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Donald Trump Guilty On All 34 Felony Charges; Awaiting Manhattan D.A. News Conference On Trump Conviction; Judge Sets Trump Sentencing For July 11, Days Before GOP Convention. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 18:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Remember of the first Republican primary debate that they were all asked if they would still vote for the party's nominee even if he was a convicted felon, he or she, Asa Hutchinson and Chris Christie were the only two who did not raise their hands and said they would. This is going to be the next major question for all of those figures now that some of them had already prefaced that they would still vote for it because they questioned the outcome of this verdict, whatever it was. And now you're going to see the impact that has over the next five months before voters go to the polls in November.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes. A historic day here. Let's go to Jake Tapper in Washington.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. And if you are just joining us with the breaking news, the historic verdict is in, Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, has been found guilty by a jury of his peers on all 34 New York State felony counts of falsifying business records tied to the alleged Stormy Daniels hush money cover-up. I guess we can remove the word alleged from that. The former president of the United States is now a convicted felon, even as he is running to return to the White House.

Mr. Trump left the courthouse a short while ago. He will be sentenced on July 11th, literally just days before the Republican National Convention is convenes. Of course, Donald Trump and his lawyers will appeal this conviction. But as of now, and they cannot appeal until after sentencing July 11th, as of now, 12 jurors from Manhattan, 12 of the president's peers have made a monumental decision, finding the former president of the United States, Donald Trump, guilty on all counts.

We are standing by for a news conference that will be held by a Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is the one who brought this case against Donald Trump. We will hear his reaction to the verdict. But let us chew on this momentous day with our panel here. And, Laura Coates, the jury was given a lot of reason by the defense to not come to these conclusions, Michael Cohen's credibility for one. They rejected all of them.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: They did. They said there were two reasons never to actually come to any of these conclusions, and it was because of Michael Cohen. They did not offer an alternative theory of what happened. They said that the government had not met their burden of proof, which they were required to do.

Remember, the defense went first. Trump was very furious about not being able to respond to that. But gone now are the tea leaf reading of what they felt about credibility considerations, whether they believed Michael Cohen's testimony, whether they believed even those witnesses who were very, you know, kind to or sympathetic with Donald Trump, that's all done.

This is a moment of such significance because the government has proven beyond a reasonable doubt now that there were 34 counts of falsified records, not with direct evidence or statements from Donald Trump to suggest that, yes, I ordered the code red, but instead saying that I was directing somebody or made possible the falsified records.

This was a question for many people. Could it be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony? The only way to do that was from this predicate crime. And remember, as we were talking about, Elie, The idea that most of the time people wondered should they have a lesser included offense here? Should the defense have tried to include that in some form or fashion? They opted not to and now you've got 34 felonies.

TAPPER: And, Elie Honig, well, before I come to you we don't have cameras in the courtroom because New York thinks that it is still the year 1732, but here is artwork from Christine Cornell, one of the courtroom sketch artists before the verdict was read. And you see the defendant, the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, standing there looking at the jurors before the verdict was read.

And, Elie Honig, we have talked before on this panel many times about how the fact is that a lot of witnesses are people with credibility issues when it comes to crimes because a lot of criminals, Sammy the Bull Gravano was brought up many times on this panel a lot of, a lot of witnesses are a lot of criminals are individuals who associate with other criminals, which is not to say, well, Donald Trump is now a convicted felon, but the idea being that jurors do distinguish between people who do not have credibility, generally speaking, and what they say in a courtroom, they factor that in.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's exactly right, Jake. This verdict comes down to one word, corroboration. It's a word that we prosecutors, former prosecutors, are obsessed with. Because you want to be able to make the exact pitch that the D.A. made to the jury when he was closing the other day. He said to them, essentially, you don't have to take Michael Cohen at his word in a vacuum. Look at everything that backs him up. Look at the handwritten notes. Look at the checks.


TAPPER: Not only you don't have to, but they said you shouldn't.

HONIG: Right, exactly. They said, let Michael Cohen simply walk you through the evidence. And if we even think to the note, the one substantive note we got, which came yesterday, what the jury asked for is the testimony of David Pecker and Michael Cohen about one crucial meeting. And that testimony that they both gave was not identical. It's never going to be identical, but it was consistent and it was mutually reinforcing.

And so I think it's reasonable to conclude that the jury went into that room. They said, can we trust Michael Cohen based on all the other evidence? That's what the D.A. asked him to do. And they gave a resounding yes.

TAPPER: Kasie, the politics of this are, are, are inescapable. You've been talking to people about Republicans about this. Tell us what they told you.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I talked to a pair of Republicans who quite candidly would prefer to see Donald Trump lose the election in November, but I think it's really telling that they are not jumping on this verdict immediately. That the way they are looking at it is as something that is going to force our already incredibly divided country into their respective corners, that it is going to have the effect of amping up the division, the anger, and I think some of the things that we're seeing in terms of Republican fundraising, reports of websites being down kind of underscore that point that it is galvanizing many supporters of Donald Trump to support him all the more.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I think that we need to look at the calendar one more time. You were saying July 11th. I'm sitting here looking at it. That is a Thursday. July 15th, which is a Monday, is the first day of the Republican convention. And I know that our reporting is that Todd Blanche and Trump's other attorneys will be asking for the sentencing to be moved until after the Republican convention.

We don't know if he's going to grant that but this whole -- not just this case, but other cases, and his presidential campaign, are so intertwined and the collision between that sentencing date and the convention are just it's almost too much to even fathom.

On top of that, we've been hearing the former president more recently saying that he's not going to pick his running mate until either right before or maybe even during the convention. I've already been communicating with Republicans saying it's hard to imagine that he doesn't take this moment and the content and the context of what was happening in this trial with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal take that into account when he picks his running mate.

TAPPER: So, right now, Donald Trump forced to contend with New York traffic. That's his motorcade. There he just posted on his social media site, Truth Social, in all caps, victory on November 5th, save America.

HUNT: Jake, can I just jump in, because we're already seeing this political fight start to play out. Chris LaCivita, who, of course, at the top of the Trump campaign, just retweeted, re-Xed, I'm not sure what we call it now, at Governor Larry Hogan, who is the Republican nominee for the Senate race in Maryland. Larry Hogan said, regardless of the result, I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process at this dangerously divided moment in our history. All leaders, regardless of party, must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship. LaCivita says, on top of this, you just ended your campaign.

TAPPER: You just ended your campaign, Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for Senate in the blue state of Maryland.

HUNT: Yes, because he called for respect of our institutions collectively in this moment.

TAPPER: Well, there is an appeals process, but before we get to that, Karen, the sentencing process, tell us more about that.

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, what will happen is that Donald Trump will have to report to probation and probation will prepare what's called a presentencing report where they take certain information. And this is something they do in every case before sentencing, certain information about him, including whether or not he expresses remorse, because that is something that is normally taken into consideration for sentencing.

When Judge Merchan actually sentences any defendant, he takes many factors into consideration. If you removed the name Donald Trump from his consideration, and it was somebody who came before him for sentence that also had three open other felony indictments in three other jurisdictions in both state and federal court.

He's somebody who has been convicted of 34 felony counts, was held in contempt ten times for disobeying Judge Merchan's orders. He would absolutely fall within that 10 to 30 percent who would be sentenced to prison. But because his name is Donald Trump, who knows what will happen, but those are the exact factors that any judge in New York State would take into consideration. And those are the people who are convicted of E felonies that would go to prison.


Now, he could -- there's a wide range of options. He could get up to four years. He could also do weekends in jail. That's as an option if Judge Merchan wanted to do that, where you literally report to jail for weekends. He could do probation. He could do community service where he has to pick up trash on the subway. So --


AGNIFILO: He could do home arrest. Every option is on the table with a class E felony like this.

But I wanted to jus for people of what any other defendant, because I worked in the D.A.'s years. I've seen hundreds of thousands of cases and sentences. And those are the factors that would have gone into that equation. And, absolutely, without a doubt, any other defendant who was similarly situated to Donald Trump, who is not going to show remorse, and who I am sure will push the bounds of the still remaining gag order after this, we'll see what happens. But anyone else in that position would get prison.

TAPPER: Jamie Gangel, before the trial began, you spoke with Michael Cohen, the defense witness, the number one witness for -- I'm sorry, the prosecution witness, the number one witness for the prosecution, about whom much has been said about his credibility and that certainly at times during the trial appeared to be potentially undermining. Obviously, it was not. What did he say before the trial and how did it work out?

GANGEL: So, we don't know what the jury took into account yet, and we may never know because they may not speak to us. But what Michael Cohen said, this was about, 24 hours before is, he said there are going to be all of these other witnesses. And, in fact, there were 19 other witnesses and he saw his job as being the narrator and that his job was to connect the dots, but that we would -- forgive me, this is not working -- that we would see all of the documents, the evidence, those Allen Weisselberg hand-scribbled notes, but he said to me over and over again, you're not going to have to rely on me, you're going to be able to rely on this other evidence

TAPPER: If you're just joining us, the former president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of 34 counts of falsifying business records, felony charges.

Maggie Haberman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from The New York Times, who has been in the courtroom, I believe every day of this trial, is joining us right now. Maggie, first of all, tell us about that moment, the moment of 34 felony convictions.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure, Jake, very dramatic. I have been in courtrooms when there's been a verdict in intense cases, and the judge always cautions people to not have reactions, as Justice Merchan did in this case as well. Usually there is a reaction. There was silence from Trump supporters. Trump himself was sitting (INAUDIBLE). His head had been tilted to the side. We had a bit of an obstructed view because of the court officers in the room, but the jury foreman stood up and was asked where the jury was on each count, and it was guilty.

TAPPER: All right. Maggie, we're having some problems with Maggie's phone connection.

HABERMAN: -- for today.

TAPPER: Maggie, we lost you there for a second. Say that again.

HABERMAN: Sure. Sorry, Jake. And it's still quite crazy right now just in terms of a lot of activity. Eric Trump, Trump's only --

TAPPER: Okay, we're going to wait for Maggie to --

HABERMAN: He shook his head --

TAPPER: And, Maggie, just give us a couple minutes. See if you can find a better cell phone spot. We really want to hear from you, but you keep fading in and out for significant amounts of time. Just to give you at home, while Maggie walks to a better cell phone spot some background information, the Trump team has to file any motions by June 13th and the people must respond by June 27th. This has to do with the sentencing part of the case. And then, of course, July 11th, as we've said, is sentencing. Dana?

BASH: Yes. And, I mean, I actually have a question, and maybe you'll know the answer to this. What are the chances that this judge will say, okay, you're right, July 11th is four days before the Republican convention, I'll wait until afterwards?

AGNIFILO: I was actually surprised that that wasn't an application made. Usually there's a negotiation in court about what day do you want for sentencing. I was surprised that maybe they just didn't report about it. But, normally, there is a conversation between the lawyers to pick that. So, I wouldn't be surprised if the judge -- if there was some movement on that date.


It's kind of a quick date, too. Normally, if somebody is not incarcerated, it can go as far as a few months out. So, we'll see. We'll see what he does, but there's a lot of flexibility there.

TAPPER: So, the jury reached a verdict at 4:20 P.M. Donald Trump, the now convicted felon, the 45th president of the United States, at 6:14 P.M. is arriving at his home at Trump Tower has to be one of the worst days of his life, if not the worst. Anderson?

COOPER: Jake, thanks very much. Joining us now is Danya Perry, Michael Cohen's attorney, her first interview since Donald Trump's conviction. Danya, first, I understand you've just spoken to Michael Cohen. He put out a statement. What did he say to you about his reaction to this?

DANYA PERRY, MICHAEL COHEN'S ATTORNEY: I was actually shocked if you saw his statement. He was -- of all the things he could have said or done, he actually expressed his gratitude to me of all people, and I think that really is -- it's the Michael cohen that I've seen he has mixed feelings, they're complex emotions. He feels vindicated, of course. He's gratified that the jury absolutely believed him and returned a swift verdict. He's gratified that the judge denied the motion that would have precluded his testimony as ridiculous emotion as it was it, it also was swiftly denied.

And so he is feeling those things, and as he testified in court, he definitely wanted to see accountability for his former boss and mentor and someone who meant so much to him for so long. But for those same reasons, he certainly there -- his emotions are tinged with sadness as well, sorrow for what has happened in the past ten years and the past several in particular. So, I think he feels that this is a sad day certainly for Mr. Trump. And he actually expressed that to me, but also for the, for the country.

And so I think what he's going to be focused on right now is this is not a personal beef, as many people have talked about, and as Todd Blanche spent a lot of time in closing statements and a cross- examination, as Michael said in his statement, and as he just posted, for him, he wants to focus on the next chapter, both for himself and also for the country. He sees this as a moment, it's a day of reckoning, and it's a triumph for the rule of law, not him, for the rule of law and for democracy.

COOPER: Danya, I just want to show our viewers what we just a replay of what we just saw, Donald Trump arriving outside Trump Tower to go to his home. He approached a barricaded position where cameras were gesticulated to some of his supporters there, seemed to thank them for clenching his fist in a raised salute, pointing to some people in the crowd and then moving back to go home to Trump Tower.

Clearly, you know, Danya, so much time was spent ripping apart Michael Cohen's credibility on the stand by Todd Blanche. This was something, you know, he did the cross-examination. He clearly viewed this as critical testimony. To what degree does Michael Cohen feel vindicated, because we have not heard from jurors yet, but, clearly, in order to have reached this verdict, they must have believed Michael Cohen on some level? Yes, there was a lot of other evidence that backed up things that Michael Cohen had said. Does he feel some sense of vindication?

PERRY: 100 percent. There's no other way to read that verdict. And it was unanimous, of course. It was quickly rendered and it was guilty on all counts. So, there was seemingly no hesitation at all about his testimony. And I think that's exactly as it should be.

I've known Michael for four years, but he's been talking about this time and for six years, and it has always been the same story. It's always been consistent. It has always made sense. And it was corroborated, as you said. So, the jury clearly had absolutely no trouble believing him, nor should they have.

So, there was a lot of (INAUDIBLE) and a lot of name calling and finger pointing, but at the end of the day, the jury saw a straight, clear and quick path.


And, of course, Michael is feeling gratified by that and vindicated.

COOPER: Does your client have any thoughts on sentencing? Obviously, he has expressed thoughts previously on what he thinks sentencing should be. He has said he thought that Donald Trump should be, I think, in an effing cage at one point. He certainly has said on the sand that he would like to see conviction and would like to see him kind of experience the same things that Michael Cohen experienced being put behind bars. Did he express anything about what he would like to see a sentencing based on all these convictions?

PERRY: No. What he has said is he wanted to see accountability, and that has already happened. So, whatever happens in July or whenever the sentencing is, if it's adjourned, that is not something that he's concerned with. Yes, he certainly made statements in dramatic fashion, as he often does for entertainment value on his podcast or in interviews, but that is not at all his focus right now, not anything he's thinking about. As I said before, he's gratified with the judge's decisions. The judge has ruled down the middle, and the judge will rule at sentencing, and that's his province. Today's verdict was the jury's province. The sentencing will be solely the judge's, and I don't believe that Michael will have anything to say about that.

COOPER: Danya Perry, I appreciate talking to you. Thank you so much. Danya Perry, attorney for Michael Cohen.

I'm back here with Kaitlan Collins and Paula Reid. Obviously again, I mean, Michael Cohen was critical to this case. They didn't want to lead with him. We have the verdict sheet as well. Let's put that up to talk about it as well.

We're -- as we wait for them to put it up. Okay, so I'm going to you. Michael Cohen. Testimony obviously was critical in all of this, not so critical that they wanted it to be first, though. There's the verdict sheet. You see each of the counts, falsifying business records, falsifying business records each one checked off, you know, yes, this is history.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: There was even some surprise that they let him go last. They thought that maybe they'd want to sandwich him, right, because he was complicated. But they had confidence in him, they met with him dozens and dozens of times over the course of a year to prepare him on the stand, and he held up pretty well. He didn't lose it. He didn't get too testy. Obviously he did. Defense argues lie on the stand he admitted stealing from the Trump Organization, but as a witness, he did come across as calm, cool and collected. And given who we're talking about, that was a success, not only for him, but for the prosecution,

COOPER: There had been some question. Would jurors decide guilty on some charges, not on others? Would they sort of tried to kind of have a split decision in some cases? They went every single charge found guilty.

REID: Yes, that is totally not what the Trump team expected. I think a lot of legal experts also thought maybe they would convict him on the charges related to falsifying documents specifically the checks that Trump signed, but the others perhaps it was there was not enough of a direct link. So, this was a surprise, but I think what we've said consistently throughout our coverage is we have no idea how this was going to go. It just wasn't clear. Anything was possible.

COLLINS: And just to look at that verdict sheet, though, and to see guilty, guilty, guilty, because it was a question. Could you be convicted on only the checks alone and maybe not the ledgers and the invoices and the other parts that we were seeing? And to see that X marked in every single box on that verdict sheet, all of these all of these jurors coming to the same decision here as you can see there in the left hand column. And looking at the transcript shows you how quickly all of this happened.

The judge has the two parties to come into the courtroom at 4:15 P.M. today Eastern. That's when he said I'm going to excuse the jury about 4:30. They were still deliberating. We had not received any notes. Then it took about 15 minutes for the judge to come back in the room. He came in. They didn't even make everyone rise. Everyone stayed seated. And the judge, I'm looking at the transcript, he said, I apologize for the delay, but we received a note and it was signed by the jury for a person at 4:20. So, while Judge Merchan is in the courtroom with the prosecution and the defense thinking he's about to dismiss this jury, and then he goes to find out that actually they've sent a note that says we the jury have a verdict. We would like an extra 30 minutes to fill out that form.

And you see here in the transcript, it looks like that verdict sheet, it just says, where the clerk is asking, how do you say to count six? How do you say to count seven? And it's just guilty, guilty, guilty, in this transcript.

COOPER: I want to bring in Clark Brewster, the attorney for Stormy Daniels. Clark, I understand you have talked to Stormy Daniels. I'm wondering what her reaction is. What is your reaction?

CLARK BREWSTER, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Yes, Anderson, I did speak with Stormy. I mean, she was actually pretty emotional. Really, you know, a lot of mixed emotions. Obviously, it's a sad time for, you know, anyone to have a conviction like this.


I mean, it's momentous to the country. So, it really kind of hit her hard. But on the other hand, she knows how hard the jurors worked and their oath that they took. And we have to respect that no man is above the law and we have to respect the system.

But, you know, she has empathy, but she also did her duty and came to court and told the truth and was exposed to cross-examination and the jurors did their work.

COOPER: Do, you know -- I mean, does she -- did she express anything about what she would like to see for sentencing?

BREWSTER: No, we've not really discussed that. It will be interesting. I think the judge probably knows this case better than anyone at this time and we're opposed to trust in his judgment as to what would be a fair sentence in this matter. You know, there's so many emotions that run through this, the emotions of the fear that she expressed, as I told you about in the previous meetings, about somebody doing harm to her, and then all of the anxiety about getting on the stand and facing two days of examination. But this is the culmination, and this is how our system works. You get a trial, and people take oath to apply goodwill and proper analysis of the law to the facts, and they return to verdict it.

You could feel in that courtroom this is a very diligent, informed jury and you have to respect that and compliment them on their work.

COOPER: Clark Brewster, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much. I want to go back to Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Wolf? WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thank you very much. We're watching history unfold right now. First time in American history, something like this has happened, a former president of the United States convicted on 34 counts, felony counts, very serious counts indeed.

I want to bring in the author and legendary journalist, Bob Woodward, right now. Bob, thanks very much for joining us.

Give us your reaction as someone who, together with Carl Bernstein, did all the lead reporting on the Watergate scandal many years ago. What is your reaction now to this historic moment?

BOB WOODWARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well first of all, maybe the country's not as divided as we think it is, that this jury was able to quite quickly reach a consensus, and the consensus is that Donald Trump is a felon. And that changes politics. That changes the whole understanding of Trump and the presidential election that's going on. So, this is one of these moments that changes history and defines history.

Now, we're going to have to hear from what the jurors said and how they did this so quickly. But I was quite surprised. I expected there would be some very vocal Trump supporters on that jury and would kind of have another point of view here. But there's been one point of view, and that is that Donald Trump is a felon.

That's something I think it will go through an appeal process. We'll hear from the jurors. But this is a kind of raw truth that doesn't happen that often in politics.

BLITZER: Certainly doesn't. Bob, you interviewed Trump on several occasions while he was president of the United States. Do you think he fully understands the gravity of this situation?

WOODWARD: Well, I think he does. I think he will watch the coverage and his lawyers will tell him that this is bad news. But Trump does, and I've spent a year talking to him, nine hours, he could call me at any time, I could call him at any time. This was 2020, the last year of his presidency. And he does -- you know, we realized this he's created a political cult. But I think the cult members have to kind of take a moment to pause and say, how did these people reach this conclusion that our guy is a felon?

BLITZER: Give us your sense, the sentencing is going to happen in July, just before the Republican convention. He's the presumptive Republican nominee. He can run for president. He can even serve for president even as a convicted felon.


Give us a sense of what this means for the country right now.

WOODWARD: Well, only in America would we have this occurring before our eyes. But it is occurring. Again, I go back to its significance. Donald Trump was somebody who's been accused. He is now a convicted felon.

Now, it's a jury in New York. We're going to hear what the jurors say and, you know, how they reached this unanimous conclusion. You know, we live our own lives. There aren't many unanimous conclusions on anything. I, quite frankly, thought there would be a debate that this might take days. It did not take days. I think that's very significant. But we're going to have to hear how they reached this conclusion.

BLITZER: Very quickly, before I let you go, Bob --

WOODWARD: In the legal world --

BLITZER: I'm just curious, pardon, just curious how you compare this current crisis in the United States right now with what happened when you were reporting for The Washington Post, during Watergate that led to the forced resignation of a sitting president of the United States.

WOODWARD: Well, that took a couple of years from the initial reporting that Carl Bernstein and I did. But this is quick. This is a. legal and political declaration. I think it goes down in the history books.

Now, there will be discussions, there will be appeals. I mean, Trump has been out saying this is a disgrace. Of course, the whole Trump approach to his own situation and the country is, well, the rules don't apply to me. I'm going to -- when I spent a year interviewing him and doing three books on him, there is that sense of, I make my own rules, and, boy, I'm going to play by those rules, and those are the rules that count. And this jury said, no, we're going to make the decision here, and they've done that, powerful moment.

BLITZER: Very powerful, very historic indeed. For those of us who appreciate American history, first time ever something like this has happened in U.S. history.

Bob Woodward, as usual. Thank you very, very much.

Dana, let me get your reaction right now. When everyone is saying no one is above the law, including a former president of the United States that has become abundantly clear.

BASH: It has. And just to pick up where we're Bob left off there about obviously this is going down in the history books, that's kind of a no brainer. But the other point that he was making about Trump telling him over and over again that he felt that he could play by his own rules or at least suggesting he could play by his own rules and skirt the law, that's what I keep thinking about in this moment, not just even the political realm, but for decades before he got into politics in New York real estate. And the fact that the irony is, in many cases, he used Michael Cohen to try to push the envelope on legal issues, and to be very litigious in a lot of ways.

So, he spent an entire adult lifetime trying to avoid this kind of scenario of even being indicted, even being in a courtroom. And never mind 34 convictions, felony convictions. That's what I'm trying to absorb, how he is feeling at this moment, given what he has done his entire life.

BLITZER: Jamie Gangel, we're showing our viewers the sketch. You can see it right in the middle of the screen right now. And just to be precise, that sketch was taken as he was hearing 34 times in a row, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, 34 times.

GANGEL: You know, however Donald Trump spins this, however much he yells about a rigged trial, and the judge, et cetera, and whatever the political outcome is in November, this is not a good day for Donald Trump. And he is familiar with the court system. He has had cases over the course of his career. And what does he do? Fight, fight, fight, fight. Maybe eventually in a civil case, he's lost or he settled.

But I think it is important to remember that, just to go back to those closing arguments, we made a big deal about they were so long and it was a marathon closing argument. I think Prosecutor Steinglass did in the end probably an extraordinary job in communicating, in connecting the dots for these jurors.


We don't know whether the jurors will ever discuss with us what it was. But I think the fact that this came back so quickly speaks to the prosecution and also those other witnesses and the physical evidence.

COATES: And, you know, Wolf, we've been all talking throughout the course of this trial about what would be the impact of, say, Allen Weisselberg not being a witness that was called. He was the third person, the sort of elephant in the room of someone they could not connect. And the other person who could have corroborated someone like Michael Cohen, he obviously is in Rikers Island. Obviously, that was not impactful for this particular jury, his absence.

We heard about, well, why would they have mentioned Karen McDougal? Would that be a red herring for this jury? Was the defense counsel or the prosecution on a different tangent? We talked about how that was a moment they asked for to be right again. And, of course, I wonder right now, there was a decision made by the former president of the United States not to testify in his own defense. He said from the beginning, he thought that this was a rigged system, the words he used. It's a disgraced system, rigged, a conflicted judge. It was corrupt. He talked about a venue change. He named the percentage he actually lost in New York to President Biden as well. And then he himself chose not to testify. The big showman did not say in his own defense in any way.

And, you know, when you look at all this combined, it's amazing to think about this historic moment that the man we've usually called Teflon Don is now Felon Donald J. Trump.

BLITZER: And 34 times. Kasie?

HUNT: I also think when you step back for a minute and you really look at this, we have spent so many hours talking about the most complicated aspects of this case. We've also talked about what is the most simple explanation. And I do think that there is a simplicity to Donald Trump paying $130,000 to someone and why would he do that if it hadn't actually occurred? And why would he do that if not because the election was mere weeks, days away from the time that that payment was made? I think that the challenge is that we have seen things like this not entirely matter.

It's a little bit two fold. Donald Trump has not won an election since all of this came to light. He lost in 2020. But now we're in a situation where we have a Democratic incumbent. The election is increasingly simply a referendum on Joe Biden. And the decision today is likely to activate the people who most support Trump, probably more than it's likely to activate people who support Biden.

BLITZER: Yes. Let me just bring in the former Trump attorney, Tim Parlatore, he is with us. Give us your reaction to this historic moment.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: So, you know, I'm going to focus on the legal, not the political aspects. And I say that this case strikes me from the beginning is an incredibly defensible case that was not well defended. You know, the amount of time that the defense spent talking about Karen McDougal and catch and kill and all of these other things that had nothing to do with the actual charge of the falsified business records. And I think that they really fell into the trap of fighting all these things they didn't need to, where it's easier to just, you know, kind of concede all that stuff and focus in on this right here.

You know, it, it surprised me a little bit how fast they came to a verdict. It also surprises me the unanimity of counts, obviously, the unanimity of the vote. But guilty of every single count is something that, I was not expecting. I figured if they came back with a guilty verdict to at least be split, maybe they would try and, you know, come to some type of Solomonic, you know, splitting of saying, okay, we'll find them guilty of counts up to the amount of the reimbursement. But at a minimum, the part where, you know, Weisselberg says that it's a bonus or a fee to Michael Cohen, well, that one is not really a false count.

And so the fact that they came guilty across the board like that does surprise me. And I think it speaks to -- you know, to me, it speaks to the fact that the prosecution had a good theory, a good theme that they carried straight through, very long, but the defense didn't have that same thing.

BLITZER: I spoke with several former Trump attorneys in recent days and many of them were suggesting there would be a hung jury. There would be at least one member, 1 out of the 12 jurors, who would decide differently from all the others. Were you expecting a hung jury?

PARLATORE: Well, if you and I were in Vegas yesterday, I would have put all my money on a hung jury. Yes, absolutely.

BLITZER: So, you agree with a lot of your former --

PARLATORE: I do. You know, I was expecting it to be a hung jury. I didn't know which way that it would go. But to get a to get a unanimous verdict this quickly was not something that I was necessarily expecting, especially given the complexity of the case, the number of counts and everything else. But I can see where the jury came to that given the presentations that were made.


BLITZER: Were you expecting this, Jamie?

GANGEL: I was not. I thought the soonest we would come was Friday just again because of the complexity. But, you know, I think in the end, we've talked a lot about common sense, and over the last five, six weeks, we've talked about all of the things that could make you skeptical about the prosecution.

I think at the end of the day, the likely reason it was across the board was the jury believed the underlying motive. And they saw those documents and they didn't overthink it the way, nothing against the lawyers, but you're looking for all the holes in it, and they looked and they said, you know what, this makes sense.

BASH: Yes. And I just wonder, like you were saying, Tim, questioning the defense spending a lot of time on catch and kill and Karen McDougal, does it tell you anything that the jury in one of the questions that they asked the testimony to be reread was about that?

PARLATORE: Oh, yes. I mean, the fact that that was one of the first notes that came out, we want to hear testimony --

BASH: Does that make it more -- does that give the defense attorneys more credibility and how they talked about that, or you think it's the opposite?

PARLATORE: No, the opposite. They allowed the jury to focus on something. You know, Karen McDougal is not part of these charges. And they allowed the jury -- they even directed the jury in some ways to these, you know, ancillary aspects that really -- and I kind of wonder whether Karen McDougal would have even been mentioned had the Harvey Weinstein decision come down earlier. Remember, she, that was testimony that came out in the first couple of days with David Pecker before the Weinstein decision came out limiting how much you can talk about those so-called other bad acts. And so the fact that the jury was focusing on that, I think, is a testament to the fact that the the defense didn't focus.

COATES: And don't forget the reason they were talking about the Karen McDougal in terms of Josh Steinglass' closing was to alert them and say, go back to that phone call. Go back to a meeting in Trump Tower and beyond. Go back to the eyes and ears conversation. That was the most important. They wanted them to focus on that and say, because, remember, that was one of the few times that you actually heard Donald Trump deputizing in a way Michael Cohen, essentially saying, this is the person you have to talk to. If women come up, this is who you're going to be talking to. I'm paraphrasing here. So, you're right, the mention of her and the ancillary issues.

It also is very clear and striking that Stormy Daniels was not -- they tried to discredit her for so many reasons, tried to suggest that her profession and even her name choice was a reason not to believe her, that a person that they tried to paint as somebody who would stop at nothing to get the story out and was motivated by money with someone who you could not believe, and yet this jury appears, we'll wait to see, appears to believe that, well, like Steinglass said, the motive here was Stormy Daniels because who would you essentially want to silence? Who would you have incentive to do so? Somebody who would stop at nothing to get a story out that would be, lo and behold, close to the election.

BLITZER: Yes. It's clear that these 12 members of the jury clearly believed a lot of what Michael Cohen was testifying under oath as well, even though his record as a convicted perjurer was made clear, abundantly clear, especially by the defense.

Everybody stand by. I want to go back to Anderson in New York. Anderson?

COOPER: Wolf, thanks very much. I'm here with Kaitlan Collins and Paul Reid. We are waiting the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to make remarks. That should be happening really at any moment now. This was obviously a big gamble for Alvin Bragg. I mean, we'll also talk to former District Attorney Cy Vance. That office chose not to move forward with charges. Alvin Bragg took another look at this, did move forward. It has been -- you know, there's been a lot of debate. He was in court, to my knowledge, at least twice. I don't think much more than that.

REID: Yes. I think the total is probably three times, and then he came back today. But this is his chance to speak, because over the past year or so, he's taken a very low key approach. He has not spoken publicly about this. It's quite a contrast to some other prosecutors, for example, Attorney General Letitia James here in New York, when she had her cases against Trump, you know, she would hit the microphones on the way in, hit them on the way out, spar with him on social media. Also down in Georgia, right, Fani Willis, she's also been quite vocal. But Alvin Bragg took a different approach, a more traditional prosecutorial approach, not to speak about the case.

Again, like you said, he only appeared in court a few times. The first time we saw him is with some paralegals from his office, had to testify in this case. We also saw him during the testimony by Michael Cohen and then we saw him during closing arguments, but he hasn't really said anything. So, this appears to be the proper context for a prosecutor to speak.

COLLINS: And, obviously, we're waiting to hear from him. He is one of the first people, I mean, the foremost people that Trump attacked throughout this trial.


He was never under the gag order. Trump could attack Alvin Bragg and he really couldn't attack his team. I should note is Alvin Bragg is up to speak going to come onto this lectern any moment now. I'm told that Donald Trump his remaining in New York City tonight.

He's not leaving and going to Florida. He's not going to his Bedminster club in New Jersey either. He is going to stay in the city tonight. He's back at Trump Tower now.

And he's been surrounded by his political team for much of this entire trial legal advisers have been in the room. You saw Jason Miller, one of his political aides with him as he was exiting the courtroom.

What they are now grappling with is how this affects their calendar for the next several weeks. Obviously, CNN's debate is in less than a month from today, and that is for Donald Trump will face Joe Biden for the first time. It's hard to say this doesn't come up at that.

Then over two weeks after that, that's when he is going to have -- a little bit after that he's going to have his first sentencing on July 11 in this case, at 10:00 in the morning, something that the prosecution, the defense, the judge, all agreed to in that courtroom, right before Trump left for the first time.

And then the Republican National Convention is just days after that, the beginning of it, where Trump will be in Milwaukee with the rest of it the Republican Party, many of whom have pledged to still support him, even if he is a convicted felon, which, of course, he now is.

And so, you're seeing how this is also going to obviously impact the political calendar. We'll see if it impacts voters and what they think, but we have seen in polling that there are moderates, there are independents who said that it would change their view and their willingness to vote.

COOPER: Here's Alvin Bragg. Let's listen.


First and foremost, I want to thank the jury for its service. Jurors perform a fundamental civic duty. Their service is literally the cornerstone of our judicial system.

We should all be thankful for the careful attention that this jury paid to the evidence and the law, and their time and commitment over these past several weeks.

Twelve everyday New Yorkers and, of course, our alternates heard testimony from 22 witnesses, including former and current employees of the defendant, media executives, book publishers, custodians of records, and others, they reviewed call logs, text messages, and emails. They heard recordings. They saw checks and invoices, bank statements, and calendar appointments.

This type of white collar prosecution is core to what we do at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. In the 1930s, District Attorney Thomas Dewey ushered in the era of the modern independent professional prosecutor. For now, nearly 90 years, dedicated professionals in his office had built upon that fine tradition. A major part of our practice during that nearly 90 years has been

public integrity work, including cases involving jurists, local and state electeds, public servants, and others.

I want to thank this phenomenal prosecution team embodying the finest traditions of this office professionalism, integrity, dedication, and service. They are model public servants and I am proud and humbled to serve side-by-side with them.

The 12 every everyday jurors vowed to make a decision based on the evidence, and the law, and the evidence and the law alone. Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant, Donald J. Trump, is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree to conceal a scheme to corrupt the 2016 election.

While this defendant may be unlike any other in American history, we arrived at this trial and ultimately today at this verdict in the same manner as every other case that comes to the courtroom doors, by following the facts and the law and doing so without fear or favor.


I want to conclude by expressing deep gratitude to the NYPD and the officers of -- the officers of the Office of Court Administration for securing the courthouse, all of our safety, making sure the courthouse and all of the other matters that are important in their own right continued seamlessly. They will continue to be an always been incredible partners. Thank you.

REPORTER: Do you plan to request a prison sentence? Donald Trump's multiple violations of the gag order that was (INAUDIBLE)

BRAGG: The judge has scheduled a sentencing for July 11th. We will speak in court in that time. He also set a motion schedule. We will speak in our court filings as we've done throughout this proceeding.


BRAGG: I do not.


BRAGG: I did my job. Our job is to follow the facts and the law without fear or favor. And that's exactly what we did here. And what I feel is gratitude to work alongside phenomenal public servants who do that each and every day. It matters that you all write about, make the press, and lots of matters that you don't.

I did my job. We did our job. Many voices out there -- the only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.

REPORTER: Mr. Steinglass, many people said the prosecution was masterful and flawless. Just wanted to know how you feel at this moment. How do you feel?

JOSH STEINGLASS, PROSECUTOR: I'll let you have you it.

BRAGG: Mr. Steinglass, I think some of you probably saw him speak for a little bit the other day. So he's done his job, as has this team, and he just told me, tell them how I feel. I think you said that.

I will just say just enormous gratitude. Our system I talked about the jurors at the beginning of my remarks. We have a phenomenal system.

Twelve every day New Yorkers, they listened to the judge's directions. They follow the evidence. You saw them in court every day there were careful and attentive. And so I feel deep gratitude, work alongside them to be a part of this system.

And I just want to echo that this is what we're doing every single day. I mean, during this trial, just this week, all right, ghost gun indictment, all these wage theft plea resolution, sex crimes, convictions, all sorts of work that's being done by phenomenal public servants.

So we're -- we're before you today on this obviously consequential matter, but this is what we do every day. We follow the facts and the law without fear or favor.

REPORTER: If a jail sentence is on the cards, it's likely that Trump and his attorneys seek a stay on enforcement of that sentence pending appeal. If that were the scenario, would your office object to staying the sentence?

BRAGG: I'm going to let our words in court speak for themselves when we get to the sentencing matter. I'm not going to address hypotheticals. They raise arguments. We'll respond. And I think your question really underscores important point.

This is an active ongoing matter, right? We have other phases of this going ahead, we will continue to do are speaking about this matter about issues like that in court.

REPORTER: From day one, the viability of this case has been questioned. It all sorts of media outlets all over the place, including from the defendant himself. Can you respond to any of that, how you feel now that you've gotten the conviction?

BRAGG: So, my response again is I did my job, and I think particularly, I talked about the history of the office.


You know, my personal history, I started as a prosecutor in 2003 in the Public Integrity Unit in the New York state attorney general's office. I served also in the Public Integrity Unit in the Southern District of New York. These are kind of cases I've done personally. And it's a hallmark of the tradition of this office that I'm proud to lead.

And I don't want to go into the whole body of litigation but we now have a federal court decision ruling on the legal theories. We had a state court decision on the omnibus motions, but most importantly, today, we have the most important voice of all and that's the voice of the jurors. They have spoken.

Donald J. Trump has been convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records. Thank you.


COOPER: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg making brief remarks and not going too much detail about the case, about the various -- the history of this.

I want to bring in former Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, a man who had this job before Alvin Bragg. I appreciate you being with us, Attorney General -- Mr. District Attorney Vance.

I'm wondering, what -- first of all, what your thoughts are on what Alvin Bragg has said and on this verdict?

CY VANCE, FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, I want to preface by, Anderson, saying how -- how deeply I appreciate the excellent work that my former office did under Alvin Bragg now. And this team, this trial team, I think they were superb, both in their dedication to bringing a tough case forward and the execution of that work in trial, which a quick verdict I think reflects -- reflects how well they put this case together.

In terms of how --

COOPER: You spent years investigating this case and eventually handed over to Alvin Bragg?

VANCE: We spent -- we spent several years investigating it. We were slowed down by COVID, but we went to the Supreme Court twice to get access to Trump's financial records and tax returns, which led to the -- his indictment on during my time of the Trump Organization and the CFO. And so, we were -- I think we were the first two or three chapters of this long book that Alvin Bragg has written chapters that same book since I left.

But I congratulate D.A. Bragg. I thought his remarks -- I thought it was a class act. You know, he was circumscribed. He was not boastful. He said he did his job and no more than do his job.

And I think that's how he is presented himself and should be -- it should be recognized for how difficult this was, as the judge should be recognized for how difficult his job was in managing an extraordinarily important trial with some extraordinarily volatile players.

COOPER: There were questions when you were the da about whether you would actually bring charges. You did not when you left office. Alvin Bragg continuing investigation, and did.

Why did you not bring charges while you were in office at that stage? VANCE: Well, Anderson, I don't want to go into our internal conversations while I was district attorney because I think those are determined to be confidential. But we were focusing on the financial aspects of the Trump Organization and individuals in it. The southern district, as you may recall charged Michael Cohen, declined to go further on that case. They asked us to stand down in our investigation, which I did because I thought that was the right thing to do. And we simply move on to a different -- a different -- essentially different lane. And it was in that lane after we had indicted the Trump Organization and the CFO that we were concluded -- continued to pursue, but it's always the new district attorney's responsibility to decide how he wants to move forward.

So it's not so much Anderson, I say, why didn't I, but why did Alvin Bragg? Alvin Bragg saw something that he felt he wanted to pursue that could be pursued productively that was important and I think today vindicates his decision. I applaud them for it, and I applaud the office for it.

COOPER: What -- did you -- are you surprised at all that jurors came back, with a guilty counts on a 34 counts? I mean, each one -- there had been some talk that perhaps they would have find him not guilty on some, some of the easier charges, guilty on. They found him guilty on everything.

VANCE: Obviously, Anderson, I was going -- I didn't know how this case was going to land with the jury, and I think there was a lot of speculation that there was going to be a hung jury and at the end of the day, as I -- as the case was developed and as the trial started you really saw the building blocks, the careful way the prosecution built the building blocks of its case with so much physical evidence, documentary evidence, witness testimony.

So I was really not surprised at this verdict. I think get occurred perhaps a day earlier than I thought it might. I think this was a quick verdict, but I think that reflects the competency of the lawyers who presented it in court.

COOPER: Cyrus Vance Jr., thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Wolf, let's go back to you.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. And, Dana, a lot of folks were bracing were bracing for a decision, but this came very, very quickly.

BASH: It came very quickly, and I have to say that as we kick it back to Erin Burnett, that this is a moment where we are all still digesting the implications and the impact and were not going to know the real impact for a long time.

BLITZER: It's going to be a while. We'll see what happens on July 11 as well. Truly a historic moment for the nation today, the conviction of former president and presumptive Republican president nominee Donald J. Trump.

Stay with CNN for much more on this major breaking story. Erin Burnett picks up our coverage right now.