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Pence To Testify In Probe Over Trump's Efforts To Overturn Election; Trump Attacks Judge, Prosecutors Despite Courtroom Warning; Trump Rails Against Hush Money Indictment Despite Judge's Caution; CNN Primetime: Inside The Trump Investigations. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 21:00   ET




STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN, FRIEND OF SHOOTING VICTIM KATHERINE KOONCE, CHRISTIAN MUSIC SINGER & SONGWRITER: When we first heard what was happening, and we were huddled up, praying, crying, begging, "God, this wasn't even true," we knew Katherine was there. We knew this - she was the head of the school.

And my wife even said, "As much as I don't want to believe Katherine is one of those that we're hearing about, I know her well enough to know she probably was doing everything she could, to change this story, to stop this thing, from happening, to talk to this person, whatever she could do."


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: And Steven said to me, last week, Katherine's story is not over, however. He, his family, and the entire Nashville community, today, remembering, Katherine Koonce, 59-years-old.

We wish all six families peace and strength, in the days ahead.

The news continues. CNN PRIMETIME Special "INSIDE THE TRUMP INVESTIGATION" starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A surreal moment. History made. Former President Trump arrested and arraigned.

ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Facing 34 felony counts, all tied to alleged hush money payments.

BRAGG: These are felony crimes, in New York State, no matter who you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, fact-checking the former President's grievances.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only crime that I have committed is to fearlessly defend our nation, from those who seek to destroy it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comparing his charges to another infamous campaign finance case, and answering the biggest questions: What's next for the Manhattan case?

JOE TACOPINA, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This case is going to fall on its merits well before we get to a jury.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What role does politics play in this prosecution?

CYRUS VANCE JR., FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: As a nominee, it would be much more difficult, for a prosecutor, to then go to trial and convict him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And which of the other probes could imperil the former President next.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "HATCHET MAN": This is the least of the legal troubles. We're seeing the Special Counsel make real strides.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Good evening. I'm Pamela Brown.

Major developments, tonight, in two of the cases, and investigations, involving Donald Trump.

His former number two says he will in fact testify, about their conversations, leading up to January 6. Former Vice President Mike Pence will not appeal a ruling that he must testify, in the Justice Department's Special Counsel investigation, of attempts to overturn the election.

So, the question, tonight, will Trump appeal, on executive privilege grounds?

And one day after Trump pleaded not guilty, inside a Manhattan courtroom, in the hush money case, against him, he continues to attack America's rule of law, and targets the judge, in this case, and also claims that the indictment helps him politically.

Tonight, one of Donald Trump's legal allies joins us live.

Also, we'll hear from a former federal judge, on whether to expect a gag order, as Trump attacks the New York judge.

Plus, you'll hear from the jury foreman, who acquitted John Edwards, in a similar campaign finance trial. Hear what he has to say.

And joining me, live, in studio, a panel of great voices, to analyze and make sense, of this all.

But we begin with the news involving Mike Pence.

Katelyn Polantz joins us now live.

So Katelyn, there's some big news out about this that our team is reporting, when it comes to the Special Counsel investigation, and a testimony that had to do with seizing voting machines, right?


So, with Mike Pence, the former Vice President, he announced, today, through a spokesperson that he is not going to appeal a court order, saying he has to testify to a grand jury.

Pamela, what that means is that he will be appearing, before a federal grand jury, in D.C., sometime in the coming weeks or days. We should very much expect that now, because of the position he is taking.

So, what had happened, to arrive at this event, which is really an unprecedented situation, a former Vice President, testifying, about the person, he was on the ticket with, the person that he served under, the former President of the United States, Donald Trump.

Mike Pence had been subpoenaed, by the Special Counsel's Office, and had initially resisted. He had gone to court, as had Donald Trump, trying to block some of his testimony.

Ultimately, the judge, in that case, said "Yes, you do have to show up, and testify in this criminal probe, around January 6, being conducted by federal investigators. And you're going to have to discuss direct conversations that you may have had, with President Donald Trump, at the time, especially if Trump was acting illegally."

And so, Pence is expected to be showing up, in the coming days.

Even if Donald Trump appeals, it would take a lot of mountains for him to move, at the federal court, for him to get an order that would block Pence. He keeps losing every time he tries to block someone's testimony.

BROWN: All right, Katelyn Polantz, thanks for the latest, there.

And Trump's arrest and arraignment is just the first step, in a long legal road ahead, for Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg. It's one thing, to bring an indictment. But winning a conviction will be much more difficult.

So, let's bring in CNN's Paula Reid.

What are the biggest hurdles, Bragg will face, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, at a high level, this case is about buying, and then trying to suppress, potentially scandalous stories, ahead of the 2016 election.


But the way it's charged is 34 counts of falsifying business records, and they were charged, as a felony. And in order for these crimes to be a felony, you have to allege that this was part of a larger criminal scheme. And, right now, it's not clear what that other crime was. It doesn't have to be specified in the indictment. It was not specified, in the statement of facts.

Yesterday, though, the District Attorney had a press conference. He suggested that that other crime could be either a violation of state election law, or federal election law. That was confusing to people.

But a source close to the case suggests to me that they could be engaging in a belt-and-suspenders approach, here. But again, it's not clear if federal election violations would work here. The case law is not clear. Also, questions about, whether this could be a state election offense, because this was, again, about a federal election.

Now, the next hurdle that the District Attorney will have to get over is intent, motive. And was there an intent to defraud here? The courts have interpreted that in some instances, as trying to deprive someone of money or property. And here, of course, he was paying Michael Cohen more than he actually owed him.

But at least one appellate court has looked at this idea of intent to defraud, and said, "Well, it could potentially apply to depriving the public or the government of something." And because there was allegedly an effort to get around tax obligations, it could work. But again, it's a hurdle, for prosecutors.

And yet, another hurdle that they'll have to get over is the witnesses here. Look, it's a cast of colorful characters. You have, for example, former adult film star, Stormy Daniels, and a disbarred and convicted felon, Michael Cohen.

But look, criminal cases are always full of colorful people, people with prior convictions.

When it comes to Stormy Daniels, she could still be a valuable witness, to talk about the timing of this hush money payment, how it was executed.

Michael Cohen could also be a valuable witness. But his prior convictions, for lying, and his repeated attacks, against the former President, definitely make him vulnerable, to defense attorney attacks. But I'm told by sources, all of these allegations are also supported by documents.

But the District Attorney, Pamela, he has a while, to figure out how to get over these hurdles, because the next hearing's not for eight months.

BROWN: Yes. I think a lot of us were surprised by that one.

REID: Yes.

BROWN: Paula Reid, thank you so much.

Well, Donald Trump may have been subdued, in the Manhattan courtroom. But as soon as he returned, to Mar-a-Lago, he unleashed numerous attacks, against the Manhattan D.A., as well as the judge overseeing this case.


TRUMP: I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife and family, whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris, and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign. And a lot of it.


BROWN: Those attacks, in spite of the judge's own warning, to Trump, to not incite violence.

I want to bring in Mike Davis, a Trump legal ally, and former Gorsuch clerk.

Mike, thanks for your time, tonight.

So, you just heard Donald Trump.


BROWN: That was just one of many attacks, he made, last night. Why target the judge, like that in particular?

DAVIS: Well, I think, President Trump understands that this is a political prosecution, against him, by a George Soros-funded Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg.

BROWN: OK. Let me just stop you, right there. He's not - George Soros donated to a PAC that then donated to Alvin Bragg. Go ahead.

DAVIS: OK. So, it was George Soros' money that went to support Alvin Bragg's campaign.

The prior Manhattan D.A. declined to prosecute these charges. At Alvin Bragg's urging, when Alvin Bragg worked for the Attorney General's office, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney declined to prosecute these charges.

The Federal Election Commission declined to prosecute these charges. And Alvin Bragg himself declined to prosecute these charges, until he started taking heat, from the Left.

And so, then Alvin Bragg recruited one of the top officials, from the Biden Justice Department, Matthew Colangelo. He was in the number three office, in the Biden Justice Department, to come revive this dead case. And the Manhattan D.A.'s office, they brought these bogus political charges, against President Trump. And then, he finds out that this judge actually donated, to Biden's campaign.

So, that at least raises the appearance of impartiality - the appearance that this judge--


DAVIS: --could be - not be impartial against President Trump.

BROWN: You just you threw out a lot there. Let me just go back and fact-check a few things.

First of all, Cy Vance, he was the former D.A. in Manhattan, he said that the prosecutors, the federal prosecutors, asked him to step away from this case. That was something that they were looking at, at the time. We've heard from Alvin Bragg saying that he developed new evidence, which is why this case was brought back. So, those are a few aspects.


But we're talking about the judge, in particular, in this case, right? He - Trump went after this judge, only hours after the judge warned him, in that courtroom, "Do not engage in rhetoric that has the potential to cause harm to anyone, to incite violence."

Was that - was it wrong, for former President Trump, to target the judge, only hours after that?

DAVIS: So, I'm not understanding what President Trump said there that could potentially incite violence.

And I find it very interesting that the same Democrats, who are criticizing President Trump now, because he's getting railroaded, in New York, were awfully quiet, when Democrats were running illegal obstruction of justice campaigns, out of Supreme - outside of Supreme Court justices' homes, for months, still running them that led to a 1 AM assassination attempt--

BROWN: OK. That's--

DAVIS: --against Justice Kavanaugh--


DAVIS: --his wife, Ashley, and their two teenage daughters.

BROWN: Not sure about the Democratic conspiracy. But that's not even what I'm asking you about. So, let's focus on exactly what we're talking about.

Trump called the judge, "Trump-hating." He said this is a Trump-hating judge that his daughter was involved, in Democratic politics. And the concern is that that could go against exactly what the judge had asked for in the courtroom.

Because, as you well know, the former President has a fervent devout group of followers, you know that?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, are these the same followers, who tried to kill Justice Kavanaugh, in his home?

BROWN: OK. Listen, we're focusing on this topic.

DAVIS: I mean this is ridiculous.

BROWN: We're focusing on this topic.

But how much of this has to do with trying to get the judge off of this case, in your view?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, if the judge has the appearance of bias, which it looks like, he does? He donated to Joe Biden's campaign. He should get off this case. And this judge has a history, with President Trump, in prior cases. So maybe that's what President Trump is referring to.

BROWN: This case is now moving into discovery. What kind of fight should we expect to see from the Trump team? Will lawyers try to delay as much as they can, pushing it toward the election?

DAVIS: I don't understand why the lawyers would want to delay this case at all. It's a dog of a case. Even "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" have pretty much laughed at this case.

It's a joke of a legal theory that Alvin Bragg is pursuing. It's clearly a political head. He's colluding with Matthew Colangelo, from the Biden Justice Department, to use--


DAVIS: --legal warfare - lawfare (ph) here to get Trump.

BROWN: And let me just say, too, we should note that one of the Trump's attorneys, Joe Tacopina, he openly says that the judge, in this case, is not biased. That is important to note here.

And what evidence do you have that they are colluding in this conspiracy that this former DOJ employee, under Biden, is colluding, in this conspiracy, against Trump? What evidence do you have? Because I've heard you, in other interviews, bring up that same exact thing.

DAVIS: Well, Matthew Colangelo was the works - he was the number two to the number three in the Biden Justice Department. And then, in December, Alvin Bragg hired him, to go work in the Manhattan D.A.'s office.

Do you think that there were any conversations, or do you think Matthew Colangelo just quit his job in the Biden Justice Department, and went and knocked on Alvin Bragg's door in Manhattan? Clearly, they had discussions.

And I hope that House Judiciary Committee Chairman subpoenas, those records, from the Biden Justice Department, and the communications between Bragg and Colangelo. BROWN: Do you think that this will end up going to trial?

DAVIS: It will probably go to trial, because I don't think Trump's going to get a fair hearing, in New York, when you have the Democrat Party machine, picking these local Manhattan trial judges, and we haven't had a Republican governor, in New York, in 17 years. And so, there's no chance he's going to get a fair appeal. So yes, this is going to go to trial.


DAVIS: And when you have a 95 percent jury pool that hates Donald Trump?

BROWN: What is your evidence for that?

DAVIS: He's not going to get a fair trial. I think--

BROWN: What is your evidence that 95 percent hate Donald Trump? You're throwing a lot of stuff out there, and I just am wondering what exactly you have, specifically, to back up your claims.

DAVIS: So, we know that the - we know that the Manhattan D.A. took was - took a million dollars, in campaign support, from two different PACs, not just one, two different PACs, to support his campaign, so, a million dollars from George Soros. We know that this case was dead.

BROWN: Hold on. It wasn't a million dollars.

DAVIS: It got passed over multiple times.

BROWN: Hold on. George Soros gave a million dollars, to a progressive PAC. That progressive PAC gave half a million dollars, to Alvin Bragg. None of it was earmarked for Bragg. George Soros' rep say that they had never communicated, there was nothing of the sort.

But go ahead.

DAVIS: That's the first one. There's also a second PAC, the New York PAC. That's you're talking - there are two different PACs. So, you should probably take a look at that when you're fact-checking me.

But so you have this Soros-funded D.A. bringing these bogus political charges, and you have a judge, on this case, who donated to Trump's political opponent, Joe Biden. So, you tell me if that looks like a fair process.

BROWN: Then why did Joe Tacopina say that the judge wasn't biased, he wasn't concerned about that? Why did he say that then? Are you saying he was wrong?

DAVIS: Well, I don't know. I'm not Trump's lawyer. I don't have to go stand in front of this judge every day.

[21:15:00] Maybe Joe understands that this judge is not going to move the venue here. He's not going to recuse from the case. He's going to have to live with this judge, who donated to Joe Biden's campaign, so he doesn't want to anger him.

BROWN: All right we're going to respect that (ph).

DAVIS: But for recusal, that's not the standard. The standard is appearance of bias. There is an appearance of bias, when this judge donated to Joe Biden, President Trump's political opponent.

BROWN: But do you think that justifies Trump, to his millions of fervent devout followers, targeting the judge? I know we're kind of circling back, and we do have to end this soon. But I'm just wondering, is that what you're implying that that then justifies Trump, targeting the judge, publicly?

DAVIS: Justify speaking out? You don't think Trump is allowed to speak out publicly about an outrageous--

BROWN: I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that.

DAVIS: So, he can't criticize the--

BROWN: He said, he was "Trump-hating."

DAVIS: Well, I think there's a - I think you have to look at the history, of this judge, with Trump, in prior lawsuits. I understand, wasn't this the judge who sent, President Trump's 75-year old accountant, to Rikers Island? I mean, there's a history here that Trump is referring to.

BROWN: And we should note that Michael Bloomberg, when he was a Republican, first appointed this judge. Later on, a Democratic governor. And we're actually going to speak to a retired judge, later in the show, to talk about all this.

But Mike Davis, really good to have you on, and to hear your points, in this case, in defense of Donald Trump. We appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you.

BROWN: And we're going to break all of this down, with my panel, up next.

Plus, could the failed case, against John Edwards help Trump's defense? The jury foreman, who acquitted Edwards, joins me live.

And all these investigations are set to collide, with the primary season. How this impacts the 2024 race for president? When we return.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a nice feeling to see some justice finally starting to happen. But, at the same time, it kind of feels like it's the beginning of the - or the tip of the iceberg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think this is going to be an incredible moment in American history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think like Trump's going to nail that. His people are really fired up about this, like, "Why has this happened," yes, like they don't see the merit and everything that's going on.


BROWN: And you just heard there, some reaction, to the Manhattan District Attorney's case, against former President Trump.

Legal experts, from both, sides are also divided, on whether the prosecution, prosecution is a risky one, should the D.A. have charged the former President, and does the case have what it needs to make it to trial?

Joining me now, Robert Ray, former counsel for president - former President Trump, in his first impeachment trial; Areva Martin, attorney and CNN Legal Analyst; Astead Herndon, CNN Political Analyst and National Political Reporter for "The New York Times;" and Tom Nichols, Staff Writer for "The Atlantic," and Author of "Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault from Within on Modern Democracy."

All right, all-star panel, right here.

I'm going to start with you, Areva. You just heard the conversation I had, with Mike Davis. He is a legal ally of Donald Trump. And I'm wondering what your take is, after hearing what he had to say, defending the former President?

AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY & LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think he had his facts wrong, on a lot of points. And he made statements that have just been proven to be false. Like, he made the statement that Alvin Bragg is somehow going after Trump, he's, purposely targeting him, rather than acknowledging.


MARTIN: First of all, Alvin Bragg has filed 30 of these kinds of false business records cases, since he's been in office. He's only been in office, about a year.

So, there's no evidence, absolutely no evidence that this is a political prosecution, of Donald Trump, or that he has been targeted. So, that has been what the allies of Donald Trump have said.

BROWN: By the way, I asked him if he had any evidence. And he did not.

MARTIN: And I didn't hear any evidence.

BROWN: He did not, because he--

MARTIN: You kept asking him. He never responded to that question. We keep hearing that time and time again.

There could be disputes about whether this case is the case that's going to finally land Donald Trump in jail or not. But clearly, Alvin Bragg has brought a case that he says, is well-researched, well thought-out, and was methodical. And he presented it to the grand jury, and they came back with this indictment.

Legal experts can disagree about what's going to happen. But there's no doubt that this case is a case that would have been brought, even if someone didn't have the name of Donald Trump. And that's just the reality of the facts that have been presented to date.

BROWN: And as I pointed out, to Mike Davis, Robert, Alvin Bragg said that he had developed new evidence, and that is part of why this case was brought back.

D.A. Bragg says that Trump invited David Pecker, the AMI executive, who was part of that catch-and-kill scheme, to the White House. Trump brought him there, to thank him, for his help, during the campaign. That he pushed his attorney to wait until after the election, regarding the payment to Stormy Daniels, because then it wouldn't matter.

So, he's trying to make the case here, that falsifying these records, are directly tied to election interference, and trying to promote his candidacy. What do you say to that?

ROBERT RAY, COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN THE FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY FOR SDNY: Well, first, I think it was a poor exercise of discretion, which is sort of my bottom line, having thought about this now, for over the course of the past 24 hours or so.

And I say that because it's a rather strained - I think a lot of people have come to a sort of a gathering consensus that it's a rather strained legal theory, on which you're trying to hang your hat, of turning what otherwise are misdemeanors, into felonies.

So, to answer your question about the link to a Campaign Act, or an Election Act violation? It's a rather strange occurrence to charge, if the underlying or the underpinning of this is a state election violation. The one that was specified was conspiracy to prevent or promote the election of a candidate.

All 34 of these counts, however, all talk about records that were entered, on the books, of the Trump Organization, in 2017, after the election. So, it's a span of time, between February of 2017, and approximately nine months later, until December of 2017 that all these entries were made.

It's a little hard to understand, just as a factual matter, how that is promoting or preventing the election of a candidate, with regard to an election that's over. I mean, I guess, I could understand that if you charge it in the context of a conspiracy. But this indictment doesn't charge conspiracy.

It charges 34 substantive counts of books and records violations, in which that what is charged is that it was - is with the intent to commit another offense.


And that other offense, parenthetically, I don't think can be a Federal Election Campaign Act violation, because although it's not been quite tested yet, in this context, there seems to be at least some law, out there, from the second department, which is another jurisdiction, within New York State, other than Manhattan, to the effect that other crime refers to other state crimes, in New York State, not other States of the Union, and certainly not--

BROWN: OK. I actually--

RAY: --federal crimes, which would include the federal government and the Federal Election Campaign Act. So--

BROWN: On that note, let's - I'm just going to stop you right there, because we have limited time.

And I want to get to you, Astead and Tom.

But on that note, let's listen to what Cy Vance said. Of course, Cy Vance was the former D.A., in Manhattan, about this point, about the election interference, which would make this a felony, according to Bragg. Let's listen.


VANCE JR.: It is an area of law that has not been fleshed out in New York. We never did a case, involving where the object crime was an election law violation. And the election law violations are quite specific. They're quite technical.

So, I do think that the first run of the defense will be to attack the legal basis, for the charges, in the hopes that they can knock the felony counts out and leave.


BROWN: And, as you've heard, I'm sure, Areva, there's a lot of analysts, who said, "Look, there's a pretty strong case for the misdemeanor part of this, which has a statute of limitation of two years. But on the felony aspect, this is shaky legal ground."

Do you think that Alvin Bragg has enough evidence, to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a felony was committed, given the untested nature of this?

MARTIN: I have no reason to believe that Alvin Bragg, who's been a prosecutor, for more than 20 years, he said it during his press conference, would bring a case that he did not believe that he could be successful, in getting a conviction on. And he didn't just say that the underlying case, or the secondary crime, I should say, relates to either state or federal campaign election violations. He also talked about New York State laws.

And the indictment just has to put the defendant on notice. He doesn't have to tell his entire case, in that indictment. And people may not like the fact that he didn't lay out his entire case, in the way that they would like for him to do. But that's not what New York law required him to do.

It was an indictment to put Trump on notice. There'll be a discovery. There'll be motions that will be filed, between now and that next December date. And we will learn more about what that secondary crime is.

BROWN: But let me ask you this, because you are right, and Alvin Bragg said that "The law doesn't require me to include it in the indictment."

But do you think there was a public duty, Tom, to include more information, about that additional crime? What do you think?

TOM NICHOLS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC, AUTHOR, "OUR OWN WORST ENEMY: THE ASSAULT FROM WITHIN ON MODERN DEMOCRACY": Well, I'm not a lawyer. So, I will say, as a political matter, I think, given the idea that the law, as I understand, doesn't require him, to stipulate which underlying offense is there.

It seems to me just looking at as a layperson, that you wouldn't want to lay all your cards on the table, ahead of time, and inform your opposition, of what you're actually going to do, before you do it.

I think, what's interesting about this? And this goes back to your conversation, with your first guest. No one's really disputing what happened.


NICHOLS: They're simply saying that, as a technical matter, it can't be prosecuted, in New York, which I find - I think it tells you how far down we've fallen, as a democracy, that the whole argument is not that Trump didn't do any of this.

It's that he - you know, that there might be a shaky prosecution, and that somehow Alvin Bragg is willing to drive off a cliff, after a 20- year career. I mean, it just - it seems like the wrong conversation. The rest of it will be figured out in court.


BROWN: How do you think the voters, across the country, are viewing the merits of this case, Astead?

HERNDON: Yes, from what we have of kind of early snap polling of this, it says that we've seen a lot of Americans say that they find the charges believable, in the factual nature, but also find that it could be politically-motivated.

I think, to Tom's point, there is an understanding of Donald Trump, as someone, who has broken norm, if not law, very publicly, and it seems to have seeped in, in public. But what I think is different here is what Donald Trump is doing is a political-driven defense. There is the legal question of how they're going to fight this, in New York.

But, I was talking to my colleague, our colleague, Maggie Haberman, today. And she was saying that part of the reason he targeted those - the judge, yesterday, was try to put pressure, they think, to make them recuse.

And so, the biggest thing--


HERNDON: --that's going to be able - that Donald Trump is really going to focus on, in between now and the next time he sees in courtroom, is to use the vehicle that is his presidential campaign, to create a kind of court of public opinion, that may find this not maybe - well maybe merited on a factual level, different from the political reality.

BROWN: So, does it seem then like the message you just heard it from Mike Davis, talking about the judge?

HERNDON: Exactly.

BROWN: Talking about Alvin Bragg? That is resonating with--

HERNDON: I don't know if we can say it's resonating. But we can say that that's the ground which this is going to be fought on.

BROWN: Oh, yes. I mean that's--

HERNDON: I mean, and this - and that is clearly what I think we see coming out of the Trump-wing, and I think that's definitely what we're going to see, going forward.

So, it's not - you know, Donald Trump can seem very haphazard, and often very much is. But there are also moments, in which, this is a person, knowing how to use that megaphone.

And from the spectacle that was created, yesterday, I was outside that courtroom, it's not necessarily the same level of energy, we've seen, from Trump, in the past. But every piece of objective evidence tells us that the Republican electorate has gotten closer to him in the last month, not further away.

BROWN: And let's be honest. I mean, going after a judge when you're indicted, like he is, is very different than what he's done in the past, going after judges, right? I mean, this judge could control his future.


TOM NICHOLS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Going after a judge's family.

BROWN: And the family, too.

NICHOLS: If he were that confident and he and his lawyers thought this was all going to get blown out of court in five minutes, I doubt that he and other parts of the right wing media ecosystem because this charges -- they been putting the daughter's face out there. They've been attacking her. That's not the kind of thing you do if you think you're sitting pretty in --


BROWN: And what do you think, Robert?

ROBERT RAY, COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP IN THE FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL: Look, I hear that and it's an important point. Nobody wants to put anybody's -- a public official's family at risk. But on the other hand, having sat in the chair and having been on the receiving end as an independent counsel of incoming flak, so to speak, you know, that's unavoidable.

You know, everybody put their crash helmets on. You know, this is going to get ugly.

And fundamentally, though, the president -- the former president has a point, which is that he -- what he's owed here is fairness. And if he -- if he feels that, you know, threatened by the fact that he's not going to be treated fairly, it's understandable to have a reaction.

I will say finally, I think we're going to rue the day, mark my words, that we are traveling down this road with regard to using the political process -- using the legal process to do damage with regard to one's political opponents. I don't see how this can be perceived any other way.

Whatever you think the merits of that are, we are unavoidably in this case going to be right smack in the election -- in the middle of the election cycle.

BURNETT: So, do you think you should be immune then if you've committed -- say you committed a crime, and then if you run for president, you should be immune from?

RAY: No, it doesn't mean -- it doesn't mean the president is above the law. I do think in the future, some serious consideration is going to have to be given, since presidents and vice presidents are different. They're the only two officials in this country that are elected by all the people.

I think that while the president is serving in office, he cannot be touched. And that's the Department of Justice's, you know, policy with regard to this. Once somebody leaves office, it's fair game.

But this is the unusual situation of leaving office and he's a presidential candidate. I'm suggesting that there may come a time where we have to think seriously about tolling of statute of limitations and wait for the political process to play out before we ever start touching presidential candidates with regard to a prosecution. I think that's a mistake and I don't think it's in the country's best interest.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That is so absurd that we cannot prosecute him while he's in office. Then, once he gets out of office, and he becomes a citizen and we still have to treat him as if he's some kind of king, if -- as if he is somehow immune from the same laws that are applicable to you, and I and everyone else.

And again, thank you, Tom, for mentioning -- no one's talking about the fact that he didn't do this. So even if it's a misdemeanor, we're talking about the president of the United States being indicted for misdemeanors. So, the president should be held to a higher standard, not a lesser standard.

So if we want the president to be somehow immune from prosecution, then the president need not or should not engage in the kind of conduct that would lead to indictment and prosecution.

BROWN: All right. You all stay with us, though, because I know we all want to have -- so much more and we're going to get another opportunity later in the show. But we do have to move on to some other things before we get to that. So, hang on to that thought.

We're going to speak with a former federal judge next on whether a gag order is coming, up next.



BROWN: Just hours after his arrest, former President Trump unleashed on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and claimed to, quote, Trump-hating judge is overseeing the case. That's despite Judge Juan Merchan explicitly warning all sides to not make comments that could potentially incite violence or jeopardize anyone's safety.

Joining me now, former federal Judge Nancy Gertner.

Hi. Thank you so much for coming on.

So given Trump's history in his remarks last night, is this something that should push the judge to issue a gag order? We know he mentioned the first amendment concerns yesterday, but hours later, we heard what Trump said.

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL JUDGE: I think the judge has to take some time to decide whether to put in a gag order. The gag order -- we don't do that very often. You have to show that it's a substantial likelihood that this will impair, you know, undermined the fairness of the trial, and we've seen it in other cases.

You recall Roger Stone round up with a gag order, but the judge kept on warning him and he did the same thing. Then she -- then the judge warned him again and finally entered a gag order. So, the question is what the judge is going to do next. You know, but

he's certainly on a path to a gag order if he continues like this.

BROWN: And Trump and his allies have also made comments, not just about the judge but also the judge's daughter and her work for a firm that worked on the Biden-Harris campaign.

Now, Trump's lawyer has said this doesn't constitute a threat. There shouldn't be a concern about this.

Here's what he said.


JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: President Trump heard the judge. He's not done anything to try to incite violence.

It's not an attack on the judge or certainly his family. No one is suggesting that anything should happen to the judge's family. President Trump's comments did not in any way, shape or form incite violence against the judge or anyone else.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me ask, as a lawyer --


BROWN: Do you agree that there is no concern there, that his comments could have harmed the judge or his family?

GERTNER: I don't agree. I think that this -- that his comments certainly put a target on his family. The most extraordinary thing is showing the daughter's picture.

And when you step back from this, what is he saying, that a daughter worked for a form -- a firm that did work for the -- for Kamala Harris? I mean, if that's a basis for a recusal, judge Clarence Thomas wouldn't be sitting on almost any case involving the Trump White House. So, I mean, I think they -- I don't think that it's a threat yet, but putting her picture on could well turn into that.

BROWN: And you -- and you mentioned Clarence Thomas because his wife is a conservative activist.

All right. Judge Nancy Gertner --



BROWN: -- yeah, right. Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate your insights.

GERTNER: You're welcome. BROWN: Well, this hush money case draws strong parallels to the one that ultimately ended John Edwards' political career. The jury foreman who acquitted Edwards joins us next. Wait until you hear his perspective on this case.



BROWN: A mistress, hush money and a scheme to hide an affair while running for president -- sounds exactly like the case against Donald Trump. But in fact, those are the same circumstances in a case involving former Democratic Senator John Edwards.

The year was 2008. Edwards was running for president when he enlisted a close aide to facilitate the payment of nearly a million dollars to hide his affair from voters. Much like Michael Cohen did with Stormy Daniels. Both cases also involves star witnesses whose credibility is in question.

Cohen, of course, after initially lying about the details, and on the Edwards' side, Andrew Young, who was labeled as inconsistent.

The role of politics, also playing a part in both cases. Trump and Republicans called the D.A., a Democrat, abusing his power. And the Edwards case, Democrats did the same thing against a Bush appointed U.S. attorney.

There are differences, however. We want to note that. The payments of the Edwards' case continued after he quit the race.


Stormy Daniels received a one-time payment before the election.

Edwards' case, a federal one, while Trump is being charged at the state level. Also in the Edwards' case, the money was from rich donors, and in Trump's case, his own pocket. Edwards was ultimately acquitted.

Now, we don't know yet if Trump's case will make it to trial, but prosecutors are intent on putting it before a jury, given the parallels between this case, let's get perspective now from the jury foreman in the Edwards trial, David Recchion.

Thank you so much for joining us.

So, you clearly dealt with similar facts here, right? A hush money payments scheme to benefit a political campaign, so I'm curious. What are your thoughts about the Trump indictment in this case that Alvin Bragg has laid out so far.

DAVID RECCHION, JURY FOREMAN IN THE JOHN EDWARDS TRIAL: Yeah, thank you, Pamela, appreciate the opportunity to chat about this. I think the key difference that I see in this one is that it feels a little bit more political than it did back in the John Edwards' case, and I know there were politics involved. But at the time, it felt -- you didn't feel the same circus kind of feeling as you do today.

BROWN: And tell me a little bit more about that. Why do you think it feels more political? I know that you're talking about the circus. But is it because the D.A. is -- was a Democrat? He was elected. What makes it feel that way to you?

RECCHION: I think that's one of the things. Certainly, the fact that the -- the D.A. kind of came out with one attitude and then went and changed to another attitude. I felt the same way about when -- when this case came on, Michael Cohen had one point of view and then went to another point of view.

I'm not sharing my political feelings here. I'm just saying that the reality is there are so many comparisons of what we saw with the Edwards' case.

BROWN: So what would you need to see? If you were a juror in this case, what would you need to see from prosecutors to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a felony was committed?

RECCHION: I think that's a great question, and I think that's the one that everybody should be focused in on. The first thing I'd want to see is a star witness that has some credibility and that credibility has to be backed up by facts. That's number one.

The second thing I think is necessary is a -- you know, a jury comes in with, we all have emotions, we all have feelings and opinions and biases. And I'm not -- I'm not suggesting that you have to find people that don't have those. But I am suggesting you have to find a group of people that are willing to put those aside so that you can focus in on the facts.

BROWN: Yeah, you have said that the jury in the John Edwards case was united, not unanimous, but united. So, remind viewers again, what made you in the jury decide to acquit John Edwards.

Why wasn't there -- why did you feel like there wasn't enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt he was guilty?

RECCHION: Yeah. Yeah, first of all, it was a hung jury, meaning that we couldn't come -- we couldn't get all 12 of us to agree, with the decision. That was number one, and the second thing I felt like is in -- with our group, we were very -- we were very united in focusing in on the facts.

And we had a phenomenal group of people, a great jury, everybody was focused on the right thing, which was getting the facts, and the case couldn't be built strong enough. And you know, it definitely came down to the credibility of the key witness.

BROWN: And so, in this case, Michael Cohen is the key witness. What do you think?

RECCHION: I'd rather not give too many opinions on this.

BROWN: Okay, that's fair. RECCHION: I like to stay away from the politics of it, but I would I will say that I see a lot of the similarities.

BROWN: You see a lot of similarities.

All right. Well, that is telling David Recchion. Thank you. And I totally respect you not wanting to get into the politics of this. Thank you so much for coming on the show tonight.

RECCHION: Yeah, absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, this historic indictment of former President Trump is taking the 2024 presidential election into uncharted territory. The potential impact on his rivals and his supporters, up next.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This fake case was brought only to interfere with the upcoming 2024 election. And it should be dropped immediately, immediately.


BROWN: Former president and now defendant Trump is aiming to galvanize voters as the legal case against him in the New York collides with his third presidential run. His team has until August 8th to file any motions in the case. The first GOP primary debate is also scheduled for that month.

The next hearing and the hush money case is slated for December 4th. Prosecutors are asking for a January 2024 trial, one month before the Iowa caucuses.

Trump's team, however, is pushing for spring 2024, which would put the trial squarely in the heart of the primary process. If there is going to be a trial.

Back with us now, Astead Herndon and Tom Nichols.

Tom, I know you wanted to make a point in our earlier segments. I'm going to allow you to do that -- but also get your take on how the legal calendar in the political calendar are aligning in this case.

NICHOLS: Well, they're actually related. One of the points I want to make, however, is when Robert Ray says, if you go into a process like this. You have to buckle up and put your helmet on.

That's true. But your children shouldn't have to do that. And that's one of the things that I think -- as Judge Gertner pointed out, you shouldn't have to do that.

But when it comes to the political calendar here, it does go back to the thing we were talking about earlier. While I'm running for president, you can't touch me now -- you know, as though that's some kind of theory of politics.


And it's a -- we're living in a bizarro world where all the other candidates who would be happy to knock Trump out of the primaries aren't touching him.

And, you know, you've got Ron DeSantis basically offering him sanctuary in Florida. It's a very strange situation, in part because Trump just dominates this issue with the -- with the Republican base.

BROWN: But they're not doing -- yeah, exactly. It's about the base, right? They know that it's popular with the base to be on Trump's side when it comes to this issue. Trump, for his part, is saying that he's raised, what, $10 million?


BROWN: This campaign has raised $10 million because of this. Do you see that trend continuing?

HERNDON: I mean, we have to see when those numbers come out? You know, they've inflated numbers before, but it certainly seems as if things have driven toward him. He's really motivating those activists base of the Republican class and really trying to drive that energy. To your point, they have created a whole victimhood narrative around this campaign, that this indictment speaks to -- and we should remember, as we talked about this political calendar, there could be more and there's still more investigations. There could be more indictments in the future, which would allow the him to continue to block out the sun from those other candidates.

The Nikki Haleys of the world, the Ron DeSantises of the world have not shown the willingness to really use this to directly attack Donald Trump because they do not believe there is space to do so among enough of the Republican electorate. Even the folks who aren't supporting Donald Trump but who are remaining Republicans have largely said they still find these charges to be political, and they're seeing it as a reason to reject his candidacy.

I was just at the RNC a couple months ago, and someone told me that the very -- if any, if any plan for victory for Republicans going forward cannot be anti-Trump, that because that is who Republicans are even if they have to change style, even if they have to change policy, they cannot -- there is no future of Republicans that's anti Trump. How that interacts with the legal case now threatens to be really, really unprecedented.

BROWN: That's a -- that's really telling and fascinating, actually.

Astead Herndon, Tom Nichols, thank you both.

Much more on Trump's legal troubles coming up on "CNN TONIGHT". Plus, Alisyn Camerota talks to a Grammy-winning musician, calling on country music stars to help in what he calls America's obsession with guns. Stay tuned for that.


BROWN: Thank you so much for joining tonight's CNN PRIMETIME special on the Trump investigations. I'm Pamela Brown.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota starts right now.