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Jury Selected In Hunter Biden Federal Trial On Gun Charges; Trump Camp, RNC Report $141 Million Raised In May Amid Trial, Conviction; Chaos As GOP Grills Dr. Fauci On COVID, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) Goes On Attack; Trump Joins TikTok After Trying To Ban It As President. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 03, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: According to North Korean state media, the move was to retaliate against South Korean activists who often send packages across the border, not containing trash, though.

New video shows Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, which started erupting earlier today, the U.S. Geological Survey says there is no lava threat to nearby communities, but some areas could see elevated gases in the air and the volcanic ash could be a risk for airplanes. Scientists say there's no way to know how long the eruption will last.

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, a jury was just selected in Hunter Biden's federal trial on gun charges with opening statements now expected tomorrow morning. We're breaking down the legal issues and the political stakes in this unprecedented prosecution of a sitting president's child.

Also tonight, new evidence of the Trump campaign profiting off of the former president's historic criminal trial and conviction. The Trump camp reporting it raised a combined total of $141 million along with the Republican National Committee last month in a huge boost in fundraising.

And chaos erupts as a Republican-led House panel grills Dr. Anthony Fauci about his role in the U.S. response to COVID, with GOP flamethrower Marjorie Taylor Greene going on the attack and refusing to address Fauci as doctor.

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

Let's get right to the breaking news on the Hunter Biden trial with a jury now in place and the president's son facing three felony gun charges. CNN's Paula Reid reports on the case and the first family's reaction as the trial gets underway.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hunter Biden entering federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, today, the first child of a sitting president to face criminal prosecution. The jury now seated in his trial on multiple gun charges. First Lady Jill Biden, Hunter's stepmother, attended court Monday in the latest show of support from his family.

JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: I love Hunter and I'll support him in any way I can.

REID: Even in the middle of a close presidential race, President Biden has been unwavering in his support for his only living son.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm very proud of my son.

REID: The two seen at a state dinner last month at church together last week and riding bicycles in Rehoboth Beach over the weekend. In a statement today, he said, I am the president, but I am also a dad. Jill and I love our son and we are so proud of the man he is today.

Hunter has been charged in part with lying on this ATF form when he purchased a firearm. Prosecutors allege he failed to reveal he was a drug addict and using at the time. Hunter has entered a plea of not guilty, although he has been open about his struggles with addiction.

HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: I went one time for 13 days without sleeping and smoking crack and drinking vodka exclusively throughout that entire time.

REID: Potential jurors were asked questions about people they knew dealing with substance abuse. Some were excused after saying they couldn't be impartial over their political views, one with a very negative view of the Biden family, and another saying that after the Trump trial in New York, he believed prosecutors charged cases based on politics. Another dismissed because he played squash with Beau Biden.

H. BIDEN: I've made mistakes in my life and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded. For that, I'm responsible.

REID: Hunter was expected to resolve his gun charges as part of a plea deal, but that fell apart last year.

ABBE LOWELL, HUNTER BIDEN'S ATTORNEY: Hunter owned an unloaded gun for 11 days. There will never have been a charge like this brought in the United States.

REID: As he fights two criminal cases, he has also taken a more aggressive strategy towards dealing with Republican-led investigations on Capitol Hill.

REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Hunter Biden should be arrested right here right now and go straight to jail.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Excuse me, Hunter. Apparently, you're afraid of my words. REID: His second criminal trial on tax charges is scheduled to begin in September in Los Angeles.


REID (on camera): And we have new details about the makeup of this jury. It's comprised of six men, six women. The majority of the jurors are black. It includes one woman who said she has lost people close to her to drug addiction, also several gun owners, including one who says he believes that even people who have used marijuana should have the right to own firearms.


Now, tomorrow, court will kick off with opening statements from both sides, and the prosecution's first witness will be an FBI agent who worked on this case. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Paula, thank you, Paula Reid, reporting for us.

I want to bring in our legal and political experts right now, and Elliot Williams, how strong is this case? How likely do you think a conviction is?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Sure, and I'm always reluctant as a former prosecutor to ever call a case strong, but let me say this, it's straightforward. When you talk about firearms possession cases based on a prohibition, what you have here is did the individual possess the firearm and were they addicted to or using drugs at the time?

As far as prosecutions go, that's very straightforward. There're two elements of it. You have to prove that the firearm was possessed and then you have to prove the addiction either before or after. On account of things that Hunter Biden has written in the public record and acknowledged his use and, frankly, his struggles with addiction in addition to the possession, that's really not that hard to prove if you're a prosecutor. Now, on also the purchase, same thing, that's largely based on documents.

So, look, hard to say. Everything depends on what the jury believes, how credible they find the witnesses and the testimony and the evidence that they get. But this is as straightforward and probably easy as a prosecution can be.



BLITZER: Yes, a lot of evidence there. Norm Eisen, what do you -- you heard Paula Reid talk about the makeup of the jury. What do you believe? What do you think this jury is like?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it sounds like some of the, those who may have brought predispositions to the voir dire, to the selection of the jury, have been screened out. And that's appropriate. We know we are in a highly charged environment, a political one for jurors, in the wake of the Trump trial in Manhattan, which has resonated around the country. I'm confident in the jury process. It worked well in Manhattan. As you know, Wolf, I saw that jury every day. For almost two months, and I believe that this Delaware jury can deliver a fair verdict.

I will say that Hunter's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has pointed to the infirmity of gun charges, some gun charges, in the wake of the Bruin decision by the Supreme Court, which calls some of these charges into question. He tried to get an advance appellate ruling from the Third Circuit. They turned him down last week. There will be substantial appellate issues here. Not unlike certain other cases we sometimes talk about.

BLITZER: Other cases, indeed. You know, David Chalian, you heard President Biden expressing his love, his strong support for his son right now. How's this all going to play out politically for him?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You'll notice also in that same statement where he said, you know, he's a father, first and foremost, that he also pointed to his son's drug addiction as something that many American families have experienced. And I think those two things are what the Biden folks believe can mitigate some of the potential political damage that could be done here, the drug addiction that many Americans have experienced with family members or themselves or the like, and the love of a parent.

But, clearly, this is an issue. If you talk to anyone inside the White House, anyone inside the Biden campaign, this is not a topic that you want to bring up with the president, with the boss in a meeting. This is really something that's in that personal family realm for him and he doesn't see it in that political space.

BORGER: Biden is never going to abandon his son.

BLITZER: Clearly.

BORGER: And no matter what the political implications are. And as you point out, look, there could be a lot of public sympathy for the family and even for Hunter, who has admitted to his drug addiction and has admitted to his problems and all the rest of it. But this trial, and I think you would agree, Norm, this trial is going to have some pretty nasty moments.

You know, the witnesses are going to be Hunter Biden's ex-wife, his ex-girlfriend. I mean, it's not going to be pretty. And you'll probably be able to see text messages that talk about the family. And nobody wants that exposed, much less the current president of the United States, who is going to be debating Donald Trump, who will talk about anything during a debate. And I think that that is going to be a difficulty for the family.

So, there are, you know, there are two sides to this and no one would prefer that your son be on trial for gun possession and then, again, in California coming up on tax evasions.

BLITZER: Elliot, what do you expect to hear in the prosecution's opening statements tomorrow morning?

WILLIAMS: I would say, keep it simple, walk through what the defendant is charged with. He is charged with possessing and purchasing a firearm unlawfully under federal law. Set aside your beliefs, ladies and gentlemen, whatever you think about anything else. And what we are assessing here is whether this person committed these acts.

So, for instance, we saw in Jessica's report that one of the jurors believes that people who use marijuana should be allowed to possess firearms, which actually violates federal law. You say, set aside anything you believe, and just focus on the facts and the law. And like I said a little bit earlier, it's a relatively straightforward charge in prosecution, setting aside some of the constitutional questions that Norm has raised here.


Look, I prosecuted felon and possession of firearms cases. It's the same provision in the law and it's really easy as far as prosecutions go.

BLITZER: Norm, what do you expect to hear from the defense?

EISEN: The defense is going to point to some of the gaps in the case, such as that this gun was removed by one person, taken to a trash can, and then apprehended by another person. So, they're going to point to the ellipses in the chain of custody and say, can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Hunter Biden possessed it? Can you prove that at that moment, when he filled out the form that he was on drugs, can you prove that those are his drugs that are on the bag? Maybe it's these multiple people who handled it, who are responsible and poke holes in the evidence. And they're going to set up their appeal because the Supreme Court has been very hostile to some of our modern gun laws, using as the standard, would a drug user have been prohibited from having guns at the time of the Constitution, the adoption of the Second Amendment? And the answer is, I disagree with it, but it is the Supreme --

CHALIAN: So, you're saying gun rights advocates are going to save a Biden?

WILLIAMS: It's upside down. Literally, it's upside down now where you have gun rights advocates versus conservatives.

But here's a question I have for you, Norm, and I'm curious about this. Setting aside the constitutional question, which is an important one, but that's not in front of the jury and they're not going to be considering, would you have your client plead guilty to this?

EISEN: Yes, I would go back and bring -- I have the plea agreement here, bring that plea agreement back from the --

BORGER: Can you do that?

WILLIAMS: Until he's convicted, they can still plead. And because enhanced sentence he would get if he goes to trial and would be likely to get convicted, I think, based on what we see here, you got a problem.

BORGER: What about the question that he didn't consider himself an addict at the time?

WILLIAMS: He wrote about it.


BLITZER: All right. Guys, there's a lot more we're going to be discussing. Everybody stand by. Thank you very, very much.

Also, just ahead here in The Situation Room inside Donald Trump's post-conviction strategy for rallying his base, pulling in campaign cash and warning about what might happen if he goes to jail.

Plus, fireworks out there up on Capitol Hill as Republicans grill Dr. Anthony Fauci yet again about the origins of COVID.


GREENE: Do the American people deserve to be abused like that, Mr. Fauci? Because you're not doctor, you're Mr. Fauci in my few minutes.




BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump and his allies are working on multiple fronts to capitalize on his historic criminal conviction. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee raking in a reported $141 million in May as the trial played out and culminated with those 34 guilty verdicts against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is working her sources in Trump world for us. Kristen, tell us more about the fundraising gains and how the Trump team is spinning all of this.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly is a lot of spin, but if you ask Trump's advisers, they say that they are just doing what they can to manage an unprecedented and likely negative situation. And as you noted, part of that means trying to capitalize as much as they can in terms of politics and finances.

And if you talk about that $141 million that they raised in May, $70 million, they say, they raised since the verdict came out. The interesting thing about that is that it's just that hard money, that it's just money that went directly to the campaign and the RNC, not the money that went to Super PACs, which they say is millions of dollars. Of course, we'll wait until we get those FEC reports.

But it's not just Trump's allies, it's also those potential vice presidential picks who are all weighing in, jumping to Trump's defense. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARA TRUMP, CO-CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: In 48 hours after Donald Trump's verdict was read, our campaign and the RNC raised $70 million in digital fundraising.

The American people are upset and they spoke out about it.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): This verdict has actually brought unifying our party. Without any question, what we've seen is never Trumpers calling me and saying, Tim, I'm on the bandwagon now.

I've seen donors who've been on the sidelines this entire process now jumping in.


HOLMES: And you're hearing that from senior advisors as well, that this is rallying the Republican Party, but what is not clear is how this is going to impact November. They are still seeing those polls coming out, and it is just too early to tell what this actually means about voters going to the polls.

BLITZER: And, Kristen, what is Trump himself saying about all of this?

HOLMES: Well, he's saying quite a bit, but recently he responded to this idea of whether or not he would go to jail. Take a listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm okay with it. I don't know that the public would stand it, you know? I don't, I'm not sure the public would stand for it with a --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you saying (INAUDIBLE) house arrest or --

D. TRUMP: I think, I think it would be tough for the public to take. You know, at a certain point, there's a breaking point.


HOLMES: Now, he has told people behind closed doors that what will be will be. At one point, he said he didn't mind if he went to jail. Those people around him do not believe that to actually be the case.

The other thing that he said is he went on Truth Social and seemed to be asking the Supreme Court at one point to take over his sentencing. It was unclear. He said that the Supreme Court must make their decision, but it wasn't clear what he wanted them to decide, Wolf.

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

I want to bring in more of our political experts right now to assess what's going on. [18:20:03]

Scott Jennings, a massive haul, a massive amount of money coming in, especially since the conviction on all of these counts. What's your takeaway?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's reminiscent of the period of the Republican Party of 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearing, honestly, where you had all corners of the party basically in unison that someone was being railroaded. And so they unified around that and obviously then Kavanaugh got confirmed.

Regarding this haul, this is exactly what they needed because they've been running behind Biden on the money chase. And what they need to do is jack up turnout. Ground game operations are expensive, finding the kinds of voters, registering them, turning them out that they've got to do costs a lot of money. So, this is the shot in the arm they needed.

BLITZER: Well, let me get Maria to react to that. A huge fundraising for the Republicans right now, including Trump, of course. Should Democrats be worried about how this is going to play out?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Democrats are focused on continuing to raise the massive and historic amounts of money that they have raised, which has allowed them to already do everything that Scott says the Republicans still need to do.

The Biden campaign has massive infrastructure all over the country, especially in the battleground states. They open up an office, you know, once every month, if not more. And so I think that the Biden campaign needs to continue to focus on that.

My question to the Trump campaign is how much of that money is actually going to go to the campaign and how much of that money is going to go to paying Trump's legal bills, because the chair of the RNC on Sunday, on this network, was not able to answer that question.

BLITZER: Interesting question, indeed. You know, David, in a new ABC News poll, and you've seen the results, voter reaction to the Trump verdict largely breaks down, of course, understandably, along party lines. But among the so called double haters, double haters, voters who dislike both Trump and Biden, 65 percent of them say they think the verdict this week was correct, with 67 percent believing Trump should end his presidential campaign. What does that say about Trump's prospects come November?

WILLIAMS: Yes. Well, those aren't welcome numbers, the Trump campaign, but to your point about the prospects come November, we're still going to wait to see how this impacts the overall standing of the race. We saw a couple polls come out this weekend. And the overall positioning of the candidates, their favorable and unfavorables don't tend to have changed all that much in the immediate aftermath. What is interesting though is majorities of Americans in both polls that came out over the weekend do believe that the verdict is correct and right. And you just said you just pointed to these double haters, the people have unfavorable opinion of both. This is a key swath of the electorate that both campaigns are going to target here. So, the fact that two thirds of them think his campaign should end, I mean, overall in that ABC poll Wolf, 49 percent said his campaign should end. Now, the reality is his campaign is not ending. So, again, I go back to saying that I think the fundamentals of the race, we don't yet know how much the earth has shifted beneath it.

BLITZER: How concerned should Republicans be about this?

JENNINGS: I'm not terribly concerned yet because something else is going to happen at the end of the month, and it's called a debate. I actually think when these two candidates get in the ring here on CNN and talk about these issues. And that to me is going to be a lot more determinative about where this race is going to be going into the convention.

So, really, I think the Trump campaign is looking forward to that because I think they believe if they get Biden on stage for an hour- and-a-half, it's going to become clear he's not up to a second term.

BLITZER: Maria, I want to get your reaction to what the North Korea governor, Doug Burgum, who is a potential Trump vice presidential candidate said about the impact of the verdict. Let's listen to this.


GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): Americans are going to come back to the issues that affect them because this trial outcome doesn't affect them. The inflation affects them.


BLITZER: The North Dakota governor, I misspoke. Apologize to him on that, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. What's your reaction to that?

CARDONA: It's true that the campaign and the election is going to be focused on issues. But I think what he doesn't understand and what people who continue to say, it's going to be all about the economy and all about inflation, and, yes, of course, Americans are worried about that, but Americans also have the ability to hold more than one issue in their head. Americans absolutely have the ability to hold the economy, inflation, abortion, and the fact that, you know what, I don't want a convicted felon as the president of the United States.

And that's what I think at the bottom line, when people go into that ballot box, and, yes, it's going to all depend on how the next months of this campaign play out. And I agree with Scott that the, the debate is going to be key, the Biden campaign and the president himself is really looking forward to it because they believe that if they get Donald Trump in front of Joe Biden, side to side, and Joe Biden continues to talk about the deficiencies and how unfit the former president is, you know, Donald Trump can just throw a fit because we all know that it's very hard for him to control himself.

And so voters are going to have that in mind.


And I think at the end of the day, the majority of them are not going to want a convicted felon in the White House.

BLITZER: It's interesting, on another very sensitive political issue out there, a security issue as well, the president, President Biden, is expected to announce as early as tomorrow an executive order that would severely limit the number of asylum seekers coming in through the southern border into the United States. This is one of the top issues, as we all know, going into the 2024 presidential campaign. How could this impact the campaign?

CHALIAN: I think this is an enormous development in this race with this announcement tomorrow, depending on what it is, and I'll turn to Maria here in a moment to ask her. Because I think what is clear here, A, we know it's an issue that Joe Biden is running far behind on. It's one of his weakest spots in all the polling. So, whenever you're stepping into talk about and address something that is a weak spot, it's not your greatest day on the campaign trail. That's one.

But, two, just pointing to Donald Trump killing that compromise bill in Congress on this clearly is not sufficient. The Biden campaign believes they still need to do more to get right with the American people. But here's the problem. It's going to inevitably invite some backlash from some progressives in the left and the left in his own home as he gets tougher on border security. And so watching him, the president and his team balance all of that, is going to be critical. But how much backlash do you think there's going to be, Maria?

CARDONA: So, I think you're right about that, David. And the key word that you just said is balance. Because what this president needs to do needs to lean in on, and he talked about this in the state of the union is to focus on, really strong border security which Democrats have always been for and Republicans have always wanted to weaponize, but to also offer expanded legal pathways, which we hope that that will happen soon.

JENNINGS: You know what's interesting to me is that, lately, Joe Biden has taken two positions right out of the Trump playbook. One is on this asylum executive order, which is a Trump order, and the other is on tariffs on China. Two issues, one economic, one border security. Biden is playing on Trump's playground here.

BLITZER: We'll see the details of this decision by the president tomorrow. That's coming up. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Also coming up here in the Situation Room, a chaotic hearing up on Capitol Hill, how Dr. Anthony Fauci responded to fiery attacks from Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.


[18:31:37] BLITZER: On Capitol Hill today, a House hearing on the coronavirus devolved into chaos as Republicans, including hard right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene badgered Dr. Anthony Fauci about the COVID vaccines and the origins of the virus.

CNN's Lauren Fox has our report.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Dr. Anthony Fauci once again defending his actions and recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic in his first public congressional testimony since he retired in 2022.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We were having people for reasons that had nothing to do with public health or science, refusing to adhere to public health intervention measures.

FOX: As Republicans sought to undermine his credibility.

GREENE: Do the American people deserve to be abused like that, Mr. Fauci? Because you're not doctor, you're Mr. Fauci in my few minutes.

FOX: Republicans accusing Fauci of trying to downplay a theory that the coronavirus may have originated in a lab, something Fauci adamantly denied.

FAUCI: I did not edit any paper as shown in my official testimony. So, you said about four or five things, Congressman, that were just not true.

REP. DEBBIE LESKO (R-AZ): Well, we have emails to prove it.

FAUCI: Well, you don't.

FOX: Despite intense questioning from Republicans, like Congressman Jim Jordan.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Did U.S. tax dollars flow through a grant recipient to the lab in China?

FAUCI: Yes, of course. It was a sub-award to the Wuhan Institute --

JORDAN: And who approved that award? What agency approved that award?

FAUCI: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

JORDAN: Your agency approved that, right?

FAUCI: Yes, it did, after --

JORDAN: Does that have anything to do with this downplaying of the lab leak theory?

FAUCI: No. JORDAN: Nothing to do with it?

FAUCI: Nothing.

JORDAN: Do you agree that there was a push to downplay the lab leak theory?

FAUCI: Not on my part.

JORDAN: Really?

FAUCI: Really.

JORDAN: Wow. I think most of the country would find that, find that amazing. I still got 11 seconds.

FAUCI: But look at the facts. I've kept an open mind throughout the entire process.

FOX: During the nearly four-hour hearing, Republicans seizing on a series of private emails, suggesting some NIH aides may have attempted to bypass public disclosure requirements.

FAUCI: The individuals at the NIH and NIAID are a very committed group of individuals, and this one instance that you point out is an aberrancy and an outlier.

FOX: And Republicans questioning some of the key guidance government officials gave in the early days of the pandemic.

REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-OH): While policy decisions should have been based on scientific data, some frankly were not, the burdensome six- foot social distancing rule did not have sufficient scientific report. In your words, it just sort of appeared.

FOX: Democrats sought to defend Fauci, applauding his leadership on the COVID vaccine and defending his right to be addressed as a doctor in the hearing room.

REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D--CA): Are we allowed to deny that a doctor is a doctor just because we don't want him to be a doctor?

GREENE: Yes, because in my time, that man does not deserve to have a license. As a matter of fact, it should be revoked and he belongs in prison.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lady will suspend.

GARCIA: So, that's completely unacceptable to be able to deny Dr, Fauci, who's here, a respected member of the medical community, his title, and that's actually a personal attack on his character?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have instructed her --

GREENE: He's not respected

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I've instructed her to address him as a doctor.


GREENE: I'm not addressing him as a doctor.

GARCIA: Dr. Fauci. I am so sorry you just had to sit through that that was completely irresponsible. Quite frankly, some -- we are hearing, this might be the most insane hearing I've actually attended. I've only been in Congress for a year-and-a-half, but I am so sorry that you are subjected to those level of attacks and insanity.


FOX: Lauren Fox, CNN, Capitol Hill.


BLITZER: And our thanks to CNN's Lauren Fox for that report.

I want to bring in Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. She attended today's hearing. Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. What was it like inside this hearing because you heard Marjorie Taylor Greene refused to even call Dr. Fauci by his title?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (R-MI): You know, quite frankly, she was one of the worst moments of the hearing. She was disrespectful, repeating misinformation and she was Marjorie. She wanted to get attention and was doing everything she could to get attention and to cause Dr. Fauci embarrassment.

The fact of the matter is I sat through 14 hours of deposition that the Republicans did. We have looked at -- they weren't made public until Friday while they were months ago. There is no evidence that Dr. Fauci did any of the allegations that have been made. This is a man with a respectful record. A lot of us did not. I mean, what we need to be doing is working together in a bipartisan way so that we're ready for the next pandemic, which is going to come. It's not a matter of if, it's going to be when, and instead people were taught theatrics and try to demonize him, somebody who has made great contributions to health care in this country.

BLITZER: Dr. Fauci at one point, we all noticed, got choked up answering your questions, Congresswoman, about the death threats to him and his family since the pandemic. Let's watch this clip.


FAUCI: There have been credible death threats leading to the arrests of two individuals, and credible death threats mean someone who clearly was on their way to kill me. And it's required my having protective services essentially all the time. It is very troublesome to me. It is much more troublesome because they've involved my wife and my three daughters.

DINGELL: At this moment, how do you feel? Keep your mic on.

FAUCI: Terrible.

DINGELL: Do you continue to receive threats today?

FAUCI: Yes, I do.


BLITZER: So, Congresswoman, did Republicans put Dr. Fauci at even more risk today by publicly blasting his credibility?

DINGELL: I'm certain that they did. And, you know, we got to take this further, Wolf. What I'm concerned about is how people don't trust public health at the local level, at the state level and the national level. People don't want to go into public health. They're afraid of it. They're afraid of the attacks, the hate, the division that's out there. And yet, it is public health that keeps us safe.

And, you know, when COVID started, we didn't have a lot of answers. We're investigating a lot of things. I want to make it clear, Dr. Fauci told me back then, and has over the course of these years, always said, we don't know where it came from. He was open to a lab leak, could have come from animals. It was the Trump administration that didn't push China to let us in when we should have been allowed in that country to figure out what was going to happen.

Public health matters to all of us. You know, we almost eradicated smallpox, polio, measles. Now, we have measles in Michigan because people won't get immunized. People's lack of trust in public health officials is scary and threatening to this country.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, thanks very much for joining us.

And just ahead Israel reveals the deaths of four more hostages in Gaza amid an uproar over a potential ceasefire deal. We have details right after a quick break.



BLITZER: In Israel tonight, the military has informed the families of four hostages being held in Gaza that they're no longer alive, this as the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, pushes back on a ceasefire proposal laid out by President Biden.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is covering the story for us from Jerusalem. CNN's M.J. Lee has details from the White House.

First to you, Jeremy. What are you learning about these hostages and how does this influence the push for a deal?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Israeli military today delivering the absolute worst news that the families of these four hostages could hope for in the last eight months, telling them that they believe that their loved ones are dead. The Israeli military's top spokesman, Daniel Hagari, saying that they were killed a few months ago, according to recently reviewed intelligence, he also noted that they were killed while the Israeli military was operating in Khan Younis. A question mark there as to whether or not it was Israeli fire that was responsible for their deaths, but Hagari acknowledging that there are difficult questions about the circumstances of their deaths.

And as all of this is happening, it's certainly raising more public pressure on the Israeli government to stand by and implement this is latest Israeli proposal for a ceasefire and hostage deal. The Israeli prime minister has spent the last couple of days really walking away from some of the key parts of this deal, indicating that this will not lead to an end of the war, which was very much the way that President Biden tried to frame the deal on Friday.

And the Israeli prime minister is doing that for one key reason, and that's because two far right members of his governing coalition have threatened, to walk to topple the government altogether if the Israeli prime minister moves forward with the deal. And what's interesting is not only has the Israeli Prime Minister not been successful so far in trying to convince them that this is a good deal that they could support, but at the same time, there are now new concerns, Wolf, inside the Israeli government, according to two sources who I spoke with, concerns that the Israeli prime minister is, in fact, undermining the very fabric of this deal and the way in which its being sold to Hamas by the mediators by focusing so much on the fact that he will not allow this to lead to an end of the war until all the conditions of this war are met, meaning the destruction of Hamas.


There is a key part of this deal that is very much intended to be ambiguous about how exactly you go from a six-week ceasefire, one that can be extended for weeks or months even, and ultimately leading to a longer-term, perhaps even a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Ultimately, Wolf, Netanyahu may very well faced the question of whether or not to see the survival of his government or to support this deal. But in the meantime, the only way he will actually have to face that question is if Hamas response positively and agrees to this proposal, we're still waiting for Hamas's official response -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, MJ, you're over at the White House. How is the White House responding to Prime Minister Netanyahu?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there has been some interesting maneuvering going on here by President Biden. White House officials acknowledged that it was quite unusual for President Biden to be the first to publicly unveil the details of an Israeli ceasefire proposal that we are told that U.S. officials did give a heads-up to their Israeli counterparts about this speech that he gave back last Friday. That speech, of course, was aimed at trying to get all of the parties that are involved to finally agree to ceasefire agreement that has been so elusive for a number of months now. But today at the White House, we saw White House officials sort of

trying to downplay this idea that there is daylight between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

I asked White House spokesman John Kirby to explain the fact that President Biden said in his speech last week that Hamas has been degraded to such a point that it could no longer a perpetrate another October 7 like attack, but then we saw the prime minister immediately after that speech from the president saying that the destruction of Hamas still needs to happen before Israel would agree to a ceasefire.

And what Kirby's response to that was to basically sat sidestepped the question should and say that the U.S. agrees that Hamas and their ability to conduct that kind of attack, again must be prevented.

Now, just the backdrop here, of course, is that the prime minister is expected at some point to come to Washington to address Congress, here across town, but we don't know exactly right now when that date would be and just keep in mind the president, of course, has a very busy couple of weeks coming up with two foreign trips, and then, of course, the first presidential debate at the end of June as well.

For the time being, he is trying to put a lot of pressure and various regional leaders to convince Hamas to accept this latest proposal from Israel. Just today, for example, he did speak with the emir of Qatar the White House readout says that the president said Israel is ready to move forward with a proposal that's not exactly what the prime minister is indicating publicly, of course, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting, very sensitive moment indeed.

MJ Lee, Jeremy Diamond, to both of you, thank you very much.

Coming up, Donald Trump's flip flip-flop on TikTok. Why he's posting on the site he previously wanted to ban.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is pulling in millions of followers on TikTok just two days after joining the popular social media app, an app that he sought to ban when he was president.

Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, Trump apparently sees TikTok differently now that he's in the middle of this campaign.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He does, Wolf, but Trump's not the only candidate sending mixed messages about TikTok. President Biden, and the Biden campaign of done that as well. Apparently, the potential to draw votes from TikTok users is now a big enticement.


DANA WHITE, UFC HEAD: The president is now on TikTok.


TODD (voice-over): With that announcement by UFC head Dana White, Donald Trump has officially joined TikTok, the former president's first post on the platform coming Saturday night, and an ultimate fighting championship match in Newark, New Jersey.

And the former President is an instant TikTok hit, now with over four million followers just since Saturday night. This is a huge turnaround for Trump, who has president tried unsuccessfully to ban TikTok in the U.S., citing the company's links to China.

TRUMP: We'll either close up TikTok in this country for security reasons or it'll be sold.

TODD: Trump now says he opposes a nationwide TikTok ban, but Trump's flip-flop on TikTok isn't the only mixed message over the platform in this presidential campaign. President Biden's campaign launched its own TikTok account during this year's Super Bowl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jason Kelce or Travis Kelce?


TODD: Biden then signed a law in April that would force TikTok's parent company to sell the app to an American company or face an outright ban in the U.S.

All the while, Biden's campaign has posted several videos on TikTok, trolling Trump.

BIDEN: He cares about holding onto power. I care about you.

TODD: Analysts say for both the Biden and Trump campaigns concerns about TikTok hypocrisy are like secondary to the benefit of using the platform to reach voters who don't consume traditional media.

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR HOST: They want to try to reach out to those younger voters, those that Gen Z, millennial voter who will be out there. And especially those low information voters.

TODD: Analysts say TikTok is becoming more of a central place where young people are getting their news, even though the app has tried not to become news or politics centric. How would candidates use TikTok?

SARA FISCHER, SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER, AXIOS: Candidates are most likely to use TikTok to troll other candidates. At this point, they're not using it to explain their policy platforms. That's not necessarily what younger voters are going to TikTok to learn about. They want to see funny viral videos.


TODD: TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, national security agencies are concerned that the company could be beholden to the communist government in Beijing, which could lean on TikTok to share information about American users. TikTok rejects those concerns, but analysts say an election influence campaigns in on TikTok is not unthinkable.

LINDSAY GORMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER FOR TECHNOLOGY AND NATIONAL SECURITY: A foreign actor could place its thumb on the scale and maybe promote certain content that's favorable to a candidate that it wants to see in the White House and demoed content. That's favorable to a candidate it doesn't want to see.


TODD (on camera): TikTok has filed a legal challenge to the law that President Biden signed that would ban the app in the U.S. unless it finds a new owner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back with more news.


BLITZER: Voters in Mexico have just elected the country's first female president.

According to preliminary results, Claudia Sheinbaum is on track to win the largest election in Mexican history. Sheinbaum, a climate scientist and former mayor of Mexico City will also become the country's first-ever Jewish leader.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.