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tv   CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto  CNN  November 29, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST

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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. top of the hour now and quite an hour in the news here. i'm jim scuitto in new york. >> and i'm poppy harlow.
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president trump's former lawyer michael cohen this morning just moments ago pleaded guilty in federal court in lower manhattan, guilty to lying to congress. cohen now admits that he deliberately gave a false timeline of the trump organization's attempts to build a trump tower in moscow. >> he had maintained a congressional committees reporters to others that he working for trump abandoned a potential big moscow real estate project in january of 2016. he now says that contacts with potential russian partners continued for months afterwards, up into june 2016 after donald trump was the republican nominee for president. we have teams of reporters in washington and new york. let's begin with cnn's pam brown. i know you've been looking through these court documents here. just an enormous amount of news that contradicts, frankly, a story the president's been
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telling for some time. >> this is the president's former attorney for more than a decade now pleading guilty to misleading congress about what donald trump knew concerning this trump tower moss skou deal that was in the works during the presidential campaign. now it never actually went through but what is significant here is that michael cohen is saying he misled congress on the dates. he said initially to congress in 2017 that the deal fell apart in january of 2016. well, now he is saying, according to these court documents that actually there were discussions about this deal with russian officials through june of 2016, around the time that donald trump is republican presidential nominee. also he says that he wasn't truthful in terms of what donald trump knew. he initially had told congress that there were three conversations with donald trump about this, but in these court documents it says that there were conversations on more than three occasions and that he also
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briefed family members of donald trump within the company, the trump organization about this project. also we're learning that he wasn't truthful about plans to travel to washington. he told congress there weren't plans to travel to russia and now according to these court documents, not only was there a plan in the works for him to go to russia but there was contemplation for donald trump to go to russia and the why is also listed in these court documents. michael cohen saying he wanted to protect donald trump and that is why he misled congress saying that he wanted 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. now this is significant for a number of reasons. the president has said he had no dealings with russia and we know that in the recent questions submitted to donald trump and his team from robert mueller includes questions about trump
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tower moscow. what the president, then candidate trump knew about it? what's key here is that there was no legal defense agreement during the time with michael cohen and his team while the president was going over these questions. that agreement fell through months ago and so the president's legal team was working with what michael cohen has only said to congress and said publicly, so you can imagine that robert mueller and his team will be comparing notes on what the president said in his responses to robert mueller and what we're now learning from michael cohen in these court documents about the trump tower project during the campaign. >> its a great point pamela. that's what happens now, compare with what witness says under sworn testimony to what another says. i just want to note this because this is just into cnn. there was no response yet. we've reached out to trump's attorneys and no comment yet and
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no tweet yet from the president himself. we'll be watching for it. >> the president in the past has tried to discredit michael cohen. we'll let you know as soon as we know. let's go to our colleagues outside of the courthouse. moments ago if our viewers are just joining us, michael cohen, his attorneys, walked down those stairs and his attorney said michael cohen has cooperated and will continue to cooperate. it is hard to overstate the significance of that. >> reporter: it is. you can't overstate the significance of that. you can't overstate the significance of today that yet again someone has come here, yes, its michael cohen and it basically admitted to lying to investigators, this time it was congressional investigators on behalf of the president, trying to hide, trying to protect the president. you have michael cohen who came into court here today. you have this information that was now been filed with the court, which details the reason
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why he lied, what he was trying to do here. look, this is all extremely significant and probably what's on michael cohen's mind as he left court today, he didn't say anything. it was his attorney who spoke saying that he's going to continue to cooperate and clearly what we see here is that investigators, fbi agents, i saw some of the senior level people here from the new york fbi that have been running this case from the beginning walk out, what this tells us is that they're believing a lot of what he's saying and that is significant and certainly does not bode well for the president, does not bode well for people with the trump organization and any other deals that michael cohen may have been involved in. the other thing to consider is, what will michael cohen get out of this? will he get a lenient sentence or could this significantly reduce the amount of jail time that he's been facing? that's going to be an interesting development as we go here. he's due for sentencing on december 12th. it'll be interesting to see if
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the government files a letter on his behalf essentially asking the judge for some leniency because he's continuing to cooperate. we could also see his sentencing delayed around that time because he could be continuing to cooperate, but nonetheless, a significant day -- just when we think things may be winding down in this investigation, it looks like that's probably not going to happen now as things just continue to develop and things just continue to surprise us certainly for those of us that have been covering this for such a long period of time now that time and time again new developments occur, new surprises and nonetheless today a huge development, a significant move here by michael cohen to continue to cooperate and to continue really to go against the president in this investigation. >> its like a world war. they say it'll be done by christmas. how many times have we heard that? we should note that the president is about to leave for
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a significant international summit in minutes and, of course, we'll bring you that live if the president comments on this when he's going to be meeting the russian president vladimir putin, that meeting now confirmed, a number of others and he'll be going there with this development hanging over his head. evan perez has been covering this for a long time and evan, i understand its your reporting that the president's lawyers and the president himself have been bracing themselves for a new revelation as it were from michael cohen. >> they have seen as we reported that michael cohen was having these sessions, these interviews with the special counsel, with the prosecutors from the southern district of new york. we saw pictures of him going into his attorneys' office where they were having these hours and hours of interviews with the prosecutors and so they knew that something was coming and so they were bracing for it. what they didn't know was exactly what michael cohen would be claiming and, look, what we've heard just in the days
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before today was that they believed that -- what their point is, is that michael cohen is a liar. they are going to claim that michael cohen cannot be believed now, that the president as pamela has mentioned, he's having to answer these questions about the trump tower/moscow project as part of his written responses to the mueller investigators and he is telling the truth. that's what the trump lawyers are going to claim, that the president has been telling the truth all along and that michael cohen now is lying. so we can -- we don't know and don't have an official response yet from the president's lawyers but i think that gives you an inkling of what you can expect to see because they are going to make the point that michael cohen is not to be believed, he lied before, he is an admitted liar and so that's what you can expect to hear from them. look, this is a remarkable development here simply because what we're learning, if michael cohen's story is to be believed,
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this version of the story tells us that donald trump in 2016 was doing these business deals and it appears that he and his sons and his family did not expect to win this election, so they were setting up businesses, they were setting up businesses projects in russia for after the election. so even as they're getting ready for the republican convention, he's about to assume the mantle as the nominee for the republican party in cleveland in july of 2016, he is preparing for after the election. he's preparing for business, big business, in moscow after the election and the russians are encouraging it, including someone very close to vladimir putin, according to cohen. he's talking to someone -- the press secretary for the president, daniel peskov. it gives us a window into what was going on into the trump campaign and certainly the trump family in 2016, guys. >> okay. and we're going to get more on peskov and the person named as individual two in this
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information, because that's significant. but first i want our lawyers to weigh in on what evan just told us. >> i think evan is clearly correct that the response is going to be that michael cohen is a liar, he's trying to save his own skin. that's going to be the response from the trump camp, however, one problem trump is going to have or that trump lawyers or whoever is responding is going to have is that in this document its not just michael cohen's statements that are referred to. there are emails here about the continuing negotiations over trump tower in may of 2016 after the iowa caucuses, after donald trump is the presurfi -- nomine. trump forces are going to have to explain if he's making all this up that the deal was still going on, why is there emails about the deal in may of 2016? >> the president and his
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supporters call everyone who contradicts the president a liar or there's this new line of argument that even people who have pleaded guilty to lying were forced to lie or that someone like paul manafort -- you've heard this story. these are the things that circulate that paul manafort was encouraged by the special counsel to lie and that's why he's not cooperating. either they're lying or they're being told to lie or they're being tried to force to lie so you have to take that argument with a grain of salt as well. >> your thoughts on that. >> the end people want to know how will this affect the president directly. does it create criminality and charges for the president? just looking at this, if what cohen says is true and he was in contact with the president, which obviously he would have been about a trump organization major project in moscow, did the president percentager himself? was he aware that cohen was going to testify before congress about the trump tower and was he
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aware -- >> allow it to happen? >> not only that, its hard for me to believe that michael cohen, the president's personal attorney would be appearing before congress to testify about projects involving the trump organization without having discussed what he was going to say with the president. if the president had such discussions with him, encouraged him to testify falsely about those projects, that's the crime of subordination of perjury which is both a state and federal crime. >> in terms of precedent here, you remember when the trump -- june 2016 trump tower meeting came out, i'm not this is supporting perjury, we know the president participated in putting out a misleading statement as to what that meeting was about when we know that -- they went into the meeting expecting dirt on hillary clinton. when you look at michael cohen here, he has said publicly many times that he wants to make his name right, that he acknowledges -- excuse me.
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let's interrupt because we have senator mark warner speaking now responding. >> i'm not going to comment on that this individual made before our committee. we've kept that confidential but obviously mr. cohen was one of the witnesses that we've always wanted to have come back and that need goes up. >> did you refer his testimony to the special counsel? >> again, its already in the public domain that referrals had been made from our committee to the special prosecutor but we're not going to talk about any individuals. >> does this make michael cohen a less reliable witness for robert mueller that he admitted that he lied to your committee? >> well, there seems to be a trend here amongst so many of the president's closest allies, that they don't tell the truth, although you've also got a white house that seems on a daily
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basis not to have its facts straight -- >> does this -- >> we still have a number of witnesses to see and a number of witnesses that are some of the key names, key individuals that we -- the chairman and i are working through on how we get them to come back, because just as our investigation has to finish and we owe the american public as much of the truth as we've been able to discovery, it also is just one more reinforcing indication why the mueller investigation has to be allowed to continue unimpeded and i just don't believe that the current acting attorney general mr. whitaker has the temperament and also the bias to oversee that investigation and one of the things we don't know, for example, is we've not been able to hear back from the justice department whether whitaker has ever received an ethics review of whether he should recuse himself from that
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investigation. >> but does this new information learned from michael cohen, does that factor in to the people that you will call and will you call some people again? >> again, i'm not going to get into the witnesses of who we've called, who we continue to intend to call, but as we continue to see this rollout of close trump allies plead guilty almost always due to their trying to hide their ties with russia and russians and the russians' attempt to infiltrate the trump campaign, i think there's more story to be told. >> if mueller knows or was able to prove that cohen lied to your committee, what does that tell you about how much more he knows or where that investigation is right now? >> i think it seems like it was ages ago, but it was only in august when mr. cohen decided to work with the special prosecutor.
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my understanding some level of working together, and i think we've all felt that michael cohen has a lot of information that i hope he shares with the special prosecutor and one of the reasons why we think he needs to come back. >> in his hearing just now cohen said that he made these false statements to be consistent with individual ones messaging, individual one being the president. what does this tell you about the president? >> well, i've not read, i just got the headlines from rachel about what he said, but let's face it of the you've got all these close associates of the president, one after another, pleading guilty, often pleading guilty about their ties to russia and russians and what are they covering up for? and we also have a white house that still seems just obsessed about this investigation. if anything the president has
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said is true, that there's no there there, why are all his closest associates being found guilty of lying about their ties to russia? >> the president is still talking about leaving pardons on the table. he hasn't ruled it out. how much does that concern you that pardons are being only be stused at the white house? >> that would be a complete abuse of power, the power of the pardon is not ever been used to protect a president and his family and, again, we've seen from this white house, again and again, disregard for rule of law. when we see that disregard for rule of law and if we were to go out and pardon some of these individuals that might potentially implicate him or his family, congress would have to act. thank you, all. >> senator -- >> all right. we heard senator mark warner there, the ranking member on the
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senate intelligence committee and we should note that in all the divisive politics of washington, the senate intel committee, the republicans and democrats have worked pretty hand in hand on doing a full russia investigation on the senate side there and quite a comment there from mark warner, and if there is no there there, to this investigation, why did the president's aides keep lying under testimony? i understand pamela brown who's been covering this for some time, something to add on senator mark warner's comments there. >> just the overall context of what this means, the fact that these are charges filed by the special counsel notably not sdny because publicly the understanding was that mueller's team handed this case over to sdny the southern district in new york to investigate michael cohen, but now through this charge and through the admission in court from michael cohen's attorney that cohen is
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cooperating, this gives you a sense that robert mueller's team is very much in the game as it pertains to michael cohen and the russia investigation and how this might impact president trump. so i think that that is noteworthy because the initial narrative when all of this happened with michael cohen, you remember the raid on his office on his home, the reporting then was that everything had been handed off to sdny. there had been reporting since then that he had talked to mueller's investigators, but its significant that now the special counsel has filed this charge that he knowingly misled congress and it shows that the special counsel is very much involved with michael cohen and the russia investigation and president trump. so that is certainly significant here. >> i'm so glad that you pointed that out to everyone, pamela brown. it is incredibly significant. stand by. let's go to our colleague in washington after reading through this, a key question in it kara
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is who individual two named in this information and the significance of individual two as it pertains to the proposal for this trump tower in moscow. what can you tell us? >> the information only identifies this person as individual two, but we know that the key person that michael cohen had been collaborating with on building the trump tower moscow project based on emails that are already public is this guy name felix sadder. he's a very interesting character. he has a long history with the trump organization. he helped them build a project in florida and also the trump tower soho building in new york. he once carried a business card. in depositions donald trump has tried to -- trump has distanced himself from seder but its very clear that he's been an integral part of the organization on particular projects. what we're learning is that michael cohen's communications with seder continued well past january like what cohen told the
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congress and he was negotiating with seder about traveling to moscow, he was talking with him in the lobby of the trump tower hotel according to the information in may of 2016 and june of 2016 to try to get this trip over the ground that is right before the convention, and their discussing conversations that they're having with the russian government -- at least in january. seder has been cooperating with the special counsel's investigation. he has said that he's turned over every text and email and he's a longtime government cooperator. he was charged in the late 1990s in a stock manipulation scheme and has been a government cooperator for decades since then, poppy. >> all right. so, felix seder not a house hold name but significant given his cooperation here and the naming individual two in this information. "the new york times" as you'll remember not long ago reported that a series of emails from felix seder to michael cohen and let me quote from one of those
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emails, okay. quote, our boy can become president of the united states and we can engineer it. he went on to write, i will get all of putin's team to buy in on this. i will manage this process. and in "the washington post" has reported in a statement to the house intelligence committee, cohen did admit to writing to dimitry pescov in connection with felix seder's work. >> that's right, poppy. what we learned from the information today is that cohen's conversations with peskov's office continued. he had told congress that he never heard back. what we're learning from the information is he had at least one 20 minute conversation with one of peskov's assistance and he had told her that he wanted help to move this project forward. he wanted to talk to her about financing the project and this is the russian government and this is occurring during the campaign while trump is publicly saying he has no ties but michael cohen is working with felix seder and there's even
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another email exchange where seder is trying to get cohen on the phone and he says to him, its about, you know, the president of russia and that's why he needs to talk to him. so there's an ongoing discussion between cohen and seder. seder is of russian descent. he is trying to maneuver either cohen traveling to moscow or even the candidate after the convention, so this is a very integral part of how they're trying to continue this project while the campaign's going on. >> it gets to the two points of why this testimony's significant, one, it contradicts the president on this, but two, it raises serious hard questions about influence, russian influence, offers of influence, financial interests, et cetera. so many questions to deal with. we are reading these documents as they come out. please stay with us. we'll be right back. than to r.
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welcome back. if you're just joining us, significant bras theaking news morning. michael cohen has said in federal court that he lied to congress about a very, very critical thing and that is when discussions of building a trouble tower in moscow extended to the president. we know -- the president we know is speaking to reporters right now on the south lawn. before we get that, though, let's listen to adam schiff, the ranking democrat currently in the house intelligence committee, the presumptive chair and his reaction to all of this
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this morning. >> well, if mr. cohen misled the congress about the president's business dealings in russia deep into the campaign, it also means that the president misled the country about his business dealings and that the russians were, apparently, attempting to gain financial leverage over the potential president of the united states. this is just underscores how important it is for us to finish the investigation, to determine what financial links the russians have to the president and the trump organization, to determine whether they continue to hold leverage, so clearly we have a lot more work to be done and just as clearly, the president has misled the country about huz financial dealings with the russians. >> so how important is it at this juncture this development? >> i think its very important. it shows that certainly mr. cohen is providing deep cooperation with the special counsel even as mr. manafort is
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not. what more mr. cohen has to say, we don't know. we would be very interested at the appropriate time in inviting mr. cohen to come back to our committee to share any additional information and incites to clarify his prior testimony, so there's a lot more that warrants investigation here. >> adam schiff making two points, one it gets to possible lying by the president but also possible russian attempts to hold leverage over the president as he was the presumptive nominee. >> and he'll have the power to subpoena more people when he chairs that committee come january. >> absolutely. shan wu who represented a defendant prior in this case, the former deputy chairman in the trump campaign, your reaction to what you've heard today. >> this is really a huge development and in skimming over this information, i was particularly struck by paragraph
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seven, in particular, 7 a, in which it references the fact that there had been the multiple discussions with individual one, of course, but also with family members who were inside the company. so that's, i think, very, very important. and then also in 7b sub-1, it talks about cohen having had discussions about the business travel to moscow with a senior campaign official. so, of course, curious who that might be, could it be paul manafort? >> very good points. stay with us. evan perez joins us again. let's talk about the significance of the timing here because timing always matters. it matters that cohen lied about the timing of discussions about this potential project in moscow and the significance of the timing of cohen's guilty plea coming after, after, the president submitted his written answers to mueller's questions. >> that's right, poppy. there was a great deal of paranoia close to the president in the week before thanksgiving, that's when he was preparing to
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send in his written answers to the mueller team, those questions that the special counsel had sent in some weeks earlier and there was paranoia simply because there were a couple things that came out including the fact that jerome corsi appeared to be close to a plea agreement that named the president, they were mad about that. julian assange was revealed to be under a sealed indictment. mueller must have something up his sleeve and we don't know what it is and we're about to send in some answers to these questions and now we see that sometimes paranoia is for a reason, because it turns out that they were working on this and now we see that the president now has responded to the mueller questions. the question is, were his answers about this trump tower project, were those answers matching the earlier statements from michael cohen or do they match the current statements from michael cohen? clearly, the special counsel and the prosecutors of the justice department believe the new
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michael cohen's version of events and if that conflicts with what the president says, that bodes very badly for the president. this is a bad, no good, terrible day for the president, i can tell you, and you can see why they were very worried about what mueller had up its sleeve. >> jeffrey toobin made a point that this document indicates there's more than just michael cohen's testimony to back up his version of the story. there were emails, et cetera, robert mueller and his team, they're a team that crosses its ts and dots its i.'s. i want to go back to asha rangappa. the president will attack michael cohen's credibility, no question. cohen's answer to that is, listen, i lied before and now i want to make it right. this is my duty to family and country. he wants to be the john dean who nixon white house lawyer who then turned states evident and served prison time. he wants to be the john dean of the story, is that right?
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>> yea. the proof is in the pudding when mueller can use his information and if he continues to cooperate and mueller finds his information valuable, that's going to be what's telling. now, remember, cohen is the guy who knows where the bodies are buried metaphorically speaking, of course, and beyond this, just think about what he might be able to verify or not verify. cohen is mentioned in the steele dossier, he could, you know, dispute -- he could start to, you know, cross out things that are true and not true that are still in speculation. >> remember, that prague trip is something that michael cohen has denied publicly in the most vehement terms. i've never been to prague, its all made up. is that operative that statement still? that's a question that we'd want answered. remember, this just shows that its all connected because the
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wikileaks effort which is what prague relates to was another attempt by russia to ingrashate itself with the trump campaign. here you have financial interests of the president or the candidate trump and his family in russia, and the question that hovers over all of this that is just so important, which is, was donald trump doing the nation's business with russia or is he doing his family's personal financial business with russia? >> even if a deal doesn't come to fruition, it is still important the discussions about a potential deal that can be financial beneficial to the then presumptive nominee is being talked about. >> exactly. it deals with the question of motive. >> right. >> why is he solicitous of trump -- of putin? >> we're waiting for the president's comments on all this. we'll take a short break and be right back. ♪
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we're back with our breaking news. >> we have pamela brown with new information about what the special counsel says about michael cohen's cooperation with the investigation. pam, what are you hearing? >> the special counsel saying today that michael cohen has been cooperating in this investigation and notably the special counsel says it is prepared to tell the court the nature and extent of that
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cooperation, according to a plea agreement that was released today by the special counsel on the heels of michael cohen pleading guilty to given false information to congress. this is significant on a number of levels. prior to this, the understanding was that there was not cooperation agreement between michael cohen, the president's former attorney, and special counsel. but now we are learning based on what special counsel is saying, there is a plea agreement. that indicates that special counsel finds at least some of the information cohen is providing to be of value and it also is the first indication of how the special counsel views michael cohen, that the special counsel views him as an important person in this investigation. we now know a focus has been on trump tower moscow. other areas special counsel has been looking at that michael cohen could be helpful with is the trump tower meeting with don junior and russians and paul manafort. the president has said he doesn't know anything about
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that. michael cohen would be privy to information surrounding that meeting and wikileaks, whether anyone on the campaign had advanced knowledge of wikileaks dumping john podesta's emails. these are all things robert mueller is interested in and now we're finding out that he could be asking cohen about these things and we could learn more. >> okay. we're going to hear from the president in seconds. michael cohen said this in court and i quote, you made these statements, the false statements, to be consistent with individual one, that is the president's political messaging and to be loyal to individual one. here is the president moments ago. >> so michael cohen is made many statements to the house as i said it and the senate. he put out a statement talkin about a project which was essentially, you guess, more or less of an option that we were looking at in moscow, everybody knew about it. it was written about in newspapers. it was a well-known project.
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it was during the early part of '16 and i guess even before that. it lasted a short period of time. i didn't do the project. i decided not to do the project, so i didn't do it. so we're not talking doing a project. we're talking about not doing a project. michael cohen, what he's doing is he was convicted, i guess, you'll have to put it into legal terms, but he was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence on things totally unrelated to the trump organization. having to do with mortgages and having to do with cheating the irs, perhaps. a lot of different things. i don't know exactly, but he was convicted of various things unrelated to us. he was given a fairly long jail sentence and he's a weak person and by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he's a weak person and what he's trying to to is get a reduced sentence. so he's lying about a project that everybody knew about.
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we were very open with it. we were thinking about building a building. i guess -- we decided -- i decided ultimately not to do it. there would have been nothing wrong if i did do it. if i did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. it was my business. so he's lying very simply to get a reduced sentence, okay? all right. he's back. >> it doesn't mean i'm not allowed to do business. i was doing a lot of different things when i was running. after i won, obviously, i don't to business. but more importantly, which is the following year. but i ran a business. in fact, i often joked about the fact that i was the only person that campaigned and simultaneously ran a business,
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but that was -- that was a project that we didn't do. i didn't do. that was a project that wasn't done for a lot of reasons. number one is that i was really not -- not that i had to do it, i was focused on running for president. i wanted that to be my primary focus. >> did you tell him to lie? >> well, this was a deal that didn't happen. that was no deal. i mean, if you look -- this was an option. i guess -- i don't know if i -- i want to be very specific. to my way of thinking, it was an option that i decided not to do. >> did you tell him -- >> if you look, we really didn't have -- excuse me. excuse me. excuse me. this was an option in a form but here's very simple, we do have -- we have a position to possibly do a deal, to build a
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building of some kind in moscow. i decided not to do it. the primary reason, there could have been other reasons, but the primary reason was very simple, i was focused on running for president. there would be nothing wrong if i did do it. i was running my business while i was campaigning. there was a good chance that i wouldn't have won, in which case i would have gotten back into the business and why should i lose lots of opportunities. here's the story. go back and look at the paper that michael cohen wrote before he testified in the house and/or senate. it talked about his position. what he's trying to do, because he's a weak person and not a very smart person, what he's trying to do is end -- and its very simple, he's got himself a big prison sentence and he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story. now here's the thing, even if he
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was right, it doesn't matter, because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted during the campaign. i was running my business, a lot of different things during the campaign. very simply, michael cohen is lying and he's trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me. let me go a step further. i think you should go back -- i think it was january, it was just reported very well by katherine heritage who's a terrific reporter on fox. she talks about a letter that he signed, i don't even remember it, and it specifically talks about this deal. this deal was a very public deal. everybody knows about this deal. i wasn't trying to hide anything, okay? >> mr. president? >> i cannot understand you. [ inaudible question ]
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>> we have a lot of things to talk about, jeff? >> you're going into a summit currently, what is your intent about a trade deal with china? what do you expect to say to mr. xi? >> i think we're very close to doing something with china, but i don't know that i want to do it, because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the united states in the form of tariffs or taxes, so i really don't know, but i will tell you that, i think china wants to make a deal. i'm open to making a deal, but frankly, i like the deal we have right now. >> are you going to meet with -- >> i probably will be meeting with president putin. we haven't terminate that had meeting. i was thinking about it, but we haven't. they'd like to have it. >> what are you going to tell him? >> i think its a very good time to have the meeting. i'm getting a full report on the plane as to what happened with respect to that and that will determine what i will say. thank you. >> you said you were getting a
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full report on tuesday, did you get that report and what did it say? >> i have a couple of reports. we're getting a finalized report. are you talking about the russia situation with the ship and the ukraine? >> yea. >> we're getting a finalized report on the plane. >> why are you meeting with the crown prince? >> it just wasn't set up. >> it only wasn't set up. i would have met with him but we didn't set that up. i'm meeting with president xi. its a very important meeting and as you know i'm doing three or four meetings, i just didn't have time. [ inaudible question ] >> i'm going to bring it up, yes. >> mr. president? >> i don't hear you. you have my helicopter. you see that. i can't hear you. [ inaudible question ] >> the question was asked yesterday about pardons with respect to paul manafort who its
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very sad what's happened to paul, the way he's being treated. i've never seen anyone treated so poorly. i have not offered any pardons and i think they asked or whatever, would you? i said i'm not taking anything off the table. that was done as a question from "the new york post." >> did you tell michael cohen what to tell bob mueller? >> if cohen is such a bum, why did you hire him, have him on your payroll for 12 years and have him do so much of your dirty work? >> because a long time ago he did me a favor. a long time ago he did me a favor. no. not at all. not at all. i'm not worried at all about him. you just take a look at his written document. go back. take a look at what he wrote in i think january, he has a
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written statement and that's the fact. yea. >> you said you had -- mr. president? [ inaudible question ] >> we don't want the european union to be like trump's america. >> i don't know what you're -- you can't with the helicopter. >> a possible shutdown if we don't get the wall money. very possible. we're in negotiation. if we don't get border security, possible shutdown. >> mr. president? you're looking at the president there, his reaction to these explosive developments today with michael cohen, a man who worked for him for many years saying in effect the president was not truthful about his business ties in russia in the months leading up to and during, in fact, the 2016 presidential campaign. the president's -- part of the
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president's defense there about this trump tower moscow tower was the deal didn't happen, it was an option. he's trying to have it both ways. it almost sounds like we never got the dirt on hillary clinton so therefore its not relevant from a legal perspective, is that a credible defense? >> no. i think its a problematic defense and i'm betting his attorneys are pulling what's left of their hair out as they listen to him make these statements because he's all over the place. he starts out by saying cohen is a liar, none of this is true, the trump tower project in moscow ended in january of 2016, which, by the way, is what cohen told congress in 2017 after the president had been sworn in, so and why is important? its important for two reasons. number one, during the summer of 2016 before he was sworn in, before he was elected, they were discussing the republicans, the plank on how russia would be treated, about how ukraine would be treated at the same time this
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project is obviously sitting on the table. >> its a great point because it presents the possibility, at least or the appearance of a conflict of interest or quid pro quo, were these business dealings offered as a sweetener as they were trying to get a friendlier platform. >> its not just the republicans pushed the platform, its that trump campaign officials stepped in to block a provision about arming ukraine to fight russia backed militia at the exact same time that these business discussions with moscow were going on. >> i think, you know, we need to sort out -- and really respond fairly to what the president is saying here because at one level he's saying, look i'm a real estate developer, i was a private citizen running for president, i'm allowed to continue my business. i wasn't lying about continuing my business. all of that is true. the problem is, is that he was not saying during the campaign, oh, i'm negotiating with russian -- essentially the
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russian government for a business deal in moscow at the same time i am trying to be solicitous in saying wonderful things about vladimir putin as part of my campaign. >> we have to cut you short. we have some new reporting as well. >> just from covering the mueller probe, the president said that michael cohen is lying to reduce his sentence. well, what's clear here is that robert mueller, the special counsel doesn't think he's lying with this new version where he says that donald trump actually was briefed several times on the trump tower moscow project and that there were discussions for him to go to russia. this gives you a window into potentially what the president answered to the questions from bob mueller as it pertains to trump tower moscow. the president seemed to be indicating today that he doesn't agree with the version of events that michael cohen laid out today, that bob mueller clearly agrees with. as we know, the president and his team responded to questions
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including ones about the trump tower moscow turned those answers in last week, so they are locked in to those answers and they really went in blind as it pertains to what cohen may have been telling the special counsel because there was no legal defense agreement and so what bob mueller will be looking at now is how the responses from the president and his team align with what they now believe to be the true story based on what michael cohen said. i think that is significant. the timing is significant. it appears that robert mueller's team wanted to wait for this to happen until they received the responses from the president. >> and still just minutes ago you heard the president say, i will probably meet with vladimir putin, this is a quote, very good time to have the meeting. what will he say to vladimir putin at that meeting? evan perez is with us as well with more reporting on this. what can you tell us? >> one of the things if you look at these new statements from michael cohen, what it really
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crystallizes is that the president's red line which is his business, its been crossed, right? this means the prosecutors now have information that, according to michael cohen, the trump business, the trump organization was part of whatever conspiracy they believe was happening here, that even as the president was running for election in 2016 that they were working on this project in moscow much longer than the president has said and, by the way, the president made some comments just now in which he said that everybody knew about this project. that's not quite true. it became public as part of this investigation, but it wasn't known in 2016 that this was happening. it wasn't known publicly. so that's the issue here. the president's business is now front and center in this investigation. its his red line and it has been crossed. >> his red line, jeffrey toobin, does it matter that the president has set that red line? >> it matters in the sense that he implicitly threatened to follow mueller if that line was
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crossed. >> in that interview, he said this is the red line. >> this is directly related to the question of russian election interference and here's why. not just because the lack of transparency did not provide people with, you know, full information on why he was taking certain steps, but that at every step by keeping it secret, russia has had leverage over him and compromise. every lie told to keep it secret is even more leverage. this is a national security issue and that is what mueller is investigating. >> good point. its part of compromise by definition. >> and the -- >> continues to have leverage now going into future meetings. meetings with moscow, there are two parties to that. there's a moscow side and a u.s. side, what does putin have? what people are in the soviet union who can actually ratify cohen's claims here? >> correct. putin has a lot of leverage to
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use against the president in future negotiations. >> so who oversees the mueller probe now? matt whitaker? secondly, what did the president retweet last night, a meme with rod rosenstein who had previously overseen the probe behind bars saying he should have never hired the special counsel. >> republicans blocked even a vote on the senate floor to pass legislation to protect rear-view mirror -- robert mueller, didn't even get a vote. >> i think that this is -- its going to be interesting to see how trump responds to the fact that whitaker hasn't stopped any of this if that's what he expected. the wheels of justice continue to turn. >> mueller is a tough adversary. thanks to all of you. so much to digest these past hours. >> the breaking news continues. thank you for being with us. i'm poppy harlow. >> and i'm jim scuitto, alec
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baldwin continues our breaking coverage right now. this is cnn breaking news. hello, everybody. i'm kate baldwin. the essential question this morning once again is this, what did the president know and when did he know it? the breaking news in the russian investigation. donald trump's long time attorney may be his greatest threat. in a surprise appearance in court today, michael cohen told a federal judge that donald trump was aware of and looped in to negotiations over a potential real estate deal in moscow well in to the 2016 campaign, much longer than previously discussed. even after the president was the presumptive republican nominee. cohen pleading guilty to making false statements to congress about this very thing, now saying that he misled congress about the timeline of the project and how much donald trump


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