tv MSNBC Live With Katy Tur MSNBC August 21, 2018 11:00am-12:01pm PDT
hour on msnbc live. my friend steve kornacki takes over. busy day for you, lots to watch out for. >> things seem to be heating up as we speak. thank you for that. it's 2:00 a.m. -- 2:00 p.m. see so much happening i can't get the time straight. 11:00 a.m. on the west coast. at this hour we are following two big developments in both the paul manafort case and with former trump lawyer michael cohen. in alexandria, virginia, there we are awaiting a potential verdict in the case of the united states versus paul manafort. just hours ago the jury submitted a note to the judge asking what if we can't come to a consensus on one count. the judge said that if the jury indicated it is deadlocked he might consider a partial verdict. in new york nbc was the first to report that the man who once claimed he would take a bullet for donald trump is now discussing a guilty plea with federal prosecutors in manhattan in connection with tax fraud and banking related matters, this
according to sources familiar with the matter. the president's former fixer, michael cohen, is considering a guilty plea with federal prosecutors. the plea deal which could come as early today as related to tax fraud and banking related matters according to sources familiar with the matter. the investigation into cohen is being led by prosecutors in new york but his cooperation could extend to other federal investigations. cohen has previously denied any wrongdoing. msnbc legal analyst danny savalas is live outside the courthouse in manhattan. and reporter tom winter is here. nbc news white house correspondent kristen welker along with former deputy assistant attorney general tom dupree. tom, let me start with you. you've been all over this story. a possible guilty plea coming from michael cohen. guilty to what charges? >> it looks like it's going to center at least in part on bank and tax fraud charges. as we've been reporting since
the day the search warrant was executed on michael cohen back in april over four months ago, his tax business and some of his business entities, there were some fraud allegations that federal prosecutors were looking at at that time. so we believe that if there is a plea deal that comes together today, that it's going to involve in part those charges. it may involve some other charges. we're still in the process of reporting that out and figuring that out. it is our understanding that there is not an agreement that's been signed at this point. as any federal prosecutor will tell you and as they all remind me, until they have that paperwork in hand, signed, delivered to the court and they know that they have that agreement, it's not a done deal. at this point we're waiting to hear about that but i think when we first went on the air with this today, my colleagues working with us on the reporting, we at that point felt like it's something that could come together today. it's a deal that could be put together today. i think that's solidifying a little bit more at this point.
again, it's not a done deal but it looks like we're headed towards a plea agreement involving the president's personal attorney. >> a couple things to be clear about because there's so many legal aspects, so many stories that are swirling. what we're talking about here, number one, when we talk about michael cohen and trump, we talk about his lawyer/client relationship, the fixer he's known as, and that tape that he's put out there about donald trump and the payment of the woman who claimed she had slept with him, this does not involve that though you're saying, at least right now. >> our understanding is that at least the central part of these charges would involve that tax medallion business. we know the so-called taxi king has pled guilty to state charges and is somebody who's been cooperating. he plays a role a little bit into this. a taxing medallion in the city of new york, in order to drive a yellow cab you have to have a medallion. it used to be valued at approximately $1 million. then whoever is driving that cab would pay back to the medallion
owner, hey, here's some money for that, this is for me to lease that medallion and use it and drive people around. over the past several years because the introductions of uber, lyft and these various ride share services, there's a lot more competition and a lot more options out there for people to get around new york city. so the value of those medallions has gone down. so it's conceivable that there might be -- and if you look at the "new york times" reporting from the weekend which was very strong discussing about did he try to get loans for medallions and were there misrepresentations as part of those loans. that's what "the new york times" reported. i think that's kind of around those type of issues is what we're looking at here. whether or not it extends beyond that to some sort of a campaign or election issue, whether or not it's some way tied to the payments involving karen mcdougal and stormy daniels, those are things we're going to have to wait and see should we get that today. >> let's go to danny savalas who
is outside the courthouse in manhattan. danny, tell us what you're picking up around there. >> reporter: there's a lot of buzz around the courthouse here. we're standing right in front of the entry here by 500 pearl street, the courthouse here. of course the u.s. attorney's office is just down maybe several hundred yards that way and to the south of me. we have seen nothing yet. we are awaiting some activity, any activity that might signal that possibly michael cohen has reached the end of his negotiations if he is negotiating with the southern district of new york to possibly enter into a plea. if he does enter into a plea, will he be offering substantial assistance to prosecutors. >> all right, and tom dupree, let me bring you in. again, that question that danny posed at the end there, the possible assistance to prosecutors, if there is a plea here from michael cohen, if he
does go that route as we're seeing is possible, if it's about taxing medallions at least to start with and people are out there saying this is a guy who was very close to president trump, there's that issue of the hush money payment, the potential hush money payment. there's the issue of who knows what else. how would -- how could it potentially get from pleading guilty to something involving taxing medallions to something more related to the orbit of donald trump? >> i think the way they would do it, they would have him plea to certain charges but in exchange they would get his cooperation as to other issues that may or may not be directedly connectdio the things to which he's pleading guilty. what if anything does he have on trump. the fact that cohen plead guilty is not a surprise. he has been signaling in the most public of ways for weeks that this might be coming when he's talking about placing his family first. i think the big reveal will be what, if anything, he has to give bob mueller and the special
counsel. >> how much specificity would we get here in seeing a plea deal? would there be things that are sort of kept from public view or would it be pretty clear what the guts are here? >> i don't think -- the first filing i don't think will reveal everything. in other words, i think the first filing, announcing the plea deal and that sort of thing is probably not going to spell out in great detail exactly what information cohen has to provide. we may have to await several weeks, several months down the road to find out the full scope of his cooperation and the full breadth of his information. >> kristen welker, i think we have you standing by as well. the other aspect of this, we set this up at the top, michael cohen so close to donald trump for so long, that famous line where he said he would take a bullet for donald trump. obviously in the last few weeks, yes, it sounds like he's been telegraphing this possible moment but still in the grander sort of sweep of things, michael cohen, this would be if this were to happen, this would be
quite a shift in their relationship. any word on how the white house is reacting to this possibility? >> we know that they're watching this very closely, steve. we've watched the president's rhetoric as it relates to michael cohen really evolve over time. remember when his offices were first raided by the fbi and president trump referred to him as a good man, called it a disgrace that his offices were raided. and then in the wake of revelations that michael cohen secretly recorded a conversation with him, president trump began to lash out saying what kind of a lawyer would tape a client, so sad. and that's when we really started to see his rhetoric escalate. the president's been asked if he thinks whether michael cohen will flip on him. the last time he was asked he said, no, i'm not worried because i did nothing wrong. bottom line though, this was the president's former fixer, personal attorney. a lot of people think that he knows just about everything there is to know when it comes to then candidate trump and some
of those questions swirling around his candidacy and that the prospect of him cooperating with federal investigators could be a potential problem for the president. he's going to be watching this very closely. now, the president departs for west virginia a little later on today, steve. we're hoping that the rain holds off so we can ask him about all of these developments because undoubtedly he has hi es eyes o this. >> we've been alluding to that tape of september 2016, donald trump and michael cohen says discussing this payment, this hush money payment. let's play that audio. >> when it comes time for the financing which will be -- >> what financing? >> we'll have to pay -- >> pay cash? >> no, no, no. i got -- no, no, no. >> danny, the potential would be
what? >> reporter: that is the most likely result but it isn't so much what's spoken about in the tape. even if there was a failure to report or an in-kind contribution that violated the law, it's what else may be out there. is this the tip of the iceberg. the rules of ethics in new york allow an attorney to tape surreptitiously a client but he's not supposed to make a practice of it. the ultimate question that the prosecutors surely have the answer to is did michael cohen make a practice of taping the president. if he did, there's a strong possibility that the prosecutors had that information and possibly had it for a long time. so then the next issue to be resolved is what is left for michael cohen to offer prosecutors so that prosecutors would give him that gem, the 5k1 -- >> danny, i'm cutting you off because tom winter has some news to report.
>> we're getting official notification right now for myself and from my colleague, at 4:00 p.m. proceeding of interest in the united states versus john doe, john doe believed to be the president's personal attorney, michael cohen, has been scheduled before judge pauley 500 pearl street in new york. after that proceeding deputy u.s. attorney robert could you zamy will make remarks at the entrance of the courthouse. at this point we believe to be a plea hearing involving the president's personal attorney michael cohen scheduled for 4:00 p.m. today at federal court in manhattan. that's the latest that we have. we don't have an understanding or official court paperwork at this point that would guide us in any way as to what these charges he will agree to. but i have now got an official word it is michael cohen at 4:00 p.m. >> i want to make sure we're clear. the court is announcing there's a proceeding scheduled -- >> we've gotten the notice from the united states attorney's office saying there's a hearing of interest at 4:00 p.m. today in u.s. versus john doe.
i've been told john doe is michael cohen. >> you've confirmed that joe doe is michael cohen. >> that's right. and robert could you zamy who has been leading this prosecution because the u.s. attorney, jeff berman, was recused from this case originally, he's going to make comments outside of court. so at this point we have a plea agreement involving michael cohen but the exact terms of this and what he's pleaing to, we don't have that. >> all the recording of discussions of a plea deal here and now the scheduling of this hearing, they're not saying in their plea deal but you have confirmed this would be for the purposes -- >> this is for the purpose of a plea agreement, that's correct. at that time or shortly the plea agreement will become unsealed in federal court here in manhattan and at that point we'll be able to look and see what this is all about. but we have it and we know that we're going to have a court proceeding at 4:00 today. >> tom dupree, you've been through working on that side of
the law many plea deals. take us through what would be going right now between now and 4:00 when this hearing takes place and what will happen in that hearing. >> right now it sounds like they've got everything in place. normally you would finalize the agreement, get signatures and that sort of thing, although i have to imagine they probably have all of that locked down. otherwise they wouldn't have made this announcement. i think between now and 4:00 the u.s. attorney's office and look the fact that it's the acting u.s. attorney from new york personally making this announcement does tell you that this is something big. he wouldn't do it personally otherwise. i think they're probably now going to figure out exactly how they're going to present it to the public, what they're going to say in the press conference and how they're going to manage the public rollout of what does appear to be a plea bargain. >> what will it look like in court? michael cohen will be there himself, personally stand up and attest that he committed this crime and that crime? >> you know, it can go that way. typically at some point they will have the defend come in and kind of walk through those very
questions. it's hard to know just from what we've heard today whether that is the purpose of this afternoon's hearing. it may be more of a for mallty in which the u.s. attorney says they plan to tender a plea agreement and set an actual date in the future. i think we will know by 4:00 today what the terms of the deal are in particular, whether or not he's gotten fairly lenient treatment for whatever charges he's pleading guilty to. >> danny, in terms of what would come next and i guess we will find out a lot more after this proceeding when we have somebody come out and tell us exactly what was agreed to there, what was part of this plea deal. but in terms of those bigger questions you were raising about beyond the tape, is there information, material that he might -- cohen might be able to cooperate with authorities on. this is the southern district of not, this is not robert mueller, the special counsel who has been investigating here. is there any potential for those two forces to intersect at all?
>> reporter: of course. they've intersected. they always intersect. there's no barrier and if there is any plea deal or cooperation agreement, part and parcel of that or implied in that is that the southern district of new york can share information with the mueller team and any other district u.s. attorney's office that it sees fit. that's pretty standard. what will happen today and what will tell us a lot is what exactly michael cohen, if he plead, what crime he pleads to. if it is something that's not as serious as some other potential crimes that he's been anticipated to be charged with, that will tell us a lot about any deal he's entered into but don't expect any sentencing any time soon. it's standard procedure to push off sentencing way off in the distance while the prosecutors build their case against the other big fish and determine how much assistance the cooperating witness can provide. if that's what michael cohen's
doing, he can expect to be cooperating and providing what's called substantial assistance in order to secure that precious 5k1 motion, that motion that the government will make if and only if cohen has cooperated enough to their satisfaction that it warrants a motion and cohen can get that precious level reduction at sentencing. it can make the difference of decades when it comes down to that final sentencing range. >> tom winter, i want to be clear on your understanding right now of this. pleading guilty, is there a cooperation component to this? what do we know about that? >> you're asking all the right questions to which we have no answers at this point. typically what we'll see in a situation like this is they'll make the announcement that there's going to be -- if they've already been indicted they'll make an announcement of a plea hearing. at that point the plea agreement would be announced and we would get details as to all the things that danny was just ticking off for us there which is essentially, okay, what are the
offenses that this person has agreed to plead guilty to, is there any sort of a cooperation agreement involved, what would the potential sentencing look like. we'll get that all in court paperwork. we don't have that yet because our understanding is that court paperwork has not been unsealed. we just know that we have this proceeding, this hearing at 4:00 p.m. that's going to be held at federal court inside i believe the courtroom where danny savalas is standing outside of. so all the things that we might normally have answers for we're doing this in real time. typically we get all the paperwork at once because these things are packaged and ready to go but this is a pretty fluid and dynamic environment where they were close to a deal, they were talking it through trying to put it all together and now we know that we're going to at least have this hearing. once we get the documents and once they're unsealed with the court, then we'll be able to kind of lay this all out there. >> quickly, i want to make sure we're clear on one thing here. is it possible that he goes into this hearing today and he just
plead guilty and that's it. >> absolutely. >> so this cooperation thing we don't know about yet. >> the cooperation is still a big question mark at this point. we're going to have to wait to get the court paperwork to understand where this is going. >> joining me on the phone is michael avenatti, the attorney for stormy daniels. obviously we've been talking about this tape. michael avenatti, i want to get your reaction to the news you're hearing with the rest of us. >> well, i'm not surprised by the news. the only thing i'm surprised about is that it took this long. i think for the first time on msnbc back in april i stated that ultimately he was going to be charged and roll over on the president and i'm going to maintain that position. i think the likelihood -- well, i know the likelihood of him providing information damaging about the president is 100%. >> how do you know that the likelihood is 100%? >> because i've been active in connection with the case on behalf of my client. i've been active in
communicating with people in law enforcement. there's no question that he's going to be providing and has provided information that's damaging to the president. >> information of what nature? how specific? what would you know there in terms of what the information would be? >> information relating to financial dealings that had gone on between him and the president during the 10 to 12-year time period for which michael cohen served as the president's personal counsel. of all the people that the president should have showed loyalty to beyond vladimir putin, michael cohen should have been second on the list. some would have argued that he should have been first on the list. you don't put a guy that has your inner most secrets on an island and treat him the way that donald trump has treated michael cohen and ultimately it's going to come back and bite him. >> i'm trying to make sense here. are you saying that the information would be related to this hush money payment, the potential there for a campaign finance violation? are you saying that information
will be related to something else? >> no, it's broader than that but includes it. >> tom winter -- sorry, this is a very fluid situation. we have tom winter on set reporting news and i thought he might have something to break there. i apologize for that. again, we should say we don't know yet as tom winter was just reporting, we don't know what will happen when michael cohen walks into this courthouse today if there will be an agreement here that extends to cooperation, if theis will simpy be a guilty plea. we don't know the charges he'll be pleading to. michael avenatti, you're saying you expect him to be doing a lot more here. what do you expect the next step then would be after today? >> well, let me be clear about something and i think you need to make it clear to your viewers that regardless of whether the documentation today formally includes a cooperation agreement, that does not mean that there's not cooperation that's ongoing, nor does it mean that there will not be significant cooperation going
forward. i want to be really clear about that. but there is no doubt in my mind, zero doubt in my mind that michael cohen is cooperating and is going to further cooperate in connection with information that's going to be damaging to this president. there's no doubt in my mind. >> let me bring -- thing we still have tom dupree with us. tom, what do you make of that, this possibility of cooperation from michael cohen that would extend beyond what we've talked about in terms of hush money payments? what do you make of that? how do you interpret what we're seeing here? >> i don't always agree with michael but i do in this instance. i think he's absolutely right. it would shock me if cohen is not 100% cooperating with the u.s. attorney's office at this point given the nature of the charges he's facing, given what he has said publicly about protecting his family and prioritizing his family. that's code for saying i am ready to cooperate. i find it very doubtful, almost zero percent, that the united states attorney's office for the southern district of new york
would have entered this plea bargain with cohen absent meaningful cooperation across the board. >> kristen welker, do you have something to report? >> just a little reminder of one of the data points to all of this, steve, which is that back in july we reported that cohen was prepared to share the information that he had with investigators and that includes the fact that he is alleging privately that he's aware that candidate trump was informed about that meeting that donald trump jr. had that with kremlin-lynched attornkremlin kremlin-linked attorney. of course the white house has pushed back and said that that is not the case. again, that's where things stood last month. now, will he still be prepared to tell investigators that? we don't know as tom has been
reporting very precisely. it remains to be seen whether he's going to cooperate with investigators as a part of this plea deal. but the bottom line that is a critical data point as we continue to track this and in the wake of that revelation, remember that's when we saw rudy giuliani trying to undercut the credibility of michael cohen to try to paint him as someone whose word cannot be trusted and again pointing to the fact that he taped the president without his knowledge. so you've seen this sort of hit on his credibility as this has moved forward. that's one of the things that we will be trying to drill down on as we continue to track these developments today. >> i think we can put some video up for folks to look at. michael cohen entering the courthouse there just a few moments ago. this is in new york city, lower manhattan. michael cohen entering the federal courthouse there. >> actually, that's 26 federal pla
plaza, the entrance to the federal appeals. he can surrender to federal law enforcement officials. that picture right there that we're seeing from cnbc, that's michael cohen entering 26 federal plaza which is the location of the new york fbi field office. from there, steve, he's going to be in position to -- he will actually i believe be fingerprinted and that will start the criminal process for him from the standpoint of actually at that point entering into this plea agreement we've been talking about. that's essentially where it's at and that's where he is. the courthouse from there, it is likely that they will drive him to the courthouse and then from there he'll make his appearance. he will announce his plea and then i expect that we will see him this afternoon. there's really no underground entrance or exit that he will go through at either one of the
courthouses. we should see him again this afternoon but i would be surprised if the fbi didn't actually drive him directly over to the courthouse once he's gone through. again, this video from cnbc is michael cohen approaching 26 federal plaza in the field office for the new york fbi where he'll be booked. >> this is the same thing we saw with rick gates, same thing we saw with michael flynn for example. so this is that same process. in those particular cases we saw them go to the washington field office for the fbi. in this days we're seeing michael cohen at the new york field office because that's where he's being charged. >> very good information, thank you. the topic here, obviously the relationship between michael cohen and donald trump, the speculation now that begins furiously about what this means in terms of potential cooperation here involving donald trump. donald trump was asked recently, i think it was back earlier this summer, about the potential for michael cohen to one day flip on him and this is how the
president responded at that point. >> are you worried michael cohen might flip? >> look, i did nothing wrong. you have to understand, this stuff would have come out a long time ago. i did nothing wrong. >> is michael cohen still your friend? >> i haven't spoken to michael in a long time. >> is he still your lawyer? >> no, he's not my lawyer but -- >> personal lawyer, not anymore? >> i always liked michael and he's a good person. >> are you going to -- >> do you mind if i talk? >> i just want to know if you're worried he's going to cooperate with federal investigators. >> no, because i did nothing wrong. >> got it. >> again, that was donald trump reacting earlier this summer to the possibility of michael cohen turning on him. michael avenatti, i think we still have you with us. you were saying a few minutes ago you felt the president didn't treat -- didn't necessarily think things through given how he treated michael cohen. is there something the president could or should have been doing this summer that would have -- short of a pardon, that would
have changed this potential outcome or was the pardon the only recourse he had at that point? >> well, i think perhaps at that point it was the only resource. the seeds for this were sewed long ago. frankly, when you trust somebody with your inner most secrets that are this damaging, you need to 25take care of him. he should have taken michael cohen to washington, shown him some degree of loyalty. the problem here is that the president's conduct is about to catch up to him. this is a man that has shown zero loyalty to people with the exception of vladimir putin over the years and he's demanded absolute loyalty from everyone else in his life. and now what you're seeing is you're seeing that catch up to him. again, there's zero doubt in my mind, zero doubt, that michael cohen is cooperating, is going to further cooperate with prosecutors against the
president. there's zero doubt that there's going to be significant damaging information provided and i'll also note the following. our civil case has been stayed pending the outcome of michael cohen's criminal matter. i would expect that stay to be lifted on september 10th at the court hearing in los angeles and this likely means we're going to get an expedited deposition under oath of the president of the united states as to these issues. it's going to be interesting to see if he's going to sit for a deposition opposite of me and what he's going to answer in response to my questions or whether he is going to plead the fifth amendment. wouldn't that be a moment in american history. >> how long do you think that will take to play out? >> we have a pending motion to that deposition that we filed months ago. again, i think the stay is going to be lifted on september 10th and i would hope to be able to depose the president by the 1st of the year under oath and we can ask him questions about what he knew and when he knew it and what he did to cover it up.
>> michael avenatti on the phone there, we're going to pause for one second because jonathan deas has been reported this story. jonathan, bring us up to speed on what you know at this moment. >> the very latest, again, this hearing set to take place at 4:00. two sources familiar with the expected plea deal say that the charges will include tax fraud, bank fraud and a campaign finance violation-related cha e charge. we'll hear more about the campaign finance-related violation if that part of this deal goes forward. >> understanding that this is if and we don't know yet but do you
have any sense and is your reporting telling you at all if this campaign finance question involves that payment to karen mcdougal that's discussed on the tape? >> that's what's been reported for weeks and weeks so you have to think that but i don't want to go out on that limb until i see the paperwork. sometimes there are developments that prosecutors and the fbi that we were not aware of that will come out of left field. that's where it appears to be going. >> to reinforce jonathan's point, i was able to speak with someone who said we're not going to get the court paperwork until he makes his appearance at 4:00. that's unusual. normally we would have that in advance and we would be able to read out to you exactly what it is that he's pleading to. so this is still a pretty fluid and dynamic environment. however, we see michael cohen here at 26 federal plaza, the new york fbi field office, presumably surrendering himself.
this is going forward and we're still hunting around for the specifics. >> we have daniel goldman, a former u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york joining us as well. this was your jurisdiction and that piece of news we just got here from jonathan, how do you interpret what you're hearing now? a campaign finance violation may apparently be a part of this plea deal. >> right. i was just on with jonathan over on nbc and he wasn't sure at that point about the campaign finance deal. this makes more sense to me because if michael cohen is cooperating in the southern district of new york, he would have to plead guilty to every crime that he committed. it is possible that we know for example that he was under investigation for bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance fraud or at least that was reported. so the fact that he is pleading guilty to that is consistent with him pleading guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement. as tom winter correctly pointed
out and jonathan is right to be a little circumspect, by the time that michael cohen walks in to the fbi at 26 federal plaza, this deal is locked and loaded. it is now time for him to go in front of the judge. he is going to have to admit to the crimes that he committed and he may be asked whether he committed them with anyone else which will be something very interesting to listen to. but this is very consistent with michael cohen and his television lawyer, lanny davis, being very quiet over the past three weeks or so which is consistent with michael cohen meeting quite frequently my guess is with the prosecutors, giving them all the information that he has about the crimes he committed and those crimes that he committed with others and perhaps even other crimes that he wasn't involved in but he knows about. he's provided all of that information to the prosecutors. the prosecutors have vetted that information. they've corroborated it with all of their own evidence and they would have to make sure that they believe michael cohen and
that he is truthful and that they can corroborate what he said and then go forward with a cooperation agreement. >> take us through, again, this question of if this starts to get into areas that might overlap with the jurisdiction of robert mueller. how would that be sorted out? >> i think it would be a function of robert mueller's team would fly to new york and meet with michael cohen. i think he would be sharing information with any prosecutor's office in the country that may have information, but obviously most relevantly with the special counsel's office. i would fully expect that his cooperation is complete. in the southern district we used to tell people who wanted to cooperate you cannot pick and choose who you cooperate against. if you are going to cooperate, you need to be all in and you need to tell us everything you
know about everyone. that has included in the past people's relatives. donald trump is certainly not michael cohen's relative and given his public statements over the past couple months it is not a surprise that he would be meeting with the government and providing them information relative to their investigations including perhaps about donald trump, the trump organization or any of the trump children in charge of that trump organization. >> again, a little less than 90 minutes from now, 4:00 p.m. eastern time, michael cohen we are expecting will be entering that guilty plea in federal court in new york. you see the tape that's been looping on your screen there. that's apparently michael cohen turning himself in essentially for processing a few minutes ago not too far from the courthouse. that's also in new york city. i believe we still have kristen welker with us. i want to ask you again, the reporting we just heard from jonathan that this plea agreement that will be announced
apparently at 4:00 apparently will include a campaign finance -- admission to a campaign finance violation. that brings this beyond taxing medallions and into the realm of the presidential campaign. what has the white house been saying on that front? >> reporter: it's just a stunning development and of course as jonathan was just reporting, we will be listening very closely if the judge does, in fact, ask if anyone else was engaged in that. of course, the white house has pushed back vigorously against any notion that the president may have violated campaign finance laws, but the story has really changed when it comes to those payments, those potential hush money payments including the one with stormy daniels, initially for example sarah sanders saying the president wasn't aware at all, the president also touting that line but then of course revelations that that wasn't the case. so that had been increasingly
problematic for this president and for this white house. just to take a broader step back at what this white house is facing right now, it's not just michael cohen. they're also watching very closely the paul manafort trial. this is an administration that spent last week dealing with the revelations in omarosa manigault-newman's book, one of president trump's former aides. this white house has been dealing with controversy aft aftafte after controversy. this one relates to the president's former fixer and personal attorney, arguably the one that may hit closest to home because that is the person that's the closest to mr. trump before he got into office. the white house watching this closely and again, steve, we're hoping to see the president today. it is pouring rain here right now in washington d.c. so it's not clear that we will be able to get questions to him when he departs for west virginia later today. hopefully that is our expectation. >> we still have jonathan with
us on the set. i wish you could see this at home. jonathan and tom have been reporting this story as they sit here on their phones. jonathan, let me ask you the bigger picture in terms of the road of how it came to today, to michael cohen and this plea deal he's about to enter at 4:00. we've been hearing rumblings and comments that certainty suggested he was looking in this direction. how long did it take to get here, when did it intensify? what do you know about the road from there to here? >> it began with the search of his home that caught everyone by surprise here in new york when the fbi went in and seized those documents, those tapes and that's where the road began. then over the course of time it has evolved from michael cohen will take a bullet for the president, never turn on him, to michael cohen is going to do what's best for my family to sort of radio silence for the past couple weeks as he's been engaged in plea talks with the southern district of new york of exactly what he's going to
apparently plead guilty to at 4:00. $20 million in potential bank fraud crimes are part of this case, so you have that. it will be interesting to hear in court today the campaign finance issue. as we see this tape of him surrendering, that's the fbi offices in lower manhattan. he'll go in there and be fingerprinted, be photographed like any other defendant and be driven out of the garage by fbi and irs agents who led the investigation into this case, over to federal court where he'll be escorted by u.s. marshals and presented before judge pauley in the federal courthouse for his presentment and apparent plea agreement. everyone is stressing that just because they have an agreement verbally, nothing is official, nothing is done until 4:00 when he says the words, i plead
guilty, yes your honor in court and that's expected to happen at 4:00 this afternoon. >> daniel, again on that question of the campaign finance violation, obviously the speculation is it involves hush money payments, the tape with the discussion of karen mcdougal back in 2016. the idea of a campaign finance violation, when we talk in the news a lot we generally think of it in other contexts at least as something where the penalty is more of a slap on the wrist, a fine, that sort of thing. in this context here, the seriousness of a campaign finance violation? >> well, it is serious. it would not carry nearly the sentencing hit that the bank fraud in particular might carry and the tax fraud as well. it's still a lighter sentence than those crimes. but it would probably involve jail time in and of itself when
lumped in with bank fraud and tax fraud. we're looking at a number of years in jail that michael cohen would be facing. we're sitting here about an hour and a half before the guilty plea, steve, when we will know the answer whether or not this is a cooperation agreement or a plea agreement. just to explain it a little bit, because i think people just assume that all plea agreements are cooperation agreements. that is not at all the case. most plea agreements are simply a defendant going to court and admitting to the crimes. he gets a little bit of a sentencing break for doing that and not putting the government to the test of a trial. a cooperation agreement is a different thing which requires many meetings between the doeft and t -- defendant and the prosecution and evaluating that individual to determine whether they want to offer him a cooperation agreement. as part of the cooperation agreement process, generally people have to admit to every crime they committed which is
more than just simply what the government has investigated. now, someone -- and i don't want to speculate but someone like michael cohen who over the past couple of months we've learned about some of his at least shady dealings as it relates to pay to play and some of his consulting agreements even if those aren't criminal, it would be a bit of a surprise if the only crimes michael cohen ever committed in his life happened to be the ones under which he was investigated by the u.s. attorney's office. so there's a lot of moving parts that as i sit here trying to analyze it lead me to think that part of it favors a cooperation agreement, part of it favors a straight plea agreement. we will find out at 4:00. it would be a surprise if he just pled guilty and was not cooperating given that that's the real way that he can reduce his sentence. >> jonathan, do you have something to add? >> "the new york times" just posted a story saying there's no
cooperation agreement as part of this plea deal. will is an experienced law enforcement reporter in new york. he reported that it's a straight guilty plea as was being explained. >> kristen welker at the white house, i understand you have some news as well. >> a source familiar with the matter tells me that we can expect some type of response likely from the president's legal team after these court proceedings have taken place. so everyone here at the white house, the president's legal team watching this with intense interest along with the rest of us to determine exactly what the details are. again, this is a president who went from staunchly defending michael cohen, someone who was his former fixer and personal attorney to attacking him, attacking his creditability. rudy giuliani has been attacking his credibility as well, so will that continue after today's court proceedings? we'll have to wait and see but again, that's when we're expecting our first response
from the president's inner si circle. >> everybody is going to be watching closely. there's the bigger picture drama of michael cohen going from saying he would take a bullet for president trump to this day here. we've heard very different things over the last couple of months when you compare it to where we are right now. we've been seeing on the left side of your screen scenes from a few minutes ago, michael cohen turning himself in essentially for processing in lower manhattan here in new york city. 4:00 that plea hearing is scheduled. we expect that he will be pleading guilty to several crimes. keeping an eye on the situation there. obviously this is a very fluid situation right now. we've got jonathan and tom reporting this story as we speak. we are going to squeeze a quick break in here but obviously this story will continue just on the other side of it so please stay with us. card card i get unlimited 1.5% cash back. it's so simple, i don't even have to think about it.
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cohen. we are on verdict watch. potentially the jury reached a decision. they awaited instructions for the judge who told them to go back and keep deliberating and who also suggested that he might be willing to live with a partial verdict. we have with us right now ken delaney standing by with daniel goldman outside that courthouse in northern virginia. i saw the skies opened up a while ago. it looks dryer right now. ken, the possibility of a verdict there, is there a chance we're going to get that this afternoon? >> you summed it up well, steve. we think we may well, only because the note that the jury sent to the judge earlier today suggested that they had reached consensus on some or even most of the counts.
i can read it to you because the text is important. the jury said, your honor, if we cannot come to a consensus on a single count, how should we fill in the jury verdict form for that count and what does that mean for the final verdict. that suggests they're having trouble with one, maybe a handful of accounts and the judge sent them back to deliberate. this is a massive set of charges, 300 exhibits, 22 witnesses. if they plowed their way through most of it, it's reasonable to suggest they may have a verdict today and if they can't reach a consensus on this count, the judge may accept a partial verdict. >> are you picking up any reaction, at least initially from the prosecutors from the defense side how they're interpreting this? >> the defense wanted the judge to hand the jury a verdict form that included a third option for mistri mistrial. that was never going to happen. that would be a defense lawyer's dream. we tried to get reaction from them as they were exiting the courthouse and manafort's lead
lawyer, we asked if that meant a deadlock on a single count. he said they didn't know and they're waiting as we are. >> daniel goldman, in terms of how this typically works in a case, how often do you see a jury like this? how often does the judge answer like this? what does that typically result in? any light you can shed on that? >> this is very typical, steve. quite often, particularly in cases with this many charges, the jury will come back and say that they're deadlocked on all or some of the charges and the judge, at a certain point, and this was a little bit early because the jury had not mentioned it before they came with the note, the judge may send them back and say, keep trying or like he did today and read what is commonly referred to as an alan charge, which is a fairly lengthy speech that he gives the jury to tell them to reconsider the evidence, try to
work together and no other jury is going to be better than you, no other presentation of the evidence is going to be better than you and he did tell them that this case is going to have to be disposed of somehow and there's no better jury or presentation of the evidence. so, do your best to reach a verdict? but, my guess is that they're back in there. they've been working for almost three hours now after the judge gave that instruction. and i agree with ken. i do think by the end of the day, we are likely to learn more about what the jury has decided, including, quite possibly, a par partial verdict. the judge said he would take a partial verdict. >> something appears to be imminent down there in northern virginia. we thought earlier this afternoon that would be the entire focus of the legal drama this afternoon. it is now part of the focus, daniel goldman and ken delaney. thank you for joining us from there. the other part of the drama involves developments in new
york city, about an hour and eight minutes from now, we're expecting that michael cohen is entering a guilty plea. he has turned himself in. this was just a few minutes ago, you see him right there in the act of turning himself in for processing there before this guilty plea, which is expected to be entered at 4:00 in federal court in lower manhattan. that has taken center stage. joining us jeff mason and back with us former deputy assistant general tom dupree. we had our investigative reporter who has been all over this just before we went to that break, he was talking about the possibility at least, we will see, we don't have any hard reporting on this right now, but the possibility that what michael cohen enters there at 4:00 will just be a guilty plea. he will plead guilty to a set of crimes and misdeeds. he will not be the possibility that there will be no cooperation agreement announced.
what do you make of that possibility? >> it's intriguing from my perspective. it is all to be determined. but i think it would not surprise me if this was a bare bones proceeding. he comes in and says he's changing his plea to guilty and the judge accepts the plea and schedule a further hearing at some point out. this is the sort of thing where this can be done a whole bunch of different ways and depend in large part on how forthcoming the prosecutors want to be at this point. what we don't learn today i suspect we will learn in the next week or two once documents are filed and we can flush out the scope and breath of this agreement. >> we can also put up for you michael avena ttti taking to twitter. he said rudy giuliani, buckle up butter cup, you and your client completely misplayed this. what do you make of this, the
speculation was cohen angling for some sort of a pardon and would trump come through with that? avenatti was making the argument that trump should have just taken, should have taken cohen to washington with him. you know, set him up real good there so this would never cross his mind. was there anything trump could have done or should have been doing here? >> that's the interesting thing. michael avenatti loves to give trump back his tweets and fire right back at him. i'm perplexed as to what michael thinks the president should have done. i think when cohen started sending signals that he was ready to cooperate and prioritize his family and i think many people interpreted that as basically a request for the president to preemptively pardon him. however f t however, if the president would have done that that would have unleashed a political firestorm. the ca i'm not sure what the president or legal team could have done to prevent this day from happening
short of pardoning cohen, which is, i said, would have caused all sorts of fireworks. >> we have jeff mason with us, as well. again, white house correspondent with righters and he actually interviewed the president last night, so, jeff, again, this, the reporting here that a campaign finance violation would be part of this plea agreement that's announced about an hour from now. a lot of speculation here, but the possibility that donald trump and the trump campaign could become part of this plea deal story at 4:00. >> yeah. it will be very interesting to see what the deal is and what sort of implications it has for the president. obviously, i'm sure that people here in the white house are covering it closely or watching it closely. we didn't know this yesterday during our interview with the president or we, obviously, would have asked him about it. he did speak to us yesterday about what he calls the witch-hunt, the mueller investigation. and gave his another sort of reiteration of his skepticism and frustration with that probe.
but this will no doubt be a very big development in that whole process. >> and in terms of the mood you've been picking up there, whether it was last night or just in the last couple weeks as this possibility of michael cohen, you know, pleading and then, again, this other open issue there of whether any cooperation, this idea that he would flip on trump. what has the mood been around the white house about that possibility? >> i think sometimes you can deduce a little bit about the president's mood by watching his twitter account and what he chooses to pick on the scapegoat be it the press or somebody else. in our interview yesterday it started out we weren't quite sure if he was upset about something but he warmed up and it ended up being a long interview and a good discussion. but in terms of the overall, it's hard not to imagine that this is something that is weighing on him and weighing on his staff. >> joining me now by phone we
have daniel, senior counsel for the democracy program and an expert in the area of campaign finance, campaign finance law. dani daniel, good person to talk to now with the news being reported by nbc that part of this plea deal at 4:00 will include a campaign finance violation. i was talking to one of our guests earlier. i am used in the political context of a campaign finance violation and used to viewing it as something, the action they take amounts to a slap on the wrist. how do you look at it in this context? >> well, it's a pleasure to be joining you. and you're right. normally your garden variety campaign finance violation did not amount to much. what's different here is, of course, that if the campaign finance violation is knowing and willful, that means you intentionally violated the law and get a lot more serious. that's a criminal violation.
so, you know, if michael cohen pleads that he knowingly advanced payment to stormy daniels, you know, with an interest towards tinfluencing te presidential election, that is a crime. that is far beyond the garden variety thing you see at other campaign finance agencies. >> what kind of penalty and what kind of punishment would come with a crime like that? >> you know, it can range from a large fine to prison. those are all on the table when you've got a situation like that. it is, obviously, the prosecutor in the discussion can speak more to that. but it really depends. but it is something that you can go to prison for. >> in terms of what we will hear in court today, again, our reporting that he'll be pleading guilty with campaign finance and how much more do you think we'll expect to learn about that. would he be asked to answer
about others in the campaign. others who might have been involved and others that may have had knowledge. that sort of thing. >> that is a great question. any time you make a campaign contribution, that contribution also needs to be accepted. and it is actually legally possible to make an illegal campaign contribution. but the person you're contributing to didn't accept it. on the other hand, if as, you know, has been reported, this was a payment that was discussed with someone in the trump campaign and was coordinated with them. then it would be effectively a contribution they also accepted. and that could potentially implicate other folks. it really depends on the sort of facts that come out. but right now, there's no guarantee that it will impact anyone other than michael cohen. >> daniel, a campaign finance expert. thank you for taking a few minutes.
jeff mason from rigeuters, as well. again a very busy hour here and it is only going to get busier the rest of this afternoon about an hour from now we expect that guilty plea in federal court from michael cohen. i am going to wrap things up here for my part. don't worry, ali velshi is standing by. >> what an interesting point you just discussed. if michael cohen did something that constitutes a campaign violation act, interesting to find out whether the person to who benefited from that donald trump, is deemed to have accepted that. and, of course, i think that's what prosecutors are going to be very interested in hearing if there is a campaign violation aspect to the charges that michael cohen is going to be pleading to or we expect he will at 4:00. thank you for your coverage of this. good afternoon, everybody. i'm ali velshi. one of the president's closest aides. somebody who has worked closely with him for years has made a deal with federal prosecutors.