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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Tomorrow: Closing Arguments In Donald Trump's Trial; Tornadoes & Severe Storms Kill At Least 21 In U.S.; Netanyahu Calls Deadly Strike In Rafah Camp A "Tragic Mistake"; Judge's Jury Instructions Critical To Trump Case; Trump Heckled And Booed At Libertarian Convention. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 27, 2024 - 16:00   ET


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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Closing in on closing arguments.

THE LEAD starts right now.

We're less than 24 hours away from the prosecution and the defense making their final pitches to the jury in Donald Trump's hush money cover-up trial. How strong is the case going into this final phase. A panel of legal experts and a former New York judge will join THE LEAD.

Plus, a tragic mistake. That's what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is calling the military strike on a refugee camp in Ga -- in Rafah. Gaza authorities saying it killed dozens, Israel insisting its forces were going after Hamas leaders.

And killer tornadoes. At least 21 people dead after devastating storms tore across the central U.S. over the holiday weekend. That's severe weather now, heading east may disrupt your plans to get home.



I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper today.

In less than 24 hours, the jury will hear closing arguments in the unprecedented first ever criminal trial of a former president. Prosecutors will try to weave together weeks of testimony and evidence to convince the jury that Donald Trump is guilty of falsifying business records with the intent of influencing the 2016 election.

Now much of their case hinges on the testimony of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer who testified on the stand for hours and whose credibility was repeatedly called into question by the defense. Jurors have been away since Tuesday and after this Memorial Day break, they'll likely begin deliberating the fate of the former president on Wednesday. Already, some members of the public are lining up. You can see them there camping out in the hopes of getting a spot inside the court to witness the final phase of this historic case.

CNN's Kara Scannell has been inside the courtroom for weeks and weeks and weeks throughout this trial. She takes a look at what both the prosecution and the defense must do tomorrow for successful closing arguments.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump watching NASCAR in North Carolina this weekend while his hush money trial approaches the final lap in New York.

REPORTER: Are you going to win North Carolina?


SCANNELL: Trump's lawyers and prosecutors will square off trying to win over the jury of seven men and five women. Prosecutors called 20 witnesses over five weeks and in their closing arguments, they're expected to tie testimony together with a paper trail of text messages, phone calls, and the records at the center of the case.

The 11 invoices so seeking payment pursuant to a retainer agreement, a dozen vouchers and 11 checks most signed by Trump.

REPORTER: Mr. Trump, how do you feel going into closing?

TRUMP: Very good. I think we have a great case that's put on. There is no crime.

SCANNELL: During the trial, the jury heard from former members of Trump's inner circle, the publisher of the "National Enquirer", David Pecker, campaign aide, Hope Hicks, and his former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is the only witness to directly tied Trump to the cover up.

Trump's attorneys are up first and closings and are expected to attack Cohen's credibility, arguing to the jury that they cannot find Trump guilty based on the testimony of a convicted liar.

TRUMP: Michael Cohen is a convicted liar and he's got no credibility whatsoever.

SCANNELL: Cohen was on the witness stand for five days, telling the jury, Trump called adult film actress Stormy Daniels story a disaster for his campaign and directed Cohen to take care of it. Cohen testifying he spoke with Trump twice to get his approval just before wiring the $130,000 payment to Daniels' attorney to block her story of an alleged affair with Trump from becoming public to influence the 2016 election. Trump denies the affair.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I can't even tell you how many times he said to me, you know, I hate the fact that we did it. And my comment to him was, but every person that you've spoken to told you it was the right move.

SCANNELL: He told the jury that Trump signed off on the repayment scheme in a meeting at Trump Tower with former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Cohen walked the jury through the 34 allegedly falsified five documents, testifying there was no retainer agreement. The money was payback for the Daniels' deal.

COHEN: There's $35,000 check was one of 11 check installments that was paid throughout the year while he was president.


The president of the United States thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws.

SCANNELL: Trump attorney Todd Blanche has used Cohen's own words to bolster their defense that Cohen would say anything to take Trump down and is out for revenge.

COHEN: I truly (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hope that this man ends up in prison.


SCANNELL (on camera): That closing arguments are expected to go all day tomorrow. And then on Wednesday, the judge expects to instruct the jury on the law, that is what the prosecution needs to prove for the jury to come up with a verdict of guilty.

Now, Phil, these deliberations will begin thereafter and it will go for as long as is needed in this case until this jury reaches a verdict. And whatever it is, it will be historic in this Donald Trump being the first former American president facing trial.

MATTINGLY: And we know you'll be there every step of the way. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.

Let's discuss now with our legal experts, Shan Wu, Brandi Harden, Ankush Khardori.

Brandi, I want to start with you. When we talk about closing arguments summations, what are we expecting? What does each shy trying to get out of their last real shot in front of jury?

BRANDI HARDEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's just what it is. You're last real shot to convince the jury that what you're arguing is correct, that your side is actually the right side. And so, closing arguments should take all of the things that have happened throughout the trial and tie them up in a nice, neat theory of the case that explains this is why my side of the case is correct.

MATTINGLY: It's -- real quick, because I got to let questions to get to. But can you win or lose a case and a closing?

HARDEN: You could. But ultimately the science really says that jurors have made up their mind by opening statements. And so as the evidence trucks along, it's very unlikely that you're really going to win or lose at this point, people have probably made up their minds by now.

MATTINGLY: Shan, you wrote for "The Daily Beast", quote, the prosecution has an abundance of actual evidence versus personal attacks using its closing. But the evidence must be carefully woven into a simple tale. The jury understands -- that the jury understand something along lines, have Trump tried to cover up his payments to cover up his sexual encounter because he worried the publicity might hurt his election chances.

Now, even if the prosecution keeps it simple, like that, can the defense still salvage the case because of the number one player involved in this, Michael Cohen?

SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they can, but I don't think they can salvage it just by repeating the sort of personal insults and attacks on Cohen. They need to zero in on something that might be weaker. For example, the knowledge that Trump had of the way the entries are actually being falsified. Cohen can't give that much specifics on that because Trump theoretically, it was careful not to give the specific so they can focus on things like that and maybe build the exaggeration into that.

But I think if they just come out with the he's a liar, worst liar ever, it's just like a gift to the prosecution because they can always go over and point to Trump and say, wait, if you don't like Cohen, look who hired him.

MATTINGLY: Which is a fair point. It has been pointed out outside of the courtroom.

Ankush, you've been somebody that I've been religiously reading throughout the course of this trial.

You write, it appears that the odds of Trump being convicted are fairly good, but not overwhelming. The likelihood of what appears slim at best. Yet there's a very real chance that when one or more of the jurors will refused to convict, the jury will hang, resulting in a mistrial defective victory for Trump.

MATTINGLY: I want tease that out a little bit. What -- what's -- what have you seen that kind of makes you identify those three things and kind of been likelihood of them?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, look, the government and state in this case always has an advantage coming into a case. They usually get convictions. The fact that I've rated it as like slightly more likely than not as actually lower than it should be under the circumstances, I think an acquittal because it would require 12 people unanimously on all counts to conclude that he's not guilty seems to me highly unlikely.

The scenario in which the jury hangs because one or more people refuses to convict Trump I think is at least within the realm of possibility, given Michael Cohen's testimony and centrality of the case. I completely agree with Shan. It's not enough just to say he's a liar.

But I mean, I think there are a few steps to the argument. One is that he's a serial unrepentant liar. He lies for Trump, but he also lives for himself. He lied on the Stan probably at least up if you're the defense and he's an essential witness here. You know why? Because no sane prosecutor in their right mind would call Michael Cohen in their case unless they absolutely had to.

And I think as Kara indicated, right, if you sort of build all those pieces up, then you say, look, you cannot convict Donald Trump on a testimony of someone who was a serial liar, may have lied to you on the stand. If that's your conclusion, you have to vote not guilty.

MATTINGLY: But to that point, Brandi, then why not leave it at Michael Cohen, right? Why did they have to bring on Mr. Costello towards the very end? The defense team, where I think everybody by the end of it, and I'm by no means a legal expert was sitting they got, what, that didn't seem great.

HARDEN: Yeah. I think that's right. So a lot of times when you have a case, one, you're doing what your client wants you to do. So that's the first answer, but oftentimes you think that you have to meet the governments force of evidence and say you think, look, I have to call certain witnesses because certainly we've had an opportunity to destroy Michael Cohen's credibility, but what about our case?


And certainly the client is like, well, what about our case? And I think it's hard sometimes to know you are ahead, leave these things alone, and I think the defense probably did too much once they called Costello.

But I will say I do think that when people say it looks slim, he might be -- he might be found guilty, but there's a chance he might be acquitted. That just means there's reasonable doubt and he should be acquitted.

MATTINGLY: Shan, the idea I think, Brandi, was getting at there, there's been a lot of debate over this is the lawyers going after their best legal case and this is the lawyers trying to pacify their client, and how much of which is what they're doing. Can you see that like as somebody who works in this business, when you

watch his lawyers, when you watch Todd Blanche, or you listened or see the feeds, I guess since we don't have cameras in the courtroom can you tell what's part of the case they really wanted to actually bring here and what's defend here and watch part of it is they're just trying to calm Donald Trump down?

WU: It's a little hard to tell. I mean, I can apply my own kind of strategy, thinking it really strikes me as they've done a lot of performing for Trump. I mean, not to mention the Costello issue, but the entire cross-examination of Stormy Daniels seen altogether unnecessary, much less the way they're trying to shame where it really did not do themselves in any favors at all doing that.

Possibly to me, even Costello -- I mean, Trump really wanted someone to come and hit hard to me at Michael Cohen. So they put on Costello. So I think a lot of this has been trying to perform for Trump.

Their only real to me, the only real strategy is to pick at this notion of did Trump specifically say words to direct the falsification? Because if they can knock down the falsification, the whole house crumbles, but I don't know that they've really focused on that.

MATTINGLY: I do want to switch gears real quick because as people might remember, there are actually four major legal cases the former president was dealing with right now. And there were some news on one down in Florida. It's the classified documents case, special counsel's office, seeking a gag order after Trump repeatedly criticized the FBI for having a policy in place around the use of deadly force during the search of government records at his resort in August of 2022. It's important to note and again and again and again, the policy itself, the standard protocol for FBI searches and same policy was used in searches of President Joe Biden's homes.

I'm wondering, what does it -- do you think that the gag order will be put into place by the Judge Aileen Cannon. What does that tell you about what's been going on down there?

KHARDORI: Well, I don't know if it will be put into place. I do think it should be put into place, but of course, you, Aileen Cannon has had a record of ruling in Trump's favor at least on the closer questions to where she -- she has the opportunity to. And I think what does it tell us? It tells us that the prosecutors just like the prosecutors in New York and the judge in New York and everyone who gets caught up in Trump's legal precedent to an extent that our adversaries, they're fed up with all of his can use profanity, but they're fed up with all of his of his language. And the way he uses his power to try to disrupt these proceedings through his supporters and through lies to his supporters.

I mean, this isn't even the first time he's lied about this case, right? You remember when the search occurred, there was a whole series of lies about, you know, why the search at Mar-a-Lago had occurred, whether it was like an a surprise, which it wasn't and he just continuing the same thing. So I do not blame any of these prosecutors for trying through the

ordinary legal channels to restrain his speech to the extent its endangering things.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. And also, it's based on nothing. It's based on what is normal, par for the course for how these things work. And he made it up into some type of hit list that it's a lie. He's lying to you. That's absolutely lying to you.

All right. Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time and your expertise, which I don't have. So pleasure to have you sharing it.

Be sure, of course, to join for special coverage at CNN, closing arguments in the Trump hush money cover-up trial. Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper will lead that coverage, begins tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

So how big of an impact will the judge had in this final phase of the Trump trial, speak to retire judge about that coming up next. And millions of people remain under severe weather threat after deadly storms that hit the central U.S.

Now, head towards the East Coast. We're going to take a look at why the month of May has been particularly dangerous. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: To our national lead, at least 21 people are dead after a weekend of tornadoes and severe storms. Sunday alone saw at least 632 reports of severe weather in the U.S., the most of any single day so far this year.

CNN's Ed Lavandera surveys the damage.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Across 20 states, there were more than 630 locations reporting storm damage on Sunday, making it the busiest severe weather day of the year.

In Texas, seven people were killed when a tornado ripped through this subdivision near the small city of Valley View.

Benito Esparza (ph) raced here Saturday night to help his brother's family. The family was inside their home and the tornado packing 135 mile per hour winds, catapulted them more than 100 yards away.

He says he's really tried to control his emotions. His brothers survive but his sister-in-law, Laura, and their two children, Miranda and Marco, were killed.

This is the remnants of his brother's family's home. This is where they ended up. And his brother was leftover in this debris over here and his sister-in-law, three of them, were already dead. And he took his brother, loaded him up into his truck and drove him out of this neighborhood to get him to the hospital.

In Arkansas, eight people were killed by the violent storms in the town of Rogers, Tony and Landon Roberts grabbed their two children and raced for cover as a tornado took aim at their home.

TONY & LANDON ROBERTS, HOME DAMAGED BY STORMS: Had to make it to the hallway. That's the most central part of our house, and that's when we realized we didn't have a roof. Yeah. There was water and debris coming through the attic fan.

LAVANDERA: The common theme of all these storms from Texas to Kentucky is the near brushes with death and injury.

Residents escaping with harrowing stories of survival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me and my wife and our four-month-old, we hopped in a tab and it just sound like a train.

LISA ARNDT, WITNESSED TORNADO: All of a sudden, my husband screamed "run" and we grabbed the dog and ran down to the basement. But before that, I saw the water swirling around and hitting our window.



LAVANDERA: Back in Valley View, Texas, Frank Garcia's father built this cinderblock storm shelter by hand. They ran inside as the tornado approached.

And you could feel the tornado hit.

GARCIA: And then out of nowhere, you just hear the wind started wailing hard. And at that point, we knew we knew that we were going to have some damage, I mean, for sure, but I don't think I realized, you know, the whole magnitude of everything until you started walking out.

MATTINGLY: Pretty terrifying?

GARCIA: Definitely going to leave a scar in this town for -- for a bit.

MATTINGLY: When they saw the shattered remnants of the their home after the storm, they knew the shelter saved their lives.


MATTINGLY (on camera): And right now, American Red Cross officials say the biggest need, Phil, is temporary housing and clothing, but the cleanup process begins, and here in this neighborhood near Valley View, Texas, this is what so many homes ended up looking like. And as this cleanup process has continued, what we've seen simply is people bringing in small bulldozers and creating burn piles.

And this is what is left of all the debris and many get peoples personal belongings -- Phil. MATTINGLY: Wow. Ed Lavandera, thank you for that important reporting.

Let's turn now to meteorologist Chad Myers and the CNN weather center.

Chad, the severe weather threat has moved east, storm chances in major metropolitan areas like New York, D.C., Philadelphia, what does that mean?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It means that more people are, are in the way. Now were probably not in the way of big storms like Ed was just showing us. I mean, there was an EF-3s out there all weekend long. They were big tornadoes. We're not talking just little garden variety water spout looking things or, you know, like dust devils. These were large tornadoes in the Plains.

But today, there's still a possibility of something to spin, but the biggest threat I think that people today, Phil, will be lightening. There's a lot of lightning out there and people are outside cooking a hot dog or whatever you're doing. If you're at a pavilion, somewhere to state park, make sure you have a place of shelter to get to when the lightning gets to you? Even down here across now, parts of North Carolina, lighting up here, this weather will eventually get up toward Hampton Roads, and all the way even to the Lowcountry there of Virginia, the Delmarva, were going to see some still some significant rain and thunderstorms today, but not like we had.

That doesn't reduce the threat. If you're under that threat because that is now a tornado watch that's an effective later on tonight. Still two yellow severe thunderstorm watches and they are going until about 8:00 or 9:00, depending on where you are.

So, yes, we will still have severe weather. Yes, it will be less than yesterday, but that doesn't make it less if it hits you. Four hundred and sixty thousand people plus now still without power and it isn't going to end anytime soon. There's a lot of picking up to do so many end of line people where yes, you put up one line and you get 50 people back, but all of those people that have all those power lines is ones, twos, threes, and fours into neighborhoods after 58 tornado reports over the weekend.

Phil, it was a violent weekend. It calms down a little bit today, warms up again tomorrow in Texas, and then maybe two or three days to take a breather. I've been watching so many storm chasers. I think every single storm chaser out there needs a new windshield and people out there, they need homes because this was a devastating couple of days.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. No question about that. Chad Myers at the Weather Center, thanks so much.

Well, an Israeli strike that killed dozens of people sheltering in Gaza tent camp is drawing global outrage as Prime Minister Netanyahu says the strike was a tragic mistake and launches a full investigation. We're going to go live to Jerusalem, next.


MATTINGLY: In our world lead, quote, a tragic mistake. That is what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now calling an airstrike Sunday on a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza. The strike killed at least 25 people and injured roughly 200 others. The IDF is investigating the strike which it claims killed two senior Hamas officials. It comes just days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its offensive in Rafah.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond brings us this report. And a warning to our viewers, it contains graphic video and it's very difficult to watch.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Their blood-curdling screams tell the story of the unfolding horror more than words ever could.

But it is only as bodies are pulled out of the inferno that the scale of this attack becomes clear. At least 45 people were killed after an Israeli airstrike targeted this camp for displaced Palestinians in western Rafah, according to the Palestinian ministry of health.

Plastic tarps in engulfed in flames, sheet metal walls crushed by the blast, a block of makeshift shelters flattened in an instant. The Israeli military says the strike killed two senior Hamas militants who commanded Hamas's West Bank operations, Yassin Rabia and Khaled Nagar.

In a rare move, the Israeli military's top lawyer launching an investigation into the strike, saying civilian casualties had not been expected.

It was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians. The IDF regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians during combat.

Mohammad Abu Atere (ph) is one of those civilians, so badly burned that he cannot even open his eyes. There are so many more. So many children writhing in pain.


And then there are the parents, desperate to save babies whose cries have been silenced, perhaps forever.

For those who survived, whatever thin sense of safety they still had has now been completely shattered.

We were sitting and suddenly there was a big blast and fire. People started screaming, Ranin (ph) says, describing how they spent the whole night pulling charred bodies out of the embers.

While hundreds of thousands have fled eastern Rafah after the military ordered its evacuation, many others like this man displaced from central Gaza came here to western Rafah, told the area would be safe. And then there are the mourners.

The occupation army is a liar. There is no security in Gaza, says this man, whose brother was killed in the strike. Here he is with his wife. They were martyred. They are gone.

For one man, a brother, for another, his sister. She was the only one, he says. She was the only one, and she is gone.


DIAMOND (on camera): And, Phil, this is not the first time that an Israeli strike has killed dozens of civilians in Gaza, but it is the first time that we have seen the kind of swift acknowledgements that's something when tragically wrong here from the Israeli government, with Israeli prime minister calling this a tragic mistake, the Israeli military committing to a full investigation. It speaks, of course, to this moment that we are in with the Israeli government increasingly alone on the international stage, increasingly facing international condemnation, also, of course, from the United States.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, Jeremy, a moment of isolation or at least potential isolation also coming same day the Egyptian military says security personnel was killed this shooting incident on the border with Gaza. What more can you tell us about that?

DIAMOND: Yeah. This is not the first time that we have seen this kind of incident on the border between Israel and Gaza. But, of course, this is a very unique moment in a moment of extreme tension between Israel and Egypt over this is really military offensive in Rafah. And according to the Israeli military, there was a, quote/unquote, shooting incidents that they say is under review and that they are currently discussing with the Egyptian government. The Egyptian government for its part only acknowledged that one member of its security personnel was killed, but provided no other details.

We also don't know whether any Israeli soldiers were injured in this incident. But again, a moment of tension, especially when you consider the fact that Egypt, of course, is a key mediator in those hostage and ceasefire negotiations -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, tragic but incredibly important reporting. Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

Well, after all that's been discussed about Donald Trump's trial, the most important words will come from the judge. Up next, a former New York Supreme Court judge on how the instructions to the jury could dictate the verdict to come.

Stay right here.



MATTINGLY: In our law and justice lead, what major target of Donald Trump's attacks is the judge in this case. A key reason he's not protected under the gag order yet as we move into this final phase of the trial, Judge Juan Merchan plays an absolutely critical role.

Here to help us understand the power of the bench, retired Judge Leslie Snyder joins me now.

Judge, we appreciate you your time.

I want to start with the jury instructions. We know they're set before closing arguments. We don't have insight into the actual details, but help people understand how critical they will be to what the jury will be weighing here.

LESLIE SNYDER, RETIRED NEW YORK STATE SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Well, they are absolutely critical, but let me start by saying, in order to explain that, that tomorrow is probably the most important day of the trial. And why I say that is because you can win your case on closing argument. I've seen it done time and time again, and I think that the prosecution as a good chance doing that, but another point that has to be made is that in New York, the prosecution goes last, which is a tremendous, tremendous advantage because of the vessel like their points. But then the prosecution will not only be able to tell its tail which it must do. Of course, succinctly the unclearly but it will also be able to rebut all of the defense points that its able to.

And the defense does not get to get up again. Now, in terms of the judge's instructions, first of all, let me say this -- every jury loves its judge. Ive never heard of a case in which the jury wasn't basically enamored with the judge, even though some other people and other cases might find the judge to be very unappealing. But the jury feels that he's the lord and master. And I think he's done a great job. I might say.

But anyway, here's instructions are known to both sides. So there'll be a whole batch of them that are quite standard like reasonable doubt. I mean, I could say that in my sleep now its going to be defined as what it is and what it is not and you can be sure that one major part of the defense summation or closing argument will be argued reasonable doubt but they're also very specific charges in this case, and we don't have the judges or at least I don't is written charge, so I don't know how he's defined a number of things.

But his charge as to the meaning of knowledge, the meaning of intent our critical words in this case, and you can be sure that both sides will be trying to use those jury instructions to their advantage.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you on that point?


MATTINGLY: If I can interrupt you for a minute because that's an interesting thing that I don't think people understand how crafting their closing statements in the summations will hue or at least try to hue closely into what the judge is charged, is expected to be that we haven't seen yet, but both sides have right?


SNYDER: Of course. Yes, they have to have seen it. They have to know how he is going to define these key terms, such as intent and knowledge. In this case, the standard charges like reasonable doubt, presumption of innocence, even those can be very important because a reasonable doubt the prosecution will say is, of course, only a day doubt based upon reason, and they will give a lot of reasons why there's no reasonable doubt.

The defense job in every case is to point out that there's lots of fat and then claim that the doubts are reasonable, which they may or may not be.

But the judge's role is absolutely critical and the both sides really cannot make an intelligent closing argument without knowing those definitions and they will lead to them in and try to show and they may even say, which is a very good way to handle it as you'll hear from his honor, the judge, he will tell you that intent is defined as, that knowledge is defined as.

That acting in concert and accessorial liability, for example, means you don't have to commit the act herself. Trump doesn't have to commit the act himself. If he intended it, the head knowledge, whatever the exact definition he gives them, these are critical and they will be an integral part of each closing argument or summation.

But as I said, just remember in New York, as in some states, but not many, the prosecution goes last, and that's a tremendous advantage. And I believe they can win their case if they give a clear, coherent and interesting closing argument because the jury gets bored after a certain amount of time.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, they certainly have a number of threads the poll on when it comes to making an interesting closing argument.

Retired Judge Leslie Snyder, really appreciate your expertise. Thanks so much.


MATTINGLY: And coming up, the pitfalls of campaign messaging. Donald Trump's latest pitch gotten some boos, while President Biden's campaign is getting less than stellar reviews from a well-known Democratic strategist.

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: In our politics lead, this weekend, libertarians rejected both Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and former President Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Instead, they selected 38 year-old Chase Oliver, who previously run and lose in the U.S. Senate race in Georgia as their party's nominee. But Donald Trump and RFK Jr. did speak at the convention. Trump was

heckled and booed repeatedly during one of his shortest campaign speeches to date.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Libertarian Party should nominate drop for president of the United States. Whoa! That's nice.

Only do that if you want to win. If you want to lose, don't do that.

Keep getting your 3 percent every four years.


MATTINGLY: Our political panel is here to weigh in, on this and much more, Shermichael Singleton and Meghan Hays.

Thanks, guys, both for being here.

You're laughing.


MATTINGLY: That was a pretty good.


MATTINGLY: Here's my question about this. That was an unfriendly reception, yes. The campaign is not dumb. They knew that that was going to happen to some degree.


MATTINGLY: But I think they're also pretty keenly aware that if you peel off a little bit of the libertarian vote, that 3 percent that he mocks, that matters in a race that's as close as this one is almost certainly going to be. Is that fair?

SINGLETON: It definitely matters. Gallup has some data that came out a couple of months ago showcase that libertarians represent around 17 to 20 percent of the American electorate. You can pull off 4 percent of those voters in a place like Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, where the margins are incredibly slim, between the former president and the current president, that absolutely can make a difference.

I will say this: politician should show up in uncomfortable places. President Biden should do the same. Donald Trump should do the same, go into places and talk to people who may be somewhat skeptical or hesitant about some of your positions.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. I mean, I everybody's laughing are giving me a hard time, but the booing I understand it was notable, doesn't need to win all of them. The Biden team, their strategy, getting some pretty raucous jeers from some longtime Democratic strategist, including James Carville who went after Biden's campaign in a podcast yesterday. Take a listen.


JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: We keep wondering why these young people aren't coming home to the Democrats, which it, or why, why Black should not coming home to the Democrats? Because Democratic message in his full of shit. That's why.

And talk about cost of living and we're going to help deal with this and don't talk about (EXPLETIVE DELETE) Gaza and student loans.


MATTINGLY: Meghan, I think my primary question is how we decide what to bleep and what not to bleep. But strong criticism. What -- what's your take on the criticism itself? Not James Carville or that his ilk in the party.

MEGHAN HAYES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he's talking about people coming home. We still have five or six months before the election. So I think we need to give time for people to come home, voting doesn't start until September, so they're still a lot of my time for folks that come home and for folks to really -- to resonate -- the message to really resonate with these people.

I do think that there is some truth to what he's saying. That it's not resonating with the folks that it needs to. And I think that the Biden campaign, you know, that's why they're going into a debate. We're doing -- they're doing some things that are going to make a difference and hopefully get those people to come home.

But -- I mean, I also with that some of the older statesmen in the party would sort of help him and not always be criticizing him because I don't think that's also helpful.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, there's a lot of that, by the way.

HAYES: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: I mean, to be fair Trump used to have a lot of criticism a little bit lesser to that point.


MATTINGLY: What's your sense, Shermichael? Like it's interesting if you look at the last couple of weeks, all of the groups that make up the cornerstones of Biden's base.



MATTINGLY: Younger voters, African American voters, women voters, particularly. He and his campaign have been laser targeting kind of week by week by week, with outreach, with message, with principals actually on the ground visiting. Is it a matter as Meghan kind of alludes, that they'll come home, there's time, or they have a real problem here?

SINGLETON: I mean, I think the expectation is that sum will come home, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, I think that's true historically speaking.

But in electoral politics where it's getting closer and closer in terms of the margins. You really can't leave any voter or any stone unturned if you well, Phil. I think President Biden and former President Trump, they have to get out there and talk to as many voters as possible. And it's not enough to just talk about the issues and I've advised Republicans on this. You always have to start rolling out some actual plans where people can connect A, B, and C, how those things are going want to improve their lot and plot in life.

And if they can do that, but I think you can potentially win some people over.

MATTINGLY: You know, to the policies both have a record here and it gets a fascinating about this rematch elections have a four-year record. It's not just words.

Tim Scott was on with Dana Bash yesterday, was asked about kind of Black and Latino voters, the efforts of both campaigns are making -- defending the Trump campaign. Let's reset.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Under Donald Trump, we were better off. There are two things that are driving Black votes back to Donald Trump, jobs and justice number one, under Donald Trump are wages were going up, right now and fairness is going down. Let's not forget the fact that Joe Biden is president who said, if you don't vote for me, you can't be Black. An old white dude telling me I can't be Black if I don't vote for him.

This is the president who said that if the Republican Party wants to put you back in chains, the only person I've seen restraining Black folks economically is a Joe Biden economy.


MAYS: I mean, this fundamentally not true. That's just not during -- those statements are taken largely out of context. I think that the receipts actually should matter here like unemployment, it's the lowest, it's ever been. There is student loans. He's forgiving the tons of student loans. There is junk fees, there's all these things that are helping disproportionate communities going into communities providing Internet. And he's actually doing things for communities that are affected by these, by things like this.

So I'm just he's just not being factual here, but, I mean, again, he has to say what he needs to say to be elected to be the VP candidate. So --

SINGLETON: But there is a disconnect with voters of color and the state of the economy. "Axios" has some data that came out earlier this week that showcased only 39 percent of Black workers and 35 percent of Hispanic workers, so that they feel okay economically, which means there's a larger percent that do not okay economically. People are worried about cost, Phil.

And I think President Biden has to address that. And even President Trump, I'm not going to let the former president off here. He also has to address if he's given another shot for how are you going to turn the ship around for people?

MAYS: I just think that there's a little bit of a disconnect here. You can only do so much from the Oval Office and he's doing -- like President Biden is doing a tremendous amount for the economy. He can't control what consumers are setting prices at.

I do think recognizing that people are hurting and how you're going to help them and acknowledge people are not in the best financial situation is really important too. But you can only do so much setting from the Oval Office and your policies. So I just think that statements like that, that Tim Scott is making are just -- I just think they're incendiary and divisive and he's just doing what he needs to do to be a contender for VP.

MATTINGLY: Can I quickly ask -- section, really good conversation to have, but the Biden campaign is often quietly and now, I think more actively voiced that they wish the former president was out in the open a little bit more. They feel like people aren't paying as much -- as much --

SINGLETON: Of course.

MATTINGLY: -- didn't as full Trump experience in a day to day basis. I thought today was an interesting day in that regard in terms of memorial day posts, where you had President Biden marking Memorial Day on social media.

Since America's founding, our service members have laid down their lives for an idea, unlike any other, the idea the United States today, its generation of heroes lie in eternal peace. We live by the light and liberty they kept burning. May God bless them always.

On Truth Social, the former president posted: Happy Memorial Day to all, including the human scum that is working so hard to destroy our greater country, and to the radical left, Trump hating federal judge in New York that presided over, get this, two separate trials that awarded a woman who had never met before, parenthetical, a quick handshake at a celebrity event 25 years ago does not count, $91 million for defamation.

Shermichael --


SINGLETON: I mean --

MATTINGLY: It's an interesting contrast in an election that will be decided by contrast.

SINGLETON: It is. Meghan made a point. I'm not going to take your point. I'm going to a let her make her point, but I think if you can just be as normal as possible, that's the person is probably going to win this election. People who are tired of chaos and divisiveness.

MEGHAN HAYS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I agree with that. And I think the person who said the least crazy things out there, is really going to win the election, but I also think this just goes to the contrast of who the president is versus the former president.

MATTINGLY: It is a contrast, my God. It's Memorial Day. Separate post, like just because you don't have a character limit, cut off, like separate post. We get it. Come on.

Thank you guys very much. Appreciate your time as always.

SINGLETON: Thanks, Phil.

MATTINGLY: And up next, remembering an NBA legend taken by cancer.



MATTINGLY: In our sports lead, tributes are pouring in for hall of fame basketball player turned amazing broadcaster Bill Walton, who died today of cancer. After dominating college at UCLA, Walton on to be the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player both in the regular season and in the finals. He was on two teams that won the NBA championship, Portland and Boston, and Walton was 71.

And on this Memorial Day, President Biden paying tribute to those killed defending the nation.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we joined that grieve with gratitude, gratitude to our fallen heroes, gratitude to the families left behind, and gratitude to the brave souls who continue to uphold the flame of liberty, all across our country and around the world.

Because of them, all of them, that we stand here today. We will never forget that. We will never, ever, ever stop working to make a more perfect union. As God bless the fallen, may God bless their families and may God protect our troops.


MATTINGLY: That was the president at Arlington National Cemetery earlier today.

The news continues now with Boris Sanchez in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Have a great day.