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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Key Hush Money Witness Michael Cohen Testifies About Personal Conversations With Trump Over Stormy Daniels Payment; Full Transcript Of Star Witness Michael Cohen Testimony Just Released; GOP Sen. Vance & VP Nominee Hopeful: "What's Going On Inside That Courtroom Is A Threat To American Democracy". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 13, 2024 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Just past 9 PM, here in New York. We begin the hour, after the first of what's expected to be several days of testimony, in the former President's hush money trial, by a critical witness, Michael Cohen.

A former fixer and attorney for Donald Trump, he testified today about the then-candidate's alleged deep level of knowledge and involvement in the payments to Stormy Daniels, as well as the alleged reimbursement of Cohen for, Cohen says, fronting the cash.

But Cohen's testimony is potentially undermined by a past that includes the felony conviction, and of equally significant credibility issues.

We're joined now by Lanny Davis, famed as a former Special Counsel for then-President Clinton. He's now the former attorney and current legal adviser of Michael Cohen.

Also former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig, is also joining us.

Lanny, it's good to see you.

What was your impression of how Michael Cohen did today?


COOPER: And what can you tell us about how -- about the preparations that he has gone through, before taking the stand?

DAVIS: Well, I wasn't there, of course. But I hear that he was controlled.

And it reminded me of the long journey, painful at times, that I've had with Michael since June of 2018, when he finally talked to me, about turning his life and fessing up, and owning his lies, over 10 years with Donald Trump. And I kept saying, why should people believe you? That was in June of 2018. The next time he walked into a hearing room, on the record, on national and international television, looking at a sign on the wall, above Congressman Jim Jordan's head that said, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire. And that was the congressional hearings that we expected him to be calm and factual, and tell the truth and own all his lies, and do that in real-time.

And then, finally, being with him for the last few years, while prosecutors questioned him, and ultimately decided that they had this case.

But following how they questioned him, and how they prepared, as Elie Honig knows, the construction of his case is about documents, and about text messages, and about corroboration, because of course, they know that credibility will be the line of attack, and that he's got to be backed up in everything that he says. And I think that's the way it's been developed.

COOPER: What do you think was the key moment, today, from his testimony there, or the key takeaway?

DAVIS: I wish I could have been in the courtroom. I decided it would be better to be in Washington, and not battle my way through the courtroom, and be available to do this for Michael. But what I gather was a key moment for him, was the control that he showed.

I know, last night, right before Mother's Day dinner, we talked. And he was calm. But he was very anxious, and has been a lot of stress. Fear for his family, the President of the United States threatened his wife, his wife's father, his children have been threatened.

So, he's been through a very bad ordeal, not to mention that he went to prison, and was in solitary confinement, after he refused to sign a piece of paper, promising not to write a book. This guy has been through a lot of pain.

And all I heard, last night, was resolve to do what I said to him before his congressional testimony. Keep your voice down, tell the truth, and own everything that you did wrong for Trump. Don't defend and don't attack. Just own it. And the rest is going to be up to people to judge, including the jury.

COOPER: I know a bunch of other folks, on the panel, have a question.

This is -- my other -- only other question is -- oh, it's a question we asked Stormy Daniels' attorney just a second ago.

Do you know how many times he worked with prosecutors and met with prosecutors to go over to prepare for today? I mean, it must have been a lot.

DAVIS: Yes. I was with him every time. A lot of people made fun of me because I wore the same tan jacket all the time, Anderson. I had to try to get another jacket.

We walked in and out of that prosecutor's office, first time to the first set of prosecutors.

I first called Cy Vance, and asked him to come up to Otisville, the federal satellite penitentiary he was sent to, to interview him for the first time, secretly in prison. And that was in 2019.


So, count the years, how many sessions we've had, with the prosecutors, first, piecing together a financial fraud case. Ultimately, that went to the New York Attorney General.

And now this case, which is what the--

COOPER: Can you say how many sessions that's been?

DAVIS: 100 or more.


DAVIS: And sometimes, hours and hours at an end. So, if I counted them up, over five years, at least 100 or more.

COOPER: You definitely need another jacket.

DAVIS: I mean, I was there. So, it was painful.


DAVIS: Yes. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: I know that Kaitlan probably has some questions.

DAVIS: My wife is--


DAVIS: Go ahead.

COLLINS: Two questions for you.

One, you said earlier to Wolf Blitzer that every word of Michael Cohen's testimony will be corroborated.

But is there a way to corroborate what he testified to today, one of the biggest moments there at the end, where he said that Trump did approve the agreement that he and Allen Weisselberg had come to, of how he would be repaid?

DAVIS: Well, I think we had Mr. McConney verify that he was aware of the true-up of those numbers. That is Allen Weisselberg's handwriting. And articulated that was verified and authenticated.

COLLINS: But the Trump approval part.

DAVIS: Well, the approval of Allen Weisselberg writing it up, and Trump knowing that he was not paying legal expenses. Rudy Giuliani said that on television.

Donald Trump had first said he knew nothing about the Stormy Daniels matter. He denied the affair. But the fact of the legal expenses is going to be the key fact that the jurors just have to use their common -- their commonsense.

Jurors, who go to bed at night, and don't see snow on the ground, and wake up in the morning, and see snow on the ground, have not seen it snow. But they use their commonsense. There's no other reasonable alternative.

Donald Trump, in the Oval Office, why doesn't this shock us? It shocked me, the first time Michael told me. And it was before the congressional hearing.

I said, how did you get paid Michael, the money that you laid out for Stormy Daniels?

He said, oh, he wrote me checks.


While in the Oval Office, when I visited him as President.

He wrote you checks in the Oval Office? Where are those checks?

Oh, well, they're at home.

Well, could you ask Laura to take a photograph and send them to my phone, so I can get them to the congressional committee?

So, what is the explanation that Donald Trump would say, why he wrote $35,000 checks, from a personal bank account, while he was a sitting president?

COLLINS: Yes. Well--

DAVIS: Unless he testifies? And I invited him today to testify. He said he would testify. Why won't he testify, unless Michael is telling the truth, and he's afraid to testify?

COLLINS: Yes, I have a feeling he's not going to get on the stand.

But I do want to just remind everyone, in this one moment, because you bring up the Oval Office, and--

DAVIS: No, I agree with you.

COLLINS: And I actually asked Donald Trump, about Michael Cohen, in the Oval Office. This was after the FBI had raided his home, and his office, and Trump had been saying publicly that The New York Times was trying to get Michael Cohen to flip on him. And just, you can see the level of anger, in Trump's face, as he doesn't answer these questions.


COLLINS: Mr. President? Did Michael Cohen betray you?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you everybody.

COLLINS: Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say to prosecutors?

TRUMP: Thank you.


COLLINS: Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?


COLLINS: Obviously, after that, Trump had his aides ban me from the White House.

But I just wonder what you -- what you think it was like for Michael Cohen, to be there in the room with Donald Trump, today, and for Donald Trump to listen to that testimony?

DAVIS: Well, honestly, I listened to Michael's voice, last night. And he sounded relieved to me, unburdened, because he finally, after all this time, he's finally going to be able to tell the truth.

What happens to Mr. Trump, whether he's acquitted or convicted is really not my concern. Nor it should be anybody's concern. It's up to a jury. That's our jury system. And if he's acquitted, then I accept that.

But what I wanted was for Michael, as his lawyer, to tell the truth and get his life back. And when he called me, and he said he was doing this, for his wife and his family, and his country, I believed him, because I knew he was only opening the door to a lot of suffering. He was going to go to jail. He was going to be vilified by Mr. Trump and all of his supporters. And he's faced nothing but pain.

But I think there's something relieving about telling the truth, and going through the pain of telling the truth. And that's what I hear -- heard in his voice, last night.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Lanny, it's Elie here. Good to see you. It's been a little bit. I just wanted to follow-up.

DAVIS: Hi, Elie.

HONIG: So, almost exactly 12 hours ago, I asked you, is Michael Cohen going to testify that Donald Trump approved these payments, in what you had termed the sort of mob-boss-style, the general go-ahead-and- get-it-done? Or is he going to say that Donald Trump specifically authorized these specific retainer payments?


You said 12 hours ago, it was going to be the mob-boss-style.

But actually, Michael Cohen did the opposite. He gave specific testimony. He finished up his testimony, by saying there was a specific time, when Allen Weisselberg and I met with Donald Trump, laid out the retainer payments.


HONIG: And he said, do it.

Were you surprised by that?

DAVIS: No. Sorry, Elie. I either misspoke, I didn't speak clearly, or I'm just plain tired.

No, of course, I've heard Michael tell me that it was very specific. The understanding was, he waited and waited. David Pecker and the people at the National Enquirer were telling him, you got to pay. There was panic setting in, as Election Day approached. And finally, Michael was waiting and waiting. And then, he got the instruction. Go ahead and pay it. No question.

But he also many times got the code from Donald Trump, and lots of other incidents that he testified to, in his congressional hearing.

So, I think I was referring to that Elie.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Lanny, let me ask you, just a question about the charges, in this case. This is a case, about false business records, prepared by the Trump Organization. And this was something I was a little unclear about, from the testimony today.

Does Michael Cohen know specifically how Donald Trump caused false business records to be made? Or did he just take the money and assume that false business records were made?

DAVIS: I'm not aware, in all the hours that I spent with him, which are over 100 hours in this prosecutors' room, that he saw the recording of those business records as legal expenses, which made them fraudulent and, of course, enhances the 34 counts into felonies as a means of concealing the crime that I don't think there's any doubt that he was motivated for political reasons.

Everybody -- I just don't get that argument on that any longer. And of course, I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, because he's innocent until he's proven beyond a reasonable doubt, Jeff.

But on the actual recording of the expenses, I think it's more like the famous circumstantial evidence test that I said earlier. He knew they weren't legal expenses. That is certain. And those numbers were recorded as legal expenses. So, is he going to argue that he didn't know they were recorded as legal expenses, when he knew he was writing checks from the Oval Office to reimburse a crime?

And that is what the jury has to use its commonsense about, and the old song that I mentioned. If you go to sleep at night, there's no snow on the ground. You wake up in the morning, there's snow on the ground. There's no direct evidence that it snowed. This jury is going to have to use its commonsense.

Did Donald Trump really lie about there being legal expenses, and then they recorded it as legal expenses, and it wasn't, because of his instruction, that there should be a concealment of the real crime, which was the crime that Michael Cohen went to jail for, which is paying money, for political reasons, right before an election.

COOPER: Yes. Lanny Davis, I really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

DAVIS: Could I say one thing, Anderson?


DAVIS: Go Yale. It's been a long time since I've said that to you, so. Go Yale.

COOPER: You have a good night. Thank you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

COOPER: Everyone else, stay with us.

We have the full transcript from today's testimony coming up, Michael Cohen testifying on the fallout of the Access Hollywood tape.

Plus, the former President brought an entourage of Republicans with him today to say the things a gag order prevents him from saying. That's ahead.



COOPER: The full transcript of today's testimony, by Michael Cohen, is out. He became the latest witness to testify just how scared the former President and 2016 campaign staff was, when the Access Hollywood tape surfaced.

One former aide, who worked at the RNC, when the tape came out, previously testified that members there were rattled, and that she remembers conversations about possibly needing to replace Trump, as the Republican presidential candidate.

Today, Cohen gave more testimony about the fallout.

And John Berman joins us with some of those transcripts. JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. It was really the Stormy Daniels matter, following Access Hollywood that according to Michael Cohen enraged Donald Trump, or really set him off.

He's describing a moment, when Stormy Daniels people is to be Keith Davidson and Dylan Howard from the Enquirer, came forward and said Stormy Daniels is looking for some money here.

Hoffinger, the prosecutor says, did you tell him, Donald Trump, what you had heard from Dylan Howard and Keith Davidson?

Cohen says, yes.

Hoffinger says, and what was his reaction?

Cohen says, he was really angry with me: I thought you had this under control. I thought you took care of this. I expressed to Mr. Trump: We did, 2011. When the Stormy Daniels matter first came up.

Cohen says, I have no control over what she goes out and does. And he expressed to me: There is a previous denial. Just take care of it. There was a lot going on at the campaign at the time. He was like: Just take care of it.

Hoffinger asks, did he say anything to you at the time about how this might be viewed if it got out?

Cohen says yes.

HOFFINGER: What did he say, in substance?

Cohen: He said to me: This is a disaster, total disaster. Women are going to hate me. Because this is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys may think it's cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.

HOFFINGER: What, if anything... did you understand him to mean by "women will hate this," and what his concern was.

Todd Blanche says, objection.

Judge overruled.

Michael Cohen says, he was polling very poorly with women and this, coupled with the previous Access Hollywood tape, he just stated: This a disaster, and get control over it.

HONIG: I think we can put this particular aspect of this case to bed. I mean, it obviously was motivated by the campaign, the payoffs. Every single witness has said it. It makes perfect commonsense. This was Michael Cohen saying nothing new that everybody hasn't said before.


And yes, there's a couple snippets, where people said well, he was worried -- Trump was worried about Melania. He was worried about his family situation.

That's fine. That doesn't cancel out that they've shown, I think more than adequately, that there was a campaign motive here. I just don't see any basis to say that there was no concern with the campaign. How could that even be?

ARTHUR AIDALA, NEW YORK CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Elie, doesn't hearing this? And Jeff?


AIDALA: Doesn't hearing this ring this bell about attorney-client privilege? What -- how is -- how is -- he's representing him. I am the -- I am the lawyer to the President. I am his private lawyer, and we're having these private conversations. How does this? How does this come out there?

COLLINS: Well he's no longer an attorney, so.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Well he committed a crime.

TOOBIN: Crime-fraud exception.


TOOBIN: Crime-fraud exception.


PHILLIP: He committed a crime.

AIDALA: So, there's a crime-fraud exception. And here's the only way that comes in. Because now you have two lawyers on the jury, who may know of this. The only way that crime-fraud exception comes in, is the judge has to -- had to have ruled beforehand, that there was some -- that that it fits into the crime-fraud exception.

So now, the lawyers, if the lawyers know their stuff, the way my colleagues here do, in their mind, they're like, well, the only reason why we're hearing this is because the trial judge has already ruled that there must have been some crime here that there's -- now there's an exception to the attorney-client privilege. That's the only way we're hearing this.

HONIG: I actually--

COLLINS: Well, one, Michael Cohen's no longer an attorney. He was disbarred as a part of this plea deal.

AIDALA: That doesn't matter. That doesn't matter.

COLLINS: But secondly, to that point, Michael Cohen's, not the first person to testify to this. And this is a way that you saw the prosecution handling this today is a lot of what Michael Cohen testified to, texts that he read, calls that he backed up, were ones that the jury had already seen. They might have been aware of.

AIDALA: That doesn't matter. He can't say it.

COLLINS: But Hope Hicks has already testified that Trump was worried about what was going to happen with the election. We've heard that from David Pecker, as they anticipated that women were going to be a problem.

AIDALA: But he can't say it. Hope Hicks is not his lawyer. Michael Cohen is his lawyer.

COLLINS: But -- but he said it. So, I mean, he said it, and the jury heard it. So it doesn't nullify it.

HONIG: It's a good question. I think the answer is this attorney- client privilege has been very much waived by both parties.


HONIG: I think Trump and Cohen have long ago suspended any claim that they're still covered by a privilege. They've both talked, at length, publicly, in front of Congress, here in this trial to prosecutors, about what was said. So, I think this has been very much waived, meaning given off by both parties.

COLLINS: He testified before Congress for five hours.

HONIG: Exactly. Exactly.

COLLINS: Like it's--

HONIG: Like it's long gone. Yes.

TOOBIN: What I don't understand -- I mean, what I don't understand in advance, and we'll see, is I understand that you can point out that Michael Cohen has this history of lying. You say he lied to his wife.

But which parts of his testimony will they try to go after? That's what I find curious, because I think so much of his testimony is bolstered by other witnesses. You can say, he's a terrible person. You can say he's a convicted perjurer. But what is the testimony before this jury that's false. That's a harder part.

AIDALA: Well what--

TOOBIN: Oh, you have a list here.

AIDALA: So, I have a little bit of the charge. It's the sample charge. I don't know if this is exactly what the judge is going to read.

TOOBIN: Right.

AIDALA: But this is the part of it.

If you find that anyone has intentionally testified falsely, as to any material fact, you may disregard that witness' entire testimony. TOOBIN: I--

AIDALA: Or you may disregard so much of it, as you find was untruthful.

There's also a part here that says, did the witness have a conscious bias, hostility, or some other attitude that affected the truthfulness of the witness' testimony?

TOOBIN: Arthur, all that--

AIDALA: A jury could take that into consideration.

TOOBIN: All that -- all that is true. But the question is, was the money a reimbursement? I mean, that's the -- it's just seems to me that so much of this case is proven--


TOOBIN: --even if -- even if Michael Cohen is a terrible person.

AIDALA: OK. So, let me ask you this question. I wanted to ask this to Lanny Davis.

What should Donald Trump have written down? And so first of all, we saw the checks. On the checks, it does not say legal fee. It's just a fee. It's just an amount of money to Michael Cohen. So, it doesn't say for legal fee.

TOOBIN: Not on the check, yes.

AIDALA: On the check. It doesn't say legal fee.

TOOBIN: No, I agree with that.

AIDALA: So, it could be that hey, I'm reimbursing him, and this is part of the reimbursement.

So what should he have said? Don't forget, it's a non-disclosure agreement. So what you don't want it to say is reimbursement to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels. So what should it have been logged under? What words should have been put in the books?

TOOBIN: Something other than a lie, which is that it was a retainer.

AIDALA: It doesn't say -- no one said it says retainer. It says a legal fee. He's paying his lawyer back for money that his lawyer paid out to.

TOOBIN: Well the phrase on the -- on the stubs is retainer.


TOOBIN: That's the word, retainer.

AIDALA: OK. TOOBIN: And it's not a retainer.

AIDALA: You're right. It is not a retainer. But it could be considered a legal fee, when it's a lawyer, who laid out their money for you. And now you're paying the lawyer back.

BERMAN: I will say, Arthur, that throughout the testimony, what you do see is Cohen and others testifying that Trump was aware of many of the specifics of what was going on.

And there was another element of that, in the testimony today. He's talking about setting up the accounts, where the ultimate payments came from.


The prosecutor says, did you call Mr. Trump before you went and set up the account, to make a transfer?

Cohen says, yes.

Hoffinger says, what, in substance, did you discuss with him on these two calls?

For which there are call records for.

Cohen says, I wanted to ensure, once again, he approved what I was doing because I required approval from him on all of this. That's what the sum and substance of the conversation was, laying out exactly what was going to happen, and what was being done in order to ensure the story didn't get sold to the Daily Mail or somebody else.

Hoffinger, did you let him know you were going across the street and you were going to get the account set up and make the payment?

Cohen says, yes, ma'am.

Would you have made that payment to Stormy Daniels without getting a signoff from Mr. Trump?

Cohen says, no.

Hoffinger asks, why not?

Cohen says, because everything required Mr. Trump's signoff. On top of that, I wanted the money back.

HONIG: OK. So, this is really important testimony. And this is a good example of where Michael Cohen is, and is not corroborated.

Throughout these dates, October 26th, about two weeks before the election, the prosecution did a masterful job of weaving in various forms of corroboration. There's the phone records that John talked about. There is certificates from the bank. There is emails that backup that that's exactly what Michael Cohen did that day

However, to Jeffrey's point, how are they going to cross-examine? How are they going to suggest Michael Cohen's lying?

They're going to say what you actually discussed, the content of that phone call with Donald Trump, all we have for that is Michael Cohen's word. And folks on the jury, can you trust him at his word?

Yes, there's other stuff. Scaffolding is a good expression you used earlier. There's scaffolding around him.

But to fill that in, you have to take the word of this man at face value. That's what--


HONIG: They're going to say, he's not a fabulist. He's not inventing things. But he's an opportunist--

TOOBIN: Well you're right.

HONIG: --who speaks things.

TOOBIN: You're right. But and -- and just to emphasize that point.


TOOBIN: The most provocative and interesting parts of his testimony today, were about conversations he had with Donald Trump.


TOOBIN: And for that, there is no corroboration.

PHILLIP: Unless Donald Trump takes the stand, which we all know he's probably not going to take.

TOOBIN: Don't hold your breath.

COOPER: But it was interesting to hear from him how--

PHILLIP: But that is a key thing.

COOPER: --how much he would sort of go into Donald Trump's office, or he says--


COOPER: --he would go into Donald Trump's office, even after, one phone call, to fill in Trump on something that Trump wanted to hear all the details of, all these steps along the way, for just about everything Michael Cohen says.

PHILLIP: He is--

TOOBIN: And that goes to the standard issue that comes up in cooperating, you know, with cooperators all the time.

And your point about, oh, he's a terrible person, he's a liar? Well, who was inside and outside of Donald Trump's office for 10 years? I mean, who--

AIDALA: The judge is going to charge the jury, motive. You may consider whether a witness had or did have a motive to lie. They're going to show a picture of him wearing a T-shirt that has Donald Trump behind bars. Does this guy have bias? Does this guy have a motive to put him behind jail?

COLLINS: You know?

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

AIDALA: He's telling the whole world that he does.

TOOBIN: Absolutely.

COLLINS: And it will be interesting to see how he handles that on cross.

Because today, he made a point, at several junctures, where he would make fun of himself, where he would say, yes, I had an ego. That's why I thought that I should get a job in the White House.

Or yes, I did want to benefit from being Donald Trump's personal attorney. And I knew it would come with a lot of opportunities, where maybe Donald Trump wasn't paying me once he was president, but I was going to get all this other access.

He took these small moments, to kind of make fun of himself, or criticize himself. And the question is, how the jury will discern that? They're essentially expressionless, during this entire testimony. You cannot tell.


COLLINS: They're paying such close attention. They're taking copious notes. But you cannot tell what they are thinking--


COLLINS: --or how they're taking it.

COOPER: John Berman, thanks very much. I appreciate it.

Coming up. The former President brought some political backups with him, to court today, including Republican senators, J.D. Vance, and Tommy Tuberville. We'll talk about why, with the Democratic strategist, James Carville, next.



COOPER: On arguably the biggest day of his criminal trial, the former President brought his biggest entourage, including a number of Republican lawmakers, and at least one vice presidential hopeful, Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio. They took the microphones, during the lunch break to denounce the proceedings.


SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): What's going on inside that courtroom is a threat to American democracy, ladies and gentlemen. We cannot have a country, where you get to prosecute your political opponents instead of persuading voters.


COOPER: Vance went to attack President Biden, who to be clear, has nothing to do with this trial, and take shots at Michael Cohen, which the defendant of course is gagged from doing.

Joining us now, Democratic strategist, James Carville.

So James, I mean, should anyone be surprised that -- I mean, the former -- Trump's running mate auditions have moved to the courthouse.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not at all. So, well I'm surprised it took people so long to get there. I mean, he got cameras. He got publicity. He got to suck up to Trump.

Of course, there's zero evidence at present Biden had anything to do with this prosecution. But it was just done in terms of -- well my favorite though, Anderson, was Senator Tuberville from Alabama, who said that Manhattan criminal court was depressing. I guess he was expecting My Cousin Vinny to show up or something.

COOPER: Yes. Do you think--

CARVILLE: Criminal courts tend not to be the most--

COOPER: Yes, they're not cheerful places.

CARVILLE: --bright places in the world.



COOPER: Do you think a guilty verdict or for that matter, a hung jury would hurt the former President politically? I mean, nothing else seems to. The latest polls from The New York Times--


COOPER: --show him ahead of President Biden, in a bunch of key swing states.

CARVILLE: Right. I haven't seen -- you know, in the last year, we've had indictments, we've had wars, we've had foreign policy crisis. And the polls haven't changed. So, I don't think anybody can say with much confidence. Well I think a hung jury if anything will probably help him.


But weirdly enough, that it just -- the race just seems to be stuck in a place, and it's been stuck there for a while. I don't know. No predictions that things will change, in the field (ph) so far to. Well but all I can tell you is that -- I don't know. But I think a hung jury would help him, right.


CARVILLE: I do think it'd give him more enthusiasm. I mean, drawing these huge crowds. And it's quite concerning out there.

COLLINS: James, it's Kaitlan Collins.

And first, I have to tell you, Roll Tide.

CARVILLE: Hi, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Because I see your Tiger shirt that you're wearing right now.


COLLINS: But I have to ask you, speaking of Senator Tuberville, from Alabama. He clearly is someone, who has been angling for maybe a cabinet position, if Trump wins, and is back in the White House.

J.D. Vance obviously would like to be Vice President.

Others in this realm are going to show up. We know Vivek Ramaswamy, Marco Rubio, I'm sure we'll see Doug Burgum, maybe at some point.

What do you make of the fact that all these people, who are either trying out to be Donald Trump's vice presidential pick, or in his cabinet, are in that second row of the courtroom?

CARVILLE: Well what's really amazing is the lack of support. I think his son, Eric, was the only family member. And he kind of showed up for a day. I don't think his wife will get within the same state he's in.

But it's been amazing that no one has figured out, what Senator Vance and Senator Tuberville. For them, they got more publicity today than they've gotten maybe all year. And I suspect that they're going to -- we're going to see more support for him, at the trial because people understand -- they had figured out rather late that the cameras are there, and they can get exposure.

But what's really surprising is the lack -- and the Trump supporters don't show up. There was one person sitting out there supporting him. So, he is a pretty lonely guy in that courtroom.

COLLINS: Yes, it's only been maybe 10 supporters outside the courthouse, even though anyone can go.

CARVILLE: Yes. COLLINS: And Eric Trump, you make a good point, because Eric Trump has been the only family member, who's been there. He was back there again, today. I've seen him probably three times.

But I mean, politically speaking, you would always see a candidate's spouse next to them, in a moment like this. And I think, obviously, Melania Trump is not a typical politician's spouse, by any means.


COLLINS: But what does it say that, that she isn't there?

CARVILLE: Well, it says a lot. I mean, the whole thing with Barron with going to be a delegate. And she came in and said, no.

I don't -- I'm not privy to any of the private details of their marriage. But it doesn't seem to be a very -- from a distance, it doesn't seem to be remotely a happy or close one. But that's really none of my business.

But it is amazing. I mean, if you are on a criminal trial, you would think your family would show up, or your friends, or there would be some kind of support for you, emotional support and moral support. But it's really stunning, how little he's had until today. And I think the cameras will draw some more people there.

COLLINS: How do you think President Biden should handle this? Should he be commenting on the trial more directly? Or they're obviously wary of doing so, given Trump is so directly tried to--


COLLINS: --to say that this is Biden's trial, even though it's obviously not?

CARVILLE: It's not like this thing is not being covered. I mean, you don't need to throw an extra wild on the fire. I mean, it's blazing away now. And I think I agree that the President should stay away from it, shouldn't comment on it. But right now, he's got to try to move some numbers here. These polls are stuck in a ditch, and they've been that way for a while.

COOPER: If the Access Hollywood tape didn't derail Trump's campaign in 2016, why would a case, involving business records with Stormy Daniels payoff, derail his campaign in 2024?

CARVILLE: I don't know, Anderson. It's a good question. And I can't pretend that I know the answer to. I don't think anybody else can pretend that they know the answer to it.

You would think all of these indictments, you'd think that the COVID response, you would think everything that the January the 6th, I was firmly convinced that it was done in by January 6th. More people than ever think it's a tourist visit now. So, I'm totally flummoxed is how this thing stays the same.

But I do know one thing. It just stays the same. And nothing -- the more things happen, the more things stay the same.

And what Democrats are doing -- the President's doing terrible with voters under 30, with -- and with Black voters, which are pretty key to this whole equation here. So hopefully, we can get something going here, in the next four or five months. But right now, it's not looking that promising.

PHILLIP: James, it's Abby Phillip here.

I wonder, I mean, now that -- now we kind of know--

CARVILLE: Hey, Abby.


PHILLIP: Hey. I mean, now we kind of know that this might be maybe the only trial that we see of Donald Trump this year. Is it time for Democrats to move on, and look at the fundamentals of this race, and not see these trials as somehow this X-factor that's going to be--


PHILLIP: --have a huge influence, on how this thing turns out in November?

CARVILLE: Yes. I think -- yes, I think -- I think they had -- we have to. Because the fundamentals, right now, frankly, are depressing. And we have all of these events, and they changed little or nothing.

I mean, maybe there's some evidence that Trump might be a point and a half or two points weaker than he was a year ago. But you'd have to really squint to see that happening. And I don't see that the numbers for the President moving.

Now, on the upside is, we are doing pretty well, in these Senate races. And that's been pretty consistent over several months. I've seen a lot of Senate polling, and that does look good.

But right now, in the presidential race, this is a sticky wicket out there. That's all I can say.

PHILLIP: If there are all these characters, parading to the courthouse, to maybe audition for Trump's VP? There are some who were here, this week.


PHILLIP: Some who were down in Mar-a-Lago, over the last couple weeks.

Which one do you think poses the greatest threat here to the Biden campaign at this point?

CARVILLE: I don't think -- I don't think that Trump's vice presidential pick is going to mean a lot. I mean, I think he picked Pence, because he thought it probably would put some validity, thought he'd shore up the kind of religious-right, a little bit. PHILLIP: And there's some -- there's some argument.

CARVILLE: I don't think that needs any more shoring up.

PHILLIP: There is some argument that it did in 2016, help him in that respect.

CARVILLE: I said -- I said -- yes, it could have helped him some. I said, yes, I though he picked to shore up. And it might have helped -- it might have helped some on the margins.

But I don't -- you know, and people come up, and they speculate, it could be this person or that person. I don't see any vice presidential pick, changing the basic equation that we're looking at right now. I really don't.

I mean, what I'm hoping happens is recovery keeps going on, and it keeps digging deeper down, and people start feeling it. But right now, it's a recovery that people are denying that exist. And it's a good word is a recovery, because you have come back from something, so we should call it a recovery. But our economic messaging is not breaking through. It's been counterproductive so far.

COOPER: And James Carville, great to have you. Appreciate it.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Anderson. Thank you. It was a great panel. Thank you.

COOPER: All right.

CARVILLE: Appreciate it.

COOPER: Glad you're in New Orleans.

How the jury is receiving Cohen's testimony so far, and whether they'll ultimately buy the words from an admitted liar, reaction from a trial and jury consultant next.



COOPER: Today, Michael Cohen also laid out details of the alleged catch-and-kill scheme, involving a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. Here's what he said, he told Trump after learning McDougal was looking to sell a story about their alleged relationship.

Quote, "I asked him if he knew who Karen McDougal was, if he knows anything about the story. His response to me was "She's really beautiful." I said "OK, but there is a story that's right now being shopped.""

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger then asked him, did Mr. Trump ask you to take any action with respect to the story?

Cohen replied, yes. Hoffinger says, what did he ask you, in general, to do?

Cohen answers, make sure it doesn't get released.

Here's what McDougal said to me in 2018.


COOPER: Do you think the presidential race had anything to do with this deal getting done?

KAREN MCDOUGAL, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: When I'm looking back at it now, possibly yes.

COOPER: If Donald Trump hadn't been running for President, do you believe this deal would have been made with AMI, knowing what you know now?

MCDOUGAL: Probably not, no, probably not.

COOPER: You're pretty convinced -- you're convinced now, this was an effort to do a favor for Donald Trump, in the last few months of the presidential race?

MCDOUGAL: Unfortunately, yes.


COOPER: It's tough cutting from that shot of me in 2018, to this. I'm just saying, ravaged by time, as John Oliver once said.

Joining us now is jury and trial consultant, Renato Stabile.

Renato, appreciate you being with us.


COOPER: One of the things that the courtroom sketch artist, who was here, said, Christine Cornell, which is something a lot of us have noticed, being in the courtroom, is that the jury does not look at Donald Trump, when they come in and out.

Does that -- do you read anything into that, as a jury consultant?

STABILE: Juries typically do not look at defendants that often when they're coming in or out. But be sure they are watching his every move. So, when he is shaking his head, they are noticing. When he is muttering things under his breath, they are noticing.

And he might not be doing himself any favors by doing that, because they're catching all of that, and they're thinking, all right, you want to say something? Take the witness stand. So, I don't know that it's such a great thing that he's doing it.

One thing I'd be watching for though, as the jurors walk in and out are the two lawyers, buddy-buddies. COOPER: Yes.

STABILE: Because that is something. Now, I'm not a believer in reading faces or reading body language. But something you can tell are what jurors are bonding with each other. And if the two lawyers are bonding, that's good for somebody. And if they're not bonding, that could show you that there's going to be some disagreements (ph).

AIDALA: And what we do, Anderson, honestly, because we've -- I've tried several cases in that courthouse. There's only a couple places to go eat lunch around there. Now, I don't know if they're getting any extra security, because of this case. But typically, they don't.

And it's interesting to see who's eating lunch with who, who -- just what Renato said. Who's going on the breaks with who, when they get a break? Who's going to get a soda with who? And you're trying to figure out.

And then, you go back and you look at the sheets that Renato creates, and you're like, OK, well, this guy is a bus driver. And he's hanging out with this woman, who's an accountant. And you -- I mean, and the truth is, we don't know what the heck we're talking about. It's all like--

PHILLIP: Oh gosh.

AIDALA: It's all like who knows who's going to say what to.

STABILE: But remember, these people have been together now for weeks. So, personalities are kicking in. There are people that like each other. There are people for sure that do not like each other on that jury.


PHILLIP: Are they talking to each other, before deliberations?

HONIG: They're not supposed to.

PHILLIP: Because they're not supposed to, right?

STABILE: I mean, they're not supposed to discuss the case.


STABILE: But they have to talk about something, so.


COOPER: I don't have much experience in court. But I testified once in front of a jury. And I was interested that some of them were very attentive. Some of them clearly were bored by just not wanting to be there, and no interest in what I was saying.

Watching this jury, as a spectator, two weeks ago, they were intensely watching this. None of them seemed bored to me. None of them seemed to be thinking about something else.

STABILE: Well, this is riveting stuff. This is maybe the most exciting thing.

COOPER: I thought my testimony was riveting as--

STABILE: Yes, no.

COOPER: --well but--

STABILE: Not that your testimony wasn't riveting, I'm sure. But I mean, this is just such a -- this is a historical event--

COOPER: Right.

STABILE: --that they're taking part of. And what you see is we haven't lost any jurors, which is extremely unusual, in a trial of this length. Nobody is going to drop if they can help it.

TOOBIN: Renato, let me ask you about something that Arthur said very loudly, recently, is there's a jury.

AIDALA: I'm supposed to be offended by that.

TOOBIN: There's a jury--

AIDALA: I mean, I was just selling (ph) for Brooklyn.

COOPER: By the way, you don't even need to. It's implied.

AIDALA: Exactly.

COOPER: He can fire up.

COLLINS: He's just saying.

TOOBIN: There's a--


TOOBIN: There's a -- there's a jury instruction that says if someone lies about one thing, you can discredit all their testimony.


TOOBIN: Do jurors do that? Or do they more pick and choose what they choose to believe?

STABILE: Look, they kind of make their decision, and then they back into it. However, they're going to back into it right? They look at the case holistically. And then, if they have to pick and choose to reach their decision, that's what they're going to do. That's just the way it works. So--

COOPER: Do you find people going with their gut, like, I trust this person who testified. I don't trust this person. I like this person. I didn't like them, or I didn't like them, but I believe what they're saying, and going with that, rather than the minutiae of--

STABILE: I think -- I think people start with their gut, and then they back into the logic. I don't know that it's the logical progression that you might think it is.


STABILE: So, how they feel about Michael Cohen is going to have a big impact.

But I think he did some interesting things today. One, he had an opportunity to say that Donald Trump either told him or didn't tell him that he had an intimate relationship with Stormy Daniels. And he didn't do that.

And I know you, as a prosecutor probably would have said, well, if he's going to lie, he would have lied better.


STABILE: That was a perfect opportunity for him to say something to bury Donald Trump. And he didn't do it. That shows he's credible.

COLLINS: What about eye contact? Because there were moments, where -- there were probably three moments, where he would really look at the jury.

But there were a lot of moments where he'd to answer a question from the prosecutor. And then, she'd start asking another one. And then, he'd look at the jury, to kind of see like, how they -- how they took it. But he wasn't looking at them, as he was answering.

Does that make a difference in how they -- if they trust them?

STABILE: I advise witnesses, when they're testifying, do what's comfortable to you. Don't -- if you're not comfortable making eye contact with the jury, don't do it. If you feel more comfortable looking at the person that's questioning you, do that. It's really you have to be natural and authentic. That's the most important thing in testifying.

HONIG: I'm a big believer, to Renato's point, in just the gut instinct. I think so much of this comes down to gut.

I mean, I had an experience, where we -- once, we tried a case. We put on a really bad guy as a cooperator. And 10 of the 12 jurors just outright rejected him. Didn't like him. Thought he was scary, rejected his testimony. That jury hung, 10 wanted acquit.

AIDALA: Yes, you got the hung jury, kid.

HONIG: There you go. Yes. But wait. Wait for the ending though.

AIDALA: You didn't get an acquittal, though, buddy (ph).

HONIG: We retried it. And they convicted on everything, including on things that were solely based, uncorroborated on that cooperator's testimony, so.

AIDALA: That's probably because they liked you.

HONIG: Maybe. Well I mean that's--

AIDALA: And that's probably the second jury, just little bit, they felt closer to you.

HONIG: But honestly, it could just be as simple as that. We like this lawyer. We don't like this lawyer. It's 12 human beings. We like this cooperator.

AIDALA: Well actually--

COOPER: How big an obstacle is it--

HONIG: We don't like this cooperator.

COOPER: --to have somebody, who has lied repeatedly in the past?

HONIG: Well, here's the thing.

STABILE: I mean, it's obviously a huge obstacle. But just because he's lied in the past, they could say that he's credible about this. Like I said, the Stormy Daniels thing, I think he did himself a favor.


STABILE: But I think there was -- there was one interesting thing that he said was the $375,000 that he was getting paid.

If you do the math and divide that by 12, that's $31,000 and change. That sort of lines up with the $35,000 he was getting a month, which is what the Trump team is going to argue that these were legitimate payments for legal fees every month.


STABILE: So, I thought that was a very interesting thing, like you said.

PHILLIP: I think the thing that, with this case, is that there's almost like a crystal-clear commonsense argument about what happened. But then, the legal part of it actually feels to me quite complex. And if you're on the jury, how do you think the jury is going to deal with that?

There's a part that kind of seems obvious. Yes, this was about the campaign. Yes, Trump didn't want people to know. Yes, he didn't want to do it the right way, because it would have been illegal.

But proving the elements of the crime, is the jury going to have a hard time with that?

AIDALA: Yes. STABILE: I think they're going to struggle. But I think we all try to make decisions in the most straightforward and easy and simple way we can. And one way they're going to start that process is they're going to go into the jury room, and they're going to say, do you believe Michael Cohen?

AIDALA: But Renato -- Renato, to your point?

STABILE: And they're going to take a vote on that.

AIDALA: You and I've worked on trials together. And I would be saying this, it doesn't matter that Donald Trump is sitting there, or if it was Joe Biden sitting there, I'd be saying the same thing. It's not going to be easy. This isn't the kind of cases that you see in state court, where it's straight-up bribery.

What did he do?

He told me, you do this, I'll give you this amount of money, like even the Menendez case down the block.



AIDALA: This is like complicated legal issues that basically what they're saying is two misdemeanors outside the statute of limitations. If you put them together, you get a felony that's inside of the statute of limitations.

STABILE: Yes, but already -- but already--

AIDALA: That's complicated.

STABILE: But the defense made it easy, because they're saying straight-up, these were $35,000 legal payments. You either believe that or you don't. If you don't believe it, they're going to convict him.

COOPER: Well, let me, very quickly, would you have wanted two jurors on the -- two lawyers on this?

STABILE: I am very squeamish about putting lawyers on any jury, unless you are really confident about what they're going to do. Look, we don't know the names of the jurors. The parties do. They know a lot more about them than we do.


STABILE: So, they might know something we don't.

COOPER: Renato Stabile, thank you. Great to have your expertise.

Thanks everyone.

A programming note, before we hand off tonight. This Friday, at 360 special, my replay of my interview with Karen McDougal. As you just saw, I talked to her, back in 2018, right after the story broke of her alleged affair with the former President, something he denies. It's the only TV interview she's done. Watch the interview, this Friday, at 8 PM Eastern.

The news continues, including CNN's special coverage of the Trump hush money trial, right after a break.