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CNN Live Event/Special

Now, Trump Defense Cross-Examines Michael Cohen; Now, Defense Grilling Cohen About Weeks Leading Up to 2016 Election; Now, Defense Grilling Cohen About Stealing from Trump Org. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 10:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is it not possible that the jurors will do that too? I mean, I know that they won't admit to it, but is it not possible that would happen?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: So, first of all, public service announcement, everyone should do jury duty.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: I've tried. No one has picked me.

GANGEL: I know. It's actually fascinating.

HUNT: I was like this close once.

TAPPER: I reported to jury duty a couple weeks ago and they told me they didn't need me. Didn't we all? Are you accusing us of being scofflaws? We all show up. We all show up.

HUNT: We're all going to get our jury session tomorrow.

No, I just got summoned and then said they didn't want me.

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: In fairness, same thing happens to lawyers. I've shown up and they've said, no, get out.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: But if they scream, they don't want us.

GANGEL: Not in New York anymore. I mean, the chief judge, Judith Kaye, changed all of that and lawyers serve, judges serve.

TAPPER: Two on this jury.

GANGEL: Exactly. Look, I think just to go back to what we said earlier, we don't know what's going to influence a jury. We don't know. These two lawyers may not have undue influence at the end of the day. There may be some big personality on that jury who takes over and is very compelling.

I think there are -- you know, to go back to O.J., I actually think that there were so many things that played into that case from Johnny Cochran being very good and very likable at what he did, to prosecutors -- TAPPER: Not being great,

GANGEL: -- not being so great. There's always the question about Judge Ito and how he handled the whole thing and whether -- but I do think that there are these unknowables. Just one we haven't mentioned yet today, will Donald Trump take the stand? We do not think Donald Trump is going to the stand, right?

TAPPER: I don't know one person who thinks he's going to take the stand. But the defense keeps holding it out there as a possibility, as they're legally required to do. Tim was explaining this earlier. If they don't do that -- well, at the end, the judge is going to say, did you want to testify or not? And Trump will say no, and that will be the end of that. But that was because, in the past, it had happened that people did not testify and then it but wanted to, and it came up, it was grounds for an appeal.

Just to give a quick little update, Blanche brings up October 26th, the day Cohen made the payment to Stormy Daniels' lawyer. He's noting Todd Blanche said, that at the time Michael Cohen was also exploring, getting a different job at something called iPayments.

In any case, you talked multiple times that day, October 26th, with folks associated with Dr. King's statement, this is about trying to get the an endorsement from the family of Martin Luther King. And the fact that she was now going to be supporting President Trump, Blanche asked this, is one of the King children endorsed Donald Trump most of them endorsed Hillary Clinton, I believe.

But in any case, go ahead, I'm sorry.

GANGEL: Just to finish quickly, I'm curious from the lawyers whether, if when, after the prosecution goes back on Michael Cohen and it's the defense's turn, if the defense simply, apart from asking for a motion to dismiss, says, we rest, in other words, sending a message to the jury, hey, we don't think they made their case, and we're not even going to bring a case, we think, is that a tactic? Is that a strategy that sends a message to the jury?

COATES: I think it is in this case, and they could really use that. But also we're looking at -- I mean, just to clarify for people as what we're seeing as to why they might be going into all these different areas that he was talking about.

Remember, this case is hinging on whether it was a falsified business record. We got calls coming in at 8:34 lasting, a minute and 28 seconds. You had other calls coming in, other areas that he's talking about. They're trying to make the case as the prosecution that these are falsified business records and that these were not legal services. And that the wheelhouse of Michael Cohen was specific and unique and intentional.

Now, what the defense is trying to do is unravel that and suggest not only were there a lot of things you were working on, but a lot had to do with things that were not traditionally legal matters as well. And so, if Donald Trump signed the 9 out of the 11 checks that were written and signed by him in a sharpie, then maybe it wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibility that he was signing off on paying you for things that you did, not necessarily what a lawyer would do. And so you're going to see more and more of this come up.

If I can just make one point about O.J., and that is this. I know people call a lot, talk about the, what they thought is political, but remember the jurors are told not to leave their common sense or experience at door of the courthouse. When they walk in and they make their credibility assessments, it is based in part on their experience and interaction with the law. If they don't believe officers, if they don't believe that there is somebody who's credible, if they don't believe that Michael Cohen is credible for whatever their own variety of reasons are, they are entitled to do just that in line with trying to understand and assess the credibility of a witness.

Now, when you come to this, of course, Blanche asking Cohen his recollection of what Trump was up to on October 26th, he has to remember.


This can go into it as well. You remember other nuanced details about things, but when I'm asking you about things that might have to do with the check or otherwise, a little bit of amnesia. That goes into credibility.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is exactly what Donald Trump's team is trying to do right now. They're focused on the last week of October of 2016. So, two weeks before the 2016 election, this is when the Stormy Daniels payment came to fruition.

And it looks like the point that Todd Blanche is trying to make is, you had a million things going on, Michael Cohen. You were trying to secure this endorsement. You were running around doing, handling various matters. Donald Trump was all over the place. He's, in the last two weeks of a presidential election, How can you possibly remember chapter and verse on these conversations?

And on Michael Cohen's direct he was walked through very precisely said on that day at that phone call right there on the records, me and Donald Trump had this specific communication about Stormy Daniels (INAUDIBLE).

TAPPER: So, just to add that, so Blanche asks Michael Cohen, do you remember that morning October 26th that Trump was going to sit down and do an interview with ABC right after 9:00 A.M.? Does it ring a bell, Blanche asks. No sir, Cohen says. That's funny because I remember it. And because it was a highly competitive matter because Donald Trump -- the Access Hollywood tape had dropped a few weeks before and everybody was trying to get an interview with Donald Trump to talk about it.

And I think David Muir from ABC actually went all the way to Trump Tower and set up and then they decided not to do the interview. So, I remember that pretty well. Yes, Dan does too. Blanche tries to use a document to support this, but it was sustained and not allowed. But, again, feeding into the idea like, man, there was a ton going on, how can you possibly have this complete memory of everything that happened?

PARLATORE: So, Jamie, to your question, that's actually my default. It's what we call the cross and close method, where you don't present a defense case. You really emphasize for the jury that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. We've shown that their witnesses can't be relied upon. We have no obligation to put on a case, and we're not going to because they haven't met their burden. So, that is kind of the default position.

HONIG: The other thing -- oh sorry, the other thing I think that they're showing right now, they're trying to show the jury that Michael Cohen's testimony has been prepared and crafted to an inch of his life.

TAPPER: Yes, earlier, just to update people on this earlier, Cohen was asked how many times he'd met with prosecutors, and he said more than a dozen. And Blanche kept pushing, and I think he admitted that it was probably close to 20. And the reporters inside the room said Trump smiled at that at that revelation.

And, again, here we go on this, do you remember that morning Trump was going to sit down and do an interview with ABC right after 9:00? Does it ring a bell? No. You sure? Cohen -- Blanche questions Cohen if he still maintains he only spoke to Trump on the phone October 26 about the Stormy Daniels issue? Cohen says yes, quote, because it was important to me.

Keep going, I'm sorry.

HONIG: Yes. So, on direct examination, when the prosecutor was asking Cohen questions, it was all very precise, right? Remember the Keith Schiller call that became this big moment on Thursday? On direct, it was unambiguous. October 24th, 8:02 P.M., here's the line on the phone records. Yes, that was when I called Keith Schiller and Donald Trump and told Trump, the Stormy Daniels matter is resolved.

Well, when you dig into it, there was a lot of things going on that day. He was actually texting Keith Schiller about a completely different thing with the 14-year-old. And here I think they're trying to make a similar point.

It's all nice and clean for the jury when it's on direct. But now when we get into all the other stuff that was coming around, A, there's questions about whether Cohen's telling the truth, B, there's questions about whether Cohen actually is capable of remembering with the level of precision that he said it was.

TAPPER: And this is a fascinating little subtext that's emerged this morning. Blanche asked Cohen if Tiffany Trump's situation, Tiffany Trump being Donald Trump's second daughter, his daughter with Marla Maples, if her situation, apparently some sort of blackmail situation, was important to him and whether -- or extortion situation, I'm not exactly sure, they haven't gone into it. Tiffany Trump's situation was important to him and whether he'd update her father about it, and Cohen says, no, it wasn't, I guess, important to him.

Because they're talking about would Michael Cohen have talked to Donald Trump on this phone call about any of these other matters, so many of them, according to Todd Blanche, Trump's defense attorney, that Michael Cohen could have possibly mentioned in addition to or instead of the Stormy Daniels situation. Kaitlan?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Jake. And this is an important moment to pay attention to on this October 26 date, because, obviously, they are trying to question Michael Cohen's credibility, to make jurors think that they can't trust what his memory is about what happened then.

But also it's important to remember the story has already seen emails and black and white from Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels' attorney, to Michael Cohen and vice versa on October 26, where Michael Cohen confirmed that the $130,000 was in his bank account and he was going to be wiring it to Keith Davidson.

So, this is not a moment that only relies on Michael Cohen's memory.


It's unclear. We'll see where Todd Blanche is taking this as he is now questioning Michael Cohen about his retainer agreement.

But, Paula Reid, that's kind of been the argument that the prosecution that Michael Cohen's former attorney and now legal adviser, Lanny Davis, has been making that, you know, this isn't all just about Michael Cohen's memory.

Yes, he is a key witness for that. But also they've seen emails. Michael Cohen says my recollection is that I was speaking to him about the Stormy Daniels because that's what I've been working on. Todd Blanche is bringing up other issues that he may have been talking to Trump about on that day.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Todd Blanche is jumping all over the place here, let's be honest.

Now, Blanche is right now asking Cohen whether he's previously talked to Trump about opening his hotel in D.C., talking about all the other things that were going on, on this day. But you wouldn't have talked to him about that, opening of the hotel on that day. Now, Blanche is making sort of a hard left turn talking about the retainer agreement, or lack thereof for Michael Cohen's legal services.

And, look, Landy Davis, the prosecutors, people in and around the prosecution team, they all insist that this case does not rest on the testimony of Michael Cohen. But the fact is he is the most significant witness for the prosecution.

And right now Blanche is walking Cohen through the calculation to reach the $420,000 he was paid in 2017 that Cohen has testified that he worked through with Allen Weisselberg. And, boom, there, that is why Cohen is so important, because the only other person who is party to this alleged conspiracy is Allen Weisselberg. He's not being called to testify. And he's pointing out that you, Michael Cohen, was shorted $100,000 on his bonus that year.

Now, this is all going to lead to an argument that Trump is notoriously cheap, he wouldn't have paid you out of the goodness of his heart, and he was indeed receiving money for legal services.

COLLINS: Well, and Michael Cohen talked about how they got their bonuses, and Todd Blanche is asking him, the $50,000 that you got back from RedFinch, you only paid the RedFinch owner $20,000, right? Yes, sir, Cohen says.

We already knew John Berman that that Michael Cohen bumped that up when he went to get his money back. This is a polling firm that he paid to basically help Trump. And Cohen is testifying he gave the RedFinch $120,000 in cash and a brown paper bag.


COLLINS: But the bonus is the same kind of situation. He said that they would get a Christmas card. It's like very Christmas vacation style and they would open up the card to find out what was there, what was their bonus.

BERMAN: I'm curious as we're going through this now, whether or not Todd Blanche has something he's going to land, a clean punch like he had last week, or, which it seems like where he's headed, when he thinks is he's got this field of mud that he already established by last week, and he's dragging Cohen through it and trying to muddy up everything else that's been established by documents in this case. Cohen saying, I don't recall if it was exactly $20,000.

COLLINS: I mean, what's the point of, of getting him to say that he did pay the RedFinch owner $20,000 in, in cash in a paper bag? To basically say that this stuff wasn't tracked and all above board?

REID: If I recall correct, the reason that Cohen build the way he did for reimbursement is because he didn't want to get hit on taxes, right? If he's out $20,000 and he received $20,000 to the Trump organization, he's also going to be taxed on that. That's part of why he ginned up a lot of this extra money when he was totaling how much he was owed.

And he also was very frustrated about his bonus, right? And so there's likely going to be an argument that Trump was trying to keep him happy. He was ticked off he wasn't going to the White House. He was a legal advisor and he didn't want him to be an issue, to be unhappy.

That's likely where they're going to go. Because what Todd Blanche needs to do, if he ever gets there, is to just establish that there was not a conspiracy to falsify business records and falsely say that these were payments for legal services wWhen it was just to pay him back to cover up hush money. Instead, they're going to try to establish that Trump was retaining him for legal services, even if there was not a formal agreement. And this was the kind of work he was doing. And they're going to keep reminding you how frugal/cheap the defendant is.

COLLINS: And we've already seen the Allen Weisselberg handwriting of these calculations. This wasn't just Michael Cohen in his own head doing this. It's Allen Weisselberg's writing. It's on that document that Jeff McConney, the comptroller of the Trump Organization, testified to.

BERMAN: You're seeing it right now. Look --

COLLINS: As you can see there, plus $50,000, that's what he's talking about right now, to RedFinch for tech services. Obviously, it was only about $20,000 that he paid them. And Cohen says that they wanted the full payment of $50,000, but they accepted the money they received. Cohen says, yes, sir, in response to that.

BERMAN: I just think what they're trying to do here is add confusion to something that is an actual, physical thing. I mean, this is Allen Weisselberg's handwriting with actual numbers, which adds up to the crime that Trump is being charged with here, and if Todd Blanche can money this up, although this is interesting. He says --

COLLINS: He says, question two, you stole from the Trump Organization, asking, noting Cohen was reimbursed $100,000. He's trying to make Cohen look shady in the way that he was being paid back, how much he was being paid back. You didn't just steal the $30,000 because it was grossed up, it was $60,000, Blanche asked. Yes, sir, Cohen says.

Cohen has testified previously. The prosecution knew that this would obviously be a lot of questioning about why it was so much higher. In addition, he basically said he was also just trying to make money off of this.


I mean, he did testify to that.

REID: Yes, he was mad about his bonus. They were looking to make him whole. And if you look at that sort of scribbling on the piece of paper, that is one of the most important pieces of evidence here, but that is not the handwriting of the defendant. And there's no direct link between the defendant and this alleged conspiracy that scribbled down on that piece of paper here. Cohen is as close as we get, and that's why Blanche is going to really go at him on what was written down on that piece of paper.

It's really one of the most significant pieces of evidence. Again, this is an alleged paperwork crime at the heart of it. Arguably, the most important testimony that we've heard so far has been from the Trump Organization accountants, who are the ones who actually cut the checks.

He was asking, did you ever plead guilty to larceny? Blanche asked. No, sir, Cohen said, again, trying to dirty him up. But if you go back to the accountants who actually cut these checks, you know, they received paperwork from Michael Cohen. They cut the checks because he submitted falsified invoices for legal services.

So, here, the defense has to establish that there's no direct evidence, that their client directed this. And if there is any evidence from Cohen, where he has testified that he was part of this conspiracy, they have to undermine his credibility so that the jury doesn't believe it. I mean, this is the ballgame right here.

COLLINS: And they're basically providing another reason of why Michael Cohen got this money. And that's what they're trying to establish for the jury, saying that there were other reasons. And we knew, because Michael Cohen testified, John Berman, about talking to Allen Weisselberg about how upset he was about his bonus, which came around Christmas. That was when they got those checks.

We should note Trump was not paying attention earlier. He is now watching Michael Cohen as Todd Blanche is pressing him on this line of questioning.

This is what we were talking about last week when they were talking about Michael Cohen's conversations with reporters and his other past work was when are they getting to what's actually why the jury is sitting in that juror's box right now and this is that moment.

BERMAN: Well, Tom Blanche flat out saying, you did steal from the Trump Organization based upon the expected reimbursement from RedFinch? Cohen says, yes, sir.

COLLINS: What do you make of Cohen? He's not fighting it. He's not disputing the words that that Todd Blanche is using. He's saying, yes, I did.

BERMAN: I'm confused if Michael Cohen is actually saying he stole from I think what he -- I am curious to see what the next update here is. I do think what Michael Cohen is establishing is, yes, I got more money back than I gave to Redbird for sure right now. And I think what Todd Blanche is effectively doing again is muddying up the numbers that are written down clearly in the page here and trying to create some doubt there, Trump shaking his head at the answer.

COLLINS: Michael Cohen had testified, Paula, that, basically, with part of how he would get paid back was that he would add money on of what he needed. To cover up this $130,000 payment, Todd Blanche says, you lied to Weisselberg about how much you needed for RedFinch, Blanche asked. Correct, Cohen says.

REID: So, I just asked our team inside if the prosecution has any reaction to this, because we saw last week when Blanche got Cohen to admit that he wasn't exactly honest about what happened in that call, that there was some movement at the prosecution table that the prosecutor who had done his direct examination was having a pretty spirited interaction with her colleagues. So, I've asked if there's been any reaction to this. They're saying that no, they are taking though copious notes, likely preparing for their redirect.

But this is significant because they appear to have caught Cohen in another lie. And this would be a lie to the other person who is allegedly part of this conspiracy, Allen Weisselberg, who prosecutors have chosen not to call because they believe that he would not testify, that he would plead the Fifth. The judge has urged him, them to bring him in any way. They have not done that.

So, Blanche, once again, now focusing on the retainer agreement.

BERMAN: What this also does is it puts the onus on Michael Cohen. It was Michael Cohen who arranged this scheme, the repayment scheme. If he's the one fudging, it's Allen Weisselberg, and lying about this and twisting that, it puts more of it on him than either Weisselberg or certainly on Donald Trump.

REID: And so far there is no direct link proved beyond a reasonable doubt to the defendant in this alleged conspiracy. There is a lot of evidence that has been presented. There's testimony from Michael Cohen. There's testimony from others about conversations, but that is the goal of the defense team. And this right here, this line of questioning so far they have established that Cohen may have lied in order to get some of this money.

COLLINS: But the prosecution is going to get up and talk about this. And what Michael Cohen had testified previously was that Trump did not want to pay RedFinch the $50,000 that they were owed because he didn't like where his ranking was. Basically, they were trying to boost it and to juice it, and that's why they were paying for Trump to have a better ranking in this poll that they did the survey. And Michael Cohen previously testified Trump was unhappy with where he landed and refused to pay them. So, it's not like there's zero explanation for this $50,000 that went to them ultimately.

BERMAN: It does sound like in Trump world you had to be very creative if you wanted to get the money you thought you were owed for things.

REID: It sounds like they didn't actually get their $50,000, that he only paid them $20,000, which I don't think we learned prior, or if we did, I certainly missed.


So, that the problem is he only paid them $20,000 and then billed for $50,000.

And at this point it doesn't appear the prosecutors did enough to get out in front of this. This appears to be the first time that he's saying that he lied to Allen Weisselberg about how much he needed for RedFinch.

COLLINS: Yes. And just to bring everyone up to speed, because this is a confusing line of questioning, but it's important. This $50,000 was paid because Michael Cohen says Trump himself wouldn't pay it. Michael Cohen previously testified he himself paid the $50,000. He did not give all of it to RedFinch, but he was reimbursed for it and told Allen Weisselberg that he had given them $50,000, which he just testified that he did not actually give to them.

And so I want to also bring in with former New York Supreme Court Judge Diane Kiesel, who is with us. And, Judge Kiesel, just on this line of questioning right now, as you're hearing about Todd Blanche focusing on this retainer agreement and having Michael Cohen concede on the witness stand that, yes, he did technically steal from the Trump Organization in this reimbursement of what he actually paid and what he told them he had paid, we don't know how it's sitting with the jury, but what's your reaction just listening to that?

DIANE KIESEL, FORMER NEW YORK SUPREME COURT JUDGE: Well, good morning. We don't know how it's sitting with the jury. But, you know, at this point, is there any doubt that Michael Cohen lies? I mean, we're at a point now where it's like, dog bites man, right? We know that Michael Cohen lies.

So, the question for the jury I think is going to be I suspect they'll have a big white board up in the jury room and they will list every time that there is corroboration for one of Michael Cohen's statements and they will either believe that the corroboration takes you to a verdict of guilty or they won't.

There's one thing I wanted to talk about. There's been so much talk here about the Michael Cohen prepping with the district attorney. You know, there is a jury charge about that in which the judge will tell the jury, you've heard testimony about Michael Cohen prepping. There's nothing improper about that as long as he was not instructed to lie.

So, I think that whole line of questioning doesn't work in terms of impact on a jury.

COLLINS: That's a great point, because, you know, they have tried to hammer that home of how much time he did spend with prosecutors. We've heard that from other witnesses as well when they've been questioned of how much time they spent with them.

And the defense, we should note, also has a right to talk to these jurors -- or to these potential witnesses about what they would likely testify about. In some of these instances, we have been told, they did not reach out to ask what they would testify about. But it is important to note they have that ability.

Right now, Michael Cohen is saying yes, talking about a retainer agreement that he had with Allen Weisselberg. And all this goes back to Michael Cohen's credibility with the jury and how they view him, but also what can be backed up by documents and call logs and text messages as well here.

KIESEL: Exactly. I think that is what the jury is going to focus on. There's not one person that's going to walk into that jury room and doubt that Michael Cohen lies. The question is, can they get over those lies to reach to whatever truth they might actually find?

And remember, with, as your lawyers on any of your panels will tell you, when prosecutors make arrangements with certain witnesses who have a lot of baggage, you know, they know these people lie. They know these people have criminal records. You make these deals with the devil when you have to. And, again, I suspect that will come out in summation when the people offer their summation as to why they've relied on Michael Cohen.

COLLINS: Can I get your take on what we heard from Judge Merchan first thing this morning, which is basically a guarantee that there will not be a verdict this week because the closing arguments are not expected to start until next Tuesday. He had told them last week to be prepared tomorrow to start those closing arguments.

What do you -- if there's that kind of a break in time, is there a certain person that could benefit? Is it the prosecution? Is it the defense? Is it kind of a wash?

KIESEL: I think it's kind of a wash. One thing Judge Merchan, I'm sure, didn't want to do is have summations be on Tuesday and then have the jury have almost an entire week to do what with that information. I think you want those summations for both sides to be fresh in the minds of the jurors.

Now, again, they're going to get an instruction that a summation is not evidence but it certainly plants the seed in each in the jury's mind of what each side wants them to focus on. It's kind of almost a useless exercise if it's going to be a week after they hear that before they actually sit down, listen to the judge's instructions and start work.


COLLINS: How soon in advance does the judge have those jury instructions prepared? Does he already know what he's going to say that to them, do you believe, or is it something that he prepares once all the testimony is done and both sides have rested?

KIESEL: You do it as the trial is going on. First of all, there are standard basic instructions about burden of proof, the defendant testifying or not testifying. And, by the way, the judge doesn't say anything about that unless the defense asks for the judge to say something. In other words, if Mr. Trump chooses not to testify, the judge will tell the jury they can't hold that against him if he's asked to do so by the defense.

The bottom line is you start right in the beginning, and as the trial goes on, you refine them right up until the very end.

COLLINS: Yes, an important moment, obviously critical seen by both sides, rare agreement here.

Judge Kiesel, great to have you. Thank you for joining us again this morning.

Jake, obviously we're watching this testimony continue inside the room with Michael Cohen about conversations he had with Allen Weisselberg after they discussed what this repayment schedule would look like for him.

TAPPER: Yes. No, it's fascinating stuff. And I have to say I'm still kind of reeling from the revelation that Michael Cohen stole money from the Trump Organization and that wasn't, at least to my knowledge, that the prosecution didn't get that get that out earlier, because it's not as though the prosecution is going to be helped by further evidence that Michael Cohen is a shady character.

I mean, I'll get to the newest stuff in a second, but like, I mean, what's your reaction to that news, because that was just kind of stunning?

COATES: I'm shocked that we are hearing it for the first time on day three of cross-examination of Michael Cohen, that the prosecution did not take the sting out, did not front it, because it goes to the heart of the actual case. It's not just about establishing him as a liar. They've done that. The prosecution fronted that. We knew that. He has convictions. But go into the heart of what you were telling your employer about what money you were owed and the extent of it, we're talking about $420,000. We've already seen the payment structure here.

TAPPER: Right. This isn't like $15.

COATES: It's not $15. And, I mean, if you go to the tablet, you can break down what was already known. We've known about what the breakdown of the money is, $130,000 to Daniels and her attorney. You've got $50,000 to RedFinch. This is important here. This was mentioned today that he only gave RedFinch $20,000 and he handed them in a brown paper bag, by the way, just thinking about that is.

TAPPER: And just one quick note, RedFinch is this political organization that apparently, according to Michael Cohen, helped them goose these bogus internet polls about which candidate is in the lead, et cetera, and also, according to Lanny Davis, provided adoring fans for Trump's announcement of his candidacy in June 2015, sorry.

COATES: Really important point to add why this is. They only got $20,000 of it.

TAPPER: And even though the bill was for $50,000.

COATES: $50,000. And you have $180,000, which is, again, the double of these two combinations, and then a bonus for Cohen.

Remember all that we have so far to link Donald Trump to these payments in part is the statement that, quote/unquote, he approved it. We also know that we have information about where the checks were, how it was signed. But remember McConney, that was one of the comptrollers of the Trump Organization, taking notes from Allen Weisselberg about the money payment.

So, this is part of what we're talking about. Why this is so important here is because the heart of the matter is that Donald Trump was complicit, caused to have this happen and knew about the money that was going and why. If they can establish Michael Cohen as somebody who is not to be trusted about the amount of money as well, then they might be able to suggest that Donald Trump had no idea what he was truly paying.

TAPPER: Yes. So, one of the things that's going on right now is Todd Blanche is saying, you stole from the Trump Organization based on this expected reimbursement from RedFinch. In other words, he's telling the Trump Organization, I need $50,000 to pay off RedFinch, and he actually only gives RedFinch $20,000. He pockets the other $30,000.

You to cover up this $130,000 payment, you lied to Weisselberg about how much you needed for RedFinch, Blanche asked, correct, Cohen says. Blanche is focused on the retainer agreement. So, the conversation that you had with Mr. Weisselberg about the retainer agreement and the fact that there would not be one all took place in the meeting you had along the meeting with Trump, Blanche asked. Yes, sir, said Cohen. If you would have had one, would you have had one between you and your client, Blanche asked. Correct, says Cohen. Who would that have been, Blanche asked. Mr. Trump, Cohen said.

Blanche is now showing emails to Cohen from Allen Weisselberg on January 31st 2017 with the subject, note and mortgage modification agreement for Trump Park Avenue Condominium. Thank you, Weisselberg, says to him, you never stopped on -- stopped by for a bro hug.


Anyway, please prepare the agreement discussed so we can pay you monthly, Weisselberg writes.