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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  August 22, 2018 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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. this is cnn tonight. it is almost 11:01 here on the east coast with all the developments tonight. with two key members guilty of criminal charges, the legal and political peril is reaching new heights right now. while trump maintains his innocence, his own justice department believes michael cohen's allegations of hush money, paying hush money to alleged miss stresses at the direction of his former boss, true enough to proceed criminally against michael cohen. cohen and by proxy, trump's legal problems on this front have nothing to do with robert mueller and everything to do with the u.s. attorney's office in the southern district of new york. while mueller and rod rosenstein could theoretically land in the president's cross hairs, the historically republican prosecutors in new york could be a different story.
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another cohen-related problem out today, new york state tax authorities want to talk to michael cohen about the trump foundation. the state's attorney general sued the president and his three oldest children, accusing the charity and the trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. no one knows where the next legal blow will land. already facing many years in prison after yesterday's verdict, the former campaign manager paul manafort heads to a second trial next month. and then this one, prosecutors are expected to bring even more evidence. there's the matter of the president's legal team still in the dark over what don mcgahn told investigators in some 30 hours of testimony. the stakes for the upcoming mid-terms are under fire. republicans will dodging the questions. that is a lot to get to in one
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hour. i want to bring in someone some answers. dan rather, the host of tv's "the big interview." thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> that was a lot. before we get to the stuff that we had ready for you. what do you think? is this madness? i've never seen this much. >> it is a kind of madness. what goes through my mind, the last 24 to 48 hours, with cohen and manafort, is president abraham lincoln had his team of rivals. trump has his block of felons. he surrounds himself with what turns out to be felons. there's never been anything like this in american history. watergate in the mid 1970s is the closest thing we've had.
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watergate, it consisted of drims of americans committing crimes against americans. at the core of this investigation, which we're not nearly at the end, is a foreign power trying to affect and possibly affect our election. >> i've heard the term criminal enterprise a lot, special when i michael cohen and paul manafort. do you think that's beif itting with what happened? >> i wouldn't use the phrase myself but i can't argue with anyone who does. look at how many people have pled guilty or in manafort's case, been found guilty. so we are in an ocean the likes of which no one has been on. the head winds are against donald trump. i know his former aide omarosa thinks he is crazy as a bull bat. i don't subscribe to that. i don't think he's crazy at all. i do think that he is increasingly cornered and people
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who get in a corner frequently can't think as straight as they would otherwise do. and the pressure is on donald trump now. things changed dramatically yesterday. it was reminiscent of march 1974 when i think nine of president nixon's close aides were indicted and fired. that's the closest we've had. but you can't use watergate as a complete template because of the allegation of russian influence in our election. >> and also, it was whether or not he will face any ramifications, whatever he faces, the congress was different then. >> exactly. and i find people forget this. during the nixon watergate period, widespread criminal conspiracy, led by the president himself. that both houses of congress were in the hands of the democrats. now just the opposite. and someone else said earlier this evening, and i agree. that the only chance that the republican party, the gop
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senators and the majority house members, are going to split with trump is if he tries on fire mueller. if he doesn't, they'll stick with him through thick and thin. >> at their own peril? or do you think it will be okay with them because they're getting their agendas across. >> unless something changes. and by the way, lindsey graham, very smart guy grgs sense of humor. i know him a little bit and like him. but back at the time when impeachment was being considered for president clinton, he won the trial in the senate. but lindsey graham said impeachment is about the honor and integrity of the president. if you apply to the present situation, if what we're talking about is the honor and integrity of the president, this is a situation donald trump in the end may not win. >> this is something that you tweeted earlier today.
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okay? dan rather says, one has a sense of the gop leaders holding on to donald trump for political life have no idea where this wild horror show of a ride is heading. can this get even worse? undoubtedly. how bad can it get? no one save trump and likely mueller's team really knows. that's kind of forboding. >> i think that's the proper attitude to have. always keeping in mind that mueller knows so much more than he has shown. if you think yesterday was a shock to our democratic system, just stay tuned. because the other things mueller is working on, and sooner or later we'll find out what they are, make yesterday pale by comparison. >> do you think so? >> the evidence abounds. >> yesterday, the president's fixer and attorney implicated
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the president in a crime. >> the president in effect became an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case. what you had, you have a could not spear at this to defraud the american voters. a criminal conspiracy to defraud the american voters to win the election campaign. this is, to say serious, understates it. to come back to, mueller has been digging away. there is still a long way to go with this. anybody that thinks yesterday was the high mark, they're kidding themselves. we have to be prepared as a people. we have to be prepared to stay steady and depend on the checks and balances. give federal prosecutors in the case, you know, the federal prosecutors with a hostile judge presented a case that got convictions. the jury did their job. they started, they deliberated
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and came back guilty verdicts. it is a reminder, president john adams once said you're that. >> did you know the date on that? 1972, 1973, i'm not sure. this is october of 1973. because you were, you tweeted about how things would undoubtedly get worse and this is a flash back to your reporting during watergate. the saturday night massacre, 1973, october. here it is. watch. >> in breath taking succession tonight, the following historic events occurred. the president of the united states demand that had the attorney general fire special prosecutor archibald. could. the attorney general elliott richardson refused and resigned. the president then ordered the assistant attorney general to fire the special prosecutor. he refused.
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the president immediately fired him. so solicitor general robert bork was quickly named acting attorney general. he was ordered the fire special prosecutor cox. he did. >> we discussed your reporting then and your anchoring then before. you said it is surreal. but now we're living through this. it is an indication that yeah, things can always get worse. we're in a kind of political theater of the absurd now. we expect things on get worse before they get better. >> i'm sorry you played that clip. i had more hair. >> i was going to say, who was the guy all that hair? >> and a better color. [ laughter ] >> it's always pleasure. >> look at that hair. do you see that? you haven't changed a bit. the hair is a little grayer.
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no, my ex-boyfriend's wedding, he's confused. jason! mix and match airlines to save more. lanny davis is saying that mueller has information between trump campaign and russia. here's what he told me last night. >> michael cohen has information that would be of interest to mr. mueller in his probe of a conspiracy to corrupt american democracy very similar to the indictment of the russians. that i believe mr. cohen would be able to provide information useful to the special counsel. i won't call it smoking gun information. somebody else will have to judge that. i believe he has relevant information. >> so a couple questions here. how worried should the president
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be about all of this? what could his former personal attorney and fixer possibly know about any alleged campaign coordination with russia to help trump win the election? from the reporting that we've seen so far, michael cohen could know something. in his own work on a man to build the trump tower in moscow could reveal how much cohen knows. in october 2015, during the primaries for the 2016 election, michael cohen was working with the russian born businessman felix sader. this isn't the first time he worked with trump. he goes back to the a least 2005. he is also a mob linked felon and a former fbi informant. what did sater do for the moscow project? he told "the new york times" that he lined up financing for the project from vtb bank. that's a bank partially owned by
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the kremlin and under u.s. sanctions at the time. sater bragged about his connections to the russian president, according to the "new york times," and an e-mail seen by the "washington post." sater said that putin would say great things about trump if the deal for trump tower went through. again, all of this happening during the primaries. one e-mail between cohen and sater that was obtained by the "new york times" dated november 3, 2015, offers one of the earliest publicly known signal that's russia could help trump win the 2016 election. he told cohen this. our boy can become president of the united states and we can engineer it. i will get all of putin's teem buy in on this. i will manage this process. again, quote, we can engineer it. i will get putin's team to buy in on this. so feel i can sater said that
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they could work to make trump the president of the united states. he denied any effort -- he said that he didn't have connection to putin's government but felt confident that he could find others who knew putin who could help. so cohen himself reached out directly. he said he sent a message to dmit dmit dmitri peskov. he said he received a message and didn't respond. they were clearly closely working together for more than a deck sxad cohen's plea yesterday said they were so close that they worked together to pay off two women claiming to have affairs with trump. so what are the odds that he would have something that mueller would find interesting? seems pretty high, no? let's bring in april ryan, white house correspondent, and cnn
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presidential historian douglas brinkley. good evening. so they ended up not doing it and obviously michael cohen is denying that he knew anything about it. that it never came to fruition so there is no there, there. i want to play something that sarah sanders said today about michael cohen. >> does the president feel betrayed by michael cohen? is he concerned about what he might say to robert mueller? >> i don't think the president is concerned at all of he knows that he did nothing wrong and there was no collusion and we'll continue focusing on the things that americans care about and that we can have an impact on. >> so the white house says the president isn't concerned that what michael cohen might tell mueller but cohen might have a lot more to say. >> of course he has a lot more to say. we keep calling him the fixer. for the a decade he was doing the dirty work on donald trump.
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that includes the russia deal, it includes that he's made tapes. we've heard one of them and it has been very damming to it. he's been there with the trump foundation where it is just potentially ripe with iillegali. when you have your closest attorney flip out like this, i don't know how donald trump sleeps at night. then you have lanny davis, the lawyer famous for the clintons, orchestrating all of this. the president must be just horrified to find his white house paralyzed like this. >> april, sarah sanders stuck on her guns that the president didn't do anything wrong. watch this. >> as the president stated many
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times, he did nothing wrong. there are no charges against him and we've commented this extensively. i can tell you as the president has stated on numerous occasions, he nothing wrong. the president has done nothing wrong. the president has stated a number of times did he nothing wrong. there are no charges against him. he knows did he nothing wrong. what i can tell you about this. there are no charges against him. the president has done nothing wrong. there are no charges against him. >> seven times she said did nothing wrong. and six times she said no charges against trump and no collusion. she wasn't really answering questions to this. >> my question, what is the white house definition of the president did nothing wrong? what does the president believe in his mind or what is his lawyer saying he did nothing
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wrong to? here's the issue. when you have someone like michael cohen in your camp, he has his hands in a lot of pots. he is that close to the president. michael cohen dwelt the issue from what we heard from the tapes, that michael cohen played off this playboy playmate of the year. also, he paid off this porn star. now, also, years ago, michael cohen introduced the president to at least one black preacher. so michael cohen has his hands in a lot of pots. so it is not beyond the realm of possibility that michael cohen could have something to do with conversations with those who are close to the kremlin. >> so cnn is learning the president and his team want to discredit michael cohen as a liar. a noncredible witness. this is trump. a fox interview. and he is playing down that
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relationship. listen. >> he was a lawyer for me, one of many. a lawyer and then they like the add, the fixer. i don't know if he was a fixer. i don't know where that term came from. he's been a lawyer for me. he didn't do big deals. he did small deals. not somebody that was with me that much. they made it sound like you didn't live without him. i understood michael cohen very well. it turned out he wasn't a very good lawyer, frankly. but he was probably with me about ten years. and i would see him sometimes. >> so is that, will that strategy work? downplaying their relationship? >> no. it won't work. the reason why michael cohen came into the picture is because donald trump organization, it was a family endeavour. when you pay off a prostitute or
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a playmate, you won't have jared do it or don jr. do it. he needed someone to do the dirty work for him. he found a lawyer who was scrappy and hungry to be successful. he was his lawyer for the past decade. so this will cause great consternation to donald trump. he doesn't know what else cohen might have. what other documents? what other telephone calls? i mean, the fact is one of the things donald trump is lucky, he is not an e-mailer. but the fact that his secret lawyer, his private guy that he's taping donald trump is a disaster for the sitting president. and then we have the omarosa possible tapes coming, too. so this is a president being screwed up, hung by his own frankensteins that he created
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that are now turning on him. >> i'm sure you have something to say about it. will this strategy work? >> no, it won't work. i keep saying this. sex, lies, videotape and audio tape. the proof is there. the proof is the proof. the problem is that this president likes to spin it his way and craft the narrative for his base to believe. once you have someone in the inner circle who pleads guilty, and there are tapes, you cannot deny it. there's a time of the president saying things on air force one that this cohen tape is showing totally different. the president can say what he wants. as long as there is tape, as long as there is video, and his voice speaking these truths that we're hearing. he is in trouble. he is in trouble. and this is a wounded president. he is not operating out of a stance. he was a wounded president when
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he was there today in that medals ceremony. >> thank you. i appreciate it. we'll be right back.
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so the president claiming that the charges michael cohen pleaded to are not crimes. yes. they are. and he brushed off the hush money claims saying he paid for them. >> they didn't come out of the campaign and that's big. but it's not even a campaign violation. >> so i want to bring in three cnn contributors now. a former white house ethics czar. larry noble, a campaign finance law expert and former general counsel, and the author of the threat mate rich. inside robert mueller's fbi and the war on global terror. today president says, since the money came from him, it is not a campaign finance violation but trump put $65 million of his own money into the campaign and his
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own justice department along with the southern district of new york ruled it is a crime. so does trump's argument hold up? >> no. first of all, it doesn't look like the money came from him in any legal sense. from what we've seen, it looks like the money came from the trump organization. what happened was that cohen paid stormy daniels and then was reimbursed from the trump organization by putting in falsified vouchers for payments. so if that happen, then you have a corporate contribution from the trump organization. the president may think of the trump organization and his family in the white house as all one big thing but it's not. that's an important difference. we have not yet seen any evidence that he paid the money. if he did, and he was paying back michael cohen for a loan michael cohen effectively made, it should have shown up in his ethics report. the more he speaks, the more
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trouble he's getting into. >> so what about these reimbursements? they're saying it is a reimbursement mistake. they're saying it was not a big mistake. >> it was a business mistake. i don't think it was a mistake. i think they tried to figure out a way to hide these payments. so he makes the payments. he needs to get reimbursed for them so they put them through as legal fees to cohen and paying him back. and according to the information that the u.s. attorney filed, they can what is called grossing up the payments to cover for his taxes. so it looks like a real scheme to try to get money to pay for stormy daniels, to pay her off and to do it in a way that hides it and keeps it away from the
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campaign. >> it looks like they have trouble. >> well, then, talk to me with that. in the court of public opinion, does it matter if it was campaign money or not? >> well, don, the president is trying to fudge that. but there is no running away from the devastating impact of michael cohen standing up in court yesterday. not only the court of justice but the court of opinion, the words ringing out that he committed campaign finance crimes at the direction and control of a candidate. we all who know that is. the president of the united states. and i think you've seen this reverberation across the country. there are some things that get confined to the connoisseurs of law. not this one. so yes. i think this will be devastating. the smell. you can only ignore the smell for so long. the smell is bad and it will get
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worse. every day a new crime. today president went on fox news. as larry said, he seemed to concede that he was aware of these payments and was involved in them. >> did he implicate himself even further? >> he proved a case that my watch dog group proved several months ago when we first got wind of this. we said wait a minute. if it is the way he said, he should have put this on his financial disclosures. that's not a small offense. in addition to the campaign violation. trump signed those forms under 18 usc 1001. it says on the forms, felony. did he lie? that's the biggest one. today the biggest one is coming tomorrow or the day after that, when bob mueller, no one knows when it will be, releases his
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obstruction report. there will be overwhelming audience. so this is a death spiral day by day, i think, for donald trump. >> i promise you, we'll let you talk now. so garrett, you've been waiting patiently. one of the jurors spoke to fox moments ago. here's what they said about the star witness, rick gates. here it is. >> some of us had a problem with accepting his testimony because he took plea. so we agreed to throw out his testimony and look at the paperwork chflt his name was all over. >> did you find him to be credible? >> no. i think he would have done anything that he could to preserve himself. that's just obvious, and the fact that he flipped on manafort. >> so she admits that they threw out gates' trust because they didn't trust him. what do you make of that?
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>> so they threw out gates' testimony. if she is to be believed. they still convicted him on eight charges in all three bucket of the criminally charged conduct. your bank fraud, tax fraud, and failing to report foreign bank accounts. so they found the totality of the prosecutors' case very believable and very plausible, beyond a reasonable doubt, even. and one of the things she said was that there was a single holdout for all ten of the other charges. that basically, paul manafort came within one vote of being convicted on all 18 charges. now, that is all sort of somewhat immaterial. even on the eight that he's already been convicted on, he faces what is probably the equivalent of a life sentence for a 69-year-old. >> well, we'll may more of that
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juror and talk more about it. you won't believe what else she said. i could put that on an airplane banner. hmm. maybe. nice work. was that...? yeah, king midas. yeah. at midas, we're always a touch better. which is why our $19.99 oil change also includes a tire rotation. book your appointment now at midas.com
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back with my guests. so i want you to listen to the juror, what she said about the behind the scenes deliberations and the one person who held out. >> what were the deliberations like? >> crazily enough, there were even tears. two of the jurors, one of the females who did finally change her vote to guilty, would come in one day and say guilty. and then say no, i felt
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pressured. i want to change my vote back. so there was a lot of back and forth. but then we got all the documents many front of her and she changed her vote to guilty again but the one holdout wonderful. >> so she said 11 out of the 12 agree on all 18th counts. there was one juror who still had reasonable doubt on ten of the counts. remember, manafort was convicted on eight of them. what does this show you? >> well, it does show how complicated the trial was. but also it explains what seems to be some inconsistencies in the verdict. he is guilty of the crime but not the conspiracy. so there was some compromises i think made there. but it shows how complicated it was. it shows how much weight they put on on rick gates versus the evidence and they had to show the documents over and over
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again. these are complicated trials. you never know what a jury will do. even with that one person holding out, they managed to convict on eight felonies. >> as you're listening to the juror, what are you thinking? >> well, don, of course i've tried cases to juries all over the country and i've sat on juries and i was even the foreman. it is like sausage making. you wouldn't want that to be on television. what goes on in the jury room. with that jury i sat in on a foreman, there was one person who seemed disassociated from evidence the. you have to remember, there were other factors here. you had a judge who was constantly and unfairly criticizing the prosecution. that sends a signal to a jury so that may have made it tougher sledding. and you had the president tweeting about the case. the jury was not sequestered. they were at their homes. they were told not to look at
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stuff but they could be exposed to things. you had the president attempting to make his opinion known so there was some uphill sledding. and eight counts to me is as good as 18. this is a de facto life sentence for mr. manafort. >> i wonder if this changes the way they prosecute the next trial? >> well, so looking ahead to next month, he goes on trial again for a separate set of charges including witness tampering, being an unregistered foreign agent. about russia's role, paul manafort's ties to russian business leaders. the ukrainian politicians and so forth. presumably also, it will be in d.c. so it will be with a, probably more friendly jury pool than the virginia case featured.
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and in some ways, it is considered a much stronger case for the prosecution than this bank fraud and. at a fraud case was. which as larry and norm have already said, was already a pretty overwhelming case. so i think there's every reason to imagine that paul manafort's legal jeopardy is ongoing. and that the worst may be ahead of him. he faces another possible century in prison. >> so before we go. was this a win for the prosecution? was it a good day yesterday for the prosecution? >> home run. >> what do you think? >> absolutely. >> garrett? >> no way that anyone sees it on mueller's team as anything other than a full victory. >> thank you all. have a good night. when we come back, the president says he feels very badly for paul manafort and he is taking aim at his own justice department. we'll speak to a member of the house judiciary committee. (vo) why do subaru forester
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president trump today praising paul manafort who, don't forget, is now a convicted felon, facing years in prison. the president calling his former campaign chairman a brave man. let's discuss now. congressman ted lieu is here. a california democrat who is a member of the judiciary committee. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, don. >> the president tweeted this morning, attacking his own justice department's treatment of his convicted former campaign manager. here's what he said. "i feel very badly for paul manafort and his wonderful family. justice took a 12-year-old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and unlike michael cohen, he refused to break. make up stories in order to get
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a deal. such respect for a brave man." and then he put an exclamation point on top of that. so, manafort was convicted by a jury of eight counts of bank and tax fraud charges. yes, the president has quotes around, you know, the word justice. but why is the president defending paul manafort? he's a convicted felon. >> thank you for your question, don. as a former prosecutor, it is very hard for me to watch these direct attacks on the rule of law by donald trump. and it's also very telling, because an innocent person would not view these facts the same way that a criminal mind would. and in this case, donald trump clearly thinks that cooperating with the government, with prosecutors, is somehow bad, and being convicted of tax fraud and bank fraud is somehow bad, no. these are actual crimes and in america, we uphold the rule of law, and no one who commits bank fraud and tax fraud should be
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able to get away with it. i think the president should apologize and stop attacking law enforcement. >> the president attacked michael cohen, while he continues to praise paul manafort. it is interesting. what does that say to you? >> well, let me say that michael cohen's guilty plea is a game changer. we have a sworn document under oath which basically the president of the united states is alleged to have committed two felonies. and i think it's important for people to understand there's a difference between a civil campaign finance violation versus a criminal campaign finance violation, in this case, donald trump is alleged to have engaged in two criminal campaign finance violations with the punishment as prison time. i can understand why the president is very nervous, why he attacks michael cohen, because donald trump is in serious legal jeopardy. >> wow. and you really believe that. so, you say he's in serious legal jeopardy, but as a
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lawmaker, do you have any resource, what actions can the democrats take without the republicans acting? because there's a deafening silence coming from republicans on capitol hill now. >> most campaign finance violations are handled by the fec, those are civil fines. that's what happened with obama campaign, that's a case donald trump referred to, but when we look at this fact pattern, congresswoman kathleen rice and i, we wrote a letter to the fbi, because as former prosecutors, we thought, this looks like a felony, and we want the fbi to investigate, and they did, life comes at people fast and now you have michael cohen essentially pleading guilty to felony campaign finance violations. it's important to understand, campaign finance laws are extremely important. one of the bedrock principles of democracy to make sure elections are run fairly and for people to somehow say this is not a big deal is highly disturbing.
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>> let's talk about the justice department. the justice department is led by attorney general jeff sessions, whom the president continues to publicly undermine. what would you like to see jeff sessions do differently? >> well, i think it's actually honorable for jeff sessions to continue to not intervene in the russia probe and the russia investigation. he did what was right by recusing himself. i would like to see jeff sess n sessions speak up more against donald trump when he gets attacked by the president and i have to give a great shoutout to deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who has done a tremendous job so far making sure that the rule of law is being followed and when you have a department of justice that is allowed to proceed without political interference, you get convictions, you get the rule of law being honored. >> in light of the developments with manafort and cohen, senate democrats want to suspend confirmation hearings for supreme court nominee brett cavanaugh. do you think his nomination should go forward?
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>> no, i do not. but it is also a problem when you have a republican-controlled congress. you see that they have been complicit in the culture of corruption that has occurred this past year and a half, so, wouldn't be surprising to me if conce republicans went forward. i don't think they should do that. and in the house of representatives, i'm on the house judiciary committee, i think our committee now absolutely needs to hold hearings on the campaign finance allegations against the president. and in particular, because the guidelines have said that they're not going to indict a sitting president, which means it's now incumbent on congress to investigation, did donald trump commit two felonies and if he did, then what do we do with those facts? >> congressman ted lieu, thank you for your time. >> thank you, don. >> thanks for watching. our coverage continues. if you have moderate to severe
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my ci can worry about it,ine. or do something about it. garlique® helps maintain healthy cholesterol naturally. and it's odor free. and pharmacist recommended. garlique.® good evening. a from the people that brought you the notion that truth isn't truth, here's something new. crime that isn't crime, noncrime, by the way that president trump says he never committed even though at least some of his argument is undermined by his own voice on tape, and the surreal little nugget is part of the picture as the president and his people spin the reality that two more of the former associates are felons and one of them attorney michael cohen tied him under oath to pair of crime. his attorney joins us momentarily. as for the president, he responded today by slamming mr. cohen on twitter, saying, "if anyone is looking for a good lawyer, i would strongly suggest you don't retain the services of michael cohen." lat later, the president turned to the fact and law twisting

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