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Judge: Trump Hush Money Trial Will Begin On April 15; Trump Gets Financial Lifeline From NY Appeals Court: Smaller Bond To Pay In Fraud Case, More Time To Pay It. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 12:30   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Very busy day. Donald Trump's first criminal trial has been set. Jury selection in the New York hush money case begins April 15th. Now, in better news for Trump, he got a financial lifeline from a New York appeals court in his civil fraud case.

I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes who is outside one of Trump's properties in New York, where we expect Trump to address the press later today. Kristen, what are you hearing?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are told that the former president will be here any moment. He's going to go inside and give remarks as he has done before. Sometimes they build this as a press conference and then he does not take questions. So we'll see. We, of course, have a reporter inside to shout questions if she is able to and if he listens.

But I do want to point out a couple of things. One is what happened today in court. You talk about that April 15th date. Yes, this is a disappointment. You saw Trump. He seemed visibly annoyed. But one of the things that he said was that this was election interference in the sense that they didn't want him to be able to campaign.

And I do want to point out here that since Super Tuesday, he has only done two campaign events, total. He's also only had one day in court behind closed doors, like a day that he didn't have to go to. He could have been on the campaign trail. In fact, his rival, President Joe Biden, has been hitting almost every swing state except for one pounding the pavement ahead of that general election in November.

So when he says that he could be campaigning, they want to stop him from campaigning, he is actively choosing at this point not to campaign. And while this is a disappointment for him that this did not get delayed even further, this was originally a big win for Trump's legal team. They did not think this was going to be delayed.

In fact, they believe they were going to be starting his first criminal trial today. The other part of this is that they'd already planned out their scheduling to essentially campaign around this trial. So expect to see him on the campaign trail Wednesdays and Saturdays and in the courtroom after April 15th every other day there in New York.

The other point out is about this bond. This is a huge deal for Donald Trump. Sure, it is still an enormous amount of money. It is going to be hard still to get an underwriter to secure $175 million, but they are viewing this as a win. When they went to the appeals court, they were not sure how this was going to look.

We cannot stress enough the fact that, one, he had not come up with this nearly half a billion dollars, and, two, how critical this is to who he is as a person. This idea that he didn't have enough money, enough cash on hand, enough assets to reach that half a billion dollars was something that for him was really embarrassing.

So now that they've lowered that price and they've given him an extra 10 days, this lifeline, that is a huge win for the former president.

RAJU: Yes. And, look, now that's going to be argued in September over that New York financial fraud case right before the election. So we'll have some impact there as well.

Kristen Holmes, thanks for that report.

I want to bring my panel back in on this. Phil and Laura are still with me and CNN's Gloria Borger joins us at the table as well. Gloria, assess -- look, this is hugely significant. A president facing -- an ex-president facing a criminal trial in the middle of an election April 15th. This is different than those other cases though that he is facing.


RAJU: So, what do you senses the political impact of Donald Trump having to deal with a criminal trial about hush money payments?

BORGER: Well, you know, it's always hard to say because we know every time he got indicted, his poll numbers went up. This is a special case. It's about hush money to a porn star. So it's tawdry. And you don't know how that's going to affect suburban women voters or even evangelical voters.

But it's also a case of not -- that is not a great national import, which like the document case might be election interferences is huge. And so people might dismiss this and say, oh, you know, we know this about Donald Trump. There aren't people out there saying, I can't imagine he would ever do this, right? You know, you don't hear that in his defense a lot.

And so it might be dismissed because it's not a, you know, a huge national case. But on the other hand, it does tell you something about Donald Trump and it may be something that a lot of those fence sitters or don't like.

RAJU: And, look, it's going to bring back character issues. And that's what you're writing. And --

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENT: It's also going to bring back characters. Like when -- it was either Paula or Kaitlan (ph) was walking through all these people and was like, yes, I need to re watch season one. Because it was six years ago and I totally forgot a lot of these names that were coming back up.


I think what's interesting about whether or not -- and I think Gloria makes a great point, this is baked in for most people. Everybody's aware of this story. The political ramifications or impact of this trial, I honestly don't have any concept of what it will or won't though. What we do know though is a trial is different than Truth Social.

A trial is different than what you're saying outside the courtroom. A trial is different than what you're yelling when you lose an appeal or when the trial date starts when you don't want it to. And we saw it.

In the courtroom, by our great reporters, Kara Scannell leading the way, in terms of what the judge was saying to Trump's lawyers.

RAJU: Yes.

MATTINGLY: It is a different ballgame and it is a different environment than Trump and his team have really been able to bend to their will almost over the course of that's the last six years. But in particular, the last 11 months when this case, when this case was brought, it changed the entire trajectory of Donald Trump's political career, his comeback, and the Republican primary.

He's been doing nothing but winning on the Republican side since then, but he's been doing it outside of the courtroom and that's what changes.

RAJU: Laura, how do you see this playing out? I mean, April 15th is when they start the jury selection. I guess we don't have a sense of how long this trial will take and Trump's already saying he's going to appeal it before he's even lost. He suggested I'm going to appeal it. So this is going to play out for some time. What's your sense of it?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, they say nothing certain, but death and taxes and apparently a trial on tax day for Donald Trump. He is going to have to reckon with the fact that, well, he's arguing outside the courthouse. That, why now? It's been all this time, why now?

Given Michael Cohen, one of the characters involved in the previous aspect of it, who went to jail over aspects of this particular underlying fact scheme, why now? But that's not enough to say to a jury. It can't be me. The Lange (ph) and when you choose to prosecute is a very different ballgame.

But all the arguments he's made up until now in the Supreme Court and otherwise about immunity and beyond, those grapple with as an actual president or conduct after being the president. This is a case that took place before he became the president of the United States. A lot of the arguments are not going to have the same amount of gravitas for him. In the day you're talking about a jury pool who he's going to say is tainted. Who's going to say that they're somehow even more liberal and against him than Washington D.C. juries. But Alvin Bragg might have an easier lift in this case because people know about the facts here. Because they're aware of the characters and the cast of characters.

And because they've already grappled with the credibility issues of some who will be called to testify. Stormy Daniels, for example, and Michael Cohen. And then go on in his case in out of New York, had already rehabilitated in a way Michael Cohen's own credibility in almost a half a page talking about why he now finds him to be credible. So it will all come into play.

RAJU: Yes. I'm going to go back to Kaitlan Collins who's got some more details about what was happening inside the courtroom. Kaitlan, what else are you guys learning?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes, and luckily we have someone who was inside the courtroom and witnessed all of this play out this morning. Kara Scannell is here and joining me now. And Kara, obviously, you know, you -- there's no cameras inside the courtroom, but reporters are allowed inside, observers. What did you see when you were in there? How was Trump reacting to the judge's developments?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So throughout the morning, when the judge was just hearing arguments from both sides, Trump was, you know, pretty just straight, you know, he was looking ahead. He was listening to the attorneys. And then when the judge came back after this break and said that he was going to rule from the bench, which was a surprise because in the judge's written ruling, he said he would issue an opinion after the hearing.

So he took that break in order to come up with this decision, came out and said, I'm ruling from the bench. I want everyone to have as much time as possible to prepare. Not going to wait a second longer. So then, he started going through his findings and he said the D.A. is not at fault for the late production of documents from federal prosecutors.

He said they acted in a good faith effort. At that point, Trump shook his head side to side, appearing annoyed at that ruling. And then the judge said, we are moving forward with jury selection on April 15th. So the plan is, as the judge had said, it would be just a few weeks ago when he granted this brief delay.

He said, we are moving forward with this case. And the attorneys raised questions about Passover and the holidays, and the judge said he will give the jurors time off for the holidays if they need it, but he said we were moving forward and this case is going to begin with jury selection on April 15th.

COLLINS: And so jury selection obviously seems pretty standard, but, I mean, we've seen how Trump's legal team has used jury selection for -- to drag things out. What are we -- have we gotten any hints from this legal team handling this case of how they would handle this jury selection or what they want to ask the prospective jurors? SCANNELL: So the great parallel here is the Trump organizational criminal tax fraud trial that took place about a year and a half ago. And in that case, jury selection, which involves this, you know, the former president was not on trial, but his company was. So it involves a lot of the same sorts of questions you'd expect about people's feelings toward Trump and people's thoughts about him, if they could be fair or not.

And that, in that case, the jury selection took about a week. Now, Trump's lawyers had mentioned at the last hearing that they wanted to pose questions individually to the jurors. The judge said, well, you started to do it at the last trial and then decided that was taking too long. They said, no, they want to do that here. So that could mean that this takes longer than one week.


COLLINS: Yes. So it could go further than that. Well, Manu, that's notable in and of itself because this is still a tactic. We're expecting to continue to see the Trump team used to try to delay this, but obviously, the judge here taking a much different stance and saying, no, there will be no further delays, at least when it comes to the start of this case.

RAJU: Yes. And you'll be off the campaign trail while that case is unfolding.

Kaitlan Collins, thank you. We'll be back checking back with you in a little bit.

All right, coming up, Donald Trump may have gotten a financial lifeline, but he still has to pay $175 million in 10 days. Does he have the cash? That's next.



RAJU: Donald Trump said he will have the cash needed to post bond after an appeals court cut that number in half and gave him 10 more days to come up with it.

I want to welcome Bill Cohan of Puck News who has been following all of this. So Bill, is this new $175 million something that Trump can come up with?

WILLIAM COHAN, FOUNDING PARTNER, PUCK: Well, you know, many of us, as you probably remember during his deposition for this case last year, he said he had $400 million of cash and it was growing every day. So assuming that was a Trumpian kind of exaggeration and he doesn't have $400 and he probably had to put up whatever $95 or $100 million in the E. Jean Carroll appeal, I would say, you know, he's probably in a position if he doesn't have $400 or even $100 less than that, he probably does have this $175.

This is a, you know, a big break for him. It could have been much, much worse more than $500 million, could have been resulted in him having to sell assets. I assume that somewhere in his brokerage accounts and his bank accounts, he's probably got this money.

RAJU: You know, this all comes is that he could get a cash infusion related to his social media company going public. The company said they're going to start trading tomorrow under the ticker DJT, just to get a sense of the revenue of this company, $1.1 billion in revenue, posted about $26 million in losses, the Truth Social subscriber base. It's been down about 39 percent over the past year or so.

Is this -- what do you make of this valuation? This claim that, you know, this could be worth billions of dollars. How do you see it?

COHAN: Well, of course, this is what's known as a SPAC, special purpose acquisition corporation, which has been utterly discredited on Wall Street in the last few years. You know, Donald Trump, unless they give him a waiver is going to be locked up from selling any of his shares for six months.

And so, even if he were to sell some of his shares, if he got that waiver and sold some shares beforehand, before the normal lockup would have ended, I mean, he's so integral to this thing because there's nothing to it except for Truth Social, which is, you said is losing a lot of money and really is only Donald Trump and his tweets or whatever they're called on Truth Social.

And so if he starts selling the stock that he owns in this company, it's going to drive the stock price down very, very quickly. They're very, very volatile anyway. It could become a bit of a meme stock, given that it's Donald Trump. But this is not his solution.

And luckily, after today, I don't think he's going to need to turn to this unless, of course, he loses the appeal, and then he still owes the $500 million plus. This could be a source of that down the road. Assuming it's still trading anything like it is today, which is a big assumption.

RAJU: All right, Bill Cohan from Puck News, thank you for joining us, giving us your expertise.

And we'll be right back with more breaking news.



RAJU: All right, I want to bring my panel back in to digest this very busy news day on the Trump legal front. Laura, we're learning, of course, this hour, April 15th, the beginning of jury selection in this Trump hush money case. What do you make of this trial schedule that's going to play out during the election year, take Trump off the campaign trail, and what it may mean here for him going forward?

COATES: It does take him off the campaign trail, unlike, remember the E. Jean Carroll case? He actually has to be in a criminal courtroom in New York sitting there. I think Wednesdays are off for him in terms of the court's calendar, but it takes him off the campaign trail.

You're going to have jury session for about two weeks, likely, maybe about 20 days or so of actual trial schedule for the prosecution's case alone. Whether he's going to introduce his own defense in this case is going to be an important thing. You're talking about likely at least a month, which is a very significant time because you are now 225 days away from the presidential election.

That's a huge chunk of time where he ought to be spending actually on a campaign trail. But this also helps his campaign.

RAJU: But we haven't even seen him on the campaign trail for some -- for what, more than a week or so?

BORGER: Well, he complains that he wants to be out on the campaign trail. But on True Social, he just bragged about how he won the club championship trophy and the senior club championship trophy at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

RAJU: There it is on your screen from --

BORGER: Right.

RAJU: -- for our viewers.

BORGER: And, of course, the Biden campaign could not let that go unnoticed and said, "Congratulations, Donald. Quite the accomplishment." So if you're wondering what he's doing and if he wants to be on the campaign trail so much, he hasn't been to Wisconsin since 2022.

You know, he really, it seems to me, doesn't want to be out there pressing the flesh.

RAJU: Yes.

BORGER: He didn't want to do it during the primaries, and you never saw him do town halls talking to actual voters. They can't afford to do these big rallies anymore.

RAJU: Yes.

BORGER: There's a real cash crunch in the campaign. So he might as well be sitting in a courtroom.

RAJU: Yes. Is that --

BORGER: You know?

RAJU: Go ahead.

MATTINGLY: It partially ingest, but I think there's seriousness to it. I think you were alluding to this as well. He raises money when he's doing these things.

COATES: Right. MATTINGLY: He can talk before, he can talk after his biggest fundraising days by far, starting with when Alvin Bragg first brought this case have been tied to the courtroom. I think the reality is, to some degree, the irony is that Joe Biden is out in every single swing state almost every single day over the course of the last couple of weeks.

And we've seen Trump once, I think in Ohio, mostly for a Senate race is why he came into town. We haven't seen him otherwise. So only being able to campaign on Wednesday and Saturday would be one more day than he's been campaigning most weeks up to this point.


And I think what's fascinating about this moment is, he's still leading or -- within the margin in every single swing state -- he's still leading within the margin in just about every single national poll you're seeing. So for him, the idea of, well, we need to change everything around doesn't necessarily click.

The reality is when you tie in the financial constraints or crunch that they're facing right now, even if they believe, they can make that up. And if you look at kind of the reality of a Biden campaign, it's really starting to kick things into gear and will be on the air unchallenged over the course of the next couple of months. That can change fast.

RAJU: And just remind viewers why this is so significant about this trial day, of course, a former president facing criminal trial, this is the one that is almost certain to go to verdict here before November. And, look, that's -- we'll see what happens to the other ones that's tied up in other proceedings. Of course, we will be following that as well.

Very thank you guys all for joining us. It's been a quite an hour.


RAJU: I'm sure more to come. Thanks for joining us on Inside Politics on this very busy day.

CNN News Central will start after a quick break.