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Trump's Hush Money Hearing In Recess Until Noon; Netanyahu Cancels Israeli Delegation's Trip To D.C. After U.S. Abstain From U.N. Security Council Vote; Trump Gets Partial Victory On Bond: Appeals Court Rules He Must Pay $175M Within 10 Days, Instead Of $464 Million Today. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 11:30   ET



KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His claims. And he -- you know, he became slightly frustrated by the end of it because he was saying that they haven't actually supported the serious allegations that they made. He said, in fact, it wasn't obstruction. He thought the people though -- the government went above and beyond what they had to do in order to provide these documents that Trump's lawyers are trying to get from the federal prosecutors who were bringing their case against Michael Cohen five years ago.

And so, you know, he's really pressing Trump's lawyers to try to defend why they were seeking this relief now. And he said he was detecting a pattern. And this pattern was that the judge said he would read a case and read it one way, he would see facts and interpret them one way, and Trump's lawyers would interpret them repeatedly in a different way.

And so, he was saying he didn't really understand why that was happening. So, signaling that he is not believing Trump's side of this, and he doesn't see based on the evidence before him. He said he read through all the materials, all of the correspondence between the prosecutors both at the state level and the federal level, and Trump's lawyers. and didn't see the facts to support Trump's claim that there was some kind of prosecutorial misconduct.

You know, Trump during this whole time has been sitting at the defense table. He's been largely either leaning forward or leaning back listening to the arguments pretty intently, looking over at the attorneys, you know, whispering at times to one of the lawyers who were -- who's working with him. But otherwise, he's been pretty quiet.

You know, the judge kind of surprisingly, took a 45-minute break. It's unclear if that's a signal that he is going to make some kind of determination since he has laid out pretty clearly that he doesn't think Trump's lawyers have supported the serious claims that they have levied. He seemed at some points, a little frustrated, asking you know, why are we even here based on the record before him? So, we're expecting everyone to reconvene in the courtroom at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and then we'll see what the judge says if he is going to make a ruling on this case. I mean, as for now, this trial is set to start on April 15. Trump's lawyers, in addition to the claims of prosecutorial misconduct, were looking for additional time setting, the Jewish holidays saying that there's also spring break in New York. The judge has up to now not looked to give much weight to those arguments. But we'll be interesting to see if he does address any of that when we do get back inside court in a short while.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes. The judge seems quite skeptical of the arguments that Trump's team is making. How did Todd Blanche do under this questioning by the judge?

SCANNELL: So, Todd is an experienced trial attorney. He was a federal prosecutor for 13 years. And that is something that Judge Merchan had pushed back against him saying that he understood the rules and how this works.

You know, Todd Blanche, though, you know he was responding to the judge. He was saying, you know, he wasn't trying to be disrespectful of the judge. But you know, clearly taking a lot of heat in terms of these tough questions from the judge asking him to defend the allegations that they made -- you know, the serious allegations that the prosecutors had engaged in any kind of misconduct and should be sanctioned for it, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: All right. Kara Scannell, you've been our eyes and ears inside the courtroom. We'll let you get back inside there to see what this judge does decide. Paula Reid is still here with me.

And, Paula, I think this is a really significant moment in the sense of what we're watching, which is Trump getting this really welcome news from an appeals court here in the state of New York --


COLLINS: Saying that he has 10 more days to pay a much smaller bond in the civil judgment -- the civil fraud judgment that was made by Judge Engoron. Meanwhile, here in the courthouse behind us, we're in the middle of this 45-minute break. We're waiting to see what the judge decides on the other side of this. It could be very well when they believe this trial should proceed and how much time the judge believes that they need here. But he seems quite skeptical of what they've been arguing here in order to get more of a delay.

REID: Yes. He's highly skeptical of this accusation that the district attorney engaged in prosecutorial misconduct and somehow conspired to withhold these documents. And the judge is making it clear. If you're going to make those kinds of accusations, you best come to -- prepared to show your work with case law with facts. They couldn't do that here. And that's what really drew the ire of the judge.

And as we see in all the other criminal cases, the Trump team is always accusing prosecutors of some kind of misconduct, of some kind of conspiracy. They do it in the federal case. They do it in Georgia. They do it here. But Judge Juan Merchan making it clear in, his courtroom in this case, if you make those kinds of very serious allegations, you have to be able to support it.

And here, they couldn't do. It was interesting our colleagues in the courtroom report that just before he gavel to -- gaveled out for this break, he said I'm not even sure you know why we're -- why exactly we're here. But we hope that was odd that we were here.

But I hope when they come back, they will lay out the trial date because that's really the most significant thing that we're looking for today. Does he delay this again? 30, 60, 90 days is a huge range in terms of what the parties are asking for, but having clarity on that, it's really why we're here today.

COLLINS: Yes. And I think, you know, covering Trump, he's always had a bunch of different legal teams and lawyers. One person that has been at the forefront of this though recently is Todd Blanche.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: The attorney who's the one that Kara was just talking about under that questioning by the judge here. Trump is obviously watching every move by his attorneys very closely.

REID: Yes.


COLLINS: He has great influence at times over how they act in the courtroom, as opposed to maybe how they would act if their client, especially the former president of the United States, who has like so a lot of say in the legal tactics was sitting right beside him.

REID: He's a challenging client, to say the least. And you watch the lawyers struggle with this, right? They know what he wants to hear. But there are things that, for example, Judge Juan Merchan would not allow them to get away with accusing prosecutors of misconduct without supporting it with case law.

So, what Trump would like to hear and what the judge in this case will allow are two different things. And you see so often his lawyers struggling with this. They know they are bound by certain parameters via a case law -- via the rules of conduct that they have to abide by. And that's hard when you're trying to play to an audience of one.

And notably, the Supreme Court is probably the only place I can say that we've seen over the past few years where his lawyers didn't do that at all in the oral arguments over putting him on -- back on the ballot. You saw them just completely ignore who their client was and just focus on the case law. And they were successful there.

COLLINS: Yes, especially with Todd Blanche. Someone who knows this system very well worked in the Southern District of New York. Paula Reid, we'll continue to watch this.

We are in the middle of this 45-minute recess. We are waiting to see what happens when Trump, his legal team and the prosecutors, and the judge return to the courtroom here in just a matter of moments as the judge could be set to decide when this criminal hush money trial will proceed as it did not. Like, it was initially scheduled for today.

But also, to see Trump's reaction, as they have now just also learned of this major news from the New York appeals court that he has 10 more days to put up a bond, a much smaller bond than he had initially been scheduled to pay. We'll continue to watch all of this and be right back in just a moment.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: That's right. Some breaking news to tell you about. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just canceled his country's delegation's trip to Washington. Two of his top advisors were set to leave for D.C. tonight.

Let's go straight to the White House and CNN's Arlette Saenz. Arlette, I have to assume this decision by Netanyahu is going to have reverberations over there at the -- at the White House. What can you tell us?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim. The White House has already responded. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said it was disappointing to learn the news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had canceled the visit by these two senior Israeli officials to meet with officials here at the White House to discuss planning for a possible operation into Rafah.

Now, this comes after Netanyahu had threatened to cancel the trip if the U.S. did not veto a resolution at the U.N. Security Council that called for an immediate ceasefire as well as the unconditional release of hostages. The U.S. ended up abstaining in that vote. Kirby saying that it's not a change in the U.S. position, but instead that the U.S. couldn't support it because it did not include a condemnation of Hamas.

But abstaining from it allowed this to move forward, which is really rankled officials over in Israel. And it comes as the White House had been preparing for these meetings with Israeli officials to talk about alternative paths forward to an operation in Rafah. That is something that the White House has been warning about for weeks.

They want to see some type of concrete plan that would ensure the protection and evacuation of the 1.4 million Palestinian civilians who are in Rafah. Netanyahu has vowed to go ahead with an operation with or without the support of the U.S. They had been hoping to have that meeting this week to talk to the Israelis in person about possible other steps that they could take.

But even though -- this meeting that was scheduled are expected to happen a bit later in the week. Even though that is not happening now, there are expected to be meetings today and tomorrow with Israeli Defense Minister Gallant. He is in town starting this afternoon for a meeting with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

The focus of that meeting was expected to be on the release of hostages and surging more humanitarian aid in. But certainly, the White House will try to use this meeting to also talk about planning for Rafah. Gallant is also expected to meet with the secretary of defense, as well as the secretary of state while he is in town.

But the cancellation of this trip really lay your spare the latest tension point in the fraying relationship between the U.S. and Israel. And it really calls into question what the U.S. influence will be like with Israeli officials as they are planning these types of operations going forward. So, we will see what else comes from the White House today.

But they are initially expressing disappointment with the fact, that is, Netanyahu had canceled this meeting. They say that they will find other ways to try to press the Israelis on the issue of Rafah as there is great concern here about what can happen to the civilians if an operation were to proceed.

ACOSTA: All right. Yes, another example, Arlette, of the very building tensions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Biden. We're going to keep our eyes on all of that. I know you will as well. Arlette, thank you very much.

In the meantime, as Donald Trump's legal reality begins to bite, he's turning to Truth Social to drum up support and cash. We'll talk about that next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: More now on this morning's major breaking news. An appeals court ruling that former President Donald Trump must pay a $175 million bond within 10 days. That is down a lot from the nearly half- billion-dollar payment he was previously told to pony up.

Let's discuss now with CNN Political Commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart, CNN Political Commentator and former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign Karen Finney, and CNN political commentator and Spectrum News host Errol Louis. Guys, great to see all of you.

Errol, I mean, you know, for a while there perhaps folks thought we were going to see Lovett are listed, the Trump seized assets edition. That -- maybe that's not going to happen now. He has to pony up a fraction of what was originally thought was going to be a whopping nearly half-billion dollars. Here we go again. He continues to defy gravity and catches another lucky break.


ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's one way to look at it, Jim.


LOUIS: Another way to look at it is that close to a quarter of a billion dollars of his -- in his company's fortune is now wrapped up in litigation. And we're not done yet. So, the toll that this is taking on him, both personally and politically, I think is enormous.

This is not somebody who wanted to have to go out and use PAC money, political action committee money, to pay his legal expenses. But that's just what's happening to the tune of six million dollars last month alone. So, I think we're going to start to see some knock-on effects from all of this stuff.

He's done one, I believe public event -- one public campaign event, since locking up the nomination. Why? Because he's tied up in all of these court cases.

ACOSTA: Yes. well, you know, Karen, I mean, I saw the backlash almost immediately on social media when this ruling came down, that he only asked to come up with $175 million. A lot of folks -- a lot of Democrats feel like there are two tiers -- two-tier systems of justice here, and that Trump benefits a great deal from catching these delays and breaks and so on from the legal system.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, absolutely. And it's a pattern, particularly for New Yorkers that we have seen over and over and over again for decades for all kinds of cases. So, yes, there's a frustration.

At the same time, you know, it's clear he didn't want to have to use his own money. It's clear that he also could not come up with the money which undercuts you know, what he was saying on Truth Social over the weekend that I've got the cash and his whole persona, I think. So, I think that we have to recognize this is going to be cut two ways.

For some of his base, they're going to see it as you know, further -- you know, grievance, right, which he's no doubt pushing. And then for Democrats, and frankly, I think some moderates will say, well, he got another break, and -- but he's finally hopefully being held accountable for his actions.

ACOSTA: Yes. Alice, I mean, you know, one of the things that Trump has been able to do, and you and I've talked about this a number of times, is how he's been able to sort of get the base revved up overall these legal proceedings. And just this morning on Truth Social, he was posting a message from a follower of here is that compared him to Jesus, you know, on a day when he's in a court hearing related to this hush money case. I mean, this is -- this is right out of the Trump playbook.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is. And this is what he does to rally his base and get them more energized. And what he does is he mirrors the language he uses on Truth Social with fundraising e- mails. And I've been flooded with e-mail solicitations from the Trump campaign and his PAC for -- ever since these legal entanglements really heated up.

And it's similar rhetoric. He talks about this "being a witch hunt." He says this is unAmerican. He says that how dare they try and touch Trump Tower. He says look, this all started down the golden escalator and now they are trying to seize his property.

And what he is continuing to do, whether on Truth Social or in an effort to raise money is paint the picture that he is the victim of an overzealous Justice Department. As he walked into the courtroom today in New York for the hush money case, his one word was this was a hoax. And that's what he's telling his supporters out there.

And he has also suggested these are not the Alvin Bragg, the Fani Willis, Letitia James, Jack Smith cases. These are the Joe Biden trials that they are using to go after him because he is a major threat to the Biden administration. And that works for his base. It gets them ginned up. The question is how will this impact or move voters that are independent and undecided voters who are the critical voting electorate as we head into November? And that's the question. They need to quickly pivot from the courtroom to the campaign trail on issues that resonate with voters which are --


STEWART: Immigration, inflation, the economy, and national security.

ACOSTA: Yes. You know, Errol, I mean, one of the conventional wisdom, I suppose, through this entire Trump legal saga over the last year or so was that as he's been able to push these things off, that it's worked pretty well for him. But if he pushes all of these other cases besides the Alvin Bragg case past the election, and it's just the Alvin Bragg case, the hush money case, I'm not sure that's you know, going to work out so well, politically.

I mean, to have the sorted and unseemly details of that case playing out in front of, you know, the American people when there are independents, women voters in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia, outside of Detroit, outside of Atlanta. They're going to be tuning into this kind of stuff. And I can't imagine that's going to go over well with those kinds of voters.


LOUIS: Well, that's right, Jim, to the extent that we've seen a little bit of polling, there are some independents who have indicated that if he is found guilty of any criminal charge, they're going to really have a hard time voting for him. And that's what this is all about, really is, can Donald Trump enlarge his base? Not just hold on to his base. The base is going to support him no matter what.

But you know, the base wasn't enough to get him in -- a win in 2020, despite what they might -- they might want to believe. To get new voters based on a criminal conviction, very hard. The unseemly details, just as you say, I think are going to be a revelation for some people who maybe don't remember it or weren't paying attention to it.

And I think finally, it'll be very hard for him to make this argument, truthfully, that somehow this is connected to politics, that he lied about his affair with a porn star allegedly, in order to help somebody other than himself. I mean, that's just not what this was about.

ACOSTA: Yes. All right. Allegations that go back to before he won the presidency in 2016. That's how far back some of the elements of this legal saga go back. All right, guys, Alice, Karen, Errol, I got to hand things off to the next show. Thanks so much for being with me this morning.

And thank you for joining us in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta. Stay with CNN. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts right now after a short break.

We'll continue to cover Donald Trump. There he is at the courthouse in lower Manhattan. Let's listen in to what he has to say.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can you see that? I just released a statement on Truth. Businesses are fleeing and crime is flourishing all over the state. And what he's done is such a disservice and should never be allowed to happen again.

New York State is being battered by his decision. So, I greatly respect the decision of the Appellate Division. And I'll post either $175 million dollars in cash or bonds or security or whatever is necessary very quickly within the 10 days. And I thank the Appellate Division for acting quickly.

But Judge Engoron is a disgrace to this country. And this should not be allowed to happen. Thank you very much.


ACOSTA: All right, there you heard Donald Trump right there going after the judge as he's done time and again, in that civil fraud case. But he did comment on catching a break there and having to only pay $175 million in the next 10 days as opposed to a half billion dollars after the appeals court lowered that bond amount.

Stay with CNN. We're going to have more on all of this in just a few moments with the "INSIDE POLITICS." It starts after a short break. Have a great day everybody.