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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  May 9, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT

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had business before the federal government? >> i haven't heard the president express any specific concerns about that. >> sarah, do you believe that michael cohen was ever in any way qualified to buy insights into this administration? >> i'm not going to get into somebody else's qualifications. that's something an independent company that hires an individual would have to make that determination, not me. >> let me ask you this, because we know that michael cohen received millions of dollars apparently pedaling the insights he said he could provide into this administration, to america's largest corporations. is the president in any way embarrassed or ashamed of that? because it seems to be the definition of swampy behavior. >> i think that would be up to those individuals who make the decision to hire someone. just the same way that the companies that you work for make the decision to determine whether or not they think that you're qualified to serve in a position. that's the decision of an independent company and has nothing to do with the white house. margaret. >> thanks, sarah.
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i'm happy to take the answer from the private counsel also, but i made efforts. i'll pose it publicly. if you can address it, i'd appreciate it. do you know whether mr. cohen ever approached the white house as a representative of any of those companies, whether the president was aware of the payments, or whether he was aware that mr. cohen was marketing himself? >> i'm not aware. again, i would refer you to the outside counsel. kristen. >> thank you, sarah. the president promised to drain the swamp. does he feel it's appropriate that michael cohen, his personal attorney, was selling access to him? >> again, i'm not going to weigh into this. that's a determination that individual companies have to make and i haven't spoken with the president. >> sarah, based on what you know -- you're the press secretary. you're standing there at the podium. based on what you know that's been revealed in the past 24 hours, does the president think it was appropriate his personal attorney -- given that he was to drain the swamp? >> we are not engaging in this
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at all and i would refer you to outside counsel for anything that has anything to do with michael cohen or -- sorry, kristen, i gave you a couple. >> has the president taken any action during his administration to benefit novartis, at&t or air space in >> not that i'm aware. >> they said they would pursue a nuclear weapons program if iran were to pursue nuclear weapons. would they have the administration -- >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. we're monitoring sarah huckabee sanders and we'll bring you anything you need to know. but today we are focused on this question. what is bob mueller up to? that's a question that even the president can't answer these days. but today we have one of the first known intersections between the questions that bob mueller is asking and the case involving the porn star. stormy daniels' attorney michael avenatti claiming donald trump's personal attorney michael cohen who is under scrutiny by special counsel bob mueller has ties to a russian oligarch. of course he does. according to avenatti, quote,
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cohen received $500,000 from a company controlled by russian oligarch victor -- i may mix that up because i don't speak russian, but i should. deposited into an account for a company also used to payoff the adult film actress. one of russia's rich est tycoons revealing he's been questioned by robert mueller in connection with election meddling and he was sanctioned by the trump administration last month. but his alleged payment to cohen wasn't the only suspicious transaction avenatti says he uncovered. he also details other transactions he says are suspicious, including deposits from drug giant novartis, the state-run korea aerospace industries, and at&t. a source close to the president told me today, quote, was cohen selling access to the president? sure he was. but why would special counsel bob mueller care about it? the washington post adding to the picture with this reporting. quote, special counsel robert s. mueller's team sought information last november from
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novartis, a major pharmaceutical company that paid a company created by president trump's lawyer, the drug company said wednesday. the interest by mueller who was investigating russia's interference in the 2016 election indicates that the special counsel is scrutinizing clients that paid michael cohen while he served as trump's personal attorney. now, what's interesting here is that everything unrelated to bob mueller's russia probe has been referred to the southern district of new york before that dramatic raid of cohen's homes and offices a couple weeks ago. the mere fact that bob mueller questioned the drug company about retaining cohen suggests that mueller's interest in cohen is around the central question of ties between russia and donald trump's businesses and associates. "new york times" pulling the whole story together this way. quote, the times' findings and mr. avenatti's report offer the most detailed picture yet on mr. cohen's business dealings and the financial entanglements
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in the run up to the election and its after malgt. here to help us unpack the day's developments from the "the new york times," jim, one of the reporters by line on the stories we quoted, bob mueller, cohen and the cash connection. frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director for counter intelligence and msnbc national security analyst. and betsy woodruff, politics reporter for "the daily beast" and an msnbc contributor. jim, let me start with you and let me have you take me through two things. one, your reporting on avenatti's report that he released last night, and you point out very high in the story that "the new york times" went about corroborating and verifying this information on your own. how did you do that and why did you do that? >> well, if you see, we cited a mix of interviews and e-mail and some financial records and, you know, this was a very detailed dossier that mr. avenatti put out. and as you see, it's not just
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"the new york times" confirming it. it's everybody who was cited in that report has said, yes, we paid money to this company, heretofore known as stormy daniels' payment company. >> right. >> and we'll explain why and they explain they're not calling it access. they're saying they needed his help on various matters before the new incoming administration. >> frank, you have some thoughts about how these two intersect. and i think a lot of folks have been wondering for a long time where the porn star story line intersects with the collusion investigation. and i think you understand we might be nearing that point. >> yeah, i think we're beginning to get much closer to what collusion looks like and really remembering the core mission of the special counsel, which was to explore the degree to which foreign powers are influencing the campaign, and now the presidency. so, there's a couple of reasons why mueller would be interested in what seemingly seems to be
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outside of his initial scope. the first reason that he's even questioning novartis or asking for documents from novartis or perhaps even at&t is because he wants to establish a pattern. and if the pattern is that michael cohen acts on behalf of the president, pays money to stormy daniels, sells access to the president on behalf of -- for at&t and/or novartis, then he'll do it for the russians. so, you establish a pattern of activity. secondly, he's simply trying to pressure cohen and build up charges that will cause cohen to flip. what might those charges be? we may be seeing an old-fashioned public corruption case breaking out here in the middle afco lugs investigation. if you're establishing a quid pro quo, promising official acts to companies like at&t and novartis, and if indeed the president knows about it, we've got a stand-up public corruption case and cohen is facing even more trouble than he was facing 48 hours ago. >> you also describe bob mueller
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as an epidemiologist. explain. >> so, i've used this kind of mantra and analogy before and i think it's continuing on with cohen. so, an epidemiologist searches for the origin of an infection, right? we've caught the russian infection. somewhere along the line the campaign, trump, the presidency, those around him caught a russian infection. if you're searching for the vectors by which it happened, we already know and believe that manafort was clearly a vector for russian activity. now it's appearing more than ever that cohen himself, as close to the president as you can get, is a vector for russian collusion, russian influence, russian money, and mueller is focusing like a laser on that. >> betsy, nbc news has reported and jim's piece covers this as well, that michael cohen was promising access after the trump election. now, i'm sure he wasn't the only one, but it is this intersection of to whom he promised access that leaves it as one of these
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stories that live at the intersection of the stormy daniels story and the bob mueller story. can you talk about just how long bob mueller has been following the money and how little we really know about all the places that may have taken him? >> we found out about the money trail last august, nearly a year ago. i reported then mueller had been working with investigators from the irs's elite criminal investigations unit. the only thing those investigators do is follow the money. they don't do anything else. the fact that mueller was working with those guys was the hardest evidence to date that he was deeply interested in the financial side of this investigation. at the time it's important and it's still important. mueller's mandate doesn't talk about finance. it talks about russia and the kremlin. it doesn't zero in on the money side. however, from jump street, we know that mueller knew that the financial side of this was going to be absolutely vital to making sense of the whole story. he's following the money and that's why we've ended up where
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we are today. >> jim, take us through more of your reporting. you go through these intersections that we're talking about, the mueller investigation into financial ties, your paper has done a lot of reporting on the subpoenas that went to the trump organization, on mueller's interest in eventually talking to mr. cohen if he hasn't done so already. just talk about what you were able to isolate in terms of building on what mr. avenatti put out last night in your piece today. >> well, i think what's really being isolated here is this shell company, essential consultants llc. there was a great amount of surprise in my newsroom and certainly it seems now everywhere that this, again, it is a limited liability corporation created in delaware. it is seemingly to hide an initial payment to cover up potentially damaging information during a campaign that will be litigated. and as rudolph giuliani, the
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president's new lawyer said, there are personal reasons to cover that up. this company then becomes this pass through, or at least its own sort of consulting company for a company tied to a russian oligarch, to at&t, to a state-owned south korean aerospace company, boggles the mind it was all being used out of this one shell company. but, you know, we wrote, as you quoted at the top of the show, this is the most detailed picture to date. but it raises far more questions than it answers. it's more information. but we have to get to the bottom of what all these payments are about. we're now getting these corporate p.r. statements. but we don't know the full story on any of this, especially regarding the company columbus nova that is related to this russian oligarch. >> so, frank, jim used the word dossier to describe avenatti's report. there's another dossier in recent history. and if you take the salacious stuff out of it, the dossier
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compiled by christopher steele, not a single piece of it has been publicly proven to have been false was largely about this very topic we've been talking about for 11 minutes now, following the money, trying to connect russian money to the trump orbit. this seems like a pretty pivotal new point. if you could put a finer point on it for us. why would bob mueller want to talk to novartis? >> so, look, you're right about the dossier. not only has it not been proven wrong, it's actually being confirmed. let's think about what we've already seen bob mueller do which is indict 13 russians for the social media propaganda project they were subsidizing and running ostensibly for the russian intelligence services. so, this russian oligarch we know has already been questioned at a new york airport by the fbi is part of an m.o. we've already seen play out. that is that he represents potentially putin. they are taking care of their candidate trump. and the money is flowing from him into this company that seems
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to exist for nothing but russian oligarchs. now, with regard to novartis, we could have -- it's a foreign-based company. it's a u.s.-based portion that allegedly provided money for access or enlightenment on the new administration. mueller cares about that because it's a further charge against cohen that could be paying for quid pro quo, promising official action from the president. it could also be a foreign corrupt practices act charge. it could show that pattern of activity that i take money from all comers and promise things for the president or take care of things for the president. money laundering, bank fraud, foreign governments, south korean subsidized company. all of that of interest to jamb up cohen to establish what the president knew and promised for others and show a pattern of activity. >> so, frank, let's hit pause on some of these. there is so much in that one answer. but andrew weissmann, who is one of bob mueller's investigators, has a lot of experience -- i believe he was one of the investigators involved in the
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enron case. where could the president be vulnerable in the kind of cases that andrew weissmann has brought before? you just ticked off working as a foreign agent. i understand that's one of the things that paul manafort was charged with, crimes, violations there. what other sorts of criminal activity do you think bob mueller is looking at and which ones do you think are looming large for the president, which ones are looming large based on this new reporting from mr. cohen potentially? >> so, it's all about the cliche we keep hearing, what did the president know, and when did he know it. so, imagine this possibility -- and it's possibility at this point -- that the president understood that his women problems were being handled by cohen because money was being provided by russians to help handle it. that's earth shattering in terms of discovering why the president acts the way he does with russia, why he seems so beholden and indebted to russia, and that
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could help explain why we're seeing that behavior. what's criminal about that? well, you've got an emoluments clause problem. if money is flowing either during or after the campaign because of something that developed during the campaign that needed to be handled, you've got an emoluments clause problem. you could have foreign corrupt practices act. if the president knew a sham corporation, a delaware corporation had been set up for a fictitious purpose to handle payments to a porn star and he knew about that, he's an accessory after the fact or he's a coconspirator with cohen in bank fraud and money laundering. the issues continue to pile up. >> do the issues render it fantasy that the president will ever actually sit down with bob mueller who obviously knows -- no offense, but probably even more than what you just ticked off as potentially incriminating evidence he already has his hands on? >> what we've learned from avenatti makes it far less likely that the president is ever going to sit down with
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mueller. there is far too much incriminating information out there to jamb him up. >> betsy, you were nodding. >> i agree with that. i think as every day passes it becomes less and less likely the president will consent to sitting down with an interview with mueller. part of the reason giuliani has done this flamboyant media effort over the last few weeks is because he is trying to shift this from being a legal question to a political and public affairs question, and he's trying to persuade the american people as to why ultimately the president probably won't sit down for an interview with mueller. he's trying to undermine the mueller probe to the greatest degree possible. i spoke with giuliani last week he went so far as to compare mueller to storm troopers to me. that's the type of rhetoric we're hearing from the president's personal outside lawyer, the lawyer sarah sanders refers reporters to every day. they are going after mueller and trying to lay the groundwork to not have that interview happen. >> i'm going to give jim the last word, put your media hat on. is there anything weird about the attorney representing a porn
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star feeding information like this, which having worked on ka campaigns, reads like an op-ed and journalists having to go out and confirm it, is there anything outside -- is that another norm being violate the or is that standard operating procedure in your newsroom yesterday? >> it might not be -- well, if the information being put out is true and it's -- it answers questions or, you know, fills in some blanks, then that is what it is, but nothing involving this case from the very start has been standard operating procedure. it's all uncharted waters. but, you know, sail through it we must. >> great way to put it. jim and frank, thank you so much for starting us off. when we come back, michael cohen in a vice. we'll take you inside the new normal for the president's former fixer, the man now in the middle of multiple federal investigations. also ahead, running on north korea, that's what we hear the president is planning on to keep the house and senate in the midterms and avoid impeachment, but will it work?
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michael, how are you doing today? >> doing great, thank you. >> any comment about michael avenatti, any response? any response to avenatti? >> his document is inaccurate. >> how do you feel about you may have changed an election? >> wow, michael cohen completely dismissing michael avenatti's report. we learned that cohen's shell company, essential consultants llc received payments from several businesses. in fact, a senior official inside one of those companies just told nbc news, cohen
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reached out to them shortly after the election, quote, promising access to the new add. donny deutsche is here, msnbc contributor charlie sykes, contributing editor for the weekly standard. steve schmidt is also back with us. he's in washington today. donny, let me start with you. you're michael cohen's friend. how is he doing? >> he's okay. i spent an hour with him yesterday and spoke to him today. we have to remind ourselves a few things. he has not been charged with anything. michael said as far as avenatti's document, a couple things. not only are therein acsizz, there are inconsistencies. he brings up a very interesting point. is he looking for a g machine man's badge? all this avenatti as it relates to cohen, he is in a civil contract suit with cohen. all this other cloak and dagger stuff, he's acting a bit out of bounds as far as where his path would normally take him. so, that was michael's point of view. michael is okay. he's more worried about his family than anything else.
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we forget when somebody is going through this they're a person and they have children and their children are affected. he told me his daughter was graduating college looking for a job. that's what he's concerned about. whatever happens with this, he's more concerned about his kids and his wife and that's where people are looking out. he's waiting to tell the story. >> i know you're not his spokesperson. let me push back on a couple of those points. one, avenatti's report wasn't taken at face value. that's why i asked jim route enberg. they went out and corroborated it. half a dozen news organizations including yours corroborated. there were records that prove -- >> we will let michael answer that. >> and the other -- is he preparing for the worst? is he prepared to do a deal with prosecutors? >> look, i will answer it this way. i think you have to put yourself in his shoes. and i think it looks like there is a storm coming to him. it looks like there is a tsunami coming at him. and, look, all that michael cohen has been doing the years for donald trump, this is not
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michael cohen, inc., i think he is going to do what is best for him and his family. he has been loyal to the president more than anybody else can be loyal. i think at this point it's clear the president has kind of hung him out to dry. rudy giuliani has been going on his magical mystery tour looking like a buffoon and sending as many signals as possible. michael will do what is' best for him, his wife, his children, you can read that anyway you want. >> let me read some reporting to you, betsy. vanity fair, emily jane fox who knows cohen as well. would you agree? >> yes. >> cohen for his part is mostly distraught as donny said on the impact on his family. i live for my wife and kids, he tells friends. i die for my wife and kids and this is ruining their lives. cohen himself is grappling with the fact that in his early 50s his life and his business will never be the same, he is isolated from the people in washington around trump who have been treating him as though he is disposable. hearing that a lot these days. i'm sitting here in this nightmare he has told people.
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this does not sound like someone who has been treated in a manner that when he stares at the option of not seeing his wife and kids for a long time, leaving them in terrible financial duress, he's going to -- if he stands at a fork in the road and the possibility of going to jail -- >> those who are worried about their family members are people who -- >> let's talk about mike flynn. >> reportedly is cooperating, in part because -- this is reported -- the deal he got could have shielded his son -- who has a very small child from a tougher outcome. and additionally rick gates. >> and van der swan. >> all these people have additional vulnerabilities, wrong word to use. but federal prosecutors since time immemorial have found what people care about the most and
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using those things to get people to cooperate. it's something that makes many civil rights advocates uncomfortable. it's something that it's not the prettiest side of how the federal government prosecutes and goes after people who it considers to be in its sights. in the case of michael cohen, the fact he's bringing up his family strikes me as something that is quite significant. it's him saying this isn't just about him. this isn't just about work or money or fame. the people who are closest to him are being impacted by this and that's telling. >> he's not a victim, though. let's be honest about it. michael cohen made a series of choices. he's sleazy, he's sloppy and he's in a lot of trouble. he might be at the center of what you described before, you know, as not just a web of a conspiracy in1r068ing the preside -- involving the president of the united states, it might be old-fashioned corruption. this is a guy who chose this life. and i think -- i think it's really important. >> let me add to your point. frank figliuzzi just described his criminal liability.
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is mueller looking at cohen as an unregistered foreign agent, unregistered lobbyist? these are the best case scenarios. talk about pay to play, talk about corruption. >> this is a guy who is a fixer who may have been selling influence, who may have been threatening people not to come forward. obviously he is a person and i think that is always important to remember. but, you know, i do think it is also important, you know, not to lose sight of the perspective that basically we're looking at something that actually looks more like a crime family than a traditional political story line. >> go ahead, donny. >> i guess the point is at the end of the day, he's his lawyer. and we've still got to go to the source. this comes back to donald trump, the donald trump organization. michael cohen was not getting enriched by these things. maybe there were these pay for play things. at the end of the day this is not about michael cohen. this is about donald j. trump, president of the united states. this is going to be what i said from the beginning, a year and a half ago, russian money laundering, period. >> this is about the
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extraordinary power the federal government has over people's lives. we focus on it when it's wealthy white people who are famous. that's when we worry about the federal government in the lives of people in the criminal justice system. all the stems michael cohen is facing, all the pressure, the universe that is coming down on him right now via bob mueller, that is something that disproportionately in this country gets faced by poor people, people of color, black people, hispanic people. we forget about that. >> donny humanized that for us. it's like tony soprano. we feel bad we know what he's going through. he did some things highly unethical, at worst, involved in potential crimes like money laundering. jump in, steve, on the news of the day. the avenatti report, about bob mueller's interest in the work that michael cohen was doing for international companies as well as the conversation we've been
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having about the -- we don't even know that mr. cohen will have an opportunity to flip. but the choice he would have to make if he did. >> well, nicolle, if we look back to the chance ts of lock h up at the republican convention, at the time i said this is banana republicanism. we are a country of laws and in the united states of america, everybody has a presumption of innocence. and that includes michael cohen who has not been charged, and certainly has not been convicted of anything. the conversation, though, that we're having, frankly i'm completely indifferent to whether he is a good dad, whether he's a good husband, he may be, he may not be. my rooting interest here is for the united states of america. i'm looking at this from a prism not about whether michael cohen loves his wife or not, but from the perspective of someone who loves america. and he is part of a group of people, a kabal that are doing
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real damage to the country. now, i think about like being on the ocean on a boat surrounded by water. everywhere you look you see water. in the same way, everywhere you look around this administration you see unfathomable corruption. and when you look at the michael cohen story that was laid out in the long expose in "the new york times," our frai'll refrain frog legal analysis, but from the perspective of someone who grew up in new jersey, this guy is mobbed up as maury was from good fellas. the corruption is everywhere. when you see companies like novartis and at&t, what you're seeing is the fundamental corruption of the american political system. you're seeing how much -- how deep, how rancid the swamp
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really is and how much worse it is since trump took office. and the last thing. whether it's michael flynn sitting on the inaugural dais taking a cell phone call trying to broker a self-interested deal with actors in russia on a nuclear energy issue, it's where was anybody upon the moment that donald trump's elected surprisingly, and he's about to assume the awesome privilege, the awesome powers of the american presidency, show me the person around him, around his orbit that was focused on how do we make this country better, stronger, how do we keep faith with our obligation to the generation of americans yet born? every one of these people is a pig in a trough. their only thought wasn't for the country, wasn't for making it stronger. it was about how much money can we make, and it is disgusting. >> steve -- >> go ahead, donnie. >> obviously this president never thought about public service.
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we know that. the point i want to make about michael is i would, to me, at&t, one of the largest corporations in the world who is going through a merger trial case or a justice -- >> process. >> -- process, and the president of the united states, those are the people -- once again, michael cohen is a lawyer. i'm not defending what michael cohen did or didn't do. it is easy for us to get excited about michael cohen right now, where i would, to me -- at the end of the day if michael is guilty of what he did, he's guilty of what he did. the things that make us, as you said, as frighteningly weak or as vulnerable -- put us in a dangerous situation are not the attorneys, it's the potus and it's the corporations. and that to me is really where our focus needs to be. >> let me play mommy and read a statement from at&t. they put out an e-mail to their employees in response to this, talking about the media accounts about their relationship with michael cohen. they say he was one of the consultants they hired. he did no legal or lobbying work
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for us. the contract expired in december 2017. steve, legalit me ask you to gis a quick last word on the idea of the indifference of the republican party and seemingly the public. donald trump's poll numbers are ticking up, everything you describe i agree with. >> at the end of the day there is a lot of information out there. donald trump's numbers continue to be mired near record lows for a president this early in his term. we do know looking at the special election returns, they seem to indicate a growing public disgust and a repudiation of trumpism that can be expected to be delivered in november. but whether the public is reacting to it or not is besides the point. the corruption is unacceptable. this is government of the people by the people for the people. and the corruption that we're seeing is not normal in this country. it couldn't be more abnormal. >> and we're keeping names of
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those who are normalizing it. it's not steve schmidt. when we come back, donald trump makes it explicitly clear his definition of fake news has nothing, nothing to do with objective truths. ♪ oh, look... another anti-wrinkle cream in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® works in just one week. with the fastest retinol formula available. it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and wrinkles. one week? that definitely works! rapid wrinkle repair®. and for dark spots, rapid tone repair. neutrogena®. see what's possible. the sun goes down. you did a million things for your family today. but speaking to pnc to help handle all your investments was a very important million and one. pnc. make today the day.
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he defended women's healthcare, banned military-style assault weapons, banned workplace discrimination, and more. antonio for governor. it will be i think a very special time. nobody thought this was going to happen. if it did, it would be years or decades frankly. nobody thought this was going to happen. and i appreciate kim jong-un doing this. we picked a time, we picked a place for the meeting or summit as you like to call it, and i think it will be very successful. but as i always say, who knows, who knows what's going to happen. >> who knows. news today of the release of three americans held in north korea was a clear, clean case of good news. but a source close to the president tells me that the president's banking on his as
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yet unrealized accomplishment of getting north korea to give up their nukes is his midterm strategy. with so much riding on the president's big bet, nothing short of the control of the house and senate and possibly his own impeachment proceedings, you'd think the president would try a little harder to stay on message on a day like today. a glance of his twitter feed showed this. the fake news is working over time, just reported that despite tremendous success we're having with the economy and all things else, 919% of the network news about me is negative. fake. why do we work so 45rd in working with the media when it is corrupt? take away credentials? the president's deep inner conflict between letting a d.c. e -- decent news cycle just happen, the washington post describes it in a more perilous pattern for this president. his ego as foreign policy driver. quote, again and again independent reporting has revealed when the decision
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making rubber hits the road that is when the actual process kicks in and of weighing pros and cons and complexities and contingencies for the country, other factors have intruded. trump's rage over something else, his desire to please his base. his fear of appearing weak, ms. megalow mania, at what point has his decision making become detached from any meaningful effort to act in what is good for the country? washington post white house bureau chief phil rucker joins us for this. no one bet tore answer that question. phil rucker, how often have you seen this president step in the middle of his own good news cycle? >> all the time, nicolle. we'll see if it happens here today. clearly he feels good about the release of these prisoners. i think all americans do. but what you were just saying is absolutely right. there is a calculation that these foreign policy breakthroughs might be able to help him with his political standing here at home heading into the midterm elections.
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i just wrote a story about this and described it as sort of a spritz of febreeze. it's not going to last long, it will create good will and help people ee val witness him differently. >> your report sergio garcia much more in-depth than mine. i hear a similar account he's asking friends and outside advisors if he does a deal with north korea, will that be enough to keep the house and the senate. >> yeah, and it might not be enough. it probably won't be enough frankly. the elections a long time away. certainly voters are going to make decisions based on foreign policy, but they're going to make decisions on the economy and whether they feel, you know, this president is focused on them and whether frankly they've had enough of the chaos here in washington and within this administration. >> charlie? >> well, two things. number one is it's very good news americans have been released. on the other hand, they were taken prisoner as hostages to be used as a bargaining chip in
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this particular way. also the strategy where he's thinking this is how he saves himself during the midterms, doesn't that undermine his negotiating strategy? because in order to be successful, right, he has to have the ability to walk away if he's not getting a good deal. if the north koreans understand they got him because this is what he is banking on, that he has invested not just his ego, his considerable ego, but also his political fate on a successful negotiation, then he's given up the negotiating leverage that he will need to sit down wherever that summit takes place. >> steve, it's a superb point. it makes me wonder what's more stupid, thinking that north korea is a winning midterm strategy, or thinking that telling people that that is your midterm strategy is a good idea. >> well, let's stop for a second and think about what we're talking about here. the north korean regime is a slave regime. millions of people are held in captivity. millions in slave labor camps.
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it it's a tyranny cal regime. it is used to target american cities. the sole focus of the president of the united states in dealing with a real threat to this country should be the security of the united states of america and the people. electoral considerations should have nothing to do with it. it again speaks to this president's genetic incapacity because of his narcissism, because of his titanic ego to put the american people first, to put the country first, every time it's about donald trump's self-interest. you see this all around. from the pigs at the trough enriching themselves financially to the electoral calculation, to this president, it's all a game. it's all a reality show. it's a script for tomorrow's episode. but the real possibility is is that we could see a bad deal
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that threatens not just the security of this country, but the security of this region because of the constant inept tudev and incompetence we've seen across the depth and the breadth of the administration. so that our north korea strategy is somehow tied to his perilous midterm electoral strategy is another moment of disgrace for this administration. >> steve -- i said this when he started the trade war with china. what scares me about this president obviously a denuclearized north korea is a positive thing, but what is he capable of for just his own narcissistic -- is he capable of taking us to war? the mueller thing heats up. as that gets hotter and hotter, what decisions is he capable of making at the expense of millions of lives -- i mean, that desperate. hand on the button, whatever it is. and the answer is he's capable of anything. >> do you remember when ronald reagan walked away from a deal with gorbachev right before the
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$1986 midterm election? republicans got hammered in that election. but ronald reagan was willing to walk away rather than give up star wars right before that election. would donald trump be willing to do that if he's thinking he really wants a win? >> i want to bring phil rucker in because i don't want to gloss over what the president did in a tweet this morning. do his 49 million viewers, he equated negative news coverage with fake news. and we should never just let that go. i want to give you a chance to 1307bd respond to that, phil rucker. >> it was pretty extraordinary. he said in plain writing in that tweet what we've all assumed, which is that his term fake news really just means negative news or news i don't like, or news that i think is bad about me. and he just spelled it out there, that fake means negative. and the trouble is there's actually real fake news, you know. there are stories being perpetrated by russian bots that are just flat out fake and that's different than the negative coverage or frankly, i would call it, the appropriate
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scrutiny on the decisions that the white house makes and that the actions of the president that we in the news media do every day. >> do you want to jump in? >> let's not forget we have to take these threats quite seriously. i was on one of the outlets blacklisted during the campaign. i had to wait three hours to get into the events to cover them specifically because of the way my outlet covered trump's campaign. they were upset about negative coverage. they took steps to punish reporters. this is not hypothetical. >> this is not how it works in america. this is another nod to his favorite autocratic leaders. thanks to phil rucker, donny deutsche, charlie schmidt, steve schmidt. up next, michael avenatti joins us on set. dear great-great grandfather,
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so allstate is giving us money back on our bill. well, that seems fair. we didn't use it. wish we got money back on gym memberships. get money back hilarious. with claim-free rewards. switching to allstate is worth it. we're back with stormy daniels' attorney michael avenatti who last night put out an explosive report detailing suspicious payments to trump's personal attorney connected to
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powerful russian oligarch with close ties to vladimir putin. how did you get your hands on this material? >> like any good journalist or attorney we're not going to disclose our sources or work product. >> how does it relate to the two cases you represent stormy daniels in the defamation case and the effort to get her out of the nda? >> as it relates to the case concerning the nda, this is the same bank account the $130,000 to my client emanated from. the $130,000 was wired out of that account at first republic bank to my client. these subsequent financial transactions that we detailed in the report flowed through that account, that same account that was established about two weeks or actually less than that, only a few days before the $130,000 payment to our client. >> so, it is of interest to you where the money originated from because it was one of your original questions tying this back to the president? >> not only where it originated from, but also who reimbursed it, whether the president knew about it, what he knew about it, when he knew about it.
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>> so, you had some harsh words for the media. i want to put them up on the screen, let you air it. we have ten minutes. why is no media outlet doing a story on the refusal the refusa treasury department to release to the public the three suspicious activity reports, called sars that are filed regarding the bank account? this requires immediate attention now. the sars should be released did you see the sars. >> here's the bottom line, there is three suspicious activity reports that were filed based on our understanding with the treasury department concerning this first republic bank account held by michael cohen in the name of the central consultants llc. we had a story in january or february of this year. >> we will put that up. the bank flagged for the treasury department is suspicious -- there it is. >> that's right. >> i'm higher than you. i'm going the drop down.
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i'm looking down. that's not right. >> i will try to sit up straighter. the report issued and as of that article, and as of that article michael cohen certainly know that these sars had been filed or a sar had been filed. usually sars are kept confidential because they don't want the target to know. michael cohen knew since the first week in march. there is no reason why these documents sitting a the u.s. treasury shouldn't be released to the american people. sars are reports that are prepared by bank and they are submitted to treasury. these were prepared by the bank, first republic bank after an investigation. normally they have some kind of narration reling to what happened relating to one or more financial transactions. why -- why doesn't treasury release these documents? the american people should look at them. if there is nothing nefarious in them or nothing suspicious or
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nothing untoward then there is nothing to worry about. firm, knick coal, in addition michael cohen should release the bank statements from october of '16 through april of this year. he should release the statements now and then if there is nothing in there, game over. >> it sounds like you have seen these, the sars. the only people who would have them would be the treasury deputy and the financial institutions. >> i'm not going to get into what we've seen or not. >> you functioning as a journalist willing to go to jail to protect your sources. >> we have what's called the attorney work product. you have the law that allows to you protect sources. they are very similar. so we are not going to disclose what information we have or don't have relating to these actions. what we do know is other media sources have confirmed the veracity or truthfulness of the statements contained -- >> every one of them has confirmed what you have. >> correct. >> there is some reporting suggesting there should be an
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investigation into who is leaking this information to you? i'm asking if that's something you are concerned about. >> i'm in the at all concerned. i'm more concerned about the public disclosure of the three sars, the public disclosure that should take place so the american people can no what was going on with this president and his right hand attorney. >> are you accusing the treasury department in being involved in a cover-up in not turning over the information? >> i don't understand why they won't turn over the information. the treasury secretary needs to get out in front of it. we have been asking for weeks. he needs to disclose the information to the american public period. >> one of the similarities and differences between you and bob mueller. one of the constant critiques of any special down is he will is mission creed. there are questions today in the water i'm sure you have heard them and fielded them in other interviews whether or not this is outside of your mission. can you say how this is essential to your mission talking about michael cohen's
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businesses? >> it goes to the purpose of this account. >> but why say it? i mean she got her $130,000? >> it goes right to -- i'm not confined by a mandate from congress relating to our business. >> did you bill stormy daniels for this work on the the report last night? >> i'm nottet getting into whether i billed stormy daniels. >> i'm trying to find out if it anything with the case. >> it goes to the credibility of individuals, michael cohen, mr. trump or mr. giuliani. it goes to the flow of the money. it goes to who reimbursed the money. whether it was the president or somebody else at the president's direction that he wanted to reimburse the $10,000 payment i think it's absolutely relevant. >> they have attacked your credibility and hers. so obviously credibility of all the actors has becoman signal. i want to ask you about jewel joule. we talked about this, but in light of your report last night i wonder if it has new significance.
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he used the word funneled in his interview with sean hannity. >> that's his word. >> let's watch it. >> it is not campaign money, no campaign finance violation. >> they funneled it through a law firm. >> funneled through a law firm, and then the president repaid night oh, i didn't know that he did. >> yep. >> they funneled it through russian oligarchs, it appears in your report. >> again, if it quacks like a duck and swims like a duck it's usually a duck. >> we started this show by wondering if there is overlap here. >> there is reporting from nbc relating to mueller's questioning of oligarch as well as statements from novartis concerning michael cohen soliciting funds and contracts from these entities promising access to the president. i think now we are going to have a whole additional front
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relating to what did the president know concerning michael cohen's slitstation? did he know michael cohen was selling access to the president into the highest office of the land? >> a senior official with the fbi, a former femme of the fbi says it raises all sorts of questions about collusion. it gets to the heart of the probe about collusion as well as variety and garden variety coverups and scandals of that nature. if you were asked to speak with bob mueller about either topic, the central questions based around russia or around the other bucket of issues as you are obviously in the business of gathering information on the people attacking you and your client would you cooperate with mr. mueller? >> of course. 100%. >> have you done so? >> i'm not going to get into whether or not we have talked. what i will say is we are cooperating with law enforcement and various parties in connection with this and we will continue to do so. >> thanks for coming and spend
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before we g. it's been exactly one year since jim comey was fired and exactly one year since this show came on the area. thank you to the amazing journalists and guest who fill up this table every day. thank you for watching. that does it for us. i will "mtp daily" starts right now. >> i was in your neck of the woods, beautiful northern california yesterday. >> isn't it nice. >> very nice. they love their warriors. >> we do. and we wouldn't and that's why i'm so tired. understand. >> are we going to have that thing again with the cavs. >> we are. i'm all lebron. >> get ready to go down. you are going down. >> my man crush has only gotten greater with lebron. i will admit it. >> mine is seven guys wide. >> fair enough. thank you. if it's wednesday, is bob mueller now following the money? tonight michael cohen's cash flow, and the russia connection. >> michael cohen appears to be selling access to

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