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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Donald Trump Guilty On All Counts In Historic Conviction; Donald Trump Becomes America's First Felon Ex-President; Trump On Guilty Verdict, The Real Verdict Is In November; Abby Phillip Talks Politics With Political Experts. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 22:00   ET



JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Kaitlan, there's one name I haven't been able to shake all day. Silvio Berlusconi, right? Silvio Berlusconi, who was the former prime minister of Italy, who was convicted in 2011 of tax fraud charges, he had been there for nine years. Unlike Donald Trump, he was, you know, a big billionaire. He had sex scandals. He was in the middle of, you know, the bunga bunga. You know, he had all the things that kind of make up the Donald Trump moment.

But what he did though that we all have to wrestle with is that he ushered in the far right wing into the mainstream of Italian life and I think we're going to suffer, regardless of what happens to Trump, we will suffer the far right wing in our lives.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Jamal Simmons, Ana Navarro, thank you, great to have you. We're out of time. Thank you for joining us on this historic night.

The news continues with Abby Phillip on NewsNight.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Guilty on all counts. Good evening, I'm Abby Phillip in New York for a special edition of NewsNight.

In just moments, I'll sit down one-on-one with a Trump relative, and a man who may be Trump's pick for vice president.

But, first, tonight, strangers in a jury box, 12 Manhattanites came to a unanimous decision to convict the former president of the United States of crimes, 34 times. These 12 people, unknown to each other before April 22nd, were asked to reach a conclusion about Donald Trump's guilt. 34 times they agreed. 34 times they said Trump broke the law and that he used a paper trail to conceal a scheme to improperly influence the outcome of the 2016 election. And 34 times they chose to believe Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen. 34 times they declared the defense did not establish reasonable doubt.

The 12 people whose names we'll likely soon know and whose perspective we may well hear earned the thanks of the judge. Those 12, according to the D.A., Alvin Bragg, now also deserve the thanks of a nation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I did my job. Our job is to follow the facts and the law without fear or favor, and that's exactly what we did here.

I did my job. We did our job. Many voices out there, the only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.


PHILLIP: Those 12 people authored history, the first draft of which we are seeing on the covers of the magazines and the bold red headlines across the internet. On TIME Magazine, a gavel falling above an orange caricature of Trump, on The New Yorker, handcuffs draped over Trump's wrists, on the Drudge Report, one word, guilty, copied and pasted over and over.

Now, tonight, sources are telling CNN that Trump is in good spirits and ready to fight. But judge his mood by the company he likes to keep. And there is an apocalyptic talk that is running rampant right now. Congressional ally Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeting an inverted American flag. His son, Donald Trump Jr., writing, Democrats have succeeded in their years-long attempt to turn America into a third world shithole. Trump, again this evening, painting the 2024 election as the final battle.

Exiting court, he injected familiar fictions into the narrative as well.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This was a rigged, disgraceful trial. The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people. And they know what happened here, and everybody knows what happened here. You have a Soros-backed D.A., and the whole thing -- we didn't do a thing wrong. I'm a very innocent man.


PHILLIP: Joining me now is Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump. She is also the host of Nerd Avengers on Mary, thank you for joining us tonight. What do you think your uncle is thinking tonight?

MARY TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S NIECE: He's probably doing his best not to think about anything, quite honestly, but I think even he cannot deny as much as he'd like to that today he was convicted on 34 felony counts and that he is indeed a convicted felon and he's going to have to grapple with the fallout of that.

However, having said that, I think the recognition of that won't last very long. We seem to be in a very similar situation to the one we were in after the 2020 election. Privately, he was able to concede that he had lost, but very quickly after that, the humiliation sort of overwhelmed him. And we ended up with the big lie which led to Stop the Steal, which led to the insurrection. So, unfortunately, I do think we need to be braced for a pivot to his attempts, at least, to create another alternate reality in which he can protect himself from what is unquestionably a devastating loss in court today.


PHILLIP: The sources that CNN has spoken to have said that Trump is in good spirits, and I leave it to you to decide whether or not that is true, but you may have seen this video of him earlier emerging from the courtroom, walking over to reporters who were standing in front for him to then give a very defiant response to the verdict that had just been read. I wonder, having seen him today, what do you make of his demeanor, the way he carried himself, the look on his face? I mean, you know him very well at this point.

M. TRUMP: Yes. He doesn't look defiant to me. He looks defeated. And what he said to reporters outside of the courtroom after the verdict is a version of what he's been saying dozens and dozens of times over the course of the last many months. It's rigged. It's a hoax. It's whatever. And that's what he needs to say. And when he talks like that, he's trying to convince himself as much as he's trying to convince anybody in his base who still needs to be convinced.

So, I don't honestly think that his statement was convincing. I don't think he even believed what he was saying, but he has no choice because he's incapable of accepting what happened, and he's certainly incapable of admitting that he'd done anything wrong. So, that's just going to complicate things for him going forward.

PHILLIP: What do you think that Donald Trump's parents would think of the legal predicament that he is now in, that he has now become both the president of the United States and also a convicted felon?

M. TRUMP: Yes. I think they'd be surprised, quite frankly, by the -- he's having ascended to the White House, because everybody was surprised by that. And it just didn't seem to be in the cards. Like that was not something that he was raised to aspire to. It certainly was something that he'd never given an indication that he would take seriously.

But as for the convictions, I don't think my grandmother would be surprised. My grandfather, on the other hand, would do exactly what Donald does. He would blame everybody else. He would counsel Donald to take no responsibility because my grandfather is the man Donald learned those things from. It's never your fault. It's always somebody else's fault. And, quite frankly, I think, in some ways, that has served as a prophylactic against accountability. But that will only take him so far. You know, he's had this aura of invincibility and impunity for decades now. But, clearly, he's at the end of that road, and he is finally being held accountable, thankfully.

PHILLIP: Speaking of, you know, more from the family tree, your cousin, Donald Trump Jr., he called the United States basically a third world country. Right wing commentators, they have all been -- you know, many of them raising the specter of violence. You said earlier, this is like a moment that we've seen before in the past, but what are you most worried that this could all lead to?

M. TRUMP: I said this in 2020 before the election that because we know that Donald was already saying that he wasn't going to accept the results unless he won. He was already saying that it was rigged in case that he lost. So, we are in similar territory except, of course, things are worse and more dangerous than they were four years ago.

And we saw this yesterday. Michael Fanone, Capitol Police officer, who laid his life on the line to protect the Capitol, to protect all of the people in that building, and to protect American democracy, went to the courthouse in New York City and he spoke his mind. Not long after that, his mother's house was swatted.

So, Donald has long been engaging in stochastic terrorism. He uses his power, his platform and his influence to get his followers to commit acts of violence on his behalf. That's something we desperately need to look out for. There is nothing this man will not stoop to. If he feels like he's going down, he will absolutely take the rest of us with him. That was true four years ago. It's even more true now. It's especially true now that he has finally face justice.


And for anybody on the right to say anything like Donnie said is just despicable and that, quite honestly, is one of the most troubling things about the way this trial has unfolded. Not just Donald, but every single Republican who stood up for him, including many, many members of Congress, have come to New York City, not to support him, but to undermine the rule of law, which is one of the cornerstones of American democracy, and it's really dangerous.

PHILLIP: And quickly, before you go, do you think he should go to jail?

M. TRUMP: I absolutely think he should go to jail. And that's not just based on the findings here of being guilty but because of his egregious behavior during the course of this trial.

PHILLIP: All right. Mary Trump, thank you very much for all of that.

M. TRUMP: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And for more on this historic night, I want to bring in former counsel to President Trump during the first impeachment, Robert Ray, former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman, New York Magazine's Washington Correspondent Olivia Nuzzi, CNN Contributor Leah Wright Rigueur, Republican Strategist Joe Pinion and Democratic Strategist Kaivan Shroff.

Hello, everyone. I'm going to go to Nick first because Nick is -- you have the distinction of being probably the most optimistic lawyer that I have talked to about this case from the very beginning.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: From the beginning, and I was right. PHILLIP: Okay. I'm going to give you an opportunity to gloat tonight. You know, seeing a guilty verdict on all 34 counts after 12 hours of deliberation, what do you think happened here?

AKERMAN: I think what happened was that he fell under the weight of the evidence. He had no evidence, he had no theory of his case. His lawyers kind of gave sort of just general sort of throwing things at Michael Cohen, coming up with generalities about the entire case itself.

The problem was that once the prosecutor got up and went through the evidence and went right to those two exhibits that were the handwriting of Weisselberg and McConney that showed how the reimbursement to Cohen was included in those $35,000 payments that added up to $420,000, the whole thing was over because that showed exactly what happened. He went through all of the rest of the facts, all of the other witnesses, did it in a very methodical way, did it organized chronological. The defense really just was scattergun all over the place. They threw things out. It sounded good, but it just got blown away by the evidence.

And then on top of it all, the argument being that Michael Cohen is a liar, they absolutely blew that away when they called on Costello, on Robert Costello to the stand. And it turned out that he wound up being a double agent, as they said in the summation, and showed that he was actually a conduit to Donald Trump through Rudy Giuliani.

PHILLIP: So, Robert, I mean, I think Nick is raising Trump's legal defense, which, I mean, he's got actually quite fine lawyers on this legal team, but they made a lot of decisions that a lot left people scratching their heads tonight when Todd Blanche was speaking with Kaitlan Collins in the last hour said they're going to appeal, obviously, but that one of the things that they might appeal on is Stormy Daniels testimony. Do you think that that's one of their best shots? Are there other things that you see where they could?

ROBERT RAY, FORMER COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP DURING THE FIRST IMPEACHMENT: I don't really think that's one of their best shots. I think their best shots are questions of law. You know, it's very difficult to get behind and attack a jury's verdict on appeal if you're talking about the facts. Why? Because the final arbiter of the facts is the jury, and that includes not just at trial before a judge but also on appeal. It doesn't matter where you go. You know, facts are determined by a jury.

The better arguments are legal ones. I know it's somewhat technical now and I don't want to detract from the gloating party here. Is that the greatest liar of all time party or is that just a real gloat? Anyway --

PHILLIP: I didn't mean to invoke that.

RAY: Yes. But, anyway, the point being, you know, an appeal process, just so that nobody has unrealistic expectations about when this is all going to be decided, the appeal process is going to take at least a year to play out. It will likely extend no matter what happens here well beyond the election. So, I think I know obviously, I think, the election may supersede events in terms of, you know, how we view this case. I understand how people want to view it right now. The former president is a convicted felon in the eyes of many, there are 34 counts. But the best arguments on appeal are going to be, frankly, I think this case was lost at the point at which I understood what the jury instructions were.

I don't know about the Mother Teresa argument about whether Mother Teresa would have been able to survive to an acquittal in this case, but the jury instructions, I think, in the eyes of many, particularly with regard to the unlawful means where it didn't require unanimity, I think the Court of Appeals of the State of New York may have something to say about that.


And if they don't, I think a federal court will. But that's going to take a long time before that plays out.

PHILLIP: So, speaking of gloating, I know you've been spending a little bit of time with our friend, Michael Cohen, this was really a verdict that also said, the jury believed Michael Cohen to a degree.

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Yes. But they didn't just need to believe him. They also believed David Pecker. They also presumably believed Hope Hicks. Most of the people who were called as witnesses told a similar story about Donald Trump and who he was. There was not really a lot of daylight between these different testimonies.

So, I think, I'm sure everyone would have blamed Michael Cohen who wanted to see a Trump conviction if that did not happen. And maybe some people view him as a hero now. But I don't think that it's the case that this was all about Michael Cohen. I think everyone told a kind of coherent story about who Donald Trump is.

PHILLIP: And on the history of all of this, Leah, I mean, this is a moment for this country and not in a good way. I don't think -- I mean, I'm sure there are people celebrating, but a former president being convicted of felonies is -- it's a black mark, honestly, on the country.

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, and it's a black mark on, I think, the larger idea of democracy and how fragile democracy is in this country. I mean, this is a historic moment. It is a moment that the founders actually didn't envision. They didn't have a plan for it because no one thought that we would get to the point where a former president of the United States might be convicted.

The closest, and Nick may have something to say on this as well, might be Watergate and with Richard Nixon, but there was a resignation before we could even get to that point. We've had convicted felons that have run for the presidency, but have never been elected. That's Eugene Debs for anyone who's interested.

But I think what we have to remember here is that, indeed, it is a dark day for the democratic process, or at least the reminder that democracy is deeply fragile. And I would point in many ways to the kind of rhetoric that is surrounding the decision. This was an immediate attempt by the Trump campaign to use this as a fundraiser, right? Trump is marketing himself as a political prisoner.

But on the other hand, I do think that there is a bright spot in this, and the bright spot in all of this is that it was a jury decision, and it wasn't about the judge. It wasn't about Trump. And, ultimately, it was about those 12 jurors in a room and looking at the evidence and making a decision based on that, and a criminal justice system that has consistently shown itself to be flawed and biased against particular people in this country. It is a reminder that you can have all the money in the world, all the power in the world, and still there can be a level of accountability.

PHILLIP: We have a lot more to discuss. And, Joe and Kaivan, stand by for us.

Up next for us, one of Donald Trump's potential V.P. picks will react to all of this as well. Senator Tim Scott will join me live.

Plus, I'll also speak with Stormy Daniels' friend and her fellow adult film actress about the woman at the center of all of this.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: Much more on our breaking news tonight, former President Donald Trump found guilty on all 34 counts in the criminal hush money trial here in New York.

Joining me now is Republican senator from South Carolina and a possible vice presidential pick for Trump, Tim Scott. Senator Scott, thank you very much for being here.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Certainly. Good to be with you.

PHILLIP: Now, Senator, the president's son calls this country a third world shithole because he doesn't like the verdict. Is that what you'd call this decision by 12 Americans, just like you or me?

SCOTT: No, I'd call -- without any question, Abby, this is the weaponization of the justice system against their political opponent. This is a justice system that hunts Republicans while protecting Democrats. This was certainly a hoax, a sham. This was devastating for the average American watching.

It's one of the reasons why Americans, and frankly, even some of your viewers are going to to actually invest in the future of this country and to protect our American legal system against this kind of travesty of justice. It is a hard day for the American people, and, frankly -- PHILLIP: Senator, what evidence do you have that the justice system, that's a pretty broad assertion, the justice system is hunting Americans? What evidence is there of that?

SCOTT: Hunting -- very clearly, hunting Republicans, not just everyday Americans but conservative Americans.

PHILLIP: Okay. So, what's the evidence of that?

SCOTT: Let me give you example one is when you see a SWAT team come into a pro-life activist's home with their weapons drawn. That one situation actually echoed throughout this entire nation. And we saw person after person saying, wait a second, you mean a person in their own home, not committing a crime, just trying to serve breakfast, finds himself with guns drawn on them? You're talking about calling the naming parents (ph) -- you asked me to give you examples. I'm giving you these examples.

PHILLIP: So, I hear, I hear that example, but I just want to follow up here because this is about President Trump being --

SCOTT: Can you give me a second example?

PHILLIP: Well, let me just ask you, this is about President Trump on trial --

SCOTT: You don't really want examples because this is pervasive through our system.

PHILLIP: Look, you're using Donald Trump as an example of how the -- he is a case study in how the, quote/unquote, justice system is going after Republicans. But in this particular case, he was tried, just like any other person, for an allegation and a jury, not a judge, not a prosecutor, not Joe Biden, not the attorney general, a jury of 12 Americans found him to be guilty.


So, how is that the justice system not working the way it's supposed to?

SCOTT: Well, Abby, I appreciate your tone and your tenor. The problem is, of course, that when you have a jury made up of 96 percent of Manhattan are Democrats, they've already said most of them don't like Donald Trump. So, when you find yourself in a justice system, where the jury aren't people of -- that are actually objective and open minded, but people who've made up their decisions before the case starts.

PHILLIP: They just happen to live in New York, which is where the crime was allegedly committed.

SCOTT: They question the results. They question the results of the justice system. Everyday Americans all across this country, even the never Trumpers are now calling and joining the team, donors who sat on the sideline are now joining the team because November 5th is a day of reckoning and America will be spoken, will be heard. Our voices will be heard loud and clear. And I can guarantee you that the American people, we, the people, will be on the side of Donald Trump. November 5th is a day of reckoning.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about this comment from a prominent Republican commentator, Sean Davis, he wrote this after the jury convicted Trump. Quote, in 2016, the presidential race was decided based on candidates releasing lists of potential Supreme Court nominees. In 2024, I want to see lists of which Democratic officials are going to be put in prison.

Are you willing to say that this is something, that idea of drawing up lists of potential enemies for a future Trump administration, that's something that you would not support?

SCOTT: Abby, it's clear, vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. We'll leave that there. The best way of making this world even is success is the best revenge. Let's win. Let's win and let's govern objectively. Let's show the American people that choosing Donald Trump is your next president will present a few outcomes without question, number one, a secure border, number two, the economy with low inflation, number three, a justice system with Lady Justice wearing a blindfold, and number four, eliminating the rampant violence running through the city of New York and through big blue cities.

If we can have four more years under Donald Trump of low inflation, a secure border, peace and security and frankly, prosperity for the poorest Americans, that kind of success will breed even more success and we will find our nation coming together, united. That's the goal, the mission and the vision of the GOP.

PHILLIP: When former President Trump says that if. If he is elected president, he would appoint a special prosecutor to, quote, go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family, are you saying that that is not something that you would support?

SCOTT: I'm simply saying that President Trump has said it himself. The best revenge is success.

PHILLIP: Actually, Senator, I have to correct you on that because he's explicitly said --

SCOTT: No, you can't (INAUDIBLE), Abby.

PHILLIP: I'm looking at the notes right here. He has explicitly said that they did it. He said, OK, Senator, he said it publicly. They did it to me. So we have to do it to them.

SCOTT: I'm happy to debate.

PHILLIP: He said they did it to me. So they have to do it to them. Do you support that?

SCOTT: Abby, I know you are -- this is why the ratings on CNN are so low. The bottom line is simply this, without question, President Trump has looked me in my eyes and a room full of other folks and said, you know what, the best revenge is success. Let's not make this about just Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Senator, he may have said that to you in a private room, but he has said it to thousands of his supporters that he plans to go after his political enemies. I don't understand how you can deny that he has said that publicly. It's in the public record.

SCOTT: I don't know how you will not take my own word for what I heard with my own either.

PHILLIP: I just -- only because he said it the exact opposite.

SCOTT: I hear you.

PHILLIP: He said the exact opposite publicly for millions of people to see on television. He has tweeted it. He said it on the radio. He has said they got after me, so I going to go after them. If you can just answer the question, if he said that, would you support that?

SCOTT: I have answered the question. You don't like my answer, but I've already answered the question.

But here's the bottom line is this. I'm not sitting here to debate you about what you heard Donald Trump say versus what I heard Donald Trump say.


Here's what I can tell you. What's not debatable is the fact that African-American unemployment hit the lowest level in the history of the country under Donald Trump. What's not debatable is that HBCU saw the greatest funding increase under Donald Trump and made it permanent.

What is not debatable is that our borders were more secure under Donald Trump than the 10 million illegal immigrant invasion that we've seen under Joe Biden. What is completely not debatable is that African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, women, and the majority population are all flocking towards Donald Trump. Why? Two big reasons -- jobs and justice. This two-tiered justice system is driving more voters towards Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: So, Senator, you --

SCOTT: This is not debatable. These are simple facts.

PHILLIP: You have said that the Department of Justice --

SCOTT: And we can talk about all the other issues you want to, but these are the issues that the American people are looking at in order to make their decision in November.

PHILLIP: Senator, you have that the justice system is hunting Republicans.


PHILLIP: Bob Menendez is right now, as we speak, on trial in New York. The Democratic Party's, you know, own senator is being tried by the Democratic President's Justice Department. The President's own son is about to stand trial, as well. Henry Cuellar, another Democrat -- he was also charged. How do you explain that if this is somehow a system that only targets Republicans?

SCOTT: I have not heard you talk about a single conviction whatsoever, but what we can say is that the treatment of Republicans and conservatives, we know without question the financial footprint under the Department of Treasury has used key words to point out when conservatives are transacting business.

We know that because I'm the leading Republican on the Banking Committee and we've seen it, we've exposed it. And so, what we're seeing in this administration, without question, from a financial perspective, we saw it under President Obama when the IRS actually targeted conservative organizations, religious organizations, for what purpose? To weaponize the institutions of power against political opponents.

This is not a new game plan. This is reverting back to an old game plan. And so, I'm telling every single person who will listen that, yes, you will have a chance to be heard and to be seen. That day is November the 5th.

PHILLIP: Senator Tim Scott, we appreciate your time. Thank you for joining us tonight.

SCOTT: Yes, Ma'am. See you next time.

PHILLIP: And my panel is back with me. Joe, Kaivan, over to you. Your reaction to that?

KAIVAN SHROFF, FORMER DIGITAL ORGANIZER: Yeah. You know, Abby, you're incredibly kind not to comment, but for him to make this about your tone and tenor was sexist and disgusting. And speaking of sexism, if there's one person I'm thinking of tonight, when we hear this verdict, it's my former boss, Hillary Clinton, who warned us over and over again, who was treated like she was the criminal in 2016, when Donald Trump at that time was engaged in this felonious scheme. And I think the history books need to note that. Absolutely. That is so important.

PHILLIP: I just want to play a little bit of Hillary Clinton. We actually -- apparently she was out doing something tonight and she sort of responded to this. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you so much. Anything going on today?


PHILLIP: I mean, Joe, Hillary, Donald Trump, by the way, I mean, it should be noted, chanted, lock her up for years and years. I mean, he still does actually. Now, he's the one with a criminal conviction. He also has several other trials pending. It seems though, based on what the Senator was saying there, Republicans right now, every time that the outcome is not what they want, it's always rigged. Why is that?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, respectfully, I think it's a, that's a broad characterization that undermines our ability to have a very nuanced conversation about a day that will be left as a searing scarlet letter on this nation until this nation ends, which at this rate could be very, very soon. And they take no pleasure in saying that.

When you look at what has transpired today, you have 12 individuals that did their level best to arrive at a verdict. You have to trust that they did what they thought was in the interest of justice, but the justice system, according to many people across the political spectrum, attorneys have said that there were things done by this judge that left them scratching their head.

They did not believe was in the best tradition of that bench, that there were things done by these prosecutors that they did not believe was in the best tradition of prosecutors. And so, we're here now trying to digest what has happened here in this country. There are plenty of lawyers that can talk about the legal matter. We're here, at least in my capacity to talk about the politics of it. And the politics to me are you have Americans now who realize that they have a President that was not treated fairly.


I think the poll numbers have shown that. I think that there are a few things that are going to happen. Number one, Judge Merchan has successfully united the Republican party when you have Mike Lawler and Marjorie Taylor Greene rowing in the same direction. Clearly, there are people who are reasonable, who believe that this is not something that is working out very well for the country.

SHROFF: And I'm sure Mike Lawler appreciates being in the same sentence as Marjorie Taylor Greene on that. And you must be outraged by Aileen Cannon

PINION: And you must not -- well, first of all, I didn't interrupt you. So, please don't --

SHROFF: --on this delusional monologue.

PINION: It's not a delusional monologue, but I get it. Again, this comes back to the point of disrespect. We had the governor of the state of New York who came on this network and called half of her constituents that she swore an oath to uphold clowns. You have just called me delusional. This is what I look at.

PHILLIP: Look, look, Joe, I am going to interrupt. It is my show. I think I can do that just to move the conversation forward. I mean, this idea that actually Senator Scott, I didn't get a chance to ask him about this. He's suggested that this is going to bring black voters. He actually alluded to this black and Hispanic voters into the Republican Party.

This idea that Trump is now wrongfully convicted as a felon. Where does that come in? I mean, in what world are minority voters looking to elect a felon?

PINION: Leaving the Democratic Party in droves, according to the polling across the board from Harry Enten to many experts, because of Donald Trump being convicted. Black people are leaving because their interests have not been served well by the party. That is their opinion. That is what the crosstabs of the data says.

And so, yes, I believe Democrats are going to talk about January 6th. They have the headline they want on the newspapers. They have the cron they want, MSNBC. They're having a great big old party over there. But in the end, I think you're going to continue to see these problems.

You're going to see the Dow tomorrow taking a nosedive because people realize that perhaps America is not necessarily the safest place for the money, as they believe. And I think you're going to see places like Virginia and Missouri and also potentially even places like Minnesota, where people are slowly but surely going in the other direction that defies logic.

PHILLIP: Leah, is it the right decision for President Biden? It sounds like he's not going to address this in some kind of formal remarks. Is that the right call here?

RIGUEUR: I actually think it is the right call here because it is such a divisive and such a hot topic, right? On the one hand, and I think in some ways it's a political wash unless we are looking at people who are swing voters or independent voters, because that's where the meat is going to happen. That's where the 2024 election is going to be won at the margins, all right? These people.

And so, for Biden, I think it's looking at a situation that he does not want to be directly connected to, although he wants to benefit from him. So, in the interest of being able to do those things, to be able to walk and chew gum or to have his cake and eat it, too.

The best thing to do is simply remain silent and allow the surrogates around you to take that -- to take that to task while also building up this argument around January 6th and Trump's fitness for office. And I got to say, Tim Scott is not helping the former President of the United States in his argument.

NUZZI: Yeah, could I just say --


NUZZI: I don't think we talked enough about how completely absurd that interview with Tim Scott was, not on your part, on his part. We have a United States Senator completely humiliating himself so that he can potentially be Donald Trump's V.P. pick.

Donald Trump has taken over the Republican Party so completely that you have someone debasing themselves on national television, trying to disrespect you for asking totally legitimate questions about consensus reality, whereas he is in a completely different reality where it's, you know, are you going to believe what he's telling you or what we all can see and hear with our own eyes?

UNKNOWN: I have an answer to the retribution argument.

PHILLIP: We'll be back in just a moment. Everybody stand by for us. We'll be back. Next, we'll get a reaction to this verdict from Stormy Daniels's friend, Alana Evans. She was mentioned in Stormy Daniels's testimony in court. And later, we're going to speak with Stephanie Winston Wilkoff, a former long-time advisor to Melania Trump.



PHILLIP: We're back now with more on this historic conviction of Donald Trump. My next guest was mentioned multiple times in this trial. She is a friend and a colleague of Stormy Daniels'. Alana Evans says that she was almost in that room in 2016 and says that Trump told her over the phone to come party. Evans decided ultimately not to and would eventually speak out publicly after the two initially denied that affair. Alana Evans joins me now. Alana, good to see you. Thank you for coming back to the show. First, I want to get your reaction to this 34-count unanimous guilty verdict.

ALANA EVANS, ADULT ACTRESS, VICE PRESIDENT OF ADULT PERFORMANCE ARTISTS' GUILD: Thank you for having me again, Abby. It's great to see you, especially under these incredible terms. I -- I have been thinking a lot about this and I don't really think excited is the right word, although of course my heart is pounding and I feel so much relief.

But really, I am so pleased that the jurors saw the truth, that things are going to move forward. I will see what happens with it, but I'm really happy simply because it meant that at the end of the day, it really is an adult film star who is stepping forward and being the person to put that man to the truth.


PHILLIP: You and Stormy have been attacked throughout this a deal, called everything from liars to much, much worse. This verdict was ultimately about business records, right? And not whether or not this encounter happened. However, do you think that the jury's verdict vindicates you, vindicates Stormy?

EVANS: It absolutely does. You have a jury of 12 of what is considered to be his peers making the decision that, while many people have tried to say that we're incredulous, that, we're liars, as you just mentioned, we were deemed credible. And it's -- it's heartwarming in that way because so many people judge us for who we are, our backgrounds.

It's something that's thrown in our faces again and again, regardless of why we joined the adult industry. It is into reflection of who we are as people or the fact that we can be honest about something that we experienced. And so, I absolutely feel vindicated -- vindicated, excuse me. I'm sure that Stormy does, as well. And honestly, it's a joyous day.

PHILLIP: All right. Alana Evans, thank you very much as always.

EVANS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And back with our panel here, Robert and Nick, this is going to go into the next phase of this. Robert, I'll get your take first. Sentencing, uh, the judge has a choice. Actually, the prosecution has a choice as well about what they're going to ask for. What do you think is the most likely scenario?

Ordinarily, you would expect in a case like this, it's hard to say that in one sentence, cause I don't think there really has ever been a case like this.


RAY: But you would not expect the prosecution to be asking for a sentence of imprisonment. Now, in the political environment we're in, I don't know whether I can trust that that's going to be the outcome here, and I frankly don't know what Judge Merchan will do if the prosecution either recommends or doesn't recommend a sentence of imprisonment.

What I will say is that if one is imposed, I would hope that the justice system is called to a halt and a stay is issued pending an appeal. I can't imagine why there would be any reason while an appeal is pending for Donald Trump to be serving any time in prison.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And Nick?

AKERMAN: I totally disagree. I think that --

PHILLIP: Shockingly.

AKERMAN: Yes. I think in this situation, there's absolutely going to be a recommendation for a sentence of imprisonment.

PHILLIP: You think so?

AKERMAN: And I think --

RAY: That is nuts.

AKERMAN: -- that the judges are going to impose a sentence of imprisonment.

RAY: That's also nuts.

AKERMAN: So, you've got, wait, just let me finish. First of all, you've got Michael Cohen who went to prison for three years for this same crime.


AKERMAN: You've also got Weisselberg -- Allen Weisselberg, who is one of the architects behind this whole thing, who also has been in prison. He's -- he was actually sent to prison by Judge Merchan for his first service of imprisonment at Rikers. He's now at Rikers. I think it's going to be very difficult for the judge to justify not giving him a --

PHILLIP: A former President in the seventies, a first-time non-violent offense?

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: That's been -- that's been the argument.

AKERMAN: Yeah, except the seriousness of the crime.

RAY: In the middle of a presidential campaign. Good luck with that. That is not going to happen.

PHILLIP: Judge Merchan, by the way, said to Donald Trump, I do not want to put you in jail over his gag order violation. He said that.

AKERMAN: That is a completely different story. That was a gag order. Judge Merchan was not going to do anything with him until 12 people decided that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If he violates that gag order now, I guarantee you that judge Mechan is not going to think twice about putting him in jail.

PHILLIP: A quick last word.

PINION: I think he is most likely going to try to impose jail time. I think Alvin Bragg is most certainly going to ask for jail time. I think that he'll probably get remanded on the 11th. Just my thought process. We had Elie Honig earlier on this network who was succinct, but also quite comprehensive. Most E- felonies do not result in jail time. This will not be one of those cases.

Most of the time you get a stay pending appeal. I do not believe that will be the case. Democrats have wanted from the very beginning to have an empty podium at the RNC convention. I think they might actually get it. And in the process, we're going to raise a lot of money.

RAY: And if that happens, there will be hell to pay in this country. I'm telling you now, if you think that this thing is ugly now, wait until that happens. If that happens, there's going to be a real problem.

PHILLIP: All right, all right, my friends. We will. We will.

WRIGHT RIGUEUR: We shall see.

PHILLIP: We shall see. I just want to make one note. I mean, on the sentencing, it is happening just a couple of days before the RNC. But that's actually because the Trump lawyers asked for that timing because guess what? They've got a bunch of other cases involving Donald Trump that they've got to litigate in the meantime. Everyone, thank you very much. We've got one of Melania Trump's former

aides, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. She's going to join us next.


Stay with us.


PHILLIP: Tonight, new reporting tonight about the whereabouts of two Trump family members. Sources tell CNN that Melania Trump, the former First Lady and her son, Barron, are in New York. Joining me now is Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former long-time advisor to Melania Trump. Stephanie, good to see you tonight. You know this couple very well. What do you think is happening behind closed doors now that Trump has actually been convicted?

STEPHANIE WINSTON WOLKOFF, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO FIRST LADY MELANIA TRUMP: I think that the family is speaking, you know, very clearly and vocally to Donald, as Melania always does, as I used to witness.


And I think she's telling him exactly how she feels. And I think that she is probably putting a mirror up to him to show him that his brazen attempts of trying to subvert our democracy and his attempt to hush, you know, everyone into believing that he did or did not sleep with Stormy Daniels has nothing to do with the fact that this was about election interference.

PHILLIP: So, this episode with Stormy Daniels is something I think that was pretty painful to Melania. She was at home with their young son, Barron, at the time. What do you think is going through her mind that it has all led up to this?

WINSTON WOLKOFF: I think that, you know, Donald finally got caught and a lot along the way, Melania knew exactly who she married. She knew that this was a transactional marriage. She became a top model. He became, you know, a loving, doting father. And it set them up for their run for the White House.

PHILLIP: Do you think she'll show up eventually to the July 11th sentencing or frankly, I mean, really anywhere? We have not really seen her anywhere.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: I didn't think we were going to see her. Only time I really did believe that perhaps she would show up would be maybe at the verdict to shine a light away from what was actually happening. So, the attention would be taken away from what -- the reality of their life is going to be.

So, I do believe she will show up and it will be the art of distraction. It will shine a bright light on Melania. And when it's needed most, when other things are happening in Donald's life need to be shaded.

PHILLIP: All right, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WINSTON WOLKOFF: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "NewsNight". Our special coverage of the guilty verdicts of Donald Trump continues with "Laura Coates Live" after this.