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Tense Campus Protests Over Israel-Hamas War Erupting Across U.S.; Awaiting Judge's Decision On Whether Trump Violated Gag Order; Justices Appear Deeply Divided Over Emergency Abortion Care Case; Biden Signs Bill Providing Crucial U.S. Military Aid To Ukraine. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired April 24, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The running back voluntarily gave up his award from his days at USC after an NCAA investigation found Bush received several thousand dollars in a vehicle, which were not allowed at the time. Bush said the NCAA defamed him and that he was not paid to play football at USC. Now, 2024, college athletes can receive compensation for their name, image and likeness.

I'll be back with you tomorrow for CNN special coverage as the U.S. Supreme Court hears the Donald Trump immunity battle case. We're live in the morning, beginning at 9:00 Eastern on CNN and streaming on Max. There's another case, too, in Manhattan. We'll cover that, too.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, new protests erupt across college campuses here in the United States as student demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas War are growing and spreading. We're tracking the rising tensions, the confrontations with police, and the political fallout.

Also tonight, the judge in Donald Trump's hush money trial could decide any time if the former president violated his gag order and whether he should be punished. We're standing by for a potential ruling, and looking ahead to the next critical testimony against Trump.

And the U.S. Supreme Court hears another historic abortion rights case triggering protests and apparently dividing the justices. We're going to tell you what's at stake as there's also breaking news from Arizona on abortion. The statehouse there just voted to repeal a very controversial Civil War era ban.

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 breaking news, the very angry backlash on college campuses across the United States over the death and destruction in Gaza and the U.S. response to the Israel-Hamas War, student protests intensifying from California to New York.

First, let's go to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's on the scene for us over at Columbia University in New York. Shimon, give us the latest.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the university just updated reporters in a press briefing saying that, first, they wanted to knock down baseless rumors that, for whatever reason had gotten started, that the National Guard would be moving into the school to remove the encampment. They say that's not true.

They also say that some of the tents that the protesters had built in the encampment have been removed and therefore they say they're going to continue to talk and continue the dialogue for 48 hours. They're hoping to bring this to a peaceful resolution.


PROKUPECZ (voice over): Tense pro-Palestinian demonstrations erupt on college campuses across the U.S. Police clash with students at University of Southern California and University of Texas in Austin on Wednesday. At U.T. Austin, Texas State Troopers in riot gear broke up a group of protesters who organized a walkout. At USC, pushing and shouting ensued as crowds lined the streets.

The escalation follows a week-long protest at Columbia University where demonstrators set up large encampments and more than 100 students were arrested earlier this week for trespassing. The emotions are high as University President Minouche Shafik extended a deadline for negotiations 48 hours with student organizers over dismantling the encampment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty disheartening to see all this on campus. I will say I think a lot of people are misguided.

PROKUPECZ: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators demanding Colombia cut all financial ties with Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our plan is to be here until the university divest disclosed and provides amnesty for all.

PROKUPECZ: You can see there are at least 50 to 75 tents that remain here. Many of the students who are part of this movement have been sleeping in these tents, have been eating here, adding pressure to the situation, House Speaker Mike Johnson visited campus on Wednesday, meeting with Jewish students and calling on the university president to resign.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): I'm here today joining my colleagues and calling on President Shafik to resign if she cannot immediately bring order to this chaos,

Enjoy your free speech.

PROKUPECZ: For months, Republican lawmakers have called on numerous university leaders to resign as they held congressional hearings on the handling of anti-Semitism on college campuses. While most protests have been nonviolent, some Jewish students at Columbia are expressing concern for their safety. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The anti-Semitic comments and activity is running rampant.

PROKUPECZ: People are saying that there's some of the stuff that's coming out that is anti-Semitic or it's anti -- against Jews.


I mean, is that a fair representation?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do not think it's a fair representation of the encampment, but that doesn't diminish at all how terrible and unneeded, unwanted and how much it should not exist, the anti-Semitism anywhere in the entire world.

PROKUPECZ: Columbia University recently shifted to hybrid classes due to safety concerns, now allowing the option to attend class and take final exams remotely through the end of the semester.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's making it harder to. Go to classes and everything. I mean, things are switching to be remote.

PROKUPECZ: Last week, when students were arrested at Columbia, some Democrats, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, condemned university officials for involving police. She said on X, calling in police enforcement on nonviolent demonstrations of young students on campus is an escalatory, reckless and dangerous act. Some Republicans, like Senator Tom Cotton, said there should be more police intervention on campus.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): These university presidents need to ask the mayor and the chief of police in New York to send in New York City's finest to arrest anyone who's breaking the law.


PROKUPECZ (on camera): And in Texas, the governor there, Governor Greg Abbott, issuing a statement following the escalation there. We've seen the several arrests being made saying that those protesters belong in jail. He also said that these protesters who are chanting anti- Semitism, quite clearly, anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in Texas, period. And that students joining in the hate-filled anti-Semitic protests of any public college or university in Texas should be expelled.

In Texas, things for now calm, but it's certainly an escalation that is probably going to draw even more protests. Because like here on Columbia, one of the things that students are protesting is the activity of police on their campuses.

BLITZER: Shimon Prokupecz reporting from Columbia University in New York, Shimon, thank you very much.

I want to go to CNN's Nick Watt right now. He's over in Los Angeles covering the protest over at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Nick, we've seen clashes there between student demonstrators and the police. What's happening right now?

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Those clashes earlier resulted in an arrest. And in that, protester was actually released after the crowd were chanting, let him go, let him go. And LAPD detectives decided that it wasn't worth keeping him in custody because that was really inflaming the situation.

Now, just in the past few minutes, campus security have donned their helmets and have formed this line back from the park where the protest is.

Dave, if we pull over here, you can see how close they are to the protest. You can maybe also hear LAPD choppers in the air. Just off campus, there are dozens of LAPD cruisers waiting in case they are needed.

We also just heard from the provost, Wolf, who said that they believe a lot of outside elements have come in and have caused that chaos that we saw earlier on today. I have certainly seen on social media outside organizations asking people to come down here.

So, what the college has done is they've closed all the gates. They're saying, if you want to get in, you will need a USC I.D., because they want to keep this as small as possible.

Now, this morning, when it got ugly, it wasn't that big of a protest. Since then, as it's been peaceful and calmer, the numbers have been growing and growing and growing. And there is, of course, a fear that it's going to get out of hand. There aren't that many of these campus officers and there are a lot of protesters.

Now, I've spoken to some Jewish students who have been trying to prepare for their finals walking by, and, yes, they don't feel great about hearing, you know, Intifada revolution, Intifada is the only solution. That's troubling for them on their campus.

But this protest very passionate and they say, in solidarity with what's going on at Columbia and around the rest of the country, and they say that they are not leaving.

So, there is going to come a point where the desires of the protesters and the rules of the college will clash. The protesters say they're not going to go anywhere. The college says, well, you can't stay here forever. So. a little bit of a lull right now, a tense lull as we wait to see what happens. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Nick Watt in Los Angeles for us, we'll stay in touch with you. Thank you.

Here in Washington, meanwhile, the campus protests are putting even more pressure on President Biden over his policy when it comes to the Israel-Hamas War.

CNN's M.J. Lee is over at the White House for us. M.J., what's the Biden administration's response to these demonstrations across the country?

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for starters, unlike House Speaker Johnson, we do not expect President Biden to be making a visit to Columbia University on Friday when he is in New York City. I am told that even inside the White House and the campaign, there have been no discussions about that kind of a campus visit for the president.


And that decision really is an extension of the broader strategy that we have seen inside the White House and the campaign when it comes to responding to the backlash that we have seen to the Israel-Hamas War.

One senior White House official that I spoke with said that there has been no sense that the Gaza situation is sort of an existential problem for the Biden presidency or his re-election chances. And I'm also told that the president has been mostly driven by really wanting to get to a good policy outcome when it comes to this conflict and less sort of about the political implications here at home.

And when we have heard White House officials in recent days talk about these kinds of scenes of protests on college campuses, we've seen them on the one hand trying to express support for the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression, but also condemning any kind of violence in these protests.

Here is the White House press secretary earlier today.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president believes that free speech debate and non discrimination on college campuses are important. They're important American values. The protests must be peaceful. You know, students must be safe. When we see violent rhetoric, we have to call that out.


LEE: Now, none of this is to say that the White House is not incredibly sensitive to, has concerns about these kinds of protests and the backlash, but even when White House officials in recent weeks have tried to meet with Muslim and Arab community leaders, at times, even those attempts at such meetings have prompted calls for boycotts, just another reminder of how fraught this whole issue has been for this White House to navigate. Wolf?

BLITZER: M.J. Lee at the White House for us, M.J., thank you very much.

Just ahead, We're awaiting the judge's ruling on whether Donald Trump violated a gag order in his criminal hush money trial. Stand by. We'll get new information for you.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is awaiting a ruling on whether he violated his gag order in the hush money criminal trial. The judge could reveal his decision at any time.

CNN's Kara Scannell is following it all for us. She's joining us from New York. Right now, Kara, tell us more about what we expect to happen in the hours ahead.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are waiting for the judge to rule on whether Donald Trump violated the gag order in this case. And the gag order involves statements that prosecutors say Trump made up against one of their witnesses, Michael Cohen.

Well, tonight, Michael Cohen is saying that he will no longer make any comments about Donald Trump on social media or on his podcast. He's saying, out of respect for the judge and the prosecutors, he said he will be back, he said, in a month or more after he testifies in this case, but still waiting to see where the judge is going to come down on this.

Now, meanwhile, tomorrow morning, David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, will be back on the witness stand. On Tuesday, he set the jury up into what the prosecutors say was this conspiracy involving David Pecker, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen when they hatched this plan to catch and kill any negative stories about the president, Donald Trump, while he was running for office in the 2016 campaign.

Now, tomorrow, he is expected to be back on the stand, and he will continue to tell the jury about one of these deals, that one involving the former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, and then ultimately the third catch and kill deal, the one at the core of this case involving Stormy Daniels.

After his testimony is completed by the prosecutors, then Donald Trump's lawyers will have a chance to begin their cross-examination of him. That could be as soon as tomorrow afternoon. Wolf?

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

I want to bring in our legal and political experts right now. And, Michael Moore, let me start with you. Just before yesterday's hearing, Trump actually gave an interview to CNN-affiliate WPVI and said this. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Michael Cohn is a convicted liar, and he's got no credibility whatsoever. He was a lawyer, and you rely on your lawyers.


BLITZER: How do you expect the judges going to react to this apparent violation of the of the order that the judge imposed? MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, I'm glad to be with you. He cannot help himself, apparently. I mean, that just seems to be the norm for him. And so right after you have this rather contentious hearing, the judge had his tempers flared up a little bit, I think, and his lawyer for him to then come on and make those kind of comments, I think, does nothing but make his lawyer's job that much more difficult.

But the problem is, is that the judge has such limited punishment that he can impose. And so he's got to sort of decide how hard do I want to go now and how long is this going to go. He's got to maintain control of the courtroom, certainly in the process as we go on. It's going to be a long process.

But I also suggest that he may, he may come down and say, I find these things to have been a violation. He's continuing to violate some of these others that are alleged, may not get there in the order.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, Ankush. Ankush Khardori is with us as well. The maximum fine that the judge potentially could impose against Trump for violating this gag order is about 10,000, hardly a lot of money for Trump. So what is the point of this?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It appears to be to try to impose some sort of deterrent effect on him, even in a limited capacity. It doesn't seem like it will be that effective. It's not that much money.

So, I think the D.A.'s office should be thinking about a couple of other things potentially here, one of which they already identified last week, which is if Trump keeps it up, they're going to stop telling him which witnesses they're calling on which days, which will make it hard for his defense lawyers to prepare.

And, two, I wouldn't be surprised that the D.A.'s office puts all of these tweets or truths or whatever into evidence of the trial, right, when Trump takes a stand or after the close of their case and say, look, this man was on trial. Here's what he was doing while you were serving on this jury. He was tweeting about people. He was lying about there being a Democratic plot to take him down.


He was lying about you. He was promoting people like Jesse Waters who have been trying to out you. All this stuff can come in. It's all admissions.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll see what happens in that front. You know, it's interesting, Gloria, the Secret Service has actually discussed what to do if the judge in this particular case were to actually jail Trump.


BLITZER: How do you think that would play?

BORGER: Yes. First of all, I don't think that's going to happen. And, secondly, I think it would play right into Donald Trump's hands. You know, you put him in jail, he says this is a political prosecution, they're jailing me and meanwhile Michael Cohen is able to say anything he wants about me.

And, by the way, it's interesting that Michael Cohen is now going to zip his account because I'm sure his lawyers got to him and said, you know, you've got to stop this. But I think putting Donald Trump in jail would be a big mistake. And I just I don't see any way that's going to happen as a result of a gag order.

BLITZER: Most of the people we've been speaking to agree with you totally. We'll see what the judge does decide.

BORGER: It's not a hard decision.

BLITZER: He could decide at any time what the punishment should be.

In addition to all of this, as you know, Michael, David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, he will be back on the witness stand tomorrow morning. What else do prosecutors want to get from him?

MOORE: They really need to continue to build their story around the idea that Cohen is not responsible for this. That's right, that this is Trump's doing. Trump is pulling the strings, Trump is the puppet master, or at least is a key player in this conspiracy, in this deal.

So, they're going to work. I think this maybe address what will be defense arguments that it's somebody else that is really Cohen who was the fixer and that Trump was merely a CEO and was just overseeing and signing checks.

They'll try to talk more about these meetings, about this recording. They'll do those things, and then you know, hopefully they will maybe get from David Pecker more information about why this was unique as opposed to something that was normal, and as we talk about Trump's case and the effort to help his campaign as opposed to just doing checkbook media, that this had a different level of involvement, a different purpose, that purpose being to interfere with the election.

BLITZER: Ankush, I'm curious, what do you think the Trump legal defense team is going to try to do to help their client?

KHARDORI: With David Pecker, I mean, I think, honestly, their best defense on this front is, I mean, they will do anything they can to diminish Trump's personal involvement, to try to uncross, to try to limit Pecker's testimony.

But the fact of the matter is like the catch and kill scheme is not the core of criminal conduct that's at issue here. The core criminal conduct is everything that follows it concerning the payment to Stormy Daniels and how, in particular, how those payments were booked internally on Trump's books and why, how and why those payments were booked.

So, I expect that Todd Blanche and Trump's lawyers, to the extent they have already even previewed this a little bit, to say, this is largely irrelevant. This case is actually about a small thing. Most of this stuff you don't even need to pay attention to.

BORGER: You know, look, I think what they're going to try and do is obviously -- you know, we're going to be talking about Karen McDougal. We're going to be talking about Stormy Daniels. And they're going to try and say, you know, Donald Trump wasn't really involved in this. This is all Michael Cohen's doing. And Michael Cohen was the fixer and took it upon himself to try and protect this man.

What's interesting to me, and I don't know the answer to this question, is why haven't they attacked Mr. Pecker? Donald Trump has not attacked David Pecker. And I think it may be because he feels that Pecker still has a little bit of power over him, you know, that there's a lot of stuff that Pecker knows that maybe he's not talking about. But Donald Trump has attacked everybody else but he's left David Pecker alone, which I think is kind of curious.

MOORE: You certainly don't want to do more harm, right? As they think about cross-examining, they think about taking on Pecker, you don't want to do more harm than that, so you may be right.

BORGER: Yes, it's interesting.

BLITZER: You make a good point. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, the other consequential case looming over Donald Trump with the U.S. Supreme Court preparing to hear arguments tomorrow on his claim of presidential immunity from the federal January 6th case.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump's fight for sweeping presidential immunity from criminal prosecution is about to go before the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices set to take up the high-stakes case tomorrow morning.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at all of this for us. Brian, set the stage for us ahead of these historic arguments.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it boils down to this. The special counsel, Jack Smith, is arguing that Donald Trump has never been above the law. Trump's lawyers argue that what he did to try to overturn the election results was part of his official duties as president, and he shouldn't be prosecuted.


TRUMP: Presidents have to be given total immunity. They have to be allowed to do their job. TODD (voice over): In arguing that he has presidential immunity, Donald Trump says if former presidents could be criminally prosecuted for official acts they took as president, that threat would loom over everything presidents do.

TRUMP: They have to make decisions and they have to make them free of all terror that can be reigned upon them when they leave office or even before they leave office.

TODD: Trump is making that argument before the Supreme Court in the January 6th election subversion case brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith, who counters Trump's argument by saying no one is above the law.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The idea that somebody can commit crimes in the Oval Office and then in perpetuity for the rest of their life escape all accountability is inimical to American law and the Constitution.


TODD: The Supreme Court has barred civil lawsuits against a former president.

Their life, escape all accountability is inimical to American law and the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has barred civil lawsuits against a former president for official acts while in the White House, but hasn't addressed whether criminal charges can be filed. President Richard Nixon tried to invoke limited presidential immunity over judicial orders in 1974, when he tried to avoid handing over his White House tapes to the special counsel investigating the Watergate scandal. He didn't try to invoke immunity over criminal prosecution. The Supreme Court ruled Nixon had to turn the tapes over.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: When the Supreme Court decided that he had to turn over the tapes, Richard Nixon stopped making the argument that somehow they were protected by immunity or executive privilege. He turned them over.

TODD: And those tapes contained evidence that Nixon was involved in the Watergate cover up. Shortly after handing the tapes over, Nixon was out.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

TODD: In this case, Trump argues his actions after the 2020 election were all part of his official duties as president.

TRUMP: We found tremendous voter fraud, determinative voter fraud, but we worked on that. That's what I was doing.

TODD: Jack Smith disputes that, saying Trump was working to overturn the legitimate results where Joe Biden won and he lost. A Supreme Court victory for Trump, absolute blanket immunity, could help him in at least one other criminal case as well.

PROF. ALAN MORRISON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: It could very well end the Georgia case as to him or at least cut it down significantly. It has no impact, in my judgment, on the Mar-a-Lago case because everything he has been charged with occurred after January 21st, 2021.

TODD: And even if he doesn't get a clean win at the Supreme Court, Trump could get a partial win.

MORRISON: The court could say that some of his actions are official and they have to send it back to the lower court. Trump would love to have this go back to the lower court because his principal weapon now is delay.


TODD (on camera): Even if prosecutor Jack Smith wins at the Supreme Court and can proceed with his case, he likely will have lost valuable time. The court may not rule on Trump's immunity claim until late June. And if that happens, there may not be enough time to start Trump's January 6th trial before the election. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much, Brian Todd reporting.

Let's turn back to our experts right now. I want to also bring in CNN Legal Analyst Steve Vladeck.

And, Steve, the federal appeals court resoundingly rejected Trump's legal team's argument about presidential immunity, including the idea that they made that a president of the United States could even order SEAL Team 6 to assassinate his political rival. Let's listen to that moment. This is from a lower court. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could a president order SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? That's an official act in order to SEAL Team 6.

D. JOHN SAUER, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He would have to be, and would speedily be, you know, impeached and convicted.


BLITZER: So, how do you expect the Supreme Court to approach this very historic and sensitive case tomorrow?

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Hey, Wolf. I think the real question for the justices is actually less about former President Trump's conduct and more about hypotheticals involving former presidents who may have crossed lines where the justices are more sympathetic to the idea that there shouldn't be a criminal prosecution. So, I think we're going to hear a lot tomorrow about cases real or hypothetical other than January 6th and the justices trying to figure out if there's an easy and obvious way to put the charges against former President Trump on the non-immunity side of the line while either recognizing that there's some immunity for former presidents or, Wolf, leaving them out for a future case where it comes up. I suspect we're going to hear a lot about that tomorrow.

BLITZER: Interesting. Ankush, the Supreme Court could have resolved this a while ago. You wrote this today. Let me put it up on the screen. This is what you wrote. Even if Trump ultimately loses at the high court, that delay may already have provided him with a de facto form of immunity since he could easily escape judgment before the election. So, why do you think the Supreme Court decided to prolong this issue by taking on this case?

KHARDORI: Well, look, I think the the generous interpretation in some quarters is that this is a serious case, very consequential, we need to resolve it, et cetera, et cetera. I don't see it that way. I think this case should have been resolved quickly. The D.C. Circuit's opinion, which was thorough and compelling, should have been quickly affirmed.

Why is this happening? I think it is hard for me at least and I think many veteran court watchers to resist the idea that there are some politics at play here, that perhaps the conservative justices or a faction, a contingent of the conservative justices, would be quite content for this trial not to happen for Election Day and potentially never.

BLITZER: What do you see as the political fallout from all of this?

BORGER: Well, I mean, never have we seen a Supreme Court since Bush- Gore so involved in the outcome of a presidential election. And they're taking their time. Bush-Gore was decided after the arguments within a few days.


This is a court that has delayed.

And as Ankush was saying, they could have accepted the appeals court ruling, which was well-reasoned and thought out, and they decided not to. And so now they have a problem on their hands, because whatever they do is going to be viewed through a political lens.

And they could send it back to that court and say, you know, you guys work it out about what's an official act and what isn't an official act. And that could delay this case even more, so you would have no chance of seeing any resolution before the election.

BLITZER: Interesting. You know, Steve, you're the Supreme Court expert. Knowing the court could take until June to rule on this issue of presidential immunity, do you think Trump's federal election interference case could be tried before the November election? VLADECK: You know, Wolf, I think every day that passes makes it a little bit harder, and I think probably the most important thing about tomorrow's oral argument is something we won't know tomorrow, which is how fast are the justices going to turn around a decision?

It's possible. It could go until late June when the justices rise for their summer recess. It's possible that even though the court didn't act as quickly as we might have wanted it to, it's still willing to act quickly now. And maybe we get a decision, perhaps by Memorial Day.

I think we're really going to have to figure that out only in retrospect. The question to watch for tomorrow is how much are the justices focused on the specific allegations against former President Trump, and how much are they thinking about handing down some kind of broader rule going forward? I think that's going to be the real key that dictates how fast we get a ruling on the far end.

BLITZER: Yes, lots going on, guys. Thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, breaking news out of Arizona right now, lawmakers voting again to repeal the state's Civil War era abortion ban.

Plus, we'll go inside today's Supreme Court arguments over abortion access with two conservative justices emerging as key votes.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news out of Arizona right now. The statehouse just voted to overturn a Civil War-era abortion ban that was revived by the Arizona Supreme Court in a very controversial ruling that got national attention. This paves the way for Arizona, potentially, to return to a 15-week limit on abortions. A state Senate vote is expected next week.

This comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is now weighing a case focusing in on emergency abortion care, as CNN's Paula Reid reports.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Today, the Supreme Court heard another historic case on abortion as protesters on both sides of the issue gathered out front.

High-stakes hearing focused on Idaho's abortion ban and how it applies in medical emergencies. The state allows exceptions when the life of a mother is at risk, but the Biden administration sued the state arguing that federal law requires the state to allow the procedure if it is needed to stabilize a patient, even when the mother's condition is not yet life threatening.

Joshua Turner argued for the state and faced a barrage of medical hypotheticals from the liberal justices.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: All of these cases are rare, but within these rare cases, there's a significant number where the woman is -- her life is not in peril, but she's going to lose her reproductive organs. She's going to lose the ability to have children in the future unless an abortion takes place.

REID: Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined her liberal colleagues in pressing Turner on the state's position and how it leaves doctors open to prosecution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they were exercising their medical judgment, they could in good faith determine that life saving care was necessary. And that's my point is, it's a subjective standard --

JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT, U.S. SUPREME COURT: But some doctors couldn't. Some doctors might reach a contrary conclusion, I think, is what Justice Sotomayor is asking you. So, if they reached the conclusion that the legislature's doctors did, would they be prosecuted under Idaho law?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. If they reached the conclusion that the Dr. Reynolds, Dr. White did, that these were life --

BARRETT: What if the prosecutor thought differently? What if the prosecutor thought, well, I don't think any good faith doctor could draw that conclusion, I'm going to put on my expert?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that, Your Honor, is the nature of prosecutorial discretion.

REID: Justice Barrett and Chief Justice John Roberts had tough questions for both sides and could end up being the swing votes that determine the outcome.

Elizabeth Prelogar argued for the government that Idaho is subject to a federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act or EMTALA.

ELIZABETH PRELOGAR, U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: In Idaho, doctors have to shut their eyes to everything except death, whereas under EMTALA, you're supposed to be thinking about things like, is she about to lose her fertility? Is her uterus going to become incredibly scarred because of the bleeding? Is she about to undergo the possibility of kidney failure?

REID: She faced questions from conservatives about how to protect unborn children.

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Have you seen abortion statutes that use the phrase, unborn child? Doesn't that tell us something?

PRELOGAR: It tells us that Congress wanted to expand the protection for pregnant women so that they could get the same duties to screen and stabilize when they have a condition that's threatening the health and well being of the unborn child.

REID: Retired Justice Stephen Breyer has warned that the court will likely see more cases like this in the wake of its decision to overturn Roe.

STEPHEN BREYER, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The majority thinks it's going to turn the whole issue over to the legislatures of states and we'll never have to deal with it again. Oh, really? This is not going to work well.


REID (on camera): A decision in this case is expected in late June, right in the middle of the presidential race.

Now, since Roe was overturned, this has become an issue that has really helped galvanize Democratic voters.


So, Wolf, depending on how they decide here, this is a decision that could potentially have an impact on the presidential race.

BLITZER: You're absolutely right. Paula Reid reporting for us -- Paula, thank you.

Joining us now, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, Alexis McGill Johnson.

Alexis, thanks so much for joining us.

The court seems, seems deeply divided over this case. Do you think they will uphold the federal law for emergency care? And what are you break -- excuse me. What are you bracing for it if they don't?

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT & CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, I think that the question is, why are they so deeply divided? This seems like such a clear case of being able to get access to emergency care when you walk into any room, that should be expectation of every patient walking into an emergency room. It should be the expectation of every provider being able to make common sense judgments to save the lives or stabilize patients even if that includes abortion care, because abortion is also health care.

And I think the fact that they are divided when the -- you know, when you could hear the attorney Bernie describing that essentially, EMTELA is already not law in Idaho. They're flying patients out to get access to a care. It just seems like just kind of ridiculous moment that we are.

BLITZER: Justice Kagan laid out the impact Idaho's abortion ban is already having in the state's largest emergency room. Listen to this.


JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The hospital that has the greatest emergency room services in Idaho has just in the few months that this it has been in place had to airlift six pregnant women to neighboring states, whereas in the prior year, they did one the entire year. It's become transfer is the appropriate standard of care in Idaho, but

it can't be the right standard of care to force somebody onto a helicopter.


BLITZER: Alexis, help us better understand the reality on the ground in states like Idaho, just how difficult has it become for women to get emergency reproductive care?

MCGILL JOHNSON: Well, I think that Justice Kagan is making the point that these abortion bans have already made pregnancy more dangerous. And when you have complications, the ability of emergency providers and hospitals to actually get access in the immediate to patients that they need is, you know, they essentially have to call lawyers and administrators before they do that.

We know that in Idaho there have been labor and delivery wards that have closed down. And as she referred to as they've had to resort to airlifting patients out of state once a week. They said they are sending patients at the state and this is from the attorney that was arguing the case today.

The real implication, right, is that you have providers who have to second guess for how they treat pregnant people that walk into the emergency rooms for their care. And the implications of what that means, right, not just for the life of the parent, but for the pregnancy itself and for future fertility, you know, to hear the justices argued about the impact to organs -- how many organs being impacted is enough for you to provide a standard of care really should be shocking to us all. And that's really what this case is about. The right to let patients die and we should all be deeply concerned about what they've taken up here.

BLITZER: Alexis McGill Johnson, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: And coming up, new details on when a new round of foreign aid that actually get to where its needed most all of this was unfold after President Biden today signed a bipartisan bill into law.



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is vowing to rush critical, crucial new military assistance to Ukraine now that he signed a huge new foreign aid bill after fighting long and hard with Republicans in Congress to get it passed.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm making sure the shipment start right away in the next few hours, literally, a few hours, we really began sending him equipment to Ukraine for air defense munitions for artillery, for rocket systems and armored vehicles.


BLITZER: Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Oren Liebermann.

Oren, how badly does Ukraine need this U.S. military assistance?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Ukraine's military needed this weeks ago, if not long before that, and over the course of the past several weeks and months, we have seen Ukraine cede their own territory to Russian forces as they have been out fired on the front the lines by artillery and have run low on critical air defense munitions that would have allowed them to withstand these Russian aerial barrage of drones and missiles.

So, this 1 billion package fills those gaps and allows them to plug those shortages with artillery ammunition including high explosive and cluster munition, rockets for the HIMARS systems, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and much more that will allow them to more effectively fight back against Russian forces that have made gradual advances. But those advances, of course, add up over weeks and months of warfare.

It's not the only announcement coming out of the Pentagon today, however. The Pentagon also saying that the U.S. secretly provided long range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. It was Biden himself who gave him a directive in February to figure out a way to send the missiles to Ukraine. They have a range of nearly 200 miles and can hit a precision target. The directive is still to make sure Ukraine uses these to hit Russian targets in Ukraine. But Ukraine's military and Russian -- and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have long requested these missiles.

So after the directive came from Biden, the Pentagon quietly included them in an aid package last month that was worth $300 million and they arrived in Ukraine earlier this month.


So critical announcements for Ukraine, not only that $1 billion aid package, but that they now have and they are able to use these long- range missiles and more will be coming. We have learned in this latest aid package. So critical announcements for Ukraine as the war stretches well past the two-year mark now.

BLITZER: Now very important indeed. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

Coming up, news today on something you need to know if you're planning to get on an airplane later this year.


BLITZER: Tonight, frustrated flyers stand to gain from new rules announced today by the Biden administration. Airlines are now required to give passengers an automatic cash refund if they make a significant change to your flight including a long delay or a cancellation. Airlines also are now under orders to more clearly disclosed, so- called junk fees, like surprise costs associated with baggage or a flight change.

Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow 1:00 p.m. Eastern for special live coverage of the Trump hush money trial.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.