negotiating table. So,

there's no question that President Biden's speech was an attempt to bring some public pressure to bear, not only on Hamas' leadership, but also on

Israel's leadership to ensure that if Hamas agrees to this, that this is something that Israel and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,

who is facing significant pressure from the right flank of his party to not agree to an end to the war, so that Netanyahu actually sticks to this deal

if indeed Hamas agrees to it.


SOARES: Yes. Clearly the onus now is on Hamas, Jeremy, but I wondered just on that pressure, political internal pressure on the right side, right

flank of Netanyahu's party, have we had any reaction so far to this?

DIAMOND: I have not seen any reaction yet, but we should note that Bezalel Smotrich, the Finance Minister, and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the National Security

Minister, both of them have effectively threatened to leave the government, which would cause the collapse of this current government and lead to new

elections, if the Israeli Prime Minister agrees to an end to -- of the war.

And we should also note that they have been the ones calling for these military operations in Rafah that we are seeing now, and on that I do want

to draw your attention to some new satellite imagery that we have from Eastern Rafah, showing the devastation that the Israeli military's

offensive, which started in Eastern Rafah about three weeks ago, has caused.

You can see that over the course of the last several weeks, a big swath of Eastern Rafah buildings have been flattened and turned into rubble. That is

not the case, we should note, right now in Central Rafah, where the Israeli military today, for the first time, said that they are now operating. We

have satellite imagery showing an Israeli military position in Central Rafah, but in terms of the downtown area of that city, as of now, we have

not seen the kind of devastation that we know the Israeli military can and has caused in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

SOARES: Jeremy Diamond for us in Jerusalem this evening. Thanks very much, Jeremy.

Well, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Ukraine can expect a very robust NATO package at the Alliance's Washington Summit that's taking place

in July. Today, Blinken is wrapping up a meeting with NATO foreign ministers, that's happening in Prague. This meeting follows U.S. President

Joe Biden's decision this week to allow Ukraine to use U.S. weapons for limited strikes inside Russian territory.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Over the past few weeks, Ukraine came to us and asked for the authorization to use weapons that we're

providing to defend against this aggression, including against Russian forces that are massing on the Russian side of the border and then

attacking into Ukraine.

And that went right to the President, and as you've heard, he's approved the use of our weapons for that purpose.


SOARES: And staying on President Biden's announcement, of course, on those U.S. weapons, his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is praising

the decision, calling it a step forward. And this marks a break from longstanding U.S. policy after intense pressure from U.S. allies.

Frederik Pleitgen has more on how this move could help Ukraine turn a corner.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Isa. Well, this is certainly a significant decision by the Biden administration,

as the Ukrainians for a while now have been saying that they're essentially fighting with one hand tied behind their backs, where they're getting

attacked by the Russians from Russian soil towards the Kharkiv area of Ukraine. And they can't really fight back with those Western-made weapons

if they were to fire into Russian territory.

Now, the big difference now is that the Ukrainians are going to be able to fire back using U.S.-made weapons, but only in a restricted manner. Now,

they can hit Russian troops that are amassing on the Russian side of the border, getting ready, for instance, possibly to attack Ukraine.

What they could also do, for instance, is they could try to shoot down Russian jets using U.S.-made surface-to-air missile systems. Of course, the

Russian Air Force recently has been a lot more effective than before at targeting Ukrainian positions, in some cases with some pretty heavy

munitions. One of the things, however, that the Ukrainians are not going to be able to use is some of the most potent weapons that the U.S. has given

the Ukrainians, those longer-range ATACMS missiles, with which, for instance, they could hit the air bases that Russian jets take off from.

So, they can now use American-made weapons to target Russian territory, but only near the front lines in the Kharkiv area, or towards the Kharkiv area,

where the Russians are conducting that new offensive. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian president is saying that this is a good first step. The Russians,

for their part, of course, absolutely irate about all this.

The Kremlin is saying that, of course, this means that those U.S. weapons, and as they put it, the handlers, would also become targets for the

Russians. How this will change things on the battlefield is unclear. Nevertheless, for the Ukrainians, this certainly brings with it a lot more

combat firepower that they could now use defending that very key front line, Isa.

SOARES: Frederik Pleitgen, thank you very much. We're going to take a short break. We'll see you on the other side.



SCIUTTO: Republican lawmakers, just about across the board, are rallying around the former president quickly, coming to his defense and blasting the

jury's verdict. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying, in part, "These charges never should have been brought in the first

place. I expect the conviction to be overturned on appeal."

New York Congressman, Elise Stefanik, very much a Trump supporter, posted on X, calling the verdict, "Corrupt and rigged," echoing words of the

former president. Many members of the Republican Party took to Fox News to share similar messages of support for Trump.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This was certainly a hoax, a sham. This was devastating for the average American.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: This is the most outrageous travesty I've ever seen, and the problem here is Democrats have crossed this line.

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R), OHIO: I've never heard constituents so frustrated and so angry at what they've seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're so afraid of Donald Trump that they're willing to ruin our election system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My reaction, like that of many Americans, is one of fury, outrage, contempt.


SCIUTTO: I want to bring in Maura Gillespie. She's founder of Bluestack Strategies and a former press advisor to the former Speaker of the House,

John Boehner. Maura, good to have you.


SCIUTTO: Let me ask you for your reaction to this verdict. Do you share the criticism that you heard there from Senator Rubio, Vance, and others? Do

you believe that this conviction was rigged, in the words of the former president?

GILLESPIE: I don't think you can say that about a 12-person jury that is, you know, of his peers, to say that it's rigged. I think that they handled

the information that they had, and they made a decision. I was surprised by it, just because I do think this case of all that has been brought against

the former president was the weakest.


And the most convoluted. But I think what it really drives home, so I'm not going to sit here and defend Donald Trump, I'm certainly not, but I think

what it drives home is this idea of, you know, being above the law is one thing, we don't believe anyone is. I agree with that.

But what happens if you become the target of the law? And I think this case, and what Republicans are going to message from here on out, I think

until the election is that, you know, this case brought against him, if he wasn't running for president again. So I think that does call into question

what Americans are probably thinking at home. I don't know that it moves the needle too much as far as showing support for or against, you know, for

or against the former president, but it does call into question, you know, that -- what's at stake here, and what repercussions does this have moving

forward for our democracy.

SCIUTTO: The problem with that argument, right, is that Trump and his supporters, they celebrate indictments of their enemies, right? I mean,

Trump attacks the Justice Department for the indictments regarding his alleged attempts to overturn the election, celebrates the fact that they've

indicted Hunter Biden, right, the president's son, or Senator Rob Menendez, a Democratic senator from New Jersey.

They like when the system in quotes goes after their enemies, but they don't like when it comes after them, and I just wonder, what's the

principle there? I mean, I get the argument that they feel that, particularly with this case, would not have been brought against others. I

get that argument, but the thing is they are very happy to celebrate cases, even from the same institutions, right, whether it be the Justice

Department or someone else, if it's going after folks on the other side.

GILLESPIE: And I don't disagree with you. I think that is one of the most frustrating parts about, you know, this matchup yet again, but just as

where politics is right now, you know, the hypocrisy runs rampant, I'd say, in politics, but it's really hard, you know, to watch as both sides do it.

They cherry-pick issues, but then contradict themselves, left, right, and center, and you see that a lot with the Trump campaign.

And now to, you know, his supporters who are going out to speak on his behalf. You know, you don't have to necessarily like Donald Trump or even

want to vote for him or vote for him to recognize that this situation, this case may not be the strongest one and wonder about that, and I think, you

know, for voters, that's going to be something that they think about.

They don't have to vote for either of these two candidates, Joe Biden or Donald Trump, but to have a question about the integrity of our

institutions, that to me is the most troubling part.

SCIUTTO: Yes. There -- of course, there's been some polling not since the conviction about how much this factors into voters' decisions, and I know

that from Trump himself and many of his supporters and spokespeople, they're saying this is going to help him, and by the way, they brought in a

lot of money overnight. They're saying they brought in some $34 million overnight since this conviction, but I wonder what the truth is inside the

Trump camp.

Are they actually concerned privately that this could damage him, or are they truly confident that this is going to perhaps help him, and not just

with his base, but even with independent voters?

GILLESPIE: I'm sure that they are churning out the fundraising. I've gotten several messages today generated from different fundraising efforts on his

behalf, so that part I'm sure they're thrilled about, the money portion, which again, a lot of this is driven by money. However, I think he is

probably very concerned about what happens, you know, between now and, you know, the next, finding out what's going to happen to him.

I think, you know, for his team and for his supporters, this question of, you know, the vice presidency becomes even more important, and the legal

parameters of, you know, does he need to look ahead to, you know, potentially a pardon if it gets to that point down in November. Yes. I

think those questions are certainly being asked within the Trump camp, so, you know, the vice president pick becomes even more important, I would say,

and that's probably where their focus is. But I'm sure he's worried about being sentenced to jail or things of that nature.

I don't know that the judge would do that, but I'm sure they're playing out all the scenarios, I would hope.

SCIUTTO: No question. Maura Gillespie, thanks so much for joining.

GILLESPIE: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Still to come tonight, we are hearing reaction to the verdict from around the world as well. Donald Trump getting some support from some quite

predictable places.

And the Champions League final is set for Saturday. Fans wondering if it will be another win for a regular victor, or if the underdog could spring a

surprise. That's coming up.



SOARES: Well, let's look at the global reaction, of course, to Donald Trump's guilty verdict. The former U.S. President is getting support from

somewhere, I should say, predictable places. The Kremlin is saying that Trump's rivals are using, "Legal and illegal means." Many Western nations,

including the White House, are giving more, of course, rigid response than you'd expect, or, in fact, declining to comment at all.

Our Nada Bashir is tracking developments for us. And, Nada, obviously, when this broke here in the West, you know, in Europe, it was quite late, right?


SOARES: So many of the papers had it on the front page, but didn't have the long editorials. But talk us through what some of the allies, his allies

are saying, his supporters, and the rest of leaders across the board.

BASHIR: Well, as you mentioned, some of the responses have been quite predictable from people who have been allied to President Trump, or at

least expressed support for President Trump in the past. We've heard from the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, he put out a statement on X

saying, "Let the people make their verdict in November. Keep on fighting, Mr. President."

We've also heard from Italy's Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini. He actually described the conviction of Trump as judicial harassment in his

words. And he said, "In Italy, we are sadly familiar with the weaponization of the justice system by the left, who," he has said "for years has tried

to eliminate political opponents through legal means."

And, of course, important to note that these are countries where we do see a significant far-right political presence. On the other side, we have seen

some of the U.S.'s closest allies being a bit more diplomatic in their responses.

There was a question put to the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, earlier this morning. He said we wouldn't be expected to hear from the

British Prime Minister commenting on another country's domestic politics or judicial processes. He said that he is squarely focused on this country's


Of course, we're both in election years. Both countries will have to work together regardless of who is elected. So that is certainly a key point of

focus here in the U.K.

And that was certainly expressed by the opposition leader, Keir Starmer, who said that he has respected the judicial processes of the United States,

but that this is an unprecedented situation in his words, but even so, that the U.K. would work with whoever is to be elected in the U.S.

SOARES: And the Kremlin giving the response that we all kind of expected in many ways.

BASHIR: Absolutely. And actually, we heard from the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, responding to the Kremlin. We heard from Peskov, the


SOARES: Dmitry Peskov.

BASHIR: Dmitry Peskov, the spokesmen, saying that political rivals are being eliminated in the U.S. through all legal and illegal means. Antony

Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State, describing this as a classic case of projection.

SOARES: I think let's get ready for the editorials of the weekend. There will be lengthy and I think we'll have a bit more clarity on that. Thank

you very much, Nada, great to see you.

And still to come right here tonight, football fans are getting excited for the Champions League finals happening tomorrow. We'll ask our expert what

to expect right after this.



SOARES: Well, it's one of football's glittering prices. The UEFA Champions League final will be played tomorrow right here in London. Borussia

Dortmund will be playing the competition's most frequent final participant, that is Real Madrid, which has already won 14 times. The Spanish side are a

strong favorites, but the Germans have already surprised a lot of people in getting this far.

Our Senior Sports Analyst Darren Lewis is at Wembley Stadium, where the final is going to be held tomorrow. And Darren, I mean, what the clash this

is going to be between the Spanish and German footballing giants. Just talk us through what we're expecting. I know that London's already buzzing about


DARREN LEWIS, CNN SENIOR SPORTS ANALYST: It is indeed. Temperatures are low here in North London, Isa, but expectation is high that we'll get another

classic Champions League final.

You've mentioned it a second ago. Real Madrid are winners of the last -- of 14 Champions Leagues, or European Cups, as the competition was known before

the '90s. And I'll just give you a couple of other stats in relation to them as well.

They've won each of their last eight finals in the competition, and five of the last ten that have been played. So, that is some mountain that Dortmund

have to climb. And it's going to be very difficult for them, their last one in 1997.

It's going to be difficult for them, but they are a fairy story in themselves. Their head coach, Edin Terzic, he has been a scout, a youth

coach, an assistant coach, and now he's the manager. And as you've been saying, he's defied the odds on a number of occasions against teams on a

lot more money.

So it's going to be a kind of David against Goliath competition, but the expectation is that Dortmund will give as good as they get.

SOARES: And this, I believe, will be Toni Kroos', I think, final game for the club. We know he's already won, I think, several Champions League,

right? But this will really be the icing on the cake for him.

LEWIS: Yeah, it would be. He has been a wonderful servant for the club. He is one of only two players to have played in every single moment of the

Champions League season so far. So that's all 12 games, 90 minutes plus extra time in some cases.

He's a 35-year-old defender, and I can tell you, when you get to 35, the knees start creaking just a little bit. But he's been doing a brilliant job

marshalling the team, getting the younger players through the difficult moments, and helping them as a side to defy the odds. That's what makes

this game so fascinating, Isa.


Because lots of people expect that the superstars of Real Madrid are going to be the team, the ones who come out on top because they always win.

But Dortmund, they always, as I said, defy the odds.

SOARES: And not playing today, but certainly, I imagine, Darren, watching, will be Kylian Mbappe, who only this week I remember in his interview with

our Amanda Davis, said he won't be drawn on whether he'll be supporting Real Madrid here in the Champions League final.

But what everyone wants to know, including I should say, my two boys, is where he will go next. What are your thoughts?

LEWIS: Well, Amanda did a super job by teasing it out of him because he suggested that it is going to be confirmed in the coming days. And when she

said, well, is it going to be Real Madrid? He gave a right smile.

The big expectation is indeed that he will sign for the Spanish superpowers and he'll make them even stronger, playing off the left-hand side of their

attack. He's a goal machine. We covered him at the World Cup in Qatar last time around.

And he's done all he can for the French giants, PSG. I think your boys can be safe in the knowledge that they'll be seeing him in the Real Madrid. So,

I feel sorry for you, Isa, because you're the one who's going to have to fork out for it.

SOARES: Yes, he's already wearing a football kit, Real Madrid football kit today just trying to confirm -- get me to confirm. I said, I can't confirm.

Very excited. Darren, thank you very much. Great to see you.

That does it for tonight. Please stay right here. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto is up next.