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Trump Fixer Michael Cohen testifies. TRANSCRIPT: 02/27/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Deborah Wasserman Schultz, Jamie Raskin, Natasha Bertrand, David Corn, Rick Wilson, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Tony Schwartz

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 27, 2019 Guest: Deborah Wasserman Schultz, Jamie Raskin, Natasha Bertrand, David Corn, Rick Wilson, Danielle Moodie-Mills, Tony Schwartz




MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER, DONALD TRUMP: You don`t know him, I do. I sat next to this man for ten years and I watched his back.

HAYES: For the first time ever --

COHEN: Mr. Trump is a con man.

HAYES: Michael Cohen testifies in public.

COHEN: Mr. Trump is a racist.

HAYES: Against his former boss.

COHEN: Mr. Trump is a cheat.

HAYES: From the Russian e-mail hack --

COHEN: Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of e-mails.

HAYES: To the Trump Tower deal.

COHEN: Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it.

HAYES: To what we still don`t know.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D), ILLINOIS: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven`t yet discussed today?


HAYES: A historic day of testimony against the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you called Donald Trump a cheat, what would you call yourself?

COHEN: A fool.

HAYES: And the desperate Republican attempts to shut it down.

COHEN: I`m responsible for your silliness because I did the same thing that you`re doing now.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Two months before reporting the federal prison to serve a three-year sentence, the man the President has called a rat for cooperating with the Justice Department came before Congress and the American people to paint what was a devastating portrait, frankly, of his former boss.

In the first ever public testimony from a witness inside the President`s inner circle, Michael Cohen pulled back the curtain on Trump world to reveal an operation built on lies, intimidation and a number of potential crimes.


COHEN: I am ashamed that I chose to take part in concealing Mr. Trump`s illicit acts rather than listening to my own conscience. I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat. And I have done bad things but I am not a bad man. I have fixed things but I am no longer your fixer Mr. Trump.


HAYES: It was the most damning testimony against a sitting president since well, probably John Dean incriminated Richard Nixon. And this despite Cohen`s very real credibility issues. Among other charges he pleaded guilty to lying under oath in previous congressional testimony. Cohen acknowledged his own limitations and tried to corroborate his claims about the President.


COHEN: To attack me every single time about taxes, I have no credibility, it`s for exactly that reason that I spent the last week searching boxes in order to find the information that I did so that you don`t have to take my word for it. I don`t want you to. I want you to look at the documents and I want you to make your own decision.


HAYES: Among the documents Cohen submitted into evidence was this, a check for $35,000 apparently signed by the President himself dated August 1st, 2017 while the president was in office, while he was President of these United States. Cohen says it was part of his reimbursement for the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels before the election.

Now, let`s be clear, that hushpuppy payment was part of the criminal scheme to which Cohen has already plead guilty in federal court. A scheme that may well have helped Donald Trump get elected by suppressing information, and the check from the president puts the president sitting as the president wall in the White House at the center of that continued scheme while serving as a chief executive of the U.S. government.

Cohen also alleged that Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organizations CFO Allen Weisselberg were involved. Besides implicating the president in a conspiracy to violate election law, Cohen accused the president of a number of other crimes including self-dealing in his charitable foundation, bank fraud, insurance fraud, and tax evasion fudging his ethics filings under penalty of perjury.

Cohn accused the president and his lawyers of suborning perjury by effectively urging him to lie to Congress and downplay his work on a project in Moscow throughout the campaign. Cohen also claimed the President had advanced knowledge from Roger Stone of WikiLeaks first release in the summer of 2016.


COHEN: Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. stone that within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of emails that would damage Hillary Clinton`s campaign.

REP. DEBORAH WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: How can we corroborate what you are saying?

COHEN: I don`t know but I suspect that the Special Counsel`s office and other government agencies have the information that you`re seeking.


HAYES: Cohen alleged a vast range of criminal conduct by the President, and that`s just the stuff he`s allowed to talk about. For all we know, there may be other incidents we haven`t heard about yet that are already in under investigation by federal prosecutors.


KRISHNAMOORTHI: When was the last communication with President Trump or someone acting on his behalf?

COHEN: I don`t have the specific date but it was a while ago.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: And what did he or his agent communicate to you?

COHEN: Unfortunately this topic is actually something that`s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York. And I`ve been asked by them not to discuss it, not to talk about these issues.


HAYES: Joining me now two Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee who questioned Michael Cohen at today`s hearing, Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you. A lot of testimony, we`ve learned a lot of things, some things we knew and were confirmed, some were completely new pieces of information. What was your takeaway from today congresswoman?

SCHULTZ: Well, my takeaway from today, Chris, was that we`ve got a few more hearings that we have to -- that we have to convene with particularly for starters with President Trump`s daughter, and son, and son-in-law because Mr. Cohen`s response to my question today about whether or not they could have been compromised prior to the election due to their involvement and lying about the Trump Tower deal certainly created more questions than then answers and we`ve got two of those three people who are literally working in the White House every single day. And it`s essential that we get to the bottom of the deception and the corruption that appears to have taken place.

HAYES: So just to make sure I`m tracking this, you`re saying Don Jr., Ivanka, and Jared, you would like to see them before that committee?

SCHULTZ: I would.

HAYES: Congressman Raskin, your takeaway from today.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, the president is a hands-on leader when it comes to his various schemes and so he was directly involved in running the Moscow Trump Tower project. he was directly involved in writing checks and organizing checks for hush money payments that constituted illegal campaign finance contributions and expenditures.

So I don`t think the President is going to be able to run away from what we`ve learned about him. I mean, he was directly involved in all of the criminality that Mr. Cohen was discussing today, and he came off as a very powerful effective witness precisely because he wasn`t lying. He has no incentive to lie now and he`s unburdening himself after you know, more than a decade of being involved with this web of propaganda and deceit that`s the Trump campaign and the Trump presidency.

So I think our Republican colleagues appeared to be frantic and unhinged at many points, and you know they kept talking about lying but as I told Cohen, they weren`t up said because he had lied to Congress about the president, they were upset because he stopped lying to Congress about the president and I think that was very clear.

HAYES: I want to ask you about a thing that I think is -- it`s a strange thing because it`s something that we all know and have known for a while. It was sort of reintroduced and framed today which is that the President is just as a matter of the public record implicated in a criminal conspiracy to violate campaign finance law that has already resulted in a felony plea, that has been sworn on to by the Southern District in New York and the judge in that case all of whom agree that there was -- that there was a violation of a criminal violation of campaign finance law.

And today, Michael Cohen comes out and shows a check the President wrote in August of his first year of office. Did that surprise you, Congresswoman?

SCHULTZ: It did surprise me. To see the sort of stone-cold evidence that President Trump did exactly the opposite of what he said which he lied initially and said that he had not made any payments, knew nothing about the payments as a result of that interaction. And what was even more surprising, Chris, was that those payments and those discussions happened in the Oval Office.

I mean, that was stunning. That was a stunning admission that in the midst of President Trump running the country, what was he -- what was he most worried about, making sure that he reimbursed his lawyer who he had you know, take a loan out on his house, cover up the deed for him and you pay him back during this entire process and while he`s been lying about it as president United States. That was stunning to me.

HAYES: Congressman, I want to -- I want to play some testimony with Gerry Connolly who`s a colleague of yours who I think listened to something entirely new. It was not in the plea that Michael Cohen entered into. I don`t think we knew this. This is about whether the President -- how and if the presidents reviewed -- he and his lawyers reviewed his congressional testimony. Take a listen.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: So you had a conversation with the president of the United States about your impending testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, is that correct?

COHEN: That`s correct.

RASKIN: Which specific lawyers reviewed and edited your statement to Congress on the Moscow Tower negotiations and did they make any changes to your statement?

COHEN: There were changes made, additions. Jay Sekulow for one.


HAYES: So now, that`s you there, Congressman Raskin. We should say that Jay Sekulow issued a denial. It`s a specific denial that the testimony -- that they change anything having to do with the duration of the Moscow deal is false. He says, "Today`s testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or change his statement of Congress to altered the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiation is it completely false." What`s your reaction to Cohn`s testimony about the President and his lawyers both talking to him, reviewing his testimony that we now know was false?

RASKIN: Well, the reason we were asking about it is because Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress about how long the president was involved in you know, his business negotiations for the Moscow Tower. And they -- it was changed from apparently what was accurate which was it went in you know through most of the campaign or at least until the summer to January. And what we elicited from him is that the lawyers for the president, Jay Sekulow, I believe was a personally retained lawyer not a White House lawyer, and as well as possibly the White House lawyers reviewed and edited the testimony.

So obviously, that`s one of the many fruitful lines of inquiry that we need to pursue now. Was this changed by lawyers working for the president? How involved was the White House in that? And you know, there a number of things like that that came up today which are peaking our curiosity in a very strong way.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you both after a very long day for making time for us this evening. To help decipher the vast legal implications from today`s hearing, let`s bring an MSNBC Legal Analyst Jill Wine-Banks and MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman who are both former assistant special Watergate prosecutors.

Jill, let me start with you. Your expectations for today and where they -- were today surprised you?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I wasn`t surprised today. I was -- found him to be a very credible and calm witness. And maybe I was a little surprised about how come he remained under the constant deluge of attacks. I also was maybe a little surprised by how much documentation he had. When John Dean testified during Watergate, he was uncorroborated. We all now think about how he was corroborated by the tapes but he didn`t know that there were any tapes at the time he testified. He testified simply from memory.

And in this case, we had actual documents, seeing the checks and seeing Donald Trump`s signature which looked exactly like it does when he signs legislation, was -- that was a very dramatic moment for me. I think the identification of as Congressman Raskin just said lines of inquiry to be pursued was very dramatic. And also the number of crimes that were identified today.

I mean, you had -- we knew about bank fraud we knew about some of the campaign finance violations but there were the foundation and the purchase of the painting and the ego that was involved in jacking up the price of that so that his would sell for the most amount of money. There were just a lot of crimes identified so I think that there`s a lot left to be pursued and investigated both by Mueller and by the Congress in public.

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I think the big issue here is his credibility and I think he was extremely credible.

HAYES: I was personally surprised by how credible and calm he seemed, honestly.

AKERMAN: Absolutely. But if you look at -- what is the test of credibility, its cross-examination. What did the Republicans do? They asked -- they`d asked him about the incidents involving Donald Trump. They asked him about who paid for your lawyer. I mean, they never even touched one of the items that he brought up.

I mean what they did is they call them a friends and the Democrats on the committee. He wasn`t testifying because he was a friend of the Democrats, he was testifying because he had been a friend and a confidant of Donald Trump for over ten years.

HAYES: Well, that`s part of the weirdness of the whole set up is that the more they berate the man`s character, the worst it looks for the man that he worked for, for ten years.

AKERMAN: Absolutely.

HAYES: I mean, sort of a Chinese finger (INAUDIBLE) kind of situation.

AKERMAN: Of course. They asked you to believe that he lied. He told -- he told the truth when he said he lied to Congress. But then they turn around and say well don`t believe him when he said that his boss -- Donald Trump lied on a whole bunch of different occasions.

HAYES: What do you think -- we`re going to talk about more of this and then I`m going to come to you Jill. But what do you think about what from the special counsels perspective we heard today and didn`t hear?

AKERMAN: I think it`s what we didn`t hear that`s most important. I think what`s really significant is that he kept away from a good part of the Russian investigation. We just got little snippets from the beginning relating to Trump Tower, relating to Roger Stone, and conversations with Julian Assange which obviously are significant. But he didn`t get into this whole area of whether he was really involved at the end after Paul Manafort left in trying to cover up the role of the Russian involvement in the entire campaign.

HAYES: Right.

AKERMAN: So that`s a part we don`t know. And the fact that that is still an open issue says to me, we`re not going to be getting a report from Bob Mueller anytime soon.

HAYES: That`s an interesting point. There`s also the fact, Jill, that when that Congressman Krishnamoorthi asked, are there other crimes that you know about that we haven`t heard. He said, yes, sure are, but I can`t tell you.

BANKS: Yes. That was one of the dramatic moments and will show us that there is much more to come. I think going to his credibility, one of the things that said to me, credibility, was how controlled and careful he was in his testimony. He did not stretch the truth. When he thought that there was something exonerating, he said it. He said, I don`t think that he would ever hit Melania.

He was very careful. He didn`t say yes, he knew that those e-mails were from the Russians. He said he knew that they exist because I heard this conversation. But he was very careful in saying exactly and only what he heard. So that`s a sign of a very credible, well-prepared witness, and that was impressive to me and made me think that people will believe him.

HAYES: In fact, he said a lot of things that were actually exculpatory to the president that you know, about a tape in which he allegedly had abused his wife doesn`t -- I don`t think it exists. About the infamous blackmail tape the Russian have, he said, I don`t think that exists. About the President pay for abortions or medical procedures, I don`t know. Not that -- I mean --

AKERMAN: That`s right.

HAYES: He was not their saying like every fever dream you have about the evil of man is true. He, in fact, knocking down humorous things despite the fact that Republicans were knocking about the head.

AKERMAN: And that`s right. And they`re trying to make it like a big deal that this person because he has pled guilty and he committed crimes shouldn`t be believed. The fact of the matter is, this happens all the time. When I was a prosecutor, I had a guy who spent his whole life scheming and stealing and committed nine murders, and I had a lot of people convicted on his testimony and that`s because as, Jill, said he had lots of corroborating testimony -- corroborating evidence, documents, and other testimony. That`s what`s important.

HAYES: One big takeaway Allen Weisselberg, CFO of Trump Org, that guy has got some talking to do because he got name dropped a lot by Michael Cohen as a guy who knows things even Michael Cohen doesn`t. I imagine we will be hearing more from him in some capacity one way or the other. Jill Wine- Banks and Nick Akerman, thank you both.

Much more to get through in the first public testimony of the President`s former right-hand man Michael Cohen including Cohen`s allegations the President is lying about some of the questions at the heart of the Mueller probe. We`ll talk about that next.



COHEN: I remember being in a room with Mr. Trump probably in early June of 2016 when something peculiar happened. Don Trump Jr. came into the room and walked behind his father`s desk which in and of itself was unusual. People didn`t just walk behind Mr. Trump`s desk to talk to him. And I recall Don Jr. leave leaning over to his father and speaking in a low voice which I could clearly hear and saying the meeting is all set. And I remember Mr. Trump saying, OK, good, let me know.

So I concluded that Don Jr. was referring to that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting about dirt on Hillary with the Russian representatives when he walked behind his dad`s desk that day.


HAYES: Michael Cohen under oath said today that he thinks Donald Trump knew ahead of time about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting and his campaign expected a Russian government representative to share dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Kremlin`s efforts to get Trump elected. That`s not the only time today that Cohen link the President to rush an election interference.


COHEN: Mr. Trump knew from Roger Stone in advance about the WikiLeaks drop of e-mails in July of 2016 days before the Democratic convention. I was in Mr. Trump`s office when his secretary announced that Roger Stone was on the phone. Mr. Trump, Mr. Stone on the speakerphone. Mr. stone told Mr. Trump that he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and that Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that 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.

HAYES: Here to talk about what the President knew and when he knew it, Natasha Bertrand Staff Writer for The Atlantic and David Corn the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones, co-author of Russian Roulette: The Inside story of Putin`s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.

Natasha, I`ll start with you. I should say that WikiLeaks has denied that -- it`s interesting, WikiLeaks and Assange both put out statements. WikiLeaks saying they never had a phone call. Assange says this. His lawyer Barry Pollack says Roger Stone did not have the telephone call. Michael Cohen described Stone claiming to have had with Julian Assange which is more parsed. What`s the significance of this from Michael Cohen?

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Yes. That`s a very carefully worded statement. So first of all, I think you have to think about it in terms of the legal exposure that it could potentially pose to the president in terms of perjury, right, because he told Mueller according to CNN that he had never been told by Roger Stone about the impending WikiLeaks releases. He put that in writing.

If that -- if Michael Cohen`s claims are corroborated here by Mueller and Mueller, of course, thinks that Cohen is a credible witness, then that could be a big problem for the President.

HAYES: Great point.

BERTRAND: You know, secondly I think that Mueller`s claims in recent court filings really show that this might not have just been Roger Stone bluffing on July 18th, 19th. That`s around the time that Cowan says that he heard the phone call. And that`s also the exact day that WikiLeaks message Guccifer 2.0, as we know a Russian intelligence front, and said thanks, got the DNC e-mails. Ready to publish them within the next week. The same day that stone reached out to Trump.

Another thing is that on July 22nd, the day that the DNC e-mails were released, Roger Stone is contacted by a senior Trump campaign official who had been directed by yet another unknown senior Trump campaign official to ask Assange when more e-mails damaging to Clinton`s candidacy would be released.

So there are a lot of you know things you need to look at in terms of the timeline when judging the veracity of this.

HAYES: You know, David, I kept thinking about how we got this whole weird subplot of like the intermediary between Stone and Assange, right? Like, was it Corsi or Credico, and part of his lying is he`s trying to throw people off the scent from one to the other. But this suggested that they were just talking to each other. I don`t know if this is true, but it is a very different picture of the chain of communication than what is --

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Yes. Well, it also -- it happens before the conversations that we know about between Stone and Corsi. I always thought it the big puzzle there is that Stone has publicly said he told reporters that Randy Credico, this guy in New York City, a radio host was his intermediary with -- in an attempt to get to WikiLeaks. And he never said anything about Jerome Corsi. That`s why he didn`t tell Congress that far as he`s been indicted in part.

So my question always has been, why is he so careful? Why is he lying yes allegedly committing a crime to protect the Corsi channel, but telling everybody about Credico? We still don`t know the answer to this. My guess is that Mueller knows and hopefully one day he will inform the rest of us.

But I do think the Trump Tower meeting revelation might even be more important that we that we heard today.

HAYES: How so?

CORN: Because that gets to the issue of whether Trump himself knew that the Kremlin was trying to help his campaign. Because that`s the -- that`s the importance of the meeting. Not whether they got dirt or not. They came with an e-mail that said we`re going to give you dirt through a Russian emissary, but this is part of a Kremlin plan to help Trump. Who saw that? Trump Jr., Jared, and Paul Manafort, the campaign manager at the time. They were told that Russia wants to help them.

Now, throughout the campaign they kept saying, no Russian intervention and Trump said the same thing. But if he knew about that meeting, he knew that the Russians were up to something to help him and then he lied to the public about that through the rest of the campaign.

HAYES: Well, that -- I mean, first of all, the Cohen`s testimony that like of course, Donald Trump micromanages all this stuff and would know about it was persuasive and chives with everything we`ve heard about everything else. But just take a step back. I mean, what might take away from this is just like of course, all these people knew what they were doing.

The Kremlin knows what Donald Trump is doing when he goes out there and says please hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and Vladimir Putin is an awesome dude and at least he`s a strong leader for his country and we could probably drop sanctions. And I don`t know, Crimea probably wants to be part of Russia. They know what he`s doing and Donald Trump knows what is happening when all this stuff is popping up from Russians. Like no one needed to tell the other party what they`re doing when the whole thing is happening.

CORN: Exactly.

BERTRAND: No. And I think one of the most remarkable things that Michael Cohen did today was he placed Donald Trump at the center of the most important discussions, Russia-related discussions that were happening during the campaign and after the campaign. So you know, when you think about the Trump Tower you know, meeting. He says that Donald Trump Jr. effectively told him about that meeting.

When you`re talking about Trump Tower Moscow, he said that Trump told him to implicitly lie about it even if he did not -- did not explicitly come out and say it, he said you know, stick to the story, no Russia collusion and you know Michael Cohen took the hint there.

And when it comes to WikiLeaks, he was involved in those conversations too. So what Michael Cohen did which was a real service here is he made Trump -- he put over the center of the conspiracy in a way that we cannot deny any longer that Trump knew about the collusion aspect of this.

HAYES: David.

CORN: And it`s not just collusion. I mean, we get - I think we get hung up on this. The fact that Donald Trump, a presidential nominee spent months denying that Russia was attacking. This is an attack. Russia was attacking the United States when he knew or at least his people knew about the Trump Tower meeting and maybe he did too, and even after he was briefed by U.S. intelligence in mid-august that Russians were behind these attacks, he still went out there and echoed, bolstered, amplified the Russian disinformation that they weren`t doing anything.

So that`s the profound act of betrayal that he`s been able to sidestep a bit by saying there was no collusion. He never sat down with Russian hackers and told them where to hit the DNC servers. But it`s this other larger portrayal, it`s out there right in front of us that really is one of the biggest scandals I think in American political history.

HAYES: Natasha Bertrand and David Corn, thank you both for taking the time. Next, the embarrassingly desperate lengths Republicans went to today to show they are truly a party of Trump. Those scenes coming up.


HAYES: Not a great look for the Republicans in the House Oversight Committee today as they did everything they could to disrupt the Michael Cohen hearing. They unsuccessfully tried to end the hearing before it began, before attempting to portray the president`s former lawyer as a lying criminal, a fact disputed by exactly no one, including Michael Cohen.

GOP committee members frequently yielded their time back to ranking member Jim Jordan, hoping he would land a punch, but Jordan was repeatedly rebuffed, and even scolded by Cohen.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Shame on you, Mr. Jordan. That`s not what I said. Shame on you.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO: Mr. Chairman...

COHEN: That`s not what I said responsibility and I take responsibility. What I was doing is explaining to the gentleman that his facts are inaccurate. I take responsibility for my mistakes, all right. I am remorseful. And I am going to prison...


HAYES: Two things quickly became obvious, that House Republicans had nothing to attack Cohen with, and that they had no power anymore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked unanimous consent.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D) MARYLAND: The gentleman`s time has expired. You may answer the question.

COHEN: I don`t know what you`re referring to, sir.


CUMMING: Mr. Clay.

REP. LACY CLAY, (D) MISSOURI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

HAYES: Republicans are left resorting to childish taunts, literally liar, liar pants on fire, or trying to solve imaginary crimes, like Louisiana`s Clay Higgins and the search for Michael Cohen`s missing boxes.


REP. CLAY HIGGINS, (R) LOUISIANA: Mr. Cohen, I`m quoting you close, (inaudible) said I spent last week looking through boxes to find documents that would support your accusations. Where are those boxes, good sir?

Where are those boxes? Are they in your garage?

COHEN: They are in storage.

HIGGINS: And are these not boxes that should have been turned over to investigative authorities? Did Mr. Lanny Davis know of these boxes?

COHEN: I spent the last week searching boxes.

HIGGINS: Where are those boxes? Where are these boxes? Who knows if the -- where is this treasure of evidence?


HAYES: They actually had been seized by investigators and then returned to Michael Cohen, which she tried to explain maybe a dozen times.

One of the more bizarre moments came when Mark Meadows of North Carolina brought in Lynne Patton. She`s a former Trump org employee who is now the HUD regional director for New York, despite having zero relevant qualifications for that important job. And he had her stand awkwardly behind him as proof that Trump couldn`t be racist.

When Democrat Rashida Tlaib pointed out the flaws of that, Meadows did not take it well.


REP. RADHIDA TLAIB, (D) MICHIGAN: Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color, a black person, working for them, does not mean they aren`t racist. And it is insensitive that someone even say -- the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber in this committee is alone racist in itself.

REP. MARK MEADOWS, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: My nieces and nephews are people of color, not many people know that. You know that, Mr. Chairman. And to indicate that I ask someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family, who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual, that she`s coming in to be a prop, it`s racist to suggest that I ask can her to come in here for that reason.


HAYES: How about that? We will take a deeper dive into what might have been the Republican`s worst day in a while with Rick Wilson and Danielle Moodie-Mills when we come back.


REP. PAUL GOSAR, (R) ARIZONA; It`s sad. It`s sad that we with come -- and in fact I want to the chairman`s very words. This is a real -- hold on...

CUMMINGS: Gentleman`s time is expired.

GOSAR: ...sad state.




COHEN: I`m responsible for your silliness, because I did the same thing you`re doing now for 10 years: I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years. And the fact that you pull up a news article that has no value to it and you want to use that as the premise for discrediting me, that I`m not the person that people called at 3:00 in the morning, would make you inaccurate, in actuality, it would make you a liar, which puts you in the same place I am in. And I can only warn people, the more people who follow Mr. Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I`m suffering.


HAYES: Michael Cohen, a convicted felon, warned Republicans to their faces on the oversight committee today they could end up just like him if they continued to carry water for the president.


COHEN: You don`t know him. I do. I sat next to this man for 10 years and I watched his back. I`m the one who started the campaign.


HAYES: Joining me now, Republican strategist and media consultant Rick Wilson and Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of Woke AF on Sirius XM.

There are a lot of weird moments. I want to just start with the bizarre Lynne Patton moment in which Mark Meadows goes out of his way to preemptive rebut something that was in the opening testimony about the president calling black voters too stupid to vote for him, and as a means of rebutting that has Lynne Patton silently stand up.

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, WOKE AF: On an auction block and say look at my black friend, look at her, that means the president isn`t racist, was the epitome of racism. Are you serious? Is she the black ambassador for the entire race because one person out of his entire cabinet, his entire staff is there is there as the black person that this is who you bring up?

The fact that he thought that that was going to be like a got you moment is incredible to me. Incredible.

HAYES: Yeah, it was awkward and cringe inducing and bizarre in the moment I think even to people that maybe were disposed to be sympathetic on the Republicans on the committee.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure. And, look, that was for the Fox/Breitbart audience. That was exclusively to play to their base, because it`s my black friend theory. And it was cringe inducing. It was awful. And it was just a moment, you`re like, get off that train, you know, that is not a great place for you to be.

HAYES: You know, there are two things that struck me about Republicans in this. One is, obviously they`re going to defend the president, but there was a kind of toadying quality to it that was striking. I mean, we know this about the way -- you know, the way that Trump has taken over the party, but there was an abjectness to the way they comported themselves, except for Justin Amash, in which they didn`t even pretend to care about the things that were being made.

WILSON: Right. They never asked a substantive question all day today. They never addressed anything. They avoided saying the T-word, Donald Trump, the entire time. And what you got was a lot of like high school drama class over acting by Jim Jordan throwing his arms around and throwing paper, and Mark Meadows practically spiting, you know, he`s so angry.

All of it was just contrived, phony, you know, like I said it`s high school drama class. It`s so over the top and its so silly. And of course they`re demeaning themselves. They`ve given up...

MOODIE-MILLS: I don`t want to insult high school drama classes, because I think that they put in a lot of work. I mean, they put up a poster board that said like liar, liar pants on fire. Who does that? No one does that in real life.

WILSON: I mean, the important part, Chris, that everybody keeps missing is, you know who doesn`t give a damn about the high school drama, Southern District of New York, Robert Mueller. The facts don`t -- the fact that Cohen is revealing today are much -- are going to be remembered and known and litigated long after all this play time is over.

HAYES: Although, what was interesting to me is they didn`t really even try to dismantle any of the facts. I mean, honestly, like, the fact that the president -- and there`s one guy Steube, I believe his name is, from Florida, who actually did this long thing where he`s trying to be like well is there any corroborating evidence that this is a reimbursement. And Michael Cohen is like no. And then ultimately Michael Cohen well Rudy Giuliani said it was a reimbursement on national television. So everyone has agreed to that. Where are you going with this.

But that was the only attempt to try to knock anything down. By and large, there was no actual factual attack.

MOODIE-MILLS: And that`s what I thought was so troubling is that here was their opportunity to really say I want to get to the truth. Here we are, we know that Republicans had control for two years. But this is our opportunity to show the American people that we care more about the truth than we do about the proximity to power and money. It is an incredible aphrodisiac.

And that`s what we saw today, that`s what Michael Cohen said, don`t be like me, be better than me.

HAYES: And there`s also the surreality of the whole spectacle, which is them hammering Michael Cohen on his character in a totally warranted fashion.


HAYES: But it`s like, yes, exactly, that`s, right, have you looked at the White House? I felt like they were doing what I do every night on this show being like this guy.

WILSON: The question -- and it poses the obvious question, was Michael Cohen a scum bag only after he ratted on Trump? Did his character miraculously change overnight? No. And everything about Donald Trump`s organization that Weisselberg and Cohen are going to reveal and peal back over time is going to look sleazy and nasty and small ball, it`s not The Apprentice, it`s not TV Show image of The Apprentice, it`s the real Donald Trump. It`s the sleaze.

HAYES: And not just the Trump Org, as someone -- as multiple people -- the deputy finance chair for the RNC was in that committee today, the deputy finance chair for the RNC. If this guy is such a scum bag...

WILSOM: And a prime surrogate for the president.

HAYES: You know, like...

MOODIE-MILLS: He say -- Michael Cohen said I know Donald Trump. I sat next to him and with him for 10 years, right, so the idea is that, a, Donald Trump wants us to believe that he is an idiot and knows nothing that happened in his organization, or he wants us to think that he`s a brilliant and he has the best words and the best people around him.

And my question is, which one is it? Which Donald Trump should we know and should we understand and believe as American citizens. I don`t know. So my gut tells me you`re an idiot, right. You`ve surrounded yourself with people that are just like you. They are sycophants, and they will do anything and everything in order to cover your tracks. And I just, I can`t help but ask myself why? Why? What are you going to get at the end of the day? The Republican Party, what are you going to get at the end of the day? Because he is going down.

WILSON: Fired.

HAYES: Yeah. That was the question I kept asking myself watching the entire performance today as well. It was the question Michael Cohen was asking himself as he tried to warn them.

Rick Wilson and Danielle Moodie-Mills, thank you both.

Still to come, Michael Cohen`s portrait of Trump world and the code they operate under. Tony Schwartz, co-author of "Art of the Deal," joins me to talk about that.

Plus, this literal portrait of Trump in one of the more bizarre stories to come out of today`s hearing. That story next.


HAYES: You have to wonder which parts of Michael Cohen`s testimony are going to bother Trump more, being implicated in actual crimes, or stories like this one, about this portrait of the president and what Trump did when he heard it was going up for auction in 2013.


COHEN: Mr. Trump directed me to find a straw bidder to purchase a portrait of him that was being auctioned off at an Art Hamptons event. The objective was to ensure that this portrait, which was going to be auctioned last, would go for the highest price of any portrait that afternoon. The portrait was purchased by the fake bidder for $60,000. Mr. Trump directed the Trump Foundation, which is supposed to be a charitable organization, to repay the fake bidder, despite keeping the art for himself.


HAYES: So just been clear, Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to find a phony bidder to jack up the price of a painting of himself apparently all so that he could brag that it was the most expensive as he did in a tweet right after the auction, and I quote, "just found out that at a charity auction of celebrity portraits in East Hampton, my portrait by artist William Quigley topped the list at 60k."

That was just one of many glimpses we got today inside the sordid, petty, small, desperate and thirsty world of Donald Trump. We`ll go even deeper inside Trump world with "Art of the Deal" co-author Tony Schwartz, next.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER, (D) CALIFORNIA: How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?

COHEN: Quite a few times.

SPEIER: 50 times?

COHEN: More.

SPEIER: 100 times?

COHEN: More.

SPEIER: 200 times?

COHEN: More.

SPEIER: 500 times?

COHEN: Probably over the 10 years.


HAYES: Michael Cohen`s testimony before congress today offering something we rarely get from a Trump world insider, an unvarnished description of how Donald Trump really operates, and specifically how he gets his dirty work done.

Joining me now is someone with unique insight into that process, Tony Schwartz, ghost writer, co-author of Art of the Deal.

Did that -- that part I thought was striking, the threats, and how much they`re part of the MO. What did you think of that?

TONY SCHWARTZ, WRITER: Well, I mean, Trump was all over you like a wet blanket no matter who you were, trying to impose his agenda on you in every moment. That was true in my own experience, and it was true watching him. I was thinking today oddly about Robert Trump, his younger brother, who disappeared off into a farm in upstate New York many years ago, but when I was doing this work was the number two guy at the Trump organization. And I just watched him over and over be crushed by Donald.

HAYES: What do you mean by that?

SCHWARTZ: Just do this -- it`s like Michael Cohen, do this, do that, stop, shut up. You know, interesting, for example, what he said about his own son today, you know, he`s got the worst judgment on earth.

HAYES: Right.

SCHWARTZ: I mean, you know, John, that Donald Trump would sell out his children in one moment if it was him or them to go to prison.

HAYES: By the way, the president right now is meeting with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi. The two of them are set to have the first full day of essentially bilateral talks at this summit. They`ve had some sort of niceties, there`s been a little bit of staff work. We`re now seeing I think that`s live pictures in Hanoi, Vietnam, just as that is going on while this is going on back here.

And one thing I thought was really interesting was what Cohen said about how Trump got people to toe the line. There`s this -- you know, the story comes out that Buzzfeed that he was directed him to lie to congress and then the special counsel`s office knocks it down. And here is a kind of threading of the needle, as Cohen explains it, that I thought would be interesting. I`d like the get your response. Take a listen.


COHEN: Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to congress, that`s not how he operates. In conversations we had 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`s no Russian business, and go on to lie to the American people by saying the same thing.

In his way, he was telling me to lie. He doesn`t give you questions. He doesn`t give you orders. He speaks in a code, and I understand the code because I`ve been around him for a decade.


SCHWARTZ: Yeah. And what it makes me think, Chris, is just this is a man, as I`ve said many, many times, without a conscience. And so the idea of lying, not lying, they`re all the same to him. It`s how do i get what I want when I want it.

You know, to me, the only question from today is what did he know, when did he know it? What did he do, when did he do it? It`s so fascinating to me that I cannot in reading over this see one instance in which anyone, any Republican, said anything to defend him, to actually defend him. That`s an amazing thought.

HAYES: It`s such a great point. I mean, no one says are you saying the president lied about this? You want us to believe that Donald Trump wrote a reimbursement check in the White House? Obviously all of that is plausible on its face, every single last detail.

SCHWARTZ: Yeah. And even up until almost the very end with Nixon, there were people who would talk about what a great statesman he was.

HAYES: Right.

SCHWARTZ: What an extraordinary person he was. And this was after he was clearly guilty of felonies. No one at this point will say anything positive about Donald Trump.

HAYES: It`s true. They did not affirmatively defend the man. What they did is attack Michael Cohen`s credibility, but they did not defend the character of the man that he was speaking about today.

SCHWARTZ: That`s all they have left.

HAYES: What do you -- here`s my question, I guess. I always wonder how conscious he is of the law and of skirting it, right. I mean, when people describe this sort of mobster mentality, like he doesn`t tell you to do something, but he sort of winks winks, nods nods. How conscious is he?

SCHWARTZ: You want to have a clear answer to that question, and I there isn`t one, because I think he slides back and forth literally in and out of reality. And I think that he -- what really dominates him is the awareness that, or the belief, that no matter what it is, true, false, right, wrong, criminal, not criminal, he will prevail.

And let`s be very clear, he has prevailed and prevailed and prevailed until this day. He`s Teflon until his not Teflon. I think it`s getting closer, but I thought that for a long, long time.

HAYES: That`s a really, really good point.

Tony Schwartz, thank you so much for coming through tonight.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.