Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Judge Denies Trump's Requests for Mistrial and to Modify Gag Order; New Transcript of Stormy Daniels' Tense Final Testimony in Trump Trial; New Transcript From Trump Hush Money Trial Just Released. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 09, 2024 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: When the final car rolls off the assembly line later this year in Kansas City, Kansas, G.M. will retool the factory to make electric vehicles. Both G.M. and Ford have phased out gas- powered sedans to concentrate on larger and more popular SUVs, trucks, sports cars and electric vehicles.

If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show whence you get your podcast. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Breaking news tonight in the Trump trial, the judge denies Donald Trump's new request for a mistrial and refuses to modify the gag order, the Trump team urging the judge to intervene after Stormy Daniels' salacious testimony about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

This as a new transcript of Daniels' combative Cross examination has just been released, the defense repeatedly attacking her credibility and truthfulness while trying to use her work as an adult film star against her.

For the next hour, we'll take you inside the courtroom from gavel to gavel, as the historic hush money case unfolds, breaking down all of today's most important developments and looking ahead to what's next.

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.

An eventful day of breaking news in the Trump trial capped by the judge's back-to-back rulings just a short while ago, denying Trump's request for a mistrial and for a modification of his gag order.

Let's go right to CNN's Kara Scannell. She's outside the courthouse in New York for us. Kara, walk us through the last-minute legal wrangling following the final testimony by Stormy Daniels.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, those two rulings against Trump's team, the judge denying Trump's request to modify the gag order because Trump said he wanted to respond to Stormy Daniels' testimony, saying it was something that voters should hear. But the judge denied that saying he needed to protect the integrity of these proceedings as well as the witnesses past and future.

Now, Trump also asked for a mistrial, citing some of the details that Stormy Daniels gave in her testimony. The judge put the blame on Trump's attorney saying that he couldn't understand why they were not objecting more, especially when the prosecution asked her about the use of a condom. He said, I do not understand why Trump's lawyer didn't do that.

Now, this comes after a day of combative testimony between Stormy Daniels and Trump's attorney.


SCANNELL (voice-over): Back on the stand, Stormy Daniels, the adult film star at the center of former President Donald Trump's hush money case.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you'll see some very revealing things today.

SCANNELL: Trump's lawyer, Susan Necheles, spent over two hours attacking Daniels' credibility during Thursday morning's cross- examination. Necheles pointed to Daniels history of making pornographic films, saying, you have a lot of experience making phony stories about sex appear to be real. Daniels responded, wow, that's not how I would put it. The sex in the films is very much real, just like what happened to me in that room, referring to her alleged sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies.

Daniels previously testified that the night of their alleged affair, she felt feint while she saw Trump posing on the bed in his T-shirt and boxers. Necheles questioned why that scene would be so upsetting since she appeared in about 150 sex films. Daniels testified it was because she was not expecting a man twice her age to be naked. Necheles argued Daniels gained publicity from her story and media appearances, like her interview on 60 Minutes.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And you had sex with him?


COOPER: You were 27, he was 60. Were you physically attracted to him?


SCANNELL: And she argued Daniels profited it off the alleged affair, pointing to a book deal and documentary, Daniels selling her gear on her website, like hashtag Team Stormy T-shirts, and going on a strip club tour called Making America Horny Again, a name which Daniels testified she fought tooth and nail against.

Asked if she celebrated Trump's indictment by selling merchandise, like her Saint of Indictments candle, Daniels retorted, not unlike Mr. Trump. Trump's lawyer, trying to find inconsistencies in her story, pressed Daniels about her dinner with Trump.

COOPER: Did you two go out for dinner that night?


COOPER: You had dinner in the room?


SCANNELL: Necheles said Daniels changed her story. On Tuesday, Daniels testified they did not have dinner. Daniels defended herself, saying just because they met for dinner does not mean they ate. Saying, I've maintained that I didn't see any food. It was dinner, but we never got food.

The two also went back and forth about an old tweet Daniels sent that said she is quote, the best person to flush the orange turd down.


Necheles argued the tweet meant she'd be instrumental in putting Trump in jail. Daniels disagreed, saying, I don't see instrumental or jail anywhere in that. You're putting words in my mouth.

Also on the stand, Trump's former White House assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, whose desk was right outside the Oval Office. The jury reviewed a contact list of people Trump spoke most to, which was sent to Westerhout that included Cohen, tabloid executive David Pecker among others. Westerhout testified about an email confirming a February 2017 meeting between Trump and Cohen in the Oval Office.

Prosecutors allege Cohen and Trump worked out the reimbursement for the hush money payment at the crux of the case in the Oval Office that month.

She also confirmed that in her experience, Trump liked to read things before signing them. Westerhout explained that checks were regularly sent about twice a month from the Trump Organization to Washington. She described bringing them in for Trump to sign and would then FedEx them back to the company.


SCANNELL (on camera): Now, Wolf, Westerhout did become emotional and cried on the stand when she recounted how she lost her job at the White House due to a youthful indiscretion. She said she wrote a book because she didn't think Donald Trump was being treated fairly. And she also said that she spoke about Trump's relationship with Melania, his wife, saying that they were very fond of each other. She recounted how Trump would be in the Oval Office and Melania in the residence. He would call her and tell her to come to the window so they could wave to each other.

Now, one witness we learned that the prosecution is not going to call, Karen McDougal, another woman who's David Pecker, the American Media publisher of the National Enquirer, that was one story that they bought in that catch and kill deal, she will not be taking the stand. Wolf?

BLITZER: Interesting. Very interesting indeed. Kara Scannell outside the courthouse in New York for us, thank you very much.

Let's break all this down with our legal and political experts. And, Elliot Williams, I'll start with you. What's your reaction to the judge's decision to deny another long shot defense request for a mistrial?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Again, a mistrial is an error that happens at trial that is so grave that it jeopardizes the defendant's ability to have a fair trial. It can happen in the form of testimony that should have never gotten in or someone's behavior and trial that that was so egregious.

Here, it was not out of the question that the judge would have denied this mistrial. Now, it was important for the defense to put it on the record and make the motion, but there's nothing that's different today than the last time he granted a mistrial. They simply have not agreed with some of the rulings that the judge has made, but there's nothing that has jeopardized the defendant's ability to get a fair trial here.

BLITZER: Interesting. Michael Moore, the judge also denied a defense request to modify the gag order, if you will. The judge saying your client's track record speaks for itself here. I can't take your word for it.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No big surprise either that he didn't do that. And, frankly, I think probably with the fact that the appellate court has sped up the briefing schedule on the gag order issue, it's a good ruling for the defense to have him come out and say, I'm not going to change it at all. Because the argument they're making, and I think will make in their briefs, is that it's too broad, it's too vague. And so this request would have given the judge a chance to sort of clean up the order. And that might have given the appellate court enough confidence that they didn't need to do anything.

But, clearly, Trump has a track record of not following the gag order. That's not been good for him. But at the same time, now the appellate court will look at it and say, but did the judge go too far in issuing the order in the first place? Was it just say, you know, you can't even mention the word, juror? Is that what it, is that really what it says? And I think they may find that's too vague an order.

BLITZER: Interesting point. You know, Katelyn, this was another very combative day for the cross-examination by the Trump legal defense team,

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Right, a very intense questioning of Stormy Daniels by Susan Necheles, one of the defense lawyers for Donald Trump.

Throughout the morning, there were a lot of moments where the defense team tried to point out Stormy Daniels may have changed her story a little bit from what the story she was telling in 2018 when this first came out to what she's testifying under oath about Donald Trump. So, they're digging into all of these little, little tiny things, length of time that Stormy Daniels had talked about, if they ate dinner the night of this alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump.

One of those exchanges is about an article published in 2018 telling Stormy Daniels' story about this sexual encounter. And Susan Necheles says, okay, you claim that that's in the article, in the cold article. And Stormy Daniels says, I don't know what's in the cold article, but my story hasn't changed. The defense lawyer, you didn't say that then, did you? Stormy Daniels, I don't know.

Susan Necheles, and in '20, your story has changed, hasn't it? Stormy Daniels says, no, not at all. You're trying to make me say that it changed, but it hasn't changed, just a flavor of what this is like in the courtroom and what the jury has to think about as they're determining whether Stormy Daniels is credible.


BLITZER: Good point. Let me follow up with Nia-Malika Henderson. Do you think the tough cross-examination of Stormy Daniels today benefited the defense?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don't think it benefited the defense. I think it probably benefited Trump's ego, right? I mean, I think he came in today, we'd all heard that they were going to keep her on the stand and delve into things, and delve into details, in some ways, to try to damage her credibility, but I also think to try to turn her into sort of a nasty woman, right, who would do and say anything, who didn't have any credibility, who would make things up, who was after money.

But she essentially said, yes, I'm sort of all those things, and I think made the case for the prosecution that Donald Trump probably would want to shut this person up, who's very charismatic, very sort of relatable in so many ways in terms of the way she was parrying back and forth with defense attorneys.

And even, I think, what she was saying there, at some point she said during the testimony, I think on Tuesday, that she blacked out, right, when she was with Donald Trump. His team wanted to go in and kind of clean that up. And she was like, yes, she was not under any duress. This wasn't a non-consensual sexual situation at all. And even that, I think what she probably really meant was that she kind of tuned it out, you know, and kind of, you know, went out of her body when she was having this dalliance with Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS: Yes. I'd go even further than that and say that much of the cross-examination that happened today did not need to happen and shouldn't have happened. Look, Tuesday, when Stormy Daniels was cross- examination, cross-examined, the defense got two things out of her. Number one, she made inconsistent statements. Number two, they established that she had, or at least suggested that she had a financial interest in coming forward, that she made money and sort of was, in effect, kind of calling her a grifter, right? They did not need to go where they went today. The damage had been done yesterday. And they actually shot themselves in the foot here with a couple things. Number one, like Kara had said in the report at the top of this, they asked a question and she said, well, you're trying to make money here, and Stormy Daniels responds, yes, just like Mr. Trump. Boom, that's a devastating point that you just got mocked the defendant there in front of everybody.

Another one was Susan Necheles had asked about the indictment, and Stormy Daniels said, which indictment? There's a lot of indictments. And, again, it's just, they opened the door to that, and it really worked against them.

BLITZER: It was interesting, Michael, I thought that the defense tried various times to suggest that Stormy Daniels' profession, her profession as an adult film star, made her much less credible. Did they go too far?

MOORE: They went too far by even having her on the stand the second day. What would have been a great strategy would have just stood up this morning and said we don't have any further questions and caught the prosecution flat footed. There was nothing else to gain. I mean, if they wanted to ask any question, it might have been, did you ever see or hear the former president direct anybody to falsify business records? And she's going to have to say no. And that's really all that matters in the case.

So, by talking about her career as an adult film star, by talking about whether or not they ate dinner or didn't eat dinner, they spanked with this or rolled up that, whatever it was, those things are -- that has nothing to do with this case. But they've sort of taken the bait, and maybe it's because of trying to protect ego and, you know, this reputational idea, but a great strategy would have just been to say, you know, basically send the message to the jury that the prosecution is putting up stuff that doesn't even matter. And then when it's the end of the case, I can say you hadn't heard one witness say Trump gave the direction to --

WILLIAMS: One of the most important things as a lawyer is know when to say --

MOORE: That's exactly right.

WILLIAMS: Just get out of there. And they did not do that.

POLANTZ: Actually, they, they did do what you're saying. Yes, one of the things that they've done with every witness nearly is to try and create distance between the person testifying and Donald Trump himself. They did that with Stormy Daniels. This was the exact exchange.

BLITZER: This is from the just released transcript.

POLANTZ: Yes, with Stormy Daniels. So, Susan Necheles questioning again, you don't know what he was indicted for in this case. You don't have any idea. And Stormy Daniels said, business records. And Susan Necheles said, and you know nothing about the business records, right? Stormy Daniels replied, I know, knowing about his business records, no. Why would I? I know nothing about his business records.

And she said, you know nothing about what he does or does not know about the business records, right? And Stormy Daniels said, no.

HENDERSON: And that should have been the sum total of their conversation --

MOORE: That's right.

HENDERSON: -- with Stormy Daniels.

BLITZER: So, that's it. All right, guys, everybody stand by. There's a lot more coming up. Just ahead, we'll have more on those major rulings during the trial today, the judge refusing to change the gag order on Trump, and, again, denying his request for a mistrial. We'll talk about that and more with a former judge.

Stand by. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news tonight in the Trump hush money trial, the former president lashing out after his lawyers failed once again to convince the judge that Stormy Daniels' sometimes graphic testimony warranted a change of his gag order against Trump, and a mistrial for that matter. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The judge, what he did, and what his ruling was, is a disgrace. Everybody saw what happened today. He's a corrupt judge and he's totally conflicted.


BLITZER: Joining me now, retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, who served on the Superior Court of California. Judge Cordell, thank you so much for joining us.

As you heard, Trump is clearly unhappy with Judge Merchan's ruling, but in defending his gag order, Judge Merchan cited the quote, and I'm quoting him now, the very real, very threatening attacks on potential witnesses, end quote, by Trump. Was this the right decision on the part of the judge?

LADORIS CORDELL, RETIRED JUDGE, SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA: Thank you for inviting me, Wolf. Donald Trump is never happy with any of the rulings of this judge and especially with the gag order.


Did the judge do the right thing? Of course, the judge did. The judge knew that if he were to lift the gag order with regard to Ms. Daniels, that Donald Trump would go out and say horrible things about her and attack her, and, of course, basically endanger her life.

And also, the judge was quite clear that if I allow you to do this, Mr. Trump, you're not going to be polite in your comments about her. And it will basically raise an alarm for other witnesses scheduled to testify, that when they're done testifying and the gag order is lifted, that Donald Trump is coming after them.

Now, this was absolutely the right thing to do. This trial is in a courtroom, not outside. And the fact that Donald Trump feels that, well, she said these things under oath and I should be able to attack her outside the courtroom, no, no, he's really wants to turn this into this schoolyard brawl of, you know, a bunch of elementary school kids. That's not what this is about and the judge did absolutely the right thing.

BLITZER: Following a stormy Daniels salacious testimony, Trump's attorney once again made a request for a mistrial. Judge Merchan denied that as well, saying, and I'm quoting him now. The more specificity Ms. Daniels can provide about the encounter, the more the jury can weigh whether the encounter did occur, and if so, whether they choose to credit Ms. Daniels' story. First of all, do you agree?

CORDELL: Oh, absolutely. This is the second request for a mistrial. And it's important to note that the judge, when he denied the second request for mistrial told them that he went back and reviewed his first order. And he realized and remembered that during the opening statement of the prosecutor, and this is what the judge said in court today, that they basically --- excuse me, the defense, the opening statement of the defense, basically said that there was no sexual encounter and that Ms. Daniels was a liar.

So, right there, that opened the door for them to establish that the encounter occurred and also that she was credible. But for the defense taking a stance like this never happened, there wouldn't have even been the need for her to testify at all. They opened the door and the prosecution just walked right in.

BLITZER: Interesting. Stormy Daniels was on the stand over these past few days for more than seven hours total. Did her testimony actually tie Trump to the illegal activity alleged in this case?

CORDELL: So she was on the stand that many hours and the approach to her was the blame and shame approach by the defense. The only two important questions really that were asked about the crime here, which is connecting Donald Trump to this cover-up were the last two questions. And, basically, she said, I never saw any documents, and I have no idea what Donald Trump did or did not do. So, those were the questions that were of most important to this crime that was alleged, and actually helped Donald Trump, and they weren't asked until the very end.

BLITZER: As you know, we also heard today from a former Trump Organization bookkeeper, another bookkeeper, and a White House assistant. What do you see as the importance of their testimony?

CORDELL: So, here, we're back to the story. The prosecution is telling a story and laying basically the foundation. So, we're now at another part, we have the sexual encounter. And if the jurors believe that that happened, then there is a reason why payments were made.

So, that's what's happening next. And now that the key to the prosecution case, Wolf, is follow the money and follow the documents and that's really what this case eventually is going to be about.

BLITZER: Important points. Judge LaDoris Cordell, thank you very much for joining us.

And coming up, CNN's Anderson Cooper is standing by to join us in The Situation Room. I'll ask him about a 2018 interview he did with Stormy Daniels, which once again came up during today's trial.

Plus, we're tracking new reaction to President Biden's warning the United States won't supply Israel with specific weapons for a full scale invasion of Rafah in Southern Gaza. What former President Trump is now saying about that Biden decision.



BLITZER: Let's get some more now in today's very dramatic testimony from Stormy Daniels in the Donald Trump hush money trial. CNN's Anderson Cooper is joining us live from New York right now.

Anderson, you interviewed Stormy Daniels back in 2018 and I want to play a little bit of that interview. listen to this.


DANIELS: I realized exactly what I'd gotten myself into and I was like here we go. And I just felt like maybe it was sort of I had it coming for making a bad decision for going to someone's room alone. And I just heard the voice and, well, you put yourself in a bad situation and bad things happen, so you deserve this.


BLITZER: Anderson, that interview with you and Stormy Daniels was brought up once again today in Stormy Daniels' testimony. What did you think?

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it was brought up quite a bit today, both the prosecution side and the defense. I think, you know, what the defense was trying to do was all throughout the morning, point out any irregularities between the various interviews that Stormy Daniels had done going all the way back to an In Touch magazine interview in 2011, which was, in Stormy Daniels words, you know, she didn't go into a lot of detail.


She kind of glossed over details. She didn't mention Donald Trump's bodyguard, Keith Schiller, as the one, as being the point of contact. That was brought up repeatedly by the defense.

And in the 60 Minutes interview, Stormy Daniels, you know, when she testified on Tuesday under prosecution questioning, she brought up this idea of sort of feeling like she blacked out, although she didn't lose consciousness and she wasn't drugged in any way or had any alcohol, she said. But the way her hands felt, the way the kind of room -- sort of her head felt like it was spinning, that was new in the sense she had not said that before, certainly not in the 60 Minutes interview in 2018.

And I think that was something that the defense was trying to hammer about any kind of differences what they would call inconsistencies as far as the prosecution is concerned. You know, she may have focused on different details, but, clearly, they did not feel that her account was in the important ways, really any significantly different.

BLITZER: We also learned late today, Anderson, that the prosecution is not going to call Karen McDougal. How do you think the defense is taking that news?

COOPER: I don't think it's any surprise for the defense. I mean, I think that it had the prosecution wanted to call in Karen McDougal, they would have done this sooner in terms of the timeline of the case that they are building and the chronological timeline of the events. They could have done it much closer to the time that David Pecker testified or Keith Davidson, who is also Karen McDougal's attorney as well.

You know, I hesitate to put myself in the mind of the defense because but the defense has to deal with both trying to win their case and do what's best for winning their case, they also have to deal with a very difficult client in the former president. You know, I think every legal analyst who was watching this today, or at least a lot of them, certainly were talking about how some of the questioning -- the defense questioning of Stormy Daniels today seemed like it was more about appeasing Donald Trump, who was clearly very upset and agitated Tuesday by the testimony of Stormy Daniels, repeatedly kind of nudging his attorneys to object more. It seemed like a number of the questions today, a number of the lines of questioning were maybe coming from Donald Trump himself, less so from a legal need as far as the defense team.

So, I'm sure they were relieved not to have to figure out a way to cross-examine Karen McDougal again. It's not really germane to what the alleged crime that the prosecution has to prove is.

BLITZER: Interesting. Anderson Cooper, as usual, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, don't forget, Anderson will be back later tonight, 8:00 P.M. Eastern with his program, AC360. We'll be watching.

And just before Donald Trump walked into court this morning, he took a moment to slam President Biden, who told CNN's Erin Burnett, the United States will cut off certain weapons to Israel if the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, launches a full scale invasion of Rafah. Listen.


TRUMP: What Biden is doing with respect to Israel is disgraceful. If any Jewish person voted for Joe Biden, they should be ashamed of themselves. He's totally abandoned Israel and nobody can believe it.


BLITZER: All right. For more on this, I'm joined now by CNN Reporter Alayna Treene and CNN Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

Alayna, I know you've been doing a lot of reporting on this. What's behind Trump's I think we can call it, extreme rhetoric right now?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, definitely extreme rhetoric. And, first, I just want to fact-check some of what he said. One, it's not fair to say that Biden is abandoning Israel. If anything, Joe Biden has been very firm in his support for Israel. That's why we're actually seeing so many pro-Palestinian groups and supporters attack him over this. We're seeing these protests all over the country because they don't think he's doing enough for the Palestinian people.

But then the other part of this as well is he also repeated an anti- Semitic trope that he often uses, which is that if people are voting for Democrats, if Jewish Americans, I should say, are voting for Democrats and they're not sufficiently Jewish. We've heard this from Donald Trump before.

Remember, shortly after the 2020 election, he repeatedly lamented the fact, both in public but also in private, that he was annoyed that more Jewish Americans did not vote for him. And so this is something we've seen.

But, look, I think this is an opportunity that Donald Trump sees that he can seize on some of Biden's comments. He recognized that there's a lot of turmoil over this issue. And Biden has had a very difficult challenge with trying to navigate, you know, how much support for Israel do we give. We're seeing it play out in Congress as well. And so I think Trump sees an opening here where he can make himself, you know, the true supporter of Israel.

He often refers to himself as someone who he thinks did the most for Israel while president. That's something he believes.


You know, there's questions about whether that's true or not. But that is how Donald Trump is trying to make this a good opportunity for himself, to make himself see like he's the real defender and taking charge of this issue.

BLITZER: Yes, important point, Alayna. You know, Jeff Zeleny, the White House is emphasizing President Biden's continued support for Israel ironclad. They keep using that word even at the same time making it clear that the president disagrees with Prime Minister Netanyahu's expectation to go into Rafah, where there was, what, a million Palestinians in that city, in Southern Gaza. I want you to listen to John Kirby, the National Security Council press secretary, what he said today,


JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: Israeli government has understood this for some time now. He's going to continue to provide Israel with the capabilities that it needs, all of them. But he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And, again, it's been clear, and he's been consistent on that.


BLITZER: I know you've been reporting from several key battleground states lately. How is the president's position on this Israel-Hamas War impacting voters out there? What are you seeing?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's very much an open question. I mean, the protests that we see they follow the president everywhere he goes. That has become a soundtrack of this campaign. There's no --

BLITZER: The pro-Palestinian protests?

ZELENY: Absolutely. There's no doubt about that. But an interesting piece of information this afternoon, this uncommitted group that started in Michigan and then was also working in several states urging in Democratic primaries to vote uncommitted to express their protest of President Biden, they put out a statement this afternoon saying this marks a step forward.

So, there is a sense that this is viewed very positively on the progressive side, the pro-Palestinian side, if you will, but it's not nearly far enough. And the difference here is we're talking about offensive weapons and defensive weapons.

The president was very clear to Erin Burnett that he's going to still be a partner with Israel. The U.S. is going to maintain his longstanding relationship, but simply not sitting the weapons inside a big city, basically, but would still, of course, provide the funding for the Iron Dome.

So, this is still catching the president in the middle here. It's not enough for some. It's too much for others. And talking to advisers, they said it's his -- he needs to be seen as a strong leader here, but that's at conflict with his own instinct for empathy. So, that is what his challenges over the next five months.

So, again, it's not enough for some, and the controversy, particularly from Republicans today, showed that it's far too much for others.

You know, it's interesting. A lot of Republicans are going after President Biden for his comments yesterday to Erin Burnett on Israel. And an Israeli cabinet member, Ben-Gvir, he posted this on Twitter. He's posted, Hamas hearts Biden. So, how is this playing right now?

TREENE: I think Republicans, especially those we're seeing on Capitol Hill, are taking their cues from former President Donald Trump. They are largely, as you said, Wolf, attacking Joe Biden over this. Part of that is because I think they see an opening. I know that when I talk to some Republicans, they actually acknowledge privately the predicament that Joe Biden is in.

But we heard from many Republicans today. I mean, House Speaker Mike Johnson said that he hoped Biden was having a, quote, senior moment. We heard from the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House as well as the House Armed Services Committee saying that they were appalled by some of Joe Biden's comments to Erin Burnett last night on this. They're very much looking to Donald Trump and saying, you know, we heard Mike Lawler this morning on CNN in an interview. He said. We have to support Israel as much as we can, and part of that support means allowing them to root out the problem, which is Hamas, including if that means going into Rafah.

So, that's kind of the position we've seen from Republicans. Of course, this isn't all Republicans, but the majority of Republicans, particularly those in office, in Congress, have been taking that kind of position.

BLITZER: That's very interesting indeed. Mike Lawler, Republican Congressman from New York.

All right guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, we'll take a closer look at the challenges for the defense in the hush money trial, not at proving their case, but in having Donald Trump as a client.



BLITZER: Donald Trump's lawyers making failed attempts tonight to get his gag order modified and his case thrown out, prompting a very angry response from their client outside the courthouse. The hush money trial is highlighting the challenges for Trump's attorneys.

CNN's Tom Foreman has more.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whispering, cursing, passing notes, and elbowing his lawyers into action, that has been Donald Trump throughout the salacious testimony of Stormy Daniels. And that's a problem, according to some legal analysts.

BERNARDA VILLALONA, TRIAL ATTORNEY: He is a difficult client, he's a difficult person to deal with.

FOREMAN: So, what kind of defense difficulties does that create? Consider Trump's political strategy. TRUMP: I have a crooked judge, he's a totally conflicted judge.

FOREMAN: Always grooming his public image, the former president often says things outside court that are problematic inside. His attacks on the jury, witnesses, and court workers have cost him thousands in fines, but also prompted prosecutors to withhold the early order of their case, depriving Team Trump of critical clues about what was coming.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: You have to set everything else aside and really focus on that and make sure that your lawyers are empowered to do everything they can, you know, to make sure that they defend you.

FOREMAN: Second, Trump is not a lawyer, but, by many accounts, he tries to play one.

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Just based on watching this trial, there are things that you have to imagine a defense attorney would not have done, but for the client directing them to do that.

FOREMAN: When things don't go his way, he lashes out at his legal teams, once telling journalist and author Bob Woodward.


I've got a bunch of lawyers who are not aggressive, who are weak, and who don't have my best interest in mind, who aren't loyal. It's just a disaster.

In a deposition at Mar-a-Lago, an opposing lawyer said Trump stormed away after flinging papers across the table.

And there's more --

MAGGIE HABERMAN, AUTHOR, "CONFIDENCE MAN": Donald Trump doesn't like when his lawyers take notes. There was a meeting that he had at Trump Tower many, many years ago where he swooped in behind a junior lawyer at his conference table and crumpled up the notes the guy was taking.

FOREMAN: There is also legal jeopardy involved.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The legal expense that we paid was put down as legal expense.

FOREMAN: The whole hush money case centers on a former Trump attorney taking illegal action allegedly at Trump's behest and Trump supposedly falsifying records to hide it.

JANET JOHNSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We've also seen defense attorneys and trial attorneys that represented Trump charged with crimes. And there isn't really a retainer big enough to risk your law license and ultimately, your liberty.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOREMAN (on camera): It's all added up to a heavy turnover of Trump's legal team. Some big firms refusing to even take his cases and a dark joke and legal circles. What does MAGA stand for? Making attorneys get attorneys -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Tom Foreman reporting for us -- Tom, thank you.

Coming up, we'll go back live to New York for more of what was like, what was -- what it was like to be inside the courtroom today is were getting a new transcripts from today's testimony at the same time.



BLITZER: We're digging into the just release transcript from today's Trump hush money trial.

I want to begin our coverage right now with CNN's Kara Scannell. She's outside the courthouse. As well as our senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz, she's here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Katelyn, let me start with you. This afternoon, the prosecution actually questioned a woman who used to work for Trump just outside the Oval Office. What stands out to you from her testimony?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yeah. So prosecutor Rebecca Mangold was questioning this woman, a staffer of Donald Trump's Madeleine Westerhout. And she testified about a meeting at the time when Donald Trump was president of the United States. So here's that questioning.

Rebecca Mangold asked, what date was this email? Madeleine Westerhout says, February 5, 2017. So they're presenting this evidence of the email.

Mangold asked: And this emails from you? Westerhout: Yes.

Mangold: Is it sent to Michael Cohen at a Trump org email address? Madeleine Westerhout: Yes. What is the subject line of this email? Wednesday meeting.

Can you please read the content of the email to the jury? Madeleine Westerhout says yes.

Michael, we are confirmed for 4:30 on Wednesday. What I need for you is the following: Full name as it appears on your ID, date of birth, Social Security number, U.S. citizen, yes or no? Born in the U.S., yes or no. Current city and state of residence. Thanks, Madeleine.

Rebecca Mangold asked: Do you recall why you were sending this email? Mr. Cohen was coming in to meet with the president.

The prosecutor asked, do you recall seeing him when he came to visit? Not specifically. But did this visit ultimately occur? And the worker at the White House

for Donald Trump's sitting in the outside of the Oval Office says, yes, seems like this might be some meeting we will hear more about as this trial goes on.

BLITZER: Very interesting, very interesting indeed.

And why do you think, Kara, this meeting potentially could be significant?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So this is the meeting that prosecutors allege is when Donald Trump and Michael Cohen agreed to how Cohen would be reimbursed for -- reimbursed for putting forward the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. So by having this come in before Michael Cohen takes the stand, prosecutors are hoping that will help corroborate this meeting because Michael Cohen is the only one who is expected to testify about a conversation with Donald Trump about how he was going to be reimbursed and prosecutors are trying to tie Donald Trump to this reimbursement to the falsification of the business records, the crime that he is charged with.

So by having a record of this meeting taking place in the testimony by the woman who sat outside the door of the Oval Office saying that she does believe that the meeting did take place that will help prosecutors tried to corroborate Michael Cohen story when he does take the witness stand.

The jury is already heard so much about his personality, but they will soon hear from me himself, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very interesting.

And, Katelyn, there was a section during the defense cross-examination of Stormy Daniels today that seemed aimed at painting her in a certain light. Tell us about that.

POLANTZ: Yeah, a very delicate exchange, but in intense exchange from defense attorney Susan Necheles questioning Stormy Daniels.

She asked: Let's just go back to the room. So you say you came out of the bathroom and he, Donald Trump, was on the bad in his t-shirt and boxer shorts, right? Stormy Daniels: Yes.

And according to you, when you saw him sitting on the bed, you became faint. The room started to spin and the blood left your hands and feet, yes? Yes. It was a shock. Surprise.

The defense attorney asked, just so I can be clear on what you were saying. You've acted and had sex in over 200 porn movies, right? Stormy Daniels replied: 150-ish? Yes.

And there are naked men and women having sex, including yourself in those movies, right? Yes.

And -- but according to you, seeing a man sitting on a bad in a t- shirt and boxer shorts was so upsetting the you got lightheaded, blood left your hands and feet and you almost fainted, right? Stormy Daniels said: Yes.

When you are not expecting a man twice your age to be in their underwear? I have seen my husband naked almost every day. If I came out of the bathroom and it was not my husband and it was Mr. Trump on the bed, I would probably have the same reaction.

And the defense attorney asks, and that made you feel like you were going to faint. And Stormy Daniels said, absolutely. If I came out of the bathroom and so on, older man in his underwear that I wasn't expecting seeing there. Yeah.

So the jury heard that revisiting of that scene today.

BLITZER: Very interesting.

All right. Thank you very much, Katelyn, Kara, to both of you, appreciate it very, very much.

And we'll be right back with more news.



BLITZER: Before we leave you tonight, I want to take a moment to mark passing of my friend, Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel under President Clinton. Jack died at his Washington home yesterday at the age of 74.

I first met Jack when I was CNN senior White House correspondent. He would later join our network is a legal analyst. In more recent years, Jack proudly represented family members of those killed during the September 11th attacks.

My deepest condolences to Jack's loving family. May he rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.

You can always follow me on X formerly known as Twitter. And you can Instagram me @WolfBlitzer. THE SITUATION ROOM is also available as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.