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CNN Live Event/Special

Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial; Cross-Examination of Michael Cohen as He Returns to the Witness Stand; Michael Cohen Cross-Examined by Trump's Attorney. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 16, 2024 - 10:30   ET



BRYAN LANZA, FORMER DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP-PENCE CAMPAIGN: He's always eager to, at that point, to please, you know, then-candidate Trump, CEO Trump. Where Michael does this on his own, all this is going forward, and at the end, you know, goes to the boss and says, hey, look what I did. And the boss is just like, what can we do with this?


LANZA: You know, what are we doing -- why would you do something like this? So, it's -- you know, Michael doing these wire transfers. Doing all of these things, that doesn't sound like something you have -- with me, my experience with Trump, he would authorize. It sounds simply Michael going rogue. Coming back like a dog, you know, bringing a, you know, a pet hamster. Look what I caught hoping to get pet.

And that's how you end up in this situation where, you know, Trump is now sort of caught fixing what appears to be a mess that Michael's gotten him into. And by the way, it's not the first time it's happened either.


LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: But that totally undermined -- I'm sorry, but that does undermine the idea and what you are saying of how the presentation of evidence has come in to date. About Michael Cohen not being able to go fully rogue because you've got a micromanager in Donald Trump, who they put out book quotes as well. Where you talk about Trump think like a billionaire, even before Stormy came on. Talking about signing a check yourself. You're seeing what's really going on inside of your business.

You have the idea of as you put up the amount of money. If the jury is to believe that Michael Cohen is truly rogue about all these things, then it would it really question the ability to then have this amount of money come in. We're talking about $420,000 as it's broken down. That he would have signed this check and he would have said, I'm going to reimburse you nonetheless.

I think the jury has to, almost, stretch credulity to get from the point of this person, Donald Trump, is in control. And yet Michael Cohen, who have they painted as a buffoon really, and all the different witness testimony could have that control. And that's -- poses a problem for Michael -- Donald Trump, excuse me, if he were to testify on the stand. He has two choices, either show he wasn't really in control or that he was complicit. That's a hard pill to swallow.

TAPPER: So, Kaitlan Collins, back to you in New York.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE AND CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. I want to bring in Ron Kuby, who is a criminal defense attorney and is standing outside the courthouse where all of the action is happening inside right now.

And Ron, I know we're looking at the live updates. So, let me get you up to speed on what's happening right now, which is basically Todd Blanche is needling Michael Cohen over every time he has lied under oath previously, whether that was to federal agents in the special counsel's investigation, or even before Congress when he lied about the work that he had done on Trump Tower and Trump Organization work in Russia.

That was something that, you know, the prosecution tried to front that baggage before they were done with him. What -- how does that work with a jury? Because essentially, they are making the argument, if you lied under oath, then why should the jury not believe that you're lying under oath now?

RON KUBY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You could spend a week cataloging the various lies and misdeeds that Michael Cohen engaged in, and you still wouldn't get to the bottom of it. But when we talk about credibility, it's important to distinguish between two types of credibility. Is Michael Cohen a credible person? And I think, you know, in fairness, the answer is no. If he came to you and said, I have a great investment opportunity for you, most people would say I'll pass.

But the more important question is, does he tell a credible story? That is, is the story he's telling, the account he's giving, is it corroborated by other evidence and witnesses? And almost every piece of it has been corroborated. Is it uncontradicted by any other evidence, and so far, although it's not the defense's burden and the defense may never try to contradict it, it remains uncontradicted.

And last, and probably more important, is this story plausible? Did this Michael Cohen guy just drop out of the sky from somewhere. Claiming all of these things or was he a regular, trusted lieutenant and fixer for Donald Trump, you know, who wouldn't go to the bathroom without Trump's permission. And that seems to be the picture that emerges.

So yes, Donald Trump will be happy that Michael Cohen is -- spends all day on the witness stand, admitting his lies. But what does it actually mean in terms of the case? Not very much.

COLLINS: Well, that's a good point, because the question here is not just their strategy of Michael Cohen, but it's also, you know, Todd Blanche is having to do a lot of work today to also please his boss, the client, who is seated right there. And, you know, if the biggest lie that they want to get at, that they claim is a lie, is when Michael Cohen testified that Trump did directly approve of this reimbursement plan. That he knew it wasn't for legal fees or a retainer.

I mean, as Blanche is walking through -- Cohen through past statements that he made to Judge Pauley during an August 2018 hearing, that's regarding his previous guilty pleas. I mean, the one option here for the defense is to have Donald Trump take the stand and testify that Cohen is lying. That would be Donald Trump's word versus Michael Cohen's, but it seems incredibly unlikely that they're going to do that, Ron.


KUBY: And that, in fact, is the problem. You can point out correctly -- and the defense is right to focus on the fact that this one crucial conversation has not been corroborated, it's only Michael Cohen's word. But there was at least one other person who's in that courtroom who was there at that meeting who can contradict Michael Cohen, and that's Donald Trump. But he's as close to a witness stand now as he is ever going to get in this case.

COLLINS: You don't think he'll take the stand?

LANZA: Let me put it like this, the chances of your golden retriever killing you are almost none. But not completely none. OK. That's the likelihood of Donald Trump taking the witness stand.

COLLINS: I'm not going to make a Kristi Noem joke there. But Ron, you know, when you look at this, I mean, I think part of this is also, you know, how the jury hears this and how -- you know, if whether or not they believe Michael Cohen. I mean, have you seen jurors before have someone who was an admitted liar get on the stand and this jury, at the end of the day, still takes their word for what they testified about in that case?

KUBY: In almost every case, the -- either the people of the state of New York and state court or the federal government brings that are important cases, they call the worst people imaginable. Liars and terrorists and murders and people who commit, you know, mass casualty actions. Mafia dons and they all get dressed up. They all are clothed in government redemption. And if their accounts are corroborated, they are, in fact, believed routinely by juries.

And here, Michael Cohen was not offered a deal. He's not like your typical mafia underboss who's given a five-year sentence for 20 murders in exchange for testimony. He's not been given anything from the prosecution, and that really deprives the defense of a line of attack that it usually has.

COLLINS: Ron Kuby, we are watching all this closely. Right now, Cohen is acknowledging when he had pleaded guilty that he was given 48 hours or they were going to file an indictment against his wife, which is -- well, he's long argued part of why he pleaded guilty. Ron, thank you for that. We're continuing to watch this. Cohen is now talking about how he did this to protect his family. And Paula Reid, this is well worn testimony for Michael Cohen. He's very comfortable with this because he's testified this before Congress. He said it in multiple interviews. Talking about, you know, accepting responsibility, but also why he pleaded guilty.

Because to Judge Pauley, which is what Todd Blanche is talking about there, you know, Michael Cohen had kind of made it seem like he had to plead guilty. They had no other option. He's saying, I never denied the underlying facts. I just did not believe that I should have been criminally charged for either of those six offenses. He's kind of trying to walk this path of why he pleaded guilty without saying he was fully guilty.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And I expect that Blanche will also get into more of the substance of what Cohen pleaded guilty to. Because every time we say that he has been convicted for lying, he will always rebut and say, to protect or in the interests of Trump.

But here, where they're also reminding folks that he was also pleading guilty to fraud related to a taxi medallion business arrangement that he had. So, I'm going to expect that's where -- that is where Blanche is going with this.

COLLINS: I mean, this is the trick for the Trump defense team is that Michael Cohen was an attorney. He's comfortable with this test -- in the sense of, this is all out there for him. He -- he's done this before. It's not his first time going through it.

They understand that that's a challenge because he did this so much for when he testified before Congress, Kristen, and Blanche is pushing Cohen on how he views a lie versus something that is not true. This is actually a moment where Todd Blanche tripped him up the other day where he was saying, it's not a lie, it's an inaccuracy. And Todd Blanche said, OK. What's the difference?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he didn't have an answer. The answer was that it's still a lie, and it turns out that it's the same thing, and that's what he just did here too. Here it says, I was just using different terminology, Cohen says.

I mean, that's exactly what happened on Tuesday when he said the same thing. Blanche says, so it was a lie? Correct, Cohen responds. This is literally exactly what we already saw on Tuesday when he said something else. He said, what's the difference between this and a lie? He said, nothing. They're the same, just different words.

So, again, they're trying to trip him up. They're trying to get him to say that he was lying. Cohen is doing everything he can to avoid using the word lie because he knows what they are doing here. But I also think, to your point, they -- Cohen is comfortable here, which is why you saw this, kind of, all over the place questioning from Blanche on Tuesday, trying to trip him up. But now we are at a portion where Blanche does have to walk him through, kind of, chronologically, exactly what was said and what happened.

COLLINS: Well -- and Michael Cohen was so comfortable admitting his lies to the prosecution, which he knew where they were going, Paula. He -- he's much more cautious in this line of answers to Todd Blanche.


REID: Yes, as he should be because he knows that their sole goal, right, is to undercut his credibility. They backed off from, sort of, attacking him relentlessly as a person, like they did on Tuesday. And instead, going back again to his previous statements.

They're also likely going to talk about how he has tried to shift the blame for his crimes to other people, which of course, in this case, they will likely try to tie to the fact that he's trying to shift the blame for his own, like, falsified invoices to Trump. Arguing that he made the actual business records be falsified.

Now, they say, when you met with him and talked about the offense conduct, you blamed others, correct, Blanche said. Yes, sir. So, this is them, likely, trying to line up for the jury that in past cases Cohen has not taken personal responsibility, instead deflecting on others. And they will likely argue that's what he's doing here.

He was the one who paid the hush money. He was the one who falsified the invoices. And he's the one, really the only one, who can prove that Trump made this entire conspiracy to falsify his business records come to life.

COLLINS: And he -- this is a big moment for everyone who has been watching this trial and seeing witness after witness get up. He is the last witness for the prosecution.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: Then the defense will have this case. Obviously, the prosecutors will get a chance to question Michael Cohen again after Todd Blanche is done, which he expects to go till the end of the day. What's the defense's plan for -- I mean, is this going to be their plan or are they calling a witness? What's that going to look like?

REID: So, in speaking with sources in the past 24 hours, right now, the plan has evolved a little. Right now, we only expect them to call one witness, and that is an election expert. And that individual will likely speak very briefly. They're limited in terms of what they can share. A lot of this is likely to preserve issues for appeal.

Alan Garten, a Trump Organization attorney, could be called depending on what Michael Cohen says, but at this point, that's not expected. Some folks have speculated about whether Rob Costello would be called, because he was called before the grand jury in this case. He testified before Congress yesterday, attacking Cohen's credibility. At this point, he is not expected to be called, unless the former president saw his performance on the Hill yesterday and said, we've got to have him. He is not expected.

So, the defense case is going to be extremely brief. And then of course, we have the question about whether the former president will testify. At this point, I think the legal team understands, right? If there is a conviction here, they believe that will be largely be in part because the jury doesn't like their client. And putting them on the stand likely wouldn't help that. But it is ultimately the defense's decision.

COLLINS: I mean, but it is remarkable that the judge just asked on Tuesday about Trump testifying, and Todd Blanche still wouldn't say yes or no.

REID: He can't. It's ultimately up to the defendant. A lot rides on what they get out of Cohen. But it -- that decision, Todd can't prevent him from testifying. It lies with the defendant. I think the general consensus is this is not a good idea, but no one refutes that it's his right.

HOLMES: And he knows, he knows that it's not a good idea. However, even the people that --

COLLINS: Trump knows.

HOLMES: Yes, Trump knows. However, even the people closest to him that I talked to last night were saying, we don't think that he's going to take the stand, but there is always a possibility.

COLLINS: No way he's taking the stand, but everyone's too scared to say --

HOLMES: Right.

COLLINS: -- he's not taking the stand.


TAPPER: Thanks, Kaitlan.

Som right now, what's going on is really interesting because Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a number of charges in his life. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to some tax evasion charges, in part linked to the income he was getting from taxi medallions, which is something you need to have in terms of having an operating taxi cab in New York City. Cohen confirmed on the stand today that he knew before pleading guilty that the Tax Management Associates cooperated with the federal investigators against him.

Now, why this is important is -- and Elie Honig and Laura Coates, will correct me if I'm wrong, I know. Is that he pleaded guilty, and then he has since said under oath elsewhere that he was lying when he pleaded guilty. That was the suggestion. That he was not guilty of those crimes, is what he said.

So, Todd Blanche is basically pointing out that he actually has contradicted himself under oath. Once by pleading guilty to crimes and then separately under oath saying that he was not guilty of those crimes. So, Todd Blanche is saying nobody induced you or threatened you to plead guilty, correct? Michael Cohen says, and we heard this from Lanney Davis two days ago. As I stated previously, I was provided 48 hours within which to accept the plea or the Southern District of New York was going to file an 80-page indictment that included my wife and I elected to protect my family.

Todd Blanche asks again, if Cohen felt induced to plead guilty in 2018? Cohen said, I never denied the underlying facts. I just did not believe that I should have been criminally charged for either of those six offenses. Blanche pushes Cohen again on his view. What's the difference between a lie and something that's not true? I was just using different terminology, Cohen says. So, it was a lie, Blanche says. Correct, Cohen says.

Blanche asks Cohen about his meeting with pretrial services. So, this is a different part of all this back and forth and all this background, which is that Michael Cohen trying to get out from under the thumb of Johnny Law. Wanting to be able to, like, move freely now that he's out of prison and such.


And pretrial services were concerned that he had not actually accepted responsibility for his conduct because he had said under oath elsewhere that he was not guilty of the crimes that he had pleaded guilty to in 2018. When you met with him and talked about the offense conduct, you blamed others, correct? Blanche asks. Yes sir, Cohen says.

Blanche pressing Cohen on saying that he had not committed the tax crime. When you wrote a book called "Revenge", you described the tax charges as bogus. Yes sir, Cohen says. You felt, and I believe you still feel, that you did not engage in tax fraud, but you had to plead guilty to protect your wife and family, Blanche asks. Correct, Cohen says.

Blanche asks, in your book, you said the charges were 100 percent inaccurate. I was referring to the same thing, Cohen says. Blanche references an April 1st TikTok of this year in which he said, "That the federal investigation against you was the most corrupt prosecution in at least the last 100 years," Blanche asks. I said that, yes, Cohen says.

The prosecution is objecting now. Blanche is asking Cohen about a recent interview he did with CNN. Oh, look at that. And he asks to approach the bench.

Elie Honig, as --


TAPPER: -- as this goes on, your take?

HONIG: This is fraught for Michael Cohen for a couple reasons. First of all, this blows up one of Michael Cohen's most favorite narratives, which is I committed crimes for and with Donald Trump. In fact, the tax fraud crime has nothing to do with Donald Trump. Michael Cohen hid $4 million of his income he owed the government and didn't pay over a million dollars.

TAPPER: Why is he still denying that?

HONIG: So, this -- that's -- I think, if I had to get in his head, it's because he loves the narrative that he only committed crimes for Donald Trump. But here he is committing crimes that have nothing to do with Donald Trump. And that is how he has painted himself into this corner. Because when he testified in the civil fraud case earlier this year, 2024 --

TAPPER: Right, this is the New York Attorney General Letitia James case --


TAPPER: -- against Donald Trump for inflating his assets and under -- and hiding his liabilities, and he was fined something like half a billion dollars.

HONIG: Exactly, in front of Judge Engoron.


HONIG: Michael Cohen took the stand and said, when I pled guilty to tax fraud and bank fraud -- which I assume they're getting too next, in federal court back in 2018, I was lying. I was pressured by the government, by the prosecutors. I didn't actually commit those offenses.

And then after that, Michael Cohen asked a federal judge to let him off of his supervisory lease, which is basically federal probation early. And that judge, a guy named Jesse Furman, Barack Obama appointee, said, no way. Either you lied when you pled guilty, or you lied when you said you were lying you pled guilty. This is how things go with Michael Cohen.

So, he's painted himself into this corner where he absolutely has lied in court, at a trial, under oath, which is a question.

COATES: So, here's why this --


HONIG: I think that's right.

BASH: OK. Got it.

COATES: Well, here's why it's important for the defense though.

TAPPER: And to Congress.

HONIG: That too.

COATES: I mean, the defense wants this because the prosecution has been trying to paint him as somebody who is a changed person. That you should give him credit for having -- taken accountability for what he's done, which obviously elevates him beyond just the run of the mill liar.

TAPPER: Let me just interrupt for a second. So, Blanche is continuing his cross-examination. He said, you say, you want the truth to come out. That the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were corrupt, Blanche asked. Correct, Michael Cohen says.

So, he -- you talked about painting himself into a corner --


TAPPER: Now, he's saying not only is Donald Trump and the entire Trump ensemble corrupt, but highly respected Southern District of New York prosecutors are corrupt as well.

Have you provided any materials to anybody that the charges against you were not appropriate? Todd Blanche asks. And there's an objection to that from the prosecution, which is sustained. Why would that be sustained?

COATES: Well, one of the -- first of all, one of the reasons why they want to make sure that they're taking him down a peg in front of the jury, to be someone who doesn't take accountability is because jurors do not like when people try to point the finger at other people.

If I'm going to give you some credit for being someone who's taking accountability, I'm willing to do it fulsomely. He's confirming that Cohen has called the federal judge at different points in time and that -- and in trying to attack it.

But here's another explanation though. If he is painting the prosecutors as something that is corrupt, and the average person is seeing the conflation to the narrative Donald Trump has raised in the past, this actually could inure also to the benefit of the prosecution, who's already tried to distance themselves as someone giving them -- giving him a pass.

Now, and part of what this is all happening about is thinking about the ways in which we're trying to go after him. I'll give you a quick update on this, because Cohen is now explaining why he did not feel he should have been charged even as a first-time tax evader. His voice apparently is getting more animated as he begins to speak.

So, his pace is quickening. This is called a trigger. And of course, this was the goal of the defense to be able to, in some form or fashion, go after the very thing he doesn't want to have to do, which is to change. Cohen's confirming that he called the STNY prosecutors at one point in time, giving them some effing animals as well and the judge in that case.

[10:50:00] Again, the defense has been trying to say, Michael Cohen is doing a heck of a job at impersonating a decent person. I'm getting ready to show you who he really is and why is that important? Because I don't want you to view him as anything besides a person who has invested in taking Donald Trump down.

Now, Blanche is asking the question, you testified under oath at a different trial that you did not commit the crimes --

BASH: Commit the crimes.

COATES: -- that you pled guilty to before Judge Pauley, correct? He says, correct. But now they're starting to get to the idea of the civil fraud trial. All this is part of a tactic.


COATES: To try to suggest you cannot believe anything he says. He's even lying to you about his demeanor today.

TAPPER: And we should just also note, Judge Pauley who sentenced him in 2018, I believe, right? He was supervising the court.

HONIG: Passed away in 2021.

TAPPER: He passed away in 2021.


TAPPER: And he was widely respected.

HONIG: Judge Pauley --

TAPPER: Nobody outside of Michael Cohen's immediate circle of family and friends thinks that Judge Pauley was a corrupt judge.

HONIG: Just real quick. The notion that Judge Pauley would have been working with the Southern District to go after Michael Cohen is preposterous in every respect. And this -- Michael Cohen, he's talked about this publicly. This is where he loses it. He goes off the rails. He -- the fact that he pled guilty to tax and bank fraud makes him so angry. He can't hide it in his public appearances. He's pretty calm and casual about the other stuff. But this sets him off.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, you can -- and you can really tell that if his pace is quickening under this and he's -- anyone, right, who's defensive about something. Whether it's in a legal setting or a personal relationship that you can tell when they are very defensive about something.

And clearly Cohen is here. And I think it goes to what we were talking about when we were first starting out here, which is this idea that if Cohen is a changed man because of Donald Trump, then he can be believed now. And here he is basically saying that no, I still believe all of these things that, about myself, to your point, that were really crimes he committed separately entirely from Donald Trump. And that does seem to undermine what's going on.

TAPPER: And to Elie's point, I mean, the idea that Michael Cohen's story and the story of his defenders is where once he was lost, now he's found, where he was, he was in the, in the throes of Donald Trump and did a lot of bad things for Donald Trump. And then his family said, stop doing this. And now he's an honorable person.

That is the narrative, and all of this undermines that narrative, because it is him still refusing to accept responsibility. Calling a judge corrupt in a courtroom. And I can't imagine that that's going to go over well with the jury.

COATES: Well, also, the jury is might be thinking when they do deliberate, is this what's happening? Is someone railroading the defendant in this case as well? I mean, you -- they're trying to also plant the seed using Michael Cohen as a proxy to suggest that people are trying to ensure that this particular circle of people, as they have likely heard prior to even being empaneled as jurors, remember their common sense, can't let the door (ph) ignore, nor can their collective memories of what's been being said. They might be planting the seeds and having it grow.

Now, a jury is supposed to follow what they're hearing is evidence in this. And again, this is why there was so much effort to have pre- corroboration of Michael Cohen.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And I think a point like we know so much about Michael Cohen. The history of Michael Cohen, you can almost recite by song and verse these. the things. The jury doesn't know that. They're hearing this for the first time

There's a lot coming at the jury if I'm still wearing that fake jury hat that you mentioned earlier There's a lot coming at the jury here. And it's not about the specific case here. So, I still think we do not know how they're reacting to all of this. But the judge, what he called -- I mean, to me, it's just a barrage of things. How he's acting through this and what he says on redirect also, I think, is just as important.

TAPPER: I will get you a real jury hat for your birthday. I will give you a --

ZELENY: I don't think they wear hats.

COATES: His birthday coming up, actually.

TAPPER: No, but I will get -- is that right?


ZELENY: I served on a jury for three weeks, I did not wear a hat during my term of service.

TAPPER: But I will get you a special jury hat because -- so that you can put it on and be a juror -- ZELENY: Like a dunce hat?

HOLT: We all have them. I mean, it's --

TAPPER: You're from Nebraska. You're salt of the Earth. I want to know your thoughts on things.

Adam Kaufmann joins us here in New York. He's a former executive assistant district attorney for the Manhattan DA's office. Adam, thanks for joining us. So, how successful has the defense been in its cross-examination with knocking down, not only what Michael Cohen said in direct, but also just completely undermining any semblance of the idea that this is anybody with a moral compass.

ADAM KAUFMANN, FORMER EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Good morning. I wrote down what someone just said, he's a lying liar who lied about lying. Love that quote.

TAPPER: That was Dana Bash. Footnote Dana Bash.

KAUFMANN: Footnote Dana Bash. Well said, Dana. I love it. You know, this is -- the defense is doing a great job of making Cohen appear defensive. And as much as contradicting the substance of his testimony, they're really undermining how he comes across to the jury, it sounds like, from what is being reported.

And what -- and I think, you know, you focused on exactly the right place. He's saying everyone in the world, everyone in this system was corrupt, except me. The judge, the prosecutors, it was all out to get me. And that's not going to fly with the jury.


Making him come across as defensive, this really undermines the, I lied before. I was bad before. But now I'm -- I fessed up to everything I've done. I've owned it.


KAUFMANN: This is really taking away from that.

TAPPER: So, in the courtroom right now, Cohen turned to the jury. And tried to explain why he should not have been charged. I took the global plea that was provided to me, Cohen says. Blanche interjects, cuts him off. Please don't make a speech, he says.

Now, many of the lies that the defense is asking Cohen about were lies Cohen said he did he told to protect Donald Trump or to protect his family. Can a jury factor that in? Will a jury factor that in? OK. He did that plea to protect his wife. He did those other lies back when he was with Trump. Is there a -- will they compartmentalize that possibly?

KAUFMANN: They might. I mean, and that's what -- will be the job on redirect when Sue Hoffinger gets back up and tries to take him through some of this to try to clarify that. It sounds like the way it's coming across right now, he's just sort of hopelessly trapped in his own web of lies of lying about lying. And that's probably very effective with the jury that the prosecution will have a chance on redirect to try to go back and try to clarify.

And as you say, sort of, compartmentalize and try to put sort of brackets around different points in time and what was being said, but it sounds like this is a very effective cross-examination. Especially if, as reported, he's getting excited. His voice is rising. He's speaking faster. Juries take note of that.

TAPPER: So, Blanche just asked Cohen, you also answered a question, do you recall, that the reason why you lied was because the stakes affected you personally? Yes, Cohen said. What would you do -- if you were the prosecutor, what would you bring forward on cross -- on redirect?

But hold on one second, I just want to bring this in. Todd Blanche has said, when you said that last October, was that true, that the reason he lied was because the stakes affected him personally? Cohen said, yes. Blanche says, there's no doubt that you know what perjury means. I know what perjury means, Cohen says.

If you were doing the redirect from the prosecution to try to cobble together whatever is left of Michael Cohen's credibility for purposes of this case, how would you do that?

KAUFMANN: So, I think you need to go back and focus on specifically the discreet point in time when he appeared in court and pled guilty. Try to elevate the fact that he was doing it to protect his wife, that that will resonate. I think with the jury, I mean, people -- I think people will understand that when you're faced with that situation, you might well plead guilty.

That strikes me as being a more noble aspect than this, sort of, mishmash of everyone was corrupted out to get me. So, you want to elevate that aspect of it and hope that you can just make that the focus and not all of this other stuff.

TAPPER: In 2019, Michael Cohen testified before Congress. Todd Blanche is right now turning to that congressional testimony and saying, did you tell Congress, either the House or the Senate that you had lied to Judge Pauley? That's the judge in front of whom Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to those tax fraud charges. I did not, Cohen says.

So, I guess what's going on here is, again, maybe from a lie of omission. But before Congress, perhaps, Michael Cohen was accepting responsibility and today he's not. Let me just ask you, Adam. With this as a star witness, would you have brought this case?

KAUFMANN: Probably not.

TAPPER: All right. Adam, thank you so much.

KAUFMANN: I mean -- TAPPER: Go ahead. Go ahead. Elaborate. Go ahead.

KAUFMANN: No, just -- you know, if you're going to come on the stand and take ownership and say, I did this. I did this. But I'm different now. You have to do that. And the fact that he's not doing that, I don't know if this came out in prep, but it's pretty disastrous to his credibility. It does not play well at all.

TAPPER: Adam, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

Back to Kaitlan Collins in New York.

COLLINS: Thanks, Jake. And right now, Todd Blanche is continuing to press Michael Cohen on his lies and what he's now saying about those lies. Blanche is saying, quote, "By not telling Congress or the Senate that you had lied under oath. Do you believe that you are omitting important information?"

Paula Reid and Kristen Holmes back here with me. And Paula, this is really important because Todd Blanche seems to be gaining steam here --

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: -- in his cross-examination. The judge just overruled an objection from the prosecution to that question there. And this is exactly the line of questioning that we need.