Skip to main content

tv   Andrea Mitchell Reports  MSNBC  November 29, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PST

9:00 am
fully with the special counsel's office, and the other big breaking news this hour is that president trump is announcing that he is not in fact going be meeting with vladimir putin on the sidelines of the g20 sideline and that is hours after the kremlin announcing that the meeting would in fact be happen i ing, and again, we will continue to closely follow the breaking news stories. andrea mitchell is picking up the news coverage right now. and right now now on "andrea mitchell reports" breaking news on all fronts. michael cohen pleading guilty to lying to congress when he denied to try to do a trump tower deal in russia in the campaign. and more breaking news from air force one just now. en route to ar jgentina, the president canceling the saturday summit with vladimir putin because of the new aggression against ukraine. and first, the president's reak sh reaction today slamming michael cohen before leaving the white house. >> he was given a fairly long jail sentence, and he is a weak
9:01 am
person. and being weak unlike the other people that you watch, and he is a weak person and what he is trying to do is to get a reduced sentence. >> the leaders of the senate intelligence committee reacting to cohen admitting that he lied to them. >> this is one more example of the president's closest allies lying a about their ties to russia and russians. >> i am -- i have not seen the specific indictment, but this is why people should not lie when they are in front of a congressional investigation. >> i'm and continuing the latest coverage of the legal blow to the president's russian investigation. michael cohen is now cooperating with the special counsel robert mueller and naming the president in court today after pleading guilty to a single count of lying to congress in the fall of 2017,ed a h mitting that he provided false statements to the
9:02 am
senate intelligence committee about the president's negotiations to build a trump tower in moscow, and cohen saying that his testimony that talks about that project had ended before the iowa caucuses were not true. and that talks about possible travel to russia on the project including with one of vladimir putin's closest aides continued until june of 2016. today's guilty plea is the first by cohen brought with by robert mueller, and the previous investigations of bank fraud and campaign violations are going to be closely working with the mueller probe. we want to bring you the highlights of the president's comments immediately after the guilty plea as the president was leaving for argentina. >> he put out a statement talking about a project which is essentially more of less of an option that we were looking at in moscow, and everybody knew about it, and we were writing about it in newspapers and well known project, and it is during
9:03 am
the early part of '16 and i guess before that. and it lasted a short period of time, and i did not do the project, and i decided not to do the project. he was convicted of various things unrelated to us. he was give anne fairly long jail sentence, and he is a weak person, and by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he sis a weak person, an what he is trying to do is to get a reduced sentence and he is lying about a project that everybody knew about it. we were open about it, and we were thinking about it, and in a form of an option or whatever you call it, and decided ultimately not to do it. it would have been nothing wrong if i did do it. i run for president, and that does not mean that i am not allowed to do business, because i was doing a lot of things when i was running. after i won, obviously, i don't do business. from january 20th, and what he is trying to do is to end, and it is very simple, he has
9:04 am
himself a big prison sentence, and he is trying to get a reduced sentence by making up a sto story. and now, here's the thing, even if he was right, it does not matter, because i was allowed to do whatever i wanted to do during the campaign. >> joining me now is nbc justice correspondent pete williams and nbc investigations reporter tom whitaker, and nbc intelligence and national security reporter ken delainian and nbc national sprt pete alex s-- kocorrespond williams, and kristen welker at the white house, and we will get to the summit and the other news, but first to the legal issues with michael cohen. and pete, extraordinarily consequential day with this plea from michael cohen. >> yes, and a couple of points before we go into the specifics
9:05 am
of it. one, the president is right that he could do whatever he wanted to do as a business matter when he was a candidate and private citizen, and the situation is whether the public statements conform to what he was doing, and secondly he is right that michael cohen will get a reduced sentence, because in court, they say that the maximum penalty of lying to the congress is five years, the government would recommend and not object to zero the six months. so, specifically, what happened here is that michael cohen admitted in court that he lied about three things that he told congress last year about the plans to build a trump tower project in moscow, and projectb that never went anywhere. he said that he lied that the work ended by saying that the work ended in january 2016 well before the iowa caucuses knowing that it went into mid-june. he lied when he said that he never worked on travel to russia
9:06 am
to help get the project going when he in fact agreed to go there and whether or not mr. trump should come after he became the nominee at the republican conviction and he lied when he said that he could not recall any contact with the russian officials about the project when he in fact talked to the russian officials about getting help for the land and the financing. now, after he appeared in cohen, you heard the president's statements about it, but today's guilty plea clearly demonstrates that michael cohen continues to cooperate with robert mueller's prosecutors and what it shows is that mueller's prosecutors have now documented a business connection between the trump organization, and russian top officials including the potential meetings of vladimir putin, and now the question is were the same conduits used in any way to facilitate russian meddling in the election. that is a good question, and nothing in today's guilty plea or the court documents saying anything about the second point, but it is simply talking about the potential connections. and the final thing that i will say is that michael cohen said
9:07 am
today that he lied to congress both in an august 2017 letter to the congress and then in his testimony in october, quote, to minimize links between the moscow project and individual one which we know is donald trump. >> and to pick up on that, chuck rosenberg, why is this important? why is what they have put in this criminal information which we have right here so important, the details that they have put in here. >> it is fascinating and important, but pete is right. keep in mind that prosecutors don't need to charge cohen with every single crime that he completed, because he plead g l guilty to eight in the southern district court and now a ninth, and why not every single crime? because all of the the conduct comes in at sentencing, and why are they doing this and laying out in detail in this criminal information the conductor mis n
9:08 am
misconduct? it is because they want him under oath on this topic for subsequent reasons. maybe another trial or defendants like it when they have plead guilty to the operative facts that they are testifying about and that is what is going on here. >> and be very, very specific about this. they had other indictments again against him and he has plead guilty and a cooperating witness, and what is significant about this is that it is the first time that he is pleading guilty and they have him pleading giuilty to trump organization moscow dealings, and dealings -- >> that is right. >> -- and dealings specify ied the information and other things written in here and it is sparsely written and they put in that he has testified false ly about not having anyp c-- any conversations about the trump family and they are setting up a
9:09 am
future indictment about someone else, and this is a small universe of people, and trump family members who could have been negotiating on the part of the trump tower. >> yes, i think that you are right. he would have shared this with the prosecutors and he did not need to plead guilty to this and it would not have affected to the ultimate sentence so what they are doing is to get him under oath on the record to admit his culpability to a certain set of facts of trump family members, and what they will be charged with, we don't know, and as pete williams points out, it does not say here, and this is sparsely wr written but more stuff is coming, and this criminal investigation and this guilty plea signal that fact. >> i want to go the kristen with welker for a moment at the white house, because what the president said literally as pete pointed out is accurate. there is nothing illegal about the president having these talks
9:10 am
even though he misled the american people, and the voteers in that period, but he was very interesting in what he said. and his reaction to not meet with vladimir putin, and they are finally pushing back on ukraine, but they had this information two or three days ago to the washington post that he would have a briefing tonight before yesterday at 6:00 that night about what happened on ukraine. you could argue ma the meeting with vladimir putin after the optics of everything else is bad enough, but after this guilty plea focused on the aides which is peskoff in this information is another reason not to have the summit. >> andrea, you are right,
9:11 am
because there was so much pressure on the president to have a very different summit than the one he had in helsinki when he seem ed to the take putin's word over his community he got back to the u.s. he corrected that. he said that based on the fact that the ships and the sailors have not been returned to ukraine from rush sharsia, it i for all parties to cancel my meeting with russia's president vladimir putin, but andrea, to your point, you cannot ess cape the broader backdrop, and the fact that there are development s in the russian investigation and almost every day of this week, and we are seeing this president increasingly seem embattled and lash out at the special counsel, and lash out at michael cohen and he called him weak in na q&a with the reports on the south lawn before he departed. this is what he tweeted about the special counsel this morning, andrea, calling it an illegal joseph mccarthy-style witch hunt, and he said, did you
9:12 am
ever see an investigation in search of a crime. his own attorney rudy giuliani put out a statement of these cohen developments saying that there is a similar development before the president left for helsinki, and what you are witnessing, andrea, is the president and the legal team escalating the attacks against mueller as if they are bracing for more shoes to the drop here, and you have the issue of paul manafort here, and the plea deal with the special counsel collapse amid the charges that he is lying to investigators and denies that the president again telling me on the south lawn when i asked him that a pardon for manafort is not off of the table, andrea. >> he said that the pardon is not off of the table and he said about michael cohen that he is weak and a liar. weak unlike other people. that was a clear signal of manafort. and now, tom winter is back in
9:13 am
at the nbc head kwaquarters at rock. talk about michael cohen in the courtroom and what you witnessed today, because you have been following this so closely. >> well, andrea, we had a 30-minutes head's up from the court saying a proceeding of interest which is a note that is sent to people who are reporting on the court, and we got "usa versus john doe" and i got a message i need to get there, and we noticed that people from the special counsel's office and pr prosecutors and the people of the southern district of new york were in attendance and at that point we realized that it is something mueller-related and several minutes before 9:00 a.m., michael cohen came in and wearing the navy suit and a white shirt, and andrea, it is different from the prior cohen proceedings that we have seen. the first with one that we saw when there was a battle over the search warrant, it was kind of
9:14 am
a, kind of a rock star atmosphere, and the stormy daniels was there, and excuse me, and there was an inordinate amount of cameras, and of course in the springtime. his second time that we saw him in court, it was the guilty plea that we entered in august that you talked about earlier in the show, and for that proceed iinge seemed to be overwhelmed with the enormity of the proceedings against him and the fact that he was going to be be a convicted felon from that moment there on, and today, much more confident and subdued, and he just clearly stated what he wanted to do, and interestingly, he wanted to stand up for his allocution where he laid out exactly what it is, and what it was that he lied about, but the judge asked him to sit down, because the acoustics were poor and it would be better to sit at the microphone. at that point, one of the prosecutors turn around to smile at michael to say they are at a point where are there is familiarity between the two
9:15 am
legal teams. he was steadfast and straight forward and very clear in the information that he was going to be providing today, and i think that at this point, it is interesting to see where this goes, and not only with the robert mueller's investigation, but to see if it is going anywhere in new york. we know from the court filings, andrea, seven proffer-type arrangements or the offerings made at various points over the past several month, and so as we have been reporting here sh, th is not a one and done thing where cohen met with the mueller team or the prosecutors here on new york on one single occasion, and this is ongoing for several months, and to chuck's and pete's point that it indicates a portion of the information that he is providing to them. >> and now, ken delainian, to add to this, tom, ken delainian, you taken a deep dive into the
9:16 am
moscow deal, and this is something disputed in the d dossier, and denials that he had been involved in the talks, but the moscow deal, it wasn't just something that never happened, because it actually is something that we now know is negotiated and when the president said that he never had investments, that is a careful statement, and he said it in january 11th, 2017, and the fact is that he does the licensing deal, and until it becomes a deal, the banks are putting up the money, and it is highly leveraged and he is paid as a licensee millions of dollars from the deals. so talk about what literally was being negotiated with people as high up as dmitri peskov, the right-handed person to vladimir putin. >> you explained it well, and what the president said contrary to today, this was not known at the time and it was hidden from the american public the fact that the negotiations were ongoing and the fact that while he was campaigning for president, and bizarrely h sh l
9:17 am
showering praise on vladimir putin's government, he was secretly talking to them. and so we know that michael cohen was dealing with a guy who is a convicted felon with ties to russian organized crime, and e-mails emerged where sader said that our boy can become the president of the usa, and i can engineer, and i will get all of putin's team to buy in on this and we know that the russian government respond odd to those, and they were in negotiations and going on much longer than cohen and others said. they said it went on from january and to june of 2016 in the heart of the presidential campaign and this is a clear conflict of interest going on, and that is one layer of significance and another layer is not what we are seeing in the court documents and as tom alluded to the serene nature of cohen, and unlike paul manafort, he is going to stay flipped
9:18 am
that, and could portend badly for the president of the united states. >> ken, thank you for the backdrop, and joining us is the man of the hour, senator mark wa warner who is the vice chair of the senate intelligence, and this is a guilty plea that michael cohen lied repeatedly to you and your committee, and what is the significance of that? >> well, the significance is that this is one more example of a close ally or associate of donald trump being caught lying about their ties and connections with russians and the russians' attempts to influence the trump campaign. we have seen this pattern out of cohen, and we have seen is it out of papadopoulos, and at least speculation of what may be coming forward from manafort. i am not surprised and this is what we are seeing out of the affiliates of mr. trump and a
9:19 am
fairly wide pattern that comes out of the president's group of lies. >> and he had tight connections with the right-hand person of vladimir putin for permissions that would be needed to do a trump tower deal in moscow, and what does that tell you? >> look it, i won't comment about the specific individuals named in the indictment. pursuing the acts are accurate that it shows that ongoing c conversations with highest level of the donald trump organization with russia with his personal lawyer and based on the indictment, it appears that mr. trump was aware of the conversations back and forth. >> and chuck rosenberg, our colleague here, just before you joined us, senator, was a former
9:20 am
top justice department and fbi official, and chuck rosenberg was saying that the significance of this is that they did not need the guilty plea or another guilty plea from michael cohen on this subject, on the russia moscow project and those discussions except to set the pr predicatet for a future action potentially in court, a future indictment or case according to a former prosecutor. >> i am not a former prosecutor and i would not disagree with your guest, and i would not be surprised if mr. cohen has more stories to tell. this is someone who is intimate with then candidate and business leader trump. whose name has popped nup a variety of places, and again, not knowing what he is has shared with the special prosecutor and he is clearly one of the individuals that our
9:21 am
committee has want ted to come back, and will want to come back, and testify. as well after he has been appropriately plead and sentenced by the justice department activities. but i have to believe that he has more to tell. >> there is another sentence in the criminal investigation that michael cohen discussed the trump tower deal with members of the family, the members of the trump organization, and the members of the family, and that is a small universe, and do you want to call the members of the family back to testify before you and we are talking about now conceivably don jr. >> well, i would hope that we with would get a little bit more clarity on that as to who that was or which members. but there are a host of the sessions where this constant pattern of folks affiliated with trump dealing with the russians and then lying about it to the
9:22 am
fbi or to senate and house committees, and quite candidly a whole slew of efforts that the russians have made in terms of outreach so that the then trump organization. so there is seem ing ing to be pattern here and i'm glad that mr. mueller is starting to lay out more of the case and again, it begs the issue that with mueller now moving in to producing more and more products we have to make sure that his prosition is protected and the acting attorney general mr. whitaker who even the president's allies would agree has very few qualifications for the job other than the fact that he is on constant record of being against the mueller investigation, and frankly already has ethical conflicts because of his ties with sam clovis, another individual tied to the escapades and he should recuse himself, and one thing that is disappointing to me is that the justice department's ethics office has not come
9:23 am
forward with an opinion as to whether he should recuse himself with any oversight or attempt to interfere with the mueller investigation. >> i and i waand i want the ask if the president was asked about reviewing the summit with vladimir putin, and he said that he would review it on the plane, and then suddenly after they took off, that he said in this tweet on the ukraine aggression, and that has been going on for days, and he had been briefed on it as we know already monday night, and do you think that summit was also canceled because of the russian investigation and this guilty plea today? >> well, again, let's look at the facts. you had the russian incursion with the ukrainian ships a number of days ago and you have had emergency meetings at the united nation, and yet this president showed no inclination to step away from the meeting
9:24 am
with putin and he said that he might consider it, but now you have one more shoe dropping in terms of his closest personal attorneys lying about ongoing connection s wi connections with the russians during his campaign. i guess they understand why trump would cancel the meeting. i also frankly think that for the sake of dish don't think that many americans would want to see a repeat of the pathetic performance of an american president kowtowing to a russian dictator the way we saw in helsinki, so i am actually glad that the meeting is off. >> thank you so much, senator. i know that you have a p busy d with this series of events. >> i have said it before, andrea, you can't make this stuff up and i believe there is more coming from mueller. >> thank you. and joining us from argentina, and pete alexander, the president is going to be landing
9:25 am
tonight and what we now know is that the putin summit is off. this is the first time despite all of the pressure over the last few years a, and the first time that we have seen this president really pushback against vladimir putin on a substantive issue and not in the past on the campaign violations and certainly not in helsinki and a series of aggressions around the world, but suddenly a cancellation as soon as he takes off in air force one. >> well, at least that is the way the white house is casting it today as well as on twitter. but on the south lawn boarding air force one, he referred to michael cohen as a weak person and he said that his decision to not meet with vladimir putin is a sign of weakness as he likes to cast himself as a strong president, because he now for fits the opportunity to stand side by side with vladimir putin to condemn him to his face before the world community as he would to do when the two men
9:26 am
were scheduled to meet. it is schedule d for saturday ad notable within the last half hour or so, and via the reports in the state media that the kremlin through a kremlin spokesperson say ths that they e not are received official word. they said they found out through social media through the president's own tweets, and we know that vladimir putin is now en route to argentina and that is going to be one of the most significant meetings and all eyes were going to be focused on in the visit here. i emphasize that point, because e earlier in the conference after the midterm election, we heard from president trump where he criticized barack obama, his predecessor saying that he was to blame and by showing weakness by allowing the acts of aggression and the annexation of crim crimea, and a lot of the critics are going to be seeing this for fitting of the meeting with vladimir putin and criticize him fothe latest acts of aggression
9:27 am
by the russians. >> pete alexander, such useful information to the con ttext. and also to the viewers, this is the first time that the kremlin has not announced a major change. and remember when lavrov and sergei kissalov was coming in, and they did not make the announcement first and so perhaps this is the first time that putin was caught off guard from this announcement from the president on the air force one. and joining us is mike mcfaul. and the cancellation of this meeting, and despite what the president said it is still up in the air once he was leaving the white house and an hour later he is airborne and we hear that the meeting is canceled, over ukraine, over to russian connection that has now been detailed in federal court.
9:28 am
what say you? >> well, obviously, i don't know. the causal story is clear to be speaking like a social scientist, and the attack on ukraine and make clear what the crisis is about, and he never criticized vladimir putin directly for attacking the ukrainian sailors, and then the news about michael cohen drops and a few minutes later, he decides to cancel the meeting. and i want to say that i used to organize these meetings at the white house, and it is very unusual that it would be canceled over twitter, and let alone unilaterally, and usual are areally the two sides the kremlin and the white house are working together to set the ed a jen da and the time, and if there is a cancellation, as there was one time when i worked for president obama, it is coordinated between the two sides, and this is very different in that regard. >> well, this is going to be
9:29 am
freeing up some big time on the president's schedule on saturday. of course sh, he has that din w president xi which is a big aspect coming up in the argentina g20 summit. and also in argentina for the summit is mohammad bin salman of saudi arabia, and the white house saying no plans for him to meet with mbs and a close ally he has been denying, the, the intelligence that has been reported by all of us, and the high confidence that the saudi leader is involved in that kashoggi murder. and so i want to bring you in valley ri, because you have depth on michael cohen, and it is reported by tom winter that
9:30 am
it was a different michael cohen, and this is not like manafort who is going to be flipping back, but he has made his decision and stick wigt, and providing very important information arguably to the prosecutors. >> sure. this is someone who has spent the last three, four months of his life with one purpose in mind, and that has been to tell the truth. now, there are a couple of reasons why he has been wanting to tell the truth, and of course, he is due to be sentenced in a few weeks because he pleaded guilty in august to the charges in the southern district, but he has also felt a responsibility and felt the weight of what he had done wrong in the past, and what he had done as he has said on behalf of his former boss, the current president. he wanted to come clean, and that is what he has done in the past few months spending dozens of dozens of hours with the attorneys for the southern
9:31 am
district, and the attorney general's office and he, according to my reporting has told them everything that he knows and today was the first indication that not only has he come clean, but what he has come clean about is important and will play a role in how this all plays out from the mueller's team. >> emily jane fox, you nknow ths man and he has said that he would take a bullet for president trump. and michael cohen now is becoming a critical witness, especially with manafort now obvious obviously in the box for having lied to prosecutors and losing his, and losinging the benefits of his co-op rating agreement. >> sure. i mean, michael cohen told me in an interview that he would take a bullet for the president, and in na r that same interview it was days after he submitted the answers that he entered in the court filing that we are hearing a about today that were untrue
9:32 am
to the senate, and he also said that he had reached out to a kremlin spokesperson just by googling kremlin on google and he had not heart a response. so at that point, he was so incredibly loyal to the president as we have hard in court today, and part of the reason that he lied to congress last year as we heard today is because of the loyalty to the president, and he wanted to be on the same page as what the president has been telling the public for quite some time. there is a list of reasons why that, that michael cohen no longer exists today. he understands the gravity of what he faces in terms of how much prison time he could serve, and he is feeling the weight of what it could do to his family, and he has watched the president publicly turn on him. today, the president as he boarded marine i that michael cohen is a liar and trying to reduce the sentencing, but he has been public at a tacking michael cohen since april since his home, office and hotel room
9:33 am
were raided by the fbi. and so michael cohen feel nos allegiance to president trump anymore, and no reason to protect him, and in fact, he feels every reason to come clean about what he knows. >> and of course, chuck rosenberg, plenty precedent to argue against any indictment against the president road, but if fact that the family is mentioned and that he is clearly testifying about the kcon versations with the family is significant as well, and he does make it clear in this legal document that individual one is president trump. >> and in fact, i was reading the transcript of the proceeding today and michael cohen says specifically individual one is the president. now that is not the way that this prosecutors write it, because they want to be more subtle, but there is some debate whether a sitting president can be indicted and i have read
9:34 am
opinion os on both sides. >> and it would have to be litigated up to the supreme court and it is balanced on the favor of the president. >> it would have to be litigate and i am not sure where it would come out, but the put it aside, because to your other point, members of the president's family are implicated implicitly by this plea agreement. it is a fascinating document, because it is going to tell you that more is coming. >> and katy tur, joining us now, of course, the anchor of the 2:00 on msnbc and principally in this context, every step of the way in that campaign for two years you tracked donald trump, and you know everything that he said, and some of the answers in fact, and the answer, russia, if you are listening, was in response to your question in the campaign. >> yes, what we are seeing from the court filing and what we have been seeing from the ongoing saga of the mueller investigation and the sdny investigation is that it is painting a picture of a group of
9:35 am
people around donald trump who thought for so long that there were no consequences, and they could do whatever they want and they would ultimately be bu bulletproof, because they didn't think that he would win the election or b, when he did win, he was the man in charge and they could not do anything about it. in looking at what happened today, you have to consider the motivati motivations, the actions, what donald trump knew and how much can conceivably be coincidence here. i know that chuck rosenberg says all of the time that the federal prosecutors don't believe in coincidence, and what we know from robert mueller's team is that they are putting together a detailed time line. and i have talked to the witnesses who have sat for in r interviews with mueller's team, and they have said that they know specifically where they were sitting in a room when they are asking them questions about a certain topic or conversation, and we know that the time line is detailed, and what we got today out of the filing is a little bit more information about the time line, and again m
9:36 am
this court filing which seems to focus on june 2016, and that is coming up over and over and over again in these court documents. we know that michael cohen was talking about trump tower moscow as late as june 2016, andrea. and what else was happening in june 2016? well, on june 9th, donald trump jr. had a meeting with the russian lawyer who was offering dirt on hillary clinton. as he was making arrangements for that meeting, donald trump sr. tweets out that he is going to have a big speech about hillary clinton and all of her wrongdoings on june 13th, and that speech never came to fruition because potentially don jr. didn't get the dirt that he was looking for from the russian lawyer and they said they didn't get anything from the dirt. on june 12th, is sorry, on june 12th, julian assange say ths th he has more e-mails damaging to hillary clinton coming out, and fast forward a month later, and you donald trump on june 27th alluding to it, russia , if you
9:37 am
are listen, and also in the press conference, andrea, he says that i have no dealings with russia, none whatsoever, and we know that is not true, because as of a month earlier, michael cohen was trying to set up a trump tower moscow, and with the help of an intermediary and according to the court filings a senior person within the russian government, and when you take a step back and look at all of, this and add in roger stone, and jerome corsi talking about the e-mails and if there is a back channel, but stepping back to look at this, you have to consider the motivations here, if russia wanted donald trump elected president for whatever reason, why would donald trump want to allow them to help him get elected president? it is unclear but maybe one of the motivations, did he want a trump tower moscow, and more business in moscow? further trump business, because he had been trying to do this so long for as far back of 2013
9:38 am
when he went to moscow for miss universe and hoped to get a meeting with donald trump to build his own tower here, and when you put it together, is it conceivable that donald trump didn't know about these things? is it conceivable that donald trump would want to accept the help of the russian government when they were offering him dirt on hillary clinton? prosecutors and investigators are going to figure that out, but the questions remain and there are more and more coincidences that point to that. >> well, katy tur, you are putting it all in the context of of course, the trump tower meeting, the president's denial in the written a answernswers, have been reporting in advance of the trump tower meeting and the mysterious ophone call. >> that blocked number. >> yeah. so there is -- that going to be coming up again in the house intelligence committee, and i was talking to a congressman eric swalwell about that, and he
9:39 am
said they won't reopen the entire investigation, but they will focus on important unanswered questions and one of those was to p ten shally subpoena the phone records from the phone company to find out if that blocked number that donald trump jr. called was his father. we know that donald trump trump senior had a blocked number at the residence and in his office at trump tower and was it a a phone call to his dad, and if so, what was said in the phone call. there is a lot. and there is a lot here, andrea, and lot that we still don't know the definitive answer to, but again, there is a lot of coincidence, and when you are putting it altogether, it is not looking so great for donald trump or his family. we do know that it was said by senator burr that investigators knew that he lied because they were cooperating with the senate intelligence committee and who else was in that committee? who else gave them testimony? who else could have been
9:40 am
incorrect in the testimony? who else is robert mueller looking at a? there are a number of names throughout that we have all been talking about and roger stone is one of them and don junior is another that have been coming up in court filings yet, but could they come up sooner and when you hear a denial from donald trump or michael cohen, it is clearer and clearer that you can't take the denials at face values, because we are seeing over and over again that they turn out to not be true. >> katy tur with the contex tantd time line context and all of this. and now join g ing us is our pa who are msnbc contributors as chuck rosenberg who is also still here. and joyce vance, to you first. we have been talking about the indictment that this is a indictment that they didn't nee need, but it is the first one that they have with the guilty
9:41 am
plea setting out a connection to trump tower moscow, and during the campaign and mentioning specifically the president as individual number one and his family according to this criminal information. >> i think that is right. it is very significant for exactly that reason, andrea. some of the language that jumps out at me is michael cohen, and this is the government alleging the conduct that cohen lied about the matters to krcreate distance between moscow project and person number one who we now know is the president. what that means is that if michael cohen lied, then the president lied. i have listened to chuck rosenberg who is always the yoda in these matters and it is important to bring him in and get him locked down. so cohen has now raised the hand
9:42 am
and said it is so under oath, and he has talked about the president's family here. we have talk about don jr., and there is some old reporting from 2017 that talks about michael cohen and felix sader, and sader mentioning taking ivanka to russia and have her sit in huetin's chair, so hu hue -- putin's chair, and so what we don't know is that it is going to his family and certainly much more quickly and closer than he wants it to be. >> and talk to us about this, the implications of all of this. extraordinary timing the michael cohen guilty plea, and setting out these facts under oath, and the president on the plane going to the world summit, and you want to go to the summit with strength, and political strength and certainly not this legal cloud hanging over your head,
9:43 am
and now the consolation of the putin summit, discuss. >> it is remarkable. it is perhaps unprecedented. we have had presidents go to summits before with some kinds of legal clouds hanging over their heads, but never anything this ominous, and this closely connected to the players in the summit. so, the notion that this, this guilty plea involves the trump organization, and michael cohen and russia, that the president felt the need for whatever reason to cancel his scheduled meeting with president putin is really a remarkable thing, but there is another remarkable thing that is lurk ing ing in t background here is that it is not just that the congress was lied to by michael cohen, but i think that fundamentally that we have to keep reminding ourselves that the american people if not lied to, they were deeply misled by the trump campaign, and during the campaign about the nature of the president's and the trump organization's investments and business interests with russia.
9:44 am
if we knew then during the campaign what we know now about the ongoing effort to have investments in russia, it would have looked at lot different back then. >> and let's bring back michael mcfaul, and i want to ask you about dmitri peskov, because this criminal complaint and indictment and guilty plea sets out that michael cohen had conversati conversations with peskov in the campaign about that trump tower investment. >> yeah, well. that is extraordinary. as you said, he is one of the closest ties to vladimir putin, and his title does not suggest how close he is, and that indictment suggested that he knew something about laying out this. and so there is a silver lining for the president, and it is a rational explanation and why he was so pro putin during the 2016 presidential election, and then
9:45 am
he has doubled down and tripled down, and at least an explanation independent from some of the other hypotheses that we have been talking about. >> but it does not exclude them. >> and i was just going to say that, but it does not exclude the other one, but, for, you know -- >> and chuck rosenberg, while we are straightening out michael mcfaul's conneck is shun, and i interrupted him just as he was going to say more, if you could include. >> if i may shift the conversation more, andrea. >> sure. if you have been reading and studying as lawyers do, you are my counsel here. >> and it is interesting that i noted in the transcript of the hearing today. mr. cohen identifies individual one as the president and it is not something in the public
9:46 am
documents, but it is something that he said or rally at the hearing today, and why this is so important to joyce's point that you want to lock down witnesses, and you can do it in the grand jury, because you can testify under oath, but also in open court. when they plead guilty, because they are also under oath. and the value to the prosecutors of having the statements under oath is twofold. one, if they back off of it in some way at some later date, you can hold that transcript in front of them and hold their feet it to or second, when you are testifying other people, the fact that mr. cohen edadmitted s own culpability on this set of facts is important to a jury at trial. and so, while this doesn't answer all of our questions, and only points in some directions and e lilliptically mention s t family, it is another chapter of the investigation, and that is important to bring us into the
9:47 am
negotiations over whether or not the trump organization would build a tower in moscow, and that is fascinating. >> and emily jane fox, michael cohen, he is such character here, and can he be damaged orrism peached -- damag impeached what he says that he is weak, and we believe that is a reference to paul manafort. >> well, i wanted to pick up on something that chuck said that he volunteered to do theday to bring up the president's name in court today under oath, and that is what he did in august and nobody was forcing him to get up to say that it is the president who directed him to make payments to women who had alleged affairs to him leading up to the election. >> good point. >> and this is something that he has now done twice under oath in the courtroom as he was pleading guilty to serious federal crimes.
9:48 am
so -- i think that we saw this week what mueller and the special counsel's office has to say about people that they believe are lying to the investigators, and this is not what we saw in court today. i was in court that day, with the demeanor of michael cohen and the attorneys and the attorneys of the department of justice was friendly and shaking hands after all of this was going on and exchanging looks and smiles, and it does not appear that they believe that cohen is lying to them. and it is a very different relationship between manafort and his attorneys and michael cohen and his attorneys and prosecut prosecutors. >> and joyce, there is no statement here that the president told michael cohen to lie, is there? what inference if any can with draw from the guilty plea, because he has said that he lied about whether or not there were conversations. is there any inference that we can draw about who told him to or what motivated him to lie? >> i think that emily jane makes a really great point here when she says it is obvious to her
9:49 am
from the demeanor that the prosecutors believe michael cohen, and here's the situation, michael cohen is now charged and has plead d ged guilty to lying how do prosecutors turn around then and ask a jury the believe what he has to say in a future hearing, and the prosecutors have raided or as prosecutors say executed a search warrant for cohen's home and businesses and took boxes full of documents and recordings, and all sorts of evidence, and they have spent the months since then combing through the evidence so that nobody going to be asked to rely on michael cohen's word, but it is this documentary evidence and we don't know what is in the documents regarding the president. we don't know if there is more tape recording of conversations between cohen and the president. we know that the president doesn't use e-mail. but there may be even some form of written acknowledgment so that when cohen is making
9:50 am
statements about his conduct with the president, prosecutors will prove it not just through cohen but through evidence that confirms what he is saying. >> ruth marcus, your take on that? >> well, i >> i wanted to pick up on something else mentioned earlier which is this extraordinary statement to "the new york post" that manafort pardon is on the table. >> the president also repeated that on the south lawn today. >> i've really liked their take on this. that to me is extraordinary to signal to a potentially serious, potentially fatal witness against you. maybe not fatal but serious witness against you. that he could be in line for a pardon that to me is close to obstruction in plain sight. >> let me also say the president today again said that michael cohen is weak and a liar, unlike other people.
9:51 am
clearly he means somebody else. we can infer manafort. >> somebody else, to ruth's point, is probably manafort. on one hand, the president has unfettered power under the constitution to pardon whoever he wants for any federal crime. on the other hand, it's actually not completely unfeathered. here's why, if he's doing it for a corrupt purpose, then it could be obstruction of justice. just as he could name ruth the u.s. ambassador to italy. >> i would enjoy that, ruth. >> i would enjoy that. >> but he couldn't do it in return for a $5 million cash under the table payment. so these unfettered powers we always talk about are still circumscribed by the criminal law. whether or not he intends to obstruct justice would be the inquiry. >> it's not circumscribed by the articles of impeachment in the
9:52 am
nixon case which raised the issue of dangling pardons. so what do you make of this? >> it seems like more than a signal to me, but we don't precisely know that yet. my guess is we're going to learn soon in the next several months that there have been talks because if there were talks between mr. manafort's lawyer and the trump white house and the trump lawyers, those conversations are arguably not privileged. i think mueller can get them. >> our colleague is also a lawyer. joyce, you are a former prosecutor as is chuck. let's talk about the manafort attorneys and the fact they had these conversations with giuliani and other members of the team after the decision by manafort to turn state's evidence. so i agree with chuck here. the reason they were able to have conversations before manafort began cooperating with
9:53 am
the government and cloak those conversations in the attorney/client privilege is because they had a commonality interest. once manafort decides to cooperate, that commonalty disappears. mummer could, if he wanted to, try to pierce those conversations and learn more about what was happening. if, in fact, there were offers back and forth, conversations about pardons being available, then we are close to witness tampering. it's really hard for me as a prosecutor or former prosecutor to say we're there because i think we need to know the full course of conversations and what went back and forth. but this certainly gets everyone's attorney. >> let me just take a deep breath or ask everyone to take a deep breath and just say i've been thinking about these joint agreements and, joyce, how
9:54 am
unusual is it for a president of the united states to have this joint defense agreement? this is the kind of thing we hear in mafia cases and other yp organized crime cases. but for the president of the united states to have a joint defense agreement with so many people? speak to that. >> i think it is a moment where we have to sit back a moment. we've gone so accustomed talking about the president being under criminal investigation. being a part of a joint defense agreement. we have to be careful we don't normalize this. it's not normal. it shouldn't be normal. there's no other product i think who could have survived politically to this point. there's just something unusual that goes on here where trump gets a pass certainly from his own party. one hopes there will be
9:55 am
accountability at the end of the mueller investigation. hopefully up on capitol hill after january 3rd. what's so important in the meantime is american citizens continue to register outrage and shock over how not just unusual but how singular, how completely unprecedented it is for the president of the united states to have been involved or at least under investigation for interference by a hostile foreign power with our electi elections. >> we were discussing earlier the president and the summit with putin. he has not taken putin to take over the aggression, a lot of other issues including things happening in syria, to say nothing of the election interference. now we have the statement from the pool on air force one that sarah sanders came back after the president's tweet canceling
9:56 am
the summit and the kremlin saying they knew nothing about it. that prior to the election -- sorry, i picked up the wrong comment, but that sanders told the traveling pool that that tweet was centsent after conversations with bolton, pompeii yes and kelly on air force one. so he was talking to his security team. i guess this is to say this is nothing to do with michael cohen, i'm cancelling it because of ukraine. >> one quick point to the previous conversation, i do think -- i may be wrong but i'm fairly confident that the clinton white house and president clinton himself, his leg team had some joint defense agreements during the unfortunate events, that the clinton administration, even before the impeachment. just to put it out there there are certainly unique things but certainly not the first president who's had a joint defense agreement. >> i don't believe nixon did, by
9:57 am
the way. >> as for the cancellation of the summit, i think the facts speak for themselves as you laid them out. this president has not been willing previously in multiple areas to stand up to president putin. he was not willing as he was leaving to stand up to president putin. he sort of left the door a little ajar in his "washington post" interview. now after this, the lawyers have a phrase, "the thing speaks for itself." so i will just let his tweet speak for itself. >> i'm lost when people start speaking latin. but i do want to say -- >> you know that's not true. >> it's largely true. >> i don't think i've ever done it on television before. >> -- in high school and still can't remember -- >> i think he's right, that mr. clinton was part of a joint defense farious in and of
9:58 am
itself. >> we shouldn't normalize it. >> joint defense agreements happen. innocent people, guilty people sometimes. that's a thing that exists all the time and is okay. to your point, to joyce's point this is not normal. it's not because there's a joint defense agreement. put that aside for a moment. it's because of the underlying conduct. >> joyce, when we -- just to tie a bow all around this. what we're talking about here is a major guilty plea by a witness saying he lied to the senate under oath. he is the former personal lawyer who said he would take a bullet for his client donald trump. not only implicating the president by name in a federal court in manhattan but also in this criminal pleading, also members of the trump family, for
9:59 am
behavior that arguably may not be ill legal according to the president's -- but certainly was not known to us during the campaign. >> prosecutors don't usually take a step like this unless they mean to go a step further. by pulling this investigation now in a world where this is actually connectivity between the campaign and trump, interaction during the campaign, maybe after the election, between the president and russia over his business interests, we have a look into where mueller is growing next. it's not a great place to be going as a country but we've got to get to the bottom of this. >> we should point out, only yesterday, yesterday morning, just about 20 hours earlier, the president was retweeting in social media an image of the deputy attorney general, two former presidents and others on his enemy's list behind bars and calling all of this a witch
10:00 am
hunt. thank you, all. this very busy hour. stay with us on twitter. @mitchellreports. here's stephanie for "velshi and ruehl." what an hour, starting with you at 9:00. >> what an hour. what a day. stunning. good afternoon, everyone. my partner ali velshi picked quite a day to be on assignment. it is thursday, november 29. let's get smarter. >> president trump's former longtime perm attorney michael cohen admitting he made false statements to congress about the russia investigation. >> this is different than the last time we saw michael kcohen. this is related to mueller. >> what he's pleading to lying about is this development to build a trump tower in moscow which was hidden from the voters while donald trump was running