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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Stormy Daniels Testifies In Hush Money Trial; Judge Denies Trump's Request To Modify Gag Order. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 09, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Finally, we heard from a former White House gatekeeper whose desk was just outside the Oval Office during Trump's presidency, Madeleine Westerhout on the stand, continuing right now and she actually had an emotional here just moments ago as she recounted her departure -- her firing from the White House.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN's special coverage of this trial continues now with Jake Tapper on THE LEAD.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper in Manhattan, just outside the New York criminal courthouse where I spend much of the day, inside courtroom number 59 watching witnesses, including Stormy Daniels testifying the Donald J. Trump hush money cover up trial.

They have moved on to other there witnesses since Stormy Daniels, including Madeleine Westerhout, whose desk was right outside Trump's Oval Office. Today's testimony is due to end at any moment. Oh, it just has ended for the day, I'm told.

Well, this hour, I'm going to walk you through what I saw, what I sketched, what comes next, the highly skilled courtroom sketch artist Christine Cornell, whose work you're going to look at right now, and Jane Rosenberg, they set the scene today as Trump's lawyers cross- examined porn star and director Stormy Daniels.

Their clear objective, the defense attorneys, to demolish her credibility by suggesting the encounter never happened and she made it all up for money. Trump reportedly was seething over Daniels testimony from Tuesday, according to CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Daniels revealed embarrassing details Tuesday about the alleged sexual encounter in his hotel room at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006.

Daniels on Tuesday even suggested that while the sex was consensual, she did not want to do it and she regretted it. So Trump wanted to undermine her today. And remember that the judge has threatened Trump himself with jail time if he violates his gag order again, not by talking about any of the witnesses. So his attorneys rather, were the ones that went after her today. Before the judge leaves the bench today, we are expecting the defense to raise several issues, including a renewed motion for mistrial and challenges to the gag order.

CNN chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is here, along with Jeremy Saland, a former -- Saland -- former prosecutor for the Manhattan D.A.'s office.

While we watch for the defense motion to play out, let me help you understand a little bit more about what its like to be inside that trial. I was your eyes and ears inside the courtroom. I made this little diagram just so you understand what the courtroom is like.

It's about 25, 30-foot high ceilings, pretty high ceilings. This is where the spectators sit. Five spectators from the public are allowed and they'd get up very, very early in the crack of dawn to get one of those five seats, these blue dots are cops and they are throughout. In fact, if you -- if you have bad luck, you might not see anything other than the backside of a police officer for much of the court proceedings.

This is the most important stuff though. This is the front of the court. All right. This is where the jury is. Each one and the pink thing is a screen, each one of the jurors has their own screen where they can zoom in on the actual exhibits and evidence.

This is where the witness sits. The witness, by the way, sits like the judges stand is like up here, like you considered the witness stand and maybe even barely see the judge.

This is where the lawyer who is conducting either the cross or the redirect stands so you can theoretically come in -- when you come in over here if you're a witness, you walk in over here. It is possible to never make eye contact with Donald Trump, who's the T over here.

So Stormy Daniels talking to the attorneys, whether defense or prosecution here, here, the district attorney is there. Mr. Trump's sitting here, the judge here, stenographer here.

Mr. Trump, as far as I could tell, and this was my seat, I did not have a great seat over here, as far as I could tell, he was just looking this way the entire time. That Stormy Daniels was testifying, which meant that he could be looking at a screen here, a screen there, staring off into space. He did not appear to be looking directly at new witness.

Anyway, that is what the diagram is like. You agree with this? You were in --


TAPPER: I did this. Do you like this?

REID: When did you even buy the poster board?

TAPPER: Well, you know, I have -- I know a guy. So --

REID: You're a renaissance man, with sketches, poster board presentation.

TAPPER: But I just never understood that why -- why is it that story Daniels would have to crane her neck to look at Donald Trump? Okay. Because she's over here like now I understood it today.

Anyway, I'll be auctioning this off, 50 cents.

So, let's talk more about the trial, Paula. The defense --the motions, or we're told, about to begin in about ten minutes and the defense is going to move for a mistrial. They're taking a short break right now. The defense is going to move for mistrial. Why?

REID: They already did this the other day. They were not successful, but this is important to do to preserve this for an eventual appeal. If this doesn't go the way that they had hoped, they want to have this on the record, that they moved for a mistrial.


The last time they argued for mistrial, they argued that Stormy Daniels' testimony was prejudicial, that it just went are outside the bounds of what is relevant in this case.

We also expect --

TAPPER: When she was suggesting, by the way, that while it was consensual, she kind of felt pressured.

REID: That was one of the things that they objected to.

TAPPER: That is prejudicial.

REID: Yeah. I would've been -- that's why we had to listen to an extended a continuation of the cross earlier today because they believed that she did reputational damage and they had to repair that. They believe not only for the public, but also for their client who was really ticked off?

So they're also going to argue against Karen McDougal testifying.

Now, according to my sources, we don't actually expect Karen McDougal to testify at this point in the case. But they're going to argue along the same lines, they're going to argue that any testimony she would offer will also be outside anything that is material in this case. And they are going to again, they're going to argue that motion as well.

But at this point, she's not actually expected to take the stand.

TAPPER: And, Jeremy, there was another thing today that was interesting. So, it's a very beginning of court today, the defense attorney Susan Necheles, suggested that they wanted to introduce the fact that Stormy Daniels been arrested, and Judge Merchan was like, no. And he literally said something like anybody can be arrested. The

question is what she convicted. But you go -- he said something like, you could go outside the courtroom today and get arrested. It doesn't mean anything, which was an interesting thing to hear a judge say.

But she wasn't convicted. But then later on in the trial, when they were trying to degrade her credibility, Stormy Daniels, and they talked about the fact that she had some show that had something to do with the paranormal or a podcast or something. I don't know. I'm not really up on her oeuvre.

But anyway, but, but something about like occupant -- like she and her then-husband and a house in New Orleans and maybe it was haunted, although she admitted that it was actually a raccoon.

REID: Possibly.

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It's for entertainment, I think she said.

TAPPER: Anyway, and they were trying to say like, Stormy Daniels, you're a grifter. That's basically what they're suggesting, without using the word you're a grifter, you're telling people that you can communicate with their dead relatives. You can't, blah, blah, blah.

And then again, tried to inter -- inserts into the testimony that the reason that -- this arrest -- whatever this arrest was for something to do with her now ex-husband, and again, the judge, no, you can't do that, slapping it down.

What was that? Just a little revenge?

SALAND: What was it? It's an attempt to dirty her up as best as they could and I think they went a little too far there. They're beating up this woman, making sure she works in sex. She doesn't tell the truth. The sex wasn't real in the porn movies, of 150 she made, although she did a really great in response.

TAPPER: Two hundred -- I'm sorry, 200 movies.

SALAND: I thought it was 150.

TAPPER: Compilations, she said. She wrote or directed 150.

SALAND: That might be it.

TAPPER: Please do not give her career short.

SALAND: This is very true, but she responded right? Which those were as real as it what happened to me that night.

To your question about the arrest --


SALAND: -- the arrest isn't appropriate. But anyone could be arrested, 100 percent. A conviction is quite different. Conviction is absolutely different.

And within reason, some convictions wouldn't even come in if they're beyond, you know, let's say ten years and not relevant to what's going on here, her credibility.

So there were absolutely trying to take as many shots as they could. One of the problems is when you have a client who's looking in anger and looking in vengeance, really trying to pummel and pulverize, that does not always play well for the jury and they pay well for politics outside the courtroom, but not necessarily in a jury. It doesn't look good.

TAPPER: Or for client service inside the courtroom.

SALAND: A hundred percent.

TAPPER: If Donald Trump is mad and want -- and they're like, look, you don't have to -- please don't attack her. We'll do it, right?

REID: This is what happened.

SALAND: It's not helpful.

REID: That's what this was this morning, right, because on Tuesday, we saw his first outburst audibly cursing. He was admonished by the judge. And it's clear that they don't want to violate the gag order. They don't want another outburst.

So they did what he wants to do, which is attack her, everything from the indictment candles, right to her career and adult films, to the paranormal possum, they covered it all in the hopes that that would appease their client and keep them in line, because right now, jail is a possibility if he violates the gag order.

TAPPER: You can't be thrown terms around like indictment candles. Our poor audience has not been brought up to speed if the fact that there is some store that sells a store -- a St. Stormy Daniels indictment candle. We'll tell you about that in a bit.

But Trump's defense team went to great lengths to paint her as this opportunist grifter, et cetera, who gained publicity, made a lot of money off what they said was a nonexistent sexual encounter with Trump.

They pointed to many things, including -- here's the list the non- disclosure agreement, the NBC documentary a book contract, merchandise, and there's -- there's your indictment candle.

REID: It's no mine.


TAPPER: Well, not yet. I'll buy you one.

REID: Thank you. TAPPER: Strip -- the strip club tour, which they mentioned and showed the pictures of many times -- it's -- it was the make America horny again tour and Stormy kept saying, I hated that title, I hated the title, and then they'd bring up a Instagram post of her --

SALAND: She didn't want the title.

TAPPER: -- scantily clad with the make America horny again, reality show, the paranormal TV show.

Now she says, she yes, she made money off of Trump, but it also cost her.


Here's, oh, here's the merchant. There's the indictment candle on the rights.

REID: And the comic book.

TAPPER: And a comic book, the Stormy Daniels political power, the hashtag Team Stormy. There's -- there's -- there's the merch we're talking about. But their point is she made it up and she's making money.

Do you think that the jury -- what -- you're shaking your head?

SALAND: I'm shaking my head because she said at the end it was a net loss to her. You know, she didn't make all that money. It's a net loss to her. It's a net loss to her emotionally or safety but this is sort of a sideshow.

This is -- we had -- remember, we had the doorman who had a complete total fabricated story. I think it was $30,000 he got paid. This is somewhat irrelevant.

It's -- what this is important too is, what was Donald Trump's intent? What was his motive? Although a motive doesn't have to be proven. And it was to help and fix the election and shut her down.

So what she made and what she did is really not that central to the case. In fact, arguably -- though I think it's important she was there -- they should have had her off as quickly as possible and be done with her.

TAPPER: The defense?

SALAND: Yes. Because other thing -- other than trying to make her to be exploitive, blackmailing bad actor, okay, I get that. I get that, but then you run the risk of beating her up too much and alienating the jury about a woman who again came from a single mother, who's an equestrian, top graduate in her high school class, who's made a life for herself, maybe not the one you were. I would want, but, you know, she was in a room with the former president or at the time possible president, or he was much younger then, a man of power and money and she was 20-something years old. TAPPER: We got a lot more to go through and we're still waiting for

the lawyers. They just went back into the courtroom for these motions to dismiss and more.

Stick around as I said, Donald Trump has seemed just walked in. We're waiting for the defense to raise several issues with the judge now that the testimony is wrapped for the day and the jury has been dismissed. Could a renewed motion to mistrial impact the case? Will the judge consider changes to Trump's gag order?

Two defense attorneys who have previously both work with Mr. Trump will join us next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back. We have some breaking news. We are back outside the courthouse as Donald Trump's criminal hush money cover up trial is underway in the big building behind me. The defense is now raising several issues with Judge Juan Merchan, including a mistrial motion.

I want to bring in former Trump attorney Jim Trusty, and Manhattan criminal defense trial attorney Stacy Schneider, who was also a contestant on "The Apprentice". She knows Trump. She knows the judge. She knows prosecutors in this case.

So right now, there are motions going on in court, but the breaking news and the reason we did the breaking news thing at the top of this block is we were just told by Todd Blanche in court, he announced that the prosecution has informed the defense they do not intend to call Karen McDougal as a witness. Karen McDougal, 1998 playmate of the year who has alleged relationship with Mr. Trump around that same time from 2006 to 2007.

And also was the recipient allegedly of hush money in the form of payment for a column she was supposed to write for some fitness magazine published by David Pecker's tabloid empire.

Any -- in any case, I'm mentioning this because that was the theoretical basis for calling her.

But, Jim Trusty, let me get your reaction to this news at prosecution has said, were not going to call Karen McDougal after all.

JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yeah. They just avoided self- immolation. I mean, really, even if they had an inclination to call all her and have yet another credibility fight on their hands probably, although maybe not as bad as Stormy's. The Harvey Weinstein reversal is a reminder that New York state courts, like many, frown on other offense evidence -- in other words, uncharged conduct being brought into a charged case.

So, McDougal would have been a silver bullet on appeal for the defense if she testified. And I suspect somebody at the D.A.'s office said, guys, whether you want to or not you just can't put her on. Its going to bring it back in a New York minute as they say.

TAPPER: Do you agree with that, Stacy and do you think that this is a decision specifically made because of that Weinstein ruling a few weeks ago?

STACY SCHNEIDER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE TRIAL ATTORNEY: This is a distinction with the Weinstein ruling, and that the other acts and events that were brought into the Weinstein case, were unrelated to the rapes he was charged with in the trial. This is different here because there was this is Molineux in New York. What we call Molineux material.

It shows an alleged pattern or scheme by a defendant. So the reason why the prosecution -- why these people are called in because Karen McDougal was not part of the criminal charges. The underlying criminal charges for the falsifying business records exception, the reason that the catch and kill was brought in through David Pecker, through Keith Davidson, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, was to show that Trump was allegedly involved in this scheme or pattern of hushing this information before the election.

So I think that's a very important distinction with the Weinstein appeal ruling and doesn't have place here. And I also think not having Karen McDougal in the case is a good decision because I think Stormy Daniels was damaging and off with all of the tawdry sex allegations and what went on in that hotel room. I don't think having another woman come in who is alleged to have had a year-long affair with Donald Trump, is going to help the defense case in any way. I think there needs to do more damage control from Stormy Daniels.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Jim, I want to get your reaction to a post on Twitter from former -- former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. He says, quote, Trump is his lawyers' worst enemy, The smart strategy would have been to stipulate that the encounter with Daniels took place, so there would be no reason for her to testify. Instead, they're heeding his wish, going after her hard in cross-examination. Jurors won't like it, unquote.

What do you think of that? And would it have been possible just to stipulate, that Mr. Trump's stipulates that he met Stormy Daniels and she alleges something and he disagrees. But either way, he didn't want the story out there.

I mean, could that have been stipulated even if without acknowledging something he didn't want to acknowledge?

TRUSTY: Well, you can stipulate almost anything, but both parties have to agree. I'm not convinced that Bragg's office was poised to agree to some kind of equivocating stipulation involving Stormy Daniels.

Look, Jake, I mean, you know, from having me on from the beginning, I've said focus all attention on Michael Cohen that where you want this battle from the defense is on the issue of whether Michael Cohen and Michael Cohen alone can be believed enough to support a criminal conviction.

I will tell you -- I did change a little bit in terms of some of the cross-examination about Stormy Daniels. I don't think shed comes off as cleanly as some of your folks are suggesting as she came off as a grifter.

I've talked to a lot of dead people and they say they've never talked to Stormy. But, look, the bottom line is she was doing some -- some pretty manipulative things and then pretending that the NDA was somehow a protective measure instead of a money grab. I don't think common sense New York jurors are going to buy that.

So, I kind of retreat from my original instinct to be very minimalist and succinct with Stormy, which is consistent with the stipulation idea. And I think they probably scored some points, but you have to be in there and watch it blow by blow to know whether the jury is really feeling -- feeling the pain.

TAPPER: Right now in the courtroom, we should just bring you up to speed. The prosecutor is arguing that modifying the gag order to allow Mr. Trump's to respond to some of the things witnesses are saying would, quote, signal to future witnesses that they could be at risk as well.

As, you know, Stacy, one of the things that the defense attorneys have been arguing is that Michael Cohen is out there hammering Donald Trump all the time and it's not fair that Donald Trump can't respond because, you know, their argument is this is political speech, political debate. And that is the argument going on.

I want to bring up, Stacy, more of what happened today, because look at what happened when Trump's attorneys asked about the sexual encounter, the alleged sexual encounter between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, the defense attorney says, quote, this wasn't the first time in your life someone made a pass at you? Stormy Daniels: No. But it is the first time they had a bodyguard standing outside the door. Daniels then added that Trump was twice her age and bigger than her.

Again, we talked about this earlier, one of the things that makes Donald Trump so mad, one of the things that the judge seemed so irritated by on Tuesday was this insinuation by Stormy Daniels and I'm not saying it wasn't -- it's not true, but this insinuation that while it was sent consensual sex, she didn't want to do it and she felt pressured. Even though she says it was consensual. She's not consensual. She's not claiming she wasn't.

Doesn't that come pretty close to the same thing? What she just said?

SCHNEIDER: You know, I have a different take on the testimony, just looking at her words, being someone who actually defends sexual assault cases. I took her testimony as she was very clear that it was kind of like an ew factor like I didn't really want to have sex with Donald Trump, but I was in that experience. And how did I get myself into this position? And I just kind did it and it was more of an emotional thing that I

didn't want to do it, but I don't think in any point in her testimony, she came across as this was a non-consensual act. This was --

TAPPER: No, no, no, of course.


TAPPER: But there is -- but there's a line between look, there's a wide line between rape, which no one is alleging --


TAPPER: -- and falling in love and the -- you know, et cetera, et cetera. And like, she was definitely saying, oh, my god, how did I get into myself into this situation? Oh my god, I can't believe I have to go do this.

SCHNEIDER: Right. But, you know, I think there was a big tactical mistake by the defense team because when you have a bad witness, Stormy Daniels is a bad witness for the defense. She's testifying to bad and embarrassing facts, he doesn't want -- he's denied this sexual allegations. He doesn't want that out in court.

Stormy Daniels is going to have the last word if Donald Trump does not testify about whether or not there was a sexual encounter. So you can see he forced his lawyers to go in there and ask these extra questions. Most defense attorneys would not have gone back and touch what happened in that hotel room in two seconds, they would have just focused on her prior inconsistent statement from January of 2018 where she said this didn't happen.

TAPPER: Interesting stuff. Stacy Schneider and Jim Trusty, thank you so much.

Jim, next time you're having a say on -- say hi to Ben Franklin for me.

Happening right now, the court is going through several motions from Trump's legal team. The jury has been in dismissed for the day. We're following it all. We're going to squeeze in a quick break.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back live with our breaking news coverage of Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial. Right now, Trump's lawyers are raising several motions to Judge Juan Merchan, including that Mr. Trump should, quote, be allowed to respond publicly, unquote, to Stormy Daniels testimony. Joining me right outside the courthouse adjacent my seat here, CNN's Paula Reid and Kristen Holmes.

So, first of all, let's talk about this, Paula, because if the gag order Mr. Trump's under is meant for him to not talk about those who are testifying, why not allowing him to respond to Stormy Daniels now that she's done? I mean, he can't intimidate her anymore, right? They can't -- they're not going to call her back.

REID: This always possibility. So that's why you don't want to open that door there. I think the bigger question is, why not gag everyone involved in this case? Because there are some questions about -- more so Michael Cohen attacking Trump, but Stormy Daniels has, of course, attacked him in the past.

But I want to note that in the last litigation they had a gag order for additional violations that prosecutors alleged.

There were two having to do with attacks on Michael Cohen, and the judge said that for both of those, the prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that those were not protected political speech.

TAPPER: Right.

REID: He left the door open just a little bit. He's not going to amend the gag order, but he's saying, look, I get that at some point if you're being attacked, you can respond.

TAPPER: Yeah, he seemed to kind of grant there without officially declaring it open season on Michael Cohen.

REID: Yes, exactly, yes.

TAPPER: Yeah. Yeah.

And Trump, we have to note, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday has not gone after Stormy Daniels.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and we are expecting him to go to the cameras here when he leaves the courthouse and roughly the next ten minutes and obviously, we'll wait and see.


But I do think when it comes to the gag order, Donald Trump does not want to violate those gag order. There's been a lot of talk about the fact that he's a millionaire, billionaire, that he doesn't need the $10,000 and he's going to do what he wants.

Donald Trump doesn't want to part with his money. So, he doesn't want to violate the gag order.

The other part of this is that despite the fact that he says that he's like Nelson Mandela and being politically persecuted, he doesn't want to actually go to jail. I mean, the man is a germophobe. So, the idea that he would be seeking that out.

Now, we saw what he did yesterday or two days ago when he came out and it was almost as though he was following a very tight script. He seemed almost unenthusiastic talking about his campaign out there at the microphones.

But you can until he had been briefed on what exactly he could say. And I think you're likely to see the same thing today because again, they don't -- he does not want to violate the gag order.

TAPPER: Yeah. So one thing, Paula, you've been in that courtroom. I've been in the courtroom. One of the things that I really struck me today was the dichotomy between the momentousness of this moment, a former president, potentially the next president, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in a criminal courtroom with serious allegations being made against him.

And all the weight of that, and this gross and silly and stupid, and in some cases, nickel and dimey, kind of like ticky tack charges. And just the not to say that like he didn't break the law, I have no idea. But I don't know. It just pales in comparison to the other cases against him, national security secrets, insurrection in which he's accused of trying to undermine democracy compared to this stuff, when were talking about Stormy Daniels calling him an orange turd that needs to be flushed. It's just -- it's kind of mind-boggling.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I felt that too at times it lacks the weight of the other cases.

TAPPER: At times.

REID: Yes.

TAPPER: The whole time, all of it.

REID: I was told -- to be fair, the prosecutors have tried to attach a significance to it, which is they said this is about election interference. And that is a significant thing.

But what they have actually charged is falsifying business records, 34 counts, and that's when again, it doesn't feel as weighty, but they are trying to the charging. This is a felony, arguing all of this was done to help his chances 2016, to reframe it as election interference, to give it again, that weight and that half -- that's what they said in their opening statements, is that what the jury will believe? I don't know.

TAPPER: Well, if it's true what he did that he did what he did. He did do it to hide it, at least partially from the public. The question now is whether he did it entirely for the public or for also from Melania a little bit.

Kristen, Trump insiders say Trump's former personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, who's on the stand, is potentially a very important witness, similar to Hope Hicks.

She saw so much when she worked for Mr. Trump, both on the campaign and at the White House.

What do you think? HOLMES: I think that she is very significant in the sense that she did

see everything. Again, we've talked about this before, but this is not a traditional White House. So the idea that a special assistant who's sat outside and for all intensive purposes was doing scheduling or making calls would have this big of a role, that's really unprecedented. We hadn't seen that before.

But in Trump's White House, everything was different. Someone like Madeleine would have had full access to the former president, did have full access. Remember, Donald Trump didn't pick up his own phone to make phone calls or texts at all. He would use peoples own who was around them and that included Madeleine Westerhout, people needed to get in touch with Donald Trump. They'd often reach out to people like Hope Hicks or Madeleine.

She was in and out of his office. She saw every single person who was in and out of his office. She was making lists of who was visiting at various times and she would have had unprecedented amount of access to the former president in ways that even his own cabinet members wouldn't have had.

TAPPER: And speaking of a list, the list of people who came in with Donald Trump, his posse, as it were labeled, as if he was like Biggie Smalls like that. He walks in -- he's got Senator Rick Scott of Florida is with him. Boris Epshteyn, Alina Habba, plus of course, all the lawyers, is it important to him to have like a big group of supporters? You think were going to see like, you know, Elise Stefanik.

HOLMES: It's possible.


HOLMES: Particularly given the fact that we saw Rick Scott, I mean, now were opening a whole new door of potential people who could come.

But Donald Trump wants to look like he has a lot of support, but its not just one sided. I've also heard that certain people have reached out to Trump's team asking if they can come and sit in court because they want to show their support.

I mean, remember where we are right now. Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. There's a chance he could be the next president of the United States. There's a lot of people who want to be on his good side if that is in case to happen, Rick Scott being one of them, Elise Stefanik being another one, or she's potentially vying to be the -- maybe vice presidential candidate.

So you're going to see people cycling in and out because it's a two- way street. Donald Trump wants to show that he has support and people want to show that they're giving it to him.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen, thanks so much.

Paula, I will see you back in a few minutes. That's why I let her having extra word there. REID: OK.

TAPPER: Just moments ago, testimony in the hush money trial from Donald Trump's former personal assistant who sat right outside the Oval Office.


And earlier, how Trump's own written words were used against him in trial.

We're back with much more from the courthouse. We're going to squeeze in a quick break. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we're back outside court as the defense is renewing its motion for mistrial, arguing that prosecutors asked questions they should not have related to the alleged sexual encounter between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels in 2006.

Moments ago, the judge denied Donald Trump's request that the gag order be modified. Mr. Trump wanted to be able to respond publicly to the testimony from Stormy Daniels now that she's done at least for now, that was flatly rejected.

CNN chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is here, along with Jeremy Saland, former prosecutor for the Manhattan D.A.'s office, and one of the thanks for going over right now, Jeremy is the fact that in the view of the defense attorneys.


The testimony that came out Tuesday was so prejudicial because it suggested that the sex was not consensual. Even though Stormy Daniels said it was consensual, she said other things. Donald Trump was bigger than me. I didn't want to do it.

The Todd Blanche, the defense attorney, is saying the fact that it was introduced, that there was no condom worn during this acts in his view, is a quote, dog whistle for rape.

How strong a case does he have?

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER PROSECUTOR, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: I think he's going to find themselves in the same position he was when he first made the application. I think the judge is going to deny it one of the things, if you recall that Judge Merchan addressed was you didn't object, you didn't object early enough, you didn't object often enough, and maybe not those exact words, but it's incumbent upon you as a defense to make those representations or objections, pardon of me. That's number one.

And number two, nothing has changed since that time since that initially argument was made. So I would assume you will sustain this and say no, or we're going to proceed with the case. But keep in mind at the end of the people's direct case when they are done, there'll be another application to move for trial or dismissal. So it can be renewed.

TAPPER: Yeah. And so, the other thing is that the judge is saying is, you sustained during trial and I mean, you objected during the trial and I sustain those objections. So the jury's already been told to disregard.

REID: Yeah. And they're going to get a limiting instruction. So that was a bit of a win for the Trump team. But look, what happened Tuesday, this really antagonize that the defendant and suggestion that this was not consensual. This was 100 percent on their minds yesterday, and that's when they decided to go longer in this cross as we reported and address this issue because this was something that really upset the defendant, arguably has nothing to do with the charges in this case, but this was something that they wanted to address because they believe that its spoke to reputational damage.

So we're not only talking about the courtroom that you were in, we're talking about the court of public opinion. That's part of why they spent so much time on it.

TAPPER: Yeah. So one of the other things, obviously, the defense spent much of the de trying to destroy Stormy Daniels' reputation. One of the things that they talk about is her different stories over the years and she's been telling the story in different ways since 2006 when an allegedly happened about -- about the meal that they've supposed -- he supposedly invited her for and inconsistencies about her story.

So the defense pointed to this 2018 interview with Anderson Cooper. Take a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Did you to go out for dinner that night?


COOPER: You had dinner in the room?



TAPPER: But she also said -- she said you had dinner -- she says you had dinner in the room there, but in court, she said that they had no food, there was no food.

Now, in response, Stormy testified, we did not have any food. I did not eat any food. I maintain that in every interview that is not changed.

Necheles, the defense attorney, says when you said to Anderson Cooper you didn't really mean you had dinner, you meant something else? Daniel said we had dinner time in the room. Necheles says your words, don't mean what they say, do they?

I mean, they didn't have dinner, they did have dinner. Does it matter?

REID: So, Susan Necheles, the point she's making in front of the jury is that we can't believe you. You say one thing, then you say another. That's the point that they were trying to get when they spent so much time on the semantic meaning of dinner.

And it doesn't really matter again for the facts of the case for falsifying business records. But what she gave prosecutors was an account of what exactly was worth $130,000 in October 2016, and they were trying to at a minimum sow some doubt about her version of events.

TAPPER: Is that effective?

SALAND: Yeah, I don't think it's that effective. I think what the defense may want to do is make this a sex case because it's not a sex case, the prosecution has to bring it back. That's Paula just said. It's falsifying business records.

Remember, the doorman lied, absolutely lied. There was no other child and you still paid him. This is a falsifying business records. It makes no difference if Stormy Daniels told you the truth, 50 percent or lie completely, because it's not about her. It's not about her.

TAPPER: So there's another moment, Trumps defense team appears to accuse Stormy of making the whole story up. They say the defense attorney says, Susan Necheles, you have a lot of experience of making phony stories about sex appear to be real. This is a nod to her film career in adult films.

She says, wow, that's just -- that's not how I would put it. The sex in the films is very much real just like what happened to me in that room.

Now, to be clear, the defense didn't say the sex wasn't real. It was making phony stories about sex. But it didn't feel like they scored at any points though.

REID: Only with their client. That's what this was for. This was for an audience of one, like make him feel that she was attacked and that he was vindicated so we won't violate the gag order or have court outburst. Otherwise, not, this does -- this isn't going to change the outcome of this case.

TAPPER: So I wanted to ask you this, Jeremy, because it does seem to me -- these are all very effective attorneys and all that.

But, Susan Necheles, Trumps attorney, said to Stormy Daniels you know, you said that you're integral to Donald Trump going to jail and she said, where did I say that? Show me where I said that. And she shows this tweet.


It's a tweet from Daniels that call falls Trump an orange turd that she's going to flush.

Daniels said that was in response to someone else's post. So the defense says you are responding to the post, someone else's post there, Daniels, yeah, someone calling me a human toilet. So I capitalize on the joke defense. The other posts, Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, aka the human toilet, or their star witnesses, right? Daniels: Yes.

Defense: You said exactly. Making me the best person to flush the orange turd down. Daniels: Yes. I don't see instrumental or jail there. You're putting words in my mouth.

I mean, she's right, she was putting words in their mouth. Does that hurt the attorney? No?

SALAND: I think if you're putting words, they're not accurate, and then the prosecution comes back and challenged it effectively, or the defendant or pardon me, the witness challenges that effectively. It makes it look a little sleazy. It makes him look a little bad as an attorney.

But again, this is a sideshow. I think part of the argument right here of what the defense is trying to do is make it about Stormy Daniels, because if you can make it about Stormy Daniels and you can put some doubt in her and her credibility and a veracity, then you could get them away from what the case is about and not about falsifying business records without a former porn star who's trying to go after the former president.

TAPPER: All right. Paula and Jeremy, stick around.

So, Judge Juan Merchan has just denied Trump's request to modify the gag order so he could come out, right at those fences where you see right there and talk about Stormy Daniels now that her testimony is over at least for now, that request was denied.

Trump's legal team has also renewing their request for a mistrial based on what they say it was prejudicial information that Stormy Daniels offered in testimony on the stand. Those arguments are happening right now. We're going to squeeze in another quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We're back with the breaking news.

Judge Merchan, the judge in the New York hush money trial, is hearing a series of motions from Donald Trump's defense team.

CNN's Kara Scannell was just in the courtroom.

Kara, Trump's request to modify the gag order so that he could respond to Stormy Daniels testimony, at least in part, what was denied. Tell us about how that went down. KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. So the judge just denied that motion to modify the gag order and Trump's lawyers had said that they wanted at modified because they said that Stormy Daniels story had changed from what she had initially told in 2018, through media interviews to what she testified on the stand, and they said that in part their allegation is that it changed because she made the suggestion that the her encounter with Trump may not have been consensual.

Now, Daniels testified that it was consensual, but she also said that she blacked out at one point and that she was surprised and shocked to see Trump on the bed in his boxers and a t-shirt. But what Trumps lawyers are saying is that in news media, on television people, including political pundits, were talking about Daniels testimony and this change. And they were arguing that Trump should have an opportunity to respond to that, so voters could hear what his response is.

Prosecutor strongly pushed back about that, saying that they had some witnesses, including some of the witnesses that are brought in to introduce records. So they're called custodial witnesses. They said that some of these witnesses express their own fear and concern about testifying in this trial, and they did not have anything significant at stake with Donald Trump's.

So they said that there was still fear. In fact, they said there was fear in the eyes of Daniels because on one of the forms, her personal address was listed there, saying that this is very much a real risk and they said that is a risk because it's Donald Trump's own rhetoric that he continues to make, statements about people. And they pointed to a statement and that they pulled from an expert of Donald Trumps book in which he repeatedly has said in a couple of excerpts in eye for an eye and that you should go after someone who comes after you.

So the judge agreeing with prosecutors in saying that he was not going to modify the gag order to let Trump respond to Stormy Daniels, her testimony in the past few days. They're actually currently arguing again, Trump's requests for mistrial. His lawyers are saying again about this testimony that Daniels gave some of the details that she's testified about in this trial that she is not publicly said about her concerns about the bodyguard being at the door.

They're saying that all of that is not what was at stake in 2016. It was not the reason why Michael Cohen would have paid for the story and so, they're saying that that actually goes beyond what was supposed to be allowed in this case. So, prosecutors pushing back on that, saying Daniels hasn't changed her story, saying that they were careful not to solicit some explicit the details, including more details about their sexual encounter and said that they were working to keep her testimony in line with what the judge had said.

Now, the judge, I don't believe has yet ruled on this. They've been arguing pretty, going back and forth pretty aggressively over this issue.

One other issue that Trumps lawyer had initially flag he wanted to bring up. Was that they didn't want Karen McDougal to testify. Now, they said that they'd been informed by the prosecutors that shell would not be taking the stand, so she will not be appearing this case. And as this is winding down, there's really only one have significant witness left and that is Michael Cohen. But prosecutors have not yet said when they will call him, Jake.

TAPPER: That's right.

It's interesting that the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Steinglass, I think is his name, said that there are a lot of salacious details. His words that they did not include, that they purposely did not include and still were not in the case and they were not seeking to embarrass Mr. Trump. I suppose that's true at least as far as anybody who's familiar with Stormy Daniels book or her appearance on Jimmy Kimmel knows, but still what came out was, I think it's -- I mean, I can understand the argument that it was prejudicial because she certainly seem to be suggesting that she didn't want it to happen even if it was -- even if it was not coerced.

SCANNELL: Right. That is what the heart of their argument is for a mistrial because they say that that went far beyond what Daniels had said.


And its not what was at stake in 2016 and not what the prosecution theory that Trump wanted to keep from the voters at that time, because that was a different story according to Trumps side, and they've been arguing this, that argue that yesterday, that bringing it up again today and the prosecution is trying to say that she didn't change her story and that Necheles. Trump's lawyer, had an opportunity to ask her questions about that on cross-examination.

And so, the jury would have heard that, so there's not need for a mistrial in the case. It does not appear that the judge has ruled on this, yet. He did deny the motion yesterday, however.

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

Some rather dramatic moments as court runs a bit late today, the defense team pushing for a mistrial, trying to get parts of the gag order lifted. Now that one of the witnesses, Stormy Daniels, has finished testifying, we're going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.