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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  December 13, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PST

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corner. erin, thank you for being live for us in brussels. thank you all for joining us today. i'm poppy harlow. >> i'm itjim sciutto. "at this hour with kate bolduan" starts right now. hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. breaking news out of federal court in washington, d.c. just moments ago, a 30-year-old former american university grad student walked into a courtroom to strike a deal as an accused russian spy now working with the u.s. government. maria butina was arrested back in july. at first, she insisted she was innocent. now, she's cooperating with investigators, offering up information on how and why she was trying to infiltrate u.s. political circles including the powerful groups like the nra. it's worth noting earlier this morning, moscow demanded her, quote, swift release. let's figure out what's going on here today. let's begin outside the court.
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jessica schneider is there. what's going on inside? >> well, kate, 29-year-old maria butina who once portrayed herself as a graduate student here in washington, d.c. at american university, now set to enter a guilty plea. that formal entry of the guilty plea not happening just yet, but right now inside the courtroom, the judge is walking her through this process, reminding her that by pleading guilty, she is waiving her rights here. and maria butina said clearly in court, yes, she understands exactly what this process is about, and she's prepared to enter that guilty plea. you know, maria butina stood up in court just a little while ago and did disclose she has signed a plea agreement. we know that she's expected any minute now to formally enter that guilty plea as to this conspiracy charge. what's remarkable here is that in these plea talks, we know that maria butina has in fact been cooperating with prosecutors. these are the same prosecutors who say she was acting at the direction of a former russian
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bank official, aleksandr torshin, who guided her in infiltrating these conservative political groups including the national rifle association. prosecutors say she was also working with her so-called boyfriend, paul eriksson, an american conservative activist, to establish these back channels and these informal communications with u.s. political officials. and this is the key. all to benefit the russian -- all to benefit the country of russia. that's interesting because prosecutors in these talks with maria butina, they may have been trying to get more information as to how exactly russia has been trying to infiltrate these political groups. maybe more information as well on how russia has meddled and interfered with elections, including, of course, the 2016 election. all of that not being exposed in court, uncertain how much prosecutors will disclose about their cooperation talks with maria butina, but kate, all of this unfolding in real time right now inside the d.c.
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district court. a little bit of color for you, before the formal plea is entered, maria butina actually had a little talk with the judge because it turns out that while she's been in jail, she's been locked up ever since she was arrested and indicted here, maria butina has actually had calls with at least one journalist. in those calls that prosecutors have this tape of, she talked about somebody who the prosecutors believe was her attorney as acting as a go-between and passing along messages to the journalists. why does that matter? because there's been a gag order in this case. no one has been allowed to talk to the media. the judge addressed that up front before beginning this formal plea hearing. so it's all playing out right now in court, kate, but quite a story here. a tantalizing story of this russian woman who came to d.c., supposedly as a graduate student, but prosecutors saying she was actually acting as a foreign agent for russia. we'll see how it plays out, but
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we expect any minute she'll be entering her guilty plea. >> much more to come, and really interested to hear more from coming inside the court. thank you so much. i really appreciate it. >> at the same time, president trump's legal times are growing darker and deeper. as another longtime ally has turned on him. federal prosecutors say ami, the publisher of "national enquirer" tabloid let by a longtime friend of the president, has flipped on the peds. after two years of denials, the company is now admitting it made a $150,000 payment to help the trump presidential campaign and influence the election. by silencing a playboy playmate's claim she had an affair with him. ca kara is joining me with more. >> we knew david pecker, the chairman of ami, who has been a longtime friend and ally of donald trump, had been granted immunity, but what we learned
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yesterday is the company itself has entered into a big cooperation agreement, saying they will not get prosecuted as long as they admit these facts. hot the company is admitting is the reason behind the payments was to influence the outcome of the election. in effect, that's another witness who is saying these payments were made, it's michael cohen, the national enquirer, ami, all of the individuals and employees who touched that, they're agreeing to this and agreeing to continue to cooperate. that's a key element of this non-prosecution agreement that they struck. so the big open question is, where does it go from here? and the sense i get from talking to people is that it's not entirely clear. it's not a closed case, i don't think anyone is saying it's time to wrap up and go home. so we'll be watching to see where this plays out, but the fact that ami now has to continue to cooperate, that's a key element of their agreement. >> continue to cooperate. >> to continue to cooperate. and it says, you know, this agreement locks them in for three years or until the investigation is over.
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>> so basically whenever. that's pretty amazing. great to see you. thank you. really amazing turns of events we have seen in the last 24 hours. joining me to discuss is asha, a former fbi agent and cnn legal security analyst. julia hirshfield davis, congressional correspondent for "the new york times," and jack quinn, who served as white house counsel in the clinton white house. asha, until now, as kara pointed out, it was michael cohen's word against the president's. now it's cohen's world and ami's word against the president that it was all done to influence the election. all of this illegal activity. what does this shift mean? >> this shift means that prosecutors have evidence and witnesses who are able to give testimony that the motive here was to influence the election,
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that it was done knowingly and willfully. this is key because this is what moves the campaign finance violation into criminal territory. it is also what makes it very different from the edwards case, which rudy giuliani keeps wanting to liken this to. because they are basically saying this was a campaign contribution directly to influence the campaign. we're willing to say that and willing to corroborate that the president's team knew about this. >> julie, the president himself, he was silent yesterday on this, despite the fact that michael cohen went after him directly and repeatedly in court. saying a number of things including that what he had done was cover up trump's dirty deeds and much more. today, the president not so sile nltd, going off on twitter, of course, and it seems kind of presenting his defense. to sum it up, he basically said, i never directed him to break the law. and he never broke the law when it came to campaign finance
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violations. republicans have backed the president when it came to his word against cohen's. we heard that over and over. what are they likely to do with his word against cohen's and ami's now? >> well, i think if past history is any guide, they're going to do the same thing they have been doing, which is keep defending the president, but i think that you make an important distinction between yesterday when he stayed silent and today when he felt the need to lash out on twitter and make his case publicly. because it's the case ami is now presenting the same set of facts puts him in more immediate peril. he sees that, he knows that, i'm sure his lawyers are telling him that. what's extraordinary about his response today is he's essentially walking away completely to what he told us on air force one months ago, that he didn't have anything to do with these payments, it was all michael cohen. tacitly admitting he did have something to do with the payments but just they weren't
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illegal and he never directed anyone to break the law. that's really a distinction without a difference because the entire point of what michael cohen has told prosecutors and ami has now told prosecutors, this was in fact designed to influence the election. that in and of itself is what makes it a campaign finance violation. i think he's really back on his heels. even though republicans are probably likely to stay behind him, it's very clear that there is some major legal liability for him and that at this point, there's more than one person who has dubious credibility making these claims. >> it fits in, as you point out, it fits into a string of things that would take too long to go into, of why cover up if it's not a problem. why lie about something if it's something you're not concerned about? i want to read part of what the president's defense was, part of what he said today was that cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, the president says, but he pleaded to two campaign charges which were not
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criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis. as one of my bosses said i think pretty perfectly this morning, you can't plead guilty to something in criminal court to something that isn't criminal. it doesn't seem possible. the president is just wrong. the fact, though, jack, that he's focused here tells you what? >> well, look, this is a very thin read. he's trying to rely on to prove that he didn't have the intent to commit -- the intent that's required for commission of this particular felony. but as you point out, we have the evidence and testimony of both ami and his attorney, michael cohen, as to his intent. one has to wonder if this really was a legitimate advice of counsel situation. did he ever ask don mcgahn, his campaign counsel, hey, i want to
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engage in this transaction with ami, might it violate the campaign election act? mcgahn was his election attorney. if there were an issue of compliance with the fec laws, mcgahn would have been consulted. instead, we know ami met with whom? met with the campaign staff, with political operatives. moreover, there was so much here that was designed to hide what was going on. we know that there was a phony invoice pretending that this was payments for services. there was a shell company set up to carry this out. pecker sent a memo to cohen saying tear up the documents so there's no evidence of what we're doing here. i mean, that kind of furtive behavior suggests guilty minds all around this transaction. >> and we have audiotape that
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was released between a conversation between trump and cohen that lays out that donald trump, if you listen to it, it's that he knew that there was a payment, and it seems to indication he knew they needed to hide it in how they were talking about it. not in cash, maybe in a check, in talking about financing it. that's one thing. >> everything was in the dark shadows of the back alleys. that all says everything you need to know about whether this was a straightforward and honest transaction. >> you know, it's not just silencing these negative stories. it wasn't just silencing negative stories about trump which we're talking about ami. if you look, and i think we can put it up, some of the covers throughout the campaign that were on the "national enquirer." it was a concerted effort. a concerted effort against hillary clinton to push negative stories about hillary clinton. if the president was involved in the catch and kill of bad stories about him, i do wonder, asha, what if he was involved in
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the negative stories about his opponent showing up as well? >> right. and actually, i would zoom out even further than that, kate. you know, i don't know that there would be any kind of violation necessarily because of first amendment issues, if he wants the "national enquirer" to print bad stories about hillary, but we have this whole wikileaks issue on the side, where they have stolen information which is damaging to hillary, which is being released at very opportune times to kind of take over the media cycle right after the "access hollywood" tape, for example, and i think if there is coordination with his campaign and that end, at the same time they're coordinating to keep this kind of damaging information about trump secret, you really have a conspiracy here to try to influence and distort the views of the american public on the candidates runs for office, which really undermines a fundamental pillar of our democracy, which is for people to have an informed vote.
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>> guys, stick around. we have more. we're awaiting more additional details coming out of the plea hearing under way right on maria butina. we'll have much more on that. >> plus, congress has eight days to left to reach a deal to keep the government open. they're in a standoff still over the border wall, money for the border wall. will the president's latest tweet about the new nafta shake the whole thing up? stay with us. whatever the mess, irobot has your everyday solution. roomba vacuums up dry debris and pet hair throughout your home. and for wet messes, say hello to the braava jet mopping robot. its precision jet spray and vibrating cleaning head loosen and scrub stains from your hard floors. braava jet is designed to navigate kitchens, bathrooms and even those hard to reach places. so you can enjoy cleaner floors and a fresher home everyday. you, roomba and braava jet from irobot. better together.
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to help lower my a1c i choose trulicity to activate my within. at, we can't guarantee you'll good at that water jet thingy... but we can guarantee the best price on this hotel. or any accommodation, from homes to yurts. booking.yeah all right. right now, an accused russian spy is finalizing a plea deal with federal prosecutors and we're getting more color out of the courtroom about maria butina, her state of mind, and what she was trying to do in the united states. jessica schneider is outside the
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d.c. courthouse where this is taking place. what are you hearing inside? >> maria butina previously said in court this morning that her mind is clear, and in just the past few moments, she has said she knowingly engaged in a conspiracy against the united states. this is all transpiring in court in a lead-up to when she will formally plead guilty. the prosecutors really unveiling a lot in court in just the past few minutes. they said she acted under the direction of a russian bank official who we have previously identified as aleksandr torshin. that's what they alleged in the court papers here. that's what they're alleging inside court right now. they said this in court, butina sought to establish an unofficial line of communication with americans having power and influence over u.s. politics. and of course, that's prosecutors talking about the fact that maria butina while portraying her status as a
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graduate student in washington, d.c. at american university, she was also hobnobbing with important political figures, mostly conservative political figures, and with political groups like the national rifle association. the prosecutors say she was acting under the direction of a russian official and all for the benefit of the russian federation. so yes, maria butina saying today she knowingly conspired against the united states, that she understands that by entering this guilty plea, she's waiving her rights to any sort of trial. and she says she is prepared to face what she gets. we know she could face deportation, and she likely will. so all of this, kate, unfolding in real time. we're expecting the formal entry of the guilty plea any moment now. kate. >> fascinating, jessica. thank you so much. i want to bring back asha and jack to talk about this. it's so unusual when you think about it on the most basic level, jack, of you now have in the last few minutes now an admitted russian spy talking
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about what she was trying to do, and now going to be working with the federal government. how important is this that she now admits to the judge that she engaged in a conspiracy against the united states to basically infiltrate herself amongst the powerful politicians and power brokers in u.s. politics? >> well, it's seemingly relatively unimportant in and of itself, but it's part of a bigger picture that enhances its importance. it's important because as the prosecutors have said, all of this activity on her part and while the president was thinking about the moscow tower and stuff, this was all taking place at a time when russia was engaged in a sustained campaign of interference with our elections. and you know, so you have the gru intelligence officers, who have hacked into e-mails of
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various democrats, including the campaign manager for mrs. clinton, all of those activities happening around the same time. and they all fit together as such a powerful demonstration of russia's intent to affect our elections. now, what i think the special counsel is in the course of doing here is tracing the linkage between trump's business and trump's politics. and this is where i think the president will find himself on extremely thin and worrisome ice. if i had to guess, this is the issue i think that will really cause jeopardy to the presidency of donald trump. >> asha, what do you think of what we're learning now in court that she's admitting to? how it fits into this larger conversation that we're having about russian influence, the
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attempts of russian influence in u.s. elections. >> right. i think jack has it right. when we talk about russian election interference, or active measures, what we're talking about is a number of different fronts that they're operating on. you have the disinformation campaign on social media. you have the hacking of the dnc server. this is called a political influence campaign. it's when spies are acting fairly overtly, and essentially trying to court, recruit, assess people who may be able to then influence policy towards russia. one thing that stands out to me here, two things that stand out to me here, most spies are here under diplomatic cover precisely so if they get caught, they have diplomatic immunity. maria butina was here without diplomatic cover so she's caught in the cross hairs of criminal prosecution. the second thing, if the government has evidence that she was acting at the direction and control of russia, that makes her an agent of a foreign power, which means she would have been
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a legitimate target forifi fisa surveillance, and anyone talking to her at that time would be captured on that as well. i agree with jack that there could be many other people who should be concerned at this point. >> fascinating. and the web is so impossible to follow. thank you guys so much for being here. really appreciate it. we'll continue to follow what's coming out of the court. also this, coming up, nancy pelosi appears to have squashed the rebellion against her, locking in the support she needs to return as house speaker come january. what concessions did she make? what does it mean for house democrats going forward? opportu. like here. where nothing stands between you and your best friends. ♪
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congress is racing towards another government shutdown. about a week away. the latest curveball, once again, president trump. try this on for size. on the sticking point on the border wall, the president says this now. that i often, he says, state it one way or the other, mexico is going to pay for the wall. this has never changed. the president says our new deal with mexico and canada is so much better than the old very costly and anti-usa nafta deal that just by the money we save, mexico is paying for the wall. so does that mean he doesn't need the $5 billion he's demanding from congress now? what is going on here? phil mattingly is joining me from capitol hill. i ask you the same question,
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what is going on here? >> you know, one thing we have seen in the wake of that rather explosive meeting in the oval office is democrats have used the president' words against him repeatedly, primarily from that meeting, his decision to take the blame for any shutdown onto himself. they're using that tweet against him as well. take a listen to what chuck schumer had to say on the floor. >> if the president really believed what he tweeted this morning, that his new nafta would pay for the wall, he wouldn't be threatening to shut down the government unless american taxpayers fund his wall. you can't have it both ways. the president's position on the wall is totally contradictory, ill informed, and frankly, irresponsible. >> if you couldn't tell there, democrats aren't exactly budging at this moment. that's both what you're seeing in their messaging strategy and also behind the scenes. there's no desire to move. nancy pelosi is saying just that right now in her press conference that's ongoing. the question becomes, where does
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that leave republicans on capitol hill? the interesting element of that, i just spoke with senator john corn cornyn. i asked him what's his sense of the president's broader strategy to find a way out of this? he said i don't know right now. that's where things stand. everybody on the republican and democratic side is waiting for the president to weigh in on what the next step should be. republicans don't want to undercut him, but they acknowledge two things. first and foremost, the meeting and the president's willingness to take the blame on himself for a potential shutdown was problematic for them. second off, he has to map out a way forward. that may involve a shutdown, which republicans don't want. or it may involve something else, the big question right now is what is that something else? behind closed doors, senate and house staffers are waiting to see before they try to craft any type of solution. and we're, what, eight days from a government shutdown? >> why craft it when it likely can be, will be, definitely will be undercut in one tweet.
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we'll see. great to see you, phil. >> joining me to discuss, cnn political commentators, joe lockhart, doug heye, and very importantly, communications director for eric cantor, so he spent many a moment on capitol hill working on things like this. doug, how is chuck schumer wrong on this one? on mexico paying for it or he needs $5 billion? >> on the face of it, he's not. but ultimately, this comes down to what we saw yesterday in very short-term political gains for the main participants. when i heard nancy pelosi use the word trump shutdown in the meeting, it was clear this was not about the shutdown or what may happen with the wall. it was about nancy pelosi locking down the renegade democrats she needs to get to 218 majority on the house speaker vote on january 3rd. same side of the coin with donald trump. him going after chuck schumer and nancy pelosi in that meeting was more fodder to his base, the echo chamber on talk radio and on some cable news for pro-trump
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news. reaffirmed everything trump said. so you can extrapolate two types of winners here, but ultimately, i think there's going to be a big loser and it's going to be the american voter. >> maybe this is one of those situations if we're looking at the raw politic, which is first they have to say these things and then 24, 48 hours before, staffers will start churning out a deal and say we have to, but maybe not. and this is what my question is. we have seen that the president is once again trying to flip the script on conventional wisdom. the conventional wisdom on this one is that shutdowns are not a good thing. >> right. >> and the president very clearly declared that he would be fine with shutting it down if he doesn't get what he wants. he's flipped the script before. do you think he can flip the script on this? >> i agree with a lot of what doug said. there's a framework for a deal. they can get to a deal. the big thing here is, and nancy pelosi had her agenda. the president had his, schumer had his.
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the big thing now is whether trump decides that shutdown politics work for him. they normally don't. they never really have. for either side. but if you talk about focusing attention on a shutdown versus focusing the attention on the fact that i'm now criminally liable and the russians colluded and there's a russian spy in court today, my former lawyer was sentenced yesterday, for trump, that may be better politics. >> that's a wild, wild, wild theory of look over there, to shut the government down so you don't focus on russia. >> it is wild, it is irresponsible, and it's totally possible. >> doug? >> yeah, you know, one thing that donald trump and his team are very good at, they play star wars with us all the time and basically say these are not thedroids you're looking for. we go down a rabbit hole that distracts us from what is typically the news of the day. that's a skill that donald trump has. we fall for it every time. i'm guilty of it as well. i would tell you that shutdowns aren't necessarily politically the disaster that a lot of folks like myself think they should
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be. in 2013, when we went through the shutdown, we called it internally in the house a touch the stove moment. the republican members who wanted to shut down the government needed to touch the stove, find out it will burn them so we don't touch them again. it didn't burn them. republicans haven't learned from that, they can touch the stove again and again and not get burned. that's a real problem moving forward. then the factor of republicans who lost in pro-hillary seats who may not want to cut a deal in the president's favor and may not be there to vote anyway. >> children, do not touch the stove. i will leave you with that. great to see you. thanks. >> coming up for us, michael cohen's attorney said his client will tell all he knows about trump as soon as the special counsel completes its investigation. will it include publicly testifying on capitol hill? congressman jim himes is joining us next live. my true love gave to me♪ ♪five golden... ♪six golden rings...
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ingenious space- neat nest™ by fasaving design. so you can go from this... to this. farberware neat nest™. stacked & intact™ the president's former fixer michael cohen is headed to prison for three years. before he goes, the house and senate intelligence committees want to speak with him again. he's not the only one. senate intel chairman richard burr said it's safe to say if they were indicted, they were on our list. that could include former national security adviser michael flynn. former trump campaign chairman paul manafort, and more. if they testify, what are they going to offer now that they haven't already? joining me is jim himes. he sits on the house intelligence committee. thanks for coming in. >> hi, kate. >> is michael cohen definitely
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going to testify, be called to testify before your committee again? >> well, i certainly think he should be. remember, the committee hasn't been reconstituted. it will be in january. but he should be for two reasons. number one, of course, he pled guilty to lying to congress, so it would be great to get back to congress to say okay, exactly where else or where did you lie so we have a good clean sense of what the facts are, and of course, from the standpoint of the intelligence committee, the other really important thing is in the sentencing document, we learned that there were contacts by russia to michael cohen as early as 2015. that, of course, is very much in the purview of the intelligence committee so we have a full picture of the many, many efforts that russia made to get their tentacles into the trump campaign. >> do you think he needs to testify publicly? >> well, i think it's always valuable when these interviews are done publicly. michael cohen doesn't have classified information, so i don't want to prejudge how this
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is going to play out, but there's no reason why that testimony shouldn't be public. it's critical the american people hear first-hand what people have to say rather than hear from people like me or my republican counterparts what they think they heard in the room. >> though it can't always become then more theater than substance, but still, as a member of the media, we always welcome it being in public view. republicans say, though, about the cohen guilty plea and the sentencing, what i have heard is they're basically, they don't care because they say he's an admitted liar so they don't care what he has to say. they don't trust what he has to say. can you trust what he says when he comes before you committee again? >> well, the question around a guy like michael cohen, first of all, he pled guilty to lying. so he doesn't really have any incentive to lie anymore. but yes, his credibility is somewhat damaged. what's sad about what you say is, you know, we're at a point here in this building where we have lost in november, at least on the house side, a lot of more
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moderate republicans. so we're down to a hard core of republicans here in this building who just don't care. it doesn't matter that the president paid off a porn star illegally, that he paid off a playmate illegally. that's just all water under the bridge. and that's a very dangerous moment for an institution that is really designed constitutionally, nothing to do with democratic or republican parties, constitutionally to be a check and balance on the president. >> do you think, congressman, that campaign finance violations are impeachable offenses? >> well, look, theoretically, any crime is an impeachable offense. the constitution says high crimes and misdemeanors. that's, of course, a decision for the congress to make. i think while the president protests that it's not a crime, he's plain wrong because, of course, michael cohen pled guilty to that crime. but you got to not lose the big picture here, right. the american people need to realize that there's lots of things that influence an election. you can knock on doors, you can make phone calls, hire
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volunteers to hand out fliers. the president's campaign paid a lot of money to make sure that the fact that he paid off a porn star and paid off a playboy playmate, not to disclose their affairs to the american people, did that have an impact? i have run for re-election a number of times. i'm guessing if that were a story about me, it might impact my re-election. and of course, this was a presidential election that was won by tens of thousands of votes, and certain very specific localities. however you think about this as a civil or criminal crime, there's no doubt in my mind this probably had a material impact on the outcome of the 2016 election. >> what do you say to republicans who say these are campaign finance violations, this is nothing to do with russia collusion? >> well, technically speaking, that is true. in other words, i wouldn't argue with them on that point. the fact, we heard from ami today, michael cohen at the direction of the president of the united states, worked with ami to kill a story about an
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affair with a porn star. there's nothing russian about that, but there's two points to be made here. there's lots of other russian stuff, including michael cohen's admission he had been contacted by the russians, and of course, in the manafort, this was also this week, in the manafort documents, we learned there are all these previously undisclosed contacts with somebody named konstantin kilimnik, so yes, the campaign financial violations don't appear to have a russian nexus, but just as every week, we're learning yet more this week about contacts between the russians and the trump campaign. >> if you could told on with me, i'm getting news in from outside federal court in washington, when we're talking about russia, accused russian spy maria butina in court to strike a plea deal with federal prosecutors and investigators. jessica schneider is out front and has more breaking news coming in. what do you have? >> one hour into this hearing, it was one word that maria butina said. she just said it to the judge,
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guilty. maria butina has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the united states, acting as an illegal foreign agent of russia. this is all unfolded amid tremendous detail from prosecutors. prosecutors talking about the fact that maria butina started this conspiracy in march 2015. she actually drafted a policy proposal. she called it description of the diplomacy project. in that proposal, she outlined her plan to act as an official conduit between russia and the united states, particularly republican officials or republican-leaning groups like the national rifle association. prosecutors detailed how she actually received $125,000 from that former russian bank official, aleksandr torshin, to attend the national rifle association conference. they also went into great detail about how butina wanted to make these connections with republican officials, influential political leaders. all of this, kate, being laid
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out in court. the most important thing happening just moments ago. maria butina pleading guilty to conspiracy against the united states. and kate, she could face up to five years in prison. that will be determined at a later sentencing. she's going to be in jail until that sentencing and after she serves her prison time, she likely will be deported back to russia. >> thanks so much. i really appreciate it. congressman himes, you're hearing that, as i was as well. what's your reaction when you hear we have now admitted russian spy laying out her efforts at the direction of the russian government to infiltrate and be a conduit between russia and u.s. political parties, conservative-leaning political groups. >> yeah, well, very, very interesting. i think very important for the american people to know about and to hear about. quite apart from the question of collusion. we can come back to collusion if you like, but quite apart from the question of collusion, it's
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essential that the american people understand that the russians undertook a massive effort that involved reaching out to the trump campaign, and we'll get back to collusion, involved working apparently with the nra, involving buying ads on facebook, involving really fundamentally manipulating the way we as americans think about our candidates and our politics in a way that was not about us but about them. one of the things this whole butina thing is going to do and one thing we need to do is make sure every american understands when they look at something on facebook, and you know, shout out something and promote a particularly explosive tweet or go to an nra conference or whatever it may be, they may be serving vladimir putin's interests. that's a story that really needs to be told. >> and to the point, and this puts a fine point on what you're just saying. when anyone from the president on down says that it's a hoax that russia was trying to influence the election, you can see right here a russian spy has just admitted in court she was trying to conspire against the
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united states to do just that. congressman, i appreciate your time. thanks so much. >> thank you. we'll be right back. share the love event, we've shown just how far love can go. (grandma vo) over one hundred national parks protected. (mom vo) more than fifty thousand animals rescued. (old man vo) nearly two million meals delivered. (mom vo) over eighteen hundred wishes granted. (vo) that's one hundred and forty million dollars donated to charity by subaru and its retailers over eleven years. (girl) thank you. (boy) thank you. (old man) thank you. (granddaughter) thank you.
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a judge just moments ago accepted maria butina's guilty plea admitting she conspired to infiltrate political groups on behalf of russia and also new in court was the plan that she laid out to do just that. let's go back to jessica schneider with all the detail from inside the courtroom. what is this diplomacy project? >> this was remarkable.
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in addition her guilty plea, prosecutors laid out this experience that they say kicked off in march 2015. they say maria butina drafted a policy proposal and this is what it was called. description of the diplomacy project and maria butina detailed how she would be the conduit between russian officials and political figures. how the former russian bank official gave her $125 to attend important conferences, mostly republican political conferences and in particular, the national rifle association conferences. it detailed how maria butina held a dinner that was led and hosted by a u.s. citizen that would attempt to draw in american business people and political figures to discuss russian and u.s. policy. of note, this lasted up until 2017, when maria butina attended
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the national prayer breakfast and in it she met with officials and put it this way to paul erickson, the american conservative activist who was her boyfriend and prosecutors said was working with her in the deal. she said that she was -- the people she met with at that prayer breakfast were coming to establish a back channel of communication. all of this spelled out by prosecuto prosecutors, pleading guilty and all of this going to show how she helped or hoped to infiltrate organizations at the direction of russian officials. kate? >> remarkable. thank you so much for laying that out. we will have much more as our coverage will continue, next.
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show me decorating shows. this is staying connected with xfinity to make moving... simple. easy. awesome. stay connected while you move with the best wifi experience and two-hour appointment windows. click, call or visit a store today. breaking news moments ago, an alleged russian spy pleading guilty. maria butina said she conspired to act as an illegal foreign agent. she is cooperating and sharing information on who directed her to infiltrate one of the most important organizations in republican politics, the national rifle association. jessica schneider joins us from outside the white house in


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