FBI seizes Cohen’s records on Mueller’s referral. TRANSCRIPT: 04/09/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Carol Leonnig, Harry Litman

Date: April 9, 2018
Guest: Carol Leonnig, Harry Litman

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Which can be used against Mr. Trump. And that
means today matters. And not too far down the road could matter big. And
that`s HARDBALL today. Thanks for being with us. “ALL IN” with Chris
Hayes starts right now.



broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man.

HAYES: The FBI raids the President`s closest associate.

TRUMP: And they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the
morning. And I think it`s a disgrace.

HAYES: Multiple raids at the office and residence of the President`s long-
time attorney Michael Cohen.

MICHAEL COHEN, LAWYER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I`m obviously very loyal and
very dedicated to Mr. Trump.

HAYES: Tonight, what we know about this explosive development, what it
means for the Mueller investigation, and what it means for Donald Trump.

TRUMP: This is a pure and simple witch-hunt.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today, the personal
attorney to the President of the United States, one of his closest and
longest serving associates was raided by the FBI and the President in
response appears to be coming unglued to a degree we have not seen even
from him. Agents executed multiple search warrants against Michael Cohen
today, confiscating documents from various locations here in Manhattan,
according to report, including Cohen`s residence, his law office right here
at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, I learned that today. According to The New York
Times, which first broke the news of the raids, the FBI seized e-mails, tax
documents, and business records. They also took his computer and his
phone, according to other reports. The seized records reportedly relate to
several different topics, including Cohen`s now infamous payment to Stormy
Daniels in the days before the 2016 election. According to Vanity Fair,
FBI agents arrived early this morning at the Loews Regency Hotel where
Cohen has reportedly been staying during repairs to his own apartment.
Around 4:00 p.m. this afternoon a doorman at the hotel told NBC News, “they
are still here.” And a call to Cohen`s room was answer bade woman claiming
to be his wife who hung up when asked if the FBI was in the room. The raid
suggest that Cohen, who is already a central figure in the Russia probe is
facing yet another criminal inquiry. The Washington Post reporting he is
being investigated for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations
according to a person familiar with the case. The warrants were executed
by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, crucially, acting in part on a
referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller who appears to have passed the
matter on to them after apparently finding evidence of a crime that lay
outside the scope of the Russia probe. According to multiple reports, the
records seized by FBI agents today include communications between Cohen and
his client, the President of the United States of America. Tonight at the
top of a meeting on Syria, the President unprompted weighed in on the raid
at length, sounding trapped, aggrieved, and frankly more than a little


TRUMP: So I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my
personal attorneys, good man. And it`s a disgraceful situation. It`s a
total witch-hunt. I`ve been saying it for a long time. I`ve wanted to
keep it down. We`ve given I believe over a million pages worth of
documents to the special counsel. They continue to just go forward and
here we are talking about Syria. We`re talking about a lot of serious
things with the greatest fighting force ever and I have this witch-hunt
constantly going on for over 12 months now and actually, much more than
that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination it started.
And it`s a disgrace. It`s frankly a real disgrace. It`s an attack on our
country in a true sense. It`s an attack on what we all stand for. So when
I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did. I said that is
really now in a whole new level of unfairness. This is the most biased
group of people. These people have the biggest conflicts of interest I`ve
ever seen. Democrats all, or just about all, either Democrats or a couple
of Republicans that work for President Obama, they`re not looking at the
other side. They`re not looking at the Hillary Clinton horrible things
that she did and all of the crimes that were committed. They`re not
looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry
about. The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this and
when he recused himself or he should have certainly let us know if he was
going to recuse himself and we would have used a – put a different
attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible
mistake for the country. Deputy Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the
letter very critical of Comey. But he signed – as you know, he also
signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of this,
signed a FISA warrant, and he also, he also signed a letter that was
essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right about that, he
was absolutely right. So we`ll see what happens. I think it`s disgraceful
and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt.
Thank you very much


HAYES: Carol Leonnig is an Investigative Reporter for Washington Post who
broke the story that Cohen is being investigated for bank fraud and other
possible crimes and what have you learned today about how we got this

burning up the phones talking to everyone that we know with some knowledge
about this search, this raid, this unusual seizure of pretty much
everything that Michael Cohen had in his office and in two residences, a
hotel, and a home. We have learned a lot. One, that the search warrant
that sought these records indicated that prosecutors and investigators are
examining Michael Cohen, the President`s personal lawyer and confidante for
possible bank fraud, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations. We know
that the search warrant asked specifically for information that had to do
with payments to Stormy Daniels, an adult film or porn star that was about
to during the campaign allege that the President and she had had an affair
in a public interview. We understand that the search also sought records
that had to do with Michael Cohen`s personal finances, his bank records,
his tax information. And there is more. We`re also learning that
investigators have been working on this for many, many, many, many weeks.
And that while this may look very dramatic and like the start of something,
it may actually be the culmination of something much deeper looking at
Michael Cohen. I want to add one more thing, which is Michael Cohen`s
lawyer, Stephen Ryan told us today that he found this raid inappropriate
because it gathered up materials that were attorney-client communications
and privileged, and that this was not necessary because Michael Cohen was
totally cooperative with investigators and would have shared information
with them if requested.

HAYES: Do we know – the point you just made on the timing seems crucial
to me when you say this is something investigators have been looking at for
many weeks. I guess the reason that seems crucial to me is a lot of what`s
happened publicly with the Stormy Daniels back and forth seems like it`s
happened the last few weeks. It sounds like there was stuff in the works
prior to that.

LEONNIG: I can`t give you an exact date, Chris, but I`m told that this is
something that has been looming for a while. And also, you know, a raid is
not – typically, if we just go on experience, a raid of this kind, three
different homes does not happen overnight or over the course of a week.
Investigators are gathering information. They have to show some evidence
to a judge. And in this case, they have to show some evidence to their own
bosses at the Department of Justice to suggest what they find inside these
premises will be evidence of a crime. So they had do a lot of homework and
a lot of reporting and – forgive me, a lot of investigating before they
got to this point.

HAYES: You know, one crucial aspect here, we watched the President talk
about Robert Mueller. This was not a Robert Mueller operation, correct?

LEONNIG: Absolutely correct. The information from Mr. Ryan, again,
Michael Cohen`s lawyer, in this case, is that Mueller`s office referred
this to the Southern District of New York, you know, the premier U.S.
Attorney`s Office in the country and that they are proceeding with this
investigation. Mueller`s office follows some pretty strict rules in that
if they come across information that is not within their mandate, they go
to the Deputy Attorney General and they refer it to the relevant U.S.
Attorney and that appears to be what happened here.

HAYES: I should note that that U.S. attorney if I`m not mistaken of the
Southern District is a gentleman by the name of Geoffrey Berman who I
believe is an appointee of President Trump, correct?


HAYES: So I mean, the President – I just want to put that in context
because we played a lot of that tape of the President talking about
Mueller, the constitution of the Mueller office, the Democrats. I mean,
that individual you`re seeing right there, a former Rudy Giuliani law
partner, someone who donated to the President`s campaign, that is an
individual that signed off, his office signed off on this raid, right?

LEONNIG: I would have to think that he would be aware of the raid, yes, as
the U.S. Attorney. You know, what`s interesting to me about this is keep
in mind the context of the President`s ire and frustration. For more than
a year, he has believed that this probe, which you know, Mueller inherited
an FBI investigation that was looking at Russian interference. And the
president`s view is I`m not involved in any collusion. I didn`t collude
with any Russians. Why is my presidency forever under this cloud? Well,
now his view is the provenance of this Michael Cohen probe began with
Mueller. He believes that this is sort of the fruit of this poisoned tree,
so to speak. Of course, I`m butchering that metaphor.

HAYES: Right. No, you`re right. I mean, I will – I will just interject
the President`s stated feeling about this is that he didn`t collude with
Russia and feels like he`s innocent. I just have to interject that.
Amazing reporting today, Carol, amazing reporting. Really, I just learned
a ton from that interview, thank you. Carol Leonnig of The Washington

LEONNIG: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: Emily Jean Fox is an MSNBC Contributor, a Senior Reporter of Vanity
Fair. She did some incredible reporting today. She broke the story that
FBI agents were raiding Cohen`s hotel room. What – how did Michael Cohen
learn of this?

EMILY JEAN FOX, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I`m not exactly sure how Michael Cohen
learned of this but I learned of this morning from a very early morning
phone call from a source saying there are FBI agents at the Regency hotel,
which is a hotel on Park Avenue here in Manhattan where Michael Cohen has
been staying for some time while there are renovations done to his
apartment that is actually very close by to the Regency. So I made my way
up to the Regency to see if I could myself spot any FBI agents in which I
did not. There were some paparazzi outside there to snap photos of Conor
McGregor, the UFC fighter who was in town, but all was quiet and normal. I
tried to peek around this as best as I could but Michael Cohen was there.
There were FBI agent there for hours, according to the source of mine. I
had tried to call Michael Cohen`s cell phone number. I`ve interviewed
Michael Cohen a number of times. And it went straight to voicemail and for
anyone who knows Michael Cohen who has ever been with him in person or has
interviewed him, his phone rings off the hook all the time and in most
times he answers it. So the fact that it went straight to voicemail was a
sign to me that there was something real happening here.

HAYES: Now, there`s three locations. There`s his home near the Loews
Regency in Manhattan.

FOX: Permanent apartment, yes.

HAYES: Permanent apartment and he`s got – he is in the hotel and then
this office at 30 Rock. And they raid them all three at the same time?

FOX: I`m not sure exactly the timeline but it was all today I believe.
But I don`t know exactly what order if it was done at the same time. But I
know that it began very early morning at the Regency.

HAYES: Is your – were they – was he expecting this? I mean, did you
think this come as a surprise to Michael Cohen?

FOX: From my reporting, I do not believe that he saw this coming this
morning. I have interviewed him again, a number of times and I think his
focus recently has been on the Stormy Daniels lawsuit and what`s to come in
that. There is a pretty timely deadline and I think that that is where his
main focus has been. Every time I`ve talked to him recently, that is where
our conversations have gone. They have not gone in this direction.

HAYES: I mean, that`s an important point, right? He`s dealing with a
civil suit, you know, a fight over whether something is going to be in
arbitration or not. The stakes of that and what that means for one`s
personal life trajectory and freedom are quite different than FBI showing
up in your office and your home and your hotel room.

FOX: There is the difference between a massive legal headache and a
possible jail sentence down the line. So this is something, you know, a
lawsuit over an NDA is something that is within the realm of someone
Michael Cohen might have dealt with. What happened today is earth-
shattering for him and his family and for anyone who knows him.

HAYES: This is a man whose very loyalty to – who`s loyalty to Donald
Trump strike me as sort of his defining feature as a professional adult in
the world.

FOX: Sure. He has worked for President for more than a decade. Any time
I have ever interviewed him on the record, one of the things that comes
through all the time, and he is very careful it comes through is just how
loyal he is to the President and to the President`s family. He told me in
August that he would take a bullet for the President. So he`s someone who
is not only incredibly loyal but who likes to make that point publicly.

HAYES: I don`t know if you know the answer to this, but is he a practicing
attorney in any sense other than his relationship to the President and
Trump work?

FOX: He has other clients.

HAYES: He does?

FOX: He does have other clients. I can`t tell you who they are, but he
does have other clients.

HAYES: So there is some kind of legal practice more broadly than just the
fact that he has a law degree and his barred and works for Trump Org and
for the President?

FOX: Sure. He has not worked for Trump Organization since he left right
after – right around the inauguration and he has had other clients in the
mix since then. And he has until today had an office in this building, a
very nice corner office with a Captain America shield on his desk and two
bobbleheads of Don Jr. and Eric. And so, he has worked out of there since
the inauguration.

HAYES: I wondered if the FBI carted those away in boxes today. Emily Jane
Fox, it`s great to have you.

FOX: Thank you.

HAYES: Frank Figliuzzi is a former Assistant FBI Director for
Counterintelligence, now an MSNBC Intelligence Analyst, Harry Litman is a
former Federal Prosecutor. OK, Carol alluded to this, but I want to just
walk through how extraordinary a step it is, and the bars that had to be
cleared for the FBI to raid the attorney of the President of the United

stating the obvious, Michael Cohen is in really big trouble tonight. And
why is that? It is something that Carol alluded to. You don`t do these
raids overnight. You develop probable cause. For an attorney office to be
searched, you go to Department of Justice at the highest level and get
approval for that because of attorney-client privilege. Then you refer
this to the Southern District of New York. Now, let`s talk a little bit
about what probable cause means. You`ve got to convince a magistrate not
just that Cohen is staying in this hotel, your honor, but rather that there
is evidence of a crime there, and that what I`m asking to seize, the
laptop, papers, telephones, contains evidence of those crimes. And the
magistrate is going to look at you and go how do you know that? How do you
know it`s not his kid`s computer? And you`re going to have to explain that
to him. So that means, there has been an investigation for weeks here at

HAYES: You also got to imagine, the magistrate judge evaluating a search
warrant to raid the home, hotel, and offices of an associate of the
President is going to scrutinize that pretty hard.

FIGLIUZZI: It will be flyspecked to death. And that`s why I`m saying,
this takes time to develop and it smacks of physical surveillance. Your
honor, we saw him carrying the very computer we`re talking about into the
hotel ten times this month. You know, it`s in this room number. It
contains evidence of this very specific probable cause.

HAYES: Harry, you worked for the Department of Justice, and I got to
imagine this is something that – this is – this is going – there a bunch
of people in the Department of Justice who would have to I think sign off
on something like that – like this?

doesn`t have to be a bunch. It could be the Attorney General or the Deputy
Attorney General or the Head of the Criminal Division. That is way, way up
there and they don`t do it often because of the very principles and
policies that Frank mentioned. A couple things to add here. You may not
do this as an end-around to try to get information about clients so they
have – what they had to show the magistrate is there`s probable cause to
believe almost certainly Cohen himself was – is the person who is guilty
of a crime. They also had to have concluded and shown the magistrate that
they couldn`t have gotten the information through a subpoena.

HAYES: Right.

LITMAN: Which is what Cohen`s lawyer and your up top was saying why didn`t
they just do that. And that what that means is they basically had
concluded and they needed some concrete reason to do so, that as with
Manafort, as you may remember, Cohen wasn`t likely to be cooperative. They
needed to come in with the huge show of federal force, a double-team by the
way. Every single one of those three raids had two teams, a tape team that
was there to make sure that none of – nobody in the normal investigation
would by chance see privileged material. This is a huge coordinated

HAYES: Yes, just to explain that. My understanding is they call it a
clean and dirty team in these cases where – because it does happen
sometimes that you`re getting privileged information from a lawyer`s
office. And you got to essentially keep a firewall between the two, right?
Is that how it works?

LITMAN: That`s exactly how it works and it`s very hard in practice. There
have been prosecutions, the Oliver North one that was thrown out for that
reason. Judges take it very, very seriously. And therefore so does the
department. If a lawyer happens to see something privileged, he may have
to be disqualified from the entire investigation. So, yes, as of now,
there is this huge process that`s being put into place. And only when
things have been cleansed and given the approval, the seal of approval –

HAYES: Right.

LITMAN: – of a whole different bunch will the team even be able to look
at it.

HAYES: So there`s this team that`s going to go through these documents and
say privileged communication, privileged communication, him writing to his
client, him writing to his client, that`s in column A, and column B is
relevant to the investigation, relevant to the matter as the search
warrant, then that gets turned over someone internal to the FBI and DOJ to
look at? Frank?

FIGLIUZZI: That`s absolutely correct. And there will be supervisory
review of those decisions before anything is finalized that this is
pertinent, this isn`t. This is something that privileged, this is not.

HAYES: Am I wrong as a layperson to look at this and think my God, what
must they have that they would take the series of steps that they have
taken today?

FIGLIUZZI: They`ve got probable cause to convince a magistrate and high-
ranking DOJ officials that crimes have occurred and that Cohen is behind

HAYES: I want to read this from NBC about this sort of high legal standard
at issue here. A person familiar of the matter told NBC News this is not a
subpoena requesting documents from Cohen, Harry has alluded to, instead it
was a court authorized search which means there`s a sufficient probable
cause for a federal judge to agree a search involving the President`s
personal attorney could occur without any advance notice to Cohen. So
there`s two bars clearing here, right? You`re not just subpoenaing and
you`re not just going at a lawyer, you are raiding a lawyer.

FIGLIUZZI: Right, because you have – you have reason to believe that he
might destroy evidence if he gets tipped off. And there`s lots of leakage,
right? So you`ve got to do this in the morning. You`ve got to do it so he
doesn`t know about.

HAYES: Now, Harry, I want to talk about the kind of chain of custody which
I find fascinating of this of this out of the Mueller investigation into
SDNY, right? So Mueller is turning over a bunch of rocks. I`m
reconstructing this but this is what it appears. Mueller is turning over a
bunch of rocks and he says, that doesn`t look very good, not about Russia,
not in the purview, and passes it along. I mean, is that how it works?

LITMAN: Yes, that`s how it works. You might remember, this is how Ken
Starr got a hold of the whole Clinton impeachment. He went to Janet Reno
and said we have this new thing involving Monica Lewinsky and she assigned
it to him. Mueller would have taken this –I don`t think it`s new. I
think the main thing that he brought, by the way, is the possible election
law violation, which we can get to. But he brings to it Rosenstein,
Rosenstein makes a decision, Rosenstein decides to refer to it the Southern
District. And by the way, this wouldn`t have been the reason, but notice,
all this worry about Mueller`s being fired if Mueller gets canned, it
doesn`t affect this Southern District of New York investigation. Cohen`s
in for the long ride.

HAYES: This is what is so remarkable to me because if you pay attention to
Trump T.V., which we know the President, for instance, White House
officials has said President Trump has been watching T.V. reports of the
FBI raiding the office of Michael Cohen, his long-time lawyer, and
confidante. So we know the President, of course, sitting there watching
cable news as we are led to believe he does quite often, stewing, that on
Trump T.V. and in this sort of pro-Trump media, you know, this is all a
witch-hunt. It`s all cooked up by Mueller, this is – this guy is a
Giuliani law partner, former Giuliani law partner, max donor whose office
just did this remarkable thing which makes you think that you know,
whatever case you want to make against Mueller, it`s a little hard to taint
them with this.

FIGLIUZZI: So we heard the President today say this –

LITMAN: I agree but I want to make one point about it –

HAYES: Yes, go ahead.

LITMAN: Sorry, Frank. May I?

HAYES: Yes, go ahead.

LITMAN: Which is – which is this, you know, two years ago, we would
never have thought about this. It happened all the time. U.S. Attorneys
investigate people of their own party. People have faith in that. It`s
the fact that Trump is railing away at counting as if it`s significant the
number of Democrats on Mueller`s team –

HAYES: It`s a great point.

LITMAN: – that this whole inference can be raised. Any professional
U.S. Attorney will, of course, investigate people of his own party.

FIGLIUZZI: You know, the President today said –

LITMAN: Sorry, Frank. Go ahead.

FIGLIUZZI: – that this is an attack on all that we stand for, right? So
let`s brake that down. What do we stand for? We stand for rule of law.
Search warrants, magistrates, prosecutors, the department of justice, U.S.
Attorneys, they`re our system that we stand for and somehow he`s viewing
this as a disgrace and an attack on our system. He`s got it wrong.

HAYES: In some ways I mean, it`s – what I find amazing about it is it`s a
remarkable demonstration of the efficacy of the rule of law. If the
President`s personal lawyer can get raided by the FBI –

FIGLIUZZI: That`s a country you want to live in, right?

LITMAN: That`s right.

FIGLIUZZI: Where the rule of law, it doesn`t matter who is the president
or whether it`s the Mayor`s kid being pulled over by the cop in town
because law is going to rule the day.

HAYES: And that`s – I mean, in some ways, I have to say that it is often
in my career as a reporter, it`s often the absence of that that I marvel at
that. I mean, it`s often the fact that very powerful people find ways out.
And in some ways, as I look at this, I think to myself, everything that is
being done here is being done in a truly sort of historic fashion.

FIGLIUZZI: It`s unprecedented.

HAYES: Harry –

LITMAN: (INAUDIBLE) Trump is saying. Yes, go ahead.

HAYES: Yes, that`s exactly right. I mean, his attack today –

LITMAN: This is an attack on the country. Well, you know, amazing.

HAYES: Do you think – you reference something that I want to come back
to. There is this real question, right? We know from Carol Leonnig`s
reporting to the extent that is correct that campaign finance violations
are part of what is being investigated. Given, I have reported on campaign
finance violations in the past. Usually, you get a slap on the wrist and a
fine about nine years later. So the idea of this kind of raid over that
seems a bit of a mismatch in terms of what they`re looking at and what the
supposed infraction is. What do you think?

LITMAN: Well, not really. Yes, historically the FEC has not been very
vigorous in its enforcement. But what they`re looking at here is the thing
they did unsuccessfully with John Edwards. But it`s possible to conspire
in a way that violates federal law to break campaign finance laws. And
here, if in fact, Cohen was looking to insulate Trump from an electoral
problem and maybe was working with other people, that states a crime. That
said, it`s a little bit aggressive because the one time they tried to do it
against John Edwards, they did wind up with egg on their face. But not
because of the theory, it was more about the facts. With Edwards, it was -
- it had long since passed. Here we`re two weeks before the election. The
U.S., if they choose to go that way, will have an easier time.

HAYES: Yes, the reference there to John Edwards being prosecuted by U.S.
attorneys for campaign finance violation for a payment to a mistress to
cover that up as essentially an improper and unrecorded donation to the
campaign. Harry is saying the theory of that case was fine, the facts were
what led to his acquittal. A lot of people think that case was a dog on
both the facts and the theory, not to dispute Harry`s legal acumen but
there are – there are critics of both.

FIGLIUZZI: Yes, so look, this is not just about an election violation.
I`m telling you right now. There`s more to it than that and it there is
reporting tonight, it`s early yet, but there`s still – there is reporting
that this involved Stormy Daniels and communications related to that,
that`s where this is probably headed.

HAYES: All right, Frank Figliuzzi and Harry Littman, that was really
illuminating on all accounts. Thank you both for taking some time with us
tonight. Lawmakers in Capitol Hill already responding to the FBI raid and
the President`s response. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a
statement with a clear warning at the President, do not use this raid to
fire Special Counsel Mueller or anyone to interfere with the chain of
command with the Russia probe. That came after President Trump said this
about Robert Mueller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


TRUMP: The Attorney General made a terrible mistake when he did this and
when he recused himself or he should have certainly let us know if he was
going to recuse himself and we would have used a – put a different
attorney general in. So he made what I consider to be a very terrible
mistake for the country.

Why don`t I just fire Mueller?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just fire the guy.

TRUMP: Well, I think it`s a disgrace what`s going on. We`ll see what
happens. But I think it`s really a sad situation when you look at what
happened. And many people have said, you should fire him.


HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC Legal Analyst and former Assistant Special
Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman. And I thought of Nixon a lot as I
watched that tonight. A lot of parallels to the sort of line winter
cornered Nixon.

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you certainly have a cornered
Trump. I mean, this evidence that they`re going to come up with in these -
- in these search warrants could be absolutely devastating. You`ve got
communications between Cohen and Trump, you`ve got documents relating to
their effort to try and build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the campaign,
you`ve got who knows what other women Michael Cohen was out there trying to
make deals with.

HAYES: But here`s my question about that. What is the – what are the
rules here for – what of that gets sorted? Right? The idea of like, to
me the thing the search warrant was executed about cannot possibly be about
Moscow, Trump Tower because Mueller would have kept it, right?

AKERMAN: No, not at all. The search warrant is to be executed in the
Southern District of New York. It has to be brought to the court by
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of New York. That`s why
they call it the Sovereign District of New York. They guard their
territory very jealously.

HAYES: Infamously.

AKERMAN: Yes. So the idea that this somehow doesn`t relate to the Russian
probe is –

HAYES: That`s interesting.

AKERMAN: – I don`t know where they`re getting that from.

HAYES: So you think that`s a mistake in apprehension that people have come
to that that it necessarily must be outside of the purview of what Mueller
is looking in?

AKERMAN: Oh, I think it`s a big mistake. I think they`re looking at
things much broader than Stormy Daniels. I mean, they– Cohen would like
to make you believe that this is just about minor stuff like a little
campaign contribution or Stormy Daniels. I think this is going for the
whole enchilada. We`re talking Russia, we`re talking all of the
involvement in the Trump Organization into Russia. You have to understand,
the only thing that`s immune here is legal advice. Anything that Cohen did
in his capacity as a business adviser or as a political adviser is not
covered by the attorney-client privilege. I would think most of what Cohen
does has nothing to do with the attorney-client privilege.

HAYES: Well, and there`s been this sort of studied ambiguity on his part
about his roles. I mean –


HAYES: Which may come up to bite him because he`s been saying things like
well, I just paid for Stormy Daniels because – as a buddy, as a friend, as
a loyal admirer of the President.

AKERMAN: And none of that is going to be covered by the attorney-client

HAYES: So, let me ask you this. This is Robert Costa talking about the
mood at the White House. I mean, you saw that statement by the President.


HAYES: A scene now at 1500, Ty Cobb spotted, a big dinner with military
leaders starts in a few minutes. The President has been grousing about the
Cohen raid and keeping a close eye on T.V., (INAUDIBLE) widely seen inside
his necessary event in session. No one is ruling out late tweets. We`re
sort of cracking up. You know, the President sort of vented his spleen at
all three, Mueller, Rosenstein, and Sessions. You know, what does that
mean to you in terms of this sort of Saturday night massacre possibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well I mean it`s certainly a possibility, I think if
Trump had his druthers he would fire all three of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he feels constrained because he knows what
happened when he fired Comey, and the fire storm that ensued. He also knows
that many of these crimes can also be brought by the state attorney general
of New York.

ACKERMAN: And there`s also - there`s also the lesson that I have learned
from Watergate, from sort of looking back into it, which is investigators
and the evidence they`ve accumulated doesn`t go away.


ACKERMAN: If you get rid of Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The invest in him (ph), the evidence is still going to
be there, I mean the Saturday night massacre, we all assumed that when Cox
was going to be fired that we would preserve the evidence, I walked out
with papers underneath my clothing.

ACKERMAN: Did you really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we all did. Today you could just use thumb drive,
it`d be a lot easier to do this.

ACKERMAN: But you were one of those people that went down to that head
quarters, racing against the possibility the President`s sending his, sort
of, preferred henchmen and took documents out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly, because the evidence is the most important
thing. If there`s one thing we wanted to preserve it was the evidence. And
of course with Mueller`s team it`s much easier doing the digital age, you
can simply take a couple thumb drives, put them in a shoe and walk out.

ACKERMAN: He could - he could of, am I correct, that the way this sort of
chain of succession works here is, he could get - he could have fired Jeff
Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States, and replace him with
an acting who then got back control of the investigation from the recused
sessions without having to fire Rosenstein or Mueller and would plausible
give him a more direct line into it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could do that, or he could fire Rosenstein and then
he could ask that the next person in line, who would be the solicitor
general, fire Mueller. I mean he could do that, that`s exactly what.

ACKERMAN: That`s precisely what it makes it. Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Nick Ackerman, thanks for being with me tonight.

ACKERMAN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still to come just how much does Michael Cohen know?
More on the breaking news the FBI has raided the home and office of the
Presidents personal attorney. An astonishing turn of events, we`ll have
more next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today`s FBI raids on the office, home, and hotel room of
Trump`s personal attorney Michael Cohen, were related to an investigation,
as we just noted, referred by special counsel Robert Mueller. But this is
not the first time Mueller has reportedly found something of interest
involving one, Michael Cohen.

Just last month the Washington Post reported Mueller requested documents
and interviewed witnesses about negotiation`s Cohen undertook during the
campaign to help the Trump organization build a tower in Moscow. As well as
a Russia friendly peace proposal for Ukraine that was delivered to Cohen by
a Ukrainian law maker one week after Trump took office.

With me now Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast Trump, Inc., and David
Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, author of “It`s Even Worse
Than You Think: What The Trump Administration Is Doing To America.”

Talk a little bit about, Andrea, about Michael Cohen and his role in Trump
Org (ph) in Trump World.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN: So he was not - he describes himself as the president`s
personal attorney, but he was not a litigator. He did deals for, well,
then-businessman Donald Trump.

So, for example, he did a number of licensing deals in the former Soviet
Union. As we famously know, he was prospecting a Trump Tower in Moscow
before that deal fell through.

And, as we`ve come to learn, he was keeping people quiet. Most people
first heard of Michael Cohen when we learned of the dossier, which he
denies up and down.

But what the dossier said sounds like what we`re learning about Michael
Cohen, which is that he went to keep something quiet that happened during
the Trump Campaign.

Now, I want to emphasize again, he has sued several people. He said that
didn`t happen, he was never in Prague. But from what`s in the public
record, we know that`s what he was - we know what he was doing was making
sure that people didn`t tell tales about his boss, Donald Trump.

HAYES: Yes, Michael Cohen is alleged, in the dossier, to have gone to
Prague to do what?

BERNSTEIN: To clean up the mess that Paul Manafort had left, and to make
sure that no one talked about it. And that was alleged to have happened
sometime in August of 2016.

Again, he denies (inaudible) .


HAYES: He denies that (ph) he`s posted his passport, he says I was never
in Prague, the whole thing. He sued BuzzFeed over publishing the dossier.

But, David, you get the - this is a classic sort of fixer, right? This is
the role that he has had, and when you think about someone`s fixer, and
then the thought of the FBI getting a hold of the fixer`s files, that would
seem to me to be utterly chilling and terrifying for the person for whom he
was fixing.

them. And as your other guests have pointed out, they didn`t get these
search warrants without a compelling case that there was a crime, and that
they needed to preserve evidence, and very careful, diligent work.

But from Donald`s perspective, remember now, he has beaten, in the past,
four Grand Jury investigations into himself when he was young.

He compromised the New Jersey casino regulators repeatedly as a casino
owner in Atlantic City and got them to either look the other way, or ignore
evidence of wrongdoing that should have cost him his license.

When he got caught in sales tax fraud, he went to the authorities and
ratted out other people to protect himself. He had two income tax fraud
trials that he lost, which hardly anybody know about.

And his history has always been that he could use his political connections
and pressure to shut things down. With Robert Mueller`s team, and now his
own appointee in Manhattan, he`s discovering that he isn`t able to do that.

HAYES: Yes, you`ve got to be imagining, Andrea, that a lot of the Trump
Org`s (ph) business, and a lot of the president`s business, are now in the
hands of the FBI.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it certainly looks like that. And, you know, what we -
the last time I was here, we were talking about the subpoenas into the
Trump Organization. This is something that has (ph) clearly caught the
attention of the special prosecutor.

Were there crimes committed? Was there something in the relationship with
Russia, something about the way the money worked that was illegal?

And these were the deals that Michael Cohen was working on, so it does seem
an extraordinary move. I mean, we`ve seen Mueller be very aggressive.

He executed a search warrant on Paul Manafort, and then indicted him a few
months later. He`s still doing - he`s still looking for records with Paul
Manafort and others.

So we know that his is exceedingly aggressive, and just from court
documents that have been filed, we know he is watching very, very closely
that - at one point, he released the track changes (ph) that Paul Manafort
had made to an op-ed (ph) in Ukrainian newspaper.

So he has a very high level of detail with the people that he`s watching,
and that apparently now includes the president`s personal attorney, Michael

HAYES: You know, David, I thought of this story, and I want to get
Andrea`s response to it as well.

You know, I remember this McClatchy story that was just talking about some
of Michael Cohen`s real estate dealings. And this - I remember reading
this and thinking to myself at the time, “Well, that looks a little odd.”

In 2014, a mysterious buyer, using a limited liability company that hid the
purchaser`s identity, paid 10 million in (ph) cash for a small apartment
building on New York`s Lower East Side Cohen had purchased just three years
before for 2 million.

Now, the New York real estate market is quite intense, but that`s quite a
turnaround, and 10 million, all cash, an (ph) LLC. And there a bunch of
real estate transactions Michael Cohen has made that - you know, they`re
not necessarily anything wrong with them, but they have detail that would
make one scratch one`s head a little.

JOHNSTON: Well, and we know that Donald has a long history of doing
business with Russians in deals that are, to minimalist about it,
squirrely, and seem to be money laundering.

And there are a whole variety of crimes that could be an issue here. You
know, we talked about the Federal Election Commission. There`s a potential
income tax fraud issue or gift tax fraud issue in the Stormy Daniel`s

There`s wire fraud, we know that the bank which is cooperating that did the
wire transfer for the Stormy Daniel`s pay off, flagged it, and presumably
they flagged other transactions in all this notice one thing however, none
of the search warrents applied to the Trump organization where Cohen worked
in the office and had a Trump business card.

They applied it Cohen and his property, his places, that he would have had
papers and books not to the Trump organization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Andrea, you guys did amazing reporting on
Manafort`s real estate transactions. And I remember reading your work and
just thinking to myself, well that looks like a prima facia case based on
public records that he was up to money laundering with his real estate
transactions. But then was like, “well I don`t know.” And then low and
behold a year later what shows up in the Mueller indictment.

actually pleaded guilty to that. So, but I mean I think one of the things
that is incredibly interesting about the Cohen real estate transactions, is
that he has, per his own account, he came to the attention of Donald Trump
by buying apartments in his building and his family bought apartments in
his buildings. And one of the thing`s we`re trying to figure out now on our
Trumping podcast and our open investigation is, how he did that. How he
came into a position to buy all that real estate and we are trying to
figure that out because it is a job application thing that you put on your
application. Manafort did it, Cohen, did it, Trump likes it when people buy
apartments in his buildings and move in to his properties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Cohen comes to the attention of Donald Trump, if
I`m not mistaken, for being a kind of bulk buyer. Sort of a collector

BERNSTEIN: Right, he and his family bought five apartments in Trump

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he`s not making a ton of money at that time.

BERNSTEIN: No, he had been prior to that. He`d been a not very big time
lawyer. He worked in the tax industry, he worked in the personal injury
industry, and then he bought a lot of apartments on 845 UN Plaza and in
other Trump properties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We might learn more about that. Andrea Bernstein and
David Cay-Johnston, thanks for joining us. Coming up in the wake of today`s
big news, of the FBI raid on this personal attorney`s office, the President
was on camera openly mulling the fate of the special counsel and also at
the same meeting military (options) in Syria, Senator Jeff Merkley on all
that ahead.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Here we are talking about Syria. We`re talking about a lot
of serious things with greatest fighting force ever. And I have this witch
hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now. And we`re making a
decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attak that was made
near Damascus. And it will be met, and it will be met forcefully and when I
will not say because I don`t like talking about timing. So, we`re going to
make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter and you`ll be hearing
the decision.

CHRISTOPHER HAYS, MSNBC: President Trump is poised to respond to the
suspected chemical attack in Syria, on a day when he is rattled, to say the
least, by the FBI raid on his personal attorney. And he making this
crucial decision with a brand new national security advisor, that man you
see there, John Bolton at his side. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is a
member of the senate foreign relations committee, he joins me now. Are you
confident the President is talking to the right people, has the right
judgment and is in the right frame of mind to make these kinds of decisions
right now?

SENATOR JEFF MERKLEY: Chris that would be none of the above. I`m not
confident that this President is getting a thorough counsel from the right
sources. Certainly he is - he is conveying that he`s preparing an assault
on Syria, but of what extent and at what risk for the possible impact upon
Russian troops who are actually detonating chemical weapon depots. But also
recognize that a year ago when the President responded and bombed a runway
on April 7th, so almost exactly a year ago, it had little military effect.
The situation here is that Russian is the force that has the leverage in
Syria. All roads lead back to Russia.

HAYS: And so what does that mean?

MERKLEY: Well, what the means is that we not have Russia, which worked with
the Obama administration to eliminate a thousand metric tons of VX gas and
sarin gas, but clearly didn`t complete the job. We have Russia that has
provided the critical support to keep Bashar Al Assad in power, but hasn`t
used that leverage to stop these chemical attacks. This is not the first
chemical attack since a year ago. There`s been a number of chemical attacks
recorded and confirmed. It`s Russia that used chemical agents in U.K. just
recently to assassinate or - not they didn`t succeed in killing, but to
attempt to kill a Russian national and his daughter. It`s Russia that`s
been vetoing the U.N. action related to Assad`s use of chemical weapons. It
means international action, forceful international action to completely
isolate Russia in regard to this issue.

HAYS: And do you see those steps being taken?

MERKLEY: Absolutely not, the President has not been a watch dog on Russia.
He has found every excuse to be as soft as possible in every possible
circumstance. It took enormous congressional pressure just to get him to
enact some of the sanctions that congress approved by a ratio of 500 to 5,
if you combine the two houses of Congress. When do you get anything done on
100 to one ratio with democrats and republicans working together. But the
President absolutely refused for a period of time to implement any of it
and has - still hasn`t done so forcefully.

HAYS: Are you, you know there`s this wag the dog expression, right? That
the idea of Presidents using foreign military intervention as essentially a
distraction from domestic political troubles. Do you have concerns about
that given the news today about the Presidents own personal attorney, close
associate, and confidant being raided by the FBI.

MERKLEY: Yes. I have a lot of concern. The President is assembling a war
cabinet with John Bolton and his effort to Michael Pompeo to be secretary
of state. They share views that are very aggressive seeing military force
as a response to anything going on in the world. They propose military
force in so many situations that it was certainly not the right answer. And
so then you add in his personal concern about the information that
continues to be compiled by the special prosecutor about the extent of his
teams involvement and contact with Russia during the election and also
potentially his personal business enterprises that intermingle with Russian

So the president`s, I think, feeling tremendous personal pressure,
tremendous political pressure, and he would like to distract from that.

So this is a terrible moment to have this particular man making key
decisions, not just about a - if you will, bombing a runway, but possibly a
much more aggressive campaign in Syria.

HAYES: Should there be congressional authorization?

MERKLEY: So the Constitution gives war-making powers to the Article I
branch of government, that`s Congress, and we have not enforced that

In fact, we had a debate just three weeks ago about this in regards to the
U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, which is engaged in a war on the Houthi and

And I joined many others - not the majority, but well into the 40s, if you
will, out of the 100 senators who said we should have that debate on the
floor of the Senate, and that they (ph) were very concerned that the
president has exceeded our - our Constitutional powers there.

Here, again, it raises similar issues. If something is a single-strike,
it`s generally seen in a different category than if it`s a campaign. A
campaign, then, means you`re at war. That certainly invokes a requirement
to have come to Congress.

Now the president could have come to Congress and asked for authorization
to respond to Syria`s use of chemical weapons throughout this entire last
year, but has failed to do so.

And I think anything beyond just a very limited strike, I think you`ll see
strong and powerful calls for Congress to say that this is - is breaking
the Constitutional boundary.

HAYES: All right. Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you.

MERKLEY: You`re welcome. Thanks.

HAYES: Here to help make sense of tonight`s extraordinary presidential
meltdown, Natasha Bertrand follows (ph) the Russian investigation closely
for the Atlantic, Democratic strategist, former Apprentice contestant Tara
Dowdell, and MSNBC contributor Sam Seder, host of The Majority Report with
Sam Seeder.

And I`ll start here today. The president - we played about two minutes of
what was, I think, a seven, eight minute rant - rant by the president. And
I just thought, “Wow. I don`t - I haven`t quite seen this level of pinned,
caged, cornered, panicked,” - you`re nodding your head, Sam.

almost, like, regurgitating a day`s worth of Fox news talking points, and
there was no real cohesion to it.

I mean, he started off by saying that the FBI broke into the hotel rooms,
the house, the office .

HAYES: That`s (ph) the phrase he used, is the FBI “broke into”.

SEDER: . broke into. That`s not what the FBI did. They had a warrant,
and they went in with a court order. He seems a little bit panicked, and
frankly I share the Senator`s concern about him being in a position to
decide right now that he may launch military strikes against Syria.

I mean, frankly, I would always be concerned with that, but .

HAYES: Right. I mean - right, yes. That`s sort of - yes. That (ph) he`s
(ph) the president .

SEDER: . yes. But he has another agenda too, today.

HAYES: Your reaction to today?

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think this is a very dangerous
moment. I am deeply concerned. Because we look for, in moments like this,
cooler head to prevail, but the cooler head around him is a hothead, and
that`s John Bolton. Right?

So President Trump, Donald Trump - he is notorious for lashing out, and he
is notorious for only caring about himself at a moment when we need him to
care about the republic.

And I don`t think people have a full grasp of the moment that we`re in and
the implications of this moment, given who the man is.

HAYES: I think there`s something else that`d dangerous on the table, and I
have long sort of subscribed to the theory, Natasha, and I want to hear
your thoughts on it, which is that the president`s posture towards Russia
could very quickly tip from this sort of solicitousness - bending over
backwards, to something very quickly escalatory.

And that, essentially, he`s been sort of - he`s got this domestic pressure,
he looks very guilty in the way that he acts, and he`s also incredibly
unpredictable in the moves he makes in extremely fraught situation in
Syria, and that essentially to the degree there ever a deal between Trump
and Putin, that it falling apart could lead to something very ugly, very

this is something that we`ve seen throughout history, which is that
president`s who are feeling domestic pressure often want to shift the
attention to an international conflict.

I mean, that`s not something that I would exactly put past the president at
this point, but also, I mean, if there was ever a moment where it would be
more catastrophic for the president to try to fire the Special Counsel and
then perhaps create a new conflict or escalate the conflict in Syria
because he wanted to distract, this would - it would be the worst possible
moment to do that right now, because, of course, his personal attorney is
in the crosshairs in a way that we have not seen before.

So if he tried to make a move on Mueller, if he tried to do something major
in Syria at this moment - which I am not exactly arguing against. I mean
the atrocities they we`ve seen there have been horrible, and they deserve
some kind of response, but it would be much more under the microscope and
much more obvious than they would have been in the past.

HAYES: Everything, I feel like - and this is true about so many things the
president does - it`s tainted by his intent. It`s tainted - you know, all
sorts of things he does.

Like, you can fire the FBI director, sure. In a general, abstract sense
you can do that. But if you say you`re doing it for this corrupt purpose,
you can`t do it, right?

DACA, yes. You can rescind DACA. You have the presidential power. You
can issue an executive order about vetting procedures, but if you say
you`re trying to do it to ban Muslims - and at this point, this is like the
crux of it.

It`s all here on the table. The president meeting with his war cabinet,
deciding this extremely fraught issue of international relations, against
the backdrop of this.

SEDER: Right. Well, and think Tara has a point that`s well taken (ph).
The last time that there was an attack on Syria launched by this country,
there were people sitting around this table.

We were here that night - who were arguing, well, the generals - I trust
the generals to do, to - to come up with a plan afterwards.

HAYES: I remember that conversation.

SEDER: And as ridiculous as I may find that to have been, there`s no more
generals. McMaster is now gone.


SEDER: We`re talking about .

HAYES: Mattis is there and Kelly is there.

SEDER: Mattis is there and Kelly is there, and they are - every day we
read another story about how they`re being basically, completely stifled by
Trump. He`s no longer listening to them. For all we know, Sean Hannity
carries more weight in that White House than they do.

And so that - the theoretical constraints on him that were there a year ago
- and, like I say, theoretical - are not there, and he is facing much more
pressure, whether or not - we don`t know why he`s feeling this pressure.

It could just be he`s got a lot of money laundering issues, or it could be
some other issue that has nothing to do with the supposed (ph) Russia

But he`s feeling pressure (inaudible) .


HAYES: Can you imagine - can you imagine thinking about Michael Cohen`s
records in the hands of the FBI right now?

DOWELL: Right. Right. No, I mean, and this is when - and this is when
Trump is at his most dangerous. This is when he`s at his most
unpredictable, and erratic, is when he`s feeling extreme pressure.

And, look, I agree with Natasha. I don`t argue that we shouldn`t do
something in Syria. The issue is more that he is reactionary, is there is
not any thinking behind a strategy, it is, “How do I protect me, Donald
Trump. How do I change the subject? How I help myself?”

That is the - that is the bigger issue. It`s not that we shouldn`t help -
there`s a tremendous humanitarian crisis going on, it`s that .

HAYES: Right (ph). Or - or it`s .

DOWELL: . the judgment of the man who`s choosing - who`s - who makes the

HAYES: . right. Or - or it`s a reaction to the previous day`s programming
on Fox, which is also a totally plausible account for any given day.

I mean, I also think, Natasha, to return to sort of this prevue question
about the Mueller investigation, because there`s a sort of interesting back
and forth about - do we think this was referred to the Southern District
because it fell outside of what he thought was (ph) his prevue, and so it`s
unrelated to Russia, and this is a kind of, like, demonstrable declaration
of that?

Or, what Nick Ackerman said, that for political and territorial reasons,
that you would move this over into the Southern District.

BERTRAND: It might have been - it could be either, right? So what Nick
was saying is that this does not necessarily mean that this has nothing to
do with the Russia investigation. It might have just been a way that the
Southern District could have kind of taken the heat off of the Mueller
investigation .

HAYES: Right.

BERTRAND: . in order to kind of calm Trump down, and not - which we`ve
seen did not work, because of his reaction today. He`s - he said that he
might actually fire Mueller, which we don`t know yet.

But we just don`t know. I mean, Michael Cohen has been involved in so many
aspects of this investigation, and different facets of this investigation,
whether it be potential money laundering, whether it be deals with regard
to Trump Tower and Russia, whether it be with Stormy Daniels.

I mean, he`s just at the center of so much of this that it`s really
difficult to say what Mueller and the Southern District are looking into,
and what they`re actually homing in on.

Of course, we will - we will see once Mueller comes out with his report,
but as of right now, Michael Cohen is the lynchpin of all this, he`s
essentially the vault. And that`s why it`s so dangerous for the president
right now.

SEDER: Well, you know, Marcy Wheeler, who blogs @emptywheel, who`s (ph)
very good on stuff like this .

HAYES: Right. Right. Right.

SEDER: . made a point of pointing out that in the Mueller filing regarding
the Manafort Case, Mueller argues that his jurisdiction included charging a
subject who could ultimately flip and become a witness .

HAYES: Cooperate, yes.

SEDER: . against someone in the main investigation. So according to, at
least, what Mueller has argued in a filing with Manafort, he - his
investigation would have had jurisdiction, here. So I am in .

HAYES: That`s interesting.

SEDER: . that camp that says this is more political than jurisdictional.

HAYES: We`re going to learn a lot more in the next few days, and it`s
going to be remarkable to watch. Natasha Bertrand, Tara Dowdell, and Sam
Seder, thank you all.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
Good even, Rachel.


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