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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Former Trump Aide Hope Hicks In Hush Money Trial; Hope Hicks Gets Emotional, Cries On The Stand In Hush Money Trial; Judge To Trump: Gag Order Doesn't "Prevent You From Testifying In Any Way"; Hope Hicks Gets Emotional, Cries In The Stand In Hush Money Trial. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 03, 2024 - 20:00   ET


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: And I really relate to that beautiful community where it's the generosity of strangers at these food pantries that allow for people ...


CAMEROTA: ... to make it through their periods of instability and how important that community is.

BURNETT: Right. The people are buying and providing that food for others in their community.

Alisyn, thank you so much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much, Erin.

BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for joining us. AC360 starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Good evening. Welcome to our continuing special coverage of the Trump New York hush money trial. I was privileged to watch some of day 11 inside the courtroom today. It was both - it was fascinating to see up close.

Hope Hicks, once a top advisor of former president testifying for the prosecution, recounting first the Access Hollywood tape coming out, then the Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal revelations, finishing her direct testimony with a potentially damaging account of what the former president said in retrospect when the Daniels story finally broke in 2018. Then moments later, Hope Hicks started crying.

Hicks in that final answer saying, "It was Mr. Trump's opinion that it was better to be dealing with it now and that it would have been bad to have that story come out before the election." Which could bolster the prosecution case that the former president was motivated by campaign and not necessarily family concerns and suppressing both that and the Karen McDougal stories before the 2016 election.

Under cross examination, though, she did paint her old boss as a family man who was concerned about the impact on his wife. Her testimony and Michael Cohen also provided fodder for both sides, frankly, painting him as someone who would sometimes, in her words, go rogue, but also casting doubt on the defense theory that Cohen paid off Stormy Daniels on his own initiative.

In general, the picture she painted was a hands on Donald Trump, deeply involved in the details of his business and his campaign, motivated largely by political considerations and that he was fully aware of what the payment to Stormy Daniels had bought him in 2016.

We've just gotten the full trial transcript from today, including the context of Hope Hicks' final answer to the prosecution question about what then-President Trump said in 2018 when news of the Daniels payout finally broke.

And I'm quoting now from that transcript: "He wanted to know how it was playing, and just my thoughts and opinion about this story versus having the story - a different kind of story before the election had Mr. Cohen not made that payment."

Joining us once again tonight, New York defense attorney Arthur Aidala, CNN's Laura Coates, who was also in the court for - today particularly for that moment, CNN's Abby Phillip and Kaitlan Collins, also former Trump White House communications director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, and CNN's Kara Scannell, who was also in court throughout today.

Kara, let's start with you.

I mean, it is fascinating - this is my first time and you've been in there every day and in the overflow room as well. To see it all up close, what was your sense on how things went with Hope Hicks today?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean, I think she gives something to both sides, something to work with there. But I thought it was very interesting that her testimony is as she's recounting this, she is taking jurors inside the campaign and into some memorable moments, walking into the glass conference room where she's discussing the Access Hollywood tape with Donald Trump right when she found out that it happened. Also take them onto a plane when Trump was speaking at a campaign rally and she was contacted by the Wall Street Journal. They were going to go public with their story just four days before the election, saying that AMI had paid off Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

So she's giving the jury memorable moments that usually underscore some credibility there because the person is remembering a moment in time where they were. And what she was also saying about Michael Cohen, that she didn't think that he would behave the way that Donald Trump was telling her, that he did this essentially out of the kindness of his heart.

But she did also give Trump's side something. She was very complimentary to him. She ...

COOPER: She went out of her way to be complimentary, calling him a great businessman.

SCANNELL: Saying there was no better messenger than him, no better brand person than him, but all the while never making eye contact with him, keeping her eyes locked on the prosecutor or looking at the jury to speak.

COOPER: The moment she walked in, because I was there for the first part, for the moment she walked in, she did not look at the defense table at all. And we should point out she was there under subpoena.

SCANNELL: Yes. She was there under subpoena and you could see when she walked in the room, she had her hand in a tight ball of a fist. She was clearly so uncomfortable. And she even interrupted her own testimony in the beginning to say that she was surprised by the sound of her own voice in the microphone, like really just uncomfortable about being there.

COOPER: She said that she was very nervous and they suggested that she sit closer to the microphone. And once she - my understanding was - I mean, from sitting there, is once she actually could hear herself in the microphone, it seemed to help her in a way. She said to the jury, oh, now I can hear myself now. I sort of, I apologize for my nervousness, essentially.

SCANNELL: Yes. And I mean, we were talking before, she was touching her hair, touching her face, just a lot of nervous kind of tics to show that she was uncomfortable sitting there, even as she's saying some things that are helpful to Donald Trump.


The prosecution ended their - her testimony with that line that you just read, talking about how Trump had said in 2018, he was happier to deal with these stories than he would have been if it was before the election.

COOPER: So Laura, you were there for that moment and then she started to cry. Explain what happened.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: So this was right in the moment between the direct examination ending and then the cross beginning. That's when Emil Bove got up. It wasn't immediately clear the weight of that particular statement because she'd given other statements before to articulate that he was a family man. He was concerned about his wife. There was at least one point where she described that she - he did not want his wife to have the newspapers delivered to their residents in light of the bad coverage, which of course makes you think so the lion gets up in the morning and she's reading the newspaper, so that's what he was concerned.

And that he was concerned about that. He valued her opinion, all these different things and then this moment hit. And then there was kind of the transition between counsel when she began to be answered questions with someone else. And then her body just changed. She's already very soft spoken. I had not seen her in person, had not heard her speak. She did fidget quite a bit with her necklace, with her earrings, with almost like a nervous tic touch her hair a lot.

But her body language, even at that point, exponentially got more uncomfortable. And she began to have a shaky voice. Her lip was quivering. Her chin was as well. And then she's going to turn to her face for a second and began to have her voice break. At which point Emil Bove kind of holds his hands up for a second, just over - almost like a, I - I'm not sure what's just happened in this moment and she begins to sort of cry.

And then he says, do you need a minute. And she turns her whole body away. And I remember Trump's over here. The jury's over here and she's turning her body towards the jury to realize they can still see her. And she's turning even more to contort herself. At which point she says, yes, I do. And she's visibly crying now.

And there's a tissue box behind her. There's a bailiff next to her. And the courtroom is kind of trying to figure out in this moment, what was the initial trigger? Now there's the two schools of thought, either some would say she must have understood the weight of her testimony.

Others can say, do you know - when you're talking to the prosecution and you're at the prosecution's witness, they're friendly to you. They are - they have prepped you in some way, not to lie, but to prep you to prepare you for this moment. They've talked to you through your nerves. So they're kind of your friendly person.

When the defense counsel gets up to then cross-examine you and their client is Donald Trump, a man that you've called a master communicator, somebody that you are probably well afraid of their ability to make sure that someone knows your full history. I think the weight of the combination was what may have combined to have her be overwhelmed.

COOPER: You should point out though, that she's not a prosecution witness or do you believe she's a prosecution witness wholeheartedly? She's there under subpoena.


COOPER: A lot of the words she was using to describe her reactions, I thought were conservative. She used the word concerned. When the - what was her response when she first got The Washington Post reporter?

COATES: Concerned, yes.

COOPER: She said, oh, I was concerned. It's a little bit more than concerned, but that was the word she was using. I thought that's a conservative word to use.

COATES: You're right to say it. I mean, I think people have the impression every time a witness goes on the stand that you're either going to be the attack dog and bulldog or you're going to be the shrinking violet. Every witness has a role to play, and sometimes it's just to move the story along and bridge the gap between the catch-and- kill and the campaign.

COOPER: I mean, this ...

COATES: That was her role. COOPER: This is a multi - I mean, there's a lot of emotion in her relationship and you know this better than anybody, Alyssa, with her emotion - in her relationship with Donald Trump. This is a man who - she was four years out of college when she started working for the Trump organization.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. What you have to understand about Hope Hicks, and having had some time to digest this testimony, there is nowhere on the planet she wanted to be less than where she was today. She did not want to be testifying against a boss that she clearly still holds in very high regard. She's still incredibly close with his family.

She - I mean, in listening to her answers and reading the transcript back, I think she was as gracious as she could be about him, as effusive as she could be, while still being honest and truthful about the facts. So this kind of - the stark moment was when she acknowledged that he basically said it's better that it didn't happen during the campaign. That's probably the hardest piece of evidence she gave against Donald Trump, but there was a ton in there for the defense, and I think that was by design.

And the fact that Trump acknowledged her when she left was sort of this, she did well by Donald Trump.

COOPER: I think it's easy for people who have never testified in a trial to say, oh, she was crying because of the statement she made, and then she realized the impact of that statement. I mean, I've testified in a trial of a stalker against me, and I found myself choking up on the stand totally unexpectedly like as much as you are prepared to testify at a trial, it's - when you're sitting there and there's a jury there and it's personal stuff, it's very hard. I mean, Arthur, you must see this all the time.

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I was a witness recently and it was weird, it was against a client. But to your point, as much as with public speaking, right, so how can Anderson Cooper get nervous being a public speaker in a courtroom? But ...

COOPER: It's a completely different situation.

AIDALA: Correct. Absolutely.


When you raise your right-hand - but from a legal point of view, and I don't know if this is true or not, there is nothing stopping Trump's attorneys to having spoken to Hope Hicks. In other words, she's under subpoena from the prosecutor's office, but it's absolutely appropriate for them to call her up and say, hey, I'm Susan Necheles, you know who I am. Can I talk to you about your testimony? That's nothing - that's not unethical, that's not improper.

I don't know if that happened or not, but she clearly was not there to hurt Donald Trump. She was there to do what she had to do. And yet, there is the weight of the world on you when you're - and the whole world is watching.


COATES: Every time she talked, every time she talked, you heard like typing ...

COOPER: Well, that's the thing.

COATES: ... like maniacal typing from journalists.

COOPER: That's the thing that - it's so interesting, I'm so glad I was there, and I'm so glad that we have three people who - all of us were there today, because what you don't see until you're sitting in that room or what you don't hear, you don't realize, is we see this on television and we think it's all like we see on television of everybody knows their jobs, but there is emotion there, there is a feeling in the room, and that feeling ebbs and flows.

And when the prosecutor stood up, nobody knew who was going to be called today. And the first early testimony was kind of procedural and not particular - I can understand why some people might fall asleep in the room. And suddenly the prosecutor stood up and just very matter- of-factly said, next witness is Hope Hicks.

There was a - instantly, like an invasion of cicadas in the room, you heard this. You heard an entire gallery full of people, everybody with their laptops, because you're not allowed to have your phone out, suddenly doing this. And it was this - it was incredible and every time there was something significantly - significant that she said during her testimony, you could tell what was significant by the crescendo of this.

AIDALA: And I - let me just say from the ...

COATES: And so could she.


COATES: So could she.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.


AIDALA: But from a lawyer's point of view, when you're sitting there, just because of what is ...

COOPER: Can you hear that?

AIDALA: ... a hundred percent, and so sometimes, you're like, what'd I missed?

COOPER: Right.

AIDALA: I'm sitting there like, why'd he type it? It sounded like a benign answer. COOPER: Because somebody - there was some reporter in the room, I'm not sure who it was - who said, I think said that there was an audible gasp. I didn't hear that in the courtroom, I was - I think I was sitting behind the reporter who said that.


COOPER: It was in the overflow room.

PHILLIP: In the overflow room ...

COOPER: Okay, because there were civilians in the overflow room.

PHILLIP: ... where there were regular people ...


PHILLIP: ... in the overflow room.

COOPER: It was not a gasp ...


COOPER: It was not a gasp (INAUDIBLE) ...

AIDALA: Regular people.

PHILLIP: Ordinary people.

COOPER: Right. There wasn't a gasp inside the courtroom, but what there was, was, I mean, it was incredible. Suddenly everyone was - and when she walked in, I mean, it was just ...



PHILLIP: I mean, one of the other things about Hope Hicks, I cannot get out of my head. She has not talked to Donald Trump in two years.

COOPER: Yes, 2022 she said was the last time.

PHILLIP: It's not - and with Trump people, you have to get used to having multiple things in your brain at the same time. It's a complicated relationship. It doesn't mean that they hate each other or anything like that, but she has not talked to this man in two years, and there she is, sitting in front of him in a courtroom. I also think about all the other times that we've heard about Hope Hicks or seen her, she provided testimony to the January 6th committee, behind closed doors, in a deposition room. We saw the video of it, but she was not before the world, really.

She testified in the Mueller investigation, not before the world. There were so many times when Hope Hicks was at the center of these incredible dramas in Trump world, but never like this. That is so different for her personally, but also for their relationship. And you also think about, in the January 6th context, the parts of her - the evidence that they presented in the hearing that came from her, where she was afraid about her livelihood after January 6th happened.

Things happened between them that they - it sounds like they probably haven't really dealt with. And she - this is yet another thing that she's going to have to once again deal with Donald Trump about at some point.

COOPER: Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE: Well, I think there's a reason that they haven't spoken in those two years. That period that she said today of why that was, that was when the congressional hearings were happening.


COLLINS: That's when we found out that she had spoken to them and you got to actually hear her testimony to them, and you got to read her text. And her text on January 6th were really critical of Trump, saying that he was wiping away everything that they had done. She obviously was in the White House, left, and returned and she was also saying that people who didn't have jobs lined up were now going to be labeled domestic terrorists. They weren't going to be able to get jobs.

It caused a huge break with her and with Ivanka Trump. She doesn't have a good relationship with the Trump family anymore. I don't think they ...

COOPER: And by the way, she started working for the Trump family through Ivanka Trump.

COLLINS: Through Ivanka Trump.

COOPER: That was the initial entry.

COLLINS: Well, when she came back to ...

GRIFFIN: Yes, that's - she's right after January 6th, they did.

COLLINS: When she came back to the White House, she worked - she reported to Jared Kushner. And so she was like a daughter to Donald Trump. I mean, the fact that they haven't spoken in two years is incredibly significant.


She's not coming back to help with his campaign. And I think also, when we talk about what her reaction was in the room, she hasn't seen him in two years. She hasn't been in the same room as him.

I don't think it's that weird that she didn't look at him. I mean, you'd have to really kind of crane your neck to look over, because he's seated to the right of the witness. But it speaks to the break in their relationship, that the first time that they are reunited is in a criminal trial.

COATES: You know what was interesting?

GRIFFIN: Can I ...

COATES: I'm sorry, but I was looking when she started crying. My - maybe I'm nosy, I am, but I immediately wanted to see what Trump would do. And it was that moment when the security sort of cleared away, and I had a clear shot of Donald Trump's face, the side of his profile.

And we looked over, because she then left the stand to walk away from him, kind of adjusting her hair almost as a shield. And she walks over, walks behind him, doesn't make eye contact, but his face is one of concern. His eyebrows were sort of raised towards her, as you would look at somebody, concerned as if to ask, are you okay.

And I thought in that moment, it was an interesting moment, given that it had been two years. He didn't seem like he was looking like almost incredulous that she would have the audacity to have emotion. He seemed as if this was someone he was concerned about in that moment.


GRIFFIN: I was just going to say, everyone in Trump world is expendable with, I would say, Hope Hicks is among the few exceptions. He always had genuine affection for her. I think that seeing her in this position, being reminded of the relationship that broke, I think is very different than virtually any other person who he could easily throw under the bus. There was a real closeness in that relationship.

COOPER: We got to take a quick break. There's something else I want to talk about that really kind of really stunned me in the courtroom today. And also, we'll talk about Hope Hicks' testimony about the Access Hollywood tape coming out before the 2016 election. What candidate Trump told me at the time and what the prosecution hopes to gain from bringing it into their case.

Plus, a jury consultant joins us with his take on what jurors made of Hope Hicks on the stand.



COOPER: In court today, as part of the prosecution's attempt to show then candidate Trump's motivation for paying off Stormy Daniels, Hope Hicks was asked to describe the campaign damage control when news of the Access Hollywood tape first broke, followed by the tape itself. It happened shortly before the presidential debate. It was the second presidential debate. I co-moderated it with ABC's Martha Raddatz. That was back in October of 2016.

During debate prep, the Access Hollywood tape occurred on a Friday. The debate was on a Sunday. When the Access Hollywood tape came out for our debate prep, it completely changed the way we approached this debate. And obviously the first question of the debate became about the Access Hollywood tape. Take a look.


COOPER: We received a lot of questions online, Mr. Trump, about the tape that was released on Friday. As you could imagine, you called what you said locker room banter. You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexual assaulted women.

Do you understand that?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn't say that at all. I don't think you understood what was said.

This was locker room talk. I'm not proud of it. I apologize to my family. I apologize to the American people. Certainly, I'm not proud of it.

But this is locker room talk.

COOPER: Just for the record, though, are you saying that what you said on that bus eleven years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent.

TRUMP: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

COOPER: So, for the record, you're saying you never did that?

TRUMP: I've said things that - frankly you hear these things are said. And I was embarrassed by it. But I have tremendous respect for women.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things ...

TRUMP: And women have respect for me.

And I will tell you, no, I have not.


COOPER: I should point, this was a town hall debate, that was the format. So there was actually an audience question, which began the debate. And then as soon as, I was able to ask question, that was the first question for me, the moderator.

Back now with the panel starting with Kara Scannell who's on transcript duty tonight.

Let me just jump in. One thing that really stood out to me today is just how alone Donald Trump is in that room. I mean, for a guy who is surrounded by people all the time, he walks in, there's no - there was - I mean, I know Eric Trump was there one day, I think it was last week. There's no family with him. Boris Epshteyn was with him, but sitting two rows back. He had two Secret Service agents, I think, sitting behind him. But they were not in control of that room. The court officers were very much in control of that room, and it's the court officers who are behind - directly behind him and around him and control everything in that room.

SCANNELL: Yes. I mean, those court officers are protecting that walkway that separates where all of us are sitting and Donald Trump. And the Secret Service, they're seated with their earpieces, but it's the security officers of that court that are really running things.

It always strikes me, every time they have a sidebar at the bench, how Donald Trump is sitting by himself at the defense table.

COOPER: Yes, it's stunning to see.

SCANNELL: It really just gives this sense of loneliness.

COOPER: And he's sort of slumped over sometimes with his legs sticking out and legs crossed. He's just this - and when you see him from behind he's got sort of that distinctive haircut and you'd see him from - it's like watching - I mean, the thing that came to mind was like watching later day Elvis in Vegas, like, from the back. He's just this guy with his, like, duckbill haircut sitting there. It's fascinating.

SCANNELL: Yes. And there's nothing he can do. So he - the most he does is send notes to his lawyers and then shift in his chair. But he really, at times, amongst some reporters, we joke he looks like a potted plant because he can't do anything and he's not really reacting in any way.

AIDALA: So, to that point, when we tried the Weinstein case and that same situation that you're talking about, the sidebar, and the defendant is there all alone, and the jurors just - and look, as a good defense - any good defense attorney does, like, you tell your client, they are watching your every move.

And what - Harvey started writing a movie, legitimately. I'm not joking. I mean, it was - we were there for, I don't know, four to six weeks. And so he just had this binder. And so he just - the whole time he was writing and it wasn't about the case.

COOPER: Well, let me ask you about the ...

AIDALA: Though he was, like, writing a movie while we were sitting there.

COOPER: ... the Weinstein case came up before the jury came in the room today in the early - in the morning. Todd Blanche actually brought up the Weinstein case. He was - Todd Blanche was trying to get some evidence that the prosecution wanted in.


He was trying to get it not allowed in. And he referenced the Weinstein ruling to Judge Merchan, sort of saying we think you should reconsider this in light of the Weinstein ruling. And Judge Merchan said to Todd Blanche, I've looked at that ruling. They didn't make any new law. I've considered all the underlying laws involved here and I'm sticking with my ruling. But it was interesting that that - you were - you defended Harvey Weinstein in that case, that it was brought into the courtroom today.

AIDALA: Well, it's accurate when Judge Merchan said the court of appeals did not make any new law. The person who tried to make new law was the trial judge, by allowing in all this evidence that should not have been allowed in, based on over a hundred years of precedent. So I knew the whole time when the Weinstein case was pending and then when it came out, that Judge Merchan was going to study that.

And he did, obviously. And look, it's a balancing test. The bottom line is, it's in the discretion of the trial judge as to whether, if the defendant testifies, what evidence would come in is probative of a particular issue, a material issue in the case. And whether that probative value outweighs the prejudice to the defendant. There's obviously going to be some prejudice to the defendant, because you're bringing up another bad act.

But it's a balancing test and I don't think Judge Merchan's ruling was - even before the court of appeals came down with the Weinstein ruling - was so out of control. I think it was (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: Well, that's interesting. The one thing is, again, from the first time I've been in the courtroom to actually observe this judge. And having heard everything that the former president has said about this judge, I mean, I'd be interested to hear from Laura, you've been in front of a lot of judges.

I was surprised, you know, given what Donald Trump has said about how crazy he is, and how - I mean, he listened to everything - every argument Todd Blanche made about what evidence, what each piece of evidence he didn't want submitted. He queried the prosecution of, well, why do you want this. And he basically split it down the middle on many things. Many - he would agree with the defense not to allow certain things in there that the prosecution wanted, and he would get them to strike other things and not submit the full piece of evidence.

COATES: In terms of how he appeared in the courtroom, I mean, a good judge presiding over a case does not think they're the prosecutor or the defense or the witness or anyone else. They're almost camouflaged. Their job is only to be involved when they are invited into the conversation through the objection process.

And when that would happen, if there was an objection, he wouldn't make a big deal. He would just simply overruled. (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: I really wish there were cameras in this courtroom ...


COOPER: ... so everybody could see just how this - I mean, don't you agree?

SCANNELL: Yes. I think it's important to understand from the public the testimony coming in, the judge, how he's handling this, because there have been different judges handling a lot of Trump's civil cases, and there - you do get a sense of how they handle it. Judge Merchan is very even-keeled, and they're following the rules that he set out. He said no speaking objections.

So everyone is played by the rules. That's why you don't hear a lot of this extraneous or inflammatory argument. No one is campaigning from the podium. He's really got this trial under control and is keeping it moving.

COLLINS: He's also made a lot of good-faith efforts to make sure Trump knows fully what he - what's happening and to keep him apprised, including when that moment last night that we were talking about where Trump said that he could not testify because of the gag order. Notice - I don't think it was taken live on any of the networks, but Trump, before he entered the courtroom today, clarified that the gag order - he said it prevented him from speaking about the case but not testifying.

And then he walks in that courtroom seconds later, and the judge goes out of his way to say, by the way - which the judge has never commented on anything Donald Trump has said outside of that courtroom except for in the gag order violation hearing. And he said, by the way, you can testify despite this gag order.

COOPER: But he did it in a way that was really fascinating to me, because that was right in the morning before the jury came in, before anybody came in. He said, by the way, I think there's been - maybe a misunderstanding - I'm paraphrasing - I think there's been a misunderstanding. I just want to make sure your client knows that it is absolutely his right, he can testify, nothing in the gag order - and he went on in a very sort of pleasant way. It was just - I thought it was a very interesting way.

COLLINS: He says good morning to Mr. Trump every morning.

COOPER: Yes. Yes.

COLLINS: I mean, he - and good afternoon, as Kara noted. I mean, he is very - he's not bending over backwards, I wouldn't say. He's not - he doesn't seem effusive or anything, but he's really polite to Donald Trump and very professional.

PHILLIP: Trump also attacked him again today, saying that he was trying to introduce salacious things into the hearings. I mean, I don't really know what he was referring to, but Trump is going to continue to attack this judge no matter what. And Judge Merchan is, it seems to me, very aware of Trump trying to use him as a foil and is trying to not give him reason to do that.

It seems to me both from a - this is a case that's being watched for the whole country, but even from a legal perspective, the idea that a defendant might not know - I mean, whether Trump was lying or not, willfully lying or not - the idea that he might not know that he could testify makes sense to me that the judge would want to make sure that he understands he's got the same rights everybody else does to testify if he wants to.


COATES: I mean, I think Trump was like, he knows there's the testimony and then there's I'm going to testify in front of the cameras on the record. What he was doing was trying to testify in front of the camera about things. But the judge gave him a heck of a ruling today at the end just to ask him, there was a Sandoval hearing, a fancy way of saying, I'm going to put you on notice for anything I intend to bring up and cross examine you want, if and if you testify. One of those things they wanted to add on was the recent contempt gag order violations. They wanted to say, Judge, we want this jury to know about what you have ruled recently on the nine of the 10 things.

And this judge listened to Todd Blanche, who said, Your Honor, this would be hugely prejudicial, these jurors come in every single day, they look at you for the reasons you articulated, Anderson, composed and charge the courtroom, somebody who they're respecting, you're there every single day, and you're going to give them the news that you don't like him all of a sudden, he said, I agree. It's (inaudible).

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's worse than you know, like, if you've already convicted him of crimes.


AIDALA: It's even more -- no, and that was the total right ruling and just, Anderson, of the three cases with the -- with judges, the federal case with E. Jean Carroll, the attorney general in New York case, and this case, by far, he is getting the best trial, the most fair trial with Judge Merchan.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And I got to say, just watching the jury today, I mean, they are paying attention. I've testified in front of juries and looked at the, like, two jurors, and some of them looked like they just did not want to be there and weren't even paying attention and it's really deflating when you're testifying to it. But they -- all of them were watching and paying close attention. Some taking notes as fast --

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE: Sorry, you're not a former president.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even during the computer forensics.

COOPER: Yes, exactly. Stay with us. Coming up more on the impact of Hope Hicks' testimony, jury consultant joins us to discuss her credibility as a witness and how the jury might interpret her cry. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Want to talk more about what was probably the most memorable moment from today's testimony. Hope Hicks, the top aide to candidate and then President Trump crying right after the prosecution finished and justice cross examination began even before her testimony began, she looked visibly uncomfortable when she came into the witness box in the morning telling the court, quote, "I'm really nervous." Joining us to talk about the impact of our testimony is Renato Stabile an attorney as well as a jury and trial consultant.

I'm wondering what you make of how Hope Hicks did particularly the -- her crying, how that might have played with the jury.

RENATO STABILE, JURY AND TRIAL CONSULTANT: Yes. Look, I mean, it's never good for an attorney when the witness starts to cry. But I don't think a Emil Bove really did anything. I mean, she's under a lot of pressure, she's under a lot of stress, it was just a natural moment. It wasn't something that was elicited because of any questioning.

So, I don't think it's really going to have a big impact on anything.

COOPER: If a witness cries versus a defendant, it's probably a very different thing.

STABILE: Yes, I mean, depending. I mean, some defendants do break down and cry. You know, Kyle Rittenhouse, for example, took the stand and he was very emotional. And that obviously had a major impact on the jury. I mean, I don't think you're going to see Donald Trump taking the stand and crying necessarily.

But I think people sympathize with Hope Hicks. I think she came across very credible. I thought that was a very natural moment for her. And it wasn't contrived at all. And it was just the pressure of the moment.

AIDALA: Renato, why do you think it's a problem if a defense attorney cross examines a prosecution witness and brings them to tears?

STABILE: Because you look like a bully, right?

AIDALA: How about you caught them in so many lies that they break it down on the stand?

STABILE: Well, you know --

AIDALA: You're breaking their constitutions.

STABILE: -- it depends on who --

AIDALA: Taking them out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't make him cry right now.

STABILE: Do you want to go bulldog on Hope Hicks? No, of course not. If it's somebody appropriate, right, maybe a David Pecker. Michael Cohen, if he starts crying, fine, that'll be totally -- I mean, they would love that. But you know, you have to pick your moments.

And a witness like Hope Hicks, who obviously she's there under subpoena, she doesn't want to be there. She's being kind of forced to be there. You can't go after Hope Hicks. COOPER: It's also very interesting, you know, you had talked about strategies of defense attorneys and prosecutors about when they put a witness on right before the weekend. Who do you put on so that -- you know, do you put on somebody that you want the jury to think about all weekend? I mean, the jury has a lot to think about this weekend. I mean, they --

AIDALA: Well, here's a relatively short witness. My point was yesterday, hypothetically, let's just say they did all direct today and a little bit of a cross. I mean, and so there's been plenty of times where I have tapped and talked about being in the theater at the end of the day on a Friday, or at the end of the day, in any day to give me overnight to prepare my cross examination for the next morning. The biggest tool the prosecutor has in their toolbox is the element of surprise. Most of the time, I don't know what their witnesses going to say, exactly.

Maybe I have some grand jury minutes. But you know, it's different when they're on the stand. So if you could get overnight or over a weekend, but here, she kind of fang (ph) it out. And I think it probably was good for the prosecution the way it left off and they went into the weekend the way they did.

COATES: Wasn't there a missed opportunity in your mind that -- I mean, I -- there -- obviously you never want to ask a question that you don't know the answer to. But I was surprised that the defense counsel did not move away, did not get insight as to why she was emotional. It could have gone one of two directions. It could have endeared him to the jury, because he's now concerned that she just had to leave the courtroom because she was overwhelmed. And then the other side whether there could have been maybe she wouldn't have been favorable as in, you know what, I really don't want to be here, I respect him so much.

I just thought I -- this is the last place I want to be. It was like just out there for the jury to speculate as to what happened.

STABILE: Yes, you're right. I mean, I think the problem was he didn't know what she was going to say. And you're absolutely right. You never want to ask a question that you don't know the answer to.

But look, I think she was really a mixed bag. I don't think she was totally credible. She didn't seem to have an agenda for either side. But there were good things for the prosecution. There were good things for the defense. Net-net, I think she's better for the defense.


AIDALA: Yes. Because she made Michael Cohen sound like a schmuck. And Anderson, you know, it's one thing to have a cooperator on the stand who's got some kind of history, some kind of baggage. But it's another thing where every prosecution witness so far has thrown Michael Cohen under the bus.

And to be able to stand up in summation and be like, you don't have to trust me, in my opinion. But Peter (ph) said this, that one said this, Hope said this, these are their witnesses. These are no witnesses. These are (inaudible) witnesses.

PHILLIP: But I will say that she made Michael Cohen sound like a schmuck was good for the prosecution. She said, there's no way Michael Cohen would have, out of the goodness of his heart, done this. It had to have been done because he was doing it for his boss with his -- I mean, that was the strong implication in that piece of testimony, which I think, Michael -- she was clear, he's -- he is not a reliable person, he's not a nice person, not a good person, but he would not do this on his own.

COLLINS: Well, her key line was, you know, he liked to call himself a fixer. That was because he broke it first and then he had to go fix it.

AIDALA: That was a grant (ph).

COLLINS: That was a damaging line to him. But the one thing -- the point that she made about the Trump organization and how it ran, I was thinking of 2016 versus 2024 and what this campaign looks like now, it was really just her. She said that -- she was describing the Trump Organization, everyone in a sense reports to Donald Trump that it was run like a small family business. I mean, she drew a lot of direct lines to Donald Trump himself, which I think was notable compared to what it looks like now but saying he was also involved in everything that happened.

COOPER: Right. I mean, in fact, that was in the early part of the morning testimony. And she went out of her way to be very complimentary about he's a great businessman, and you know, great marketer, nobody better knows exactly what he wants to say. And she would run everything through him. And he would just be the one kind of leading the way.

But she described the organization as, you know, this great business, you know, doing -- huge business, great business, but run like a family organization. I mean, it was a tiny organization. I mean, she's saying it's a great business, but it was basically Donald Trump running this whole thing.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP W.H. COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But you do have to wonder, I'm saying if you're the jury, and you've been hearing this constant just salacious things about this man where he sounds like a bit of a pig, the affairs, the, you know, the innuendo there, and you have this buttoned up woman talking about him, really praising him with genuine affection, with a level of emotion, showing gratitude for having kind of brought her up in her career, talking about him with his glowing praise, I think that that's incredibly helpful for the defense. I think they're going to lean into that, the story about Melania Trump. And you know, he didn't want to embarrass his family, he wanted to make his family proud. I don't personally by any of that, but I think a lot of the jurors are going to, oh, she actually sounds better.

COLLINS: Well, he's scared of Melania Trump. So, I think it's more of that than being terrorist (ph). GRIFFIN: But it's a technical matter. Allegedly, she gets all her news on her phone. So I'm not sure this paper would have mattered that much. But it was helpful.

PHILLIP: (Inaudible) outside of the hotel room, no less. I agree with you about just her authenticity. She's not a bitter witness. And the more I reflect on this, I think about how we're going to get to the Michael Cohen's of the world, and he's going to be aggrieved and angry, and there's a clear rift there. And he's going to actually be talking about a lot of the same things that Hope Hicks talked about.

But her testimony being there without all of that baggage, where she's not coming from a place of hate, I think is actually important for the prosecution to have just to have someone there who doesn't hate Donald Trump but just is telling us from a factual perspective, here's what was going on at the time.

COOPER: Renato, you want statement?

STABILE: Yes, no, I totally agree that she did a pretty good job of putting on a character case for Donald Trump, which normally if you're a criminal defendant, and you do that you open the door to bad character, but because she's a prosecution witness, they can't do that. So I thought that was very effective.


STABILE: And I think the other thing, the whole wanting to keep this from Melania, from a legal perspective, that was absolutely critical. You know, that was absolutely critical, because one of the issues and we're still debating like, what's the underlying crime? Nobody seems to know, we're still thinking about that. But if this was a personal payment, as opposed to a payment in furtherance of the campaign, that is huge from a legal perspective. And I believe the law supports that it was a personal payment, quite frankly.

COOPER: Renato Stabile, appreciate it. Thanks, everybody else, stay with us.

Someone else is here who was inside the courtroom today. I was sitting behind her this morning and it is fascinating how she's helping bring this trial to life for Americans. The sketch artists watching her work this morning is just amazing. The king perspective from Christine Cornell next.



COOPER: And welcome back. I had the privilege of being in court today for the morning session. And one of the more fascinating things that I saw was something I did not expect at all. I was actually sitting right behind one of the incredible sketch artists today, actually both of the sketch artists who were -- actually three artists were in the room, transfixed watching their work capturing this historic trial in pastel. Christine Cornell has spent years inside New York courthouses and joins us now.

I was watching you work today and it's fascinating because I mean, you start with sort of with a face or just a sketch and then over minutes you bring this this sketch to life. You're also wearing these like binoculars like a special forces.

CHRISTINE CORNELL, COURTROOM SKETCH TRIAL: No, I'm not. That's Jane who wears them on her head.

COOPER: But you had some sort of binocular contraction.

CORNELL: I have binoculars.


CORNELL: I use them. Yes.

COOPER: So what do you use those for?

CORNELL: To get up close and get the detail because sometimes we're just really catching a little snippet window of, you know, to see. You know, Mr. Trump, especially through all those bodies moving.

COOPER: Right. Because there's a lot of the court officers who are in the way. You can't get a full view of him all the time.

CORNELL: So you want to get as much information as you can like, you know, negative time.

COOPER: Do you -- what is -- what is it like drawing? I mean, every day you are studying this person's face?

CORNELL: I'm getting to where I can draw them from my imagination.

COOPER: Really?

COLLINS: How do you choose which moment?

CORNELL: I know when it's wrong.

COLLINS: How do you choose which moment from the hearing to draw?

CORNELL: I wish I could tell you that I had lots of choices. It's just it's -- you know, it's slim pickings. You know you see through this window, sometimes he just turns in, he's talking to his attorney and you go, oh, got to get it, you know. Sometimes you just have to stare at him, because it's going to be so fast that you have to memorize it and then drew it.


COOPER: Are you paying attention to the actual trial itself?

CORNELL: I'm hearing it all.

COOPER: Yes, of course. CORNELL: I'm hearing, I'm listening to it. But what I'm not doing is what the reporters are doing, which is putting it together and figuring out what the weight of this particular piece of evidence is.

COOPER: You hear all the clicking of the reporters, does that annoy you?

CORNELL: Not in the slightest.



AIDALA: Anderson, if I can just --


AIDALA: -- say, this woman is a legend. I mean, I don't say that lightly. I mean, she's been around and she looks very young, but she did in the court for decades. And she has a lot of power because for a lot of lawyers, like, you only get one big case, right? And this is the thing that she's going to draw, because no cameras in the courtroom typically.

And she's going to give you that moment that's going to live in your law office or your mom's living room forever. And I'm getting a kick, Anderson, actually, out of your enthusiasm.

COOPER: No. I just --

CORNELL: Why? I love it.

AIDALA: You're most enthusiastic, you've been in the courtroom thing.


AIDALA: And I've seen him so many times bring things to life. And as I mentioned, I have more sketches of hers in my house, because but my dad, which she sketched dozens of times and myself, and it's -- she has given --

COOPER: It was fascinating because you sit there and -- what was your colleagues name sitting next to you?



COOPER: Jane. She -- I was closer to her and she had all the pastels laid out. And I was looking at all -- I mean, she had all the colors out there wasn't like sort of a how do you paint Donald Trump because there's not -- some people would think there'd be a lot of orange, but there wasn't orange.

CORNELL: He's human colors, you know? He's not an unusual looking man except for there is a bright yellow that I use when I hit his hair. That is just so much fun. It's really -- yes.

COOPER: His hair seems lighter these days.

CORNELL: It's fading.

COOPER: It's fading.


COATES: I was going to say it's interesting because we -- in most of the country, you know, there are cameras, there are videos, there are photographers, we get one snapshot, but there is such an art that makes it so compelling, we were waiting to see your drawings and your sketches. But I wonder if you can comment on the fact that this is not happening in every courtroom or across the country, it's really an art that is going away more than -- more often than not. Tell me about why it's so important to have it in New York and have it like moments like this?

CORNELL: Well, it protects the defendant. Did see -- it's a little bit of a shield, you know, the presumption of innocence. It's very hard to be stared to have a camera staring you down all the time. Having an artist come and draw you is actually kind of wonderful. I think we add a little bit of lightness to the whole thing and we also bring a lot of humanity to it.

COOPER: I also love that you are first in line and -- like, it's rare artists get a lot of respect in society today. You are first in line you have the best seat in the court. I mean, yes, there's people blocking you, but as far as the gallery goes.

CORNELL: It's necessary.


CORNELL: And we are the eyes, you know?

COOPER: yes.

CORNELL: They do need our work.


PHILLIP: I noticed that. We were just showing it. There's -- I don't know if it's yours, but there was a sketch that had Trump, but then there were the words from the "Access Hollywood" tape, kind of in the background, framing his face. I thought that was just such an interesting choice.

CORNELL: Right. So you can put those elements together.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, talk to me about making --

CORNELL: And get a little drama.

PHILLIP: -- making those choices about if you're going to include words, which ones you choose and how you think through that.

CORNELL: Right, right. And don't fill up the space with the wrong words.


CORNELL: I mean, all those sudden (ph) rights.

PHILLIP: I mean, those are very, very important words.

COOPER: You know, I was watching you drew this, and then all of a sudden you added in that -- the bright yellow on the eyebrows and on the hair.

CORNELL: Yes, it's my friend Jane's.

COOPER: Oh, that's Jane's. OK.

CORNELL: That is Jane's.

PHILLIP: Jane's, yes. Yes.

COOPER: But -- so those lines, those yellows, were they were drawn at the end of it, like --

CORNELL: At the very end.

COOPER: At the very end.

CORNELL: Right, right.

COOPER: I saw her draw them on.

CORNELL: You kind of start with a little bit of just a linear blocking it in and then you build up from the shadow and you add lights and then the highlights are the thing that you add last.

AIDALA: And then, just you know, because we've do this, so then when I call her after the appearance and I'm like, Christine, I really want that, she -- seriously, then she would sometimes, I know you've done this, you're like, Arthur, just sent me a picture yourself that you like the way you look, and then she'll fix a little bit and then she'll add a lot more detail. I'm actually paying for her to frame it and hang it to my office.

CORNELL: I didn't do that.

AIDALA: Yes, well, OK. All right. OK. OK. I haven't been to 14th Street to your studio and been up there and --

CORNELL: Not I. Oh, if you came to my studio then I will always work further on you.


COOPER: But you sketch -- I mean, you sketch -- AIDALA: Not many times.

COOPER: You've sketched Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, John Gotti, you've sketch -- I mean, has there been -- John Edwards -- has there been a trial that really stuck out in your mind? Or is there been a moment in a trial where what is being discussed really grabs your attention or makes you emotional?


CORNELL: Absolutely. You want my most poignant experiences --

COOPER: Yes, yes.

CORNELL: -- ever in court?

COOPER: Yes. Because I mean, you're human. You're listening to all of this and the compounded weight of that.

CORNELL: OK, I'll tell you one story.


CORNELL: This was from Cosby, a few years ago. And there was this young woman who was describing, you know, being 17 years old, she didn't drink, he gave her some white wines and you don't drink have some white wine, next thing, you know, she's in and out of consciousness. And she's having these sort of little flash memories, you know, which are graphic, right, head to toe, toe to toe, you know? And she started -- she's crying at this point. And she said, you remember, don't you Mr. Cosby. And that was just such a jaw dropping moment in the courtroom where the witness directly addressed the defendant --


CORNELL: -- in such a, you know, incredible way.

COOPER: Yes. Christine Cornell, such a --


COOPER: -- joy and honor.

CORNELL: Yes, see, you ask me questions, you get it.

COOPER: I love it. I want to -- I want to -- yes, I want you to draw me someday. But I don't want to do something to make you draw me. I'm too boring.

We'll be back with more reaction as the book closes on week three of Donald Trump's hush money trial.