tv Deadline White House MSNBC February 27, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PST
anpg&e wants you to plan ahead by mapping out escape routes and preparing a go kit, in case you need to get out quickly. for more information on how to be prepared and keep your family safe, visit pge.com/safety. new york. welcome to our ongoing breaking news coverage of the michael cohen hearings. it's been a blockbuster day on capitol hill. the president's former lawyer and fixer, michael cohen, delivering hours of explosive testimony today in front of the house oversight committee, in which he alternately defended his own credibility and detailed his first-person account of donald trump's corruption, criminal conduct and racism. cohen describing himself as remorseful about the lies he told and explaining many of the things he did wrong were things he did in service of this president. the headlines from today include, michael cohen's accusation that donald trump was
deeply involved in the scheme to pay off porn star stormy daniels, even after taking office. cohen's assertion that donald trump had advance knowledge of the wikileaks dump of hacked e-mail from the dnc and an apology, an apology for lying to the congress in the past about the timing of the trump tower moscow negotiations. cohen adding today that the president's personal lawyers knew exactly what cohen would say about the timing of trump tower negotiations back when he first testified before he said it. cohen also implied that donald trump jr. may have kept his father in the loop on the trump tower meeting in manhattan with russians promising dirt on hillary clinton. but most haunting for this president and for this white house has to be cohen's testimony that he's in constant contact with the prosecutors working out of the southern district of new york. >> so the committee understands you've been in contact with the southern district of new york, is that true? >> i am in constant contact with
the southern district of new york regarding ongoing investigations. >> is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act what you're aware of regarding donald trump that we haven't yet discussed today? >> yes, and again, those are part of the investigation that's currently being looked at by the southern district of new york. >> you don't say. that's where we start with some of our favorite reporters and friends. former federal prosecutor paul butler. with us in new york, former u.s. attorney joyce vance and one of two people here who knew michael cohen pretty well and have been in contact with him through this whole escapade, donny deutsche of "vanity fair" senior reporter and lane jane fox, who was inside the hearing throughout the day. emily, let me start with you on your thoughts on the sound we played that michael cohen has knowledge of criminal conduct but he can't talk about it before congress because it relates to an ongoing investigation out of the southern district of new york. >> this is a moment -- there were many moments today that i
think stopped people who were paying attention to all of this testimony and questions being asked. this was a moment where i sat there and realized we have known for quite some time that the southern district poses a threat to many of the things president trump holds dear, but the fact that michael cohen is continuing to participate with investigations, investigations that we may know nothing about yet, has to be a chilling thing to president trump, to his family, to the trump organization in general. and it just speaks to the fact we are just potentially at the beginning of this. we're certainly not at the end of any kind of investigation or investigations out of the southern district of new york. whatever is going to happen with the mueller probe if it is wrapping up soon or not wrapping up soon, the southern district will continue to be an issue for the trumps for the foreseeable future. joyce vance, everything emily said plus take the reporting from the last ten days in "the new york times" and "the wall
street journal" that donald trump sought to obstruct the investigations out of the southern district of new york by asking his acting attorney general matt whitaker to see if the political appointee there, jeff berman, could take over some of those cases and "the wall street journal" adding in the reporting this week the judiciary committee had some evidence of that going on. >> it's a real risk at this point in the investigation for the president to make the effort to obstruct. he's watched mueller indict people for that conduct. he knows that his own conduct is under scrutiny. the fact that he took this step of trying to convince his acting attorney general at the time matt whitaker to create new leadership, friendlier leadership in the southern district of new york, tell us he had something significant to fear. what we always have to remember is none of what we hear for the first time is news to this president. he lived it. it's his life. the evidence is about his conduct. he knows the southern district of new york is on the hunt
>> paul butler, i want to bring you in and we're waiting for this hearing to get under way again. we will go to it when that happens. i just want to flush out some of the other things that happened in here and remind prosecutors have known everything michael cohen has known for a long time. so they've even this evidence you have to assume. there was bizarre questioning about why he had a box with papers in it. he had a box with papers in it because it was boxed up and seized and given back to him in a box. a lot of proof that you don't have to pass any tests sadly to be in congress. but talk about the evidence that was made public to all of us today means in terms to what prosecutors had their hands on for months now. >> so what's important is corroboration. this is shakespearean, nicolle. it's a tragedy, it's epic in scope and michael cohen is not so much a tragic hero as a villain but credible, so he brought receipts because he
understood that his credibility is severely undermined. why? because he's testified in congress the same congress that he committed perjury in front of. so he's got to have stuff to back up what he's saying, and he brought exhibits. he has this $35,000 check. so what we're learning is extremely damning towards the president and, again, mueller has known this all along. so if you remember michael cohen's sentencing memorandum, he got mad problems from robert mueller about how michael cohen had helped that investigation. the southern district was less enthusiastic, which is really interesting because the receipts that michael cohen brought today all pertain to the southern district. and so that suggests that if michael cohen wasn't that helpful, oh, my goodness, what is it the southern district
knows? what is it they have on donald trump right now? >> let me bring into the conversation chuck rosenberg, former u.s. attorney and former fbi official and alisa menendez, co-host of pbs "amanpour and company." chuck, let me bring you in on the news we started with, the sound that sort of pierced right through the room and seemed to shellshock everybody in it and a lot of people i talked to watching, that he is, michael cohen, heading to prison at the beginning of may, is in constant contact with the prosecutors oust of the southern district of new york. what does that say to you? >> i wrote that down, nicolle and i circled it and i was hoping you would ask me. what's interesting to me as paul just pointed out is that the mueller team was satisfied with cohen's cooperation but the new york team less so. we all know that you can get consideration for your cooperation before sentencing, but you can also get consideration for your cooperation after sentencing.
it's called a rule 35. and what it requires that a defend do defendant do is he be completely forthcoming and truthful with information that leads to the prosecution or investigation of others. so for the southern district of new york prosecutors to still be talking to cohen tells me that he still has stuff that they're interested in. it seems inevitable to me that they would want every bit of juice out of that lemon, and it seems inevitable to me that he has more juice. so while i don't think we're going to hear the details of it today, i imagine we're going to see it, nicolle, in some form, in some fashion down the road from federal prosecutors in manhattan. >> it's interesting too if you take your analysis and joyce's and paul's and lay over what we already know, the southern district of new york has already corroborated enough of cohen's testimony to describe the sitting president as individual one in cohen's sentencing
document, basically accepting -- and your old boss jim comey's language -- sponsoring his testimony that donald trump directed an illegal hush money. at a minimum, donald trump is accused of felony campaign finance violations. >> and while he was in office as the president of the united states. so if people are trying to dismiss this as some sort of extraneous conduct or stuff that happened before he took the oath of office as our president, no, sorry. this is when he was in office as president directing cohen to pay illegal moneys to two women with whom he had relationships in order to influence the election. the new york federal prosecutors chose that language very carefully and very precisely from the statute with which they charged cohen. so this is not sort of abstract or language, nicolle.
they named him a co-conspirator, individual one. and by the way cohen showed up with a couple checks today, demonstrating the payments back to him, as well as his home equity line of credit, which showed the debit from his account. now, would those three people in and of themselves with cohen's testimony be enough? no. but there will be more corroboration. what prosecutors always do with cooperating witnesses like this is corroborate is every which way you can. you've seen a little peek of that corroboration today. you have not seen anything. ? three things with the southern district. michael's relationship completely changed with them. it was not a good relationship round one. they wanted him to come in and he wasn't interested and it changed. as a result of the foundation and inauguration and now going to the trump organization. i will not give my typical speech about where this ends taking apart of the trump organization and that's where it ends, in a rico charge.
i thought the most compelling part of michael's testimony today is when he was exonerating trump on things. when he was saying, you know one, there's no chance he would ever strike melania. i know there's talk about a salacious tape, it's not there. you know what, i cannot say he's an absolute conspirator. and it's interesting. >> it didn't stop there. he said he didn't tell me to lie. that's not how he rolled. it was implicit in the lies he was telling. this is so important because the lunatics in my former party acted like he was some hostile witness who was on trial. he's not on trial. he's going to jail. he was simply there to establish a fact pattern. >> and the fact republicans have not once asked about donald trump, has not once about anything, i thought he had a very good comeback around there. but the other thing i think was very pivotal today were the names of ivanka, eric and don jf coming up. i don't think the mueller investigation will end so
quickly. there will be more spools of thread -- there's no benefit of mueller to end it until i think the southern district even goes further along. these things are obviously going along the same tracks. i'm exhausted watching it, to tell you the truth. i don't know how this guy is standing considering this happened nine hours yesterday, another nine hours. i actually spoke to him during the break. i told him to wash his face and fix his hair a little bit. other than that, he's doing great. >> i have a question, do you think he's getting what he wanted out of today? >> here's what i think he wanted more than anything today, he has seen his name obviously destroyed the last couple of years and he can't speak about. he's literally been muzzled the last two years. if you know this guy, it would be like muzling me. not an easy thing to do. i think more than anything he wanted to say hey, it's not like i didn't do bad stuff, i'm going to jail. but guys, can we look at the big picture here? he's a human being and he's been seen as dirt by a lot of people. i think he wants to correct that. i think he wants to apologize. i love these questions they ask
him, are you ever going to do a movie? they have broken him financially and in the future is going to do anything he can to help his family financially. some of these questions are so ridiculous. >> i want to get to the conduct. the conduct around him -- again, this is congress, it used to be a serious play. i'm not sure what i was watching today. it was pretty embarrassing and shameful. but there wasn't anyone on the republican side who could do what donny just did, if they were there to defend trump by destroying cohen, it was a curious way to go. no one defended donald trump. no one questioned the evidence. no one questioned the testimony as it pertained to donald trump. they weren't acting like the kinds of surrogates of the president who felt the president had facts on his side, were they? >> not only were they not surrogates for the president, they actually damaged him. every time they went of cohen and berated him for lying and talked about his conduct, they were implicitly also noting individual one was equally
guilty for those crimes. it was frankly a kairos strategy. i would not want any of them on my side as a surrogate. >> i would ask there were no questions around russia. we have a foreign interaction in our democracy to throw an election and there's no curiosity about it. that in itself should be alarming. >> speaking of idiotic, when meadows screaming with the document, when it comes back after break, you will see cohen was right, it's about barring government entities. here you have a congressman raging on a bully pulpit and he's dead wrong. >> chuck rosenberg, i'm guessing all of the crimes michael cohen committed have been caught by the two offices full of federal prosecutors in the mueller probe and southern district of new york who combed over all of michael cohen's conduct. it's not likely inspector clouseau, aka congressman meadows, was going to catch something those guys couldn't, is it? >> they're not going to stumble into a federal criminal case.
nicolle, he pled guilty to tax fraud, making false statements to a bank, pled guilty to lying to congress and pled guilty, by the way with individual one, of making payments to women to influence the outcome of an election, just a couple of weeks before the election took place. so the notion that someone is going to stumble into another crime that has somehow alluded robert mueller or has alluded federal prosecutors in the southern district of new york is ludicrous. what's going on here is a very ham-handed attempt that you often see by bad defense attorneys to distract the jury what the underlying case and what the underlying describe, really tell. they did not go after the underlying facts. they went after everything else. that tells you there ain't much there. >> paul butler, it also seems like the kind of conduct that may backfire. in michael cohen you had someone who didn't just support donald trump, he loved him. he fell for him. he could be the most credible
sort of defender on some of these trickiest questions about the tinkle tape, about this other sort of salacious video, which i never heard of until i saw it today's testimony, about possible physical abuse of melania. instead of taking that and turning him into someone they're in agreement on, he spent the whole time accusing him of doing something he said in his opening statement he had indeed done, lied to congress. >> yes, and as donny said, some of the things cohen said were exonerating of trump. guess what? that makes him more credible. he doesn't seem like a man who's come to throw the president of the united states under the bus, but for the truth. but for the things that the president has done that need to be brought to the attention of the american people. you know, i do think that the southern district investigation is going to be extremely troublesome for the president. nicolle, justice scalia decided a case about an earlier
independent counsel statute where he says he thinks it's unfair because anybody in the world who has a prosecutor just looking at you at everything you have ever done, that prosecutor would find something against anybody. take that idea and then think about donald trump, think about the trump organization, think about don jr. so no matter what criminal mueller had uncovered about the trump organization, he's not going to use that as part of his own national security and obstruction investigation. he's going to farm that off as he did to the southern district. so to the except anybody thinks trump's troubles are over when the mueller report is filed, from cohen's testimony, it sounds like trump's troubles are just beginning. >> i want to talk a little bit about don jr. cohen's testimony around don jr. matches verbatim what other trump allies say about donald trump jr.'s place in the trump family and trump businesses.
that donald trump did not have a lot of faith in his judgment, he was not trusted in the way ivanka trump is trusted and he really internally is a business person and campaign person, didn't have the respect of his father to allow him to take the reins of a meeting with russians promising dirt on hillary clinton. donald trump jr., to me, looks like someone who is -- is very opaque but perhaps in the most trouble at this point. >> you know, i've seen this before in cases. you have someone whether it's a family member or a lieutenant in a crime organization, and they're sort of the guy who fits the moniker of the gang who can't shoot straight. they get things done, people don't trust their judgment. so you know anything they touch has to be approved at a higher level and that's what's going on here. it's one thing for michael cohen alone to say his credibility can be discounted. if there are a number of people who can say trump jr. wasn't able to act independently, couldn't make these decisions without his father, if there are
examples, then i think he really is in a lot of trouble. we've talked so much about what comes next after the mueller investigation, and it is clear we are not looking at a sprint to the finish line, that this is going to be a marathon from here on out. >> and something i had heard in the early fall, late summer was that rosenstein and mueller had seated other officers with other offshoots. it seems the only two we know about are the d.c. office which has the stone case and sdny, inaugural committee and foundation and whatnot. but we don't know what we don't know. >> we have been so focused talking about special counsel cases and sdny cases that we gort the justice department is the biggest law firm in the country. there are 93 united states attorneys nationwide. any one of them could have jurisdiction over who knows what cases mueller could have uncovered and sent out. and these are highly competent offices. we have seen sdny they don't
feel particularly bound particularly whatever administration is in charge. in fact, the more you tell a career prosecutor they do something for political reasons, the more they're going to dig in and follow the facts and end up wherever they take him. >> we may be running out of time. cohen is taking his seat, senator cummings have taken his and durkin appears to be carb loading for whatever's next for him. he may have narrowed his focus around the russia question. there may be a lot of cases and threads at sdny and other attorney's offices? >> absolutely, i agree with joyce. remember, mueller's remit was narrow. it's russian interference in the election and matters that arose from that investigation. so all of the things you have seen spun off from manafort to cohen to stone and others were purposefully spun off because mueller is follow his instructions to the letter. it's not at all surprising there
would be other threads. there will be more to come. i imagine mueller's report as paul butler said is not the end of it, not by a long shot. >> i think the trump tower timing testimony and the president's lawyers having knowledge of exactly what cohen was going to say is something cohen knew he was going to reveal that today and knew that would unspool some questions for the president's lawyers and perhaps the president. >> i still think 10, 20 years from now the history books are going to write about the decline of trump, russia is going to be a very small part of it actually. ? should we listen in for a minute? let's see if they're getting going. >> one of the things i thought was so interesting, conversations about wikileaks, they said donald trump's written responses to mueller, he had no knowledge of the wikileaks situation, stone had not told him about them. if michael cohen is to be believed and if that reporting is accurate, there is a conflict
there, and i do wonder how much of a problem that then becomes for a president if there are inconsistencies in his written answers. >> it's a fascinating situation because just based on what cohen testified to, you see a lot of possibility for corroboration. there could be phone records, trump's secretary could have easily heard some of this going on. either the president or cohen could have had conversations with other people later that day where they repeated the conversation. so this is something that could really hold a lot of potential. >> chuck, is it your estimation that robert mueller knows exactly what donald trump knew and when he knew it about the wikileaks dump and hacked e-mails? >> yeah, i imagine he does. i have worked for the man. he tends to know a lot of stuff, nicolle. but also interestingly here, this is a place where cohen did not go too far. remember, he said that trump knew about the dump but he didn't -- he never said he knew about the hack. he never said he knew about the contents of the e-mails that
were to be dumped. so as prosecutors looking at the credibility of a cooperating witness, it strikes us when folks don't go too far. that's what we saw from michael cohen today and i expect continue to see. >> speaking of not going too far, the way he said no, he didn't tell me to lie but this is the way it works. as someone i worked for ten years and ran a business and concierge, right-hand people. i think they're about to go. >> let's listen.
>> they seem to be getting organized. aforementioned jim jordan. let me ask you, do you expect democrats to express for more granularity? michael cohen promised granularity and it seems like he's opened two big buckets, two big lines of questioning around what the president's lawyers knew, the lies to tell congress and the wikileaks, what the president was told by roger stone on the phone? >> i think they have to because in part you get corroboration from documents but you also get corroborations from your own common sense. the question is if roger stone is talking to wikileaks about damaging stuff from hillary clinton, could he possibly keep that from the president? everything we knew about donald trump and roger stone, no way roger stone wouldn't communicate that to donald trump.
so i think they've got to go there. obviously, they take lying to congress very seriously. if the president of the united states aided and abetted that lie from the oval office -- again, that's an impeachable offense. >> joyce, we talk about lies. the president told close to 10,000 lies while president, and it's remark we throw that at the like the beginning of a sentence, beginning of a point, 10,000 lies as president, you hear michael cohen describe how the lies were operationalized down the chain of command. he didn't tell michael cohen when you get in there, tell a lie. he said michael, there was no close. michael, this is a witch-hunt. michael, i didn't do this with russia. does that count? if you're a prosecutor and you got that, what do you -- what responsibility does the principal have here? >> it absolutely does count. and prosecutors know this is often how criminal organizations operate. you don't say hey, i need you to
lie. instead you articulate the lie. so as cohen testifies, he understood what trump expected him to say. the question if we're talking about trump as part of a conspiracy in some regard is whether he wanted to be a part of it, agreed to enter into the conspiracy and was involved in overt acts or others took overt acts or steps towards completing the conspiracy. it doesn't have to be a handshake or signature on a piece of paper. the fact he's signaling to keen what conduct he's supposed to engage in, that would be good enough for me and i expect any prosecutor. >> chuck, this has been my question for months, how did this gang who couldn't shoot straight, the campaign described by the campaign as being incapable of including with their own press office, how did they imagine to tell the same lie about the same american adversary around the same time? could it have been sim playering the boss, in this case the boss being donald trump, tell that lie over and over again? >> sure, nicolle, the tone from
any organization comes from the top, absolutely. whether it's a legitimate functioning corporation or government entity or mob. the tone is set at the top. you mentioned 10,000 lies. i just wanted to mention one other number that struck me, 500 threats. cohen said he had in one way or another issue 50dd 500 threats behalf of the president. >> that was amazing. if we weren't sitting waiting for this testimony to begin, we would play that for everybody. he was questioned how many people he threatened on behalf of the president, started with a dozen, two dozen, 50, 100, 500 and he said yeah, about 500. >> i want to call this to order. mr. cohen, i want to finalize this issue relating to your truth in testimony form. the form requires you to list your contracts or payments originating from a foreign
government, not from all foreign entities. we said we would give you a chance to consult with your attorneys. have you done that? and do you have any additional information? >> my four attorneys continue to believe, as they did before, that the language of the truth in testimony form, which i was given and signed just right before this hearing, and which requires disclosure of any contracts or payments from foreign governments in the last two years, did not apply to my work for bta bank, which is a kazakh-owned entity. they advised had entities been intended for disclosure, that word would have been in the disclosure definition. however, if the committee's counsel has a different view that i should disclose my contract with bta bank, we would be willing to do that.
>> all right. >> mr. chairman -- >> let me finish. >> sure. >> i want to understand clearly that you are -- you sought the advice of your counsel, is that right? >> that's correct. >> your counsel advised you to say what you just said, is that right? >> that's correct. >> you know that to be the truth, is that right? >> yes, sir. >> i would yield to the gentleman. >> i thank the chairman for his courtesy. mr. chairman, instead of making points of order and going back and forth on this, perhaps a way to solve this is for the chairman to request mr. cohen give to this committee all of the foreign payments that he has received over the last two years, whether they are an institute or government. because we have strong belief, mr. chairman, there's over $900,000 that came from the government of kazakhstan on behalf of mr. cohen. it's either the whole truth or nothing but the truth, and the
rules, mr. chairman, really look at foreign payments that come from or with warring governments. and the bank he's talking about is owned 81% by the kazakhstan government. >> reclaiming my time and then we're going to move on. what i will take -- first of all, let me be clear. i sent to m-- said to mr. cohen if he came in here and lied, i would nail him to the cross. didn't i tell you that? >> yes, you did, more than once. >> so if there's any ambiguity, i want that to be cleared up. i have no problem in working with you to make sure that's straightened out. i don't want it to be a thing he thinks one thing and we think one thing. we can clear that up, all right? we have a number of our members that have been waiting. >> on that subject, mr. chairman, i don't think we should limit it just to the bta
bank. i think we should also look at korea air spars industries, one of his other client and any other client that's foreign that may have something to do with that respective government, we should look at all of them. >> reclaiming my time. we will take that under advisement. i'm a man of my word, we will work with you and see what we can do to come up with that. i don't think it's an unreasonable request. >> mr. cohen, i want to focus my questions on the smoking gun document you have provided this committee. this document is compelling evidence of federal and state crimes, including financial fraud. you provided this committee with a check from president donald j. trump's revokable trust account, marked as exhibit 5b.
it is a check for $35,000 and it is dated march 17, 2017, after the president took office. it's right now on the screen. do you see it, sir? >> yes, sir. >> to be clear, the trump revokable trust is the trust the president set up to hold his assets after he became president, is that correct? >> i believe so. >> do you know why you were paid from the trust as opposed from the president's personal account? >> i don't know the answer to that. >> did you think it was odd that he paid you once from his personal account and then he's paying you through the scheme of a trust? >> i'll be honest, i was just happy to get the check. >> today you testified the check was signed by donald trump jr. and ceo allen weisselberg, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> you said monthly invoices containing false information to an individual identified as executive one, weisselberg is executive one, correct? >> yes.
>> the criminal charge against you then states that executive one forwarded your invoice to someone referred to as executive two, presumably donald trump jr., who's signing this check at executive two, correct? >> i believe so. >> as federal prosecutors laid out in their criminal charges, payments like this check resulted in numerous false statements in the records and books of the trump organization. it's important for america to understand this, nothing to do with collusion, this is garden variety variety and fraud. it was disguised as a payment for legal services but this was not a payment for legal services, was it, mr. cohen? >> no, sir. >> it could rise to federal, state and criminal liability if a corporation is cooking its books. based on your testimony today, donald trump jr. and allen weisselberg directed this payment to you and approved this payment, is that right?
>> mr. trump, initially acknowledged the obligation that myself and allen weisselberg went back to his office and i was instructed by allen at the time that they were going to do this over 12 installments. and what he decided to do then was to have me send an invoice, in which case they could have a check cut. and then, the answer would be yes to your followup. >> and donald trump jr. obviously signed off on this? >> it would either be eric trump, donald trump jr. or alan weiss enberg on the check. >> they knew this payment was false and illegal, correct? >> i can't make that conclusion. >> you told representative kelly that the president was aware of this scheme, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> i just want the american public to understand the explosive nature of your current
testimony in this document. are you telling us, mr. cohen, that the president directed transactions in conspiracy with allen weisselberg and his son, donald trump jr., as part of a civil -- as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud, is that your testimony today? >> yes. >> do you know if this criminal financial scheme that the president allen weisselberg and donald trump jr. are involved in is being investigated by the southern district of new york? >> i would rather not discuss that question because it could be part of an investigation that's currently ongoing. >> but i just want the american public to understand that totally apart if bob mueller's investigation, there's garden variety financial fraud in your allegation and explosive smoking gun document suggests the president, his son and cfo may
be involved in a criminal conspiracy? and isn't it true, mr. cohen, that this criminal conspiracy that involved four people, that there's only one person so far who suffered the repercussions and that's why you're in jail? >> i will be going to jail, yes. >> three other people, though, who were equally involved in this conspiracy, is that true? >> yes, it is true. >> thank you, mr. cohen. i yield back my time. >> gomez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. cohen, i'm going to tackle the president's tax returns. during the 2016 campaign you said you personally wouldn't, quote, allow him to release those returns until the audits are over, unquote. for the record, nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax returns, even while under audit by the irs. mr. cohen, do you know whether president trump's tax returns were really under audit by the
irs in 2016? >> i don't know the answer. i asked for a copy of the audit so that i could use it in terms of my statements to the press, and i was never able to obtain one. >> do you have any inside knowledge about what was in the president's tax returns that he refused to release? >> i do not. >> can you give us any insight into what the real reason is that the president has refused to release his tax returns? >> from things he had said to me is what he didn't want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces, and then he will end up in an audit until ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties and so on. >> that's an interesting point, that basically said he didn't want to release his tax returns
because he might end up in an audit. so could you presume from that statement that he wasn't under audit? >> i presume he's not under audit. >> and the reason why i bring this up, because i'm also the only democrat on this committee that also serves on the committee of ways and means. the chief tax writing committee in the house of representatives and it's the only committee in the house of representatives ha that's jurisdiction to request an american's tax returns and that includes the president of the united states. my constituents need to know whether the president has financial ties that are causing him to protect his own bottom line rather than the best interest of this country. can he be plaqblackmailed becauf his financial and business ventures, including by foreign governments? and i know the opposition is the first thank they're going to ask or say is that he released his financial disclosure forms. but i believe there are other things we can learn from his taxes. do you have any idea what we can learn in his tax returns if we
actually got our hands on them? >> no, i have seen them i just have never gone through them. they're quite long. >> quite long. one of the thing i i also find ironic is the way they're kind of attacking you as to undermine your credibility -- one of the ways -- is by saying you committed tax fraud and tax evasion. the reason why it is a big deal is it really goes down to a person's character when it comes to taxes. but yet the republican minority has never asked to see his taxes. something that for four years democrats and republicans alike have released their tax returns to prove to the american people that they didn't have financial interests that would be leverageable by a foreign government. but this minority refuses to ask for his tax returns. i also want to kind of go on, i'm noticing a pattern, i'm noticing a pattern about the president and those in his inner circle. special counsel robert mueller's
team has indicted or received guilty pleas from 34 people and 3 companies that we know of, the latest being long-term trump adviser roger stone. that group includes six former trump advisers. it appears the president has a fondness of entrusting those who will one, lie for him. two, break the law for him. three, cheat the system for him. essentially, he wants to surround himself with people who are just like him. would you agree with that statement? >> from the facts and circumstances, it appears so. >> mr. cohen, the american people have a lot of questions when it comes to this president, to his conduct. when he went to helsinki and he bowed before vladimir putin, and nobody can really understand why he acts the way he acts. and we believe the way we get those answers is really looking
at everybody that surrounds him, who he's been associated with, and his tax returns because that is the only way we can get down to the bottom line. thank you, and i yield back. >> mr. chairman, i have a unanimous consent request. >> all right. go ahead. >> i ask unanimous concept that we read into the -- for the record a tweet from dr. darryl scott, which says, michael cohen asked, no, begged me repeatedly, to ask potus to give him a job in the administration. he's still lying under oath. i ask unanimous concept. >> no objection. >> i have one more, getting sick watching these hearings. i know michael cohen personally for many years and he told smefrl times he was very angry and upset he didn't get a post in the white house and that he, quote, would do what he has to do now to protect his family, close quote. i ask --
>> thank you. >> we have other ones. we're going to do you and then the other ones at the end because i have some things too. >> i ask unanimous concept that an article in "salon" magazine written by stanley brand, former house counsel to tip o'neill, titled of the article is oversight committee session with michael cohen looks like an illegitimate show hearing. >> so ordered. >> i ask unanimous concept a letter mr. meadows and i sent to you the chairman requesting that you call deputy attorney general rod rosenstein be part of this hearing. >> part of the record. >> mr. chairman, can i respond? >> just one second, all right? the article by mr. brand, i just want to deal with this right away. when we saw that article, mr. ranking member, we knew that it was inaccurate. let me just on basics, that the
cases that mr. brand used are definitely distinguishable for what's going on here. so we got irving b. nathan, former general counsel of the house from 2007 to 2010 and says in short the committee has ample jurisdiction and responsible to the outcoming testimony of mr. cohen, dated september 25th to 2019 and i want to enter that into record. without objection. so ordered. where are we? miss oscasio-cortez. >> must, mr. chair. mr. cohen, i would like to pick up on previous lines of questioning before getting into my own. so i may go a little quickly to get it in, in five minutes. first my colleague from vermont asked several questions about ami, and the parent company of
the "national enquirer." in that you mentioned a, quote, treasure trove of documents in david pecker's office related to information assembled from all of these catch-and-kill operations from people who potentially had damaging information on the president. you also mentioned that the president was very concerned about the whereabouts of these documents and who possessed them. does that treasure trove of documents still exist? >> i don't know. i asked david pecker for them. >> you would say the person who knows the whereabouts of these documents would be david becker? >> david pecker, barry levine or dylan howard. >> thank you. secondly, i want to ask a little bit about your conversation with my colleague from missouri about acid inflation. to your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to insurance companies? >> yes. >> who else knows that the president did this? >> allen weisselberg, ron lieberman and matthew calamari. >> where would the committee
find more information on this? do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns to compare them? >> yes, and you would find it at the trump board. >> thank you very much. the last thing here, the trump golf organization are currently has a golf course in my home borough of the bronx, trump links. drive past it every day going between the bronx and queens. in fact, "the washington post" reported on the trump links bronx course in an article entitled "taxpayers built this new york golf course and trump reaps the rewards." that article where many new yorkers and many in the country learned that taxpayers spent $127 million to build trump links in a, quote, generous deal allowing president trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on the golf course built through public funds. and it doesn't seem to be the only time the president had benefited at the expense of the public.
mr. cohen, i want to ask you about your assertion the president may have improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes. according to an august 21, 2016 report by "the washington post," while the president claimed in fm disclosure forms that trump national golf club in jupiter, florida, was worth more than $50 million, he had reported otherwise to local tax authorities that the course was worth, quote, no more than $5 million. mr. cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate? >> it's identical to what he did at trump national golf club and briarcliff manner. >> to your knowledge was the president interested in reducing his local real estate bills, tax bills? >> yes. >> how do you do that? >> what you do is deflate the value of the asset and put in a request to the tax department for a deduction. >> thank you.
now, in october 2018, "the new york times" revealed that, quote, president trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud that greatly increased the fortunes he received from his parents. it furnl stated from mr. trump, quote, he also helped form late a strategy to under value his parents real estate holdings on hundreds of millions of dollars, when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings. mr. cohen, do you know whether that specific report is ak sp t accurate? >> i don't. i wasn't there in 1990. >> who would know the answer to that? >> allen weisselberg. >> would it help for the committee to obtain frahm state tax returns to address that? >> i believe so. >> thank you very much. i yield the rest of my time to the chair. >> miss pressley.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. one more time, mr. chairman, i just want to thank you for your leadership and the way in which you comport yourself. i know there are some would have you believe the more you say something, the more true it is. but in fact this committee thanks to your leadership and democratic majority has been doing the work of the american people. before this committee alone, we looked at the issue of making election day a federal holiday, reducing drug pricing and pursued subpoenas to reunite families and just recently before we returned here, tried to pass a universal background check gun bill. so we're doing the business of the american people, including today. it has been said that the best sunlight, sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants. electric light is the most efficient policemen. well, let there be light. because the point of oversight is for us to pursue the trust to
pursue the truth and justice for the american people, to understand if lies, deceit and corruption are threatening american democracy, and indeed our safety. mr. chairman, charities should not be abused as personal piggy banks. it is both against the law and extremely unfair to charities that play by the rules. a line of questioning that we have not yet addressed and have been glaringly absent in tackling is that of the abuses of the trch foundation. the president's charitable foundation agreed to resolve in response to an ongoing investigation and lawsuit by the new york attorney general. the new york attorney general found what it called, quote, clear and repeated violations of state and federal law including, quote, repeated and willful self-dealing by the trump administration -- apologies, by the foundation. if i understand your statement in mid-2013 you arranged for a straw purchaser to bid $50,000 for a portrait of mr. trump
painted by the artist william quigley at a charity auction, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> why would the president want to bid up the price of something he was ultimately paying for? >> it was all about ego. >> how was it paid for? >> i believe it was paid for by a check from the trust. how was? >> i believe by a check from the trust? >> an abuse that, again, this is not a partisan pursuit here, i think ultimately we're demonstrating patriotism. did the funds reimburse the straw purchaser? can you explain the mechanics of that payment? >> i'm not involved with the foundation. >> did the president know what was happening? >> yes. >> how did you know? >> he tasked me to find the straw bidder to ensure that his painting which was going last in the auction would go for the highest amount of any of the paintings on the auction block
for the day. >> what happened to the painting? >> i believe it is in a club. >> atoccording to the attorney general, he paid $10,000 in another painting that ended up as decor in another golf club. are you aware of any instance where it was used to benefit the trump family. >> there was a contract that i ended up creating on mr. trump's behalf for what is a ukrainian oligarch. and it was that mr. trump was asked to come into participate in what was the ukrainian american economic forum. unfortunately he wasn't able to go but i was able to negotiate 15 minutes by skype where they would have a camera like a television camera, and they
would translate mr. trump to the questioner and he would respond back. and i negotiated a fee of $150,000 for 15 minutes. i was directed by mr. trump to have the contract done in the name of the donald j. trump foundation. as opposed to donald j. trumpre. >> thank you, any other abuses of the law? >> not at this time, but if i think of one i will -- >> for the balance of my time, would you agree that someone could deny a rental unit to african-americans, have the birther movement, refer to african countries at shit hole
countries, have a black friend and still be racist? >> i agree, yes. >> mr. chairman i have two unanimous consent since we're finishing up, before we get done i want to go ahead and -- >> just give me one second. i just want to mrs. talib. they have been waiting all day. >> thank you for centering this committee on our soul purpose as exposing the truth. some of my colleagues cannot handle the truth and it is unfortunate because it is the center of what is protecting our country right now. the people at home are frustrated and they want criminal schemes to stop, especially those from the oval office. mr. cohen i'm upset and know my residents feel the same way. the man you worked for is using the most powerful position in
the world for personal gain. some of our so disconnected on what it means to have this president sending checks for bribe payments. two after he was sworn in as president. they are upset that while my colleagues are trying to discredit your testimony by some of your own unlawful acts and lies they're disconnected with the fact that you were the personal lawyer for this president of the united states that this president chose you as his legal council. my stance has always been the same, mr. chairman, based on the facts not on future reports that we're all waiting on. my residents don't need a collusion cause to know this president has disregarded the law of the land, the united states constitution and he
misused his pardon powerpowers. in the sentencing memo filed in new york in december of last year, they stated "in particular as cohen himself have now committed he acted in coordination with individual number one." you know president donald j. trump brand comes first, not the american people. based on what you know now, what we know now, is that individual one used his businesses and platforms to enrich his brand and directed you to commit multiple felons and you covered it up, correct? >> that's correct. >> you called it protecting his brand, correct? >> and him as well. >> mr. cohen with this do you think the president of the united states is making decisions in the best interest of the american people?
>> no, i don't. >> especially those you said that he used horrible words about like african-americans, muslim americans, and i'm gra-- immigrants. >> just to note just because someone has a person of color working for them does not mean they are not racist, and it is insensitive that some would say -- the fact that someone would use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, that is alone racist in itself. donald trump is setting -- >> mr. chairman i ask that her words be taken down. >> i reclaim my time, donald trump is setting a precedent that the highest office can be -- >> mr. chairman, the rules are clear. >> cover up and hold on to business assets to break campaign finance laws and constitutional claudes. we have criminal conduct and the
pursuit of the highest public office by mr. cohen and individual one. i hope the gravity of the situation hitting everyone in this body. >> mr. chairman, i ask that her words be taken down. if anyone knows my record as it relates it should be you, mr. chairman. >> i want the words read back. we want to know exactly what she said about the colleague -- >> excuse me, would you like to rephrase that statement mrs. tlalib? >> thank you, i can read it from here. just to make a note, mr. chairman, that just because someone has a personal of color, a black person, working for them
does not mean they're ray sis and it is insensitive that someone would say say it is racist in itself and to use a black woman as a prop to prove it otherwise. and i can submit this for the record if a college ague -- tha what i believe to have happened. as a person of color on this committee, that is what i believe. i'm not calling mr. meadows array cya racist for doing that. but i believe it is a racist act. >> i need to be clear -- >> i have defended you -- >> mr. meadows! i'm the chair. >> yes you are. >> thank you, i will clear this up. i want to make sure i understand. you were not intending to call mr. meadows a racist, is that correct? >> no, i do not call mr. meadows
a racist. i'm trying as a person of color, mr. chairman, to express myself and how i felt at that moment. just for the record, that is what was my intention. >> mr. meadows. >> mr. chairman there is nothing more personal to me than my relationship, my nieces and nephews are people of color. not many people know that. you know that, mr. chairman. and to indicate that i ask someone who is a personal friend of the trump family, who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual, that she is coming in to be a prop, it is racist that i suggest her to come in for that reason? mr. -- the president's own person, she is a family member, she loves this family, she came in because she felt like the
president of the united states was getting falsely accused. and mr. chairman you and i have a personal relationship that is not based on color. and to even go down this direction is wrong, mr. chairman. >> first of all, i want to thank the gentleman for what you have stated. if there is anyone who is sensitive with regard to race, it's me. sharecroppers that were basically slaves. i get it. i listened very carefully to mrs. tlalib, and i think she said she was not calling a racist. i thought that we could clarify that. because mr. meadows you know and of all of the peo