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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Pecker Describes Involvement In Suppression Of Stormy Daniels, McDougal Stories In Third Day Of Testimony; Pecker Testifies He Had Concerns About Legality Of Catch-And-Kill Deals; Trump Attorney Concedes Some Of Trump's Actions May Be Private, Not Official; Clock Ticking On Supreme Court Decision, After Justices Appear Skeptical Of Sweeping Trump Immunity Claims; But Float Possible Trial Delay; Full Thursday Trial Transcript Just Released; Pecker Describes Involvement In Suppression Of Stormy Daniels, McDougal Stories In Third Day Of Testimony; Parents Of Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin Speak After Release Of Hamas Video Showing Him Alive. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 25, 2024 - 20:00   ET


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think they learned from what happened at USC yesterday when security and the police came in pretty heavy. Today, almost zero police or security visible presence.

What's a bit odd is that even if you're a student here at UCLA right now, you cannot walk across your campus because the protesters have put up a barricade and they won't let you through unless you register and wear a mask. They also won't let us in or let us even film from the outside, Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST, "OUTFRONT": Nick Watt, thank you very much. Those masks, something we've started to see at all these protests to kind of conceal identity. Thank you. And thanks to all of you. It's time for Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Good evening from New York. What the tabloid publisher who said the former president was a mentor to him describe today what he did to help that mentor win the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And hi from Washington, where the Supreme Court heard arguments today for and against making any former president immune from criminal prosecution for acts in office and letting this one off the hook for trying to stay in the White House despite losing the election.

COOPER: Two courtrooms, two cases, one person at the center of both, which in itself is something that a single individual should be responsible for today's legal traffic jam and tonight's split screen special primetime coverage.

Here in New York, the former president's criminal trial continued with more testimony from his one time friend and former tabloid publisher, David Pecker. In it, Pecker described his role of suppressing the stories of Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who both said they had affairs with Donald Trump. This photo, one of several admitted into evidence today, shows Pecker and the former president walking past the White House Rose Garden. Former president asking him at that moment, according to Pecker, "How's Karen doing?" To which Pecker says he replied, "She's doing well. She's quiet. Everything is going good."

In another conversation, Pecker said Trump referred to McDougal as our girl. Pecker also suggested that Trump was angry about the interviews I did with her and Stormy Daniels when each broke their silence. We'll bring you excerpts in our coverage tonight.

COLLINS: In Washington, the Supreme Court oral arguments were underway and the conservatives, who, as we know, have a majority on the court, appeared to embrace at least some form of criminal immunity for presidents. The liberal minority, by contrast, focused on the temptation that might be for a future president if they have that.


KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I'm, I guess, more worried about - you seem to be worried about the president being chilled. I think that we would have a really significant opposite problem if the president wasn't chilled.

If someone with those kinds of powers, the most powerful person in the world, with the greatest amount of authority, could go into office knowing that there would be no potential penalty for committing crimes, I'm trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into the seat of criminal activity in this country.


COLLINS: In a moment, I'll be joined by former Trump counsel, Jim Trusty, and also former White House counsel in the Nixon administration, John Dean, who was central to the last case that the Supreme Court decided on whether presidents are above the law.

Anderson, of course, first with the criminal trial and that transcript that just came out from today.

COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan.

With me here, criminal defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, also former federal prosecutor, Jeffrey Toobin, Jessica Roth, former House January 6th Select Committee Senior Investigative Counsel, Temidayo Aganga- Williams, CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, and CNN's Brynn Gingras who was in court today.

A lot of billable hours right here at the table.

So, Brynn, let's talk more about what the scene was like inside the courtroom today.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, listen, I found it interesting, the contrast between the finishing up of the direct and the cross-examination, right? Direct, we see - have seen over the last couple of days, it's very methodical. They go through every single detail, pulling back the curtain on those catch-and-kill schemes with Pecker, bringing in the evidence, text messages, how they discuss signal apps with Michael Cohen.

And then once we got to the cross, it was rapid fire, right? The defense was basically walking him through exactly poking holes into what the cross had just spent days and hours doing with Pecker. So I found that very interesting.

Another thing I thought was so interesting, and you just mentioned your interviews that you did, also what was brought up, of course, was the Access Hollywood tape. And all these details that very likely these jurors have heard prior to the 2016 election, they were extremely enthralled.

We were learning that they were ping-ponging back and forth between the questions that were being asked and Pecker's answers, so that was interesting.

Meanwhile, the former president sort of sat back, particularly during Pecker's direct, he sort of sat back with his arms crossed at times, kind of closing his eyes, listening in a little bit more, but really not reacting much at all to what his former friend was saying on the stand, just feet away from him. So there was a lot of sort of quiet drama in a sense inside the courtroom, but you could certainly feel it.

COOPER: I just want to get quick takes from everybody about what stood out. I mean, Elie, what stood out to you?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: For the reason Brynn's saying, prosecutors know you do not high-five at the end of the correct exam. That's the easy part. And the change in pace and tone that Bryn noted, I think was interesting.


And I do think the defense has started to score some points and chip away at Pecker's testimony.

For example, they established this catch-and-kill stuff, this capturing stories, doing favors for celebrities, putting pressures on celebrities. Donald Trump did not invent that. That's been going on since the beginning of tabloid journalism. That's important context for the jury to understand.

Michael Cohen, I thought - I think they scored a nice point when they established - Michael Cohen is always playing an angle for himself. They got that out of the state's witness, out of the DA's witness. And the last thing I think was there's a contradiction in an important part of Pecker's testimony where he says now that Hope Hicks was at this crucial meeting where they first started discussing this plan. But it turns out he didn't say that, the first time he was asked by investigators. Now, I'm not saying he's ruined as a witness, but this is the back and forth. I think he did a good job on direct. I'd be happy with it if I was the prosecutor. But now sit back because now he's taking on taking on some damage.

COOPER: Temidayo?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: Yes. Speaking from my time as a prosecutor, I agree. I think I would be happy if this were my witness. I think what stands out is something we talked about the other night, actually, is that it's quite easy to point the finger at someone else. But I think what happened today is that Pecker point the finger at himself.

He basically admitted that he was part of a criminal conspiracy. And he talked importantly about election crimes and his own concern that exactly what they were doing violated that.

COOPER: He actually had raised concerns and said they sought out legal counsel on that at the time.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Exactly. And I think that's incredibly damaging because the real - one of the competing narratives here is are we talking about a personal matter in this hush money, which is what everyone does. It's what rich people do to hide stories. Are we talking about a campaign violation, are we talking about people entering into conspiracy because they know they are trying to influence an election and that is at the core of the prosecution's case. And today, David Pecker said that's exactly what was going on.

COOPER: Arthur, sorry (INAUDIBLE) ...

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What I heard about and, Elie, I believe is absolutely correct. The cross examination, they made some points right out of the box. And the way you just described it, Brynn, going like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, that's what you want. And you only get one chance to make a first impression on this jury. This is the first big cross examination.

You want the jurors to know right off the bat, you hear - you're going to hear all these nice, prepared, totally rehearsed, direct examinations, but watch what happens. Watch what happens. Watch how we fillet that once we dig into the details. And apparently I had a friend who was in the courtroom. He said after the first hour and a half of cross examination, I wanted to take a shower after hearing how filthy that tabloid industry is.

And he really - I don't know the details, but apparently it was a lot about Arnold Schwarzenegger ...

COOPER: Right.

AIDALA: ... and when he was going to run and all the things that they buried with it.

COOPER: Right, right. Pecker was testifying that Arnold Schwarzenegger had actually been in contact with him about essentially doing the same kind of catch-and-kill sort of stuff.

AIDALA: Yes. And I think I made the analogy today, they're like, well, what's the big deal about bringing that out? If a jury is there and they're listening to a crime and there's someone who's like talking about how horrible double parking is, but then you have like 18 other people, well, I double park, and you double park, and you double park, this kind of slides into that jury nullification basket.

Like, so this is standard operating procedure. This isn't like Donald Trump is the only one who's ever done this. They're like, oh, this is what all politicians do. They pay to bury stories or have someone in the tabloid help them.

COOPER: Jessica, for you?

JESSICA ROTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I was just going to pick up on that point, though, which is to say one of the things that's significant about establishing that that AMI did this for lots of other people is it tends to negate the idea that this was done for an election purpose, right? They're catching and killing stories for lots of other celebrities (INAUDIBLE) politicians ...

COOPER: Although Schwarzenegger was running for governor (INAUDIBLE) ...

ROTH: Right. But Mark Wahlberg wasn't, right. I mean, there are other people for whom Pecker was saying we would do this. And so I think at the end of the day, Pecker was still a very effective witness for the prosecution. I think there's lots of answers to this. He talked about how - when we got close to the election for President Trump, that the concern that Trump expressed was about the effect on his campaign.

But nevertheless, I think establishing that this was sort of standard operating procedure normalizes it, makes it seem arguably like it's less related to the campaign itself, which is important. But overall, I thought he was an excellent witness. And also, significantly, he showed no bias toward Trump.

I mean, not only was he not deflecting responsibility for his own criminal conduct, but he was saying that he still considered the former president a friend.

COOPER: Yes. He didn't come off sounding like he had an axe to grind.

ROTH: No. He wasn't he wasn't holding anything back and he had no axe to grind.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: If I were Donald Trump, I would be so happy about what happened in Washington today. I wouldn't even care what happened in the courtroom today because I think the Supreme Court really signaled that we are not going to see any other trials this year. We'll get to that later tonight, I know. But the value to the prosecution of Pecker is that he laid out the frame of this story. Now the jury understands that there were these three witnesses, three paid, that is all going to be filled out. Maybe they'll believe it, maybe they won't.

Your idea that this is so terrible and this is just business as usual, who was their partner in all of this? Donald Trump.


You don't think the jury is going to be somewhat offended that this guy who's running for president of the United States is involved with all these sleazeballs?

AIDALA: That he buried a sex story, which you heard from their witness, so did this celebrity, so did that celebrity, so did this celebrity, so did that celebrity, so did this celebrity, that it happens all the time. It's not this unique. Oh, my god, they came on - this isn't Watergate. That's my point. Watergate was a very unique time. It's the first time that something like that has ever happened. What came out across examination is this happens all the time.

ROTH: But bringing it back to what Temidayo said a moment ago, but this time they consulted their lawyers and then they started to back off, because they realized that they were veering into territory with respect to the campaign that made them nervous about it being (INAUDIBLE) ...

TOOBIN: With the money.

ROTH: With the money.

TOOBIN: With the money.

ROTH: Yes.

TOOBIN: And that's what matters here is the money.

GINGRAS: But if I could jump off of what you were saying on the stand, Pecker is very composed during direct. He's very composed. If he doesn't know an answer, he wouldn't say - he would say, I don't know. He would - he wouldn't hesitate. He was very believable and credible when he was testifying on direct. They didn't get to the crux of what this case is, which is Stormy Daniels, because, of course, Pecker didn't pay Stormy Daniels, right? He said, I'm not a bank after paying the other two stories.

So the question is now, sure, he's credible, but most of the story is not going to come from him. So are they going to find Michael Cohen credible who has an axe to grind against Donald Trump? Pecker, like, to your point, said he was my mentor. Like he was very nice. He was very believable. And this real story is coming from someone else further in the trial.

HONIG: This is a classic dilemma that you see at all trials when prosecutors are almost always going to build their case to some extent on testimony from people who are involved in the crime, cooperating witnesses, people who've been given immunity like David Pecker. And defense lawyers say, how can you convict based on the word of this sleazebag? How can you base - convict based on the word of this convicted liar coming up later, et cetera.

And prosecutors, we have our standard thing, we've all done, where you say, guess who chose this guy, right? The defendant chose him when he chose to go into business with him, when he chose Michael Cohen as his lawyer. So that's who we're going to show you the - that's how we're going to prove this case to you. And the task for prosecutors now, as Jessica was pointing out, is explaining why this transaction was different from Mark Wahlberg or Schwarzenegger and different in a way that takes it over the line of criminality.

COOPER: It is interesting that all of the people who are going to be in that courtroom were people in the orbit of Donald Trump. I mean, it's not as if they are random strangers. They are the people who Trump chose to have in his life.

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: I think when we talk about this dirt that's spread around, I think if I'm Donald Trump's lawyers, I'm worried about that dirt being on Donald Trump, right? This is the former president. And I think that's what's really going to be important here.

Right now, I think the standard of this is in Watergate. That's not the standard here, right? And I think a jury, when they get their jury charge from the judge, that's not going to be the charge he's going to give them.

They don't have to find that this is (INAUDIBLE) ...

AIDALA: Well, I don't know the charge he's going to give (INAUDIBLE) ...

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, I guess what we do know though, it's not going to be that it has to be the crime of the century. That's not what a jury has to answer.

COOPER: But I do think it's fascinating when you see that black and white photo of Donald Trump walking past the Rose Garden with David Pecker. And we've seen heads of state walking down that. We've seen people of consequence walking down that. And to know who David Pecker is now and to know what Donald Trump is saying right there, which is essentially how's Karen doing, is she going to shut up.

TOOBIN: And later in the trial, we are going to see checks that Donald Trump signed to, according to the prosecution, to pay Michael Cohen back for the money he gave to Stormy Daniels.

COOPER: You see that photo in black and white and you feel it's historic and they're, wow, these are important people and talking about important things. And they're talking about a hush money deal and keeping a woman silent.

TOOBIN: And these checks were signed in the Oval Office while he was president of the United States, that might mean something. COOPER: Just ahead, more of what we're learning from the courtroom transcripts, which is just fascinating.

And next, Kaitlan's back with us. Jeff mentioned a moment ago today, Supreme Court oral arguments and presidential immunity, what the justices asked both sides, in a case that Justice Gorsuch today said, "We are writing a rule for the ages."



COLLINS: After nearly three hours of oral arguments before the Supreme Court today, the justices did not seem willing to embrace former President Trump's anything goes interpretation of presidential immunity. But instead, much of the hearing instead focused on where to draw the distinction between the official acts of a president and their private conduct.

Here's conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett questioning the president's attorney, John Sauer.





And I want to know if you agree or disagree about the characterization of these acts as private: Petitioner turned to a private attorney who was willing to spread knowingly false claims of election fraud to spearhead his challenges to the election results. Private?

SAUER: As alleged, I mean, we dispute the allegation.

BARRETT: Of course.

SAUER: But that sounds private to me.

BARRETT: Sounds private. Petitioner conspired with another private attorney who caused the filing in court of a verification signed by petitioner that contained false allegations to support a challenge. Private?

SAUER: That also sounds private.

BARRETT: Three private actors, two attorneys, including those mentioned above and a political consultant helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding, and Petitioner and a co-conspirator attorney directed that effort.

SAUER: You read it quickly. BARRETT: Yes.

SAUER: I believe that's private.


COLLINS: Some of today's arguments also focused on former President Richard Nixon and his legal entanglements and how that precedent reflects on today and what that means.

I'm joined tonight by the former counsel to former President Trump, Jim Trusty, former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams, Georgetown law professor, Victoria Nourse and former federal prosecutor, Shan Wu. And also someone very familiar with the legal legacy left behind by Richard Nixon, the former president's one-time White House counsel, John Dean.

And John, let me start with you, given how Watergate - I think we all knew it was going to come up at some point, but this is how Trump's attorney responded when Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson raised this question about President Nixon.


JACKSON: What was up with the pardon for President Nixon?

SAUER: I think that ...

JACKSON: If everybody thought that presidents couldn't be prosecuted, then what was that about?

SAUER: Well, he was under investigation for both private and public conduct at the time.


COLLINS: John, given that, I wonder what you made of how just over 10 minutes after that, Trump's attorney also acknowledged that that allegation by Jack Smith and that indictment includes both private and official acts.

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: My reaction was that there's a thin read there for them to draw upon. Ford clearly thought - President Ford clearly thought that Nixon could be prosecuted. Indeed, he thought he was getting a confession from Nixon when he issued the pardon. He actually carried around it in his pocketbook or in his wallet a cite of a case that said, in essence, by the Supreme Court, that acceptance of a pardon was admission of guilt.

So the whole assumption, back then, was that presidents had no immunity. They could not commit crimes without having exposure. And unless there was just a passing by the Department of Justice on taking action, indeed, they had jeopardy.

[20:20:05] So the situation has dramatically changed and Nixon's one-time prediction that if the president does it, that means it's legal seemed to come to bear today on the conservative justices on the court.

COLLINS: Yes, I was remembering how we reported at Trump's term in office. He actually forbade people from bringing up Nixon comparisons to him, often with a lot of expletives, because he was tired of hearing those comparisons. But on the argument that Trump's attorney did concede today, saying that some of those accusations are private acts that Trump did, what did you make of that shift?

DEAN: Well, I thought it was a surprising admission, since they've sort of stonewalled it on everything. They just couldn't get around arguing that some of those acts were not official acts, even though Trump has pretended that everything he did while he was still president was an official act. So we'll see how far that goes.

They are - the issues he conceded to, he must think he has a factual argument that he can make that somehow diminishes the impact of what's going on. But, Kaitlan, I was just surprised at the court's focus and seeming determination by the Republican members to write an immunity of some kind for presidents. It is just not the right case to do that and it's just going to really be a threat to democracy to have them foolishly write something just for the sake of this case.

COLLINS: Yes. It was remarkable to listen to it.

And, Victoria, when you hear that, you're shaking your head yes at what John Dean was just saying there.

VICTORIA NOURSE, WHITWORTH PROFESSOR OF LAW, GEORGETOWN LAW: I've been a law professor for about 30 years and I study the separation of powers and the text of the Constitution. And I have to say, I was just very, very sad today. I've never heard anything like this.

They said in Dobbs that women don't have a right of abortion because it's not in the text. They believe they're textualists, but they're just about to make up some text for Donald Trump. So they did not, they had an opportunity to put country above party and they did not. They refused to talk about the facts. This official immunity doctrine is only applied in civil cases, not criminal cases.

So I have to say it was a dispiriting moment for me, because I teach my students at Georgetown to follow the rule of law. I tell them I'm a moderate because I have no friends on the left or the right and it was really a dispiriting day for me.

COLLINS: Well, Jim Trusty, I mean, you were on Trump's defense team. Obviously, you're not any longer. But what did you make of how the arguments went today?

JIM TRUSTY, FORMER COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm not crying in my beer that this was a breakdown of law and order.

COLLINS: And to be clear, that's not actually a beer. TRUSTY: Well, not yet, but it's only about 8:15. No, look, I mean, honestly, I give a lot more credit to the conservative side of the bench on this. And I'll say a couple of things. One is I actually - I like to kind of sit in judgment on the advocacy of the parties, whatever my stake is, whatever my interest is.

And I've known Mike Dreeben for a long time. I don't know Sauer, but I actually ...

COLLINS: Dreeben who was arguing on behalf of the federal government.

TRUSTY: Right. I actually think that it was a really intellectually interesting debate going on today and that the party - I didn't just - I didn't agree with everything that either side said. But I thought that the way they presented themselves, their comfort in the Supreme Court is something that's pretty impressive.

So if I'm talking to my students, I'd say whatever you come out on this, watch the advocacy, watch how they respond to the court, watch their knowledge of history and the history of the Supreme Court and learn something, because there's something to learn from both sides.

But in terms of the court, there's a couple of things. They are looking at context and text and trying to figure out the history, whether it supports executive immunity. But they're also not blind to the current context. And the current context is craziness of ambitious prosecutors around the country throwing together very unique, very creative ways of going after the president.

COLLINS: But are they not blind to that because the conservative justices didn't really seem to address the Trump factor of it at all. They seem to talk about what it meant for future presidents while not dealing with the allegations about this former and potentially future president.

TRUSTY: Right. Well, the one thing that's - here's the real sad part of the story, which is they can come up with this line, this kind of mark in the continuum between personal and presidential and say this is the line where immunity begins or ends, however you want to phrase it. They'll probably do that.

They're not in a position to make the factual call on these cases. So what's going to happen, I think, if they establish that there is, in fact, this kind of qualified or limited form of immunity, not the absolute kind of craziness, but if there's a limited form, it's going to go back to the trial courts to figure out, are these facts. When and how do I figure out if the facts of this case give rise or don't give rise to immunity?

So we may be seeing trial courts dealing with this issue, circuits, Supreme Court saying - going to the Supreme Court saying, we - you guys gave this test a year ago. We're back, so.

COLLINS: Well, notable to hear you say craziness of Trump's absolute immunity claim.

Elliot, what did you - what do you make of what - Jim's analysis?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, I think you're absolutely right.


I think the court in sort of recognizing - well, I think Trump's team in conceding that some things might be official acts and some things are not really open the door to the Supreme Court to say, well, we can't decide what's an official act and what isn't. We're just going to send it back down to lower courts to figure out.

Now, to be clear, the Supreme Court could have resolved this issue back in December and we're not even talking about that hearing at which - remember, Judge Florence Pan talked about the drone strike by SEAL Team 6 or whatever.

Long before that, the Supreme Court had this issue because Jack Smith's team took it to the Supreme Court, said, we would like you to expedite this ruling. Can you please rule on this issue, and they chose not to. For this reason, they want to keep their hands out of it to some extent and push it back down to the lower courts.

COLLINS: Well, Shan, can we ...

TRUSTY: And because Jack's speedy trial thing was absurd on its face.

COLLINS: Well, can we talk about Justice Alito and, Shan, what he raised today, which was essentially, if you do allow former presidents to be prosecuted, then they'll be so worried about being prosecuted once they leave office that they'll do unlawful things to stay in that office. It was kind of a complete reversal of that argument.

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I'm not sure he understood the effect of that point. I think Justice Ketanji Brown had indicated that it would become the seat of criminality rather than the seat of power if you allow that type of absolute immunity.

I mean, this whole notion that they may send back or establish a test, I think is just nonsense because they basically want to have a bunch of mini trials in every scenario to determine is it an official act or not. And you know something? We already have a system to determine that. It's called a criminal trial and they should just let it go forward, because the way that they're fashioning this is completely unworkable and it's never been needed for the past 250 years and probably won't be needed again for another 250 years.

COLLINS: Were you surprised how they - by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who seemed to kind of agree with that in the sense that these are questions a jury could answer?

NOURSE: Yes, I mean, I think that's what's going to happen. But the problem is the whole framing around official immunity. That's in a civil case, not a criminal case. So they took Trump's framing of this question and then they're running with it and that is going to cause enormous delay and confusion. They mentioned the state cases in Georgia, in New York. So if I'm a lawyer in those cases, I'm going to bring that up.

So the problem is they had a statesman like option, which is to say the president's not immune and they didn't choose it.

COLLINS: We'll see what this ruling looks like when we actually get it.

Coming up, we're going to go back to Anderson in New York and what we're learning from the transcript, the full quotes of what happened today in that Manhattan courtroom.

John Berman is going to be with us with some of the biggest moments from today's testimony.



COOPER: Moments ago, we received the full transcript from today's hush money trial testimony during our live coverage of the trial. We have a number of reporters providing real time text about what's happening and being said, but the transcripts really give a fuller picture of what occurred.

John Berman joins us now. I know you've been going through them. There's a lot of pages. What stands out?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I've been speed reading, literally. We just got the last bit right here, and there are tears there. One of the things that jumps out to me is how many times David Pecker testified to having conversations specifically with Donald Trump.

It was mostly about Karen McDougal, but there is one point in the transcript where he talked to Trump about Stormy Daniels, and I missed that initially during the day when it happened. And this is part of that cross exam. This is actually during direct.

Josh Steinglass, the prosecutor, said, "Did Mr. Trump contact you in connection with Ms. Daniels appearance on Anderson Cooper?" Pecker says, "Yes, he did." Steinglass, "Can you describe for the jury how that conversation went?" David Pecker says, "When Mr. Trump called me, he said to me the same.

He asked me if I saw the Stormy Daniels interview with Anderson Cooper. I said, "Yes, I did." He said that, "We have an agreement with Stormy Daniels that she cannot mention my name or do anything like this. And each time she breaches the agreement, it's $1 million penalty. And based on the interview with Anderson Cooper, Stormy Daniels owes Donald Trump -- Donald Trump talking about himself -- $24 million." Josh Steinglass says, "That's what Donald Trump told you?" Pecker, "That's what he told me."

COOPER: I mean, Jeff, you recently interviewed Stormy Daniels. Does she -- there is some money she --


TOOBIN: -- it's a desperate problem for Stormy Daniels. When she was represented by Michael Avenatti, of blessed memory, he sued Donald Trump on her behalf for defamation. That case was not only thrown out of court, but the judge in California awarded attorney's fees to Donald Trump because the judge said the case was frivolous.

Those were assessed against the client, Stormy Daniels, not against the lawyer. That debt, which has been multiplying over the years, is currently about $670,000. So Stormy Daniels owes Donald Trump at this moment about $670,000 and has essentially no chance of discharging that debt because it's been appealed and it's been upheld.

This is something that I suspect the Trump's lawyers are going to use when she testifies to talk about her bias and anger. Now, she has lots of things in her favor. She is actually a very good witness. She testified against Michael Avenatti in his criminal trial in Manhattan and the jury clearly believed her.

I mean she is a believable person. But she does have an axe to grind against Donald Trump and that is going to be brought out in front of the jury.

COOPER: I mean it was interesting because Trump also -- Pecker testified that he got an angry call from Trump also about another interview I did which was with Karen McDougal in 2018. Pecker said, "So Mr. Trump said when he called me, he said, "Did you see Anderson Cooper interview with Karen McDougal?" I said, "Yes." He said, "I thought you had -- and we had an agreement with Karen McDougal that she can't give any interviews or be on any television shows."

So I said, "Yes." I said, "We had an agreement by amended it to allow her to speak to the press." Mr. Trump got very aggravated when he heard that I amended it. He couldn't understand why. I said, "Karen had a two-year agreement. She was flooded with requests from the press for interviews. And I amended her agreement at that time."


Trump said, "Well, then you paid her." I said, "Yes, I paid her and amended the agreement." "He was very upset. He couldn't understand why I did it," end quote.

I just want to play what Karen McDougal actually said during the interview.

Or not, we don't have it.

Why would he have amended -- I don't understand why would David Pecker have amended that agreement with Karen McDougal?

TOOBIN: It's not clear to me either. I mean, he had an independent business relationship with Karen McDougal. She was a columnist for one of his outdoor, you know, fitness magazines. He -- I don't know why he wanted to do that. And, obviously, Trump didn't know why either and he was pissed.

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, Anderson, you seem to be pissing off Donald Trump. What's up with that, man, you know?

COOPER: Well, yes.

AIDALA: He's --

COOPER: It's not the first time.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: What I think is also significant about these passages is that it shows direct contact between David Pecker and Donald Trump. And a lot of David Pecker's testimony was going through Michael Cohen. The vast majority of his communications about Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were through Michael Cohen.

But as a prosecutor, you want to be able to point to these exact excerpts and say, Donald Trump himself knew what was going on and was very invested.

BERMAN: Yes. Not just direct conversations, but conversations and statements saying like, we --


BERMAN: -- have an agreement with Stormy Daniels, according to Pecker, which gets to Donald Trump's state of mind that he knew there were these agreements in place.

TOOBIN: And they were for his benefit. And that's the thing, is that one of the issues here is, did Donald Trump think, you know, like, why did these agreements take place? The agreements took place for Donald Trump's benefit to get elected president of the United States. Those quotes which you just read, show that he knew that's why these agreements were in place, and he was angry when he thought they were being violated.

COOPER: Yes. The fact that, I mean, Pecker saying that there was a catch and kill deal with Arnold Schwarzenegger shortly before he ran for governor. He said he testified that he suppressed a story about Rahm Emanuel as a favor to Rahm Emanuel's brother, Ari, who's a big time agent, I guess.

CNN has reached out for comment from them and others mentioned today, I should point that out. Does any of that matter? I mean, what is the significance?

AIDALA: Yes. Well, the significance is, look, there's going to be an underlying current here by the defense of jury nullification. Like, so what, so what. Let's just say everything the prosecutor says is true and they satisfy the elements of the crime, which is crazy crime, but so what. Big deal.

Everyone else is doing it. Everyone's -- and what this case is all about, it's not a crime and figuring out who did it. It's we got this guy here and now we got to figure out what he did to try to convict him.

TOOBIN: You think in a case of this magnitude, a case with all this attention --

AIDALA: All you need is one.

TOOBIN: -- the jury --

AIDALA: All you need is one. All you need is one.

TOOBIN: But the jury is going to say, well, we think --

AIDALA: All you need is one.

TOOBIN: -- we think he's guilty, but we're going to just find him not guilty anyway.

AIDALA: Do you -- are you kidding me?

TOOBIN: I mean, come on.

AIDALA: You don't think there's someone who could be so annoyed that a guy who's running for president of the United States is sitting there for six or eight weeks when he should be out doing something, fundraising, campaigning, or golfing with people who matter. And they're holding -- you don't think there's one or two people out there like, this was totally a crime. That's a BS little crime and they just did this to keep him off, that's election interference.

COOPER: Well, here's the things out.

AIDALA: You're maybe one person who does that. I think you're mistaken.

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL, JAN. 6TH COMMITTEE: Yes. I think in any trial, there could always be one person. But I think what's more likely is that people are going to be offended. That in an election that's supposed to be about the will of the people, they're not getting all the information about the candidates. And I think that's what the prosecution is going to keen on.

We can talk about this like it's not the big crime and what's not, but I think what they've effectively done is showed that Donald Trump thought this was important. The chance of him running the free world. That when he was attacking his other candidates like Ted Cruz, he thought this was so important that he should drag them down.

So I think, yes, there's always a concern about jury nullification. But his defense lawyers cannot argue that. You are not permitted to argue to the jury that they should not follow the law. And what the judge told them at the start is that you are obligated to follow the law.

AIDALA: No. But what you say, this is what I think --

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: That's what he told them.

AIDALA: OK, and you know what I tell them? I say, he's a justice of the Supreme Court. This says justice, but you know who determines what justice is in this courtroom? The 12 of you. You determine what justice dictates. You determine what's the outcome of this case.

COOPER: These are the law that also raised affections --

AIDALA: No, no, that the defense jury doesn't say that.

COOPER: Yes. It does also raise questions about what other secrets does Donald Trump have, business related, whatever, that might compromise him in office. I mean, if he's walking down in the White House chatting with David Pecker, and we think he's doing the people's business but he's actually doing hush money business.

I mean aren't there all sorts of questions, like, how else is he potentially compromised?


AIDALA: But can't you say that about everyone? Bill -- about Bill Clinton? You couldn't say that about Bill Clinton, who I think was a great president.

COOPER: Certainly, he did get a lot of other things on his mind. I don't know that, you know, every politician is like that. I don't know.

AIDALA: Well, not every politician, but I think when you're at that level, and to get to that level, yes, there's always something in your background. I don't think Stormy Daniels is probably the worst thing Donald Trump ever did. I agree, there's probably a lot more stuff he needed to cover up than this. But this is the issue of the moment.

COOPER: Coming up next, we'll take a short break from this story to bring you my conversation today with the parents of Hersh Goldberg- Polin, an American-Israeli who's been a hostage in Gaza going on 202 days. His parents had not gotten any word whether he was alive or not. They knew his left hand had been blown off, part of his left arm.

Finally, they got a proof of life video that was just released yesterday. I'm going to talk to them about it, next.


COOPER: For more than six months, Jonathan Polin and Rachel Goldberg have lived as best they can in a nightmare, hoping that their son, Hersh, who was abducted by gunmen last October 7th during the Hamas terror attack, was still alive. Their last images of him were from this video, retrieved from the body cam or phone of a gunman.

Hersh, his left hand and part of his arm had been blown off, likely by a grenade, being forced into the back of a truck. I was initially shown this video by an Israeli soldier, and I recorded it. Jon and Rachel had not seen the video when I happened to interview them a couple of days later. Realizing it was their son I'd seen, I called them after the interview and I then sent them this video.

It was the first time they saw their son being taken. They later decided to make it public so people could see what Hamas did to their child and so many other innocent people.

We've been talking with Jon and Rachel ever since as they waited for word, any word of their son. Yesterday, they got it. A hostage video. We're only showing a frame of it. Unclear when it was made. Seems recently, but his wound appears to have healed and he is alive.


On it, he -- or was alive at least when this was made. On it, he said he loves his parents and he misses them. I spoke with Jon and Rachel earlier today.


COOPER: Rachel and Jon, thank you so much for talking to us. How did you learn about this video? Did you know it was about to come out?

JON POLIN, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSICAL FESTIVAL: We knew that it was about to come out maybe 45 minutes before it came out. I got a call from -- there was representation from the U.S. and from Israel on the line saying, we haven't seen it, we don't know what it is, but there is a video coming out on Telegram and that's how we found out. And then we saw it when the rest of the world saw it.

COOPER: I -- what was that like?

RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AT ISRAELI MUSICAL FESTIVAL: You know, it's actually interesting that you're asking this because I think that it was a lot like when we saw the video that you shared with us, although for us now, it was, you know, after 201 days. I mean, we were sobbing tears and emotional, overwhelmed. Feelings were just abounding.

We weren't even listening to what he was saying, just hearing his voice and seeing him moving. And that he was alive was, you know, like my heart started racing and we were just, you know, sobbing.

POLIN: I would say that it was hopeful. We've had hope because we have to for 202, yesterday, 201 days. But there's still something about seeing and hearing your loved one for the first time in so long mixed with concern. Which is to say that we parents know our kids best.

And we know what Hersh looks like. And not only is his arm missing, which we've known about since we got your video on day 10 or 11, but he doesn't look great. Coloring is off, but you'd expect that after 200 plus days in a tunnel, but he looks a little bit puffy.

His face, his neck, his shoulders could be due to a number of factors. But, there's mixed, mixed emotions here. It lights a fuel -- it lights a fire under us even more than we've already had to bring him and the other 132 hostages home as fast as we can. COOPER: You know, from the earliest days that we have all talked with each other, you know, you had told me when we sat down in Jerusalem in your house that, you know, doctors had reached out to you saying that the wounds that they saw in the video looked treatable and that that gave you hope.

And then even months later, you know, you heard from veterinarians when word got out that another hostage had been treated by veterinarians. You -- veterinarians reached out to you to say, you know what, don't worry about that because actually, a vet could even work on Hersh's hand and it would be OK.

I mean, when I saw this, I looked at the video and not so much to hear what he said, but more to see how he was. And you could tell the -- that wound seems to have healed.

GOLDBERG: Yes. I mean, we did hear from many surgeons explaining that it's healing well, but that they were explaining what the next steps are. That he needs to have treatment the sooner, the better in terms of permanent nerve damage, in terms of getting a prosthesis that will, you know, behave the way it's supposed to.

You have to have certain stimulation, rehabilitation done as soon after the amputation is possible, which obviously this has been a huge delay in treatment. So we are concerned about that, but, you know, he's alive. And there are so many families that don't have that proof that we just feel very blessed that we got that.

COOPER: And to hear him say, you know, mom and dad, to hear him say, you know, your daughter's names, that must have just been incredible.

GOLDBERG: Well, it's interesting because, you know, we never use Hebrew with our kids. So it was kind of like, you know, kissing someone through a veil because that's not the language that we use at home, but it's his voice. And we appreciated that message at the end that you're describing when he talks directly to us.

And the message was very clear, and I don't know, you know, how -- who scripted it, or, you know, where it was coming from but I'll take it.


COOPER: He also --

POLIN: We certainly paid attention, Anderson, to the first two minutes and 15 seconds of the video. Maybe somebody else scripted it. Maybe it's Hersh's words. I don't think so. Doesn't even matter.

I've just was immediately grabbed by those last 30 seconds and touched by it, obviously, and sending all of the same sentiments right back at Hersh, hoping that he hears and knows and sees that we love him and we miss him. And we are working to get him home as fast as we can, just as he said in the video.

COOPER: Well, the other thing that really struck me about what he said is that he said -- and I'm not quoting directly, but, you know, I know you -- I know you've been doing everything you can. And --

GOLDBERG: And he said, you stay strong for me. And it was just interesting because as you know, I've probably said a million -- over a million times at this point, over these 202 days, I love you, stay strong, survive. I love you, stay strong, survive.

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

COOPER: You and your family just celebrated Passover this week. I mean, it's a celebration of freedom of hope that no matter how dark things get, there is a way out. Did, I mean, did -- how was this Passover?

GOLDBERG: Well, Passover is actually a week long, but the first two days when you're outside of Israel, you do a Seder dinner. When you're in Israel, you do just one night of Seder dinner, and we were very nervous going into this dinner because as you said, it's normally a commemoration of the Jewish people leaving captivity, leaving Egypt and going on to be a free people.

And the idea that we were going to celebrate freedom when our entire being and soul and heart is being held captive just felt perverse. It was not a celebration of freedom. It was a plea and beseeching of asking for freedom for Hersh and the other 132 hostages.

POLIN: Families of hostages don't need any reminder ever of the fact that we are dealing with real people, but maybe the world needs that reminder. Maybe the negotiators sitting in rooms need that reminder. And if this video plays one small piece in reminding the negotiators that you are dealing with real human beings with aspirations and families who love them and are working every day to bring them home, maybe that's a little bit of good that comes out of this for the process.

GOLDBERG: Today was a milestone, you know. 17 of the 25 nations that have citizens who are still being held in Gaza in captivity, along with Hersh, signed a joint statement demanding for the release of their people. And the truth is, it shouldn't take that, but we're glad that it happened.

That people are -- that country's leaders are starting to galvanize and say, this is absolute insanity. It's been over half a year. These people need to come home. And especially, we believe that that would be a real diffusion of such tremendous tension that we have throughout the region right now.

COOPER: And those six words, Rachel, that you always say which is I love you, stay strong, survive, I keep thinking about that over and over in my head. I mean, what more is there to say that's it says it all.

GOLDBERG: Yes. And I really, you know, we have hundreds of thousands of people who reach out to us. It is truly empowering. They're all different types of people from all different backgrounds, from all different places on Earth. And they say we are saying that to him.

And I don't know how the universe works. But he might hear you. So you should really try to say it too.

COOPER: I love you, stay strong, survive.

Rachel Goldberg, Jon Polin, thank you.

GOLDBERG: Thanks, Anderson.

POLIN: Thank you.


COOPER: A lot more in the next hour on the two big legal stories of the day. We're continuing to go through the batch of court transcripts we've just gotten in the Trump hush money trial.


And Kaitlan's back from Washington with an interview with one of the former president's attorneys who was at the Supreme Court this morning for oral arguments.


COOPER: 9:00 p.m. at the end of a historic day here in New York where the former president is on trial for what he allegedly did to become president.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And here in Washington, Anderson, history was being made as well in a Supreme Court case which flows from his scheme to remain in office and his claim that he should not be held criminally accountable for that.

I'm joined tonight by one of the attorneys representing Donald Trump in the immunity case before the Supreme Court, Will Scharf, who is at today's Supreme Court oral arguments. I should note, he is also running for Missouri Attorney General. We're not going to get into that tonight.

It's great to have you here. You were sitting in the second seat as these arguments were playing out today. I heard something today that I had never heard from your team before, which was John Sauer saying that, yes, some of the allegations in Jack Smith's indictment are indeed private acts. What led to the change from your team?