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Tomorrow: Closing Arguments In Trump Hush Money Trial; Politico: Biden Plans To Speak About Hush Money Verdict; Sen. Scott: "I Assume" The Jury Will Find Trump Innocent; Trump Wishes "Human Scum" A Happy Memorial Day In Truth Social Post; Special Counsel Asks For Gag Order In Classified Documents Case. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 27, 2024 - 12:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Welcome to Inside Politics, on this Memorial Day Monday. I'm Phil Mattingly in today for Dana Bash. And get ready for a history making weak in American politics. By the end of it, the jury of 12 ordinary American citizens may actually finish their deliberations and decide whether to make Donald Trump a convicted felon.

Now, no matter the outcome, both Trump and Biden campaigns will have huge strategic decisions to make on how much if at all, to focus on that verdict in the final months before election day. The Quinnipiac poll last week found that seven in 10 voters are actually following the trial, at least somewhat closely. The big question, whether an unprecedented criminal trial will have any impact at all on who wins in November.

My great political panel is here to help answer that question and many more. CNN's Kristen Holmes, Laura Barron-Lopez of the PBS NewsHour, CNN's Camila DeChalus and Jackie Kucinich of The Boston Globe. Guys, welcome. Thanks for coming in.

Kristen, I want to start with you, kind of the big picture of how much -- whatever happens this week, maybe leading into next week, depending on where the jury is, will actually matter on the election itself. You're so tied in with the Trump team. When they look ahead, past whatever the verdict is, how do they feel like this trial will impact these months ahead?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's two schools of thought. One is that it's not going to impact them at all. That's the kind of traditional Donald Trump rah, rah, school of thought that no matter what he does. He's Teflon. His base is going to support him, and eventually other people will come out too.

But there's also another school of thought, and this is with some of his senior advisors that they really don't know that this is uncharted territory. That there is a very real chance that this could deeply harm Donald Trump, particularly with those voters in this middle segment. Remember, both sides believe that this election is going to come down to a very small group of voters in the middle. If those people are turned off by a verdict -- a guilty verdict in this case, that's obviously going to impact the election.

MATTINGLY: And check -- that's such a true point, because I think a lot of people right now are in the position of like, everything is baked in, nothing actually matters. Nothing has moved for the better part of the eight -- eight to last 10 months.

As Wall Street Journal headline, I want to bring up. Since Donald Trump hush money verdict is set to shape a summer of presidential politics, but whether the verdict changes the game or not. These campaigns are now about to actually enter a real campaign as opposed to whatever the last five weeks have been.

And when you think about whether the conviction will matter, there's that new Quinnipiac poll likelihood of voting for Trump if he's convicted, more likely 24 percent, less likely 6 percent. No different, 68 percent -- 6 percent, these are Trump supporters. If 6 percent of Trump supporters to Kristen's point, it matters to them. And he's convicted, he has a huge problem.

JACKIE KUCINICH, BOSTON GLOBE WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: He does. And then on the flip side, if he's not convicted, what kind of momentum could that present and could be problematic for the Biden campaign? I think you really will have kind of choose your own adventure situation, depending on this verdict. There's an expectation that Biden will give a speech once this dropped. So, you know, I'm sure there's two versions of that speech. Many versions, that speech, honestly, that they're working on.

Two just determine, you know, which way to instruct the country. To put out a message, when you are the sitting president United States and your opponent is going through, you know, whatever happens.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Regardless of the outcome in this first trial. You know, the President Biden's campaign to Jackie's point is essentially staffing up already. They said that they're going to be hiring campaign staff, specifically dedicated to these independent Nikki Haley type voters. That is what they are going to be fully dedicated to, to turning them out, to trying to persuade them, regardless of whether or not Trump is convicted.

And they're also heavily targeting some Republican big name, potential endorsements. In addition to Jeff Duncan, the former Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, but other Republicans, you know, they didn't get Nikki Haley. There didn't appear to be any outreach to Nikki Haley at all. But there's other Republicans that they could try to get on President Biden side.

MATTINGLY: You know, Camila, on that point, I think Jackie alluded to this, too. There's the political story (inaudible) wrote it. It's Biden stayed silent on Trump's trial. The verdict is going to change that. We're talking about a potential speech from the White House. How are they thinking about this? They've been so cautious, and so intentionally hands off related to any of the cases. What do they do now? CAMILA DECHALUS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, what campaign officials just have told us at this point in time, they are monitoring this trial, but whether they're going to use this campaign time when they're talking to voters to really talk about it. They say that they rather focus on other issues, talking about abortion, talking about what they're doing for veterans.


It's when you were talking about independence earlier, that is a key demographic that Biden is targeting. But look at when he even went to New Hampshire. That is a state that has a lot of independence. So, it's how they're strategically moving to address not only what's happening in the country, but a lot of the disconnect that sometimes voters say is that Biden is not really in touch with what's happening in the country.

And even though voters are paying attention to this trial, he has used this time in the past few months to really talk about issues like the economy that voters are really caring about. But whether we see that in the upcoming days that they're going to shift their tune when they have talked about Trump. He's talked -- Biden's talked about how he poses a threat to democracy. But whether that's going to get more aggressive, we'll see that in the upcoming days.

MATTINGLY: We've talked about this a lot during the trial, kind of during commercial breaks, shitting for hours. About how you kind of tip your cap a little bit to Todd Blanche and their legal team. They have kept Trump channels, at least if you compare it to past trial, experiences where he's lashed out or stormed out or any of those things.

The New York Times writing about kind of what happens next. This weekend said, they expect will be angry and vengeful, which I don't think needs to take a ton of reporting. To figure out that's where he's going to be. How does his team think that will affect their kind of strategy going forward?

HOLMES: I really don't think that they're quite sure what to expect from the next week. I think there are two -- again, two schools of thought. One is that there could be a hung jury. That is the hope that they reached one jury and this or -- that he's going to be convicted. And that's what Donald Trump has been saying privately that he believes that he's likely to get convicted. He says it's an unfair jury that it's because it's based in Manhattan.

But you know, they haven't even really -- you know, we're hearing about Biden, talking about making remarks. They haven't really figured out what they're going to do after this verdict comes down. How are they going to respond? Is he going to give remarks right away? Is he going to set something up at Trump Tower? Are they going to wait a beat? Is he going to leave and go somewhere else? These are all conversations that they're currently having right now.

So as to how this actually affects the campaign. They're not even through the end of the week yet. They need to get through that first to figure out like, what is actually -- you know, how many plans do we need to have here to figure out what exactly is going on?

MATTINGLY: I've had this through the last couple of weeks. It's just me talking to myself. So, it might be crazy when I talk about it.

HOLMES: As wonder.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. As wonder. As (inaudible) which is -- you know, for a lot of folks, they haven't seen a real campaign since 2016 right. COVID happened in 2020, kind of at the peak moment of the Democratic primaries. This campaign cycle has not really been much of a campaign that Republican primaries were snuffed out pretty quick because Trump and his team steamrolled everybody else then the trial.

Feels like we're going to get a real campaign in the next three to four months. We haven't seen in a while. Is that right? Are we still going to get kind of a very similar slow moving whatever this has been?

BARRON-LOPEZ: No. I think -- I think that's right. I mean, President Biden's campaign would argue that he's been out there a ton. Well, Trump has been stuck in court --

MATTINGLY: Which is a fair argument.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. And he's been trying whether it's in the presidential capacity or campaign capacity going all across the country, trying to make that economic argument, showing that they're trying to, you know, put shovels in the ground and that the infrastructure is yielding -- the infrastructure bill is yielding jobs. And the other bills that he's passed are yielding more jobs. But I think that, yes, especially as we head into the debate and then coming out of the end of June debate, it is going to be full swing ahead -- both of these.

KUCINICH: Yeah. That debate does seem like it's going to be a starting gun of sorts just for the more traditional campaign where you do have, you know, candidates in different parts of the country. But putting their message out there to voters that you have not seen that kind of split screen, yet. I don't think we have them in both the swing states doing that thing.

MATTINGLY: It's a novel concept.


MATTINGLY: I want to ask before we go, there's been -- we've seen the stream of Republican supporters, kind of making their way up to the New York courthouse because they care -- mostly, though, because they want to be the vice president. Why one of those potential vice- presidential candidates was asked about what the verdict would say, by Dana Bash. Listen.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Do you have faith that the jury is going to deliver a fair verdict? SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R-SC): Well, there's no crimes by assume that they will actually find him innocent. The only person guilty in that courtroom is D.A. Bragg.

BASH: But just to be clear, you have faith in the jury system. And in particular -- again, these 12 ordinary Americans who are going to ultimately decide.

SCOTT: I know that 96 percent is the number I've heard of the number of Democrats in that area of Manhattan. So, I hope that they come to the right decision.


MATTINGLY: You don't have a free bottle of sorts there. But also, maybe how Republicans will frame if Trump actually is convicted here.

DECHALUS: That's right because this is playing out in real time. They're waiting to see how Trump and his team is going to respond to this. But there's no doubt that there is a lot of implications and consequences of what can come out of this, especially when you've come to Congress and what they're trying to do Republicans in particular.

And so, you have Trump's support base, almost playing it by here being very cautious of what they say at this point in time, because there are direct implications of what could happen and the fact that he's running for reelections.

And you're hearing from these voters who are also tuning in and trying to decide for themselves, whether this is going to change their point -- their frame, how they believe if they're going to put their support behind Trump or Biden. This is something that they're just trying to play really cautiously as they wait for the final break to come out.


MATTINGLY: Yeah. I mean novel concept. We don't know what's going to happen next and be aware of that. That's OK. Coming up next. Donald Trump is booed and heckled while trying to speak to the Libertarian Party convention. Wasn't a sign of strength. He's actually willing to speak to an unfriendly crowd or did his campaign just not really know what he was in for? The White House says inflation is falling, the economy is booming. Americans don't seem to buy it. We'll explain why. That's next.




MATTINGLY: Welcome back. Memorial Day is meant to honor the fallen soldiers of the U.S. military. For Donald Trump this morning, it was an excuse to go after his self-proclaimed enemies. He says, quote, Happy Memorial Day to all including the human scum, that is working so hard to destroy our once great country. It goes on to attack two judges, overseeing his trials and the woman who says he sexually assaulted her.

My panel is back with me now. And look I get it that like happy whatever to haters and losers is kind of his shtick. But like, come on, man. Like, should the people care, that sucks -- to be candid.

KUCINICH: I think it -- but it follows a pattern. And he hasn't really received a lot of consequences for this kind of talk in the past. And that is something that's targeted just at those who, like Donald Trump, we're not trying to win any hearts and minds of that particular with a couple of truth.

BARRON-LOPEZ: But what we're just talking about, which was whether or not he's going to be able to win over those independents, whether or not he's going to be able to win over some moderate Republicans that he lost in 2020 in states like Arizona that went to Biden. Voters I spoke to there who had been lifelong Republicans.

Is he going to be able to win them over if he's constantly, you know, on a day that is supposed to remember veterans attack other -- you know, law enforcement. And that's something that the Biden campaign is going to be using examples of the -- in the past when he's attacked veterans, in the past when he said that he only likes soldiers that win. And they're going to use that to appeal to those independent Nikki Haley talked about.

HOLMES: I do -- I have wondered, and I don't know the answer to this. But if just being on Truth Social has actually somewhat helped Donald Trump because not everyone has been exposed to this constant delusion of negativity. I mean, one of the things -- I met someone in Iowa during the caucuses, who told me that they believe the election was stolen. And I was like, hear me out.

What if the election wasn't stolen? But that everybody, including you, who was a Trump supporter were just really exhausted by the constant drinking from a firehose that people felt. So, people didn't actually show up to vote, including you who told me that you didn't show up to vote. It was like, yeah, well, we were all really tired.

And I wonder if being on Truth Social was kind of silo, where it's not public, or it's only public, if someone else posted, not having this constant innovation has actually somehow helped Donald Trump because people don't feel so exhausted by seeing it all the time.

MATTINGLY: I think it's an underappreciated dynamic. And one to your point, like the Biden campaign -- I remember talking -- vividly remember talking to somebody in the White House early on and in the first term where they were like, man, we kind of wish Trump was back on Twitter because it was easier to show these things.

Moving on to the kind of things that really matter with Trump right now, not the inability to separate two posts, just make them loyal, they post and then go ahead on your ranch. He was booed at the Libertarian convention. I think we have some of the -- let's play some of the sound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We want Libertarian votes because you stand for what we stand for. If we unite, we are unstoppable. I will be a true friend to Libertarians in the White House. The Libertarian Party should nominate Trump for president of the United States. Whoa.


MATTINGLY: Now, because we're talking about social media, we should be very clear. Trump did post on Truth Social that while he didn't file the paperwork to become the libertarian candidate, he absolutely would have gotten it if he wanted it, which didn't seem true based on the crowd response. What did you make of it? Does it matter?

DECHALUS: I mean, it does, especially when he's going out, trying to talk to this particular group of people, libertarians. When he's gone to even speak at different events, like you had a few months ago when he tried to speak to black voters and saying, hey, this is why you should vote for me. I think this is just a very messaging where yes, a tailor it more. And there is that that question of what can you do for me? What is that vote if I cast it for you? What am I going to get returned?

And you see that reception, not as warm as he anticipated. When -- if you've gone to a Trump rally, where he almost feeds off of the cheering. They're almost like that -- that really boasts his confidence that really sets him apart where he kind of goes and goes into his talking points. So, you see that this is not the reception that he's used to getting when he's out on the campaign trail at his rallies where he knows he's surrounded by supporters.

KUCINICH: I think he also -- his appearance there had everything to do with someone else's appearance there, which is RFK Jr, who they have increasingly gone after in the Trump campaign. And who they see -- you know, this is someone that could cut into Trump's margins because the people -- if you're a Trump supporter and you're mad about the lockdowns, you're mad about what happened during COVID.

And you like the vaccine, and you like the anti-vaccine message that you're hearing for the Kennedy campaign. You're following Trump's campaign, you got to be a little bit worried about that, which is why he's calling him, you know, leftist lunatic (Ph) and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

MATTINGLY: I think it's clearly one element of it. But throughout as they've kind of wandered up to this, I think they knew what was going to happen when Trump went there. And by they, I mean the kind of (inaudible), Siouxsie Wiles brain meld (Ph). They also know the numbers. And in 2016, Gary Johnson, who is a Libertarian candidate took 3 percent of the vote in a state that I think Hillary Clinton won by less than 3 percent. Those are numbers. Those are votes that matters that driving this.


HOLMES: I think that again, they didn't know what they were walking into. And at the end of it, his speech was 30 minutes. I mean, have you ever seen Donald Trump speak for 30 minutes -- little late to flat 90 and then over that, if he's having a good time. So, 30 minutes, in and out, you know, to someone point he was tackling them. The concern with RFK is exactly what you're mentioning.

Yes, they're -- they've seen polling. They've seen all simple number announces that this might siphon votes away from Biden. But when I talk to his senior advisors, there's a real belief that they have absolutely no idea that they don't know where these votes are going to come from. That they don't know that this isn't going to hurt Donald Trump.

And so, getting him in front of people as many people as he can, which are in this world, that could help him even with just a little bit as they try to navigate this kind of RFK.

DECHALUS: And even to Kristen's point on this, what the Trump and I've talked to a lot of Biden campaign advisors on this topic is that they're not just giving after groups that historically have gone out and casted a vote. They're trying to target voters who have back in the day like they didn't vote that. In the last 2020 election cycle, that they didn't go and cast their ballot. They're trying to target those voters and try to see how can they get them to mobilize and go out to the ballot time this time around?

And now when we're talking about the slim margin, that they think that it's going to be between Trump and Biden. They're really trying to go after those voters, the ones that haven't historically voted in the past, but they're really trying to get of the --

HOLMES: And they're not all in the middle. It's people that can fall on either side but haven't been identified because that's exactly what the Trump people are doing. They're looking for -- I mean, on the Trump side, looking for low propensity voters who have historically in the past voted Democrat, but they believe now are more right leaning.

They don't know that they'll show up but they're trying to get out there into these communities to try to drive them not to vote. Because if you look at this the way that the table is set right now, if the election is going to be determined it's just going to be determined by these people in the middle. So now, you're seeing them go outside -- to these outside areas to try to bring in new voters.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. It's a fascinating like shadow boxing match going on with low propensity voters, but you need an operation to actually deliver a chase program and that's where I'm not totally sure where the Trump campaign is. We got a lot more to come on that and many other things. We're going to be breaking down. Everything you need to know about the Trump hush money trial as the jury prepares to begin deliberations. That's next.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTINGLY: Tomorrow could be the most important day yet of the Trump hush money trial. Make or break closing arguments begin in the morning and are expected to wrap up by the end of the day. So, when will jury deliberations began? And when could we get the verdict. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is going to give me exact unequivocal answers to both of the -- she's just going to tell us how this legal term -- as actually I'll going to play out, given what should people know going into this week?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Phil, tomorrow is going to be a day of storytelling and persuasion in the courthouse in Manhattan. That's because the defense team of Donald Trump and then the prosecutors are going to be giving their closing summations of the case here. So, the defense will speak first. But the prosecutors, they're the ones that are going to have to put everything together that they have laid out over this seven-week trial before the jury.

They're going to be talking about all 20 witnesses they called to testify. They're going to be trying to convince the jury that Donald Trump is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, knew that when payments were made to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet in 2016 by his attorney, Michael Cohen.

That that was something Trump wanted to do because he wanted to keep it quiet. He knew that he was making false statements in 34 different types of records, checks, invoices, and his motivation was related to protecting his campaign. The defense is going to say, don't listen to what Michael Cohen said on the stand. He's not a very credible guy. And also, the prosecutors didn't have enough evidence there to put this all together.

Then the jury will get to think about that for as long as it takes. They will deliberate after receiving some instruction from the judge on the law and exactly the standards that are in place here for these charges. It's a very big pivotal week ahead. And we just don't know yet when the trial will end.

MATTINGLY: Katelyn, well I got you. Let's we forget that there are three other criminal issues that the former president is dealing with. In Florida prosecutors want another gag order on the former president. What's it all about?

POLANTZ: Yeah. this is a situation that's escalated very quickly in this case in Florida, the classified documents case. There were some filings that came out in court last week, Phil, and they were very procedural documents of the FBI's planned for the search at Mar-a-Lago in August of 2022.

Donald Trump looked at one of those procedures on how the FBI may be allowed to use force against people in a -- in an execution of a warrant if the need arises. And when it is limited. What the procedures are? He made that into a situation where he was saying it -- he merely escaped to death. That caused a lot of blow back.

The prosecutors have gone to the judge and say this is a really risky situation, have Donald Trump out there saying this misleading thing. And that this is the sort of statement publicly that could cause a lot of harassment and threats and really risk both the trial itself and the livelihoods of law enforcement who were involved in that search.

They want a gag order. It's the first time this has been asked of Judge Aileen Cannon to consider something like this for Trump. He has gag orders on him in other cases. But we're waiting to see how the judge responds here and how quickly she does so as well. Phil?

MATTINGLY: All right. Katelyn Polantz for us and help us give us some perspective on the hush money trial and what to expect this week.