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Pence Won't Appeal Judge's Order To Testify In January 6 Probe; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) And Taiwan's Leader Meet Despite China's Threats; Liberals Win Key Races For Wisconsin Supreme Court, Chicago Mayor; Blinken: Russia Should Release Detained U.S. Journalist "Immediately"; Israel Police Storm Jerusalem Mosque For Second Straight Night. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 18:00   ET




ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, former Vice President Mike Pence says he will not appeal a judge's ruling to testify in the special counsel's January 6th investigation. Pence is now poised to recount for the first time under oath his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the January insurrection.

Also tonight, Kevin McCarthy leads a defiant show of force in the face of stern warnings from China, the speaker and a bipartisan delegation of U.S. lawmakers holding a historic meeting with Taiwan's president on American soil. I'll speaking with top Democrat who was in the room for the talks.

And later this hour, we will go live to Jerusalem amid rising tensions in the Middle East. There are new fears that violence could boil over after Israeli forces raid one of the holiest sites in Islam for the second straight night.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get straight to our top story tonight. Special Counsel Jack Smith notches a major victory, securing a firm commitment from former Vice President Mike Pence to testify in his probe of the January 6th insurrection.

CNN's Sara Murray has been working her sources for us. Sara, of course, all eyes have been on Manhattan this week for that investigation, but this now sets up a major moment in one of the federal investigations. So, how significant is Pence's testimony?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, it could be hugely significant. Obviously, we know that in the run up to January, 6th, Donald Trump put enormous pressure on his then-vice president, Mike Pence, to block the certification of the election results. And what a court said is that Mike Pence would have to answer questions about those conversations with Trump, but he could narrowly refuse to answer some questions about his time acting as president of the Senate.

So, today, Pence said, essentially, we are happy enough with this ruling, we are not going to appeal it and we are going to go forward. So, again, it would be a historic first for mike pence to show up in front of a grand jury and provide testimony in a criminal probe about his conversations with the person who was then the president.

We still don't know what the potential date of that would be, but, obviously, we'll be watching closely, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And, Sara, can Trump still challenge this and try to prevent Pence from testifying?

MURRAY: He can. You know, Trump previously argued that executive privilege should prevent Mike Pence from going before a grand jury and discussing any of the conversations he had with the former president. But you know what, this has been a losing argument so far.

He could still try to appeal it, but he's already lost that argument once when it comes to Mike Pence, and he's lost it with a handful of other aides, and we were talking about former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, we're talking about former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. So, there are plenty of lawyers I think on Pence's side and even on Trump's side who don't necessarily believe this would be a winning argument for them, even if they did decide to move forward with it.

MARQUARDT: All right. Sara Murray, thanks, as always, for your terrific reporting.

Now, let's get more from our legal and political experts. Abby Phillip, I want to start with you. What does it say that the former vice president is now deciding to not fight this judge's order to testify in the context of this potential 2024 run for president?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't want to read too much into what Pence is or isn't doing here, but I do think that in the early stages of this, when he pushed back pretty firmly on this ask for him to testify, it was in the context of 2024, where he felt like he had to push back in order to demonstrate to a certain part of the Republican base that he's not cooperating with what they consider to be a Biden administration investigation.

But on the other hand, Pence must be fully aware that he is, whether he testifies or not, kind of persona non grata right now for a huge chunk of the Trump base that that really still has a lot of antipathy toward him. So, really, at the end of the day, you know, if he didn't testify, it doesn't help him in any way, but he can say I've carved out a little space for myself, I'm only going to tell them what I'm required by law to tell them and nothing more than that.

MARQUARDT: Pence did say that he would uphold the Constitution, which some saw as a sign that he would testify.

I do want to play a little bit of what Pence told Wolf Blitzer as he considered this order from the judge. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I'm very pleased that a federal judge, for the very first time, recognized that the Constitution speech and debate protections apply to the vice president of the United States when you're serving as president of the Senate.


That was the core of my concern about the subpoena being brought.


MARQUARDT: So, the speech and debate protections, Elliot, that means that Pence will not have to testify when he was the president of the Senate on January 6th, including when he received that famous infamous, really, phone call from the former president, calling him the P word. But, Elliot, what will the special counsel, Jack Smith, want to now get from the former vice president?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Alex, the thing is the devil is going to be in the details about when the vice president actually was the president of the Senate.

Now, look, when he's sitting -- and so just to back up a second, what the speech or debate protection is, is it treats the vice president as a member, in effect, of the United States, Congress and subject to all the protections of a member of the United States Congress while he's presiding over the Congress, right? So, when he's sitting in the chair, anything he says, or does is going to be protected under the law.

Now, when he's prepared pairing to do that work, you start getting into a grayer area. So, which actions of the vice president can Jack Smith touch versus what he can? And I would guess this may end up back in court at some point when you try to divine sort of the gray area between Mike Pence, the man and the candidate for office and the vice president, and Mike Pence, the president of the United States Senate.

But, look, Jack Smith can certainly talk about questions where he felt that my Mike Pence might have felt coerced by Donald Trump. He can speak about conversations going back to December of 2020 that led to the planning heading into January 6th. There is plenty that that Jack Smith can certainly ask about. But there is going to be some gray area that might have to be litigated.

MARQUARDT: Yes, quite a lot he can get to. And we have been so focused for the past few weeks on this investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. But, Shan, behind the scenes we have learned that top Trump national security advisers, they have testified before Special Counsel Jack Smith in this federal January 6th investigations. So, do you believe that this is the investigation that Trump really needs to be more worried about?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think he needs to be more worried about all of them, honestly. I mean, they all have momentum. They're all kind of rolling downhill towards him.

I think the testimony we're hearing about here, the inner circle, you know, that should be very worrisome to them. That's his inner circle. His executive privilege claims keep getting knocked down. It's really important to get to talk to those people. But what they say is, I think it was referring to devil's always in the details, just because they tell Trump you couldn't do something doesn't mean that he actually did it or it doesn't, by itself, show as intent, so they really need to get those answers from them. So, that's an important step. But we don't really know what the legal significance will be yet of the answers.

MARQUARDT: And the former president touched on a number of these different investigations when he got back to Mar-a-Lago last night. He gave this speech, Abby. Did it sound to you like he was more concerned with these federal investigations versus the one that he had just dealt with in Manhattan?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, he's definitely worried. And he's particularly worried about the one that actually touches on his literal home. The search of his home in Mar-a-Lago, really, I think rattled him. But as he said last night, he was really focused on the testimony that has been received from a lot of people close to him, a lot of his close aides who were brought in to testify. And he claimed that they were threatened in exchange for testimony against him, which, you know, is not true.

But I think what that reveals is that Trump is nervous. He thinks that the special counsel here may know quite a lot and is worried about what that means. Ironically, he also admitted part of this whole thing, which is to say that he openly and in the full light of day took the boxes of documents. That's a big part of Jack Smith's case. And by rambling, as he did last night about it, I think he created a lot of headaches for himself, especially as far as his attorneys are concerned at this point.

MARQUARDT: Elliot, we only have a couple of seconds left, but how did you read that speech?

WILLIAMS: I mean, I would back up at his point. You know, it's a bit of the confession. The problem is that what matters is not what Donald Trump says today but what was in his head at the time he brought those boxes. And did he know what he was doing? Did he intend to conceal them? Did he intend to obstruct justice? And that's the case that Jack Smith is building.

MARQUARDT: All right. Elliot Williams, Shan Wu, Abby Phillip, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much for your insights.

Now, just ahead, Speaker Kevin McCarthy defying China, leading a bipartisan U.S. delegation during a meeting with Taiwan's president. We're tracking the angry reaction from Beijing. That's next.


[18:10:00] MARQUARDT: Tonight, a historic meeting between a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, and that is drawing an angry rebuke from China.

CNN's Selina Wang is tracking all of the latest reaction from Beijing and our Capitol Hill Reporter Melanie Zanna is working her sources here in Washington.

Melanie, I want to go to you first on Capitol Hill now. This was the second time in just a year that the most senior member of Congress met with the leader of Taiwan. Speaker Pelosi went last summer to Taiwan. So, what message are U.S. lawmakers trying to send here?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Alex, I think the message is twofold. First, the United States supports the people of Taiwan supports democracy, and, number two, the United States is not going to be bowed by threats from China and is willing to stand up to China. McCarthy forged ahead with this meeting despite the threats of retaliation from China. He did so in defiance of China, and that was really important for him to do.

He has made cowering China a top priority of his speakership. He's also not ruled out visiting the island himself, something his predecessor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to do. Take a listen to what he said earlier today about that.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don't have any current plans but that doesn't mean I will not go. And if there comes a time that I go, I would not go as one party only, and I would not go for a simple purpose for myself.



ZANONA: Now, something else that was important to Kevin McCarthy was making sure that this meeting today was a bipartisan affair. We saw members from both sides of the aisle in attendance at this meeting with the Taiwanese president. That includes Pete Aguilar, a member of Democratic leadership, as well as the bipartisan leaders of a select committee in China.

And, really, China has become one of the rare areas of bipartisan cooperation in Congress. And one of the reasons is because lawmakers across the board see China as a threat. But they think it is more powerful if they all speak with one unified voice on the issue. We certainly saw that today.

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was a critic of Kevin McCarthy, she offered up some rare praise. I want to read you her statement. She said, today's meeting between President Tsai of Taiwan and Speaker Kevin McCarthy is to be commended for its leadership, its bipartisan participation and its distinguished and historic venue. That, of course, is a reference to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Ronald Reagan has a legacy of standing up to foreign adversaries. So, today was a symbolic moment and also a very high stakes moment in California.

MARQUARDT: High-stakes, indeed, a major question whether Speaker McCarthy will eventually head out to Taiwan. Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Now to Selina Wang in Beijing for more on the Chinese response. Selina, we have heard Beijing threatening retaliation for President Tsai's visit to the U.S. She stopped in both New York and in California on these transit visits, as they've been called. What more should we expect from Beijing?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far, Alex, we've heard this angry rhetoric that is expected Beijing threatening to fight back against the visit and repeatedly accusing the meeting of undermining China's sovereignty and regional peace.

Now, the context here is that China gets angry whenever Taiwanese leaders hold these hope high-profile international meetings because Beijing sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that is part of its territory. And Kevin McCarthy with Tsai Ing-wen at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, that was a strong show of democratic solidarity. Take a listen to what Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen had to say.


TSAI ING-WEN, TAIWANESE PRESIDENT: We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat and the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom shining cannot be understated.

Their presence and unwavering support reassures the people of Taiwan that we are not isolated and we are not alone.


WANG: And, Alex, to your point, Washington has been downplaying the meeting as just a stopover on Tsai's ways back to Taiwan, and U.S. officials have repeatedly warned Beijing not to use the meeting as an excuse to overreact. So, last summer, when then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China responded with unprecedented military drills that simulated a blockade around the island. This time, the reaction has been more muted, partly because the visit is held on American soil, not in Taiwan. And so far, beijing has held the routine military drills around Taiwan and launched a three-day patrol operation through the Taiwan Strait. But this is far less than what we saw last summer.

Now, Beijing, however, has been steadily upping its intimidation of the island. Every day, Taiwan already deals with Chinese fighter jets around its skies and military ships sailing off its coast. But there are other reasons for Chinese Leader Xi Jinping to hold back a bit this time. He's been positioning himself as a global statesman and peacemaker, war games over Taiwan would overshadow that image. MARQUARDT: Yes, the U.S. watching very carefully for any other response from China around this visit. Selina Wang in Beijing, thank you very much.

And joining me now to discuss is the top Democrat on the China select committee, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. He was in the room for today's historic meetings with President Tsai. Congressmen, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

This was a strong display of bipartisanship, very strong symbolism in front of President Reagan's Air Force One there. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, he's saying that Democrats and Republicans today were speaking with one voice on Taiwan. Why is that so important despite the risk of escalation with China?

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I think it's very important because the Chinese Communist Party, known as the CCP, is counting on Americans being divided, fractious partisan with regard to protecting our interests and asserting our values. And so, today, speaking with one voice is very important, namely that we are going to stand with our partners and friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Taiwanese people. And I think that sent a strong message not only to the CCP but to other countries as well.

MARQUARDT: And, Congressman, do you think that Speaker McCarthy should follow and Speaker Pelosi's footsteps and actually visit Taipei?


KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm not going to give him a recommendation on that. But what I can say is that I just don't think that any speaker or any member of Congress, for that matter, should be intimidated by the CCP with regard to what they can say, what they can do, where they can travel. Obviously, we recognize the One China policy. We want the status quo. We want peace. We don't want a situation where, as the CCP is doing, trying to resolve differences through coercion or aggression. We can't have that.

MARQUARDT: We heard Selina Wang in Beijing just talking about that effective blockade around Taiwan by China after the visit by Speaker Pelosi last summer. Why do you think that today's response by the Chinese military has been relatively muted in comparison?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I don't know. But I think that it's a good thing when the CCP tries to tamp down tensions and when it tries to, you know, basically avoid an escalation that could spiral out of control. At the end of the day, I believe that any differences that we, the CCP, Taiwan or anyone else has in that region need to be settled at the bargaining table and not through any kind of military hostilities. We don't want to cold war, a hot war, a war of any kind. That would be completely unacceptable.

MARQUARDT: But in terms of potential military hostilities, you have said -- you said today that the U.S. will always support the Taiwanese in defending their freedom. You said that after the meetings. Does that mean that the U.S. now needs to make clear that American forces will defend Taiwan military in the event of a Chinese invasion? That is something President Biden, as you know, has said several times and then the White House has walked it back, that promise of U.S. involvement.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Well, you know, under the Taiwan Relations Act, we have to have the capacity to resist force to change the status quo, to resist coercion or military aggression. And so that's why we are always going to be prepared. But more than that, under the Taiwan Relations Act, we are legally obligated to help supply the articles of defense necessary for Taiwan to defend itself. And so that is of paramount interest to us.

And besides that, at this point, they are very big trading and investment partners because of the Chips and Science Act that President Biden led. Now, as we discussed today, with President Tsai, they are investing billions of dollars in manufacturing facilities in the United States for semiconductor fabrication. That's a huge event. And so we are very excited about that as well.

MARQUARDT: Yes, clearly a very important relationship. Congressman, before I let you go, I just want to ask you about former President Donald Trump. Of course, he was charged with 34 felony counts. How concerned are you to hear him going after not just the district attorney in Manhattan but the judge also in this case?

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm very concerned. I mean, look, I lived through January 6th, my colleagues did as well. We know that Donald Trump's words have kind of a power that other figures, words don't necessarily match. And when he says something, unfortunately, people listen and people then act. And so the worst case scenario would be any kind of violence that erupts because of what he says. And so I am concerned about what he says and I think that we have to all use measured speech when talking about these proceedings --

MARQUARDT: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi --

KRISHNAMOORTHI: -- while the process takes its place.

MARQUARDT: Sorry to interrupt you, sir. I apologize, but we have to leave it there. Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, thank you very much for your time.


MARQUARDT: Now, coming up, new developments in Dominion's $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News. Tonight, the judge is clearing the way for testimony from the Murdoch family. We will share all the latest details right after the break.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, new insights into Dominion's upcoming defamation trial against Fox News for the network's spreading of election lies. The judge has cleared the way for Dominion to force Rupert Murdoch and his son, Lachlan, to take the stand.

CNN Media Analyst Sara Fischer joins us now. Sara, how significant is this move by the judge?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: It's a huge blow to Fox. You know, they've been trying to push the judge for weeks, saying that Murdoch shouldn't have to testify. He already did a closed door testimony. That became public last month. And, basically, this indicates that if Dominion were to subpoena either Rupert Murdoch or his son, Lachlan, or both, the judge is not going to stop them from doing so, and it would be forcing those two executives to come forward and potentially have to testify not just in front of the court, but if the judge were to allow video and audio in front of all of America.

MARQUARDT: And they're not the only ones. We know that some of Fox's biggest stars could take the stand. That includes Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity. And today, Dominion also said that they want to force six other Fox executives to testify. So, what more can you tell us about the key potential witnesses in this upcoming trial?

FISCHER: Yes. Well, the biggest one would be Suzanne Scott, who is the CEO of Fox, and then there are a bunch of other Fox personalities.


Even Fox has said that they might call to witness some of their key posts and talents. So, that would include people like maybe Brett Baer or Dana Perino, Lou Dobbs, et cetera. There's also a woman named Abby Grossberg, who was a producer that was fired from Fox and then sued the network, claiming that they coerced her in her closed door testimony. It wouldn't shock me if Dominion also wanted to subpoena her.

MARQUARDT: Truly a potentially blockbuster trial. Sara Fischer, thank you very much.

Now, here in Washington, newly released body camera footage is shedding light on the deadly shooting a teenager last month by a U.S. Park Police officer, the killing now being investigated by the Justice Department.

CNN's Brian Todd has our report, which does contain video that some of our viewers may find disturbing.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Shortly before 9:00 A.M., March 18th, police body cam video shows officers responding to what police say was believed to have been a stolen car near a federal park in Washington, D.C. Inside the vehicle, 17-year-old Dalaneo Martin asleep in the driver's seat. The car is running.

In the video just released by the U.S. Park Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police, officers from both agencies are heard strategizing on how to approach the vehicle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the plan. He's knocked out. The back window is just a plastic. I'm going to try to cut that out quietly. I'll unlock the door. If he doesn't get started, doesn't wake up, then we're going to try to get in there, grab him before he puts the car in gear shoulder area.

TODD: One officer heard telling the others if the suspect tries to drive away, let him go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he takes off, he takes off, but just don't get caught inside of that car, you know what I mean?

TODD: At one point, an officer enters through a backdoor. Another officer opens the door on the driver's side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freeze. Don't move.




TODD: The car suddenly drives off. One officer falls off the car, while another is still in the backseat. Police say the driver did not comply with their commands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop, man, just let me out. Let me out. Stop. Stop or I'll shoot.

TODD: The body cam video then shows several shots being fired at Martin. The car crashes into a nearby house. The video shows officers pulling Martin out and trying to save him. Police say Martin died at the scene. They say a gun was found inside the car.

A lawyer for Martin's family says one officer in one body cam video seemed to indicate that when they initially approached the car, he hadn't seen a gun.

ANDREW O. CLARKE, ATTORNEY FOR DALANEO MARTIN'S FAMILY: It was very clear to him that there was no gun. He said, oh, he has his hand on his waist, but I don't see anything there. So, there was never any threat for the use of guns.

TODD: The FBI and federal prosecutors have launched a civil rights investigation into the shooting. None of the officers involved have yet been identified by either police agency. Martin's mother says she wants their names made public and wants them to face justice.

TERRA MARTIN, DALANEO MARTIN'S MOTHER: My son should still be here. But instead, officers, I want all the offices punished for all their roles. This pain hurts so bad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD (on camera): And showing you the scene here where the shooting took place in Northeast Washington, the officers converged on the car right about where that black pickup truck is. Then when the car started moving, it moved in the opposite direction, down at least a couple of blocks and then veered to the left where it crashed in a house that's out of sight here.

Also, we can tell you this evening that the U.S. Park Police will not confirm the current status of their officer who shot Dalaneo Martin. The U.S. Park Police Union, the head of that union, though, has defended that officer, telling The Washington Post that the use of force was justified and that the union stands behind the actions that the officers took. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Brian Todd here in Washington D.C. tonight with that report, Brian, thank you.

Now, just ahead, liberals celebrating big wins in key elections in Wisconsin and Chicago. Why those races could be important bellwethers for the 2024 election, that's next.



MARQUARDT: We are following some major political developments. Right now, progressive scoring big victories in two key elections.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is joining us now with details. Omar, let's first talk about this win for the liberal candidate in Wisconsin and that Supreme Court race. What does it mean for the state of Wisconsin and potentially the broader implications for the country?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alex. Well, this win for the liberal judge, Janet Protasiewicz, which is significant, because it essentially could determine how challenges to the state's abortion ban are decided. That state abortion ban went into effect after the fall of Roe v. Wade. And, essentially, how this happened, conservatives had had the majority on this bench for going back a decade. A judge retired. This opportunity was born in Protasiewicz, which seized it by a pretty wide margin, which is surprising. You don't usually see that in races in Wisconsin.

But then it's not just abortion. If you remember back in 2020, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court upheld Joe Biden's win in that state after a last-minute challenge from President Trump over ballots in Democratic-leaning counties, Alex. So, it could be significant this next presidential cycle as well.

MARQUARDT: And then, Omar, there's this fascinating mayoral race in Chicago. What message did the voters send there?

JIMENEZ: Well, it was essentially a barometer test for where big city Democratic voters are. You had on one side a progressive in Brandon Johnson, supported by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, supported by the teachers union as well, Paul Vallas on the other side supported by more moderate Democrats and the police union. And this was really a race for public safety was front and center.

And so, clearly, Johnson was able to create a coalition that was outside of just the police to propel him into this seat here.


Take a listen to some of how he is viewing the public safety fight as he begins his tenure.


MAYOR-ELECT BRANDON JOHNSON (D-CHICAGO, IL): I am arguably the first mayor to wake up in the city of Chicago who lives in one of the most violent neighborhoods in the entire city. And so what I want for my family, which is a better, stronger, safer community, I want that for every single family across the city of Chicago. And what Chicago had said overwhelmingly is that we have to get at the root causes of crime.


JIMENEZ: And Johnson lives in the neighborhood on the west side of Chicago.

One clue to how he may have gotten to this point was that they beat out Mayor Lori Lightfoot to get to this point. Lightfoot had taken a good portion of the black vote on the south and west sides of the city. Well, this time around, even with votes still coming in, Johnson swept every single warder area that Lightfoot took, and so that likely propelled him into this position.

Now, though, comes the hard part. You actually have to govern, and top of that list is public safety. He doesn't have the police union on his side, and that will likely be one of the more difficult relationships and manage at least to start his tenure as mayor.

MARQUARDT: Yes, a lot of challenges ahead there for the new mayor. Omar Jimenez, thank you very much for that report.

Now, let's get reaction from our political experts. Jeff Zeleny, I want to go to you first. You were just in Wisconsin covering this Supreme Court race. What does this liberal victory mean for 2024?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, practically, it means for 2024 the rules of the actual election. How you vote could be different. And this is what I mean by that. Simple things like where you drop off your early ballots, like drop off boxes, have been outlawed in Wisconsin. They have changed the laws of how you vote there. So, this Supreme Court is likely to hear cases about the mechanics of voting.

But more interestingly, when you look at the results of last night, it was, -- you know, this was driven by abortion rights, no doubt. We saw it last year in the midterm elections. This was driving this as well. But if you look in the suburban counties around Milwaukee, the wow counties, we call them the three counties around Milwaukee that used to be Republican strongholds, not any longer. They still win there but the 30-point victory by Mitt Romney just a decade ago, now it's only about a three-point victory from Republicans. So, Republicans are bleeding in the suburbs. That is a big takeaway.

In Dane County, Madison, huge growth. Youth vote was huge yesterday. So, that is significant. But without abortion on the ballot in 2024, who knows what this will mean. So, it explains some of what we'll see but it certainly is not to be all and end all of what Wisconsin will do in 2024

PHILLIP: Although, I would say it's very likely that abortion will be on the ballot in 2024, because you've got a Republican Party that is moving further to the right on that issue. A lot of these candidates are being pressed to support national abortion bans, to support abortion bans that are being put forward in various states.

So, I think in this issue, Democrats are learning the same lesson that they learned back in 2020, which is that if they can mobilize their base around issues like this and others that they care about, it can be a powerful countervailing force, especially an environment in which, you know, we in the media spend a lot of time talking about white working class voters that Trump won.

Well, Democrats have a lot of voters too, younger voters, people of color, who are, in some ways, pretty angry about some of the things that are happening, and the question is can party actually mobilize them.

MARQUARDT: And to that point, Ron Brownstein, we did hear the former vice president, Mike Pence, he recently told our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, that he does support a nationwide abortion ban. So, how do Republican candidates navigate this?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I mean, I think it's going to be enormous pressures, as Abby said, on Republican candidates to not only support, some to say they will sign some form of national abortion ban but also to take steps against medication abortion, which Donald Trump did not do while he was in office.

I think this is enormously significant for 2024 because it continues the trajectory that we have seen not only in Wisconsin but also in Michigan and Pennsylvania. You know, those are the three states, part of the blue wall that Donald Trump dislodged in 2016, won all three of them, maximizing his support among those non-college and non-urban voters.

Since then, they have all moved back toward the Democrats, with Democrats winning the governorship both in '18 and '22, Biden carrying all three of them in '20, and then this remarkable win yesterday, you know, Biden won the state by 20,000 votes. Trump won the state in 2016 by 20,000 votes in Wisconsin, per se what's one by 200,000 votes largely because of that suburban erosion that Jeff mentioned as well as improvement even in white working class areas.

And I think, Alex, when you add all of this up, it says it is going to be very difficult for a Republican -- not impossible, but very difficult for Republican who is advocating any kind of restrictions on abortion that would affect those states.


I think to carry Michigan, Pennsylvania or even Wisconsin in 2024, Wisconsin, is the best bet for Republicans out of those three, and yesterday was a very clear indication that when Republicans put up their best wedge issue crime against the Democrats, best wedge issue abortion, it really was no contest.

MARQUARDT: And, Abby, when you look at the results in Chicago, what lessons can we take from that for 2024 candidates?

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, we're seeing such an interesting pattern in America's big cities. And, you know, in Atlanta in Los Angeles, in Chicago, where crime is a real issue, and I think voters are approaching this actually, in a much more nuanced way than perhaps the politicians might expect, where some of the progressives like Karen Bass winning in Los Angeles and now, Brandon Johnson in Chicago.

I think it signals that there's room for Democrats to create a nuanced position in response to crime attacks, but they have to really work at it. You see how expensive a lot of these races have been. It's a very, very tough road because Republicans are putting a lot of money behind it.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Without question, the defund police message, which was once a message for Brandon Johnson is no longer. He was moving away from that, but we should also want every city is not the same. So there's nuance and all of this, but the reason he won in Chicago was a coalition of Black and Brown voters as well, not just the white liberals.

So there are some lessons in all of these no doubt, but each election, as we know is a different one. We have to learn lessons going forward, not necessarily backwards.

MARQUARDT: These results certainly going to be a dissected for a long time to come.

Jeff Zeleny, Abby, Ron Brownstein, thank you very much.

Now coming up, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that he has no doubt that the American journalists detained in Russia is being wrongfully held. We'll have the latest on his push to bring the reporter home right after this.



MARQUARDT: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is calling on Russia to release American journalist Evan Gershkovich from detention. He isn't being held in Moscow. The secretary of state saying, release him immediately. CNN's Kylie Atwood has been traveling with the secretary of state in


Kylie, the administration has not officially declared this a wrongful detention, but the secretary is making his position clear.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right, Alex. We know, according to U.S. officials, that the administration is preparing to declare Evan Gershkovich, that "Wall Street Journal" reporter wrongfully detained and what that means that the U.S. government doesn't believe that there were any legitimate grounds for his arrest. Essentially, that he's been you being used as a political pawn by Russia, and what the secretary of state said today is that it's his personal beliefs that Gershkovich is being wrongfully detained and there's a process underway to make that official.

Listen to what he told reporters.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: In my own mind, there's no doubt that he's being wrongfully detained by Russia, which is exactly what I said to Foreign Minister Lavrov when I spoke to him over the weekend, and insisted that Evan be released immediately. But I want to make sure that as always, because there is a formal process that we go through it, and we will and I expect that to be to be completed soon.


ATWOOD: Now we also know that Linda Thomas Greenfield, the ambassador to the United Nations, met this week with her counterpart who is the Russian ambassador to the United Nations. She also called for the immediate release of Gershkovich. And, of course, there's another American, Alex, who is wrongfully detained in Russia.

That's Paul Whelan. He's been detained there for more than four years now, American officials also calling for his release. But when we consider what it'll take to get these two Americans home, of course, we think about prisoner swaps because that's what it took to get home. Brittney Griner, who was recently released, Trevor Reid who was released last year.

But the concern is who does Russia want as part of a prisoner swap?

And then the other thing to consider is, would this incentivize other adversaries, Russia maybe other adversaries to take Americans? The secretary of state was asked about that today who said, there's a balance that needs to be considered. They consider how to get home Americans and what it will take to do that -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: Very worrying prospect. Kylie Atwood in Brussels. Thank you very much for that report.

And this note to our viewers, coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", right after THE SITUATION ROOM, as tensions rise with China, CNN is exclusively aboard a U.S. nuclear submarine. That's coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now, just ahead, major tensions in the Middle East tonight after another Israeli raid on one of the holiest sites in Islam. Our live report from Jerusalem, that's coming up right after this break.



MARQUARDT: In the Middle East tonight, tensions are threatening to boil over after Israeli forces carry out a raid on one of the holiest sites in Islam for a second straight night.

CNN's Hadas Gold is joining us live now from Jerusalem.

Hadas, the U.S. is calling on Israelis and Palestinians to deescalate. And, of course, this comes as Israelis celebrate Passover at the same time as Muslims are celebrating Ramadan, highly combustible timing.

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Alex, there had been warnings that this was going to potentially explode into a bigger situation as a result of these overlapping holidays, and that's what we've been seeing over the last 24 hours.

Israeli police now twice raiding the Al Aqsa Mosque in the old city of Jerusalem. This is the third holiest site in Islam. Of course, it is also known as the Temple Mount to Jews as the holiest site to Jews.

Just in the last two hours or so, I think that's what we're seeing right now, Israeli police once again entering the compound and during the mosque itself, they say they respond to what they call dozens of juveniles who were barricading themselves inside with fireworks and stones.

This is essentially a repeat of what we saw in the early hours of Wednesday morning , but it was much more violent and it was a bigger event in the early hours of Wednesday morning. In that instance, we see Israeli police entering the mosque with forced their riot shields are up. Fireworks are being fired at them ricocheting off the walls.

They're responding with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Later, they say that they arrested more than 350 people in as a result of just that incident in some very disturbing videos. We also see what appears to be Israeli police beating some of the people that were arrested. We know of at least two dozen Palestinians over the course of the last 24 hours that have been injured. That's according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Israeli police saying two of their officers were injured as a result. And just to show you how what happens in Jerusalem, what happens especially Al Aqsa has reverberated reverberations not only across this region, but across the world. Rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, at least 12 have been fired so far in the last 24 hours.

The Israeli military responding with airstrikes, condemnations from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia against what's been happening at Al Aqsa. And as you noted, the American office of Palestinian affairs, saying violence has no place in a holy site during the holy season, saying they're alarmed by the shocking scenes both at Al Aqsa and the rockets coming out of Gaza, calling for restraint and de-escalation.

Keep in mind, Alex, that it was a very similar sort of situation, the clashes at Al Aqsa that helped lead to that 11 day war between Israel and Hamas in 2021. A lot of fears that this could once against spiral into something similar -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Hadas Gold in Jerusalem, thank you very much for that report.

I'm Alex Marquardt here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very for watching. And to all those celebrating, happy Passover.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.