tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN February 25, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
attention on any progress he makes with kim on the nuclear threat, but at the same time will undoubtedly have to answer questions on michael cohen. one big development we're not expecting this week and that is the mueller report. but that doesn't mean the president can rest easy right now. he says the timing of the report is totally up to his new hand picked attorney general william barr who in his confirmation hearing last month said he would provide as much transparency as he can. n note he said, as much as he can. >> i guess from what i understand that will be totally up to the attorney general. >> so there's no requirement that the report is ever made public. even though we the american people are the ones paying for it. the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein keeping his cards very close to his chest today. >> what's the attorney general going to do? you'll have to ask him that
question. >> a lot of people are wondering what rosenstein meant when he said this. >> when we charge somebody with a violation, we need to be prepared to prove it by evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, and the guidance i always gave my prosecutors and the agents i work with during my tenure on the front lines enlaw enforcement were if we aren't prepared to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt then we r we shouldn't make allegations against american citizens. >> congressman adam schiff not having it. >> i've had this conversation with rod rosenstein and others on down at the justice department as they've turned over thousands and thousands of pages of discovery in the clinton e-mail investigation, and there was no indictment in that investigation, that this was a new precedent they were
setting, and they're going to have to live by this precedent whether it was a congress controlled by democrats or republicans. >> it looks like congress is gearing up for a big fight over the mueller rorlt. and there's more facing the president here at home. the house expected to pass a resolution of disapproval in the wake of his declaring a national emergency to start building his border wall without money from congress. >> it's a big, beautiful powerful steel wall that you can see through, which is very important to be able to see through. and if you don't have it, you're not going to have borders, you're not going to have a country pretty soon. >> and in the face of all that, here's another case of it trump white house attempting to ignore the truth. this time the truth about climate change. the president was reportedly upset by his own administration, his own administration's national climate assessment, which described climate change as a threat to this country. these are his own people. he's upset about it and not
buying it, reportedly, okay? so, well, he's not because his white house is setting up a new working group of federal scientists to counter the scientific consensus. i kid you not. to actually try to debunk the administration's own conclusions. you can't write this. that's according to "the washington post." like i said, this week is a very big deal with news of paul manafort, michael cohen, rod rosenstein, and as they say in the tv business, and more. all while the president is sitting across a table from kim jong-un. and the stakes in all this could not be higher. paul manafort's legal team argued for a lighter sentence for him. juliette kayann, mariotti, max
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him a lighter sentence tonight in a d.c. district court. they argue manafort wouldn't have been prosecuted as harshly if robert mueller had not been appointed special counsel. here to discuss, juliette kayyem, renato mariotti, and max boot, the author of "the corrosion of conservatism: why i left the right." so let's figure out why they're doing this.
it's very interesting. good evening. let's discuss. i'm going to start with you, renato. the defense team is saying that the case isn't about murder or drug cartels or a madoff-style ponzi scheme. they're arguing for a lighter sentence in the d.c. case. what do you make of their argument here? >> you know, i have been representing clients now for years, and before that i spent a decade as a federal prosecutor. and when you're in the white collar criminal defense world, you know your clients in real trouble when your argument is, well, he didn't kill anybody. that's basically the lowest level argument when you're a criminal defense attorney. you got nothing. you don't have the facts. you don't have the law. you have no sympathy on your side. so you say, well, he didn't kill anybody. >> nobody died is the other one, right? yeah. >> there you go. pretty much. >> yeah. >> that's what this is. the whole dissenting memo seemed like a desperate plea for a pardon.
>> let me ask you this, renato. his team is arguing that manafort would not have been prosecuted harshly had it not been for rod rosenstein appointing robert mueller. are you seeing any remorse from manafort? >> no. i mean what i see is a guy who knows he's going to get ten years from judge jackson no matter what. that's pretty much a guarantee at this point. that's the maximum sentence she can give. you know, judge ellis is going to give whatever he's going to give. you know, he did seem to buy into some of the rhetoric earlier. but, you know, i don't know. manafort's looking at a heavy sentence there potentially as well. so i think he's just hoping that he's going to get a pardon from trump because, you know, look, he's looking at state law convictions, state convictions, but at least he has a shot there, right? he hasn't been convicted yet, so he might as well hope for pardons, give the party line because he's looking at the rest of his life in prison.
he has nothing to lose at this point. >> max, let me bring you in because the defense team is also emphasizing that the special counsel hasn't charged him with any illegal coordination with russian government officials in 2016. they're making the claim that there is no evidence of collusion. your reaction here given what we know about manafort's interaction, especially with konstantin kilimnik. >> this is really the last refuge of the scoundrel in this case, don, to claim, oh, you know, i committed all these other felonies, but i didn't commit, quote, unquote, collusion with russia, which as we know is not actually a crime. that's just a phrase that we in the pundit business use to describe the cooperation between the trump campaign and the kremlin. and the actual crime, if there is one, would be something like conspiracy against the united states. but i mean how does that exonerate manafort from all the financial fraud, all the tax fraud, all the bank fraud that he committed? it's a complete non sequitur. and as you were pointing out, there is actually a lot that's come out that actually supports the charge of collusion, in his
case with konstantin kilimnik. who is suspected of being a russian intelligence operative. in fact, today, there was a new revelation where a blogger pointed out, who blocks under the name empty wheel, pointed out in one of the filings from manafort's own defense attorneys, they basically admitted that he shared 75 pages of internal polling data from the trump campaign with konstantin kilimnik, who was linked to russian intelligence. why would you share 75 pages of internal polling data? there is no innocent explanation for that. what it suggests is this could have very well been used -- this data could have been used to coordinate the russian disinformation campaign on behalf of donald trump. >> and, juliette, why would you lie so much or mislead people because the prosecutors talked about the range of people manafort had deceived, including members of congress, members of the executive branch. i mean, listen, he lied to tax preparers, bookkeepers, banks, the treasury department, the
department of justice national security division, the fbi, the special counsel's office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, members of congress, and members of the executive branch. that is an incredible thing to hear given his major role in the trump campaign. >> that's the point that we can't forget is that these lies are about the time period that he is campaign chairman and he is at least a part of trying to elect donald trump as president. i know the president's son tried to suggest that these were old crimes. they are not old crimes, and lying is actually a present crime. and i think what's important to remember is we're assuming that mueller has laid out all of his cards. but we certainly know from just the nature of the redacted evidence that things like what max was talking about, how much and to the extent of the information that he shared with the russians. i'm curious where did manafort get that data from within the
campaign? was it the data collection staff that was run by jared kushner? so there's a lot of things that mueller has not laid out yet. so, you know, back to renato's point, they've just got nothing, and so they're going to say, okay, i didn't kill anyone. okay. and this is just silliness. the judge is going to give a harsh sentence, and we'll see if trump does what he says -- well, he has not closed the door to the pardon of manafort at this stage. >> well, you mentioned it. you said that don junior said these were old crimes. he also said there were no crimes. we're going to hear from the president's son right after this. we'll be right back.
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juliette, renato, and max, they're all back with me. as promised, i want to talk about what don junior said. this is for you, renato. i want you to listen to him, what he said about mueller, that he hasn't found any actual crimes. watch. >> i've been hearing this for two years. everyone's getting into -- everyone's going to jail. meanwhile, they haven't actually found anything as it relates to this. what they did was they put incredible pressure on regular guys that couldn't afford a million dollars in legal fees and got them to slip up and say something incorrectly.
they pretended they were their friends. that's all that happened. there are no actual crimes. >> okay. so how can you actually say with a straight face on a day that we just got another manafort court filing -- and let's not forget manafort pleaded guilty in september too conspiracy against the u.s. there's also the guilty pleas from rick gates. there's flynn. there's cohen. there's papadopoulos. what do you say, renato. >> cut it out, don. they're just regular guys. >> i'll tell you, look, as you point out, there's 37 criminal charges here. lots of defendants. people like manafort are going to be spending the rest of their life in prison. >> 37 people and entities charged. overrule criminal counts, 199. but go on. sorry. >> okay. sorry. i'm understating it. so, yeah, 37 individuals,
100-plus criminal charges. but i will just say, what i want to know is what are those "fox & friends" hosts doing sitting there? i mean are they really pretending to be journalists? they don't ask him any tough questions. they don't follow up with that. i mean any serious journalist, if you're sitting there and this guy is say, these aren't real crimes, but people are pleading guilty. they have high-priced lawyers. some of these people have fantastic lawyers. michael cohen had a great lawyer, a really expensive lawyer. he pled guilty and got a deal and got three years because frankly otherwise he was going to be spending ten-plus years in prison. to me, any serious journalist would be asking the question. what's really sad is we have this network that's a mouthpiece for the republican party that is letting these guys get along saying lies to the american people. and we wonder why, you know, 30%, 40% of people in america believe donald trump more than they'll believe robert mueller at the end of the day. >> okay. so rod rosenstein is saying when it comes to this report, he's saying the justice department should not release information on uncharged citizens. he says there's good reason not to be transparent.
watch this. >> this is a knee-jerk reaction that suggests we should be transparent about what we do in government. but there are a lot of reasons not to be transparent about what we do in government. just because the government collects information doesn't mean that information is accurate, and it can be really misleading if you're overly transparent about information that the government collects. so i think we do need to be really cautious about that. if we aren't prepared to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt in court, then we have no business making allegations against american citizen. >> so, max boot, what is he doing? is he signaling there that the report may not be released, that we may not learn much publicly about what happened? >> well, i don't think we should necessarily read too much into that, don. i think what he's doing is he's stating a general rule, which is one that i think makes sense. i think the country was generally revolted by ken starr, who overshared and also by fbi director comey, who overshared about hillary clinton despite not indicting her. so i think rod rosenstein is reacting to that. but of course when we're talking
about president trump, that is a unique case. i mean as a general rule, yes, the government should not be sharing derogatory information about somebody unless they're indicting that person. but in the case of donald trump, according to the justice department, he can't be indicted. so does that mean that no derogatory information about the president can possibly be released because he can't be indicted? in that case, he's above the law. that clearly doesn't make any sense. >> let me ask you a question. i'm not sure if you're old enough. do you remember this president named bill clinton? >> yeah. >> do you remember this president had a scandal. it was a special counsel. it started with whitewater. >> right. >> so you were a republican then, right? >> yep. >> were there a lot of republicans saying, well, this isn't about whitewater. all of a sudden it's become something else? >> of course not. >> what happened? >> obviously we all know that what, you know, bill clinton really got into trouble for, perjuring himself about his relationship with monica lewinsky, which had zero to do with the original predicate for the investigation, which was the whitewater -- >> i'm just wondering where were republicans then who are now saying --
>> we know where they are. they just flip-flop based on what's politically expedient. they're doing whatever is necessary to protect republicans and to hurt democrats. they have no credibility. >> this is what adam schiff responded, tweeting this. he said, this double standard won't cut it. for two years i sounded the alarm about doj's deviation from that principle as it turned over hundreds of thousands of pages in closed or ongoing investigations. i warned that doj would need to live by the precedent, and it will. so i mean democrats are ready to go to battle for this report. we may not even -- you know, we may not even see what's in the report. do they have a strong case if they subpoena someone of getting this information out? >> they could. i mean this is all sort of new territory. i want to be clear. there are going to be legitimate reasons why the public does not see all the information in this report. we have, as you said -- you
know, we have at least 30 cases ongoing. we have 199 indictments. there are going to be reasons to protect sources, methods, investigations, information. so this idea that it's like sunshine rules, i think it's just ridiculous for even democrats to say at this stage. what we need to do is set the standard for what should be disclosed, right? this is where rosenstein, i think, we should not lose our heads over what he said. it was clear he was not talking about -- at least when i saw the whole thing, that he was not talking about the president of the united states because the president of the united states is a different rule. it is someone -- you can't -- >> he did specifically say citizen of the united states, which makes me think he wasn't talking about the president. >> exactly. so he knows better than anyone if doj says we can't indict under their rules, and he follow the fbi rules of we don't put out this information, then the president could actually kill someone on -- well, maybe not kill someone on 5th afternoon, but try to kill someone. >> shoot someone as he said.
>> exactly. so what i think you have to remember is there's also a public interest. doj and fbi will have a public interest exception that the democrats should demand, right? they did this in ferguson as some people are reporting today because the public interest was much higher than it is in a normal case. and then finally, remember this is -- i view the mueller document as a political document. the indictments are ongoing. the criminal side is already happening. it is going to go on well past 2020. this is a political document which does not need to have crimes listed because impeachment proceedings do not have to follow the criminal code. you can impeach based on high crimes and misdemeanors that may not match the criminal code. so i think a lot is still open on what they're going to release. just quickly, democrats need to stop saying everything shows because we will undermine the investigation in cases that are ongoing that will show some really bad behavior by a lot of trump people.
>> interesting. we have so much to talk about. i have to get to this. ♪ da da da michael cohen, he's going to testify on capitol hill publicly and behind closed doors. what are we going to learn from him? >> one thing we're going to learn potentially is what he was hiding from southern district of new york prosecutors if congress had asked the right questions. we're also potentially going to find out a little more about these campaign finance charges. and we're going to find out who was he coordinating with at the white house about his lies to congress. that's going to be very interesting and potentially explosive testimony. >> wow. stay tuned for that. i'm going to be watching that one. okay. thank you all. i'll see you next time. chicago police dealing with some big cases right now. r. kelly posting bail and leaving jail today. jussie smollett fighting allegations that he staged the assault he reported. i'm going to speak to a man at the center of it all. that is the chicago police superintendent. he joins me next.
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jussie smollett insists he's innocent after being charged with staging a racial and homophobic attack. superintendent eddie johnson says the chicago p.d. has a lot more evidence that proves smollett is not telling the truth. superintendent johnson joins me now. good evening, sir. thank you so much for joining us here. i really appreciate it. >> good evening. thanks for having me. >> absolutely. a lot more evidence. can you talk about it? what is that? >> well, i can't really go into specifics because we're past the bond proffer, but i can just tell you this. normally when we do things of this nature, all the evidence isn't provided up front. so there are some other things that just don't support the original version of the story that we got. >> okay.
so let's talk about some of those things. you said there's additional evidence, but you can't talk about it. what about this whole thing about the check? you know, he's saying he wrote on the line that it was for training and whatever, and it wasn't to stage an attack. what do you say to that? >> well, you know what? like i said, don, a lot of these things will come out in court if it gets that far. but let's face it. if you were going to, let's say, buy a stolen car, you wouldn't put in the memo line "buying stolen car." that's what i'll say to that. >> did the brothers testify or tell police that the check was for the attack, or was it for training? >> well, when you look at -- if you read the bond proffer, what they said the check was for is in that bond proffer, and it was for the attack. >> okay. >> the staged attack. >> so let's talk about this letter. what about the letter because that was one of the first things you said during the initial press conference, that you believe that he -- this is the one that came about a week before to the set of "empire." the fbi says that is not confirmed. >> well, yeah.
the fbi has not confirmed that, you know, that's their individual investigation. so any comments that we've made about it is from evidence that we've gathered independent of the fbi. >> so this is from your own -- >> so they may in fact come up with -- they may in fact come up with something different. >> but this is from -- you're talking about chicago p.d.'s evidence has nothing to do with what the fbi has collects. it's two separate investigations. is that what you're saying? >> that's correct. that's correct. >> okay. can we also talk about the cook county state's attorney kim foxx recusing herself. why was that? was there some sort of conflicts of interest? >> well, you know, really she's the person that has to answer that. but i have a question good working relationship with state's attorney foxx. i would just say this, that i'm sure she had good reason for recusing herself from the case. >> so here's the thing.
i mean besides the question about why would jussie smollett do this, you laid that out in the proffer. and from what, you know, you said at the press conference. but what reason, superintendent, would the brothers have to attack jussie smollett on their own if -- because if he's saying he didn't do it, that must mean the brothers did it on their own? >> well, that's the only thing you could surmise from that. and, you know, we have to face the fact that he still has the presumption of innocence at this time, and he'll get his chance to explain his side of the story. but like you just said, you know, you wonder why would they do that on their own? they didn't appear to have any conflict with each other. i think all those details will come out when he gets his day in court. >> i'm sure you've heard about this. people were surprised. you know, i'm not saying in a bad or a good way, but in the press conference that you were so passionate, so clearly upset. this was personal for you. why is that? >> you know what, don? i've lived in chicago my entire
life, and i don't know if you know this, but i grew up -- part of my childhood was in cabrini-green, which could be characterized as the most notorious housing project back in the '60s and '70s. when i took this job as superintendent in 2016, the mayor and i made a pact that we would do everything we could to make chicago safer, and we've made a lot of progress in these three years. crime is down. we have built up and repaired relationships in the black communities, the black and brown communities. so we don't want to lose that momentum, and we certainly don't need manufactured things to, you know, stunt that growth. now, are we where we want to be? of course we're not. but we've made a lot of progress. you know, we're 40% down this year, year-to-date, compared to last year in terms of murders. 22% down in shootings. and those are important figures. so i don't want anything to disrupt that unless it is something that is -- something that's earned, and it just -- i just don't understand the nature of something like this because it could really cause an issue
in this city. you know, we've had issues before, but we've made a lot of progress also. >> and the numbers are going the right way -- the right direction. that's a good thing. as far as jussie smollett, he continues to stand by his story that he didn't stage this attack, superintendent. his attorneys released a statement saying, smollett feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing. how do you respond to that? >> so what i'll say to you, don, is this. our job as police officers, not just in chicago but across this country -- our job is to let the facts guide us to where we go. when we started this investigation, he told us that, you know, he could see through the mask that these were white-skinned people. that's who we were looking for. but the facts guided us in a different direction. and i would tell you this also. we classified him as a victim. we gave him the benefit of the doubt all the way up until the 47th hour of the 48th hour that we could hold those two brothers in custody.
it turned at that 47th hour, and that's when he became a suspect in this, you know. our job is to gather the facts and evidence, present them to the state's attorney, who then decides if the evidence is sufficient for charging. they decided it was. now the next step is to go through the judicial process and either a judge or jury will decide who's telling the truth. so we just let the judicial process play out. >> he did say it was white -- he saw white skin. he said that to you, to police? >> yes. if you read the bond proffer -- >> i did. >> you'll see that in there. >> i have you here. i just want to make sure. again, you stand by the evidence you have, and you said you have more evidence than when you presented at the press conference and in the proffer that leads you to believe that this was something that he cooked up himself? >> i absolutely stand by the investigation.
the detectives did a heck of a job, and i want to commend them on their thoroughness in that investigation. so i have no reason to believe right now than it's anything different than what we've stated it is. now, when he gets his day in court and he's able to say his part of the incident, then we'll see what happens. but right now tonight, the evidence suggests otherwise. it doesn't suggest that the incident occurred the way that he stated it did. >> you guys are very busy in chicago. i want to ask you about r. kelly now. he left the cook county jail this afternoon after posting bail. he was indicted on ten counts of aggravated sexual abuse of four victims. these stories of r. kelly with underage girls have been around for decades. superintendent, why is it taking so long to charge him? >> well, i think a lot of the problem is, don, you know, even like for us, when we are investigating murders and shootings and things of that nature, you know, oftentimes we'll identify people of interest. but it ultimately comes down to whether witnesses or victims are willing to cooperate. you can have all the evidence in the world, but if victims and
witnesses don't want to cooperate, then you kind of reach a point that you can't take it any further. so i think right now what you have with that particular case is people that feel like they were taken advantage of are willing to actually say something right now. >> superintendent, i thank you for your time. you mentioned at the press conference about the people who were victims of gun violence in chicago needing to get attention, and we would love to have you back to discuss that as well. so will you please come back anytime and discuss those issues? >> i'd be glad to, don. thanks for having me. >> thank you, superintendent johnson. appreciate your time. >> okay. patriots owner bob kraft, officially facing charges of soliciting prostitution. all the details of the months-long investigation that led to the bust and what it could mean for the billionaire.
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try all of my chicken creations! chicken! robert kraft, the billionaire owner of the new england patriots, has been charged with soliciting prostitution. investigators say video shows kraft visited a florida day spa to pay for sex acts just hours before the afc championship game. but kraft denies he engaged in any illegal activity. brynn gingras has more now. >> reporter: it appears tom brady is standing by the man who he's won six super bowls with. new england patriots owner robert kraft. this photo of the two hugging taken today. soon after, police in florida released documents alleging kraft solicited sex on the very day of the game that got the pats to this year's super bowl. kraft is one of at least 25 people now charged with soliciting prostitution in palm beach county after a months-long investigation of massage parlors. >> i'm not surprised about the defendants.
defendants in these matters come from every socioeconomic group. and it's just the reality of the times we live in. >> reporter: court paperwork states kraft headed to the orbits of asia day spa if jupiter on the afternoon of january 19th. a track of his private jet shows he flew into florida from boston the day before. and it's cameras that police say caught him soliciting sex acts, not once but twice over the next two days. >> much of our evidence comes directly from the businesses. also from body-worn cameras of our officers and also surveillance. >> reporter: according to police, those cameras show kraft paying for services in cash at the front desk and heading back to a private room. and that's where more cameras allegedly catch the patriots owner undress and lay on a massage table while a woman touches him. kraft spent 40 minutes at the
spa before driving away in a white bentley. a traffic stop confirmed kraft's identity according to the filing. the next day, sunday january 20th, police say kraft came back to the spa at 10:59 in the morning. this time police say the cameras show him laying on a table while a woman performs a sex act. the video allegedly shows kraft paying money to the woman before he leaves 14 minutes later. that afternoon the billionaire's private jet takes off from florida headed to kansas city, touching down in time for kickoff of the afc championship game where the patriots beat the chiefs. after the celebration kraft heads back to boston. the state's attorney says the charges highlight the growing problem of human trafficking. >> human trafficking is built on force, fraud, or coercion. it is evil in our midst. >> reporter: a spokesman says we categorically deny that mr. kraft engaged in any illegal activity. the nfl says its personal conduct policy applies equally across the league and it re mains to be seen what
consequences if any the league's most successful owner will face. "we will handle this allegation in the same way we would handle any issue under the policy," the nfl said in a statement. >> brynn joins me now. thank you for joining us here and giving us a report. what kind of punishment is he looking at? >> the charges carry a year in prison. but because it's the first offense it's more like will i he'll get educational classes he'll have to take and fines for the most part. >> people have been focused on the charges of soliciting prostitution. the human trafficking stuff he is not charged with that. >> correct. >> but the state's attorney general says it's a huge problem. >> the state's attorney general uses his platform to explain how big of a problem it is. he says in this particular case these women were lured into the country in most cases from china, living, working, sleeping, eating, and then being forced to perform these sex acts on people all day long. and saying this is a brothel, this is modern day slavery.
and he's saying the only way it can be stopped is two ways. one, women report it, they realize they have options here when they report it. in some cases that means a visa. and then the other way is cut down demand. the people that take part in this, the alleged defendants in this case, maybe they don't want to know what's going on or they just turn a blind eye. but that's really the way this is going to stop. >> appreciate the report. thank you, brynn gingras. thank you so much. michael cohen starts three days of testimony on capitol hill in just hours. how damaging could it be for the president? i switched to miralax for my constipation. stimulant laxatives forcefully stimulate the nerves in your colon. miralax works with the water in your body to unblock your system naturally. and it doesn't cause bloating, cramping, gas, or sudden urgency. miralax. look for the pink cap. rewards me basically aeverywhere.om so why am i sliding into this ski lodge with my mini horse? because hotels.com lets me do me. sorry, the cold makes him a little horse. hotels.com. you do you and get rewarded.
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this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. here is our breaking news. paul manafort's lawyers are trying to get him a lighter sentence tonight in d.c. district court. they argue that trump's former campaign chairman wouldn't have been prosecuted as harshly for his crimes if robert mueller hadn't been appointed special counsel. manafort's team is also pointing
out in their sentencing memo that mueller hasn't charged him with any illegal coordination with russian officials in 2016. also tonight, the president's former fixer, michael cohen, just hours away from the first of three days of testimony on capitol hill. after years of loyalty to trump cohen is now cooperating with mueller after being sentenced to three years in prison for crimes including some that according to prosecutors were committed in coordination with and at the direction of donald trump. chairman of the house oversight committee elijah cummings says cohen's public testimony could be a turning point in our country's history. well, we'll see if he's right. let's bring in now shimon prokupecz. shimon, good evening to you. what are manafort's attorneys saying in the memo? >> well, essentially, don, what they're saying is that he's being vilified, that he's being treated unfairly, that since robert mueller took over this case he's been treated harshly. they go on to say as you said,
almost trolling the special counsel's office, saying that there's been no collusion, he's not charged with any kind of collusion, there's no evidence of russian collusion against paul manafort. it's exactly what you've been saying. they are asking for leniency. they're asking the judge to consider some of his history. some of his family, his friends have written letters to support him. but i think the main thing is how they're going about this is that they're saying is what he's charged with is it's not about a murder case, it's not about drug cartels, this isn't something so serious that would warrant the kind of treatment he's been getting. and certainly the fact, i think one of the most important things is how they're saying there's no evidence of russian collusion here. >> yeah. let's talk about michael cohen now. he's going to spend the next three days testifying on the hill tomorrow. what do you think he's going to be asked about? >> right. so the big day really -- he starts his tour on the hill tomorrow and then we're going to go into wednesday when we see
him publicly for the first time testifying and really it's going to be about how much does michael cohen want to talk about, how much dirty laundry of donald trump does he want to air and how much are the members of congress going to allow him? look, the department of justice has cleared him to testify on a whole host of issues, from financial dealings with the president to business records to tax issues, to the trump hotel here in washington, d.c., to the trump organization, the foundation. you know, this is a man who's been by the president's side for so many years and knows a lot of information. it's just really a question of how much does michael cohen want to divulge and also in the end how believable is he? he claims he's going to bring in documents, he has other information, but i think it's going to come down to his credibility and how much does everyone believe what he's saying. >> let's talk a little more, then. because he has said, cohen has said, that the president doesn't tell the truth, that he doesn't want to be -- he meaning cohen,
doesn't want to be the villain of the story. should team trump be worried, shimon? >> certainly they should be worried because he's already implicated the president in a crime in new york, out of the southern district of new york. they found him credible. they found what he said was truthful. they included it in court documents. they used it to build their case against michael cohen. the special counsel has believed michael cohen in certain respects of their investigation. so certainly he has that to back what he's saying up. whether or not the public believes it in the end, obviously we're going to wait and see. he does have credibility issues. but members of congress nonetheless feel the need that he needs to come forward. it could be a very bad day for the president no doubt. again, it's all about how much dirty laundry, right? what else does he really have to bring at this point? he knows a lot. and the southern district of new york has relied on him for a lot of their information. certainly as it relates to the
hush money payments and other things they're now investigating. >> shimon, thank you, sir. appreciate it. elie hoenig and phil mudd are here. good evening. michael cohen heads to the hill, three days of testimony. here's what you said in an op-ed. you said, "it will crackle with the human drama, high stakes, and political intrigue of a john grisham novel." we're going to see that in public on wednesday? >> i think we are. and like a john grisham novel your characters are going to have so many dimensions to them. michael cohen, he's not a saint. he's a sinner. he's got some serious baggage. he's been convicted of crimes. but i think his incentive now is to tell the truth. he has no reason to lie. and the big question is, is he corroborated? he's going to be an open book. a decade of being side by side with donald trump and he apparently is set to testify to it all. if i was lucky enough to get a chance to question him i would start with the crimes. >> you said you have five questions. >> i have five. >> which ones are most significant?
>> i'd start with the hush money payments shimon mentioned. he was convicted of that, he said in court he did it with the direction of the president. i then go to his testimony before the senate about the moscow project. and again if you look at the plea documents there, doj said he did this in coordination with others. >> and at the direction of or -- >> who are they? is it the president? we don't know. he had the buzzfeed story that was then sort of rebutted. but who? somebody. i'd go to the inaugural. he made a recording of one of the people involved in the inauguration. those are three sort of rock solid areas. then i'd go fishing a little bit. i'd ask him, did anyone ever float the possibility of a pardon? did anyone on the president's team ever float the possibility of, hey, if he stays quiet maybe he'll get a pardon? and the last question, a little bit of a trick question. when he went into my old office the southern district to cooperate he refused to answer certain questions and that's why the southern district said he was not a full cooperator.
i would say, what questions did they ask you he wouldn't answer? what were you hiding? who were you protecting? >> i wrote all those down. >> that was five. >> that was five. you weren't like -- what's his name? >> rick perry. >> now he's heading that department, the department of education. as i said, unbelievable. the house oversight committee chairman says topics cohen's expected to discuss, they will include this. the president's business practices. hush money payments. potential and actual conflicts of interest. and his compliance with tax laws. his testimony could be very damaging for the president. these are some of the topics elie just honed in on. >> i think that's right. i can't beat a lawyer on what i would ask a witness, but look at the topics. i'd just put him in a couple categories. did you see anything illegal in business practices that preceded the election campaign? did you see anything potentially, i should say, potentially illegal during the campaign? and then some peripheral questions as elie was suggesting
about things specifically like what was happening during the inaugural period. i think one of the most interesting aspects of this, don, is the fact this is going to relate to an investigation that endures after the mueller investigation. i would argue it's going to go on into the next electoral cycle. so as you're watching what he's saying, anticipate that in addition to the illegal stuff all the shameful stuff he talks about about people who may hold positions of power right now may lead to legal action that goes well into next year. i think that's one of the stories here. it's not just law. it's politics. >> elie, michael cohen worked with the president and his family for years. i'm wondering if maybe the children should be worried because they're there in the business with their father alongside him. >> the trump org is in the crosshairs here. that hush money -- those hush money payments went through the trump org and if you look back through the documents one thing i still have my eye on and we still don't know is the checks they cut to silence those women were authorized by executive one and executive two of the trump organization.
we don't know exactly who that is. but that would be high up on my list of questions for michael cohen, who's executive one, who's executive two? the family's got some cause for concern here. >> i wonder with democrats in charge, do you think it's going to be different than when cohen testified in 2017? phil. >> i think it will be. i think it will be more aggressive, it will be longer. if i were democrats i'd be a bit cautious because cohen's already obviously got an issue related to credibility. if you start hammering him during the couple of days, i don't think he's going to be a terrific witness. i do think he's going to be fascinating. but if democrats go too hard after him i'm going to look at this as a former fbi guy and say be careful about undercutting him further. for everybody who says he's not reliable, if he says something different during these days than what he told federal prosecutors under mueller, they're going to come after him. he has a great incentive to speak the truth during these days. >> do you think that credibility