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Trump Rails Against Verdict, Calls Cohen A Sleazebag Amid Gag Order; Jail Time, Fines, Public Service Among Options For Trump's Sentencing; Michelle Obama's Mother Marian Robinson Dies At 86; Trump Campaign Says It Raised A Record $34.8 Million In Small Donations Within Hours After The Verdict. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 31, 2024 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Donald Trump on the attack after jurors found him guilty of 34 criminal counts, key witness Michael Cohen among Trumps 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 Juan Merchan to consider just ahead of Trumps sentencing on July 11th. We're breaking down the potential punishments for Trump from jail time to public service.

Also, this our 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.

Tonight, Donald Trump is plotting his next legal and political moves as he seizes over his historic criminal conviction and lashes it out at just about everyone he blames for the verdict.

CNN's Kristen Holmes has more on what Trump is saying and doing on this, his first full day as a felon.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A defiant Donald Trump lashing out Friday, a day after a New York jury found him guilty on all 34 counts in his criminal hush money trial.

TRUMP: We're going to fight. I'm wired in such a way that a lot of people would have gone away a long time ago.

HOLMES: Trump aired grievances with the trial and leveled attacks at the prosecutor and the presiding judge, Juan Merchan.

TRUMP: 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 a judge that wasn't conflicted. And obviously he didn't do that.

HOLMES: Even as the former president remains under a gag order that blocks him from speaking out about witnesses, jurors, and others closely tied to the case, Trump singled out ex-Attorney Michael Cohen, a key witness in the case, without using his name.

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

HOLMES: In a statement to CNN Cohen called Trump's remarks a, quote, crazy avalanche of broken brain word manure.

TRUMP: No presidential candidate has ever been under a gag order before. I'm under a gag order, nasty gag order. Think of it. I'm the leading candidate.

HOLMES: Trump also claimed Friday he wanted to testify in the trial, but suggested one of his lawyers encouraged him not to do so.

TRUMP: Now, I would have testified. I wanted to testify. The theory is you never testify, because as soon as you testify, anybody, if it were George Washington, don't testify, because he'll get you on something that you said slightly wrong and then they sue you for perjury.

HOLMES: Addressing the verdict at the White House Friday, President Joe Biden warned that efforts by Trump and his allies to undermine the justice system were, quote, dangerous.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: 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: Trump's allies and supporters swiftly rallied behind the presumptive GOP nominee, with the campaign announcing it had raised more than $34 million in the hours after the verdict, at one point, even crashing the fundraising platform used by Trump's campaign, while top Republicans, including several vice presidential hopefuls, joined Trump in criticizing the conviction.

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): What happened in New York was a travesty of the justice system.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): This is the weaponization of the justice system against their political opponent.

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): You cannot say that this trial was anything more than politics masquerading as justice.


HOLMES (on camera): And while those Republicans wanted to make their support very public, I have learned that there were several people who are offering more private versions of support, including members of his own family. We had speculated a lot about Ivanka and Jared Trump, as well as Melania, who never attended a day of Donald Trump's criminal trial. All of them were present at Trump Tower today when Donald Trump delivered his remarks. I am told that while they did not attend the remarks, they were there to offer their moral support. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kristen Holmes reporting for us, Kristen, thanks very much.

Now the legal road ahead for Donald Trump as he plans to appeal his conviction. CNN's Kara Scannell covered the Trump trial from start to finish. Kara, walk us through what's next for Trump and his legal team.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Trump's lawyers have a deadline of two weeks in which to file any motions before the judge. And Todd Blanche had said that -- Trump's lead attorney, has said that they're going to make several motions challenging the verdict having to do with some of the judge's rulings before the trial, including arguing that they can't get a fair trial and couldn't get one in New York and also challenging the judge letting in the testimony of some witnesses, including Stormy Daniels, then Donald Trump is going to be sentenced on July 11th.

So, he will have to meet with a probation officer, just like any other convicted felon who will interview him, get some materials so that the probation department can make a recommendation to Judge Juan Merchant on what Donald Trump's sentence and punishment should be after being convicted on 34 of those felony counts. That sentencing again is for July 11th.

Now, Todd Blanche has also said that that Trump intends to appeal his conviction. They will have 30 days after the sentencing to file their notice of appeal that would start that process. So, the clock now ticking for a couple of key deadlines for Donald Trump on the legal front and sandwiched between them is his first presidential debate for the presidency against Joe Biden running on CNN.


And also just a few weeks after his sentencing, he will be at the Republican Convention, where he is likely to get the nomination. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kara Scannell, thank you very much for that report.

There's also breaking news coming into The Situation Room on the Trump classified documents case. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is working this story for us. What can you tell us, Katelyn?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. In that federal criminal case in Florida, a gag order is back on the table. Prosecutors just went to Judge Aileen Cannon again asking her to put an order on Trump limiting his ability to talk about law enforcement. In that case, they say that he is potentially endangering law enforcement officers involved in the investigation and the prosecution of this case and threatened the integrity of these proceedings.

The prosecutors are writing this to Judge Cannon, working off of comments Trump has been making in the past couple weeks, saying that FBI agents who searched his resort in Florida in August of 2022, they were ready to use deadly force, but that is actually pretty misleading. That was a standard procedure that was in place for the FBI search of that property, nothing out of the normal. It was even used in the search of Joe Biden's own home in Delaware.

So, the prosecutors, they want this gag order on Donald Trump. Trump, his team says it's a violation of his rights. They're going to be arguing against it before Judge Cannon. But, Wolf, this is going to be a major thing for this judge to look at in the coming days, something we're going to be talking about quite a bit next week, and another reminder that Donald Trump, the criminal defendant, now convicted in New York, has these other cases and legal proceedings to still face on a daily basis, including the classified documents case in Florida.

BLITZER: Three other cases, indeed. Katelyn Polantz, thank you very much.

Let's break all of this down with our legal and political experts. And, Tim Parlatore, let me start with you. You're a former Trump attorney. You predicted that Trump's sentence will be less than a year and served at the notorious Manhattan -- oh, excuse me, wrong question for you. I want to get your reaction, first of all, to Special Counsel Jack Smith's latest request for a gag order in the classified documents. What do you think?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: You know, I think that prosecutors have generally been overusing gag orders with Donald Trump. I mean, a gag order is something that's, you know, really very rarely used and only for a very limited purpose. You know, they're presumptively unconstitutional because it's a prospective restriction of free speech rights. It has to be done to protect the integrity of the proceedings.

And, you know, to simply ask for a gag order because, you know, you don't like that he said something. It turned out to be false, I think that they would have to tie that to some kind of a specific threat. And even if you look at what he's saying, he's saying, well, the Biden administration wanted them to assassinate me, I don't think anybody's taking that seriously.

BLITZER: But do you think his conviction in New York will add weight to this request for a gag order?

PARLATORE: No, just because you have been convicted in New York doesn't say that your First Amendment rights are any less anywhere else. And so, I think -- and, quite frankly, the fact that he's been convicted in New York should be, you know, the grounds to lift the gag order in New York because there's no longer any trial to protect. There's no longer any jury pool to protect for their deliberations. There's no longer any witnesses to prevent the intimidation of.

And so gag orders, they usually expire as soon as the jury is sworn in. Here it was kept a little bit later to protect the witnesses, but certainly by the time there's a verdict, there's no need to keep the gag order in place under the laws of the state of New York.

BLITZER: We'll see how the judge, Aileen Cannon, responds to the special counsel Jack Smith's request for a gag order against Trump. This is significant development, potentially.

Norm, you're the one who predicted that Trump's sentence will be less than a year and could be served at the notorious Rikers Island jail in New York City. How do you think Judge Merchan will weigh security concerns if he sentences a former president of the United States?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf I think he'll take those concerns very seriously. Since I did the initial analysis of the likely sentence that Trump would face, it's likely it's not certain that he'll get a sentence of jail time. I've had the opportunity to observe Judge Merchan in court every day throughout this trial. And I don't think in my more than three decades practicing law I've ever seen a better judge in action. Tim has tried a case before Judge Merchan.

PARLATORE: I like him.

EISEN: He's an outstanding judge. For that reason, he will consider all of the factors in determining whether or not to sentence Donald Trump to jail.

The secure -- and he talked about this one day in court when Trump had committed his tenth violation of the gag order, ten findings of contempt. He said, if you do it again, I'm going to have to put you in jail. And that will be very hard, including for those security concerns.


But, Wolf, there are factors that cut the other way, the seriousness of this crime, this jury found election interference, conspiracy, and other factors, tough choice for judge Merchan.

BLITZER: Very tough, indeed. We'll see what he decides. That's coming up.

You know, Brad you've seen a lot of Republicans now rallying to Trump's defense, supporting him, saying all sorts of things in effect, echoing what Trump has been saying. Do you think this is a winning strategy for the GOP?

BRAD TODD, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, I think, first off, Alvin Bragg has done something that no Republican can do, which is unify Republicans. You know, Republicans don't like each other very much in these days. Yes, the district attorney in New York.

I think there's a real opportunity for Donald Trump here politically, if he's willing to take it, if he's disciplined enough to take it. Number one, turnout is a big factor, right, in any presidential election. Both these candidates are unfavorable. This has unified as base. Secondly, the group that really matters is people in the middle who are unfavorable to both of them. Nothing is now new about Donald Trump. The verdict didn't bring out any new facts that anyone didn't know. So, if you're already unfavorable to him, you knew these things. But it does give him a rallying cry.

And he's going to have to be able to project that forward and say this is really the Democrats trying to deny the voters a choice, make it more about the voters and not about himself. If he makes it about himself, it's going to be a problem.

BLITZER: What do you make of the way the president of the United States, Kate, responded to Trump's guilty verdict?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Where he said -- just broadly the response? Look, I think what he has to do here is thread a needle that he's doing, which is he has to not politicize, he has to not contribute to this idea of the framework that the Trump campaign wants to paint around this, which is that it's politicized, it's all Biden's doing. So, he's got to be -- I think he has to be restrained, as he has been throughout this process.

But I would disagree with Brad in that I actually think this presents an opportunity for Biden. I think for these for these swing voters who are not going to be able to stomach the idea of voting for a convicted felon, for Biden to drive effectively, that this is somebody who has broken the law has been found guilty by a jury of his peers and use that to paint a bigger picture about Donald Trump and the fact that he only cares about himself, that he's willing to lie and cheat and steal to get what he wants that he cares about him. He doesn't care about you. I think Biden can use that as he's making this broader message.

And I think you saw him sort of walk that line today of not overly politicizing, but being very clear that what Donald Trump has done makes him unfit to be president of the United States again.

BLITZER: Let me get back to Tim. Tim, you say you think Trump needs to stay silent at least until his July 11th sentencing. But do you think he can? You heard him just going after Michael Cohen, didn't mention Michael Cohen by name, but described him and called him a sleazebag.

PARLATORE: You know, one thing I don't understand is why Todd Blanche hasn't gone to the judge to ask to vacate the gag order at this point. So, the idea of him, you know, risking, you know, violating the gag order is something that can be easily dealt with. Whether he needs to stay silent, you know -- obviously he's a candidate for president. So, the likelihood of him staying silent outside the courtroom is one thing.

My concern more is him staying silent inside the courtroom. Because when he goes back on July 11th, the judge is going to say, before I sentence you, do you have anything to say? And I would hope I would recommend him to say, I rely upon the words of my attorney here. You know, because they're going to have to thread a very, you know, slim needle here where he's still maintaining his innocence and, you know, what I do in these type of situations is I say, your Honor, you know, my client has his appellate rights, he's going to be pursuing his appeal and as such he's maintaining his innocence, and so I ask you to not take that -- you know, not hold that against him in sentencing and let's talk instead about these other factors and kind of steer the judge to all of the other considerations that Norm was just talking about.

And if he talks -- every time a defendant says anything other than I rely upon what my lawyer said and I'm so very sorry, the sentence goes up.

BLITZER: He could show some remorse. He has shown no remorse at all.

PARLATORE: I don't think that's going to happen in this case, especially with the appeal that they intend to file. So, the only thing he can do is increase the sentence by speaking.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, Michael Cohen's former attorney, Lanny Davis, is standing by live. He'll join me right here in The Situation Room. We'll get his reaction to Donald Trump's historic conviction and very angry rant against his one-time fixer.



BLITZER: There's breaking news coming in to CNN right now. The mother of former First Lady Michelle Obama, Marian Robinson, has died at the age of 86.

I want to bring in CNN's Kevin Liptak. Kevin, tell us more.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, and I think most Americans will know Mrs. Robinson as the mother of Michelle Obama and the grandmother of Sasha and Malia Obama and a fixture really at the White House during the Obama administration. And we are learning that she has passed away at the age of 86.

From a lengthy statement, really quite a beautiful statement, I will say from her family members, including her daughter, Michelle Obama, her son, Craig Robinson, and Barack Obama, the former president, I'll just read you a little bit of what they wrote.

They said, Marian Lewis Shields Robinson, our mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother, had a way of summing up the truths about life in a word or two. Maybe a quick phrase that made everyone around her stop and think. Her wisdom came off as almost innate, as something she was born with, but in reality it was hard earned, fashioned by her deep understanding that the world's roughest edges could always be sanded down with a little grace.

And certainly that is a lesson and a message she will have imparted on her daughter, her son-in-law and her granddaughters as she moved with them from Chicago to the White House back in 2008, this enormous transition that she was on hand to make a little bit easier for members of her family.


And, you know, the statement and previous statements from Mrs. Obama and President Obama have described her as really something of a grounding force in the White House, both for her own children and her grandchildren. And it was interesting they say in the statement, it took a healthy nudge, as they said, to get her to move to the White House at all. But in the end they really describe her as recognizing the importance that that would have in raising grounded children. You know, it's a very difficult place, I think, to grow up, and she eased that in some way.

They say that rather than hobnobbing with Oscar winners or Nobel laureates, she preferred spending her time upstairs with a T.V. tray in the room outside her bedroom with big windows that looked out over the Washington Monument. And this is so interesting, they say the only guest that she ever asked to meet while she was living in the White House was the pope.

Now, she was born in 1937 in Chicago. She grew up on the south side of Chicago. And the statement sort of delves into her biography. It's so interesting. They say that her father, because of the color of his skin, wasn't allowed to join a union.

And that you can really see in the arc of her life starting, you know, in these days where her own father wasn't allowed to have a job going all the way to living in the White House with the first African- American president, her son in law, truly, you know, an American story of no other type. She wasn't, you know, spotted all that frequently around the White House when I was covering it.

She wasn't, you know, at a ton of events or in the Rose Garden or in the driveway when reporters are around. But certainly she was spending so much time with her granddaughters who were, you know, going to school, learning to drive, you know, having some of the most formative years of their life in this building that can be such a crucible of tension. And I think what you've heard their father, the president, and their mother, the former first lady, say is that Marian Robinson was able to sort of keep things real in a way.

She was seen sometimes around town. You know, sometimes you would see her at the Kennedy Center sort of having a night out on the town, but certainly not a major presence in the Obama's presidency, but certainly in their personal lives and in the personal life of that White House, she was absolutely essential.

You know, I remember the video of her and the young daughters coming to visit the Bush daughters during that transition period. She was on hand to sort of look at what the bedrooms might look like, look at what their new lives might look like, this enormous change for them to come into the White House from Chicago. She was a key part of easing that transition and a key touchstone for her daughter in this new glare of attention.

BLITZER: Yes. And Michelle Obama just tweeted this, and let me read it for our viewers. My mom, Marian Robinson, was my rock, always there for whatever I needed. She was the same steady backstop for our entire family. And we are heartbroken to share she passed away today. Very sad, indeed, and our deepest condolences to the family.

I want to bring in on the phone right now the former Obama senior adviser and CNN senior political commentator, David Axelrod, along with our Senior Political Analyst Nia-Malika Henderson.

David, what's your reaction to the passing of Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, a woman I assume you knew well?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR (voice over): Just profound sadness, Wolf. She was just a great lady. I mean, much of what was said reflects the, what I experienced over the course of my relationship with the Obamas starting, you know, before he was a national figure.

But the move to Washington, as was said, was not something (INAUDIBLE). She was a south sider through and through. Her husband worked for 37 years at a water filtration plant, worked through multiple sclerosis, and yet never missed a day of work. And she was the rock of that family, as Michelle said. Michelle and her brother, Craig, both excelled in life and were very much the product of their mom's tutelage, that she was she taught them how to be resilient, how to be responsible and grace, taught them grace.

But in the White House, it was so interesting, you know, she would -- as was said, she did not take to the whole celebrity lifestyle. She kind of shunned that. And she would often slip out of the White House on her own and visit with friends outside the White House. She really wasn't looking for attention. And she was -- as soon as the administration was over, she headed right back to the south side of Chicago.


I will tell you my last encounter with her was when Pete Souza, the former White House photographer, came to the Institute of Politics that I am associated with at the University of Chicago, and he did a -- he was talking -- he had a book of photos from the from the White House and she was right there in the front row.

And when it was over, the students just gravitated to her and she held forth. She was not a person of many words. The words were often laden with wisdom, but she was very, very talkative and the kids were just transfixed. And she said sort of as an aside, this is great. You know, they never let me talk much when we were out there in Washington. And it was just so much fun to see. She was like the Pied Piper with these young people.

The last thing I would say is she was indispensable to the Obamas, whose big concern about running for president about being elected president was the impact it would have on their two young daughters when they had to be on the road and so on. And the fact that Mrs. Robinson was there to provide consistent, sustained nurturing guidance oversight made everything possible. And, you know, those young women now are in part who they are, and they're both sensational young women because of the love and guidance of their grandmother who spent so much time with them (INAUDIBLE). So, yes, (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Truly a wonderful, wonderful woman. Nia-Malika, you're with us as well. I want you and our viewers to listen to how Michelle Obama described her mother during her portrait unveiling back in 2018. Listen to this.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER U.S. FIRST LADY: Of course, I'm thinking about my mommy, Marian Robinson, who is sitting in the front row, supporting us, like she has always done, always putting herself last on her list, so that she could give me and Craig and our children everything that makes today possible.


BLITZER: You know Nia, Mrs. Robinson, of course, lived in the White House during the Obama presidency. What will you remember most about her during that time?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice over): You know, the thing about Mrs. Robinson was that she wasn't a real figure in Washington. And that was on purpose. That was who she was. She was a south sider. She was a Midwesterner. She didn't believe in putting on airs. And her real presence was felt, obviously, in the lives of her grandchildren and her daughter and her son-in-law. And that was the purpose for her coming down here, right, in Washington and coming from the south side of Chicago to make sure that those girls had a connection to Chicago and to sort of Midwestern values, to humility.

You know. Oftentimes, you hear Michelle Obama impart lessons about motherhood that she learned from her mother. I would always think, you know, that I would love for Michelle Obama to write a book about the sort of wit and witticism that she learned from her mother about parenting young girls, particularly young girls who were in the spotlight. You know, she talked about this idea that she wanted her girls to know that they were special to her, to their families and to their friends, but they weren't special just because they were the daughters of a president.

So, I think it's a little sort of down home African-American family values that resonated with so many Americans that Mrs. Robinson obviously brought to Washington, brought to the White House and brought to those girls' lives. I mean, this, I'm sure, is heartbreaking for Mrs. Obama, for her daughters, who are now women, and who owe a lot of their learning and the way in which they've navigated the world, not only to their mother, but certainly to their grandmother as well.

It's a real loss for that family really to the nation to what she represented and what she was able to do for the first family in those years that they were in the White House.

BLITZER: Yes, so sad. I want to read part of the Obama statement that was released. Over those eight years, she made great friends with the ushers and butlers, the folks who make the White House a home. She'd often sneak outside the gates to buy greeting cards at CVS and sometimes another customer might actually recognize her.


You look like Michelle's mother, they'd say. She'd smile and reply, oh, I get that a lot.

Our hearts go out to the family, our deepest, deepest condolences. May she rest in peace and may her memory be a blessing.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Let's get back to our coverage of Donald Trump's guilty verdict and his angry rant today against the judge, the district attorney, and one particular witness, Michael Cohen. Listen.



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. It took me a while to find out. But he was effective. He did work. But he wasn't a fixer. He was a lawyer.


BLITZER: Joining us now, Michael Cohen's former attorney, Lanny Davis. Lanny, what's your reaction to the way Trump went after Michael Cohen today?

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: Let me just say this about Michael Cohen. First of all, I was honored when he allowed me to represent him. This jury vindicated Michael Cohen and Michael Cohen told the truth. And 12 members of the jury disregarded the shouting of the lawyers representing Mr. Trump with the words, liar.

So, for now, my only comment is that I was honored to represent Michael Cohen. He told the truth. He was vindicated. And the man that just called him that name is the same man that a federal judge called a rapist after a trial in the E. Jean Carroll case, another New York Supreme Court judge found him committing financial fraud and fined him $450 million, and then a jury just found, unanimously beyond a reasonable doubt, that he committed 34 felonies. And today, he says everybody is rigged against him, and he calls Michael Cohen a liar because Michael Cohen stood up and told truth to power.

BLITZER: Does Michael Cohn feel a sense of relief that Trump was found guilty?

DAVIS: So I haven't talked to him, I can only say that from my experience with him, from the very beginning when I called him and asked if I could represent him, he's always stood tall and faced the facts of the injury that this man today, who claims everybody, everything is rigged, when juries rule against him, when judges rule against him, when he loses elections, everything is rigged. But Michael Cohen took the pain, went to prison for the very same crime that federal prosecutors said Mr. Cohen was directed to do by Mr. Trump.

BLITZER: Trump is going to be sentenced, as you know, July 11th. What sort of sentence do you think Judge Merchan will give him?

DAVIS: So, on this one, I have a conflicted reaction. I think he deserves to go to jail based upon 34 felonies, his lack of remorse and what he's been doing and continues to do to intimidate witnesses and commit contempt of court violating a court order. But I'm not in favor of incarcerating an ex-president. He can be penalized. He can be kept at home, but I'm not in favor of going beyond that. We have an election ahead, and voters, I do agree, that the end of Donald Trump's career should be from the ballot box, and I don't believe he should be incarcerated.

BLITZER: Do you think there's a chance that the verdict could be overturned on appeal?

DAVIS: Well, there is certainly a chance and that is the rule of law. It's the ironic sentence here, that the very same man that ignores the rule of law, that scorns the rule of law, scorns the results of elections, and has consistent criticism of juries because of where they're from as opposed to the facts that were overwhelming in convicting him of 34 felonies that now it's Mr. Trump complaining.

So, I would say that Mr. Trump only knows how to win when juries or judges rule against him, it's rigged, and Republican politicians who have no facts and just rhetoric in denouncing our justice system should be ashamed of themselves.

BLITZER: You were representing Michael Cohen for a long time. Did you ever think that the situation would come to what it has become, what it is right now?

DAVIS: I did not, because I never imagined that Mr. Trump, with all of his abuses of people, of due process, of the rule of law would ever be held to account, much less convicted of 34 felonies. When I started the honor of working with Michael Cohen, it was a hope that he would at least be held accountable. But never did I imagine that 34 felony, a unanimous vote, beyond a reasonable doubt, ignoring the shouting of liar, and liar, and liar, including people on television about Michael Cohen, when today, he has been vindicated, I never imagine that would happen.

BLITZER: Lanny Davis, thanks for coming in.

DAVIS: Thank you. And coming up, a closer look at how Donald Trump will be forced to pay for the crimes he has committed, with a judge weighing everything from picking up trash, to putting him behind bars. We're going to talk about that and more with the former FBI director, James Comey. He's here live.

Stand by. We'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump is staring down a July 11th sentencing date when he expects to learn his punishment for the conviction on 34 criminal charges.

Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the judge's sentencing options. Brian, there are clearly many factors for Judge Juan Merchan to consider.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are, Wolf. Donald Trump's age and his status as a first time offender are among the factors that Judge Merchan will be weighing. Tonight, we have new information on the many possible forms of punishment the judge could impose.


TODD (voice over): Tonight, Donald Trump's legal team has just a few weeks to come up with their best argument for why he shouldn't go to jail. July 11th is his sentencing date. Before then, the former president is likely to have to go through pre-sentencing interviews with probation officers, where he'd have to give personal information.

When Judge Juan Merchan does level the sentence, he has a few options. The most serious one, prison time, the crimes for which Trump's been convicted, falsifying business records, could carry sentences of up to four years each. But, realistically --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's unlikely that someone convicted of this type of felony in New York with no prior criminal history would see much, if any, prison time.


TODD (voice-over): Trump's advanced age experts say would also be a factor in not sending him to prison. Plus, the security challenge of putting a former or current president behind bars.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: His Secret Service detail would have to be armed. They would have to be with him. They would have to be able to control the process of where his food comes from, how it's delivered.

TODD: Another sentencing option, probation. Analysts say, well, that might be a more realistic choice. It would come with a host of inconveniences and indignities for the former president.

WILLIAMS: Having to be drug tested, having to check in with a probation officer.

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER MANHATTAN PROSECUTOR: There could be random visits by probation officers to your home, not with a search warrant, but they can come knock on the door and you need to let them in. TODD: Home confinement also might be part of a probation sentence for

Trump, or maybe a restriction on out-of-state travel.

MARTIN HORN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY CORRECTIONS AND PROBATION COMMISSIONER: If he were going to fly off to another state, Wisconsin, Arizona, he would have to get explicit permission from the probation agency.

TODD: Trump could simply be fined for his convictions or --

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, FORMER CHIEF ASSISTANT D.A. OF THE MANHATTAN D.A.'S OFFICE: He could do community service where he has to pick up trash on the subways.

TODD: Experts say a conditional discharge could be a sentencing option.

SALAND: As a condition of your discharge and your release, and you have to abide by those conditions. The court will say, don't get arrested, going -- and don't get in trouble for the next year, during the pendency of your sentence or for a stated period of time. And that's it. You're not checking in? No-ones following up with you. There's no probation. There's no oversight.

TODD: All options experts say reflective of the striking uniqueness of this situation.

MILLER: This is completely uncharted territory for the court system, for the secret service, for the department of corrections in New York City.


TODD: Legal analysts say acceptance of responsibility is often a key factor when a judge considers a sentence and the fact that Donald Trump has shown no remorse for the actions he has been convicted of and has repeatedly publicly attack the judge and witnesses in this trial could bring him a stiffer sentence -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See what happens on July 11th.

Brian Todd, thanks very much.

For more on this, we're joined now by the former FBI Director James Comey. He's written a very excellent brand new book entitled "Westport: A Crime Novel".

Thanks very much, Director Comey, for joining us.

Really a terrific book. I've gone through it. It's a crime novel and you know your stuff.


BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about -- we'll get to a little bit more to your book later, let's first of all talk about this monumental verdict, 34 counts, guilty, guilty, guilty. Could go on and on, what's your reaction?

COMEY: It's a great demonstration that the rule of law is alive in America. You may not lose supporters if you shot someone on Fifth Avenue or sack the Capitol, but you will be held accountable.

And this is what it looks like.

BLITZER: You heard the various options that the judge has as far as prison time, non-prison time, what do you think?

COMEY: It seems unlikely, but I've never seen a defendant begging for a jail sentence more than one who's taken a flame thrower to the judge and the jury. It still seems unlikely to me, but Donald Trump is asking for it.

BLITZER: How important is it that he's not showing any remorse at all?

COMEY: Well, very important to a sentencing judge and any defense lawyer would tell you that. You tell your clients to be on their best behavior, and tell the court, I've learned whatever lessons there are to learn. So please let me go about the rest of my life.

BLITZER: I'm curious to think what you -- so many of these Republicans in the House and the Senate and elsewhere are really going out and supporting Trump and arguing this was totally unfair. What do you make of that?

COMEY: They're just reflecting the view of his base of followers, and having done fraud cases, I get it. It's very hard for people to escape a fraud because it requires them to admit something about themselves. If you didn't leave Donald Trump after January 6, convictions are not going to change the way you think about them. You can't get away.

BLITZER: How worried are you and your the former FBI director about security, especially for the people in the courtroom, the judge and others, as well as the jurors for that matter.

COMEY: I'm worried about threats and individual acts of violence by disturb people who might be motivated by some of the hate and anger in MAGA world to act out on that. And so it's important to protect jurors, to protect participants so that these threats are never able to be carried out.

BLITZER: Does the FBI get involved in adding security for these individuals who, I assume, they are worried right now, knowing what's going on?

COMEY: Well, the FBI's role in connection with this would be to supply information intelligence about threats that it picks up through its work.

BLITZER: So if the FBI were to pick up that there was a threat against a juror, for example, who voted to convict Trump, what would you do?

COMEY: Oh, we feed it immediately to the New York City Police Department and to the other partners in the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York.

BLITZER: Would the juror himself or herself be notified?

COMEY: It would depend upon the nature of the threat. But if it was something that seemed imminent and substantive, sure, there'll be a visit, there'll be a security assessment and an offer of assistance to the juror.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, the special counsel, Jack Smith, is again seeking a gag order in the classified documents case down in Florida, saying the Trump's, quote, and I'm quoting now deceptive inflammatory claims expose the law enforcement professionals who are involved in this case to unjustified an unacceptable risks.


Those risks have the potential to undermine the integrity of the proceedings, as well as jeopardize the safety of lawn for law enforcement.

Do you think another gag order would be appropriate down there?

COMEY: It might be, narrowly tailored to address the risk that's raised by a former president, and his followers lying about the FBI, basically saying the FBI wanted to assassinate President Trump, former President Trump, which is nuts. But people respond to nuttiness.

BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about "Westport: A Crime Novel". This is -- this is fiction.

COMEY: Yeah, it's fiction. Try to make it as real as possible to take people inside of cases in situations I've known, but it's a whodunit. It's a murder. It's set in the world of financial management, in a hedge fund that hope folks will find it pretty fun summer read.

BLITZER: Yeah, it's really --

COMEY: You need a distraction today.

BLITZER: Oh, my God. It really -- you learn a lot readings as well because you know your stuff.

COMEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks for -- thanks for joining us. Thanks for writing "Westport: A Crime Novel".

COMEY: I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

And coming up, Donald Trump's conviction throwing another wrench into the 2024 race. We're going to talk with veteran strategist James Carville on how Democrats should run against the criminal.


BLITZER: The Trump campaign is touting a surge in fundraising since the former president's conviction, saying it's pulled in nearly $35 million in small donations.

Let's discuss this and more, the political implications of the Trump guilty verdicts with veteran Democratic strategist James Carville.

James, thanks so much for joining us.

This is clearly a very historic verdict, a former president of the United States being found guilty of 34 felonies. What do you think the political impact of this verdict will be?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think it's to be determined, but I think Democrats should point out, it did put up no defense. Trump, would fail to defend himself. He goes out and blows his stupid mouth outside of the courtroom.

He had a chance to take the stand. He could have said anything in they wanted to. He could defend himself.

They put it put that Abbott and Costello clown on, and that was the fig leaf of a defense that they put up. So I think we should be very, very -- pointed out. You did not defend yourself.

And the second thing Democrats should do, the jury, the jury, the jury. The jury in this country reign supreme. I hear this bloviate lawyer and, frankly, some of them on CNN, that think they know more than juries. You don't.

They sat there. They listened to the evidence. They weighed the evidence, and they came back with a unanimous verdict.

So I don't think we need to say much more than that. We believe in the jury system.


BLITZER: As you know, James, President Biden has been consistently behind in some of the polling in recent weeks to Donald Trump. Do you expect that will now change? And if it doesn't, what does that say about President Biden.

CARVILLE: Well, I -- you know, the polling has been pretty static for the last year and I think he should just do -- talk about how the jury system works.

I think Democrats like many point out that he's a coward. He had ever we chance to defend himself.

And the other thing, Wolf, is I see these -- Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, these people talking about a Manhattan jury, I got news for you -- Manhattan juries are pretty good. The crime rate Manhattan is way lower than it is in Florida. I don't know what these people are running away from but the crime rate in Manhattan specifically is very low and juries they are willing to convict people if they're guilty.

But what they're not going to do is -- they're going to convict guilty people. That's as simple as that. You don't defend yourself. They're going to find you guilty.

BLITZER: As you know, President Biden very, very briefly today addressed the Trump verdict. Do you think he and his campaign should talk more about this?

CARVILLE: I do not I think you should talk about things that are going to do. I wish they would talk more about raising the minimum wage. I wish had talked more about how to get and people tools to deal with this.

But this story hedge -- Wolf, you've been on this business forever and so am I, this story does not need more oxygen. It's a raging fire out there. You know what I mean? You don't need a timbal of kerosene on a raging forest in northern California, I can tell you that. There's plenty, plenty enough.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction, James, to how Republican lawmakers have reacted to this verdict. Watch and listen to this.


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

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

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: 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.


BLITZER: What do you make of that James?

CARVILLE: Well, I mean, Speaker Johnson from Louisiana. He went to the same law school I did. Apparently, he doesn't believe in juries. I do.

I know when I was in law school with LSU, they taught us that juries were foundation to our system, and that we should always believe in trust in the wisdom of them. And that's what happened.

And none of them have an answer for that. And I would ask Speaker Johnson, why didn't Trump defend himself? If this was all a rigged deal and he was being stopped from being talking, he had every right to take that stand and tell him his side the story.

He chickened out. He was scared. He said that he would. He didn't.

And I further don't think he's going to debate President Biden. I hope he does. It's going to be on CNN, June 27th. I think he's going to weasel out of that, too.

BLITZER: We will see. Do you have any concern, James, that this verdict potentially could backfire on Democrats and unite Trump's skeptical Republicans around the former president?

CARVILLE: You know, Wolf, I'm concerned about everything. I'm a political professional. Everything worries me, but I mean this sincerely that jury did its job. They've gotten us to claim that lead prosecutor it out to give him presidential Medal of Freedom.

But I think it's pretty static and pretty fixed out there. But at the end of the day, I do think it'll have an opaque effect on 22 percent of Republicans who voted these primaries for Haley and not Trump. I think it's going to make it difficult for them to vote for Trump, and it might be a point or two on that. I think it might be.

BLITZER: James Carville, thank you very, very much. We got to run.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.