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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Says He'll Appeal His Conviction On 34 Felony Counts; Biden: "Dangerous" To Say Trump's Trial Was Rigged; Trump Attacks Cohen As "Sleazebag" In Post-Verdict Remarks; Republican Lawmakers Rally To Trump's Defense After Conviction; Biden: Israel Has Offered New Proposal For Gaza Ceasefire. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 31, 2024 - 16:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Kelce took the mic, but Mahomes stopped him from speaking any further.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: What could have been what?

KEILAR: What could have been, do you think?

But that's going to be -- it's interesting -- that team has really stayed together even amid this kind of controversy involving Butker but, you know, what's Biden going to say? I don't know, is he going to say something?

SANCHEZ: Even amid controversy surrounding Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce and their relationship and all that attention that it's getting. I'm probably going to get some hate online for making any comment about that.

Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon, Brianna.

KEILAR: He loves Taylor Swift.

SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Thirty-four convictions, but what happens next?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump takes to the mic, airing familiar grievances and railing against the historic guilty verdict in the hush money case. What the Trump team's plan, we're going to talk tell you moving forward.

Potential Trump vice presidential pick, Senator Tim Scott, will be here, and I'll also talk with Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida who's running to replace Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican leader.

Plus, one of Trump's targets today, his former fixer, Michael Cohen. How does he feel now that his former boss is a convicted felon? Michael Cohen's lawyer joins me live.

And President Biden announces a new proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza. It will bring hostages home, including Americans. Is Hamas onboard?



I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper.

This hour, two senators with major pull in the Republican Party join us with their own defenses of Donald Trump, one day after a Manhattan jury found the former president guilty in his criminal hush money trial. Donald Trump today vowing to appeal that verdict in his New York criminal hush money cover-up trial. None of this stops him, of course, from running for president and his sentencing hearing is set for July 11, which just happens to be days before he is expected to officially become the Republican presidential nominee.

Source tells CNN Trump's allies believed the Oval Office is the only thing that would shield you from facing at least two other trials that are far more consequential.

Today, Present Biden reacted to his place political opponent's conviction.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts. Now I'd be given the opportunity as he should to appeal that decision just like everyone else has that opportunity. That's how the American system of justice works. And it's reckless, it's dangerous, it's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict.


MATTINGLY: CNN's Kristen Holmes has a look at what Trump's team is doing behind the scenes as they prepare for both sentencing and a presidential election.


TRUMP: If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I defiant Donald Trump lashing out Friday, a day after a New York jury found him guilty on all 34 counts in his criminal hush money trial.

TRUMP: Oh, we're going to fight. I'm wired in such a way that a lot of people would have gone away a long time ago.

HOLMES: Trump aired grievances with the trial and leveled attacks at the prosecutor and the presiding judge, Juan Merchan.

TRUMP: It was a rigged trial. We wanted a venue change where we could have a fair trial. We didn't get it. We wanted a judge change. We wanted to judge that wasn't conflicted and obviously, he didn't do that. There's -- nobody's ever seen anything like it.

HOLMES: Even as the former president remains under a gag order that blocks them from speaking out about witnesses, jurors, and others closely tied to the case, Trump's singled out ex-attorney Michael Cohen, a key witness in the case, without using his name.

TRUMP: I'm not allowed to use his name because of the gag order. But, you know, he's a sleazebag. Everybody knows that. Took me a while to find out, but he was effective. He did work but he wasn't a fixer. He was a lawyer.

HOLMES: In a statement to CNN, Cohen called Trump's remarks a, quote, crazy avalanche of broken brain word manure.

TRUMP: No presidential candidates have been under a gag order before. I'm under a gag order. Nasty gag order. Think of it, I'm the leading candidate.

HOLMES: Trump also claimed Friday he wanted to testify in the trial, but suggested one of his lawyers encouraged him not to do so.

TRUMP: But now, I would have testified, I wanted to testify. The theory is you never testify because as soon as you test for anybody, if it were George Washington, don't testify because they'll get you on something that you said slightly wrong and then they sue you for perjury.

Trump's allies and supporters swiftly rally behind the presumptive GOP nominee, with the campaign announcing it had raised more than 34 million in the hours after the verdict. At one point, even crushing the fundraising platform used by Trump's campaign, while top Republicans, including several vice presidential hopefuls join Trump and criticizing the conviction.

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): What happened in New York was a travesty of the justice system.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): You cannot say that this trial was anything more than politics masquerading as justices.


HOLMES (on camera): Until that November election, both Biden and Trump are turning their attention to that where voters are really going to make their own judgment on who wins the White House -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, both camps agree on that.

Kristen Holmes for us in New York, thanks so much.

Well, Donald Trump's legal team says it will appeal the New York jury's verdict that found Trump guilty, those 34 counts of falsifying business records. So what exactly with that process look like?

Well, first, Donald Trump has to wait for his sentencing, which is scheduled for July 11. Within 30 days of that sentencing, Trump has to file a notice of appeal and then Trump's team has six months to submit his appeal, and other relevant trial documents. A process called perfecting the appeal. Trump's team would have six months to do this.

Now, the case will then go before five judge appeals panel, which will decide whether to uphold or overturn Trump's conviction. If the panel upholds the jury's verdict, Trump can seek permission to have New York's highest court consider his appeal. This court can decide to hear the case or forego it all together.

With me to discuss all of this and more, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor for the Manhattan D.A.'s office, Jeremy Saland, trial attorney Misty Marris, and criminal defense attorney Bernarda Villalona.

Guys, thanks so much.

There's a lot of politics. There's no question about that. We want to talk about the legal here.

And I want to start with what Todd Blanche said about the appeals process. He said that he's going to try and file motions before a formal appeal. What does that mean? What does it look like? Can it work?

MISTY MARRIS, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Yeah. So defense attorneys commonly do this. This is routine.

So the first step is for the defense attorney to go to the trial judge. So this is Judge Merchan and say that this verdict was what's called against the weight of the evidence, basically says the jury got it wrong, that there was not enough evidence for the jury to convict. They asked the judge to overturn the verdict. That's the first avenue. It's very unlikely for that to succeed. Almost always that motion gets denied unless there's a very extreme situation.

Then the next step, as you said, is to go to the appellate division. The appellate division looks at the case, looks at the record and we'll make a determination about whether or not there were errors of law. They don't question the jury. The jury is the finder of fact.

They say, was there something that was overly prejudicial, should evidence have come into the courtroom that didn't or did something come in that shouldn't have. Were the jury instructions proper?

Those are all the issues that the appellate court will look at. So, it's two different aspects. And it is routine for defense attorneys to go both routes.

MATTINGLY: And, Jeremy, one of the questions that I keep getting asked the last 24 hours, when is this all going to happen? How long does it take? How long -- JEREMY SALAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It's already happening,

probably already happened or started to happen before there was a verdict. They saw the writing on the wall.

You know, I think the Mother Teresa comment was really that throw out there like, I cant win. I'm sort of getting ready to say I'm not as good as them. I got a worst basketball team, baseball team. I'm going to lose giving that preemptory. I'm the victim here and they already started that.

Now, they're going to file within that timeframe and it could take certainly well more than a year on appeal and they're going to lose. This isn't new law. It's unique in the sense that it involves the former president. It's unique in the sense that maybe were dealing with federal election law, but it's not -- falsifying business records is as old as the penal law, relatively speaking, but this is not something that's fresh and like, wow, we need a new look at this.

So it's going to take that whole year time, maybe more, maybe less. Will a court of appeals takes such a case. Maybe, maybe not. But this is really mundane and typical.

MATTINGLY: I want to play some before you that Speaker Mike Johnson said this morning on Fox News. Take a listen.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do believe the Supreme Court should step. Obviously, this is totally unprecedented and it's dangerous to our system. I think the justices on the court, I know many of them personally. I think they're deeply concerned about that as we are. So I think they'll set this straight, but its going to take a while.


MATTINGLY: I wish we had an ISO cam on your face as he was speaking based on your reaction. What -- you've seen perplexed by what he's laying out.



VILLALONA: So in terms of what happened at the trial, there's also one more motion that is going to be filed before Judge Merchan, and that's a motion to set aside the verdict, and Judge Merchan is going to make that decision, but there's only three grounds that you can set aside the verdict before sentencing, and that has to deal with juror misconduct, has to do when newly discovered evidence or whether there's an error so big a trial that if it were to be appealed, that it will be an automatic reversals. So unlikely, none of those three happened during trial.

So just like how Jeremy said and just how Misty said, you have the appellate process. The appellate process is going to go through the appellate division first. If the appellate decision -- division upholds the verdict, then of course, a grant lead to see if they'll go to the court of appeals, but that's not going to happen here. I don't think that but there's such a big issue that the New York court of appeals is going to step in and reverse the conviction itself.

And just be mindful that even if either least courts step in, it doesn't mean that they're going to dismiss the case. If anything, they're going to send it back to the trial court.

But the United States Supreme Court that's packed with Trump's nominees is not going to make a decision in this New York state criminal conviction.


MATTINGLY: Missy, Todd Blanche, Trump's lead attorney in there, sat down -- fascinating conversation with our colleague, Kaitlan Collins, last night. I want you to take a listen to this.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE: Do you accept that he did have his day in court and it was a jury of his peers that made this decision?

TODD BLANCHE, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Well -- no, not at all.

We were indicted for conduct that happened in 2015, '16, '17, in a jurisdiction that it was very hard for us to get a fair trial.

Every single person on that jury knew Donald Trump either as president, as candidate, from "The Apprentice". And so I don't accept that this was a fair -- this was a fair place to try.


MATTINGLY: So there's a lot to unpack there. First, Blanche says the trial was unfair because Trump was indicted for conduct that happened in 2015, '16 and '17. Blanche all says it was an unfair trial because jurors new Donald Trump as president and from "The Apprentice".

Wouldn't that be true anywhere in the country?

MARRIS: Yes. So, first of all, I think, at a bare minimum, you have to say we respect the jury process and we respect that the jury returned this verdict.

Now, if he wants to say there are appellate issues that were going to pursue -- of course, any defense attorney is going to pursue those issues that are going to say we should have had a change of venue. I don't particularly think that holds water. We're talking about making a change of venue argument based on just the makeup of the political spectrum in New York. That is not a basis. There has to be something that is reasonably likely to lead to a biased jury. It's just not going to hold water in this case. So that's one avenue. You know, but he's going to say that there are a bunch of evidentiary decisions that went against Donald Trump. That's what his job is to do in the appellate process.

I actually think there is one appellant issue. I just want to flag it. Whether or not a New York state election law could be the predicate crime for this because he was running for federal office. I think that's the primary appellant issue that doesn't really gets into the weeds of the case, doesn't really get into the evidentiary decisions, but it would be a novel issue for the court to decide.

MATTINGLY: Jeremy, you're scribbling furiously during the Blanche comments. I want to ask you about that for a second, in a second. But to Missy's point, how are you so certain there is no kind of grounds for a successful appeal here?

SALAND: You're not certain and that's why you appeal.


SALAND: Though you would appeal regardless because that's what you do very often because there's something you may miss and you look back at that transcript.

And very often, it's not the trial attorney in some cases, it is. It's an appellate lawyer who's skilled in the appellate work to look through that transcript and find things that maybe the trial attorney did not see or was unaware of.

So and also, you don't want to be looking at your own potential errors and mistakes. You want a fresh set of eyes to do so. But to the point here, I pulled out a few things. First of all, its not we it's -- were indicted. It was Donald Trump was indicted by a grand jury.

Conduct in '16 and '17, it's called the statute of limitations and you failed on that front. So the statue of limitations had not run. By his conclusion, meaning Blanche, if this was an Alabama, therefore, and it was a Democrat, would he say the same thing was unfair?

The bottom line is with all due respect to Mr. Blanche, he did a poor job on cross-examination. He poorly prepared or prepped or was ready for Bob Costello, who I wouldn't just say drop the ball, was a potential double or triple, maybe not a home run, but he couldn't get on base because its misconduct in the way he behaved was out of line. You think things like the gloat -- comparing Michael Cohen who really did a terrific job and that's credit to Steinglass and that team, as sort of the Michael Jordan of lies.

What did that get them? To be cute and funny. It wasn't -- it didn't do anything.

The prosecution was methodical. They were deliberate, boring at times, but they did their job.

And unfortunately for Mr. Blanche, he was meandering. His - he says closing was eh, and when he -- when he across examined Michael Cohen, his last question, I won't pull it up, gave Michael Cohen the ability to sort of build themselves right back up. He left the question out there that was open-ended. You did not direct what you do in leading as a defense attorney and gave him the power to rehabilitate himself.

He failed.

VILLALONA: Let's be honest, Todd Blanche was out-lawyered.

MATTINGLY: Did that surprise you? Because he had a great reputation coming in.

VILLALONA: In federal court. This is a state court. This is a completely different ballgame, a completely different ball game.

So he is a former federal prosecutor, but when you're dealing with state court and that's my playground. I've been practicing in state court for 20 years now. He was out-lawyered in state court.

Josh Steinglass, you got to think he got home-court advantage in the sense that he's been at that prosecutor's office. He's been dealing with New York county jurors during his entire career. He knows the judge. He knows how things play out inside of the courtroom.

And in terms of Todd Blanche, I knew that he was in trouble doing his opening statement that's just first failure right there. His opening statement where he opened up the door and a sense that he's like he started talking automatically, Stormy Daniel just never happened.

Had you not address your opening statement like that and just left it just plain as we normally do?


You have to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt. Keep an open mind, Donald Trump, he's presumed innocent. He has a cloak of presumption of innocence.

Then you wouldn't have gotten into the Stormy Daniel details of this sexual encounter. I wouldn't be hearing how Donald Trump got his butts smacked with a magazine. So that's number one.

Number two, Michael Cohen, that cross-examination, I was there for all four days, horrible, horrible. You humanize him.

At one point, Phil, I started feeling bad for Michael Cohen, like sorry for him. I shouldn't be feeling like that. So imagine if I did imagine the jury -- yeah, because I'm going to get --

MATTINGLY: Yeah, he alluded to the fact that he had a litigant in this case, it was the former president. Misty, Jeremy, Bernarda, thank you, guys, very much.

Well, next on THE LEAD, he's reported to be on the shortlist for Donald Trump's running mate. What does Senator Tim Scott think of the guilty verdicts and how Trump has reacted? I'll ask him, live, next.


MATTINGLY: We're back with our law and justice lead and the political fallout from Donald Trump's conviction on 34 felony charges.

Let's discuss with Republican Senator Scott of South Carolina. His name said to be in the running for Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate.

Senator, thanks so much for the time.


You were on with my colleague, Abby Phillip, last night and you made a point that you didn't think Trump could get a fair trial in part because the jury's from Manhattan, which is undoubtedly a heavily Democratic area. And I'm interested, if this trial is taking place and the verdicts had come down in South Carolina, do you think that that would have been okay? That would've worked?

TIM SCOTT, (R-SC): Well, the bottom line is this, that what you want in the justice system is Lady Justice to wear a blindfold, and what we did not see, Phil, in this incident is Lady Justice actually took off the blindfold.

It's one of the reasons why we continue to talk about the fact that under Joe Biden, the weaponization of the justice system has become front and center in this election. The reason why we're seeing so many African Americans coming to the Trump campaign, two big reasons, jobs and justice. I'll say simply as an African American born and raised in the Deep South, who had concerns about our justice system as it relates to race, I'm now seeing it play out from a partisan perspective. Now, it's not as much black and white as it is, red and blue.

And so when you see a conservative facing a jury that appears to be blue or Democrat or left-leaning, you wonder if the justice system will play out fairly. And what we've seen time and time again is the answer is no, when you know that the concentrations to pro Biden, anti-Trump funds, when you know that the judges daughter raised millions of dollars for Joe Biden --


MATTINGLY: I understand the points have been made repeatedly by the former president's defender.

SCOTT: -- you have to ask the question, is the system fair?

MATTINGLY: I want to make clear --


SCOTT: Do you disagree though with the fact -- we don't do you disagree with the fact that the judge broke the law of New York by making a contribution to a pro-Biden campaign organization. MATTINGLY: Sir, the point I want to make is that we don't know the

political affiliation of the jurors. We certainly know the political leaning of the county in which they were in, the city in which they were in.

You know, the point you're making about the Justice Department and the trials, do you believe if Trump is re-elected, is present in the United States that he should kill off the two other two federal charges that he has from the special counsel?

SCOTT: Listen, I look forward to the day of reckoning. I certainly believe that day of reckoning is November the 5th. I do believe that President Trump will be successful and being reelected as the president United States.

And I do believe that we will have an opportunity to right the ship and to restore confidence in our justice system. Let that play out.

As that plays out, we'll see the American people making a decision on that day of reckoning. If we see that play out and let the American people decide the future of this nation on November the 5th as opposed to having the justice system dictate that outcome.

MATTINGLY: No, I understand what you're saying.

SCOTT: We'll have a stronger and healthier (ph) country.

MATTINGLY: I certainly understand what you're saying in terms of there's -- there are two very different paths of political candidates and the policies that they would pursue.

But I'm asking --

SCOTT: Yes, yes.

MATTINGLY: -- these are federal charges that the special counsel has brought. The former president, if he becomes president again, would ostensibly have control over the Justice Department is in the executive branch. Should he tell the Justice Department to do away with the charges, to drop them?

SCOTT: Well, I believe that one of the things that President Trump has said very clearly is he's very thankful. He just said a couple of hours ago. He's thankful that it was him and not someone else.

So would that to me reinforces is that is a very patriotic statement. What he suggests there is that we want the legal system to play out fairly. We don't want anyone above the legal system, but we also don't want anyone below the legal system.

And so as the next president United States I believe that he will restore confidence and fairness from the DOJ, down to the states as well.

MATTINGLY: But he's made very clear that he thinks this Justice Department under the president, under President Biden, has pursued a very similar process to what has been why he thinks the process in New York was in his words, rigged or problematic.

So why shouldn't he also have the justice department drop those charges?

SCOTT: Well, Phil, I would say I agree with the former president that this system was rigged, that the verdict in the outcome is a hoax of a trial, that there's no question that the average American, especially ones that are calling me the never-Trumpers who are absolutely, positively not voting for Donald Trump, they are now voting for Donald Trump, the donors who were on the sidelines because they just wanted to stay out of it they're now, flocking to to make contributions.

Here's what's happened and this is a very important point, we are seeing a realignment of politics in America because most Americans want a fair judicial system. We don't want to hunt our political opponents. We actually want Lady Justice to restore the blindfold and to intentionally look for crimes, not people.


That is not what we saw this time-out and that is a travesty of justice.

MATTINGLY: Let me ask you, you make an interesting point about the evolution of folks that maybe said they weren't going to support Trump or certainly after the January 6 riot, the capital said they were done with him that have come back into his fold.

Look, I covered you in the Senate. If it wasn't about a policy issue that you want to talk about for a long time, it was opportunity zones that you've got across the finish line. You weren't going to stop and talk in the halls. You were not somebody who is seeking out cameras, you not somebody who is doing a lot of media interviews. You campaigned for president as a happy warrior.

Now you're on TV, which I appreciate right now, you're on TV a lot. You're very aggressive in pleading or pushing Trump's case on his behalf.

And I wonder, what changed? Is it -- the cynic would say it's because you want to be vice president? Was it because there was something you saw that shifted how you felt like you had to act in this moment?

SCOTT: Well, Phil, I'll tell you this, if you come back to the Capitol, we'll be happy to see you there. And one of the things you'll note is I still don't take hallway questions. That does not change whatsoever.

I get more media requests since running for president than I have multiplied by ten. We still turned down the vast majority though. The bottom line is simply this, the person that I was as a person that I am and the person I will be. But one thing I do believe in is that America's best days are best seen through the prism of four more years of Donald Trump, because now we have a contrast, Phil. We have a contrast between the four years of Joe Biden where we saw our border completely devastated with 90 executive orders in the first hundred days, to make our border insecure, unsafe and wide-open, leading to the deaths of 70,000 Americans and a 10 million person illegal immigration invasion.

We saw a great strong, healthy economy with 1.4 percent inflation go to over 9 percent. We saw the average families spend more than a thousand dollars extra a month for the same things. And the last point, Phil, is that we saw violet spread in the poorest communities, devastating people like me, you grew up in those poor communities, and that's one of the multiple reasons why a strong proponent for four more years of Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: There's no question about that. There are certainly contrast here. I think the Biden campaign would take a lot of issues with a lot of the points it out in terms of how it pertains to this current administration.

SCOTT: Love to talk about that.

MATTINGLY: No, and we'll get a debate and a couple of weeks, you can't wait to watch that.

I do want to ask, though, you know, the former president is set to be sentenced on July 11th. Four days later, Republican National Convention, Trump has said he's going to announce his VP pick around that time. All of it happening at once.

Is it good for the Republican Party? Because the fascinating thing about the New York cases, since it was brought, Trump's numbers seem to have only mostly accelerated in some degree, raises a ton of money every time there's a huge issue here. So do you think this is politically good for the president?

SCOTT: Well, there's no doubt that the verdict, the sentencing coming four days before the convention only reinforces the political weaponization of the justice system. The American people, however, have responded very positively because the average American wants justice, they want fairness, they want Lady Justice with a blindfold back on.

So yes, you're going to see more numbers reflected in more polls that show Americans are ticked off at this verdict and they're going to vote on November the fifth for day of reckoning.

Second thing is clear. I love the passion I'm seeing from the American people because they're harnessing it. You don't see any riots in the streets like you did a few years ago during the summer of the riots, largest riots in the history of our country with more property damage. That's -- you don't see that today. What you see is a focus, a determination to make sure that we the people are heard and seen on November the 5th. That's good news for the country.

And frankly, it restores more confidence that conservatives when in leadership, you won't see that kind of violence in the streets because we like the outcome. We have this outcome.


MATTINGLY: I mean, we there is -- we got to go, but I mean there's a natural counter in terms of that took place in your workplace on January 6 because of this, but that's certainly hasn't occurred since the verdict.

We always appreciate your time, Senator Tim Scott. Take care of the Hill reporters, man.

SCOTT: Thank you, Phil.

MATTINGLY: But they're working to beat. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

SCOTT: Listen, I don't -- I don't talk them a walk.

MATTINGLY: It's true. It's very true.

All right. Senator, thanks so much.

Well, coming up, I'll be joined live by the lawyer from one of the key witnesses in the Trump case, Michael Cohen. How does that Trump's former fixer feel after seeing these 34 convictions?



MATTINGLY: We're back with more on our law and justice lead. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former fixer, who was the star witness of the hush money trial, found himself as the star subject of Trump's post verdict remarks today.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was a highly qualified lawyer. Now I'm not allowed to use his name because of the gag order, but, you know, he's a sleazebag. Everybody knows that, took me a while to find out. But he was effective.


MATTINGLY: Now it didn't take much reading between the lines to know that Trump was referring to Michael Cohen.

Joining me now is Michael Cohen's attorney, Danya Perry.

I appreciate your time.

Look, Donald Trump did not mince words going after your client today, if not by name but certainly seem to be talking about him.

In response to Trump's remarks, Michael Cohen had a pretty blistering response telling CNN Trump's remarks were, quote, nothing shy of batshit crazy avalanche of a broken brain word manure. I'm just interested, the response from your client there, what did you

think of that?

DANYA PERRY, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEY: Well, look, I had a bit of a gag order on my client for some time in the moments and I really do mean moments proceeding the trial and during the trial itself. But he is not and never was technically bound by one. Certainly, I thought it advisable for him to stay away from name-calling and the like.


But look the jury has come back with its verdict and he feels gratified and vindicated and relieved and tired, and feels that, you know, he can now respond to that kind of vitriol with like vitriol. And I -- I'm not in a position anymore to tell them not to.

So he's also one who does not mince words and he came back as hard as he got hit.

MATTINGLY: You know, a lot of the Trump defense team the case relied on diminishing your clients' credibility. Here's what Trump attorney Todd Blanche told my colleague, Kaitlan Collins last night, take a listen.


TODD BLANCHE, TRUMP ATTORNEY: If the word of Michael Cohen was not accepted at all, then you could not have convicted President Trump. And the jury convicted. So at the end of the day, they looked past what we thought were fatal flaws in Mr. Cohen's story and his past and they've reached a guilty verdict.


MATTINGLY: I'm interested if you kind of agree with that analysis or assessment of what happened.

PERRY: I do agree that the jury had to believe Michael Cohen in order to convict. There was as the prosecution said, its summation, a mountain of evidence. There was an incredible amount of corroborating evidence, testimonial, documentary, circumstantial inferential, any kind of evidence you want, but he was certainly direct evidence. And the jury, there were certain conversations and especially ones that went to criminal intent, and he was the only other person in the room or on the phone for those conversations.

And so, the jury did have to believe Michael Cohen and that really swift unanimous verdict on all counts I think it tells you exactly what they thought of Michael Cohen, contrary to what Todd Blanche, who is known for very long time and like and admire whatever he had to say, whatever the brass, whatever the public has had to say, I sat there for all the testimony, the direct the cross, the redirect, the re-cross, and he handles himself astonishingly well, and his demeanor was cool and collected. And that was enlarged part I will say thanks to some preparation patient and mostly because he was telling the truth and he is not the Michael Cohen that he is vilified as you know, in the press and by the defense.

MATTINGLY: And just specifically before I let you go, because it was fascinating to watch clearly. There's a lot of prep that went into. Were you surprise he was able to kind of keep his cool throughout the entire process?

PERRY: Look, this has been a long journey for him from the FBI raid back in April of 2018, through his guilty plea, his incarceration, solitary confinement, and this journey. It has been a long saga and I think he has turned a corner. He has had a come to Jesus moment as he describes it, with himself, his family and he -- he's a changed person and I know a lot of people don't see that. I saw it.

And so I think at this point, he was bolstered by the fact that he has been telling the same story consistently for six years.


PERRY: And it happened to be true and it happened to be corroborated a million different ways. So I think it was easier than you might think to maintain that composure.

MATTINGLY: Danya Perry, appreciate your time, thanks so much.

And another top Republican joins me next. Senator Rick Scott, he's running to replace Mitch McConnell as the head of Senate Republicans. How does he think Republicans should move forward after Trump's convictions?

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Back with our law and justice lead. More reaction and action from Republican lawmakers who were rallying around former President Donald Trump. Several GOP senators signed a letter today saying they, quote, are unwilling to aid and abet this White House and will not allow expedited consideration of passage of Democratic legislation.

One senator who signed that letter is Senator Rick Scott of Florida. He joins me now. He's also running to be the next leader of the Republican conference to replace Senator Mitch McConnell.

Senator, I appreciate your time.

I'm interested in kind of the what you're trying to do here -- clearly, in the U.S. Senate he one person can slow things up quite a bit. You're saying you will oppose any non-defense spending bills and will block any Democratic legislation or judicial appointees. Is that the basic gist of this?

SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Unfortunately, I couldn't -- I couldn't hear what you said, but let me make it real clear. This is just political persecution. This should never happen. It only happened because Donald Trump is Biden's political opponent.

They send the number three person for Department of Justice down who prosecuted this guy. Everybody was biased. The judge was anti-Trump. This was -- this is just political persecution of the never one Biden opponent.

This has got to stop. It's a sad day for this country. We need to rally behind Donald Trump. We need to do everything I can to make sure he wins.

If this -- if he -- if he goes to jail, if this, if the Democrats were able use this, it's the death knell of the justice system in this country.

I'm sorry, unfortunately --

MATTINGLY: No, no, can you hear me now? Just checking whether.

It looks like we have lost the loss of connection with Senator Scott. I want to check one more time, Senator. Can -- we have lost connection with Senator Scott? We do apologize for that. We really want to talk to him, particularly because of that effort right now to become the next Republican leader, also, as I noted, that was just today where he signed on to the letter with several other Senate Republicans, not including Senator Tim Scott, who we spoke to early but including Senator Marco Rubio to basically try and slow down everything in the U.S. Senate, so long as Joe Biden is president.

Well, after sharing his views on Trump's conviction, President Biden made a big announcement on the Israel-Hamas war. What we're learning about a new proposal that includes the release of all hostages, including Americans.


That's next.



MATTINGLY: Well, this afternoon, President Biden announced a new ceasefire proposal for Gaza which would lead to the release, he says, of all hostages held by Hamas.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is live for us in Jerusalem.

Jeremy, what exactly is in this plan that the president laid out?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting, Phil. I mean, the broad outlines are similar to what we've been talking about in terms of this framework for weeks now, but what's interesting are the details in the first phase of this, you would see a six-week ceasefire, the release of hostages, women, the elderly, the injured, for example, you would also see which is a new Israeli concession. The bodies of some hostages released in that first phase, that was something Hamas had start -- sought to put in this that Israel had refused previously.

Then you get to the second phase and in the second phase, you would see the exchange of all remaining living hostages and a permanent ceasefire. This is the first time that we've actually seen an Israeli proposal talk about a permanent ceasefire. But in order to get there in the first phase of those -- of this ceasefire, those six weeks, you'd actually have a negotiating period to get to that permanent ceasefire.


And what's really interesting here is that it talks about extending that ceasefire for as long as those negotiations continue, until an agreement can be reached for a phase two of this ceasefire agreement.

And that appears to be an elegant way of getting around what has been really a sticking point in these negotiations, which has an agreement on an end to the war, the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza. And this would allow a ceasefire to really be drawn out in a way that could perhaps lead to a permanent end to the fighting.

In the third phase of this agreement, you would see the beginning of the reconstruction of Gaza and the release of the bodies of the remaining dead Israeli hostages in Gaza. Now, the thing is president, one of the key parts of this is that permanent ceasefire and President Biden really talked that up in his speech. But following that, we heard the Israeli prime minister, his office come out releasing a statement saying effectively that they will not agree to an end to the war until all the goals of the war are achieved, that includes not only the release of the hostages, but also the defeat of Hamas militarily in terms of its governance capabilities and that is very much at odds with what the Israeli proposal actually lays out.

And I think that speaks to the very, very tricky domestic politics that the Israeli prime minister is facing. And that's why in his speech, you heard President Biden not only laying on a ton of public pressure on Hamas, but also focusing on the Israeli government and the internal political dynamics in Israel, which will need to be sorted out in order for these two sides to reach an agreement.

MATTINGLY: You know, Jeremy, to be blunt especially because of those dynamics, you very eloquently laid out, is this real? Is this something people should be taken seriously as a potential outcome?

DIAMOND: Look, it's certainly real. There's certainly some movement. We actually heard Hamas just put out a statement and they say that they are reacting positively to what President Biden is saying, saying that they are willing to negotiate on anything that is based on the foundation of trying to reach a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from Gaza.

But there is still a key sticking point which is that in Hamas's previous proposal, they had talked about Israel agreeing upfront effectively to a permanent ceasefire, agreeing upfront to go straight from phase one, into phase two and into a permanent ceasefire fireworks. Israel here is still talking about negotiating that permanent ceasefire during the first phase of this agreement.

So there's certainly some sort cause for optimism here, but its clear that there are still, there's still a lot more for these two sides to work out.

You know, in a fascinating split-screen, having the same time, we've got official IDF confirmation today, confirming with CNN previously reported Israeli forces are pretty deep into Rafah. What's the latest there?

DIAMOND: Yeah, that's right. And it's also interesting, Phil, that the president didn't talk about Rafah, even though right now all the talk in the Middle East is about this red line that President Biden had set out. He said that it would be a red line for Israel to go into the population centers in Rafah. And that if they did so, he would begin withholding certain U.S. munitions from Israel.

And while we have the satellite imagery now showing Israeli forces in central Rafah, something that they have conceded themselves, in the satellite imagery, you can see Israeli tanks and armored vehicles in central Rafah in positions that are established by the Israeli military, bulldozed with berms to protect those vehicles from Hamas attacks. And so we are witnessing Israeli forces deeper into Rafah than they ever have been. And yet the U.S. administration right now is saying this doesn't cross the presidents red line because the way that they've defined it after the presidents interview with our Erin Burnett was to say, its not just about going into the population centers, it's about a kind of all out military offensive with tens of thousands of troops that would result in enormous death and destruction.

And while it is clear that there is still a lot of death and destruction in Gaza as a result of those Israeli military operations, there is also some indication that the Israelis have listened to the us, that they're carrying this operation in central Rafah in a much more strategic and pinpointed manner than they did in northern Gaza, and in places like Khan Younis -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: All right. Jeremy Diamond for us in Jerusalem, thank you.

One of the most recognizable U.S. senators announced he's leaving his party. The reason why, we'll have it, next.



MATTINGLY: In our last leads today, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced he's no longer a Democrat. He's changing his voter registration to independent. He will continue to caucus with Senate Democrats. Manchin, who has already said he isn't seeking another term, released a statement complaining neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground and explains he switching is registration, quote, to stay true to myself.

Well, despite the latest numbers showing inflation is still hanging around, Costco's new chief financial officer says, its ballyhooed hot dog and drink combo will stay priced at $1.50. If Costco's hot dog deal kept pace with inflation, it would be nearly $4.50 by now. Experts say the decision makes sense since it's designed to draw in and retain customers.

Well, coming up on Sunday at the State of the Union, Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump, also Democratic representative and Senate candidate, Adam Schiff of California. That's Sunday morning, 9:00 Eastern, and again at noon here on CNN.

And a special report on Sunday night to mark the 80th anniversary of d-day, which is next Thursday, the day the allies stormed the beaches of Normandy to restore democracy to Europe, 2,500 Americans died that day fighting to free France and liberate the rest of the continent.

And yet, 80 years later, the fight for democracy continues. CNN decided to honor those who have fought and died for it and speak to others who've borne the battle to today.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What were we fighting for?

JIM MATTIS, FORMER DEFENSE: We were locked in a battle with fascism. We're fighting for our freedom, for the freedom to think as we wish, talk as we wish.

MARK MILLEY, FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: They gave their life to preserve and protect that Constitution.

JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They died for our democracy. That wasn't the thing they were thinking about when they ran out of the landing craft, whatever, but at the end of the day, that's what they were protecting.


MATTINGLY: "D-Day: Why We Still Fight for Democracy" airs Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER".

Well, the news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM", much more fallout of Donald Trump's convictions. Among Wolf's guests, Trump's niece, Mary Trump.

Have a great weekend.