tv MSNBC Live With Stephanie Ruhle MSNBC February 27, 2019 6:00am-7:00am PST
expected to call trump a racist, a con man, a cheat. he will be producing checks that were signed by the president potentially in office as well as don junior and allen weisselberg. these are reimbursements for payments to a porn star. the big question today was set the scene by the vice chair of the house overite committee katie hill was on moments ago. the big question is, did the president commit crimes and did he commit some of those crimes while in office. that does it for us for now. stephanie rhule picks up the coverage right now. >> hi there, i'm stephanie rhule. thank for joining me on an hick day for this president. the split screen presidency is now in full effect. on the one side, president trump shaking hands this morning with north korean leader kim jong-un to kick off the first day of their second nuclear summit. on the other side, president trump's former lawyer and fixer michael cohen just arrived on the hill to testify before the
house oversight committee. if the draft of his opening statement is any indication, his testimony will be explosive. it is a huge day, and you know we have the best team in the business to break all of it down right here. but first, i want to dig a little deep near the extraordinary testimony we're about to hear. michael cohen spent a total of ten years in the trenches as president trump's attorney and personal fixer. today he is set to reveal what he claims to know about the president's character and conduct income an open hearing on capitol hill. we know from the final draft of cohen's opening remarks he will paint a damning portrait of the president and also implicitly accuse president trump of breaking the law straight from the start. cohen is expected to express his regret for sticking by donald trump all these years. here's a quote from the draft provided by lonnie davis, michael cohen's attorney "i'm ashamed that i chose to take part in conceal mr. trump's
illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. i'm ashamed because i know what mr. trump is, he is a racist, a con man, is he a cheat. and cohen plans to provide evidence as well as personal anecdotes to back up the claims. here are some of the biggest bombshells we know. in his daft, he says the president not only knew about the hush money payments to stormy daniels but he personally directed them. he says "mr. trump directed me to use my own personal funds from a home equity line of credit to avoid any money being traced back to him that could negatively impact his xoin." that is crucial because the president has argued over and over the payments were part of a private transaction not at all related to the campaign. michael cohen claims it was part of a "criminal zeem violate campaign finance laws." and remember this? >> did you know about the $130,000 payment to stormy
daniels? >> no, no. >> why did michael cohen make this. >> you have to ask michael cohen. michael's an attorney and you'll have to ask michael cohen. >> do you know where he got the money to make ha payment? >> i don't know, no. >> but michael cohen says that is a lie. as possible evidence, cohen is handing over a copy of this on your screen right now. $35,000 check that he says was drawn from donald trump's personal account and signed by the president himself on august 1st, 2017, while he was already in office. cohen will say the payment was made as reimbursement forty legal hush money that cohen paid on the president's behalf. he alleges it was one of 11 payments made by president trump while he was in office. what's more, cohen is expected to produce what he describes as a similar reimbursement signed this time by donald trump jr. and allen weisselberg, the cfo of the trump organization.
and then there's the hacked democratic national committee e-mails. cohen is expected to testify that donald trump newspaper about the hacking of the e-mails before they were made public and welcomed their release. he says "s in july, 2016, days before the democratic convention, i was iin mr. trump's office when his secretary announced that roger stone was on the telephone. mr. trump put mr. stone on speakerphone and mr. stone told mr. trump that he j had just gotten off the phone with julian assange and that mr. assange told mr. stone within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign. mr. trump responded by stating to the effect, wouldn't that be great." now remember, the question of how much the president knew about those e-mails before they were released is key to robert mueller's investigation into any ties between russia and the trump campaign. and finally, michael cohen is expected to tell congress that the reason he lied to lawmakers
in the first place was because he was backing up the president's repeated denials about the moscow to your project. but cohen makes one thing very clear. he says, "mr. trump did not directly tell me to lie to congress. that's not how he operates. in conversations during the campaign, at the same time i was actively negotiating in russia for him, he would look me in the eye and tell me there is no business in russia," and then he would go out and lie to the american people by saying the same thing. in his way, he was telling me to lie. he then makes repeated allegations about the president's character describing, for example, how the president misrepresented his assets when it suited him. he implied trump lied about bone spurs, that he had claimed were the basis for a medical deferment from serving in vietnam. he says that the president directed him to refuse or reduce payments that he owed to small businesses, vendors. in fact, cohen says, "donald
trump is a man who ran for office to make his brand great, not to make our country great. he had no desire or intention to lead this nation, only to market himself and to build his wealth and power." this morning, no surprise, the president tweeted, "michael cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me, unfortunately. he had other clients also. he was just disbarred by the state supreme court for lying and for fraud. he did bad things unrelated to trump. he is lying in order to reduce his prison time. using crooked lawyers." after meeting with lawmakers on the senate intelligence committee for nearly nine hours yesterday, michael cohen had this to say about today's public testimony. >> i really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record and to tell the truth angie look forward to tomorrow to being able to in my voice to tell the american people my story and i'm going to let the american people decide exactly hosteling the truth.
>> well, we'll be watching. i want to bring in garrett haake on the hill and nbc's justice correspondent pete williams. pete, to you first. michael cohen is going to claim that the president and donald trump jr. were in fact part of a criminal scheme to violate campaign finance laws. if he does have checks that were signed by these two men, how far does that go into proving an illegal act and how big of an illegal act sk this considered to be? >> well, the illegal act has already been alleged. that's in the original court document against cohen and that is that these were illegal campaign contributions. nothing illegal about paying hush money. what the prosecutors in new york said when they charged cohen is in one payment directly to the woman, it violated -- it was an inkind campaign contribution and it violated the contribution limits and secondly the contributions weren't reported. so that's the nature of the violation. i think it's well to remember that everything we're going to hear today from michael cohen,
the prosecutors have already heard. so all the charges that they brought against cohen both by the special counsel about the lying about trump tower and the new york prosecutors about the campaign finance violation, they've already heard this stuff. we're going to hear it for the first time. the check makes a difference i think not so much legally because the government already said in these court documents that it had additional documentationing what it referred to as individual 1, who was the president. what i think is that the check, if it was written while he was in office, could make a difference if the congress decides to pursue impeachment. here's why. there are.legal scholars who say you can't impeach someone for conduct before they came into office. some people say impeachment is for what will public officials do while they're public officials. so that's the importance of the check as a political matter more than as a legal matter i think.
>> all right. garrett, we know he spoke to lawmakers for almost nine hours yesterday. his public testimony starts in an hour. tell us what the mood is like on capitol hill had i besides the fireworks that we're going to hear coming from cohen, talk to us about those sitting on the other side, the lawmakers. >> stephanie, i have to tell you there's a sense there's real significance to what we're going to hear both today and behind closed doors. i can't show you but the line to get into this hearing today is massive. it's as long as we saw for jim comey's testimony or brett kavanaugh's hearing confirmation to the supreme court. this is the only game in many town in washington today. and there's also this feeling about you asked about feeling. there's this feeling about cohen's testimony yesterday behind closed doors in the senate. we didn't expect to hear a lot from those senators because usually the senate holds these things pretty tight. there were almost no leaks about the content of that.
it was a very somber mood from the senators as they left. mark warner, ranking democrat on that committee, is one of the only people to make an on camera comment. he went out of his way and said i've been saying for two years, nothing i do in my public life will be more important than this investigation and i continue to feel that very much today. he walked away. there is a feeling this goes beyond just the theatrics wa we're going to hear today. you'll see democrats trying to grill cohen, you'll see republicans trying to diminish his credibility as much as they can. you'll see them try to adjourn had hearing. there's a sense we're about to potentially learn much more or recast information we have in a potentially significant way in a way i haven't necessarily gotten that feeling from lawmakers in previous similar hearings. >> garrett, pete, thank you so much. i know you guys probably need to eat your wheaties, maybe an energy drink. this thing is going to be big.
i want to bring in my panel. barbara mcquade, matt miller chief spokesperson for the justice department, yamiche alcindor for the pbs "newshour," my friend katy tur who covered the trump campaign and wrote a booking about it. if you haven't read it, you must. ari melber, msnbc's leaf lee correspondent and host of the beat" tim o'brien and eddie glau a professor at princeton university. barbara, cohen says he has evidence that the president committed a crime. if he did,ings, if donald trump jr. did, wouldn't charges have been brought against donald trump jr. at this point be? to pete's point, pete said anything you're going to hear today prosecutors already know. >> not necessarily. it could be that be prosecutors have this information but are continuing to build a case. just because you have probable cause is a sufficient to file a case. the department of justice requires that you not bring a
case unless you have sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. that means by having proof beyond a reasonable doubt. there's a whole spectrum of possible evidence that you can gather. it could also be they're looking into additional crimes. you may not charge one till you have the complete picture of all the crimes someone is responsible for. i don't think that it means that there is no crime just because they haven't charged one yet. >> matt, what's your take here? the fact na cohen is saying this cover-up was ongoing even after the president was in office. >> i this i it's critically important to show this was a scheme that starred during the campaign and copied while he was in office. he talks about being in the oval office when is trump continued to talk to him about the hush money scheme. there's one new piece of information we got in this testimony. it appears the president knew what he was doing was illegal. that's really important because you often hear this line that ignorance is no defense. well, actually in campaign finance law it can be if you
don't know what you're doing is illegal, can be a defense. we've seen trump's attorneys kind of retreat to that. first no, we didn't do it. second, well, we did do it but it wasn't a crime and their most recent was well, if there was a crime it was michael cohen acting on his own. the president trusted him. he trusted him to do what was right. what michael cohen says here is that the president knew what he was doing was wrong. he directed me to use this money out of my -- to use my personal funds to avoid having to disclose it. i think that would get you past the bar of showing not only did the president engage in this scheme but he knew it was a crime when he was doing it, he directed cohen to do it this way explicitly to avoid disclosure required by law and i think that if he weren't the sitting president of the united states, we're at the point where we would really be looking for either a plea deal or an indictment coming down the pipe pretty soon from the southern district of new york. obviously, that's not the case.
he is the sitting president. the justice department doesn't think he can be indicted. i think the question is, does this evidence make it to congress at some point. >> katy tur, i'm thrilled you are here. you know michael cohen very well. you were on the campaign trail or the mike cohen before he's turned over this supposed new leaf. i want to ask about his claims that president trump knew about roger stone, speaking to julian assange, he knew about the e-mail dutch before it happened. you asked him about it in july of 2016. we have a little bit of it. >> would be interesting to see. i will tell you this, russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. i think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. let's see if that happens. that will be next. >> do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, russia, china, anybody, to interfere, to hack into a system of anybody in this country let
alone the rival. >> look, here's the problem. >> no, you just called for it a moment ago. you said the russians i welcome you to find those. >> has no respect. >> you said i welcome them to find those 30,000 e-mails. >> they probably have them. i'd like them released. >> does that not give you pause. >> if they have them, you know what gives me more pause? that a person in our government crooked hillary clinton. >> what if it was someone else and not hillary clintoning. > you want to saab her. that a person in our government, katie, would delete or get rid of 33,000 e-mails. that gives me a big problem. after she gets a subpoena. she gets subpoenaed. and she gets rid of 33,000 e-mails. that gives me a problem. now, if russia or china or any other country has those e-mails to be honest with you, i'd love to see they will. >> fearless, fearless katy tur an. >> he was pretty clear what he wan there had. >> now na you've read this had draft of cohen's testimony what, does it tell you about that time
period? >> i notice and we keep coming back to july 27th to, that moment on the campaign trail where he asked russia to find clinton's e-mails. and just to put it into context, this is the middle of the democratic national convention. the dnc has already been hacks. some of those e-mails have been releases and damaging for the dnc. michael cohen says days before the news conference right there, he says he was in mr. trump's office when his secretary announced that roger stone was on the phone. mr. trump put stone on speakerphone. mr. stone told mr. trump he had gotten off the phone with julian assange and that mr. assange told mr. stone within a couple days there would be a massive dump of e-mails that would damage hillary clinton's campaign. mr. trump responded to the effect of wouldn't that be great. this is a news conference that happened after michael cohen said this. one important note here. michael cohen offers corroborating evidence
throughout this document of other claims he is making about donald trump's behavior or what he says is donald trump's illegal activity. he does not offer any corroborating evidence for this and roger stone we've talked to him a number of times denied being ever in real contact with julian assange and having any real knowledge that this was coming. he said he was just working off of news reports. but this day keeps coming up when you ask about that moment where donald trump says russia, if you're listening, andrew mccabe said the other day that he was flabbergasted, that the fbi was flabbergasted when the fbi said this. we know it raised red flags. there was serious interest within the fbi about looking into donald trump and why he might have said that. it's also come up in the mueller filings when robert mueller indicted 13 russians for hacking, they say he says in that filing that those russians tried on that very day donald trump said that after he said that to hack into hillary clinton's personal e-mails.
so it all keeps coming back to that. it's unclear how significant it's going to be in the long run whether or not there will be any corroborating evidence that donald trump knew about the hacks, but this is another piece in a puzzle that we keep putting together here and it keeps coming back to this moment, why would donald trump ask russia seemingly out of nowhere to find hillary clinton's e-mails? why then. >> ari melber, attorney at law. robert mueller has spent more than 70 hours with michael cohen. that doesn't include who michael cohen has spoken to from the southern zrichkt new york. how does all of this tie into the mueller investigation? seemingly with that amount of time with cohen, he knows even more than this. >> when you look at this moment katie is detailing you have lies which are bad but usually legal. you have lies to the authorities which are bad and illegal and then you have was there collusion so let's just start with the lies that are packed in
here. donald trump and roger stone have denied even discussing this kind of stuff during the campaign. so if michael cohen is telling the truth here under oath and he's got a real incentive to do so or he could get in more trouble. >> what if he has a tape? what would that mean? >> that would be helpful. he doesn't say. they have all the tapes in new york that he made. if that tape were to exist, they would have it. he might it be under instruction not to release that, but even if he doesn't have a tape, you have him under oath basically saying these guys lied about this. now, roger stone was then asked how do you know what donald trump has told mueller about any of this in his written answers. he referred to public news accounts suggesting they didn't coordinate their answers. even though we were told cohen is trying to avoid russia stuff and the mueller probe today, this item on page 10 already goes to the heart of it. just to the finish the idea, if donald trump lied to mueller about talking to roger stone
about these wikileaks matters, that would be a new potential perchrous act in office. >> can you go back to that? is there a chance michael cohen is saying this conversation happened between roger stone and donald trump. he was in the room. we know he has dozens maybe hundreds of tapes. could that be true and could robert mueller have instructed him not to share that in his public testimony today? so if president trump comes out and denies this and causes michael cohen a liar, could robert mueller be sitting there with an actual tape of that exact conversation? >> sure. i think that is a possibility. we're not reporting evidence we know that's the case. >> but michael cohen wouldn't have to share that information in this public testimony. he wouldn't have to say, by the way, i have a tape of it? >> no, to the extent they're using that in the grand jury it would go in the other direction. he's not supposed to use it.
>> the better defense to this for the trump side would be well, if he's talking about it today, that means mueller is letting him which it means it's nos long area investigative avenue for bob mueller. >> yamiche, we cannot forget the split screen i talked about earlier this morning on this day, the president in vietnam for his second nuke clearing summit with kim jong-un. tell us about this. >> well, it's really an incredible day because you have president trump tweeting about michael cohen saying that he's essentially a liar. and showing that he's angry and focused on all the things happening in washington just moments before he sat down with kim jong-un. in that as president, as reporters and pool reports were yelling questions at the president, he got so angry at reporters wanting to know more about his reaction to cohen, for the next event can kim jong-un he barred some reporters from coming into the meeting. he's superfocused on washington even though he's having this
historic meeting with this dictator, he's in some ways mirroring the actions of dictators by barring american media. the key question for today is whether or not there's going to be criminal issues for the president and the people around him don junior and others and whether or not there's going to be political ramifications to see someone like michael cohen turn on him. i was making a list of some of the things he might be talking about that might have criminal liabilities. trump tower moscow, hush money payments, and trump's fabrication and using trump foundation money to buy a portrait of himself through a fake bidder. these are all things michael cohen will be able to point to. i think the critical thing for people who are trump supporters who believe "the apprentice" version of president trump who was a billionaire, michael cohen is going to trial to pull apart this image of the president as anyone who is successful and someone who is truthful and said he's going to say that president
trump ran as a "political infomercial" and he thought running for the presidency was about enriching himself. even more, he thought he was going to profit off the president. when he was president, he continued that criminal activity. michael cohen is going to have, if he sticks to the opening statements that pbs "newshour" has a check written by president trump to michael cohen, if he sticks to this, it's going to be an explosive day and president trump is not going to be able to only focus on vietnam. >> well, president trump and his supporters and the conservative media are pushing this idea that michael cohen is simply a rat. tim, i mentioned it earlier, you're a trump biographer but you wrote a column about the testimony and you called it the centerpiece of what may it be broader public's first vivid exposure to the financial and ethical conflicts as well as illegalities ha have swirled around trump and his entourage for a long time. as i said you wrote a book on
this man you. know that. you're familiar with his business empire. you know donald trump jr. well. allen weisselberg whose names are now drawn in by mike cohen in his public testimony. >> right. michael cohen is doing sort of an epic troll. donald trump right now. donald trump is hanoi and can't do anything about it. i imagine he's crawling up the walls. this is the power of television right now. we've had two years of print reports and legal filings and chatter among folks like us what all this means and we follow it in a very granular level. but i think the larger points of some of this gets lost on a lot of people. i think what you're seeing now with michael cohen testifying on television under oath before well informed people is the first sort of coming home of the trump scandals into people's living rooms. i think that's a big sea change in all of this. >> eddie, we keep hearing from the president and his allies. they going after cohen, his
character, calling him a rat. even some of his congressional allies are suggesting that michael cohen's wife is going to step out on him while he's in prison. what do you make of all this that's going on? i'm not sure why that's a relevant subject. >> it's not surprising they would go after his character, after all cohen did lie before congress. this is why he's going to jail. it doesn't mean he has to then be redeemed and made a paragon of virtue. michael cohen is who he is. part what have is coming into view is that michael cohen is really in some ways shall we say verifying, substantiating what we already know. already knew donald trump was a racist. i already knew he was a con man. duh. i already knew that he was a cheat. it's clear. right? but what we do know is cohen is coming to the table with receipts. what is clear i think after this testimony is we have allowed donald trump with his filthy feet to trample over our
democracy and we have allowed donald trump and his enablers to trample over our democracy with their filthy feet. this is coming into view as congress is now taking on its role as oversight. >> we shouldn't take pause with the fact that one of his chief enablers is michael cohen or was. >> michael cohen, he spent a lot of time with him on the campaign trail. he was seeslessly defend donald trump. it doesn't matter what you were asking him, what was going in that moment and basically you're on the phone with the guy almost every day considering how that campaign played out. mike cohen always defended donald trump no matter what. >> and threatened journalists. >> yes, absolutely. he did so in print. we have documents of that. this is donald trump's biggest supporter now turning on him. yes, he would like a reduced prison sentence. i don't know how this gets him a reduced prison sentence since all of this evidence is already in the hands of the sdny. maybe it's for his future reputation but michael cohen is
coming out at risk to himself right now. if he lies to congress, he coface new charges. this is his peril, not his benefit necessarily. unless he's just going out and trying to rehab his reputation. remember though, i mean, the sdny sentencing memo for michael cohen you know this, was scathing, was scathing. they basically called all of this one big act. he is no hero. so you have that credibility issue. you have a man who is going to prison. you have a man who knows this president better than any of us do certainly who worked with him closely for ten years, has some receipts. he's going on capitol hill and when he says he's a con man, when he says he's a racist, when he says he's a cheat, even if you have all the evidence in front of you, there is some real weighting there coming from one
someone like michael cohen. >> you have a man on the other side of the world at his second nuclear summit. president trump in vietnam just wrapping up a second historic meeting with north korean dictator kim jong-un. the two greeting one another with a warm handshake just a few hours ago in hanoi, the second time they have met in person following last year's summit that took place in singapore. >> it's an honor to be with chairman kim. it's an honor to be together. i thought the first summit was a great success and i think this one hopefully will be equal or greater than the first and we made a lot of progress. i think the biggest progress was our relationship is really a good one. >> joining me now chief white house correspondent hallie jackson live in hanoi and nbc news chief foreign affairs correspondent and host of "andrea mitchell reports" live in dc, andrea mitchell. they finished a one-on-one meeting before dinner. what have you learned about that
meeting? we've heard before president trump said he likes him. they're friends. we also know following the last summit all the things the president said were agreed upon, none of them that happened. >> remember, this dinner was a social dinner as it was framed to us by the white house this idea it was more ceremonial than getting down to brass tacks as it relates to hashing out some of the negotiating pieces to the puzzle. it was a small group, kim jong-un, two of his top aides, two people who have experiences in negotiations along with president trump, mime pompeo. the president is back at his hotel which means we will not see him again in tern till the summit begins late night your time back in the u.s. i would not rule out tweets perhaps or some kind of a comment from president trump online given what we have seen with michael cohen and how that is developing. the president refused to take questions related to cohen today.
he take other questions related to to whether the u.s. would help to negotiate a formal end to the korean war. president said simply we will see. you talk about the friendship, quote unquote, and the relationship that president trump talks about with kim jong-un. this is a president who a coup months of ago talked about how he fell in love. the president has this budding relationship between the two the something he hopes to use as leverage. there are real concerns frern experts and other observers that kim may be the one to leverage that to his benefit to convince donald trump to give up more than what the u.s. wants to make more concessions than some believe prudent in this situation. the one-on-one meeting interesting given it was just these two before that small group dinner. mostly supposed to be a social occasion. we'll see just what the two can hammer out. you make the important point too that despite the promises that
kim made, the idea that north korea would work toward denuclearization, both parties can't agree how to define denuclearization and people the president hired and put in his administration say kim has not given up on his nuclear ambition. a real split screen moment. i've been on these trips with the president. it is almost always a split screen moment and the numbers back it up. in eight of the last 11 foreign trips the president has taken, 11 total foreign trips in, eight of them, developments related to the russia investigation have been happening back at home while the president is overseas. the white house may want to see the news out of the vietnam summit top the headlines, but in reality you know there is a lot of attention that will be focus on what michael cohen has to say back home. >> we always have to remind our audience, north korea is one of the poorest countries in the world. it is their nuclear power that has given them this many attention.
if kim jong-un didn't have that power, i assure you, president trump would not be sitting down with him twice in the last year. andrea, talk about the optics, the split screen optics, where the president is, what he's doing, how extraordinarily important this summit is for our national security and how important michael cohen's testimony is for president personally and professional little. >> the fact that he's been tweeting about that today just hours before going into this dinner with kim jong-un, the fact that reporters, the two wire service reporters part of that very small pool were kicked out of the subsequent coverage today because they asked questions, the president did respond to some questions about the nuclear summit but did not respond to a question about michael cohen but he had been tweeting about michael cohen. so it was expected that he would be asked about that, and because of "the sensitivities of the summit." the white house kept those reporters out. that is so unusual. usually when the white house, the secretary of state go into
foreign countries to totalitarian regimes because it is the egyptians or chinese or other totalitarian leaders who limit the press access but never before to my knowledge, to my experience that goes back many decades never before has it been the white house limiting the access. so that is very unusual. so there's clearly sensitivity about the split screen moment. and to the point, the core point of what is at stake here with the president clearly emphasizing veet pam's economic advantages since normalizing relations in 1995 with the u.s., they were not a nuclear power. there was not as much at stake. but they had had hostilities obviously. the past conflicts with the u.s. that had to be resolved. but with all of the nuclear power, the threat, the chemical and biological weapons, the human rights abuses, gulag that the white house is not even talking about, all those millions of prisoners, deaths and destruction in north korea,
with the president keeps pointing to is the economic miracle of vietnam to try to say if you give up your nukes look what you can get. the real concern is he already lowering the threshold for what he's willing to concede and goes into this vulnerable situation part by because of the michael cohen testimony and all he is facing, he needs a success more than kim does. >> it is a busy day on the world stage. thank you. i want to remind our audience what we're looking at here in washington on your screen. we are 30 minutes away from what is expected to be a tell-all live testimony by president trump's former fixer and attorney michael cohen. he arrived on capitol hill a little while ago to appear before the house oversight committee to detail his sense of the president's conduct after working with trump over ten years. before we get into what cohen is expected to detail today, i want to look at how the president's views on cohen have evolved
since last spring. >> we actually don't have that sound. luckily i have a panel to explain it all to us, how his relationship has changed and now the man who once said he would take a bullet for donald trump as a the president is "a racist, a con man, and a cheat." that comes from his prepared statement. the final draft provided by his attorney lanny davis. the former fixer goes on to talk about those who might doubt he's telling the truth now. he says "for those who question my motives being here today, i understand. i have lied. but i'm not a liar. i have done bad things but i'm not a bad man. i have fixed things but i am no longer your fixer, mr. trump." i have an extraordinary team to help me. garrett haake back on the hill, katy tur still with us, eddie glaug back with me and donny deutsch, a long time friend of mike cohen.
garrett, set the stage. we're less than 30 minutes from showtime. >> yeah, there's extraordinary expectation among members on capitol hill to get their hands on michael cohen. yes, he has enormous credibility problems with congress. he is going to jail in part because he lied to members of this body. forgive me for having my head on a swivel because some of these members are starting to arrive. i'd like to bring them into the conversation. the fact they have an opportunity to question someone who has been this close to president trump for this longing is too tantalizing for these lawmakers to give up despite the credibility problems. that's why i think the documents, the exhibits that michael cohen will be bringing with him today are so important because they does add to his credibility here on these particular topics. remember as we speak today, a lot of the russia stuff will be carved out of this hearing. there was essentially an agreement between the various pans questioning cohen over this three-day period that the russia-related elements of this
would largely be kept to the conversations behind closed doors in the various intelligence committees and today will focus on other alleged misdeeds of the president. you will have a fullsome examination of those just in part by the nature of the folks who make up this panel. you've got some of the young new members here including alexanderdrial ocasio-cortez, who will want to get very much into it with michael cohen and his defenders gym jordan, mark meadows who will be pushing back equally as hard. they spec a lot of firework today. i think continued dribbling out of news from those behind closed doors hearings in which we're going to get answers to questions that even if they're asked here today, michael cohen probably won't be able to answer. >> garrett, thank you. donny deutsch, you are the ultimate brand man. michael cohen is looking to rebrand himselfpy watched you on tv this morning. you're buying what this guy is
trying to sell. >> to say i'm buying what he's trying to sell is i think a simplistic take on things. i've had a front row seat and a 20-year seat with donald trump and ten years with michael cohen. michael cohen was blindly loyal 0 donald trump. he's the first one to say and i know donald trump. donald trump is incredibly charismatic. look what he's done to this country. michael will say i bought into it. it gave him a badge. let me finish. yes, he lied on behalf of his boss. does that mean -- not for his own good to protect him. does that make him stupid? yes. does that make him a come pulsive liar that we can't believe anything he says, of not. if he tells the truth, he doesn't get any benefit. if he lies he gets more prison time. he has everything to lose. we're going to see a guy symbolic of the rest of the country. you'll watch this many kind of
weave that basically i bought into it. i was patient zero. >> donny, he did more than buy into it. >> he was his lawyer. by the way, many people around him buy into it. he's a seductive man. does that mean we can't believe anything he says today? those two lines don't make any sense together. >> donny's not wronging about that. >> i want to go back to garrett haake. he's got a member of the committee with him now. garrett? >> reporter: i'm here with stacey of the u.s. virgin islands, a former prosecutor. you said you were sort of the cleaner here. you come in later. >> i come in later but there aren't -- having been a prosecutor, my job will be to really analyze the answers that we're given particularly responding to what the republicans are going to be saying. to try and make hur that the facts and hey, the facts are facts in place. >> have you had a chance to review the testimony that cohen plans to give. >> sure. >> based on that, what questions would you have out of the gate? >> i mean, the initial questions
are and i'm sure this will be done by most of my other colleagues is why do we believe him now. i think what he's done to demonstrate that is to have factual evidence with him that supports the things that he's saying. and i think that is irrefutable. that's in law what we're talking about is you know, beyond a reasonable doubt because there is not just circumstantial evidence with his testimony but there's factual evidence with the checks and some of those other pieces of evidence. >> how high of a bar is that for you and your colleagues given that he has lied to this body before? give me a sense of the level of trust or mistrust he will face from members of this panel. >> on the other side, it's going to be very high. on our side, as well. i think what we're showing here is listen, the republicans want him to continue lying. what he has said is yes, i have lied in the past. i'm going to be sentenced. i'm going to go to jail for the things that i did. and we're going to be talking
about the criminal elements of what he purports to have been president trump's activity. and that's i think where we're going to try and stick to. it's not necessarily just what he says. but evidence that supports it. you know, this is an ongoing investigation. we're not going to be talking about the russia pieces in that, as well. and i think that's going to where we try and keep ourselves in the lane. the republicans, of course, will have their agenda which is just to show that he's a liar. >> congresswoman, they're telling me we've got to go. i look forward to your questions in the room. thank you for stopping. >> all right, garrett. we are less than 20 minutes away from michael cohen's testimony. stick with us. on the other side, sam nunberg is here. he knows michael cohen and donald trump. he'll let us know ho thinks is lying. donald trump he'll let us know ho thinks is lying.
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so i know if i'm getting a great price. this is how car buying was always meant to be. this is truecar. but prevagen helps your brain with an ingredient originally discovered... in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. welcome back. i'm stephanie rhule. we are just a few minutes away from the start of michael cohen's public testimony before the house oversight committee. former trump campaign aide sam nunberg with me, katy tur, along time michael cohen friend donny deutsch and former u.s. attorney my friend chuck rosenburg. all with me at the table. sam, earlier today i heard you say republicans who are aggressively defending the president today will live to regret that. >> 100%. the fact they wanted to start
going on a tit-for-tat on adultery with michael. >> who cares? i don't think the american people care. >> correct. michael outplayed them. the reason being is all of trump world they were telling me we can't wait for michael to testify. this is a way to destroy the mueller investigation because he is not credible. michael documented everything in there factually about donald trump. he has handled the press very well. michael very smart at doing what he just did. that's why donald trump employed him all those years. he was a target of the mueller investigation. they asked me about roger stone. next questions were about michael cohen. my grand jury testimony was probably more about michael cohen than about roger stone. he was critical for the investigation because he was able to justify the mueller team getting into the southern district. is michael sympathetic be? no, read the charging memo. michael apparently did not tell the truth what he did from his
point of view. hell hath nothing fury like a food soldier scorned. michael cleaned up donald trump's messes. he took a lot of brutal -- i was there. >> chose to. it's what made him famous. >> correct. donald trump stepped all over him. one of my last conversation iz had with michael michael looked me in the eye told me the way i was fired, they tried to ruin me. and he said to me, do you think the boss really wanted that? i said michael, do you realize you're next? after what just happened to me? he was blind for trump. he was doing trump's bidding up till around his office was raided frankly. >> why is everybody so cultish in this world? because they are. donny wasn't wrong when he said that the other day. when you talk to the people around trump it, sounds a bit cult. >> he kind of brings together a bunch of misfit toys who would never have an opportunity on the big stage. name one person no offense, sam,
name one person who was ever part of the trump organization, the business, that went on to run a big legitimate new york business and i'll eat my hat. you can't. >> look at lawmakers who is your rounding him in the white house. some you could argue are misfit toys and ansome are big names. i'm not saying they're part of this cultish behavior. >> you're not part of the cult. >> i want to know what it is about him that koreas thcreatest of loyalty. >> we had a lot, my relationship is a tenant in hisable. i did three seasons of "the apprentice." we traveled in the same circles. he is a perfect example, you met him. this is what leadership is. he sucks -- you know he's a charla tan. you know it but you somehow put it aside because he makes you laugh and makes you feel important. talk to any new yorker i knew
him as well as anybody. do you like donald trump. yes. do you think he's a slime bag. yes. i did not go to work for him and you even poor billy bush who ended up paying the ultimate price, he giggled at something that was disgusting. >> it's how voters felt about it, too. >> one other thing that's really important. my argument, i'm not here to defend michael cohen. i find our president reprehensible and mike the cohen is one of the first dominos to fall. i don't think anybody should sympathize. it's the question is he credible. >> sympathy and credibility. >> i'm not arguing like him. >> if they want to start saying he's not credible, if rudy guiliani wants to say that, i've seen rudy with michael cohen. for me as a political operative, donald trump was a blunt instrument somebody able to change the narrative whether you liked or not, somebody to get through the noise.
it was amazing to work for somebody as opposed to a politician who you had celebrities around. he was cool. you didn't have to act in that button up style and you were able to do you know, things that weren't completely outside of c outside of the norm of politics. whether it was social media or rallies, things like that. >> hold on one second. i have to include charles rosenberg. chuck, what's your take? >> i have a point about credibility, stephanie. criminals lie, cheat and steal until they get caught. at that point most criminals at least smart criminals try to help themselves by telling the truth. prosecutors don't accept that wholesale. we try to corroborate everything they tell us. the documents he's producing today at the hearing are a step in that direction. i guarantee to you that the mueller team and the sdny team, the prosecutors in manhattan have much more in way of documentation than anything that michael cohen is going to show
the committee today. but credibility is something that i hear cannot tell you that i know unless i see corroboration. and that will come in the form of not only documents and e-mails and bank records and phone records, but lots and lots of other witnesses. that's how prosecutors assure that those criminals who lie, cheat, and steal and have now joined team america are now telling the truth. >> and we've already seen the chairman take his seat. jim jordan. on your screen on the left, moments ago you were shaking your head. you have no time for this talk here about how he's a celebrity. he's personable. people like to be around him. this is a narrative you don't like to hear. >> we are talking like we're in the last scene of a bad drama of a reality show. >> guess what. america loves reality tv. >> i know. and this is the most powerful position in the world. all right? we have something going on in north korea.
reality show. we have pakistan shooting down planes in india. we have -- >> venn day la. >> and we're talking about charisma and who likes who? is this where we are? >> this is where we are, yes. >> it explains how he got elected and why he was -- >> it speaks volumes about who we are. >> totally. when you talk to people voting for donald trump and the way they talked about him, donny hit the nail on the head. do you like donald trump? yes. do you think he's a slime ball? >> yes. those things were not distinct from each other. they liked that he was a slime ball. they thought he was entertaining. it is his personality. it was a personality much more than policy. this personality was what captured the attention of enough people in this country, not the popular vote, to put them in the oval office. that's why we're talking about it today. >> one of the example, closest to the sun. the interesting thing about the two stories, the two big stories
today is on the one hand we have michael cohen trying to prove he's the ultimate con man. no different than the wall or tax cut for the little guy, producing and selling the con. on the other side of the globe, a guy trying to take off the emperor's clothes. >> it feels like we're at the twilight of this place. >> we're just at the beginning. you know this ends with a ricco charge by the southern district. they are going to rico that organization, take the thing apart building by building. i promise. >> how amazing does katy tur look as a pregnant woman? are you not allowed to say that? >> at this table, you are. >> i appreciate it. >> i also think you looked fantastic before you were fantastic, but i love how brilliant you are. >> the two are not mutually exclusive. >> let's get back to business. >> we can keep talking about me and how great i am. >> the commercial break, we'll devote to you.
>> i'm kidding. >> joining us, gregg brower, he's a former u.s. attorney and former director of the office of congressional affairs at the fbi. he was under jim comey and cynthia oxney. i know this thing hasn't kicked off yet. dwre gregg, what is most compelling to you about michael cohen as a witness here? >> well, he knows a lot, clearly. he's been at the center of trump world and all the problems or embarrassing or legal issues in trump world for more than a decade. and let me just emphasize what my friend and former doj colleague chuck rosenberg said earlier. cohen in this setting is not unlike the typical cooperating witness in a criminal case. one difference is he's not going to have a prosecutor leading him through a direct examination trying to establish his credibility. he's going to have to do that on his own today. but it's not something that is
unfamiliar to prosecutors. this is a witness who has some baggage who will admit to past lies but is going to tell the committee and the public today that he's now telling the truth. and i think there's a good chance he can pull that off. mostly because what he will say based upon his opening statement appears to fit in with an overall pattern of what seems to make sense and seems to be logical. the key as chuck said will be corroborating evidence. will what cohen says today be backed up by documents and other witnesses? it appears that some of his testimony certainly will be, and i think that's the key. >> cynthia, what matters most? >> well, i'm looking forward to hearing the conversation about his lying to the senate before and how he circulated his testimony that it was edited, he says in his opening statement by trump's personal lawyers.
i'd like him to say exactly which lawyers these were. mcgahn has said it wasn't name. and what did they know about it? did they talk about it with trump? that's an interesting piece i'm looking forward to. in addition to -- i want to say one thing about evaluating credibility. i completely agree with what everybody said about corroboration. it's the big word today, and it should be. there's also sort of a gut level evaluation of credibility. when a person tells a story, what rings true to them? and when you hear his -- when you read his statement about trump would say to him, there's nothing going on in russia, you know, basically right? and then they would discuss what was going on in russia, and then trump would go out to the crowd and say i have nothing to do with russia, that rings true to me about the manner in which he was wood shedding cohen to continue to lie for him without ever directing him to lie. it will be interesting to see if he's able to communicate that
gut level credibility to the camera and to the american public. >> cynthia, isn't that sort of how mobsters work? in those cases how does one in a prosecutor's position, get himself to the top, to the mob boss? >> well, he's going to have to do it with corroboration. i mean, there's a difference between the american people are making a gut level decision, and there's proof beyond a reasonable doubt. that's going to require x day i met, and here's the proof. the secretary saw me go into the office. it's going to be every level of detail. i would have wished that in establishing his credibility he had a binder in front of him with every one of those so we could say yes, i met with president on this day and here is my phone records setting up the meeting. exhibit 742. here is the time i walked in according to secretary and
here's her statement. i would rather it be done that way to shore up the websiitness. he's going to have to do it differently because he doesn't have the documentation. >> matt gates walked from the room. some said yesterday he was threatening him. we know he is an ardent supporter of president trump. do we expect characters like this will do everything possible from blocking michael cohen from saying much of anything today? >> well, i think we can expect them to go on the offensive and try to attack cohen's credibility. i do think, though, though, it is it is in a trial, that is a dicey proposition, because if it backfires, if the questioner comes on too strong, and the witness appears to be sympathetic and credible, it really could backfire and bolster cohen's credibility to
the detriment of those on the committee who would like to undercut his credibility. >> we are two minutes away. michael cohen, former attorney and fixer to donald trump for over 10 years. a man who put donald trump before his own family is now set to testify publicly about his interactions with president trump over the last ten years based on the draft that we've seen. you see michael cohen making his way in right now. this is stunning. sam, i turn to you. you know michael cohen. you know donald trump. you know roger stone. take me inside roger stone's head right now. he's been mentioned here. >> roger didn't like michael. always viewed him as an idiot. he was in competition for donald's affection. a lot of them were. this was a world they were in. >> were you? >> i was at a point with lewandowski, but then when i got fired or i was about to get
fired, i could tell, i said screw donald. after all the time i worked for him, i don't need this. it's important to note, michael has evidence with him. john dean did not have evidence. he has outplayed the trump people. whatever they want to do today, whatever they're going to try to do to delay this, they're going to look like idiots. their best defense is so what. >> cynthia, if he has evidence, we no that prosecutors already have that evidence. why haven't we seen action taken against donald trump junior? if he signed a check that was a hush money payment whether it was to mcdougal or stormy daniels, why haven't we seen don junior touched? >> well, i think we're going to. it's hard for me to believe that the mueller investigation could ever wrap up without something with don junior. as far as we know, he hasn't even been interviewed. that would suggest he's a target of the investigation. and i would agree with donny. there's lots to come out of the southern district of