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The Situation Room

CNN Exclusive Interview, Biden On Decision To Pause Bombs To Israel; Biden Calls Out Trump Over An Economic Failure In Key Swing State; House Kills Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's (R-GA) Effort To Oust Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA); U.N.: 50,000 Flee Rafah As Israeli Military Operations Ramp Up; Tornadoes Leave Trail Of Destruction In Michigan. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 08, 2024 - 18:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, but Johnson surviving this, and we do expect Johnson to address this also, Jake, in a matter of minutes.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes. All right, Manu Raju, thank you so much. Breaking news, very exciting.

And coming up in just a few minutes, of course, we're going to have more of CNN's Erin Burnett and her exclusive interview with President Biden. She's going to show a brand new portion of that exclusive interview next in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. And then, of course, her full interview will air on Erin Burnett out front tonight at 7:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

I'll see you back here on The Lead tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 P.M. Eastern. Here's Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, an exclusive new CNN interview with President Joe Biden. He's explaining the decision to pause some U.S. bomb shipments to Israel as new Israeli military strike around Rafah are raising urgent concerns that many more civilians in Gaza will be killed.

Also tonight, the president is calling out Donald Trump in a crucial swing state, unveiling a new economic investment on the same site where a Trump-backed project failed.

Plus, breaking news up on Capitol Hill right now, the House of Representatives just voted to kill Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene's attempt to oust the speaker, Mike Johnson. The GOP leadership moving swiftly against her motion, despite apparently being caught off guard.

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

We begin this hour with breaking news from President Biden's exclusive new CNN interview. We're about to release a new portion of his conversation with CNN's Erin Burnett. She's in Wisconsin, where the president had events earlier today. Erin is joining us now from Milwaukee with details. Erin, I know you pressed the president on a wide range of topics, including what's going on in Israel and Gaza right now, and the latest on the United States' military support for Israel. Tell us what he said.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, he had a lot to say on Israel, and the bottom line is he was very clear. He said we're walking away from Israel's ability to wage war in population centers, very strong words. He said for Bibi, as he called, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his war cabinet, in terms of this incursion into Rafah that is going on as we speak. Let me just play a crucial part of our conversation for you, Wolf.


BURNETT: I want to ask you about something happening as we sit here and speak, and that, of course, is Israel is striking Rafah. I know that you have paused, Mr. President, shipments of 2,000-pound U.S. bombs to Israel due to concern that they could be used in any offensive on Rafah. Have those bombs, those powerful 2,000-pound bombs, been used to kill civilians in Gaza?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers. I made it clear that if they go into Rafah -- they haven't gone into Rafah yet. If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem.

We're going to continue to make sure. Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks like came out to the in the Middle East recently, but it's just wrong. We're not going to, we're not going to supply the weapons and the artillery shells used that have been used.

BURNETT: Artillery shells as well?

BIDEN: Yes, artillery shells.

BURNETT: So, just to understand what they're doing right now in Rafah, is that not going into Rafah as you demanded?

BIDEN: No, they haven't gotten into the population centers. What they did is right on the border, and it's causing problems with, right now, in terms of with Egypt, which I've worked very hard to make sure we have a relationship and help. But I've made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet, they're not going to get our support if, in fact, they go in these population centers.


BURNETT: Wolf, very significant there what he said, because, obviously, the question that we asked was very direct, have American bombs, those powerful 2000-pound bombs that the Biden administration has now paused a shipment of to Israel, have they been used to kill civilians? And his answer there was very direct. He did not beat around the bush, Wolf. Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs.

And he went on to make it clear that there would be more pauses that the U.S. would not provide weapons to go after these population centers. Of course, Palestinians say that more than 35,000 people have been killed already and saying that artillery shells would also potentially be halted in terms of the shipments if Israel continues here.


So, very strong words from the president and very clearly moving the needle from where he has been on this issue thus far.

BLITZER: Yes, very strong words, very blunt words, indeed.

Erin, what did the president say about getting his overall message, including his economic message to resonate better with voters? He's in Wisconsin, a key battleground state.

BURNETT: So, Wolf, he was here actually for a groundbreaking at a facility that Trump had made huge fanfare. It was a Foxconn deal and Trump had promised 13,000 jobs, really only about a thousand of them have materialized. So, Biden obviously wanted that split screen of coming back to the same place and doing a totally different investment. He says there's going to be 100, 000 people trained in A.I. in this facility. It was a partnership with Microsoft, they were announcing.

But when we talked about the situation with the economy, Wolf, and some of the challenges out there that the persistent inflation, the weak consumer confidence, the economic growth numbers that have fallen far short of expectations, the president was defiant. He acknowledged some of these things, but said that he has done a lot. He has created jobs and was very much sticking with the message that he has had on the economy.

So, Wolf, a lot of very important things we talked about there. Also, though, he talked about the election. He talked about why he thinks he has a much better ground game than Donald Trump in must win states like the one where I am right now, Wisconsin.

Wolf, one thing he said, though, and we'll play the full clip later, but he said that he promises that Donald Trump will not accept the outcome of the election if he loses.

BLITZER: Interesting. Erin Burnett, excellent work as usual, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, you can see all of Erin's exclusive interview with President Biden on Outfront that airs at the top of the hour, 7:00 P.M. Eastern on Erin Burnett Outfront.

Let's get some more on this story. It's an important development. Indeed. I want to bring in our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward. She's joining us live from Jerusalem. We're also joined by our Chief National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt. He's here in Washington.

Alex, let me start with you. Give us some more context on those blunt and very important comments from President Biden that we just heard. What message is the Biden administration sending to the Israeli government?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I think these are very significant comments and could represent a major shift in the level of U.S. support for Israel. You could hear the frustration in President Biden's voice there about how Israel has carried out their campaign in Gaza, what they may intend to do in Rafah. He said it is just wrong.

So, I think the message from the United States tonight could not be clearer, if you are going to go into Rafah into those population centers, we are going to cut you off. And he specified the kinds of weaponry that could be cut off from Israel, those large bombs that are dropped from the sky, the artillery.

He also talked about -- the administration has mentioned today that shipment that was held up in the past few days. Secretary of State Lloyd Austin -- secretary of defense, rather, confirming that these big bombs, 2,000-pounds, 500-pounds bombs that were going to be sent to Israel had been held up, some 3,500 of them. So, this is a significant shift.

The administration making a strong differentiation between offensive and defensive weapons, the threat now that the U.S. could cut off Israel with offensive weaponry, but making clear that they do continue to help Israel defend itself with the Iron Dome system and against the kinds of attacks that we saw from Iran a couple of weeks ago, Wolf.

BLITZER: Important. Clarissa, you're there in Jerusalem for us. So far, are President Biden's words, can you tell, having any impact at all on the Israeli government?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, privately, we're hearing that officials have been voicing some consternation about this. Publicly, they've been more diplomatic and circumspect. We did see the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. on Israeli television calling this decision or this pause very frustrating. He also said it was very disappointing. He acknowledged the political realities that President Biden is facing.

But I think the real question Wolf becomes, does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take this on board? How does he respond to this very clear and very public and very pointed rebuke? Because in the past, we have seen every time the Biden administration tries to take a tougher line with Israel, that hasn't necessarily elicited the response that they would like to see from Benjamin Netanyahu's government.

And we are seeing satellite images, new satellite images, Wolf, coming in that show larger ground operations outside of Rafah, muster areas along the border. We've heard from Israeli officials before that this is also being used -- they're calling it by the way, a sort of surgical counter-terror operation, but we've also heard that this is being used to try to put pressure on Hamas, to try to extract more leverage at the negotiating table.


But no question, this is a crucial time in the relationship between these two close allies, Wolf.

BLITZER: Absolutely right. And Alex, on another extremely sensitive issue right now, the Biden administration, as you know, is facing a deadline to say if Israel is actually violating international law. What's the latest?

MARQUARDT: Well, this is an important report that Secretary of State Antony Blinken is supposed to deliver to Congress determining whether Israel has been following international humanitarian law, whether they've been allowing international aid in. And either way it goes, it could have major ramifications.

If he says that, no, they have been not been following international humanitarian law, then that could have consequences for the kind of military aid that we've been talking about being sent to Israel. But if he says that, yes, they have been following international humanitarian law, there will be howls from Democrats in Congress, from human rights groups, from a growing number of people all across this country who believe that Israel is violating international law.

Now, this report was supposed to come out today. The State Department spokesman said it will happen in the coming days. I spoke with a senior U.S. official who said they want to make clear that this is not just a box-checking exercise, that they are putting a lot of thought into this, and that when they deliver this report, finally, that it has all the proper context to explain the determination that they're making, Wolf.

BLITZER: Alex Marquardt, Clarissa Ward, thanks to both of you very much, an important story indeed.

Just ahead, how President Biden's new remarks to CNN about Israel and the U.S. economy are likely to play with voters. Our political experts are standing by.

Plus, we're going to take you inside the House vote that just stopped Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene in her tracks, killing her bid to try to oust the speaker, Mike Johnson.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news on CNN's exclusive new interview with President Joe Biden. He says the U.S. is pausing some major bomb shipments to Israel out of concern that the weapons would be used to kill civilians in and around Rafah in Southern Gaza, and Israel is now conducting strikes precisely in that area. Let's break all of this down with our political experts. Gloria, will these comments, these latest comments in this exclusive interview with CNN from the president, do anything to calm down the rift that has developed among a lot of Democrats?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: In the Democratic Party? I think it might do a little. The question is how long this lasts, because I think the left in the Democratic Party would want it to last a long time.

You know, this is a very public rebuke from the president of the United States. There have been lots of whispers and lots of private conversations about how the president was worried about what was going to happen in Rafah, but there's been nothing like this. And the president of the United States saying he's stopping these shipments is quite a big step.

The question is, for the left, I think, how long -- and also for the Israelis, how long will this go on for? And we don't know the answer to that yet. The president wants -- made it very clear he wants to protect civilians, and that the Israelis don't have a history of doing that. And I think you could see his frustration in, in his conversation with Erin.

BLITZER: Very blunt, it's not every day the United States pauses in shipping critically needed arms to Israel.

BORGER: To an ally.

BLITZER: Yes, very significant. Ashley Etienne, let's talk a little bit about if the Biden campaign to prevent Israel, to stop Israel from going in with a major military operation into Rafah, in Southern Gaza, fails, and the Israelis don't heed his warnings, and they have been repeated over the past several days, what's going to happen?

ASHLEY ETIENNE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: I mean, this, the president has to be in the most challenging position I've ever seen him on any particular issue. He's between a rock and a hard place. I mean, the issue here is that his interests are in direct conflict with that of Netanyahu.

But here's three things that I think the president knows. One is, Foreign policy does not sway a national election. Two, American sentiment is on his side. The American people support Israel. But, three, politically, the most important one, I think, he's got to stop the bleeding immediately. So, he's desperate to try to get a ceasefire, make some progress on a ceasefire.

To your point, he's withholding these arms as leverage. But now you're hearing re McConnell and other Republicans that are now starting to weigh in on the issue that are really going to, I think, potentially apply some pressure to the president to release the arms. So, that's going to compound the president's situation.

So, it's really a pretty impossible situation right now for the president. BLITZER: Kevin, how do you see it?

KEVIN MADDEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think to Ashley's point, I think one of the things about foreign policy in a political context is you want a president to have a sense of clarity and a sense of resolve. And I think one of the problems that the president has now with this move is that it does call into question whether or not he has the strategy and a unity, a unified strategy here.

We've watched Admiral Kirby say many times that the U.S. and Israel are lockstep right now, that there's no daylight between us on strategy. This shows that there's some daylight. That becomes problematic for the president. I think he is in a very tough position, and I don't think the politics plays to his favor here.

BLITZER: Really sensitive moment in U.S.-Israeli relations.

BORGER: Nothing on this story plays to his favor.

BLITZER: As you know, Gloria, the president was in Wisconsin today, a key battleground state, and he specifically went to the same site, the exact same site, where Trump, what, six years ago, touted a new manufacturing plant that he was promoting. We're showing some video of that. Listen to what President Biden said today about that. Listen to this.


BIDEN: He and the administration promised a $10 billion investment by Foxconn, to build a new manufacturing complex, create 13,000 new jobs.


In fact, he came here with your senator, Ron Johnson, literally holding a golden shovel, promising to build the eighth wonder of the world.

They dug a hole with those golden shovels, and then they fell into it.

Foxconn turned out to be just that, a con. Go figure..


BLITZER: He clearly seemed to be enjoying needling Trump at this sensitive moment.

BORGER: Right, yes. But, you know, he's got problems of his own on the economy, right? And so I think that he's needling Donald Trump saying, look, this project went nowhere. My projects on my infrastructure plan are being built. But, you know, you can't deny the trouble the White House is having, getting the public on board with the notion that the economy is improving, which, in fact, it is, but it's very difficult for them right now because, you know, 34 percent of the American public, according to our recent polls, say that current economic conditions are really poor. BLITZER: You know, he said in his remarks today, Ashley, that to Erin Burnett, in an exclusive interview to Erin Burnett, he said he has managed during his years in the White House to turn the economy around. How does he get that message across to voters?

ETIENNE: Well, I think these events like in Wisconsin, you've got the vice president that's traveling around the country as well on the economic tour. So, they're really throwing everything they've got at it. Cabinet secretaries, the whole of the party, they're now investing millions of dollars --

BLITZER: But voters are not responding.

ETIENNE: Well, I think I've been in politics long enough, and maybe Kevin has a different opinion, but I've been in politics long enough to know that the economy is never as great as everybody would like for it to be. I always want more money. I never have enough money, right? Just kind of the similar with crime and safety, you never feel safe enough.

But the president is absolutely right. We have the strongest economy in the world. He's created 15 million jobs. record low unemployment. I think he's just going to have to keep doing more and more of what they're doing, which is barnstorming, going around the country, and making the case in a very localized way.

I mean, he's in Racine today, and he quoted numbers that he created 4, 000 jobs on the ground there. Donald Trump lost a thousand jobs there.

BLITZER: You know, I thought it was interesting that, you know, Trump is not clearly the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but there was a Republican primary in Indiana last night. Nikki Haley, listen to this, she's not even running anymore, Nikki Haley, look at this, she got more than 21 percent of the Republican vote in Indiana. Nikki Haley dropped out, what, more than two months ago. But she's had similar strong performances in some other recent states as well. What does that say about Trump?

MADDEN: Well, it says that there are a lot of Republican holdouts out there. In previous elections, a lot of these Republicans showed up and they sort of held their nose and voted for Trump. They may not like him. They may not like his message. They may have a different candidate that they prefer. But, you know, Trump is now the nominee and they have to have this choice now whether or not they're going to show up in November.

So, that shows the challenge that, Donald Trump has, is he's got to get these Republicans that are holdouts right now to come out in November. It also presents an opportunity to Biden, knowing that there are these folks out there that they're kind of still holding their nose and they're not willing to support Trump. What can they do, do to go and get them? These voters really care about inflation. And in many cases, where they're suburban women voters, they care about the issue of abortion. So, I expect to hear on a lot of those issues being focused on --

BORGER: Remember, Trump said he didn't care about Nikki Haley's voters. He did. But now he will.

MADDEN: Not the message that you want for a swing voter.

BORGER: Yes, exactly.

MADDEN: That you don't care about them.

BORGER: Exactly

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thanks very, very much, good discussion.

Coming up, there's breaking news up on Capitol Hill, House Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene tries and quickly fails big time to oust the speaker, Mike Johnson.



BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The House of Representatives just killed the effort by hardline Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to try to oust the speaker, Mike Johnson.

I want to bring in our Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju who's up on Capitol Hill. Manu, give us the latest. The vote was overwhelmingly against her proposal, 359 to 43.

RAJU: Yes, this was a resounding defeat for Marjorie Taylor Greene after weeks of threatening to move ahead with this vote to oust Mike Johnson from the speakership. One time, there's only been one other time in American history where this has happened successfully. That happened with Kevin McCarthy in the fall.

Much different this time because Democrats came to Mike Johnson's defense, something they did not do in the fall when eight Republicans joined with Democrats to kick out McCarthy. That effort, of course, was led by Republicans different because in part of Mike Johnson's deal-making, the same deal-making that has gotten him in hot water with Marjorie Taylor Greene and his far right, Democrats in particular are happy with the deal. Seeing cut when it came to Ukraine, a 61 billion in aid to Ukraine, Marjorie Taylor Greene was furious.

Ultimately today, she decided to take advantage of the fact that one member can call for a vote to oust a speaker. She did that on the floor. And then there was a procedural vote to kill it. And in that procedural vote, that's where it went down. The vote, Wolf, 359 to 43, 196 Republicans voted to kill it. 163 Democrats also voted to kill it. There were 32 Democrats who wanted to advance this measure. 11 Republicans also wanted to advance the measures, those Republicans mostly on the far right of the Republican conference.

Now, immediately afterwards, Mike Johnson came out and he urged his conference to unite after months of disarray and bitter infighting.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): We need to get beyond it. The Speaker of the House serves the whole house. That's the job.



RAJU: So one person who did come to Mike Johnson's defense was former President Donald Trump. In fact, right before the vote, he put out a statement on his social media page saying that Republicans should kill this effort. He called for unity as part of this. This is the first time he's come out publicly to say that Marjorie Taylor Greene's effort should not go forward.

So, you're seeing a major split within the far right of the Republican conference, this time, Donald Trump siding with Republicans with Mike Johnson. He did say, though, in that same message, perhaps later down the road, things could change.

So, we'll see how Marjorie Taylor Greene decides to approach this in the months ahead. But there is no appetite among most Republicans for any sort of internal fighting after we have seen this play out since last October, when Kevin McCarthy was kicked out and the Republican agenda getting stymied, unable to move legislation for months amid this finger-pointing and backbiting and name-calling, members primarying against each other and now trying to kick out the second speaker of this Congress. But this effort now failing after this bipartisan majority rejected Marjorie Greene's efforts to move ahead and kick him out from the speakership, Wolf.

BLITZER: They failed big, big time, Manu Raju, thank you very much.

And we're also following new moves right now by Donald Trump's legal team in his hush money criminal trial. Trump's lawyers are now asking a New York appeals court to expedite his challenge of the judge's gag order against him.

We're also learning the defense plans a more extensive cross- examination of Stormy Daniels than originally planned when she returns to the stand in New York tomorrow.

CNN's Kara Scannell has been in court every day of the trial. Kara is joining us right now. Kara, a New York appeals court just responded to Trump's latest filing. What did they say?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, the appeals court is saying that both sides, Donald Trump's team and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, have to have all of their briefs in by May 20th. That suggests that this appeal will not be decided before the verdict in this case is out. So, it seems unlikely that the appeals court is going to rule on the gag order in that time.

But if this challenge does come in the middle of Stormy Daniels' testimony and the gag order prohibits Donald Trump from making any comments about any witnesses in this case, and the judge has already found that Trump has violated that gag order ten times and he chastised Donald Trump yesterday in court when Trump was seen visibly shaking his head in response to her testimony, and the judge said he heard him utter some curses.

So, you know, the timing here is interesting as Daniels will be back on the stand tomorrow for more cross-examination. Trump's team has really focused their questions on trying to undercut her credibility and to challenge her motivations, saying that she was after money and that she was trying to extort Donald Trump.

Now, they did about 90 minutes of cross yesterday. They will have more of an opportunity tomorrow. How far they go and how much they push her on some inconsistencies in her statements remains to be seen because it does have the possibility of opening the door for prosecutors to get in more details about her night with Donald Trump and what followed. Wolf?

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

Coming up, how Donald Trump's trial delay strategy is actually working again, this time in the Georgia election subversion case.



BLITZER: Right now, we want to bring you part of those remarks from the House Speaker Mike Johnson only moments after the House killed Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene's motion to try to oust him as speaker. Take a listen to some of those remarks.


JOHNSON: I'm glad that this distraction is not going to inhibit that important work, and all the other things that are on the table and on the agenda for us right now. Hopefully, this is the end of the personality politics and the frivolous character assassination that has defined the 118th Congress.

It's regrettable, it's not who we are as Americans, and we're better than this. We need to get --


BLITZER: We're going to keep you updated with any more new developments.

Also tonight, a potential setback for the prosecution of Donald Trump in Georgia, the state appeals court has agreed to consider if District Attorney Fani Willis should be disqualified from the election subversion case. Trump and his co-defendants are appealing a judge's ruling allowing Fani Willis to stay on the case.

Brian Todd is joining us right now. Brian, Trump scoring another win in his efforts to delay, delay, delay.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, he has now been successful with that tactic, tactic in three of his four criminal trials. Tonight, it seems likely that those three cases will not reach the courtroom before Election Day.


REPORTER: How do you think your defense team is doing?

TODD (voice over): There's not much mystery to Donald Trump's longstanding legal strategy.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Delay, delay, delay. Donald Trump has never seen a delay. That he doesn't like in a court case against him.

TODD: In all four criminal cases against him, cases in which he's pleaded not guilty, the former president and his legal teams have filed motion after motion to bob, weave and flat out slow down all the trials. Just today, in the Georgia case, where he's accused of attempting to subvert the 2020 election results, the state's court of appeals said it will consider Trump's continued efforts to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis from the proceedings because of the controversy surrounding her past romantic relationship with fellow prosecutor Nathan Wade.

Willis has said she wants that trial to begin in August.

EISEN: That is looking doubtful at the moment, to say the least.

TODD: In the so called Mar-a-Lago case, where Trump is accused of mishandling classified documents and hindering the government's efforts to recover them, Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump, has just postponed the trial indefinitely. Judge Cannon had originally scheduled that trial to start this month. But right now, there are nearly a dozen issues before her that she has yet to rule on.

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: She has sat in her office apparently paralyzed from ruling on easily resolvable motions.

TODD: Cannon has scheduled two hearings for June on what had been considered long shot motions from Trump, one on Trump's request for records from the Biden administration, the other on Trump's claims that special counsel Jack Smith, the lead prosecutor in the Mar-a-Lago case, was appointed unlawfully.


ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I seriously doubt this one is going to win, but, once again, it's an example of an opportunity to slow things down.

TODD: Then there's the January 6th election subversion case against Trump, also brought by Jack Smith. Trump claims he has presidential immunity in that case, an argument the Supreme Court is now deciding the validity of, but one that the high court may take its time to rule on.

PROF. ALAN MORRISON, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: It could last until the end of June, and I think it's going to be very difficult to get this case to trial, even if they decided it tomorrow. It's just not likely to get -- there's too many other things that could happen, and Trump is a master of delay, and delay is on his side.


TODD: So, why the delay tactic by Trump? Analysts say if Trump gets elected again, he would have the power as president to order the Justice Department to drop the January 6th case and the Mar-a-Lago case because those are both federal cases. The most likely case to survive against Trump, if he's elected, is the Georgia case because that is a state proceeding, but it's also open to debate whether that case would survive. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd reporting, Brian, thank you.

Let's get some more on all of this with CNN Legal Analyst Michael Moore and CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz.

Katelyn, what's the likelihood that any other trial than the current Hush Money trial that's ongoing in New York will actually take place before the November election?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, it's court, so you never know when it comes to these things. Courts can move very fast, and all of a sudden there might be a case on the calendar, and then it might get taken away or moved very quickly as well. So, we just won't know until we get a little bit later into the summer.

Don't bet your life savings on having an additional trial outside of the New York trial before Election Day and very much so or having a verdict by that date in early November. But if you do step back a minute, even with the Georgia case bogged down now with an appeals court situation, the Florida Documents case with a lot of work for Judge Aileen Cannon still to get done, there is this case in Washington, D. C. that if the Supreme Court makes a clean ruling against Trump, like the other courts have done, there is a real possibility that in that four-month window from the end of the U.S. Supreme Court term at the end of June to Election Day, you could see Trial Judge Tanya Chutkan slot this in on the calendar.

There isn't that much else to resolve in that case before trial aside from that very significant and weighty and potentially quite complicated presidential immunity question that the Supreme Court is looking at.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens with the Supreme Court on that. So far, how much of a success, these delays has this been for Trump and his legal team right now? And what are the consequences for the rule of law in our country as all of this unfolds?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, well, I'm glad to be with you. You know, anytime he gets a delay, it's a success for him right now. But I also want to sort of juxtapose that with this idea that we've been rushing to try his cases before the election. So, this is not normal on anybody's part, right? I mean, you would never see this kind of rush to make sure that we got a trial in, or four trials in, before a certain election day. But he happens to be the candidate for president on the Republican ticket. So, that's different. I mean, at the same time, he then is trying to put the brakes on with these various motions.

So, it's a success for him to delay them. I mean, I do think that's right, that if he were to win the election he'll use his presidential power and the federal cases will go away. That leaves the question of the state case in Georgia. He wouldn't have the power to pardon himself from that case, but the likelihood that he could go to trial before the end of his term would be nil. I just don't think they're going to make a sitting president go sit in Georgia to, to try a case like this.

As it relates to the sort of the whole picture of justice and what we do, I think it probably doesn't send a great message. I mean, and maybe because people don't always pay attention to these tactics. It's not unusual to appeal cases. It's not unusual to have interlocutory appeals like we're seeing in Georgia. It's not unusual to file motions because you have to represent your client. But it may not be giving people the confidence that the system is moving as quickly as they'd like to see.

POLANTZ: Yes. But, Michael, when most criminal defendants want to claim their innocence, they want to go to trial to clear their name as quickly as possible. They don't want an indictment hanging over them for too long.

MOORE: That's sometimes the case. I mean, sometimes they find, too, that the longer they wait, witnesses' memories tend to fade, witnesses die, evidence gets lost. I mean, so there's all these reasons that go into strategic decisions about when to schedule a trial, if you're asked for a trial to be scheduled. But this idea, somehow, that the Georgia case would be scheduled in August, I mean, I'd like to get the winning lottery ticket and I've got about as much chance of that.

BLITZER: You're a former U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Georgia. But let me ask you a question about what's going on in Florida right now in the classified documents case, as you know.


Just how extraordinary is Judge Aileen Cannon's handling of this entire classified documents case?

MOORE: Yeah. I mean, I think she's really taken too much time in ruling also motions that she could have ruled on. And that's causing some people to question her.

What you find, though, was critics of judges are critical when they don't go with their side of the case, and then they praise them when they go with their side of the case.

So, you know, my guess is that she's taken too long. She's confronted with the case. She is a fairly new judge, confronted with a case of great magnitude. She may be putting too much effort into some of the motions she could have dealt with on short notice and in short work, and that's given people I think legitimate reason to question, is she moving too slow, and could she have gotten some of the administrative work done on a faster basis?

BLITZER: We're watching all of these developments.

Michael Moore, Katelyn Polantz, to both of you, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll have a closer look at the situation in Gaza as Israel expands military operations in Rafah, prompting 50,000 Palestinians to flee.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



BLITZER: Tonight, the United Nations says 50,000 people have already fled the southern Gaza city of Rafah in just the last 48 hours as the Israeli military ramps up operations.

I want to bring in CNN's Nada Bashir. She's here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM for a closer look.

And, Nada, you've been doing amazing reporting on Gaza for what all of these months that this war has been going on help U.S. better appreciate what the Palestinians in Raffa in particular are going through right now.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Look, we've been hearing the warnings for months now from wealth leaders, from U.N. agencies about the devastation that we could see in Rafah, considering the significant number of civilians now concentrated in the city.

This is the city that many of them were told to evacuate, too, in the initial weeks and months of the war. We're talking about 1.4 million people, approximately who are currently concentrated in the southern city and the potential for full-scale ground offensive in the Rafah has raised huge amounts of concern, considering already the fact that we are seeing a deteriorating humanitarian situation, warnings now of an imminent famine.

But, of course, we've seen those airstrikes on Rafah on multiple occasions. This has been going on for months now, but potential for ground offensive could lay huge tragedy amongst these civilians. And as you mentioned, we've already seen tens of thousands fleeing to the al-Nasser coastal line where of course they have been instructed to go to.

But again, that is just tens of thousands of around 1.4 million people, around half of whom were children. So there is significant concern here. BLITZER: So I take just the talk of this Israeli military operation

there could begins in a significant way, any day now, despite the statements for President Biden telling the Israelis don't do it, there's enormous fear going on right now and concern. How has that affected the humanitarian situation?

BASHIR: Look, this is already a deteriorating humanitarian situation. We're hearing now from aid organizations saying that they're going to have to either pause or halt their operations in Rafah. The World Central Kitchen certainly has had to take that into consideration.

And, of course, we have to remember, Rafah is a crucial gateway for aid to get in via the Egyptian border crossing? We've seen those lines of trucks queuing up on the Egyptian side of the crossing, that is now extending. And, of course, if indeed there is a full-scale ground operation, that will make it extremely difficult for these aid trucks to get in. We've been hearing those calls for more land crossings to be opened because that is most effective way of getting aid in.

But, of course, that will make it very difficult to aid agencies to operate on the ground as well because of the security concerns. And as we know, Gaza is heading into a famine. So, this is certainly raise concern amongst aid organizations and huge amounts of fear amongst the civilians who are already facing a desperate situation.

BLITZER: You've reported on what's happening in Gaza now for the past seven months since October 7th. Give U.S. the big picture right now. How has the situation deteriorated in Gaza over these past many months?

BASHIR: I mean, we've been talking for months now, but the deterioration of a healthcare system, the deterioration of hospitals, and the fact that there are simply no hospitals left really to provide the full amount of care that is needed. We've been talking about the lack of food supplies getting in, and now of course were talking about famine, seven months on and it seems that every single warning that we have heard from world leaders, from aid agencies, from humanitarian groups have simply been ignored.

And, of course, the Israeli authorities, Israeli government have said that they are not hindering access to aid, that they are offering precautions for civilians, of course, offering those evacuation routes. But as we've heard from the Biden administration, they don't have any credible plans presented to them for the safe evacuation of protection of civilians in Rafah. And what we have seen repeatedly now over the last seven months is these warnings being ignored.

And the fact that we've got to this point now, more than 34,000 people have been killed, where were talking about famine, where we're hearing now U.N. agencies, other officials considering and discussing the potential of genocide, that's a huge question. The fact we're talking about that now, and that is the language that is not entering discourse when we talk about Gaza, that is a huge point of concern.

Seven months on, we're not near a ceasefire. We're still seeing those negotiations stagnating. And of course, what we are seeing officials in Cairo now discussing the potential for a ceasefire with --

BLITZER: What are the chances of a ceasefire and release the hostages?

BASHIR: Look, time and time again, we've heard that we're reaching a point where perhaps there is consensus that there is agreement on both sides on the key points we've heard that sadly from the Biden administration and yet time and time again, we've seen this huge sticking points.

Now, the Israeli government has been clear. They don't want to pull out until there is a full destruction a full eradication of Hamas. Hamas is called for the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. They want see a full end to the war.

That will not happen, of course, unless Israel is satisfied with the fact that they have completely eradicated Hamas in Gaza. So, we're seeing the sticking points and despite the huge concern around civilians, we're not seeming to be closer to a full-scale c-spine. And, of course, we are talking about a pause in fighting initially that could then lead to a potential full ceasefire.


The question of whether that actually happens remains to be seen.

BLITZER: It's an awful situation, indeed.

Nada Bashir, welcome to Washington. Thank you very much for that update. Appreciate it.

And we'll be right back with more news.


BLITZER: Right now, we're following very dangerous weather across the country. Millions of people in the central and eastern parts of the United States are under severe weather alerts, including tornado watches.

At least one person in Tennessee has already been killed with more destructive storms clearly, on the way. This as communities across Michigan are cleaning up after to destructive tornadoes tore across the state last night, damaging homes and businesses and injuring more than a dozen people.

The National Weather Service says the town of Portage, Michigan, may have been hit by two tornadoes in the span of just an hour.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Erin Burnett's exclusive interview with President Biden is up next on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" which starts right now.