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Hope Hicks Gets Emotional, Cries On The Stand In Hush Money Trial; Hicks: Michael Chen Was "Inserting Himself" And Going "Rogue" During 2016 Campaign; Hicks Testifies She's "Nervous," Doesn't Look At Trump; Hope Hicks Gets Emotional, Cries On The Stand In Hush Money Trial; Trump Pays $9,000 Fine For Gag Order Violations; Columbia Univ. President: "Protesters Crossed A New Line". Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 03, 2024 - 17:00   ET



Well, coming up on Sunday on State of the Union, Republican Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, plus, Ben Sasse, the former Republican senator and current president of the University of Florida, on the campus protests that have gripped the nation that Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again at noon here on CNN.

Up next, our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer and the "Situation Room." Wolf has a packed show with all the Trump trial details in an interview with a sketch artist who has been inside the courtroom. That's the "Situation Room," it's coming up next.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Breaking news in the Trump hush money criminal trial. A longtime trusted aide to Donald Trump takes the stand, wrapping her blockbuster testimony just a short while ago. Hope Hicks taking jurors inside Trump world as the Stormy Daniels story broke and describing how Trump feared allegations of sexual misconduct would hurt his 2016 presidential campaign. Hicks tearing up at one point as she faced cross examination with her former boss only a few feet away. We'll take you inside the courtroom for all the key moments of the former president's historic criminal trial.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer with a special report in the Situation Room, The Trump Trial Today.

Let's get right to the breaking news on Hope Hicks testimony in the Trump hush money trial, the new revelations, the raw motion and how it all may impact the jurors deciding the former president's fate. CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is outside the courthouse in New York for us.

Paula, so what prompted Hope Hicks to get so emotional on the stand? And what was the line of questioning then?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that was certainly the most dramatic moment that we've had in this trial so far. Now, shortly before she broke down on the stand, she answered some questions that could be really critical to the prosecution's case. For example, she admitted that, in fact, Trump had acknowledged the payment was made at one point and also that Cohen had made it out of, quote, "loyalty." Wolf, that's incredibly significant because not only is Trump acknowledging his awareness that this payment was made, but also that Cohen made it, which undercuts the defense's argument that this was indeed some sort of retainer for general legal services. And then she talked about the fact that this was done for the election and that Trump appreciated that this story was suppressed ahead of the election.

So, this was an incredibly significant moment throughout the course of this trial. That's part of why I think we saw that emotional response.

BLITZER: Quick question before I let you go, Paula. Hope Hicks testified about what she described as the panic within the Trump campaign when learning about the "Access Hollywood" tape. What does she say?

REID: Yes, this is significant, Wolf, because the "Access Hollywood" tape is a key part of the timeline for prosecutors because it reminds the jury just how much pressure there was on the Trump campaign in the month of October 2016 to avoid any additional stories about illicit sexual activity from coming out. In the "Access Hollywood" tape, she described it, quote, "as being very damaging." In fact, she said it was a full blown crisis, something that I think there is consensus about with other top advisors in the 2016 campaign. So it's significant that she testified on the stand about just what a big deal that was because, of course, we know that after that tape is revealed, then Stormy Daniels and her attorney Keith Davidson, they approach the Trump world about getting that hush money payment.

BLITZER: Paula, I want you to stay with us as we bring in some of our legal and political experts as well. First is CNN Legal Analyst Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who was inside the Trump trial for the first time today. We should note that Karen is of counsel for a firm that represents Michael Cohen, but she has no contact with Cohen, does not work on his case, and there are no restrictions on what she can say about this case.

Karen, you said there's nothing like actually seeing this trial up close and in person. Take us inside the high emotions that were going on today.

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So you have to understand, this is a white collar case, right? White collar cases are typically very boring, very dry, and not a lot of emotions. It's very different than, say, a violent crime case where sometimes you have a lot of tears and a lot of very graphic testimony. Yet today, seeing what happened when Hope Hicks broke down in tears was felt like the closest thing to a Perry Mason moment that you will have in a white collar case. So it was after -- it was at the very end of her direct testimony when they were saying -- when she was admitting this evidence that was just crushing on Donald Trump and was very, very strong for the prosecution about how Trump said to her that he was glad that this information came out now instead of this was all after the election.


He was glad it was coming out now instead of before the election, because it was so damaging that these affairs were coming out. And that's exactly what the prosecution has needed is somebody tying Donald Trump's motive, his primary motive, to not wanting this information to come out to the election.

She also, though, did talk about how he didn't want his family to find out either, and that was additionally a motivating factor. So I thought that it was very powerful, though, for that to come out. Also, she came across as very credible. She was very intelligent. She didn't seem like she had an axe to grind.

She was thoughtful. She didn't say things that she didn't remember. She was careful to say, look, I know I might have said that in the grand jury, you're trying to refresh my recollection, but as I sit here today, I don't have any memory of that. She came across as being just very careful and thoughtful and just saying the truth. And I think it really was impactful for her that she knew, it felt like she knew that she had just said something very damaging and she broke down.

BLITZER: Karen, we're told that Trump turned and nodded to Hope Hicks with a small smile as she actually walked out of court after a day -- another day of ups and downs. What were the dynamics like between Hope Hicks and Donald Trump?

AGNIFILO: It's clear that she still has a lot of affection for him as a politician, as a businessman, his family, his ex-wife, his -- she really, really respects him and she was very respectful of him throughout her entire testimony. And that came through loud and clear, which obviously makes her a very powerful witness to the jury. And I think if you're Donald Trump, you can see that, too. So perhaps that's why he did that.

But it's clear they were very close. They went through a lot together. They were on the road together campaigning, and they were together night and day. And so, that was -- that came across loud and clear as well.

BLITZER: Certainly did. What more, Karen, can you tell us about Trump's demeanor today specifically?

AGNIFILO: You know, what struck me about it was how much it felt just like any other criminal case. You didn't see any of theatrics or drama that we heard about and saw in the prior civil cases where he was combative or fighting with the judge or standing up and walking out with the jury or shaking his head and nodding, all that kind of stuff, all the things that we heard about before, you didn't see any of that. He sat there, he paid attention. He'd whisper to his lawyers. They'd pass each other notes or information.

He seemed like he was really paying attention and careful. And the jury also seemed like they were very thoughtful and really just looking at what was happening. So, it felt like any other criminal trial at 100 Center Street that I've seen hundreds of. And he was acting like he was a regular defendant. And it just goes to show, too, that the judge really, I think, has kept control over this courtroom in a good way.

BLITZER: Good point. Karen, standby, I'm going to get back to you.

Ankush Khardori, a former federal prosecutor is with us as well.

Ankush, Hope Hicks was the ultimate Trump insider, shall we say, and a highly anticipated witness for the prosecution. How much did she help build their case today?

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Look, it seems like it was, on balance, a very good day for the prosecution. You know, that dramatic ending that Karen was describing, I mean, that's the end of the week, right, the end of the day on a Friday. So the jurors are going to go home with her testimony at the top of their mind and that image of her on the stand breaking down at the top of their mind.

And I just want to sort of emphasize one point here concerning, you know, Hope Hicks's testimony about the impact on the election. This is very unique and important, obviously, because she is the first Trump campaign insider. But also, you know, you can see what the prosecution is kind of doing here. We've heard from David Pecker about his perspective on the relationship between the hush money scheme and the campaign and from the National Enquirer, we heard from Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Keith Davidson, about his perspective. And now we've heard from Hope Hicks, right?

So we have really principles involved in this transaction from every angle really unanimous on this point, evidently. And I think that it's a key point for the prosecution and a good day for them.

BLITZER: Yes, important point, indeed.

Gloria Borger is with us as well. Let's watch, Gloria, Trump's reaction outside the courtroom just a little while ago. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not allowed to comment on any of that. As you know, I'm under a gag order.

I was very interested in what took place today.


BLITZER: So, Gloria, what does that tell you? And as someone who's covered Hope Hicks and Trump, for that matter, what stood out to you today?


GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, what stood out to me was, first of all, she was under subpoena and didn't really want to be there. And at the end of the day, I wasn't quite sure whether she was more helpful to the prosecution than to the defense because from the prosecution's point of view she made the case that Trump was a micromanager, that he was involved and knew about the Stormy Daniels payments, et cetera. But from the defense point of view, she also made the case that he was concerned about Melania and that this was personal. And so on the one hand she said, well, this was all about the campaign, which, you know, and on the other hand, she said, well, this was personal, which is exactly what the defense wants to say. So I think, you know, it was kind of a mixed bag for the prosecution.

BLITZER: Interesting.

Paula, let me get back to you. Hope Hicks also testified that Michael Cohen tried to, quote, "Insert himself into the 2016 presidential campaign," and would go, quote, "rogue," even though he didn't have any actual role on the campaign. How significant is that?

REID: Well, it's really not the first time we've heard something negative or unflattering about Michael Cohen. As I said, it seems to be the one thing that unites both sides of this case is that nobody has anything nice to say about Michael Cohen, but that is something that potentially defense attorneys could seize on because they could try to use that testimony and said, look, clearly he was freelancing, he wasn't in direct coordination, nor was he working on behalf of the campaign. So it's something that defense attorneys could potentially seize on. She had a lot of other negative things to say about Michael Cohen, suggesting, you know, when Trump said that Cohen paid the hush money out of loyalty, she said she didn't consider himself a very -- consider him a very selfless or charitable person. I mean, a lot of the other witnesses have had unpleasant, unkind, unflattering things to say about Michael Cohen. And that's just, again, making it more difficult for prosecutors who really will ultimately have to pin a lot of their case on him.

BLITZER: And, Karen, the first thing that Hope Hicks said today was that she was nervous. From what you could see, and you were inside the courtroom, how were jurors taking in her testimony, her pivotal testimony in this trial?

AGNIFILO: They seem to be very interested in what she had to say. They seem to be closely paying attention. And that's really what you care about is to see -- is the jury, right, because they're the ones who are going to be making this decision ultimately. But I think it came across -- the one thing that came across is that she was very authentic and seemed to be very credible.

BLITZER: Gloria, Hope Hicks made her admiration for Trump very clear during the course of her testimony. She was describing working with him on the 2016 presidential campaign saying, and I'm quoting her now, "He's a very good multitasker. He's a very hard worker. He always -- he's always doing many things at once." What do you make of that?

BORGER: Well, she still likes him, even though they haven't spoken to each other in the last couple of years. I don't think he liked her testimony before the January 6 committee. But you know, I think she made the point when she's saying he's a multitasker that he was involved in micromanaging in many ways the campaign. And that raises the question of if Trump is a micromanager and a multitasker, how could he distance himself from what Michael Cohen was doing with Stormy Daniels? That seems unreasonable to suggest, but I think that that probably, you know, worked to the prosecution's benefit.

BLITZER: Interesting.

And, Ankush, how did the Trump defense team benefit from Hope Hicks' testimony?

KHARDORI: Yes, I mean, I think Gloria is exactly right in isolating the testimony where she said there was concern about Melania. I'm sure that Trump's lawyers are going to be bringing that up in their closing. And we also, of course, you know, have yet another person in the parade of these witnesses talking about Michael Cohen being sort of self-aggrandizing and a sort of slippery and sort of dishonest person. I don't -- you know, at this point, you know, I don't know how much marginal value that adds, but it is helpful for the defense to have a parade of the government's own witnesses, basically dumping all over the star witness repeatedly and with a fairly uniform critique. So, you know, there were bright spots for the defense here, it wasn't all one sided.

BLITZER: Interesting. Thanks to all of you. Excellent analysis as usual.

Coming up, we're going to go inside the courtroom with one of the sketch artists who witnessed today's very dramatic testimony. Plus, we'll talk with a former judge about the pending gag order ruling. Another one. Stay with us. You're in the Situation Room.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A very dramatic day inside the Trump hush money criminal trial with some of the most significant and compelling testimony yet from a veteran Trump insider, Trump's longtime aide, Hope Hicks. Let's get some insights from a sketch artist who was inside the courtroom capturing all the key moments. Christine Cornell is joining us now from outside the criminal courthouse in New York.

Christine, thanks for all your good work. Thanks very much for joining us. Give us a sense, take us inside the courtroom today when Hope Hicks got very emotional, started to cry, what was it like inside the room?

CHRISTINE CORNELL, SKETCH ARTIST AT TRUMP'S TRIAL: Well, you know, Hope told us right off the bat that she was nervous, and then she was doing really very well. But, you know, my personal thought was when she started talking about how Trump had gone way out of his way to create opportunities for her, and she didn't even take him seriously at first, she thought he was joking, but he'd really, you know, he'd really given her some substantial ways to contribute. And she was -- I think she was personally touched, you know? And I think it hurt her to have to testify against him.


BLITZER: You were there inside the room, how was Hope Hicks's testimony received inside the room?

CORNELL: You know, she was very -- she gave us lots of information. She didn't seem to have too foggy a memory. She was doing very well. I think there was only once when she asked to be, you know, to hear grand jury testimony. But, you know, she gave us a good picture of, honestly, she had daily contact with the man, so she knew him just about as well as anybody possibly could.

BLITZER: And we're showing our viewers your sketches from inside the court room.

CORNELL: When she did get emotional --

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead.

CORNELL: Yes, she didn't actually break down in tears. What happened was, is that you could hear her voice crack a little, and then she stopped talking, and then she ducked her head a little bit, and the judge said, do you want a break? And she nodded, and it was like, they sent the jury out, they sent her out, and we all just waited a few minutes.

BLITZER: It was a dramatic moment, indeed.

CORNELL: I was looking -- yes, I was looking for a connection between Hope and her. You know, I'm quite sure that he was very moved, that she was very moved, you know?

BLITZER: And I don't know if you had a good view of the jury, but how were they reacting? What did you observe?

CORNELL: The jury is so engaged, and, I mean, they're not just attentive, they are really engaged. And you can just see that they're -- you can kind of see the wheels turning when you look at them. They're -- they are as alert could be. And, yes, it's going to be quite interesting to see how this all shakes out.

BLITZER: Certainly will be.

CORNELL: The defense said -- yes, the defense said, like, you know, he's really feeling badly about his wife. I'm not sure that's really a defense, but, I mean, it's nice to hear, you know?


CORNELL: It certainly -- he got humanized today. He really did.

BLITZER: What else stood out -- what else, Christine --

CORNELL: That was important.

BLITZER: -- what else stood out to you today from Donald Trump's demeanor inside the courtroom?

CORNELL: You mean when she was on the stand?

BLITZER: Yes, when she was testifying.

CORNELL: I mean, he was very --

BLITZER: What stood out to you about Trump's demeanor?

CORNELL: That he was looking at her, that he was leaning forward. That he was -- did he stop and talk to his lawyers at some point? I think he did. You know, this is a troublesome witness for him because she looks -- you know, she's very intimate.

BLITZER: Yes, I think we've just lost our connection with Christine, but she's obviously very, very well plugged inside that courtroom every day and sharing those sketches with us and all of our viewers. Thanks to you, Christine, very, very much.

Up next, we'll get reaction today's blockbuster testimony from two people who were also -- who also used to be in Donald Trump's inner circle. Standby for that.



BLITZER: We're back with our special report on the Trump hush money criminal trial. Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testifying today about what she described as the crisis inside the 2016 Trump presidential campaign as the "Access Hollywood" video tape, the story broke shortly before the presidential election. Joining us now, two former Trump world insiders, David Urban, a former Trump campaign advisor, and Olivia Troye, a former homeland security advisor to then Vice President Mike Pence.

David, you worked on the 2016 campaign with Hope Hicks. Much of her testimony today focused on the, quote, "crisis around that access Hollywood videotape." What were your takeaways from today with your experience working for Trump in mind?

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, so, Wolf, I was there -- I was there during that weekend in October when that "Access Hollywood" tape came out and it was a crisis is alluded to is a lot of nervousness amongst the campaign, you know, which passed in the coming days. But you know, it was clear that Hope didn't want to be there. She was there under subpoena. She is very fond of the former president. As was evident, she got a little choked up there.

I think the gravity of all probably hit her. She's -- Hope is incredibly competent, professional, well liked. You know, the president liked her, the staff liked her, and she did what she had to do. She answered the questions truthfully. But I think at the end of the day, as the sketch artist said, you heard a sketch artist say, she humanized Trump to a bit today. And I think that's got to be good for the defense in this case, for the former president. BLITZER: You make an important point.

Olivia, you, of course, know Hope Hicks well. You worked closely with her. What was going through your mind today while following her testimony?

OLIVIA TROYE, FMR. DHS ADVISER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: You know, I kept thinking about how hard today must have been for her. To be honest, I mean, look, David's right. She worked with a lot of us on the staff. I worked closely with her especially in 2020 during COVID. Many of us sought her counsel at times because she really understood Trump's mentality and his thinking.

She was very trusted. I know at times my own former boss, Mike Pence, sought her counsel. And she was kind of the person in the room that Trump would turn to in meetings and bypass everyone else and say, Hope, what do you think? And so, you know, when they talked about her being teary eyed, I think that was the culmination probably of her thinking of everything that she has lived and been through and just trying to balance, like, the moral dilemma right there, right? Yes. I mean, she's trying to tell the truth. She's trying to just be factual about what she knows.

But she's also part of this circle and trying to figure out how do you protect someone that possibly care about in a family that you really have worked closely with it? And I'll say this, I don't -- I never saw Hope Hicks as a political ideologue, per se. I didn't see her as this, you know, of a Stephen Miller type or anybody related to that circle. I just saw her as someone who was close to Jared and Ivanka and Trump and was just there to work with them, help them in moments of crisis. She clearly understood his dynamic and was a key player in that role.

BLITZER: Yes. You make an important point. David, Hope Hicks said today during her testimony that Michael Cohen was, quote, inserting himself into the 2016 presidential campaign. She said this, and I'm quoting her now, he liked to call himself a fixer or Mr. Fix it. And it was only because he first broke it that he was able to then fix it. What do you make of that?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Yes, look, you know, Wolf, there's some audio that was played, and I'm sure we'll hear more of it where, you know, which, by the way, Michael Cohen surreptitiously recorded of him and the former president, where they're discussing this payment. And he says, no, no, no. I got it. I'll take care of it. I talked to Allen. I'll take care of it. Don't worry about it.

And I'm sure you're going to hear that theme moving forward, that, you know, he creates crises so that he can fix them and be important in the Trump orbit, right? And I think that's a theme that will be played out and the defense will pull that thread as we move forward.

BLITZER: Yes. They certainly will. Olivia, Hope Hicks was describing working with Trump on his 2016 presidential campaign in the communications area, saying, and I'm quoting her now, it was just me and Mr. Trump who is better than anybody at communications and branding. We knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it. We were all just following his lead. What did that say to you about Hope Hicks's loyalty to Trump?

TROYE: Look, I think it was unwavering. And in her own words, as she's saying, I mean, Trump knows what he wants to say and he means it. And he gets it out there. And I think her job was just to follow his marching orders and she would execute at his direction. And so I think, you know, when it comes to that, I think this is a relationship between them that lasted, you know, several years. And when she left, I, you know, it was very clear that he, you know, there was reporting on that where he didn't want to let her go. He wanted her back in his orbit because that is the one confidant that he had in a circle that he trusted.

And, you know, it was hard to penetrate that circle. And I think towards the end, as you know, there were a lot of defections that happened. And I think Trump became very weary of those people. And so I think that was the beginning of the campaign. So I can only imagine, like, if she was his trusted confidant and the right hand person, that tells you just how credible her testimony is and her insights today about what happened. And I -- look, I think I've heard others say this. I think it served both sides of the case today.

BLITZER: Yes. Important point. David, Hope Hicks described Trump as being a very involved manager. Does that help the prosecution tie Trump to the hush money payments in this particular case?

URBAN: Yes, Wolf, I'm sure, look, I'm sure the prosecution will try to paint it that way, right? They'll say, you heard Ms. Hicks up here saying he's very involved, but is he involved in doing his own taxes? Is he involved in how this -- because, again, this is a paper case. This is about how these documents were filed. Is he involved at that granular level, filing this, you know, report with the New York state, was he that involved? And that's the leap that the prosecution has to make here and has to convince the jurors of beyond a reasonable doubt.

And I'd say that's a canyon as wide as the Grand Canyon. They're going to make a big jump. I'm not sure that this testimony they got them there.

BLITZER: David Urban and Olivia Troye, to both of you, thank you very much. And just ahead, there's breaking news --

URBAN: Thanks Wolf.


BLITZER: -- about the $9,000 Donald Trump owes for violating the gag orders in his hush money trial. That's next.


BLITZER: We're back with breaking news on the $9,000 Donald Trump was fined for violating the judge's gag order in the hush money trial. CNN's chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is back with us. She's outside the courthouse in New York. What are you learning, Paula? PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: We've learned that former President Trump has paid that $9,000 fine. Now, on Tuesday, the judge in this case fined Trump $9,000 for what he found were nine violations of the gag order in this case. And our colleague Kara Scannell has learned that Trump paid this fine yesterday. And it's interesting, it was paid in two cashier's checks, one for $2,000 and one for $7,000 at the court clerk's office.

Now, we are still waiting, however, for the judge's decision on four additional alleged violations of the gag order. Attorneys for the defense and the prosecution argued about those alleged violations yesterday in court, but the judge has not rendered his decision on those violations.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens when he does. All right, Paula, thank you very much for that update. Here to discuss that and more, retired California Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell. Judge, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, Judge, Juan Merchan today ruled Trump can't be asked about his violations of the gag order if he were to testify. Are you surprised by that?


LADORIS CORDELL, RETIRED JUDGE, SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA: Not at all. The gag order and the violations are a separate proceeding, even though they're a part of the trial, technically, they're a separate proceeding. So they really don't have any relevance to the issues that's presented at trial, whether or not there was election interference. So that's not surprising. And it is the proper ruling, in my view.

BLITZER: It was interesting today that the judge specifically clarified that the gag order he imposed doesn't prohibit Trump from testifying in this case. Who do you think that message was directly was directed at?

CORDELL: The message was directed at Trump, but obviously also to his MAGA base. This is another example, Wolf, of Donald Trump just blatantly lying, going out in front and saying the gag order says, I can't even testify in my own trial. That's absurd. But there are people who will believe anything that comes out of this man's mouth. So the judge was very quick to say to Donald Trump, no, that's not true. That is a lie. He can testify if he so chooses. It has nothing to do with the gag order, which really brings up the point you made in your first question to me, they are two separate issues.

BLITZER: Good point. The judge has yet to rule on the additional four alleged gag order violations brought up against Trump this week by the prosecutors. What are you expecting?

CORDELL: Before I answer that, let me just add one thing to the testifying statement made by Donald Trump. He has been talking about how he's going to testify no matter what. And I think he's using these most recent statements to back out of it, to basically say, I'm not going to testify, not because I don't have the courage to do it or I've changed my mind, but the judge won't let me. So I think that's another purpose for his saying that.

Now, with regard to the four violations before the judge, I believe the judge will, may not find a violation. He's talking about Michael Cohen. Why? The judge issued the gag order to keep Donald Trump from intimidating witnesses. That's part -- one of the reasons. Well, Michael Cohen has been intimidated because Trump even retaliated against him.

His people did, and had him put back in jail for putting out publishing a book. So if the purpose is not being served, that is Michael Cohen is just responding back. There appears to be not that intimidation, he might find there's not a violation of the gag order with regard to Michael Cohen going forward. With the others, particularly with the jury, I think the judge will find violations.

And if that were to happen, we know the options. The options are $1,000 fine for each violation or go to jail. In my view, the judge will probably impose the fine again. And the judge has already lamented the fact that he can't increase the fines because the statute in New York is such that he can't do that.

BLITZER: And you think it's unlikely he would actually send Trump to jail if he continues to violate the gag order?

CORDELL: Well, I think he will actually impose a jail sentence, but not for these four violations or three, however many he finds because they occurred before the judge issued the statement to Trump saying, going forward, you do this again, you are looking at incarceration. So I think going forward, absolutely the judge is looking at that. And I don't believe if the judge does this, and I hope actually if there's another violation, it's the only thing the judge can do, it's not going to disrupt the trial. If the judge says, I'm going to sentence you to jail, but I'm going to impose it at the conclusion of the trial so there won't be any disruption, but Trump will have this hanging over his head for the duration of the trial.

BLITZER: And if he were to send Trump to jail during the course of the trial, that would totally disrupt the trial, right?

CORDELL: Absolutely. So then again, it depends on how much time he gives them. If he says to Trump, you're going in on the weekend, then that wouldn't be a disruption of the trial. That's a possibility, but I think the judge won't because that's the time that Trump spends campaigning and the judge is trying to, I guess, balance these, you know, his own, Trump's own First Amendment rights. So it could be disruptive. That's why I think he won't do it right during the day when there's trial. And so the weekends are a possibility, but I think the better way is just impose it at the end of the trial.

BLITZER: At what point, Judge, would you, as a judge consider actually jailing the former president of the United States?

CORDELL: You know, it's not rocket science, Wolf. I mean, if someone comes into my court and they're consistently violating the orders of the court, and I only have the options of finding the person, and that doesn't seem to have any traction. That's the only thing left. It's not a deal. You know, so with regard to Trump, yes, they'll find, you know, a cell where he can be in solitary confinement, and he's not going to like it. And jail isn't a place to be liked. It's where you don't want to go, which is why hopefully it will be a deterrent.


But I just don't think that we should make this a big deal. You know, this judge is not being reluctant. This Judge Merchan, he's being deliberate. He is covering every base so that when he does make an order saying, you're going to jail, I believe it's going to be appeal proof, meaning he will have done everything he could have possibly done before saying, OK, you're going in, and maybe that will have the effect on Donald Trump.

BLITZER: Excellent analysis. Thank you so much, former Supreme Court Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell. Appreciate it very much.

CORDELL: Thank you Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead, the president of Columbia University just releasing a new video message in the wake of this week's turmoil on the campus. We're going to tell you what she said. That's next.



BLITZER: There's breaking news right now. A new video statement just released by the president of Columbia University calling the past two weeks on campus, and I'm quoting her now, the most difficult in Columbia's history. She also condemned protesters who, quote, crossed a new line. Listen to this.


MINOUCHE SHAFIK, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: The University made a sincere and good offer, but it was not accepted. A group of protesters crossed a new line with the occupation of Hamilton Hall. It was a violent act that put our students at risk.


BLITZER: Let's discuss what's going on with Jeh Johnson. He's a member of the Columbia University Board of Trustees and he served as the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary during the Obama administration. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us. What's your reaction to this message from Columbia University's President Minouche Shafik?

JEH JOHNSON, TRUSTEE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I support it and agree with every word. I can attest as a trustee of Columbia that the decisions that she faced were among the most delicate and complex that I've seen in or out of government. And what we brought to the considerations here were several overriding principles, Wolf. One is that no constitutional right is absolute or unqualified and particularly with regard to the First Amendment, freedom of speech. Whether you're a university, a city, a town or a village, or as your last segment alluded to regarding gag orders, someone has to be in a position to regulate time, place and manner for the exercise of free speech.

The other overriding principle here, Wolf, is that a university president and the trustees as well have an overriding responsibility to the safety and welfare of all students and the university itself. You know, when you're 18 or 19, it is still the case that parents expect universities and colleges to keep their kids safe when they send them off to school. And as Dr. Shafik alluded to, things escalated earlier this week to criminal vandalism occupying Hamilton Hall. And that left us with no choice. We brought in the police at our request.

I'm happy to say that the NYPD is among the most professional police forces in the world. And they conducted the operation to remove the protesters from Hamilton Hall with remarkable professionalism and it attests to their remarkable work.

BLITZER: So you clearly were comfortable with the police response at Columbia University in New York. And what about other universities across the country where students and faculty have been reporting what they described as excessive uses of force by law enforcement?

JOHNSON: Well, I'll say it this way, Wolf. Each university situation is unique. It's unique in its dynamics, in the diversity. And anytime you introduce law enforcement, police to a campus, a college campus, where tensions are high. There is a huge risk, there's a huge risk that violence could escalate, get out of control, someone is hurt. And were mindful of that earlier this week when we asked the police to come onto the Columbia campus.

But fortunately, in the case of Columbia, and I can't speak to other universities, the NYPD conducted themselves with remarkable professionalism.

BLITZER: Interesting. As you know, President Biden yesterday condemned the campus protesters as simply going too far. He also said these protests have changed nothing about his policies toward Israel. Is he doing enough, you think, to lead the country during this very, very challenging time?

JOHNSON: My answer is yes. And my concern is there is a very, very legitimate issue around the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza. And with what we've seen on college campuses, my concern is that we in America are losing sight of the very reason why some people began to take to the streets to demonstrate. A number of protesters are nonviolent. They're well meaning. They want to highlight the plight of the Palestinian people. My fear is that and anti-Semitism, the concerns about anti-Semitism are being lost in the current escalated climate here in this country.

BLITZER: Let's hope things calm down. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, thanks, as usual for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

[17:54:45] BLITZER: Coming up, there's more breaking news on the Trump trial as our special report continues with new reaction to Hope Hicks's testimony from a former member of the January 6th Select Committee and a deep dive into Hope Hicks's personal and professional relationship with the former president.


BLITZER: Breaking news in the Trump trial, the biggest name witness yet, longtime Trump aide, Hope Hicks, testifies about the Stormy Daniels hush money payment at the center of this criminal case, describing a crisis, her word, a crisis within the 2016 Trump campaign and shedding tears on the witness stand.


Standby for new firsthand accounts of the trial as Donald Trump watched his former employee and trusted confidant get very emotional while testifying against him.