tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN February 26, 2019 3:00pm-4:01pm PST
crimes? cohen has been offering up some surprises before in his closed-door appearance. >> all night long as the president prepares to meet kim jong un in vietnam, we're told he's planning to stay up late to watch his previous lawyer potentially incriminate him in public. >> and rebuking trump. we're awaiting a house vote on overturning the president's emergency declaration at the border. how many republicans will reject his drastic action to build his wall? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. we're following breaking news on michael cohen's congressional testimony. multiple sources now tell cnn
the president's long-time lawyer apologized to the senate intelligence committee for lies he told under oath in 2017. the classified hearing is still under way this hour. it's been going on all day. we're hoping to hear from committee members when it breaks up. also breaking, a republican congressman and key trump loyalist has posted a threatening message to cohen on twitter. it comes just hours before cohen's public testimony tomorrow when he's expected to detail the president's role and his admitted crimes and to reveal new information about mr. trump's conduct in business and as a candidate. i'll talk with congressman denny heck, a member of the house intelligence committee. that committee will hear from cohen on thursday. our correspondents and analysts are also standing by. first let's go to our senior white house correspondent pamela brown. this is day one of a three-day marathon for michael cohen. >> that's right. this is just the beginning, wolf. tomorrow is the most highly
anticipated hearing because it's open to the public, but in a stunning development this afternoon, a sitting member of congress and a trump ally sent out a menacing tweet directed right at cohen. on the eve of his public testimony before the house oversight committee wednesday, michael cohen is being met with a shocking threat from a sitting member of congress. trump ally and gop congressman tweeting today, "hey, michael cohen 212, do your wife and father-in-law now about your girl friends? maybe tonight you would be a good time for that chat. he said the tweet speaks for himself. the apparent attempt to intimidate cohen comes as the president's former lawyer and fixer spent the day behind closed door with the senate
intelligence committee, facing the same lawmakers he previously lied to. republican lawmaker roy blount saying he did spend quite a bit of time before explaining before what wasn't truthful. >> what's the most important thing? >> the truth. >> are you sure -- >> he has a track record of questionable truth. >> reporter: he's expected to divulge intimate behind-the-scenes details about donald trump, discussing some of the crimes he confessed to last year, including payments cohen
claims trump directed him to make. >> he was trying to hide what he was doing, correct? >> yes. >> and he knew it was wrong? of course. >> reporter: the democratic congresswoman jackie spear said she expects cohen to reveal more taped conversations between himself and his former client, if not wednesday, in the near future. >> michael cohen taped many conversations with donald trump. we only have heard about the ones associated with the hush payments for stormy daniels and karen mcdougal. i'm confident that they're probably going to be listening to other tapes at some point that will shed more light on how donald trump, the businessman, skirted the law. >> reporter: house oversight chairman elijah cummings said the chairman is clear to talk to cohen about ten different areas relating to trump after working that out with federal
investigators in new york. and michael cohen defended his tweet saying it's witness testing, not witness tampering. meanwhile, cohen is still meeting with senators behind closed doors. earlier today multiple sources said he apologized to them for lying in the past. wolf? >> pamela brown on capitol hill. thank you. we're going to get back to this developing story. i want to go to vietnam right now where president trump is gearing up for his second summit with kim jong un, just hours from now. but michael cohen's testimony clearly very much on the president's mind. let's go to chief correspondent jim acosta. cohen's testimony could be a major distraction for mr. trump. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. i just spoke with a trump adviser a few moments ago who talked about some of the pounding that michael cohen has been receiving from trump world in the last 24 hours. according to this adviser to the president, michael cohen is,
quote, without a country right now. that goes right to the heart about how many people close to the president feel about his personal attorney right now and all of that is overshadowing what's happening in vietnam. the president will be meeting with kim jong un in about 12 hours from now, hoping for that breakthrough he couldn't achieve the last time the two leaders met and that is some kind of deal to make sure he gives up his nuclear weapons. but the president has worries back home as michael cohen is preparing to testify in front of the cameras tomorrow. possibly a bombshell in the russia investigation. >> reporter: finally their z quell h -- sequel has arrived. the president will be caught in a different split screen as his one-time personal lawyer and now nemesis, michael cohen, testifies on capitol hill, telling lawmakers what he knows about mr. trump's business dealings with the russians and
his payoff to porn star stormy d daniels. sarah huckabee sanders saying in a statement, it's laughable that anyone would teak a convicted like michael cohen at his word. and the rnc is telling him to enjoy life behind bars. >> i've never come across a situation where mr. trump has said something that's not accurate. >> reporter: white house officials will be watching cohen's testimony, looking for any openings to attack the president's former fixer as he's expected to view some of the bomb shell hearings at it airs overnight in vietnam. the president wasn't showing nervousness in hanoi, tweeting about the tremendous crowd showing so much love. but tlast year, president trump
declared there was no longer a nuclear threat with north korea. >> when i did it and i was really being tough and so was he and we had gone back and forth and then we fell in love, okay? no, really. he wrote me beautiful letters and they're great letters. we fell in love. >> reporter: but the president is not feeling the love from democrats, who are seeking to block his national emergency declaration at the border, a bill mr. trump is vowing to veto. >> will i veto it? 100%. and i don't think it survives a veto. we have too many smart people that want border security. i can't imagine it would survive a veto. but i will veto it, yet. >> reporter: democrats say border security is more fiction than fact. >> president trump has more stories than harry potter and all of them are make believe. >> and there are signs a summit
with kim jong un is off to a rocky start already. the north koreans kicked the american press corps out of its work space. the white house barely put up a fight over that before moving reporters to another hotel. the president will have to show more backbone than that. these talks taking police here in vietnam are going to be completely overshadowed by what's happening in washington. as one trump advisor that they feel michael cohen is without a country. that goes to this point they feel at this point right now that michael cohen has officially been ex-canommunicat by somebody he was very close to for many, many years, wolf. >> jim acosta, thank you very much in hanoi. let's bring in will ripley. he's also in hanoi for the
president's summit with kim jong un. will, in one meeting president trump and kim jong un are expected to be alone with only translators. is there concern that could lead to manipulation or mr. trump potentially giving up too much? >> reporter: there certainly is concern from a number of different quarters that president trump is going to be walking into this initial 20 minute face to face with kim jong un at the metropolitan hotel that will be the site for the summit. they'll have 20 minutes together, just their interpreters in the room, similar to what happened back in june in singapore. on the trump side, he's going to go in trying to flatter kim jong un. on the north korean side, that's been their strategy as well. they're forming a mutual a admiration society. but lost is north korea probably
has a larger nuclear arsenal than they did at the beginning of the process. there's been hints that the two leaders could announce a formal end to the korean war, which, you know, a lot of people are wondering how could a concession like that happen when north korea has yet to take a single, verifiable or irreversible step toward denuclearization, wolf? >> that's going to be unfolding over the next 24, 48 hours in hanoi. joining us, democratic congressm congressman, the third panel that michael cohen will face on thursday. thank you for joining us. i want to start with this shocking tweet from republican congressman matt gaetz from florida. he wrote "hey, michael cohen, do your wife and father-in-law know about your girl friends? maybe tonight would be a good
night for that chat. i wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. she's about to learn a lot." >> first, wolf, let me say i've completely run out of patience with people who confuse tweeting the most sensational thing they can with the very hard work of governing in a democratic society, which is pluralistic. i've just had it. i'm done with it. the contest seems to be who can say the most shocking without boundaries, sensational thing possible in a tweet. it was vulgar, it was coarse, it was crude, it was personal and frankly it has no place whatsoever in the discourse what we're engaged in here. none. >> do you think it's witness intimidation? >> i think it reflects more on the person who tweeted it than anything else. and not favorably. >> should the house ethics committee open an inquiry will into congressman matt gaetz's
behavior? >> i don't know, wolf. what he did is unacceptable. whether or not it and of itself it exceeds the threshold of violation of house ethics, i think that's a question better left to the members of the ethics committee who spent an awful lot of their time studying these things and evaluating them against our standards. but it was unacceptable in any way, shape or form. >> we'll check with ted deutch, he's the chairman and we'll see what, if anything, they decide to do about this and we'll see what, if anything, the legal ramifications of this if someone determines there could be a violation of the law. witness intimidation would be a violation of the law. do you suspect this attack, though, may have been coordinated by gaetz with the president and some of his close advisers? >> i don't have any basis for answering the question. let it be said it's not clear to me what it is they can do to him
he doesn't already confront. two months from now michael cohen is going away to prison for years and he knows it. he seem to have entered a phase of his live of atonement. we'll find out. >> reporte >> the last time he testified before your committee, he lied to your committee. that's why he's going to jail. what will be different this time? >> one of the first we're going to do when we have the opportunity to talk to him the day after tomorrow is to actually set forth where he lied and having explained what the actual truth is in that regard. above and beyond that, just about anybody who has been following the sordid affair of the investigation that was prematurely terminated last year but which is now continuing anew, under new management as it were, would come to the conclusion of is that we need to ask him the obvious, did the president ever ask him to violate the law? did the president or then candidate donald trump ever
direct him to violate law. and i'm actually looking forward to the opportunity to talk to him with a great deal of anticipation because i think we're all going to learn something new. >> is there any subject off limits for your closed-door hearing on thursday? >> i think we're going to be fa fairly free within the skiff, the secure facility, to what we need to. >> michael cohen could shed new light on the trump tower/moscow project. what do you hope to learn from him on this specific issue? it raises the question of whether there was collusion. >> absolutely. it's a particular area of ripe opportunity for a discussion to say the least. to first establish what the timeline was in reality. remember that we have been lied to about when it was the conversations stopped. we now know that they went on later. we'd also probably like to know what kind of quid pro quo, if
anything, was offered to vladimir putin in particular as we've all read in open sources. there is a suss that vladimir putin was offered a luxury condominium within the trump tower if the deal could be put together. there's just an awful lot we can and will learn with respect to what the circumstance was throughout 2016, not terminating earlier, as we were once told. >> your democratic colleague, congresswoman jackie spear believes that members of your committee will be able to listen to some of the recordings cohen made of his conversations, including conversations he had with president trump. is that your understanding as well? >> i wouldn't be in a position to reveal what we've been told we'll be able to listen to for obvious reasons, wolf. you always do this to me. no, that's not something we can reveal at this stage. >> has your committee received any documents from cohen to back up his claims? >> same remarks as above, wolf. >> can't talk about that.
the house intelligence committee has been incredibly polarized throughout this investigation. do you think cohen's testimony will change the minds of your republican colleagues or indeed the american public? >> so with respect to the polarization on the committee, i just want to make the point that i'm more than a little bit optimistic that we're going to be able to put this back at a more balanced level. we had a terrific hearing just this morning on the threats to national security that the rise of authoritarianism represents around the world and republicans were present and asking good questions and making good observations, so i think this committee is headed toward a good space in that regard. and well it should be. we remember the ancient rule that partisanship stops at the shores when it comes to foreign policy. that's where i think we need to get back to. but whether or not michael cohen will change minds or some people that have minds that will never be changed with respect to the president's behavior, but the key here, of course, will be when he does, if he does reveal
things, is there corroborating evidence in some way such that it's basically irrefutable? i suspect that will be the case. but stay tuned. >> there's going to be a lot of drama tomorrow when michael cohen appears for hours before the house oversight committee. we'll of course have live coverage starting at 10 a.m. eastern. congressman, thank so much for joining us. >> you're welcome, sir. >> just ahead, we're stand being by to learn more about michael cohen's ominous testimony tonight. and how badly is the president distracted by all of this as he gets ready for his high-profile meeting with kim jong un. tub? lobster: oh, you guys. there's a jet! oh...i needed this. no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on our car insurance with geico. we could have been doing this a long time ago. so, you guys staying at the hotel? yeah, we just got married. oh ho-ho! congratulations! thank you. yeah, i'm afraid of commitment...
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we're following breaking news. a remarkable tweet from a republican lawmaker in the house of representatives, a key ally of president trump as his former fixer and personal lawyer michael cohen testifies before congress. let's dig deeper with our correspondents and and lists. jeffrey toobin, i'll really the tweet, congressman matt gaetz wrote, "hey, michael cohen, do your wife and father know about your girl friends? maybe tonight will be a good time for that chat. i wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. she's about to learn a lot." does that look like a threat to you on the eve of his testimony before the house oversight committee? >> absolutely. it's total gangster stuff. the problem with pursuing that
in a law enforcement context is the president has tweeted worse things about michael cohen. he's threatened mbzichael cohen father-in-law with prosecution. and whatever you think of gaetz, he's not in charge of the justice department. the president charge of the justice department and has threatened cohn's father-in-law with prosecution. so the columbo-gemovese. >> i assume you're not immune from prosecution for threatening a witness testifying before congress either in open or closed session, right? >> you're not, but i think it would be difficult for the justice department to pursue this and not pursue the president and, you know, i just don't think that's going to happen. >> the justice department says they can't charge a sitting president but they can charge a sitting member of the house of
representatives. >> and at a minimum the ethics committee to look into this because this is what they're supposed to do. >> the house ethics committee. >> the house ethics committee. >> matt gaetz said this. >> it's witness testing when people come before the congress with an attempt to perpetuate their continuous lies, we have an opportunity and perhaps an obligation to test who those people lie to. we know michael cohen lies to congress and law enforcement. now we'll find out if he also lies to the people closest to him and i think that will tell a lot about his ability to tell the truth. >> is this witness tampering? >> i think there's a pretty strong argument there could be. the strongest argument as the defense might be the speech and debate clause, he could say this was integral to a legislative purpose, a dumb thing to raise, an important constitutional question, but separately, look, this is potentially witness
tampering, it's also really, really inappropriate. what we're seeing here is a congressman not even pretending to be discharging his constitutional function in conducting oversight but is being open about the fact this is separation of parties, not separation of pows arers, he's taught there to be one of the president's thugs and throw sand in the eyes of the american people. but he's right, donald trump doesn't degrade his own office. the fish rots from the head here. we are seeing the degradation of the entire republican party. >> i love your use of the word inappropriate. it's so quaint. i'm sorry, go ahead. >> no, no, i was just going to say, i agree with everything susan said but i think what gaetz said is worse than what he said in his original tweet. if he wants to say this is hard
knuckle politics and we're going to dish it out to you, that's inappropriate, potential witness tampe tampersiing it, but it is what is. but for him to say he's witness testing versus what he might testify to is truly lowering the bar. >> and give me a break. how does he know -- how does he know what he tweeted? where did he get his information from? he talks to the president all the time, he friends with a lot of people who work for donald trump. i want to know the chain of custody of this tweet and how he gets his information and -- and -- and why he put it out there just now. >> lanny davis, a spokesman and lawyer representing michael cohen issued this statement, quote, we will not respond to mr. gaetz's despicable lies and personal smears except to say we trust his colleagues in the house, both republicans and democrats will repudiate his
words and his conduct. i also trust his constituents will not appreciate their congressman has set a new low, which in today's political culture is hard to imagine as possible. >> it's true. but what i struggle with, are we doing gaetz's work by repeating this slur and getting it out into the national blood stream? i think at the end of the day we have to do this because he's a member of congress. >> and a close ally of the president. >> and a close ally of the president. this is the problem, when you are so irresponsible and raise these charges, should we report every tweet? i think we should but i don't think it's morally uncomplicated. >> but the important point is in the what happens tonight but what happens tomorrow. michael cohen is going to tell a story to the american people by all indications, the president and his allies believe that story is going to be overwhelmingly damaging to the president. so the real intention of this tweet is not necessarily to repeat some salacious rumor. it's to distract from that core
message of what michael cohen has to say tomorrow. >> we know the contest of this is of course gaetz along with republican congressman jim jordan who is on oversight. the "new york times" did a piece and said that they were coordinating with the president to fight back against mueller. and so, you know, this doesn't just happen in a vacuum. he has been a huge defender of the president's, he is very close to the president of the united states. i have a hard time believing that this tweet would have happened without some kind of blessing from somebody in the administration or encouragement from somebody in the administration and i do believe, as jeffrey is saying, that it's i incumbent upon the ethics committee to investigate this because this is not the way members of congress behave before congressional testimony. this is unprecedented to me and i think if i were a member of congress, i would not want the reputation of my institution, which is already pretty low, to
get any lower. >> if in fact somebody did encourage him from the administration to go ahead and issue the statement on twitter and if they conclude this is witness tampering, would that individual who encouraged him to do so be charged potentially with conspiracy to commit witness tampering? >> to be honest, probably not. i think it would be too attenuated and this is in the context of heightened political battle. there is nothing inappropriate about the president's party working in concert to try to discredit a witness who is damaging to them. the problem here is that this is so outside the bounds of normal discourse, even for contested congressional hearings. i think the only person at any risk and i don't think he's in all that much risk is gaetz himself. >> michael cohen's been testifying since 9:30 this morning. it's been going on for hours. he's still inside that room. actually, he's coming out right now. there we see some live pictures.
let's see if he says anything. that's his attorney. >> mr. cohen has had a long day. he wants to make a very brief statement and then we're going to leave. he has had a long day and he wants to make a statement to you guys. >> first of all, i want to thank you all for sticking around and waiting for me. at this point in time i really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record and to tell the truth and i look forward to tomorrow to being able to in my voice to tell the american people my story and i'm going to let the american people decide exactly who's telling the truth. so i want to thank you all again for sticking around. have a good night. >> there you see michael cohen and his lawyers leaving, after spending hours and hours today behind closed doors. i guess they're walking out a different direction.
he made his brief statement. jeffrey, i interrupted you but what do you think? >> i think tomorrow is going to be a really defining home in the trump presidency. because we have not heard from many of the protagonists in this story directly. james comey gave celebrated testimony in 2017, but all through this story, we have been hearing it from journalists and documents and court papers. here we're going to hear from a principal. people will decide whether he's credible or not, but i think in terms of, you know, how often have we talked about stormy daniels and the money paid to karen mcdougal. here is the person who actually arranged the payment and he's going to talk about how it was done. >> he testified today for nine or ten hours. that's a long, long day. tomorrow he's going to do probably the same thing. is he going to be too tired? this is going to be a serious iss issue.
>> i don't think he'll be too tired. this is why it's so important we have as much as possible of this testimony in public before the cameras so the american people can mack up their mind. some people will not believe michael cohen, some will. the body politic is the ultimate judge and jury that he knows and will say about anything he says about the president and his inner circle. >> he may bring documents. we don't know what those documents are, whether they're trump financials or other situations to prove on the payments to the mistresses, et cetera, et cetera. he's go to weave this narrative that describes the president as a liar and cheat. that's why we see matt gaetz and why we'll see the president's defenders attack him publicly for the cameras. so it will probably be more trying for him than it was behind closed doors today because the cameras are going to be there and the republicans are going to go after him as a witness who has credibility problems and he does have
credibility problems. he's admitted to lying to congress. m manu raju reported he apologized for that. >> and michael cohen has already stood up in a new york courtroom and said that the president of the united states directed him to commit a crime, not just any kind of crime, a crime to hide material information from the american people in order to influence the leelection in whi he was elected president. >> hold on. there's more breaking news unfolding up on capitol hill. the house of representatives voting on overturning the emergency declaration president trump made to fund the border wall with mexico. let's go to our congressional correspondent, sunlen serfaty.
>> they have the votes they need, the democrats to push this over to the senate. notably 13 republicans breaking ranks in defiance of the president in his wishes for the border wall and voting with the democrats tonight. now, the bill does head now over to the senate where that certainly is the real showdown. the fact that you have a republican-led senate here and the margins for republicans are razor thin. they need at least four republican senators to break ranks and vote with the democrats if senate republicans want to send this bill to president trump's desk. and we've heard from many republican senators voicing their concern over this national emergency declaration, thom till tillis, susan murkowscollins an
murkowski will vote to overturn. the senate has a little bit more time. they're required to take this up within 18 days. very clear that they're essentially going to drag their feet a little bit. we heard from republican leaders today, mitch mcconnell, said sometime within the next few weeks we'll vote on this. and if president trump does veto that bill, republican leaders are confident they do have the support they need to likely make sure that they are not have enough to override a presidential veto, essentially making the national declaration
going forth, even after all of this exercise and voting up here on capitol hill. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you. if the president loses in the senate, that will be a setback, even if he goes ahead and vetoes. >> the senate is not in any rush to take it up but if he loses in the senate, he'll just veto it and they're not going to override his veto. but there was a luncheon and senators expressed their great displeasure at the president for abusing presidential authority in all of this, reminding the administration that just wait, there could be a democratic president one day and this sets a precedent that you don't want. so conservatives are not generally thrilled about it but in the end, the president will probably get he is way with a veto. >> keep in mind there are several court cases now working their way through the courts challenges this national emergency. so even if congress does not succeed in overriding the national emergency, which it looks like they won't, the
courts are going to act and we'll see how that goes. >> let's go get back to michael cohen's testimony. i want to you listen to mark western werner, the vice chairman of the senate committee. he emerged and said this. >> the only comment i'm going to make is that two years ago when this investigation started, i said it may be the most important thing i'm involved in in my public life in the senate and nothing i've heard today dissuades me from that view. >> certainly underscoring how significant and potentially momentous the michael cohen testimony is. >> absolutely. and if that sort of, you know, vague description of what he heard today is any indication, it at least means that what he heard was something significant and not irrelevant to all of the discussion going on about what the house and senate and the special counsel investigation is looking into with respect to the president and his inaner circle. whether anything rises to a
crime is unanswered but it suggests that senator werner thinks that relevant information. >> you've heard all the comparisons that have been made between michael cohen and john dean, richard nixon's white house lawyer, who eventually went up to capitol hill and testified against the then president. are there similarities here? >> there are great similarities but there's one huge difference. the similarity is that both dean and cone were very close to the center of power. the huge, huge difference was that john dean was ultimately corroborated with the white house tapes, that virtually everything john dean said about telling nixon there was a cancer on the presidency was shown to be true. as far as we know, and we'll see, there is nothing equivalent here, so michael cohen will never be vindicated or refuted in that certain way, the way the tapes -- >> and john dean was in the
white house. >> right. >> donald trump never brought michael cohen to the white house and it upset michael cohen tremendously. so dean was at the center of the cancer on the presidency and michael cohen was in new york still working for donald trump and working for him during the campaign. so there's a big difference. >> but you know, gloria, and everybody knows right now that michael cohen tape recorded -- taped a lot of his phone conversations, if not all of his phone conversations, including with donald trump. >> right. and we don't, you know, honestly, wolf, we have the tape that cnn played. i'm not so sure there are other significant tapes with donald trump at all. but we're going to have to see what cohen testifies to. >> one thing to keep in mind is one of the issues that cohen is expected to testify about is potential finance crimes. these are areas in which they do tend to produce documents. you could imagine a situation in which michael cohen tells his story and it's now the work of congress an investigators to pick that you baton and go out and use that road map to find
precisely the corroborating evidence necessary for an impeachment hearing. >> remember cohen has already spoken extensively to the mueller team and to the prosecutors in the southern district of new york. so any leads that we may learn about tomorrow, the prosecutors already have them. and that, you know, and presumably are acting on them. the mueller investigation is winding up. maybe they're not using them but they've heard this story already. >> but on the issue of corroboration and at least one significant accusation at that the president directed him to commit a crime, prosecutors did allow michael cohen say that in court. >> this hearing tomorrow, everybody is going to be watching starting at 10 a.m. eastern what michael cohen actually says. it's interesting, i think jeffrey and gloria are
absolutely right, the prosecutor, the special counsel or other u.s. attorneys, they already know what michael cohen has, what he doesn't have and as far as charging the president, the ruling of justice department right now, you can't charge a sitting president. but the house of representatives can begin preechimpeachment proceedings if they want based on what they hear. >> it's in the constitution to at least consider it. politically impeachment may not make sense and democratic leadership has signalled it does not make sense. can i just go back and try to try everything we talked about in the last couple minutes together? imagine someone like senator goldwater rolling over in their grave right now. on the one hand you have the republicans in the senate potentially poised to approve the president of the united
states, approving an emergency declaration to build a wall over people's private property. on the other hand, you have republicans refusing to hold accountable at least up to this point the president of the united states for testimony that we haven't heard yet, but potentially, you know, collusion with a foreign power. >> we'll have more on the breaking news. much more right after this. you have a clear plan to cover the essentials in retirement, as well as all the things you want to do. and on the way, you'll get timely investment help to keep you on the right track, without the unnecessary fees you might expect from so many financial firms. because when you have a partner who gives you clarity at every step, there's nothing to stop you from moving forward.
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michael cohen wrapped up. sources say it included an apology. our chief political analyst -- >> reporter: he was the ultimate loyalist, protector and defender. >> kind, humble, honest and genuine. >> reporter: the trump fixer, who said he would take a bullet for his idol, his boss. >> they say i'm mr. trump's pit
bull, that i'm his right-hand man. >> reporter: now in a plot twist worthy of shakespeare, the fixer has flipped. >> i am done with the lying. i am done being loyal to president trump. >> reporter: prosecutors say he has provided relevant and useful information on contacts with persons connected to the white house. in his own conversations with individual number one, aka candidate donald trump, to criminally influence the election. in more than 70 hours of interviews, cohen confessed to his own financial crimes and past lies and stands to pay the price, three years in prison. but before he goes behind bars, he's going in front of congress and before cameras now willing to testify publicly to what he knows about trump's behavior, in business and as a presidential candidate. >> i think the public needs to know exactly what happened. and i think he can shed that light on it.
>> michael cohen is lying and he's trying to get a reduced sentence. he's a weak person, and not a very smart person. >> this man has turned a corner in his life, has hit a reset button and he's now dedicated to telling the truth. >> reporter: no longer dedicated to being donald trump's mini me, as he was when he started working for the boss more than a decade ago. >> michael was, i'd always like to say the ray donovan of the office. he took care of what had to be taken care of. i don't know what had to be taken care of, but all i know is that michael was taking care of it. >> he's the guy you can call at 3 in the morning when you had a problem. >> reporter: do you know stories of donald trump calling him at 3 in the morning? >> donald trump has called him at all hours of the night. >> reporter: he's not call noin now because cohen is singing.
tr cohen says he was in contact with trump lawyers and white house staff as he prepared a false statement for congress. and he coordinated payoffs to women accusing trump of sexual relations, even releasing a secret recording about one of them. when it comes time for the financing -- >> what financing? >> reporter: all part of the job. >> my job is i protect mr. trump. that's what it is. >> reporter: it's going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a $500 million lawsuit. >> reporter: often with threats as in this 2015 conversation with a reporter. >> i'm warning you, tread very [ bleep ] lightly because what i'm going to do to you is going to be [ bleep ] disgusting. do you understand me? >> this is also part of the trump/cohen method. you skate on the edge of what's reasonable and maybe even what's
ethical and legal. >> reporter: now cohen says he's the one being threatened about his former boss. >> he should give information maybe on his father-in-law because that's the one that people want to look at because where does that money -- that's the money in the family. >> reporter: after that cohen initially backed out of his planned congressional testimony before finally agreeing to sit down in front of three committees this week. >> reporter: the president of the united states is essentially threatening his family, which to me is another act of potential obstruction of justice. >> reporter: cohen first came after buying apartments in trump's developments, then went to the mat for trump at one of his condo boards and won and trump loved it. >> it was much more than a attorney/client relationship, almost father and son kind of thing. >> reporter: but when trump
became president, he did not bring his brash wing man to washington. do you think he wanted to be in the white house, be white house counsel or -- >> there must have been a part of him that was dreaming of a great job at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. but he's also the guy who not only knows where all the bodies are buried, he buried a lot of them himself. and that, ironically, disqualified him. >> reporter: maybe from working in the white house, but not from working with bob mueller and testifying before congress. and, wolf, when he was donald trump's defender, there was no great are defender. and now that he's donald trump's enemy, there may be no greater enemy for the president. >> and that hearing tomorrow is going to be explosive at 10 a.m. eastern. gloria, good work. much more on the breaks news right after this. liberty mutual accident forgiveness
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we're going to have much more on the breaks news about michael cohen's testimony up on capitol hill. but another breaking story emerging right now coming into the situation room. late this afternoon the former vice president joe biden dropped another major, major hint about whether or not he will enter the 2020 democratic presidential contest. listen to what he told an audience at the university of delaware. >> we do everything by family meetings because no man or woman has a right to run for high
public office without it being a family decision. and there's a consensus that i should -- they want, they the most important people in my life, want me to run. the first hurdle for me was deciding whether or not i am comfortable taking the family through what would be a very, very, very difficult campaign. i'm certain about where the family is. but the second piece is that i don't want this to be a fool's errand. and i want to make sure that if we do this and we're very close to getting to a decision that i am fully prepared to do it. but, you know -- >> oh, god, just say yes! >> but i'm not there yet. >> but he did say they want me to run, referring to his family, a very significant statement.
i'll be back tomorrow morning at the a.m. eastern for our special cnn coverage of michael cohen's testimony before the house oversight committee. in the meantime, follow me on twitter and instagram at wolf blitzer, tweet the show. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. breaking news, michael cohen speaking to cameras moments ago after what senator called an extensive grilling, nine hours. lawmakers surprised by what he revealed. what did he say? plus cohen going live tomorrow for all of us to see, publicly testifying. trump's former fixer is going to be there. and president trump about to sit down with kim jong un. but is trump just too focused on what's happening back at home? let's go "outfront." good evening, i'm erin burnett. breaking news, president trump's