Return to Transcripts main page

Laura Coates Live

CNN Covers Trump's Hush Money Trial; CNN Answers Callers' Questions. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 02, 2024 - 23:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a long day in court as always, but very happy about the way things are going.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Projecting some confidence on day 10 of his criminal trial. Is it the classic Donald Trump spin or is he may be on to something? Welcome to a special edition of LAURA COATES LIVE alongside Abby Phillip right here in New York.

In just hours from now, Abby, Donald Trump will face his 11th day on trial for falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal. Here you see him across the two weeks that he has now spent listening to testimony inside that cold 15th floor Manhattan courtroom.

And in between the whispers to his lawyers and the note passing and the closing of his eyes, the jury is starting to see and hear testimony surrounding a very key question: Just how involved was Donald Trump in the payouts to quiet, damaging stories from Stormy Daniels, from Karen McDougal before the 2016 election?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Prosecutors pulled out the receipts today in the form of phone calls that Michael Cohen had secretly recorded. In one of those calls, Cohen is heard telling Stormy's former lawyer, Keith Davidson, that Trump was upset with the Stormy Daniels deal.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY (voice-over): What about me? And I can't -- I can't even tell you how many times he said to me, you know, "I hate the fact that we did it." And my comment to him was, "But every person that you've spoken to told you it was the right move."

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Now, all of that came after what has been described as a bruising cross-examination of Keith Davidson. The defense tried to torpedo his credibility in front of the jury by going full TMZ, practically, bringing up his alleged cash-for-dirt deals that were tied to a number of celebrity scandals. Trump's lawyer questioned Davidson about if he had helped a client get paid for leaking information about Lindsay Lohan's rehab stint. "I don't recall," Davidson said.

He was also asked if he brokered a deal of a sex tape involving a reality star, Tila Tequila. "I believe so," Davidson said. Davidson was also asked if he was investigated by law enforcement in connection with the Hulk Hogan sex tape. "That's true," he said.

Now, though he denied extorting anyone --

COATES: And then there was, of course, the question of whether he had extracted, that was the phrase, extracted sums of money from Charlie Sheen. And from the transcript, question, do you remember Mr. Sheen paying your client, Capri Anderson? Answer, I'm not going to discuss that.

Well, we are back here with our panel to discuss a whole lot of things.

PHILLIP: We're going to discuss it.

COATES: We're talking about all of it. I've got hot tea for that purpose. And joining us is hour, Hugo Lowell, a political investigations reporter with "The Guardian." He was actually in court today. And Devlin Barrett, a law enforcement reporter with "The Washington Post." He, too, was in the courtroom.

Let's begin with what happened today. I got to know, when you were inside that court, Devlin, what was the atmosphere like? And was Trump thinking -- did his body, not the climate, not the temperature, but the heat --


COATES: It got hot.

BARRETT: Both ways.

COATES: Was it like really hot in terms of him thinking, wait, this is hurting this prosecution?

BARRETT: It got state court hot.


So, one, it's warmed up outside. So, the courthouse is now warm. The courtroom is now warm. Didn't love that personally. But there was also a lot of friction, as you talked about, between Emil Bove, the Trump lawyer, and Keith Davidson. Keith Davidson -- it's the beauty of cross-examination, right? On direct, Keith Davidson being questioned by the prosecutors, very calm, very -- very cool, a little funny. On cross, when Trump's lawyers are asking him, combative, argumentative.

He and the Trump lawyer really went at each other a couple of times over this question of extortion. Obviously, the lawyer is arguing, I didn't extort anybody, I've never extorted anyone. The Trump lawyer also suggested he had threatened people, which he denied.


And I think Trump's team scored some points today in the sense that they made this whole world look dirty and sleazy, and that Trump was, in some ways, in the Trump characterization, a celebrity victim of these shakedowns. But I'll be honest, even if the jury believes that, I don't know how that ultimately matters for the verdict here because, you know, Stormy Daniels and Keith Davidson didn't fill out Trump's accounting books.

COATES: You know --

PHILLIP: Yeah. It's not the actual pay -- it's not the actual payment. But here's the thing that I am not understanding. My understanding is that in opening statements, the judge sustained an objection on the use of that word "extortion." So why allow a whole line of questioning about extortion in the cross-examination? I don't understand.

COATES: You know, I think in part, and we can talk about this, I think part of the reason is, in the opening statements, everything a lawyer says is not evidence in a case. It only has to come in through the testimony of a witness. And so, if you're opening that door through the actual question of somebody and they're testifying about it, that's different --


COATES: -- than just throwing out there, this person is that. But I found it really interesting as well, Abby, this one part, I'd love to hear from you on this, because as Devlin is describing it, what a different scenario to go at the sort of sleaze factor of a Keith Davidson as opposed to the David Pecker. I mean, it seems like -- it qualitatively was different, when I think they were attempting at least to talk about the "National Enquirer." They didn't seem to go that level with the cross for him. What was the difference that you saw?

HUGO LOWELL, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Yeah, I think the cross was bizarre in a way because the right thing for Emil Bove to do was probably to say, you know, did you have any interactions with Trump? No. Did you have any interactions with Trump in the White House or before when he was a candidate or in any way? And that really didn't come up at all, and really it was focused on painting Keith Davidson as a sleazebag.

And I think, to Devlin's point, it was clear that everyone thought that, yeah, Keith Davidson is a sleazebag, and yet we still get to the point that even if that's true, the money was paid, the books were allegedly falsified, and so it doesn't really matter from a legal perspective whether Keith Davidson is a sleazebag. And I wonder if that was the approach with Keith Davidson because they didn't really have anything else to go off with David Pecker as well.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So here was the rationale as to why -- as to whether it worked or not, that's an open question. I think the rationale of a sleazebag is we have this thing called an election, and we have this lawyer who wants to leverage, based upon what they're doing and how they actually go about their business, leverage you, and they're trying to make the proximity of your payment as close to what's important to you as possible.

So, from a prosecutor's perspective, the prosecutor obviously wants the election to matter. It has to matter with regard to tying this whole thing in. But if you're the defense attorney, I'm not the one. Trump's not the one concerned about the election. The lawyer is concerned about it because he's leveraging him, and he's trying to get the most out of him like he does all the rest of his clients, and that's what makes him sleazy. That's the argument they're going to make, by flipping this whole election question.

Remember the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room is you get the felony, if you can tie in that he was trying to do this, that is Trump, for purposes of the election benefit, If you spin it to make it the attorney who's worried about the election because he can now --


JACKSON: -- extract maximum payment.

RAY: Right.

JACKSON: That's why the whole sleaze factor came up.

PHILLIP: So, Jennifer, I mean, I'm curious. I mean, do you buy the idea that this being characterized as an extortion can negate the criminal aspect of it, which is not that there was money paid, but rather that Trump tried to conceal it for the purposes of concealing an election-related payment that he would have had to otherwise disclose?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah -- no, it doesn't. I mean, it makes him more sympathetic. I mean, I think if they could convince the jury that this was a false allegation and Stormy Daniels really was just this opportunistic person who saw this chance to get some money out of someone, you know, they would be less inclined to find that he had the intent maybe. But it doesn't really technically undercut any of the elements of the offense.

And, you know, also, it's not the case, like, I think by the end of this trial, we will know full well that that encounter did happen and that everyone, Trump and all of his co-conspirators, are all talking about the election as the reason why she had to be paid off and it had to be hidden. COATES: Well, lead into it a little more because I'm curious about the idea of him being sympathetic. I think people might think instantly, well, are you suggesting, you know, that there would be a time when a juror would have the information, they'd meet their burden of proof, and they essentially nullify it? They say, look, that's all true. But I feel bad for the guy.

RODGERS: I think jurors do all sorts of stuff in the jury room. I mean, nullification is a real thing. Defense lawyers do everything they can to get just one of those people to find something in their heads that causes them to say, I'm not going to do this. It's a black box. We rarely dig in at all to what happens in there. So yeah, I think they're going for anything.

BARRETT: And look, there's one way this strategy could work. Like, I think we were all in agreement, like, Stormy Daniels didn't cook the books here.


Like, that's not going to help him. But here's the way it could work, and I've seen it work in other trials. Sometimes, if the defense can show that every government witness is basically a terrible person and what you've basically got is a whole group of terrible people pointing the finger at someone else, sometimes, the jury basically says, we wash our hands of this whole thing.

These are awful people. I've seen it in drug cases. I've seen it in some violent crime cases. If the defense has one chance here, it's to try to convince the jury that all these people that the government have lined up to point the finger at Trump are themselves awful and therefore not worth it.

RAY: Because they're not really engaged in a conspiracy. They're engaged in motivations for their own personal benefit with their own agendas. And again, you know, you don't have to be successful in persuading all of the jurors that that's the case.

All you really have to do is persuade enough of the jurors or perhaps even just one juror that there's reasonable doubt about whether or not the government's theory and narrative that there's a conspiracy, as Jennifer suggests, that holds all of this together, where they're all acting in concert toward a common objective to influence the outcome of an election, and the defense presentation is in closing arguments, listen, that's not really what's going on here.

You saw all these witnesses and you saw what they were about and you saw what all their agendas were. This wasn't a conspiracy that coheres. These people were all out to take advantage of the situation and take advantage of the fact that there was an election. They weren't doing it to influence the election. They didn't give a damn one way or another what the outcome of the election was. What they were after was, you know, their own personal benefit.

COATES: But what about on that point? I want to play for the audience, though, because there was this moment where the defense was trying to paint Michael Cohen as one we know is going to be a big witness in this case, as somebody whose motivation was, it might be revenge, pure and simple revenge over not getting a job at the White House.

This is from Davidson in the court's transcript describing a call with Michael Cohen. It says, "He said something to the effect of Jesus Christ. Can you get can you effing believe I'm not going to Washington after everything I've done for that effing guy? I can't believe I'm not going to Washington. I've saved that guy's ass so many times. You don't even know."

This idea of the motivation, not just in terms of why to act in the first instance -- this is, by the way, some things that the jury has heard about Michael Cohen -- this does not paint the most favorable picture, Abby, about this particular witness. But to your point, Robert, it's no longer maybe the motivation about why to pay, but maybe the motivation of why to testify?

RAY: Well, sure. I mean, look, I don't want to overstate that either. Look -- I mean, he -- you know, Michael Cohen suffers a disease that a lot of people suffer from around political campaigns, and that is delusions of grandeur. They think as a result of helping the candidate, all of a sudden, they're qualified to be, you know, attorney general of the United States. Very few people are qualified to be attorney general of the United States. Michael Cohen is not one of them, okay? So that's just the reality.

Nevertheless, you know, you raise the specter of any number of reasons why people are disgruntled or have their own agendas. You know, the jury evaluates all that with common sense. I don't know that that's necessarily going to be dispositive. I mean, that's just a factor for them to consider. I mean, you know, overall, that's why a trial goes on for a number of days. We're only in day 10. You know, there are good days and bad days.

And the jury is going to evaluate all of this, you know, together as a meaningful whole. They're not going to focus on one day's testimony about whether or not, you know, Emil Bove was outstanding on cross- examination about beating somebody up about the unseemly nature of Hollywood and how people, you know, extract payments from --

COATES: What was a jury doing at that point in time? Were they -- were they smirking? Were they laughing? Were they (INAUDIBLE)? What was going on?

LOWELL: So, admittedly, Devlin and I were both in the overflow room.


COATES: I had one question for you just now. I wanted all --

UNKNOWN: You had your one big chance.

COATES: Are you kidding me? Well, I appreciate your honesty and candor. Stick around, everyone. Donald Trump once again shifts his tune on whether or not he'll testify. And up next, the new excuse he's presenting that's not at all accurate. Plus, the relatively unusual gag order request his team made the judge consider.




COATES: Well, Donald Trump was complaining today about the gag order and yet again making a false claim about what he's allowed or maybe not allowed to do.


TRUMP: Well, I'm not allowed to testify. I'm under a gag order, I guess. I can't even testify at all. Now, we're going to be appealing the gag order.


COATES: Now, the gag order does not stop him from testifying. I don't know if you saw the attorney who was like -- I don't know what that nod was.

PHILLIP: I cannot see that.

COATES: Was it something? And just last week, Trump said that he would testify -- quote -- "if necessary." And today, prosecutors argue that Trump violated the gag order four more times by making false claims about the jury and attacking witnesses.


TRUMP: When are they going to look at all the lies that Cohen did in the last trial? He got caught lying in the last trial. So, he got caught lying, pure lying.

(Voice-over): That jury was picked so fast. Ninety-five percent Democrats. You think of it as a purely Democrat area. It's a very unfair situation.

Michael Cohen is a convicted liar and he's got no credibility whatsoever.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Are you following David Pecker's testimony so far and when was the last time you spoke to him?

TRUMP: No, he has been very nice. I mean, he has been -- David has been very nice. He's a nice guy.


PHILLIP: Now, Judge Merchan has already found that Trump violated the gag order nine times. Now, these online posts find Trump about nine grands, and the judge even threatened jail. But prosecutors say they only want Trump -- want to find Trump. They don't even want to put jail on the table here for him. Our panel is back with us. At the end of the day, the one violation, you guys have all heard me with my spiel now, the one violation that matters at this point is probably the one about the jury. And that's actually the one that the judge highlighted and basically said, why is he talking about the jury?


And I think that is really the question here. At that point, I think the judge has to make decision about whether or not that and things like that really cross the line, and it seems like he probably will.

JACKSON: Yeah. You know, Abby, I think they all matter. They being all violations if the judge finds violations of the gag order, right? The gag order has a very important place. I really believe this. It's about the safety of people. And those people need to be protected because if you're spinning a narrative, right, and the narrative is not true or what have you, I just think that people could really be in danger.


JACKSON: So, I think --

RAY: Are they in danger as a result of the fact that 95% of them are Democrats?

PHILLIP: Well, I think the issue is --

RAY: Can we just exercise some common sense here? His audience is not the jury. Okay? I mean, let's just wake up to reality. Donald Trump's audience with regard to the gag order is the electorate, guys. It's not the jury.

JACKSON: So, we get it.

PHILLIP: Here's the issue with the -- here is the issue with the 95% Democrats.

RAY: Right? I mean, it's the electorate. Okay, go ahead.

PHILLIP: First of all, Donald Trump is not sitting there Googling and trying to figure out where these people fall in the ideological spectrum. He is trying to basically paint them with a broad brush. And you're right, the audience is not the jury, the audience is his supporters who we know have a history of threatening people. So that actually is on the table.

JACKSON: So, could I just respond to that, though? When you say the jury --

RAY: I meant the electorate in the sense of he cares about only one thing --


RAY: -- which is, how are people going to vote in November? He's not interested in trying to influence the jury in that way.

JACKSON: It doesn't matter what his motivations are. It matters what the result of his activities are. It doesn't matter the motivations.

RAY: Do you think it's threatening to people --


RAY: -- to identify them as 95% Democrats?

JACKSON: What I think --

RAY: Especially if it's true.

JACKSON: Let me tell you what I think. Let me tell you what I think. What I think is, if you start talking about a jury and you start coloring people's opinion about the jury being unfair, and you have a jury that ultimately reaches a verdict that's unfavorable, and you have someone on the jury who is outed, that person is in danger, you follow that logic?

So, what that means to me is that if you're making broad sweeping references to a jury and people make the connection of who's on that jury, they're going through great pains of not showing who that jury is. They're not identified. Why? Why? Because in the event that people find out, there could be consequences as to what they say and what they do. Why? Because they could be intimidated with respect to their verdict. So, unlike you, I do believe, when you make broad references to a jury, that matters because jurors have families.

RAY: I just think that's not true.

JACKSON: You could disagree.

RAY: I disagree.

JACKSON: Jurors have families. Jurors really, right?

RAY: Sure.

JACKSON: Like everybody else has the right to be protected. And in the event that their life is endangered because you're making ridiculous claims about them, that, to me, is problematic.

PHILLIP: Well, here, we don't have to -- we don't have to stretch to understand the predicate for this. In Georgia, Trump decided that he was going to say the two election workers were Democrats, that they were rigging the election. He just said it. And the threats came. They had to move.


PHILLIP: They lost -- they said --

JACKSON: Correct. PHILLIP: -- they lost the ability to use their names. So, it has happened.

COATES: Even here, too, Abby, a juror initially did say, I don't want to be on this jury. The person was already in panel.

RAY: Right.

COATES: And then was asked to be taken off because they were afraid their anonymity had been compromised, which could maybe lead to public safety concerns. Is that accurate?

RAY: Look, you know, generally speaking, I don't think it's wise to be commenting about jurors, no matter who you are --

COATES: Then why would Joey's comment nonsense to you, then?

RAY: -- during the pendency of a trial. I think it's a nonsense to think that identifying jurors as 95% Democrats. I don't find that to be threatening.

COATES: That was just one of the sentences, though. The full context also included the idea that it was --

RAY: But they were unfair.

PHILLIP: Rigged against him.

COATES: It was picked so fast. It was a very unfair process.


RAY: Okay. I don't find any -- do you find any of that threatening? I don't find any of that threatening.

JACKSON: So, I do --

RAY: Okay.

JACKSON: -- because what happens is then it takes out the notion that a jury is there that's selected by both parties, by the way. In a jury selection process, you have both parties.

RAY: In New York?

JACKSON: That's the prosecution and the defense. Yes, in New York, particularly. This is where I practiced for a long time.

RAY: Yeah.

JACKSON: And what we do, it's fair, believe it or not, the defense has an opportunity to question witnesses. The prosecution does, too. There are two types of challenges. One is for cause, and if it's for cause because you can't be fair, you're excluded. The other is peremptory, which is totally your discretion. But at the end of the day, the reason it matters is because it throws away the faith in the system. If people have the notion that they weren't listening to evidence, they just were Democrats and liberals who just decided they hate Trump. Then, again, it goes back to danger, it goes back to intimidation, it goes back to the issue of people who can be harmed.

And that's why to me, it may be nonsense to you, but to me, I really believe it's important. That's why the gag order is limited to people like jurors, like witnesses, and like other people who could be in danger based upon a bully pulpit of 70 million people.

COATES: Oh, there's a mic drop. Okay, there you go. Anyway, I'll leave it on there.

PHILLIP: We're going to let that last word stand.

COATES: But remember, the judge did say (INAUDIBLE). I had a Wimbledon neck just now. I was like this. I mean, the bob was bobbing.


But there was a moment in time the judge questioned if their order was not ambiguous. Not to talk about a jury. Then they need to even go to the next sentence of what you said about the jury.

PHILLIP: Yeah, exactly. And I think that that is -- don't -- it's not that broad. I mean, he could talk about a lot of other things. And he could talk about the case. He just cannot talk about the jury and about the witnesses. And he keeps doing it or at least he had been doing it until he was last fined $9,000. So, we will see if that stands. Everyone, stand by for us.

Up ahead, he did it in 2016. He did it again in 2020. And now, Trump is once again casting doubt on whether he will accept the 2024 election results. Colorado's secretary of state is here with us to react. That's next.




PHILLIP: There is some consistency when it comes to Donald Trump. And it's about one thing. Accepting the outcome of the election only when it suits him. Here he is back in 2016.


UNKNOWN (voice-over): Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely, sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now. I'll look at it at the time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: So, what happened when he was asked yet again? Well, four years later, here.


CHRIS WALLACE, BROADCAST JOURNALIST: Can you give a direct answer? You will accept the election?

TRUMP: I have to see. Look, I have to see. No, I'm not going to just say yes.


PHILLIP: Newsflash, he did not accept the results of that election, which brings us to today. Will 2024 be any different? Well, you might have guessed it. Trump is telling the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal -- quote -- "If everything is honest, I'd gladly accept the results. If it's not, you have to fight for the right of the country." Now, as for President Biden, he does pledge to accept the will of the voters in November.

Joining me now is Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. She supported the effort to remove Donald Trump from the state's 2024 ballot, which the Supreme Court ultimately rejected. Secretary Griswold, thanks for joining us tonight. I wonder what your reaction is to Donald Trump's repeated denial that he will accept the results of the election even if he loses.

JENA GRISWOLD, COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, thanks for having me on this evening. And unfortunately, Donald Trump continues to be a tremendous threat to American democracy. In 2020, he laid the groundwork to allege that the election was stolen from him in the event of a loss. That's exactly what he is doing again.

And we know what happened in 2020. His lies led to threats against election workers, lawsuits filed all across the country to try to steal the election, and then ultimately, he incited the insurrection. I think a big difference between then and now is he has been pushing out his big lie for the last four years. He's creating a toxic and dangerous situation.

But just like in 2020, American democracy survived. I am very optimistic that we're going to get through whatever Donald Trump tries to pull this election cycle also.

PHILLIP: You know, it's interesting. We've been discussing at length the hush money trial in New York, and there's a new CNN poll that indicates a growing number of Americans say that even if the charges across all of the Trump criminal trials are true, that they don't think it's relevant for the fitness for the presidency. That includes the effort to overturn the 2020 election.

So, why do you think that we're seeing that reaction from the electorate even as all of this legal trouble looms over Donald Trump? GRISWOLD: First off, I would say one of your panelists from the last segment, Robert Ray, is so far off in his understanding or at least what he says Donald Trump's words lead to.

You know, Donald Trump talking about a jury is really problematic. As a defendant in the case to try to disqualify Donald Trump, I received over 800 violent threats or death threats. Donald Trump knows exactly what he does or what he is doing. Excuse me. Anybody who stands up against him or puts up some type of barrier, he starts talking about them and the threats roll in.

But ultimately, when it comes to all of these indictments, when it comes to what happened in 2020, all the felony charges against him, Donald Trump and allies are trying to rewrite history. That's what the big lie is about. That's what all their lies are about.

And it's not just Donald Trump. The speaker of the House is an election denier. He just announced some cockamamie scheme the other week, trying to undermine elections.

There are 172 election deniers walking the halls of Congress. And their lies do matter because they affect election administration. But they also eventually erode confidence, so that not everybody understands what is fact and what is totally made up by the far right.

With that said, Abby, again, I do think Americans are good people. They believe in fairness. I do think there will be an effect of the attempted stealing of the 2020 election and all the other things that have happened since then on the 2024 presidential election.


PHILLIP: Secretary Griswold, we just had a lengthy debate about what you were talking about as it pertains to the threat factor. Robert Ray is actually still with us. I just want to give him a second to respond, if you will, to what the secretary said.

RAY: I think the reason that the poll numbers are reflecting what they are reflecting is that, first, Ms. Griswold's efforts to try to interfere with an election by removing a candidate from office by virtue of taking that candidate off the ballot was unprecedented. That didn't go over well at the Supreme Court. It lost unanimously 9 to nothing, which suggests that it was an effort that should never have been engaged in in the first place. And with regard to the cases, I think the electorate --

GRISWOLD: -- to jump in --

RAY: Well, hold on a second.

GRISWOLD: Well, let's just take a step back. We're talking about election lies, and what you just said is an election lie.

RAY: It wasn't a lie that the Supreme Court ruled 9 to nothing, that it was an improper exercise of state power to remove a candidate from the ballot. PHILLIP: Robert, let's her finish and --

RAY: That's a pretty extraordinary thing.

GRISWOLD: The election lie was that you said that I brought this effort to remove Donald Trump. I was a defendant. And just like that jury pool is judged, is sitting there to look at the facts and judge. They didn't raise their hand. They didn't try to do anything to impede the former president. They're in a very similar situation. So, I would ask you, stop lying. Please learn the facts because all these lies actually do matter.

PHILLIP: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, thanks for joining us. We appreciate you having a little back and forth there with Robert Ray. Thank you both very much.

And our panel is back with us here in New York, including CNN political commentators Ana Navarro, Jamal Simmons. Robert, thank you for -- we wanted to give you an opportunity to respond since she brought your name into the conversation.

But what she's saying about Donald Trump and the threat he poses going forward, I think, is looming over all of this because he keeps talking about what he's going to do and what he's not going to do. And principle among them is whether or not he's going to be willing to just do what all the other presidents have done and accept the results of the election.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's loading for bear for this election not to work out. Here's what we know. The RNC had 38 community action centers where they were supposed to be reaching out to minority communities around the country. They've reduced that number to seven.

And you know what they've done instead? They've increased to 15 the number of election integrity offices that are meant to monitor the -- quote, unquote -- "monitor" the vote in certain states and then collect evidence for post-election litigation.

They're not planning to win the ballot box. They're planning to fight this thing in the courts and then ultimately probably in the Congress, and do what they did on January 6th, but with more success.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We already know that Donald Trump is emotionally, psychologically, physically incapable of admitting defeat. It's just not in him, right? He's not you were talking about every other president. He's not like every other president. He's got a different emotional makeup.

I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a psychiatrist. I'm not going to diagnose him. But as a lay person, this man cannot admit defeat. We're now almost four years into Joe Biden. He still can't admit that he lost to Joe Biden. He never will. He won't admit it in 2020. And if he loses again in 2024, he won't admit it then.

COATES: The question really is the consequence. NAVARRO: His tombstone is going to say, I won.

COATES: Well, I mean, the consequence of it is a question about how people view the fairness and also the strength of our system, right? It's a democracy if you can keep it. And if you have somebody in a republic, if you can keep it, if you have somebody at the highest level of the land, really, who doesn't think we actually or doesn't want people to believe we have fair and free elections, you know, it doesn't bode well for those who are carrying out the everyday dues that we need so badly to actually have our democracy work.

But it's the idea of the consistency, not only in court, but also what's happening on the campaign trail. There's connected tissue there, right? He doesn't want to admit that the system is fair unless he can point to a result where he wins.

LOWELL: I think that's right. And I think it's evident on the campaign trail when he talks about, you know, two-tiered systems of justice.

COATES: Uh-hmm.

LOWELL: And it's not like that at all. And he has claimed that actually in all of his criminal cases, whether it's federal and state and local or whatever. You know -- I mean, in this case, which is not being brought by the Manhattan District Attorney, which is not part of the Justice Department, which is not part of the Biden administration, and he's still trying to say that there are two tiers of justice and that they're not prosecuting Hunter Biden or they're not prosecuting President Biden, but they're indicting me, they're indicting me on these classified documents cases, for instance, right?


And it just doesn't follow. It doesn't follow on the logic that he's being a local D.A. in Manhattan is prosecuting under the Biden administration's agenda. It doesn't follow the fact that he's being treated the same -- treated differently from any other criminal defendant in any of these criminal cases.

For instance, the classified documents case. If there was any other defendant who acted in the way that Trump had, hoarding classified documents at his resort, they would be prosecuted. And for him to claim that he is being treated unfairly just doesn't pass.

COATES: Well, Special Counsel Robert --

RAY: Do we like Joe Biden's documents in his garage?

COATES: No. Well, I was going to say, Special Counsel Robert Herr addressed this issue in part and did talk about, as have others, talked about the distinction in that it was the intent to double down and maintain them when asked for them back as well.

But I want to turn for a second to Joe Biden, the President of the United States, on the response to the protests at the universities, in particular, Jamal, because when you're not the person in the Oval Office, you can take a more reactive and condemning role than you can if you're the person who must do something in response. And Trump has certainly been very critical of Biden's response or lack thereof.

I want to play for you, because just hours after officers in riot gear arrested more than 200 protesters at UCLA, this has been happening all across the country, Biden did condemn the violence and the antisemitism that has erupted. Listen to what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations. None of this is a peaceful protest. Dissent is essential to democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Have the protests forced you to reconsider any of the policies with regard to the region?



COATES: Jamal, what did you make of that message? Was it forceful enough? Did it meet the moment?

SIMMONS: I thought it was forceful. I thought it met the moment. But here's the thing. We as a society have to really wrap our minds around policing the unlawful, but protecting the unpopular. Right? We've got to have a system where these kids can come out and say things that we may not like to hear, but they have a right to do them.

They do not have a right, however, to break the law. And I think they know that when every civil rights movement of our past has broken the law, they face consequences. So, the consequences have to come.

But we do have to make sure that what we're doing is not overreacting to the point where we're stopping people from being able to have a lawful conversation that we may find distasteful.

PHILLIP: It seems like what's underneath the surface here is, and some people have said this, some lawmakers have said this, if this were about, you know, Black students being confronted with hate speech on their campuses, the reaction would be different, maybe from these very students who are camping out on the lawns.

So, it almost feels like there's a desire to see an even-handedness in the reaction, not from a legalistic perspective, but from a normative perspective of what's acceptable on our college campuses. And because that's not happening, that's why we're seeing so much disappointment, it seems, from people that -- maybe we don't like what these students have to say, but in another context, even if we didn't like it, even if it's not illegal, there would be a lot of pressure to shut it down.

NAVARRO: Look, I think -- I think the disappointment comes from everybody in America, frankly, understanding just how difficult a conflict this is. It's a conflict that far precedes this and the question of, how does it help advance a solution in the region to have pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli kids coming to blows in university campuses?

And, you know, part of my disappointment, frankly, is that we are paying so much attention and rightly so focusing on what's happening in these university campuses. We're not talking about the 129, 129 hostages that are still being held by Hamas, hopefully alive. And we're not talking about the things that, frankly, the Biden administration is doing right now. Tony Blinken is in the region right now trying to negotiate this deal.

So, I think the disappointment is, for many reasons, while still balancing this issue of I recognize they have a right to protest, I recognize they have a right to freedom of speech, but how is it helping the overall goal we all want, which is coexistence, peaceful coexistence here and there?


BARRETT: Look, I am just a dumb cop reporter, but I will tell you, as a father, what is most striking to me about this issue is that for many, many young people in America, this is a very clear-cut issue. And what you're talking about, the complexity, the dynamic, they do not see that. They see a very clear-cut moral problem that this country is contributing to.

And I'm not saying who has to make who -- make anyone else agree with anyone else. I'm saying it seems very clear to me, just as I have gone through the city in the last two weeks, that there is a huge generational gap here.


NAVARRO: Oh, yeah.

BARRETT: And young people see this very, very different.

PHILLIP: I don't -- I don't -- I don't think we should paint too broad of a brush here. There are a lot of young people who are not on university campuses, and there are a lot of young Jewish people who also see the issue as less clear-cut, right? And I think that that is part of the dynamic as well. That is why we are seeing these divisions.

SIMMONS: What else is obvious, though? What else is obvious is that we also have to remember there are people in the world who want to -- maybe they have an opinion one way or the other, but what they really want is to have Americans at each other's throats, because the more we're fighting each other, the less we're able to do the things around the world that we need to do. And I think that there are actors in the world who are fomenting this and making sure that we are all torqued up to 11 as we combat this issue.

RAY: But if young people in America are supporting antisemitism and are supporting terrorists, then we've got a problem with young people in America.

BARRETT: I didn't say that.

PHILLIP: I don't think --

BARRETT: And I don't think -- I didn't say that. I actually don't think that --

RAY: Well, I hope that's not true. But what you see being said is disturbing, which is why I think a lot of Americans have a real problem with this.

PHILLIP: There is a clear minor --

RAY: You know, separate and apart from the violence problem which is a separate problem.

PHILLIP: There's a clear minority that is at play here, certainly, but a minority. Agitators and others probably driving some of that, but I don't think you can -- again, let's not paint with broad brushes here.

COATES: I think one thing is clear, and this is not a problem to solve today, that everyone's moral compass does not point in the same direction, period.

Stand by everyone. You've got questions about the big developments and the Trump hush money trial? And you know what? We've got answers for you. We're going to take your live calls and questions next.




COATES: Can you believe we now have 10 days of the hush money trial already in the books? And with all the twists, the turns, and salacious developments, the questions, well, they're mounting. And tonight, we're taking your calls.


We've got the panel here to help answer them as well. If you want to participate, just go to, fill out the form, type in your question there, and then we'll reach out to have you call in as the trial unfolds.

We will get to our first caller tonight. Who do we got here? We've got Norman from Stockbridge, Georgia. Norman, what's your question?



NORMAN (via telephone): If this trial continues for weeks, do you think the jury over time will become desensitized to Trump's fame and begin to see him as an everyday citizen? And if so, would that be to his benefit or detriment?

COATES: That's a great question. I see you nodding, Joey and Jennifer. What's going on?

JACKSON: I think it's a great question, and I do think that the more the trial goes on, the more he is a defendant in the case. The more the jury sees the facts, the more they assess whether the facts find him guilty or not so much. And so, that's my answer to your caller.

COATES: Do you agree?

RODGERS: Yeah, I agree. Well, when they first walked in, a lot of the jurors who didn't make it onto the jury would say, oh, we walked in and we were so stunned. Oh my gosh, there's the president. But now they see him every day, all day. Everybody's yawning, stretching, and so on. He becomes a normal person.

PHILLIP: So, Devlin, you've been in there. Is it wearing off?

BARRETT: It is wearing off. There was a celebrity shock factor when they first came in. I think what's interesting now is, first of all, this jury is very -- like, jury duty is an amateur occupation. It's not a profession. But they are incredibly professional in how they behave in there.

And so, they walk past him. Every time they leave the room, they walk right past him. They are, you know, four or five feet away from him. And he's fairly stoic. And they, by and large, do not make eye contact with him. I think some people try to over-interpret that, what it means. I take it mostly as the jurors being careful.


BARRETT: And I think you cannot spend that much time in a room with another human being and not see them as more of a human being. I think that's true. But at the same time, he still carries all the trappings of a former president. The Secret Service is there. So, it's never going to go away completely.


COATES: Good point. Let's go to Erin from Lakeland, Florida. Erin, what's your question?

ERIN, CALLER FROM LAKELAND, FLORIDA (via telephone): Yes. Good evening. I would like to know whether the charge for which Trump is standing trial is typically one that is prosecuted with some modicum of regularity. In other words, is Trump being tried on an obscure law that is rarely prosecuted such that he can try to say later that he's being singled out?

COATES: Robert Ray is champing at the bit to answer this question. Robert Ray, what's your response? RAY: I think it's complicated to answer that. On the one hand, the books and records aspect of the law is fairly regularly prosecuted. So, I don't think that anybody could really seriously make the argument that he's being singled out for prosecution of something that no one else would be prosecuted for.

On the other hand, this case is a little unusual. I think, as most commentators have recognized on both the left and the right, that the application of the statute in order to enhance it into a felony is an unusual application of this law. It is one that caused, I think, Cy Vance, who had the office before the current district attorney, gave him pause. I think they're acting -- that's a novel application here. I wouldn't say it's ever happened before, but it is an unusual application.


So, I think on that aspect of it, I do think to answer the caller's question, Donald Trump does have an argument that that's one where ordinary prosecutions and ordinary prosecutors would probably not bring that charge.

COATES: Good point. Jerri in Palm Harbor, Florida, you got a question. Hi, Jerri.



JERRI (via telephone): Can Trump lawyers be held for sanctions and retribution for not controlling their client in the gag order?

COATES: Oh, the defense counsel, Joey Jackson, just started laughing. Are you nervous? What's your answer?

JACKSON: Listen, I'm nervous because the attorneys do not get the brunt of the frustration based upon what your clients do. And so, great question by the caller, but you have to be careful. The attorneys, you can see when they're answering the question to the judge, even the judge is saying, you're losing credibility with me, because, really, they're doing the best to defend an indefensible position.

So, the attorneys are held harmless. You control your client to the extent that you can, but you cannot be sanctioned or put in jail for behavior that is not yours.

COATES: But you get reputation in front of that judge maybe. That's part of the issue.


COATES: Thank you to the panel to help answering all these questions. And hey, thanks to everyone who also called in. You have a question you'd like us to answer on the Trump trial? We'd love to hear from you. Just submit your questions at

And thank you all for watching.

PHILLIP: Our coverage continues with "ANDERSON COOPER 360." That's next.