tv MSNBC Live With Velshi and Ruhle MSNBC August 24, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT
ali velshi may want to chat with you about all of this. david, thanks for rolling with the punches there. and same tamara and zeke. that does it for us on what was a fast friday hour. ali velshi, i'm happy to hand it over to you because i have to race back to the white house. >> that could be the title of your autobiography, i wasn't expecting to talk about that. we'll see you at the white house. have a great rest of your morning. good morning, i'm ali velshi, it is friday, august 24. let's get smarter. >> bombshell in the michael cohen investigation, the publisher of the "national enquire enquirer", close friend of president trump's granted imhunity and now imhun i imhunity and he is sharing information. >> david pecker would take care of his friends. if you were a buddy of his, he
would look out for you and use his ability to squash those kind of stories. >> perk kept documents related to hush money payments locked up in a not so secret safe in his office. according to the associated press. >> this is the new york "post," what's in the safe? inquiring minds want to know. >> new legal troubles for the president. the manhattan d.a. reportedly eyeing criminal charges against the trump organization. >> they don't want to get in front of robert mueller on this, mess up a federal investigation. >> i put in an attorney general that never took control of the justice department, jeff sessions. never took control. >> the feud between the president and attorney general jeff sessions is escalating this morning. in a new fiery defeatweet, mr. sarcastically quoting sessions' statement which says that the justice department will not be politically influenced. mr. trump adding to that jeff, this is great, what everyone wants. so look into all of the
corruption on the other side. adding, come on, jeff, you can do it. the country is waiting. >> to continue to criticize the attorney general i think makes the president appear weak if in fact there is displeasure in his service, then he has an obligation from my perspective to make a change. >> it would be a very, very, very bad idea to fire the attorney general because he's not executing his job as a political hack. >> after the election, i think there will be some serious discussions about a new attorney general. >> mr. giuliani, is it inevitable that president trump will be itch peae impeached? >> i think it is inevitable that he wouldn't. >> prosecutors are digging in to police lif his before, his businesses, thi charities. fix we have breaking news that along time trump organization
chief financial officer allen weisselberg was given immunity by federal prosecutors in new york during the course of the michael cohen investigation, that is according to a person with knowledge of the matter. weisselberg is also the treasurer of the donald j. trump foundation. cohen says he spoke to weisselberg about buying the rights to karen mcdougal's story. the "new york times" citing two officials reports his family company could be the next target of a criminal investigation. the stunning news comes as the president's former lawyer michael cohen awaits sentencing after stating in open court that he was directed to commit willful violations of campaign finance law by then candidate trump. and it is not just the president. but his children could be in jen arrest did i. let's take a look at how this money was funneled through cohen. according to the criminal information, which michael cohen admitted in court is true, the lawyer paid stormy daniels $130,000 through you a wire
transfer on october 27th, 2016 for the principal purpose of influencing the election. if there is nothing else from this last year, this last week, that you've paid attention to, it should be this sentence, for the principal purpose of influencing the election. and at the direction of the candidate, cohen said in court. on november 1, just days before the election, daniels' lawyer sent back to cohen a non-disclosure agreement, nda, to ensure her silence. the "wall street journal" reported on the payment but without everyone talking, the story flew just under the radar and donald trump was elected president. as the president-elect was preparing for the inauguration, michael cohen submitted a bill to trump organization executives itemizing the hush money, 9 tth $130,000, a $35 wire transfer fee and $50,000 listed as tech services. we're still trying to find on out what this is about.
we don't know for sure. the executives decided to gross up cohen's $180,000 for tax purposes. if he had to have made more than that for it to make sense. so a grand total of $420,000 to be paid out bit by bit every on the next year. to help choen hide the trail, cohen submitted a fake invoice on valentine's day 20 on 17 listed as a retainer for services to a person named in the criminal information as executive number one. nbc news has now confirmed this executive number one is trump organization cfo allen weisselberg, the man who has just been given immunity. weisselberg forwarded the fake invoice to executive number two, who approved the payment, which executive one then arched. over the course of 2017, cohen submitted more fake invoices,
each month, he was paid $35,000 from the president's company. the "new york times" notes that the penalty to making a false business entry with intent to defraud is a misdemeanor. but if it is done to commit or conceal another crime, which is what michael cohen has said it was done for, then it is a felony. and an attorney for on the trump organization has desclclined to comment on nbc news on this. i want to bring in our intelligence and national security reporter ken delaney into this conversation. f tom winters is also with us. harry lippman is also with us. let's start with you, tom. allen weisselberg, you and i have talked about him a lot what does this news mean to you? >> what it means to me is this. and right now the u.s. attorney's office is not commenting on this and they are not talking about it, but what i understand is that allen weisselberg was given immunity, is part of the investigation
in into pin michael cohen. as part of that investigation, they were able to speak with him and presumably get information from him and offer him obviously if he had some sort of legal concerns of his own, they were going to say you know what, you don't need to have those concerns because obviously we'll offer you you some -- >> so we don't know that any legal concerns he had had to do specifically with donald trump or whatever the case is, but prosecutors said -- >> i'm so glad that you said that. because what his legal concerns could be his own legal concerns. and i'll highlight that. paragraph 38 r, page 17, it say an executive of the company, executive one who is allen weisselberg, first of his monthly invoices requesting purchase support to this retainer agreement payment for services rendered for the month of january and february. except to those services were not legal services, this was all part of a plan to pay back michael cohen for his payment to
stormy daniels. and later on we see in that paragraph this executive one who is allen weisselberg forward the invoice to another company executive and said hey, go ahead and pay this on out and pay the legal expenses and puts it retainer for january and february. weisselberg may have had legal concerns that if he marked this the way that he marked it, he was concealing what it really was, which was a payment back to michael cohen for the payment to stormy daniels. i know at this point it feels like we need a roadmap, but essentially here allen weisselberg directed and it appears that they have some sort of a message here because they are quoting it here in the criminal information is that michael cohen pled guilty to, that they have some information about what it was that allenact. so it is our understanding that weisselberg has been 2k3wi6aeee immunity into the investigation in michael cohen. what is difficult to ascertain, was this backwards or forwards looking immunity. let me put that in better
english. was it purely for on the purpose of helping them investigate michael cohen up to an indictment or a plea agreement as we now have, or is this something where they will use him for other information going forward. right now we don't know that. so that is an important distinction. >> only regular people need a roadmap, we have tom winter. harry lippman, let me ask you, one doesn't need to be a lawyer, one only needs to watch mob movies to understand that the money guy is the one that you need and you want. it could have occurred to me that weisselberg is so deeply entrenched in everything that donald trump has done for decades that i would want -- there is a lot of juice to squeeze out of that orange. would the prosecutors -- would the southern district of new york have known that going into this offering this guy immunity? do they give up too much offering him immunity because they need something on michael
cohen? >> it is a great question. first, balan gallons to squeeze weisselberg. he is the cfo, neck deep in all the goings on on over the last many years and he has a specific problem he needs immunity for, he is the one who signs off and characterizes this as a legal expenditure which it isn't. so he is not just the green shade guy. he needs immunity and did they give up too much? they gave up a lot, but it shows how much they want. there are conflagrations now breaking out all over the president and this is a very big one. they don't like giving out immunity like candy. he was able to say look, i'm not going to talk and i'm going to at that time fifth amendme take the fifth amendment unless you give me immunity. and in their calculations, they had bigger fish to fry, namely michael cohen and i think the
president of the united states and that is why the immunity to him and to david pecker. it is a very big development and especially the grant of immunity for someone who otherwise could have been prosecuted shows that they have cohen but beyond cohen square in their sights. >> is there nobody yahere negot had if the prosecutors don't feel that he is telling them everything they need to know, can they do more to him? >> 100%. so the negotiations actually take place first. we'll give you immunity, now you must tell us everything and you have no fifth amendment right because we have made this not a criminal matter for you anymore. he may not hold back. he won't hold back. and they can ask him anything they want. what he has immunity for is the things that he testifies about. >> ken, in the information from which tom winter was just reading, and what i laid out at the top of the show, we have
executive one and executive two. we believe executive one isweis. do we know who executive two is and why would they be outlined that way in the information? >> we don't know, but the justice kedepartment has a practice of not naming people in indictments and criminal information if they are not charged. but let me just pull back the camera wlens a litt camera lens a little bit. because i think the viewers are wondering what does it mean for donald trump. it means the walls are closing in on him. robert mueller is tasked with investigating russia collusion. the fact rod rosenstein handed this investigation off to the southern district of new york now means that they are rooting around in matters that have nothing to do with russian collusion but seem deeply threatening too th ining to thi. what if rchl ruobert mueller ru across other crimes that have nothing to do with russia? now you have the southern
district of new york and according to the "new york times" the manhattan district attorney launching their own criminal probe on these dealings that don't have anything to do with russia, but appear to be in this case a criminal scheme to make illegal campaign contributions. it is hugely significant, deeply dangerous for donald trump. >> back to the roadmap. tom, i have in my hand a document from the attorney general of the state of new york versus donald trump, ivanka trump, eric trump, donald jr. and the donald j. trump foundation. >> i think you have the deposition. >> yes. and when we talk about federal immunity for allen weisselberg, the fact that weisselberg has his fingers in a lot of trump p pies, is he protected from the state of new york? >> i would have to look and since we don't know, it is difficult because the u.s. attorney's office for the seventh district of new york is not commenting and they can't guidance into this. so difficult to know --
>> huow encompassing the deal i. >> right, because it may extend to other investigations, it may only extend to federal investigations. so right now that is just something that we need to get more information about. i would caution a little bit -- >> there is a legal answer. >> go ahead, harry. >> i just think of the castegard case. he will have immunity for the very things he testifies to, not less, not more. so the states can't come in -- >> so the immunity is around the tch testimony. so you can't take the same testimony and charge him with state crimes based on that testimony. >> correct. >> so would he be considering making a separate deal with the state of new york? because the state of new york is very interested in the trump foundation and what they have done wrong. and part of the reason it is interesting is because these are
all ways that people can get at donald trump's tax returns. right? somebody wants to get at those tax return and a lawsuit of the foundation is a way on to get to that. >> i totally agree. there is a sense that the dam is breaking and people are rushing in from all sides. yes, he will have to make a deal with the state of new york if he is subject to criminal penalties under state laws that are constructed not based on his testimony. everybody who is around trump now and has been over the last ten years intimately is in a world of hurt with legal battles on all sides. and all of these provide leverage and pressure on trump himself. if the organization goes down, it is terrible for him. if all his people are put under pressure and tell the secrets they know, it is terrible for him. there is a real sense that the
criminal justice system is fighting back after many, many months of not having responded to his sort of outrages. >> ken makes some great points. harry has made some good points as well. certainly allen weisselberg is a very key figure in the trump organization orbit. but i do want to remember for the purposes of this discussion, we're talking about immunity in what he said was tied to the investigation into michael cohen. so at this point we have no indication that there is any sort of a federal probe in new york that is extending beyond michael cohen at this point. in was a very specific referral from the special counsel's office to southern district, an investigation coordinated with them. should other things have come up in the course of the investigation, remember they seized millions of items of evidence from michael cohen and each individual page or text is given an item. but still it is a lot of material. if other things came out of that, that is something that we'll have on watch in the
upcoming days and months. but for right now -- >> certainly. employing care in the detail that we bring to this reporting is crucial. it is not all one thing. and we thank you and harry and ken for being very specific in what we talk about. guy, please stay there. we have other news that makes me very sad to deliver, but it is news on the health of senator john mccain. brand new information about his treatment for brain cancer, the details are coming up after this quick break. ♪
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we have breaking news sand i -- and i'm sad to deliver. last summer senator john mccain shared with americans the news our family already knew, he had been diagnosed with anigiing a gragrees sif geo blastoma. the progress of the disease and age rendered their verdict. with his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment. our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year. and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from john's many friends and associates and the many thousands keeping him in their prayers. god bless and thank you all. with me now is someone who knows john mccain better than most, kelly o'donnell who covered the senator's 2008 presidential campaign. kelly, it didn't really matter where you are on the political
spectrum or whether you've been on the same side as john mccain or against him, there are few who don't have respect for this man's courage of his convictions, not just on the political stage and in his service to the country, but as a real american hero. >> and that has been enlarged over the 13 months since his diagnosis was made public. y july 19 of 2017 with this aggressive form of cancer. and this guy ligtwilight of his has been an opportunity for him to reflect on his service to the country and for him to hear and receive praise from people across the political spectrum, among his closest friends joe biden whose own son succumbed to the same form of cancer, previously ted cakennedy who al had the same form of cancer. senator john mccain is someone i've known for 22 years. first meeting him when he was sort of the candidate's pal on the road for the bob dole campaign and then have covered him for all the years since. and i've gotten to know his
family as well. he is of course beloved by his wife cindy who he has been married to since 1980, seven children, there are grandchildren. and a very broad community of people who have admired him. of course he became a public figure as a young man because he was the son of the leading admiral running the pacific command during vietnam when john mccain was himself an aviator and became a police they arisonr 5 1/2 years. and he had the opportunity to be released early, but followed the code and opted to stay in captivity in the order in which the prisoners of war were taken. that defined a lot of his public service. but he would often say to me, kelly, i've been this public life for decades since then, i have done more things than be a prisoner of war. but it was a formative part of his public persona.
and this indicate that's is in the final stages of his illness. it is not a surprise that they would reach a decision where there would be a point of ending treatment. i have been told by people close to him that the cancer itself had actually receded and this is the ravages of the disease more broadly. notably i had been looking forward to his 82nd birthday which is next week. that also marks ten years since as a candidate he announced sarah palin as his running mate when we were covering the campaign this dayton, ohio. a decade since his candidacy. in the years since losing that presidential election to barack obama, he remained a major national voice on matters of national security, continues to this day as the chairman of the armed services committee, and the recent pass anxioage ever o national defense authorization october is named in his honor. he is a friend to many.of the national defense authorization october is named in his honor. he is a friend to many.
he made fun of us at times, jabbed with us, but we enjoyed covering. of course i'm standing in the white house and it is notable that president trump has had a long contentious and critical public commentary about john mccain. that does not have any impact today when his family is releasing this statement and acknowledging that he is choosing to not continue treatment. john mccain is someone who is admired by many even if not the current president of the united states. certainly the vice president has been very supportive, mike pence. >> you named a particular act that was named after him, the president delivered a spieech, and didn't use john mccain's name at all. but the president who does bring up john mccain or makes reference to him usually negatively in some of these speeches, it didn't seem to hurt or affect john mccain. john mccain is a man of principal. he has been a thorn in the sides of many in his own party and other party, but seems to be governed at least politically by a higher calling.
he does what he believes is proper, what he believes is just. and what he believes is in the interest of his constituents. and again, he has had political enemies, maybe more than most-of- >> he's been controversial at times for certain. >> he doesn't test the wind. he doesn't say what would be the preliminarily expedient thing to say. >> there are been times on immigration that he was politically expedient. when i would challenge him on that, he would say he who had often been trying to bring about reform in a broadway, comprehensive reform and that failed, that also advocated strongly for building the southern border wall, he would say his state has changed, times have changed and he needed to adjust to that. so there are times that people said he was not conservative enough and people hot tempered to work about, but there were also people who admired and continue to mire his public service. also his sons have served in the military, his son who bears his name is still active duty.
and the mccain family has done a lot for public service and certainly as have others who have gone through this sort of extreme cancer experience. they have tried to be a voice for those who have suffered as we saw the kennedy family, the biden family, many others who are touched by cancer. this particular virulent form of cancer has been difficult. so hard to talk about it today because he has been a friend for a long time. also important that this is a statement saying that he is ending treatment. we don't really know what the state of his prognosis in terms of what comes next, but certainly the family making the statement is very notable so we wanted to acknowledge that and certainly wish him well. >> and of course a long time victim of torture, he was steadfastly against enhanced interrogation, waterboarding and torture. of course. we'll stay of course very close to the story and our thoughts are with senator john mccain. yet more breaking news, long time trump organization chief financial officer allen
weisselberg was given immunity by federal prosecutors during the course of the michael cohen investigation according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter. cohen was former personal attorney, he pleaded guilt on tuesday to eight counts of tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance lagsviolations. company men says he spoke tois wou buysleburg about buying the rights to karen mcdougal's story, but the man who bought the story is david pecker, head of the "national enquirer." we've learned that pecker kept a safe with documents could i t d hush money payments to porn stars right before the location. and get this, keeraccording to associated press, pecker has other damaging stories on the president. and he was granted immunity by federal prosecutors after being
implicated in campaign finance violations by michael cohen. it is unknown if pecker is cooperating with prosecutors as part of the immunity from prosecution, but it is sure to concern the president as he deals with the fallout from cohen's admissions to prosecutors in manhattan. and the recordings that they seized, including one of trump and cohen seemingly doesiscussi repayment of pecker to cohen paid to a playboy model. >> i need to open up the company for the transfer of all the info. you never know where that company -- you never know what he's -- >> maybe he gets hit by a truck. >> correct. so i'm all over that. >> joining me live is michael avenatti, attorney for stormy daniels. michael, good to talk to you. i heard you saying the other day tuesday evening after this news broke with michael cohen that the likelihood of you being able to depose the president and the likelihood of your civil suit
succeeding is exknoponentially e as a result. what does it mean to you the immunity of alle >> well, this is another domino to fall in this process. and you know, with each passing 24 hour period, we're seeing more and more dominos begin to fall. and the world around donald trump and his criminal enterprise crumbling frankly. there is no question that this is going to further our case. our case has come a long way in the last week. we always believed that it was very strong. but there is little question at this point how strong it is. and i think all of these developments are very positive for us and very negative for donald trump. >> i want to remind people there is a civil case, it was put on
hold because of the impending indictment of michael cohen, which has now happened. so what happens? does your case move forward now and do you think that you are going to be able to cross-examine donald trump, because it is not a criminal indictment, and if so where does that lead? >> so september 10th we'll be making an application in open court to have the stay in our case lifted. and we will then be seeking to have our pending motion which seeks a deposition of michael cohen and donald trump, we'll be seeking to have that ruled on by the judge in los angeles. i believe the likelihood of us getting a deposition of michael cohen is near 100%. and i believe the likelihood of us getting a deposition of donald trump is significantly higher than 50%. and we'll seek to depose each
about what they knew, what the communications were, what they did about it, what the president did to cover it up, what his involvement has been. >> and other than the damages you where seeking, what remains to be learned now that michael cohen has pleaded guilty to paying stormy daniels money with the intent of influencing the election and that donald trump on fox admitted that he reimbursed michael cohen, what is it that you still want to hear from donald trump and want the country to know about donald trump? >> well, we're seeking to invalidate the nda on the grounds set forth in our complain complaint. the chief ground is that it was a violation of campaign finance law. so we want a judicial finding that that agreement is void for among other reasons the reason that it was a violation of campaign finance law and done in a direct manner to influence the election in violation of that law. and we want to prove that
through the testimony of michael cohen, and also the testimony of donald trump. we want to actually try that issue. we want a judicial finding. and in order to get that, we'll need the testimony of donald trump and he will have to take a position as to the purpose of the agreement and he will either have to admit it or positive i.t. on it, either way he will be in a bad spot. >> and what does a bad spot look like? if donald trump is forced to admit what i think most thinking people in america know and that is he directed michael cohen to make a payment to stormy daniels for the purpose of gluiinfluenc the elect, what does success look like to you that the point? a judicial finding that the president is liable and criminally responsible for this? because we're not sure that he can be indicted. >> well, a determination as to on whether he is criminally liable would not be in our case
because our case is a civil case. but that judicial finding would go a long way towards establishing that there is like likely criminal liability by donald trump or of donald trump. >> and so you are -- is it your contention that if you get that much further, if you get further in this, you get michael cohen's testimony, you get the details, you get the nda invalidated, the facts of the case come forward in detail and donald trump either has to fight you or admit it and is then found at least responsible in the civil case, that it leads to something that the rest of the country will find satisfying? >> i certainly hope so. there is no question that we've been at the forefront of this thing now for six months or more. and that our efforts have gone a long way, tremendous way, to putting us in the position that
we are in. as well as towards disclosing what has been disclosed thus far. and we have a lot of additional information yet to dischose. we're in the second quarter of a four quarter game. we're far from over. >> but things got a lot better for you this week. >> no question they got a lot better. it is nice to be valley dated. it is nice when you have one of the defendants in your case stand up in open court and 34r50ed guiltydated. it is nice when you have one of the defendants in your case stand up in open court and 34r50ed guilty plead guilty to many of the allegations we made six months ago. >> are you fascinated by the agree to which the president and rudy giuliani have continued to try to spin facts that just make them look worse and worse at each point, but somehow it still doesn't get down to, yeah, we did something one? >> actually i'm disgusted by it. i'm insulted. i think it is an insult to the american people. i think that donald trump's statements, the fox news
yesterday were a disgrace to have the president of the united states basically talk about the fact that people should not to the right thing and come forward and, quote, flip, close quote, on other individuals. i think that is disgust being. i think it shows an absolute lack of respect for the law. and to have the president of the united states make those statements i think is an outrage. to have rudy giuliani continue to go on television and outright lie and make statements that he knows to be absolutely false in defense of the president, i think that is equally disgusting. >> might have been and he will, let me ask you about the immunity agreements with david pecker. i know the david pecker case doesn't concern you all that much, but with allen weisselberg, who may be relevant to it because trump money seems to always have gone through or at least passed al when wiselen wiseleburg's desk. does it help or hurt you these guys are getting federal immunity? >> i think it helps us.
little question about that. it is very interesting that immunity has been granted to these individual, especially weisselberg. because here is what we need to focus on. the question is when this immunity was granted. if immunity was granted to mr. weisselberg late in the process, and it appears that it was, that is very telling. why is that? it is telling because at that point prosecutors likely already had all of the information and evidence that they needed to proceed with the prosecution of michael cohen. the only reason then that they would give immunity to mr. weisselberg is if they were looking beyond michael cohen. they would need potentially his testimony and cooperation to look at someone else higher up the food chain if you will. there is only one person that that is likely to be, and that is donald trump. i think it is important for people to understand, immunity
is not easily given by the government in connection with a case like this. that is a very big decision, they do not part with immunity lightly. and they only do it generally if they have a concrete reason for granting it. so both pecker's grant of immunity and weisselberg's grant of immunity tells me that there are a lot of fireworks ahead. >> somewhere you talked to your client, stormy daniels, in the last few days and how does she feel about this? >> i communicate with my client two or three times a day every day seven days a week and have done so for six months. i've spoken to her already twice this morning. and with each passing hour, she feels more and more vindicated. >> no kidding. michael, good to talk to you. thank you for joining us. joining me now, gabe sherman, back with us ken dilanian and also harry lippman.
the "national enquirer" has been weirdly supportive of donald trump. and this is sort of 17th century or 18th century style support from a newspaper if you can call it that. david pecker really savaged people that he saw as enemies of donald trump. take a look at some of these covers that we're showing. hillary framed trump family, obama's secret plot to impeach trump, ted cruz fall linked to jfk assassination. crazy stuff. but even if people didn't buy them, lots of people saw them. give your perspective on what the immunity deal for david pecker and what we seem to know that david pecker has in his safe means. >> well, this is a relationship that i actually have been writing about for years. i covered the 2016 presidential
campaign and in 2015, i wrote about how donald trump aides had provided damaging material about ben carson to the "national enquirer" that found its way into theis something that donald trump used to punish his rivals. the fact that david pecker was given immunity to me is significant because clearly david pecker saw that he potentially had criminal exposure here for acting not as a media organization which has significant first amendment protections, but as an arm of the donald trump campaign for explicitly burying, buying and catching and killing these stories that would have hurt donald trump's chances of becoming president. so the fact that he cooperated with prosecutors and corroborated michael cohen's account that donald trump knew about the stormy daniels payment to me is significant. i just want to point out one other thing. during watergate, a lot of people focused on the break-in, but watergate as we've come to learn was a host of other
nefarious and dirty tricks that richard nixon and his cronies did. and this investigation is just more evidence that this is not just about russia, donald trump is now under siege on multiple criminal levels. >> so this is interesting. l let's go back to this. trump and giuliani say it is a witch hunt and nothing to do with collusion. whether you believe that or on not, what you are finding out is that donald trump lies with a lot of people who has fleas. and that is in the national interest to find out, but it may not be part of what the mueller investigation was set out to do. donald trump seems to be involved with a lot of people who are involved with dirty dealings. >> and dating quite back a long way. i think trump and giuliani's protests at this point have to be dismissed of al lisz ice in wonderland crazy statements. but going back to mueller, basically now mueller himself i
think has alleged three broad conspiracies. one is this campaign finance stormy daniels stuff, one is the hacking, and one is the getting of dirt on hillary clinton. and cohen apparently difficulco the president to all three, at least that is what lanny davis has now said. so true there are many brush fires all around the president on civil and criminal matters and different stoauthorities. but also with choen over this last week, there is the prospect of a direct linkage of all the main work, the three basic crimes that mueller is pursuing all coming home to roost at the president's feet via initially anyway michael cohen. >> gabe, let's talk about david pecker and dylan howard, editor-in-chief of the "national enquirer." they were both very close to the
president. one would assume that they were staying very close to the president and all of a sudden we hear about this immunity agreement. do we know what has happened, have they turned on the president, are they no longer chums? what happens to that safe of goods that david pecker has on donald trump, does that make it into the hands of authorities? reason i ask you this, i had the former president of national quier here tqui choirer here who said that they have the right to like or lisk the president and catch and kill stories. >> as i reported yesterday according to people very close to david pecker and dylan howard, pehowar howard, pecker and donald trump have not spoken for eight months. so i think that is reflective of a relationship that has clearly broken down as the national inquirer's legal troubles have mournt mounted, pecker has distanced himself from donald trump. and according to someone who spoke directly with dylan
howard, i was told mr. howard is very frustrated and unhappy at the way that he and his boss have been dragged into this legal mess that they were enlisted to protect donald trump's presidential campaign and now have been ensnared in a whole host of investigations and questions by federal authorities. so i would say that based on my reporting, this is a pretty clear portrait of a relation shape that is no is no longer w was. >> and may i add something to that, we hear about this a lot, things have frosted over. actually i think pecker's down would have advised him and trump's should have that you may not talk to him, because anything you say, that will bes first question that you sit down and you will be sat down on. when did the president talk to you and what did he say. so even if they were warm as can be and normal guests at each other's homes --
>> they would have reason not to be talking. >> that's right. he would be told by lawyer. and the second quick thing, i think that little colloquy from trump where it says allen could be hit by a bus, it suggests years of cozy relationships where you could look to allen and that could go by the wayside if he weren't there anymore that means that there is quite a lot over the years that perk knows about. and lastly, what does the very to say? everything. once given immunity, you sit down and he may not refuse to answer anything. so it is an open book. >> on so whso when you are give immunity, you give up your right to plead the fifth? >> exactly. because whatever you say cannot be used against you. and there is a very hide burden for procesecute toers.
it can't be used against you. so you you don't have any exposure so you must talk. >> i want to show our viewers the publications. "national enquirer," men's journal, us weekly, lots of them. only one that i really want to be on the cover of is muscle and fitness, but they haven't approached me. but here is my point. david pecker runs a media empire. do media people not have some things that they can stand behind when the law comes after you by saying we've got the fifth amendment, i have a right to be friends with whomever i wish to, i have the right to write whatever i want, and if i wanted to buy a story about karen mcdougal and not publish it, you have a right protected by the constitution? what could possibly pressure david pecker into making a deal with the feds? >> well, they do and is this going to be i think an interesting collateral part of
the investigation. this may be the death of the "national enquirer" in some way. because they have been hiding behind this first amendment privilege, but in fact they have not been acting as a true first amendment operation, but rather as a media shell. even if this were the "new york times" or "usa today," if he is separately having conversations and criminal conspiracies with trump, he has criminal exposure and we know that he is a very important part of the information with cohen is in 2015 over a year before any of this happens, he approaches cohen, does david pecker, and says we can take care of these stories that are going to happen and we will do our catch and kill. so that is arguably the inauguration of the conspiracy. and even if they were a legitimate news on organization, that would expose him to criminal liability.
>> ken, it is easy to go down all sorts of rabbit holes here. go back to 50,000 feet now. none of this would matter if there waurptsn't a guy named do trump involved. >> so we have michael cohen implicating donald trump in the crime of violating the elelaw. and prosecutors said that he directed these payments. now we learn that some of the alleged participates in the scheme have been granted immunity to testify about it. so we're all assuming and michael avenatti said that the target here is donald trump. but we should be a little sk cautious about there. this is an investigation right now about michael cohen. donald trump cannot be indicted by the process kurt tore tsecup. so that raises a lot of questions. and the u.s. attorney in the southern district appears to be reduced from this investigation, but all these people ultimately
work for the president. so at what point will there be calls for a special counsel to look into this matter of whether donald trump violated the campaign laws or committed other crimes? will there be a congressional committee that investigates this? because right now the senate intelligence committee is not touching the michael cohen stuff at all my sources tell me. that is beyond their mandate. so where is this going, if there is accountability needed to be brought to the president over this scheme, how will that happen? we don't know yet. and then the other question is, if weisselberg has other information to give about donald trump, he has been the long time bookkeeper, he knows where all the bodies are buried, where will that go? how will that be extracted and will the southern district of new york conduct a further investigation. >> it is remarkably interesting stuff. gabe, your final comments about american media and the "national enquirer" and the idea that for centuries in this country and others, publications have been
taking the sides of presidents. where did it cross a line into potentially being illegal. >> well, clearly i think as we were talking about earlier the coordination, the level of coordination where you have the president's personal attorney talking to the owner of this media company about a strategy to basically not publish stories but to withhold them from readers as a way to protect the president, and now we learn "the national inquirer" was reimbursed $150,000 for karen mcdougal's story, i'm not a lawyer, of course, but as the prosecutors have determined, that crosses the line from being a media organization to being part of a conspiracy and essentially a political one. and that $150,000 payment was not disclosed as a campaign expenditure. therefore it becomes a violation of campaign finance law.
and that seems to be the leverage that federal prosecutors had to get david pecker to coordinate. >> guys, thanks very much. gabe sherman, ken dilanian, harry litman. it's a complex issue, particularly for those of us who are not lawyers, to follow. but the three of you have made it a lot more understandable. other breaking news, senator john mccain is ending his treatment for brain cancer. his wife tweeted, i love my husband with all my heart, god bless everyone who has supported my husband in his journey. fellow vietnam veteran john kerry, a democrat who served with mccain in the senate, called mccain a brave man, showing us once again what the words grace and grit really mean. chuck schumer and sheldon whitehouse of rhode island both
put out statements, keeping the senator and his family in their thoughts. paul ryan tweeted john mccain personifies service to our country. these are a few and not likely the last of a growing list of thoughts of prayers and comfort being sent to the mccain family from both sides of the aisle, thanking a man who has spent his life in the service of his country. joining me now, bill kristol, founder and editor at large of "the weekly standard." bill, look, you know, kelly o'donnell pointed out earlier, mccain had a lot of political enemies. he has not always been a hero to everybody. and there are a lot of people who say, yeah, sometimes he did see which way the wind was blowing or do things that were politically expedient. but taken as a whole, this man has been a man who exemplifies service to one's country in all of the traditional ways one thinks of service to their country. >> yeah, no, absolutely. i've been a political ally of
his, but it's really beyond politics today. he knew this was coming, obviously, for the last year, but it's still a blow when you hear the statement and think about its implications. i was think about it and watching the show, talking about donald trump, "the national inquirer," michael cohen, and i thought, in a way it's a shame to have to pivot from that to discuss a man of character and courage and honor and someone i admire so much but in a way it's not so bad to have the contrast. you take a look at the rest of the news and think, what have our public officials come to, are there any standards of dignity, of honor, of behavior. >> and then you look at this man. >> and then you look at this man. maybe it's a good contrast, actually. >> he's of advanced age, he's given a lot of service to his country. but the implications, as you said, he has stood there as an example for americans to look at and in particular for republicans to look at to say, look, he has chosen in some
cases to walk his own path against the will of other members of his party and in many cases against the will of this president. >> and the example stands. it's funny, kelly was talking about the occasional compromises of john mccain. he himself then denounced himself or acknowledged the mistakes he made, the compromises he made under pressure, that he felt he shouldn't have. they were very minor, god knows, in the general scheme of things among politicians and among people. he's lived an honorable, impressive, and admirable life. yes, maybe that example will remind all people in public and private life of certain standards of behavior that they should hold themselves too. he's such a patriot, such a romantic, as mark salter, his long time colleague put it, a romantic about america and a higher view of what america is. maybe that would be not a bad thing for people to reflect on today and in the coming days. >> john mccain is still with us
and i sometimes think those are the best moments to reflect, these are the moments to go down what i call an internet john mccain rabbit hole, to study his life. there have been moments he's been less proud of and failures in his life that he would be the first to admit. again, taken as a whole, his life to the country, if prison, tortured, his life of love and political sacrifice are something we would all gain from reading a lot about today. bill, good to see you as always, thank you very much. bill cross toll. nbc news has confirmed long time trump organization cfo allen weisselberg has been given immunity by federal prosecutors. he was also treasurer of the donald j. trump foundation. the new york state tax department is investigating that charity. joining me now is martin shield, former irs criminal investigator. martin, we have to ask you, what can weisselberg offer when it comes to trump's foundation or his company? what are investigators trying to
find out? >> thank you, ali. let me first extend my respects on behalf of all federal law enforcement to mr. mccain. he's always been a supporter of federal law enforcement as opposed to other politicians. in regard to your question, mr. weisselberg was cfo of the trump organization as well as the treasurer of the trump foundation. he's right at the heart of following the money. if we talk in terms of payments, reimbursements, invoices, fictitious invoices, and following the posting of those expenses to the books and records of the trump organization, we then want to track and see if those expenses moved on to the actual tax returns. so if you have a situation like with mr. cohen, where he was directed to provide fictitious
invoices with regard to legal fees, and those fees were then posted to the legal fee account, the question i have -- well, you have mr. weisselberg or someone else cooking the books of the trump organization. this can have tax ramifications. it could have corporate campaign contributions which are not all allowable ramifications. it could end up allowing for opening up a criminal investigation of the trump organization with regard to their corporate tax return filing as well as state tax return filing. also you have the trump foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that has a board of directors that is supposed to closely scrutinize any
disbursements of foundation assets. they're supposed to push back if someone says, like mr. trump, says, i'm going to direct the foundation disbursements to my political campaign or i'm going to take assets out of the foundation and place them in my country club. the board of directors is supposed to push back. they're not supposed to allow that to happen. so they have a fiduciary responsibility to monitor the disbursements of the foundation so that they only go to the mission of the foundation, which hopefully is for things like soldiers getting scholarships and things like that. >> and there's a suspicion that's not not happening. >> mr. weisselberg goes back so long, for so many years, he knows where the money goes and when the money comes in. the trump organization sold many, many, you know, hundreds of luxury condominiums for
millions and millions of dollars, and many of them to russian oligarch connected folks. this is the guy who's going to be able to tell us about that. a lot of these purchases were in cash. there was no mortgage, no loan. so, you know, to your viewers who are wondering, where is the russian connection? well, there is one possibility right there. >> martin, thanks for very much for that. martin sheil is a former irs criminal investigator. thank you very much, martin. and of course the news we will continue to follow is john mccain has chosen to stop his treatment for glioblastoma, brain cancer. there are a lot of messages of well-wishing coming to the mccain family. thank you for watching, i'll be back at 3:00 p.m. eastern. let's hand it over to andrea mitchell for "andrea mitchell reports." >> thank you so much, ali velshi, good day. two major developments this hour. the latest legal dilemma for
president trump, learning that allen weisselberg, long-serving cfo in the trump organization, has been given immunity in the michael cohen case. but first, john mccain has decided, along with his family, to discontinue treatment for the brain cancer that the senator has been fighting so valiantly for more than a year. this from the mccain family today. "john has surpassed expectations for his survival. but the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from john's many friends and associates, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers. god bless and thank you all." this morning on twitter from his daughter, meghan,