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Erin Burnett Outfront

Pecker Recounts Brokering Secret Deal At Center Of Trump Trial; Supreme Court Appears Poised To Delay Trump's Election Trial; USC Cancels Main Graduation Ceremony Amid Campus Protests. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 25, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Two crucial court hearings for former President Trump. In Manhattan, a former tabloid executive testifying today about working with Trump to kill stories that could, quote, hurt the campaign.

And the Supreme Court tonight signaling it could further delay Trump's January 6 case after the arguments today, exactly what Trump wants there. Trump's former White House lawyer Ty Cobb is here.

Plus, violent clashes on college campuses. Reports of Tasers and tear gas used on pro-Palestinian protesters, as a major university cancels its main graduation.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, a breathtaking day in the Trump trials. Two hugely consequential moments happening in two separate court rooms, two separate cities at the very same time.

Cross-examination beginning for the first key witness in Trump's criminal trial here in Manhattan and in Washington, the Supreme Court hearing, Trump's immunity claim happened as well. The former president is spending his day in that Manhattan courtroom as he's required to do. And on his way out, he noted the significance.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today was breathtaking in this room. You saw what went on. It was breathtaking.


BURNETT: Well, now, maybe he felt breathtaking good for him. There was plenty of breath-taking moments. Among them, Trump's former close friend, David Pecker, testifying for about five hours today because this third day on the stand. The photo of the two-minute the White House, which actually shown in an exhibit at court, this picture that you're looking at here, they use this to show the depth of their relationship, but it continued at the White House where Pecker said Trump brought him as a "thank you" dinner for helping him in the campaign.

Pecker providing salacious details on Trump's alleged affairs to prosecutors today dwell and then ending the day under cross- examination from Trump's attorney as Trump sat and watched with his arms folded across his body. And at the same time in Washington, they were three hours of arguments at the Supreme Court over whether Trump's claim he's immune from prosecution for acts he committed while president can stop jacks smiths case against him.

The court there appears poised to give Trump what he wants, which is another delay in that trial. We're going to have more on that breaking news coming up with the former Trump White House attorney Ty Cobb.

But first, Kara Scannell, outside the courthouse in Manhattan.

And, Kara, you and I spent a lot of time together today in Lower Manhattan. What do you expect when Pecker gets back on the stand tomorrow under cross-examination?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Trump's lawyers had about one hour of cross-examination with David Pecker. And in that time, David Pecker acknowledged that it was standard operating procedure for media companies to work with politicians but he also testified that he was at the heart of these deals and that he was involved with them and had many conversations with Michael Cohen.

So, David Pecker, serving as a narrator for the prosecution, taking the jury inside three of these catch-and-kill deals and testifying repeatedly that he was involved with them and help broker them to help Donald Trump's campaign.


SCANNELL (voice-over): New details on the hush money payout to adult film star Stormy Daniels from an ex-tabloid executive back on the stand recounting how he brokered a deal at the center of the case against former President Donald Trump.

David Pecker was questioned by the prosecution about the catch-and- kill scheme to quiet Daniel Story of an alleged affair with Trump weeks before the 2016 election. Pecker, the former publisher of the "National Enquirer", testified he found out from his editor in chief that Daniels was trying to sell a story that she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump, and it would cost $120,000 to kill it.

Pecker said he told Trump's attorney Michael Cohen about the story which he called very damaging. He recalled explaining to Cohen that he was not going to pay Daniel, saying his company already purchased two other negative stories for Trump totaling almost $200,000. He said he told Cohen, I am not purchasing this story. I am not going to be involved with a porn star. Cohen he recalled said the boss would be furious.

Trump denies having an affair with Daniels. Pecker also discussed in earlier scheme involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal. She alleged having a nearly year long relationship with Trump, which the former president denies.


Pecker told the jury he would not have entered into the deal with McDougal if it wasn't going to benefit Trump's campaign saying, we didn't want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrassed or hurt the campaign.

Trump's attorney, Emil Bove, used his time cross-examining Pecker to show how the mutually beneficial relationship between him and Trump went back almost two decades before the 2016 election.

He confirmed with Pecker that he had been giving Trump a heads-up about negative stories during that time. Bove asked Pecker if it was standard operating procedure for media to work with politicians, including sometimes to win elections. Pecker replied, yes.

TRUMP: Today was breathtaking in this room. You saw what went on, it was breathtaking and amazing testimony.

SCANNELL: Before court, Trump commented on Pecker's testimony at a stop at a midtown construction site. Prosecutors cited his words to the judge on Thursday as one of many violations of his gag order not to discuss witnesses in the case.

REPORTER: What have you thought of David Pecker's testimony so far?

TRUMP: No, he's been very nice. I think he's been -- David's been very nice and nice guy.


SCANNELL: Now the judge has set a hearing for Wednesday to hear additional arguments over whether Donald Trump did violate that gag order. Tomorrow, David Pecker will be back on the stand. Trump's lawyers will continue to cross-examine him. That could he could be on the stand for an additional several hours. All wrapping up this historic first week in this trial -- Erin.

BURNETT: Kara, thank you very much, outside that courthouse in Lower Manhattan.

And our OUTFRONT experts are now with us.

Stu Zakim, you worked for many years with David Pecker? And you heard Donald Trump praising him today. Now if you said he's attacked everybody else involved in the case, he praises Pecker, high praise, still friends. So what do you think is going on here?

STU ZAKIM, WORKED WITH DAVID PECKER: Well, I think that Trump as we know, is very smart with people. Pecker has so much on him that we haven't even scratched the surface on. If he went after Pecker the way he's gone after his other enemies, there's a very good chance Pecker who does not like to be cornered would strike back and say, well, you say this to me. I'm going to go out with this.

And so by being nice to him, he's trying to put that fire out before it even starts.

BURNETT: So, Jeremy, when you're in the courtroom and you were there and watched all of this Pecker testifying and you watch both under direct and cross and Donald Trump bridging those two sets of questioners to David Pecker.

You also were watching the greater all of this. How captivated were they? How intently were they focused on Pecker?

JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: You know, it's interesting. I made a point to make sure I was looking at the jury today when I was in the courtroom and several points, I'm just seeing pretty much every time I looked over there, they were interested, they were watching it. You describe it as a tennis match where you could see their faces go towards Pecker, toward Steinglass but towards above a kind of going back and forth between, the person doing the questioning and the person answering the questioning.

A lot of them, they had notepads there were taking notes. And so they certainly I think were into this testimony now, we should note this is the first witness. This is one of probably the more exciting witnesses that were going to see, you know, their testimony about porn stars and hush money deals and being inside the White House and tabloid matter.

BURNETT: But heads turning for each query, I mean, that is, that is deeply engaged.

HERB: Yeah. No, they were they were certainly, certainly paying attention and police for the most part, and keeping track of the action.

BURNETT: All right. So, Jeremy, what do you make of that? And also obviously in the context, you were former defense attorney, as well as -- now you're defense, but a former prosecutor in this office. So you've been in these rooms. What did you make of what we saw today?

JEREMY SALAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I thought it was relatively a decent day for the defense. Why is that? Because you have David Pecker, who is aid the foundation that ties everyone together saying this isn't the first time we have these catch and kill events. Even if that's the first term I used it or heard of it in this matter.

We had Schwarzenegger. We had we had Rahm Emanuel. You had some holes that he couldn't remember some dates and time, so maybe there's a little bit issue of his memory. So he was actually helpful to a certain extent for the defense, not as bad as, for example, Michael Cohen will probably bombastic and obviously I have an agenda. So, he is someone who is not adversarial, but can really help not just the prosecution, but also give some polls that holes and poking for the defense.

BURNETT: And maybe that's probably the reason Trump felt optimistic because he saw that part of it. SALAND: Why eliminate that person?

BURNETT: Now, Karen, that was one thing that David Pecker said, say there were a lot of things that were very ensued, but I know once stood out to you when we were sitting outside listening to all of this, watching it go across our screen. David Pecker testifies that at first Trump's focus on negative stories which as been pointed out, that there had been this catch and kill scheme in place, had been about his wife, his daughter, how he would be perceived, in his family.

But then Pecker says, after the campaign started, it shifted and quote, it was basically what the impact would be to the campaign in the election in black and white, the motive right there.

How significant is that one line?


KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's very significant because people thought that this case was going to rest on credibility of Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels who have their own issues. Really what David Pecker provided though, was this overall context that this was about the campaign. This was all about helping the campaign and he said over and over again during his testimony, they knew that that would be a campaign -- a federal election violation. It would be an in-kind contribution that they'd have to declare, and he knew they were committing a crime and there was a discussion of a text message that they're trying to get into evidence where David Peckers number two was saying -- well, if Trump wins, he'll pardon us because we've committed a federal election crime.

BURNETT: He'll pardon for us for federal election.

AGNIFILO: Yeah, because they knew that -- they knew that this was a crime.

BURNETT: Right. And that text they very much the prosecution wants and evidence and is dispute as to whether it will be entered into evidence.

Jeremy though mentioned as possibly something that could help the defense that one thing that Pecker laid out today was that he's done similar catch and kill deals for other politicians including Arnold Schwarzenegger. You worked for Pecker when Schwarzenegger ran for governor.

ZAKIM: And when he became governor.

BURNETT: Okay. So tell us what, what you know and how that fits with what we heard today.

ZAKIM: So there was a lot of noise made that for so Arnold was executive editor before he became governor of two of the muscle books that Pecker published, "Muslim & Fitness" and "Flex". How involved he was, who knows, but it was originally launched by

George Reader, who brought Arnold here from Austria in the first place. And Arnold always gave back and believed in that. And you do it inside letter like most editors do, in the first page, here's what's in the issue and all that. But they thought it was a conflict of interests for Arnold to be actively involved in the position, so he resigned his position very publicly at this event, and Arnold holds every year in Columbus, Ohio, the Arnold Classic, which is a bodybuilding event which in itself is a trip walking through that and Pecker comes on stage.

I introduce Pecker, and Pecker comes on stage and he's a showman. He's a real showman. And then it brings out Arnold. Crowd goes wild and then he says, Arnold, and were going to the -- congratulations on being governor and all that. We're so thrilled, you're still going to be connected, but with the magazines because we know so much a party you and as this competition shows that your life but you won't. We're not -- he's not going to pay Arnold says, I'm going to donate my salary to charity.

So "The Los Angeles Times" does a deep dive into this relationship because AMI, even though they weren't publicly traded stock, they were publicly traded bonds. So they had to do the same kind of reporting. And they found that a shell company and traced it back to Schwarzenegger. So he gets the money and then became obviously a major bone of contention in this piece to show the Arnold was trying to make money off of being governor the same way Trump made money being president.

So there was getting the goods on that was important.

BURNETT: And so some of this came up. I mean, Jeremy, you know, when you were in there watching Trump, David Pecker actually got a smile out of Trump, at one specific point when they're talking about this meeting in Trump tower kind of an unbelievable meaning to imagine happening. He got David Pecker, James Comey, and Donald Trump together at a table. I mean, it's the beginning of some kind of a punch line.

So tell us about the moment.

HERB: Yeah, this really does hit home. Just how much David Pecker was able to bring us into this world and how he was involved in Donald Trump's road. So he says, meeting happened after the election when Trump was president-elect. He went, but David Pecker should have going to Trump Tower. They're being all this security there.

Jared Kushner finds him on the street so men, and he comes in to Trump's office and there is FBI Director James Comey, Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, Mike Pompeo, his soon to be CIA director, and their briefing him on a serious issue on a shooting. But David Pecker walks in and he says that Donald Trump tells a joke, hey, this is David Pecker. He's the chairman of the "National Enquirer", and he probably knows more than all of you in here. What got the laugh was then Pecker said the other gentlemen, other and they didn't find it funny.

BURNETT: That nobody -- but Trump's --

HERB: But Trump smiled and the jurors and the court, those are in the court and the courtroom, how to laugh as well. So it was a funny moment. It was really the only time today that Donald Trump actually reacted to the testimony. I think we've seen throughout Peckers testimony, he really has tried not to react.

BURNETT: He has been very controlled.

SALAND: He's not allegedly nodding off, yes. That's what -- that's what we hear. But I'll also say what came out today, which was important is not just that this was done allegedly for other people, but that there was a relationship with the "Enquirer", and David Pecker is about far back as 1990, we'll call it fixing these stories far before for Donald Trump was the political icon.

So there's -- there's a history here. But to be clear, just because some other person does it and another and got away with it, for example, Rahm Emanuel was never prosecuted, does not mean that Donald Trump should not be just because one person stole, doesn't mean they got away with it, doesn't mean another person can do so.


So it holds some water, but it doesn't sort of -- it doesn't mean you're not guilty or there's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt better stated.

BURNETT: Of course, Trump says though, Karen, that this is proof just that people are purposely looking to find to get him.

AGNIFILO: Well, he also tried to cover it up through falsifying business records, right? Well, that's the charge here. He's charged with falsifying records, ultimately, the cover up part of it. So, yeah.

BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you all very much.

And next, Ronan Farrow on how the Trump trial could be affected by huge ruling today, overturning Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction in New York. Ronan has some new reporting and he will be with us to break that.

Plus, the Supreme Courts signaling it will reject Trump's claim that he's immune from charges in the January 6 case. But they could give him a huge boost to delaying his trial. So by how much? Clock is ticking, Ty Cobb is here.

And violent clashes tonight between protesters and police on college campuses. CNN now witnessing the arrest of two professors.



BURNETT: Breaking tonight, the special counsel Jack Smith's case against Trump in major jeopardy. The Supreme Courts signaling it will help Trump delay his election subversion trial even further after today's crucial arguments on presidential immunity, the justices signaled, signaled, they haven't ruled yet, they signaled that they want the lower court to sort through one by one, which of Trump's actions were considered official presidential duties and which were private, before making it decision on immunity, they wanted a specific as possible.

And this possible delay being signaled by the court coming is it appears justices will ultimately reject Trump's attempt to throw out this case on the basis of absolute immunity.


JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: My question is whether the very robust form of immunity that you're advocating is really necessary.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JOHNSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I'm trying to understand what the disincentive is from turning the Oval Office into the seat of criminal activity in this country.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Our Framers did not put an immunity clause into the Constitution. They knew how to. Wasn't the whole point that the president was not a monarch and the president was not supposed to be above the law?


BURNETT: So they're not buying immunity argument, but they're not looking like they're going to move on it quickly and make a ruling and move this January 6 case forward either.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT.

So, Evan, you know, I guess that's the confusing thing. It appears clear how they view it, but in this in the specifics of this case, they want to -- they want to be very narrow and specific. So if they in this immunity issue back to a lower court what does that happen? What does it do to the timeline?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the timeline is still very, very complicated. There's very, very little room for Judge Tanya Chutkan to maneuver, Erin, because were looking at a ruling likely at the end of this term for the Supreme Court, which ends typically at the end of June, it is possible they go into the first week of July, but here's the deal -- once they rule and if they ask the judge to go back and review the specific acts to determine which is an official act, which is not, then there might be more legal proceedings for her to oversee. There is also a possibility that Donald Trump will try to go back and try to appeal some of those decisions.

Now, it is very, very possible, still in the realm of possibility that Judge Chutkan could decide that there is -- that the acts that are at issue here are official acts. And but, you know, that there's still subject to this -- to this prosecution and that she wants to get a trial, get going by August, late August or early September. Again, that possibility remains. And so we will have to wait to see the way the justices right there order to know exactly how much room Judge Chutkan has to try to get this trial going very quickly before the election -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Evan, thank you very much, outside the Supreme Court.

And now, Ty Cobb, former Trump White House lawyer, he argued against Trump's claim of immunity and amicus brief filed before this went to the Supreme Court.

So, Ty, just to put this into simple -- simple terms that we all can understand, today's hearing win or loss for Trump?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: So I think it's -- it benefits Trump in the sense that it's almost certain that in this case will not get tried before the election, in my view. So it benefits him in that regard.

On the other hand, nothing that the justices are going to do is going to benefit his case other than the delay. Substantively, they will not buy the absolute immunity argument, they certainly don't by the impeachment judgment clause argument. In fact, I think Sauer's whole argument today to the extent is reflected in the ultimate opinion will only be reflected to the extent that he made the concessions that the bulk of the conduct alleged in the indictment is actually private acts.

BURNETT: It's private acts. All right. So there was a key moment for you, the Trump appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett was in a back-and- forth with the former president's attorney and basically talking about this issue, got him to admit that a lot of the actions after the 2020 election were not official presidential duties, so this is the moment where some of this played out.

Let me play it.


JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I want to know if you agree or disagree about the characterization of these acts as private.

Petitioner turned to a private attorney was willing to spread knowingly false claims of election fraud to spearhead is challenges to the election results. Private?

JOHN SAUER, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: As alleged, I mean, we dispute the allegation, but that sounds private to me.

BARRETT: Sounds private.

Petitioner conspired with another private attorney who caused the filing in court of a verification signed by petitioner that contained false allegations to support a challenge. [19:25:05]


SAUER: That also sounds private.

BARRETT : Three private actors to attorneys, including those mentioned above and a political consultant helped implement a plan to submit fraudulent slates of presidential electors to obstruct the certification proceeding and petitioner and a coconspirator attorney directed that effort.

SAUER: You read it quickly. I believe that's private.


BURNETT: And then later, he says Trump's phone call with the infamous one with the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, where he says, you know, find 11,708 votes. I just need one more, was not an official act. How big of a concession is all of this?

COBB: Those are all huge concessions and to the extent that this does get ultimately remanded to Judge Chutkan for additional findings that will fill her hand in terms of variability to move the case forward. I don't think the supreme court is focused so much on the actual Trump indictment as they are concerned about hamstringing for future presidents in terms of restraints on their ability to act officially without -- without fear of retribution by their successors.

BURNETT: It sounds like, you know what you're saying is, you know, where they're going to come out on this. It may be more specifically defined, but where they're going to come out on it is very different. Now may delay it, but it's very different than how Trump has defined this, right? Which is a very black and white issue of oh, if you are going to hold a president foreign president accountable for anything he did while in office. Nobody will want the office. It'll be completely robbed of all its power because there'll be afraid of being charged.

Here's how he makes that argument.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you don't have immunity, you're not going to do anything. You're going to become a ceremonial president because otherwise, you're going to be prosecuted after you leave office.


BURNETT: So that was just today ahead of the hearing.

Now, in the hearing Justices Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Roberts each said something that made me some have interpreted to potentially be supportive of what Trump said. Let me just play them all and then get your take on it. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: What would happen if it presidents were under fear, fear that their successors would criminally prosecute them for their acts in office.

JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Conspiracy to defraud the United States can be used against a lot of presidential activities historically, with creative prosecutor who wants to go after a president.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: You know how easy it is in many cases for a prosecutor to get a grand jury to bring an indictment.


BURNETT: But you do not interpret those three statements as supporting Trump's immunity argument?

COBB: Not at all. I think and I think they're overstated. I mean, yes, they were are parade of horribles that people can imagine, but they're obligated to deal with what's in front of them and you can't, for example, to indict a ham sandwich. There's the -- you know, government proceedings are usually entitled to the presumption of regularity and in this case, that would extend a grand juries and honorable elected officials. Yes, there are possibilities that people will be corrupt in the 250 -- approximately 250 years of our nation, this has never happened and happened before.

Trump is -- Trump is the issue, not, not what could happen and to the extent Trump's committed these crimes or alleged to have committed these crimes that that is not going to -- that's not going to be waylaid by what they do.

BURNETT: So you were -- when predicting the Supreme Court, your track record is pretty good, 9-0 was your bet for the Colorado ballot case. How do you see this going and essentially, when are we going to find out?

COBB: So they will absolutely not find absolute immunity for Trump. And, in fact, they'll -- they'll find that while immunity may be constrained in connection with article two duties and some collateral, discretionary acts, that there's a fact-finding process required to determine the distinction between official acts and whatever the allegations are that would support an indictment. I think they will lay out that line and then remanded to the district court for findings consistent with their guidance.

I think you what you saw today was a lot of frustration with the D.C. Circuit opinion, which sort of said, yeah, this is all reprehensible, no immunity, but it didn't draw a sharp distinction that the Supreme Court clearly intends to do in terms of where is the line between official acts and how much can the criminal law impose upon the freedoms given to the president under Article Two?

BURNETT: So is there any chance this goes to trial before the election?

COBB: Not in my view.

BURNETT: No. Next year. If that -- if he doesn't win?

COBB: If Trump wins, this case is dead. There will be like it never happened. If he loses, it'll go next year.


BURNETT: All right. Ty Cobb, thank you very much.

COBB: My pleasure.

BURNETT: And next, Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction just overturned by a New York appeals court, the top court in the state of New York. Ronan Farrow has some new report being on how that decision could affect the Trump trial, and he is OUTFRONT next.

And in the room, a sketch artist who was important with Trump today revealing a key moment.


TAPPER: Tonight, former President Trump, once again, repeating a blatant lie about his hush money trial that every legal scholar thinks the case is bogus.


TRUMP: My constitutional rights have been taken away from me, but every single expert, every legal scholar, every respected scholar, has said this is no case, there is no case here.



BURNETT: It's just Trump's latest claim about the case that is baseless or outright false.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Day after day, going in, coming out, Donald Trump is making big claims about his trials. Among the latest, security is keeping thousands of his fans blocks away.

TRUMP: Because they don't want any supporters here. They don't want MAGA here. They don't want anybody. This thing is locked down.

FOREMAN: That's false. With no evidence of such crowds anywhere near the court.

Still, the former president, does had something to say in person or online every time court has been in session almost always denying the truth.

TRUMP: We got a real problem with this judge, real problem with a lot of things having to do with this trial.

FOREMAN: From the get-go, he insisted his legal troubles were flowing from the current president.

TRUMP: This is all coming from the Biden White House.

FOREMAN: That's false. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is a locally elected official who does not report to the feds, but Trump has steamed ahead, posting that the D.A. is so busy persecuting Trump has led violent crime in New York flourish at levels never seen before. And that's false too.

Violent crime is nowhere near its highest level. There were more than 500 murders alone in Manhattan in 1990. Last year, just 73.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP PERSONAL ATTORNEY: I'm ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump's elicit acts.

FOREMAN: Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, is expected to testify that his onetime boss directed him to pay hush money to a porn star to hide an affair, which Trump denies and to illegally conceal the payment and falsified records, the gist of the whole case. Cohen went to prison for helping make that happen. But Trump's take?

TRUMP: He got in trouble, he went to jail. This had nothing to do with me.

FOREMAN: Trump has said, the judge wont let him attend his son's graduation, when no decision has been made and the judge seems sympathetic to Trump's request ahead of jury selection, Trump said, every legal scholar called the case against him absurd when that is flatly untrue. And he insists that the gag order makes it impossible for him to defend himself.

TRUMP: I love to say everything that's on my mind, but I'm restricted because I have a gag order.


FOREMAN (on camera): Perhaps it is true that he can't say everything that is on his mind. But the gag order only restricts a few very specific things that he can't attack or harass witnesses or jurors, or court employees. Beyond that, he can talk about his case. He can talk about his presumed innocence. He could talk about almost anything he wants.

And he is doing it, Erin. Even as he keeps saying he's muzzled and he can't say anything, he's doing it. He's talking all the time -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you.

FOREMAN: You're welcome. BURNETT: And OUTFRONT now, Ronan Farrow, contributing writer at "The New Yorker". He's done extensive reporting on David Pecker, AMI and the Karen McDougal catch and kill deal. He's also the author of the book "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and Conspiracy to Protect Predators", and also a lawyer deeply sourced in all of what were seeing right now.

So, Ronan, when you're watching all this, I mean, you know, as well better than anybody how David Pecker operated and how he operated to protect Trump's specifically, which is what's at hand now, have you learned anything from his testimony?

RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, it's a strange experience for many of the reporters who advanced the story at the time, because one of the things Pecker is now speaking to is that AMI at the time the name of the owner of the "National Enquirer" did just lie when this was all coming to light. And he said in court today, I've lied to protect myself and my company and to protect Donald Trump. So what we're getting isn't new revelations about how this scheme worked, how there was this apparent conspiracy to subvert the election by concealing information from voters. What we are getting is additional detail and confirmation after a whole lot of concealment.

BURNETT: All right. So what are your sources in this trial and the prosecution, what are they -- what are they telling you right now?

FARROW: Well, certainly, there's a feeling that Pecker has been a strong witness. There's also a lot of apprehension about some of the witnesses to come.

I mean, Michael Cohen is at some point going to have to take the stand. And prosecutors are looking at positioning that midway through next month as of current conversations. And there's a mounting sense of anxiety, particularly over the course of this week about how noisy Michael Cohen is and what a loose cannon Michael Cohen can be.

And I have had plenty of contact with Michael Cohen over the years. I think that I understand and empathize with all the reasons he is in a difficult, stressful position right now.



FARROW: And, you know, to his credit, he did at a certain point this week after a lot of tense conversations between prosecutors and his legal team finally announced, I'm going to stop going on TV and talking about this. I'm going to stop going on my podcast and talking about this, because he was just sort of spouting vulgarities all the time about Trump. He had started a fundraising campaign. These were all things that made prosecutors nervous about positioning him as a meaningful witness in this case.

BURNETT: So as we obviously weight that testimony, there was a ruling today that I know you think could matter for Trump, and this was the New York state top court overruling the Harvey Weinstein convictions, state of New York.

I mean, it was a bombshell, just went hit this morning. People saying, wow. All right.

Now you won a Pulitzer for your work. You exposed so many of these allegations, stories at women had shared with you about what Harvey Weinstein did to them. But the New York top court today basically said that the lower court judgment is serious mistake by allowing a lot of these women to testify when they weren't the ones actually, as part of the trial, right? So they built a record of Harvey Weinstein's alleged behavior as if it were fact without proving it all in accord the sort.

So, that you published a new piece right here. I hope everyone will read it new piece in "The New Yorker". What Harvey Weinstein's overturned conviction means for Donald Trump's trial, what does it mean?

FARROW: Well, a couple of things to understand. First of all, Harvey Weinstein is not going to be a free man anytime soon. He is serving a separate long sentence due to a conviction in California for a rape. That's not going to change anytime soon.

Now, the fate of his trial in New York, this overturning and any potential subsequent retrial affects him less because of that, then it affects the case law going forward, right? About sex crimes in general, there was a dissent to this decision today from one for the judges that was a sort of hue and cry where she said, this is going to let people guilty of sex crimes off the hook.


FARROW: Now, it is also consequential --

BURNETT: Men who serially sexually exploit their power over women will the benefit of this decision.

FARROW: Exactly right. So there is a strong dissenting opinion on that. Now, it's also going to matter not only for sex crimes cases going forward, but for this ongoing Donald Trump hush payments trial, because there's a commonality of the legal theories being applied. In both cases, prosecutors argued for and judges allowed in evidence of crimes through than the ones being charged. So, in the Trump case, that means all of these AMI payments, Donald Trump is being charged for a payment from Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels.


FARROW: That was allegedly concealed --

BURNETT: We're hearing a lot of other payment, Karen McDougal --

FARROW: Well, right. So the payment from AMI to Karen McDougal and the payment from AMI to a doorman who was in possession of a rumor of a Trump love child. Those are not actions that Donald Trump is being charged for in this case. But the judge has led in all this testimony from David Pecker and others about those transactions to establish the intent and the alleged conspiracy here. And those are stated exceptions in New York case law to the general rule that you not let in evidence of uncharged crimes.

Nevertheless, I think that the Weinstein verdict being overturned because of the letting in of that kind of more attenuated evidence, just illustrates how fraught it is any time a court lets that in and certainly Donald Trump is going to capitalize on every opportunity he has to say, hey, this was a prejudice prosecution. They let in too much. They were overbroad.

BURNETT: Right, for a grounds for appeal in overturning.

All right. Ronan, thank you very much. Great to see you.

FARROW: Great to be here, Erin.

BURNETT: All right.

And next, the sketch artist who was in court with Trump today says she saw a big change from Trump and his lawyers, and she's going to show you and tell you exactly what she saw on and why.

And campus crackdown. One college canceling its main graduation ceremony, and professors were arrested at another.



BURNETT: Tonight, former Trump -- President Trump's hush money trial suddenly erupting. There was a heated moment.

All right. I'm going to show it to you and sketch artists, courtroom sketch artist Elizabeth Williams captured this. She's my guests in just a moment. Let me tell you what you're looking at. This is Trump and his lawyers and, what they were doing when prosecutors made the case to admit text message, mixed messages plural into evidence related to the Karen McDougal hush money payment, including one from "National Enquirer" editor Dylan Howard. So this text message gets, puts out there it was in 2016, and the text message from this editor to an immediate family member, quote, at least if he wins, I'll be pardoned for election fraud.

Now, Trump and his team are visibly upset by this text. One of Trump's lawyers shouted, whoa!

OUTFRONT now is with Elizabeth Williams, a sketch artist who is in the courtroom with Trump today. And, of course, has bent throughout this trial.

Okay. So I just want to emphasize that tax conversation. The judge has not decided whether to admit that text or into evidence. The jury was not in the room and this put out there.

But you are there, lawyers were there, Trump was there. What happened? ELIZABETH WILLIAMS, COURTROOM SKETCH ARTIST: Well, the contrast

because Trump has been pretty staged throughout this trial. He has been head straight -- head facing forwards or slightly to the witness. That information came out the all the three of them Trump in his two lawyers, they all sit back, they start immediately conferring amongst one another like, I mean, it was a visible difference.


Because throughout most of the testimony this morning, I think Trump expects and he sort of knows what's coming those were totally unexpected. And he really reacted.

He was talking to Blanche and then he was talking to Bove, and back Blanche again at Blanche and then the three of them. I mean, I can't draw motion, but there was a lot of that.

BURNETT: Which is fascinating. And again, we don't know whether that text is going to be admitted into evidence for the jury, and the jury -- jury doesn't know about it. They've been told not to watch the media. So following up they're not going to about it unless it's admitted.

All right. So there's another sketch when you talk about how Trump's demeanor has been sort of stayed, was the word you just used?


BURNETT: Okay. So here's Trump watching and listening as Peckers on the witness stand today. And so that's what you\re capturing. You see Judge Merchan, of course, as well.

So what stood out to you the most about Pecker's testimony today?

WILLIAMS: Well, first of all, this is the cross-examination of his attorney of Pecker, and they're now talking about the election the Arnold Schwarzenegger, "National Enquirer" --

BURNETT: Right, they're trying to draw a parallel that Arnold did it. And so it's all the same.

WILLIAMS: It's all the same, that this happens and Donald Trump is very interested in this. And he starts turning around like I've never seen him he turns around and he tries to put his arm and the back of the chair looks certainly in the direction of the jury. I mean, I was looking, I was trying to see --

BURNETT: So, that -- it looks there in your picture, that's his attorney, but it's the jury there.

WILLIAMS: And then he didn't keep his arm there long enough for me to draw him, but he definitely wanted to see if the jury is listening. Are they going to react or what did they think this is important?

Because it was finally some testimony that favored him and his case, so he was very interested in that. And I haven't seen him do that, since the beginning in this trial. And by the way, I had -- I haven't seen -- didn't seem, you know, have that kind of body language during E. Jean Carroll's case either. He was -- he thought that he really -- it seemed to me by his body language, you've thought he scored one.

BURNETT: Thought he scored one there.


BURNETT: Well, we shall see, and thank you so much. Always good to see you.

WILLIAMS: My pleasure.

BURNETT: Capturing these moments.

Well, next pro-Palestinian protests continuing to rock college campuses. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar visiting Columbia just days after her daughter's arrest there for participating, another school professors arrested. We'll tell you what's happening.



BURNETT: Breaking news, USC canceling its main graduation ceremony as pro-Palestinian protests rock that campus and others around the country. Protesters violently clashed with police today, hundreds arrested nationwide.

Nick Watt is OUTFRONT.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pepper balls fired and a lot of muscles deployed against protesters at Emory in Atlanta this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was an overwhelming amount of force against a group of college students.

WATT: Two professors among those arrested.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw a large person seemingly assaulting one of our students, and that's upsetting.

WATT: The administration blames trespassers for the tents and the unrest.

These individuals are not members of our community. They are activists attempting to disrupt our university. Emory does not tolerate vandalism or other criminal activity on campus.

This movement is mushrooming. A brand new protest at Princeton --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Popular university for Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are making history.

WATT: This morning, a protest encampment popped up at UCLA.

After yesterday's violence and standoff across town at USC that led to nearly 100 arrests, today, this private university is closed to the public and USC just canceled their commencement main stage event scheduled for May 10, which usually draws 65,000 people.

In Boston, at Northeastern University, police encircled the protest, then backed off.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called Columbia's decision to call in the NYPD horrific on X.

Columbia decided to hold students accountable to the laws of the school, the NYPD's chief of patrol replied, maybe you should walk around Columbia and NYU and listen to their remarks of pure hatred.

Fellow Representative Ilhan Omar did visit Columbia today with her daughter, who's been arrested and suspended during these protests, which kicked started this movement.

Now in their eighth day, talks with protesters continue. If they fail, say Columbia administrators, they will have to consider options for restoring calm to campus.


WATT (on camera): Here at UCLA, Erin, in a growing but peaceful protest. I think they learned from what happened at USC yesterday when security and the police came in pretty heavy. Today, almost zero police or security visible presence.

What's a bit odd is that even if you're a student here at UCLA, right? Now, you cannot walk across your campus because the protesters have put up a barricade and they won't let you through unless you register and wear a mask. They also wouldn't let us in or let us even film from the outside -- Erin.

BURNETT: Nick Watt, thank you very much. Those masks something we've started to see it all these protests, to conceal identity.

Thank you. And thanks to all of you.

It's time for Anderson.