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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Seven Men, Five Women Chosen To Decide Trump's Fate; Kerry Kennedy Dismisses Brother, "It's Either Trump Or Biden" In 2024; Iranian News Agency: Explosion Heard In Iran. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 18, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Late update, before we go, on our top story.

The former President's hush money criminal trial, just moments ago, prosecutors filed their argument, accusing him of violating his gag order, seven more times, in postings online. They're asking the judge to hold him in contempt, and fine him a $1,000 for each alleged violation.

The latest filing comes in the wake of another one, earlier this week, accusing Trump of three other violations of that limited gag order.

The news continues. "THE SOURCE" starts now. I'll see you, tomorrow.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Straight from THE SOURCE tonight.

Please be seated. The 12 New Yorkers will decide the fate of a former President of the United States, now criminal defendant. A roller coaster day in court ends with a jury of his peers now picked, in the case of the People of the State of New York versus Donald J. Trump. What we've learned tonight with opening statements as soon as Monday.

Also, why prosecutors are refusing to tell the defense, who their first witnesses are. The judge appearing to agree that the former President simply can't be trusted for certain, to contain himself.

And the Kennedys versus a Kennedy. Six of RFK Jr.'s own siblings very publicly snubbed their brother, and endorsed Joe Biden for reelection. My source tonight is RFK Jr.'s sister, Kerry Kennedy. Is it a family feud, or just plain politics?

I'm John King in for Kaitlan Collins. This is THE SOURCE.

A rough start, but then rapid progress, on day three. Rough because two jurors previously seated in Donald Trump's historic hush money trial, were stunningly dismissed.

A New York criminal court quickly though made up for lost time, not only filling those two lost seats, but also picking five more jurors, to round out the full panel of 12, seven men and five women, one alternate juror also selected, before the court wrapped for the day. The search goes on for more jurors, tomorrow.

We don't know all the specifics, about why those two jurors were excused.

One though did raise concerns that part of her identity was being shared publicly.

Prosecutors raised concern about the other juror, though the judge did not make public, the ultimate reason for letting him go.

What we do know is that Trump made it through the whole process today without getting scolded by the judge, like he did on Tuesday, for muttering aloud and potentially intimidating some of those jurors. He was said to be engrossed with the process, today, craning his neck at times, to get a good view of those seated in the jury box, as they gave their answers.

When he left the courtroom, an attempt to sway a different jury. Voters.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've been here all day on a trial that really is a very unfair trial.

These are all stories, this is over the last few days, from legal experts. This is Wall Street Journal editorial. But all of these are stories from legal experts, saying how this is not a case.

Bragg Crosses the Rubicon, Indicting Trump On Nonsense.

The Whopping Outrage In Trump's Indictment.

The whole world is watching this hoax.


KING: He brought props today, an armful of papers, articles, he claims, back up his arguments that the case is weak or worse. That actually went on and on and on for a couple of minutes.

He complained, yes, he complained about the temperature in the courtroom, and also about the trial taking him off the campaign trail. But according to him, all his legal troubles are actually helping his campaign. Time, of course will tell us about that.

First, Donald J. Trump has to get through the trial.

A load to take apart on day three. We also just heard, for the first time, from one of those two jurors dismissed today, after being sworn in. We'll tell you why prosecutors won't be sharing their list of first witnesses, with the Trump team, with the blessing so far, at least of the judge.

But first, let's get right to some of our best legal sources. Our CNN Anchor, Chief Legal Analyst, Laura Coates.

CNN Legal Analyst, and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Attorney, Renato Stabile.

And veteran New York trial attorney, Arthur Aidala.

Laura, let's begin with you. First big picture, then we'll get into some of the specifics. What stands out to you about the jury? We now have the 12, seven men, and five women, plus the one alternate more to come. But what stands out to you about this jury?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The breadth of what their experiences are. Some don't have social media. Others have been well-versed in reading "The Art of the Deal," and also find him, in some way, intriguing. But others are from different states, not native New Yorkers. Others are from different countries.

You've got really the gamut of the cultural melting pot that is New York, which really makes you wonder who is going to be either the wildcard or the blank slate you can actually persuade. That's going to be where the jurors are going to have the most impact, for these particular attorneys.

KING: Right. Why?

RENATO STABILE, ATTORNEY: Well, because this is -- what's interesting to me is that this is a very sophisticated jury. You have two lawyers. You have people in finance.

Obviously, both sides wanted people that had some education, some sophistication, because there are complicated financial issues here. There are complicated legal issues here. So, it's going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

KING: Well, let's walk through some of it.

New juror two, an investment banker. He says he did read "The Art of the Deal."

New juror four, a security engineer, who's married, three kids.


Juror eight, retired wealth manager, who is married with two kids.

Juror nine, a speech therapist with a master's degree. She's not married. Lives alone.

Juror 10 works in e-commerce, says he doesn't really follow the news.

Juror 11, who we'll talk more about in a minute, works for an apparel company. She's unmarried, doesn't have kids.

The final juror seated, physical therapist. She has a doctorate degree, says she reads The New York Times, USA Today, and CNN.

If you're the defense team, from what I just went through, and what they're hearing, as they're asked these questions in court, where's your mind, tonight?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So big picture, what I do not like, are the attorneys on the jury. Period. Generally speaking, we excuse attorneys, right away. It used to be the law.

COATES: Well that's just rude, Joey.

JACKSON: It is. Isn't it?

COATES: He's not going to hold lawyers here.

JACKSON: We excuse lawyers right away. And it used to be the law, in fact that lawyers couldn't serve. And the reason I don't like that is because part of, I think, the argument here is what we call, as lawyers, jury nullification.

What does that mean in English? This is a system that's run amok. We shouldn't be here. What are we doing? This is the weaponization of the prosecution. I don't think that that falls really well, on attorneys.

I think us lawyers, right, I think we are trained to evaluate facts, to look at issues. And I just don't like, right? We have varying opinions about that. But I'm concerned about that about that.

KING: Right. Come in, Arthur. But I want to ask you first, to get more specific about I said, we'd come back to one of the jurors. This is the questioning of juror 11.

Both teams were done with their strikes. You get a chance. The defense can stand up and say, got to go. You get 10 opportunities, saying, don't have to explain your reason, that person has to go. You get 10 of those. They were done with those.

Here's what the questioning of juror 11.

Juror, "I don't like his persona." She's talking about Donald Trump. I don't like some -- "I don't like some of my coworkers, but I don't try to sabotage their work... He just seems very selfish and self- serving."

The Trump lawyer asks, "Sounds like you're saying you don't like him?"

The juror said, "Yes."

That person is now on the jury. The judge said he was convinced, despite what her opinion is she can be fair and impartial. You're shaking your head.

ARTHUR AIDALA, VETERAN NEW YORK TRIAL ATTORNEY: That's where a judge plays such a pivotal role. Because you're correct about the peremptory challenges, but there's

also for-cause challenges. If that's not a reason to say Judge, you can't put this person on the jury. She's basically telling you, she doesn't like this guy.

If you were -- if that happened in any other case, in any other case, any other judge would say, yes, OK. She knows Mr. Jackson, because he was the coach of the kid's baseball team, and he didn't put her son in, and so she doesn't like him. He'll be off the jury.

That's -- that annoys me. That bothers me. And that's not cool. And I can see the jury consultant nod his head.

STABILE: 100 percent. 100 percent.

KING: But--

STABILE: 100 percent right.

KING: But it's not any other case. You're not going to find 12 people, who don't know about Donald Trump. You're not going find 12 people who don't--

AIDALA: No. But you can find people who don't say they don't like him, who'll say I really don't have an opinion. These people who don't know social media, these people who don't follow the news. You have a woman here, who says I don't like the guy?

COATES: Yes. But you know what?

STABILE: And he had plenty more people left.

COATES: Well yes.

KING: Well they're not my cup of teas.


COATES: But you heard -- but you've--

AIDALA: OK. Not my cup of tea.

COATES: You've heard the judge.

KING: Right.

COATES: And cases. You know that judges will try to rehabilitate, in a sense, the jury.

JACKSON: Always.

COATES: Because they know they've got a finite number of people, who are going to perform their specific duty.

AIDALA: Well here they don't.

COATES: Well they--

AIDALA: They got hundreds of people to choose from.

COATES: Well you're -- you're correct.

By the same token, if the judge says all right, knowing that, can you put that aside? Now, I agree, if I were defense counsel, that would not make me comfortable.

But the judge is essentially knowing what we -- the dirty little secret, in jury selection, a lot of it is self-disclosure, and the honor system, right, of yes, know what, Your Honor, I could put all of that aside. Now, it's up to your gut-check and intuition to do so.


COATES: Back to your point, though. One reason you don't want to have lawyers on the panel as well is because the prosecution and defense, they want to be the ones that you're relying on. Most jurors are going to look to the lawyers, on the panel--

JACKSON: Particularly these.

COATES: --and turn and go, wait a second. Is that right? What do you think about that?


COATES: Right?

KING: So, what's the conversation with the defense team, if you're advising them, and they have a juror that they're nervous about? You know that--

STABILE: Well if it--

KING: That juror is going to be there, when we start on Monday or Tuesday. That juror is going to be there, when you have opening arguments, when you start bringing up your witnesses.

What are you looking for? And how do you think, OK, we know, we know, the person at least started with an unfavorable opinion of our client. How do we fix it?

STABILE: Well, they're going to be focused on juror number 11. Are you going to be watching the person's social media? Is that person going to maybe violate the judge's orders, which jurors do even in not so high-profile cases? Is there something that they didn't disclose that you can come back to the court and say, you know what, Judge? She should have been honest with that about this. This person wasn't. They have to go.

JACKSON: But John, one quick point, and we should point it out, is that she also gave the indication that there are coworkers that I don't like either, but I don't take things out on them.

So, we talk about rehabilitation. She indicated that she still could be fair, notwithstanding her not liking.

Look, challenge for cause, potentially could have been granted. But I think the rehabilitation keeps her on the jury. I think the judge made a judgment call, which is well within his discretion.

KING: Right.

COATES: By the way, the likability if that's what this case is coming down to, you don't have likable witnesses as well. I mean, this is not a case, where you've got Mother Teresa, and Mother Teresa's clone, and then her other clone.

KING: Right, yes.

COATES: You have the prosecution already fronting in this case. Hey, there are going to be people here that might have a past, or a personality that you do not like. Can you see beyond that if we prove our burden? And that could be the case.


KING: Well, we began the day. It looked like we're going in the wrong direction, right? They made progress later.

But at the beginning, two jurors who had previously been seated were dismissed. One was a woman, who came in, essentially told the judge people pushed to her social media, family and friends that her identity had been exposed, or at least nearly exposed, by media coverage and the like.

What do you make of this, when something like that happens? And the judge said, we've lost a good juror here.

COATES: Yes, it's been made a problem. And the press was pointed out as being a source of that issue.

I know, of course, CNN has gone to great lengths, to ensure that we are able to both preserve the opportunity for the public to understand a case and know about it, and balance against the anonymity reasons.

But there's also a thing called prior restraint. So, I know the judge wants to be able to say, you've got to be very cautious about what you disclose, because I have a jury and a trial. We also have a thing that you can't necessarily tell the press, you cannot publish something in advance. It's public knowledge information.

But it's always going to be this balancing test between what you can say, in the public square, and also preserving the right to a fair trial. And that includes a jury, who doesn't feel intimidated.

KING: The second juror, who was sent home, was sent home by the judge, after prosecutors raised concerns that he was not honest, did not disclose during the questioning process that 30 something -- think it was 33 -- 30-plus years ago, had had a conviction for tearing down political signs. And he gave an interview, that juror gave an interview, with USA Today, tonight, saying he was surprised he was dismissed. He called Merchan, a cowardly judge, for allowing the prosecution to bring up an arrest from decade ago. He said, quote, "I thought it was" just "an excuse," for prosecutors to get him off the jury. He called Merchan, a coward.

As the prosecutor--


KING: --would you have done that? Would you have stood up and said wait. Number one, he didn't tell the truth. Number two, it's taking down political signs.


KING: Most of them were Republican, apparently.

STABILE: Well yes but--

KING: 30 years ago. What's?

STABILE: That's the issue. The issue is the dishonesty, not being candid. I mean, that's not something you forget to disclose.

So, and believe me, this is not over. Both sides, and particularly the defense, are going to continue to look into these jurors' backgrounds, to see if there's anything else that they forgot to disclose.

And don't overlook the alternates. We're going into the alternates, tomorrow. I predict not all of these jurors are going to make it through a several-week trial. The alternates are going to be absolutely critical here.

KING: So, case hasn't started yet. But from the -- from day one, and even pre-trial stuff, you're making notes, if you're the defense team. In case Donald Trump is convicted, what might we appeal?

AIDALA: First thing?

KING: What have you seen here?

AIDALA: You know, I already got them rattled off. The first thing--


AIDALA: The first thing has to do with the Sandoval issue. So they, one, they--

KING: Yes.

AIDALA: --they were too late in bringing up these are the things we want to talk to Donald Trump about if he testifies. You got to do that before the lawyers start questioning the jurors, so they have the opportunity to question the juries about that. Number one. Number two, that should have been filed under seal, so it doesn't taint the whole jury pool. In the Harvey Weinstein case, we did it four months ahead of time, under seal, with a sealed courtroom, when we had the hearing.

So, those are the first two things.

The third thing I'm doing is Your Honors of the Appellate Division, you had a juror, who they -- we asked for cause. She said she doesn't like this guy. She doesn't like this guy. And they still sat him, when there was 500 people outside. I want to -- I want a reversal on that as well.

And I'm giving up on juror 11. I'm just saying OK, Mr. Trump, we're not getting an acquittal here. We're getting a hung jury at best. And so let's focus on the three or four people, who are going to say, no, no, no, we're not convicting this guy.

And go to Joey's point, and go with the jury nullification, tell the jury, is there justice, and you decide that this case is BS. Michael Cohen is BS, and Stormy Daniels is BS, and come back and say not guilty.

KING: So, we're in what I'll call the final stretch before the opening act, if you will. You have to finish out the jury. You got 12 jurors seated, one alternate selected. We still need five alternates. Opening arguments could come, could come as early as Monday.

So, if you're the jurors, I mean, if you're the attorneys, you're double-busy tonight, because you still have to focus on this important part. One or two of those alternates could end up in the room, at the end of the day.

But you're also thinking, whoa, we got to be ready for Monday. What next?

COATES: Well getting ready includes knowing thy audience, and the audience and how you're going to craft your opening statements, and opening arguments, and how you might want to tailor the presentation of evidence, according to who's there.

There's a reason you want to have as much information as possible about who is in front of you, because there might be moments, little Easter eggs of sort, where you're going to try to appeal to a particular juror, without coming out right, and looking you in the eye and saying, you, I'm talking to you and you, and I say this point. That's going to be part of it.

But also, this is not a cakewalk sort of case. They have got to meet their burden. So, the prosecution can't go in there and think to themselves, hey, a lot of people know this. They might know the players here. My work is really done.

Now, the work begins. And, in many ways, because people are familiar with at least the players in this, that could work against you, because as much as they formed an opinion about Trump, they likely have one about Stormy Daniels, they likely have one about Michael Cohen. In fact, one says--

JACKSON: More than likely.

KING: Yes.

COATES: --he follows him on Twitter. And he's on the case -- oh sorry, X.



COATES: Sorry.

KING: So, this is first, a legal question, but it's also a political question. And it's a question about how Judge Merchan is proceeding quick--


KING: --pretty quickly, right? We got through jury selection. They tell what the hiccup's today. Says we want to start as early as Monday, says you won't give them Tuesday off. The Trump team wanted that. Passover is Monday night into Tuesday -- into Tuesday. He said no. He said we're going to proceed.


So from a -- is that his style, from a legal standpoint, number one? And number two, does this factor into at all that Donald Trump doesn't want to be here. But now he is. And now that he is in a New York courtroom, their approach is let this go on as long as we possibly can, because once it's done, there were other trials.

And so, he's trying, you know, he's trying to delay everything. This one, he couldn't delay. Now that it started, do you want to stretch it?

JACKSON: Yes. I mean, look, here's the reality. The reality is, is that, in my view, the judge is doing what he should do.

I think this judge, and indicating from the outset, John, that if you self-identify as not being fair, I'm just going to remove you. And I think that's sort of the retort, to Arthur's very good point, about whether someone should have been removed for cause.

I think it's going in the manner that it should. I think we have a jury. It's not surprising that it took this. You only have 10 peremptory strikes with respect to discretionarily removing people.

And I think that you can potentially have a jury that's fair, that's honorable, and that could make a decision based on the law and the fact that they'll be instructed to make.

KING: Great conversation, tonight, many more days of it to come.

Laura Coates, Joey Jackson, Renato, and Arthur, thank you all for being here. We'll, again, we'll continue this conversation.

Including next, up ahead for us, prosecutors now refusing to give the defense their initial witness list. And they say there's a big reason for that. Trump. And the judge says he can't fault them.

Plus, imagine running for president, and seeing your brothers and sisters stumping for another candidate. A show of force, from the Kennedys today, for Biden, not RFK Jr.

Kerry Kennedy is here, with more on that very public family snub.



KING: We are heading for opening statements, in Donald Trump's criminal trial, as soon as Monday. And because of that, something very interesting happened, right near the end of court today.

The defense asked prosecutors, to share their list of the first witnesses. And the District Attorney's office refused, which is their right. And they cited as their reason, the defendant, Trump, and his previous attacks on the witnesses. He's gone after, among others, Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.

Trump's team tried to assure the judge that the former President would keep quiet, about the witnesses. But the judge wasn't buying it, telling Trump's lawyer, quote, "I don't think you can make that representation."

Joining me now, Judge Shira Scheindlin, who served as a federal judge, for 22 years, on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Judge, grateful for your time.

Common courtesy says you do that in most cases. How unusual is it for the prosecution to say sorry, no?


It is courteous to let you know who the witnesses are going to be. The lawyers have a right to prepare for cross-examination. They have a right to know who's coming up on Monday. They want to work all weekend, and be ready for that.

So, it's highly unusual for the prosecution to say no.

KING: So, would you have encouraged them? A, can the judge say do it anyway? Or is it up to the prosecution, but the judge can simply try to persuade them otherwise?

SCHEINDLIN: No. A judge--

KING: And what would you have done? SCHEINDLIN: OK. The judge would have had the power, if he want to, to say, no, I think you need to give them the witness list for Monday, and I'm telling you to do it.

I probably would have given that witness list, because so many statements have already been made, about so many of these witnesses, that it's hard to believe that anything new is going to come out over the weekend.

Obviously, Trump is on notice that he has or will violate the gag order, depending what he says about witnesses. And I think -- I think that's getting through to him, at this point.

And his lawyer said, look, I'll represent that he won't say anything about these people. And I thought the judge should give the lawyer, a chance, and say, OK, I'll trust you this time. But if anything comes out, that's the last time I trust you. So, you're on notice, too. And I think that would have been the better way to handle it.

KING: OK. And let's move on to a separate issue. But it also involves the same parties, and the question of the how much elasticity, is the word I'll use, the judge has left.

Prosecutors say, Trump has violated his gag order seven more times, just since Monday, including one post in which he writes, liberal activists are lying to get on the jury. He's quoting a Fox News host there.

It's not a repost. It's Trump's own hands, typing something he heard on television. Is that not crossing the line, violating the gag order?

SCHEINDLIN: You see, I'm not sure I think so, because the point of the gag order is to prevent any threats or intimidation of jurors, of the prosecutor, of the court staff.

This doesn't talk about any particular witness or juror or court staff or family member. It's his overall statement of what he thinks people do. They want to get on the jury to get Trump. That's his view.

So, I think you have to be careful with a gag order. You don't want to broaden it, beyond the parameters that are set in the gag order itself. I think you have to interpret it narrowly, because it does stop speech.

So, I think gag orders are fine. But they should be interpreted as narrowly as possible. And the purpose of this gag order has repeatedly been said, you can't threaten or intimidate or put in harm's way, a juror, a juror's family, a court staff, prosecutors, et cetera, or judge's family.

KING: Is there anything you can do though? Prosecutors have previously said Trump should be fined a $1,000, each time he violates the order. That hasn't stopped Trump. You say some of this might be up against the line, but not a violation, but close to it.

As a judge, what would you try to say to contain him, if that's possible? Others have tried.

SCHEINDLIN: I'm not sure it's -- I'm not sure it's possible to contain Donald Trump.


But what I would say is, I'm going to admonish you this time. I'm not going to find you this time. But I'm telling you, you are walking right up to that line. And the second you cross it, given that I just warn you, I am going to fine you, and it's going to be heavy fines. And after a number of fines, you know what comes next. I have the power. If I want to exercise it, to put you in prison for contempt, I can do that. And I'm not playing around with you.

So, that's how I think I would handle it. I'd give him a stern admonition, tell him what's coming, if he crosses that line.

KING: Judge Shira Scheindlin, grateful for your time. Thank you.

SCHEINDLIN: Thank you.

KING: Up next for us, some brand-new reporting, on some frustrations for the Trump team today, after one juror in particular was dismissed.


KING: Learning more about what Donald Trump was like inside the court, today, as his trial jury was rounding out, craning his neck at times, we were told, to get a good look at the jurors, appearing keenly attentive to those seated in the jury box.


Also, apparently particularly chilly, inside the courtroom today. Trump joked about it with reporters, who were leaving for lunch, and complained about it, at the end of the day outside.


TRUMP: I'm sitting here, for days now, from morning till night, in that freezing room. Freezing. Everybody was freezing in there.


KING: Our source tonight, on all things Trump, CNN Correspondent, Kristen Holmes.

Temperature OK in here?


KING: OK. Good.

HOLMES: Much warmer here.

KING: Much warmer here. Look, he was clearly frustrated outside the court, complaining about

the temperature, complaining about the case, holding up those documents. That's the theater he does, which is part of his politics.

How are they feeling, your sources inside Trump World, about where we are?

HOLMES: Well, I think, right now, the number one sentiment is this is really happening. All of these attempts to delay? They have been overturned. All of this effort to disqualify jurors, to say that it was impossible, to get a fair jury? There has now been a jury set. This is moving forward.

One thing I think that you should expect, from Trump world, not necessarily the former President himself, because of the gag order, but you should expect to hear Trump allies, continuing to rip apart this jury, to say that they are left-leaning that it is going to be impossible.

Remember, they have all the same access to what we have, inside of the courtroom, any kind of documents. Sure, it's not their identity. But they have, what kind of news they consume, any kind of thing that they said about their views about Donald Trump. Anyone who has gotten a pool report can see that.

KING: Right.

HOLMES: And remember, the only discretion that we got from the judge was use commonsense, at certain points.

So, people's versions of commonsense are very different when it comes to what you do in terms of the media.

KING: Right.

HOLMES: So, you should expect these right-wing army of social media followers to be pushing this forward.

KING: And so, to that point, excellent art of the segue. We talked about juror number 11, with the attorneys earlier. She admitted doesn't like Trump's "Persona," said he seems very selfish, very self- serving.

Knowing Trump as well as you do, how hard is it, for him to sit there, and listen to that from a juror? And he's from Florida now. He moved to Florida. But from a fellow New Yorker?

HOLMES: Well, just remember that Donald Trump has not been in a room with someone, who's going to say no to him or insult him, for decades now.

He purposely surrounds himself by people -- with people, who are even the people who now say that when he was in the administration that they tried to stop him from doing things. Many of those are profiles in courage, because during the time they weren't actually trying to stop him. It was later. He surrounds himself with people who say yes to him, who compliment him constantly, as we know, I've heard some of his aides and advisers talk about how good he looks, how great his suit is, what a good job he's doing, in between various speeches or talking to reporters. That is what he likes the most.

So, hearing a group of people talk bad about him? And remember, it wasn't just her. I mean, it was over and over again, different people say they didn't like his policies, they didn't want him to be in office again. This is something that's going to grate at him.

And we're just getting started. These are strangers now.

KING: Yes.

HOLMES: He's going to also have to sit through the testimony, of various witnesses, who really hate him, like Michael Cohen--

KING: Yes.

HOLMES: --like Stormy Daniels. This is just getting started.

KING: You know the history. He doesn't always listen to advice.

But what advice are you hearing his attorney and his political people are telling him, about how he looks at the jury, making sure he doesn't scowl or seem intimidating? Or does he want to do that? And what he does in social media?

HOLMES: Well, in terms of social media, they have advised him on the gag order. Now, I think it's interesting, when we just heard what the judge said, what like you had as a guest, talking about walking up to that line, saying you're almost going to cross it, you have to stop.

We have been told by advisers that his lawyers have coached him, on just how to go up to the line, without crossing it over. And in fact, some of his social media posts that are questionable have been looked at by his attorneys.

KING: Right.

HOLMES: Because he doesn't want to pay the money, right? Even if it's $3,000, from Donald Trump, he doesn't want to pay a cent. So, the idea is that he doesn't want to breach this gag order. So, that's what they're being told on social media, in particular.

KING: Kristen brought her lawyers with us. So, let's bring them back into the conversation.

Arthur Aidala, Renato Stabile, and Joey Jackson.

Joey, if you're at the Trump defense table, are you meeting with him at the hotel or Trump Tower tonight, to talk about tomorrow? What are you telling him? Again, not that he'll listen. But what are you telling him, about how his -- what his appearance should be? How he should comport himself? Whether he should look at the jurors at all? And if he does, how?

JACKSON: So, I don't think it matters, John, because I think he keeps his own counsel.

And I think that Trump is used to telling other people what to do, not being told what to do. And ultimately, he's going to do what he wants to do.

Remember that there's two sides to this. One is the in court, and what the facts and evidence will ultimately show, now that we have a jury. But the other is the other audience.

KING: Right.

JACKSON: And that's the audience, who will be voting public.

And so, I wonder how the judge is going to deal with on Tuesday, when they have the hearing, the gag order issue. Will the judge issue with admonishment? Will the judge put him in jail? Will the judge issue fines?

And so yes, final point, you should have some decorum in court.

KING: Right.

JACKSON: You should respect the process, the protocols, the issues. But I think he has imperatives not to. And if he does get held in contempt, and put in jail, does it delay the trial? Does he want to do that? So, he'll do what Trump does.


KING: Yes. Most people don't think he's going to testify. But let me combine the legal and the political. Guy got 77 million votes. I'm assuming he thinks there's some way to win over those people, win over at least the one he needs.

STABILE: Oh, for sure. And look, he said he's going to testify. I think there's a very good chance he is going to testify.

AIDALA: I don't.

KING: You think he will testify?

STABILE: I think he will. I think because he might think he's going down here.

AIDALA: I'll bet five bucks.

KING: No--

STABILE: You know, look.

KING: No wagering in the room.

STABILE: Look, his lawyers are going to advise him not to testify. KING: Yes.

STABILE: They're going to try and keep him off the stand.

KING: Right.

STABILE: But he is the former President of the United States. If he wants to get on that witness stand, he's going to do that.

AIDALA: Two things. Number one, what I'm going to tell him is, if I'm with him tonight, we did the best we can. This is what we got. But tomorrow is really important.

We just saw what happened. We lost two jurors the other day, right, or within 48 hours. There's a high likelihood that something will happen with one of these other jurors. So alternate number one, and alternate number two, and maybe even alternate number three are very important.

KING: Right.

AIDALA: I want you to pay attention. I want you to be involved. I want you to tell me who to pick and who not to pick. And look, just be cool. You know the song from West Side Story, be cool, boy? Just be cool. Just try to relax, and just let us do our job.

KING: So, let's talk about that. Because at first reflex, I'm the non- lawyer at the table. These 12 are the jurors. They're the ones who are going to go in the room.

How important are the alternates? What is your strategy for them? Because you're right, somebody could make a mistake, and read about the case. Somebody could--

AIDALA: They're often -- they're often--

KING: Somebody could deliberately post on social media.

AIDALA: Look, the longer the--

KING: Somebody could cross the line.

AIDALA: The longer the trial is--

STABILE: They could.

KING: Right.

AIDALA: --statistically speaking, the higher likelihood that something happens to one of them.


AIDALA: Like, a kid gets sick or something or whatever.

KING: And so, you're making the same--

AIDALA: That's an excuse.

KING: Are you making the same arguments for all 17?


KING: If you take the 12 plus the five. Or is there a strategy to somehow target people differently?

AIDALA: Oh, it's like one big blanket. They're all the same person--

STABILE: Exactly. They're--

AIDALA: --until the judge sends them in the jury room.

STABILE: High likelihood that some of those alternates are making it on. They're going to take the alternate selection, as seriously as the selection for the regular jury.

JACKSON: Yes, John, you have to envision the fact that there's going to be a family emergency, there's going to be witness intimidation, there's going to be someone who gets ill. And so, you have to look at the collective pool. And as an alternate, that's a juror. And so, to that extent, they're actually are a juror.

We saw what happened.

KING: Right.

JACKSON: There were seven jurors at the start of the day. Then there were five, right? Now, there's 12 plus an alternate. And so, I think that the entirety of the jury pool, to Arthur's point, you speak to all.

KING: Kristen, Joey Jackson, Renato Stabile, Arthur Aidala, thanks for coming in, really appreciate it.

And in an election year, this wouldn't surprise most of you.


KERRY KENNEDY, SISTER OF RFK JR., ENDORSED BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT: The Kennedy family endorses Joe Biden for president.



KING: But remember this. All of those next to President Biden on that stage today, flesh and blood to one of Biden's rivals, in this race, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. His own brothers and sisters don't want him to win.

We go straight to THE SOURCE. Kerry Kennedy is here, next.



KING: Today, a dozen members, of the Kennedy family, formally threw their support behind President Joe Biden's reelection.

The public show of support for Biden was also a public rebuke of one of their own, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. His own family calling his independent bid for President, dangerous.

Joining me now to discuss is Kerry Kennedy, the sister of RFK Jr., and a human rights activist who introduced President Biden at today's event.

Kerry Kennedy, grateful for your time.

Describing your brother's candidacy as dangerous, is that because you view it as dangerous, because it could cost Joe Biden the election? Or do you think your brother would be a dangerous president? Does he not have the temperament or the experience?

K. KENNEDY: No, I think, you know, this is an extraordinary election. We are on the precipice, here in the United States. There's only two candidates, who have any prayer of getting the 270 electoral votes that they need to become president. One is Trump. The other is Biden.

Trump has said that he wants to rewrite the Constitution, so that he can go after his enemies, including members of the press. He said that he will be a dictator on day one. He's proudly said that he packed the Supreme Court, in order to overturn Roe v. Wade, and take away women's rights over their health care. The list goes on and on and on.

President Biden, on the other hand, came in at a time, with a disastrous economy, has built that up, has overseen 15 -- 14 million new jobs, 800,000 new manufacturing jobs, has always been on the side of women, wrote the Violence Against Women Act, is -- and marched with the United Auto Workers, and has spent his entire life working on behalf of working men and women in this country.

Not the enormous corporations and the wealthiest Americans who Trump has said he's going to give a tax cut to.

So, I think the choice is clear. It's either Trump or Biden. And a vote that's not for Biden is, let's be clear, a vote for Trump. Don't do it. Vote for Trump -- excuse me. Vote for Biden.

KING: You are among the Kennedy family members, who views Donald Trump as a threat to democracy.

Your brother was on this network, not long ago. Erin Burnett put the question to him. Listen.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IN THE 2024 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: I think that is a threat to democracy, if he -- him overthrowing -- trying to overthrow the election clearly is threat to democracy. [21:45:00]

But the question was who is a worse threat to democracy? And what I would say is I'm, you know, I'm not going to answer that question. But I can argue that President Biden is.


KING: He says he can argue President Biden is just a great or even a greater threat to democracy than Donald Trump.

You would say?

K. KENNEDY: Well, I think that anybody is paying attention would not say that, which is why that's not what was said.

What we really look -- need to look at here is what -- who are these two men and what have they done?

President Trump spent a month trying to overturn a free election, and then fomented an insurrection at the Capitol. That's very, very clear. There's no question about it. So, he has said he wants to be a dictator on day one. He has cozied up to Putin, to the dictators in North Korea, in China, in Turkey, and beyond. This is not somebody, who is a huge fan of democracy.

So, I think we need democracy. I think we need decency. I think we need all of the values that the Kennedy family has always stood for, human rights, and that are personified by Robert -- Senator Robert Kennedy, my father, my uncle, President John Kennedy, of course, my uncle Ted. And that's President Biden today.

KING: Just today, your brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. qualified for the ballot in Michigan, which, you know, is one of the five or six battleground states that will decide who the next president is.

If you look at the polling right there, Trump at 40 percent, Joe Biden at 34 percent. Your brother, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., at 18 percent. That's Ross-Perot-like numbers there in April. You say that's dangerous, because Donald Trump would win the state.

I know this is difficult. But when I asked you about your brother, you keep referring to Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Do you think your brother would be a good president?

K. KENNEDY: I don't think that it's even a question we need to deal with today, because there's only two people, who are capable of getting 270 Electoral College votes. So let's talk about reality. Let's not talk about who might or might not be a good president.

The question today is who do you vote for? When you go to the polls, are you going to vote for a country based on -- on -- you know, when Martin Luther King died, and my father was speaking in Indianapolis to a crowd that John Lewis had organized for him? He said, what we need in the United States is not division. What we need in the United States is not anger and rage and lawlessness. What we need in the United States is justice, and compassion and peace, and especially towards those who suffer the most in our country, whether they be White or they be Black.

That's what we're looking for here. Who is going to give that to you? Is that going to be Donald Trump? Or is that going to be Joe Biden? To me, it's clear.

KING: Kerry Kennedy, thank you for your time.

K. KENNEDY: Thank you.

KING: This news just into us, a flight tracking website now showing that multiple flights have been diverted over Iranian airspace. Situation we're closely monitoring, amid all the chaos in the Middle East. We'll bring you any late developments as soon as we get them.



KING: Following with some important breaking news tonight.

Closely monitoring now, a report from a flight tracking website that is now showing multiple, multiple flights diverted over Iranian airspace. Obviously, that region already on edge, after Israel was just attacked by Iran, with more than 300 projectiles, back on Saturday.

Just a couple of hours ago, right here on CNN, Erin Burnett spoke with Iran's Foreign Minister, about what would happen if Israel attacked any Iranian sites. Here's some of that interview.


HOSSEIN AMIR-ABDOLLAHIAN, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF IRAN (through translator): We have announced to the White House, sent a message to the White House, and Washington, D.C., the administration, in which we reiterated that if the Israeli regime commits the grave error, once again, our response will be decisive, definitive, and regretful for them.


KING: Again, what we know at this moment is the flight tracking website reporting several flights diverted over Iranian airspace. We'll continue to monitor that, bring you more developments as soon as we get them, here at CNN.

In the meantime, a big political development today, in Washington. The rule that puts the House Speaker's job in constant jeopardy will not be changed, at least not now. The Speaker, Mike Johnson, today said he will not try to make it harder to take his gavel away.


Sources say many Republicans wanted the Speaker to endorse a new rule. But the hardliners reacted with fury. So, Johnson said any rule change requires a majority of the full House, which we do not have. That means Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene's threat, to try to take Johnson out, lives to see another day.

Let's discuss. I want to bring in the former Democratic senator, Doug Jones of Alabama.

And Lanhee Chen, former public policy director for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

Gentlemen, great to see you.

Senator, I want to start with you. You know, the Senate has quirky rules, the House has quirky rules. The Republicans have a majority you can count, on one hand, with a finger to spare.

This is good theater. If you're a political reporter, it's kind of interesting and fun. But there are actual policy and national security consequences to all of this, right?

DOUG JONES, FORMER U.S. SENATOR (D-AL): There's no question about it. And the fact that one person can hold the entire House of Representatives and the Speaker's gavel hostage, is just untenable.

I mean, this goes back, you know, Kevin McCarthy really cut a deal with the devil, in the sense of, of agreeing to that rule. It cost him his job. And now, Mike Johnson is in a tough place. He couldn't really change the rule, because of the hardliners in his party.

But at the same time, it makes sense to change the rule. Nobody wants to see one person be able to hold something over the Speaker's head, like we've seen happening here. It's just not sustainable.

KING: And so, Lanhee, our Capitol Hill reporters say Speaker Johnson, at one point today, was essentially pinned against the back of the chamber, surrounded by members--


KING: --peppering him with questions, or asking him to do things.

Here's some of what he was told. This is Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz. Listen.


REP. LAUREN BOEBERT (R-CO): Changing the threshold for the motion to vacate, that's been my red line.

That was my red line then. It's my red line now.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): My hope--


GAETZ: --was that the motion to vacate would be an elixir that only required one dose.


GAETZ: For effectiveness. But sometimes, there are some therapies that require more than one dose.


KING: Sorry, gentlemen. I need to stop this conversation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN Breaking News.


KING: Need to stop that conversation, to bring some new developments on our breaking news, tonight.

Iranian news is now reporting an explosion was heard, northwest in the city named, Isfahan. The cause of this explosion is still unknown.

Let's bring in CNN International Diplomatic Editor, Nic Robertson. He's in Jerusalem, tonight.

Nic, what do we know about this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, John, we've been tracking a number of reports that have been coming out of a number of locations, in Iran, over the past several hours.

And this is the first time now that the Iranian news agency, FARS, is confirming that explosions have been heard around Isfahan, several 100 miles away from Tehran. But this city is a city that has multiple military bases around it, and also has one of Iran's principal nuclear research facilities.

Now, we don't know the details of precisely where these explosions are being reported. But we are seeing other details indicative, tonight, of what may be developing in the skies above Iran.

We know that looking at flight radar, flight tracking, that a number of flights have diverted their flights over the skies and away from the skies over Iran this evening. We also understand that a NOTAM, a no-fly zone has been declared in the west of Iran as well.

There are a number of other cities, where we've heard, from local sources on the ground, locally reported, unconfirmed by us, that there have been other explosions.

We can also say that earlier on, this evening, a number of small earthquakes were detected in Iran.

All of these different developments, John, we're trying to piece together, to give a complete picture of what is happening. Of course, there has been huge expectation that Israel was going to

strike back, in a decisive way, at Iran. Indeed Prime Minister Netanyahu said, just a couple of days ago, that that would be happening. And the British Foreign Secretary indicated he understood there will be strikes in Iran.

What we are trying to assess, right now, is who is behind these explosions, reported in Isfahan, what the bigger picture is adding up to, at the moment, and therefore, the implications that this might lead to.

I think we're at the very leading edge here, John, of trying to get a solid picture, of what is happening in Iran, tonight.

But air space affected, explosions reported around a significant city with significant bases, and a major nuclear research facility, in Iran, tonight, John.

KING: And Nic, a second Iranian media outlet, now reporting that in Isfahan that there have been significant strikes there. So, let's stay with it.

You mentioned we've been expecting this. Just for our viewers, I'd just go through the timeline.

Remember, back on April 1st, Israel was blamed for an attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria.

And then, as Nic noted, back last Saturday, on the 13th, Iran deployed more than 300 drones, and other aerial weapons, to attack on Israel.


After that Nic, the President of the United States, who helped the United States, Britain, other Western allies, helped to repel the Iranian attack. And the appeal from President Biden to Israel was you proved they couldn't hit you. Don't do anything provocative. Don't do anything that further escalates a region already on end.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has not listened to the President of the United States, when it comes to the Hamas conflict. Is it safe to say it appears he's not listening to him here?

ROBERTSON: John, I think what is safe to say at the moment is that it appears as in all likelihood that Israel has struck Iran. Now, has -- if this has happened, has Israel, has the Prime Minister dialed back, what he might have otherwise planned.

Certainly, there's been a huge international push. You had the British Foreign Secretary, the German Foreign Secretary, were here a couple of days ago, with repeating that message to all the ministers they met, the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, the Foreign Minister, the President of Israel. Do not escalate the situation. But both seemed to accept that Israel was going to go ahead, John.

KING: Nic Robertson, for us, live in Jerusalem, with the early reporting.

Nic, appreciate that hustle very much.

Our coverage will continue immediately right now. "CNN NEWSNIGHT WITH ABBY PHILLIP" starts now.