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Laura Coates Live

CNN Covers Trump's Hush Money Trial; Judge Indefinitely Postpones Trump Classified Documents Trial; Biden Condemns "Ferocious Surge" Of Antisemitism. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 07, 2024 - 23:00   ET





DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, this was a very big day, a very revealing day as you see their case is totally falling apart.


LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: I mean, a big day is an understatement. But looking past the Trump spin, did Stormy Daniels move the needle in favor of the prosecution or the defense?

Welcome to a special edition of "Laura Coates Live" alongside Abby Phillip right here in New York. And look, day 13 of Trump's Manhattan hush money trial is now officially in the books, and it did not disappoint.

For nearly four hours, adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels was on the stand just a few feet away from Trump, their first face-to- face encounter in years. And yes, she went there, taking us all inside of a Lake Tahoe hotel room where she alleges the two had sex back in 2006.

Now, Trump says this absolutely never happened. But his past denials did not stop her from painting quite the picture. It was salacious, it was uncomfortable, and it was compelling.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: The former president watched with rapt attention. He was more invested than we have seen him at this trial. He was leaning in to watch Daniels's testimony. He was urging his attorneys to make objections.

The one thing that is for sure, though, this testimony is what he certainly did not want the world to hear. During some of the most lurid moments, he was scowling, shaking his head, even audibly cursing at points.

Moments like these with prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asking, "Can you briefly describe where you had sex with him?" Daniels's response? "The next thing I know, I was on the bed, somehow on the opposite side of the bed from where we had been standing. I had my clothes off. I believe my bra, however, was still on. We were in the missionary position." Defense attorney Susan Necheles objected. Judge Merchan sustaining that objection.

Now, the flurry of objections going on from there as the exchange went on of what allegedly happened in that Lake Tahoe hotel room got more and more explicit. Even Judge Merchan appeared irritated at points, telling prosecutors, "The degree of detail that was happening there was just unnecessary." Trump's defense team tried to push for a mistrial after the break, a request that the judge, ultimately, rejected.

COATES: Now, actually, you know, when Trump, their team, got their chance at cross-examination, it was fireworks. I mean, defense attorney Necheles asking Daniels if she hates Trump, to which she admitted simply, yes. And Necheles, she seized on this moment, repeatedly trying to undermine her credibility and, of course, her motivations. Even at one point, she accused Daniels of trying to extort money from Trump, with Daniels loudly replying -- quote -- "false."

There was a lot of hype leading up to this testimony, as you all know. And you may have wondered, how did she present to the jury? How would she and how would she actually act on the stand?

But the ultimate question is this, and it's for the jurors, how did they see all of today's drama? Will they draw connections between what she has said on the stand and the actual charges against Trump, which is the falsification of business records? And if you thought, by the way, today was wild, well, you best buckle up, because Stormy is back on the stand on Thursday.

I want to bring in former deputy attorney general Harry Litman, Washington correspondent for "New York" Magazine, Olivia Nunzi, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rogers, and CNN legal commentator and former Trump White House lawyer Jim Schultz.

We've got a whole law school, law firm hopping. You count, too.


PHILLIP: It's okay. It's just going to be the two of us over here.

COATES: It's okay. We have the auditors to our law class right now. I love it.

PHILLIP: I'm just going to represent the jury. I'm the layman here.

COATES: You're the one we want to hear from. But Harry, you were in the courtroom today. And I am dying to know. I need you to paint a picture here because when Stormy first walked into that courtroom, what was it like?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yeah. You know, we knew she was coming before the jury did because the D.A. -- excuse me -- defense had brought up some objection. So, we knew the next words we were going to hear -- the people call Stormy Daniels, which is what they did say, not Stephanie Clifford.

And the jury, there was, you know, a visible but silent kind of excitement. And they were really focused. You know, they've been hearing about her from every different side for 12 days, right? And they were completely focused. This was the woman at the center of the whole storm, as it had been detailed by the D.A. And they were -- they were zeroed in.


COATES: What were her facial expressions like? Did she appear to be smug, nervous, uncomfortable, confident, what?

LITMAN: Great question. I would -- if I have to go with one of those, I go with nervous. She answered pretty long. She did a lot of quips that didn't always land. She was intelligent. She detailed a whole kind of hardscrabble life that ended with a lot of achievements before she gets into and even after she gets into adult films.

But I think her -- you know, one of the ways that she got in trouble with the judge and some of these extraneous details that obviously irked him, at one point, he made his own objection and sustained it, was by going too far outside the question. He later had Hoffinger. Merchan take her back and just tell her, shorter answers, please, listen to the question, and the like. So, I'd say nervous.

COATES: What were the moments? I mean, I've been -- I've been polite. Let me get to the sex part. What were the moments that made them --


COATES: I don't know. (INAUDIBLE). I did my best.


Tell me about the point --


COATES: -- how the jury was reacting when she was describing the details of being in that hotel room, when she actually got to the alleged sexual encounter. What was their body language like? Were they leaning in? Were they in -- were they with her?

LITMAN: Yeah. So, I was looking very carefully. It's one of the best things about being in the courtroom. You can really see them. And I got to say, I wasn't sure. It was sort of three or four this way and a few more back. And I -- that core part of the story.

And there were a lot of objections happening at the time for the reasons you're talking about. Merchan was very worried that some of the details would be prejudicial to Trump. So, the rhythm was a little bit arrested at the same time. But I found myself, more than with any witness in the trial, not clear. I think they believed her basic story, and she substantiated what she had to say. But were they with her in a way that'll really matter when they get into the jury room? Did they like her? It wasn't clear to me one way or another.

PHILLIP: Olivia, I mean, Harry was there, but you know Stormy Daniels --


PHILLIP: -- when she's not on a witness stand. What is she actually like, and do you get the sense from reading the transcript that that came across to the jury, or is it that whoever she really is, is something that might come across as inauthentic to a jury?

NUZZI: She is a cool, thoughtful person. She is really smart, very shrewd, and very thoughtful. And she talks with a lot of nuance about this experience and about most other experiences in her life that I've heard her talk about. I've never felt that she's read as fake or putting on any type of front, sometimes to a fault, frankly. I don't know how that plays, though, in a courtroom.

We were talking earlier about her evolution, about how she was thinking about the power dynamics between herself and the defendant, the former president. That's one thing when you're just having a conversation with somebody or when you're talking to a magazine or you're talking on a podcast. I think that might read quite differently in a court and might be rather confusing.

COATES: Yeah, when you look at this and thinking about how this all plays. Jen, I want to bring you in here because, you know, this is about documents. I mean, Jim is already like, yes, it's the documents case, and we're talking about it. This is a documents case. But is there some method to the madness of having her described with detail and particularity what happened, as she alleges, in the hotel room? Is it to try to buttress her credibility and her memory?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, as the prosecution argued when we had this mistrial motion, it all goes to his intent, like, why did he so badly want this story not to come out? Right? Because it's salacious. I mean, look at the reactions that Harry is talking about from the jurors. I mean, everyone is perking up and listening.

This is what he never wanted to get out there. This is why he was so intent on making sure that she had to be quieted, right? That she had to be hushed up with this hush money payment. So, that was part of it.

I mean, they also, of course, wanted her to corroborate some of what the jury has already heard from David Pecker, from Keith Davidson, the lawyer, what Michael Cohen will say when he gets on the stand. So, that's another part of the reason.

But the piece about the sex, and I don't think prosecutors necessarily wanted her to go into all that detail, I think they mis-stepped a little bit there and didn't get her under control like they, frankly, should have done. But to the extent that they're defending getting into that at all, that's how they do it.

COATES: I mean, part of what of we were hearing from the courtroom, that it wasn't so much that the prosecution was asking her questions after question to get that widened scope, but that she was giving long-winded answers that got to the points they were supposed to avoid.

JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I think she -- you know, the judge even said, like, answer the question that's asked, right? So -- and I think that was him trying to gain control of that. He had her go back with the lawyer.

I think you're right. I think they're trying to -- they're trying to portray this as this is something that Donald Trump never wanted to see come to light. And I think they did that. They got that job done today. They may have risked some appellate issues long term in doing so.


And I don't think the prosecution was trying to go that far, but they lost control of it.

COATES: Yeah, I mean --



COATES: There's the defense counsel.


PHILLIP: I'm glad you said that because I want to be clear here. This is not some -- Stormy has her story. But it's a question of the prosecutors, their strategy, and how they executed it. That's really at issue here.

JACKSON: No, no question about it, Abby. But she has a story to tell, and I think she wanted to be heard. And to the extent that people would have believed that there was no affair or no connection or interaction or however you want to frame it, um, she had a lot to say about that.

And I think there's a certain process that she had to go through in stating her piece. Yes, you prep witnesses as a prosecutor. Yes, you give them -- it's not a script, but you certainly let them know the areas you're going to go into. You talk about if there's going to be any exhibits introduced to you, how that'll happen. But I think she wanted to tell her story.

And I think the devil is always in the details. And by giving those details, I think it gives it credibility. When you talk about satin pajamas, you talk about boxers, you talk about Melania, you talk about other things, it gives it context, it gives it perspective.

Did she potentially say too much? Okay, that's open for interpretation. But I think the core nature of this, with Trump denying, denying it didn't happen, is look, I'm not a liar, I have my reputation to protect, too.

And what's not in dispute is that there was a payment to be made. What's not in dispute is it was $130,000. What's not in dispute is the fact that she dealt with and interacted with Michael Cohen to get this deal done.

And so, I think she was there to tell her story, tell it loudly, tell it clearly, and say, whatever you think about me, this is what occurred.

NUZZI: Let me just add, you know, something that has really bothered her over these years, that she's been a public figure associated with Donald Trump these last six years, is that it doesn't matter to his base, it doesn't matter to a certain unpersuadable faction of the American public, it doesn't matter how many times she corrects the record, how many times she tells them that they're wrong about whatever it is that they believe about her.

The facts don't matter. They are impervious to facts. So, I think this seems probably like an opportunity to definitively state what the story is.

COATES: Yeah. And, you know, when you look at -- there was a moment, and we talked about the prep, it seemed like Necheles, who was the defense counsel for Donald Trump, she began her cross with the idea of, you rehearsed these moments, right? That's how they began.

This is not -- it wasn't easing into the tension. It was confrontational from the beginning. And I guess Stormy was very clear of, no, if you're implying rehearsal as mean, I have not been prepped, but I have been told what you say, that's not what happened here.

Talk to me about that interaction between Necheles and Stormy because up until now, we haven't actually seen real hostility between counsel and a witness.

LITMAN: Yeah, this was as dramatic as we've seen. What you just said, Laura, happened 15 times, where Necheles goes for broke. And rather than, as you're sort of taught, you go up to the line of making the point, and then go to the next one, she said, and you're really lying about this. She continually asserted the kind of final insinuation. And basically, every time, Daniels said, no, false. And it arrested her rhythm very discernibly. Plus, there were a lot of objections. So, you know, rhythm is the soul of cross-examination.

She should be going quick. She should be drawing a yes to every answer. And instead, it was much more sort of staggered, and I felt ineffective for that reason. She went for broke, I think, inadvisably.

PHILLIP: Here's one interaction with Susan Necheles that did seem to break through. This was with Stormy. She says, you were looking to get extort money from President Trump, right? Stormy says, false. Necheles says, well, that's what you did, right? Stormy says, false. But it's not false that she got money from President Trump.

JACKSON: But she didn't extort it, right?

PHILLIP: Sure. It's not -- right, but she --

COATES: Well, explain why that's a legal change.

JACKSON: It's a very significant thing. If you want to talk about nondisclosure agreements, which are lawful and legal, I have a story to tell. You want to pay me for my silence, particularly appropriate. She's not extorting or stealing or getting anything under false pretenses. He has an absolute right not to engage in that type of contractual arrangement. He did engage in a contractual arrangement.

The critical issue here is, what was the purpose and intent? Was he attempting to protect his family? Was he attempting to deceive the electorate? And I think that's the critical question, ultimately, Abby, Laura, that the jury has to come to a determination of.

Did you falsify these business records, ledgers, checks, right, invoices, for the purpose of, right, with the intent of concealing, hiding of this from the public so that, what we all know now very well, wouldn't have gotten out before the election and potentially affected his electoral process.

NUZZI: And she has always maintained --

LITMAN: And Abby -- please, go ahead.

NUZZI: She has always maintained that money was not the objective, that maybe it was a bonus, but that that was not why she signed this agreement.

COATES: Well, she went back and forth today on that point, though, right? The motivation was shifting over time.

NUZZI: In her telling, over the years, it has been pretty consistent.


She did not want the story out for a number of personal reasons. And ultimately, she came to fear for her safety after this encounter in a parking lot in Las Vegas when someone threatened her, we don't know who, and she has never said that she knows who, to tell her to be silent. Ultimately, Donald Trump was the one with more to lose, obviously, which is why he allegedly signed this agreement and bought her silence.

But she's always maintained she was successful. She was successful at a pretty early age in her field. She was a director. She was an actress. She had multiple homes. She testified today that she was not looking for a payout, and she was not negotiating this payout. She was not haggling to get a better deal.

COATES: Show of hands, who remembers the Trump presidency chaos?


COATES: I mean, all that's happening, right? Stand by.

PHILLIP: All of us lived through it, in a way.


COATES: This cast of characters. Stand by, everyone. We're going to get back to you as well. It was a wild day with wild testimony, and even the judge said that something was unnecessary. So, the question we've been towing around here, did the prosecution go too far? Well, a retired New York judge who was in court joins me next.



COATES: The testimony from Stormy Daniels triggering questions about who was really in control of the court during Donald Trump's hush money trial. Judge Judge Merchan saying that some people may have felt some kind of way about Daniels's testimony, saying -- quote -- "There were some things that probably would have been better left unsaid."

Trump's attorneys arguing the salacious details about the alleged affair between Daniels and Trump violated court rules. They even moved to have the entire case dismissed.

Now, the judge, of course, tossed that motion, but he did tell prosecutors this: "I think the degree of detail we're going into here is just unnecessary."

But Judge Merchan warned that he may have to embarrass Trump if his attorneys can't control him, saying -- quote -- "I understand that your client is upset at this point, but he is cursing audibly, and he is shaking his head visually, and that's contemptuous. It has the potential to intimidate the witness and the jury can see that."

Joining me now, Judge George Grasso, retired Queens County Supreme Court judge. Judge, thank you so much for being here. But you were there earlier today in the court. Talk to me about how you view Judge Merchan's control of the courtroom.

GEORGE GRASSO, RETIRED QUEENS COUNTY SUPREME COURT JUDGE: I think it was perfect. As a matter of fact, when we came back after the lunch break and Mr. Blanche got up and requested a mistrial, the first thing I thought of is something that the judge said rather promptly in pushing back on that a bit. He said, "I would have thought you would have been objecting more." The judge was doing sua sponte objections. The judge was in control. But there's a balance. It's not the judge's job to do the defense attorney's job.

So, I was -- part of the thing I had in the back of my mind, were they laying back and not objecting, so they might think they would have a stronger issue to try and go for a mistrial, or were they just not doing the job the way they should do the job? But the judge did his job.

As far as salaciousness, I don't know. I mean, I was there, I saw the whole thing, I would give it like a PG-13, really.


There were certain things that she was saying where I think that they really should have objected. She was saying things like how she was feeling. I felt like I was going to black out. Jump up, object. You know, I don't know that it would be appropriate that she's testifying about her feelings in this context. But they just let her go.

So, several times, the judge stepped in. The defense was unnaturally quiet, and then they came in looking for a mistrial. So, I think the judge is doing a great job controlling his courtroom, and I think we made the right ruling.

COATES: You know, I had to tell you, I was surprised particularly that there were not more objections being raised. And by the way, we know they're not allowed to have so-called speaking objections, where they're doing the television moment, where they say objection and they give you a paragraph as to all the reasons why --

GRASSO: Right.

COATES: -- they want the jury to hear it.

GRASSO: Right.

COATES: But, as you can imagine, there are instances that you want to make a point and risk the slap on the wrist from a judge about a statement you're trying to convey to the jury. I was surprised about that. But there was this moment. The judge, Todd Blanche, saying there was no way to un-ring the bell because they were -- there were some insinuation that this was not consensual. Although she was saying it was, there were other statements that were being made.

How did you feel about that line of testimony? Did that raise sufficient cause that he could say the bell had not been un-rung?

GRASSO: Well, it certainly -- that's what I was referring to when I said she was thought testifying to what she was thinking.

COATES: Right.

GRASSO: It certainly, in my opinion, would have been a sustainable objection. But for the defense counsel to sit back, not object, and then come back with the bell can't be un-rung. And let's just do -- a mistrial is an extraordinary remedy. So, no, I don't think it rose to that level. And, you know, the judge made everything very clear. And then it seemed that they were more on the ball.

But furthermore, where they did object, I would say during Stormy Daniels testimony, they were getting 80, 90% of their objections sustained.


COATES: Uh-hmm.

GRASSO: So, they could never turn around and say, well, judge, we object and you ignore us. Quite the contrary was true.

COATES: Well, there is a moment to the mistrial, as you mentioned, an extraordinary remedy, oftentimes not granted. But there is also a moment at the conclusion of the prosecution's case in chief where the defense can say, Your Honor, there has been no chance at meeting their burden of proof. We don't need to put on a case here.

GRASSO: Right.

COATES: If that were the case right now and the defense is well within their rights at the close of the presentation, the government's evidence to do this, if all that you have heard so far is what the case is, would you

entertain a motion?

GRASSO: Well, we got to get to the point where the people close their case in chief before I could give a definitive response to that. I will say, I think that this is a very viable case. I think Judge Merchan's initial ruling, I think his decision was on February 15th, upholding the grand jury indictment.

I think in the context of the way this case was laid out and in the context of what the people promised they would do in their opening statement, I think they're putting on a very, very strong case. I think the issue isn't going to be the case being dismissed at the close of the case. I think they're a long way there to closing that up. But the issue is going to be, is this going to be beyond a reasonable doubt for 12 jurors?

And I believe very strongly Michael Cohen is going to be the key. We've had several witnesses that have kind of brought us to the door of thinking that, hey, this may be a case that goes beyond a reasonable doubt, but it's going to be Michael Cohen that's going to have to take us, take the jury through that door, and ultimately connect the dots with defendant Trump. And if he does that, I think the likelihood will be high for a conviction. If Michael Cohen falters, I think the likelihood will be high for at least a mistrial.

So, that's my view on where we are right now.

COATES: Judge George Grasso, thank you so much for joining us.

GRASSO: Pleasure to be with you. Thank you for having me.

COATES: I want to bring back in our panel because that's a lot riding on Michael Cohen here.

LITMAN: No pressure.


SCHULTZ: It all rides on Michael Cohen.

PHILLIP: Yeah, but he's not wrong.

RODGERS: Always has.

SCHULTZ: Yeah. I mean, he's the one that has to make the connection between the payment, the business record. If he's not making it, nobody else is. And if they don't believe him, this case goes down. So, I mean, lot rides on him. We're going to see a lot tomorrow in terms of cross-examination, further cross-examination of Stormy Daniels.

I think they'll continue down this narrative of that she was going after the money, that she had -- you know, that she was concerned that she needed the money before the election, right? That was some of the evidence that's put on so far. I think you're going to see more and more of that.

It was -- you know, the idea that they cross-examined her and had her say, yes, I'd like to see him put in prison, you know, and that they brought out the tweet saying she would do a dance if that happened, I think that's all stuff that's going to be good for the defense.

But again, this is not making the connection to the business records at the end of the day. Michael Cohen has to do that, and it's all riding on his credibility.

PHILLIP: I mean, you have to imagine that whatever happens with the rest of Stormy Daniels's testimony, Michael Cohen's testimony cannot go the way that this has gone with the mistakes on both sides, from the prosecutors and the defense. Both sides have to clean up their house by the time they get to that witness because he is, of all the characters, he has so much baggage with Donald Trump. He has -- he has such a colorful personality. It's like Stormy Daniels times 10.

RODGERS: Yeah, we'll see if he can control himself. I mean, really, the issue is going to be they have what they had for Stormy, plus, like you said, more tweets, more podcasts, more TV appearances, more stuff. He's just going to have to be ready to just, when they put it up, you say, yep, I said that, yep, I said that, yep, I said that, but I'm telling you the truth and, you know, here's how you know.

And the problem is, you know, they would have had Allen Weisselberg in a different world where he didn't perjure himself and get sent back to prison. But they can't bring him back again at this trial because, presumably, he'll do the same thing again and just lie on the stand.

So, you know, I don't know if there's anyone other than Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg who actually have that direct, yes, I had a conversation with Trump about this reimbursement scheme. You know, we don't know. I mean, unless there's some surprise out there, those are the two guys, which means Michael Cohen is your only available one.

LITMAN: They have Weisselberg in some part, though. That writing where Weisselberg lays it all out.

COATES: Handwritten notes.

LITMAN: I think it's the biggest document in the case. It's obviously his doing. So, at that point, it's really got to be the defense theory, if they have one, that somehow Weisselberg and Cohen conspired, you know, without Trump's knowledge. That's a heavy load to lift.

COATES: You know, I want to point out, too -- I mean, we obviously don't have any audio or visual into the courtroom. We're getting a lot from the transcripts and the judge pointing out. That's you, of course. The judge pointing out that, you know, the jury could visibly see if Trump was being contemptuous.


Let's just show this little bit of a graphic we have here to bring everyone inside the courtroom, where this is what it looks like. I mean, you know, might as well the chip paint. But if you go inside, right, you've got Donald Trump where the circle is, sitting there. You've got the witness stand on the other side of the judge and the jury box to the far right with those 18 jurors.

And so, you see it is kind of a kitty corner thing from the witness stand to the court reporter. But you've got this shot from the jury box, Abby, to be able to visibly see where Donald Trump is. And so, the judge, if the judge can hear him making statements and swearing and jerking his head --

PHILLIP: The jury can see it all.

COATES: They can see it all.

LITMAN: One hundred percent.

PHILLIP: Yeah, they can see it all.

COATES: And you saw that, Harry, that they could see it. So, I mean, there must have been ping ponging moments where the jury was looking. I mean, I know I would be looking to see what Trump is saying. And if I'm Trump, I'm probably trying to make my demonstrable body language evident.

LITMAN: That was it exactly. And you had the exchange at sidebar where Merchan says, you've got to keep him from grimacing and from swearing, et cetera. And to Jen's point, when Michael Cohen hits the stand, will he be able to control himself or will he, you know, be doing 360s with his head?

JACKSON: I see it a little bit differently in terms of Michael Cohen. And here's what I see in the minority here. I don't think Michael Cohen is the end-all, be-all, and here's why.

I think the prosecution has spent a significant amount of time corroborating the things that Michael Cohen will say, starting out with Pecker, of course, being at the "National Enquirer," laying out the catch-and-kill scheme, going into Davidson, speaking about he's the one attorney, of course, who represented Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, bringing in the accountant, bringing in the comptroller to talk about the documents, the invoices, the checks, et cetera.

I think the prosecution has done all they could to make Michael Cohen as irrelevant as he possibly could be. Yes, he's an important witness. He certainly adds fabric and color. It'll be a colorful day. It'll be Stormy times 10, Abby, as you mentioned. No question. But I don't think it ride and falls on him because they have done all they could. The prosecution --

PHILLIP: But, Joey, the thing that they have not done is shown that Donald Trump either directed or knew about the falsification.

JACKSON: Here is my answer.

PHILLIP: That's the thing. And who can do that?

JACKSON: Here's my answer.


JACKSON: Here's my answer, very briefly. What happens, Abby, is in cases, you're allowed to draw reasonable inferences from the facts. And therefore, very few cases get tried. And there's a smoking gun. You saw him do it. So, you have to, as we always say as lawyers, bring your common sense into that courtroom.

Let me tell you a story, ladies and gentlemen, and that story begins with Pecker, and it ends with whoever the last witness is. And you don't have to rely upon Michael Cohen. You have to rely upon your good judgment, and you have to rely upon what the evidence tells you.

PHILLIP: A quick last word, Jim.

SCHULTZ: When they go to Michael Cohen, though, they're going to say -- they're going to take Hope Hicks's testimony. He wanted to be in the campaign, was always kicked out. Tried to get in the room, was always kicked out. He went rogue from time to time. Never spoke on behalf of the campaign. Really wanted to get in the White House. Rejected from the White House.

This guy wanted to get in the White House, wanted to be within the circle of power. Couldn't get it. So, all he wanted to do was be a boss pleaser and get this thing done in order to curry favor with the boss.

JACKSON: And that's why President Trump, from his personal account, was writing checks to Michael Cohen. Okay. In other words, I get your point, but the bottom line is going to be -- come on, guys, use your common sense. The president's signing personal checks to him, but he's going rogue. Stop. Right? let's see what the jury says.

PHILLIP: I think you're all a little bit right.

(LAUGHTER) I'm just going to say it. You're making the defense case. You're making the prosecution's case. We'll see what the jury ends up saying about all of this. Everybody, stand by.

The hush money trial is moving along with the prosecution saying that they have about two weeks of testimony left. But down in Florida, Trump's classified documents trial is indefinitely postponed. We'll explain what just happened there next.



COATES: Donald Trump scoring a pretty big win in Florida today. Judge Eileen Cannon indefinitely suspending the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case. Why? Well, the judge is saying there are just too many issues, right, in the classified evidence that still need to be worked out.

PHILLIP: A trial was initially supposed to start in late May. And while no new date has been set, Judge Cannon does think that the issues at hand should be resolved by late July.

Our panel is back with us. Late July, however, that doesn't mean that the trial could start any time soon. Jen, what is going on here with this judge?

RODGERS: One of two things. Judge Cannon is just slow walking this thing because she wants Trump to get what he wants, which is to delay this beyond the election, in which case if he is re-elected, he will just shut down the case and or pardon himself and, you know, or both. Or she is literally so incompetent that she cannot do her job and decide these outstanding motions and move this case through its paces to trial.

She is a new judge. A lot of people talk about how inexperienced she is. Classified documents can be complicated. Yada, yada, yada. And yet there's just no excuse for the way this has proceeded. Some of these motion issues are easy, are frivolous. There is no reason that she can't be further along than she is and just throwing up her hands and saying, wow, I know I was supposed to go to trial this month, but, gee, I haven't been able to get the work done, we're going to have to push it back. It's ludicrous.

COATES: Surely, she is aware of the accusations that this is perhaps partisan- motivated. That doesn't even affect her at all.

SCHULTZ: I don't think it does. I think she's probably looking at the hand slap she got before and worried about that. In addition, the Classified Information Procedures Act does get a little, you know, messy sometimes, right?


Because the defense is probably wanting to use classified information that the government is saying, no way, you can't use that in court. So, all that needs to get argued before the judge. It's all done behind closed doors.

And, you know, the defense can play that delay game by trying to push as much confidential information -- classified information, I should say, before the court saying, look, we need to use it, and defense -- and the prosecution say, no, you don't, and they're going to fight over it.

COATES: That shouldn't stop, Harry, being able to at least set a trial date and then work towards the goal of, by this date, we've got to resolve this.

LITMAN: No kidding. One month messy, not six months messy, not indefinite mothball messy. And really, it's not very messy here at all. Because remember, there's nothing he's charged with that has anything to do with the content of the paper. It's just the way it was marked.

So, they could try to exert pressure on a couple documents, but this is straightforward. And really, ludicrous is not too strong a word. To move it back a month or two, but to literally take it off calendar, and this, by the way, is a cut and dried, very strong case, it's unconscionable.

SCHULTZ: I agree. I think the case is a pretty simple case.


SCHULTZ: And I think the defense is probably pushing us along and exploiting me, the fact that this judge is more than willing to take her time to rule on these motions. And I think that's probably what's happening.

PHILLIP: And I mean, let's just remember, she's a Trump-appointee. It's not -- it's not even just that she is a new judge. There were also questions when she was being confirmed about her qualifications for the judgeship to begin with. So, she's got all of this kind of in the background. And Jack Smith made a choice in this case to take it down to the Southern District of Florida. And there was a possibility always that this could have ended up in her lap. And it has. And Donald Trump, it just looks like, has gotten really, really lucky here.

JACKSON: Yeah. You know, Abby, certainly, we could accept the fact that she's a new judge, et cetera. People are new at things. That's fine. But you have great people around you. I have not seen the -- look, federal staffs, these judges have phenomenal staff, people who are brilliant, who could assist you. So, I don't buy the argument that she's fumbling because she's inexperienced. It seems to me she clearly has an agenda here, right?

I mean -- and based upon the agenda, Trump-appointee, as you noted, I think she's slow rolling the case. Yes, there are significant issues. There are motions that need to be delved through. Judges delve through motions in all kinds of cases every day and twice on Sunday. What makes this different? Classified documents, okay, but the fact that she's doing it, it seems to me to be pretty obvious that it's -- the thumb is on the scale for Mr. Trump.

COATES: Olivia, really quick, how does this demonstrate that they're more afraid of this case than they are the others? Obviously, this would be a Florida jury that I thought Trump was saying politically that would be better for him than, say, what he thinks is a Manhattan- biased jury.

NUZZI: I mean, the allegations in this case are very serious, not to say that they're not in other cases. We have photographic evidence that was turned up in these raids, right, of how he was storing these documents. And it goes against, frankly, as a political issue. It goes against how he talks about himself on foreign policy, how he talks about himself as a world leader.

And the further that we get into this, the further that she drags this out. The nominating conventions are this summer. The closer that it gets to him being officially the nominee, potentially the president again, I think that he's going to be talking more and more than he even is now about a witch hunt, and it seems like she's inclined to help him.

SCHULTZ: If this case were brought in Washington, D.C., on a rocket docket like Washington, D.C. has, and with judges who have handled classified information cases time and time again, we'd be to trial by now.

COATES: For sure. Probably even before anything in Manhattan, right? It wouldn't have been the audacity of Alvin Bragg, they said, going first. Thank you, everyone. So important to hear all your perspectives.

Up next, a message from President Biden to the Jewish community.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I see your fear, your hurt, your pain. Let me reassure you, as your president, you're not alone, you belong, you always have and you always will.


PHILLIP: And he invoked a giant in the fight against hate and antisemitism. Elisha Wiesel, his son, will join us next.




COATES: President Biden taking the podium at the Capitol today with a stark warning for America, saying there is a -- quote -- "ferocious surge in antisemitism across the country, and Americans need to come together to fight it." Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: This ancient hatred of Jews didn't begin with the Holocaust. It didn't end with the Holocaust, either. That hatred was brought to life on October 7th of 2023. On a sacred Jewish holiday, the terrorist group Hamas unleashed the deadliest day of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. That's why I'm calling on all Americans to stand united against antisemitism and hate in all its forms.

My dear friend, and he became a friend, the late Elie Wiesel said -- quote -- "One person of integrity can make a difference." We have to remember that now more than ever.


PHILLIP: Elie and Marion Wiesel's son and chairman of the Elie Wiesel Foundation, Elisha Wiesel, joins us now. President Biden invoking your father there, but also speaking at a really tense moment, both in the war, but also here in this country.


I've been saying this for a while now because it seems to me the country kind of needs somebody to help it understand this moment. Is this what you wanted to hear from him?

This was an incredible speech by President Biden. I was actually at the very first Days of Remembrance speech ever in 1979. I sat in President Carter's lap as my father spoke to the audience. That is actually the moment that my father met President Biden. President Biden sent him a note afterwards, and they began a friendship.

Today's speech was phenomenal. It was -- it was everything that he needed to cover, I think, for the Jewish people in this country to hear. He talked about family being the place where Holocaust education needs to happen and antisemitism needs to be fought. He talked about how his own father brought them to Dachau, spoke about it at the dinner table. That was a key part of his message.

He spoke about 10/7, how what happened on October 7th is very much modern antisemitism, that that's what drove these people to go in and murder 1,200 innocent people, do the terrible desecrations that they did to babies, teenagers, sexual violence, the unbelievable deeds.

And then he called that antisemitism on campus, and he did it in a very, very direct and crisp way. He said, calls for the elimination of Israel are genocide and effectively are the worst antisemitism you can be spouting.

That's really, I think, what the country needs to hear. It's very centering, very important. Very relieved the president did this today.

COATES: I want to play, actually, the moment that he does address the protests that we've been seeing on college campuses today. Listen.


BIDEN: We've seen a ferocious surge of antisemitism in America and around the world. On college campuses, Jewish students blocked, harassed, attacked while walking to class. Antisemitism, antisemitic posters, slogans calling for the annihilation of Israel, the world's only Jewish state.


COATES: I mean, the ADL is reporting there is 140% increase in antisemitic incidents just from 2022 to 2023, and increasing after October 7th. When you see these figures and then you hear the president of the United States having to even make a speech like this in the year 2024, that strikes such a chord.

ELISHA WIESEL, SON OF MARION AND NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATE ELIE WIESEL: It does. And thank God he's doing it. And thank God he's doing it from within the Democratic Party, because there are irresponsible legislators within the more extreme fringes of the Democratic Party who are 100% part of the problem.

It's interesting. You know, J Street, which is about as left as you get in the Jewish world, they have decided not to endorse Jamaal Bowman because he uses words that are so charged, so loaded they can only be seen as antisemitic in nature. You know, Jamaal Bowman goes and he supports the protesters, you know, who are calling for the elimination of the state of Israel, and says, oh, yeah, this is all peaceful.

I don't see anything peaceful as a Jewish person when I see banners and slogans and a call to globalize the Intifada. For those of us who remember what the Intifada was in 2000 and later, in the later 2000s, these were bloody murderous attacks, buses being blown up, the Sbarro pizza bombing.

So, there's a lot of irresponsible behavior that's coming from some of the further fringes of President Biden's party, which is why it's so important for him to make a strong message.

PHILLIP: At the same time, there is a war going on, and Israel is a close ally of the United States. Every time President Biden, you know, has tough words for Benjamin Netanyahu, there are definitely people on the right who say, oh, he's giving in to the far-left, he's antisemitic. Is that unfair in your mind? Is there room for President Biden to exert pressure on an ally in this circumstance and still be a strong ally to the Jewish people?

WIESEL: Of course. And President Biden has every right to tell Prime Minister Netanyahu what he thinks, what his views are. Ultimately, it's going to be Israel's responsibility to decide how to execute. When you come to words and discussions between friends, I do believe that the friendship between Israel and the United States is as profound a diplomatic friendship as can exist. Actions are what matter, though.

And some of the reports, when we hear that aid may get conditioned, that, you know, certain weapons supplies might be stopped, that's when I think the advisors around President Biden should just take a moment and think a little bit about history, because there is precedent for some of this.

My father, at that 1979 speech, made a very, very central point about bombing the tracks in Auschwitz. Roosevelt's advisors did not agree that the bombing of tracks in Auschwitz was a military priority.

Well, right now, I will tell you, as someone with family in Israel, as someone who's concerned about the civilians there, the Hamas terror tunnels that still exist in Rafah represent a threat in the same way that those tracks into Auschwitz represented a threat to European Jewry.


And they need to be dismantled. That Hamas terror infrastructure needs to be taken apart. So, I very much hope that, you know, President Biden's advisors are thinking about that as they make their own decisions about how to proceed.

COATES: It's a very powerful conversation and insight that you've given us today, and I do think it's so important that you heard it tonight as well. Thank you.

WIESEL: Thank you.

PHILLIP: It was good to see you. Thanks.

WIESEL: Good to see you.

COATES: Elisha Wiesel, everyone. Thank you so much. And you know what? We're going to hear more from President Biden tomorrow because Erin Burnett is sitting down with the president for an exclusive interview in Wisconsin. It's going to air tomorrow night right here on CNN at 7 p.m. Eastern.

PHILLIP: Thank you so much for watching. Our coverage continues with "Anderson Cooper 360." That's next.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to our special continuing primetime coverage.