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Quest Means Business

Court Wraps for the Day, Trump Trial to Resume Tuesday; Columbia University Holds Classes Virtually Amid Tensions; Zelenskyy Heralds Biden's Unwavering Support for Ukraine; Germany Arrests Three People For Allegedly Spying; Biden Announces $7B Boost For Solar Power; Hush Money Trial To Resume Tuesday With Gag Order Hearing. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired April 22, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The first witness taking the stand in the hush money criminal case against Donald

Trump, former "National Enquirer" publisher, David Pecker began his testimony today, it will continue into tomorrow.

I am Jim Sciutto, outside the New York courthouse for this landmark trial.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: And I am Paula Newton. It is Monday, April 22nd, and this QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

SCIUTTO: An historic day here in New York with opening statements and the lead witness in the first criminal trial of a former US president in US


Prosecution began by laying out its case against Donald Trump. They say his former lawyer, Michael Cohen paid adult film star Stormy Daniels at Trump's

direction to keep quiet an alleged affair just before the 2016 election. Prosecutors say Trump disguised $130,000.00 payment to Cohen as income.

The defense said Cohen is obsessed with the former president, could not be trusted. They told the jury that it would find plenty of reasonable doubt

that Trump had committed a crime. Trump himself denied the charges just after the court was adjourned for the day.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a case that you're looking back, it goes back many, many years, 2015, maybe before

that, and it is a case as to bookkeeping, which is a very minor thing in terms of the law, in terms of all the violent crime that is going on

outside as we -- as we speak right outside as we speak.


SCIUTTO: The tabloid publisher, David Pecker took the stand just after opening statements. He is the former chairman of the "National Enquirer's"

parent company, American Media, Inc.

Prosecutors say that Pecker helped broker the deal with Stormy Daniels to pay her off. He was only able to testify briefly before court was adjourned

for the day. It is going to continue again on Tuesday.

Pecker was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.

Katelyn Polantz is here with me.

Katelyn, we got our first taste today of both the prosecution's case and the defense's case in their opening statements, as well as the first

prosecution witness, Pecker, just briefly. Tell us what the story that prosecutors were telling to the jury today.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: Yes, this story that they are telling is that this isn't about bookkeeping. This isn't

about the sort of thing that Trump is saying, oh, he is indicting me just for paying a lawyer, that this is about election interference in 2016.

This is Donald Trump having a motivation to want to silence women who had stories that they wanted to tell about alleged affairs they had, keep them

quiet through the use of his network, David Pecker, American Media, "National Enquirer," Michael Cohen and keep them quiet because it would

harm him in the campaign.

That is a crucial piece of why this case is a felony, why it was brought. Why we are on trial now. The prosecutors laid out that case. We now have

David Pecker on the stand, about 25 minutes into questioning where the prosecutors are just getting from him why he was important, how much role

he had to play, a pretty big role at AMI, the person who signed off on celebrity stories.


POLANTZ: And the prosecutors also talked a lot about the amount of evidence they have, including audio of Donald Trump talking to Michael Cohen about

paying for some of these catch and kill stories and about what happened before the campaign where David Pecker was in the room and agreeing to help

the campaign not necessarily just working on his behalf.

SCIUTTO: And this is part of the argument that this was a pattern here. And they say, by the way, not only do they have this testimony, but to your

point, they've got a recording, they've got text messages, they have documents to back it up, and to some degree, head off the defense's

strategy here, which is to call into question the credibility of those witnesses.

But let's speak to the defense's strategy. Their essential argument is okay, this may have happened, but that is not election interference,

illegal election interference. This is a man, a husband, a candidate trying to protect his reputation.

POLANTZ: That's right and they are also going to try and put some distance between Donald Trump and the actions here, the prosecutors are saying quite

clearly, not only do they have audio recordings of Michael Cohen speaking with Donald Trump that Cohen took on his cell phone in 2016, they also have

text messages, e-mails.

We are going to have testimony, not just from David Pecker and Michael Cohen, but Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, Hope Hicks from the campaign.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it is quite a list of witnesses we should say.

POLANTZ: It is a list of witnesses.


POLANTZ: Plus evidence to support what they're saying, but the defense is trying to tell the jury, we have reason to doubt what these witnesses are

going to tell you. Make sure you're also aware of the motivations of these people that there were newspapers to sell, there was money to be made by

these individuals who now so publicly are pushing back or testifying against Donald Trump.


SCIUTTO: But of course, the defense has an advantage because all they have to do is create a reasonable doubt. That's always the advantage in a trial

such as this.

Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

So we've got a clear picture of the case, each side is attempting to lay out before this jury. Prosecutors allege Trump took part in the criminal

cover up to conceal that hush money payment. They said his actions were "election fraud, pure and simple."

The defense pushing back against that argument, Trump's team said there was nothing wrong with trying to sway an election, saying "that's called


Kevin McMunigal is a law professor Case Western Reserve University.

Kevin or should I call you Professor, thanks so much for joining.


SCIUTTO: Well, Kevin, listening to our first sample of both the defense and the prosecution case today, who ended the day with the advantage in your


MCMUNIGAL: In my view, the prosecution did. They emphasized conspiracy and cover up, which I thought and think is their main theme. They defense seems

like they are conceding the facts. They are just saying, well, look, this didn't constitute a crime and they're going to analogize to say, well, look

people enter into nondisclosure agreements all the time and pay money to people to not disclose that happened with a lot of people in the Harvey

Weinstein case.

So it is not inherently illegal then to have a nondisclosure agreement, but the prosecution I think does a good job of emphasizing the number of people

involved. You have Pecker, Cohen, Trump and the intent to commit these to cover up or assist these various crimes.

SCIUTTO: Okay, so tell us then, what is the legal threshold here? What does the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to distinguish

between what it says was in effect a criminal conspiracy and what the defense says is just a legal attempt to influence the election by a

candidate for office, but someone who is also trying to protect his reputation in general.

MCMUNIGAL: Well, clearly the prosecution has a high standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and they all said the burden of proof, they are

the ones that have to provide the evidence. So that's a significant threshold to meet, but prosecutors do it all the time.

And I think in this case, the evidence just seems incredibly strong. They say that they have -- first of all, you look at the line of witnesses --

David Pecker, former "National Enquirer" publisher and friend of Donald Trump, we should note. Michael Cohen, former lawyer and fixer for Donald

Trump, although of course they've fallen out with each other. Karen McDougal, who will also apparently testify to other payments made to keep

her quiet. Hope Hicks, who served in the Trump administration.

Beyond that lineup of witnesses, they say they have receipts, business receipts, but also texts messages, and even a recording of Donald Trump

himself describing this scheme, how big an advantage is that for the prosecution as they attempt to prove that case?

MCMUNIGAL: Well, something that I was taught early on as a prosecutor is if you want to call witnesses that have bias issues, as Cohen clearly does, he

doesn't like Trump, so that would undermine his testimony and also, he has lied in the past, so that doesn't make him materially great witness.

But the key to that is providing corroboration and that's the e-mails, the documents, the testimony of the other witnesses, and so I feel like the

prosecution has heeded that lesson and they are using corroboration as a way to answer the problem.

In the closing argument, you're going to see usually, it is not just you having to accept Cohen's testimony on its own. You have to think of it in

the context of all this other evidence, which corroborates what he was saying, and some of which Trump has admitted.

So that the idea of corroboration with shady witnesses is a strong one.

SCIUTTO: A lot has been made leading up to the trial about the legal leap that prosecutors are making here to take what some say might typically be a

misdemeanor turned it into a felony by connecting it to a federal crime here.

Is that a complicated legal step in your view?


MCMUNIGAL: I don't think it is. No, I think the law is pretty clear that this predicate offense, the object offense can be federal or state and

they've got a whole range of potential predicate offenses they can use. It is tax ones. There is New York election law, federal election law.

So I think one of the strengths of the prosecution is they haven't tied their theory to just one object crime. They have multiple ones they can


And they weren't terribly specific about it in the opening statement, and I think that is because they have some leeway about what the object crimes

could be, and there may well be able to prove more than one. They only need to prove -- and they just need to prove the intent to commit that crime,

not the actual commission of it, that makes it a little easier.

SCIUTTO: Professor Kevin McMunigal, thanks so much for joining.

MCMUNIGAL: Sure. My pleasure. Bye-bye.

SCIUTTO: Well, as we noted, David Pecker will continue his testimony on Tuesday, tomorrow, after briefly taking the stand earlier today.

The former "National Enquirer" publisher has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony here.

Prosecutors say Pecker was a central figure in Trump's alleged hush money scheme.

Oliver Darcy is in New York, and Oliver, it struck me as we were watching Pecker begin his testimony here that Donald Trump as you and I well know,

has often cried fake news and the face of any story critical of him. But you had Pecker on the stand under oath describing what he called checkbook

journalism, in effect, fake news for hire to aid or defend friends like Donald Trump in this case.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: That's exactly right, Jim and the "National Enquirer," you know, Trump might rail against fake news, but the

"National Enquirer" was a supporter of Donald Trump back in 2016, a big supporter.

Outside of even the catch and kill stories, they were boosting his campaign and David Pecker was of course the head of all of that and this is the

first time that he is coming out and breaking his silence.

We of course know a lot about catch and kill because of the tremendous reporting "The Wall Street Journal" and other news outlets did exposing the

practice, exposing how the "National Enquirer" purchased Karen McDougal's story to hide it from the public right before the 2016 election.

But David Pecker has never commented on this and so, reluctantly he is of course getting immunity in this case to testify against Donald Trump or in

this case, he is now going to be speaking on the record publicly about this.

And while a lot of the things he is saying are just really confirming a lot of the reporting that was done in previous years, he is already, in his

short testimony today, shedding some new light on how things worked, revealing, for instance, that he had that secret their e-mail address where

he used to -- where he would communicate with people, so his assistant didn't know.

And so it is going to be very interesting to see him on the stand tomorrow and potentially further talking about catch and kill.

SCIUTTO: Do we know the status of his relationship with Donald Trump? Of course, Michael Cohen and Trump had a very public falling out. Are Pecker

and Trump still friendly?

DARCY: I can't imagine they will be after this because packers testifying effectively against the former president and you saw from our court

reporters, they have had a statement saying that he was glaring at Pecker as he was on the stand.

Pecker apparently went over and tried saying hi to Trump afterward, but I can't imagine the former president is happy about his onetime ally

effectively betraying him in coming forward and giving all the lurid details about how the scheme worked.

SCIUTTO: Yes, well, it is going to be remarkable to see that testimony continue tomorrow. Oliver Darcy, thanks so much.

And just ahead, US lawmakers vote for a measure that could lead to a ban on TikTok in this country unless, TikTok's Chinese owner sells it. We are

going to going to have more on that right after a short break.




Now, in the last hour, President Joe Biden denounced antisemitic protests around college campuses. Now, this comes after Columbia University moved

all its classes online on Monday with tensions over a pro-Palestinian protests.

Now the university said the move which comes on the first day of Passover was meant to "de-escalate" the rancor. The school has been facing calls to

protect its students from alleged incidents of antisemitism.

Now, New York City Police were called last week to clear the demonstrators who have started occupying the school's main lawn. Now, campus organizers

insist they have been peaceful.

Meantime, New York Governor Kathy Hochul visited Columbia on Monday and said, students there do feel scared. Listen.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): I've never seen the level of protest that is so person-to-person. It is so visceral. And I now calling on everyone, people

need to find their humanity, have the conversations, talk to each other, understand different points of view because that's what college students

should be doing.

This is a country that was founded people searching for religious freedom, fleeing persecution elsewhere. No one here on a college campus should feel

the pain of being persecuted because of their religious beliefs.


NEWTON: Now, similar protests have been taking place on a number of other US campuses. At Yale, for example, at least 45 people were arrested on

Monday after they refused police orders to leave.

Polo Sandoval is live for us at Columbia University in New York and has been following all of this.

I mean, needless to say, it has been a disquieting week for many at Columbia and elsewhere. Can you run us right up-to-date on the situation

there today? And any sense of what is to come next?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is a big question, Paula and right now, there are two demonstrations happening at Columbia University.

One you may or may not be able to hear and that's because these demonstrators on the other side of the wall here at Columbia University and

then there is that one that you can see, which is this encampment, this Palestinian Solidarity encampment that continues to grow.

It is very similar to the one that was dismantled by campus officials calling on the NYPD just days ago. Pretty much right after that, that's

when this one popped up.

Now the question is, will the university potentially be reaching back out to the NYPD and then asking them for assistance in removing.

I have to tell you though, things here very peaceful. We've seen these groups coming together. They've put flags in the bushes to surround this

perimeter. One organizer told me that the names on the its flags, the names of dead Palestinians, but we have seen really chants, we've seen these

young people really coming together.

Now, it is safe to assume that many of the people in this particular part of the south lawn are students. That's because this campus is still under

restricted access after the incident from last week, meaning that only students, parents potentially faculty of course, are the only ones allowed


But at the same time, there has also been this other development over the weekend and that is with members of the Jewish community here on campus now

speaking out and saying that they are beginning to not just feel uncomfortable, but in some cases even intimidated because of some of the

rhetoric and the charged environment that we've seen here at Columbia.

The NYPD really supporting that, saying that -- telling me today that they have received multiple reports of harassment, but no sort of physical

altercations, but that is certainly a concern and that brings us right back to the situation here on the ground.


There is really no telling if or when Columbia University will once again reach out to the NYPD, and invite them on to campus since it is private

property and ask them to clear out this space.

And Columbia for their part saying that they certainly hear those concerns from all sides of this conversation and they are doing everything they can

to try to make sure that they feel safe, but ultimately, many of these students saying in terms of some of the Jewish students that I spoke to

saying it is still not enough in terms of those students that are still actively participating in this peaceful demonstration, they say they want

more from Columbia University in terms of their effort that is now entering multiple days and they show no signs of stopping.

But just the broader picture that I want to leave you with here, this really just provides you with a snapshot of the conversations that are

happening and of the potential that could happen at universities throughout the country. We saw it at Yale recently, Harvard taking steps to prevent

these kinds of what they describe as disruptions. So it is going to certainly be something to watch long term -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, and so far, at least where you are, university administrators not able to de-escalate in any satisfactory way.

Polo Sandoval for us live from Columbia, appreciate it.

Now, the US military aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan goes before the Senate Tuesday for a preliminary vote. The $95 billion

legislation was passed by the House over the weekend after months of political infighting between Republicans.

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised President Biden's "unwavering support." Meantime, the Kremlin says the aid package doesn't

change the situation on the battlefield.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Ukraine for us.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Russian troops advancing in a heavy firefight in Eastern Ukraine.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALES speaking in foreign language.)

PLEITGEN: This video from Russian military TV claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers having to surrender. Ukraine's howitzers often unable to support

their frontline units severely lacking 155 millimeter artillery shells, but now they hope that will change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will defend ourselves and counterattack.

PLEITGEN: Kremlin controlled media seething after the House passed the Ukraine aid bill, while praising Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor

Greene for trying to derail it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who "New York Post" already dressed in a Ushanka hat ahead with a

star, officially putting her in the ranks of Kremlin agents called Speaker Johnson, a Democrat elected by Ukraine.

Greene also said that Johnson betrayed not only Republicans, but the whole of the USA. Nonetheless, the US military aid will be bigger this year

compared to the past two years. And of course, there is nothing good in that.

PLEITGEN: Russia's foreign minister going even further threatening nuclear confrontation.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Westerners are teetering dangerously on the brink of a direct military clash between

nuclear powers, fraught with catastrophic consequences particularly that it is the troika of western nuclear states that are among key sponsors of the

criminal Kyiv regime.

PLEITGEN: Ukraine is in desperate need of lots of artillery ammo, Kyiv says, badly outgunned by Vladimir Putin's forces.

But also so air defense missiles with Russia drastically escalating its missile and drone campaign against Ukraine cities and power plants.

Ukraine's president saying he is grateful for the aid, but the weapons need to come fast.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The time between political decisions and inflicting real defeats on the enemy at the

front between the approval of the aid package and providing the strength to our guys, this should be reduced to a minimum.

PLEITGEN: And the Ukrainians hope US aid will arrive quickly and change the tune on the battlefield allowing Kyiv's forces to stop further Russian


Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


NEWTON: Now aid for Ukraine wasn't the only major bill passed by US House lawmakers this weekend, they also approved a measure that could lead to a

ban on TikTok.

TikTok is vowing to fight the measure on free speech grounds. It would in fact block the app unless it is sold by its Chinese owner, ByteDance. It

has a strong chance of becoming law at this point.

Both the Senate and White House have backed similar bills.

Clare Duffy is in New York for us and you've been following all of this. Now, it seems a TikTok ban could be signed by the president very, very

soon. I think everyone is wondering what happens next? Does it just go to court or will some kind of divestiture actually be in the offing here?

CLARE DUFFY, CNN BUSINESS WRITER: Right, Paula, so this bill would give TikTok about nine months to find a new American owner with the option for

the White House to extend that timeline by an extra 90 days before TikTok could potentially face a ban and TikTok is already signaling that it does

plan to file a lawsuit challenging this legislation if it becomes law likely on First Amendment grounds.

The company also sent a memo to employees on Saturday saying this is the beginning, not the end of this long process. So clearly trying to reassure

employees that this is not going to go, this app is not going anywhere right away.

And look, legal experts have told us that TikTok could have a solid case here. They've said that the courts tend to look at the ultimate impact of

laws on American speech rather than their intent. And that in this case, the bill could be viewed as potentially stifling American speech.

But of course, that will be up to the courts if and when this bill makes it there -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, and it could be in the courts for a very, very long time; longer than the one year they would have to divest.

I want to say in recent months, TikTok has really enlisted its influencers to lobby on their behalf, right? Do you expect the company to lean into

that strategy even more now?

DUFFY: Yes, absolutely. I mean, a big part of TikTok's messaging here has been about wanting to protect the rights of its users. It has touted the

fact that it has 170 million US users, including seven million small businesses. It has called on users to call their representatives to oppose

this bill and I won't be surprised if we see more of that.

And look I've also talked with users in the past couple of weeks who have said, if this bill becomes law, it could change how they plan to vote in


So the stakes are really high here, not only for TikTok, but also for the lawmakers who are pushing this legislation forward because of national

security concerns, but despite the massive popularity of this app.

NEWTON: Yes, and so much of that really could appear in down-ballot races. And you know, again, Secretary Blinken is headed to China later this week

and certainly is going to be an issue in relations between those two countries.

Clare Duffy for us, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Now, Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial will resume tomorrow morning. It will start with a hearing on whether he has violated his gag order. We

will have more on that right after a quick break quick.



NEWTON: Hello. I'm Paula Newton in New York. There's more QUEST MEANS BUSINESS in a moment when we'll discuss Donald Trump's big payday on paper

at least. That's thanks to the value of his media company.

And the head of Israeli military intelligence has resigned over the October 7th attacks. Before that though, these are the headlines this hour.

The Ukrainian official says the top of a giant television tower in how Kharkiv has come crashing down after a Russian missile strike. Video shows

the moment the top broke, rotated and fell. You can see it there. The structure is still more than 240 meters tall and nearly 800 feet before the


Officials in South Korea and Japan report a new missile launch by North Korea Monday. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Pyongyang fired

multiple short-range missiles. The projectiles were fired off North Korea's East Coast.

Germany has arrested three suspects accused of spying for China. All three are German nationals. Prosecutors say one allegedly gathered information on

military technology. The others are accused of spying and exporting a specialized laser to China. Separately in the U.K., British prosecutors

announced espionage charges against two men accused of passing information to China.

And it's Earth's Day. U.S. President Biden marked the occasion by announcing $7 billion in new funding for solar power. He also detailed new

action on the Federal Climate Corps. That program is meant to train people for jobs in clean energy and climate resilience.

SCIUTTO: Donald Trump's harsh money criminal trial will continue Tuesday tomorrow with a hearing on whether the former president has violated his

gag order. The jury will then return at 11:00 a.m. local time. David Pecker briefly took the stand today. He will continue testifying on Tuesday after

that initial hearing. The former National Enquirer publisher has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony in this trial.

Pecker allegedly helped broker the Hush Money deal with Stormy Daniels. Evan Perez is with me now. And Evan, I wonder if you can walk us through

what exactly the judge will be considering tomorrow because the prosecution has alleged multiple instances in which they say Trump has violated his gag

order. Does the judge decide that question tomorrow?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's going to start -- he's going to hold a hearing tomorrow before the jury comes in, Jim. And we

anticipate that this is going to take a little bit of time. He said that if it's -- if it's not complete by 11:00 a.m. he's going to bring the jury and

they'll continue with the testimony from David Pecker. And then they will come back after the jury leaves tomorrow is expected to be a shortened day

for court for the jurors, in part because of the observances of the Passover.

So, we don't know how long this hearing is going to take, but one of the things that is pretty remarkable about this is that you have Michael Cohen,

of course, who is going to be one of the prominent witnesses against the former president. And the former president kind of exchanging barbs almost

daily it seems like. Trump left court and you saw him as he was leaving stop and talked about -- talking about Michael Cohen challenging whether he

had any credibility.

And then, of course, Michael Cohen responding on social media shortly thereafter. So, we anticipate that that's going to take a lot of time

tomorrow morning because the question is, you know, is the former president allowed to make statements about a witness who is so openly also talking

about this case and about the defendant. It's truly, truly extraordinary. One of the many extraordinary things in this case, Jim.


SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. What are the potential sanctions on Trump? And is that something that we expect the judge to come to quickly?

PEREZ: Well, from what we've seen him do, Jim, he does take a little time. He will have the hearing and perhaps at the end of it or maybe shortly

thereafter we'll give -- we'll render a decision. If he does seem to work very quickly, what the prosecution is asking for is they're asking for a

thousand dollar fine for each instance of the violation of the gag order. And I think tomorrow morning we're going to probably see them add to that

based on the performance of the former president after court today.

So again, we don't anticipate that we're going to get worse than this. You know, obviously they're -- a normal defendant who would violate a gag order

like this would probably risk being thrown in jail. But that is not expected in this case. The prosecution right now is asking simply for

fines, which of course would be compounded for every single violation that he makes.

SCIUTTO: Evan Perez, thanks so much. CNN Senior Political Commentator Scott Jennings joins me now. And Scott, good to have you with me this afternoon.

You heard the opening arguments for the prosecution, the defense and the prosecution says, listen, this was a criminal conspiracy in effect to kill

a story that would have influenced the 2016 election and then hide it. The defense stipulates many of the facts and says, well, that may have

happened, but that's just an attempt to protect a reputation, not in effect interfere with the election influence it. Yes, but that that's perfectly


And I wonder from a, you know, don't put your lawyer hat on here, but put your political analyst hat on here. Is there -- is there a -- which one do

you think it is?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that I've always been suspect of this theory that got the D.A. here, Bragg, to move

this from a paperwork misdemeanor to this felony. You know, the Justice Department looked at it, the FEC looked at it, they took a pass on it. So,

I've never really thought this theory carried much water principally for two reasons.

One, because people like Donald Trump enter into these kinds of arrangements with people all the time, whether they're political candidates

or not, and Trump certainly has in his life. And number two, the idea that people by October of 2016, had no idea that Donald Trump was someone who

had slept with women other than his wife is ludicrous. We all knew that. In fact, we've known it for decades because it's been part of Donald Trump's

own personal mythology, you know, that he's some, you know, ladies man about New York City.

And so, what I heard out of the opening statements today, Jim, was this idea that if not but for this knowledge, Donald Trump, you know, the

election could have totally been different which is an insane idea that people wouldn't have known everything, you know, regarding Donald Trump's

personal life by the time this whole story came out anyway.

SCIUTTO: Yes, yes, but Scott, you and neither you or I are the person who put up $130,000 to hide that story, right? And what the prosecution is

claiming here is that this happened more than once, that others were paid off and that there was a -- there was an arrangement with a newspaper here,

granted a tabloid newspaper, but one that was read by a lot of folks here and that Trump seemed to calculate what was important to get messages out,


I mean, if it was totally inconsequential, then why bother to pay? Why bother to pay these people off?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, look, you asked me not to put my legal head on, which is good because I don't own one. I'm not a lawyer. But, but if, I

mean, look, why else -- why else would you be doing this? I mean, yes, he was a candidate, but I would think they could plausibly argue that he is a

high-profile businessman might have reasons to do this that he is a husband might have reasons to do this.

I mean, the thing is, I guess Trump's never fully admitted that the engagement happened so that may hamstring some of their argument there. But

I guess if I were arguing to a jury, why would this be happening outside of the idea of a political campaign or, you know, did this really have any

real bearing on the political campaign at all? It strikes me they could make a reasonable argument to at least one juror that some of those things

might be true and therefore try to try to hang it.

And I suppose that's where they're headed or it may just be Jim that they're going to try to discredit the witnesses and say, you know, it's a

he said she said, and we don't know exactly who's on the truth here so you can't convict me. I guess that's the other route to go.

SCIUTTO: Yes. It seems like they're going to go both routes and they did -- they did seem to say, listen, you know, influence is fine. That's

democracy. They said it in so many words. Before we go, listen, clearly a large portion of this country has made up its mind about Donald Trump.

They're going to vote for him or they're not going to vote for him. They love him or they hate him. There's a middle part of the country, of course,

that remains undecided and it tends to decide our elections.


In your view, do events in this courtroom influence those undecided voters decisions come November?

JENNINGS: I don't think we're going to learn anything about Donald Trump that will tell us anything we don't already know. By us, I mean, you know,

Americans. I do believe that the believe that the coming court cases, the January 6 case, if they ever get to it, could be more impactful because I

think it's directly related to his conduct as president while I think a reasonable person could look at this and say, well, I mean, this is just

related to who Donald Trump is as a person which I already knew about.

I also think one more thing. You may never show up in the polls, but there is a cohort of people out there who just may not ever want to vote for a

convicted felon. You know, it may be a small number. It may be kind of a, you know, a little just chunk of the electorate and they may never tell a

pollster that, but it may be that they remember the before times when, you know, you could reasonably expect the president not to be a convicted


And so, whether this case or the next one produces that result, yes, I do think it could hurt him. But in terms of personal conduct character, who is

this person? We already know it. You know what? I know it. Everyone watching this knows exactly who he is. And by the way, he won an election

once on it. And, you know, he seems to be poised to at least be competitive in another one.

SCIUTTO: Yes. That's a good point. Scott Jennings, thanks so much for joining. And still to come to sour, Israel's military intelligence chief

has resigned. Why the IDF says the senior army figure bears leadership responsibility for the October 7th Hamas attacks?


NEWTON: Gaza's civil defense agency says nearly 300 bodies have been recovered so far from a mass grave on the grounds of the Nasser Hospital

Complex in Khan Yunis. Now, the Civil Defense Chief says some bodies were found with their hands and feet tied. CNN has reached out to Israel's

military for a response. We've not yet heard back.

Meantime, head of the Israel Defense Forces military intelligence branch has now resigned.

The IDF says Aharon Haliva bears responsibility and leadership responsibility that is for the Hamas attacks on October 7th. CNN's Nic

Robertson is in Jerusalem now and has been following all of this really since the beginning. You know, finally a resignation there, Nic. What does

it signal as far as you understand from a strategy point of view now? Is it important politically, militarily or both?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think it's important for the military command. The politicians here haven't really taken

responsibility or had an investigation yet. But the military has. The military decided a couple of months ago to investigate why this had

happened, why they'd missed the fact that Hamas was preparing for a war. And they did that, they said, because they wanted to make sure -- because

the war was going on, that they learnt the lessons and could apply them right now.

But what's really interesting here is Major General Aaron Haliva actually came out and admonished himself and his officers and his command and their

whole structure really about a week after October the 7th when Hamas perpetrated this huge attack, he went down around Gaza. And at that time he

was on record very clearly saying, we failed in our basic function. He said this war was an intelligence failure, the fact that they perpetrated the


And he was explicit about himself. It was under my command, he said, that we failed to alert the country to this terror threat. And it's been very

well documented since then how junior ranks within the intelligence structure, just outside of Gaza, were monitoring Hamas just over the fence

and seeing them training and preparing for what appeared to be some kind of specialist military operation, even with paragliders.

And they passed that information up their chain of command and senior commanders, so the sort of accounting goes so far, didn't act on it. Now,

we haven't seen the full internal IDF investigation far from it, so we don't quite understand why this resignation is coming now. But the fact

that it was -- that it is coming, perhaps in of itself, is no surprise. Now, he'll remain in his post until a replacement is found.

But I think we can expect to see some more senior heads within the military role. I think what a lot of people here will be surprised about, again, is

that no politicians have taken it upon themselves, and many people would point at the prime minister to accept responsibility, their responsibility

for their role in why Hamas was able to perpetrate this attack.

NEWTON: Yes. And they are still waiting for any kind of contrition there. Nic Robertson for us and Jerusalem, appreciate it.

And we will discuss Donald Trump's big potential payday, but thanks to the value of his media company. More after the break.



NEWTON: Donald Trump is eligible for a new $1 billion windfall, at least on paper. The parent company of Truth Social can now register millions of new

shares now that its share price has hit some performance measurements. Most of them, most of those shares that is, would go to Trump himself. Now, it

closed today at more than $35.00 a share. You see it there even though it was down more than two percent. At the current price, Trump's windfall

would be worth $1.3 billion. However, new shares are subject to what they call lock up restrictions and that is exactly what you think it is they

cannot be sold.

Sara Fischer is in New York and you have been following this story for months. In fact, you warned us that this was likely on the horizon. But I

want to ask you, is there any expectation that the cash could literally land in the former president's pockets? Will he be able to, you know, make

good on this windfall?

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: It's a great question. So, as you mentioned, Donald Trump is what we say locked up for six months, meaning he

cannot access these shares. He cannot sell them until September. And the big question is, what will this stock be worth in September? You've seen since it went public last

month, it's just gone continuously down. There has been a small little bump in the past two days.

But we don't expect that this stock is going to materially grow. Why? Well, for one, unlike most public companies that are social media, they don't

plan on revealing any user metrics or numbers that could get investors excited. Right now, this stock is just trading on any sort of optimism

around Donald Trump's brand. And right now, when he's in court, I think there's a lot of tension around the president.

So maybe that'll help boost the stock price. But if you're starting to see other social media players, you know, also perform very well, meaning that

they're bringing in lechered revenues, that could also bolster this stock. So the answer is, we'll see where it ends in September,

but Donald Trump can only get as rich as this stock performs. And for now, this is sort of a meme stock still.

NEWTON: Yes. When we talk about a meme stock, it doesn't have much to show for itself in terms of growth. It is essentially a startup. But even in

that definition, it doesn't have any really strong revenue targets that it's making or anything like that. What do you see happening to the stock?

Because the people who run it still continue to say it can be turned into a big media company.

FISCHER: Well, the difference between this and other social media companies in the first one public, if you think about Meta or Snap, is that they had

hundreds of millions of users. And so, investors were optimistic that they could one day convert that huge, loyal, engaged user base into revenue.

Truth Social, not only will they not tell us how many users they have, but all third-party proxy metrics would suggest that they have barely any

users, right?

Maybe a few million. And so, if retail investors, remember, a lot of the people who are buying into this stock are not big institutional banks.

They're every people trading off of Donald Trump's brand. If retail investors one day can get past the fact that this stock is not performing

alongside its financial reality, then they're going to pull away. If they continue to ride the co-tales of Donald Trump's popularity, they'll

continue to stay engaged.

But we've seen historically with every meme stock, whether it was Bed, Bath and Beyond or GameStop, that the momentum does typically fall. Eventually

retail investors get out because they recognize they're going to lose money.

NEWTON: Yes. And as you point out, what is going to be so interesting is to see when that momentum rises and falls, and if it does so with the fortunes

of the former president, the political fortunes of the former president. Sara Fischer for us, thanks so much. Appreciate it, and we will be back

with more news in a moment.



NEWTON: Donald Trump was arguably the world's most powerful person. And yes, he could be again in the near future. Today, however, the former U.S.

president was like many other criminal defendants. His fate now in the hands of the prosecution, his defense attorneys, a judge, and 12 jurors. It

is a historic moment for the United States to make no mistake. And the first time a former president has been put on trial for alleged criminal


Jim Sciutto has been outside the courthouse all day and been on this beat for years now, Jim. You know, for some people in pockets of America, but

obviously from the sidelines, right, internationally looking in on this, they're stumped. Like, how can this be? How can a man who is facing so many

charges, criminal and otherwise, still one day, very soon, become the next president, perhaps, if he wins, even if he is convicted in this case? It's

what so many people wonder which law is allowed, and why.

SCIUTTO: Well, if you look at the opening arguments today, you see what the legal question, at least as relates to these charges, is. The prosecution

says it was a criminal conspiracy to conceal information from voters during an election, and therefore to influence that election, that information

being an alleged affair with Stormy Daniels. The defense's defense is that that's not illegal, that he just wanted to protect his reputation.

That's the question before jurors, and to some degree, it's not dissimilar from the question before voters. They know who Donald Trump is, they know

that he's had affairs in the past, and they've kind of priced that into their sense of him politically, whereas others look at this as potentially

criminal behavior. Now, to be fair, of the several trials that Donald Trump may face, this, I think, you can put on the less serious end of the

spectrum, at least as many voters see it here, that they might turn greater attention to trials that relate to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

But one thing is clear from this courtroom is that the jury is going to decide, right? The jury could go either way. They could decide that this

behavior was criminal. That would be certainly historic, or they could decide to acquit him, and then, well, you move on to the possibility of

other trials down the line. But in each one, the outcome uncertain.

NEWTON: Yes. And some Republican strategists have actually argued that it's a win-win, either way, for the former president, that even if he is

convicted, in fact, it might -- he might be able to portray himself as a victim of this system and he may be able to ride that momentum into the


SCIUTTO: Well, he claims that with every trial against him, that he's the victim, as well as critical news stories, a whole host of things. He claims

that he's the victim of unfair treatment. There are Republicans who have said to me that a conviction would be different, and there are others who

are concerned that just the basic facts of this case might concern voters. But again, we'll know in November.

NEWTON: Another big day in court tomorrow, join us for all of it as it begins Tuesday morning, but in the meantime, this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

I'm Paul Newton, Jim Sciutto from New York there in front of the courthouse. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, NFL owner Robert Kraft will be here. He's a Columbia alum, the school's

Jewish Center for Jewish Student Life, is named after him. And now, Mr. Kraft says he has lost confidence in the university. Coming up, his strong

reaction to Columbia's handling of tents and at times harassing protests against Israel, prompting questions about the safety of Jewish students on


Plus, investigating how Hollywood production work ended up on internet servers that belonged to North Korea, that someone at a U.S. studio

unknowingly outsourced animation work?


CNN is following the trail.