Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Gag Order Expanded In New York Hush Money Case; Hope Hicks Expected To Testify At Trump's Hush Money Trial; Florida Supreme Court Allows Six-Week Abortion Ban. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 21:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: So, I think, that's going to blow up again. It's going to be a problem. You're probably going to see a lot of it, on social media. And we're not going to hear much from this lot about it, I don't think, because he's not a working royal.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. Max Foster, thanks very much. Max.

That's it for us. The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now. I'll see you, tomorrow.


A slew of breaking news, on the Trump legal front. The judge overseeing his first criminal trial has just expanded his gag order, and it now includes a ban on attacking the judge's family, after Trump went after the judge's daughter.

Also, the former President just posted that $175 million bond, managing to avoid the seizure of his assets, and averting losing his quote, "Babies." The big question tonight is how did he do it?

And I have some reporting for you, this hour. She was once considered to be one of Donald Trump's most trusted aides. And now, Hope Hicks is expected to be called as a witness, for the prosecution, at his first criminal trial.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

The hammer really just dropped after 8 o'clock, here tonight, in New York. And you can almost feel the reaction, coming out of Mar-a-Lago. Donald Trump, who is never at a loss for words, or insults, may have met his match, tonight, in Judge Juan Merchan.

That's the judge, who's overseeing his criminal hush money case, and in a rare evening order, tonight, just expanded that gag order on the former President, banning him from speaking about the families of the judge, and the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg. Of course, still allowed to talk about the judge himself and Bragg.

This all comes after Trump's relentless attacks on Judge Merchan, and his daughter, whom Trump I should note, identified by name, to his millions of followers.

The judge's ruling, tonight, that Trump's railing on family members of the court staff and on prosecutors, and I'm quoting the judge now, "Serves no legitimate purpose" and "Merely injects fear."

I'm joined tonight by the former judge, of the U.S. District Court, for the Southern District of New York, Shira Scheindlin.

And Judge, it's great to have you here tonight, especially with this breaking news.

I just wonder first, right off the bat, what do you make of the judge's decision here?

HON. SHIRA SCHEINDLIN (RET.), FORMER JUDGE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT: Well, he did exactly the right thing.

This order had to cover the families of the District Attorney and of the Judge, because they're not part of this case. They are independent adults. They didn't sign on to become a judge. And it's wrong, to allow them to be attacked.

So, the judge did what he had to do, and he did it well.

COLLINS: I mean, you spent 22 years on the bench. And I wonder where this behavior, by the former President, going after the judge's daughter, I mean, obviously, also attacking the judge himself, and posting his picture over the weekend. But where does that kind of behavior rank among what you've seen from a criminal defendant?

SCHEINDLIN: It's pretty rare. It happens in some cases that are high- profile, that the judge will be attacked. I was attacked, other judges have been attacked with rhetoric, but never my family members. And those -- the people who did those attacks, were not the kind of people, who had followers, who might be violent.

And that's what's so troubling here, is that Trump's followers, when he incites them, have acted. This has actually happened. It happened on January 6th. It happened with an FBI office. It happened with threats to Judge Chutkan. So, we know that his followers are capable of taking his words and then acting violently. And that didn't happen to me.

So, a judge signs on, and can expect to be attacked in the press, and maybe get some letters at the courthouse, and the Marshals read those letters and offer protection. But I never felt physically threatened.

COLLINS: It is really remarkable, because we've seen the influence that he has, on his supporters.

And when you read the judge's -- Judge Merchan's decision, tonight, I mean, he's talking about how he says "The average observer, must now, after hearing" the "Defendant's recent attacks, draw the conclusion that if they become involved in these proceedings, even tangentially, they should worry not only for themselves, but for their loved ones as well." And he said it's "No longer just a mere possibility or a reasonable likelihood that there exists a threat to the integrity of the judicial proceedings."

SCHEINDLIN: Well, again, that's exactly right.

Because there have been instances, where family members of judges have been hurt. There was the case, in New Jersey, where the judge's son was killed. There was a case in Chicago where the judge's mother, I believe it was, and husband were attacked. A judge in the Southern District was killed in his own backyard.


So, there have been attacks on judges. In fact, years ago, the judge I clerked for was sent poison candy, and his wife ate one. And luckily, she lived through it. So, family members can be at risk. There's no question about that. And it's done to instill fear, as you said.

COLLINS: I think the immediate question that everyone has, knowing Donald Trump, and having covered him, for so long, is what happens if he violates this new expanded gag order?

SCHEINDLIN: Well, that's the $64 Question, as they say.

Look, the first thing you can do is to give a warning. I think that's been covered.

The next thing you can do is give fines, which is what Judge Engoron did.

But the third step, and it has to happen sometimes with contempt, is actually putting somebody in the cell, until they understand that the behavior is absolutely unacceptable.

Now, is that what anybody wants to do? No, because that would only make him a martyr. So nobody really wants to put him in a cell. But he has to know, I think, that that is a real possibility, if he doesn't stop doing what the -- what the judge has ordered that he stop doing.

COLLINS: Yes, I think the idea of seeing that happen seems so far- fetched to so many people, whether you're a critic of his, or a supporter.

But if he does violate the gag order and he does get fined, and it doesn't really make a difference to him, and that threat doesn't happen? I mean, wouldn't that be seen as special treatment? Would that happen to you, or to I, if we violated that gag order?

SCHEINDLIN: That's exactly right. He's, again, being treated differently than any other defendant, because any other defendant would be incarcerated, if a fine did not stop the behavior.

But we've got a problem here. This is a former President of the United States. He's a candidate for President of the United States, who has his rallies and is on the campaign trail. And it's really hard to muzzle him, with the threat of incarceration, because as I said, that would only make him a martyr.

But what can be done? The judicial process has to have integrity. And that, we can't do without that in a democratic society.

COLLINS: Yes. And the judge is saying here that this -- this isn't limiting his free speech. It's just protecting people.

SCHEINDLIN: It's not, because the First Amendment is not absolute, in any event. There have always been limits, when it -- when danger, when there's a clear and present danger to someone or to lots of people. So, it's not an absolute right.

COLLINS: Judge Shira Scheindlin, it's great to have you. Thank you, for joining me tonight.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: And that is not all of the breaking developments that are happening, on the Trump legal front, tonight.

Shortly after or earlier tonight, we saw the judge in the criminal case, releasing that expanded gag order, in this civil fraud case here, the one where Trump was found liable for years of business fraud in New York, we have now learned that Trump has avoided financial disaster, for the time being.

He has posted a $175 million bond that prevents the New York Attorney General from seizing any of his assets, as he appeals that ruling.

Here tonight is Senior Forbes Editor, Dan Alexander.

Dan, we're supposed to be talking about Truth Social and something else. But this breaking news just came down before the show.


COLLINS: What do we know about how Trump secured this bond?

ALEXANDER: Well, the company that helped them do it is called Knight Specialty Insurance Company. This is a company that's part of a group of companies, owned by Don Hankey, who's another billionaire. He's worth about $7.5 billion.

Interestingly, Don Hankey is also the largest individual shareholder, or was for several years, in Axos Financial, which provided two key loans for Trump, against Trump Tower, and his golf resort, Doral, down in Miami, back when he was facing sort of that debt crisis, around the time that he came out of office.

So, two times, you see this billionaire stepping in, and saying these are financial arrangements that I can do. I think that I can make money on these, and essentially saving Trump.

COLLINS: Well, that's pretty remarkable that it's coming from someone that he has gone to before. ALEXANDER: Yes, that's right. And Don Hankey is kind of an interesting guy. He made his fortune in subprime auto loans. So, this is somebody, who's comfortable with lending money, to people that other people wouldn't necessarily want to give money to.

He's a strictly numbers guy, who's going to look at this, and say, OK, yes, he's got the collateral, he's got the cash, which Trump does. I can do this bond, and we're going to make money on it. And that's the end the story.

And that's how Trump ultimately was able to secure this.

COLLINS: Well, on that front. Trump had said a few things, when this bond was reduced, when he couldn't pay what it was initially. But when it was reduced, he kind of had said he would use collateral or cash. Then, he said pretty definitively, one time, I believe, in court that he was going to do it in cash.

Do we know what was the case here?

ALEXANDER: Well, this was a bond. So, you would expect that it would be collateral that he had posted, and not expected (ph) the collateral that he posted with Knight Insurance was cash.


And when I say cash, I mean, liquid assets. So, you could take stocks, you could take bonds, you could take actually cash sitting in the bank account, all of which Trump has plenty. But if you add all of that up, to sort of a liquid assets category, you're looking at roughly $400 million, for Donald Trump.

And now, between this one and the E. Jean Carroll one, the majority of his cash is now tied up in these bond agreements. And so, that's going to limit his ability, to grow or expand his business, even to operate his business very freely.

COLLINS: That's interesting. And, I mean, essentially what this company is doing is saying that if he loses the appeal, and he doesn't pay, that they will cover that $450 million judgment.

I mean, but what this means, and as far as next steps, is that the Attorney General here cannot take any action, for months against his properties, until the appeal actually plays out?

ALEXANDER: That's right. So, Trump's properties will not be seized, right now, which is really good news for him.

The Attorney General had already started filing some documents that suggested that she might be going after even small assets. That could have been really, really disastrous for Trump. Because if she had started seizing small assets, selling them at fire sale prices, and then collecting little amounts of cash, via several assets, all the sudden, his empire could have gotten a lot smaller, very, very fast.

And now, he's able to hold that off, in hopes that he wins this appeal, where he's may be able to lower his judgment, or something like that, and be able to escape this, without as much damage, as he would have had, if he had had to pay the initial judgment, at the outset, or if he had had to go through the fire sale process.

COLLINS: Well, one thing we had talked about, you and I, when it was -- how is he going to pay the half a billion dollar judgment, that he clearly couldn't, was Truth Social.

And the fact that it was going public, and it started trading, and he kind of stood to get this massive windfall from it, even though as you correctly predicted, you said it wasn't, it didn't have the profitability that people were assuming it did. And when it actually went on the market, you predict that was going to change.

I mean, we basically saw that that play out today.

ALEXANDER: Yes, that's right. The stock tanked today, wiped a billion dollars off of Donald Trump's net worth in a day.

But that being said, a billion comes and a billion goes, these days, for Donald Trump. He's going to have a very, very volatile fortune, because so much of it is tied to this stock.

Now, this thing is going to trade like a meme stock. So yesterday, there was bad news. They announced that they had lost a ton of money through 2023. Their revenues were declining on a quarterly basis, all the sorts of things that if you were a serious investor, looking at the financials, of this company, would give you a lot of concern.

However, in this case, it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out, over the long-term. I wouldn't be shocked if the stock bounces right back up, and then bounces back down, and just sort of yo-yos around, because it's so divorced from the logic or the numbers, the financials of this company. And it's still, although it came down a long way today, has a much longer way to go down before these numbers start making any sense.

COLLINS: But, I mean, all this had to do is because this is a $58 million loss, last year, after a $50 million gain, in 2022. I mean, what is that? How do people operate, knowing what they know now, now that they can actually see the hard numbers about what Truth Social does or doesn't really have to offer?

ALEXANDER: Yes, well, the key numbers to look at here are what the operating profits are of this company.

And what's really bad for Trump is that in the last quarter of 2023, the operating loss was roughly $5.3 million, which was up from its previous loss, the prior quarter of about $3 million. And that looks like it's the largest operating loss, since this company has started taking in revenue. That's a real problem.

Now, when you get to the bottom line, there's a bunch of sort of financial instruments, in terms of debt, and converted equity, and that sort of stuff that goes into that final total. But if you look at the operating numbers, it's a much cleaner number, and it doesn't look good for Trump.

Now, keep in mind, the sorts of people, who are really excited about this, and investing it in day one, day two, are not the sort of people, who are going to be looking too, too closely at these numbers.

COLLINS: Dan Alexander, you called it. Thank you for joining us, again tonight, to talk about all that and the breaking news.


COLLINS: Up next, as promised, we have new reporting for you tonight. Reporting that I'm hearing from sources, is one of Donald Trump's former confidantes, his longtime and very trusted aide, Hope Hicks, may soon be testifying, for the prosecution, at his criminal trial, set to start in just two weeks from now.

Also tonight, we are now learning the Chef, Jose Andres, has now confirmed some of his aid workers, in World Central Kitchen, have been killed in Gaza. We have all the details ahead.



COLLINS: Tonight, I have new reporting that one of the former President's closest confidantes, and most trusted aides, is now expected to be called as a witness for the prosecution, in his hush money trial. That's according to a source familiar with the case.

Hope Hicks, of course served as Trump's campaign press secretary in 2016. She was later the White House Communications Director.

And when she testified, behind closed doors, to Congress, in 2019, she said multiple times that she was never present when Trump and Michael Cohen talked about Stormy Daniels.

But in documents, from Michael Cohen's federal case, prosecutors believed that Trump had joined a call that Cohen was on, with Hope Hicks, at the time that Cohen was working, to make stories about Trump's alleged affairs go away.

In fact, phone records show that multiple calls, between Michael Cohen and Hope Hicks, including the day that they learned Stormy Daniels wanted to be paid for her story.


And when the Karen McDougal story, the other woman, who said she had an affair with Donald Trump, when that first went public, Cohen texted Hicks that it was quote, getting "Little to no traction," and she responded to him quote, "Same. Keep praying. It's working."

I want to bring in CNN Senior Legal Analyst, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, Elie Honig.

Elie, I mean, Hope Hicks has testified before in that -- in 2019. She testified with the Mueller investigation. And she's testified to this grand jury that eventually indicted Trump. What do you make of what she could offer to prosecutors?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, she's potentially a very powerful witness for prosecutors.

First of all, it appears she was part of these crucial conversations, when Michael Cohen and Donald Trump were talking about paying off Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal. And importantly, why? That's one of the key questions here. Were they paying her to silence her, in relation to the election, or just for personal reasons?

Also, she's perfectly situated as a witness for a prosecutor. She's not like Michael Cohen. She hasn't spent her whole life, talking negatively about Donald Trump. She hasn't split from Donald Trump. I mean, they've parted ways on some things, but she's still more or less in Trump's camp.

And so, if you trust her testimony? And we know they have her testimony, because they put her in the grand jury. If you trust her testimony as a prosecutor? She could be a game-changer.

COLLINS: I mean, she essentially, you're arguing, would have more credibility with a jury, because she was someone, who was not only in the White House, but left, and then came back, and was certainly in Trump's good graces.

I mean, I can remember, when she left the White House, he walked her out, in front of all the press, in front of us, to kind of like give her this big goodbye, which--


COLLINS: --a lot of people in the Trump White House did not get.

HONIG: They don't all get happy going away party.

COLLINS: Yes, it was like the Dora, Hitch on the way out.

HONIG: Let me count the ways in which Hope Hicks is a better witness than Michael Cohen.

Number one, Hope Hicks does not have a perjury conviction or a fraud conviction. She's not lied to Congress.

Number two, she apparently is still in decent graces with Donald Trump. You don't have to have her attacked on the stand, the way Michael Cohen is going to be attacked, as a person, who is single- mindedly obsessed with bringing down Donald Trump. She's still in that camp.

And number three, she's just more detached than Michael Cohen. And you detached. As a prosecutor, you want your witnesses to be straight down the middle, just the facts. You don't want people with agendas, with axes to grind. So, if I'm looking at the two of them, I would much prefer Hope Hicks. I mean, now, a key question is going to be does her testimony mutually reinforce, or does it contradict?

COLLINS: Well, and the ballgame here is going to be tying Donald Trump, to knowing about this, right?


COLLINS: I mean, that's how they would be able to effectively make their case. So, the question is whether or not she could shed light on that.

HONIG: OK. This is such an important point that you've touched on.

This is not about did Donald Trump pay hush money. That's not illegal. This is not about did Donald Trump know they paid hush money. He pretty clearly did. That's also not illegal.

This is about falsification of business records. And so, the crucial link that has to be made is that Donald Trump somehow knew about, blessed, ordered, instructed that when you guys log these payments, don't put them in there as hush money payments, put them in there as legal fees.

And that's the thing we actually don't know that I've not seen documents that show Donald Trump knew or ordered that that's how they be logged. But that's the crime, falsification.

COLLINS: It's kind of remarkable, just looking at all the people, who could be called as witnesses, and we expect there to be a pretty long list.


COLLINS: It's like a redo of 2016. And the campaign. I mean, Kellyanne Conway testified to the grand jury as well. We don't know if she'll be called to potentially testify. As you know, we don't know for sure that Hope Hicks will. We expect her to. We don't know for sure until it starts.


COLLINS: But, I mean, it's pretty remarkable who we could see get up there on that witness stand.

HONIG: Yes, I mean, we are in all likelihood going to hear from Michael Cohen, testifying in a criminal case, Hope Hicks, potentially Stormy Daniels.

But it's also important for people to understand, there will be boring witnesses too. Not all witnesses are going to be like--

COLLINS: The documents?

HONIG: Yes, I mean, the documents, right? You have to call people who can say yes, that's a ledger. Yes, this is how we kept the ledger. That kind of thing.

So, but this is -- this is going to be a remarkable trial. We're going to see things playing out from that seemed like ancient history. I mean, 2016, if you have a kid in college, right now, like I do, they were in elementary school, when this all happened.

COLLINS: Don't page us (ph).

HONIG: Sorry.

COLLINS: What would be the first question that you asked Hope Hicks?

HONIG: Well.

COLLINS: If you are in that--

HONIG: That's a great question.

COLLINS: --if you are in that courtroom.

HONIG: I would go right to those phone calls, where she was on with Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.

I would ask her essentially, you can't lead, but if I could lead, I would say, you all made those payments, because it was the election. You all made those payments, because you were afraid of what, her coming out to the public, could do to Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

COLLINS: It's remarkable to see what this could look like.

Elie Honig.

HONIG: I'm looking forward to it.

COLLINS: I bet you are. I'm sure we'll be covering it all together.

HONIG: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Elie Honig, thank you for that.

Up next, there's been a big development, in the State of Florida, as the Supreme Court there, is going to allow one of the nation's strictest abortion bans, to go into effect, in 30 days from now. But voters will have the final say, come November.

What this means for women in the south, and what the political consequences could be. That's next.



COLLINS: Two decisions, by the Florida Supreme Court, today, are going to have huge consequences, for abortion access, not just there, but in this country. One opens the door for voters to protect abortion, and the other effectively bans it, unless they do.

In 30 days, a six-week ban, one of the strictest in the nation, will go into effect, in the State of Florida. Even though it's six weeks, many women don't even know that they're pregnant by that point.

And as you could see here, given how many southern states have already banned abortion, almost entirely, this is going to potentially force women, across the south, to travel further, to get abortion care after that time.

But in a sign of how this fight is not even close to being over, the conservative-leaning court also ruled to allow a measure, on the ballot, this November, in Florida that could protect the right to an abortion.

I want to bring in CNN Political Commentator, Margaret Hoover, who worked in the George W. Bush White House, and hosts "Firing Line" on PBS.


And this is just kind of a remarkable moment, to see both of these things happening, in a single day. And it just speaks to one, what this -- what our world looks like, what our nation looks like after Roe versus Wade was overturned.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there was a standard line from Republicans. And that was about federalism. That was like, let's just let the states decide, and every state will do what they want if you overturn Roe v. Wade. And that's exactly what you're getting.

But what you didn't hear, previously, was exactly how strident the far-right would be, when empowered, to take away the rights of women to make choices, about their own health care and reproductive rights.

I'm a pro-choice Republican. There are not very many of us. But more than you'd think, when you look at a state like Kansas, which is red, red, red, and votes 18 percentage points, to protect a woman's right to be able to have an abortion, if she wants one.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we kind of saw all these governors, trying to outdo each other, on what their abortion ban was going to be.

I mean, DeSantis signed this basically. And he says, well the legislature sent that to me. But I mean, he was also urging them to do it. He had a lot of control over them, at the time. It was before he ran for president.

HOOVER: Yes, I mean, it has been a race. And also, it was before he ran for president, is the entire reason he did it, right? Because, he was trying to outflank Donald Trump, and every other Republican, who was running for the nomination, on the right. Hard to outflank the President, who facilitated the overturn of Roe v. Wade, on abortion. But nevertheless, he tried. And here we are. Look, what are the consequences of this, politically? We know what the consequences are, in terms of the real lived lives of women, for the next six months. They're not -- they're going to have very, very difficult time getting an abortion, if you live in the State of Florida.

And resources are pouring into ways to facilitate their travel, which by the way, is a very different world than it was in 1973. It's a lot easier to get on a plane, and get an abortion, in other state. But this is not the world most women and most Americans want to live in. And that bears out in all the polling.

COLLINS: Well and Florida was kind of a state, where women in the South would go to, because it was like one of the only places where they could. I mean, if you lived in Alabama or Mississippi, it was incredibly difficult to get one anyway. And now, that kind of avenue is closed off. I mean, you can see from the map, how it's just basically a no-go zone.

HOOVER: Look, this -- it is a no-go zone. But I am heartened that this will be on the ballot. I'm heartened this will be on the ballot, because the State of Florida and the women in Florida, the men in Florida will be able to choose what they want. And every single time this has been put on the ballot, especially in red states, the rights of women to choose to have an abortion, have prevailed.

And the Biden campaign clearly thinks it's a big victory because they've decided, today, they're going to try to flip Florida, because they clearly think the wind is at their sails, with this issue.

COLLINS: Yes. What do you think is behind that? Well, I mean, is that likely? Does it really? Is it really--


HOOVER: I think flipping Florida is really difficult. Democrats haven't invested in Florida, in the way they've invested in other states, year after year. And Republicans, while they haven't invested deeply in many states, they have invested in Florida. So, Florida is hard.

But Joe Biden lost by about 371,000 votes. That's a lot, that's a big margin to make up. But if you consider that there may be depressed turnout, lack of enthusiasm, with the two candidates. But then if you have major mobilizing issues?

And by the way abortion, you'll hear Republicans say, yes, that mobilizes the left.

But it also mobilizes the right. It does not mobilize the right, and it is completely asymmetrical--

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we--

HOOVER: --in a way it mobilizes the left versus the right.

COLLINS: Look how it's played out in Kansas, Ohio, and Michigan. It is that motivating factor.

But you're saying, maybe we could see a situation, where Florida, they still vote for Donald Trump for president, but they also vote for this?

HOOVER: Well, and you've seen Donald Trump himself sort of equivocate, when it comes to the purity with which he is entirely against abortion.

COLLINS: He doesn't know how to talk about it.

HOOVER: He doesn't, because he frankly actually has a decent political sensibility around the issue. Except for that he understands that the base of the Republican Party is absolutely unyielding, when it comes to this issue.

COLLINS: How does he handle this? Do you think this actually puts him in more of a bind? Because he's been so squishy, talking about abortion, where maybe he likes 15 weeks for a federal abortion ban? He criticized DeSantis' six-week ban. How much does this put him in a bind, do you think?

HOOVER: I don't think Donald Trump is ever in a bind. He just says exactly what he wants. And I think he actually has a decent political sensibility, when it comes to what he understands is women's rights, desires, like how potent it is, politically, to want to be able to choose to have an abortion, if that is your choice.

COLLINS: We talk about, the fact this is going to go into effect, 30 days from now, that the six-week ban will be in effect?

When we had Ron DeSantis, for the Town Hall, when he was still running? We always talk about these exceptions that are included. But they're a lot more complicated than I think people always realize on the surface. We pressed him on that.


I just want to remind everybody what DeSantis had to say about that.


COLLINS: Do you think that those limits are reasonable, and that women agree that those limits are reasonable?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So, the Florida Legislature enacted a heartbeat bill, with those exceptions.

I signed the legislation with those exceptions in law. Rape, incest, life of the mother, victims of human trafficking, as well as the really terrible situations, where you have the fetal abnormalities.

And yes, of course, I think they're reasonable.


COLLINS: OK, one, that was in January. I'm wearing the same suit, tonight.

But two, on that issue itself. I mean, he was kind of -- he was saying that, yes, he does think they're reasonable. But it was, women had to provide documentation, to be able to get an abortion. They had to prove this. They had to have a police report showing that they were assaulted. I mean, there were a lot of, you know--

HOOVER: And there's also--

COLLINS: --caveats.

HOOVER: There's also life of the mother. Well, then who determines that? I mean, that's a subjective determination, medical determination, by a doctor, who is going to say, actually, your life is in danger, when, I mean, there are a lot of -- look, these things are not black and white.

You can have women, who are diagnosed with cancer, who can't start their chemotherapy, because they're afraid it's going to damage the fetus. Who decides whether the mother can endure that, and that in order to protect the fetus? I mean, these are really difficult, difficult calls.

And so, to suggest that there's all these outs, and it's really easy? I think you're right. I think it obscures, and it simplifies the issue in a way that hurts women.

COLLINS: Yes. And it can be a split-second decision, for a lot of women and their doctors.

Margaret Hoover, we'll see what the political consequences of this are.

But on what you just mentioned there, I do want to bring in Nancy Northup, who is the President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

We have been talking about this issue a lot. And I think it's important to note, this is one of the strictest and most far-reaching abortion bans, in the United States, once it goes into effect, 30 days from now.

What do you think the impact is going to be, for women, in Florida?

NANCY NORTHUP, PRESIDENT & CEO, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, the impact, when the six-week ban goes into effect, is going to be devastating. I mean, Florida has been a very important place, with a lot of long-term providers in that state, have really been, a place where women can go with so many states around it, banning abortion.

It's going to block out the south with just this six-week ban in effect in Florida, which is why it's so important that all Floridians know that they're getting a vote in November, about protecting their right to abortion, in the Florida constitution.

I cannot underscore how important that is with this devastating decision, by the Florida Supreme Court, today.

COLLINS: Well, and I wonder what you make -- I mean, it's these twin decisions that I think makes this all the more remarkable, because you kind of see how in the split second that that access to an abortion can change so quickly.

NORTHUP: Well, yes, I mean, the decision to overturn decades of precedent in the State of Florida, protecting the right to abortion, under their privacy clause.

I mean, this is yet another terrible impact of the Supreme Court of the U.S.'s decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, because the Florida Supreme Court said oh, well, we got it wrong, 40 years ago.

And then the fact that the Supreme Court of Florida is allowing the ballot decision, to go ahead in November? Well, of course, that was the right decision in that case. I mean, it was a ridiculous challenge, to try to keep it off the ballot.

But luckily, it is on the ballot, in November. It's going to take 60 percent of the vote in Florida. And all Floridians and people around the country, who care, should go to the website, of the ballot initiative, Floridians Protecting Freedom, to really help out with that effort.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll see what those voters decide, come November.

Nancy Northup, great to have you, and Margaret Hoover.

Ahead here, tonight, a tragic confirmation is coming in, from the founder of the World Central Kitchen, Jose Andres. Several members of his aid team killed in Gaza, reportedly by an Israeli airstrike. Details to come, after a quick break.



COLLINS: We have a really heartbreaking update, tonight, as tonight, the Chef, Jose Andres, the world-renowned chef, says that five food aid workers have been killed, in an apparent Israeli airstrike, in central Gaza.

Posting online, in part, and I'm reading from his post now, "I am heartbroken and grieving for their families and friends and our whole" World Central Kitchen family. These people are angels. "They are not faceless they are not nameless. The Israeli government needs to stop this indiscriminate killing."

The IDF says it is conducting a thorough review, at the highest levels, to understand the circumstances of this tragic incident. No more details.

But we do know that the World Central Kitchen aid workers have been critical, to helping get food delivered to Gaza, where more than 2 million people are starving. And the death toll has now risen above 32,000, according to the local authorities.

For more on this, I want to bring in Barak Ravid, Axios reporter, and also CNN's Political and Global Affairs Analyst.

And Barak, obviously, I mean, this is heartbreaking news that we are now getting confirmation, tonight. What are you hearing from sources about what happened here?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think that mostly, on the Israeli side, there's a lot of confusion, and even, I would say, embarrassment, mainly because World Central Kitchen was a, I don't know, if partner is the right word, but it was an NGO that the IDF worked very closely with.


Because part of what World Central Kitchen did, was to bring food to Gaza, through the sea, in two ships. And in both cases, this was coordinated with the IDF. And the IDF wanted to show that what by working with this organization, it is addressing the food shortages in Gaza.

And now, a few days later, the IDF allegedly hits, four aid workers, from this organization.

But I think that more broadly, this incident was really, the writing was on the wall, because for months, the Biden administration, and the U.N., and other aid agencies are saying that there is a deconfliction problem, between the IDF and the aid organizations.

And there were several incidents that are very similar to this one, where the IDF hit aid workers, in Gaza. And still, nothing has changed, in the rules of engagement of the IDF. And we see this incident now again.

COLLINS: It's devastating. I mean, the World Central Kitchen is the first on location, almost everywhere, when tragedy strikes. They were in Ukraine. They were in Haiti. They were in Gaza.

And obviously, we'll stay on this and continue to follow this.

But I also want to ask you about another development that happened today, because Iran says that an Israeli airstrike killed seven of their military officials, in Damascus and Syria, they say, including two top commanders, one of whom I should note oversaw their elite Quds Force.

How significant is this? And what have you been hearing, from Israeli officials? I mean, they don't often say, if they're behind these attacks. But what have you been hearing from sources?

RAVID: So first, what I hear from Israeli officials is that Israel is behind this strike. It was, I think, it was clear from the -- from almost the first moment.

And this is a very significant incident, and a very significant strike, not only because of how senior this guy is, this Iranian general is. It's significant because it was a strike on an Iranian diplomatic facility. This is an unprecedented thing.

And many officials think that this might be one assassination too many, for the Iranians, who until now, from October 7th, they did not get involved directly in this conflict. They sent their proxies. But they did not enter by themselves to this conflict. And now, they might have no other choice.

COLLINS: I mean, is that a real concern that this could -- this could escalate things even further?

RAVID: Definitely. So, Israeli officials say that they don't think that the Iranians, for example, will tell Hizballah, now, OK, go all- in, in a war against Israel. This is not the scenario that people are thinking about.

But again, the Iranians have a lot of capabilities, through proxies, and directly, from Iran, with their capabilities, both with ballistic missiles and drones and other weapons, that they have, to attack Israel directly. And this is something that they, again, refrained from doing. They sent their proxies. But they did not do it directly. And now, I think, nobody would be surprised if Iranians will go in directly, against Israel.

COLLINS: I mean, that is going to keep a lot of people, at the Pentagon, up tonight.

And the other thing that's happening in Israel, today, that is really notable is they passed a law, overwhelmingly, that would allow the government there, to take action, against any foreign media network that they deem a national security risk.

The Prime Minister has called Al Jazeera a terror channel. He said they would shut down their local bureau that's in Israel. I mean, as someone, who lived there, you lived in Tel Aviv for quite some time, how remarkable would that be?

RAVID: Well, first, I want to -- I still want to see what the government is actually going to do, OK? Because passing this law just give more authorities, to the Minister of Communications. It still doesn't mean that they're going to do anything about it.

A lot of people in Israel think that this is a spin Netanyahu put out today, in order to divert attention from the fact that he's -- that he went -- he underwent a -- he went through surgery. Other people think that this might be a way, to use some leverage, on the Qatari government.

But -- so I think we should still wait and see whether the government is really going to do something about it. Netanyahu spoke about doing -- taking action against Al Jazeera, I think, for something like -- for almost 15 years. And he still didn't do anything. So, I just think you should wait.

But just another point, about the previous question, and you said that the Pentagon, a lot of people in the Pentagon are going to stay up tonight. And there's already a reason.


Because what we saw in the first few hours, after the strike in Damascus, is that for the first time in weeks, a U.S. base, in Syria, was attacked by a new pro-Iranian militia that fired the drone, at that base. This drone was intercepted and nobody was hurt. But this was the first time the pro-Iranian militias attacked a U.S. base in many, many weeks.

COLLINS: Yes. Barak Ravid, that's a really great point. And we will continue to monitor all of that. Thank you, for bringing us your reporting. As always, we'll continue to monitor the developing story--

RAVID: Thank you.

COLLINS: --as also we hear more about those aid workers.

We're going to take a quick break now. When we come back, there is something to celebrate, tonight, as the Final Four finally set. My alma mater, I don't know if you heard, made it for the very first time.

And we've got Bob Costas here, on this major issue, where I'm taking sides.



COLLINS: I don't normally get to say Roll Tide, in April, but, you know, of course this far from football season. But this is a year that is unlike any other, from my alma mater at least. That's because for the first time ever, the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team has made it to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.

It is a historic run like this, and of course, it requires commentary, from a legendary sportscaster, Bob Costas, who is here, as always, to talk all things Bama.

I mean, Bob, as we were watching this game, on Saturday, it was only the second time Alabama's ever made--


COLLINS: --the Elite Eight. The last time, I was still in high school. I mean, what do you make of, of their success, the fact that they're making it to Arizona?

COSTAS: Well, it's a terrific run. And I just want to say that I forgive you, I absolve you of all blame, for tossing objectivity out the window.

I might note, my Syracuse Orange, winners of the National title in 2003, and five times to the Final Four, under Jim Boeheim, they did not make the NCAA Tournament, and they turned down an NIT bid. Just for those viewers, who are only concerned about our respective alma maters.

Now, they get, they being the Tide, they get to Phoenix and the Final Four, but they run into the number one overall seed, the defending champions, UConn. That team is very, very deep. Dan Hurley, a terrific coach, all five of their starters, averaging double figures. Tristen Newton is a Consensus All-American, leads them in points and assists. So, if they pull that upset? That's even greater than any upset they've pulled to get to where they are at this point.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, beating North Carolina, beating Clemson, and now taking on UConn, I mean, are you -- whatever I can -- I'm kind of amazed by those like just to see the progression of Alabama's team, and what Nate Oats has been able to do with them. That in and of itself has been so impressive.

COSTAS: And who would think that at least for one fleeting moment, the basketball coach is a bigger deal than the football coach at Alabama.

Meanwhile, lest we forget, only moments ago, Iowa finished off LSU, reversing the outcome from last year's final. So, Iowa, with Caitlin Clark, who scored 41 points at a great game, Angel Reese for LSU had a good game, I think it was 17 points and 20 rebounds.

But LSU is out. Iowa moves on, against the winner of Connecticut and USC. They're playing right now. Connecticut has won on the women's side 11 national titles under Geno Auriemma.

So, it's possible that UConn could have two teams, one men, one women's, in the respective Final Fours. And NC State already has two on the women's side, and one on the men's side.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, Caitlin Clark, though, tonight, and I -- everyone I know was watching this show, and not her game. But she was so amazing. 41 points, nine three-pointers--

COSTAS: Of course.

COLLINS: --which ties a record. I mean, her impact--


COLLINS: --on this sport, has been just incredible to witness.

COSTAS: She had a great, great game. And obviously, she is the number one star. But there are a constellation of stars around her.

The women's game has improved in leaps and bounds, not only in popularity, but in terms of the quality of play.

I mentioned this with Wolf Blitzer, a few hours ago. When I did Missouri's men's games, in the late 70s and early 80s, on the radio, I'd show up at the Hearnes Center, as it was then called, I don't know what it is now. But I'd show up for a game that would start at 7 o'clock, the men's

game, and the women's game would start maybe three hours before. There'd be a couple of 100 people in the stands. And the quality of play was really pretty low.

But that's just the beginning of the Title IX generation. Title IX is less than a decade in place, at that point. And so now, you're getting greater instruction, greater participation, more money put into it, at the college level, at the high school level, whatever it might be.

The women's game has improved in leaps and bounds, in just a couple of generations, not only in the quality of play, but obviously in the interest that it generates now, nationwide.

COLLINS: Yes, I mean, we've seen -- we've seen this -- the two stars here, just Angel Reese, Caitlin Clark, all these other really impressive names.

I mean, I was even looking at the ticket prices today. And I will note, there are fewer seats, in the women's Final Four. But their tickets are actually more expensive than the guys'. It's just, it's remarkable.


Bob Costas, as always, it is great to have you on.

COSTAS: Yes, it's a good thing.


COSTAS: Thank you, Kaitlan. And congratulations to the Tide.

COLLINS: Let's -- I don't know, you just kind of had a little bit of a -- we'll see what the prediction looks like, for Saturday, for Phoenix. Hopefully, things will go well for us.

COSTAS: I was -- I was being since -- I was -- I was being sincere. By the way, South Carolina, should know if I looked them, 36-and-0, under Dawn Staley--


COSTAS: --going for their third national title, with her as the coach. They go.

COLLINS: Bob Costas, as always, thanks for joining us. We'll continue to watch that.

And thank you all for joining me, tonight.