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Prosecution Delivers Closing Argument In Hush Money Trial; Eyewitnesses: Israeli Tanks Enter Rafah City Center; Humanitarian Aid Pier To Gaza Breaks Apart In Heavy Seas; How Hush Money Verdict Could Impact Election; Melinda French Gates To Donate $1 Billion For Women's Rights; OpenAI Announces New Safety Board After Employee Revolt. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 28, 2024 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A major escalation in Gaza, a dramatic conclusion as well to the Donald Trump hush money trial. Closing arguments

underway in the Manhattan criminal court. Right now, the prosecution making its case to the jury

Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto.


Israel pressing on with its military operation in Rafah despite international calls to stop the offensive after the attack on a refugee

camp that killed dozens of civilians. We will have much more on that in just a moment.

SCIUTTO: We do begin though with the unprecedented trial of former president Donald Trump now drawing to a close after 22 witnesses, more than

50 hours of testimony, the prosecution with the final word is wrapping up its closing argument.

Prosecutors have said the details of Michael Cohen's story have been backed up by other witnesses and evidence. The defense called Cohen the MVP of

liars and told the jury they cannot convict based on his words alone.

Jessica Schneider is in Washington, DC.

And Jessica, it strikes me that this is really a case that's presented by the defense and the prosecution as to who do you believe, right?

I mean, the prosecution is making the case right now, you don't have to just believe Michael Cohen in this, there are other facts. There are other

testimony, there is other evidence.

The defense on the other hand, is saying lot of holes in his credibility, and if you don't believe him, you can't believe anything.


The defense really did focus in on Michael Cohen and destroying his credibility, telling the jurors that there was reasonable doubt because of

that, what the prosecution has been doing in the afternoon here is they reminding jurors about all of the evidence that they've laid out in this

case, not just Michael Cohen's testimony.

And what they have been doing over the past few minutes as they've been going back chronologically to detail the various hush money schemes, in

particular that the "National Enquirer" and Donald Trump were directly involved in and that is one of the prosecution's attempt to really bolster

their case his with evidence of a pattern from trump that he was involved in these payoffs to different people during the election.

Ultimately, the prosecution said, at the beginning of their summation today, they say that this case is about the conspiracy and the cover-up.

They say they conspiracy was that attempt to influence the 2016 election through these cover-ups, this hush money deal and everything like that.

And the prosecution is reminding jurors that this included the Stormy Daniels' payment, and then that was the conspiracy, the cover-up being the

falsification of the business records, meaning the falsification of what was documentation of those repayments to Michael Cohen.

And what is crucial here is that the prosecution needs to approve both in order to have these criminal charges count as felonies, because

falsification of business records on their own is just a misdemeanor.

Now, Jim, I mean, the prosecution, they admitted early on in their summation that Michael Cohen is not the perfect witness. But as you said,

they've also reminded the jury that there is a stack of evidence that backs up Cohen's claims that Trump knew about this cover-up.

So we still have about at least two hours to go in the prosecution's summation. It is unclear at this point if this will wrap up tonight. It

could potentially bleed over until tomorrow morning, but tomorrow we are expecting that the jury will hear their jury instructions from the judge,

basically how to apply the law to all of the facts they've heard.

And then it looks like deliberations probably could begin at some point tomorrow. So we are looking to see how much longer this summation goes and

then how things move forward from there -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, we should note the prosecution just told the judge that he, the lead prosecutor, is about a third of the way through his closing

argument. After those arguments conclude, as Jessica was saying, the jury will receive instructions, jury instructions from the judge, and then will

begin their deliberations, likely to happen on Wednesday.

Those deliberations will continue until all 12 members of the jury agree on the verdict. If they do come to such an agreement only then will they

announced the decision if they find him guilty, then move on to sentencing, although there will be sometime between that decision and a sentencing


Anyway, long way to go. Lots of other outcomes.

Duncan Levin is a criminal defense attorney, former federal prosecutor. He joins me now.

So as we watch the closing argument for the prosecution continue here, we should note, there is a reason that the prosecution began its case with

David Pecker. There is a reason why they brought accountants to the stand and others.

There is a reason why they brought Hope Hicks, a still loyal lieutenant to Donald Trump to the stand before they got to Michael Cohen because they

knew that Michael Cohen has credibility issues here.


In your view, have they stacked up the evidence to a credible degree so that the whole case does not rest on Michael Cohen?

In other words, is there more there, there?

DUNCAN LEVIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, absolutely. They left their most problematic witnesses for last, and I would lump Stormy Daniels into

that category as well because these are people who have been -- sort of they are uncontrollable witnesses.

They're out there on podcasts and writing books. Michael Cohen wrote a book called "Revenge." So this is a problematic witness for the DA's Office, but

what they did is they laid out a trail of breadcrumbs leading to Michael Cohen's so that when Michael Cohen testifies and gets cross-examined on it,

they can point to the jury all the ways in which his testimony is corroborated by all of these other witnesses.

And they started with David Pecker, who laid out this conspiracy between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, the "National Enquirer" to promote the

election by unlawful means, the hush money payments, Stormy Daniels' lawyer Keith Davidson added to that -- all of the witnesses, including Michael

Cohen's banker, who talked about how Michael Cohen called in a frenzy after the Access Hollywood tape came out in a frenzy to start this shell company

to get this money funneled through to Stormy Daniels, all of that led up to Michael Cohen's testimony.

So that in closing, they will be able to do exactly what they are doing right now, which is saying you don't need to believe Michael Cohen to

convict Mr. Trump. If you believe Michael Cohen, if you credit what he said, it is a slam dunk and you have to convict.

But even if you don't believe him, look at the ways in which all of these other pieces of evidence support what he is saying. Both sides agree that

he is a liar, but the prosecution is going to make the point. He was telling the truth about the core part of this case.

SCIUTTO: Of course, there is another person in that courtroom with a credibility problem, that is Donald Trump himself, and there is a reason,

perhaps several reasons while Trump did not -- why Trump did not go on the stand and testify under oath. Is it correct to portray this as a who do you

believe case here? Do you believe not just Cohen, but the other testimony of the other witnesses and as it has been laid out by the prosecution or do

you believe Trump and the defense?

Or I mean, listen, the bar though is of course higher for the prosecution because all the defense has to do is raise a reasonable doubt. They don't

have to sort of tip the whole balance.

LEVIN: I think it is not an a he said-she said in any kind of way because what Michael Cohen is saying is so highly corroborated by all of these

other pieces of evidence.

Now, of course, the prosecution can't get up and say Donald Trump didn't testify, read into that. The defense has absolutely no obligation to do

anything. They can sit there. They don't have to open. They don't have to close. They don't have to call a single witness and that is their

constitutional right.

But having chosen not to take the stand, the question is, what did the defense accomplished during this trial? They did a reasonable job of trying

to poke some holes in the case, but they never really offered an adequate alternative explanation than what the prosecution laid out.

The prosecution laid out a very simple story, which starts with Donald Trump having an extramarital affair and the story about to come out right

before the election, him trying to quash the story from coming out by sending secret payments pursuant to an NDA that was secretly signed with

fake names, and then covering it up on the books and records of the Trump Organization.

Now the defense doesn't need to do anything to do that, but they're trying to poke holes in that and say, well, Mr. Trump did not know about the

falsification. Mr. Trump didn't know about that.

What they have really tried to argue here is that the sexual affair never happened and that these payments to Michael Cohen were actually for

legitimate legal expenses. That is their defense, and I don't know that they've provided enough to give the jury to hang their hats on that.

SCIUTTO: Okay. And this we should note, there was a brief break. Now the jury is back in the courtroom. The prosecutor is back at the podium.

Before we go, beyond the credibility issues here, there is a legal leap that the jury must be willing to take to convict here and that is not only

that there was this falsification of business records in terms of these payments to Stormy Daniels, but that it was in furtherance of another crime

and that's what raises this from a misdemeanor to a felony, if they were to choose to convict. That other crime being, among other things influencing

an election.

Has the prosecution succeeded in proving that those payments and that one crime was in furtherance of another?

LEVIN: That is to me the part they've proven the most. They've shown this conspiracy between David Pecker, the "National Enquirer," Michael Cohen,

Donald Trump to promote an election by unlawful means.


Now, the judge is allowing the jury not to be unanimous on what the unlawful means were, so for example someone on the jury might say that was

the Karen McDougal payment, someone on the jury might say that was the Stormy Daniels' payment, but they've proven out this conspiracy. They've

shown by tape recorded conversations that Michael Cohen secretly made in the Oval Office that Donald Trump was part of this conspiracy.

They've shown that this was about the election. This was not about preventing Melania from finding out about an affair, for example. This was

about the election that was overwhelmingly proven.

The weaker part of their case is whether Mr. Trump actually caused the filing of the false business records, which is sort of the more boring part

of the case, but it is the part that it is the part that is sort of the weakest I think.

So, I think when it comes to this conspiracy, it has been proven not only by Michael Cohen, but by David Pecker, by Keith Davidson, by Madeleine

Westerhout, who is Mr. Trump's personal assistant in the White House, the secrecy surrounding the payments, the text messages, the e-mails. There is

just a plethora of evidence that suggests that this conspiracy happened and Mr. Trump was at the center of it.

SCIUTTO: And we could see right now they are talking about the timing of this payment being in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape to, in effect

make that argument you're describing there that the reason they made these payments is they were genuinely concerned about his standing possibility of

losing the race, and that buttresses they argue, their case that was in furtherance of another crime.

Duncan Levin, great to have you on. Thanks so much.

And just ahead, Israeli tanks are reported now in the center of Rafah in Southern Gaza, and there is growing outcry over Sunday's deadly strike on a

displacement camp just outside of Rafah.

We are going to have the latest on several developments in Gaza.


CHATTERLEY: Welcome back.

And to Gaza now where witnesses say Israeli tanks have been spotted for the first time in the southern city of Rafah.

Two displacement camps in Rafah were also struck overnight Tuesday claiming the lives of at least 29 Palestinians. Those numbers, of course coming to

us from Gaza's Ministry of Health.

Israel is still investigating a strike two days ago that killed dozens of people at another camp just outside Rafah. An IDF spokesman said the target

was a compound where Hamas commanders were meeting. And that steps were taken to minimize civilian harm.



REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL'S CHIEF MILITARY SPOKESPERSON: Following this strike, a large fire ignited for reasons that are still being


Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size. I want to repeat it. Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size.

Our investigation seeks to determine what may have caused such a large fire to ignite.

We are looking into all possibilities, including the option that weapons stored in a compound next to our target, which we did not know of may have

ignited as a result of the strike.


CHATTERLEY: Let's get to Jeremy Diamond now in Jerusalem.

Jeremy, what Daniel Hagari also said when he was giving that press conference is that it doesn't make the events of what we saw any less

tragic, and I think we have to underscore that point.

He said that they are operating in Rafah in a targeted, in a precise way. Does that match what we are seeing on the ground, particularly if you

compare it to the activities that we've seen over the last six months?

Okay, I think we are having some difficulties getting hold of him there. When we do get to him, we will get him and we will get back to him when we


For now, the effort to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza has been dealt another setback. The temporary pier constructed by the US military broke

apart on Sunday in heavy seas.

These are before and after satellite images and you can see there showing the damage. The pier, which costs $320 million to build, and only been

operating for a matter of days. Officials say it will be reassembled and reconnected to the parking area when sea conditions allow it.

For more on this, let's get to Natasha Bertrand in Washington. Natasha, this is an embarrassment. We know the seas are incredibly choppy in this

area and that this was likely to face this kind of structural challenge. How quickly do they think they can get this back together?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Julia. I am having a little bit of trouble hearing you, but just to lay out what we

learned today from the Pentagon.

This floating pier which has been operational for really about less than two weeks is already out of commission because heavy sea states damaged

part of that pier and forced the US military to take it back to the Port of Ashdod where it is going to undergo repairs by US Central Command.

Essentially, what happened was that the parking lot portion of that causeway, which is attached to the shore in Gaza broke off and it became

detached from the rest of the causeway. And so now they have to take the entire structure and they you have to move it back to Israel where it is

going to undergo these repairs for at least the next week according to the Pentagon.

And this comes just days after heavy sea states also impacted a number of US army vessels that were helping to transport part of that floating pier

back to Ashdod, again because of heavy sea states and they actually got disconnected from the rest of that pier system and ended up beached near

Ashkelon in Israel and near the beach in Gaza.

Two of those boats, which were beached near Gaza, they actually had to have the US soldiers that are on them stay on the boats because of President

Biden's pledge that no US soldiers would actually be on the ground in Gaza.

And so they have been there for the last several days. This pier, which was -- this causeway which was attached to the shore in Gaza is now being moved

back. And this all comes as the US military really has had a slow start in getting that aid operationally moving across that causeway and into Gaza.

Originally, they had predicted that roughly 90 trucks per day would be able to get into Gaza, but now, of course we are seeing that really only a

fraction of that was able to get over that pier before it all kind of came apart.

And so now, we are going to have to wait and see just how long it takes to repair this very expensive operation, which was already costing the US

government around $320 million.

But the US officials that we speak to insist that it still has been somewhat of a success because they managed in that short amount of time

that it was actually working to get over thousand tons of aid to the people of Gaza.

So saying it has not been a complete failure there -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: No, but the structural efficacy of this is not the only challenge in getting Gaza this way -- getting the aid this way into Gaza.

For now, Natasha Bertrand, thank you for that.

And do believe we've reestablished a connection now with Jeremy Diamond. I can see you in Jerusalem.

Jeremy, we were listening to the spokesman for the IDF, Daniel Hagari, just as I was introducing you saying that based on the munitions that they used

for that strike on Sunday, they don't believe it would have created the fire that then resulted, and obviously they are carrying out their

investigation at this stage whether or not they perhaps hit some kind of fuel tank or perhaps a munitions storage as well.

He also said that what they are doing now in Rafah is taking place in a targeted and a precise way. I just wanted to get your sense and certainly

from what you're hearing of whether that is indeed true particularly if we compare it to the operations and activities that we've seen from them over

the past six months.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly there does appear to be a difference between the ground operations of the Israeli military in Rafah

at this stage compared to those that they have carried out in other parts of the Gaza Strip -- in Northern Gaza at the beginning of the war, and then

in Central and Southern Gaza at places like Khan Younis in subsequent months.

We are not witnessing the same level of destruction and of casualties from that ground offensive as we did in previous iterations of it elsewhere in

the Gaza Strip. It appears that the Israeli military is kind of been circling certain areas, clearing those areas of militants and then moving

on to the next part of it, a much more deliberate strategy than what they've been carrying out previously.

That doesn't mean of course that this military operation is proceeding without casualties and certainly not without civilian casualties. As we've

been watching beyond the ground offensive, there have been these strikes, like the one Sunday night killing 45 Palestinians according to the

Palestinian Ministry of Health, wounding hundreds of others.

And the Israeli military isn't even as they are investigating that strike and they have kind of entered this damage control mode amid the

international condemnation of it, they're not necessarily changing their strategy elsewhere in Gaza on the ground and that is as it relates to other


Late last night following about a hundred and fifty meters away from that Sunday night strike, the Israeli military carried out yet another airstrike

it appears on the Tel al-Sultan camp very close to that location of that Sunday night strike killing eight people and then they also carried out a

strike in the Al-Mawasi area, which most of that area has indeed been designated as a humanitarian safe zone for the population there.

And that strike killing 21 people, including 13 women, and so it is very clear that the Israeli military is not going to slow down, it appears in

the kinds of operations and the strikes that it is carrying out in the Gaza Strip, even as it faces that growing international condemnation and

isolation, and even as it takes this fairly rare step of actually carrying out an investigation into one of its strikes this week.

CHATTERLEY: Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem for us tonight. Thank you for that.

Now Israel and the Palestinians are also fighting a battle for public opinion, which is playing out around the world.

On Tuesday, Spain, Norway, and Ireland all officially recognized Palestinian statehood and Slovenia plans to consider a proposal this week

to do the same.

Right now, the UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting about Sunday's strike in Rafah. It comes after the UN's top court ordered Israel

to immediately halt its military operation there.

I want to bring in Daniel Levy. He is the president of the US/Middle East Project. He is also a former Israeli peace negotiator and government


Daniel, good to have you with us tonight. What do you make of what we are now seeing? The message certainly from the Israeli seems to be look, we are

carrying this out now in a more strategic and precise manner, but that doesn't negate from the tragedies that are still taking place in Gaza.

DANIEL LEVY, PRESIDENT, US/MIDDLE EAST PROJECT: Well, yes, indeed, I think for many, many months of this war, this assault on Gaza. The Israeli

military was openly saying, there are no civilians -- everyone in Gaza is a legitimate target that was why the International Court of Justice initially

called for provisional measures. It is why they have subsequently called for a halt to the operation and why the International Criminal Court chief

prosecutor has asked for the judges to issue arrest warrants not only against Hamas leadership, but against the Israeli prime minister and

defense minister.

Now off the back of that, you have the Israelis saying, we will investigate to bring in the idea of complementarity that the outside doesn't have to

investigate, that these are surgical -- I am afraid it is not credible when we see both what is happening in terms of the continuation of mass civilian

killing events on an extremely regular basis, and we see that these safe zones or anything but safe in both senses of the word. They are not safe

from Israeli military action, nor are they safe in terms of their ability to absorb and to offer the most minimal basic life conditions to the

hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who are being forced, yet again to up sticks and move to these areas.


So it is not credible. You have, I think with each passing week to be blunt, the US administration and the spokespeople who are sent out to

defend that policy sounding ever less credible.

CHATTERLEY: I was going to ask you more specifically about the international community, but you've honed in on the United States. So let's

talk about that.

How credible now is the threat from President Biden to restrict further weaponry if we did see a continuation of the operation it into Rafah? Can

they continue to remain silent on this? And do you expect any further response because you can argue that the Israelis are being more strategic

and perhaps more targeted compared to what we've seen over the past six months.

But to your point, the accusations and the condemnation seems to flow without definitive accountability.

LEVY: Well, there is no accountability and the absence of accountability is decades in the making. It is not something of recent vintage as you know.

So the administration, I think has shown it has a make-believe red line when you enter refer. The Rafah operation is deep into being undertaken and

we can pretend that that is not what's happening, but as the weeks go on, that is becoming ever more clear. So it is a make-believe red line.

There is a make-believe Saudi-Israel-American peace effort that we've seen going on. And unfortunately, that also translates into a make believe

American adherence to international law.

It tells us that it believes in a rules-based order, but it undermines that order with everything it is doing. What is not make believe is the very

real and terrible suffering of the civilian population in Gaza, and what is not make believe is that not Israelis or not Palestinians who will have

security the longer we allow this to go on.

CHATTERLEY: And for balance, I will say that the Israelis would say that this is also Hamas embedding themselves within the Gazan population once

again, not that that ultimately defends or justifies the ongoing loss of life that were seen.

Daniel, good to have you. Thank you.

Daniel Levy there, President of the US/Middle East Project. We appreciate your time.

Now Donald Trump's New York hush money draws to a close, the race for the White House is heating up.

Harry Enten breaks down the latest in polls, next.



CHATTERLEY: Hello, I'm Julia Chatterley, and there's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when we'll discuss how the outcome of Donald Trump's

hush money trial could affect his chances in November's presidential election. And OpenAI's CEO setting up a new safety board and putting

himself at the helm. But before that, the headlines this hour.

Georgia's parliament has voted to override the presidential veto on the foreign agents legislation carrying the final hurdle for the controversial

bill to become law. The measure has sparked weeks of protests with critic saying it's similar to a Russian law to stifle dissent.

Taiwan's lawmakers have approved a controversial bill that gives them new powers of oversight. The bill criminalizes, quote, "contempt of parliament

by government officials." Critics of the bill protested outside parliament against the measure. Among their slogans, no democracy without


Pope Francis has apologized for his use of an anti-gay slur. He reportedly made the homophobic remark in a closed-door meeting as he told bishops that

gay men shouldn't be allowed to train for the priesthood. The Vatican says the pontiff did not mean to offend anyone.

SCIUTTO: We're turning now to our top story, the Trump hush money trial expected to go late today as the prosecution continues with its closing

argument. Prosecutors said earlier that the hush money payment could be what got Trump elected. That's their argument. That defense finished its

final arguments to the jury earlier today. They focused their fire on Michael Cohen's credibility.

The jury will soon begin deliberations most likely tomorrow after receiving jury instructions. Outcome likely to play into this year's presidential

campaign as polls show an increasingly tight race.

Harry Enten is in New York, joins us now.

OK, so first, Harry, how tight do the polls show the race to be? And is that in the national end in the swing state polling?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, look, we often look at that national polling, right? It is tight. You know, it shows, you

know, Donald Trump maybe with a point advantage on average, which of course is basically nothing when you take into account the margin of error. But

what's most important is the swing states, right? That's how we elect our presidents in this country.

And I want you to look at the three swing states on your screen right now, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Joe Biden probably needs to win all

three of those states if he wants to get reelected. And look at how close the margins are there. Michigan is a tie, Wisconsin in the average poll has

Trump by a point, Pennsylvania, Trump by two points. These are incredibly tight races.

We're still months and months to go until the election. The polls right now are significantly closer than they were four years ago when, of course, in

all three of those states, the margin was three points or less. In Wisconsin it was less than a point, and Pennsylvania was a little bit more

than a percentage point.

So this idea that got floated today by "Politico," that Democrats are all of a sudden, oh, my god, we're so worried about this election. Well, they

should be worried because Donald Trump may be slightly ahead. But the idea that Joe Biden can't come back or can't win this thing is frankly lunacy.

There's no support for that in the numbers. Joe Biden is very much in this contest, whether you look nationally or in the battleground states, because

if he wins those three, he likely wins reelection. And as those polls indicate, those averages, he's close in all three, in fact, tied in


SCIUTTO: All right. So tell us about how our top story today, there's this criminal hush money trial in New York, how that factors in to the polls? I

mean, what does the data show about how much folks are paying attention, but also how much it might influence their decision?


ENTEN: Yes. I don't think, you know, most swing voters are paying very close attention, to be perfectly honest with you. There are plenty of

people who aren't paying close attention, but most of those folks have already made up their mind who they're going to vote for. The swing voters

are really paying closer attention to the economy.

I think the key question, though, is, you know, we talk about the broader public. What's really important here is, are there any Trump voters who are

going to change their minds if Trump is found guilty, and a Quinnipiac University poll that was taken earlier this month found, get this, just 6

percent of Trump voters say they are less likely to back him if he's found guilty.

Now, if that 6 percent actually held, that could be significant. I'm guessing, though, that that's probably even overstating the case. We have

not seen any degradation in Trump's support in the polls even over the last month as this trial has taken place. We have not seen any degradation in

support once he got -- once those four cases he was charged in. So I'm just not seeing that these cases and especially this New York City hush money

case, where well less than a majority of folks believed that the charges are very serious, have had any impact.

But the truth is, they don't necessarily have to have much of an impact given how close this election is, including in the swing states.

SCIUTTO: Right. But that's with Trump's voters. What about independent voters? I mean, does the data show that this moves their decision at all or

do they say it might move their decision?

ENTEN: Only a very small percentage. But of course remember, Jim, what's more important here is that if Donald Trump is holding at, let's say, 40

percent, 47 percent, 48 percent of the vote. Let's say he has a point or two advantage in those key swing states, we're talking about people right

now who say they're going to vote for him. That's Republicans, that's independent, that's even a few Democrats, to be honest with you.

Trump's doing a better job holding on to his Republican base than Biden is holding on his Democratic base. At this particular point, the people who

are giving Donald Trump the lead, that includes a lot of folks who didn't vote for him in the primary, at this point, they do not say that even if

he's convicted that will make a major or really any real difference in their support for him. We'll see of course what happens because right now

it's a hypothetical.


ENTEN: If he does get convicted, then we might be in a more interesting case. But on that particular question, Jim, we're just going to have to

wait and see.

SCIUTTO: For sure. And then you see if there are potentially other trials before the election.

ENTEN: We'll see.

SCIUTTO: Including on January 6th.

Harry Enten, thanks so much.

ENTEN: There's a lot out there, Jim. There's a lot out there. Months and months to go. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

SCIUTTO: Well, Biden campaign is now trying it seems to use the Trump trial to potentially move voters, holding its own event outside the courthouse.

That's a first. Among those there, the actor Robert De Niro speaking in support of President Biden, joined by two former Capitol Hill police

officers. They were there that day that those Trump's supporters assaulted the Capitol. Their common message is that Trump poses a threat to


Richard Hasen is a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, also the author of "Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust and

the Threat to American Democracy."

Richard, it's good to have you. This is an argument at the center of President Biden's reelection campaign that this is not just a difference of

policy here between him and Trump, but the Trump represents a threat to our democratic system. Make that case, make that case for us, and then I want

to get into the politics of it.

RICHARD HASEN, PROFESSOR UCLA: Well, I think we just have to go back to 2020 and what happened in the aftermath of the election, which was that

Donald Trump tried to turn himself from an election loser into an election winner by trying to get state legislatures to come up with fake slates of

electors, by trying to get the vice president to throw out votes, by trying to manipulate the Department of Justice.

All of this was an attempt to try to overturn the results of a legitimate election. There was no evidence of significant fraud or irregularities that

would justify overturning the election. So that's the real serious issue that faces the voters as they think about their choices in November.

SCIUTTO: And we should remind people watching that while that argument has been called by Trump and many of his supporters, a partisan argument that

seven Republican senators voted to convict him in that trial regarding January 6th, and that the Republican majority leader at the time --

actually not majority leader, but regardless, the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, at the time, though he didn't vote to convict, said that, you

know, Trump was responsible for January 6th.

Can you explain why, in your view, it seems that for many Americans, memory of that has faded?

HASEN: Well, let me remind you that Senator McConnell said that he would want the criminal process to take care of things.


HASEN: And what could have happened had Trump been convicted is that the Senate could have chosen to disqualify Trump from future office, and then

we wouldn't be here today.


Then of course we had the long delay of Merrick Garland waiting to appoint a special counsel. Then we had once the special counsel was appointed a

long delay in the Supreme Court now considering the immunity counsel. And so Americans have kind of a short attention span, really the moment after

the 2020 election or at the beginning of 2021 was the time to take action. It didn't happen and now it seems like it's just become yet another

partisan argument when there was a lot more consensus right after the invasion of the Capitol and the attempts to overturn the election that it

was a serious issue here.

SCIUTTO: No question. And you did have members of the Republican Party at the time, I mean, there were members of the Trump administration who

resigned in protest. And you had many member -- I mean, Nikki Haley among them, right, who ran against Trump, making, you know, essentially some of

those same arguments, who have now endorsed him. You've had many in the Republican Party who either privately or publicly criticized him, said that

they wouldn't support him again, who are now supporting him. The party in effect has accommodated him.

HASEN: Right. And those who didn't like Liz Cheney, she lost in her primary.


HASEN: So the Republican Party has been cleansed of those who are willing to criticize Donald Trump, and of course, what we're seeing now is a

coalescing of, you know, across the Republican Party behind Donald Trump and, you know, it is essentially whitewashing what had happened right after

the election last time.

SCIUTTO: It's been a remarkable turn of events in a short period of time.

Richard Hasen, good to have you on.

Another story we're following, Melinda French Gates is donating we learned $1 billion for the cause of advancing women's rights. We're going to speak

about how she is planning to use the $12.5 billion she got when she left the Gates Foundation. Where's that money going to go?



Melinda French Gates is donating $1 billion in support of women's rights. It's a first major philanthropic move since leaving the Gates Foundation

earlier this month. She received $12.5 billion to pursue her own charitable work.


Gates says one of her first priorities is reproductive rights in the United States.

Stacy Palmer is the CEO of Chronicle of Philanthropy and joins us now.

Stacy, great to chat to you. I think anyone who's ever read about her or interviewed her as I was lucky enough to do last year knows that women and

girls are her passion project first and foremost, but now she has the financial weight to be able to put money, true, and a great deal amount of

money behind some of these causes.

What do you make of what you've seen? Because certainly in the United States, this is a neglected segment.

STACY PALMER, CEO, CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY: Yes, it's really fascinating to watch how fast she put the money and she just announced a few weeks ago

that she was leaving the Gates Foundation and had $12.5 billion, and now all of a sudden we've got a billion out the door. That doesn't happen in

philanthropy very much. And she's committed it in a lot of fascinating ways to advocacy organizations focusing very much on reproductive rights in the

United States, and really disappointed that this nation has been stepping back in so many ways from helping women.

But she's still maintaining her interest in women all around the world. So it's just a mix of a lot of dollars. And in the world of philanthropy, very

little is given to help women. And she makes a point of saying that far too little has been given in the past and she wants to make a difference and

I'm sure she will encourage other people to give more to women as well. So this is going to be a milestone moment for women and philanthropy.

CHATTERLEY: It's less than 2 percent of charitable giving in the United States that goes to causes for women and girls. And she also wrote an op-ed

in "The New York Times" and in the third paragraph, she says it so clearly, because obviously she's been doing this now for 20 years. She said she's

learned that there will always be people who say it's not the right time to talk about gender equality. Not if you want to be relevant, not if you want

to be effective with world leaders, brackets, most of them men.

Stacy, I just wanted to get your view on why you think perhaps she wasn't able to do what she's now doing independently within the Bill and Melinda

Gates Foundation. Obviously, they have constraints, but there is -- it feels at least some kind of message in what she's saying.

PALMER: Yes, I think there is. And she had long been advocating, though, within the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the rights of women. And

so a lot of the work that they had been doing already resulted from her efforts. But now that she's making the decisions entirely on her own, you

know, I think she's able to talk to a lot of experts and ask them for advice. And that's the other thing that's notable about her giving is it's

based on ideas from people who have true expertise.

She gave money to a bunch of leaders and said I'm giving you 20 million for you to decide where it should go. That doesn't happen in philanthropy very

often where a philanthropist gives up the right to decide where all the money goes. And then she's going to give $240 million for a competition

where people can submit their best ideas. So, you know, it's a lot of innovation in the way she gives, not just to the causes that she's


CHATTERLEY: Yes. Jacinda Ardern, the former New Zealand prime minister, one of those recipients of the $20 million, which was fascinating to see.

Can I ask specifically about the United States? Because, again, it comes back to this sort of degree of, well, you have to pick and choose your

causes. There's also a snobbery, I think, at certain times about the type of philanthropy that you choose. But here in the United States, we do see

the rights of women now under material threat across the nation. So the timing of the choice on this I think for her is also pivotal.

She's obviously been doing this around the world, but now, you know, the United States is facing this more than ever, and the threat to women.

PALMER: Yes, and she is making quite the statement by placing so much emphasis on the United States since more of her giving had been globally to

help women. And she's really saying that we are at a political moment in this country where something needs to change. And she's been doing a lot of

giving in the political realm so today we're talking about her charity. But she's also giving door actually to electoral politics because as she puts

it, she doesn't want to see her granddaughter who's just 1-year-old have fewer rights than she has.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. We often talk about charitable giving in the third world and when you look at the situation in the United States at times, one could

argue perhaps, yes, we need to look at our own policies.

Great to have you on the show. Thank you so much for your insights. We'll see what more she does.

All right, let's move on. OpenAI is looking internally to address safety concerns. We'll tell you about the new committee that will be led by none

other than CEO Sam Altman, next.




OpenAI is starting a new safety committee after a series of major leadership shake-ups at the company. It will be led by CEO Sam Altman and

the chairman of the board, Bret Taylor.

You might remember there was an attempted ouster of Sam Altman last November over safety concerns. Flash forward to this month on May 14th,

Ilya Sutskever, who was in charge of safeguarding AI development, announced he was leaving. Three days later, another executive in charge of safety

followed suit.

Clare Duffy is in New York for this.

The skeptic in me, Clare, is going, hang on a second, so we've got a clearly non-independent board now, as the new board in charge of safety at

the company.

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Yes, Julia. And it is really interesting timing because it does feel like sort of a reaction to this string of

resignations that we've seen in the past couple of weeks. And some of those employees specifically calling out the company and calling out Altman for

prioritizing the commercialization of AI products over safety and security concerns and so OpenAI does seem to be trying to sort of get back at some

of those criticisms.

This new committee will make recommendations to the board about safety and security. It will be led, as you said, by CEO Sam Altman, members of the

board. It will also include some employees at the company who are focused on safety and policy issues, including its head of security and its new

chief scientist. But you do have to wonder just how effective it will be to have a safety committee that's entirely made up of internal people and led

by the CEO, whose job it is also to develop and scale this technology.

There is a really long history of ineffective self-regulation within tech. And this also comes just two days after two former OpenAI board members who

are ousted as part of that leadership shakeup in November wrote an op-ed saying that they don't believe that AI companies should be able to self-

regulate. So serious questions that this safety committee I think is going to have to answer in the coming months.

The next thing we'll be watching out for is this new report that they will be releasing in the next 90 days. They're going to be reviewing the

company's existing safety and security practices. And so we'll have to keep an eye out for that and see what they find, and just sort of how

transparent this committee is going to be, Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes, I mean, social media is a great example of just how well social media companies can do regulating themselves, not. In a classic case

of perhaps don't look here, look over here, Sam Altman did agree to sign up to the giving pledge, however. And that was also announced today.

DUFFY: Exactly. Yes.



DUFFY: Yes. Yes, he and his husband will be pledging -- have pledged, I should say, to give away more than half of their wealth as part of this

giving pledge, and it's interesting because Altman doesn't actually have an equity stake in OpenAI. Most of his money comes from other investments, his

venture capital fund. And so it's interesting that, you know, he's in this position where he's making such crucial decisions about all of our futures.

AI is going to impact almost everything about our lives and yet he's not actually in a position to profit from OpenAI. Potentially that's a good

thing, you know, but it is interesting that he's at this really critical juncture. But nice that he will be giving away most of his wealth to

support charities -- Julia.

CHATTERLEY: Yes. And we shouldn't detract from that. It is an important signal. But still.

Clare Duffy, thank you for that.

All right, a final look at the closing arguments in the hush money trial of the former president, when we come back. Stay with us.


CHATTERLEY: And a final recap of our top story today, the prosecution is wrapping up its closing argument. It's attempting to show that key details

of the case have been corroborated by witnesses other than Michael Cohen. The defense also spoke earlier. Trump's lawyers told the jury that Cohen

was the greatest liar of all time as they tried to sow reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors.

The seven men and five women will receive their instructions tomorrow and then begin deliberations and that will continue until a unanimous verdict

is reached.

And a quick review, too, of developments in Gaza. Israeli tanks have been seen in a Rafah after two displacement camps was struck there overnight,

killing at least 29 Palestinians. And the global outcry continues to build following Sunday's deadly strike on another camp in the area. The U.S.-

built pier, meanwhile, to bring humanitarian aid into Gaza is out of commission after breaking apart in rough seas.

And Spain, Norway and Ireland all officially recognized Palestinian statehood Tuesday in a show of support for Palestinians.

And that's it for our breaking news coverage this hour. I'm Julia Chatterley in New York. And "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.