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Jury Says Trump Should Pay $83.3 Million In Damages To E. Jean Carroll; Jury Awards E. Jean Carroll $83.3 Million In Damages From Trump For Defamatory Statements He Made About Her; Trump's Lawyer Rails Against Verdict Outside The Courthouse; Civilians Waving White Flags Of Surrender Shot Dead In Gaza; Jury Says Trump Should Pay $83.3 Million In Damages To E. Jean Carroll. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 26, 2024 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, a huge legal and financial blow to Donald Trump. A jury says he should pay more than $83 million in damages to Writer E. Jean Carroll for defamatory statements he made about her. We're breaking down the verdict and the message it sends to the former president and the clear frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's get right to the major breaking news we're following right now, the bombshell verdict in the defamation trial against Donald Trump, the former president now on the hook for a stunning $83.3 million.
Let's go to CNN's Kara Scannell. She's outside the courthouse in New York where all this unfolded. Kara, walk us through this verdict.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It was just about three hours of deliberations when the jury said they have reached a verdict in this case. It's a significant win for E. Jean Carroll. They're awarding her $83.3 million, and here's how it breaks down.
The question of compensatory damages, of how much emotional harm that E. Jean Carroll faced and what she should be paid for that, they awarded her $7.3 million. They said they were giving her $11 million to repair her reputation and punitive damages, that is the punishment factor to Donald Trump, that was the biggest number. They awarded E. Jean Carroll $65 million for punitive damages.
And this is Carroll's argument during this whole trial that the only way to stop Donald Trump from continuing to repeat the defamatory statements was to hit him in the pocketbook, and that is what the jury did here.
Trump's attorney, in their closing arguments today, were arguing that Trump shouldn't be held accountable for mean tweets that E. Jean Carroll received. The jury clearly not buying that side of the argument and instead finding in Carroll's favor, hitting the former president in the pocketbook and awarding her this significant award of $83.3 million, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kara, tell us about the reaction that's coming into this huge decision.
SCANNELL: Yes. So, in the courtroom when the verdict was read, E. Jean Carroll was sitting between two of her attorneys, holding their hands. After that big number came out, the three of them embraced. And she walked out of there with her attorneys with their faces just beaming, smiles from ear to ear.
Now, Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, came out and spoke to the cameras because Donald Trump had left the courtroom. He left at 4:00 P.M. So, he did not stay for when the verdict was read. Instead his attorney leaving the courthouse saying that they were going to appeal. She also talked about this common refrain that they believe these cases are all a witch hunt. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: So many Americans are so proud that he is running again and so excited to run to the ballot box. But don't get it twisted, we are seeing a violation of our justice system. This is wrong, but we're in the state of New York. We're in a New York jury and that is why we're seeing these witch hunts, these hoaxes, as he calls them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCANNELL: Now, this isn't final until the judge actually issues a judgment. He said today on the bench he would do that over the next few days, but as of now, a significant win for E. Jean Carroll, the jury awarding her 83.3million. That is on top of the award she received last year when a jury in another case awarded her $5 million. Wolf?
BLITZER: Kara Scannell in New York for us, don't go too far away, we'll get back to you very soon. I know you're getting more information.
Right now, I want to go to CNN's Kristen Holmes. She's covering Donald Trump's reaction to this huge verdict. Kristen, what is Trump saying? KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, no surprise he's already making this political. As Kara said, he wasn't in the courtroom when the verdict was read. He was actually sitting in the tarmac in his airplane at La Guardia Airport and he blasted of this on social media.
He said this is absolutely ridiculous. I fully disagree with both verdicts and will appealing this whole Biden-directed witch hunt focused on me and the Republican Party. Our legal system is out of control, and being used as a political weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment rights.
This is not America.
Of course, I need to say there's no indication at all that this is related to Joe Biden. This is a civil defamation case in New York. But notably missing from there, any attacks on E. Jean Carroll. Obviously, he has about 83 million reasons not to attack her. They are going to appeal this.
The other thing to point out here this kind of linking that he is doing of all of his legal cases to Biden and to election interference is working with a lot of his supporters. They don't see the difference in all of this.
Now, he is going to be at a political rally in Nevada tomorrow, so we'll wait to see what he says there, but this is really his initial reaction to this. And I am told by sources that he is very angry about this verdict.
BLITZER: Sure he is. Kristen Holmes, thank you very much.
There's certainly a lot to discuss with our legal and political experts. Kaitlan Collins, let me start with you. I know you've covered Trump for years. What are you hearing from your sources about Trump's mindset and his strategy from here?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Well I think he's in a different situation, Wolf, in the sense that not only because of the $83 million he was just ordered to pay by a jury to E. Jean Carroll but also because, typically, what his responses and his reaction it just initially in something like this is to go on the attack. That is what he's been doing to E. Jean Carroll. That is what brought them to the courtroom that they were in today as that verdict was read, his attorneys, at least I should note, given Kristen just noted he was on the plane.
And he's kind of not left with that option here because the reason he's being ordered to pay over $83 million is not for what he was found liable for by a previous jury, which is sexually abusing her, but it is simply for defaming her and for the comments that he made about her. And so it does kind of get in the way of what his initial response is, which is to attack, attack, attack. And he did not mention E. Jean Carroll by name in that statement. He'd been attacking her on social media relentlessly throughout the week and the judge here as well. And so I think that's a big question here.
And I think the other part of this, when I saw that $83 million number, which is way above what E. Jean Carroll's attorney had been asking for, but she was asking the jury to send a message with it, is Trump is not someone who likes to part ways with his money. He does not do so easily. You can ask anyone who's ever worked for him, certainly attorneys who have worked for him.
And so I think the number is particularly damaging to him because, one, he doesn't like to pay anyone anything, but certainly not E. Jean Carroll in this situation. So, I think it raises a lot of questions about what this appeal process is going to look like. But the number itself is just incredibly damaging to him.
BLITZER: Incredibly damaging, indeed. Laura Coates just how significant is this $83 million verdict after E. Jean Carroll's lawyers asked the jury to send a strong message to Trump?
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Message sent, and here it is. Next time, impulse control when it comes to a finding that someone has already found you've committed sexual assault. There was an opportunity for him last year to actually do the defense that he attempted to raise in this particular phase of the trial.
Kaitlan is exactly right. This was not a moment for him to go back and try to re-litigate the issues of whether in fact he had committed that assault. That is already in the rearview mirror because a jury found that he had. And the opportunity he had to appear and come to his defense and raise all those arguments is now long gone. This was the penalty phase.
And the message being sent from the $5 million ordered just last year to now over $80 million compensatory and, of course, punitive damages sends a very clear message that he was aware of the comments that he was making, he was aware of the fact that this was they believe done so with malice or this was done in way that he was aware should not have been done and chose to do it anyway.
And so when we look at whether to review a jury's decision on how much money to award, you look primarily to figure out how exponentially higher is the award for, say, the punitive versus compensatory. Do they match up in some way? Are they so far apart as to be a message that says this has nothing to do with the underlying conduct any longer and instead simply a public litmus test in some way, shape, or form? This is not that far apart.
And so now his appeal, Wolf, will really focus on whether there was an issue of a ruling from the judge not about the facts in this case and certainly not about whether he wants to re-litigate the issue of an earlier jury finding.
BLITZER: Yes, very significant. Karen Friedman Agnifilo is with us as well. Karen, what do you make of this decision? KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they wanted to send a very strong message to Trump that he has to stop. And I think on appeal, there's a very strong record that he wouldn't stop, but for this amount of money or something like it.
Because it was -- I think it was the first day of the openings where E. Jean's lawyers commented that today alone, he repeated these defamatory statements 22 times on social media during the trial.
They also brought out evidence where he said I have said it, I'm going to keep saying it, I'm going to say it a thousand times.
And so all of that was before the jury, and they saw and watched him stand up and walk out of the courtroom and do whatever he wanted to do as if the law doesn't apply to him. And so I think it was very clear that they are sending a message that it's going to cost you. You have to stop because this did not -- they didn't have significant or these types of punitive damages in the first trial, if you recall.
This really reflects that after that verdict and after the first E. Jean Carroll verdict where the damage award was around $5 million. He repeated over and over and over again the defamation. And I think the jury looked at that and saw that and punished him for that and sending a message that you have to stop or it's going to cost a lot of money.
BLITZER: Let me go back to Kara. She's outside the courthouse in New York. You've been covering this from the very beginning, Kara. What can you tell us about how the jury actually arrived at this decision?
SCANNELL: Well, Wolf, I mean they deliberated for just about three hours. And we were getting toward the end of the day. The judge had told them that if they didn't reach a verdict by 4:30, we would all return on Monday. And it was just before 4:30 that we learned there was a verdict here.
Now, much of what the jury does is in secrecy, it's behind closed doors. But they never sent a note, they didn't ask for any testimony or any additional evidence. So, whatever they were working on behind the scenes they came to this decision unanimously and together. And this was a jury of seven men and two women, a unanimous verdict.
What's interesting in the previous trial which involved the allegation of sexual assault and defamation for statements made in 2022, that was a jury of six men and three women. So, a similar split and significant award here for E. Jean Carroll.
Throughout the trial, I did see some of the jurors taking notes. They were very observant to the witness testimony and watching the proceedings, fairly engaged.
We did have a break in this trial because some jurors had become ill, so there was a break in testimony for about a week. So, it wasn't a short cohesive case, but, obviously, they were engaged. They followed the arguments, they followed the evidence and they followed the judge's instructions when they came to this decision. Wolf?
BLITZER: They certainly did. Let me go back to Kaitlan. Kaitlan, throughout this entire case, Trump has been repeating a lot of the defamatory statements about E. Jean Carroll that got him here in the first place. But his reaction today on his Truth Social site notably did not attack E. Jean Carroll specifically. What does that say to you?
COLLINS: It says that he and his attorneys heard what her attorney argued in the closing argument which is essentially sending a message that if he continues to do this, they're going to sue him every time, they're going to go after him every time, which is what happened here.
Now, Wolf, it has not stopped him in the past because, remember, at the town hall with CNN back in May, Trump went after E. Jean Carroll and attacked her at length. That was the day after the jury had found him liable for sexual abuse, and he did not stop then.
I think what has changed here now is there's a price to those statements that he is been making, as you noted many times on social media in person, outside the courthouse, as her attorneys played in the closing argument.
So, I think that's the question here of whether or not it stops him. And if it doesn't, what the next step is by E. Jean Carroll's attorneys. I just think that is so notable here that we've never seen Trump held accountable in this way for statements that he's made and actually not just being held accountable but with a dollar figure attached to it.
BLITZER: Yes, $83.3 million. Laura, what do you think about that? Is Trump becoming more aware of his possible legal exposure from repeating his specific attacks on E. Jean Carroll?
COATES: I don't know how this could not make him keenly aware of that. And I just want to remind people there's a difference between being able to defend one's self against an accusation in a court of law and one being defamatory in their behavior. This is a line that he's going to try to blur for the American public to suggest he can't say that he's innocent, that professing one's innocence means that you are making defamatory statements.
We know that's not true in a nation where we believe in the presumption of innocence. But you cannot -- according to the elements of you prove defamation, you cannot publish meaning speak or write a statement that's open to the public in some way, shape, or form that is false in nature and that damages or lessens reputation of somebody in the eyes of their community. Those are the standards by which you judge whether somebody has committed defamation.
He was a public figure and you did it with malice, they say. Meaning you intended for people to believe the falsehood that you are now publishing. This is very distinct from saying I'm innocent, right?
I have not done the crime for which I've been accused of. I'm going to have my day in court.
It's not a matter of semantics, though, either, and he's learning now that there were clear guardrails established for him by the judge's orders from the first trial and beyond of what he could and could not say.
Remember, yesterday, when he took the stand, he spoke for a shorter amount of time than it took to decide what the guardrails and reminders would be.
And so I would encourage people to watch for that as you're going through and hearing his different comments from here on out to see whether or not he is, in fact, aware of those constraints, not just being able to say and profess one's innocence but going beyond that to defame and harm someone's reputation, which is exactly where the closing arguments and the course of this trial really were.
BLITZER: Very important analysis, indeed. Everyone, stand by. We have a lot more to assess. This is a huge, huge story. We're getting more reaction to the verdict against Trump and whether it may have any impact on his presidential campaign. Much more on the breaking news as we continue our special coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Back to the breaking news, the massive $83.3 million defamation verdict against Donald Trump. Let's get some more on the political fallout from the jury's decision. Our team of experts joining us for some important analysis.
Scott Jennings, let me start with you. When Trump is such clearly a dominating force in the Republican Party right now and inching closer and closer to the presidential nomination, do you see this decision today changing that course?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't. I think most of his supporters will look at this case like a -- you know, like they look at the other things going on in New York. It's a civil trial. It was cooked up at a journalist's house with a bunch of rabid never-Trumpers and New York jury did this to him. It's all part of a witch hunt. That's how they will see it.
I do think there will be some disturbing Republican voters out there who will say, wait a minute, does this guy have enough lawyers to make it through all the other legal issues he might have for the rest of the year, specifically the January the 6th trial, which, of course, maybe coming up sooner rather than later.
So I don't see it derailing him, but, certainly, there some people out there tonight questionings what the rest of the legal road might look like having a nominee who has to go to court with lawyers, who just got nailed in this case.
BLITZER: Jamal Simmons is with us as well. Jamal, Trump is clearly still struggling with moderate, more independent voters, especially suburban women. What impact do you think this verdict could have on this crucial voting bloc that's shown a lot of disdain for Trump's conduct?
JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Wolf, Scott Jennings will remember this because he was there. You know, George W. Bush, when he went to war in the Middle East, he assembled a coalition of the willing. I think when Joe Biden went to campaign against Donald Trump, he assembled the coalition of the rational, right? These are people who are independents. They are, I would say, there are Bush Republicans, many of them, a lot of them are Democrats.
There are a people who just don't like the chaos, as Nikki Haley likes to call it, people who -- they prefer something that seems a little bit more -- again, more rational in terms of how you leave the presidency more stable.
And I think those people are going to look at this and say kind of what Scott was saying a moment ago. Those people are going to look at this and say, I just don't know if we want to sign up for this again.
Now, the thing is, are there enough of those people left in the Republican primary to stop him from getting the nomination? It just doesn't look like it. But when it comes to November and it comes to the fall, I think that former President Trump is going to be in trouble when Joe Biden and his coalition of the rational get a hold of him.
BLITZER: Kristen, as you know as Trump heads to a campaign event tonight, what are you hearing about how this decision today will impact him politically?
HOLMES: Well, look, they don't think it's going to impact him politically, at least not with his base or at least not with the conservatives that are voting in the Republican primary. He has really tried to link all of these legal issues together, even though many of them have nothing to do with each other, and he's also tried to link them to Joe Biden. He did that even tonight in a statement, this is a civil defamation case in New York and he was saying it was done at the hands of President Biden. He's been calling all of his legal issues election interference.
And the thing I noticed when I'm traveling with him is that people believe it, his supporters believe it. A lot of Republicans believe it, not even just, you know, his rabid base, that this is somehow a politically-motivated thing that is happening to him.
Now, the other question here is whether or not he can continue to not attack E. Jean Carroll. As we said, it's very striking that he didn't go after her in his posts tonight. But Donald Trump, when he is on the stump and surrounded by people who support him, he is often unfiltered. So, whether or not this is just one statement or something that can last, that will be interesting to watch.
BLITZER: It certainly will be. Scott, Nikki Haley has been ramping up her attacks on Trump in recent days. But when our Dana Bash asked her about the defamation case before today's decision, she was sort of dismissive. How do you see Haley, as the only woman in this race, handling this development out there on the campaign trail?
JENNINGS: Well, she's pulled her punches on all of Trump's legal issues. I mean at one point she said she would pardon Donald Trump if he were convicted in any of the criminal trials. But she's been very careful tip-toeing around this matter. So I'm not totally surprise as she did today.
Again, I think Republicans see the cases in New York. This one in the Alvin Bragg case as, you know, the worst possible place where something could be cooked up against Donald Trump with jury pools that are the least likely to, you know, be sympathetic with Donald Trump.
So therefore Republicans have already dismissed these I think more than they have the cases on January 6th and the documents, although the documents to a lesser extent.
BLITZER: Jamal, President Biden basically has stayed away from Trump's legal controversies. How do you think he should address this important decision today?
SIMMONS: Well, first of all, when your opponent is sticking themselves in the eye with a fork, you should not get in the way of their hands, right? So, let Donald Trump continue on the path that he is doing because what the jury clearly said to him today was stop talking, just stop talking, three-hour deliberation and they told him to stop and gave him a huge penalty.
But I think what you may see are some Democratic allies who begin to highlight this as part of the president's -- as part of Trump's kind of just bad handling of any issues having to do with women, from abortion, and now you've got this case. And I think all those things wrapped up together are just not going to endear him to the voters he's going to hold onto if he's got any chance of trying to win the presidency back.
BLITZER: Yes. And we're going to continue our special, special coverage of all this. Everyone, thank you very much. Stand by.
Coming up more on the $83.3 million verdict against Trump and the message it sends to victims of sexual abuse. Stay with us as our special breaking news coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM continues.
BLITZER: We're back with our legal experts right now. We're following the breaking news on the $83 million damages verdict against Donald Trump for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll.
Laura Coates, the jury unanimously decided on this stunning number, $83.3 million to be specific in just a few hours. What does that reveal to you?
COATES: Well, the unanimity of it and the close amount of time it took to actually render that verdict tells you that the evidence that was presented was overwhelmingly persuasive to them.
Remember they were not deciding the issue of whether he had committed sexual assault or sexual abuse towards E. Jean Carroll. There was already a factual finding that happened over a year ago.
What they were deciding now was based on reputational harm, whether the evidence suggested that she had a reputation at one particular level. It was lessened by the statements by Donald Trump, whether the statements, in fact, led to actual monetary damages.
Now, she claimed that prior to all this happening, she received hundreds of emails responding to her asking her for advice as a part of her advice column. It dwindled down to just ten, I think, a month at one point in time. She talked about the threats that were made to her, death threats and beyond. That was attacked, of course, by Alina Habba, the counsel for Donald Trump, to suggest not only had she been wronged in some way but that she actually been elevated in the eyes of so many in the community.
The jury did not buy that, and they have this number to tell you just how much they believe he was on notice not to defame and did so anyway.
BLITZER: Laura, let me follow-up with you. What kind of impact do you think this verdict could have for survivors of sexual assault and abuse?
COATES: Well, this is a really important point that you raise here. Remember, this was delayed reported sexual assault delayed by decades, not weeks, or months or even a year but by decades. And there has always been when you're talking about victims of sexual assault and abuse. Unfortunately, in our society we do have a tendency to discredit out of the gate and then try to force somebody to prove their case later.
Now, in this instance it was years and years after, and so the credibility arguments that were already there were already problematic, in addition to the delay of reporting. This tells you that when somebody went forward on this claim that was helped by the fact you could have a limitations period that could have told in prior years because New York had changed their laws could still go forward, this is a very powerful statement about how people now view even delayed reporting.
But, ultimately, it is also the testament to the idea of power dynamic at play. Can there be any bigger pulpit from which one can assert statements or make statements that defame than the bully pulpit of the president of the United States and beyond? And, so this is a very powerful moment.
I wonder if it will have precedential value going forward for other cases that might come forward for other very powerful figures. BLITZER: Yes, that's important, indeed. Laura, stand by, we'll get back to you.
I want to bring in Nancy Erika Smith, who's represented many survivors of sexual assault.
Nancy, Trump's lawyers argued that E. Jean Carroll relished the attention, that her career flourished after making this allegation. What message is the jury sending with this verdict today?
NANCY ERIKA SMITH, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: I think they're sending the message stop attacking the victim. The victim didn't have to hideout. I mean, Ms. Habba seemed to be arguing that Ms. Carroll was supposed to go hide and not have any presence after being a public figure, somebody people relied on for advice, and a writer, an important writer for women.
So, Habba was intimating that she should go hideout, she should be very quiet and sit in a dark room and be silenced. And silencing women is the point of misogynists and sexists who don't want women to fight, to live in a safe world where we're believed and where sexual harassers, assaulters and rapists don't go unpunished.
BLITZER: Kim Wehle is with us as well. Yes, go ahead finish your thought.
SMITH: I think it's a really important message. It's also disturbing to see Ms. Habba attack one of the foundations of our democracy, which is the jury system. You know who doesn't have juries? Iran and Egypt and China. It's in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution for a reason.
And there are 9 million people in New York, 20 million in New York State. They're highly educated. To say that you can't have a fair trial -- he's a New Yorker. Donald Trump is a New Yorker. There are 600,000 people in Wyoming. We're Americans here in New York, and we're educated, and they listen to the evidence and they made a ruling. And to hear a lawyer disparage that and the judge is very disturbing. It's another attack on one of the foundations of our democracy by the Trump crowd.
BLITZER: I know you're referring to Alina Habba, Trump's lawyer.
Kim Wehle, what impact do you see this decision actually having?
KIM WEHLE, LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, it's -- there are two questions. One is politically, right? Does it have an impact on the lies? Defamation is about lies. It's about making lies that harm people and being held accountable for the lie. And we're having a national conversation now for several years as to whether the big lie is a lie and whether there is such a thing as facts and truth.
And I think this is demonstrating that politics are very different from the judicial system. And it also is demonstrating -- I think it's a show of courage here, not just the courage of E. Jean Carroll but these jurors, the judges, the judge's law clerks, all these people that are involved in the system of justice to uphold the rule of law, to rules of evidence, facts, and law-based reasoning, and how, on the political side our political leaders are not doing the same. They're not having that kind of courage.
But I agree with the point that in terms of what we're seeing post- Dobbs really this assault on the humanity of women, 65,000 pregnancies since Dobbs caused by rape in these states that have very strict abortion laws, and we've got this 80-year-old woman who really is the first to come forward and successfully hold this man accountable as he careens towards the Republican nomination for the next presidential election.
BLITZER: Karen Friedman Agnifilo is still with us as well. Karen, the jury said Trump should pay $65 million specifically as punishment in addition to the emotional and reputational damages. How strong of a deterrent do you think that is?
AGNIFILO: Well, I think it's telling that in his post, his social media posts that he did since the verdict where he went after the judge and he went after the court, et cetera, he left out the name, E. Jean Carroll. And he no longer defamed her despite doing it 22 times the day of opening statements where he continued today do it and despite saying he's going to do it a thousand times. It's clear that he got the message and he stopped saying it. So, so far, it has worked.
BLITZER: Yes, so far. Let's see what happens. All right, ladies, thank you very much.
We'll have much more on this verdict and Trump's ongoing legal peril. That's coming up.
Also coming up, a CNN investigation, why were civilians in Gaza shot while waving white flags of surrender? Our Clarissa Ward is seeking answers.
BLITZER: More ahead on the breaking news, a massive $83.3 million verdict against Donald Trump.
We're also following other important news, including intensifying efforts to secure the release of hostages in Gaza.
CNN's Alex Marquardt is joining us right now. Alex, I know you're doing a lot of excellent reporting on this. Where do these new talks stand right now to try to free these hostages?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they do appear to be moving forward because now we're seeing these back-to-back trips with the two most senior U.S. officials who were in charge of negotiating hostages as well as a ceasefire. We know that the CIA director, Bill Burns, is heading to Europe this weekend for meetings with his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts, as well as the Qatari prime minister. That comes on the heels of a several meetings earlier this week in both Cairo and Qatar by the most senior White House official, who is in charge of the Middle East.
Brett McGurk earlier today, we heard from the White House saying that McGurk's meetings were a good set of discussion.
So, Bill Burns will be looking to build on that progress and bridge the gap between the Israeli and Hamas positions. And, Wolf, that gap is substantial.
We do understand what we think the outline of a deal could look like, this is according to sources, that those Israeli hostages were still in Gaza, there are more than 100 of them, that they would be released in phases, initially women, children, and the elderly. That would be followed by IDF soldiers and the bodies of the hostages.
But, Wolf, Hamas wants to see this war end while Israel wants to see a temporary ceasefire and then continue with their efforts to eradicate Hamas. Wolf?
BLITZER: Alex Marquardt reporting on this important story, thank you very much.
Also tonight, the United Nation's top court is ordering Israel to act immediately to try to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, but the International Court of Justice stopped short of calling for an end to the fighting.
This is a preliminary ruling on South Africa's accusation of genocide by Israel, a case the court refused to throw out. The final decision could take months or even years. The court also urged the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.
Let's bring in CNN's Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She's in Jerusalem for us.
Clarissa, CNN has been investigating the Israeli military's actions in Gaza. You're getting new information. What are you learning?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We've been looking at a growing number of videos that show unarmed civilians holding white flags, being shot dead inside Gaza.
We started out looking at a particularly disturbing video, and I want to warn our viewers it is graphic, of a 57-year-old grandmother, Hala Grace (ph), who was captured on a cell phone video leading a crowd of about 30 people.
They are waving white flags. They are leaving, evacuating their neighborhood in al-Rimal in Gaza City on November 12th. She is leading the group holding the hand of her 5-year-old grandson Taim. You hear a shot, Hala drops to the ground. She died very soon
afterward. We were able to establish there were Israeli forces to the south and to the west of her position.
And we spent some time talking to family members who were among that group. Take a listen to part of our report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARD (voice-over): A month before October 7th had been the happiest of times for the family, celebrating Sara's engagement and Mohamed's graduation from university.
SARAH KHREIS, DAUGHTER (through translator): My mother was going to be 58 years old on December 30th and her grandson with her. So, why would you shoot her? What's between you and her? You made us feel like it's safe to leave. We had white flags on our hands so what happened? Nobody knows. Nobody knows.
WARD: It is a question many are asking as more videos have emerged of unarmed civilians displaying white flags apparently shot dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARD (on camera): We analyzed four cases, the most widely reported, Wolf, is that of the Israeli hostages who the IDF admitted killing. We flew here to Israel to try to sit down with the IDF to present our footage, present our findings on or off camera. They declined to meet with us, but they did provide us, Wolf, some hours after our report was first published with this statement. They said, quote, CNN refused to provide the footage in question prior to the broadcasting of the article as the IDF requested to receive in order to thoroughly examine the incident and provide any sort of comprehensive response.
CNN's hesitancy to share the materials discloses the partial nature of their report, doing a disservice to the complex nature of the operational reality on the ground. The incident is being examined. Wolf, they don't say exactly which of the incidents that we talk about in this investigation is being examined, and I do want to reiterate that we said again and again to the IDF that we were willing any time, day or night to come present our footage, present our findings well before publication to give them a chance to explain what's been going on, Wolf.
BLITZER: Clarissa Ward, excellent reporting, thank you very much. Clarissa reporting from Jerusalem.
And we'll be right back with more breaking news.
BLITZER: Today's $83 million defamation verdict against Donald Trump is just one of several civil and criminal cases involving the former president as he's running for a second term in the White House. CNN's Brian Todd is joining us right now with a closer look at those
other legal problems.
Brian, update us.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're far from over, Wolf, and, in fact, some of the more serious cases, the criminal trials involving the former president are slated to get underway this year, as Donald Trump presses on with his presidential campaign.
TODD (voice-over): From today's verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case, with the jury ordering Donald Trump to pay more than $83 million in damages to Carroll, to the Stormy Daniels hush money case, to the Mar- a-Lago documents probe, to the election interference case in Georgia, and the federal January 6 inquiry, Donald Trump has been entangled in a web of investigations targeting him from many directions.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's pretty remarkable that you have multiple different states, the federal government, all investigating the same person at once, but that person is the former president of the United States.
TODD: In addition to the Carroll civil verdict, Trump now faces 91 felony counts in two state courts and two federal districts. There's the indictment in the Daniels case in New York where Trump faces several counts related to business fraud. In Washington, special counsel Jack Smith has charged Trump with four felonies in a federal case, in connection with his attempts to stay in power after the 2020 election.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.
TODD: There's the Justice Department's Mar-a-Lago case, charging Trump with illegally mishandling classified documents when he brought them to his Florida estate after leaving the White House.
And in Georgia, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis has brought a huge racketeering case against Trump and 18 other people, alleging a conspiracy to steal the 2020 election.
There's also a civil lawsuit in New York filed against Trump and his adult sons, alleging that they fraudulently distorted the values of their properties.
Which case against Trump is the strongest, analysts have gone back and forth, but some point to Georgia as a decent possibility for conviction.
TIA MITCHELL, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Even if he didn't have a direct hand in some of the efforts, that he was part of the planning that he directed these efforts. And so, that's why in a lot of ways, it is the most serious, because when it comes to the election, it's the one with the most teeth.
TODD (on camera): Donald Trump has repeatedly rejected the accusations in each of these cases, characterizing them as facets of a witch hunt designed to take him down. Just tonight, he called the E. Jean Carroll verdict, quote, absolutely ridiculous and he said he'll appeal -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks for that report.
Just ahead, my exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris's husband, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, including our conversation on a very deeply personal issue of remembering the Holocaust.
BLITZER: Tomorrow is International Holocaust Remembrance Day honoring the 6 million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazis.
President Biden issued a statement which says in part, and I'm quoting him, this year the charge to remember the Holocaust, the evil of the Nazis and the scourge of antisemitism is more pressing than ever.
I spoke exclusively with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff about what the day means to him. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're sitting down as the world is getting ready to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, in the wake of the horrific October 7th assault on Israel, the deadliest day for Jews, as you and I well know, since the Holocaust.
Why it is especially important to commemorate this day this year?
DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN OF THE UNITED STATES: Wolf, that was a genocide what happened in the Holocaust. As they say we can never forget.
I was there at Auschwitz last year at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and that this past year, I've been so profoundly affected by that experience, what I saw. It's never left me, and, in fact, it's informed the work that I've done with the administration on fighting anti-Semitism, hate of all forms, which was very prevalent prior to October 7th.
And, of course, since October 7th, we've seen literally a crisis of anti-Semitism that has erupted here in the United States, but in fact all around the world. So it's really important that this date that's coming up to commemorate the horrors of millions -- 6 million Jews slaughtered.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: So important indeed.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.