Return to Transcripts main page

Isa Soares Tonight

Judge Finds Trump In Contempt For Violating Gag Order; Cohen's Former Banker Gives Details On Stormy Daniels' Payment; Columbia University Threatens Expulsion Of Pro-Palestinian Protesters; Trump On Trial; Trump Violates Gag Order Nine Times; Keith Davidson Testifies In Court; Students Occupy Columbia University Building; Columbia Students Face Expulsion; Biden Administration To Reclassify Marijuana. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired April 30, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares in London where it's just gone 7:00 p.m.,

and we have a very busy hour ahead. I'll have your top international stories, including of course, the latest on the mounting pro-Palestinian

protests that we have seen on college campuses across the United States.

Plus, the very latest on those crucial talks and a new deal between Israel and Hamas for a ceasefire as well as a hostage release.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I'm Omar Jimenez in New York outside the courthouse where Donald Trump's hush money trial is being held.

And we're going to begin with a stunning warning from the judge in the trial. He's willing to put the former president behind bars if he once

again violates a gag order in the case.

Now, that warning came with Judge Juan Merchan ruling today that Trump violated the gag order nine times for a total fine of $9,000. And just

moments ago, Trump removed the post criticizing trial witnesses from his Truth Social account and his campaign website, which is what this recent

ruling ordered him to do.

And all of this was just minutes before the deadline given to him by the judge. Now, the first witness on the stand today was Michael Cohen's former

banker Gary Farro. Now, he testified about the paperwork connected to the payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Behind the scenes, the former president appears to be unhappy with his lead attorney, the "New York Times" reports that Trump has been complaining Todd

Blanche is not being aggressive enough, and that Blanche should be attacking witnesses, the jury and the judge.

And note throughout all of this, Trump is not able to speak in court, so likely wants his attorney to do some of that for him. Now, on the left side

of your screen, you can see key updates from the trial -- oh, sorry, that's that way. Key updates from the trial, CNN has reporters inside the

courtroom keeping us up-to-the-minute on what's going on since cameras aren't allowed inside.

Everything they see and hear will appear on that side panel. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider is with us now. All right, Jessica, so, we

seem to be getting more into the nitty-gritty details of the case that the prosecution is building today with what we're hearing from witnesses. Get

us up to speed on what we've heard so far.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, right before we went to the lunch break, we started hearing from the attorney for Stormy

Daniels talking about his relationship also with Karen McDougal representing her. So, we'll likely hear more of that.

But you know, during the lunch break, like you said, the biggest news was that Trump has taken down those seven social media posts as ordered by the

judge and then found to be violating the gag order. So, now we are getting ready in just the next 15 minutes for the afternoon session of today's


So, before the break, we heard extensively from Keith Davidson. Like I said, the attorney who worked with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

He helped broker their hush money deals in the lead-up to the 2016 election. And of course, it's the details around Stormy Daniels and her

payment that will be much more impactful since that's what prosecutors have centered their charges around.

So, likely we'll hear that this afternoon once we get back into session around 2:15. But so far, we've heard about how Davidson, he worked with

Karen McDougal, she was deciding which publication to sell her story to, alleging this affair with Donald Trump. Now, what Davidson talked about is

how "ABC News" actually wanted to interview McDougal.

Ultimately, though, McDougal decided that she really didn't want to go public with her story. She said, in his words that she didn't want to be

labeled as the other woman. And she much prefer to deal with "AMI" and the "National Enquirer", where she could get some cash and then also be

contracted to be a fitness contributor to the magazine.

So, that is what we've heard so far from Keith Davidson, we'll likely hear a lot more from Davidson once he gets back on the stand around 2:15, and

then he'll likely at some point, I would guess today, Omar, get into the details of the deal that he worked out with Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy

Daniels in the day is really -- it was just mere days before the 2016 election, and that is what's at the crux of this case.

Prosecutors have brought in the McDougal testimony previously, and now with Keith Davidson, to kind of establish this pattern and practice of paying

off people who were accusing Donald Trump. But that's not central to the case. What's central to the case is the Stormy Daniels and that payoff.


So, presumably, Davidson will be a key witness for them just like we saw David Pecker as a key witness last week. So, we had some relatively tame

and boring testimony this morning, just sort of procedure witnesses talking about depositions and video. But this really is getting back into the meat

of it, back into those hush money payments, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Well, people forget, this is still a trial, not everything is exciting. Sometimes --


JIMENEZ: You get -- you get witnesses that just sort of lay out the background.


JIMENEZ: CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider, really appreciate it. Now, as Jessica mentioned, court is scheduled to get back in session in

about ten minutes once they return from lunch, and we're joined now by criminal defense attorney Joseph Tully to talk a little bit more about


So, I want to get to a little bit of the gag order first, because the Trump -- the Truth Social posts obviously have been taken down right now. But the

judge also wrote in his contempt ruling, it would be preferable if the court can impose a fine more appropriate with the person's wealth since

we're really talking about a few thousand dollars here.

And that the court must consider whether in some instances jail may be a necessary punishment. Do you see that as a real possibility here?

JOSEPH TULLY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I do see it as a real possibility, but I think the judge is trying to show restraint at this point. You know,

Trump got a lot more publicity than $7,000 is worth. You know, in other words, for that $7,000 fine, he got, you know, millions of dollars worth of


So, the judge's point is well taken. But I think the judge is trying to show restraint and it's a normal warning that a judge says to anybody who

is facing contempt, look, I found you in contempt. If you keep going, I will put you in jail. So, it's -- I don't find that surprising. I find that

to be rather run in the mill. It's a comment that any judge would make in that situation.

JIMENEZ: And look, so far to this point, we're obviously -- we've only heard from a few witnesses the prosecution has called over the course of

last week, and this week, one from David Pecker, who used to run "AMI", who is essentially facilitating these "catch and kill" schemes.

But also, we're starting to hear from Keith Davidson, who was the attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Do you see a strategy in what the

prosecution is doing here in regards to the order of witnesses that they're calling in the case that they're trying to build here?

TULLY: I don't necessarily see it as strategy in the order. A lot of times, an order is dictated by people's schedules. You're trying to juggle

different people's schedules. And as a trial attorney to present the case to the jury, you do have a preferred order, but many times, it's impossible

to get that dream order that you need, because you're trying to accommodate your witnesses.

I do think that they are being pressed to prove each and every little thing. I don't think that, that depends. Some prosecution are getting

along. I think the defense is saying I'm not going to stipulate to this little tiny simple fact to go out, put on a witness and prove it. And I

think that's why we're going through a lot of very quick witnesses as you pointed out earlier.

So, I do think that the prosecutions overall strategy is coming through, but there may not be an exact correlation with the order of the witnesses.

JIMENEZ: And as I mentioned before, coming to you, you know, we're scheduled to get back in session in just a few minutes in courts now to

pick up testimony with Keith Davidson. What are you looking for in the remainder of his testimony here?

TULLY: Well, I think the prosecution is doing a slow-build. The key point here isn't whether or not any of this stuff happened. It's -- the

prosecution has to prove that Donald Trump in his mind thought this is against federal finance law, let's do it anyway, because I want to protect

my election. You know, let's make these payments. They're against federal finance law, but I still want to do it even though it breaks a law in order

to help my campaign.

That's what they need to prove. So, they're doing -- they're laying a lot of circumstantial evidence because you can't get inside somebody's head.

You can't have a print-out of their thoughts, but you can prove what they're thinking through circumstantial evidence, and I think that's --

they're getting closer and closer to that key point that they need to get to.

JIMENEZ: Yes, well, we will see as that plays out again when court picks back up in about five minutes from now, Keith Davidson expected to be back

on the stand. Joseph Tully, really appreciate the perspective, thank you for being here. But Isa, of course, it is a slow march in the prosecution,

calling these witnesses forward here, and we're going to continue to monitor as I send it back over to you --

SOARES: Yes --

JIMENEZ: Before you look at the rest of the stories going on in the world.

SOARES: Thank you very much, Omar, we'll touch base with you in about ten minutes or so. Thank you.


And we are tracking a rise in pro-Palestinian protesters illegally occupying college buildings. Columbia University is advising people to stay

away from its main campus after dozens of people barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall.

The White House denounced the takeover of any university building, calling it, quote, "absolutely the wrong approach". Dozens of people have been

arrested at the University of Texas at Austin and at Virginia Tech after referring to this -- we showed you some of those live images -- roughly at

this time yesterday here on the show.

Now, the pro-Palestinian protests are also gripping schools outside of the United States, including Canada's McGill University, academic leaders there

requesting police assistance, something that we have seen, of course, in the streets of Paris over the last few weeks.

Well, CNN is live on the ground at these campus protests. Ed Lavandera joins us from University of Texas at Austin and Polo Sandoval joins us from

Columbia University. And Polo, first to you, I mean, yesterday, these students protesters were facing the threat of suspension, today, facing the

threat of expulsion.

I'm talking about those who are occupying of course, Hamilton Hall. What is the latest? What are you hearing from university as well as from the


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a brand new threat of potential expulsion that we have received from Columbia University directed

specifically at the occupants of the building that you see behind me. You mentioned that Hamilton Hall, this historic building at the Columbia campus

that was the scene of some pretty extraordinary images overnight.

As at one point, what we saw was a group of individuals basically advancing on the building, essentially breaking into that building and then

occupying. Here we are well over 12 hours later, and according to several sources, there are still those individuals that are still inside and based

on a conversation that my colleague Jeff Winter had with one of the previous negotiators that was speaking to the university, we now have a

better idea of some of the people or the affiliation that some of the people who are currently inside likely have.

Jeff speaking to Mahmoud Khalil(ph), who is actually a member of Columbia University apartheid divest, and he confirms to Jeff that some of that

group's members are currently occupying that building that you see behind me. Khalil(ph) adding that he has -- it is his understanding based on what

he's been -- what he's heard from the university that he is suspended.

You recall Khalil(ph), some of the voices that we've been bringing to you. He was the -- one of the sort of official representatives of those

negotiations that lasted for days up until those negotiations came to abrupt stop yesterday when the university drew that line in the sand that

divestment is not on the table, which is eventually would lead to that escalation during the overnight hours.

Khalil(ph) also saying -- telling Jeff that at this point, whatever happens next, it is entirely up to the university. Khalil(ph) also calling on the

university to resume those negotiations. But again, Isa, what we have heard from school officials just a few moments ago, which is a very direct threat

and a warning, really, to those who are occupying the Hamilton Hall, which is, if they do not leave their building, then they will face expulsion.

That is very different from the threat of suspension that --

SOARES: Yes --

SANDOVAL: We have heard for weeks now.

SOARES: And do we know how many students are occupying Hamilton Hall, Polo?

SANDOVAL: It's such an important question, and honestly, there is no answer right now. We do hope that we will hear from Columbia officials and also

from members of some of the student organizations on campus to try to understand a little bit more, but just have some fascinating color here.

Again, they're going on well over 12 hours now. So, the question is what are they eating? Our colleague Julia Jones is currently on campus, a

student herself, she reports that they were using a police system to basically hoist up food to at least keep them going. So, it does give you a

sense that there's definitely going to be something that will not be resolved any time soon.

And there are still that lingering question of when or if Columbia University officials will once again tap the NYPD for assistance in trying

to restore order. And remember Hamilton Hall has been the stage of previous divestment calls going all the way back to the '60s and some of those have

actually worked. So, that kind of legacy --

SOARES: Yes --

SANDOVAL: Is what's really driving some of the students who refused to go anywhere.

SOARES: Yes, and there is definitely a precedent. We also know the New York City mayor is set to meet with Columbia leadership, I believe, to determine

what they call next steps. Let's go to Ed Lavandera, and Ed, I mean, it was definitely very colorful this time yesterday where you were.

What is the status of protests right now? What's the mood like today, Ed?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, what you see behind me is a gathering of a non-student group that is organizing what

is billed as a Palestine 101 educational get together. Not too different from the way the events yesterday started, which was described as an

educational then poetry reading, that sort of thing.


And then it quickly escalated. But right now, it's a small group. We do know that yesterday -- and authorities here in Austin, Texas, have told us

79 people were arrested. University officials have been saying that they believe that many of the people who were arrested, those protesters

yesterday on campus were not necessarily UT students.

But nonetheless, it was a protest that extended well load -- well, to 67 hours long as it -- state troopers in riot gear showed up here on this very

spot on campus yesterday, and started forcibly removing dozens of protesters that had tried to set up an encampment. And that is the line in

the sand that university officials here have drawn, is that they were not going to allow people to set up tents to occupy any kind of space here on

the university.

Obviously, protesters here have been saying that it was excessive force and what authorities here have done goes well beyond what should have been

done, and that they escalated the situation, making matters worse. That is the tension that we see continuing to erupt here now into a second week of

protests here in Austin.

SOARES: Thank you very much, Ed Lavandera for us there as well. Our thanks to Polo Sandoval, and of course, we will speak to our colleague, Julia

Vargas Jones inside Columbia University in about, I would say 15 minutes also. Well, after Columbia University's Hamilton Hall building was stormed

by protesters as Polo was saying there, several banners were put out.

And I want to show you some of them. One spelled out Intifada, if you can read that in red. The Arabic word for uprising, one hanging out of another

window reads, Hinds Hall, a student group explain Hinds Hall, was in honor of Hind Rajab. If you remember, a five-year-old Palestinian girl who was

found dead in a car that came under Israeli fire in Gaza.

The child and several of her relatives, if you remember, were killed back in February. Important context there. Well, the U.S. Secretary of State is

in Tel Aviv right now, Antony Blinken touched down just a short time ago. He is touring the region to promote a proposal for a ceasefire between

Israel and Hamas.

But the threat of a major Israeli operation in southern Gaza hangs over all, of course, this diplomacy. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu says Israel will enter Rafah, quote, "with or without a deal". Here's what the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had to say about

that, or what it could mean for the region.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY-GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: A military assault on Rafah would be an unbearable escalation, killing thousands more civilians

and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. It will have a devastating impact on Palestinians in Gaza with serious repercussions on the occupied

West Bank and across the wider region.


SOARES: In the meantime, Hamas is still considering a proposal to exchange hostages in exchange for a ceasefire. And here's our Jeremy Diamond with

the very latest for you from Jerusalem.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Israeli officials are awaiting Hamas' response to the latest ceasefire and hostage

deal proposal. But as they are doing that, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing that Israeli forces will enter Rafah one way

or the other.

He says with or without a deal, Israeli forces will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there. Now, he is the Israeli Prime

Minister, his words should certainly be taken with a seriousness that they require, but they should also be taken with a grain of salt and viewed

through the lens in which they were delivered.

And that is certainly a political lens, one that is -- words that are intended for a domestic political audience as the Israeli Prime Minister

tries to ensure that his right flank in his current government sticks with him. But there's no question that this is bluster in part, and that's

because in speaking privately with Israeli officials, it's very clear that a hostage deal would indeed prevent or at least delay a significant Israeli

ground operation in Rafah.

If there is a hostage deal, that means that there will be a ceasefire on the ground, and that means that Israeli forces will not for at least some

time enter Rafah. And there's no question that the possibility of that Rafah offensive is weighing very heavily on these negotiations, weighing

very heavily on this latest Egyptian framework which could see some 20 to 33 Israeli hostages released over several weeks, weeks of pause in the

fighting and potentially even a longer-term ceasefire for at least one year.

But now, the question is, what will Hamas' response be? Hamas' leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar has received this proposal over the course of the last

few days, and he's been reviewing it, and his response could come as early as today, perhaps tomorrow, but there's no question that, that response

will be critical to determining whether or not a hostage deal, a ceasefire will be possible in the coming weeks, or whether instead, Israeli forces

will begin evacuating civilians from Rafah and then moving troops in. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Jerusalem.



SOARES: Well, the U.N.'s top court issued a ruling today regarding western support for the Israeli military. The international court of justice

rejected Nicaragua's request for an emergency order, demanding Germany halt arm exports to Israel. But it also refused to strike down the lawsuit,

meaning the case will proceed.

Nicaragua has accused Berlin of facilitating genocide in Gaza through its support for Israel and its withdrawal of funding for UNRWA. Israel denies

allegations of genocide and says it's aim is to dismantle Hamas.

Still to come on the show tonight, we'll bring you the view from flood- ravaged Kenya where neighbors and relatives are digging through the mud to look for the missing because there just aren't enough rescue workers to go

around. We'll bring you that story after this short break. You are watching CNN.


SOARES: Well, across Kenya, dozens of people have died in devastating floods, and many more are missing. The extreme rain that's pounded the

country for several days has also left more than 190,000 people displaced. Our Larry Madowo is on the ground in one of the worst affected areas.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After weeks of heavy rains and flash floods, devastation is everywhere in this part of Kenya. Homes

swept away, vehicles overturned, trees uprooted. Here in the town of Mai Mahiu, near the capital Nairobi, birds still sing eerily, and the few trees

that remain, but on the ground, death and destruction are everywhere.

Dozens were killed after floodwaters blew through a tunnel under a railway bridge, according to locals and first responders in Mai Mahiu. Rescuers are

clearing debris as they tried to recover bodies and reach survivors.

(on camera): They're trying to clear the heap back there because they believe somebody could still be buried under there. These are remnants of a

house -- there's a true -- tree that was uprooted, and all of that because across the road from here, after they heard a phone vibrating, they were

able to pull out the body of a man after hours of digging. Dozens are still missing after the flash floods here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We still don't know where our son is. That night was his third birthday. I put him to bed well, and covered



I didn't know I was saying goodbye.

MADOWO (voice-over): Thousands have been told to seek higher ground or have been evacuated to government-run facilities like Idokori Macau(ph), who

lost everything he owned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I had a full house of clothes, but I have nothing now, not even a mattress. It's totally plain. You can't tell

there was a house there. I'm now left destitute. There's nowhere to go.

MADOWO: While flooding is not uncommon during the country's wet season, experts say the El Nino weather phenomenon in climate change exacerbated

this year's rainfall.

WILLIAM RUTO, PRESIDENT, KENYA: It is a realization that while we had that drought a year ago, today, we have floods. A year ago, Malawi, Zimbabwe and

Mozambique were having floods, today, they're having drought. That is the reality. That is the new normal.

MADOWO: The U.N. resident representative in Kenya has said, the country is facing a climate emergency that it did not cause droughts and floods.

Relentless rain has also impacted Burundi and Tanzania, where at least 155 people have been killed by flooding.

Meanwhile, rainfall is expected to continue in several parts of Kenya for the next six days. The floods in many areas showing no signs of letting up.

Larry Madowo, CNN, Mai Mahiu, Kenya.


SOARES: Well, our thanks to Larry for that report. Well, members of the G7 have agreed to shut down all their core plugs by 2035 in a climate policy

breakthrough. Ministers from each country have been meeting in Italy where climate talks are expected to wrap soon.

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and ending its use has been a contentious topic, but the deal leaves the door open for countries to stretch that

deadline, in some cases, moving away from coal, of course, would impact Japan. The most climate experts say nearly a third of the country's

electricity came from coal last year.

Japan has blocked progress on the issue of past G7 meetings. We of course, will stay across that story. And the case against Ecuador brought forward

by Mexico at the International Court of Justice has now gotten underway. The complex diplomatic feud between the two countries went crescendo really

about three weeks ago when Ecuadorian police raided the Mexican Embassy, forcefully arresting former Vice President Jorge Glas.

Glas had been granted political asylum by Mexico, but is facing embezzlement charges in Ecuador. He claims his arrest was politically

motivated. Mexico is calling for Ecuador to be suspended from the U.N. Have a listen.


ALEJANDRO CELORIO ALCANTARA, FOREIGN MINISTRY LEGAL ADVISER, MEXICO: There are lines in international law which had not been crossed. Regrettably, the

Republic of Ecuador has crossed them. The actions undertaken by Ecuador not only transverse the established boundaries of international law, but also

have served at these concerting precedent that reverberates across the international community.


SOARES: And Ecuador will have a chance to reply to Mexico's case soon. And still to come tonight, Donald Trump's hush money trial continues in New

York. We'll discuss that. What the judge's finding that Trump violated a gag order, and what of course, comes next. Omar Jimenez is next.



JIMENEZ: All right. Everybody, welcome back. Court is now back in session, resuming with the testimony of attorney Keith Davidson, who previously

represented Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall to Women Central in the prosecution's case against the former president.

Right now, they're going through text messages that attorney shared with the prosecution. The "National Enquirer," which was a tabloid that was

central in the catch and kill schemes, essentially trying to identify negative stories about Donald Trump and killing them with the collaboration

of Trump's attorneys. That is where we are right now in witness testimony.

Today though, the jury has heard from multiple witnesses over the course of today, including the former attorney for Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels,

who I just mentioned. And Michael Cohen's former banker who provided details about the $130,000 payment to Daniels, which is at the center of

the case.

Now, at the start of the day, Judge Juan Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for violating his gag order nine times. The judge also warned Trump that future

violations could result in jail time. U.S. National Security Attorney Bradley Moss joins me now from Washington.

So, I just want to get your read, first on Judge Juan Merchan's ruling on the gag order, including bringing up the possibility of jail time.

BRADLEY MOSS, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Yes, I think this is a pretty measured approach from Judge Merchan because it didn't cross that

line. It didn't cross the Rubicon, so to speak, and immediately go to putting Donald Trump in jail, which would have obvious political, public

relations, and constitutional implications if he had done that.

He basically gave him a very clear warning. I'm finding that you willfully violated the protective order. I'm holding you in criminal contempt. I'm

imposing these monetary fines, which obviously for Donald Trump are nothing. And if we do this -- have to do this again, if you violate this

order again, I'm not above just putting you in jail at this point. It's a clear warning. Donald Trump some -- seems to have at least gotten the

message for the moment. The posts were deleted from Truth Social as required by Judge Machan's order. So, we'll see what happens going forward.

We know he doesn't like sitting in this courtroom day in and day out. We know he tends to lash out, especially when left to his own devices, really

just a question of how long can he hold out before he breaks this order again?

JIMENEZ: And for those watching right now, you can see just on the left side of your screen, on the right side of me right here, those are live

updates that are coming in as we're speaking from our reporters inside court because we're not able to get into court -- or cameras aren't able to

get into court.

I also want to ask you, Bradley, about -- because, look, this has been referred to many times as the hush money trial because obviously we're

dealing with hush money payments here.


But prosecutors, would want you to think and others would want you to think this is more of an interference trial because part of this was being done

to influence voters ahead of the 2016 election. Where do you draw the distinction between those two brandings, so to speak, and which one do you

think it is more of here?

MOSS: Well, it certainly leans more towards the idea of election of interference or the way I've chosen to describe it, more of election fraud

in terms of the nature of the case. Because remember, hush money payments in and of themselves generally are not illegal. There's nothing about it

that, you know, would run a quick follow of the law so long as it was properly documented, any taxes, you know, relevant to the money was paid

for. It's unseemly, it's gross, but they are not by themselves illegal.

Whereas falsifying business records to conceal payments to an adult porn star and it concealed payments to a Playboy playmate in furtherance of a

separate crime, such as, committee campaign finance violations or violating state and federal tax laws, that is election fraud. It was depriving the

public of the information that would be relevant to their decision on who to vote for back in November 2016.

JIMENEZ: Yes. And so far, for our viewers, by the way, Davidson has taken jurors to the negotiations of Karen McDougal's tabloid deal at times

describing growing frustration here.

Now, Bradley, obviously, we've been hearing from Keith Davidson to this point, going through some of those negotiations, some of those intricate

details. What are you looking for most in his testimony or why do you believe the prosecution essentially is putting him forward as one of their


MOSS: Well, they absolutely had to put Chief Davidson on there, if only for no other reason that he has eyewitness testimony and had relevant documents

and texts, of course, as to how these negotiations transpired between him, his two clients, Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, and AMI. AMI, of

course, as we know, owning the "National Enquirer," we heard all that testimony from David Pecker was at the core of these catching kill schemes,

part of this criminal conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and to do all this in support of Donald Trump, not as a personal matter, not to spare

Melania Trump, but in the context of the campaign.

You heard that from David Pecker. You've been hearing it now from Keith Davison on the stand that this was done in the context of the campaign and

getting these stories caught and killed so it wouldn't come out during the campaign.

JIMENEZ: And before we go, I just want to get -- obviously we've been going through some of the minute details here, but I want to go big picture for a

moment because, look, at the end of the day, we are dealing with class E felonies here, which is the lowest form of felony. It's not like we're

looking at extensive jail time, even if Donald Trump is found guilty here. But can you lay out why this trial is so significant?

MOSS: Sure, because this is how it all started. We've seen this with everything with Donald Trump has done over the last nine years that he kept

pushing boundaries, kept pushing back against norms, rules, even the law itself to see what he could get away with. And it all started with this

effort to defraud the public, to conceal from the public this information that may or may not have been relevant to how people would have voted back

in 2016.

Maybe it wouldn't have had any change. Maybe he would have won anyways, but it was within the public's interest and the right of the voters to know

this information. He conspired with Michael Cohen and AMI to conceal it from them. And everything we saw after that, from the Mueller probe, to

impeachment one, impeachment two, to the classified documents case all kick started off with, I got away with this in 2016. Let's see what more I can

get away with.

JIMENEZ: Well, it is important perspective, you know, as viewers may not be tuned into the little details every day that come from, let's just say, a

C-SPAN witness like we had earlier today. Bradley Moss, really appreciate your time and perspective.

Now, as far as scheduling, the trial will be dark again on Wednesday, and Donald Trump will use the day off to hit the campaign trail. Remember, we

are in an election year here in the United States. The presumptive Republican nominee for the presidential race is planning to go to the swing

states of Wisconsin and Michigan, then back to the Manhattan courtroom on Thursday. CNN's Stephen Collinson joins us with more on what's really a

remarkable political campaign versus trial juxtaposition.

And we knew this was going to be the case coming into the year when we saw the amount of indictments that were stacking up against him. But now, we're

actually seeing the reality of it playing out. Stephen, how do you expect this to translate to the campaign trail?


STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Well, Donald Trump's legal defense and his political one are pretty much the same in all of these

cases, not just the one that's taking place right now, it's that he's a victim of political persecution, and he himself is a -- is being targeted

by election interference by the Biden administration because he's been indicted criminally four times.

That isn't true. These cases have all gone through the legal system. They've produced indictments through grand juries. But in the hands of a

demagogue, really, who is as talented as Donald Trump, that can be a persuasive argument for many voters.

And going back to Bradley's point that he was just making there, it's true that there is a rational, legal explanation and path for these cases to

take place, a narrative, if you like, what the prosecution is giving to the jury, that this is election interference.

The problem is, it's a complicated argument. Does that really break through politically? Because politics is not really, as we've seen for years, from

Donald Trump in the most extreme fashion, it's not necessarily about facts, it's about the perception of facts and what people believe in. Trump is

very good at twisting those in a campaign context.

JIMENEZ: And look, I remember early on in the primary process, when the indictment out of Florida was announced, the classified documents case, I

went out to New Hampshire. I spoke to some of his supporters. And many of them only seemed to be emboldened when that indictment came out. But that

was also during the primary process. We're, of course, entering into the general election side of things here.

Do you expect there to be a difference in how voters perceive, you know, these mounting, indictments and potential convictions, as opposed to what

we saw on the primary side of things?

COLLINSON: There is some polling that some of Donald Trump's perhaps softer supporters might be convinced to take another look at this election if he

is convicted in one of these cases.

I think we know that the Trump campaign is very worried about the possibility of a conviction because they've spent so much time, along with

trans legal team, of trying to delay the other cases, many of which get to the -- you know, the attempt to steal the 2020 election and Trump's

hoarding of classified documents appear to contain much more serious alleged offenses than what we've heard -- been hearing about in the hush

money case, which after all, dates back to 2016, an election that was taking place eight years ago.

So, I think there is some reason to think that in the swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin that Trump will visit tomorrow, in some other states

like Georgia, where suburban voters, more moderate voters, Republicans who are disaffected with Trump, are very important, it could have an effect.

And of course, we know, the margins of this election are expected to be very slim in just a handful of states. It doesn't take much, the swaying of

10 or 20,000 votes in a country of 350 million people can decide who the president will be.

JACKSON: Well, and we even saw an election in Michigan, in the primary process, where Trump ran away with it. Nikki Haley still got a substantial

portion of the primary votes at the time. That seems to be at least an indication that there are some folks out there who are wobbling on their

support of him. Stephen Collinson, really appreciate you blending those two dynamics for us.

We're going to continue to follow the latest out of the Trump trial here in New York. But still, plenty of other stories to cover.

Still to come tonight, my colleague, Isa Soares, will have the details on the overnight barricade by protesters at a historic academic building. Stay




SOARES: If you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date with these images that are coming into us live. These are pictures from Chapel Hill,

and this is the home of the University of North Carolina.

Now, what we understand has been unfolding the last few minutes, and bear with the cameraman there and the camerawoman, because these are very lively

scenes. Police in Chapel Hill, this is just from moments ago in fact, are now physically pushing back protesters, as you can see there. We saw

earlier students carrying Palestinian flags and chanting. They had breached barricades and surrounded a flagpole, basically.

While being pushed the protesters -- we'll just try and see if I can hear them. This is live now, live images coming into us from the University of

North Carolina. But earlier, the protesters were chanted that people united will never be defeated. These are scenes, of course, that we have seen

being playing -- played out right across the United States, from East to the West Coast, of course.

Columbia University was really the epicenter of this all. But we saw similar scenes, if you remember, yesterday in Texas, at Austin University

there. But clearly here, tensions running very high at the University of North Carolina as police push back protesters.

Now, we are keeping a close eye on these images, as we have done throughout the week. As soon as there are any developments, we will bring them to you.

But as I was saying, Columbia University, which really was the epicenter of these demonstrations, now says students occupying an academic building

there will face expulsion.

Now, overnight, dozens barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall. They broke windows, you can see, blocked doors and chanted free Palestine. A law

enforcement official tells CNN New York police have no current plans to enter Columbia's campus.

Earlier today, the White House said President Joe Biden respects the right to free expression, but demonstrations need to be peaceful. I want to get

the latest there for what's happening on the ground. A rare inside look is Julia Vargas Jones. She's a student at Columbia University and works as a

reporter here for CNN.

Julia, great to see you. Look, yesterday the threat was of suspension. Today, the threat is of expulsion. Just talk us through what the university

is saying and what the protesters who are holed up inside are saying.

JULIA VARGAS JONES, CNN REPORTER: Well, Isa, I want to bring you first to just this scene right here. You see the protesters that have been holed up

inside this building, Hamilton Hall, they are getting supplies in through that little basket up there. They've been lowering in that to get supplies.

And they've been in there for about 12 hours now.

So, there's been coffee, food, other kinds of supplies going in to help them stay there even longer. Those organizers have called a rally for all

those students at Columbia University who can't enter. It's not many. It's only -- if you live on campus or if you are an essential staff. So, it's --

a lot of students cannot even make it to campus, but they called everyone who's here to show their support.

I want to bring you back now to the statement you mentioned, how they are facing. These students here are facing expulsion. The president sent in --

issuing a memorandum just minutes ago saying, protesters have chosen to escalate to an untenable situation, vandalizing the property, breaking

doors and windows, and blockading entrances. And we are following through with the consequences we outlined yesterday.


Yesterday, Isa, and just to give you a little refresher, 2:00 p.m. was the deadline for these people to clear the encampment. Let's (INAUDIBLE) this

way, if we can. Students have been camped out for almost two weeks on campus in a series of tents on a lawn, not 200 yards away from here. They

left that encampment yesterday after this 2:00 p.m. deadline to vacate, came and went.

They were offered by the university a possibility of not facing repercussions that would hinder their academic standing, but many of them

chose to stay and move to this building now, Isa, and that's what we're seeing now.

The university now could or could not calling the NYPD to help. They arrested over a hundred students just two weeks ago, and we're going to be

waiting to see what the next steps would be. Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and I know you'll stay across it for us there at Columbia University. Julia Varga Jones, appreciate it. Thank you, Julia.

We are going to take a short break. Be back in about two minutes or so.


SOARES: And just into CNN, we are getting word of a historic shift in U.S. drug policy. A person familiar with the plan says the Drug Enforcement

Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug. That would put marijuana on the same level as prescription drug like tunnel

(ph) with codeine.

Joining us now at CNN, Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee. And, MJ, I mean, this was pretty significant. Just talk us through what this could

mean, how soon this could happen.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what CNN has learned is that the Biden administration is moving to reclassify marijuana from

schedule one to schedule three. In plain English, what that means is that it would be treated as a less dangerous drug and federal restrictions

around marijuana would be loosened.

But a couple of things do need to happen first before this would potentially go into effect, including the OMB, the Office of Management and

Budget, reviewing this as well as a public comment period. So, all in all, this could end up taking weeks or months, again, before this goes into

effect, but there's no question that this would be a huge policy shift in terms of U.S. drug policy, policies that have really been in place for a

number of decades now, and also it would have significant political ramifications as well.


Just here from the White House, I can tell you that the president, for his part, going back to 2022, called for his administration to review the

potential reclassification of marijuana. And you'll recall that he pardoned thousands of Americans who were convicted of simple marijuana possession,

and he has also said that he supports broadly the decriminalization of cannabis.

Now, Democratic officials who are looking at this and potentially looking at the loosening of these federal rules, they are hopeful and they believe

that it is something that could end up creating some more enthusiasm among some key Democratic coalition groups, including younger voters, black

voters, and progressives as well.

SOARES: I appreciate it. Thank you very much. We, of course, will stay across the very latest on this story.

And that does it for us for this evening. Do stay right here though, of course, we'll have much more. All coverage, of course, on Trump's hush

money trial just ahead. As well as those protests that we have been seeing across the United States, including, of course, the protests at the

University of North Carolina that we showed you in the last two minutes also.

I'll see you tomorrow. In the meantime, see you then.