Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Trump: Will Appeal "Scam" Conviction On 34 Felony Counts; Jail Time, Fines, Public Service Among Options For Trump's Sentencing; House Speaker Johnson Denounces "Shameful" Verdict Against Trump, Urges U.S. Supreme Court To "Step In"; Mary Trump On Her Uncle's Historic Criminal Conviction; Trump's GOP Allies Rush To Defend Him After Conviction; Trump Facing New Restrictions As A Convicted Felon; Trump Rages After Historic Conviction On 34 Criminal Charges. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired May 31, 2024 - 17:00   ET


JOHN KELLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: They give their life to preserve and protect that constitution. They died for our democracy. That wasn't the thing they were thinking about when they ran out of their landing craft, whatever, but at the end of the day, that's what they were protecting.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "D-day, Why We Still Fight for Democracy" airs Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on the whole story with Anderson Cooper. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room," much more fallout of Donald Trump's convictions, among Wolf's guest, Trump's niece, Mary Trump. A great weekend.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump is raging after his historic criminal conviction, condemning it as a scam and promising an appeal and rambling remarks filled with grievances and a flurry of false claims. We're looking at the road ahead for the former president and his campaign to return to the White House.

Also, tonight, top Republicans are rushing to Trump's defense, with House Speaker Mike Johnson taking it to a whole new level, saying the U.S. Supreme Court should step in. All of this as the GOP standard bearer is facing new restrictions as a convicted felon. We'll take a closer look at what Trump can and can't do in the days, weeks, and possibly even years ahead.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.

Our top story tonight, Donald Trump defiant as he begins to fight his felony conviction in court and in the court of public opinion. CNN's Kristen Holmes is outside the Trump Tower in New York City where the former president spoke out and lashed out earlier today.

Kristen, what did Trump say about the verdict? KRISTEN HOLMES CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was a lot of ranting, a lot of airing of grievances and a lot of what we've heard before essentially saying that this was election interference, that this was driven by Democrats. Of course, we know that this -- there's no evidence that this was driven by Joe Biden or Democrats or had anything to do with the election. It was brought by New York State, the case, of course. But that didn't stop them and it didn't stop his team from encouraging him to use this messaging. Take a listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a rigged trial. We wanted a venue change, where we could have a fair trial. We didn't get it. We wanted a judge change. We wanted to judge that wasn't conflicted.

And obviously he didn't do that. There's nobody's ever seen anything like it.


HOLMES: Now you should continue to listen to this kind of messaging because Donald Trump's campaign right now thinks it is working for them. They think it is riling up the base. It is galvanizing Republicans around them and they think it is helping financially as well. The campaign announcing that they raised $34.8 million since that verdict came out. And of course, we cannot confirm those numbers until we see the FEC reports but they say the money is going to keep coming in.

Now we also heard from Donald Trump's rival, President Joe Biden, who seemed to take on Donald Trump and his comments directly.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Reckless is dangerous. It's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like the verdict. The justice system should be respected. And we should never allow anyone to tear it down.


HOLMES: And remember, we have just over five months until that election in November, and now we are seeing both Trump and Biden looking that way. They are trying to get the voters to cast their own judgment to determine who is going to go to the White House come November.

But one other piece of reporting I just received that I'm trying to -- I -- that I believe we should get out there because there has been a lot of conversation around where some of Donald Trump's family was during his trial, that includes Jared and Ivanka, his daughter, as well as his wife, Melania, son, Barron, none of them attended any single day of that criminal hush money trial. I was told that they were all here at Trump Tower earlier today to lend support to Donald Trump. None of them came to the press conference. It wasn't really a press conference, it was more just remarks, but they were all there. Another source telling me that this kind of reporting that they have distanced themselves from the former president is just simply not true.


BLITZER: Kristen Holmes outside Trump Tower in New York for us. Kristen, thank you.

I want to bring in CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid right now.

Paula, I understand you have some new reporting about the Trump team strategy for his upcoming sentencing.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, because that sentencing is scheduled on July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention, and around the time he was expected to announce his running mate. So asked if they're going to move to push that date back, it's about six weeks out from the verdict, which is pretty average here in Manhattan. And I was told they're not sure because there are some in Trump world who believe there's a political advantage to being sentence so close to the convention, that something like that could help them as they continue to try to frame the former president as a martyr being persecuted by an unfair justice system.


Now, there are others who believe that yes, they probably should push it back. His legal team is busy with another criminal case down in Florida in the weeks leading up to that sentencing date. But over the next few days, there will be meetings and discussions about this. But Wolf, I want to note this marks a turn, because historically, when I've talked about things specifically related to this case, the primary consideration has been a legal one, not a political one. But it appears as they go deeper into the campaign season all of these additional dates potential appeals will be seen through a political prism.

BLITZER: Paula, how is the Trump team factoring in the judge's gag order against Trump just ahead of the upcoming sentencing?

REID: So there's some questions about why Todd Blanche didn't move to lift the gag order after the verdict. But the Trump team knows that on Wednesday, they filed a motion for expedited review of the gag order that they have been aggressively litigating against since it was imposed. Now that is still in progress. There's no plan to do anything else right now. But as the gag order is still active, any potential gag order violations can be considered at sentencing.

And today, during that press event that he held, this was something that everyone was looking for. And he did attack at least one person who was covered by the gag order. Let's take a listen to what he said about Michael Cohen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D. TRUMP: Now, I'm not allowed to use his name because of the gag order. But you know, he's a sleazebag. Everybody knows that, took me a while to find out. But he was effective. He did work.

But he wasn't a fixer. He was a lawyer.


REID: So Michael Cohen, because he was a witness, the key witness in this case, he is protected by the gag order. But what's been interesting is Judge Juan Merchan, when he has reviewed what prosecutors have said are violations of this gag order, he has led a few words against Michael Cohen sort of slide, arguing that Trump does have a right to punch back. And just moments after Trump made those comments, Cohen came out and attacked him. So it's unclear if this will actually be considered a violation of the gag order, but notable that Trump did not violate the gag order in any other way that has been recognized and imposed for fines by the judge. And, Wolf, we'll see how all of this impacts his sentencing right now scheduled for early July.

BLITZER: Yes, July 11, just a few days before the Republican National Convention. All right, Paula, thank you very much.

I want to bring in our political and legal experts right now, including Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who is of counsel for a firm that represents Michael Cohen, but she doesn't work on that case and there are no restrictions on what you can say about the Trump case. Elie Honig is with us as well.

Let me start, Elie, with you. Trump will be sentenced, as we all know, July 11 by the judge, what's the likelihood, the possibility that he could wind up in jail?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is going to be a really close call whether Judge Merchan sentences Donald Trump to any jail time. Now, if we look at the universe of cases of New York defendants convicted of the same crime here, falsification of business records, which is a Class E felony, it's the lowest in terms of seriousness A through E. The healthy majority, somewhere in the range of 70 percent to 90 percent of those defendants get non prison sentences. So that would mean probation, fines, potentially community service. However, there are arguments that I think we'll probably hear from the prosecutors about why Trump is different, why his conduct is more serious, that he has not shown remorse, that he chose to go to trial, that he has lashed out against the judge and others, it's going to come down to Judge Merchan's decision.

One thing that's really important, even if he does get sentenced to prison, he will almost certainly be given bail pending appeal, meaning he wouldn't have to serve that sentence until his appeals are done, which would certainly be after the 2024 election.

BLITZER: Interesting. Man, he is elderly. That's a factor whenever a judge is sentencing someone and doesn't have a criminal record. And this was not a violent crime.

HONIG: All of those things, I think will be arguments made by the defense for sure. This is going to be the judge's discretion. And it's a tough task is going to have.

BLITZER: Certainly.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Although Trump today said he doesn't feel elderly, right?

BLITZER: All right. It depends on your definition of elderly.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: All right. Karen, let me get your thoughts. If you were the prosecutor in this case, would you seek jail time against Trump?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think I would likely seek weekends in jail, because I don't think that would be a hardship in terms of his obligations in as a candidate for office. But I also think, given the fact that he has so willfully violated the gag order and was held in contempt 10 times by the judge. I also think that the jury in this case had to find unanimously that this was about election interference. And so, that really escalates this from just a falsification of business records case to one where he tried to the jury unanimously found that he tried to interfere with the presidential election. I think given those aggravating circumstances and how serious this case is I would try to seek probably weekends in jail.


That's what I think. And maybe some community service like picking up trash in the subway.

BLITZER: Yes. Let's see if that happens.

And Bill Brennan, you're a former Trump attorney, do you think jail time would be appropriate? What sort of sentence do you expect?

WILLIAM BRENNAN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think it'll be a sentence of non-incarceration, Wolf. The benchmark for sentencing is set by the federal government they look at in the 18, 35, 53, which governs sentencing, the seriousness of the offense, the nature and circumstances of the offense itself, the nature and circumstances of the offender, the need to avoid unwarranted parody of sentences. They want similarly situated people to be sentenced the same way and the potential for reoffending and rehabilitation. And as Elie said, 70 percent to 90 percent of these types of cases are non-incarceration. You have a 77-year-old defendant with no criminal record, very unlikely to reoffend in his lifetime.

And when you factor into this, the lifetime secret service protection, it just may be onerous, even if it's a close call for Judge Merchan. So, I think that it'll probably be a sentence of probation.

BLITZER: You know, Gloria, if Trump were eventually given some sort of prison time, do you think that potentially could help him politically?

BORGER: You know, it's hard to say. We've -- you know, we've seen all of this help Donald Trump politically. Again, we don't know what this conviction is going to do. It's too early to say.

Look, I think if he were given prison time, even people who agreed with the sentence and the jury might say, wait a minute, that's going a little far, because he's a first time offender, the guy is a former president, et cetera, et cetera. So, you know, I think it could potentially help him. But by the way, I don't think it's anything Donald Trump would ever want. I mean, even if it could help him politically, this is not a man who sees himself in any way, shape or form being incarcerated. He could barely stay in the courtroom for the trial.

I mean, I just don't -- I just don't see him dealing well with that.

BLITZER: I think you're right on that front.

You know, Elie, you know, we're watching all of this very closely. And a lot of other people are watching it as well, including the House speaker, Mike Johnson, who actually said today, he thinks this potentially could go before the United States Supreme Court. Listen to this.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I do believe the Supreme Court should step in. Obviously, this is totally unprecedented. And it's dangerous to our system. I think that the justices on the court, I know many of them personally, I think they're deeply concerned about that as we are. So, I think they'll set this straight, but it's going to take a while.


BLITZER: What could that actually entail?

HONIG: So the Supreme Court can't and won't, quote, "step in." They're not just going to step in now, at this point. If we are to get to the Supreme Court, we are several steps away from that. And it's not certain they would take it. So let's just walk through real quickly the structure here, Donald Trump was just convicted in the New York State Trial Court, which may be somewhat confusingly, as called the New York Supreme Court.

That's the bottom layer you see here. He has an automatic right to appeal to the middle layer, the New York appellate division. If he loses there, he can then ask the top court in the state of New York, which is called the New York court of appeals to take the case. They don't have to. When he's done with his New York appeals, then he can ask and only then can he ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

And they don't have to take any case, either. It's up to them. They take a very small minority, mid to low single digits of all cases presented to them. So, maybe it ends up at the Supreme Court but we are a long way away from that.

BORGER: Can I ask when did the House Speaker become a spokesman for the Supreme Court? I mean, he said he's spoken to people on the Supreme Court. I'm just wondering what kind of conversations was he having with people on the Supreme Court who've got to decide the question of presidential immunity about what occurred --


BORGER: -- in this state court? I mean, it seems completely inappropriate.

HONIG: Well, I think he needs to be very careful there.


HONIG: We have separate branches of government. There should not be any substantive conversation of potential cases at all.


BLITZER: Bill, do you think it's at all realistic that all of this could wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court?

BRENNAN: I really don't. I think Elie's graphic and his explanation are right on point. And unlike other cases, the former president is facing January 6 related issues of presidential documents and classified documents, immunity issues, which are all ripe for federal review. This is the New York State class E felony about records keeping. I mean, it's the lowest -- it's really a misdemeanor on steroids, but it is in fact a felony.

This is a matter that is going to be resolved inside the state of New York. And I don't see a compelling federal issue that would interest the U.S. Supreme Court into granting service (inaudible). I just -- I don't see it.


BLITZER: Karen, as you know, Trump earlier today lashed out at Michael Cohen, his former fixer and lawyer. You actually spoke with Michael Cohen earlier today for your podcast. What did he tell you?

AGNIFILO: Yes, so I launched a new podcast called "MissTrial," and my SS (ph) trial with Danya Perry, who is -- who is my -- I've worked with her in her law firm, and she is Michael Cohen's lawyer, and former House representative, House member Kathleen Rice. And we spoke -- the three of us spoke to Michael Cohen today and it was the first time I've ever spoken to him. I wanted to be a very bright line and not have any contact with him up until today. And I was struck by the fact that he, you know, he talked a lot about how solitary confinement when he did time for the crimes that he did, that he had to suffer, you know, and had to suffer the consequences of -- for what he did with Donald Trump, what solitary confinement did to him and he said it really broke him and really broke his soul and just the humanity of him and his family that stuck by him. It was really an interesting conversation.

I urge everyone to watch it.

BLITZER: All right guys, thank you very, very much. Thanks to all of you.

Coming up, Donald Trump's niece, Mary Trump is joining us live this hour to react to the guilty verdict against her uncle. Plus, the newest litmus test in Trump's Republican Party, how GOP lawmakers are rushing to defend Trump and who they're going after in the process. Stay with us. You're in the Situation Room.


[17:20: 52]

BLITZER: Back now with our coverage of the historic 34 count guilty verdict for former President Donald Trump. Today Trump lashed out on social media and verbally attacked the judge. Joining us now to discuss this and more Trump's niece, Mary Trump.

Mary, thanks very much for joining us. Right after the verdict came down you said on your podcast, it felt like Christmas morning. How do you think your uncle felt?

MARY TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S NIECE: Probably not like it was Christmas. You know, it will -- I think we need to factor in the idea that Donald never in a million years thought that this could happen to him. And understandably so, this is somebody who has lived his life with total impunity. And for finally to come, for accountability finally to come after almost eight decades, must have taken the wind out of them.

BLITZER: As you know, Trump's daughter Ivanka, your cousin, posted a picture after the verdict came down saying and I'm quoting her now, "I love you, dad." We're showing a picture on the screen right now. And a source tells CNN that Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, and Melania Trump and Barron Trump, for that matter, we're at -- over at Trump Tower today, despite not attending the actual trial. What do you make of this?

M. TRUMP: I think that like all of Donald's relationships, even his relationship with his children, is transactional. And that goes both ways. And I think Ivanka made very clear that she doesn't get enough out of this relationship anymore. She's barely been heard from -- for months. She could not be bothered to show up at the trial, which is really when you would want to be supporting somebody, right, not after it's over.

So, I think it's way too little too late. But that clearly is where they've landed in their relationship at this point.

BLITZER: You told my CNN colleague, Abby, Phillip, you think Trump should, should go to jail? Do you think that would energize his supporters even more?

M. TRUMP: You know, Wolf, I think it's a possibility. But I also believe that it's irrelevant to the decision Justice Merchan makes. These are decisions that need to be made within the context of the trial and the jury's findings. And if it energizes his face, anything would energize -- if he gets any punishment whatsoever, it will energize the base. And what I find fascinating is that we never asked the other question, what will it do to the rest of us who believe in the rule of law if he's not punished appropriately?

So, whether or not he is imprisoned, I think it's less likely than likely. But I do believe that this is a very serious crime. And we're talking about 34 criminal charges, he's a convicted felon. And whatever the punishment is, it does need to be appropriate to the severity of the crimes he committed.

BLITZER: On Thursday, as you know, in a very different legal case in New York Court of Appeals ruled that Trump can sue you over your role as a source for the "New York Times" investigation. Trump argues you broke a confidentiality agreement. What do you know about this?

M. TRUMP: I don't know too much except, you know, I disagree, of course, with the court's decision. But we're going to see how it plays out. I guess the next step, if we can come to a meeting of the minds would be depositions. And Donald has to decide if it's worth his while. I do not believe that he would be able to get the penalty he's seeking, which last I checked was something like $100 million. So, I'm not worried about it. But I do believe that this is something that should have been put to bed a long time ago.

BLITZER: Mary Trump, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it very much.

M. TRUMP: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, the battle lines being drawn up on Capitol Hill, Republicans rushing to defend Donald Trump and now taking steps to go after the Manhattan district attorney and President Biden. We'll have a live report on that and talked with conservative lawyer, George Conway.



BLITZER: The chorus of Republicans condemning Donald Trump's conviction is growing tonight. Even his former vice president sometime critic Mike Pence is calling the verdict an outrage that undermines the U.S. justice system. Many GOP lawmakers are rallying to Trump's defense as well. Our Congressional Correspondent Lauren Fox is getting new reaction right now.

Lauren, what more can you tell us about the GOP reaction?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. And rallying around former President Donald Trump, many of these Republicans are undermining the integrity of America's justice system saying that this was a sham, saying that this was unfair, saying that Donald Trump is just being demonized because he is a Republican. Here is some of that reaction.



SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): But under Joe Biden, the weaponization of the justice system has become front and center in this election.

SEN. JD VANCE (R-OH): I cannot say that this trial was anything more than politics masquerading as justice. I do not think it was a fair trial at all.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), HOUSE SPEAKER: This entire thing is absurd. This is a purely political exercise, not a legal one. And everybody knows that they know intuitively that it's wrong.


FOX: And Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate, someone who has had an icy and distant relationship from former President Trump, he even tweeted last night quote, these charges never should have been brought in the first place. I expect the conviction to be overturned on appeal.

You saw people who are vying to be the Republican leader in the Senate, both John Cornyn and Senator John Thune putting out statements rather quickly after this announcement came down yesterday of the verdict. But it's not just strongly worded statements that we're seeing from Capitol Hill. This morning, Jim Jordan announced that he is requesting that Alvin Bragg testify before his committee on June 13th. And a group of conservative senators led by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, they sent a letter warning Democrats that they will no longer cooperate on legislation, whether it's to fund the government or on nominees unless it directly deals with national security.

Now, they can only slow walk the process, but that could have major implications and the United States Senate. So making very clear here that this isn't just about words, some Republicans on Capitol Hill making it clear that they have allegiance to the president through their actions. Wolf?

BLITZER: Lauren Fox, thank you very much. Let's discuss this and more with conservative lawyer and vocal Trump critic, George Conway. George, thanks so much for joining us. Why are we seeing so many Republican lawmakers parrot Trump's baseless claims about the weaponization of the U.S. judicial system against Trump?

GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: The Republican Party is in the thrall of a now convicted felon and adjudicated rapist, and they are all jockeying for position in the party, because that's what they're used to doing. They're used to parroting his lies and protecting this man who has basically done nothing but bring disgrace to the party. And it's just absurd. It's just mendacious on so many levels.

I mean, first of all, the first person to be charged with any crime that involved the stormy Daniels episode was, of course, Michael Cohen. And who charged Michael Cohen. It happens to be the United States Department of Justice in 2018. And lo and behold, who was president in 2018? I mean, this is just absurd. The man Cohen went to jail for doing, you know, under federal law for committing campaign finance violations that he admitted to and then testified to under oath, just this past month.

And the notion that somehow Donald Trump should get a pass for what Donald Trump's own Justice Department charged as a federal crime, which then became a predicate for the state law, fraud, that Donald Trump committed to cover up the federal crime is just absurd. And to suggest that the Biden administration, you know, I have been a lifelong Republican. But there is no weaponization of the Justice Department by Joe Biden.

I mean, this notion -- they argue that Joe Biden is senile yet now he's somehow the mastermind, behind what the you -- what the district attorney of the county of New York is doing, it's just preposterous. And it's particularly preposterous in light of the fact that the Justice Department, Biden's own Justice Department is prosecuting a Democratic senator in the Southern District of New York, in a courthouse down the street from where Trump was tried. And is prosecuting Joe Biden's own son, that's not the weaponization of justice, that's, you know, I mean, you can argue about one case or the other and whether it should be brought in the merits of one particular case and another and I know, people have strong feelings about those other cases. But that's justice. That's justice.

I mean people on both sides are being prosecuted by the Justice Department and by other prosecutors. And this is not a weaponization of justice. The reason why Donald Trump is now convicted of 34 felonies is because he committed 34 felonies. And a jury of 12 people including one person who got his news only from Truth Social, Donald Trump's own personal social media website, found him unanimously guilty. And they found him obviously overwhelmingly guilty because it just didn't take them that long.

They heard the evidence. There wasn't even a divide. I sat through that trial. I read the transcript. There was no defense. The case was never even close. And frankly, I think a lot of people the media misled the public by suggesting that it might be anything but a runaway walk off victory by, I mean, a complete blowout by the prosecution, which it was in the jury agreed.


BLITZER: So Trump gave remarks earlier today, as we all know, slamming the verdict, I want to play a little part of that. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a scam. This is a rig trial. It shouldn't have been in that venue, we shouldn't have had that judge. He should have allowed us to have an election expert. Wouldn't allow us to have witnesses. He wouldn't allow us to talk. He wouldn't allow us to do anything.


BLITZER: You were in court for parts of this trial, George. How do you respond to what he just said?

CONWAY: He's lying just the same way he lies -- lied about the election, lied about the temperature in the courtroom, lied about the security around the courthouse. He's lying. He could have put on any number of witnesses. The legal expert he put on was going to testify about the law. But under the rules of evidence in every state and in the federal courts, you can't put somebody to testify about domestic law. The fact is, he could have put on any of these. And he could have put on his son who signs up one of the checks.

He could have put on himself, but he was too scared. He could -- he would never have withstood cross examination. He knew that. He does -- you know this man who follows who stopped -- who doesn't always follow his lawyer's advice, decided not to testify. He didn't -- he says all this stuff in the courthouse out in the hallway in Trump Tower about how it was all rigged at all. It was all lies, this is false. And that is false. Well, where is his testimony? He was too scared. He was too weak. He was too -- he was -- he knew that he would be shown to be the absolute liar that the jury found him to be if anything, if he had testified the jury verdict would have come back faster. And he knows that. And he's lying.

BLITZER: I'm looking at my notes.

CONWAY: And that's what he does.

BLITZER: He said I wanted to testify, this is direct quote, I would have loved to have testified. He could have testified, nothing stopping him except himself. He decided not to testify. Earlier today, George, the House Speaker Johnson called on the U.S. Supreme Court to step in and set this record straight, his words, regarding the case. Do you see any reason why the U.S. Supreme Court would get involved?

CONWAY: It's amazing, because I think Speaker Johnson is a lawyer, if I'm not mistaken. And he knows better than that. The way that an appeal happens is in the ordinary course. The defendant will be sentenced on July 11th. At that point, the defendant can take an appeal to the appellate division first department of the Supreme Court of the state of New York. And then he can take another appeal if he loses there to the Court of Appeals of the state of New York, and then he can go to the Supreme Court of the United States if he has a federal issue to assert. And there is no going to be no federal issue in this case.

BLITZER: George Conway as usual, thanks so much for joining us.

And just ahead, it's a new world for Donald Trump now that he's a convicted felon. What we know about new restrictions that will upend his everyday life, including whether he will still be able to vote.


[17:42:20] BLITZER: We're back with more on Donald Trump's historic guilty verdict and what comes next for the former president of the United States. CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look at all the things Trump can and cannot do now that he's a convicted felon. Tom, tell us about the new restrictions Trump is now facing?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's start with the first basic question here. Can Donald Trump be the president of the United States as a convicted felon? The simple truth is a constitutional he says a few things. Be a natural born citizen of the United States, that's a requirement. Be at least 35 years old. And you must be a resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years. Those are among the requirements for being president.

It really says nothing about felons. And in truth, many legal analysts say even if you are a felon, you could literally win the office and serve as president from a jail cell if you had to. Can he vote? That's a different question. This is a little more complicated, that first one sort of a slam dunk. Yes, he can be president, little more complicated. Almost every state except for Vermont, Maine, and then D.C. as an area down here, almost all of them have some kind of restrictions on you if you have been convicted of a crime, if you are a felon in those states, some more, some a little bit less.

But that is usually focused on whether or not you're actually in jail. And it's complicated further by the fact that Trump is a resident of Florida, where they say you have to serve all your time and pay all your fines before you can vote again. But he was convicted in New York where it's somewhat more lenient, and this is the state that would take precedent there. So although it's not entirely worked out, the general belief is that on balloting day, it's very likely that he will be able to cast his ballot. Wolf?

BLITZER: Well, and Tom, what about the remaining months until the November election? Will Trump be able to fully participate in this campaign?

FOREMAN: Yes, a simple question, right? Can Trump travel as a convicted felon? Can he go to all these places? These are all the states some of them. There are some more places he visited so far in his campaign. Yes, he can travel, he can campaign, he can go to interviews, he can go to debates like CNN's debate that will be down near Georgia Tech here and Atlanta. And he even go traveled and golf if he wants to unless the Court tells him, he specifically cannot, that would be a different matter if they don't want him to do that.

But beyond that, there are other restrictions for felons sometimes, some might lose their passport, might not be able to get mortgages from certain banks, might not be able to take part in certain government programs, especially involving money, not sit on a jury, own a gun. But I do want to point out we put this asterisk down here for a very big reason, this is a former president, a potential future president and that means virtually everything we've talked about here could be subject to change. Wolf?

[17:45:14] BLITZER: Tom Foreman, excellent explanation. Thank you very much.

Coming up, the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is standing by to join us live. We'll get her take on the latest history making event in an already historic campaign.


BLITZER: Donald Trump just became the first ever former U.S. president to receive a felony conviction. Joining us now to discuss, the presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her new book, "An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s" is out now. It's a major "New York Times" bestseller. Doris, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for writing this excellent, excellent book. Will history see this verdict as a positive or negative for America?


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: What I'm really imagining is that 100 years from now, history will say that some strange situation happened in 2024, the first time ever that a former president was convicted of a crime, and the last time that has ever happened, so never again between now and 1324 did it happen. Never did it happen before this. Never did happen after this. I think the next step that I imagined the history books might say, is what happens in the appeals process. And if that appeals process claims that it was a fundamentally fair trial, and his conviction is not overturned, then the real step is what happens in public sentiment, what happens in the election? Will it be fought on a corrupt rule of law on the one hand, and a rule of law on the other, or we'll finally be able to just talk about what these candidates want to present as a vision for the future, and who they are as people. And that's what I'm hoping the history books will say, many years from now and I'm no longer around to write it.

BLITZER: We'll wait to see what happens on that front. I love American history, as you know. On CNN last night, the legendary journalist Bob Woodward pointed out the 50th anniversary of Nixon's resignation is coming this August. How do you think these moments in history compare 50 years apart?

GOODWIN: You know, this is one of those moments when I think it's so important to remember history, because think of what happened and how the Republican Party came around to protect the rule of law, the Supreme Court rule that his plane claim for executive privilege could not be met and the tapes have to be turned over. The impeachment process was going forward. Senator Goldwater sign of the Republican Party, House Minority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, went to President Nixon and told him that he would be convicted and Republicans would be behind it if he did not resign, and he resigned. So that meant that every institution really came forward and fought for that rule of law, so different from today, so different from today.

BLITZER: The -- your fellow presidential historian, Tim Naftali, a frequent guest here on CNN, thinks this verdict will create, and I'm quoting him now, a torrent of poison and further divide the United States. Do you agree?

GOODWIN: You know, obviously, that's what's going to happen in the short term. We've already seen happening in these days that come. My real hope, though, is that we've seen in polls already, that a certain percentage, small, but yet important, and significant in the election, said if he weren't convicted, they would not vote for him. And maybe when people digest what happened here, that a jury of 12 citizens in the way the jury trial system works, worked hard, listen to it, ask questions, and came to the conclusion that he deserved to be convicted. And if that settles into a certain percentage of the country, everything is so close that it could swing the election.

If that happens, it'll be hard for me to imagine that we're still going to be arguing once again, OK. The last election they will claim was corrupt was not right. This election is not corrupt at a time we're going to get exhausted. And these arguments for after a while are not going to be able to be held. That's what I'm hoping in the future.

BLITZER: Let's see. In brief remarks earlier today, Doris, President Biden said the conviction shows, and I'm quoting him now, no one is above the law and said those who are calling the outcome rigged are being, quote, reckless and dangerous. Is that how you would have advised President Biden to handle this to react in this way?

GOODWIN: Yes. I think he should not react and call Trump any names in response to the names that Trump will call him. But I think defending the rule of law is probably pretty important. But much more important, he's got to offer the American people a vision for the future. What it is that we're prevented from happening, because we're so caught up in this Trump knowledge. We've been talking about Trump now for four years, for six years, for eight years. And it feels like there's no time left to really talk about climate change, or talk about gun safety or talk about a woman's right to choose. Those are the issues that really matter in the future.

And I think he should focus on that, and just talk about the fact that we can't be caught up in another retribution grievances and go backward. We're already backsliding. And in order to go forward, he's got to be a fighter for going forward. I'm not sure he has to be a fighter against Trump per se, but a fighter against the whole idea that we keep going backward in time we keep claiming that elections are not right, that jury trials are not right. After a while that has to stop and they have to look at the future and that's what I would advise him to do.

BLITZER: The presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Thanks, Doris, once again for joining us. And once again, let me put the book cover up on the screen. Her excellent new best seller, "An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s" is out there now. It is available. If you live through the 1960s, it'll bring back a lot, a lot of memories. Doris, thanks so much for joining us.

And coming up --

GOODWIN: Oh, thank you. [17:54:42]

BLITZER: Of course. We'll have more on our top story, the fallout from Donald Trump's historic conviction on 34 felony counts. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Happening Now Donald Trump on the attack after jurors found him guilty of 34 criminal accounts. Key witness, Michael Cohen, among Trump's top targets, calling his former fixer a sleazebag without saying his name. Did the former president that turned convicted felon violate his gag order again? That's something for Judge Merchan to consider, just ahead of Trump's sentencing on July 11th. We're breaking down the potential punishments for Trump from jail time to public service.

Also this hour President Biden says Israel has offered a new roadmap for a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal even as Israel confirms its expanding its offensive in Rafah moving into the center of the city.


Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the Situation Room.