tv Washington Week PBS May 4, 2018 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
robert: damage control. the white house is blindsided by one of the president's new lawyers. i'm robert costa. we examine the extraordinary legal battle on multiple fronts from russion to to congress. tonight on "washington week." >> the fund and the president repaid t >> former new york mayor and attorney rahm emanuel --ud r guiliani dropped a bombshell and claimed the president reimbursed his attorney for a $130,000 payment to an adult film star to buy her silence. that statement abo the 2016 campaign contradicted the president's own words on airforce one just last month. >> do you know about the 30,000 paymento stormy daniels? president trump: no, no. >>hy do people -- president trump: you have to
ask michael cohen. michael is my attorney.ll yo have to ask him. >> do you know where he got the money? n president trum robert: on friday guiliani attempted to clarify that any actions cohen took were to protect trump personal reputation. the president escalates his attacks on the justice department and the mueller probe after the special counsel warns that he may subpoena mr. trump to testify, writing in a tweet, at some point i will have no choice but to use the wers granted to the presidency and get involved. we cover it with carol leonnig of "the washington post," kimberly atkins of the boston rald, and jeremy peters and julie hirschfeld davis of the "new york times." week. is washington
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>> additional funding is provided by cancer treatment nters of america, newman's own ti foundation, do all profits from newman's own food products to charity and nourishing the common good. koo and patricia yuen through the yuen foundation, committed to bridging cultural differences in our communities. the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers likeu. thank you. once again, from washington,ob moderator,t costa. robert: good evening. it was announced friday the unemployment rate fell 3.9% in april, the first time it has dipped below 4% since 2000. and a possible breakthroughlk with north korea ahead of a planned presidential summit continue. but as president trump left washington for dallas speak
to the n.r.a. convention, tho developments and challenges were over shadowed by the legal battles he and hisea are waging. at times out of step with each other. and by t ongoing special counsel probe into russian election interference. an investigation mr. trump has long called a cloudver his presidency. that cloud, his words, only seed to growth week. tyrobb his law on russia who preached cooperation with special counsel rober mueller ahead of a potential presidential interview resigned. rudy guiliani, the former new rk mayor, and n the president's lead outside attorney, made a stunng statement on fox news that mr. trump made a series ofnt pay reimbursing his personal lawyer, michael cohen, for a $130,000 settlement with an adult film aress, ms. stephany clifford, also known as stormy daniels. that's despite the president's assertion last month that he was unaware of the payment.
guiliani then iued a clarification of sorts on friday that read in part, there is no campaign violation the payme was made to resolve a personal and false in order to protect the president's family. itn would have b done in any event whether he was a candidate or not. he then went on to say it is undisputed that the president's dismissal of former director comey, an inferior executive officer, was clearly within his article 2 power.it as in short a torrent of information and news driven byl increasi combative players that leave many unanswered questions about what's next for these investitions and for president trump as he reshuffles his legal team.ca l, you've been talking to rudy guiliani. the st talked to him today. why did the mayor choose now to try to get out in front of this issue talk about it as omething that wasn't a campaign violation, campaign finance violation, these
payments to cohen? r carol: itlly freaked out a lot of people inside the white house because they didn't know tis was coming on "fox & friends" untily literally tuned into the show. but, clearly, according to some ofs those advis who are now trying to get up to speed, what happened was rudy had a long conversation with the president about stormy daniels and the payment to cohen and he decided to get in front and clear up this mess byeelling peo what had happened, that there had been a repayment. the problem was, rudy created another small mess. legally you don't know exactly whether it puts the president in more jeopardy but it clearly muddled the waters in the wor way. robert: when you look, julie, inside of the white house this week, wha ws going onh the president's legal advice? you have ty cobb leaving. he w prefecture cooperation with bob mueller. now -- he was preaching cooperation with now you have a veteran lawyer coming to work inside the white house. as carol said guiliani is on the outside workingn the rsonal team. who is leading the legal team and legal advice?
julie: i thihe legal team is operating as a legal team trying to advise the presideav but you a president who does not want to be advised particularly. you have aresident who feels he knows the best and has been close to rudy guiliani. he felt that conversation he had with rudyuiliani was a strategy conversation that was going to lead to something that would end up being a better message publicly on all of this than he was getrengously. part of the problem with the legal team has been that they have been treling thedent for months and months or the previous lawyers had that, you know, we need tope cte, give them documents, cooperate with interview requests, to get this behind you. this will clear the air. he has waited and waited for this to go away and it has not. he is increasingly frusthated with when you have rudy guiliani who ing in very well c and saying let's just get this over with and say what it is. we'll put it out there that you
paid it back. it has nothing to do with a legal violation. we'll just get this off the table. that is very appealing to the presidt. i think ty thought that was how it was going to play but as carol said it's raised all these new questions. and now you have emmett flood and the lawyers who have to deal with the implications eling very blindsided not to mention the rest of the staff feeling like they don't know what is o actually goin here between the president and guiliani and where this is robert: what is the credibility cost for the white house, jeremy, when you thinkthbout conflicting statements the president made in april about michaeloh and now guiliani coming out with his own statements? jeremy: to the extent people didn't alrdy know this is white house that stretches the truth, that puts misinformation out therehat the president, himself, does that, the president, himself, has flatly lied at times, i think this is probably -- toes't change anything. as sad as that is, bob. i think it's rlly true. we've known all of this about
trump and the people around him. when his press secretary com to the podium every day she doesn't really know half the story. d tragically, we saw that this week when her credibility i think was even further eroded. butching rudy guiliani go out there on sean hannity the other nig and just kind of free style, is indicative of how this president runs his white house. it is indicative how he ran his sinesses, how he runs his personal life. i mean, he kind of put it all out there, right? it was free whe it was unstructured. it was undisciplined. it put people in legal jeopardy. that's the story of this white house. robert: that legal jeopardy question, kim, you are an uattorney. hink about the comey walk back today by guiliani. they're worried it seems wun alk to people close to this legal team that the president could be in some kino peril legally about obstruction of justice. if the intent on the comey firing last year is seen as something that was done to end the russia probe, rather than
for another reason related to his conduct. kimberly: absolutely. that is one of the things rudy guiliani was tal about, giving all these alternate reasons for things like whypr t ident fired jim comey. that was different both from whatff theial reason given and also from what the president himself said he actually confirmed comey's own account that he was concerned about the president really publicly wanting comey to publicly exonerate him in this way. i think it's really interesting that we have seen this rudy guiliani come in to be, you know, the former prosecutor and he can go and he knows mueller and he is goi to reinhis thing in but he went from legal position to p.r. position and really went back to the rudy guiliani we saw on the campaign trail. just out in full trump style saying all of this stuff. i think apparently the president liked it a lot at first but when he realized how oblematic it was we've seen him pull him back in. that's why we saw that statement today.uc robert: an important
point, carol. i kept asking myself this week, who is the audience for guiliani? is he talking to mueller? is this really about reshaping bnot juff the legtle but the court of public opinion? carol: so you know the answer to that question, bob, because we've been talking about it a lot of times. you know, the president wants a tv lawyer.an there'sot of grousing behind the scenes about fsaks ng oh, i guess i'm not a tv lawyer. he wants sebody throwing punches on the screen sohe blic sees his point of view. and he, for a lon time, believed ty cobb's view that you cooperate, you get asng, and tloud will dissipate and the rain will clear. everything will be great. that didn't work. he agreed with john dowd, one of his lead attorneys, untile resigned. he agreed i shouldn't probably do that interview. i should just sit tight and see where this all goes. but ultimately, rudy and the a presiden perfectly matched because what are they going to do? come out slugging on t
that's what he did. >> think about the clip you played at the top where president turns around, immediately, without having to think when asked, did you know heything about the stormy payment? says, no. and that right there is the reason why his lawyers think it is a terrible, or any lawyer who knows anything about the facts here, should think it is a terrible idea to ever sit him down in front of robert mueller because president trumps one person who knows him very well explained to me is the guy who would pass the lieetector test even when he is not telling the truth because he says what he believes to be true ihat moment in order to get by. robert: let's talk about that. today the president tol reporters he's eager to speak to mueller and that he would over ride the objections of his rneys. president trump: i would love to go, i would love to speak. but i have toind that we're going to be treated fairly. >> are you sure -- president trump: wait, wait. i have to find we're going to be treatedairly, becau everybody sees it now and it is a pure witch hunt. right now it is a pureitch
hunt. robert: then during his speech to the n.r.a. president trump told the audience about a federal judge who questioned special counsel mueller's authority to bring tax and bank fraudrges against the former trump campaign chairman, paul manafort. julie, we seerom the president today in dallas he came out swinging on the mueller probe and this federal g judge is giv him an argument. julie: it's true. when you ask who the audience was for guiliani's performance in a lot of ways i think it the president he has been very frustrated with the way this has all played. he doesn't feel like he is getting his view across. you'reik seeing things that case to say i'm being treated unfairly. i would love to be forthcoming but i just can't because it is so unfair. what his comments indicated h today is tha lawyers are still telling him, now, don't talk to mueller. that is now thedvice he's getting. because if he is saying i would overrule my lawyers you know theimawyers are telling this is not a good idea for you. the thing i wonder about and
wondered a lot about after guiliani's interviews is what is emmett flood thinking right now? he has been through impeachment, through special counsel investigations. he thinks he is going in to sort of, you know, dig in for the long haul and figure out strategy to confront all of these pential challenges that are coming the president's way. if the president is justdy already r to defy that kind of advice, you don't know -- i mean, it qst begs thestion of whether there is any point in having a legal strategy at all. sibert: what happens, kim? say the pnt declines formally to do an interview heth bob mueller. does mueller do a report on the president's conduct or could he subpoena the presid ht? kimberlye definitely has subpoena power, but what tippens beyond that is a complete open qu because it's never happened before. they've never really had to fire it out. there are some d.o.j. rules that suggest that a preside, if h defies a subpoena and mueller tries to bring a contempt order or file some sort ofharge, that the
president, a sitting president cannot be charged, but that is a d.o.j. opinion. it's never really been worked through the courtha ifs pushed, it would have to take it to the supreme court to decide. that would delay this whole investigation for that much longer. it really unclear what happens, what the end game is, and what could be brewing in this final battle between president trump and robert mueller. jeremy: you asked earlier, bob, about the audience. i think that trump's audience in a lot of these television exchanges and outbursts is his base. he wants to remind them tt he is under constant political attack and persecution.t that's w you saw today when he was speaking to the n.r.a. he whipped out that piece of paper and he read from "the wall street journal" article that quoted the judge saying that roberttiueller essly wants to impeach the president. and right there, that was the aha moment for president trump. see? all the vidation needed.
look, even "the wall street journal" says, even a federal judge says they're out to get me. remember that every time you hear these phony, fakene head about this witch hunt of an investigation. they're out to get me and by extension out to get you and silenc your voice. >> but let's be clear. a prosecutor's job, judge ellis made very good points and was pressing ultimately f the ublic to know more information . his opinion will be known ultimately in his decision that us.'t yet befor but all prosecutors, what is their job? squeeze everybody a the low ranks to get higr and higher. what do you think is happening in the southern district of new york right now? the investigation of michael cohen is while not being run by mueller surely an effort, many source say, to get michael cohen to cooperate in the ultimate, larger, big enchilada of the probe. the same is true in case. ort's robert: we learned earlier this week the mueller team has provided informationo trump lawyers about the kind of
topics, the themes they may want to ask about should th presiden sit. what have we learned? >> so the list of question the president's lawyers came up with is really interesting but it was a based on tense, march 5 meeting, where bob mueller told john dow, the president's lawyer, you know, i can always subpoena your guy. and dowd's response was if you us him to sit down, give more information about what you're going to ask. all of the questions ultimately that the lawrs extrapolated from those little bits of information and those topics, all of the questions the trump lawyers wrote down are things that everybody knows have bnvn undertigation. you know, did manafort have interactions with the russians? did you, president trump, know about that during the campaign? what did you and michael flynn talk about before and after you talked to the russian ambassador, a conversation you lied about to the f.b.i.? these are all d, why you fire mr. comey? why did you seem to want to
fire your attorney general? jeffessions? ultimately, all of those questions go t two main categories. do you know about your campaignw coordinatih the state of russia as they sought to interfere in the election? and did you, personally, try to thwart the probe or know anything about it? robert: when you talk to people close to the president, julie, do they see that list theyo "ne times" reported as too much? do they want to see it narrowed down if the president ever agrees to do it? julie: i think par of what -- i mean, like carol said, there are two categories and i think there's the collusion category and there is the obstruction category. there are a lot of questions about potential obstruction and tthink that's where they are -- they thinky may be able to draw a line beyond which they don't think it's fair for the special counsel to go. that's also true of the real tate transactions, private business transactions. there was a time when president trump was talking to us and to others about a red line if he ever tried to get, if mueller ever tried to start to investigate his own personal finances or theru
organization. but, clearly, this is all wrapped up. and you can't investigate one thing witho the other. and what this list of questions shows is the sheer scope of what mueller is looking at. we've known for sometime that this was the potential range of issues. but the fact that he is actively pursuing all of tho questions really does mean that he is beyond the territory that trump and h allies feel is appropriate for him to be in and we are going to hear i think a lot more inhe coming weeks and months about how this is inappropriate. it's gone off the rails. it's run amok. and depending on what happens with these negotiations on the interview i think that could become a lot more forceful and o ey may start, the president may startnt to take more aggressive action which he has also been signaling. robert: speaking of the red ol line guiliani me this week in an interview that anything with stormy daniels, michael abhen off the. he said we'll see about that. he is still negotiating with musler. leake a bigger picture, jeremy. you reported this week the conservative christian coalition that helped elect
president trump is planning its la mid-term election mobilization ever and the vast majority of evangelical christians are digging in for mr. tmp this week despite the accusations. even in this political hurrelane, of mic cohen and bob mueller, and rudy guiliani, you had the national prayer day at the white house and you have conservative republican voters rallying aroundnt presi trump. jeremy: exactly right. i will point out the stormda els news this week, rudy guiliani's fox news appearance in which heisosed trump was actually repaying michael cohen for the stormy daniels payments, that news broke hours before the national prayer service began at the house. an event at which there were dozens of evangelical christian leaders who support the president. not one of them toy knowledge expressed any misgivings about tpresident trump, about recent disclosure. in fact, when a cnn reporter started doing her stand up talking about theuiliani interview and the trump payment to repay cohen for stormy
daniels, members of the crowd there at thevi prayer s started shouting her down and telling her what a disgrace she was. if anythin i think these accusations have only emboldened the evangelical right more,g, no. you're not coming after our guy. robe w: that cnn reporter just doing her job. jeremy: right. robert: kim, when you think of of the big picture as well, this was the week unemployment went down to 3.9%. the president is trying to have an historic agreement with north korea. will t russia issue really be a factor in the mid-term hielections? is something the whole country is talking about when you are out there reporting? kimberly: apparently the president does because in his coents today at the n.r.a. it gave a preview of what he is going to bring to the campaign in the mid terms in which he plans to be a c stant staple on the stump for the mid terms. that's what he wants to talk about and what he feels like works up the crowd and where he got the big reaction. he got a bigger reaction talking about the mueller probe
than when he was talking about thco se amendment at the n.r.a. rally. i think he thinks that is what resonates with the cro. ah he wants to say the job numbers are good. he'll mention that. he'll mention any progress mad on north korea especially if that spurs a chavens nobel. ut i think he thinks this is good for him politically. robert: amid all of this we have the battle betwe the department of justice, mark meadows the republican coressman wlose to president trump. president trump stepped into it this week rallying around meadows and his push for documents. we don't have time to get into the side baseball fight over document production between the d.o.j. and house republicans. maybe we'll d that another time. carol, we're trying to understand that congress is really going after d.o.j. and it has implications for dispute attorney general rod rosen stein who oversees the mueller probe. carol: that's right and mar meadows has been the leader, the holder of this baton, ying why aren't you producing these documents that tell us more about the f.b.i. in particular the hillary
clinton probe which a lot of republicans are furious about. they don't feel it wenten deepl gh and don't feel the right criminal was charged. however, this is a fascinating moment, because republicans are also accused of using their coressional power improperly to shield the president and to n get informao sort of leak to the white house. erm not taking a position on what's happening h but it is a fascinating showdown. you've never seen anything le it. robert: rob rosenstein has been defiant. final thoughts, jul t about possible impeachment move against him. he went out in public and fought backs week. julie: it is extraordinary as carol said to see congress taking this kind of position between thear justice dent or the republicans in congress. teat prompted a pretty extraordinary snt by the dispute attorney general where he said we will not be extorted. people are attacking me publicly and privately and i think he is including the oresident because we've heard president trumpfter rosenstein somewhat in public but definitely behind closed doors.
he is constantly railing against him and pondering whether he should get rid of him. rosenstein basically said i'm going to do my job. we won't be forced into any result. so this may end up being a showdown but you do have justice department sor staking out its territory and saying come at us and it'll be interesting to see what the publicans end up doing. robert: showdown. it is certainly a showdown. and it wi be a showdown i'm sure next week. stay tuned for that. stay tuned for "in principle" on most pbs stations. late night comedian bill marr dishes up a mid-tm election warning for the democrats. >> um' wondering what do democratseed to hear most right now going into the mid terms? >> well, i think they need to hear be afraid. be very afraid. robert: that's coming up next on "in principle." check your local listings. our conversation continues online on the washington wee extra where we'll talk about another white house staffer who may be eyeing the exit soon. you never know. find that tonight at
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