Return to Transcripts main page

Hala Gorani Tonight

Trump Organization's CFO Surrenders After Grand Jury Indictment; China's Communist Party Celebrates 100th Anniversary; Princes William and Harry Reunite at Diana Statue Unveiling; Biden Meets Families of Champlain Towers Victims; U.K. Records Highest Number New Coronavirus Cases since January; Turkey Quits Treaty Protecting Women from Violence; Annual Trafficking in Persons Report Released; Britney Spears Legal Battle. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired July 01, 2021 - 13:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNNI HOST: Hello everyone, live from CNN London, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. We will hear the charges leveled against a long-time member

of the Trump Organization next hour. We'll have a preview for you this hour. Then, a statement to the world, China marks the 100th anniversary of

the country's communist party. We'll discuss what message they're sending and how the world should respond. And, later, Prince William and Prince

Harry together again to honor their mother, Princess Diana. We have a live report.

We begin tonight in New York City where the Trump Organization's Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg surrendered to prosecutors this morning

after a grand jury indictment on Wednesday. In the next hour or so, the charges will be unsealed. Weisselberg and the Trump Organization are

expected to be charged with tax crimes in connection with a series of perks and fringe benefits awarded to employees.

And at this point, Donald Trump himself is not expected to be charged. Let's get more details now. Kara Scannell is live outside the courthouse in

New York City, and she joins us now with more. Kara, what to expect in the coming hour?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Hala, good evening. Just about one hour from now, we expect to see Allen Weisselberg appear in the court house just

behind me, along with a representative from the Trump Organization.

Both Weisselberg and the company have been indicted on charges related to attacks investigation. And sources tell us that this has to do with

compensation and benefits that they have received. And the question is whether they pay taxes on those benefits. These benefits include everything

from school tuition for one of Weisselberg's grandchildren to a rent-free apartment and a company car.

Now, we're waiting for more details on exactly what these charges are. They will be unsealed in about an hour's time. But we have already heard some

reaction. We heard from Allen Weisselberg's lawyers, they said he is going to enter a plea of not guilty in this case and will fight the charges in

court, and the Trump Organization has come out punching. They have said this is politically motivated, they even said that Weisselberg is a pawn in

the DA's effort to go after the former president. So, we will expect to hear a little bit more, and you think from the Trump side.

The attorney said that they are going to speak to reporters after the hearing, so we'll get a reaction once we know the full breadth of these

charges. But the big question still will be, does Allen Weisselberg cooperate? So far, he has expressed no interest in cooperating, but it

depends in part we think on what these charges are.

If he is facing big money amounts, that could really be a real threat to his freedom if he is convicted of these charges. So that would be the

question, does Weisselberg change his mind, could he cooperate and what could be down the line? Because prosecutors, you know, have been -- have

this investigation under way for years.

Sources tell us that it is still active and ongoing, so there still remains to be seen what can come down the pike. But as of now, we understand

according to sources that there will be no charges against the former president or any member of his family. Hala?

GORANI: All right, Kara Scannell, thanks very much. Renato Mariotti is a former federal prosecutor and he joins me now with his perspective from

Chicago. So, Renato, no charges expected against the former president.

I mean, for our international viewers, explain why prosecutors may have chosen to go after the chief financial officer, one of the most loyal, by

the way, lieutenants of the Trump Organization, an employee of that organization for five plus decades. Why go after him, why these charges in

particular and why now and why not the president at this stage or the former president?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: OK, so as a starting point -- as a starting point and at least in the United States, there are -- there's

a pretty high burden of proof. You not only have to -- prosecutors not only have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, but they have to prove

the state of mind of the defendant.

In other words, it's not enough that your taxes are incorrect, it's not enough that you paid too little in taxes, an underpayment is not enough.

What actually has to be proven is that you knew that you are making too few payments, that you know, were making omissions, putting essentially -- not

putting income that you had or in this case fringe benefits on an income tax form.

So that is ultimately what the tax charge is focused on, is did the defendant know he was doing something wrong. Was he trying to cheat on his

taxes? So to speak. And in this case, the CFO, Allen Weisselberg, of course he's going to be a lot closer to those tax documents than somebody like

Donald Trump or a member of his family.


So it's not surprising to me that if there's going to be one corporate officer who is going to be charged in connection with a tax matter, it

would be the CFO. And you know, what we're -- what we're seeing here, of course, is that, you know, yes, there could be more charges, but right now

these charges relate to, at least, if reports are true, fringe benefits that the Trump Organization was offering -- was giving to employees but not

paying taxes on.

GORANI: All right, we're talking about employee benefits here, apartment, cars, things like that. The Trump Organization, though, is saying that this

is politically motivated. They say the DA is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS nor any other

DA would think of bringing. This is essentially not justice, they're saying, this is politics. Do they have a point?

MARIOTTI: Well, I think it's an argument I would expect the defense to make. I'm sure if I was in their shoes I'd be making that argument. I will

point out it's odd that the statement doesn't deny the charges, right? It doesn't say that this didn't happen.

I think -- I thought -- I think that's interesting. But it does say, essentially, they're attacking the political motivation of an elected

prosecutor, and I think the Manhattan DA is an elected position and it's fair game for the Trump Organization to argue that the Manhattan DA is

doing this for political purposes, and I think that is part of the challenge that comes with any --

GORANI: I think then --

MARIOTTI: Prosecution of Trump or his businesses.

GORANI: All right, and Jennifer Weisselberg, who is the former daughter- in-law of Allen Weisselberg was on CNN this morning. This is what she had to say about potentially this case just being the beginning of a series of

cases brought against the Trump Organization. Let's listen.


JENNIFER WEISSELBERG, FORMER DAUGHTER-IN-LAW OF ALLEN WEISSELBERG: The taxes are I think, step one, but that's just the beginning. They are going

-- they have much more. That they're not going to bring this case against a former president without a lot more.


GORANI: Well, New York prosecutors, Renato, are looking into allegations of hush money paid to Stormy Daniels, the porn star. A scheme potentially

to devalue real estate assets so that there is less tax paid on them by the Trump Organization. Will prosecutors, do you think, go ahead with those

other charges and who might then be involved in terms of who might be indicted?

MARIOTTI: Well, I do think the prosecutors are going to continue to investigate those other charges. There's been a wide-ranging investigation,

as you mentioned. That said, I don't think that they will be bringing this charge at this time if they had, you know, much wider ranging charges ready

to go, if they had the evidence they needed.

And so, I think what's happening is, you know, right now, for whatever reason, they're deciding to do this either to try to push Weisselberg to

flip or that maybe have a statute of limitations issue. They're bringing this charge and then they're going to keep investigating, and we don't

really know whether they're going to get enough evidence to charge anyone else, in particular the former president.

GORANI: Very briefly on this one, because it's a political question, but I think many people around the world and in the U.S. will be asking, will

this in any way impact the former president's ability to fundraise if he is planning a run in 2024?

MARIOTTI: He's been capable of convincing a lot of people that one plus one equals three over the past four-plus years, so I don't see any reason

why he couldn't get to do the same here.

GORANI: All right, Renato Mariotti, thanks very much, always a pleasure talking to you. To China now, and the president has struck a defiant tone

as his ruling communist party reached a significant milestone. The CCP was founded in Shanghai 100 years ago. And in that time evolved from a tiny

political grouping to an organization that many world leaders see as the biggest modern day challenge. Xi Jinping was keen to emphasize China's

increased standing in the world during an event in Tiananmen Square marking the anniversary.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): At the same time, the Chinese people will never allow ourselves to be bullied, oppressed or

enslaved by any foreign powers. Anyone who dares to try will find their heads bashed bloodied against a great wall of steel forged by over 1.4

billion Chinese people.


GORANI: Those are some fighting words, David Culver, who is in Shanghai for us by Xi Jinping. What's behind this message?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are. It's tough rather, especially when you look at the English translation of that. We should point out in

context, the Chinese is a bit softer in how it's received here, but nonetheless, it's a strong undertone and it seems to be clearly directed

towards the United States, though the U.S. not named specifically in President Xi Jinping's speech today, Hala. This is an organization, a party

that started with just a few dozen members, as you pointed out, a 100 years ago right here in this city, Shanghai.


It has grown to more than 95 million members, and of course, it's taken over the People's Republic of China since 1949, and become the second

largest economy and a fast-modernizing military. And what we've noticed is this is an opportunity for the party and the country to use this milestone

to educate, or as some might see it, indoctrinate the next generation.



CULVER (voice-over): In a country where organized religion is strongly discouraged, there is faith of a different type, widely promoted here in

China, faith in the ruling Chinese Communist Party, that is. And this, one of its revered holy sites, Yan'an, in central China.

CULVER: Yan'an is a place in which the party's founding fathers lived and worked before the communists took over mainland China in 1949. Just over my

shoulder here, this is one of the spots where Mao Zedong called home for a brief time.

CULVER (voice-over): CNN recently joining other international media for a carefully-curated government tour, a visit to the historical places that

marked the party's rise over the past 100 years. So-called a red tourist traveling here to make a pilgrimage of sorts, some more enthusiastic than

others. The party's origins are central to a national curriculum aimed at indoctrinating the next generation, school children brought here on field

trips, adult students here to further their understanding of the party.

CULVER: And what's the idea behind coming here? What does it do for you long-term?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I come here to study the party's history, to have a better grasp of the party's mission.

CULVER (voice-over): We visited one communist party school that grooms its elite members, a pristine and modern university-like setting.

CULVER: This is a campus where they gather business leaders, government officials, military officers, and they're brought here and brought into

lecture halls like this one that we have to walk into, to learn more about the theoretical and the party's spirit education, as they consider it. Step


CULVER (voice-over): Classrooms filled with trainees taking notes. They come here for a few days to a few weeks. For Wang Wenjun, it's about

learning to think big, not climbing high.

WANG WENJUN, CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY SCHOOL TRAINEE (through translator): Personally, I want to serve more people to help them improve their lives

and pursue greater happiness.

CULVER: This could very well be the party and country's future leaders. While originally founded in Shanghai in 1921, China's Communist Party did

not take control of mainland China until the end of a brutal civil war in 1949.

And since there have been missteps, failures and catastrophes that are often downplayed or even missing from the official narrative. From the

pains of the cultural revolution to the blood of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But there were also undeniable successes, turning this once

poverty-stricken agrarian nation into the world's second largest economy with a fast modernizing military force that increasingly unnerves the

United States.

And those triumphs take center stage. In a dramatic and elaborate production, officials invited us to watch a show created to celebrate the

party's founding, showcasing its victory over Japanese occupiers and then the nationalists, portraying a heroic journey. While projecting the future

of promise and prosperity, and leaving the audience under a wave of red. And the party undoubtedly hopes awash with patriotism and gratitude for its

century-long presence.


CULVER (on camera): That was a very interesting performance to sit through, Hala, one that was a high production value, but obviously strong

propaganda that was generated from the party, and one that they hope is disseminated quite widely. One other thing to note from Thursday's speech

from President Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, is the focus on Taiwan and the unification of China, as he put it.

Of course, China considers itself governing the island of Taiwan to be a sovereign territory, and that there have been growing concerns in recent

months that tensions have been rising including the incursion of air defense zone for Taiwan, having received multiple Chinese fighter jets and

bombers going into it.

It was once again mentioned that there will be that unification at some point, and that any independence movement will be crushed by mainland

China, Hala.

GORANI: All right, David Culver, thanks very much. Evan Osnos is a CNN contributor an a staff writer at "The New Yorker" magazine. He's also the

author of the upcoming book "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury", he's also written a book about Joe Biden, and I'll ask him about Joe Biden's

world view in a moment. He joins us from Washington. Thanks Evan, for being with us. First off, this message from Xi Jinping on the 100th anniversary

of the communist party. What did you make of the tone and the content?


EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it's interesting, look, the message was quite clear, the message was strength. That was the goal that

they wanted to get across to people at home, and then also people around the world. I was struck, Hala, thinking back to the 2008 Olympics in

Beijing when the spirit of that moment was quite different. It was also a huge gathering, big speeches by leaders. But the spirit of that moment was

about trying to say, all right, China has arrived in the world, it's going to be here, we're not trying to be too disruptive.

Today, we heard something very different. This was about saying, look, at home we have to be unified if we're going to push off what can only be

described as the forces of history. After all, you know, China today is the last major communist economy in the world.

There is this acute sense among the leadership that there is a sense of peril around the world. And so, this was about trying to draw people

together and braid the idea of the party into their individual lives, telling people if you feel like you have things today you didn't have 20 or

30 years ago, you should give credit to the party. That was the message.

GORANI: And do you think it's in part related to Joe Biden making it very clear that at least in his world view, one of the greatest threats to

western democracies, to free societies in general are these autocratic regimes and China in particular? He's made that very clear. This is

something he said in 2020 after the election, before his inauguration, specifically mentioning China. Listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My concern from the beginning, I spoke about it, and I've met with Xi more times than anybody had up until

the time we left office, that I'm aware of, is to make it real clear to China, there are international rules that if you want to play by, we'll

play with you. If you don't, we're not going to play.


GORANI: How is China reacting to this pressure?

OSNOS: I think China is feeling very much the pressure, not only from Washington, but also from European capitals. We just saw in May that the G7

put out a series of statements that were intended to signal that the United States and its allies are trying to get on the same page and trying to

mount what could be described as a united front in saying that there are certain things that the United States and the west will accept in terms of

changes to the international system, and things that they don't want to accept.

You know, but this predated the Biden administration, after all. Of course --

GORANI: Yes --

OSNOS: The Trump administration had a very tense relationship with Beijing. But I think what's important, too, to point out, Hala, is that

there's really this kind of bipartisan consensus that's emerged here in Washington that is much harsher on the subject of China than it was five

years ago. And that's not going away. That in some ways, that's the new normal. And I think you see Beijing trying to absorb that fact and get used

to what that means for its diplomatic standing.

GORANI: But I mean, it's got to be difficult to navigate. This is a country that you can't ignore economically. Any big multinational

corporation has to do business with China, needs the Asian markets that are either in China's sphere of influence or in China itself. How do you -- how

do you -- how do you come to a calculus here, to an equation here that is workable, where on the one hand you know, you are pushing against China's

autocratic practices, and on the other having to embrace it economically?

OSNOS: This is what makes it such an exquisitely difficult problem. I mean, just to put a fine point on it. Starbucks right now, even in the

midst of all of this tension between the United States and China, is still opening a new store in China every day or two.

Tesla, for instance, opened a huge production facility just last year. So there is this very clear sense that American companies today, there are

still 70,000 of them doing business in China, that you cannot simply, economically decouple these two places in any simple way. It's not quite

like the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union.

What it is like is this effort to try to figure out -- this is the key point, I think, how do you decide what it is that you're willing to change

in the international system and what are you not willing to change? So on something like Xinjiang for instance where the United States has declared

that there are crimes against humanity and genocide going on there, that's an example of where United States is saying we're not going to start

changing standards for that.

But when it comes to giving China a greater voice in multilateral institutions, yes, that's an opportunity to have everybody at the table.

But this is not a case where you can simply shut the door on the world's second largest economy and walk away. It has to be more complicated.

GORANI: And by the way, you mentioned Tesla, but Elon Musk tweeted about China on this occasion of its 100th anniversary of the communist party, and

he tweeted, "the economic prosperity that China has achieved is truly amazing, especially in infrastructure!" -- exclamation mark.


"I encourage people to visit and see for themselves." So, you have the big industry leaders and corporate leaders sending that message while political

leaders are sending another one.

OSNOS: That's true. I mean, that's a reflection of the kind of importance that China plays in the market for Tesla, for Apple, for other major

companies. But you know, interestingly, there has been a real change here that over the last few years, the political class in Washington has become

much less amenable to that argument from American business leaders.

They have said that this has now become the dominant geostrategic issue of the future. And so, you know, in some ways, look, what Musk was saying,

he's right. People should go to China and get a feel for themselves.

At the same time, it's important to try to put it into context and say what are the ways in which China is living up to its own commitments to

international law and human rights protections? Where is it falling short? In some ways, you know, what this -- what this relationship needs at this

point is candor.

I mean, the United States has become quite explicit about the ways in which it's going to try to put more pressure on China and China was today as we

heard in that speech by Xi Jinping about as explicit as you can get that they do not plan to be weak, as they would put it in the face of this

challenge. I am afraid we're settling in for a pretty rocky road ahead. This is not going to get better any time soon.

GORANI: All right, Evan Osnos, thanks very much for joining us from Washington, really appreciate it. A quick break. When we come back, a royal

reunion today to honor the late Princess Diana. Prince William and Harry, well, it appears seemingly, putting aside their differences to remember

their mother. We are live at Kensington Palace just ahead.


GORANI: Princes William and Harry appeared together in public today for the first time since their grandfather, Prince Philip's funeral back in

April. They came together to honor their mother with a statue that they unveiled of the late Princess Diana. It sits in the Sunken Gardens at

Kensington Palace where William and Harry grew up.

There you see the statue there behind the two men, making today even more special, it would have been Princess Diana's 60th birthday. I mean, it

gives you a sense of just how young she was when she died, that she would only have turned 60 today. CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster joins me

now from Kensington Palace with more. How did the day go?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it went completely as planned, better than planned, you could argue.


It was a stripped-down event, so you just had, you know, the people involved in the garden redesign, the statue design, and then you had

Diana's siblings there as well, and then of course, William and Harry, who stepped -- walked into the Sunken Garden together, they had big smiles on

their faces, they unveiled the statue together.

I think what we can read into that is that not necessarily there's been some big peace-making process here, but this was a project the two of them

have been working on for years now. They both been absolutely -- each getting involved in every element of this process, including all the garden


And they were both -- they both went into the day knowing that they were happy with how it was going to play out, and fundamentally, that it

shouldn't be about them and any tension between them. It should be about the life and legacy of their mother in the garden they used to play in with


A very poignant moment, really. And when the statue was unveiled, we saw how they wanted to remember her, someone in the later years of life who

felt empowered, surrounded by children who were deeply integrated into her public work.. So, I think this was a big message from Harry and Meghan

about their mother more than anything else.

GORANI: So, the children are not the boys as kids. These are -- who is represented in the child figures there in that statue?

FOSTER: Well, they're not specific people. They are representatives of the young people that Diana would work with on her humanitarian work. So, young

children with AIDS, for example, she worked with very closely, and also children injured by land mines that have been discarded.

That sort of thing. This is basically what Harry and William saw in her public work. And the statue will be here in a private garden, but you'll be

able to see it as a visitor to Kensington Palace, and this is really about showing the public side of Princess Diana, but also in a very private


GORANI: Max Foster, thanks very much, live from Kensington Palace. Still to come, the U.S. President arrives in Florida, one week after a deadly

tower collapse. His message to the community there, to first responders and families affected by the tragedy. So many people still missing today. We'll

be right back. Also the U.S. Secretary of State calls out Turkey, implicating the country in the use of child soldiers. We'll update you as

part of CNN's freedom project on that. Stay with us.



GORANI: The American president, Joe Biden, is in Florida right now, meeting with families affected by last week's catastrophic tower collapse.

Earlier, Joe Biden met with first responders. He thanked them for their work and he also pledged federal support to cover the costs of the response


Search and rescue operations have been underway for eight days but were temporarily suspended earlier due to structural concerns with the building.

This is something that families of those who have not been rescued yet are becoming, understandably, very frustrated. Kaitlan Collins joins me live

from Surfside, Florida.

This was a challenging visit for the president.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is the first kind of events like this of his presidency and he is now taking

part in what is expected to be the most difficult part of his day, where he's behind closed doors with these families, of the victims, of those

still unaccounted for.

And they've been in that meeting behind closed doors for about an hour now. It is slated to last at least three hours, according to the schedule that

the White House put out last night.

They wanted the president to have a lot of time because there are so many people down here and, of course, we've seen from them, meeting with other

officials, first responders and they try to give them updates, a lot of these families are really hurting because they do know what happened to

their loved one or they still don't know.

So we often talk about how President Biden does have this specialty of being a consoler. He is someone who obviously has dealt with grief at

several points in his life and in his political career. But this is something that is different because he is coming here as president.

People often look to presidents in times of need like this for some kind of small bit of comfort. And that is what local officials are hoping he can

bring while he is on the ground with them.

He also brought some other welcome news for local officials, telling the mayor of Miami-Dade County earlier that they believe the federal government

is going to be able to front 100 percent of the cost of this effort that's underway.

And there are a lot of people here on the ground, that is, of course, not just a big logistical undertaking but it is going to be massively

expensive. They have no idea how long it's going to last, given you've seen how incremental the progress has been so far.

So we will hear from President Biden after he meets with these families. He is going to make remarks. And, of course, White House officials were

expecting this to be a very difficult visit for him. So we'll get an update from him on what the families were feeling, what they said to him in just a

few hours from now.

GORANI: What was the framework?

How many families met with the president?

How was it all organized logistically?

COLLINS: It's about 150 people who are still unaccounted for. You've seen how many victims they've now announced as they've been making these

incremental updates. We're told that it's not just one representative from each family; there are a lot of people on the ground, waiting for news.

So the White House did not give a specific number but we saw some of the families boarding a bus to meet with the president. They were expecting it

to be in the hundreds when we spoke to officials yesterday.

There are so many people on the ground and they all want an update from the commander in chief about what is going on. So the White House is trying to

dedicate most of his visit while he's here to that on the ground.

He doesn't typically leave for a trip as early as he did this morning in the 7:00 am hour from Washington to come here. But they left very early

because they wanted to have a lot of time on the ground for him to meet with them behind closed doors.

GORANI: All right, Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much, reporting live from Surfside, Florida: 145 people still missing under the rubble of that

building collapse outside of Miami.

The World Health Organization says that Europe reported a 10 percent spike in coronavirus cases just in the last week. Officials are blaming the Delta

variant for the quick spread of the disease. They're urging people to get vaccinated without hesitation.

The U.K. is heading toward another potential wave of coronavirus cases, with the Delta variant mostly to blame. The country just reported its

highest number of new infections since the end of January. Not great news. The World Health Organization says crowds of Euro 2020 football fans are

helping fuel the spike in Europe.


GORANI: Salma Abdelaziz is live in London with more.

We've seen them on TV. I've seen them in person. I've seen how they behave when their team wins, not a lot of social distancing, not a lot of masks

and quite a bit of alcohol. Not a great cocktail if you want to keep transmission down of the new, more contagious variant.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, and that's exactly what the World Health Organization was saying. They're pointing to the fact

that, while sports officials say they are able to control the environment and limit the number of crowds, it's a completely different story once you

step outside the stadium.

Take a listen to what one World Health Organization official said.


DR. CATHERINE SMALLWOOD, WHO EUROPE: We need to look much beyond just the stadia themselves. What we need to look at is around the stadia.

How are people getting there?

Are people traveling in large, crowded convoys of buses?

Are they taking individual measures when they're doing that?

What's happening after the games when people leave the stadiums?

Are they going into crowded bars and pubs to watch the matches?

And we've said that, should these things, this mixing happen, there will be cases.


ABDELAZIZ: Of course, what health officials are most concerned about right now is the Delta variant, this highly transmissible, highly infectious new

variant of coronavirus that's already the dominant one here in the U.K., set to be the dominant one by August across the European bloc.

A lot of concern of that spreading quite quickly. Here in the U.K., health officials have said, don't worry, we have this under control because we

have such a big vaccination program. Over 80 percent of adults have received their first dose. The government is looking to get two-thirds of

adults to have their second dose by July 19th.

But on the European continent, it's a different picture. They are worried because over 65 percent of adults have yet to receive the first dose of

their vaccine. That's a community that's much more vulnerable.

We've already seen the fallout. Scotland reported hundreds of cases linked to those who were attending the European championships. Finland as well

pointed to a surge in cases, they say, originated from fans coming back home. So these are very real statistics and very real worries here -- Hala.

GORANI: I'm going to try to find a silver lining, which I don't always do, almost never do. But I'm going to find one here. And that is that the

number of deaths has not risen in proportion with the number of cases at all. So we're still seeing death in the teens, in the low 20s in a country

like the U.K. -- and I'm using the U.K. as an example.

But all the while, we've seen the number of cases double week-on-week. Correct me if I'm wrong. I don't have the number right here with me. But

over 25,000, 26,000 cases.

So that has to be -- there has to be some measure of comfort here that hospitals are not overwhelmed, despite the fact that the number of cases is

the highest it's been since end of January.

ABDELAZIZ: Look, there's a measure of comfort here in the U.K. and again that comes down to the vaccination program. You have over 26,000 cases.

That's the highest number of cases this country has seen since late January.

On the same day we recorded that number of cases, on Wednesday, there was only 14 -- not only -- but tragically 14 deaths. Compare that to the same

number of cases over 26,000, late January, you had over 1,200 deaths, 1,400 to 1,200. That's what the government is pointing to.

They are saying we are breaking the link between the variants and virus and having these vaccinations, that's breaking the link in transmission.

However, again across Europe are vaccination rates are low in some areas, over 60 percent of adults are still waiting for the first dose of their


Where there's great vaccine hesitancy in some parts of Europe, that layer of protection doesn't exist. That's why you're seeing several countries put

rules into place to block travelers. But the variants are already there.

The events are already starting to take place. That's what the World Health Organization is pointing to, they're saying, be vigilant, this could be the

dominant strain.

GORANI: You've seen stadiums in Hungary, for instance, absolutely packed. And other parts of Europe as well, not necessarily as packed as Hungary but

certainly full stadiums. And then football fans who go on to celebrate or commiserate after the game. Thanks very much, Salma Abdelaziz, live in


Still to come, Turkey withdraws from an international treaty meant to prevent violence against girls and women. And it couldn't have come at a

worst time.





GORANI: Turkey has formally withdrawn from an international treaty that protects women from violence and some people are outraged.


GORANI: There are protests -- these are live images, by the way, coming to us from Istanbul. There are protests on the streets of Istanbul against

this move. It comes even as violence against women is rising in Turkey and it's estimated that, every day in Turkey, one woman is killed by someone

close to her.


GORANI: Our senior international correspondent Arwa Damon is in Istanbul and joins me now with more on, first of all, why?

Why withdraw from -- you would think it's a good thing to be a member of a treaty that prevents violence against women and girls.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you would, Hala and the irony is perhaps that Turkey was the first country to ratify it.

But then in March, when the government took this position to withdraw, they said that the convention had been hijacked by people who were promoting

homosexuality and that it was somehow damaging to Turkey's family values.

Now this has, understandably, enraged many women across this country, who now feel as if they are being sentenced to a life of even greater fear, and

families, who have suffered the loss of someone who they love, do not want to see anyone else go through the same sort of agony.


DAMON (voice-over): Sardar Ilu (ph) can't come to terms with what happened to his daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

DAMON: Is there a last photograph together?

DAMON (voice-over): "Surely," he says, "something more could have been done," should have been done, to save Cezanne (ph) and his unborn


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

DAMON (voice-over): (Speaking foreign language).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language).

DAMON (voice-over): It's almost as if he had a premonition of what would come in a society that, he says, doesn't value women. He took on multiple

jobs to educate her so she could work, survive on her own and never have to rely on a man.

Sardar (ph) had begged his daughter not to get married but she didn't listen. She was just 16 and in what she thought was love. Then, he says,

the beatings and abuse began. The family filed two complaints that resulted in a restraining order. Cezanne (ph) moved back in with her father.


DAMON (voice-over): "If he had just been detained for three months, six months, my daughter would be alive," he mourns. Her husband lured her into

meeting up with him, he says, stabbing her 17 times, killing her and their unborn baby boy.

If only this tragic story was a rare occurrence in Turkey. Women's rights groups that track femicide rates here say that, on average, one woman a day

is killed by someone she knows -- a family member, husband, boyfriend, lover.

Three years ago Dusum Postaga (ph), a domestic abuse survivor herself, initiated free self-defense classes. Some of those who attend want to

protect themselves from harassment on public transportation or in the streets.

Others are in more threatening situations.

"We are born into a society that villainizes women, due to its patriarchal system, as soon as we are born," she explains. "Our rage grows by the day."

And so, too, does their fear, a fear that no woman should have to feel. And yet all too many do.

Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a European human rights treaty, that aims to end gender-based violence, is an attack on women's

lives, she says.

The irony is that Turkey was actually the first country to ratify it.

Cezanne's (ph) father says his daughter's organs were so butchered by the repeated stabbings that none were viable to be donated, just her eyes.

"Our only hope is the eyes of our daughter that remained in the world," he says. "God willing, she will see the world with those eyes."

Her aunt, Semia (ph), feels like she's going insane. She says she wants to smash in her head, beat herself just to end the pain, just for it to stop.

She had raised Cezanne (ph) as her own after Cezanne's mother left.

She grabs my hands the same way she grabbed Cezanne's when she begged her for the truth about her relationship with her abusive husband. The husband

has been detained and is awaiting trial, according to authorities. His plea is not yet public.

The real crux is not with justice, once the crime has been committed; it's with the systems, social and judicial, that allow it to get this far.

"I want my child back, I want my child back," Semia (ph) wails. "I can't forget, I can't forget."


DAMON: And, Hala, the Turkish government also says that its own laws provide sufficient protections for women, which is actually true. But

that's not the issue. The legislation is there. The problem is with the implementation of it.

And what many women fear and what women's rights activists will tell you is that, by withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, something of a security

blanket has been ripped away from them. And they fear that this will further embolden the perpetrators of harassment, domestic violence and


GORANI: All right, Arwa Damon, thank you very much.


GORANI: Every year we cover the Trafficking in Persons Report as part of our Freedom Project, our network effort, to help bring an end to modern-day

slavery. Moments ago, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken released this year's findings and remarked on the profound impact of the pandemic.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: In many places, as governments diverted resources to try to control the pandemic and address the secondary

impacts, human traffickers seized the opportunity to grow their operations.

People who were pushed into dire economic circumstances by the pandemic became more vulnerable to exploitation. And as more people spent hours

online, for school and work, traffickers used the internet to groom and recruit potential victims.

So the pandemic has had a real impact on this fight. It's another reason why it's so important to stop the pandemic as quickly as we can and help

communities around the world.


GORANI: The TIP Report grades countries on efforts to combat human trafficking from Tier 1 countries, which were found to comply with the

minimum standards, to Tier 3 countries, which are not meeting minimum standards and making no efforts to improve. This year, Guinea-Bissau and

Malaysia dropped to Tier 3 in the report.


GORANI: Six countries were downgraded from Tier 1 to Tier 2: Cyprus, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Switzerland; 12 countries were

downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 2 Watch List, including Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Haiti, Liberia, Palau, St. Maarten, South Africa,

Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe. It's a long list. I'm discovering it at the same time as you. But there you have a complete list

of all the countries whose tier rankings aren't changing this year.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.




GORANI: Outraged, stunned, shocked, betrayed: Bill Cosby's accusers are reacting to the decision by Pennsylvania's highest court to overturn his

sexual assault conviction.

Cosby is now a free man. He was released from prison yesterday after the court ruled his due process rights were violated. Three years ago, Andrea

Constand testified that he drugged and assaulted her at his home in 2004. The trial was based on that one case.

But more than 60 women had come forward, accusing the comedian -- known as America's dad at one point -- of misconduct. One of them said the court's

decision does not change the facts.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm totally overwhelmed. When I got the call this morning, I felt like I was hit by a train. You know, he deserved to be what

he did because what he did was unjust. He's out on a technicality but that doesn't change the fact he is a predator.


GORANI: Cosby's attorney says the court made the right decision, unsurprisingly. Cosby is, we understand, at his home now in Pennsylvania

and perhaps will even emerge from his home today. We'll keep an eye on that.

Britney Spears' father will remain in charge of the pop star's multimillion dollar estate for now. A Los Angeles judge has denied a motion from

November, which requested that the singer's father be removed as her co- conservator. Joining me now live is CNN entertainment reporter Chloe Melas.

So we all remember this impassioned plea that Britney Spears made in court just a few weeks ago. But this is not related to that. This is -- takes us

back to -- goes back to a November filing, correct?


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks for having me. You're exactly right. It's interesting timing but this ruling from the Los Angeles County

Superior Court in California has absolutely nothing to do with Britney's testimony, her heartfelt, heartbreaking, bombshell after bombshell

testimony last week, in which she claimed that she was forced to perform against her will, forced to take lithium and not allowed to take out her

IUD to start a family.

This is based on Britney's attorney filing last year, asking the court to remove her father. And the judge decided last November that she wasn't

going to remove Jamie Spears from overseeing Britney's estate but that she would appoint a bank called Bessemer Trust.

For whatever reason, Britney's attorney finally filed the necessary paperwork to make that official. And the judge signed it yesterday. That

doesn't mean, though, that Britney couldn't still have this conservatorship terminated.

We're still waiting to see if her attorney is finally going to finally file that petition that's almost 13 years overdue to terminate that

conservatorship. And then, also, the judge could still rule at some point to remove her father if another petition to remove him is submitted.

GORANI: And, briefly, what she told the court last week, how could that play into an effort by her to have the whole structure terminated and


MELAS: It's a really complicated process. I've been speaking to many conservator attorneys, as well as an ethics attorney in the past few days.

They all say that it really first starts when either Britney's attorney filing that petition or Britney, writing a letter to the judge, there's

also something called an ex parte, that anyone close to Britney could write on her behalf or even the ACLU could do something like that.

And again, Britney said multiple times last week during her hearing that she wants new counsel. Her attorney is court-appointed. She's never been

able to pick an attorney of her choice.

So that is something that the judge could just snap her fingers and allow Britney the right to have new counsel without Britney having to do anything


GORANI: All right, Chloe Melas, thank you very much for the update.

Thanks for watching this show at a special time tonight. That's because next hour we expect one of the Trump Organization's most loyal lieutenants,

the Trump Organization's chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, to appear in court to be arraigned on expected tax evasion charges.

Allen Weisselberg surrendered to New York prosecutors this morning. He is expected to enter a plea of not guilty. CNN has full coverage from outside

the New York court and analyses at the studio when that happens in just about 15 minutes. Stay with us and I'll see you tomorrow.