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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Guilty On All Counts; 1st Former U.S. President Convicted Of A Crime; Manhattan D.A. On Trump Conviction: "I Did My Job"; Biden After Verdict: Trump Can Only Be Defeated At The Ballot Box; Trump Guilty On All 34 Felony Counts, Sentencing July 11. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 20:00   ET



SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I will say this, there's no chance the Republican Party is going to walk away from Donald Trump here and I think all of this is going to get the crowd as whipped up as possible heading into the convention. I guess I'll just call it on the air. I would keep it the way it is and roll into the convention and say, you got to save me, and I think that's what Republicans will respond to.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I'll give you the final word, Alyssa. How do you think Trump will see it?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, he's going to keep the convention and he's going to use it as rocket fuel to energize his base, but don't know how it plays with swing voters.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. And thanks to all of you for being with us for this special coverage on this historic day here in New York. Our breaking news coverage continues now with AC360.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Donald Trump is a convicted felon 34 times over. Good evening from outside the courthouse in lower Manhattan where it all happened just about three hours ago. There simply is no overstating what happened. In the entire history of this country and of the American presidency, not one president or former president has ever been tried or convicted of anything, let alone multiple felonies.

Today, a jury of 12 New Yorkers supplied that dubious distinction. This is their verdict sheet, guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment to an adult film star made right before the 2016 election. Convicted with the 2024 election fast approaching, the 45th president of the United States, running to be the 47th.

Now, back at the gilded skyscraper he built, that's him arriving back there where he once lived, worked, and sought out the headlines. Facing tonight headlines that no one with his title or self-image ever has. In a moment, we'll talk with presidential historian Doris Kearns

Goodwin. But first, CNN Political Analyst and New York Times senior political correspondent Maggie Haberman who watched the verdict read from the courtroom.

You've been there every day. You've been in that courtroom, in the courthouse. What was it like?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's very hard to describe how intense a moment it was, Anderson, particularly because we had believed the jurors were being sent home. Justice Merchan had indicated he was going to ask the jurors if they wanted to go home. Trump walked back into the courtroom in anticipation of that moment, in a great mood, one of the best moods we've seen him come in since this trial began.

And Merchan was taking a while to come back. He said he was going to step off the bench. He was going to figure out what the jury wanted. It was taking so long, it was clear something was up. And when he came back, he said that the jurors had said they had reached a verdict and they needed another 30 minutes to finish filling out their paperwork.

And then they came in, they filed past him. One juror appeared to look at him out of the corner of his eye. I'm fairly certain that's the juror who the Trump team had seen or Trump allies had thought was on Trump's side and kept channeling that.

The counts were unanimous. The foreman stood up. He said guilty 34 times into a microphone. Trump was basically quiet. I've covered a lot of high-profile verdicts in the past or some high-profile verdicts, and usually there is some - there's a reaction. And there were caution not to react, but normally people can't help it. There was just silence. I think that everybody was stunned around Trump, including Trump himself.

COOPER: And there was silence in the courtroom among those listening.

HABERMAN: Correct. There was silence among his supporters. He was there with a number of his aides, one of his close friends, Steve Witkoff. His lawyers were obviously all at the table. But I think it was pretty clear to the defense team as soon as the judge said the jury had a verdict that it was probably not good news for them, they had felt pretty good about the fact that it had gone as long as it did. They felt like every day, and this is just common sense, if it's taking the jurors longer, it's better for the defense. Under two days coming up with this verdict was not going to be good news for them.

COOPER: Were you surprised? What stands out to you as having made a mark on the jury? Again, we haven't heard from them, it's possible to know.

HABERMAN: Well, it could be anything, so I don't want to speculate what got on their heads, but clearly a couple of things we can deduce. One is that the documentary evidence that the prosecutors presented, which was the checks, was strong enough. The testimony from David Pecker, which they asked for several read backs from, was clearly pretty strong, and there was a reason prosecutors started with David Pecker.

He was a good witness for them, and he really laid out the case and laid out the story they were telling. And that for all of the energy that we all spent on whether Todd Blanche dinged up Michael Cohen, and Michael Cohen definitely had a rough couple of days. But what didn't happen was Todd Blanche didn't get under his skin and didn't make him blow up, and Cohen was clearly well-prepped for that cross-examination and knew some of what to expect and was braced for it. They were not compelled that Michael Cohen couldn't be believed either is a take we have to have.

COOPER: What do you think happens now in the world of Donald Trump ...

HABERMAN: Well ...

COOPER: ... politically, legally, how - does he jettison Todd Blanche? Does ...

HABERMAN: Who knows? I mean, Trump cycles through lawyers in a way that I've never seen anyone else do it and I expect most people haven't. Legally, they're going to file an appeal, and I think they're going to have a bunch of things they're going to point to, to say that this should be appealed. They've been talking about what a zombie case this was, how it was not supposed to be - it was resurrected.

Alvin Bragg, the district attorney, did talk about Trump on - during his own campaign for DA. I'm sure that will come up.

There were moments in the trial like Stormy Daniels' testimony, other rulings by Justice Merchan.


They will raise all of that, and they may be successful. We have no idea. Cases do get overturned on appeal. Politically, Trump will incorporate this into the same message he's been using since he got indicted, which is that I am being persecuted, there is a witch hunt here. Unlike when he had impeachment, he has a target in President Biden, who, while - it's baseless to say President Biden has something to do with this, Trump is able to put a face on it and you're going to see him keep doing that.

But does this - we're five months from an election. Is any voter, A, going to be swayed by this, or care by Election Day? I have no idea.

COOPER: Yes. In terms of the - just, I mean, having been there all day long, were there moments to you that - for you that registered? Today was - look, today was testimony read back and so that was a while in the morning, but what did stand out to me was one of the things that the jurors asked for was a rereading of part of the charging instructions, when the judge explains the law to the jurors.

And where they wanted to start was when the judge was using an analogy about rain, and that even if you go to sleep one night and the pavement's dry, I'm paraphrasing, so forgive me if I'm a little off, but if you wake up and the - you go to bed, the pavement's dry, you wake up and it's wet, you can deduce that it rained. And I think that that was significant for the jury in trying to understand what inferences they could draw about Trump's possible behavior here.

COOPER: I want to bring in CNN correspondent, Kara Scannell, who was also there as the verdict was read, and has been there throughout.

Kara, the judge has said that he was planning on sending the jury home for the day at 4:30, as Maggie was saying. He got that note from them saying that they'd reach a verdict. From your vantage point, what stood out to you?

HABERMAN: Anderson, the mood changed dramatically because the judge came on the bench at 4:15 saying he was going to let the jury leave at 4:30. We hadn't heard from the jury since they went back to deliberate at 11:15 AM.

As we were waiting for the judge to return, Trump and his lawyers were sitting at the table, they were laughing, they were smiling. It seemed like they expected that this meant no verdict, they were going to go home and come back the next day.

The judge comes back on the bench at 4:36, and he says, I have a note signed by the jury at 4:20. He says they have a verdict. The entire mood changed. Trump crossed his arms, the room was still, no one was speaking or talking. It was extremely quiet and everyone was just sitting there waiting.

Then the judge came back on the bench. He said that the jury needed 30 minutes to fill out the guilty - the form. Then they came back. He brought them in, the jurors walked to the seats in the jury box, they didn't look at Donald Trump. They normally don't, but they didn't today either. They went - they sat down in their seats and then the judge asked them, is this true you have a verdict. The foreman said, yes, that they do.

Then the judge's clerk had said to the foreman, going through each of these counts, one by one with the foreman saying guilty, guilty 34 times. While the jury's reading the verdict, Trump was sitting in his seat looking straight ahead. Then after that, the judge had asked the - had the clerk asked the jury, did everyone unanimously agree that this was their verdict. The jurors audibly said yes.

And then he asked if anybody wanted the jury polled individually. Trump's lawyer, Todd Blanche, said that he did. And so the clerk then went through each of the jurors to poll them. At that point, Trump had turned to look at them. And when the jurors answered the questions, most of them were looking directly at the judge. I saw some look down. None seemed, again, to look at Donald Trump.

Then the judge had said to the jurors, he wanted to thank them for their service. He asked them if they could stay behind because he wanted to talk to them individually once he finished up with what the business was still in the courtroom. So that's when the jurors left.

He also thanked the alternate jurors. He had them brought into the courtroom and to sit in the front row while the jury was delivering the verdict. I've never seen that. Usually a juror - the alternate jurors are excused. Sometimes they're asked to stay on, but they're not ever brought back in to sit and witness the verdict in the case that they were so diligently paying attention to over the past seven weeks.

So after the juror left - the jury left, then Judge Merchan spoke to Trump's lawyers. They moved for an appeal saying they thought, based on Michael Cohen's testimony, that he lied on the stand. The judge rejected that. And then they set the sentencing date for July 11th. There'll be some motions due before then.

So then as Donald Trump was leaving the courtroom, he stood up, he had a frown on his face, his face was red. He walked to the divider. And that is when his son, Eric Trump, is sitting right behind him. He reached out to Eric Trump's hand, shook it vigorously. And then as he was walking past Eric Trump, Eric patted his father on the back. And then Trump walked out the center aisle of the courtroom and headed to the cameras where he spoke.

Certainly a dramatic day. I talked to someone in Trump's camp who was telling me afterwards, he said that Trump was in good spirits and ready to fight.


That was not the expression as he was walking out of the courtroom. He looked a bit wounded and I don't want to speak for him, but he looked a bit upset when he was walking out of that courtroom with a frown on his face and his face red in an appearance, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. I want to play actually a clip of what Trump said after court today. Let's watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was a disgrace. This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt. The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people. We didn't do a thing wrong. I'm a very innocent man. We'll keep fighting. We'll fight till the end and we'll win.


COOPER: There was a - sort of a little conference they had before he came to the cameras with Boris Epshteyn and Stephen Miller and others, I assume talking about what he would say. What do you make of his comments?

HABERMAN: I mean, I think that it's the posture that we always see Donald Trump take, which is that he's going to fight, that he is showing that there's no crack in the face that he's putting on for the world, that he's being tough. And he has said versions of this to some people he has spoken to. I don't know whether that's actually how he feels. The thing I always think about is my colleague, Jonathan Swan, when he was at Axios, reported right after Trump was impeached the first time that he had told some House Republicans, it's not the kind of thing you want on your resume. This isn't the kind of thing you want on your resume either.

What this is, however, is something that could fracture the country in a way that impeachment did not.

COOPER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, thank you, Kara Scannell as well.

We'll get to the remaining legal questions in a moment. First, want to talk about the gravity of the history of this day. Joining us, legendary presidential historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Doris, what is your reaction to this moment in our country?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: You know, even as I was waiting for the verdict, I kept imagining what it would be like 50 years from now, what historians would say. And I think what they will say in part is - depends on what we do with this on November 5th. But what they'll say about now is that a system, an important part of a system of democracy worked today, that the rule of law was, as the judge said, you know, he's - your peer, the defendant is your peer, no man is above the law.

And I think they'll seem this trial - at least so it seemed to all of us watching it, that there was a fundamental fairness, that the judge was an extraordinary character. He let both sides have their say. And the jury spoke.

You know, first the lawyers speak, then the experts in the media speak, and finally those 12 people speak. And while the jury system is never perfect, as no institution is, it's a hallmark of democracy. So I think that's the first thing that'll be written in the chapters of history later on. Then the question will be, how does the public receive this verdict? Is it going to be fractured like the country? Will there be many people who agree with President Trump, former President Trump, that it was rigged? How many of those people will there be? Will it make a difference that this verdict is there to those people that are undecided, those people that are independent? How will the citizens are going to write the next chapter of this story? And that may be the even more important part that's to come.

COOPER: And a lot will ride on how this candidate chooses to use this as a cudgel or to use this - I mean, there's clearly no sense of shame, but how does this candidate choose to kind of weaponize this if he chooses to do that, even more so than he's already done during this campaign? I mean, so does he double down on attacking the pillars of democracy, double down on attacking the judicial system, the jury system?

GOODWIN: Well, you know, what we've seen really in the past, which tells us the likelihood of what he'll do now in the present, when the election was lost in 2020, again, most legal systems who looked at that election said it was fundamentally fair, as I think they may about this jury system. And yet he was able to persuade by doubling down a lot of people that the election was not lost. It led to January 6th. At that time, I thought that had made a difference and that everything would be changed. So even as I say that now, that this is going to have a fundamental

effect on people. I do feel, however, that I don't know that 71 percent of the people as a current poll say it won't matter that this verdict came in. I think when people look at it, they're going to wonder, something went on during this thing. Somehow the prosecution was able to make a story that had a beginning, a middle and an end that persuaded those jurors that something bad happened.

And I wonder how many people are going to feel that as well and do we really want to have as somebody, as our leader, who sets an example that you cannot accept a loss, neither in 2016, a potential loss, and do something to change the rules of the game or in 2020 again.

And somehow you just know that if you have a kid and they lose something, you want them to accept it with grace. And I don't suspect that's going to happen, but it's going to be up to us to make an educated understanding of what the jury system meant, just as we should have made. And we did, through those hearings in January 6th, make it, but then it all got lost again in our fractured country.

COOPER: You know, you and I have spoke on a lot of difficult days in this country over the last several years, and I'm wondering - and you are an optimist, and that comes out, I just finished reading your new book.


I mean, your optimism comes out in the pages of what you write. Do you think this will be a positive or negative moment for American democracy?

GOODWIN: I guess what I really do believe is that it will be a positive moment, in the sense that I understand what the former president will do. He will say it's rigged. He'll say we're a declining country, that we're a banana republic. I don't think most people feel that way about our country.

And hardly any election has ever been won by just tearing down the country and making it seem like a terrible place. I mean, the economy has difficulties, but we're still the best economy in the world right now. Unemployment is at a certain rate. People are feeling their daily lives moving along. We've begun to move away from COVID. It's going to be hard to make that understanding that we're in terrible shape and that the whole system, now it's not only the electoral system that's rigged, but now the jury system is rigged. At a certain level, people understand what democracy is.

You know, when you waited for that decision, as I did, I felt that sense of emotional, visceral connection to what democracy means. It's sometimes an abstraction. It's the same thing you feel when you walk into the voting booth and you mark your opinion and you mark your vote and you realize millions of other people are doing the same thing. And that's going to determine whether we throw the characters out or we bring new ones in.

And somehow I think democracy is going to be made to feel real. And that's going to be the challenge of this next election and whether it's worth saving. And I think most people believe it absolutely is.

COOPER: Doris Kearns Goodwin, it's great to talk to you. Thank you.

GOODWIN: Thank you.

COOPER: With me here tonight, New York criminal defense attorney, Arthur Aidala, former New York judge, Jill Konviser, who has known Judge Merchan for more than 15 years. Also with us, John E. Jones III, former chief judge for the U.S. Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Judge Konviser, what happens now in terms of the legal process?

JILL KONVISER, FORMER NY STATE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: In terms of the legal process now, generally a case would be adjourned for sentence. You heard Todd Blanche make an application before the judge today where he asked for another motion to dismiss. It was summarily denied, but the judge did craft a motion schedule. So it is now adjourned for defense counsel to file motions, what's called a 330-30 motion, which is the statute, which is post-conviction, pre-sentence for a motion to dismiss.

The people will be able to respond. That's why the sentence date is so long. A motion to dismiss post-conviction pre-sentence can be based on one of three things. One being newly discovered evidence, which certainly Todd Blanche doesn't have at this moment. Whether or not there was some inappropriate conduct by the jury, which presumably he doesn't have at this moment.

And the other would be something that happened during the trial that would automatically - would be an automatic reverse on appeal, which I don't think he has either. But that is what the motion will be. That people will have a chance to respond. The judge will render the decision. If he grants it, he grants it. If he denies it, the case will move to sentence, which we heard would be July 11th.

COOPER: And Judge Jones, just in terms of sentencing, what would you expect?

JOHN E. JONES III, FORMER CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. MIDDLE DISTRICT COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA: Well, as you look at sentencing, Anderson, you look at factors such as punishment, appropriate punishment, deterrence and rehabilitation. And I'm moved to say that you could throw out the third factor, rehabilitation. That's not going to come into play. And the former president is not going to be contrite in any respect. He'll appeal, and he's not going to admit to the conduct.

So there's a whole sort of ball of wax that the judge considers. Among other things, you don't operate in a vacuum. The fact that he's under indictment in other places can be used. It - his conduct during the trial, the fact that he sustained almost a dozen contempt penalties, all those things come into play.

But what Judge Merchan is going to have to do, as your judge guest knows, is tune out a lot of the noise the same way that he did during the trial, and look at this as he would look at any other case with the unique factors that attend this particular defendant and make the best call that he can.

He's looking at a maximum of four years. He's not going to give him four years. He's probably going to sentence him concurrently on these counts. But it's also the numerosity. You have 34 felony counts.

COOPER: Do you think there'd actually be prison time? Do you think there'd actually be prison time?

JONES: I think there could be. You know, there's a lot that I don't know and it gets into the realm of speculation. But it's possible that Judge Merchan wants him to see the inside of a jail for a period of time.


COOPER: Arthur, you've been critical of the prosecution case. I don't know if you were surprised by the speed of the verdict, by the verdict itself (INAUDIBLE) ...

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, when you and I were on two nights ago and I heard the judge's charge, as soon as I heard what - the way the judge crafted the charge, that's the part of the trial where the judge really gets to insert their personality. It's really the time where they are interacting with the jury. This particular charge, unlike 99 percent of them where a judge is reading out of a three-ring binder and the pattern jury instructions, he got to craft a lot of it on his own.

And I think he made the prosecutor's road to conviction a lot easier. And then when I heard that they wanted Pecker's testimony and Cohen's testimony to put them together and see how they jive up, I mean, if I'm the prosecutor last night, I'm going to bed feeling pretty good. Judge Konviser is correct about the 3330 motions, but they very rarely are successful.

I think that Judge Merchan will look at statistics of the state of New York and then the city of New York about non-violent E felonies, 80- year-old men almost, never been in trouble, and what the typical, what the median sentence is ...

COOPER: The vast majority are financial.

AIDALA: Like - yes, it was right. They're financial and nobody really goes to jail in those cases.

COOPER: Do you would agree to that? I mean, I saw statistics, I mean, overwhelmingly, it seemed like it's a financial penalty, not a jail penalty.

KONVISER: Well, overwhelmingly, people don't go to jail for this particular crime. But I think, as the other guest said, certainly the judge can and should take into consideration the behavior of the defendant during this trial, and he will. But the judge has an entire panoply, a menu of things he can do. It can be a fine. It can be an unconditional discharge. A conditional discharge, means you have to stay out of trouble, which presumably you would. It could be a jail sentence, meaning local. It could be an intermittent sentence, meaning weekends. It could be state prison, as well or probation.

So there's a whole list ...

AIDALA: A little community service, maybe, Judge? That answer the ...

KONVISER: That would be interesting.

AIDALA: I will tell you, I think, and I like Judge Konviser's opinion, I think that may be the hardest task for this particular judge is to come up with a sentence. Because it would be community service, say, you know, go clean some parks, make the city a little better. You're not going to do that with Donald Trump, and Secret Service, and all those things.


AIDALA: Although, I would say, Judge Konviser, I would say, Mr. Trump, I'm going to give you and your team you tell me what you could do, what community service, what could the Trump organization do to make the city of New York a better place to live, whether it be senior citizens, police athletic league or things like that.

COOPER: Judge, go ahead.

JONES: Here's the problem, you know, whatever he sentences the former president to, he's going to continue to run his mouth. And he's going to continue to denigrate the judicial system and the system of justice generally. I was watching Doris Kearns Goodwin.

You know, the fact of the matter is that this guy has now been, by my count, in front of three judges this year, two juries, he has hundreds of millions of dollars of penalties and fines, and now 34 felony counts. And with all due respect, to say that he's not going to have - stay out of trouble, you know, that - and many counts pending.

So you have to take the whole picture when you sentence somebody. I obviously don't know what Judge Merchan's going to do. But this is a really difficult case for the judge to just say, well ...


JONES: ... blithely, I'm not going to put him in prison for any period of time. I don't think that's a given.

COOPER: All right. Judge Jones, appreciate it. Judge Konviser, Arthur Aidala, as well, thank you.

Coming up next, what the current president and his campaign are saying about the verdict.

Also, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's take. They join us live. And later, Ronan Farrow is reporting on catch-and-kill. He gave people an early, vivid picture of the story at the center of these charges. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Sentencing for the former president, I don't think anyone ever imagined saying that, is set for the 11th of July. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was asked tonight whether he'd seek prison time. He did, however, praise his team of prosecutors and the jury's dedication.


ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The 12 everyday jurors vowed to make a decision based on the evidence and the law, and the evidence and the law alone. Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Donald J. Trump, is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree to conceal a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election.


COOPER: President Biden has not officially weighed in on the verdict. On a personal social media account, he posted, quote, there's only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office at the ballot box.

CNN's Kayla Tausche is at the White House for us tonight.

What was the scene inside the West Wing as the verdict was announced and what's the reaction been?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, I talked to a few officials this afternoon who described the mood inside the West Wing as employees being transfixed by the televisions that are mounted in the West Wing. They are tuned into four concurrent cable channels, which were all running the same headlines, essentially, at the same time, and that they were stunned when the verdict came in.

I, actually, just a few moments ago caught a senior administration official leaving the West Wing, and I asked for his response. And he raised his eyebrows and said, simply, it matters. The official response that we got from the White House, very brief, very much on brand. It was from the White House Counsel's Office, and it said, simply, we respect the rule of law, and we have no further comment.

President Biden is in Delaware. Aides traveling with him declined to provide to us or the traveling press pool with him. Details of exactly how the President learned of this historic verdict, where he was, and what he was doing, and who delivered that news to him. And we just got his public schedule for tomorrow, Anderson. There was no - nothing in the schedule that would indicate that he would be delivering public remarks on this, although you can bet that reporters are going to be trying to ask him about this when they see him on his way back to Washington, D.C. in the morning.

COOPER: So no talk of any kind of change in campaign strategy given the verdict? TAUSCHE: I think it's safe to say, Anderson, that aides are already

trying to figure out exactly how prominently this verdict needs to figure in a debate in just a few weeks. And the campaign has already been ratcheting up its language in recent days. And in the wake of that verdict, the campaign seized on that moment. They blasted off a written statement, tweets, text messages, emails, all indicating that they needed grassroots support.

And even in one warning that potentially Trump could see record fundraising on the back of this decision. And one of them saying, convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. But in recent days, Anderson, that strategy that - where they've taken it up to 11, essentially, has gotten some mixed reviews. We've seen both David Axelrod, a top Democratic strategist, and Kate Bedingfield, who is a longtime confidant of President Biden's, pan the strategy of putting Robert De Niro and the January 6 officers at that press conference, saying that it was a waste of resources and that it fed directly into the Trump narrative and that that's what they should be trying to avoid.


COOPER: Kayla Tausche, thanks very much.

I want to get perspective now from two legendary investigative reporters, bestselling authors, and eyewitnesses to more than five decades of American history. CNN Political Analyst Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, better known in the opposite order, Woodward and Bernstein.

So Carl, can you put the gravity of this moment in some perspective?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's momentous that we have a former president of the United States is a convicted felon in a case in which the facts were evidence. There is no question that the rule of law has prevailed here, but it still is incendiary in terms of where this country is right now.

It's like pouring gasoline on a fire that's already burning. Trump's response that we've heard already saying that this emanated with President Biden that he is responsible for this prosecution. I have to say, I know of no one in the White House, Bob might know of someone who wanted this prosecution to proceed.

That, in fact, the view in the White House was that this was not a good idea. That there is a very serious case of January 6th the incitement of a seditionist riot by the President of the United States. That's the case that people in the White House would like to see go forward and ought to go forward.

And one thing we ought to think about on this evening when we hear Donald Trump talk about the supposed prejudice of this judge because of his daughter having political opinions and working for Democrats, let's take a look at Supreme Court Justices, Alito and Thomas, and their conflicts of interest that really raised to a serious level.

We've got to be serious about the rule of law in this country. And that's what all of these events are about.

COOPER: Bob, I mean, you've interviewed the former president at great length over the years, what did you think of the verdict and and where we are now?

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I first saw and did not expect a quick verdict. And so I thought, oh, maybe the country is not as divided as I thought. And then, to be honest, I tuned in to Fox News and it's just another chapter in the political wars.

This is not about the law or -- and there are people who may love the verdict, people who hate it, but that's the battleground. And one thing I think we have to agree with president -- former President Trump on is this is going to be decided on Election Day, November 5th.

It's not going to be decided back and forth. And what has happened here is a little bit of a blip. Frankly, everything's a blip because it all feeds into the narrative of this completely divided country that can't agree on much of anything. And it hopefully will be settled November 5th.

Carl, I mean, do you think this conviction changes anything for better or worse about the norms and expectations for presidents in America?

BERNSTEIN: Look, I think that Donald Trump has changed every expectation about norms for presidents of the United States of America. Bob and I reported on Nixon at great length his crimes. He was a criminal president of the United States, as we wrote in the forward to the 50th anniversary edition of All the President's Men.

Trump has outdone Nixon in terms of criminality, in terms of being a constitutional criminal, in terms of being the first seditious president of the United States. We could not have dreamed that after Nixon there would be such a president and the contempt for the rule of law and for the norms and constitutional regular order.

COOPER: Bob, I mean, there used to be a sense of shame in public life. I mean, I don't know if Nixon felt shame, but that just is non- existent anymore, it seems like. I mean, none of it, nobody feels, seems like shame for a conviction like this. This is now just fuel for -- to try to invigorate this person's campaign now.

WOODWARD: For this divided country, yes, maybe some people feel shame, but on the other hand, people say, I mean, again, listen to Fox News as far as they're concerned. I mean, just in a full body assault.


This is the crime. This is -- and they're echoing what Trump has said. I remember in one of my interviews with Trump in 2020, his last year in office as president, he'd been impeached, as you may recall, and we're -- I'm down at Mar-a-Lago interviewing him about this, and he said, with this kind of fire, no one is tougher than me.

And I think that's the way he looks at this. He's going to tough it out. If you compare this with 50 years ago, I mean, it's quite fascinating. This summer, in August, will be the 50th anniversary of Nixon's resignation. And, look, 50 years ago, how the Republican Party responded to Nixon.

There's a scene in the book Carl and I did, "The Final Days," where in August, there is information coming out in the tapes that shows clear criminality on the part of Nixon. Nixon meets with the Republican leaders, and Barry Goldwater, the conscience of the Republican Party, I think it's proper to call him that.

And Nixon says, well, how am I going to do? I know I'm going to be impeached, charged, how will I do in a Senate trial? And he would need 34 votes to stay in office because it's two-thirds, 67 to remove him. And so he said this, and the other Republican leaders say Barry's we've selected him as our spokesman.

And Goldwater says, Mr. President, I've counted, and you, in a Senate trial, you have five votes, and one of them is not mine. One of the most dramatic moments in presidential history. The next day, Nixon announced he was resigning.

COOPER: Yes, I'm not sure that would be the case today. Bob Woodward, thank you. Carl Bernstein, as well.

Just ahead, the catch and kill scheme at the heart of prosecutors' case against the former president and a testimony that may have helped convince the jury to vote guilty on all counts. Ronan Farrow, author of the best seller detail the scheme, joins us next.



COOPER: Read everything.


COOPER: The jury's guilty verdict on all counts against the former president came after all 12 jurors spent the morning hearing readbacks of testimony, much of it by David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer. Prosecutors in the summation on Tuesday had called his testimony about the catch and kill scheme utterly damning.

We're joined now by journalist Ronan Farrow, author of the 2019 bestseller "Catch and Kill," which explored the scheme at the center of the trial. First of all, just your reaction hearing those verdicts.

RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, I think it's meaningful to note that this is a story that came out through investigative reporting first, not just at the New Yorker where we broke some of these stories, but also a whole circle of publications.

The Wall Street Journal did amazing work exposing the first stories about Stormy Daniels. That's worth noting because it is a reaffirmation of how important the press is to our democracy. And a lot of us who worked on this story, you also were in receipt of some of this when you did your interview with Karen McDougal, really got a lot of blowback.

When I was first exposing the rumor of the love child and the suppression of that story, the Karen McDougal details, the Enquirer and AMI --

COOPER: They came after you.

FARROW: -- they came after me so hard. And it was my job at the time to not linger on that or talk about it publicly too much, but I do think it's worth noting now in retrospect because it was a hard price to pay, it messed me up for a long time. And I'm still kind of recovering from some of the things they did.

COOPER: Have you talked to sources you had in that industry now about this verdict what they think?

FARROW: Yes, and it's fascinating because of course the flip side of how vindictive that empire was and going after people is that there were good people within it who became sources for the Wall Street Journal, for the New Yorker, for, you know, people like you at CNN and they helped expose this thing.

And that's really meaningful to and for a lot of those good people who did help with that exposure, what they're telling even in conversations today is, a, we wish we weren't associated with this sort of filthy enterprise of catching and killing stories for the Enquirer. And, b,, that they kind of knew at the time that the good people started leaking because they knew that they were too closely associated with something that might not just be sleazy, but also illegal.

COOPER: It's interesting that the jury wanted to hear back David -- the testimony from David Pecker. I mean, you've talked all along as we've been talking throughout this trial of Pecker's importance, prosecutors put him first for a reason.

FARROW: Yes, that's right. And I think in retrospect, it's going to be regarded as a really canny move that the prosecution led with that context because the Stormy Daniels transactions and their concealment don't make sense without first establishing that there was this conspiracy between AMI and Donald Trump, that that meeting at Trump tower in 2015 really did hatch a plan to subvert the election as prosecutors said.

And the thing about that earlier meeting and the prosecutors telling it to the jury that it's significant and the jury then asking afterwards really was the first bellwether that the verdict was going to go the way it did. I have sources within AMI who told me today when we heard that news, when we heard they were asking about the Trump Tower meeting, asking about Pecker, we understood that the jury bought the premise being given to them by the prosecutor.

COOPER: Which is interesting because Todd Blanche in his closing spent a lot of time basically undercutting, trying to undercut that meeting and undercut the importance of the National Enquirer and saying, well, it's absurd to think that, you know, that they care -- that the Trump campaign cared so much or thought that this was such an important public -- they clearly did they held this meeting and it was Trump and Cohen approaching Pecker, not Pecker approaching them about how can I help it with -- them approaching Pecker about what can he do for the campaign.

FARROW: And that's why it's relevant that so many sources around this, people who were in those rooms are close to those rooms executing these transactions had these misgivings at the time knew what it was and saw it the way the prosecution ultimately framed it for this jury.

COOPER: Do you think there's any room for appeal? Do you -- I mean, you're an attorney yourself, do you think -- I mean, the other question is how Trump uses this moving forward?

FARROW: Well, we're in a crazy political reality, right, where on cable news all night tonight, people have been saying, well, could this be great for Donald Trump? How galvanizing is this going to be? And of course, we are already seeing his campaign try to use this as a fundraising opportunity.

But the truth is the future of how he's going to be sentenced is quite uncertain. It is true that jail time is fairly unusual for this particular type of legal theory in this particular type of charge, which often happens in tax cases.

COOPER: Right.


FARROW: But this is an unusual case. So in some ways all bets are off because also this judge is not afraid to send people to jail. Weisselberg went to jail under this judge. So we'll have to see what the actual legal repercussions are and then how that bears out for the election.

And I think that regardless of the electoral impact, Anderson, this is something that's shown a light on a really sleazy damaging to individuals, but also to our democracy model of suppressing the truth.

COOPER: How much credit should Stormy Daniels get for coming forward?

FARROW: I think immense credit certainly for, over time, including in this trial, giving these details, even in situations where it was painful. And, look, there were moments in the history of her involvement in this story where she was obviously willing to participate in suppressing this for perhaps understandable personal reasons.

So the full arc of her coming around and being a witness for the prosecution in the way she was, makes her a very consequential part of what is now a, an historical moment.

COOPER: Did you -- were you surprised that it was guilty on all counts? I mean, because there was a lot of talk in the last couple of days, well maybe they'll sort of, you know, just do some counts and not all? FARROW: Yes, I think one is always surprised by this kind of unanimity, this kind of across the board verdict. That said, those sources who were in the room for some of this stuff at AMI and who saw that first sign of, hey, these jurors are asking about the underlying conspiracy, that means perhaps they're buying into the whole premise the prosecution is giving them.

That makes it a little less surprising in retrospect. And it is true when I saw that news, it was my first moment of going, huh, and thinking maybe the prosecution in having evidently executed a very skillful case was going to prevail.

COOPER: Yes. Ronan Farrow, thank you.

FARROW: Thanks so much.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, who was the lead impeachment manager in the House during the former president's second impeachment trial. Congressman, your reaction to this historic verdict?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D-MD): Well, I felt some relief and vindication for the rule of law. You know, I've been traveling around the country. I've been to 20 states now and so many people have said to me along the road, they just don't feel like the law can ever really catch up to the level of lawlessness that we've seen.

And so, the jury system works in America. And a judge who follows the law scrupulously wherever it will lead for the state or for the defendant, that works. So that feels good. I felt also a certain sense of vindication. I got to tell you as a politician, because what we do in our business is we go to work and we try to make people's lives better.

We try to make improvements in infrastructure or prescription drug prices are protecting the right to choose. And then we go out and we ask people for their votes. And the thing that's gotten to me about Donald Trump is he doesn't want to go through that process of really setting forth a program and asking people for his votes.

Every time he's gotten in really serious trouble, it's been because he's tried to shake down the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy to try to set up Joe Biden and lie about Joe Biden or, you know, here in this case, he wanted to pay hush money to keep something out of the news away from the voters, or he wanted to stage and incite an insurrection against the peaceful transfer of power.

Those are all assaults on democratic norms and democratic processes. And I feel like today was a victory, at least, a minor victory, for the rule of law and also for democratic politics. And I guess the other thing that crossed my mind was how central women have been to bringing Donald Trump to justice.

Stormy Daniels, in this case, E. Jean Carroll in the civil case where he was adjudicated a sexual assailant. And, of course, he has made such outrageous affronts to women and declared himself to be a violator of women's privacy and autonomy, and there's a little bit of poetic justice that it's come back to haunt him.

COOPER: Do you think he should go to jail?

RASKIN: You know, to me, it's irrelevant. I mean, the major thing is that the rule of law work. You know, I'm a liberal person. I don't take joy in people being sent to jail and going through that kind of suffering. It's conservatives like Donald Trump who, you know, called for the death penalty against some innocent young men in New York and who want to lock everybody up, including Hillary Clinton.

That's not the way I feel as a liberal, and I don't want to inflict any suffering on anybody. But I do want to see that the rule of law works and is vindicated against these incessant, outrageous attacks on the rule of law.


COOPER: Do you think this has any impact on the presidential race on candidate Donald Trump's chances for being reelected?

RASKIN: You know, I'm not sure. I'm not really in the prognostication business. I'm more in the mobilization business. And I've said from the beginning that we need to mobilize the vast majority that voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and expand that with all of these millions of young new voters in America to fight for a future that's befitting the greatest multicultural, multi religious, multi-racial democracy on earth.

Like that's what we've got to do. And that's going to be an act of will and organizing education and courage. So I'm not going to sit back and, you know, look at it as a spectator, like, well, what effect might this have. You know, we have seen so many lawless assaults on our democracy, whether it's voting rights whether it is the rights of women to choose their own destiny and their own medical privacy issues.

And we've got to stand up for all of that. So I would hope that people would at least consider this as part of the overall picture of what we're struggling to defeat and get beyond in America.

COOPER: Congressman Raskin, thanks for your time tonight. Thank you.

We saw the former president return to Trump Tower earlier tonight, just a short time ago he left. When we come back, what we're learning about where he went then. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Short time ago, the former president was seen leaving his New York City home at Trump Tower in Manhattan. We understand he's heading to a private residency in the city tonight. Miguel Marquez is at Trump Tower. So did the former president interact with the crowd when he arrived?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He did. He got here about an hour or so after that verdict was handed down. I can show you there's only a few Trump supporters out here right now. And in front of Trump Tower itself, police have completely shut down the street.

But as his motorcade pulled up on 56th Street, he walked up to Fifth Avenue and waved to the few people that were out here. There was mostly tourists, kind of just confused and not sure what was going on. Some people were cheering. Some people were shouting, lock them up, lock him up. But it was a bit of confusion.

Most of the people gathered here today, and there have been a lot throughout the day, are mostly tourists from other countries. Very curious what's going on behind me. Anderson?

COOPER: Yes, what have people been saying to you?

MARQUEZ: They want to know if he's here. They want to know what's happening. They want to know if he is going to remain here through July 11th through the sentencing. There are some of his people who support Donald Trump who are here that never surrender signs with the mug shots is very popular here.

They had a lot of people with that throughout the day. A lot of people coming up and saying this is a very good day for America, very pleased with the proceedings in court and the conviction of Donald Trump.


MARQUEZ: So as with everything in this country, it's a real mix. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been more of a outpouring here on both sides, but it's been, for the most part, literally, tourists from around the world who are just really curious --


MARQUEZ: -- about what's happening. Anderson?

COOPER: Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who joins us now. I mean, New York doesn't pause for long.


COOPER: This is as usual here in the city. Just the short term and long term security implications for this, what do you think they are? The jurors, particularly.

MCCABE: Yes. So for the jurors and the witnesses, they are going to be of primary importance, their security. This will play -- resonate very deeply in this narrative of grievance that extremists hold. You know, these sorts of things are very powerful. They serve as elements of the recruiting and radicalization stories that will be told for years and years. This will not go away in that very small extremist community. So --

COOPER: It's also --

MCCABE: -- longer term, that will be around.

COOPER: It's also something that this -- that the former president is going to use to try to, I mean, amplify that as much as possible. It's not as if it's just some holdouts, you know, somewhere in a cabin fuming about this. This is the former president of the United States running for -- to be the current president, the next president, fueling this and repeatedly, you know, saying these rigged election things.

MCCABE: And regardless of how that election turns out, he will continue to say those things until the end of his days. So this will not go away. In the short term where I still working with others to protect the city, I'd be worried about the sentencing date. That is a date certain, there's enough time for people to plan things if they are intending to do that sort of thing.

You know, today kind of caught people by surprise, I think with how quickly the verdict came in. So that wasn't really an ideal moment to either protest or take action. But the sentencing could be a different story.

COOPER: I'm curious to see if jurors decide to come forward to speak about their process. You know, I would understand why they would want to kind of explain what they do. And I could also understand them wanting to fade into to remain anonymous.

MCCABE: Absolutely. From a purely security perspective, very bad idea to publicly identify themselves. I'm sure that there are many people that are racing to try to identify them now. It's almost impossible to believe that that will never occur. Obviously, they want to hold that off as long as possible.

COOPER: If the former president is actually sent to prison, seems unlikely given traditional sentencing this, but who knows. For the Secret Service, how do they work that?

MCCABE: I think it's an unlikely result as well, although not impossible. You look at him not as a former president, but just as a simple defendant. He's shown absolutely no remorse to attack the system and the result from the beginning days. That's not a good way to approach your sentencing.

As far as the service is concerned, they're -- the hardest part for them will be in preparation because obviously they've never done anything like this before. But if he's given some sort of confinement sentence, whether that's home confinement or into some sort of an institution, once he's there and they have that set up, it'll be pretty easy for them because of being in a controlled space.

COOPER: In terms of the -- his security though, I mean, Secret Service -- in the courtroom, he had like two Secret Service agents with him. It was court officers.

MCCABE: Right.

COOPER: In a prison setting, I guess he would -- I mean, it would be the prison officers, but also a few Secret Service or?

COOPER: You know, I find it almost impossible to believe that he'll ever be in a traditional prison sentence, a traditional prison environment. He may be sentenced to some sort of a state controlled facility that doesn't have other prisoners in it.

No matter where he ends up, if it's in a state facility, it'll be some combination of prison officials and, of course, Secret Service.

COOPER: Andrew McCabe, thank you very much.

MCCABE: Yes, sure.

COOPER: Appreciate it.

The news continues. More of CNN's special coverage of the historic verdict in the Trump hush money trial right now.