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Biden Democracy Speech at D-Day Site Draws Contrasts with Trump; Trump Takes Post-Conviction Fundraising Swing to Beverly Hills; Supreme Court Filings Reveal Donor Trip, Book Deals, Beyonce Tickets; New Insight Into Judge Overseeing Trump Classified Docs Case. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired June 07, 2024 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden stands where American heroes risk their lives in World War II to bolster his pro- democracy message and draw a sharp contrast with Donald Trump. A top Biden ally, Congressman James Clyburn, joins us this hour to discuss the president's speech and his campaign against Trump.

Also tonight, court insiders offer a new portrait of the judge overseeing the Trump classified documents case, describing her as isolated and inexperienced. What that could mean for the case against Trump.

And revealing new financial disclosures were just filed by U.S. Supreme Court justices, documenting Clarence Thomas' donor paid trip to Bali, several justices lucrative book deals, and high-priced concert tickets Beyonce gave to Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

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

We're getting global reaction this hour to President Biden's newest appeal to preserve democracy abroad and at home. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is standing by for us in Berlin. But first, let's go to CNN's Kayla Tausche, she's in Paris. Kayla, the president spoke at Pointe du Hoc, the cliff scaled by American troops, very brave American troops, on D- Day exactly 80 years ago. What was his message?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was a forceful message, made even more powerful by the imagery that surrounded the president today, bright blue skies, turquoise waters in the English Channel. He was flanked by Utah and Omaha beaches where those D-Day troops came ashore on June 6th atop those cliffs that those army rangers scaled to secure those Nazi artillery and overlook positions and essentially represented the beginning of the end of World War II.

And President Biden, in his message today, said that those young men, those veterans, risked it all in 1944. And all he was asking, all they were asking the audience, was just to remember why they did it.

Here's the president.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're not asking us to give or risk our lives, but they are asking us to care for others in our country more than ourselves. They're not asking us to do their job. They're asking us to do our job to protect freedom in our time, to defend democracy, to stand up aggression abroad and at home, to be part of something bigger than ourselves.


TAUSCHE: In that speech, Biden evoked Ronald Reagan, who delivered a strikingly similar message from that exact point 40 years ago when the Cold War was underway and when Americans were frustrated with U.S. intervention overseas after Vietnam

Biden is in a very similar position, but in making this speech, he's also trying to strike a contrast with Donald Trump, his predecessor and GOP opponent, who has threatened to withdraw support both from Ukraine and from NATO.

And that contrast, Biden will seek to continue to extend throughout the weekend when he visits a World War I cemetery here in Paris that Trump declined to visit when he visited a few years ago, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting. All right, Kayla, the president, President Biden, also issued an apology to President Zelensky of Ukraine. Tell us about that.

TAUSCHE: Well, the two leaders were meeting today to discuss the state of play in Ukraine, where the country is just beginning to use American made weapons to strike inside Russia. The president was going to be getting an update on that strategy and announced a new $225 million aid package for Ukraine that included ammunition, artillery, and air defense systems that had long been in the works but had been delayed because it took so long six months for Congress to green light the newest aid package. That happened back in April, and it set Ukraine back on the battlefield, which is why Biden apologized.

Here's how he said it.


BIDEN: I'm not going to walk away from you. I apologize for those weeks of not knowing what's going to happen in terms of funding, because we had trouble getting the bill that we had to pass, that had the money in it. It's some of our very conservative members who are holding it up. But we got it done finally.


TAUSCHE: But with no end in sight for war in Ukraine, more money is expected to be needed. In Europe, there is little financial wherewithal. In the U.S., the political wherewithal is growing thin. So, next week at the G7 summit allies are going to be discussing a new plan to unlock up to $50 billion in a loan for Ukraine for them to fund some of their needs for the longer term.


And that's something that President Biden and President Macron will also be discussing during the state visit tomorrow. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kayla Tausche in Paris for us, Kayla, thank you very much.

I want to go to CNS Fred Pleitgen, right now. He is joining us for Berlin. Fred, how is President Biden's message today being received by allies and adversaries?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, my allies, I think, extremely important. And one of the ones, of course, was the person that President Biden was sitting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And I think that apology, especially, is very important to the Ukrainians, Wolf.

One of the things that the Ukrainians have been telling us in the many times that we've been on the ground with them as they were starving, they say, for those U.S. artillery shells as that aid was caught up in Congress, is they say, look, for the Ukrainians, this was all measured in lives. They say, potentially, thousands of Ukrainians were killed because they didn't have enough ammunition to fight back the Russians.

Now, of course, other allies also reassured by the words of President Biden. You look, for instance, at the French, who are now promising Mirage fighter jets to the Ukrainians. But also, where I am right here, Germany, Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, saying that he also, like President Biden, is now going to let the Ukrainians use German weapons to strike into Russian territory, also on a limited base, as well.

Very different, the adversaries, of course, Vladimir Putin, also a big day for him. He had a big speech and panel at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which is extremely important for the Russian leader. And there, he reiterated two things again, obviously very angry about President Biden's words, very angry about the U.S. allowing the Ukrainians to strike in Russian territory now, saying that, for the Russians, and they say that they don't know why they don't have the right to, for instance, give adversaries of the U.S. similar weapons to threaten American assets, not just in the U.S. but, of course, also around the world as well. All the Russian leader did say Wolf, that's something like that was not imminent.

And then we heard another thing from Vladimir Putin where he once again prodded Russia's military arsenal and its nuclear arsenal, saying that Russia has a lot more nuclear weapons, as he put it, than the United States and than the Europeans. Of course, he once again said, right now, there's no eminent use of nuclear weapons, and it's something that the Russians obviously don't want to do, but it is something where he is trying to project that military power that the Russians have. Of course, the Russians are very angry by some of the things that President Biden has said while in Normandy, Wolf.

BLITZER: Tense moment, indeed, Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, thank you very much.

Joining us now, the national co-chair of the Biden re-election campaign, Congressman James Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.

How far does President Biden's message on democracy go when Trump is still leading Biden in several of battleground state polls and just raked in a massive fundraising haul off of his felony conviction?

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, thank you very much for having me, Wolf. Look, I think that we are going to have a lot of ebbs and flows throughout this campaign on the way to November 5th. I am not all that concerned about the polling taking place now. I remember the polling over there in Maryland a few weeks ago when the candidate who's down 5 and in 7 and 1 by 13, there's something going on with polling today that I don't think we are taking into account. If you're polling the people with landlines, and there're so many people without landlines, I'm not too sure we can get accurate polling data.

I know this. What I keep hearing about the loss of support among African-Americans by Joe Biden is not what I'm hearing when I go into barbershops and I go into churches, (INAUDIBLE), polls. I don't hear that. So, I'm not too sure what's going on with polling today, but I think that Joe Biden is in a very good place with people -- much better place than people think.

BLITZER: But, Congressman, a new Fox News poll shows President Biden and Trump tied in Virginia, a state that Biden won decisively back in 2020. Biden support among black voters had dropped by 17 percent relative to 2020 and Trump's went up by almost exactly that amount. So, how do you explain that, Congressman?

CLYBURN: I think it's faulty polling. I just don't see anything else. If you're telling me that Joe Biden has lost 17 points from what he got with African-Americans the last time out, I don't see or feel that. And that Trump is going up by 17 points, I don't see that either.

I just believe there's something going on here that we are not going to be able to deal with until this election gets after Labor Day.


BLITZER: But don't you think, Congressman, that President Biden needs to do something more to cement his support with black voters, not just in Virginia, but across the country?

CLYBURN: I think Joe Biden is doing exactly what he needs to do. I don't know how he'll do anything more. Maybe we, his surrogates, are not doing a good enough job out here. But you look at his proposals, you look at what's happening with all the numbers, job creation more than anybody expected for it to be, we look at what he's done with student loan debt, we look at what he's done with legislatively, the success he's had, Joe Biden can't do much more than already is being done. What we've got to do, hopefully, is get people to understand that style should not trump substance. And every time I talk to people, they tell me, well, he doesn't seem to have the energy that I want to see. Well, how about the guy with the energy and with no substance? I'd much rather have substance than style. So, that's what we're dealing with here.

BLITZER: Congressman, on another sensitive issue, the NAACP is now calling for President Biden to immediately stop weapons shipments to Israel over the enormous civilian death toll in Gaza. How much is President Biden jeopardizing the support of key parts of his coalition over his handling of this war?

CLYBURN: Well, I think that all of us in the NAACP, and I hold two life memberships in NAACP, I'll be meeting with my state NAACP tomorrow night, I think that we are concerned about what's going on in Israel.

I won't go as far as to say that the president ought to unilaterally withhold funding, because as I've said to people, we want Israel to be able to defend itself. And if you want them to defend themselves, then you've got to be very, very careful how you cut off aid.

So, I want the experts to do what they know how to do and hopefully get us to where we need to be. So, you cut off the aid, then they defend themselves. Then you say, well, you should not have done it quite that fast, as we've talked about in Afghanistan. So, there's got to be a balance and of all the interests here. And I think most people in the NAACP understand that.

BLITZER: Congressman Jim Clyburn, thanks very much for joining us.

CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.

BLITZER: And just ahead, Donald Trump refuses to back down from his threat to seek revenge against his opponents if he returns to the White House. Former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci will weigh in on that and more right after a quick break.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is mining for campaign gold in California with a fundraiser in Beverly Hills. The former president turned felon on a West Coast swing right now as he tries to capitalize on his criminal conviction. Along the way, he's defending his threat to seek revenge against opponents if voters send them back to the White House. Listen to what Trump told T.V.'s Dr. Phil.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Retribution is going to be through success. We're going to make it very successful. We have to bring the country together.

The word revenge is a very strong word, but maybe we have revenge through success.

Well, revenge does take time, I will say that.


TRUMP: And sometimes revenge can be justified, though I have to be honest, you know, sometimes it can't.


BLITZER: Let's talk about this and more with former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. Anthony, thanks very much for joining us.

I know you've written a new book entitled From Wall Street to the White House and Back, The Scaramucci Guide to Unbreakable Resilience. There you see the cover right there. You heard Trump's grievance politics amid President Biden's defense of democracy on the world stage. What do you make of that split screen?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, you know, the problem, if I could be so candid with you, Wolf, is that the president, President Biden, presents old and President Trump, even though he's a few years younger than him, presents more energetic and young.

And so the campaign, the Biden campaign, has to get their arms around that because the Biden messaging is fantastic. The Biden legislative agenda has work. He's done more for working class people than Donald Trump did 2017 to 2021. But you've got an issue there. And, unfortunately, in our society now, these elections are popularity contests and not hiring decisions. And so they have to come up with a strategy to expand the net of the Biden independents.

And so, you know, listen, Dr Phil is a great guy. I don't know what he charged for that therapy session with Donald Trump, but it was a therapy session and laced underneath all of that double entendre, because Donald Trump will say two things at once and then his adversaries will pick up on one thing and the people that are supporting him will pick up on another. And so he's saying he doesn't want revenge. Revenge is success. And the other side of his mouth, he's letting people know, hey, I can't wait to get this job because I'm going to seek retribution through the justice system.

He's also told friends of mine that have defended him in court. A defense attorney said that he wants to use the FBI as the Gestapo. He probably doesn't know what that means, but he has said that. And so we have to hold them accountable for those things. And if we do all of that, President Biden will win re-election.

BLITZER: It's all very scary, the words that he utters. Trump has a high dollar fundraiser, as you know, in Beverly Hills tonight on the heels of his massive May fundraising haul. [18:20:03]

It seems he's only raking in more and more cash after his felony conviction. Explain that. Why is that?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think some of that is his base responding to his words about the unevenness of the justice system. But I think there's a secondary underlying thing there, and I hate to sound so cynical about it, but those people are doing a Venn diagram analysis of the election, and they're buying a call option on Donald Trump. If he wins, then they're not on his persecution list. Of course, if Joe Biden wins, Joe Biden doesn't have a persecution list and the system stays status quo.

And so this is sort of one of those weird things, this weird calculation, the money being thrown around for those billionaires is not a lot of money for them. It's a lot of money to the average American. But it's sort of a placeholder, if you will, in the event of a Trump victory.

Now, what I would say to those people is be careful because you may get what you ask for. And this is a guy that could destabilize our international alliances. This is a guy that can threaten our democracy. This is a guy that 40 of his closest working associates, including the vice president of the United States, is telling you openly how dangerous he is.

And so it's a real superficial analysis on their part. But, Wolf, honestly, I have been there and I did make that superficial analysis and I made that mistake and there's always, it seems there's always a rotisserie of people that are willing to get on the Trump carousel, which starts out lovey-dovey and ends with betrayal and disassociation.

BLITZER: You know, Anthony, let's quickly talk about TikTok for a moment. After trying to ban or sell the app as president, Trump is now saying he would never do that. Listen and watch this.


TRUMP: We're going to make our country greater than ever before, and I appreciate all your support.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, and you'll never ban TikTok, that's for sure.

TRUMP: I will never ban TikTok.


BLITZER: What do you think is behind this about faces? Is this a ploy to win over younger voters? What do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, it's all of that. But what I don't understand is the free pass he gets, you know, because John Kerry was for the war before he was against it. Hillary Clinton, they called her a flip flopper. Donald Trump was negative on Bitcoin and crypto tweeted about it as president. Now, all of a sudden he's positive about it. Negative on, TikTok, was going to ban it, now he's positive about it. I don't understand how he gets a free pass. And I don't understand how these people don't realize how transactional he is. And at the spur of the moment, if it serves his personal interests, forget about the country, he's got to serve his personal interests, he'll flip on a dime.

And so right now, the president has good political instincts and he sees those two things as raising in money and potentially widening the birth of a younger demographic of voters. But it's completely dishonest and I don't understand why he's not being called out on it the way other classical politicians have been called out on switching their views.

BLITZER: Flip flopping. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we're getting new details just into CNN, about preparations for Donald Trump's sentencing in his hush money case. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're learning new details right now about preparations for Donald Trump's sentencing in his New York hush money case. For more on that, I want to bring in our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, John Miller. John, update our viewers, what are you learning?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, Donald Trump is getting to be prepared for his pre-sentencing report. So, his lawyer has asked to sit in, and that's going to be by the Department of Probation. So, that means, Wolf, he's going to sit down with a New York City probation officer.

Now, because he's Donald Trump, that could be a supervisor on some level, but either way, it's going to be a law enforcement officer who's going to ask him questions with his lawyer there about his family history, his education, his criminal background, his employment history, any substance abuse, medical condition, financial status.

It's interesting because he's not going to be like many of their clients, except for criminal background, where he says, you know, I'm the subject of three other open criminal indictments at this point and awaiting trial, but his financial background, his family background, his employment history, his medical, I mean, substance abuse, he doesn't do drugs and he doesn't drink.

But what they're trying to find out, Wolf, is, does he got enough support in his life, and the answer is clearly yes, to thrive in the community corrections environment meaning not in a prison, not in a jail, will they recommend probation in a pre-sentencing report to the judge?

BLITZER: Very interesting. All right, John Miller, thank you very much. I want to discuss this and more with CNN Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe, he's a former deputy director of the FBI, and Robert Ray, the former Counsel to Donald Trump during his first impeachment.

Andrew, typically a convicted defendant meets with a probation officer on-on-one without an attorney present. Why is Judge Merchan letting Todd Blanche, Trump's attorney, join him in this session?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, that's a great question, Wolf. I would expect that the judge probably thinks that Mr. Blanche's presence will help the meeting take place in a more professional and controlled way.


I think it's unlikely that Blanche will, you know, attempt to prohibit questioning on certain questions may be able to help Trump, assist Trump in his answers to the questions. I think at the end of the day, it's probably a decision that favors and supports a more productive, you know, exchange in one that's less likely to provoke more action and motions and complaints to the court.

BLITZER: Robert, Trump will be treated like any other defendant, we're told. But how do you think he's going to handle it? How would you be advising him going into this pre-sentencing interview if you were his counsel?

ROBERT RAY, FORMER COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP DURING FIRST IMPEACHMENT: I've done many of these, Wolf, and I will say, just as a point of reference within the federal system, if the attorney requests presence during the pre-sentence investigation, it is routinely granted and ordered by the court. In other words, probation doesn't interview the defendant unless the attorney is present.

And although I understand that in the New York state system, that's less common, it is an important point to make, I think, in this respect to answer your question, and that is Todd Blanche will make certain that the probation officer is not allowed to ask and will instruct his client not to answer any questions about the offenses of conviction for fear that anything that Donald Trump might say potentially could jeopardize an appeal.

And that's one of the primary reasons why a lawyer is present during the pre-sentence investigation in a case, in which the defendant has gone to trial as opposed to a guilty plea proceeding.

BLITZER: Andrew, how does this pre-sentencing interview and report inform the judge's ultimate decision on sentencing?

MCCABE: So, Wolf, the judge is obligated to consider mitigating factors and, and everything that could impact the outcome of the sentence. And this case is a perfect example of that. I think in most cases of convictions in New York state, on this offense, do not result in prison terms. That's certainly probably the most likely outcome, especially when a defendant like former President Trump is someone who has no criminal history, no record of conviction, certainly no violence in his past. So, all those things mitigate against serving a harsher or any sort of term of incarceration.

However, here, the president has probably made his own situation worse through his words and his actions by exhibiting really no remorse, by exhibiting outright contempt for the court, for the judge. You know, judges are allowed to take those factors into consideration as well.

So, it's really, you know, a question as to how Judge Merchan is going to look at the overall picture and the pre-sentence report is really the foundation for the picture. That's the report that gives him all of the kind of basics, the biographical data and information about the community support that he's likely to receive.

BLITZER: And contempt for the gag order as well imposed by the judge.

Robert, Trump's team can submit letters of support from his friends, from his family to Judge Merchan with his sentencing submission. What could that look like?

RAY: Typically, in the usual case, although there's nothing usual about this case, you would expect to see letters submitted from those who have close personal relationships with the defendant, often family members, but also business colleagues or people that know the defendant quite well, either in a personal capacity as close personal friends or in their ordinary affairs, meaning their business capacity, any efforts in the community to be of service are particularly meaningful, I think, to a sentencing judge of volunteering your time.

I mean, it's hard to understand in a case like this how helpful that really will be about one of the most, known people in the world who obviously has a public background and factual development of a career in the public eye, not just as president, but even long before that in New York state, that there really is all that much that a judge would learn from any of those who took the time and were asked to write on his behalf.

But I have seen in many cases where, you know, even in situations where the facts are already known to the judge, someone who speaks from the heart about the merits, the personal characteristics of the defendant and the content of that, the defendant's character to be quite meaningful, whether it comes from a family member, a colleague, a friend, a business associate, you know, who knows what else.


And I imagine that Todd Blanche will be looking for those types of speakers who can communicate in writing. I don't think it's helpful to have a whole lot of them, but one, or two, or three, or a handful of meaningful letters. I think it's very helpful or can be very helpful.

BLITZER: All right. Robert Ray Andrew McCabe, to both of you, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, why Hunter Biden's daughter, Naomi, wiped away tears as she left court today after her emotional testimony in her father's federal gun trial.


BLITZER: Hunter Biden's legal team has the weekend to decide if the president's son will take the stand in this federal gun case, this after emotional testimony and intense cross-examination for Naomi Biden, who took the stand today to testify on behalf of her father.


CNN's Paula Reid has our report.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDNET: Today, the government rested in its federal gun case against Hunter Biden, immediately after Hunter's lawyers began their defense, which included emotional testimony from his 30-year-old daughter, Naomi.

When she entered the courtroom with her husband, Peter Neal, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, motioned for him to sit next to her in the front row with approximately a dozen other Biden family members.

Once Naomi was on the stand, Defense Attorney Abbe Lowell asked her about the two times she saw her father in 2018. He seemed like the clearest that I had seen him since my uncle died, and he just seemed really great.

She testified that she had not seen her father for a long time when she and her then-boyfriend, now husband, met him at a coffee shop along with Hunter's sober coach. I told him that I was so proud of him and I was so proud to introduce Peter to him.

She then testified she saw her father again in New York City in October of 2018. During the time, her father owned the gun at the center of this case. She said she met him to give back his car she had borrowed for a move and she testified the car was in good shape and had no evidence of drugs, adding that he seemed hopeful.

But on cross-examination, Naomi and defense attorney seemed caught off guard when prosecutors presented texts between her and her father during that trip when he appeared erratic and went dark for long stretches. One of her texts reading, I don't know what to say. I just miss you so much. I just want to hang out with you. And from him, one saying, I'm sorry I have been so unreachable. It's not fair to you.

Naomi testified that she returned the car on October 19th, and that at that time, she didn't see any drug paraphernalia in it. A few days after that, her aunt, Hallie Biden testified earlier in the trial that she found drug paraphernalia in that same car.

Prosecutors seizing on this and suggesting that the drug residue and drug paraphernalia must have been put in the car after she returned it.

Timeline crucial, as Hunter is accused of lying on federal gun buying forms about his drug use at that time.


BLITZER: CNN's Paula Reid reporting for us. Thank you, Paula, very much.

Coming up, the new revelations about the U.S. Supreme Court justices getting pricey gifts and lucrative deals.



BLITZER: Tonight, we're digging into new financial disclosure forms filed by U.S. Supreme Court justices, and we're finding a treasure trove of information and high priced items from a Bali vacation to Beyonce tickets provided by the superstar herself.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, take us through these disclosures and what they reveal.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some of these gifts or neither illegal nor unethical, but they do reveal privilege and raise more questions about whether more checks and balances are needed for the Supreme Court.


TODD (voice-over): Conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally discloses one of his controversial trips, a 2019 trip to Bali, Indonesia, paid for by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow. That vacation was at the center of controversy surrounding travel by Thomas and his wife, Ginni.

The investigative news outlet "ProPublica" reported last year that Thomas and his wife accepted luxury trips and gifts from Crow for decades, most of which went unreported on Thomas's financial disclosures. Thomas's reporting of that Bali trip was among several new financial disclosures by the justices published today.

Among them, four tickets to a Beyonce concert last year that the pop star gave to liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The gift was not illegal or unethical under the courts rules.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Justices are required to report gifts over a certain amount, about $400. They have to report them and in this case, these tickets its where worth more than about $4,000. So that's why they were reported.

TODD: A Supreme Court spokeswoman referencing an early hit song by Beyonce sent CNN a statement saying, quote, Justice Jackson is crazy in love with Beyonce's music, who isn't?

Jackson also reported that she received artwork valued at more than $12,000 from artists Lonnie Holley and Dr. Kathy Earls Ross (ph). The justices' new disclosures of book deals are also raising some eyebrows. Jackson, a liberal justice who's the first African-American woman on the court, received a payment from a publisher last year for almost $900,000.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch reported book royalty income of $250,000. Fellow conservative Brett Kavanaugh, who is writing a memoir, listed a payment for $340,000.

BISKUPIC: Justices are allowed to have some outside income, but most of their outside income is kept around $30,000, except you do not have to have a limit on book royalties and fees. So these justices who signed these multi-million dollar contracts are not subject to any cap and they can make as much as they can from these book deals.

TODD: But critics say all of this as well as the recent reporting that conservative Justice Samuel Alito and his wife flew flags at their homes that were also flown by January 6, rioters doesn't present the best optics for the court. Alito had previously drawn criticism for going on a luxury fishing trip on the private jet of a conservative hedge fund manager, a trip that was not initially disclosed.

GABE ROTH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FIX THE COURT: There is a crisis of confidence of the Supreme Court. It starts with their jurisprudence, but clearly continues with their ethical issues.


TODD (voice-over): These disclosure reports are the first of their kind to be issued since last fall when the Supreme Court adopted a code of conduct for the first time in its history. That was in response to the travel scandals.

But ethics watchdogs and some Democratic lawmakers are skeptical of that new code because it doesn't contain any enforcement mechanisms -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thank you.

Brian Todd reporting.

Also tonight, veterans of Judge Aileen Cannon's courtroom are raising questions about her ability to oversee Donald Trump's classified documents trial, with many telling CNN she is too isolated, too inexperienced, and too inefficient to handle the case.


CNN's Jessica Schneider has more for us.

What are you learning, Jessica?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, there are many factors contributing to these questions about Judge Cannon's fitness for this particular classified documents case. So, first of all, she's only been on the federal bench for less than

four years. In addition, she's the only judge in that Fort Pierce courthouse. The courthouse itself is on the very edge of the southern district of Florida, which is the judicial district. Plus, you know, she had very minimal trial experience as a lawyer.

So this really all adds up to a judge who is isolated and inexperienced, and as such, moving out of really slow and plodding pace.

And it turns out it's not just in Donald Trumps case, but in an array of cases that have come before her in the past few years gears and to back all that up, our reporters, Hannah Rabinowitz and Tierney Sneed, they talk to ten attorneys who regularly appear before Judge Cannon, and they all did speak anonymously, of course, because lawyers aren't typically able or willing to talk about a sitting federal judge.

And here's how several of them described Judge Cannon. They said she is not efficient, indecisive. She just seems overwhelmed by the process.

And they say that although she is diligent and well prepared, she actually does struggle with document management and we've seen that in Trump's classified documents case, there are several motions. These pretrial disputes that are still lingering that will have to be resolved before any trial date is even put on the calendar. And the isolation of her courthouse, it's 60 miles north of West Palm Beach, the fact that she's the only judge there, it has made it a lot more difficult for her to learn on the job. She has no other judges around to really regularly bounced problems off of.

And our team talked to a senior judge, Paul Huck. He describes Judge Cannon as very smart, very personal, but he did agree that at her post can be very isolating.

And, of course, Judge Cannon has come under extreme criticism for her delayed scheduling of hearings and then most recently this decision that will allow several outside parties to have time at a upcoming argument a little bit later in June about the validity of special counsel Jack Smith's appointment.

You know, the other attorneys that our team has talked to, they note that, you know, Judge Cannon, as we've seen, she's been tough in this case. She slapped back at the special counsel when his team hasn't followed exact procedural rules. One attorney said that's really a trend in all of her cases. She just doesn't like the government to come in and play steamroller.

On the flip side though, some of the attorneys have said she seems to be in their view giving Donald Trump better treatment than they've seen some other criminal defendants get another cases.

So, Wolf, Judge Aileen Cannon really facing a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism as this case moves forward very slowly, and especially as it becomes more apparent that there likely will not be a trial before election day -- Wolf. BLITZER: Jessica Schneider reporting for us -- Jessica, thank you.

Coming up, bombshell testimony from a key witness in the federal bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.

We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, an incriminating new testimony against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in his federal corruption trial.

CNN's Jason Carroll is outside the courthouse in New York City for us. That's where the New Jersey Democrat is on trial.

Jason, give us the details on this new testimony.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the potentially damaging details comes from a man by the name of Jose Uribe. He's already pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges and today when he took the stand, he pointed the finger directly at Senator Menendez.

Just moments after he began his testimony, prosecutor Lara Pomerantz, asked him, have you ever committed federal crimes? Answer. Yes, I have. Does that include bribery of a public official? Yes, I did.

Who was that public official? Senator Robert Menendez. And then he pointed at him, seated right there in the courtroom.

Uribe said that he committed these bribes with the help of other people, namely Nadine Menendez, the senator's wife, who's being tried separately and he talked about a conversation that the two of them had back in March of 2019. She was talking about men always lighting her down and he was talking about how he very much needed a criminal investigation involving insurance fraud involving some of his friends and people who we cared about. He wanted that investigation to go away.

He then told jurors: I agreed with Nadine Menendez and others their people to provide a car for Nadine and order to get the power and influence of Mr. Menendez to help me get a better resolution for what if my associates, who is being charged in a criminal matter.

Now again, Uribe has already pleaded guilty to providing Nadine Menendez with a Mercedes, making payments on that Mercedes.

The defense, Wolf, for its part, has been arguing all along that there was no wrongdoing there were no bribes that in some ways the senator and his wife lived separate lives, and also that any money that Nadine Menendez may have received was a loan.

Now, we're going to be hearing more of this key witness, Jose Uribe, when he continues to take the stand on Monday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So how long do you think, Jason, this trial is going to continue?

CARROLL: Sorry, about that, Wolf. New York busy street bus going by, repeat that.

BLITZER: How long do we expect the trial to continue?


Well, the trial has already been going on for about four weeks and we're expecting this trial to last for several more weeks before it's concluded. So maybe some time by the end of the month or the beginning of the next month when Nadine's trial is also expected to get underway -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll in New York for us, Jason, thank you very much.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.