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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: Michael Cohen Testifies About Turning On Trump; Biden Announces New Tariffs On Chinese Goods As Trump Sits On Trial In New York. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 14, 2024 - 12:30   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Who is the prosecutor direct examining Michael Cohen, asking Cohen about being sent back to prison after he was not happy with the terms of his monitoring. So they're going through methodically all of this. For many people, Anna, they may have thought they're going to have to address the bias that he doesn't like Trump. Remember Necheles at one point in cross examination said, we'll get this straight. You hate Donald Trump. That's not the full story here, going through the why, the iterations, the change in his standing with Trump. It's part of the story they're trying to weave.

ANNA COMINSKY, DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE CLINIC AT NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL: Yes. I mean, what struck me is the order in which the prosecution has decided to deal with Cohen's story. And that's really important. You know, one of the things that we do as trial lawyers is we don't just think about, you know, what witnesses are we going to call? What evidence do we want to introduce?

But what Once we decide that there's a witness we want to call, we have to think about how do we want that witness to tell their story in a way that's going to be most believable, most credible to the jury, and you've been talking about it all morning. Cohen has a lot of issues, right? He's got a lot of credibility issues.

And I think what's really interesting is they decided to tell this chronologically.

COATES: And, Anna, excuse me, we're also hearing right now -- excuse me. Anna, we're also hearing for a second, just talking about the idea of what the jury is hearing. They're hearing Michael Cohen was sent back to solitary confinement. Now, this might be a very important moment in terms of not just trying to humanize, but in particular, to get across to the jury what his experience was in prison, what his experience was in jail. And also he's explaining that in addition to talking to the special counsel's office, he talked to also the local prosecutors, the DA's office for the first time while he was still incarcerated.

The jury is hearing, remember that the DA's office that is actually bringing in the case, albeit a different head of that office now in Alvin Bragg, no longer Cy Vance. How might that be playing? Oh, also, excuse me, he also has been before the grand jury in this case, and the jury is hearing that he also got immunity. Excuse me. Go ahead. COMINSKY: Right, I mean, it's interesting to me because I will also say, you know, as we think about how's the jury perceiving this. I am also wondering why some of this is actually relevant. Relevant to him, relevant to his credibility. I mean, you have to wonder why does it matter for this case having to do with falsifying business records that he went to solitary confinement. Obviously, it's understandable all of the things, right?

His guilty plea, his sentence, those are all relevant to his credibility. But it's interesting some of the facts that the prosecutor's bringing out. And based on what we're hearing, I'm of course not there right now to see. But appears to be that there's not any objections to some of this. So it's interesting to me how the defense has decided to let some of this story come out.

That's really been interesting to me as well. And when you talk about the jury's perception, one thing that I think has been really interesting about the defense's approach to Cohen's testimony so far is they have had very few objections. And I think the idea there is to show the jury, there is nothing about this guy that we are looking to hide from you. We want you to hear everything he has to say because all of it is incredible, it's not believable. And we'll have our chance, but you can go ahead and listen to his story right now.

COATES: Adam, I want to bring you back in here because there's some activity. First of all, there has been some series of objections that were raised. We're at a bit of a disadvantage in terms of the extent to which but they are -- some of them were -- had been sustained or overruled by the judge. There's a conversation happening right now as we are conversing, Adam,where he's talking about how he first met with the D.A.'s office. He wanted a letter sent that he had been cooperative, that to give him some advantage in being able to be released, or the terms of his conditions changed.

The D.A.'s office said that they would provide a letter of cooperation, provided that the SDNY, the federal prosecutors, agreed to as much. They chose not to. Again, in New York, Testifying in front of the grand jury does confer automatic immunity, but he does say that Cohen said that seeking a letter did not impact him telling the truth to the DA's office or during his testimony to the grand jury. The jury is hearing all of this right now. What do you think is the motivation for the prosecution to bring all of this up?

Is it to try to suggest that they were not simply going to do anything and everything to curry favor with Michael Cohen?

ADAM KAUFMANN, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASST. MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Sure. There's a few reasons why they need to do that. One is, you know, on the one hand, prosecutors we've talked about bring up all the negative about the bad things about someone. But they also want to bring out any benefit that they conferred or discussed conferring to the defendant. So, you know, they don't want it to come out on cross examination that they were willing to send this letter to help out Cohen.

[12:35:02] Then it looks like they're hiding it. So they're trying to bring that out now. Anything where they might have offered him a benefit, anything they did for him, they want to have come out on direct -- during the direct examination.

COATES: But they're also, Adam, bring -- by bringing that back to the SDNY, it does open the door a little bit here because you've certainly heard the political narrative at play that, look, there is no reason to have brought this case that's been the criticism against the, you know, the D.A. Alvin Bragg that elevating it from a misdemeanor to a felony, the idea that the SDNY team did not want to do this. And are they trying in some ways to open a door strategically for the defense to be able to go through?

KAUFMANN: I don't think they would do that. I mean, I think the political aspects of the case --


KAUFMANN: -- which, you know, hang over everything that we're talking about here, but they really don't have a place in the evidence in, in the application of the law to the facts. I wouldn't think that they're trying to open a door for the defense. To me, you know, bringing up the SDNY thing, I think, let's them demonstrate that while they were willing to make a record of Cohen's cooperation, they also were deferring to the prosecutors who had already prosecuted him. So I think to me it more distances them from Cohen a bit and puts him a little more at arm's length from the DA's office. So they weren't willing to just do anything that he wanted, that there was some analysis to it as well and some distance.

COATES: An important point. Anna, let me ask you, I mean, we're talking about now in the courtroom about the seizure of Cohen's phones, the return of them. What did he do to turn them back on? Did he get a new phone and beyond? Cohen says that he used one of his older cell phones that had been seized by the FBI in order to record a conversation with the Bureau of Prisons. Hoffinger asks, at any time, would you alter or modify the audio recording of your conversation with Mr. Trump?

To which Cohen says, no, ma'am. We are revisiting a topic that took place yesterday and one, of course, that Trump's defense team has been very clear that they want to try to create the impression that he altered that conversation, that it had been cut off mid-sentence. And the why, yesterday, you recall, Anna, that Michael Cohen offered an explanation, an incoming call had come in. Hoffinger gave, at that point in time, some corroborative details about a call being incoming and being registered on the call records. The fact that we're revisiting this part of it, what does that tell you about the concerns the prosecution may have about how the credibility of himself is actually perceived?

COMINSKY: Yes, I mean, it's clear that they're concerned about this and most likely what happened was they went back last night, you know, after the conclusion of yesterday's testimony, they reviewed it. They sat as a group and talked about everything that happened and everything that they needed to accomplish. Today, most likely with the thought in their mind that, you know, the longest we may be able to stretch this out will be through Tuesday afternoon, you know, if we're able to go that far, so this may be our final chance to sort of get through and think through all the issues. And they're clearly concerned they want to make sure that they're airtight with respect to that conversation, that reported conversation, and making it clear to the jurors that it was in no way altered.

And as we know, a lot of this hinges on Cohen's testimony itself, his words itself, so while they have the chance, they want to have him say, he didn't do anything to this recording. This is how it was when he recorded it.

COATES: Thank you to both of you for being on and being good sports about the interruptions. I appreciate it. I'll go back to my panel here.

Paula, and of course, Kristen are here. Now, Cohen is talking about that he is not disputing the fact that he's talking about these charges, but that he doesn't think he should have been charged with the crimes themselves. So, look, how is this going to play when you think about it, Paula, if he is here, so called owning up to it, addressing the obvious elephants of his charges in the room, but also talking about whether he should have been charged at all, that might undermine the willingness of the jurors to say, OK, I think this is a likable, i.e., relatable, informative narrator.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it sounds like he's refusing to accept responsibility, which is I think what they're hoping to button up by saying, look, he pleaded guilty. He did his time, it was hard, parts of it were in solitary confinement. Now they're bringing up -- again, they're only bringing this up to get out ahead of defense attorneys who will surely bring this and every other skeleton in his closet out for the jury to see. He sounds again, like he is recanting the responsibility that he took for these alleged crimes. It comes across maybe a little bitter, not the best look before the jury, but certainly better to have Susan Hoffinger bring it up as opposed to Todd Blanche.


COATES: And of course, interestingly enough, this is exactly the narrative that Trump is speaking about, right? That he does not think he should be charged at all in this case.


COATES: Donald Trump.

HOLMES: Right. Yes, he does not think he should be charged at all in this case, that there was no wrongdoing. He says that all the legal experts have said that is no case, that there is no case.

COATES: Which is inaccurate, right. All --

HOLMES: And our legal experts are on air. We have (inaudible). But I do think that it's interesting that that's how he would choose to answer this question at a time where clearly the prosecution is trying to prove a point and get out there ahead of something that the defense is going to bring.

I mean, just remember, as we have said all day and continue to say, this is the defense's witness as well. And Hoffinger here, we see began asking Cohen about his testimony in the New York attorney general civil fraud trial, Blanche objected and now the attorneys are side barring, trying to bring up that civil fraud trial, which was charged by -- recently in order to pay an enormous fine. Obviously, Trump's lawyers do not want him to do that.

Speaking of Trump's lawyers, there was one thing I just wanted to point out, which was kind of interesting. You started on it with Alina Habba sending a note to one lawyer who sent it to another sent to another. Alina Habba is not a lawyer in this case. She's just there as a guest. She is there as somebody who Donald Trump likes, thinks that she's aggressive, he likes the way that she talks. That is interesting that she is somehow participating in the legal defense here passing notes around.

COATES: But yet she was on the case now sidebar about.

HOLMES: Right?

REID: Yes, exactly. And I'm guessing that's where this is going because Cohen and her is a pretty testy exchanges during the course of that case.

COATES: Remind us.

REID: They got into a bit of what I would describe as a yelling match while he was on the stand. Now, Alina Habba's approach to all of the criminal cases this year -- excuse me, civil cases where she has represented Trump have been a complete contrast to Todd Blanche. Trump right now is actually talking to one of his other defense attorneys while they're sidebarring.

I'll note that at the beginning of the trial, he said he wanted to go to all the sidebars. He wanted to go to all the meetings with the lawyers and the judge. So far, he has not. He has not done that at all.

COATES: And remember, the sidebars, there's a husher on, the jury's not hearing any of this.

REID: You have no idea what they talk about unless they come back and reveal it to you. So we also have a little bit of a lapse in terms of the updates we're getting from our colleagues inside the court right now.

COATES: And by the way, when the attorneys are at the sidebar, a lot of times you're positioning yourself towards the jury to make sure that it's known that you're getting an advantage. You want to almost frame your face and have this conveyed that no matter what's being said, you're winning to give the impression to the jury that, you know, even if you lose at that sidebar, that that's what you want it to happen. They're all about posturing.

REID: So the objection here from the defense counsel has been withdrawn, and it does appear the prosecutors want to get into what happened when he was on the stand and he was being cross examined by Alina Habba. How that got testy. Why that got testy. Now, some folks on our air have said they are confident that Michael Cohen is just going to do so well here because he has testified before Congress. He's been through a lot.

But I point to what happened in the civil case is a reminder that he can be easily agitated and easily undone by a certain type of question on the stand. Again, Todd Blanche, the lead attorney here, and Alina Habba, two very different characters, but the fact is, this is going to be a brutal cross examination. So they're trying to get out ahead of as many things as they possibly can. But I'm interested to see what prosecutors do with this testy exchange.

COATES: Quickly though, what was so triggering for them?

REID: I'll be honest with you. I don't remember the exact question.

COATES: But the top of the line of question --

REID: And it was Alina Habba's approach throughout that trial.


REID: I mean, she was combative with the judge as was her client. There were continued outbursts. I mean, she was very much --

HOLMES: Remarks the cameras every single every single time she came out.

REID: Every single day, yes.

HOLMES: Really aggressive, calling it political.

REID: The attorney general also had remarks at the camera. It was a very contentious, unusual approach to a case by her and her client. And I will notice that the defendant and his current lawyers are taking a very different approach. But this cross examination of Michael Cohen could really get under his skin.

COATES: And of course, Jake, we did see earlier that Donald Trump himself had passed a note to Todd Blanche, who is going to be the one, we think, to do the cross examination of Michael Cohen, to which Todd Blanche took the note and began to nod furiously, apparently noting that he had acknowledged it and might actually follow the instruction, whatever was said.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Laura, Cohen is being asked to explain why he said in that trial that he lied when he pleaded guilty. That is the Donald Trump trial, the attorney general Letitia James prosecuted Donald Trump for falsifying business records and inflating his assets and downplaying his liabilities. He was fined hundreds of millions of dollars. Michael Cohen testified in that case. He apparently said that he lied when he pleaded guilty.

What I was saying is I was going to take responsibility because the underlying fact I never disputed, Cohen says. But let's talk about his testimony in that trial because as Paula just noted, Elie Honig, Lanny Davis when he was here was talking about how he can do this, he can be cross examined, he went through it with this other trial, not to mention his other testimony before Congress but there -- it was tense. Tell us exactly what happened between Trump attorney Alina Habba and Michael Cohen in that earlier case.


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So the overarching question here is, has Michael Cohen really come clean? Is he really now a full truth teller? Now, if we go back to the New York civil fraud case, Judge Engoron, this is earlier this year. Michael Cohen got on the stand and he was being asked about his guilty pleas when he pled guilty in federal court to campaign finance, tax fraud, bank fraud, and lying to Congress. And Michael Cohen said, in that case, he said, I lied when I pled guilty.

I wasn't actually guilty of bank fraud and tax fraud. And that led to a heated exchange between him and Alina Habba. There was also a heated exchange about whether Donald Trump had ever specifically told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress because at some points Michael said, well, he told me to, at other points Michael say, well, he didn't tell me to, but he let me know in his usual sort of mob boss like way.

TAPPER: And he's also talking right now about what Lanny Davis said to us earlier --


TAPPER: -- which was that I was, quote, "I was given 48 hours to accept their plea offer. Or they were going to file an 80 page indictment that included my wife. And I was going to protect my wife," Cohen said. We heard Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen's attorney -- former attorney talk about this. And so this is one of the issues here.

He basically is saying he's trying to have his cake and eat it too.


TAPPER: He pleaded guilty, but he didn't really mean it. He mainly did it because of his wife.

HONIG: Right. And --

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Is there anything wrong with pleading guilty to something you're not --


HUNT: -- guilty?

HONIG: You're under oath. HUNT: OK.

HONIG: And you're lying to a federal judge. In fact, just a month ago, Michael asked a different federal judge to let him out of supervised release, which is basically probation in the federal system early. And that judge, Jesse Furman, said, no, because either you lied When you plead guilty or you lied a couple of months ago under oath in the civil court, it gets mind numbing.

Let me just -- one quick thing, one quick thing.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: When you plead guilty, it's not just, I did -- I committed the crime. It's, do you understand every single right where you're relinquishing? Do you understand that you -- did you commit this offense and you're under oath the whole time? It is not just a yes or no question.

WILLIAM J. BRENNAN, FORMER TRUMP PAYROLL CORP. ATTORNEY: And you know, there's a provision, and he's a lawyer, he would know this, it's rarely used, but it's called the Alford plea. And it comes from a case around 1970 where Alford was given a Hobson's choice. He didn't commit the crimes, but he was facing crazy time in jail so they crafted this plea where they accepted the plea, but it was like plea light. He didn't ask for an Alford plea. He pled guilty.

HONIG: Let me read you what the judge said in that civil fraud case. This is Judge Engoron's written ruling, and this is actually sort of a perfect encapsulation of Michael Cohen. The judge found that Michael Cohen's testimony was quote, "Significantly compromise prior to his prior convictions, by his guilty pleas." And that there were, quote, "seeming contradictions in what he, Michael Cohen, said at trial." However, Judge Engoron ultimately concluded, quote, "Michael Cohen told the truth." I'm not quite sure how you reconcile any contradiction to tell the truth.

TAPPER: So Susan Hoffinger clarifies, this is the prosecuting attorney, that when Michael Cohen said he lied to the federal judge when he pleaded guilty, he was not saying he falsely pleaded guilty to the campaign finance crimes tied to Trump. He's basically suggesting he pleaded guilty falsely to other crimes having to do with taxes or the like. Inside the court, Alina Habba, who is the attorney for Trump, who did this tough interrogation of him during cross examination in that previous Trump business fraud trial is shaking her head.

HUNT: Is there --

TAPPER: Michael Cohen says he had to sell his property except for his primary residence and one secondary apartment. He says he was forced to sell his taxi medallions because a felon is not allowed to own them in New York or Chicago. Now he says about his work, predominantly it's media and entertainment.

HUNT: I'm just kind of wondering, is there a world in which a jury that is obviously not part of the legal system if they are throwing at you something where they say, OK, we're going to let you off with this sentence that we're going to agree to, or you can take the risk and say, no, I didn't do these things. I guess I could just see how, like, a person who felt under incredible pressure could see a plea deal that was presented and --

TAPPER: It happens.

HUNT: -- take the quick way out. And this happen all the time.

TAPPER: Literally every day over and over and over where police put and prosecutors put people in a position where it's like if you can plead guilty to this, even though you insist you didn't do it and do two months in prison or we can take you to trial and you risk having 10 years in prison, literally happens every day.

HUNT: And yet you're putting these people in a position if they didn't do it that they're lying when they plead guilty. I mean, that just seems like a very tough --

TAPPER: Our system encourages people to take the plea.

WILLIAMS: Jake Tapper just described what is colloquially called the trial penalty. You actually pay a penalty of sorts. It's a casual way of putting it by going to trial because you get a much, much higher sentence than the few months that you would --

TAPPER: Yes. And it is -- and they are punitive.

WILLIAMS: It's an incentive.

TAPPER: You make us go to trial. We're going to increase the charges and really take it out on you if Donald --

BRENNAN: Jake, this guys wants it both ways.


HUNT: It looks like the jury might be willing to cut us some slack on this.

BRENNAN: He wants it both ways. He's saying, I was forced to sell my medallions and my property. Forced by what? Forced by his own actions. It's like killing your parents and complaining that you're an orphan. I mean, he can't have it both ways.


BRENNAN: He's either guilty or he's not.

TAPPER: Yes. By the way, I'm not defending Michael Cohen when I talk about that Hobson's choice.


TAPPER: But that does happen all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with you. WILLIAMS: But it's an incentive, yes.

TAPPER: So Michael Cohen --

HUNT: (Inaudible) to me. Yes.

TAPPER: Michael Cohen is now explaining his podcast, Mea Culpa. He says he frequently discusses Trump on the podcast, which he describes as being about news of the day. He wrote two books. His first is "Disloyal," which is a memoir, he says. I wrote that while I was in prison.

While you're in prison, time management is very important. It helps the time go by quicker. His second book is "Revenge." He says it's about the weaponization of the Justice Department against a critic of the president.

So moments ago we have a telling split screen in this wild election year, Donald Trump inside this Manhattan courtroom, President Biden busy doing the business of being president and not on trial. Let's get right to CNN's Arlette Saenz, who is at the White House.

Arlette, we just saw President Biden delivering remarks on his jobs agenda, talking about American investment. Tell us more.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, President Biden just moments ago announced that his administration would be imposing about 18 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports over the next two years. It comes as President Biden is trying to show that he has taken a tough in stance toward China at a time when former President Donald Trump and Republicans have really tried to use that as a campaign wedge against him.

It also comes as you know, that the president -- former President Trump is spending today in the New York City courtrooms, creating another split screen as President Biden and his advisors are hoping to take advantage of some of this time to present these split screens where Biden is out of the campaign trail, out introducing measures that they believe will be key and important to American voters.

And he talks a little bit about why American voters should care about these new tariffs that they're imposing against China. Take a listen to what he had to say.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're American workers and American business corporations can compete and win in the industries of the future, because that's what this is about. The fact is, American workers are -- can outwork and outcompete anyone, as long as the competition is fair. But for too long, it hasn't been fair. For years, the Chinese government has poured state money into Chinese companies across a whole range of industries, steel and aluminum, semiconductors, electric vehicles, solar panels, the industries of the future, and even critical health equipment like gloves and masks. China heavily subsidized all these products, pushing Chinese companies to produce far more than the rest of the world can absorb, and then dumping the excess products onto the market at unfairly low prices, driving other manufacturers around the world out of business.


SAENZ: So President Biden trying to stress that his focus is on boosting American manufacturing and industries like clean energy and semiconductors. Now I will note that these new tariffs are coming after the administration had done a review of some Trump era tariffs when former President Trump had enacted about 300 billion dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports during his administration. So far, the Biden administration largely has kept a lot of those in place, even as Biden had criticized some of them back in 2020.

But the ultimate hope with announcements like this is that this could potentially play with working class voters in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan, states that would be key for Biden or Trump as they both pursue the presidency in November.

TAPPER: All right. Arlette Saenz, thanks so much. So that's President Biden announcing he's raising tariffs on an array of Chinese imports which include batteries and semiconductors, solar cells, electric vehicles, very interesting stuff.

And Kasie Hunt, we should note --

HUNT: Yes.

TAPPER: -- there are obviously huge differences between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. I would say that one place that they overlap a lot has to do with tariffs on China. And yes, there are disagreements there, I'm not saying it's the exact same policy, but there are a lot of overlaps.

HUNT: No, I mean, there's some ways in which this set of tariffs is a little bit Trumpian, actually. Biden seems to be a little bit less. I mean, you can sort of sense the emotion with Trump with some of it. I mean, going after French wines in particular and some of the ways, like, he used them in this very sort of specific way.

But look, China is definitely a key issue in the presidential campaign, and it's going to be an issue in Senate and congressional campaigns as well. It's a place where Republicans feel like they often have some of the higher ground, and I think you can see the Biden administration trying to take some of that here. The reality is Chinese electric vehicles are a major issue for the American auto industry as they try to shift because they are so inexpensive. I mean, they sell a version of this car that is at the heart of this for 10, 000, which is not what EVs cost here. And of course, the cost of EVs is a primary roadblock to adoption of the technology here.


TAPPER: All right. Let's go back to the trial because it's obviously still going on. What has been going on in the last few minutes? Michael Cohen talked about how in February 2021, he invited Stormy Daniels on his podcast, Mea Culpa, and he apologized to her. It was the first time they'd ever spoken.

The jury has shown a post on Donald Trump's social media site, Truth Social, from March 15th, 2023, in which Trump references a convicted liar and felon. Cohen says this is the time of his testimony before the grand jury in that case in the business fraud case. Susan Hoffinger, the prosecutor, asks Michael Cohen if there came a time when he became aware Trump had been posting negative comments about him on Truth Social. Cohen says, I was. He says it in a whisper then he clears his throat, says again, I was.

Cohen confirms that Trump brought a lawsuit against him, against Michael Cohen, for half a billion dollars. He eventually dropped it, as is not uncommon for Mr. Trump's more frivolous lawsuits. Cohen is asked if he regrets his past association with Trump. Michael Cohen said, I regret doing things for him that I should not have, lying, bullying people in order to effectuate a goal.

I don't regret working with the Trump Organization, as I expressed before, some very interesting, great times. But to keep the loyalty and to do the things that he had asked me to do, I violated my moral compass and I suffered the penalty, as has my family. Susan Hoffinger says she has no further questions.

So, they're going to break for lunch right now, the court, and the cross examination will begin. Todd Blanche, we believe, is going to do that. That is Trump's -- one of Trump's attorneys in this case. That cross examination will begin after lunch.

And let me ask the three lawyers on our panel. If you were Todd Blanche, how would you start your cross examination of Michael Cohen after lunch?

WILLIAMS: There's so many ways to start a question.

TAPPER: I know, that's why I'm asking you to pick one.

WILLIAMS: I mean, you know, that's the thing. I mean, I think, you go through every single thing he admitted to over the course of this time and methodically walk through them one by one.

TAPPER: All the lies you mean?

WILLIAMS: All the lies. And you should -- and confront him with them directly. And I think it will not take much to get under the witness's skin and really just try to get a rise out of him and make the jury not like him.

TAPPER: Well, the very idea that he says that this violated his moral compass suggests that he believes he has a moral compass. And that means that he can be offended.

HONIG: Yes, so the first thing I would do is list off everyone he's lied to. You lied to Congress, didn't you? Yes, I did. You lied to the IRS, you lied to your bank, you lied to your personal banker, you lied to your wife, you lied to the FEC, right, I mean you can keep on going and I would list 20 different people, you lied to the media, you lied to Stormy Daniels, you lied to Keith Davidson, you lied to David Pecker, you lied, I mean, you lied to Donald Trump.

HUNT: I mean (inaudible) lie, too.

HONIG: Right. I mean all the prosecution's witnesses, I would just do as many of those as I could take off, probably a dozen or two dozen. The other thing -- and by the way, I think by and large this was a very strong and effective direct examination for prosecutors. It should be, it's your star witness.

One thing that I think they may wish they had done a little more is front Michael Cohen's personal hatred. Let's just call it what it is, hatred for Donald Trump. They referenced Michael Cohen's books and podcasts, but look, leave it to the defense to go through all the gory specifics. But I would have asked him. You know, isn't it a fact that you dislike Donald Trump right now, and Michael Cohen probably would have said, yes, I hate the guy now.

But let the jury hear it on the prosecution's case, because then it'll hit less hard when the defense takes over.

BRENNAN: It's coming now.

HONIG: Yes, it is.

BRENNAN: The problem, Jake, is his moral compass doesn't tend to true north. It's a shaky kind of fluid type thing. This guy -- I think Elliot and Elie make great points on how to attack him. But I think with this guy, if it was me, it would be the old Mike Tyson. Everybody's got a plan to like get punched in the face. I think you just go out there and whack him with the worst thing you can come up with and kind of jolt him and then spend the next day and a half or two days just methodically going through all the lies and the lies upon lies.

I mean, unlike Mr. Dean (ph), who we spoke about earlier, he had some exposure criminally, never played guilty to perjury, never lied that we know of. And it was limited to his role in the White House. That's how Cohen's trying to sell it here. This guy is in the Hall of Fame for liars. If there was an Olympics of liars, he'd be on the top of the stand with a gold medal.

TAPPER: So as I think you noted, John Henry Wigmore once said, the cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of the truth. Are you the one that quoted that?

BRENNAN: I do like that quote. Yes.

TAPPER: Yes. If not, I'm sure it's a needle pointed on your pillow. But I think that there is the idea that cross examination, whether you're the prosecution or the defense is where the tough questions come. This is -- you know, this is what we do for a living, the reporters on this panel, it's where the tough questions come where you get to the truth. And so this has been the more friendly version of Michael Cohen's truth, and now we're going to have the less friendly version. JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question. The first thing we're going to wonder is, can they rattle him? He has been through trial prep. He has been through murder boarding. They've already gone through what they expect to happen on cross.

The jury will notice if his tone and demeanor change.

TAPPER: Yes, very quickly.

HUNT: Yes, well, and even Lenny Davis acknowledged that when he sat behind him in that congressional testimony, what he was worried about was that Cohen was going to get mad. That says a lot.

TAPPER: He was worried that he was going to get angry, lose his temper and then lose the confidence of the jury.

Special live coverage of Donald Trump's hush money cover up trial continues right now. Thanks for watching. I'll see you back here in three hours.