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CNN Follows The Latest Developments On Trump Hush Money Trial. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired April 22, 2024 - 12:00   ET



VOICE-OVER: This is CNN Breaking News.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto live from outside the Manhattan Criminal Court. Opening statements have just finished in the case

against former U.S. President Donald Trump. This is CNN's special coverage of the Hush Money trial. A conspiracy and a cover-up. With those words, New

York prosecutors began their opening statements in the Hush Money trial of Donald Trump.

The prosecutors laid out a detailed timeline of what their case will be, saying they will use eyewitnesses, a paper trail, even an audio recording

of Trump himself to prove that he interfered in the 2016 election and then lied about it in his business records. Trump's attorneys began their

statements by saying the Manhattan D.A. should never have brought this case, and they stressed that the story being told by prosecutors is not as

simple as it seems.

The opening statements went on for a little more than an hour, wrapped up just minutes ago. Court is just getting back into session now, and the

first witness is about to be called. Things are moving very quickly here. That first witness is expected to be David Pecker, the former publisher of

the National Enquirer magazine.

Prosecutors say that in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Pecker agreed to be Trump's, quote, eyes and ears to find scandalous

stories about Trump and then pay people to kill those stories, to keep them quiet. As for the defendant, he is sticking to his guns, says all of this,

as he is wont to say, is part of a political witch hunt.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to say before we begin, these are all Biden trials. This is done as election

interference. Everybody knows it. I'm here instead of being able to be in Pennsylvania and Georgia and lots of other places campaigning, and it's

very unfair. Fortunately, the poll numbers are very good. They've been going up because people understand what's going on. This is a witch hunt,

and it's a shame.


SCIUTTO: On the left side of the screen here, you can see key updates from the trial as they happen. CNN has reporters inside the courtroom keeping us

up to the minute on what's going on there. Everything they see and hear will appear on that side panel. Joining me now is CNN's Senior Crime and

Justice Correspondent Katelyn Polantz.

And, Katelyn, first, to begin with, and I believe, well, this was just moments ago, Trump and his legal team re-entering the courthouse there.

Katelyn, as I was listening to the accounts of the prosecutors' opening argument this morning, it struck me that the story they're laying out is

less arcane than we might have imagined going in. The elements of the law here are complicated, as they often are, as the fraud allegations relate to

federal election law. But the story they're telling is a far simpler one.


SCIUTTO: Well, and as simple as Trump did not want these stories out, so he's willing to pay people off and then hide those payments. That is

something that a jury can understand, it strikes me.

POLANTZ: Yeah, and the reframing of this as not just about, you know, money and business records. This is about election fraud.

SCIUTTO: That's what the prosecutor was saying in his opening statement. And that is what the Trump team is going to have to be responding to

throughout. And so, you're already seeing that in how Todd Blanch, the primary defense attorney for Trump, delivered his opening statement saying

this isn't election interference, this is democracy.

Donald Trump wanted to keep people quiet in the 2016 because he needed to. It was part of what he wanted to do. And what he's saying in addition to

that to the jury is pay attention to these witnesses' motivations, why they may want to be out there publicly spreading what Trump's defense team

clearly wants to say are false allegations women wanted to make.

SCIUTTO: Well, what's interesting about this team or this conspiracy, as prosecutors present it, is that these are familiar people who were close to

Trump. David Pecker, close to Trump. And the allegation, right, is that this was not just one story that he killed, right, but it was multiple

stories, multiple stories over time. And we should note that as we were speaking there, David Pecker has just been called to be the first witness,

but also Michael Cohen, again, before the fall from Donald Trump's crisis, right?


Michael Cohen was his personal fixer, was his attorney. The allegation is they were working together on this.

POLANTZ: Yeah, the allegation is dating back to 2015 when there was a meeting that prosecutors say they will show the jury evidence of, they'll

hear testimony about, where David Pecker, Donald Trump, and Michael Cohen were all in the room at Trump Tower talking about how "National Enquirer"

could help his campaign.


POLANTZ: At least that's what the prosecutors want to portray.

SCIUTTO: More than once, arguably, right?

POLANTZ: Right. And then after that, that it wasn't just Stormy Daniels who was shopping around her story and that Michael Cohen paid off. There also

was another woman, Karen McDougal, who we do expect to hear from and who is key to what David Pecker is likely to testify about because she went

directly to the "National Enquirer" and then was provided a separate $150,000 for the rights of her story, which they acquired, then buried.

SCIUTTO: And that fits into their broader argument that this was a pattern, the Stormy Daniels payment was not isolated, it was part of a broader

conspiracy. Of course, the defense's job here is to punch holes in that case and to look for a reasonable doubt. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

Katelyn's going to be with me throughout as we break this down.

Let's look now at both the political and legal sides of this. Joining me now, former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin. He is host of the podcast

"That's It with Michael Zeldin." Also, with us is CNN Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich. Good to have you both.

Michael, first to you, if I can, I'll ask you in succession to give your lawyers assessment of the prosecutors' opening arguments here. Then I'll

ask for your sense of where the defense is going. But first on the prosecutors, did they -- did they make in their opening argument a strong


MICHAEL ZELDIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think what they did, which was very good, was they told a story. And as you said, Jim, it's a story that's

easily followed. This is what happened in this case. There was an allegation. There was a suppression of the story that was the basis for the

allegation. Then there was a misstatement of the repayment on the books and records.

Very straightforward, blocking and tackling. Everyone can understand that. And there was motive. The president was motivated to do this in the

aftermath of the Access Hollywood tape. And this was a pattern and practice based on Karen McDougal and other things.

So, I think they made out a very nice, easily followed story. And I think that's what they need to do. They have to just keep coming back to it. It's

almost like a rock and roll song. Verse, she loves you. Verse, she loves you. Verse, she loves you. And I think that that's what they did in their

opening statement. The defense, Jim, I think also did a nice job.

SCIUTTO: Briefly on the defense. The defense here is arguing that what was alleged was not illegal. It was just running a campaign. Trump was trying

to get elected. What's your response to that in the courtroom?

ZELDIN: If all they did was to have paid Stormy Daniels like they did Karen McDougal, then it would be legal. But when they decided to enter it on the

books and records of the Trump organization and misrepresent those books and records to the state, that's a very different matter than a private

transaction between two consenting adults, if you will.

And that's why I think you heard Blanche, the attorney for Trump, say he's not guilty, but maybe he's just not probable cause convictable. So, he's

sort of hedging his bets, trying to say he's innocent on the one hand, but maybe not. Maybe we can get a jury here on a hung jury. So, I think they

did what they each could do with the evidence they had. And now we have to see how the witnesses support those stories.

SCIUTTO: Jackie Kucinich, talk about the politics of this. I've had Republicans express, lawmakers express concern to me that when the details

of this case become public once again and are described in detail, a payoff to an adult movie star in the midst of an election campaign, that whatever

your politics are, that that story is at least potentially damaging to the candidate. And as you heard these opening arguments play out here, what's

your sense of the political implications?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, I think the the -- the political implications go toward the still persuadable voters. And there

are they are they are out there. There aren't a lot of them. But the folks that perhaps voted for Joe Biden because they didn't want the drama of the

Trump years, the voters that haven't made up their minds yet.

Could this push them in the direction the Trump campaign does not want them to go? And could this damage candidates down ballot? That's one thing that

we're watching for. And in terms of the Trump campaign, I mean, you heard Trump say it there himself. He is stuck in a courtroom. He is not

campaigning. He is not out there.


KUCINICH: His rally in North Carolina was canceled for a thunderstorm.


So, these -- even these -- these -- and that's a bigger deal than it would have been, perhaps if he had been able to be out more because he's not. And

the fundraising that they're doing, it isn't it -- isn't having the same heft that we've seen in the past.


KUCINICH: You can only it seems like you can only squeeze blood out of the stone so many times.

SCIUTTO: But that is part then of Trump's own court of public opinion defense, right? To say that this is political interference here. It's

keeping me from the campaign trail. And I wonder when they hear that message from Trump, which, by the way, we hear pretty much twice a day as

he goes into the court and when he comes out.

Does that have a potential political impact, as well? Because there are voters, principally Republican voters, who do look at this case and others

as targeting him, that they would not have happened if he were not a candidate for president.

KUCINICH: But they weren't going to vote for Joe Biden anyway, Jim. The most precious commodity you have in a presidential campaign is time. And

any time that is not spent campaigning is harmful to Trump, no matter why he's there. But the voters you're talking about, they're not voting for Joe

Biden anyway. They're going to vote for Trump. They think he's being treated unfairly. And nothing anyone's going to say is going to change

their mind.

SCIUTTO: Jackie Kucinich, Michael Zeldin. Interesting first day here at the criminal courthouse. Thanks so much for joining us. Coming up, we are just

over six months away from the presidential election. How will this hush money trial potentially sway voters? We're going to dig a little deeper.




ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: And as you said today with David Pecker, that's really what I think they're a little bit anxious about. And that's

also part of why you've seen Donald Trump so frustrated about the gag order. We saw him all weekend posting on Truth Social any interviews he did

slamming the gag order that was placed on him. Because one of the key things in that is that he's not able to attack witnesses.

Of course, I'd argue that the gag order is actually pretty lenient on Donald Trump. There's only a few areas that he's not able to speak about.

He's largely able to attack the judge in this case, the Manhattan district attorney. But he has been very focused on him not being able to go after


He believes personally that it's unfair that his former fixer, Michael Cohen, can get up there and talk about him. He's not able to speak about

him. And also, of course, they may hear from Stormy Daniels, as well. That's really why we've seen a lot of frustration with Donald Trump with

that aspect of it.

So, I think so far they've kind of anticipated what was laid out today with these opening statements. I think really what they're now looking ahead

toward and trying to calculate is what will this testimony look like. And part of that as well, Jim, just to, you know, sum it up, is really -- this

is going to be kind of embarrassing for Donald Trump. A lot of this is very personal to him.

Even though Donald Trump's attorneys think that this case, out of the four criminal indictments that he is facing, is the weakest, it is also the most

potentially embarrassing for him because of the salacious details expected to come out.

SCIUTTO: No question. Now, listen, that's part of the case, frankly, right, is that the Stormy Daniels affair, alleged affair, was embarrassing to him

in 2016 to the point he was willing to pay money to kill that story.

TREENE: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: So, it fits with the broader narrative. Alayna Treene, thanks so much. CNN's Evan Perez -- he joins me now live from Washington. Evan,

question for you. You have a story that prosecutors are telling here, and that story is one that folks can understand, right? It's a bad story.

Trump doesn't want to get it out, pay some money to kill that story. And by the way, prosecutors argue it's not the first time or only time he and his

team did that. But on the law, can you explain to viewers who aren't lawyers what's the law that they say was broken here?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was a tough case for the prosecution, for the district attorney to bring, Jim. From the

beginning, this was one reason why it took so long for them to bring it. This is why the Justice Department investigated this.

There were two looks at this, one during the Trump administration and then early in the Biden administration. And the federal government decided to

bypass this and to not go forward with the prosecution. And so, part of what the story that is being built by the prosecution and now by their

questioning of David Pecker on the stand right now in New York is that they falsified these records.

There were 34 records that the prosecution says were falsified, which is illegal in New York. And what they're doing is, this is normally a

misdemeanor. Something to falsify business records in the state of New York would normally be a misdemeanor.

But what they've done is they've connected it to the election. They're saying that the story here is not just the falsification of business

records, but that this was intended to affect the election, which New York is saying, the prosecution is saying, is what makes this a felony.

And so, that is where they're going as they're going through the questions with David Pecker, going through the entire story of not only the Stormy

Daniels payment, but also some of the pattern that had been established during the many years that Pecker and Donald Trump knew each other and

worked with each other. And apparently, according to the story that the prosecution is laying out, having a sort of a symbiotic relationship

whereby he would do favors for, where they would do favors for each other.

SCIUTTO: And just to be clear, Evan, in effect, they have to prove two crimes, right? Not just the falsification of the business records, but the

intent then to influence the election.

PEREZ: Right.

SCIUTTO: Is that the idea?

PEREZ: Right. The idea being it has to go beyond just the classification. It has to be connected with the intention of affecting the election.

SCIUTTO: Right. All right. Well, we'll listen to how they make that case. Evan Perez, thanks so much.


So, to the politics, Larry Sabato is the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. He joins me now from

Charlottesville. Larry, good to have you on. Thanks for joining.

So, there's a narrative, conventional wisdom, whatever you want to call it, that, listen, everybody's got their views of Trump and this trial not

likely to move anybody in either direction there. I'm generally skeptical of those kinds of narratives. And I wonder what you view as the politics of

this here. As this plays out, does it have a potential political effect? Just hearing the details in the courtroom of what prosecutors say

transpired in 2016.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Well, ultimately, the verdict will matter more than anything that happens in the

courtroom. But I'm thinking of this in a different way. You can't move Trump's base. We all know that. You're not going to move the Democratic

base. It's very anti-Trump.

So, who are we left with? It's the few undecideds, Jim. It's just a few percentage points. And they're the ones who really matter. Will they

believe that the election interference part of this in particular connects to, say, January 6th, which was also election interference or the fake

electors? That was election interference. You can have an effect on the campaign even if Trump is found not guilty.

SCIUTTO: Well, there's that piece, right? There's the alleged election interference. And then there are just the sordid details of this. And as I

said earlier, in this hour, I've had Republican lawmakers say to me that they're not looking forward to hearing those details out again and how it

might affect the nominee of the party here.

Is it -- and I know there's been some polling that shows a conviction would make a difference for those movable voters you're describing there. But is

it a conviction only or is the case itself potentially impactful?

SABATO: There will be fewer influenced by the case if there's a not guilty verdict or maybe even if there's a hung jury. But there's still some and

we're talking about very small numbers in a handful of states that will elect the next president, just as happened in 2020 and 2016. So, it doesn't

take moving many to make a big difference.

SCIUTTO: And that's pretty much the way our trials are these days, right? A tiny sliver of voters in a certain handful of states that tend to turn

things. On the flip side, Trump's essential argument is that this case would not have been brought if he were not running for office. He's a

victim here. And I know he says that in response to any case brought against him.

But politically, does that argument and does that view have the potential to move voters, at least in terms of turnout and enthusiasm, in other

words, come out to vote for him in response to a case like this or a sense of unfairness?

SABATO: Yes, that's exactly it for Trump. He wants to pump up not just his base, but the people on the periphery of the base who are sympathetic to

Trump, but who frequently just don't vote. They don't show up, even for Trump. So, he's got to worry about them. He's got to get them out to vote.

And I suppose playing the victim helps because many of these people, as we've studied Trump voters, also look at themselves as victims.

SCIUTTO: Before we go, Larry, of course, time in the courtroom is time that Trump will not be on the campaign trail, meeting with voters, holding

rallies, raising money in person. Although he has, of course, been trying to raise money off the case, as well. How much does that matter in this

election campaign?

I know things have changed and that a lot of the glad handing doesn't have the same impact it did in the past, particularly with a candidate like

Trump, who is so well known and, by the way, already was president. Does that time off the campaign trail have, in your view, make a measurable

difference, have a measurable impact on the outcome?

SABATO: Well, you mentioned the word enthusiasm, and that's critical to turnout. And you enthuse -- people, you enthuse your base when you're there

in front of them, when they have something to go to and to cheer for.

And so, you take all those events away and you become just another headline. Even someone like Trump could become just another headline.

Having said that, I agree that with Trump and Biden, the vast majority of voters, it's well above 90 percent, already know for whom they vote if they


SCIUTTO: Larry Sabato, thanks so much, as always.

SABATO: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And we will be right back from outside the courthouse in Manhattan, where former President Trump is now on trial for allegedly

covering up an affair to mislead voters in the 2016 election.




SCIUTTO: Welcome back. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York, outside the courthouse. Court has just adjourned. In Donald Trump's hush money case, the former

publisher of the "National Enquirer", David Pecker, he was the first to testify. Prosecutors say he worked with Trump to catch and kill news

stories that could have harmed Trump in the run up to the 2016 presidential election.

Opening statements, they wrapped up just about a half an hour ago. And in an unusual move, rather, prosecutors objected multiple times during the

defense opening statements. They objected to several statements Trump's lawyers made about Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, of course, two key

figures and upcoming witnesses in the case.

The judge sustained their objections each time. It was all part of the dramatic first hour for the jury as each side laid out their case.

Prosecution says this is a conspiracy and a cover up. The defense claims the D.A. never should have brought this case in the first place.

Katelyn Polantz is with me now. And as I said, they've wrapped up for the day because one of the alternate jurors has a dentist appointment today.

Normally, they would have gone until later in the afternoon. Tell us about the questioning so far of this first witness, who I think we could

characterize as a star witness, David Pecker, the former editor of the "National Enquirer".



SCIUTTO: What's been the prosecutor's intent here?

POLANTZ: Well, there may be a lot of star witnesses coming up. But what we have heard so far, it's only been 25 minutes of David Pecker on the stand

so far with prosecutors questioning him. They're going to have hours to go, to elicit what he knows, what the evidence is that they've collected from

him, the story he has to tell.

So far, it's been about who he is and why he would be a witness there. He, you know, explained he was the former chairman of American media, that he

was the person that had the final say on big stories, especially involving celebrities. Donald Trump would have been one before he was president and

since then --

SCIUTTO: And it's key because they're saying -- here's the editor of the "National Enquirer" who was killing some stories that would harm Trump. And

by the way, pumping up stories that would help him. I mean, they allege it was a conspiracy.

POLANTZ: Right. Three prongs.


POLANTZ: Having stories out there that would hurt his opponents in 2016. Having stories out there that would flatter him. And having -- making sure

that the stories that were unflattering about Trump from people like Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels.

SCIUTTO: It's amazing given that Trump attacks the news media at all times for being fake news. Anytime they report negative stories about him. When

here they're alleging that he had this symbiotic relationship with the editor of a tabloid newspaper to help him and to kill stuff that might have

hurt him.

POLANTZ: He says that but then in the same way he says outside of the courtroom, it's all election interference. That's what the prosecutors are

saying in this case. So, Trump does tend to turn those things.

One of the things is, too, I want to note as we end for the day is that the next thing that happens in that courtroom in this criminal case isn't David

Pecker coming back on the stand. It's the prosecutors talking to the judge about their allegations that Trump is in violation of his gag order when

he's been tweeting about witnesses.


POLANTZ: There's going to be a hearing tomorrow morning on that about how far he has gone in the lead up to this case in his public statements. If

the judge has an issue with that and if he'll be sanctioned in some way.

SCIUTTO: What are the potential sanctions?

POLANTZ: Well, the prosecutors in this case, they want Trump sanctioned a thousand dollars for each time he violated the gag order. They have a pile

of tweets and other statements that they want to show to the judge they've already put into the record. But they also want the judge to warn Trump you

continue to do this you could be in jail.

SCIUTTO: Is that a genuine possibility? If you -- yeah.

POLANTZ: I mean a judge has a power if they hold someone in contempt to put them in jail. And he certainly has the power to warn Trump what the

potential consequences would be if it would ever go there to that extent. That's a big question.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, so many open questions. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much as always. Let's dig a little deeper now. David Weinstein he's a former state

and federal prosecutor. He joins me now live from Florida. David good to have you. I wonder what your assessment is of the prosecutors' case as they

laid it out in their opening arguments and in their at least early questioning of their first witness.

DAVID WEINSTEIN, FORMER STATE AND FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Jim it's everything I expected that it would be. We heard in opening statements from

the prosecution where this case was going what they were going to prove, how they were going prove it. What witnesses they'd be bringing forward and

that they would bring witnesses forward. And they would bring documents that corroborated each other and set out the allegations that they had


And that these jurors needed to pay attention and that it's about those falsifications and those records that were made. And that this person the

former president who is now a defendant knew what was going on intentionally participated in all of this activity and was not sitting by

the sidelines while other people did his work for them.

And they're starting now to set that stage with their first witness, the person who was at the heart of the catch and release, the heart of

negotiating ways for people not to harm this individual when he was running for president. So, pretty much as I expected that it would go, let's see

how it plays out down the road.

SCIUTTO: And interesting that prosecutors seem to indicate, it won't just be documents that they present but text messages, a recording that Michael

Cohen made. So, corroborating materials of Trump's involvement in statements potentially impactful I imagine to their case?

WEINSTEIN: Absolutely. And to hear a defendant's own words describing what he wanted to have happen is involvement in the alleged conspiracy. His own

actions go to the heart of the question the defense will be asking. Did the defendant intentionally participate? Did he know what was going on? And

we're going to hear it from his own mouth that according to the prosecution he knew exactly what was going on.

SCIUTTO: You heard the defense's opening argument, as well.


Listen, their job arguably easier. They just have to create a reasonable doubt punch a hole or two in the prosecutor's case. Do you think that they

have the goods to do that based on their opening arguments?

WEINSTEIN: Based on what they've said to begin, that's exactly what they're trying to do. And they only need to punch one hole convince one

juror. Look, it is going to be their goal to get across the board acquittal here. But if they can't get that, if they can convince one juror that this

was an overstep that this was about democracy not about falsifying records.

That witnesses shouldn't be believed. That the government hasn't proven their case that it's a high burden. Then they've won the battle. And yes,

their job is easier than that of the prosecution. And they've set the stage for exactly how they're going to do it. The one wild card -- will they put

their client on the stand?

SCIUTTO: Is that a legal argument or a political argument to say that this is just as the defense attorney said democracy in action is killing a story

and paying money to kill a story. Is that from a legal perspective, O.K. political behavior and activity?

WEINSTEIN: It is if you haven't falsified what you did in some official record that's either under oath or required by the laws of the state or of

the federal government. Look, as they described it. This was about civil lawsuits that we see happen all the time. People get sued in court because

of things they said, things they did.

They reach a settlement agreement. It's confidential. We never know what happens. So, to the extent that that's the conduct they're focusing on,

that is something that happens in the legal system all the time. What's not proper is lying about it in official records. Lying about it, too, and not

in this case the federal government if it was a campaign finance contribution., but in this case it's about how did you represent what those

payments were? Who did you tell what they were?


WEINSTEIN: What paperwork did you file. That's what the prosecution is trying to get at.

SCIUTTO: Katelyn, before we came to you, David mentioned what will be the next item on the agenda. And that is prosecutors' allegations that Trump is

violating his gag order based on Trump's public statements. Is he, in your view?

WEINSTEIN: In a couple of instances he is, because he's commented directly about witnesses in the case about the people in the case, the judge, the

prosecution. Those are people he can't talk about other comments he's made about this being a political persecution, about people trying to influence

his campaign. Those are political statements.

Those are statements that arguably are protected by his First Amendment rights and his ability as a candidate to say what he needs to do about his

election. But the statements he makes about people involved in the case, what he thinks of them. Those are in direct contradiction to the judge's

orders. And as Katelyn pointed out, now, they want money. A thousand dollars for each violation and they have a stack of the violations down the


If you directly defy a court order, you can be held in criminal contempt and the punishment for that could be incarceration. So, he has to be

careful what he says. The judge has to be careful how he views what was said whether or not it was protected.

SCIUTTO: I mean, when I hear a thousand dollars per violation that's money that would matter to you and me but not to Donald Trump who just posted a

bond for a $175 million in the civil fraud case. It just raises a broader question about are these gag orders -- by the way that were in place for

other trial, are they working, right? Or does he just push the limits because he calculates it's in his interest and kind of dares the legal

system to stop him?

WEINSTEIN: I think that's exactly what's going on here. As you point out, a thousand dollars to the former president, that's nothing. So, they'll take

that risk. Fine. Go ahead. Fine me. Ten thousand. Fifteen thousand. A hundred thousand. That doesn't really matter to me. But it sets the stage

for the judge to say I've tried to do the least restrictive thing to you to get you to comply with my gag order --


WEINSTEIN: -- and you're not doing it. So, you know what? Now, I'm going to fall back on the biggest option around. But we all try to make comparisons

to things. And the thing that keeps coming back to me are some of the famous scenes from "My Cousin Vinny" when he ends up being held in contempt

and he spends the night in jail. Are we going to see that happen to the former president? And if so, where are they going to put him?

How are they going to protect him. But if he keeps defying the order because he doesn't think a thousand dollars matters, then yes, the judge is

going to go to the most extreme option. And if he is in contempt of an order -- direct criminal contempt, he can be put in jail.


SCIUTTO: First of all, good reference to "My Cousin Vinny". I remember that scene, well. Second of all, I always ask this question, because I think

it's a fair one. If you or I were to tweet or make public statements about a judge or a judge's family member or a witness in a case in which we were

the defendant. I imagine you or I would face exactly that risk of putting spending a night in jail if we continue to defy the judge's demands.

WEINSTEIN: You're absolutely right. You and I better have brought a toothbrush with us and we would be spending the night in jail for directly

being in contempt of a judge's order. We'd be given due process. We'd be given an opportunity to explain why we did what we did. Defend ourselves.

And in the end, yes, we'd end up in a cell for the night.

SCIUTTO: Well, David thanks so much as always. We're going to have a lot more questions for you as we go through. This is just day one in this trial

of course. Still to come, Donald Trump's legal fees continue to cost him millions of dollars. That said, a big payday could be on the horizon, at

least on paper. Stay with us for those details.



DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- case that nobody wanted -- it was just at the last minute they decided to do it. It's a case that

if you're looking back it goes back many, many years -- 2015, maybe before that. And it's a case as to bookkeeping which is a very minor thing in

terms of the law in terms of all the violent crime that's going on outside as we speak. Right outside as we speak. But this is a case where you pay a

lawyer. It's a lawyer. And they call it a legal expense.

That's the exact term they use. Legal expense in the books. And another thing that wasn't even said was we never even deducted it as a tax

deduction. So, that takes a whole of answer. Most people want to deduct everything. We never even took it as a tax deduction. But they call the

payment to a lawyer a legal expense. In the books. They didn't call it construction.


They didn't say you're building a building. It's called a payment to a lawyer because, as you know, Cone is a lawyer. Represented a lot of people

over the years. Now, I'm not the only one. And wasn't very good in a lot of ways in terms of his representation. But he represented a lot of people.

But he puts in an invoice or whatever. A bill. And they pay and they call it a legal expense.

I got indicted for that. What else would you call it? Actually nobody's been able to say what you're supposed to call it. If a lawyer puts in a

bill or an invoice, and you pay the bill and in the book. It's a little line. That's a very small little line. I don't know if you can even write

more than two words. It's not like you can tell a life story. They marked it down to a legal expense. This is what I got indicted over.

Think of it. I got indicted. I'm the leading candidate. I'm beating Biden. I'm beating the Republicans now. I have the nomination. And this is what

they try to take me off the trail for. That checks being paid to a lawyer. He is a lawyer or was a lawyer. And also the things he got in trouble for

were things that had nothing to do with me.

He got in trouble. He went to jail. This had nothing to do with me. This had to do with the taxicab company that he owned, which is just something

he owned. And medallions and borrowing money and a lot of things. But it had nothing to do with me.

He represented a lot of people over the years. But they take this payment and they call it a legal expense. And you heard it today for the first

time. This is what I got indicted over. This is what took me off and takes me off the campaign trail because I should be in Georgia now. I should be

in Florida now. I should be in a lot of different places right now campaigning.

And I'm sitting here. And this will go on for a long time. It's very unfair. The judges conflicted, as you know. It's very unfair what's going

on. And I should be allowed to campaign. And whoever heard of this, he got indicted for that? People in the courts said to me, I can't believe it.

This is the case. So, we did nothing wrong.

The other thing is, if this were such a great case, why didn't the Southern District bring it? Who looked at it, turned it down? Why didn't numerous

other agencies and law enforcement groups look at it? Because it was shown to everybody. And very importantly, why didn't the federal elections do

anything about it? Because this is federal. It's not state.

They're trying to make it a state case or whatever. And it's not state. It has nothing to do with it. It's never happened before, I believe. It's

never happened before. This has never happened before when the state tries to insert itself in federal elections. Nobody's ever seen it. But, you

know, federal elections took a total pass on it. They said, essentially, nothing was done wrong or they would have done something about it.

They're tough. They would have done something about it. But they said nothing, and they said, we're going to take a pass. Because they couldn't

even believe it. Actually, if you read their letter, they couldn't even believe it. They were incredulous. And yet, Bragg picks it up.

Now, with Bragg, if you look, when he first came in, he didn't want to do it. He didn't want to do it. Now, when are they going to look at Pomerantz

and what Pomerantz did? Because that's bad stuff. And 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. And when are they going to look at that? Now, we'll go to another subject, because just a few blocks away, as

you know, they had a trial on the $175 million. That's Letitia James. It's all coming out of the White House, by the way. And that's in front of Judge

Engoron. And the judge really didn't know anything.

He didn't know about collateral security. He said, supposing it goes down. Well, it doesn't go down because it's cash. I put up $175 million in cash,

and we have a bonding company do it. And he challenged the bonding company that maybe the bonding company was no good. Well, they're good, and they

also have $175 million of collateral -- my collateral.

But the judge didn't know anything about it. He didn't know what the $175 million cash meant. He had no idea what anything meant. And he had no idea

what he did in the trial. And he charged me hundreds of millions of dollars on something where I'm totally innocent.

But if you look at what happened today, Judge Engoron should not have done that trial. It should have gone to the business division where they have

complex business trials. But actually, it should have never been brought because I didn't overestimate.


You know, they say I overestimated. If you look at the numbers, they're underestimated. I underestimated. I did the opposite of what they said. And

the reason that they tried to, and they did it for their own narrative, they valued a billion-dollar asset at $18 million. They valued other assets

in order to build their narrative. They want to build a narrative.

But if you look, and I have a complete record of what happened, Judge Engoron had no idea what was going on, didn't understand the most simple

concepts. And this is the man that took a case. And this is why business is a movement. They're moving out of New York because they can't be subject to

this. They'd be put out of business. They're moving out of New York because of it.

But Judge Engoron had absolutely no idea what had happened. He didn't realize we put up $175. But when he found out we put it up, he said, what

happens if it goes up or down? I said, it doesn't. Or they said, it doesn't go up or down. It's cash that we put up, all cash. Very few people could do

that. And the deal was approved with the attorney general if you can believe that. But the deal was approved.

She just tried to embarrass everybody. And she tried to embarrass a very good bonding company by saying they weren't credit-worthy. Well, they were

credit-worthy. And what was more important is they had a security, a hundred and seventy five million dollars that I put up.

But the point here is that the judge had no idea what was happening. And this is the same judge that two months ago made a ruling that shook the

world. It shook the world because everyone knows going to that trial, I did nothing wrong. And over here, I did nothing wrong also. This is a Biden

witch hunt to keep me off the campaign trail.

So far, it's not working because my poll numbers are higher than they've ever been because the public understands that it's a witch hunt. Thank you

very much.

REPORTER: Mr. Trump, (INAUDIBLE) against you?

REPORTER: Where's Melania?


SCIUTTO: Former President speaking there outside the courtroom, as so often with Donald Trump, it is necessary to fact-check several of his statements

following those statements. Katelyn, first on his legal argument there, he was trying to make that it was just a payment to his lawyer. In fact, the

prosecutors are alleging that this was a payment to conceal, a payment to his lawyer to reimburse him for having paid off Stormy Daniels.

POLANTZ: A campaign motivation --


POLANTZ: -- that makes this case not just a misdemeanor, but a more serious case, a felony case. That is important. The other thing that he

does in those comments, listening to him, is that he does talk about Michael Cohen. He doesn't say his name.


POLANTZ: But he refers to him as the lawyer and talks about his credibility a little bit. That's something that is very likely to be happening in the

courtroom, but there is a very strict gag order on Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: Does the gag order say you cannot mention his name or you cannot criticize him or call into question his credibility, et cetera?

POLANTZ: Yeah, the March version of the gag order was it prohibited the defendant from making or directing others to make statements about known or

reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning potential participation in the investigation.

SCIUTTO: So, that is a statement about -- oh well, we expect Michael Cohen to be called.

POLANTZ: That's right, and the prosecutors have, in what they've told the court in advance of this hearing tomorrow about what they say are Trump's

violations of the gag order repeatedly, they have flagged times when Donald Trump has posted on Truth Social about Michael Cohen calling him a serial

perjurer, that he's trying to prove other things. So, it's quite possible that we hear more about what he just said on camera, outside --


POLANTZ: -- standing inside the court, in court tomorrow, whenever the judge looks at the gag order.

SCIUTTO: So, we have a former federal and state prosecutor, David Weinstein, on that question by mentioning Cohen here. Is that a violation

of the gag order as you understand it?

WEINSTEIN: Under the letter of the gag order, I agree with Katelyn, it sounds like a violation of the gag order. Look, those are statements his

lawyers are going to make in closing argument about the witness and about his credibility, and he should let his lawyers make those statements. By

making them himself, they're all recorded, they're going to drag that video back to go with the pile of Truth Social postings, and they're going to say

to the judge, right after he left court yesterday, judge, here's what he said. It violates your order.

To me, one of the other things he just did, he made a statement, an affirmative statement, about who he paid the money to, why he paid the

money to that person. Now, it's not under oath, but he made that statement, and it's contrary to what Michael Cohen's going to say. Will they use that

against him during the trial?


He needs to be very careful about what he says, not only about the witness, but about what he's done.

SCIUTTO: And just briefly, because we don't have much time, but on the -- his legal argument there, that it was just a payment to a lawyer, factually

incorrect, at least as prosecutors are describing it.

WEINSTEIN: Absolutely. And contradictory to statements that are coming out. And again, he needs to be careful, or that's going to come right back to

bite him again.

SCIUTTO: David Weinstein, thanks so much. Just a reminder, Katelyn, before we go, up next when they come back, we're breaking early because of a

dentist appointment for one of the alternate jurors. First thing that they do tomorrow morning will be?

POLANTZ: Gag order hearing, 9:30.

SCIUTTO: So, perhaps to this very question we've been addressing here.

POLANTZ: Yeah, absolutely. And there's always some table setting, too, that takes place before and after the jury comes in.


POLANTZ: What exactly can be asked?


POLANTZ: What can't be asked? What will the jury hear? There is some of that likely before we get back to David Pecker on the stand. But that gag

order hearing -- stay tuned.

SCIUTTO: All right. Katelyn Polantz, David Weinstein, as well. Thanks so much. And thanks so much to all of you for watching. Amanpour is next.