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Trump Trial Lawyers, Judge Wrap Pivotal Talks On Jury Instruction; New Photos Of Boxes Being Moved At Mar-A-Lago Just Made Public; Giuliani Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Tied To Arizona Fake Electors Scheme; One Dead, 70+ Hurt After Severe Turbulence Hits Flight To Singapore; Now: Tornadoes In Iowa Cause Major Damage, At Least One Death. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 21, 2024 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Purses in handbags as this just released surveillance video shows.


Well, bring along a couple of big plastic trash cans, break into a Miami Beach Hermes Birkin store in the middle of the night and grab as many as you can, as fast as you can. The bigger question, I didn't catch these guys. Police used other surveillance video to track down a suspected lookout driver and are looking for help catching the thieves before they strike again.

If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcast. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the judge and lawyers in Donald Trump's criminal trial just wrapped up pivotal talks on jury instructions that could potentially influence the final outcome. Closing arguments now set for next week followed by jurors deliberations on the former president's fate.

Also breaking newly revealed images of boxes being moved at Mar-a-Lago as part of the alleged conspiracy to conceal classified documents from investigators. We're poring over court filings that were just released, including a judge's opinion finding, quote, strong evidence of crimes.

Plus, new video and terrifying details on a commercial flight that turned deadly when it was rocked by sudden and severe turbulence. We'll take you inside the midair emergency and get an update on the passengers who were killed or injured on board.

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 with the breaking news on Donald Trump's hush money trial now nearing its historic conclusion. Discussions about jury instructions ending just a short while ago. Both sides resting their cases and now preparing for closing arguments next week, as CNN's Kara Scannell reports. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The defense rested their case on Tuesday without former President Donald Trump taking the stand in his historic hush money trial.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, almost five weeks in court.

SCANNELL: On Monday, the prosecution rested its case having called 20 witnesses over 19 days, totaling over 50 hours of testimony. Meanwhile, Trump's team called just two witnesses with about two hours of testimony. The majority of that time came from former adviser to Trump's ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, Robert Costello. The defense hoped to use Costello to attack Cohen's credibility, but Costello ended up angering the judge on Monday, leading the judge to clear the courtroom to address his decorum.

TRUMP: I have a phenomenal case, one case by any standard.

SCANNELL: Prosecutors began their case approximately one month ago by questioning former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker. Pecker laid out the catch and kill scheme at the crux of the prosecution's case. Prosecutors allege Trump falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to block her story of an alleged affair with Trump from becoming public to influence the 2016 election. Trump denies the affair.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Was it hush money to stay silent?

STORMY DANIELS, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: Yes. The story was coming out again.

SCANNELL: All eyes were on Daniels when she took the stand. Prosecutors sought to bolster her testimony by having Daniels recall specific details of her alleged sexual encounter with Trump and the events surrounding it.

The prosecution's final and star witness was Michael Cohen, the only one who can directly link Trump to the alleged crimes.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I just want to get through this so that I can start my own life again.

SCANNELL: Cohen walked the jury through Trump's involvement, recounting conversations with Trump when he directed Cohen to pay off Daniels before the 2016 election, as well as the 11 checks, including ones Trump personally signed to reimburse Cohen for the funds that he paid to Daniels out of his pocket.

COHEN: And he says to me something to the effect of, don't worry, Michael, your January and February reimbursement checks are coming.

SCANNELL: Cohen testified that check stubs were false because they said the payments were made for a retainer agreement. During intense cross-examination, Trump's team's main objective was to undercut Cohen's credibility, aiming to paint him as a vengeful liar who hates Trump.

TRUMP: Michael Cohen is a convicted liar and he's got no credibility, whatsoever.

SCANNELL: Trump attorney Todd Blanche got Cohen to admit he stole from the Trump Organization. In one of the most dramatic moments in the trial, Cohen was pressed over his memory of a key phone conversation when Cohen said he told Trump Daniels' deal was getting resolved.



SCANNELL (on camera): Now Wolf, this afternoon, lawyers for Trump and the prosecution sparred over the instructions that the judge would give the jury to explain the law that they need to apply in this case. Closing arguments are expected for Tuesday. The judge asked the jurors to come in on Wednesday, which is normally a day off, because he said he expects deliberations to get underway.

And this jury of seven men and five women will decide whether Donald Trump becomes the first former president to be convicted of a crime.

BLITZER: Kara Scannell reporting for us from New York, Kara, thank you very much.

We're also following breaking news in the Trump classified documents case. Hundreds of pages of court documents were just unsealed, including newly revealed photos of boxes being moved over at Mar-a- Lago.

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is in Florida. He's got details for us. What can you tell us, Evan?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in these hundreds of pages of documents, we're getting a little bit of a behind the scenes look of the scramble that was going on as the government was trying to retrieve documents from the possession of Donald Trump here in Florida.

What we're seeing in some of these documents is some images of Walt Nauta, who is one of the co-defendants. He's somebody who works for the former president. And these images are from surveillance video appear to show him moving boxes sometime around June of 2022.

Now, this is after Trump had received a subpoena ordering him to turn over documents and his lawyer was going to do a search to try to find some of these documents. What the government is saying is that this is proof that Nauta, at the direction of the former president, was trying to move boxes, move classified documents so that the lawyer would not be able to find it.

Now part of this is all explaining why Judge Beryl Howell in Washington ordered Evan Corcoran, who is a former lawyer for the former president, ordered him to provide information, to provide documents to the prosecution. What she said as part of her ruling, she said that there was sufficient evidence that the former president was using person 18, who is Evan Corcoran, identified as Evan Corcoran, as an instrumentality or as a front man to obstruct the government's investigation and allow the former president to continue withholding these documents from the investigation.

Now, Howell said that there was strong evidence that this was enough reason for the crime fraud exception that required Corcoran to provide information to prosecution. This all comes ahead, Wolf, of a hearing we have here in Fort Pierce tomorrow where the defense is trying to remove some of the evidence that they say was gathered as part of this investigation. Walt Nauta and the co-defendants along with the former president, they're all making arguments against the prosecution here tomorrow. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Evan Perez in Florida for us, thank you very much.

Let's break all of this down with our legal experts and I'll start with Laura Coates. Laura, on the hush money trial right now, the instructions that were hashed out today will be, what, the last words the jury will hear before Donald Trump's fate is known. Break all this down for us. It's very dramatic and very important.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: It's dramatic after history is already being made by having a former United States president on trial, a criminal trial, for matters related to the election back in 2020 -- 2016, excuse me, and also the idea of him violating or having. falsified business records.

The jury instructions are the most important part of the case, second owing to the presentation of the evidence. Obviously, the prosecution has got to meet their burden of proof, but now the jury is going to have instructions that tell them how they need to actually follow the law, how they need to view the evidence that was given to them, circumstantial evidence, for example, a commonly used instruction to tell them they don't necessarily have to direct evidence.

They can use things like, you know, comment or phrases. If you go to bed at night, there's grass on the ground and it's green and you wake up in the morning that it's covered in snow, it probably snowed last night. What can you use for indirect testimony?

Also, the big part of it will be about the issue of what is substantial. Remember, they are trying to show from a felony case that Donald Trump falsified business records, normally a misdemeanor in New York, with the intent of trying to hide another crime, that being, it seems, a conspiracy or campaign contribution. That campaign contribution, though, has to be made in furtherance of the campaign, not for a private matter.

The term for the jury will be how to figure out how to evaluate his motivation. Was it to protect his wife and family or was it to protect the election in some way or his odds? These are going to be really two important aspects of the instructions. But this is going to be the most consequential matter and we'll hear them in full next week.

BLITZER: We certainly will. All right, thank you very much, Laura. Stand by. We got more to discuss.

I want to go to David Schoen right now. David, the defense got Michael Cohen to admit that he stole, what, some $60,000 from Trump, then brought Robert Costello to the stand, a very risky witness, I should say, who sparred with the actual judge in this case.


Was that a mistake on the part of the defense?

DAVID SCHOEN, LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL, TRUMP'S SECOND IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: No, not at all. But, first, I have to say, Laura Coates just gave you a terrific presentation, overview and detailed a summation, I think, of what's next in the case and what's important, and terrific and very informative.

No, I think with proper preparation, Bob Costello would have been an absolute home run witness in the case. There was not that proper preparation, frankly. But Alan Dershowitz wrote an interesting piece today about the whole interchange with the judge. In fact, Ambassador Eisen is a guest star in that article. And to his tribute, he cleared up some misconceptions others in the media had written about their conversation.

But Alan Dershowitz, I think, got it right. You know, I've had experience with this judge. Notwithstanding what we see in the press about even tempered, I find him to be a bully, and I find him to be incompetent, in the case that I had, at least. I think it was totally out of order what he did with Bob Costello.

Bob Costello's muttering wasn't appropriate either. But as far as whether Costello was a mistake or not, Costello should have been, and in some sense, in Wall Street Journal reports, he scored some points, he should have been a dynamite witness. He's a bright guy, former deputy chief of the criminal division, Southern District of New York prosecutor.

And the question of, you know, whether he represented Michael Cohen or not I think is answered not just by the email exchange between them, but the feds had Michael Cohen sign a privilege waiver with Bob Costello before Bob Costello met with the feds and so on.

And what he said is I think a key about Michael Cohen, I'll wrap it up without talking too much more, that is that he told Michael Cohen at the time, his motivation was the greatest at that point to turn over Donald Trump if Donald Trump did anything wrong with respect to the stormy Daniels thing. And he said over and over again. Michael Cohen said to him, Bob, I can't do it. It's not true. Trump had nothing to do with it. So, in that sense, he was an important witness.

BLITZER: Well, David, you mentioned Norm Eisen. He's with us, of course. And, Norm, you've been inside the courtroom every day. Give us your reaction to what we just heard. What do you think?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Bob Costello was a disaster for the defense here, Wolf. And the points that they had scored on Michael Cohen is substantially subtracted from by Bob Costello's testimony.

The problem is that Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger very expertly took Costello through his own words in email on cross- examination, insinuating that he was attempting to control Michael Cohen to benefit Costello's friend, longtime associate, Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani's client, Donald Trump, at the expense of cooperating.

And she used his extremely, I thought, unsavory words suggesting that the White House was keeping an eye on him. You have friends there. You can rest easy tonight. You are loved. It had the aroma of witness interference or possible witness tampering. That's what the prosecution was suggesting.

Costello was an unpleasant witness. I think the judge was right to chastise him, although the judge should not have cleared the courtroom.

BLITZER: Very interesting. Laura, let me get your thoughts, because the prosecution, and correct me if I'm wrong, still hasn't necessarily fully spelled out to the jury the second crime against Trump that would make this case a felony. If there's one crime, could be a misdemeanor, two crimes, potentially a felony. Why is that? And is that enough to just lay out all that in closing arguments that will be coming next week?

COATES: That's an interesting point. The prosecution has the burden of proof of showing that the charges of the crimes that they've actually charged have been proven. You have to have the intent to defraud or the intent to actually falsify the business records. There are 34 accounts comprising invoices, ledger entries, also personal checks. And you had to do it to elevate it from a misdemeanor to a felony, that you were doing so to try to hide another crime.

Now, it's actually quite mind boggling to many people that we're sitting here today at the conclusion of several weeks of trial and don't clearly know what is the precise law they're going to use in summation and the closing arguments to say here is the crime they were trying to hide. There are two different theories one could be a conspiracy to commit a crime. The other one could be that they were having a campaign finance contribution that they did not disclose. And that's where the idea of why the money was paid comes into play here.

But you don't have to actually prove the underlying crime itself in terms of the conspiracy otherwise, or that the sexual encounter that was alleged even happened. It has to be the falsified business records.

BLITZER: Very interesting. David, while I have you, I want to get your reaction to the newly unsealed ruling in the classified documents case down at Mar-a-Lago.


What's your reaction to this new evidence where the special counsel says Trump's former lawyer, Evan Corcoran, was essentially his front man in obstructing the government's investigation? SCHOEN: Yes, well, you know, I know Evan Corcoran very well, he's a fine fellow actually, former Justice Department lawyer. I don't think he would intentionally be a front man for any crime. I know that he wouldn't be. I think that a central issue in that case is going to be, frankly, Judge Howell's ruling on the crime fraud exception. In other words, she had Evan Corcoran's notes, personal notes turned over in wholesale fashion without him even having an opportunity to review the any edit list and all of that. Based on her finding there was a crime fraud exception, which pierced then the attorney-client privilege. I think she was dead wrong and I think that that could well be a significant issue in the case.

And I got to return one second to something Ms. Coates said. I think she's absolutely right that it's mind boggling we don't know what the target crime is. I think it's worse than that. I think that it makes the indictment defective. The judge said originally, well, the prosecution has given four theories for what that target crime could be.

You cannot defend a case consistent with due process and other Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights without knowing that crime from the grand jury. Even a bill of particulars wouldn't have sufficed, in my view. One would guess it's 17152 of the election law, but we shouldn't be in a position of guessing.

BLITZER: Norm, what's your reaction? What do you think?

EISEN: Well, to those of us in the courtroom, it's been clear from day one what the crime is. It was stated in the openings. It's been articulated in the evidence. We heard about it again today in the charging conference. Number one, FICA, the federal election law, you cannot make a contribution of $130,000, Wolf, when the contribution limit is $2,400. It was over $127,000 in excess, alleged by the prosecution.

Number two, election conspiracy. Number three, tax fraud because of those gross up documents, smoking gun, three crimes very clearly stated. Now it will be to the jury to decide if they occurred.

BLITZER: Interesting. Guys, thank you very, very much. Laura, stay with us. We've got more to discuss with you.

Just ahead, today's other big case, Rudy Giuliani arraigned in Arizona. The former New York City mayor entering a plea on charges he tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.



BLITZER: After several days of dodging a summons, Rudy Giuliani has now been arraigned in Arizona, the former Trump lawyer pleading not guilty to charges of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in the state.

CNN's Kyung Lah is in Phoenix with more on today's court appearance by Giuliani and ten other Trump allies. Kyung, walk us through the arraignment.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happened today was very procedural, Wolf. It was a total of 11 who were arraigned today. There are in this indictment a total of 18 defendants, really a lot of Trump allies nationally, but primarily those so-called fake electors here in Arizona. So, that's what this case overall is about. Today is the arraignment. But it was the effort, the drama of trying to get Rudy Giuliani to appear here for the last three weeks that took center stage and really was the attention-getter of the day.

So, the way it was laid out in court is that agents from the attorney general's office had been chasing Giuliani from New York to Florida, that he had been live streaming both in New York and most recently at his birthday party, in his 80th birthday party in Palm Beach, Florida. He had also been tweeting from that party saying, essentially, can't find me. And this had been this online discussion between him and agents who are trying to find him.

So, in court today, because he was served as he was leaving the party to appear here in court, as the court proceeding unraveled, what you heard the attorney general's office say is that they want him to now be ordered to appear here within 30 days and have to pay a bond. It is something that Giuliani certainly felt was unfair. Take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I've been indicted in Georgia. I've appeared on every occasion. I've been sued about 20 to 25 times by a very similar movement to this one, which is the let's see what we can do to destroy Donald Trump Movement.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Give me just a moment. Thank you, sir.

GIULIANI: I would consider this indictment a complete embarrassment to the American legal system, but I've shown no tendency not to comply. I show up for every court appearance. And there must have been about 20 to 30 of them. There is no history of mine being a flight risk, which is the basis for the setting of bail.


GIULIANI: I think it would be outrageous if you set a bond. And this completely -- in this completely political case that comes very, very late, a case that has blew up three years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Giuliani, I don't want to mute you but I need to move on. Give me just a moment. I understand what your position is regarding release conditions.


LAH: The judge was not amused. She did order that he has to appear in the next 30 days, as well as pay a $10,000 bond, Wolf. That means he'll have to get his mug shot and be fingerprinted when he arrives here in Arizona. Wolf? BLITZER: Used to be America's mayor, and now look what's going on. All right, thanks very much, Kyung Lah, out in Arizona for us.

CNN Anchor and Chief Legal Analyst for CNN Laura Coates is back with us right now. Laura, how strong is this case against Giuliani and the 17 other defendants?


COATES: Just think about what your point was. There's more than 50 defendants now across four states all stemming from actions taken trying to promote the false notion that Donald Trump won the election, he did not, in 2020. Now you have this case where they're all charged with forgery, fraud, and also conspiracy to different degrees. This all comes on the heels of false electors and schemes to try to suggest that he had in fact won the election.

Now, the timing of it, which, of course, he raises very importantly, is what is going to give the narrative and the promotion of a political motivation here. But the evidence, as it currently stands, is that there is documentary evidence and knowledge about conversations and otherwise suggests they in fact were conspiratorial in this. He has a presumption of innocence that they all do.

Some of the figures who are part of the co defendant cases are people who are the former head of the Republican Party in Arizona, somebody who currently is an election integrity counsel for the RNC. We're talking about very significant figures even today.

BLITZER: You know, unlike the Georgia election subversion case, Donald Trump isn't a defendant in Arizona. Why is that?

COATES: Well, that is one of the questions people have asked. I think he's an unindicted conspirator, an unindicted person in this case as well. We've seen that before at one point in time during Michael Cohen's case in a very different and distinct matter. But that was one of the frustrations some of these defendants have had to suggest, well, if this was all part of the conspiracy to try to promote him, then why is he not a part of it?

Now that's the discretion of the prosecutors and what to do. It might be that there's not the dots that connect to the actual person, Donald Trump, or it might be that there's evidence that they are not yet able to have or corroborate their claim. They can always supersede an indictment and change it, but as it stands right now, he has more than enough legal troubles.

BLITZER: Very interesting. We've also just learned, Laura, that in a new agreement, and we just learned about it, Giuliani has now agreed to never again publicly accuse two Georgia election workers of tampering with the 2020 election results. Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss spoke to the January 6th select committee, as you and I well remember. I want to play some of that powerful testimony. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUBY FREEMAN, 2020 GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name and I've lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security all because a group of people starting with number 45 and his ally, Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye.


BLITZER: Freeman and Moss won, what, $148 million judgment against him. So, how does this agreement impact that?

COATES: And then they filed another lawsuit, I think, the next day after getting that agreement, and that judgment against him, first of all, for what? All that they described, I mean, her daughter also described never feeling safe, not wanting to have her name said in public, because they passed a mint to one another, an actual edible mint, and they were accused of having committed election interference and different evidence to undermine the election, none of which was substantially true. And so the defamation case came and was a very strong indictment of him.

But we don't yet know whether -- of course he's in bankruptcy, which does not mean you don't have to pay your judgments for intentional actions. I don't yet know whether stipulation in fact means he won't have to pay anything. But right now, they do have a lot more power and control over him if he decides to act again. They have that much more leverage.

BLITZER: Interesting, very interesting indeed. Laura Coates, thanks very much. And a note to our viewers, Laura, of course, will be back later tonight, 11:00 P.M. Eastern for her show, Laura Coates Live. We'll be watching.

Coming up, Donald Trump trying to clean up two campaign issues after Democrats pounce. What he's now saying about banning birth control and what his campaign is saying about a video deleted from his social media account.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news this hour. President Biden now speaking out about a video that was shared on Donald Trump's social media account, predicting, and I'm quoting now, a unified Reich if Trump returns to the White House. The president slamming Trump for using Hitler's language.

CNN's Kristen Holmes has more on the post and the backlash.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happens after Donald Trump wins? What's next for America?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Former President Donald Trump posting, then removing, a video to his social media site, True Social, referring to the creation of a unified Reich if he wins a second term. The 30-second video shared Monday featured hypothetical headlines styled as World War I era newspaper clippings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American dream is back, and the best is yet to come.

HOLMES: The text, unified Reich, a term often associated with Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler, appears under one headline that reads, what's next for America, and, again, at the end of the video, under the text, MAGA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make America great again.

HOLMES: A spokesperson told CNN the Trump campaign did not create the video and it was, quote, reposted by a staffer who clearly did not see the word. The video was eventually deleted Tuesday morning from the former president's Truth Social account, but not before sparking a backlash led by President Joe Biden's campaign and administration.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This kind of rhetoric is unsurprising coming from the former president and it is appalling. It shows our freedoms and our very democracy are at stake.

Biden calling out his Republican rival directly in an online video.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: A unified Reich? That's Hitler's language. That's not America's.

HOLMES: The video is just the latest example in a string of comments and social media posts by the former president invoking racist or anti-Semitic rhetoric.

TRUMP: Any Jewish person that votes for a Democrat or votes for Biden should have their head examined.


HOLMES: Trump has also echoed language used by authoritarian leaders when describing undocumented migrants.

TRUMP: They're destroying the blood of our country. That's what they're doing.

HOLMES: And those he perceives as political enemies.

TRUMP: We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

HOLMES: The inflammatory rhetoric was an emblem of Trump's first run for office, and during his time in the White House. In 2017, after the deadly white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Trump delivered this statement.

TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. HOLMES: And during the 2016 campaign, Trump tweeted a graphic of Hillary Clinton that featured a pile of cash and a six-pointed star, with the words, most corrupt candidate ever. Trump later claimed the star represented a sheriff's badge and not the Star of David, though he eventually deleted the post and replaced it with a new image.


HOLMES (on camera): And, Wolf, this posting of the video comes as many on Trump's team actually believe there is an opening with Jewish American voters, including Democrats, because they are unhappy with Biden's handling of the Israel-Gaza War. They are putting plans to court Jewish voters. However, of course, this kind of rhetoric is unlikely to help with that. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Kristen, thanks very much.

I want to bring in CNN Political Commentators Karen Finney and David Urban. And, David, let me ask you quickly, how badly did the Trump campaign fumble this issue? A Reich, remember the Nazis called their regime the Third Reich.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. So, to be clear, the A.P. story on this is pretty good, very factual. The language is not Trump's language. It's language lifted from Wikipedia.

BLITZER: But he posted it.

URBAN: No. It was reposted. A kid who, a gentleman, a person, Rambo Rance, posted the language, says specifically after World War Two, German industrial strength and production significantly increased after 1871 driven by the creation of a unified Reich. That's the language that was posted in and clipped there historically.

Now, listen, it's like the third rail of politics. Using the word Reich in any context is bad, especially when we should be talking about --

BLITZER: For Hitler?

URBAN: No, because of the third Reich, right? So, especially when we should be talking about what Israel condemned widely yesterday, as you know, on the floor of the U.N. Security Council, we had a moment of silence where the U.N. deputy national -- the deputy ambassador to the U.N. stood in a moment of silence honoring a butcher of Tehran, right? This is a horrific person. And the Biden administration stood for a moment of silence. That is what is disgraceful we should be talking about not some misstep by a kid on a campaign trail, and yet we're doing it. And that's the unforced error here.

BLITZER: What do you think?

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the problem is that, as Kristen's piece pointed out, we've heard this rhetoric from former President Trump over and over and over again. But I think, to David's point, I don't think it's going to have much of an impact, but what it does do, it's a distraction and it reminds us that we're in that part of the campaign where all these little things matter.

And I certainly think it will matter to people who are now being reminded that this is what it was like when Donald Trump was president, right? There was some tweet, some something that got out that wasn't about them, it wasn't about their lives, it wasn't about, you know, what he might be doing to make their lives better. Instead, it's about, you know, his own agenda or his own thoughts.

BLITZER: All right. I want to move on to another sensitive political issue. David, let me get your thoughts. There's another Trump video getting a lot of attention right now. The Biden campaign tweeted this clip from Trump's interview with KDKA earlier today. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, related to this is the whole issue of contraceptives. Do you support any restrictions on a person's right to contraception?

TRUMP: Well, we're looking at that and I'm going to have a policy on that very shortly. And I think it's something that you'll find interesting and that it's another issue that's very interesting. But you will you will find it I think very smart. I think it's a smart decision, but we'll be releasing it very soon.


BLITZER: Now, after that interview aired, as you know, David, the Trump campaign quickly released a statement which reads in part, let me quote, I have never and will never advocate imposing restrictions on birth control or other contraceptives. This is a Democrat- fabricated lie. But just earlier, you heard what he said in that interview.

URBAN: It kind of fumbled. So, John Delano there happens to be a good friend of mine, he was eager today. We were texting this morning about he was eager to talk to the president. I'm not so sure. He's eager now after these created this controversy here.

BLITZER: He didn't create the controversy. The president's remarks created it.

URBAN: Well, yes, the president fumbled. He fumbled the question, right? He was given a question, straightforward answer. Should have been, look, we're not going to restrict it.


It should have been exactly what was tweeted out on his Truth Social, and now we've got to clean up on aisle six here, right? So that's where we are right now.

FINNEY: But I think it shows also that the president is so wrapped up in his own grievance narrative. He's not actually paying attention to what's going on in the country. Because if he was, he would know that actually measures around access to contraception are making their way through legislatures throughout the country. Republicans are blocking those measures.

In fact, in 15 states, we've been talking a lot about abortion access measures. Well, 15 states actually now have access to contraception measures on their ballot. And there's a measure that will come up before the Senate, we think, sometime in June. So this is actually a very real issue that he simply has not been paying attention to, clearly.

BLITZER: Yes. He knows this is a very sensitive issue.

URBAN: Super sensitive.

BLITZER: That's why he walked away from what he said earlier.

URBAN: Republicans need to learn how to talk about these things in a more coherent fashion because it's going to drive the suburban women voters away.

FINNEY: But I think part of the problem specifically on this issue is certainly in the Congress. The Susan B. Anthony group is going to score that vote and it's another problem for Republicans on this issue.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Karen Finney, David Urban, guys, thank you very, very much.

And just ahead, dramatic video, new details on the investigation into a deadly in flight turbulence issue aboard a Singapore Airlines flight. How it happened and what passengers are saying.



BLITZER: A flight to Singapore turns deadly. A sudden and severe turbulence strikes were learning more right now about what happened aboard the Boeing jet and the fate of its passengers, including one who was killed and more than 70 who were injured.

Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, the flight made an emergency landing in Thailand. What more do we know?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, an NTSB team is now on route to Singapore to aid in the investigation. We have new information tonight on this deadly incident in the air that also left some passengers with broken bones.


TODD (voice-over): Inside the cabin, the ceiling has broken open. Debris is everywhere. Blood runs down an armrest. Passengers have to be evacuated. Some on stretchers, the aftermath of severe turbulence experienced by Singapore Airlines Flight 321, and incident that left one passenger dead and more than 70 others injured, some severely. The flight carrying more than 200 passengers and crew members was on

route from London to Singapore. It was hit by the turbulence over Myanmar and had to divert to Bangkok.

KITTIPONG KITTIKACHORN, GENERAL MANAGER, BANGKOK AIRPORT: I, I saw a lot of the passengers crying and then called breaking arm, something like that.

TODD: The deceased passenger is a 73 year-old British man.

One passenger described seeing people hit their heads on baggage compartments, others hitting and breaking through overhead light and mask panels.

Flight data from the plane shows violent maneuvers up and down, lasting at least a minute. Experts say the plane likely experienced clear air turbulence.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Essentially, it's two weather systems that have high-speed wind currents within them meeting at altitude, and it creates a profound wind shear situation. When you're in it, it can dramatically altered the course of the aircraft in split-second.

TODD: Analysts say part of what makes clear air turbulence so dangerous is that there's no visible warning. It doesn't show up on forward-looking radar.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: What pilots rely on today are pilot reports. In other words, the aircraft that flies ahead of an individual airliner will notify others of turbulence and the air traffic controllers would advise the following aircraft to avoid.

TODD: Last year, a Lufthansa flight from Texas to Germany suddenly dropped about 1,000 feet, injuring seven people.

In 2022, severe turbulence on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu injured at least 36 people. Experts say the obvious safeguard is to keep your seat belt on, but some on-board are still vulnerable.

GOELZ: Flight attendants are at most risk because they're out of there. When those carts start flying around, people can get very badly injured.


TODD (on camera): And aviation researchers say clear air turbulence is only going to get worse because of climate change causing more instability in the jet streams. One researcher says by the year 2050, pilots can expect to encounter at least twice as much severe clear-air turbulence as they do now, Wolf, maybe more of these incidents coming. It's horrifying.

BLITZER: It's scary indeed.

All right. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Coming up, breaking news coming into CNN, a live picture out of Iowa after a severe weather outbreak. We'll have an update on the multiple tornadoes sighted there causing major damage. That's next.



BLITZER: We're tracking a very dangerous outbreak of severe weather in the Midwest right now, including multiple tornadoes in western Iowa that have caused major damage and at least one death.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers has the breaking news for us.

Chad, what can you tell us?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, anywhere that you see a color, if you live in that area, you need to pay attention this evening. These tornadoes will go through the evening hours and possibly even after dark. They are very dangerous when they're after dark because sometimes you don't hear the warning or see the alert on your TV, whatever it might be.

Here are the ground shots that were seeing right now from Greenfield, Iowa, that about an hour-and-a-half ago was hit by a direct hit. I'm thinking this is at least EF2, possibly an EF-3 tornado, very large tornado on the ground. It was even -- it was even while -- it was knocking over the power transmission windmills that were in the field near this town. It was a devastating tornado all the way up to the town.

We knew it was coming to the town. I tweeted out, please take cover because this is what it looks like now and then. Here are some drone pictures that we just acquired here at CNN, about two blocks wide but the damage is so significant to those middle part of those blocks.

This is what the tornado looks like here on the ground. Obviously, the trees are stripped of their leaves. Some of the trees are stripped of the bark, Wolf, and the very large limbs are completely gone. There will be more of this potential tonight as we work our way all the way through midnight this evening, farther to the east of here.

But look at the damage, how the cars were tossed, how the roofs were completely disintegrated there, and many of the people there knew what was coming. They got away. They got in their permanent shelter wherever what is inside your room. And so far, so good, there are injuries, but not hearing of anything else other than injuries in this town.

Now, let's go to the drone. If we have it, because I think this really tells a story of where this storm started. It started in the southwest corner of Greenfield, Iowa, and I guess maybe we don't have that video. That's okay.

This is what -- I -- this is a home right here and the home itself is completely flattened. If even if you were in the middle part of a room, you would still have to be really rescued from something like this.

So yes, search and rescue out there still looking for people. We know there's a grid search going on in this town right now.


There was also a tornado on the ground in Cambridge. And Cambridge, Iowa, and that storm did damage as well, still searching is how much damage came to that. Here are some sound bites here, some words from one of the residents that came home to a house that technically wasn't even there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was actually all gone, like you can't even tell where we live. So, yeah, just kind of crazy.

REPORTER: I know that's still very frustrating. Can you walk through what's going through your mind right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, I'm just thinking Jesus. There were all here and my last thing, I knew my daughter was okay. She was at daycare and all my family and friends who like live right here were all okay. But the dog wasn't here. But we found her, so I'm just so thankful to God that were all here.


MYERS: I really need to knock the hair down on my legs and on my arms because when puppies are found after that, when you don't know where they are, I think that's maybe more meaningful than anything else in a tornado event like that.

So let's get to it here. Where are the storms moving through and pass Des Moines at this point in time, but into Wisconsin, into Minnesota. And later on today, all the way into Chicago, as far south as Tulsa, these storms are really in a very long line, Wolf. This is when the moisture in the humidity of spring wants to be here and the cold front of winter says, wait, not so fast. So yes, this is a low pressure center, the dry air came out of the mountains, the cold air came out of the north, and we're firing these storms up.

We still have purple boxes, which means that there are still tornadoes warnings. We're not saying they're on the ground yet. Some are just indicated by radar. You can see the rotation on the radar but when they get on the ground, this is when they're doing the most damage.

And you can see some of those right there. This is near Glenwood. This would be Missouri and that would be on the ground because its colored in there. So we do know that's a confirmed tornado.

Later on tonight, all the way through Chicago possibly into Milwaukee as far north as Green Bay, as far south as the Gulf Coast. This is a long line of weather that could even bring some flooding. You get 2-3 inches of rainfall with some of these radars echoes and that's what were going to see here for the rest of the evening.

This is a major event for a big part of the country. We knew it was coming severe prediction center said it was coming yesterday. They even upgraded it again today and here's what you get when you get this type of weather that does hit a town.

So many times, Wolf, we just -- we know these storms are coming, we do, but we just hope that they hit the cornfield and not a town. But just like Greensburg, Kansas, years ago with the EF5, this wasn't one, but Greenfield, Iowa, took a direct hit here, is really -- its going to take some time to all this mess up, at least so far, only one loss of life and with the tornado that looks like that, that kind of damage it could have been a lot worse.

BLITZER: Could have been a lot worse.

On the intensity scale, Chad, how bad can these tornadoes be later tonight? And you say they're heading towards what, Milwaukee, Chicago, other major cities?

Yes, certainly not tornado was heading there. It's possible. But what I see here, I see EF3 damage, possibly even very almost an EF4 type damage when you strip the bark off of the tree, that takes some power, even in Nebraska and parts of Oklahoma that I lived there, when you would strip the asphalt off the roadway that takes an awful lot of power and you see the pictures here. Many of those trees are just basically stumps up what they were.

And so this is likely an hundred and 50 mile per hour tornado, which puts it on that border, EF-3, possibly if it's high -- they don't know if it's a big tornado, unless they find a very large and sturdy structure that got knocked down. You can't tell what kind of damage to a motor home or to a car. There's no such thing as an EF scale for a car.

But when you see a brick structure, possibly that the post office and you see that get knocked down, you know, that that should be standing because it's a brick on stone structure. And if that's knocked down, that's when you get to that EF4 and likely not what this, not EF5 because it just wasn't wide enough. I don't believe.

BLITZER: We're learning -- we're learning, Chad, that at least one person has died because of these storms. Reminder of viewers what they should do if there is a tornado warning in the area where they live?

MYERS: Well, I grew up in Nebraska and we had a basement and that was very, very fortunate.

But when I lived in Oklahoma, there were very few, if any basements whatsoever because you are basically building on bedrock. So you had to use blasting powder in dynamite to get to the basement and most people didn't.

You need to be inside your home, away from the windows, put as many walls between you and the outside is possible. Think about your outside wall between your bathroom and all of a sudden, you have a closet behind it, behind there. So there's another wall.

Think about how many walls you can get and that's always on the interior of your room, never on the outside of the room. I remember -- so I moved in Nebraska in '76, they said get in the basement and southwest corner. Well, as it turns out, that was the most dangerous place to be.

So yes, there are still myths, but look at this damage, this just drone footage, Wolf --

BLITZER: This is the drone video that you told us about earlier.

MYERS: Yeah. I knew we had it. It was coming in. We were trying to get it into the system. Sometimes it takes a minute even with the speed of sound, the speed of light. But here you go. This is what the town looks like right now.

BLITZER: Folks, you have to be careful out there.

Chad, thank you very, very much.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.