tv The Beat With Ari Melber MSNBC December 6, 2022 3:00pm-3:43pm PST
>> have a good show. >> absolutely. >> we're watching two big stories. polls in georgia in an hour. we begin tonight with major legal breaking news. guilty. guilty on all charges. that is the verdict in the trump org trial. a jury convicted to entire company -- this came in late today -- of every charge levelled in the case. this is a blow to trump's entire company, to his financial standing and to how that company may try to do business in the future. if you followed this here, if you're one of these americans who watched news and wondered, when will there ever be accountability for what looks like a long trail of trump misconduct, malfeasance, and as we've seen today, convicted illegal activities, you might know some of the path. the path to this verdict took off when a former trump lawyer and trump org executive first publicly blew the whistle on what he allege was financial
misconduct in testimony before congress. now, whatever you think of that path and whatever you think of mr. cohen who ultimately also went to prison for other convicted crimes related to working for trump, the fact is he made those allegations in public, med them under oath, and that's the thing investigators, prosecutors look at. they have to make an individual determination over whether to act on that. well, act they did. the d.a.'s office pursued that based on cohen's information, which they found to be credible and provable, because you got to get a jury on board. and they convicted trump's top money man allen weisselberg this past august that led to his testimony against the entire trump organization in this case. it also got him a reduced prison sentence. the verdict today, brand new, is a legal slam dunk -- guilty on all counts. it also came quick, a speed that may reflect there was little doubt among the jurors after
hearing the case. they returned the verdict after deliberating for just over a day. trump's company faces a million dollars in fines and wider questions about how the conviction may limit his funding, future partnerships, legal heat on whether there can even be consequences for donald trump himself. saw his company now convicted in this case. he faces an open questions in the probe by the attorney general, where he became the first ever president to plead the fifth on the grounds that true answers there might incriminate him, and stack on top of that, two open federal criminal probes. that's why with everything going on in voting and america tonight, we have the former personal attorney to president trump, michael cohen. he's the author of the book "revenge", how donald trump weaponized -- as mentioned, michael the facts are, a lot of it traces back to what you testified under oath -- the
prosecutors found it credible, ace mentioned, the jurors found it credible. your response to this conviction of the company where you once worked. >> yeah, so one of the big concerns, new york d.a., manhattan d.a., was could we get a jury that did not have with it someone who is a trump maga supporter? and clearly the answer to that is yes. donald trump's -- or i should say, the trump organization's convictions, while very, very gratifying, so to speak, it doesn't hold -- accountable. and the fact that allen weisselberg fell on the sword, and so i guess between the assistant comptroller, again, it doesn't hold donald trump accountable. the next question that people should be asking themselves is, what's next for alvin bragg?
and in light of the -- of the new individual, christopher -- what's his name, ari, the last name, the new attorney, he's going to continue to look at other crimes that have come as a result of this investigation. >> yeah. well you raise several points, michael. one, there has been this new hire from a doj veteran. we'll put that up. the reporting on this was bragg hired a former doj official with a history of taking on trump. you mentioned what mr. bragg has in store. nicolle wallace i lewded to this earlier, he's going to speak out for the first time tonight on a few moments on msnbc on "the beat." so we'll get his views directly as someone who was a witness in the case, as i mentioned, worked at the trump org. your view, when we see a conviction on defrauding the government, the conspiracy on tax fraud, on falsifying records at a place called trump org,
from your time there, does that mean donald trump himself would be in on those things? >> well, one of the things i said, and i'm saddened it has taken almost three years now since my house oversight committee hearing, where i had individuals like mr. clay and ocasio-cortez and jamie raskin all ask me very sub instanti questions that are similar or identical to the issues brought up by the manhattan district attorney. so, the answer, as i gave then and i've given to 20 different organizations, whether it's congressional, law enforcement, et cetera, there was nothing that went on at the trump organization that donald trump -- not only did he know about but he would also sign off on. allen weisselberg was not authorized to do anything. that's of course until donald trump became president, and he became the trustee on the behalf
of don junior and eric trump. but weisselberg, during my time there, anything that came across his desk, he was very specific about having it documented on paper. you would sign a line, and then they would have donald sign either his initial or his name. so, yes, donald trump knew every single thing that was going on. nothing got approved without his signature. >> you refer to that initialing process. it may sound like this is a bit in the weeds of the paper work, but it's also where you have to go digging to get the evidence, and the closing arguments, one of the assistant d.a.s referred to what you just said. they had evidence, held it up to the jury showing donald trump's initial an exactly one of those pieces of financial misconduct, which is now tonight convicted in the state of new york. when you look at that all together and your personal knowledge, do you think they would still have a case against mr. trump personally? >> let me not say whether i would or would not.
how about you had -- and you had watch ya ma cal it, mark pomeranz. both believe there's now have to indict eric, don junior, ivanka, and so on on different matters, including this, when at the seven-week mark, alvin bragg elected not to go forward with that part of the case, they obviously resigned in protest. so i defer to them, because they really are the experts in the area, but i definitely concur with them. i believe that not only was there enough to have indicted donald in the past on the same crimes, but i believe -- and if in fact they did indict him tomorrow, that the same crimes and same criminal behavior could be exposed and identified for a jury. >> really striking, speaking to someone who's work there had, who knows the players and who was a witness. michael cohen, thanks for making
time for us on a breaking news night. i now want to turn to attorney maya wylie, leads the leadership conference on civil rights. she was a former civil prosecutor in the southern district of new york and a former mayoral candidate of new york. there's a lot of new york in this case. we just heard from the witness as i described him, mr. cohen. you have d.a. bragg here. he was on the ticket in the election cycle where you were talking about a lot of these same issues at the mayoral level. for folks around the nation who are keeping an eye now on new york, what does it mean to have this conviction tonight by the d.a.? >> well, first of all, it's a critically important conviction. it is one that demonstrates that the trump organization's guilty on all 17 counts. they didn't get acquitted on one of them. and it's because the witnesses, including mr. weisselberg, who cooperated in terms of the
corporations themselves, made it very clear that there was tax fraud, that it was intentional, that he knew about it. and frankly, it was also very clear that the prosecutors were trying to establish that there was evidence, even if they didn't feel it was sufficient evidence to indict donald trump -- that there was still evidence that he knew about the fraud and approved it, at least in one instance with regard to michael calamari. that also is going to reverberate. that is not something that's going to disappear from the conversation. it strikes me that was an effort to show some of what the evidence said in absence of the indictment. that means what the public has gotten is justice in terms of the corporation's violation of law, but also a sense of what the evidence has been and they were not shy about calling trump out by name. >> when you take that together, what do you see as the leads
generated? because in one sense you hear from people saying, oh, was this late -- does donald trump get away with things that other people don't? on the other hand, people are going to jail, and whether or not he was either good at hiding his own crimes, which was the insinuation in the closing argument i mentioned of the d.a., or whether as his lawyers argue he wasn't a part of those crimes, it's a fact tonight that was not legal fact yesterday that this is a guilty company and its operating residents of new york. >> if anyone did a google search of the name donald trump and fraud, a whole lot of hits would come up, because there was the alleged civil fraud for his university, in which he settled that case, but fraud was the
allegation. there were the allegations where he had the shut down the trump foundation in new york state because the funds were being used for personal benefit, which you cannot do under the charitable laws of new york. we have currently tish james the attorney general for new york state continuing to investigate tax and insurance fraud civil but nonetheless fraud, and then we have what comes up in this case. i could go on. but i think the point is, the word fraud is attached to the name of donald trump in a whole lot of news stories and a whole lot of cases in investigations. and i want to add one other point that's important not to forget here. it is very difficult for prosecutors to prove a case without direct evidence, right? you can have circumstantial evidence, but it still has to point very directly. allen weisselberg bent over backwards to cooperate with the
defense attorneys as well as the prosecutors. he would not come forward with any and flip on donald trump. he was still getting a paycheck from the trump organization even as he was testifying, and this is something we have seen from donald trump in the past. so a lot of loyalists go to prison -- we could talk about steve bannon getting -- not being convict in the that particular case. but the bottom line is there's a lot of people who protect donald trump. >> yeah, as you say, they protect donald trump. they make some sort of calculation, and the system has a high bar. the system does not err on the side of convicting you just because your name as on the front door. although tonight in this broadcast and on the trial, we've heard people leaving you with the factual conclusion that the name on the door was aware and not just out to lunch while other people did this. as i mention, we have this big booking coming up. i'm going turn to that.
i want to thank maya wylie. shortest break, 60 seconds, when we come back, the manhattan d.a. who just won this conviction in the trump case, alvin brag, is lye when we're back in 60 seconds. ack in 60 seconds. kevin! kevin? oh nice. kevin, where are you... kevin?!?!?.... hey, what's going on? i'm right here! i was busy cashbacking for the holidays with chase freedom unlimited. i'm gonna cashback on a gingerbread house! oooh, it's got little people inside! and a snowglobe. oh, i wished i lived in there. you know i can't believe you lost another kevin. it's a holiday tradition! that it is! earn big time with chase freedom unlimited. ♪
continuing our coverage of a breaking story tonight. it's clearly a blow to donald trump's company, a legal and business fact, even as he tries to run for president. the conviction on all counts also a vindication for new york district attorney alvin bragg, who assumed office earlier this year, led this prosecution. the d.a. of manhattan almost always has a pretty full plate, but that's especially true right now as bragg has been tackling crime, police reform, and of course high profile probes like this one. bragg has said before that no
one is above the law. >> this is the sort of work we do here at the district attorney's office each and every day, ensuring that went a manhattanite hands over money, that it actually goes there, without any smoke screens. >> i led the team that held trump and his children accountable for their misconduct with the trump foundation. >> in manhattan and in new york, you will be held accountable for defrauding donors. >> i go where the facts go. >> today a jury found the facts, convicted the trump organization. as is customary during a trial like this, bragg largely demurred in public, let the prosecutors do the talking in court. tonight he's doing his first interview since the verdict right here on msnbc on "the beat." d.a. alvin bragg, thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me on, ari. >> what does this conviction mean? >> it's consequential in a number of ways. first, we've got the former president's namesake corporations being convicted --
criminal convictions -- in contrast to prior civil matters. and the broader message, this was a case about cheating and lying, greed, the arguments you heard in the courtroom. so the message as you played in the lede in connection with the steve bannon case which we brought and other white collar matters is one standard of justice for all. we go where the facts take school bus hold those accountable engaged in the kind of conduct that these organizations did. >> you say you go where the facts are, and this is one of those interesting times where we had a witness on tonight, we had a pretty prominent attorney. people were asking questions and making comments about why you're done what you've done with your power, so now you get to respond to what some of them raise and what you're familiar with, which is the legal question, if you can win this case against the trump org and you had all this evidence, why does it not lead to charging donald trump himself? >> so, you know, as i said back in april in a statement,
investigation's ongoing. this is one chapter. i caution people against reading ahead. we needed to focus on this and do what i thought the public resist of my office a superb job they did in the courtroom. that was the focus. but as i said, the investigation is ongoing. there are other matters why that part of the team was in court for the world to see and putting these facts out. we had other people back advancing the ball in other ways. the investigation is ongoing. >> is this conviction the end of the story or a building block? >> we follow the facts, and this is part of a broader piece of work we have been doing since i joined the office in january, and we're going to continue it. we paused today because this is quite consequential, a criminal conviction for the former president's namesake corporations. but the work continues. this work never stops, and we're going to continue to do that,
and there may be -- i don't know. i don't want to get ahead of the facts. but there may be other moments we can report out publicly. i committed to doing that when we reach a conclusion, whether that's by indictment or closing the investigation. >> with regard to mr. trump. >> with regard to mr. trump. >> in the trial, i read some reporting, one of your d.a.s in this victorious case argued at the close mr. trump had personal knowledge of the tax cheating. the d.a. pointing out a document initialled by trump that he called, quote, explicit proof of knowing his execs were tinkering with expenses to reduce their taxes. if you have that in court and you chose -- it's your office. you stand behind it of course. to introduce that in the trial, doesn't that look to someone like trump was in on it? >>, so i'm going say his name. ada steinglass made that argument demand a superb job along with susan hoffinger. and that argument was put to the
jury very well. the defense was raising -- putting out, saying they're trying to distance trump from themselves. we're not talking about low he'll. we're talk about high managerial agents. who set the compensation structure? at the trial, the former president sanctioned this conduct. different from whether or not he's criminally reliable, but as i said, the investigation is ongoing. >> what is the punishment for this conviction for the company? and what do you say to skeptics who look at this and say, wow, you won on all counts. legally a big victory, but skeptics say, sit really a big punishment, or do corporations look at this as the cost of business when you get caught? >> i heard your prior guest talk about trump university and trump foundation. i was in senior leadership at the a.g.'s office when we did
those. very important matters. they weren't criminal. a criminal conviction is of a different sort some answer your question, yes, maximum penalty of $1.6 million. but consequences is chilling effect in the marketplace of having a criminal conviction, the message it sends to others, the general deterrents that we won't stand for this kind of cheating and lying and greed in manhattan is all, i think, very, very important. in and of itself. but ace said, it's also a chapter in a larger book and part of a larger investigation. >> your office so so powerful that when you hire someone, people start making interpretations of that. i want to give you the benefit to address the headlines, because maybe they're overwritten. "the times" had a big piece noting you hired this doj veteran. does that mean you're ramping up the trump case when at the same time the other folk your predecessor brought on, d.a. vance, left during the case.
does this headline mean there is an escalation, or is that overwritten? >> what it means is we are a phenomenal office that attracts phenomenal talent. so matthew is a dear former colleague. we worked at the attorney general's office on many matters, including the trump foundation matter. he's coming in to help us on a broad range of matters. >> so it's not a trump thing. >> i would say without committing exactly -- i'm not going to say any matter he's working on, but a broad sweep, but i think the focus in the last 24 hours has been almost exclusively on trump. this is someone who's multifaceted. chief of staff to tom perez when he was the labor secretary. he was at the naacp legal defense fund doing affordable housing litigation. senior not once but twice. helping oversee tax. he's going to help us in a
number of ways, and that's going to include our most sensitive white collar investigations. >> you're here on a big win. this was a huge victory, and it's a victory that other prosecutors have not reached when you look at holding this company accountable. i wish i had you here every week. i want to turn to a couple other quick things while we have you here. crime is a challenge across the country. new york city is a big place, so it become a symbol for that. what type of crime is rising in new york? why is it rising? and where does that fit in with the commitment you made to be a prosecutor who does deal with violent crime and guns but also is trying toe are form some of what you as a candidate called the overpolicing? >> let me start with the violent crime. very, very importantly, year date, homicides in new york city are down. they're down even further in manhattan. and shootings year to date are down citywide and down furter in manhattan. we have been focusing like a
laser on those who drive violence. it's a very small percentage of the population that does that kind of violent crime we have been focusing, working with state and local partners on gun trafficking, ghost guns, and all those things are helping to drive those numbers down. i think that's an important message that doesn't get talked about enough. but certainly there are other issues that we need to continue to work on guns as well -- other issues that we need to drive down and get back to prepandemic levels. we still are coming out of so much dislocation, and we're seeing it. so we have other initiatives. we're focusing on reform. we're focusing in our office, deepened our mental health supports for incarceration. we've seen a lot of criminal conduct that's a result of distress and trying to really rice recidivism and increase public safety by connecting to people to, for example, mental health services. you walk around manhattan and see these issues like i do.
so that's just one example as you mentioned reform. >> you look at rikers island, something we've covered. a lot of people who've looked at the issue say it's a broken prison, one of the largest facilities in the united states. broken jail. it's something that your agenda has been critical of. mayor adams said initially they'd try to close it. now he says know. the last democratic mayor tried to close it and didn't. you don't have a magic wand that controls that. there's a larger system there. but as prosecutor of this big city, is rikers fundamentally broken? is it fixable? do you have to make change there? >> there's no doubt that reichers is a significant manchurian issue. we had a training over the summer for all of our assistant district attorneys with the board of correction really to highlight the condition so they would know when making a decision where someone is going. that's one of the reasons we
have been scaling up alternatives to incarceration. i tell people all the time, we need a middle lane. we have rikers, and we have being out in the community. and particularly in the mental health space, we need infrastructure. we need a place where we can have people get those supports. and i approach that, as we've talked about before, through a social justice lens of course. but i'm also a career prosecutor. being doing this 20 plus years. it's a fundamental public safety issue. we're not going to reduce recidivism and get public safety if we don't address substance use disorder, mental health. we don't put this in the context of the 1 in 100-year phenomenon we have been going through. >> thanks for coming on the program. >> thanks for having me on. >> very much appreciate it. we turn back to the other big story. polls closing in georgia in just about 30 minutes. we've got the update. stay with us. ith us is the planning effect.
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i want to make sure that wherever i am in this state, wherever my daughter is in this state, my fiance is, you know, making sure that they are being represented by people who understand what they need. >> welcome back to "the beat" with ari melber. we have been tracking several big stories, including how voters are feeling. what you heard just there in georgia where the senate runoff has been going all day between
walker and warnock. polls open until 7:00 p.m. eastern. both parties pouring money into this case. warnock's spending nearly doubles walker and that's blanketed the state in 20,000 ads in the runoff alone, could be driving awareness in the surge in turnout. both candidates pushing in this homestretch. >> we know that he is unprepared. we know he's unqualified. he's unfit to represent the people of georgia in the united states senate. >> you got to get out and vote, because if you don't vote you're going to get more of chuck schumer and president biden because senator warnock has shown he's always going to vote for them. >> we need someone in the senate who's going to consistently vote for conservative republican values to help get this country back on track. >> i still do think that it's kind of proof that trump can't just back candidates and have them win with no substance, that
you have to put somebody better up. the republicans expect more. >> it's the last big midterm election, and i'm joined by chai komanduri and tia mitchell. welcome to both of you. tia, almost near the end of voting today. what have you been seeing covering all this. >> so, you're right, can't predict, but i would say that republicans are encouraged. they feel like turnout was strong today and that it's gives them a little bit of hope they may be able to overcome what they perceive at democratic advantages coming out of early voting. democrats also think there's encouraging news today. some of that great election day turnout comes in democratic strongholds such as dekalb county. so, you know, close policy very soon, and then if -- there's
hope that we might get results quickly, but it will be a long night. >> kornacki tells us it can always be a long night. you got to prepare. chai, tia mentions republicans might do better on same day voting today than the early numbers but they also have to based on the math we do have in. "the times" showing walker would have to win about 60% of today's in-person vote. he did do better -- and this relates to party trends -- get 65% of the november election which had him a hair behind, which led to the runoff. your view, chai? >> is chai on mute? >> we think you're on mute, chai. we know what a humble person of you. you're the opposite of me. try again. >> i think democrats have done very well in terms of early
vote, but i do believe -- i have have some suspicions about these republican reports, about how well they feel they may have done today. i think they're putting that out very early to depress late democratic turnout that comes in right before the polls close. a lot of working people in atlanta and georgia do work first, and then head to the polls. they hear it's really good for the republicans maybe they won't do that. so there's some of a head fake, something herschel walker is familiar with with football that's being done on the part of republicans. >> tia, we always love a good football reference. from my reporting i've heard people like football. a little bit. the other thing i'd like to ask you is how different a runoff is. national news viewers, consume we ares familiar work feels like there are a lot in georgia. but it is a fundamentally different dynamic. i want to report from the ajc,
unlike november walker doesn't have kemp or others on the ballot which can appeal to swing voters. your views on a state like that that has gotten used to having one more race. >> yes, the runoff system in georgia is unique. voters don't like it, but they've learned to live with it. but there is really robust conversation even going on today about perhaps going to ranked place voting in the future. but that's preliminary conversation. that being said, that's been the key to this race is, will republicans still show up for herschel walker when he stands alone on the ballot? when i have been on the trail, i find herschel walker's potential supporters, the pool of people that are either republicans or are open to supporting republican candidates, they fall into two camps. there are those, we have talked to plenty of voters who are all in for herschel walker. they're ready to vote for him.
they think he's great or think he's going to represent their values. they're not wavering. then there's that other rule that says, you know, i do have some concerns. i want to support a republican, but i don't know if i can bring myself to support herschel walker. that's where people like governor kemp come in. though he's not on the ballot, he's campaigned for walker. he grassroots campaigned for walker. that's going to be the big question, are there people who stayed home because they can't pull themselves for herschel walker? or do they possibly vote for rafael warnock. >> i think tia is putting it diplomatically, respectfully, which i appreciate. mr. walker is an unusual candidate. he's free to run the campaign the way he chooses. he's a nonpolitician. we hear more and more of that these days. people say, i'm a nonpolitician. if that means you're not in
washington and not sitting at lunch with lobbyists, i think voters may welcome that. if, however, chai, it means you show a lack of interest or a dare i say, ignorance of powers of government, that could backfire. that's separate from ideology. there's ideal, is he right, is he center? there's also, is he up to the job? runoff is time for extra scrutiny. >> i think if you want to understand herschel walker, it feels to me like what we're seeing is the last maga candidate. herschel walker is through and through a maga candidate. he was personally chosen by donald trump. donald trump chose him because of his celebrity. he thought it would be cool to have an african american celebrity who appeared on "celebrity apprentice" be a georgia senate candidate. herschel walker doesn't know anything about policy. he just repeats these maga
diatribes. the "snl" parody of herschel walker i think is kind. he's much worse in person than he is on the "snl" parody, and all of these are traits of maga, including the character traits that walker evidenced. they're similar to trump, the hop okayry si on display. that is the maga brand. it was very much on the ballot in the election in november. it is on the ballot today here in georgia, and i expect it's going to lose. i think afterwards you're going to see a lot of republicans say, hey, we need to move on from the maga brand. >> i got about 30 seconds. i'll give tia the last word. it's interesting when you put it that way. it's like, eking out to this finish line, and then for the reasons you stated, there is a lot of trump in there. final thoughts on the ground, tia? >> i would say i wouldn't be surprise either way. i know that a lot of people say, how can herschel walker still be
in this, but the fact is, he is. it could go either way today. >> i hear that. georgia on everyone's mind and politics tonight. tia mitchell, appreciate you. chai komanduri, thank you for joining us as always. as i told folks when we were starting the night, a lot of stories. breaking news verdict, trump organization convicted. we had our coverage on, that including hearing from the d.a. himself tonight. we'll have more of that on "the beat" tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. eastern. but let me tell you what's coming up. i want to you keep your news on as we follow breaking news tonight. msnbc's got you covered with live reporting out of this same georgia runoff we were discussing. our colleagues rachel maddow, nicolle wallace, steve kornacki. i'll be here. if you're thinking wait, what's going on? it's 6:40. yes, it's a 7:00 p.m. start buck we're starting early in the hour. you'll see rachel right after
this break. keep it locked. we'll be right back. we'll be ri. o can lower bad cholesterol by over 50% and keep it low with two doses a year. side effects were injection site reaction, joint pain, urinary tract infection, diarrhea, chest cold, pain in legs or arms, and shortness of breath. with leqvio, lowering cholesterol becomes just one more thing life throws your way. ask your doctor about leqvio. lower. longer. leqvio. love you. have a good day, behave yourself. like she goes to work at three in the afternoon and sometimes gets off at midnight. she works a lot, a whole lot. we don't get to eat in the early morning. we just wait till we get to the school. so, yeah. right now here in america, millions of kids like victoria and andre live with hunger, and the need to help them has never been greater. when you join your friends, neighbors and me to support no kid hungry,
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whether kids are learning at school or at home, your support will ensure they get the healthy meals they need to thrive. because when you help feed kids, you feed their hopes, their dreams, and futures. kids need you now more than ever. so please call this number right now to join me in helping hungry kids or go online to helpnokidhungry.org and help feed hungry kids today. before we begin, i'd like to thank our sponsor, liberty mutual. they customize your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. and by switching, you could even save $652. thank you, liberty mutual. now, contestants ready? go! why? why?