tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN February 27, 2019 11:00am-12:00pm PST
>> yes, it's made part of the exhibit. >> so you will provide it to the committee? >> yes, ma'am. >> according to federal prosecutors, executives at the company then and i quote, agreed to reimburse cohen by adding 130,050,000 grossing up that amount to 360,000 for tax purposes and adding a $60,000 bonus such that cohen would be paid $420,000 in total. executives of the company decided to pay the $420,000 in monthly installments of 35,000 over the course of a year. is that accurate? >> that is accurate. >> what was the purpose of grossing up the amounts essentially doubling what you had paid to ms. clifford and others? >> if you pay $130,000 and you live in new york where you have a 50% tax bracket, in order to get your 130 back you have to have 260, otherwise -- if he gave me back 130, then i'd be out 65,000. >> what was the purpose of
spreading the reimbursements to you over the 12 monthly installments? >> that was in order to hide what the payment was. i obviously wanted the money in one shot. i would have prefer it had that way but in order to be able to put it on to the books, alan weisselberg made the decision that it should be paid over the 12 months so that it would look like a retainer. >> and did mr. trump know about this reimbursement method? >> oh, he knew about everything, yes. >> thank you, mr. cohen. so the president now only knew about the payments, he knew and hope to hide the payments and the reimbursement to you? >> we discussed it. everything had to go through mr. trump and it had to be approved by mr. trump. >> and now you're going to prison and he's -- >> i'm going to prison, yes, ma'am. >> i yield back. >> if i -- >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i yield my time. >> earlier you said -- i'm
assuming new york is a one party -- one person can record the other one without it being illegal? >> correct. >> you also were a member of the new york bar? >> i was, yes. >> how would you rate recording clients in the ethical realm of being a lawyer? >> it's not illegal -- >> i'm not asking if its illegal, i'm asking if it's ethical. >> i don't know. >> so i think every other lawyer in here knows exactly where it is in the ethical standard. when you said you had 100 tapes, were any of those tapes of other clients? >> yes. >> and i think this is pretty amazing. i really do. did any of them waif privilege? >> no. >> so five minutes ago in the middle of our hearing on oversight, you just immediately responded that you would hand over tapes to this committee without any of your previous clients' waiving privilege. i'm not the only one in possession of those documents -- >> whoever else is in charge of
those documents is not my concern. my concern is, i know lawyers that would go to jail before they would violate attorney/client privilege and in a manner of a second, you just said absolutely, i will turn those over. >> just trying to cooperate, sir. >> at the expense of clients who have never waived privilege? >> they're already in the hands, sir, of all of the agencies. i didn't ask -- >> what law enforcement determines to do with something and what you determine to do with something, attorney/client privilege and attorney trust accounts are the two most sacred things you can ever do in in your career as a lawyer. and in the matter of a second -- >> and the tape of mr. trump -- rudy giuliani waived the privilege. >> i'm not talking about rudy giuliani. i'm talking about you. i don't know who's on those tapes. only you know. there's 100 of them. >> the other one is also subject to ongoing -- >> my point is within a matter of a second, one second, you took no absolutely no
calculation of your role as those clients' counselor, the role that plays in privacy and in the role that plays in the solemn vow you took and you just immediately said, if it helps me out in two day in front of tv, absolutely, mr. chairman, you can have that. and i think -- that just goes into what we'll talk about next briefly. we talk about these tax -- these indictments on tax fraud and bank fraud as if they are isolated incidents but they're not isolated incidents of bad judgment. these were intricate elaborate lies that created -- needed to be held with constant -- just constant deceptions of banks, businesses, associates, accountants, potentially your family. you received over 2.4 million in personal loans from taxi medallion company one and those were of loan payments for a business loan, correct?
>> no, sir. >> you weren't receiving -- go ahead. >> those were payments that were made by the management company that was operating the medallions. >> to you? >> to me. >> and those were deposited into your personal account or in some instances your wife's account. >> it was deposited into the joint checking account of my wife and i that's located at the base of the building that we reside in. >> were those disclosed on your tax returns? >> they are not -- they were not disclosed on my tax returns. >> when your accountant talked to you about those gpts you told him you wouldn't pay for a memo that you didn't ask to be done? >> that's inaccurate. >> so the sentencing court in new york has it wrong? >> okay. i don't know what mr. getzle wrote, my accountant. there are a series of issues regarding his memo any way including the fact that he's
almost direct to me in an earlier memo to commit fraud, but putting all of that aside with jeff getsle, i pled guilty and i made my mistake and i'm going -- as i've said 100 times now, i'm not so sure why this singular attack on my taxes, if you want to look at them, i'm more than happy to show them to you. -- >> if the chairman would give me 20 minutes, i've got plenty. i'll reclaim my time. >> it's not 100% accurate and that's exactly why when it comes to the credibility why i asked mr. davis and monaco to figure out how -- >> that's my point with the correct. these are isolated -- these are not isolated incidents of attack. these were constant deceptions whether its rolling over a $20 million line of credit to a $14 million credit, you went through great lengths to conceal that from one bank while at the same time you are reducing your net income to another bank. these are things that happened
on january 1 of '18, january 1 of '15. these were things that were constantly involved -- my question is, was it exhausting keeping track of all the lies you were telling these people? >> the gentleman's time is expired. you may answer. >> i don't have an answer for him. thank you for continuing the narrative. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. cohen, good luck on your road to redemption. >> thank you. it's going to be a long way. >> the answer to that is perdition as i remember and that's particularly hard on your children and i wish you well and your family well. mr. cohen, as you've described your road to here, mr. cooper asked you when the moment was or moments when you decided you needed a change. it strikes me there is a transition that you have -- you have illuminated here. your period of time of ten years working for somebody that you admired as a developer and when charlottesville happened and, quite frankly, when the special counsel called you in, obviously, was a key part of it
or you wouldn't be here. but the in between part i find really interesting and troubling at least in terms of appearances and confidence that the american people would have in this institution and democracy, quite frankly. so during that period of time, i want to ask you about two specific, if we have enough time, first, the trump tower. you were negotiating for this as you said. it was to be the tallest building in europe. in your guilty plea with the special counsel, you quote, say, it quotes, cohen asked individual one, is that president trump? >> yes. >> okay. about the possibility of president trump traveling to russia in connection with the moscow project and asked a senior campaign official about potential business travel to russia. when did this conversation happen? do you recall? >> early on in the campaign. >> and who was the campaign official? >> corey lewandowski. >> what did you discuss in this
meeting? >> possibility of which dates that mr. trump would have availability if, in fact, that we were going to go over to russia to take a look at the project. i'm sorry, sir. >> go ahead. >> unfortunately, it never came to fruition because we were never successful in getting the first prong of what i needed which was ownership or control over a piece of property and until such time there was no reason to come up with a date, but when i first received the information request to go to russia, what i decided to do is, i spoke to mr. trump about it, he told me to speak to corey about it and see what dates were available if i got the information i needed. >> it stopped because of appearances or did it stop because the party's decided not to pursue it? >> i'm sorry. i don't understand your question. >> why did the pursuit of trump
tower that mr. trump is now said, of course, he pursued it because he thought he might go back in the development business, why was the reason the deal was stopped? >> because he won the presidency. >> okay. so in that interim period of time, it looks troubling that now that we know what foreign influence was attempting to do whether there was collusion or not is certainly appears troubling that you were, mr. trump was part of this negotiation at the same time what we know, perhaps separately, that the russians were engaged in our election? >> i don't know about them being engaged in the election. i can only talk for myself. here i would say to mr. trump in response to his question, what's going on with russia, i'm still waiting for documents and that night at a rally he would turn around and do his battle cry of no russia, no collusion, no involvement witch-hunt. >> on a separate subject but somewhat related, on january 17 of this year "the wall street journal" published a statement
saying you hired someone who works for liberty washington to rig two online polls for donald trump. did you hire him? >> those were back in i believe 2015. >> 2014. >> 2014. so you did hire him? >> yes, i spoke with mr. gauger about manipulating this online polls. >> and did he use bots to ma nip lalt the poll? >> he used algorithms and if that includes bots that the answer is yes. >> did the president have any involvement? >> yes. >> in directing you to do this? >> yes. >> what were the results of the poll? >> exactly where we wanted them to be. in the cnbc poll we came in at number nine and the judge report he was top of the judge report as well. >> okay. >> poll. the cnbc poll was called the contenders and it was top 250 people that they named and it
was supposed to be the top ten most influential people. >> earlier today you directed a comment to my colleagues and i'm quoting so correct me if i got this wrong. you said the more people who follow mr. trump, the more people who will be where i am. is it your expectation that people in the administration will end up where you are? >> sadly if they follow blindly like i have, i think the answer is yes. >> thank you. >> the gentleman's time is expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when i ran for congress i talked about how washington was broken, but i certainly did not expect the level of political gamesmanship and pure stagnation of policies that would improve the lives of american that i'm witting today. this committee and its chairman chose to spend our time in questioning an individual that has zero probative value and zero credibility instead of spending our limited time focusing on improving the lives of american, creating jobs or
streamlining the functioning of our federal government. yet here we are taking testimony from a convicted liar and not someone who has just lied to his clients or family and friends, but testimony from an individual who deliberately and premeditatedly lied to this body. he lied to congress through false statements and written statements. he lied to congress through his testimony. he then amplified his false statements by releasing and repeating his lies to the public including the other potential witnesses. yet now we on this committee and the american people are expected to believe mr. cohen's testimony. i don't know a juror in america that would believe anything he says given his past actions and lies. mr. cohen, you stood before multiple congressional committees before today and raised your right hand and swore and oath to be honest, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> and you lied to those congressional committees, is that correct? >> previously? >> correct. >> yes, sir. >> you state that had trump never directed you to lie to congress, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> therefore, you lied to congress on your own accord and
then admitted to lying to congress, correct? >> i've already stated my piece on that. i knew what he wanted me to do. i was staying on party line. >> but he never directed you to lie to congress? >> he did not use those words, no. >> in your evidence that you provided this committee a mere two hours before the hearing started, were payments made to you by mr. trump, correct? >> amongst other things, yes. >> yet other than your testimony here today, there's absolutely no proof that those specific payments were for those specific purposes, is that correct? >> it's my testimony that the check that i produced as part of this testimony, the 35,000 and then the second check that's signed by alan weisselberg and donald trump jr. were two checks out of the 11 that were meant for the reimbursement of the hush money payment to stormy daniels. >> so in your testimony on page 13, you claim and i will quote,
mr. trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a home equity line of credit to avoid any money being tracked back to him that could negatively impact his campaign. do you have any proof of this direction? >> just the payment, sir. >> so no email? >> mr. trump doesn't have email. >> so no recording? >> i do not have recordings no. >> no text message? >> mr. trump doesn't text. the fact that i paid on his behalf at his direction the money to keith davidson's iola account, you're right, there's no other documentation i have. >> so nothing that you produced as part of your exhibits proved that plump directed you in any way to make that payment? >> i don't even know how to answer that, sir. >> it's pretty simple. there's nothing in the evidence that shows or the exhibits that
you provided today that show that trump directed you to make those payments? >> other than the nondisclosure agreement that has been seized by government authorities and is widely shown, i don't believe there's anybody out there that believes that i just decided to pay $130,000 on his behalf. >> you were his attorney for over ten years. >> that doesn't mean that i'd pay 130,000 -- >> it doesn't also mean that he wasn't pay you for representation of counsel. >> okay. >> how did president trump even know you had a heloc? >> i'm sorry? >> how did president trump even know you had a heloc? >> because we discussed it. because i told him the same thing that i didn't want my wife to find out about it and one additional, rudy giuliani himself came out and express that had mr. trump reimburse me for the money that was spent to pay stormy daniels. >> and did you tell chris cuomo
that you had no access to mr. trump during october and november of 2016? >> i don't know what you're referring to. >> your interview with chris cuomo. >> i would need to see the document. >> did you also tell chris cuomo that you made these payments without telling mr. trump because you wanted to protect mr. trump? >> and i was protecting mr. trump. >> and you told him you made these payments without telling him? >> if i that's what i said to chris cuomo, yes, that was my line. >> and if this unsupported claim was true, then it would be part of an ongoing investigation as evidence of a crime and the department of justice would not let you discuss it during your testimony here today, is that correct? >> i don't know. >> gentleman's time is expired. did you answer the question? >> i did want to say one last thing. not only did i lie to the american people, i lied to the first lady when the president called me and i was sitting in a car with a friend of mine and he had me speak to her and explain to the first lady, so the answer
is -- you're not accurate and i don't feel good about any of this and this was not my intention. >> mr. lawrence? >> sorry. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just want to put on the record as being a black american and having endured the public comments of racism from the sitting president as being a black person, i can only imagine what's being said in private and to prop up one member of our entire race of black people and say that that nullifies that is totally insulting and in this environment of expecting a president to be inclusive and to look at his administration speaks volume. so i have some questions. i want to talk to you about this intimidation of witness. mr. cohen, you were initially scheduled to testify before the
house oversight committee on february the 7th, but your legal team delayed your testimony quoting ongoing threats against your family from the president and attorney giuliani, is that correct? >> yes, ma'am. >> and on november 29th, after you admitted that the president's negotiations over a real estate project and russia continued well through the summer before the 2016 election, president trump called you, quote, a weak person and accused you of lying and then on december 16th after 2018, after you disclosed it, it was the president who directed you to arrange hush money payments to stormy daniels and karen mcdougal to conceal his extra-marital affairs he called you the president of the united states a rat. mr. cohen, why do you feel or believe that the president is repeatedly attacking you, you
are stating you feel intimidated, asking us to protect you following your consumption with law enforcement? >> when you have access to 60 plus million people that follow you on social media and you have the ability within which to spark some action by individuals that follow him and from his own words that he can walk down fifth avenue shoot someone and get away with it, it's never comfortable when the president of the united states -- >> what do you think he can do to you? >> a lot and it's not just him. it's those people that follow him and his rhetoric. >> what is a lot? >> i don't know. i don't walk with my wife if we go to a restaurant or we go some where. i don't walk with my children. i make them go before me because i have fear and it's the same fear that i had before when he initially decided to drop that
tweet in my cell phone. i received some -- and i'm sure you'll understand, i received some tweets, i received some facebook messenger, recall sorts of social media attacks upon me whether it's the private direct message that i've had to turn over to secret service because they are the most vial, disgusting statements that any one can ever receive and when it starts to affect your children, that's when it really affects you. >> on january 20 of 2019, mr. giuliani called your father-in-law, quote, a criminal and said that he may have ties to organized crime. mr. cohen, do you believe that the president and mr. giuliani publicly targeted your father-in-law as an effort to intimidate you? can you elaborate? why is your father-in-law being pulled in to this? >> i don't know the answer to
that. my father-in-law was in the clothing business. came to this country because they the expulsion of jews from the ukraine. he came here to this country. he work hard and he's now enjoying his retirement. never in my life did i think mr. trump would do something so disgraceful and he's attacking him because he knows i care about my family and to hurt me, he's trying to hurt them. interestingly enough, my father-in-law's biggest investments happened to be in the trump property, so it just doesn't make any sense to me. >> i want to be clear, any efforts to prevent a witness from testifying in front of congress is against the law. i want to be very clear about that and as the chairman has said, retaliating against witnesses and threatening their families and members is a textbook mob tactic that does not benefit the president of the united states or this country. and i want to be on the record,
this hearing is not about discrediting the president, it's about the oval office that we take as members of congress to have checks and balances and to meet the laws and the policies of this country to serve. thank you and i yield back. >> mr. roy? >> mr. cohen, i too want to offer my heart felt thoughts for your family and what they're going through. i know it's tough. the chairman suggested you volunteered to come here. you testified that you were asked to come here. is it correct you were asked to come here, yes or no? >> yes. >> the combined total of the crimes for which you are sentenced would bring a maximum of 70 years, yes or no? >> yes. >> yet you're going to prison for three years, yes or no? >> yes. >> the prosecutors of the southern district of new york say the secure loans cohen falsely understated the amount of debt he was carrying to induce a bank to lend on incomplete information. you told my colleagues here
today that you did not commit bank fraud. not parsing different statutes which i understand could be for clarity, are you or are you not guilty of making false statements to a financial institution, yes or no? >> yes, i pled guilty. >> you said clearly to mr. cloud and mr. jordan that they were being untruthful and your desire to work in the administration. the lawyers of the southern district of new york -- >> i'm saying it's not accurate. >> so you're saying they're being untruthful. >> i'm not using the word untruthful. i did not want a role or title in the administration. >> i'm sure the lawyer -- >> i got the title that i wantsd. >> i'm sure the lawyers appreciate that distinction. you've never been to prague or the czech republic, do you stand behind that statement? >> yes, i do. i offer into the record into known conservative news magazine mother jones in which he says he reviews his notes from mr. cohen that he said, quote, i haven't been to prague in 14 years. i was in prague for one afternoon 14 years ago.
you as my friend, mr. armstrong rightly inquired offered to the committee taped information with the bat of an eye. do you stand behind that? >> i don't understand. you said it so fast. >> you as my friend mr. armstrong rightly inquired taped information regarding your clients with the bat of the eye. >> if the chairman asks me and it's i'll take it under advisement now and it's not a problem in terms of attorney/client privilege, yes, i will turn it over. >> you as my friend mr. meadows point it out that today that contradicted your testimony. you have suggested you're going to review that. did you review -- are you going to review it in our next break to correct the record yes or no? >> yes. >> you helped out the president's campaign or were involved in the campaign as a representative, it was your idea for the campaign dating back to 2011, is that accurate, yes or no? >> yes. >> 2011 is the year that sticks in my head for it's the year that my daughter was born and the year i was diagnosed with
cancer. i was not then pushing for donald trump to be president. i was fighting in cancer. even in 2016 i was publicly backing a certain republican from texas, some might guess who it was, but you, you were all in. and you either wanted donald trump to be your president because it would be good for the country or you did it for your own personal advancement or both. real american in my district and across the country wanted the president to be president not in any way because he's perfect, but rather because there are sick and tired of this hell hole. they supported the president because they are sick and tired of the games that we are seeing here today. they are sick and tired of politicians who refuse to secure the border. balance our budget, restore health care freedom and get the hell out of their way to lead their lives. they're mystified that we amass $100 million of debt per hour. we've blown through $450 million during this charade in amassing debt. $450 million. they're sick and tired of a democratic party that willful
ignores cartel crisis on our border. just yesterday an eagle past texas arrested an ms-13 gang member, federal authorities were offering a reward for a man tied to mexico's gulf cartel for his alleged roles in various murders in south texas. a migrant rush at the texas border forced brief closure of the laredo port. this is this week. this is what we're ignoring. this is not what we're doing for the american people while we engage in this charade. this is not what the american people sent us here to do. this is an embarrassment for our country. i talked to my beautiful wife back in texas just before the hearing, i said don't bother -- i said don't bother watching. she said as i roughly expected, don't worry, i won't. i have more important things to do. and she like the rest of the american people have a hell of a
lot more important things to do than to watch this. i said, amen, darling. i can't help but think that is what the majority of the american people are thinking while watching this unbelievable circus. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i've got a loot to do as well. i've got houses and schools to help rebuild in the virgin islands, expansion of voting rights, educational opportunities, criminal justice reform thank god the democratic majority can walk and chew gum at the same time so we're here with you right now. you learned well in the ten years you worked with donald trump. what was your position with the gop in the up to eight months ago? >> i was vice chair of the rnc finance committee. >> you were vice chair of the finance of the republican national committee, right?
>> correct. >> okay. i do want to say i was a democrat until steve wynn found out i was a democrat and made me switch parties. >> that would be the smart thing to do. >> good. let's get to it. i only have a little bit of time. on behalf of the many members here who have expressed to your family our apologies to your family, but i want to apologize for the inappropriate comments and tweets that have been made by other members of this body and as a former prosecutor and as former counsel on house ethics, i think that at the very least there should be a referral to the ethics committee of witness intimidation and tapering of my colleague matt gates and it may be possibly him being referred for a criminal prosecution. on may 2nd, 2018, the president's personal attorney rudy giuliani who was a personal attorney like you appeared on
"fox news" and referred to the president's reimbursement for stephanie clifford as part of a retainer and on may 3rd, 2018, one day after mr. giuliani's appearance, the president tweeted and i quote, mr. cohen and attorney received a monthly retainer not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign from which he entered in to through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties known as a nondisclosure agreement or nda. the office of government ethics which is the agency which the federal government with responsibility over what the president needs to report publicly about his assets was puzzled by this it seems and they were sceptical that a retainer was actually in place and asked to see the retainer agreement of may 8th with the president. the president's personal counsel replied that she would and i quote, not permit oge staff to read the agreement because it is privileged. ms. dillon would not even let oge staff come to her office to
review the retainer agreement. mr. cohen in a court filing made in august of last year, federal prosecutors state that had, quote, in truth and in fact there was no such retainer agreement. mr. cohen, did you ever have a retainer agreement in place with the president for the payment to mrs. clifford? >> no. >> was mr. giuliani's statement inaccurate? >> yes. >> was ms. dillon's statement about the retainer agreement inaccurate? >> about the retainer agreement? >> in her statement is what. >> her statement to them was quote, not to permit oge staff to read the agreement because it is privileged? >> there was no agreement. >> and is the president's tweet or his statement accurate? >> i'm sorry. >> and his statement was, mr. cohen an attorney received a monthly retainer not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign from which he entered in through a reimbursement? >> that's not accurate. >> you've mentioned some individuals to my colleague from new york, mr. connelly and also in your testimony about mr.
weissenberg, who are those individuals? are they with the trump organization? >> they are. >> are there other people we should be meeting with? >> alan weisselberg is the chief financial officer. >> you got to quickly give us as many names as you can so we can get to them. >> yes, ma'am. >> what is ms. rona -- >> rona graph is mr. trump's executive assistant. would she be able to corroborate many of the statements you've said here? >> her office was directly next to his and she's involved in a lot that went on. >> mr. cohen, when the president's lawyers were having the discussions with the office of government ethics in 2018, did they reach out to you to talk with you about these payments? >> no, ma'am. >> and what did you -- did you share anything with them otherwise in any other conversation? >> i do not recall, no. >> can the committee obtain more information about these facts by obtaining testimony, documents from the white house, the trump
organization and the president's attorneys? >> i believe so. >> mr. chair, i think that those are the individuals that we should be speaking with and i yield back at this time. >> the committee will now stand in recess again. we will come back -- listen up -- 35 minutes. 35 minutes after the last vote begins, so for mr. cohen, mr. cohen, we're talking about probably an hour or so. all right. i'm jake tapper live in washington, the man who once said he would take a bullet for donald trump took aim at the president today calling him a racist, a conman and a cheat and in his testimony before the house oversight committee today, former trump attorney and fixer michael cohen leveled explosive allegations among them that he believes the president knew about that infamous trump tower meeting seeking dirt on hillary clinton and that trump knew about efforts by his adviser
roger stone to reach out to wikileaks ahead of the release of the stolen emails from the democrats, mr. cohen also described the catch and kill culture designed to suppress negative stories about donald trump by having the parent company of the "national enquirer" purchase the rights to those stories, cohen insisted he never went to prague despite allegations in the steele dossier that he did and perhaps most significantly, cohen said that the white house and specifically certain attorneys at the white house changed his original statement to congress that same testimony that he now says was a lie he's going to go to prison because it's a lie. let's discuss all of this. we'll start with cnn chief legal analysis jeffrey toobin. there are a lot of questions about this possible suborning of perjury by the white house, the idea that did the white house enable cohen to give false testimony about the trump tower/moscow. here is some a q&a from congressman from maryland with cohen in which they're basically was a cleanup about what the
bottom line is. >> did you have -- do you have a reaction to why there might not have been in a sense a protest to what was going to be false testimony that was going to be provided? >> no, sir, because the goal was to stay on message, which is limit the relationship whatsoever with russia. it was short. there's no russian contacts or russian collusion. there's no russian deals. that's the message. that's the same message that existed well before my need to come and testify. >> he kept it vague, but it does seem like this is an area of potential news. how much of a role did the white house play in the creation of the false testimony that cohen gave? >> right. remember, we've been sitting here all day, still the main news as far as i'm concerned is what was in the opening statement. that was -- i think an earthquake level of news.
of the stuff that came out in testimony, i think that issue of what went on in this preparation session -- because remember, he wound up giving testimony for which he later pled guilty for lying to congress, so the question is, did anyone in the white house encourage, knowingly participate in the creation of that false testimony? i couldn't tell from the testimony whether anyone he was talking about actually knew that the testimony was false. that's the key issue. >> or changed it to false testimony. >> or changed it in a way they knew was false. >> or whether he was lying to them. >> right. and of course, lawyers get lied to all the time, so maybe those lawyers were lied to, they weren't putting in false testimony. if you were doing a serious investigation, that whole exchange you would get all the people who were present there, you would ask everyone separately what went on, you
would look at the drafts of the testimony and see how it changed. >> cohen said he would have to go back and look at the drafts to see what exactly was changed and if the white house changed it to make it less truthfully. >> you know what he should do, go back -- >> he would have done that already one would think. lying to congress is one thing, lying to reporters and the public is another thing. that's not illegal, although certainly the special counsel has suggested that that is not insignificant. there was another part of the hearing when it was asked whether or not president trump encouraged michael cohen to not being honest about whether or not the president knew about these hush money payments to stormy daniels. let's take a listen to that. >> a reporter for the magazine "vanity fair" has report that had she interviewed you the very next day on february 14th, 2018, about the payment and reimbursement. and she wrote, quote, last february 14th, i interviewed cohen in his office about the statement he gave the fec in which he said trump didn't know
about the stormy payment. do you recall this meeting with the reporter? >> i do. >> the reporter also wrote, trump called while i was there. i couldn't hear much but he wanted to go over what the public messaging would be. is that accurate? >> it is. >> did the president call you while you were having a meeting with the reporter? >> yes. >> did the president call you to coordinate on public messaging about the payments to ms. clifford in or around february 2018? >> yes. >> what did the president ask or suggest that you say about the payments or reimbursements? >> he was not knowledgeable of these reimbursements and he wasn't knowledgeable of my actions. >> he asked you to say that? >> yes, ma'am. >> that's key. it's key. this is february 2018, donald trump presumably from the oval office or some where else in the white house called michael cohen and said, you got to lie for me in not so many words as cohen testified today -- >> to a reporter, we should point out, not to congress. >> right. >> lied to a reporter. >> just lie, period.
we don't know -- we don't know who it was too but he wanted to get the story straight clearly and it was -- it's kind of stunning that the president calls, he doesn't need to be told lie because as michael cohen said time and time again, we had kind of a code that the president didn't have to spell it out and direct me, i knew exactly what he was saying, but i think this is very important and, by the way, not one republican today was interested in addressing any questions of potential criminality about the president. they were only interested in taking down cohen, but this is one area that you think may be someone could have followed up on. >> larry noble, as an expert on campaign finance law, whether or not these payments were made with the president's knowledge or not, that's important in terms of whether or not the president played a role in the commission of a crime? >> that's critical to it. if the president knew about this or if he directed this, then he is involved in committing the crime.
the other point is that the effort to hide -- if he was trying to hide it, that's also evidence of a knowing and willful violation. that's one of the things that the department of justice looks at is were you trying to hide what you were doing and if so, that could be part of the criminal violation. >> and one piece of evidence about whether you're trying to hide the money is how the money is paid and the fact that they divided it up into increments of 35,000 instead of paying the 260 total, that also suggests -- >> that's what he said point-blank. michael cohen said explicitly today that's why they split it up in order to try to hide it. what trump people are telling me as they watch this and i'm curious your take is, that we knew already that the president paid off stormy daniels, did it through michael cohen, the question is, the purpose? was it to evade campaign finance laws or to hide it from his wife? does it matter? >> it does matter.
the fact that he may have also been trying to hide it from the wife doesn't matter. as long as he was trying to prevent this from damaging his campaign, you have a campaign finance violation. that's the purpose that you need. >> and david, one of the things that michael cohen has said throughout whenever republicans especially or democrats too are asking him what did the president say to you, what did he direct you to do is i worked for him for ten years, he didn't need me direct me, he just would say what the talking points were and i knew i had to be on the same program. >> right. what i think is devastating about cohen's testimony is that he did the president's bidding long before he was the president for a decade. knew how he operated, knew how he operated privately as a businessman. there was a code and he executed on that. he was the fixer. the guy who said he'd take a bullet for the president. and he was willing to stand up today and say some of these outrageous things that have been claimed against the president were not true. all the while republicans said that he couldn't be believed
about anything, he was actually doing things that were helping their line of argument. i think the big piece that comes out to me about all of this is what you're asking about. those areas that are not about the political theater, not about the drama, but are -- that represent cohen as an opening scene in the mueller case about russian collusion. he brings up this circumstantial evidence about whether he thinks trump knew about the trump tower meeting which we can get into later. these are areas that we may just be seeing a piece of today that maybe mueller provides more -- >> he told us the southern district of new york is looking into things about russia that he could not -- he would not answer questions about, so he gave us a big hint about that as well. >> one of the big points, john and thigh nia that the republicans are trying to make is that michael cohen is a scum bag. they're really making the point -- >> that's my phrase.
>> they're making the point that he's not a good guy. congressman mark meadows said you're not a nice person at one point and, in fact, this came out of a line of questioning, how much michael cohen was the fixer, the enforcer during a line of questioning about how much he threatened people on mr. trump's behalf. let's take a listen. >> how many times did mr. trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf? >> quite a few times. >> 50 times. >> more. >> 100 times? >> more. >> 200 times? >> more. >> 500 times? >> probably. over the ten years. >> over the ten years he asked you -- >> when you say threaten, i'm talking with litigation or an argument with -- >> intimidation. >> a nasty reporter that has -- is writing an article. >> the argument that the republican seemed to be making is, you're a bad person. we shouldn't believe you but
there's the counterargument of why did president trump have this person working for him for ten years? >> if you've ever sat and covered a mob trial, that's what it sounds like. the code, the intimidation. we know what the boss wants. the boss never specifically says anything directly about do wrong, committed crimes. that's the way it works. that's the culture. if you're listening to this and you believe michael cohen, then businessman donald trump, candidate donald trump and president donald trump is the kind of guy who works in this way in which frankly if you're around it very long you need to take a shower. the republicans are going to say he's not to be believed. only one of the republicans congressman stuby of florida tried to get into the specifics of saying, wait, trying to question whether michael cohen is telling the truth when he said president trump did things wrong. the other republicans are not defending the president. they're attacking michael cohen. you don't hear any of them saying, there's no way donald trump paid this money or there's no way donald trump was breaking the law when he paid this money or any of the other things he said. there is a question about
cohen's credibility. we should elect ted barrett. he asked rich burr the chairman about the roger stone allegation. roger stone pops up on a speaker phone and tells candidate trump wikileaks is about to dump these damaging emails. you don't hear the democrats or the republicans pressing on that point. ted asked rich burr, the committee has spent more than a year on this and he says they have no documentation to prove that, if there is document nation he'd like to see it. what does robert mueller know? david makes a key point. the special counsel may fill in some of these blanks for us. can michael cohen prove what he's saying and that's one of them. >> and we should point out roger stone in an email denies that, although again that is somebody who has been indicted for lying, roger stone, criticizing somebody who's going to jail partially for lying of defending a president who also doesn't tell the truth. >> that's one of the problems.
you have liars talking about liars talking about liars. >> i just interviewed roger stone right before he got arrested and i had heard the rumor about, you know, the speaker phone conversation and i just pulled the transcript of what roger stone said to me and i said, supposedly they have a witness that says he heard you telling trump about wikileaks and roger says to me, i've heard it from 100 reporters. prove it. produce it. who would that be? and supposedly the witness overhears this on a conference, on a speaker phone, what would i tell them? well, that you had inside information saying what, and roger says, but we knew it was coming. that was public information. now, in fact, it is true that julian assange had said publicly that there was -- that there was, you know, information -- information coming. now, it is also possible, especially given the point you just made, that roger stone, if this conversation took place, was lying to trump about --
>> it's also true that all of these people have now been asked this question under oath by robert mueller so true or not, they have a position that they need to stick to. >> including the assistant and mr. weisselberg. >> what do you think is the takeaway of the average person who doesn't -- who hasn't been watching this? >> it's a view inside trump world that people hadn't had before, some of the statements that cohen made, the idea of it, people were in the trump organization essentially to protect trump, that you came to work every day in defense of -- a person who wasn't the president at the time a private businessman. all of the nitty-gritty ways in which the president was very much a micromanager interested in every detail whether it was fixing an online poll. i think that was really fascinating. getting a really inside into how he operated as a businessman.
i think that lays the ground work for other arguments that cohen is making, this idea that how could trump really not know about this trump tower meeting if he was such a micromanager in his private life. >> we have with us now, perhaps the world expert on former insider testifying against a senior president in front of congress, john dean, former nixon white house counsel. mr. dean, what did you make of the testimony so far? i know you said earlier that you thought michael cohen was seemed credible to you. has he testified as to anything you think could cause a serious problem for president trump? >> i think the thing that's most troubling and the most serious part of his testimony is his further flushing out the story of the payment to stormy daniels. i think that is really going to be the problem for the president with this testimony. he did raise other things. he doesn't have the depth of knowledge that is apparent at
this point. he's somewhat handicapped because he's got closed here before the house and senate intelligence committees so he's staying out of those areas, but on the areas he's allowed to talk about, i think he's been a very effective witness and he's going to be a lot of trouble for mr. trump. >> president nixon is not president trump. john dean is not michael cohen. i don't want to draw too many parallels, but do you hear ways that republicans are going after michael cohen, either in front of the cameras or behind the scenes that remind you of how nixon advocates went after you? >> no question. this happened more before the house impeachment inquiry than the senate watergate committee. when i testified before the house impeachment committee, the republicans were trying to cut me up as badly as they could and the president's lawyer was there to cross examine me as well.
i discovered that the president's lawyer was not well informed. the members of the committee on the republican side were not well informed. the democrats actually did a very good job there and they were able to get on the record what they needed from me as a witness. so i see some of the same today, the tactics that the republicans are using just to try to undercut any credibility in this witness, i think people can judge for themselves. he's -- he regrets having lied and he's telling the truth now and the truth hurts. >> one of the other ways that they're going at michael cohen is suggesting he's doing all of this to enrich himself with a book deal, with a television contract, with a movie deal, et cetera. cohen admitted that the book publisher offered $750,000 to him for a book deal he did not accept but he refused to say he would never accept any sort of book deal. now i doubt that whatever
michael cohen writes will be as well written as blind ambition, the book you wrote after watergate, but talk about that as a motivation, if you would, because obviously you did what you did for your reasons. what do you make of those that say, you did it because you wanted to become famous, you did it because you wanted to write a book? >> what happened is, i was offered a book contract very early. i'd agree to help and cooperate with the government and after my senate testimony was the first time i got a very substantial book offer and i said no. i really can't do it. the prosecutors, the watergate special prosecutors had asked me not to do it and i made a commitment to them that until everything had come to rest i wouldn't write a book about it, but i thought that i should flush out my story because what you say in a senate hearing or what you say in a lengthy trial is not everything you have to say and i wanted to put that
statement on the record. at the time i wrote the book, only nine of my conversations with nixon were available actually in my most recent book where i touched on that called "the nixon defense" i had 37 conversations which actually shed much more light on my dealings with the president than i had at the time that i wrote "blind ambition." i hope michael does do a book at some point and he has a story to tell and history to fill in for us, so that's important. >> john dean, always good to get your perspective. thanks so much. michael cohen also indicated that the southern district of new york has a bigger ongoing investigation when it comes to president trump. >> is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding donald trump that we haven't yet discussed today? >> yes, and again, those are part of the investigation that's currently being looked at by the southern district of new york.
>> well, that was quite a revelation. let's bring in elie honig who used to work with the southern district of new york. you have any idea what he's talking about there? >> i have an educated guess. it's ominous news for the president and the people around him. the southern district should be feared here. i say that as a southern district alum. we know that the southern district lobbed this major subpoena on the inaugural committee just a couple weeks ago. there are a lot of different loose ends there. we know the southern district is looking at the trump org. the southern district is more of a threat than mueller. mueller's under time pressure. we all know he's getting towards the ends. the southern district will be there forever. mueller is constrained as to what he can investigate. russian interference and related issues. the southern district can go into the finances, they can go wherever the evidence leads and the last thing i'll say, the ethic there is to be tenacious and to shoot for the top. if you have the proof, without regard to politics, without
regard to fear, you shoot for the bosses every time. >> and dana bash, this is obviously what we've been hearing from president trump's allies, they are most concerned about the southern district of new york investigation less so about mueller. >> as they should be because mueller, his core mission is to look at collusion and not to say that there wasn't potential collusion, whatever that means, with people in and around the trump world, we've seen that with paul manafort and others, but with regard to the trump org, number one, that obviously is not something he's looking in to. adam schiff has been saying publicly that mueller hasn't been asking for the records of deutscha bank where the president, the now president finally got a loan even though couldn't get a lot of loans before because of the debt that he was in. well, that's not mueller's job, necessarily. but it is the job of the southern district of new york if that loan, just one example, was
gotten in a way that shouldn't have happened. >> it's worth reminding everybody watching this what's at play. there's the mueller investigation. there's the southern district of new york, which is separate, and then there's the politics. so the substance of whatever could be gleaned out of today's testimony may be the basis for impeachment proceedings, but the question you asked me is really important, how are people taking all of this in? my reaction to cohen today, he totally lacks credibility and yet is utterly believable. i think a lot of people may feel that or -- but we shouldn't forget the or, there are so many people -- john you were talking about this during a break. so many people out there watching the republicans go after him and bring up all this stuff and stay exactly, this is the trump haters who are going after this guy and this guy is a scum bag. we can't believe him and all of it is a farce. that's how this is being absorbed into the political -- >> i think part of the problem
is, is lying has become so noorlized. we haven't seen talked about michael cohen's testimony saying that the president never really did have bone spurs and he was just trying to avoid going to vietnam and jim jordan told manu raju when manu asked him, why aren't you guys talking about the president's potential criminality here regarding the hush money payments and jordan said, i think it's news we knew about. so they're making it old news. they're saying, okay, this is old. we know the president did this. and therefore we can forget about it. >> stand by. we'll keep talking but we'll squeeze in a quick break. michael cohen is set to resume testimony special moments from. stay with us. ♪ t-mobile is always happy to see you. 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.
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return to the witness chair in just a few minutes. let's talk about what we've learned so far. speaking face-to-face with a congress, he now admits he lied to a few months ago lies that cohen claimed he told on behalf of his former boss and on behalf of himself. >> i am ashamed that i chose to take part in concealing mr. trump's illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. i am ashamed because i know what mr. trump is. he is a racist. he is a conman and he is a cheat. >> cohen also gave detail and provided some documentation about the hush money payments made to adult film star and director stormy daniels. >> as exhibit 5a to my testimony shows, i am providing a copy of a $35,000 check that pre