Show: THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER Date: November 29, 2018 Guest: David Corn, Donny Deutsch, Richard Blumenthal, Jay Goldberg, Seth Waxman
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Meanwhile, "THE BEAT WITH ARI MELBER" starts right now. Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck.
And we begin, as you can imagine, with breaking news tonight, Bob Mueller gets Michael Cohen to plead guilty again.
Tonight, Washington on edge right now. You can see the building behind me. A lot of people thinking about what Bob Mueller is doing, securing another guilty plea from a Trump confidant and this time, it`s Russia related. We have all the facts for you. Michael Cohen pleading guilty over lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.
This is the first public evidence ever that someone inside the Trump Organization was actively doing outreach to the Kremlin in the middle of the 2016 campaign. And on top of that, he`s admitting to lying about it. You`re looking at the footage there of him leaving court. Mueller revealing that Cohen lied about basically three things, Trump`s involvement in this Moscow project, plans for Cohen, and maybe even Trump to travel to Russia for it, and critically, outreach to the Kremlin for help on the project.
Cohen pointing the finger directly to Trump in court today saying Donald Trump, referred to in this document as individual one was the person involved and saying that Cohen lied to Congress in order to match Trump`s political messaging as well as out of loyalty. So Cohen`s first lie, he talked with Trump about Moscow more than he claimed. And he briefed Trump`s family members, we`ll get to that tonight, within the Trump Organization about this very project in Russia.
Cohen working on Russia projects, Donald Trump knew it. Even though, of course, you may recall the candidate and the president said over and over that he didn`t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to do with Russia, folks. OK. I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia because we`ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia.
I have nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever. I don`t have property in Russia. I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don`t have any deals in Russia. I promise you, I never made, I don`t have any deals with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Cohen also says he lied about how long he was working on this project. That`s important because it gives you a flavor for how serious it was, that it was going on until June 2016, months longer than he claimed to Congress and that Trump denied that a month later. This was right as he was also asking Russia for help hacking Hillary. >> (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I mean, I will tell you right now, zero. I have nothing to do with Russia. Yes, I built an unbelievable company. But if you look there, you`ll see there`s nothing in Russia. Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And that`s not all. Cohen also admitting today that he lied when he said that he never talked about traveling to Russia for the project. He admits that he did talk about that and he did communicate about it and he did work on getting Donald Trump to go.
Mueller also has the evidence. These are the e-mails about Cohen plotting to visit Russia before the RNC Convention and writing that Trump could go "Once he becomes the nominee". Cohen also admitting he got help from the highest levels of the Kremlin, corresponding, well get this, Vladimir Putin`s top aide and press secretary and following up with his personal assistant and then talking to her over the phone for about 20 minutes regarding the project.
So Cohen was lying about all of these things. Now the reason why he says was to minimize links between the Moscow project and Trump. Now I want to be clear before I go any further. We have some great experts in a moment. What you just saw there is more than we usually get from Bob Mueller. He is not just saying Cohen lied or giving you the barebones details of a crime. He is also getting into Michael Cohen`s motive, covering up the depth of these Trump links to the Kremlin.
Now, what is Trump`s response today? Before I show it to you, I want to tell you what you`re about to see is false. Because Cohen already confessed to committing crimes for Trump in August. You certainly remember all the Stormy Daniels stuff. So they are linked by that. Those are crimes that Michael Cohen says he committed for Trump, including paying off women who alleged relationships with Trump.
But watch how Donald Trump falsely tries to deny this today and claims that the only reason Cohen is giving up the goods to Mueller today on Russia is because Cohen committed crimes Trump claims were unrelated to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Michael Cohen, what he`s doing is he was convicted I guess, you`ll have to put it into legal terms but he was convicted with a fairly long- term sentence on things totally unrelated to the Trump Organization.
LESTER HOLT, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump`s former private lawyer, Michael Cohen, accepted his own fate in a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to serious crimes, including paying hush money to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet before the election. And Cohen says it was at the direction of then- candidate Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So Cohen already confessed to those crimes for the campaign. Today, he admits he tried to work with the Kremlin during the campaign. So let`s just think about where we are. These are new questions that Bob Mueller has very deliberately, very strategically put out in public. Who else did Cohen work with? Which Russians knew about all this and were they working together on other things like potentially a conspiracy to hack e- mails inside the United States?
We know Bob Mueller doesn`t leak but he does speak through his actions and through these types of court filings. And he is speaking loudly today, signing this himself, and he`s moving forward after getting these answers from Trump down on paper on the record. I could tell you that includes a question about, yes, the Trump Tower-Moscow deal.
And all of this is happening at the same time the Trump`s campaign chair was busted for lying to Mueller this week and the feds and feeding that information back to Trump and the same time that a key Roger Stone tipster admitted right here on THE BEAT that he worked with Roger Stone to lie to Congress and lie about the source of his tip on the Podesta e-mails. And it comes as "The Washington Post" reports that Roger Stone and Trump were talking late into the night, right in the heat of the campaign when this was all going down.
This isn`t happening in isolation tonight. And the charges against Cohen today, they are a floor, not a ceiling. And that`s not all. As Maya Wiley and David Corn and myself were getting ready to broadcast for you tonight, this story crossing the wires in our hour. "BuzzFeed" reporting that the Trump Organization explored a plan to hand over a $50 million penthouse in the Trump Tower Moscow building to Vladimir Putin. That also breaking right now.
Let`s get right to it. David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones. Maya Wiley, a former Counsel to the Mayor of New York and a civil prosecutor in the Southern District of New York where we saw all that action today with Michael Cohen and another Former Federal Prosecutor Joyce Vance.
Maya, what does it mean?
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: So when there`s smoke, there`s not necessarily fire. But here, there are flames licking at Donald Trump`s feet and he needs to start jumping. Those flames were quite clear because this is the first time we have publicly a direct link between Donald Trump, a motive for a conspiracy to defraud the United States, that`s financial potentially. Certainly looks like it is there and goes right into June 2016, and clear knowledge, direct involvement of Donald Trump in trying to organize the business transaction.
Remember and backtrack, Felix Sodder, who Michael Cohen had an e-mail exchange within the spring of 2016 saying we can get this meeting and we can engineer our guy getting elected. So when you put all of that together, there`s a lot of fire.
MELBER: A lot of fire. And David Corn, we talked a lot about the dossier and what in it has overlapped with evidence. I`m interested in the evidence, not in the speculation. Here is the Mueller court documents that are brand new that say, "Minimizing links was the goal. Minimizing links for the Moscow project and Trump." That`s why Cohen was lying. That`s the crime he confessed to today.
And here`s the Steele dossier. Viewers can take it in themselves. "Cohen heavily engaged in cover-up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of Trump`s relationship with Russia being exposed."
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: There`s that. And let`s just take a step back for one second because I think the bottom line here, the most important thing is that when Donald Trump was running for president as the America first candidate, he, his company, his lawyer were secretly interacting with Putin`s own office to try to get help from Putin`s office so that he could go ahead with a deal in Russia to make money for Donald Trump.
He was saying to Putin`s office, help me make money in Russia while he is running for president, and not telling the public that this deal is underway. This is the most significant political conflict of interest I think in modern history. That`s why this is all being covered up.
And you have to think, if you`re Putin, you know this is happening. Here, Trump is coming to you and asking for a favor while running for president. What do you think that`s going to mean to Putin as at the same time he is beginning and he`s planning this operation to attack the U.S. election? It`s Trump wants to do business with me.
So if I go ahead with this plan, he probably won`t mind. So that`s the big thing here. It is the deferring of the American voter underway. And in the Steele dossier, the first memo he wrote in June of 2016, he said that one way that the Russians have been trying to cultivate and co-op Donald Trump is by dangling business opportunities before him. This meets that allegation to a T.
MELBER: And you`re saying even if there may not be crimes that implicate Donald Trump here, this is a terrible thing for America if you have a candidate trying to do this double-dealing.
CORN: Put aside anything else in the Trump-Russia scandal. This should be a gigantic scandal on its own. I always thought it was one of the under- covered elements of the whole scandal that Trump would tell the American public I`m for you while telling Putin I need your help.
CORN: I mean that to me, there should be 27 congressional hearings on this alone. And now we have the details in Trump as we have been seeing all day can`t get away with his denials on this and caught.
MELBER: And Joyce, that brings us to this story that I mentioned here crossing the wires. Now, you`re doing really live legal analysis because I know it broke while you were seated in our chair here. But I`m going to read from "BuzzFeed". NBC News hasn`t confirmed this.
Donald Trump`s company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow if it were built to Putin as they tried to negotiate that development during the 2016 campaign. "BuzzFeed" says they have four sources, including the originator, the plan, and they say two U.S. law enforcement officials tell "BuzzFeed" that Cohen discussed the idea with a Putin representative. They also note in their reporting that they cannot ascertain whether Donald Trump knew about that.
Joyce, your view of that hot story as well as everything else that`s been said.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, this is a real problem that we have going forward and it exists across this entire spectrum of financial dealings that Trump had with the Russians. The problem is if Trump was lying and if Michael Cohen was lying when they were talking to the American people, when they were talking to Congress, Moscow knew that they were lying, and that made them vulnerable to blackmail.
We don`t know what happened. We don`t know if that ever came to fruition, but our country was vulnerable because the president, as David says, failed to disclose this entire host of conflicts. That`s exactly why presidents give up their tax returns, why there`s vetting, why we have an emoluments clause. This is exactly what the founding fathers were afraid of, a president who is compromised and compromised the country.
This new story though is really pretty remarkable. It may be fine, you know, to build something in Russia and give somebody a condominium. It doesn`t smell very good on the surface. It`s just breaking now. We need to see how far in progress this was, how much Trump knew, and find out where all of the tentacles on this new reporting go because it could be a real bombshell.
WILEY: I agree. But we need to know more. It could be a bombshell but this isn`t the only thing that appears to be a quid pro quo or a tit for tat. I mean remember that Michael Flynn pled guilty to lying about talking to Russians about sanctions during the transition. Did Michael Flynn know that Donald Trump was in the process of trying to get a Trump-Moscow deal?
There are a lot of conversations that we need to know about, that Robert Mueller probably does know about. Because remember, he is talking to all of these folks. And we have the Southern District investigating the Trump Organization. So a lot of this may come to light through multiple sources.
MELBER: Joyce, I want to ask you given that you have held posts, not unlike Andrew Wiseman and a lot of these prosecutors that have made headway under Mueller, how do you interpret the timing and the way that Mueller is moving and using these different individuals, Cohen, Corsi who as we reported last night was basically given the plea deal that includes his false statement charge, and Stone who very clearly as we`ve reported is a target.
VANCE: This really looks like the prosecutorial team is engaging in a little bit of a pincer`s movement. They`re working the Roger Stone angle, which includes Corsi and others, trying to figure out if there was a direct connection through Roger Stone between the campaign and Moscow as the e- mails were hacked and released from the DNC.
And that`s really interesting because that would be direct evidence of a conspiracy to collude in defrauding the United States if the evidence were to go that direction. Now we see simultaneously though that Mueller is really going, in fact, exactly the direction that Trump has always said would be a red line, into his financial transactions. We`re looking at a lot of information that I think we weren`t sure until Michael Cohen pled this morning could possibly be on the table.
And so it looks like Mueller has circled the wagons. His prosecutors are able to focus on multiple sorts of cases at the same time. I suspect that individual number one is having a bad night tonight.
MENENDEZ: Individual number one indeed. My special thanks to Joyce and David. Maya, stay with me because I am going to bring in Donny Deutsch who is a long-time friend of Michael Cohen`s and has been in touch with him through this process.
Donny, what are we to make of what Michael Cohen has put out to the world today?
DONNY DEUTSCH, FRIEND OF MICHAEL COHEN: Ari, I have been saying this for two years. It is always about the money. It always has been about the money, and it is always about Russian money. I think you`re starting to see stories about Saudi money. Donald Trump went bankrupt in the mid-`90s. Donald Trump couldn`t get money from anywhere.
You have Trump Tower filled with apartment after apartment of LLCs of Russians. Donald Trump has been owned by the Russians for a long time. Donald Trump has been owned by Vladimir Putin. This is the first time we`re seeing a line. It`s not just about collusion, helping win the election, it is about the money. It is about business. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
I really believe even post-Trump presidency, you`re going to see the Trump business empire being picked apart for the next 20 years. It is basically built as a criminal enterprise. As far as Michael, I have been speaking to Michael in the last few years. I`ve spoken to Michael today. Michael, it`s been an interesting art for Michael.
Michael, obviously, as we know, we talked a lot about the show, was an emotional personal ally of Donald Trump. It wasn`t just business. He felt like a part of the family. And obviously said he would take bullets for him and obviously, did take bullets. What`s going to come out a question, was he told to lie or did he lie on his own, I think that`s going to be an interesting question that`s going to come forward.
Michael, we`ve watched him turn. We`ve watched him all of a sudden say, you know what, no, I need to help myself, I need to help my family, I need to help my country. Michael today, as I spoke to him, sounded very different than I have spoken to him in the last two years. He finally feels that he is kind of on the other side now. Yes, he`s made mistakes and yes, he`s going to pay for them. But going from being seen as a bad guy to maybe a guy who`s trying to do the right thing, maybe not a bad guy, a good guy, and he knows he made mistakes.
MELBER: Are you saying Michael Cohen conveyed to you today that he is proud of this chapter?
DEUTSCH: He is beyond proud of this chapter. He really feels he has done the right thing and he really feels he`s going to be the linchpin and obviously so does Robert Mueller. You know, if you think about the sentence that he got, he got a six-month sentence to be served concurrently which means he got nothing. He basically pled to lying to Congress and Bob Mueller basically gave him no -- basically no penalty.
So what does that say to you? It says that Bob Mueller knows how important it was. He sat with him for 70 hours and when Michael, Trump -- when Michael Cohen is sentenced December 12, he`s going to be sentenced for these two things together and you will hear the judge read a letter about from Bob Mueller about how Michael has cooperated, the way he`s cooperated. If you saw -- the people in court today with him saw the way he was relating with the prosecutors, with the press. It was a very different Michael Cohen than several months ago. Michael Cohen is on this team, he is on the blue team and he`s on the right team.
MELBER: Well, Maya, I wonder if you could give us your view of Donny Deutsch`s theory of the case there which is that the money is the problem. He outlined a vision where the legal process could ultimately be picking apart Donald Trump`s entire fortune if there is a fortune, or entire debt, Trump Organization, the rest. And to paraphrase Donny Deutsch, sprinkling a little of bit Diddy and Biggie, he seemed to say that we have gone from more money, more problems to more Mueller, more problems.
DEUTSCH: I love you, Ari.
WILEY: I thought we were going to --
MELBER: I love you, Donny.
WILEY: -- Kendrick Lamar and Michael Cohen is going you`re dead to me. So -- but OK, I can go with you, Ari.
MELBER: We can go Kendrick and say he is telling Jerome Corsi, be humble, sit down.
WILEY: Yes. So I can`t --
MELBER: Go ahead, Maya. We could do this all night.
WILEY: Yes, we could, but we don`t have time.
MELBER: But we won`t.
WILEY: But we won`t. Later, Christmas party. So if we -- I actually agree with Donny in the sense that the money is a critical part of the story. I have no question about that. We have already seen that with the news that has broken today. I will say that if there`s a family and there is a crime family that Michael Cohen was part of La Cosa Nostra.
And I think what he`s done here is a lot wiser than Paul Manafort and recognize that he is a lot better off getting a divorce than he is going down. And I think he made the right decision certainly but I think he made it for self and family, personal family instead of the crime family.
MELBER: Donny, I am over time, and that`s partly my fault from the `90s rap references but I give you the final word.
DEUTSCH: Can I bring up an Abba reference or is that not right for this show?
MELBER: All views, welcome, all genres.
DEUTSCH: Out of respect to the reference of hip-hop on the show, I`m not going to bring disco or Abba into it.
WILEY: I like Abba.
DEUTSCH: I do too but I`m just not going to do it.
MELBER: But your final thought on where Cohen goes from here?
DEUTSCH: Where Cohen goes from here I think Cohen you`re going to see relatively light sentence come December 12 based on recommendations from Bob Mueller. And I think Cohen, you`re going to see as more and more comes out, Cohen will be pivotal as the guy that was there front and center for 10 years with this business enterprise, with this criminal enterprise, with this criminal family. You`re going to see Michael Cohen be a real linchpin here.
MELBER: Donny Deutsch and Maya Wiley, thanks to both of you for your expertise and your analysis. Very interesting tonight.
Coming up, there is so much more going on. The breaking news on this offer to Putin from Trump breaking this hour. And how a Putin spokesman used the same cover story as Michael Cohen.
Also, Congress which is about to have Democratic gavels looking into who else may have lied. Senator Richard Blumenthal is my guest tonight live onset. And we`re going to hear directly from the attorney who was Trump`s lawyer before Cohen. I am going to interview Jay Goldberg. Also, the big picture, Chris Hayes is going to give us a lot more context on where this is all headed. And fallout from my interview last night with a Mueller witness so crucial to the case against Roger Stone and potentially WikiLeaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME CORSI: I am 72-years-old. I might die in jail.0
MELBER: Would you accept a pardon?
CORSI: I was telling the truth.
MELBER: You were telling the truth about a lie. Is it accurate to say you expected Roger to tell Trump?
CORSI: There`s nothing in writing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: We have a lot more on that.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news, literally moments ago, "BuzzFeed" reporting that Donald Trump`s company planned to try to give a $50 million apartment penthouse at a Trump Tower in Moscow. The project in the news has it been built and give it to Vladimir Putin, all part of negotiating that deal.
"BuzzFeed" says they have four sources for this and one of the sources they say is a verified originator of the entire plan. They also say two U.S. law enforcement officials told "BuzzFeed" that Michael Cohen talked about the plan with Putin`s press secretary. Now, it is not clear, according to the reporting, if Trump was aware of the offer and NBC News in the last 10 minutes, of course, has not had a chance to confirm this story ourselves.
Now, this all comes as Michael Cohen`s guilty plea came out today. You see him leaving court. And with a question that we want to explore right now. Are we seeing what amounts to Donald Trump and Russia having a joint defense agreement of sorts? Because the two sides communicated, they coordinated, and they used the exact same false cover story at key moments.
The court documents say Cohen sought contact with Russian official one, that`s Putin`s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov and he has been his right-hand man for years. Cohen e-mailing with Peskov`s office, talking on the phone for about 20 minutes with an assistant there. Now last year, Peskov admitted that he did get an e-mail from Cohen but he matched this cover story, this joint defense saying he didn`t send any response. That, too, was a lie.
And before today, Cohen was keeping that cover story. The two sides have been on the same page apparently from the beginning. Look at how Trump and Peskov echo each other in separate media events. These were held just hours apart after some news broke about the Russia dossier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: President Putin in Russia put out a statement that this fake news was indeed fake news. I respected the fact that he said that.
BILL NEELY, CHIEF GLOBAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: What did you make of that document?
DMITRY PESKOV, PUTIN`S PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it is about pulp fiction. They are untrue and they are all fake.
TRUMP: We have a horrible relationship with Russia.
NEELY: How would you describe U.S.-Russian relations now?
PESKOV: Needs to be recovered, desperately needs to be recovered.
TRUMP: I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals in Russia.
PESKOV: If I am not mistaken, he never had any business here. I never heard about any businesses of him here in Moscow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Never heard about any businesses.
I`m joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat from Connecticut who serves on the Judiciary Committee. Senator, do you see in this reporting the outlines of a kind of a joint defense agreement between key Trump associates and Russia and is that wrong?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It certainly has all the appearances of what legally would be a joint defense agreement, whether it is explicit, whether it is simply the result of a kind of common understanding. Remember, Donald Trump, lied to the American people. That`s the import of the Cohen guilty plea today. He lied to the American people with the complicity of the Russians, much as Michael Flynn did.
And, of course, Sally Yates was worried about Michael Flynn being blackmailed because the Russians were enabling that lie. They did the same with Trump. They enabled his lie to the American people and Trump was trying to finish this deal before the election because he wanted the money.
MELBER: And they could have offered a different cover story. They could have said, "Yes, we deal with a lot of different places and we never built the tower and that`s it." Or, "We did talk to the Kremlin but it didn`t go anywhere." Instead, what does it tell you that the Kremlin and the Trump folks have the same false cover story and why this is even more critical, as a member of the Judiciary committee, why do you think Mueller is putting this today in the speaking indictment?
BLUMENTHAL: I think that the special counsel is telling a story which very often happens in a speaking indictment in order to prompt other witnesses to know that he has facts, he has evidence. That rattles not only Donald Trump but it ought to be rattling Donald Trump Jr. who was a witness before our committee, the Judiciary Committee, Felix Sater who was a witness before the committee, did they tell the truth? Arguably not. And I said that literally on the day of Donald Trump Jr.`s testimony.
MELBER: How do the Democrats when they take control in the House and you work with them follow up on this if people are lying to Congress?
BLUMENTHAL: First of all, we need legislation to protect the special counsel because as the walls close in on Donald Trump, he is going to begin lashing out, being even more destructive, and potentially using Matthew Whitaker or maybe directly to strangle the special counsel investigation.
Number two, there have to be hearings. Follow the money. The old prosecutor`s mantra has to be Congresses as well because this violation of the emoluments clause where our president or any member of the executive branch is taking payments or benefits violates --
MELBER: Right. Which -- I am over on time but I got to push you from the other direction. Does this progress by Mueller suggests that your concerns about Matt Whitaker have not born out yet, that he does not appear to be interfering with this kind of action?
BLUMENTHAL: Not necessarily, no. My concerns about Matt Whitaker are even deeper today than they were yesterday because as the special counsel comes closer to Donald Trump, he will try to use Matt Whitaker. Yes, Matt Whitaker permitted the Cohen guilty plea to go forward but rejecting it and refusing to allow Mueller to go forward with this guilty plea would have been so extreme and so nefarious that it would have been condemned by any member of Congress.
Now he`s free to deny resources, to constrict authority, to refuse subpoenas, and he has a greater motive to do so.
MELBER: Senator Richard Blumenthal on a busy night, thank you very much. From busting Paul Manafort to Michael Cohen`s revelation, we`re going to look at Mueller closing in with Chris Hayes breaking it all down while we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: Now, there`s a lot of talk about that quite period heading into the election for Bob Mueller. Well, you can tell that`s over. If it feels like a lot of breaking news is coming out of the Russia probe, that`s because it is. Mueller playing Trump to get a lot of answers before some of these new reports including the Southern District Cohen guilty plea today, the congressional inquiry which Mueller has used to great effect now, he`s got a guilty plea related to the congressional investigations.
What we are witnessing this week, new felonies that Mueller is charging or eyeing. Think about not only Cohen confessing to lying about this outreach, that`s the top story, but also this week Trump`s campaign chair Paul Manafort accused of a new crime of lying to prosecutors with his double agent deal, and that tipster to Trump advisor Roger Stone, he confesses publicly to lying about the e-mails that Russia stole which of course puts more heat on Trump confidant Roger Stone who was clearly a target in Mueller`s drafted court filing as well as other documents that Jerome Corsi, that tipster had.
All these alleged crimes as I`ve been emphasizing in our analysis, they are a floor not a ceiling. What`s implied, many others could be on the hook and Bob Mueller through his speaking indictment as the Senate I were just discussing he`s putting that out to the world. The key developments in the Russia part of this probe are coming out after Mueller got Trump`s Russia answers in writing. And do you think -- gosh, do you think Donald Trump and his lawyers wish they could have waited a few more days? Well, it all depends on what they put in those answers.
I want to get to the bigger picture here with my friend and colleague Chris Hayes, host of "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes. Thanks for making time tonight.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, you bet.
MELBER: What does it all mean on a wider lens of today? We`ve done half an hour on just today`s news, but when you look at everything else going on what do you see happening?
HAYES: Well I thought -- I thought the mashup you played of Trump and Peskov was brilliant and great and me sort of clarifies the key point. Let`s say this is all we know. We just stop here, OK.
HAYES: The Russian government under the direction of Vladimir Putin engaged in a vast criminal conspiracy to sabotage the American election to tip the election from Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. At the same time that was happening, Donald Trump and his associates had constant systematic contacts with Russians, Russian officials, people that represented themselves in Russian government, the person who was Putin`s number two about a variety of things including political support from the Kremlin any possible business deal with the Kremlin up to and including what looks to all the world like a $50 million bribe to Vladimir Putin himself.
At the same time both sides told the same sets of lies about what was happening. Both Donald Trump and the Kremlin denied that the Russians had actually done the hacking. They both denied that Donald Trump had business interest, that they had had any back-and-forth. Stop right there. They`re working together. Even if we learn nothing else, right? I mean, what you see is -- so let`s say Russia thought yes, this guy we have them under our thumb and Donald Trump has associates say, boy it sure looks like they`re helping us, that enough in and of itself is massively damning.
MELBER: Right. And they know that. I mean, you just put it very, very colloquially. Forget whether or not there`s a technical legal violation and the new BuzzFeed story does raise criminal liability, it does raise questions about the foreign corrupt practices.
HAYES: Sure does.
MELBER: But even if you don`t get there, you say, this is a thing that even they knew with whatever loose ethics some of them may have, Michael Cohen, obviously has said he feels bad about what he did, they knew to hide it. And that goes to Felix Sater who you interviewed and I think it`s fair to say you and I have both crossed paths with a few individuals -- interesting individuals in all of this.
MELBER: And you press Sater on what he wrote about Trump Tower. What you were pressing him on which I`m about to play is all in today`s a charging document. Let`s look back at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FELIX SATER, REAL ESTATE DEVELOPER: Yes, I did write that. Yes.
HAYES: Why did you -- why in these e-mails? There`s two of them here. Why are you guys making this connection between building this building in Russia and his electoral success?
SATER: Me personally, I was trying to build the tallest building in the world or in Europe.
HAYES: Did anyone ask -- suggest to you an interest in cultivating Donald Trump on behalf of either the Kremlin, Kremlin allied forces, people in Russian intelligence when you were working on this Moscow deal?
SATER: Absolutely not.
HAYES: Was it ever communicated to you that they were interested in Donald Trump for reasons other than business?
STATER: Absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How does that look today now that that man Felix Sater is the Individual Two in these documents about what they lied about which was trying to do this business in Moscow?
HAYES: I mean, in some ways right, let`s say that Sater was answering those questions narrowly and accurately, which is that no one ever came out and said, yes, obviously we`re cultivating this guy because we view him as an asset for our hostel plans for your nation, right? But when Michael Cohen and Felix Sater in summer of 2016 are going back and forth with Vladimir Putin`s office of a personal invitation for Michael Cohen to fly over there, when they have already hacked the e-mails, when they already have the e-mails, when the essentially operation has already started, you know, you got to understand what`s happening there if you`re Felix Sater.
MELBER: Right. And there`s a lot of people claiming that they`re willfully dumb, didn`t understand what was happening, or just happen to match the Kremlin defense.
HAYES: Yes. And the other thing to think about here is you know -- and you`ve made this point on your program, I`ve made it on mine, why all the lies all the time about this specific set of connections.
Now, in their defense and this is something I think that they will use to their defense, they lie about everything all the time. They lie about the stupidest most trivial and easily fact-checkable things. They cannot help but lie. It is a nest of liars. That is their one defense now for why they might be innocent, that they are so obsessively and pathologically liar -- lying about everything that this is just a subset of a broader miasma of untruth. But what it looks like is a bunch of guilty people trying to cover their tracks.
MELBER: Right. And that kind of guilt, that kind of obstruction is chargeable even if you do it a lot, it just means more charges usually. Chris Hayes, thanks for making time. I know you got a prep for your show. Everyone, stay tuned because at 8:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, "ALL IN" is going to be jam-packed I am sure.
Up ahead, what the man who once said he take a bullet for Trump could be telling Mueller. And Trump`s longtime lawyer Jay Goldberg joins me for an exclusive interview on THE BEAT. And later, what Roger Stones relationship with Trump means when you now know that they were having late-night phone calls at a key period during the campaign. And some big reactions and big headlines coming out of Jerome Corsi`s interview on THE BEAT last night.
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MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER, DONALD TRUMP: I`m going to be the personal attorney to Mr. Trump. I`m going to remain technically in the same role for Mr. Trump, for President Trump as I was when he was President of the Trump Organization.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: So can I assume that in that role, not being a government role that you`d have attorney-client privilege with President Trump?
COHEN: Yes. Yes, of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Michael Cohen doesn`t have that role anymore, but the man who had that role and continues to advise the president from time to time is Jay Goldberg. He joins me by phone now, Donald Trump`s longtime lawyer. He actually has a new book coming out called The Courtroom is My Theatre, and he`s also a former prosecutor. And David Corn is along for the ride. Jay, thanks for making time tonight.
JAY GOLDBERG, FORMER LAWYER, DONALD TRUMP: Good, Ari. Happy to be with you.
MELBER: I`m happy to have you. And let me ask you point-blank. If true, do Michael Cohen`s allegations hurt Trump and concern you?
GOLDBERG: They don`t concern me because I don`t know, as I said here, and neither do you, whether they`re true. People who testify for the government, are "a blot on the criminal justice system." The cases are replete with government "cooperating witnesses" embellishing, making up stories in effort to lead the government to lead that they should be entitled --
MELBER: So Jay, you`re not really -- you`re not really using the key two words that I started with which is I was curious of whether you thought, if true the allegations are problematic. But in addition, as you know being the experienced lawyer that you are, Mueller didn`t just take quotes or hearsay. There are e-mails and documentation that show that the man you long represented Donald Trump lied about all this outreach to the Kremlin.
GOLDBERG: I don`t think he lied with respect to whether there was a deal or an option with respect to a building in Moscow. I don`t think things reach the point where you can say there was collusion that affected the campaign. The thing that troubles me is that the man is going to a G20 conference in an effort to deal with President Xi and all this is coming out that could serve only to prejudice him. Now I know --
MELBER: Now, Jay, you and I know our legal and political history. That is a classic Nixon Kissinger defense that president is having his national security role interfered with. We`re a nation of laws and I would think as a former prosecutor you would say everything should be investigated and subject to the rule of law even though the President has an important job to do.
GOLDBERG: Oh, I say -- I say that, Ari, and I say it again. Do you know whether the allegations that Michael Cole are true?
MELBER: I know that there`s evidence here tonight. I`m asking you about the evidence. Let me play for you something that Donald Trump said about Michael Cohen. He hasn`t talked this way about you so I --
GOLDBERG: Oh, I know what he said, and he said --
MELBER: -- both are better terms. Let me play it and I`ll get your reaction. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He`s a weak person. And by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he`s a weak person. And what he`s trying to do is get a reduced sentence. He`s a weak person and not a very smart person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Jay, final word. Is that any way to talk about your former lawyer?
GOLDBERG: I spoke to him once in the 24 years I represented Trump, once, and I found him to have the earmarks of weakness. And when you`re an experienced trial lawyer, you can size up the person. He never subject himself to walking down the aisle with people banging their metal cups against bars saying you`re going to be my wife. He is a weak person based on information that I have from -- I can`t go into where the information comes from but --
MELBER: Well, Mr. Goldberg, I`m going to fit in -- I`m going to fit in a break. I appreciate as I do with all guests you giving us your views. Thank you tonight. I`m going to fit in a break. And up ahead something very important you might have seen, another Mueller witness admitting separate lies to Congress on behalf of Roger Stone. We`re going to show you some pretty remarkable confessions up next.
MELBER: Today Bob Mueller showed he will indict lies to Congress. And that made me bad news for Roger Stone because his associate Jerome Corsi admitted on THE BEAT just last night that Stone lied to Congress with his help. Now, that interview obviously made a lot of headlines when you admit something like that. Those are some of the articles that came out of last night`s interview. Let me show you an important point from last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How did they react to these other defenses that you made on behalf of Roger Stone which is you agreed to help Roger mislead Congress about how he found out about Podesta?
JEROME CORSI, ASSOCIATE OF ROGER STONE: Well, see, in fact, that was the first -- there`s two rounds of this that they went through. Round one, I openly discuss that with him in a minute at all because it was true. I was telling the truth.
MELBER: You were telling him the truth about a lie.
CORSI: No -- well, OK, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Well, yes. Seth Waxman former Federal Prosecutor is here. You hear Corsi either say yes. He implicates Stone in a lie to Congress to the grand jury. What does that mean for Roger Stone?
SETH WAXMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it could mean very bad things. I mean, if you lied to Congress, you could be implicated with perjury and obstruction of justice, and this all might be a tool of part of this Russian conspiracy in trying to get the Trump -- rather the dirt on Hillary out into the public atmosphere.
MELBER: Usually when these witnesses go to the grand jury, we don`t hear a ton more from them. Well, we heard last night from Corsi what everyone thinks of it, reflects what Mueller already put before the grand jury. Did he put it there so he can charge Stone with it?
WAXMAN: Yes. I think that`s definitely part of the plan. Stone seems to play a huge role in this idea of a quid pro quo and the dirt on Hillary getting out into the public atmosphere, and if it was used by Trump to kind of distance himself and use some of his associates to put that out there as part of this quid pro quo, then yes, that could be a very big part of it.
MELBER: So that goes to Stone`s liability. Then there`s a larger question of President Trump`s liability. I pressed Mr. Corsi on whether all of this dirt and Intel that they got that proved to be right about the stolen e- mails was going to be passed back to Donald Trump. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You would expect he would tell Trump rather than keep that from Trump?
CORSI: -- it was Podesta. I told Stone and he told about everybody I knew, and I knew would help Roger -- help Donald Trump and I was happy to do that. I was speculating but I was -- I was sure I was right.
MELBER: Is it accurate to say you expected Roger to tell Trump?
CORSI: I didn`t -- look, logically should I have expected it? Yes of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Of course. So there you have him saying yes, all this action was to give Donald Trump the candidate secret early intel in what Assange was doing. How bad would that be for Trump?
WAXMAN: Well, it could be very bad. If at the same time this dirt and getting it out into the public was taking place, Trump was also making promises to the Russians that he would reduce or eliminate sanctions against Russian oligarchs, then you have the classic quid pro quo. And again, that you know, Corsi and Stone being arms of that illegal transaction.
MELBER: Right. So that could be a thing of value that Trump actually gets.
MELBER: Third and finally, he brought up pardons. Take a look.
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CORSI: I`m not counting on Donald Trump for anything including a pardon. That`s not the basis on which I made my decision.
MELBER: But I didn`t ask you about the pardon. You`re bringing up a pardon.
CORSI: I`m bringing it up because I want to make it clear that I don`t expect one.
MELBER: Would you accept a pardon?
CORSI: No, accept a pardon is hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How did you read that exchange?
WAXMAN: He had a hard time saying that last part, didn`t he? I mean, if he were to get a pardon, he`s definitely going to take it. And all these individuals seem to be floating the idea to the President, hey, I`m looking out for you, please look out for me at some point in time. So sure he wants a pardon.
MELBER: And even Nixon didn`t float pardons publicly this early.
WAXMAN: Well, right. And it seems that Trump think -- seems to think by doing it out in the open somehow it doesn`t make it criminal. And you know, there`s something to that. We think if we heard that on a wire, we`d all be sitting back as prosecutors saying, holy cow, look what we just heard. But the fact that he does it on NBC or some other you know, news network, we all think that well, maybe there`s nothing wrong with it.
MELBER: You make such another great point there and that`s a bizarre part of all of this which is the televised Twitter aspect of it which were all obviously living through, does appear to in their view hopefully launder bad things that if they were on the Watergate tapes you`d say, oh my God, there`s the smoking gun. Seth Waxman, thank you very much. We`re going to fit in a break and we`re learning a lot more of a Paul Manafort sentencing that`s next.
MELBER: Friday, tomorrow, could be another big day in this Russia probe. There is a key hearing on Paul Manafort who`s been all over the news this week so we could learn exactly what else Mueller is accusing Manafort of lying about. We also tomorrow have a special report and an exclusive guest about a key legal strategy that House Democrats can employ if the battle with Trump goes to court. It will be new original reporting that you won`t hear, I can tell you this, anywhere else. So I do encourage you to check out what we have tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END