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The Situation Room

Biden Adviser On Debate With Trump, Expect The Unexpected; Trump And Allies Take New Jabs At Biden Ahead Of CNN Debate; Source Says, Prosecutors Recommend Criminal Charges Against Boeing; Biden Condemns Protest Outside L.A. Synagogue As Antisemitic; Building A New Future At Site Of Deadliest Antisemitic Attack In US. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 24, 2024 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden is hunkered down as preparations ramp up for his pivotal debate with Donald Trump here on CNN.


We're breaking down the stakes with three days to go as a Biden adviser is now warning to expect the unexpected.

As for Trump, he's taking new jabs at his opponent and teasing the possibility that he could be nasty or nice when he takes the stage in Atlanta on Thursday. Stand by for details on how both candidates' strategies are now taking shape.

And nearly six years after the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh breaks ground on a new house of worship and a new future. I was there to witness this emotional moment and speak with families impacted by the horrific shooting.

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

Our top story this hour, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump are fine-tuning their strategies for their potentially game changing debate here on CNN this Thursday. The two men sharing a similar goal to portray their opponent as unfit for office.

Our correspondents are covering both candidates as their epic showdown gets closer and closer. First, let's go to CNN's M.J. Lee. She reports on President Biden's debate preparations.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Everybody knows he's a liar. I just want to make sure -- I want to make sure.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (INAUDIBLE) last in your class, not first in your class.

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Four years after this contentious debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, featuring a torrent of insults, name calling, and interruptions.

TRUMP: Why wouldn't you answer that question?

BIDEN: Because the question is -- the question is -- will you shut up, man?

LEE: President Biden is again preparing to face off against his unpredictable predecessor on the debate stage. CNN is learning that Biden is preparing for whatever version of Donald Trump might show up Thursday night, including a potentially disciplined Donald Trump, recreating the experience of going up against Trump, a key feature of the mock debates.

BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: You want to find some balance between recreating the experience and not attempting to, if you will, audition for Saturday Night Live.

LEE: Top campaign aides insisting that regardless of whether the ex- president is unhinged or more demure on Thursday, there's simply no altering his record.

MITCH LANDRIEU, BIDEN CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: People are going to know that he's a twice impeached convicted felon, who's been found to have defamed somebody, sexually abused somebody, and gone bankrupt six times. They will always know that.

LEE: Ahead of the high-stakes debate set to unfold inside CNN's Atlanta studio, Biden hunkering down with more than a dozen of his top aides at Camp David, the campaign hoping to showcase two starkly different visions on a whole host of issues, the economy, democratic institutions and reproductive rights.

BIDEN: Decades of progress shattered just because the last guy got four years in the White House. You know what will happen if he gets another four. For MAGA Republicans, Roe is just the beginning.

LEE: Democrats on Monday seizing on the two-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade and placing blame squarely at Trump's feet. A new Biden campaign ad featuring testimonial from one Louisiana woman who says she was turned away from two emergency rooms after a dangerous miscarriage at 11 weeks of pregnancy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's now a convicted felon. Trump thinks he should not be held accountable for his own criminal actions but he will let women and doctors be punished.

LEE: Vice President Kamala Harris, who has emerged the administration's leading voice on the issue, one of many top Democrats blanketing the country today.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: In the case of the stealing of reproductive freedom from the women of America, Donald Trump is guilty.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LEE (on camera): And, Wolf, if it's impossible to predict how President Donald Trump will behave on Thursday, even Biden allies would acknowledge that President Biden's performance at times can be mixed. There are events and days when he can be really energized and focused and other times when he is less on his game. So, there's no question that he and his team right now at Camp David are also working on the performance, and they're certainly hoping that that the President Biden that everybody saw at his State of the Union remarks back in March, that that is going to be the version of the President that everyone sees on Thursday night.

BLITZER: M.J., I want you to stand by. I also want to bring in, seen as Kristen Holmes. She's down in Florida covering the Trump campaign for us. Kristen, what about the former President? What is he doing and saying just ahead of this major matchup?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just to go off of what M.J. was saying, I think Donald Trump's own senior advisers would acknowledge that they don't know which Donald Trump is going to show up on Thursday. But what they have been doing is trying to hone his messaging, having what they call policy sessions. Any senior adviser that you talk to will tell you that they don't use the word preparation or prep when it comes to Donald Trump and the debate.


Instead, they have these small meetings with senior advisers, with allies, with lawmakers who can shed particular insight into various issues They've had more than a dozen. They have talked about everything, from abortion to immigration, to the economy. What they are really hoping that Donald Trump will do is focus on those issues, like immigration, like the economy, things that he pulls higher than Biden on.

Now, Donald Trump just moments ago spoke in an interview talking about what he's doing to prepare. Take a listen.


TRUMP: How are you preparing? I'm preparing by taking questions from you and others, if you think about it, preparing by dealing with you, you're tougher than all of them, right?


HOLMES: Now, his team has said this on a number of occasions that because he is taking questions at various events, again, friendly audience or in specific interviews, again, generally a friendly interviewer, that this is all part of Donald Trump getting ready for the debate. But I think, again, the thing to reiterate here is while they are trying to hone his messaging, they are hoping to have a more measured Donald Trump up on the stage, one that is more focused. Even they don't know who is going to show up on that stage on Thursday.

BLITZER: All right. Kristen Holmes and M.J. Lee, to both of you, thank you very much. Let's get some more on all of this. Joining us are political experts, and I'll start with Gloria Borger. Gloria, Trump says he's preparing for the CNN debate by doing podcast interviews, among other things. He's not necessarily doing formal debate preparation, we're told. What do you make of that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he doesn't think that he needs it. What they're doing is they're talking about issues because he does need to brush up on the issues because he has spent all his time talking about the 2020 election. But you never know what Donald Trump is going to show up. I do not believe that there is such a thing as Donald Trump pivoting into someone else. We've talked about that for years, and that has never occurred.

I think the question that I've got is how will he react to Joe Biden if Joe Biden gets under his skin? How will he react, because there's no audience there that he can play off of? How will he react if his mic is shut off? Will that anger him? I mean, we don't know the answer to those questions, but what we do know is that Biden is not going to let up on him. I mean, one of the best points of the first debate of 2020, lots of people say, is when Biden told Donald Trump just to shut up because he couldn't get a word in, edgewise. So, you know, we'll have to see how Biden behaves and how Trump responds.

Scott Jennings is with us as well. Scott, I want you and our viewers to listen to what Trump has been saying about this upcoming CNN debate. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Crooked Joe has gone to a log cabin to study, prepare. No, he didn't -- he's sleeping now.

I say he'll come out all jacked up, right? All jacked up.

Should I be tough and nasty and just say you're the worst president in history or should I be nice and calm and let him speak?


BLITZER: Scott, what sort of Donald Trump are you expecting to show up Thursday night?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm hoping it's the one from the second debate in 2020. I mean, there were two debates. The first one was a disaster. The second one, Trump actually did come out. He was measured. He had command of the facts. He won several exchanges with Joe Biden. He had a much better debate. Of course, by then, as we all know, the election was basically over. He had cratered in the first debate. Millions of people had already voted. And the thing -- the die was cast, as they say.

So, if I were them, that's what I'd be thinking about. Replicate debate number two, throw away debate number one, because if you do that again, that's a bad day. BLITZER: Ashley Allison is with us as well. Ashley, CNN has learned that Biden aides are actually gearing up for what could be, and I'm quoting now, a very disciplined Donald Trump, in their words. How should the president handle that?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think President Biden has to do his own performance. He cannot go and try and play on Donald Trump's field. That is not a winning strategy. So, Joe Biden needs to come out and talk to the American people. While Donald Trump -- I mean, Scott is hoping that he has a second debate from 2020. I doubt that Donald Trump can remain disciplined for 90 minutes.

He may start out being disciplined, but if Joe Biden has a game plan of laying out the plans that he has done for the American people, what he will continue to do for the American people, if he gets another four years, and making the contrast of the person that might show up, whether it's Jekyll or Hyde, whatever version of Donald Trump shows up, making the contrast of you never know what you're going to get with this guy.

And we saw it for four years under Donald Trump. We've seen it for the last four years, from January 6th to his most recent conviction.


And so Joe Biden can paint that contrast very clearly, as long as he's playing his game, debating on his terms, and not taking the bait for Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Gloria, as you know, the Biden campaign is signaling they intend to seize on the issue of abortion rights for women as a key issue this Thursday night. Is that what voters want to hear from President Biden?

BORGER: Well, I think voters do want to hear about the issues. And abortion is one of those issues that does very well for Joe Biden, and that's why I think they'll emphasize it. You know, you have to talk about everything, and I think he'll clearly defend his record. But, you know, Donald Trump brags about appointing the justices that did away with Roe. And I don't think Joe Biden is going to let that go unmentioned. I think it's going to be a key part of this debate.

And, again, the question I have is how much of this gets under Donald Trump's skin and how does he react to that? He is not used to being attacked by the people around him, nor has he debated -- don't forget, he didn't debate during the primaries. He hasn't had any practice at debating. So, you know, let's see how he reacts in a, in a real debate with Joe Biden.

BLITZER: Yes, good point. Scott, how concerned should Republicans be that Trump will be on the defensive on issues like abortion access and protecting democracy?

JENNINGS: Well, that's the issue set that Biden wants to fight the debate on. If you could have the largest percentage of time on two things, that's what Biden would prefer. What Trump has to do is pivot to the things that actually sit at the top of the issues list, inflation, economy, immigration. That's why Joe Biden has a low approval rating right now. And what Trump has to do is pivot out of this infirm ground and pivot to the firm ground. But the only way to do it is with the facts. He has to be better, well-armed with the facts than Biden has proven to be.

Remember, when he sat down with Aaron Burnett, the president said a lot of falsehoods about inflation and the economy. Trump's got to get him backpedaling on that. That's the firm ground for Donald Trump. So, that's what Republicans are hoping for, a long debate about the economy.

BORGER: And I think the question is, will Donald Trump go back and try and re-litigate the 2020 election again?


BORGER: Which is something he always does, which is something that his staff does not want him to do. People have heard enough about that. But can he go on for any length of time without talking about a stolen election?

BLITZER: We shall see. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, there's breaking news. We're following right now. We just learned that prosecutors are recommending criminal charges against Boeing after an investigation of safety lapses. Stand by. We're getting details.

Also, new details coming in from inside court on a day of key hearings in the classified documents case against Donald Trump, including whether the judge will put a gag order on the former president.



BLITZER: There's breaking news just coming into The Situation Room. Federal prosecutors are now recommending criminal charges against Boeing aircraft. The recommendation comes after an investigation into safety lapses at the company.

CNN's Gabe Cohen is following the story for us. Gabe, first of all, how significant is this?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Wolf, this could be a huge blow to Boeing in what has already been an extremely turbulent year for the company. My colleague, Evan Perez, has learned that federal prosecutors are recommending that senior officials at the Justice Department file criminal charges, bring those charges against Boeing for violating an agreement that the two sides reached back in 2021 that had shielded Boeing at that point from a criminal charge of conspiracy to commit fraud after those two 737 MAX jet crashes that you may remember back in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people.

Now, when that deal was reached back in 2021 Wolf, the Justice Department agreed not to prosecute Boeing over those allegations, that it had defrauded the FAA, that it had not provided information to federal regulators as long as the company made several changes. They had to overhaul their compliance practices. They have to start submitting regular reports to the federal government and pay effectively a $2.5 billion fine.

But just last month in May, federal prosecutors wrote that Boeing had breached those obligations and had allegedly failed to implement what the company said they would, a program to prevent and detect violations of U. S. fraud laws so that that type of fraud would not be committed in the future.

Now, Wolf, Boeing has said up to this point, that is not true, that the company has followed the terms of the deal, but this update today, this is prosecutors saying that they have a case that shows Boeing has not followed the deal and that criminal charges should be filed against them.

So, what does this mean for Boeing? Well, we don't know exactly at this point. We know that the Justice Department has until July 7th to make a final decision about those charges. And we know the two sides are still talking. Maybe a deal will be reached. We could see financial penalties brought against Boeing. We could also see the federal government bring in a third party to monitor Boeing's compliance moving forward. And they may even demand that Boeing plead guilty in this case and admit some sort of wrongdoing.

But we know, Wolf, that a felony fraud charge would be very serious for the company. It could jeopardize business, jeopardize future contracts with frankly any clients, but especially with the government, especially the Department of Defense, one of their major clients, Wolf. So, again, we're still awaiting updates ahead of that July 7th due date for some sort of charges or potentially a deal. So, we may see more in the days or at least the next couple weeks here.


BLITZER: Yes, this is clearly going to be a huge, huge legal battle that's about to unfold. What are the families of people killed on those 737 MAX jets saying?

COHEN: Well, look, Wolf, they've been speaking out for years now. We saw them just last week on Capitol Hill when Boeing's CEO was testifying in front of Congress. They have said they want Boeing prosecuted by the federal government. And they want to see a fine levied against Boeing in the range of $25 billion or so. Whether or not that will happen, we will see, but we know the families have put out a statement or at least lawyers for them saying that this is a step forward, learning this update today that potentially a recommendation of criminal charges is on the table, but it won't end there. They certainly want to see that prosecution move forward and they want to see a major fine for the company.

BLITZER: Gabe Cohen, thanks very much for that report, the major breaking news we're following. I want to get some reaction right now from Ed Pierson. He's the executive direct executive director of the Foundation for Aviation Safety and a Boeing whistleblower. And, Ed, thanks so much for joining us.

We've spoken in the past. First of all, what's your reaction to this breaking news that federal prosecutors have now recommended bringing criminal charges against Boeing?

ED PIERSON, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: Well, thanks for having me, Wolf. And I guess my first reaction is that's encouraging, very encouraging news, but, quite honestly, I'm reluctant to get my hopes up right now.

BLITZER: Why is that?

PIERSON: Well, it was a recommendation, right? So, the attorney general, Merrick Garland, I guess, will have the final say. I just hope that he really considers what's best for the public. It's not just that these families deserve justice, but if you don't hold Boeing accountable, they're going to continue to do their criminal behavior, and that's not good for aviation safety.

BLITZER: If the attorney general and the Justice Department does -- if they do pursue this, what kind of impact could that have on Boeing if it's formally criminally charged and ultimately convicted?

PIERSON: That's a great question. I think some people will automatically say, oh, well, Boeing will not be able to get contracts because they're a felon. I think Congress would probably run out and do whatever they have to do to pass an exemption to allow that. And I don't really understand why they can't pursue prosecution anyhow, because we're really talking about individuals that made conscious decisions. Those are the ones that need to be held accountable.

And I think that that can be done without really harming the company. It's going to help the company. I mean something that's way more dangerous than a trial is another disaster, a preventable disaster.

BLITZER: So, what do you think? What could this mean for the families of people who died on those Boeing planes?

PIERSON: Wolf, it would mean everything to those individuals, I mean. Those individuals have been forever harmed, and they are the ones out there fighting the hardest to get justice and accountability because they want the truth. And it would mean everything to them. We talk to them every day and it just breaks their heart that they keep fighting, every other month there's a new revelation of a criminal something that was done, that should have should never have happened. I think, you know, it would just be an amazing vindication to them.

And it really needs to happen, I mean, to sign a deferred prosecution agreement and wave a magic wand and let all these people off the hook when the FAA -- excuse me, the FBI and DOJ, they need to do a proper investigation. And when they do that, they're going to see that there was several people, and I'm not just talking about those two pilots who were charged earlier, several people did things knowingly risking the lives of other people.

BLITZER: Boeing Whistleblower Ed Pierson, thanks very much for your analysis. I appreciate it very much.

Coming up, the Biden campaign now preparing for a disciplined Donald Trump at Wednesday's CNN debate -- Thursday's CNN debate, I should say. We're taking a closer look at how the former president has debated in the past and we'll talk with the one person who's been inside presidential debate preparation sessions, including prepping for one debate involving Joe Biden.



BLITZER: Tonight, the Biden campaign says the president is preparing to debate Donald Trump on Thursday very mindful that no one is certain how Trump will act on stage, with even Trump signaling he might be nasty or he might be nice.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at Trump's past debate performances. Brian, what stands out to you as you watch Trump in action?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the former president has given us some incredible, unscripted, and, frankly, unforgettable moments in past debates. While it often seems to create chaos, there also does seem to be a strategy involved to do whatever is necessary to knock his opponents off balance.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Businessman Donald Trump.

TODD (voice over): Our first hint of Donald Trump's penchant for being an unconstrained debater came in 2015, when then Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly challenged him over his treatment of women who had drawn his disdain.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account has said several --

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

KELLY: No, it wasn't.

TRUMP: What I say is what I say. And, honestly, Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry. I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be based on the way you have treated me, but I wouldn't do that.

MATT VISER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It was the first indication that that this is an unpredictable force in American politics that we had never seen before. TODD: The former president has pulled visual stunts to knock his opponent off their game, like the time in 2016 when his campaign had three women who had accused former President Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual behavior sit front and center at his debate against Hillary Clinton. At that same debate, Trump stood very close behind Hillary Clinton as she spoke.


Clinton later joked about it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I would just I could just feel this presence behind me and I thought, whoa, this is really weird.

TODD: In the first 2020 debate, Trump repeatedly, unashamedly interrupted Joe Biden to the point where the then Democratic nominee just couldn't take it anymore.

BIDEN: The question is --

TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) radical left --

BIDEN: Would you shut up, man?

TRUMP: Listen, who is on your list, Joe? Who's on your list?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Gentleman, I think we've ended this one.

BIDEN: This is so unprecedented.

TODD: Trump has often scored points off these moments by feeding off the audience. In the 2016 primaries, Trump deftly parlayed audience reactions and the use of insults to confound his GOP opponents. There was a repeated salvo towards Senator Marco Rubio.

TRUMP: Don't worry about it, Little Marco.

TODD: Rubio responded by making fun of the size of Trump's hands. But Trump had a comeback for that, too.

TRUMP: He referred to my hands. If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee it.

TODD: Trump also struck a nerve by often lambasting former Florida Governor Jeb Bush's energy levels.

TRUMP: I know you're trying to build up your energy, Jeb, but it's not working very well.

TODD: Did that change perceptions of Jeb Bush?

VISER: It did, and Jeb Bush, frankly, never recovered from some of that. Created this narrative around the Bush campaign and around events that Jeb Bush was participating in that did start to seem low energy. (END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on camera): Analyst Matt Viser points out the format of this Thursday's debate will give Donald Trump far fewer opportunities to score with those unscripted and very colorful moments with no live studio audience for him to feed off of, and the candidate's microphones being muted unless it's their turn to speak. The former president will have to find possibly more traditional ways to try to knock his opponent off his game. And, Wolf, it's going to be fascinating to see how he does it.

BLITZER: We will all be watching. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Now for a behind the scenes look into debate preparation and what we can expect in Thursday's showdown. I want to bring in former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Kerry Healey. She was involved in prepping both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan prepare for their debates. Kerry, thanks so much for joining us.

More specifically, back in 2012, you helped Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate against then-Vice President Joe Biden. Walk us through what that is like.

KERRY HEALEY, ROMNEY 2012 CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, it's very interesting. I mean, that was probably a very different type of preparation than what you see between these two very experienced debaters now and people who are literally and have been incumbent presidents now. But for Paul Ryan, it was a question of making sure that he understood all of the issues, that he could address all of the difficult policy questions that might be thrown his way. And, quite frankly, one of the things that we were dealing with was this idea that Biden was such a good debater, and that he had so much energy, and he simply was overflowing verbally.

And we thought perhaps then maybe one of the advantages that we would have would be that he would get carried away and go outside the boundaries of his preparation and say something that would be surprising and detrimental to the campaign. But we saw the energy. We didn't see the mistake.

BLITZER: This is what former President Trump recently said of Biden's performance against Paul Ryan back in that 2012 vice presidential debate. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I watched him with Paul Ryan, and he destroyed Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan with the water, he was chugging water at a left and right. I didn't think a human being would be able to drink so much water at one time. And he beat Paul Ryan. So, I'm not underestimating him. I'm not underestimating him.


BLITZER: Kerry, what do you make of Trump outwardly praising Biden's debate skills? HEALEY: Well, I think this is a very typical thing that, that people do in advance of debates. They try to build up the skills of their opponent. They try to downplay their own likelihood of succeeding. They lower expectations for themselves and raise them for others.

BLITZER: Are there any risks, Kerry, in overpreparing for a presidential debate?

HEALEY: Well, it's interesting. I mean, I suppose you could become a bit rote. Perhaps it could take some of that exciting edge off of your answers. And one of the things that I find really interesting right now about how Trump is preparing or not preparing for this particular debate is that he's going out and doing what gives him the most energy. He's going out and talking to his faithful, he's going to rallies.

And I think that in the context of a debate where there is no audience within the studio itself, this could give him a real advantage because he's been out there testing messages.


He's been out there seeing what brings the applause, what brings the emotions out in the audiences that matter to him most, his base.

And so when he's standing in an empty studio and there's nothing there to give him any energy, he will probably be able to hearken back to that memory of what really worked with his audience when he was out on the stump. And that's a very different type of preparation than doing a mock debate or studying a policy book, things that I don't really think that Biden needs to do. But I'm sure that he is doing the debate style where you are having to do a mock debate and actually respond to some of the tougher questions that someone might throw your way.

BLITZER: Former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Kerry Healey, thank you so much for that analysis.

And just ahead what the judge of the Trump classified documents case is now signaling about the possibility of imposing a gag order on the former president.



BLITZER: Tonight, the judge in the Trump classified documents case down in Florida is considering whether to impose a gag order on the former president. But there are signs that she's skeptical about the special counsel's request.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz is in Fort Pierce, Florida, for us. We're also joined by CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe.

Katelyn, Judge Aileen Cannon appeared skeptical of a gag order for Donald Trump today. Tell us about that. KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. Wolf, much of the questioning from Judge Cannon this afternoon of the prosecutors was how they would be able to link the threats of Trump supporters toward the FBI and federal officials, law enforcement to the words of Donald Trump himself. So, the Justice Department has come to the court and is arguing here that Donald Trump has created an environment around his supporters that makes a significant, imminent and foreseeable danger for the law enforcement officials that are part of the FBI.

They've used examples of a man who fired a nail gun into an FBI office, another person who was threatening an FBI agent. And so pulling that all together, they're saying to the judge, please limit Donald Trump, a criminal defendant, limit his speech and ensure the safety of the law enforcement officials from the FBI that took part in the August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago. But Judge Cannon has a lot of questions that does make her appear quite skeptical of whether she would do this and impose a gag order on Donald Trump.

Here's a little bit of what that questioning sounded like. So, Prosecutor David Harbach asking, the government is at a loss to conceive why Mr. Trump would say something so false, so inconceivable, or inviting a violence about law enforcement officials taking part in that search. Judge Cannon then asks, where do you see a call for violence? And David Harbach, the prosecutor, responded that there are posts and comments by Trump that ultimately result in all types of terrible things. But she is asking them to make the link and to potentially even go back to the drawing board, get more information and bring it to her in the courtroom.

BLITZER: Andrew McCabe, let me get your thoughts. You're a former deputy director of the FBI. Prosecutors cited threats against FBI agents to justify this gag order against Trump. You've been skeptical of gag orders in the past, but how strong do you see the case for one here?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think the case is not great, Wolf. And I want to start by saying there is no question that Donald Trump creates risk and danger for people with the language that he uses. And in this case, he has clearly done that to the people who participated in the search in Mar-a-Lago, those FBI agents and really any FBI agents by drawing attention to this false claim that the FBI tried to assassinate him. That is definitely a dog whistle to his supporters to come out and do something to defend him.

However, gag orders are very, very tough things for courts to have to deal with. And they generally disfavor gag orders that are that are broad and not clearly defined. If you compare what the prosecutors are asking for here, which is a general prohibition to keep him from talking about the FBI or law enforcement, compare that to the gag order in the New York case that we just saw concluded. There, it was very specific. Donald Trump himself was talking about the judge, the judge's family and other people in the court and potentially witnesses, and he was restricted from talking about those individuals.

So in a situation like that, it is narrowly tailored and very clear, easy to administer. In the Florida case, it's not quite as clear. And I think the judge is probably not going to come down on the prosecutor's side.

BLITZER: Interesting. Katelyn, Trump's attorney again challenged the legality of Special Counsel Jack Smith today. Walk us through the arguments here.

POLANTZ: Right, Wolf. This is one of the attempts by Trump's defense team to stress test this entire case, and in this situation today, the authority, the power of the special counsel's office itself.

Now, we have seen these in other cases with other defendants in other courts challenging the special counsel. But, today, the argument was about funding, and Donald Trump's team did get a lot of questions from Judge Aileen Cannon, where she wanted a close reading of the history of the Justice Department's use of special counsel's offices before special prosecutors, independent prosecutors.

She also wanted to look at the money spent. And Donald Trump's team really did dig in on that idea and suggest to her that there just isn't enough congressional oversight, because they gave the money to the Justice Department and the Justice Department is using money for the special counsel's office that Congress just has no way to control or see into, to make sure they are appropriations are used the way that is intended.


And so, Judge Cannon has lot of questions here, but that doesn't necessarily mean we know how she will rule. She had about two hours of the hearing this morning and did not do any sort of tell or ruling from the bench.

BLITZER: Katelyn Polantz, and Andrew McCabe, to both of you, thank you.

Just ahead, a live report from Los Angeles with new details on violent clashes that erupted outside a synagogue causing police to respond in riot gear.


BLITZER: President Biden is condemning a protest outside a Los Angeles synagogue as antisemitic.


CNN's Nick Watt reports from Los Angeles.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scuffles in the street of a largely Jewish neighborhood Sunday after pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the synagogue, swiftly met by counter- protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've come to our home. They come attacking us.

WATT: The Jews of Los Angeles are no longer safe claims, claims the United Jewish Coalition, a pro-Israel group.

PROTESTERS: Intifada, intifada. Long live intifada.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say things like intifada revolution. They're talking about killing people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone give me --

WATT: Unclear who started the violence.

A real estate fair at the Adas Torah Synagogue staged by an agency that markets property in Israel appears to have been the focus of protests. The temple's director of security says the synagogue rented out the space, but had no affiliation with the real estate event.

Some counter-protesters did taunt the pro-Palestinian protesters with this --

COUNTER-PROTESTERS: Real estate in Gaza!

WATT: Since the Hamas terror attacks of October 7 and the subsequent Israeli assault on Gaza, antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents are on the rise across the country. And there have been countless pro- Palestinian protests on city streets, on college campuses. Some violent but very few outside a house of worship with claims that the entrance to the synagogue was blocked.

L.A. Mayor Karen Bass called this violence abhorrent. President Joe Biden tweeted: Intimidating Jewish congruence is dangerous, unconscionable, antisemitic and un-American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that Jewish people would go in front of the mosque or Christian people going in front to the mosque and do such a thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It meant to be intimidated. Yeah, disrupted, for sure. This is intimidating.

WATT: Jews say they feel intimidated here, where they live.


WATT (on camera): You know, I was just speaking to a man who lives around here who said, you know, over the past few months has been Jewish students who have been bearing the brunt with these protests on campus. Now that the protests are here outside synagogue, it is the families who are suffering.

Now, the mayor of Los Angeles said that LAPD patrols are stepped up around this neighborhood, around houses of worship around the city. And she says, if you are responsible for antisemitism or violence, you will be found and held accountable -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nick Watt, thank you very much. And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue are building a new future for their temple after it was targeted in a horrific massacre back in 2018. I was honored to be at the very moving groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday.


BLITZER (voice-over): A burst of hope for the Tree of Life congregation more than five-and-a-half years after enduring the deadliest antisemitic attack in American history.

We're following breaking news right now, a mass murderer at a synagogue a Pennsylvania just a little while ago, officials there raised the death toll to 11.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myer survived the 2018 shooting and is now leading his congregation forward as it breaks ground in a new synagogue with a new purpose.

RABBI JEFFREY MYERS, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: It would have been very easy days, weeks, and months after the shooting for us to just literally say that's it. We're just closing up our doors. But in conversations with the congregation, people said no, they were firm. We've got to come and we've got to rebuild right here, because if we leave we're then letting evil win.

BLITZER: Diane Rosenthal's two brothers, Cecil and David, were among those killed. They both had mental disabilities and found support in their synagogue.

DIANE ROSENTHAL, BROTHERS KILLED IN ANTISEMITIC ATTACK: The Tree of Life was a sanctuary for them. They felt accepted there. People didn't criticize them.

BLITZER: Diane joined a working group of survivors and community members to decide together on a memorial to remember their loved ones, the consensus.

ROSENTHAL: It's going be a beautiful garden. The actual memorial will be related to the books of life.

BLITZER: The victims will be inscribed in memory, for all hoping to learn lessons from that day.

But the congregation is finding deeper purpose from their pain. And the new tree of life site will also fulfill mission to educate.

Carole Zawatsky is leading the charge.

CAROLE ZAWATSKY, CEO, THE TREE OF LIFE: Inside the new institution of the Tree of Life there will be a museum, the first ever museum in America, or anywhere that examines the history of antisemitism.

BLITZER: That mission couldn't come at a more critical time.

DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN: Tree of life, Charlottesville, it has been building and building and building and after the horrific events of October 7, it sounds a full-blown crisis of antisemitism.

BLITZER: Second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president, calls this hate a poison on our democracy.

MEMHOFF: While people may think antisemitism is just targeted against Jews, it's actually targeted against all of us, and that's why we all need to come together to not only fight antisemitism, but fight hate of all kinds.

BLITZER: Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, who is also Jewish were sworn in to office on a bible that survived the attack.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA: We all have a responsibility to remember and remembering is not a passive exercise. Remembering is an active exercise, something that this place will call upon all of us to do.

BLITZER: The groundbreaking for the new tree of life building a step forward in that work. But rather than say goodbye to the victims by breaking ground with a shovel, the congregation is celebrating the moment and how their loved ones lived with joy.

ROSENTHAL: We're going to be using little glass houses will actually do what we do in a traditional Jewish wedding, where you break the glass to celebrate the events and those pieces of glass will be used as the mezuzah, which will hang on the doors within the new facility.

BLITZER: In the Jewish tradition, we honor those who have passed with these words. May their memories be a blessing.

ZAWATSKY: The best way to make their memories a blessing is by puncturing through the darkness with light. And the best form of light is education.


BLITZER (on camera): And I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Thanks very much for watching

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.