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Two Legal Threats Collide for Trump; Trump in Court for Hush Money Case. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 09:30   ET



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is all part of his identity. So, the idea that he's going to come up short on $500 million is embarrassing to him.

And it goes to the point of why he then is lashing out on Truth Social in a way that actually impacts him by saying I do have the cash now or I almost have the cash. Then you see his lawyer stepping in say, no, no, no, we don't have the cash. Remember the argument is that it's impossible to get this kind of money.

Now, there is a kernel of truth when you're talking to these financial experts who say it is very difficult to come up with that kind of cash no matter how rich you are. People just aren't that liquid. The other part of this is that it's an unprecedented amount. So, these underwriters are saying, no, not just because it's Donald Trump, but because they've never had to put up that kind of a bond before. They were saying they would do $100 million but not $400 million or $500 million.

But again, this all goes to the core of who he is. And you're going to see that today. I assume he'll go to the cameras. I assume he'll start talking about, at some point, that money, that bond, and how he thinks this is unfair.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Is it clear, Paula, how it affects the appeal itself? Because essentially why he had to put up that money is so he could carry through with the appeal.


COLLINS: If he can't put up the money, can he still appeal this decision?

REID: Yes, I think he still has the right to appeal, but then that's where the district attorney - excuse me, the attorney general, would move forward, right, because she needs that security. So she would move forward to potentially seize either cash assets or buildings and properties.

But he has appealed not only the decision itself, but also the amount of bond that he needs to post. We don't expect to get a decision on that today. His lawyers have argued that it shouldn't be this much, right, to secure this verdict while the appeal goes forward. But he has long said, even before the decision came down from the judge, that he would appeal because he believes that there was no victim in the civil fraud case. He argued that it was politically motivated, it's unprecedented and it's unclear how exactly they would prevail. There's no real factual dispute that the appeals court could look at and really glom onto to overturn that. So, it's not expected that he will prevail in that appeal, but he certainly has the right to do so.

COLLINS: Right. And his attorneys - and, you know, with Trump there's always kind of this question of will he pull a rabbit out of his hat at the 11th hour? I mean he did it with E. Jean Carroll. It was truly the 11th hour when they did find someone to underwrite that bond. It was $100 million. But that was still even difficult for them.

But here, you know, today has come and gone, this morning has, where we have not heard from his legal team on what they plan to do. And I know there have been options floating around last week going to a wealthy supporter. I mean his attorney was asked, would they potentially get it from a foreign government or a foreign national?

HOLMES: And she said, this is privileged information and did not give a direct answer on what exactly they would do.

COLLINS: She didn't say no.

HOLMES: Yes, she then - she didn't say no. Exactly. And, look, there was some conversations about who he would actually go to when it came to a wealthy donor because Donald Trump wants one thing, to not be embarrassed. He doesn't want to go sit in front of somebody and beg for money. So how exactly would that have come about? And so the conversations that were being had at a high level were, is somebody going to go on his behalf and say, will you put up this money? How is this going to look? For people who know him and have worked with him before say Donald Trump himself doesn't want to be the one to ever ask for the money. It's embarrassing to him.

So, these conversations were having - happening as to how exactly this would come to be, if it came from a wealthy donor. And again, as you said, the morning has come and gone. We have been given no indication that he is pulling a rabbit out of his hat. And what you're starting to see now is online you're seeing all these conservative personalities saying, in part what you said, which is, this is going to help him politically, but also just how unfair this is. That no one could have come up with this money. Even Eric Trump posting that it was impossible to meet this cash limit. So - or this bond.

So, that gives you some idea that doesn't seem likely at this point that some kind of magic is happening.

COLLINS: But even if it helps him politically, I mean, personally and for his own mindset you can just see how much this bothers him. I mean looking at his Truth Social, you know, anytime last week he was posting about it at 2:00 in the morning multiple times within an hour period. And today what he was saying is that essentially his concern and that he's making very obvious because he often just says what's on his mind, is that - is he could have to sell his assets for a lower price on a quick basis.


COLLINS: And then use that money to try to put this up. And then, of course, he argues if he wins the appeal than he would have sold them for no reason.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: It's not clear, though, that, of course, he would win the appeal here.

REID: Exactly. Now his lawyers have - have said that he shouldn't have to sell properties because that is one option on the table, do a fire sale, unload some of your assets and then you're more liquid in cash. His lawyers have insisted that he shouldn't have to do that. That's part of why they've appealed this bond amount.

COLLINS: But would a regular person have to just do that. If you were having - if you were in this situation -

REID: (INAUDIBLE) - we are so far outside the realm of regular people and we're talking about buildings, you know, worth very large amounts of money, which, of course, how much they are worth was at the center of the civil fraud trial, right? We are so outside the bounds of what normal people would have to do. But for him, his lawyers argue that he shouldn't have to sell off these buildings. And they also argue that that's where a lot of his wealth is tied up.


But again, this goes to his identity. This is embarrassing. He has put himself fourth as a billionaire successful businessman for decades. So this strikes at the heart of his identity, who he has always purported to be, not only this case, which was incredibly personal, saw several of his children testify, the decision by the judge, but now the idea that not only - he's - he's not going to do a fire sale, we don't expect that, but that some of these assets could be seized, incredibly embarrassing. If - if it could potentially, though, be politically beneficial.

COLLINS: Yes, or his bank accounts frozen.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: And, Sara and John, I mean that's really what's at the heart of what we're watching this morning. It's a lot going on, understandably. Even by Trump standards, it's a pretty crazy day.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: But what we're seeing here is really timing because it's the timing of what's going to happen here with this criminal hush money case. Is it going to happen in April? What does the judge decide? But the clock running out on this bond issue is what is consuming Trump much more than that, though both of them are important, both are two issues that his legal team and the former president himself are coming face-to-face with at this moment.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, the bond issue is very, very expensive. And he could feel it very soon.

All right, Kaitlan. And as we said, Donald Trump has just arrived at the courthouse. We are expecting to hear from him we think soon. And we were talking to our lawyers a little while ago. What he says here outside the criminal court could have a bearing on the whole financial situation he's in now.


BERMAN: Because he has tweeted before, he said, I have all the money.

SIDNER: Right.

BERMAN: I have all the money I need. Well, if he keeps on saying that, an appeals judge isn't going to say, you know what, you don't have to pay as much to cover this bond.

SIDNER: Right, or pay less -

BERMAN: Right.

SIDNER: Which they're asking for both things. So, if he says he has the money and the courts see that, they may decide, well, go ahead and pay it then.

We will see what happens with that. We will see what happens with the AG and whether she puts into place mechanisms to try to freeze his bank accounts or sees his property.

With us now is CNN's senior political commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones, and Republican strategist Rina Shah.

Thank you both for being here.

When you look at the - sorry, but it's a circus - when you look - this is not normal for when somebody comes to court. When you look at what's happening outside of court and you look at the tirade that Donald Trump went on over the weekend talking about all these different things, going after the judge and saying he has the money, what does this tell you about how much he cares about this potential criminal case, the first that could go forward, and this case that really has to do just with his money.

I will start with you, Van Jones.

VAN JONES, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, this is a big deal for him and as - because now all of the vices are starting to come together. If we want to think about this from a big picture point of view, you know, Donald Trump is the bull and the legal system is a matador. He wants to run over American society back into the white House. He's got to get past the matador. And every single opening and vulnerability in his character is being poked at by a legal system. He's disrespectful toward women. The defamation case comes in. He's loose with the rules when it comes to documents. OK, you've got the Florida case coming in. You've got, you know, his - you know, frankly, business swindling, for lack of a better term, effect, that's coming into case. Every single aspect of his personality that makes him unfit for office and anybody else would be in jail or broke is now coming down on him. And he's got to face them all at the same time.

And so from his point of view, I'm sure it's a nightmare but it's a nightmare of his own making. He's the person that wants to go back into the White House. He's the person that wants to flout all these rules. Well, the system has rules and ways to enforce those rules and they're all being enforced now at the same time. And you can see him freaking out on Truth Social all night. This is a big, big day for him.

BERMAN: You really can see him sort of ranting in real time about this.


BERMAN: And you can see how much it's under his skin.

And, Rina, just this morning he wrote, he's being forced to sell his babies. And by that we think he doesn't mean Eric or Don Jr. We think he's talking about his buildings there, Rina. But it does show you what he cares about most.

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think when you pull back and look at this entire thing, I'm reminded by the Marcus Aurelius quote, the impediment to action then becomes the action.

So, this is the messaging strategy we have seen Trump and his family employ, frankly, that he's not just being knee capped here by this historic judgment supposedly, he is being crippled to the point where he is being denied what is fairly his.

And so you can't look at elected Republicans for some kind of support at this point because they've taken the road of, well, if you can't beat them, join them. So, everywhere you're looking on the Republican side, there is this cry of, Donald Trump is the victim of a system that is unfair, that has these undefined norms and is lawfare at its worst.


And this is just something that Democrats have to push back on. Frankly, the ball is in their court to come out and say, well, if you're a billionaire, then you should have the money and you should, with the blink of an eye, this should not be a problem for you. You should be presenting what you need to do to the court to show that you're an innocent man who follows the rules. And now if that's going to work on these undecided voters, who knows.

But here we sit in this moment where, frankly, the very thing that's at stake here is the - this perceived success that Trump has really benefit from all these years. Whether you like it or not, our system is one that says, economic power is political power. And if Trump cannot pay this up, this bond, then we see it is started to be turned on its head after today.

SIDNER: Van Jones, you know, in speaking to that, and politically speaking, when you look at the money, and he's always put himself out there as, you know, the man who can make the deal. Politically, when he can't pay this money, he's also using it to fund raise. It doesn't seem to be hurting him in the polls.

I mean what say you about this dichotomy here where, you know, Democrats might want to take advantage of this situation, but it doesn't seem to be hurting him.

JONES: Well, we just have two different universes in - in the Democrat Party universe, Democratic Party universe, someone this unfit for office, someone who's broken this many rules, somebody who's this afoul of the law probably shouldn't be an intern at the White House, let alone be president. And that's the case the Democrats are prosecuting.

But, you know, you go through mirror world. Someone who the system hates this much, who - that she's trying to stop him no matter what, he must be good. Everyone's against him. He must be for us. And so he's been able to flip this whole thing to present himself as a martyr, which is why he shows up in court, even when you don't have to.

I'm going to tell you right now, I've never had a client or anybody who want - who wanted to go to court when they didn't have to go to court. Donald Trump wants to be there because he believes that by presenting himself as a martyr for his own cause, that actually strengthens him. And so far it looks like it's working. And so you literally have two different movies happening at the same time with the same characters. In one movie, whenever you see Donald Trump, its scary movie, like a horror show. In another movie we see Donald Trump it's a heroic movie. Like, you know, he's, you know, a superman for the right.

So, this is what we're dealing with. And we will always be strangers to each other and baffled by each other because it's hard for either side to understand why the other is its feeling the way that we're feeling.

SIDNER: And we just want to be clear, we've been watching this, and you've been seeing it on the screen there, watching the door literally where Donald Trump is going to walk through. The expectation is he - he often does speak. Sometimes he does it, you know, halfway through. Sometimes he comes out of court. But he usually does say something. And now you see some movement there.

We are waiting to see him come into court and see if he says anything about either of the things, legal things he is facing today.

Van Jones and Rina Shah, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your time.

And as I was just talking about, former President Donald Trump is now at court. The question is, will we hear from him? Will he speak?



COLLINS: You are looking live at pictures of a courthouse here in Manhattan where Donald Trump is expected to walk through those doors at any moment now as he is going to enter the courtroom for a hearing on the hush money case here and the concerns over the timing of that after new documents were turned over to his defense and they pushed for at least a 90 day delay and also an outright dismissal of this case, something that the district attorney here in Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, agreed to at least a 30 day delay in that trial that was supposed to get underway today and would have been historic because it would have been the first criminal trial of a former president that we have ever seen.

So, right now, we are waiting to find out what the timing of this trial could look like, something we can learn from inside that room there today.

But the other timing that is also a factor here, one that is much more consuming for the former president as that it is the end of that 30 day grace period that was granted to him by the attorney general here in New York, that's Letitia James, who brought that civil fraud trial against Trump, and now he owes at least $450 million in interest, about $100,000 that is added to that every single day.

He had been working to try to appeal that, but he needed to put up that money. And so far has been unable to do so. So, that is something that he has been posting about all morning instead of the actual case that is going to be happening there inside the courtroom.

We are waiting to see the former president as he walks through those doors where we do believe he may speak to cameras before entering that courtroom.

We are continuing to monitor all of this. As soon as he does speak, we will bring those comments and potentially a fact check if needed here live to you as we are waiting to hear from Donald Trump. His legally team in the courtroom. Much more. Stay with us after a quick break.



SIDNER: Right now, Donald Trump is in a New York court for a hearing in the hush money case against him. We could hear from him before that hearing begins.

Back with us now, former Manhattan prosecutor Jeremy Saland and CNN legal analysts Jennifer Rodgers.

All right, Jennifer, when you look at this particular case, what is expected to happen today? When he walks into court with his attorneys, what's going to happen? JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Judge Merchan has said he

wants an explanation for why these documents that Trump subpoenaed from SDNY weren't turned over when he got discovery from the DA's office last year. He asked for a timeline of exactly what happened. So, I expect he'll take the prosecutors through their paces. Tell me exactly what happened. Why didn't he get these documents before? And he'll want to be satisfied about that before he's willing to turn the page and say, OK, they have what they have now, let's set a trial date.

BERMAN: So, if a trial date is set and it is, I keep one eye, by the way, on the goings on outside the courthouse. But, Jeremy, if a trial date is set for April 15th, that means jury selection begins there.


BERMAN: What's it going to be like getting a jury for this case?

SALAND: So, they bring in a panel of people and they'll fill that courtroom, even potentially the seats the people that normally would watch and sit in the benches, they'll fill that up. And then the judge is going to allow the defense attorney and the prosecution to ask their questions.


And the prosecution is going to try to find, you know, the right candidate to sit on that jury who's not going to be biased, who's going to be able to follow the law. But more so for the defense, because there are few people here in New York who don't have an opinion either way, right, because he's a known commodity, good or bad. This story, his presidency, his involvement in the state of New York and the city of New York is, for lack of a better term, kind of epic. So, they really need to make sure they're not going to have someone in there who is - we'll call it maybe a plant who is to far to the left, is not going to give Donald a fair trial.

So, I think that's really going to be key here is the credibility of those jurors that they will be fair and honest and listen to the evidence.

SIDNER: I do want to ask you about witnesses in this case. One of the most important but one of the most troubling is Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former attorney, who had quite a bit of inside knowledge as to how all this happened. He was the one that the money was paid through to get to Stormy Daniels according to prosecutors. But he has a real problematic history. Tell us why the Trump team, first of all, tried to keep him off the stand, and then they're going to go after him I'm sure.

RODGERS: Yes, so team Trump has been trying for months to keep him off the stand saying he's a liar, he pled guilty actually to making false statements to Congress so he can't be trusted, he shouldn't be allowed to testify. And Judge Merchan has said, no, he will be allowed to testify, but you can, of course, bring all of these things in, in cross-examination. This is just a monster of a witness in cross-examination. He is

central to the allegations here, so prosecutors need to use him, but they have him corroborated by documents and by other witnesses. The issue is going to be cross. There is so much material here because he has lied before, because he's pleaded guilty to a whole variety of offenses, they're going to use all of that. Conventional wisdom with cross is try to keep it tight, pick maybe three things and go after those three things. But here there's so much material you can see them just taking days and days and days beating up Michael Cohen with all of the stuff that they have.

BERMAN: Well, so, if you're the prosecution you know that, Jeremy. So, how do you stop the bleeding with a person who is one of your key witnesses?

SALAND: And one of the ways you take the wind out of that sail is you have that witness admit up front, and come out front and say, this is what I did. And this is why I did it. And you cannot run away from it.

So, Michael Cohen is going to have to say, you know, I lied. I was committed - pardon me, I was convicted of a particular crime. This is why I did what I did. If he runs away and they don't address it, it's going to seem like he's hiding. And there's really not much more to hide because he's been exposed and, you know, a federal court judge just recently acknowledge and recognized that either he lied before Engoron when he said, you know, he was not - you know, he didn't tell the truth in federal court when he took a plea, or he lied in federal court when he took that plea. So, there's really ripe areas for cross.

SIDNER: Donald Trump's attorneys are asking for this case to be thrown out or delayed. The changes of that? Do you think we'll have a date for when this trial starts come - going forward today?

RODGERS: I think - I think we well. The only reason that we won't is if the judge isn't satisfied with what prosecutors tell him. If he still thinks after their explanations that something fishy was going on, then he might not set a date. But I think based on what's come out about the content of the documents that were turned over, apparently there's only a small amount of documents that they didn't already have, they're not particularly exciting or exculpatory. So, I think the judge will accept prosecutor's statements and (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: All right, there is Donald Trump. Let's listen in.




TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) witch hunt. This is a witch hunt. This is a hoax. Thank you.

SIDNER: So, very short.

BERMAN: He did not have much to say.

SIDNER: No, he just said it's a witch hunt. Which he's said over and over and over again on his Truth Social.

That was probably the shortest amount of time we've seen him speak when he comes into court or when he is in court. What did you make of that?

SALAND: I think that could be on the heels of his Truth Social post about having the money to cover the bond. You know, his attorneys, you know, proverbial wringing his neck and holding him back saying, do not say things that are going to hurt you. And that may be a product of it.

SIDNER: Jennifer Rodgers, Jeremy Saland, thank you both so much.

Just got a tiny snippet there. We heard from Donald Trump. It was very short and very pointed.

BERMAN: Yes, half a billion dollars might make you quiet.


BERMAN: Thank you all for being with us. This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Jim Acosta picks up right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to our special coverage. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington, alongside Kaitlan Collins in New York.

And moments ago, former President Donald Trump arrived at a lower Manhattan courthouse. This morning he's facing double legal trouble. The prospect of a criminal trial and the possibility that some of his prize commercial properties could be seized by authorities in New York. Today, for the first time in American history, we could learn when an ex-president goes on criminal trial. You can see him right there arriving at the courthouse. The judge overseeing his hush money case is expected to set a court date after Trump allegedly bribed a porn star to cover up their affair.

Also this morning, his carefully cultivated image of an American business tycoon is also at risk.


Trump's real estate assets, including his quote, babies, as he calls them, could be seized if he can't make a nearly half-billion-dollar bond payment in his civil fraud case.