Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Fumes About Hush Money Trial Date: "Not Fair... Right In The Middle Of An Election"; Trump Says He May Open Personal Wallet For Campaign Cash; Trump's Estimated Net Worth Doubles As Truth Social Hits Stock Market Tomorrow. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 21:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: They're out of action. The other two senior royals, the Queen, Camilla, and William are going to have to pick up their supporting spouses, at home, who've got cancer.

So, I think we're going to see a period of immense pressure, on the monarchy. They got to find a way to stay relevant. And, at the moment, they're really struggling to keep up.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Max Foster, thanks very much.

Well, the news continues. The special edition of "THE SOURCE," breaking down the former President's legal issues, starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins, on a rollercoaster ride, of legal developments, for Donald Trump, tonight.

The former President experiencing both the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat, all in a single day, two rulings, issued just about an hour apart, here in New York. And tonight, he and we have new dates, new deadlines, and new dollar amounts.

First, the bad news, if you're Donald Trump tonight, April 15th, Tax Day, is the day that Donald Trump is going to become the first former President, to face a criminal trial. It's perhaps the only one that might be held before the election, based on what we know now.

And the judge, in the Stormy Daniels hush money case flatly denying his legal team's efforts, to delay the trial any further, or to toss it out altogether, sending Trump on a tear, as he left the courtroom today.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They'd like the trial to start in 21 days or something. And I don't know how you can have a trial that's going on right in the middle of an election. Not fair.

Should have been started three years ago, if they were going to start it at all. And then, you wouldn't be quibbling over what week it's going to, and days.

They didn't start it because they didn't know I'd be running, and they didn't know how well I'd do.


COLLINS: That is not why this criminal trial is about to start.

But ironically enough, when he was asked earlier, if he was worried that a conviction could actually cost him the 2024 election, Trump said this.


TRUMP: Well it could also make me more popular, because the people know it's a scam.


COLLINS: The former President, as you might expect, after hearing a comment like that one, is planning to turn the courtroom drama into the campaign trail, and to play the victim. Really, though only time will tell if it'll pay off for him.

There was a ruling that did get Donald Trump's respect, as he put it today. That's the one by a New York appeals court, at the 11th hour, cutting that bond that he has to pay, by more than half, as he appeals a civil fraud case. It's now $175 million, instead of nearly half a billion. And they gave him 10 more days to secure that bond.


TRUMP: I greatly respect the decision of the Appellate Division, and I'll post either $175 million in cash or bonds or security or whatever is necessary, very quickly, within the 10 days. And I thank the Appellate Division for acting quickly.


COLLINS: It speaks to how worried Donald Trump was, about that half a billion dollar bond that he is now happy about only having a $175 million one.

I have some new reporting, tonight. A person familiar with his finances tells me that they do expect Trump will be able to secure that much lower bond, within the next 10 days, as the court ordered today. But it won't be without difficulty, and it could also notably reduce the cash that he has available to him.

If not for this last-hour reprieve, the state could have started seizing his assets today, or as he referred to them, this morning, his babies.

I want to bring in CNN Political Analyst, and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, who was in that courtroom today, as all of this was playing out.

What was Trump's demeanor like? MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: So, Trump was actually more subdued for part of it then, we saw him in the second E. Jean Carroll trial, than he was in the Engoron trial, where he was constantly scowling, shaking his head. He did do some of that, to be clear, and he did start fidgeting.

He got most visibly irritated, and this is right before the ruling came down, reducing the size of the bond, as Judge -- Justice Merchan was questioning Trump's lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, who had a rough morning, with the Justice.

The Justice -- Justice Merchan did not believe in what Todd Blanche was saying, about why the trial should be delayed, did not believe in what Todd Blanche was saying about why he believed that the D.A.'s office had committed significant misconduct, in terms of not turning over specific documents, related to Michael Cohen.

And this went on and on and on, for a while. And Trump was just staring at his lead lawyer, as this was going on. Now, my understanding is that Trump was directing his ire toward Merchan, not toward his lawyer. And we know Trump can be very tough on his legal teams.

But then, he got this reprieve. And so, after that, he was entirely changed, in his demeanor, when he came back into the courtroom, after a recess.

COLLINS: You could tell that his mood had changed.

HABERMAN: A 100 percent. And he was smiling at somebody, in the audience, and he sat down and was less irritated. He shook his head, and made sort of one of these faces we've come to see him make, when the judge set the trial date. But that was unusual, this morning.


COLLINS: What do you think it'll be like though? I mean, do you think it's set in for him, the trial's actually--


COLLINS: --starting in three weeks?

HABERMAN: Absolutely not. Now, I'm told that he does understand that this is not likely that he's going to win on appeal. It's a slim to none chance, in trying to delay this further, and that the trial will start in 21 days. But I don't think this is going to become real for him, until we get much closer to it.

And Kaitlan, I have to say that sitting in that courtroom, for him, four days a week, there's going to be a pause on Wednesdays, but four days a week in this very dingy sort of Bonfire of the Vanities type courtroom is going to be a pretty interesting to watch.

COLLINS: I mean, for someone, though, who kind of is described as stuck in the 1980s-- HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: --court.

HABERMAN: Preserved in Amber, yes. I don't -- I don't know that being stuck in the Manhattan criminal court is exactly--

COLLINS: Well it's--

HABERMAN: --how he had in mind being that way.

COLLINS: I mean, and it's not just physically being in court. It's also being there, while Michael Cohen could be testifying.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: Stormy Daniels.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: Karen McDougal.

I mean, all of these moments that did not go well, for Trump, and in the first year of his time, in the White House, certainly not with his relationship with Melania Trump.

HABERMAN: You're getting to the point that a lot of his aides will talk about privately, which is that they believe there is a chance, of a hung jury, in this case. There's always a chance of a hung jury in this, you know, that's it just takes one. They know.

And they believe that even if he's convicted, that it's not the worst fact set for him, in legally. Now, maybe that's true, when you compare it to conspiracy to defraud the United States, in terms of the J6 trial, or the documents case in Florida.

But it is a set of personal details that really get under his skin. As you noted, remember, he would in White House meetings, just start talking about how he didn't actually have an affair with Stormy Daniels, and he would ask people what they thought of calling her Horseface, and on and on and on.

And so, this is going to get under his skin. What that means in terms of how he acts, outside the courtroom, how he acts on the campaign trail, I think, remains to be seen. But we have seen his ire with these cases, bleed into his rallies. And I anticipate that will be the same because he's likely going to be doing events on weekends.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, he couldn't even stop talking about E. Jean Carroll--


COLLINS: --after he was found to -- who defamed her--

HABERMAN: Well, he-- COLLINS: And it was costing him a ton of money.

HABERMAN: That was when he couldn't stop doing it. He had stopped doing it, until he put up that bond, which was more than $90 million. And then, when he did that, he started attacking her again.

And so, I do think that watching how one thing in court leads to something outside of court is going to be significant, for all of us, watching this campaign.

COLLINS: And afterward, he went to 40 Wall Street, one of the properties that could have been seized, potentially, by the Attorney General, in the other case, the civil fraud case.

He held a press conference. And you asked him a question. And this is how he answered.


HABERMAN: Do you think you should get an -- can you get an acquittal in this trial, in the Merchan trial?

TRUMP: Well I shouldn't have a trial. This is not a trial. This is not an act of criminality.

HABERMAN: But you are having one, so do you--

TRUMP: I don't know if we're having one. We're going to be appealing, right now. I can tell you that. We did nothing wrong, just like I did nothing wrong in the other case. My statements, my financial statements were conservative. They were low, not high. I mean, he valued Mar-a-Lago at a tiny fraction of what it is.

He made Mar-a-Lago, you know it very well, Maggie, he made Mar-a-Lago into $18 million.


COLLINS: I mean, you were asking about this case.


COLLINS: But he's pivoted, very quickly, to talking about -- even though his bond was cut, in less than half, still bothered by that, clearly.

HABERMAN: Well, I would actually say two things.

I think that it was the one thing that he could treat like a success. So, he tried to push it that way, number one. But number two -- and that's, I think, how he was treating it throughout the day.

But number two, I asked him about, does he think he can get an acquittal because, as you noted, he said, at some point during this conversation with reporters, this is a scam, you know, this trial is a scam, so this will help me. These charges are a scam, it'll help me with voters.

Well, if you think that? Then, I don't know why you wouldn't expect an acquittal, and just want to get through this. So, I was struck by his avoiding the answer.

COLLINS: Well, and he was also, at one point, he was also saying that Biden is directing a lot of this, and then saying, well, he didn't know if Biden is--

HABERMAN: Yes, well that's--

COLLINS: --competent enough to direct it. But--

HABERMAN: He's -- right. He's both a mastermind, and not capable of doing it.


COLLINS: Right, which it was an argument, it contradicted itself in one sentence.


COLLINS: But on his other claim he's been making that he wanted to use this money, to fund his presidential campaign. I mean, he has not -- he'd not made one utterance of that--


COLLINS: --before Friday.

HABERMAN: No, he posted this on Truth Social. And what was incredible about it was that he posted the idea that, I had all -- I have all this cash, and I was going to use it to fund my campaign. But now, I have to pay this judgment.

And he has not funded his campaign since 2016. And even then, he only partially funded. He still raised donations in 2020. He raised a significant amount of money, as a sitting president. There has been no indication he was going to self-fund. He's not paying for his own lawyers, right now. He is using donations from small-dollar donors, to pay for his lawyers, and to pay for the lawyers of other people. So, that was a pretty clear straw-man.

Now, if he suddenly decides he's going to put a lot of money into his campaign, then we'll all be surprised. He is at a huge disparity with President Biden, in terms of fundraising. But I don't expect that's where this is going.

COLLINS: On what we're hearing, about that they think that they can cover the $175 million--

HABERMAN: Yes, I've heard something similar.


COLLINS: But that it'll hurt his -- his -- what he does have in cash.

HABERMAN: Yes, he doesn't have endless operating cash at his company. It's not clear to me if we're talking about actual cash, or if we're talking about securities that he would have to liquidate. I don't know what the tax implications are. I do think that he will be able to do this more easily. But 10 days, if he seeks a bond, is not a lot of time.

And to your point, if he puts it up in cash? Look, they are looking at this to see -- and others would have smarter takes on this than I will. I'm not a lawyer. But they are looking at this to see if this means that the appeals court, in New York, will ultimately reduce the judgment overall. And that's not going to happen for several months, where they make a decision one way or the other. It's still going to hurt him in the short-term.

COLLINS: Maggie Haberman, always great to have you on set--

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: --after being in the courtroom today. Thank you for that.

We do have a lawyer here tonight. CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig is here with me.

Elie, I mean, what you were just hearing, about what this judgment is going to, or what this reduced bond is going to look like, whether or not he can cover it. Trump's attorney, one of them that actually argued and lost this case, Alina Habba, just weighed in, on what happened today with that appeals court.

This is what she said.


JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: What happened today?

ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: We won. You know? No, we didn't win. You know when we'll win? When we get this all reversed, which is what's going to happen.

But you know, I hope she took a little piece of humble pie today, because that's what was served to her, just a little. But we'll be -- we'll be serving a lot more of that in the next couple of years.


ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Wow, a boastful claim there, by Alina Habba.

The first thing she said was we won? That's a premature declaration of victory, to say the least. That's like spiking the football, at the 50-yard line. I mean, they got a nice ruling today. But to say we won, is a ridiculous thing. She needs to sort of get with it a little bit here. Because in any case, you're going to have decisions you win, decisions you lose, you're going to have ups and downs. And you can't get too down, and you certainly can't celebrate like you've just won the game, when you get one pre-trial -- pre-appeal, in this case, ruling

COLLINS: Based on what Maggie was saying that some people are going to be looking to see whether or not the appeals court reducing what the bond that Trump has to put up. Does that mean, they could potentially be more sympathetic and reducing the ultimate judgment here? What do you think?

HONIG: So, it's possible. But it's really important to understand, Donald Trump still owes $454 million. That's still the verdict. That's still the judgment amount. He will appeal that. What happened today has nothing to do with that.

What happened today is a separate question of how much does he has to post in a bond, while the appeal's ongoing. So, he got that number reduced down to $175 million. But he still owes $454 million.

Now, it does signal some acceptance by an appeals panel, that the $454 million amount was excessive for a bond. But first of all, he's going to get another, a different appeals panel, when he actually appeals the case. And what happened today has no bearing on the actual judgment itself.

COLLINS: Is it normal, for an appeals court, to reduce something, a bond like this, by this much?

HONIG: It happens, for sure. I think we talked about last week. There are examples of appeals courts reducing bonds by 80 percent, 90 percent. There's a case that Trump cited in his brief, where a $12 million bond was knocked down to $1 million. So, it happens.

It was a nice outcome for Trump today. It saved him quite a bit of heartache, I think, over the next couple weeks. But to claim that he won is ridiculous.

COLLINS: Does the interest still accrue, in the meantime, do we know?

HONIG: Yes. So, I think that once the bond is posted, the interest stops accruing, because now you've secured it and things get put on hold.

COLLINS: OK. So, back to the hush money trial that's slated to start in three weeks.


COLLINS: Something that obviously Trump's team walked into that room today, hoping to change.

To what Maggie was saying about what this is going to be like, to be in the court, for six weeks.

HONIG: Yes. COLLINS: If that's how long it goes. What's that going to be like for Trump?

HONIG: I don't think Donald Trump appreciates how grueling, and how all-consuming, and how stressful it is, to be on trial.

I mean, I've lived this. I used to try cases. I'd sleep three hours a night. I would like forget to eat. I would end up a physical wreck. He has to be there. And I wasn't even the one whose liberty was at stake. I was the prosecutor. I had the easy part. He has to be in that courtroom four days a week, for six to eight weeks.

This is nothing like what we've seen so far, in the civil cases, where he sort of comes and goes at will. He's there a day. He's not there a day. It's going to be exhausting. Look, he's defending himself. His liberty is at stake. And he's off the campaign trail, for that time, too. So, it's a whole different ballgame that he's about to enter.

COLLINS: What's your take, on what happened today, with the judge, and Todd Blanche?

Todd Blanche, for the people who don't know is Trump's lead counsel. He's not the only attorney in that room.

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: But he was one of three, I believe, who were at the table today.

What's your sense of that back-and-forth, and whether it's just a one- off happening today? Or what that could mean going forward?

HONIG: Well, I think Todd Blanche overplayed his hand today. I think he argued more than he needed to, more than he credibly could have. He asked the judge to throw this case out, based on a discovery violation. But discovery violations happen. And the evidence, as the judge found, showed that it was not intentional by the D.A.'s office.


And the problem is you have to protect your credibility, especially with the judge, especially with the jury. We're not there yet. But judges will decide pretty quickly, do I trust this lawyer or not? And if you don't, that's going to stick with you, the whole trial.

Todd knows that. I mean I used to work with him at the Southern District of New York. So, I think he made a mistake today. Whether that was of his own volition, or client service, I guess we would put it, is to be determined.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, the judge brought up that experience, working at the SDNY, when saying--

HONIG: Yes. He said, you should know better.

COLLINS: You should know better. HONIG: Yes.

COLLINS: Elie Honig, great to have you.

Maggie Haberman, thank you as well.

Ahead here, we have reaction to Trump's big break on that bond, from the man who co-wrote "The Art of the Deal," where he sees all of this money drama going.

Plus, the billions that could be coming Trump's way, from his social media venture, why it's raising questions? That's coming up.



COLLINS: Welcome back.

Of course, there are big questions of what today is going to mean, for Trump, on the campaign trail.

Of course, he is going to be in court, in three weeks from today, the first former President to ever face a criminal trial. And as he brought up, multiple times today, the election, and what this could mean for November. Though, he did say at one point that he believed it could potentially help him.

He has also been claiming election interference, and blaming President Biden, even though President Biden, of course, as we know, has had nothing to do with this.

We have two of our best political strategists here, to talk about this.

Jamal Simmons, who worked in the Biden White House.

And Alyssa Farah Griffin, who was the Communications Director, in the Trump White House.

And just looking at this Alyssa, I mean, on the bond itself, Trump's getting basically 60 percent less than what he was initially going to have to pay. I think the question, even though that was kind of a win for him today, he seemed much more fixated on that than the criminal trial that's fast-approaching.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, listen, Donald Trump's got more lives than a cat. This was a huge win for him. He is -- today was objectively a good day, though some losses for him.

The reality is this. Republican voters that I talked to, of all stripes, even those who are not as favorable to Donald Trump, care very little about both the hush money case and this New York real estate case. They don't see it as having an impact, on how they're going to vote, on Election Day. The cases they do care about are January 6th, Fulton County and the

documents cases, all of which it's an open question, if we'll see any of them resolved before Election Day. So, Donald Trump continues to win, so long as he's actually just buying time and running out the clock on those cases.

COLLINS: Right. And maybe it's one that his legal team doesn't view as much of a threat, even though, as Maggie was saying, it's personally one of the most difficult, for him to deal with.

But the calendar is real. And when you look at what he's going to be in court, and as Elie was describing, how many days he's going to be putting in, there is a real sense here, of what this could mean for the campaign trail.

But as he was talking about election interference today, I looked up. He's only done two campaign events, in the last since Super Tuesday. That was three weeks ago. Even though he has not been in a courtroom, he's not necessarily vigorously campaigning.


And think about this. Joe Biden, who everyone says is this frail old man, has done, I think, five events, in the last week. He's been to every super -- every swing state, since the State of the Union, right? He is running a really robust calendar, in terms of the presidential schedule. So, the President is out there.

Listen, they're lapping Donald Trump on money, right? The campaign did $53 million, versus Trump's $16 million of fundraising, in the last filing.

COLLINS: The Biden campaign?

SIMMONS: The Biden campaign did $53 million versus Trump's $16 million. They are in a really good position. What they have to do, though, is to continue to make the message, to the rest of the country, about what they're going to do in the future, and how another term of Biden-Harris is going to make everybody's lives better.

COLLINS: And do you think they're doing that enough? Or is it just?


COLLINS: I liked the honesty.

SIMMONS: No, they're not.

Listen, I do this for a living. It's hard to know exactly what it is the proposals are going to be, for next year. They've got to make that more robust.

I think it's very helpful for us to talk a lot about what happened in the last four years, three years. But we've got to talk more about what's going to happen, in the next four years, because campaigns are rewards for good behavior. They're always about the future. And they've got to be focused on that.


COLLINS: Go ahead.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I was going to say, this money issue is very real for Donald Trump, by the way. So, at this time, in 2020, the RNC had $77 million cash on hand. Right now, they have $11 million.

A factor in why I think cash on hand, I think a fact in why you're not seeing him out campaigning as fervently is doing those big rallies cost a lot of money. He's not in a position to do that. So, I think you're going to see him rely more heavily, on an earned-media strategy, which is--

COLLINS: Oh, that's interesting. You think he's doing fewer events, because he doesn't have any money.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think it's definitely a factor. And it's part of it's the calendar too that he's going to be expected to be in a courtroom.

But yes, going out in front of a courtroom, and kind of making this speech, knowing networks are going to cut in and they're going to cover it, I think that's a big part of the campaign strategy.

SIMMONS: So one--

COLLINS: Well, he was today talking about his campaign cash struggles, and essentially what that has looked like.

And he was asked are you going to use your -- go into your own wallet, to help you here? This is what he told reporters.


REPORTER: Are you going to start putting money into your campaign?

TRUMP: Yes. Yes.

REPORTER: You haven't done that since 2016?

TRUMP: Well, first of all, it's none of your business, I mean, frankly. But I might. I might do that. I have the option. But if I have to spend $500 million on a bond, I wouldn't have that option. I'd have to start selling things.


COLLINS: He said yes, yes. Then it went to, quickly, I might use some of that money.

SIMMONS: Yes. Even on cable television, we shouldn't use swear words.

But that is not true.

[21:25:00] If anything, what we know about Donald Trump, in recent history is one, he hasn't spent any of his money since 2016. And two, he's actually been spending campaign cash on lawyers. So, it's going in the reverse. So, there's just no sense that he is on the verge of spending his own money, in order to get himself elected.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And this is absolutely insane to me that Republicans are OK with this.

If you're a down-ballot candidate, you're in a vulnerable Senate seat, or a potential Senate pickup, as a Republican? Knowing that the RNC is paying Trump's legal bills, that he's draining it, that we have the least money that we've had in decades to spend, at this time in election cycle, this will have down-ballot consequences, and it is purely of Trump's own doing.

SIMMONS: There is one other thing about not doing events.

If you are doing live events in states, those are organizing opportunities. So, I know the field people have got to be pulling their hair out. Because every one of those people who comes into an event, they get a ticket, they know their cell phone number, they know how to contact them. These are times, where they're like grabbing up real-life humans, who can be helpful to the campaign.

They're not doing that, which means if he's going to go a narrow casting strategy, where he's just trying to get every single voter he can, who agrees with him out, he's leaving a lot of voters on the table.

COLLINS: Well, and he keeps claiming election interference. But I mean, he's using this moment, to benefit him. I mean, immediately after hearing from that appeals court, he was saying, hands off Trump Tower, and was blasting out fundraising emails, about the bond situation.

FARAH GRIFFIN: I think he does know that with these small-dollar diehard donors, they are going to give, if they feel like he's under attack. So, he's going to lean into that strategy.

But he also has this mindset. And I remember when I worked in the White House. If there's a crisis or something's bad is happening, and the cameras are on me, I should use that to my advantage. So, I think that's also a factor in it, as he's thinking, if I have the media paying attention, even if it's for negative, because it's a court trial, he's going to use that, to make a statement about politics, and try to lean into it.

COLLINS: Yes. And we saw that statement from the Biden campaign, also responding today, calling him weak and desperate, saying not just as a candidate, but also as a president.

Jamal Simmons, Alyssa Farah Griffin, great to have you both here.

SIMMONS: Thank you. COLLINS: And speaking of Donald Trump's mindset, when it comes to his money and his finances, who better to ask about that than Tony Schwartz, the author who actually wrote "The Art of the Deal," not Donald Trump, someone who's been speaking out publicly about this.

We'll get his thoughts on the other side of a quick break.



COLLINS: He has been found liable in court, for being a serial fraudster in his business. But that hasn't put much of a ding, or really much less of a dent, in Donald Trump's supreme confidence to sell himself and protect his brand.


TRUMP: I have a lot of cash and a great company. I mean, to think they want to go after a company. This is a great company, a company that's doing very well.

I've got very low debt, on buildings, like this building, I have very low debt in this building. Most buildings, I have no debt. Most clubs, I have no debt. You took -- look at my greatest assets, I have no debt.

I didn't even include like brand value. And the brand value's, I became president because of the brand, let's say. But the brand values, it's one of the most valuable brand values. I think it's -- I wouldn't swap it for any other brand in the world.


COLLINS: He was standing there, in 40 Wall Street, as he made those comments that sound like something straight out of "The Art of the Deal," that 1987 book that turned Trump the man, into Trump the myth, and made him a household name.

But joining me, tonight, is the man who actually wrote that book that had Trump's name on it, Author Tony Schwartz.

And Mr. Schwartz, it's great to have you here.

I mean, as you know probably better than anyone else, given the time you spent with him, to write that book, he puts up a good front. But when you get to the man, who's behind the curtain, what do you think he's more worried about, tonight? This criminal trial that's approaching, or the money that he's going to have to pay, for the bond, tonight?

TONY SCHWARTZ, AUTHOR: Money always comes first. And it's not just whether he has a lot of money, because he has plenty of money, to do whatever he wants to do. It's really the psychological impact, of appearing to be less than he has always claimed to be. Just listening, Kaitlan, to the set of remarks that you threw up there, there is so little that he says that it's true. I sometimes wonder if there's anything he says that's true anymore.

There're probably 10 or 12 lies in what he just said, including the preposterous notion that he doesn't have a lot of debt. Of course, he has a lot of debt. But he is fully capable of just saying something that is completely deceitful. Why?

Why is he capable of it? Because he's a sociopath. And that's really the most important thing for people to realize that a sociopath, not just the person who's self-absorbed and narcissistic, but a sociopath has no conscience. And a sociopath therefore can say anything and never feel an ounce of guilt.

And what he's done is he's almost made sociopathy contagious. He's almost made it OK, to say whatever you want, whether it's true or not, and to be proud of having lied about it.

We look at that even with Ronna McDaniel, right now. No wonder it's blowing up. This is a person, who lied continuously, to many of the people, who just agreed to hire her.

What are we thinking? We are -- we've lost our way. We've lost our way.


COLLINS: When you say that people aren't always capable of realizing, what he says, and what the actual truth is, how does a moment like the one that we're in, where he can't put up that half a billion dollar bond despite claiming he had half a billion dollars, why doesn't that break through to people do you think?

SCHWARTZ: Because he has set himself -- the one skill Donald Trump has, and it is literally the only skill, is to -- is to play people, is to be a -- to be -- what's the word for it? He is capable of making people believe something that is utterly preposterous, simply by repeating it over and over and over again. So, it knocks truth out of the equation.

COLLINS: But it's notable what you just said there, referencing Ronna Romney McDaniel, and her efforts, either just what she publicly said about the election, things that weren't true, her own actions related to it.

You're basically saying that Trump has taken Trumpism, and it's pervasive now. It's something that's not just limited to him, the individual. It's spread to everybody.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, I don't want to say to everybody.


SCHWARTZ: I hope it hasn't spread to you. And I hope it hasn't spread to me. But it's spread very, very wide. And it's spread around the world.

This whole sort of un -- we are unmoored from reality, you know? If you have a tree that has very shallow roots, what happens to that tree is that when the wind blows, the branches move in the, you know, in response to the prevailing winds.

And conscience is blowing in the wind. Conscience is blowing in the wind. It's not a quality that you get much credit for anymore. Truthfulness is not so important in the firmament.

COLLINS: I have to get your take on something he said.

Because I was rereading today, your thoughts, when he came down, that escalator, announced he was running for president, and said, because he wrote "The Art of the Deal" that he -- that made him qualified? And you said, well, great, I'll run for president, since I'm actually the one who wrote it.

He was asked, today, about this idea of maybe taking foreign money, to help with his legal troubles. This is what he -- what he said, in response to that.


TRUMP: I think you'd be allowed to possibly. I don't know. I mean, if you go borrow from a big bank, many of the banks are outside of this, as you know, the biggest banks, frankly, are outside of our country. So, you could do that. But I don't need to borrow money. I have a lot of money.


COLLINS: Do you think he'd do that?

SCHWARTZ: 100 percent, without any question, in a New York minute, or a London minute, or a Middle Eastern minute.

But he is -- he is more than willing to do anything, right now. I mean, look at his range of remarks, over the last month or two. I would say, even earlier, in his presidency, many of the things he said, over the last several weeks, would have eliminated him, would have -- would have destroyed him.

But he is, as a writer in the New York Times said today, he is now a gangster, you know? He's a Mafia Don. He's, you know, it's mind- boggling to think that this is a person, who people can look at and say, oh, he's a reasonable -- he's a reasonable choice to be President of the United States.

He's -- he belongs in a prison. And we'll see whether that gets adjudicated before the election. But that's where he belongs.

COLLINS: Tony Schwartz, great to have your perspective on this, tonight.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you. COLLINS: We'll have some legal analysis, on what we heard from Mr. Schwartz there, and also just on what this criminal trial will actually look like when it plays out just three weeks from today. Will the former President himself take the stand? Could that cause him trouble, based on what the person who ghost-wrote his book just said?

Back in a moment.



COLLINS: When Donald Trump becomes the first former President, to stand trial, on criminal charges, next month, jurors could actually hear, from Trump himself, on the witness stand.


REPORTER: Will you testify if that trial goes forward through with this?

TRUMP: I would have no problem testifying. I didn't do anything wrong.


COLLINS: Despite Trump's efforts, to keep them off the stand, in the New York hush money trial, prosecutors have also lined up some pretty familiar names as their potential star witnesses.

Michael Cohen, who you've seen on this show, who was Trump's longtime lawyer and fixer; along with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Both of those women say that they had affairs with Donald Trump, and that they were paid off, to keep quiet about it.

We have former federal prosecutors, Elliot Williams and Shan Wu here, to break it all down.

Elliot, just if you're the prosecutor here, do you want Donald Trump taking the stand?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely, positively, to a mathematical certainty, yes, Kaitlan. You absolutely want Donald Trump to take the stand.

Now look, defendants, in the United States, have a right not to take the stand. You know the language. You have the right to remain silent. Well, that extends to trial as well. He does not have to.

And frankly, many people want to take the stand, in their own defense, to try to clear their own names.


And jurors often are suspicious when defendants don't take the stand, to the point that judges often instruct juries, as they will in New York, don't draw anything from a defendant's choice not to testify. Donald Trump would be a disaster, on the witness stand, because he can't control what he says. He is at the mercy of the prosecutor, who's cross-examining him. And every statement that he's made in the past that contradicts anything at trial could probably be used against him. So, it could be really bad. And I'm sure that his attorneys would probably advise him, it wouldn't be a great idea.

COLLINS: Well, Shan, we did see him testify, in civil court, in the civil trial that he was under. Of course, he had to be reprimanded by the judge. The judge was saying, don't say these untrue things. Don't go on these rants. I mean, how would that play in a criminal court?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Totally agree with Elliot. I think those examples of his behavior in the civil trials would be Exhibit A, as to why he'll be a disaster in a criminal trial.

And very importantly, a lot of these civil trials he's been, and those have been bench trial, there's no jury there. And it's much more damaging to his own cause, when he's in front of a jury, seeing that kind of behavior versus a judge.

I mean, in part, I think that's why he was allowed or allowed himself to go so far off the rails, in those cases. I think he's aware of the difference between a jury and a bench trial. But with a jury trial, much more damaging.

COLLINS: Yes, that's a good point. Because in the last case, it was just a judge, who was in there, who was making that ultimate determination about how big his bond or his -- excuse me, his judgment was going to be, in the civil fraud case.

And Elliot, we heard from Trump, after it was decided by the judge to not delay this case any further, to keep that April 15th start date.

This is what he said after. And I should note, these are several false statements by the former President.


TRUMP: I don't know that you're going to have the trial. I don't know how you can have a trial like this in the middle of an election, a presidential election. And this is, again, this is a Biden trial.


COLLINS: It's not a Biden trial. I should note that--


COLLINS: --this is brought by the Manhattan District Attorney.

But I mean, is there anything that says you can't have a trial in an election year?

WILLIAMS: No, there really isn't. Now, the Justice Department in Washington, the federal Justice Department, not the State of New York, has a policy of not initiating new actions, not arresting people, or find -- you know, searching people's houses in the two months before an election, of a candidate, so as not to put a thumb on the scale of an election.

But a trial, frankly, that was filed in March of 2023, can take place in an election season. Nothing prohibits that. And that's simply wrong. And the idea that it's a Biden trial, when in fact, it is brought by state, local prosecutors, in New York, is simply a lie. It is not true.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, Shan, it's been almost a year to the day since Alvin Bragg, the District Attorney here, brought this case. What did you make of what he said about it? Because he's going to be saying that the entire six weeks this trial plays out.

WU: Yes, that's about all he has to say about it. If I were Trump today, I would be furious, with my defense counsel--


WU: --because they are not putting on a good show, for him. And they botched that hearing today.

And worst of all, I think, from Trump's point of view, they have signaled their fear of the main prosecution witnesses, Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen, they're so afraid of them, that they filed this silly motion, to exclude their testimony, and they got slam-dunk lost on that.

So, that really bodes well. And it's they've shown exactly what they are most afraid of, what their weaknesses are. So, I think it really bodes very poorly for him, at trial.

COLLINS: Well, Elliot, one of the parts that was -- for those, who weren't watching, every minute of it today, of the back-and-forth with the judge and Trump's team, was on these documents that they have now gotten that are related to Michael Cohen, who we do expect to testify.


COLLINS: He told us, he's prepared to testify at that.

And essentially, Trump's team could not point to a specific number of documents that they now believe could be included here. They claimed they could be exculpatory. And also couldn't say you know exactly what it was that they may use.

I mean, is that part of their not wanting to give away with their defense is going to be?


COLLINS: What do you -- what did you read into that?

WILLIAMS: No. I mean, I think it's probably they're being cute. And now, the simple fact is, a defendant is entitled to see the

evidence against him. And if it's in the form of documents, they're entitled to see them.

But now -- but if you're claiming that prosecutors are hiding documents, or engaging in misconduct or whatever else, you have to be able to back that up. And you can't simply wave a magic wand, as an attorney, and say that there's a certain number of documents that we think are out there that we haven't seen.

And no, I actually, just based on what I saw, it seemed that they were -- they were playing a little fast and loose there. And the judge did at a couple points today, scold them for it, in terms that frankly, as a lawyer, it's very lonely and hurts to have that happen, when you're standing up in court, and you lose the judge's favor.

COLLINS: Lot of attorneys who wish they had magic wands.

Elliot Williams, Shan Wu, thank you so much, for being here tonight.


WU: Good to see you.

WILLIAMS: Take care.


COLLINS: And of course, as all of these legal cases are piling up, in legal fees, potentially costing him a fortune, there is a notable development on the other side of Trump's money, tonight, where he could potentially stand to earn a fortune, billions I'm talking about here, because Truth Social, his website is going to begin trading in just hours from now.

More on how and why, after a quick break.



COLLINS: Tonight, as we speak, Donald Trump may be heading toward what amounts to ultimately be a multibillion dollar windfall. His estimated net worth doubled, just today, as Truth Social closes its deal to go public, ahead of trading that is expected to start tomorrow.

Bloomberg estimates tonight that his net worth spiked by $4 billion, just today, to $6.5 billion. It's quite the change of fortune, considering just this morning, he was staring down a half billion dollar bond deadline, with the Attorney General, here in New York, poised to seize his assets.

Joining me tonight is Senior Forbes Editor, Dan Alexander.

And, Dan, I know you've been covering Truth Social and this saga that it's been on, for years now. And it generated just, I was looking at the numbers, $3.4 million of revenue through the first nine months of last year. But -- and it posted a net loss of $49 million, over that span.

I think the question, given how much money it's about to make him, is Truth Social good business?

DAN ALEXANDER, SENIOR EDITOR, FORBES: Truth Social is a bad business. The founding premise of this business was that Twitter was too liberal, and everybody who was conservative needed to move on to Trump's platform.

Well, now it's been operating for a few years. And Trump has less than 7 million followers, on his platform, compared to 87 million that he still has, on Twitter. As you pointed out, the revenue is next to nothing. They're generating roughly $1 of revenue per user, whereas they were predicting that they were going to generate roughly $13 per user by 2026.

So, by any measure, this business has been a failure. But that doesn't mean -- just that a business is a failure doesn't mean that there can't be mania around it, which is what you're seeing in the public markets, right now.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, but walk us through that. How is this happening? If it's not a good -- if it's a bad business, how are we about to witness what's happening tomorrow with, when it starts trading?

ALEXANDER: Well, there are a lot of people, who although the financials are terrible, and their business operations don't look to be strong, love the hope that this brings. And Trump is a master at creating hype. And this is a perfect example of it.

So, they're investing, these are retail investors, mom-and-pop people, who believe in Donald Trump, or maybe just want to get in on the next meme stock craze, and are willing to gamble some money on it, are investing huge amounts of money, to buy a couple of shares, or in some cases, hundreds of thousands of shares, betting that someday either this business will become successful, or there will be somebody else, who's even less concerned about the financials than they are, that they will pay a higher price for it. It's a classic bubble stock.

There have been a lot of meme stocks in the last few years. And if you take Trump, the meme stock era, combine it with a stack merger, you'd got all of the ingredients for a super hyped-up vehicle. And that's what we're seeing, although it has no relationship to the actual financials or performance of the business.

COLLINS: I mean, that's just so striking, as we've been talking about this like arc of Donald Trump's finances, from the beginning of the show, to right now, what's going to happen tomorrow. I mean, it seems to have a lot of parallels, to what we've seen him do in the past.

ALEXANDER: That's right. If you go back to the start of Donald Trump's career, he's always found people, who were willing to give him piles of cash, even when they should have been wary of doing just that. So, this started in Atlantic City, first with traditional banks, who were willing to finance these enormous projects that he was building there on the beach.

Then, after many of them went bankrupt, he went to the public markets in the mid-1990s. And there were lots of retail investors back then, and say, ooh, Trump's exciting, we want to get in on his casino ventures. And they bet on him. Ultimately, that publicly-traded company declared bankruptcy twice, and Trump sort of left in disgrace.

Then, he started selling these developments, with his name on it, where many of the people, who were interested in getting into the developments, didn't realize that they weren't Trump's products. They were other people's. But he was just putting his name on them. And but he made a bunch of cash in those, even in cases where the ventures failed.

And now, we have yet again, in finding meme stock traders, and his political followers, who are willing to throw money at him, even though it makes no financial sense.

COLLINS: So what's tomorrow, what's it actually going to look like for him specifically?

ALEXANDER: So, the bell is going to ring. And all of a sudden, this stock is going to be trading. And he's going to be sitting on an enormous pile of shares that could theoretically be worth a lot of money.

Now, here's the really important caveat here. Donald Trump cannot sell or even borrow against these shares, for about six months, until his lockup periods is over.

In those six months, he has a delicate dance to play, because on the one hand, he has to keep people excited, about this business, even though its financials are a disaster. And then, in six months, if he is smart about it, he will want to dump all of his shares.


And so, it's a really cynical play, to try to keep everybody along with him, for as long as he can, until he finally pulls the rug out from under them. And then, at that moment, if he does dump -- except for one, he's still, because of an unusual provision in how this deal is struck, will still be able to maintain control of the company.

COLLINS: Dan Alexander, I mean, it will be a fascinating six months, to see what happens there, in the end, with his shares.


COLLINS: Great to have your reporting on this. Thank you so much, for covering it so closely.

ALEXANDER: Thank you.

COLLINS: And thank you so much, for joining us.

"LAURA COATES LIVE" starts, right now.