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Trump Gives Remarks As Civil Trial Starts To Wrap Up; Closing Arguments In Trump Civil Fraud Trial. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, we have our eyes right now on 40 Wall Street. This is the Trump building where the former president is expected to be speaking any moment following closing arguments in the civil fraud trial that is wrapping up there in Manhattan.

He did unexpectedly. And here he is about to approach and make some comments. We will be fact checking this after he speaks. He said a number of things in his five minutes in court today that were untrue. The judge actually cutting him off. So we'll be watching very carefully, listening very carefully. This is his attorney, of course, who is speaking there ahead of the president.

Let's listen in.

ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: -- against President Trump. There was not one piece of paper that showed anyone committed fraud and don't forget that Section 6312, a consumer fraud statute, has been wrongfully used against my client, innocent defendants, the organization, and every employee of the Trump Organization, which has single handedly changed the New York skyline, including the building we are in today. These are special properties.

Real estate is an art, not a science. But, you know, what else is an art? You know what else isn't a science? Political motivated individuals. She's using this to paint a canvas that Donald Trump is a fraudster because they can't beat him in the polls. They can't beat him in the polls. So she ran on Trump because that was the only way she could win.

And now, today, after eleven weeks, after three years, we have concluded that he indeed committed no wrong. The Trump Organization committed no wrong. And the kids have been dragged in just like the other defendants. And it is wrong. America needs to step up. And there's only one person who can do that. My client, Donald Trump. President Trump, everybody.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. We've gone through years with this person. She's a political hack. The Attorney General. The judge is obviously extremely friendly with the group, and we'll see what happens, I think he -- maybe he will surprise people on a surprise positive side. We'll have to see what happens exactly. But we've proven this case so conclusively. We've asked for directed verdict many times.


They don't have any facts. They don't have any evidence against us. Millions and millions of pages, years of litigation, and all politically motivated. She campaigned on, I will get Trump, if you've ever seen any of the -- seen any of her clips, the horrible clips, actually, the anger. She's got serious Trump derangement syndrome. There's no question about Letitia James, the corrupt Attorney General of New York.

So we've proven our case, there's not one witness against us other than one person who is a deranged. He's got a lot of problems. He's a man who's been convicted of lying. He's a felon, convicted felon, and not a good person. But that's their only witness, and he's now crashed and burned. They have no witnesses.

And by the way, that witness took back everything that he said. He took back everything he said in court, took it all back. So they have no case. It's a shame that a thing like this is able to happen.

Businesses leave New York. She went after Exxon, and they decided to move to Texas. And hundreds of millions of dollars they pay in taxes. I paid over $300 million of taxes over the last number of years, $300 million, and they don't recognize that. They don't recognize anything. So not think of it. Not one witness, millions of pages of document, years of this nonsense, and now it goes on. And one other factor, we won this case already in the Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals voted in favor of us. But this judge has been very, very slow to accept that opinion because that's not the opinion that he wants. But we won in the Court of Appeals. That's the boss of this judge who has to know that. And it was a conclusive victory, statute of limitations, and other things. And that case has already been won. So that's the story, and I thought we'd come down to 40 Wall Street, which is a great building, and you'd get a chance to see one of the nicest buildings in New York and a convenient place.

And I don't have to pay any rent because we have it, and it's been a very successful building. But it's a shame to have to have gone through this for years and years and years. And now we'll see if we're going to get an honest verdict, we didn't have a jury. We had no rights to a jury. It's a statute that's never been used before for a purpose like this. I just watched a certain broadcast, and they said, you know, they've been looking, has it ever been used before.

This is a statute that's a consumer fraud statute, never been used for anything like this before. And it's a shame. It's really a witch hunt in the truest sense of the word. It's election interference. And it just came out. This is just -- right now, Letitia James visited Joe Biden in the White House numerous times during the Trump witch hunt. And this just came out about 10 minutes ago. I got it. And so it's all a conspiracy to try and get Biden who can't put two sentences together, trying to get him into office.

So I just want to let you know that, you know, we have our best poll numbers. We have the best everything, despite this, and maybe because of this, because the people of the United States, all of those people back there, but the people of the United States really get it. They get it better than anybody else.

Yeah, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you agree with your lawyers what they said on Tuesday, that you should not be prosecuted or could not be prosecuted if you ordered SEAL Team Six to kill a political rival?

TRUMP: Well, you're talking about a totally different case. The immunity. I say this, on immunity, very simple. If a President of the United States does not have immunity, he'll be totally ineffective because he won't be able to do anything because it will mean he'll be prosecuted, strongly prosecuted, perhaps, as soon as he leaves office by his -- by the opposing party.

So a President of the United States, I'm not talking just me, I'm talking any President has to have immunity. As an example, Biden could come out and you could get him on the border. You could get him on what happened in Afghanistan, the horrible, most embarrassing moment in the history of this country.

You could get him on a lot of different things. You could get him taking cash from countries. You could get him on the prosecutor, not prosecuting his son or the company or whoever it was, Burisma, in Ukraine. You could get him on that, where he -- it was a quid pro quo, if you remember that. If they don't drop the prosecutor, we're not giving them a billion dollars of U.S. funds. If you don't have immunity, you can, you know, I mean, you won't be making any decisions. So you have to have it.

And I like it to the fact that police have to have their control back. They have to have respect. And you could always have a bad apple. You could always have something happen happened, but at the same time you have to stop crime in this country. It's very much like that. It's very similar to that. But you have to have immunity for a president. And I think most people are seeing that.


I've read a lot of legal reports lately and scholarly reports that are saying you really have to have a president of this country, has to have immunity, or they're not going to be able to function in office.

Yeah, Bob?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump, we're just days away from the Iowa caucuses. What percentage of your time these days is spent on your campaign? What percentage is spent on your legal issues?

TRUMP: We'll see my legal issues, every one of them, every one, civil and the criminal ones are all set up by Joe Biden, crooked Joe Biden. This is something that's never happened in this country. Even when you look at this, this is all about Biden and her meeting.

So even the civil ones, this is civil, they're set up by Biden. Every single, just about, case that I'm involved in, is set up by Biden. They're doing it for election interference. And in a way, I guess you'd consider it part of the campaign because if you really look at it, they are doing this. It's never been done like this in this country. It's like we're a third-world country, a banana republic. But every one of the things that you write about are Biden indictments. And I don't know, you know, I just got a poll.

We just had a poll. It just came out. And we're leading massively in Iowa. We're leading very big in New Hampshire. We're leading because the people understand this stuff. These are all set up. Every time somebody sees me in court, remember, Joe Biden and his thugs that surround him did it. They're trying to get a man in office that can't put two sentences together, and they're doing that. But so far, we seem to do very well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have the Iowa caucuses Monday, an event in New Hampshire Tuesday, are you going to be back for the E. Jean Carroll case on Wednesday?

TRUMP: Yeah. Well, that's another one, that's sponsored by Reid Hoffman and some Democrat operatives. I never saw this woman in my life other than they have a picture with her and her husband, John Johnson, a nice guy who was a newscaster many years ago.

I remember him, and she said horrible things about him since. I mean, horrible, horrible things, called him bad names. I have no idea who this woman is. I have absolutely no idea. The whole thing is ridiculous that this is even a case. This should never have happened.

But again, this is sponsored by the Democrats. It's another case, all sponsored by, it's a demeaning kind of a thing, and that's what they want to do. It's called election interference. And yeah, I'm going to go to it, and I'm going to explain. I don't know who the hell she is. I have no idea. They called me up years ago, and they said, do you know about this woman 25 or 30 years ago?

She doesn't even know the date, the time, the month, the season. She has no idea. And if you read it -- if you watch, take a look at the Anderson Cooper interview of her. And if you take a look at that, Trump is so innocent, but we have been given a very unfair trial there too. I don't get very fair trials in New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you made decision about whether you're going to show up for the federal trials? You've showed up here in New York for your civil fraud trial. You just said you're going to show up for the E. Jean Carroll case. Are you planning to show up in court --

TRUMP: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- when they begin, whenever they begin.

TRUMP: Sure, sure

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In that documents case and the January 6th case?

TRUMP: I would do that. Well, the documents case, I just hear where they want to try and exonerate Biden, and he didn't have the Presidential Records Act, and I do. What I did, nothing wrong. What he did, a lot of people say, substantially wrong.

You can't have two tiers of justice in this country. But no, I want to go to all of my trials. These are all, again, these are all set up by Biden and the Democrats. This is their -- this is their new form of cheating. This is like last time, this is their new form of cheating. So far, I think it's gone very much against them.

Yeah, please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh, yes. During the hearing, you said that Exxon left New York and because of the New York Attorney General's case, but she actually -- Exxon actually left in 1989.

TRUMP: No, they took the rest of their divisions out. They left earlier. They were treated very badly in New York. You could have had them in New York. They could have been paying a lot of money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it wasn't Letitia James?

TRUMP: No, I think -- if you take a look, you read the case, study the case, you'll see that they took big divisions out after that. They originally left and then they took the rest out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you're going to -- you could get President Biden on various issues, you outline?

TRUMP: I didn't say I could get him on anything. I said he is using the weaponization of the DOJ and the FBI to go after his political opponent, and you just can't do that.

Thank you very much.


KEILAR: All right, there is former President Donald Trump after his civil fraud trial. His closing arguments had wrapped up and they're -- we just have to fact check a lot and brace yourself because this is going to take a moment there.


He -- listen, the overarching message that he was really putting out there was he was saying that this is a Joe Biden indictment and it's not. This is a civil fraud trial in New York. Joe Biden did not set this up. He was going after the attorney general there in New York. Letitia James. He was calling her a hack. He was saying that she was corrupt.

Keep in mind, there is someone else who went after her for an investigation she did. And that was Andrew Cuomo, the former Democratic Governor of New York. She uncovered and put out a quite detailed and well supported report on his COVID death numbers that had been manipulated.

He was saying all along there, there's no evidence of fraud. Yes, there is. His attorney was saying that yes, there is. That has actually already been determined here that he actually inflated the value of his assets by a factor of three.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Yeah, his attorney at one point made the argument that they made in court that real estate is in art and not a science. The square footage of a property is a determined thing that you can measure. It's not really an art.

The president -- former president also made the case that his argument won in the Court of Appeals and that Judge Arthur Engoron is ignoring that because it's not the result that he wants. That's actually a misrepresentation of what took place.

The Court of Appeals scaled back the initial case that was made by Letitia James. For example, determining that the statute of limitations had run out on certain charges, removing his daughter Ivanka Trump from the case itself, very far from saying that the appeals court sided with him. In fact, the appeals court would have shut the case down according to legal experts if they had felt that there wasn't a case there.

Further, the president made the case that there was only one witness against him and that was his former fixer Michael Cohen, someone who he said was a convicted fellow and convicted of lying. Michael Cohen was convicted in part for lying on behalf of former President Trump, so make of that what you will. He also made claims about Burisma and Joe Biden, things that were largely false.

The President, though, vowing that he is going to continue attending all of his court cases as the campaign trail moves forward in the 2024 presidential election.

KEILAR: Yeah, that's right. It was interesting, as you mentioned the -- his attorney saying, real estate is an art, not science. Well, there's also math. And the thing about math is that it's pretty clear cut and he got it wrong.

There is something he did say that is true, which is that he said the 40 Wall Street building is beautiful. And that's actually true. It's on the National Historic Register. It's gorgeous.

SANCHEZ: I've not seen it. That is subjective, so.

KEILAR: You probably actually have seen it in the skyline. It's a beautiful building built in 1930 before Donald Trump was ever born, though, it does currently bear his name.

Let's get to Paula Reid for the really important fact checking here, Paula, which is this, you know, he wants to say this is a -- I know, it took us a while to get to you there. This is a political agenda. This is Joe Biden and folks around him who are doing this. But that's not what's happening here, Paula.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No, let's first take the state case where I am here today is civil -- for the civil case in Manhattan brought by the New York District Attorney General. Now, she is a state official. She has attended public events at the White House.

And again, those are public record. And Trump and his lawyers have tried to suggest that those visits to the White House were part of meetings to engage in a conspiracy. There's no evidence to support that. But I will note, the New York Attorney General did campaign on a promise to pursue Trump. So that is fair to say, but two things can be true. That can be part of her campaign. And there can be sufficient evidence to support a civil in this case, a case against him. And that's what the judge here has found.

Now he also suggested that Biden is engaging in a conspiracy related to the federal, the two federal cases he is facing. I want to note that while Biden did appoint Attorney General Merrick Garland, Garland then appointed a Special Counsel, Jack Smith, so an independent entity to pursue those cases, both the federal election subversion case and the classified document case against former President Trump.

But Merrick Garland has also appointed Special Counsels to look into President Biden, Rob Hur, looking into the possible mishandling of classified documents by President Biden and also President Biden's son.

Now also has a Special Counsel who has filed two -- two criminal cases against him. So the idea that President Biden has somehow weaponized his Justice Department to solely go after Trump, there's no evidence to support that.

In fact, Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed multiple special counsels, one for Trump, one for Biden, and then a different one for his son. So there really is no evidence to support this idea that this is election interference by President Biden.


SANCHEZ: Paula, please stand by. We have CNN Legal Analyst, Elliot Williams with us to parse through so many of these claims. I want to go back to that idea that the judge doesn't want to accept what the Court of Appeals has decided. That is false.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's false. And, you know, it's almost sad, Boris, at this point because what -- what we're seeing here and what we've seen from the former president is a pattern of taking a fact that is a kernel of truth to it and spinning it in -- a kernel of legal truth to it and spinning it in a manner that's completely inaccurate and people will believe this nonsense. OK, as you said, the court had ruled that claims that originated before 2014 could not be brought into this trial.

Now, even -- even for conduct that took place before 2014 but continued into the future could be brought into this trial and as you said Ivanka Trump that was the decision that said that her conduct that touched her was kept out.

There was one sentence in there that was accurate which is that the court ruled in our favor but everything else he said was wrong and twisted the facts of the case. It's absolutely a legitimate lawsuit.

You don't have to agree with it. You're allowed as a litigant to zealously advocate on your own behalf but you can't twist the law on the facts particularly someone who used to be president and frankly may well be again. It's just sad.

KEILAR: Also, you had his lawyer saying there isn't one piece of paper that anyone committed fraud. That's not even in question. Like, that's a foregone conclusion in this case that fraud was committed. The question is how much.

We know that he valued his assets, overvalued it by a factor of three, 812 million, but then valued it at 2.2 billion. And the allegation here, of course, is that that was done with the -- with an eye to securing benefit, right?

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think -- no, I think saying we don't agree with the quantum of evidence that has been brought is very different than saying no witnesses have come forward and there's no paper to substantiating it. You have the literally the receipts. They came with valuations on property and so on.

Now, again, and to his point, there is some art to real estate and to some extent, the valuation of property is subjective. But if you're reaching a point where you are overvaluing a property by a factor of three, you've gone out of the realm of subjectivity and into the world of fraud. And that's sort of what's happening here.

KEILAR: That's talking like multiple standard deviations, right?

WILLIAMS: Go look at you, right.

KEILAR: Well outside the bell curve.

WILLIAMS: Never took stats in college.

KEILAR: I unfortunately did.

SANCHEZ: Real estate artist we have, right here also complementing the architecture of 40 Wall Street.

KEILAR: It's a beautiful building.

WILLIAMS: Oh, I'm with Brianna on this because it's also the part of the city with cobbled streets in front of it.

KEILAR: It's a historic -- it's a historic building.

WILLIAMS: It's beautiful building. It's great.

SANCHEZ: French Gothic for me, I did look at it.

BERMAN: Boris, doesn't like --


SANCHEZ: Let's go back to Paula Reid, because Paula, one of the things that Donald Trump also said during this, back and forth with reporters, had to do with the question of immunity. Earlier this week, there was that hearing in the D.C. Court of Appeals that got into some really intense hypotheticals about whether a sitting president was allowed to plan the assassination of a political rival. Trump walked through his belief that a president essentially can do anything if he's president.

REID: Yeah, he asked about that hypothetical that was posed by one of the judges and the federal oral arguments on Tuesday, asking if up sitting president could order SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival and get away with it. The judge was trying to test the boundaries of Trump's lawyer's theory about absolute presidential immunity.

Now, Trump didn't answer directly that hypothetical, but instead just talked about the importance of presidential immunity, saying presidents have to have immunity. Otherwise, you could sue them for things like the situation at the border with President Biden or if you engage in a drone strike. The important distinction here, Boris, is that presidents do have immunity for the things that they do as president, their official duties. And the distinction that Special Counsel Jack Smith has made in the Trump case is that his alleged efforts to subvert the 2020 election were outside the scope of his official duties.

You would expect presidents could engage in warfare. Obviously, they're in charge of what happens at the border. But they argue, the Special Counsel argues, the criminal charges are based on the idea that what Trump was doing was outside the bounds of his official duties. And that is why they argue he should not have immunity. So he's arguing that if he doesn't have immunity in the federal elections aversion case, then all is lost and presidents will be sued left, right, and sideways for the things that they do day to day. But there is an important nuance here, a distinction.


The Special Council arguing that what he was doing, that is not something you were supposed to be doing as president. It would never be considered an official act, and that they believe is why he should not have immunity.

SANCHEZ: Elliot, now over to you, that question of immunity looming large over this, specifically in regard to official duties. What do you make of that?

WILLIAMS: I know, and I think this gets back to the point about the president's MO when talking about the law. And this is exactly as Paula had said. There is a kernel of truth to that, which is that, yes, presidents are immune. And there's a long history of this. Case is going back to Richard Nixon in the 1970s about the president's actions are immune from lawsuit or prosecution if they are their official duties. But the drone strike example was a perfect, logical legal example where you would have a president using the official tools of the presidency to commit a crime.

He can't do that. The Constitution does not allow that. Nothing, no law written in the United States allows that. And this is exactly the shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue argument that the president himself ran for office on, which is that, well, you know, I could just walk down the street and kill somebody and get away with it. He's making that point here. And even though we want our presidents to not get sued or prosecuted if they cut your taxes or raise your taxes, just, you know, you want them to be able to be prosecuted if they do call a drone strike on somebody and he's just wrong.

SANCHEZ: Elliot Williams, Paula Reid, very much appreciate the real time fact check, a lot to get through.

KEILAR: A lot.

SANCHEZ: Stay with CNN, we're back in just a few moments.