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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Two New Witnesses Take Stand In Trump Hush Money Trial; Barr Says, I'll Vote For Trump Even Though He Shouldn't Be Near Oval; CNN's Post Analysis On Day Seven Of The Hush Money Trial Of Former U.S. President Donald Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 26, 2024 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: The banker, the gatekeeper, the publisher, the second week of Donald Trump's trial was all about the witnesses who can put the former president at the very center of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the American people.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip and you're watching a special edition of NEWSNIGHT.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

And today, I'm really redefining what water cooler talk really means. Rhona Graff, the longtime Trump secretary, took to the stand and she did it, by the way, not by choice, she was there under subpoena. And she added small but critical details to the prosecution's case.

Remember, she was the one who entered contact details for Stormy Daniels, for Karen McDougal, into the Trump Organization directory. She told the jury the adult film actress whose silence Trump tried to buy allegedly was simply labeled, well, what else, Stormy, with her cell phone number filled in. Graff said that she saw Daniels on floor 26 of Trump Tower. That's where the office chatter, of course, comes in. Graff thought that she was in contention, perhaps, to appear as a contestant on The Apprentice.

PHILLIP: Now, the day closed with the least name brand witness, somebody who probably would be anonymous to most Americans, even those most familiar with the details of this case against the former president.

Meet Gary Farro. He is Michael Cohen's former banker. He worked at First Republic. And if that bank sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's because it crashed and burned last year. Farro was the one who put the rubber stamp on a brand new shell company for Cohen, Resolution Consultants. That was the company that the fixer used to pay the porn star.

Let's bring in our panel. We have Gene Rossi here, former federal prosecutor, former Trump Attorney Tim Parlatore, Elliot Williams, a former deputy assistant attorney general, and Marcus Childress, former January 6th investigative counsel. Everyone, thanks for being here.

So, first of all, Trump keeps complaining about this courthouse. Is it really that cold? I mean --

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I've tried several cases in that courthouse. It was hot when I was there. But I think they've done some renovations. So, I guess the --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But, no. The answer is no. It is a dingy 19, I think 60s or 70s style bonfire of the vanities might be the best way to describe it, the courthouse that probably hasn't undergone the kind of renovations that you think the government will not --

PHILLIP: That's part of the charm. Elliot, I know you also have some details from this day in the courthouse. What did we learn?

WILLIAMS: So -- and a day of trial looks like this. It's -- I mean, there's a lot --

PHILLIP: It's actually quite a lot more than the last couple of days.

WILLIAMS: Yes. No, it is a lot more than the last couple of days. And it's dense. And today wasn't a day of major bombshell testimony, but there were some very interesting both human moments, because this all deals with sex, money and allegations of lies. And so we can talk through some of the sort of most compelling bits of testimony here.

Interestingly, there was cross-examination where the purpose of Stormy Daniels came up, and this whole question of why did the Trump Organization have her name and her phone number, and this was on cross-examination from Susan Necheles, the defense attorney. We can even read the portions of the transcript that come up here.

So, Necheles asks, am I correct that prior to Stormy Daniels coming up to the office at Trump Tower, you recall hearing that President Trump discussed whether Stormy Daniels would be a good contestant on The Apprentice? And Graff says, I vaguely recall hearing him say that he was one of the people that may be an interesting contestant on the show.

Necheles says, okay. So, the prosecutor just referred to her, I think, as a, quote, adult film actress. Correct? Rhona Graf, Trump's assistant, says, yes. Necheles, and you understood that to mean that she was colloquially speaking a porn star, right? Rhona Graf says, I'd say that's a good synonym for it.

Now, there's few things happening here, too. And more than anything else, they want to establish even if there were these allegations of misconduct with the former president, he had a reason for having her at Trump Tower, Stormy Daniels at Trump Tower, which is that he was vetting her for a possible position, you know, on the Celebrity Apprentice.

So, this was on cross-examination. This was --

PHILLIP: And it was the purpose really to cast doubt on whether this affair actually happened?

WILLIAMS: Whether it actually happened or not, the simple fact is she had a reason for being in their records and their --




ROSSI: in any trial. You should underpromise and overperform. In your opening, underpromise. And one of the Achilles heels of the defense is basically saying these relationships did not happen. I respectfully disagree. I think this witness was outstanding. And that is a bombshell because Trump has said, I don't even know Stormy Daniels, let alone have any relation.

PHILLIP: That's the point, yes.

ROSSI: And that is going to hurt them in front of the jury because they overpromised.

COATES: And at the same time though, think about this, they don't really have to prove that the allegations of an affair or any interaction, shall we say, is true, right? This is about falsifying business records. And the premise of the prosecution's case is the allegation and the news being out there was so problematic for this ream, the campaign, that they wanted to shut it down.

And so having it out there, that that was the reason that he wanted to silence her or buy her silence is really -- it doesn't matter if it actually happened, right? And that the problem though with this, and I have to tell you on the direct, and we were kind of talking about this while it was actually going on, was, at the time, we all said, hold on a second, why is Stormy Daniels in a directorate? I thought this was a very transactional, one-time relationship of sorts, not a not a Karen McDougal scenario, it was a one-time thing and she's a part of the directory? Meanwhile, Karen McDougal also there with two addresses, email address, telephone numbers as well. That was pretty stunning in that moment that she's part of a directorate.

PHILLIP: Can I offer one possible explanation and, Tim, maybe you have some insights into this? Donald Trump typically uses other people to get in touch with who he wants to talk to. He is a very old school guy, until recently, hadn't really used -- he didn't really text people. He didn't really use a cell phone in that way. He would say to Hope Hicks, hey, Hope, call X, Y, and Z. So, to me, that is the reason.

Now, I mean, the jury might need to understand that, but that would be the reason.

PARLATORE: Yes, that's absolutely true. I mean, a good portion of my relationship with him, I would get calls from other people saying, please hold for Donald Trump, or please hold for the president. And so, it does make sense that you want to explain why these people are in there, but, you know, to his point, it doesn't matter whether any of these affairs happened or not.

All that matters is that there is a story that they don't want to be out there, and whether it's true or not, they want to kill it. I mean, it's the same thing with the doorman story. Whether it's true or not, or whether, you know, Ted Cruz's father is involved in the Kennedy assassination, all of these stories, whether they're true or not, is irrelevant to the underlying facts.

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: The documentary evidence that came in today, I found to be -- it's not what we're talking about right now, but I think it's going to be critically important during closings. We all know, we've all done closing arguments, that we -- through the secretary today, that we were able to get -- or the prosecution, I'm not on this team anymore, but that we were able to get a lot of documents.

COATES: The Royal We, Royal We. That -- all right.

CHILDRESS: Forever We.

PHILLIP: But talk to us -- I mean, what documentary evidence do you think is the most significant?

CHILDRESS: So, I'll just use the Michael Cohen -- the shell company documents today. That's going to be critical in the timeline going back to when the news broke of Stormy Daniels. Now you have a marker. Now you have a marker of when Michael Cohen was able to create this shell company.

And you can walk the jury through a timeline and you can display those documents. You can go to the direct testimony. You can reference the cross-examination. And that's not sexy right now, but I guarantee you in four to five weeks, it will be when you're giving that closing.

ROSSI: I want to supplement what you said, the timeline will be crucial, and you're right, but according to -- I didn't read the transcript. I read somebody writing about it. But according to the testimony, Michael Cohen called the banker and said, I really, really, really need to set this bank account up. And that corroborates his testimony when he's going to say by October 28th, we were desperate to get this deal done because we were scared to death it could decide the election.

COATES: It also corroborates David Pecker, right? Go back to how we first -- everything is about repetition, right, and primacy and recency. Think about what are the earmarks of things that a song that gets in your ear, a great sermon, a great speech. It's all about repetition. And so the more you hear it, the more it goes into the brain of the jurors that you believe it.

So, David Pecker had to set the stage already and said, listen, I wasn't paying for this. I didn't want to do this, but he also wanted to have a shell company. He wanted to have -- I don't want a direct line between the Trump Organization and me. I ultimately ripped up this contract, all that stuff.

Now, the jury is thinking, oh wait, you know what? I've heard this before. Now it rings true to me.

WILLIAMS: You know, what's another bit of repetition you're going to keep hearing, and you heard today on that bit that I told you, the words, porn star. And it is in the interest of the defense to keep reminding the jury about what the jobs are of these people, what they are doing and seeking to do subliminally or maybe even explicitly is dirty up the witnesses and make these folks who are coming in to testify.


Because there is someone on that jury who is going to have a problem with the fact that you're talking about infidelity, adult film actresses.

COATES: But it cuts both ways.

WILLIAMS: It does.

PHILLIP: I mean, I feel like that's as much a problem for Donald Trump as it is for anybody else.

WILLIAMS: On the infidelity part. But on the porn star part, it comes to a credibility point, absolutely.

PHILLIP: So, Elliot, I know you have a little bit. Give us, give us a little bit more from the testimony today.

WILLIAMS: So, an interesting thing is about the, you know, sort of the incentives of AMI, this company, why they behave the way they did, and, frankly, acted the way they did against their own financial interest to benefit Donald Trump's campaign. And there was a really interesting exchange on the direct examination from the prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, that we can go through right here.

And so Steinglass asks David Pecker, again, this is the head or the publisher of AMI, the company, did you say, or did AMI say in this document that AMI's principal purpose in entering into the agreement was to suppress the model's story so as to prevent it from influencing the election? Pecker says, that is correct.

Is that true, Mr. Pecker? Was that your purpose in locking up the Karen McDougal story to influence the election? This is Laura's point about repetition again. He says -- Pecker says, yes. So, if I understand you correctly, running stories that praise Mr. Trump appeal to your readership? Pecker says, yes, they did.

What they were doing here was suppressing these stories that appeal to the readership in a way that later on in this he does say this was actually against our interest because we could have made a ton of money on this story but chose not to because it was in our interest to help out Donald Trump.

COATES: How does that play, Marcus?

CHILDRESS: Well, I think it plays well, honestly, for the government's case. One, we go into the repetition of -- you're going through these themes like, instead of being the National Enquirer where I'm going to post these Trump stories, I'm going to keep it because I want them to win the election. And that's really important for proving up from the misdemeanor to the felony side of this false business records claims.

And I don't know, I've heard a lot of commentators say that they don't think that the campaign part is as strong. I don't know. We're only three witnesses in and I feel like it's already becoming a theme that we're talking about.

ROSSI: I totally agree.

PHILLIP: What about you, Tim? Do you think there were any moments where you felt like the defense really did a good job puncturing the prosecutor's arguments?

PARLATORE: You know, here, here's the thing. All of the themes that we're talking about and the repetition, a good defense is going to sit there and say, all of that is undisputed. You know, all of these, you know, things about what AMI did, but that doesn't have anything to do with the actual crime.

And, you know, one thing that it makes an effective defense is to kind of separate out, there are the things that are not in dispute that they're going to waste weeks of your time proving and reproving and reproving things that we don't dispute. You can ignore all that because the only key is what happened here with these documents, and that's the only part that's in dispute. And that's also the only part that there's no corroboration for what Michael Cohen says.

CHILDRESS: I want to say one thing to that, but this can be proven on the papers though. This is just falsification of business records, right?

PARLATORE: But it can't because it has to go to what's the intent of the falsification and what crime was that done in furtherance of.

And so, so far what you have is you have a lot of transactions that, again, are not in dispute. I mean, they're all on paper. You can't dispute these things, but you can dispute whether the actual payment to Stormy Daniels, the way that it was paid back to Michael Cohen, and what Donald Trump knew about that, and what that purpose was of putting the entry in there.

WILLIAMS: If this were charged as a misdemeanor, it would be over already. Getting that felony is the --

PHILLIP: All right. Everyone we've got a lot more ahead.

COATES: You're trying to shut up lawyers? Good luck.

PHILLIP: I said yesterday, it's like holding back the tsunami. Everyone, stand by for us.

Breaking tonight as well, Donald Trump's former Attorney General Bill Barr telling CNN in a blockbuster interview that Americans are sympathizing with Trump during his trials. Plus, why he says that he'll still vote for Trump even though Trump shouldn't be anywhere near the Oval Office.

And the story that got America talking tonight involving one of Trump's running mate contenders, why Kristi Noem admits she killed her puppy.



COATES: Well, this just in to CNN. Former Attorney General Bill Barr speaking in the last hour with CNN's Kaitlan Collins. Now, here's what he said when asked to be clear about voting for Donald Trump, a man he previously said, if you can recall, he could not support.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Just to be clear, you're voting for someone who you believe tried to subvert the peaceful transfer of power, that can't even achieve his own policies, that lied about the election, even after his attorney general told him that the election wasn't stolen? And as the former chief law enforcement in this country, you're going to vote for someone who is facing 88 criminal counts?

WILLIAM BARR, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, look, the 80 a criminal counts a lot of those are -- and I've said are --

COLLINS: Even if ten of them are accurate?

BARR: The answer to your question is yes. I'm supporting the Republican ticket.

COLLINS: But can you say that you're voting for Donald Trump? Because you're not saying his name. You just say you're supporting the Republican ticket.

BARR: I've said I, as between Biden and Trump, I will vote for Trump. Because I believe he will do less damage over the four years.


COATES: Well, our panel is back, and also joining us as a Republican advisor, Rina Shah and former Hillary Clinton Spokesperson Philippe Reines.

I had to tell you, I had to pause and just figure out where the yes was. I knew it was coming and the nest was in fact there. Were you surprised to think that after all that is said and done, he is saying, look, yes, when given the choice between Trump and Biden, even in spite of all that Kaitlan just listed, notice you only talked about the last of it, not the policies or anything else, that that would be the choice?


RINA SHAH, FORMER SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL GOP ADVISER: I'm not surprised. This is a moment in which people are carrying forth like this is politics as usual. This is a man who's been taken an oath for upholding the law. He's supposed to see black and white here.

What is gray for you, Bill Barr? What is stopping you from saying, okay, you know what? I'm a little bit more worried about my bank account here. He can't say it. He can't admit the truth. They'll never tell the truth.

Those Republicans that are so worried about Democrat policies that are going to erode the country are actually not worried about the social policies. They are worried about the fiscal, because Democrats want to give all our money away. That's what's been ingrained in the Republican mind.

When I was a young staffer on the Hill, that was the talking point. Democrats want to take your money. They want to erode the American way for generations to come and there's no reversing it unless you vote for the person with an R next to their name. Very simple, and that's what I heard right there.

COATES: So, for the Democrats though, they're working against -- if plan is, we're going to appeal to the thought that you couldn't possibly vote for someone, we're going to clutch the pearls, whether it's the idea of an access Hollywood tape or the idea of now the 88 plus convictions or, sorry, indictments and charges. If that's the game plan and Bill Barr, of all people, is saying, okay, well, and what's next, how will it work strategically for Democrats?

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON SPOKESMAN: Well, I don't know. I mean, I think if you showed that video to, you know, 25 million independents, Democrats, Republicans who weren't sure, that's hardly selling Donald Trump.

I mean, I'm not surprised that Bill Barr would walk into the voting booth and cast a ballot for Donald Trump. I'm surprised that he feels that there was something in it for him to go on CNN and have that conversation. Because, frankly, for such a smart guy, he looked like an idiot. And why would you put yourself in a situation?

He actually makes an incredibly good case. Why you should vote for Joe Biden because, you know, he couldn't even -- the most important part or the most interesting part of this is that he concedes that at least ten of the counts are actually valid.

So, whereas his usual routine, which he did with Bob Mueller during the Mueller investigation, was saying, well, you know what, I don't like Donald Trump a whole lot, but this was a witch hunt. And I'm going to stand up for what's right in the rule of law. But here, he just admitted that, yes, there's 88 of them, a lot of them I don't agree with, he just said 10 of them are pretty valid. And, by the way, that's a pretty big deal.

COATES: Well, that was Kaitlan's, I think, offer of whether, if, even if ten, would that be enough? And she said -- he said, well, the answer to your question is --

REINES: He didn't say there's zero.

COATES: Yes, I heard you. But are we really back to this idea? I mean, you've covered politics so well. The idea that the lesser of two evils, that's what it comes down to?

PHILLIP: Well, look, I mean, this is my question, especially for the Democrats at the table, whoever many of you there are, shouldn't this not be a wakeup call that there are probably millions of Bill Bars out there who don't like Donald Trump one bit, but will go into that ballot box and cast a vote for him?

WILLIAMS: What I found most interesting about it, and not even a political point, this is a purely legal one, and coming from Bill Barr, this idea of some of the charges being legitimate, being charged with a crime is enough for people to judge your conduct. It's not enough to send you to jail, but charges are sufficient.

So, here's a great example. If someone were charged with assaulting children, you would not hire them as a babysitter. If someone was charged with arson, not convicted, you wouldn't hire them in a McDonald's or whatever else. The idea that somehow someone needs to be convicted of a crime before you can make a reasonable reason judgment about them for the presidency is sort of silly.

And the idea that a former attorney general is saying, well, you know, there are legitimate charges against him, but I'm still going to vote for him, is ludicrous given his role as a former law enforcement officer. There are all sorts of ways we judge people simply for being charged.

PHILLIP: It's interesting, you think you would say that under Bill Barr.

WILLIAMS: It's the presumption of innocence for going to jail for a conviction, not for, can you be the standard bearer for a political party.

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, Tim, I wonder for you personally, and I actually don't know your politics, really, but when you look at a Bill Barr, who is a law enforcement officer, he was Trump's attorney general, he was there for some of those moments when Trump was literally trying to subvert the last election, what do you make of somebody with that kind of pedigree saying what he said today?

PARLATORE: You know, I'm going to take some of your advice, because, yes, as a lawyer, I always take the position of I'm happy to talk about whether somebody should go to jail or not. Whether they should go to the Oval Office is somebody else's discussion to have.

And so I think that, you know, he stepped outside of that, but I think that there are elements here where there are people who, you know, they may not vote for Trump, they may vote against Biden.

[22:25:05] Just like in 2020, there were probably a whole bunch of people who didn't vote for Biden. They voted against Trump. And that will probably happen again this year.

So -- but beyond that, I agree that, certainly, as a lawyer and law enforcement officers, better to --

COATES: But how about -- hold on, I want you to respond to this. But how about this moment, though, because he goes on, I thought this was a really interesting point. It wasn't just that there was his own views, but he thinks that others, to your point, there are other so- called Bill Barrs out there in the form of people who are sympathizing with Trump based on the perception that it's a pile-on. Listen to what he says.


BARR: I think a lot of the country sympathizes with him. So, I think the longer the trial goes on, the more support he gets.


COATES: What would you make of that?

ROSSI: I think he's full of baloney, and I'm not going to use the word I used last night.

I'm just going to that poll I think you had it on yesterday. They had a poll of people their views on the hush money election interference. 34 percent thought it was too harsh. Trump is being treated too harshly. But 34 percent thought he was being treated too leniently. And then there was another category that was about right. But if you total up the one who felt he was being treated leniently plus the one who felt he was being just right, that was almost 60 percent. When he says a lot of people, I don't know who he's talking to.

But I want to add this. Elliot and I worked in the main Justice building. It's a beautiful building on the fifth floor is where the attorney general has his office. And when he was attorney general twice, when he walked out, Elliot knows this, etched in the rotunda is a wonderful quote. The United States wins its point when justice is done and citizens in the court.

And when I see that man right now, after all the things he's done, all the days he spent in that building, and he's basically saying, I'm going to vote for a criminal, a criminal, that shouldn't be in the White House, I'll vote for that person over Joe Biden, he's lost his mind.

WILLIAMS: You know, Gene, two things can be true, right? Those morals and values of the Justice Department, all the quotes that are beautiful, wonderful, but people don't understand the legal system. People do not understand that there are multiple different jurisdictions independently of each other investigating the president.

I think a lot of America -- and this is what Bill Barr was talking about. A lot of Americans actually think it's a pile-on because a lot of Americans actually think Joe Biden is the puppeteer pulling the strings in Atlanta and New York and so on.

ROSSI: not according to this poll, though.

WILLIAMS: But the point is he is saying here that there's all these prosecutions happening and people think it's one big deep state pile- on against the president.

ROSSI: A coordination.

WILLIAMS: And I think, you know, you're not going to get out from under that, I think.

COATES: What do you think, Rina, about this?

SHAH: I would say this. Let's not forget the number of voters who the allegations are enough for them. I'm one of those voters. The convictions are another for another set of voters, right? That's what -- it's simple to me as a non-legal person, right? As a non-legal professional, a person that does not deal with the law every day does not understand all the tiers and what's all these 91-plus indictments that are always talked about.

And the only playbook the Republicans ever have to go by is the weaponization of a system against a private citizen. It can happen to me or you. I'm like, no, no, no, no, no. Look at all these allegations. Isn't it something? If my neighbor had all these allegations against him or her, I would not let my kids go play over there. Sorry, it just would not happen. So --

COATES: But what about on the other side though on that notion? Because there were -- I mean, and this is -- it's very different scenarios, but, of course, you've worked for Hillary Clinton, and the lock her up chants, we can all recall, and the SME Intimation, well, really the clear statement that was trying to be made by those who were saying it was the allegation ought to be enough for people. James Comey, Jim Comey came out in that infamous moment, where he tried to usurp the role of the attorney general of the United States, got out of pocket, out of his lane, and said, I think I'm going to go in front of a camera and tar and feather someone. Oh, sorry. Do I have an opinion? I'm sorry about that.

But on that very point, the allegations are enough. Why is that not okay for Hillary and appropriate for Trump?

REINES: There's no good answer to that, but I think you touched on something else, which is that we're now two and a half presidential cycles into Donald Trump's lifespan.

2016, the truth is, is that he was still blustery and obnoxious, but he had message, and he had an effective attack. I don't know if it was 50-50, but whatever. It was the right balance, and he won. 2020, he lost, because that was out of whack. He really had no message, just a lot of noise, a lot of anger. Russia, whatever it was, mishandling COVID. [22:30:02]

That noise killed him.

If you look at what's happening now, it's noise times 10. He's grievance all the time. There's no message. It's vengeance.

These, to me, these trials, yes, we can talk about which is most severe, whether people see them as alt-1, whether people see them as rigged or deep state, whether people understand them, whether they'll start, finish, whether they'll come to fruition, but they're noise. This idea that Donald Trump, that these trials help him seize the day and dominate, you know what? That's why he's going to lose because people don't want this noise. I think even people who don't mind him don't want this in their face every day.

That seems to be why he lost in 2020, that enough people who voted for him in 2016, who weren't bothered by what he said, how he said it, just don't want this extra layer of crap.

SHAH: I just think people in 2020, they wanted something new because he screwed up so bad. It's like, okay, let's take a chance on something new. And this time it's like, let's go back and see how that went with so much complete memory loss of everything that went wrong during that administration.

PHILLIP: Well, one of the things about the chaos is that it's a pretty good reminder of what the Trump era was actually like. I mean, it was kind of like this, actually, except that he was president.

Everyone, stand by. Up next. While all of this is going on, one of Trump's running mate contenders just admitted that she killed her own puppy and a goat as well, shot them in a gravel pit. Hear why and the political backlash that she's getting for that.




PHILLIP: Here's a question tonight. Did Tim Scott just become the VP favorite for Donald Trump? Well, that's because another contender, Kristi Noem, just ticked off quite a lot of Americans.

COATES: All right, look, here's the backstory. South Dakota governor is releasing a new book, you may have heard. And "The Guardian" got its hands on a copy. And the outlet is now flagging a section in which she describes killing her puppy, a puppy named Cricket.

PHILLIP: Honestly, the easiest way to describe this is just frankly, to read the main part of the article to you. It says, Cricket was a wire hair pointer about 14 months old, she says, adding that the dog, a female, had an aggressive personality and needed to be trained to be used for hunting pheasant. COATES: Now, she includes her story about this ill-fated Cricket, by

the way. And she says to illustrate her willingness in politics as well as in South Dakota life, apparently, to do anything difficult, messy and ugly simply needs to be done by taking Cricket on a pheasant hunt with older dogs, Noem says. She hoped to calm the young dog down and begin to teach her how to behave.

PHILLIP: Now, unfortunately, Cricket ruined the hunt, she says, going, quote, "out of her mind with excitement, chasing all those birds and having the time of her life". Noem describes calling Cricket, then using an electronic collar to attempt to bring her under control. Nothing worked. Then on the way home after the hunt, as Noem stopped to talk to a local family, Cricket escaped Noem's truck and then attacked that family's chickens, quote, "grabbing one chicken at a time, crunching it to death with one bite and dropping it to attack another".

COATES: Now, Cricket, the untrainable dog, Noem writes, behaves like, quote, "a trained assassin". Now, when Noem finally grabbed Cricket, she says, the dog whipped around to bite me. Then as the chicken's owner wept, this is real, everyone, Noem repeatedly apologized, wrote the shocked family a check, quote, "for the price they asked and help them dispose of the carcasses littering the scene of the crime".

PHILLIP: Now, through it all, Noem says that Cricket was the picture of pure joy. I hated that dog, Noem writes, adding that Cricket had proved herself, quote, "to be untrainable, dangerous to anyone that she came into contact with and less than worthless as a hunting dog".

COATES: Now at that moment, Noem says, I realized I had to put her down. Noem, who also represents her state in Congress for eight years, got her gun, then led Cricket to a gravel pit. Here's what she writes. It was not a pleasant job, she writes, but it had to be done. And after it was over, I realized another unpleasant job needed to be done. Incredibly, the tale of slaughter is actually not finished at this point.

PHILLIP: Her family, she writes, also owned a male goat. Now, the male goat was nasty and mean because it had not been castrated. Furthermore, the goat smelled disgusting, musty, and rancid, I guess goats would, but that's another story. And it loved to chase Noem's children, knocking them down and ruining their clothes.

COATES: This is real. So she decided to kill the unnamed goat the same way she had just killed Cricket the dog, but thought she dragged him to a gravel pit. The goat jumped as she shot and therefore survived the wound. Now, this is a page turner. So Noem says she went back to her truck, retrieved another shell, then, quote, "hurried back to the gravel pit and put him down".

Now, at that point, she writes, she realized a construction crew had watched her kill both animals. And the star workers quickly got back to work, she writes, only for a school bus to arrive and drop off Noem's children. She writes, Kennedy looked around confused, Noem writes of her daughter who asked, hey, where's Cricket?


PHILLIP: It's pretty awful as someone who lost a dog.

COATES: But she wrote this in her book.

PHILLIP: As a child, honestly, it's really traumatic. And if you're thinking, wait, there's no way that this could possibly be true. Well, Noem defended the scenes in that book in a statement. She says she loves animals, but tough decisions happen all the time on a farm. In fact, she says they recently put down three horses.

COATES: Well, joining us now is dog trainer Zak George, host of "Zak George's Dog Training Revolution".

PHILLIP: And I have to say, Laura, before you bring Zak in, my dog was partly trained by Zak when he was a puppy.

He's a hunting dog as well. And they're tough, they're difficult, but they're great dogs. They can be trained. Welcome to the show, Zak.

COATES: Oh, this is a special moment.


COATES: I love this. Well, listen, I love you.

GEORGE: No, I appreciate them.

COATES: Go ahead, Zak.

GEORGE: Oh, yeah.

COATES: Don't do this like traffic stopping. You go.

GEORGE: Yeah, I'm glad you found value in the dog training videos. I, you know, I make free videos for everyone out there to learn from on YouTube. Just look me up, Zak George.

COATES: I love that. Well, listen, I wonder from your perspective, when you hear that this 14 month old wirehaired pointer, beautiful dogs, by the way, was out of her mind with excitement, chasing birds on the hunt, attacking chickens. I wonder what you've made of that.

GEORGE: This is I this is an astonishing story, to say the least. This the behavior described here is very typical adolescent behavior out of a dog that's been selectively bred to have endless stamina and endurance. And it really speaks to the fact that the general public is deeply confused about dog behavior and how to treat them. That's something we advocate for a lot on my social media to try and help educate the public around modern, humane treatment of dogs.

PHILLIP: And she says that she put the dog around other older dogs in a hunting setting to teach her how to behave. She talks about using an electronic collar, but then at the same time, she calls the dog untrainable. I mean, when you hear that, I mean, do you get the sense that she really tried her level best to actually train this dog? GEORGE: I don't know what her personal best would be, but yeah, there

are many more appropriate ways to train dogs than that, especially with electric collars and aversive methods like this that rely on pain, fear and intimidation. Those are strongly correlated with increased aggression in dogs.

Now, many members of the public don't realize that's one of the big problems that collars like electric collars and prong collars and choke chains are used aggressively to suppress behavior. But one of the things we're trying to raise awareness about is the fact that there are so many side effects and there's nothing that can't be trained with positive reinforcement training. And the good thing about positive reinforcement training and responsible management of the dog's environment, which was also lacking in this case, this really is what people need to because it doesn't have the side effects. This is what more people need to be aware of.

COATES: You know, there are probably as she writes in her book, this idea that maybe she finds all this conversation quite naive and thinks that hard choices are made. You just don't understand what it's like. I think she references farm life in particular and the idea of having to make tough decisions on farms in different parts of the country. What do you make of that? Because I'm sure there are people who are listening and thinking it's a dog, which is certainly not my opinion of the matter. But what do you say to people who look at this issue and think that we're being naive?

I think I think -- I think I just blew his mind with that question. The idea -- the idea that someone would think it's naive. Look, enough said that he was saying he has no words for what I've just said. You cannot respond to that thought process. I guess I understand. It's I mean, Zak George, thank you for joining us.

Sorry that we couldn't finish that interview. But just to bring it here into the room. Look, she had a hunting dog that has a prey instinct. That's what these dogs do. They're bred to do that. Philippe, your reaction to just the I cannot believe that this is actually an anecdote that she thought reflected well on her.

REINES: I mean, watching everyone's faces while that was on. I mean, everyone's blood is boiling. I am one of these people that not only loves animals and has always had pets, but just prefers them to people. We don't deserve them.

That she thought that that was a good idea. I mean, there's a special circle of hell that's reserved for people who mistreat animals. It's a real window into it. I was as I was leaving, I bumped into my neighbor and his dog, Georgie. Georgie doesn't really like me because he associates me with my two cats. But I jokingly said, Georgie, I'm going to go on TV and I'm going to defend your honor.


And my neighbor said, do you think she said that because she doesn't want to be V.P.? Like his initial reaction was, how stupid can you be? And, you know, on a political basis, there's not a whole lot that keeps us all together. In fact, there's really nothing like most of America can't agree that today is Friday. Pets and animals, one of them. I mean, I looked up the numbers. 86 million households, two out of every three have a dog or a cat. There are enough dogs in America that beat Argentina, that beat Thailand. Cats, if they were our own nation, would be like Bolivia. And I think they want to be their own nation. What makes her think that this is a good idea? And what I love about this and I'll wrap is that Republicans love to yell at people like me and Democrats that we don't get America.

You know, we're living in a bubble. We like our kale. We like our D.I. We like all these things that we just don't get what goes on between the coasts.

What America is she living in where people think that it's a good idea to talk about, to do what she did, just walk around killing goats because they smell. I mean, as if goats don't smell and to kill puppies because they bother her. This is someone who thinks they're in touch. And what's most pathetic about this is that Donald Trump won't care. You know why? Donald Trump's the only president in American history, from what I could tell, that has never owned a pet.


GENE ROSSI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I grew up in Middletown, Connecticut, and myself and three older brothers and my wonderful parents who have passed, we lived on a hundred acre farm.

And my father had a lumber business and we had Clydesdales. So I lived around horses and cows and dogs and cats. And all I can say is this, the person who really wrote her book was Dexter. OK, the show that is sick. That is sick. Go back to 2012.

Romney. He put a dog in a cage on his car.

Yeah. And look at all that.

PHILLIP: That was yeah, he got it.

ROSSI: She just committed suicide as a V.P. candidate. She will never be the V.P. candidate.

PHILLIP: And the other part of this that is hard to swallow is the way she flippantly mentions her child showing up and finding the dog gone. Wild. That's why I have a little bit of childhood trauma in that vein.

And if you have if you have a kid, I would never do that to my child.

REINES: It's just you got to wonder why she put that in there. There's 10 other things that she thought she would get this out there.

ROSSI: Yes. A shooting elephant, Don Jr. or something.

SHAH: No, I think there's an element here where she thought this made her look masculine. I've seen women who are on the Republican side pick-up guns, talk about hunting more than they do. OK, I grew up in southern West Virginia. I'm comfortable around those things, but they overstate it or they overdo it as a way to sort of take up that -- that banner of masculinity. And she doesn't think it's going to work against her, by the way.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: There's a difference between hunting and execution. This to me is a character flaw.

COATES: Well, I have to say something before you go. My dog Hershey's better than all your dogs. That was the last word. My dog Hershey's better than all of your dogs.

PHILLIP: Booker T would like to add a word. I'm going to end the conversation there.

COATES: Well, if his name is Booker T, then I have. OK, fine. No, it's Hershey. No, Hershey.

COATES: All right, guys. Booker T is the best dog. Thank you very much.

Coming up next for us, the Columbia student protest leader who said, quote, "Zionists don't deserve to live", has just actually been banned from campus. See what happened when CNN confronted them tonight. Stay with us.




PHILLIP: Clashes on college campuses continue during pro-Palestinian protests just days before most are due to play pomp and circumstance for their seniors who are set to graduate. And now tonight, one of the leaders of the protest at Columbia University has been banned from campus for saying hateful anti-Semitic things. CNN's Miguel Marquez confronted that student earlier.


KHYMANI JAMES, STUDENT PROTEST LEADER: Zionists, they don't deserve to live comfortably, let alone Zionists don't deserve to live.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SR. U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Khymani James, a spokesperson for the student protest at Columbia University, said this more than once in a personal social media post in January.

JAMES: The same way we're very comfortable accepting that Nazis don't deserve to live, fascists don't deserve to live, racists don't deserve to live, Zionists, they shouldn't live in this world.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Confronted by CNN about his comments, James unapologetic.

JAMES: I think we need to shift the conversation from people's comfort to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced, the tens of thousands of people who have been murdered by Israel.

MARQUEZ: And how do your words help?

JAMES: I think it's very important.

MARQUEZ: How do your words help?

JAMES: I think it's very important for people to understand that the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism is woefully incorrect and wrong. Again --

MARQUEZ: So do you apologize?

JAMES: Again, as I mentioned earlier, we believe in the sanctity of life here at this encampment.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Despite his calls for a class of people to cease existing, James nearly daily expresses his belief that Israel is committing genocide.


JAMES: While Israel plans to move forward with its genocide backed by the United States and other Western powers, it is important to remember why we are here.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): After being confronted, James released a statement saying, in part, I am frustrated that the words I said in an Instagram live video have become a distraction for the movement for Palestinian liberation. I misspoke in the heat of the moment, for which I apologize.

Some Jewish students at Columbia say they have been called Zionists by protesters just for being Jewish. Other Jewish students have taken an active part in the protest for what they view as an overbearing Israeli response to the October 7th Hamas terror attack and a weak U.S. response to continued bloodshed.

JONATHAN BEN-MENACHEM, JEWISH STUDENT SUPPORTING PROTESTS: It's possible that pro-Palestine protests might make some Jewish students feel uncomfortable, but I will emphasize that the pro-Palestine protests here at the encampment have fundamental values against hate and bigotry.


Our thanks to Miguel Marquez for that report from Columbia University.

And up next, our coverage continues right after this.