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Israel Releases Video Of Moment Hostages Rescued; Jury Deliberations Under Way In Hunter Biden Trial; Trump Interviewed By Probation Official Ahead Of Sentencing; Trump Marks Remarks To Hardline Anti-Abortion Group But Doesn't Directly Mention Abortion; Key Witness Testifies He Asked Menendez To Help Investigation Into Associate. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 10, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Our deepest condolences to his friends and family. May his memory be a blessing.

In our sports league, WNBA star Caitlin Clark reacted to her Olympic snub this weekend. USA basketball decided to not invite the rookie to the Olympics this year, but Clark says, hey, no sweat.


CAITLIN CLARK, GUARD, INDIANA FEVER: Honestly, no disappointment. Like I think it just gives you something, something to work for. You know, that's a dream. Hopefully in four years, when four years comes back around, you know, I can be there.


TAPPER: Classy way to respond to disappointment.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Israeli police have just released video of the moment hostages were rescued during a daring and deadly raid inside Gaza. I'll get reaction from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. She's standing by to join us exclusively just minutes from now.

And there's breaking news. The Hunter Biden case is now in the hands of a Delaware jury. The historic trial against the president's son potentially nearing an end as the panel weighs three felony gun charges.

Plus, Donald Trump is taking the first step toward his sentencing on 34 felony convictions. The former president holding a virtual meeting with a probation official this afternoon, and that interview could be a key factor as Judge Juan Merchan decides on potential punishments for Trump.

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 straight to our top story tonight, the daring, bloody Israeli raid inside Gaza, that operation successfully rescuing four hostages, but exacting a heavy toll on Palestinian residents nearby. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, is standing by live. We'll have a lot to discuss.

But, first, let's get all the latest developments from CNN's Paula Hancocks in Tel Aviv.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): New video from the Israeli military shows the rescue of Israeli hostages from central Gaza. It says hundreds of personnel were involved in this rare daytime operation. Three hostages locked in an apartment in one multi story residential building, another held in a flat 650 feet away in a densely populated neighborhood. Models of the buildings were built weeks before to train forces.

This is how Israel's hostage rescue mission looked from the ground, airstrikes, explosions, residents running to find safety that does not exist in Gaza. Hostages were flown by helicopter back to Israel and two emotional reunions with family who had dreamed of this moment for eight months, families who only heard about the mission once their loved ones were safe.

ORIT MEIR, MOTHER OF ALMOG MEIR JAN: I haven't stopped smiling since my Almog was returned to me, but the remaining hostages need a deal to get home safely. There is a deal on the table. We ask the Israeli government to move forward with the deal.

HANCOCKS: The doctor who has treated the hostages since they arrived tells me, despite appearing in good condition, all four are malnourished.

DR. ITAI PESSACH, TREATING RESCUED HOSTAGES: Their muscles are extremely wasted there is damage to some other systems because of that.

HANCOCKS: He says they were moved frequently and beaten by their captors.

PESSACH: It was a harsh, harsh experience with a lot of abuse, almost every day, every hour, both physical, mental and other types. And that is something that is beyond comprehension.

HANCOCKS: Dr. Pessach also treated some of the hostages released in November and says the psychological damage of these four is significantly worse.

PESSACH: All of them had faith. But losing that faith, I think, is where you get to the breaking point. And I'm happy that these guys are here, but there are others losing the faith in us, in humankind.

HANCOCKS: Residents in Nuseirat, Central Gaza, are in a state of shock, struggling to deal with the aftermath of Saturday, which neighboring countries and the E.U.'s top diplomat have called a massacre.

This woman says most of those trapped under the rubble are women and children. Houses are filled with displaced people. Israel committed a massacre.


HANCOCKS (on camera): And the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution vote this Monday on a U. S. proposal for a complete ceasefire in Gaza and the release of all remaining hostages. There were 14 votes in favor, 0 against, and just one abstention from Russia.



BLITZER: Paula Hancocks reporting from Tel Aviv, thank you very much.

When I was in Israel last November, I had a chance to meet with the family of Almog Meir Jan, one of the hostages just released by the IDF. Almog's mother, Orit, told me about the last time she spoke with her son as the Hamas attack was underway.


MEIR: -- woke me up and said to me, Mom, there are rockets all over and shooting. I don't know what happened, what is going on. I'm hiding. I'll call you every half an hour. Mom, I love you.


BLITZER: I'm so happy, of course, that Almog is home now with his loved one. Sadly, Almog's father, Yossi, died just hours before his son's return to Israel. Authorities found Yossi unconscious when they went to notify him of Almog's rescue. He was later declared dead. I want to send my deepest condolences to the Meir family as they grieve Yossi's passing and welcome Almog home.

Joining me now to discuss all of this and more, the new United Nations and to discuss the new United Nations' resolution on a Gaza ceasefire and all the other top stories from the region, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Ambassador, thank you so much for taking a few moments to join us.

As you know, this is the first time the U.N. Security Council has officially endorsed a ceasefire plan. Why now, after eight months of war?

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Look, we have been working on this for eight months. And for eight months, we have pushed for efforts to achieve a ceasefire. This resolution brings us the closest to getting that done than we've ever been. And we thought it was important that the council speak in a unified voice on that, and the vote today showed that

BLITZER: 14 to nothing with one abstention. That would be Russia. President Biden says this ceasefire plan is Israel's but Prime Minister Netanyahu hasn't publicly accepted it, neither has Hamas. President Biden has said it's time for this war to end. What will this resolution, Ambassador, do to get both sides to accept this deal that's currently on the table?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think the resolution is actually the opportunity to pressure Hamas to accept the deal. Israel has accepted the deal. The president has said that. And now all we need is to have Hamas accept this deal, release hostages that they are required to do in phase one, and move forward on an extended ceasefire. This is an important effort that was made with the support of the Qatari government and the Egyptian government working with us on the ground.

BLITZER: As you say, you say the Israeli government has accepted this deal that's currently on the table, but does the Israeli leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu, need to accept it himself? He's avoided that.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, I can't speak for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I can only speak what the president has conveyed, and he has conveyed confidence in the Israeli acceptance of this deal. What we need now is Hamas to accept the deal. They welcomed the resolution immediately after it was passed. They need to take the next step and accept the deal and start to release hostages.

BLITZER: As you know, Ambassador, this weekend's Israeli operation freed four Israeli hostages but came with a steep toll of at least 274 Palestinians killed, that according to Gaza officials. Are you comfortable with that trade off?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, I can't get into the numbers. For me, a single civilian, innocent civilian killed is way too many. But, Wolf, we cannot ignore the fact that Hamas hides behind civilians. They were holding hostages in civilian areas. They are firing at IDF from civilian areas. So, it is Hamas that should be held accountable for any actions that are taken that lead to civilian deaths. They don't care about their Palestinian civilians as long as they continue to use civilians as cover,

BLITZER: But does this level of carnage, Ambassador, risk isolating Israel even more so out there on the world stage? And is the U.S. risking its international credibility by letting Israel operate in Gaza virtually unchecked?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Wolf, our international reputation is very strong. And we have worked very closely with our Israeli allies.


They are not operating unchecked. We're engaging with them on a regular basis. Do we agree a 100 percent? Not always, but we're working very, very closely with them.

Israel has a right to defend itself from a terrorist group whose main purpose in life is to ensure that Israel does not exist and all Jews are killed. So, we have continued to support Israel's right to defend itself against these terrorists.

BLITZER: Ambassador, have there been any conversations inside the Biden administration to try to negotiate what's being described as a unilateral deal with Hamas to free the remaining American hostages who are still being held?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Look, we're trying to get all hostages released, every single one. We care very much about the American hostages who are being held but all hostages should be released. The four hostages released who were actually brought home on Saturday is just one small group. All of them could be brought home if this deal gets accepted by Hamas.

BLITZER: Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thanks so much for joining us.

And just ahead, there's more breaking news we're following, Donald Trump just finishing his meeting with a probation official in New York. What we know about what the former president was likely asked and how his answers will factor into his sentencing next month.

Plus, a live update from Delaware, the jury now deliberating in the federal case against Hunter Biden.

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



BLITZER: We're following more breaking news. Donald Trump has just wrapped up an interview with a New York probation official, a key step just ahead of his July 11th sentencing hearing.

Our Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller is here to break it all down for us. John, what do we know, first of all, about this interview?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, this interview was conducted virtually via a Zoom meeting between the New York City Department of Probation, which is run by a commissioner and has probation investigators. Their job in this meeting, which was attended by Donald Trump on the screen and his lawyer, Todd Blanche, was to gather personal information and background, which is interesting, because there isn't an awful lot that is not known about Donald Trump, his life, and so on. But to gather the kind of background that they could put in their report, the PSR, pre- sentencing report to the judge, so he can consider their findings about whether Donald Trump would be a better candidate to be sentenced to jail or prison, or whether he would be a better candidate for probation given his crime.

So, they go into things like his personal life, his financial background, education, family situation things like that. But it was a relatively short meeting. CNN's Kristen Holmes tells us that this meeting lasted not much longer than half an hour and covered the basic information was uneventful.

BLITZER: Yes, very interesting, only half an hour. Interesting, indeed. John Miller, thank you very much.

I want to get some analysis from our legal experts who are here with me in The Situation Room. Alyse Adamson is with us, former federal prosecutor. Alyse, walk us through what you expect actually happened during this half hour meeting.

ALYSE ADAMSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think it's important to note that this was a PSI that was conducted after a jury verdict. So, when a defendant pleads guilty, I think you can expect these interviews to take longer, because, at that point, most defendants, they've already accepted responsibility. They're going to show some remorse. They're going to explain why their actions are bad.

They're going to use that time as advocacy to tell the judge probation through -- the judge through probation, why they should be giving a more lenient sentence. I think it's not unexpected that today's interview was very short because the former president wants to maintain his Fifth Amendment right. He's going to appeal. He is going to maintain his innocence. So, I think today it was just simple questions. He was not going to go into the conviction. Todd Blanche was there with him. So, he was just going to talk about his education, his characteristics, how long he had lived in the state of New York, probably his residency in Florida and just very basic background, because, really, that's all he could safely share.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Tim, because Todd Blanche, his attorney, was there with him coaching him presumably about this probation interview that was going on. How do you think Trump is handling it? What do you think he's trying to do?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, he's -- obviously, he's not happy about the conviction itself. And so I think that Todd is trying to keep him on task of let's just talk about, you know, the issues here at hand. You know, and as Alyse just said, when I have a case like this, where it is a verdict after a trial, you would tell the probation officer, hey, don't ask him any questions. He's going to invoke this Fifth Amendment right. So, just stick to the history of biographical information.

So, I think that, you know, the idea of. Donald Trump being interviewed by a probation officer about, you know, where did you grow up, tell us, tell us your parents names and things like that, I'm sure that he finds it somewhat direct degrading, but it is the same thing that every criminal defendant in that courthouse goes through.

BLITZER: Yes, that's an important point as well. Judge Grasso, what do you make of the fact that this interview lasted, what, a half an hour?

GEORGE GRASSO, RETIRED ADMINISTRATIVE JUDGE, CRIMINAL MATTERS, QUEENS SUPREME COURT: Well, you know, I agree with what the other panelists said. We wouldn't really have expected Donald Trump to go on at length about a sense of accountability and the things he's learned from this type of a situation. I think it was pretty perfunctory. I mean, if he wanted, he could have tried without admitting anything or accepting liability for the offenses that he's still going to appeal on.


He could have tried to maybe couch it in terms of, well, I don't think I did anything wrong. You know, maybe we could have done things better along the way, you know, some sense of humility or something like that, because the bottom line is this probation officer is going to be making a recommendation to the judge on sentencing. The probation officer could very well recommend jail or prison time in this case.

So, theoretically, a defendant, you know, might try and appear contrite. I doubt that happened here just from what we've seen being in court every day and the general persona of this defendant. So, putting all of that in context, a half hour is not surprising at all.

BLITZER: Yes. Alyse, I don't think today's interview that Trump had with his probation official will impact Judge Merchan's decision on July 11th to announce sentencing?

ADAMSON: Yes. I don't think it'll have that great of an impact. These sentencing recommendations are meant to be persuasive. So, I think Judge Merchan will take it into consideration. But, once again, since this wasn't a very fulsome interview, the defendant wasn't sharing a lot of information that the judge will take into account.

And then I also understand from New York legal expert Tim that the PSRs in New York State are not as robust as they are in the federal system. In the federal system, the probation officer does their own investigation. They color their own understanding of the facts, and they use that as the basis of their recommendation.

It's my understanding that that's not the same here. So, given the relatively short duration of the interview, and the fact that Judge Merchan presided over the entire jury trial in his bid, He's very aware of the facts and the defendant's behavior, I think while it might be helpful, I don't think it's going to impact his ultimate decision-making.

BLITZER: Tim, as you know, Trump's team is scheduled to submit its sentencing recommendations this coming Thursday. What do you think they're going to ask for?

PARLATORE: Oh, they're clearly going to ask for some type of a probation, you know, in this case. And I think that what they would be smart to do is to focus on, you know, not just this case, but the history of what Donald Trump has done in New York City. You know, they should be talking more about, you know, what he did, you know, for Wollman Skating Rink, what he did for, you know, revitalizing the area around Grand Central Terminal, all of the things that he did for the decades before politics.

BLITZER: Some of the positive things. PARLATORE: Exactly, exactly. They should talk about all the positive things that he's done for New York City and say, you know, in light of all these wonderful things that he's literally changed the skyline of the city versus these, you know, false business records, this is not something that even accepting the facts, as the prosecution claims them, is something that he should, you know, get jail for, especially for a class E felony with a cooperating witness who admitted to a class C felony during the trial for somebody who has no criminal history.

So, I think that they have a very good argument, you know, for some type of probation. The difficulty is going to be, of course, the prosecution is going to point out everything that he's done, as far as, you know, violating the gag order, the statements that he made about the judge, you know, just minutes after the verdict, you know, it's a very unique case.

BLITZER: We'll know on July 11th what the judge decides. Everyone, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a live report with Hunter Biden's fate now in the hands of a jury following a dramatic day of closing arguments in the federal trial of the president's son.



BLITZER: Breaking news, jury deliberations in the Hunter Biden trial are now underway. The 12-member panel weighing three felony gun charges against the son of the U.S. president.

Our Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid has the latest from Wilmington, Delaware.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hunter Biden's fate is now in the hands of a jury. After six days of trial, 12 citizens will decide whether the president's son is guilty of three federal gun charges. In a major show of support, Hunter's family members and pastor taking up three rows in court today.

REV. DR. CHRISTOPHER ALAN BULLOCK, BIDEN FAMILY FRIEND AND SPIRITUAL ADVISER: I've known the family for years and you don't abandon your friends and family in tough times.

REID: In closing arguments, prosecutors pointed to the gallery of supporters and said, those people are not evidence and reminded the jury that, quote, no one is above the law. The prosecution directly addressed the most difficult element they have to prove that Hunter Biden knowingly lied on a federal background check form when purchasing the gun at the center of this case.

The defendant knew he used crack and was addicted to crack at the relevant time period, adding that Hunter would have been aware from his time in rehab that he had a problem with drugs. Maybe if he had never gone to rehab, he could argue he didn't know he was an addict.

At the end of his closing, Prosecutor Leah Wise circled back to testimony from Hunter's daughter, Naomi, on Friday when she told the jury that when she returned her father's car to him on October 19, 2018, she did not see any evidence of drugs.

But Wise reminded the jury, Hunter's former girlfriend, Hallie Biden, his brother Beau Biden's widow, had testified that when she found the gun in the same car days later, she found it alongside drug paraphernalia. Defense Attorney Abbe Lowell countered, warning jurors not to convict his client improperly, adding, it's time to end this case.


He compared the trial to a magician's trick, trying to dupe the jury, saying, watch this hand. Pay no attention to the other one. He accused prosecutors of cherry picking evidence to present a more damning timeline of Hunter's drug use, and said his client was not lying when he marked down that he was not an addict on that federal form.

Lowell attacked two of Hunter's former girlfriends, who both served as prosecution witnesses in this case. He noted Zoe Keston took pictures of Hunter with drugs but not in the key month of October 2018. He also reminded the jury that Hallie Biden could not remember specific details about when she found the gun in Hunter's car, and noted Hunter was the one who told Hallie to file a police report for the missing gun after she threw it out.

Hunter did not take the stand to testify in his own defense in this case, a move that would have come with potential rewards and definite risks.


REID (on camera): The jury will return to court here in Wilmington tomorrow morning at 9:00 A.M. to resume their deliberations, but it's notable that prosecutors pointed to the first lady and other supporters who were there for Hunter and reminded the jury that they don't matter. That suggests that perhaps the Justice Department is a little worried about that show of force for Hunter and what it could mean for their case. But I was in court earlier today and watched the jury, they followed by line, by line as the judge went through the instructions that he'll have to follow for this historic decision. Wolf?

BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting for us. Paula, thank you very much.

Let's discuss what's going on with CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero and our Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Carrie, let me start with you. Based on the closing arguments, what do you think are the best, strongest points of each side that they made?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, from the defense perspective, the biggest thing that they have going for them is that the prosecution, if it's going to prove its case, is doing so by inference. In other words, there does not seem to have been at the trial specific evidence of a witness or documents, like a video, for example, an actual physical piece of evidence demonstrating that Hunter Biden was using drugs at the specific time. What there is, is there's sort of tangential evidence, circumstances that would lead the jury to infer that he was using at the time. And so that's really what the defense will point to.

The prosecution on the other side is going to say, well, look at all these different circumstances. Those all add up to a conclusion that he was using and therefore he knowingly falsified the form.

BLITZER: Well, it was interesting, Gloria, in reference to the Biden family, the prosecution said during their closing arguments, they said this, and I'm quoting. People sitting in the gallery are not evidence. You may recognize them from the news, but, respectfully, none of that matters. What do you make of the optics of the first lady, Jill Biden, and other family members showing up almost on a daily basis?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that the prosecution might be a little concerned that the jury would have a lot of sympathy for somebody with that kind of family support. Don't forget, a lot of members of the jury have gone through issues in their own lives with drug abuse. And, you know, you have the first lady flying back from France to come sit at this trial. You have his children, you have his pastor, you have friends, family, they took up three rows, I guess. And, you know, that's something the jury pays attention to.

And so, you know, it helps in the portrait of Hunter Biden as not an evil drug addict. It portrays him as somebody deserving of your sympathy and your empathy, and I think that helps him.

BLITZER: I think you're probably right. Do you think it was the right move for Hunter Biden not to testify? He could have testified if he wanted to. His lawyers presumably said don't do it, but what do you think?

CORDERO: I think that's right. Certainly, any defendant has the right not to testify. And I think in this case, probably it would have opened -- the cross-examination would have opened him up to delving into so many other areas that it potentially would have been counterproductive. So, I think most defendants don't testify on their own behalf, and I think in this case, it probably makes sense that he followed the advice of his defense counsel not to.

BORGER: You know, in an odd way, though, you did hear from Hunter Biden because you heard from his book, in which he --

BLITZER: Audio book.

BORGER: His audio book, he wrote about this. He wrote about his drug addiction, and that was used during the trial against him, but it was used. And so you did --

BLITZER: Yes, his own voice. BORGER: You did hear it, right. And you did hear his voice. So, he didn't testify. But you did hear him talk about his addiction.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting that the president has vowed to accept the verdict and has ruled out a pardon for his son.

BORGER: Very definitively.

BLITZER: If he's convicted, though, how is this going to play out politically?


BORGER: You know, it's really hard to say. I'm not sure that it plays out that much at all. What Congress is worried about is financial impropriety that may have been committed between Joe Biden and his son, and they've presented no evidence for that. If you notice, they've been a little quiet during this trial. And if Hunter Biden is convicted, I think that there will be some sympathy for Joe Biden and for the family in all of this, but I'm not sure that it plays out in a large, political way, other than the fact that it will affect Joe Biden himself, I think.

BLITZER: I'm Sure it will. Gloria Borger, thank you. Carrie Cordero, thanks to you as well.

Coming up, attorneys preparing sentencing recommendations for Donald Trump after his meeting with a probation official earlier today. We're taking a closer look at the options the former president is now facing.


BLITZER: All right. This just in to CNN, look at this, officials in Arizona have just released Rudy Giuliani's mugshot. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election in that state. Prosecutors accused Giuliani and other Trump allies of scheming to use fake electors to subvert the election. There you see the mugshot.


There's more breaking news. With Donald Trump taking a key step towards his July 11th sentencing today, Judge Juan Merchan now has just over a month to determine how he'll punish the former president for his 34 felony convictions.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at all of this for us. Brian, what factors is Judge Merchan weighing as he decides sentencing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's weighing several factors, Wolf, including what Trump might have just said at that pre sentencing interview. Tonight, we have new information on the many possible forms of punishment that Judge Merchan could impose on Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just went through a rigged trial in New York.

TODD (voice over): Now that Donald Trump has completed his pre sentencing interview with a probation official, a report on the interview will be sent directly to Judge Juan Merchan, who has a few options for sentencing Trump. The most serious one, prison time. The crimes for which Trump's been convicted, falsifying business records, could carry sentences of up to four years each, according with a maximum of 20 years. But, realistically --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's unlikely that someone convicted of this type of felony in New York with no prior criminal history would see much, if any prison time.

TODD: Trump's advanced age, experts say, would also be a factor in not sending him to prison. He turned 78 this week.

Another sentencing option, probation. Analysts say while that might be a more realistic choice, it would come with a host of inconveniences and indignities for the former president.

WILLIAMS: Having to be drug tested, having to check in with a probation officer.

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER MANHATTAN PROSECUTOR: There could be random visits by probation officers to your home, not with a search warrant, but they can come knock on the door and you need to let them in.

TODD: Home confinement also might be part of a probation sentence for Trump, or maybe a restriction on out of state travel.

MARTIN HORN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY CORRECTIONS AND PROBATION COMMISSIONER: If he were going to fly off to another state, Wisconsin, Arizona, he would have to get explicit permission from the probation agency.

TODD: Trump could simply be fined for his convictions, or --

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: He could do community service where he has to pick up trash on the subways.

TODD: Experts say a conditional discharge could be a sentencing option.

SALAND: There's a condition of your discharge or your release, and you have to abide by those conditions. The court will say, don't get arrested, don't get in trouble for the next year, or during the pendency of your sentence, or for a stated period of time. And that's it. You're not checking in, no one's following up with you, there's no probation, there's no oversight.

TODD: All options, experts say, reflective of the striking uniqueness of this situation.

BERNARDA VILLALONA, FORMER ASSISTANT D.A. KINGS COUNTY, NEW YORK: For the probation department, this is uncharted waters. They have never interviewed someone of this stature before. They know that their word, their recommendation is going to weigh heavily into judgment and decision by Judge Merchan.


TODD (on camera): Legal analysts say acceptance of responsibility is often a key factor when a judge considers a sentence. And the fact that Donald Trump has shown no remorse for the actions he's been convicted of and has repeatedly publicly attacked the judge and witness in this trial could bring him a stiffer sentence. Wolf, July 11th is a big day.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that day, Brian. Thank you very much.

Coming up, active back to politics with Donald Trump out there on the virtual campaign trail today, speaking today to an anti-abortion group. But it's what he didn't say that is making some news.



BLITZER: Donald Trump is trying to rile up his conservative base with inflammatory rhetoric about Democrats and religion.

Listen to the former president addressed a group of Christian political activists today.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've done things that nobody thought were possible to have gotten done. You just can't vote Democrat. They're against religion. They're against your religion in particular. You cannot vote for Democrats.


BLITZER: All right. Let's get some more analysis now from Republican strategist, Shermichael Singleton, and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona. She's a CNN political commentator.

What do you think, Shermichael, he was speaking to a group that calls for abortion in their words to be eradicated entirely, direct quote, eradicated entirely, without ever saying word abortion.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I'm familiar with the group. I understand why the former president spoke before the group. This is obviously a very dicey and touchy topic for Republicans and I'm sure Maria will talk about, we have two years worth of electoral data that showcases that we just don't do well on the issue of reproductive rights.

With that said, in that clip you showed, a lot of evangelicals, Wolf, do believe the cultural behavior and customs of behavior in the country are changing, particularly as it pertains to their religiosity and the religious views. And they sort of do want someone to be a protector or defender of those views, even if that person is the imperfect individual to do so.

BLITZER: How do you think this is going to play with moderate voters out there? Certainly that's a group that Trump is trying to win over moderate voters, suburban women, for example. How's it going to play?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Not well at all, Wolf, and this is where I think Trump is trying to have it both ways. And while it's no question that Christian groups, Christian conservative groups, who are completely against abortion are going to support him because he is responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade and he brags about it every chance he gets, especially in front of these conservative groups, but then suburban women, moderate voters, and frankly the vast majority of Americans who believed that women should have the right to do what they feel what is best for their own bodies and their families, they don't support this.

They think that Roe v. Wade should not have been overturned. They believe that women should have this right, and they are going to continue to punish Republicans and Donald Trump at the ballot box if they continue to push this massive goal of taking away women's rights and freedoms.


And that's how the Biden campaign smartly is messaging this whole issue.

BLITZER: I'm anxious to get your thoughts, Shermichael, while I have you. Vice President Harris called out Congress -- Republican Congressman Byron Donalds for his controversial comments on Jim Crow during an interview with "Politico". Let's first watch what he said. Listen to this.


REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): During Jim Crow, the Black family was together. During Jim Crow, more Black people were not just conservative, but always a bit conservative, mind you, but more Black people voted conservatively.


BLITZER: Vice President Harris responded to that by saying this and I'm quoting her now, it's sadly at another example of somebody out of Florida trying to erase or rewrite our true history. I went to Florida last July to call out what they were trying to do to replace our history with lies.

And apparently, there's a never-ending flow of that coming out of that state.

What are your thoughts and what he would this Congress when were saying -- SINGLETON: Yeah, Congressman Donalds.

BLITZER: -- Jim Crow -- the Jim Crow era.

SINGLETON: Yeah, I've watched several interviews, Wolf, with the congressman, and I'm going to take him out his word that his intent was not to romanticize the Jim Crow era. This is a Black man.

I'm really going to presume that he's very aware of our history and this country. I hope that is a mistake.

BLITZER: I assume he knew.

SINGLETON: But I do think the point that there are some areas within our community that we as a collective group have to focus more on. I wouldn't disagree with that. Should we do some things to strengthen the family? Absolutely. Can you do that through the policy realm? I think so.

But I do think as you talk about the past, you do have to be careful not to have the appearance that you're romanticizing something that was very horrible for the Black community. I mean, I have grandparents that are still alive who went through segregation. My grandmother was the first to enter into her high school in New Orleans and first-time desegregating the school.

And so, I think there are people that are still among us who have those very real and raw experiences. And I would hope that Republicans, whether they're Black, White, or anyone else for that matter, would be sensitive to the experience of those individuals who are still among us.

BLITZER: That's interesting.

On another subject, Trump is launching what he's calling a Latino Americans for Trump campaign to reach out to Hispanic voters. What do you think?


The whole issue of wanting to launch a program called Latino Americans for Trump a couple of days after he brings onstage in Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is the most racist, the most xenophobic, the most anti-immigrant sheriff, I think ever at least in modern history. And for Donald Trump to bring him on stage and hug him, and kiss him as he hiring him to be the head of Latino Americans for Trump? Because that's what it looks like.

And it is just indicative of how empty and how wrong-headed and misguided Donald Trump's focus is when he talks about Latinos in this country and that I think just gives the Biden campaign more ammunition to make the contrast between a 34 times convicted felon who is the most racist and the most xenophobic president we've had ever versus President Biden, who has had record job creation in the Latino community record business growth in the Latino community, and they have a record with which they can make that contrast, and that at the end of the day is going to win Joe Biden, the Latino vote.

BLITZER: All right. Maria, Shermichael, to both of you. We're out of time. Thank you very much.

Coming up, details on why a meeting at an Italian restaurant in New Jersey is taking center stage today in the federal bribery case against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez.



BLITZER: We're following the federal bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez on the stand today. A key witness for the prosecution, detailing the alleged scheme to trade favors for influence.

CNN's Jason Carroll is joining us from outside the courthouse right now.

Jason, update our viewers on another dramatic day of testimony.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. More testimony coming from Jose Uribe. This is the man who's already pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is now cooperating with the prosecution.

And today, Wolf, he gave more details about specific conversations he has -- he says he had with Senator Menendez, directly related to bribery all right.

He spoke about one in particular, a dinner in 2019 at Il Bellagio restaurant in New Jersey. He says, I get to ask him for the first time and explain what is worrying me so much. I asked him if anything in his power to stop an investigation. Ill explain about that in a moment.

Menendez's answer, he would look into it.

Of course, Uribe was worried about these criminal investigations going on in New Jersey, Wolf, that could have implicated people that he was close to. So he told jurors what he did was he paid Nadine Menendez $15,000 so she could buy your brand new Mercedes in exchange for the senator's influence. He then talked about another meeting at Nadine Menendez's home where he says he wrote down the names of people who were possibly implicated in this investigation, put it on a piece of paper.

He said Senator Menendez folded up the piece of paper, put it in his pocket, then in October of 2019, he says he got a call from Senator Menendez. He told jurors that he felt as though the situation had been resolved and he choked up, he choked up, Wolf, as he was speaking about what had happened, saying that the situation had been over, and he felt he was at peace.

Then there was this dinner in 2020 where he says Menendez told him, I saved your twice, not once, but twice. Again, were going to be hearing more from Jose Uribe when he's cross-examined tomorrow -- Wolf.

Jason Carroll on the scene for us, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'll see you tomorrow morning 11:00 a.m. Eastern for "CNN NEWSROOM", back 6:00 p.m. Eastern for THE SITUATION ROOM.

Until then, once again, thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.