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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Trump Attorney: "We Were Prepared For A Guilty Verdict"; Stormy Daniels' Attorney: She Was "Emotional" After Guilty Verdict; Trump Campaign Attacks GOP Senate Candidate Who Urged Americans To "Respect The Verdict". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 30, 2024 - 21:00   ET



ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: He may be sentenced to some sort of a state-controlled facility that doesn't have other prisoners in it. No matter where he ends up, if it's in a state facility, it will be some combination of prison officials--


MCCABE: --and, of course, Secret Service.

COOPER: Andrew McCabe, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

MCCABE: Yes, sure.

COOPER: The news continues. More of CNN's special coverage of the historic verdict, in the Trump hush money trial, right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, the 45th President of the United States is a convicted felon. And Donald Trump's lead attorney, Todd Blanche, will join me live.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

It's one of those where-were-you kind of moments in American history. When the verdict came down, on Donald Trump today, guilty, guilty, guilty, reverberating 34 times over, as the former President sat stone-faced in that New York courtroom.

No matter how you feel about this case, or about Donald Trump, the man, it's an extraordinary stain, on the Office of the Presidency, and on Donald Trump's already-tarnished legacy.

He'll be back in that very same courtroom for sentencing in this case on July 11th. That happens just days before he takes the stage, at the Republican National Convention, accepting his party's nomination for president. But this time, as a convicted felon.

We saw Donald Trump earlier, raising his fist in defiance to the crowd that had gathered outside Trump Tower, late this evening.

My lead source tonight is the lead attorney, who represented Donald Trump, in this case, Todd Blanche. And Todd, thank you for being here.

Why do you think the jury found Donald Trump guilty on all counts?

TODD BLANCHE, DONALD TRUMP'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I mean, well, I don't know. I mean, it's a good question. I think understanding why a jury reached this verdict is something that every single trial lawyer in the country would love to be able to answer, honestly.

Look, a lot goes into a jury verdict, that doesn't even include what happened at the trial, you know? The decisions that are made before the trial. The decisions that the court makes, and that the parties decide about what witnesses to call, what evidence to put in, you know?

So, I think that at the end of the day, it remains true that if the word of Michael Cohen was not accepted at all, then you could not have convicted President Trump. And the jury convicted. So at the end of the day, they looked past what we thought were fatal flaws, in Mr. Cohen's story, and his past, and they reached a guilty verdict.

COLLINS: Right. But it wasn't just the word of Michael Cohen. I mean, there was other evidence in this case, the documents. They wanted to rehear David Pecker's testimony. I mean, they took all of that into consideration.

BLANCHE: Sure. No, look, of course, a jury will take everything into consideration. They were very serious. Look, this jury showed up on time every day. They were very focused on the evidence and on the -- and on the testimony that came in. And there was a lot.

But look, at the end of the day, they -- it was still a case, in our view, as we've been saying for a year that relied on testimony of conversations and interactions that took place eight -- seven, eight, nine years ago.

And certainly, documents were part of the case. But the documents that -- the 34 counts were documents that really had very little connection to President Trump, but for the checks that the few checks that he signed.

Look, we -- I very much believed that the jury -- that the jury should have found President Trump not guilty. I mean, very, in my soul, I believe that, and I believed it for a year. I mean, I left a -- I left my job, to do what I did the past six weeks. And my conviction around what happened today, and what I believe the facts show remains the same.

COLLINS: I know you disagree with the outcome, obviously. And -- but do you accept that he did have his day in court, and it was a jury of his peers that made this decision?

BLANCHE: Well no, not at all.

COLLINS: Why not? BLANCHE: No. I mean, look, I think, and this is nothing that we haven't said repeatedly. We were in -- we were indicted for conduct that happened in 2015, 2016, 2017, in a jurisdiction that, that it was very hard for us to get a fair trial, Kaitlan, I mean.

And it's, I know, the District Attorney has said repeatedly, he said it today, this is a bread-and-butter case. We do this all the time.

That is not true. It's just not true. It may be that they bring these types of charges regularly, business records charges. But you cannot find another case, in the Manhattan District Attorney's, in the history of that office, where they did what they did here, which is charge somebody for conduct that was 7-, 8-years-old, somebody's personal records, right, not corporate records, his personal records.


So, this is not a -- I don't think -- I think it's naive to say that this is like any other case that we do. What we did in this case is what we do all the time. No. And maybe it's OK. I mean they think it's OK they did it. But--

COLLINS: Well because I think the -- the response to that would be well, it's also not every day that someone running for president, reimburses his attorney, who paid off a woman to keep her silent.

And when you -- when you say about getting a fair jury, this is where Donald Trump -- I mean, you know New York well. This is where Donald Trump chose to have his businesses and chose -- and spent decades of his life, until just recently. I mean, that's why the case was here.


COLLINS: I think some people would say, well, that's ridiculous that a jury couldn't put their beliefs aside. You just talked about how hard they worked in this case. Don't you think that they put their political beliefs or biases or stereotypes aside to make a fair decision here?

BLANCHE: I don't know what they did or didn't do. But listen, Kaitlan, it matters, right? Like when a 100 -- we did it in groups of about 100, when we picked that jury. Half the jury just walked out, when invited to by the judge if they couldn't be fair and impartial.

So, imagine if you're -- if you're standing before a group of your peers, right? That's what a jury system is supposed to be. So, you're standing before a group of your peers, and half of them walk out before a single question is asked, just because they have an opinion of you that is so strong they can't be fair and impartial.

COLLINS: But these 12, to be fair, did not.

BLANCHE: Well, they did not, of course. But that's not really the point. The point isn't that 50 stayed. The point is that it's telling how many just walked out. And also the fact that President Trump did business in New York,

that's not the law. The law doesn't say, well, tough luck. If that's where you do business, then that's where you're going to be charged.

COLLINS: Well he built his business here. And he resided here.

And I guess, if you think, if you talked about the testimony, and when this happened, well, why didn't your -- the cross-examination of these witnesses, or what you put forward, your defense, why didn't that work? Why did it still lead to this outcome?

BLANCHE: Well, that's a great question. If you know the answer to that, tell me. I mean, look, I don't -- I think that at the end of the day, I do think it comes to something that we talk about a lot of times, in our profession, where there's a bias that you have that you can't get past.

I mean, you say that this is where he built his business. That's true. Every single person on that jury knew Donald Trump, either as president, as candidate, from The Apprentice. And so, I don't accept that this was a fair -- that this was a fair place to try President Trump.

COLLINS: Is that what you're going to argue -- what's your main argument going to be, in your appeal?

BLANCHE: Look, I think we have -- I think there were a lot -- that is certainly an argument.

I think the timing of this trial, and -- was really unfair to President Trump. There's so much publicity around the witnesses, and around leading up to the trial, that it just -- our system of justice isn't supposed to be a system, where every person that walks in the courtroom, knows about the case. I mean, and it sounds -- it sounds like--

COLLINS: But it's one of those cases, where you can't avoid it. I mean, no matter what jurisdiction he's tried in--

BLANCHE: But the -- the law doesn't say--

COLLINS: --everyone knows Donald Trump.

BLANCHE: The law doesn't say, but if you can't avoid it, tough luck, right? That's not what the law says. The law says that a person is entitled to a fair trial, in front of a jury of their peers.

And we just think that because of everything around the lead-up with this trial, it made it very difficult for the jury, to evaluate the evidence, kind of independent of what they knew coming in. And we knew that. And that's not something that we've -- I haven't -- we've been screaming that from the rooftops.

COLLINS: Well let's talk about--

BLANCHE: And so that's. COLLINS: --you said a few of your arguments on the appeal. When do you plan to file your appeal?

BLANCHE: Well, there's a lot of that -- look, this is one step in the process, right? So, we have motions due, in a couple weeks, in front of Judge Merchan, which we're going to vigorously fight, and restate a lot of what I'm saying to you, tonight, and other things that happened on the trial that we think just made the trial unfair, including the testimony of Miss Daniels.

If that is not successful, then as soon as we can appeal, we will. And the process in New York is there's a sentencing, and then -- and then we appeal from there.

COLLINS: District Attorney Bragg, tonight, did not directly say whether or not they are going to seek jail time for Donald Trump. Do you expect that he will?

BLANCHE: I have no idea. Look, there's a system in place that -- where you rely on precedent. And somebody like President Trump should never, never face a jail sentence, based on this conduct. And it would just kind of confirm what we've been saying all along, and a lot of people say that we're wrong and that we're missing -- we're missing key pieces.

But if other 77-year-old first-time offenders would never be sent to prison for this conduct?

COLLINS: Judge Merchan will make that decision.

BLANCHE: Correct. That's right.

COLLINS: Do you -- do you think the judge was fair, throughout this case?


BLANCHE: I think that there were -- there were times, when we very much disagreed with the decisions Judge Merchan made. I think there were times when we certainly appreciated that he was making decisions, weighing both sides, and making decisions based upon that.

But at the end of the day, there were key decisions made, before the trial started, and during the trial, that I don't want to use a fair or unfair, but that we think were not consistent with the law.

COLLINS: But you can't say if he was fair or not?

BLANCHE: Well, I mean.

COLLINS: He ruled in your favor, sometimes. He ruled against you, sometimes.

BLANCHE: Yes, but no. I think -- I think just saying whether someone's fair or unfair is not really the question. The question is whether decisions that he made, before the trial, in advance of the trial, with all those (ph) motions, with the motions in limine, and then during the trial, were they right under the law? Was he right doing that?

And that's where I think we have -- we have disagreements. We think there were a lot that were not.

COLLINS: Why did Donald Trump not ultimately take the stand here?

BLANCHE: Well, that's a very personal question to him, and to me, honestly. And it's a very difficult question. Of course, he wanted to testify. And I don't say that because that's what he has said. He wanted to get his story out.

I think the judge had made some decisions before the trial, or the day of the trial started, about what would be allowed to be asked of him, by the -- by the prosecutors, if he took the stand. And some of those questions were really complicated to answer, because there's still appeals going on. And so, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of decision points that go into whether somebody testifies.

Ultimately, it's his decision. And he listened to us. And he relied on our counsel. And he reached the decision that he -- that he thought was right, which I very much agreed with.

COLLINS: So, that means your counsel was for him to not take the stand?

BLANCHE: I'm not going to tell you what my counsel was. Look, he did not--

COLLINS: But you said he relied on counsel, and he went with that decision, and he didn't take the stand. So, I would deduce as--

BLANCHE: But ultimately, it was his -- it was his decision.

And I'd never say, and I think colleagues and folks that you have on here hopefully agree with me, I'd never say to somebody, don't take the stand, right? That's their decision, and that's a decision that they have to make. But I want them to have -- I want them to know what will happen, on the good and the bad, if they do take the stand. And I know that's--

COLLINS: So, no regrets on him not taking the stand?

BLANCHE: Look, the verdict came down a couple hours ago. I don't know if I have any regrets about anything yet. I'm still -- I'm still thinking things through. And I think so are -- so is he, and so is sort of everybody that's around him. But at this point, I don't think that we -- that there was a conviction because he did not take the stand.

COLLINS: When he was leaving, one thing he brought up were the witnesses who were not called. And he was saying that there could have been witnesses that would have helped make the case. We never saw Keith Schiller, Allen Weisselberg, some key figures here who got brought up a lot. Why didn't the defense call any of these witnesses?

BLANCHE: Well, because we happen to live in America, and we don't have the burden of proof. And so, there's not the -- that's not the point. That's a question that is, a loaded question that should not be asked of a defense attorney or a defendant.

The question that we asked the jury, and they ultimately obviously got past is why the prosecution didn't call those witnesses, right? You, as a defense attorney, you don't go into a case saying, I'm going to fill the hole for the prosecution, right?

And Keith Schiller, and some of the other witnesses that were not ultimately called, in our view, should have been called. Should have been called by the prosecution. And we asked the jury to take a hard look at that. I don't know whether they did or not. But they convicted.

COLLINS: Todd Blanche, I have a few more questions for you, if you'll stick around.


COLLINS: We're going to take a quick commercial break. And we'll be right back. Much more with Donald Trump's lead attorney in a moment.



COLLINS: The presumptive Republican nominee, now a convicted felon, guilty on all 34 counts today, in his unprecedented hush money trial, here in New York.

His lead attorney, Todd Blanche, back here with me.

Can we just talk about what it was like in the room today? Because our reporters, everyone kind of thought, reporters included, that no verdict was going to be reached. The judge himself seemed to think that. He went to go get the jury, and then he came back with a verdict note in hand.

I mean, you and Trump had been sitting there talking, laughing, and then obviously realized a verdict was coming. You were obviously surprised?

BLANCHE: Yes, very surprised. But that's what juries do. Everybody that's been talking for the past two days, about what they thought maybe a note meant, or what a juror was thinking, or how long they would deliberate, you never know. You never know.

And I think there was, as a day, there have been no notes, really all day. And as 4:30 came, we were going to just go home and start again tomorrow. And the jury, sent a note, said they reached a verdict. So, it was surprising. But it wasn't surprising, like, oh, my gosh,

I'm shocked. We had been prepared.

COLLINS: But were you prepared for--

BLANCHE: All week.

COLLINS: --a guilty verdict? Trump seemed to be telling people, from what I heard, he thought it was going to be a hung jury.

BLANCHE: We were prepared for a guilty verdict. I mean, I don't know what people he was -- President Trump was saying that to. But, of course, our -- in our view, we were -- we were fighting, to win the case, of course. But a hung jury would have been as close to a win, as we could have gotten. But we were prepared for a conviction. And I think that was expected, yes.

COLLINS: I think a lot of people are curious, because we hear from a lot of former Trump attorneys, what it's like to be a Trump attorney. How has it been for the last seven weeks?


BLANCHE: Listen, I hear former Trump attorneys talk on TV, all the time as well.

I have found the last seven weeks to be, and I don't want to use cliches, but it's been everything that I would expect and want out of -- out of a client, out of someone, who is -- has really putting their life in your hands. It's been challenging. It's been rewarding.

President Trump is there's -- there's a persona that people have about him that is completely wrong. There's a persona that people have that is -- that is right, in some ways too. It was -- the hardest -- in many people's lives, the hardest thing you do is go through a criminal trial. And he was -- I was impressed, especially today, at the way that he carried himself and handled himself.

COLLINS: Well, there were moments, and I was in the court multiple times, where you would see -- you and Trump were often sitting next to each other, or the other attorneys, Emil Bove and Susan Necheles. But Trump would hit you on the arm, tap you on the arm, urge you to either object, or clearly was writing you notes, and saying stuff.

I mean, who ultimately was in charge of the defense strategy here? Was it you? Or was it Donald Trump?

BLANCHE: It was both of us. If there's a lawyer that comes in, and says that they're in charge of their defense strategy, they're not doing a service to their our client. And every decision that we made, we made as a team, and not just President Trump and myself, but the whole team.

And so, and again, every -- every defendant, everybody who has their life on the line in history, will tap their lawyer, every once in a while and say, hey, what about this? What about that? I never -- we had -- we -- not only did we get along, during the trial. But we were on the same page about strategy, and about what we should be doing and not doing.

And it was, the one thing that I left with today is he impressed, hopefully everybody, that got to see what happened today, the way that he handled himself in the courtroom, hearing that 34 counts of guilty, the way that he handled himself, really, throughout the entire trial, as somebody, who is the Republican nominee, not campaigning, sitting in court all day. And I was right there with him, the whole time. And I have no complaints about it.

COLLINS: But did it make your job harder, and more difficult, when he was constantly going after the judge, calling him corrupt, saying that he was so -- so biased, he couldn't breathe here, going after the witnesses, in this case, until the gag order? I mean, he violated the gag order, at least 10 times here, in this case. Didn't that make your job harder?

BLANCHE: I don't think it made my job harder. It's something that we had to deal with, during the trial, as a team, and understanding that there's a message that he needed to get to the people, to the American people, the people who are deciding who to vote for in November.

And part of that decision has to be, he is being judged for this trial. And that's a fact. And so, when folks get upset that he responds to what he sees happening, and he responds forcefully, that's because he's being judged by everybody. He's being judged on television, by voters, in newspapers.

And so, the fact that he says, this is my opinion, this is my view, is not something that I looked at as making my job harder. I accepted that as being part of this job. And that is what -- he will continue to do, like I don't think he's going to stop tomorrow morning. Like, he has to explain to the American people, why this whole year, in front of the Manhattan D.A., in this case, was completely unjust.

COLLINS: But can you do that, without attacking Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen? I mean, there was one point, where the judge had to use incredibly strong language with you, because Trump audibly used an expletive, when Stormy Daniels was on the witness stand.

BLANCHE: When you say can you -- can you do that, you mean can you respond, when people are--

COLLINS: But isn't that inappropriate for him to have an outburst in court, while a witness is on the stand?

BLANCHE: Well, first of all, I don't think an outburst is the right way to describe what happened. He that -- as you know, from being in the courtroom, it's the courtroom has very bizarre acoustics. And there's times when you can't hear a thing. And there's times when voice carries. And I don't -- it was absolutely not an outburst.

COLLINS: The witness heard it. Stormy Daniels heard it.

BLANCHE: I have no idea if that's true, or not. COLLINS: Her attorney told us that.

BLANCHE: OK, well. OK. Well I -- that's the first that I'm hearing that. And I don't know that that is true or false.

But it was not an outburst. It was a reaction to -- again, it's easy to sit here and throw stones and say, well, how come he said this? How come he said that?

Why don't you go on trial for something that happened? I don't mean this, you. I'm saying rhetorically you, for something that happened nearly 20 years ago, when you hear saying -- somebody's saying something that you believe is demonstrably false, and you can't do anything about it. And there's a reaction that folks agree with or disagree with.

President Trump, in my view, behaved in a way that I thought was exemplary, for a defendant, facing what he was facing, in that environment, in that courtroom, for the past five weeks. I mean, it was--

COLLINS: You didn't think it was inappropriate when he came out, and would rail against Judge Merchan, and go after his daughter, and other witnesses, in this case?

BLANCHE: He did not go after the judge's daughter after he was gagged, at all.


And by the way, by the way, the defense went after the judge's daughter, in public filings. So, you want me to say that it was inappropriate for the -- for President Trump to do something that I believed, under the law, required to be brought to the judge's attention?

COLLINS: Well attacking her on his, you know, obviously he has a massive following. Making a point in a court filing is different than making a point on Truth Social.

BLANCHE: Why? I mean, I guess I question that. So, the idea is that as--

COLLINS: Because you're arguing this--


BLANCHE: --as a judge -- as an attorney, I'm allowed to make motions, put arguments in front of the judge. But if my clients makes those same arguments, to the people who are going to decide whether he should be President of the United States, somehow that's? It's OK for me to do it. But he can't? I don't -- I don't accept that.

COLLINS: Well it's different venues, I think. I think there's a point -- a point--

BLANCHE: Sure, that's true.

COLLINS: --a place to make your argument and doing it on Truth Social, attacking a private citizen.

BLANCHE: Nobody reads the papers, right?

COLLINS: But on this point--

BLANCHE: That's the problem, right? So, it's easy to say, OK, defense attorney, you can file those papers. And there is nothing wrong with that.

COLLINS: Well, you're an attorney. I mean, you read those filings. We read those filings. Obviously, we talk about those filings.

But on this overall, I mean, you are relatively new to the Trump team. Your life has kind of changed, since you've become a Trump attorney. You've moved to Florida. You're now registered as a Republican. You used to work at a big firm here, you registered as a Democrat.

Do you expect to continue to represent Trump, in this case, and in the federal cases?

BLANCHE: Yes, absolutely. Listen, I -- absolutely. I'm going to Florida, next week. And we have a motion to compel hearing, in the case, at the end of June. And we have a lot of work to do. We haven't been working on that case, for the past six weeks. And we are -- we are going to start fighting every day, in Florida.

We have briefing in this case. We have a sentencing in this case. And then, we'll have an appeal.

I have, you know, putting aside changing my life, I think President Trump has put faith in me, and my team. And there's a lot of great people that I work with. And as long as he has that faith, we're going to keep on doing what we're doing.

COLLINS: One thing about the Trump attorneys that we sometimes hear is whether or not they were paid after. It's always -- it's always a point of contention. Obviously, we were -- Michael Cohen talked about it. Has that ever been an issue for you since you've represented him?

BLANCHE: No. And I don't know what Trump attorneys. I mean, I know that it's a fun folklore to talk about that Trump attorneys don't get paid and whatnot. But I don't -- I mean, I don't know who that applies to. But I am -- of course, of course, President Trump pays his bills.

And I am getting paid. And if my mom's listening, I'm getting paid. And -- but that's not -- I'm not alone. I'm not alone in that. I don't. It's not like I'm getting paid, and the other. I mean, he has a lot of cases. He has a lot of lawyers, right now. And I don't know if you're hearing something different. But the lawyers are getting paid.

COLLINS: Todd Blanche, quite a day for you. Thank you for coming in--

BLANCHE: Thank you, Kaitlan. COLLINS: --to join us on set tonight.

BLANCHE: Thank you.

COLLINS: Appreciate your time.

Up next, we'll get perspective, from someone else, who was inside that courtroom today, also witnessing history along with the rest of us.

We'll also get Stormy Daniels' attorney here, on set, about this historic conviction and her reaction.



The only voice that matters is the voice of the jury. And the jury has spoken.




COLLINS: Tonight, former President Donald Trump is right where you see here, back at Trump Tower, just hours after he became a convicted felon today. He is spending the night there, before he holds a press conference, tomorrow morning.

He responded, at least in part, earlier, as he was leaving court and learned that he is now a convicted felon on all 34 accounts.

A source said he was in good spirits, and ready to fight, as he left court that you could also see a bit of shock on his face, at the idea that he is now the first former U.S. President to ever be a convicted felon.

My legal panel is here with us tonight. And I just want to start with everyone's first reactions to just -- I mean, we've been covering this case, day in and day out. All of you have been on this show, talking about this.

Judge, what did you make of what the jury decided today?

SHIRA SCHEINDLIN, RETIRED FEDERAL JUDGE: Well, first of all, I was shocked. It was a very fast verdict.

In my experience, I would have thought they would have put more time into the deliberations. I expected a verdict on Friday. That's sort of a typical day because jurors don't come back on Monday -- don't want to come back on Monday.

But they had asked for so little. They had just two sections of readback, and a little bit of charge. And then, they were unanimous. So, I was surprised.

But I think the strength of the summations made a huge difference here. I think the People's summation was so organized, so chronological, so convincing. And it gave them the roadmap they needed.

And with all respect to your prior guest, it was a little bit disconnected, a little bit all over the place. He didn't give them a story to hold on to. So, I think that's a reason.

COLLINS: Judge Grasso, I mean, you have been inside that courtroom. You have a special seat reserved for you, in the courtroom.


COLLINS: Every day.

You were in there today, as that verdict was read. What was it like to be in the room?

GRASSO: Yes. Well, I agree with Judge Scheindlin. I was shocked that they came in today.

And was even more shocking, because we all had a waiting area, in the jury room. And then, we were told to come in around, just around 4:15. And we thought that we were going to be getting excused.

And Judge Merchan made some kind of a comment to the effect that the jury is going to -- bring the jury in, and we're going to leave. And then, I thought we were going to just do some scheduling for tomorrow.

And then, Judge Merchan wasn't there for about 15 minutes. And everybody's like looking at each other, like what's up with this? And I had -- I had said, again, 99 percent, no--

COLLINS: No verdict?

GRASSO: No verdict, no verdict on Thursday, you know?


And then, Judge Merchan came with like a kind of a strange look on his face. And he said, I have a note, marked as exhibit -- called exhibit number seven. The jury has reached a verdict. You -- I mean the air was sucked out of that room. I mean, it was a dramatic moment.

And they just want 30 minutes more, so they can work up the verdict sheets. And then, it was like wow.

COLLINS: Which it kind of raised the question, why did they need 30 minutes, if it was just X -- I mean, you heard Todd Blanche was saying there, they were also shocked by that.

GRASSO: Meticulous. 34 counts. They want to get the sheets right. This was a meticulous show. One of the things I did today, during the read -- and the thing, the

other thing about today that made me kind of lean towards Friday, I was really impressed.

I don't know, Judge Scheindlin, how many times when you did trials, did you see like on, as soon as you put a jury in, to begin to deliberate, the first note that comes out is they want the instructions read back?

SCHEINDLIN: Never. Because -- because--

GRASSO: Never, right?

SCHEINDLIN: No, no. Because in federal--

GRASSO: Not just me.

SCHEINDLIN: Because in federal court, we send the jury instructions in.

GRASSO: Oh, you send them in?

COLLINS: Exactly.


COLLINS: That's a great point.

GRASSO: But I mean--

COLLINS: I mean, Renato, it does -- it's just--

GRASSO: --that's unusual.

COLLINS: You're a jury consultant. It speaks to -- they had -- they had questions about this, that we kind of thought that meant they would have other questions on other aspects.


COLLINS: No. They had a decision after that.

STABILE: A little bit surprised it came out today. Like everybody else, I thought it was going to come out Friday.

But if you think about it, it kind of does make sense. Remember, they had seven days off, to think about this case, and really think it through and maybe make up their minds and decide what questions they had. So that by the time they came back and heard the summations and deliberated, maybe they kind of knew what they were going to do already. So, it really wasn't that much to have to go through.

In terms of 30 minutes, I'll just say, these people spent a lot of time together. They might have just wanted to say their goodbyes to each other, exchange information, stuff like that. I don't know that it took 30 minutes to check a bunch of boxes. COLLINS: They were thanked for their service.

SCHEINDLIN: And, you know, but--

COLLINS: But, Paula, next steps here.


COLLINS: You heard Todd Blanche say they're planning to file their appeal. They'll wait for the sentencing, it sounded like.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: They have a few reasons why they're going to file it. But what's next here, because it is six weeks away from the sentencing.

REID: Yes, he continues to be -- the former President continues to be a lawyer full-employment act. Todd said he's going to file additional motions before the judge. Then they'll have sentencing. Then they'll have this appeal.

And look, they've been planning for this appeal since the beginning. They've always had a strategy. Death by a thousand cuts. Rack up any mistake, any question, any issue, throw everything at the wall, see what sticks.

But based on what we saw in court, based on the verdict today, it is unlikely that they're going to succeed on those appeals. But he absolutely has the right to do it.

COLLINS: Do you agree that he's unlikely to--


COLLINS: --succeed?

SCHEINDLIN: No. I think there's a chance that there are real serious appellate issues here. Remember, by the time it goes to appeal, it's not about the facts. It's about the law. And there are some very interesting legal questions here that they can raise and should raise. So, we'll see. I'm not -- I'm not calling a winner. But I'm saying there are serious appellate issues.

COLLINS: What do you make of that, Judge?

GRASSO: Look, from what I saw, I think there's a mountain of evidence that supported the conviction, on each one of the counts. Let them appeal. There's always a chance. Frankly, I think Judge Merchan's ruling and his decisions, I think it's -- I think it's going to hold.

SCHEINDLIN: See, I don't disagree with you.


SCHEINDLIN: On the facts, the evidence was there. But there are legal issues here-- GRASSO: Right. I understand what you're saying.

SCHEINDLIN: --as to these three crimes.


STABILE: And I wonder how--


STABILE: --how well the jurors--


STABILE: --understood those legal issues, especially because they didn't have the written instructions in the room.

SCHEINDLIN: Right. I wanted to respond to your comment--


SCHEINDLIN: --when you said they had six days off to think about this case.


SCHEINDLIN: That troubles me. All six days, they didn't know the law, and if they would be taught and told. And how they could think about it for six days without knowing the legal construct is troubling to me.

STABILE: Well, but I think they -- they thought about who they believed, who they didn't believe--

SCHEINDLIN: Yes, I understand that.

STABILE: --pieced together the facts. I'm not saying their minds were completely made up.

SCHEINDLIN: Right, no.

STABILE: I actually do think their minds were made up. It's possible they left a little room there.


STABILE: But the legal instructions were very complicated, just to hear them.

SCHEINDLIN: Correct. Correct.

STABILE: And even when they heard them again. I mean, come on, there's really no way--


GRASSO: Well--

STABILE: --I think that the jurors fully understood the legal instructions.

GRASSO: And Judge Merchan had a tough counter there. Because he was given defendant Trump, now convicted felon Trump, the day off, for the Friday, for the graduation. There was Memorial Day. He didn't want to be in a position, where he knew there was going to be very long summations that--


GRASSO: --he would be caught in the middle of it.

SCHEINDLIN: Right. Right.

GRASSO: So, I would, frankly very supportive of the decision he made to do that.


SCHEINDLIN: And I was too.

GRASSO: Based on the hands he was dealt.

COLLINS: We'll hear from--

SCHEINDLIN: And I was too.


COLLINS: --from Trump, tomorrow, also, more on this. I mean, he's staying in New York tonight.

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: And what have we heard about their next steps just in general? I mean, as Todd was -- Blanche was saying there, they do have other cases that are coming up. None of them that are happening before the election. I mean, they'll be focused on this.

REID: So, the first question is, will they try to get that sentencing moved? Because it's just days before the convention. I'm told that that's going to be something under discussion, over the next few days. They're not sure.

Because politically, they believe there could be an advantage, to going into the political convention, with whatever sentence it is, be able to spin that narrative of martyrdom. So right now, that's under discussion.


I think that is the first decision they need to make, right now. Do they try to get that sentencing pushed? Or do they like that date?

COLLINS: And he didn't have to post any bond.

REID: Correct.

COLLINS: As a result of this.

REID: Yes.


COLLINS: We'll see what all this means.

Paula Reid, Renato Stabile, Judges George Grasso, and Shira Scheindlin, great to have all of you, over the last several weeks. So, just want to say thank you, to all of you, for your expertise, for your reporting. It's made our coverage so great.

And speaking of all of this, it has been 18 years, since Stormy Daniels had her alleged encounter with Donald Trump, the one she testified, in great detail about. So now, what is the woman at the other end of that hush money payment thinking tonight?

Her attorney is here to tell us, after a quick break.


COLLINS: Tonight, Stormy Daniels' husband says that she's stoic and still processing what happened today, that historic conviction of Donald Trump. But he also added that she is a little vindicated that the jurors believed that she was telling the truth.


Let's get perspective now, from her attorney, Clark Brewster, who is joining me here.

And I mean, what has she said since this verdict came out?

CLARK BREWSTER, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: I think I was the first to tell her. I texted her. And then, she called. And we spoke. And she was really emotional. She was quite taken, I think, with the finality as much as anything. But she was really, really emotional.

COLLINS: What was she emotional? Just happy or just stunned?

BREWSTER: I would call it--

COLLINS: How would you describe it?

BREWSTER: I would call it more empathy, and realization of the finality, and just a combination of a lot of emotions flowing. And, I mean, she -- I told her how proud I was, that she was able to see this through, and come up here, and sat two days under examination, in a federal -- in a state courthouse that was so obviously watched by the world. And we had a good talk. But she was really emotional.

COLLINS: It must have been a -- this whole process must have been a total whirlwind for her, because when she was -- appeared, that was the first time she had been in the same room, as Donald Trump since, I think, 2007.

BREWSTER: That's correct.

COLLINS: Or something.

BREWSTER: That's correct.

COLLINS: And the next time you see him, be testifying against him.

BREWSTER: That's right.

COLLINS: And to now this verdict, it must be really remarkable and strange.

BREWSTER: Yes. Yes, it takes a lot of processing. She's so bright. And she's a person with a lot of courage. And really proud of, what she's done here, from the standpoint of standing up for the truth.

Now, I think she would have been fine with what the jury would have done, in either way. She has great trust in the system. And the fact that these jurors gave their time, and listened to that evidence, very attentively, as you know, that's to be commended and respected. But could have gone either way, and she understood that.

COLLINS: Is she glad she testified?

BREWSTER: I think so. I mean, I -- you know, the fact that it would have been like a half-eaten sandwich, if the story never came out. It was just accusations or whatever, and the world didn't really get to hear all of the evidence like this jury did. So, I think there's got to be a sense of satisfaction from the standpoint, you saw it through.

COLLINS: Obviously, I just spoke to Trump's lead attorney, in this case, Todd Blanche, about what's next, what they made of the verdict. This is what he said, in part.


BLANCHE: We have motions due, in a couple weeks, in front of Judge Merchan, which we're going to vigorously fight, and restate a lot of what I'm saying to you, tonight, and other things that happened on the trial that we think just made the trial unfair, including the testimony of Miss Daniels.

If that is not successful, then as soon as we can appeal, we will.


COLLINS: He mentioned obviously, your client there. What did you make of what he said there? And just overall Trump's reaction to the verdict?

BREWSTER: Well, it was pretty standard Trump, as he went out, and castigated everyone involved in the trial. So, I can't imagine the appeal point with regard to Stormy's testimony. It was straightforward. They had an opportunity to cross-examine her. I think she held up well.

I did find it interesting, though, where he said that you couldn't get a fair trial, because all the jurors knew Trump. I would think that that would give you the fairest of trials or better trial. The fact that they knew him, why would one automatically assume that it'd be biased against him?

COLLINS: Sometimes, celebrity appeal works.

When you spoke with Stormy Daniels earlier, did she say what she thought a fair sentencing would be in this?

BREWSTER: We've never discussed that. And I think her reaction, knowing her the way I do, is she would say there'd be the judge's call. He knows the law better than anyone. He knows the case better than anyone. And she would just say that that would be his decision.

COLLINS: Clark Brewster, I mean it's been fascinating to follow this. You did say it would be an early verdict. So, I'll give you credit for that.

BREWSTER: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you for joining us here--

BREWSTER: Thank you.

COLLINS: --on set, and for every single night that you've joined us.

Also, we are now getting new reaction, from Ivanka Trump, for the first time, her response to her father's conviction today. We'll tell you what she said after a quick break.



COLLINS: This just in. We are now hearing a response, from Donald Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, who posted for the first time, since her father was convicted, this picture of herself, as a young girl, being held by her father, with the caption, I love you dad.

I should note we saw a lot of Donald Trump's family at the courthouse. His son, Eric Trump, the only member of his family, who was there, for this pivotal day today. But we have seen the other children there. Eric Trump was obviously there, Donald Trump Jr., Tiffany Trump as well.

I should note, two people we did not see in that courtroom, Ivanka Trump or the former first lady, Melania Trump.

But we have just learned, CNN's Kristen Holmes is told by a source that Melania Trump and, their son, Barron, are here in New York, this evening. The two were already here actually, when the verdict was read earlier today, although it's not immediately clear when they arrived in the city.

Republican lawmakers tonight, perhaps unsurprisingly, definitely unsurprisingly, are rallying to Donald Trump's side, after that guilty verdict.

House Speaker, Mike Johnson, called it a shameful day in American history, and said that he is confident Trump will win on appeal.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik called it a quote, "Zombie case," and alleged without evidence that the prosecutor was doing President Biden's bidding.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene posted an upside-down American flag, synonymous with Trump's Stop the Steal movement as a longtime distress signal.

For more on all of this, tonight, and the political reaction, we have two top political minds here, CNN Political Commentators, Jamal Simmons and Ana Navarro.

I mean, what's your reaction to this, as someone who has paid attention to this for so long, Ana, like what do you -- what was your response today, when you saw that verdict?


ANA NAVARRO, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I have to tell you, I have to apologize to CNN, to you, to all of you, because I have been pooh-poohing the coverage. I have thought nobody's paying attention to this.

But now, I realized just how crucial the coverage that's been cover to cover, gavel to gavel, has been, in order to lay the framework and the groundwork for this decision. But for that coverage, people would be in complete and utter shock, even more so than we are today, because of the no cameras in the courtroom. Had there been cameras, I think everybody would understand what happened today.

Look, I think for me, there was a level of shock, disbelief, really, a lot of sobriety. First of all, because how many times have we seen Donald Trump not be held accountable? How many times throughout his life, have we seen him get away with things that mere mortals would not get away with? So, this idea that he finally had to be accountable is just like perplexing that this could actually happen.

I have such admiration for the judge, for the jury. I mean, their lives are upended, and in danger. Their lives are at risk. We all know that. We all know their security is at risk. And they did what they had to do.

And I just I am -- I feel kind of a lot of things. I feel -- I feel concerned for the country. I feel concerned for the security of the city, of the people. But I also feel great pride in the legal system, and in particularly in these jury's. Alvin Bragg, Stormy Daniels, these are people who I think have been heroic. COLLINS: We saw President Biden, obviously, he commented, linking to a donation place for him, and for Democrats. And he said he thought the only way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office is at the ballot box. That was his response, minutes after the verdict came out.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I talked to somebody at the campaign, today, asked them how they were feeling about this. They said, look, we're focused. It's a reminder of the stakes of this moment.

As I think about this, it's clear the justice system had an honorable day. Our country had a sad day, though.


SIMMONS: This is a day, a President of the United States -- a former President of the United States has been convicted. He may be the -- is probably going to be the nominee of the Republican Party, is a convicted felon. That's just not something that any of us ever thought would happen.

And it's Donald Trump, who has drugged our political system to an even further depth. He refused to divest himself of his business interests, and did business out of the Oval Office, while he was President of the United States, as far as we know.

He had his nomination convention on the South Lawn, at the White House, was clearly was something we never thought that we would see.

And now, we're seeing him, the name-calling, all the other things, now we're seeing him take us to a legal low that we never thought we would see from a President.

Even when Bill Clinton, who's somebody who I worked for as a kid, even when Bill Clinton got caught and got in trouble, they found a way to keep him from getting to this moment.

Donald Trump refused, and is still refusing, because not only did he do, this is about a hush money trial from 2016. We still have charges pending against him, for trying to subvert the 2020 election.


SIMMONS: So, there's just a lot here for us to be somber about as well.

We also honor a system that we saw at work today.

COLLINS: Well, we're seeing Republicans weigh in. I mean, I just -- we saw Senator Vance, earlier tonight. We've seen Senator Rubio, the Congresspeople that I -- that I quoted earlier.

Larry Hogan, a longtime Republican, obviously his father also, posted earlier about this verdict, I believe, saying he disagreed with it, but saying that Americans should respect and -- the verdict, and the legal process. Had this lengthy, thoughtful response that you can see there. And that's Trump's -- one of Trumps campaign managers there, Chris LaCivita, who's just quoted him and said, "You just ended your campaign." He's running for Senate in Maryland.

NAVARRO: Well, I think the Trump campaign has much bigger fish to fry, right now, and many bigger problems to address, then what Larry Hogan may be tweeting or not.

I think it's irresponsible for elected members of the Republican Party, the law-and-order party, supposedly, that's how they call themselves, to be making these accusations and allegations, about this legal proceeding without any basis of fact, to be saying that this was Joe Biden.

No. This was a state case. They -- he was indicted by a grand jury of regular New Yorkers. He was convicted by a jury of regular New Yorkers. Joe Biden cannot pardon him, because this is a state case.

These are all things that I've heard from Trump supporters, and read from Trump supporters today. And that's the drumbeat they're going to be playing. Oh, this was all Joe Biden, this is a political persecution.

No. He is there because it was not a persecution. It was a prosecution for criminal activity.

SIMMONS: Kaitlan, there's one name I haven't been able to shake all day, Silvio Berlusconi.



SIMMONS: Right? Donald -- Silvio Berlusconi, who was the former Prime Minister of Italy, who was convicted in 2011 of tax fraud charges, he had been there for nine years, unlike Donald Trump.

He was a big billionaire. He had sex scandals. He was in the middle of, he -- the Bunga Bunga. He had all the things that kind of make up the Donald Trump moment. But what he did though that we all have to wrestle with is that he ushered in the far-right wing, into the mainstream of Italian life.

And I think we're going to suffer, regardless of what happens to Trump, we will suffer the far-right wing, in our lives.

COLLINS: Jamal Simmons, Ana Navarro, thank you. Great to have you. We're out of time.

Thank you for joining us, on this historic night.

The news continues with Abby Phillip, on "NEWSNIGHT."