Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: August 21, 2018 Guest: Lanny Davis, Paul Fishman
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: How was your day?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I don`t know what happened. I am kind of putting my jaw back up on my face.
MADDOW: I felt like at a certain point today, I was like honestly inclined toward physically getting under my desk and going like this and waiting until stuff stopped happening so could I crawl out and survey the records.
HAYES: The moment for me was the Duncan Hunter indictment.
HAYES: It`s like, come on. Is this -- is someone playing a joke? The second guy, the second member of Congress that endorsed him got indicted today, too?
MADDOW: Honestly. At my third staff meeting of the day today, we usually only have one but we had to keep reconvening today. Somebody said, congressman just indicted? I said jokes like that aren`t funny.
MADDOW: It`s just -- yes, I hear you. Thank you, my friend. Well done.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I will say that the luckiest man in the news today is Congressman Duncan Hunter. I mean, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Republican congressman from San Diego, really was indicted today by the federal prosecutors along with his wife. We thought it was a joke when it first crossed the news wires today like one more thing can happen today, but Duncan Hunter, sitting congressman, was indicted today, along with his wife, for felony campaign finance violations, wired fraud, falsifying records and conspiracy.
That makes him oddly the luckiest man in the news today because if you`re ever going to get indicted, how about today, right? A sitting member of Congress who is running for re-election this year, getting indicted along with his wife and charged with multiple felonies? That is usually a big show stopper of a story. Today, that`s -- I mean, it is a story.
I will submit for your edification the fact that these were the two the first sitting members of Congress to endorse Donald J. Trump for president in 2016. These two were the first.
On the left, Congressman Chris Collins who was indicted on federal felony charges less than two weeks ago. He was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president. And then on the right side of your screen, that`s Congressman Duncan Hunter. He was the second sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president. And now, today, he too has been indicted on multiple felony charges.
Who was third?
But as I say, Congressman Duncan Hunter probably considers himself lucky today. I mean, if you`re going to get indicted, today was probably a pretty good day, because the news of his indictment arrived on a day like no other in this remarkable scandal-ridden presidency.
We actually called NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss today to ask him if there`s anything in presidential history that is anything like the coincidence of events today. Has there ever been a single day in the news for any U.S. president that held similar explosive political force to the criminal court news that President Trump got today with his campaign chairman being found guilty on eight felony counts -- eight felony counts which should put him away for years in prison, and on the same day at basically exactly the same moment, his long-time personal lawyer and long- time employee at his business also pleaded guilty to eight felony counts which should put him away for years in prison?
In the case of the president`s long time personal lawyer, his deal with prosecutors today not only included his own guilty pleas, it also included detailed descriptions and evidence of the president`s own participation in, the president in fact directing felony criminal behavior on the part of this defendant who has now pled guilty.
So, we called Michael Beschloss today. Has any U.S. president ever gone through anything quite like this when it comes to the criminal law?
Michael Beschloss today told us, the only rough equivalent he can come up with in U.S. history would be March 1st, 1974. That produced this headline the next day. March 1st, 1974, was the day a grand jury publicly indicted Richard Nixon`s campaign manager who he had named attorney general and the president`s top two aides in the White House and a bunch of other top White House Nixon staffers.
The critical catastrophe for Nixon that day, March 1st, 1974, is that Nixon himself was named as an unindicted co-conspirator by the grand jury in that criminal behavior. And those findings of criminal activity by President Nixon, those were ultimately handed over to Congress for them to impeach him.
Tonight, President Trump is not facing impeachment. He is doing a rally in West Virginia. But his campaign chairman and his long time personal lawyer are both convicted felons, as of tonight.
And there is, of course, tremendous interest in the ultimate fate and the guilt and the impending prison time for both of these men. But the president`s own fate is a real front burner issue now because of what just happened with Cohen and Manafort. So, let`s talk about that.
Let`s start with Manafort. On Manafort, you know by now the basics. Manafort was convicted on eight felony counts. The jury in the Manafort case was not able to reach a verdict on the other ten felony counts that Manafort was facing. They didn`t find him not guilty on those other ten charges, they just couldn`t come to a decision.
That gives the prosecution and the defense both some options here. On the counts where the jury didn`t reach a verdict, there was a mistrial for those 10 counts, and that means prosecutors could decide to try Paul Manafort again on those 10 counts. Prosecutors have a choice as to whether or not they want to do that.
On the other hand, there are the eight counts, the eight felony charges where the jurors did reach a verdict. And on all eight charges today, they found him guilty. Now, on those eight guilty verdicts, the defense could appeal.
So, we`re going to get a little more details and more expert advice on this coming up in a few minutes. It turned out to be fascinating the way that whole story about the Federal Savings Bank in Chicago worked out and how the jury viewed Paul Manafort basically offering Trump administration jobs to the CEO of that bank in exchange for him offering Manafort millions of dollars in loans, the way the jury saw that turns out to be fascinating. So, we`ll get -- we`ll get some advice on that. We`ll go through some of that later on.
But basically, there are three things on watch when it comes to Manafort now. And specifically, potentially the president`s own fate as it relates to Paul Manafort. Three things to watch -- the first two are logistical. Number one, will Manafort`s defense team appeal the eight felony charges on which he was found guilty? Also, will the government try to charge Manafort again on the other ten felonies on which there was no verdict?
So, just logistics. Is this trial over? Are these 18 counts settled or were they continued to be litigated? That`s one thing to watch.
The second logistical thing to watch -- after these convictions today on these eight felony charges for Manafort, how much better or worse does Manafort`s fate look now for his next felony trial which after all, starts in less than a month in federal court in D.C. This was Manafort`s federal trial in Virginia. He is about to go on trial in federal court in D.C., less than a month from now.
And believe it or not, tonight is the deadline for the prosecutors to submit their list of evidence that they are planning on using in that next case against Manafort next month. We are expecting over the course of this evening, sometime tonight to get access to that evidence list. We`re expecting that it will contain well over 1,000 individual pieces of evidence that prosecutors are going to use in their case against Manafort next month.
When we get that evidence list tonight, presumably, it will land like an anvil on the Manafort defense team, right? Because it will come just hours after their client was convicted on eight felony counts in a different federal court today. So, is that case over? How does it affect the next case?
There`s twos things to watch. Basically logistical but it`s going to be fascinating to watch both of those.
But there`s one last thing, the third thing to watch here when it comes to Manafort. With these eight felony convictions today, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the facing a theoretical maximum prison sentence of 80 years in prison, right? I mean, now, he`s not going to get 80 years in prison realistically according to the sentencing guidelines. He`s probably looking at real time in prison of maybe seven to nine years.
And he is about to face another federal felony trial against the same special counsel`s office who just got him convicted on eight felonies and that`s coming up in less than a month. So, you see where this is going, right?
The last thing to watch when it comes to Paul Manafort is, whether being convicted today while staring down the evidence in the next trial he`s about to face in D.C., whether any of this is going to change Paul Manafort`s own calculus about whether or not he might want to help prosecutors now. Paul Manafort, a lot of other people we`ve gotten in trouble in the Russia scandal have flipped and decided to help prosecutors. Not Manafort. Manafort has not cooperated with prosecutors at all.
If he decided now to start cooperating, his future would look very different. Presumably, right? Depending on the deal he was able to cut, depending on what he could offer information about. Depending on how valuable it might be to prosecutors and any other open investigations they are pursuing.
I mean, the years in prison that he is now looking at as of today for the felonies of which he was convicted today, those years conceivably in a deal with prosecutors, those years might go away, as might the charges he`s about to face in his new trial in court in Washington, D.C. next month. Again, we`re going on get some expert advice on this.
But whatever math Paul Manafort has done in his head about whether or not he wanted to flip and help prosecutors in any of their other work in any other cases, right, including cases potentially involving the president, that math might have changed today when the jury pronounced him guilty on eight felonies in that Virginia courtroom. So, that is half of what is looming over the president today. Does Paul Manafort now feel differently about his own fate, differently enough that he might be willing to talk? That`s half of what is looming.
And then there is the president`s personal lawyer.
Ahem, the judge. Let`s begin then with an initial appearance. Mr. Cohen, I am District Judge William Pauley. The purpose of this proceeding, sir, is to inform you of certain rights that you have. To inform you of the charges against you and to consider whether counsel should be appointed for you and to decide under what conditions you should be released.
First, you have the right to remain silent. You are not required to make any statements. Even if you have made any statements to the authorities, you need not make any further statements. Anything you do say can be used against you.
You have the right to be released either conditionally or unconditionally pending trial, unless I find that there are no conditions that would reasonably assure your presence in court and the safety of the community. You have the right, sir, to be represented by counsel during all court proceedings, including this one, and during all questioning by authorities. If you cannot afford an attorney, I will appoint one to represent you.
Now, the government has offered information in this case. Have you seen that information, Mr. Cohen?
The defendant, Michael Cohen: Yes, Your Honor.
The judge: And have you read it?
Michael Cohen: I have, sir.
The judge: Have you discussed with it your attorney, Mr. Petrillo?
Mr. Cohen: I have, sir.
The judge: Mr. Cohen, do you understand sir, that you are now under oath and that if you answer any of my questions falsely, your false or untrue answers may later be used against you in another prosecution for perjury or making a false statement?
Michael Cohen: I do, your honor.
The judge: very well. For the record, what is your full name?
Michael Cohen says: Michael Dean Cohen.
The judge: And at this time, Mr. Cohen, you may be seated and I would ask that you pull the microphone close to you.
The defendant, Michael Cohen: Thank you, Your Honor.
Mr. Cohen, how old are you, sir?
The defendant: In four days, I`ll be 52.
The judge: How far did you go in school?
The judge: Are you able to read, white, speak and understand English?
The defendant: Yes, Your Honor.
The judge: Are you now or have you recently been under the care of a doctor or psychiatrist?
The defendant: No, Your Honor.
Court: Have you ever been treated or hospitalized for any mental illness or any type of addiction, including drug or alcohol addiction?
The defendant: No, sir.
The judge: In the past 24 hours, Mr. Cohen, have you taken any drugs, medicine or pills or have you consumed any alcohol?
The defendant: Yes, Your Honor.
The judge: What have you taken or consumed, sir?
The defendant: last night at dinner, I had a glass of Glenlivet 12 on the rocks.
The judge: All right. Is it your custom to do that, sir?
The defendant: No, Your Honor.
The judge: All right. Have you had anything since that time?
The defendant: No, Your Honor.
The judge: Is your mind clear today?
Yes, Your Honor.
Are you feeling all right today?
Are you represented by counsel here today?
Who are your attorneys?
Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester.
And, Mr. Petrillo, do you have any doubt as to your client`s competence to plead at this time?
Cohen`s defense lawyer, Guy Petrillo, says: I do not, Your Honor.
Judge: Now, Mr. Cohen, your attorney has informed me that you wish to enter a plea of guilty. Do you wish to enter a plea of guilty?
Defendant Michael Cohen: Yes, sir.
The judge: Have you had a full opportunity to discuss your case with your attorney and to discuss the consequences of entering a plea of guilty?
The defendant: Yes, Your Honor.
Judge: Are you satisfied with your attorneys, Mr. Petrillo and Ms. Lester, in their representation of new this matter?
The defendant: Very much, sir.
The judge: On the basis of Mr. Cohen`s responses to my questions and my observations of his demeanor here in the courtroom this afternoon, I find that he is full competent to enter an informed plea at this time.
Being warned that he will be prosecuted for perjury if he gives any false statements at this hearing today, they then go through it. There is a long back and forth at this point about Cohen understanding the nature his plea deal and the nature of the charges against him and the clear mind with which he is pleading guilty. He pleads guilty to eight felony charges today, felony tax evasion in five separate years, so that`s five different counts, that`s five of the eight.
The number six is making a false statement to a financial institution to get a loan that he shouldn`t have otherwise gotten, and then there`s the last two charges that blew the proverbial lid off the place today. But as they`re going through all the charges between the judge and the attorneys and Michael Cohen, just saying, yes, your honor a lot as they`re going through stuff, there comes this moment in today`s hearing when the judge asks Michael Cohen to explain in his own words the crimes he has committed and to which he is pleading guilty.
The judge: Mr. Cohen, would you please tell me what you did in connection to each of the crimes to which are you entering a plea of guilty?
Michael Cohen: Yes, Your Honor. May I stand?
The judge: You may.
The defendant: Thank you, sir.
Michael Cohen: Your Honor, I also just jotted down some notes so that I can keep my focus and address this court in proper fashion. As to counts one through five, in the tax years of 2012 to 2016, I evaded paying substantial taxes on certain income received that I knew was not reflected on the return and that I caused to be filed.
And then I won`t read all the details but Cohen details how he evaded taxes, how he knowingly lied by omission to a bank where he applied for a loan. That loan we later learned he used to pay off Stormy Daniels. We`ll have more only later.
But then we get to the part that led to front pages like this tonight. This is the front page of the "New York Times" right now. Cohen pleads guilty implicating president. That`s the front page of "The New York Times" tonight.
Here`s where that comes from in court today. Ready?
OK. Michael Cohen: Thank you, Your Honor. As to count number seven, on or about the summer of 2016 in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office, I and the CEO of a media company, at the request of the candidate, worked together to keep an individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and to the campaign from publicly disclosing this information. After a number of discussions, we eventually accomplished the goal by the media company entering into a contract with the individual under which she received compensation of $150,000. I participated in this conduct which on my part took place in Manhattan for the principal purpose of influencing the election.
The federal candidate in this case is the president of the United States. The election in this case is the election that made him president of the United States. And this is the president`s attorney, saying under oath, under penalty of perjury, that the president directed this illegal payoff during the campaign for the purposes of influencing the election.
This count, number seven, is the Karen McDougal case. This is the woman who used to model for "Playboy" magazine who said she had a long running affair with the president. Michael Cohen said under oath in court today that the president directed him, Michael Cohen, and also the CEO of a media company, which appears to be David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, which owns "The National Enquirer," Michael Cohen says the president directed two of them to arrange a payment of $150,000 to Karen McDougal during the election, specifically for the purpose of influencing the election.
Now, that is something that has been reported in detail that you have heard about over months. That is now being charged as a felony, as an illegal corporate contribution to the president`s campaign. One that, according to this court proceeding today, was directed by the president himself.
Now, Michael Cohen is pleading guilty to his own role in that but he is directly implicating both the president of the United States and the executive David Pecker in that same criminal act. So, we`ll have more on that in a second.
But then here`s the last count. And this part is probably even worse for the president at least the way I read it.
Back to the transcript.
Mike Cohen: Your Honor, as to count number eight, on or about October of 2016, the month before the election, in coordination with and at the direction of the same candidate, I arranged to make a payment to a second individual with information that would be harmful to the candidate and to the campaign to keep the individual from disclosing the information. To accomplish this, I used a company that was under my control to make a payment in the sum of $130,000. The moneys I advanced through my company were later repaid to me by the candidate.
I participated in this conduct which on my part took place in Manhattan for the principal purpose of influencing the election.
Now, the reason he is saying, I did this in Manhattan is because he is being charged by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. That`s essentially establishing their jurisdiction to charge him with these felonies. When he says he participated in this conduct for the principal purpose of influencing the election, that is identifying this felony as a campaign-related felony, a campaign finance felony.
So the president`s lawyer has pled guilty. In so doing, he implicates the president personally in arranging two illegal payoffs during the campaign for the purpose of influencing the outcome of the campaign.
Now, Mr. Cohen, Michael Cohen, will be going to jail for this conduct. But he has implicated the president in this criminal act as well.
And then after did he that, federal prosecutors told the judge they have lots of evidence to prove this crime. The judge asked the prosecutors to summarize its evidence on these charges that Cohen has just described. And then the prosecution goes through all the evidence, all the bank charges, and the tax evasion. And then when it comes to those last two bomb shells, the felony charges on which Michael Cohen implicates the president personally, prosecutor Andrea Griswold stands up and gives bullet points that are a list of evidence that the government has collected to prove those charges.
Quote: Records obtained from a series of search warrants on Mr. Cohen`s premises including hard copy documents, seized electric devices and audio recordings made by Mr. Cohen. We would also offer text messages, messages sent over encrypted applications, phone records and e-mails. We would also submit various records produced to us via subpoena, including records from the corporation referenced in the information as corporation one and records from the media company also referenced in the information. Finally, we would offer testimony of witnesses, including witnesses involved in the transactions in question who communicated with the defendant.
Now, that`s the list of evidence that government says it has compiled to prove that case. They explain that they`ve got all that evidence to the judge today in court. But the government is not going to put that evidence on display in a trial against Michael Cohen because there`s not going to be a trial because Cohen has pled guilty.
So, Cohen`s plea and the court filings from prosecutors in this case, they implicate Cohen. They also implicate the president in this same criminal behavior. Cohen`s guilty plea in today spelled it out, out loud in the transcript that I just read to you.
It`s also spelled out in even more detail in the criminal information document which the prosecutor was just referencing there in that quote that I just read. The criminal information document became public later this evening. It spells it out in even more detail. It describes one or more members of the Trump campaign coordinating with Michael Cohen to make these illegal payoffs.
And this is interesting to me. It hasn`t received a lot of attention today but I think it is worth focusing on. The president`s company, his business, the Trump Organization, also appears to be implicated in the description of this crime, because it is the president`s company that is apparently the entity that reimbursed Michael Cohen for the illegal payoff.
It was $130,000 illegal payoff to Stormy Daniels. They not only reimbursed him for the payoff. They also paid him a lot more on top of the reimbursement. It is spelled out in the criminal information document that Michael Cohen put out this $130,000 as the payoff but then Trump Organization, the president`s business, paid him back not $130,000. They paid him back over $420,000 for having provided that service.
And that service, of course, was a felony for which Mr. Cohen will now go to prison. They paid him a lot of money to do that. I don`t know if you can indict a president but I`m pretty sure you can indict the president`s company.
So, a big day. The indicted congressman today, Congressman Duncan Hunter, is very lucky to have had his criminal news land like a rain drop in this ocean of criminal news today about the president`s campaign chair and his long time personal lawyer. Both now as of today, convicted felons.
The last day like this in history, March 1st, 1974, saw Mr. Nixon named as an unindicted co-conspirator in criminal cases against his top aides. Today, there was no grand jury to do that kind of naming. But in the court filings around the Michael Cohen guilty pleas, the president is implicated just as overtly as Nixon ever was.
So, now, I have questions. I`ve already laid out my questions on Manafort. Basically, how much time is Manafort ultimately looking at? Will that change his mind on flipping and cooperating? It`s pretty simple. Watch this space for that.
Including watch tonight for the publication of that list of evidence from the prosecution. Manafort.
But on Cohen, tell me this. Cohen and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, they implicate the president explicitly today in campaign violations with these secret payoffs. That`s not the same thing as indicting the president for those charges.
But what`s the distance between implication by prosecutors, this explicit implication today, and indictment? Like how do you travel that distance? And can you travel that distance?
What happens there? What happens now that the president is named as someone involved in the commission of multiple felonies? Where does that go?
Second question, Michael Cohen is not required to cooperate with prosecutors as a condition of his plea agreement. Why not? Did prosecutors not want that? Did Michael Cohen not want that? What does that mean?
And third, where is the special counsel? Robert Mueller and his prosecutors at the special counsel`s office reportedly initiated this investigation of Michael Cohen, but then they handed it off to the regular public corruption prosecutors at the U.S. attorney`s office in the Southern District of New York. The special counsel and his team of prosecutors appear nowhere in the hearing or in any of these filings today about Michael Cohen.
Does the special counsel`s office want to talk to Michael Cohen? Have they talked on Michael Cohen? Does Michael Cohen have now or did he ever have an option to reduce his prison time by talking to the special counsel`s office about they -- about what he knows that might be helpful in their other ongoing investigations?
I mean, Cohen implicated the president in two felonies today. If Cohen has more to say beyond implicating the president, in these two felonies today, has he said it already to prosecutors? Should we expect that he will?
I actually think we might be able to get an answer on that from a guest you will be surprised to see here, next.
MADDOW: Michael Cohen did not sign a deal that obligates him to cooperate with prosecutors today, but he did pled guilty, and in his plea, he did directly implicate the president in participation in two felonies related to the campaign -- two campaign finance violations for which Mr. Cohen looks like he will now expect to do jail time.
Is Michael Cohen done? There was no mention of the special counsel or the special counsel`s ongoing investigations in his case today. Is there any connection at all between the special counsel`s work and what just happened to Mr. Cohen today?
Joining us now is Lanny Davis. He`s Michael Cohen`s personal attorney, former special White House counsel to President Bill Clinton.
Mr. Davis, I`m really happy that you`re here tonight. Thanks for joining us.
LANNY DAVIS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: I just want to say it`s a long time I`ve wanted to be on your show, Rachel, and watch you all the time and I appreciate the invitation.
MADDOW: Thank you for saying that. I appreciate you being here. I know that you have a lot of other things to be doing tonight.
Your client pled guilty to eight counts today. It was a standard plea agreement as far as we can tell. Not a cooperation agreement.
Was that an option for you and your client? Why wasn`t there any cooperation deal?
DAVIS: Well, there are certain things I can answer directly. So let me try answer this indirectly. When I decided to represent Mr. Cohen, it was because he committed to me early on in many conversations that he wanted to tell the truth about Donald Trump, and we talked about what he knew about Donald Trump. This was one of the subjects.
So whether I used the word "cooperation" or not, my colleague Guy Petrillo will know the answer to your question. It`s truth that Michael Cohen is committed to and it`s truth that so threatens the president of the United States who has consistently lied in fact on this issue, denied knowing about these payments until Rudy Giuliani, his lawyer, waiving attorney- client privilege, said, oh, he knew about the payments, directly contrary to the lie on Air Force One.
So, to answer your question, Mr. Cohen is dedicated to telling the truth. If that amounts to the word "cooperation", I`ll leave that to my cohort, the great criminal defense lawyer Guy Petrillo to explain.
MADDOW: The special counsel`s office, special counsel Robert Mueller and any of the prosecutors don`t appear anywhere in the court filings today. They weren`t discussed in court. That makes them a sort of looming presence in this story and what we know about the future of your client, the future of Michael Cohen.
Is there anything to do with the special counsel that was involved in this plea agreement today? Has the special counsel approached Michael Cohen already about whether he would like to speak some of that truth to their inquiry in addition to what he`s just faced in SDNY?
DAVIS: So, I can`t tell you the answer to that question about contacts between Michael and the special counsel. But I can tell you that Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell special counsel all that he knows -- not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election, which the Trump Tower meeting was all about, but also, knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.
We know he publicly cheered it on. But did he also have private information?
One thing to say about Michael Cohen, if I might, Rachel, is that he`s been through a very tough day. His wife and his two children and his family are, I would say, suffering from this type of event, and so is Michael.
But in one very important respect, Michael is relieved. He is a good man with a good heart that I discovered. But he is relieved and liberated, is the word I would say to your audience, because now he has no shadow hanging over him.
The uncertainty is gone. He has stepped up to the line and he has admitted what did he wrong but he is now liberated to tell truth -- everything about Donald Trump that he knows, that led him to approach someone like me, who he knows politically doesn`t share anything with President Trump. And from this point on, you`re going to see liberated Michael Cohen speaking truth to power.
MADDOW: In terms of -- what you just said there, I just want to underscore what you referenced, that Mr. Cohen has information about the president and his advance knowledge of the crime of hacking during the campaign. And you`re saying that Mr. Cohen, whether or not he has already spoken to the special counsel`s office, he would be happy to discuss that with the special counsel, separate and apart from everything that happen today in the Southern District of New York.
DAVIS: Well, I hate to be overly legalistic with you, but I`m not going to confirm what knowledge Michael has. I will confirm that Mr. Mueller, who I greatly respect, will have a lot of interest in what Michael has to say.
And, by the way, on just the crime of directing somebody to commit a crime, as you pointed out in your opening, it was a crime for President Trump to direct Michael Cohen to the crime of a campaign finance donation that exceeded the legal limitations.
There is something else interesting that isn`t so obvious. Why didn`t President Trump do this himself? Why didn`t he write or sign the check himself? Was he covering up because he knew that there was something wrong in what he was doing so he directed his lawyer to do something that he didn`t want anybody to know that he did? I think the answer to that question is obvious.
So, there is a cover-up here by our now president of the United States that is undeniable. He directed Michael Cohen to make this payment of $130,000. He didn`t have the courage, or at least, didn`t want to expose himself politically so soon before the election. So he directed his lawyer to do that which he was not willing to do.
MADDOW: Lanny Davis, attorney for Michael Cohen, Mr. Davis, thank you for being here. I hope you`ll come back.
DAVIS: Thank you for having me, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Much appreciated.
You know, to that last point that he was making about President Trump directing Michael Cohen to make these payments instead of making them himself, one of the things that we learned today in this criminal information is that when Trump directed Cohen to do it, it could not have been out of convenience. One of the other felonies to which Michael Cohen pled today was lying to a bank in order to get a $130,000 home equity loan, which is what he tapped to make the payment to Stormy Daniels, which President Trump had directed him to make.
So, this is not like Michael Cohen was the easy choice here. Michael Cohen had to commit another felony in order to scratch the cash together to make that payment at the president`s direction. He did get paid back handsomely for it but now he looks he`ll go to jail for it. The question is what will happen to the president for it?
More to get to. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Emily Jane Fox is a senior reporter at "Vanity Fair". She spoke with Michael Cohen today after he pled guilty to eight felony charges, after he left court. Emily Jane Fox has been on the frontlines of the story from the very beginning.
Emily, thank you for being with us tonight.
EMILY JANE FOX, SENIOR REPORTER, VANITY FAIR: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: How was Mr. Cohen after his time in court today?
FOX: I think it was an emotional day for him. I think what he wanted to express most to me was that this is a decision that he made for his family, and that one thing that kept coming up in our conversation was that he felt he was well-treated by the government. And this is something that echoes something he said to me earlier when the government first raided had his home and apartment and hotel room and office.
That the FBI agents treated him very fairly then and he felt they treated him very fairly again in this deliberation and these talks.
MADDOW: I feel like when we sort of step back from the timeline we`ve all been living in, you`ve had so much interesting reporting over the weeks and months about Cohen. Some other people have had, reporting along the same lines about Cohen, about his feelings about the president, about his likelihood that he would cooperate with prosecutors. That he would be willing to essentially flip after his longstanding relationship with Donald Trump and tell them what he -- after reading all of that, and learning all of that over a period of months, you`re now confirming today what seemed quite an apparent in court.
You`ve confirmed it tonight in the "Vanity Fair" that Cohen and prosecutors didn`t talk until this last week.
MADDOW: So there haven`t been these ongoing negotiations. There haven`t been these ongoing talks.
FOX: Look, there have been communications between his attorney and the government just basic communications, especially his attorney reaching out and saying, hey. We`re here. As you`re going through documents, if you have any questions.
But deliberations and specific discussions, from my reporting, I know they didn`t really begin until last week. And so, for weeks people have been saying, Cohen is really quiet. Cohen is really quiet. Is it because there are conversations?
And from my reporting, it`s not. He was out of the news cycle. Why put himself back in the news cycle? Last week, that`s when these sort of conversations really began in earnest.
MADDOW: And he pleads guilty today and there is no cooperation agreement that goes along with the plea.
FOX: Well, if you`re only talking for the first time last week, and over the weekend, the beginning of this week, we know from all the very smart lawyers on this network all the time, that a cooperating agreement takes a lot of time.
FOX: It takes a long -- weeks if not months to get the witness to a place where they trust the witness, to work out all the details that you want to work out. If you`re only starting this last week --
MADDOW: Isn`t that fascinating? Prosecutors didn`t want to start those conversations with him earlier, that they didn`t want to develop him into a cooperating witness.
FOX: Well, as you read the transcript from the beginning of the show, the government went through each charge and what evidence they had for each of those charges. And so, if they were intent on bringing those charges, they had what they needed.
They took more than 3 million documents from him in April. It seems like they had testimony from people. That they already had empanelled a grand jury and people who were witnesses if not already testified, or willing to testify. So, they had what they needed on these charges.
MADDOW: Cohen today directly implicated the president in two felonies -- felonies to which Cohen has pled guilty, to which serious jail time is attached.
MADDOW: Lanny Davis just suggested on our air live moments ago that Mr. Cohen in addition to those remarkable statements today many court would be happy to speak with the special counsel on matters potentially including the president having advance knowledge of the crime that took place during the campaign, which was the hacking of documents from the Democratic Party. That Michael Cohen may have knowledge that the president had advance warning of that happening and he would be happy to talk to special counsel about it.
I`m bumbling that in the way I say it because it just happened right here, and I`m still processing it. How do you process that? And what can you add?
FOX: Michael Cohen had a front row seat to a lot that was happening in Trump Tower during the campaign and in the last decade. So, that was the first time that I had heard that. The stuff about the Trump Tower meeting, the stuff about him knowing about the president having advance knowledge of these payments that he made to women, actually, when I was on your show, I had said to you those exact two things had come up in his initial interview with George Stephanopoulos in ABC in July.
And I said those aren`t bread crumbs. Those are loaves of bread. And that`s because those are things that I know to be true that Michael Cohen had known. So, I had no advance knowledge of the hacking situation.
Would it surprise me a person like Michael Cohen who was in Trump Tower day in and day out and had almost daily access to the president during that time would know that kind of information? No.
MADDOW: And it is your expectation, if he knows that information, he will happily provide that information to the special counsel provided that they want it?
FOX: From everything that I know, everything that I know from where Michael Cohen is, state of mind, how he feels about the president and what he wants to do going forward. If there is information that he knows that he believes will be helpful to the special counsel, there will be no hesitation in sharing it.
MADDOW: Emily Jane Fox, senior reporter for "Vanity Fair" -- Mr. Cohen is out on $500,000 bail until his sentencing in early December. I imagine, if you keep talking to him, you will continue to have some amazing reporting on this story.
Congratulations being first on so much of this, Emily.
FOX: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When Michael Cohen in open court today told the judge that he broke campaign finance law, quote, in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office, there is no great mystery of who that candidate was. But just in case, in the criminal information document that was filed by prosecutors that we got access to tonight, there was this description which leaves no doubt.
Quote: In or about January 2017, Michael Cohen began holding himself out as the personal attorney to individual one who at that point had become the president of the United States.
So, individual one, we can narrow it down.
Joining us now is Paul Fishman, former U.S. attorney for the great state of New Jersey.
Mr. Fishman, thank you very much for being here.
PAUL FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thanks for having me back.
MADDOW: Michael Cohen and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York implicated the president today explicitly in felonies -- felonies to which Mr. Cohen has himself pled guilty and for which he expects to do jail time.
What`s the difference between implicating somebody in a crime and charging them with a crime, otherwise holding them accountable for a crime?
FISHMAN: So, look, before somebody gets charged, you have to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to make that charge if you`re a federal prosecutor. And so, that`s the standard for convicting and federal prosecutors, if they`re doing their jobs right don`t actually bring charges until they have enough evidence to convict.
Michael Cohen was obviously in that circumstance. If you read what happened in court today, if you read what the prosecutors said they were prepared to prove -- if you look at the detail of the criminal information, which is basically a document that`s instead of indictment when somebody`s pleading, if you look at that document, you could see they had an enormous amount of evidence. They had an enormous amount of detail about each of the crimes which he was charge and to which he pled guilty. They may not have the quite that much yet about the president of the United States. That`s one reason.
The second is, they may be subscribing to the same view they can`t indict the president of the United States or maybe the Southern District of New York office shouldn`t be the one to make that decision. And so, the fact that the president hasn`t been charged doesn`t mean that there`s not enough evidence. It just means that maybe we`re not there yet.
What I think is clear though is because Michael Cohen allocuted to, what he admitted, is not just his own crimes, he effectively admitted to a conspiracy. That makes the president of the United States an unindicted co-conspirator.
MADDOW: And so, unindicted co-conspirator is a famous phrase because we think of the floating head of Richard Nixon appears in our minds when we think of that.
What are the material implications of that?
FISHMAN: Well, there aren`t any really. The reason that the designation is usually used is for evidentiary reasons that has to do with what statements by other people you can get into evidence under certain circumstances, the statement of unindicted co-conspirators can come at trial against a defendant sometimes.
MADDOW: Oh, it helps get around hearsay.
FISHMAN: To help you get around the hearsay. Exactly. We may have talked about this once before.
So that`s why he`s not named that way. And it actually is Justice Department policy not to give the names of people in charging documents like that who have not yet been charged, which is why the president isn`t named himself --
MADDOW: Technically he`s described within an inch of his life.
FISHMAN: Right. I think it`s also really interesting is that in the charges, it says that Cohen was working with one or more members of the campaign which may not necessarily be just the president of the United States, maybe other people, as well. So, we may see other things coming out of this afterwards. We just don`t know yet.
MADDOW: Am I also right that if the president is a de facto unindicted co- conspirator in these two felonies, that that might have implications legally if the president tried to pardon one of his alleged co- conspirators?
FISHMAN: It certainly makes it look a lot worse, I mean, right? I mean, if you have an interest in a particular case, if you have an interest in not having someone cooperate against you, if someone has evidence that would implicate you, that makes the reasons for your pardon so much more suspicious. And so, that`s why people are exercised about the idea that he would do that here.
What`s also interesting about what happened today is when Michael Cohen was asked what he did, he talked about the tax evasion, he talked about making the false statement to the bank in order to get the loan. But he also -- and then he talked about the two campaign violations.
The information, the charging document doesn`t say anything about the fact that he was directed to do this by the president. He said that on his own. He said it in what sounded to me, I wasn`t there but reading the transcript like a prepared statement.
It`s very hard for me to believe that he made that prepared statement without his lawyers having shown it to the prosecutors so that they weren`t surprised by it. And so, my guess is they knew that was coming, too.
MADDOW: It`s a remarkable, remarkable set of charges today, not only for Mr. Cohen but obviously because of what it means for the president. What it literally means for the president I guess we have yet to find out.
FISHMAN: And I don`t think the fact that the special counsel wasn`t around doesn`t mean he`s not talked to them. I mean, I think that there`s still plenty of time for that. If it turns out that later, he does cooperate, with the special counsel, the special counsel can, in fact, let the sentencing court know about the extent of that cooperation and that could help Michael Cohen come sentencing time.
MADDOW: On our air tonight, a few minutes ago, his lawyer offered to the special counsel that he`d like to talk to him about the potentially valuable stuff. So --
FISHMAN: Exactly. Exactly.
MADDOW: Paul Fishman, former U.S. attorney for the great state of New Jersey, thank you, sir. Much appreciate it.
FISHMAN: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. More ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When the president`s campaign chair faced the music today in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, he was confronted from that jury with eight counts of guilty but ten counts in which the jury didn`t come to a verdict.
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Barb, thank you very much for being with us tonight. I know that you have been like white on rice on this trial from the beginning. I`m so happy to talk to you about it tonight.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Oh, thanks. I`m glad to be here.
MADDOW: Mistrial on ten counts. Is there anything that you can tell about which verdict -- which counts the jury did give a verdict on versus the ones on which they couldn`t come to consensus that tells you about how the case against Manafort went and was received by that jury?
MCQUADE: Well, it`s hard to know exactly what was going on. We know they convicted on all of the tax counts and so that suggests that you know, that was one where they were all in agreement and didn`t have a problem with.
They did not convict on most of the FBAR accounts. This is the failure to identify foreign bank accounts. Only one of those counts. And then they acquitted on -- or were hung on a number of the bank fraud counts. They did convict on two of them.
The one that -- the significant one they did not convict on was the one out of the Federal Savings Bank out of Chicago involving Steven Calk, the one who was in discussions with Paul Manafort asking to become secretary of the treasury or secretary of the army. And one theory there is I wonder if they didn`t consider that more of an inside job because Steven Calk was involved and not solely on the hands of Paul Manafort.
So, you know, it`s hard to read exactly what`s going on. And remember, it could be just one juror who was holding out on those. But nonetheless, Paul Manafort was convicted of eight felonies and I would consider it a significant victory for the special counsel.
MADDOW: Do you expect on the ten counts on which there was a hung jury that the prosecution will try to bring those charges against Manafort again? Will they go back and try again with a different jury?
MCQUADE: I don`t know. But I would suspect not. I think they won significant convictions today with the eight. The sentence is likely to be significant with just those convictions.
And the judge is permitted to impose a sentence that includes what`s known as relevant conduct under the sentencing guidelines. So, if he finds by a preponderance of the evidence, a much lower standard than the jury had to find, that Manafort committed those additional crimes, then he is allowed to consider them in imposing sentence.
So, I don`t know that they have much to gain by retrying the case. So, if it were me, I would not. They may have other reasons they want to go forward.
MADDOW: And briefly, Barb, do you think that the special counsel`s office will go back to Manafort`s team now and talk to them again about whether he might want to flip and become a cooperating witness? Rather than face the second trial in D.C. and hopefully not have to face all those years in prison he`s looking at after those ought convictions today?
MCQUADE: I do. In fact, if I were Manafort`s lawyer I would be advising Manafort, this is your moment. I know you wanted to wait as long as possible, but this is it. This is your time. If you ever want to cooperate, now is your opportunity. Maybe you could work out a deal where the D.C. case gets dismissed, you ask for a reduced sentence in this case and you agree to cooperate.
And I think from Robert Mueller`s perspective, it would be worth it because even if Paul Manafort doesn`t have anything incriminating, I think Robert Mueller`s quest is to get to the truth and Paul Manafort certainly knows a lot of what happened. He was present at that June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower. He has all the connections with the Russians and the Ukrainians, and so it seems that he`s in a position to know a lot of what was happening with regard to any connections with Russia.
So I think we might see that.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Michigan, thank you, barb. Really good to have you here tonight.
MCQUADE: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: What a day.
That does it for us for right this second. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.