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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Ex-Fixer Cohen Implicates Trump In Hush Money Scheme; Cohen Testifies That Trump Authorized Hush Money Payment; Cohen Says, I Would Lie And Bully People To Make Trump Happy; CNN's Post-Analysis On The 16th Day Of Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 13, 2024 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Welcome to a special edition of NewsNight, the Trump Hush Money Trial. I'm Abby Phillip in New York alongside Laura Coates here.

Five hours and eight minutes, that is how long the trial's most important witness spent on the stand today. Michael Cohen directly implicating Donald Trump, telling the jury dramatic and potentially critical facts when it comes to the prosecution's case against Trump.

The jury watched intently. Their heads were swiveling back and forth between the prosecutor and the witness as the government led Cohen through a deliberate testimony.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Cohen actually traced his evolution, if you remember, from Trump's periphery to Trump's gopher to Trump's do everything fixer. And that included the alleged hush money deal designed to silence Stormy Daniels, a deal that Cohen testified Trump ordered him to make.

The jury learned how Cohen called Trump, well, Mr. Trump, or more simply, the boss. His demeanor was measured throughout as he told the court how Trump avoided email. Too many people he said have gone down because of a paper trail Cohen recalled Trump saying.

PHILLIP: And he also painted a picture of Trump as the micromanager, doling out tasks and demanding updates or becoming frustrated when he wasn't appraised of the up to the minute progress on various issues. Cohen told the jury everything that happened around Trump required his sign off.

COATES: Tonight, we're going to take you actually inside the courtroom. We're going to page through all word for word the most tense, the most revealing, and really the most crippling testimony for the former president.

PHILLIP: And then we're going to analyze where the prosecution won today, where the government missed some opportunities to bolster its case. There's a lot ahead. So let's start with Joey Jackson reading as Michael Cohen and Mercedes Colwin as Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger. This exchange here is about the payment itself. Take it away.

MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Now, after you learned from Dylan Howard and from Keith Davidson about the Stormy Daniels story and are wanting to publish that story and the conversations about purchasing that story, did you speak to Mr. Trump?


COLWIN: Can you tell us, first of all, why did you speak to Mr. Trump about it?

JACKSON: Because it was a matter that affected him, and because that was what I always did, which was to keep him abreast of everything.

COLWIN: Was this also a serious matter at that time?

JACKSON: A very serious matter.

COLWIN: Did you tell him what you had heard from Dylan Howard and Keith Davidson?


COLWIN: And what was his reaction?

JACKSON: He was really angry with me. I thought you had this under control. I thought you took care of this. I expressed to Mr. Trump, we did 2011. I have no control over what she goes out and does. And he expressed to me there in a -- there is previous denial. Just take care of it. There was a lot going on at the campaign at the time. He was like, just take care of it.

COLWIN: Did he say anything to you at that time about how this might be viewed if it got out?


COLWIN: What did he say in substance?

JACKSON: He said to me, this is a disaster, total disaster. Women are going to hate me because this is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys may think it's cool but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.

COLWIN: What, if anything, did you understand about withdrawing? Why did you understand -- what did you understand him to mean by women will hate this and what his concern was?

JACKSON: So, at the time, Mr. Trump was polling very, very low with women and --

COLWIN: You said very well.

JACKSON: No, very poorly. I'm sorry.

COLWIN: It's all right. I couldn't hear.

JACKSON: He was polling very poorly with women and this, coupled with the previous Access Hollywood tape, he just stated this is a disaster and get control of it.

COLWIN: Did you have any conversation with him about strategy in dealing with the story?

JACKSON: I am sorry?

COLWIN: Did you have any conversation, additional conversation with Mr. Trump about a particular strategy about how to control it and how to deal with it?

JACKSON: He told me to work with David and get control over this, purchase the life rights. We need to stop this from getting out.

COLWIN: Was there any conversation about pushing it to a period of time?



COLWIN: What was that?

JACKSON: So, during the negotiation, to purchase and acquire the life rights, what he had said to me is what I want you to do is just push it out as long as you can. Just get past the election. Because if I win, it has no relevance, I will be president. If I lose, I don't even care.

COLWIN: Did you bring up at the time the topic of his wife, Melania, in one of those conversations with Mr. Trump?


COLWIN: What did you say in substance to him?

JACKSON: I said, and how are things going to go with upstairs?

COLWIN: Were you concerned about that?


COLWIN: And what, if anything, did he say to you about that?

JACKSON: Don't worry, he goes. He goes, how long do you think I will be on the market for? Not long.

COLWIN: What did you understand that to mean?

JACKSON: He wasn't thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign. COATES: Abby, they're talking Oscars over there, I'm going to tell you right now. It also illustrates the motivation for the payment, but also you have to think about the implications. Let's dive into that. Take it away, guys.

COLWIN: Can you read this email?

JACKSON: It states, Michael, I have been charged by my client with forwarding the below message. We have a written settlement agreement, which calls for settlement payment to be sent by the end of business this past Friday, October 14th, 2016. No payment was received.

We spoke on Friday, October 14th. And you stated that funds would be wired today, October 17, 2016. No funds have been received as of the sending of this email. My client informs me that she intends to cancel the settlement contract if no funds are received by 5:00 Pacific Time, PST, today, please call me if you have any questions, Keith.

COLWIN: What was happening at this time with respect to this deal?

JACKSON: My intent was to continue to delay it as per Mr. Trump's demand, and I clearly did not send funds to Mr. Davidson at the IOLA lawyer's account on this date.

COLWIN: Did there come a time after that, again, still in October of 2016, that Mr. Trump, in substance, expressed to you that he understood he could no longer delay this transaction?


COLWIN: And describe the conversation you had with him.

JACKSON: He stated to me that he had spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people, and that it's $130,000. You're like a billionaire. Just pay it. There's no reason to keep this thing out there. So, do it. And he expressed to me, just do it. Go meet up with Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out.

COLWIN: Following that conversation with Mr. Trump, did you, in fact, have some discussions with Allen Weisselberg about trying --


COLWIN: -- to figure out about how the payment would be made?


COLWIN: And what in substance did you discuss with Weisselberg and the different options?

JACKSON: Well, that I had the opening of the company all set up. Now, it just needed to be funded, to which Weisselberg turned and said, can we get AMI to pay it? I said, no, they've already expressed to me they're not paying it. They said we need to come up with a way of how to fund it. I said, we need to do it immediately. COLWIN: At some point, did you have a conversation with Mr. Trump about the fact that you were willing to pay for it, at least initially?

JACKSON: Yes, Allen and I spoke to Mr. Trump. We expressed to him that I was going to front the money for it, to which he was appreciative and good, good.

COLWIN: Did you have a sense from Mr. Trump that you would end up being out the money or you would get actually paid back?

JACKSON: He stated about it, don't worry about it. You will get the money back.

COLWIN: Would you have ever paid for the NDA for Stormy Daniels on your own without an understanding that you would get paid back?


COLWIN: Why not?

JACKSON: It's $130,000. I was doing everything that I could and more in order to protect my boss, which was something I had done for a long time. But I would not lay out $130,000 for an NDA needed by somebody else.

COATES: Well, let's bring in the rest of the panel here. I mean, that was good. That was a good rendition. It's important to do this, of course, because it is so important. You were in the courtroom, Abby.

PHILLIP: Right. I was going to say, we were both there today.

COATES: It brings it to life in a way to actually hear how it was being said. It's invaluable.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, when we chop up some of these exchanges, we miss sometimes the big picture here. Stacy, I mean, this really needed to be the prosecution's best day. It needed to be the day that they got most of what they needed to bring this case home. What did you think were their home runs today?

STACY SCHNEIDER, NEW YORK CITY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: So Michael Cohen was the linchpin of what Trump knew and what Trump directed.


And all of the other witnesses that we've heard from so far, David Pecker from the National Enquirer, Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Hope Hicks and his former assistants, that was to shore up this big day of Michael Cohn testifying because they were all giving the background details, because Michael Cohen, as everyone has been discussing this entire trial, has his credibility issues, his conviction record.

So, what they managed to accomplish today with Michael Cohn is exactly what they've been teeing up, setting up, which is Trump was in charge, Trump -- he did this at Trump's direction, he didn't go rogue and do this on his own to impress his boss. They also established again through Michael Cohen, like they did through all of the witnesses throughout, that Trump is a micromanager, the buck stops with him, he approves all the deals.

And Michael Cohen now filling in the flesh of the conversations that he had with Donald Trump about this alleged scheme shows Donald Trump's alleged motive, intent, and actual participation, because the statements come in not as hearsay from Donald Trump but actually as admissions by a party opponent.

Adam, I want to bring you in here, especially because, I mean, up until now, there have been a lot of pre-corroboration of Michael Cohen. They know very well. They had to dot their I's, cross their T's, have a paper trail in front of him before he took the stand, but he is the ultimate storyteller of the moment we're talking about.

You thought that one of the big wins today was that they finally were able, at least through his testimony, to connect Cohen to Trump, not just an intimation of something that was said, but actual instruction. Did it go far enough?

ADAM POLLOCK, FORMER NEW YORK ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: This was an important day for the prosecution. I think they connected a key point, which is they have Donald Trump directly, not one layer removed, that Donald Trump directly give with the motive why he wanted to cover up, why he wanted Stormy Daniels to be paid.

This is three quarters of the prosecution's case. But did it go far enough? They still need to land who directed that the documents be falsified. This is a documents case. They need to prove not only that documents were falsified, which we now know from the prior weeks of testimony, but that Donald Trump directed the false documents. And that's the piece we still don't have.

PHILLIP: S.E., I got to ask you a non legal question here because I know that you and I are probably going to --

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Please, I can't answer the legal ones.

PHILLIP: I know. But listening to this testimony, I was in the room as Michael Cohen is explaining Donald Trump's behavior, his pattern of operation in the Trump Organization. And, honestly, I've covered the man for a long time, but I still wonder, what was he thinking? At the end of the day, why go through all this trouble to create this elaborate scheme?

And I think that that is kind of hanging over this case that Trump chose the hard way here and created this problem for himself. And there's a lot of evidence that he really didn't have to do it this way.

CUPP: Yes. And that evidence bore out, right, when the Access Hollywood tape came out and we all -- I mean, I'll speak for myself, thought it was going to be the end. It was not the end. I think there are people that can compartmentalize this. And, you know, we heard the locker room defense of that.

So, I think, look, Donald Trump's boorishness, brashness, you could go further, was well known at the time. And I don't know if anyone else at this table has met Michael Cohen, but I've met Michael Cohen. I've been threatened personally by Michael Cohen. He is, in addition to all the other problems he has, deeply unlikable, deeply unlikable.

But I think if you don't know them, you think, well, here's one slimy, dirty guy who worked for another slimy, dirty guy, and they kind of deserved each other and worked together in tandem. And I think it's believable that this dirty guy was doing dirty stuff for this dirty guy. That's what came out today.

PHILLIP: Michael Cohen on the witness stand was not that guy who you and I know, if you've ever talked to him on the phone.

COATES: He didn't want to be perceived as that guy.

PHILLIP: He didn't want to be perceived as that guy.

COATES: He's that guy though.

COLWIN: He was cleaned up.

PHILLIP: But, I mean, I'm saying from the perspective of actually watching him and listening him on the witness stand, he really was softening himself up for the jury, making it seem -- giving them the sob story version of it. And it was, to some extent effective, and that had to have been part of the process.

COATES: I mean, essentially, as you guys know, in my mind, this was the equivalent of when you have the mugshot of the person of the day they were arrested. And then by the time you get to the trial, they've got glasses on, right? I mean, they got us suit. They got a puppy and a butterfly in their picture all of a sudden.

JACKSON: I guess I'm in the minority with this, but I like the guy. I mean, I know people are throwing things at their T.V., met him, spoke with him, had a dialogue with him.


COLWIN: I think he likes him because he played Mr. Cohen.

JACKSON: He was a good dude. Like, we just, you know, for whatever reason, I don't know, you know, he just seemed to me as a personable guy. He wasn't an idiot. It was a nice event. It was back and forth.

COATES: Joey, you might be method acting right now.

JACKSON: I really did, you know? So, there was that.

PHILLIP: It's not so much about -- look, I don't want to cast aspersions on Michael Cohen. He's a human being and he comes on the show all the time. It's really more about the person he was at that time, which he even sort of describes himself. At one point he said, oh, I was angry even for me, because he was a quick to anger kind of person. And the prosecution knew he could not be that person on the witness stand or he would lose the jury.

COLWIN: No. And he also had to admit that he lied and was a bully. He was a bully when he worked for the Trump Organization. He had to get that out in his direct because they knew the defense was certainly going to bring up his temper and his bullying and his lying and everything else, take the wind out of the sails. But to your point, really cleaning him up makes a huge difference to --

CUPP: But let's not -- I mean -- okay. Before we, you know, go on the Michael Cohen redemption tour, listen, he's still that guy and we haven't seen him being crossed by the defense. We haven't seen him defensive and put up against the wall and said, well, why'd you do that? Well, what about this? You said this earlier. Let's talk in a couple days or tomorrow, whenever the defense comes in to question him. And we'll see if he's still that guy or if Joey, you want to go out and have --

JACKSON: So, you know what it is, S.E. I think that what the prosecution has done in this case has spent a lot of time not making it about Michael Cohen as much as it's about him. How and why? We know because of how they laid out the case. He doesn't have to explain catch and kill. We had a guy by the name of Pecker explain that. He doesn't have to explain Access Hollywood and the imperative to save the campaign. And what can we do from the free for all, right? We have to get this under control, Stormy Daniels, get that story, take care of it now, so many details.

We know that he's in the Oval Office, not from him, but from him as well, because we've heard information with respect to him being there when Trump became president. We know about the numerous phone calls that were made between parties, whether it be Hope Hicks, right, the press secretary to the campaign, and then later the White House. We know about the issues involving conversations with Pecker, with Howard. Why? Not because of him. We have phone records that establish these things.

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that the prosecution has spent an inordinate amount of time in the lead up to his testimony, getting as much corroboration as possible so the jury has to believe very little from him.

Last point, and that is that we are in these trials able to make reasonable inferences and draw them from the evidence. What do you think the closing argument will be? The prosecution's closing argument will be not only did Michael Cohen tell you, and if you pause as to believing him, every reasonable inference from the facts would suggest that Donald Trump knew exactly what was going on, orchestrated it, and at the end of the day, it's a conspiracy, it's a cover up, guilty. That will be the argument.

COATES: I mean, Abby, I don't have to like him, I have to believe him.

PHILLIP: That's right, yes. And, look, he's not going to be -- Donald Trump is probably not going to be taking the stand. So, Michael Cohen's word is going to be the one that's going to be left with the jury.

Everyone stand by for us. Coming up next, more role playing from our friends here.

COATES: Oh, it's S. E. Melania? That would be great.

PHILLIP: Melania Trump makes a guest appearance. How Melania really blew up this trial in a way. Her word for word unfolding as told by Michael Cohen, alleging that it was her idea to spin the Access Hollywood tape as locker room talk.

COATES: Plus, Anthony Scaramucci joins in on the Trump entourage that tried something new inside and outside the court today. Stay with us.



COATES: Well, welcome back to our special coverage of a dramatic day in the Trump trial. I want to go back to our role playing so you get an idea of what happened in court, and, I mean, word for word. You got Joey Jackson reading Michael Cohen, you have Mercedes Colwin as the prosecutor and this exchange is Cohen admitting his past lying.

COLWIN: Did you have a way of referring to Mr. Trump when you worked for him?


COLWIN: What was that?

JACKSON: I would call him boss, Mr. Trump.

COLWIN: And in working for him for ten years, all the variety of the types of works that you did for him, what was it like for you? How did you feel about working at the Trump Organization during those years?

JACKSON: It was fantastic. It was -- working for him, especially during those ten years, was an amazing experience in many, many ways. There were great times. There were several less than great times. But for the most part, I enjoyed the responsibilities that were given to me. I enjoyed working with my colleagues at the Trump Organization, the Trump children. It was a big family.

COLWIN: During the years that you worked for him at the Trump Organization now, did you at times lie for him?


COLWIN: Why did you do that?

JACKSON: Because it's what was needed in order to accomplish a task.

COLWIN: Was there also a sense -- did you feel a sense of obligation towards him as well?


COLWIN: Did you at times during your work for the Trump Organization, at the Trump Organization for Mr. Trump, bully people for him?

JACKSON: Yes, ma'am.

COLWIN: Why did you do that?

JACKSON: Again, in order to accomplish the task. The only thing that was on my mind was to accomplish the task to make him happy.

PHILLIP: All right, so that was Michael Cohen admitting that he lied before the defense actually has a chance to call him out for it.


So, guys, let's go to the part where Cohen talks about the atmosphere around the campaign when it came to the Access Hollywood tape.

COLWIN: And what if any discussion did you remember with Mr. Trump about the Access Hollywood tape and the strategy for dealing with it?

JACKSON: He wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts with the media. We needed to put a spin on this. And the spin that he wanted to put on it was that this is locker room talk, something that Melania had recommended, or at least he told me that that's what Melania had thought it was, and use that in order to get control over the story and to minimize its impact on him and his campaign.

COLWIN: And what, if anything, did you do at that point to try to assist the campaign with that effort?

JACKSON: I reached out to members of the media.

COLWIN: In addition, when you say you reached out to the members of the media, did you have conversations with them?


COLWIN: Along the lines of the conversations, how to minimize the impact?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection, Your Honor.


COLWIN: You mentioned that you reached out to the press. Did members of the press also reach out to you?


COLWIN: And did you have conversations with the press about this matter?


COLWIN: What was your understanding about why the press reached out to you about this?

JACKSON: Well, sum and substance of the recording is quite damaging and they wanted comment.

COLWIN: And were you somebody that they fairly frequently came to and asked for comment on matters related to Mr. Trump?


PHILLIP: All right. Mercedes and Joey, come on over. We got a lot to discuss. We were just talking about the good parts for the prosecution, what was left to be sort of desired in what they got from Michael Cohen. He was in those excerpts at times, somewhat sympathetic. He explained kind of his role and all of that. But there were some material things that they had to get out of him. Were there any holes for you?

SCHNEIDER: Well, look, I think they should -- the prosecution should bang into Michael Cohen, do as much damage as they can on the prosecution side, take all the air out of the balloon for the defense before they even put him up there so that it's done within the prosecution's control. Because we know -- we absolutely know that Donald Trump's lawyers are going to come in and destroy Michael Cohen, make mincemeat out of him and his family.

You know, there have been complaints in the past before this case, when this all came to light, that Donald Trump even went after Michael Cohen's wife. And, you know, this is going to be a free for all. So, the prosecution would do a much better job if they made Trump -- I'm sorry, if they made Michael Cohen look as bad as possible on the direct examination, because they can control it and then the wind is out of the sail.

COATES: I mean, Adam, thinking about that, there's something to expressing some level of incredulity, is the word, right? To suggest that when he makes a comment, for example, and suggests, you know what, the reason I recorded the conversation between Trump and myself, which is a point that we all know about, was because I was really trying to make sure that David Pecker could believe him.

Now, you can believe that or not believe that, but you can imagine someone in the courtroom is going, what? Would it go a long way for the prosecution to have that moment of, really, Michael?

POLLOCK: A little bit. There are definitely parts today, including that part that didn't make a lot of sense. There was that. There was also the part where he said he didn't really want a job in the administration, even though everybody knew at that time, and that will definitely come back on cross-examination that he was really upset. He was devastated that he didn't get a job in the White House.

And so I think --

COATES: What impact is that though for the defense? How would they use that? POLLOCK: The defense is going to cross examine him. The defense is going to pick up parts of his stories that are inconsistent on a backdrop of he's a known liar. He admitted to being a liar, both in court and also in the past. He went to jail. They're going to pick up, they're going to cross-examine him, and they're going to come back on closing and say, he is unreliable. You cannot believe Michael Cohen.

SCHNEIDER: You know what else though? Yes, they're also going to use that one nugget. It's a gold nugget for the defense to say that Michael Cohen wants it onto this campaign. Because remember, Michael Cohen funded this deal on his own. And now Trump can distance himself from it and say, oh, if I'm such a micromanager and control freak like everybody makes me out, then why didn't I fund this deal? Michael Cohen funded it because he -- this is a theory, he wanted into my campaign and he wanted to please me and he funded this without my consent.

And everything he's told the court the courtroom on direct examination about Mr. Trump told me to do this, I did this, that's the direction of Mr. Trump, the Trump defense team can come in and say, no, Michael Cohen did this on his own because he wanted the credit.

Like Hope Hicks said, Michael Cohen always wanted the credit.

COATES: Well, he said the same thing today, right? He testified about wanting to (INAUDIBLE). But you followed him. You've covered both Trump and Cohen.



COATES: Was Cohen, according to your reporting and your experience, a puppy or a puppet?

CUPP: Today?

COATES: No, at the time.

CUPP: Oh, at the administration?

COATES: I want to focus on that moment because I think that the prosecution's got to focus not on who he is today, but who he was at the time this actually went down.

CUPP: I mean, in addition to knowing Michael Cohen, I've known a lot of people that have worked for Donald Trump before he was president. I mean, everyone in there is a puppet. Everyone in there is being used. And their families are not safe. I mean, no one is safe in Trump's orbit. And in fact, when you go to work for him, we know this now, it can end up one of a couple ways. You're probably going to be unhirable after that.

You might go to jail after that. I mean, it's not a safe space. Michael Cohen knew that. Michael Cohen acted the part at the time. He is now trying to say, well, I've changed. I've evolved. I'm hearing

people say that about him now. But Michael Cohen knew what he was doing. And to your point, if I were the prosecution, I would have said, so you lied.

How many times do you think you lied in your career for Donald Trump? How frequent was it? Why did you have to do it? Why did you feel like it was so important to lie for Trump? Why would we believe you now? Get that all done so that when the defense does it, it's, well, we heard this already.

JACKSON: Yeah, I agree with that, S.E., very much. And I think that's what we could be coming to.

COATES: And how do you rehabilitate him after that?

JACKSON: So I think what it is, it's going to be when you're going to hear the defense, it's about rap. What is that about, right? It's about revenge. It's about animus. And it's about payback. That's what the argument is going to be.

You're going to hear the defense get up there and say, listen, ladies and gentlemen, they need Michael Cohen because this is a case about records.

And the only one who gets those records and to establish that it was Donald Trump who had them falsified and was close to that is this man, Michael Cohen. You can't believe him about anything. You know why? Because he's motivated for revenge. He wanted a job in the White House. He didn't get it.

And he's lied to everybody. He locks about his wife. Davidson trying to string along this deal. He was lying to it all. And what did we see? We saw a TikTok video with him in a jail shirt. This guy is here because he wants him in jail. And the only way he gets there is if you believe him. Don't believe the hype.

And I think that's what the defense's play on in all of this information about him being a bad guy. Last, last point. To S.E.'s point is I think it's coming where they're going to. That is the prosecution let it all out at the end of the testimony to suggest he lied. He's convicted. He's a bad dude, but he's not lying now.

SCHNEIDER: But Joey, he can be rehabilitated in a very easy way. He pled guilty in federal court to two counts involving this election. One was for an excessive campaign contribution, felony count, and also an illegal campaign contribution.

And when is the one time a liar tells the truth when they're entering a guilty plea in federal court?

So you can go through all of Michael Cohen's lies, but when's the one time he was actually telling the story of what happened during that plea that he admitted to and spent and got a three-year jail sentence?

JACKSON: Liar once, liar forever. COLWIN: Yeah. That's what they're going to hear.

COATES: Don't give us Latin. That's a charge they're going to have. If you lie one time, you can discredit the whole testimony.

COLWIN: Exactly right. And that's going to be their center stone of the defense. They're going to say if you're, they're going to be instructed. That jury is going to hear if they, if someone lies once, you can discredit everything that they've testified to on the stand. It is a very powerful tool for the defense and defense lawyers always wrap their arms around that because it is so powerful to that jury.

PHILLIP: One of the things Michael Cone always says, though, to your point, Stacy, is that all of his convictions were done for one person.


PHILLIP: And that is Donald Trump.


PHILLIP: And there is a question that could be placed to the jury. I mean, does it make sense to you that the person who directed him to commit these crimes that he did time for gets to just sit there?

COLWIN: It's really, I mean, it is going to be very difficult. The jury looking at this has a lot to really work through. And I think exactly what you said, Joey, the social media posts that he had where he's talking about how much he hates Trump and then the shirt that shows Trump behind bars. That's all damning. It has to be rehabilitated. It's going to be very hard. It's going to come through redirect. We'll have to see. But that jury is going to sit there. By the way, there's two lawyers in that jury. They must be like, what kind of lawyer is this?

PHILLIP: The lawyers are very important.

COLWIN: Let's get real here. I think he's coming back.

PHILLIP: We'll get to that, too, everyone. Thank you very much. Next, we're going to have more on the Trump hush money trial.

We're going to speak with Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump insider. He will add to all the insights on today's testimony and the circus around the courthouse today. Stay with us.



PHILLIP: Who knew 100 Center Street might be the new Mar-a-Lago, except maybe a little dingier.

COATES: I mean, the courthouse is the courthouse. But tonight, there's more proof that Republicans are making a cold calculation about how to stay maybe in the good, warm graces of the presumptive Republican nominee, a.k.a. Donald Trump, a.k.a. the former president, defending himself from 34 felony charges in the state of New York.

Now, this is why simply showing up at court to the gag order bars Trump from saying anything else himself. Well, this is the way maybe they want to do it.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): What's going on inside that courtroom is a threat to American democracy, ladies and gentlemen. We cannot have a country where you get to prosecute your political opponents instead of persuading voters.


Joe Biden's entire strategy is to try to distract from inflation at home and war overseas with this sham trial.


PHILLIP: Joining us now, former White House communications director for Donald Trump, Anthony Scaramucci. So what's the motive here for the JD Vance's and the Tommy Tuberville's of the world and the Nicole Malia Takis'? Apparently, Vivek Ramaswamy will be there tomorrow. What's the calculus here to make this pilgrimage to the courthouse?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, I mean, they are making the mistake that many of us made. They're signaling to Donald Trump. It's sort of even a mimetic thing. You saw him with his hands like this. You know, he's trying to even act and speak like Trump. And so, you know, I mean, I would tell him to shave the beard, though. Trump doesn't like beard. So, J.D., if you're watching, if you really want to be as obsequious as you look, you know, you got to shave that beard because he doesn't like those beards.

But, you know, I see what's going on and he is destroying the Republican Party. So there's very few people with any backbone left in that party. And those people standing out there, they're just spineless sycophants.

They're going to say and do whatever Donald Trump wants. And they think that, you know, they're looking at these poll numbers and they're looking at Twitter, which is a closed sphere of influence, and they think President Trump has already won the election, guys. So that's why they're there.

COATES: Well, to be clear, too, what they were actually saying, this is not Joe Biden. Just to remind the American public every single time, there is the Department of Justice that's part of the executive branch, the federal government. This is a local prosecutor who has been elected. His name is Alvin Bragg. He was in the quorum. I'm going too deep, I guess, to put out the very obvious here of one sovereign is not impacting the other, but that's the talking point that you can't talk about. Of course, you're talking about the gag order.

SCARAMUCCI: But that's Trump. COATES: Go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: That's Trump's talk. I'm sorry not to interrupt you, but that's Trump's talking point. See, so they're mimetically repeating Trump's talking point back to him because he's sitting there in his underwear tonight flipping through the channels.

Of course, as he sees my face, he always gets upset. But if he's flipping through the channels, he's going to be like, yes, you're saying exactly what I say.

And so for tomorrow, I'm going to praise you and maybe give you a dog biscuit. You see what I'm saying? I just want to explain to you what they're doing because, unfortunately, guys, I've been there. OK, Michael Cohen has been there. So I can explain to you exactly what they're doing.

And I can also tell you what's going to happen to all of them. They're going to end up miserable and say, well, why did I do that? I watched other people do that. It didn't work for them.

Why did I think it was going to work for me?

COATES: Actually, Melania Trump came up a great deal today during the tour. You've actually observed the former president and the former first lady together. There was a point during testimony today where Michael Cohen recalled how Trump basically said like he could find somebody else to be married to if his marriage crumbled after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

And then the disclosure of these apparent trysts, of course, with Karen McDougal and Stormy, which he has obviously denied full- throatedly. Does this strike? Is this as credible to you to hear Donald Trump making this statement, according to Michael Cohen, that he essentially didn't care?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, it's credible that he would say things like that, whether or not that's how he felt. He probably does care, because one of the things that really bothers him is her absence. So she didn't show up on Mother's Day at Mar-a-Lago. You can see that there's a genuine strain in what's going on. And you can also see that he's, look who he's on trial for. And so, of course, she would be absent from a situation like that. I happen to like her a great deal. I think she's a very down-to-earth person.

I got along with her. I don't really like talking about her. But if you're asking me, would Trump say something like that? Yes, he would, because he's an objectifier of people. So people ask me, is Trump a racist? He's not a racist. He sees you as an object in a field of vision. So if like a KKK member, guys, they don't go over to a black car and kick the car. Trump's not a racist in that way. He'll run you over and he'll say racist things if he thinks it's going to serve his political interests. And then the flip side is he'll pardon an African-American grandmother or he'll spend time with Kanye if he thinks it serves his political interests. And so Melania is just another object in his field of vision, unfortunately. So I can see him saying that. He doesn't treat people with any level of empathy or attachment or connection.


COATES: You said touching the racism comment, (inaudible).

SCARAMUCCI: That's what the J.D. Vance's are going to find out. I'm sorry?

PHILLIP: You laid out a couple of scenarios there. Both of them sounded not so great in terms of what kind of character you think Donald Trump is. But I do want to ask you about the character that Michael Cohen painted in that courtroom. I was struck by this. I mean, after Michael Cohen lays out $130,000 for Trump, basically, to silence Stormy Daniels, he does it out of his own pocket. He takes out a home equity line of credit.

And then it's time to pay Michael Cohen back. And Michael Cohen gets his bonus slashed into a third of what it was supposed to have been. He is painting the picture of a Donald Trump who basically never wanted to pay, didn't want to pay Michael Cohen for the legal work, didn't want to pay Michael Cohen, really, for the hush money.

Donald Trump is sitting there listening to all of the dirty laundry being put out there in the court of law. What do you think is going through his mind?

SCARAMUCCI: I think he likes that sort of stuff, you know. I mean, I was definitely privy when he told people, yeah, that's the bill, but you call them and tell them we're not paying it. And I was there when he said things like, well, they'll have to hire a lawyer and it'll cost more money for the law and the legal fees and the court and all that other stuff. So, yeah, I mean, that is, it's been his M.O. You guys could bring on a legion of contractors and interior designers and you pick the trade and they'll all look at you the same way and say, yeah, no, we didn't get paid or we got paid a portion.

Or if his lawyers were going to talk to you that have already jettisoned themselves from practicing for Donald Trump, a lot of them didn't get paid. And so, you know, that's what he does. That's his M.O. He thinks that that's smart.

I know you guys think this is nuts, but when he hears testimony like that, he thinks it's smart. You remember what he said in that first debate in 2016, that I don't pay taxes, that makes me smart?

Well, I don't pay my bills. In his mind, he thinks it makes him smart. And there's, I guess the big question is, why is there still 20, 30, 40 percent of the people or some large portion of the Republican Party still tied up with this guy after everything that they see, all the facts that have unfolded here?

COATES: That's the question for the members of the Congress who are showing up. And of course, they believe full heartedly that they should support him. And then tomorrow, as Abby talked about, there's additional people who are hoping to win the veep stakes who will likely show up. Maybe that's the new barometer for one's loyalty. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you so much.

Hey, up next, a fact check of Donald Trump's Jersey Shore rally. See what we found.



PHILLIP: Now, before Donald Trump sat in the courthouse today to face his nemesis, he spent the weekend at the Jersey Shore holding a rally and telling, well, a lot of lies. CNN's Daniel Dale is with us to fact check. Daniel, you've been busy.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: I've been busy. I counted at least 26 false claims in this one rally speech. I'm going to take a deep breath. Let's try to go through them all. So Trump said Democrats rigged the 2020 election. We know that's a flat out lie. Trump said Joe Biden cheats on election. Another lie.

Trump said he's leading in, quote, "every single poll". He leads in many polls, betrayals and a whole bunch of others. Trump said he won South Carolina by 40 or 50 points. That's not true in any primary or general election. Trump said Biden-era jobs numbers are rigged. They simply are not. He claimed that inflation under Biden has been 50 percent. In fact, total inflation has been roughly 20 percent. Trump said the price of bacon under Biden is up 79 percent. It's actually about 13 percent.

Trump said New Jersey has the highest electricity cost in the country. Not even close to true. He said California gas prices had just hit $7.21 a gallon. GasBuddy tells me that just one out of 10,526 California stations was even above $7 the day he spoke. The state average was $5.26.

Trump said we have 42,000 soldiers in South Korea. It's about 28,000. He said that before he changed things himself, South Korea paid the U.S. I'm going to cough. I'm sorry. He said South Korea paid the U.S. like nothing for that military presence. It was actually paying the U.S. more than $800 million per year, roughly half the cost.

He said he built 571 miles of border wall. Federal data shows it was 458 miles. He said his ongoing criminal trial was, quote, "all done by Biden". Again, there's no evidence that Biden has had any involvement in this trial.

He said Biden indicted him. Nope. Four grand juries of ordinary citizens indicted him. He said he's been indicted more than gangster Al Capone. No, Capone had at least six indictments to Trump's four. Trump said Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg has allowed crime to go completely unchecked. That's wrong. Manhattan crime was down last year, has continued going down so far this year.

Trump said Biden's Oval Office is surrounded by fascists. Just made up. It's fiction. He spoke of NATO countries having failed to pay, quote, "bills before he came along". That's not true. NATO's guideline for countries' own defense spending does not create any bills.

He said millions of migrants from prisons and mental institutions are entering the country. That's more fiction. He said foreign leaders in Africa and Asia are emptying their prisons to send prisoners here to the U.S. as migrants on purpose. Also fiction. He spoke of how Biden- era illegal immigration will supposedly destroy Medicare and Social Security. Even anti-immigration activists acknowledge illegal immigration actually boosts those programs since many undocumented people pay taxes even though they're ineligible to receive benefits.


He said every legal scholar wanted Roe v. Wade overturned and abortion policy returned to the states. Totally wrong. Multiple legal scholars have told me personally that they had themselves wanted Roe preserved. He said every Democrat, he said for the most part, wanted Roe overturned. A complete reversal of reality. Huge majorities of Democrats supported Roe.

Trump said Democrats want to change federal law to allow the execution of babies after birth, another out-and-out fabrication. He said he will, quote, "stop Joe Biden's sinister plan to abolish the suburbs". No such plan, of course, exists. And Trump said the bleach-bit email deletion software used by Hillary Clinton's team years ago is, quote, "so expensive," it is actually free of charge.

PHILLIP: That is oldie but goodie. Daniel, take a sip of water.

DALE: I will. An entire glass of water.

PHILLIP: You know what, you said a lot of very important things, but I can't get over the price of bacon one. It's just very weird.

COATES: 79 percent will be high. Yeah. I'm just saying.

PHILLIP: All right, guys. Well, our special coverage of Trump's hush money trial continues after this. Don't go anywhere. Stay with us.