Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: May 8, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti, Mimi Rocah
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And we heard Michael Avenatti say "we're just getting started" several times in the past. And so, and each time, there was something more that came out in the case that he's been pursuing. And that one is really a rabbit out of the hat, because I'm not aware of any actual formal discovery mechanisms that are already under way in his lawsuit for Stormy Daniels that could have obtained this information.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Right.
O'DONNELL: So, it's really striking to see, and it's been confirmed by "The New York Times."
MADDOW: Yes. And that was -- I mean, you're to be talk to him. I do not want to delay you. But when this came out today, everybody's reaction was one, what does it say? And two, how could he possibly know this? How could he obtain this information?
And so, that's why it became -- it's always important to get corroborating news, right? But when "The New York Times" and NBC News both came out and said that both those news organizations had obtained financial documents that corroborated what Avenatti was claiming, that makes this not just intriguing, that makes this really, really important. And I am dying to see what he has to say to you about it tonight.
O'DONNELL: Any technique, suggestions about how I can drag out of him how he got this stuff? He is sitting right beside me. So, just whisper here.
MADDOW: So, you're better at getting stuff out of people than I am, my friend. Just don't be distracted. Be you, Lawrence. Be you.
O'DONNELL: All right. I'm going to stay with it. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, dear.
O'DONNELL: When Michael Cohen set up a Delaware-based LLC called Essential Consultants LLC on October 17th, 2016, ten days later, Michael Cohen funneled $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels through Essential Consultants LLC to buy her silence about the story she had already told and would tell again this year about the night she had sex with Donald Trump, four months after his last child was born, complete with the detail of spanking Donald Trump with a magazine that had Donald Trump and some of his other children on some of the cover.
The only other thing we know Michael Cohen used Essential Consultants LLC for was another hush money payment to another woman to protect another rich man. The woman being paid was Ms. November in "Playboy" magazine in 2010. And the man being protected by her silence was Los Angeles multimillionaire Elliott Broidy, a close friend of Donald Trump's. Michael Cohen negotiated a payment of $1.6 million to Ms. November, allegedly so that she would remain silent about an affair with the long married Elliott Broidy, which reportedly resulted in a pregnancy that ended with an abortion.
"The Wall Street Journal" reported on April 15th that Michael Cohen's total fee for negotiating that hush money agreement was $250,000 with a first payment of $62,500 to Essential Consultants LLC, and a second payment of $187,500 directly to Mr. Cohen, but that payment was after "The Wall Street Journal" had revealed in January that Michael Cohen had used Essential Consultants LLC to pay Stormy Daniels.
So, the only thing we have known Michael Cohen and his Essential Consultants LLC to be involved with is sex, sex that rich men that don't want their wives or anyone else to find out about, until tonight.
Thanks to Stormy Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, we now know that Michael Cohen has used Essential Consultants LLC for much, much more than sex hush money deals. An investigative summary prepared by Michael Avenatti and his law firm released this evening says that Michael Cohen used Essential Consultants LLC to, quote, engage in suspicious financial transactions totaling $4,425,033.46.
And joining us now is Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels, who has released this today.
Michael, we all studied this document of yours when it came out today with these lists of payers basically into Essential Consultants LLC. How did you assemble this list?
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Carefully.
O'DONNELL: But, as I said, I'm not aware that your lawsuit with Stormy Daniels has reached a discovery stage where a court is approving you issuing subpoenas to Michael Cohen to reveal this kind of information to you, which would become available to you eventually in this kind of lawsuit. So I expected you were going to get here. I don't -- I can't imagine how you got here now.
AVENATTI: Well, Lawrence, this is not your average case, number one, as I think we've talked about in the past. And number two, you know, we have a lot of tools in our tool box that we use in connection with cases. And we have worked diligently for many, many months relating to this case long before we filed the case, relating to making sure we had our ducks in a row before we filed the case.
And, you know, look, I've made some bold predictions over the course of this case. I think a number of those have come true. I pride myself on under-promising and over-delivering. And I think we've proven ourselves in that regard.
We stand behind everything we put in that executive summary 100 percent. We understand the magnitude of the accusations and what was being put in that document when we compiled it. It was double and triple checked. And now, we're having independent news organizations vouch the accuracy of what we've stated.
And it's all is there. It's all 100 percent accurate. And by the way, to the extent that Mr. Trump or Michael Cohen has information that contradicts what we've put in our executive summary, let them come forward. Let them release it.
In fact, you know, I'm going to -- I'll place a challenge right now. Michael Cohen, if you're watching this, authorize your attorneys to release the bank statements, the source documentation from this account to the American people, to the media, so that people can get to the bottom of this.
And to the extent that we haven't been accurate about something, then they can prove it up. But, Lawrence, that's not going to happen because they want to hide the information from the American people because it's only going to get more ugly the more information that comes out. The number to the $4.4 million number is only going to get bigger.
And I mean, this thing is a pig. And they can try to put lipstick on a pig, tonight, next week, next month, but it's still going to be a pig. This thing is ugly, and it's going to get worse for the president and for Michael Cohen.
And it doesn't matter how many times they send out Rudy Giuliani to call us names and call me an ambulance chaser and do everything in his power to distract away from the facts. The facts are ugly. These are facts.
O'DONNELL: In your executive summary, as you call it, of all of this money going in and out of the LLC, you identify Viktor Vekselberg as this Russian billionaire who is behind a big flow of money into the LLC. Describe that point that you're making.
AVENATTI: Between January of 2017 and approximately August of (AUDIO GAP) Russian oligarch with significant (AUDIO GAP) Vladimir Putin utilized an entity that he has control over, a U.S.-based entity that is wholly owned by a Russian parent company to funnel approximately a half million dollars to Michael Cohen, the personal attorney, at the right hand of the president of the United States, who at the time -- at least during a significant period of that time not only held himself out as the personal attorney to the president but also was employed by the Trump Organization.
Now, the big question is this: all this money comes into this account, this Essential Consultants LLC. We have reason to believe that it didn't all go to Michael Cohen individually. Michael Cohen needs to disclose where the balance of that money went.
And if it went to Donald Trump or the Trump Organization, and if Michael Cohen was part of a scheme to sell access to the president of the United States, that would be rather -- a rather shocking development. But I don't think that that is out of the realm of possibility at this point.
Lawrence, let me say this, we know for a fact that there were three what are called suspicious (AUDIO GAP) by First Republic Bank with the Treasury Department relating to this account, relating to the activity in the account from October 27th of 2016, which is the payment of $130,000 to my client, all the way up to approximately January of this year. The Treasury Department and the secretary to the treasury should immediately release those suspicious activity reports to the American people and to the media. They deserve to see them. They are on file, and we have demanded that they'd be released previously. They have refused to release them.
We believe this is part of a continued cover-up by the administration because they don't want the American people to know what the right hand of the president, Michael Cohen, was doing in and out of this account. They don't want the American people to know about the truth about the $130,000 payment. They don't want the American people to know about the close ties to Russia and others.
And enough is enough. They ought to release these suspicious activity reports. And the American people should demand it -- tonight, tomorrow, and next week until it happens. We want this released.
And, Lawrence, let me say this. If there is nothing to hide here, and if it was all aboveboard and it's all legit, which is what Rudy Giuliani and others want you to believe, then the documents will prove that out.
People lie. Documents don't. Period.
O'DONNELL: The American-based company that you say was basically funneling money possibly from the Russian oligarch disputes what you've said. And I'm going to come to that in a moment.
But I want to go back over something you just said, because I haven't heard anything about this before from you, and it was not in your executive summary. You talked about the possibility -- where that $500,000 went. You're now talking about where the money that came in to the LLC went. And you're indicating that you have reason to believe it was distributed beyond just Michael Cohen.
Does the LLC have any employees?
AVENATTI: Other than Michael Cohen who I don't think technically is an employee, we're not aware of any employees at the LLC.
O'DONNELL: And that's typical of LLCs. It's very common that they don't have any employees, especially when they're shell likes this for moving money.
O'DONNELL: But Michael Cohen is only the person we know with a formal association with that LLC, isn't he?
AVENATTI: That's true.
O'DONNELL: So when you say you have reason to believe that the money that went into this LLC went to people or a person other than Michael Cohen, and you made a reference to it possibly being the president of the United States, are you suggesting that you have information, that the money that went into that LLC found its way to Donald Trump?
AVENATTI: No. But we don't know one way or the other.
Here's what I believe. A significant sum of money came in to the LLC during the time period of October 2016 until January at a minimum of this year. OK? A lot of money came into the LLC, far beyond the $500,000. Far beyond the money that Novartis paid. Far beyond the money that AT&T paid.
We do not believe that all of the expenditures, subsequent expenditures by the LLC or outflows of the money, we do not believe all of that went to Michael Cohen. We believed that that is really the issue at this point.
I mean, it's not only about the money that was received. It's where did the money go, OK? The old adage, follow the money. That's what this is really about.
O'DONNELL: And just to be clear, where the money went is not in your executive summary tonight. That's another stage of this investigation that you're working on.
AVENATTI: Maybe we're just getting started.
O'DONNELL: That's what I'm saying. Is that the next stage we would expect?
AVENATTI: Well, I don't want to telegraph the next stage.
AVENATTI: But we haven't emptied -- we haven't emptied all of our -- all of our cards.
O'DONNELL: OK. I want to get into this dispute now with Columbus Nova. That is the American-based company that "The New York Times" is reporting tonight their biggest client is the Russian oligarch that you're talking about, Viktor Vekselberg.
And so, they issued this statement tonight in response to what you've released today saying: Columbus Nova is a management company solely owned and controlled by Americans. After the inauguration, the firm hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures. Reports today that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false.
The claim that Viktor Vekselberg was involved or provided any funding of Columbus Nova's engagement of Michael Cohen is patently untrue. Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone its other than Columbus Nova's owners were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provide funding for his engagement.
AVENATTI: You want me to react to that?
AVENATTI: Well, you know what's interesting is, is that they haven't disclosed, A, how much they paid Michael Cohen. B, why did they hire Michael Cohen? C, why did they start paying Michael Cohen in January of 2017 through approximately August or September of 2017? They don't discuss the oligarch's cousin who is the CEO of the entity.
O'DONNELL: Right. And he is an American citizen now, the oligarch's cousin.
AVENATTI: I think he has dual citizenship.
O'DONNELL: OK. So that's one way they get to claim that it is totally American owned.
AVENATTI: Right. I mean, look, of all the real estate consulting enterprises or businesses and individuals in New York, and as you know, there is a lot of real estate here in New York, of all the people you could hire for that and all the people that you could hire for potential capital investment, they just happen to hire Michael Cohen? I guess because he instills such confidence in individuals when he communicates with them.
I mean, when are they going to disclose what they hired this guy for, why they paid him half million dollars?
We now have AT&T. They issued a statement that they paid Michael Cohen $200,000 for I believe they said insight into the administration. I found that to be rather interesting. I guess, in order to gain insight into the administration, I guess you to pay $200,000. Maybe that helps explain why the American people don't have a lot of insight into the administration because most of them can't afford $200,000 for it. But I digress.
But separate and apart from that, Lawrence, look, there is no question that this has all the markings of a pay-to-play type scenario, OK? If we were talking about a U.S. mayor, a mayor --
O'DONNELL: And, certainly, by the way, the AT&T payments which we have here. We can put on the board. AT&T, four -- you've reported four payments of $50,000 each on a monthly basis. And that looks to me like not an unusual amount for retaining a lobbyist to deal with the new administration. Michael Cohen never registered as a lobbyist.
O'DONNELL: AT&T had giant lobbying issues with this administration because this president had said he was opposed to the merger that AT&T wanted to engage in. And so, they had plenty of reason to try to find who can influence this president.
AVENATTI: Well, and AT&T has confirmed the payments contained in our report, OK? So that just further adds to the accuracy. I think AT&T's statement is accurate. I think they paid the money to Michael Cohen probably because he suggested to AT&T that he could provide access to the president and could act as a lobbyist or basically someone that could shepherd whatever their cause was at the time through to the president.
But he is not registered as a lobbyist. He didn't make the requisite disclosures as a lobbyist. And by the way, let's not forget that this is a candidate, this is a president who ran on this whole candidacy of draining the swamp and how the lobbyists were going to be closed out of the process and they weren't going to be allowed into the White House anymore. And meanwhile, you find out Michael Cohen who had an office next to Donald Trump in Trump tower for many, many years, and this guy appears to be selling access to the president of the United States.
And so, now, we look at, where that money go? Did some of it go back to the Trump organization? Was it all provided to Michael Cohen? I don't think it was. And what did the president know about it?
And why did the president allow his personal attorney -- and by the way, this is not his former personal attorney, Lawrence. You've shown the clip many times. I've sat here. We've talked about it.
In April this year, the president stood on Air Force One and he referred people to his attorney. And he said Michael Cohen is my attorney. Not was my attorney, not used to be my attorney, not was my attorney back in 2016. He said that he is his attorney.
So, this is a guy that's starting in about 2006 or '07 served as personal attorney to the president of the United States, all the way up until about April of this year. So this entire time period that he is receiving this money, the half a million dollars, the money from AT&T, the money from Novartis, all of this money into this Essential Consultants LLC, the entire time he is the personal attorney to the president of the United States.
He's not making any disclosure about it. He is not registering as a lobbyist. He hasn't provided any explanation for it.
Lawrence, the bottom line is this: the American people are really smart. This thing stinks. They know it. We know it. They need to come clean about it.
O'DONNELL: You've made a reference to the payments from Novartis, which are the strangest looking payments in the entire list when you look at them.
AVENATTI: I agree with you. Your instincts are spot on.
O'DONNELL: We're going get to those in a moment. It's a pharmaceutical company.
But I want to stay on something you've been raising and you've been raising repeatedly, and that is, where did the money go? And what I hear you suggesting is where the money went is a much, much dirtier story than where the money came from.
AVENATTI: Well, we don't know yet. I mean, look, let's take a step back. We don't know whether it's dirty or not. But the whole thing appears to be dirty.
And Michael Cohen can clear this up immediately. All they have to do is just, you know, post the bank statements from this account that show all the inflows and all the outflows. And we're not talking about a lot of documents, by the way. You know, Rudy Giuliani went on the news the other day and said there is 1.2 million pages of documents relating to the Stormy Daniels case.
That's a bunch of nonsense. There is not 1.2 million pages of documents. It's a pretty straight forward case we're dealing with.
So, bank statements -- we're talking about bank statements from October of '16 through April of this year. I mean, that's not that many. How many pages is that? They should just post those 30 or 50 PDF pages and post them on twitter, right?
The president likes to tweet. They can post them on Twitter and everybody can look through them. And if there is nothing there, everybody will say, oh, you know what? That Avenatti character, he doesn't know what he is talking about. None of the items in the executive summary checked out. It's a bunch of nonsense, and, you know, I'll go back to California and you'll never hear from me again.
So, that's what they should do if they in fact they have nothing to hide. But guess what? You know what? I'm highly confident they're not going to provide these bank statements.
O'DONNELL: I think we're going to hear from you again. $99,980 is the strangest amount. And it appears in your summary --
AVENATTI: Just by coincidence.
O'DONNELL: And it appears repeatedly. It's from a pharmaceutical company. We're going find out about that one when we come back from a break.
We'll be right back.
O'DONNELL: We have primary election news out of West Virginia. NBC news projects West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey as the winner in the Republican Senate primary.
Steve Kornacki will join us later in the hour with more.
And we are back with Michael Avenatti. Joining the discussion now, Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor. She is a fellow at Pace University Law School.
And David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and co-author of the new bestseller "Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump." He is also an MSNBC political analyst.
And let's just begin, Michael Avenatti, with the $99,980 you show monthly payments from Novartis to Michael Cohen's LLC totaling $399,920. We have a statement tonight from that pharmaceutical company. That's company that of everyone who has been revealed making payments to Michael Cohen in your report today, this is the company that seems most completely embarrassed by it.
Their statement is simply: Any agreements with essential consultants were entered before our current CEO taking office in February of this year and have expired.
So, that's one company that's not at all proud of what they were doing there, and I'm sure we're going hear from them what they were doing there.
AVENATTI: Well, I -- you may be sure of that. I'm not sure of that. It sounds like they're not interested in talking about what the purpose of these payments was or even acknowledging exactly what they were buying from Michael Cohen.
But, look, and you put your finger on it, Lawrence. $99,980, I don't think that's a coincidence that it's $20 less than $100,000 even number. It looks like they were trying to avoid some kind of corporate reporting requirement or some regulation required.
O'DONNELL: It was some kind of $100,000 threshold in their accounting system that they didn't want to go over.
AVENATTI: There is no question. And look, this whole thing doesn't make any sense.
So all of the sudden, beginning in 2017, after Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, Michael Cohen becomes an expert, an expert in the following. Business and real estate consulting, capital raising on behalf of the oligarch entity.
Novartis, evidently, he is a pharmaceutical expert now we find out. He is an expert on access to the -- or insight into the administration. We already know he is a phenomenal attorney. That's been well established over the last two month, especially as it relates to drafting contracts and NDAs. Of course, I'm being sarcastic.
I mean, this man is a renaissance man. He had a birthing in January of 2017 as a renaissance man. I mean, this guy is truly remarkable. He is the Leonardo da Vinci of our time.
O'DONNELL: David Corn, you're the expert on these Russian oligarchs who keep showing up in our reporting, and Michael Avenatti's report today about how one Russian oligarch anyway may have funneled money to Michael Cohen's LLC.
What's your reaction?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, first, I congratulate Michael for crossing streams and bringing together the Stormy Daniels scandal with the Trump Russia scandal. I think we have total convergence tonight. So thank you for doing that, Michael.
But, you know, to me, the two things that stand out here. One, you were talking a minute ago about Viktor Vekselberg's American company Columbus Nova, and the company saying that they're American. They have nothing to do with Vekselberg.
Well, as it turns out, a year ago we at "Mother Jones" wrote about Vekselberg in this company. At that time on their Website they were listed as a subsidiary of Renova, which is Viktor Vekselberg's company. So, if you go back in the wayback machine, you can find not too far back, not too way back that they were listed as a subsidiary.
And to me, the interesting thing is we wrote about Vekselberg at the time because the president of the American subsidiary, who is an American citizen, happens to be the cousin of Viktor Vekselberg, had given a quarter million to the Trump inauguration campaign and $35,000 to the Trump campaign and the RNC.
Now, we looked at this guy. He had never given more than a couple hundred dollars, a couple thousand dollars in very mundane political contributions, never a lot. Now, all of the sudden, with Trump in the office, he is giving a quarter million.
And to me, it's interesting because in Michael's report, he notes that the money came to Michael Cohen through this American company, through the cousin of Viktor Vekselberg. That's exactly how the money got to the Trump inauguration committee and the RNC. So, if I'm Robert Mueller now, I'm sure he is already doing this. He is far ahead of us.
I'm looking at whether the Russians are funneling money, direct money, political money to the Trump campaign and the RNC. .
O'DONNELL: And, Mimi, what David just laid out for us is a clear road map of what might have come Robert Mueller's way and what he saw in that that he should refer up here to the Southern District of New York where you used to work as a prosecutor. What are they look at tonight in the assistant U.S. attorneys who are studying these files and already have the information?
And we know they already had the information that you released tonight, right? They've got to have had it because they had to be in the raid and they had to have other ways of getting it.
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right. This isn't new to the investigators although it is new to us. We're all pointing out there are a lot of coincidences here that are popping up all over the place, and prosecutors don't believe in coincidences. They look for how to explain those, and that's what the investigators are doing right now.
And they are following the money. I know we've said that 100 times. But here it's really following the money. Where did the money come from? Did it come from an American citizen or was that really a way of funneling money from the Russians, as David said?
Where did the money go, as we've been discussing? We don't know the answer to that yet. And what was the money for? What were people paying for? Was this repayment for something that Trump and his team did or promised during the campaign? Was it, you know, just to get access to Trump? I mean, these are all the kind of questions they are asking. And those answers we don't know yet, but those are going to determine whether there are chargeable crimes here or not.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The idea of the company like Novartis is going to get through tomorrow without having to answer questions on CNBC, by business reporters, the SEC is going to want to know what this money was for. And certainly, the prosecutors in the southern district of New York have already no doubt gotten someone from Novartis to explain to them what was this money for.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' LAWYER: Well, I mean I hope that's the case. I would agree with you that that's likely. But you know, as I was sitting here and as I was listening, you know, I had to hearken back to something. Isn't Donald Trump the individual that has been widely known as having an aversion in fact he gets very upset about people trying to make money off of him?
AVENATTI: Without his consent, right? Without his approval? He does not like -- he has been notorious for this as a guy that doesn't like people trading on his name. Well, I don't think Michael Cohen was trading his own talents for all this money, Lawrence.
So, I mean, are we to believe that Donald Trump did not know that his right-hand close personal attorney Michael Cohen was engaging in these transactions with all of these entities? Donald Trump was in the dark? Michael Cohen never told Donald Trump? Donald Trump never got a piece of the action?
Because I'm going to tell you that when Michael Cohen is charged, and there is no question -- there is absolutely zero question in my mind he is going to be charged. But when he is charged, I can assure you that one of the critical pieces of inquiry will be what did Donald Trump know about these payments? What was the arrangement, if any? Was he in on it? Did he get a piece of the action? If he knew about it, what did he do to shut it down? I mean, this is going to be a treasure trove. And you can speak to this better than I can because I don't have the experience. You do. But this is going to be a treasure trove potentially of inquiry.
O'DONNELL: OK. Quickly, we have to go to a break. But because of what Michael Avenatti just said, what I just heard him describing, you are the prosecutor here, but what I heard him describing the concept that At&T is paying, say, $50,000 a month or any amount a month to Michael Cohen and Donald Trump as has a piece of that, or Novartis is paying $100,000 a month and Donald Trump has a piece of that, what I just heard in that description were the elements of bribery. Is that what I was just hearing?
ROCAH: It could be. It depends. Just paying for access wouldn't be enough right now.
O'DONNELL: But if a piece of the payment for access goes back to the office holder, people go to jail for that?
ROCAH: Yes. But you would need to know that they were getting something in return, basically. Even assuming the money went directly to Donald Trump.
But you are right. I mean, these are all the things that they are trying to figure out. What did Donald Trump know and when did he know it.
AVENATTI: And Lawrence, this is why the public integrity section of the U.S. attorney's office, right, a lot of people have speculated over the last -- once it was disclosed, once the raid happen, a lot of people speculated why does the public integrity section of the U.S. attorney's office in SDNY have this? And I would assert that this is probably why they have it.
O'DONNELL: All right. We are going to have to squeeze in a break right here. And we will be right back.
O'DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Democratic congressman Jim Himes from Connecticut. He is the member of the House intelligence committee.
And congressman Himes, I want to get your reaction to what Michael Avenatti has revealed today and what he calls an executive summary of the funds going in to the LLC that was created by Michael Cohen. We thought initial I will only to pay the $130,000 settlement to Stormy Daniels. We now discover through Michael Avenatti that $4.5 million has moved through that LLC.
REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, well, I mean a couple of observations. Number one, it's hard to imagine how you could push the rejection of the Iran deal off the front page with something like this, but that has, you know, here is something that makes us closer to war in the Middle East. We could six months from now watch Iranian centrifuges spinning again. And yet that is not the topic du jour.
Number two, I sit on the intelligence committee. To my Republican friends and to Devin Nunes who decided that we had done enough understanding what the links might be with Russia and therefore closed the investigation, thanks, guys. Good work.
But let me make an observation, Lawrence, which is, you know, Michael Cohen, remember, Michael Cohen is an attorney like 20,000 others in New York city with a sideline in buying and selling taxi medallions, except that Donald Trump lifts him up and makes him Donald Trump's consigliere. So, I'm still -- it still not going in my head what Donald Trump said, you know, McCabe is Comey. Comey is McCabe.
You know, Michael Cohen is Donald Trump. And so at a minimum, Novartis and AT&T have some deep explaining to do. And by the way Novartis say oh, sorry, those contracts don't apply anymore. That's not enough. You know, forget about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is a guy who trades taxi medallions in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and yet he is getting these payments from two global corporations. They have a lot of explaining to do. And we haven't even gotten to the fact that now after months and months, maybe a year plus of asking the question was there a direct link, more direct than Russians showing up in the President's son's office, more direct than Russians reaching out to Papadopoulos and others, was there actually money that changed hands? We don't know all the facts, but now it appears that perhaps money changed hands. And that's profoundly -- let me put it this way. That races profoundly serious questions that we have not considered to date.
O'DONNELL: And Michael Avenatti, that's why the biggest headline coming out of your report today is the $500,000 from that company that has the backing of the Russian oligarch. That's what congressman Himes is talking about.
AVENATTI: Yes, Lawrence. But, again, I think we have only scratched the surface on this. I think -- I think that -- I know that there are additional details to come out relating to this account, not just inflows, but outflows as well. And I would encourage the congressman to put as much pressure on his colleagues as he possibly can to subpoena the bank records, the bank statements relating to this account. And we have got to get our hands on these SARS, these suspicious activity reports. And they should be made public, and the treasury secretary should be put under a tremendous amount of pressure to release them, and if there is nothing to hide relating to these SARS in the financial transportations, there is no reason why they should not be released for the American public to see, period.
O'DONNELL: Congressman Himes, any chance of your colleagues in the House of Representatives moving in that direction?
HIMES: Well, remember where we are, Lawrence. I mean, my colleagues and I'm in the minority, the Republicans are in the majority. And what we are talking about now is not, hey, why are American corporations paying the PRESIDENT'S consigliere huge amounts of money? Why are Russian oligarchs paying the president's consigliere a huge amount of money?
They're talking about, you know, possibly holding the attorney general in contempt, subpoenaing the department of justice. You know, sadly, the committee on which I serve for a year now has been given over entirely to the defense of the president of the United States. And so the question is now do any of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and there have been a few of them, do they say my god, at what point do we continue to attach our own reputations to a president who -- and again, let's wait for the facts to emerge, but who is getting these hidden payments from global corporations and possibly Russian oligarchs?
So my hope would be that Republicans would do exactly what Mr. Avenatti suggest and say let's explore this. This is, you know, a profound sort of undermining of our political system. But right now Washington under Republican control in the Congress is about defending the president.
O'DONNELL: We are going to have to take a break here.
Michael Avenatti, Mimi Rocah and David Corn, thank you for this discussion.
And congressman Himes, please stay with us. We are going to talk about that Iran deal. And we are going take a break here.
O'DONNELL: The President announced today that the United States would, in effect, withdraw from the deal the Obama administration negotiated with Iran to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The six other countries in the deal have pledged to maintain the deal so that means that once again the Trump White House will be besieged by lobbyists seeking exemptions from the new threat of Trump administration sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. In practice, the Trump administration might not end up enforcing any new songs against any companies doing business with Iran. It is simply reserving the option to do so, which always means a giant boom in the lobbying business and millions of more dollars flowing into the accounts of Trump influencers like Michael Cohen, who has been revealed tonight to be the beneficiary of millions of dollars in cash infusions from companies seeking to influence the president.
Back with us a member of the house intelligence committee, democratic congressman Jim Himes.
And congressman Himes, I have a feeling that what we're seeing here is the kind of -- the Trump tariffs story once again, which is a threat of tariffs and then an invitation to lobbyists from everywhere to descend on the White House to beg for exemptions. I mean, for example, Boeing has a $20 billion deal with Iran. That deal not going to be interrupted. Their lobbyists are going to successfully get the President to let that deal continue, aren't they?
HIMES: Well, we'll see. Last I heard the Boeing deal had been iced. And so all that business and the thousands of jobs associated with building aircraft for Iran are now going to probably go to airbus, a European company. And that's a shame. And I say that without any love for the Iranian regime. And I say that with a great deal of sadness. Because quite apart from the commercial element of, this Lawrence, you know, I'm old enough to remember a time when a president like Ronald Reagan who I think my Republican colleagues would hold up as probably, you know, the warrior against Russia or the Soviet Union at the time would say hey, I don't like anything that the Soviet Union is doing. I don't like their support of the Nicaraguan regime or their horrible activities in Poland and Eastern Europe. But what I can do as Ronald Reagan is at least take some of the threat of the incineration of the American homeland by nuclear weapons off the table by negotiating with the soviet union a deal. This is Ronald Reagan.
And now the President has increased the probability that six months from now there will be centrifuges spinning in Iran, that I will as a member of the intelligence committee spend mornings waking up worried about nuclear war with Iran and worried about the fact that tomorrow there is going to be people in my office telling me unless we go to war with Iran, we will be faced with an existential threat. For what? For what?
You know, his own secretary of defense, every one of our ally, every one of our enemies, the Russian, the Chinese and others said stay in the deal. But, you know, Donald Trump, who couldn't point to Tehran on a map if he was paid a million dollars to do so decided that the wise thing to do was to tear up that deal.
O'DONNELL: Congressman Jim Himes, I wish we had more time for it. But you know what happened to us once again tonight. Thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
HIMES: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Up next, Steve Kornacki, because it's primary night in America, at least in three states it of this.
O'DONNELL: It's primary night in America. Well, in four states it is anyway. Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and North Carolina. And that means it's time for us to hear from Steve Kornacki on what we know about the results and what we should be watching.
Steve, what happened?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, what happened, Lawrence, is Republicans in Washington, they are breathing a sigh of relief. They sounded the alarm in the last 72 hours, saying that this man right here, Don Blankenship, might be on the verge, they feared, of winning their primary for the U.S. Senate in West Virginia to run against Joe Manchin, the Democrat. President Trump of course even tweeted out, anybody but Blankenship. Well, Blankenship finishes a very distant third tonight.
Now, is that because that last-minute intervention suppressed the vote for him, or is it because maybe they were a little too anxious to sound the alarm and be a little extra cautious? That's one we can debate going forward. But Blankenship, the headline, a very distant third. That means that Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general of the state of West Virginia, will oppose Joe Manchin this fall. A Republican seeking to unseat a democrat in a state that President Trump won by 42 points.
One other footnote on this by the way. Blankenship, of course the backdrop for this that horrible mine tragedy in 2010. He did a year in jail for safety violations. How about this? Coal country important politically. How did Blankenship do in the county, Riley County, where that disaster was in the heart of coal country? Well, you can see there he lost almost two to one to Evan Jenkins, another candidate in this race.
So that is the headline out of West Virginia. Quickly a couple other races we can show you here. In Ohio, the governor's race, names you may remember very well here. You know, Richard Cordray ran the CFPB under President Obama, knocking off big, knocking off Dennis Kucinich, the former congressman, presidential candidate. He is now the democratic nominee for governor.
In Indiana, Senate primary to run against Joe Donnelly, the Democrat. This is the stake Trump won by almost 20 points. Mike Braun. That's the name to remember this fall. And then this ended up being the surprise of the night. We weren't talking much about it. A Republican congressman, Bob Pittenger in North Carolina, defeated tonight, Lawrence. And by a pastor, Mark Harris, North Carolina. This is a seat Democrats may now -- may be competitive in in the fall, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Steve, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Tonight's LAST WORD is next.
O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's last Trump world, Rudolf Giuliani. New gift to late-night comedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: $130,000 between a lawyer and a client and a client who's worth, you know, billions, is not, George, you know -- I don't like saying this. Not a great deal of money. At one point, three million is a great deal of money. That's the kind of money you would think of as settlement money.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Rudy says $1.3 million is the number you should be paid. So now we know how much it will cost to silence Giuliani, and Trump might have to do it because this weekend Giuliani screwed him hard. Rudy was so all over the place that Stephanopoulos couldn't even confirm that Trump and Stormy Daniels knew each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we do have a picture of them together. So the President, well, it don Rudy was all over the Well, we do have a picture of them together, so the President --
GIULIANI: It depends what you mean by met her, right?
COLBERT: OK. This is awkward. Rudy, when a man and a woman love each other very much, they exchange a special hug, and that makes a baby. And right after the woman has that baby, the man has an adult film actress spank him with a financial magazine. And that's -- that's what we mean by met. That's what met means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight's LAST WORD.
THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.
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