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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  November 29, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PST

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cnn. >> new reporting reveals what it really- it rocked our world. i had no idea paul manafort lied to the amount of damage that water could do. investigators about after he we called usaa. signed that plea agreement. and they greeted me as they always do. that's where we begin this hour. sergeant baker, how are you? good morning. >> good morning. they were on it. yeah. this really shows the very it was unbelievable. having insurance is something everyone needs, contentious relationship between but having usaa- paul manafort and the mueller team. the mueller team now saying that now that's a privilege. since that plea deal was struck we're the baker's and we're usaa members for life. two and a half months ago that usaa. manafort has repeatedly lied. get your insurance quote today. manafort's team says he was telling the truth. we have now learned from "the wall street journal" what this is centered around. this is paul manafort's relationship to a businessman who they have had a relationship. mueller has been very interested in that relationship and says that manafort has not been truthable abotrut truthful about it. the fbi believes he does have close ties to russian spell against. that's where that interest comes from. they have both been charged by the mueller team with trying to influence two witnesses.
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he has not appeared in court. the senator delivering he has not been arrested. president trump's handling of the murder of jamal khashoggi, a and this isn't necessarily central to the russia probe per major, a large one, voted to se, but it really does speak to advance u.s. military support of the saudi led war in yemen. that contentious relationship, as i mentioned, between the two secretary of state mike mpompeo of them. so manafort really does find said there was no direct himself in hot water right now. evidence linking the prince to it would appear that his best the killing. possible chances of any sort of >> one of the president's biggest supporters on the hill, leniency is a presidential senator lindsey graham expressing more than just a pardon, which as we heard little frustration with her not yesterday from president trump being there. is not off the table. why? because she is the one who heard the special counsel ask that a date for sentencing be set. the tape of the murder of the there is a hearing here in d.c. journalist jamal khashoggi. tomorrow to talk about that. listen to senator graham. >> yeah. >> i'm glad we had it. and we should note the president i admire both the secretaries, publically dangling a pardon for but it was inadequate because people tied to an ongoing the cia was not there. investigation for which he is any key vote, anything that you involved in is remarkable. >> for a convicted felon. need me for to get out of town, >> yeah, exactly. on other issues central to i ain't doing it until we hear mueller's investigation, the
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from the cia. >> did you hear back from the president? >> i just did. president -- cnn learned about this is cnn breaking news. some of the answers to those >> all right. questions. >> the president has sent back we have significant breaking news to bring you this morning regarding president trump, written answers. regarding michael cohen. let's go to our colleague pamela foremost among them was what he knew, if anything, about that brown. give us the main headline here. 2016 meeting at trump tower >> we are learning that michael between donald jr., paul manafort, jared kushner and a cohen, the president's former attorney for more than a decade russian lawyer with ties to the is expected to make a surprise kremlin. the president has said according appearance in front of a federal to this exclusive reporting that judge in new york this morning where he is expected to plead he knew nothing about that. he also says he knew nothing guilty to misleading congress in about roger stone's relationship the russia investigation. so we know that michael cohen with wikileaks. roger stone, a long-time has previously testified to associate. let's just remind the viewers congress on a number of issues why. that's because russian military related to the russia probe. hackers who hacked into the dnc he has previously told congress and the clinton campaign then that those efforts have ceased handed off that trove of e-mails to wikileaks and so now the in january of 2016. special counsel robert mueller he also told congress that the is focussing on that potential president barely knew about it. that was one of the issues we relationship between wikileaks know michael cohen has
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and roger stone to see if there previously talked to congress was any collusion between the about. now we are learning the head of his sentencing coming up later trump campaign, wikileaks and of course that all tied back to the in december, that he is going to be appearing before a federal russian hacker. judge and pleading guilty to >> alex, thanks very much. misleading congress. one day after the president this is significant for a number refused to speak on the record of reasons because the question about a potential pardon, well, is how will this impact the president. michael cohen is someone who has the washington post now said he would not take it off the table. previously said he would take a bullet for the president. joe johns is at the white house. now it turns out he could be one let's cut right to the chase of the most damaging witnesses here. the president is publically to the president and his dangling a pardon, it appears, presidency. and so we could learn more about to someone who is a convicted felon. >> remarkable, but not shocking what the president has learned as it pertains to the russia given what's happened at this investigation. white house, quite frankly. we are waiting to find out what that new york post interview, happens when we appear before the president indicating he this federal judge. would not take it off the table, he already pleaded guilty to asking a question why would i eight counts. that involved tax fraud, as well take a pardon off of the table. as campaign finance violations. now, this is a kind of issue so this is certainly that has been floating around significant, because this is for a long time, ever since paul different. this is pleading guilty to manafort was indicted. misleading congress and the russia investigation. he, of course, was the trump >> the timing here is key
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campaign manager. because he has testified that but this is the closest the the talks regarding trump tower, president has ever come to the trump tower project in telegraphing his thinking. moscow is now saying, is it once again thr, this is one of e correct, that those talks issues not that shocking where continued into june of 2016. that time because the president we are in an environment where by then was presumptive the president of the united states has fired the fbi republican nominee for director, ousted the attorney president. general and installed a critic and skeptic of the mueller that timing, is he also testifying that the president investigation there to was aware that those essentially oversea the conversations were continued? investigation. >> we're going to have to wait not that surprising at all. and see what he says. jim and poppy, back to you. i can only just tell you what he >> thank you. has testified to congress in the with us now cnn chief legal too. past. he says that those discussions about trump tower and moscow ceased in january 2016 and he also says that the president where do we begin? barely knew about it. those are let's begin with the president two key points he has previously saying to the post when i should note he went off the record on told congress. we know the president has come certain issues with the out and said on several washington post. occasions that there is no deal with russia. so then with the new york post he has no financial dealings he goes on the record and says with russia. he said that during the why would i take a pardon off campaign. he said that again january 2017. the table? so it certainly would be significant in michael cohen >> it is worth remembering that
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does appear before a judge and one of the articles of says that he misled congress in impeachment against richard terms of what the president knew nixon included that the about trump tower, moscow and those efforts. of course, nothing ever came of president abused the pardon it. as we know, the deal fell apart. process. if you say to someone who is but there was a letter of intent signed by the president in 2015. potentially cooperating, don't but again the president cooperate because you will get a continually distancing himself pardon. >> even if you just message it saying he didn't know anything about it. michael cohen has come out. in that way through an interview. >> well, that becomes a hard in the past when he was trump's question. attorney, he no longer is, and obviously impeachment is a said he didn't know much about political process in the house it. we will have to wait and see of representatives. what michael cohen is going to but the issue of abuse of the pardon process as part of say in terms of pleading guilty to misleading congress. obstruction of justice is a real >> also, up until now at least one and certainly his comment to michael cohen has not -- yes, he the new york post raises that pled guilty to those eight issue. >> the politics here, the counts. he has not had a cooperation agreement with prosecutors in politics have and have always the southern district. been central to this do we know if that changes investigation, right? today? from a political standpoint, can because we know he's facing a sentencing on december 12th the president politically get where he could get 60 months in away with pardoning folks tied to himself in the midst of an prison. you have to serve 85% of it in a ongoing investigation with federal sentence.
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himself as a potential target of this investigation. >> it depends on what getting do we know if prosecutors from away with it means. if politically the president is the fdny or from mueller's team going to continue what we have seen in the midterm elections will say anything about the which is playing solely to his effectiveness of what he has base, almost ignoring the rest told them or how truthful they of the world and trying to tell the rest of the people like him, think it is? >> we're waiting to find out. stick with me, prospersy is there is no cooperation between around the corner, we will be michael cohen and robert mueller's team, even though fine, then, yes, some of his follows would forgive hymn mueller spent a significant time talking to him. anything. for everybody else, though, and he has also spoken to prosecutors in the southern politically speaking since district of new york about the that's how you asked it, i mean, other charges that he pleaded no, of course not. guilty to including, of course, going back to the watergate tax fraud and campaign finance template, at some point in violations. so the question is is this an '73/'74, the country woke up, effort to perhaps get more mostly while they were watching leniency ahead of his sentencing hearings in the house committee and started to realize that coming up on december 12th. there is something seriously it's unclear at this point who wrong here. will be present in that and i think something like that courtroom when michael cohen is more likely than not because, you know, when you are talking about pardoning people, you are does plead guilty to misleading dangling it. congress. that is something to watch out that is a problem legally for. robert mueller's team, their speaking, but it also suggests, reaction to this, and what led
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to this because presumably he well, manafort is not done. if you are talking about told congress what he told pardoning somebody who is in a congress. but we know robert mueller's position to commit more crimes, more deception, i think the team has already been looking into this issue, what the general public will look at this president knew about the trump and say this is not what we want tower deal and moscow. and so the question is is our president to be doing. through that investigation they were able to uncover that what >> i disagree, which must mean michael cohen has told congress didn't line up with the fact i'm wrong because errol is that they had from other communications from other people always right. but you say get away with it. involved in this investigation. and as michael cohen is pleading the question is will there ever been 67 votes in the senate to guilty to misleading congress? remove donald trump from office? we'll have to wait and see what my answer is no. nothing related to mueller will hatches on this front. ever get him to 67 votes in the >> we will know a lot more about senate. and that means he can get away how far he goes, about the with it. i mean, yes, he could get president's knowledge, et cetera, based on what he says in impeached like bill clinton was that courtroom but also how the special counsel views how impeached. but i don't see any scenario helpful his system has been. where 67 votes remove him. that's correct, right? he is making these statements >> you also don't see him as a president that would ever now in a courtroom here in new resign? >> no, never. so, look, we're obviously york. >> that's right. he is going to be in front of a playing -- we're playing -- federal judge pleading guilty to >> that's where the cards really this. and it's significant and unusual
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were. >> jeffrey, can i ask you about for this to happen, for this turn of events before someone is dan a's reporting yesterday on sentenced. some of the written answers that he has already pleaded guilty to the president gave to mueller eight counts of campaign finance and his team. in both of them on roger stone violation and tax fraud. and wikileaks and saying he has and now in a turn of events just no knowledge of the trump tower before his sentencing, he's meeting in 2016, the key phrase going to go before this federal in both of them was, to the best judge in a surprise appearance of my knowledge. and plead guilty to lying to >> to the best of my congress. so the question is what role did recollection, i believe. >> wouldn't it be pretty easy at robert mueller's team in this this point for mueller's team to and how will this impact moving confirm given how much they know forward? and will it shed any light on because they could say that manafort was the liar. the testimony that michael cohen has been giving to robert >> no, not necessarily. mueller's team, how helpful it i think it's hard to prove what has been as it pertains to people remember. president. you can imagine the president and in fairness to president and his legal team would be trump he has a lot of phone paying close attention to this because michael cohen knew the calls and a lot going on in his president very well. life over the last two years. he was his attorney for more than a decade. so to prove that someone he was one of his fiercest remembers a phone call is very difficult. that's why lawyers love that defenders and of course he came phrase, to the best of my out in court and said that he paid off the two women in recollection. >> unless there were multiple phone calls over time, right? part of this is does mueller ask campaign finance violation at the direction of the president. questions that he doesn't know that sort of up ended any legal
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the answer to, right? has he spoken to other witnesses defense agreement between the president, his team and michael and corroborated a line, cohen's team. but certainly the big question something that happened, he today is how has the testimony posed that question to the president because he has information to back up. michael cohen has given to >> not necessarily. this isn't a courtroom in front robert mueller's team impacted of a jury where according to the the president in this russia investigation. >> we will be getting those traditional rule you don't ask a reports from inside the question you don't know the answer to. courtroom. thanks very much. if you are simply trying to we have with us jeffrey toobin. collect information maybe you do ask questions you don't know the answer to. if, for example, roger stone and jeffrey, again, we will be donald trump are the only people getting more information here, clearly. we have someone inside the who are parties to this courtroom. we will share that once we know the details of that reporting. conversation and you don't trust but just on what we know now, he either one of them, how do you will say he misled congress. prove what was said? how do you prove what donald trump remembers about that? on when those discussions ended. i think it's very difficult and maybe impossible. he said january. >> all right. a lot more to discuss. now he says it goes all the way into june, a month before the thanks very much. we will be right back. ♪ republican convention when the president is the presumptive nominee. is it about abuse of the position? >> legal significance is you can't lie to congress.
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that's pretty straightforward. what it means for the president is a lot more complicated. i mean, you know, this is an investigation about whether donald trump was working with the russians to get himself elected. that's what this is about. that's what collusion means. and what the president has said over and over again is i have nothing to do with russia. introducing le vian links of love, here you have michael cohen only at jared. saying apparently that there visit for $100 off any le vian purchase. were discussions, negotiations, something. i mean, we'll see in court every road in the world is now an information superhighway. today. between the president and his -- (phone ringing) between the president's and the car has become an accessory to the smartphone. representation, at least, and ride hailing, car sharing, the russians in the middle of carpooling... the 2016 campaign at a time when mobility services are proliferating. and there's a new generation he was the extremely soliciting who don't seem to want to own cars in the first place. it all means massive disruption to the car industry, to vladimir putin. at a time when they changed the cities, businesses and investors. president platform at the i'm martyn briggs for bank of america merrill lynch. convention to make it more sympathetic to russia. >> and that, by the way, tied
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into ukraine as well. >> paul manafort, yes. >> the president has responded to russia's aggression against ukraine. let's remind people what michael cohen told congress behind closed doors when he said, look, all talk about a moscow trump tower ended in january 2016. he said because, quote, the proposal was not feasible for a variety of business reasons and should not be pursued further. now we know from this reporting that there are questions about the honesty of that and where it went and who was involved and who in russia was involved. as you look at this, pam noted how rare it is for him to be coming forward and saying, look, i did this. what do you think this means about a cooperation agreement? are we two weeks away from a sentencing? >> when cohen originally pleaded guilty, it was clear that he was trying to posture himself as someone who could help mueller.
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so the fact that he is doing this and clearly has information that's valuable to mueller is significant. i would say that the other significant thing here is that mueller has enough information to know that cohen lied to congress. and we have had many other people also testify in front of congress. and i think they should be very worried because if mueller gets a hold of those transcripts he clearly has intelligence of what actually went on and those people could be on the hook. >> this is ongoing as we speak. michael cohen's surprise appearance in the southern district of new york federal court there. we have a reporter inside the courtroom and our reporter in washington is getting color from inside the courtroom. tell us what you are hearing about what cohen is saying to the judge. >> well, jim, so we do have our colleague in the courtroom who is telling us that michael cohen has waived his right to an indictment which signals he is about to plead guilty, if he hasn't already. and what he is going to say he did according to our colleague
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there is that he made false statements regarding the moscow project and discussions about the trump tower moscow project. this was a project that cohen was involved with starting in the fall of 2015 when trump was beginning his presidential bid and that he told congress that it ended in january 2016, you know, when the president was really getting underway with his bid for the then candidate. but cohen is now saying that he lied about this. so the question is what did he lie about and what did the president know about this project. this was, though, a critical meeting. it was, as we have seen, michael cohen has provided cnn previously with the letter of intent about this deal that he has -- trump has signed in the end of 2015. and this was all plans to build a luxury condominium tower where they would make $4 million off that project. michael cohen has said to congress that he reached out to
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spokesmen for vladimir putin trying to get a deal, and he has told us previously that that had gone nowhere. so now we're learning that some of these statements that cohen had made were not true. we don't know the details of that yet, but it is likely playing out in court right now as cohen is pleading guilty. he already pleaded guilty in august to other offenses. that time he implicated the president. >> stay with us on this because we're just getting these alerts out of our colleague in the courtroom. and significant what she is reporting is that michael cohen is now saying that he had discussions about this project as late as august of 2017. >> that's after trump is already the republican nominee. >> august 2017. >> august 2017 after he's elected president. so this is even further than -- well, it's more than a year and a half beyond what he initially
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testified to congress. >> so our legal experts sitting next to us here, significant for the president. >> well, then you're getting into, as jeffrey mentioned earlier, you are now in a place where he is holding an office and has certain fiduciary duties to his office to, you know, to not be profiting from, you know, whatever leverage he has over foreign relations or anything that russia might want. and i think that this is really critical because i would like to know if any of the written questions that mueller presented to trump included questions in this vain. i expect that they did if michael cohen was already talking to them about this and if he lied about those questions dealing with trump tower, that could be a big question for him as well. >> let me give a big piece of context about this. i went to moscow and did a new yorker piece about the miss
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universe pageant which his business partners was the agilara family. the leader of that family is a big builder and sometimes called the donald trump of moscow. he was the person who wanted to build the trump tower in moscow. it is his son, the singer, who sets up the meeting in trump tower in june of 2016. so this is potentially a merger of the trump tower project, the miss universe pageant and michael cohen's efforts to make this happen. >> one, it would mean the president has not been truthable about his business involvement with russia. that gets the truth.
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the other bigger question here is influence, is it not? that there would be a personal incentive for the president if michael cohen is telling the truth here to play nicely with russia during the campaign. is that a correct legal -- >> it crosses any criminal mind remains to be seen. but just from a point of view of what the framers were worried about, they were worried about foreign influence. we see this in the e momolument clause. so to prove forward in particular ways that may or may not be into the country for personal gain -- >> just a note. this is coming in as we are speaking here. michael koe hcohen is testifyin we speak. we want to be clear, we're double checking that before we
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report that. what we do know is michael cohen testified those discussions did not end in january 2016, that they continued further into the campaign, at least into the summer when the president was the nominee. we want to flood that into your discussion. >> and the question that, you know, that has hovered over this whole russia investigation since the beginning is why is donald trump so soliciting of russia? what this represents is the possibility of something very simple, that there was money in it for donald trump, that there was money in a business relationship with russia that he cultivated by cultivating vladimir putin, including just a couple of months ago during that
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unforgettable press conference when he refused to criticize vladimir putin. >> or in the last 72 hours when he refused to condemn russia fo >> let's not forget that was after congress -- >> i just want to stop you there. things are trickling out in the courtroom. what we can say for sure on the record is that michael cohen is testifying he lied to congress about the talk ended in january 2016. we know from what he said this morning they went further. we just don't know how far. >> right, okay. but if they went passed the presidency, that was the time, along to go with what jeffrey said, that congress passed sanctions against russia which trump was very reluctant to sign and then later employment. >> but we do need to down the date. and that's very important. >> yeah, that is very important.
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>> no question. the significance of michael cohen's testimony here, so no cooperation agreement, but the fact is we know that he has spent many hours with the special counsel. we know in the public statements that michael cohen has said publically, he has told friends that he wants to reclaim his name and be on the right side of history here. having michael cohen who was so deeply involved with this president through his business dealings, personal dealings, women, payoffs, et cetera, but also dealings with russia, significance for the president? >> well, you know, this is the person who knows all the secrets. remember, what we first started looking at michael cohen about in terms of the president's potential culpability are the pay offs to stormy dan yes, ma'am and karen mcdougal. the question of whether those were unlawful remains out there. this is an entirely separate and
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perhaps more incriminating line of questioning. >> let's go back to washington. pam, what have you learned? >> so the dates here are really important because now we know michael cohen has come before this judge in new york and pleaded guilty to misleading congress. and it has to do with this trump tower moscow, this deal that had been in the works that fell through. but what's critical here is that previously he told congress that the deal ended in january of 2016. of course, that was before donald trump was the presumptive presidential republican nominee. now he is saying that actually he was working on it through august of 2016. so even through the summer of 2016, this was after donald trump was the presumptive republican nominee. not only that, what's clear here is the that the president was made aware of discussions michael cohen was having with russian officials as it pertains to trump tower moscow throughout this time, which also conflicts
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with what michael cohen has done publically and has said to congress. he said that then candidate trump was never briefed when the deal fell apart in january. he concluded it wasn't viable to pursue. but we're finding out that actually those talks did continue between cohen and russian officials and donald trump was made aware of those talks. now, the president, as we know, has publically said that he had no dealings with russia. in fact, in january of 2017 he said, look, i have no past deals with russia, nothing financial. no financial relationships. so of course this raises questions because now we're learning that the president was aware that candidate trump was aware of these discussions between his personal attorney, michael cohen at the time and russian officials about building a trump tower in moscow. >> thanks very much. we have a big team following
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this story. and the news is coming across. outside the kocourthouse, what you know about michael cohen's testimony? >> to this point, we know he has spoken in court. what they are doing is what they are doing in all these kinds of proceedi in proceeding. you read information. it goes from -- instead of him facing an indictment what we're told is that he was discussing about his waiver to basically face an indictment. so now they are going through that process. the big news here, obviously, is that he's inside this courtroom in lower manhattan. it is a federal courthouse. the u.s. attorneys are here inside with his attorneys as well. and he was speaking before the judge. last time michael cohen was here, he was at a different courthouse. this one also a federal courthouse. however, just a different location. he's on the fourth floor here inside this building, we're told. he arrived just around 9:00 a.m. or so. that's where the proceedings are
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basically taking place right now. we're waiting to learn more, obviously, and we're waiting to see if he comes out and says anything or if his attorneys say anything. but significant nonetheless is that he's inside this courtroom. it looks like proceedings are underway. he is at the very least at this point has waived an indictment and proceeding are underway. all indications are that he is pleading guilty here. that's what's happening at this point, jim. >> thanks very much. i know we will continue to get updates from inside the courtroom. this is ongoing as we speak, and we're learning nuggets of information as they come out of michael cohen's mouth and special counsel representatives who are in that courtroom as well. >> let's talk again about the timing here and just remind people if you are just joining us that michael cohen is admitting that he lied to congress about something very significant, and this comes two weeks before he is sentenced. >> he's not going to be sentenced.
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that's the day that will certainly be -- that will certainly be delayed. >> why? >> because he's cooperating. he may not have a formal cooperation agreement. but there is no way he is going to be sentenced on december 12th. that date will be pushed out, i am certain, for not weeks but months. i mean, this is something they are going to want to keep on hold. >> so on that point, the man who again said he would take a bullet for the president now clearly providing significant information, admitting to another crime, lying to congress. do you believe that now he most likely will have a normal cooperation agreement. >> i don't know. >> and why does that matter or not matter? >> at this stage, i'm not sure how much that matters. >> okay. >> what matters is that he's cooperating. >> right. >> the precise contours of his legal status i think matters far less than the fact that he is giving all this testimony that is both contradictory to what he
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said under oath and publically before and contrary to the president's interest. that's what's significant. you know, how and when he's sentenced, i don't think is -- we know yet. it is not as important. but the fact that he has now turned into such an important witness against donald trump, that's highly significant. if i could add a weird personal note on this. i did this piece in the new yorker about the president's relationship with the miss universe pageant and the family, and i had a memorable conversation with michael cohen where he screamed at me that there was nothing going on between the president and the russians after january. so he was lying to me as well as lying to congress. obviously, it is no crime to lie to me.
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but it is certainly indicative of he had a consistent story that he was telling during this period. not that long ago. this is just earlier this year. he's obviously changed his tune in a very big way. >> we have elliot on as well. and you got a lot of experience in courtrooms like this. i want to ask you this question. witnesses like this don't show up in a courtroom and make statements like this willy nilly. what does this say about how the special counsel views michael cohen's testimony here? because i presume the special counsel would attempt to corroborate it before they go before a judge and the special counsel is expected in this hearing to give something of a review of his testimony, right, as to whether he finds it credible. is that a correct impression? >> exactly right, jim. this means they are at the end of the vetting process or the proffering process. this means the southern district
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and/or mueller's office sat with cohen for many hours. they have heard what he has to say and been able to vet it. you can never fully corroborate it. but if you want an example of this going the opposite direction, look at manafort. they looked at what he told them and concluded this is not true or something we can bank on. that cooperation blew up. this is the other scenario. we have been through the process with cohen. they backed up what he has to say. they're confident to go in and sign him up. that's what i believe we will see today in the southern district. >> thank you. stay with us. are you still with us? all right. kara, are you still with us? >> yes. >> okay. you were the one who was in the courtroom the first time that michael cohen pled. and now we're waiting to find
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out more of what he is saying. but what is the most significant thing that you gleam so far off of this reporting? >> for instance, cohen is saying that the deal fizzled out in january of 2016. now we're learning that these conversations continued much later, much deeper into the trump campaign for the presidency. and when it appeared he was winning or you're going to win. and at the time, trump was making all these public statements that he had no dealings with russia. he was making statements that were contrary to the rest of the republican packet, that there should be less hostile relations with russia. now we're learning that during this time his business was looking still to make a lucrative business deal with the russians. it at a minimum shows a conflict there not known to the american voters at the time he was running. our understanding is that trump was apprised of these negotiations. and, so, this is not something that was being revealed. it went more into the general
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knowledge. not that it is necessarily criminal, but just the fact that trump was engaging in these business discussions and his personal attorney, royal, long-time fixer was engaged in these conversations with the russians which would require the engagement of the russian government to an extent. and so, you know, this is also just another kind of remarkable turn from the relationship deteriorating between michael cohen and donald trump. when i was in court in august and cohen pled guilty, he implicated donald trump in these campaign finance violations saying that he had help or facilitated the payments to stormy daniels and karen in coordination with donald trump. this really just shows how this relationship has changed and how, you know, cohen is potentially now a good, valuable witness to the special counsel's investigation. i think the point that you made earlier about this is part of
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the written questions that trump had to respond to. >> it's a good point. it to remind our viewers, michael cohen already implicated the president in a crime. that is about misuse of campaign funds. this goes back a number of weeks now. to the best of our knowledge, what cohen is saying now is that the discussions of this trump tower moscow project continued well into the campaign in 2016 to the best of our knowledge. explain to viewers how that would be significant, to have a oh from a legal perspective. set aside the politics for a moment here. to have an american presidential candidate who at that point is the presumptive republican nominee for president continue to discuss personal business in russia while russia is interfering in election campaign. >> right. so this is somebody who may assume the office.
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what mueller is investigation, as jeffrey mentioned earlier, is whether there was an effort from russia to assist the campaign in any way. this could be both with the dirt from hillary clinton's e-mail. but if there was also a monetary enticement, the question is what was russia getting in return. and before trump becomes the nominee or president or when he becomes the nominee, we know, for example, that the rnc platform on ukraine changes. this is something that trump was asked about. this is something that manafort might have been implicated in. and then we have this trump tower meeting about the sanctions. the question is is there some kind of quid pro quo that's developing that somehow gets, you know, developing further, perhaps, even afterwards. >> jeffrey, we obviously have a life courtroom outside the courtroom here in lower manhattan. hopefully we will hear from michael cohen's attorney. what is the most important
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question you would ask michael cohen today? >> did donald trump have financial interest in russia while he was a presidential candidate? >> that's your question. >> yeah. we have politicians who have views on countries. and, you know, we have someone who is running for president with a foreign policy agenda. was that based on his views of the interest of the united states or was it based on his personal financial interest. >> jeffrey, as you have been speaking there, we now have the court documents from this filing and our colleague pamela brown has been reading through them. united states versus michael cohen. here it is in front of us. give us the headlines, pamela. >> and there are a few headlines, just as i read through these court documents. now we know that michael cohen has told a judge in these court documents, misled congress saying that the trump power moscow project wrapped up in january 2016 before the iowa caucus when that wasn't the
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case. it went on through the summer of 2016. in these documents, donald trump appears to be individual one. and it says that cohen discussed it multiple times with individual one on more than the three occasions that he had claimed previously. as you will recall he previously said he only talked to donald trump three times and it was just for a few minutes. well now according to these court documents that wasn't the case. there were many more discussions and that he briefed family members of individual one, as we believe to be donald trump, within the company about the project. what also stands out to me and what contradicts his previous testimony to congress is cohen agreeing to travel to russia in connection with this project and the fact that he took steps in contemplation of donald trump's possible travel to russia. he had previously said there wasn't a consideration to go to russia. so now we're finding out not only was there consideration,
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not only was there an agreement, but also contemplation for donald trump to go to russia. this is all happening when donald trup wmp was running for president. you may ask why. according to these court documents, this is the why. to minimize leaks between the moscow project and individual one. it appears to be donald trump. to give the false impression that the moscow project ended before the iowa caucus and the very first primary in hopes of limiting the ongoing russia investigation. and so clearly michael cohen, according to these court documents and according to what he told a federal judge had misled congress so that it didn't look bad on donald trump at the time that this deal was ongoing while he was the presumptive republican presidential nominee. but now we're finding out that donald trump was briefed about this project while he was the republican nominee and his
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family members were briefed and now we're finding out about a discussion for donald trump to go to russia. it also puts more of donald trump's comments when he talks favorably about vladimir putin. people had criticized him for not being harder on russia. we're learning that michael cohen is but what's really fascinating about this jim and poppy, is the fact that now michael cohen could be the most dangerous witness to the president and the presidency in this russia probe, a man who said he would take a bullet for donald trump now coming out and providing this damning information to the court. >> pamela brown. thank you. let's just highlight the two points we learned from this court document. michael cohen testifying as the court documents say that discussions of trump tower moscow continued up and through
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june 2016, the month before trump won the republican nominee at the convention but what's the presum tiff nominee at the time. he says directly quoting this document that he had -- he discussed this at least three times with the president as well as trump family members. that is the key information in these documents. we to have shimon prokupecz outside the federal court house in manhattan. what are you learning there? >> reporter: so the proceedings are now over. we expect that michael cohen will come out. he may speak. we may hear from him as he comes out but the court proceedings are over. what we've seen are some of the fbi agents, some of the senior fbi agents come out who have been working this case, some of the u.s. attorney staff come out of the we're just now waiting for michael cohen to leave with his attorney as well as some of the u.s. attorneys. but obviously a lot of people now starting to gather outside this courthouse. there's extra security that was
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brought in. you see some u.s. marshals of the steps here and so essentially now we're just waiting really to see if michael cohen will speak to us and what he will say but the proceedings are over we're told so we should see him coming out here shortly. >> okay. let us know when he does and we'll jump right back there. we know michael cohen has also pled guilty to making false statements and that would obviously be this, you know -- to congress. jeffrey toobin, all right -- here comes michael cohen down the steps. you see his attorney as well. we're watching to see if they make any remarks. there he is. >> michael cohen! >> mr. cohen will continue to cooperate. >> mr. cohen, how are you feeling? how are you feeling? sir, do you want to say anything? are you happy?
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mr. cohen? >> come this way. >> as expected. >> thank you. all right. so not a word from michael cohen there who has pleaded guilty there in federal court in lower manhattan to lying to congress. however we just heard from his attorney, jeffrey toobin come back in with me and jim, what was really significant was the few words that was said, michael cohen has cooperated and will continue to cooperate. to your point, jeff? >> this is, you know, a collapsing story that -- remember, the core of donald trump's view -- donald trump's statements about his
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relationship with russia, business relationship with russia is at any time have one, that there was nothing there and here we have michael cohen saying, under oath, admitting that he lied previously saying, there was this business relationship and it was going on during the campaign, during the time that the candidate trump now president trump was making all these overtures to vladimir putin and to russia and the question that has always been is why. why was donald trump so solicitus of russia and michael cohen's statements here suggest the reason was money? the reason was, donald trump had business interests with russia during the 2016 campaign. >> as we look at the documents, i just want to correct something i said earlier. he said he briefed the president who was identify at individual one. actually more than three occasions because he says more than the three occasions that he
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had claimed to the committee so this was pursued multiple times as well as family members. asha rangappa again, the trump story and the cohen story is falling apart, this idea that those discussions ended, that there was no business back and forth during the campaign, in fact, says cohen testifying under oath here into june multiple briefings with the president and family members. so they were aware, he says. >> absolutely. and this is the first time where we're seeing the president referenced in one of these documents as being a direct as a fact in direct communication, individual one. in the corsy statements of facts he's a peripheral person. here he's direct. i think we know what the president answered to mueller in writing about this because that is going to be a big problem. >> can i just -- along those lines, it is not a coincidence, i submit to you as the lawyers say, that all of this is
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happening after the president has submitted those statements under oath because if they had -- if he had made those statements knowing that michael cohen was pleading guilty and acknowledging all of this, his statements might have been very different. so i think the timing of this is extremely significant. >> as well as with manafort. >> yes. >> to be clear with what you're saying there, cohen's testimony, of course, contradicts the president's written answers, to your knowledge. >> we don't know. >> cnn's reporting is he denied -- that's on some other. he denied knowledge of the trump tower meeting and other things. >> correct. >> you're saying no coincidence is coming out now. does that presume that mueller knows that the president has not been truthful on this issue? >> by delaying cohen's deal until now, it didn't give the president a chance to align his written answers with whatever
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cohen said. >> he's locked in. he's locked in. >> that's the point. we don't know if this makes a liar -- at least in his sworn testimony but he's locked in his testimony. >> just on one point, i want to clarify here as we're all reading through this in realtime. these are the charges against michael cohen. >> yes. >> and he in court just pled guilty. when we're reading you parts of these of -- this is what the special counsel -- this is what the prosecutors are saying we have found out that this happened, these are not michael cohen's words. >> no. they are not michael cohen's words but they are a summary of his version -- >> this matches michael cohen's version is what i'm trying to make very clear to everyone. >> yes. michael cohen is acknowledging what is written in this document which is called an information -- >> is all true. >> yes. >> an interesting point here as
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well, pamela mentioned this, it speaks about cohen making plans to travel to russia and according to the court documents again here, to travel to st. petersburg for the forum there, russia's davos equivalent in june, 16th to the 19th. so not discussions up into june but discussions to travel to russia to talk about this project. >> let's start to put these pieces together. george papadopoulos, one of the charges for him was that he was continuing to try to arrange some kind of trip for trump to go to russia. so we're starting to get a bigger picture of not only what these people were doing, you know, separately, but also what mueller knows to be true which is key and again, other people testified to congress, which means that mueller is not afraid to charge them with lying to congress if he has facts that show that they lied. >> smart point.
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>> as -- have you been given a copy of this ellie. >> i followed along, yea. >> so what stands out to you the most? you have the date which is very significant for the reasons we've laid out why these conversations went through june of 2016, why that matters, okay? >> yea. >> and why when he lied about it that matters, but secondly, the fact that it why cohen in this information is admitting that he lied when he told congress that he had no conversations with individual one being the president or any of his family members about the trump tower moscow project. >> reporter: so this document, this information in today's plea is the second shoe to drop. the first shoe was back in august when cohen took a straight plea. there was some surprise at the time. wow. this is a regular plea but not cooperation. those issues relating to entang ntments to russia, false testimony, all of those could be used to make false statement
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cases against other people who have testified in front of congress. the other important thing that jumps out with me, cooperation in the southern districts but particularly in the southern district where i used to work, it is all or nothing and that goes both ways. that means the cooperator, michael cohen, has to admit and plead guilty to everything he's done or all the big things he's done and i think we saw the completion of that today. on the flip side, the prosecution team gets to know everything -- and use everything michael cohen knows. so, yes, the financial entanglements with russia, yes the false statements with congress but everything else too, the campaign violations relaying to the payoff to stormy daniels, the trump tower meeting, what cohen knows about that, whether trump knew about it, so cohen's an open book now and what we learned today is that the southern district and mueller are ready to bank on him. >> thanks very much. this is cnn breaking news.
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top of the hour now and quite an hour in the news here. i'm jim scuitto in new
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