Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

New Details On Biden And Trump Preparations For CNN Debate; Supreme Court Lifts Trump-Era Ban On Gun Bump Stocks; Pope Francis Makes Historic Visit To G7 Summit; Trump Ridicules Special Counsel's Gag Order Request In New Court Filing In Classified Documents Case; Princess Catherine: Making "Good Progress" In Cancer Recovery; Families Of Dual U.S.-Israeli Hostages Hopeful For Their Return. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 14, 2024 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, new details just coming in on how President Biden and former President Trump are gearing up for their CNN debate now less than two weeks away, what our sources inside both campaigns are telling us about their preparations.

And we're tracking the fallout from a major U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a ban on bump stocks, a controversial gun accessory, the justices still preparing to hand down opinions on other major issues, including Donald Trump's immunity claims.

Also tonight, Pope Francis makes a historic visit to the G7 summit in Italy, meeting with President Biden and other world leaders about concerns over artificial intelligence.

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

First up tonight, an inside look at the debate preparations taking place inside the Biden and Trump campaigns. CNN's Kristen Holmes is working her sources for us. She's over at a Trump event in Florida. And CNN's Arlette Saenz has details on President Biden's plan to take on his predecessor once again.

First to you, Kristen. Trump is expected, I take it, to speak at any moment now. Give us the latest.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Well, this is actually his 78th birthday celebration with some of his biggest supporters called Club 47. It is a group committed to getting Donald Trump re-elected. And while you are likely to not hear Donald Trump take any jabs at Biden's age, he will probably make some self- deprecating jokes. He is turning 78, meaning that if he does win in November, he would be the oldest person in to become president of the United States, something that the former president is very aware of. That is why when you hear him attacking Joe Biden, he often talks about his mental fitness but avoids the actual comments about Biden's age, knowing that he is just a few years younger. Now, you mentioned that debate prep, that's part of how he spent the day before his birthday when he was in Washington, D.C. What we saw publicly was those meetings with House and Senate Republicans, but according to sources, afterwards, he had a, quote/unquote, policy session at the Republican National Committee building. Present were some of his closest aides, as well as Senators Eric Schmidt of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida, someone who we know is on the short list to be vice president.

Now, according to these sources, they want to be very clear that this wasn't debate prep in the traditional sense, that they were just talking policy, but one of the things that came up in those topics was January 6th, how to answer questions about what happened on January 6th, about how to answer questions on democracy and how to answer questions on what Donald Trump has talked about post-January 6th, including pardoning some of the people who were involved in January 6th, clearly preparing in some way, or at least in his way, for those debates.

Now, again, his team has said over and over again, he is not going to have any kind of traditional debate. There's not going to be someone coming filling in for President Joe Biden filling in for Jake or Dana. It is instead going to be these series of policy sessions as well as taking questions like we saw last week when he was in Arizona from voters in the crowd or meeting with various groups of people or sitting down for contentious interviews. We will obviously see how this plays out when he takes the stage in just two weeks, Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Kristen, stand by. I want to go to CNN's Arlette Saenz right now. She's in Los Angeles where President Biden is heading for a series of campaign events. Arlette, what are we learning, first of all, about how the president is actually preparing for this upcoming CNN debate?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden has spent much of the past two weeks abroad in France and Italy, but back at home, his debate prep sessions have started. His former chief of staff, Ron Klain, is leading many of these preparations. Klain, of course, led those debate preps for Biden back in 2020, but also for Hillary Clinton back in 2016, when she faced off against Donald Trump.

Now, a campaign official acknowledges that President Biden won't have as much time to prepare for this debate compared to 2020, as he's juggling his duties as commander-in-chief. Most of the intense sessions are expected to take place in the days leading up to the June 27th debate.


The president is expected to spend some time at Camp David preparing.

But in the sessions that have taken place so far, President Biden has really been focused on trying to find ways to hold Trump accountable on the debate stage. Some of the areas where he really plans to criticize and try to draw a contrast with Trump on are on the issues of reproductive rights, also calling out Trump for efforts of stoking political violence or trying to undermine democratic institutions.

The ultimate goal, a campaign official said, is to paint Trump as chaotic and divisive and present Biden as a steadier and wiser alternative. This official said that Biden increasingly has become punchier in his speeches attacking Trump, and that is the theme that will continue into the debate.

But the immediate focus for Biden will be here in Los Angeles, where tomorrow, he is set to attend a high dollar fundraiser with some real star power behind it. He will be on stage with former President Barack Obama, but also A-list celebrities like George Clooney and Julia Roberts. They will be participating in a discussion with Jimmy Kimmel. It really represents another moment for the Biden campaign to try to tap into some of those celebrity endorsements that they have leading into this November election.

Of course, they are trying to build up an even bigger campaign war chest at a time when Trump has actually increased his own fundraising, really potentially narrowing the gap in that money race. So far, campaign officials have yet to detail exactly how much Biden will raise in this fundraiser. But just a reminder, back in March, when he had that fundraiser with President Obama and Bill Clinton, they raised about $26 million dollars. The campaign is hoping to have a big haul in this fundraiser as they're preparing for that November campaign against Trump, and not just the November election, but also this first debate coming up in just a few weeks.

BLITZER: Arlette Saenz and Kristen Holmes, to both of you, thank you very much.

Joining us now, CNN Political Commentator Ashley Allison and CNN Senior Political Commentator Scott Jennings. Scott, Trump, as you know, is huddling with his advisers on how he will respond to various questions, including about the deadly January 6th riot. How do you think he should answer that?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he needs to constantly steer this debate toward the topics that are causing him to be leading in the polls right now. I mean, in any debate situation, you want to try to get these things back to your ground. What would that be? Inflation, immigration, crime, strength versus weakness. So, the best move here is to try to Move these things as much as possible back towards the firmest ground you can, and that's where he's beating Biden are on those three topics.

BLITZER: Ashley, we're told the Biden campaign wants to draw a contrast with Trump on various issues, such as reproductive rights, political violence and democracy, for example. Is this the right focus as opposed to, let's say, the economy and other so called kitchen table issues?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it's important that they do draw that contrast between Donald Trump and President Biden, particularly on reproductive rights and democracy. But I also think the Biden campaign and President Biden is going to have to speak to the kitchen table issues that Americans are feeling. And I think and I believe that the Biden campaign has a story to tell. But what it should steer away from is a laundry list of accomplishments that can become numbing and voters aren't directly feeling it and rather do the storytelling of what it means when the Biden administration puts out a policy around gun violence reform is able to pass historic legislation and how that saves people's lives or puts out a policy about a care agenda and how we have a growing community of people who need care whether that's child care or whether that's caring for our elder parents and talk about how that's what they stand for.

Those are the issues that Americans care about. And so it's drawing the contrast, but also connecting the dots on the real life issues and the personal effect that the Biden campaign has had and can continue to have for four more years.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Scott, Trump and his surrogates have repeatedly said how poorly they expect Biden will perform in this upcoming CNN debate. Are they making a mistake in setting expectations too low?

JENNINGS: Well, there you always play this game before these debates I mean truthfully when you look at the polling and you look at just how little confidence people have in Biden already and how little confidence they have in his ability to do the job now and for four more years, expectations are already low. So it's, in my opinion, hard to make them any lower.

I think a strategy for Trump here would be to try to keep it cool. You don't have to do all the talking in this debate. And when Joe Biden does most of the talking, sometimes things get off the rails. Part of the strategy for Trump here could be, you know, coming out of this debate. If Biden doesn't change the trajectory of the campaign, it's going to be hard for him to get out of this quicksand. The way to possibly help that happen is to let Biden talk as much as he wants, because that's been happening for the last couple of years, and, obviously, he's stuck at a approval rating below 40 percent.


BLITZER: You know, Ashley, presidents we checked have often done poorly in the first debate and Biden will have less prep time than he had four years ago. What does a successful debate look like for him?

ALLISON: I think he needs to continue to draw the contrast. I mean, I would poke the bear, and Donald Trump is the bear, and let people see and be reminded of what those four years under Donald Trump were, chaos, hate, anger, nonsense. spewing from Donald Trump's mouth, telling us to inject bleach during COVID. I would tell the story of how Donald Trump failed leading our country under COVID and how Joe Biden was the one who opened our economy up and got vaccines in people's arms.

So, I think that, you know, he has been doing the job. He knows these issues and I would lean into the humanity, the empathy that Joe Biden is known for, and reintroduce and continue to reintroduce himself as a caring, compassionate leader who understands personally, because he's experienced it in his life, what Americans are facing, unlike Donald Trump. There're so many ways to draw comparisons against between the two of them and I would hope that President Biden leads into that.

BLITZER: Scott, we now know that Trump is set to campaign in Detroit this weekend in an effort to court black voters. That comes amid a new interview that he gave to Semafor in which Trump responds to accusations of racism, saying this, and I'm quoting him now, I have so many black friends, that if I were a racist, they wouldn't be friends. They would know better than anybody and fast, end quote. What's your reaction to that?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, Donald Trump does have a lot of African- American supporters. There's a lot of Republican leaders who are African-Americans that strongly support Donald Trump. And this is a key voting bloc in the election. Obviously, they are not happy with Joe Biden, the Biden campaign strategy with black voters, and specifically black men is shut up and show up. That's it.

And Donald Trump is trying to have a conversation with him and say, you're not happy with what you got. I want to talk to you and bring you into this campaign. They're reaching out to African-American influencers, sports figures and different people who can help carry that message. He doesn't have to win black voters or black men. He just needs to carve out a few percent. And it strikes me that they're on track to do that right now, if you look at the polling.

So, it's very alarming for the Biden campaign. I think to see Trump going right at the heart of what has been a core Democratic constituency.

BLITZER: Yes, and Michigan obviously being a key battleground state right now. Ashley, what's your response.

ALLISON: Well, I wonder the last time Trump was actually in Detroit. You know, oftentimes Republicans say that Democrats just show up in communities to get votes. It seems like Donald Trump is doing that. I don't remember the last time he had been to the Bronx, but, coincidentally, he has a campaign rally in it this cycle. So, I think what Donald Trump is doing right now is trying to show up in the late stages of his campaign to begin to court black voters.

But what I do think Democrats need to do, they do need to show up and have that conversation and understand where voters are. We often say meet the person, meet the voter, where they are. If you are not happy with Joe Biden, acknowledge that. Have a conversation. Talk about what you're unhappy about. And the Biden campaign then needs to make the case about why black voters should stick with President Biden.

I will just say Joe Biden is not going to win black voters but he does need to ensure and run a successful campaign to make sure black voter -- excuse me, Donald Trump is not going to win black voters, but Joe Biden does need to run a successful campaign to make sure that black voters show up and don't stay home this cycle.

BLITZER: Ashley Allison and Scott Jennings, to both of you, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, be sure to join CNN for our debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. That's on Thursday, June 27th, 9:00 P.M. Eastern, right here on CNN.

And just ahead, we're breaking down the major U.S. Supreme Court decision on gun rights, why the conservative justices are reversing a policy put in place by former President Trump.

Plus, we'll have a live report from London, Britain's Princess Catherine sharing new details on her cancer battle and announcing your first public appearance in months.



BLITZER: The U.S. Supreme Court issued another major decision today, striking down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the gun accessory used in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

CNN's Paula Reid is on the story for us. Paula, take us through this important ruling.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is one of the big gun rights related cases before the high court this term, and here they struck down a ban on bump stocks, which enables semiautomatic weapons to fire at speeds comparable to machine guns. And this was a rare regulation to result from a mass shooting, specifically the Las Vegas mass shooting, which left dozens of people dead and hundreds of people injured.

Now today's opinion fell along ideological lines. Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the majority, quote, we hold that a semi automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a machine gun because it cannot fire more than one shot by a single function of the trigger. And even if it could, it would not do so automatically.

Now, the three liberal justices joined in a fiery dissent written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote, quote, when I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. A bump stock equipped semiautomatic rifle fires automatically more than one shot without manual reloading by a single function of the trigger. Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun, I respectfully dissent.

Now, the ATF, which put forth this regulation, released a statement today calling on Congress to take legislative action to restrict bump stocks. But, of course, Wolf, that is something that is highly unlikely to happen in an election year.


BLITZER: Paula, with just what, a few days to go before the end of this Supreme Court term, what other cases are we still waiting for the justices to decide? REID: Well, we still are waiting for about 20 to come over the next couple of weeks. And some of the big ones that folks are watching for, first and foremost, a lot of folks looking at the case related to former President Trump and whether he has immunity to shield him from the federal election subversion case, also questions about other people who have been charged with obstruction related to January 6th.

Yesterday, we got an answer on one of the big abortion cases, Mifepristone. The justices unanimously swerved around that question. But there's still an outstanding question out of Idaho about what do you do when you have a state with restrictive abortion laws that come up against more permissive federal abortion laws.

There was also another big gun rights case, and that question is whether folks who have a restraining order related to domestic violence can own a firearm. Also, a big, really, potentially just an earthquake in terms of the federal government case related to the power of federal agencies. And then there are a few outstanding questions about the ability to censor or try to censor social media companies. So, there are a lot of outstanding questions and we expect to get them over the next few weeks.

BLITZER: Yes, we're all going to be busy looking at the Supreme Court decisions. Paula Reid, thank you very, very much.

Joining us now, CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen and our Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig.

Elie, let me start with you. What are the stakes in the Trump immunity case that we're still waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court on? And why do you think the court has yet to release its ruling?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, this is the big one. This is, I think, the most important case on the Supreme Court's calendar. The stakes are absolutely enormous, and here's why. If you think about the possible scenarios that could result from this, I don't think it's at all likely that the Supreme Court wholeheartedly accepts Donald Trump's immunity argument and just dismisses the case.

I think we're looking at two realistic scenarios that are so different from a legal and political perspective. One outcome is the Supreme Court could reject Donald Trump's immunity argument, in which case, the case goes back to the tribal court and we very likely could have a trial on Jack Smith's January 6th case happening in August, September, October of this election year.

The other scenario is the Supreme Court could say, yes, there is such thing as presidential immunity, but it has to go back to the trial court to do further fact finding. If that happens, that will probably take too long and this trial probably will not happen before the election. So, you can see the enormity of the consequences if we just play out those scenarios.

BLITZER: Norm, it's interesting that the court isn't scheduled to issue more decisions until Thursday, further delaying any resolution to Trump's immunity claim. At what point does holding that trial before the election become totally unrealistic?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, we're on the brink of that. This question of whether the immunity that Donald Trump asserts, even to send SEAL Team 6 to assassinate his political rivals, was first placed before the Supreme Court on December 11th, 2023. There's no call to take six months to decide the absurdity of that question. And with every passing day, they're more responsible for the problem you identify of getting this trial on the books.

We'll see, at least right about the two forks in the road, we'll see which one they take. You could still jam a trial in, or if they announce a test with fact finding, the district court has time to do a mini trial, ascertain the facts and determine whether immunity applies or not. It doesn't on these allegations.

BLITZER: Elie, the Supreme Court is also dealing with the fallout, as you know, from the revelation that justice Thomas took more trips with a GOP mega donor that he reported just last week. Can anything be done to require more transparency from these justices?

HONIG: Well, Wolf, it's really difficult to force the Supreme Court to do anything. They, by and large, make their own rules. But I also don't want to say nothing can be done because there are steps that can be taken. First of all, if we look to Congress, they can try to pass laws, there have been efforts to pass laws, you would need bipartisan support that does not appear to exist. But there's also a really important oversight function that Congress serves. And the newest revelations actually came out through the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, there's an important fact finding oversight function that Congress plays.

BLITZER: And then if we want real meaningful reform, it's got to come from the Supreme Court itself. It's got to come from the chief justice. They have to show a real interest in leadership and transparency that they've not shown just yet.

BLITZER: Norm, polls show public trust in the court has fallen amid a series of these ethical scandals. What kind of impact does that have as the court is set to release these key decisions in several very high profile cases in the coming couple of weeks?

EISEN: Well, Wolf, it's devastating.


It's the worst ethics crisis we've seen at the United States Supreme Court in the history of our nation. You have two justices, Justice Thomas, whose wife was a witness involved in the January 6th event, Justice Alito, who we now know flew flags, his home featured flags, the home where he lived of insurrectionist symbolism. And then you combine that with these substantial financial disclosures that have come out. It's a crisis.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Norm Eisen and Elie Honig, to both of you, thank you very much. Coming up, the surprise push being made by Pope Francis today during his meeting with world leaders, including President Biden. We're live at the G7 summit as Vladimir Putin today invokes a nuclear threat in a warning to the west,



BLITZER: Tonight, President Biden is wrapping up a very busy week over at the G7 summit in Italy, world leaders touting new support for Ukraine, provoking angry backlash from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Listen to this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: We have come unacceptably close to the point of no return. Calls to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia, which has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, can result in tragedy.


BLITZER: Our Senior White House correspondent M.J. Lee is traveling with President Biden. She has the latest from the G7.


M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): U.S. President Joe Biden and his fellow world leaders showing a united front of support for Ukraine this week at the 50th G7 summit and sending a collective message to Vladimir Putin.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: You cannot wait us out. You cannot divide us. And we'll be with Ukraine until they prevail in this war.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thanks to every American heart that does not betray freedom and support.

LEE: In their final day of working meetings on Friday, the group focused on ways of kneecapping China's economic dominance, as well as Beijing's support for Russia's defense industrial base.

JOE BIDEN: We discussed our shared concern about countries like China resupplying Russia with materials they need for their war machine.

LEE: Other top items on their agenda, the situation in the Middle East and climate change.

The leaders of the world's richest seven nations also graced by a historic visit from Pope Francis, the pontiff, attending the G7 Summit for a session focused on artificial intelligence.

POPE FRANCIS: It's up to each to make good use of it, and it's up to politics to create the conditions whereby this good use is possible and fruitful. LEE: The pope himself has been the subject of so-called deep fakes, like these viral images from last year featuring him in a white puffer jacket. The world leaders hoping to make headway on ways of regulating the proliferation of A.I. technology in responsible and ethical ways, Biden meeting with the pope separately on the sidelines of the summit, the private audience marking at least the fifth time the two men have met. Their last sit-down in 2021 at the Vatican around that year's G20 gathering.

JOE BIDEN: The most significant warrior for peace I've ever met.

LEE: A devout Catholic, Biden has credited the pope for bringing him comfort and solace after one of the toughest moments of his life, the death of his son, Beau. The president, reflecting years later on his family's private visit with Pope Francis in 2015, just months after Beau's passing.

JOE BIDEN: He knew what a man he was and it had such a cathartic impact on his children and my wife and our family that it meant a great deal. He is everything I learned about Catholicism from the time I was a kid going from grade school through high school.


LEE (on camera): And, Wolf, one dynamic that made this year's G7 quite unique is that if you look at the roster of the G7 leaders, President Biden included, a number of them are facing elections back home, and almost all of them are facing serious political challenges back home as well. One senior official told me today that the U.S. presidential election didn't come up, at least in the working sessions that they were a part of, and another official had said, Donald Trump and the possibility of a second Trump term didn't come up either. But I think there was recognition among the leaders in Southern Italy here this week that the makeup of the G7 could look very different next year, and that, of course, could have real ramifications for all of the work that they did this week. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, I think you're right. M.J. Lee reporting for us, M.J., thank you.

Meanwhile, former President Trump's age is looming over him today as he turns 78 years old. His 81-year-old opponent, President Biden, also no stranger to questions about the subject. Our Brian Todd has a closer look at the politics of age.

Brian, some voters are clearly concerned both of these candidates are too old for office.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are, Wolf, and the polls repeatedly show that. Tonight, those concerns over the ages of Joe Biden and Donald Trump are reaching a crescendo, and their campaigns are struggling over how to deal with those concerns.


TODD (voice over): With a spontaneous song from supporters recently, the former president was taken aback.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a certain point at which you don't want to hear happy birthday. You just want to pretend the day doesn't exist.

TODD: That day is today. Donald Trump has turned 78 years old. And, once again, age is a front and center issue in this campaign.

RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: I think a lot of Americans wish that these candidates were not as old as they are.

TODD: At 81, Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history. If Trump wins, he'll be the oldest president ever at a swearing in. The median age for all U.S. presidents at their first inauguration, 55 years old. Just yesterday, First Lady Jill Biden said this election is not about age.

JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age. Let's not be fooled. Joe isn't one of the most effective presidents of our lives in spite of his age but because of it.

TODD: Trump has sometimes gone after Biden's competence rather than his age.

TRUMP: He is incompetent, ladies and gentlemen. He is grossly incompetent.

TODD: A new Biden video on X attacking Trump says age is just a number. But recent polls show some Americans think age is more than a number, making it one of their top concerns, particularly when it comes to President Biden. Moments like one earlier this year raised questions, when the president confused the Egyptian and Mexican presidents when talking about Gaza.

JOE BIDEN: The president of Mexico, Sisi, did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in.

TODD: A recent CBS poll shows 65 percent of Americans do not believe Joe Biden has the mental and cognitive health to serve as president, but Trump has had questionable moments of his own. Earlier this year, he confused former Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley with former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in talking about the January 6th attack on the Capitol.

TRUMP: Nikki Haley is in charge of security. We offered her 10,000 people, soldiers, National Guard, whatever they want, they turned it down.

TODD: Trump and Biden might look to Ronald Reagan as a template for how to handle concerns over age. 1984, the 40th president, then 73 years old, used humor to deftly deflect those concerns in a debate with Walter Mondale.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.

TODD: One conservative analyst gives the perception edge ever so slightly to Trump, for now.

PONNURU: It's how they wear their age, and Biden wears his age worse than Trump. They're both prone to bouts of gibberish, it's clear, but Biden has more of the posture and the gait of an old man.


TODD (on camera): Some of Trump's allies see his age as a factor that could potentially help him in at least one area. They see it could keep him out of jail following his felony conviction. As one attorney who's friendly to the former president said, it would be absurd to put Trump in prison because he's a, quote, elderly first offender. Wolf?

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

Just ahead, the major court order today in the case of InfoWars Founder Alex Jones, a judge ruling on how the conspiracy theorist will have to pay $1.5 billion over his lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre.



BLITZER: Breaking news, we're learning new details right now about efforts to liquidate the assets of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his InfoWars media empire.

CNN's Hadas Gold has more for us. Hadas, court, I take it you just wrapped up. What can you tell us?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think this is a bit of a surprise decision by the judge in Houston, Texas. Now, earlier, the judge had approved that Alex Jones personal assets will be liquidated to help pay off the nearly $1.5 billion that he owes the families of those Sandy Hook victims for defamation and emotional stress for his years of lies, claiming that Sandy Hook Massacre did not actually happen. But what was surprising was that the judge actually ordered that the company, the parent company of InfoWars, of his conspiracy theory platform, would not be liquidated. Now, this does not mean that everything is rosy for Alex Jones. This was a question of essentially economic reality, he said.

Now, the families of the Sandy Hook victims were a bit split on this. Some of the families wanted liquidation immediately. They wanted everything to be sold off. This other families from Texas argued against it, and this was because they said that liquidation is a lengthy and costly process, and by not liquidating, by having the company be in bankruptcy court, they could get their money faster through state courts, and the judge agreed with them.

In fact, the judge sounded very thoughtful and almost pained in some of it when he was making his decision, saying that he recognized that the timing of this was hard because Father's Day is coming up. He said it was one of the most difficult cases he has ever had, but he said this was in the best interest of the families.

BLITZER: Hadas Gold, thank you very much for that update.

And coming up Britain's Princess Catherine releasing new details today on her cancer battle, including an upcoming return to the public eye.



BLITZER: Breaking news in the Trump classified documents case, the former president's legal team responding to a gag order request by special counsel Jack Smith.

Let's go back to CNN's Paula Reid. She's gotten the latest on these developments.

Paula, what can you tell us?

REID: So, Wolf, back in May, attorneys for special counsel, Jack Smith, requested that the judge overseeing the classified documents case, Aileen Cannon, make it clear that Trump cannot make statements that pose a significant, imminent or foreseeable danger to law enforcement agents participating in the investigation.

Now, their concerns were false and inflammatory statements that Trump made when he claimed that FBI agents were ready to shoot him and that, quote, he nearly escaped death during the search of his Mar-a-Lago property.

Now, Wolf, he was in New York at the time of that search. Now, here, his attorneys are arguing against any restrictions on his speech. They're making many of the same arguments that they have made many times related to other gag orders pointing to the fact that he is the leading candidate for the Republican ticket, for the presidency, insinuating that this is some sort of efforts to restrict his political speech.

Now, these are arguments that have played out in New York. And in this case, the judge overseeing this case has already tossed this gag order request saying that the prosecutors did not sufficiently confer with Trump's attorneys before filing it. So they're once again litigating this issue and Trump's attorneys this time in addition to the usual arguments about his political speech and how it should be protected, there are also pointing out the prosecutors have not submitted, quote, any evidence, threats or harassment resulting from Trump's speech.

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

There's other news we're following right now. We just got an update from Catherine, princess of Wales, on her health as she battles cancer.

[18:50:01] The princess says she's making, quote, good progress and expect to make -- expects to make a public appearance of King Charles' birthday parade tomorrow.

CNN's Max Foster is joining us from just outside Buckingham Palace in London.

Max, what else is the princess herself saying?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very powerful statement and very personal, really putting herself out there trying to be as honest as possible.

I'm making good progress, but as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days. On those bad days, you feel weak, tired, and you have to get into your body resting. But on good days, when you feel stronger, you want to make the most of feeling well.

My treatment is ongoing and will be going on for months as well, she tells us. But she is now ready to come out in public, at least that's the hope if she has a bad day, they might have to cancel, is pouring down with rain here. The royal fans though, are still out there desperate to see her.

This will be the king's parade. She'll be traveling in a carriage of the road behind me, should be appearing on the balcony if all goes well, and all of this announcement really came today when they released a photograph as well, which is really poignant. She's there on her own. She looks well and she talks about not being out of the woods yet.

So this is personal, is deep. It's a big test. We're going to see how with their kids all the time tomorrow. And I think that really speaks to everything she tries to do this year, is make sure they were okay before she started dedicating herself back to work.

BLITZER: Max Foster, reporting for us, Max, thanks very much.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: With hopes for an immediate Gaza ceasefire and hostage release fading, a senior Hamas official tells CNN, quote, no one has any idea how many captives are still alive. Some of the remaining hostages are dual U.S.-Israeli nationals.

I want to tell you about them and we want to warn you, some of the footage in this report is graphic.


BLITZER (voice-over): Edan Alexander was serving as a volunteer soldier with the IDF when Hamas terrorists attacked on October 7th. His mother told CNN that she and her son spoke while the attack was underway. She told him on the phone, I love you. Be safe, be brave.

YAEL ALEXANDER, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE EDAN ALEXANDER: I'm speaking with him like every day in my heart like the whole day I'm speaking with him and just tell him how we miss him and we are doing everything that we can and we want him to come back and just to tell him about all this stuff that we did and -- you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doing, still doing.

BLITZER: This is Sagui Dekel-Chen. He is a father of three girls, one of them born while he has been a hostage.

JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF HOSTAGE SAGUI DEKEL-CHEN: Sagui is exactly the kind of son that every father would want to have, a leader, a friend, a loving man.

BLITZER: Hersh Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped on October 7th from the Nova Music Festival. Graphic video from that day shows Hamas fighters leading him away from a bomb shelter and forcing him in a truck. According to eyewitnesses and video evidence, he had huddled in that shelter until terrorists threw grenades inside. Hersh's hand has blown off, bloodied, the bone in his arm visible.

In April, Hamas released a propaganda video of him, the first proof he survived those injuries. In that video, part of Goldberg-Polin left arm is missing. At the end of the video, he told his family to stay strong, a message that echoed his mother.

RACHEL GOLDBERG, MOTHER OF HOSTAGE HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN: It was just interesting, because as, you know, I've probably said a million times -- over a million times at this point over these 202 days, I love you, stay strong, survive. I love you, stay strong, survive.

And so to hear him use that sort of language, which I'm assuming he has not heard us say and to say, I know you're working so hard. I don't know if he knows that. But it was very meaningful for us and powerful for us to hear that.

BLITZER: Omer Neutra was raised on Long Island and was captain of multiple sports teams growing up. His grandparents were Holocaust survivors. And his family said he chose to join the Israeli army to, quote, do his part in defending the country.

DANIEL NEUTRA, BROTHER OF HOSTAGE OMER NEUTRA: My brother is strong, friendly, amazing guy. He's really funny guy. And so many people have reached out to me from his youth group, from school, from so many different places hundreds of people just reaching out to us to tell him, to tell us how much he means to them. And he's really a person who builds communities around him. And without him, these communities are lost. We don't know what to do without him.

BLITZER: Keith Siegel grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and his brother describes him as a gentle person. He and his wife Aviva, were kidnapped from their home on October 7th. Aviva was released in November as part of a hostage deal after more

than 50 days in captivity. In April, Hamas released a video of Keith along with Israeli hostage, Omri Miran. After seeing Keith in that hostage video, his wife and daughter had this message.

ILAN SIEGEL, DAUGHTER OF HOSTAGE KEITH SIEGEL (translated): Seeing my father today only emphasizes to all of us how much we must reach a deal as soon as possible and bring everyone home. I demand that the leaders of this country watch this video and see their own father crying out for help.

AVIVA SIEGEL, FREED HOSTAGE & WIFE OF KEITH SIEGEL (translated): Keith, I love you, we will fight until you return.


BLITZER (on camera): And we, of course, hope all the hostages are released at released soon.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.