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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump Defense Team Makes Closing Arguments. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2024 - 11:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Again, I'm just theorizing here.

I don't have any -- any proof of it, but just knowing Donald Trump and the way that he wants people to be out there defending him on television or, in this case, in the courtroom.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It's -- it's a reasonable theory.

There's also the reasonable theory that Todd Blanche is a much more experienced prosecutor than he is a defense attorney, right?


TAPPER: Isn't that his record?

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: I mean, this is the first big defense case he's had in his career, right?

HONIG: Yes, Todd -- I was colleagues of both Todd Blanche and Alvin Bragg for a long time at the Southern District of New York.

Todd became the chief of the Violent Crimes and Gangs Unit. So he's given a lot of jury addresses, but, A, in sort of simpler cases. I mean, murders are horrible, but they're simpler than this, and robbery cases.

And, yes, giving a defense closing is a different art than a prosecution closing.

TAPPER: But, again, I mean, it seems, in addition to the fact that I think the arguments he's making right now are inaccurate, and also inaccurate to the point that a jury would say, well, that's not true -- I mean, obviously, "The National Enquirer" influences elections.

And I'm sure the prosecution, if he's worth anything, will remind people that they actually unearthed one of the biggest scandals in the history of presidential politics, the John Edwards scandal.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: But he will remember that. I mean, does -- I know -- I don't want to cut you off, Jake, but...

TAPPER: The prosecution will...

COATES: The prosecution could...

TAPPER: Could introduce evidence in.

COATES: I mean, could, but I think that what Todd Blanche is doing is trying to put this all in the umbrella of, this is just the way things are done.

And I think that people oftentimes...

TAPPER: No, no, but he's -- but he's making the argument -- he's making arguments that are just not true.

COATES: No, I...

TAPPER: There's -- "The National Enquirer" doesn't influence elections. You -- "The National Enquirer," it's only 350,000 people read it. So how could you think that they're actually trying to influence anything?

It's -- there -- obviously, I mean, I don't have to go -- we already went into the details as to why that's wrong. It's not true.

COATES: I don't think that the average juror, when they think about the publications that are going to influence the election, "National Enquirer" does not top the list.

And so I think what he's trying to suggest and play on this is to suggest that, look, this is the way that things operate. This is how rich people handle their money. This is how big organizations or mom and poppy handle their money. This is how everyone behind the scenes is doing these elections.

Everyone's doing catch-and-kills. Everyone's doing X, Y, and Z. I think he's trying to capitalize on a level of -- I don't mean this in a pejorative way -- ignorance to the -- to most people who are in the voting public who have no idea what...


TAPPER: As to how -- right, as to how the media works.

So -- so, Cohen -- what Todd Blanche brought up in terms of excerpts of Michael Cohen's testimony -- and we don't have the excerpts with us right this second, so I can't stand by whether or not these are contradictory, but Cohen, according to Blanche, testified on direct that he told Trump about these false allegations by a doorman that "The National Enquirer" purchased to keep them away.

And it's about Trump having a kid outside his marriage, not true allegations. He said, Cohen testified on direct he told Trump about the doorman's allegations because he wanted to get credit with Trump. On cross-examination, according to Todd Blanche. Cohen said he didn't tell Trump all the details. But this is being used. Todd Blanche is saying: "Again, on direct, he

says one thing. On cross, he says another. He's not telling the truth. He's lying."

The slide is showing four instances where Cohen admitted he would report his work on things like the doorman's story to try to get credit from Trump. Blanche says, this is consistent with Hope Hicks' testimony. Cohen often sought credit.

Todd Blanche says that Cohen used the phrase credit repeatedly and says to the jury: "That's the same phrase that Hope Hicks used in describing Mr. Cohen. She described Mr. Cohen as being somebody who always wanted credit. Mr. Cohen admitted to you that he was following this trial before he testified. Just think about that for a minute."

Moving on to the Karen McDougal deal now, that's the Playmate -- Playmate of the year 2018 -- no, I'm sorry, 1998 -- that Donald Trump -- that alleged that she had a long-term affair with Donald Trump.

Moving on to the Karen McDougal deal, "This is not a catch-and-kill either," Blanche says. Ms. McDougal did not want to publish her story. She wanted to jump-start her career."

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't know what planet he's on at this point.

As far as I remember, David Pecker was an excellent witness and said...

TAPPER: For the prosecution or for the defense?


GANGEL: For the prosecution...


GANGEL: A, because he was not hostile to Donald Trump. He said he was his mentor. He said he wanted to help the campaign, that he would be their eyes and ears.

Pecker gave prosecutors exactly -- he directly connected the catch- and-kill schemes -- I'm just going back from my notes from his testimony -- to Trump's 2016 campaign and also rebutted the defense's notion that Trump was concerned about his family, not politics.

So I assume the prosecutors will come back and remind people about what David Pecker said. But, on the surface, this doesn't even make sense to me.

BASH: This one -- this, I don't get it all. Blanche says McDougal not wanting her story published is important because the government is alleging a conspiracy to influence the election.

TAPPER: Because Karen McDougal didn't want her story published?

I -- again, I don't even know why he's bringing...

BASH: The relevance.



TAPPER: ... he's bringing all this stuff up.

Todd Blanche: "The second of the three alleged catch-and-kill stories didn't want to influence the election at all. She didn't want her story published."

But, again, Karen -- correct me if I'm wrong -- the issue, the reason that the other two stories, the other two catch-and-kill stories were brought up was to establish a pattern that this is what the Trump campaign did, or Trump, the individual, did, Michael Cohen did, not that every single one of them was part of a grand conspiracy.

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, exactly. And the thing that I don't understand is there is a strong defense summation that they could be making. And they're...

TAPPER: They -- I thought they were making it at one point.

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: And it just -- it's just shocking to me that we're talking about things that really make no sense and don't help them in any way.

They should be spending all their time saying, essentially, look, if there was some kind of crime, Trump had nothing to do with it. He didn't know about it. He was busy. He was busy campaigning. Campaigns have a lot going on. Then he was president. He wasn't focused on those details at this moment in time. He wasn't focused on his business. He was focusing on becoming president, and show all the ways that he wasn't involved and bring it down to Michael Cohen.

It's all about Michael Cohen. Yes, there's corroboration that there are phone calls and there were text messages, but the subject of those phone calls, the subject of those meetings, you rely on Michael Cohen's word. And Michael Cohen's a liar.

And I think Elie made a really good point at the magic board this morning when he said, look, it's not just that Michael Cohen has one conviction for lying. Michael Cohen has lied over and over and over again into the Federal Election Commission.

TAPPER: Under oath.



FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: To Congress, he lied.

TAPPER: Maybe even to this jury. FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: He lied to a judge, a federal judge, and he said

-- and so I would just focus on the fact that -- all the times he lied, that he lied to his wife when he said -- he didn't tell his wife that he was doing a home equity line of credit on his home here.

KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST: The money from his own house.

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: From his own house, right.


COATES: He lied to Trump when he stole his money.

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: And he lied to Trump when he stole his money.

I would spend -- if I was Todd Blanche, I would spend an hour on Michael Cohen's lies.

TAPPER: But the other thing that's weird about this whole line of argument here when they're -- he's going through all the catch-and- kill stories, Blanche says: "It was not Ms. McDougal's intention to publish her story. The reason why this matters is that there was never any risk that her allegations would influence the election because she didn't want her story published."

But that's also not true. There was a risk that her story would come out. She was definitely reluctant to have it come out, but there was a wooing of her. Remember, wasn't ABC trying to get her to tell her story?

I don't know if this is 2016 or later. I think it's before the election.

HUNT: It was before the election.

TAPPER: Yes, and they were trying to get her, and they -- it was like they were offering potential...

HUNT: "Dancing With the Stars."

TAPPER: "Dancing With the Stars" appearance. So there was a risk of it.

She wanted to jump-start her career and she was reluctant to have this be the way. But that doesn't mean that it wasn't going to happen. So, again, he's -- these are facts not in evidence, to use a phrase...


HUNT: Right. And -- well, and the other aspect of this was she was supposed to have a column, no, at "The Nat" -- and it never actually...


TAPPER: Yes, in like "Fitness" magazine or something, right? HUNT: Right, that was part of this deal, because your point is, yes,

Karen McDougal was trying to jump-start her career.

And there seemed to be two avenues. One is where she tells the story about Donald Trump and she gains notoriety that way, or she does this, she gets paid for it, and she has other opportunities in addition to that.

But I just keep going back to...

TAPPER: Why are they reminding the jury that Karen McDougal exists?


BASH: I don't get it.

COATES: We're focusing on the -- we're focusing collectively on the jury in the courtroom. I think that this is also intended to focus on one thing that Trump cares about a lot, which is, in the court of public opinion...

BASH: Exactly.

COATES: ... he does not want the -- he talked about he will lose women voters. Remember that? "Women will hate me."


COATES: Think about that phrase. Think about every time he's had different press conferences and briefings around this time. He was really focused and fixated on these stories being out there.

Now, here's the issue. Every time Todd Blanche makes this about sexual encounters, you are going farther away.

BASH: You're reminded of it.

COATES: You're reminded of it. You're going farther away from what is actually charged here.

It does not matter if any sex occurred. All that matters is that there was a statement that was going to be released that could have influenced and impacted the election in some way and that a campaign contribution would have been made to try to undermine the ability to see that as reversible -- reimbursable income.

And so he talks about -- Todd Blanche saying, it's evidence of anything as it pertains to President Trump's guilt. Well, finally, we're here now on the area you should be.

But every time Todd Blanche -- we said it at least three times now. Every time Todd Blanche has to say, this -- this matters because, this is important because, you know he is signaling that what he's saying is irrelevant to this jury.

If I have to remind the jury about what -- why I'm saying is important, I have lost my jury. And this is about 34 counts of falsified business records. To Karen's point, it has to be much more streamlined. It has to be about specifically what the burden of proof was and what was not met.


Every time there's a conversation about whether there is an actual sexual encounter, that's not the trial, that never was the trial, and it remains not the trial.

TAPPER: So, just to reiterate what Todd Blanche is saying here, Todd Blanche is saying: "Nothing about the Karen McDougal situation was illegal. None of that was criminal," Blanche said, which I think nobody would argue with.

He's moving on now to the deal that AMI and David Pecker had with the prosecution, a non-prosecution agreement, in return for his testimony, saying that: "It's evidence of nothing as it pertains to President Trump's guilt."

"If it shows you anything," Todd Blanche says, "it's just more evidence that Michael Cohen is a liar. He told you time and time again about things that he claimed happened, conversations he claimed he had around this agreement that are just not true."

Blanche says that Cohen lied about conversations with Trump related to the McDougal deal.

And this -- Karen and Elie, I'm sure you would agree, this is stronger terrain for him, Todd Blanche, because this is about the credibility of the number one witness.


And there are more direct ways to make this argument about Michael Cohen too. I'm not even exactly following that Karen McDougal -- he said one thing about Karen McDougal. He said another thing. I mean, how about all the things that we just listed off? The guy has lied to essentially every governmental body, every human being, every bank he's ever come in contact with.

That's a much more direct way to make the case. If I was giving this closing, two words you would not hear -- have heard out of my mouth would be McDougal and doorman. I might not even have mentioned Stormy Daniels, in fact, come to think of it, because the point is just the falsification.

This scheme here is the whole financial construct that they set up. And there's a real problem, I think, tying Donald Trump to that.

TAPPER: So, just to bring you back into the courtroom for a second, Blanche is now saying, Todd Blanche, the defense attorney for Donald Trump, is saying that Michael Cohen lied about conversations he had with President Trump related to the deal buying the silence of Karen McDougal. Blanche highlights David Pecker's testimony -- That's the CEO of this

tabloid empire -- that Trump told him: "I don't buy stories, but Cohen said Trump told him -- and Cohen saying Trump told him: 'No problem, I will take care of it.' Which one is true?'" Blanche asks.

"You know that the Trump Organization, President Trump, Michael Cohen, never paid Mr. Pecker a penny for the McDougal stories. There's no dispute about it." Blanche is alleging that Cohen made up his testimony about a lunch with Pecker in September 2016, when Cohen said Pecker told him: I need to get this money back.

Yes, so I don't -- again, I don't understand. This is proving a point he doesn't need to make. And what my understanding is, at least according to the testimony, and it's almost irrelevant to the case, is that David Pecker paid Karen McDougal $150,000 for this deal where she would write a column, and somebody else would write it, for "Fitness" magazine or something like that.

She never actually did it. She did get paid the $150,000. We had testimony that, actually, Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, when they were at the White House, were asked if this deal should continue to pay Karen McDougal. Again, nothing's illegal about it.

And -- but the idea that they're now acting as though this is all made up...

BASH: Well...

TAPPER: ... we know that David Pecker was upset and just like said, I'm never going to get my money back, and that's the end of that.

BASH: The more Blanche continues with this line of questioning, the more, it seems to me, that the theory that I posited earlier is more likely, which is, you all are rightly focused on the 12 people that matter, the jurors.

The defendant is focused on them, but also extremely focused on the court of public opinion and voters.

TAPPER: Anyway, Todd Blanche is now suggesting that, even if David Pecker just forgot about this lunch with Cohen, which Cohen recalls happening, but apparently top Blanche is saying it never happened, he argues there's no other proof this lunch happened, such as a credit card receipt -- Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.

Back here with Kaitlan Collins and Paula Reid. We're continuing to monitor.

I mean, this line of closing argument, it's surprising.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's not good. He started off strong, as we expected, that he would focus on the crimes that have been alleged here, which are the falsifying business records, right? Lay them out, the distance between those records and your client. This

is something he does have to touch on -- on right now. Now, apparently, he is turning now to the recording Michael Cohen made of Trump that he said proves that Pecker would be paid back.

Now, when it comes to the length of time he has spent on this argument that this was not done to help Trump in the 2016 election, this could prove in hindsight to be a mistake. He stayed way too long at the fair here, arguing things that just are not going to be believed by the jury.

Now, some jurors are intently watching Blanche. Others are glancing down at monitors where the testimony and the documents are being displayed.

COOPER: Now, what he's talking about is a recording that Michael Cohen secretly made of Donald Trump, the man he was working for. So, ethically, that is...


REID: Dodgy.

COOPER: ... completely sleazy.

And Michael Cohen's testimony was that he made that in order to play it for David Pecker, so that David Pecker would be assured that he was going to get paid back, because David Pecker was concerned he wasn't going to get paid back.

That argument makes very little sense to me.

REID: Yes, very little sense. It does not speak well for Michael Cohen's credibility, surreptitiously recording a client without their permission. And then the reasoning -- yes.

COOPER: And then he's going to play it for his client's friend, who theoretically could then just tell Donald Trump, by the way, do you know your attorney just secretly recorded you?

It doesn't make any sense to me.

REID: It's definitely not playing the long game there, Mr. Cohen.

But Mr. Blanche again spent, it appears, too much time trying to argue that this was not part of a conspiracy to influence the election. He has to touch on that because that's why it's charged as a felony. But this is not something that anyone would believe, even if there is a couple hundred thousand people who were -- a couple hundred thousand people subscribed to "The National Enquirer."

Negative stories about Trump's opponents at that time were amplified through Twitter. I remember it well, Russian bots helping to boost him at every turn. I mean, any negative story about his opponents or positive story about him absolutely could have had an impact on the election. COOPER: Blanche played a few seconds of the recording in which Rhona

Graff was mentioned. Blanche says that no questions were asked of Graff, who's an assistant, a longtime assistant to Donald Trump, related to the recording.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Well, and Rhona Graff obviously testified. She was one of the first witnesses there, maybe the second, I believe, after -- after David Pecker.

And this is why this is important, because what Todd Blanche is overall doing here is he's not weaving this tale and telling the jury their basically counternarrative to what the prosecution has laid out. They are just simply trying to chip away at different facets of the prosecution's argument.

He's trying to create some doubt in the jurors' mind by saying, well, why didn't the prosecution ask Rhona Graff about that recording, the preposterous idea that Michael Cohen was recording it so he could play it back to David Pecker?

One thing he did just bring up that I'm sure caught the prosecution's ear was he said, well, David Pecker was never paid back for the Karen McDougal payment, that he was -- he never got that money back.

David Pecker testified he went to great lengths to try to get that money back, and he became so frustrated that, in the end, he just dropped it. And that's why he refused to go on and pay for the Stormy Daniels story when that moment surfaced again after the "Access Hollywood" story.

And so I'm sure that that's the benefit of the prosecution going second. That's why Trump did not want them to be the final word that the jury heard, because they can take moments like that and explain why Rhona Graff was not asked about this or remind them of what David Pecker testified.

But he's not trying to say, here's what actually happened. He's just saying, this is wrong about the prosecution's argument, this is wrong, this is wrong as well. And he's focusing on Cohen telling Trump that it was all the stuff on the call. It's not clear which call that's in reference to. Obviously, there were many between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen at this time.

REID: It's -- it's...

COOPER: We actually have an excerpt from that recording. Let's play that.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY/FIXER FOR DONALD TRUMP: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing, which will be...


TRUMP: (INAUDIBLE) Pay with cash.

COHEN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I got it.

TRUMP: Check.


COOPER: By the way, Blanche now references the concern about buying the documents that David Pecker supposedly had on Trump.

"It was extremely important at the time to buy that box of stuff. There's no discussion of Karen McDougal," Blanche says.

It's unclear to me why he's going down the road of Karen McDougal history.

REID: Yes, unclear. Exactly. He could have touched on this, because he could refute the conspiracy, and then move on.


COOPER: ... talking about buying the stuff. "Listen to the government claims. On the transcript, there's a word President Trump says, 150. Listen to the recording. Listen to the recording. See if you hear 150 or see if you have no idea what you're hearing at all," Blanche says.

REID: He's so far in the weeds, it's even hard to follow the argument that he's making. But he does need to move on from this, because Karen McDougal, we didn't hear from her during this trial. Her hush money payment is not an issue.

Yes, he's trying to refute that there was a larger conspiracy to help Trump, but that is arguably one of the things prosecutors have proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Move on to your stronger arguments, the credibility of Michael Cohen and putting distance between your client and the falsified documents. He really needs to move on.

COLLINS: So, what -- I mean, what he's clearly trying to do here is raise questions about whether that call was even about Karen McDougal and the payment back to David Pecker that never ultimately happened.

He says, listen to the recording. See if you hear 150 or see if you have no idea what you're hearing at all. He is trying to take all of these pieces of evidence that the prosecution introduced, these recordings, and sow doubt about them.

COOPER: Right. Yes, some little bit of reasonable doubt.

I want to turn to trial attorney and jury consultant Linda Moreno.

Linda, thanks for joining us. We might have to interrupt you as new -- new word comes from the courtroom.

I'm wondering what you -- if you have been listening to these closing arguments, what we can hear them, what do -- what do you make?

LINDA MORENO, TRIAL ATTORNEY AND JURY CONSULTANT: Well, first of all, I think that the prosecution would love to have a deliberating room full of your voices, the panelists, because it sounds like the prosecution is winning. And so I think they would be overjoyed by that.


It seems to me that the first commandment of closing argument is, thou shalt not bore the jury. We know that, 100 years ago, Clarence Darrow did a 12-hour closing argument in the Loeb and -- Loeb murder trial. Now we're in 2024. Let's cut it down, folks.

And, thematically, I think that the prosecution would benefit, especially in front of a New York jury, to talk about -- take a page from the Alexander Hamilton play, which is, who was in the room, and what was the motive here for Donald Trump? It was to be in the Oval Office, to be in that room.

So then we take it back to the August 2015 room, where the conspiracy was hatched, and then back to -- and in the middle of the closing, put the texts and the documents and the personal checks, et cetera, and Mr. Cohen as the repentant sinner.

And then you go back and you end it with the jurors, who are in one of the most important rooms they will ever be in their lives. And their verdict matters, unlike many times in life where your vote doesn't matter. So there has to be more of a thematic sense here. And I don't see it in the defense argument.

COOPER: I just want to -- what's been going on, Todd Blanche is telling the jury about -- basically raising doubts about this recorded phone call Michael Cohen made, saying President Trump clearly has no idea what he's talking about, Blanche says, during this recording.

Blanche is saying -- raising questions about whether this recording is even about Karen McDougal at all. Blanche says: "Mr. Cohen and President Trump are literally talking past each other about what's going on."

So he is hoping -- Blanche says: "Trump is in real estate." He is hoping that jurors, once they are back, are going to replay this conversation and start to think, oh, well, was that 150 that Donald Trump said? Or was it something else, that is this conversation what it was presented to us as?

Blanche is saying: "You can buy a building with cash. It doesn't mean that you're going into the closing with a duffel bag filled with green," Blanche says.

Blanche: "That was Mr. Cohen lying to you, painting a picture that fits his narrative, not the truth," raising the idea that when Donald Trump in that phone conversation said cash, meaning, we make this payment to Karen McDougal in cash, and Michael Cohen says, no, no, no, Trump didn't really mean cash. Cash can mean different things in various transactions.

Linda, just in terms of the level of detail, going down into this kind of level of detail, asking -- hoping the jurors will replay this conversation, in your experience, do jurors do that? Do they go back and look at a lot of pieces of evidence, replay conversations?

Blanche is saying: "There's no scenario, testimony in this trial that President Trump was going to walk around with a double bag full of $150,000 worth of cash."

MORENO: I think it's to be expected after a long trial that the jurors may send out notes to see particular -- perhaps some transcripts, a reread of a transcript, et cetera, but they have their own notes.

And the truth is, at the end of the day, you don't leave your common sense at the door as a juror. And the thing that is most compelling, certainly about the prosecution, besides all these little details, is, from the Latin, cui bono, who benefits? Who benefited from all of this alleged conduct?

Simplification is what's important in both closing arguments. But, indeed, the jurors could ask for some rereads or to take a look at another particular piece of evidence.

COOPER: Linda, we have talked to a number of jury consultants this morning and attorneys who say that they think -- by the -- Blanche -- Blanche is zeroing in on the end of the recording when Trump says "Check" before the audio cuts off.

There was testimony about why -- much testimony during the trial about why the call cuts off. Blanche suggests Trump was starting a new sentence. "You have no idea what was said afterward," he said. I'm filling our viewers in, "But it's not what he told you," Blanche said.

During prior testimony, Blanche -- the defense had been trying to raise the idea that this call was intentionally cut off, perhaps by Michael Cohen, because something else was said. Michael Cohen has testified that there was an incoming call, and that's why the Cohen -- the phone cut off.

Linda, a number of jury consultants we have talked to this morning have said that they believe jurors by now have likely made up their minds. And when they listen to these closing arguments, it's not that necessarily their minds are going to be changed, but maybe they just take out certain data points that bolster the arguments that they have already made to themselves.

Do you think that's true?


And, actually, social sciences show, those studies show that about 70 percent of jurors already have an idea of what their verdict might be after opening statements. I do agree that closing argument in this case is more important than usual. [11:25:03]

But I also agree that they have probably already made up their mind, and they have selected those pieces of evidence that bolster those opinions. Now, this cutting off of the tape, that might -- that might appear as a reasonable doubt and it might appeal to the one or two engineers that you have on your jury who would want to see all the logic and all of the evidence, et cetera.

We don't know. We don't know. It's a guessing game.


MORENO: But I think that most of these jurors have already made up their minds.

COOPER: Yes, Linda Moreno, thank you so much.

Blanche has said -- I appreciate you joining us.

Blanche has said: "You don't know about the integrity of this file and this recording."

While the defense has been presenting its closing argument, supporters of the Biden campaign held a news conference outside the courthouse, including actor Robert De Niro and former officers who were attacked and injured while defending the U.S. Capitol on January 6. This occurred a little earlier.

Take a listen.


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR/PRODUCER: If Trump returns to the White House, you can kiss these freedoms goodbye that we all take for granted. And elections, forget about it. That's over. That's done.

If he gets in, I can tell you right now, he will never leave.

MICHAEL FANONE, FORMER D.C. METROPOLITAN POLICE OFFICER: At the end of the day, this election is about Donald Trump and his vision for the office of the president of the United States, not as a public servant who answers to the elected -- to the people who elected him, but as an authoritarian who answers to and serves only himself.


COOPER: And that occurred a short time ago.

Back with Paula Reid and Kaitlan Collins.

By the way, Blanche is showing the AT&T phone records, the AT&T witness testimony that the phone call went to voice-mail, was not answered.

By the way, I was in the courtroom, I think you were as well, that -- the morning that this testimony took place. It was not exactly the most scintillating testimony. It was kind of talking about phone records and why the phone was cut off. It seemed overall just sort of inconclusive when you were in the courtroom, or not sure how important it really became.

But, again, he's trying to attack, as you said earlier, Kaitlan, specific pieces of evidence, raising reasonable doubt.

COLLINS: Yes, he's chipping away basically at each thing that they have brought up. And he's saying right now that Trump and Cohen were speaking past each other during that call, that we don't know what Trump was about to say.

They're trying to raise the idea that Trump may have said something that totally benefited him and made him seem innocent in this at the end of that call. Obviously, that's a tactic that they are trying to use. It's not clear if the jury will find that believable, given the other evidence that they have seen.

COOPER: Blanche...

COLLINS: And now they're -- they're talking about the Stormy Daniels thing, saying that -- he's putting a big emphasis on how long ago this was.

He's also putting a big emphasis on Michael Cohen's memory, saying: "Michael Cohen could have said, I don't recall who was beeping in on that call when he was recording that conversation, but he testified to it specifically." He's saying there's no evidence of it.

But can I just say one thing about what we just saw with Biden surrogates, those three, Michael Fanone, Harry Dunn, who briefly ran for office, and Robert De Niro, in this park right out on the other side of this courthouse, which is where we have seen Trump's allies go each and every day, and where they will probably be in a few minutes?

We have not seen the Biden campaign wade into this in this way.

COOPER: Yes, this is the first time we have seen that.

COLLINS: They have stayed away from it. They have been kind of on the periphery. President Biden himself has hardly talked about it.

It's notable that, on the day of the closing arguments, they are using this to bring their own allies here and get this directly involved. We have not seen that happen in the six -- over six weeks that we have been outside here.

COOPER: Blanche turning it to Stormy Daniels, saying the story took place in 2006, 18 years ago.

It's interesting that they chose today. I mean, obviously, it's closing arguments. It's a very significant day. So, they -- but that those chose -- decided not to do it earlier...

REID: Yes. COOPER: ... or even make it kind of a daily thing.

REID: Yes, why they haven't made more of it.

I mean, quite frankly, I'm a legal reporter, not a political correspondent, but I would imagine that most voters who are on the fence would be more interested in hearing about how someone's going to lower the price of groceries, makes -- cost of living ease, as opposed to talking about Donald Trump and his legal problems.

Now, right now, President Trump and Ms. Daniels have repeatedly denied it took place. Again, we're coming back to this argument that this tryst did not occur. This is not what's at the heart of this case. And Blanche's closing argument right now, this is falling into the same trap that a large part of the defense here has fallen into, which is, he can be meandering.

It takes him a long time to get to the point. And he will make a big deal about things that are not really material to the case. Remember, they took so long in their cross of Stormy Daniels, when she really isn't that material to the case itself.

Now, Blanche is asking how the story could influence the election when it was already published in 2011. Of course, we know the answer to this, because, in the wake of "Access Hollywood," there was enormous pressure on the campaign not to have other negative stories come out that could alienate voters, specifically women.

COOPER: Also, the idea that -- if he's raising the idea that, oh, well, Stormy Daniels' story coming out right on the eve of the election would not have made an impact because "In Touch" magazine wrote something about it in 2011, I mean, that's just...

REID: Ridiculous.

COOPER: ... a specious argument.