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Seven Jurors Seated In Trump's First Criminal Trial; Supreme Court Hears Arguments That Could Impact Trump Case; Defiant Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) Dismisses Absurd Push To Oust Him; Source: U.S. Expects Israel To Conduct Limited Strike Inside Iran; ADL: Antisemitic Incidents Reached New High In 2023. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 16, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Here's a tool, Bill Weir's new book. It's called, Life As We Know It. It can be stories of people, climate in hope of a changing world. It's an interesting book and it's a beautifully written book. Bill.


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The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer sure right next door in a place I like to call The Situation Room.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the second day of Donald Trump's hush money trial comes to a close. Seven jurors have now been seated after another contentious day in court, including a stern warning from the judge to the former president.

And we're keeping a close eye on another case that could impact Trump, the United States Supreme Court hearing arguments today from January 6th defendants who say federal prosecutors overstepped. We're going to tell you why the decision could deal potentially a blow to the special counsels the indictment against Trump.

Also tonight, a defiant speaker, Mike Johnson says he's not resigning after a second Republican hardliner joins the effort to take away his gavel. We're following the chaos on Capitol Hill as Johnson's speakership hangs in the balance.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

Now, let's begin with the breaking news, the second day of Donald Trump's hush money trial wrapping up just a little while ago. The proceedings gaining momentum today with seven jurors seated after an afternoon of intense questioning.

CNN's Kara Scannell has details from just outside the courthouse in New York. Kara, give us the latest.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf just moments ago, a seventh juror was seated in this trial. He's a male, he's a civil litigator, and he said some views about Trump during his presidency, said likely he didn't agree with him, but he said he could be fair, impartial, this coming after another full day of jury selection, where there are now seven juror seated in this case.


KARA MCGEE, DISMISSED POTENTIAL JUROR: It's this like massive sense of gravitas and importance because you know that this is history in the making.

SCANNELL (voice over): Dozens more potential jurors filed into Manhattan courtroom Tuesday and six jurors were seated as jury selection continued into Day 2 of the first criminal trial of a former president. The seated jurors include an Irish man in sales, a female oncology nurse, a corporate male lawyer, an English teacher sure at a charter school, a software engineer and an owner of an I.T. business.

The jury selection strategy for both parties taking shape. Trump attorneys spending the afternoon digging into the social media posts of some potential jurors. Two were struck for cause, one for a social media post referencing Trump and, quote, lock him up. When a prosecutor asked the juror if he still believes Trump should be locked up, the jury answered, no.

Trump was seen craning his neck toward him and flashing a smirk. Judge Juan Merchan issued a stern warning to Trump after he visibly reacted to a juror's answers about a video she posted on social media. He warned Trumps lawyer, your client was audibly uttering, I will not have any jurors intimidated in the courtroom.

That juror was questioned outside the presence of the others about a video she posted on social media showing an outdoor celebration, quote, spreading the honking cheer around Election Day 2020. She said it was a New York celebratory moment. Trump's lawyers suggested she would was biased. The judge said he believed the juror could be fair and didn't excuse her.

Trump's attorney, Todd Blanche, telling those in the jury pool, quote, it's extraordinarily important to President Trump that we know we're going to get a fair shake. One juror said he finds Trump fascinating because he, quote, walks into a room and he sets people off one way or the other. Blanche seemed amused with the response.

Another juror said she learned for the first time Tuesday that Trump has been charged in three other cases. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass addressed prospective jurors, asking them to set aside any strong feelings. He asked each to consider if they would be able to look Defendant Trump in the eye and return a guilty verdict, if the case is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Trump up here to look at the jurors, tilting his head once or twice as they were answering, yes, according to pool reports. One juror who was excused after she said she had a scheduling conflict, described her experience to CNN.

MCGEE: The same time you walk into the courtroom you see Trump sitting there. I have never seen him in person before. You see him sitting there. And it's like, oh, it's just a guy.



SCANNELL: Wolf, so now that there are seven jurors selected out of the initial pool of 96 on Thursday morning, 96 new jurors will come in. They've already been sworn in. We'll start this process all over again, going through the 42 questions that are in that questionnaire, then questions by the attorneys and then they'll strike until we have 12 jurors and a number of alternates. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Kara Scannell in New York for us, Kara, thank you very much.

Let's dig deeper right now on the seven jurors who have now been sworn in. Our Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig, is with me over here at the magic wall. Elie, what do we know about these jurors?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf. Jury selection is a fascinating exercise and it's really more art than science You're trying to read human beings inherently dynamic and unpredictable, but we've learned some really important I think potentially revealing details about these seven jurors. These jurors will be on the case. So far, we know four males three females.

Let's take a quick look at what we have for juror number one. Juror number one will be the foreperson, no magic powers associated with the foreperson. That's the person who generally communicates on behalf of the jury with the judge and tends to lead the deliberations in the room.

What jumped out at me, there's nothing remarkable in the bio but this is a person who said he watches both Fox News and MSNBC. That's an interesting combination. If I'm Trump and I got anyone who watches any Fox News, I want a chance that that person is going to go on the jury.

But I have to note this. In New York, I picked juries in New York, people sometimes confuse Fox News with the local Fox 5. And the jury form does not separate those two. So, it could be that he was actually talking about the local news, which is really not partisan.

Let's go to juror number two. Juror number two is nurse in New York. You get a lot of medical professionals, a lot of hospitals there. In my experience, medical professionals tend to be technical. They're capable of separating facts from emotion. And, really, prosecutors want that. It really depends in how strongly you feel that your case is based when you get down to the technical elements of it. So, you're always going to have nurses, doctors, medical professionals, a native New Yorker watching CNN, that's good to see.

Juror number three -- okay, juror number three, now, this is interesting, Wolf. This is a lawyer. And, typically, the rule of thumb is lawyers don't like lawyers on their juries. At the prosecutor's office, we almost automatically got rid of any lawyer, but it's also hard to do because you do have a lot of lawyers in Manhattan.

The concern is that a lawyer might just take over the jury. They might say listen. I'm a lawyer forget about the judge. I know what's going to happen here. But it's hard to see the jury with no lawyers on it.

Interestingly, he does read The Wall Street Journal, which has been quite critical of this particular case in its editorial pages. So, juror number three, I think would please me from Trump's point of view.

Let's go to juror number four. Juror number four is an older man. He's a businessman. He's a family man. He says he finds Trump fascinating and mysterious. That would worry me if I was with the D.A.'s office. I don't want someone who's enamored with Trump or finds any sort of fascination or mystery in him, but, again, he doesn't seem to have strong political views for or against Donald Trump.

Let's get to number five. Number five is a young African-American. This is a teacher, a highly educated woman. She said she did not know that Trump is facing charges in another criminal case. So, she knows now.

Teachers are another interesting one. Teachers sort of cut both ways. Because, on the one hand, teachers know how to say, enough, right? They know how to tell their students, you can't do that. On the other hand, teachers are interested in rehabilitation, giving people a second chance.

So, as a prosecutor, we were always sort of mixed about teachers. So, again, this one, I think, strikes me as a fair juror. I don't think either side is going to be delighted or overly upset with juror number five.

Let's go to juror number six here. Juror number six is a software engineer, a young person, a recent college grad. Software engineer, similar to the oncology nurse, I think this is a person whose profession requires her to be analytical, to separate out emotion. Usually, prosecutors like that.

By the way, gets news from New York Times. I know there's this notion The New York Times is liberal. In New York, everyone gets their news from The New York Times. So, I don't read too much into that.

And now we have juror number seven. I'm not sure if we have graphic. This just happened. Juror number seven, Wolf, is another lawyer, a second one. Now we have two lawyers, a litigator, a civil litigator, so someone who knows his way around the courtroom.

So, we have a really interesting jury here. Some of what happened here breaks the normal rules, the normal mode for what you want to do when you're picking a jury. My assessment so far is there are certain indicators about these jurors. But I would like from Trump's side. There's other indicators I would like from the D.A. side.

But I have to say, I have to hand it to the judge and the parties here. It seems that these seven jurors, based on what we know, are fair and capable of doing exactly what their oath will require them to do, which is to judge this case based on the facts and not based on emotion or politics.

BLITZER: All right. Elie, I want you to stay with us. I also want to bring in some of our other legal and political experts as well. And, Jamie Gangel, let me start with you. What was your major takeaway from the seven jurors who have now moved?


JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, I don't think we should be surprised that Judge Merchan has actually seated seven jurors. I know there was talk that this would take weeks and weeks. But he has the reputation of being smart, experienced, even- handed, and I was told last week he was going to keep it moving, and as Elie knows, each side runs out of strikes. And at a certain point, they need to impound people because they don't know what's coming.

I thought it was interesting that when Donald Trump left today, he used the word, rushed, in his statement, that the trial was being rushed. What do we know about Donald Trump? He has wanted to delay, delay, delay. I think the fact that seven are down so quickly may be bothering him.

On the jurors, as Elie said, I'm interested that there are two lawyers on the jury thus far. Yes, there are a lot of lawyers in New York, but as you would say, you get concerned they might influence, unduly influence a panel.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Wolf, I'm just surprised that you found seven people so quickly in New York without strong opinions about Donald Trump. He's been a fixture in New York City and Manhattan in particular for decades, whether it was in business or politically.

And to a person, you know, one of the jurors said, well, he's fascinating and mysterious. Another one said he speaks his mind. I kind of like that. But no real strong opinions about him one way or another, which in New York, it's kind of surprising --

GANGEL: Or they didn't share that much.

BORGER: Or they didn't share.

HONIG: And let me just say that that's 7 out of 90-something. So, it took a lot to narrow it down.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: You need 12 in the end, and 6, all (INAUDIBLE). So, there's still more work that needs to be done.

Ankush Khardori is with us as well, a former federal prosecutor. Jury number four, it's interesting, told the court, and I'm quoting now, Trump makes things interesting. Given that and other things we've heard, should Trump be fairly happy with these selections, at least so far?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I don't know if I would say happy, because I agree, I mean, I think this is a solid group of people just based on what they've described in their occupations and whatnot, but I agree with Ellie. I mean there are elements of what some of these people disclose, including that comment that if you're Trump, they're going to catch your ear. And he only needs one of them, right? He's not going to get acquitted. But if he gets one of them, that's a hung jury and a mistrial.

BLITZER: And that would be good for him.

Are any of these statements, Elie that we've heard from these puts perspective jurors, seven of them now confirm something the prosecutors should worry about?

HONIG: Yes. I would worry about very much about the person who finds Donald Trump fascinating. I mean, look, Donald Trump -- whatever anyone may say, Donald Trump is enormously charismatic. I guess charismatic can be positive or negative and that would worry me.

Ankush is exactly right. This is not going to wind up in a not guilty verdict. You would need to all 12 to say not guilty.

What Trump is playing for here is hung jury. And people have to understand, 11 to 1. So, I want the wildcard if I'm at Trump's team. I want someone on that jury who's enamored with Trump, who finds him fascinating, who finds him charismatic.

And that comment would definitely worry me from the prosecutor's perspective. There were other jurors who said -- one of the -- the teacher we talked about said that her friends have negative views on Donald Trump politically, and I would like that in a prosecution --

BLITZER: So, why didn't the prosecution really allow them to be seated if, as you say, that's potentially a problem for them?

HONIG: I would have struck that juror immediately if I was a prosecutor. So, I'm not sure. They've got to observe the person. We know. That's the big difference. So, maybe there was something in the demeanor. Maybe there was something in the way that person said it, right? We're just seeing this sort of (INAUDIBLE), fascinating. I mean, what if it said with an eye roll, I find him always fascinating, right?

So, I'm not sure. And we can always second guess after the fact, but that woman would have jumped off the page (ph) to me as a strike.

BORGER: Well, what Trump's lawyers are looking for is somebody who's strong and independent. And if everybody is going the wrong way, this other person could be the hold out, from what you're talking about, which is a hung jury. And it's got to be somebody with a backbone.


BORGER: And maybe the person who's friends all had strong opinions about Donald Trump but she wasn't swayed by them one way or another, maybe that would be the person. I mean, maybe that's what they were thinking. But you've got to have somebody strong to withstand any pressure inside jury room.

BLITZER: Ankush, what do you think of these jurors? What's going through the minds of these jurors right now, because we're learning a lot more and more about them?

KHARDORI: Yes. Okay. (INAUDIBLE) with the jury position here.

First of all, I imagine it's somewhat surreal, right, to be selected. I am wondering if some of them are a little unhappy with the amount of information that is being made public about them.

Now, this is not the fault of the media. I want to be very clear about this.


Responsibility to guard all of this very specific information that we're learning resides with the D.A.'s office and with the judge. I'm a little surprised that we are learning all this because I do not think this jury is going to remain anonymous necessarily if they keep this up.

BLITZER: You're worried about their safety?

KHARDORI: Yes, I'm worried about their safety. I mean, it's up to them if they want to write a book after all this is said and done, but that's their option. They shouldn't be out of this way. They're not supposed to be out of this way.

BLITZER: Because we don't know their names, but we do know a lot of details about them, Jamie.

GANGEL: Right. If you know where someone works, if you have some idea of their neighborhood, it doesn't take a lot in this day and age to pick up a phone, to go through social media and see if you can put together a profile of someone.

So, I think it is important that, as much as possible, they need to stay anonymous. As Ankush said, if at the end of the day they want to become public, that's their choice. But at the end of the E. Jean Carroll case, we all remember the judge said to the jurors, if I were you, I would stay anonymous.

BORGER: Nobody knew their names.

GANGEL: Right.

BORGER: Nobody knew their names. BLITZER: Which are good points, very important points, we want these jurors to be safe. They're doing important work and they have to be protected, no doubt about that.

All right, guys, stay with us. We have a lot more to discuss.

Coming up, we'll have more on Day 2 of this truly historic criminal trial of a former president of the United States. Stay with us, you're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: More now in our top story, the second day of Donald Trump's hush money trial has just ended with seven jurors now seated.

Let's bring back our legal and political experts, and, Elie Honig, once again, New York prosecutors and Trump legal team we're told now they have each have just four strikes left. Tell us what that means.

HONIG: So, those are precious These are what we call your peremptory strikes. Meaning, even if a person gets through the whole filtering process, even a if person does not have a hardship, even if a person does self-identify and say, I have too much bias, I need to go, that's two ways we get rid of people. Even if the judge has said, this person is okay in my book, you still have that gas peremptory challenge as a prosecutor or defense lawyer.

They each started with ten, meaning they've each removed six. And you want to hold on to those, right? There's some strategy involved in this. There are some gamesmanship involved with this, but what you're really looking to do is eliminate the worst case scenarios, especially from the prosecutor side. Because, as we were just discussing, you just want to guard against that one or two rogue, you know, Manhattanites who might be sympathetic to Donald Trump.

BLITZER: It's interesting. Ankush. You're a former federal prosecutor. You've been involved in selecting jurors over these years. So, when you do you know to strike someone who may be giving decent answers, but you still want to strike that person from becoming a juror?

KHARDORI: Well, I mean, these are your wildcards, right? And a lot of it comes down to intuition, I think, some of the sorts of things that Elie was talking about, a stray thought, a stray comment, depending on how it's sort of described. Are they leaning too far in a certain direction? Do they have too strong feelings on certain issues? It's an art, not a science.

BLITZER: So, you just have to have a gut instinct. And if you don't think this person looks like he's going to be good or bad, you get rid of him?

KHARDORI: Well, yes. But also, you know, Trump has jury consultants, right, with him. So, they have background information on some of these people. They can do research on them, look at their social media posts, things like that. Some of that is coming up during the voir dire.

BLITZER: The prosecution is jury consultants, too.

KHARDORI: They have the same results.

BORGER: And they also have Donald Trump, who thinks he's smarter than any of the lawyers or the jury consultants. And we heard him today grumbling in court. He's got to be careful about that, but I bet he has got a lot of input about who's going to be on this jury.

HONIG: I'm really curious to what extent Donald Trump is making these decisions.

BORGER: Yes, exactly.

HONIG: Because legal team is making these decisions, because Todd Blanche was a former colleague of mine at the Southern District, tried a bunch of cases, as was Alvin Bragg, same thing. And if I'm Todd Blanche, I'm telling Donald Trump, Mr. President, with all due respect, I've done a lot of these and I have a good sense how this works.

Now, you listen to your client, but who's calling the shot? What if they disagree? What If they're down to their last strike and Trump wants to use it or, you know, and Blanche doesn't? That's an interesting dynamic.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Jamie, because one of the jurors was dismissed after it was revealed he wrote, lock him up, in a social media post about Donald Trump, but this juror who claimed he could be fair and unbiased was still dismissed.

GANGEL: Right. So, that's pretty obvious if that's the kind of thing you're saying. And I also think all these social media posts it says a lot. They are looking in the normal case you're not going through usually jurors. So, there's a different level of insight that both sides have.

The judge also did admonish Donald Trump and his lawyers today and I thought that that was interesting that this happened early on. Judge Merchan is -- he did this today I think because he was setting the tone. And Ellie, you know, Ankush can talk about it more, but I know that he runs a very tight courtroom. But to do it today, just he was letting him know there's not going be any nonsense.

BORGER: And that's the struggle, I think, that will be so interesting to watch because Donald Trump is used to being in control of everything. And here he is sitting in this courtroom and he is not in control of this courtroom. The judge is in control of this courtroom. And I could see that causing some trouble for Donald Trump. I mean, he's just not used to being in this position.

HONIG: I agree. I think the judge is making a point of what he said today. It's a discipline issue. And I've been complimentary to the judge. I think he has done a good job. He's run an efficient, fair process. I do have to criticize one thing that he said, today, though. With regard to Trump's team digging into social media, you're allowed to do that, as long as it's publicly available social media.


That's really important, as that juror that we just discussed shows.

This is a person who said he could be fair and impartial, but was talking about locking up Donald Trump. And the judge said at one point, we're not going to be doing this for every juror, folks. We've got to move on. That to me is a mistake. That is improper by the judge because they have a right to dig into this. That's the whole ballgame for Donald Trump's team. And if you need to take a few extra minutes to look into that, that's extraordinarily revealing and important.

BLITZER: Important point, indeed. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, another House Republican backs an effort to oust the House speaker, Mike Johnson. What the speaker is saying about calls to resign and the foreign aid plan dividing his party.

Plus, we're getting new details on how the U.S. Supreme Court appears to be leaning in a case that potentially could upend hundreds of January 6th prosecutions, including the one against Donald Trump.



BLITZER: Tonight here in Washington, we're tracking the growing threat for the House Speaker Mike Johnson's leadership. Johnson defiant after a second House Republican hardliner has now joined the effort to try to oust him. Listne.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): I am not resigning and it is in my view an absurd notion that someone would bring a vacate motion when we are simply here trying to do our jobs.


BLITZER: Let's check in with our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju. He's joining us from Capitol Hill right now. Give us the latest, Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Speaker Johnson is in a precarious position, given that he is a razor-thin majority and can only afford to lose one Republican vote on any party-line measure. And if two Republicans vote to oust him, that would mean that he would rely on Democrats to survive in this position.

Those two Republicans, Thomas Massie and Marjorie Taylor Greene, are coming after him after a series of deals that he cut, including to keep the government open. But lately, now his new plan to try to advance billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine, that is something that has caused angst on the right, particularly among those two members.

But in talking to Republicans up and down the line, it is clear that there is ample anger at those two Republicans, and this party, this conference, which has been badly divided since last fall's ouster of Kevin McCarthy, has yet to repair those frayed relations.


REP. AUSTIN SCOTT (R-GA): Mike Johnson is a man, is probably in the toughest position of anybody in this country right now, and he's doing the best he can.

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-CN): I think these folks need to grow up, to be honest with you. This is not good leadership. The Republican brand suffers because of the actions of a handful of people.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): In an election year, having a speaker who can't do the job is really bad. So, the alternative is worse.


RAJU: And if Johnson does indeed have to rely on Democrats to save his position, a lot of Republicans that we have been speaking to believe he'll be in a weakened position, perhaps able to serve out the rest of this year, but uncertain if he will be able to do so in the next Congress.

And, Wolf, if there's some speculation about whether there will be several people who could replace him, who are potentially angling for that position. We'll see how that plays out as Johnson tries to survive this revolt.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of ambitious folks up there. But what's in these separate foreign aid bills that now seem to be emerging, Manu, and what comes next?

RAJU: Yes. The speaker has laid out a strategy to try to advance several of these foreign aid packages. It was all part of one bill in the Senate. Remember, about two months ago, a $95 billion plan for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, where it was advanced and collected dust in the House for two months. Now, he wants to move on each of those measures individually, including a separate measure that would include some policy measures, including a ban for TikTok.

But here's the catch, Wolf. There's an expectation that ultimately this could be rolled together into one big package and passed the House as one big package, sending it over to the Senate. And that's what those hardliners are upset about. They don't want to have any more aid going to Ukraine. But, ultimately, Johnson, they have to do that to get Democratic support to get this out of the House.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill, thank you very much. Let's get some more news right now. We're following the United States Supreme Court. It just heard major arguments from an accused Capitol rioter that could potentially impact the special counsel's case against Donald Trump himself.

CNN's Paula Reid has our report.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tonight, the Supreme Court's conservative majority appears likely to toss a criminal charge that hundreds of Capitol rioters and former President Donald Trump have faced, a decision that could deal a significant blow to the Justice Department.

Today's case centers on Joseph Fisher, a former Pennsylvania police officer who was charged with multiple federal crimes for his role in the January 6th attack. According to court documents, even texting, take Democratic Congress to the gallows and can't vote if they can't breathe, LOL.

He is challenging a federal law that makes it a crime for anyone who otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, arguing the law passed in 2002 in the wake of the Enron accounting scandal is not meant to apply to January 6th rioters.

Justice Samuel Alito pressed Fisher's lawyer on the meaning of otherwise in that statute.

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You may be biting off more than you can chew by suggesting, if you are indeed suggesting that the otherwise clause can only be read the way you read it.

REID: Chief Justice John Roberts also took issue with prosecutors broadly interpreting a law that's geared toward prohibiting the destruction of records.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You can't just tack it on and say look at it as if it's standing alone because it's not.


REID: The three liberal justices appearing to favor the government's position, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggesting the court adopt a plain reading of the law.

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT: There is a sign on the theater, you will be kicked out of theater if you photograph or record the actors or otherwise disrupt the performance. If you start yelling, I think no one would question that you can be expected to be kicked out under this policy.

REID: And pushed back on the argument the statute hasn't been used in response to violent protests in the past, pointing out January 6th is unprecedented. SOTOMAYOR: We've never had a situation before where there's been a situation like this with people attempting to stop a proceeding violently. So, I'm not sure what a lack of history proves.

REID: Former President Trump has also been charged under the same law though for different conduct. It's unclear what impact this case could have on his prosecution.


REID (on camera): Yes. And while it's clear the impact that that case could on Trump's federal election prosecution, we know that next week the justices will be back to hear arguments about whether Trump has presidential immunity to shield him from the charges in that case.

The decisions in both of these matters expected in mid to late June. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, big decision coming up from the U.S. Supreme Court. Paula Reid, thank you very much.

I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

As someone who, like you, lived through the attack on U.S. Capitol on January 6th, how will you feel if the U.S. Supreme Court tosses out charges for several hundred of these rioters, and potentially some charges against Trump himself?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Well, Wolf, it would be a bad day for those of us who lived through that day, but it would be bad for the country and democracy, right? I saw firsthand the violence that, of course, ended up in one police officer dead, several of whom have taken their own lives because of the trauma after the riot and the insurrection, and of, course 160 others brutally beaten, many of whom still have terrible injuries as a result of that.

But I'm also really concerned about the message that it sends to political extremists around the country. We are in an age of rising political extremism that's becoming more violent as months go by. The message this would send would be awful and really would undermine our public safety.

BLITZER: And as you know, at the same time, House Speaker Johnson is facing the threat of an ouster as he plans to break up foreign aid and pass separate bills for Israel and Ukraine. If it comes to that, would you vote to save Johnson?

CROW: I don't know. We have to see whether it does come to that. What I do know is that the national security of the United States relies on us passing this bill to support Ukraine, to make sure that we're addressing the holistic array of massive threats that our country is facing right now.

There's actually a very easy way for us to do that. We can vote for the bipartisan Senate bill that passed with 70 votes in the Senate, and it would go directly to the president and we could turn that aid back on.

And I'm far less concerned about the inside baseball and who gets to keep their leadership position and how gets ousted than I am about lives that are at stake here. I have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know what it's like to be on the frontlines and to feel like you have been forgotten and no one is having your back.

I talked today from my office, I Zoomed in with a bunch of Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the front lines while they were hiding in their bunker. And I can tell you, their morale is very low. So, we need to have their back. We need get this done.

BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the details of these possible plans, but would you vote for a Ukraine bill if it's structured as a loan, which some Republicans are recommending? Would you accept an Israel bill, if doesn't include humanitarian aid for the Palestinians in Gaza?

CROW: Well, first of all, we just have to get the aid to Ukraine, and there's a way to do that. Like I just said, have a bipartisan way do to that. If that bill were put on the floor today, it would pass overwhelmingly. If the Republicans are not willing to do that, then, yes, we have figure out alternatives and figure what machination of different bills we can actually get over the finish line.

And with respect to humanitarian aid in Gaza, I have long said that we cannot support military operations, offensive capabilities, unless we address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza right now. There's 1.1 million Palestinians who are on the verge of famine. That is a morally untenable situation. We have to save those lives. We to have get a surge of aid to those folks. But it's also a national security threat.

So, if the intent of this bill is to address national the security of the United States, we certainly are undermining that if we don't meet these very catastrophic humanitarian crisis around the world of which Gaza is one, Sudan is another, and Haiti is yet another.


BLITZER: Yes, these are huge, huge decisions. Congressman Jason Crow, thanks so much for joining us.

CROW: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, our own Anderson Cooper will join us live from Israel where the country's war cabinet is debating how to respond to that recent attack by Iran, as we learn new details on how the U.S. expects Israel to hit back.


BLITZER: The Middle East is on edge tonight as Israel weighs a response to Iran's unprecedented missile and drone attack over the weekend. A source telling CNN the U.S. expects a limited Israeli strike potentially inside Iran.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is joining us live from Tel Aviv right now. Anderson, this reporting comes as Israel's war cabinet, as you all know, met today for a fifth time. What's the latest?


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yeah, they meant for more than five hours today. No stated resolution from what came out of this the fifth meeting, as you know, there are divisions on that war council competing -- competing visions of what they're kind of response should be.

The timetable, of course, is a question and also what would at any target be, but Israeli officials, we heard from the chief of staff of the army the other day who said that there will be response. The question is when and what sort. Obviously, you know, there are, a lot, of people waiting with a lot of concern about what is going to happen here and what the Iranian response would be if there was a direct attack on Iran by Israel.

BLITZER: Anderson, does Israel still have the support of western nations when it comes to their likely response to Iran?

COOPER: Well, as you know, President Biden had reportedly told Netanyahu over the weekend after -- after the unsuccessful Iranian attack to essentially take the win that, that Israel had and had said that the U.S. would not be supporting any retaliatory strike. That has sort of been echoed by a number of European leaders who have certainly urge -- publicly urge restraint in terms of just essentially echoing Biden saying, take, take the win.

Of course, if Iran did respond to any retaliatory strike by Israel, there obviously would need to be support from the U.S. and other coalition partners in order to try to strike down some of the those Iranian missiles again.

BLITZER: It's a very, very delicate, dangerous moment right now.

Anderson Cooper joining us from Tel Aviv, Anderson, thanks very much.

And to our viewers, be sure to watch Anderson later tonight, a little bit more than an hour or so from now on his program "AC360", 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And coming up, a major university abruptly canceled a graduation speech by its valedictorian. The school says it's over a security risks. Why the student says it's because of racist hatred.



BLITZER: Tonight, the Anti-Defamation League is warning of disturbing rise in antisemitic hate here in the United States, reaching a new high in 2023. CNN'S Brian Todd has more on the report for us.

Brian's it also appears to be part of a very disturbing trend.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, the ADL has been tracking antisemitism in America for 45 years, and the group tells us it's never seen anything like this, they say the upward trend of these incidents started well before October 7, but that the Israel-Hamas war has put the level of vitriol in the on a different plane.


TODD (voice-over): Outside a D.C. synagogue, a man is arrested for allegedly attacking one congregant and menacing others.

RABBI HYIM SHAFNER, KESHER ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE, WASHINGTON, D.C.: He was yelling gas the Jews, and spraying this bad-smelling bas, I guess a spray.

TODD: That incident in December, part of an alarming spike in antisemitic incidents in the U.S. last year, documented in a new audit released by the Anti-Defamation League.

The ADL tracked 8,873 antisemitic incidents in 2023, more than double the previous year's record of nearly 3,700.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: We have never ever seen anything like this, keeping in mind that in four out of the past five years, the numbers have reached record highs. And yet in 2023, we blew away all previous tallies.

TODD: And the numbers jumped dramatically in October, which is when the war between Hamas and Israel began. During the same general period, create America has seen a disturbing spike in Islamophobic incidents as well.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, telling us how attacks and harassment against Muslims in the U.S. have skyrocketed since the Israel-Hamas war started.

HUSSAM AYLOUSH, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS, L.A.: Since October 7th, I can tell you at every CAIR office, you know, including our own here in Los Angeles area, we've seen a spike of almost four times, three to four times, the number of incidents, hate incidents.

TODD: The tension often festering on college campuses. CAIR's Los Angeles branch is condemning a decision by the University of Southern California to cancel the graduation speech of undergraduate valedictorian Asna Tabassum, who's Muslim and holds pro-Palestinian views.

USC's provost says, the decision was related to security risks, which he didn't specify. Tabassum had come under criticism over a link she posted in her Instagram bio to a website about Palestine that says, quote, Zionism is a racist settler colonial ideology. CAIR says what Tabassum did was not antisemitic and in an interview

with CNN, she said the university taught her to stand up for her beliefs.

ASNA TABASSUM, 2024 VALEDICTORIAN, USC: I personally don't think it's inflammatory and I stand by human rights and I continue to. That's not something I'm going to apologize for.

TODD: In recent months, several of America's top universities have come under intense scrutiny, often accused of allowing free speech to cross over into hate speech. It's led to the resignation of school presidents at places like Harvard and Penn.

JACOB WARE, CO-AUTHOR, "GOD, GUNS, AND SEDITION": With that divided, with that polarized, we have that hardware time coming to any kind of middle ground on any issue. I think a lot of this issue comes from people believing that only their side has a righteous cause. Only their side has anything to offer as a victim in any way.


TODD (on camera): College campuses will be again, under scrutiny tomorrow when the president of Columbia University and other school officials there will testify before a house committee that is looking into antisemitism on campus. That committee had previously heard from a student at Columbia who described attacks on Jewish students there. They the school issued a statement to CNN saying that anti-Semitism is antithetical to the schools values, and that it is committed to combating it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, we'll watch what happens tomorrow. Thank you very much.


And we'll be right back with more news.


BLITZER: New developments tonight, House Republicans have just delivered two impeachment articles against the Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to the U.S. Senate. Mayorkas was narrowly impeached in February in the House, the first time that's happened to a cabinet secretary in nearly 150 years, Republicans accuse Mayorkas of mismanaging the southern border, a charge that department of homeland security rejects and one Democrats say is politically motivated, the Democratically-controlled Senate is expected to dismiss the case quickly or hold a speedy trial that ends without a conviction.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow, 11:00 a.m. Eastern for CNN NEWSROOM. And then tomorrow night, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Until then, once again, thanks very much for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.