tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC May 9, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
they land in about 4.5 hours. for your michael avenatti interview. >> i was following in your footsteps trying to follow your lead for how to extract information from this man. >> we have double-teamed him, as has the world on this question of where did you get the information? and what strikes me as so interesting today, no reporters have caught up with that. there's no report in the "new york times," "the washington journal," "the washington post," no one has figured out where michael avenatti got all this banking information about michael cohen. >> and we've got little pieces of it and prospects of little piece of it. we have news organizations, including nbc news saying they too have seen financial documents that corroborate what michael avenatti reported p p we have these big companies corroborating what he reported saying yeah we paid that money to michael cohen.
now we have the treasury inspector general reportedly investigating to find out if somebody released suspicious reports from the banking sector and if that's the way he got this information. if that's the way he got it, and the news organizations got it, it might be a legal problem for whoever leaked that information in the first place. i got to think we'll figure it out, but not before we get more revelations about what michael cohen does for a living. >> i think michael cohen's lawyers might force michael avenatti to tell us, that's what they were asking for in court today. i was very pleased to see my math checkout because i had done this calculation about an hour before michael avenatti did it on your show where he pointed
out that the amount of -- the amounts that are in dispute in his reporting are $20,000 out of what he said was 3.5 million. he said that was 99.3% accurate. there's actually 4.5 million in the total flow we know about now. so that makes michael avenatti's number 99.6% accurate, which i had figured out all on my own before michael avenatti said that. >> it is an -- i mean, tactically it's an interesting thing to take a document that's been substantially admitted to, at&t and the company associated with the russian oligarch, saying yeah that's all true. so it's a tactically interesting move to say the part of it we have issue with is the $700 that went through the kenyan bank account. tactically it's interesting.
that will be the way the right and maybe cohen's lawyers in court seize on this document trying to discredit it. and it makes me all the more curious as to where the information came from. because clearly some of the information is definitely true and it m seems like some of it might not be true. it's weird to get a mixed bag of half true and half untrue information or 99% true and 1% untrue information. >> michael avenatti is clearly driving michael cohen's lawyers crazy because they rushed into court today with this document which basically said he's more than 99% right but we're really, really angry -- we're really angry about this less than 1% he got wrong and he should be slapped on the wrist for that and forced to reveal where he got that. that's an understandable pleading. i can understand legally why
they made that pleading, but they ran the risk, which they did, of completely confirming all of the big transactions in the bank records. >> and making that document and those allegations about michael cohen's business life part of that case. the only reason a document released by michael avenatti would end up in that case is because michael cohen's lawyers made it that way. the only hook they have have to go after avenatti with the judge is that avenatti sought at one point to join that case. he did not join that case. he's not associated with the case, he's not a party in the matter. yet they're asking the judge to reach out beyond the inl of the case to go after him on this. all they're doing is succeeding in moving these damning allegations into the center. >> these are the things when you talk to michael avenatti the errors that he forces them to make. that's what that pleading in federal court in new york looks
like to me. >> he's a sure footed man. >> thanks, lawrence. >> thanks, rachel. it's like every day since michael avenatti entered his life, a crazy day for michael cohen. >> mr. cohen -- >> how are you doing today? >> doing great. thank you. >> my comment about michael avenatti? in response? any response to avenatti? >> his document is inaccurate. >> how do you feel about you may have changed an election? >> people who've known michael cohen a long time tell me this is what he's always wanted. to be a celebrity. a celebrity in sunglasses surrounded by the paparazzi.
that's why he wanted to be in trump world. he wanted to be at least near a celebrity, donald trump. that's what people who knew him before he knew donald trump tell me about michael cohen. and so, the good news for michael cohen, is finally paparazzi are gathered outside his door. so he loves that part. that's why he walks you out of the hotel and says good morning to the awaiting cameras and when asked how is he, i'm great, as if he's a movie star on the oscar's red carpet. and for that second, michael cohen is standing on the tip of the highest peak he's ever been on in his life. way up there in the thinner air of his very own celebrity. and then, in the next second he's brought crashing back down to earth by the two words that have made him such a celebrity, michael avenatti. any comment about michael
avenatti? any response? and michael cohen, coming as close as he can to speaking grammatically correct english says, his documents is inaccurate. and for once michael cohen is right. the documents that stormy daniels' lawyer, michael avenatti presented to us on this program last night showing $4.5 million going into and out of the llc that michael cohen created in order to pay stormy daniels $130,000 to keep her quiet, those documents contain some minor inaccuracies that michael cohen has been owning up to as soon as they were discovered. sitting here last night michael avenatti described $4,425,033.46 that flowed through essential consultants l.l.c. and michael cohen's bank accounts.
the flow of that money contains possible inaccuracies about four transactions, amounting to $20,583. so that makes michael avenatti's document 99.6% accurate. one of the inaccuracies in michael avenatti's document was a wire transfer from kenya to michael cohen for $980, but it was not michael cohen, the man who has said he would take a bullet for donald trump. it was a 26--year-old israeli named michael cohen, who told nbc news, i am an aveonic technician in ll airlines. the 26-year-old michael cohen said he had no idea how the mixup could have occurred but
he's been getting lots of attention. my whole family was surprised. friends called me, it was a crazy day. it was a crazy day because of michael avenatti's 99.6% accuracy of the flows into the accounts of the man who has always called him donald trump's fixer. last night michael avenatti told us there were possibly more payments than he discovered and today that was proven true. michael cohen showed a farm -- pharmaceutical company. the company or michael cohen seemed intent on recording on something less than $100,000 a month. each payment was $99,980. all the companies involved with
michael cohen are now offering explanations of why they funneled massive amounts of money to with a man with no no skilled, a man who couldn't even successfully execute a pay to a porn star to stay quiet about the most embarrassing sex of her semi-public sex life. the corporate payments to michael cohen are the very definition of filling the swamp with money. the washington influence swamp that donald trump lied about to his voters when he promised to drain that swamp. at mntt paid michael cohen $50,000 at the beginning of the presidency in the hope that michael would convince the president to support at&t's merger with time warner.
at&t failed to get support for the merger. but who knows what else they got with their michael cohen money with regard to the myriad of regulations that affect their business. novartis tried to blame their former ceo last night but we learned much more about the novartis deal today. michael cohen reached out after the election and promised access to the new administration. novartis said they paid michael cohen $100,000 a month for advice on u.s. health care policy matters. and according to sources at the company, novartis had exactly one meeting with michael cohen three months into the deal. and by the end of that meeting, they realized they were wasting
their money. one un-named employee said, quote, they decided not to really engage cohen for any activities after that. the employee continued. rather than attempt to cancel the contract, the company allowed it to lapse early in 2018 and not run the risk of ticking off the president. it might have caused anger, this person said. if they cancelled that contract when they discovered that president trump's friend, michael cohen, was absolutely useless to them. new reporting in "the washington post" tonight quotes michael cohen as saying, i'm crushing it when all the money was pouring in. and now it is apparently crushing him. "the washington post" reports as he's facing mounting legal bills michael cohen refinanced his park avenue condominium in recent days. everyone tried to get the answer to my first question to michael avenatti last night which is how did he get this information
about money flowing to and from michael cohen? no reporters have figured it it out. but michael cohen's lawyers may have figured it out. in a letter to the judge in considering how to handle michael cohen's case, they said that, quote, michael avenatti appears to be in possession of some information from mr. cohen's actual bank records. he should be required to explain to this court how he came to possess and release this information. and we're going to be right back with more discussion of this with our panel. allergies with sinus congestion and pressure? you won't find relief here. go to the pharmacy counter for powerful claritin-d.
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nope! which is why i have xfinity xfi. it's super fast and you can control every device in the house. [ child offscreen ] hey! let's basement. and thanks to these xfi pods, the signal reaches down here, too. so sophie, i have an xfi password, and it's "daditude". simple. easy. awesome. xfinity. the future of awesome. he was hired for one reason and one reason only, and that was he was selling access to the highest office in the land. at best that's what he was doing. at best. and ultimately, robert mueller or myself or someone else will get to the bottom of exactly what he was selling, and perhaps more importantly, rachel, where did all of this money go? >> that was michael avenatti talking about michael cohen with rachel in the last hour. we're joined now by ron klain, former chief of staff and a former senior aid.
barbara mcquade, former federal prosecutor, and deanna fill la pain co, a form investigator. ron klain, the speculation continues of where michael avenatti got this information. there's one expert quoted in one report saying that this is the kind of information that could be obtained from one of those suspicious activity reports or from a series of suspicious activity reports about bank transactions but so far it's michael avenatti leading the way on this. >> it is. and, you know, he will, i imagine that judge wood will order him to disclose the source of this information and he'll have to do so. if indeed it did come from an illegally disclosed sar, the person who disclosed it will be in trouble. as you said earlier the fundamental point from the
broader perspective here is the information he put forward turned out to be 99.6% accurate. who could have imagined just a few days ago that the single least slimy transaction would be paying a former adult star $130,000 to be quiet about her affair with the president. what is piling up is a powerful tale of corruption and undisclosed payments. where they came from, particularly the payments from the russian oligarch, are troubling and there's a lot more to come out about that. >> the explanations from the companies about why they spent money with michael cohen vary in, i guess, laughability in a way. so the company backed by the russian oligarch is claiming that there's no russian influence whatsoever here. there's no reason to claim that.
and then the reasons they give for paying michael cohen have absolutely nothing to do with anything michael cohen has ever done in business. >> absolutely. i mean, the statement that we've had from columbus nova is that these were payments made for investment advice. this is not consistent with what michael cohen has been engaged with. when we pair the statement from columbus nova with the other companies we see there's great inconsistency in what they're saying the services were from michael cohen. this raises a red flag in my mind because if you're typically a bona fide company if michael cohen was providing consulting or lobbying advice you would expect to have consistent services you're offering. here we have an array of different clients that are, you
know, providing different reasons for why they engaged his consulting and advice. >> barbara mcquade, i'm particularly struck by the way the story has unfolded with novartis. first of all last night we all heard the statement they issued saying this deal was done under the ceo who no longer works here, disowning it as much as they could. today it was revealed after three months of paying michael cohen $100,000 a month, there was no business reason to do so but they were afraid to stop paying him because they were afraid of the reaction of the president of the united states. so they went on to pay michael cohen an additional $900,000 because they were afraid, in effect, of retribution from the president of the united states. >> yeah, some red flags here. first the shifting stories. they issued a couple of statements. and then the fear of retribution.
it may be something they assumed themselves without any warnings from someone else. so i want to be careful not to make allegations at this stage. but as a prosecutor investigating this, is this some sort of pay to play scheme? in some of the cases my former office investigated against a big city mayor, the mayor was surrounded by all kind of consultants and you had to pay the consultants in you wanted access to the mayor and consideration of your business being done in the city. so there's some concern maybe that's what's going on here. it's bribery if it's offered and it can be extortion if it's demanded. that's certainly something i would think robert mueller might want to look at. or the public corruption unit at the southern district of new york, which is assigned to this case. >> perhaps the most ridiculous
reason for paying michael cohen, the winner of that goes to at&t, and part of the reason they released publically was, it was to pay for an understanding of the inner workings of trump, his thought process, how he likes to operate, how he likes to make decisions, how he process information. ron klain, i guess they never watched "the apprentice" and read a world available in the press about donald trump. they were paying michael cohen $50,000 a month for a look inside the mind of donald trump. and six months into paying that, this book came out, from michael wolff, 30 bucks could have saved that half, at least, of the $600,000, they pay to michael cohen. >> as the old joke goes the inner workings of the mind of donald trump would be the shortest book ever written. i don't think they needed to pay $50,000 a month for that.
i think that raises a lot of questions. i think the payments from the korean aerospace company raise questions as does novartis. the most troubling is the russian oligarch, we don't know whatever advice was being sought there. and it's against the story of various russian efforts throughout 2016 to work with the trump campaign to try to influence our election. that's the one thing here, lawrence, all the red flags is the reddest of the red flags. >> dionna your reaction to that? >> absolutely. i think what's also interesting with the payment made by the vekselberg company, is there was a contribution to the trump inaugural committee, $250,000 paid, so this fits the trend we're seeing.
the company put out a statement it's owned by americans, it's an american based company. we have to ask who's exerting the ultimate control over the company and directing the actions being made. we have information that they've been very influential in the actions of columbus nova. so the pattern of seeing the vekselberg entity made to trump before, it raises questions what they intend for this particular payment was. >> barbara mcquade, michael avenatti keeps saying -- the recurring chorus from him is he wants the suspicious activity reports on michael cohen released, he believes they should be made public now. can they be made public now is one question, but the other part is, what is it that michael avenatti believes?
it's as if he knows something in there, and something in there will create a new round for this story? >> first of all, i don't think they can be released p p they're private documents, law enforcement sensitive. these are documents the banks file with the law when they view something in a bank account and they can be viewed by law enforcement. i don't think they can be released by the treasure department or michael cohen, i don't think he has access to them. why is michael avenatti pushing to have those suspicious activity reports released? i don't know. i wonder if there isn't additional information in them or he is bluffing knowing no one will release them and he can point to this is more effort to cover up what's going on here.
i don't know what his end game is. i imagine he's trying to put pressure on president trump to resolve his lawsuit with stormy daniels. but i do worry that all of these things in the public domain could be harming robert mueller's investigation. he is no doubt several steps ahead of all of us but this could be tipping off people causing them to tamper with witnesses or evidence. >> thank you all for joining this discussion. really appreciate it. coming up the latest michael cohen scandal is now moving in more interesting directions every day. we have got a problem. a few problems actually. we've got aging roadways, aging power grids, ...aging everything. we also have the age-old problem of bias in the workplace. really... never heard of it. the question is... who's going to fix all of this? an actor? probably not. but you know who can solve it? business. because solving big problems is what business does best. so let's take on the wage gap,
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we will drain the swamp. >> according to a new report, the trump swamp is now crawling with at least 187 former lobbyists who have been appointed to positions inside the trump government and thousands of lobbyists outside of the trump government profiting from the trump swamp, including huge profit tiers like michael cohen, who never registered as a lobbyist but was in effect being paid as a lobbyist of some sort. when fired trump campaign manager corey lewandowski set up the lobbying shop in washington his partner said they had more clients than they could handle and they had to turn some away. and president trump is creating new openings for lobbyists, like threatening tariffs that lobbyist then try to get
exemptions from for companies and countries. and the same thing is happening with president trump threatening to impose sanctions on companies doing business with iran. that means hundreds of millions of dollars of lobby fees will be paid. in a new report from "the washington journal," michael cohen helped a law firm recruit a corporate client with ties to jared kushner's family company. among five companies michael cohen delivered before the firm terminated the contract with him was u.s. immigration fund llc, which last year organized a trip to china for several kushner officials, including his sister to seek investors for commercial and residential towers in jersey
city, new jersey in exchange for residency visas that would allow the chinese investors into the united states. joining us now is david frum and matt miller. david frum, the michael cohen saga is but one window into what has truly become an unprecedented size swamp that the trump swamp now is. >> the question i think you have been asking the past half hour and that rachel was asking for the last hour before that, is a variant of an episode from the old sew soprano show. the thing that got you into the most trouble was not kicking up, you got the fat envelope full of
cash, you took your piece of it, and then delivered the thicker envelope to the next ranking person in the organization. that's the thing everyone is struggling with. donald trump hates people making money off him without sharing. michael cohen made a lot of money very fast, did he kick up? >> and that's exactly what michael avenatti has been suggesting in our discussions. matt miller here's a president who creates opportunities for lobbyists unlike anything we have ever seen, even when he apparently randomly decides to attack a company on twitter for whatever its legal business is on the united states. what happens for the lobbying bills for that company the day the president launches a twitter attack on that company? >> if you look at his influx of business you have to look at what was happening in the transition. the president was attacking
companies and every time that happened, all of these companies were scrambling trying to figure out what to do in response and every major company in america was trying to figure out what to do to head that off. in the middle of that, michael cohen comes cold calling ceos and offers what is potentially a protection racquet. i will introduce you to people in the trump world. there's the old-time influence peddling, trying to make introductions, and then there's the new era of the trump world, you have a president out bullying companies in public and someone offering, to use analogy, if you want these attacks to go away, hire me. >> let's listen to what eric swalwell told ari melber today. >> any tree that you shake in this trump forest, a russia falls out.
the president is in a position where he and his lawyer are deceiving the american people. and a president who lies is a president who is weak. >> david frum here we see in the michael avenatti massive flows of money, of course, standing behind one big pot is a russian oligarch. >> right. and we have discovered that beginning in about 2006, the trump organization suddenly seemed to have a lot of catch to spend but spent it in weirdly unwise ways, on money-losing golf courses. there's the question of where do these flows of very large money into the trump organization come from? we shake the tree and we think we know the answer. >> matt miller in terms of what
we're seeing michael avenatti unearth every other week it seems there's something kind of extraordinary coming from him, who's feeding off who here? is avenatti working off of what appear to be fruits of federal investigations or is he feeding the federal investigations? >> i think it's probably a little bit of both. we know he's been cooperating with the investigation in the southern district of new york looking into potential company finance violations, he said that publically. but it does appear the release he made yesterday was probably the result of an internal federal investigation i would suspect from the treasury department, possibly leaked from the justice department but most likely leaked from the treasury department. it does lead you to ask the question, are other people coming forward? there are whistle blowers in the private or public sector who might look at michael cohen now as someone out taking on the president and saying this is someone i can bring information to, he'll take it public, he's not afraid to back down, but he's someone i can share damning information and make sure it gets in the right hand.
>> one thing i learned about michael avenatti is he always knows more than what he tells us in any given round. you can feel it when he's sitting here and talking to you. last night he was very clear about having information about where the money went. last night's discussion and today's discussion with him has been the money that has come in to michael cohen. he seems to know something about where the money went and he has in effect promised that's the next chapter of this story for him. >> i've been woring for a long time, worrying and hoping, the united states government is in the grip of an auto immune disorder. all through the government there are people seeing things that are not appropriate for the president of the united states to do, worse than not appropriate. and what do they do about that?
well, many of them, as we've been suggesting here, they are doing things that aren't appropriate for them because the system is reacting to this alien intrusion of something it's never seen before. and it's shedding information in directions where it thinks it can do some good for self-protected purposes. there are enduring systematic ethical and institutional questions. how do you carry on the government if people develop these habits of leaking in order to protect the country from leaders they see as improper. >> matt miller, as i say, it does sound like the next chapter for michael avenatti is where that money went and he is strongly suggesting it didn't all go to michael cohen. >> whoever provided him the information about michael cohen's bank accounts clearly was able to see what money was coming into the bank account, there's no reason to think they wouldn't be able to see where that money was going to when it left his bank account, whether it was going to finance his other businesses or to someone else in the trump organization, the trump world, maybe trump
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yes, i'm in favor of water boarding. okay. would i approve water boarding? you bet your ass i'd approve it. you bet your ass. in a heartbeat. >> i think water boarding is excellent but you have to go further than water boarding. as far as i'm concerned you can go a lot stronger than water boarding. than you like. don't tell me it doesn't work. torture works. only a stupid person would say it doesn't work. it works. here's the president's nominee to be the next director of the cia, gina haspel at her hearing today. >> the president has asserted that torture works. do you agree with that statement? >> senator, i -- i don't believe that torture works. i believe that in the cia's program, and i'm not attributing this to enhanced interrogation techniques. i believe as many people, directors who have sat in this
chair before me that valuable information was obtained from senior al queda operatives that alloweds to defend this country and present another attack. >> is that a yes? >> no, it's not a yes. we got valuable information from debriefing of al queda detainees. i don't think it's knowable whether interrogation techniques played a role in that. >> and then the question that ended up deciding senator john mccain's position on gina haspel. >> do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? >> senator, i believe that cia officers to whom you referred -- >> it's a yes or no answer. do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? i'm not asking do you believe they were legal. i'm asking do you believe they were immoral?
>> senator, i believe that cia -- >> it's a yes or no -- >> -- did extraordinary work to prevent another attack on the country given the legal tools -- >> please answer yes or no. do you believe, in hindsight, those techniques were immoral. >> what i believe sitting here today, is i support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to. >> can you please answer the question. >> i believe i have answered the question. >> no, you have not. do you believe the techniques -- now armed with hindsight, do you believe they were immoral? yes or no? >> senator, i believe we should hold ourselves to the moral standard outlined in the army field manual. >> you've not answered the question, but i'm going to move on. >> senator john mccain was
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>> joining us now nicholas christoph, columnist from "the new york times" and gene robinson, msnbc political analyst. both are pulitzer prize winners. so nick, she was pressed knowing that she's going to serve a president who thinks torture is great, nothing can change his mind about it. she apparently hasn't changed his mind about it. what does she do if the president orders her to do it. she said she would not restart under any circumstances. so i don't know if that means resign. i don't know what that means. >> unfortunately she was also very evasive. she didn't really renounce it. boy, i so much would like to support gina haspel for this job. i think she's very smart. the folks at cia strongly support her. women there would love to have a woman director of central intelligence. but how can you support somebody who not only oversaw torture, but refuses to renounce it now, refuses to renounce the fact that she destroyed these videotapes as an investigation was approaching.
and i guess i also worry, lawrence, that a little bit about whether she's sort of a stalking course for mike pompeo. to the extent that she doesn't have a lot of independent connections on the hill, for example. mike pompeo supports her. and i guess i worry that if he's at state and has a protege at langley, that there is some risk that he could get intelligence to support his policy decisions, which i think is another major concern to have. >> senator john mccain watching at home on television issued this statement at the hearing. ms. haspel's role overseeing torture by americans is disturbing. her refusal to acknowledge
torture's immorality is disqualifying. i believe the senate should exercise its duty of advise and consent and reject this nomination. >> that's right. i'm with john mccain on the subject. john mccain, being one of the few americans who has experienced torture, he knows that water boarding is torture. he knows other things done to the detainees constituted torture. nothing i heard today changed my mind. it was a very -- that period in the vcia, it's a broad national consensus in 2002 and 2003 that we should take prisoners to
terrorism suspects to secret prisons in foreign lands and torture them. i was never asked about that. you were never asked about that. and yet this revisionism maintains that somehow we all agree that that was okay for them. it was okay. it was illegal then, it was immoral then. and while i grant that you can't disqualify the sfwier cia for its participation, in fact, there was not a unanimous view inside the cia. and certainly it was opposed by many in the fbi by virtually all in the pentagon who thought that was crazy. this was terrible. and someone who participated in the deinstruction of the evidence of that crime, which shows consciousness of guilt, i think she's disqualified. >> nick, one of the extraordinary moments for me listening to her testimony this morning was she was asked on the destruction of the videos of the torture, she was asked why -- the idea was to protect the identities of the agents involved. she was then asked, why not just digitize the face of the agents so there would never be any
issue about who was involved in the torture. and then the video could be preserved, which most of the authorities who spoke about the preservation of this video wanted it preserved, even when it was destroyed. her answer to the question of why not just digitize the face was, i'm not a technical person, i don't know that works. now, we think of the cia director as knowing an awful more about an awful lot of levels of sophistication. a cia director who doesn't know if you can digitize a face was a real stunning moment to me. >> as you suggest, it was an enormously implausible answer. it seems completely implausible.
it does injustice to her. she's a smart, savvy person. clearly she knew there were other avenue ps .this is the kind of thing that people do when they go on the hill and can't tell the truth. and so they dissemiable. and she dissembled today. and she may well end up as director of the cia. looks like she may end up with the votes. >> the goodwill she does seem to have with democrats comes from the obama administration apparently relying on her and welcoming her into their deliberations. i think the problem is her very public, and i think shameful role in the torture program.
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