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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 7, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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yesterday. it was chronicled by jim mcgraph who wrote this. final notification: timber wolf's detail concluded at 0600 with no incidents to report at the george bush presidential library, college station, texas. god speed former president george h.w. bush. you will be missed by all of us. and that is our broadcast on this friday night for this eventful week. thank you so much for being with us. have a good weekend and good night from nbc headquarters here in new york. happy friday. happy to have you with us. this at least is not one of those fridays where it's a big news day as a surprise. this is a friday when we knew we were going to get a bunch of important information today on the ongoing russia investigation that has become the defining crisis of this presidency. we knew this was going to be a big day, and the news gods did not disappoint.
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so let's just jump right in. there are two major figures in the president's orbit whose legal worries got much worse today for themselves and whose relationship to the overall scandal involving the president somewhat changed today. one of them is the president's campaign chair, paul manafort. and one of them is the president's long-time personal lawyer who served for a decade as a senior executive at the president's real estate business. now heading into today, we had expected that the filing from prosecutors in the manafort case might be the one that would advance our understanding of the scandal and the status of the investigation the most. it would help us understand any further potential prosecutions, for example, more than anything else we've seen thus far. we do now have the manafort filing as promised. the special counsel in that filing lays out for the benefit of the judge and in the manafort case what mueller and his team say are the lies of paul manafort since he's been supposedly cooperating with prosecutors after he plead guilty and entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors back
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in september. so we do have that filing, as expected. it's interesting. it does raise some interesting questions. especially in terms of manafort's contacts with the trump administration well after the campaign was over, well after the time when manafort was supposedly no longer associated with the president or his administration at all. but prosecutors filed a separate document with the judge in manafort's case today, which we don't get to see. in addition to this one that we did get to see, mueller's office today filed a sealed document with the judge, and that contains all of the information they say that involves ongoing investigations or any uncharged individuals. again, that bit is filed under seal today, and it may just be that the juciest stuff is in that sealed filing. we won't flow until all that stuff in that document somewhere down the line is unsealed. so it's interesting. we were really, really -- we had a lot of anticipation in terms of the manafort filing today.
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all in all, though, honestly, the core filings where we learned the most today was not the filing related to manafort. it was the stuff related to michael cohen. and so i want to just -- i want to just go through these. i'm not a lawyer. statistically speaking, probably neither are you, but these filings are written pretty much in laymen's language. i think they're written in laymen's language enough that we can just go through them here. they came out late tonight. you may not have had a chance to read them yet. i think we can basically get all the news value out of them basically from the texts of these documents. so we're going to go through each of these document. s in turn and then we're going bring on some expert advice from lawyers and reporters who have been involved in the heart of this story and in the jurisdictions in question here. well, let's start first with that manafort filing. we'll talk about the questions it raises. then we're going to talk about the two filings we got about michael cohen today. the two filings from michael cohen today, first one is from the prosecutors in the southern district of new york. that one is fascinating today because it reads basically like
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an epic patriotic poem about michael cohen's crimes. the federal prosecutors in new york are apparently quite upset with michael cohen. they basically want the book thrown at him. that's the filing today, that sdny filing that has led to all the headlines you might have seen about how michael cohen is now facing potentially substantial prison time. so there is the manafort filing and the sdny filing on michael cohen. but then there is the second filing on michael cohen. and for my money, that's the document from which we got the most new information and the most intriguing information. so that's the third document we're going to talk about tonight. and that's a relatively short document, a seven-page-long filing from mueller's office about michael cohen explaining why his cooperation has been so valuable to them. that document i think you'll see has the most intriguing stuff in it. it's also the document that probably offers the most bad news for the president, for the white house, for anybody who may have been involved in anything russia related during the
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campaign who also had a link to the trump organization, the president's business. the mueller filing in the cohen case tonight is the one i think poses the biggest apparent risks, not just for the president, but even potentially for members of his family, who of course were working at the trump organization, and also we know dealing with some russia-related matters during the campaign. so that's the basic map of what we've just received tonight from these core filings. that's the basic map of where we are going. we're going to do the manafort filing and then we're going to do sdny and then the special counsel's filing. the special counsel's filing is the one i think kind of blows up tonight. all right. let's start with manafort. manafort filing is ten pages, and this is basically a notice to the judge from mueller's office explaining why mueller's prosecutors determined that paul manafort was lying to them, that he is in breach of his plea agreement because he hasn't been telling them the truth. according to mueller's prosecutors in this filing today, they only need to
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demonstrate to the judge that they have a good faith belief that paul manafort has been lying to them, but mueller's prosecutors offer to the judge that if she would like them to go beyond that, if she would squoo is like them to actually prove all these alleged lies by manafort, they are prepared to do so in a hearing at the judge's discretion at which they would provide documentary evidence and witness testimony. now, what we learned in this manafort filing tonight factually is that manafort and his legal team had three meetings with the special counsel's office and the fbi before manafort ever plead guilty and entered into his plea agreement in september. so three meetings before he plead and started his agreement. then after he plead and entered into that agreement, he had nine additional meetings with the special counsel's office and the fbi. so a dozen meetings all together. manafort we learned tonight has also testified twice to a grand jury that's been convened in this matter, once at the end of
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october and once in the beginning of november. but apparently, according to this document tonight, less than a week after manafort's second round before the grand jury, the prosecutors from the special counsel's office confronted manafort and his defense team with their belief that he had been telling porky pies, that he had been lying, and they were not happy about it. quoting from tonight's filing, quote, manafort met with the special counsel's office and the fbi on 12 occasions. three of these meetings occurred prior to the defendant entering into his plea agreement. manafort was represented by defense counsel at every meeting with the government. manafort also was called to testify before the grand jury on two occasions, october 26th and november 2nd, 2018. on november 8th, 2018, the government informed defense counsel that it believed manafort had lied in multiple ways and on multiple occasions. special counsel's office offered to provide further details and requested the defense to make any responsive submissions
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orally and in writing before the government made any final determination. the defense then met or spoke with the government on several occasions where the government enumerated the basis for its views. and again, the basis, the views here are that hey, your client's a liar and he keeps telling us lies. this is a problem. so the special counsel's office says they meet with manafort's defense counsel a whole bunch of times, basically confronting them and trying to work this out so manafort can stop lying, so he can clean up what he's been lying to them about. but according to prosecutors, quote, in none of the communications with manafort's counsel was any factual or legal argument made as to why the government's assessment of manafort's credibility was erroneous or made without good faith. okay. so what this is this is mueller's office, the special counsel's office saying paul manafort keeps lying to us. we've got him before the grand jury. we can't have a lying witness before the grand jury. we confronted him. we confronted his defense counsel with the fact that he's
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been lying. they were not able to talk us out of that determination or fix it in any way, so now, judge, we are ready to tell you, we are ready to prove it in court if you need us to, we are ready to maintain to you that he has been lying to us about five different things. and this is the part of this ten-page filing about manafort where you end up seeing some of the redactions here. it starts to look like this. but even with the redactions, you can still get the basics of this sort of five-part list of things that they say they're lying about. mueller's office says manafort lied to them about his interactions with konstantin kilimnik. remember that name? kilimnik was sort of manafort's right-hand man in his business in ukraine, and prosecutors have already said in other court filings that they believe con konstantin kilimnik has been lying. lying about the fact and frequency of what appear to be his interaction was kilimnik. but again, there are a whole bunch of redactions there. then there is an intriguing subheading in this part of the
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filing where mueller's office also said manafort lied about his knowledge of what appears to be somebody else meeting with kilimnik. see that line there next to the bullet point? redacted, redacted, recontacted the, meeting with kilimnik that name is blacked out. there is open source reporting that has sort of followed the saga of paul manafort and konstantin kilimnik and how manafort's business entanglements and russian entanglements followed him into his involvement in the trump campaign. because of that open source reporting, it seems possible that one of the things that could be behind the redactions here could be related to manafort's knowledge of a meeting that allegedly happened during the presidential campaign between manafort's own right-hand man kilimnik and this russian oligarch named oleg deripaska. russian oligarch to whom manafort reportedly owed money, and to whom manafort reportedly offered private briefings about the campaign while he was still trump's campaign chair. but, again, that is my
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inference. this section of the filing is all blacked out. we will take some expert advice later on this hour as to whether or not it is a reasonable inference i am making here as to whether something having to do with oleg deripaska and meeting with konstantin kilimnik might be one of the things that paul manafort is allegedly lying here to prosecutors. it goes on lied to them about kilimnik in a witness tampering scheme to which manafort has already plead guilty. they say he lied to them about a $125,000 payment that kilimnik made last year. manafort, according to prosecutors, misled them to what that payment was for and who it ultimately went to, and then there is a couple more things they said he lied to them about. and one of them is almost a little bit funny. one of them is not funny and is probably bad news for the white house. the funny one is this. it's listed as point number four in the filing. quote, another doj investigation.
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quote, during meetings with the government, prior to pleading guilty and signing his plea agreement, manafort provided information about -- redacted thing, black box. it was information, quote, that was pertinent to an investigation in another district. however, after signing the plea agreement, manafort told the government, including department of justice personnel handling this investigation, he told them a different and exculpatory version of the events. he then subsequently changed that version too in order to more closely conform to his earlier statements after his own defense counsel in the government's presence showed manafort notes that had been taken of his earlier proffer session. so, i mean, it's not like a whoopie cushion or anything, but the reason i say that is somewhat comical is that what mueller's prosecutors are saying here is that paul manafort was so comfortable lying to prosecutors so much of the time on so many things that ultimately he couldn't keep his lies straight.
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and we don't know what this other doj investigation was involving another district, but he apparently told prosecutors one story about this matter under justice department investigation. he told them a story that was bullpucky, and then he came back to them and they asked him about it again, and he told them a different story about that matter, which may also have been bullpucky, and then he tried to change it back to original bullpucky story number one, because he hadn't been able to keep straight the first set of lies in what that had been. so this is the part of manafort's filing, which suggests that, yeah, prosecutors maybe had good reason to feel not at all comfortable with him providing anything that was supposed to be factual information about anyone. he is lying about his lying. but the final point in this manafort filing today is perhaps more serious for people other than paul manafort. and that's because mueller's team says manafort has been lying to them about his
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communications with people in the trump administration. quote, the evidence demonstrates that manafort lied about his contacts. what the prosecutors are saying here is that manafort tried to downplay the fact of his ongoing communications with people in the trump administration. in at least one instance, he tried to secretly communicate with a member of the administration by authorizing, quote, a person to speak to an administration official on his behalf. they say he otherwise just didn't 'fess up to additional contacts he had with trump administration officials. he denied those contacts to prosecutors when they asked him about it. he said that he didn't have those communications, but he did. so, again, this was -- including a senior administration official as described by manafort's prosecutors. so, again, this document was filed with the judge in manafort's case today, and it's interesting. it raises all sorts of interesting questions. compared with the other stuff that we got today, i think it doesn't actually tell us all
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that much if we're grading on a curve. again, the most juicy stuff from the manafort case right now may be not public facing right now. manafort's team said they simply submitted a motion to submit filing under appeal the factual material that relates to pending investigations or uncharged individuals. that juicy stuff was filed simply under seal, and we don't know when that stuff will be unsealed publicly to the public, if ever. based on what we can see in terms of this manafort stuff today, it does leave was a few new open questions about the paul manafort case. are we going get to see that other material that was filed under seal? are we going to get to see the stuff that's behind the redactions in this fighting, right? when you've got pages like this, you want to know if those bars are ever going to be unbarred, if you're ever going to get to see what those words are behind those lines. we now know from the filing
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today that manafort met a dozen times with the special counsel's office and the fbi and other prosecutors. should we expect that any information he gave them will even be considered useful for other cases, right? other cases related to this scandal, other defendants who may be facing prosecution other than himself. i mean, the prosecutor here is in mueller's office are describing the president's campaign chair paul manafort as an almost out-of-control liar. they're saying he can't even keep his own lies straight when he's trying to lie. if he's that much of a liar and that bad of a liar, does that mean his information is going to be considered useless in any case where he might otherwise use it? and what can we discern about the importance of the konstantin kilimnik stuff here? kilimnik is already charged, but he is believed to be in moscow and therefore out of reach of the justice department. this kilimnik stuff that is in here and the possibility that him meeting with maybe this russian oligarch might have been
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one of the things that manafort was lying about, what's the significance of that? what's significance of the fact that according to prosecutors, manafort has been concealing contacts with people in the trump administration, including according to the filing, quote, a senior administration official with whom manafort was in contact with up through february of 2018. so there are a bunch of interesting questions raised by the manafort filing. i mean, obviously he appears to be quite cooked when it comes to his own prosecution. we don't know if the judge is going to order that there should be a hearing in his case so the prosecutors can actually prove all of this stuff in court rather than just asserting it in this filing. prosecutors do appear to feel very confident that they could prove any and all of this stuff that the judge might want the hear about. so we'll get expert advice on this coming up. that's the manafort filing. now let's talk what we got today in the michael cohen case. and the michael cohen case today we got two very different documents, both of which i find fascinating. if i could have stopped time today and just spent all day
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reading and rereading and looking up information and talking to experts in conjunction with each line of these filings, i would have stopped time and done that. but as i mentioned, these two documents we got on cohen today, they come from two very different places and they have two sets of very different implications. let's talk first what we got from federal prosecutors in the southern district of new york. remember the context here. michael cohen initially plead guilty in august. you remember the drama of that day, right? michael cohen in manhattan, turns up in federal court in new york. he pleads guilty to eight felonies, six of which relate to tax evasion in his own finances and business stuff, but two of them, two of the eight felonies to which he plead that day were campaign finance felonies. and he stood up in court and what they call his allocution in court i have been directed to commit those felonies by then candidate donald trump. he pleads guilty.
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he implicates the president that day in court, and then he soon indicated through his lawyers that he was more than happy to start cooperating with prosecutors in whatever they wanted to talk to him about. but, you know, when he stood up that day in court handy plead guilty and he implicated the president, he did not actually sign a cooperation agreement in conjunction with that guilty plea. so that happened back in august. that was him dealing with federal prosecutors from the southern district of new york, august. then separate matter, last week, michael cohen, surprise, turns up in federal court again in new york. but this time he pleads guilty to just one single felony. he pleads guilty to lying to congress about the trump tower moscow project, which he and the president's business and the president were pursuing during trump's presidential campaign, even though they were lying about it publicly and denying they had any such pending deals. now when cohen stood up in court last week about that to plead
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guilty to a felony related to trump tower moscow and lying to congress about it, that was something he did -- that was not something he did with the same prosecutors from august, okay. when cohen stood up last week in federal court in new york, the prosecutors handling him in that case were actually robert mueller's prosecutors. it was the special counsel's office. and whether or not that distinction seemed super important to you at the time, that he was dealing with one group of federal prosecutors here and then mueller's office the second time he plead guilty, whether or not we groaked that that was actually an can't distinction, tonight we know why that is super important, because that's why we got these two different sets of documents, because those two different sets of prosecutors it turns out want two very different sets of things from michael cohen. and apparently what we've learned tonight is that he has been really helpful to mueller's prosecutors, but he hasn't been so much help to feel the other guys. so michael cohen is due to be sentenced by the judge who is
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hearing his case, all the felonies to which he has plead guilty have been combined under the heading of united states of america versus michael cohen. it's the same judge whose handling the sentencing for all of the felonies he has plead to combined. he is due to be sentenced next week. at midnight on friday night last week you may recall that michael cohen's legal team filed their memorandum to that judge about his sentencing, talking what a great guy michael cohen is and how much he likes to help people and playing up what a great cooperator he's been and what a brave, kind, patriotic soul he is. the basic point of that memo, which they filed midnight on friday was telling the judge that when he sentences michael cohen, he should give michael cohen zero time in jail. well, what the prosecutors in the southern district of new york filed today with the judge was a blistering response to that. and that is a long one. this is a 40-page-long filing. and honestly, they needed every single one of these 40 pages to fully express to the judge how mad they are at michael cohen. and mad at him is not a legal
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term of art, but i'm not a lawyer. i'm just telling you how i read it. and if you read it too, you will understand why i feel that way. all right. quoting from this filing, quote, defendant michael cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on december 12th, 2018. it's next wednesday. the united states attorney's office for the southern district of new york respectfully submits this memorandum in connection with that sentencing and in response to the defendant's sentencing memorandum, which was dated november 30th, 2018. cohen, an attorney and businessman, committed four distinct federal crimes over a period of federal years -- excuse me, period of several years. he was motived to do so by personal greed and repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends. now he seeks extraordinary leniency, a sentence of no jail time based principally on his rose colored view of the seriousness of the crimes, his claims to a sympathetic personal history and his provision of certain information to law
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enforcement. but the crimes committed by cohen were more serious than his submission allows and were marked by a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life and was evidently hid ft. mchenry the friends and family members who wrote on his behalf in that midnight friday filing where his lawyers asked him to do no time in jail. quote, cohen did provide information to law enforcement, including information that assisted the special counsel's office in ongoing matters. we agree that this is a factor to be considered by the court. but cohen's description of those efforts is overstated in some respects and incomplete in others. to be clear, michael cohen does not have a cooperation agreement, and therefore is not properly described as a cooperating witness as that term is commonly used in this district, meaning the southern district of new york. quote, while the office agrees that cohen should receive credit for his assistance in the special counsel's investigation, that credit should not approximate the credit a traditional cooperating witness would receive given, among other reasons, cohen's affirmative decision not to become a
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cooperator. for these reasons, the office respectfully requests that this court impose a substantial term of imprisonment, one that reflects only a modest downward variance from the a applicable guidelines range. a and the applicable guidelines range in michael cohen's case is four or five years. 61 months to 63 months. separate from this wrangling about the defense in the opposition to michael cohen, the probation department submitted a recommendation to the judge as to what sort of jail time they believe michael cohen should get. well learn in this filing tonight that the probation's recommendation is 42 months. so 3 1/2 years. so factor that in when you're trying to anticipate what the judge might give cohen. but bottom line, prosecutors in the southern district of new york are saying, yeah, he should get a teensy, teensy little bit of credit for his cooperation, but not much, and he should otherwise be liable for what the guidelines say he should do, which is years in prison.
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clearly, though, the prosecutors in the southern district of new york also know that this is a public-facing document, and they also make this public-facing case just for michael cohen being a bad guy and for being deserving of years in prison, despite whatever else you might have heard about his role in this scandal. check this out. quote, as described in the criminal information, cohen committed four separate and serious crimes over the course of several years. these crimes, willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to congress were distinct in their harms, but bear a common set of characteristics. they each involve deception and were each motived by personal greed and ambition. while cohen, as his own submission makes clear, already enjoyed a privileged life, his desire for even greater wealth and influence precipitated an extensive course of criminal conduct. and in this filing prosecutors then go through in a lot of detail how cohen first came into
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donald trump's orbit, also how his tax evasion schemes worked, also how he defrauded banks and ran scams out of his taxi medallion business. but then we get this statement in the blunt language of these prosecutors explaining what cohen made reference to that dramatic day back in court in august when it came to those campaign finance felonies, right. when it came to his allegation that he had been directed to commit those felonies by donald trump. you remember what this is about, right? the campaign finance felonies relate to hush money payments that trump and cohen arranged to keep these two women from talking about their alleged affairs with donald trump during the campaign. and so in this filing, and this is a really damning thing for the president and for the white house, that they are not going to be able to explain away, in this filing, federal prosecutors from the southern district of new york spell out in their own words in terms that leave no doubt about their view of the president's involvement in this
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criminal scheme and the evidence they've got to prove it. quote, on approximately june 16th, 2015, individual 1, for whom cohen worked for at the time began an ultimately successful campaign for president of the united states. so that means we can just called individual 1 donald trump from here on out, right? quote, cohen had no formal title with the campaign, but he had a campaign e-mail address, and at various times advised the campaign, including on matters of interest to the press. cohen also made media appearances as a surrogate and supporter of mr. trump. during the campaign, cohen played a central role in two similar schemes to purchase the rights to stories, each from women who claimed to have had an affair with trump so as to suppress the stories and thereby prevent them from influencing the election. with respect to both payments, cohen acted with intent to influence the 2016 presidential election. cohen coordinated his action was one or more members of the campaign. oh. including through meetings and
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phone calls about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments. in particular, and as cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of donald j. trump. as a result of cohen's actions, neither woman spoke to the press prior to the election. we then get like three solid pages of totally granular detail as to how these crimes were committed, including how they were funneled through trump's real estate business, the trump organization, through false entries in the company's books that disguised the nature and the purpose of these payments. the president came out on twitter today and said these filings totally clear the president. that's backwards, it turns out. even just this one part of this one filing directly contradicts that assertion and actually lays out evidence of the president's direct criminal liability according to federal prosecutors. whether the justice department ever chooses to indict him for these alleged crimes, prosecutors in this filing are saying that he did it.
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when it comes to conveying to the judge why, quote, a substantial term of imprisonment is warranted for michael cohen on these crimes, when it comes to spelling out the nature and seriousness of the offenses that cohen has plead to, prosecutors also tell this remarkable, again public-facing story about just how bad this behavior is, just how bad these crimes are and how much they hurt the country. and again, what they're saying here is this is why michael cohen should go to jail for this. but they have also said at this point that the president of the united states committed these crimes with him. and this is how they describe those crimes. quote, his offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government, the payment of taxes, transparent and fair elections, and truthfulness before government and in business. cohen's commission of two campaign finance crimes on the eve of the 2016 election for president of the united states struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws, transparence it is. while many americans who desired
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a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows. he did so by orchestrating secret and illegal payments to silence two women who otherwise would have made public their alleged extramarital affairs with donald trump. in the process, cohen deceived the voting public by hiding alleged facts that he believed would have had a substantial effect on the election. the sentence impose shod reflect the seriousness of cohen's brazen violations of the election laws and atonement counter cynicism that may arise when cohen acts like the political process belongs to the rich and powerful. cohen suggests that this was but a brief error in judgment. not so. he knew where the line is and chose to deliberately and repeatedly cross it. they were stirred like his other crimes by his own ambition and greed. during and after the campaign, cohen privately told friends and colleagues, including in seized
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text messages that he expected to be given a prominent role and title in the new administration. when that did not materialize, cohen found a way to monetize his relationship with and access to the president. cohen successfully convinced numerous major corporations to retain him as a consultant who could provide unique insights about and access to the new administration. some of these corporations were then stuck making large up-front or period payments to cohen, even though he provided little or no real service under these contracts. bank records reflect that cohen made more than $4 million before the contracts were terminated. taken alone, these are each serious crimes worthy of meaningful punishment. taken together, these offenses reveal a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institution of our democracy. his motivation to do so was not born from naivete, carelessness, misplaced loyalty or political ideology. rather these were knowing and calculated acts, acts cohen executed in order to profit personally to build his own power and to enhance his level
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of influence. the nature and seriousness of each of cohen's crimes warrant a substantial sentences in this case. and they go on. and again, the campaign finance felonies that prosecutors are describing there, they say are campaign finance felonies that cohen committed at the direction of the president. so they go on for dozens of pages talking about cohen as a bad guy. at one point they go out of their way to describe the kinds of threats that cohen has made to journalists and to other people who he has crossed in business and politics. describing his conduct at one point as repugnant. so the prosecutors in the southern district of new york, they did persuade michael cohen to plead guilty to eight felonies, and then the special counsel's office ultimately persuaded him to plead the one more, a ninth felony, which got folded into this case as well. but they're now asking the judge to throw the book at michael cohen, and to give him substantial time, a substantial
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sentence in prison on the basis of the seriousness of his crimes, but also on the basis of the fact that he didn't much cooperate with them. i mean, however much he helped mueller and his team, and more on that in a second, federal prosecutors in new york say he didn't help them, not that t way they wanted and expected him to. quote, cohen repeatedly declined to provide full information about the scope of any additional conduct in which he may have engage order had knowledge. quote, in order to successfully cooperate with this office, meaning the office of the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york, witnesses must undergo full debriefs that encompass their entire criminal history. at the time cohen met twice with this office through his attorneys, he expressed that he was considering but not committing to full cooperation. cohen subsequently determined not to fully cooperate. and that decision by cohen that he was not going to fully cooperate with prosecutors in the southern district of new york, that he was not going to talk about other criminal
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conduct he knew about or had participated in, that is why these prosecutors want to throw the book at him, even as they acknowledge he has been super helpful to the special counsel. that brings us to what we got from the special counsel today, which is a whole bunch of new news, and that is next. stay with us.
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i am a techie dad.n. i believe the best technology should feel effortless. like magic. at comcast, it's my job to develop, apps and tools that simplify your experience. my name is mike, i'm in product development at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. in robert mueller's offices filing today in the case of michael cohen, we've got a brief document. it's only seven pages in total.
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the bottom line, the purpose of this document in terms of the cohen case is for mueller and his prosecutors to advocate to the judge in cohen's case that cohen not do any additional prison time for the one felony that they persuaded him to plead guilty to, but in the course of making that case we learn a lot from mueller and from how cohen's -- about how cohen's case fits into the overall scandal. so remember here what happened is that cohen initially plead guilty to eight felonies in federal district court in new york. that was a deal he worked out with prosecutors in the southern district of new york. we know from today's other filing in the cohen case that they ended up subsequently not that happy with the cooperation they got from him as a witness, and they think that the judge should put him in jail for a long time. thereafter, cohen plead guilty to another explain based on his work with prosecutors from the special counsel's office. they got him to plead guilty to
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lying to congress about the trump tower moscow project. and so essentially what they're saying here is yes we got him to plead guilty to an additional felony, but we don't think that that should give him any additional jail time. so this is from the filing. quote, special counsel's office provides this memorandum in connection with the sentencing of michael cohen scheduled for september 12th, 2018. on november 9th cohen plead guilty of one count of making false statements to congress. the government does not take a position with a particular sentence to be imposed but admits it is appropriate for any amount of incarceration to be served concurrently to any sentence imposed by the court in united states versus cohen. so, again, what that means is if cohen is going to get any prison time for the other felonies that he plead to with prosecutors from the southern district of new york, that's fine, but don't make this additional time, not for us. they go on, quote, the defendant's time was serious. he withheld information material to the investigations of russian interference in the 2016 u.s. presidential election. investigations being conducted
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by the senate intelligence committee, the house intelligence committee, and the special counsel's office. the defendant lied to congress about a business project, the moscow project that he worked on during the 2016 campaign while he served as executive vice president at the trump organization and as special counsel to donald trump. the department admitted he told these lies, but he made publicly and in submissions to congress in order to, one, minimize links between moscow project and donald trump, and two, give the false impression that the moscow project had ended before the iowa caucus and the first presidential primaries in hopes of limiting the ongoing russia investigations being conducted by congress and the special counsel's office. okay. at this point in the filing, we're pretty much up to where michael cohen was when he plead guilty in court in new york last week and said yeah, i lied to congress about trump tower moscow. but did you notice that one additional detail we got there? he told these lies in submissions to congress and publicly.
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that ends up being an important new development here. quote, the defendant's lies to congress were deliberate and premeditated. his false statements did not spring spontaneously from a line of examination or heated colloquy during a congressional hearing. they started in a written submission that he chose to provide to both houses of congress ahead of his appearances. these circumstances show a deliberate effort to use his lies as a way to set the tone and shape the course of the hearing in an effort to stymie the inquiries. okay. so the special counsel's office here is saying that covering up the moscow project, covering up the whole trump tower moscow thing wasn't just something that he panic and did on the spur of the moment. it was a deliberate, considered planned process, which of course raises the question of whether or not it involved other people. it turns out, yes, in a way, they're saying it did involve other people. quote, the defendant amplified his false statements by
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releasing and repeating his lying to the public, including to other potential witnesses. ding, ding, ding. the defendant was scheduled to appear before both intelligence committees in closed sessions prior to testifying. the defendant made a public appearance at the u.s. capitol and released his prepared opening statement which falsely claimed that the moscow project was terminated in january 2016. by publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what had occurred in the hopes of limiting the investigation into possible russian interference in the presidential election. all right. so this is important. michael cohen we learn today did not just lie to congress, but according to the special counsel's office, which, again,
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sort of looking kindly upon him, it's important that he lied to the public, because in so doing, when he made that public statement, he didn't just give it behind closed doors to congress, when he made that public restatement of his lie in congress testimony, that was effectively a message to the other witnesses who might know about the trump tower moscow project telling them that, hey, basically, this is how you should lie about this matter too, because this is how i'm lying about it to congress. let's all get our stories straight. and, remember, congressman jim himes of the house intelligence committee suggested to us just a few days ago after michael cohen's testimony on trump tower moscow was revealed to be a lie, remember, he came on this show just the other night and said, you know, i'm not going to talk what everybody said in detail behind closed doors in that closed testimony, but we got a lot of testimony from different witnesses about trump tower moscow. and if michael cohen is now saying his testimony was a lie, well, i can tell you, when we had other people testifying about it, we didn't notice strong inconsistencies between their testimony and what cohen said. what this suggests is that cohen went public with his false
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testimony as a way to convey to the other witnesses who knew about trump tower moscow how they should lie about it as well. which makes ate cover-up that involves not just one person, but multiple people. and oh, wait, there is more. the defendant's false statements obscured the fact that the moscow project was a lucrative business opportunity that sought and likely required the assistance of the russian government. if this project was completed, the company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues. the fact that cohen continued to work on the project and discuss it with donald trump well into the campaign was material to the ongoing congressional and special counsel's investigations, particularly because it occurred a at time of sustained efforts by the russian government to interfere with the u.s. presidential election. all right. this is important too. what we're learn hearing from the special counsel's office is that trump tower moscow wasn't some tiddlywinks deal. trump tower moscow was going to result, if it succeeded, in hundreds of millions of dollars being paid from russian sources
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to the trump organization. michael cohen downplayed the financial importance of the project, but the special counsel's office is saying here that they have evidence, and they go into it in more detail, they have evidence how remunerative this deal was going to be, hundreds of millions of dollars from russian sources to the trump organization. and that is what trump was lying about during the campaign, saying he had no deals and no pending deals in russia. it was a lucrative business opportunity that sought and likely required the assistance of the russian government. so at this point in the filing the special counsel's office goes on to say actually, the first time that michael cohen came to them for his first meeting, which he requested in august 2018, he initially lied to the special counsel's office too. he kept telling those same lies about trump tower moscow. it was only after he plead guilty that he came back and met with the special counsel's office again and finally came clean and told them how big a deal it was and in fact that it had not been over before the voting started.
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it had continued throughout the campaign during the entire time that trump was trying to line up the nomination. so cohen, quote, admitted that he had lied to congress and to the special counsel's office about the moscow project. he provided detailed information about the true circumstances of the moscow project, including its duration, the persons involved in the discussions, contact with russian government officials and discussions during the first half of 2016 about the possibility of travel to russia in connection with the moscow project. in addition to correcting the timeline and detailing the contacts he had during pursuit of the moscow project, cohen explained financial aspects of the deal that would have made it highly lucrative for the company and himself. the information provided by cohen about the moscow project in these proffer sessions is consistent with and corroborated by other information obtained in the course of the special counsel's investigation. so they've got it. they've got trump tower moscow. and specifically, they've got the fact that it would have resulted in russian sources paying hundreds of millions of dollars to trump's campaign, and they needed to russian
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government in order to make the deal go ahead. that is what the president was not telling the truth about to the american people during the campaign, and russia knew it at the time. the special counsel's office isn't just saying that cohen has plead to this. they're saying they checked what he told them about this and it is corroborated by other information that they were able to obtain about this deal. that is a really big problem for the president. the defendant's assistance has been useful in four significant respects. first, the defendant provided information about his own contacts with russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others in the course of making those contacts. for example, as described, the defendant provided a detailed account of his involvement and the involvement of others in the moscow project. the defendant also provided information about attempts by other russian nationals to reach the campaign. the special counsel's office at this point in the filing describes a previously unknown
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overture from another russian about trump tower moscow, an overture that cohen did not necessarily himself follow up on. but now the way the filing ends is sort of the big money, no whammies here. they're saying he helped them in four different ways, right. he provided them information about his own contacts with russian interests. second, cohen provided the special counsel with useful information concerning certain discrete russia related matters core to his investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with trump organization executives during the campaign. so we don't know what this is, but cohen gave the special counsel useful information about certain discrete russia-related matters core to mueller's investigation. he obtained this information because of his contact with people who worked a the trump organization. so presumably, that means the president. that could also mean anybody else who was involved both in the campaign and the trump organization who had anything to
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do with russia. we do know that the president's eldest son don jr. did go to the trump tower meeting with russian lawyers promising dirt on hillary clinton. the special counsel also says that cohen provided relevant and useful information regarding his contacts with persons connected to the white house during 2017 and 2018. so apparently cohen's helpfulness has not just been confined to the campaign. it's this year too, and it's since trump has been president. and finally, cohen described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to congressional inquiries. again, it appears that what the special counsel's office is saying about his response to congressional inquiries is that he lied and he lied in a way that was designed to be part of an organized cover-up that involved everybody else who knew about the president's secret financial dealings with russia that he was lying about during the campaign, which might have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in russian-sourced funds coming to him and his company had the russian government did what he wanted. we're going get some expert
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advice on sorting this out when we come back. stay with us. applebee's bigger bolder grill combos are back. now that's eatin good in the neighborhood. we've shown just how far love can go.e the love event, (grandma vo) over one hundred national parks protected. (mom vo) more than fifty thousand animals rescued. (old man vo) nearly two million meals delivered. (mom vo) over eighteen hundred wishes granted. (vo) that's one hundred and forty million dollars donated to charity by subaru and its retailers over eleven years. (girl) thank you. (boy) thank you. (old man) thank you. (granddaughter) thank you.
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cooperating witness. he has not been willing to talk to about criminal behavior he may have been involved in or know about, and therefore throw the book at him. is this a southern district thing or is this something specific to cohen am. >> the southern district requires cooperating witnesses to not only admit to the crimes that they're charged with or that the government has evidence of but any other crimes that they may have committed. >> back to the time they were 2 years old. >> literally if you stole a candy bar from the drugstore when you were 16 you have to tell the government that. you won't necessarily plead guilty to that because it's not a federal crime, but you may have to plead guilty to additional federal crimes that you volunteer to the government. oats the way that this cooperation process works in the southern district, and it is a little different tan the way that bob mueller and the special counsel's office seems to be operating where they're willing to take people's cooperation and they're willing to either dismiss counts like they did with rick gates, allow someone
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to plead guilty to what seems to be lesser crimes like they did with michael flynn or in the case of michael cohen and we don't know yet what's going on. but they're happy to hear him out and take his testimony and witness statements and allow him to continue to help. and the southern district basically said you're truthful, we believe you. >> yeah, they didn't say they thought he was lying to them. >> and they said if you're not willing to go further and give up everything, then there's no cooperation here. and that's the way it works. and unfortunately for michael cohen this case is in the southern district. and judge paulie knows how it works. there's a bit of faith to say i am going to admit to my crimes and it's going to ultimately reward me. and some people have a difficult time doing that. >> so you think michael cohen has taken a very big risk by not entering into a cooperation agreement to the satisfaction of
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the southern district. could he change his mind on that and after seeing this and saying you guys are telling the judge to throw the book at me. i thought i would get more credit for the cooperation i gave to the special counsel's office, fine, if you want me to sign a cooperation agreement and tell you about the candy bars i stole, i'll go do it. could he still do that? >> right now on wednesday michael cohen is going to get a jail sentence. it didn't have to go that way, but that's what's going to happen. if he does get a jail sentence, he still can cooperate and there's a mechanism which he can reduce his sentence after at a later date. and he can come in and give it all up if he wants to do that. but if he's not going to do that, he's going to get a jail sentence. and the reason is because what the southern district memo says, which is this is how it works here. and judge, if you're going to let someone play fast and loose with how cooperation works here and give him probation on a
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guideline range, then what's the point of having cooperation here, and that's why the judge is not going to do it. >> daniel goldman, former district attorney in the southern district of new york. more to get to. stay with us. if your adventure... ...keeps turning into unexpected bathroom trips... ...you may have overactive bladder, or oab. ohhhh...enough already! we need to see a doctor. ask your doctor about myrbetriq® (mirabegron).
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♪ spread a little something to remember ♪ philadelphia cream cheese. made with fresh milk and real cream makes your recipes their holiday favourites. the holidays are made with philly. joining us now is emily jane fox, a senior reporter at vanity fair. thank you for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> what's mr. cohen's reaction to these court filings today? >> i think there was a sense when he pleaded guilty to the count with the special counsel's office two weeks ago that things were going in a little bit of a different direction and the people who were close to cohen and around him at the time, i think that the memo filed today was a real pin in that balloon. and i don't think that everyone in that orbit saw this coming. this was not the memo that they expected today, and it is certainly a very, very blistering filing that was made in court and something that i
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don't think anybody who read that would feel good going into sentencing. >> so he was surprised that the southern district prosecutors say he needs a substantial jail term? >> i don't think there was a surprise that there was a suggestion that there is substantial jail time on the line. but i think that the sense around him was we cooperated, we spent 70 hours with investigators as it was laid out by robert mueller in his filing today. he provided significant information that is useful to the investigation, and i think that is where they felt the momentum growing, that that is something he had chosen to do. and so i think the southern district's response today didn't take that into much account. and it was blistering, and it laid out a fairly reasonable argument for why he should be sentenced the way they believe he should be sentenced. >> is there any chance he would reconsider his decision not to
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form a formal cooperation agreement with sdny. they're saying he's not cooperating to the standards of this district. is mr. cohen potentially in a position to reconsider that i think there was a lot of thought that went into the decision to not be an official cooperating witness. you and i talked about this two weeks ago on the night of sentencing when i said i really don't think he's an official cooperating witness. that was my understanding from all the reporting. >> you were right. >> well, even a broken clock was right twice today, right? but i think that this was a decision he did not go into lightly. this does not mean this was a decision -- but sentencing happens in a few days. i will say that in cohen world things move really quickly. as we know when he was first presented with the possibility of being indicte

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