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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Stormy Daniels Testifies In Trump Hush Money Trial; Judge Denies Trump Attorney's Motion For A Mistrial; Judge Cannon Indefinitely Postpones Trump Classified Documents Trial; Stormy Daniels' Friend Reacts To Her Colleague's Testimony In Trump's Hush Money Trial; Jen Psaki Shares Split Screen Campaigns In The 2024 Elections And Her New Book. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 07, 2024 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Welcome to a special edition of NewsNight. I'm Abby Phillip alongside Laura Coates.

And tonight, two Trump legal strategies and the evidence that one is working and the other might be working against the former president of the United States. The first, deny, deny, deny. In minutes, the eight- year history of the many, many times that Trump has repeated his denials about Stormy Daniels and insisted a picture is all there is to the story.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Now, the adult film star, as you can imagine, telling a very different version of events the jury under oath today inside 100 Center Street. Now, Daniels left out, by the way, the most salacious details, but not much else. She chronicled how that night in Lake Tahoe in 2006 escalated from chatter to a dinner invitations at his hotel suite, to silk pajamas, to posing in his boxers on the bed, to sex.

Trump listened, a scowl etched across his face for much of the nearly five hours that she spent on that witness stand. Trump nudged, and I say nudged lightly, nudged his lawyers as repeatedly to object as prosecutors prompted Daniels to explain how Cohen, allegedly in Trump's direction, engineered the deal to keep her quiet.

Now, the defense, they got their bite at the apple as well and landed some notable dents in her story, suggesting that she was an opportunist who's been making money for years off of whispers of this tryst who's inventing this story from thin air.

At one point, Trump attorney Susan Necheles elicited this answer question. Am I correct that you hate President Trump? Daniels, yes.

PHILLIP: but the other legal strategy that is paying dividends for Donald Trump, delay, delay, delay. The classified documents trial in Florida is postponed until TBD, a date that is not known and may likely be after the November election. That's according to a new order from the U. S. district judge, Aileen Cannon. Judge Cannon argues that there are too many rules and too many deadlines that she has to wade through before thinking about a firm start for Jack Smith's case.

Here to tick through all of the important testimony from quite a day in court today, Deanna Paul, Olivia Nuzzi, Joey Jackson, Mercedes Colwin and Donte Mills.

Joey, let's get right to it, the salacious details. Give it to us. What happened in the court today?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The devil is in the details, and do I have details. So, let's start with the transcript, all right. So now, prosecutor, can you briefly describe where you had sex with him? Daniels, Stormy Daniels that is, the next thing I know, I was on the bed, somehow on the opposite side of the bed from where we had been standing. I had my clothes and shoes off. I believe my bra, however, was still on. We were in the missionary position. Objection, says defense counsel. The judge sustained.

Prosecutor, without describing the position, do you remember how your clothes got off? Answer by Stormy Daniels, no. Prosecutor, is that a memory that has not come back to you? Objection again, defense counsel. The judge sustained. Prosecutor, you don't at this point remember, is that correct? Stormy Daniels, correct. Prosecutor, and did you end up having sex with him on the bed? Stormy Daniels, yes. Prosecutor, and did you know, withdrawn, do you have a recollection of feeling something unusual that you have a memory of?

Objection, the judge again, sustained. Prosecutor, what if anything, do you remember anything other than the fact that you had sex with him on the bed. Stormy Daniels, I was staring at the ceiling. I didn't know how I got there. I made note like I was trying to think about anything other than what was happening there. Objection, again, the judge sustained. Defense counsel, I move to strike. The judge, the answer is stricken.

Boom, a lot of stuff going on in that courtroom regarding pretty salacious.

PHILLIP: I think the question is, what does that have to do with anything?

JACKSON: That's a very good answer, but I think the -- a question. But here's the issue. The issue is, is that this is the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room, of course, is the actual affair. And when I say the devil is in the details, I think if you're going to be descriptive with respect to having an affair, Trump has denied the affair repeatedly, this sort of gives a sense that it actually took place.

Now, I've read some things. I didn't read other things. I didn't get into the satin pajamas.


I didn't get into the boxers. I didn't get into the other -- the nature of, you know, the hotel being three times the size of her home. And so I think those color commentary gives a sense of the fact that it happened, number one, and gives a sense of urgency of why you wouldn't want the voters to know anything about that. It might affect election prospects.

COATES: And also, I mean, focus as well, guys, thinking about the objections. Why were these defense counsel so quick to get on their feet and say objection about this, right? There was the intimation that was another big elephant in the room to suggest that somehow this was not consensual.

Now, she has denied that it was not consensual. She said that it was consensual repeatedly. But the defense counsel did not want even the slightest innuendo that she was suggesting by looking up into the ceiling and wanting to be anywhere but there, that it would give additional fodder for that very point. That's important for this defense to make sure it's not prejudicial on that moment.

DONTE MILLS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You definitely want to rule out, A, the jury having any idea that this was not consensual because it will impact how they look at Donald Trump as a person. That's why you want to rule that out. But I want to clarify this and say this. We had this idea that a prosecution puts together their case and everybody is on board with their plan, everybody is on board with everything they're doing. That's not how it works. Sometimes you have a witness that has their own motive. And clearly, she went in there and wanted to make it clear that this actually happened.

This, for better or for worse, is now the most important moment in her life, her affair with Donald Trump, and he's denying it. You can tell she went in there wanting to prove to everybody that she knew would be listening that this affair happened. And that's why she interjected with those details to make it clear.

PHILLIP: Olivia, you've spent some time with her. You've talked to her about this exact moment. How does it stack up to the version that she's told you? And what did you make of how she came across on the stand today?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: It's interesting. Her, the facts have stayed the same over these years. I first met her in 2018, not that long after the Wall Street Journal report about this first came out. And I've subsequently interviewed her and stayed in touch with her.

The facts have stayed the same, but her own interpretation of the dynamic between the two of them, between herself and Donald Trump, has evolved over time. I mean, not dissimilar to say how Monica Lewinsky's opinion of what happened between her and Bill Clinton evolved from when, you know, the immediate aftermath until more recently.

COATES: But Monica talked about that she could not have given consent because of the power dynamic. That was her evolution of thought.

NUZZI: So, initially, Stormy was very much talking about how she definitely had agency. She was not a victim. We saw in her Anderson Cooper interview, for instance, back in 2018, I believe it was, talking about I am not a victim. When I last spoke to her about this on the record in 2023, she began to feel not just about this situation and not saying that the sex itself was not consensual, but that, in general, she felt victimized by the entire thing.

She felt victimized by the way that Donald Trump's supporters had gone after her, had threatened her. She felt victimized by the way that her family had been affected by all of this, how her life was being defined, as you said, by this. And she began to feel like, you know, she was no longer just tough as nails and sort of gritting her way through it, and it really has taken a toll on her.

But when it comes to the sex itself and whether or not it was consensual, she's never claimed that it was outright rape, but she is operating now in this sort of nuanced place where she's saying that there is a sort of gray area where their power dynamic was made things sort of unclear.

It's difficult, I think, when you talk about that in an interview for a magazine, or if you talk about it on your podcast. It's very different than talking about it in a courtroom.

COATES: And that's why the defense counsel was on their feet, right? Deanna, to think to themselves, hold on, I mean, you talk about what's up with anything. They want this to be about the sexiest thing in this courtroom, the documents, 34 counts of falsified records. We know it's subjectively sexy, but that's what this case is actually coming down to.

But the idea that she is talking about how she might feel afterwards or the victimization by others or the threat by somebody in a parking lot, I think it was in Las Vegas, the prosecution has to focus her on a very narrow window, right, just what happened to secure the NDA. That's the point in time they have to keep her confined to.

DEANNA PAUL, TRIAL LAWYER: You're absolutely right and that's why defense before she took the stand raised all of this. They raised the objection. They said, Judge, we want to make sure that this testimony is limited, that she stays within the guidelines that you've set up.

We don't think it's relevant how she felt at the time. We don't think it's relevant how she felt after. And then you see -- I mean, she starts testifying, she's going way out of the guidelines that were set up. She's talking about or implying that it, to an extent wasn't consensual. She's talking about this imbalance of power and she's talking about things that just aren't relevant to this trial.

PHILLIP: But prosecutors kind of poked the bear. Why would they do that on that particular issue? I'm reading this and they're kind of digging, oh, is that a memory that has not come back to you? They're asking right -- they're probing into this abyss. Why?

PAUL: So, it's something that Susan Hoffinger during the arguments before Stormy Daniels took the stand, she said -- she made that argument then that it's really important that the jury know context and how she felt in that moment.

[22:10:10] And I think Susan was trying to take it as far as she possibly could, but that's also why the defense started -- they objected consistently every time they thought something got a little bit past the line, which is also why I was surprised that Judge Merchan didn't kind of punted it back to the defense being, like you should have objected more.

COATES: Well, they should have objected more. The idea of like if you have the judge saying, like I'm objecting for you -- and I wasn't there. I'm putting the Laura Coates tone. How I envisioned it was, objection, right it to them.

MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Judge Coates, you're absolutely right. I should've stood up on my feet and objected.

But here's the issue, and we're trial lawyers here, you have to be so careful. Because if you object, object, object, the jury is going to be like, what are you afraid of? Why are you so afraid that this witness is going to say something that's going to be damaging to you? So it has to be very, very strategic. But that testimony that came in and the fact that the prosecutor is pushing those edges so much farther and then the allegation that it may not have been consensual, that's super problematic for the prosecutor.

And it's not going to result in a mistrial. It's already been ruled upon it's not. But it may be an appealable issue, we'll have to see. That's really significant.

NUZZI: Laura, I just want to say something. You know, there's some speculation about what her motive may have been in talking this way today. And she was asked if she hated him. She said yes. My read of it, knowing her a bit, it's pure Stormy Daniels. She's a really colorful character. She speaks in a colorful way. She's a writer. She wrote a book. She started writing it long before the Donald Trump thing happened. It's a really funny book of essays where this is just one episode.

She's very colorful. She's a great storyteller. It was actually a kind of measured day for her, I think, rhetorically. She gets into way more details.

PHILLIP: (INAUDIBLE) book in a way in her testimony.

NUZZI: Right, she's a storyteller. The idea that this is just -- this was a performance and this was some sort of, I don't know, aberrant behavior from her.

MILLS: But you also have to believe that the prosecution told her, here's our, our parameters, right? We're allowed to talk about this, we're not allowed to talk about that. She had to know that and be told that. And, seemingly, she went far beyond that.

NUZZI: It's a nerve-wracking experience, though.

COLWIN: Donald Trump saying, you're a liar, you're a liar, you're a liar, exactly to your point, Donte. Finally, I'm under oath. I'm going to say my story, and no one can stop me. And that's where she ended up jumping into it.

JACKSON: Two things that are very important. Number one, we prep witnesses. Whether you're the defense or the prosecution, you prep them, and it's not that it's a script, but it's pretty specific questions, and you're eliciting pretty specific testimony. That's number one.

Number two, if your witness is going left, you pull them to the center, your witness goes right, you pull them back. And so the issue here is whether or not, and why not, to your point, Abby, why didn't they pull them back? Why did they allow prosecutors, that is, the testimony to go off the rails in that way?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, can we just call it what it is? I mean, prosecutors had a tricky witness, and they kind of let her loose.

MILLS: But why would -- listen, I teach, I'm a professor of law, and I teach my students, you put your case in. It's up to the attorney on the other side to guard against that. If you believe you have a reasonable basis to ask a question, you ask the question. And if there's an objection and the judge says, sustain, then you can move on.

PHILLIP: Not if asking the question hurts your case, not the defense's.

COLWIN: At the end of the day, the prosecutor is going to say, was it worth it? Was that testimony worth it to begin? The answer is, for us out here, probably yes, because you have to say, this obviously puts everything into context. It was such an extreme issue that happened with Stormy Daniels that had to be out there. The elephant had to be called out into the room. So, this was in context.

COATES: I was a sex prosecutor. I know my daddy is watching this. But all she really said was missionary sex and a condom wasn't used. I mean, we've all heard far more salacious details.

PHILLIP: It wasn't the sex. It wasn't all of the sex. It wasn't all the sex. There were some other things, but Joey will get to us --

COATES: Yes, sorry.

PHILLIP: -- get us there a little bit later. Everyone stick around.

Trump's attorneys are pushing for a mistrial after parts of Stormy Daniels testimony today, as we've been discussing. But Judge Merchan was not pleased with the testimony, though he did not necessarily buy what the defense was saying. We'll tell you what happened after that.

COATES: Plus, breaking today, Trump's federal classified documents case is getting now an indefinite delay, potentially until, surprise, surprise, after the election.

You're watching NewsNight's special coverage of the hush money trial of Donald J. Trump.



COATES: You're watching our special live coverage of the hush money trial of Donald Trump. Trump's attorney putting forward a motion for a mistrial based on today's testimony, which the judge, Judge Merchan, denied.

Our panel is back with us. Joey, I want to get to some more of your dramatic reading, because I'm so fascinated by it, this time about Melania, because she was mentioned. She's not been in the courtroom, has not been anywhere near this courthouse at all. That may or may not be a good thing for the defense to raise later to say that it's shielding her, but tell me what happened, why she came up?

JACKSON: More salaciousness. Okay, here we go. All right, that's what I'm here for, right?

So, the prosecutor asked the following question. Let me ask you, at some point, was there a very brief discussion about his wife, Melania? Answer by Stormy Daniels, yes, very brief. Prosecutor, did this occur in the context of you viewing a picture that included his wife? Stormy, yes, he showed me a few pictures of things and I said, oh, what about your wife? Prosecutor, what did he say? Stormy Daniels, I actually said, she is very beautiful.


What about your wife? He said, oh, don't worry about that. We are -- actually, we don't even sleep in the same room. Boom.

Listen, I think it provides more context. Remember Trump has always denied that there was ever an affair, right, never happened, didn't exist, nothing to see here, and so this is more specifics. Devil always in the details, it didn't happen. Yes, it did. And here's how it went down. And so I think that sort of adds to the credibility of what she's trying to say, which is that they were together.

COLWIN: And if they have an open marriage, doesn't it sound like that's what Stormy Daniels said, my wife is not going to care, we don't even sleep together? So, at the end of the day, he's saying, I had to hide this money. I had to pay -- I had to hide -- make sure that this money was paid to Stormy Daniels.

JACKSON: Election.

COLWIN: Right.

JACKSON: Not family.

COLWIN: Exactly. But he's going to say it's family. But if he doesn't have a relationship, doesn't have a sexual relationship with his wife, then why would he care? So, that really swipes at defense.

PHILLIP: I buy that argument that there was actually some substance to this anecdote about Melania. But on the defense basically said, halfway through this, they were like, mistrial, judge, mistrial, obviously denied, but that's basically setting a predicate for appeals down the road, maybe not because of this anecdote, but there was a lot that was said.

Stormy Daniels was like gossiping with her best friends on the witness stand and they're going to take every single one of those things and say, what does this have to do with the charges at hand?

MILLS: Absolutely. And I think when you look at it, the prosecutor, their job is going to be when those appeals come up And that's why they move for a mistrial here. I don't think they thought they would get one, but, procedurally, you have to. You have to move for a mistrial because that preserves your rights onn appeal. That's why they did that here. But when it comes up on appeal, the prosecution is going to have to point specifically for each fact, how it's important to this case.

And just like you said, it's perfect. That makes sense because if he's saying, I'm doing all this to protect my wife. But you don't even care about your wife in the moment, you guys aren't sleeping in the same bedroom, it kind of makes that idea farfetched and makes it more likely he cares about the campaign as opposed to protecting his wife, who he really doesn't have a strong relationship with anyway.

COATES: But there are two different moments in time to think about, right? There's the 2006. The word affair maybe should not be used in this context, right? They're saying this was a transactional occurrence that Daniel is saying happened, Trump is saying did not happen, but that it took place in 2006.

The falsified business records, as alleged, takes place after the inauguration of Donald Trump into the White House, talking about a very big period of time. So, even him saying this, that, you know, my wife and I are in separate rooms, which I think at the time she just had a newborn, that was Barron, right? That's part of what's going on here as well, allegedly. But at that time, the motivation that would develop to falsify business records is actually more than a decade later, right?

PAUL: Yes, absolutely. I don't know. Like you were just saying, I mean, it's, you have this idea that you have to preserve the record on appeal. They had to make the mistrial motion, but at the same time, I think it was way more than that. I mean, it was the least surprising thing in this entire trial, I think, that they made this motion.

And I said, they were talking about lack of consent. They were talking about imbalance of power. There were a lot of things, particularly in light of the Weinstein reversal a week ago, of course, they were going to make this motion, and I do think there are ripe grounds for appeal. I don't know that they'll win, but it's definitely something that's a valid argument.

PHILLIP: Olivia -- yes, go ahead.

JACKSON: But -- sorry. But, Laura, to your point about the timeline, right, just hear me, if you're just talking about it, and it's a very valid point, because we're talking about an affair that's years later.

COATES: Affair.

JACKSON: Sorry, whatever it is, right? Galleons get together, interaction, whatever it is, silk satin pajamas, whatever. But in the event that he doesn't care then, did the relationship solidify such that he would care ten years later? If they had an open marriage at that point, right, is the issue, and his wife was not a big deal, she became a big deal ten years later.

In other words, the relevance of this discussion is that, what was your motivation, sir? Was it about hiding it from your wife, who sleeps in separate beds and you really -- you know, she's not going to mind that we get together, or is it about you being elevated to the presidency, because if this is outed to voters, that becomes problematic? So, that, I think, is a relevant point.

NUZZI: I do want to say, I mean, Melania Trump is a Catholic woman from Slovenia. Our modern usage of the phrase open marriage probably does not apply to their relationship, if they had some sort of understanding. If she definitely knew who she married and was okay with that, that's one thing. But I think the idea of it being an open marriage in the sort of way that we use that term now is probably not quite right.

And my understanding of Melania Trump has always been, in covering her as the First Lady, has been that what she was concerned about was being humiliated publicly. And so all of these things can be true at once. He could have been trying to shield her and trying to shield himself from scrutiny from the electorate.


If you have an angry wife who does not want to participate in your election, that's an optics issue and a political issue, just as it's an issue in your marriage.

PHILLIP: And she would push back publicly in moments like this when this stuff came up.

I want to just touch on another big thing that happened today, which is that, in Florida, the classified documents case, Judge Aileen Cannon says she doesn't think this case is going to happen anytime soon. She's got too many issues on her plate. She's got eight motions that she has yet to rule on.

We had a judge on earlier today who brought up the elephant in the room for her, which is that this is an extremely inexperienced judge who has basically left on her plate all of these issues. And now this case might not be heard until maybe after the election.

COLWIN: I mean, which is amazing, though, if you think about it. So, Abby, most of my practice is federal. These federal judges have a lot of clerks that can help her with these motions. One of those motions is actually jury instructions. Well, as a federal practitioner, all of us who practice in the courtroom, those jury instructions don't become ripe until the trial begins. And then you start to negotiate what those trial instructions are going to be.

But to have -- so, basically, you have seven substantive motions, and she has the ability to have her clerks at least help her with some of them, it seems pretty implausible.

And, of course, I mean, I hate to criticize a judge, especially one that I might appear before in that district, but there has to be -- there's some questions that need to be answered.

MILLS: Everybody all day, and I've been listening, have been talking about how this judge should be moving this along. Could it be that this judge understands if she takes that case to trial, look what Trump does it did the Judge Merchan. Maybe she doesn't want to do that. Maybe she wants to delay this and not be in the spotlight because she knows her life is going to be looked at like a (INAUDIBLE). It's not a reason. I'm thinking of why she's doing this, because, clearly, she is. She's delaying it but why.

I have a simple to why, because I think the judge clearly has a bias for Trump. He appointed that particular judge. And it seems that since the outset, she's been going -- bending over backwards to assist and help him. That's my plain and simple answer.

COATES: Things that make you go, hmm. I just say so. I don't know. Everyone, thank you so much. Stick around.

Stormy Daniels', we'll call it, vivid testimony at the heart of the hush money trial will continue on Thursday.

Next on NewsNight, we'll talk with the friend that she called that night in Lake Tahoe. I remember that testimony.

Stay with us.



PHILLIP: Today, Stormy Daniels spent quite a lot of hours recounting, with a lot of detail, how she wound up in a hotel room with the former president of the United States. That encounter is at the very heart of the Donald Trump hush money cover-up trial. But Trump, plausibly or not, has always denied that this affair ever even happened, starting back in 2016, just weeks before rumors swirled about the adult film actress shopping her story.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The stories are total fiction. There are 100 percent made-up, they never happened, they never what happened. All 100 percent totally and completely fabricated. Never met this person, these people, I don't know who they are.


COATES: Well that was just the beginning. Denial number two, four days before the election, Hope Hicks told the "Wall Street Journal" the affair was, quote, "absolutely, unequivocally, untrue". And just as news of the $130,000 payment at the core of this trial became public, Trump's then-lawyer and now potential witness, Michael Cohen, told the "Wall Street Journal" in January of 2018, quote, "President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence, as has Ms. Daniels".

PHILLIP: Two months after that, Daniels told her story to CNN's Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes".


STORMY DANIELS, PORNSTAR WHO ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: I just heard the voice, and I went, well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And you had sex with him?


COOPER: You were 27, he was 60, were you physically attracted to him?


COOPER: Not at all?


COOPER: Did you want to have sex with him?

DANIELS: No. But I didn't say no. I'm not a victim, I'm not.

COOPER: It was entirely consensual.

DANIELS: Oh, yes.


PHILLIP: Then after that, Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, inserted himself into all of this, denying Daniels' account.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS, "THIS WEEK" ANCHOR: So the president does deny any sexual relationship with Stormy Daniels?

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He has. I have not, as I said, I'm not involved in that, but the reality is he denies it.


PHILLIP: So fast forward now to January of 2023, just as Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg was asking a grand jury to hand up an indictment, Trump lashes out again, calling Daniels horseface and adding in all caps, never had an affair.

COATES: And then three weeks before he was actually charged, Trump posted on Truth Social, I never had an affair with Stormy Daniels, nor would I have wanted to have an affair with Stormy Daniels. But, you know, Trump's constant denials have been met with heavy skepticism, or as maybe Senator Mitt Romney puts it.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT); As far as I know, you don't pay someone $130,000 not to have sex with you.


PHILLIP: Our next guest is a friend and colleague of Stormy Daniels. Alana Evans says that she was almost in the room that night. In fact, she actually came up in Stormy Daniels' testimony today.


Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Daniels, did you end up calling your friend Alana from the hotel room? Stormy Daniels replied, yes. Hoffinger, did you put her on speaker? Stormy Daniels, yeah. And she said, what are you guys doing? And he said, he being Trump, we're just hanging out. Hoffinger then asked, when you called her and had her on speakerphone, did Mr. Trump ask her to come over and join you as well? Stormy Daniels, yes.

COATES: Now Evans says that Trump told her over the phone to come party, but she decided not to. Evans would eventually speak out publicly after the two initially denied the affair.

Alana Evans joins me and Abby now. Alana, I see you took a deep breath for a second before you started speaking. This must be particularly uncomfortable to be here and see this moment play out in a Manhattan courtroom.

ALANA EVANS, ADULT ACTRESS: Uncomfortable is definitely not the word that I would use. This is the first time that I have seen myself from Stormy's side being put into this equation. It's the first time that my name from her camp has been mentioned in this to see me talked about today during the testimony.

It feels so good. It is so validating. It's this whole time I've done nothing but express the truth of what happened that night and the phone calls that occurred and spending time with her and the things that were discussed and then of course the way we spoke the next day and her accounting, her details of what had happened.

I've lived that moment again and again and again. And to see it just being talked about that way during his case, it's incredibly empowering for me and I'm actually really thankful for it.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean I remember you telling me about that exact thing that was described in court today last week and you also told me about Stormy that you thought that she was strong, she was ready to take the witness stand. We didn't see her physically but we've been reading all night long about her testimony hearing from people who were inside of the courthouse and what you've seen and heard. How do you think she did today? How do you think she came across to that jury?

EVANS: Given the reports that have come out and the testimony that has been shared, it sounds to me like Stormy represented herself incredibly well. That she stood by her truth, that she shared who she is as a person, how she grew up, her life, the amazing woman that she is, shined today. And then of course when you switch sides and she's being questioned by his defense attorney and being treated as if she's not being truthful and having them behave as if there's inconsistencies in her story, I'm sure she stared right down at them and stood solid to her truth.

I don't see any consistencies beyond the fact that Stormy was literally forced to sign an NDA. And I say forced because Donald Trump is such an incredibly powerful man that when this NDA took place, when the payoff took place, I can't imagine what choice she would have had otherwise.

The power that Donald represents is the whole reason why I stayed away in the first place. The fear that I had back in 2006. And so I completely understand all of the circumstances surrounding this. I'm really proud of her.

COATES: You know, there was a pretty contentious moment in the court. You talk about the potential for her standing strong. I want to just share with you, there was an exchange between the defense counsel for Donald Trump, a woman by the name of Susan Necheles. And she asked, am I correct that you hate President Trump? To which Stormy said, yes. Necheles said, and you want him to go to jail, right? Stormy said, I want him to be held accountable. Necheles then said, you want him to go to jail. Am I correct? She responded, if he's found guilty, yes.

Now, there'll be a lot made about her motivation, whether she's biased, whether she can no longer be objected to be credible based on her feelings towards the former president of the United States. What did you think of that exchange?

EVANS: I think it's completely natural and understandable for Stormy to have the feelings towards a man that has called her horseface, that has repeatedly called her a liar about an encounter that not only is clearly true, but, you know, had violated her in quite awful ways.


She, of course, we know that she consented, but she talked today about --

COATES: I want to clarify that when you say violated. I think you're going there right now. Yeah, excuse me.

EVANS: Yes, yes. When she discussed today in her testimony about how she checked out, she blacked out from the moment that it began to the moment. In that moment, when you're a person, no matter your gender, having to check out of something that you're doing physically and sexually, it's because you're not feeling good about what you're doing. She talked about, to me, the morning after, that he chased her around the room in his underwear and during testimony talked about how he blocked a door.

While she still consented, it's clear that she didn't feel good about what was happening and didn't feel good about having to share her body in that way. And that is what I mean by violated.

PHILLIP: And do you think that that's relevant to bring up in the case? It kind of came up a little bit, but not fully. Do you think the jury should have heard about that?

EVANS: That's an interesting question. I think that the reason why it is relevant is because it really shows exactly how Stormy was feeling in the moment. But more importantly, that residual feeling that you will have in these moments that can cause this type of honest discomfort and trauma moving forward, of course, it's going to affect how she feels about the man. But again, it doesn't change the truth about what happened. It doesn't change the truth about the payoff. And it doesn't change what the outcome of this case should be. And so I don't think that her feelings about him in that way should matter.

COATES: Have you been called to testify in this case?

EVANS: I have not.

COATES: You ever received a subpoena of any kind or been speaking with the counsel on either side?

EVANS: No, no one has reached out to me. And so when I heard that I was talked about today, I was a little, not surprised, but curious now it's moving forward if I'm going to start hearing from other authorities. So we'll see what happens.

COATES: Curious as well.

PHILLIP: Alana Evans, thank you so much. Great to hear from you on a day when you were a part of the conversation today in that courthouse. I Appreciate it.

EVANS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And it was a split screen. That is, frankly, a sign of the times. You've got two candidates, one in a courtroom, the other at a somber speech on Capitol Hill. We're going to discuss with a former White House official, Jen Psaki, who's here with us next.



PHILLIP: A stunning split screen unfolded this week between a former president and a president of the United States, one at a Manhattan courthouse after a day of testimony from an adult film actress about an alleged affair, and the other, President Joe Biden on Capitol Hill, condemning a surge of anti-Semitism in the United States amid weeks of protests on college campuses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Now, here we are, not 75 years later, but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting, they're already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror. It was Hamas that brutalized Israelis. It was Hamas who took and continues to hold hostages. I have not forgotten, nor have you. And we will not forget.


PHILLIP: Joining me now to discuss these dueling images is someone who is no stranger to messaging or the White House, for that matter. Many of you at home, former White House press secretary and MSNBC host, Jen Psaki. She is also the author of this brand new book, "Say More: Lessons from Work, The White House and the World". It's available today. We get to steal you for one evening.


PHILLIP: Jen, I wanted to talk to you about that kind of split screen for a couple of reasons. One, the message in this book is about how to have difficult conversations. It feels like the country right now needs somebody to sit them down and have a tough conversation about maybe one of the biggest, historically difficult issues ever, which is Middle East peace. So is President Biden getting there? Do you see him actually doing the job the way that you think it needs to be done right now?

PSAKI: Well, another chapter I talk about in here is called "Say Less", which is the moment. And I use that example because diplomacy is very difficult to communicate about.

There are valid critiques of how it's been imperfect, in part because the situation on the ground is imperfect and incredibly challenging. The best thing that the president can do right now is get to a ceasefire deal. I know that's what John Kirby said today. That is true.

And the challenge is that you have Prime Minister Netanyahu, who, as you all know, is incentivized in some ways to continue this war, to continue it, because that's what his public wants.

And so if you're in the White House, if you're on the national security team, what you need to do is keep a lot of those negotiations and discussions quiet in order to try to make progress. They haven't made enough progress yet, no question about it, but that's what they can do. That's what you can do as president or on the national security team.


PHILLIP: Less talk, more work behind the scenes.

PSAKI: In part. Now, I do think it's important, Abby, you didn't mention the protests. I do think it's important that the president addressed it last week. I do think it's important he's going to Morehouse. I do think it's important and significant, given how close the historic relationship is, that there have been reports that I think that have now been confirmed from the White House and the administration that they have held back on weapons.

The use of leverage is important, but it's also in moments like this, the diplomacy with Tony Blinken and Bill Burns and others are doing, we're probably not going to know all about it until there's a great story, TikTok, of it that tells us everything that happened. But that's how you get to a ceasefire deal.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, Donald Trump is outside of the courthouse every day, not talking about whatever his reelection campaign is about. I mean, as a Democrat, you might be overjoyed, but as a communicator, huge missed opportunity?

PSAKI: For him not to be out of the courthouse?

PHILLIP: Not to be using this unfiltered airtime to say something other than his grievances.

PSAKI: Well, I think for him, the grievances is his message. I mean, he is speaking to the aggrieved in the country. And for the Biden campaign or for Democrats out there or for many people who may not love Joe Biden, but certainly don't like Donald Trump, it might be perplexing. How is this message working? Well, it's working in part because his message is simple. It's consistent. I think it's dark and incredibly dangerous, as do many people.

But being aggrieved and being a target and being, which is such a crazy thing to say, his perception is he's a victim of two tiered system of justice, which by the way, there is a two tiered system of justice. He is not the victim of it.

PHILLIP: He's not the poster child.

PSAKI: That's his message. He is speaking to people who feel aggrieved out there in the country. And there is a population of people who relate to that.

PHILLIP: Speaking of which, I actually want to play what Donald Trump said in an interview with WGAL today about the campus protests. And here's the analogy that he made.

Well, I'll just read it because I think we don't have it. But it says, Biden is a threat to democracy. January 6th was nothing like this. They're ripping down all the schools. They're ripping down our institutions. They're protesting all over the place and very violent too. They're protesting all over the place. This is a threat to democracy. He is a threat to democracy because he's incompetent.

PSAKI: This is a tactic out of the Kremlin playbook. It is projection. It works in authoritarian governments where leaders like Vladimir Putin, this is what we've seen over the last couple of years as it relates to Ukraine, say, I'm not going to use nuclear weapons. They're using nuclear weapons. I'm not attacking. They're attacking. This is what Trump is doing. I think anybody, even people who may find him intriguing, may consider

voting for him. No, I shouldn't say anyone because there's still a huge percentage of people who still think he won the 2020 election.

But it is factual and history tells us that he is the person who is the threat to democracy who had a role in the lead up to January 6th. I'm not talking from a legal front that can be decided by the courts. I'm talking about facts and history here.

But projection makes it confusing for the public. It makes it feel everyone is corrupt. Everyone's a threat to our democracy. That's a strategy, and it's one out of the authoritarian playbook.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, he tries to boomerang everything that's coming toward him back at other people. This book, Jen, I want you to tell us a little bit about why you felt like you needed to write this. I've known you since I was like a little baby reporter, and you were the communications director in the White House.

PSAKI: You were both babies together.

PHILLIP: And, but I loved how you talked about in all the roles that you've had, growth that you've experienced, the lessons that you've learned, which is not to say that you start off in your first job really knowing everything, but you've learned a lot along the way, and it's in here.

PSAKI: You don't, and this is a book, and when I left the White House, I had some moments to breathe, so everyone does.

And I thought a lot about all the things I wanted to tell my kids. I mean, they're a little older than your daughter, but they're six and eight now. They're not quite old enough yet. And kind of the type of book that I wish I would have had in my 20s. A lot of times, I mean, people look at you, Abby, and they think, oh, she just like came out of the earth like this.

PHILLIP: Well, none of us did, right?

PSAKI: And is the anchor of a primetime show on CNN. You didn't. You worked your tail off. You made mistakes. You learned how to talk to bosses. You learned how to give feedback. You learned how to deal with bullies and people who are being tough. Sometimes people you were interviewing. Sometimes people you're asking tough questions.

Those are the lessons that are important. I've been there for moments in history. You've covered moments in history. Some of that's in the book. Lots of stories about people know. But the mistakes, the moments I learned from, that's really what has made me who I am today.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and you've had some tough bosses, right? On tough topics to be prepared to go. Sometimes it's not the hardest part, what you say to us in the media. It's what you say in the Oval Office to the President of the United States. Those lessons, what's the secret that people don't understand about what it takes to be able to do that? [22:55:03]

PSAKI: I think a big thing took me some time to learn. Maybe you can relate to this too, is how to give feedback to tough bosses. And I talk about, not tough bosses, but any kind of boss. A President of the United States is a tough boss.

PHILLIP: Any president is a tough boss.

PSAKI: And some of it is, when I finally crossed the threshold and realized being a yes woman is not actually serving a boss. You need to figure out how to give direct and clear and straightforward advice, even when it's tough to hear. It took me some time to learn how to do that, but I talk a lot about that in the book as well.

PHILLIP: All right, Jen Psaki, great to have you here.

PSAKI: Great to be here.

PHILLIP: It's just for a little bit. Thank you for joining us tonight. You can pick up her book out right now.

And our coverage of the hush money trial of Donald Trump continues with a special edition of "Laura Coates Live", right after this.