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Erin Burnett Outfront

Michael Cohen Grilled About Name-Calling, Profiting Off Trump; Trump Privately Brags Trial Is Getting More Press Than Campaigning; WSJ: Biden Moves Forward On $1 Billion In New Arms For Israel. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 14, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Sparks fly. I was in the courtroom as Trump's attorney went to battle with Michael Cohen, a brutal start for Trump's attorney. But was it enough to sink Cohen?

Plus, an OUTFRONT exclusive: Stormy Daniels' husband speaking out for the first time. What he said he had Stormy will do if Trump is found not guilty.

And breaking news, President Biden now reportedly sending his national security advisor to Israel. Will this trip the enough to pull Netanyahu back from full-scale invasion of Rafah?

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight: a crying little expletive. It got ugly in the hush money case today for Trump and right away. I mean, right off the bat. That was just one of the first lines that Trump's defense attorney, Todd Blanche confronted star witness Michael Cohen as the cross- examination began this afternoon.

So I was there watching as Trump's former fixer went toe-to-toe with the Trump's attorney. And as I said, it was literally -- I mean, basically the first line.

Trump's attorney Todd Blanche starts his questioning by confronting Michael Cohen and he's -- he -- whether he was pretending to be or truly angry, he came off so angry that he was shaking and he pulls up a video that Michael Cohen and posted on TikTok and he said, you went on TikTok and you called me a crying little expletive, didn't you? I mean, it was just so intense.

Now, Cohen responds: Sounds like something I would say. Trump leaned forward as Blanche went onto grill Cohen about other profanity-laced posts and this sort of intersperse the entire afternoon. One of them was, you refer to President Trump when he left the courtroom you said that, quote, he goes right into that little cage, which is where he belongs in an f-ing cage like an animal. Do you recall saying that, asks Blanche. Cohen replies: I recall saying that.

Again and again, Blanche tried to portray Cohen is someone who is consumed with his hatred for Trump. In fact, using the word obsessed and quoting it from one of Trump's -- from one of Cohen's books.

Blanche showed the jury a photo of Cohen wearing this T-shirt of Trump in an orange jumpsuit, and a mug like this that Cohen cells online which reads: Send him to the big house, not the White House, and the questions were fast and furious. Cohen's answers were generally extremely short. Many times just saying something like sounds like something I would say.

Now, Cohen recently told me he was ready for Trump's team to hit him hard, especially after seeing he said how they went after Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis, whom the Trump team is still trying to get kicked off the election interference case in Georgia.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Nobody wants to do this. This isn't fun. Look at, for example, with Fani Willis today, they get personal, they get nasty and I expect mine to be as nasty if not nastier than the questions that were thrown at Fani Willis.


BURNETT: And he's going to get even nastier as the cross continues. Blanche is, though, a skilled prosecutor. He took on violent criminals and actually had worked in the same office as the D.A. prosecuting Trump, Alvin Bragg.

The formerly registered Democrat, Blanche is now changing his tune. He's now registered Republican and he's bought a home near Mar-a-Lago. He actually left his law firm and has gone out on his own with one big client, and he now works out of Trump's 40 Wall Street building.

And just about -- to state the obvious, Todd Blanche is betting his future on Trump.


TOPDD BLANCHE, TRUMP ATTORNEY: You have a district attorney indicting, you know, a former president of United States, that has never, ever happened before. And so, being part of something where most of your briefing or most of your arguments at some point, you're saying to the judge, this has never happened before, right?


BURNETT: It is historic. The end though, is insight. Prosecutors say Cohen is their final witness at the end of the day, Blanche indicated that he was on track to finish his cross on Thursday. We'll see if he sticks to that.

And the defense has left open the door to calling Donald Trump himself, which could change the timetable here. Paula Reid is OUTFRONT live outside the New York courthouse tonight.

And, Paula, what began as a very aggressive and direct cross- examination with Blanche confronting Cohen with the expletives that Cohen had called Blanche, then took a very long and windy roads sort of going off here, coming back, going off there, coming back.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. It really did. Blanche jumped all over the timeline of this case.


And Erin, I'm told that is strategic because they know that Cohen was prepared by prosecutors for a linear chronological direct examination, and that's where he feels confident. So this approach was made to throw him off his game. And so far, it doesn't seem like its working, but we still have a long way to go.


REID (voice-over): Michael Cohen back on the witness stand today, facing tough questions from prosecutors and defense attorneys.

REPORTER: What do you have to say at Trump, Cohen?

REID: Trump attorney Todd Blanche came out swinging in his first question to Cohen. You went on TikTok and called me a crying little expletive just before the trial began. Nodding in agreement, Cohen said, sounds like something I would say.

Trying to frame the witness as motivated by revenge, Blanche questioned Cohen about something he said on his podcast in October 2020: I truly expletive hope Donald Trump ends up in prison.

Blanche pressed Cohen on how he continues to defy prosecutors request to stop talking about the case. Is it fair to say prosecutors have repeatedly asked you to stop publicly commenting on this case? Yes, Cohen replied.

Blanche noted that Cohen profits from his religion unless attacks on Trump. And on his podcast wore a shirt showing Trump behind bars. And you were encouraging people to buy it, Blanche asked. Yes, it's part of the merch store, said Cohen.

Blanche asked if on his podcast, Cohen called Trump a boorish cartoon misogynist, and a cheeto-dusted cartoony villain. That also sounds like something I said, Cohen admitted.

He was then asked if he was obsessed with Trump. I wouldn't say obsessed. I admired him tremendously.

Before he faced off with Trump's attorneys, prosecutors walked Cohen through the documents at the heart of the criminal case, 11 checks he says he received totaling $420,000 after submitting 11 falsified invoices marked for legal services. "Were any of those checks in fact, for work during the months described in those check stubs?" prosecutor asked. "No, ma'am," he responded.

All part of the alleged conspiracy to pay Cohen back the $130,000 in hush money he personally paid to Stormy Daniels. He also described how his relationship with Trump unraveled as he came under federal criminal investigation and ultimately decided to break with Trump and plead guilty to multiple charges in 2018.

Cohen recalled how he felt after the FBI searched his home, office and hotel room in 2018: How to describe your life being turned upside down, concerned, despondent, angry.

Cohen described a conversation he had with Trump after the FBI search, the last time he says they ever spoke. He said to me, don't worry. I'm the president of the United States. There's nothing here. Everything's going to be okay, stay tough. You're going to be okay.

Cohen said: I was scared. I wanted some reassurance that Mr. Trump had my back especially as this dealt with issues that related to him.

He credited a conversation with his family, which she says convinced him to finally turn on Trump and begin telling the truth. My wife, my daughter, my son all said to me, why are you holding onto this loyalty? What are you doing? We're supposed to be your first loyalty.

Cohen said, I made a decision based again on the conversation I had with my family that I would not lie for President Trump anymore.


REID (on camera): Cohen will be back on the stand Thursday. That's the last day of court. We have this week. Next week, the defense is expected to call a few witnesses, and then there were client needs to decide if you too will take the stand.

But, Erin, at this point, it appears unlikely we will have but verdict in this case before Memorial Day.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Paula.

And everyone's here with me.

So, Norm, I was sitting behind you today you said yesterday that Cohen took the prosecution across the Rubicon that everyone -- every prosecutor has to cross, right? That you -- that he had -- he needed to do that. He needed to prove that Trump directed all of this.

But today, none of that even came up. I mean, Blanche spent all his time showing that Cohen hates Trump and showing that Cohen has profited off of seat from Trump. That was the day.

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was befuddled by Todd Blanche's cross-examination. He has a good reputation. I think that today we saw in that courtroom the tyranny of expectations both ways. The expectations were very high for Blanche. He disappointed, coming out of the box with objectional -- objectionable questions that were about him and Cohen's criticism.

BURNETT: Right, all that crying little --

EISEN: It had nothing to do with the case, a very stern reprimand from the judge, got off on a bad foot. He meandered all over the map. And then Cohen benefited from low expectations.


Everyone thought he would have a hard time on cross. He was disciplined. He was credible. It was a bad start for Blanche in and a good one for Cohen, but as Paula said, we have a long way to go. Blanche -- Blanche had better throw out that big notebook that he brought with him today, tear it up, and start again tomorrow because it ain't working.

BURNETT: So, was there any rhyme or reason? Because my notes today, I kept actually taking something that he would say, but how much money did you make on a book? And then I would just go put it up next to my notes about how much did you make on a different book? Because Blanche kept coming back to the same points seemingly without purpose.

What was the purpose to throw Michael Cohen, I mean, or was it just not well-organized?

TERRI AUSTIN, HOST AND LEGAL ANALYST, LAW & CRIME NETWORK: Well, Erin, we'll start with this. This is the third time I am agreeing with Norm. I don't know what that means, but I do think Cohen's stood up very well and I do think Blanche did a poor job.

He was all over the place. Maybe he wanted to throw Cohen off, but I think he's throwing the jury off. You need to go sequentially. You need the jury to understand what your points are.

And his points were, you're making money off of this. You're biased. You're not credible and you hate Trump. Those were the points he was trying to make.

Instead, we're all wondering, where are you going? What is this winding road doing for us? I don't think he did a very good job.

BURNETT: This is sort of one thing if you want to reveal your big reveal, but you got to give people some sort of a roadmap.

Now, Jeremy, what's interesting is at the beginning when Blanche came out and there is a room in the courthouse, right where there's a lot of reporters in their TV screens. What's going on, you're not actually in the courtroom. So there's a little bit more reaction.

In that room when -- when Blanche starts off saying you know, didn't you call me a crying little -- you know, okay. And there's an eruption of laughter. Now on the actual courtroom, it's completely stoic.

But what was -- was the reaction to that? JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: There was a huge reaction. And so, this room, it has probably about, I can have as many he was like about 100 reporters and then there's about four rows of public.

And so, the public, they are lining up is overnight lineups, camping out to get in this courtroom and only about six or eight members of public will get into the actual courtroom every day. Another 20 or so get into the main courtroom, and because we're not in the courtroom, they can react, and obviously there's self-selecting, right? These are people well who want to see this trial are mostly not on Trump's side I would say.

And so it was a big reaction when Blanche started with that line, and Cohen's response. I'm going a couple of other lines. He said there was that -- did you call Trump aide Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain? And so when that went stuff like that happens, you get a big reaction from the public who is there and does not have to be in court with the judge.

BURNETT: Even in the courtroom, there was a little bit of a snuffled snicker, a stifled snicker, I must say, just because you're talking about a Cheeto-dusted person. I mean, there's something farcical about the whole thing.

Ryan, one thing though that stood out to me was in all of this Blanche trying to portray Michael Cohen is a liar? No, Michael Cohen, of course, has admitted to lying, saying he did so to help Trump, right? But that's at the heart of this case as Michael Cohen saying yes, I did that.

But Blanche was emphasizing it. There was one exchange that I wanted to ask you about of how you think this went. But Blanche is asking Cohen about his testify -- his testimony to Robert Mueller and the Mueller investigation.

And it goes like this, Blanche says to Cohen: is non-accurate information a lie? Cohen says, sure. Blanche says, again, is it a lie? Cohen says it was inaccurate. Yes.

Blanche: Was it a lie? Cohen: I don't know if I would characterize it as a lie. It was inaccurate. Then Cohen eventually says it wasn't truthful. You want to call it a lie? I'll call it a lie, but that went on for a long time.

Was that a good exchange?

RYAN GOODMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not from Michael Cohen? And I think that's a good exchange for the defense team because what Michael Cohen is saying in that moment is, oh, that might have been inaccurate, but it's not a lie. And then if I were a member, the jury, I might think, well, wait a minute. Are you lying to us now?

Like you're giving us so much testimony or you in your mind you're telling us, Michael Cohen, you're considering that an inaccuracy and not a lie because you're splicing it so finely? So I don't think that's a good look. At the end, he does say, look, if you want to call that a lie, it's a lie, I'm happy to call it that. So he recovers at the end, but that exchange is not a positive one.

BURNETT: Yeah. I mean, what did you make of that? His refusal to just say a lie was a lie?

EISEN: It was not a high point of Michael Cohen's afternoon, but those moments when Blanche was able to score a point are few and far between. He committed the cardinal sin of cross-examination. It was so tangled up at points that it was boring. It actually were some of the first boring moments in all of the 19 or so days of this trial that we've had.

So he -- because the prosecution is ahead on points and because I believe with Cohen's testimony, if he's believable, they have established proof beyond a reasonable doubt.


This was not an easy case.


EISEN: Blanche had to really push Cohen back across the line, scoring a couple of gimmes is not going to do it. Now, maybe he'll come out swinging on Thursday.

BURNETT: Well, and it is, you know, when you start a cross examination with did you call me a crying little shit, okay? You think, okay, this is the -- this is a good day to me, Erin. Twenty minutes later, I mean, people are yawning. It was sort of a dramatic shift from overdrive to sleepiness. But then he did it recover.

Jeremy, what was the reaction? Because Blanche did go through playing TikToks of Cohen, listing all the things to basically show that Cohen hates Trump. That's not a secret. Cohen doesn't pretend to not hate Trump. I mean, he does, as he said, a podcast twice a week, talking about his dislike for Trump. But the cheeto-dusted cartoon villain as Blanche poets it with deadpan, you know, not even trying to be funny, what was the reaction to that, and all these other nasty things that Cohen had said?

HERB: One of the most surprising things I saw today was the lack of reaction from Donald Trump. He, you know, when Keith Davidson came and testified, Trump turned in his chair. He was watching it. He was it seemed like enjoying watching Stormy Daniels lawyer get grilled by his attorney.

Today, we really saw none of that. Trump looked and Cohen's direction a couple of times to see what he was doing. But for the most part, Trump was in his sort of zoned out. I'm not listening to this. He had his eyes closed for long stretches of the testimony and it was surprising given how much, as you said, how much fireworks and sparks we were expecting.

BURNETT: And will there be a lot more because obviously, Blanche has not yet done, what Blanche will do which is tried to make the case, right, that took -- Cohen did this on his own and Trump didn't direct it. That's the heart of this. He has even gotten there yet.

GOODMAN: He is not. I mean, if he repeats his performance on Thursday, then I think Trump is in trouble even to the point that maybe Trump would have to think. I do take the stand because at this point I'm losing.

But Thursday's a Thursday and it's a fresh day. There's a lot of ammunition that the defense team has that has not been brought out today, and they can end big on Thursday and then at the jury stew on ending big for three days because there's no trial on Friday.


GOODMAN: And the big things are, lying to Congress, lying to the federal court, then lying about lying. As a federal judge, recently sentient, which one was the lie because one of them is the lie.

And some of those lies that were crimes were committed for Cohen on behalf of Cohen, not Cohen on behalf of Donald Trump. So that's what's Thursday is going to be about. But it also has to be in a way that does potentially unfurl Michael Cohen in a way in which didn't happen at all today.

So that has to happen on Thursday if it doesn't happen. And I think Trump is in serious trouble.

EISEN: We haven't talked much about what the prosecution did in the first half of the day, but they drew this thing, they fronted those lives. So that will make it tough on Thursday.

BURNETT: Right, right, the jury has heard them. It is not -- is not going to be new.

All right. All, thank you.

And next, an OUTFRONT exclusive, Stormy Daniels' husbands speaking out for the first time. What he says he and Stormy Daniels will do if Trump is found not guilty.

Plus, it was a who's who of VP hopefuls in that room today, we saw them refining -- Republicans lining up outside Trump's trial to show their loyalty and some of them, Vivek Ramaswamy, Governor Burgum in there all day. Do any of them stand a chance of being picked for their loyalty?

And breaking news, "The Wall Street Journal" just reporting that Biden is ready to move forward with a massive $1 billion new arms deal for Israel. This is Israel still appears poised to cross Biden's red line.



BURNETT: Tonight, an exclusive interview with Stormy Daniels' husband. He's speaking out for the first time since his wife, the woman at the center of Trump's hush money trial, took the stand. Barrett Blade has been by Stormy Daniels' side for 25 years. They knew each other long before Daniels met Trump. The two spent decades as friends and coworkers, making it official as husband and wife two-and- a-half years ago.

And Barrett Blade is OUTFRONT now.

So, Barrett, I really appreciate your time and you're choosing -- you and Stormy choosing for you to speak now.

I mean, Stormy spent more than seven hours on the stand. She was there for over two days. Obviously, it's the first time she was face-to-face with Trump since 2007, and, you know, I was in that room. I mean, there are only 10 or 15 feet apart for those hours and hours.

How does she feel now that her testimony is behind her?

BARRETT BLADE, STORMY DANIELS' HUSBAND: I mean, I don't think she feels any differently, maybe a little relief to not have to be stressed about going in there, but I mean, I think she feels the same way she always says felt about it.

BURNETT: And, you know, on that, this process, it has taken a long time. So when do you mean you just talk about the stress of that moment? I mean, the preparation, I mean intense preparation and the waiting, and the waiting, and the delays of the trial. Then actually having to come testify -- I mean, to actually get on a plane and come and do it.

How much stress did all that put on her with everything else in her life?

BLADE: Well -- I mean, she just wants to get on with their life and the fact that it keeps coming back over and over and over, it creates a lot of stress.

I think that, you know, to have to relive these moments over -- as much as it's boring for the media to keep hearing it over and over again, it sucks for her to have to keep saying the same thing over and over and over again. It wears on her.

But she's a warrior and I think she needed to get her -- her final say so that she can move on with her life.

BURNETT: And, you know, you have been by her side, as I said, throughout all of this, for so many years. As you know, when she did testify, the defense then tried to tear her apart. You know, it was a purposefully denigrating cross-examination. You know, you could you could hear it in the voice of the attorney.

What was it like for you as Stormy's husband to hear all of that?

BLADE: I mean -- look, I'm used to hearing all the kind of hate 'em (ph). I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan. So -- but for her, she -- she's so experienced with it right now.


It doesn't bother me as much. I should tell you, like Twitter's her favorite sports, she's kind of used to all of this.

I think she's probably more prepared than anything for those type of comments because that's kind of what she gets all the time from Twitter and from all her social media. So I think -- I think that almost help prepare her, you know, all the negative -- all the negative hate and all the negative comments.

But for me, personally, you know, I don't really -- I don't really follow -- I don't really get on the social media and all the hate and all the tweets and all that stuff. So for me personally, it doesn't really affect me unless it affects her. If she comes back and something hurts her, then that's -- when that's when it bothers me.

BURNETT: You know, I mentioned that the tone of the defense cross- examination, Barrett, and they did repeatedly tried to shame her and shame her career specifically.

BLADE: Yeah.

BURNETT: There was one exchange, I wrote -- written it down when I was in the room, but the Trump's lawyer says, you've acted in porn in 21 sex films, right? And Stormy replies, including comps -- compilations. Lawyer says: And you've also written and directed 150 sex films, you said in your direct, is that correct? And Stormy replies: Give or take.

And the lawyer says: So this was your career for over 20 years, writing, acting, and directing sex films, right? Stormy says: Yes.

Then, the lawyer says, Barrett: So you have a lot of experience in making phony stories about sex appear to be real, right? And I'm emphasizing the words here because there was a lot of tone in it.

And Stormy stops and says: Wow. And then she sort of laughs and she goes: That's not how I would put it. The sex in the films is very much real, just like what happened to me in that room.

You know, what -- what do you hear there? I mean, the tone of the questions was purposefully denigrating, about everything Stormy did, about her life and about her career.

What does Stormy think about the way those questions were asked?

BLADE: I mean, once again, I think, you know, the career that we chose early on, she's been getting that for -- since she started doing porn. She's kind of -- kind of ease to that kind of thing.


BLADE: You know, people were trying to slut-shame her since day one.

And she's proud of what she does, you know? She's not -- she does not think that sex is a negative thing, you know? Sex shouldn't be looked at as such a forbidden taboo, you know? It's a very American thing to think that way.

And as far as -- as far as the comments, I mean, I think she's dead on. I don't think she's ashamed of all of it.

And I agree. I think she's a brilliant writer, so any of -- any of that stuff that this phony sex, or she would have written something way better than what she said about the Trump story. So --

BURNETT: I mean, she did come back very quickly there when she said that's not how -- not how I would put it. The sex in the films, it's very much real, just like what happened to me in that room.

I mean, she -- she didn't take a second to even pause and say that.

BLADE: Yeah, yeah. And I think there's a common afterwards about that -- you know, that she made up the story just like she writes her stories, in a movie, something like that. And she said, no, I would have written it a lot better.

BURNETT: She's --

BLADE: And I agree, she's a very good writer. She would have wrote (ph) in a lot more entertaining and with a lot better person, I would imagine.

BURNETT: She did -- she did absolutely say that.

So -- so, Barrett, when you and Stormy had a chance to talk about this since she testified, have you discussed what happens -- when you talk about her trying to get on with her life -- if Trump is found not guilty?

BLADE: Uh-huh, uh-huh. If Trump is found like not guilty, I think there's a -- I mean, either way, I don't think it gets better for her, you know? I think if it's not guilty, we got to decide what to do. A good chance, we'll probably vacate this country.

If he is found guilty, that -- she's still going to have to deal with all the hate that feel like she's the reason that he's guilty from all of his followers. So I don't see it as a win situation either way, you know?

I know that we would like to get on with our lives. I know that she wants to move past this. We want -- we just want to do what I guess we would say normal people get to do in some aspects. But I don't -- I don't know if that ever will -- will be, you know?

And it breaks my heart, it breaks my heart, some of the things that she has to go through that people don't realize, you know? We -- I guess, for example, you know, everybody has their agenda for at this point and I don't see people fighting back for her.

For instance, E. Jean Carroll, although we're super happy that everything that happened for her happened, you know? Stormy opened the door, but Stormy got sued for the exact same two comments. And she ended up getting legal fees she's got to pay for, but no one wants to help her with that.

Or the women's groups, you know, she knows she fights for women's groups all day long, and I don't see anyone doing GoFundMes to try to help with her legal fees and to help her out.


And Michael Avenatti, he did -- got a GoFundMe to try to help her and then he ended up stealing all her money. It just -- there's a list that goes on and on and on and on.

And she donated to the hurricane relief in Louisiana, she does all these great things and no one comes back and helps her out. So that's -- that's the biggest heartbreak I think everything that's going on right now is that she's fighting for everybody and no one's fighting for her. And that's -- that's what makes me the most upset about all of the situation.

BURNETT: Now, when you talk about wanting to get on with your life and that, you know, if he's found not guilty, that you may be forced to leave the country. I mean, just the disruption to your entire life, your entire life together and to her life.

I just wanted to show some of the pictures that you shared of her and you because you have known each other for 25 years and obviously you're married now. She shared one of us with us of you teaching her daughter had to put in contact lenses.

BLADE: Yeah.

BURNETT: And in a moment from your honeymoon where you're dancing to your wedding song, right? Something that almost everybody does.

BLADE: Uh-huh.

BURNETT: And you filmed her on your honeymoon as well. I'm just going to play a brief clip from that, Barrett.

BLADE: Uh-huh.


BLADE: Enjoying your honeymoon?


BLADE: What have we done today?


BLADE: What have we done this week?

DANIELS: Nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: I mean, Barrett, you know, when you play that, it just -- if people didn't know who she was, right? If they didn't know her as Stormy Daniels, it's just the normal side of that --

BLADE: Yeah.

BURNETT: -- most people know, but certainly they haven't seen her in that context before.

BLADE: Yeah.

BURNETT: So in this context when you talk about people not knowing her, what do you want people to really know about who she is, and what the biggest misperception is there out there that people still have of her?

BLADE: I mean, I want people to know that she's a brilliant mother. She's a great partner. She -- she's very talented. She's brilliant writer, director. I mean, the list goes on and on.

What people don't know, like I think everyone thinks this is a -- like Democrats are funding this whole thing or some crazy stuff like that. But, you know, like she's doing all of this because she's doing what she feels is right for this country and for the people in this country and for the future of her daughter, and I think most people think that she's doing this for money.

And I -- she ain't rich. We ain't rich. We don't have millions and millions of dollars, you know?

We don't -- in fact, even to do the case, she had to come out of her own pocket to fly up there, get a hotel, her own food, and I'm sure they'll reimburse her at some point, but no one's fronting the bills for any of this stuff. This is all her fighting for what she believes is right, and telling the truth.

And I don't think a lot of people realize that. I think they -- there's a lot that believe what the media feeds -- feeds them and they believe the lies and nobody fact checks anymore. Everyone hides behind their digital wall, and believes what they're told. And it's just a scary state in our country right now. It's very, very scary.

BURNETT: Barrett, I appreciate your time and thank you very much for sharing all this.

BLADE: Yeah, no problem.

BURNETT: And next, we are just learning what Trump is now bragging about in private on his way to court. We've got this new reporting coming up next.

Plus, new polls showing Biden trailing Trump in several key swing states. But Biden told me that the polls are wrong. Is he right or is it wishful thinking? We're going to go beyond the numbers.


BURNETT: Tonight, CNN learning Trump is privately bragging that he's getting more media attention around this trial than he would on the campaign trail. This is according to a source -- source who heard about Trump's conversation today with House Speaker Mike Johnson on his way to court, contradicting complaints like this from the former president.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Republican nominee for president, I'm leading in every poll, and I have a gag order. So I think it's totally unconstitutional.

It's the fourth week -- I've been stuck in here for four weeks.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Ronan Farrow, contributing writer for "The New Yorker", who has done extensive reporting on Trump's hush money payments, and who wrote the book "Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and Conspiracy to Protect Predators," Ronan, of course, is a lawyer as well.

And, Ronan, I know you've been speaking to your sources all around this case as we are now in week four, what are they telling you about Michael Cohen's testimony tonight?

RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, it's important to remember that Michael Cohen going on the stand this week was a linchpin of the case prosecutors wanted to convey to jurors. The way they've structured their argument is that they had witnesses related to a scheme between Donald Trump and AMI, the -- at the time -- parent company of the "National Enquirer", that David Pecker, the head of that outfit, saying yes, there was a scheme. We had a conversation with Trump where we agreed we were going to capture stories that could be unflattering during the election and run other stories that could be flattering.

Then they proceeded to have Trump Organization folks talk about the concealment of the transactions that are at the center of the case.

Now, the lynchpin that's still needed to happen from a prosecutorial standpoint was someone who could say Donald Trump ordered that concealment directly. And that's the role of Michael Cohen plays.

And Michael Cohen on the stand yesterday and especially today really did what prosecutors needed in that respect. There were a lot of potential downsides to having Michael Cohen on the stand. He has a history of by his own admission, lying to Congress and other prominent places. You know, he is viewed as someone who can be a loose cannon at times, and he had been early on in this trial.

But over the last two weeks, he's been quite disciplined. And on the stand today, he was disciplined. He had a very sober posture and attitude, and he made the points that prosecutors needed to him to make, chiefly that Donald Trump was in direct and regular conversation with him about this concealment.

BURNETT: And, right, that is what its all about. Of course, you've got another day of cross coming and well see what Todd Blanche does. Today, as we pointed out, was quite meandering and unclear exactly where it was going. We'll see what happens on Thursday.


You know, Ronan, just a minute ago, I spoke with Stormy Daniels husband and I asked him what he and Stormy are going to do if Trump is found not guilty and he had a pause as he thought about it. So they had talked about it and then he said this, Ronan.


BLADE: If Trump is found not guilty, I think there's -- I mean, either way, I don't think he gets better for her, you know? I think if it's not guilty, we got to decide what to do. Good chance we'll probably vacate this country.


BURNETT: I mean, you know, Ronan, it makes you think, you know, obviously, a lot of people who have interacted with Trump have seen their lives uprooted, all sorts of people, right? Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officers, and testifying because he's in Rikers Island. Trump's former White House adviser, Peter Navarro, federal prison in Florida, Manafort served time.

Now, you hear this from Stormy Daniels as a witness, right, in this case, the toll that this has taken on her life, it is the wide swath of destruction here. It's just something to think about.

FARROW: It is indeed, and Michael Cohen, of course, is one of those people who served time as part of the fallout for his activities with Trump around all of this, you're exactly right in characterizing it as a wide swath of destruction. And Donald Trump likes to point out that the transactions at the heart of this case were about something not that consequential, him concealing things like infidelity.

But the concealment itself is something that was elaborate as prosecutors have pointed out, and as Michael Cohen pointed out on the stand today, and something that caused a lot of destruction in a lot of people's lives. And prosecutors are trying to assert to jurors that it caused a destructive impact for voters, too, who deserved access to accurate information during the election.

BURNETT: Right, and, of course, did not get it because this did not come out because of the payment.

All right. Ronan, thank you very much. Good to see you, of course.

FARROW: Always a pleasure, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. And next, the tryouts to be Trump's VP.

Today, I saw it in the courtroom. You saw them inside all day who could stay longer lined up to show their loyalty.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): His daughter is making millions of dollars running against Donald Trump.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), FORMER 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The prosecution's main strategy appears to be to bore the jurors into submission.


BURNETT: Both of them outside the courthouse today.

And breaking news, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting Biden is ready to move forward with a massive billion-dollar weapons deal for Israel, even as Israel appears poised to cross Biden's red line.



BURNETT: Tonight, VP additions at the courthouse. President Donald Trump's allies, many of them VP hopefuls, showed up to his hush money criminal trial. Each of them showcasing their loyalty by publicly slamming the trial is a sham or insulting the witnesses are going after for Judge Juan Merchan's daughter.

Doing Trump's dirty work because Trump can't say those things because he's under the gag order.

So, today, there were a lot of them and I saw many of them in the courtroom. Speaker Mike Johnson was outside, came all the way into New York to be outside and talked about Michael Cohen.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is a man who is clearly on a mission for personal revenge. He is someone who has a history of perjury and as well-known for it. No one should believe a word he says today.

VANCE: The judge inside, his daughter is making millions of dollars running against Donald Trump, raising money for Donald Trump's political opponents.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R), NORTH DAKOTA: In the world where I came from, business, you know, this would have been a non-material classification error. At best, it might have been tried as a misdemeanor.

RAMASWAMY: The prosecution's main strategy appears to be to bore the jurors into submission. SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): It is depressing. That courtroom is

depressing. Mental anguish is trying to be pushed on Republican candidate for the president United States.


BURNETT: Nearly every person you just heard there has been floated to be Trump's VP pick.

So Harry Enten is OUTFRONT to go beyond the number.

So this is clear. Trump felt that its nice to have Eric there sometimes.


BURNETT: It's nice to have Boris Epshteyn there every day.

ENTEN: Beautiful.

BURNETT: But he wanted -- he wanted his loyalty show. So today was a big day, J.D. Vance, Vivek Ramaswamy, Governor Burgum, they were all there, and Burgum was there all day long. End of the day, Burgum and Vivek were still there, J.D. Vance was not but this is the VP stakes.

ENTEN: This is the VP stakes. You know, we spoke last night about how in the betting markets, Doug Burgum at this particular point is the front runner. But he's the front runner and he's only got a 24 percent chance of being the nominate, the VP nominee, Trump's VP pick. There are 13 candidates at this point that have 2 percent chance or greater of being Trump's VP. That is, there are a lot of different options.

And the reason why I mentioned those beyond the front runner is because you can go back in time and look at the betting odds at this point over the last few cycles where we didn't know who the VP would be.

You go back to 2008, Sarah Palin had a 5 percent chance at this point. Paul Ryan had a 5 percent chance at this point in 2012.


ENTEN: Mike Pence had a 1 percent chance. Nobody thought he was going to be the VP pick.

So I think this sort of audition, this apprentice VP is out there because maybe there's someone who's going to show up at that courtroom who are not even thinking about at this point and they can perhaps impressed Trump and Trump becoming impressed, you know what, maybe I'll make you my vice president.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, maybe that's about -- but just watching it today. I mean, it's like this kind of --

ENTEN: A Conga line?

BURNETT: It's a pageant. It's a pageant as Trump would like to say. It's his VP beauty show.

ENTEN: Yes, he knows how to judge those.

BURNETT: So, OK, this comes as the battleground polls that have come out recently have been good for Trump and not good for Biden.


Now, when Biden and I spoke last week, he expressed disdain and frustration for polls in general, particularly in terms of how they are judging him on the economy. Here's what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've already turned it around. Look, look at the Michigan survey, 65 percent American people think they're in good shape economically. They think the nation's not in good shape, but they're personally in good shape.

The polling data has been wrong all along. How many you guys do a poll CNN, how many folks you have to call to get one response? The idea that we're in a situation where things are so bad that folks -- I mean, we've created more jobs.

BURNETT: So he doesn't like the polls. He doesn't like what they're showing right now. Is he right or is it wishful thinking?

ENTEN: He loved the polls four years ago when they showed them a head. These are the same polls now.

But here's the thing, the polls can be right at this point, and then keep in mind, we still have six months until the election polls can change plenty. You go back over history. You looked back since 1972, the average difference between the polls at this point and the final result, six points. The biggest difference was 15 points in 1988, when Dukakis was ahead.

BURNETT: And even on election day, polls can be off substantially and people point that out. And what, what is history show?

ENTEN: Yeah, you know, talk about the battleground states. Look at the errors on election day and the average battleground states, the polls were off six points since 1972. In 2020, they were all five points. So, if we're talking about one, two point leads in these battleground states, the polls could be showing one thing and then the other person had certainly win.

BURNETT: And that would show historically true because we know, but people are going to say, oh, who knows fraud, whatever? Look at history, it always happens.

Harry, thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the breaking news, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting Biden is now moving forward with a billion of new weapons for Israel.



BURNETT: Breaking news, President Biden is moving forward with more than $1 billion in new weapons deals for Israel. The package includes $700 million in tank ammo, $500 million in tactical vehicles, $60 million in mortar rounds.

Now this is according to "The Wall Street Journal's" reporting this hour. Biden proceeding with this deal, even as Israel is on the edge of a full-scale invasion into Rafah, a red line that President Biden drew loudly and clearly on this program.


BIDEN: If they go into Rafah, I'm not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities, to deal with that problem. We're going to continue to make sure Israel is secure in terms of Iron Dome and their ability to respond to attacks like came out to you the least recently. But it's -- it's just wrong. We're not going to -- we're not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells use that have been used as --

BURNETT: Artillery shells as well?

BIDEN: Yeah, artillery shells.


BURNETT: I want to go now to Barak Ravid, CNN political and global affairs analyst, also the politics and foreign policy reporter for "Axios".

And, Barak, this reporting from the Wall Street Journal tonight to proceed with weapons transfers, including tank ammo and other things after publicly drawing a red line and being so explicit about it, how does this make Biden look?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think that this -- this report, again, I hate to shoot down someone has a story but, you know it has nothing to do with the Rafah. It has nothing to do with Biden's red line, the reason is first, because Israel still did not start a major ground invasion of Rafah, and therefore, it did not cross Biden's red line and therefore, it did not trigger any suspension of arms transfers.

And second, because everything that is in this package is weapons that weren't even produced yet by the industry in the U.S., and some of it will take months until we will be produced and transfer to Israel and some of it will take as long as three years to be sent to Israel.

So, again --

(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: So, not used for a Rafah offensive, when you lay it out. I mean, if we're talking about months and years, I understand that.

RAVID: You know, I --

BURNETT: But I mean, in terms of also -- do you think just the announcement itself, do you think that there is perhaps an understanding or that Netanyahu is going to back off or no?

RAVID: I don't know. I think the jury is still out. In any case, that as far as I know, the Biden administration did not say that it's suspending arms sales to Israel. It's suspending one arms shipments of 3,500 bombs for fighter jets, Biden said that if Israel goes into Rafah in a major ground invasion, he will suspend more offensive weapons. This still hasn't happened, therefore right now, there's no as far as I understand it, there's no change in Biden's arm supply policy to Israel.

BURNETT: Well, and I think significant as you point out, I mean, just with the details you're giving that even if one were to look at this announcement as possibly giving Israel what they want to do, what they want to cross the red line. You're saying it takes months or years for these weapons even get there. I mean, I think the context that you're giving, Barak, is crucial.

I know that you have new reporting in terms of where this red line is tonight, just very basically the conversations between Biden and Netanyahu. You're reporting that the national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, is headed to Israel. So what's the significance of that in this moment from your reporting, Barak?

RAVID: So, first, I think that this trip buys another few days for the Biden administration when it comes to Rafah because the understanding between the White House and the Israeli prime minister's office that Israel will not significantly, significantly expand its operation in Rafah before Sullivan arrives in Israel. It's expected to be, I think, on Sunday. Then a few days after Sullivan comes back to Washington, either late next week or the week after, there's going to be a high- level meeting in-person at the White House between teams from the U.S. and Israel, exactly about the operation in Rafah.

And I suspect that this understanding to let's say put on hold the further expansion of the operation in Rafah will continue until after that meeting. So I think the Biden administration managed to buy another lets say, a week or two, two weeks before as well, goes to the next step of its operation in Rafah.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Barak, thank you very much for sharing your reporting and analysis. I appreciate it.

RAVID: Thank you.

BURNETT: And thanks so much to all of you for being with us.

"AC360" starts now.