tv PBS News Hour PBS August 22, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productns, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight... >> they came from me. and i tweeted about . >> woodruff: questions of justice-- a felony convictn and guilty plea from two men close to president trump raise questions about what these mean for the man in the oval ofce. then, we speak to michael cohen's attorney about what hisk cliews of the president. and we get reaction from former u.s. attorney general, michael mukasey. plus, facebook and twitterid tify disinformation campaigns from iran, one day ewafter microsoft revealed evidence that russia was trying to interfere in the midterm elections. >> when you think about what it t kes to successfully defend democracy in the 2ntury,f this is part. now we have new elections on our
edorstep. we need to be prep >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> babbel. a languagepp that teaches al-life conversations in a new language, like spanish, french, german, italian, and more. babbel's 10-15 minute lessons are available as an app, or online. more infmation on babbel.com. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org.
>> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u. c and developintries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more ju world.ant and peaceful more information at macfound.org >> and w of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like yo ank you. >> woodruff: the fallout from the guilty plea and conviction of two men close to president trump escalated today, raising e question of whether mr trump has broken the law. as yamiche alcindor reports, the president's supporters remain in his camp.
>> alcindor: president trump, ,der pressure and defiant pushing back about what he knew about hush money his former lawyer michael cohen gave to two women during the 2016 mpaign. under oath yesterday, cohen said that m trump directed him to make those payments to keep the women from talking publicly about alleged affairs. the president told fox news he did nothing wrong. >> later on i knew. later on.o but you havederstand, ainsley, what he did, and they weren't taken out of campaign finance. that's a big thing. that's a much bigger thing. did they come out of the campaign? they didn't come out of the campaign. they came from me. >> alcindor: on capitol hill, the response from republican senators ranged from cautious... >> all we really know for sure le that there was a plea agreement and he'sguilty. and everything else is speculation. >> these are serious charges and they can't be ignored. i don't think he can be indicted. >> alcindor: ...to defensive o the president... >> i don't see any evidence that
the president knew they committed these crimes. but they are crimes. >> alcindor: some democratic senators raised alarm bells.a >> we're institutional maelstrom, literally a crisis that we haven't seen since watergate. htthink all the remedies o to be on the table, including indictment. >> alcindor: but most put the brakes on calls for impeachment. >> i think impeachment talk is something we shouldn't be engaging in now. i hope that we don't see, you know, people celebrating. >> alcindor: all this poured in less than 24 hrs after two men close to the president and his campaign were declared guilty, each on eight criminal counts.a, in virgini jury found former trump campaign chairman paul manafort guilty of tax and bank fraud. just two minutes later, hundreds of miles away in new york, cohen pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion and campaign finance violations. hours after the newsroke, at a rally in west virginia, the president did not mention histw
former confidants. but he continued to attack the overall russia probe. >> fake news and the r witch hunt. we got a whole big combination. where is the collusion? >> alcindor: by early this morning, the president unleashed a twitter, writing: "one is looking for a good lawyer, i would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of michael cohen!" at that rally last night ahead n ember's midterm elections, most of mr. trump's supporters remained firmly on his side. >> he had an affair that might have hurt his marriage. any man would be, would ashamed of that, any man would nowant that to get out, an man who's a man like i believe donald trump is would not want his wife-would regret that. so he's a boss, so he's going to say, pay him off. o >> alcindoers dismissed the russia probe altogether. >> i agree with him. i think it's garbage. we've got better things to worry about in this world.
i would be not telling the truth if i said things like r at didn't bote because i don't like anybody that's dishonest, but again you can't control cybody but yourself. >> alcindor: back itol hill today, some democrats, including senate minority leader uck schumer, took their criticism a step further. th're calling for a delay next month's confirmation hearings for supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh. >> it is unseemly for the president of the united states to be picking a supreme court justice who could soon be, effectively, a juror in a casees involving the ent himself. >> alcindor: others, like hawaii's maz hirono, won't be meeting with the nominee at all. >> i will be canceling my appointment with judge kavanaugh because i chse not to extend e courtesy to this president, who is an unindicted co- conspirator.lc >>dor: as the political battle continues, so do several investigations into russia interference >> woodruff: and white house
correspondent yamiche alcindor joins me now. along with our capitol hill correspondent, lisa desjardins. and larry noble, a cn finance expert and former general counsel for the federal election commission. larry noble, i'm going to turn to you before i turn to my "newshour" colleagues toif clwhat is the violation here, if any, ofcampaign finance laws? we've had one version, we've heard from michael cohen in the courtroom yesterday, his plea, and then the president tod saying something different. how do you interpret all this? m >> well, if whhael cohen has said is true and if the information the u.s. attorney vpresented is true you e several campaign finance violations. i have a corporate contributlon because its like the trump organization reimbursed for the payments, you ove anther corporate contribution from american media, if that's the company they're referring to, paying for other payments for karen mcdougall. >> woodruff: the "national
enquirer." >> national inquiring paying for payments for karen mcdougall. you have excessive contributions by michael cohen because when hs paid out the the money to stormy daniels, then that was a coribution from him until it was reimbursed, so an illegal contribution, and report all of this. >> woodruff: so when the president said today the money came from me personally, there is still a disagreement between the two men about whether the president kn this, the president says he didn't know at the time, after having said he didn't know at all annow he says he did, but the president is saying the money came from me personally, that it wasn't a campaign contribution. so what difference would that make? >> it doesn't make any difference, in fact it wracks it worse. the way this should have been handled, the money should have been come from ige camand reported as a campaign expenditure. there are obvious reasons they didn't want to do this, but saying it didn't come from the campaign means it was illegal b contributiause somebody paid for it when it should have come from the campaign. the important part is admichael
cohetted and said this is for the purpose of influencing the election. once he said at, that turd all these into campaign contributions which shouom have come the campaign. unfortunately for mr. trump, once he said it didn't come from the campaign, it adds to the problem. >> woodruff: so with all this as background, yamiche, we heard you in west virginia last night talking to these folks who still are supporting te president, very strongly, despite all this news. what is your understanding of why that is? well, remkably, most supporters i spoke to just did not care. they fellinto two categories, the first are people who look at this and says thpresident hasn't been convicted or indicted of anything. there are all the time around him in legal trouble and maybeld people he sht have trusted but that he actually didn't do anything wrong. at least two supports said unless the president commits oneason or shoots somebody, they're going tonue to support him. >> woodruff: unless he shoots someone. shoots somebody. >> woodruff: okay. the second category of people
saidrussentially mr. might have problems if he actually did -- if he actually is proven guilty of something, but, as of now, they're still optimistic that that isn't going to happen and they saidhis is between trump and god. most surprisingly a man named sean bailey tod me president trump was trying to protect firsumlady melania it was an act of chivalry by protecting these women ando paying theff because he sees this president as doing what he should as a man. >> woodruff: lisa, you have been talking to people on capitol hill trying to gautge political fallout, among them nominations for supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh up in the air. >> this is a quandary for both parties. democrats, as they appach brett kavanaugh, one said i'm not meeting with him because of what happened, and we've seen chuck schumer and others call for a delay in the kavanaugh
hearing scheduled for a weeky. from to the democrats are arguing many fronts. when you ask them why should what michael cohen said about the president have an effect on the nominee for the tsupreme coury said we think the president is tainted by this indictment and we also think this is a nominee who has specific feelings about executive power and may protecte the dent. but then the argument after that becomes more political. they point to the need for documents, they come to other areas. i think what you have is democrats under free pressure to try tolock this nominee from their base but don't have the votes to do it on their own. >> woodruff: yamiche, again, given that backdrop of what's going on onhe hi, you have been talking to other people at the white house here in washington. how are they dealing wh all this? >> publicly, they are rushing to try to change the narrative. you had the president talki to fox news after this at the white house, trying to defiantly say that he did nothing wrng, and then you had sarah sanders from the podium putting together a press briefing at the last
minute to say again that the president did nothing wrong, bu behind the scenes, i'm hearing and a lot of other reporters are hearing at white house aids are rattled, worried that theco presidend legally be held liable. i had a long conversation with lanny davis you spoke with withr theoadcast, attorney for michael cohen, and said the president should be indicted because he committed crimes but, of course, that's a grey legal area. >> woodruff: lisa, bayok to bringing up politics, midtermmi elections in november. it's early, speculation, what's your sense of how that could be affected? >> there are concern from dpublicans this may affect things in someistricts, not every district. i spoke to john cornyn, senator from texas, a trump allys he se does not believe michael cohen, thinks he's lying but, nonetheless, he sa hid s words these accusations don't d,lp their cause. on the other hemocrats are also concerned that rising calls for impeachment they see from the more progressive members could harm some of the members that have a chance to flip swing
districts. i spoke to two new candidates for democrats who hope the unseat republicanto thir campaigns. they said they aren't going tohm bring up impet. they say that doesn't help them. what they might talk about isro corruptionother republican members of congress like duncan hunter who is now indied or chris collins who is indicted. deey don't want to talk about the pre and impeachment in swing districts but will talk at corruption more generally. >> woodruff: so many strands to the story but it's important and important to hear all thees perspect lisa desjardins, larry noble, i amiasm, thank you. >> thank you mo woodruff: now, to the day's other news: the atic national committee says it's uncovered a new attempt to hack its voter database ahead of the midterm elections. d.n.c. officials alerted federal law enforcement to the attack, wh the news came a day after facebook and twitter announced that they had removed hundreds of account they believe iran and russia creat to sow political
discord and misinformation. we'll have more on the mounting threat of cyberattacks later in the show. president trump awarded the medal of honor posthumously today to air force sergeant jo chapman for his "extraordinary heroism" in afghanistan 16 years ago. chapman died while trying to rescue a navy seal after their helicopter crashed under enemy fire. the military says ig continued to al-qaeda militants, and helped save 20 u.s. service, membespite critical wounds. the president gave the award to' chapwife and two daughters. >> john engaged the enemy and provided covering fire in an attempt to prevent the enemy from shooting down our soldiers, our airmen and that helicopter. in this final act of supreme courage john gave his life for his fellow warriors. >> woo first member of the air force to receive the medal of honor for
actions since the vietnam war.io new u.s. san on russia took effect today, as russia's ruble slipped to its lowest mark in two years. the new measures include a ban on some technology exports to russia. they are in response to rusemsis al attack on a former russian spy and his daughter earlier this year in england. speaking in sochi, russia today, president vladimir putin dismissed the sanctions as "misguided." >> ( translated ): as for the sanctions, they are counterproductive and senseless, especially in regards of such cotry as russia. we hope that our american partners will eventually realize the uselessness of this kind of politics and we will start constructive cooperation. >> woodruff: the president suggested earlier this week that he would be willing to remove sanctions on russia in exchange for cooperation in placelike syria and ukraine. house speaker paul ryan stripped republican congressman dcan hunter of his house committee
dests last night, after hunter was indicted by a l grand jury. the justice department says the san diego-area lawmaker and his wife misused $250,000 worth of campaign money on expenses like family vacations and their children's school tuition. hunter maintains his innocence, and today calledhe attack "politically motivated." >> this is the new department of justice. this is the democrats arm of lt enforcemat's what happening right now. it's happening with trump and it's happening with me. a're gonna fight through win. >> woodruff: hunter is remaining on the ballot inovember's midterm elections. meanwhile, republican voters in wyoming and alaska haven their nominees for governor. in wyoming's g.o.p. primary yesterda state treasurer mark gordon came out ahead of president trump's pick, billionaire donor foster friess. in alaska, former state senator mike dunleavy beat a crowded field for the republican nomination. he'll compete against the
independent incumbent governor gd democratic former senator mark begich in teral election. hawaii's big island is bracing for hurricane "lane" to unleash dangerous winds and rain over the nexteveral days. the storm weakened from a category five to four today. but 155 mile-per-hour wind gusts and floodi are still expected as it draws closer to land. residents today flocked to supermarkets for supplies. the hurricane could make landfall by tomorrow. u.s. stocks reached a milestone today: the longest bull market in history. the s&p 500 marked a record stretch of uninterrupted gains since march 2009, but markets closed flat. the dow jones industrial average lost 88 points to close at 25,733. the nasdaq rose 30 points to stose at 7,889. and the s&p 500 ne point
to close at 2,862. still to come on the newshour: whchael cohen's lawyer on 's next after the former trump attorney plead guilty to federal crimes. reaction fm senators on capitol hill. attempts by russia and now iran to influence policy through social media, and much more. >> woodruff: we turn now to a win at the center of the g legal storm that could implicate president trump. lay davis is one of two attorneys representing michael cohen, mr. trump's former personal lawye lanny davis, welcome to the "newshour". >> thank you. >> woodruff: you probably know president trump is saying today that he did know about the payments michael cohen made to two women whol alege they have had affairs with president tmp
but president trump saying he only knew about it later and he's also saying, as he tweeted a few month ago, that this was money that was his own money, it wasn't from the campaign. how does that square with what mr. cohen is saying? >> let's talk about the law and then i'll answer your question about what mr. cohen is saying.s the las it doesn't matter whether personal or campaign money, you have to report the donation, and it must be by a limit of $2,400. as usual, mr. trump doesn'tar eitherabout the facts or what the law is, but i'm telling you what the law is. as to what mr. cohen is saying, he is simply saying that, along with the u.s. attorney prosecutors, that he decided to plead guilty to these offenses. the woosen collaboratively were that mr. trump, without b naming himut we know it's mr. trump, directed and coordinated e payment of that money by mr. cohen, not by mr. trump because he was hiding, so there's a coverup qualityhe
, paid that money for principle reasons, political purposes, that makes it a felony. it's the purpose of the money, having an effect on the election that makes ate crime, and we noh havee spectacle that hasn't happened much in h ouristory where we have, under oath, somebody who is a lawyer saying that the client, the president of the unitestates, committed a grenl, and that's where we are as a country, a president wit evidence of felony criminal behavior. >> woodruff: let's move to sevel comments you have been making. you've done several press interviews since m cohen pleaded guilty yesterday in which you said he would be willing o testify about the president and russian attempts n. influence the 2016 elect how much can you say, what can you say about what michael coh knows? >> so i'm restrained in saying what he knows. first of all, i'm ttorney.
when a client shares information with me, i can't waive attorney-client privilege. it's bsmy oervation, my opinion that what he knows about mr. trump's level of knowledge of the hacking and attempted interference in our democracy by russian agents would be of interest toel mr. r. i don't know whether i'd call it smoking gun,i decve, it would be up to mr. mueller to decide the weight of that knowledge, but i can tell you it would be of interest. >> woodruff: but based on what u know, is this information that suggests the president cooperated, coordinated or anyone representing the president cooperated, codinated with the russians? >> i believe that mr. cohen as direct knowledge that would be of interest to mr. mueller that suggests -- i'm not sure it proves -- that mr. trump was aware of russian government
agents hacking illegally, committing computer crimes, the detriment of the candidate who was running against hillary clinton, and as to whether or not that can decisive in mr. mueller is thinking about whether mr. trump did anything wrong or not, i have to leave to mr. mueller. >> woodruff: if mr. cohen has this information, why wasn't ere some sort of cooperationhe agreement with prosecutors? why was mr. cohen -- why was he pleading guilty when a lot of peopleooking at this would say, well, he has information the government would consider of value, they would want cooperate with him? >> so it's tilt to answer the question becauscooperation agreement is defined by people in so many different ways. i can tell you that he pled guilty because he thought that was the best choice for his family and he s willing to take responsibility and he's going to goto prison as a result of his decision. however, he's also said and authorized me to say he ll
fully, consistently tell thetr h to whoever asks him to appear and tell the truth. now, if that isn't cooperation, i don't know what the defined term is, whther there is an agreement or not,ly leave to the prosecution and mr. peclo in new york who reprents mr. cohen in the finance arena. >> woodruff: is that proce underway? have they asked him to sit down and share whatever information he has? >> are you referring to mr. mueller? >> woodruff: mr. mueller orhi representative. >> in this situation at this very sensitive stage, i canell you that mr. cohen looks forward to sharing everything with mr. mueller that mr. mueller is interested in and anybody else including congressional committees usbehe made a turn after serving mr. trump and 'doing a lot of things not so proud of, and, on july 2, he declared his independence first on abc, then hiring me, and he's
ing forward with truth to power as his new life. >> woouff: lanny davis representing michael cohen, we hope we have the opportunity to speak with him a well. >> thank you, judy. >> woodruff: thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: for another >> woodruff: for another perspective, we turn now to a er attorney general unde president george w. bush, michael mukasey. michael mukasey, welcome to the "newshour". you were able to hear what lanny davis attorney for healthcare just said. given the pleas yesterday, what legal jeopardy is president trump in right now? >> legal jeopardy, not much. political jeopardy, that depends, i guess, on how thebl receives this, but the question is really what gal jeopardy lanny davis' client was in, and i would suggest to you that he was in legal jeopardy thincipally from the charges you didn't discuss ot segment and not from the charge that you did. >> woodruff: what are you referring to?>> ell, he was facing a whitman
sampler holiday assortment of federal charges including tax fraud, income tax evasion and the like. those charges, i believe he had noefense to. the charge that you were discussing was this charge of making an illegal or undicasclod aign contribution and that charge i think he clearly had ao defense to ah nift his interest, i think, to plead guilty so he could implicate somebody else, ie th president, and disclose thema infon that would give him leniency on all charges. >> woodruff: focusing onthe last point, michael cohen is saying the president directed him to make the payment and michael cohen made the payment. the president is saying he didn't know about it at the time, it was only er that he reimbursed it out of his own moy, and i think the eletion law suggestsette, either way, ere's an election law roblem, isn't there?
>> not really, the election law says that a payment for the purpose of affecting an election has to be reported and is limited for a person other tha the candidate to $2,700 and a little bit it's theepurpose. if there is a duosal purpe including protecting his reputation, then it's not consigered a cam contribution. if you make a contribution, for example, to pay for yard signs or buttons you make a contribution to pay for air time, that is a direct contribution to the campaign, but if you make a ibconion that serves a dual purpose, then it is nat, i believe, covered by the statute and that statute is read narrowly. >> woodruffptif one acce that explanation about a legal violation, what about the president's shifting personal explanations for what happened ehat, at one point, he said didn't know about a payment to these women, he said that in, what, april of this year, then may he said, yes, he did know, he did rmburse michael cohen, and now he's saying
something along those lines, what are these shifting explanations from the president representing? >> i'm not able to read the president's mind. i can tell you th people often makeshifting representations when they are in a situations that isy personabarrassing to them, whether unlawful or not. and, certainly, this invo two women, neither of whom was his wife, is a personally embarrassing situation. >> woodruff: the other poi we heard michael mukasey from lanny davis just now that his client michael cohen is prepared to testify before the special counsel that he had information about russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. is that something t president should take seriously? >> i think. it depends ouiously ton sorce and given the fact the source it somebodyan interest in implicating the president
inasmuch as possible so prosecutors will think well of him and he will get the enefit of their good word in connection with all of his sentences including on the other charges, en i think you have to sprinkle a ouple of grai salt on it. look, he would implicate the president in the assassination of abraham lincoln if he thought he could. final, michael mukasey, we heard thlpresident repeatedly cal the robert mueller investigation a witch hunt,de he's scribed the people working on it as democrat thugs. due agree withawe -- due agree o you agree with all that?s >> that in my vocabulary. i didn't choose those words, he did. i can understand his frustration with the investigation which was supposedo look into the question of whether there had been involved by the trump campaign with the russians in influencing our election in 2016. so far, that hasn't been shown,
and there's been a lot of other thin have been, including the manafort indictment, and so on, but i can understand his frustration with constantly having to deal with that on a day-to-day basis rather than other issues, but i certainly don't buy into phrases like that, they're not in my vocabulary. >> woodruff: but do you thatnk the investn is warranted? >> the investigate may have been warranted at one time. i think it would be ia good a to let it run its course, whatever that course is. c thrse is not going to involve charges against the president, at most it will involve a report that may then ouse of to the h representatives and they will make of it what they will, but the question is whether it will include any information that suggests the president committed high crimes andisdemeanors and, so far, i haven't seen it. >> woodruff: michael mukasey, former attorney general of the united states. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: >> woodruff: let's take a closer look now at the political fallout of michael cohen's
accusations against the president and how lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are responding. we begin with the de point of view. mark warner of virginia is the senate intelligence committee's vi chairman. senator warner, welcome back to the program. >> thank you. >> woodruff: so president trump is repeating today that neither one of these velopments yesterday had anything to do with the mueller russia investigation. what is your read on the guilty plea and verdict yesterday? >> well, let's look -- take lo step back an at what we've seen in the last 24 hours. the president's campaign manager guilty of ight serious fennelies felonies, po ytentialy rs in jail, the president's long-time fixer guilty. comes on the national security advisor pleading guilty, 30 other indictmen from the mueller investigation, five other guilty pleas, the president's attorney general
having to recuse himself. this president tries to, in a sense, live in an alternative world where the facts matter but the real facts are closing in. in the case of mr. cohen, mr. cohen's guilty plea where he seems to have indicted the president in terms of a campaign violation, i'll let other lawyers make the judgment on that, but whati find very interesting for mr. cohen is his williness, i understand, to testify before mr. mueller, and i hear secondhand that he may be will testify before our committee about things that would be of interest toue mer. that, by its nature, might be in terms of the ties to the russian investigation, whether trump knew about the hacking of the e-mails, was willing to coordinate on threlease of those e-mails. we do know that the intelligence community has assumed that not only did the russians intervene but intervened to help trump a hurt clinton. i'm interested in what mr. cohen has to say about thoseti
acti as well as we have a lot of remaining questions about mr. cohen's involvement in a proposed trump twer moscow where candidly our investigatiot had to a certain point but we still have questions. >> woodruff: quickly, senator, i want to turn to another part of what michael cohen said and that is having to do with the payments to do women who to have had affairs with president trump, to keep them quiet. is that something -- and he said in court yesterday, mr. cohen did, that the candidate, clearly he's rerring to the president, directed lim him to do that is t something congress should look >> i think that would be something that doesn't fall within the mueller investigation or even within our russia collusion investigation, but anr candidate federal office, from the lowest level to the ghest level, knows tht you can't direct corporate payments, yocan't make rporate payments in federal election campaigns, you've got limits,
and if with what mr. cohen has said is true, i'll leave it to the auction lawyers but it shower would seem to me that would be a violation of the law. >> woodruff: finally and ocratic, some of your dem colleagues are saying that the brett kavanaugh confirmatn hearings should be postponed, given all. this they are refusing to meet with him where do you stand on that? >> i am still going to meet with mr. kavanaugh. i've got a lot of serious questions about his views on exthutive power. k no person is above the law, particularly mr. trump who is so willing to flout laws and truth at a drop of the hat. so i'm going to just go ahad and have that meeting with mr. cav pneuand, un-- kavanaugh, and, unfortunately, in rirms of the hs, the jury will set that time tiebl and have shown no willinto relax. >> woodruff: senator mark warner, thank you. >> woodruff: with a republican perspective joined by senator mike rounds of south dakota.
senator rounds, thank you for talking with us, again. looking at the events of the last 24, 28 hours, what is your sense of whether the president is any closer tsort of legal jeopardy? >> i don't think he's any closer to legal jeopardy right now. i think this has been an issue that's going to be in the press for an ex the tended period of time -- an extended period of time. the process in place now has to play out completely. mr. mueller needs to continue to finish out the work that he tarted, and, in the meantime, e congressional level, we're going to try to do our work here in d.c . and tryto focus on an approprtions bill. we're focusing on moving forward with the supreme court no, ma'am know and a numb of other items including a number of other nominaons that have to be completed. >> woodruff: there are two elements. i hear you, senator.at he same time, there are two elements that came out of the testimony yesterday and beyond that today from michael cohen,
very close to the president for years, his former personal attorney. as you know, he testified in federal court that the head ofa the can, clearly referring to the president, directed him to make payments toa woman to be quiet about an alleged affair. does this not at least raise questions if your mind? can you just go about your work and completely ignore that? >> we're not ignoring it, but we didn't exactly see it as news either because most of us hd recognized that the president, his attorneys earlier had inencated that there had b a direction on their part and had admitted earlier, had confirmed earlier that those payments had been made and that the president -- or that they had directed the payments be made. whether or not there's a violation of federal election law and so for will b determined by the appropriate sources, but most certainly it is a political issue anytime
somee is accused of improper activity, and that will be in the news and will be gmeth that we'll continue to talk about, but is it a distraction for us? the answer is yes, it is, but i don'think that it changes anything in terms of what we had expected to come out, based upon what the president -- or what his attorneys had already indicated was the case. >> woodruff: the psident, as you know, has had several different explanations for what happened. he said earlier this year he didn't know of any payments, then he acknowledged later that he did, and now there's a conflict between his version at mr. cohen's version. are you hearing from your constituents about this? >> you know, our constituents, for the most part, hveimply said they like the policies he's got. they think he is really seriously intent on trying to make things better here in the
country. they can appreciate some of the personal activity he most certainly has been involved with but think he's moving the country forward. but, once again, when yo talk to them personally, they disagree with his tweeting and in many cases with hat he h been involved with personally. but, once again, they like the policies and so forth, and they continue to support moving forward with the policies tat the president has suggested. >> woodruff: one other thing about mr. cohen. his attorney lanny davis telling us tonight and has told other news organizations that mr. cohen is preparedto testified to the robert mueller investigation, even to the congress, that he has no, ma'ams dge of what the president knew about russian attempts to interfere with the election. how much of a factor could that be? >> i'm not sut e whamr. cohen would testify to, although he's indicated he has items of interest that he would like to share and, most certainly,
mr. mueller has the opportunity to interview once again and to learn as much as he can. we want that process to contin on. that's the reason why you have the special prosecutor in the first place. what, at this time, we have not found that there has been an involvement in terms of the trump campaign with the russian governmeor any type of collusion, and i think that's what this special prosecutor was all about in thfirst place. so i think working our way through this process igood for country, working our way through the process, allow mr. mueller to complete liz work andke his report with whatever findings he has. that's what we expect him o do in the first place and continue to support at this time. >> woodruff: finally, quikly, senator, if you were able to give the president advice right now, what would it be? >> look, i think the presistnt ertainly has issues here he has to be able to sur share h the country. i think he cares deeply abo
what people think about him and i think he wants to do the right thing for the country. o rather than trying tgive the president advice, i would simply say that the people out there truly want to see him be successf and want to see him move forward and how he goes about doing that will determine whether or not he will be successful in the near future or not. >> woodruff: senator mikeso rounds oth dakota, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: and we'll be back shortly with the president of microsoft on the latest efforts by russia to hack the midterm election. but first, take a moment to heao from youl pbs station. it's a chance to offer your support, which helps keep programs like ours on the air.
>> woodruff: the hacking of the 2016 elections by the russians came as something of a surprise to many politicians, voters and the tech industry itself, which was clearly behind and lacking in its initial response. but now tech giants, senators and political campaigns areng sounhe alarm about the way foreign actors and governmentsli are spreadin and misinformation again. and as amna nawaz tehes us, some of efforts are aimed at the midterm elections, less than three months from now. it's the focus of this week's segment about the leedge of technogy. >> nawaz: there have been a series of findings on this front in just the past 48 hour
the very latest: the democratic national committee has reportedlysked the f.b.i. to investigate an attempt to hack its voter database.br let'k all of this down, starting with our own nick schifrin. so, nick, the d.n.c. hack, what do we know? the database had tens f millions of people in it. the attempted hack was by on unknown third matter and unsuccessful. the d.n.c. used the attempted hack to point out it wanted more security help from the trumpra adminion. that's two points. one the d.n.c. and othersed critiche administration for not providing enough security during the midterm ections and two the hacking intelligence operations, some of which we saw in 2016 have not stopped. >> and when we the talk about them, we talk abouthem in relation to russian efforts, but facebook last night shut down hundreds of fake accountsom originating from iran. >> some from iran, some from russia, and the ones from rusia are the same actors we saw in 2016 connected to russian
military intelligenc and they were trying to influence operations in syria andukraine two countries russia has interfered with militarily. but iran was the big one. 652 pages and accounts posing add news and civil society orgizations that were front for iranian hackers, groups andat media. like in 2,000, the goal was to sow discord and influence opinions twhat iran wants them to feel, to people in the u.s., the middle east, u.k. and africa. a few examples, a group calng itself the progressive front posted a fake photo of michelle obama with a sign an immigrant took job in apparent reference to melania trump.a oup called bernie-crats connecting bernie sanders to ghazi, and a notebook showing kim jong un embracing president trump, the suggestion apparently while president trump
was willing to talk aboutrt korean nuclear weapons he pulled out of the iran nuclear deal. wh cybersecurity experts aid today was bad actors, in this case iran, learn from other bad actors, so these are attempts that mimic suthccessful attempts russia had in 20166789 facebook says we're trying our best, improving security. on a call last night they said it's like finding needles in a haystack. mark zuckerbergis improving security every day. >> security is not something you ev fully solve. our adversaries is are sophisticated and we funding and we have to constantly improving. but the shift from reactivet o proactive detection is a big change and will make facebookfe for everyone over time. >> facebook is struggling with us and so is our government. what are we ing as a country not just to stop the behavior but to defend against the ts to? >> there's some defense. the trump administration says it is trying security but there is also
offense, especial when it comes a. rus trump administration imposed nearly 500 sanctions on russian people assian entities. yesterday, there were new sanctions, and in total experts say that, look, yesthis is having some effect, but the sanctions aren't strong enough to cripple russian economy, and, so, therefore, the russian economy will muddle along and so far no duisunit arond vladimir putin so therefore the sanctions are not changing russian behavior and therefo the russian influence operations will continue. >> nick schifrin, good to talk. thank you. >> nawaz: and speaking of russia, microsoft said yesterday that hackers linked to russian military intelligenc targeting a pair of conservative think tanks in the u.s. that had advocated for tougher policies against russia those russian-affiliated groups, known as fancybear, me apt28, or mes called strontium, created fake websites for the hudsonnstitute and the ternational republican institute, designed to lure in users, then steal th information. microsoft says there's no
evidence the hackers were successful. russian authorities denied any involvement with those attacks and i spoke with microsoft president brad smith yesterday. i began by asking him how confident he was of russia's involvement.xt we aremely confident and have no doubt in our minds that these b sites were set up by the group that you mentioned, it is a gro wdely associated with the russian government, it is the same group that hackedto .s. political candidates and campaigns and the democratia nationalrty in 2016. it is the same group that we saw hack into the campaigns or at least try to attack the campaigns of all of the french candidates for the predey last year. now this group is doing it again. it is, in our view, indisputably the same group. >> so why share all thein rmation about the efforts, about what you did to counteract them, why share all of thatbl
ly now? what do you see about the threat or the tactic that led you tooev bethere is something new or different you should share with everyone? >> i think we're at critical moment in time. we all know far more than we did two years ago about these new threats. we need to take thm seriously. when you think about what it takes to successfully defend democracy in the 21st century this is part of it. now we have new elections on our doorstep. we need to be prepared. we need to get ready. reneed to work -- we need to work as we now are with political campaigns across the country to better pro themselves against these kinds of threats. >> let me ask you about the way you were able to respond against this threat in this tance. you wait for the threat to present itself, detect it, hope you caught it early enough and then you shut it down. seems very reactive to the threats we know exist. but is there a more proactive thing you could be doing, more
efforts to stop the threats you don't know about yet? i think that's an extremely important point and that's why today we're ing two things. first, we're talking publicly about the work we did last week to addres, these web siut the other thing, in some ways, is far more sweeping, more proactive, it's more systematic, d thas a new initiative we call account guard, part of our defending democracy pro what we are saying is that we will reach out and work we've ricandidate and campaign at the federal, state and local level in the runup to these ele we will provide them at no extra cost. our most sophisticated threatte igence, work andda at that, we -- work and data, we will provide them with training, we need to get ahead of this or all we will be doing is playing defense. >> what abt with your peers? i wonder as you detect newre s and information how much detection and coordination is there with other companies like
yours? >> i think we've important progress over the last year and have more work ahead of us. the tech sector and especially the tech leaders have come together in new ways, we're sharing threat intelligence together. anlast december facebook microsoft acted together to disrupt the malware capability of the nine group that launched the worldwide wannacr attack. we're doing new things like that this year. i think we also need to collaborate with people more clely in government. we're interested in that. i think people in washington ari interestthat. in essence, this is a time when we have a lot of differences i the country. there is always a lot of differences between nmpetitors. d to set aside enough of our differences to work together to do what ites tako secure our democracy from these kinds of thr >> president of microsoft brad smith, if you fo thank you for . >> thank you. >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight.
for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and see you soon. aj >> funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> consumer cellular believes that wireless plans should reflect the amount of talk, text and data that you use. we offer a variety of no- ntract wireless plans fo people who use their phone a little, a lot, or anything in between. to learn more, go to consumercellular.tv >> babbel. a language app that teaches real-life conversations in a new language. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
narrator: it's an animal you can't help butook up to. but what do we really know about giraffes? somehow, these gentle giants have been overlooked. but not by one man. dr. julian fennessy knows giraffes better than anyone. and what julian has recently discovered is truly alarming. julian: this silent extinction, i'm absolutely amazed that no one haa clue. narrator: in an urgent effort to help, julian will travel across africa, from namibia to the dangerous border of ethiopia and south sudan, and on into uganda to launch a daring rescue mission with a determined team. adiokan: giraffe is very beautiful.