tv MSNBC Live With Hallie Jackson MSNBC November 29, 2018 7:00am-8:00am PST
this is real life. this is stranger than fiction. i'm going to hand it off to my friend chris jansing. >> wow! it's a deluge of news. i am chris jansing. we have more on that bombshell news in the mueller investigation. right now in manhattan federal court, president trump's former personal attorney and self proclaimed fixer, michael cohen, entering a new plea deal with special counsel robert mueller. he is pleading guilty to lying to congress in closed door testimony about his contacts with the russians during the presidential campaign. remember, this is a man who was once -- who once said he would take a bullet for donald trump. and now he's given more than 70 hours of testimony to the mueller team. it would be tough to overstate the significance of cohen's cooperation because for more
than a decade, there was, perhaps, no man closer to donald trump and his businesses outside the family. this breaking news after another dizzying day of developments in the robert mueller investigation and as president trump just moments from now is going to be on his way to crucial meetings with world leaders at the g20 in argentina and is sure to put more scrutiny on one of those meetings in particular with russian president vladimir putin. joining me now, nbc news intelligence and national security reporter ken delaney. let's do a reset here. this was a surprise. none of us expected this, knew michael cohen was going to be in court. what did we learn? >> we had a little inkling that it was going to happen, chris, but it's a dramatic development. michael cohen already having pled guilty but had not agreed to cooperate, now is pleading guilty to lying to congress brought by the special counsel
and agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel. specifically, what he's pleading to lying about is this development to build a trump tower in moscow, which was hidden from the voters while donald trump was running for president. while the campaign was going on, michael cohen and a man named felix sader, a convicted fel n, were trying to build this tower and enlisting the help of the moscow government. and they said something flippant like trump can become president and putin will help us. trump said during the campaign he had no business investments or financial ties with russians. that appears to be false as it relates to this project. now michael cohen has pled guilty to lying to congress about the scope and nature of his involvement with this project. chris? >> joining us now by phone, tom winter. he was in the courtroom. what was it like in there? what did you see and hear? >> reporters who regularly cover
this courthouse in new york, southern district reporters we got a heads up at approximately 8:30 this morning that there would be a significant proceeding in usa versus john dou doe. we didn't even know it was going to be michael cohen. when we got in the courtroom we recognized a number of people from the special counsel's team, prosecutors. approximately 8:50, 9:00 a.m., mi michael cohen strolled into the courtroom and very clearly and very calmly stepped up and said that he made these false statements and pled to the single count of making false statements. he directly, right from the beginning, named the president who is identified as individual one when we get the paperwork. and that he pled guilty to lying to congress. the scene this summer, michael cohen was, admittedly, nervous. he talked about wanting to have a stiff drink at that point.
today, he was very calm, very clear, wanted to actually stand up and speak into the microphone. instead the judge said well, you know, given the acoustics, it would be better if you sit and explain what you did. he sat down and calmly tick ed off all the various things that he did that led to today's developments, his misstatements, why he did it. he said he did it to be consistent with the messaging and out of his loyalty to donald j. trump and he said that -- it was just a very calm kind of orderly proceeding for something that was frankly such a surprise. we really had no heads up notice of this at all and it was a surprise to really all of us ooh that cover court down here. >> this is fascinating. the idea that he is there, that he is calm. this is someone who, i think it's worth repeating, was donald trump's right-hand person. >> and he said that, chris.
>> he was his personal lawyer. i know he doesn't like the term but he was his fixer. and he made these false statements, correct me if i'm wrong, at a time when he was still on team trump. >> that's exactly right. he said prior to the 2016 election, i had been an attorney and a consultant for donald j. trump. so he was very specific as far as his responsibilities. he said once the president was elected, that at that point, those responsibilities changed. obviously, with the president being elected. but basically it was -- i think it was just, you know -- he was very clear, this is a guy i used to work for. this is the guy i used to be loyal to. and now that has changed and this is why i lied and this is what i did. >> it was just on monday, obviously, tom, that we learned that the agreement with paul manafort had fallen through and this was considered to be quite a blow to the mueller
investigation. give us some context now about what michael cohen will know, what he might bring to the mueller investigation and how you put it in this larger picture of what just happened with paul manafort. >> i think, you know, in our discussions, chris, you know, we've been very clear about what -- he said he made false statements. another interesting thing, exactly to the point, the question you just asked, is that michael cohen will get, as part of this, a letter from the southern district saying that he is cooperating in the ongoing prosecutorial efforts and now you have the president's personal attorney, the guy that knows the president's business organization inside and out cooperating with federal prosecutors in new york. he's cooperating with the special counsel's office, we believe -- although we haven't seen the cooperation part of this agreement yet, but it sure appears that that's the way that it's headed. and so now you've got somebody who is essentially the president's right-hand man or
one of his right-hand men who is now working for special counsel robert mueller, essentially. i think this is a very significant development. >> unbelievable stuff. i know you have other things you want to look at. get back to us when you have some new reporting, tom. unbleefbable stuff. we really appreciate it. >> we've got a whole team covering this major breaking news with us. joining me now former federal prosecutor, cynthia kirshner, also on set, investigative reporter anna schecter. i'm going to start with you, glenn. just put this into context for us. here is someone who was the president's, arguably, most loyal, certainly one of his most loyal defenders. as we have pointed out, had so much inside access for more than a decade. now he has been talking to robert mueller. what can you tell us? help us to understand what this could mean to the mueller investigation. >> yeah, chris. this is huge. there are a few takeaways that
sort of jump out to me immediately. one is that -- >> i wanted to ask winter -- sorry. >> sorry. somebody's mike was up. can you start that again? >> yeah. i think one of the important takeaways is that apparently cohen went in to testify before the committee while he was still in the mode of taking bullets for trump. he lied about donald trump's ongoing continued business relationships with russia. let's put that in context. if we think back to when the president stood up and said to the camera at a rally, russia, if you're listening, find the 30,000 missing e-mails. do we have to now conclude, he was talking directly to a business partner, somebody he aspired to do high-dollar value business with. that puts that statement, i think, in a whole different light. and the other takeaway, chris, is that when i saw reported
today that michael cohen spent 70 hours testifying about what he knows about the president, i've got it tell you, i've tried entire cases from start to finish in less than 70 hours. i can't imagine the amount of incriminating information he provided to the mueller investigation and to the grand jury. so as dramatic as this is, it might still be only the tip of the iceberg. >> yes. obviously not just the amount of information that he has provided but you also look psychologically at what the impact is on this case. robert mueller, very close shop. he's plodding ahead, as we believed from the beginning he would do. no leaks out of this investigation. you can't ignore the timing, after a couple of days after the paul manafort deal implodes you have michael cohen. >> right to trump's gut. that's what it is.
this is a huge development. one thing i really want to ask tom winter is did he allocute in court that the president directed him to lie? i think that's something we need to know as soon as we see the information and it comes out. and i would highlight what glenn just said about the amount of information. if he's pleading guilty to one count, that means there's a whole bunch of other counts out there that as part of his cooperation agreement he wasn't required to plead to. one count is the top of the iceberg. i would agree there is a whole lot below. the other thing that is interesting is that in the steele dossier, they said he was the back channel to putin and the entire russian government. and it's one more thing that's coming out from the steele dossier that's turning out to be true. >> so you have an obvious thing. this is not new to these kinds of cases, but glenn if you have somebody who has just gone into court and said i lied to congress, why should we believe anything else he says about
donald trump? because that's exactly what trump and his lawyers are going to say, that he is now a convicted liar. >> that's a great question, chris. and that's exactly what the president's defense team is going to jump on. here is how you refute that. think back to those search warrants that were executed on michael cohen's house, business and hotel room. think about the reporting that more than a million documents and other items of evidence were seized. you know what the prosecutors have been doing day in and day out with michael cohen? they've been going through every document, everything that they've gotten courtesy of a forensic search of his computers and they have been having him explain them all. why? because all of that is corroborating evidence to show that cohen was telling them the truth. i predict we'll hear the president's defense team say oh, michael cohen is lying. i will bet you that mueller has so much corroboration for what michael cohen just stood up in court and swore was true and
accurate that there is no way he's going to be shown to be a liar, even if he was a liar in the past. you know, bad guys lie and then prosecutors flip them, and they pressure them to tell the truth. and i think that's what we just saw happen. >> well, we're going to get into this. this has been one of the points that the president has been making just over the last 24 hours, including in tweets. he is saying that they are forcing people, mueller's team is forcing people to lie so that they'll flip, they'll flip because they want to get out of the trouble that they're in. i want to go back to cohen on capitol hill. this is back last year, 2017. what he just went into courtroom and said i lied when i testified before congressional investigators. this was his lawyer on capitol hill then. take a listen. >> mr. cohen appeared voluntarily for an interview in the senate select committee today.
that statement was factual. it was accurate. it was respectful and we stand behind that statement. >> they stood behind that statement until today in that manhattan courtroom. let's go to nbc news justice correspondent pete williams. what are you learning this morning? >> the significance of this is two-fold. first of all, let's be clear. this indictment was brought by robert mueller's prosecutor. so it's a sign that -- it means two thing. >> i'm going to interrupt you for a second, mark warner on capitol hill right now. >> remarkable that you had the president's personal lawyer still dealing on a trump tower project through the whole campaign and it appears even into 2017. >> this is based on a lie to your committee. can you kind of walk us through what he told you then versus what we think we know now? >> i'm not going to comment upon the commentary that this individual made before our committee. we've kept that confidential.
but, obviously, mr. cohen was one of the witnesses that we've always wanted to have come back. and that need goes up. >> reporter: did you refer his testimony to the special counsel? >> again, it's already in the public domain that referrals have been made from our committee to the special prosecutor but we're not going to talk about any individuals. >> reporter: did you still think -- does this make michael cohen a less reliable witness for bob mueller, the fact that he lied to your committee? >> well, there seems to be a trend here amongst so many of the president's closest allies, that they don't tell the truth. although, you also have a white house that seems on a daily basis not to have its facts straight. >> reporter: does this end your investigation at all? >> we still have a number of witnesses to see and we have a number of witnesses that are some of the key names, key individuals that we -- the
chairman and i are working through on how we get them to come back, because just as our investigation has to finish and we are the american public, as much of the truth as we've been able to discover, it also is just one more reinforcing indication why the mueller investigation has to be allowed to continue unimpeded and i just don't believe that the current acting attorney general, mr. whitaker has the temperament and also the bias to oversee that investigation. one of the things we don't know, for example, is we've not been able to hear back from the justice department whether whitaker has ever received an ethics review of whether he should recuse himself from that investigation. >> information learned from michael cohen, does that factor into the people that you will call? will you call some people again? >> again, i'm not going to get into the witnesses, of who we've called, who we continue to
intend to call. but as we continue to see this roll out of close trump allies plead guilty, almost always due to their trying to hide their ties with russia and russians, and the russians' attempt to infiltrate the trump campaign, i think there's more story to be told. >> reporter: if mueller knows or was able to prove that cohen lied to your committee, what does that tell you about how much more he knows or where that investigation is right now? >> again, i think it seems like it was ages ago. but it was only in august when mr. cohen decided to work with the special prosecutor. my understanding is some level of working together. and i think we've all felt that michael cohen has a lot of information that i hope he shares with the special prosecutor and one of the reasons why we think he needs to
come back and share it more with the senate intelligence committee. >> reporter: he made these false statements to be consistent with individual one's messaging, individual one presumably being the president. what does this tell you about the president? >> i've not read -- i just got the headlines from rachel about what he said, but let's face it, you've got all these close associates of the president, one after another, pleading guilty, often pleading guilty about their ties to russia and russians. and what are they covering up for? and we also have a white house that still seems just obsessed about this investigation. if anything the president has said is true, that there's no there there, why are all his closest associates being found guilty about lying about their ties of russia? >> reporter: in the context of paul manafort yesterday, the president is still talking about
leaving pardons on the table. he hasn't ruled a pardon out for manafort, hasn't been asked yet about cohen. what's your feeling that pardons are being discussed at the white house? >> that would be a complete abuse of power. it's never been used to protect a president and his family and, again, we've seen from this white house again and again disregard for rule of law. when we see that disregard for rule of law and if you were to go out and try to pardon some of these individuals that might potentially implicate him or his family again, congress would have to act. >> knowing what you -- >> thank you. >> senator did you all -- >> mark warner, vice chair of the senate intel community and garrett haake asking a lot of questions. we might have a chance to talk to him in a little bit. obviously a lot of interest in the fact that he has pled guilty, michael cohen has, to
lying to congress. i want to go back to pete williams. let's go back to the beginning of what you were saying, pete, because we interrupted you. >> sure. significant thing number one, it shows he is continuing to cooperate. i just got the letter, the plea deal from cohen to the government here. it's many pages long. i'm just trying to see if it says what he's -- it looks to me like it's the usual kind of thing that is -- sets forth all his rights but doesn't really tell us what he has agreed to plead to. it just says he is pleading to a charge of making a false statement to congress. it doesn't tell us what it is, the nature of what it is. but we know now from his appearance in congress that what he has basically said here is that when he testified to congress a year ago, the senate intelligence committee, he said that this project in moscow to
build a big trump development there, trump tower, which would include a hotel, office space, condominium, that kind of thing, which fell through -- he told congress that the work on it stopped before the presidential campaign got under way in earnest. and it was over by the time of the iowa caucuses. that's the statement that he now says is incorrect, that the work went on afterwards. the fact that he has made this statement suggests that mueller's team is aware of what the facts were and that they were able to confront cohen about it. the first thing is that it tells us how much he's cooperating with mueller's investigators and secondly, it's a sign that he's going to continue to cooperate in order to get -- now they've got additional leverage over him because he's already pled guilty to earlier charges in august. now they've got these additional charges. it's more leverage for him. if he wants to get a lesser sentence he will have to continue to cooperate. it basically points in two directions. it points backwards, telling us
he has been cooperating, points forwards in telling us that they've got leverage to secure his additional cooperation. what we don't know is whether his statement and what he has told the investigators for mueller about the business deal has anything to do with russian election meddling. you may remember that the president said he had nothing to do with russia. he said that during the campaign. does this put that statement in a different light given the fact that michael cohen, the president's very close fixer and personal lawyer at the time, was still engaged with russians and trying to get this real estate deal going, a deal that ultimately fizzled out? what does this have to do with russian election medd lichlt ng? we just don't know but it's a plus for the mueller team for getting additional information and cooperation. >> garrett haake is on capitol
hill. we just saw largely your interview with senator warner. obviously, we're still in a situation, even in january, where republicans control those senate committees. give us a sense of what impact you think these revelations -- and not just today, michael cohen -- but this ongoing over the last 24, 48 hours series of developments might mean, if anything, to what folks are thinking and do iing on capitol hill, including -- and i thought that was a critical question about what this means for mr. whitaker. >> reporter: yeah. i think that's right. i think this guilty plea today helps to give all these investigations on capitol hill, regardless of who is running them, a little more teeth. if you think you can lie to congress and get away with it, you're going to lie to congress. if you do lie to congress and you very well might get caught and face criminal penalty, that is a strong -- little bit of backbone for these investigative committees. you heard mark warner say this
is something where he didn't confirm specifically referring michael cohen's testimony to special counsel but did talk about the fact that they have referred some of the testimony that's come to the committee. they are working together. and the senate -- we should separate this out a little bit. the investigation into russian interference has been run in a much more bipartisan way, varsity investigation compared to what some have considered the junior varsity on the house side that has devolved almost entirely. but it's remained a bipartisan one. you'll continue to see the senate investigation go forward with a little more teeth and as to whitaker, this is a recurring theme on capitol hill. there's not a lot of confidence in the acting attorney general, including from republicans. i heard a lot of republicans say we need to get a permanent nominee into this job because they just don't feel like whitaker is the guy, that he's too wrapped up into the politics
of this issue and they want to see a permanent person in that seat. it is a lot of moving parts happening simultaneously. for these congressional committees that are doing their investigations, this is a good day. it confirms their relevancy and their ability to get answers and hold people to those answers even when, as is the case with michael cohen, this was a staff interview. no senators present, behind closed doors, not something where he was brought out on national television or brought out in public in a way that the world can sort of globally fact check in real time. so all of this work being done behind the scenes getting a big boost from this this morning, chris. >> all right. i'm just getting told in my ear that the president, who is obviously walking across the south lawn -- we knew this was going to happen because he's going to joint base andrews and heading to the g20. i'm sorry, you said we have hallie? oh, and so we have hallie
jackson. >> hi. >> who is actually -- normally you see in this hour. we're waiting to hear what the president says on the south lawn. obviously, you arrived ahead of him. >> yes. >> but give us some context to this. what we have been hearing from the president, he has been tweeting about this. he tweeted late last night. he tweeted this morning. and he charged that this is mccarthyism, what is going on with the mueller investigation. viciously telling witnesses to lie about the facts. >> reporter: it is extraordinary, chris. and the president has not had a reaction yet on twitter or in person. although we'll see him, as you mentioned, in a matter of minutes to the news breaking in the last 55 minutes or so. here is the deal. the president not only has been lashing out at the mueller investigation repeatedly. repeatedly again and again during both the campaign and
aft after, in his interview with lester holt, for example, as recently as this fall talking with reporters, insisted he had nothing to do with russia, no business dealings, no properties, no financial interest. that was the central point of his during the campaign when he came under fire for it during republican opponents in the primary and then hillary clinton in the general election and even now when reporters have been asking about him over the past two years. this cohen deal is significant and potentially points the finger at president trump. couple of things to note here, chr chris. we talk about the context piece of it. the president will be walking across the south lawn. he will be probably, if i had to bet, talking with reporters. we don't know that for sure. but, boy, if there's ever a moment the president would want to get his talking points out there, it would be now. then he hops on a roughly ten-hour flight to argentina. based on past precedent, the president is watching cable and reading clips and today everything is going to be about this. so, the president in the past has worked to essentially
minimize cohen's relationship to him, brushing off, as he did, paul manafort, somebody who was a side aide, who didn't have that much influence or importance in his life. that will be a difficult point for the president continue to make, given what cohen is now telling not just the special counsel but saying publicly in court. couple of other pieces here. remember what happens in roughly 48 hours from now when the president is at the g20. he will be meeting with vladimir putin. it all comes back to russia and president putin. putin has ties in russia with people interacting in the business world, real estate development world which undoubtedly would have crossed paths with cohen. i think the timing of this -- pete williams earlier on our air made this point. nothing wrong going to do business with somebody. that's not an illegal act. what donald trump did during the campaign was insist that was not happening. what donald trump did as president, chris, was also
insist that that never happened. so it becomes an issue now of michael cohen pitting his word against the president's. we have a lengthy list of questions to ask the president on this topic, chris, not even to mention the developments with paul manafort, former campaign chair who, until an hour ago, had been driving the headlines on this. there's always an opportunity for the president on air force one to go back to the press cabin and talk to reporters. we don't know if he will do that. he may. we'll find out soon and traditionally there's a press conference at times like these. it may be another opportunity for reporters to put these questions to donald trump. chris? >> we'll be getting back to hallie. as you were talking i was looking at my e-mails and one of our producers says again, indeed, the president has stopped and is taking questions from reporters on the south lawn. we do not have the ability -- >> i see that, chris. >> nobody has the ability to go live from there. as soon as we're able to do a turn, which is they take this,
they literally run it back in to the press room and then they feed it out live. as soon as we get that, we will have it for you. but meantime i want to go to ken delanian. ken, you have new reporting, i know, in real time, and i was just handed this court filing from the southern district. pete was trying to sort of skim through it and see what was in there. what have you been able to find out? >> in this court filing, chris, we learned new information about the trump tower moscow project and the interactions between michael cohen and the russian government and information that goes to the lies he allegedly told to the senate about this. our viewers may recall that it's been reported, and michael cohen acknowledged that he sent an e-mail asking for help with this trump tower moscow project to the press secretary and it was reported he sent it to the general e-mail mailbox and the kremlin said we never received it. if we did receive it, we didn't
respond. these court documents say that's false. in fact, michael cohen got a call from the president's office, from putin's office, his representatives saying sure, we would like to engage you on this trump tower moscow project. let's talk about it, and they had a conversation. when cohen was asked about this under oath before the senate he lied and said that never happened. the other thing he lied about was the timing, saying he ended all involvement in this project in january 2016. the court documents show that they were still working on it as of june 2016, chris. >> wow! that's a lot to take in. in terms of the overall picture, fair to say that what we are just learning here -- we certainly aren't learning everything that robert mueller knows by a far piece, but these are important developments. and they give us a good clue about where he is going with this. >> they are. now, they don't speak to anything to do with russian interference in the 2016 election, right? remember there's an allegation in the dossier that michael
cohen was involved in that. he has denied that and continues to deny that. but they suggest he lied about a very important matter involving an effort that was not disclosed to the voters to build a trump tower project in ms. cow and then he engaged the russian government about it and that they were willing to help donald trump run for president. that's huge, chris. >> i want to go back to hans nichols. we don't have that tape yet but you have information about what the president has to say as he heads to marine one. >> that's right, chris. reporters are tweeting about what the president is saying. he is changing his story on russia, at least as it relates to any business dealings he has. when i'm running for president, that doesn't mean i'm not allowed to do business. that is a direct contradiction from what he said during the campaign, where he said he seems to be suggesting that he had no business dealings with russia. after this cohen testimony and plea, the president's changing, apparently, his story. he is also calling michael
cohen, this is a weak person and not a very smart person. and he's suggesting that he's just trying to make a more advantageous deal with prosecutors. chris, we have the president. he's engaging. when we get more we'll come back to you. this is a president that clearly will diminish his former aide, someone who has with him through so many trials and tribulations and shifting his story, at least as it relates to his business dealings with russia. when you look at that cohen plea, he's saying it went on through june 2016. that doesn't get you to the crucial wikileaks time period we've been talking about in the october timeframe as it relates to manafort, corsi and, of course, roger stone. this suggests there may have been more contact and back and forth between the trump campaign and his business dealings and officials in russia. chris? >> i want to go to glenn kirshner. thank you for that. hans, get back to us and we will interrupt if you get to more of
what the president had to say. it's not unusual for this president to suddenly start talking badly about somebody he had good things to say about, once they turn on him. that's not a surprise. i want to know what you make of his statement just now on the south lawn that the fact that he's running for president doesn't mean i'm not allowed to do business. >> chris, that is an important and very damaging statement to the president. and here is why. i look at this through the lens of a former federal career prosecutor. the president told the american people all along, i was doing no business with russia. >> repeatedly, he said that. repeatedly. >> and now -- and now, when michael cohen calls him out and says that's a lie, the president -- we were just talking about this a minute ago, chris. the president doesn't say michael cohen is lying about that. the president said hey, i can do business while i'm a candidate. what does that tell us, chris?
the president knows that michael cohen just told the truth about what the president was up to. so the president had to shift ge gears, again expose himself as having lied to the american people previously when he said he did no business with russia and today he says, hey, i can do business as a candidate if i want. that's a huge admission by the president. >> i've asked you this question before, danny cevallos is with us, but i always wonder at times like this, his lawyers are sitting somewhere. they're hearing this. they're watching this. if this guy is your client and he has just said what the president has said, what goes through your mind? >> it's hard enough with a regular client to keep them off social media and not to say things in public. but when your every word as the president is on record and you're someone like the president, who has no real memory for the consistency of what he said, this is a nightmare for defense attorneys. and it's going to be a real
challenge for them to have to parse out these words as glenn brilliantly pointed out right now. him saying i'm allowed to do business, there's nothing wrong with me doing business. later on i'm sure he'll backpedal and frame that as i'm not saying that michael cohen was telling the truth. i'm saying i have a lot of business dealings. this is why he has been able to survive prior depositions in other cases, because he uses this noncommittal language. he didn't necessarily i now say that i had business in russia and michael cohen is telling the truth. instead he says something noncommittal like, hey, i'm a business guy. i'm allowed to do business. i'm the only person in america that i can in the violate this clause. so going forward, i suspect he will be able to backpedal, in his mind, to a point where this isn't exactly inconsistent.
even though as glenn points out it's about as close as you can get to inconsistent in a statement. >> you do wonder ana how now jerome corsi and how trump has a mutual defense agreement that we know his lawyers and the trump lawyers have been talking might fit into all of this. and you're the one who has been following this every single day and talked to corsi as well. >> those lawyers are sharing all this information. manafort's lawyers and trump's lawyers are sharing information. trump's lawyers want to know everything they possibly can about all these different people and what's going on in all of their cases to help them down the road. especially since they have a client who has lied so many times and it seems he always gets away with it. but maybe this michael cohen sort of revealing that the russia businesses going against what trump said repeatedly -- maybe at some point they will be held to account. jerome corsi, seems to me, he's
angling for a pardon even though he says he's not. >> we need to get back to the whole question of a pardon but i want to go back to hans nichols. apparently this was not a very brief session with the president. he had quite a few things to say? >> he talked about a potential government shutdown and he's threatening a shutdown if he doesn't get funding for his border wall. i can hear the rotors of air force one right now. looks like the president is up in the air. we should have that tape shortly. the president also threatening a government shutdown. all this before he heads down to argentina, where he has a jam packed schedule some 48 hours on the ground meeting with, among others, president vladimir putin. chris? >> the fact that we're hearing those rotors means it might be a fairly short time before we get this tape. immediately once they get it back to the press room and they're able to roll that, we will bring the president's comments to you. if i can, i'm going to go back to cynthia.
the whole idea of a pardon was brought up and buried in all of this is what might have otherwise been our lead today, and that is the president saying to the new york post, you know what? for paul manafort, i'm not going to rule out a pardon because we all were trying to figure out -- you're facing what is essentially a life sentence. you have a deal as a cooperating witness. why would you lie to robert mueller? >> right. well, there's a couple of reasons that we now know. first of all, just before we jump to that, i just want to say in reading this document, it's clear that cohen has briefed members of the trump family. so that may turn out to be one of the ripples of this information that we're getting on cohen today. what have the trump family members said to fbi agents and investigators? and will it affect those cases and how that ripple goes out? getting back to manafort he's
obviously a grifter who lies about everything and it's clear from the report he was lying about his financial deal. >> let me stop you there. there was new reporting in the wall street swrurnl todjournal >> right. >> we didn't know what he potentially lied about to cause robert mueller say this is null and void. it's about personal businesses in the ukraine, including the money he got and contacts with the former associate in the ukraine among other things so people understand what that new reporting is because there's so much of it. >> right. there's so much. you can't even go have a donut and there's breaking news. i do think that the lawyers who are participating in this double cross of mueller may have some serious liability and hope that their malpractice insurance is paid because they're about to have to get lawyers. he obviously was playing for the plea. he was willing to lie about
other stuff because that's all he does, but he's clearly playing for a plea with the president -- i mean pardon with the president. looks like the president may be dangling it, which would be obstruction of justice. add that to the list as a co-conspiratorer, obstruction of justice, campaign finance violations, criminal conspiracy to affeeffect the free and fair elections of the united states. just one more count. >> hallie, i hope you had a chance to follow what hans nichols' reporting is and you're probably getting it in your e-mails. >> yes. >> about what the president had to say. the background, based on what you know and the way the president operates. he finds out maybe half an hour, 40 minutes before he walks out to head to marine one this new development with -- i'm sorry?
oh, let's go to adam schiff on capitol hill. >> truthful in real time as they were pursuing this deal. what does it mean now about how much we can rely on what the president is saying about any continuing russian financial interests? this, i think, only underscores the importance of bringing back mr. cohen before our committee but also looking into this issue of whether the russians possess financial leverage over the president of the united states. very significant, obviously, in terms of the russian investigation and clearly indicates that the special counsel is getting meaningful cooperation from mr. cohen. >> what would you do to determine whether there was any financial leverage that the russians have over the president? >> we need to look into, among other things, credible allegations that the russians may have been laundering money
through the trump organization. that has been a constant concern of ours but an issue that the republicans were unwilling to look into. that is something that we expect to pursue. but i think michael cohen's guilty plea also underscores the importance of something else. that is we believe other witnesses were untruthful before our committee. we want to share those transcripts with mr. mueller. in this case, the special counsel only had the advantage of written testimony that the witness made public. we think that the special counsel ought to have the benefit of the transcripts not only of the mueller testimony but roger stone, who may have similarly attempted to mislead the committee. we would like to see those steps taken now. they shouldn't have to wait until january. our gop colleagues have voted to and committed to releasing these transcripts. we got to accelerate it particularly as it pertains to
some of the witnesses where we have profound concerns about truthfulness. >> that doesn't happen in december, though, will you do that in january? >> absolutely. >> money laundering essentially be the top priority as chairman of this committee? >> you know, there are a number of priorities and obviously we'll have to look at what work we were able to do and what we weren't. but money laundering issue is a significant one. there are investigative sources we were not able to fully exhaust and wikileaks we see more publicly about indicate that his testimony was far from truthful before our committee. >> the president, moments ago on the south lawn. >> the house, as i understand it, and the senate, the stateme statement -- [ no audio ]
he knew about it, was written about it in newspapers. it was a well-known project during the early part of '16 and i guess even before that. it lasted a short period of time. i didn't do the project. i decided not to do the project. so, i didn't do it. so, we're not talking about doing a project. we're talking about not doing a project. michael cohen, what he's doing, he was convicted, i guess -- you have to put it into legal terms, but he was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence on things totally unrelated to the trump organization, having to do with mortgages and having to do with cheating the irs, perhaps. a lot of different things. i don't know exactly. but he was convicted of various things unrelated to us. he was given a fairly long jail sentence and he's a weak person and by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he is a weak person and he's trying to get a reduced sentence.
so he's lying about a project that everybody knew about. we were very open with it. we were thinking about building a building. we had an option -- i don't know what you call t i decided ultimately not to do it. there would have been nothing wrong if i did do it. if i did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. that was my business. so he's lying very simply to get a reduced sentence. okay? [ no audio ] during the period -- [ no audio ] but when i run for president, that doesn't mean that i'm not allowed to do business. after i won, obviously, i don't do business from january 20th, but more importantly, which is the following year -- but i ran a business. in fact, i often joke about the fact that i was the only person
that campaigned and simultaneously ran a business but that was a project that we didn't do. i didn't do. that was a project that wasn't done for a lot of reasons. number one is that i was really -- not that i had to do it but i was focused on running for president. i wanted that to be my primary focus, not running or building a building. [ inaudible question ] >> this was a deal that didn't happen. that was no deal. if you look, this was an option. i guess -- i don't know if i want to be very specific. but to my way of thinking, it was an option that i decided not to do. so we didn't. so if you look, we really didn't have -- excuse me. excuse me. excuse me. this was an option in a form but here it is very simple, we had a
position to possibly do a deal, to build a building of some kind in moscow. i decided not to do it. the primary reason -- there could have been other reasons, but the primary reason, it was very simple. i was focused on running for president. there would be nothing wrong if i did do it. i was running my business while i was campaigning. there was a good chance that i wouldn't have won, in which case i would have gotten back into the business. and why should i lose lots of opportunities? so here is the story. go back and look at the paper that michael cohen wrote before he testified in the house and/or senate. it talked about his position. what he's trying to do, because he's a weak person and not a very smart person. what he's trying to do is end -- and it's very simple. he has got himself a big prison sentence. he's trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a
story. now here is the thing. even if he was right, it doesn't matter because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted during the campaign. i was running my business, a lot of different things during the campaign. so very simply, michael cohen is lying and he's trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me. now let me get a step further. i think you should go back to -- i think it was january. it was just reported very well by katherine harris, a terrific reporter on fox, she talks about a letter he signed. i don't even remember it. it specifically talks about this deal. this deal was a very public deal. everybody knows about this deal. i wasn't trying to hide anything. okay. [ inaudible question ] >> i cannot understand you. >> are you supporting troops in
hamas in pakistan, when you see putin, what will you talk about the troops? >> we have a lot of things to talk about. >> on the deal with china, what do you have to say to president xi? >> we're very close on something with china. i don't know that i want to do it. what we have now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the united states in the form of tariffs or taxes. i really don't know. but i will tell you that i think china wants to make a deal. i'm open to making a deal but frankly i like the deal we have right now. >> mr. president, are you going to with mr. putin and what -- >> i will probably meet with mr. putin. we thought about terminating that meeting but i think it's a good time to have the meeting. i'm getting a full report on plane with what happened with respect to that and that will
determine whether i will be meeting. [ inaudible question ] >> a full report on tuesday, is that report -- >> we have a couple of reports. we're getting a finalized report. are you talking about on the russian situation with the ship? >> yes. >> and the ukraine?ukraine? we're getting a finalized report. i'm going to have it on the plane sometime today. >> why are you meeting with the crown prince? >> it just wasn't set up. >> denial of killing khashoggi or having knowledge -- >> it only wasn't set up. i would have met with him, but we didn't set that one up. i'm meeting with president xi, which is a very important meeting having to do with trade, and as you know, i may do about three or four meetings. we just didn't have time. >> mr. president. [ inaudible ] >> i'm going to bring it up, yes. >> i don't hear you. you see that? you have a helicopter. the question was asked yesterday about pardons with respect to
paul manafort who it's very sad what's happened to paul the way he's being treated. i've never seen anybody treat sod poed so poorly, but the question was asked to me by the new york post and i said no i have not offered any pardons and i think they asked would you. i said i'm not taking anything off the table. that was done as a question from the" new york post." >> if cohen is such a bum, why did you hire him, have him on your payroll for 12 years, and have him do so much of your dirty work? >> because a long time ago he did me a favor. a long time ago he did me a favor. no, not at all. not at all i'm not worried at all about him. you just take a look at his written document. go back, take a look at what he
wrote in i think january he has a written statement, and that's the fact. france, we don't want european union to be like -- what do you want to tell them? >> i don't know. you know, you can't with the helicopt helicopter. >> a possible sit-down if we don't get the wall money. we're in negotiations. we don't get border security, possible shutdown. >> and so that's the president speaking extensively about this breaking news that michael cohen has pled guilty to lying to congress, but he has spent dozens of hours and is going to continue to cooperate with the
robert mueller investigation. the president now, that was on tape, the president now is boarding air force one. he's on his way to buenos aires argentina where the g20 is taking place. that's where we find hallie jackson, and just to summarize, and i know you heard it, the president calling michael cohen weak, not very smart. he says he's a liar, but even if he is telling the truth, there's nothing wrong with what he did. he said i was focused on running for president. there would be nothing wrong if i did do it. the mueller investigative team may see things differently. your take on what you just heard from the president? >> reporter: well, wow, nine minutes as the president is getting now -- excuse me, i'm getting some mixed -- the president in those nine minutes laid the groundwork for what we will be discussing for the rest of the day, as he is on air force one getting ready to head to air force one to head here to buenos aires. the president is essentially
saying cohen is a liar, but even if he's not it doesn't matter because i didn't do anything wrong. as we've talked about, chris, it is not illegal of course for the president to be looking at doing business elsewhere, but here's the thing. during the president's campaign when donald trump was running for president as i know you remember, and as i remember from being there, the president repeatedly insisted a couple of things, number one that he had no financial interests in russia. he said this, in fact, in july of 2016 so right around the time of the republican national convention when he was at a press conference with reporters and was asked specifically about it. why does july 2016 matter? remember, these court documents now show that in june of 2016 cohen was as late as then engaging in conversations about this project for the trump organization. number two, the president also repeatedly said that he would disassociate himself with his business. he said it there in the white house south lawn interaction that you just heard, that he wanted to focus instead on running for president.
what is clear from the court documents that cohen has put his name to is that cohen was actively engaging in not just continuing to work on the president's properties and build his brand out but was doing so potentially in conjunction with the campaign and as my colleague peter alexander has pulled from these court documents, with the president's family apparently. these documents show that cohen reached out to several members of donald trump's family to talk with them about this possibility, and in fact, at one point over the course of the early summer days there was working or taking steps to work with the campaign to see if there was some way to have donald trump visit russia. cohen himself potentially to visit russia as well. we know that donald trump didn't visit russia, michael cohen didn't visit russia according to these documents either so those trips never came to fruition. this does cast light on this really critical time, this summer period. the republican establishment has coalesced around donald trump
now. that was not the case when what we are talking about was going down. remember, there was that never trump movement that had risen its head. it's why paul manafort was brought on to the campaign to try to wrangle delegates because the trump campaign was so concerned there would be a revolt against donald trump. this is that three-month time period april, may, june, july of the summer of the campaign, so it was a crucial time, and now we're learning more about what really went down. now, the president is saying, hey, michael cohen's a big liar. interesting that last question, then why'd you hire him and have him on board for so long? >> that was a great question. >> it was a good -- and i think it was phrased like why'd you hire him, if he's such a bum, why'd you bring him on, and the president said he did me a favor a long time ago. the president may want to work to minimize cohen's role, but he is somebody who was representing himself as a key ally and partner when it came to the trump organization to these officials including, by the way, demeet ree pes cough who we believe is here at the g20 with
vladimir putin. >> and we're going to have new emphasis as if there wasn't enough emphasis already of this meeting between the president and vladimir putin, but i also want to go to ari melber who joins us from washington, d.c. she flagged hallie just did, this critical part of what we've seen in these documents. it's from the cohen court document noting that trump family members were briefed by cohen about the moscow project. i just want to read it and have you put it into legal context for us. the moscow project was discus d multiple times within the company and did not end in january 2016. instead as late as approximately june 2016 cohen and individual 2 discussed efforts to obtain russian governmental approval. cohen discussed the status and progress of the moscow project with individual 1, president trump on more than the three occasions cohen claimed to the committee, and he briefed family
members of individual 1 within the company about the project. your take on what we're learning out of court today and what we just heard from the president? >> this filing is a significant advancement of the russian collusion portion of this investigation. this filing as you and our analysts and report ers have writing and court documents under the penalty of perjury and alleging as you state that donald trump's family members were in the loop, knowledgeable about this high level outreach, which closes the circle of business links that is to say donald trump trying to profit off outreach to the russian government along with the trump organization, along with the campaign. there's also a reference, chris, to mr. cohen basically holding out the prospect of advancing this well after, quote, the individual 1 donald trump becomes the nominee after the convention. so you see another break there in the story line, not only
significant that he is admitting to lying to congress about this, but the information revealing that well beyond some early business brainstorming, the idea was you would be the republican nominee. then you're in a one on one race to be president of the united states, and you're still trying to use these high level contacts in russia to enrich yourself in the company. all of that very significant because while donald trump just said today on the white house lawn moments ago as you played, there's nothing wrong with that. if there's nothing wrong with that, why did donald trump mislead the public about it at the time? why did michael cohen mislead investigative bodies about it to the tune of a felony. all of those are important questions. and of course this comes on a week where we're learning that paul manafort was busted allegedly for lying, that roger stone's story has disintegrated with lies to congress as well. the last point i'll make is this also shows how mueller has worked expertly on a parallel track with congress. he's now using the misstatements
people have made to congress to buttress the russian side of the collusion investigation. >> thank you for that. we thank you for watching this hour of msnbc live throughout, i mean, from the very beginning craig melvin who's about to pick up our coverage from the day that robert mueller was appointed thrappoin appointed, this story has never been far from the headlines. among these many days, this is huge. >> this is an infection pointing deep. we're going to continue our coverage. good morning, craig melvin, msnbc headquarters here in new york city. that breaking news on the mueller investigation is where we start. shortly before president trump left for his meeting with world leaders in argentina, last hour just a few moments ago he called his one-time attorney and fixer michael cohen a quote, weak person, who is lying. cohen made a surprise appearance in a federal courtroom in manhattan this morning. he named the president. he named president trump in a shocking new plea deal involving trump tower moscow. for the first time cohen has