Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Closing Arguments Over In Trump Trial; Transcript Released Of Closing Arguments In Trump Trial; 12 Georgia Voters Weigh In On Trump Hush Money Case. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 28, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is just before 9 PM, here in New York.

The end of a nearly 12-hour day, for jurors, in the first of the former President's four criminal trials. They'll get the case, tomorrow. And with it, a job that no juries ever had before, deciding whether or not to convict a former President of the United States, and current candidate for the Office again, of as many as 34 felonies. Today, it was the final chance, for both sides, to persuade them.

We're talking about it tonight. Joining the panel, retired New York City criminal judge, George Grasso; and jury consultant, Alan Tuerkheimer.

Judge Grasso, it is great to have you with all your experience here.

What do you make of closing arguments, tonight? I mean, five hours, two and a half, three hours, is that?

GEORGE GRASSO, RETIRED NYC CRIMINAL COURT JUDGE: Well, it was a -- it was a long day. For the most part, I found it, I was totally zoned in. That went pretty -- went pretty quick. I felt, towards the last hour or so that Mr. Steinglass could have moved it along. And I didn't know if we needed like six book excerpts.


GRASSO: Yes. Yes.

NORMAN EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They were a choice, George.

GRASSO: Choice excerpt. I think less would have been a little more with some of that.

But I think -- I think, look, on the defense end to -- I think Todd Blanche was, I heard the word, meandering.


GRASSO: I certainly subscribe to that.

COOPER: Yes. GRASSO: I think he made a real legal and tactical mistake, by diving into People's Exhibits 35 and 36, the Weisselberg notes. So, I think they are the smoking-gun evidence. And I think he dove into a minefield without a plan to get -- to get through it.

COOPER: Do you think he should not have even brought those up?

GRASSO: If anything, I wouldn't -- he like lead with it.

COOPER: Right.

GRASSO: That's not him -- those documents are not his strong suit.

And I anticipated. And then I saw Steinglass just went to town. He really, he got an A-plus on that. He had both documents up. You've got Weisselberg's handwriting on the documents, laying out the scheme, the $420,000. You got McConney on a separate document number 36 with his handwriting, parroting the same scheme. And just so we have a trifecta, on 35, you got Cohen's handwriting too.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Well and one thing that Steinglass seemed to drill in on was he was seen to be making fun of Todd Blanche. That was kind of the tone that he tried to adopt the whole time.

But he was saying, this idea that Todd Blanche is arguing that because these documents exist show that no crime was committed here, that no documents were falsified, because you can see them. He was saying, there never would be a business falsification case ever--


COLLINS: --because they would just destroy them. And if they existed, they would say, well, it's not a crime.


COLLINS: And that was something he kind of, he looked to the committee and said, you almost have to -- to the jury and said, you almost have to laugh at the way Mr. Blanche explained it to you.

You've been in there every single day. You sit in the same seat, for people who don't know.


COLLINS: Everyone else has to fight for a seat. He has his own same seat, which I'm obsessed with.

But I'm wondering what you make of how that sat with the jury as they're watching this.

GRASSO: You mean what Blanche did with the--

COLLINS: On how Steinglass kind of turned it around?

GRASSO: Oh, I think -- I think putting it all together, I think if it's a tennis match, I mean, Steinglass just nailed them. He put it over the net and killed it.

And I think the jury -- this is a smart jury. I mean, we all look at the same jury. We see the same jury. We were there for the -- Norman and I were there for the questioning of the jurors.

These are people, who want to be there. They could have just raised their hand, if they didn't want to be there. They would have -- they would have left. They've been through the whole process. Today was day 21. They're clearly paying attention. This was not over their head.


GRASSO: They got this.

COOPER: Alan, you're a jury consultant. There's a lot of talk about the length of the closing arguments. Had you ever come across jurors, who were so annoyed about the duration that it actually impacted their votes?

ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT: I don't think it impacted their votes.

And I think since both sides went excessively long, with their closings, I think it's probably a draw, in terms of which side seemed to be a little more tedious, a little more in the weeds, a little more on extraneous information that they didn't need. So, I think each side, they did OK, they did a good job. But they missed delivering stellar closings.

Now, the defense, I think, did what it had to. It raised some questions about fraudulent intent, on the part of Trump, regarding the invoices, surrounding the payments. But they were a little gratuitous with some cheap shots, at Michael Cohen and a little gimmicky.

Prosecution, I think, was a little more streamlined. They give a timeline, laid out the elements, and the actual verdict questions jurors are going to have. But the State also took a long time.

So, at this point, it's about deliberation advocacy. And I would guess that of the 12 jurors, maybe four of them are pretty firmly convinced of guilt or innocence, and then another four are leaning in one direction or the other. And then, four are waiting for deliberations to make a decision.

COOPER: And Judge, if a jury can't reach a decision, if they're deadlocked, there's something called an Allen charge.

GRASSO: Right.

COOPER: That the judge can give to them.

GRASSO: Right.

COOPER: What is that?

GRASSO: It's basically, it's kind of like looking at them. You took an oath. I believe in you. You believe in me.

COOPER: Yes, but --


GRASSO: We can do this.

HONIG: --this is the nice way it's done. There's a mean way it's done.

COOPER: Is this -- is this like putting the thumbscrews?



GRASSO: Well, well, well, no, Merchan is going to do it nicely. You know, he's.


GRASSO: But that -- but that's where--

COOPER: So, wait, you can do the Allen charge nice, or you can do it rough. Is that what you're saying?

GRASSO: Well, I think what may very well get us to the verdict here is I think Merchan has a ton of goodwill with this jury, a ton of goodwill with this jury. I think if -- for no other reason, they're not going to want to disappoint him.

COOPER: He's been protecting the jury, in the sense of like, kind to them. We'd like to go along. But if any one of you has any issue, we won't do it. And they didn't go along one day, because--

GRASSO: 100 percent.

COOPER: --some juror couldn't do it.

GRASSO: 100 percent. So, he's got a lot of goodwill in the bank there.

ARTHUR AIDALA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Judge Grasso, can I -- and since you have the experience here, could you tell us what a missing witness charge is? Because that is in the realm of possibilities. I don't think Judge Merchan has ruled publicly--


AIDALA: --whether he's going to give a missing witness charge. But regarding Weisselberg?


AIDALA: Just tell them what that means.


AIDALA: Because that's a huge win for the defense--


AIDALA: --if he gives a missing witness charge.

GRASSO: Here's why I don't think they're going to give it. Because Arthur, let me tell you--


AIDALA: Yes, could you just tell us about this first?

GRASSO: Yes. It's got to be a witness that's peculiarly -- peculiarly under the control of the People. So, what that would typically mean, someone's locked up. You're the defense attorney. You can't--

AIDALA: Well he's locked up.

GRASSO: Yes. But they could get them. Merchan called that bluff.

AIDALA: But he's going to -- but no but he's -- the defense said we're going to--

GRASSO: Well--

AIDALA: --he would take the Fifth, if we call him.

GRASSO: Well--

AIDALA: But the prosecutor could give him immunity.

GRASSO: Well let me answer the question. I was in the courtroom, Norman was in the courtroom, when that issue came up. And Merchan said -- because it came up, because I actually thought that the D.A. was playing a little bit of a game with the exit agreement with the $2 million that they wanted to be able to get that in evidence.

And then, Merchan said, well, did you try and get him yet? He asked him that question.

And then Steinglass was kind of hemming and hawing with that a little bit.

So, Merchan says, OK, what about we bring him in, we bring Weisselberg in, outside the presence of the jury, and we question him?

Blanche, without -- in a heartbeat, jumped up, he's not on the witnesses list, Judge, we're not ready for him. We don't.

And it was so obvious he was -- he was objecting.

And then Merchan, and the way Merchan does it, he looked at him, and he said, oh, so this is the first time you're considering that Allen Weisselberg might be a witness in this case?

After Merchan did that, and it was obvious he could have brought him in if he wanted. He's not interested in bringing him in, to try and say this is peculiarly under the control of the government.

So you get that charge, Arthur. That's why I don't see it.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Yes, neither. I mean, it's -- in that instance, neither side wanted Weisselberg to come in. Not to mention the fact that even if Weisselberg were to testify, it's not clear that he would be a witness for the prosecution. That is not clear at all.

COLLINS: He definitely wouldn't.

AIDALA: Did the defense harp on it in summation?


AIDALA: Did the defense harp on it?

PHILLIP: No. Because they don't want--

EISEN: It was very interesting.

PHILLIP: They don't want him to come in either.

EISEN: Judge--

AIDALA: No, but in summation, it's too late. I'd say like, where's Weisselberg? This is his writing. Here is Exhibit 35. Judge Grasso is really upset about this. It's all his handwriting.

PHILLIP: You know what?


AIDALA: Where is he, folks?

PHILLIP: Arthur?

AIDALA: They have the burden.

PHILLIP: They did that with some other witnesses. They made that point, right?

Blanche basically made that point, on a number of occasions, saying, you know, the prosecution, they didn't bring in any lawmakers, to talk about the impact of the Access Hollywood tape. They didn't bring in that person. They didn't bring in this person. They did it kind of obliquely, but they did not do it for Weisselberg.

And I thought that was extremely notable.


EISEN: The most ridiculous example of this was when the defense tasked the prosecution with not bringing in Don Jr. and Eric.

PHILLIP: Right. Right. Yes.

EISEN: It was another one of those--

PHILLIP: Because they were also people, who signed the checks.

EISEN: --that misfired.


EISEN: And Arthur, I can tell you, we're not getting a missing witness instruction. Because we sat through at lengthy charging conference, it was not discussed. It's not in any of the submissions. Not happening.

AIDALA: So maybe in the -- so like OK, I got you.

EISEN: Maybe they didn't request it--


COOPER: We have like the ultimate two trial groupies, right here, with you. We love that.


COOPER: You've been to like every motion.

GRASSO: It would be a lot. And that's--

EISEN: It's even worse. Afterwards--


EISEN: --we stand in the hallway--

GRASSO: I think we're--

EISEN: --arguing about it, like it's Shakespeare.

GRASSO: Yes, we'll do it again on Sunday.

EISEN: For hours.

COLLINS: The one thing Trump keeps talking about, and he's complaining about, tonight, is that he can't use the reliance-on-counsel argument, which was something that was settled, over six weeks ago, when they were first making this call, of saying he can't say that he was relying on legal advice of Michael Cohen, when Michael Cohen told him the agreement was airtight and bulletproof.

And now, he is increasingly angry about that and keeps bringing it up. Even though the judge made clear, during the jury instruction debate that you all, I assume both of you were in last week, that that was -- that was long gone. That was never even going to be an option here.


GRASSO: Well, it's such a bogus issue. Because Pecker is already -- David Pecker has already testified that he didn't provide the counsel with pertinent information. He just, here, take a look at this.

None of the background information, none of the -- none of the things going on behind-the-scenes with campaign and money, they're not being reported.

It's just like here, Counsel, look at in half hour. Yes, this is good.

Trump knows that. Trump's lawyers know that. And, they just want to try and muddy the waters with it. But it wasn't like they got it a legitimate opinion from their General Counsel.


GRASSO: I was general counsel for the police department for five years. You're going to ask me for an opinion? Submit all the relevant, pertinent information. Don't hold back information, and then take my -- Deputy Commissioner Grasso's opinion, and then hold that up as a legal opinion, because it's not. And that's exactly the game they're trying to pull here.

HONIG: Judge, if I can -- if I can ask you. Do you see any potential appellate issue with the way the D.A. has charged this case? For the first time in New York history, they've essentially--


HONIG: --imported a federal campaign finance violation into a state charge.

GRASSO: Norman and I have been talking about this ad nauseam.

HONIG: I figured.


AIDALA: Seems like you guys are talking about everything.

HONIG: Shockingly.

AIDALA: Even on Sunday.

HONIG: Well I want to hear where the Judge comes out. I know where Norm comes out. I want to hear where you come out.

GRASSO: Well, I mean, it still is, I give the -- overall, I give the D.A. very high marks, absent six book excerpts, on this summation. But it's still a little tricky to figure out how the -- I think as far as the falsified business records?

HONIG: Right.

GRASSO: I think it's almost slam-dunk right now that they've got Trump pretty solid. I think that this summation for the D.A. buttoned up a lot of that.

HONIG: Yes. GRASSO: But connecting that now, what are we connecting it to? How will we know? There is a ton of evidence, of testimony, that this was all being done for the campaign. It's been covered up. It was covered up the way it was covered up, because it was an unreported campaign contribution. But how has that been imputed to Trump yet?

HONIG: Right.

GRASSO: And what is the actual? I still have not seen the final charges to the jury. I'm going to be, as a real nerd on this, I'm going to be like zoning right in. I want to see where they're using willful, what they're going to be using for state of mind. And whatever they use, I think that this is definitely a potential appellate issue.

AIDALA: But Judge, to Elie's point?


AIDALA: A lot of appellate issues, a lot of cases that are overturned are overturned on the judge's charge to the jury.


AIDALA: Basically, you gave the rules of the game, to the people deciding the game inaccurately.

And you've been there every day.


AIDALA: For you to say, after summations, prosecutors have done a great job, but it's a little willy-nilly--

GRASSO: Well--

AIDALA: --on how they're going to get there--

GRASSO: --I'm saying that because--

AIDALA: --gives me pause about whether this case should have been brought at all.

GRASSO: Well, I -- you know what? I think it's -- I disagree with you on that. And we've had this conversation on your radio show.

AIDALA: Every day.


AIDALA: Every day. Every day.

GRASSO: I think it was -- there was something rotten in Denmark there. And I think there's a mountain of evidence that -- and I think that that -- the Trump Tower conspiracy meeting, August of 2015, I think the defense summation fell really flat, when they tried to say that like David Pecker had no knowledge of what catch-and-kill, because he didn't use the word. There's a 130,000, 150,000, 30,000 that--

AIDALA: I know, Judge. But--

GRASSO: No, let me finish. That was clearly -- that was clearly--

AIDALA: Sure, judge.

GRASSO: --that was clearly directed towards the campaign. At least, to me, going there every day, you'd have to be kind of deaf, dumb and blind, not to see that.

AIDALA: But a minute ago, you said it's willy-nilly.

GRASSO: Will that be -- will--

AIDALA: A minute ago.

GRASSO: Well -- well -- well I'm talking about it.

AIDALA: You do like this, like you're riding a bike.

GRASSO: No. No. I'm talking--

AIDALA: You're like it's a little willy-nilly.

GRASSO: No. I'm talking about it in the context of what is the charge going to look like? How is the jury going to process it? And what is it going to look like on appeal? Because there is some new ground being made here, so.

AIDALA: Last question. In all your years on the bench, over a decade, did you ever have a charge that it was the first time ever you created the charge? It didn't exist anywhere else? I could give you the answer. The answer is no.

GRASSO: Well, I never had a guy, who ran for president, who thought it was a good idea to get some friends together.

AIDALA: Well there we go.

GRASSO: And got a lot of money together. We had -- we had--

AIDALA: And now we have what's called selective prosecution.

GRASSO: --we had -- no, we have -- we have something here that never happened before. These laws were never used the way they were used before, because they were never, at least from what I've seen, abused the way they were abused by this particular defendant.

Now, does that ultimately lead to a bulletproof -- a bulletproof verdict, if they do choose to find him guilty? We'll have to see.

But I think the evidence was there to bring the case. I think the evidence is there to convict. But we'll have to ultimately see if he's convicted what the appellate division does.

AIDALA: There you go, with Judge Grasso.

COOPER: We got to go. But it's what I see -- you've looked in the eyes of a lot of jurors.


Watching the jury, as I'm sure you have, what do you make of how they have been paying attention?

GRASSO: They're paying attention.


GRASSO: I'm taking notes vigorously. And so, I'm always into the notes. But then I just like randomly look up, and scan. And these people are paying attention. They're serious.

What do you think, Norman?

EISEN: As smart and dedicated and focused a jury, as I've ever seen, in over 30 years. But never sitting above the courtroom, wearing the robe.


COOPER: Judge Grasso. Wow. So great to have you. Thank you so much.

GRASSO: Pleasure is mine. Thank you.

COOPER: Alan Tuerkheimer, as well. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next. John Berman's back with more details from the trial transcript.

Later, how today's closing arguments landed with voters, specifically in Georgia, people from both sides of the political spectrum. They'll be talking to our Gary Tuchman, live, as our special primetime coverage continues.


COOPER: Because closing arguments went so long, tonight, until just before 8 PM, we're still waiting to get the final installment of the trial transcript. But what we've got is revealing enough.

John Berman is back with more details.

What are you looking at?


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, Danya Perry, who represented Michael Cohen, was on, a few minutes ago. And she was saying that Michael Cohen actually counted the number of times that Todd Blanche, the defense attorney, called him a liar. So did we. The number we came up with, Anna Glickman, my producer,

between calling Michael Cohen a liar, that he was lying, he lied, or just lie, or perjury, 78 times. 78 times, Todd Blanche said it.

COLLINS: Too close.


BERMAN: and this is what one of the things that Blanche said, directly about Michael Cohen. He's literally like an MVP of liars. He lies constantly. He's lied to Congress. He lied to prosecutors. He lied to his family, his business associates. He lied to his bosses. He lies to reporters. He lies to Federal Judges.

A little bit later, he said, it's like what people, when they talk about with athletes like Michael Jordan as the GOAT; Tiger Woods as the GOAT; Tom Brady as the GOAT, these athletes are the "Greatest of All Time," the best among their peers. Michael Cohen is the GLOAT. He's literally the Greatest Liar of All Time.

And then, the prosecutor, Josh Steinglass, later said, we didn't choose Michael Cohen to be our witness. We didn't pick him up at the witness store. The Defendant chose Michael Cohen to be his fixer, because he was willing to lie and cheat on Mr. Trump's behalf.

In this case, there is, literally, a mountain of evidence of corroborating testimony that tends to connect the Defendant to this crime; from Pecker, to Hicks, to the Defendant's own employees, to the documents, to the Defendant's own Tweets and rallies, and his own words on that recorded conversation. The list goes on and on. It's difficult to conceive of a case with more corroboration than this one.

COOPER: I just want to point out both attorneys misused the word, literally.


COOPER: It's just -- it's just a dramatical--

BERMAN: We were talking beforehand if I should break that up.

COOPER: --make sure, yes.

BERMAN: We opted not to.

COOPER: It's just a little pet peeve of mine.

BERMAN: Another interesting thing is Todd Blanche used the word, Michael Cohen, 251 times. So, he mentioned Michael Cohen 251 times in his closings. He said President Trump or Defendant, 235 times. So more Cohen and Trump. If you want to know what Todd Blanche, who he wants this case to be about, it's right there.

AIDALA: You should never say the word, defendant. When you're a defense attorney, you never refer to your client as the defendant. He's always Mr. So-and-so, and you put your hand on their shoulder, you know.

EISEN: I know. He's never -- to Todd Blanche, he's never Mr. So-and- so.

AIDALA: Well the President.

EISEN: He's President Trump.

AIDALA: Well, but apparently, you referred to him as--

EISEN: President.

AIDALA: --as the defendant.

I mean, look, he has to go after Cohen. And again, I would have just highlighted and -- he lied to all those people, the list you just gave us, Berman. But -- and then I would say and he lied to you folks.

BERMAN: He did do that.

AIDALA: Do you really think--

BERMAN: He did--

AIDALA: --he doesn't want Trump to get acquitted?

PHILLIP: And he--

AIDALA: You really think that's not in his best interest, for President Trump to get -- I'm sorry, do you really think he wants to get him acquitted, not convicted? He's selling shirts of the guy behind bars.

Have you -- and using your commonsense, ladies and gentlemen, have you ever heard a case? Think of Law & Order. Think of every movie you've watched. Have you ever seen the main witness is selling T-shirts of the defendant who he is testifying against, wearing a -- in a T-shirt with the guy behind bars? If that doesn't tell you he's lying to you, right here, in this trial, I don't know what is.

COLLINS: Well, and Steinglass sought to really go -- he spent, it seemed like the first half hour that he was up there, talking about all the times that Todd Blanche called Michael Cohen a liar, and was saying we're not asking you to love Michael Cohen.

He was saying Michael Cohen made his bed. But he was saying also one, on Michael Cohen making money, said you can't judge him for making money, off the people that he surrounded himself with, drawing it all back to saying, Donald Trump was the person who put Michael Cohen in this position, and hired him for all these years.

And another interesting point, and on the Trump going to jail, he said, quote, anyone in Cohen's shoes would want the defendant to be held accountable. That's how they addressed that.

But he also made an interesting point. He said that the defense was trying to have it both ways, with Michael Cohen, which is to say he's a liar, and he's a thief. But also, this idea that he was not -- he was not being reimbursed, that he was being paid these legal fees that are totally aboveboard, but also he got $60,000 that were grossed up for taxes, which is not as you well know, how legal fees work. They were arguing the defense was making two different arguments about Michael Cohen that conflicted with one another.

COOPER: They were also pointing out that Michael Cohen wants credit for things, and certainly wants attention for the things he has done. So, the idea that he would have done this without Donald Trump's knowledge, just is not -- that he's going to want the -- to get the credit from Donald Trump, for having done this.

PHILLIP: They were also suggesting when it -- when they talked about the credit issue, that Michael Cohen was trying to carefully tailor his testimony, to speak to things that other witnesses have testified about, like Hope Hicks. He carefully tailored his testimony, the defense argued, to try to make Donald Trump look worse.

They were trying to argue that Michael Cohen was being strategic, about trying to create an evidence pool that looked bad for Donald Trump. I thought that was important for them to say. I'm not sure that it really did the whole job.


But it was important for them to sort of point out that the inconsistencies add up to something, when it comes to Cohen, which is that he has an interest, in seeing Donald Trump in jail, and that he's willing to say anything, and he also knows exactly what to say, to make Trump look bad.

EISEN: I thought it was interesting, how Josh Steinglass, the prosecutor, dealt with the Michael Cohen issue, because he took the most damaging testimony, upfront.

He stepped -- before he did his long chronological summary, he took that moment. You and I were sitting very near each other, for that moment, Anderson, when he confronted Michael Cohen with that October 24th phone call, and said you didn't mention that it was about this 14-year-old prank caller.

And Cohen, we heard it from his lawyer on the prior hour that Danya Perry said well, my recollection was refreshed, there's plenty of time to do it.

Steinglass took the bull by the horns on that, with his wonderful little bit of theater, of doing that phone call, and playing out how there was enough time. He fronted it. And then, the -- it was a one- two punch to defend Michael Cohen.

Then he spent another close to four hours on the corroboration of Michael Cohen. That's why we were all kept there so long.


EISEN: I had to sprint. I don't know how Kaitlan got here before me, because she was still in court, when I ran out.


EISEN: She's got that anchor magic.

AIDALA: But Elie, did you--

EISEN: I had to sprint. And he did it -- hold on, Arthur.

AIDALA: All right.

EISEN: He did it for--

AIDALA: I'm not going anywhere.

EISEN: And I'm going to do it for four hours.

AIDALA: All right. OK, all right.

EISEN: You did the cross-examination you wanted to do.

AIDALA: I want to ask my man, Elie, a question.

EISEN: I'm going to do my prosecution closing.

AIDALA: That's all.

EISEN: He, for four hours, he corroborated Cohen. And he wanted to make a point, you can believe him, but also there is a mountain. And he made the jury suffer a little bit through that mountain. But the suffering was the point.

AIDALA: Speaking of suffering, might I be heard?

Elie, when--

EISEN: Your motion is granted.

AIDALA: Thank you.

When you were a prosecutor, and you were building up your case, did you do it in a -- in a way, like a timestamp way? Or did you do it issue by issue? Did you do it chronologically, or issue by issue?

HONIG: I would try to take it chronologically, right? You start thematic, you end thematic. But you want the jury to be able to follow it. This is a hard story to follow. A lot of it happened a long time ago. There's meetings. There's calls. So, I would take it linear. I would never go four hours.


HONIG: But I want to say this also. We prosecutors are so spoiled. We have every advantage. I can recognize that now. I did it for 14 years.

But take for example, the point that Steinglass made. A very effective rhetorical argument, about we didn't choose him as our witness, the defendant chose him.

That's bull. The prosecution chose him, when they chose to charge this case. They own him. They're the ones putting them in front of the jury, saying believe him beyond a reasonable doubt.

But Steinglass, and me and my old days, knows that you're getting -- we get the last word, and they're not going to be able to make that rebuttal.

AIDALA: And they're the ones, who decided not to charge him for stealing $30,000 from this exact transaction.

COOPER: But, I mean, Donald Trump is the one, who chose to surround himself with--

HONIG: For sure.


COOPER: --a certain type of people. And Michael Cohen was one of them. And he -- Michael Cohen seemed to flourish under the system, and the cast of characters that Donald Trump wanted to surround him with.

COLLINS: And assigned him to one of the most sensitive undertakings that happened, in the 2016 campaign--

COOPER: Right, yes.

COLLINS: --which is much as the defense tried to downplay the 2016 Access Hollywood tape. We were all there. We all witnessed it. Michael Cohen was in charge of dealing with that.

COOPER: Right.


COOPER: We're going to take a break.

John Berman, thank you.

Coming up next, we're going to speak to the attorney for Stormy Daniels, whose alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump is how all of this began, and discuss why the prosecution says her allegation is the quote, "Motive," for this case.



COOPER: The defense has said the former President did not have a sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels. Today, they also argued that this case is about the documents, not about her.

Prosecutors, however, said that, believing her testimony only reinforces why the former President would want to buy her silence. Why else, they asked, did they work so hard to try to discredit her? According the prosecution, in the simplest terms, Stormy Daniels is the motive.

This is how she described that alleged 2006 sexual encounter, when I talked to her, in 2018, for "60 Minutes."


STORMY DANIELS, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: I went to the restroom. You know, I was in there for a little bit and came out and he was sitting, you know, on the edge of the bed, when I walked out, perched.

COOPER: And when you saw that, what went through your mind?

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

COOPER: And you had sex with him?


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


COOPER: Not at all?


COOPER: Did you want to have sex with him?

DANIELS: No. But I didn't -- I didn't say no. I'm not a victim, I'm not--

COOPER: It was entirely consensual.

DANIELS: Oh, yes, yes.

COOPER: You work in an industry where condom use is -- is an issue. Did the -- did he use a condom?


COOPER: Did you ask him to?

DANIELS: No. I honestly didn't say anything.


COOPER: The defense reiterated, today that the former President denies the encounter.

Joining us is Stormy Daniels' attorney, Clark Brewster.

You think this is going to end quickly? You think a jury could come back quickly with a verdict?

CLARK BREWSTER, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: Yes, I think so. I think the issues are pretty defined. Even though there's 34 counts, I really the -- the facts to the -- to the law, in this case, will be easily applied, in my view, notwithstanding the long closing arguments today. And I predict they'll come back pretty quickly, if not tomorrow, then Thursday.

COLLINS: What did you make of how, in Todd Blanche's closing arguments today, he continued to reiterate that Trump denies that that encounter that Stormy Daniels was just telling Anderson about, years ago, and also testified to, ever even happened.


BREWSTER: Yes. I think his statement was like met at one time, on a golf course, for a picture. But that left out the story about the number of times he called her, that people were witness to, that she'd gone to Trump Tower, and they had pictures up there, that she'd gone to his bungalow in Hollywood. So, I mean, there's a lot of things that he said that weren't true.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, and she testified that it did happen.


COLLINS: Donald Trump obviously did not testify to whether or not it happened. Do you -- I mean, do you think he should have, if he wants to continue denying it?

BREWSTER: Well, he has an absolute right not to testify, in a court of law, when he's charged, criminally. And so, we respect that.

But he said so many things about it outside the courtroom, that you would have thought that he would want to wear that on his sleeve in the courtroom. But he didn't.

HONIG: Clark, do you think that the prosecution needed to call Stormy Daniels, legally, or narratively?

BREWSTER: Originally, when I first met with the prosecution, it was my position, why do you need to call her?


BREWSTER: I've read the indictment. I didn't think they needed to call her.

But I think they really wanted to lay the context for why Trump would have felt, this was a very important thing to keep on to the public view, and that it was something that she was credible. She had a persona in the public. And so, I think it was important, probably, for the jury to see her and understand.

COLLINS: Well they described her--

PHILLIP: When the defense--

COLLINS: Go ahead.


When the defense said that the allegations were already out there, they basically said that the idea that suddenly Stormy Daniels' story coming out, in 2016, would not have been that big of a deal, because they were essentially already in the public domain. Do you think there's any truth to that?

BREWSTER: Well, I think there might be some truth to the fact that she'd made a statement, I think, back in 2011, but really hadn't caught traction until the Access Hollywood tape.

The Access Hollywood tape put it into a just a, you know, four-corner defense for them. They had to do something, in my view, because she would have been a spokesperson that really would have lent credibility to the story, and would have told the truth, so.

EISEN: Some--

COLLINS: Last time you were here, you told us that Stormy Daniels was so nervous, going to testify, that she actually wore a bulletproof vest--


COLLINS: --on her way, inside court. I mean, obviously, she has security, and she was with them. What -- how is she spending these few days, as now the jury is about to get the case, in just a matter of hours?

BREWSTER: Yes, I wouldn't say nervous. She wasn't nervous. She was fearful. And she was fearful about what couldn't be predicted that somebody might do something rash, or somebody might try to harm her or her family. And she really got gripped with fear.

But when it came to getting on the stand, she was, I thought, she really showed transparency, and forthcoming, and met with cross- examination, and dealt well with it.

COLLINS: But how is she feeling about this moment now, now that the jury is about to get the case, and as she's waiting to see what this verdict is going to be?

BREWSTER: Well, she's been texting me, right up to this moment. So, she's decided not to do any interviews. She wants to stay out of the limelight. She doesn't want to have any bearing whatsoever on whatever the jurors may think. She wants her testimony to be what they've heard and make decisions about. And so, she's just chosen to not do any interviews.

PHILLIP: Does she--

COOPER: Which I got to say, speaks very well to, to her that she doesn't want to influence this process until the jury renders a verdict.

BREWSTER: Yes. The prosecutor shouldn't (ph) ask her not to make any statements, as the trial was getting closer. And she didn't. And she stayed out. She, I think, she responded a little bit in the Twitter- field. But for the most part, no interviews and stayed out.

COLLINS: You want--

PHILLIP: You answered Elie's question, about whether or not you thought she should testify. Does she still think that it was the right thing, for her to actually take the witness stand?

BREWSTER: I think so. We have a really good relationship. And I share with her what I think she should do. And then, she really has a voice in that and chooses her own course.

But I think in the long run, if she were here, she would say she's glad that she showed up, and subjected herself to cross-examination, so that people could see, whether she was telling the truth. And I think they could see that.

EISEN: On the topic of the cross-examination. Some of us, myself included, felt that she was actually stronger on cross. Would it have been wiser? One of the themes, as we've talked about today is less is sometimes more, Clark. Would it have been wiser for the defense simply not to cross-examine her? There were some tough moments on the direct.

BREWSTER: My son was with me. And he's a trial lawyer. And we talked about how we might have cross-examined her.

And the one thing is there's probably 30 questions that the defense lawyer could ask, that she would have agreed with him on. And they could have gotten to consensus on a lot of detail.

But they went in, and challenged her early, and tried to really impugn her integrity, and just didn't go well for them. I think there could have been a real nice pathway, of leading questions, and getting consensus on facts.

HONIG: Well now I'm intrigued. What are they?


BREWSTER: Well, there's some -- we could talk about it. But there's many. I mean, she wouldn't have resisted a lot of facts that would have been consistent with Trump's story, and the truth, truly.

And the real issue is whether sex occurred, and how it unfolded. And that's where they parted with regard to the story. But there's a lot of consensus they could have reached, in a good examination. It wasn't done.

EISEN: I would have just done all the questions on that she did not talk to Trump about the issues in this case, the 34 allegedly false records Trump -- in Trump's intent or not, in creating those records. She never had a conversation with him about the underlying alleged 2016 election conspiracy. So, she really doesn't have any information--

COLLINS: But they--

EISEN: --to advance the case. And she illustrates the distance that the prosecution has to travel for the actual issues in the case.

BREWSTER: Yes. There's a lot of ways you could have approached it. But I think going for the issues that they could have agreed upon, would have been a good cross-examination for her.

She really prides herself on being truthful and consistent. And I think they could have gotten a long way with that. Ultimately, though, the story would have come out, what happened. And ultimately what drove Trump to act in 2016--

COLLINS: I mean--

BREWSTER: --I think that's the case.

COLLINS: --the prosecution ended today with one of their lines saying that Stormy Daniels was the motive here, that that's the simplest way to put it.

The defense was arguing that she was extorting Trump.

Because the prosecution was saying, well, this was out there, and he never chose to pay it until close to the election. Todd Blanche was arguing that this was extortion of a presidential candidate.

What does she make of, of something like that?

BREWSTER: Well, did Karen McDougal do it as well? I mean -- I mean, aren't they both as similar-situated, although the scheme and trying to silence them was slightly different?

Stormy really had little to say. It was Keith Davidson, her lawyer, and they approached him, and he reported to her. It's far from extortion. And trying to make that argument, I think, the jury would see, as not very valid.

COOPER: Clark Brewster, it's great to have you on again. Appreciate it.

BREWSTER: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you so much.

Coming up. 12 voters in the battleground state of Georgia speak with our Gary Tuchman, about their views on the case, and whether they would vote to convict or acquit. We'll be right back.



COOPER: This case will soon be in the hands of the 12 jurors. And after that, voters in the November presidential elections, which is only a little more than five months away.

Our Gary Tuchman is in Georgia, a key battleground state, with 12 voters, representing a range of opinions, about the former President and the case.

Gary, what are you hearing?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, we are here, in Atlanta, with 12 voters, who've done their best, to pay attention to the coverage of this trial. And we've watched the coverage of the closing arguments, tonight.

Unlike the jury, in New York City, I've grilled these people, about their politics. I've asked them who they're going to vote for in November, because we want political diversity in this group.

I feel we succeeded, because five of you say you're going to vote for Joe Biden, five of you say you're going to vote for Donald Trump. And two of you are undecided.

The first thing I want to ask you, though, show of hands, who feels, think like a juror now, who feels that Donald Trump has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Raise your hand.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.

Who thinks that Donald Trump is not guilty? Raise your hand high.

One, two, three, four.

We have one undecided person then. Who's undecided?

You're undecided. OK.

I want to start with you, Ross (ph). You said you're going to vote for Donald Trump. But you think he's guilty. Why?

ROSS (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: Yes, sir. I think he's guilty, because I don't think in his business dealings that he would not know what was going on with the hush money payments.


Deanna (ph), you said you're going to vote for Joe Biden. You feel Trump is guilty. Why?

DEANNA (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: Correct. Yes, I believe that the evidence that was presented was pretty substantial, including the bank account statements, from Michael Cohen, and the series of checks that were signed off by Trump.

TUCHMAN: Joe (ph), you say you're undecided about who you going to vote for in November. But you feel that Donald Trump is guilty. Why?

JOE (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: I do, yes. I've -- same reason, I believe that the -- they proved the money trail, and they hid that for nefarious reasons.


Joe (ph) and Sandy (ph) are a couple. Sandy (ph) feels differently. She's ready to vote for Donald Trump.


TUCHMAN: And feels he's not guilty.

Why do you feel that way?

SANDY (ph): I think Michael Cohen is lack of -- a total lack of credibility as a star witness. He's proven to be dishonest, and admitted it as well. And now, we're supposed to believe him, so.


Robert (ph), you said you're ready to vote for Donald Trump and you feel he's not guilty. Tell me why.

ROBERT (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: Yes, correct. I think, for me, it comes down to the burden of proof. And I don't feel the prosecution has laid out--

SANDY (ph): Yes.

ROBERT (ph): --a real game plan, or really proved any of the allegations, beyond a reasonable doubt.

TUCHMAN: Tony (ph) on the end is an attorney. She says she's ready to vote for Joe Biden.


TUCHMAN: And feels Donald Trump is guilty.

How come?

TONY (ph): Yes. I mean, whether Trump intended to protect his family, or Stormy threatens to come forward, he still participated in falsifying documents and attempts to influence the election. I mean, if he wanted to pay the hush money, this happened in 2006, he would have paid it years ago. And the NDA from 2016 shows his awareness, of what took place.


On the top row on the left, this is Scott (ph). Scott (ph) doesn't know who he's going to vote for November. And he doesn't know if Donald Trump is guilty or not guilty.

How come you feel that way, at this point?

SCOTT (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: I think the prosecution made it about Michael Cohen, when they let him open his mouth. And he turned out to be the worst star witness in the history of trials. So, good luck to the jurors, trying to figure out what's true, what's not.

TUCHMAN: Well, you're the juror right now. But you're saying you haven't decided. You don't like Cohen. But you haven't decided that he's not guilty?

SCOTT (ph): Yes, I -- as an American, I also didn't have the ability, to see things through an unfiltered lens. So that would have really helped.

TUCHMAN: And that's what I've explained. We've done our -- you've done your best to follow this trial.

DeLancey (ph), you're ready to vote for Joe Biden, at this point. You say Donald Trump's guilty. How come?


DELANCEY (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: I think Cohen is also not a very credible witness. But I think on the things that he said that mattered in the trial, it was backed up by the testimony from David Pecker, the controller for the Trump Organization, and also the silence of Allen Weisselberg, who did not testify, and wasn't called because of the non-disclosure agreement he signed for $2 million.

TUCHMAN: This is DeLancey's (ph) son, Roscoe (ph)--

DELANCEY (ph): Yes.

TUCHMAN: Voting in your first presidential election in November.


TUCHMAN: Says he's voting for Donald Trump. No?

ROSCOE (ph): No.

DELANCEY (ph): No.

TUCHMAN: Got it. Just checking you there, Roscoe (ph), because I see how nervous you were.

You're voting for Joe Biden, you said.

ROSCOE (ph): Yes.

TUCHMAN: But you think Donald Trump is guilty too.

ROSCOE (ph): Yes, I, unlike most people, I kind of liked Michael Cohen's testimony. And I thought it was a strong one, based on what I heard from the court reports, and how the jury seemed to really resonate with them. And I think that the prosecution's attempt of trying to de-credit him, mostly served as a way of de-crediting Trump who was in charge of hiring him.

TUCHMAN: OK. And this is Matt (ph), over here. Matt (ph) is ready to vote for Donald Trump in November, and he feels he's not guilty. How come?

MATT (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: Yes, sir. I believe, basically, with the Michael Cohen's testimony, it was just going to be basically just a lie from the beginning, from the idea of just as information he gave.


And Matt (ph) and Belizza (ph) are a couple there.

Belizza (ph), also, you're ready to vote for Donald Trump. You feel he's not guilty. How come?

BELIZZA (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: Yes, I believe he's innocent, because I think he didn't violate any campaign financial law.

TUCHMAN: OK. Belizza (ph) is from Colombia, originally.

BELIZZA (ph): Yes.

TUCHMAN: And she became an American citizen, a few years ago.

BELIZZA (ph): Yes.

TUCHMAN: So congratulations on that.

And finally, Darrell (ph) is up there. He's ready to vote for Joe Biden, feels Donald Trump is guilty. How come?

DARRELL (ph), GEORGIA VOTER: You can't explain -- can't explain away the receipts. He did what he did. And regardless if you think, is lying or not lying, the receipts remain, the documents remain.

TUCHMAN: Final question for you, a show of hands here. If Donald Trump is found guilty, do any of you who say you're ready to vote for Donald Trump, would you consider switching to Joe Biden? Raise your hands.

No consideration, even if he's found guilty.

Other hand, if he's found not guilty, any of you voting for Joe Biden, would you then possibly consider Donald Trump?

All right, everyone's sticking with the candidates they have right now.

We may find out guilty or not guilty, as early as tomorrow.


TUCHMAN: Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.

Back now with the panel.

Interesting to hear how--

AIDALA: It's not good news for Donald Trump, man. I mean, they go right along political lines. I mean, that seems to be it.

PHILLIP: Yes. Yes.

AIDALA: They went 100 percent.


AIDALA: And you're talking to a jury pool. Just so you know, the jury pool comes from the voter pool. The voter pool here, I don't know, Anderson, you might -- what is it, 83-17?

COOPER: Something like that.

AIDALA: Yes, something along those lines. So that is--

PHILLIP: It seems to take acquittal--

AIDALA: --not good news.

PHILLIP: It seems to take acquittal completely off the table. I mean, if the--

AIDALA: Yes. Well I'm sure of that (ph).

PHILLIP: --if the jury looks anything like that. Which is why, the reporting, tonight, from our own Paula Reid is that the Trump team, they think their best chance is a hung jury. And it may very well be if the jury decides that they really, really can't make this work.


COOPER: And that's why this thing about the Allen charge potentially could be important.

EISEN: Anything--

PHILLIP: And by the way, does the Allen charge have to happen, or you know--


EISEN: Yes. If they're stuck, the judge will eventually tell them, you need to make a decision.

AIDALA: Eventually is the key word.


AIDALA: It's usually it's this -- there's no law. It's usually the third time. So, you get one -- we're hopelessly deadlocked. And then can we hear this readback, that -- this readback? OK. Now, the next day or hours later, we're hopelessly deadlocked.

And then, the third one, the judge says, look, we've all been killing ourselves, including the 12 of you, to reach a verdict. And it's not like -- if you pass, it's just going to be 12 other jurors, who are going to have to do this.


AIDALA: So please go, start negotiations from the beginning, start from like deliberations from the beginning, if need be, and reconsider the evidence as well.

EISEN: But it has to be said, hung juries are rare, about 5 percent, 6 percent of all juries, a little more common in high-profile cases.

This is a jury that I think every one of them is going to try hard to apply the law, to the evidence and come to a decision.

COLLINS: I think the important thing, though, to look at that is that this is not just all happening, in what happens with this verdict. It's also the question of what is the aftermath, and since as we are five months out from the campaign.

And the thing that we saw today that we have never seen, in this trial so far, is Biden sending his allies, and his campaign surrogates, to the park, outside of the court, to come and talk about this.


COLLINS: And one of them was asked, why are you guys here? I believe it was the deputy campaign manager. And he said, we're here because you guys are here, talking to the reporters, who are outside, covering this trial.

And I think that is a question. Because we are told President Biden is going to weigh in on this verdict, whatever it is, once we do have it from this jury. And so, it is a question of whether it's an acquittal, if it's something that helps fuel Trump's campaign, or if it's in any way, anything that impacts his run.

AIDALA: When you guys were in the courtroom, today, I was outside the courtroom. I had a quick case on. And then, I came outside.

And I didn't -- I'm talking to the court officer. I go, what's going on over there? It's pandemonium.

And they're like, oh, Bob De Niro's over there, giving a speech.

And then, when he left, I don't know what security was around him, but it was -- it was insane--



AIDALA: --like I've never insane, because there's so many such international media there to begin with. And it's Bobby De Niro. And they are just following him. And it was the Trump people are screaming. It was like nothing I've ever seen.

PHILLIP: And it all raises the question about whether -- I mean, look, the Biden campaign can rationalize. The media is there, sure.

But the American people have largely made up their minds about this guy, Donald Trump. They know how they feel, probably about this case. And it doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I think what the jury's verdict is, in terms of how people already feel about his guilt or innocence.

HONIG: Which is why I thought that was such a fascinating exercise that Gary Tuchman just did. I mean, it was 100 percent political correlation--


HONIG: --to verdict correlation. He had four Trump voters on that mock jury. Four not-guilty votes. That is remarkable.

And look, this--

COLLINS: But they haven't been in the actual room. I mean, it's really hard to say.

HONIG: Of course not.

COLLINS: They haven't. It's very different when you're actually in the room. So, I don't think that anyone should -- I just don't want anyone watching that.

HONIG: Do you think any of them would have changed based on what we just saw?

COLLINS: I don't want anyone watching that to think it's a translation of what this jury is going to do. We don't know.

HONIG: But it's a fact -- no, of course not.

COOPER: It's also--

HONIG: But it's a fascinating exercise that it--


HONIG: --that it breaks 100 percent.

COLLINS: Yes, it is.

HONIG: And the four that were against him that were for acquittal would never have come over.


HONIG: I don't care what they saw. That was clear. And same vice versa. This is -- there is a political aspect. It's inseparable here.

COOPER: Thank you, everybody.

The news continues. More of CNN's special coverage of the Trump hush money trial, right after the short break. I'll see you tomorrow.