tv Cuomo Prime Time CNN February 27, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
reference no barack obama. and today we did reach out to mark meadows' office, in light of this additional scrutiny on those past comments. first, just getting more of an explanation, also, hearing what they think about this old video now going viral. they have not responded, anderson. of course, we'll keep asking them and let you know when we get a response. >> should also point out that congressman meadows and congressman cummings both expressed their close friendship today. we'll continue to follow it. >> thank you, anderson. i'm chris cuomo, and welcome to prime time. we have some breaking news. we're getting some first look at the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, and the president of the united states. they've been giving comments and we're going to give them to you. of course, we have big breaking news about michael cohen. we've assembled an amazing team of guests to go through it, legally and investigatively. but we do want to take this live
news for you, get these first comments from the president and the leader of north korea, kim jong-un, before we get to cohen. but we'll have members from both sides that were in that hearing today. what did they test, what did they miss, and what does it mean for the rest of us? what do you say, my friends? let's get after it. >> all right, so big news on michael cohen today. was this what the democrats expected it to be? was this a finale or just a first step? the big headline is that he does seem to have had proof to back up the suggestion that the president of the united states was complicit in a felony, that campaign finance violation. how far will that go with lawmakers? however, from washington, d.c. tonight we are live because we've got new perspective from the president. republicans in the room tried their hardest to dismantle his credibility.
it's about all they did. they showed almost no curiosity about him connecting the president to proof of a felony. explosive claims, among them that a sitting president broke the law while in office, reached out to help cover it up. listen. >> the president of united states thus wrote a personal check for the payment of hush money as part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. >> all right, that was the first hit. the second one was something where michael cohen said he couldn't talk about it. now, that's controversial and we'll go through why. but when asked about hey, can you tell us more about this money and what the president may have known, he said i can't because of the southern district is looking into it. now, what does that mean? how many probes does the southern district have going on,
and why did lawmakers push him for an answer? we'll get into why they should have done that. now, the biggest question is what did today mean? forget about the pundits, the left and the right telling you who won and who lost today. let's focus on what we know and what it shows for the pass forward. michael isikoff, laura coates, and gareth graff. mike, let me start with you and we'll go down the line. what was there today and what was not there today? >> riveting testimony. it's hard to remember a witness for congress who just was laying out a case against a sitting president of the united states. you'd have to go back to john dean, of course.
when you go through, certainly, the testimony about the campaign finance violations, the payoffs to stormy daniels, that's the one clear federal crime that president trump has been implicated in. but, does it go all the way? no, because cohen did not, when he described his conversations with trump about this, did not say that it was explicitly about the campaign, which would -- which you would need to prove a campaign finance violation. the timing is helpful, but if you want to make a case against the president, you need that direct testimony. and i thought what was interesting in chairman cummings' opening statement, in his opening questioning, he wanted to craft it not as a campaign finance violation, but he focused on trump's financial disclosure form. failure to report the debts to michael cohen. there, they've got the president dead to rights. he clearly had, was making these payments while president, to reimburse cohen for those. those were obligations he had.
didn't report them -- >> not the crime, but the cover-up. that's his play. but neal, just a quick point of law. we learned from the john edwards case, now, edwards obviously found not guilty, but there's an interesting precedent in that case, where you have to show that you did this because of your campaign, but it doesn't have to be the only reason. >> you got it exactly right. most people get it wrong, including some guests on cnn just a half hour away. so it doesn't have to be the only reason, just a reason. and i disagree a little bit with my friend, michael, i don't think that that's what we were expecting today. this is, after all, a congressional hearing. his the first one the democrats have convened since they've taken power. there's a criminal investigation going on in the southern district, and that's where you're going to hear stuff about these kinds of legal things. to me, the big thing that happened today was to refocus the american public attention not on mueller. we've all been obsessed with mueller and russia. i've been saying for a year, i
think the southern district is where the scary stuff is, and today, boy, we really saw it. we saw these checks with that silly donald trump signature, saying, you know, effectivelily that the president was completing his payoff regime while he was a sitting president. and it's not just criminal, it's also political. remember, this president said, he was asked in april of last year, did you know about these stormy daniels payment? he said, no. >> go ask my lawyer, michael cohen. >> and we can pooh-pooh this and some republicans trying to, saying, this is some minor campaign finance thing. uh-huh. this is arguably the most significant campaign finance contributions ever in the history of the united states. >> i begged you to come on today, because even though this won't, i believe, wind up in a legal forum, i don't see it, but i think because of the doj guidance and dealing with a sitting president, i think this winds up being a political trial, if anything. however, the legalities will still guide that process. and today, it was a tough haul for the gop, because they were all about credibility, right? crushing michael cohen's, but they couldn't defend the president's credibility.
and that's going to be tough here when he's been lying about the same stuff that michael cohen was, until he decided to tell the truth about the payments. so what does that set up in terms of opportunities going forward? >> well, remember, impeachment as a political process really requires a decrease in the president's popularity. we saw the reverse being true when it came to bill clinton. and about trying to begin impeachment proceedings, when he was very popular. well, if you have the notion that this president of the united states has committed some crime while in office, it's no longer about the witch hunt that he claims to have happen with mueller, now it's the rock to his hard place. and you're trying to take away the power of the american people to decide for themselves, with all the information they need, who they would like to be the president. that includes campaign finance, that's the reason you actually have it. but one thing that did not satisfy me in this, chris, is what we didn't hear -- and i think you alluded to this, michael -- we didn't hear the direct conversation that the president would have said to make it clear that he was directing and coordinating the
payment. now, why that's not satisfactory and why it would lead to the political discussion, is because if this is a matter of michael cohen not being a yes, man, following orders, but rather somebody being a people pleaser and saying, well, i assumed what you want by our conversation and maybe the gazes you've given me, you have a harder role trying to say, his popularity will go down, the interest in impeachment goes up, and you have the plateau we've been at for a while. >> right. although i must say, it was a point in favor of michael cohen's credibility. he had opportunities today to take an axe to the president of the united states. oh, yeah, he directed me to do it. he knew all about it. roger stone, i heard the whole conversation, the president said, is this about hillary clinton, he said, yes. i heard don junior tell him about that meeting and he said it was with the russians. michael cohen was blank on all three of those. he gave a lot of spread to the president on that, which i think went to his credibility. now, the missing pieces, if mike is right, that neal is right,
that this wasn't supposed to be the be-all, end-all, then what space does it leave for the mueller probe? garrett wrote the book on mueller as far as the operative diary where i'm concerned right now. and what space is there that they would be waiting for? >> neal, i think, is right that we're so obsessed with the mueller report and the end of the mueller probe and what that's going to bring, that, by my count, is one of 17 or 18 different investigations focused on the trump world right now have. so if bob mueller hangs up his, you know, his report tomorrow and heads out golfing, there are 17 other federal prosecutors and state prosecutors digging into trump's orbit. that's an incredible criminal liability. and just to sort of put a little bit of sort of step back context about what we're talking about, we're talking about today, we saw evidence convincing, credible evidence that the president of the united states was engaged in federal felonies
while in the white house. we're just not really sure that they were sort of surprising enough felonies today that we should be really concerned about this. >> listen, coates is the lawyer, but neal, you too. frankly, you too. >> that's funny, neal. >> you were in the supreme court today, is that really anything? the idea of, well, what's your standard here? and them saying, well, we don't care about the felony, this is a political contest, to laura's point, as opposed to a legal standard. they had no interest in it! they had no curiosity in that felony today, until we got to the southern district. now, i just want to introduce this sound. because to me, i'm with mike isikoff, what you're about to hear made my jaw drop. play michael cohen in response to one of the members of congress playing on his writ reticence and bringing up the southern district of new york and what may be going on there? >> 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 are currently being looked at by the southern district of new york. >> now, look, i know mike cohen, okay? and he is very worried about messing up, okay? he's volunteering to come into these things, but the last thing he wants is more trouble. he knows they can pick up the phone and ask the southern district if there's anything going on, so he's not going to lie about it. but then i was waiting for that guy to say, with all due respect, i'll take care of what the southern district's worried about and you're here, they haven't told us not to -- >> that answer should have infuriated the members of the committee, because the fact is, the southern district -- we know what the justice department policy is. >> right. >> you cannot indict a sitting president. >> right. so there is nothing the southern district can, at the end of the day, do about donald trump. it is the obligation of congress to investigate crimes by a sitting president. and take action. that's their constitutional obligation.
so they have no reason to let an answer like that stand. sorry, not good enough. >> especially when they're trying to advance their own agenda. but neal, you could not be more uncomfortable sitting where you are right now. >> yeah, that's right. >> you know what the justice department policy is, neal. >> two things, the justice department policy, i don't think, covers crimes like this, which is whether or not someone committed a crime to get in the office in the first place. >> excuse me. >> number one. number two, even if that were true, i'm sure cohen's testimony to congress was negotiated with negotiators and prosecutors to make sure that he doesn't stray into active investigations, of which this is one. so it shouldn't have infuriated them. it's not surprising at all that that's the answer that you would get from michael cohen. and even if you thought a sitting president couldn't be indicted, there would be all sorts of things you could do. you might have an indictment or something like that. >> could be impeached! >> that is the only remedy here. >> that's mike's point. >> that's the only remedy. and there's no proviso in the justice department lloc provisions that says, you can
indict -- >> it doesn't address the issue. >> judge coates, who's right on this? can you indict a sitting president for crimes committed to get into office? >> it's unsettled, quite frankly. the counsel policy is a guideline. it's not set in stone. and it hasn't been contemplated, the policy you're talking about. but why it shouldn't perhaps not infuriate the sdny, for this reason -- >> not the sdny, members of congress. >> michael cohen has already infuriated the sdny, by being not forthcoming enough about information, not wanting to cooperate holistically, and instead, withholding information. now, if he goes before the congress right now and says, i'm going to further tick them off, knowing that there is -- it's a hail mary chance, but still an opportunity for them to come back and say, you know what, your honor, we would like to re-allocute in terms of being able to say, maybe a lighter sentence.
he knows what side of his bread is buttered, and that's one of the reasons. but i do see your point as to why in a political arena, it would not satisfy the people who were asking the questions on behalf of the american people to say, oh, okay, so this isn't a public hearing fully? if it's going to be public, tell us everything you want to know or at least make the facade, like, you cared enough to. >> well, except that i think that the democrats are making a very smart play in this, that they are legislate the legal process lead the way. they understand, at the end, this is a political issue. that this is a political process that they need to work through. but the democrats want to make sure, particularly on this committee, that this doesn't come across as a partisan exercise. that they are going to let the legal process play out in the southern district, in mueller's report, and all of these other investigations, and then they will see what that outcome is, and then take action. and i think that that's one of the things that's really clear about the sdny. >> i think that's a beautiful
point. because i think as americans, we keep hearing different things about trump, he did this wrong, he did that wrong, and we almost get inured to it a little bit. we don't ask a serial murderer, when they killed someone, we don't say, oh, well, we already knew he was a serial murderer, so let's let that one go. so doing in a legal process, slowly, carefully, the facts coming out first, i think, is a very good smart move. and after all, that's what they're criticizing trump for doing. >> i'll tell you what didn't bode well, laura, tell me if i'm right, and mike, i want to wrap up with you and we have to go. is that this is an actual felony that cohen pled to and certainly the southern district of new york thinks he is guilty of this campaign finance. there was zero buy-in by the republicans. so if the obvious demonstration -- and i really believe it is obvious -- it stands to reason and every fact we know, not only did he lie about it, it's obvious that he knew about it, the payment system is clear and it was fraudulent and it was obvious, okay? so if this does nothing to generate political sport, to your point, at this point, all right, but there was zero buy-in today by any republicans, how
high will the bar need to be, laura coates for them to say, even i must vote for this? >> there should not have to be herculean efforts at this point in time. when michael cohen said, by the way, individual number one is actually the president of the united states, he very explicitly said, he's an unindicted co-conspirator. >> and not a single person looked at that. >> amish asked some questions, that he had some curiosity. but i think no one else did. quick wrap from you, mike. what do people need to know? >> just to come back to the mueller investigation, which is really what began all of this, i thought it was interesting that cummings made it clear that mueller had no objection to cohen testifying about all matters relating to russia, which is another sign that he's wrapping up with, that they're not waiting for some big case to drop in which cohen's testimony is essential. that's important. he made some important -- fleshed out some new tasks relating to the trump tower moscow project, trump saying half a dozen times, how's it going in russia, but answers
about collusion, questions about collusion, saying he didn't have direct evidence, and he denied one of the most sensational allegations in the steele dossier that he had been to prague to meet with russian agents. he said, i've never been to prague. >> i think after we hear the lawmakers tonight there's going to be a need to go through some of this again in terms of what the obvious strategies are. i'll ask some of you to stick around. we can fight it out in the break. but thank you, each and all, for making really good points to understand where we are and where we're headed. now, to help you understand, and to help myself, actually, the team got together and focused us on what happened today. what are the allegations that cohen made against the president? what did he have proof for? and which ones, if any, allowed democrats to go down the road with impossible impeachment? we've laid it out for you, next. ♪ a wealth of information. a wealth of perspective. ♪
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that provide all-day comfort. to keep him feeling more energized. dr. scholl's. born to move. what we saw today was a pivotal moment in the presidency of donald john trump. we know what presidents -- what democrats now see as their path for scrutiny. the president of the united states may have broken the law while in office. listen. >> a copy of a check mr. trump wrote from his personal bank
account after he became president to reimburse me for the hush money payments i made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and to prevent damage to his campaign. >> the suggestion is, a sitting president played an integral role in a felony. now, on cohen's side, he has the receipts and common sense. the checks, 35 grand, dated in 2017. and as you know, that is trump's signature. just as striking, the complete lack of interest in criminal behavior by a sitting president, even when cohen said this. >> did the president call you to coordinate on public messaging about the payments to miss 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 obvious a democrat asking the question, because almost no goper followed up with any curiosity about what appears to be a felony while in office. there is only condemnation for the mere assertion. but you know, congress isn't the only ones who have heard this from cohen and others. and apparently, the southern district of new york has much more appetite for where this could lead. listen to what cohen said. >> 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. >> i was really hoping they would have pushed cohen for more information about what's going on in the southern district, because they can't go after the president, only congress is really going to make anything happen here, but didn't happen. we did see, however, a lot of avenues of exposure for the president. taxes, corruption in the trump organization, and the one guy who knows that he has an
immunity deal. >> allen weisselberg. allen weisselberg. in the office with me was allen weisselberg. so allen weisselberg is the chief financial officer. >> cfo, has been counting money for trump since it was his father running the business. now, when there are this many politicians talking in front of a camera, all right, it's going to be telling not just what they say, but you have to start listen for what isn't being said. on the republican side, like i said, no curiosity about what cohen was saying, no pushing for mfgs about wrongdoing. not one of them was able to defend the actions of the president of the united states. all of them called cohen unbelievable entirely. even though, remember, cohen took several opportunities today to bootstrap their defense of the president. he admitted he had no proof of collusion. he wouldn't say that trump told stone to talk with wikileaks. he said mr. trump would never hurt his wife.
and as for the major theme for gopers today, all that counts is credibility and cohen has none. listen. >> if you lied, you are a liar. >> everything's been made of your lies in the past. i'm concerned about your lies today. >> a convicted liar. >> you're a pathological liar. >> here's the thing. if you're so into lying, how do you explain loyalty to the president that you zealously defended today? everything cohen is accused of lying about, his money, his contact with foreign companies, his role in the hush payments, these are all the same things that the president lies about. the only real difference is that only one of the two has admitted to the lying without forcing others to prove it. that is, so far. so, those were the high points today that kind of show us a path forward for democrats and the resistance by republicans. so, now what? we have two lawmakers who took part in today's hearing for this story. we're going to go to both and test both, next. ♪ ♪ let's go from plans... to full-blown production.
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with sofi's no-fee personal loan, want more from your entejust say teach me more. into your xfinice remote to discover all sorts of tips and tricks in x1. can i find my wifi password? just ask. [ ding ] show me my wifi password. hey now! [ ding ] you can even troubleshoot, learn new voice commands and much more. clean my daughter's room. [ ding ] oh, it won't do that. welp, someone should. just say "teach me more" into your voice remote and see how you can have an even better x1 experience. simple. easy. awesome. so what are the possibilities? cohen's testimony could very well open up more lines of inquiry into the things that matter most to trump, his family and his family business. here's why. >> who were the family members that you briefed on the trump
tower moscow project? >> don trump jr. and ivanka trump. >> if mr. trump and his daughter, ivanka, and donald trump jr. are involved in the rump -- in the russian trump tower deal, is it possible the whole thing is conflicted or compromised with a foreign adversary in the months before the election? >> yes. >> all right. you don't have to be a lawyer to see what's going on. democrats digging into what the trumps, plural, knew and when, in light of facts that the president's business dealings with russia extended far into his presidential campaign, something that would mean that the president has not told you the truth about. congressman steven lynch, you were there, thank you very much for being here, after a very long day. >> good to be with you. >> two big questions. first, did you believe cohen? and if so, on everything or what? >> i found him believable. and as you've noted before, if he was going to just do a hatchet job on trump, he would
not have stopped at the point of saying, no, i can't say there was collusion. there were a couple of points in his testimony where he actually defended the president when he was unfairly accused. so i think that all lent to his credibility. i think he did a very good job. remember, he's going into a very tough, a hostile environment. you've got all the republicans calling him a liar multiple times. and then, i still think he withstood a lot and he came out of it looking better than i ever thought he might. >> the main criticism was -- and this is unusual, that the democrats are leaning on a guy who was an admitted liar as a key component in the first big oversight hearing. >> lied to congress. >> lied to congress, lied to this body. and this is how you come out of the gate in trying to find out what to do with or to the president of the united states? fair criticism? >> no, not really. this is one witness, one day. none of this happened -- the last two years, the republicans swept everything into the intelligence committee where it's a classified setting, so the public knew nothing. here we have one witness who
said, look, i'll come in voluntarily without a subpoena and i'll testify and i'll tell the truth. he's also under the threat of, if he lies, of a longer sentence, of, you know, spending more time in jail, heavier penalties. so i think there were a lot of incentives there for him to tell the truth. and i actually think, if you listen to that testimony today, i think you would be hard-pressed to argue that he did not tell the truth. >> well, there were plenty arguing that in the room today. >> well, they called him a liar, but never questioned his testimony. they said, oh, you've been convicted of lying before, but all of them said, you're a liar, but nobody ever said, tried to take his testimony apart. >> what's the point of asking about the kids? so what if they did know about it? they never -- they're not in a position of elected office. none of them ever lied to the american people. and even if they had, who and even if they had, who cares? >> well, we want witnesses, right? they were in those meetings. so we're looking for people who also can corroborate mr. cohen's testimony or dispute it. >> but that is like real
dynamite. you bring in the president's kids, you're asking for a war, are you not? >> i think we have one. the thing is here that the president said, look, i had nothing to do with the negotiation of the trump tower. remember, the debates against hillary, we had no business in russia. we had no deals. he was actually directly instructing mr. cohen on the negotiations, on the trump tower, while he was doing that. so we want to find out who was there. we did not know if it was only donald, if it was only ivanka. there might have been others that we could bring in, as well. so we want to know who, what, when, try to get the facts right on this. >> if everything that cohen said today about the president committing a felony, of campaign finance violation during his presidency, if it's true that he knew about roger stone going to wikileaks, if he knew about the trump tower meeting, if he knew about all of those things, do you think this president would be impeached in this political climate? >> we don't have to make that decision, because we're only
partway done with this investigation. there's another aspect of this, too. michael cohen today said that he went to the white house and the president and his attorneys instructed michael cohen to lie to congress, to lie to the fbi. so, is that a heavier claim of obstruction of justice? he says that they told him, basically, what the message was -- >> but you know the law. you know the law. i see why you say obstruction of justice and not suborning perjury, because if you don't have the talismanic phrase of, you need to go lie. michael cohen was very clear today, you won't get him for suborning perjury, you might get him for obstructing, but many think he can't on instruct as president. >> he can't the indicted, but his attorneys crafted the message they sent michael cohen back, so there's greater complicity than others.
>> what needs to be gone back over after today? >> we were given documents, not just president trump's personal check and the trump foundation check, but also financials that michael cohen delivered, so we think that mr. neal of the ways and means committee will have to look at that. if those are inconsistent with other filings that the president has made, it might give grounds for a court to say, you know what, we need to see your tax returns. we need to compare these and, you know, if that counts, if there's a judicial decree that says that congress has a right to your tax returns, i think that opens up a whole new avenue of inquiry. >> thank you very much, congressman. i appreciate you coming in. you said it was a long day, but a good day. let's see that it winds up being good for the american people. >> good to be with you, chris. >> now we want to get the opposite perspective. we have louisiana congressman clay higgins. i asked him to come back and he
kept his word. sir, a pleasure to meet you in person. >> and i promised you a gift and i brought one. >> not until after the show. people think i had a few before. >> you heard what congressman lynch said. >> my esteemed colleague, brilliant gentlemen. >> he believes that michael cohen seemed credible today. to you? >> well, i think there's a divided measure of his performance today, i think if you ask most americans, they'll think at moments he seemed credible and sometimes he did not. my overall impression is he is a deeply troubled man and he's going through quite a disturbing period of his life and it's reflected in everything he does. most of hifz testimony was very carefully scripted. personally, i felt for him. >> did you believe him? >> i believed him sometimes. >> did you believe him about the
president committing a felony while in office and enabling his payments these women and reimbursing him fraudulently? >> i believe that sometimes he believed that. >> do you believe that it happened? >> other times, he was -- i believe he was speaking scripted statements that were designed for this venue and for this particular hearing and setting. >> but you were an investigator, so you've done the work. >> the most solid thing he presented, that has any -- to present screen shots of tweets is, i would say, less than a credible piece of evidence. >> what about the check with the signature on it, $35,000? >> the two checks were the -- were the things he presented that had the most -- that has the most impact. however, those checks, those were disclosed in the president's financial disclosures from 2016 as a side note and they were looked at by the acting director of the office of government ethics. >> was amended.
>> which was an obama appointee. >> but it was amended. the financial disclosure was amended. >> but this does happen. the point is, it was disclosed and looked at. now, that doesn't mean that america doesn't deserve for it to be looked at further. and this is the nature of an investigation. it moves forward of its own violation, as evidence is presented, or perhaps determined a second look should be taken. and this is how our judicial process, imperfect though it be, is the best in the world. and everyone has a right to have their side of the story presented. >> well, this is congress, right, so this isn't about a legal determination, it's going to be a political one. and it doesn't matter how strong or weak the case in, if men and women in congress want to vote for or against, that's going to be their right and their ability. so it's a little bit of a different situation. your crescendo today was a back and forth about your concerns about mr. cohen's proof and how
he brought it to be. i want to play it for the audience. >> i'm quoting you, earlier, you said, i spent last week looking through boxes that would support your accusations. where are those boxes good, sir? where are those boxes? are they in your garage? >> they're in storage. >> and are these not boxes that should have been turned over to investigative authorities during the many criminal investigations you've been subject to? >> sir, these are the boxes that were returned to me -- >> if they include -- >> i didn't understand this. because, look, i thought that you were very sympathetic. you actually set the tone that way. i believe you were the first to say, in your opening statement, in your introductory remark to him, hey, i feel for your family. i'm sorry for what they're going through. and then others followed you after that. kudos to you. a little civility goes a long way. but i didn't get this. because he says, i turned all of this stuff over, they then gave it back to me, so now i went through it to give you these
things. so he didn't keep these things from the federal authorities, at least by his answer. what were you getting at there? >> with all due respect, i didn't take anything that mr. cohen said today at face value. just because he said something does not make it so. the man's about to go to prison because he made false statements and, again, i feel for him for that. but it's quite contrary. first of all, that small segment was time that was yielded to me by a colleague. and in a very, very short period of time to get that question in and then i followed up on it in my further statement, as i questioned him about it. it's very unlike an investigation to seize evidence from the field, to harvest evidence from the field, and then return that evidence while there's some ancillary investigation ongoing. and the way he presented it, it was as if he had searched through boxes somewhere, and what was the nature of this evidence? >> yeah, but look. >> if there's evidence out there, we want it, is my point. >> and he brought it to you. one of two things are true.
either he just lied to congress about what proof he was looking at, which means he's crazy, because he just set himself out to go to jail for even longer. >> i didn't accept it at face value. it's completely unlike any investigation. >> but if he's telling the truth, you kind of beat him up on it for no reason. but if that is what happened, you made it look like he was doing something dirty when he wasn't. and this whole environment today was so stained by politics, i was just surprised to see you go there, that's why i'm asking you about it. >> the bottom line is, what we were looking for was truth and it was within a venue that was quite politically charged. >> 100%. >> and the gentlemen was making statements quite anecdotal about his observations and this is not the quay court works, thank god, in america. both sides should be presented. and we have the right, you know,
to do so and to be considered innocent until proven guilty. mr. cohen today struck me as a man that was struggling to find a way out of a trap. and he allegedly was going to present some condemning evidence and he presented a great deal of documents that were quite meaningless, with the exception of the checks. it was never pointed out that these checks had been looked into by the, by the government prior, by an obama-appointed director of government ethics. that doesn't mean that america doesn't deserve that this should be looked into further. >> here's one other thing i wanted to ask you about, and i'll let you go, and i appreciate it after such a long day. it was not surprising that the right side of the aisle went after him for credibility. here's what i don't get. i think that you're right to go after credibility. but there is an obvious disconnect going on. the things that cohen has lied
about are the same things that our president has lied about in the past and continues to do so. >> that's your allegation. >> well, i could go -- we could go through -- we could go through three of those six packs with me laying out all the different lies. >> perhaps we will. but we have a right to disagree about this and that's what courts are for. >> 100%. but this isn't a court. this is congress, it's oversight, and it's fine. what i'm saying is, i have never seen outrage about what the president lies about like any of the outrage i saw from the right today about michael cohen. is that hypocrisy? >> well, i think you have to look for belief. and if we believe that michael cohen, in our heart of hearts, was orchestrated into this presentation today, which he was, by lanny davis, and unfortunately, i believe that our chairman, who's a highly esteemed gentlemen i greatly admire, i believe he was pulled into this thing, i think the
only -- listen, i don't think america won today, i don't think it was any good for michael cohen. i don't think it helped. i don't think it helped to condemn the president in any way. and i do think it injured the integrity of the oversight committee. and i think the only guy that perhaps won was lanny davis. his name has been dusted off again and he's back -- >> he's a side figure on cohen's team. he's not telling cohen what to do? >> people are watching him again. >> well, you guys brought him up as relevant, that's why. but congressman, i appreciate you taking -- i think it's ironic that today you guys went through and on your wrist you have a bracelet that says "redemption." >> i believe that, and i think you feel that in my spirit. >> well -- >> i seek the truth, we all should. the vitriol and division in our nation, my friend, we must overcome. that's why i'm in your studio -- >> i'm happy to have you here. >> that's why i brought you a cold beer. >> i'll tell you what, if you wait until the end of the show, there will be a few less. >> let's get to the bottom of this. >> america needs more of you guys working to get their work done.
thank you very much, sir. appreciate it. >> yes, sir. ahead, cohen's warning for the president's loyalists in congress. if you don't open your eyes, you're going to end up just like me. what did that mean? next. it's absolute confidence in 30,000 precision parts. or it isn't. it's inspected by mercedes-benz factory-trained technicians. or it isn't. it's backed by an unlimited mileage warranty, or it isn't. for those who never settle, it's either mercedes-benz certified pre-owned, or it isn't. the mercedes-benz certified pre-owned sales event. now through february 28th. only at your authorized mercedes-benz dealer.
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all right. it was a big day, no matter what color of partisan you're wearing these days. the american people, all of you, got to witness over seven hours of testimony from the president's disbarred former personal lawyer, michael cohen. and the white house says, don't believe what you hear. but cohen wasn't just there to correct the record. he came with a warning to the
people now in the president's inner circle. he said this. you are going to suffer the same consequences that i am suffering. let's bring back michael isikoff, laura coates, and garrett graf. not so much for what he was talking about there. i didn't even really understand the point of the warning, but after listening to higgins and listening to lynch and understanding where their heads are on this, what do you see, michael, as the chance of what happens going forward? >> well, i do think the democrats have to be careful here. because, you know, cohen's testimony was kind of scatter shot. you know, it was all over the map. and i think if you want to build a case against the president, you've got to focus on exactly what you -- that case is. and, you know, if it's the campaign finance, that's fine. you know, we've been -- although for the last two years, it's been russia. so, i think that they have to sort of, you know, work through what it is. but can i say, there were a couple of nuggets in cohen's testimony that nobody has talked about yet. >> please!
>> which i want to bring up. first, the trump foundation. you know, he has this testimony, amazing testimony, about this $60,000 painting that trump wants, a portrait of himself, and he has a fake bidder bid on it at a hampton auction, he uses the foundation to reimburse the fake bidder and he takes it for himself. clear-cut abuse of a tax-exempt charity. the other one is his tax returns. nobody's really talking about that, but there was a nugget in cohen's testimony about how cohen -- about how trump showed him at one point about a $10 million irs tax refund that trump got in 2008. now, we've never heard about that before, but i think that's a really intriguing clue as to why trump has not released his tax returns. you know, everybody thinks, you know, there are all sorts of reasons, but if he's been getting refunds from the government, multi-million, if not billionaire, that wouldn't
sit well with voters. and that could well explain one of the biggest mysteries of the trump presidency. >> although i think those are the people who most often get the biggest tax refunds. so, look, could there be things there? yes. it's all going to be about getting the facts. now, laura, you are the lawyer here. it's all going to be getting the facts. laura, you are the lawyer. we don't believe it, and we're not going to be curious about it, because it's all a mess on the american people. where do you go from there? >> you would think, just for the sake of saving face, to acknowledge there is somebody who is named the sitting president of the united states as essentially an an unindicted
co-conspirator, you would have to follow that line of questioning. it's also problematic because this credibility game about who is more truthful or who is going to be the bigger liar, you've got quite a track record on both sides for the president of the united states and michael cohen about these very issues. what you don't have in terms of the credibility consensus about trump versus cohen is receipts. you have not just congress is believing him. you have the sdny who have used him as a cooperator. you have mueller's team who has used him as a cooperator, which tells you they're not going to say, i'll take your word for it. they have information to corroborate it. the fact that congress in a parallel investigation is simply unwilling to yield on the issue of credibility when you've got very seasoned prosecutors, one of whom is on autopilot in new york and the other who is part of the mueller team, it's really disconcerting and unproductive. >> more clear than ever that when mueller ends, it is really just the end of the beginning. >> yeah, and i think to disagree a little bit with michael, i
actually think that michael cohen, one of the things that he did for the american people today was to begin to put this together as a cohesive, credible narrative, that we sort of talk about this as wikileaks, the trump tower meeting, the campaign finance violations, the trump tower moscow project. it's all the same thing. it's all the same people. one of the things that sort of michael cohen did today was sort of pierce this facade where we sort of pretend that the trump organization and the trump campaign is a fortune 100 company with thousands of people and dozens of offices, and there's a chance that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. and that's just not true. it's a bunch of people sitting in sort of the same office suite. most of them have the last name trump or are married to a trump, and that one of the things that michael cohen began to say today is that the key players are all the same. >> right. >> and to add to what laura is saying --
>> i got to tell you this. i got to leave it there but one little prediction that is a guarantee. if they start hauling in the president's children, you're going to see a different level of animosity from him that we have ever seen before. and they have to make that calculation. they're not just other witnesses. they're not just other people with information. they're his kids. now, i know people say, i don't care. they're adults. they made the decision. if you're parents, you know what i mean and it's going to matter more in this context. thank you very much. what are you dying to say? are you all right? >> no. i'm good. we've said it all. >> good. let him get the last word because he's the better mind. all right. a few more reflections on what we learned today, okay? and there is a message for congress in today, and i don't know that they're hearing it. but i'm hoping they get it when i say it, and i hope you echo it loud and clear. next. spayment, sent off.n feeling good? oh yeah. now i'm ready to focus on my project.
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l'oreal paris introduces rouge signature matte colored ink less texture more color less excess more impact all day matte bare lip sensation rouge signature matte colored ink by l'oreal paris we're worth it you saw it today. congress is all about opposition. the only vantage point by too many of these men and women is advantage. the partisan pandering, craven and complete, as ugly as it is obvious. so much so that it has to make the term "term limits" the rallying cry for a successful
man or woman in the next national election. let's come back to them. we also learned things today that matter, not about cohen and his remorse or the president's character or lack thereof. i doubt many of his supporters ever really believed he was a man of integrity. his flaws made him a match for the flawed place they were sending him, and today that showed. what we learned is where we are headed. the democrats are apparently pursuing two theories, trying to show the president participated in a felony by covering up payments made to cohen as reimbursement for the hush money paid to women to protect the campaign, a potential felony. impeachable? hard to fathom how republicans would get onboard with that with the unanimous dismissal of it today. not one of them offered up anything to prove the president did nothing wrong or actually did something right. but they all were on script in insisting that cohen, nothing to believe. the irony is both said that lying or that they used to lie
in service to the same master, the president. the second thing we learned is that the real ambition here is to show that the president knew about those around him contacting bad guys, lied about the same, and then frustrated the probe to keep it hidden. but if cohen were the ace in the hole on that, the democrats have a garbage hand at this point unless the southern district is holding some big-time face cards that show things to be real that are now largely speculative. and then the biggest challenge, there was no smoking gun today, but it's early, okay? i'm not sure what significant peril the president may face from today's events, but there's still mueller's report, the sdny, new york state, additional oversight all to come. and republicans are saying nothing else can get done because of this obsession with trump and russia and impeachment. let's take that on. that's wrong. the reason nothing is getting done is because of their opposition. proof of the problem. today the democrats in the house passed universal background checks. eight republicans voted with them. two democrats voted against.
so it's largely party line. now it goes to the senate, where it is assumed to be a dead letter. why? the gop cites that existing law is already sufficient. remember that. because they put up a bill to make it illegal for doctors to kill newborn babies. we don't have laws covering that already? nonsense. you need to protect babies from doctors even though there's law at every level making it a crime to hurt a newborn? but you don't want to do background checks because of existing law, which does not cover every instance. come on. stop the madness. make a different choice. we all know robert frost's famous poem, right, the road not taken. two roads diverged in a wood. i took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. we've been down the road of opposition. the country can't take much more of it. our congress has to work. you can fight over how bad a person the president is and do the work of the people at the same time.
you're right, there is other work to do. today we saw resistance to doing that work. take the less traveled road by you people these days. do your job. thank you for watching. the news continues here on cnn. this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, everyone, welcome to the program. i'm christiane amanpour, in vietnam, where donald trump and kim jong-un have stopped their summit. >> we're expecting a news conference from president trump earlier than planned. it was supposed to happen later today. but everything changed just in the last hour or so when a planned lunch, a working lunch, between the two leaders