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Erin Burnett Outfront

Trump Brawls With Witness Michael Cohen, Hours Before A Hearing On Whether He Violated Gag Order And Could Face Fines, Jail; Russia Seizes On Marjorie Taylor Greene's Push Against Ukraine Aid; Melanie Trump Selling Mother's Day Necklace For $245. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 22, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Opening day of Trump's trial and it's getting ugly fast. Name-calling, insults-flying between Trump and what will be a star witness, Michael Cohen. This as the first witness as starting to testify. Will David Pecker help Trump's case?

Plus, Russia's new "It" girl. State television now fawning over Marjorie Taylor Greene even though she tried but failed to sink American aid to Ukraine. Hear what they are saying tonight about, quote-unquote, Moscow Marjorie.

And Melania Trump now selling more jewelry. Is it to help her husband pay his legal fees?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with Trump's trials spilling out of the courtroom on a day when the prosecution and defense laid out their cases for the first time to 12 jurors and the six alternates in the room. And it's on this momentous day, the former President Trump and his former fixer, Michael Cohen, are now in a free for all.

Now, it did actually start in the courtroom. It was during opening statements, Trump was watching as his lawyers were tearing into the key witness. They said, quote, his entire financial livelihood depends on President Trump's destruction, referring to Cohen.

So that was all in the courtroom. But then after court, when Trump walked out and he could speak to the public, he said this about Cohen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether they're going to look at all the lies that Cohen did in the last trial. He brought lying in the last trial. So, he got caught lying, pure lying.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Well, moments later, Cohen firing back. Hey, Von expletive in pants, your attacks of me stink of desperation. We are all hoping that you take the stand in your defense.

This public spat between a key witness and the defendant is remarkable in a court and Trump, of course, is under a gag order, forbidden to speak about any witnesses in the trial. But this public brawl breaking out just hours before Trump is back in court, face-to-face with the judge, Juan Merchan, for hearing on gag order violations he faces fines and of course violations could ultimately put them in jail.

So this is really serious stuff, and it comes as witnesses are already taking the stand. The prosecutors' first witness was actually Trump's longtime personal friend and the former chief of the "National Enquirer", David Pecker. He was on the stand today for a brief 40 minutes, and he will be on the stand tomorrow and its going to be much more extensive. We just barely started there.

Pecker is at the center of the hush money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels at the heart of this case. Now, Trump will be there for all of that testimony as he is required to be every single day of this trial. Now, you know, we've heard him so many times complained before the court dates are keeping him off the campaign trail, that he has to be in the courtroom and is prevented from being in Iowa, or whoever, wherever it is, except for it has not been true until now.

Now, he is required to be there and it comes as the stakes are rising. The national poll tonight showing Biden gaining steam in the national poll, and that has Trump concerned.


TRUMP: This is what took me off and takes me off the campaign trail because I should be in Georgia now. I should be in Florida now. I should be a lot of different places right now campaigning.


BURNETT: Of course, as our Kristen Holmes reports, context matters here on a normal week prior to this trial, Trump was only campaigning two days out of seven.

Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live outside the courthouse, where you, of course, have been spending the day and I know sitting with you for part of the day, Paula, texting nonstop with your sources on those legal teams.

What more can you tell us about what happened in that courtroom?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this was the first time in the history of our country that a jury was sworn in to hear criminal allegations about a former president of the United States and today, their first day on the job, they heard these dueling narrations about events that transpired roughly eight years ago.


TRUMP: What's going on right here should never be happening. Its a very, very sad day in America.

REID (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump's criminal trial kicked off today with jurors hearing competing accounts of why a hush money payment was made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, just weeks before the 2016 election.

Matthew Colangelo laid out the prosecutors' theory of the case, which he said is about election fraud, pure and simple. He says it all started with a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower between Trump, his former attorney, Michael Cohen, and the former publisher of the "National Enquirer", David Pecker.


The government alleges Pecker agreed to use the "Enquirer" to help Trump's campaign by buying and suppressing negative stories about him and by amplifying stories that were favorable to him. Prosecutors allege the salacious "Access Hollywood" tape unearthed just before the 2016 election was significant because it turned the rest of the presidential campaign entirely upside down.

TRUMP: When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, TV HOST: Whatever you want.


REID: They alleged that once the tape became public, Trump's campaign went into damage control mode, worried about what an allegation of an bear with adult film star might do, Trump and Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to keep Stormy Daniels quiet, just two weeks before the election.

That's the case as to book-keeping, which is a very minor thing in terms of the law.

TRUMP: And this is what they dry I take me off the trail forum, that checks being paid to a lawyer, he's a lawyer or was a lawyer.

REID: In the defense's opening statement, attorney Todd Blanche argued his client is innocent, saying President Trump did not commit any crimes and call the 34 counts of falsifying business records against him just pieces of paper.

Blanche directly responded to the allegations of election fraud, saying there's nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It's called democracy.

The defense then attack likely witnesses, Daniels and Cohen. Blanche called Daniels allegation but a fair sinister and an attempt to embarrass President Trump. He then shifted to Trump's former lawyer Cohen, who he says this, quote, obsessed with Trump, and that Cohen's financial livelihood depends on Trumps destruction. David Pecker was the first witness to be called. Shortly before he took the stand, prosecutors referred to him as a coconspirator for helping Trump tried to cover up his alleged affair.


REID: Well, tomorrow, before the jury returns to the courtroom, there'll be a hearing about the gag order in this case. Prosecutors alleged that Trump has violated this gag order over a half a dozen time. And this gag order prevents Trump from attacking people involved in this case, like witnesses and the jury. He is also barred from attacking family members of the prosecutors and the judge, though, he can freely attack the judge or the district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Now, after that hearing, the jury will come back in the courtroom and David Pecker will be back on the stand -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Paula, thank you very much there in Lower Manhattan.

And our experts are all here on set together right now.

So, Joey Jackson, let me start with you. Opening statements are crucial, I mean, in some senses for many jurors, they'll say that's what made up their mind, right? Here at the beginning. And then that becomes confirmation on what they heard when the witnesses go. So this matters a lot.

So, let's start with the prosecution. They go, first, prosecution lawyer goes for 46 minutes. So, I'm just going to pick one line, but it was 46 minutes.

One operative line from the transcript, Donald Trump orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election. Then he covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again.

Did they do a good job?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I thought so for a number of reasons. Let's talk about that. To your point, Erin, I think opening statements are simply a preview of what the evidence will show, but you have to maintain credibility and giving that indication to the jury. Most good lawyers will do with the prosecution did do on the defense, in some measure, which is under-promise and over-deliver.

And I think what the prosecution's point of view was and they said it in terms of your theory of the case, conspiracy and a cover up. Now, conspiracy is not charged. That has legal significance. Conspiracy to more people engaging in illegal acts. But it kind of is, and here's why.

What happens is, is that from the prosecutions' perspective, this was part of an enterprise orchestrated by Trump to interfere with the election. And how did they do that? They did that by virtue this payment that was indeed reimbursement says the prosecution and they had nothing to do with a retainer agreement and then they talk about the cover up, right?

And so I think to the extent that they put that narrative out there, they being the prosecution, they did their job and wrapping up what they're going to show over and over, 34 four times again, as to these fraudulent business records and the intent and purpose which was to interfere with the election.

BURNETT: And 34 because obviously there was a payment to Stormy Daniels and that which Michael Cohen says he made, or he did make, and then Trump, this is how that reimbursement was broken up.


So, we've got every single one of those checks. There's a former prosecutor in the southern district of New York, you really understand the players and what's at stake here. So this conspiracy that they're trying to talk about here with Trump, they say it all begins with a meeting with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump, and David Pecker, three individuals that were talking about today.

Before Trump even announced the campaign, and they say, in this opening statement that they, quote, form a conspiracy at that meeting to influence the presidential election by concealing negative information about Mr. Trump in order to get him elected. And then they continue, and this was interesting: We will never know, and it doesn't matter if this conspiracy was the difference maker in a close election. Obviously, this all came to fruition two weeks before the election. After that, grab them by the pee tape and you had this Stormy Daniels revelation which we didn't know about at the time because of all of this.

Did they do a good job?

SARAH KRISSOFF, FORMER U.S. PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Listen, I think they have -- their purpose here is to present this roadmap and to present a few themes that the jurors are going to take with them throughout this trial. Frankly, I think the research shows that jurors really don't retain much more than those few central themes. So they need to hit those particular themes over and over again.

I think the prosecution had to explain the "why". I mean, the "what" is really not in question, both sides sort of agreed to some of the basic facts of what happened here, but they had to explain the "why". And they did that effectively. I think 46 minutes was probably too long. I doubt they had the attention for that long, and they probably could have done it in half that time.

BURNETT: Well, 46 minutes does sound like a long time, you know? When you tell people we're giving your best man speech or whatever, you know, you say shorter is better.

JACKSON: In this case though, Erin, I mean, 46 minutes. I wish I could keep my openings to 40 minutes. There's a lot to get out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. JACKSON: I think it was short in the context of, you know, what they had to explain.

BURNETT: All right. So, Jeremy, you were there. So what was Trump's reaction during the prosecutions opening statement and said this point about being 46 minutes, how engaged was he throughout?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: What was most interesting with the premise former president was just how much he was not reacting to what was going on. You know, we had the prosecutor, we had Matthew Colangelo. He was bringing up a lot of illicit things that Trump is alleged to have done.


HERB: He brought up the affair with a Playboy playmate, the affair with a porn star. He brought up the "Access Hollywood" tape and throughout all of that, Trump was not reacting. It was sitting back in his chair, his eyes would close to time to time and I think its felt like he was making a point not to react.

You would pass notes to his attorneys. He was there a sort of a note passing thing. In particularly, when the "Access Hollywood" tape we noted him and Todd Blanche were sending notes between the two of them, but its obviously different than what we've seen Trump in other courtrooms and even earlier in this case. That morning -- in the morning, we had -- we talked about what the prosecutors would be able to bring into evidence if Trump testifies.

And when the judge said that he would allow him to ask about the civil fraud verdict that came earlier this year, Trump shook his head at that. This was before the jury came in. With the jury in there today as these things were being brought up, Trump was very stoic in this.

BURNETT: Interesting. So it's almost as if he really does know that is the audience now that matters.

HERB: It seems -- it certainly seems that way, yeah.

BURNETT: Which is fascinating.

So, Stacy, you're a criminal defense attorney, and, of course, you were a former contestant in "The Apprentice", so you -- I mean, you've got both a personal and a professional perspective on this. What did you see on the prosecution?

STACY SCHNEIDER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. So I saw it was a smooth and solid opening statement, but I think they missed a really big opportunity Michael Cohen is the elephant in the room in this case. And he's got prior conviction. He pled guilty in 2018 in federal court, among other charges to illegal campaign contributions. And he said out loud in court, I did this at the direction of Donald Trump. And that admission is the key of this case.

And I think the prosecution should have honed down on that here and brought out to the jury. They said to them here all the bad things Michael Cohen did. We're letting you know now, but you're going to see at the end of the case that you should credit his testimony in this courtroom.

And what they missed out doing is saying to the jury, people don't plead guilty to things they didn't do. So, Michael Cohen is going to be believable. He took a three-year jail sentence for this alleged scheme. Trump is saying it's an alleged scheme. Michael Cohen was saying it happened.

So, they could have tackled the beast because Trump is going to come out and say immediately, Michael -- Trump's lawyers. And when Michael Cohen gets on the stand and cross examination, you're a liar. You're convicted liar. You've lied over and over again.

And the D.A. needs to have Michael Cohen say, which he will its part of his testimony. I may have lived at other times, but I'm not lying here because I pled guilty to doing this. I didn't even go to trial. Yeah, why did I admit that?

BURNETT: It is crucial that that sentence --


JACKSON: The one point I would make to that is I think they strategically in my view, avoided that, and I think there were two reasons that they did.


Excellent point you make and I get, but I think they were in that room fighting, should we, should we? I think the first reason is you don't want to put over-reliance upon his testimony. Yes, he's the elephant in the room, but we're going to prove this case not because of Michael Cohen.

And the second thing is I think there'll be able to prove it up with other witnesses. With text messages, with emails, with audios that are not relying upon him.

BURNETT: So he doesn't down the center of it.

JACKSON: Correct. So I think they strategically wanted to pivot such that it's not all about Michael Cohen, so when he is ravaged, which he will be in his perjurer, you lied to Congress, you lied here, they're going to be like, so? What about the emails? What about the text messages?

BURNETT: That's right.

JACKSON: What about the audio? What about everything else? That's why we're not relying upon Michael Cohen.

BURNETT: Which is going to be fascinating, which, what else they do bring to your point.

And Michael Cohen, when I've talked to me, he says they do have all that other information that he views himself in a sense as additive, not -- not the only way that you would get to this conclusion. So --

SCHNEIDER: They do, but I'm sorry. I was just going to say that the linchpin in this case are the payments to Michael Cohen as an attorney.


SCHNEIDER: And those clips we just had a Trump's press conference today when he came out of chord, he's previewing to the world, this is what my attorneys are going to be saying. This is all worked out behind the scenes before we go to court, he's saying Michael Cohen was an attorney. It was very odd that he said that today, Michael Cohen, it was an attorney, he submitted in an invoice and they put the payment to him on the books.

When he said they, I think he was referring to the Trump Organization so he could distance himself like he knew nothing about this. The problem with Donald Trump doing that is -- and this is in the indictment and the D.A. said this in their opening the statement, Donald Trump signed the checks to Michael Cohen and allegedly, they came out of the Donald J. Trump account.

So the whole press conference was a bit of a -- I think a PR disaster because it's going to hurt him in court eventually, and so the jury.

BURNETT: And he came out, and he does that eight minutes, Jeremy, talking, of course, in the courtroom. What else stood to you? I -- stopped you. I know you mentioned that he was passing notes to his attorneys at time, that he was engaged. You know, what were -- what were his interactions like with his team and with the jury?

HERB: Yeah. It's interesting because when his attorney, Todd Blanche, went to speak, Trump's demeanor, it shifted. He turned his chair, he faced he faced him, which made him faced the jury, and he watched Blanche as he went through his opening statement.

I think the most interesting thing with Trump today that was when David Pecker took the stand because Trump, he was sitting very motionless, expressionless, really watching David Pecker closely. And there was a light moment in his testimony where he was asked to recount the last four digits of his cell phone number. It's for record keeping purposes, but he fumbled with the answer and it caused a laugh.

David Pecker, he led out this very big laugh that caused laughter in the courtroom and Trump, his attorneys were laughing, but he was sitting there expressionless, lets just stone face forward, looking at the witness.

BURNETT: So I'll give you a final word on that. What do you make of that? I mean, he is well aware now that everything went -- you know, I'm sure he's well aware of every comment people make on Twitter about what he did, whether he fell asleep or anything like that. This seems to be that he is -- when he turns to the jury, what he looks like very calculated. KRISSOFF: Yeah. I mean, if his lawyers are doing their job correctly,

they are coaching him on that part of it. And they are doing everything they can to try to control his demeanor, his facial expressions, his utterances, his note passing, all of that stuff in the courtroom. There -- they will not be able to do that outside of the courtroom, but they're doing the best job they can to control that within the courtroom.

BURNETT: Right. And clearly, he's decided to his interests for now, right? If he gets to be, quote/unquote, controlled.

All right. Thanks all of you very much.

And next, Trump once said the publisher of the "National Enquirer", David Pecker, should win a Pulitzer for his work. Next, we have a special report in the long relationship between Trump and Pecker, which is so central at this hour.

Also OUTFRONT, Pecker's former close colleague, what he says Pecker will do on the stand tomorrow.

Plus, Marjorie Taylor Greene getting the celebrity treatment in Russia. What they are saying tonight about, quote, Moscow Marjorie.

And new pictures tonight from Yale University where hundreds of pro- Palestinian protesters are gathering these massive protests are now getting increasingly intense and disruptive as we see them this hour.



BURNETT: Tonight, you should be president. People love you. That is what David Pecker, the former "National Enquirer" chairman, says he used to tell Donald Trump every time he'd see him, years before Trump ran for office. Now, Pecker's being called a coconspirator by the prosecutor and finds himself staring at his longtime friend, Donald Trump, from across the courtroom as a first witness in the hush money trial, called by the prosecution.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT in a decades-long relationship between and Trump that benefited both men.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than just friends from back in the '90s, more than fellow New Yorkers on a quest for power and fame, David Pecker and Donald Trump were for decades a match made in media heaven.

So how did it all come to this?

TRUMP: I don't think they even paid any money to that tabloid. Okay? I don't think we made a payment to that tabloid. Nobody except for me would be looked at like this. Nobody. FOREMAN: For a long time, the relationship was good for both men. Trump gave Pecker's "National Enquirer" access to his fame, the tabloid gave him headlines. Trump catches Russia's White House spy. Trump must build the wall. Trump takes charge.

The paper gave him its first endorsement ever for president, Trump returned the favor.

TRUMP: I've always said, why didn't the "National Enquirer" get the Pulitzer Prize for Edwards and O.J. Simpson, and all of these things?

FOREMAN: With slashing and burning enthusiasm, Pecker relentlessly posted false stories about political foes while reportedly suppressing embarrassments for Trump, like the time First Lady Melania appear to slap his hand away on a foreign trip, but those who studied the two men did not see an equal relationship.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, LEGAL ANALYST: Pecker really looked up to Donald Trump, still does.


And he put his very important magazines to work for Donald Trumps interests.

FOREMAN: Then some big names said Pecker went too far. In 2019, business mogul Jeff Bezos, for example, said Pecker threatened to release compromising photos of him unless Bezos publicly refuted claims that the "Enquirer" was improperly playing politics.

Pecker's lawyers called it negotiation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It absolutely is that extortion and not blackmail.


FOREMAN (on camera): But Pecker's friendship with Trump has already unraveling. Pecker had himself admitted to prosecutors his clandestine efforts to help Trump.

He struck a deal admitting involvement in the alleged hush-money scheme. And now, the two old friends are reportedly not speaking at all -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT now, Stu Zakim. He was a senior communications executive at AMI, worked closely with Pecker.

So, Stu, you know, this is so interesting as Tom is saying, now reports are they're not speaking. But, you know, Pecker was called, of course, by the prosecution as their first fitness, but the context friends, with Trump for decades and today, he did say, hi to Trump's table as he left the stand.

Do -- what do you read into all this? What do you read into that when it comes to Pecker's crucial testimony on Trump?

STU ZAKIM, WORKED WITH DAVID PECKER: Well, David Pecker is very unique individuals that he focuses on what is good for David Pecker, and he fully recognized that the eyes of the media, were on him, any interaction with Trump while he was testifying. And so he couldn't help himself knowing him not to say hi, and smile at Trump and leave the ball in Trumps court to respond, which he didn't.

BURNETT: No, he didn't, and, you know, and that -- and that in and of itself is fascinating.

So you say, just as the context that is so crucial here in terms of what Pecker is going to be saying on the stand tomorrow, Pecker and Trump, you've described to us as, quote/unquote, clones. Tell me what you mean, Stu?

ZAKIM: Well, they operate very similarly. Just says, Trump has been renowned as we saw during his eight years, unfortunately, as president, he pitted a lot of his colleagues in a circle against each other. He would say one thing to one and say one thing to the other and see how they communicated.

Well, David Pecker operates the same way. I don't want to use the word bully, but that's totally does apply to how he operates and as his communications head, I was there for a lot of those game-playing that went down.

So, it's no surprise to me clearly that these guys have been friends forever. They feed off of each other. They offer each other benefits that wouldn't occur in any other relationship, and now, we have a situation where David Pecker made a deal with the Southern District of New York to testify so that he would not be held responsible for the role that the "Enquirer" and AMI title as a whole played during the 2016 election and helping Trump get elected.

BURNETT: All right. So as we're trying to -- you know, obviously, he had just started today. It was really just a few minutes of testimony. It's really going to be tomorrow. So, the prosecution in the brief time today, brought up a couple of items with Pecker, Stu, and I don't know if you saw these, but I'm curious what you think. They established that he had an email account.

ZAKIM: Yes, I did.

BURNETT: That he used for work, that he didn't tell his assistant about and they went through a series of phone numbers to see if he recalled them, including some of his own with a couple of errors he did.

When you take a look at just those two little threads that they started to put out there, what are you expected to hear from Pecker tomorrow?

ZAKIM: Well, I think he's going to actually take the -- unveil the magic, like the wizard of Oz. Let me take you behind the curtain and show you what went down, once again due to the deal he made, which I'm aware of the specifics, but however, can only project with the Southern District of New York, to avoid being held responsible. He's going to tell everything.

And as much as people were predicting that Michael Cohen testimony is going to be really influential. I think once people really see the extent that David used the properties of American media, not -- not just the Enquirer, but the AMI owned a lot of other tabloid titles. Not only that they own distribution and positioning at newsstands.

So you can imagine if you're a commuter, and you're walking through grand central reported authorities or an airport and all the magazines are lined up. And you're going to see the image. Whatever Pecker decided to put on that cover, and as he said today, the cover was totally his responsibility. And I sat through many of those cover meetings and I can definitely say that was accurate.


But the impact visually, not that people are going to pick up the magazine or read, and that's why the cover is so important. But if you walk by and you see six or seven covers in a row that basically reinforce the same message that is on "The Enquirer" as the lead. It doesn't matter if you are pro or con, that image is going to resonate with you somehow.

And that is the power that David Pecker offered Trump to squash stories that he would feel were negative towards him or give him a heads up. And that's where we see what happened with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and a lot of other stories as a result of that.

BURNETT: That's really fascinating what you just laid out about the psychology of the supermarket. I think we can all relate when you walk, you do see the same thing or the lack of the same thing what that does to our psyche, whatever you think about a story.

Well, Stu, thank you very much. I appreciate it. I'm so glad to talk to you.

ZAKIM: Well, thank you for having, Erin. And I just want to say one thing, as we celebrate Passover tonight, I want to make sure everyone knows we are keeping the hostages from Hamas in our hearts, and hope that they all are safe.

BURNETT: All right. So, thank you very much.

And next, Russian state television going all in on what, unquote, Moscow Marjorie, heaping praise on the Republican congresswoman for siding with Putin.

Plus, Trump ignoring questions today about where his wife Melania is as she reportedly called the trial a, quote, disgrace. Melania Trump's former chief of staff will be OUTFRONT.


[19:35:28] URNETT: Tonight, Moscow Marjorie getting airtime in Russia. Kremlin propaganda showcasing Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in a big way, as she fights tooth and nail against aid to Ukraine.

Russia seething tonight as that aid appears to be headed to Ukraine as early as later this week.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT tonight in Kyiv.



FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Russian troops advancing in a heavy firefight in Eastern Ukraine.

This video from Russian military TV claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers having to surrender Ukraine's howitzers often unable to support their frontline units, severely lacking 155 millimeter artillery shells.

But now, they hope that will change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We'll defend ourselves and counter.

PLEITGEN: Kremlin-controlled media seething after the House passed the Ukraine aid bill while praising Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for trying to derail it.

Leading former Republican Congressman Ken Buck to give her the nickname of "Moscow Marjorie" on OUTFRONT.

FORMER REP. KEN BUKC (R-CO): And Moscow Marjorie is focused now on this Ukraine issue and getting her talking points from the Kremlin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who "New York Post" already dressed in ushanka hat with a star officially putting her in the ranks of Kremlin agents called Speaker Johnson a Democrat elected by Ukraine.

Greene also said that Johnson betrayed not only Republicans, but the whole of the USA. Nonetheless, the U.S. military aid will be bigger this year compared to the past two years. And of course, there was nothing good in that.

PLEITGEN: Russia's foreign minister going even further threatening nuclear confrontation.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Westerners are teetering dangerously on the brink of a direct military clash between nuclear powers fraught with catastrophic consequences, particularly that its the troika of Western nuclear states that are among key sponsors of the criminal Kyiv regime.

PLEITGEN: Ukraine is in desperate need of lots of artillery ammo, Kyiv says, badly outgunned by Vladimir Putin's forces, but also, air defense missiles with Russia drastically escalating its missile and drone campaign against Ukraine's cities and power plants.

Ukraine's president saying he's grateful for the aid, but the weapons need to come fast.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): It's the time between political decisions and inflicting real defeats on the enemy at the front, between the approval of the aid package and providing the strength to our guys, this should be reduced to a minimum.

PLEITGEN: And Ukrainians hope U.S. aid will arrive quickly and change the tune on the battlefield, allowing Kyiv's forces to stop further Russian advances.


BURNETT: And, Fred, of course, you're in Kyiv and you have been there through this as Ukraine has been just desperately hoping and saying their deed for U.S. assistance now for months and months.

Now it looks like they can finally get it. What about that point Zelenskyy was making? Does it come fast enough? Is this too little too late?

PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, it's no secret for the Ukrainians that right now, the Russians definitely are pressing, Erin.

It's happening on the eastern front. It's happening on the southern front as well. If you look at the eastern front, for instance, there's that town of Chasiv Yar, which is near Bakhmut, which of course we reported on so much in the past years, really with a Russians, are -- have entered that town actually already, and are fighting for it right now.

So, certainly for the Ukrainians, it's a desperate situation right now but none of these Russian gains have been strategic yet. They don't have any main towns yet. They don't have any larger cities yet. And the Ukrainians do say, if that aid comes in when that aid comes, that they believe that they're going to be able to hold the Russians up and possibly reverse the tide and maybe even launch a counter offensive of their own -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much, live in Kyiv, as we said tonight.

And right now, I want to show you some live pictures from Columbia University. Pro-Palestinian protesters are gathering right now as I speak. Tensions have been boiling over on some college campuses in this country over the Israel-Hamas war. Protesters camping out in tents there, at Yale, nearly 50 students were arrested late today.


Isabel Rosales is OUTFRONT from Yale tonight. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was assaulted in the middle of campus. This is an actual crisis and an imminent threat.

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tensions boiling over at Columbia and other top universities like MIT, NYU, and Yale, where at least 45 protesters camping on college grounds were arrested early this morning by the Yale University police department.

Yale University releasing a statement saying the university would not tolerate behavior that interfered with university operations or threatened, harassed, or intimidated others.

The arrest on college campuses coming as verbal confrontations between pro-Palestinian protesters and Jewish students have escalated into physical ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend on Saturday night was full-blown assaulted. He had -- he was shoved around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend, had it -- was -- a flag stolen out of his hands and rock thrown at his face.

ROSALES: Columbia Monday, resorting to canceling in-person classes and calling for a reset to de-escalate the rancor.

A rabbi linked to the university urging Jewish students to stay a home, saying the events have made it clear that Columbia University's public safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students safety.

The hostilities at Columbia growling for months alongside peaceful protesters camping in this tent city, the encampment and the fear drawing criticism from business leaders like New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, who says, he will no longer be donating to his alma mater though he financially supports the Jewish Hillel on campus.

ROBERT KRAFT, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS OWNER: I just can't believe in New York City, at Columbia University Jewish students are afraid to go to classes.

ROSALES: The rebuke coming amid calls for action from congressional leaders who toured the Columbia campus today.

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): That is unacceptable for a university. That is unacceptable for an academic institution. And all universities have an obligation to maintain the safety and security of their students from all backgrounds.

ROSALES: The NYPD saying they're prepared to enter Columbia's campus if they're called in and pointing to the heavy police presence just outside Columbia's gates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any kind of violence is not going to be tolerated, and that includes harassment.


ROSALES (on camera): And, Erin, let me give you a sense of the demonstrators movement on campus that we've seen throughout the day, of course, starting early this morning. We saw those tensions just reaching a boiling point between demonstrators and police officers who asked them to disperse. And those that didn't at a university plaza, just under 50 of them were arrested.

Now, that area just in that direction has been blocked off with yellow tape. They are now gathered here in front of the library chanting and singing.

BURNETT: All right. Isabel, thank you very much. As I said, on the campus of Yale tonight.

And next, Melania Trump back to selling jewelry. This time a necklace a couple of hundred dollars. What's it four?

Plus, the Trump courtroom sketch artist who drew this sketch is next, and she's going to tell you why this moment stood out to her so unusual.



BURNETT: Tonight, Donald Trump, ignoring questions about Melania as he made his way into court.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.

REPORTER: Mr. Trump, what was it like hearing the "Access Hollywood" tape?

REPORTER: Are you worried about Stormy Daniels testifying against you?

REPORTER: Where's Melania?


BURNETT: Melania has avoided the courtroom completely thus far, privately calling the trial, quote-unquote, disgrace, and that's according to "The New York Times".

OUTFRONT now, Stephanie Grisham, the former Trump White House press secretary and Melania's former chief of staff, and Elizabeth Williams, the sketch artists in the courtroom with Donald Trump today as she has been other days, we've had the honor of speaking to Elizabeth.

BURNETT: Stephanie, let me start with you on the core of this, the Stormy Daniels situation. You spent a lot of time with Melania when the news was breaking about Stormy and you said this was very embarrassing for her? That was before we found out today that David Pecker has a private email account, but could have even more embarrassing details about Donald Trump himself.

Is she prepared for that right now?

STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can guarantee she is watching every ounce of coverage. And with that came out, it piqued her interest.

Melania is very much about proof, show proof. And so, if some more damaging stuff should come out that she didn't know about because of course her husband continues to deny all of the details here about Stormy, especially, if some other stuff comes out, I think that'll be really interesting to watch because you can't really dispute things that are in writing. And that's something she always paid quite a bit of attention to was -- was proof.

BURNETT: Right. And we don't know, for example, what's in that email account. That was one thing dangled out by the prosecution.

When it comes to David Pecker, though, Elizabeth, you were in the room today and you are watching when he took the stand, Trump is there. You actually brought your as I say, first draft if history your drawing and it shows Trump's avid focus here on David Pecker.


BURNETT: We can hold it up while you're -- while you're talking. Yeah.

WILLIAMS: When David Pecker came into the courtroom, Donald Trump looked at him as he walked in and walked in-between the defense table in the prosecution table and took the stand.

And from that time, he was razor focused on Mr. Pecker and indeed, you can see he's sitting up on almost on the edge of his seat.

BURNETT: Edge of his seat, if we can see it here and I know --

WILLIAMS: Okay? Where as these other attorneys sitting behind, he's very, very focused on this, which was a complete contrast to what he was doing in the morning where he had its eyes closed during the judges ruling, and the judges instruction to the jury.


So it's quite an interesting comparison, contrast to the day. So that's why when I saw this, and Pecker's a very important witness.

BURNETT: He is. You know, as Stephanie saying, I mean, central to this, and amazing when you see this, what it's really about the relationship between -- between these two men here.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BURNETT: So, you know, when we -- there's another sketch of yours I wanted to show today. I mean, this one was with Pecker, but there was another one that you drew where Trump's eyes are closed and you know, you sort of -- gosh, I feel like I'm looking at make me think of move here, what was happening in that moment?

WILLIAMS: Well, what was happening was the judge was explaining his ruling on the Sandoval order and whether --

BURNETT: It was in terms of whether testimony and other cases allowed in questioning of Trump.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. And Trump had his eyes closed, his head would sort of tilt back and forth. However, then I would notice that all of a sudden, he would hear something and he would snap to attention, take a piece, paper, writes something down in hand it to Todd Blanche.

So he really wasn't asleep, but he had his eyes close and he did the same thing through the opening statement of the prosecutor, he closed his eyes the entire time.

BURNETT: So, interesting, that seems to be from what you're saying a way that he's focusing.

WILLIAMS: I guess. But then when then his -- when his attorney gives his opening statement, he sits back, he looks towards the jury. He has a very different body language that point in time.

So, you know, I see that. I've seen that a lot with defendants. Defendants will tend to not want to look at the prosecutor when they make an opening statement. That's very typical.

And when their attorney makes the opening statement, they will then look towards them. But this was just so dramatic with I've never seen anybody close their eyes for all this period of time ever. And I've been doing this a long --

BURNETT: And then dash off a note, clearly paying attention.

And Stephanie, you say Melania, paying attention to this just. You know, to sort of juxtaposition of how they're spending their time. She's out now selling a new jewelry line, a necklace for Mother's Day, $245. She calls it, quote, her love and gratitude.

Nothing on the websites suggests that the money raised is going to charity or anything like that do. You have any sense what she could be selling the jewelry four? I mean, is this just money for herself? Money to raise money for the legal defense where Trumps been trying left and right and center to raise money? What's it for?

GRISHAM: So I try not to laugh at the thought that she would be raising money for his defense. I'm so sorry. That's absolutely not going to be it.

Number one, they're using so many people who are contributing, you know, to the president and to his president -- or the former president and to his campaign for those things. But she's doing it for herself.

You know, had I've been advising her, I would have said a couple of things. Number one, this is the first day of your husband's criminal trial and you're going to hawk some jewelry? Probably not a very good look.

And then yeah, I would have at least said, hey, are we going to give this to some kind of an initiative for children or -- you know, her mother did just pass. So perhaps absolute would go to some kind of -- whether it's Alzheimer's, cancers, something, some proceeds, but instead it just says, here you go, buy this for $245, you know?

And then another thing that you had said at the beginning of the -- of the -- your segment is that she finds this to be disgusting trial or I forget what the word is. But if that were the case, she would at least put that out on X. She would say something.

Melania Trump absolutely does what she wants to do. And if she felt this was a disgrace, she would say something.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you both very much. I appreciate it. Good to see you.

And next, a politician seeking the presidency accused of making a hush money payment meant to a woman to secure her silence for their affair. Wait, are we leading our show? Oh, wait. No, no, this is a totally different case from back in the past.

It's not Trump. It's John Edwards and what John Edwards case says right now could be crucial for Trump's.



BURNETT: Tonight, a political star has an affair and tries to cover it up.

Jessica Dean is OUTFRONT.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump claims the prosecution against him in the hush money trial is unprecedented.

TRUMP: This is an assault on America. Nothing like this has ever happened before. There's never been anything like it.

DEAN: While it is true, Trump is the first former president to stand trial against criminal charges, another well-known politician had a similar story play out in the past.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): John Edwards obviously was prosecuted for the same thing and Justice Department failed, acquitted on one and mistrial on the others, but they decided not to proceed.

DEAN: In 2011, then failed Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards faced as six count indictment for allegedly accepting and using campaign contributions to cover up an extra affair and hide his mistress, and their child from the public while Edwards ran for president.

JOHN EDWARDS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: While I do not believe I did anything illegal or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong.

DEAN: The jury acquitted Edwards on one charge and split on the other five, leading the Justice Department to ultimately drop the case.

TRUMP: Well, it's election interference and it's got to stop. It's a third world country.

DEAN: Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal payments made to hide an alleged affair with an adult film star and influence the 2016 election. Trump denies the affair and has pleaded not guilty, but Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, swore under oath that he made the payments in order to affect the outcome of the election.

Cohen, though, was convicted of perjury in a separate case. The Edwards case had its own star witness, a close aide to the former senator who testified to helping Edwards keep that a fair secret, but prosecutors do not prove their claim. The cover up was about the election.

The woman with whom Edwards had the affair, Rielle Hunter, told CNN that Edwards did not want the truth to hurt his wife.

RIELLE HUNTER, JOHN EDWARDS' MISTRESS: The issues were, you know, internal family issues.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Trying to hide it from Elizabeth and the kids

HUNTER: Yeah, trying to hide it, trying not to hurt anybody. He didn't want to hurt Elizabeth, or his family.

DEAN: A key difference could be the timing of the alleged affairs and subsequent payoffs which might help spell out the payments' intent.

Edwards affair occurred during the 2008 campaign with at least one payment happening after the election was over, long after Edwards dropped out of the race.

In Trump's case, the alleged affair happened in 2006, years before he ran for president but the payoff is alleged to have been made just two weeks before the 2016 election.

TRUMP: This is political persecution.

EDWARDS: And this is about me.

DEAN: But perhaps the starkest difference is how each man reacted to their cases.

EDWARDS: There is no one else responsible for my sins, none of the people who came to court and testified are responsible. Nobody working for the government is responsible. I am responsible. TRUMP: This is really an attack on a political opponent. That's all it


DEAN: Jessica Dean, CNN, Washington.


BURNETT: And thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.