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Erin Burnett Outfront

Ex-Attorney For Stormy Daniels Texted: "Trump Is F*ked"; Heavy NYPD Presence At Columbia, Mayor: "This Must End Now"; Trump: "I Would Absolutely Use The National Guard" Against Protesters. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 30, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news, the deal to silence Stormy Daniels. Her former attorney explaining in vivid detail how he believed Trump was behind the payment to keep Daniels quiet. I was in the courtroom and I'll tell you what I saw today, sitting about 25 feet away from Trump.

Plus, breaking news, New York City's mayor just announcing the chaos on Columbia's campus needs to end now, and there's a heavy police presence lining up outside the campus. We're going to take you there live. Our reporter is there on the scene.

And Trump telling a reporter there's a, quote, enemy from within, more threatening than China or Russia, and says people like a dictator. The reporter who spoke to Trump is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And we want to begin with some breaking news on the campus of Columbia University right here in New York. There is a heavy NYPD presence right outside Columbia, where pro-Palestinian protesters have taken over the campus, occupied buildings, broken windows. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has just announced, quote, this must end now, telling the parents of students at Columbia to call their kids right now and tell them to leave the area before the situation, quote-unquote, escalates.

Miguel Marquez is on the scene OUTFRONT at Columbia University.

So, Miguel, you are amidst these crowds. Can you tell us exactly what you're seeing?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a little confusing, Erin, but I'm going to walk you through it. These protesters that we're now following, they're in front of Columbia for the day, many, many hours now. They're on the Amsterdam side, they keep around to the Broadway side, the main gate of Columbia.

That's when police moved in. They shut down Broadway completely, both directions in front of the university. They're bringing tons of barricades, lots of tow trucks, and police buses are (INAUDIBLE) much increased police well.

It is very clear, but something's going down at Columbia tonight. Protesters were protesting in front of the gate. They then started marching. We are now just near 134 streets and Broadway, to get the Harlem at the moment is not there where they're going but it does seem clear that something that the police will likely move in to remove protesters in that building and the encampment on the campus of Columbia University -- Erin.

BURNETT: Miguel, quick question to you. I know there have been students occupying buildings today. We'd seen pictures of broken windows. Do you have any sense of how many students are still there or how many are leaving in advance of what seems to be a pretty clear soon move from the NYPD?

MARQUEZ: It is not clear. The police believe there's and the university believes there's 200 to 300 students totally total taking part in this. Keep in mind, there are about 36,000, 37,000 students at Columbia University. So, the entire university sort of big disrupted by these 200.

It sounds like a small percentage of that of those 200 or 300 have moved into Hamilton Hall, which is its a place that students have taken over many times over the years, to voice their displeasure with certain policies, whether at the school or otherwise.

What it sounds like 200, 300, it's not how many of them take it up the university's offer to sign a form and not be -- not expelled or suspended. But right now, all those students faced expulsion, suspension, probably expulsion -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel, thank you. When Miguel live amidst that crowd of protesters at right outside of Columbia University, and as we -- Miguel saying, it's very clear, the NYPD seems poised to go in. We are following that. So we can show you exactly what happens here, the moment that it does.

As we wait for that, the other breaking story tonight, downtown in Manhattan. The, quote, Trump is F'ed, and that was the quote that came from a text message that Stormy Daniels former attorney sent to the "National Enquirer", right after the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape was released. That was part of key testimony in Trump's New York criminal trial.

I was in the courtroom today. It's a small room. It's quite intimate space, where Daniels' former attorney Keith Davidson sat 15 feet or so away from Trump and spoke directly to the jury, laying out to them the sleazy back-and-forth negotiations over hush money payments that are at the heart of this case.


Now, Davidson was very clear that the payments to the Playboy model Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels were made to influence the election. The prosecutor asking Davidson, at one point, and this is the quote I wrote down, is it safe to assume from your joke that you had an understanding that if you were to close your deal, this would somehow benefit the candidate Donald Trump? Davidson's one-word reply? Yes.

And he laid it out again and again, making it clear that he knew that this would influence the election and telling the jury that he believes Trump was behind it.

Now I was watching Trump and the jury today in the courtroom. As I said, a small space, everybody is very close to each other. It's very personal. Four witnesses and nearly four hours of testimony, and the jury paid attention the whole time, some taking notes, most though, from what I could see, just turning their heads to listen to the questions and then turning their head to listen to the answers back- and-forth and fully engage, sometimes looking at the screens in front of them to actually peer at very specific documents.

One thing that stood out to me was actually that they never noticeably ever looked at Trump, even when they walked in and out of the courtroom and I saw that about four times in total, I did not see any of them turned to look at him, even though they walk right in front of him as he's standing there.

As for Trump, he also paid attention, sometimes listening with his arms folded, held, head tilted back because you've heard, sometimes he fully leaned back in his seat with his legs stretched out. He often spoke to his attorneys, but the time that he was most engaged, that I witnessed was when a witness from C-Span was testifying. The witness confirming that Trump had spoken at various rallies, and then the prosecution played tapes from those rallies, including this one.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign. Total fabrication.


BURNETT: Now at that point, when that started playing, it's short. They played a few, Trump leans forward, he puts his face right close to the television monitor on the desk in front of him. He was riveted Trump watching Trump, was his most engaged and intense moment of the trial today that I saw.

Meantime, when the story shifts to Stormy Daniels by name, Trump's lips were pursed, his disdain for Daniels, of course, coming as he has repeatedly attacked her despite a gag order. His supporters have threatened her and her family. Some of the attacks so vile, I will not repeat them on air, but in a moment I will speak exclusively to Daniels' bodyguard.

And tonight, the judge in the case putting Trump on notice because of some of those attacks, warning Trump to stop violating the gag order or face time behind bars. That warning came after Trump was fined $9,000 in the courtroom this morning for making public comments about jurors and witnesses. What's interesting in this is watching Trump as the judge find him for every violation, he didn't bat an eye. The former president was completely stoic from my vantage point. Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live outside the courthouse to begin our coverage tonight.

And, Paula, what stood out to you most today.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the day began with reports of tension between Trump and his legal team. I'm told everything is fine between him and his attorney, Todd Blanche. And as you saw in court today, the two men appear to be completely aligned as they heard from several witnesses, including one that could really matter for this case, the man who represented two women who say they had affairs with Trump.


REID (voice-over): Today, jurors in the hush money case against former President Trump heard from a lawyer who represented two women who allegedly had a with him while he was married. Keith Davidson represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels.

He explained to the jury how he sought deals with the "National Enquirer" for both of his clients. He told the jury how the release of the Trump access Hollywood tape suddenly drove up interest in Daniels story.

TRUMP: I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet.

REID: The jury was shown texts that Davidson sent to former "National Enquirer" editor, Dylan Howard, about both Daniels and McDougal. Of McDougal, Davidson texted, I have a blockbuster Trump story.

Howard responded, talk first thing. I will get you more than anyone for it. You know why.

Davidson and McDougal were in conversation with ABC News about sharing her story he testified. But McDougal did not want to tell her story and prefer the deal with the "National Enquirer", which would have kept her story from the public.

At one point, while Davidson and Howard were negotiating, Davidson wrote, throwing an ambassadorship for me. I'm thinking Isle of Man.

He said that text was a joke about Trump's presidential run that somehow, if Karen did this deal for AMI, the publisher of the "National Enquirer", that it would help Donald Trump's candidacy. Davidson said he received a hefty 45 percent of McDougal's $150,000 deal earlier in the day, prosecutors questioned other witnesses like Michael Cohen's former banker, Gary Farro, who provided details about a different hush money payment that was made to Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen.


Trump was seen leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed several times during Farro's testimony. Prosecutors also briefly called the executive director of C-Span's archives to the stand. His testimony was used to enter videos of Trump into evidence.

TRUMP: As you have seen, right now, I am being viciously attacked with lies and smears. It's a phony deal. I have no idea who these women are.

REID: And for all the day's testimony began, Judge Juan Merchan ruled Trump must pay $9,000 for violating the gag order put in place at the start of the trial, the judge ruled Trump violated the gag order nine times and charged him $1,000 per violation, and ordered him to take down the offending posts by the afternoon, which Trump did.

The judge raised the possibility of jail time if Trump continues to violate the gag orders, stating therefore, defendant is hereby warrant that the court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders, and that is if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment.


REID (on camera): After a court, Trump made additional comments that all appear to be within the bounds of his gag order. But when we're back in court on Thursday, they will start with another hearing on what prosecutors say are four additional violations of the gag order.

But, Erin, I'll note that these all occurred before Trump was fined $9,000 and threatened with jail. So, too, soon to say that is having a deterrent effect.

BURNETT: Right, absolutely. And he did remove the post at least relevant to what he was -- what he was punished for today.

All right. Paula, thank you very much.

Our experts are here with me.

So, Terri Austin, you and I sat together inside the courtroom and you have been there every single day. You're a former trial attorney.

So how was -- you know, in that context, how did you see Keith Davidson's testimony? He, of course, is the lawyer who represented both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

TERRI AUSTIN, HOST AND LEGAL ANALYST, LAW & CRIME NETWORK: Erin, I think he's been the best so far. He walked into that courtroom. He was very confident. He got on that stand. He answered the questions and he was very detailed about it, and he was funny, he made jokes.

You mentioned one of the jokes that he made the Isle of Man and I definitely think the jury was listening to him. He was extremely credible and he gave a lot of details about both the Stormy Daniels case and about the Karen McDougal case.

And he turned towards the jury. I mean, he's -- he's a lawyer. He knew what he was doing. I mean, not that others didn't, but he was very purposeful in his take the question and really presented to them. Absolutely.

BURNETT: All right. So, Ryan, there was another moment that stood out to me, Michael Cohen's banker was testifying, completing his testimony, the prosecution is going document by document how Michael Cohen set up a new corporation and what was the purpose for the corporation? They show documents and again, the jury's watching this, so carefully.

What did Michael Cohen said? The purpose of the new corporation was real estate consulting? What was the purpose to the wire to Daniels' attorney? Retainer.

Then the prosecutor asked Cohen's banker if Michael Cohen had indicated the funds would be used to pay an adult film star as opposed to real estate consulting, would this all happened? The corporation have been open so quickly, the money transferred and wired out. The answer was unequivocal. That is an industry we do not work with.

So how does this far does this go to proving the falsification of documents that are so central to the case?

JUST SECURITY CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: But certainly proves that the scheme was being used. They were using shell companies. They were using all sorts of false cities with the banks and otherwise. So that was from the get-go.

Now the problem is that right now, that's just Michael Cohen.


RYAN GOODMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the big, big question for this trial is whether or not the prosecutors can prove that Donald Trump himself knew that business records were being falsified to cover up the entire scheme, but those are the business records inside the Trump Organization. But this is a very good lead into that particular part of it.

BURNETT: Right. So we don't know what they have Joey. But certainly, today, presented a good case for Michael Cohen providing false representation, but not Donald Trump.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Without question, and aerial view, you know, Erin, I'm fascinated by your description of the volley between the jurors focusing on the answers and the questions. The answer -- they really were -- they were -- yeah, that's critical -- and not looking at drop, and that's important. Trump's not providing testimony, right?

What the testimony is coming from the witnesses shows to me they're paying attention, keeping an open mind. People have their minds made up, but doing anything but listening to testimony, you know? But, look, on the issue of establishing the deal, the deal being, what, he represented the Attorney Davidson who was testifying today. He represented Stormy Daniels, right, certainly represented Karen McDougal had a lot to say about his interactions with Michael Cohen. What I would anticipate when the right is the defense, his argument

that listen, that's great, as to your relations with Michael Cohen. What about Donald Trump? You didn't interact with him at all, did you? You interact with Michael Cohen? You have no knowledge with respect to any conversations that took place between Trump and Cohen, you don't know what at all they were discussing at anytime because you weren't there.


So fascinating as to their interaction Cohen and Davidson, who didn't have such great things to say about Cohen, by the way, by calling him things I can't repeat. But we'll see what the defense does certainly in closing argument seizing upon that, to say Trump was nowhere to be seen, nowhere to be found and had nothing to do with this.

BURNETT: That they're going to try to say.

All right. So, Terri, when we were sitting there, something happened that hadn't happened before. You've been an everyday so you knew to be surprised when Eric Trump walked in, with his father and they walk in. I described it to someone today. I sort of in its traditional sense of a wedding, walking down the aisle. They walk in and the procession, you get the defense and the prosecution.

So in Trump comes with his son and then Trump turns and looks towards us because that's to face his son. They have a conversation, a brief one. What did you make of that interaction?

AUSTIN: I think some of it was stage no doubt about it. They do come in the exact same way every day. In fact, they line up the same way, the same people carry the same box. It's pretty interesting.

And when Trump turned around to talk to Eric, he looked around the room, he saw you he saw other people and he smiled and he was doing that. I think to show the jury that he's comfortable. He was relaxed. His son is there, his family supports him.

It was a very pivotal move.

BURNETT: Right. He knew what he was doing. He said to me, how are you? He mouthed, but he was he knew everyone in the room was --

AUSTIN: Absolutely, absolutely.

BURNETT: How important Ryan is it for him to have family there? I mean, Eric Trump, is this the first time he spent or anyone's been there? Does that matter in a courtroom like this? A small courtroom where everyone in that jury is well aware that someone from Trump's families there.

GOODMAN: I think it matters a lot. It also matters a lot because of the nature of the case. So, it's hush money payments to women that he's allegedly having affairs with. That's right.

So if the families there to support him, that's a big deal. BURNETT: So, you're saying if Melania shows up.

GOODMAN: That would be big deal, but I think her absence is also highly significant. And in fact, Eric showing up on one day and then if they don't others, the others don't show up. I think it'd be even more significant that they're not there, Melania especially.

BURNETT: So, you know, Joe, we heard from some witness -- a witness say that means seem odd to some people, which was the head of archives for C-Span, and he was very open about being nervous and he was there for one purpose only, which was in order for the prosecution to get those tapes of which I played a clip and Paula played the clip, into the record because the two sides hadn't been able to agree on that.

So, now, you got to witness time to get that into as an exhibit. So what do you make of Trump's reaction to that? I mean, as I said, no, I don't mess up our cameras here. He leans forward, his face is so close to his little television monitor when he saw himself.

JACKSON: Without questions.

So lets talk about just briefly, it's a little inside baseball as to why that witnesses there. His lawyers have to lay the foundation, right? You can't just say I'm admitting this into evidence and if another lawyer doesn't agree, then you have to call while the actual person to authenticate the document presented to him, it's a business record. It goes and then you could play for the jury.

So that's the essence of why this is important in most trials, Erin, what happens is we just agree, don't call anybody. It's going into --

BURNETT: Right. We all know he did a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, on this date, right? We don't need C-Span to confirm it but we did.

JACKSON: A hundred percent, but I think critically, what the videos show, I don't know these women, I don't know anything about. Meanwhile, if you connect the dots, you heard other testimony, you even heard Rhona, his administrative assistant, yep. They want the contact, Stormy Daniels was in the contact. Listen to Trump Organization.


JACKSON: Right? So as Karen McDougal, oh, and by the way, Stormy Daniels had an interview at some point, it may have been from "The Apprentice", we don't know. So it just goes to show that he's misrepresenting. If he's misrepresenting about that, what else is he misrepresenting?

BURNETT: And is that what you think the purpose of this was? Not too eventually prove that he did indeed have affairs with these women, but certainly he knew them. Karen McDougal, he referred to as our girl --

AUSTIN: Correct. We saw that in some of the communications. Yeah, absolutely. This was a lot of to do about just small points, but there's small points.

We're going to see that doing the closing arguments, these points where he is lying to you about these affairs, and you can't believe anything he's saying. Obviously, and that's why they took the time to make sure they brought in the C-Span guy. And anybody else they needed to be custodian of records to get into --

BURNETT: Right. Even somebody who had taken a deposition, and E. Jean Carroll, there's a lot of that.

AUSTIN: Exactly.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

And next, Stormy Daniels sharing exclusively the violent, disturbing threats that she's receiving now, including Trump's supporters, threatening to physically abuse and kill her family. The longtime bodyguard is next.

Plus, breaking news out of New York. We are just learning that hundreds of officers from the NYPD strategic response team have just arrived outside Columbia University. Mayor Eric Adams speaking out moments to go, we're live on the ground there as those teams approach.

And Trump has always wanted to live the playboy life.


REPORTER: Have you ever dated a playmate?


TRUMP: I refuse to answer that question.

REPORTER: On the grounds that it may be true?

TRUMP: It maybe true.


BURNETT: Could a playmate be the one who ultimately takes him down?


BURNETT: Tonight, quote, you're on your way to hell. That is just one of the many obscene and vile threats against Stormy Daniels and her family. These threats have intensified as Daniels prepares to possibly take the stand against Donald Trump.

Daniels exclusively sharing some of the threats against her with OUTFRONT tonight, and I want to warn you, these are disturbing.

I mean, one of them reads: Evil will never win. The truth will come out, and I don't know how you live with yourself. It's time you better find god because you're on your way to hell.


And there's another one that is so vile that I will only share part of it aloud: I'm going to physically abuse your entire family for what you've done to this country. This is a death threat and I swear to God, I will murder you. It goes on to threaten unspeakable acts to her family members, male or female.

But Daniels tonight in the face of all this is defiant. She tells OUTFRONT, quote, no amount of threats will change what happened. The truth is the truth.

Joining me now exclusively is Daniels bodyguard, Travis Miller.

And you can see him here holding Daniels' hand as she makes her way through a crowd out of reporters.

Travis, this image shows what you have been doing, protecting Daniel since 2018, so throughout all of this. The threats against her tonight, we just shared some of them terrifying difficult to hear. Have the threats against her ever been this bad?

TRAVIS MILLER, STORMY DANIELS' BODYGUARD: I don't think so. I think -- I think starting out they were they were they were levels of threats and I think at this point it's -- it's definitely gotten worse, you know, and my biggest thing and my biggest thing is just trying to give a peace of mind during this process and protect her as much as possible.

BURNETT: I mean, if Daniels does come to New York to testify in this trial, obviously, Travis, you're going to be the person in charge of protecting her. How worried is she about facing Trump's supporters? Some of them are very angry? Some of them are threatened violence against her? He has been encouraging them to come outside the courthouse?

MILLER: Yeah. Yes, ma'am. I mean, no. She's worried, you know what I mean. But at the day, I think she trusts me, she trusts herself and I think the biggest thing is just -- is just protecting her and just give him as much peace as possible during this process. And just, you know, just protecting her. That's the most important part of it.

BURNETT: You know, when you talk about that, Travis, you are her body guard, you also working with her become, her friend. And Stormy shared some photos of the two of you with us and she talked about, you. She tells us, quoting about you, Travis.

I know Travis would die for me, my daughter, and even her father. He is the first person to believe me. He knows danger and doesn't hesitate to protect me and she tells us Travis, that you've saved her life more than once.

What do you want us to know about her as a person?

MILLER: She's an amazing person, you know, and she's an even better mom. You know, when it comes to who she is, she's loyal. And when I first met her, I saw that right away and I made her a promise that I would stand by her side, from getting -- from the start to the end and I plan on keeping that promise.

And when I take a lot of pride in what I do and I take a lot of pride and keeping my word, on protecting her and her family, and I will continue to do that.

BURNETT: Travis, Stormy just posted a seemingly benign comment on X and she writes the other day, such a beautiful afternoon at the farm. That's what she wrote. And one user attacks her for it. It says: This case is falling apart and real and your ability to remain relevant with it.

She could have ignored it, but she chose to respond: Are you watching the same case? It just had two witnesses prove everything I've been saying is the truth.

And, Travis, she was, you know, unafraid immediately responded. Do you think were going to see this -- this defiance, this willingness to take it all on, on the witness stand?

MILLER: Oh, man, you know, you know, it's not my place to say anything about that, when it comes it out, but she's a fighter and if there's one thing you've noticed about Stormy is that no matter how hard she could, she keeps getting back up and she stays true to who she is, and she never wavers. And I think that's the most important thing when it comes to her.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Travis, thank you very much. I appreciate it. And, of course, we'll see if you will be in New York soon with her for that potential and quite likely testimony. Thank you.

MILLER: No. Thank you very much.

And next, the breaking news here in New York, let me just show you some live pictures of what's happening. NYPD officers lining up outside Columbia University. The mayor has spoken saying this must end now, and just subsequent to that, all of these hundreds of officers have approached Columbia. Streets are closed. These are officers from the strategic response team. They are now on the scene and we're going to take you there next.

Plus, Trump in a telling new interview, threatening political violence if he doesn't win in November. The reporter who spoke to him will be OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: Breaking news at this moment. These are live pictures out of New York. Pro-Palestinian protesters have been on the streets as police right now that you are looking at on your screen, these are police lined up outside Columbia University. There's major gates right there on the inside the quad where those tents were, the hall that students occupied overnight. And now these police officers, all gathering. Our Shimon Prokupecz reporting hundreds of officers from these strategic response team. That's who you're looking at. He says have just arrived and he witnessed dozens of vans, and then all of these officers getting out.

The New York Mayor Eric Adams, warning students who are right now barricaded inside one of the school's main buildings called Hamilton Hall, to leave immediately. He says their protests has been hijacked by outside agitators who are grading serious public safety issues.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK CITY: Maybe some of the students involved don't understand what they are involved in. We urge those in everyone else violating Columbia's order to leave the area and leave the area now. We cannot wait to this situation becomes even more serious. This must end now.


BURNETT: Now, the president of Columbia University is threatening to expel students who took over that building on campus overnight, breaking windows, blocking doors, with tables. Protesters are showing no signs of leaving right now. Palestinian flag was waving from the rooftop today of that hall.


Right now on the ground, Shimon Prokupecz is there and Miguel Marquez. They're right outside Columbia, two different points, but you can see what's happening here.

So, Shimon, lets start with you. I see a lot of those police officers behind you. What's happening now?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: No, this is certainly are in an escalation. These are the officers who respond to any kind of disturbance protests. I've been in New York covering protests for quite some time. I've not seen a response like this before. These are the search themes that they send in, in moments like this.

And right now, what we've been seeing here is this is where they're gathering, just waiting for word on whether or not, they're going to be going in. We heard the chief here giving them some last-minute orders that once they go in to put their visors down because objects could be thrown at them. He told them to be officers. He told lieutenants to be lieutenants, sergeants to be sergeants and to be professional.

They were going over some of the strategic moves, the design of the interior of the campus, where the encampment is, having some last- minute words and were seeing a lot of them to stand around at this point very commonly just waiting for word on whether or not they're going to be going into the college, which is over my right shoulder here just a couple of blocks. So at some point, it seems that they're just going to do this. It's

just a question of when and they're just waiting for word. I want to show you here are in behind me here. There are more officers gathering, some of them. I were preparing. You see, zip ties and other gear. There's also the NYPD legal unit as well there. Everyone at this moment, Erin, is just standing by to see whether or not the college -- they're waiting for permission from the college to give them that permission that letter, that legal authority to head in into the university.

But this kind of response, this is a massive, massive response here and more officers are arriving here. We're seeing chiefs and other high-ranking officers. Everyone here at the ready on word that they're going to be moving.

What's happened here, Erin, it seems based what the NYPD and the mayor said that they have information very concerning information that has caused safety concern as a result of that, they have closed pretty much both sides of Broadway for about ten blocks. Ive never seen anything like this where they've closed both sides of the street here in Morningside Heights and they are now just gathering preparing for perhaps the next steps here.

The warning has been given, and now we just wait, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Shimon, while you're there, I just want to go just nearby to where are you are but a different vantage point to Miguel Marquez.

And, Miguel, what can you tell us you're seeing from where you're standing?

MARQUEZ: Yeah, it seems very clear that police here in the university want these protests to end and they wanted to end tonight. This is Broadway, this is the main gate of Columbia here, 116th and Broadway.

You can see what it looks like Broadway shut down in both directions for several blocks, Amsterdam, all the way in the other side. Camera on Amsterdam Avenue, all the way to the other side, I can see and hear protesters on that side of the campus, Amsterdam is also shut down, 120th and maybe 114, 112, those are also shut down right now.

Police have staged dozens of tow trucks down to 120th. There are big buses down at 120th. They have several different areas that are now shut down.

The protesters interestingly, are staying over on the Amsterdam side, maybe 200 or so protesters came over to Columbia side a short time ago, about a half-hour, five minutes ago. And then they marched off. They marched off.

We talked you talk at the top of the show. They kept going off Broadway into Harlem. It's not clear exactly where they were going if they were trying to protest and go around the city, but police did follow them there. But it is very clear tonight that the university has given these

protesters warning. Look, this is, they believed this was 200, maybe 300 individuals that they're dealing with, both the encampment and then in Hamilton hall as well, that they will happen have to move people out of that encampment, which they've done it before, and then they allowed it to take root again. And then it stayed and out when we are where we are.

And then Hamilton Hall is not clear how many individuals are in Hamilton hall. It sounds like it might be a fairly small number. I've spoken to students who are inside. So, the only fuel I can get in here are essential workers and students who are room and have their dorm rooms on the campus. I've spoken to students there. They said it's very, very tense in there. They're not seeing any sign of police inside the campus right now. But it is quiet and they are expecting the NYPD to move in at some point this evening -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel, stay with us as well.

Charles Ramsey joins the conversation now, former Philadelphia police commissioner and D.C. police chief as well. So, Chief Ramsey, you know, you hear Shimon and Miguel describe what they're seeing right now.


You know, Shimon talking about -- in all the protests, he's covered and he has covered so many over these recent years. That he's never seen search teams this big and they're going through plans, actual plans of what the layout is inside the courtyard. They're being told to put their visors down to be worried about projectiles, when they go in. They are prepared with zip ties.

When you hear all those details, what do you think?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it's about time. I mean, this is something that really should have been done before because this is just escalating to a point where it's no longer a peaceful protest. You can't break into a building, one of the university buildings and take it over.

I mean, you know, the university has allowed this to get to a point where right now, force is going to be used to not only get rid of the encampment, but also get those people out of that particular building. So there'll be a lot of her arrest that are made. Hopefully, they hold true on their threat to expel the students that participated, particularly and taking over that building and causing damage.

I mean, they got to send a message and I hope that universities around the country pay attention to this and they need to coordinate with their local authorities and have a game plan because these things get out of control very quickly.

BURNETT: So, Chief, there's -- Shimon was also sharing that why is this happening right now? Obviously, the occupation of that hall, which is something that students have done at various points over the years. But, obviously, this time, there's been violence windows broken, the students are inside, again, we don't know how many.

But, Shimon was saying that the reason for this happening right now, in terms of these search teams massing outside is that they've received, quote-unquote, concerning information. Now, in the context of what these protests are about, when you hear concerning information and see surge teams like this, do you have any specific concerns as to what that information might have been?

RAMSEY: Well, you have to have concerns is whether or not anyone in their is armed for an example. You know, anything is possible. You had a large number of people entered that building. They weren't searched certainly before they went in.

So you don't know what they may have.


RAMSEY: You've got to be prepared and if nothing else, there are all kinds of projectiles can be thrown at police. You know, I went through the Vietnam War protests at college campuses, so I know it can get pretty ugly and I have no reasonably this won't get ugly because those are -- the people that have taken over this building, they want that optic, they want that visual, they want CNN and others to show to police, you know, forcibly removing people from the buildings and so forth.

But guess what? That's exactly what's going to happen. People will use a minimal amount of force in order to do it. But if they got to clear that building, they're going to clear that building, period. I wish I was with them.


Chief Ramsey, stay with me. Shimon and Miguel are standing by as well. So, all can hear us as this develops.

Frank Bruni also joins me from "The New York Times", the author of "The Age of Grievance", which was just released today, which is a poignant moment for your -- for your book to come out. But when we hear all these details concerning information, put your visors down, zip ties at the ready, it doesn't seem that there's a peaceful end.

And then as the chief points out, certainly those who are still inside that building don't seem to want it to end in a peaceful, calm way.

FRANK BRUNI, AUTHOR: No, they don't want they want the kind of boldness confrontation possible because that serves their aims. You know, Columbia has every right to clear this building out. The New York City, Eric Adams, the police force has every right.

I hope this happens in as proportional and measured away as possible. Otherwise, you are playing into exactly what they want and we're just going to escalate the situation and its pretty escalated.

BURNETT: So, Frank, I'm just trying to understand and I know every situation because there's different individuals involved, right? But Yale and Brown today succeeded two different ways, but in negotiating and so that encampments were dismantled and things appear to be going back to normal.

Some of the students, you know, in the case of one of the universities -- okay, look at the police are walking here as were talking. So were seeing where they're going as they do that, frank, what do you think is different here about Columbia? There has been no ability to tamp it down.

BRUNI: Yeah. I'm in part of this, everything that happened comes in New York City is on steroids, right? We don't -- we don't know exactly who's in that building and what effect that has on it. I also think various political actors, and this is indicative of our grievance culture, various political actors have decided to choose this particular circumstance to come in and choose their sides and make their statements. And I think that has accelerated and amplified but things up.

Mike Johnson, for example, the speaker of the House, a week ago, I was writing about how much I admired the fact that he made common cause with Democrats, changed his mind about Ukraine aid.


And then the next day or the day beyond that, he goes up to New York, he didn't need to be here. And he says, maybe we should bring in the National Guard. We have too many --

BURNETT: I was there, by the way, on the steps of Columbia when he was there and he came out and he said and did what he intended to do.

BRUNI: Right.

BURNETT: But he was clearly taking a back and surprised by how many students were there. And at that point, there were only a few hundred, but they gathered and they were not happy. It is not what he was expecting.

BRUNI: But did he need to do that? So many of the voices that have joined this situation and have shouted about it because that's what we do these days. We shout, we don't talk, have they been there for just score political points and for their own purposes, or have they been there to really come and solve this?

I think this has been a sort of -- this particular situation has attracted political actors scoring points in a way that the situations and some of those other campuses are not.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, somehow, maybe because it's Columbia.

BRUNI: It's Columbia.

BURNETT: He came -- he brought -- he brought for four -- three or four other representatives with him and I don't know. I was standing next to him. The students, couldn't fully hear them and that was a good thing.

BRUNI: Right.

BURNETT: Because if they had heard what they were saying in one case, thank you all should be ashamed. I mean, there would its been a true -- a true outcry with the intention of them appearing was for the press conference part, not to actually talk to students.

BRUNI: Right. They came here because New York City is the media capital, where are you and I sitting right now? We're sitting in a studio in New York City. They came here because more cameras are here, more media companies are here than in any other city.

BURNETT: So, Chief Ramsey, I don't know if you can still hear me? Can you still hear me, Chief Ramsey?

All right. So as Frank and I are talking. We were able to see and its sort of dicey what our cameras can get pictures of or not right now. But we start to see those surge -- some of those surge units but start to move and they weren't rushing. They were just moving purposefully.

From being in situations similar to this, is that how it would go down? They would just walk onto campus or would there be some sort of a -- I don't want to use the word rush in a pejorative way, but a rush?

RAMSEY: No, they won't rush. I mean, they're formed up in platoons and squads. They each have an assignment. They're probably anticipating having instances blocked. So they have to get through that. They'll cover the front, the rear.

I mean, they've given people the chance to get out of there and it gets to a point where it too late to leave, you know? We're coming in and if you're in there, you're going to be arrested and you're going to be charged. And that's probably how it's going to go down.

So right now, they're just getting it together so that they actually have a plan to make the entry and that's what you're saying, but it's not going to be just a rush in there. There'll be controlled, but again once they are inside, I would imagine they're going to encounter for some resistance.

I agree. The force they use has to be proportional, but some force will have to be used because these guys apparently are not going to leave. And I would be surprised if the majority of them are even students.

You have people that that's what they do. They attach themselves to the legitimate protesters and they cause all kinds of problems. And that's what I think you're looking at right here. Something's got to be done about it.

BURNETT: Yes, it's very fast naming. These kids were offered, the ones that are students, you know, that they would be able to not be expelled. If they were just two sign papers to back off today, which Yale and Brown, this has seemed to work to de-escalate, did not happen in this case.

But when we look at the images of where, I don't know how many people are in there and how many of them are students. But right now in Hamilton Hall on Columbia, right near these images that you're looking at, where when the police go in, that is where we anticipate this confrontation will happen, we saw the students occupy it, and whoever else was with them, broken windows.

And the first thing when you see that broken window, I'm thinking of that indelible image of the Capitol.

BRUNI: Yeah.

BURNETT: Far right protesters on January 6th, here we are on April 30, people who identified themselves as far left protesters doing the same thing.

BRUNI: Well, you do have to ask if there's through line from one of the other, I mean, January 6, we had a president still at the time now, a former president who is romanticized what's happened there, who has sent a message, if you really believe in something and if you're fighting for it, you do the most provocative disruptive, confrontational thing possible. That's what the rioters on January 6th did. That's what these students and their non-student allies, whoever you want to call them are doing here.

There's this -- it's all the same sort of ethos, the same sort of approach.

BURNETT: And it is all Chief Ramsey going to be I would imagine on camera because there are people involved who are going to want every bit of it on camera.

RAMSEY: Oh, it'll be on camera, but he just what it is. I mean, you know, you just can't have this sort of thing take place on a regular basis. I mean, two years ago, it was the U.S. Capitol. Today, it's Columbia. I mean, what's next?

I mean, it just goes on and on.


This is not a peaceful protest any longer. You cannot go into a building, and you can not vandalize. This has got nothing to do with a peaceful protest.

These are people that are there for a whole different purpose. And a police will have to take care of it and believe me, NYPD will and the reason you see so many police officers is because you want to have overwhelming numbers. That actually keeps the violence down. It makes it less likely that people will be hurt.

BURNETT: All right. Well, we continue to monitor this. These are live pictures from the other side of Columbia where the surge units or in the other side of the campus, as we are watching what it seems to be an imminent confrontation that may occur here on the Columbia campus.

Chief Ramsey is going to stay with us.

Frank Bruni, thank you so much, and "The Age of Grievance", your book, of course, one I hope that everyone watching in light even at this specific stance will want to read.

We will come back with our breaking coverage right after this break.



BURNETT: Breaking news, these are the live pictures outside Columbia University here in New York City tonight, hundreds of the city's police are outside the campus as pro-Palestinian protesters continue to occupy a school building now in defiance of university orders. Moments ago, the mayor of New York said the situation must end now. There are hundreds of surge unit to police on the other side of the campus with visor ready to be pulled down and go in and we have reporters, they're monitoring exactly what is happening.

OUTFRONT now is Eric Cortellessa. He is a "Time" reporter who spoke to Trump, Donald Trump for nearly 90 minutes.

And I know, Eric, you've made a lot of headlines and especially in context of this breaking news that is unfolding before our eyes tonight you asked Trump and these extensive conversations you had, 90 minutes, over two interviews, if he would call in the military to break up these protests on college campuses? What did he tell you?


Yes, I asked Donald Trump about this in the context of comments he reportedly made to his former secretary of defense, Mark Esper, who wrote in his book that Trump suggested during the black lives matter protests in 2020, that he ordered the shooting of protesters in the leg. Donald Trump didn't deny that he said that, he disparaged as Esper as his worse secretary of defense. When I asked whether he would be willing to send the military on protesters as president, he said he likely wouldn't have to because he would rely mostly on the National Guard.

BURNETT: And mostly on the National Guard. So, you know, just -- it's just important contexts in light of these images. Obviously, Speaker Mike Johnson called for the National Guard days ago at Columbia, that hasn't yet happened, but we do see these as our reporter said, the most surge police that he's ever seen covering protests in New York right now, massed outside the gates of Columbia University.

You talked to Trump about political violence as well. And, you know, we'll see what happens here. But, of course, from the left, many would characterize this as politically driven violence. On the right, of course, there was January 6. So you asked Trump whether he was worried there'll be political violence this November election month. He told, you know, but I know you followed up with him in your extensive conversations and he told you and let me quote from you, Eric, if we don't win, you know, it depends. It always depends on the fairness of an election.

Tell me more.

CORTELLESSA: Yeah. I mean, that really stood out to me in our first conversation at Mar-a-Lago, roughly two weeks ago, I asked whether he was worried about political violence and connection and with the November election, and he said no. And I said, what do you expect anything? He said, I think were going to win. I think there won't be political violence.

So when I had a chance to talk with them again on the phone two weeks later, I follow up in that followed up on that and said, Mr. President, what if you don't win? And he said precisely what you just said.

And, you know, it stood out to me because he raise the specter of potential political violence if he doesn't win the election, which was alarming to many people.

BURNETT: Right, certainly. And especially considering that his definition of what is a free election at least in the last election, is not the definition of what a free election is.

So what ill struck you the most over these conversations that you had and again, in 90 minutes, what else stood out to you, Eric?

CORTELLESSA: You know, what stood out to me was the fact that Trump is ever more assertive in confident now than he's ever been. He is in the process of embarking on a strategic plan to return to the White House and be able to seize more power than he had in the first term, right? He is trying to consolidate power around his position as president and remove many of the guardrails that prevented him from carrying out a lot of the things he wanted to do in the first term.

He's got a conservative army of confluence of advisors and aides who are preparing the mechanics of carrying out his agenda. And he is preparing right now to go into office if he wins to hit the ground running in a way that he wasn't prepared to the last time.

BURNETT: And just as you're watching, talking, Eric, everyone, you're looking on your screen at those surge unit police you hear students yelling from a distance. Why are you in riot gear? And those police with their advisors prepared to go into Columbia University as you're seeing this face off here?

Eric, you, in your conversations with Trump as were watching this again, unfold you asked him about something he said to Sean Hannity when he talked about on day one he says, Trump says, you're not going to be a dictator, are you? He's talking about a conversation with someone and he tells this person no, no. Other than on day one.

What did he explain to you about that?

CORTELLESSA: Well, Trump essentially said that he was joking, that he was kidding around, that he was playing with the audience.

You know, Trump often is able to assume this role of almost stand comedian when he's in front of an audience, when he's at his rallies, its part of his relationship with his supporters. He entertains them as well as speaks to them.

But when I said well, sir, don't you realize that this kind of talk of dictatorship strikes many Americans as contrary to most fundamental democratic principles?


CORTELLESSA: He said, no. In fact, he said, I think a lot of people like it.

BURNETT: All right. Eric, thank you.

And thanks to all of you.

It's time for "AC360".