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tv   Early Start with Christine Romans and Dave Briggs  CNN  February 27, 2019 2:00am-3:00am PST

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mr. stone told mr. trump that he had just gotten off the phone with julian assange, and that wi mr. assange told mr. stone within a few days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign. mr. trump responded by stating to the effect of wouldn't that be great. despite that advance word, michael cohen would not talk about today's testimony that features heavily in these prepared remarks. cohen claims that the president pushed hard for the trump tower moscow project all during the presidential campaign, while saying publicly he had no pass in russia. cohen offers his explanation for why. >> he will say, to be clear, mr. trump knew of and directed the trump moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it. he lied about it because he never expected to win the election. he also lied about it because he stood to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the moscow real estate project. >> cohen is also set to testify extensively about hush payments
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to stormy daniels. when the president was asked about it on air force one, you remember, he denied knowing anything about its source. >> mr. trump, did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no, no, what else? >> why did michael cohen make this if there was no truth to her allegations? >> you'll have to ask michael cohen. michael was my attorney. you'll have to ask michael. >> do you know where he got the money? >> no, i don't know. >> cohen will say that he paid and mr. trump wrote him a series of illegal reimbursement checks. quote. he asked me to pay off an adult film star with whom he had an affair and to lie to his wife about it which i did. lying to the first lady is one of my biggest regrets. she is a kind, good person. i respect her greatly and she did is not deserve that. >> president trump making it to vietnam, he never fought in the
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war there, of course, receiving a medical deferment. and michael cohen plans to share a conversation about that deferment. he's set to tell lawmakers mr. trump claimed it was because of a bone spur but when they asked for medical records he gave me none and said there was no surgery. he told me not to answer specific questions by reporters but rather offer the fact that he received a medical deferment. he finished the conversation with the following comment. you think i'm stupid. i wasn't going to vietnam. cohen adds, i find it ironic, president trump, that you are in vietnam right now. basically, cohen will be testifying knowing that the president is likely watching that testimony or at least reading and hearing about it. >> yeah. and the president is unnerved by all of this. he's commented to all of this on his preferred media which is twitter. the president saying regarding vietnam, quote, i have never spent more time in vietnam than
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da nang dick blummen that, the third rate senator from connecticut, how is connecticut doing? his war stories of his heroism was a total fraud. he was never even there. we talked about it today with vietnamese leaders. >> how is he talking to the leaders about him? >> is the president mocking a senator in vietnam? >> given what team duckworth has given to the president, they have their own make names. hers is cadet bone spurs for president trump. he'd be mocking a united states senator. but blumenthal was dishonest about his service in vietnam. >> president of the united states famously has said his personal vietnam was surviving the night life of new york city without getting an std. and that's, you know, insulting, quite frankly, for many people
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who lost their lives or family members in vietnam. >> a lot to comb through in these 20 pages. yesterday, cohen was grilled behind closed-door for nine hours. that is the very committee that cohen lied to initially. multiple sources familiar with the interview telling cnn he apologized for that lying during his 2017 testimony. here's what cohen told reporters as he left the committee. >> 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. >> the committee's ranking democrat, virginia senator mark warner wouldn't discuss details of cohen's testimony but did suggest the stakes are sky high. >> two years ago, when this investigation started, i said it may be the most important thing
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i'm involved in my public life in the senate. and nothing i've heard today dissuades me from that view. >> this is the adult committee, if you will, in congress, on capitol hill. probably the one who has done the most bipartisan work when it comes to russia investigation. so they're going to determine how much of this is pivotal, how much matters. mark warner is not a flame-thrower. not one to overexaggerate words. that means a lot. >> president trump getting ahead of cohen's testimony with a tweet. tweeting michael cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me unfortunately. he had other clients also. he was just disbarred by the supreme court for lying and fraud. he did bad things unrelated to trump. he's lying in order to reduce his prison time using crook aed lawyer, lanny davis. >> and that will likely be
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subject of many upcoming books. and republican matt gaetz of florida evidently threatening michael cohen on the eve of his public testimony. gaetz has been called the, quote, trumpiest congressman in washington, tweeting this. and this is stunning, folks. hey michael cohen do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? maybe tonight would 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. a united states congressman with what many law professors is textbook witness intimidation. folks, just let that marinate for a while. that was a new low, even for a man who shouted down the father of a parkland victim because he said president trump's wall would do more to protect americans than gun legislation.
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nancy pelosi reprimands gaetz saying comments like his make it harder for an investigation. and gaetz deleting the first post and posting another one. while it's important to create context around liars like michael cohen it was not my intent to threaten as some believe i did. let me just give you a little context. initially, he sent up that tweet. his spokesperson said that tweet speaks for itself. >> that's right. >> gaetz went before cameras. was unapologetic. clearly the wheels spun and someone in leadership got to him then the apology. >> let's talk to michael cohen. we've made a mashup of sounds of things the president has said about michael cohen, showing how close he was to the president. what a fierce supporter he was of the president, listen. >> i will use my legal skills
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within which to protect mr. president-elect trump to the best of my ability. i protect mr. trump. i'll do anything to protect mr. trump. i'm obviously very loyal and dedicated to mr. trump. >> you know, he was a constant supporting the president during the campaign. you see him behind the president. always there, a fixture around the president. clearly this is somebody close to the president. >> not many people spend ten years working for a man that they don't have a tight relationship. michael cohen reportedly saying he would take a bullet for the president. he would do anything for the president for those ten years. and it appears that this relationship began to break down when michael cohen did not get to come to the white house as he expected. some thought he was so confident that he might be considered for chief of staff or counsel. he was left out of the mix
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because someone decided this guy cannot be around the white house. the president made that decision and you see the investigation unfold from there. >> the testimony begins at 10:00, you can join cnn for analysis all morning. we'll have more right after this break. ♪ t-mobile will do the math for you. right now, when you join t-mobile, you get two lines of unlimited with two of the latest phones included for just one hundred bucks a month. you wouldn't accept an incomplete job from any one else. why accept it from your allergy pills? most pills don't finish the job because they don't relieve nasal congestion. flonase sensimist is different. it relieves all your worst symptoms, including nasal congestion, which most pills don't.
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febreze one neutralizes stale, stuffy odors and releases a subtle hint of fragrance like bamboo or lemongrass ginger. to eliminate odors with no heavy perfumes, try new febreze one. brand power. helping you buy better. all right. welcome back to "early start." 5:13 eastern time. again, setting up this dramatic demeanor from former trump attorney and fixer michael cohen. 10:00 a.m. this morning, when michael cohen will change the trump presidency if he is to be believed. and a lot of this comes down to credibility. one liar versus another. on the other hand, christine, a lot of this comes down to direct evidence. >> that's right. and there will be documents that michael cohen will bring to this committee. he will show a check that the president quote as president reimbursing michael cohen for hush money payments to women that cohen said the president had affairs with.
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that he wanted to be kept out of the public eye. and cohen says he regrets lying to president as wife about them. >> after that, we will ask elie honig, an attorney, what legal damage will come out of that first one. >> it's also going to show some letters that he wrote at the president's behest that threatened the president's high school, the test and college board which runs the s.a.t. not to release his grades or test scores. the president was adamant that these never become public. the irony, michael cohen says, in the testimony, in 2011, mr. trump had criticized president obama for not releasing his grades and declared that obama was a terrible student. but trump went to great lengths never to have his grades ever shown. also, there's a whole section here about document achation shg that trump arranged for a fake
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bidder to purchase a portrait of trump at the end of the charity auction, reimbursing him at a charity organization, essentially buying it for himself and a fake bidder. >> that one comes down to the trump charity which is the trump charity just like is the trump investigation, or the presumably that's turned over is the new york attorney general. >> that's right. we haven't seen the president's tax returns and that's something is that many of us have been hammering away at for some time now. the first president in modern history who has not shown his tax returns. and we don't know what they show. but there in this testimony, michael cohen is going to say that the president showed him what he claims is a $10 million tax refund. and he said he could not believe how stupid the government was for giving someone like him that
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much money back. >> that's certainly not evidence of tax fraud. just the loopholes that could exist in the u.s. tax code. >> it is more detailed how close michael cohen was to this president. >> there will certainly be questions about insurance fraud. we've heard something about insurance claims related to damage to mar-a-lago down in florida. just so many question that the house oversight committee will have today. and when you talk about just the drama that's set up today, on one hand, you'll have alexandria ocasio-cortez who never shies away from the spotlight. but on the other hand you'll have jim jordan, a republican, who is a staunch defender of this president, will certainly attack every ounce of credibility of michael cohen he can. now -- >> let's talk to zach right now, zach wolf is here joining us from washington. he's the cnn digital politics director. zach, you've been listening to us chewing over the 20 pages of
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testimony here. the president's former attorney and fixer is going to go in front of the nation and call the president of the united states, a racist, a con man, and a cheat. >> it's an incredible thing that we're about to see. he's about to essentially finger him as individual number one, in this -- you know, in his own legal problems, say that he gave the personal checks to avoid being detected for those payoffs to women alleging affairs. he's especially going to spill the beans on the president. i didn't -- reading over this. my jaw was kind of dropping to the ground at the language he was using. you know, just -- and to sort of end it with the draft deferments while trump is in vietnam. you know he's going to be burning the midnight oil, watching this unfold as he's trying to meet with world leaders with north korea's kim jong-un. >> and michael cohen, it's
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almost as if he's speaking directly to the president at times during his testimony. >> that's right. he directly addresses him, it's like he knows president trump, his former boss, this person he said he sacrificed so much for, he knows he's going to be watching and speaking directly to him. it's something. >> a lot of this will come down to the documents and evidence that michael cohen brings to the testimony. we've shown some of the elements. but a lot of it comes down to the credibility. and do the american people believe michael cohen. when we talk about that trump tower meeting in 2016 with russians promising dirt on hillary clinton, here's one of the pivotal questions of do you believe michael cohen? does he seem credible? because he says, i remember being in the room with mr. trump in early 2016, something peculiar happened. don junior walked behind the desk and spoke to the president in his ear. he said i could clearly hear him saying, the meeting, the trump tower meeting with russians promising dirt on hillary clinton, the meeting is all set.
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i remember mr. trump saying, okay, good. let me know. what does it mean if that in fact is true, zach? >> i think that would be a horribly damning thing if it's true. the problem is, it's very hard to prove, you know, we'll have michael cohen saying it. but there's sort of a difference between that and some kind of a paper trail. you know, the white house has already been saying that cohen's a liar. cohen's admitted to lying. he admits in here to lying. so it becomes hard to believe him on some of these more pivotal accusations, i think. you know, at least that's what the -- president trump's advisers and advocates will say. >> we've been talking about some of the documents that will be presented today, including a copy of a check the president wrote from his personal bank account after he became president, to reimburse michael cohen for the hush money payments he made to cover up for stormy daniels. he's also going to bring copy of
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financial statements for several years that he gave to such institutions such as deutsche bank and others here. how important are those statements? >> these are apparently documents that show that trump was inflating his net worth, apparently, to get on the forbes list or to buy the buffalo bills. and that's different, cohen is going to say, apparently, or plans to say, at other times when he was paying taxes, he would deflate his net worth. i'd rather see the two kind of side by side. the smoking gun for me would be to see the tax returns. >> yeah. >> we have him talking abe that, but not seeing it. you know, forbes has talked a lot about, you know, stuff that trump has provided to them. so, we know a lot about sort of the inflated worth that he's made. those will be less helpful. but i think it will be interesting to take a look at them. >> yeah. and probably less important than some of the accusations that michael cohen will make, if in fact, he is to be believed.
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zach, how much does this change the trajectory of the trump presidency potentially? >> that's a really tough question. and honestly, i'm not sure at the end of the day it will that much. it certainly puts a stain on everything that trump is trying to do. we've been talking essentially about, you know, the hush payments. the russia investigation, all of these things for a good part of the trump presidency. it's already been stained by all of this. that's the first thing i would say. and then secondly, as to whether or not this will affect his re-election which is perhaps more important at this point. americans already knew a lot of bad things about trump when they elected him. according to exit polls, they didn't really like him much when they elected him. i'm not sure this is going to change that perception of him. it could certainly drum up more opposition. it could harden, get more people
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excited to oppose him. >> so did people vote for a knowing racist, con man, cheat? that is frightening but i think to the accusations of proving collusion and tax fraud. some of the investigations of new york and the sndy, michael cohen can change the consequences of this president. we'll seek with elie honig for that. >> don't go away. the whole conversation begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. just under 4 1/2 hours. we'll be right back. and 2 boxes of twizzlers.. yeah, uh...for the team... the team? gooo team.... order online pickup in an hour. get up to $200 off on pcs and your tech destination. at office depot officemax and your mother told me all her life that i should fix it. now it reminds me of her. i'm just glad i never fixed it.
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okay. isn't just in just a few hour, michael cohen will deliver bombshell testimony about president trump to a house committee. but we already have a pretty good idea of what he's going to say. we've already obtained, well, frankly his jaw-dropping remarks. joining us cnn analyst ellie ie hon honig. good morning. there's reference to a paymentoff check for stormy daniels. and there's also information that relates to roger stone being in communication with julian assange on the wikileaks investigation. >> the strongest case, dave, is made out with that check on the hush money violations. i went through and saw six or seven years if proven would make out criminal liability by the president. the one where the proof is the
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strongest is the hush payment obligations. cohen already pled guilty to this. we know doj signed on to that. now, we have financial documents and a check not just from the president's organization or foundation, but a personal check from the president while he was president in 2017. so, i think that's the most strongly supportive of the criminal conduct outlined in this statement. >> so glad to you have walk through this testimony with us. in just a few hours, these 20 pages certainly a bombshell. let's bring in jim sciutto our international correspondent traveling with the president in hanoi. clearly, while this is on the president's mind if you look at his twitter feed, jim. . it is, if you look at cohen's statement, we have been told that cohen would not touch the subject of russia, that is off-limits in effect because of special counsel's investigation. but there are statements that get to the core. these are not small revelations
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for him. they get to the core of what the investigation was looking into. does the president, number one, know in advance of these wikileaks releases? cohen appears ready to testify that, yes, that roger stone told trump in advance about them and that gets to the question of fundamental cooperation here. there are some who will say foreknowledge of that as the president said is operation research, et cetera. but at the end of the day, that's getting a heads-up from wikileaks which intelligence views as really an origin of it. to help donald trump. it raises the question, cohen is testifying this, does robert mueller have proof to back that up. >> right. >> does he have -- because cohen says that there was direct communication between stone and julian assange. does robert mueller have electronic evidence of that? that's one thing.
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the other thing goes to the trump tower meeting in 2016 where cohen says that don junior, the president's son and candidate's son, let him know that meeting was coming, which of course makes a liar of the president. but also, again, gets to the president knowing about what was really, to date, the biggest example of cooperation, right? you know, the trump team accepting a meeting from russia knowing they were getting these stolen e-mails. those are a big deal. >> yeah. >> of course, the president will, as he's done, attack cohen's credibility. it will attack cohen's credibility, but it raises the question, does robert mueller have evidence to further back those claims up. >> that is such a good point. let's talk about these two pieces that you brought up here this morning. let's talk about wikileaks and roger stone. this is what michael cohen is going to say today, in july 2016, days before the democratic convention, i was in mr. trump's
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office when his secretary announced that roger stone on the phone. mr. trump put mr. stone on the speaker phone. mr. trump. and mr. trump responded to the effect of wouldn't that be great. elie honig, how important is that admission for michael cohen? >> it's important, get those phone records, right? if i'm robert mueller looking at a piece of testimony, okay, good, we have a date, we can probably narrow it down, july 2016. was there a recall from roger stone into the trump tower or donald trump himself. if you can get that, that's what we mean when we talk about corroboration. something that backs up an important part of the story. and in looking at that connection between when the president knew about the hack, the wikileaks release, remember, again, doj has, to an extent,
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corroborated that. in roger stone's indictment, doj talks about how various senior campaign officials knew about and directed roger stone. and wikileaks there's that conspicuous use of the passive voice saying one of the senior trump officials was directed to get in touch with wikileaks. there's a lot of speculation, who would be the passive voice and who would direct senior officials. i consider that partial corroboration for what he's saying there. >> going beyond partial corroboration, elie, roger stone is on trial how much more pivotal does that make that trial? >> that trial will go to trial if stone doesn't plea out or get pardoned. stone is on trial for lying. in any trial, there's collateral damage. there's other people not sitting at the defendant's table who
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take on damage who aren't there to cross examine. i think we'll see the senior trump officials, plural, named in the document and identified. >> jim. >> the other thing that's interesting that response from cohen of the president's response, wouldn't that be great, reminds you of donald trump jr.'s response to the tower, i love it, if that's true, that was his response when he was told that the russians would be bringing damaging information on hillary clinton. that gets to another question that when russia or wikileaks reached out to help, there was no question of it, again, based on these accounts, or based on e-mails that we've seen from the trump campaign. there was willingness. there was excitement about it. and that's another issue, because that goes to the question of, at least, interest in cooperation. with a country that was
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interfering with the election. >> president on the campaign trail said, russia, are you listen? >> russia, are you listening? he glorified wikileaks. for somebody just joining us at 5:33, if you're just waking up, turning on the television. we're discussing bombshell remarks that michel cohen the president's personal fixer and lawyer will testify at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. jim, with the important context, president trump has made more than 8,000 false or misleading statements during his presidency, why should we believe michael cohen? >> yeah, it's a fair question. listen, the president, all the way from vietnam, as he's preparing for a face-to-face meeting with the north korea leader on a nuclear issue is attacking cohen's credibility which is something he's done before. and you're going to hear that from all of the president's surrogates as well. it's interesting, though. you look at this letter, because cohen says, you know, the thing that he lied to congress about
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was those trump tower discussions, right? saying that they ended earlier than in fact they did. they went well into the campaign. cohen says that his testimony that he gave, his false testimony that he gave to congress, was reviewed by president trump's personal lawyers. so, according to cohen, they knew that he was giving false testimony. and that involves, to some degree, at least indirectly, that involves the president in that false testimony. so, that's a qualifier, in effect, on has become the president's chief attack line on cohen that he's a liar, et cetera. we should line that up against this, yes, and the president also said today that cohen was one of many lawyers that worked with him. that's just not true. cohen was deeply involved in all of the president's business and personal affairs for more than a decade. and you'll remember in that famous air force one denial about the hush money payments to those women, the president teed
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up, said speak to my lawyer, he's michael cohen. so, cohen was involved. based on cohen's testimony, trump's lawyers were involved on capitol hill. more difficult to make that argument that he's a liar and you had no involvement with him and cohen said they knew it. >> you can see from the testimony how deeply involved michael cohen, right down to writing threatening letters to the high school and college board saying never release his grades. he was the president's pit bull. he was the president's pit bull. >> elie, a lot will come down to the political, we know trump supporters are with him hell and high water. he's at 89% or 90% with the republican party. a lot of this will be legal. what is the most potentially damaging thing that michael cohen will present today? >> it will all come down to his
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credibility which will all turn on corroboration, right? how much can be proven by things when you don't just have to take michael cohen's word at face value. how many things that michael coh cohen's testimony can you prove without a document. and with michael cohen, he's inherently fraud. he's plead guilty to lying already. that's where you start out with somebody like this. it's hard to take a witness just believe, just because, just because he's made a personal transformation. what you have to do is tie it to other things. and it looks from his opening statement that michael cohen does have some of those documents, some of those receipts. and reportedly, some of the things he's saying has been hinted at or reflected in prior doj filings. and talking about the doj, i circled that when i saw it. cohen said i ran that by trump's personal attorneys. we don't know exactly who that
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is. he's had a lot of personal attorneys. that brought back to mind when michael cohen pled guilty to that false testimony. doj alleged that cohen had provided cooperation about, quote, the circumstances of preparing and circumstance lating his false testimony. so even a couple months ago, we had an indication that doj knew that michael cohen ran that testimony by other people, preparing and circulating. and now we have an indication from michael cohen who some of those people might have been. again, that's another indicator of credibility. >> fascinating. jim, there's another point i want to bring up here. something in the testimony that i want to mention again. this is don junior telling donald trump about that trump tower meeting with russians. now, this is just fascinating what michael cohen is going to say. he's going to recount this experience he had with the president. i remember being in the room with mr. trump probably in early june 2016 when something peculiar happened. don junior came into the room and walked behind his father's
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desk which in itself was unusual. people didn't just walk behind mr. trump's desk to talk to him. i recall don junior leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice which i could clearly hear and saying, the meeting is all set. i remember mr. trump saying, okay, good, let me know. wow. >> well, listen, if that's true, and if it is correctly donald trump jr. speaking about the trump tower meeting in july 2016, the timing there seems to be consistent with that, that would make a liar of the president, right? and it would make a liar of many of the surrogates who have denied repeatedly since the revelation of that. remember, there have already been lies exposed about that meeting. you remember the famous statement composed in air force one in the wake of that when the story was coming out that the president took part in, saying
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the meeting was about adoptions when in fact they were expecting this explosive e-mail about hillary clinton. so, they've been made liars and that's been documents, if cohen's testimony is true, he's saying that the president lied then. and has lied repeatedly since then, about his knowledge of that meeting. and again, as i said earlier, it raises a question, it only cohen saying this or did other cooperating witnesses say this? >> right. >> there are loads of folks, rick gates, the campaign chairman deeply involved at that stage, he's been cooperating with the special counsel. have they testified to the same. and crucially, does robert mueller who has enormous resources, does he have other ways of corroborating that? it's key. it's key. >> so, we don't know a lot about how republicans will attack the credibility of michael cohen. certainly, they will, jim jordan, mark meadows and others
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on the house oversight committee. but we do know this. we have a stunning tweet ahead of all of this from a united states congressman. and you might be shocked when i read you the tweet of matt gaetz, ahead of the testimony of michael cohen. he tweeted do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? maybe tonight would 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. he has since apologized and deleted that defeat. but there are a couple law professor professors, elie say this is witness tampering. did he cross a legal line here? >> legally, it's interesting. look, it's a low-life cheap shot. i used to do mob cases and i've seen all kinds of threats. but when you think about what he said about the wife while
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cohen's in prison that's pond the pale. there is a decision in my mind beyond threatening consequences outside the court. i think the threatens the father-in-law that the president tweeted if you testify, we'll open the investigation about your father-in-law and has the ability to do that. what is generally accepted, it's not pretty, but what is generally accepted is smack talk from defense lawyers. every lawyer i ever put on the defense lawyer said to me or the media, i'm going to tear this guy apart. i'm going to expose him as a slie liar. i'm going to expose his extramarital affairs. those kind of things are seen in the bout, i guess. but the part is your wife going to stay faithful to you while you're in jail? i think that crossed the line. it's disgraceful. >> lawrence at harvard said he deserves to be decided and kicked out of congress.
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jim, i mean, you're a veteran of washington. i don't think i've seen something like this before. >> and, you know, he sort of apologized, right? >> right. >> he first of all said it was witness testing, not tampering. what else it, you know? it fits a pattern, as you noted, the president has already in effect, and i'm not the lawyer here, he certainly threatened a witness talking about investigating his father. and the idea, defended it getting to his credibility what his wife's faithfulness to him while in prison, goes to his credibility, there's no explanation for that, it's just dirty. it's dirty. i have to say, though, we've seen so much of this kind of thing. >> i know. i know. >> it fits a pattern. and a pattern that, keep in mind, that the president himself has not shied away from. and the trouble is that, yes,
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the delete is tweeted, but in this world that we live in, that piece of information is now out there. and it gets his attention and whoever helped him along with this or encouraged him to do this was to raise that thought in michael cohen's mind it's done, you know? it's done. >> some felt a prior tweet from president trump was witness intimidation when all of this began. and some felt that's why michael cohen delayed his testimony initially. i want to ask you about some of the language that we apologize for, if your children happen to be up at this point. but another thing that michael cohen will testify to, he once asked me if i could run a country run by a black person that wasn't a shithole, that was when barack obama was president of the united states. that language, of course, we have heard before. that was just over a year ago talking about tps and the like. jim, how damaging, if all in, will accusations like that be?
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>> well, you know, listen, like a lot of this stuff, it fits a pattern with this president. right? i mean, the lying certainly does. and the lies about the interactions with russia and so on. so cohen's testimony, while the president will attack him for his credibility is consistent with prior lies about interactions with russia including the trump tower meeting. so, you got to look at the pattern. that's what i know smart investigators like ellie hoe thi do. and this fits a pattern as well. you have witnesses described the president using similar terminology as president about african countries. now, i wasn't in the room when the president used those terms during the campaign. but it's not taken out of nowhere because we've heard
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similar accounts before. where does that leave us? as you said, david briggs, the president maintains 80 some odd support among this party. and his strategy seem it's to be keeping that as solid as he can and damn the consequences as it were with republicans and independents. >> and the testimony and i want to ask you about his cooperation. is there still the potential for a reduced sentence? and therefore, if he's proven to be lying again to congress, presumably, there will be no assistance with his sentence? >> he has every reason to tell the truth today? >> my point being, does he, as christine said, have every reason to be 100% truthful today? >> well, he certainly has self-interested incentives, dave and christine. i think you could
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innocecentivizines him to tell truth. and to lie because he just wants to tell prosecutors so they will go back. i will not turn this into law school. but there's a way that a prosecutor can go back after sentencing. it's carecalled rule 35. saying judge, this person has given us extraordinary information show you reduce it. i've done it five or ten times during my time as a prosecutor. i do think michael cohen is aiming for that. remember, he postponed his surrender date from federal prison from early march back to early may. it gives him more time. if i were to guess, i would assume that cohen's lawyers are working. you need a prosecutor to sponsor you. cohen's lawyers can't go in and ask do for it. but going in, whether it's the southern district, if my guy continues to cooperate and continues to cooperate with congressional subpoenas, today,
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we'll see part of that, then would you consider going back in with rule 35 and seeking a reduction. but it goes both ways. there's one common sense read, look, his incentive is to tell the truth. if he gets caught in a lie now, not only is he not getting to charge rule 35, he's getting charged again. but what prosecutors say all the time, they just want to please the prosecutor, you know who he needs to make this happy? t prosecutor. ellie hie honig, jim sciutto. you're both up on "new day." testimony begins the 10:00 a.m. "early start" back in just a moment. my experience with usaa
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michael cohen set to testify
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later today. in just a few hours, actually, a little more than four hours. and the testimony is just blockbuster here. he's going to call the president of the united states a racist, a con man and a cheat. that is going to be public testimony for all of the world to see. josh rosen and zach wolf are here to talk about what we know. >> josh rosen, "the washington post," cnn contributor. we'll start with you, sir. what do you believe is the lead of all of these 20 pages? and what could change the trump presidency? >> i think the clearest lead is that president trump was in touch with wikileaks, which is what secretary of state mike pompeo said is a nonintelligence operation aim at attacking the united states. if that single claim is substantiated there goes our predisposed notion of whether or not there was collusion, you
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name it. it's obvious wikileaks was working with russian intelligence agencies. our own intelligence agencies have borne that out in their investigation. and the president of the united states, if it's true, he was aware that his own surrogates were directly conspiring with julian assange to attack his opponent during the elegenction. i think that's the biggest game-changer there is. >> in that testimony, when you read the exchange that michael cohen said he saw with mr. trump on speaker phone. saying wouldn't that be great? that sounds just like the president talks. wouldn't that be great. >> yeah. i think there's a lot in here that sounds like sort of the man that we see publicly, the way that he's described as talking, sort of the asides that he makes. there are things that you can sort of see in your mind's eye him saying to his confidant
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michael cohen. and i think that will help sort of michael cohen's credibility, although, you know, what we're talking about today is going to be a lot different than at the end of the day because republicans are just going to slice and dice him, i think, as they try to tear holes in what he's going to say. >> also, we should point out this discussion we have mentioned earlier in the program between don junior and his father. michael cohen recounts a situation in which don junior walked behind this father's desk, whispers in his father's ear, about that meeting in trump tower, with russians, promising dirt on hillary clinton. and per that meeting, don junior says the meeting is all set. michael cohen remembers mr. trump saying, okay, good. let me know. should we believe -- why should we believe michael cohen? josh. >> well, i think michael cohen is testifying under penalty of
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perjury, and since he's already messed that up once, he knows the consequences. i think this is one of the weaker claims in his testimony. considering the fact he doesn't actually say he know what is meeting they're referring to. and in any way, he only realizes that is the meeting they were referring to well after the fact when the news came out. i think if you made a list of ten really shocking things that michael cohen is about to testify, this would be on that list. it wouldn't be in the top three. but, you know, as jim sciutto said earlier, this is a pattern of behavior of a president lying in public, you know, seeking to make connections with the russians. seeking to do business with the russians. covering up all of those contacts. and michael cohen's in the middle of it and he's in a position to know and a position to testify to a whole range of those details. >> this testimony is also going to show that michael cohen is going to show in his prepared testimony that the president all through the election was acting
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for a russia trump tower. this is something that the president is saying, and michael cohen saying that the president didn't think he was going to win. and presumably all the people around him were trying to brush up their business contacts. >> right. get something out of this run for president. sort of the cache of being this nomin nominee. they could train in on that. it does sort of go to, because this is the one thing that cohen seems to be the most qualified to talk about because he was apparently the one going through these negotiations, who was meeting with people. you know, meeting with russians. this is the one claim, you know, of all of them. this is one claim where he has kind of the most credibility, at least in terms what we've learned about him from court filings and the things he's pled guilty to. >> and, remember, michael cohen is a man who once told "vanity fair" he would, quote, take a
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bume bullet for mr. trump. but it all makes, josh, for an astonishing split screen. in a couple of minutes, president trump will leave his hotel to have dinner with kim jong-un. but josh, talk about the split screen about to unfold. and what are your expectations with the second summit with the north korean leader. >> yeah, it couldn't get any crazier. first of all, after president trump has his dinner with chairman kim at the metropolitan hotel in hanoi, he's going to go back to his hotel and probably rage-tweet about it well into what is going to be the evening in hanoi. that can't help his preparation for what will be a pivotal showdown for kim the next day over very important details over nuclear negotiations, okay? he should be well rested for that. he should be prepared for that. and then tomorrow, of course,
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all bets are off. anyone who tells you that they know what president trump is going to say in that meeting with chairman kim or afterwards if he has a press conference is lying. because anything can happen. there have been extensive negotiations between the trump administration and representative steve biegun over what can they offer, what can they get. and none of that really matters once president trump gets into the room. and he can really strike any bargain he pleases. you know, after that, we're going to be left with this sort of decision, whether to follow up on what's going on with the president's domestic scandal. or what's going on with whatever it is that this meeting produces. you know, that's a distraction for americans. it's a distraction for the president. it's also a distraction for the world. you know, we here in washington talk about this russia scandal all day every day for good reason. it's a big deal. but this is a rare chance that everyone in the world, all over the world, is going to be focused on our president. and this is what they're going to see. they're going to see a president
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unhinged, just sort of lashing out in all directions. and totally distracted from the important issues the hand which affect not only american national security, but the security of our allies and partners all around the world. >> we're looking at a picture, guys, you probably can't see it, we're looking at a picture of the president's hotel where he's expected any minute to leave for the first meeting. zach wolf, button it up real quick -- oh, we already said good-bye. josh rosen, thank you for walking us through this. this is where we see the president any second now where he's going for that first face-to-face meeting in this summit with kim jong-un. >> the fears are those who watch this situation, reportedly by diplomats within the administration that the president might be willing to accept less in exchange for changing the news cycle back here. donald trump is already on the board on twitter calling mike. cohen saying he was disbarred.
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he's a liar. he's done bad thing related to trump. it's going to be an extraordinary nation. 10:00 a.m. that testimony begins. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> welcome to our viewers in the united states and all around the world. it's february, 27th, 6:00 here in new york. breaking overnight, a document. this document that has the potential to redefine the trump presidency. while you were sleeping, cnn obtained this 20-page statement that michael cohen is prepared to deliver to congress in public today. cohen is the president's former lawyer and fixer and now a convicted felon, convicted for lying, so that hangs over what he will say today. but what he will say includes a half dozen, maybe more, new allegations, each of which in and of themselves would be huge scandals. presidency threatening scandals. at the top of that list a claim we have not heard in public
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before, that cohen witnessed a conversation in july of 2016 where donald trump was told in advance that wiki lealeaks was planning a massive dump of e-mails that would be damaging to hillary clinton's campaign. >> if you're still sleeping now would be a good time to wake up because he says he will provide backup. he says will provide the pan we will a check that president trump wrote to him to reemburse him for that payment to stormy daniels to keep her quiet. this check was written by he was president and this puts allegations of criminal activity directly in the oval office. today, michael cohen plans to call the president a, quote, racist, a con man, and a cheat. so as capitol hill braces for this explosive testimony, president trump is in vietnam for his second summit with north korean dictator kim

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