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CNN Live Event/Special

Now: Jury Resumes Deliberations In Trump Criminal Hush Money Trial. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 11:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Michael Cohen about a meeting they had with Donald Trump in 2015 at Trump Tower in which Trump allegedly said they would all work together to handle any salacious stories about him that might emerge. Let's bring in Will Scharf. He's a Trump attorney, who was just in the courtroom, and also a Republican candidate for attorney general in Missouri. Will, good to see you.

So, I want to get your take on the jury's request for rereading the instructions. We know the instructions are incredibly important to their deliberations and of course, the outcome of their case. You're in the room. What do you make of this part of the instructions being reread to the jury?

WILL SCHARF, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Well, a lot of what the jury just heard relates to evidentiary inferences that they're allowed to make. And then obviously, they also asked to hear David Pecker's testimony read-back to read the tea leaves a little bit. One possible reason for the specific requests they've made is that they may have already made a decision that they consider Michael Cohen to be deeply not credible. And if that's the case, I think this case appears to be on life support, and some of the jurors may be looking for a way out, a way to convict without relying on Michael Cohen's testimony.

Overall, I think that's very favorable for our team. I think that's a very good sign. And most of all, I'm just enthusiastic about the fact that the jury seems to be taking its duties very seriously.


SCHARF: They're considering the law. They're considering the evidence. We believe if they do that, they'll end up with a just verdict here, which is an acquittal.

TAPPER: Absolutely on the idea that the jury is taking the job seriously. One of the pieces -- one of the instructions that Judge Merchan read yesterday, I don't know if it was reread today, was the idea that Michael Cohen is considered an accomplice and therefore, his testimony alone is not sufficient. They need to have other backing for his testimony, whether it is the testimony of other individuals like David Pecker or physical evidence, such as the checks or the ledgers or whatever. How did you and the defense team -- and Mr. Trump, how did you all take that in, basically, the judge was saying you can't go by Michael Cohen's testimony alone. SCHARF: One of the judge's instructions, Jake, also related to the fact that if a witness is not truthful on the stand, the jury can effectively just completely ignore that witness or rule that witness out as the evidentiary value of that witness. Overall, I think those instructions are quite favorable to us. So, we'll see how things proceed. But so far, we're pretty excited about the way that jury deliberations have proceeded so far.

TAPPER: Obviously, whatever viewers out there think of Donald Trump, it is not fun to be on trial. It is not enjoyable to be a defendant. It is not particularly delightful to be told that you have to sit inside a courthouse until the verdict comes down. How is Mr. Trump doing on day two of deliberations?

SCHARF: He is irrepressible. He's got boundless energy. And I think he feels good. I think he's ready to have justice done in this court, which again, we believe would be a verdict of acquittal.

TAPPER: What is the legal team doing right now do you think in all likelihood to prepare for all possible scenarios? Are they preparing -- I'm not an attorney, so forgive me for my ignorance. But would the defense team already have an appeal ready to go based on a possible conviction?

SCHARF: If there were to be a conviction here, which we believe would be a gravely unjust verdict, we would speedily appeal to the New York Appellate Division potentially to the New York Court of Appeals as well. And we'll take that step if we get there. But so far, we think that appears to be a highly unlikely outcome here.

TAPPER: Part of the judge's instructions to the jury included the distinction between a felony and a misdemeanor when it comes to the falsification of business records. What does that difference look like in this case legally?

SCHARF: Well, as you know, Jake, a misdemeanor under this business records fraud statute would have been time-barred here. It would have been passed the statute of limitations. Alvin Bragg's -- Alvin Bragg's team has essentially converted misdemeanor offenses into felony offenses -- alleged misdemeanor offenses, I should say, by claiming that the business records fraud was intended to cover up an underlying illegality.

This is highly unusual in New York practice. It's a very novel use of this statute. And I think the jury instructions had to accommodate the fact that we're in somewhat unprecedented legal territory here in terms of the use of this particular statute.

TAPPER: All right. Will Scharf, thank you so much. Hope you have a nice day. Stay with us. We are watching day two of jury deliberations in Donald Trump's hush money cover-up trial. We were going to squeeze in a quick break. We'll be right back.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We are awaiting a decision from the 12 jurors who will ultimately determine Donald Trump's fate in his criminal hush money case, as they are right now behind closed doors considering whether or not he will become the first person to run for the White House as a convicted felon.


I should note that Donald Trump himself has returned to his holding room inside the courthouse with his legal defense team and his entourage as the jury is back in the jury room where they will continue their deliberations after rehearing the instructions from the judge yesterday and also key parts of testimony from David Cohen -- or David Pecker and Michael Cohen, I should note, about the Trump Tower meeting where they hatched a plan to catch and kill stories about Donald Trump-related as he was running for the 2016 campaign. As you note. Donald Trump has just posted on Truth Social and asked if anyone can believe that our government would be spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on prosecuting this ridiculous case. In all caps, he says I did nothing wrong, and claims the testimony in court was amazing for the defense. He posted that right as he was going into that room.

And, Kristen, what's interesting here is, you know, one thing that the jury asked for that didn't get a lot of attention was they asked for headphones in this case. They haven't specifically said what kind of headphones they have -- they would like to have because they have a laptop inside that room with them that two jurors are kind of in charge of navigating, and it has all the evidence and the exhibits on it. And of course, we don't know what it is that they're trying to listen to, you know, on these headphones.

But we did hear a lot of critical pieces of audio during this case. I've just been thinking of Michael Cohen's podcast and excerpts of that the defense used. Michael Cohen's recording of his conversation -- surreptitious recording of this conversation with Donald Trump, which the defense framed in a negative light because it was a lawyer recording his client, but the prosecution was using to say, here's what Donald Trump said about these conversations with Michael Cohen.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the most critical parts of that audio was it established a relationship between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump in which they actually had a discussion relating to what's at the crux of this case, or not at the crux of this case, but hush money payment, essentially. That was really the first time that there was any kind of evidence backing some of what Michael Cohen was saying. A lot of what he said was just based on his own experience.

Now, the defense as you said, they tried to undermine it by saying that a lawyer shouldn't be recording his calls. But the other part of what the defense tried to do is talk about how that tape might have been edited. And what they tried to focus on was that it cut off while they were in the middle of this conversation. Now, Donald Trump himself has seized on that saying I was just about to say something really good, which is obviously, true Trump passion there. But the defense tried to say that they -- that Michael Cohen might have altered this tape in some way. The prosecution is saying that was absolutely not true. But this did become part of the defense's case because of this critical piece of audio.

COLLINS: Yes. And they -- I mean, the prosecution even brought on someone who extracted the audio from Michael Cohen's phone to talk about -- he was cross-examined, that's where they were raising questions about the gap in that phone call. But it is interesting that the jury clearly wants to be able to listen to pieces of business there inside that room. And it really also shows just how meticulously they're going over the evidence very clearly. They're not just walking in there, kind of take a straw poll. They're clearly going through what they -- what they heard in the courtroom.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And everybody wants to know, all right, how long is it going to take to get a verdict? But if you think about this, you have 12 people, right? Because these are headphones. These are not speakers. The judge even asked are you sure you want speakers? OK, you want headphones.

Individually listening, potentially. Maybe not everyone, but several people may be listening to this piece of evidence, think of all the evidence that's been introduced over the past seven weeks. And this really could take a while.

But it reminds people of how this process works. I mean, it's pretty remarkable if you think about all 12 people having to go through all of this evidence and then come to a consensus on 34 different counts. Again, I think the headphone request, more than anything else, suggests to me that this could take days.

COLLINS: Yes. but the -- well, that's key because the question is, how long does this take? We have no idea, obviously. But if they just weren't getting -- you know, they spent over an hour this morning having this read back to them, they're just now really in the jury room for the first time today.

HOLMES: Yes, and they're having their conversations and going through. It's really interesting. I spoke to somebody who had been a juror in another high-profile case. And what they told me is that anything you see outside of the jury room is not reflective of what's actually going on inside of the jury room.

REID: Yes.

HOLMES: Even one of the things I reported yesterday was that some of these people who had gone with Donald Trump to the courthouse had reported back to Trump's team what they saw the jury doing. And one of them had said they were giving me favorable looks. And this person said look, none of that is really any kind of indication of anything.

Someone could just be being polite, or they could actually be trying to do the opposite of how they really feel because people don't know how to act in this kind of situation. So, they kind of might act one way or another. So, none of that is indicative. None -- it goes all of what we're doing and what Donald Trump's team has been doing, which is trying to decipher anything.

REID: Yes.

HOLMES: Read any sort of tea leaf. At the end of the day, this person said you never know what's going on behind that door.

COLLINS: It's such an important caveat because I talked to an attorney also yesterday who represented a politician in a case. And based on what the jury was asking, he thought, OK -- and I won't say their name because they did tell me I could disclose, you know, who they're representing. But they were like, OK, we'll prepare for a conviction, this is going to happen, and then the jury came back, and they were acquitted.


So, that's a great caveat. We don't know what the jury is thinking. Obviously, we were paying close attention.

We're waiting to see if the buzzer goes off in that courtroom again. That means that they have another note, potentially a verdict. We've already had it go off twice now with three notes in total.

We're going to take a quick break. Do stay with us because we are covering every development happening inside that courthouse behind us. This is CNN's special live coverage.


TAPPER: And welcome back. As the jury in Manhattan is deliberating, one former Trump aide says the former president is preparing himself mentally for a guilty verdict. Joining us now is former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, the author of a new book, "From Wall Street to the White House and Back."


Anthony, you told me a couple of days ago that you think Donald Trump is super nervous about what's to come. What do you imagine Trump's mindset is now as he's being forced to stay in this courthouse, and his fate is being deliberated by these 12 Manhattanites?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, again, I'm in the same camp that it was a few days ago, Jake. He's nervous. He's also contemplating the ramifications this is going to have on his family. And I think he's -- you know, he's got this belief in himself, of course, about his own base, and so forth, still believing that he could likely win the election.

But he's got great political instincts. And so, he knows if he comes out of this case as a convicted felon, that could spell doom for him in November because lots of independents are not going to want to put a convicted felon at the top of the U.S. government. So, that's sort of the things that are swirling around in his mind right now.

Obviously, he's taking the Truth Social and trying to ventilate some of that stuff. But you know, listen, when he's convicted -- if he is convicted, he's going to be one very angry person. We'll see that on full display over the next couple of days.

TAPPER: You've talked about some of the nervous tics, as you call them, that the former president does when he's speaking to cameras, like moving his hands in and out as he did yesterday.


TAPPER: Can you tell us more about what those are and what you think they signal?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, you know, the double fist pump is sort of this, you know, solidarity pump. You know, letting people know that he's chipper. It's sort of part of that dance move sequence that he does, which looks ridiculous, but for whatever reason, the people that are in his follower group like it.

But the accordion move is usually a sign of nervousness. And so, when you find Mr. Trump saying something that he really doesn't believe or he has to dial into a frame of mind to push himself to say something, he does the accordion move. And so, you can see that on full display yesterday with the accordion move.

The circle move is when he's speaking more with certainty. So, it's fairly predictable with President Trump. You just have to watch his behavior. He can't hide the shame of what's going on, though. You can see it on his face.

He can't really hide the shame. He knows what he did, and he knows what he's in trouble for. He probably thinks the case is ridiculous. And we can debate whether or not the case shouldn't be brought against -- brought against him or not, but it's here now and he knows what he did. And so now he's just waiting to figure out how bad it's going to be.

The evidence is out there, Jake. And so, there are 12 jurors who will have to make that decision. But the evidence is pretty overwhelming. He knows that which is why he's invoking the whole Mother Teresa line yesterday.

TAPPER: If the jury does come back with a -- with a guilty verdict on some or all of the 34 counts, how do you think the Trump team's messaging around his innocence? Will change if at all, or will it continue along the lines of the Mother Teresa -- nobody, including Mother Teresa, could survive --


TAPPER: This rigged system is the charge he makes, are we going to hear more of that? What do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. So, he'll demean the judge, he'll demean the jury, and they'll file immediately for an appeal. You'll have to see what happens to him in the interregnum period between the appeal or not because if there is a jail sentence here, what do they do with it? And is it solitary, you know, ankle brace on home confinement? That sort of thing. So, that will all be speculative, but he'll be out there pouncing on the American system.

And one of the reasons why I'm working hard against him is that he is a threat to our system. He is a threat to the veracity and the sanctity of our system. And so, he's a guy that likely has done something wrong. We'll let the jury decide it. But if the jury convicts him, they'll try to impugn the system.

So, even though he himself has done something wrong, and the evidence is overwhelming, he wants his group of supporters to think that the system is unfair. And that's destabilizing to the system. And that's unfair to its fellow Americans. So, as I've said to you before, he's the most unAmerican presidential candidate that we've seen.

I mean, it's not just the calls for deportation or firing the civil service in the American government, but it's really shaking the roots of the system and making a large group of people think that this system that we've all lived with successfully for 250 years is a rigged and unfair system. And that is a bunch of nonsense. That needs to be put down.


And so, you know, he -- you need people out there rebutting what he's saying. But there's a group of people that feel the system is unfair. And I'm not saying that there aren't elements of the system that needs to be fixed. But it's not what Mr. Trump says. And we need to rebut that.

TAPPER: Mr. Trump has needed to stay pretty quiet in the courtroom because of the gag order on him and also just courtroom decorum. He's clearly used these media gaggles outside court as well as social media and appearances at rallies and appearances in friendly venues to vent about his frustrations. Do you think he's going too far in pushing the limits of the gag order?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, that's what he does. You know, he's a -- he's a frog boiler. He simmering the frog hoping to kill the frog with low temperatures in the beginning, and then he puts the heat up.

And so, he's pushing that judge. He knows he's already over the limits with that judge and he knows he's going to put the judge in an unfortunate situation if he goes after him because he'll cry law fair, he'll cry political persecution as opposed to justice, and so that's what he does. And there's a group of people that are listening to him when he does that.

So, the judge is in a really tough position. He does not want to do something that is cataclysmic to the overall process because this is a former American president. And so, the weird thing about all this is Donald Trump is talking about unfairness, but he's actually been treated more fairly than most people that are in his situation in terms of what the accusations are.

TAPPER: All right. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you so much for your time today. And thank you for joining us for special coverage of the jury deliberations in Trump's criminal hush money trial. The jury is now back in their room, and they are deciding. Our coverage continues with my friend and colleague Dana Bash after this short break. We'll be right back.