Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 3, 2018 Guest: Michael Isikoff, Michael Avenatti
LAWRENCE O`DONNEL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I`m getting the feeling I did not oversell Rudy Giuliani`s interview last night, it was happening during the same hour that you were doing your show. Now that you`ve gotten the chance to see it, I see you were as kind of enthralled by it as I was.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: There are a number of things that the president and his lawyer Mr. Giuliani are now -- copping to, maybe is the thing they`re going to say. That you would think would have to be pried out of them, you know, with the search warrant, a subpoena, you know, at least being under oath.
The fact that they`re volunteering this stuff, because they think this is the best possible foot forward with the public explaining their behavior, is mind-bending. And I don`t know where this goes from here. I don`t know what you do after you confess.
O`DONNELL: It`s funny how stories change after an FBI raid.
O`DONNELL: Suddenly, they have a new view of what happened.
MADDOW: Yes, and so they have to put a new spin on them, but they realized they have to admit to the behavior. They are spinning it as best they can.
This is a very weird time. This really does feel to me like in the movie, the plot is over, like, we know what happened, bad guys got caught, we have transparency now, we get how it all ends up. So, usually in the movie, we`re getting ready for the credits. At this point, I still think the credits are a long way off, but the story`s done.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is a very strange place to be.
MADDOW: Yes, thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
The truth about Rudy Giuliani is that he`s not really a lawyer. He just plays one on TV. I mean, he`s licensed to practice law and he used to be a real lawyer. He`s still technically a member of the bar, still has his license, but he hasn`t really worked as a lawyer since the early 1990s when he transitioned from federal prosecutor to politician.
So if you think back to something you were really good at in 1988 and have not done since, that`s how good -- that`s how good a lawyer Rudy Giuliani is, which he has been demonstrating in his Fox News appearances last night and this morning, where he has caused more legal problems for his client, President Trump, than any other lawyer involved in the president`s life so far, including Robert Mueller. Sure, Robert Mueller is probably going to create more problems for the president but as of now, as of tonight, Rudy Giuliani has publically created more problems for the president than Robert Mueller.
Rudy Giuliani isn`t really the president`s new lawyer as we`ve been calling him. He`s the president`s new legal spokesperson. His job seems to be to go on TV and take questions about the case but not necessarily answer questions about the case. The president`s real new lawyer, and he does have one, is the kind of lawyer presidents usually do have around them. Rudy Giuliani is not that kind of lawyer.
The president`s real new lawyer is Emmet Flood, who has had a distinguished legal career in a Washington powerhouse law firm, Williams & Connelly. Emmet Flood served in the White House counsel`s office in George W. Bush`s White House, and Emmet Flood has the rarest entry that exists on legal resumes in the United States of America. Emmet Flood is less than one of a half a dozen lawyers in the world who can say they worked on the legal defense of the president of the United States in an impeachment trial in the United States Senate.
Emmet Flood was one of the junior members of President Clinton`s legal defense team during his impeachment trial in the Senate. And Emmet Flood is now the lawyer who has replaced Ty Cobb, who was pushed out of the White House counsel`s office, where Emmet Flood will take up that position as the lawyer in the White House, who`s coordinating with the president`s private legal defense team, the outside legal defense team.
And you have not heard a word from Emmet Flood. You do not know what Emmet Flood`s voice sounds like. You haven`t heard a world from Emmet Flood about this case because Emmet Flood has made the choice that any serious defense lawyer, who`s a real lawyer, would make and that is, of course, the choice to say absolutely nothing.
In the meantime, Rudy Giuliani, has made the opposite choice. But if, or I suppose we should say when, the Trump case goes to the United States Supreme Court with President Trump arguing that he does not have to comply with a subpoena from special prosecutor Robert Mueller, it will be Emmet Flood who stands and speaks before the United States Supreme Court.
Rudy Giuliani will not be allowed to say a single word. Because, in the Supreme Court, even Donald Trump knows he needs a real lawyer. So the good news for the president is that he now has one lawyer with some experience on the defense side of an impeachment trial in the Senate of a president of the United States. And the bad news for the president is that he now needs a lawyer with some experience on the defense side of an impeachment trial in the Senate of the president of the United States.
It`s worth pausing right here for a moment over the exquisite irony of this. The only lawyers alive who have experience in a Senate impeachment trial of the president are Bill Clinton`s impeachment lawyers and both Donald Trump and now Rudy Giuliani have been arguing that if a lawyer has any past association with the name Clinton, that lawyer should not be allowed to be a member of Robert Mueller`s team. So, if giving $500 to a Clinton campaign sometime in your life disqualifies you from the office, how about actually defending Bill Clinton from his impeachment in the Senate?
Imagine if Robert Mueller had hired Emmet Flood, Fox News would devote an hour to the character assassination of Emmet Flood because how could he possibly be fair to Donald Trump if he was Bill Clinton`s defense lawyer in the impeachment trial? That would be the Fox News line. We`d never hear the end of it on Fox News.
Emmet Flood joining the Trump legal team proves he knows he`s lying about the unfairness of the Bob Mueller`s team. Emmet Flood proves that Rudy Giuliani knows that he`s lying about the unfairness of Bob Mueller`s team when he says things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The president right when he says witch hunt?
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER : Yes, sure. You can`t explain this any other way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Agog. Agog is a word you don`t see in newspapers often, in fact, I don`t think I`ve seen it before. It was in their report today of how people in the White House reacted to Rudy Giuliani`s performance.
Quote, the White House counsel had no idea, neither did the White House chief of staff nor the White House press secretary nor the new White House lawyer overseeing its handling of the Russia investigation. They watched agog as he freestyled on live television Wednesday night about the president`s legal troubles and unveiled an explosive new fact that Trump reimbursed his long time personal attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to ensure her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.
Rudy Giuliani went on "Fox & Friends" to try to smooth over the mountain of lies and inconsistent statements now that have been told by Donald Trump and Michael Cohen about the Stormy Daniels payment. Michael Cohen`s first statement about the Stormy Daniels payment was on February 13th which he said he was not reimbursed for the payment either directly or indirectly.
On April 5th on Air Force One, the president was asked, did you know about the payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, his answer was no. He was then asked why Michael Cohen made the payment, and the president said, you`ll have to ask Michael Cohen. And so, the Fox hosts asked Rudy Giuliani, why? Why this morning? Michael Cohen why he now said -- why he said he was not reimbursed if he really was reimbursed?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember when Michael Cohen was interviewed about it, and he -- it seemed like he was saying that he was never reimbursed that $130,000. And now, it sounds like the story is changing.
GIULIANI: He -- I mean, he`s -- he was definitely reimbursed. There`s no doubt about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, why did he say he wasn`t?
GIULIANI: Maybe -- maybe -- first of all, if we had to defend this, it`s not being a campaign contribution, I think we can do that. This was for personal reasons. The president had been hurt personally, not politically, personally so much, and the first lady by some of the false allegations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Rudy Giuliani has no answer about why the reimbursement story has changed. And we should watch for that particular technique in answering a question when he begins with maybe, maybe, and then just changes the subject. His technique when he has no answer is to just verbally wander off in some new direction. And he has a new story about when Donald Trump learned that he reimbursed Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: He didn`t know the details of this until we knew the details of it, which was a couple weeks ago, maybe not even a couple weeks, maybe ten days ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, got it. Two weeks ago. Two weeks ago was ten days after the raid of Michael Cohen`s apartment, hotel and office. So, now, we`re being asked to believe that Donald Trump didn`t know, until after the raid, that Donald Trump had already reimbursed Michael Cohen with a series of reimbursement checks that began a year before.
Rudy Giuliani believes, like most Trump associates and lawyers, that Donald Trump is completely incapable of speaking to the special prosecutor without committing a crime right before the prosecutor`s eyes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Now they go to obstruction of justice, collusion among the players. What they`re really trying to do is trap him into perjury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, so let`s talk about --
GIULIANI: And we`re not suckers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No. We`re not suckers, because we`re not going to let the president commit a crime right in front of the special prosecutor, a crime that he can only commit if the president chooses to commit the crime of perjury, because, of course, there is no such thing as a perjury trap.
A trap is something that you can`t get out of. All you have to do to avoid a perjury trap is tell the truth. Something Donald Trump`s lawyers believe he absolutely cannot do.
Joining us now, Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor, she`s a professor of law at the University of Michigan and MSNBC legal contributor. Matt Miller is with us, former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder and an MSNBC contributor, and Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News and co-author of the bestselling book, "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin`s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump".
And, Barbara, there`s so many points to go over here, and I`m happy to have you take your pick. But he`s -- working backwards from this idea of perjury trap, which is now -- this is now Rudy Giuliani`s big talking point, is that the special prosecutor is going to trap him, going to somehow force the president of the United States to commit perjury, as if Donald Trump has absolutely no control over his own ability to tell the truth.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, it`s really nonsense. The phrase perjury trap is used by prosecutors to mean calling someone before the grand jury when you have no legitimate purpose for doing so. The only reason you called them there is not that you have any legitimate questions but solely to catch them in a lie. It`s prohibited under Department of Justice policy.
Instead, there`s lots of questions that Robert Mueller wants to ask President Trump about the investigation. And it`s President Trump`s decision whether he wants to tell the truth or not. So any perjury would be in the control of the president. So, I agree with you, it`s really nonsense. There may be strategic reasons not to choose to sit down for an interview but this is no perjury trap.
O`DONNELL: And, Michael Isikoff, it seems Rudy Giuliani has not even glanced at campaign finance law. He seems to think that if Donald Trump has reimbursed Michael Cohen, then there`s no campaign finance law violation, of course, there`s plenty of violations here, none of this was reported in the campaign finance reports as it must be. But Giuliani seems to think his whole mission is to save Donald Trump from a campaign finance law violation.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, YAHOO NEWS: Well, look, the explanations from Giuliani are such a complete garble that it`s hard to know what they -- how they came to -- how he came to say what he said. What evidence he had seen. And the explanation that they only learned -- the president only learned that he had reimbursed Michael Cohen ten days ago, which is apparently what Giuliani said on "Fox & Friends" this morning, is belied by the fact that he was making the payments, you know, starting in early 2017.
And it`s -- you know, the idea the president, as president, would be writing checks to Michael Cohen without even asking why he was writing them, you know, is just, you know, defies reason.
But, you know, on the campaign finance issue, I don`t think it`s as clear cut as some people would like this to be. Remember, the Justice Department tried to -- indicted John Edwards for campaign finance violations about money paid to the woman he had impregnated, and it lost.
And I think it`s going to hinge on what sort of -- either a witness or e- mails or other communications that clearly link the payment to what`s going on in the campaign.
Yes, the timing is highly suspicious and that`s the reason we have the investigation going on, but I don`t think the timing enough is -- the timing in and of itself is enough to make a criminal case on this matter.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Rudy Giuliani said he believes Attorney General Jeff Sessions should do now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: The basis of the case is dead. Sessions should step in and close it and say enough`s enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, your reaction to that?
MATT MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think he was talking about the campaign finance case against Michael Cohen and potentially against Donald Trump, and, you know, a couple things about that. First of all, it`s not at all clear that case is dead. Obviously, the prosecutors for the southern district of New York are pursuing it aggressively.
But I think it would be a mistake to assume they are only investigating campaign finance. There`s no way that those prosecutors and those FBI agents would have raided the president`s personal attorney`s office if they weren`t looking for something more than campaign finance. And the question is, is that something having to do with Michael Cohen`s personal dealings and have nothing to do with Donald Trump or is it something to do with dealings he had with the president, back before he was president of the United States.
And for the president`s attorney to now step in and ask the attorney general -- who by the way, to the extent it is a campaign finance issue should be recused because he was a member of the campaign, to ask him to step in and quash and kill a lawfully predicated investigation is basically Rudy Giuliani asking Jeff Sessions to obstruct justice, only he`s not doing it in secret, he`s doing it in the open, just as the president does all the time when he tweets about what he wants the attorney general to do and what he wants the attorney general and deputy attorney general to stop doing.
It`s kind of this open corruption we see from the president and members of his team out in the public for everyone to see.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Rudy Giuliani said today about questions that were written by the Trump team, leaked by the Trump team as a summary of what the special prosecutor wants to ask the president. Giuliani was asked about those questions. Let`s listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Mayor, you look at the questions, they don`t think collusion is dead if you look at those 52 questions we saw.
GIULIANI: Ridiculous questions, what did you think? What did you feel? What were you dreaming? I thought Freud wrote them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade, I guess Rudy Giuliani didn`t bother to read the questions. I don`t remember any questions about the president`s dreams.
MCQUADE: Yes, well, he`s clearly trying to ridicule them as being, you know, too outside the scope of the investigation. But a couple of points with that, you know, it`s been reported that Robert Mueller`s team conveyed the topics that they wanted to talk about and it was Jay Sekulow who actually wrote out the questions themselves.
To the extent he`s criticizing the phrasing of the question, that might be coming from Jay Sekulow and not from Robert Mueller. But even if it is Robert Mueller and his team who were asking questions about what the president knew, what the president was thinking, and what the president intended, those are absolutely fair game and the critical questions that need to be asked right now because the essential element of obstruction of justice is corrupt purpose, corrupt intent, and the only way to ascertain that is to find out from President Trump himself.
This really is President Trump`s opportunity to tell his side of the story. And, you know, if he doesn`t want to avail himself of that, the time may come when Robert Mueller just moves on and moves with his case without listening to him. But it`s really important that President Trump explain his motivations behind these decisions because that`s the essence of obstruction of justice.
O`DONNELL: Giuliani is proving to be the most undisciplined public speaker and public thinker in the Trump legal team, especially when he said something about the timing of the Stormy Daniels payment this morning when he was trying to make the case that this payment had absolutely nothing to do with the presidential campaign, and then Giuliani brought up the timing of it. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Imagine if that came out on October 15th, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Isikoff, there it is. There`s the rationale for how this contribution of the Trump campaign --
ISIKOFF: That could be the evidence that prosecutors would want to use. But, look, I actually think the more serious legal issues about the disclosure about the president reimbursed Cohen gets to the fact that he didn`t disclose it on his financial disclosure form. This was in effect a loan he had gotten from Michael Cohen. Cohen puts up $130,000 in the first place, and then Trump reimburses him.
So, I actually think that may be a more serious matter than the campaign finance. But look, it all is going to depend on what the communications are between Michael Cohen and the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, and Stormy Daniels herself. Was it discussed in the context of the campaign?
O`DONNELL: Michael gets the last word in the first round tonight. Thanks for joining us tonight, Michael, really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Rudy Giuliani did something today that Donald Trump has not dared to do. Rudy Giuliani insulted Michael Avenatti. We will show you what Rudy Giuliani had to say. We`ll show you his attacks on Michael Avenatti.
And Michael Avenatti is here to respond.
O`DONNELL: This morning, Rudy Giuliani had a few things to say about my next guest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I got to bring Michael Avenatti who represents Stormy Daniels to -- he wants to get a TV show or something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He watched your interview --
GIULIANI: The TV show he can get is ambulance chaser. So, he`s trying to make up for what he thinks -- he`s trying to make money. Turned out, when you looked at it, they figure they should have gotten a lot more than $130,000, it should have been in the seven figures.
And this guy wants to -- is he going to give up his one third of it? I doubt it. I mean, he`s going to take that money and jump in the next ambulance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels.
Any reaction to Rudy Giuliani this morning?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: You know, Lawrence, the only ambulance I have chased in my nearly 18 year legal career is the one I`m chasing right now driven by Rudy Giuliani and that`s the ambulance trying to save this presidency that is about to be announced DOA.
You know, I take it, look, we`re doing a hell of a job and the best evidence is I have Rudy Giuliani and other people calling us names, calling me an ambulance chaser. The reason is because they can`t deal with the facts and the evidence and the reality of the situation that they have been caught lying to the American people, the president has been caught on Air Force One lying to the American people. Michael Cohen is about to be indicted and he`s been caught lying to the American people.
So, you know what, I hope they keep calling me an ambulance chaser because it just proves my point we`re doing a hell of a job.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to something Michael Isikoff just said at the end of the segment. He said, what if there was communication with Stormy Daniels, with Stormy Daniels counsel about getting this $130,000 settlement done when it was done because of the timing of the campaign. Are you aware of any communication with your client or your client`s counsel, in October of 2016, as they were closing this settlement agreement that involved the timing of the campaign?
AVENATTI: You know, our case has been pending almost two months and I made a lot of TV appearances and I`ve gone on a lot of shows, and I`ve been interviewed a lot of times and a lot of people have commented on that, I`ve never been asked this question, and it`s perhaps one of the most important questions and I`m going to answer it right now.
There were extensive communications between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson in October of 2016 relating to the timing of this payment and the need for the payment to be made prior to the election. Extensive communications relating to the need for the payment to be made when it was made and as it related to potential influence on the election. Period.
O`DONNELL: And Keith Davidson was then Stormy Daniels` lawyer?
AVENATTI: Correct. Everyone involved in this transaction around the time knew the importance of the payment as it related to the election. So, any claim that the payment had nothing to do with the election is completely bogus. There`s no question it had everything to do with the election.
O`DONNELL: Based on what you know, do you expect that in the FBI raid one of the things they`re going to find in e-mails or other communication systems that they have seized, do you think they will actually find some of the communication, at least, between Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels` lawyer at the time saying this timing is about the campaign?
AVENATTI: I believe that they will find that. And I hope and pray that the reports of Michael Cohen recording conversations with other parties unbeknownst to them are true, because if he recorded conversations with Keith Davidson in the month of October of 2016 relating to this, there will be no question as to whether this was done in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So if Keith Davidson within the other lawyer in this case representing Stormy Daniels is called to testify about this, Stormy Daniels can release the attorney/client privilege that Keith Davidson would otherwise be held by and he can be allowed to answer questions about what exactly Michael Cohen said.
AVENATTI: That`s correct. Depending on the question and whether the privilege has been waived, et cetera. And as I`ve said in the past, we`re going to cooperate -- we are cooperating with the U.S. attorney`s office in the Southern District of New York in connection with their investigation.
But, Lawrence, I want to be clear, there was never any question this had anything to do with the 2016 presidential election, and any claim it was just a coincidence or the timing doesn`t prove or doesn`t amount to proof that this had something to do with the election is complete and utter nonsense.
O`DONNELL: Well, this completely wipes out what Rudy Giuliani was trying to say today even though when he was trying to say it, he himself got it wrong, saying imagine -- imagine what would happen if this came out in October of 2016, and what you`re telling us tonight is there was an hyper awareness on Michael Cohen`s part that his job, the job he was trying to do was to make sure this story was hidden during the presidential campaign in order to benefit the presidential campaign?
AVENATTI: There`s no question about that. Look, Rudy Giuliani at one time was a really good lawyer, at one time was a really good mayor. He`s no longer ready for prime time.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he`s been out of it since 1988, in terms of lawyering, anyway.
But I just need to -- this really is a breaking news event here with you telling us that you are aware -- I want to make sure we have this straight. You are aware of clear and convincing evidence that Michael Cohen was communicating with Stormy Daniels` lawyer at the time about the urgency of getting this settlement and this payment done in October of 2016 because it needed to be done because of the presidential campaign?
O`DONNELL: That`s it. Michael Cohen has added now a completely new dimension to this story. This is going to be fascinating to see how the Trump legal team responds to this, because this makes everything that one could ask for, in terms of the elements necessary to define this as a campaign contribution.
AVENATTI: Absolutely, Lawrence. And if the president is watching, if you`d like to go on "Fox & Friends" tomorrow morning, together with Mr. Giuliani, I would encourage you to do that, please spend a lot of time there because we certainly would appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: It`s going to be fascinating to see what their answer is to this.
Michael Avenatti, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
AVENATTI: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And thank you for the breaking news you just created here. I really appreciate it.
We`ll have more from this breaking news from Michael Avenatti when we come back.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We are back now with more on the breaking news that Michael Avenatti just created right here on this program when he said that he has extensive evidence that the timing of the payment to Stormy Daniels in October of 2016 was based on the Presidential campaign and that Michael Cohen communicated that directly to Stormy Daniels lawyer at the time.
Joining our legal discussion now with reaction to this Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton. And back with us Barbara McQuade and Michael Avenatti is back with us.
And Michael, I just want you to repeat. We have two former federal prosecutors here. Repeat what you know about the evidence of the motivation for the timing of the payment Michael Cohen and Donald Trump`s motivation for the timing of the payment.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: There were extensive discussions in October of 2016 when this was being negotiated relating to the fact that the payment had to be made prior to -- or well in advance of the Presidential election, the 2016 Presidential election.
So this whole idea that the payment had nothing to do with the timing associated with the election or happened to just be a coincidence is completely bogus. Everybody and their brother knew it had to do with the election. It had everything to do with make sure nothing was disclosed prior to the election. It had everything to do with the payment and the receipt of the money prior to the election, period.
O`DONNELL: Harry Litman, I have every confidence that we are going to see that evidence as a product of the FBI raid because or otherwise because based the way I have seen Michael Avenatti conduct himself in the case, I have ever reason to believe what he is saying is true.
What is this evidence when and if revealed, what does it do to the claim this was not a campaign finance violation?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know, (INAUDIBLE) out of the water. The first thing it does is bring Cohen himself a giant step toward a campaign finance violation and puts the lie to his claim that this was just a sort of a favor for a friend and he was concerned about the effect on his wife. But now you add into that what Giuliani said yesterday, which basically, you know, he was trying to do a delicate dance, but he is no Fred Astaire (ph). And the implications of what he said is to make Trump much more likely to be aware of what was going on with the payments and that means if there`s strong evidence that they were to influence the campaign, that brings Trump a giant step toward co-conspirator liability for the very same crimes.
O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade your reaction as a former prosecutor on what you have heard Michael Avenatti say tonight that there will be revealed he has his whereof evidence that Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels` lawyer at the time participated in discussions about how important the timing of the payment was for the Presidential campaign?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, I think it`s very significant because I think one of the things you have to prove is that the payment was designed to influence the election, that`s why it was a campaign violation, and not for some other purpose. And getting it done before the election suggests that that was the very purpose.
And you know, that statement is consistent with other things we know. The timing just on its face suggested some suspicion there. But the comments by Rudy Giuliani about you couldn`t have this revealed on the eve of the debate, on the eve of the election, who would that be used against President Trump, especially after the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape. And so I think this is substantial evidence that would show that this was indeed a campaign finance payment that was made as opposed to a payment for come other purpose.
I don`t know that we will see this evidence anytime soon. You don`t ordinarily get to see the evidence that comes out of a search warrant. But no doubt at some point the prosecutors will have this information and can utilized it to build a charge against Michael Cohen or Harry said perhaps even against President Trump himself.
AVENATTI: Well, let us remember that we are not necessarily only talking about the evidence from the search warrant because I am her subsequent counsel. So in connection with my role as her subsequent counsel, I have undertaken efforts to obtain all communications and documents relating to Mr. Davidson`s prior representation of my client.
Now, we haven`t received everything yet but we have received a lot of information. And I have also had conversations with various individuals relating to that representation. So when I make these statements it isn`t me out there hanging it out. You know, I`m not pulling a Giuliani, OK. I`m pulling an Avenatti. And when you pull an Avenatti, you actually have facts and evidence to back up what you state as opposed to some nonsense that you go out on FOX and try to peddle to the American people. So let`s be clear, I`m pulling an Avenatti. And when you do that, you actually a factual basis and evidence to back up your statements.
O`DONNELL: And just for the audience`s understanding, you touched on this, but when a lawyer takes over a case from another lawyer, especially a civil matter, one of the routines is just handing over the case file. It`s very routine for the former lawyer to say here is everything we have on it. So the likelihood of you having a lot or most of this already, the evidence that you are talking about is actually very high. You wouldn`t necessarily, as you say, be dependent on the fruits of that FBI raid.
AVENATTI: Correct, 100 percent.
O`DONNELL: And Harry, given there are the two tracks here that we can never forget about Michael Avenatti`s own ability to exact discovery in a variety of directions about this and knowing that the FBI raid has also probably collected some evidence to the effect that Michael Avenatti is talking about here tonight, where does Rudy Giuliani go now? The next time he wants to say this timing was coincidental, the next time anybody on that team wants to say the timing had nothing to do with the campaign.
LITMAN: Yes, I -- you know, really what he is trying to do, this sort of two-step dance because he is worried, also, about exposure in the Stormy Daniels case. But what he has managed to do, as best I can tell, is increase the President`s exposure on both sides because with this sort of added gloss that oh, but the President really didn`t know -- he did know, but he didn`t know. That is precarious for having the President having defrauded the -- Stormy Daniels and walks into Avenatti`s claims right there. You know, it looks like there`s a scenario where he gets the worst of both worlds.
I do want to add, you know, this has not typically been something that`s been vigorously prosecuted by the FEC. And I think Michael Isikoff mentioned the difficulty with the Edwards case but when you tie this all together, it begins to look so nefarious it`s less the underlying campaign finance violations and all the machinations to really keep it from the American people that really does seem to make the case seem, you know, righteous and prosecution worthy.
O`DONNELL: How long have you been in possession of evidence indicating the motivation of this timing?
AVENATTI: A while.
O`DONNELL: OK. A while. Michael Avenatti gets the Last Word in this segment. Thank you very much for joining us, Michael. Really appreciate it. Barbara McQuade thank you for joining us.
And when we come back, what does it feel like to go before Robert Mueller`s team for questioning? Someone just did it and says it`s pretty scary.
O`DONNELL: So one of the thing Donald Trump has surely been wondering about, worrying about, is what does it feel like to face the questions that President Trump would get from Robert Mueller`s team if the President sat down for an interview and they closed the door and the President sat there with his lawyers and with all those lawyers and investigators on the other side of the table, what would that be like?
Well Michael Caputo did exactly that yesterday. Michael Caputo is a former Trump campaign official who submitted to an interview with the Mueller team and everything Michael Caputo said about being in that room with the Mueller team must have sounded very, very scary to Donald Trump and his lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN OFFICIAL: I don`t think they are convinced yet that there is no Russian collusion. The Mueller team knew more about what I did in 2016 than I knew myself. And I think they know more about the Trump campaign than anyone that ever worked there. These guys have got every single email, anything that`s ever gone down. And they are clearly focused on trying to identify some Russian collusion.
I would say the Mueller team is spear fishing. I think they believe they know where they are going. They are not asking a wide-range of questions that seem to be, you know, unrelated. They know exactly what they are looking for. Anybody whose name is in the mouth of the Mueller investigation is in peril, I think. These folks are really focused on bringing somebody in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: These folks are really focused on bringing somebody in, wonder who that could be. When we come back, more about interviews with the Mueller team.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S LAWYER: We have to go there and prepare him for this silly deposition about a case in which he supposedly colluded with the Russians but there`s no evidence of that? I mean everybody forgets the basis of the case is dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody thinks Russia collusion is off the table, they haven`t visited with the Mueller team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Back with us, Harry Litman and Matt Miller.
And Matt Miller, there we have Caputo, who has just visited with the Mueller team saying they are pressing on collusion. They have definitely still investigating collusion.
MATT MILLER, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CHIEF SPOKESMAN: Yes. They absolutely are despite the President`s repeated insistence that all they are looking at is obstruction, as if obstruction is not a serious crime in itself. I think one of the important things that people lose sight of in this case, you know, when special counsel first started rolling out indictments and guilty pleas on October 30th through the indictment of Pau Manafort and Rick Gates and the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos, he started this kind of steady tempo of activity in court where every few weeks you would get a new indictment or a new guilty plea, up until February 23rd, when Rick Gates pled guilty.
And since then we have had really the longest period in this case of no new activity. Almost two-and-a-half months now of no new guilty pleas, no new indictments from the special counsel. It`s very clear that the next big thing that`s coming is at least hacking of -- or is at least indictments of Russians for hacking, and you have to think that the piece he is trying to put together is the American side of it, the conspiracy piece, the questions about Roger Stone, who still has not been in to talk to the special counsel, which leads you to believe he`s a target status. Donald Trump Jr., still not been in to talk to the special counsel. Would lead you to the same conclusion. It is very much a live part of this investigation. If I was the President or anyone in a senior rank of that campaign, I would be very concerned about it.
O`DONNELL: Harry Litman, Michael Caputo saying, having been a witness, meeting with the special prosecutor yesterday, saying things like they know exactly what they are looking for and the Mueller team knew more about what I did in 2016 than I knew myself. That sounds to me like the kind of investigative team that I have heard other people experience in other investigations in different places in the country when they go in there and a team of solid, professional federal prosecutors are ready for them. It always feels like they know more about me than I do.
LITMAN: Yes. But I would say this is, you know, even more. This is probably the finest prosecutorial team ever assembled. They are extremely diligent, methodical, not flashy. So when those people come into the witness room, they confront agents and attorneys who have binders like this with maybe 150 documents behind them that they know completely cold, and they will refer to during the course of the questioning it is brutal.
They have figured out everything in advance that they want to say. And of course they, this is the problem for Trump as well. They have a wealth of information from other witnesses including cooperating witnesses. And the person in the hot seat doesn`t know what that is. This is really a professional operation that justifiably will terrify people who are on the other side of the chair.
O`DONNELL: And Matt Miller, the legal team for everyone involved trying to defend these people does not know what the special prosecutor has. And Michael Avenatti just really highlighted that kind of thing tonight when it turns out Michael Avenatti has known for some time that there is extensive communication about the timing of the payment to Stormy Daniels at the time, saying that this is about the campaign. That`s what Michael Cohen was telling Stormy Daniels` lawyer then. And no one knew that Michael Cohen was telling Stormy Daniels` lawyer that. And for, you know, Rudy Giuliani probably did not know until tonight that Michael Cohen was telling Stormy Daniels` lawyer that then.
MILLER: Yes, that`s exactly right. For each one of these witnesses, if they are getting ready for these interviews and their attorneys are getting ready for them, they have access to their emails. They have access to their own documents and obviously, have access to their own recollections. But they don`t know other documents that the special counsel has retained - - obtained. They don`t know what other witnesses have told the special counsel about meetings that they sat in. So they go in prepared to give their version of events. But when they are confronted with other pieces of evidence that they are not aware, it can be very unsettling.
And I think one of the things to remember, you know, Harry talked about this being such a great prosecutorial team. He is absolutely right. I worked with a number of these people. I`m sure Harry did as well. And they are really a DOJ all-star team. And when you look at the caliber of that team versus the caliber of the people on the other side, let`s remember this was not the top tier of Republican talent that was working on the Trump campaign. These were kind of cast offs and has beens and collections of people who, you know, on their good day are not at their best. Going and facing that team is a tough, tough, challenge for them.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, Harry Litman, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Here`s something we haven`t done before. Tonight`s LAST WORD goes to Michael Avenatti. We are going to show you the breaking news that he delivered in this hour as a guest on this program about the communication between Donald Trump`s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Stormy Daniels` then lawyer Keith Davidson when they were arranging the payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016 of that $130,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AVENATTI: There were extensive communications between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson in October of 2016 relating to the timing of this payment and the need for the payment to be made prior to the election. Extensive communications relating to the need for the payment to be made when it was made and as it related to potential influence on the election, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Avenatti gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
There will be more analysis of this breaking news from Michael Avenatti on THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS, which starts now.