Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: August 22, 2018 Guest: Hakeem Jeffries, Maya Wiley, Elie Honig, Kathy Fleming, Ambrosio Rodriguez, Sam Nunberg, Margaret Carlson, Richard Blumenthal
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: More MTP DAILY. "THE BEAT" starts right now. It`s Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. Ayman, how are you doing, brother?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: I`m doing great, Chuck. Thank you very much. Appreciate that. I`m in tonight for Ari Melber who`s on vacation.
The nation`s capital rocked as the White House confronts legal danger on its own doorstep. Two new felons close to Donald Trump and today things are not slowing down.
Ahead, I`m going to talk to Michael Cohen`s associate Sam Nunberg live right here on THE BEAT about Cohen`s guilty plea. Also joining me, Democratic Senator who says all remedies should be on the table, including a possible indictment of the president.
But we want to start with the jaw-dropping new defense from Donald Trump`s allies. First, it was truth isn`t truth, you may remember that one. Today, it`s crimes aren`t crimes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Believe that Michael Cohen pled guilty to actions that are called crimes in the plea deal, that aren`t, in fact, crimes.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAWYER: There are no restrictions on what a candidate can contribute to his own campaign. So if, in fact, the president directed Cohen to do it as his lawyer and was going to compensate him for it, the president committed no crime. If Cohen did it on his own --
ALISYN CAMEROTA, ANCHOR, CNN: That seems awfully convoluted, though, Alan.
GREGG JARRETT, LEGAL ANALYST, FOX: This really isn`t a campaign violation, and it`s certainly not criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right. Let me be very clear about this, this is a crime. Michael Cohen already pleaded guilty to it, but the president is making this bizarre argument to first saying on Twitter that Cohen pleaded guilty to something that is "Not a crime" and then later downplaying it on TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
: About the payments?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Later on I knew, later on. But you have to understand, Angela, what he did, and they weren`t taken out of campaign finance. That`s a big thing, a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn`t come out of the campaign, they came from me.
In fact, my first question, when I heard about it was did they come out of the campaign because that could be a little dicey. And they didn`t come out of the campaign, and that`s big.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right. So Cohen in court said something different. He said that Trump did know about the payments, that he made them in coordination with Trump, that is according to Cohen, and at his direction. Cohen also made a secret recording of Trump in 2016 which appears to show him planning the payoff to Karen McDougal.
And in a media blips today, Cohen`s lawyer Lanny Davis argued Trump, in fact, committed a crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY OF MICHAEL COHEN: Very clearly, there is no dispute that Donald Trump committed a crime.
He lied on Air Force One when he said he knew nothing about it.
DAVIS: There`s no question that having pled to a felony yesterday and saying that Mr. Trump directed him to do what he did, that Mr. Trump would be guilty of the same crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So Davis also hinted that Cohen might know about potential wrongdoing by the Trump Foundation. And today, here in New York, New York State subpoenaed Cohen as part of its criminal probe into the Trump Foundation.
With me now, Former Federal Prosecutor Elie Honig who worked for the office prosecuting Michael Cohen, Maya Wiley, former counsel to the Mayor of New York City and New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who serves on the judiciary committee. It`s good to have all three of you with us.
Congressman, if I may begin with you, let`s start with Michael Cohen a little bit. Did Michael Cohen plead guilty to crimes or not? How do you see this?
HAKEEM JEFFRIES, DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: He absolutely pled guilty to a crime. And during his allocution in open court made clear that the president of the United States, then a candidate, was an active participant in that criminal activity.
Let`s just take a step back and look at the totality of the situation. There is clearly a cloud of illegitimacy hanging over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that`s growing bigger by the day. You`ve got Michael Flynn, guilty. George Papadopoulos, guilty. Paul Manafort, guilty. You`ve got Michael Cohen, of course, guilty. These are individuals who were incredibly close to the president of the United States of America.
And we`ve got to get an answer to the question, what did the president know? When did he know it? When this crime spree was taking place all around him. We`ve got to clean up corruption with this administration, and Washington, D.C. restore our democracy for the people.
MOHYELDIN: We played, Maya some sound bites of those that are coming out and defending the president saying that this is not a crime. Some, to maybe some extent, are saying, "Yes, maybe it`s legally a crime but it`s like a smaller crime, a misdemeanor." What is your read of what Michael Cohen did in terms of the campaign finance violation? Is it significant or is it not? Is this being blown out of the proportion for political reasons?
MAYA WILEY, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: It`s extremely significant because it goes directly to whether or not a candidate, Donald Trump, directed Michael Cohen, his attorney, to essentially quiet a scandal that might potentially interfere with his election. That`s exactly what the election laws are designed around. It`s explicit that a candidate must declare, even if it`s his or her own money, must declare the fact that they are using it to advance their campaign. So any way you slice it, this is significant.
MOHYELDIN: Does it vary based on the amount of money, if somebody did it for $5 as opposed to a quarter million dollars to two women?
WILEY: We`ve got a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
MOHYELDIN: To Stormy Daniels and I think $120 -
WILEY: So look, there`s no question we`re talking about a large sum of money. But I think the issue here is if you`re trying to protect what Lindsey Graham himself said in the context of Bill Clinton`s impeachment process, that it`s about cleansing the office of the presidency, this is actually a significant issue. I think the fact that we have a president who`s also said inconsistent things about it regularly demonstrates that there`s a real issue about whether our Commander in Chief is actually a commander of thief.
MOHYELDIN: Interesting point there. Let me ask you about that money aspect. Calendar shows as you heard earlier in that sound bite making the argument, that if the president is asking somebody to do it, if he`s commanding them to do it, paying out of his own money, that it`s not a crime. Had Cohen gone off and done this on his own without the president`s knowledge, he would be the person liable for this. To that end, do you agree with Alan Dershowitz? If not, Trump saying that there`s no crime here because it`s his own money, how do you see it, Elie?
ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: With all due respect to Professor Dershowitz, I think he`s wrong here. What we`re seeing is sort of a three- step shuffle that we`ve seen from the president and his defenders over and over again which is admit the conduct, then deny the conduct, then deny that it`s criminal. And Professor Dershowitz is part of that.
Now, even under Professor Dershowitz` read, it`s an expenditure. And if it`s an expenditure, it needs to be reported and the president did not report it. Therefore, he filed false paperwork with Federal authorities. So either way, the president is in criminal trouble.
MOHYELDIN: But how severe is that to not report it? Could it be negligence and negligence in itself is not as significant as the intent to cover up?
HONIG: Yes, that`s the key question. But he knew about it, and I think there`s ample evidence that he knew, then it`s more than negligence, then it`s willful. Keep in mind, this is effectively what John Edwards was prosecuted for and brought to trial four years ago. Now, Edwards was acquitted because there wasn`t enough proof that the expenditures were made to protect him in the campaign. The argument was he was trying to protect his privacy and his family.
Here though, if you look at the amounts, as Maya pointed out, and the timing, these alleged affairs happened many, many years before and then just weeks before the election, that`s when they need to cover them up.
MOHYELDIN: And Michael Cohen was reimbursed after the president got into the White House.
WILEY: Reimbursed after. Remember that Rudy Giuliani as a legal representative of the president said, "Imagine if this had come out on October 15th, 2016." He, himself, even as he was trying to argue this was about protecting the marriage of the president in the same breath said that this was about the election.
MOHYELDIN: Suggested this was - and the politics of it. So let`s speak a little about the politics of it. Given what we are seeing emerge over the past 24, 48 hours, are we beginning to see Republicans crack here in their unity around the president, their support for this president? Do other colleagues share your sentiment that you expressed earlier that there`s a cloud of suspicion over 1600 that needs to be addressed?
JEFFRIES: I certainly hope so. This is not Democratic or Republican, it`s an American issue. But unfortunately, what we`ve seen from my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee on the Republican side and throughout the Republican conference is that they`ve engaged, not as Americans, but as part of the cover-up caucus. Basically, to hide and to cover up the things that Donald Trump has done relative to crimes that may have been committed at his direction, or through his underlings, possibly connected to collusion with Russia to sell out our democracy.
And instead of trying to get to the bottom of what has occurred, they basically are taking orders from Donald Trump to cover it all up. And that`s shameful, that`s irresponsible and that`s a dereliction of duty relative to who we are as a separate and co-equal branch of government.
MOHYELDIN: Let me ask you, Maya, really quickly about the just position of Donald Trump`s reaction to what happened with Paul Manafort and what is happening with Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is saying he was a bad lawyer, if you`re looking for a good lawyer, don`t hire him. A bit of a dig there. But when it came to Paul Manafort, praise, saying he felt sorry for him, expressing sympathy for him, saying he was a brave man. Why the difference? How do you read the difference between these two men that served very intimately with the president?
WILEY: Very clearly, Michael Cohen flipped on the president. He pointed the finger, he called him out, he said he committed a crime. Paul Manafort refused to actually cooperate with prosecutors. He did not plead guilty to any of his crimes. He went through the entire court process and had to be actually found guilty by a Jury of his peers.
So what the president is signaling, both to Paul Manafort as well as to others out there who may have to make a decision about whether or not they`re going to cooperate with prosecutors and investigators, he`s saying, "If you stick by me I will stick by you. If you turn on me, I will come at you, guns blazing."
MOHYELDIN: And to that point, let`s ask about pardons. Because this is kind of like the big question everyone wants to know. Certainly something Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked about today. Take a listen to Lanny Davis talking about a possible pardon for Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, TODAY: Is he hoping for a pardon from President Trump?
DAVIS: Not only is he not hoping for it, he would not accept a pardon. He considers a pardon from somebody who has acted so corruptly as president to be something he would never accept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So what is your take on what you just heard there from Lanny Davis?
HONIG: I take Lanny Davis at his word on that. I don`t think there`s any chance Michael Cohen receives a pardon. And even if he did, it wouldn`t necessarily shut him up. But Manafort, I think we need to watch very carefully for. He`s a 69-year-old man. He`s now been convicted of eight Federal crimes. He`s looking at time in prison that could be all or much of the rest of his natural life. So he doesn`t have too many outs left anymore.
One of them is cooperating, but that`s a big river to cross, and the other one is a pardon. I think what the president may be doing, as Maya pointed out, is setting the stage for a pardon. Because if the president pardoned Manafort, I think we would all see what`s going on. He wants to keep him quiet. He wants to keep him from cooperating and take away that other option.
But by saying, "Oh, he`s been so unfairly prosecuted" enables the president to say, "No, this is what pardons are for. I believe it was an unjust prosecution. Maybe you disagree with me, but I`m the president, and I can do that if I want."
MOHYELDIN: And we`ll see if that happens after the trial in D.C. Congressman before I let you go, I got to ask you about the politics of what this means going into the midterm elections in the spring. You said the Democrats have no interest in going down the road to impeachment. Is that still the case? Should Democrats and Members of Congress consider impeachment against this president?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think House Democrats are going to remain focused on our people`s agenda which means a pocketful of issues. We`re going to drive down the costs of healthcare that are spiraling out of control because of Republican recklessness. We`re going to increase the pay of the American worker. We`ve got wage stagnation, underemployment challenges throughout America, and we`re going to focus on cleaning up corruption.
Now, we fought for the recusal of Jeff Sessions. He recused himself. We fought for the appointment of a special counsel, Bob Mueller was appointed. So now we just have to let Mueller be Mueller, do his work, finish the investigation, report to the American people, report to Congress, report to Department of Justice. And then at that point, we`ll let the chips fall where they may.
MOHYELDIN: All right. Congressman, appreciate it. Thank you very much for joining us. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. As you stick around, Maya and Elie, please. We`ve got a lot more to discuss this hour.
A lot more head including former Trump aide and Michael Cohen associate Sam Nunberg who actually warned, believe it or not, that Cohen could be in trouble.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG: I worry about Michael. And I`m not going to say Michael is going to lie. I worry about Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Sam Nunberg is back tonight live right here on THE BEAT. Plus, the emerging dangers for Trump, new details about what the president knew and when he actually knew it. Also, is Trump`s legal team now dangling a pardon for Paul Manafort? What happens if that happens?
I`m going to talk to a Senate Democrat calling for action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, CONNECTICUT: We should talk about all the remedies, every single remedy, including indictment of the president, should be on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Ari Melber. And you`re watching THE BEAT right here on MSNBC.
MOHYELDIN: Tonight, new details about what was really happening on the Trump campaign while Michael Cohen was admittedly trying to influence the election back in the summer of 2016, then-candidate Trump fighting tooth and nail to get the Republican nomination. But at the same time, Cohen was working on a payment to "Suppress" Trump affair allegations from woman number one, who matches the description of former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
Then in October of 2016, the month before the election, you may recall that infamous access Hollywood tape, it was released.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want?
TRUMP: Grab them by the [ bleep ], do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So then in the days immediately after that, Cohen was negotiating $130,000 payment to woman number two, who matches the description of Stormy Daniels. Now to February 2017, Trump is president for nearly a month and already he`s been hit with his first major crisis. His National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with Russian officials.
The day after his ouster, as Trump was dealing with the political backlash of that, Michael Cohen was actually getting reimbursed for his Stormy Daniels payment. And finally, April of this year, the FBI raiding Michael Cohen`s offices for information on those two payments, Trump calling it an attack on our country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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, it`s an attack on our country in a true sense. It`s an attack on what we all stand for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Joining me now is Former Federal Prosecutor Kathy Fleming and Criminal Defense Attorney Ambrosio Rodriguez. Great to have both of you with us.
Kathy, let me begin with you because yesterday obviously some are calling President Trump an unindicted co-conspirator right now. What does that mean for the president going forward since he can`t be indicted?
KATHY FLEMING, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, actually he can be indicted. What he can`t be is tried while he`s a sitting president. There could be charges brought against him. I would hope that everybody if they brought charges, would keep them in a sealed indict that I don`t think anybody thinks it would be good if we had pending charges against the president who is actually sitting in the United States. It will be disruptive no matter who it is, no matter what part of the aisle you`re on, no matter what you think of our sitting president. But the fact is, he could have charges brought against him but just can`t be tried.
MOHYELDIN: OK. And has that been tested in the Supreme Court and upheld?
FLEMING: I don`t think so. I don`t think we have a historical president for anyone actually being tried. Generally, the only way that high crimes and misdemeanors have been dealt with in our history has been through the avenue of impeachment. And, of course, we had Richard Nixon who resigned before anything happened. Then we had Gerald Ford who pardoned him respectively before any charges ever could be brought if they were going to have been brought.
MOHYELDIN: OK. So let me play you this sound bite from Michael Cohen, what he had to say about President Trump as he negotiated that deal to silence Karen McDougal. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN: He`s more to us than just a boss. He`s a mentor. He`s a sage. He`s like family. And when you have a problem, Mr. Trump feels like he has a problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So we now heard, Ambrosio, the president has distanced himself from Michael Cohen. He`s called him a bad lawyer. Is Trump`s best defense here to paint Cohen as a liar? What is the best strategy for President Trump?
AMBROSIO RODRIGUEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. He really only has one strategy, which is to dirty up the witness against him because that`s who Michael Cohen is now after what he said in court yesterday. And I want to be very clear with the viewers, in Federal Court, a judge takes an allocution or a factual basis, which is done under oath. This is a very big deal what Michael Cohen said yesterday,
So the only avenue that Trump has is to attack Cohen. I don`t really think it will be successful given the fact that there are tapes of the conversation involving the payouts. So President Trump is limited in his defense, and I think this is really going to become more of a public relations issue. And to be quite honest, Giuliani is not doing a very good job defending him but Dershowitz is.
MOHYELDIN: All right. So you talked about Giuliani. Interesting you bring that point up because I want to play you this contradicting statements from both Trump and Giuliani on the Stormy Daniels payments. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels? Do you know where he got the money to make that payment?
TRUMP: No, I don`t know.
RUDY GIULIANI: It`s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation. So --
SEAN HANNITY: They funneled it through the law firm.
GIULIANI: Funneled through a law firm and the president repaid it.
HANNITY: Oh, I didn`t know he did?
GIULIANI: Yes, the president reimbursed that over a period of several months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So Kathy, how do you make sense of that when you have the president`s lawyer saying he knew about the payments, the payments came and as he said, funneled through a law firm. And then you had on the left as we played you there aboard Air Force One the president saying he didn`t know about the payments and that the payments didn`t come from him?
FLEMING: It`s hard to reconcile the two of those. I don`t think it`s a good idea and I don`t think any lawyer thinks it`s a good idea to be trying cases in the press, and particularly when you don`t know what the facts are, or you can`t keep the facts straight. I don`t think it`s advised or well advised for either of them to be talking without knowing what the facts are, and they should figure them out.
With the allocution yesterday and the documents that came out, we`ve learned that what happened was the repayment was made, and it was disguised or it was labeled "Legal Fees", and it was repaid in $35,000 a month to the law firm of Michael Cohen, "For legal fees" which is another problem because they weren`t legal fees, and it was an amount that was higher than was originally given to make the payment for keeping her quiet. So both of them are wrong.
MOHYELDIN: Sp to that point, Ambrosio, the defense here, if you were trying to put a defense strategy that is trying to reconcile what Giuliani said, with what the president said, is that even possible, what is your take, final thoughts on this?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, look, the only defense that Trump had on this was that the money wasn`t used to pay off both of these women for political reasons, but it was in order to protect his family, that is, he didn`t want the First Lady, and his children, to know that he had two of these affairs, but he`s not willing to say that. So he has maintained, and he even said it today on "Fox & Friends," that this was about politics.
It doesn`t matter whether it came from personal funds or campaign funds. It is still a violation of the law to use the money for political reasons in a campaign. And that`s the real problem the president has going forward.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. I think a lot of legal assessment is that it is only going to get worse going forward from all the various accounts that we`re getting. Kathy Fleming, Ambrosio Rodriguez, thank you both very much.
I want to turn now to former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg, a friend of Michael Cohen. Sam, thank you very much for being here. We`ve got a lot to cover with you but quickly, I want to start off by your reaction to what we`ve seen in terms of Michael Cohen`s admission that the president aide knew about these payments and, in fact, directed him to make the payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, woman one and number two.
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: It was quite clear that Michael the minute he hired Lanny Davis, "Trump Associates" figured that he was going to flip if you want to call it flip on the president. With this said, I`d be interested to see if he is saying that now President Trump directed him to make these specific payments at that time. What the president seems to me that he has said on "Fox & Friends" from my understanding from watching it is that he didn`t know about these specific ones until after the election.
That is possible because this was put under Michael`s valuing. Michael had full authority to do whatever he wanted on this. And the fact that the president didn`t give him that money from Trump Org at that time. Remember, one of the charges Michael pled guilty to was that he filed false paperwork to get that $130,000. And if the president wanted it to be paid, the president would have paid it himself and would have had Michael handle it. So, therefore, I`d like to know specifically what the president knew and when he knew it. I believe the president when he says he didn`t know it until after the election.
MOHYELDIN: All right. But there`s tape of that, you know.
NUNBERG: No, there`s tape of him discussing the issue with - there`s tape of him discussing the issue with McdDugal.
NUNBERG: The McDougal one. I`m talking about the Stormy Daniels.
MOHYELDIN: I mean the fundamental question is did the president know that these payments were being made, and Michael Cohen`s recording suggested he knew about these payments being made.
NUNBERG: We certainly knew that there were going to be payments. Excuse me, I didn`t know if there were going to be payments. We certainly knew there would be issues like this and Michael would be handling these issues. The recording, when I listened to the recording, it`s about David Pecker and it`s about the Karen McDougal issue.
So, therefore, he definitely knew about that one but I don`t necessarily think he knew about the Stormy Daniels. The irony of it is that I don`t think they should have paid off Stormy Daniels from a political point of view because it wouldn`t have cost them a vote. If this had come out that they were negotiating, it would have been worse than actually paying them up.
MOHYELDIN: Rudy Giuliani seems to disagree with you because he said in October, can you imagine what would have happened if this would have come out in the middle of October a few weeks before the election. So his assessment was that this had a lot of political implications.
NUNBERG: Yes, that`s their argument. My argument would be that for reasons I don`t believe that -- once again, Michael pled guilty to this. He wasn`t found guilty by a Jury. This is the first time anyone has pled guilty, to my understanding, because we had the Edwards case but to my understanding, this is the first time I think that the argument is, I think that things like this may have happened in the past. Michael handled things like this. And when you look at the actual statue, you can argue that this was dual-use or this could be done outside of the campaign.
MOHYELDIN: OK, we`re scratching the surface here. We`re going to take a quick 30-second break, stick around. We`re going to talk to you a lot more.
MOHYELDIN: All right. We`re back along with Sam Nunberg. We`ve also got Maya Wiley back with us. Sam, I know you were concerned about Michael Cohen, what are your thoughts about his legal situation right now?
NUNBERG: Well, I`m very sad and I sympathize -- let me say I don`t believe Michael when it comes to these issues. I don`t necessarily the fact --
MOHYELDIN: Do you believe him?
NUNBERG: Do I believe that he`s saying --
MOHYELDIN: What he said yesterday in terms of his guilty plea about the president --
NUNBERG: I believe that the president did not know at that time about Stormy Daniels, which is why Trump Org did not pay for it. I don`t think - I think if Michael wanted to - I think if the president wanted to take care of an issue like this, he would have taken care of it with Trump Org money. He had the money to do it.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. But you just suggested that Michael Cohen did these types of things for the president --
NUNBERG: That`s exactly --
MOHYELDIN: How do you reconcile those two things if the president expected Michael Cohen to take care of these situations as his fixer?
NUNBERG: Because Michael would take care -- what I`m saying is that the president had said he didn`t learn about this specific payment until after the election. I believe he didn`t know about the payment until after the election based on the fact that Michael took out the money himself to pay it. He could have gone to the CFO who`s already been subpoenaed, he could have talked to Allen Weisselberg about the money.
So, therefore, I don`t believe what Michael specifically -- I want to hear the specifics about what they`re exactly saying because all I have is what the reporting is and I read the transcript. It`s kind of vague to me if he`s saying that he directly spoke to the president about Stormy Daniels.
MOHYELDIN: When was the last time, really quickly, that you spoke to Michael Cohen?
NUNBERG: So I used to run into Michael when he was staying at the hotel because Steve Bannon stays in the same hotel. And Michael had texted me a couple weeks ago. I was looking for it yesterday. He texted me a couple weeks ago because I said if we can communicate lawyer to lawyer, he asked for my attorney`s contact information, I gave it and my attorney have never heard from his attorney.
MOHYELDIN: Maya, did you want to weigh in on what he was saying about the timeline of the president knowing and not knowing?
WILEY: Well, first of all, I would say, obviously, Sam, you know Michael Cohen and I do not, and obviously you have more of a window into the operations of Donald Trump so I don`t dispute that. I think from a legal standpoint, there is so much evidence, both direct and circumstantial, that suggests, number one, the president at that point in the election, the issue of his sexual conduct was an issue in the election. And therefore, it seems, when you have someone say and you have a conversation where the president is directly talking about cash versus a non-cash transaction, even if it`s in one of the other counts that Michael Cohen pled guilty to, it suggests a pattern of behavior that is consistent with what Michael Cohen pled guilty to.
And I think my other question would be, why plead guilty if, in fact, to that -- and implicate the president if he didn`t have actual -- if he wasn`t actually directed by the president? It doesn`t help him one way or the other. He`s already guilty of the count. He doesn`t benefit by implicating the president when he`s already pled guilty to his own campaign finance violation.
MOHYELDIN: What do you make of the fact that Lanny Davis has been saying he has something to offer Bob Mueller, and even suggested it had to do with the hack and the attack on our democracy?
NUNBERG: Look, when I was in -- when I was in the special counsel, when -- excuse me, grand jury testimony, I was in there for around five to six hours. And there could have -- a lot of it had to do specifically with Michael. And the fact that they then -- they put out Michael`s case to the southern district meant to me that they didn`t really believe that Michael had anything of value for them. That`s my -- perhaps the professor has a different interpretation, or has a different idea, but I thought that in light of that, in light of the amount of time, I mean they spent more time with me on Michael than I -- than on Roger Stone even.
MOHYELDIN: What were they probing you about Michael? What were they trying to get at about Michael?
NUNBERG: Michael`s role in the campaign, what Michael`s type of role was going to be and other issues I just -- you know, business type issues which just general things I had seen around Trump -- which I don`t want to get into. It`s nothing guilty or criminal. At least I don`t believe it is.
MOHYELDIN: To that point, do you think -- you used the word Michael Cohen has flipped, is that your assessment of what Michael Cohen is doing now, that he has flipped on the president? Do you see it as that?
NUNBERG: We all thought this once he hired Lanny Davis. I mean I heard from obviously mutual friends and mutual reporters that he talked to he was very upset with the president. Once again, I like Michael personally, I understand -- I sympathize with him. The minute he retained Lanny Davis, for somebody like me that was, well, that`s a little inappropriate, to me, and I see where you`re going with this. And when you have -- you know, Lanny had said this today, Lanny basically wants him to be the John Dean to impeach this president. I don`t believe whatever Michael has is of that type of value.
MOHYELDIN: Do you think that it was wrong for Michael Cohen to not trust the president and tape the president and some of the conversations they were having?
NUNBERG: You know, my idea -- first of all, yes. Number two, I can tell you that I don`t believe Michael did that tape because Michael wanted to protect himself, or ever envisioned he would be prosecuted by a special counsel. One, he envisioned he would be in the White House.
I think that if he did those tapes, as opposed to the phone calls, let`s say you have an iPhone, and you just take every phone call automatically, I don`t have one of those. But if you walk in and you`re essentially wearing a wire, to somebody where you`ve professed you would take a bullet for him, you know, there was internal politics, he always the one that was closest to the president, he was the most loyal one, this or that, you know, maybe he really wasn`t and that was very, very surprising to me.
MOHYELDIN: There`s obviously a lot of speculation as to whether the president has also been loyal to his own associates and stuff, so I can --
NUNBERG: I`m not arguing that the president --
NUNBERG: Listen, I`ve said the president did not treat me well.
NUNBERG: OK, with that -- water under the bridge for me was a long time ago. But with that said I understand. And that`s when I say I sympathize with how Michael feels. I sympathize to the fact that Michael did not get a job in the White House. And by the way, wouldn`t it have been better add they just given Michael a job in the EOB? He didn`t have to be in the West Wing. I think things would have been different had they done that.
With that said, the fact that he was taping him, I think he was taping him, so that let`s say you can have a meeting with him one day, you could be off sight and he could play to show you that he was important and had this relationship with the president and would show you off the record. Little do you know, he could be taping you too with one of the other phones.
MOHYELDIN: Let me get your reaction to the fact that Michael Cohen was the subject of his interview with the grand jury for a substantial amount of time, the agreement yesterday that Michael Cohen signed does not necessarily exclude him from cooperating with Robert Mueller, in fact, that`s still very much --
WILEY: Very much on the table.
MOHYELDIN: Very much so on the table and what a lot of legal analysts have expected to happen or are expected to happen for what happened yesterday.
WILEY: Lanny Davis, I think basically said it would happen today.
MOHYELDIN: He suggested. Yes, exactly. So how significant is Michael Cohen to the Mueller investigation?
WILEY: I think if you have someone who has the length of history working for Donald Trump in multiple capacities, right, not just as an attorney, but also connected to some of his business transactions, including working on trying to get Trump Moscow, right, the Trump hotel in Moscow. There`s no question that that`s going to relate to the Mueller investigation. That`s also clear that he`s going -- all the documents that he had, not just the tapes, but also documents, e-mail exchanges are all going to be significantly important into trying to understand what the communications relationships were between Donald Trump, close associates, business transactions, and even the possibility of whether there was (INAUDIBLE) on Donald Trump.
So I think there`s any question that Michael Cohen was always going to be a relevant, if not someone who actually committed crimes, somebody who might be a fact witness or have documents or evidence.
I think the fact that Michael Cohen was being asked, you were being asked questions about Michael Cohen, I mean I think you previously have talked about how many questions you got about Roger Stone, and I think there`s no question we might see indictments on Roger Stone coming down the pike.
But even if Michael Cohen hadn`t committed any crimes, I think he would have been someone who was significant to the Mueller investigation to understand what he knew and what he had. What we see here is Mueller kicked it out to the southern district because it made sense. Michael Cohen was in New York. The crimes related to this were -- happened in New York. It is part of the justice department. And they have the ability to actually leverage that evidence in the Mueller investigation.
MOHYELDIN: So let me ask you, you know the mind-set of the president, you`re advising when working closely with Steve Bannon who also knows the mind-set of the president.
MOHYELDIN: There`s reporting that there`s great concern inside the White House after the developments yesterday involving Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, what is your assessment of the president`s mind-set following these two developments?
NUNBERG: Well, I don`t know the president`s current mind-set. What I would say is this, I think that the minute -- I think that this was something we expect, the people that are going to fight the impeachment. You know, it`s funny, because I saw you interview Congressman Jeffries, he doesn`t want to talk about impeachment. But trust me, they`ll be impeaching him if they have the majority after 2018.
And I think we expect -- this was something that we expected in terms of Michael. I was surprised. I did not expect that Michael committed these other crimes. These were a shock to me that he did things like this. You know, people had said to me, oh, come on, you knew Michael was corrupt. I never knew Michael was corrupt. I thought he was, you know, wealthy, successful businessman.
In terms of Manafort, I would be quite surprised. I think the consensus is we would be surprised if he turned government -- to a government witness. But it is what it is. Look, they went -- the point is, is that the minute Rick Gates cooperated they threatened him with 100 years. I mean they couldn`t mention him in their closing argument.
MOHYELDIN: Really quickly, should the president pardon Paul Manafort? Do you think --
NUNBERG: He should not pardon anyone, and he should not fire Mueller or Sessions, perhaps Rosenstein on subpoena. He should not pardon anyone until after this investigation is over.
MOHYELDIN: But you`re not ruling it out as a suggestion to the president.
NUNBERG: He should not pardon anyone until after the investigation is completely over. Until the report is submitted to Congress.
MOHYELDIN: All right. Sam Nunberg, appreciate your time.
NUNBERG: Thank you.
MOHYELDIN: Thanks very much for coming on THE BEAT. Appreciate it. And Maya, thank you very much.
Ahead, President Trump Saying he feels bad for Paul Manafort. Is he thinking about a pardon? Big news on that today.
Plus, I`m going to talk to a Democratic senator who says indictment should be on the table for Trump in the wake of the explosive Cohen news. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: The president now planning on or intent on pardoning Paul Manafort?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The Manafort case doesn`t have anything to do with the president. Doesn`t have anything to do with his campaign. Doesn`t have anything to do with the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: So you`re hearing there, the White House today dodging the questions swirling around Donald Trump`s former campaign chair, convicted of eight charges yesterday. So the question today is, will Paul Manafort get a pardon? Today, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani saying Trump isn`t considering a pardon for Manafort, quote, at this time. Trump`s former legal spokesman says if Trump wants to pardon Manafort, he`ll wait until after his second trial scheduled for September.
Manafort`s own attorney saying his client is evaluating all of his options. Manafort currently facing a maximum sentence of 80 years. And Trump himself praising Manafort this morning as a, quote, brave man. With me now is Margaret Carlson, columnist for "The Daily Beast." And back with us once again, Elie Honig, great to have both of you with us.
Margaret, let begin with you, does it look like from the tone of the tweets, from the messaging coming out of the White House, that the President Trump is thinking about pardoning Paul Manafort?
MARGARET CARLSON, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: You barely have to parse the statements to see that, yes, a pardon is on the table at the top of his mind. I mean, Giuliani said everything but at this point in time. Which is Watergate language. He`s a brave -- Manafort`s a brave man, a good man, he didn`t break, like that awful Michael Cohen to get a deal.
And Trump played lawyer on Twitter all day. A crime is not a crime. He says, you know, if you get convicted on 10 counts, eight counts, but not 10 counts, then you`re not really guilty. And, you know, by contrast, Michael Cohen is dead to him. There`s no pardon coming for that guy.
MOHYELDIN: So to that point, Margaret, politically speaking, does it make sense for the president to pardon somebody like Paul Manafort? You already have Republican -- you have Republican Senator Susan Collins -- here`s the graphic of them, Susan Collins, John Cornyn of Texas, Lindsey Graham,, all Republicans, all senators, to so some extent saying it`s a misuse of power would be a mistake, it would be seen as a bridge too far for the president to pardon Paul Manafort. Politically speaking does it make sense for the president to do so?
CARLSON: Well, these senators fold like cheap umbrellas. You know, just yesterday Senator Cornyn was saying, I don`t know what the implication of this is, it doesn`t involve Russia and not that bad. There`s no red line they won`t cross. So their threats are not to be taken seriously. And sadly, to have the pardon in Trump`s hand is too bad because it is absolute.
MOHYELDIN: So Elie, the president may pardon him on federal crimes, it doesn`t mean Paul Manafort is off the hook on some state crimes we know that because the New York attorney general has been saying that if, in fact, you know, he -- Paul Manafort is pardoned, he still faces potential legal challenges here in New York for his involvement with the Trump Organization, the Trump foundation and a whole other set of issues.
ELIE HONIG, FMR FEDERAL PROSECUTOR SOUTHERN DISTRCT OF NEW YORK: Pardon obviously is a powerful exercise of constitutional power, but it cannot Trump the state system, no pun intended.
HONIG: The pardon only is federal. You know, governors can issue state- level pardons. But no, even if the president was to pardon Paul Manafort he would still be in legal jeopardy from the New York attorney general or any state attorney general.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: And Margaret, finally, if it`s not the pardon, what is the line for Republicans on this particular issue?
CARLSON: You mean what they`re going to say when a microphone is stuck in their faces?
MOHYELDIN: Yes, I mean, to what extent will Republicans stand behind this president if pardoning Paul Manafort does not draw the ire of Republican senators and Republican congressmen, what would?
CARLSON: Well, I predict that they say this -- you know, Paul Manafort, you know, was not close to the campaign. He -- he had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. It`s not germane to Mueller. And therefore tax fraud and bank fraud and, you know, every other, you know, moral decrepitude that Manafort practiced doesn`t matter.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. We heard the president made the argument that these charges were all about things Manafort did before the campaign. So he`s trying to put a little bit.
CARLSON: And when he did it yesterday, you know, he gave a new pronunciation to collusion. There`s no collusion. He said it 10 times in Ohio.
MOHYELDIN: It is involved pronunciation. All right. Margaret Carlson, Elie Holig, great to have both of you with us. Thank you guys.
And coming up, Senator Richard Blumenthal who says everything has to be on the table, including a possible indictment for the president. He`s going to join us live. Next.
MOHYELDIN: All right. so now to the fast developing democratic strategy in the wake of the bombshell news about Michael Cohen. In am moment I`m going to talk to live to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, member of the Judiciary Committee. But Democrats today making a direct specific connection between Michael Cohen`s guilty plea and Donald Trump`s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: What I want right now is for us to -- when it comes to Kavanaugh, to wait until this Mueller probe is done before we move forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will be casting my appointment with Judge Kavanaugh.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D), NEW YORK, MINORITY LEADER: Michael Cohen`s implication to the president in a federal crime, makes the danger of Brett Kavanaugh`s nomination to the Supreme Court abundantly clear. It`s a game changer.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We should talk about all of the remedies. Every single remedy including indictment of the president should be on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right. Strong words there you heard at the very end from Senator Richard Blumenthal. He joins us live now from Washington. Senator, good evening to you. Thank you very much for joining us.
BLUMENTHAL: Good evening to you, Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: Let me begin with what you said there at the very end. You said that everything should be on the table when it comes to Trump including indictments, what does that mean?
BLUMENTHAL: That means that the president of the United States is potentially indictable. Right now, he has been named as an unindicted co- conspirator which means that there is credible and significant evidence against him in connection with the crimes committed by Michael Cohen in those last two, seven and eight counts.
And make no mistake, if he were anything except president of the United States, he would be under indictment right now. There is no constitutional bar to the president of the United States being indicted. There is a serious legal question about whether it can be done and I would be in favor of postponing the trial and perhaps current (ph) proceedings until he is done serving as president. But indictment should be on the table as a potential remedy. And we need to allow the special counsel to proceed without political interference or intimidation so that he can follow the facts and determine whether an indictment is appropriate.
MOHYELDIN: So senator, help me connect the dots now between Michael Cohen and what happened yesterday in his guilty plea and then the president`s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, and the hearings. Why are Democrats drawing a line between those two events?
BLUMENTHAL: The president of the United States now, as an unindicted co- conspirator potentially subject to criminal penalties and proceedings himself would be appointing a justice who will sit on his own criminal case. People don`t get to appoint the judges who sit on their cases.
Number two, this president by appointing a supreme court justice for life highest court in the land will be tainting and staining that court for as long as Brett Kavanaugh serves on it. And third, Brett Kavanaugh`s own views of presidential power are extreme. He has said in effect the president cannot be forced to comply with a subpoena. That is a momentous and important view of the law. My hope is these bombshell convictions should shake my Republican colleagues out of their moral stupor?
MOHYELDIN: Are they, senator? I want to get to that point. Are Republicans expressing the same reservations that you have? Same concerns that you have that just highlighted? Because the Republicans that weighed in on this today are saying no. In fact, they are going to go ahead with Kavanaugh`s hearings on September 4th.
BLUMENTHAL: It should be postponed. But equally important my Republican colleagues need to stand up and break the purposeful inertia and the moral stupor that so far they have demonstrated repeatedly and if they fail to show more backbone and moral fiber, they will be punished this November the American people in the election to come.
MOHYELDIN: All right. Senator, Richard Blumenthal, we`re going to have leave on that. I`m sure we`re going to have this conversation going forward in the days and weeks ahead. Thank you very much senator. We`ll be right back.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MOHYELDIN: All right. That does it for me. I will see you back here tomorrow starting at 5:00 a.m. Eastern. I will be right back here on THE BEAT tomorrow night. Of course, you can catch me any time on social media.
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