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Nikki Haley Says, I Will Be Voting For Trump; New York Times Reports, Flag Seen At January 6 Riot Flown Outside Alito's Vacation Home; Shouting Match Erupts During Trump Classified Documents Hearing; Sean "Diddy" Combs Accused Of Sexual Assault In New Lawsuit; Families Of IDF Hostages Release Graphic Abduction Video. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 22, 2024 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Years after the upside down American flag, the distress symbol, was flown outside Alito's Virginia home during the Stop the Steal era, the Appeal to Heaven flag was seen flying outside the family's vacation home in Long Beach, Island, New Jersey, last summer.


The Times reports that the flag was carried by rioters at the Capitol on January 6th as well and symbolizes both support for Donald Trump and a push to remake the U.S. government in Christian terms. The Times says neither Justice Alito nor the U.S. Supreme Court responded to their questions about this new second flag.

We'll have much more of this breaking news situation on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. I will see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Nikki Haley declares she will vote for Donald Trump, endorsing the former rival she fiercely attacked during her GOP presidential bid. We're breaking down her announcement, and the timing as she's still siphoning support from Trump in the primaries.

Also tonight, the judge in the Trump classified documents case holds the first hearings since delaying the trial, and a shouting match erupts, this amid new photos and revelations about the Mar-a-Lago search and the FBI investigation.

And Sean Diddy Combs is facing another allegation of sexual assault, this time in a lawsuit filed by a former model. It's happening just days after CNN exclusively obtained a 2016 video showing the rapper kicking and dragging his then-girlfriend.

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

First up tonight, the breaking news, more than two months after dropping out Of the Republican presidential race, Nikki Haley now says she will be voting for Donald Trump in November, even as she urges him to do more to reach out to her supporters.

Let's bring in CNN's Kylie Atwood, who followed the Haley campaign during the GOP primaries. Kylie how is Haley explaining this?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, she put it pretty clearly today. She said that former President Trump is simply the better option over President Joe Biden. She made it very clear that she personally will be voting for him. And she also said that this is a situation where he's going to have to continue to earn the support of her voters.

Now, we should note, Wolf, that when she dropped out of the race, she was running against the former president in the primary. She did not explicitly endorse former President Trump. And it got pretty heated between the two of them on the campaign trail. As you recall, at one point, she said Trump was not qualified to be president because of the way that he had talked about military families. She said military families couldn't trust him to keep their loved ones out of harm's way. So, there were some significant jabs that were traded between the two of them.

They still have not spoken since she dropped out of the race more than two months ago now, but today, making it clear that she personally is going to be voting for him in November.

Listen to what she said.


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a voter, I put my priorities on a president who's going to have the backs of our allies and hold our enemies to account, who would secure the border, no more excuses, a president who would support capitalism and freedom, a president who understands we need less debt, not more debt.

Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I've made that clear many, many times, but Biden has been a catastrophe. So, I will be voting for Trump. Having said that, I stand by what I said in my suspension speech. Trump would be smart to reach out to the millions of people who voted for me and continue to support me and not assume that they're just going to be with him, and I genuinely hope he does that.


ATWOOD: Now, Wolf, even after dropping out of the race, there were states in the primary where there were voters who voted for Nikki Haley in some states. She was able to garner close to 20 percent of the vote. So, it is clear that even though the Republican Party has clearly coalesced behind former President Trump, and she is doing that even further today, there are still voters out there who wanted Haley, who are making a protest vote, and she is saying that the former president is going to have to reach out to them.

Now, the question remains, will former President Trump make a phone call to Nikki Haley?


They still haven't talked. And will she do any campaigning on his behalf if she's asked to? Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Kylie Atwood reporting for us, Kylie, thank you very much.

I want to get some quick reaction to Nikki Haley's dramatic announcement from the Trump world. And for that, I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes, who's been working her sources over there. Kristen, how will this play?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's really interesting, and that's the big question here. I mean, despite the fact that Nikki Haley and Trump had this somewhat bitter and personal rivalry, I'll remind you that he called her names, at a certain point he made fun of her husband and his military service, now you see her really falling in line behind him, a pattern that we have seen from Republicans since 2016 with these feuds between Donald Trump and other Republicans and then them eventually saying that they would come out and vote for Donald Trump.

Now, the interesting part here is, as Kylie mentioned, whether or not this actually moves the needle with these protest voters, with these Haley supporters. I will remind you, you know, we showed a list there of some of the states in which Haley really outperformed what she should have given the fact that she had dropped out of the race, Pennsylvania really being the key one. And this was over a month after she dropped out, Pennsylvania is a state that is considered completely purple. It is a battleground state and one that the Trump team wants. She got over 16 percent of Pennsylvania Republican voters. That is a huge number.

Now, there are still Republicans who believe that these Nikki Haley supporters are critical for Donald Trump. There are even Republicans that are in Donald Trump's immediate circle who have suggested that he reach out to her, who have suggested that he even consider her for vice president. Now, that is something that he himself has almost completely ruled out. He said that on social media that he would not be considering her for vice president. We have yet to hear any reaction from Trump or his team on Nikki Haley saying she would vote for him. I will remind you, he's currently in Texas attending a series of fundraisers with these oil and energy executives, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes reporting. Kristen, thank you very much.

Let's get some analysis from our political experts. Let me start with David Chalian, our political director. How significant is this Nikki Haley endorsement of Trump?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's a significant development because she did something she hasn't done before, which is publicly say, I'm with him and I'm going to vote for Donald Trump. I don't think this is a terribly surprising development. I don't think there was anywhere else for Nikki Haley to land in this race if she wanted to preserve any kind of future in the Republican Party. It's Donald Trump's Republican Party and he's remade it in his image.

So, I think the political calculation was always sort of inevitable that we'd get here, but I do think it is interesting because she said that Biden would be a catastrophe, and, yes, Trump hasn't been perfect on these things. That is very different from when she talked to Dana Bash in New Hampshire when she said, these guys are equally bad. She clearly has moved in her calculation on that as she made this decision about who she was going to vote for.

BLITZER: She certainly has. And, Gloria, I want to remind our viewers of some of the things that Nikki Haley used to say about Donald Trump. Listen to this.



HALEY: The other day, Donald Trump accused me of not providing security at the Capitol on January 6th. Now, I've long called for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75.

Chaos follows him. And we can't have a country in disarray and a world on fire and go through four more years of chaos. We won't survive it.

I feel no need to kiss the ring. I have no fear of Trump's retribution.

That's the chaos that comes with Donald Trump. That's the offensiveness that's going to happen every day between now and the general election, which is why I continue to say, Donald Trump cannot win a general election. He won't.


BLITZER: Gloria, what's your reaction?

BORGER: Well, there you go. Never mind, right? And, I mean, look, today, her endorsement was not exactly what I would call full- throated. She did not tell her voters, you've got to vote for Donald Trump, number one. Number two, it wasn't in her speech. It came in reaction at kind of the end of her speech when somebody asked her a question, who you're going to endorse. And then she went into her spiel about it.

So, you know, this is a candidate who called Donald Trump unhinged and everything else that you just showed. So, I don't think they're ever going to be great buddies, but I think she wants to have a future in the Republican Party. And if she wants to have a future in the Republican Party, this was the only choice for her, as David was saying.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Scott Jennings. Haley said Trump would be smart to reach out to the people who voted for her, even though she had dropped out of the Republican primaries. Haley did win votes from a significant amount of Republican voters, including in key battleground states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


How much has this endorsement, realistically helped bring Haley voters over to Trump?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the endorsement itself doesn't bring that many voters, but I think her doing it today ought to be a flashing red light to the Biden campaign about how much their outreach to these voters is failing. And over the last few weeks, I have heard from a ton of people who never liked Donald Trump, supported Nikki Haley who are saying things like I'm radicalized all of it all of a sudden because of how mortified I am about Joe Biden. I feel like today's Haley endorsement fits this pattern of Republicans who've just never really been Trump people who are saying, I would rather do this than bite (ph). That ought to send shivers down the spines of people who thought Biden was going to be able to attract these folks.

BORGER: You think suddenly they're going to accept Donald Trump?

JENNINGS: They are currently accepting him because of Biden on, you name it, student loans, Israel, you go down the line. They are currently accepting it into their hearts because of how much they do not like this president.

BLITZER: Maria, did the Biden campaign, President Biden for that matter, make a mistake in not more assertively, aggressively going after the Nikki Haley voters?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, they've been pretty assertive, Wolf, and this is one of the things I wanted to point out and underscore in this conversation. Of the two candidates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, only Joe Biden has actually welcomed Nikki Haley's voters to his campaign. They have run ads in battleground states to these voters about all of the issues that those voters care about, to women, to independents, to moderates. They are having backchannel conversations with Nikki Haley's donors.

I actually disagree a little bit with my friend Scott here because I have heard from a lot of those voters as well. And you're amazing. CNN's amazing reporters have been on the ground talking to a lot of the folks who wanted to vote for Nikki Haley. Yes, some of them say, yes, I guess I'm going to think about voting for Donald Trump, but many more have said, there is no way in hell I will vote for Donald Trump if Nikki Haley is not the candidate. And the fact that there is so much support for her, even as she left the race, I think, should be chilling and is a huge challenge. Nikki Haley uncovered a huge deficit for Donald Trump that he has done absolutely nothing to try to fix.

JENNINGS: So you think it's bad that Nikki Haley endorsed Donald Trump? You think that's bad for Trump?

CARDONA: I think, I don't think it was actually a full-throated endorsement. If that was an endorsement, then, yes, I actually don't think it's good for him. An endorsement means, look, voters, people who voted for me, go out and vote for this person. I'm going to go campaign for this person. I'm going to go raise money for this person. She actually gave him a warning.

CHALIAN: That may still come. This is step one. CARDONA: That's right, because she still wants to have a future in the party.

CHALIAN: When she got out of the race and we had all this conversation about the Haley voters, we always, I think, like any right analysis of this would say, the vast, preponderance of those voters voting in a Republican primary are likely to return home to the Republican nominee, kind of like Nikki Haley just did.

Now, beyond just her statewide totals, what's so interesting is if you go inside the states, where she even did more business got more votes than she did statewide are in these suburban areas. It's not just that what she did in Arizona. It's what she did in Maricopa County. It's what she did in the Philly suburbs.

I think that is still on the to do list of Donald Trump, of making sure those voters are part of his coalition. He does need those voters, and I don't. I agree with Scott, I'm not sure this automatically brings those voters, but, clearly, this is one of the best pieces of political news that the Trump team has had in quite some time, the last holdout from his rivals saying he's going to vote for him.

JENNINGS: It's the national security voters. She was a national security candidate, a traditional Reagan national security candidate. And I think a lot of the people who were voting for her for those reasons have recently become very, very unhappy with Biden.

CARDONA: But you know what else she was though? She was also somebody who gave the Republican Party hope that the Republican Party could make a dent on the issue of choice. Because, according to a lot of Republicans, I didn't agree, my dear friend Alice, our dear friend Alice, always talked about this, that Nikki Haley actually talked to Republicans in a much more centered, nuanced way about the issue of choice.

She is now not -- I mean, she still might do that, but Donald Trump certainly won't. He's already talked about some ways that are going to continue to tell those voters, this is not a party for you, because I don't want to give women the right to make decisions about their bodies.

BORGER: Well, I think the big question for Donald Trump is, and we might know the answer to this, is, can he be magnanimous?

CARDONA: Well, we know the answer to that.

BORGER: Well -- and he, now that she has made the first overture, and I don't think it was full-throated, but it, she said she is endorsing him, that's plenty. Will he now say thank you, Nikki Haley? He doesn't have to say she's going to be his vice president, but will he come out and put his arm around her and say, thank you very much, and, you know, I hope your voters --


BLITZER: We'll see what his reaction to this.

CARDONA: If he's smart, he would. But he hasn't, thus far. And Joe Biden has welcomed them.

BLITZER: I will point out that earlier this month, and, David, you remember this Trump posted this, Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well.

BORGER: Well, that was a start, yes.

CHALIAN: The I wish her well maybe was the (INAUDIBLE). Listen, Joe Biden doesn't need all of Nikki Haley voters. He needs some slice of them. And there are probably some of them that are still within reach. But today, she showed that she's in Trump's camp.

BLITZER: Scott, this has been a bumpy week, as we all know. It's a couple weeks for Trump, given his trial in New York and all of that. So, why do you think she's making this endorsement now?

JENNINGS: Yes, I'm with Gloria. It didn't seem like it was planned for today. It felt like it was in response to something. But, look, the campaign is short. I mean, we're already here in May. We've got conventions are coming up. I mean, eventually, if you want to be seen in your party as being part of the winning team and go in for the big touchdown, you got to get on the field at some point. Now is as good a time as any. And the campaign is on. We got debates on the schedule. It's time for people to move.

BORGER: She was out there alone also. Everyone else had endorsed him. It was time for her to do something.

BLITZER: And she did that today.

BORGER: And she did it.

BLITZER: All right, guys, everybody, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, new reporting about another provocative flag flown at the second home of the Supreme Court justice, Samuel Alito.

And what the judge in the Trump classified documents case appears to be signaling right now about her views on new bids to get the charges tossed.



BLITZER: The breaking news this hour involving the U.S. Supreme Court justice, Samuel Alito. For the second time in two weeks, there is now reporting that a provocative flag embraced by Trump supporters was flown at one of Samuel Alito's homes. This time, it's in his vacation house out in New Jersey.

Our Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is joining us now. She's got the details. Tell us about this New York Times report, this latest one, Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Apparently, numerous neighbors at that Long Beach Island home are talking to The New York Times, telling them about this most recent flag. Of course, you know, it was just last week on Friday that there were those reports of the upside down or inverted American flag that was seen carried by supporters of the Stop the Steal movement around January 6th at Alito's Virginia home. This time, it's this so called Appeal to Heaven flag. You're seeing it there, flown outside his home on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Now it has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, but it has recently become a symbol for supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Now as for this most recent revelation, Justice Alito has not responded to these pictures published by the New York Times. We did hear from Justice Alito on Friday, he released a statement saying that the inverted flag outside his Virginia home that was placed there leading up to Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021, he said it was placed there by his wife in response to a spat with neighbors. As for this time, with the revelations of the flag outside his New Jersey beach home, our team has reached out to the court. We have not heard back.

It's interesting and maybe important to note that our producer on Capitol Hill actually saw this same Appeal to Heaven flag flying outside House Speaker Mike Johnson's office just tonight. She talked to the speaker and he said, it's George Washington's flag. It goes back to the founders' era. I've always flown that flag. It has nothing to do with that, when asked about Associations with Stop the Steal or Donald Trump.

Now, of course, we'll, you know, Speaker Johnson is a politician. Justice Alito is really supposed to be an impartial justice here, one of nine sitting on the country's highest court. And already from last week, we heard Democrats calling for Justice Alito to recuse himself from any cases associated with January 6th. And there are two that we are awaiting rulings on. One actually involves whether certain Capitol rioters charged with obstruction can still be charged under a particular federal statute. The other case, of course, is the big one, whether Donald Trump should be immune from criminal prosecution as it relates to his January 6th case.

We have not heard any comment from Justice Alito about those calls to recuse, and we also haven't heard a statement from Justice Alito about this most recent revelation from The New York Times. But no doubt, Wolf, calls could keep growing, you know, now that this latest revelation has come out in The New York Times.

BLITZER: We'll be watching the reaction. Jessica, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton, he's also the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Ambassador, thanks for joining us.

So, as you just heard, a second flag related to the January 6th events was flown outside another one of Justice Samuel Alito's homes. Does this, in your mind, raise concerns about whether he can impartially serve on the U.S. Supreme Court?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Absolutely not. I think it is outrageous, outrageous and unacceptable for people to take a flag from the American Revolution and say that because some January 6th protesters flew it, that it's now unacceptable to fly that flag. And I'd like to hear a Democratic Party politician say that expressly.

You know, the January 6th people flew a lot of flags. The Gadsden flag, don't tread on me, they don't have the, the right or the ability to expropriate a patriotic symbol of the United States and then have everybody else say it belongs to them and condemn Sam Alito or anybody else for flying that flag.


I think what's unacceptable is this rush to find some reason to criticize Alito.

You know, I first heard about the upside down American flag as being a January 6 symbol when I read about it in the New York Times about a week ago. I have no idea what was on Justice Alito's wife's mind when she flew it but if somebody hadn't told me that they thought it was a symbol of the January 6th people. I wouldn't have guessed it. I would have thought maybe she was giving the finger to one of her neighbors, and that may not be appropriate either. But I'm telling you, it's gotten to a point where people trying to take symbols of American patriotism and turn them against Supreme Court justices is over the line.

BLITZER: But should a U.S. Supreme Court justice be using these flags that clearly right now at least have some political implications as well as some history there? But currently, they have political implications. Should a U.S. Supreme Court justice like Samuel Alito --

BOLTON: They do not. No, that's just wrong. That is just wrong.

BLITZER: Well, they do have political implications, both of these flags.

BOLTON: Well, they don't have political implications for me.

BLITZER: And they're involved in January 6th.

BOLTON: A lot of things are involved in January 6th.

BLITZER: It was used by those who supported the insurrection, as you know, and this other flag is also --

BOLTON: No, I didn't know that. Well, I didn't know that until I read it in The New York Times.

BLITZER: And that's why it's controversial. Here's the bottom line.

BOLTON: Yes, it's controversial for liberals. No, listen, Wolf. It's controversial for liberals who have it in for Sam Alito. It's not controversial for me, and I'm as against Donald Trump as anybody I know in this country.

BLITZER: So, the bottom line, as far as you're concerned, he should not recuse himself for the sake of the country?

BOLTON: Wolf, that's an unfair question, he should certainly not recuse himself. There's no indication that it was intended to express any support for January the 6th. And I'll tell you, those who are using this tactic against Alito now, it will come back to haunt them.

BLITZER: Well, I will tell you that those who supported the insurrection are using his flag displays as a basis of support for them.

BOLTON: Well, look, it's an American patriotic flag. I support the right of anybody to fly it, period.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about Nikki Haley's announcement today. You know her well from serving during the Trump administration together. You say Trump is dangerous and unfit for office, much like she did when she was a Republican candidate for the Republican nomination. So, what's your reaction to her announcement today?

BOLTON: Well, I'm disappointed. I think she's obviously made a political calculation that that it's in her interest to support Donald Trump. I am disappointed, but a lot of Republicans are making the same calculation because the performance of the Biden administration has been so appalling. And I believe, you know, if Donald Trump wins the election on election night, his victory speech should start off by thanking Joe Biden and the Democratic Party for nominating Biden against him.

BLITZER: You want to share with us who you were going to vote for?

BOLTON: Yes. I've said before on, on your network, in fact, as in 2020, I'm going to write in the name of Dick Cheney. I don't think Biden or Trump are fit to be president. And I'm not going to ruin my vote by voting for somebody who's not competent to hold the job.

BLITZER: You've also warned, Ambassador, that Trump would cause irreparable damage to U.S. national security in a second term, that he could withdraw from NATO, you've suggested that he could embolden America's enemies. What are the stakes of a second Trump term, and is Nikki Haley helping to enable that?

BOLTON: Well, I noticed that in her remarks, at least as reported in the press, she said that she wanted to support a president who would back America's allies and hold its enemies accountable. And that's not Donald Trump. That's not his record in office, and I'm very much afraid that would not be his performance if he did get a second term.

I don't know what Nikki's calculations are. I hope she's not thinking of being his vice president because I think for Trump, the two questions that are most important in interviewing prospective vice presidents are, number one, do you think the 2020 election was stolen? And number two, if I asked you to do something akin to what I asked Mike Pence to do on January the 6th, would you do it? And anybody who answers yes to either one of those questions, I think, is disqualified to be vice president. But I think if she's interested in, in that nomination, she's going to have to answer affirmatively some way or another to those two questions.


BLITZER: Always good to get your blunt views, Ambassador John Bolton. Thank you very much. We'll continue this conversation hopefully down the road.

Coming up, what the judge in the Trump classified documents case appears to be signaling right now about her views on new bids to get the charges tossed.

And as the Trump hush money trial nears its historic conclusion in the coming days, I'll ask Michael Cohen's lawyer about the impact of her client's testimony and the importance of jury instructions being finalized right now by the judge.


BLITZER: Tonight, it's not clear when the judge in the Trump classified documents case will rule on new efforts to get the criminal charges thrown out.


CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is in Fort Pierce, Florida, right now. That's where back to back hearings were held earlier today. Evan, you were in the courtroom. What can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we spent about five hours in court today. There were two hearings that the judge was presiding over, all of them having to do with motions by the former president and his co-defendants to try to dismiss these charges. The judge seemed skeptical of those efforts. She said that a lot of the arguments appeared to be things that could be handled before a jury.

However, the she did seem sympathetic to the idea that she believed that jurors may have a hard time understanding some of the complexities of what she said this case presents. I'll read you just a part of what she said from the bench. She says it's going to be hard for someone to detect what's different with these counts.

Now, that's part of the argument that the defendants have been making. They're saying that there's technical issues that were with the indictment of why they believe some of these charges should be tossed. There was also a heated part of the hearing where the defense -- there was a an attorney, Stan Woodward, who represents Walt Nauta, one of the co defendants. He accused prosecutors of essentially mentioning the fact that he was up for a potential judgeship as a way to try to get him and his client to try to cooperate with the investigation. That prompted a response from David Harbaugh, who's one of the prosecutors, and he said this was simple fantasy. Now, Wolf, at the end of these two hearings, the judge did not make a ruling. And one of the things we keep waiting for, Wolf, is for a potential new trial date. The judge had canceled the trial, which was supposed to get started sometime this week. She has not yet set, set a trial date, but, of course, as you know, Wolf, we have several more months before the election, and the judge has already scheduled multiple additional hearings for here in Fort Pierce. Wolf?

BLITZER: And we're showing our viewers pictures of those boxes of highly classified documents lying all around Mar-a-Lago, very, very open area indeed.

All right, Evan, thank you very much.

I want to move on to Donald Trump's hush money trial right now. Tonight, the judge in that trial is working to finalize jury instructions aiming to present them to both sides' lawyers tomorrow. Jurors are on track to get the case next week after closing arguments on Tuesday. Their deliberations could potentially hinge on the testimony of the prosecution's star witness, Michael Cohen.

Joining us now, Michael Cohen's lawyer, Danya Perry. Danya, thanks very much for joining us. Is your client, Michael Cohen, confident that the prosecutor successfully tied Trump to the alleged illegal activity in this case and met their burden beyond a reasonable doubt?

DANYA PERRY, MICHAEL COHEN'S LAWYER: Look, the trial is still pending, so I'll leave his feelings aside and what matters here in the judge will so instruct the jury, not feelings, but facts, cold, hard facts. And Michael Cohen did lay out in what must have been excruciating detail for the defense many, many facts that, if believed, will establish the prosecution's case beyond a reasonable doubt, facts which were corroborated by some 20 witnesses and a mountain of evidence, phone records and, in fact, contemporaneous notes that whatever the defense wants to say about Mr. Cohen, he could not have made up. They were outside of his control, including a famous exhibit 35, which was Allen Weisselberg's contemporaneous notes about exactly how the illegal campaign contribution was going to be paid back as legal expenses to Mr. Cohen.

So, look, I'll tell you what I felt. I felt that his testimony came in great, both on direct and cross and redirect and re-cross. But we'll see. The jury will have it in his hands on Tuesday. And all that matters is the way that they received the testimony,

BLITZER: As you know, Danya, Judge Merchan, he potentially could decide on jury instructions as soon as tomorrow. How significant do you expect the instructions will be to the ultimate verdict in this case?

PERRY: The instructions are always critical. It's the last thing a jury hears before they go into the jury room to deliberate. And this, I was in the courtroom for a week, and I observed the jury closely. They appear to be a very attentive group. They appear to be in line with each other, which is always interesting to look for and always something the prosecution will be happy to observe. [18:40:00]

And they nodded along with the judge when he would give them just their ordinary day-to-day instructions about not to look at the press and not to talk about the case or form an opinion. And so I have every reason to believe they will take his instructions very, very seriously. And there are some serious matters that are under consideration.

And so, while it's not the most scandalous or scintillating part of the trial for the press corps, in fact, it is of utmost critical for the jury, they've heard five weeks now of testimony and now they have to lay those facts onto this legal scaffolding and apply the facts to the law, as instructed by the judge. So, always important and certainly important in this case.

BLITZER: Very important, indeed. Danya Perry, thank you very much for joining us.

And just ahead, we're following new developments on the newest lawsuit against Sean Diddy Combs, where another woman is now publicly accusing the musician of sexual assault.


BLITZER: Tonight, rapper and producer Sean Diddy Combs is facing a new lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault. This comes just days after CNN obtained exclusive surveillance video of Combs attacking his then- girlfriend back in 2016.


CNN's Brian Todd has our report. We have to warn our viewers, some may find some of the video in this report disturbing.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After meeting rap mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs at a 2003 Fashion Week event in Manhattan, the latest accuser alleges he drugged and sexually assaulted her.

Crystal McKinney in a new lawsuit alleges Combs promised to help advance her career, asked her to come to his studio later, gave her a laced marijuana joint and forced her to perform a sex act on him. She says afterwards, she lost consciousness and woke up riding in a taxi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crystal McKinney is the southern --

TODD: McKinney whose career was launched five years earlier when she won an MTV fashion model contest at age 17 says she later suffered depression and substance abuse and attempted suicide.

DEBRA KATZ, WOMEN'S RIGHTS ATTORNEY: This is exactly what happens to victims of sexual violence. Their lives are upended. The depression and the self-blaming and the attempted suicide, as we saw in this case, is unfortunately quite commonplace and it's tragic. TODD: The McKinney lawsuit comes just days after CNN obtained and

aired exclusive surveillance video from 2015, showing Combs kicking and dragging his then-girlfriend, Cassie Ventura, in the hallway of the hotel.

That attack was referenced in a civil lawsuit last year, that Ventura brought against Combs. Ventura alleged that Combs raped her and subjected her to repeated physical abuse over the course of their relationship. That lawsuit was settled.

Combs' attorney said, at the time the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, but after CNN released the attack video, Combs issued this video message.

SEAN "DIDDY" COMBS, MUSIC MOGUL: I make no excuses. My behavior on that video is inexcusable. I take full responsibility for my actions in that video, disgusted.

After the hotel assault video was released, Misa Hylton, the mother of Combs' eldest son, wrote on Instagram about Ventura, quote, I know exactly how she feels and through my empathy, it has triggered my own trauma.

The complaint from Crystal McKinney is the seventh lawsuit in which Combs has been named in recent months, six of them containing allegations of sexual assault.

Combs has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

This also comes on the heels of a raid on two of his properties by a Homeland Security unit that handles crimes, including human trafficking.

A stunning turn for the enormously successful Grammy Award-winning rapper, record label executive and fashion mogul.

CHARLES LATIBEAUDIERE, TMZ EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: It is just stunning to see someone that we have a lot of us have grown up listening to his music and enjoying him as an entertainer. It's really difficult to think about that and to see him in that light after you see him doing this in this video.


TODD (on camera): Regarding the latest allegations from Crystal McKinney, CNN has reached out to representatives for Sean Combs and for McKinney for comment. We've also reached out to Combs label Bad Boy Records, Sean John Clothing, and to Universal Music Group Incorporated, which were also named as defendants in McKinney's lawsuit. We've not gotten comment from any of them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you, Brian, very much.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: The families of seven female Israeli soldiers have just released graphic video of their abduction by Hamas.

CNN's Bianna Golodryga has the story for us.

We want to warn our viewers, some of the footage is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You dogs we'll step on you.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Horrific new video released of Israeli female soldiers captured at their base at Nahal Oz along the Gaza border on the morning of October 7th, revealing the violent nature of their abduction and the brutality that they experienced at the hands of Hamas.

The video obtained by CNN was previously released by Hamas, then edited by IDF, and later released to the families of the hostages.

In it, you can see several female IDF soldiers, all border observers, their faces bloodied and bruised, their hands bound as they're forced against the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our brothers died because of you -- we will shoot you all.

GOLODRYGA: They are outnumbered by Hamas militants who are heard in a chaotic scene shouting, praying and interrogating the soldiers.

Five of the seven women seen in the video are currently still believed to be held captive by Hamas 229 days after being taken. The three most prominently seen in the video are Liri Albag, Agam Berger, and Naama Levy, all 19 years old.

NAAMA LEVY, IDF HOSTAGE: I have friends in Palestine!

GOLODRYGA: We spoke with Naama's mother, Ayelet Levy Shachar shortly after the video was released.

DR. AYELET LEVY SHACHAR, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE NAAMA LEVY: She was part of a youth program promoting peace. She met with -- when she was on a delegation to California, she met with different youth from Israel, Palestine, Jewish Americans.

GOLODRYGA: This previously released video of Naama being pulled out of a Jeep, her pants bloodied, raised concern about Hamas using sexual violence as a weapon of war.

A United Nations representative issued a report following a visit to Israel and the West Bank earlier this year.

PRAMILA PATTEN, U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT: We also have reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may still be ongoing against those still held in captivity.

GOLODRYGA: The families of these soldiers agree to release this video now out of frustration over what they view as inaction from officials, including Israeli officials, to prioritize a hostage deal. The Hostage and Missing Families Forum releasing this statement in part, the video serves as an indictment for a national failure and the abandoning of the hostages.

SHACHAR: We feel that time and time again, the negotiations are not proceeding due to different reasons. Obviously, the Hamas have there, they're part of it. This cannot be aside story so, yes, I think this is the video that we agonized over if we should be having it published, et cetera, and some of the families didn't even -- some of the family members didn't even watch it until now.


I think it should be shown to citizens in order to promote this, to mobilize our government to put this in the top priority, and to move ahead and bring them all home.

GOLODRYGA: Is it true that some members of the government did not want to watch this video?

SHACHAR: The ministers and members of the government where were asked to watch a version of this video in their meetings, and some of them refused and said, you know, we want to sleep okay at night, so we don't want to watch this now. So, if this is the reaction when their duty is to watch all these materials of October 7 and everything from that point on, this is their job, so they can make correct decisions, then, you know, we would think that we should just put it out there for our citizens and for the world to see.

GOLODRYGA: Bianna Golodryga, CNN.


BLITZER: Thank you, Bianna.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.