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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Judge Threatens Jail Time If Trump Violates Gag Order Again; Israel: Hamas Deal "Far From" Israel's Requirements; Judge Finds Trump In Contempt For Violating Gag Order Again. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 06, 2024 - 16:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: The judge threatening Trump that any further violations potentially could result in jail time.

I'll be back in two hours, 6:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start today with our law and justice lead, and a stern warning for Donald Trump today from the bench -- keep violating your gag order and your hush money cover of case, and you may well end up in jail.

Judge Juan Merchan finding today the Trump violated that gag order for the 10th time. He fined Trump $1,000 which is the maximum penalty.

But Judge Merchan went on to tell the former president, quote, at the end of the day, I have a job to do, and part of that job is to protect the dignity of the judicial system and compel respect, as much as I do not want to impose a jail sanction and I've done everything I can to avoid doing so, I want you to understand that I will if necessary, and appropriate, unquote.

Today, we've also heard testimony from two witnesses who went through check by check the payments made by Donald Trump to his former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. Those payments are at the very heart of this case because prosecutors alleged Mr. Trump took part in an illegal conspiracy to reimburse his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels right before the election. Stormy Daniels, the porn actress and director who had claimed she had had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

Lets get straight to CNN's Kara Scannell who's been inside the courtroom all day.

Kara, what's happening in court right now?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that accounts payable executive Deborah Tarasoff is on the witness stand and Trump's lawyers have just begun cross-examination of her. She's been testifying under questioning from the prosecution, and she's explaining to them how the paperwork works, how they were with issued checks in this case, all related to the reimbursement to Michael Cohen and she described how when Donald Trump became president, they had FedEx-ed the checks down to the White House for him to sign to be sent back to the Trump Organization, that then she would then send out to Michael Cohen.

Now, the prosecutors walked her through each one of these checks so the juries repeatedly seeing this pattern of a invoice from Michael Cohen saying that pursuant to a retainer agreement, you should be paid $35,000 a month, seeing that entered into the general ledger, and then seeing that on the check stub and ultimately the check that assigned by Donald Trump in his signature, sharpies signing.

And that are -- those are the elements of this alleged crime. Those are the falsified documents that prosecutors have alleged that Trump was involved in. Now, we also heard testimony earlier today from Jeff McConney, that was her supervisor. He was that comptroller of the Trump Organization for 34 years.

It was interesting when McConney and Tarasoff on the witness stand, they walked past Eric Trump, who still running the company, who was sitting in that first row in the public section. And we saw exchanges between them, Deb Tarasoff had tapped Eric Trump's leg when she was walking out at a break. It is still a she's noting now in her testimony, a family company, a pretty small business.

So you can see that familiarity, and even Donald Trump, we've noticed this when he has someone who's worked for him on the witness stand, he really turns to face them. He did that when Rhona Graff, his longtime executive assistant was testifying. Right now, he's dramatically turned his chair to watch Tarasoff as she is giving her testimony question by Trumps attorneys this is something that his business is obviously he knows very well. So he's been very focused on this.

Now, there -- his team was trying to make a distinction between the oldest bookkeeping and what Donald Trump knew about it. And that is something that they have brought out on cross-examination of Jeff McConney asking him, did you have any conversations about Donald Trump related to these payments? He said no, related to the doctor occupants said, have you ever given Donald Trump a tour of the accounting software and McConney said, no, he hadn't.

So they're really trying to set some distance between how these documents were written into the corporate books and what Donald Trump knew about them -- Jake.

TAPPER: And what was -- what was the former president's demeanor like in court today? How did Mr. Trump behave? What about the jurors? Tell us about them.

SCANNELL: Right. So, you know, this jury has really been paying attention. I've seen a number of them take some notes at different times. And they do, they watch the prosecutor or the lawyer asking the question, turned to watch the witnesses' answer and back-and-forth. You know, a few times I've seen one or two of them look out into the

galley of the courtroom, which is just packed with reporters and members of the public. They are watching this. You can hear everyone typing down every word that the witnesses are saying.

You know, Trump, he has -- as you know, I was saying at times, really seem to focus on what the witnesses were saying. Other times leading into the monitor that's just on the defense table in front of him.


That's where all the exhibits are popped up. So he can lean in, and we saw him lean in a few times to look at some of the documents that were on the screen. You know, this cross-examination is its expected to continue for a while and then it will be if the prosecutors have any additional questions. She is the 11th witness now, in this case, for the prosecution, as we finally have shifted and turned to the false -- of the allegedly falsified documents that is she here.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

We're going to come back to you. Standby.

Joining us now to discuss, CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero, former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, CNN's Jaime Gangel, and Kristen Holmes.

Gene, help me -- first of all, Judge Merchan, so jurors, we're going to stop a little bit early today. It's a 4:04 p.m. it sounds like they're going to end the trial today four -- about 25 minutes ahead of time.

Gene, help us explain the strategy happening in court right now. Why would you have this witness take the jury check by check explaining how Donald Trump signed them in sharpie?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, when you do a federal crime -- a fraud case, a tax case, you have to make it as simple as possible for the jury. Did about 30 tax cases and what they're doing from, my perspective, is they're trying to lay out the process for why Donald Trump is in the Oval Office with a sharpie signing two checks.

So you have to get to that point. What is important to me with this testimony is of all the people in the world who have to sign these checks, of all the gin joints in the world, in Casablanca, it's Donald Trump in the Oval Office signing a check over $10,000 and handing it personally to Michael Chen, which sort of a wink and a nod attaboy look.

That to me is the punch line of what they're trying to do here. And Deborah Tarasoff, I think her name is --


ROSSI: -- she lays out who can sign it, who doesn't sign it. And there was no reason in the world for Allen Weisselberg or Donald Trump Jr. to sign those checks, no reason for them not to. It had to be Donald Trump because he was closing the deal in those checks on his personal account. Now, that's the prosecutors' argument.

The defense is going to say he's Sergeant Schultz, doesn't know what's going on. This is just a coincidence. He happens to have been most powerful person in the world, and he just signed a couple of checks in the Oval Office, very innocuous. That's the defense argument.

Whether the jury believes the first version or the second is why were here.

TAPPER: And, Carrie, a lot of the testimony today has been about financial documents, papers, and need to be signed, et cetera. This is something that can be confusing, might even be dare I say, boring if you don't know what you're looking at exactly.

How do you convince as an attorney, as a prosecutor, how do you convince the jury that this is important? And while it might not be a fingerprint or a blood spatter it is, evidence of a crime.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's this -- that is what this particular case is about, as Gene was saying. I mean, this is a documents case at its heart. And so, it is an important power of the foundation for the prosecutors to walk through.

Now where I think they have a challenge is it's one thing to articulate here's how things generally work in Trump world. This is generally how we handle the books. This is the process that generally was -- there's a jump that you have to get through from that too, in this specific case, Donald Trump knew what he was signing, why he was signing it and that he had the intent to sign it for the purpose of violating another federal law, which is the other part of this case, that the prosecutors have the burden of proving.

TAPPER: Right, the so-called election interference.

So, Jaime Gangel, the prosecutors brought up Donald Trumps financial disclosure form when he was president in 2017. They focused on this line at the bottom of one of the pages, quote, in the interest of transparency, while not required to be disclosed as reportable liabilities. On part eight in 2016, expenses were incurred by one of the -- one of Donald Trump's attorneys, Michael Cohen.

Mr. Cohen sought reimbursement of those expenses and Mr. Trump fully reimbursed Mr. Cohen in 2017, the category of value would be $100,001 to $250,000 and the interest rate would be zero.

This is -- there it is -- there it is. And this is, you think important, significant.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's significant. This follows, so we know in April, he says he doesn't know anything about it. You have to ask Michael Cohen, denies it. Then May 3rd, Rudy Giuliani comes and he says, oh, yes, the president reimburse Michael Cohen, Trump acknowledges that in public tweets, we then have -- this is about May 15, this.

[16:10:00] So what it's showing here is a public acknowledgment by Trump that he reimbursed Michael Cohen, no more "I don't know anything about that".

Earlier today though, to Carrie's point about business as usual, the people who were testifying today from Trump Organization, these were not hostile witnesses. These were like David Pecker, Hope Hicks, there was no hostility there. And the other things we heard from them were Donald Trump was, quote, the brains behind the organization.

Everybody was taking orders. He signed all the checks. This was a personal account. So I think when you add that together with the paper trail, which is needed for the case and then this notion of why did an Allen Weisselberg, they have the documents with his personal handwriting on it, why did they have to make it larger?

Because the payment was to cover up. It was to make it look -- meet the threshold for him to pay taxes on it. That's where I, as the juror, I'm not the lawyers say, well, why did they do that? If it was just a reimbursement.

TAPPER: Kristen Holmes, I have a question for you, but I'm told I have to squeeze a quick break. So I'm going to come right back to you, stick with us. Much more from the courthouse as testimony reveals how the actual hush money payments were made.

And later this hour, a former Trump White House aide will be here. He was mentioned in testimony last week by Hope Hicks.

Plus, the other breaking news, a response from Israel after Hamas accepted a ceasefire in hostage deal put on the table by mediators from Egypt and Qatar. Video shows celebration on the streets of Gaza today, but the deal is far from done.

We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: You're looking at live images just in, from the Rafah area of southern Gaza. It's a much calmer seen after multiple explosions earlier, just to the east. This is an area where the Israel Defense Forces had ordered and evacuation of civilians.

Right now, the world is on edge waiting for Israel's response to a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar that was just agreed to by Hamas.

Moments ago, Israel's prime minister put out a statement, his office did anyway, saying, quote, even though Hamas's proposal is far from Israel's necessary requirements, Israel will send a working level delegation to the mediators, unquote.

And meanwhile, in the Israeli town of Tel Aviv tonight, family of hostages held in Gaza called on Netanyahu and other leaders of Israel to accept the deal as people in Gaza, we're breaking out in celebration despite the fact that the deal has not yet been formally agreed to by Israel.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond following all this from Jerusalem for us. CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House.

Jeremy, for weeks, U.S. and Israeli officials have said the ball was in Hamas' court. Is it fair to say now that the ball is in Israel's court?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, to a certain extent, that certainly seems to be the case, and that's definitely the impression that Hamas wants to lend to all of this as they came out with this very bold statement saying that they had agreed to a ceasefire proposal, although at the time, Jake it wasn't yet clear exactly what proposal they were talking about.

We know that there's been a proposal on the table for over a week now, an Egyptian framework which Israel helped craft although Israeli officials have said they did not agree to every elements in that, but it did include significant in Israeli concessions.

But my colleague Alex Marquardt and I are now learning that Israel -- that this proposal that Hamas agree to is actually a different proposal than the one that Israel helped craft with Egypt. So, one -- this is according to a senior Israeli and a senior American official, one senior American official telling Alex that this latest framework that Hamas agreed includes a permanent end to the hostilities, which of course has been a red line for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And so, in light of all of this, the Israeli prime ministers office is now saying that this proposal is, quote, far from Israel necessary requirements, but Israel is committing to sending a working level delegation to meet with the Egyptian and Qatari mediators in the coming days. It's not clear yet whether that meeting will happen in Doha or in Cairo, but certainly the ball is moving forward. These negotiations will carry on.

But while earlier this evening, it might have seemed like a deal was perhaps imminent. We saw these images of people in Gaza beginning to celebrate what they thought was cease agreement. But now, Jake, some cold water being thrown on that its very clear that while negotiations will continue, a deal is certainly not imminent, at least not tonight.

TAPPER: And, MJ, you just asked White House national security spokesman, John Kirby, about this deal on the table from Egypt and Qatar that Hamas has agreed to.

What did Kirby have to say?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, keep in mind when John Kirby took to the White House podium, that was only moments after Hamas said that they were agreeing to this ceasefire deal framework. And the official word from the U.S. side right now is that they are still going through the details of what this framework might actually entail. And what Kirby made clear was that when President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke earlier today, this was before Hamas had said that they were going to be agreeing to this framework. So the two leaders certainly would not have been discussing seeing this particular framework. And it was interesting. You know, he was careful in choosing his words when he talked about the general sort of pressure that President Biden may have exerted on the prime minister and talking about the negotiations that have been ongoing.

Take a listen.


LEE: Did he broadly encourage the prime minister to get "yes" to some sort of deal?

JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNICATIONS ADVISOR: He, as he has consistently with Prime Minister Netanyahu, urged that we get this deal secured, but it wasn't -- it wasn't a pressure call. It wasn't about twisting his arm towards a certain set of parameters.

Director Burns is in the region having these conversations with the Israelis, the Qataris, the Egyptians, as, again, as we speak.


And that's the forum for working out the parameters of it.


LEE: And, Jake, U.S. officials have been intimately involved in these negotiations, including, of course, CIA Director Burns who is still in the region, and it's just hard to overstate how much is on the line for the U.S. and President Biden in terms of getting to an end to this conflict, getting the hostages out including, of course, among them, several Americans, and also just avoiding a Rafah operation, which again, U.S. officials have really expressed opposition to in recent weeks.

TAPPER: And, Jeremy, CNN's obtained some video showing multiple explosions in Rafah tonight. Tell us more.

DIAMOND: Yeah, Jake, this morning shortly before 9:00 a.m., the Israeli military began dropping leaflets, ordering tens of thousands of civilians in eastern Rafah to begin evacuating an anticipation of major Israeli military operations in that area.

And already tonight, Jake, less than 24 hours after 100,000 people were told to evacuate the Israeli military has already conducting what they are describing as precision strikes in eastern Rafah, and were seeing these images of explosions happening in that area. Just as not too far from there. You are also seeing civilians celebrating what they thought was a ceasefire agreement, but it's very clear, speaking with Israeli officials, he is really war cabinet today agreeing to continue forward with these operations in Rafah, moving forward with the evacuations and also potentially, Jake, a looming ground offensive.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem and MJ Lee at the White House for us, thank you so much.

Let's get back to our other big story, the hush money cover in case against Donald Trump in New York, CNN's Kara Scannell, who's still at the courthouse for us.

And, Kara, prosecutors just gave an update on how much longer they think they need to present their case. Tell us more.

SCANNELL: Yeah, Jake, that's right. So, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass just told the judge that he thinks that the prosecutions case will go another two weeks from tomorrow. So we've already heard from 11 witnesses over the past two weeks of testimony. Now he's saying to expect another two weeks.

There are a number of witnesses that we are expecting is still testify, including Michael Cohen, and he is likely to be on the stand for several days. So that could be one of the witnesses that will take up a chunk of this time because it will not only be that Michael Cohen while have to tell the story to the jury from the prosecution perspective. But then Donald Trumps team has made it clear essential part of their defense is to try to discredit him and try to attack Cohen's credibility as a witness.

So he's expected to be on the stand for several days, which could potentially take up one of the weeks. Remember, these weeks, were hearing testimony for four days of the weeks.

So, there are some other witnesses that they said they may be calling that could also include Stormy Daniels. It's still to be seen if she will be taking the stand, but at least another two weeks from tomorrow, according to the prosecution, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much. We'll check back with you in a minute.

Coming up, why a familiar name deeply involved in the hush money payments will likely not be called to the witness stand and why his testimony he could be essential to the prosecutions case.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And were back with our breaking news coverage of Donald Trumps hush money cover up trial, court wrapped just a few minutes ago, prosecutor said they need about two or three more weeks to finish presenting their side of the case, the prosecution witnesses and evidence. My panels back with me.

And, Kristen, let me start with you. When it comes to all these major witnesses who are remaining. And there are some big ones, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, Karen McDougal, potentially is there one that Trump world is most nervous about?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that they don't want, or at least Donald Trump doesn't really want Stormy Daniels on the stand. I mean, I think at the base of all of this is a salacious claim that he had an affair with a porn star, which he denies, but this is not something he really wants to revisit. Terms of what this could actually do to be damaging to him. And they're waiting for Michael Cohen.

And remember their entire strategy has been and will continue to be to paint Michael Cohen like a liar, which Michael Cohen is a known liar. So the issue is easy lying about this. And can they actually try to prove that point or not?

And that seems to be some think the jury is going to ultimately have to decide at the end of the day but when they're talking about these two or three weeks, that's actually moving a lot slower than what Trump lawyers had told me that they thought they thought this case might be wrapped up by the end of next week, just because all of these, we look at what we saw today. They asked one or two questions of McConney, then of Tarasoff afterwards.

They aren't planning a long cross-examination of anyone except for Michael Cohen, and that includes Stormy Daniels. They don't want to get into the nitty-gritty with her. They might ask a couple of pointed questions to kind of point out what kind of a witness she is. But other than that, I'm told its not going to be David Pecker or the length of that Michael Cohen.

TAPPER: Right. I mean, at the end of next this week is two weeks, essentially, right? I mean --

HOLMES: But that would be for the whole thing for any witnesses that the cross had -- that the defense had as well.


HOLMES: So they would say, I mean, unless they are really, truly not planning on bringing a single witness, which is possible.

TAPPER: Oh, I see. Interesting.

Gene, one person we don't expect to see on the witness stand is former Trump organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. He's currently behind bars after admitting to having falsely testified in Trump's civil fraud case. The one brought up by Letitia James, the attorney general of New York.

Is -- what he had been a better witness than the Trump Organization witnesses that we saw today?

ROSSI: No. And the defense attorneys are probably praying he doesn't go to the witness stand.


In closing argument, I would hammer that Allen Weisselberg did not step into that courtroom and testify under oath. Forget his credibility problems, Allen Weisselberg, if he told the truth probably would have the keys to the kingdom on this agreement. And for the defense attorneys, if he doesn't show up, that is a big seed of reasonable doubt for Donald Trump, because he can explain this whole payment, the $420,000, why it went from $130,000 and grew like a souffle to 420. It was because he wanted to avoid taxes, Cohen did.

So, Allen Weisselberg should not be called as a witness. He's a pathological liar, even more than Cohen and that's saying a lot. But I got to say this about Michael Cohen, he may benefit from the rule of low expectations.


ROSSI: People thinking he's going to be a pathological liar. He's going to be hated. And if he comes in and his tone, his demeanor, is reasonably reasonable --


ROSSI: -- and he is corroborated by documents and other witnesses, there's a very good chance he could be a powerful witness, a decent chance.

TAPPER: Carrie Cordero, Trump attorney Todd Blanche, said -- complained that the defense only got 30 minutes notice of who the witness would be this afternoon. That I don't -- I'm not a lawyer, but that seems unusual, right?

CORDERO: So it is an unusual situation in this particular case that the defense is not getting much notice for the witnesses. Now, my understanding is that it's because of the contempt issues and the fact that the former president was making public statements about witnesses, court personnel, it plays into this entire issue of the fact that the judge is trying to keep the courtroom safe. And so the prosecutors have been given more leeway so that witnesses are not potentially intimidated and subway before they appear.

I do think as to Michael Cohen eventually taking the stand, one of the more interesting things as it relates to the contempt is whether or not his presence alone and his being on the witness stand, especially as this question is saying for a few days potentially might really bring this contempt issue to a head because if any witness is going to sort of generate energy from the former president, it will be Michael Cohen.

And then the judge is really going to have a decision about whether his threats of serious consequences are going to come to fruition.

HOLMES: And just a reminder that today there were four different instances that the prosecution had brought to say were violations of a gag order only one the judge was found was a violation of the gag order. Two of them that he did not say were violating the guy where they actually said he said were qualified under political speech because they were essentially going back to Michael Cohen, they were attacks on Michael Cohen after Michael Cohen had spent an extensive amount of time on television on his podcast in a book that he called revenge, going after Donald Trump, the judge found, okay, this particular stands are these two are not going to come into this as political speech.

So that's also an interesting factor in all of this as the two of them obviously have a toxic history together.

TAPPER: All right, everyone stick around.

Coming up next, the former Trump aide will be here to respond to his name being mentioned by Hope Hicks in testimony.

Keep it here.



TAPPER: Donald Trump just spoke as court wrapped for the day. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, we just heard two to three more weeks. I thought they were finished today, and they are finished today. What's happening? I thought there was going to be finished today and they want two to three more weeks, the judge asked them (ph), and playing right into the judge's hands.

The judge is so happy about two to three more weeks because they all want to keep me off the campaign trail. That's all this is about. This is about election interference, how do we stop him.


TAPPER: All right, just an excerpt from Mr. Trump's remarks after court adjourned today.

Let's bring in CNN's Daniel Dale.

He's fact-checking what we just heard from Mr. Trump.

Daniel, anything jump out at you?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Jake, I obviously can't definitively fact check what Mr. Trump thought would be the timeline for the trial, but I cant say there's no basis for thinking the prosecution case would be done today.

You know, all coverage, including ours, has emphasized that Michael Cohen is likely to be a key witness, that he's likely to take a while to do as testimony. Well, we haven't heard from him yet. There's an extensive witness list, of course not everyone will be called, but the prosecution does not near done it. So him saying he thought it was going to be done today, I think is a curious statement at best.

And I'll add, there's a couple of things he said and comments after court that we haven't played yet, that were just not true.

He said he's leading in every poll. He's not leading in every poll. He's leading in many polls, but we've had a couple of polls in recent days from ABC, from TIPP in which he's trailing.

He also claimed that the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, tossed out, not only tossed out this matter, but said you got to be kidding me with this. That's not what happened. In fact, the FEC as often with the FEC was deadlocked.

It's divided between Republican and Democratic appointed commissioners, the Democratic ones voted to proceed. The Republican ones voted against it. So it was dropped. They didn't say it was absurd or ridiculous.

TAPPER: Interesting stuff.

You know, Daniel, I always like your fact check. I also like it when you find comments curious.

DALE: Thanks, Jake. I'll continue to try to do so.

TAPPER: It's like -- it's like a different -- it's a new zone of fact checking.

DALE: Yeah, I'm expanding my repertoire, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, I know. I find that curious.

But, it's -- you know, you're an honest man, you're not -- if I can't fact check it.

All right. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

DALE: Thank you.


TAPPER: Let's bring in Hogan Gidley. He served as deputy press secretary in the Trump White House.

Good to see you, Hogan.

As we await more key witnesses to take the stand this week. I want to talk about testimony from former top Trump advisor Hope Hicks because she mentioned you once in testimony. A prosecutor read a statement given to "The Wall Street Journal" about whether Trump had been aware of a payment to Stormy Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford.

That article reads, quote: These are old recycled reports which were published and strongly denied prior to the election, a White House official said, responding to the allegation of a sexual encounter involving Mr. Trump and Ms. Clifford, the official decline to respond to questions about an agreement with Ms. Clifford. It is unknown whether Mr. Trump was aware of any agreement or payment involving her. That's "The Wall Street Journal", January 12th, 2018.

Now, court transcripts show that that Hope Hicks was asked if she's the one that gave the statement she said, no, I'm not. Prosecutor says who was the White House official quoted in the story. Hope Hicks said, I can't say for sure. I can't say for sure, but I think that it was Hogan Gidley, he was the deputy press secretary, unquote.

A, was it you? I don't know if you have any memory of that. And what did you make of this moment? Your name coming up in the trial.

HOGAN GIDLEY, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Nothing like being name-checked in this trial. In fact, I got a lot of texts from reporters saying, hey, man, this is the first time you've been name-checked. Get ready. You're going to be pulled into this somehow, someway. So it kind of made me (INAUDIBLE) a little bit.

And honestly, I don't even remember that situation or that comment. I'm not afraid to stand up and say if I said it, I'm the one who did it, of course. But I don't remember that, but it's always kind of funny to watch these things kind of bleed out of the courtroom and, you know, kind of capsulated other people.

So, no big deal. No harm, no foul, but it's just kind of funny.

TAPPER: Are you -- are you are you still in touch with Hope Hicks?

GIDLEY: Oh, yeah, yeah. We talk in texts pretty regularly. I kind of was reading through some of the transcripts that she -- she with what she said in the courtroom, just vintage Hope saying that Cohen I'd like to refer to himself as the fixer, but he was the one who usually broke it. I just had to chuckle at some of those comments she made, obviously saying that this was to protect Donald Trumps wife. Clearly, which I think really hurt the prosecutions case, bringing her up in that way.

And just knowing her the way I do, I can imagine how a gut wrenching this is for her, someone who served in the White House, who always had Donald Trump's best interests at heart. I then she kind of goes into private life, doing what she wants to do personally, professionally, and then kind of gets pulled back into these types of things and you saw kind of where her heart is on these matters when she broke down in tears. I think they had even take a recess because of it.

So she's a great person, and I hate the fact that that these -- these slime balls are trying to bring her into this whole process.

TAPPER: Have you have you talked to her since she had that moment where she broke down? They had to take a ten-minute recess. Have you have you talked to her? Is she doing okay?

Obviously, she's very loyal to Mr. Trump still. I'm sure that wasn't pleasant to do.

GIDLEY: No, it wasn't and I haven't spoken with her, but it's going to take a lot more than this, you know, sham, hoax, ridiculous trial to hurt Hope Hicks. I mean, she obviously faced some of the toughest fires, we all did, in that White House and that administration, doing one of the most high pressure, you know, highly consequential jobs on the face of the planet. And she handled herself really well.

A lot of people went to her, obviously whenever they wanted to talk to Trump, they went to her first because they clearly understood her wisdom and knowledge on how to deal with him, but also on matters with public relations and how to deal with the press and other things.

So she was a constant in that White House, did a great job, and I just hate this kind of stuff for her.

TAPPER: Today, Judge Merchan found Mr. Trump, President Trump in contempt for the 10th time he is -- has violated Merchan's gag order. Here's what Trump said on Real Americas Voices Radio that the judge said violated his gag order by talking about the jury. Take a listen.


TRUMP: You know, he's rushing the trial like crazy. Nobody's ever seen a thing like this. That jury was picked so fast -- 95 percent Democrats. The area is mostly all Democrat. You think of it as just a purely Democrat area. It's a very unfair situation, that I can tell you.


TAPPER: So I know it's difficult to get any primary, let alone Mr. Trump, to take advice in terms of what you should say or should not say.

But would you advise him to be more careful about talking about the jury or witnesses?

GIDLEY: Well, first things first. I mean, he's obviously right. We know the judge's payments to Joe Biden in political contributions. We know the history of his daughter and the way she's making money, millions of dollars for Democratic candidates clearly against Donald Trump. That's all part and parcel kind of where Donald Trump is mentally here.

And when he comes out and makes those statements, it's obvious the judge is bias and this gag order really, as I understand it, attorneys tell me, they're designed to protect the defendant against what the prosecution may say publicly.


So it's unconstitutional from the standpoint of Donald Trump didn't get to defend himself. But, of course, they can attack him. And you see that kind of manifests itself, too, with someone like Michael Cohen. On your air today and I've been watching all day, people have been

saying that, quite frankly, they haven't made the case against Donald Trump here, that they can't prove he violated the law and they're hinging the entire case on someone who's unhinged.

I mean, have you seen this guy's TikTok videos lately? I mean, I have more confidence in the future of Britney Spears, who dances around with knives, then Michael Cohen, he's got some serious problems and I don't think he's going to do well on that witness stand, especially considering he's a convicted liar. He's gone to jail for heaven sakes.

So I think the road is bright for Donald Trump at this point, despite the odds being stacked against them, despite the fact this judge is against them and it's a weaponized system against someone they just disagree with politically. But should he be saying these things publicly? Look, that's up to him and his attorneys, but I'll tell you this, as you know, Donald Trump is a counter-puncher, and he's not going to be silently feel like when he feels like he's being wronged.

TAPPER: The only thing I'm going to say and that was a lot, I don't have TikTok anymore but because of the national security threat from China. But I appreciate your, your younger, so it makes sense --

GIDLEY: Haven't either, but you can still watch him.

Okay. Well, in any case Bill Brennan is a former Trump attorney, has said the Judge Merchan is a fair and honorable, decent man and that's all I'm going to say in response to what you said. Well, that's not --


GIDLEY: Yeah, but that's not what I'm saying.

TAPPER: You're saying he's biased. He's a political --

GIDLEY: I mean, if you have his background is a little least.

TAPPER: He's a little -- yeah, you're saying he has a political bias and his daughter works for Democrats.


TAPPER: The daughter part is just factual --

GIDLEY: Well, and he himself donated to Biden and voted for him. So look, that's fine. But as a judge --


GIDLEY: You don't want any perception, a thought process. You would want to say, all right, look, I get it, I know I can be fair. But just to protect my family, to protect my own name, to protect the court and the proceeding, I would step back, but this guy no way I think he's kind of drunk on the thought of being the toast of the town and being invited all the cocktail parties, because that's a tough drug to give get rid of I can promise you that. TAPPER: Okay. Hogan Gidley, it's always good to see you, sir. Thank

you so much for joining us.

GIDLEY: Thanks, Jake. Anytime.

TAPPER: New sketches today show Donald Trump's stern reaction as Judge Juan Merchan found him in contempt for the 10th time. That's a Jane Rosenberg special. I can tell, with the shading of the cheekbones, a tenth time over gag order, and threatened jail time in this case.

Hear what Mr. Trump said that got him into trouble this time, were going to talk about the gag order issue, next.



TAPPER: And we're back with our breaking news coverage of Donald Trump's hush money cover-up trial before testimony started today. Judge Juan Merchan ruled that Donald Trump did violate the gag order in this case for the 10th time when he attacked the jury.

My panel's back with me.

Let's talk about what Hogan Gidley just said, former Trump White House deputy press secretary, because he had a lot of tough comments about -- well, Michael Cohen, but that's to be expected -- about Judge Merchan saying that he thought he was biased because he'd given money to Biden, which he had. He gave $35 donation and that his daughter is part for of a firm that makes millions of dollars for Democrats, which is I don't know about the financial well-being of the firm, but she works for a firm that helps Democrats. That's for sure.

What did you make of those arguments? You two?

CORDERO: Well, I think appearance of conflict is important. So there's sort of a -- you can either have the actual conflict of interests or you can have an appearance a conflict of interests. Judges do have to be concerned with that.

And so, based on probably more the daughters engagement, $35 sounds pretty small, you know, there is an argument that he should have recused, but he didn't. And judges do have discretion about whether or not to do that. Generally, in our current environment I don't like the arguments that go after the judges and trying to find oh, this judge should recuse. That judge should recuse. We have to at some point have confidence that the system is going to work itself out.

TAPPER: Right. I mean, one of the judges -- the judge in Florida hearing the classified documents case, Donald Trump actually appointed her to the bench. I mean, right? I mean --

CORDERO: Right? Well, you can have that in all sorts of circumstances where judges are appointed by the particular president. So then would any federal judge, so you can think about the January 6 cases, many January 6 cases have been heard by federal judges who were appointed by Jan -- by Donald Trump and President Donald Trump. And they have served honorably, fairly you make.

TAPPER: What do you make --

ROSSI: When I -- when I got hired by the Justice Department, I'm dating myself, in 1989, I remember vividly, I won't mention his name. He said when you're a federal prosecutor, you have to be pure than Caesar's wife.

If you apply that test to Merchan, he probably -- you could make the argument. He probably should have recused but here's where the rubber meets to road. He has bent over backwards with these gag orders. He's done everything in his power to show he can be fair and impartial. I would argue he's treated Mr. Trump too fairly. He should have --

TAPPER: Right, ten violations for anyone else.

ROSSI: If it were any other defendant, my 30 -- closer 30 years, that person would have been in lockup after the fifth gag order violation. So when they say he should have recused, he has done everything to benefit President Trump.

But if you apply the pure than Caesar's wife test, then Merchan, maybe. But if you apply that test to the United States Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas --


ROSSI: He has an actual conflict.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: So we only have a minute left. But one thing that interesting that you two have in common in addition to being amazing reporters, as you're both the children of judges, your dad was a federal judge. Your mom was one as well.

What do you think?

Well, let's start with you, Kristen, because you talked with your dad about whether Merchan should recuse.

HOLMES: Yeah, I mean, look, he's not going to make the choice for someone else, but he did say that he would have probably recused himself just given the high profile nature of this case.

TAPPER: Because of the daughter?


HOLMES: Because of -- because of the daughter and because, the fact that it was being brought up and you have to remember that this is not just about a conflict of interest in no way, shape or form, did he imply that Merchan maybe has a conflict of interests, but it's all about appearance of a conflict of interest.

And if there's an appearance, you also can bring that up in an appeal. And part of that is you never want your cases to be appealed and have you be part of that appeal process.

So in this conversation, he said that he would have likely recused himself from that.

TAPPER: And what about your mom?

GANGEL: My mother would not have recused herself because she thinks that I'm a separate person and she could -- she could judge.

She would never have made even the $35 contribution to any political campaign or cause, never would have happened.

TAPPER: That's an odd donation. It must have been like for a t-shirt or something like that.

GANGEL: Sounds right.

TAPPER: Very interesting. Thanks so much for the panel.

Much more of this big day in the husbandry cover up trial. Prosecutors saying just moments ago, they expect the case to go on for at least two more weeks.

The other big story today, the ceasefire and hostage deal that Israel is considering right now. We just learned it's not the same proposal that Israel helped craft in recent weeks. So what exactly is on the table here? That's next.